Missy and 12

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By the Bridge: Spooks fic
Missy and 12
dweomeroflight
Title: By the Bridge
Pairing: Harry/Ruth
Word Count: 2000 words approx
Rating: M
Notes: A companion piece to One Crowded Hour which goes in the other direction



"The way I see it, life is a pile of good things and bad things.

The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa the bad things don't always spoil the good things and make them unimportant."

- The Eleventh Doctor, Vincent and The Doctor, Dr Who Series Five.


1.

Ruth rested her hand on the Embankment edge. In the old days she would have sat on hers (and Harry's) bench and read a book or some poetry, but she'd gone away, had to go, to leave, and now that bench held more painful memories than otherwise. She never tried to escape The Thames itself though. It had taken her away, and brought her back in the end. It had character.

Jo wanted her back on The Grid; for Harry's sake was the unspoken implication. Ruth had been cruel. As Jo moved her lips all Ruth could remember was, "Ruth, I'm trying, I'm trying, with all my limitations which you know better than anybody." Her reply had been cold, acerbic. "Yes, well, thanks for that. Thanks for trying." Trying never brings back the dead Harry. She didn't know what she wanted as she watched Harry walk away. But she didn't tell Jo that. She listened and put the information Jo gave her away for later.

She had Jo to thank for "I'm sorry." Simple and the truth and perhaps a kind of truce.

"I'm sorry too Ruth- sorry for everything really." Sorry, what good is sorry when George is dead Harry? There was nothing else left though and they'd lapsed into silence and eventually Harry had turned and gone back to sort out The Grid, Bibi and a nationwide oil crisis. She resented the fact that The Grid was the only place she knew, only place she could run to, only place she could call home.

2.

After work, she'd stand on the Millennium Bridge and watch the ripple of the current. If it was quiet she'd close her eyes and remember Cyprus; remember her and George and Nico laughing, splashing each other in gentle waves, remember inane conversations over bottles of red wine, George looking love drunk into Ruth's own tortured eyes. George had known, he'd always known there had been someone, something else, but his philosophy back then (well at least before the frantic flight to England) had been to ask no questions; the past was the past, let sleeping dogs lie.

She brushed a tear away remembering. She couldn't go back. George's family had never approved of Ruth (not Greek enough!) and his death had been her fault. They were understandably angry. She didn't even have Nico anymore, though with the kind of life she led, it was perhaps for the best. She had to break the ties while he was still young. After all, she could die tomorrow and then Nico would be as damaged as poor Wes.

Still, she wished she had more to remember George by, their time as a family together by. There were a couple of photos taken on an old Polaroid out the back by the pool, and a simple silver necklace he had given her when she had first moved in. That was all she had left.

3.

Ruth would stand and people watch. Grief was an inexplicable thing. Sometimes it was tears, more often a cold, empty ache that never really went away, and sometimes her face would light up at the sight of a man walking across the bridge towards her, only to crinkle and collapse as George's image flickered and merged with that of the incoming stranger; George approaching a trick of her too deceptive mind.

Once, she saw a body floating past her. She did the correct thing and phoned the police and they came to the usual suicide verdict. They even thanked her for her time. She was shaking the whole way home. It had been George's face, puffy and swollen and waterlogged in The Thames. She had picked up the phone to ring Harry but put the phone down after one ring. He'd think she was mad with grief. It was a weakness.

Ros had a hardened exterior. Ruth began to take notes.

4.

"Would you like to go for a drink sometime?" she had asked Harry breathlessly. Her horoscope for that week had been to take the initiative. Besides, Ruth was tired of conjuring up the dead in unexpected places.

They'd settled for drinks at The George. Ros had exploded and Lucas was imploding (even if Harry refused to see it), but it seemed as a good a time as any for some time off.

Harry had smiled, his hand reaching out for hers across the table. "It's good to see you fighting Ruth. You're more like you're old self again." She pushed out a fragile smile and he'd paused, suddenly serious. "You can't mourn George forever." He looked at her meaningfully.

She picked up her wine glass and flung it in his shocked face. "How dare you?" she whispered. He blinked once, twice, bewildered. "This isn't working," she said calmly, got up, went outside and stepped into a taxi without looking back.

Why had she been so mad at Harry over one little sentence? She knew the answer deep down. She'd loved two men, but one more passionately than the other. She would always love Harry more than any other man and that was why she had had to mourn George. It made up for her own guilt. Why couldn't Harry see that and understand?

5.

Beth had flung up her hands exasperated. "Give him a chance Ruth, just one... for all of our sakes." They were sitting on the lounge in Ruth's flat, eating dinner.

"I didn't know my personal life was so important to The Grid's well being," Ruth replied bitterly. Beth had shut up fast. At the time Ruth had dismissed Beth as a young, immature, blonde, know it all idiot with entirely too much interest in other people's relationships, but now Ruth was not so sure.

"Sometimes you have to give a man a chance to show you who he really is." It had been a year ago now, but the words were still branded in her mind. Ruth remembered how foolishly stunned she'd been by that Harry outburst, eyes boring into his back as again he'd walked away. She hadn't given him a real chance then or now and maybe Harry deserved that chance.

6.

Lucas had jumped and there was an enquiry and Albany had been a fake. Ruth had discovered with gut wrenching tears that she could feel again; that there was a limit to grief, to playing the Ice Queen. Ros had had a lonely funeral. All that time Ruth had been jealous of Ros' calm control. Suddenly, it occurred to her that perhaps Ros had envied Ruth in her own way. Maybe she had sensed the soft happiness between her and Harry and tried to destroy it because Ros herself had never had that. Was that what Ros had been telling them both at her funeral? Was she saying Here in this English countryside fall in love again. I am sorry.

"I thought I'd find you here," a low voice came from behind her shoulder.

She spun around too quickly. "Put Tariq on to me to spy?" she said harshly, and instantly regretted it.

Harry's face fell. "I'm sorry Ruth. I knew I'd find you here because I've seen you walk this way before. I can leave if you want me to."

It would be so easy to insist yes, to push him away again, but that wasn't choice, that was cowardice. Danny had always loved Zoe, right up to the bitter end when she had loved another but he had stayed and kept on keeping on. That was real bravery. She must be brave. Like Danny and like George who had had his whole life ripped apart for love of a secretive woman who he'd always known never really loved him with all of her heart and soul."Stay," she managed.

Harry looked at her sideways, unsure of wether to leave anyway. "Ruth- I followed you here today because I need to talk to you. Things can't go on this way."

She interrupted him softly. "I know Harry. I've been thinking... about us, about love, about being fair."

Harry's eyes were pained. Ruth knew that he must think that she was going to tell him it was over all together. Well it wasn't. Not yet. She looked back over the water, and then cursed herself again for a coward and forced herself to look at Harry. "It's not what you think Harry. I have been... very angry, for a very long time now. At you. At myself. At what I," she hastily corrected herself, "at what we do. I thought I had to punish myself for..." her voice caught, "for George."

There was hope in Harry's eyes. "But you don't think that anymore?"

"There's no use in pretending it away. I've always loved you Harry, and always will and George... I loved George in my own way too, but it was different and he is dead and no matter how much I wish otherwise, you can't bring the dead back to life. So what's left? I start again. I'm changed. I'm not the same woman I was before I left for Cyprus, but I'm older, perhaps a bit wiser and I know enough to know that no matter how far I run, how matter how much I push you away, I'll always see myself with you."

"Oh Ruth." His eyes were filled with tears.

"I love you Harry Pearce. I can't promise you that this will be easy. I can't promise you that there won't be fights, be hard moments, but I want to give you the chance you've always deserved. I want us to try again."

He smiled, and pulled her into his arms, her face buried in his warm coat, protecting from the harsh Winter winds. "Ruth I love you so much. I know it will be hard and I thank you for your honesty and I'll do my best because I love you, have loved you for years."

She began to laugh through the lump in her throat. "Oh Harry- you sound like such a wet blanket, all stiff and formal."

"I thought you wanted it that way."

She looked up from his coat into his brown eyes. "I thought I did too, but I was wrong. Can you forgive me?"

"Can you forgive me for George?"

She looked into the river, over the bridge, at the crowds of people walking past, but the ghost of George was gone. Oh- he'd still hurt and she'd always remember, but Harry would be there and he would be gentle and kind and this time she'd give him a chance to understand.

She gave him the answer he was waiting for. "Yes Harry, yes. Always."

7.

It was Valentine's Day; tacky suffocating everywhere Ruth turned. They were at The Bridge again, but this time Ruth was not alone, would never be alone again. Harry was gazing into her eyes, the flowers he had given her crushed between them both.

Her mouth sought his out and they kissed. It was as if a heavy burden had fallen away.

8.

Ruth remembered something her father had told her before he died. "Happiness is hard enough to keep in the long run. If you turn your back on it, it runs away, like light fading into night. If you put your expectations up too high, it trickles through your fingers like water, impossible to recapture. There's too much bad feeling in the world, too much pain and sorrow in this world to afford to push away happiness Ruth. Hold onto that."

So when Harry asked her to move in with him, she didn't hesitate to say yes.


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