I wrote this story for yuletide 2010 as a present for missmalapert who had wished for a romance story for Morse and Lewis. As she was also curious about how their relationship developed, both professionally and personally/romantically, I wove my story into the plot up to the episode Masonic Mysteries. For that reason, this fic contains a lot of quotes from the show, I don't claim any rights to those words or any of the appearing characters.
The day he first meets Lewis isn't what Morse would call a good day. The woman he had developed an interest in is dead. He doesn't pay the young Sergeant standing just inside Anne Staveley's house a lot of attention when he arrives, his mind is reeling with other thoughts.
He becomes aware of Lewis when the Sergeant nearly arrests him as a burglar a day or two later. Their following discussion at the close by pub shows that Lewis, a young Northerner, nowhere near as educated as Morse himself, has a brain and knows how to use it. Even if it means that Lewis suspects he might be involved in Anne Staveley's death. Still, Lewis has left a positive impression with Morse. A man like this should not have to work with someone like Bell, Morse thinks.
Another couple of days later, Morse's luck turns.
Investigation of the murder of Anne Staveley
The White Horse Pub, late morning, Superintendent Strange and Chief Inspector Morse have been discussing Morse's possible involvement in the murder of Anne Staveley
"All right, Morse, I believe you had nothing to do with the murder," Strange says. "So, with Bell gone, I want you to take over the case in the morning. You seem familiar enough with it anyway."
"May I ask that you assign Sergeant Lewis to me?" Morse asks between gulps of his pint.
Strange seems surprised. "You of all people are asking me to assign you a partner? You've managed to fend off all my prior attempts to do so. Why Lewis?"
"Well, he's been working the case from the start..."
"I doubt he knows anything about it that you don't." Strange seems wary.
"I'd still quite like him to work with me on this case. He's not been assigned to anyone else yet, has he?"
"Well, no, I meant to speak to him about that later today. But... you and Lewis? Do you think that's a good idea, Morse? I'm sure we can find someone better suited..."
"Lewis will be fine, thank you, Sir."
Strange shakes his head, bewildered. "All right, Morse, he's yours for this case."
"Thank you, Sir," Morse says and contentedly downs the remains of his pint.
Morse and Lewis prove to be a successful team, though it takes them time to figure out how to deal with each other. They are, after all, quite different people. Still they manage to overcome both their differences and Strange's doubts and solve the case. Morse isn't sure whether the day they finally close it is a good or a bad day. The case may be closed, but it also concludes his partnership with Lewis. As annoying as Lewis's cheerfulness and lack of education can be, he's grown rather fond of the younger man. But he remembers the words Strange said to him over their pints: 'He's yours for this case.' The case is over.
Jericho, outside Anne Staveley's house, the day the suicide notice has been found
"I'll see you tomorrow, Sir," Lewis tells the retreating figure of Morse but never gets a reply. Confused, he looks after his new boss. The man still is a mystery to him in so many ways. But he is clever, those rumours he had heard definitely were true. Finally he shrugs and drives home to his family.
Superintendent Strange's office, the following morning
"You wanted to see me, Sir?" Lewis asks as he enters Strange's office.
"Ah, Lewis. Yes, do come in." Strange looks at some papers on his desk, then focuses on the young Sergeant. "So, Lewis, with Bell promoted we'll have to find someone else for you to work with..."
Lewis is so surprised by this that he cuts his boss off. "I thought you had assigned me to Chief Inspector Morse, Sir?"
"For the Staveley case, yes. I suppose you must be glad to be rid of him again."
"So, this wasn't a permanent assignment?"
"You and Morse?" Strange seems on the verge of laughing out loud, but doesn't. "Look, Lewis. Morse is..."
As the Superintendent struggles for words, Lewis spurts out the first words that come to his mind, words that Morse himself said to him when he told him they'd be working together. "He's a quite different kettle of fish than Superintendent Bell."
Strange seems surprised. "Well, yes, I suppose that's one way to put it." He slightly frowns at the young Sergeant.
"I'm sure I can learn a lot from him," Lewis continues.
"Lewis, are you trying to tell me you want to keep working with Morse?"
"I don't see why I shouldn't, Sir."
And with that, a partnership is formed. A partnership that is bound to last for a very long time.