Soothing the Soul

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Disclaimer: [Spooks], Lucas North and any other characters you may recognise belong to the BBC and Kudos. All original characters and the plot belong to me.

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“Happy Birthday, Lucas.” Ros threw a card in front of him as she stalked past his desk.


“Thanks … do you …” he trailed off as she walked into Harry’s office and shut the door behind her.


She was the third person that morning to throw a card in his direction and offer a half-hearted greeting. It was the third time he’d attempted to suggest drinks after work but not had the opportunity to get the whole question out before something infinitely more important claimed their attention. Only Malcolm had been remotely kind, placing a box of donuts on his desk and giving him a big grin before squeezing his shoulder and offering a few words of comfort.


“Bound to be an odd day Lucas but mum always tells me that there’s not much that can’t be fixed with a cup of tea and a donut.” He placed a hot cup of tea on the desk next to the donuts.


Lucas brushed his fingers over the box contemplating eating his second one of the morning or saving them for later. For all his kind words and understanding even Malcolm was unable to meet for drinks after work. “It’s Mum’s bridge night. She’ll never forgive me if I don’t take her. Sorry Lucas, what about tomorrow night?”


Lucas sighed and bit into the second donut not caring if he got chocolate all over the report he was working on. People round here had short memories he thought as he licked his fingers. This was the first birthday he’d had since coming back from Russia, the last eight having been spent locked up in the hell of a Russian prison. Not that he’d been aware of his birthdays passing; every day seemed much like the one before, the only respite from the monotony being the interrogation and the torture. There’d been days when he’d craved the pain just so he knew he was still alive.


He hadn’t been expecting a big celebration but something told him that he should want to mark this day in some way: give thanks for just being alive. He sighed and wiped his mouth on a napkin before resigning himself to it being just another day and settling down to get some work done.


--


Lucas had never been a religious man; his father was a Methodist minister and had despaired when, once old enough to decide for himself, Lucas had eschewed attending the Sunday service. After leaving the grid that evening and comparing the merits of finding a quiet pub somewhere and drowning his sorrows with going home with a takeaway and opening a bottle of vodka, Lucas found himself sitting inside St Margaret’s in Westminster. Unlike its much more famous neighbour it was peaceful and empty of camera-wielding tourists. He’d never been inside the church before and was struck by its simplicity. He’d been drawn inside by the sound of a voice, the clear bell-like voice of a woman singing accompanied by a piano. Easing the door open he had crept inside and sat silently in a pew at the back. She was standing in the shadows singing Schubert’s Ave Maria. The Latin prayer washed over him as he sat and watched shadows move across the floor as the early evening sunlight streamed through the west windows. He felt at peace.


The music stopped and the owner of the voice stepped out of the shadows bringing him out of his reverie. He stood quickly and turned to leave.


He heard a slight gasp and then she spoke, “You startled me.”


“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.” He turned towards her and smiled. “You sing beautifully.”


She blushed and started to speak but was interrupted by the appearance of her accompanist, a slight bespectacled man with thinning hair who looked over at Lucas with a disapproving glare, “The church is closed to visitors.”

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