A/N – Written as an epilogue for 'Redemption Days' but can stand alone. Set post season 10. AU. Enjoy. -Silver.
Erin Watts sat at her desk, watching her team weaving around each other on the Grid. Her office, she reaffirmed the thought quietly, it was her office now and her desk. Still, just a little part of her still thought of it as Harry's. Despite having changed the shelves and tossed the couch for something more modern, it had a feeling about him that she could not quite shake. Maybe it was the ridiculous red wall, she thought to herself, tapping the end of her pen against the desk. She should probably get on to HR about changing the damn thing, but she didn't really have the time. (Or the inclination. It wasn't her bloody job to redecorate the place, after all) And, to be honest, she didn't terribly mind having a constant reminder of Harry Pearce. It was almost comforting, in fact, to think that a part of him was still here, watching over her.
When she had filled in for him on a temporary basis, Erin had not really experienced the true toll of this work. It had only ever been temporary. This was permanent. After the first two months, the reality had started to hit her. There would be no more two weeks off, without distraction, without emergency call-backs from the Grid, without conference calls with the Home Secretary or the DG. It was hard work. The hours were long. The satisfaction of knowing she made a negligible difference was not quite enough to get her through it. Her people were, however. Knowing she was making their job a little bit safer made it worthwhile. Knowing that they would defend her the same way made her proud and want to be there.
Section Chief Calum Reid, senior field officer Dimitri Levendis, her two new junior field officers, a fairly prodigal new technical genius who would have put Ian Fleming's Q to shame, a new analyst who did not quite put Ruth to shame, but might be able to rival her, in a few years' time. They were her people, Erin thought, scanning over them. Her employees, colleagues, most of them her friends. Dimitri glanced up and shot her a half smile, as the two junior field officers continued to squabble on front of him. Some of them more then friends, Erin thought, nodding and forcing herself to look down before holding his gaze for too long. Didn't do to get caught staring at your employees.
A second or two later, a knock sounded loudly against her doorway and her technical officer came springing in, holding an envelope aloft.
She had never really got the hang of letting people use her first name, as Harry had. She didn't think she quite had the confidence yet. She was still getting used to the weight she had, to throw around.
"Yes?" she answered the young woman, with a half-frown at the envelope in her hand. "Tell me that's not something to do with G4S." That security company would be the end of her. The trouble that was brewing, with the Olympics only a few weeks away, had been the stuff of Erin's worst nightmares.
Her technical officer had a reassuring answer for her, however.
"It's not," the girl gave a smile in return, walking over to lay it on the desk. "Nothing official. It's from that private dead-drop you have me check, at Burgess park."
Erin eyed the envelope with suddenly increased interest. The dead-drop was one she kept with Malcolm Wynn-Jones, an ex-spook and a friend of Harry's. Malcolm had contacted her a few days after Harry had handed his credentials and his office over to Erin, officially resigning his commission to the Security Service. What the technical officer had had to say solidified some suspicions Erin had had herself, about his resignation. Apparently, when Malcolm had gone over to Harry's house two days after he left the Service, for a pre-arranged catch-up, he found his friend's house completely devoid of life. Naturally, he had tried to contact Harry through all the usual ways – phone, email, a note through the letter box – but, after he had told the team and they had all grown worried enough, they had finally got permission to break in and see if he was all right. (Erin had, initially, been worried he had done something stupid. He had seemed, for the last few months, to be coping with the loss of Ruth Evershed, but you could never really be sure what a man like Harry was feeling).
Inside his house, they found a note to each one of his children, one addressed to Malcolm and one addressed to Erin herself. In it, Harry's neat handwriting explained on all of them that he was going travelling and he didn't intend to return. The secrets he kept had been destroyed or were in a security deposit box, to be passed on to Calum Reid. The house and its contents were to be passed on to his daughter, to sell or use as she wished. He wished them all goodbye at the end of the letter.
The note had a finality about it which had made Erin's worries deepen. A quick check of his banking practices showed her that Harry had withdrawn all but a few hundred pounds from all of his savings and current accounts over the last six months or so, with no trace of where he had taken it. Worried that this was some elaborate blackmail plot, which had ended with him being kidnapped, she had sent the team to run him down but they could not find hide nor hair of him. No kidnapper would be so efficient, Erin decided, after a long and agonising month trailing Harry's movements in her spare time (and fighting a resurgence of Islamic extremists the other twenty-three hours of the day). Harry had done this himself. He had spent months planning his exit.
The timing still threw her, however. Why had he left when he did, with only a few weeks to go before the Diamond Jubilee, with only a few months to go before the Olympics? Erin had made it clear to him that she was capable of handling the team, but Harry was a man built on priorities. If he had wanted to leave the Service to travel and find peace in himself, then he would have waited and done so after the summer.
Out of character movements aroused suspicion, in her spook mind. The Section Head knew that Harry leaving the Service technically meant leaving the watchful eye of its many technical officers and satellites – she knew that Harry had every right to up sticks and vanish – but the reality was somewhat different than the theory. And she was worried. He could be in some sort of trouble. He could be under duress, or being blackmailed. And Erin felt as if she owed him some loyalty and concern. She had felt she owed him since that day Sasha escaped her, at the bunker, and attacked Ruth. She owed Harry. And she always paid her debts. So, she had set Malcolm to the task of trying to find him, wherever he was hidden.
If ever there was a spook equipped to find Harry, she figured, it was Malcolm Wynn-Jones. He was a top-notch technical officer. He had experience and skills in following financial paper trails. And he was an old dog, like Harry. The pair of them buried their bones in the back garden. They would know best where to look for one another. She had enlisted his help nearly three months ago, however, and Malcolm had reported back to her with nothing ever since. A few false leads, but nothing to warrant a package of this size. This was something important.
Bidding her technical officer thank you, then, Erin seized the package and, after waiting until the girl's footsteps had faded away down the hall, ripped it open to examine the contents. Her heart squirmed in her chest as she read the small explanatory note Malcolm had taped to the front.