Disclaimer: Spooks or MI:5 depending on the country you live in, belongs to Kudos Film and Television and not the tasty chocolate covered granola bar of the same name.
Author's Note: This is the first time I've tried a story like this. It isn't quite as straight forward as most stories. I based it ever so slightly on a song that I've loved since 1992 called Stay with Me by Shakespeare Sister. A somewhat obscure song, but the video can be found on YouTube. This is a Harry/Ruth story. I have one little tip of my hat to the university I'm currently attending. The official name of the university is California State University at Fullerton.
Stay with Me
By B-D Banzai
Harry looked at his watch and sighed to himself. Could it really be 23.15? He rubbed his hand wearily across his face and looked out at the desks on the Grid. Last to leave again, he thought. His eyes automatically flicked to the desk in the corner, its light turned off and computer silent. "I should just have the whole thing removed," he thought to himself. The work station seemed cursed. Nothing good ever happened to anyone who was assigned the desk. The latest occupant to have the desk was dead; just another closed file stashed away in filing cabinet in the basement. Looking out to the desk from his office was a habit he couldn't break and each night he was reminded that a part of his heart was as dark and empty as the workstation. He shook himself mentally while pulling on his overcoat, and left Thames House heading out into a cold, London winter night.
"Did you see the car?"
"Watch his arm!"
"Call for an ambulance!"
"Hey Mister…can you hear me?!"
Harry walked along the river deciding to walk home from Thames House despite the lateness of the hour. He knew his route would take him past her flat, but he felt a deep melancholy he couldn't shake. Why was she in the forefront of his mind this evening? It wasn't as if there was anything special about the day or night. It wasn't an anniversary or a birthday. The day wasn't exactly filled with dire consequences or life and death decisions. It was an ordinary Thursday. So why did he find himself standing outside a "dead" woman's flat on an ordinary Thursday at half past midnight, pondering why there was a light on in the kitchen?
"What is his condition?"
"Critical. Closed head trauma causing intracranial pressure. We may need to do surgery if the pressure doesn't decrease. The fracture of the radius on his right arm is the least of his problems right now. He's very sick. Are you sure there isn't any one we should call?"
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring of keys. He fumbled them and then dropped them on the sidewalk. He reached for the keys, wincing in pain as a sharp twinge ran up his right arm. Slowly he slipped the key into the lock, turning it as quietly as possible. He wasn't armed. He didn't have so much as a can of mace. It was probably squatters taking advantage of the empty home, Harry thought, but he didn't think there was anything left to steal in the flat. It had been cleaned out and her things had been put into storage long ago. Suddenly his life seemed inconsequential when it came to protecting his memory of Ruth. Nudging the door open, he peered inside just enough to see into the hall. A cat dashed by Harry's feet and out the open door. "Shit," he whispered to himself, trying to steady his nerves while watching the cat dash down the street. When he looked up again, Ruth was standing in the doorway.
"No. You will find her."
"What are you doing here at half past midnight, Harry?" Ruth stuck her head out the door just enough to call for her cat who came dashing back to the flat. Apparently she didn't want to be out in the cold after her race for freedom. Harry on the other hand remained rooted to the spot half inside the door way and half outside on the steps. Ruth took him by the hand and pulled him inside so she could shut the door.
"Cal State Fullerton, Department of Psychology, how can I help you?"
"I need to speak with Professor Rachel Jones. It's urgent."
"One moment." A short pause.
"Dr. Rachel Jones speaking."
Harry could feel his whole body shaking as he tried to process the things that were going on around him. He knew Ruth shouldn't be here; couldn't be here. She was gone and had been gone for some time. Yet here she was, in her house as if nothing had happened.
"Harry, I'm begging you…please sit down before you fall down. You look terrible," Ruth said as she took him by the elbow to the sofa and helped him sit down. He wiped his sweaty palms on his trousers. His throat was dry and he didn't trust himself to speak. He just kept staring at Ruth as if she was a ghost that would vanish before his eyes. He rubbed at his right arm as it throbbed deeply along with the accompanying pain in his head. His head jerked up when a tall, dark hair man made his way down the stairs carrying a baby in his arms. Ruth took the baby and cooed at him. "Look James…Uncle Harry is here." Harry gulped audibly.
"How long has he been like this?"
"Forty-Eight hours, give or take a few hours. You made remarkable time."
"And his prognosis?"
"The longer he's out…the odds of a full recovery drop."
"I'll stay with him.'
"I'm glad you came. You will make the difference."
"James?" Harry looked intently at Ruth and the strange man who was gently holding Ruth around the waist. She reached over and placed the back of her hand on Harry's forehead.
"You must be ill. This is the only explanation I can come up with as to why you are here in the middle of night, looking at us as if you have never seen James or Daniel." Daniel gave a small wave to Harry as if to acknowledge that he was there.
"Hello Harry," Daniel said, taking the baby back from Ruth. "Are you sure I can't get you a drink? Anything?"
"No…thank you. I seem to be having some sort of delusion," Harry said, standing up suddenly. Ruth reached for Harry's hand and pulled him back down on the sofa. Daniel took the baby back upstairs, leaving Harry and Ruth alone. "This is going to sound strange, I know, but bear with me. How long have you and Daniel been married?"
"You were there. Two years ago in May. You don't remember any of this? You are James' godfather, Harry. Something has happened to you." Ruth could see beads of cold, clammy sweat starting to bead on Harry's forehead. "I'm going to call an ambulance. We have to get this sorted."
"No…wait, please. Something is wrong. You don't live here anymore. You haven't been here for over six months." Harry clutched his head in pain. Ruth tried to pry his hands away from his head so she could take a closer look to see if she could figure out what was wrong with him. He didn't look injured, but why was he acting so strangely. "We faked your death, Ruth," Harry continued, ignoring Ruth's attempts to placate him. Ruth gasped in shock. "I identified a body as yours and for all intents and purposes, you are dead."
She held his hand, stroked his hair, and spoke softly in his ear. She reflected on what the doctors had been telling her as she kept her bedside vigil. The longer the coma lasted, the less likely for a full recovery. She was exhausted from the flight, having caught the last plane leaving for Heathrow out of Los Angeles and yet she couldn't leave his bedside. She willed him to wake up.
Ruth looked at Harry as if he had gone completely crazy. "I'm taking you to hospital, Harry, right now. Daniel can watch James. It is obvious you aren't well and you aren't making any sense. I'm right here, Harry. I've been in this house the whole time, with my husband and my baby." Harry looked at her sadly.
"What happened to us?"
"Us? You mean after the first and only date? There was no us, Harry. There was one dinner and then you never asked me out again. A few months later, Daniel started at GCHQ, asked me out, and one thing obviously led to another. I left MI:5 before James was born. You should know this." Ruth looked like she was about to cry and Harry was already heading to the door.
"I'm so sorry. I've always known you would be happy. I shouldn't have come," Harry said, painfully reaching for the door knob. He was in tears as he let himself out. Ruth rushed out the door, chasing after him, not caring that she was in her robe and slippers.
"I can't let you back out on the streets in this condition! Please, come back. What if you get hit by a car?"
"I will always love you, Ruth."
"Stay with me."
Some of this story was based on a song called "Stay with Me" by Shakespeare Sister.
The lyrics go like this:
If this world is wearing thin
And you're thinking of escape
I'll go anywhere with you
Just wrap me up in chains
But if you try to go out alone
Don't think I'll understand
Stay with me
Stay with me
In the silence of your room
In the darkness of your dreams
You must only think of me
There can be no in between
When your pride is on the floor
I'll make you beg for more
Stay with me
Stay with me
You'd better hope and pray
That you make it safe
Back to your own world
You better hope and pray
That you'll wake one day
In your own world
Coz when you sleep at night
They don't hear your cries
In your own world
Only time will tell
If you can break the spell
Back in your own room
Stay with me
Stay with me