It was about half four when everyone left. Hobson and Jean had got into a taxi, arguing about who was going to pay. Lyn and her family had gone upstairs, sleeping in Lewis' spare room.
Hathaway had stayed a little while to help Lewis clean up. Lewis had insisted that it could wait till morning but, as James had pointed out, cleaning up the debris of a party with a hangover wasn't fun at all. And he'd feel bad having at least made some of the mess.
So they'd made short work of it, bundling all the bottles and cans into a bin bag, ready for recycling once the service resumed. The food was put into Tupperware and the dishes were left to soak overnight. Lewis had to reflect that James did look a little more than tipsy. But he was obviously ok.
Once they'd finished, Robbie offered James another beer but he declined politley.
"Not sure that's a good idea sir, I have to drive...and besides, the recycling bag is full." He didn't mention, that he was probably already over the limit as it was. He wasn't sure how many of the empty bottles they had picked up were his, but he was sure he recognised a fair few of them. He told Lewis as much, earning himself a confused look from the inspector.
"How can you recognise a bottle Jim?"
"...I pulled all the paper off mine."
"That was you! You drank loads lad"
"Yeah well I felt safe sir. You always feel better about drinking when you feel safe." Lewis didn't mention anything about the fact that last time he had seen James drinking any significant amount, the boy must have felt anything but safe. They sat in silence for a little while, James hoping that the room wouldn't spin too much when he got up, Lewis trying to think of a suitable way to tell James he didn't have to leave. He knew the lad would leave out of politeness and even if he didn't drive, it was hardly a good time of night...morning too be walking through town on your own.
"James have another beer lad, stop on the sofa, its late and there's no way I'm letting you get in that car."
"Ssir, really, I'll be ffine." Lewis laughed at him.
"You're slurring your words man! I think I've got a blanket somewhere, listen Jim, you'd never make it home" Lewis knew he was being over protective, Hathaway was a grown man after all. But he did feel some paternal feelings for his young sergeant. And although he'd seen Hathaway defend himself(and others) on numerous occasions, he didn't think the drunk, inebriated young man sat on his sofa with a contended grin on his face, would have the first clue how to defend himself. He grinned fondly, drunk and happy, James looked a lot younger than normal. He felt like he was getting a look at how James might have been when he was 18, 19, 20...before the seminary, a fresh-faced theology student, discovering beer and alcohol by a process of trial and error. He chuckled to himself as he remembered a slightly tispy James, entranced by the fireworks erupting over the Thames on the tv screen, watching them with childlike fascination.
He wasn't surprised when he came back from the airing cupboard, to find the sergeant curled up on the sofa, fast asleep. He gently draped the blanket over him and left him to sleep, heading to his bedroom.
And he found that the best way of dealing with the mild hangover he had in the morning, was to laugh at James' considerably more major one.
To tired to be annoyed, James laughed with him and gratefully accepted the breakfast tat Lyn cooked for them all.
All in all, he felt more positive about 2012 than he had any year before it.
Thank you to princessozmaofoz for all her encouragement and grammatical help :D Any further mistakes in the text are my own.
I Hope 2012 brings you all happines