Chapter 1: All things great and small
When he arrived at the front door of Hathaway’s house, he knew something was amiss. He couldn’t put his finger on exactly what it was, though. The front door wasn’t forced; it was closed and looked whole. There were no open windows, no smashed glass, nothing out of the ordinary, really. Nevertheless there was something that had whatever part of him actually made a good copper waving its imaginary truncheon.
One thing that was odd was that when he tried the door handle, the door swung open easily. Though Hathaway was still far too ready to believe in people given what he’d seen in his job as a police officer, he was anything but stupid. Leaving the door unlocked was definitely out of character.
Growing worried, Lewis opened the door and almost skidded on the small pile of envelopes and ads that lay there. He sniffed the air in the room; there was a whiff of something, women’s perfume and...something that smelled like fag smoke, but wasn’t...could be incense?
Well, that may mean that it was nothing more than a night out having fun, continuing it at home and the girl letting herself out at some point after or maybe just less than an hour ago. Hathaway would probably still be in bed, dead to the world and totally relaxed in order for him to cope with being so very tightly wound in the daytime.
Nevertheless, he called out “Hathaway? Hathaway!” just in case something more sinister had happened and his sergeant needed help.
No answer came. Despite feeling like he was definitely trespassing – that feeling was easy to squash after half a lifetime in the police force, even when it was someone he knew – he started going around the house, looking into every room, calling out from time to time. The bedroom turned out to be empty, disproving his theory and making him rather more worried.
Finally the only room left was the living room. On the coffee table there were two empty plates and two wineglasses, one empty with lipstick marks on the rim and one only half-full. One part of his theory seemed to hold true, then. But that made it even stranger that Hathaway was nowhere to be found. Worryingly so.
“James!” he called out one last time, his worry now clear in his voice. Though no spoken answer came, there was a noise. Lewis turned around and walked over to look behind the sofa. A heap of clothes – a well-tailored suit with a matching yet shocking tie could only belong to his sergeant – lay crumpled there along with a wallet and James’ beloved Blackberry. But there was no sign of the man himself.
That is, until the clothes began to move slightly and a blond head poked out from under them. A very small blond head. Tiny piercing blue eyes glared up at him. “What are you doing here, sir?” came the rather terse question. The voice was right, it was just the volume that wasn’t. At all.
Lewis could for a moment do nothing but stand there, looking down with his mouth open. It was definitely his sergeant, no doubt about it. If nothing else, nobody else would choose the first words to somebody over them to be as dryly annoyed – they would not have the gift for it. In a way it filled him with relief; Hathaway was alright. Well, perhaps not, but still alive, at the very least. It was just that there was something oddly surreal to be the one looking down at him, quite literally, right now.
Finally he gathered enough of his senses to reply.” Other than we have a dead body on our hands this morning and that I thought I could do with discussing theories with the shadow that can actually answer back?” He crouched down. “I see, though, that we might have to get Innocent to put another team on this. A little problem has come our way.” He knew he was grinning and he knew it was inappropriate and that he’d get his punishment, but he couldn’t help it; the whole scene was just preposterous and he had to deal with it somehow.
“Very droll, sir, I am not drunk,” Hathaway said, not seeming too perturbed by the whole thing. That might have had something to do with the fact that his situation hadn’t dawned on him yet. It was only when he was standing up and Lewis was still towering over him that the penny seemed to drop. He stared up at Lewis, around him at his clothes that would make him outfits for a week at least now and finally down at himself. What was actually rather sweet, at least to the inspector’s mind, was that Hathaway kept turning around himself as if he went around enough times he would regain his normal looming height.
Deciding that what Hathaway definitely didn’t need was being nauseous on top of it all, Lewis stopped him with the pad of his finger placed lightly on top of the wee head, pulled out the clean handkerchief in his pocket and let it fall over the small figure. James caught it and wrapped it around himself, making himself a makeshift toga. At least he was covered up now.
“What happened?” They were officially too much in tune, asking the same question literally simultaneously.
“Well, sergeant, seeing as I’m not the one the size of a Ken-doll, it would seem that you should be the one to know what has happened – and don’t pout like that, man, you’re a...well, an adult if not exactly a grown-up at the moment”.
“A right fountain of mirth you are today, sir, and at the expense of someone under you, too,” Hathaway drawled. He had his arms crossed over his chest and was glaring. Then he sighed, almost theatrically – which was probably both to prove a point, knowing James, and just so that it could actually be heard – and began pacing back and forth. It was the most adorable thing, really, even to hardened old copper who really shouldn’t be thinking of anything male, let alone his sergeant, cute or anything that was not strictly macho and buddy-like.
“I don’t know what happened. I met up with an old friend from college yesterday – yes, sir, she was female and no, she is just a friend, though we may have flirted back then. We had a few drinks, chatted about old times and what we were doing now. Turns out she is now lecturing about cults and other unorthodox religions from around the world. She seemed rather surprised to find that I had not only joined the force, I was a DS. She thought that must get me an awful lot of attention from all kinds of people – her words, not mine. I must admit I enjoyed seeing her again and I invited her home.” He looked up at his inspector’s face at this point, clearly intending to forestall any kind of comment that might be lurking. “For dinner, sir, that was all. At least, it was all I had in mind. She tried to kiss me when we left the pub. I turned her down, said I wasn’t ready for a relationship with anyone at the moment and she accepted that, though I was at least to make her dinner as a form of compensation.” James shrugged. “I don’t remember anything after we got here, really. Sorry, sir, I know I’m not a good witness.”
“We’ll talk to her in due time. Don’t worry, James, we’ll sort this out.” Lewis dragged a hand through his hair and blew out a breath, clearly somewhat rumpled by it all. “How we will do that, I have no idea, though. Maybe we should call Laura, see if she can find any clues around here.”
Even in that small face, the widening of the eyes in sheer horror was clearly visible. “No, sir. Please, no. I do not want anyone to see me like this.” The pleading was unusual, but then again, so was the situation.
“I can understand that, sergeant. If it wasn’t for the fact that I know bugger all about private space when it comes to you and let myself in, I’m suspecting you wouldn’t have let me see you either, hm?” It hurt to think that James didn’t trust him, that he was so shut-in and protective of himself that he’d not let anyone close, even when it was evident that he needed them.
But he did invite that girl home, didn’t he? A small little voice that he could have sworn exuded a green feel. Maybe it isn’t that he doesn’t need anyone, it’s just that he doesn’t need you.
At least James had the decency not to lie. “Probably not, sir. This is hardly a way of proving myself, getting shrunk to the size of a Ken-doll, is it? You should probably call Innocent, tell her I’m sick and get you another DS to solve this case with.” And all future ones, he added silently to himself, hating the fact that he’d made a wrong choice again and now everything he’d built would come crashing down again.
He didn’t get much time to mope as he was grabbed around his torso and picked up. He squeaked – actually squeaked, talk about embarrassing yourself in front of your boss – and squirmed to get down.
“Stay still, Hathaway, or you’ll slide out of that handkerchief and do yourself an injury,“ Lewis admonished, but gently. “You daft sod, do you really think I’d leave you like this? That I would just discard you and go work with someone else? You might believe you can do everything on your own, and you can, but that isn’t how this goes. Not only do we work together – and work well, too – we spend a lot of time together outside work and I consider you not only a colleague, but a friend.” Lord, that was the first time he had actually said that out loud, wasn’t it? “Are friends not supposed to help each other? Now stop being a self-sufficient prat just for a minute and be sensible. Let me call Innocent and...well, tell her that there’s been an incident and that she has to get someone else to look at the dead girl. In the meantime, find something to tie that handkerchief on properly and...wait, that isn’t gonna work. Just sit tight, and I’ll be right back, hopefully with both ears intact.”
Lewis put Hathaway down on the sofa first, before realizing that the younger man would sink down into the cushions and suffocate before he got back. So instead he put a small cushion on top of the coffee table and put him on that. Hathaway was scowling at him through all of this, even going so far as to glare daggers at his back when he went into the kitchen and fetched some small pieces of fruits and some biscuits since the lad probably hadn’t eaten since yesterday evening. There was no way he could have.
“Stop that, James, it doesn’t suit you.” He was lying, it was actually extremely endearing and it was pulling on all his heartstrings. Best make the most of this more expressional Hathaway, because he was certain to be back to his normal deadpan, aloof self. “Now, I’ll go call up Innocent and Laura afterwards, if I survive our illustrious boss. After that, we should go and find you some clothes, which probably will be doll’s clothing. Don’t touch anything, it might be vital evidence.”
“I’ll be right here, sir. What would I do, disappear into thin air?” The voice was sullen and Hathaway was glaring at him again, arms crossed over his chest.
“That’s not even funny, sergeant. For all I know you could.”
Chapter 2: Fitting in
While waiting for Hobson to do her stuff, the boys go shopping and realize some stuff along the way. Banter ensues
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
When Lewis had finished his calls – Innocent had more or less shouted him deaf in one ear before he had a chance to properly explain after which she seemed to calm down and deal with it somehow and Laura had promised to come round as soon as she could – he went back into the living room to find Hathaway curled up on the cushion, clearly fast asleep, legs tucked in under him and tangled together in the way only long limbs did, one hand curled under his head and the other gripping the cushion tightly. The small, gangly body was twitching slightly in sleep and emitting small noises.
The whole thing was just too endearing. Robbie stopped dead in his tracks, unable to tear his eyes away. It was in moments like these – not that they happened often – that it struck him how young James really was. How naive, when it came to the realities of what people could be like. Oh, my bonny lad, why do you have to be so perfect? If only...if only a lot of things were different, but they’re not and you’re better off without such an old and hardened copper. That doesn’t mean this old copper can’t look after you, though, and care until you find that special someone.
Apparently it also didn’t mean he couldn’t be a little bit teasing. He bent down low over the table, careful not to let his tie touch anything and blew out a long breath over the small body. As a result, Hathaway started to shake like a leaf given that he nothing but a too-thin handkerchief covering his body. It was then that Lewis realized he had been staring at a mostly naked James, and the fact that he was...well, petite at the moment didn’t help. Hurriedly he straightened up and tried to look anywhere but at James as the man woke up and stretched. The small head looked around drowsily, noting where he was and who was standing close by.
“Pity. It would have been nice to wake up and find it was all just a very strange dream, though I’d have to wonder what mushrooms I would have been on to dream something like that,” Hathaway groaned, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “What happens now, sir? Should I still just stay put like a good little boy?” The voice couldn’t drip more sarcasm if it had been soaked in it for days.
Lewis grinned; at least something was as it had always been and that was comforting. Not only that even when the body was small, there was no shrinking the enigmatic personality that was James Hathaway; if this couldn’t put him out and crack him, nothing would. It was a knowledge that the lad would be alright, that Lewis didn’t have to worry for him so much. He did and always would, but that was for a more personal reason.
He had some time ago come to terms with the fact that he liked his sergeant; liked him like he had liked Val when he’d first met her at a dance many, many years ago. That sweaty-palm, butterflies in your stomach along with a warmth glowing in your heart like a small ember. Only back then it had been easy, relatively speaking. She had smiled and said yes when he had asked her out and things just went from there. She was his other half for years and he still loved her deeply. But Hathaway had a quiet, unassuming way of worming his way into his heart and had taken up residence alongside Val. Never butting her out, just filling out the spaces where he could fit and settling in, like it was the most natural thing. Lewis didn’t even feel guilty, because Val was not James and James was not Val. He wasn’t trying to be. He just was and was now such a irreplaceable part of Robbie’s life and heart that he would rather hold his tongue and keep things the way they were than speak and lose what he had. He had had true love; he could deal with having some unrequited love this time around.
Strangely enough, he didn’t even seem to mind that Hathaway was not only his sergeant and younger by over two decades, but male. It was the thought of it not startling him that startled him. But then he’d imagine Val and Morse, her laughing at his silliness, telling him that love didn’t see with the eyes or cared about conventions, him snorting in that suffering-yet-fond way of his, saying that Lewis knew better than that, to be scared of grasping the clues and go for it, admonishing him not to make Morse’s mistakes, he was the better man. Only it didn’t really feel like imagining; the images of them were too vivid and he couldn’t have dreamt up that of Morse telling him the older man was inferior up himself. They were there, in his head, as alive as they had ever been and he loved them for sticking with him. The long and short of it was that Hathaway was Hathaway and he loved him and that was that. Not that he’d ever let it on to Hathaway himself, of course.
“What happens now, sergeant, is that we find some way of transporting you, since we’re going shopping.”
“Shopping, sir? For what, if I may be so bold?” Looking at Lewis’ grin, Hathaway paled even further but stayed as calm as always. “Ah. Clothes, then. I must warn you, though, sir, that I do not look good in any kind of Malibu outfit. Or anything with Velcro. It makes my skin break out in terrible rashes.”
“That is noted, Hathaway. Search for quality doll’s clothing is what we are gonna do. We certainly can’t have your peachy, delicate skin look like a victim of the Black Death,” Lewis drawled, his grin bordering on a smirk.
“Actually, sir, the victims of the Black Death were, as the name implies, covered in buboes that turned black-“ He cut himself off with another embarrassing squeak as he was once again picked up, only this time he was placed in the pocket of Lewis’ blazer.
“Save the history lesson for another time, sergeant, or would you rather be put in the other pocket? I think I forgot to empty that of the last biscuit crumbs from the other day. Are you comfortable?” “I am about 11 inches tall at the moment and have no idea how I got this way or how to fix it; I’m dressed in what I sincerely hope is a clean handkerchief, we are going shopping for clothes that were designed for getting easily on and off by children’s hands and I have to sit with my legs crammed up against my torso in order for me not to fall out of another man’s blazer pocket and crack my skull on my own coffee table. Yes, I’m marvellous, sir. Never better, in fact.”
Lewis just grinned again; he had dealt with this kind of Hathaway too often to be upset or affected by this kind of reaction in the least. “Glad to hear it. We can’t have you on my shoulder, as you’d fall off; you won’t fit in the top pocket of my shirt and with your squirming I won’t risk it, so until we find you a bag to nuzzle in, it’s good to see you’re doing well in there. Off we go, then.”
“Now, do you prefer a tuxedo or will a normal suit do you?”
Hathaway was staring. At the clothes, certainly, but mostly at his inspector, who seemed a mile high from his position in the blazer pocket. Not only had they gone to London to go shopping, a journey which he certainly hadn’t expected Lewis to take nor to fork out for, they had gone to a shop that specialized in doll’s clothing. There was no Velcro here, but buttons, though they were pushbuttons and James had been allowed to choose two sets of comfortable clothes, a nicer set of clothes, a suit and a pair of pyjamas. They had even picked up a dressing gown and something he could use as a blanket and pillow. Also, the older man didn’t seem bothered that he must look like he was talking to himself when they conversed.
He wondered sometimes why Lewis was doing so much for him, putting up with him when he was being the arrogant, smug clever-clogs everyone thought he was. More importantly than that when he was falling apart on the inside, his inspector would always be there to pick up the pieces and try to make a whole out of them again. James never asked him to do that, never thought to ask anything of anyone; would have been mortified if it had been anyone else but Robert Lewis doing it. What was it that made his DI so special that he’d not only tolerate but welcome things that had annoyed him when it was anyone else?
The musing was abruptly cut short when he realized that in his silence Lewis had picked a normal suit and was now looking at accessories. Female accessories, no less. He also realized that this was deliberate on Lewis’ part and that it was meant to tease him. Again. Seemed like ever since this whole shrinking-business had started, there had been even more teasing and banter than normally. Was that significant?
“Oh, you are awake, then. I was starting to think you’d dropped off, being so silent. Very uncharacteristic of you, unless you are proving a point, of course. Now, shall we go to the register and then be on our way home or is there somewhere else you’d rather go? Oh, perhaps we should consider buying something that’ll make it easier for you to eat. Or maybe it’d be better to stick with the fruit and biscuits for the moment. Anything in particular you’d like for dinner?”
Once again James was staring, his mind boggling slightly as he tried to come to terms with what was possibly the strangest part of this whole, long day. Lewis was acting as if this – shopping and chatting, not the shrinking business – was the most normal thing in the world; as if they did this on a daily basis and it was only a minor detail that Hathaway was crammed into a pocket instead of strolling along Lewis. Just a normal domestic occurrence that would be repeated again and again.
Oh, if only. But one could always hope, no? There was always hope and forgiveness.
They had reached the counter at this point and Hathaway ducked down into the pocket as far as he could. It wasn’t that he really cared what other people thought of him – if he did, he wouldn’t have been able to keep his aloof and sometimes smug attitude – not even in a situation like this, but the poor girl behind the counter would probably scream and call the police – oh, the irony of that – if she saw a ‘living doll’ riding in the inspector’s blazer pocket. Whatever Lewis might have told Innocent to get her off their backs for the time being, an interview with a plod would most certainly drive her up the wall, which would in turn get both of them a living hell as soon as they returned to Oxford.
Thankfully the girl noticed nothing or she was just ignoring the squirming bulge in the brown-haired man’s pocket. Either way they managed to get out of the store with everything they needed.
“You never answered my question on what you’d like for dinner. I’m honestly not up for much, though, but tell me what you’d like and we’ll go get it.”
Again, the domestic feel of it all hit Hathaway like a brick. “Given that I doubt I’ll be able to actually eat much, ravenous though I am, it really should not be me calling the shots on this, sir. But you do eat enough unhealthy food as it is, so I suggest we find a cafe or something similar where we can buy a large Cesar salad. I know a place back home that does a very good one.” Back home. Now didn’t that sound nice?
Hathaway looked up to find Lewis staring down at him with a strange expression, but when he replied, it was in his old, warm tone of a good-natured northerner. “I didn’t know you were a dietician as well, James. But as so often before, clever-clogs, you are probably right. Let’s go home.”
After dinner, which had been a very good Cesar salad with some garlic naan-bread – Lewis had said that they were going to eat something that looked like food for humans and not rodents to which Hathaway has only snorted as an answer – they had sat watching some old Doctor Who episodes, on Lewis’ insistence. They had previously been through the new series, and he thought James ought to be educated with the classics and this was Lewis’ house. Okay, maybe classic was stretching it, but it was good, harmless fun and it seemed to take the lad’s mind off this whole bizarre business. In fact, he seemed totally oblivious of everything but the action on the screen, even the fact that he was curled up in his pyjamas and dressing gown on a cushion in Lewis’ lap and was leaning up against his stomach. As Robbie discovered when he looked down as another set of credits rolled over the screen, the obliviousness was because the small figure was asleep, mouth open and snoring quietly. A lovely, sweet sight that was.
Robbie looked at him for a while before he decided that it was time for bed for both of them. Then he was struck by the realisation that they would have to share a bed as he wasn’t going to let his sergeant out of his sight until they had sorted this out. He was rather thankful that he was too much of an old dog to actually blush at the thought. Not that anything would happen; they were just going to sleep. Nothing would happen even if they were both big, not unless James wanted it, which he didn’t think he would. But it made him flustered nonetheless; it probably had something to do with all the none too chaste images flashing through his mind.
Thankfully, too, James did seem deep in slumber and did not wake when he was gently picked up and carried to the bedroom. There he put him gently down on a long cushion, situated on the left side of the bed, Val’s side, they had bought to accommodate his size and very carefully put a tiny quilted duvet – he was glad they had found it, but honestly, who on earth thought to make these things? – over the gangly body followed by an easing of a pillow under the little head, his fingers unconsciously, lovingly brushing over the tiny, soft cheek and blond hair that the man had finally let grow to more than a few millimetres.
“Oh, my bonny lad, whatever shall we do with you?” he whispered quietly and sighed softly, careful not to wake Hathaway. The day had tired him more than he had been aware, even though the domestic feel of it all had been very nice, though tinged with the sadness of knowing it would come to an end. Not that he’d like for James to stay so small, of course – well, there was a certain appeal in the whole cute-area – but the consequences of it he didn’t mind at all. He sighed again and went to change to his own sleeping attire – as usual it was an old T-shirt and a fair of flannel pyjama bottoms.
When he came back from doing his toiletry a small, continuous stream of noise was coming from the bed. Quickly and as carefully as he could he climbed into the bed, trying to find out what was wrong.
It turned out that James was dreaming and not a very pleasant one by the sound of it. He was even twitching and kicking as he keened. As soon as Lewis lay down, however, the small body seemed to quieten down and moved towards the source of warmth and comfort. Tiny, yet strong hands grabbed a fistful of the old, tattered T-shirt Robbie was wearing to bed and refused to let go. This brought a fond smile to the brown-haired man’s lips as he tried to arrange his body so that James could easily reach him if he needed without being crushed and so that Lewis would, hopefully, get through the night without injuring any part of his body more than was necessary.
The next morning dawned far too early for Lewis. He had not slept all that well, given the needling pain of his whole side having gone to sleep he had endured. Though he had tried several times to roll over on the other side, Hathaway had whimpered and muttered “stay” very quietly every time he felt the other man try to pull away and had tugged at the fistfuls of t-shirt he was still clutching.
There was something else about Hathaway, though. Alright, the pyjamas had been baggy on his stick-like wiry frame to begin with, but he was practically drowning in them now and he shouldn’t.
A horrible realisation hit Lewis at that point. Not only had whatever the woman had put in Hathaway’s drink shrunk him down, it was still working. James had shrunk further!
Hehe - I said he was going to get smaller, didn't I? I had a blast writing this, the whole sweetness of the two of them just pulls my heartstrings. Not that much more to say other than I don't know when the next chapter will be up, though I will hurry.