Simon Monkford only gets charged with manslaughter, but James goes right on thinking of him as the man who murdered Lewis's wife. After the sentencing, Lewis thanks him. Not for finding Monkford. For sitting with him while Monkford admitted his guilt. For coming to bear witness.
Afterwards, Lewis lets him drive and doesn't ask where they're going. James drives them down to the river and parks facing to the west. The sun sinks lower and paints an arrow of red across Lewis's cheek and neck. It's almost an hour before Lewis speaks.
"You've got a quote for every occasion, Hathaway. What have you got for this?"
A lifetime of having other people's words drilled into him means that his mind will indeed produce a quote for every occasion, whether he likes it or not. They aren't always socially appropriate, and Lewis is usually the only one he shares them with. He hesitates, unsure if Lewis is in a condition to hear this one.
"Go on," Lewis says, voice rougher now.
James looks out the window at two robins in the grass. "The stars are not wanted now, put out every one. Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun. Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good."
Lewis laughs, sharp and shaky. "You're not half depressing to have around sometimes."
"I do my best, sir."
It's enough, James decides, and he starts the car and puts them back on the road. Enough sitting still and watching his inspector's battered heart try to knit itself up again. He has to do something. He wishes there were anyone he could ask for advice, but there isn't, never has been, except maybe Will, and look how that turned out.
Will would laugh and laugh. Kindly, because he was always kinder than James, but he'd still laugh. And tell James to...what? Probably to get some dinner inside both of them. Not a bad idea.
He's on the way to the Thai place they like when Lewis taps his shoulder. "Pull over. There."
James pulls up next to an old woman selling flowers on the street. He watches Lewis get out and buy a bunch of yellow roses. They're the nicest ones she has, and Lewis probably knows nothing about the language of flowers. Just as well.
"Cemetery," Lewis says when he gets back in the car.
He offers no directions, which strikes James as odd. Does he think James will remember the way from one trip three years ago? Of course, James does. So maybe it's not so odd. Maybe Lewis just knows him that well, which is odd in itself.
He presents facets of himself to people at work, to people in the band, to people he knows from church. The thing about facets is that they're flat. They're reflective. Not indicative of the whole. When one looks at a flat, reflective surface, generally one sees oneself, and James encourages that.
It's all been different with Lewis. He likes who he is with Lewis a little too much. He's more himself than he has ever been.
He pulls into the car park. It's starting to rain in a desultory way, spitting against the glass in barely-there streaks. The wind is picking up.
"Well? Come on," Lewis says. He gets out and starts off.
James hurries after him. He wasn't expecting an invitation and can't help feeling like he's come to a party empty-handed. He would've bought flowers, too, if he'd known he'd be allowed to present them. Maybe he's not. That might be too personal. Seminary taught him etiquette for a number of unusual situations, but not for meeting dead wives.
The cemetery is full of reminders of past visits: browned flowers, plastic wreaths, little piles of stones. The daisies at Mrs Lewis's grave are just starting to wither. Their petals are curled in on themselves, but still white and smooth.
Lewis clears them away and pushes the roses into the holder, one stem at a time. He hands the daisies to James, who holds them carefully, and with wonder, like he's just had a living thing thrust into his arms. They're a piece of Lewis's grief, of his heart.
"You can bin those on the way out," Lewis says, and James struggles with inappropriate laughter. Lewis looks up at him, half smiling, puzzled. "What?"
"Internal dramatics, sir. Nothing to concern yourself with."
No, but he has one, as it happens. "The world of the happy is quite different from the world of the unhappy. Wittgenstein. Austrian philosopher."
"True enough, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way," he says, fingertips resting on the granite over his wife's name.
"How do you look at it?"
Lewis glances up at him, eyebrows drawn together. "Doesn't matter, does it? The world keeps on going just the same. Doesn't care what I think of it."
"Parts of it do."
Lewis's face softens, and he levers himself to his feet with one hand on top of his wife's grave. "What'd you have in mind for tonight?" he asks. "That posh Indian place you keep going on about?"
"They do takeaway. It'll be considerably less posh on your sofa."
"All right. You can pay."
James inclines his head in acknowledgement. Lewis slides his hand over the curve at the top of the gravestone and then turns away. He holds out his hand for the keys, and James drops them into his palm.
That seems to be that. They pick up curries with attendant naan and chutney, and little jellied sweets for dessert. They go back to Lewis's and eat on the sofa out of the containers. They watch QI. James shows off a bit, gives the answers long before the panelists manage it, because it amuses Lewis and gives him a chance to roll his eyes and once to lightly cuff the back of James's head and call him a smartarse.
They drink too much beer, and James is yawning by the end of dinner.
"You can sleep on the sofa if you want to," Lewis says.
"Wouldn't impose, sir. I'll just make some tea."
He gets up easily enough, keeps the tension from his body, but he's avoiding Lewis's eyes now. Lewis is a detective, and a better one than James. They are both thinking of the last time James slept on Lewis's sofa, of a late night visit and an ill conceived token of affection. Or gratitude. Or something else entirely. James still isn't sure.
"Do you want some?" he asks.
"Yeah, make us a pot. To the left--"
"Of the fridge, I know."
"Course you do."
James puts the kettle on and takes the horribly yellow teapot from the cupboard to the left of the fridge. It's a dingy mustard color with a chip in the spout and countless cracks in the glaze. The inside, once white, is now stained much the same color as the outside.
James cradles it in his hands and stares into it while the kettle starts to rumble. He imagines Mrs Lewis making pot after pot, waiting up for her husband. Lewis running after Morse the way James now runs after Lewis, except not the same at all. James has no wife to worry when he is out mixing with murderers instead of home for dinner.
"James, I said--"
The hand falls heavy on his shoulder, and the voice is right in his ear. He turns too quickly, knocks his hand against Lewis's raised arm, and the teapot tumbles from his grasp. It shatters on the floor. They look down at it. Lewis's hand curls under James's elbow to steady him.
"I'm sorry, sir." James forces the words out. He sounds as broken as the teapot. He's thinking of the mattress he helped Lewis throw away, of the last remnants of his marriage. A thing meant to last a lifetime, and James has smashed one more part of it.
"Don't sound so cut up over it, lad. It's just a teapot, for God's sake."
"It's not," James says, tightly.
Lewis shakes him a bit, startles James into meeting his eyes. Lewis's face softens in understanding. "Oh, is that it? Lyn has the old one. Got this for two quid at a charity shop."
James feels something unstoppable in his throat, but he can't tell if it's laughter or tears. It's just like him to get twisted up in something so small, to get it so completely wrong. And of course Lewis just knows what he was thinking, like he can read minds. Or knows James that well.
"Ugly thing," James manages.
"Yeah. But I needed a teapot, didn't I? With you over here all the time."
Lewis's hand slides up the back of James's arm. James meets his eyes again. They are serious and vividly coloured. The darker lines in his irises stand out like the veins under thin skin. Lewis kisses him carefully, off center, lips warm and dry.
He looks surprised afterward, which James can quite understand.
"I didn't mean to do that," Lewis says.
"I started it." James tries to say it lightly, but he's still unsure what the lump in his throat will emerge as, unsure what's happening between them, unsure if he wants it. "Emotional strain," he suggests.
Lewis nods. "Makes people do things they wouldn't usually do."
"Not murder, in this case."
"You killed my teapot pretty thoroughly."
James lets relieved laughter stutter out of him. It's manslaughter (potteryslaughter) at worst, but that seems not the thing to say today. "I'll buy you a new one, sir. First thing tomorrow."
The kettle boils and turns itself off. Lewis fixes them a mug each while James cleans up shards of yellow from the floor. They drink their tea standing in the kitchen in the warm light from the stove hood. The overhead fluorescents are off. The living room beyond is dim.
James feels, once again, nearly overwhelmed simply by being here, by being allowed to share this. Not merely allowed, but apparently welcomed. It's a feeling that has given him nothing but trouble today, and so he sets it aside, drinks his tea, and listens to Lewis dictate terms for his new teapot.
In ten minutes, he'll be stepping out the door, into the night. Tomorrow or the next day, he will find a teapot that violates every rule Lewis has come up with. Something with pink flowers, perhaps, or shaped like a cauliflower. Lewis will use it anyway, and complain about it every time he gets it out.