|Who Says You Can't Choose Your Family?
Author: prosfan PM
Robbie Lewis hasn't seen James Hathaway for 6 years. Then one day he turns up on Lewis' doorstep out of the blue, scared and in trouble. And who's that James has brought with him?Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Family - Chapters: 12 - Words: 44,433 - Reviews: 32 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 07-26-12 - Published: 04-07-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7999194
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Authors Note: So, final chapter. I'm not particularly happy with it, but there you go. I hope that the fluff and angst cancel each other out. I would also like to say thank you to everyone who had read or reviewed or favourited or followed the story. Glad that you've been enjoying it. :) Now I have to try and stop Sam from creating ideas, which is unlikely to work. So there may be more in the pipeline, you never know. ;)
Three weeks later, and James' knee had improved somewhat. He was able to put weight on it now, although going anywhere remained a slow and painful task. He still had to use the crutches, but the wheelchair had been folded for a week an a half.
His nightmares had improved a little as well. He hadn't had one for 10 days. Or at least, not up until last night.
Lewis had woken up at half 3 to Sam tugging on his sleeve, and Hathaway screaming in the spare room. He had a harder time waking James than he had any previous times, and he was just starting to get worried before James started awake. He didn't speak, instead breathing fast, and staring at the ceiling. Eventually, Hathaway turned to his side looking for Sam. When James realised Sam wasn't there, he'd turned onto his other side, to see Sam nestled on Lewis' lap asleep.
Worryingly, he didn't say anything, or make a move to take his son. He just kept staring a head, his eyes fixed on a point just past Robbie. Lewis could see that he was mulling over whatever he'd been dreaming about, and whatever it was, it'd really shaken him up.
Robbie reached out and laid a hand on James' shoulder. He rubbed it gently, not letting up until he saw James fall asleep, exactly like he'd done for his kids when they'd had a bad dream. Although, the ex-inspector was aware that this was much more than just a nightmare. Then he laid Sam back down in the bed and pulled the covers over the both of them. He didn't miss James clutch the edge of the duvet tightly, seeking comfort, even in sleep.
As he lies in bed, Lewis wonders if James is ready to go home. The idea is obviously troubling him somewhat, he hadn't had a nightmare in the last ten days, surely it's not mere chance that he has another one the day before he is supposed to go back to London. Especially not one that bad. Still, it's up to James at the end of the day. He's a grown man, and Robbie can't look after him, if he doesn't want to be looked after.
The next morning Robbie tries to talk to James about it. He decides to take advantage of the fact that Sam is still asleep, despite it being half past ten in the morning.
"Get much sleep last night after...?"
"Didn't have another dream then?"
"No". James is being abrupt, and it's worrying Lewis a lot.
"James. Do you want to talk about last night."
"Kidda, it seemed like a bad one."
"Yes." Lewis was getting frustrated.
"For gods sake Jim! How long have you known me? I'm trying to help you, idiot."
"Sorry. I...forget it. It's silly."
"Anything that keeps you awake like that is not silly. Anything that makes you so scared that can do nothing but stare at the ceiling is not silly" James nods slowly. He tells Lewis about his dream.
"I...we went back home. And Sam went to bed. I stayed up for a little while. And then...he was crying and when I went to him, I couldn't find the room. There were all these doors, and I was pulling each one open but I couldn't find him. And he was getting more and more scared and shouting for me and I just...I couldn't find him."
"Then you woke up?" James swallows.
"Nah... Then I found him and there were men in his room, holding him and they shot me. I was lying there dying and I couldn't see what was happening." Lewis looks at him sadly as he continues.
"He was screaming. I wanted to sit up and look, tell him it'd be ok. But I was choking. And he was still screaming. Then I heard another gunshot. And then he wasn't screaming." His voice is monotone, detached. He sounds for all the world, like he's repeating the weather report. But Robbie knows better. He can see James' hands shaking as he reaches for his mug and takes a sip of tea. Lewis lays a hand on his arm. They'll have to have the conversation again, he's determined to make Hathaway see that he's right.
"I know you don't think much of this idea Jim, but you do need to see someone about it."
"What, tell some shrink I'm having nightmares? I'm forty three for God's sake. That just sounds pathetic."
"James, adults have nightmares too. Chronic nightmares. Its a medical bleedin' condition."
"...You've looked into this, haven't you?" Lewis nods quickly.
"I'm worried about you lad. I don't care what you say, you're not getting enough sleep. You my boy, are setting yourself up for some serious health problems."
"I'm fine, I have been for ages."
"No, you're not. You're exhausted, you've just become so used to it that you don't notice any more." James looks away, and Robbie knows why. He's bang on the money and what's more, Hathaway knows it. He drives the point home.
"And if you don't care about yourself enough, which is ridiculous in itself, then see someone for Sammy. Whether or not you can handle him on stupidly little amounts of sleep, looking after him will be tricky with anxiety and depression, which you are at a higher risk of developing." James shakes his head.
"How much research have you done?"
"Enough. What happens if he's gonna fall off something, or walk into the road, and your reactions are shot so much that you don't get him out of the way in time eh?" James bows his head and he's silent for a moment. Robbie regrets being so harsh with him, but he wants no, needs, Hathaway to sort himself out.
Just then, Sam wanders into the room. He's clutching his blanket in one hand and rubbing his left eye with the other, having clearly just woken up. He stares at them blearily for a few seconds before smiling and heading towards James, holing his hands up to be cuddled. Hathaway picks him up and sits Sam on his lap, smiling slightly as the boy snuggles into his side.
"Mornin' Daddy. Mornin' Unca Robbie" He mumbles. Lewis ruffles his hair and gets up. He'll make the kid breakfast. And after that conversation, the best way he can convince James to go and find help, is to leave him with his child for a while.
When he comes back in with a plate of toast, Sam is busily telling James about his plans for police-mobile three.
"This one gonna have wings on. Then it can fly when it goes in'a sea." Sam frowns slightly. "Unca Robbie?"
"Do you have Lego wings in'a Lego box?"
"Er, I don't know. I don't think they make Lego wings."
"How is the police-mobile gonna fly then?"
"Well Sammy, I don't think we'll have time to make another one." Sam snaps his head round to look up at James.
"Well, we're going home later." James says this carefully, he doesn't know how Sam will react to this news, after all, they haven't been home for near enough 5 weeks.
"...Yeah, London home."
"Is Unca Robbie coming with us?"
"Er..." This is another thing that James didn't really want to tackle. Then Lewis comes to the rescue.
"Y'know, I was thinking-"
"Ha bloody ha. No seriously, I should give you a lift back to London."
"Nah We'll catch the train. Simple, I don't live that far from Euston on the tube."
"...With luggage and a four year old? Not to mention the fact that you're still using crutches. Since you can only put what 50% weight on your knee, how do you think you're gonna carry everything? It was crazy enough that you managed to get it all here on your own and that was with two fully functioning legs."
"Well yeah, it'll be tricky."
"I'll drop you home lad. S'not that far to London, hour and a half thereabouts."
"According to google maps, yeah. That doesn't account for traffic though. Thank you Robbie, Its very kind of you."
James makes a game out of packing their stuff up, encouraging Sam to help. The little boy walks around picking up discarded cars. It doesn't take them long to pack all of James and Sam's things up.
Lewis is aware that James is being slow on purpose. He's not going to push the issue, James is going to have to tell him what's bothering him, he's not a bloody mind reader. The only thing that worries him a bit, is that Sam is picking up on it. He's becoming clingy and whiny. And its the first time the little boy has deliberately gone out of his way to misbehave.
He'd gone to find the kid to tell him lunch was ready, and found Sam sat on the floor, pulling all of his toy's out of the bag.
"What are you doing kidda?" Sam looks up at him, his expression one of pure guilt. Robbie doubts that the child even knows why he's doing it, except for some subconscious knowledge that his Dad is less than happy about going home. Once Sam realises that he's been caught, he pulls his toys back towards him, and starts to put them back in the bag. Robbie helps him and by the end of it, Sam is smiling a little.
"Yeah I know, just don't do it again eh? Don't wanna make extra work for your Dad."
"Nope, otherwise his leg will hurt." Robbie smiles.
"That's right. Come on lad, lunch time."
The last little bits of packing were severely hampered by Sam's insistence that he wanted to go to the park. James and Lewis decided that, since there was only a little more packing to do, and since it'd do James good to walk about a little, they should go. Packing up a football, a tennis ball and a Frisbee into a bag, they headed out, going to the same park Lewis had taken Sam to on the day James had gone back to London.
The day was warm and Sam was in high spirits, bouncing on Robbie's shoulders as James walked slowly along side them. He winced a few times, when he put a little too much weight on his knee, but as long as he took it slow and steady, he was ok. Lewis made sure he didn't push himself too hard.
Once they had got into the park, Hathaway lowered himself down onto a bench carefully and grinned as Sam immediately set upon the bag, pulling the frisbee out.
"Come on Unca Robbie...we play frisbee." Lewis groans theatrically as he gets up from his seat on the bench next to Hathaway.
"M'gettin' too old for this." Sam ignores him, pulling on his arm until he's sure that Lewis is following him. Hathaway watches them both play, cursing his knee, and wishing that he could join in properly. But this isn't like it was at the beach, and with the best will in the world, there is no way that he could support himself well enough to play frisbee. Or indeed pick the damn thing up if he drops it. Suddenly, Sam shouts for Lewis to stop, and he runs over to the bench, swapping the frisbee for the tennis ball. He then runs back to Lewis, standing behind the older man and pushing at his legs until Robbie walks forward.
"Sam...what are you-?" Sam stops pushing and then runs away from Robbie a few feet. He turns to survey them with his hands planted on his hips, a beaming smile on his face.
"There. Now Daddy can play too." Sam throws the ball to James, all extra effort and uncoordinated limbs. Hathaway just manages to catch it, grinning as he throws it to Robbie. The ex-inspector is shaking his head at the four-year-olds antics and smiling, as Sam jumps up and down with excitement.
After nearly an hour of this, they finally head back to Robbie's house.
Its nearly nine pm when they finally leave, Hathaway settles into the passenger seat with a little wince. Lewis puts the car into gear and sets off. He avoids the pot hole this time. When they've been driving for an hour, James speaks quietly.
"You know, we won't get there until eleven."
"That's ok isn't it? If you wanted to leave earlier-"
"No, no. I was just thinking, even if you left straight away, you wouldn't get back home until near enough half one in the morning."
"Ah, I'll be fine lad."
"No. You must be knackered. Stay the night. You can have my bed, we've got a spare I'll sleep on."
"Jim, I'm not taking your bed."
"Its...its no problem." Lewis gives him a shrewd look.
"Nothin'...just not sure how I feel about sleeping in my bed. Chrissy you know. All the feelings sort of brought back after everything."
"Well, if you're sure. But you're going to have to sleep there sometime James."
"I know, I know." He glances in the rear view mirror, before smiling softly and twisting in his seat to look at Sam.
The little boy is fast asleep. He's turned on his side and his thumb is in his mouth. His comfort blanket is scrunched behind his head. Every now and then, he shifts and mumbles in his sleep. Robbie glances in the mirror and there's a tender look on his face.
"He's a brilliant little kid James. You better not lose touch this time mate, I'll miss you both too much."
"He is, isn't he?" Lewis can't miss the pride in James' voice and he grins. "I won't fall out of touch this time. I'm thinking of moving back up to Oxford. There's not really much in London for me now." Lewis nods, he can see why the younger man would think that.
They pull up and immediately Hathaway gets out of the car. Taking the crutches out of the back, he bends down and picks Sam up, the little boy subconsciously settling on his shoulder. Its when he starts to limp towards the door, that he realises what a bad plan this is. His knee makes its discomfort felt, and he can't help but gasp as he crosses over the threshold. Suddenly, Lewis is at his elbow, steadying him, and taking Sam out of his arms.
They have a quick sandwich each and then try to make moves to go to bed. Sam seems unsure of his room. He keeps glancing towards his bedroom window. Its clear that he's remembering the last time he was in the room, when he'd seen the masked man in the garden, and his Dad had freaked out. He becomes increasingly clingy and won't let James leave. Even shutting the curtains won't work because "then the nasty man can get to the window and I won't even see him a'fore its too late." All of James and Robbie's insisting that the nasty men are locked away and they can't get to the house, doesn't mollify the youngster. In the end, Robbie goes to get a glass of water for Sam, on the off chance that the little boy actually agrees to go to sleep.
While he is in the kitchen, he hears Hathaway playing guitar upstairs. The lad discovered that if he balanced it properly, he'd be able to play it, damaged knee or not. The song is something else country-like and melancholy. Heading towards the noise, now holding a cup of water, he catches a snatch of the lyrics, and recognises it immediately as Johnny Cash.
"Train of love's a-leavin', leavin' my heart grievin'
But early or late, I sit and wait, because I'm still believin'
We'll walk away together, though I may wait forever
Every so often everybody's baby gets the urge to roam
But everybody's baby but mine's comin' home"
Lewis shook his head. No wonder the lad was so morose most of the time. Every time he picked up that damn guitar, he ended up singing songs that could only be reminding him of the fact that his wife was dead.
Like last time, James trailed off when he noticed that Lewis was standing by the door frame listening. Sam frowned as the music stopped, and Lewis wondered if he really took notice of the lyrics.
"Don't you know anything happy Jim? That isn't about heartbreak or death or something?" James smirked and Lewis was suddenly on his guard.
"I do know a few yes. Could do one from your...era."
"Ja-mes..." Lewis says warningly, but Hathaway just chuckles and within seconds, the opening chords of "La Bamba" are playing out. James doesn't sing the words, and Lewis suspects that he doesn't actually know them. He waits until James is done and then mock scowls at him.
"For your information, I was only seven when Ritchie Valens released that. Its not from my 'era'." There is no way that Robbie is going to give James the satisfaction of knowing that he liked it.
"...You know when it was released, and who released it...how is that not from your era?" Lewis grins ruefully, and James carries on. "Unless you were more of a Flanders and Swann kinda guy."
"Sod off you cheeky bugger, "he says grinning. "I bet you listened to some right dodgy stuff when you was a nipper."
"I have always had an excellent taste in music, thank you very much."
"I was always more eloquent than that too." The tone is biting, but the expression on James' face is pure cheek.
"Get away with ya." They both jump as the guitar twangs. Sam has crawled across the bed and placed his hands carefully on the guitar, before pulling on the strings and smiling at the noise created. James grins and pushes the instrument onto the bed.
"You be careful with that mate." Hathaway pushes himself up off the bed and grabs the crutches, holding himself in a standing position. He's grinning from ear to ear as Sam gently plucks at the strings, smiling as he gets different notes.
Eventually, Sam falls asleep, one hand flat on the body of the guitar. Between them, James and Robbie get him under his duvet and the guitar gets put away. Lewis tries again, to get James to sleep in his own bed, but its not going to happen and they say goodnight.
Lewis hears a creak when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Its probably nothing, but he knows he won't rest easy until he has investigated. Besides, he needs to go to the bathroom anyway. He walks past the spare bedroom where Hathaway is sleeping. He's surprised to see Sam in there, trying to climb onto the bed without waking his father.
"What you doing?" He says quietly.
"Daddy was scared...I went a'toilet an' he was mumbling things an' he looked scared. An' I not wanna sleep in my room cos of'a bad men at the window in case they come back."
"They won't come back Sammy"
"Might be more different bad men" Sam retorts as he clambers up onto the bed and slides in next to James. Lewis can't really argue with that, he can't promise that no one else in the world is ever going to be nasty to the kid, however much he wants to be able to.
"Ok then, just make sure you don't wake your Dad up, he needs his sleep."
"Ok Unca Robbie. I maked Daddy not scared now anyway." Its true, what ever expression James had on his face before, its gone now, replaced with calm. Sam has obediently shut his eyes too and he placed his thumb in his mouth, welcoming sleep. Lewis shakes his head, the kid is right, who is he to argue, they clearly need each other. He goes back to bed and sleeps.
In the morning, Lewis goes down stairs and James has just finished cooking bacon and eggs. Lewis stands in the living room, listening to the chatter of the father and son.
"Why you need oil?""
"To cook it with."
"But why?" Lewis grins as he listens. 'Why?' had been Ken's favourite word when he was four.
"It wouldn't get hot enough on its own. There we are, finished."
"Do the steam thing."
"Ok. You ready?"
"Noooo! Wait I need'a see" Robbie has to admit that he's intrigued by this 'steam thing'. He sticks his head around the door and sees Sam stood on a stool, holding onto the handle of the fridge. He's craning his neck as Hathaway holds the frying pan over the washing up bowl.
"Ready now?" Sam nods eagerly. "Make sure you stand back Sam, its hot." The little kid shuffles back on the stool and gives James a thumbs up. Hathaway grins and drops the pan in the water. He jumps back, laughing as the hot pan hisses and steam leaps up to the ceiling. Sam squeals in delight and giggles. He climbs off the stool and rushes over to the sink, dragging the stool with him and climbing up to watch the water bubbling. Lewis grins at their antics, before turning to look at James.
The younger man is pale, sat on a chair and clutching his knee.
"Hathaway? Shit, James are you ok?"
"Yeah...might've just...y'know...forgot about...the 50%...weight thing." Lewis shakes his head as Sam walks over, concern on his face.
"Daddy? Did you get burned?"
"...No...no, Don't worry..." Sam frowns but he doesn't push the point, wandering off to play. Lewis crouches down in front of James.
"Are you sure you're ok kidda?" James takes a deep breath and nods.
"Er yeah...Probably should have used both crutches." He takes another deep breath and pulls himself up. Robbie steadies him, letting go only when he's sure that Hathaway is truly ok. He then picks up the bacon and eggs.
"Come on, might as well eat this breakfast now that you've gone and injured yourself for it."
After breakfast, they go to the shops. Lewis insists. He knows that James is still unable to drive, and also that the ex sergeant will find it hard to carry large amounts back from anywhere, especially since he'll have to watch Sam as well. So he tells James that he'll take him to the shops in his car. They end up buying a load of tinned food and Sam manages to convince them that its in their best interests to buy him chocolate.
Eventually, it comes to the time, that Lewis has to leave. He has shopping of his own to do, and James really needs to be left alone to get used to his house again. Sam seems to be unfazed by it all, although he's still reluctant to go anywhere near the garden.
"I better be going mate." James nods.
"You're sure the drive'll be ok?" Lewis smiles.
"Course it will. Stop worrying kidda."
"At least let me give you money for the petrol. Hell, for everything, you've practically carried us the last month and a bit."
"Aye, and I'd do it again. You'd have done it for me Jim. No don't insult me by offering it again."
"-Leave it." Hathaway sighs and shrugs, but he drops the point. Sam has stopped playing now, aware that something is changing. Lewis gets up and puts on his coat, and the kid immediately jumps up.
"Where you going Unca Robbie?"
"I'm going home kidda." It is slowly dawning on Sam that Robbie is leaving.
"No. I not want you to go. You have to stay here."
"I have to go laddie, can't live here in your Dad's house forever can I?"
"Why not?" Lewis picks Sam up and hugs him. The little boy clings to him and Robbie is aware that his eyes are going to lose the fight to stay dry soon. Sentimental old fool, he scolds himself as he sets the boy down.
"Because, I have me own house don't I kidda? Gotta go and look after it." Sam's face crumples and he starts to cry a bit. Not loudly or anything though, just sort of grumbling.
"Sorry Jim, looks like I've upset him."
"Ah, he'll be alright. There's a reason I didn't give him his chocolate yet." Lewis grins slightly. Hathaway shifts on the crutch.
"You take care of yourself Hathaway, alright? Do what the doctor's tell you and...just look after yourself."
"Shut up Jim" Lewis says grinning. "Oh come here lad." Lewis gives James a one armed hug, before pulling away and looking down where Sam is trying to squeeze between them, arms held up to James. Hathaway picks him up and settles him on his right hip, leaning a little more heavily on his crutch. They both wave Lewis off as he drives away in the direction of Oxford. The promise of chocolate does indeed stop Sam from crying all over again.
When Lewis gets into his house 2 hours later, he immediately spots one of Sam's cars under the chair. He heads upstairs, looking to unpack his over night bag. Once in his bedroom, he sees a piece of paper lying on his pillow. Its a drawing of Sam, Hathaway and Robbie himself at the park. In truth, he only knows this because each person has their names written above them in James' familiar scrawl. Robbie takes it downstairs and sticks it up on his fridge, shaking his head.
He's going to miss having those two around.
Sam is fine, right up until its time for bed. Hathaway spends 15 minutes convincing him that no one was going to come through his window. He's just got him to get under the covers and he's about to leave when Sam speaks.
"You haven't even tried Sammy."
"I know I can't sleep. Want Unca Robbie"
"He's at home now Sammy."
"Miss Unca Robbie." Sam is pouting and James thinks its adorable.
"I know you do mate. But we'll see him again."
"When is again?"
"I dunno. "
"No. Not tomorrow." James sighs, his knee hurts, his painkillers are downstairs and its clear that Sam doesn't want to go to sleep any time soon. Then he has a brainwave. Glancing at his watch, he sees that its only seven thirty. Its not too late.
"Would you feel better if we called Uncle Robbie up eh?" Sam nods slowly and smiles, rushing to go and get the phone
"James? What is it? Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. This isn't a bad time is it?"
"No, no its fine, just watching crap television. Why, what's wrong?" James smiles at the concern creeping into Lewis' voice.
"Nothing's really wrong. Its just Sam won't go to sleep. He misses you."
"Ah, put him on." James hands the phone over to Sam, smiling as the boy wriggles upright in bed. He hears Robbie thank Sam for the picture and grins, going downstairs to make himself a cup of tea. When he comes back, he can hear Lewis reading a Thomas the Tank Engine book to him, and James realises they must have left one there. The book ends, and James takes the phone out of his son's unresisting grasp.
"He's fallen asleep...Thank you, I didn't know how to make him go to bed."
"No problem James, any time"
"I'll try not to call you every night. He's still scared of the garden, and his window."
"It'll take time Jim, but if he ever wants to call me, don't worry about it. Worst that can happen is that I'll be asleep and I won't answer the phone."
"Cheers. Night Robbie."
Three days later, James is on the computer, while Sam plays near by. He checks his emails and sees that he's received one from Lewis.
Thought you'd like these. Our Lyn is a sneaky lass make no mistake. Anyway, hope you and Sammy are well, I'll give you a call this week sometime.
P.S. I swear, even I don't know when she managed to take some of these.
The bar above the email says ' 8 attachments'. James clicks on them, and one by one, the photographs open up in a new window. There's one of him lying on the sand, helping the kids with their sand castle. There's another of Sam and Eddie playing together, while Robbie watches, smiling. There's the promised photo of the rock-pool, complete with crab. The last photo is of James and the kids asleep on the back seat of the car. Hathaway grins happily, he's going to print these out on photo paper. Apart from a few pictures of himself, Chrissy and Sam together, there aren't really any memories like that around the flat. He goes back to a photo of Sam looking up into the camera and offering Lyn a pebble with a big grin on his face, setting it as his background. James calls Sam over to look at them and his son giggles when he sees the sandcastle. When he's shown Sam all the photographs, he settles into the seat more, already mentally composing a reply to Lewis.
He rather suspects that the grin on his face will stay there for a good few days :)