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Ruth was cold. The empty office that surrounded her was filled with ghosts. Everywhere she looked there was a memory. That was all that seemed to register as she stared at Harry's empty office. She could almost see him sat at his desk rolling his eyes as Towers came up with some nonsense or other on the other end of the phone line. She shook her head as she remembered Juliet berating him over something or the look of delighted surprise she got whenever she had barged in unannounced. Smiling sadly she realised he was gone. It was never going to happen again. Closing her eyes she forced her game face on. There was no way she was going to dissolve into a useless heap of tears. That could wait until Nick and the others were asleep. Catherine and Graham were going to need her now.
"Mum." Ruth sighed heavily as she heard the teenager behind her. "Mum?"
"Hey." Ruth sniffed as she realised maybe her game face wasn't as good as she thought it was.
"It's ok." She held out her arms as the teenager almost fell into them. "It's ok."
"No." Nick sniffed as she hugged him. "No it isn't. I seem to have a talent for loosing parents. It must be me. If I had never come to live with you and Harry." Ruth bit her lip as she pushed him away to hold him at arms length.
"Don't you ever think that. You must never ever think that." Ruth sniffed. "Harry loves. Loved you. I love you. This was due to work. It was nothing and I mean nothing to do with home. With our family. Us."
"But Gray and Terri."
"Bad people took them. Ros and Harry got them back. They are fine."
"They were taken. Catherine and I, we were followed. Charlie was with us. He's only a baby."
"I know." Ruth smoothed his hair away from his face as she fought the urge to cry. "I know. But it was all to do with who we are. Harry and me, not you, not Catherine and Graham. It was us. Jools Silvitir and Ilya Gavrik were after us. "
"And now Harry is dead. My dad is dead."
"I know they are." Ruth almost crushed him to her as he cried.
"No, Harry is. He's been more like a dad that my dad."
"Ssh." Ruth kissed his hair as the boy cried. "I know, ssh." Ruth could barely keep the sobs from escaping as she realised Nick was right. He had lost another parent and there had been nothing she could have done to stop it.
"Malcolm?" Zoe watched as the technical officer smiled. "What is it?"
"That was Harry."
"What?" Zaf crossed the room towards him, Danny sleeping soundly now he seemed to know his dad was back on the Grid. Catherine's eyes snapped to her godfather as he spoke.
"That was Harry. It was Gavrik that fell. He's been trying to get hold of Ruth but she isn't answering her mobile and neither is Catherine."
"Shit." Catherine sighed. "It's in the car. I didn't think."
"No problem." Calum hugged her as she rested her head on his shoulder. For a moment Zaf wondered if he had missed something between the new boy and the boss' daughter. He couldn't help but smile as Malcolm's words sank in.
"Talk about nine lives." Tariq smiled.
"Yes, indeed." Malcolm glanced at his wife as he answered the younger technical officer. "He also said that Jools Silvitir is still a wanted man. He shot Gavrik, hence the fall from the tower block but he's vanished into thin air. Anyway, Harry and the others are on the way back to Thames House. He suggested that we all make our way home. There is nothing to be done here today."
"But Jools." Zoe folded her arms.
"Isn't likely to try anything today. Not now the police also have a murder investigation to deal with. It is a tad difficult to pass off a death as suicide when the body has a bullet hole through the head. He ordered everyone home until tomorrow morning." Malcolm reasoned as Sarah pulled a face. Tariq nodded.
"What about Ruth? Her and Nick still think Harry is dead."
"I know." Malcolm sighed. He glanced at Sarah as the Pods opened.
"Go home." Adam stated. "Ros and Lucas have already gone off duty. So have Erin, Beth and Dimitri. Alec has probably headed towards the nearest pub. Clear off." He laughed as Harry pulled a face.
"Wouldn't you? If you lived with Juliet?"
"Fair point." Adam conceeded as Sarah handed Tariq his leather jacket.
"Dad." Catherine sniffed as Charlie yelled his name and ran towards him. Calum stepped back as he realised everyone had seen him holding the younger woman.
"I'm fine. Hello, Spud." Charlie laughed as Harry picked him up. Catherine shook her head slightly. "Go to your mum." He handed the toddler to Catherine as she sniffed and wiped an eye.
"You scared us."
"I know." Harry smiled slightly, his attention firmly on the closed office door. He knew Ruth was in there with Nick but he had no idea what he was going to say to her. Catherine sighed as Calum squeezed her shoulder.
"I'll take this one home." She kissed her son as Harry nodded. "Tell Gray what has happened. Bloody quiet Christmas. As if!" She looked around, unsurprised to see the place was now almost deserted. Calum seemed to be the only one of the team that had hung back. She couldn't help but smile. Ruth had mentioned he could be a bit brash and insensitive but she didn't see that. She glanced at him as Charlie held out his hands for the technical officer. "Cal? I could do with a lift."
"Sure." He smiled as he swung the toddler into his arms. "Nick?"
"I'll get him. Dad, you and Ruth need five minutes on your own." She stepped past him as Harry frowned. He knew his daughter was right. Not for the first time he wondered when she had become such a grown up. Shaking his head he glanced at Calum. The new boy seemed to have an affect on his daughter and grandson. At that moment he couldn't bring himself to worry about it.
"Where the Hell is Jools Silvitir? That's what I want to know." Ros stated as Amy toddled towards her followed by her 11 month old brother.
"Me too." Amy answered as Ros raised an eyebrow. Sometimes she forgot just how much the children picked up.
"Amy." Lucas shook his head. "Where's your bear?"
"There." Amy pointed at the brown teddy bear Ruth had bought her.
"Can I see?"
"Daddy!" Amy sighed dramatically before heading towards the other side of the room to get it. Lucas smiled as he sat next to Ros on the sofa.
"She's a mini you."
"Oh don't wish that on the child." Ros rested her head on his shoulder, utterly exhausted. "I still want to know where he is and why he didn't kill Harry."
"Yeah." Lucas paused as the toddler and her brother returned.
"Fire escape." Ros sighed. "External fire escape. He must have got on and off the roof that way." Amy held the toy out for her dad to inspect as James yawned. He was as tired as Ros was. Ros opened one eye before scooping him into her arms. "Bed, little man."
"Oh and he's just like you." Lucas smiled as his wife turned to him. "Thinks he can turn those puppy dog eyes on me to get his own way."
"Usually works." Lucas smiled at her as Ros rolled her eyes before heading towards the baby's bedroom with her son. For a moment the enormity of the day seemed too much. Harry had nearly been killed. It had been closer than normal this time. She remembered all the times she had stood beside him as they had faced death and won. When Juliet had tried to kill her, when he had called her his outstanding officer. She closed her eyes as she remembered him shooting Arkady, going after the people that had tried to kill Zaf and Adam once. The way he was when her father escaped from prison. Shaking her head she realised she had no idea how Ruth must be feeling, or how she would feel if it had been Lucas. Closing the bedroom door she put James in his bed and watched him fall asleep. It was then the tears began to fall. Not for what had happened but for what might have.
"Ruth." Harry stood in his open office doorway as Nick slipped past him. The teenager looked dumbstruck as Harry raised a finger to his lips. Nick nodded before hugging him once and smiling as Harry whispered his sister was waiting for him.
"Ruth." He tried again but Ruth's eyes remained fixed on the half empty decanter in the corner of the office.
"I said I'd come back." He stepped closer.
"Stupid, stupid man. Christ now I'm talking to myself." Ruth shook her head. "Tring, here I come."
"Ruth." Harry rested both hands on her shoulders as she buried her face in her hands. "Ruth, I'm here."
"You died." She refused to turn to face him. "You died. You left us. Again!"
"No." He physically turned her as she dissolved in his arms. "No, Jools shot Gavrik. I'm ok. I'm here." He kissed her hair, oblivious to the face Calum was ushering his children and grandson out of the Grid. "I promised I'd always come back. Ruth?" He tilted her chin so she had to look in his eyes.
"I know." She mumbled before his lips brushed hers. "Harry?"
"Take me home." She smiled through her tears as her hands finally found his face. It was then he realised his own eyes were wet with unshed tears. He nodded once before kissing her again.
"Your Christmas present."
"Harry, trust me. You're alive. That's enough." She smiled as he shook his head. A second later he dipped his hand into his jacket pocket.
"I never had time to wrap it. Sorry." He watched as she raised an eyebrow. "When I promised forever,"
"Harry." She let her eyes fall to their linked hands as he slipped the eternity ring into her hand "I."
"It was Mum's." He shrugged as she nodded, "It's engraved" He turned it so Ruth could see the simple word engraved inside. 'Always.'
A/N That's all folks. Thanks for the reviews. Please let me know what you think. One final review would be great.