2.8

Ruth clicked on the new e-mail which had just flagged up on her system.

'Dear Ruth,
your secondment to MI5 is currently under review. Discussions with your head of Sector, regarding your continued placement, are on going and a decision will be made within 7 days, after which time you may be returned to GCHQ.
Yours Sincerley
Simon Horwood – Liaison Officer'

As Ruth scanned the e-mail, her face fell."Shit." She whispered. Finally, the message she had been dreading had arrived. She didn't want to go back to GCHQ, she really didn't. Ruth had come to love working at MI-5, and the team had become like family, even in the short time she had been with them. Being on the front line of National Security was a challenge a day, for Ruth, but she knew she was bloody good at the job. She thought she'd rather quit the service altogether than have to return to GCHQ, where every week was the same; just day after day of sifting through information, which they had no idea whether it was relevant. The interesting bits got passed straight to MI-5, or 6, where the real spooks got to do the action-packed work. Of course, Ruth knew that it wasn't all fun and games, people's lives were at stake, and more often than not, the paperwork took longer to complete than the op itself. But still, Ruth adored working with MI-5. God, I hope Harry doesn't send me back. I don't think I could stand it.

At that moment, the man in her thoughts dragged her from her reverie. "What's going on today, in the wonderful world of espionage?" He approached Danny as he spoke. He always liked to make an entrance, did Harry.

Ruth grabbed a pile of papers and made her way over to the rest of the gang.

"Well, the tube dispute is on-going. Our people inside the RMT and TGWU say they're just about to get back in the ring, possible wildcat actions planned." Harry nodded at Zoe.

"What's the headline intel?"

"Er, I've only had time to check the overnight Grade One headers. There's an avalanche coming in from our union sources." Ruth was aware that her not being completely up to date on all the information sounded awful, especially in light of her e-mail. Shit. But she was aware it was impossible to sift through everything that was coming in on her own, unless someone invented a way to fit more hours into a day, or someway to help people survive on no sleep.

Zoe spoke once more. "Almost fifty agents in key sectors now, all saying the same thing."

"Specifically?" Harry asked, cocking his head slightly.

"Well, that while the government's got its back turned on domestic issues, the unions are gathering strength."

"Stay on it. Keeping this country's infrastructure working is part of defending the realm. Next." Harry looked over to Danny. "How's Tom getting on?"

"Tom has been contacting us daily at 0700 and 2300 hours without fail. Curtis' Company are next in line for overseas deployment as required, so they're on full time exercise. But, there are some morale problems on base. Tom photo-messaged this over from his mobile last night."

Danny hit the remote, as the picture Tom had sent in flashed up onto the screen.

"'Fancy spending nine months away from home on crap pay, provide strike cover for Firemen earning twice as much money for six months work, and face the possibility of being killed for a country full of greedy, pathetic and selfish individuals? Sign below. Army - Be Depressed.'" Danny read the picture out loud as the team read it.

"Well, it's a fair point." Zoe quipped.

"Satire never brought a country down." Harry dismissed the issue.

Danny hit the remote again. "Curtis is a soldier's soldier. He'd rather be in the company of his men than sitting behind a desk. He takes full part in all exercises. But Woods, our whistleblower Corporal - codename Nightingale - has come up with no proof, no evidence that Curtis is planning mutiny."

"We could be wasting our time." Zoe wasn't at all sure about this lead.

Harry raised his eyebrows at Zoe. "No strike cover for industrial disputes. No security back-up in case of major terrorist incident. Britain's interests overseas put in severe jeopardy. Every tinpot General from Somalia to poor sad little North Korea and all points in between gloating on CNN. The special relationship with our cousins severely embarrassed. Until we know for sure, it's not time wasted."

Harry let his words sink in. "So. What do we know about Curtis?"

Zoe began, hugging her folder to her. "Sam Curtis led five men over 200 miles of Iraqi desert in 1991, and was the subject of a best-selling account of the operation. Eric Woods glassed a fireman in a pub then put a spotlight onto Sam Curtis in a bid for leniency. He could be playing us. I say we just pass this over to Army Intelligence."

Harry shook his head. "Curtis' reputation precedes him throughout the country. It'd be like asking the Vatican to prove Mary wasn't a virgin."

The team smirked briefly, and Ruth let out a quiet chuckle. Oh, what a way with words our boss has.

"'Incitement to disaffect' is a ballchopper charge under the Army Act. He's a military legend, a public hero. The sort of Englishman who'll end up with a statue in Trafalgar Square and a building named after him in Whitehall. But Chief of Defence Staff is adamant this is our jurisdiction. If Curtis is guilty, we've got to stop him. Thank you all." With that, Harry left.

As Ruth made her way back to her desk, she heard Danny ask Zoe. "What if we went on strike?"

Ruth snorted. Like anyone would notice. Ruth had a feeling Zoe would say something very similar.


Danny was a bit jumpy as he spoke urgently to Sam. Ruth and Zoe were sat a few feet behind, on a different desk, but were able to hear everything that was said. Ruth laughed lightly as Danny turned around again to check that Harry was still in his office, and Zoe rolled her eyes. Ruth and Zoe listened in as they were checking over the paperwork for Tom's exit strategy for his stint in the army.

"How many officers are up for it?" He asked.

"Nineteen."

"Budget?"

"One twenty five."

"A hundred and twenty five quid, is that it?" Danny's horrified tone drew Ruth's gaze. "We can't afford something like this on .. six fifty an officer!"

Malcolm walked over, and leant down next to Sam. "Six fifty seven, actually." Ruth hoped that Danny would take it as a hint to keep his voice down.

"What about time, date, location?" Danny turned back to Sam.

"1900 hours, 21st, budget means we'll have to do it at home."

Danny span round in his chair to talk to Zoe. "What's the transport infrastructure gonna be that night?"

Zoe and Ruth were momentarily nonplussed at the language Danny was using. Just ask if there's going to be strike, idiot. Ruth did like Danny, but he had a tendency to go overboard sometimes.

"Well, there are no tube strikes planned if that's what you mean."

"Good. Good." He span back round to Sam, excited. He span round again, checking Harry was still in his office. "And we're sure Harry suspects nothing?"

"Nothing." Smiled Sam.

"Danny!" Zoe exclaimed. "We're not trying to infiltrate Baghdad. It's just a bloody birthday party."

Danny's outraged face was a picture. "Shh!" He span his chair back to face Sam, dismayed by Zoe's blasé approach to their plans. Zoe rolled her eyes as she turned back to Ruth, whose eyes were sparkling with mirth.


Less than twelve hours later, Ruth made her way over to Zoe, who had just come in, with an armful of papers. She dumped them on Zoe's desk before she had even had time to take off her bag. "Overnight intel."

Zoe flicked through it, incredulously. "I haven't done yesterday's yet, Ruth. I've been up half the night. Don't you have top-sheet summaries?"

"I can't analyse everything myself, you'll have to cherry-pick."

"Well, that's your job isn't it?!"

Both women were frustrated, and running on very little sleep; not a great time to be having an issue at work. Ruth stopped as Zoe spoke, her eyes downcast. "Not for much longer."

That held Zoe in her tracks. "What?" Her voice was immediately full of concern. Ruth liked to think Zoe was a friend, one she would miss when she got sent back to GCHQ.

Ruth heard Harry come up behind them, and turned away determinedly as he spoke to Zoe. "How was Tom?"

She kept her eyes on her work, feeling Zoe's gaze on her, worried. Zoe was struck dumb for a moment, her mind a mix of little sleep and confusion over Ruth's last words. "Oh. Grumpy."

"He'll survive." And off Harry went.

Zoe ensured he was out of earshot, before turning back to Ruth. "What do you mean?"

Ruth smiled, in spite of the mass of emotions coursing through her, but she knew Zoe could see that it didn't reach her eyes. Instead of replying, she directed Zoe's attention towards a picture in the mountain of papers. "Look at that. Of all government ministers I'd never have made him for a leather queen. No wonder he hasn't got time to sort out the unions." Ruth's movements were jerky, a sign that she was struggling to control herself. She knew that if Zoe, or anyone, phrased a question in the right way that everything would come spilling out.

"Ruth." She ignored Zoe's tone and walked away before she told her everything. It was far too early for an emotional talk, and Ruth knew it would be; on her side, anyway.


Forty minutes later, Zoe had managed to corner Ruth in the kitchen. "What did you mean earlier?"

Ruth looked around, quickly, checking no-one was about, but spotted Colin, cup in hand, approaching. "Tea?" Zoe followed Ruth's gaze and saw Colin as he came in, smiling at the two of them. She leant in close to Ruth and whispered to her. "Meeting room? Fewer people about there." Ruth smiled gratefully and made the two of them a cup of tea. Colin made idle small talk with the two of them as they waited for the kettle to boil. When their drinks were ready, Ruth gathered her files in one hand, and her cup in the other. Zoe followed her, quietly.

As they sat in the meeting room, Ruth took a slug of tea to calm her down, before taking a deep breath and speaking.

"I got an e-mail yesterday. From GCHQ. They said that they're in discussions with Harry about my secondment here, and unless Harry wants to keep me on, in seven days I'll be returned to work there. I love this job, Zoe."

Ruth kept her eyes focussed on her desk, not wanting the younger woman to see the dismay in her eyes.

"Look, Ruth, Harry's not a fool." At that, Ruth looked up to find Zoe staring at her, intently. "You're good. He'll want to keep you here."

"God, I hope so. I don't wanna go back to GCHQ. Too many bloody mathematicians for one thing." Zoe let out a short laugh, and Ruth smiled, but before she could say anything more, Danny barged in. Ruth sat back in her chair, feeling suddenly awkward. She paid no attention to what Danny was telling Zoe, instead watching Zoe's face. The woman across from her seemed irritated at her flatmate's sudden arrival, and it warmed Ruth to realise that perhaps Zoe really did like her and believe that Harry would keep her on, once her secondment was up.

As Zoe and Ruth locked eyes, they shared a look, both of them despairing at Danny's lack of tact. Danny had completely ignored Ruth since he had encroached on her and Zoe's chat, and she felt it was time to make her exit.

"Well... I'll just go read a North Korea Evening News or something..." Ruth stood up and left the room quickly, leaving both her files and half-drunk cup of tea behind. She made her way back to her desk, via the toilets, just to check that she didn't look like she'd been upset. Happy that no-one, except Zoe, would be able to see her feelings, she got back to work.


After another hour of waiting and wondering about whether Harry would renew her secondment, Ruth decided to bite the bullet, and go and ask the man himself. She walked into Harry's office, without knocking, as had become a trait, and started speaking.

"What's happening about my secondment? I got an e-mail yesterday from GCHQ. Can you tell me what's going to happen. Will you renew my contract here?"

Harry spoke, and by the look on this face, it wasn't going to be the response Ruth hoped for, so she interrupted him, before he had a chance to say anything.

"Come on, Harry, give me a chance to stay on. You know I'm good at my job. Overworked, but bloody good."

Harry looked almost exasperated, and Ruth barely heard the knock on his office door as he replied. "No decision has been made yet."

At that moment, Zoe, throwing Ruth an apologetic glance, handed Harry a piece of paper. "Our R.M.T. source says there'll be a wildcat strike on West Midlands rail-lines in the next thirty minutes."

"What do they want now?" Harry looked at the document, forehead creasing slightly. Ruth folded her arms in front of her and sucked in a breath.

"That's not the issue. There's a consignment of spent nuclear fuel. On its way to Dover by rail. It's about to grind to a halt, sitting in the open countryside."

Harry spoke as if the solution was obvious. "Well, liaise with the nuclear authority and get it moving again."

"Right." Zoe looked between Ruth and Harry, eyes widening slightly as she and Ruth locked gaze. "Er, good intel, Ruth, thank you."

Ruth watched Zoe go, before turning back to Harry, a challenge in her eyes. Yeah. You heard her. So what are you going to do about it?

As he looked at her steadily, Ruth refused to remove her gaze from him. "Thank you, Ruth." It was a dismissal, one which Ruth couldn't really ignore, but she wasn't done. She smiled slightly, hoping that Zoe's point had been made, and that harry would take it into account. Oh well, she could always talk to him another time about it, if she heard nothing else.


Ruth perched on a desk, chewing her fingernails absently, as she, Malcolm and Sam listened to Zoe's brief. "The Nuclear Authority has an off-the-shelf plan to transport the spent nuke fuel by road on a low-loader, accompanied by its' own security personnel. Convoy is codenamed 'The Stick'."

They all turned to the computer screen, which had a virtual copy of the route to Dover.

"Departs 10pm tonight, arrives Dover 6pm tomorrow. We're tasked with maintaining a rolling threat assessment. This is highly irradiated uranium - travelling halfway across the country. So, if there's so much as a drawing-pin on the inside lane of the M25, I want to know about it."

Ruth looked at up Zoe's next words. "You're the overseer." She was surprised to see Zoe looking straight at her. Zoe smiled at her slightly, before carrying on.

"Ruth will process relevant reports as they come in."

She stood a little straighter, pleased that Zoe was willing to let Ruth have a fair amount of responsibility on her operation.

"This might sound like a routine baby-sitting job, but something as simple as a puncture could mean we all have a really bad day, so... Thank you." Zoe took a breath before walking over to Ruth. "This is a chance to make yourself indispensable in Harry's eyes, alright?" Ruth smiled at her, eyes hopeful as she made her way to her desk, ready to begin. Bring it on. I'll show Harry that he needs me on this team.


Sam called across to Zoe and Ruth, who made their way over to her terminal as she began to speak. "They're about ready to go. Nuclear Authority Central Control have been assigned call sign 'Polestar.'"

"Tell Polestar we're ready to go when they are." Zoe was relishing the chance to lead her op as acting Section Chief, and Ruth could completely understand her excitement. She was enthused to be overseeing the operation, reporting straight to Zoe. Hopefully, she was right, and this would be Ruth's chance to get Harry to keep her on at Section D.

"Polestar, this is Thames Side. We're ready to go." Sam spoke into her headset, communicating with those moving the nuclear convoy.

"Copy that," came over the speakers and Zoe turned to Ruth.

"Well. It's just you and me now." She grinned slightly. "Let's show off to Harry."

Ruth grinned. "And they're off!"

Danny came up behind Ruth. "Hardly the Wacky Races is it?" Ruth didn't remove her eyes from the screen, but she felt Zoe turn towards Danny.

Ten minutes later, the team were gathered around Sam's desk as Tom's report came through.

As the report wound up, Harry looked mildly amused. "Is he pissed?"

Zoe made a face. "Tired. Night exercise earlier on in the week, rendezvous with me in the small hours yesterday. Just let him sleep. Excuse me." She picked up her phone as Malcolm caught Harry's attention.

"Curtis' voicebox is pin-protected." Ruth scrunched her nose, she knew that would mean extra work for Malcolm and Colin, who were already up to their necks.

Harry turned. "Get the code from his service provider. Let's be sure."

As Zoe hung up the phone, Ruth saw rather than heard her say 'dammit'. She sat with Sam, but spoke loud enough for Ruth to hear, in order for her to keep on top of things, for which Ruth was grateful. "Dockers are coming out, 7pm tomorrow. Let Polestar know. The Stick needs to stay on schedule or we're back to square one."

"Polestar. Polestar be advised. Industrial action at Dover in less than 20 hours. Vital you maintain schedule."

"Copy that Thames Side. The Stick is making good progress." As the reply came through, Ruth made her way to stand with Zoe to watch the convoy making its way along the road.

"We have to stay on our toes. The Stick has to be put to bed by 6pm tomorrow night." Ruth nodded as Zoe continued. "Sam, you can get off."


The next morning, Ruth and Zoe were called to Malcolm's desk by Harry. Malcolm was sat at his terminal, explaining what he'd found from his search of Curtis' voicemail inbox. "There were no database matches for the voiceprint. I spoke to Curtis' mobile service provider. The footprint for the call he received came from there; The Stick's starting point."

Ruth nodded, understanding dawning. "Someone in that convoy made a phonecall to Curtis just before they set off last night."

Harry turned to scan The Grid. "Where's Danny? Any word? Redflash him. I want him on the phone, now."

"Hanson told Danny that Curtis offered him a driving job. Who's driving The Stick?" As Zoe spoke, Ruth moved to type at another computer, and was followed by Zoe and Harry. "Personnel records from the Nuclear Authority." She clicked a few buttons as she spoke, bringing up the relevant pages. As the computer worked its magic and a photo popped up, Ruth brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "Snap. William Scobey, our missing-presumed-dead team member. He's driving The Stick."

At that moment, Sam told them that Danny's phone was dead. "The Nuclear Authority routinely recruits ex-military as drivers, er, and escorts. Scobey took the job six months ago under an assumed name. His background checked out from top to bottom - including glowing references from a distinguished former colleague." As Ruth spoke she flicked her eyes up to Harry, who fortunately didn't catch her. He seemed to know what she was about to say. "Curtis. Scobey's a plant."

Zoe had put on a headset and was attempting to contact the convoy. "Polestar. Polestar, you have a situation."


Ruth was stood with Malcolm as the first message came through from Curtis. They both turned slowly to look at the screen, and Ruth had a sinking feeling in her stomach as she listened to Curtis speak.

"This is Major Sam Curtis. I have control of the nuclear transportation, known to you as Stick One. You'll see from your GPS tracker our exact location and you might want to start evacuating the area. Almost five hundred British soldiers have died since the first Gulf War. Cause of death: Gulf War Syndrome. Forty-five thousand service personnel recently went into a second Gulf conflict and we're left with an army that can't fight for at least eighteen months. The authorities expect men to take the same risks again and again. With inferior weapons, minimal life insurance and laughable salaries."

Ruth looked from the screen briefly as Malcolm stood up, his face pale. She glanced after him quizzically but returned her focus to the screen, and Curtis' monologue.

"The full list of the issues I demand the British government address has been faxed to the Chief of Defence Staff."

As Malcolm showed Harry his piece of paper, Ruth realised that he must have a copy of Curtis' list of issues.

"Curtis' ransom note. Compensation and treatment for victims of Gulf War Syndrome... ditto P.T.S.D... 50% pay hike across the board... you can guess the rest." Ruth's eyebrows hit the roof as Malcolm read out some of the demands. His voice was low and irritated, but Harry waved him away as Curtis spoke once more.

"I have been campaigning in every legitimate way possible for years, but Whitehall refuses to take me seriously. So now it's come to this. If my terms are not agreed in the next thirty minutes I'll be transmitting a video tape, from my location via sat-phone to every major Western broadcaster. I don't think I flatter myself that it'll be headline news the second they realise who I am. Especially when they see that I have surrounded a truckload of irradiated uranium with fifty pounds of plastic explosive."

There was silence on The Grid as Curtis' voice filled the room. Ruth looked over to Zoe and Malcolm, alarmed. But Curtis wasn't finished yet. "If my terms are still not met within sixty minutes…" His voice trailed off as the camera panned to a soldier. The team leant forward as one, even though it wouldn't make it any easier to see what the soldier was doing. Once he had the okay from his office, Curtis turned back to the camera, with what Ruth could only describe as an evil smile on his face. "Then south east England will be twinned with Chernobyl. Somebody better get back to me quick. The clock's started ticking."

Once Curtis cut the line, Harry turned to his team. He nodded slightly at Zoe, who turned to Ruth, also nodding. Ruth went to Malcolm's desk, where he was frantically typing away, and picked up the phone to the Counter-Terrorism Team.

She was aware of Zoe briefing Harry as to the perimeter they would be able to establish before Curtis set off the bomb, if their attempts to stop him failed. As Ruth wound up her call, Sam spoke.

"What about Tom and Danny?" The Scot was worried, and rightly so.

"Yes, I know," Harry was rubbing his head, attempting to ease a headache.

Malcolm turned to the four of them. "He can't explode The Stick."

"I'd like to believe that," Harry said.

"I mean - he physically can't. The container is made of titanium steel, it's several feet thick. You can run an express train into it, the train will end up in the scrapyard. It requires specialised tools to open. You don't just pop the lid off with a screwdriver."

Ruth was unconvinced. Surely Curtis would know this, there must be another plan.

Zoe hit upon the answer. "Those are oil vats. He's not going to bomb the truck - he's going to bomb those. It's a massive oil fire; the whole scene becomes a giant furnace." She turned to Malcolm. "What would that do to uranium?"

Malcolm's voice was shaky as he replied. "It would make it very angry."


Ruth grabbed the cordless phone from its stand and quickly transferred the call from her desk-line onto it. She ran up to Harry and passed him the cordless. "M.O.D." He grabbed it from her, without thanks; not that she was expecting it, things were far too fraught. Ruth hovered near his shoulder, watching the screen. Before speaking into the phone, Harry glanced backwards. "Sam. Patch me in to The Stick communications. I'll talk to this bastard." He raised the phone Ruth had handed him to his ear, stating his name. He listened for a few seconds, "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."

Without looking at Ruth, he held the phone out behind him. "Keep this line open."

She took it, and checked that the dial tone was on, as Curtis spoke once more.

"You people in MI-5. I know you're listening. I've got two of your men here. They'll each be receiving their very own close-up on international news channels."

Harry spoke into a different phone. "Major Curtis."

Curtis grinned over the screen link. "Identify yourself."

"Are my officers okay?"

"Of course they are, I'm not Genghis Khan."

"Let me speak to them."

"Negative, Mr MI-5."

"We know everything, Major. We even know about William Scobey. So what makes you think we'd put him at the wheel of a genuine consignment of nuclear waste?"

Ruth glanced at Harry. God, let's hope he knows what he's doing. Clearly, he did. Curtis had dropped the cocky attitude and was now looking nervous.

"You're bluffing."

The team could hear Tom's voice, and Ruth blew out a breath in relief. She knew Curtis said they were fine, but it was another thing to be able to hear their voices. Harry continued on, regardless.

"Do you want to open Pandora's Box to find out? Blow that site, all you're doing is killing your own men."

"Listen to him. My assignment was to prove your innocence. There's still a way back from this."

It looked as if Curtis was really shaken now. He paced angrily, as the camera followed his movements.

"It appears no-one is taking me seriously." For the first time, the camera shot included Tom and walked over to them, and forced them onto the floor. "If someone doesn't make me an offer in the next five minutes, I'm going to execute a spy." The rest of his sentence was tinny, relying on the camera's inbuilt microphone, rather than the walky-talky Curtis was using for communication. He was taking to Danny and Tom now. "Like me - you get paid to take the risk."

Ruth watched the screen, keeping her emotions under a tight wrap.

"He's losing it." Harry's voice was controlled, unlike Zoe's.

"Harry, can't we call his bluff?"

"Let me talk to the M.O.D." Ruth handed him the phone, quickly. As they watched, Curtis cocked his gun, and re-aimed it at Danny's head. Tom and Danny both tried to reason with Curtis, to no avail. A voice from the Counter-Terrorism Team on site came across a speaker.

"This is Sierra One. I have a shot on primary. Advise. Over."

No-one moved, and Harry didn't even reply to Sierra One. Tom continued trying to talk Curtis down, and Harry was listening to both the person on the other end of the phone, and the conversation between Tom and Curtis, who was still holding Danny at gunpoint.

"Of course. Thank you." Harry handed the phone behind him once more, and Ruth moved to take it from him. "Sierra One link." As Ruth checked the link to the M.O.D once more, Zoe handed Harry another phone. "Sierra One. Green light."

Ruth glanced at him, sharply; surprised.

Curtis was looking around, his gaze challenging, as he spoke. "There isn't a British soldier alive who'd take a shot at me."

At that moment, the snipers on the site fired. Curtis was walked away from the screen and Ruth realised that he didn't want Curtis to have had to die. She shut her eyes briefly as she thought of all the awful decisions he had to make, on an almost daily basis. How do you balance people's lives for the greater good?


A few hours later, Ruth spotted Zoe leaving Harry's office, grinning in her direction. Ruth raised an eyebrow, questioning. Zoe beckoned her over, and spoke mysteriously. "Go and see Harry." She grinned and left Ruth alone, to follow her instructions. Ruth couldn't help but feel a flutter of nerves in her stomach. She hasn't, has she?! Only one way to find out. Ruth made her way to Harry's office, and entered without knocking.

"Zoe said to come and see you…?" She let her voice trail off, praying that the hopefulness didn't shine through.

"Yes." Harry was stood by his cabinet, a glass of whisky in his hand, and his face an impenetrable mask. "Good work today, you were invaluable."

Ruth's breath caught in her throat, eyes lighting up. Come on, Harry, say it..!

"I'm going to keep you on here, if you would like, as our Intelligence Analyst."

Ruth couldn't help it; she let out an undefinable noise, something somewhere between a yelp and a scream of delight. The next thing she knew she was making her way over to Harry and had grabbed him around his middle, hugging him, mindful of his glass. Before she could think about it, Ruth lifted herself up on her tiptoes and kissed him on his cheek. Harry froze, his amused grin at her excitement fixed on his face. Ruth stepped back, coming to her senses immediately and almost running from his office, mumbling a thank you over her shoulder. She yanked the door closed behind her, stopping to bang her head on the wall quietly. She lifted two fingers to her lips in shock; unable to explain what possessed her to kiss her boss. You'll be lucky if he doesn't change his mind now, idiot!

She sat down at her desk quickly, checking her e-mails. Thankfully, there was a confirmation e-mail, detailing her permanent transfer to MI-5. Oh thank GOD. At least he'd already processed the paperwork, before I decided to harass him! No going back now. Inside, the burning embarrassment Ruth had felt was beginning to drain away, and the giddiness at being a proper part of the team was resurfacing.

Zoe caught her eye and smiled; Ruth beamed back.


It was almost six hours later and the team were all still on The Grid, rejoicing their narrow victory; combining Harry's birthday celebrations into the occasion. Ruth, of course, had her own reason to be excited, and she couldn't wait to tell Tom, and hopefully at some point, she'd find a chance to say thank you to him; for giving her a chance, when she had royally screwed up, in anyone's book.

Everyone had a glass of champagne, and Ruth was chatting near the pods with Zoe and Malcolm as she saw Tom make his way through. She smiled at him as they made their way over to him. "Welcome back." Ruth reached up and kissed him on the cheek briefly, relieved that he had made it home in one piece. Ruth wondered why she didn't feel as awkward kissing Tom as she had felt after she had kissed Harry. The thought made Ruth pause, and she stepped back from Tom quickly, unable to stop herself from glancing towards Harry's office, where the man in question was not hiding the fact that he had been watching her. Instead he caught her eye, and raised his glass. Ruth blushed, hoping that anyone who noticed her red cheeks would blame it on the three glasses of champagne she had already finished.

"How are you doing?" Zoe's voice pulled her back to the conversation, and she saw Tom nod his reply.

"Good, thanks, Zoe."

Ruth couldn't help herself, she blurted out her news. "Harry renewed my secondment!"

"Good for you." Tom nodded slightly, but Ruth noticed his smile didn't quite reach his eyes. Maybe tonight wasn't the best time to tell him; he's upset.

She smiled at him, trying to let him know she understood. At that moment, she noticed Christine Dale approaching the group. Silently, the three of them walked away, leaving Tom and Christine to talk.


There we go! Another update for you! Hope you enjoyed it!

~LouBelle04~