Just rewatched S9, E1, and this conversation popped into my head. I won't be going canon from here, since this never happened. I own nothing of MI-5 and am borrowing some characters for a while for entertainment only.
"Yes, Ruth, I can picture it. I disagree with your notion that we couldn't be more together. In fact, that's the very reason I gave, what I now realize had the tone of a command … marry me. In my mind, and with my limited expressions, I have pictured what it would be like for us to be together. And yes, in some ways it's an extension of what we do here, but that's the point. It extends us, our time together, our ability to talk about what clearly concerns us outside of the grid … in short, it enlarges our universe a little bit.
"So, no I don't agree that we couldn't be more together. We absolutely could. I took your rejection of my marriage proposal to mean that you don't want to spend more time with me and that it's personal. I know professionally, you take your work seriously, so that's the only reason I can determine. And I'm personally sorry that you won't even consider it, for I think it would have made both of our lives better on a daily basis, and even perhaps our working together better, although that was not my primary intent.
"My primary intent was to express to you how much you mean to me. I think in my limited way, in my usual way of giving orders and not explaining myself, I may have forgotten to tell you those obvious things … that I love you, that I care deeply about you, and that I want us to spend more time together simply because of those things. Also, I think we complement each other. You humanize me a bit, and I provide a lot of stimulation for you, one might say, challenges. But those are good things, I think.
"What do you think?" as he had opened himself up to her in a rather long and unexpected monologue, responding to her (somewhat flawed, half-baked) assertion.
She was in shock, hearing those words, and looked out over the city's horizon. Tears came unbidden to her eyes, as she heard the truth and power of his words. One of the things she had always loved about him was his ability to cut through the noise to see the heart of a problem, and find a solution. Here, the problem was their impasse of sorts, and given a moment of privacy and confrontation (although she hadn't meant it that way), he seized it to tell her these important underlying facts about what had happened.
"Well, we disagree then. What should we do about it?" she asked, wondering what he might suggest.
"Obviously, I can't force you to do anything you don't wish to," he said. "But consider … perhaps we could try spending a little time together that isn't solely focused on work, somewhere not on the grid, nor in our usual activities. We need a neutral playing ground, I think, so neither has a natural advantage." He grinned. "Maybe we should consider it a private op, since we are both so focused on work. Operation Trial Run or some such thing."
"Trial Run has a nice double entendre … because it will no doubt be a bit of a trial and run because that's what I do in most situations," she nodded. "Ok, even though I'm not a field operative, I accept your challenge. Will we set a few more parameters around it? Numbers of hours spent together off-grid, a set of metrics by which to judge the success or failure of the op? As you know, I'm very goal oriented, and wish to know clearly if I'm achieving the milestones along the way," she continued. "Frankly, I also wish to know if you take unfair advantage because that is your MO … setting a stage whereby you get what you want … and I mean that in the best possible way. It's one of the reasons I like working with you so intensely. I like it when we succeed."
Privately, to herself she admitted, this might be fun. This might inject the element they so clearly missed as they worked together … the element of fun and of openly making things personal. She had always thought that Harry might secretly be quite fun. Certainly his history with other women suggested that his charms were wide reaching and intense. And even though he seemed to have forgone those ways since his rise to the top of MI-5 (and maybe since his focus on her? Could that be part of it?), she suspected that people don't really change. Harry's brand of fun might be just what she needed.
She didn't often focus on her own needs, at least not openly, but maybe the stars were aligning to change that aspect of her life.
So she accepted his challenge.
Harry was delighted. He had spoken with a candor he didn't usually reveal to Ruth for fear of driving her away. But since she had already rejected him, he felt he had nothing to lose. Suddenly, it appeared he was going to get another shot at the prize.
"In order to drive some equity into this process, each of us may suggest activities and the other may accept or reject them for whatever reasons or for no reason. The only rule is, we must spend a certain number of hours together each week off the grid and actively doing something together. At the end of 30 days, we will evaluate whether we move forward in the same direction or whether we modify and adjust our schedule, frequency of activity, type of activity, etc. We could go one of two ways: total immersion or a build-up of our hours together. What do you prefer?" he asked, bringing her into his thinking.
"My natural preference is to go with a build-up, starting slowly," she responded. His shoulders dropped. "But for that exact reason, because it is my natural preference, I'm going to go with the opposite. I would hate to be predictable … and besides, if I'm to gain any advantage, I have to keep you off balance. Harry, let's do a little total immersion the first week. When and where do we start?" she asked.
The truth was, she was off balance by the whole concept, but maybe, just maybe, Harry was right. Maybe spending some time together was exactly what they needed to test a heretofore untested reality: were they really compatible outside the grid? Where they really soulmates, or did this underlying misconception need to be put to rest?
Suddenly, what had been a long, tiring few weeks, months, years, was fading into the clutter of memory and what was ahead offered something new and exciting and maybe even a little terrifying. But in a good way. For both of them.