Lewis sat at the table in the beer garden. He reflected on the last few weeks. After he had come out of hospital, Hathaway had been given a week off work. It didn't stop the man coming into the office but Lewis was grateful for the company and the chance to check on the young man.
When Hathaway had first come out of hospital Lewis had watched him constantly, watching him for signs of a relapse. James had eventually rasped out that he would make it known if he thought he was going to die and would Robbie stop fussing. The only disadvantage to James being in the office but off work, was that he got extremely bored and consequently got very annoying by taking great delight in winding up Lewis at every opportunity. Lewis hadn't said anything though, he'd much prefer annoying, childish James to the indifferent and pain racked one that he had witnessed that long week in the hospital. Sometimes that haunted James had returned in the station. He'd come back from an enquiry or lunch and find the young man slumped over the desk, asleep. There would always be a faint look of fear on his face, telling Lewis he'd been having a nightmare The odd hiss still escaped the sergeants lips and Lewis had known he was hiding most of the pain he must still feel. And he never talked about what had happened. The younger man had got tired quickly too. The first day out of hospital Lewis had brought him home in his car and the walk from the car to the living room of James' house had tired the man out. He wasn't fully over the hoarse voice either. It was slowly getting better, but the sergeant still had trouble talking for long periods of time.
Then he'd come back to work. Lewis had tried to give him light duties, paperwork and the like, but James had insisted on coming out on jobs with him. He seemed a lot better so Lewis only put up a token resistance. He realised this may have been a mistake when an hunch saw them driving past the old asylum. James had stopped mid-sentence and gone white as a sheet. Lewis had quickly drove on and told him to stay in the car while he went to talk to a witness. The most worrying thing of all had been the lack of argument from James, who generally insisted he was fine when he wasn't. By the time he'd got back to the car, it was like nothing had happened. James smiled at him as he got in and started to talk about some gig his band were playing next month and how Lewis should come. The inspector thought about mentioning the incident but thought better of it. James was coping in his own way and if that meant babbling on to his superior about everything and nothing, then Lewis was ready to listen.
They'd only been driving for a few minutes when James shouted at him to pull over. He dived out of the car and Lewis could only watch as he sprinted around the corner after a man who had just taken a lady's bag. The lady ran after him and Lewis followed suit. When rounded the corner he saw the lady kneeling next to his sergeant who was sat on the floor, back against the wall. Robbie got closer and could see the sweat standing out on his pale face. Seeing his concerned look, James grinned crookedly at him and held up his left hand, revealing the handbag dangling from it.
"Got it sir," he said as he stood up slowly, catching his breath. "The bastard got away though. Must have panicked when I collapsed. Dropped the bag and ran." He turned to the lady beside him. She smiled at him as he handed her the handbag. "Don't worry about it young man. You look like you could use a rest though." She looked over at Lewis. "Are you his boss? You're working him too hard."she said in a stern voice. James could only laugh at his bosses offended expression. Once she had left Lewis looked at him.
"Working too hard eh? You don't know the meaning of the word." Then in a softer voice, "You definitely ok? You don't want to see a doctor?" James smiled at him, shaking his head.
"Really sir, I'm fine."
"Forgive me if I don't believe you sergeant, you said that last time." James chuckled softly.
"And I'm in no hurry to repeat that experience. I've just overdone it a bit sir. Probably shouldn't be chasing muggers on newly healed ribs. But honestly I'm ok...Nothing a short car journey won't fix, we going back to the station?" Lewis grinned, seeing the truth in his younger friends smiling eyes. Still, it didn't surprise him that James fell asleep on the ten minute journey.
He looked up as the taller man stuck a glass filled with amber liquid under his nose.
"There you go sir, as a way of thanks." James said, as he sipped his own beer. "Ah. I've been waiting for that for three weeks." Lewis grinned. That was the only reason that they were sat out in the beer garden after all. Hathaway was now allowed to drink alcohol. He'd bought the first one, just like he'd promised he would in that hospital ward. "Tastes so much better after a period of abstinence, you should try it sometime sir."
"Not bloody likely sergeant." Lewis exclaimed, thinking of how Morse would have reacted had he suggested that 20 years ago. "You should be careful, after that period of abstinence as you put it, it'll effect you quicker than usual."
"Yes Dad." came the facetious reply. Lewis shoved him in the shoulder lightly, watching the grin on James' face turn into a smirk. "Just for that, you can buy the next round sir" Lewis grunted non-committally but sure enough, when they had both finished their beers he went up to the bar. He came back with two scotches.
"Get this down you sergeant."
"Sir?" James questioned, unsure where this generosity had sprung from.
"What is it James?" Lewis said in an exasperated voice. "You're old enough aren't you?" James grinned.
"Just about sir. Thank you sir." He watched as Lewis sipped the scotch and then did the same. Both men sat watching the sun sinking in the warm summer air and James realised that he really was fine after all.