Shit shit shit shit shit, Lewis breathed as he saw the unconscious form of his sergeant lying in the grass. He sprinted over, not caring that he was ruining his trousers, skidding to a stop by Hathaway's side. He reached out and felt for a pulse. Damn! Too weak and too fast. Pulling out his mobile he silently thanked fate that he had signal. He had no illusions that the small, solitary bar on his mobiles screen was James' lifeline. Taking off his jacket he dialled 999 and went through the motions of summoning an ambulance. He wasn't hopeful, they truly were in the middle of nowhere. The only reason he had known where to come was after the local constabulary had responded to the APB on Hathaway's car. The APB that Lewis himself had put out after James hadn't answered his phone when he had called, or indeed been at his flat. He had learned to trust his instincts over the years and he knew his Sarge well enough to know that if he called him on his day off, James would still answer. So when he didn't, somewhat understandably, Lewis was concerned. His apprehension had grown when he'd been told that Hathaway's car had been found in the middle of nowhere and he'd made all haste to get there.
And what had he found? His sergeant lying battered and unconscious in a field. He suddenly remembered that he was still clutching his jacket and why he had shrugged it off. Shivering, how long could James last? Its not exactly warm., he folded the jacket and gently eased it under Hathaway's head. The make shift pillow was essentially useless but he felt the need to do something for the young man. Turning to look again at James, he saw the full extent of his injuries. A deep gash on the side of the man's head accounted for his state of unconsciousness. There was evident bruising on the normally handsome face. Hathaway's shirt was ripped and cuts underneath showed slices that could only have been inflicted by a largish knife. He could see a considerable amount of blood on the mans trouser leg. A slash ran from the hip to about three inches below the knee. Lewis fought down a feeling of anger as he imagined someone inflicting all these injuries, realising that that cut at least must have been done while Hathaway was unconscious. He also had a slight feeling of failure hovering around him. Morse had never failed him. Even that time when the crazy woman had made him dig his own grave, Morse had come to rescue him. And he, Lewis, couldn't even look after his own sergeant on his day off.
A slight moan from the man lying next to him shook Robbie Lewis out of his mood. Instantly attentive, he put his arm on James' shoulder, letting him know that he was there.
"James? James, can you hear me? Come on son. Fight it a little eh?" Nothing but fraught mutterings came from the young sergeant. If anything this unsettled Lewis more. For what little he knew of what had happened, he knew that when you've had a beating like this, semi-consciousness was undesirable to say the least. He realised that the ambulance was going to take its time and it was time James may not have. The lad had lost blood from the knife wounds and by Lewis' call log, must have been hurt earlier in the morning. The phones miniature screen informed him that he had made several calls to Hathaway at half past ten that morning. It also informed him it was now going on for six in the evening. By his own reckoning Lewis had only been at the scene for an hour tops. That meant that James had been on his own in the field, probably in the state Lewis found him in, for six and a half hours. It hadn't been warm and the poor lad had been steadily bleeding. As if to deliberately enhance his worry, James' eyes flickered open and a dreadful rasping cough burst from his mouth. Lewis replaced his left hand on the sergeants shoulder and tried to sit him up to ease his breathing but a sharp gasp of pain from James made him quickly and gently set the sergeant back down.
"Ok, Ok. We won't try that again" Lewis soothed as the sergeant breathed deep, tears of pain welling in his eyes. He willed himself to calm down as heard James' rasping breaths come quickly and loudly to his ears. They were getting worse, the inspector was sure of it. He panicked now, unsure what to do for his ailing colleague. He snatched up his phone and dialled the one person he could think of to help.
"Who is...Robbie? Is that you? Did-"
"Laura!" Lewis said relief evident in his voice, "I thought maybe-"
"-Lewis calm down. What's happened?"
Lewis proceeded to explain the situation. He talked Dr Hobson through what had been inflicted on Hathaway. Then he moved on the the deterioration of James' condition in the recent minutes.
"Now Lewis, I deal with dead people, I can't promise to help the living."
"Laura, you may see him professionally if I can't get help." The pathologist couldn't miss the fear in the man's voice.
"Ok, ok. Do you have any water? A blanket?"
"Er A water bottle yeah. Maybe a blanket?"
"Well go get them, cover him up, the poor lad must be frozen. And try and get him to drink. Little sips Lewis or he'll just choke on it and if that's his breathing I can hear in the background, that is not advisable."
"Thanks so much Dr Hobson, I-"
"-Lewis, you did call an ambulance didn't you?"
"Yeah, but I don't know where we are so they are going have to drive and find the car parked . Thanks again Laura."
"No worries Robbie. Just look after him. And keep me posted yeah?"
"Will do" The inspector snapped his phone shut and turned back to the muttering Hathaway beside him. He didn't want to leave his friends side but he was worried about the consequences if he didn't.
"James? Can you hear me?" A feeble nod.
"I have to go to the car. I'll be five minutes." A flash of panic from the sergeants eyes and Lewis grasped his hand. "Nothing will happen to you James. You need warmth. I have a blanket in the car." He waited until he got another nod and then got up and ran to his car. Picking up the blanket off the back seat, he grabbed the water bottle and ran back to Hathaway. After reassuring him that he was back he set about trying to make the younger man more comfortable. Hoping that the blanket would provide vital warmth, he unscrewed the bottle cap and gently pushed the bottle to Hathaway's mouth. It became obvious to Lewis that the lad wanted to drink but couldn't muster the energy to move. As carefully as he could he moved Hathaway's head onto his lap and gently dripped water into James' mouth. At first the sergeant choked on the unexpected water but he eventually took it well and drank readily. Lewis smiled sadly.
"You don' half guzzle it James. Slow down its all you've got." Silence for a few moments, then;
"I know James. I promise your next ones on me eh?"
There was no answer. James Hathaway was unconscious again. Lewis' mobile rang and the sudden noise startled him. Picking up the phone, he noted how dark it was. He should have guessed it was December after all and half 8.
"Hello? Who is this?"
"Jean, Robbie, what's going on Laura called?"
"I found Hathaway ma'am, he's in a bad way."
"I gathered from Dr Hobson. We've received information from the ambulance."
"Oh?" Lewis said apprehensively, "and it is?"
"There's a gunman somewhere around them. Every time they inch forwards, he shoots at the side of the ambulance. They've stopped trying, every shot is closer to the cabin."
"Shit. He needs to get to hospital Jean, its bad."
Where's your car?"
"Not far, I can see it from here...but"
"But what Inspector"
"He won't be able to get there. He couldn't even sit up", Lewis shuddered at the memory of James' gasp of pain.
"So pick him up Lewis, its the only chance he's got." Lewis paused.
"Ma'am. Tell the ambulance drivers to back off. Go to the roundabout about a mile back. I'll get us to there and then they can get Hathaway to hospital."
"Ok Inspector, we'll tell them now. Oh and Robbie,"
"Good luck". Lewis manages a sarcastic smile as she disconnects the call. He knows he's gonna need it.
He turns his attention back to Hathaway and gently shakes him awake. He is sickened by the amount of pain he is going to have to bring to his sergeant, wishes there was some other way. But he knows that if he doesn't, things look bad for James.
"Hathaway? Look, James, the ambulance isn't coming, er, we're gonna have to get to my car."
"...how...far?" The look in his eyes is one of resignation as he stares up into he eyes of superior.
"100 metres? 150? Not all that bad" Lewis encourages, trying to believe this will be alright. Hathaway swallowed and closed his eyes, before nodding.
"No. No James I'll pick you up."
"Sir...please...need to ...do this..." Lewis looked at his sergeant, saw the determination mixed with the pleading and against his better judgement, he nodded.
"Come on then laddie" He gently helped the young man into a sitting position. The only indication of pain was a sharp hiss. Slowly but surely, James stood up. Eyes screwed shut, he gripped the inspectors arm and Lewis slipped his arm round the sergeants waist, taking James' weight on his own body. Another hiss of pain followed by a whimper. Lewis stood still, unwilling to push his sergeant too hard. James saw the look of concern and took a deep breath.
They eventually got to the car and got in. Lewis couldn't help but notice that James was looking extremely pale. And bloody. He pulled of and drove away, taking care not to hit any thing to make the car jolt.
The ambulance men didn't see him approach for Lewis had driven slowly and kept his headlights off, after all there was a gunman out there. He knocked on the door of the cabin and the startled paramedic jumped.
"Yes. My sergeant is in the car." The paramedics jumped out and quickly set about assessing James' injuries. They worked in grave silence, only speaking to relay information and Lewis found immense respect for them.
"...him sir." Lewis is jolted from his thoughts.
"It'd help if you talk to him sir. Reassurance like."
"Can he hear me?" The paramedic shrugs.
"Even if he can't, it'll help you." He gives Lewis a sad smile. He knows how hard this is hitting the older man. He's seen it before. Father and child, boyfriend and girlfriend, brother and sister. It can be harder for the safe ones. The young man in the bed is unconscious, he's oblivious to what's going on, he's not feeling anything. His superior is feeling it all to keenly. Anger, concern, even guilt. Yes, talking will do the old'un more good than he realises. Lewis nods, sighing he sits side on to where James is strapped to a stretcher. He swallows, considering what to say, how to begin.
"Hathaway. Its ok. Whatever you're experiencing, its ok." The heart monitor bleeps faster. The paramedics exchange worried looks. Lewis doesn't miss it.
"James! Don't you dare give up. You've made it this far. And I don't want to break in another sergeant. No one else'd put up with me. Just stay with it-" A paramedic taps him on the shoulder, they are at the hospital. The beeping has worried the paramedics and they wheel the stretcher into A&E faster than they might do for a simple case of drunkenness. He wishes he'd said something more meaningful, something more that a feeble joke. But Lewis can only look on while his friend is whisked away amid a flood of medical jargon that he doesn't understand.
Sat outside the operating theatre, Lewis is lost in his thoughts. He's been told to try and relax by a well meaning nurse and he does regret snapping at her. But he can't relax. His sergeant, his charge, is lying on an operating table, being stitched together again. He's only too aware that there was no speech, no anything from James since the journey to the car. At least in the field there had been periods where Hathaway had been awake. So lost in his thoughts is he that it takes longer than usual to realise that his mobile is, once again, ringing.
"Lewis. What's happened? How is Hathaway?"
"He's in theatre. Been there for about 45 minutes. I have no more information." Lewis pauses, unsure what to say. "He was so still Ma'am. And pale, colour of chalk." Jean Innocent knows that Lewis is worried, the initial adrenaline is wearing off and he's now dealing with chronic worry. She also knows that he won't stop worrying until his sergeant wakes up and smiles.
"He'll be ok Robbie. He's tough that one."
"Aye. I hope so Ma'am" She decides that she's been as compassionate as she can. Anyway she has information that will ease Lewis' mind.
"They found him you know."
"The bloke that assaulted him." Lewis clenches his fist.
"Good. Bring him in. I have a few choice words to say to him."
"Wouldn't do you any good. He's dead."
"Laura came out to him, some late night walker found him. She says he used a pistol to shoot himself. The bullet is expected to match the ones fired at the ambulance. He had a large kitchen knife with him. The blood on that is expected to match James'."
"Well it doesn't matter now. The bastards dead. If James...Ah there's no justice."
"Robbie. We'll get an ID on him. Closure you know. James will appreciate it."
"Aye Ma'am." Lewis spots the doctor walking down the corridor towards him. "Oh Ma'am the doctor is here, can you call Laura and tell her we made it to hospital? Say I dunno about James yet. She wanted to know."
"Ok Lewis. Let me know when you know more."
Jamming his phone in his pocket, Lewis stands to greet the doctor.
"How is he?"
"Well he has been seriously hurt. The blow to his head is what's worrying us most. We'll have to see how he is when he wakes up. Also he has been too cold for too long. We aren't sure what effect that will have on his breathing."
"I see. Can I go in?" The doctor hears the pleading in the gruff voices and nods. If he didn't know better, he'd swear that this was a father and son. Well loving uncle and nephew anyway.
Lewis enters the room that Hathaway is in. He swallows as he sees the monitor, rhythmically beeping. Sitting on a hard plastic chair, he looks once again over his friends tall frame. The light in the room is dimmed, but the harsh lights in the corridor, serve to accentuate the damage. The blood was deep crimson in the tube. It snaked from the IV bag to the bed, where it crossed over some of the sergeants skin. The skin that was too pale, desperately in need of the red fluid. The room was well heated and the blanket was pulled up to Hathaway's waist. His shirt, ripped beyond repair, had been disposed of by the doctors and a mass of bandages criss-crossed the man's torso. Blood shows through and Lewis can't help but notice it. He sees the gash on the man's head, now stitched and whistles softly. Its deep and long, although it almost gets lost among the bruises adorning the handsome features. Lewis leans back on the chair, it really is warm in here, and falls asleep at his sergeants side.
He is awakened sometime later by frantic muttering. At first, still half asleep, he had thought it was a child having a nightmare. Then something hit his foot and he woke up fully with a jolt, his foot slipping to the floor. Realising where he was, he now knew where the sounds were coming from.
"James? James calm down. It's ok. You're safe. You're in hospital." Lewis again, put his one hand on his sergeants shoulder, the other grasping the younger man's own and tried to calm him down.
"James. Its Lewis. You're ok. Right. You're safe." Hathaway finally seemed to take it in, breathing slower and opening his eyes, to look up at his boss.
"Wha...'pend sir?" Lewis sighed.
"We were hoping you could tell us. You disappeared from the area, uniform found your car. And then I found you." Hathaway swallowed, closing his eyes.
"...Hurts...sir...". Lewis is startled by this. He'd never heard James admit pain like that before. Not without a joke or sarcastic comment anyway. The lad sounds like a confused child and Lewis isn't sure how to deal with it.
"I know son, but it'll get better." James nods. He thinks back over the fragments of memory that he has.
"Don't mention it."
A week later and his Sergeant is coming out of hospital. Still hurting, walking with a cane while that slash on his leg heals properly, but out of hospital nonetheless. Lewis promised him he'd come and pick him up and he's there, in the car, as Hathaway limps out of the main hospital entrance. He can still see the gash on his forehead. He is almost glad James can't remember the actual assault. It would be pretty traumatic he imagined. Although he can't shake the feeling that his sergeant remembers more than he is letting on. He'll have to sort that out, not yet though. The boy needs to relax for a while. Lewis gets out to meet him and open the passenger door. Hathaway folds himself into the passenger seat with a wince and a hiss. Lewis looks over, concern on his face, but the worry melts away when James cracks a wide grin at him. Its the first time he's seen him smile since he found him in that field.
"Sir, I'm a big boy now y'know. Can look after myself."
"Don't be so facetious sergeant" Lewis says smiling. If James is being cocky then he's definitely better. Its goes quiet in the car for the rest of the journey until they pull up at James' house.
"Well here y'are sonny. Home sweet home eh? Now get yourself of to bed. Beats kippin' in a field." Hathaway doesn't answer immediately but just stares at his house. After a time;
"Thank you sir." he says, as he starts to open the car door.
"Away man, couldn't have left you to limp home on your own could I?"
"...That's not what I was thanking you for sir. But its much appreciated."
"Get off with ya. Get some decent grub into your belly." James smiles at the unsaid acceptance of his gratitude.
"Fancy coming in for a beer sir?" he asks.
"Aye why not?" From the back seat he pulls out a six pack of beer can's and hefts them out the car. Much to James' obvious delight.
"When do your pills kick in?"
"Er, not until I actually take them sir."
"How is the pain sergeant?"
"It could be beaten by a few of them I'm sure. Any way. They are more take as you find pills. There's no schedule" James says, indicating the liquid gold in Lewis' hands.
"Alright Sergeant. One couldn't hurt ya." The men grin at each other and Lewis helps his right hand man into the house.