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The Proxy
09-03-2012, 10:06 AM (This post was last modified: 09-03-2012 10:08 AM by Silktie.)
Post: #1
The Proxy
Warning: Language
Spoilers for season 10

This is for A Cousin, who provided the prompt.

- 0 -

Proxy: A person authorised to act for another; an agent or substitute

- 0 -


He feels nothing. He wonders if he were actually the one who died. Not her. It should not have been her. A wave of grief washes over him; an indication that, cruelly, he is still alive. His eyes burn, but for now he has no more tears. The car goes through a dip and he blinks in surprise; he has no recollection how he got here. On the backseat. Erin and Dimitri in front. The last thing he remembers is lying in the grass with her, her blood on his hand and her cooling cheek wet with his tears. He looks at his right hand. It is shaking, but there is no blood on it. Irrational hope flares in his heart until he examines it more closely. There are minute traces still under his nails and along his cuticles, and if that weren’t enough, the crimson stains on his cuff provide further proof. He knows.

Ruth is dead.

The rage wells up in his chest until he wants to scream. He works through everything - the cursed partnership with their former enemies, which he never did buy into but is obligated to protect. The nationalist Russian group that wants to scupper it. Elena, Ilya, Sasha. And the shadowy man who pulls the strings behind it all. His rage finds a focus.

Mikhail Levrov.

“We need to take care of Levrov.”
It is the first words he has spoken since Ruth died, and it catches Erin and Dimitri off-guard. Dimitri’s eyes flick to him in the rear-view mirror, concerned and watchful. Harry stares back.
“Now’s not the time-“ Erin begins, but he cuts her off brusquely.
“Then when, Erin? When she’s buried? When we’ve dutifully mourned her for a few weeks and life just goes on? When everyone has forgotten her and she’s nothing more than a name on a wall?”
“Harry,” Dimitri says gently, sadly.
Harry closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Levrov remains a threat to the partnership. As long as he is alive, he will attempt to scupper it.”
Erin turns in her seat and looks at him. “That’s not why you want to eliminate him though, is it?”
Harry’s jaw clenches and he swallows against the grief. “No. It is not. But that doesn’t make it any less true.”
Erin sighs, looks away. Dimitri glances at her. “He’s right,” he says, and from the look on her face it’s clear she knows it as well.
She says grudgingly, “I’ll speak to Special Forces-“
“No.” Harry holds her eyes. “She was my-… I’ll take care of it.”
She shakes her head vehemently. “That is a terrible idea. Levrov knows who you are, and you are too close to this.”

Too close.
The words mock him. Too close? No, he thinks. Not ever close enough. And that has always been his problem.
“You leave it to me,” he says stubbornly. “That’s an order. I will get it done.”
He stares her down when she wants to object again. “Precisely because I’m too close, I will get it done.”

They drive on in uncomfortable silence. His mind fills with images of her, once so vibrant, then so serious when she came back from exile, and now…. He can’t breathe.
“Stop the car,” he croaks desperately, and Dimitri obeys after a quick look in the mirror. The drawn, pale face of his boss leaves no room for argument.
Harry stumbles out, takes a few lungsful of air, and fights down the nausea.
“I’ll walk from here,” he announces over his shoulder.
“What? Harry, we’re miles from your house,” Erin objects, but he sets off without a backward glance.
He picks up his tempo and ignores the car that keeps pace with him until they give up and drive off.

He walks, alone with his thoughts, oblivious to the curious looks from those he passes. Alone. The word cuts through him and he has to fight the urge to break into a run, to run until he collapses. Mile after mile he walks as fast as he can. His feet start to hurt and sweat runs down his spine, so he takes off his jacket and slings it over his shoulder. He perversely centres all his attention on his aching feet, uses the physical discomfort to focus his thoughts.
The name is a refrain with every step he takes.
Erin is right, he knows on some level. No matter how desperately he wants to look the man in the eye while he dies, the chances of getting close enough are miniscule. And yet he can’t accept it. He wishes he still had Adam or Ros to call on. Only the best will suffice if he can’t do it himself. But they are no longer there-. He hastily forces his thoughts away from all the people he’s lost. The rest of his solitary, painful walk home, he ponders possible strategies to achieve the thing that has now become his only goal – the death of the Russian nationalist.

By the time he reaches his house, hours later, he is bone-weary. He suppresses the impulse to head straight for the whisky and instead fills a glass with water at the sink, and gulps it down thirstily. His eye falls on the kettle and he switches it on as if on autopilot. Sweet tea. That’s what one was supposed to take for shock. He collects mug, teabag and sugar without really being aware of it, and opens the fridge and reaches inside before he remembers.
There is no milk.
Everything that’s happened on this most tragic of days comes rushing back and he has to grasp at the sink to keep upright. It hits home with crushing finality: Ruth is dead.
Gone forever from this world her impish dimpled smile, her demure beauty, her fierce brilliance. Her compassion and her kindness. Her courage.
“Oh, God,” he moans softly as the tears come again. “Ruth…”

He sinks to the floor, his back against the fridge, and buries his head in his hands. Alone and unobserved for the first time since it happened, he lets go of his emotions. He mourns her unabashedly and unreservedly until he is empty and exhausted. When he finally lifts his head, he becomes aware of the cold seeping into his limbs from the floor, of his numb buttocks. He hauls himself upright and moves into the sitting room. This time he does not stop himself from pouring a stiff measure of Scotch before settling wearily into an armchair. His thoughts wander unchecked, and they jump from memory to memory, lingering on the good ones he has of her, all the time aware of his love for her still burning brightly. He wonders idly when his heart so irrevocably bound itself to hers. Was it on a late night bus ride, when their fingers touched and caressed? Or perhaps on that awful day when he watched her cry over Danny’s body? He remembers how tempted he was to fold her into his embrace and to never let go. Does that mean he was in love with her even then? Maybe, he muses, he lost his heart to her the day she so unquestioningly agreed to stand by him during the unpleasant business with Tom Quinn, despite her own admiration for the man. He can still hear her voice, saying “Not Tom. He’s your best and brightest-”

He sits up suddenly, sloshing some of the Scotch over his hand.
No more Adam and no more Ros.
Tom Quinn, once his best and brightest, and still alive.

- 0 –
Two days later

Tom sits back in his chair and observes the client across the conference table. He has just completed his report on the weaknesses in the security systems of the man’s company, of which there are many. The client looks stunned and worried. Tom leans forward.
“Here’s what I suggest you do,” he says, and lays out a number of measures which would solve the majority of these problems.
The client quickly agrees and signs a contract for Tom to facilitate these upgrades. When it is done, he lingers uncertainly.
“Was there something else?” Tom asks encouragingly.
“Uh, yeah. My son in law is a partner in the company, and I suspect he’s stealing from us. I don’t want to involve the Police, because if I’m wrong, my daughter will never forgive me. Is there anything you can do?”
Tom smiles. “I’ll look into it. Quietly.”
The client heaves a sigh of relief, pumps Tom’s hand gratefully and goes on his merry way.
Tom watches from the window, but he is really looking for something else.
The car is still there. It has changed location a few times, but it has been there the whole day – always parked somewhere that gives the occupant a clear sightline to his office. The uneasy feeling that settled in his stomach the moment he noticed it the first time returns in full force, and his mouth sets in a grim line. He’s had enough. Time to take action. He takes his gun from the safe and leaves down the back stairway.

Tom takes the long way around and emerges from a narrow alley two cars behind the one that’s caught his interest. He crouches down and creeps forward, feeling for the electronic lock overriding device in his pocket. When he reaches the rear door of the nondescript sedan, he pushes the button and hears the central locking click open. He yanks open the door, slides into the backseat, and presses the barrel of the gun behind the occupant’s ear.
“Hands on the wheel, friend,” he orders evenly.
The man obeys, slowly raising his hands and putting them on the steering wheel. Tom registers two things simultaneously: the black leather gloves, and a pair of very familiar brown eyes watching him in the mirror.
“Hullo, Tom,” Harry says laconically.

- 0 –

They walk. There is a small park nearby and they stroll along its paths. Tom is in turmoil. Harry Pearce is the last person he expected to see, and possibly also the last person he wanted to see. He’s not sure on that last point yet – it will all depend on the reason for his former boss’s sudden appearance.
“How are Christine and the girls?” Harry asks, as though there is nothing out of the ordinary about him looking up a former employee like this.
“They’re fine,” Tom responds, somehow not surprised that Harry knows these details, and glances at his watch. “In fact, they’ll be expecting me home soon,” he adds, recognising an avenue of escape should he need one.
Harry glances at him. “They’re visiting your mother this week.”
Tom looks up sharply. “Do you have me under surveillance, Harry?”
He sounds accusing, uneasy, rattled.
Harry shakes his head. “No, Tom. Just made a few general enquiries, nothing more.”
Tom absorbs that, and then stops walking. He looks at Harry closely, and notes for the first time the air of melancholy that cloaks the other man.
“Why are you here?” he asks bluntly.
There is a long silence before Harry nods to a nearby bench. “Let’s sit.”

Once they are settled, Harry takes a deep breath and says, “I want to engage your services.”
Tom stares at him in astonishment. He is more confused than ever – does this mean Harry no longer works for MI5?
“Don’t you have a whole section at your beck and call any more?” he asks carefully.
Harry smiles fleetingly. “I prefer to keep this away from the Grid.”
Tom processes this. “So it’s a private matter.”
“...Yes and no,” Harry says enigmatically, and Tom huffs out an exasperated laugh.
“Same old Harry,” he remarks.
A shadow crosses the other man’s face and Tom watches him, perplexed by the whole thing.
“All right, I’ll play. What do you want me to do?”
There is a beat, and then Harry says, “I want you to assassinate a man.”

Tom begins to laugh, but there is not the slightest flicker of amusement in Harry’s expression. He sobers rapidly.
“You’re serious?!”
Harry just looks at him. It is plain that he is deadly serious.
“You’re out of your mind, Harry. Forget it,” Tom snaps and begins to get up.
Harry doesn’t move. He says softly, “Please Tom, it’s important.”
Something in Harry’s voice makes Tom hesitate. “To you or to the country?” he asks harshly.
“Both. That’s why I need the best man available.”
“So use Adam.”
Harry looks away. “You’re the best man available, Tom,” he says, sadness seeping through every word, and Tom understands the implication immediately.
“When?” he asks gruffly.
“A few years ago,” Harry says vaguely, unable to overcome his innate reluctance to share any details with an outsider.

Tom lets out a slow breath. “I’m sorry to hear that. He was a good officer.” After a moment he adds, “I guess Zoe and I are the lucky ones.”
Harry frowns, alarmed, and Tom knows what he’s thinking. “Sam let me know about Zoe and Danny. Don’t worry,” he adds with a hint of bitterness, “it was after you moved her back to GCHQ. So none of your ducklings broke the rules.”
Harry‘s gaze drops to his hands and he is quiet for a long time. “Yes,” he eventually agrees, “you and Zoe are the lucky ones.”
And there it is again; a plaintive note in his voice that Tom has never heard before.

They watch as a mother passes by, pushing a pram along the path. She glances at them and Tom wonders what she thinks of the two men sitting on the bench. Can she sense the turmoil surrounding them? The dark corners in their souls where they bury the questionable things they’ve done in the name of Regnum Defende? Probably not.
When she is out of earshot, he asks simply, “Target?”
“His name is Mikhail Levrov. Russian, former KGB. I’m sure you’ve read about our partnership with Russia in the papers. He is a nationalist fanatic that wants to scupper that partnership. He’s already made one attempt on the life of the Home Secretary.”
Tom waits, but Harry says nothing more. “Okay, that’s the professional reason. Why do you personally want him dead?”
Harry hesitates, and then asks, “Do you remember when Helen was killed? You told me that we look after our own. You pushed me to have the man who did it assassinated - not that I needed any persuasion.”
He looks at Tom. “It is for one of our own. That’s why it’s personal.”

Tom can’t remember ever seeing Harry like this; he can sense the emotions lying shallow beneath the surface. There has to be more to it, so he pushes.
“Who?” he demands.
“Not important,” Harry snaps curtly, and Tom loses it.
“Not important? Fuck you, Harry! You are asking me to murder a man – of course it’s important.”
Harry shakes his head desperately. “Tom…” he pleads, but Tom will not be deflected.
Who, Harry?”
Harry takes a few ragged breaths, and finally chokes out her name.

The word is infused with immeasurable grief, and the desolate expression on Harry’s face makes Tom realise that she must have been much more than a colleague to him. His heart goes out to Harry and he immediately regrets pushing so hard for a name, but it can’t be undone.
He sighs. “You and Ruth...? I didn’t know.”
Harry wipes a hand over his eyes. He can hear the remorse in Tom’s voice, so he says, “We were going to leave the Service after this operation. Together.”

Tom says nothing. What can he say? Harry has probably heard more than enough empty condolences already. He thinks about the Harry he used to know, and wonders how Ruth ever managed to break through that man’s barriers. But break through she clearly did, and Tom does not for one second doubt that Harry must have loved her deeply to react like this. His thoughts turn to Ruth; eager, brilliant, slightly clumsy Ruth with the wonderful smile, who was so happy to join MI5. He remembers Danny, and Adam, and so many others that paid the ultimate price. The anger flares up inside, and he knows. Had he been in Harry’s position, he would have done exactly the same.
We look after our own.
It is still true for him despite the many years he’s been on the outside.
He turns to Harry, and holds out his hand.
He says only one word.

- 0 –

Five Ways to Kill a Man
By Edwin Brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways to kill a man.
Simpler, direct, and much more neat is to see
that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.


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09-03-2012, 10:21 AM
Post: #2
RE: The Proxy
Wow ... simply perfect description of Harry after Ruth. So sad and so much IC. And Tom's reactions were so well done. Thanks for sharing

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Thanks to TygerBright for the wonderful sig.
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09-03-2012, 02:12 PM
Post: #3
Ruth RE: The Proxy
Well, I wasn't expecting to shed a few tears this Friday morning, but then again I certainly wasn't expecting to find another lovely story by Silktie, either. I think you really have the emotions nailed, especially those of Harry. It's a somber story, but it's so very well done that it is enjoyable.

Zaf: "Shouldn't you be in prison or something?"
Ros: "This is the something."
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09-03-2012, 03:40 PM
Post: #4
RE: The Proxy

If this is what develops when you let my *insufferably presumptuous idea* *rattle around* your *empty mind,* remind me to be much more insufferable and presumptuous in future. Wink

That was excruciatingly awesome, dear! Thhug

Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet [Spooks];
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

~Wm. Shakespeare, Hamlet
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09-03-2012, 07:23 PM
Post: #5
RE: The Proxy
Fantastic surprise to see another story from you and as brilliant as always! You always write the characters so well, minimal dialogue that has maximum impact! Thanks to AC as well so the prompt!

Being very cheeky, if you're ever looking for a prompt (and please feel free to completely ignore this) I'd love to read your take on Harry and Ruth living and working together, him for MI5 and her for the HS, a kind of 'AU' end of S10 or a kind of followup to Thicker than Water. You write those mixes of drama combined with HR so very very well!
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09-03-2012, 09:42 PM
Post: #6
RE: The Proxy
That was just amazing Silktie. You write pain on a page so well. Oh Ruth....

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10-03-2012, 04:58 AM
Post: #7
RE: The Proxy
Someone please pay Peter Firth and Matthew MacFadyen to film this.

I've had an urge for some time to write a Harry and Tom story set a way down the track post-Levrov, and I may yet do so. This, though, is just brillant stuff, Silktie. Especially the way you linked everything and showed Harry putting the pieces together.

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17-03-2012, 12:02 PM
Post: #8
RE: The Proxy
I love your stories so much, but I just can't enjoy the ones featuring Ruth's death/ aftermath. Still sitting in the corner of denial. lol. But good on you for tackling it.
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