Disclaimer: Spooks is owned and operated by Kudos and the BBC. if they belonged to me, you'd have heard about it long before now. Words in italics are lyrics from the song Night Changes sung by One Direction and written by Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Jamie Scott, Julian Bunetta, and John Ryan.
A/N: This is my second story inspired by a One Direction song, which I hope you won't hold against me. It was the lyrics from the middle section that made me think of Harry Pearce and the story grew from there. This has been sitting on my hard drive partially complete for months and I finally decided I needed to finish something.
She's falling, doesn't even know it yet, Having no regrets is all that she really wants
By the time Ruth had moved to Oxford to read Classics, she'd been through a lot in her life. The death of her father when she was 11 was the event that led to her tumultuous teen years. Being sent to boarding school, her mother marrying a man Ruth didn't like simply because he wasn't her father, and the addition of a step-brother to her family which eventually led to a few days in Blackpool that she still couldn't quite forget were all enough to make her happy just to leave home and incentive enough to ensure she never had to go back.
That last summer before university she'd worked in a bookstore in Exeter. The owners were an older couple who became surrogate grandparents to Ruth. During her many hours of work among the dusty books she spent a lot of time talking and listening. Eventually she realised that the experiences of her teen years had taught her one thing and that was to live her life with no regrets.
It's what she said to herself when she applied for the position with Five, when she told her new boss, "Bugger the Home Office" on her first day at Section D, and when she hacked into the French DGSE for information on an Algerian man on her second day.
When Danny called to say that Harry had been shot, the tears surprised her as did the sudden rush of concern for Harry. As brilliant as she was, she didn't immediately recognise her feelings. It wasn't until later that day, when the tears threatened to spill yet again that she realised she felt more for her boss than just friendship. It was love. She'd fallen in love with her boss and not even known it.
Despite her 'no regrets' pledge, she'd pushed her feelings to the back of her mind and focussed on her work and on not letting Oliver Mace run roughshod over Section D while Harry was in hospital. Given the circumstances, she simply knew that she couldn't have a romantic relationship with her boss. After all, there was a difference between not having regrets and being foolish. Falling in the love with the boss was one thing, but pursuing a romantic relationship would definitely be foolish.
Everything that you've ever dreamed of, Disappearing when you wake up
Harry opened his eyes and sighed in disappointment because it happened again. He and Ruth had shared a lovely meal before taking a stroll through Kensington Gardens and then finished the night at little café, enjoying coffee and sharing a piece of rich chocolate cake. The fates had aligned to allow them a night of peace and quiet and Harry found himself on Ruth's doorstep. Her door was unlocked but not yet open as she leaned against the door with a smile on her face.
"Thank you for a wonderful evening, Harry," she said. Her right hand squeezed his left hand, the two hands having been entwined for most of the journey to her house.
"I'm glad you changed your mind about a second date," Harry said quietly. He was standing close to her, their torsos nearly touching.
Ruth smiled and reached up to kiss him. Right before their lips touched, Harry awoke.
He allowed himself a few moments of disappointment that his dream was just that, a dream, before he pushed the covers off himself and rolled out of bed.
As he prepared himself for the day ahead, he thought back to the other dreams, all variations on the same theme – a dinner date with Ruth that is about to end in a kiss.
As he was driven to Thames House, he debated the merits of gently pushing Ruth for a second date. He truly believed that they had the potential for a serious and meaningful relationship, the kind he thought was well beyond him. If he pushed too hard he may permanently ruin their chance. The alternative however, to not do anything, was something he knew he'd regret forever. Harry was known on the Grid for his decisiveness but in this circumstance, he was still lost.
As usual, he was the first one on the Grid, aside from the overnight skeleton crew. He stopped in the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea before booting up his computer and spending the next 30 minutes forwarding email requests to members of his team for their attention. He opened the blinds but kept the lights dim and it wasn't long before he was rewarded with the arrival of Ruth to the Grid.
Harry had perfected the art of watching Ruth while looking like he was otherwise occupied. He'd had a lot of practice in the past year since Danny's death, when he realized he was in love with her. As he watched her settle in at her desk he decided to take the risk and push her for a second date. He would make sure that no one on the Grid would know anything about the date. If that was what it took to have a personal relationship with Ruth, he would do so without a second thought.
As ideas for their date floated through his mind, Ruth glanced up and caught him watching her. To his delight, she gave him a small smile before turning back to her computer. That smile solidified his resolve. He resisted the temptation to call her into his office now; Malcolm was on the Grid and headed for the Tech Suite as Zaf and Jo were coming through the pods. Too many eyes and ears at the moment, but later, when everyone else had gone home, perhaps he and Ruth could escape to the roof. It was where she'd accepted his first offer for a date; maybe it would work in his favour again.
Going out tonight, Changes into something red
Her mother doesn't like that kind of dress, Reminds her of a missing piece of innocence she lost
Ruth arrived home after a hectic day on the Grid and relished the peace and quiet of her home. The only sound was the light footfalls of Fidget as he trotted down the stairs and meowed, hoping that it was time for kibble.
As she watched Fidget eat, she helped herself to a chocolate biscuit in an effort to take her mind off this evening. It was only yesterday that Harry invited her to the roof after a busy day. Given the beautiful weather and her desire to remain on good terms with him despite her refusal of a second date, she agreed to join him. After a few minutes of harmless office chit chat and a bland discussion of the weather, Harry surprised her by asking her to join him for dinner. He acknowledged why she turned him down initially and said he would do whatever it took to protect her privacy. He hadn't made any reservations because he wanted her to be comfortable with their plans. And she, despite her earlier refusal, heard a little voice in her head saying "no regrets." She'd ignored that voice when she refused his offer of a second date, allowing her fears to silence that inner voice that had guided her well thus far.
That was how she found herself getting ready for another date with Harry. Since she'd accepted the invitation her emotions bounced between fear at being the subject of further office gossip and exhilaration at spending more time with Harry away from the Grid. Standing in front of her wardrobe she mentally vetoed her clothing, one piece at a time. A sliver of red peeking out from the back of the wardrobe caught her eye and she moved away the dark clothing to bring it out into the light.
It was a wrap dress that she'd bought a few years prior, shortly after she moved to London. It was bought for a date that never happened with someone whose name she couldn't even remember. Slipping it off the hanger and around her shoulders, she fastened the buttons and stepped in front of the mirror. The dress still fit well, its V neckline dipping to a point just between her breasts yet still covering them completely. The sleeves were a three-quarter length and the skirt hit just below her knees. She momentarily wondered why it had been relegated to the back of the wardrobe until she remembered her mother's frank comment that the dress's tight fit and red colour would make people believe she was a prostitute.
The absence of her mother and the passage of time afforded Ruth the opportunity to look at the dress and herself with fresh eyes. Turning to take in the different views, Ruth smiled as she was reminded why she bought this dress in the first place. Completing the look with black boots and a simple silver necklace, she brushed her hair and added a touch of make-up before leaving the house.
She fidgeted nervously in the back seat of the taxi but as she exited the car a few blocks from Harry's place she took a deep breath. Their first date had been overwhelmingly wonderful for Ruth and she suspected this date would be as well. The short walk to his home helped to calm her as she quietly repeated her mantra.
Harry opened the door just a few seconds after she rang the bell and he ushered her inside quickly. Before he could say anything she kissed his cheek and thanked him for not giving up on her. The smile on his face confirmed for her that she'd made the right decision and would have no regrets.