Summary: Hathaway muses on the role of a sergeant and his relationship with Lewis. Mentioning of Morse. Written after the fourth series.

Enjoy.


The Sergeant

By mildetryth

All in all, the sergeant course was a disappointment. There were more regulations (most of which he already knew) and more chances to get the blame if something in the inquiry went wrong. The only other advice they got was to be invisible, to be a shadow. To be everywhere but not to be noticed. "Sort of like those butlers in Upstairs, Downstairs," one of his fellow trainees put it.

The general message was: "do all the tedious jobs without a fuss. Maybe you'll get to be an inspector and then you can get somebody else to do them."

DI A. Kerschaw had been a guest speaker at the officers training and according to the announcement, his subject had been "the interrelation and communication between superiors and lower officers, historically and in view of social science".

He was young and enthusiastic and kept putting his notes in the wrong order. His sentences were longwinded and his words had far more than three syllables. But his message stayed with Hathaway.

A sergeant was a student. They had a bond with their inspector, who was the 'maestro'. Sergeants collected the pieces of the puzzle and then they watched their inspector solve it. The actual leaps of logic were for the inspector to make, but they could not be made without a clear view of the details – which the sergeant collected.

"Of course, suggestions are always appreciated," Kershaw added hastily. "Different viewpoints help clear the many possibilities. What I am trying to say is – " he took a deep breath and sounded a bit less nervous, "A sergeant and an inspector are a team. The one can't function without the other. To be honest," the inspector gave a bashful grin, "I've only encountered such a thing with a superior once. I was stationed in Oxford as PC." His voice sounded wistful as he concluded: "But it truly is an experience that remains with you."

The other sergeants-on-training had scoffed afterwards. Hathaway had stayed silent.

He tried hard to be the perfect sergeant – the perfect butler. He fetched coffee, questioned suspects, took statements. Every inspector he worked with, praised him. Innocent practically adored him.

There were no "leaps of logic". Indeed, he often felt like Jeeves, suggesting and guiding his superiors in the proper, textbook directions.

There was no teamwork.

Before they left the car, Dimmock had faltered and looked at him. "Look, have you ever met Hobson?"

"No sir." Hathaway's expression had remained impassive. "Until last month, I was only securing crime scenes."

"Yes, I know." The inspector had hesitated again. Hathaway had looked questioningly. "She isn't a menace or something," he finally he had said. "But watch out, okay? She's got a tongue sharper than a scalpel."

In the end, he hadn't really needed the warning. The small woman had quickly taken control of the crime scene, had looked him up and down (replying to his courteous "Doctor" with an impious "hello, up there") and had proceeded to push inspector Dimmock out of the way. That really said it all.

This was a force to be reckoned with.

Which was a rather good reason for Hathaway to start doubting his regular inspector's mental abilities: Knox was explaining to him in detail (for the second time that day) how to make up a report that was to be sent to the mayor.

Hobson stood beside him, scalpel in hand and ostentiously tapping her foot.

"And I want it on my desk by Tuesday eleven, Hathaway," Knox finished and made to turn.

Hathaway quickly interjected (which earned him a glare from the doctor): "Sir! That won't be possible."

Knox frowned. "Not possible? Hathaway, I'm not used to such an attitude from you."

He struggled to keep all traces of irritation from his voice. "It is just that the Super Intendent has already given me an assignment for that period." Calculating quickly, he added: "I could have the report ready by two, sir."

"Yes, alright then, Hathaway, if the Super asked you..." Knox replied, still frowning. From the corner of his eye, Hathaway saw Hobson open her mouth, but Knox simply continued: "What does she want done?"

"I am to pick someone up from the airport, sir. An inspector Lewis, I believe." To his surprise, Knox immediately looked pacified and even the doctor visibly calmed down.

"Lewis? You're going to pick up Lewis?" The inspector was now completely mollified, even smiling. "Yes, well. He's a good man. I was his sergeant for a while, you know." He nodded, more to himself than to Hathaway. "Two o'clock will be fine."

"Thank you, sir." Another nod and Knox turned around, a look of surprise appearing when he noticed the petite woman standing next to him.

Immediately, Hobson's glare returned full-force. "Oh don't mind me, inspector. I really have nothing else to do than to listen to you two all day."

"I am sorry, doctor," Knox said hastily, lifting his hands in a pacifying gesture. "Please, do show us."

Hobson gave him one last look (no doubt trying to burn holes through his skull) and turned, slamming the morgue doors open.

She marched back to the autopsy table, where the young girl (Eva, her name was Eva) lay, covered to her chin with a green sheet. "We've done the full works, but there's nothing to suggest evil intent. Her wrists were sliced very neatly and we've found marks consistent with regular cutting. No accident though," she continued when Knox was about to speak. "The regular cutting was horizontal," she raised her arm and made a cutting movement with her other hand, "the ones that killed her were vertical," her fingers now trailed down her arm. "That makes sure the blood leaves the body quicker." Silence fell over the room as they all stared at the dead, young (young, so very young) girl.

Eva Dalton. She had been on the heavy side, with a red face when alive, as the many pictures in her room had shown him. Her face was now waxen. They probably hadn't cleaned the body yet: her brown hair was flecked with rust (and he remembered with sickening clarity how her hair had fanned out in the brown-coloured bathwater and he really wished he could forget). Her lips were pulled downwards and she looked so undeniably dead.

"Right," Knox sighed, sounding a lot older than he was. "I have a meeting with the Super Intendent at twelve. Hathaway, can you round up?"

He slowly raised his eyes from Eva's closed ones (her eyes had been brown, staring unseeingly at the ceiling only last night). "Yes, sir," he replied softly.

Knox gave a smile, much less boisterous than normally, muttered "poor girl" and left. The sound of the doors closing seemed obscenely loud.

At the sound, Hobson seemed to snap back to reality. She brusquely turned away and started to clear away her autopsy material. Hathaway on the other hand, remained where he was. Bowing his head, he said a quick prayer for Eva and her parents, who now had to be on their way to the police station.

When he looked up, Hobson was regarding him with something soft in her eyes. "When will her parents arrive?" she asked, all traces of her usual sharpness gone.

"At eleven," he murmured. Talking any louder seemed somehow wrong, before this girl who was only eighteen years old.

"I'll have her cleaned up by then," she replied, picking up a sponge. "Such a waste," she sighed, slowly brushing some hair from Eva's forehead.

Hathaway's gaze slid back to Eva's eyelids before turning around to leave. He picked up the autopsy report that was lying on the table next to the door and was reaching for the doorknob when Hobson's voice stopped him. "So you're going to collect Lewis."

"Do you know him?" he inquired politely, turning back. There was something soft still present in her voice and he felt the absurd need to move slowly – as if it might break.

She smiled. "Worked with him for years." She sounded hopeful as she continued: "It'll be good to get him back." She lifted Eva's arm and ran the sponge (pink droplets of water fell down, but they didn't make any noise) over the long cut. It ran up till the crook of her elbow.

Hathaway sharply turned his head away, but he managed to sound gentle when he spoke. "I don't believe Super Intendent Innocent wishes for him to take any cases." Catching her questioning look from the corner of his eye, he clarified. "The Academy is still looking for senior trainers."

He whipped his head back to her when she broke the heavy atmosphere with an undignified snort. "Robbie? Teaching?" Her eyes were twinkling again. "Good heavens, no!"

He felt a small smile grow, feeling relieved and guilty at the lighter tone. "That horrible, is he?"

"Oh no, not like that. Let me put it this way: I weep for teacher and pupils both." Bending over Eva's fingers, she looked up at him and smirked. "You'll see, sergeant. At the end of the day, Lewis will be back at Homicide."

He nodded but did not otherwise comment. There was a reason after all for Innocent, who was not yet fifty, to be leading an entire police corps already. "Good day, doctor," he murmured and made to leave.

Once again her voice stopped him. "You'll like him, James." Looking back over his shoulder, he saw that tender look again. She halted the gentle movements of the sponge and stared at Eva. He wasn't quite certain Hobson was looking at her, though. "He's probably the nicest man I know."

Her hand slid under Eva's head and she gently lifted her. Hathaway felt his throat constrict as those long, brown tresses fell back.

As he paced back through the hall, feeling sick to his very core, he tried to remember the reason he had chosen the force as a way to redemption.

Lewis was nice. He didn't go out of his way to be friendly to anyone, he wasn't overly interested in someone else's likes or dislikes, he tried to avoid any party thrown by a colleague and Hathaway doubted he had actual conversations with more than five people (himself and Innocent included) at the precinct. And nevertheless, it was the first word everyone would use when they heard they worked together. Even Fiona, who could be at moments absolutely ruthless, called him "that lovely man".

Of course, it wasn't that Hathaway disagreed with them. Lewis was pleasant to people without having to make an effort. Suspects and witnesses found him easy to talk to. He didn't condemn anyone at first sight, which was a rather strange phenomenon in the police world, where most witnesses were immediately judged.

People liked him as well. Within the first week of his return, the inspector was invited to five pub visits, mostly from people who had known him before he left. Old Sellers, who was in charge of the record storage, didn't even grumble when Hathaway told him the files were for inspector Lewis. Indeed, the man did the job even quickly, which Hathaway would have seen as a miracle, if he were still inclined to believing. Emma, the thirty-odd who was in charge of the canteen kitchen and whose way of expressing fondness was a well-meant "sod off", came from behind the counter to hug the older man.

But nevertheless, "nice" was not the first word he would use for Lewis. Brilliant, maybe. Sad was definitely in the running. Tired.

Comfortable.

Nobody in the police force was truly comfortable around the dead. Some would be crude, some silent, some brusque. Even doctor Hobson became a bit sharper, though Hathaway wasn't sure if that wasn't simply her work attitude.

Lewis however was comfortable. He would quietly look at them, much in the way he did when somebody spoke to him about a dead lover, friend, family member. He had no more trouble sitting next to a hanged woman as behind his desk.

Hathaway couldn't decide whether that was good, disturbing or simply sad.

He found Lewis exactly where he had expected him to be.

The older man didn't look up as he slowly came to a halt next to him, folding his hands devoutly before him. "This had better be good, sergeant," Lewis said quietly, still crouching before the grave with the fresh flowers.

"Sir. Super Intendent Innocent wants to see you. Professor Ladsbury has pressed charges against you."

"Oh for God's –" he angrily cut himself off. "The man was falsifying evidence! If anyone should be brought up on charges, it should be him!"

"I know sir." He forced himself to keep his voice level. "His lawyer is waiting at the police station. I believe he was ranting about proper policing when I left."

"Alright, alright," Lewis sighed and rubbed his palm over his mouth. "I didnae mean to snap at ya. It's just that I normally had two more hours of leave."

"I am aware, sir." Hathaway pulled out his BlackBerry and scrolled to the GPS function. From the ground, Lewis eyed him warily.

"Don't tell me you're emailing her."

"No sir, I am not." He made a point of looking very worried. "Did you know they predict a half an hour traffic jam for the High Road? Road construction, apparently."

A hesitating smile appeared. "Do they now?"

"Yes. And of course we had to return that way because..." he trailed off invitingly.

"The Tottinger estate?" Lewis suggested. "It's open to the public today. Must be lovely to take a walk."

"Good for your health." He flashed his superior a smirk and was glad to get a half-hearted glare in return. "On such a large estate, it would take quite some time to find you."

The inspector grinned but immediately sobered up again. "She'll call you."

He switched off his mobile and widened his eyes dramatically. "Empty battery." He shook his head ruefully. "I always forget to reload."

Lewis laughed, a rich, full sound, which made Hathaway feel quite smug. "Thank you, James," his superior said, his eyes soft.

Hathaway smiled back and gave a small nod. "There's a pub down the road sir. I'll wait there."

He took his leave quietly.

"A nice, straightforward robbery. That's all I'm askin' for. Just a nice robbery for once," Hathaway could hear Lewis muttering from the other end of the room. He grinned without quite meaning to.

He didn't truly understand how the pair of them always got those cases – the last murder victim before the Honourable David Chise had been a brick layer well known for his violent ways and apparently his wife had confessed to the first police man who came on the scene. That had been Dimmock's case.

Lewis and he on the other hand, got the murdered judge whose location had only been known to his secretary (who was on a holiday in India) and who had gotten killed by a sharpened knitting needle of all things. All they had, was a cryptic note: 'untrue apothecary'. (Shakespeare naturally, Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene III: "O true apothecary," and he had just begun to quote the following sentence when Lewis told him to "knock it off already.") This had pointed in the direction of drugs and after a few veiled inquiries, they were now searching the judge's house for hidden compartments.

It might not be the strangest case they had had yet, but it certainly came close.

Hathaway stretched, certain that in this end of the room there was nothing to be found. He turned, throwing his still muttering superior (Lewis was kneeling behind the red velvet couches) an unseen look of amusement. Maybe it would be better to continue the search upstairs: apart from the living room, where they were now, only the upper levels had wooden floors, which would be handier to hide anything under. Taking a step forward, he opened his mouth to tell Lewis so – when he all of a sudden was falling down with a rather undignified "oomph" as he landed.

"James!" Lewis immediately stood on his feet. "You alright, son?"

"I'm fine, sir," he answered brusquely as he struggled back upright. He was, really. His hands were slightly chafed as they had broken his fall, but apart from his pride, everything else was intact. "I must have stumbled."

The worried look on Lewis' face morphed into something cheekier. "An' I thought that you were the elegant one."

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, sir." He sounded rather short, but the return to their usual banter was actually a relief. Familiar footing, so to speak.

Still looking amused, Lewis was clearly on the verge of replying when he suddenly narrowed his eyes. "Hello, what's this?" Hathaway, still dusting off his suit, managed to make a half turn. The frantic movement of his hands stilled when he saw the board his foot mast have caught jut straight into the air. Lewis whistled.

They both crouched down – the space under the floorboard was filled with small plastic bags filled with white powder. After handing his superior a pair of plastic gloves, Hathaway put on his own and they gingerly each lifted a packet. "That's quite a lot of street value, sir," he murmured, examining the contents. "I don't think this has been cut already."

Lewis made a "hmm"-ing noise. "You'd better call the technical chaps. They're gonna have a field day."

Nodding, he replaced the packet, stripped off his gloves and stood up. "Well done, Jim." Lewis said, still looking at what Hathaway suspected was cocaine with a concentrated frown.

He arched an eyebrow while searching for the Technical Department's number in his phone. "With all due respect, sir, I didn't do anything. Gravity kicked in."

Lewis chuckled. "Look at it from the bright side: it cheered me up considerably."

Pressing the "call" button, Hathaway turned and walked to the hallway. He couldn't suppress his own smile.

Lewis was comfortable. Hathaway felt very much around ease with him: there was banter, beer, work and a sense of camaraderie he had only ever had with Will before that fateful fourteenth summer. Lewis didn't seem to expect anything from him that he wasn't capable of. He didn't seem to mind that Hathaway sometimes came home with him after work, where they would lounge on the couch together, listening to music or watching telly in silence, sipping beer and eating take-away. He didn't even mind Hathaway's mockery when he turned on a garden show (after arguing that it was his telly, so he could watch what he wanted, he changed the channel). The fifth time Hathaway found his own favourite brand of beer in the fridge next to the cheaper one Lewis preferred. The sixth time Hathaway was obliged to sleep on the sofa, having drunk too much to drive. He had awoken to Lewis puttering around in the kitchen in his pyjamas, looking far more awake than he would have expected.

Nevertheless, he would sometimes look at Hathaway with something guarded, as if sizing him up. Perhaps wondering how many other secrets he had.

"I don't wanna see ya!"

His inspector saying that had bothered him more than he cared to admit, even to himself.

Lewis was an enigma: no studies beyond secondary school (with a failed English too), yet in possession of books, cds and titbits of knowledge that surprised the younger man. He only knew the plots of the more famous Shakespearean dramas but managed to quote some of his sonnets. While never having heard of John Donne, he was the owner of Milton's Paradise Lost. (The inside of the cover read in black ink E. Morse, but the many post-its that were attached to the pages were filled with Lewis' scrawl. The most visible one read a date, 3-1-'90.) While not being very partial to Wagner ("I never really could get into it"), he did know the names and story lines, could even point out some of the finer details of the music. He made leaps of logic and astounding deductions, which he mostly explained with an affronted air, as if angry with himself for not realizing sooner. Nevertheless, he only accredited himself with common sense, which frankly, annoyed Hathaway. (No, the link between a popular fantasy author and Oedipus was not obvious. And seeing it was the work of a genius.) Lewis was very intelligent but had not perhaps had the proper stimulant. He could readily remember quotes or facts Hathaway or (he assumed) Morse had told him and he knew every ordinary bird's Latin name, courtesy of an enthusiastic fall-in teacher.

Lewis was brilliant and annoying and between all that, he was the most wonderful man Hathaway had ever met.

"Did he touch you?" Hathaway looked up to find Lewis more serious than he had ever been. He was sitting in the back of the ambulance, his arm bound up. The paramedics were busy checking the inhibitants of Crevecoeur Hall for injuries, but apart from Hathaway nobody seemed hurt.

Well, apart from him and Coleman, Hathaway thought and felt slightly sick.

"James?" Hathaway could feel Lewis' eyes searching his face. He kept his own firmly on his lap. The older man sighed. "I'm gonna go in and arrest him. But before I do, I want to know if he ever as much as laid a finger on you. James." His voice became softer when he didn't answer immediately. "Please tell me, son."

He looked up. Lewis' blue eyes were more intense than he had ever seen and he was clenching his jaw. It suddenly occurred to him that he had no idea how Lewis would react, what he would do, if he said "yes".

"He didn't." His own voice seemed to come from far away. Lewis' stand seemed to relax slightly, but his eyes were still unwavering on his face. "I accidentally threw over a rather expensive vase," Hathaway continued. "He didn't like me much after that." He didn't tell Lewis about the grasping hands that had caused him to back up and stumble. Lewis reminded him too much of the Monkford case, too intense and too angry for Hathaway to deal with. It had been the Lord's first and last attempt. There was no need to tell Lewis.

A large hand landed on his shoulder and he lifted his head – he didn't consciously remember lowering it, but he must have. "It's gonna be alright, Jim," and he nodded, though it will not be: he would have to resign after this, his arm twitched, Scarlett had lied to him and he felt still sick.

He watched the older man climb the flight of steps and realised all of a sudden that nobody else ever called him "Jim".

Hathaway rubbed a hand over his eyes, attempting to regain some concentration. The case had been dragging on for three days now and they still had virtually nothing. There had hardly been any evidence to begin with: Dr Hobson had told them that their killer was of uncertain gender and height and, slightly teasing, that he suffered most likely from mysophobia. ("English, please?" "Abnormal fear of dirt, sir.") They had no leads so far. In a fit of desperation, Hathaway had run every name of every witness, friend or acquaintance that had come up through their databank – one had returned, labelled "witness" and accompanied by the code of a case file.

Unfortunately, "Father Thomas" had died some years previous after a severe heart attack. He had been a close friend of the victim, who had known him for over a decade, his helpful sister had informed him over the phone. Simply asking the man what he had been witness to was thus out of the question. Normally Hathaway wouldn't have bothered looking the file up for the connection was loose and unimportant – but by then it was nine o'clock at night, he and Lewis had been going on biscuits since lunch and frankly, it was all they had.

So they had started rooting though old boxes filled with cases (because, naturally, file CYP309 hadn't been uploaded yet), Lewis at a considerable slower rate than he. Strangely enough, the older man hadn't lumped him with the work, instead opting to stay and help. Perhaps he was getting as depressed with the entire matter as Hathaway – he certainly looked the part, the bags under his eyes more pronounced than ever. Around eleven o'clock, the younger man had offered to do the rest on his own, but Lewis, although looking dead on his feet, had shot him such a glare Hathaway wisely stopped talking. The only thing he could do was to make sure Lewis' coffee cup was always filled and he had a never-ending supply of biscuits.

Resting his forehead on his palm, Hathaway thumbed through the next volume (why they had insisted on putting murder cases together with reports of stolen cars, he assumed he'd never know) but halted when something heavier fell from between the files – a picture.

He picked it up and felt his eyes widen. Twirling it between his fingers, he checked the back (in ink was written "1998") before turning it again. The corner of his mouth curved upwards.

"What've ya got there?" Lewis sounded exhausted but curious, which was an improvement.

Not speaking, Hathaway turned his bureau chair, reaching out the photograph between two fingers. Lewis reached out as well and took it, yawning widely. Hathaway watched as he wearily brought the picture closer to his eyes, squinting slightly. An unnameable emotion flitted over his expressive face before he settled on a soft smile.

"Well, I'd never..." He got up, following the photo, and went to stand behind the chair, looking over his superior's shoulder. Lewis flipped the picture, muttered the date under his breath and turned it around again, placing it on his desk. "Gosh, that's a long time ago."

Hathaway's eyes followed the sturdy finger that tapped once against a small figure. "That's me," Lewis said, quite unnecessarily, as it most clearly was Lewis, it couldn't have been anybody but Lewis. The man hardly seemed to have changed, a few wrinkles and pounds notwithstanding. And perhaps some other things, Hathaway thought as he stared at the broadly smiling man who actually looked happy.

The Oxford police corps has obviously grown a great deal since then – there cannot be more than thirty men in the picture. Lewis was standing at the side, more at the back: he was easily one of the tallest men in the corps. Or maybe it was an impression brought on by the two smaller men right in front of the sergeant, whose serious looks were in stark contrast with Lewis' beaming.

"That's Chief Superintendent Strange," Lewis finger moved to the bulkier of the two. "He retired in 2001, I don't suppose you've ever met him."

Hathaway shook his head, belatedly realizing that Lewis can't see him. "I haven't," he said quietly, his voice carrying though the half lighted, half shadowed office. Somewhere in the distance, a clock struck three.

Lewis now pointed at the other man, whose hair seemed to have been white. "This," he said, his voice filled with more emotions than Hathaway was capable of identifying, "this is Morse."

He bent forward, trying to see more details. Morse's presence at times seems to float through Oxford. They can go months without the slightest trace of him and then all of a sudden he would crop up in nearly every conversation. Morse had been a genius (Mr Pudler's opinion). Morse had been a difficult, self-conceited bugger (DI Dimmock's opinion). Morse had been kind (Mrs Griffin's opinion). "He and Lewis couldn't do without each other," Dr Hobson had said, before continuing: "Now, these scratch marks here..."

The photograph told him nothing that refuted or supported any of those claims: Morse looked nearly severe at the camera, hands behind his back. He did not seem overly happy to be there but he didn't look out of place either. "What was he like?" Hathaway murmured, vocalising his thoughts.

"Brilliant. Annoying." Lewis sounded wistful. "Most wonderful man I ever met." Hathaway's fingers dig into Lewis' seat a moment before relaxing again. The older man, oblivious, simply continues: "You'd've liked each other – until he heard about your church-past, and then he would've despised you."

"He disliked the Church?"

"Oh yeah. He disliked the University too, though he loved learning." Lewis yawned loudly but seemed more awake than an hour ago. "Where did ya get this anyway?" he asked, holding the picture up.

"Oh..." Hathaway stepped back to his desk, rifling to the correct file. "Here it is: CY –" he halted and sighed deeply.

Lewis grinned ruefully. "CYP-somethin'?"

"Yes." He opened the file and glanced at Lewis. "CYP-something indeed."

"Give us the brunt of it, then." Lewis leant back and massaged the back of his neck.

Hathaway scanned the first page and frowned. "Actually, sir, this is one of yours: Investigating officers: DCI E. Morse and DS R. Lewis." He skipped to the last page and yes, there were both their autographs: he recognised Lewis' scrawl easily. Morse's was more flowing and written in deep black ink.

"Oh. That explains it then."

Hathaway blinked and looked up. "Sir?"

"The picture." Lewis picked it up and waved it around. "He hated 'em. Probably hid it in the file so he wouldnae have ta take it home." He looked at it again. "Ya know, I've got a better one at home. You can have a look. If you're interested, that is," he added, yawning and reaching for the file in Hathaway's hand.

He wordlessly handed it over, thinking that Lewis must be even more exhausted that he had reckoned. The inspector was after all nearly as private as he is. And he couldn't imagine showing photographs of old friends to him.

Then again, of most of them he wasn't very proud.

A thoughtful noise from Lewis startled him out of his reverie. "Now I remember him. I only spoke to him for half an hour or so – he was a prison chaplain in –" he halted suddenly, eyes narrowing in a familiar way. "Which picture did you show Dame What's-It?"

"Dame Hardlough-Puckering, sir." He honestly couldn't recall how many times he had had to repeat her name. "The party one. With Father Thomas and his ex-wife next to him."

"Didn't she say she was Chief of Lowood Prison for ten years?"

Hathaway nodded, frowning. "But she didn't recognise anyone."

"Well, that's my point!" Lewis was half on his feet now. "I spoke to the man. He had been there for years! There's no way they never met!"

"Why would she lie about that?" Hathaway asked, mind racing back to their conversation with the slightly snobby lady. "We had no cause to suspect her: she just happened to live nearby."

"Dunno. But I'm gonna ask." Lewis reached for his jacket but faltered when he caught sight of the clock. "Innocent is gonna kill us if we go knocking on her door now," he muttered.

Hathaway hmmed as he also reached for his jacket. "We could wait for a more reasonable hour."

Lewis growled. "I wanna finish this damn case! I mean, the poor man's kids..." he trailed off.

"How about this, sir." He searched his desk for the incriminating picture, fishing it from between the many files. "We drive to your place, you sleep a few hours, I make you breakfast and then we go question our illustre lady."

The older man eyed him warily. "And you?"

"I'll nap on your sofa, if that's okay," he answered, trying to look aloof. "We'll be at her house at nine, sir, I promise." Feeling adventurous, he added: "You need the rest."

Lewis rolled his eyes as he pocketed the police corps picture. "Yes, dear," Hathaway heard him muttering. "You're drivin' though," he added, throwing his keys at the younger man, who deftly caught them.

Hathaway waited till his superior had turned his back before grinning.

"Sir, that superior you spoke of during your speech..." DI Kerschaw looked up, wide-eyed and with a bit of cream on his chin. "You weren't speaking by any chance of Chief Inspector Morse?"

They were sitting in the airport's Starbucks, Kershaw with a cappuccino, Hathaway with a latte. Their meeting had been accidental: Hathaway had just returned from Germany and Kershaw was waiting for the plane to Italy, where his sister had recently bought a house. He had obviously been surprised that Hathaway had recognised him and when they younger man had honestly said he had enjoyed his speech, he had blushed, coughed and invited him for a coffee before his flight.

"Why, yes," Kershaw answered, startled. He took the napkin Hathaway handed him. "Yes, it was." He shifted on the plastic chair, frowning slightly. "How did you know?"

The sergeant sat his paper cup down, looking at his pale fingers against the dark green. "I'm stationed in Oxford myself," he said. It wasn't exactly a reply. "With Inspector Lewis. Do you –" He looked up and didn't finish. Kershaw was grinning softly.

"Everybody knew Lewis," he said wistfully. "They all said he had to be some kind of saint to put up with Morse and remain as chipper as he was." Hathaway attempted to imagine the Lewis from the picture, smiling, perhaps even humming under his breath, as he walked around the station. To his dismay, he found he couldn't.

Kershaw was now looking at some point above Hathaway's left shoulder. "When I was working with Morse," he said suddenly, "it was brilliant. I mean, he had gotten leave to try and solve a murder that happened centuries ago – it was more to keep him out of harm's way, you know, because he had just been placed in the hospital. And he actually did it. Greatest thing ever, watching him." He took another sip from his coffee before giving him a bashful grin. "But every time he wanted something done, he would say Lewis, turn to me and then look disgruntled." He shook his head fondly before looking at Hathaway once again. "So, do you like working with him?"

Hathaway hesitated for a moment, eyes flitting back to his half-empty cup, before looking up and giving the other man a small smile back.

Kershaw's grin turned a bit more knowing. "That's it," he nodded and clinked his cup against Hathaway's.

"He bloody well keeps her locked up in there," Lewis grumbled as he shut the car door vehemently. "A gilded cage if ever I saw one."

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths, enwrought with golden and silver light, I would spread the cloths under your feet," Hathaway quoted softly as his inspector fastened his seat belt. The Oxford streets seemed rather dreary after the splendour of Mrs Wiggins' rose bushes.

A silence fell in the car. Lewis drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. "That is not Shakespeare," he said finally.

Hathaway gave in to the urge to smile. "No, sir. Yeats."

Lewis hmmed under his breath. "Well, what do you think, sergeant?" he asked as Hathaway also reached for his seat belt. "Did he get all those cloths o' yours legally?"

The smile turned into a grin. "I doubt it, sir."

Lewis nodded to him. "My thoughts exactly." The engine roared to life.