One Night Only?

Chapter 2. Disclaimer same as earlier.

Two months earlier Ruth had barged into his office and asked him if he wanted a drink. Precisely two minutes later Tariq had called them both to his computer station eager to report the missing money Nightingale had squirreled away for some as yet unknown purpose. The drink had been forgotten as the next part of the drama unfolded. Yet, they were now sat in his office drinking malt and chatting as if they'd never been apart. Harry couldn't help but smile. Ruth had always been an enigma to him. The woman was always just on the peripheries of his vision, not quite within reach.

Ok, so it wasn't the George or some swish night club, but it was ok. Ros had gone home, Lucas was tracking down Sarah and everyone else had gone home to their families for the night. The only two souls on the Grid, with no where to go and no one to be with. Harry still felt guilty for that, but at least they were talking now. The night had started like most on the Grid. Another late night meeting with the JIC and other non descript pen pushers that Harry loathed. Yet it was his job to defend section D's honour to the Home Secretary and the members of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Then back to the Grid to read and sign off the paperwork left on his desk and maybe if he was lucky catch five minutes with Ruth.

Tonight however, the pattern had changed. The Pods wooshed open to reveal Harry had returned to an empty Grid. Ruth's computer monitor remained on but there was no sign of any of his team. Sighing to himself he made his way to his office at the back of the Grid, believing Lucas and Ros had left him a mountain of paperwork to sign off. Within five minutes of his return, the office door pushed open and a coffee was placed in front of him by a very familiar hand.

"What's this?" Harry asked, not quite daring to look up. Ruth smirked.

"That's why I'm the Intel Analyst. Its Coffee, a drink made traditionally with hot water, milk and coffee granules. That's Kenco, none of the office muck this time of night."

Harry looked up smiling.

"Thanks, I need this. But if you think that's you getting out of that drink you promised me you're wrong."

Ruth immediately blushed.

"No, um , well I was making one and saw you come in and well, um we could. Oh I think I'll shut up now."

She made to leave the office and recognising again that she was running away Harry rose from his seat.

"Ruth, I was just teasing, I didn't mean to upset you. Look the coffee's great. Can't those reports wait? Its getting late. Stay and drink yours here. We never did get chance to talk, never mind go for a proper drink."

The look in Harry's eyes was almost pleading, but there was something else there too, it was the same look Ruth had seen on his face that day on the dockside. Silently he was begging her not to go. If she did, she knew he'd never ask her again. With a shy smile, she walked across to the old red sofa in his office and sat down.

"Well, if I'm staying, I hope that coffee is not the only thing we'll talk about."

Clearly relaxing, Harry sat down next to her and smiled. Things were slowly getting easier between them. The conversation flowed and coffee was soon replaced by the single malt Harry "happened" to find in the desk drawer. Talk went from work, the nightmare Nightingale was turning into and onto how Ros seemed to be coping or not with Jo's death. Ruth confided that she'd been to see her Mum since her return, sadly for Ruth the Alzheimer's that her Mum had developed was now so advanced that she didn't recognise Ruth. Harry held her hand briefly as Ruth tried to compose herself at the memory of her Mum frail and disorientated in the Nursing Home. Her composure failed and Harry's heart broke a little more as he gave up her hand and just held her.

"Why did I let you go? Why on earth did I let you go?" He murmured into her hair as her sobs subsided. Ruth pulled away slightly, looking into his eyes. " You had to, it had to be done" she pulled herself up and gently kisses him. The same chaste kiss as on that cold dockside all those years ago.

Harry stood, pulling Ruth up with him, all he really wanted to do was keep kissing her and see where it lead, but not in his office. He knows his Ruth is too special to him for a quick fumble on an uncomfortable settee.

"Come on, lets get something to eat. It must be hours since either of us had food"

Ruth isn't really thrown by the change in atmosphere or conversation. Harry knows her well enough to realise that she can cope with his sudden changes of direction. Her brow furrowing as she realises the time.

"Harry its gone 11 - there's no where to buy any food."

"Chip shop's open" Harry states as if he goes there most nights and Ruth realises he probably does.

"Ok, chips it is" Ruth smiles "Oh and Harry? I think you just got your second date."

She takes his hand and the pair walk to the Pods. Seems Ros was wrong. Harry doesn't just walk taller after a haircut, its when he's got Ruth by his side, that really matters.

Present day:

Lying in bed with Ruth snuggled up next to him, Harry Pearce really believed he was the luckiest man alive. That walk to the chip shop and then walking Ruth home had made him feel like a teenager again, as had the kissing on the doorstep as she tried and failed to get the door unlocked. He smiled at the memory. That had been the first of many dates, not all to the chip night hadn't been the one night only he'd feared, she hadn't run from him again. So far they'd managed to keep things a secret from all the team. But he had a slight suspicion Lucas and Ros knew something. But nothing had been said.

For all the late night talks and self recriminations by both regarding young Nico and George, Harry was genuinely happy. Ruth too it seemed, even though he'd missed tonight's dinner date due to the emergency JIC meeting he'd been called to. She understood, he knew that. Just as he was lying there tracing circles on her bare arm, a sleepy Ruth interrupts his quiet thoughts.

"Harry, I love you, but please go to sleep!" And for once Harry did as he was told.

Authors note. Please review!