"Hello Malcolm."

"I didn't think I'd ever see you again."

"I was happy Malcolm. Life was..."

"Calm?"

Malcolm and Ruth 8.1.


"Malcolm... please. Tell me."

He avoided looking her in the eye. "Is it something you really need to know?"

She didn't reply. She wore a gently, mocking smile and it scared him but not as much as her eyes. Those blue eyes were filled with sadness and desolation and there was nothing he could do about it. "Ok, ok," he said finally, "that was a stupid question."

"Malcolm," she almost whispered, "what happened? Adam's gone and Zaf. And Jo... Jo's changed."

"I can't speak for Jo, Ruth. She's a friend. You can talk to her."

"But the others?"

"Adam died saving London from a bomb threat." Malcolm's throat caught. "We thought he would make it out of the car he was using to get rid of the bomb."

"And he didn't make it."

Malcolm sighed and slowly shook his head. "He didn't make it. Ros saw the car explode."

Ruth was thinking of Nico. "Poor Wes."

"Harry was the one who had to tell him that his father was dead. Broke his heart."

Ruth's face softened for a second. "Something like that... it would."

"That's it really. There's no point in going into all of the details. Ros was appointed section chief and Harry did a prison swap for Lucas. Lucas used to know Tom."

"Tom? Are you sure?" Tom was a painful memory for both of them, had been now for a long time.

"Yes. I'd know. I've been in this job for years Ruth. I knew Lucas when Tom did. You can trust him. He'll do the best he can for you and your family."

Ruth nodded. She knew Malcolm wouldn't lie to her. "And Zaf?" She was remembering Zaf's smile, the way he had gently flirted with her the first day on The Grid. She wondered if he had smiled at pretty girls who reminded him of her, if he walked away like she had asked him to. Adam had been a friend but in some ways Zaf hurt more. "Zaf didn't die too? Please tell me he didn't." She was almost begging now.

But Malcolm couldn't tell lies. Not to Ruth. "He was tortured and murdered by The Redbacks. They're a group who sell agents on to the highest bidder, but not before they have pumped them for information first." There was no way to soften the blow.

Ruth's face crumpled. She was crying. Malcolm put a tentative arm around her. "I know Ruth, I know."

They stood there in silence, his arm awkwardly around her as she cried bitter tears. "I should have been there for them. I should have been there."

"It wasn't your fault Ruth. It was never your fault."

"Why can't I believe that Malcolm?"

He never replied.