Author's Note and Disclaimer: This story is set during the climax of " Life Born of Fire," and contains major plot spoilers from that episode. The italicized lines are lyrics from " Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. I own neither the song, the musical, nor the Lewis characters in this story.
Bring Him Home
The past few minutes had passed in a blur: receiving the news that Hathaway had disappeared without a trace, figuring out the culprit's identity at a baby name website, realizing that the person James was most likely to go to for comfort was also the person most likely to do him serious harm.
DI Robbie Lewis knew that the worst part was that all this was his own fault. If he hadn't shouted at Hathaway and hadn't told his sergeant he never wanted to see him again, James wouldn't have been in danger at all; there wouldn't have been a chance that Lewis was never going to see Hathaway again. They would've exposed Zoe Kenneth together just as they'd caught so many other dangerous criminals.
Innocent jokingly called the two of them " the dynamic duo" after Batman and his "boy wonder" sidekick Robin, though Lewis wasn't entirely sure how accurate the comparison was. There was nothing particularly ' super' about him: a slightly worn-down, middle-aged copper with no formal education.
James, on the other hand, was quite another kettle of fish. Brilliant, conflicted, haunted by a mysterious past, alternately either frustratingly facetious or frustratingly sombre. With Batman's enigmatic demeanour, and Robin's youthful vitality, DS James Hathaway could have been the dynamic duo just on his own.
But if James was Batman and Robin, where did that leave Robbie? Alfred—the always-prepared butler who constantly worried about his master's dangerous lifestyle? Perhaps not, Lewis thought after a moment. Robbie knew that he lacked the prim, fastidious nature that every good butler required. The " always prepared" part was a laugh as well; there were so many things in life for which he'd been totally and regrettably underprepared: his promotion to inspector, Morse's death and Val's.
But there was one trait that Lewis knew he shared with the character of Alfred: concern for the brilliant and undeniably impulsive young man whom he was charged with looking after. Even now, worry was flooding the inspector's mind—making it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Lewis knew he needed something to distract him; otherwise, he'd be unable to properly function when he arrived at Zoe Kenneth's house. Therefore, the inspector turned on the radio in his car. A few, light graceful notes sounded, and Lewis was struck by the familiarity of the introduction. He'd heard this song before; he was sure of it. It was from one of Val's favourite musicals, the one with the French title that Robbie could never remember.
"God on high; hear my prayer
In my need, you have always been there."
" Always been there"—had he? Where had he been when Val had died? Maybe if God had been there when Lewis had needed him, it would have been easier. Maybe Lewis wouldn't have started drinking to excess and wouldn't have been sent to the Virgin Islands to find himself.
" God was there," Lewis could hear James's matter-of-fact tone clearly in his mind. " He was there all the time; you were just unwilling and unable to let him in." The thought of Hathaway caused Lewis to grip the steering wheel with far more firmness than truly necessary, as anxiety took hold of him once again.
The strong tenor voice on the radio continued. "He is young."
Yes, James was young—very, very young, despite his height and solemnity. There was an inherent and youthful "goodness" in Hathaway, one that remained untouched even after all the difficulties that the young man had been through. James would have vehemently denied it, citing the " Garden" as proof that his soul was far from unblemished. However, in Lewis's mind, the whole incident only further exemplified his sergeant's childlike innocence. Hathaway had not acted out of malicious intent but rather out of naiveté. Like any child, he'd merely accepted the beliefs of his elders without question, trusting "wiser" heads to know better than he. And Lewis couldn't really blame Hathaway for it—for being young and foolish and confused.
" He's afraid."
Of course, James was afraid; the poor boy was bloody terrified! How could he possibly be anything else in these circumstances? Just a few hours ago, he'd received a clear death threat. Although Lewis suspected that the sergeant was scared of losing more than just his life. His personal and professional reputations were on the line, as were his self-image and self-respect.
"Let him rest, Heaven-blessed."
If …when … all of this was over with, Lewis was going to order his sergeant to take personal leave—whether it was to Hathaway's liking or not! A few nights of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep and a few days away from the frantic, unceasing tension at the station were the only things that might get the sergeant back to his old self—back to the old cheeky, arrogant, cocky, wonderful James that Robbie missed so desperately.
"Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home."
Once Lewis had told Innocent that he intended to go after Hathaway, a look had passed between the chief superintendent and himself. No words had been spoken for no words had been necessary. Jean's eyes had implored him—no, ordered him—to bring James back whole and unharmed. And Lewis had made a vow to himself that he would do everything in his power to save the young man who meant so much to both of them.
"He's like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son."
God had granted him a son, but he'd also taken that son away. After Val's death, Ken had jetted off to Australia without a second thought or even a proper goodbye to his father and sister. Lewis supposed that part of this was his own fault; his career had so pervaded his personal life that he hadn't allowed himself nearly as much time for his family as he ought have.
In many respects, Robbie saw James as his second-chance at fatherhood, an opportunity to be the parent he should have been years ago. And as much as Lewis needed a son, Hathaway seemed to need a father, a strong male figure in his life who'd always be there to teach, to listen, to console, to protect.
"The summers die, one by one.
How soon they fly on and on.
And I am old and will be gone."
Much as he wanted to, Lewis was unable to deny neither his increasing age nor his declining health. In truth, he didn't know just how much time he had left. His father had only been six years older than Robbie was now when he'd passed away. It wasn't the dying that scared him so much; it was the thought of having to leave behind people he cared about: Jean, Laura, Ken, Lyn, James.
James who still had so much "growing up" to do and who needed someone there to help him do it.
"Bring him peace; bring him joy."
Those were all Lewis wanted for Hathaway—safety and happiness. Was it really so much to ask? Moreover, wasn't it clear that James deserved these things more than anyone else in the world?
" He is young; he is only a boy."
Innocent's " boy wonder" and Lewis's even more so. A " boy wonder" and a "wonderful boy." Robbie couldn't imagine how dull and dreary the station would be without James's mischievous schoolboy grin livening up the place.
"You can take; you can give
Let him be; let him live."
" Please, God, if you're really there, if you can hear me, if you're willing to listen to someone who's vehemently denied your existence these past few years… please, keep him safe for me. Don't let it be too late."
"If I die, let me die
Let him live."
If only one of them was destined to escape with his life tonight, Lewis hoped beyond hope that it was Hathaway who survived. The inspector would willingly—eagerly even—give up his own life for the man who was his faithful sergeant, his trusted friend, his beloved son.
"Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home."
The last high note faded as Lewis approached his destination. After the inspector had turned off the music, had parked the car, and had exited the vehicle, the strong, unmistakable aroma of smoke met Robbie's nostrils. The origin of the scent seemed to be Zoe Kenneth's flat—the same place where Lewis suspected Hathaway was. Lewis's brief moment of fear was soon eclipsed by a far more powerful feeling of determination. He would've gone through the flames of Hell itself to save James. Detective Inspector Robbie Lewis was going to bring his sergeant home—or he was going to die trying.
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