By reading any further, you state, that you are at least 18 years old.
The following content contains violence and situations, which might be offensive for some readers.
So be warned and do not read on, if James Bond like situations do not appeal to you.
After once again a sleepless night filled with restless pictures from his past and the begging face of Lucas, Harry in the morning went to the door of his house to pick up the morning mail.
One letter caught his attention, lying directly on top of the rest of the letters. It was without stamp and address. Someone must have brought it just moments before, as he had heard the mail arrive just about ten minutes ago, while he had brewed his coffee.
When he took it up together with the rest of the mail, he felt some kind of hard object in it through the heavy white paper of the envelope. He rushed to the door and looked out, if he could determine someone leaving from his house. But no one was there.
When he closed the door behind him, he put down the newspaper and some further letters and advertisements on a side-table. He was too impatient to search for a letter opener or even to go into the kitchen to find a knife to open the letter and tore it open with his fingers.
A card fell out. Not any card, but his security card for Mi-5. Utterly alarmed, he went around the house and searched for signs of a break in, but could detect nothing unusual. He went to where he had placed the card last night together with his wallet and there the card lay as he had left it, the card he had brought back home yesterday. When he took it up, he could clearly read the name imprinted on it: Beth Bailey
Had she recognized that they had mixed their cards and wanted to give back his card? But why not come in. She would not have any means to get back into MI-5 now without any card.
And then sudden realization washed over him. Beth did not want to get back into MI-5. She must have gotten all the information she wanted, when she now openly announced having had his card.
It was very unlikely that he would see her again.
Beth now was one more of his many failures. He should not have listened to Lucas to let her remain on the grid after her betrayal. But remorse came too late now. He searched his brain to dermine, when the card-swap could have taken place. They had had coffee yesterday, or had the swap been earlier? He could not be certain. He had been much too distracted since he had discovered that Lucas was still alive.
Did Beth work for Lucas all along? Did they have any personal connection? What was the goal of them? He knew they had not had any previous connection, as he knew Beth’s back-story. At least here he was sure that whatever went on between the two of them had started after their first adventure on that cargo-ship.
Harry was disturbed in his thoughts by the insistent ringing of his telephone. James Bennett, a colleague from MI-6, called. They would make all the inquiries and researches into his former cases. His presence at MI-5 was not required. When Harry still offered to come in, he repeated: “Your presence is not required and not wanted. So stay at home and enjoy your time.”
Harry harrumphed. Enjoying one’s day when the whole MI-6 was trying to find something incriminating in his past was not very likely. How could he enjoy his time under those circumstances?
Harry let it go and hung up the phone. He would need neither Beth’s nor his own card to re-enter the MI-5 building. Though, involuntarily or voluntarily, Beth had given him an opportunity to still get access, in case he wanted to, by leaving him her own card. At least for a short while, till they would recognize that she was missing and would cancel her access permission, as they surely had already done with his.
He would use the spare time he now had, to look through the files Lucas had had access to. He had not been able to concentrate on them, though he had tried several times during his sleepless night.
Harry filled his cup with fresh coffee and started to go through the files on his computer. He wanted to determine a pattern or a topic which might have been of interest to Lucas. But he could not make out anything. There were files about politicians, companies, numerous bank files. But the contacts were splattered all over the political scale, contained different economic branches and the contacts even were spread all over the world. Petro-chemical industry, machine manufacturers, farming conglomerates, biological laboratories, bankers, IT- and security companies, hotel chains, small and big companies, all kinds of companies were involved. The persons appearing in the files were as hard to get into one line as the companies were.
Suddenly one file popped up, which he knew well. The Nightingale file Ruth had prepared to detect the involvement of the former home secretary.
Lucas had known about that? That was not good. Harry had intentionally kept that information from him. Besides Ruth no one else knew about the real circumstances around the home secretary’s death and especially about his involvement in it. And now - Lucas must have figured out the happenings. No wonder Lucas had not trusted him enough to tell him about his own intentions, when he in return had not revealed such an important incident happening during Lucas’ promotion to become section chief.
He thought about Ros. Would he have trusted her in a similar situation? He was quite sure he would have. But with Lucas ...? Their friendship and trustful working together from before Lucas’ imprisonment in Russia just never had been re-established after his return.
Lucas had changed. He had become a grim, efficient machine, not the fun-loving, joking colleague any longer, he had been before Russia. Not that Lucas had been not effective and hard working before, but the easy going smile, always so ready to be on his face, was missing since his experiences in Russia.
He should have talked to him, really talked to him amongst friends, offered him an open ear to listen to what he had to tell about his past.
Now it was too late to feel remorse. He would have to find out, what had lead to Lucas’ behaviour all on his own now.
Harry turned back to the files on his computer.
From the files Harry opened, one thing was clear to him. As randomly assorted as they looked, they all had one thing in common. They were extremely important for world economy, so for some reason or other they were well chosen to get specific information. There was nothing accidental in their selection as he first had thought. He had even the impression Lucas in a way wanted him to see what he had researched.
He at first had thought Lucas had chosen some needed files and selected others around them to distract from the original purpose, as he had done last evening. But the one thing that connected all files was, they had importance for world economy and had the potential to destroy governments, not only single one’s, but around the whole world, without exception.
Lucas must have had some intentions with those files, but whatever they were, Harry had no idea.
He no longer believed Lucas had escaped to settle down somewhere in a hidden and peaceful spot in the world with all that money he had got from the Chinese. He more and more got the impression that Lucas was out there to settle some unfinished business and the impact of his actions would be recognizable around the world. Harry just had no idea what business that was and where to get hold of Lucas.
Harry worked all day on the files, but did not get any further in his research. He also had been right; Lucas had had access to all necessary information to find out the truth about Albany. Lucas had known all along that he handed over useless material to the Chinese. But still he had played the game and had lead Vaughan on.
Vaughan – perhaps he should go and look at the files from that angle? What connection did Vaughan have to Lucas and why did Lucas let him believe he played along with his blackmailing attempt? Had Lucas only wanted the money from the Chinese? Or had he wanted the money to now use it for his own purpose?
Harry at least had the impression that he had gotten somewhere, though he still had no idea where all those hints were leading.
When the doorbell rang, he was interrupted in his musings. He went to the door and, as he had expected, Ruth stood in front of him.
“Is it already that late?” he asked. He recognized that it was already dark outside.
Ruth looked at him and saw his dishevelled state. “Late? Late for what?”
“Oh, late for lunch.”
“Yes, most definitely. It is after 7 p.m. If you did not even have lunch so far, you should really get something to eat.”
With those words she took up a large bag standing behind her and smiled at him.
“The print-outs and ... I chose Chinese for this special occasion.”
Harry let her in and the fine smell of the Chinese dishes filled the air.
“You accept then?” he asked, still not quite believing and observing Ruth doubtfully.
Ruth went into the kitchen, put the dishes out from the bag and handed him the immense bag, still quite full with loads of files and papers.
“Yes, this time.”
Harry wanted to embrace her, but she turned to get some bowls out from his cupboards, preparing the meal with a bright smile on her face. She laid out the plates, while Harry went to light the candle. He opened a bottle of wine after consulting with her, which one she preferred.
When they settled down to start their meal, Ruth pushed a small package over to him.
“You should give it to me properly, Harry.”
“Why did you change your mind, Ruth?” Harry asked her, not answering to her request or taking up the package immediately.
Ruth gave him a half sad smile. “You know, a dead man told me, to take what is on offer and grab my chance for happiness. And though he might have been wrong in other aspects, Lucas was right in this one.”
“Lucas changed your mind?” Harry asked surprised.
“Yes, in a way he did. He did not change my feelings for you. They were there beforehand, so obvious for him to easily see. But he gave me back my belief that I deserved a bit of happiness. I think when I left for Greece those years back, I manifested in my head, that happiness was something I would not deserve to get and would have to sacrifice my feelings for the happiness of others. – Lucas taught me, that I deserved a bit for myself, because otherwise all world would trample over me, use me as pawn and not even be a bit better or happier about it.”
“Thank you, my dear”, Harry whispered reverently.
Harry silently took up her hand and slid a ring over her finger, taking up her hand and gently pressing a kiss on the back of her hand.
When Harry looked up and into Ruth’s eyes, all thought about food was totally forgotten for a long while.
After their meal, they mostly shared silently, sinking deeply into each other’s eyes, and kissing in between, they took up their wine glasses and settled in Harry’s living room.
There together on the couch, he held Ruth’s hand and slowly started:
“Not a dead man changed your mind, Ruth.”
When Ruth looked up startled about his words, Harry hurriedly continued:
“..., but a very alive one. Lucas North is not dead, or at least the man we know as Lucas North or John Bateman, or him, you know, Lucas...”
Harry was a bit embarrassed about his stammering.
“He did not kill himself?” Ruth asked, still not fully believing, what Harry just had told her.
“How did you find out?”
“The lab tests. Lucas must have prepared the dead man’s body to replace him, to leave him enough time to get away safely.”
“What a clever boy. Lucas, Lucas, ...” Ruth wondered. “He really played us.”
After a while, Ruth added: “Who else knows? I did not hear of a search for him in the office today.”
“Nobody knows, except Henley. And he will keep it to himself. All documentation is sealed. The cremation already was done today and the ceremony will be next week. There will be no sign of the truth to detect any longer.”
“Why did you keep silent about it? Wouldn’t it be better to hunt him down and eliminate him to prevent him to causing more trouble?”
“No, I don’t think he is out to cause trouble, or at least I think he has bigger goals than just to pose trouble. – I want to find out more about his motives and intentions. This is the reason why I sent you the DVD-ROM with all those files on it.”
“Then you do trust Lucas, don’t you?”
“I am not sure. He so intensely asked for my help. I don’t know what to make of him. At least I want to find out, what is the truth about him. If the news was out that he is still alive, all the world’s agents would try to hunt him down and there would be no way to interrogate him or even get him alive. No, it is better that everyone believes he is dead.”
Ruth nodded in full agreement.
“He was so caring, even friendly during my abduction, even trying to make me feel comfortable. It is hard to make him out. – You are absolutely right, we have to give him time and in the meantime find out more about his motives on our own. I have printed out most of the files. So far, I could not make out a pattern or connection between them.”
Ruth put the pile of paper on the living-room table and showed them to Harry.
“Oh, I have to tell you about what happened on the grid today. Beth is ill. She called in today and excused herself. Dimitri will be transferred to MI-6 and already got his go to join another department there. He will not come back to your department, even if the investigations go in your favour. Tariq remains there to help the research team of the MI-6 to get access to all files and as we expected, you and I are out, on temporary holiday, as they so friendly called it today. I will not have to go back there tomorrow.”
Harry acknowledged this by saluting to Ruth with his wineglass.
“That leaves us enough time for our own plans, even if we cannot leave the country for our honeymoon. Where do you want to spend it, by the way?”
He smiled at Ruth and gently took her into his arms for a warm and happy kiss, which Ruth gladly returned.
=> Next chapter 3.4 (Coming soon)