Title: Sweet Cups of Tea
Spoilers: 4.10 – please do not spoil in the comments past 5.2
Summary: Malcolm came home from the hospital with her.
Malcolm came home from the hospital with her.
She couldn't help but think about the relationship they shared as they walked down the street. She knew he was in love with her – she hadn't been able to ignore something like that. And he knew she didn't return her love. Not like that, anyway.
But they were friends, close friends, and they were both struggling with their own personal demons. It just seemed natural to ask him to come home with her.
They cradled sweet cups of tea and wished it was something stronger. They searched for something to say, something that would just skim along the surface, that wouldn't go any deeper than they could handle. They thought they would get through the night if they could just forget . . .
But Ruth couldn't help looking at where Malcolm was sitting. She couldn't help the shiver that went through her body when she thought about Angela sitting there. She couldn't stop thinking about Peter.
"It's over, Ruth." Malcolm's voice was low and hollow, and she realised that he was as haunted by Angela as she was. That he'd cared for her, looked after her.
"It's not over, though, is it?" Ruth looked at the ceiling. "Adam's been shot, and we're sure to fall under some sort of investigation again, and there's absolutely no way to tell who we can trust. It could be anyone who turns next. It could be you or me." She put her cup down, the tea spilling onto the table, and buried her head in her hands.
Malcolm crossed the room and sat next to her, pulling her hands away from her face with a force she hadn't expected. "What did Harry ask you to do last night?"
She looked away from him. "He wanted me to talk to Angela. He asked me to talk about Peter, to use the relationship we had." She looked back at him, wanting him to say something, to question or comment or judge. But Malcolm just sat there, waiting, his hands still holding onto hers.
"I hate how easy it was, Malcolm. I hate the way the words just spilled out like that. It was too easy for me, and she believed it. I never thought I'd become that kind of person."
She didn't notice that the tears had begun falling, that Malcolm had let her hands go, that he had drawn her towards him. She rested her head on his shoulder, and wondered who she was crying for.
He made her another cup of tea and watched as she drank it.
"Do you ever wonder how it got to this point?" He sat down next to her again. "I keep asking myself how I got here, how it came to this. But the answers just go in circles. Maybe we're not meant to be doing this, anymore. Maybe the questions are a sign that it's time to move on."
Ruth shook her head. "I don't know what I'd do with myself. I seem to have become my work and nothing else."
"You're more than your work to me, Ruth." Malcolm shifted uncomfortably. "I'm terribly sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I know that you don't share those feelings . . . for me." He pushed himself out of the chair. "I should go."
"No." She stood up and grabbed his arm before he could move away. "That was sweet, Malcolm. I appreciate it."
"I just wanted you to know."
She could taste sweet tea and she wasn't sure if it was his lips or hers. He moved slowly, carefully, and she couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. Did he see this as an opportunity, as something he had to act on? Did he feel guilty or used, knowing that she didn't really want him? Did he just want her to feel something?
He pushed her hair away from her face, and tucked it behind her ears, gentle and deliberate. He left his hands on her shoulders as he moved away; looking at her with an expression she couldn't quite read. She wondered if they had made a mistake, if it would influence the way they worked together in the future. Or maybe they would just pretend it never happened.
He pulled his hands away and shrugged, keeping his eyes on hers. "I'm . . . I didn't . . . well . . ."
"Malcolm." She looked away for a moment, taking a deep breath before turning back to him. "I understand."
He smiled at her as she walked into the grid. She wondered what time he had arrived, how he had managed to get there before she did.
"Did you sleep well?"
"As well as could be expected."
"There was word from the hospital. Adam's going to be alright."
"That's good." She paused, trying to find the right words. "Thank you, Malcolm."
He smiled. "I'm glad I could help."