dweomeroflight: (Nicola and Peter cheeky)
[personal profile] dweomeroflight
Title: Where All The Lost Spooks Go
Fandom: Spooks
Characters: Ruth/Harry, set just after 5.5
Word Count: 2100 words
Rating: PG
Notes: So I wanted to write an AU fic where all of the best Spooks met up. I thought this would be light hearted but I forgot about what writing Ruth is like. I never thought I'd write for this fandom again AND NOW I AM WRITING A MULTI PART FIC. WHAT EVEN, WORLD? Oh, how I've missed this!

Part 1/Chapter 1



Her skin tingled. The coat sat all wrong; baggy and too long in the arms, tight at the hips. The ash black matched Ruth’s mood and the persistent London weather. (An obvious metaphor for the day of parting if ever there was one). A fresh and sharp scent stuck in her throat and for a moment Ruth gagged.

*
“Sweet tea. That’s what you need.”

Even as he said it, he was already opening cupboard doors, fingering their insides with long fingers (She has memorized the way he moves. Committed his mannerisms to memory. In a new kitchen and with a new name, will she replicate the scene; fingers splaying, eyes soft? Will she dispense of irritations with a well chosen aphorism, wear out the carpet with her pacing? With the passing of time and in love with a ghost, will she morph into him?)

She smiled at him and he smiled at her but even then they didn't dare speak. He swirled the sugar in the mug with such precision and she was transfixed as the granules made sticky patterns against the teaspoon before sinking and dissolving as though they had never been.

*

She thinks that she won’t see anything beyond salty tears but the bobbing of the uncertain junk tips her close to an edge. Reflections in the water or in slate clouds- either way she cannot look away.

Steel. Cold. Ice. Slipping. Chips of blue. Blonde shards. And she had never, not once, said sorry. And yet... yet... she had been there. In Ruth’s house. Switching coats.

Was that a kind of apology?

*

They almost bumped noses in the hotel and both of them, both of them had wanted to close the gap and press their mouth and their body (No- but that was another age and she will never wear that hippie shirt again).

*

She can’t stop replaying, like her mind is some kind of broken record, the way she swallowed her fear and put both hands on his cold cheeks and pressed her lips to his just to make him stop talking because it is better to leave it as something wonderful, something unreal and fantasy tinged and unsaid, rather than dropping words by The Thames for strangers to pick up and to examine.

And because it has been unsaid, because the thing that they have grown is glorious and sacred in its great silence, she unclasps the necklace, pauses as it sits in her hand.

Each stone feels like a facet, a part of her. Ruth. Ruthie.

She counts to ten, holds her breath and figuratively lets the water close over her head and rebirth her essence.

The necklace trails through her fingers and plops down, down, down...

*

Zaf sat beside her, drained by the cement harshness of the quay, waiting with her till the end, with newfound respect etched in the lines of his face. (Or had it always been there, and she had never spared a glance or a thought for the Techie who had dared to take Danny’s place?)

“I’ll keep smiling, Ruth,” he said so soft she had to lean in and dip her head to his shoulder. “Every time I see a pretty girl, it will be for you.”

She tilted her head and her chin hit the edge of his coat. There was a quiet fierceness in his expression, and a cold conviction. (Had he taken lessons from Ros?).

“I mean it, Ruth. All of those pretty girls will be a shadow against the flame.”

“I... you don’t have to...”

She trailed off. Something inside Zaf had snapped. It wasn’t meant to go this way, his taut muscles whispered to the dawn sky. She wasn’t meant to leave. I believed... we all believed... Ruth, you were a bloody heart, a gaping wound, and you reminded us how to feel.

*
The necklace crests a wave and vanishes.

Ruth remembers spinning a garnet ring as Harry made her lips curve and bread rolls dance.
And she remembers eating at a restaurant, painfully awkward, because it was them and it was so hard to swallow, manage a knife and fork and articulate. (Articulate what? Had she ever known?)

*

She knew the others worried that Adam’s expression remained one note. She never did.

At night she’d twist a silk scarf between thumb and forefinger. Fiona had gifted it to her one birthday. She’d hold the thin strip and remember the way Fiona always smiled over Adam’s shoulder.

Even now, a smile over Adam’s shoulder, until he turned around and she was gone.

*

A man drops a rope ladder from the side of the large ship. The junk has pulled up alongside it in a cough of petrol.

“Come on, Ruth.”

She gapes. This thing is to get her to Greece? She knows she was public service and could expect nothing but cut backs but arriving on a Grecian shore in this ship? She’d sink before her feet touched the shore, and no, despite what Jo and Zaf thought, she was no miracle worker. She couldn't walk on water.

The man notices her hesitation and extends his hand.

“There’s been a change of plan.”

Panic sets in. Is this some elaborate ploy of Mace’s? Is she headed to jail after all- or back to being a pawn in someone else’s game? (When has she ever known the layout of the chess board? Should she have tried harder to find a strategy or did that make her too much like them?)

*
“Ruth,” Harry said, hands fidgeting on the desk. “I-"

“I know,” she whispered, but this time she didn't have tears on her cheeks. They’d dried up after Danny and a bomb and countless, countless nights-

She slipped her hand across the desk till they sat over his, smiled in reassurance. “I’ll talk to Adam.”

*

“Sylvia Plath said her best piece was Ariel,” she whispers, teetering on the edge of the junk.

The man laughs.

“I always liked Lady Lazarus.”

Her shoulders sag in relief and she steadies herself against the rope ladder.

*

“There’s two passports here, Ruth,” Adam said, voice clipped and smooth and precise. “Use one to get out of here... your real one and then the second one will be your new identity in Greece.”

She flipped the second one open. Jane. She didn't want to be a Jane.

Adam smiled painfully.

“Jo has been re-reading the classics and thought the name would be ironic with a thin slice of optimism.”

Ruth was leaving Gothic storms and old heritage buildings and the love of her employer behind. Could she find a Mr Rochester in Greece? But then, Jo was still young and naive and fresh. How long would it take for that lustre to fade?

“Tell her thanks.”

“No need. The entire team is working together on this one.”

“Adam,” she whispered, “I was so angry at first that you weren't Tom-"

“Hush,” he said, stepping forward and folding her in his arms. “It’s different now.”

“Keep him strong and safe for me,” she said, and he didn't need a name to know who she meant. “And Adam...”

“Yes?” he said, eyes dancing, yet still hurting. “Look after yourself. Please. For Wes at least.”

The shutters came down.

“You know I will, Ruth.”

Was it Fiona reflected in the glass of the window and in the hall mirror as he turned away?

*

She steadies herself against the rope ladder and then climbs on to the larger boat. The man catches her wrists and helps her on to the deck.

“We’re cruising down The Thames,” the man says conversationally. “Then we’ll drop you for Heathrow. I have your ticket,” he says as she leans against him in surprise. He waves it in her face. She takes it and slits it open. It is addressed to her in Adam’s writing. She glances at the name.

Jane Briar.

Hi, I’m Jane. Jane Briar. The syllables make her mouth form alien shapes. (What will it take to unmake and remake a person?)

*

They sat together in the restaurant and somehow Ruth still couldn't find the right words (they had buried themselves deep within the soul and she was afraid to claw them out).

“New York or Paris?”

“New York.”

What a joke. New York was never her kind of city.

“Where’s your sense of romance?”

“Where’s your sense of Atlanticism?”

A quick and pert put down. Easily said, impossible to reclaim.

*

The man (he said with a straight face that his name was Bob Ewing and he liked hopping out of multiple showers) got off the boat on an embankment just out of Central London. Another man sat in a cab reading a newspaper, parked front on to the small beach inlet.

“How’s your lady love? Does she still insist that she eats men like air?” ‘Bob’ says through the taxi’s unfurled window.

“Yes,” the man in the taxi replies, flinging the paper into the back seat. “She dyed her hair red this week.”

They climb into the Taxi.

The drive through London’s congested traffic is largely silent. Ruth is glad. She is relieved to finally have time to sit and to think. (She will have the rest of her life to sit and think).

“Will you miss it?” the taxi driver asks as they pull into Heathrow.

She contorts her face into a smile and pushes days of automatic code breaking and file sorting and ‘born spook’ out of her mind.

“No.”

*

She was stuck in a room with the mad woman trying to lie her way out. The irony. Her. Ruth. She doesn't like to lie (and in this job!)

She said her name was Angela and she was angry. Very angry. But to construct a fantasy around Princess Diana, to construct a tissue thin web around your dead partner? The only way to combat that kind of madness, was to fight back with your own.

Peter. Blackpool. It had happened but the pattern had been laid out wrong for Angela.

Ruth remembered that blossom of first love along the pebbly shore, falling against a pylon with Peter, laughing. And he was her half brother and forbidden. (This said a lot about her- that she always chose forbidden loves).

*

‘Bob’ comes with her into the airport and makes sure she gets her ticket exchanged. She doesn't look at it as she flings it in her bag. He passes her a plastic bag.

“There’s a bathroom. Change your clothes and leave the bag in the cubicle second from the right.”

In a daze, she does as she is told. As she pulls the plain working dress on, and sheds Ros’ jacket and her own skirt and top, she wonders if someone (Adam?) will reclaim her things. A tear slides down one cheek. She sees Harry holding the skirt to his face and burying his silent grief in what remains. But no, she is wallowing, for Harry would never lose composure like that. Would he?

When she comes out, ‘Bob’ walks her to the terminal. She looks at the flight name. LFT3450 to Los Angelos.

“What happened to Greece and someplace sunny?” she murmurs.

“Didn't you check the ticket? We don’t want anyone following you,” ‘Bob’ says.

He waits in companionable silence with her until she is able to board. He watches her, eyes hooded, as she steps closer to the plane and she has a moment of panic, the last sliver of her old life left behind as she walks through to the tarmac. With a shake of her head, she tells herself to dispose of ‘Bob,’ a man she never knew, and at last she is on the plane, her handbag stowed beneath her feet. (They had let her keep that at least).

As the plane takes off, she tries to ignore the pressure building in her ears and in her heart. At least she has a seat to herself. Small graces.

As the plane skims through white clouds, Ruth sees them all, just for a moment-

Tom imploding. Zoe drowned and born again with Will. Danny sacrificing himself for Fiona because Zoe was gone where he could never follow. Fiona killed, Colin killed, Sam vanished. And what would the others be doing now? She imagined Ros as ice cold as ever and Harry swirling a glass of liquor, convincing himself to go around to Ruth’s house- no, her old house- to look after the cats. She saw Zaf and Jo meeting after work, speaking in hushed voices. There would be tears. There will be no tears on Malcolm’s face. He too, understands the tears shed on the inside. For Colin swinging in the woods.

There is a lump in her own throat.

Are Zoe and Will happy? Tom and Christine?

Is it possible to go on intact?

She gets up to go to the toilet. She will touch up her face, force a smile, stare at her reflection in the plane wall and convince herself that she is fine. She is fine.

She is halfway to the back of the plane when the hand touches her shoulder. She forces herself to remain steady at the heavy pressure on her shoulder blade as a name unfurls like a banner or a declaration or an accusation.

“Ruth.”

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