New Year's Resolutions
Disclaimer: Spooks is owned by Kudos and the BBC.
A/N: This is a sequel of sorts to Christmas Memories, though you won't be completely lost if you don't read that story first. This is set after 4.6 and 4.7 (Fiona's death) isn't going to happen.
Saturday, 31 December 2005
From her desk, Ruth watched as Harry spoke on the phone with the Home Secretary. Harry was leaned back in his chair, a position of relaxation that he rarely exhibited on the Grid. Ruth assumed the men were speaking about the threat against the Home Secretary's life earlier this week that turned out to be the work of youthful pranksters and not terrorists bent on wreaking havoc. Section D quickly identified the jokers, who certainly weren't laughing when CO-19 visited their homes and arrested them for terroristic threats.
Moving her eyes from Harry's office, she glanced around the nearly empty Grid. Given it was half five on a Saturday night and New Year's Eve, no less, it wasn't at all surprising. Ruth didn't mind working on the holiday. She'd attended her share of New Year's parties in the past but the novelty had worn off. Jo and Zaf each had plans, as did Fiona and Adam, so Ruth was happy to be on duty and let them have their fun.
"Daydreaming on the job, Ruth?"
Ruth snapped her head to the voice and discovered Harry standing next to her desk, a smile on his face indicating his amusement.
"Oh, no, just marveling at how quiet the Grid can be when Zaf and Jo aren't here," she said, returning he smile.
Harry laughed. "Yes, and as a bonus I won't have to hear the word 'cool' in relation to anything not temperature related for the night," he said.
Ruth laughed as well. "By now you must know that he does it to irk you, and if he does it in the right circumstance, it provides the rest of us with some much needed entertainment," she said, attempting a straight face and failing miserably.
"So good to know my officers respect me enough to purposely annoy me," he grumbled.
"I might feel bad for you, Harry, except that I know you enjoy provoking Zaf at times."
"Yes, well, let's keep that as our little secret, shall we?"
Ruth nodded. "Of course. Was there something you needed?" she asked.
"Actually, I was wondering if you wanted to have dinner. I'm sure we can find someplace to deliver here since we can't leave the Grid."
"That would be nice. It's much better than my plan of heading to the cafeteria to see what's on special for the night. Do you have any place in mind?"
The phone on Ruth's desk rang and she looked at the caller ID. "I have to take this. Can you just order me something? I trust you to pick something good," she said.
Harry nodded and turned towards his office to let Ruth take the call while he mentally reviewed the restaurants in the area.
An hour later they settled in Harry's office, his cleared desk serving as a table. Several take out containers were open in front of them, each filled with a different warm and fragrant dish.
"Is someone else joining us?" Ruth asked.
"There's so much food!" she exclaimed.
"I'm not expecting us to eat it all but I wasn't sure what you liked so I ordered a variety and I'll put the rest away for leftovers," he said as he watched her survey the food. "Um, there is something you like here, right?"
Ruth smiled. "Yes Harry, you ordered well." She noticed the two bottles of wine at the side of the desk. "Please tell me you don't keep wine in your office as well."
"No, I asked the restaurant manager to send over a bottle of red and of white since I wasn't sure what you liked. I know we're on duty, but I don't think a glass of wine with dinner will be a problem, especially since it's so quiet out there." Ruth nodded in agreement. "Do you have a preference?"
"Red, please. I've never been a fan of white wine."
Harry popped the cork on the bottle of Zinfandel to allow it to breathe as they served up their plates. Harry had ordered from a nearby Italian restaurant so there was chicken alfredo with mushrooms, vegetable lasagna, and shrimp scampi as well as lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing. Ruth filled her plate with lasagna and salad while Harry chose the scampi and salad. After sitting in his chair, he poured two modest glasses of wine.
Other than Ruth's compliments on Harry's choice of food, there was little conversation for the next few minutes.
"I know I mentioned this before, but thank you for inviting me to yours on Christmas. It was the nicest Christmas I've had in a very long time," Harry said as Ruth blushed.
He'd gone to hers on Christmas Day, arriving shortly before lunch and staying until well into the evening. The day was spent talking, watching telly, eating, and taking Scarlet for a walk.
"I'm glad you were able to join me. It was nice to spend with someone I can have an intelligent conversation with. I love my mother, but since I don't follow the gossip rags or watch Eastenders, conversations can be a challenge at times."
Harry nodded in understanding. "Any plans for tomorrow and your day off?"
"After a nice lie in, I plan to pack away all my Christmas decorations and then settle in with a movie," she said. "How about you? Anything interesting planned?"
He shook his head. "No. I don't have any decorations to take down. The weather's supposed to be nice so I'll take Scarlet for a long walk. I could tackle a few boxes in the attic and see what I can get rid of but it depends on my mood." He polished off his glass of wine. "Do you have a movie picked out?"
Ruth nodded. "I think I'll watch ''Notting Hill,' " she said. "It's my favourite romantic comedy, even though the guy who plays Max looks just like Oliver Mace." She shuddered in response to the thought. "Have you ever seen it?"
"I don't think so."
"Well, Hugh Grant plays a guy named Will who owns a travel book shop and one day a famous actress named Anna comes into his shop. She later calls him for a date but things get complicated and they only see one another occasionally. Eventually she visits him in the shop and asks for a chance with him, but he turns her down because he's afraid of what will happen if things don't work out."
Harry watches her closely as she tells the story, and has the feeling that she's talking about more than just a movie.
"Anyway, he meets up with friends to tell them what's happened and his roommate asks him if he's a daft prick for turning her down. Will realizes he's made a mistake and races across London to a press conference Anna is having before she leaves town. Will takes a chance and, pretending to be a journalist, he asks Anna a question and she realizes he's changed his mind." Ruth finished her wine before continuing. "It's relaxing to me, I guess."
Harry smiled at her admission. "Time away from the office should be relaxing," he said, and he caught Ruth's eye. They held eye contact for several moments before Ruth looked down, overwhelmed by the situation. Harry opened his mouth to speak but was preempted by the ringing of his phone. A quick glance at the caller ID let him know the call couldn't be ignored.
"It seems that the phone is not our friend tonight," Harry noted.
Ruth nodded and smiled in understanding, then stood and picked up a takeout container in each hand to place in the fridge.
The next few hours passed quickly as the skeleton crew provided responses to requests for information from other sections of Five and the Met, though thankfully nothing major developed.
At half eleven, Ruth received an email from Harry, asking her to meet him on the roof in 20 minutes. She finished up her work and grabbed her coat before heading up to the roof.
As she stepped through the doorway, she noticed Harry was already there and that the night was warmer than expected. She approached the parapet and stood beside him, close but not touching. They looked over the Thames and watched as thousands of revelers crammed onto the riverbank to watch the fireworks that would be starting shortly. She noticed Harry bend down and reach to his left. Before she could ask him what he was doing, he'd straightened up and handed her a flute of champagne.
"Happy New Year, Ruth," he said as he tapped her glass with his own.
Ruth overcame her surprise quickly. "Happy New Year, Harry," she responded and sipped the sweet liquid. "Ooh, that's wonderful."
"Ruth, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about a resolution I've decided on for the New Year."
"You surprise me, Harry. You don't strike me as the type to make resolutions."
He cracked a slight smile but he turned to look out over the city. "You're not wrong; I can't remember the last time I did. I've resolved to develop a better balance between my professional and personal life." He sipped his champagne before he continued. "I've come to realize that in my dedication to the protection of this country I've allowed my personal life to become non-existent. I don't wish to compromise the safety of this country, but I have to allow Adam and others to take on a larger role, for my own sanity."
Ruth continued to look out over the Thames, unsure as to what Harry was trying to say.
He turned to Ruth and placed his hand on her elbow so she would turn to look at him. "Ruth, I'm starting to think about my life after I leave the Security Services. What will I do, where will I go, will I have any friends or companions in my life. Were I to retire tomorrow, well, what my life would look like doesn't bear discussing."
As they stood there, neither quite knowing what to say, the fireworks started, signaling the arrival of 2006. After watching a few minutes, Ruth turned back to Harry, his hand still on her arm.
"Remember over dinner I was telling you about the movie 'Notting Hill'?"
Harry nodded in response.
"Well, That last scene has been running through my mind for the past couple of days and I wasn't sure why, because I've not watched the movie in ages. But after spending Christmas with you and hearing you talk of your resolution, I think maybe I'm meant to make a resolution as well."
"And what resolution would that be, Ruth?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"To be a little more brave in my personal life and not just assume that everything will end badly, even though I think it will," she said.
"What might end badly, Ruth? What do want to do that requires you to be brave?"
After several moments of looking at one another, Ruth reached over and set her glass on the wall before raising her hand to Harry's cheek. When he tilted his head slightly into her hand, it gave her the confidence to reach up on her toes and plant a gentle kiss on his lips before settling back down on her heels.
Harry responded by setting his own glass on the wall and wrapping that arm around Ruth's waist, pulling her close.
"It seems, Ruth, that our resolutions may be complimentary," he whispered before dropping his lips to hers for a second and much longer kiss.
When they broke apart in need of air, Harry pulled her close and wrapped both arms around her. "We should be able to leave the Grid within the hour. Would you consider spending the day with me? I'd be happy to entertain you at mine."
Ruth pulled back slightly out of his embrace. "I think that's an excellent way to start the year. Let's get back downstairs and wrap everything up so we can leave and get started on this new year." She picked up both flute glasses with one hand and held her other out to Harry.
"Careful Ruth, I might think you want to come home with me tonight," he said with a chuckle.
"That doesn't sound like a bad idea, Harry. I'm game if you are," she said, enjoying the mix of shock and excitement on his face. Perhaps keeping her New Year's resolution would be easier than she expected.