dweomeroflight: (pensieve)
[personal profile] dweomeroflight
Title: Where All The Lost Spooks Go
Fandom: Spooks
Characters: Ruth/Tom, set just after 5.5
Word Count: 2155 words
Rating: PG
Notes: Chapter Two- Ruth takes on the second stage of her AU post 5.5 journey



She turns around to stare into the face of the man who still somehow, despite everything, has a face as open and honest as a summer sky. Her breath catches with emotion.

“I thought... we all thought-"

A smile skims across his lips. The stoic expression that made him such a good spy (easily convincing, easily dependable, yet a person erased into shadow) reaching the steady blue eyes.

“It’s good to see you again, Ruth.”

He extends a hand and like one in a dream, she eases into his smooth hand shake. Her lips form words (So many words to choose from. Thoughts crash like the waves that rose to swallow him and batter him against some other sandy shore). And then someone touches her shoulder.

“Excuse me. I need the toilet.”

She swings around, lips still parted, and stares at the idiot who has interrupted- well, interrupted what exactly?

“Excuse me,” the man repeats, irritation lacing his clipped Cambridge accent. “I. Need. To. Get. Past.”

Tom puts an arm about Ruth’s shoulders.

“Sorry,” he says lightly (as though he had never left. As though he had never stopped knowing how to diffuse bombs.) “Just two friends who haven’t seen each other in awhile.”

And then he is steering Ruth to the other side of the plane.

*

“I’m giving you a second chance, Evershed,” he said on a bench by The Thames.

She wrapped her fluffy white coat about her protectively as he gave nothing away.

“I could take you to the cleaners.”

“Please Tom. I love my job. I love working here. Don’t tell Harry.”

Powerful blue eyes weighed her up (just as they did terrorists and mad men and other liars). They had searched her soul and been the first to know the truth.

He nodded. Just once. The slate grey sky reflected his mood. It didn't matter.

*

Tom stops at his own seat.

“This is me.”

So many questions threaten to tumble out and to choke her. Why are you here? Where’s Christine? Are you happy? Is this planned or an unlikely happy accident? She asks nothing. Just nods as Tom summons the air hostess.

“I’d like to move seats. Next to this lovely lady,” he says, indicating Ruth. “We’re old work colleagues.” He smiles in his steadily British, good natured way. “We’d like to catch up.”

The hostess raises an eyebrow but nods under Tom’s piercing gaze.

“Follow me, Sir,” she says after glancing at Ruth’s ticket.

Tom squeezes into the seat beside Ruth and dismisses the air hostess with a perfunctory hand wave.

“Thanks. That’s all.”

Quick to assess. Quick to dismiss. Quick and effective judgement. The first and the best born spook.

On the head of the King, let all the sorrows lie.

*

“Breathe, Ruth, breathe,” she told herself over and over. Her eyes ached from looking at everyone in fluoro orange uniforms and her head ached from numb fright. She tried not to think about her cat, alone, as a sticky end claimed him and London both.

What was her purpose? What should she do? (No. What could she do without a thing to analyse?)

She tried to ignore Tom’s clenched jaw as he weighed up her current state, noted the sharp scissors in the wall. Even in her own fear, she spotted Tom’s nervous tic beneath the steel-hard control. How long till his own ticking bomb blew?

And Harry? Harry wouldn't listen.

Tom cleared his throat, bringing her back to reality.

“When the lights come back on, you’ll be the most important person in this room.”

Pull through for me, is what Tom meant, don’t lose it for me. You and me, Ruth. Both made of sterner stuff. If not both born to lead, both born to this profession.

*

Her hand reaches out to touch his shoulder, shies away again, as if afraid the man before her is a ghost, as insubstantial and as wish-coated as memories and old, reoccurring dreams.

“We...I've missed you so much.”

Her voice cracks.

Tom still doesn't really smile (but then he never had back then either).

“Me too, Ruth. It’s good to see you.”

“What happened?” she manages. “Where did you go? Christine?”

She trails off as she looks into those blue, blue eyes. The dreadful emptiness that had claimed them under ocean waves so long ago was gone.

“Christine and I laid low for a time. Then we moved to LA and started our own private business.”

“In banking?” she asks with a slight laugh. She couldn't imagine it.

“Christine wouldn't hear of it. Private contract work. Finding people who don’t want to be found. Recovering stolen goods. Off shore analysis for spy networks. That kind of thing.”

Ruth tries to stop her lips from quirking.

“Successful?”

“Moderately,” Tom says without batting an eyelid. “Offices in LA, New York, Barbados, The Cayman Islands, and even a shabby back office in London.”

Ruth swallows. That’s why he and her are here after all.

“Was it...?” she closes her eyes for a moment and wills away tears.

“Not Harry,” Tom finishes her sentence for her. “Adam. He always was a forward thinking man. A worthy replacement.”

Ruth nods. She won’t tell Tom about Fiona and the silk scarf and the feelings Adam locked away, and then played out in a dangerous cocktail of casual sex and self pity. Something is crushing her chest right where her heart sits. A Harry shaped mark imprinted on her soul.

*

“Harry, I’m worried about Tom,” she said by The Thames.

“So am I,” he admitted, hands almost sitting over hers on The Embankment railing.

“What do we do?” she asked, gazing resolutely at the back of Westminster.

“Do? Do? It’s the job, Ruth. He has to sort it out for himself.”

She swallowed back a reply. He’s a human being, Harry, and one of us and loyal. Doesn't that count for something? Doesn't that mean we should try?

“Stand by me on this one,” Harry said.

She threw bitter words away, buried them deep down, and nodded. What did she know about it? She was no Section Head.

*

“So we go to LA and then?” she asks. “Will you let the team know?”

“No messages. You know that Ruth. Right now, Adam’s organizing your funeral.”

Cold. Brutal. But Tom, as always, knew the right things to say to his team. Dependable, steady, perennially calm Tom. She would listen and follow wherever he piped, he, so secure in plodding forward.

And yet? She can’t help but close her eyes again at his words. She sees them all- around the freshly dug grave- few people in attendance. (She, more than any of them, had always been the sum of her job) And Harry?

Harry laying flowers on an empty grave, on their metaphorical black pit of an ending.

*

Zoe and Danny stood shoulder to shoulder by the shore. They told Ruth about it afterwards. The way there had been no words, little thought even, as the choppers circled and two speed boats crested the salty waves.

Ruth hadn't moved from the cottage. Over and over, Harry fell before her eyes as Tom’s rifle bullet tore through the flesh, Ruth’s hands in her mouth. In any other circumstance it would have been Tom to pick the Team up and put them back together. Not this time. Danny steered Ruth to the ambulance crew and a shock blanket as they bundled Harry into another vehicle bound for hospital.

“It will be all right,” he whispered, though his own eyes were dark with shock and hurt.

Her world had shattered. How could anything ever be all right again?

That night, Danny took Ruth to his apartment with Zoe. They drank wine out of tea cups. Danny told Ruth about the odd stick symbol message that Tom had left on the sand as his parting shot.

“I used to love drawing pictures in wet sand,” Zoe said dreamily. “Back then it was all a game.”

Ruth thought about her own childhood, about her and Peter tripping as they raced each other into the waves, splashing and calling across distances.

She wondered if all three of them stood on the beach- her, Danny and Zoe- would they see the ghosts of their pasts lining the horizon? Would all three see Tom as a smiling ghost on cloud edges?

*

She doesn't speak again; not when they disembark from the plane. Not when she shows her new passport and gives her name as Jane Briar. Jane Briar. She doesn't speak when Tom leads her out of the airport and into a waiting taxi. Still she doesn't speak, even when the female driver looks in the mirror and Ruth sees a wisp of platinum blonde hair and piercing, cool eyes.

So, Ruth thinks numbly. Enter Christine.

*

“Tom, is she right for you?” Ruth asked one day, the two of them staying back late on The Grid; Ruth because she didn't like to face the yawning loneliness of her small house, Tom for his own inscrutable reasons.

“Ruth?” he said without looking up from a file.

“You know who I mean.”

She couldn't help but sound accusing. A CIA operative and a glamorous beaurocratic stereotype. It felt like betrayal.

“I don’t speak about my personal life.”

“But I’m asking,” she pushed.

He pushed the file away and frowned.

“I’m tired. Goodnight Ruth.”

She held back tears as he exited the pods. She thought back to times sitting next to each other on London benches. Had she imagined his look, that suggestion of something more?

What did it matter now?

*

“Ruth. Long time no see,” Christine drawls as she zips through crowded lanes.

“Yes.”

“You’re very quiet. Though I remember thinking that it wouldn't take much to rub the shine off your ‘fresh start’ attitude.”

“Christine,” Tom says. It is a warning.

“Sorry,” she murmurs. “The whole thing was terrible. What they did to Tom and I.”

Silence hangs like a curtain. What you and your people did to Tom and I, Ruth hears in the warm taxi air. She tries not to think about Harry banging against the desk, some hidden beast unleashed, because Tom Quinn had been brought down by the CIA, no, worse yet, by love for a woman.

“It’s terrible what happened to you. Tom told me about it. The sacrifice you made. You are an exceptional woman, Ruth Evershed.”

“I never felt exceptional. I don’t feel exceptional now.”

“You can’t beat yourself up forever,” Tom says, twisting around to frown at her from his position in the front passenger seat. “At some point you have to turn your back on the service. Forget about them like they’ll forget about you. Bury it somewhere deep and dark.”

“You didn't forget, Tom,” Ruth says quietly. “Otherwise I wouldn't be here.”

She saw Christine wince and felt the taxi veer to the right as the woman lost control for a fraction of a second.

“I was there longer than you. There’s hope for you,” Tom says, his face a mask. “Christine and I are too bound up with that old life. You don’t have to be.”

“Don’t be a fool, Ruth,” Christine adds. “Harry Pearce chewed you up and spat you back out. There’s no debt to be paid. You don’t owe him loyalty. Not anymore.”

Not like Tom.

*

She lied her way into his hospital room; her heart beating the entire time in staccato rhythm.

“I’m having his baby,” she told an attendant without batting an eyelid.

It’s true, a voice whispered inside. Both married to the job. The sum of both of us in secret hand shakes and codes on paper.

She slipped him a note in Morse. Things were unraveling like a badly stitched tapestry.

*

The taxi zipped neatly into LA airport. They’d been driving for hours.

“What’s going on?” Ruth says, fear gripping her.

“Shaking off any one interested,” Tom says.

Mace hangs between them like an ogre out of a fairy story.

“Where are you taking me,” she whispers.

“To see an old friend,” Christine smiles. “See you soon, Tom. Later, Ruth.”

Tom gets out of the taxi and re-enters the airport. Ruth follows. Her world is spinning and she walks as one in an Alice in Wonderland dream. Within an hour, they are at another terminal.
The announcement blares and cuts through Ruth’s scattered thoughts.

“Passengers on the LX5460 to Santiago please make your way to the desk. Calling all passengers for flight number LX5460 to Santiago.”

Another destination. She feels like a grain of sand flung roughly from shore to shore. Where will it end?

Tom smiles at her. She smiles shyly back as Santiago echoes in her head.

“It will be all right, Ruth,” he says in an unwitting echo of Danny.

Despite everything, (or is it because of everything Tom has been?) she believes him.

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