Author's note: I did intend this to be ready yesterday, but lots of little disctractions scuppered my plans. Not the least being the fact that I rediscovered the Phantom of the Opera film. This is a little piece of fluff that I have been promising due to the amazing about of angst my stories normally have in.
Hathaway looked up as another bauble fell off the tiny, precariously decorated, plastic Christmas tree that Laura had enforced upon their filing cabinet. He grunted quietly at it in reproach and turned back to the paperwork littering his desk. Just as Lewis thought the incident was forgotten, James put down his pen, turned to face the tree fully and muttered;
"Shouldn't that bloody thing have been taken down by now!"
Lewis couldn't help grinning at his sergeants grumpy demeanour, not really able to blame him for it. After all, it was the 27th of December and they were sat in the office trying desperately to finish the paper work before the end of the year.
"Ah come now James, where's your Christmas spirit?"
"It went the same way as Christmas sir." James said, with all the petulance of a young child. Lewis stopped grinning. He didn't know what James' Christmases were like, but some how he didn't think they were as family filled as his own. This year hadn't been as bad as previous ones, he'd gone up to Manchester to be with Lyn, Tim and their bairn Eddie. It had been lovely and he'd insisted that the little family came down to him for New Year since both Lyn and Tim were off work.
"Really? Christmas that bad was it?"
"Nah...well it could have been worse. Went to my uncles, my Dad's side, my cousin Luke has just come back from Italy after 4 years and we used to be pretty close so it was nice to see him again.." Hathaway looked sheepish, but only for a second. Still, Lewis wasn't going to it lie.
"What?...Hathaway, you only get that look when you've done something wrong...and got caught having done it."
"I er, I wanted to ask you a favour sir."
"Oh aye?" Lewis replied, his eyebrow arched in question, a slight smile on his face at James' reticence.
"Yeah I er. Sir would you mind phoning me on New years eve? In the evening at about 8?"
Whatever Lewis was expecting, it wasn't that.
"Er, yeah sure Jim, Mind if I ask why?"
"Its just that, well my uncles house, that was ok, more than ok, nice even. Was the first enjoyable Christmas in a little while actually."
"I sense a 'but' just around the corner sergeant." James nodded, conceding Lewis statement.
"But, New Year's eve. Well that's a whole different board game. It'd probably be even more unbearable if board games were involved come to think of it."
"What's so bad about it Hathaway, it's a great holiday?"
"Not," James ground out, "If you have to spend it with my aunt." Lewis wondered, not for the first time, where Hathaway's parents were in all this. Lewis had long since come to the conclusion that his young colleagues mother and father were no longer alive. He had his hunches about what happened to one of them as well, the lad had always reacted badly to the suicides they came across. Although it turned out that Jane Templeton had been murdered, he could never forget the look of sorrow and confusion on his sergeants face as Lewis had tried to pummel life back into her. He remembered James refusing to pull Hugh Mallory up to safety until he had admitted he wanted to live. Not the most conventional way of saving someone from themselves it had to be said. But he wisely didn't ask. He'd learnt long ago with James that you had to wait for him to tell you anything. You ask him, and that's invasion of privacy.
"Is she so bad?"
"You don't know the half of it. I don't think she likes anyone in our family, except perhaps her husband and he's been dead 3 years. But she loathes me."
"How do you mean 'loathes'?"
"Well she is amazingly anti-religious, makes you look like a priest sir." Lewis snorted at that. "And so, me training in the seminary went down well. I'd thought she'd have been happy when that fell through, but no, she just delighted in letting me know I'd failed."
"I bet you needed that". Lewis felt angry at this woman that he'd never met. He saw in his minds eye, an already disillusioned younger James that was having the full force of what he'd lost, shoved right back in his face by someone who should have been on his side. James' voice brought him back to the office.
"Exactly, and for some reason she's taken offence at the fact that I'm now a detective. I have no idea what she's got against me, but an entire night of her getting drunk with my other cousins, none of whom I particularly like, bemoaning and belittling every thing I have ever done, is not a good way to see the new year in. Honestly sir, if you ever get called out to a murder of a Mrs Patricia Groves on new years eve, just arrest me outright."
"Ah, so you want out then? Invent an emergency call?" They both grinned as they remembered Lewis saying the exact same words 3 years before.
"Yeah, if you wouldn't mind sir."
"No problem lad. Wouldn't want two thousand and twelve to start with you languishing in a cell, would I?" James smiled happily.
"Thank you sir, you might just have saved my career."
Both men turned back to their paperwork, slightly happier than when they started.