A stunned silence hangs over the Grid. No-one moves or speaks for the longest time. All eyes remain riveted on Harry's slumped form, willing him to move. But he doesn't.
The silence is finally broken by a stifled sob from Ruth.
Malcolm leans down to speak gently to her, trying to hide his own grief.
"Come away, Ruth. Come away."
She shrugs him off.
"No. I'm staying with him. Until they come. I won't leave him alone in the valley of death."
So they remain, Ruth seated and Malcolm standing behind her shoulder, watching over Harry.
Half an hour passes before they see Beth and Dimitri enter. Beth checks for a pulse, then shakes her head at the camera, tears in her eyes. But they already knew. It isn't until his body is removed from their sight that Ruth drops her head into her hands, and allows herself to fully grieve for the man she loves. Malcolm stays with her but doesn't say anything, knowing that there is nothing to be said that will make things better.
A long time passes before Michael approaches the pair.
"Come on, I'll take you home."
Ruth looks up dully. "I want to be at the airport when they bring him home."
"Of course. I'll come and pick you up again later and we'll all go together."
She starts to nod before stopping suddenly. "What? No, you need to stop that shipment of weapons tonight."
Michael shifts uncomfortably under her gaze.
"I've decided against it."
Ruth shoots to her feet and gets right in his face. "What?! You're going to let them win? Let Harry's death be in vain?"
Riled by her fury, he snaps back defensively, "It's not our job to stop this. It's Six's responsibility to police their own people."
"That's an excuse and you know it. You're sticking your head into the sand. Harry is dead. He died for this."
Michael drops his head. "Ruth," he says regretfully, "we can't all be like Harry."
She takes a step back, and nods slowly. "No. And that's why it's come to this. It is because he's had to stand alone for so long that they have the arrogance to think that removing him is all they have to do to clear their path. Well. Congratulations for proving them right."
She turns her back on him in disgust.
Michael stands alone in the middle of the Grid, feeling the accusing eyes of Alec, Tariq and Malcolm on him. He looks at Ruth's stiff back and remembers Harry's abused face when he asked them not to let these people win. A sense of shame settles on his shoulders, and the thought of having to live with that feeling for the rest of his life appals him. Something shifts inside him, and despite the fear gnawing at his insides, he turns to Alec.
"Let's go stop that shipment."
He waits until Ruth turns back to him, surprise and hope on her face.
"You're right." He pauses. "Harry was right. I swear I won't let them win."
- 0 -
Ken Willis hops out of the truck and moves round to open the back. The truck is parked next to a transport plane whose engines are running already. A forklift drives up and Ken waves it closer, but it stops a few paces off and stays there. Impatiently he walks over.
"Come on, man. We don't have time to w-"
He trails off as Michael gets off the forklift.
"Actually, you're out of time," the Acting Section Head says and nods at the plane behind them.
Ken turns to see Special Forces taking control of the plane and the trucks.
"We've been monitoring your movements and communications for the last month," Michael continues. "It makes for interesting reading. We have more than enough to put you away for the illegal smuggling of weapons."
His eyes harden. "And for the murder of Harry Pearce. You go back to your fellow conspirators and you tell them they miscalculated if they thought killing Harry would give them free rein. And tell them to watch their backs, because we will be coming for them."
With that, he turns and walks away.
Ken hesitates, then calls after him. "Michael, wait. I'll tell you everything."
- 0 -
Later that night
They are waiting for the MI5 jet to land when a Ministerial car drives up. Ruth turns in time to see William Towers step from the vehicle and walk towards them. He takes in the pale, drawn faces of the people gathered there and feels a great anger at those responsible for Harry's death. His eyes seek out Ruth.
"I would like to pay my respects by being present when they bring him back, but I'll leave if you don't want me here."
Ruth gives him a small smile, and simply nods. She does not have any words in her.
They all turn to watch as the plane's lights wink into view. Not a word is spoken as it touches down and taxies towards them. The door opens and Beth appears. She takes in the huddle of people gathered on the tarmac before turning back and helping Dimitri and the pilot to carry the stretcher with the special body bag down to where a gurney is waiting. After placing the body on it gently, they step back and no-one moves for a few seconds, whilst all eyes remain riveted on the body bag. When the Coroner's men start forward, Ruth suddenly finds her voice.
"I'd like a moment."
They watch silently as she steps over and carefully unzips the cooling bag just enough to reveal Harry's face. She reaches out with trembling fingers to brush across his forehead.
"Oh, Harry," she gasps before leaning forward and pressing her lips to his cold cheek, her tears falling on his face.
"We didn't let them win," she assures him. "You rest now, my love."
Her voice hardens, and she adds, "I promise that I will not let your death go unanswered."
After caressing his beloved face one last time, she straightens and zips up the bag again.
Without them being conscious of doing so, Harry's team and Towers form a guard of honour through which the body is wheeled before being loaded into the van. They remain like that long after the van has driven away.
- 0 -
Two days later
Foreign Secretary Hastings has been summoned by the PM. After hearing that their second attempt to move the weapons has been blocked as well, Hastings has resigned himself to let go of the plan and has begun to think about ways to shift the blame, should any of it come to light. The secretary nods at him, and he enters the PM's inner sanctum. His jovial greeting dies on his lips when he notices the other two men in the room; William Towers and that new Section Head Counter Terrorism from MI5, Lewis. The PM is seated behind his desk, looking furious and forbidding.
"What's this about?" Hastings asks carefully.
It is Towers that answers, his voice harsh with suppressed anger.
"It's about you ordering the death of Sir Harry Pearce to clear the way for the provision of weapons to the Yemeni government."
- 0 -
The team is gathered in the meeting room, watching the news.
'In international news, a man wanted by The Hague for crimes against humanity has been found dead in Bukavu, Eastern DRC. Faustin Kanyarengwe and three other members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda were found shot dead on the outskirts of the town. Authorities believe that it is the result of an internal power struggle in the rebel movement…'
Beth smiles grimly, and meets Ruth's eye, nodding almost imperceptibly. The news reader continues.
'And in local news, Foreign Secretary Hastings announced his resignation for family reasons this morning…'
"The bastard'll probably have a cushy job in a private firm in no time," Alec grumbles.
Michael shakes his head. "He'll be lucky if someone hires him as a cleaner. Both the PM and the Home Secretary has spread the word that Hastings is persona non grata. His future looks rather bleak, I'd say."
"Like Oliver Mace's was supposed to be?"
All heads swivel to Ruth. She looks small and pale, with dark circles under her eyes. Her anger is almost tangible when she speaks again.
"When Mace framed me all those years ago, Harry and Adam used the incident to run him out of town. He was supposed to have no future. Yet there he is, living lavishly in the south of Spain and running black ops for Six."
Dimitri nods. "Men like that have a knack for resurrecting themselves. The government wants to sweep this whole thing under the rug. No ugly trials that will be impossible to keep out of the press. So he gets away with it again. The whole thing stinks."
Michael looks around the table at the mutinous expressions on his officers' faces.
"That's the way of the world, unfortunately. What can we do?"
Again it is Ruth that answers, her voice brittle. "What Harry would have. See that justice is done." Thinking of Kachimov, of Nicholas Blake.
Michael stares at her. "Are you saying we should kill him?"
"We do it to other enemies of the state. That is what Mace has become by enabling Six to run operations that are not authorised by the government."
Looking round the table again, Michael asks, "The rest of you feel the same?" Hoping against hope that most of them will say no.
But he is greeted with a unanimous nod of heads.
"I'll do it," Alec volunteers immediately before Beth or Dimitri can open their mouths. He figures if anyone's career has to be ruined for this it might as well be his. There is little chance of him rising any higher than he is now in any case, as he is well aware that he only has this job because of Harry.
"I'm going with you."
A shocked silence descends on the room and everyone focuses on Ruth. Her jaw is set stubbornly and her hands are clenched together on the table.
Alec immediately shakes his head. "No way."
She looks at him steadily. "Harry always did his own dirty work. I promised him I would not let his death go unanswered. I have more right than anyone else here to be there."
- 0 -
Two days later
When Oliver Mace reaches his secluded villa it is already dark. He unlocks the big front door and starts switching on lights. Dropping his bag in the foyer he goes through to the sitting room to pour himself a drink. He switches on the light and freezes when he sees two people seated in the wingback chairs.
Alec and Ruth watch as expressions of surprise, shock and wariness quickly cross his face. His eyes move to the gun in Alec's hand before going back to Ruth.
"Hello Ruth," he says calmly. "I heard you'd returned from the dead."
Her face flushes and she bites back her angry retort. Images of Harry's battered body float before her eyes and she has to fight the desire to grab the gun from Alec and empty it into this repulsive man. Her voice is deceptively calm when she finally speaks.
"You had Harry killed. More than that, you had him tortured brutally for months, for no other reason than you didn't like him."
Mace rolls his eyes. "Oh, how tedious. You've come to revenge your lover's death. I never understood what he saw in you. Nor you in him, for that matter."
Before she can respond, he continues. "Harry was killed because his interference in matters that didn't concern him was getting out of hand. Do you have any idea how many times he's been the reason for CIA operations failing? Important people on both sides of the pond became fed up. If we hadn't done it, the Americans would have soon in any case."
Alec speaks up. "We know your instruction from Six was only to kill him. The prolonged torture, however, was all your own idea. Why?"
Mace glares. "He ruined me! With his bloody high minded ideas. I could have been a Minister by now!"
He calms down slightly, and smiles an oily smile. "Besides, it has the ring of poetic justice to it, don't you think? Killed by the thing he fought so vociferously against, and destroyed my career for."
The three of them are frozen in their strange tableau for a few seconds, before Alec stands up and levels the gun at Mace.
"You're a piece of work, you bloody bastard."
Ruth stands up too. "No," she says, and takes the gun from her astonished colleague.
Hope fills Mace's face before Ruth turns and points the gun at his heart.
She says calmly, "This is poetic justice."
Without saying another word, she looks Oliver Mace in the eye and pulls the trigger.
- 0 -
The day of Harry's funeral is, in Ruth's opinion very inappropriately, a pleasant, sunny Spring day. She sits in the pew reserved for family along with Malcolm and Catherine. Graham refused to attend, saying that in his view his father has been dead for years. Their eyes are fixed on the flag covering the casket whilst the Home Secretary delivers a simple, moving homily. A few days earlier, Towers informed Catherine and Ruth that Harry was entitled to a full military funeral for his years of service. Ruth, though, thought that Harry wouldn't want that when none of the people he'd lost through the years had been given the same honour. Towers then requested permission to at least put a flag on the coffin, and she agreed. It is the least that Harry deserves, Ruth thinks again.
She feels Malcolm move next to her and realises that Towers has finished, and that it's Malcolm's turn to do a reading.
When he reaches the pulpit, Malcolm swallows and takes a deep breath, before he begins to read in a clear, steady voice.
"O Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman."
By the time he reaches the last lines, there isn't a dry eye in the church.
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
As the bell tolls mournfully at the end of the service, four soldiers carefully fold the flag before presenting it to Catherine. She hesitates, then shakes her head and points towards Ruth. Caught totally by surprise, Ruth numbly accepts it, before following the casket out of the church. When Catherine falls into step next to her, Ruth says softly, "You should take it. You're his daughter. Harry and I… We weren't even married."
Catherine takes her arm. "I know. But when I spent Christmas with you two, I saw how much he loved you. You may not have the paperwork, but in Dad's heart you were married. Besides, you've been standing on the wall alongside him all these years. It should be yours."
Ruth traces the ring she's been wearing ever since Beth gave it to her softly with her thumb, and smiles sadly at Catherine.
When it's all done and everyone begins to move toward their cars, she finds Michael and hands him an envelope.
"My resignation," she says.
He regards the envelope in his hand with a resigned smile. "I can't say I wasn't expecting this."
Lifting his eyes to hers, he asks, "I don't suppose there's anything I can say that will change your mind?"
Ruth looks away, back towards the fresh grave they've just left. "I don't want to do it without him, Michael. It breaks my heart to see someone else in his office. I'm sorry, it's not personal."
"I understand," he reassures her quickly, then laughs slightly. "Bloody hell, Ruth. I don't know if I can do this without you to keep me on the right path."
For the first time since his arrival on the Grid, she gives him a genuine smile. "Yes, you can. You've proven over the last month that you're worthy of stepping into Harry's shoes, and that no-one is irreplaceable. You'll find another analyst."
He looks at her for the longest time. "What will you do now?"
She swallows. "Take time to grieve. Live a calm, normal life." Harry's final plea drifts through her mind, and she adds, "Live."
When her eyes fill with tears, he understands. "In a couple of months, when you've settled, will you give me a call? I have an idea that you may be interested in."
She nods. "I will. Goodbye, Michael."
He watches her as she walks away between the graves until she disappears from view.
- 0 -
Six months later
Beth pokes her head round Michael's door. "I'm off to debrief my assets."
He looks up with a smile. "Right then. Say hello for me."
She parks in front of the Internet Café next to the rare book shop. It is situated close to London University, and the book shop has quickly become a favourite among the students, especially those interested in Arabic history and literature. A bell jingles as she opens the door and the young girl behind the counter looks up.
"The Boss is out back," she informs Beth cheerfully.
When she opens the door to the small backyard she is assaulted by a boisterous Jack Russell puppy, while Scarlet follows behind at a more sedate pace. Ruth rescues her from the two dogs and she follows her over to where Malcolm is sitting at a table having tea. Beth flops into the third chair and gratefully accepts the proffered tea.
"Do you have anything interesting for me?" Beth asks.
Ruth reaches for a folder lying on the table. "One possible. Matt Sloane. As you can see from the list of books he's requested, he's interested in the more radical aspects of Arabic history."
Malcolm takes over. "From the emails he's sent from the Internet Café, he apparently has a penpal in Pakistan, but Ruth and I think it may be more than that. The emails seem to be in some kind of code."
He hands over a sheaf of papers. "Something for the boffins to work on."
Beth nods. "Okay, thanks. We'll look into it." She puts the information away carefully before relaxing in her chair.
"So how are you guys?"
The business part of their meeting over, they turn to normal talk. Beth tells them about the latest developments on the Grid, and they reciprocate with small talk about running the book shop and the Internet Café respectively.
Ruth sits back and contemplates the turn her life has taken since Harry's death. After travelling for a month, she came back to London and their house, and realised that she didn't want to leave and start anew somewhere else. She wants to be here, where she and Harry shared so much, and retain her connection with him. So she had called Michael, and he explained his plan to open the book shop and Internet Café close to the university, in an effort to identify radical elements in the student community. He suggested that she and Malcolm would be perfect to run it.
She still has days where she can barely get out of bed because she misses him so much, but she is slowly healing. The book shop has been a Godsend, as it allows her to still make a contribution to the defence of the nation but at the same time have a more quiet life. Malcolm's friendship has been steadfast and supportive, and they have helped each other to cope with Harry's death. They talk about him often, and it helps to dampen the pain of his absence.
She is doing her utmost to keep her promise to him, by living as best she can. She's not sure she will ever be able to love another man, but who knows, perhaps in time. In the meantime, she is doing her bit to continue the work he gave his life for. And she is remembering him well, like he asked.
It is enough for now.