WARNINGS: This story involves a shooting!
Author notes: My beta's are enjoying the holidays and as such this work is unbeta'd
The hard shove took Lewis by surprise, sending him tumbling from the step into the thick rhododendron bush that grew beside the doorway of the stone built cottage. His momentum caused him to plummet through the bush, breaking woody stems as he fell, that ripped at his clothing and tore his flesh in revenge. He landed on the lawn with a grunt of pain, the early morning dew seeping through his ruined trousers, adding to his discomfort.
The loud boom, as both barrels of a shotgun discharged, vibrated through the early morning quiet, making the crows, nesting in the tall trees behind the isolated cottage, squawk in outrage.
But it was the agonised cry of pain that had Lewis scrambling to his feet, aches and pains forgotten, as with a bellow of rage and fear, he leapt through the wrecked bush, ripping the shotgun from the hand of the short, older woman, as she delved into her apron pocket for more cartridges.
"We're the police," he snapped out, throwing the shotgun over the bush and onto the lawn he'd just landed on. The woman stared at him with pale-faced horror as he pulled out his handcuffs and grabbed her by the arm tightening one round the wrist he held and then turned her round, securing the cuffs to the other wrist.
Lewis pushed her down onto the step, uncaring of all the procedures he'd broken and failed to follow, his only concern was reaching Hathaway.
"Sit down and stay there," he ordered, the woman numbly nodded at him in mute silence.
"James!" he called out as he peered over the rhododendron standing opposite to the one he had demolished, separated by a narrow path "Shit," he breathed out as he forced his way through the bush, unconcerned with the added injuries he was inflicting on himself as he struggled to reach his fallen sergeant.
"James," Lewis said again as he fell to his knees beside the younger man, who stared up at him with glassy eyes, his face impossibly white as he lay propped up on his right elbow.
"Sir," he croaked out dazedly as he looked down at his hand clutching at his right side, blood oozing from between his fingers.
"It's alright, lad," Lewis soothed calmly, placing a comforting hand on Hathaway's shoulder, even as his heart thumped loudly in his chest. He pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and dialled the control room.
"Officer down," he reported evenly, "Ambulance, back-up and firearm unit required, Chiltern Farm, Upper End Road, Great Milton," he disconnected the call after receiving confirmation that everyone was on their way, and pocketed the phone.
"I need to take a look, James. Is that ok?" he asked gently, one hand still on Hathaway's shoulder, squeezing it gently.
James looked up at him, eyes slightly more focused, face still chalk white and nodded slowly. He moved his trembling hand away from the bloody wound, as Lewis leaned in and unbuttoned the shirt, gently lifting the shirt up and away from the lad's side. Lewis felt Hathaway grab his jacket in a tight grip as the wound was finally revealed, making Lewis sag in relief.
"Took a chunk out of your side," Lewis smiled shakily, as he lowered the shirt and fumbled to pull his handkerchief from his pocket, pressing it against the sluggishly bleeding injury, causing Hathaway to groan in pain. "Would have missed you all together if you hadn't gone pushing folk about," Lewis half joked.
"Can't be bothered training up a new Governor," Hathaway replied unevenly, with a weak smile. "You were hard enough work."
"Cheeky sod!" Lewis grinned back, "lucky you're a long strip of nothing, couple of inches wider….." Lewis didn't finish the sentence, all humour vanishing.
"Sir? I don't feel very well," Hathaway suddenly said with a frown, blinking several times.
"Aye, lad, I'm not surprised," Lewis replied.
He gently loosened Hathaway's grip on his jacket and pulled it off, scooting forward so he was behind Hathaway and wrapped his jacket around trembling shoulders. He gently pulled Hathaway up and placed his arm around the younger man's chest. As Hathaway's head leaned against him Lewis replaced his hand against the makeshift dressing.
The peace of the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside surrounded them, broken only by the anguished sobs of a distraught old woman and the distance sound of sirens.