Missy and 12


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One Crowded Hour: Spooks fic
Missy and 12
Title: One Crowded Hour
Pairing Ruth/Harry, Ruth/Mikael (my own character)
Word Count: 3900 approx.
Rating: M for a sex scene
Spoilers For all of s9

I see this as a real possibility in series ten in my more cynical moments. Please don't kill me. The title is based off the song One Crowded Hour by Augie March and to set the tone of this piece I suggest you listen to the song on youtube.


The shot went off and Ruth was crying. She could feel their eyes on her; they stood and sat immobile, watching as if she were some kind of invalid. She caught Dmitri's expression and it was one of misguided sympathy and relief. She knew what they all thought; the tears were for Harry and not knowing what you had till it was gone, or something rather clichéd like that. They must have thought her very selfish indeed. Really she just cared too much and knew Harry far, far too well.

"It's my turn," he'd said, "It's my turn," but that was a lie because she knew Harry, she'd been around him long enough to know he always had a plan, one where everyone else did the suffering and the dying. She knew it as simply as that.

Lucas North was dead.

It was funny. He'd turned traitor in the end but once upon a time he had found her and Harry and rescued them from terrorists, he had been there for Ros, tried to go in after her. He had been Ros' unadmitted lifeboat, he'd been good in a team even if she had never been a friend and he had been confused and angry, just as she was, never a true leader.

"He blames you Harry."

"Ruth, I don't have to listen to this."

"Yes and maybe you'll regret it one day. Eight years Harry! Eight years!"

"He's an MI5 agent. It's his job, it's in our training, things go wrong and we should expect it."

She felt sad that this was what he believed, but she nodded once and changed the subject. So she was expected to accept George's death as the job description? Exile a fact of the spying life and nothing more? Cyprus a dangerous dream? It was never as simple as that Harry. At least Lucas understood that.

She had tried psychology. "I want to speak to Lucas North! I want to speak to Lu- Lucas." She remembered the cold finality of "Ruth-"and the odd tenderness of the blanket and troubled calming at the needle and its injection. It had all spelt out death and pointless tears on the desk in the end. She shuddered once, got up and poured herself a cup of water. Dmitri stood at her shoulder, eager to comfort. She ignored him.


"I've been caught out this time, Ruth. A full scale investigation, an inquiry into every decision I've ever made."

"What will you do?"

He looked at her. "I want to retire Ruth. With you."

She shook her head. It could have meant anything.

"Dmitri and Tariq told me you were crying for me, at the shot..." He took one of her hands in his. "I think we both know you still love me."

She nearly wavered, looking into his deep, brown eyes, but then she remembered an old tug boat and no words at all of defiance or resistance from him and eight years, three years, how many more were to be the cost of loving him? "They were wrong."

He looked at her questioningly.

"I was crying for you and for Lucas, especially for Lucas, for George and for Nico, for the fragments I have left of any chance of a life."

"You cried for Lucas? Why? He deserved what he got in the end."

'I don't see it that way."

His voice softened. "It doesn't matter. What does it matter now? What matters now is the future." He leant in to brush his mouth against hers but she ducked and he got an ear instead.

"I do love you Harry but not in that way, not anymore. Too much has happened, there's too much to unpick and I need some time alone, time to grieve properly."

He was angry. "Always an excuse, Ruth! I'm not as inhumane as my job paints me. Give me a real chance, Ruth. Just one."

'I... I can't."

He looked like he would shout at her. She half hoped he would, but his shoulders drooped, the light in his eyes dimmed, his hand fell to his side. "Fine." He turned away and didn't look back.


She felt guilty about her parents and Blackpool and Paul and "a born spook," and George dying and never knowing all of her, about Jo and Ros and Lucas, about telling Harry no. She hadn't intended to let him catch her alone on the Grid but he had and she couldn't stop what was happening, she was as helpless as a caterpillar in its cocoon.

"I don't understand it, Ruth."

'Understand what?"

"How you love. How can you love me and yet still want to leave, how can you be so unkind as to take away any hope."

His words filled her with rage, hot and bubbling and terrifying. "How could you have let George die?"

"I had no choice."

"Just like I had none when I was shoved back here, expected to pick up where I'd left off, unchanged."

"It was your duty."

"Oh and you would know all about the word duty, wouldn't you Harry. It's eaten up so much of your life you think we should all let it do the same to us, then we'd be more like you. I can't be the person you think I am, not anymore." And then she had burst into angry tears and he had gathered her up into his arms and stroked her hair, kissed her salty cheeks, her lips and they'd had passionate sex on his desk, on the latest folders of the week.

The water sluiced down her back. George was next to her, one arm around her shoulders, the water dripping down his neck as he kissed her bare breasts. "You know, I think this is the most relaxed I've ever seen you."

Ruth didn't tell him about the vent in the bathroom, about how she stared at it each time she came in to have a shower, afraid of an unexpected visitor dropping in. She didn't tell him she had a bag packed for flight.

"I never liked water all that much till you taught me how to swim," she said, and that at least was something honest.

He smiled and kissed her mouth softly. "You learn fast." They were squashed awkwardly in the shower together. Nico was out with George's best friend Francesco.

"I... I can't marry you," she forced herself to say, hating herself for getting into this situation. George's sea green eyes were compassionate, understanding. She was surprised.

"I never said I needed that."

She smiled, peaceful. "No you didn't." She paused and then added, "you don't expect things, dear heart."

His face was radiant at the use of such an endearment. She was holding tight onto his hand now, almost panicked, and wouldn't let it go. "Do you blame me for loving two men at once?"

"Shhh Ruth. It's ok. We're both adults. Everyone has a past. I won't talk about Nico's mum, you don't talk about Him, whoever He might be. Companionship. That's enough."

She held onto his fingers tighter. "I want to move in with you."

He helped her up, turned the water off, passed her a fluffy towel. "That's all I'll ever ask for."

She dropped the towel and hugged him fiercely. "You're a brave man George." She thought his eyes glistened with more than just sunlight.

George gave her confidence, was patient, slow, unbending as an oak, gentle, kind, undemanding. He had taught her everything worth knowing about sex- what it was really all about. She wished she had said something when she had had the chance.

George had been nothing like Harry, nothing like Harry at all. There was none of Harry's hardness, his rough thrusts, none of that suicidal passionate mix of despair and euphoria. It had been a blessed relief. If she closed her eyes tight shut, maybe she could imagine Harry was George but they were so different and she wasn't that good at imagining.

Harry shuddered against her, came. "I'm so sorry Ruth. This shouldn't have happened. Not like this."

Always apologising, always dancing around each other, never satisfying. "It shouldn't have, but it did. What now?" This was the chance she had silently promised him.

"We start again. We trust each other again. You come away with me to a cottage and we both retire. It can work."

"I don't want a cottage." She could only see George waving against the rising sun as she nibbled on jam toast in the garden, watched him walk down the rocky driveway, ready for his morning swim. She could only see George's face in the cottage rooms, his smell on the clothing, on the furniture. It didn't matter that he was dead.

She was crying again, running blindly out of Harry's office and The Grid into fresh air. She ran all of the way to her bench alongside the Thames Embankment. She waited for him into the night, the blistering cold, but he never came.


When she returned to work the next day there was a letter on her desk.


I don't know what went wrong between us, why we always muck things up between us but please can't we at least try to have a relationship together? I love you, you love me so let's make it work ok? I think you should see someone about what happened in Cyprus, in England. I think you need to deal with the feelings you have about him quickly, before they start affecting your work as well as your love life. I need you Ruth. Please. Don't let me down.


That afternoon she read it again and again on her bench, simmering with yet more hurt and resentment. He didn't understand, would never understand, it was clearer now than ever before. She folded up his letter and put it inside her book of Blake poetry. She was startled by the man next to her speaking. He hadn't said a word since she had sat down next to him.

"Let us agree to give up love,

And root up the Infernal Grove;

Then shall we return and see

The words of happy Eternity.

And throughout all Eternity

I forgive you, you forgive me.

"Interesting choice but a good one. Tainted Love hmm?"

She stared at him, a little incredulous.

He proffered a worn hand. He looked professorish, probably in his fifties and there was a sparkle in his hazel eyes. "I'm Mikael. I didn't want to speak to you before. You were rather engrossed in some correspondence. I couldn't help but notice you looking rather upset about it."

She shook his calloused hand gingerly. "I'm Ruth and I don't go in for talking to strangers."

He laughed, a short bark. "Sometimes it helps Ruth."

She shrugged, and changed the subject. "Where are you from then? Eastern Europe?"

"Estonia. I studied here in England though, Sheffield."

"I never learnt Estonian, but I can speak Russian," she replied ruefully.

"Most people can't. I suppose I could teach you a word or two." There was grey in his black hair, and he had a crooked smile, but Ruth decided she liked him. He reminded her of George. Undemanding, patient, able to cut quickly under her thick skin and make her feel like she was a woman who was loved and nothing more.


George had met her at work of course, he had soon started sharing his lunch breaks with her, sharing in her silences, making little jokes, making her smile.

"I'll teach you Greek," he had said on their third lunch break together.

"I already know it," she said insulted, a little smug too.

"Not like a local."


He waited.

"I guess I'd like that."

She smiled at Mikael, a watery, weak one. He didn't seem to mind. "Troubles over love?" He asked, and his eyes turned suddenly serious. "It happens so fast doesn't it?"

She found herself opening up to the perfect stranger, in a way she hadn't done since Danny. "I loved someone and they died, but before that there was someone else. We were separated so I moved on but now he's back and I don't know what to do." What a vague idiot she sounded!

"Do you love him still?"

"I don't know. He makes me so angry and I cry all of the time. Is it something wrong with me? I don't know."

"But you still think about him, want to see him, want him to fill up your life?"

"I thought I did but... things happened. He let me down in a way my second partner never did."

Mikael tapped her poetry book. "And you can't give up love, forgive and just be good friends?"

She shook her head miserably. "Harry will never accept that."

Mikael was silent for a very long time. "It's not about this Harry though, is it? It's about you, what you want."

"I just want a bit of peace," she whispered.

He looked at her, confused probably by the depths of her sadness, her grief. "Will you be at peace with this Harry?"

She thought hard; slowly, guiltily shook her head. Mikael squeezed her hand, got up and went and brought her a coffee. They spent the rest of the afternoon talking about the weather and the latest political scandal and who wore what at the Golden Globes, about the benefits of wearing odd shoes. There was a lack of expectation.

"Didn't Lucas matter to you?"

"No. You did."

Hypocrite. I'm not worth more than him, more than Tom, Zoe, Danny, Sam, Fiona, Adam, Ros, Jo, Colin, anyone who has ever died in this sorry service. Love doesn't make me worth more than them.


She was the perfect housewife; watered the plants, played foolish games with Nico, gutted the scaly fish that she knew George brought home especially for her, opened the wine and polished the glasses, got down on hands and knees and scrubbed the villa tiles. George never knew how much effort it took to do even those things at first. In a land of sunshine, of paradise, she diagnosed herself with depression.

With each kiss on the cheek, each bear hug, each night spent in George's warm bed, things seemed better, happier, it felt less dangerous to feel joy and the depression passed. She would smile rueful smiles when she cooked dinner, drink a little too much wine when she was left alone for too long, but it was a life, a real life and in the end she had grown to love it.



You asked for a chance and I gave it to you. You didn't come after me two nights ago and I waited and waited for you. You never stopped me four years ago when I got onto that tug boat, never stopped me from throwing my life away. You didn't protest, didn't try to save me and why? I don't know. Because you're too much of a born Spook, because you thought I was too? I can't wait for you to keep up with me forever Harry. That letter of yours made me see things clearly. You want me to be someone I'm not, someone who I have never ever been. You've put me on a pedestal of expectations Harry, and I can't live with that anymore.

I want a bit of peace and quiet, a stable life, and yes once upon a time I could have shared that with you, but now there is so much grief, so much anger, so much hurt that it is too much. The thing is George died. George. Died. And maybe that never meant much to you, but it did to me. You and George became intertwined and I can't separate you both. I told Lucas there was too much to unpick and that was the truth. I'm sorry for being unfair to you Harry, for making you believe that there could be more between us. I was unfair to myself too. I lied to both of us and that makes me a rather despicable person. I'm sorry Harry, I'm so, so sorry.

I told you the truth when I said I needed a break, needed time, time to think. I understand that this will seem rather cruel to you, but I owe the time to grieve, to heal to myself. I want to be your friend Harry and I respect you. A part of me will always be in love with you. But it is time to give up the Infernal Grove of love, to forgive and to forget and to move on.



Is there any hope left for me at all? If I wait long enough, will you come back to me?



I honestly don't know. It's your choice. You can wait if you like, or you can find someone else. I have no claim over you unless you let me.



You'll always have a hold over me.


Ruth didn't reply to the last one. She felt like the worst kind of scum to be hurting Harry in this way, but she knew she had to let him go. There's wasn't a healthy relationship, she knew that now. He had been furious at her for days, and Dmitri and Beth and Tariq had watched with sceptical raised eyebrows. Then he had asked her into his office and burst into frighteningly fierce tears. She had comforted him as best as she could and then caught the bus home, alone. She didn't tell Harry about the transfer she had put in for another section, about the dinner she had had at a fancy restaurant with Mikael. There would be time enough to deal with those things later.


Harry would heal. She hoped he would forgive her, even as she felt his eyes on her back all the way off The Grid, smouldering and hurt.

Honestly, there was nothing she could do. She shrugged, sighed and walked faster. Mikael had invited her out to a concert and presented her with a bouquet of sweet smelling flowers. She was reminded of Jo in Little Women who had married the old professor and left her childhood beau, rich sweetheart behind in the end. Laurence had met someone else and the years had healed the wounds and Jo and he had been friends again.


"Did you tell him," asked Mikael.

"Yes. Hardest thing I've ever done. I feel awful."

"He'll understand why you did it if he's mature."

Ruth thought about George, about how Harry had never really understood him, George's relationship with Ruth (well he never bloody asked!), about Nico, about tears for Lucas and what that meant to her but not to Harry, about Zoe leaving, about Danny left in a hideous empty lurch, the horizon's stretching out forever without any hope at all.

George was smiling as Ruth managed a bit of half hearted free style. "Better Ruth. You're getting better." He swam out farther and farther from her until he was just a speck against the sun. If she shut her eyes and opened them she couldn't place him at all. It was as though he had vanished.


Harry was smiling bemusedly at Ruth. "You cried for Lucas? Why? The man was a traitor! To all of us."

"He did it for love. He was wrong and he was misguided but he was still in love and he was once honourable and that should count for something. Isn't that what Danny would have done for Zoe in the end? Isn't that what you did for me in trading my life for Albany?"

"It's not the same thing at all Ruth."

She looked him square in the eye. "Oh?"

"We're different. We matter more."

"Hercule Poirot wouldn't agree."

"Hercule Poirot is a fictional character. Grow up Ruth. We live in the real world."

"Lucas mattered to me."

He stared at her, blank faced, expressionless. "So?"

Mikael was still talking to her. His hand was on her elbow awkwardly. "Do you want to call it a night Ruth? I'll understand."

She couldn't sense George's presence at all and Harry was a sore memory, a bruise that hurt when pressed. Mikael was a bit of George and a bit of Danny and a bit of Harry at his best all rolled into one but most of all he was himself.

She liked the sound of that. Himself. No past, no history, no complications. Simplicity, innocence, humour. It mattered.

She touched his hand, told him it was ok, that she wanted to stay. She found herself laughing at a joke he made. Her head rested neatly on his shoulder. He drove her home. It was enough.


George held her in his arms. "One day I'll leave you, or more likely you'll leave me. Right now I'll treasure the warmth of you against me, your heart beating against mine, see Nico's smile when he greets you in the morning. It's enough Ruth. These things are enough."

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(Deleted comment)
Hi there! Thanks for the comment :) Out of interest how did you get to my lj?

No, s10 airs in September according to the reports. You've got time to catch up!

This is the fic scenario that I feel is most likely to occue in s10 unfortunately.

(Deleted comment)
Ah yes. Interest searches are painful sometimes :) You may be interested in joining the lj comm spooky_doings which is a general spooks comm. There are also specific Spooks actor comms including my own nicola_walker comm if you like Nicola alot :P

OH GOSH. I feel awful about spoilering Spooks for you :( Sorry!

Where are you up to with nine?

(Deleted comment)
I'm not sure either :/ I'll check my comm now :/ It should have come up.

Nicola Walker is indeed Ruth and the more on the comm the merrier! Friend away!

What episode are you up to in s9?

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