Authors Note: Right last chapter (Unless the future epilogue thing I had an idea for actually happens in my head). Lots of Angst and hopefully lots of fluff. Thank you for reading :)
James wakes up an hour later, and Robbie grins as he nuzzles the teddy sleepily. He then appears to realise where he is and he rolls over, sitting up and stretching.
"Mornin'...Er, What's the time?"
"S'only half eight." James nods turns to look at Sam who is still fast asleep, thumb firmly in his mouth.
"I think I was having a nightmare last night...he came and gave me the teddy while I was sleeping." Suddenly, as they sit there, Sam speaks;
"Yeah Sammy?" There's no answer and it soon becomes clear that Sam is still asleep. The little boy's brow furrows and he whimpers quietly. Robbie looks up, and he can see that James looks stricken.
"You don't think?...Chronic-"
"-Don't jump the gun James. He's a kid, kids have bad dreams. There's no reason to think you've passed it on to him. I've done the research remember. Besides, whether he's fully aware of it or not, he's nearly lost you twice in the last three months. That's bound to have an effect on him." Hathaway looks unsure but then Sam calls out in his sleep again, and this one sounds more panicked. James gathers the little boy in his arms and gently runs his thumb over Sam's temples, quietly mumbling reassurance. It works, and Sam settles back into a peaceful sleep. Once he's sure that Sam is going to stay calm, James puts him back down on the bed and stands up.
"Never been one to say no to breakfast Jim."
Sam wakes up just as James dishes up bacon and eggs. He's none the worse for the dream he had, clearly he can't even remember it.
"Daddy!" he says, as he runs over to Hathaway, trying to climb up his father's leg, which is somewhat hampered by the fact that he's holding Fluffy in one hand. James firmly but gently stops him.
"Not while I'm carrying things Sammy eh? Tell you what, can you take this and put it on the table for me?" Hathaway could almost see Sam puff his chest out as he accepted the responsibility.
Robbie is sitting on the sofa, looking through an old newspaper, when he looks up to see Sam trying to push the plate of bacon onto a table that is a foot taller than him.
"Unca Robbiiee? I not tall enough. I can has help please?" Robbie chuckles and walks over, taking the plate off the little boy and safely placing it on the table.
"There you go kidda."
"Thank you Unca Robbie...We not tell Daddy?" Robbie grins.
"Nah, lets see if we can fool him eh?"
Of course, James has heard this exchange from the kitchen, but Sam sounds so happy at the plan that he decides to play along. He walks back in with the toast and Sam points proudly at the plate of bacon.
"Well done Sam. You must have grown eh?" Sam grins and nods, looking at Robbie, who winks at him. They sit down to breakfast and Sam happily eats more than his fair share, showing that he is most definitely over his illness a few days before. After he's finished, he scrambles onto Hathaway's lap and sits there as James eats.
"You going to help me wash up eh little man?"
"Good boy. Come on, go and get the stool from the bathroom." Sam rushes off and Lewis smiles.
"You helped him didn't you?" Lewis chuckles in response to James' question.
"Oh aye, he's about a foot too short." They both smile as Sam comes back in, dragging the stool along with him. Robbie gets up.
"Well I'll leave you two lads to the washing up." James doesn't banter with him, he knows that Robbie is going talk to Innocent and he doesn't want to bring it up with Sam about. Instead he smiles and picks up Sam, stool and all, carrying him into the kitchen.
James can't help but notice that Sam is a lot quieter that he had been before. He puzzles over it as he stands behind his son at the sink. After the last few days, he savours this chance to be close to his son, knowing that Sam won't just run off to do something else at any given moment. The little boy looks up at him as he reaches for the tap and James feels such a surge of protectiveness for the child, that it almost knocks him back.
Which is why its bothering him that his son seems sad about something. He doesn't want to think Sam could feel sad. When he took Sam out of Innocent's arms the day before, he'd vowed to himself, that the next person to put his son in that state wouldn't live to regret it. At first, that knowledge that he was ready to kill someone had scared him a little. But then he realised that it didn't make the feeling any weaker.
James knows that he has to handle this carefully though, Sam hasn't mentioned what's upsetting him, he doesn't seem to want to talk about it much. This mean James is going to have to be sneaky about getting the information from him.
"He's on my bed." Sam has been very good at keeping the bear out of trouble, making sure he's not putting it near anything that could potentially damage it. James knows that its making Robbie happy; seeing Sam handle the toy with such care.
"Why isn't he helping us?"
"He might get wet and hurted."
"You could put him over there," James indicates to the other side of the kitchen. "He could watch us wash up."
"No...Fluffy he's on my bed thinking."
"Oh yeah? Did he tell you what he's thinking about?" Sam nods slightly and James knows he's onto something.
"Well, is it something Daddies are allowed to know?" Another little nod. Sam has turned to face the sink and won't look at him.
"Is it something that Sam is going to tell me? You never know, I might be able to make Fluffy feel better."
"...scared about if his Daddy will leave." James sighs in his head. He notices that the kid doesn't use Fluffy as a buffer any more.
"Well, Fluffy's daddy isn't here is he?" Sam shakes his head.
"...But my Daddy is."
"Yes I am, and I'm not going to leave."
"You...you nearly did. Nearly went with Mummy." James doesn't need to know his son well to know that Sam is almost in tears, and he wishes he knew what the best thing to say is. Lewis would know.
"But I didn't Sam." The boy sniffs and James dries his hands, before picking Sam up and sitting him on the counter. The child stares at the floor. "Look at me Sammy. I didn't leave did I?"
"Still might. I scared."
"What are you scared of eh mate? I'm not going anywhere."
"You miss mummy?"
"Of course I do Sammy. I miss her lots."
"I scared that...scared you go in a hostipal again an' need the tube...but then you miss Mummy...an'...an'" Sam starts to cry properly now and James frowns as he picks the boy up. He can't work out where this is going, its been a long time since he was four, he can't understand how Sam thinks.
"Sssh, sssh little man. Its ok. Come on, tell Daddy what's upsetting you."
"You miss Mummy, an' you in'a hostipal with all tubes an' heart screens...and I scared you miss Mummy so much...an' you want to see her, so...so you go with her and I not see you again." That hits James like a punch in the chest. He can't stomach the thought that Sam would think that he'd rather die and be with Chrissy than look after him. Yes, he misses his wife, there's a part of him that will always be empty. But his son is everything and he'd never, ever leave him.
"No Sam," He cuddles the crying child. "I do miss mummy, but I'd never leave you like that, not on purpose. I love you, you silly little boy. I'd miss you to much to leave." Sam sniffs and tucks his head under James' chin, thumb in his mouth.
"P'omise?" James swallows. He can't promise that he's never going to die. Because he knows he will one day. But then he remembers what Lewis said to him all those weeks ago. It doesn't matter if you can't promise it. He's too young to grasp that anyway. A white lie every now and then, its ok James.
"I promise Sam. I'm not gonna leave. Even when I really miss Mummy."
"Even when you crying?" James blinks, he hadn't realised that Sam had noticed that.
"...Yeah Sammy. Even when I miss Mummy and I'm crying...I'm still not going to leave. Alright?" he's rewarded with a small nod.
"Come on, lets go and see what Uncle Robbie's up to eh?"
Lewis takes it all in with a single glance as the two Hathaway's walk into his room after James knocks. He sees the slightly haunted look in James' eyes, that he gets when things make him uncomfortable. He sees the evidence of tears on Sam, and the way the child is holding on to James' hand as if his life depended on it. He doesn't say anything though, its up to James to share it. He's a grown man, and although Lewis does feel paternal towards him, he does need to remember that James is more than capable of looking after himself. Most of the time anyway.
"Done the washing up then?" He says lightly and James looks gratefully at him for not questioning what has made Sam cry.
"Yes Unca Robbie. Fluffy is safe on a'bed and Daddy not gonna leave." Robbie takes the sentence in his stride, not displaying of the confusion that he feels, as Sam comes over to sit next to him on the bed.
"I should hope not. There's a lot of your growing he has to stick about for yet." He risks a look at James, who meets his eyes, before ducking his head and leaving the room. Sam seems unfazed by this and he continues to talk to Robbie, who is staring after James.
"Right bonny lad, this old man needs some tea, what do you think?"
"I can have tea as well?" Robbie hesitates.
"I'm not sure its a good idea for you kidda. Caffeine and little boys don't mix."
"Will it make me dead?" Robbie smiles sadly. He can see that anxiety about death is going to be a bit of a problem for James where Sam is concerned for a while.
"No, it won't kill you lad. Its just best to wait till you are a little older I think." Sam nods and Robbie gets up, letting the kid take hold of his hand. He has a nagging feeling that he should be looking for James, and trying to find out what's wrong.
A quick sweep of downstairs, reveals that James must be in the garden. After settling Sam on the sofa with a cup of juice and a kiddie programme (That one about the welsh fireman), and making two cups of tea, Robbie heads out to talk to his younger friend.
James is sat on the patio, back against the wall and knees drawn up. Robbie sits down next to him.
"What's wrong lad."
"Nothin'" Hathaway mumbles, as he accepts the cup of sweet tea that Lewis has handed to him. Lewis sighs. James couldn't have sounded more like a twelve year old Ken if he had tried.
"Really? So why are you hiding out here then?" James keeps quiet and trains his gaze on a fixed point directly in front of him.
"Ok, lets try something else...Why was Sam crying?" James looks down and Lewis sighs again.
"James? Look kidda, you can keep it inside you if you want, I'm not going to force you to talk. But its making you feel like shit, and at least if you talk about it, then you let some go. You know I'm right mate. Tell me now, before I go home later. Otherwise, you're going to stew on it. And I won't be able to relax, knowing that something is making you feel like this." James takes a deep breath, but he's still not ready to look at Lewis.
"...Sam...He, er...he thought that I was going to...He didn't mean it like he said it of course...but..."
"What are you trying to say kidda?" James takes another deep breath, seemingly trying to organise his thoughts.
"Sam thought, er, he thought that if I went back to hospital, that I miss Chrissy that much that I'd...I'd choose to be with her." James sniffs and rubs his forehead. "He actually thought that I'd give up on him and die to be with Chrissy."
"James, he's four, he doesn't think like you do, you have to remember that."
"But how? How can he think I'd abandon him like that?" Lewis laid a hand on James' arm, and tried not to feel offended when James flinched.
"Jim, you've got to remember that he's only four. Now I daresay that one day, he'll be as clever as you, but right now, he's four and can only think like a four year old."
"Listen Jim. You've nearly died twice and he's been there for both times. Christ, he was on his own with you the second time James. When Chrissy died, he wasn't there was he?"
"N-no he wasn't there. Thank God he wasn't with her...if I'd have lost both of them..." Robbie doesn't doubt that it would have destroyed James. There would be no way he'd be sat here with the man if he'd lost his son as well as his wife that night. He shivers as he realises that, had that happened, James would be in prison...or dead. He doesn't dwell on the fact, that he might not have even known. Robbie carries on, determined to stop James thinking about the what if's'.
"Right. So she went out one day and didn't come back. But you, you were safe at home and he could see you, and he knew you were there."
"I guess so yeah."
"Except now, you've been home and at mine and you've been taken to hospital. Twice he's seen you need help to breathe. Now consciously, he knows your better now and he's fine. But subconsciously, he has probably realised that even home isn't safe, and you could die."
"That makes sense, but... I just...He thought I'd leave..he-"
"-He doesn't realise that you wouldn't have a choice Jim. He doesn't see death like we do." James nods slowly and Robbie thinks he may have got through to the younger man.
"I wish he never had to see it again. I'm going to leave him some day aren't I, I can't live forever." The younger man shudders a little as he hugs himself a little tighter.
"Is it selfish that I want to die first Robbie?" Lewis squeezes James shoulder. He understands completely. The need for James to have Sam outlive him, because the alternative is too much for the young man to even try and contemplate. He doesn't understand why James is thinking about it tough. He's healthy (apart from his knee, but still, for a man that's been in Intensive Care twice in the last 90 days, he's pretty healthy), and there's no indication he needs to be thinking about his mortality. But Robbie knows that there's no point trying to tell this to Hathaway. So he just keeps his hand on James' shoulder, trying to offer some form of reassurance, even though he's not even sure what he's trying to reassure him about.
"No bonny lad, its not selfish at all." James breathes in deeply and blinks, shifting against the wall. "Now, come on lad. Lets go inside eh? Sam will wonder where we've got to." They head inside and James goes to the bathroom to wash his face while Robbie makes another cup of tea for them both.
When he comes back in, James is sat on the sofa and Sam has climbed up to stand on his thighs. Sam plants his feet on James knees and grabs his hands as he leans back as far as he can, laughing as he does so. James is grinning, and although there's still sadness in his eyes, Lewis can see he's sorting his head out. Sam falls forward onto James' front and Hathaway cuddles him. He pulls Sam down so he's cradling him as he would a baby. Sam smiles and snuggles into him. Once he's settled, Sam grabs hold of his hand and fiddles with it as James slumps further in his seat, and finally lets himself relax. After a while, he looks up at Lewis and the soft smile on his face diminishes, but doesn't disappear.
"What did Innocent say?" Back to business then. Lewis isn't sure if that's really a good thing or not.
"She's going to come over later, tells us what they know."
"She's interviewed Carson then?"
"Aye. Sounds like it."
"Right." He pauses. "Did she say what was going to happen to him?"
"No. I think she probably wants to discuss it with you."
"That sounds suspiciously like 'He's not going down'."
"I'm sure it isn't James. And if it is, you know Jean will be supportive and she'll know other ways to get him."
James nods. For all the shouting and disapproving glances that he endured as a sergeant, he knew Jean to be a supportive boss. He found that out when he'd gone to talk to her about Simon Monkford. Despite not actually giving him any specific orders, which she could have, she helped him to reach a decision on his own. And although that decision hadn't exactly given him the outcome he wanted, it had given him one he needed.
He looks down to see tat Sam has grabbed hold of one of his hands properly and has pulled it to his head, using it as a pillow. Or possibly a comfort blanket, James isn't really sure. He rests his head on the sofa and watches as his son trying to see if he can make James' hand into a fist.
It isn't long before Lewis looks up to see that Sam and James are both asleep. He decides to leave them there, instead going to make some sort of lunch for when Jean arrives in a little while.
James jerks awake 30 minutes later, and Lewis smiles at him.
"I was just about to wake you up, Jean will be here in ten minutes. Good timing." He kicks himself as he remembers where he's seen that movement in the younger man before. He lowers his voice and speaks softly.
"Bad one this time lad?"
"Had worse. No one died? I think I should be taking Prazosin again."
"You haven't been? Ja-mes!"
"Forgot...I'll take it tonight. Promise." Lewis raises his eyebrow as Sam shifts in James' arms.
"Robbie, I will."
"Ok. I'm gonna hold you to that you know."
"Yes Dad." Suddenly, there's a quiet mumble from James' arms as Sam opens his eyes.
"...Tol' you Daddy. Unca Robbie not a daddy. He'a unca. An' he not your daddy any way." James smiles down at Sam as he rubs his eyes and sits up. "...is he?"
"Nope. You've never met my Dad Sammy. He died before you were born."
"You miss him?"
"Not particularly." Sam frowns and Lewis steps in here, aware that this conversation is probably not a good one to continue. Clearly, just woken up James, doesn't have his ability to censor things for kids. Lewis has no illusions about the fact that James Hathaway's father was a bastard. But even if James was to ever tell him why, now is not the time for that conversation, not with the man's infant son in the room.
"Sam, why don't you go and play eh lad? Let me and your Dad sort out lunch."
Fifteen minutes later and Jean, James Robbie and Sam are sat around the dining table, tucking into pasta with tomato sauce. Robbie is proud of it, considering it doesn't taste half bad and he cooked it in an unfamiliar kitchen. Not to mention the fact he had to find half the utensils in boxes.
"You made this Robbie?" Jean says, giving James a sidelong glance. He ducks his head, smirking.
"Aye" Robbie frowns. "You needn't sound so surprised Jean."
James stifled a snort and Robbie hit him playfully on the arm. Suddenly Sam, who has been quiet since Jean arrived, pipes up.
"Unca Robbie's pasta is nice. You a policemanlady, you should be able a'tell from a'tection skills."
"Ah, thank you lad." Robbie ruffles Sam's hair before turning to James. "Did I ever tell you that your son has impeccable taste?"
"Robbie, you are so easy to please." Jean says, before looking down at where Sam is tugging at her sleeve.
"Wassit like a'be a policemanlady? You have to chase nasty men?"
"Not as such Sam."
"No, she sent poor sod's like me and yer Dad after them." Robbie muttered and James can't help but chuckle.
"Then what you do? Just write at the desk all day. That's boring police job." James decides enough is enough and stands up.
"Stop asking so many questions Sam, let Jean eat her lunch." Sam scowls before clambering onto James' lap and looking up at him.
"You chased nasty men Daddy?"
"Yep, me and Uncle Robbie chased lots of nasty men. All over Oxford."
"What they did so you had to chase them?"
"All sorts of bad things Sam."
"Did you punch them? And put them in'a handcuff and say 'you nicked'"
"Er, not exactly."
"But you 'rested lots of nasty men." Robbie breaks in.
"Aye that we did lad, and nasty women." Sam's eyes widen.
"What nasty women? What they did?" James and Robbie exchange a look and James' eyes clearly say don't give him any details. Luckily, Jean cuts in.
"This is starting to sound like an interrogation Sam, we should be asking the questions. What do you want to be when you grow up eh?"
"Fireman Sam!" The little boy beams. James smiles and looks up at Robbie.
"Well, seems we've gone past the painter phase then." Sam starts to babble on about how he'd be safer because there would be no nasty men to attack him, only nice people that he has to save from the fire. None of the adults have the heart to point out to him that fire is just as dangerous. Hathaway isn't sure how happy he is with this new idea. He wants his son to go into a safer job. And this doesn't look like its going to be a fleeting obsession either.
"Are you sure Sam? It'll be very dark." His son gives him a pitying look, which Robbie finds hilarious
"Not it not dark Daddy. There be a fire. Lights everything up. An' then I have a torch for when the fire is gone." James gives up. He'll just have to home that Sam grows out of this idea.
"Well, how about you go and play now Sam? We have to talk."
"Adult talk again."
"Yeah." Sam frowns, climbing off Hathaway's lap.
"Borin'" he mutters as he wanders out of the kitchen. They soon hear the crash as Sam tips the Lego box upside down.
Its about ten minutes later that Jean starts to talk about Carson's interrogation. It comes to light, that the ram raid was an insurance scam and Carson hired the man with the spider tattoo (Who was named Chris Parks), to carry it out.
Once it had become clear that Parks would be identified, Carson had given instructions to the man to 'persuade' the witnesses not to testify.
"So why did Mr Holton end up dead?"
"When we interveiwed Parks, he said that Mr Holton had refused point blank to be persuaded and there had been a fight, n which Mr Holton had been killed."
"Well what about me then?" James demanded angrily.
"He knew you were once a cop. And he knew he had to get rid of you after you went to the police station. For some reason, he didn't think Robbie had given evidence. He didn't see him there. He got Parks to drop the bottle round, and hoped you drank it."
"I was a bloody idiot." He looks at Jean. "Level with me then, what'g going to happen to him...and this other man, Parks"
"Well Parks is going to go down for manslaughter at the very least, but the intent was there, so he might get done for murder."
"Conspiracy to murder and fraud spring to mind. He'll be gone for a good long while James."
"Good. Bastard deserves it. He will get put away won't he?"
"Its up to a jury to decide. But he's confessed and both he and Parks have testified against each other. It is very likely."
"Deserves everything he gets."
"Aye, bloody bastard" Lewis mutters with feeling.
Innocent leaves shortly after, telling James to watch his leg and look after Sam. James agrees to and waves her off, grateful that she isn't aware that he's wearing the knee brace under his trousers. He'd end up with a lecture about taking it easy and going back to the hospital.
Its clear that James has fully recovered from the effects of the poison. Robbie informs him that he's leaving tomorrow and James doesn't panic inwardly like he did before. Instead, James suggests that they should watch a film or something that night, with junk food. Robbie agrees, and while he packs to go home in the morning, James and Sam head to a DVD rental shop. Much to Robbie's delight, they grab fish and chips on the way home.
So it is, that at half past six that evening, Robbie on one end of the sofa, and Sam and James are curled up on the sofa, in front of The Iron Giant. Truth be told, if James had known that there was going to be an in depth discussion about death, he probably wouldn't have showed it to Sam. But the little boy seemed ok, and seemed to have fallen in love with the eponymous giant. Even Robbie had to admit that its a good little film in its own right
"If there was a giant like that one in Osfud...where we could hide it?" James smiles at his son's mispronunciation of the town he lives in.
"In Wytham woods. That's a big place Sammy."
"But is there metal there? Giant needs'a eat. He can't eat trees."
"I don't know mate. We'll have to think about that when we find him won't we?"
"Yeah...We need'a go to the scrap piles...that's where he be's hidin'." Sam twists on the sofa. "Unca Robbie? Is there a scrap place in Osfud?"
"I'm not sure bonny lad." Sam goes quiet and continues to watch the film, chuckling at the Giant's attempts to dive into the lake.
About twenty minutes later Sam announces that he is now a Iron Giant and his chips are lumps of metal. When James tries to tell him that potato is very different to metal; Sam tells him, matter o'factly, that if they were made of potato they would make him ill. The little boy then insists on James eating one of his chips, so that he can see. Hathaway plays along, and eventually Robbie gets coerced into eating a 'metal chip'. He swears that James was the driving force behind it as well.
The end of the film is less entertaining as it upsets Sam despite the happy ending, and it takes a cuddle from James, while wrapped in his comfort blanket, to console him.
Sam stays cuddled there as Robbie reads him a story, tracing his finger over the letters on James' t-shirt. He doesn't need to see the book, its a Thomas the Tank Engine one that he knows off by heart.
James smiles as he sees his son's eyelids start to droop and Robbie is soon smiling too as Sam wriggles into James' chest. Its soon apparent that the child is asleep.
Lewis gets up wordlessly, heading into the kitchen. He returns a minute later with a glass of water and the box of Prazosin. Once he's sure that James is taking the medication, he picks Sam up and heads upstairs with him.
The little boy half awakens as Robbie lies him down on the bed and grabs Lewis' hand as he pulls away.
"Sssh now kidda, go to sleep." Sam relinquishes his grip on Robbie's hand, in favour for sticking his thumb in his mouth. His other arm is wrapped tightly around Fluffy.
"N'night" Sam mumbles sleepily. "L've you Unca R'bbie" Robbie smiles softly.
"Feeling's mutual bonny lad." He turns to see James in the door frame, smiling. Hathaway crosses over to the bed and gently kisses his son's forehead.
"Night Night little man, sweet dreams eh." Sam sighs in his sleep and turns over.
After James assures Robbie that he can finish the rest of the decorating himself, its only really painting after all, they make moves to go to bed. But not after Lewis has once again insisted that he help James get the sofa bed ready.
"No problem, anyway, you should be watching it with that knee."
"No I mean...Cheers for everything. For the past...for looking after Sam...for...just cheers." Robbie nods. He knows what James is trying to get across.
"Anytime kidda...anytime." Robbie squeezes James shoulder and then goes upstairs, aware that he needs to leave tomorrow and should be rested if he's going to drive, even just the short distance home.
James lies on the sofa bed, contemplating the last week and all the feeling associated with it. The over riding image though, the one that he can't get out of his head, is one of the most recent. Sam curled on his lap, while Robbie reads him a story. Falling asleep in James' side and telling his best friend that he loves him.
James realises that he finally feels safe and happy in his own house. Finally feels like he can cope with the whole in his heart left behind when Chrissy died.
For the first time in a year and three months, James Hathaway falls asleep with a smile on his face.