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It's a break in the Choudhury case that sends Lewis to Hathaway's flat at half nine on a Sunday. He wonders if James might be off god-bothering, but when the door opens, he's there, wearing a plain gray jumper and running shorts. His legs are covered in ginger down. His hair lies in soft tufts across his scalp; his ears stick out; it's a glimpse at the gangly boy he must have been, once.

"Hello, sir." It's the same tone he uses at work, the same sharp nod. He steps aside, and Lewis brushes past him into the apartment, smelling sweat and antiperspirant in equal measure.

"Sorry to interrupt," Lewis says. "It's the father-in-law."

"Of course," Hathaway says. "Just doing my calisthenics, sir. I'll only be a moment."

"Calisthenics?" Lewis asks, but Hathaway has already ducked a corner and there's the sound of a door closing behind him. Bedroom, likely, or bathroom. Bathroom--the shower is running. Lewis listens to the empty clatter of water on tile, and then the muffled drip as Hathaway steps under the spray. It feels rude to keep listening, so Lewis wanders back towards the apartment door, hands in his pockets. He lets his mind drift to the usual channel--if the father-in-law knew the shopgirl, which her interview suggests he did, then they can throw his alibi right out the window--but before he can line up his thoughts properly he hears a low baritone humming and gives up.

For my sins, he thinks, and sits down on the couch to listen. Goodness knows what it is Hathaway's humming--likely one of those what-do-you-call-ems, madrigals, the jazzy noodling he does with his band--but it's loud. His voice carries through the whole flat, practically, and into the hall. Lewis casts about for something to read, but Hathaway's hardly a magazine man and his bookshelf is full of thoughtful, ugly books with plain gold text on the spines.

The water shuts off. There's a moment of silence, and then the door creaks open slightly and Hathaway's voice echoes out from a strange angle.

"It's Moy, sir?"

"Ah, yes," Lewis says.

"Anything new on the stationary connection?"

"Not as such, no," Lewis says. "Herself has discouraged us from committing further police resources to that particular lead."

Hathaway chuckles. Then Lewis hears footsteps--he's walking from the bathroom to the bedroom. He doesn't close the door this time, just rustles into his clothes surprisingly quickly and emerges mostly dressed, jacket and tie in one hand.

"Shall we?" Lewis says, standing. "Unless you need another hour to match your tie to your shoes."

"Lavender, sir," Hathaway says, leading the way out of the apartment, "it goes with everything."


Lewis can't picture Moy killing his son-in-law--he seems genuinely bereaved, for one, and Lewis has learned to trust his ancient instincts on these things--but he's certainly hiding something. He keeps his hands in his pockets through the whole line of questioning, sometimes half-sitting on his desk, every so often getting up and pacing slowly around the study, stiff as a wind-up monkey.

"No," he says, "I don't think I ever got a letter from Kevin--it's the twenty-first century, Inspector, most of us have email these days."

"What about cards? Christmas cards, birthday cards, that sort of thing?" Hathaway asks.

"From my own daughter and her husband?" Moy stops in front of one of his many bookshelves, hands still in his trouser pockets. "No! We all spend the holiday together, with my wife's parents in Norfolk. And Leah generally takes the bus up from London on birthdays. It's just a couple of hours, why not?"

"Thank you, Doctor Moy," Lewis says. "Can we reach you here if we have any further questions?"

"Yes," he says distractedly, and then, "You know, I'm not even sure she's going back down to the city. She won't stop crying. We've been scared to ask her, about the flat and everything, in case it starts her up worse." He takes his hands out of his pockets, finally, and they rattle gently against his thighs. "Is that all?"

"For now," Lewis says. "Thank you for your time."

The doctor nods. He's made no move to sit down by the time Lewis and Hathaway have closed the door to the study behind them.

"A surgeon?" Hathaway says, as they clatter down the stairs to the street. "With hands like that?"

"Must be why he's no longer practicing," Lewis says. "Look into it, eh? Could be a medical condition. Or side effect of a drug, perhaps?"

"Could be," Hathaway says, noncommittal.

"Find out if he's had any medical negligence claims," Lewis says.

"I think I know where you're going with this, sir, and I'm skeptical."

"Ah, you're always skeptical, Hathaway," Lewis says, and smiles, with a greater proportion of fondness than is perhaps necessary. "It's why I keep you around."


It's Leah next, and her father was right--she weeps, softly but nonstop, both while they're asking the questions and while she's answering them.

"High-strung family," Hathaway mutters, leaning close to Lewis while the girl is busy with the kettle. It's the old tin kind you put on the hob, white with distinctly seventies orange flowers on the side, and even over the rush of the tap Lewis can hear each and every one of her sobs.

"Be kind," Lewis scolds, thinking of Lyn, and of himself, and he wonders if it's a function of old age or just a fact of life that every case these days seems to hit home some way or another. Leah is plump and round-faced, with bleach highlights in her spiky black hair, and her jaw is cut just like her father's--all in all she's striking and just this side of pretty. Better-looking than her husband, surely, before or after he was shot. He hopes, in a wave of sudden tenderness as he watches her spoon out loose tea, that she finds someone else to love, that's she doesn't let herself stay lonely.

"Ms. Choudhury," Lewis says, "we have some questions that might help us establish Kevin's movements on the day he was murdered."

"All right," she says, and hiccups wetly.

"Did he have a library card?"

"Not here. At home?" She picks up her teacup and looks into it for a long moment. "Yes, I think so."

"Was he fond of books?" Hathaway asks.

"Sometimes," she says. "He had, he had a gardening phase--he used to get books on it. Different flowers, that sort of thing." Her face goes muted suddenly. Lewis glances to Hathaway, who nods slightly and then falls back to the doorway, hands in his pockets and shoulders slumped, a tall man trying to look short.

"Thank you," Lewis says, as gently as he can, and pats her free hand where it rests on the countertop. Her blank face is somehow worse than the crying. "Please, if you remember anything at all, give us a call."

When they walk out, he feels James crowding his elbow, looming. On reflection, he finds it a comfort.


"It's not pretty," Hobson says, holding the edge of the tarp in one hand. It's a bit of a pointless gesture--it's been pissing down all night, the evidence can hardly get more compromised than it is now--but at least it gives Lewis a moment to steel himself before he nods to Hobson to lift the tarp. Young woman, white, mid-twenties (the worst); close-range gunshot wound to the face (horrible); dead at least a day; hands neatly lopped off at the wrist.

"Surgical cut," Hobson says briskly, and lowers the tarp again. "Odd, I think you'll find, as the gunshot wound--probably what killed her--is a deliberately messy choice. The hands came off at least eight hours after death."

"Time of?" Lewis asks.

"Between three and five Thursday afternoon."

"Daylight," Hathaway observes. Lewis glances over at him--he's got a queer angle to his face, a little canted, and he's looming again. Lewis has to tilt his chin up slightly to catch Hathaway's eye, and when he does, the man just looks back gravely.

"Any clue where she was killed?" Lewis asks, turning back to Hobson.

"Sorry," she says. "Nothing yet. Ask me tomorrow."

"Ring me when you've got something," Lewis tells her. There's mud on his shoes, inside the covers and out; he'll have to take a wet cloth to them when he gets home. Tracking it into the car and all. He sighs. Behind Hobson, a pair of uniforms string police tape through the trees at the edge of the clearing. Somewhere a horse whinnies.

"Sir?" Hathaway says. It's not the first time, by the sound of it.

"What?" Lewis says.

"Pint, sir?"

"Oh." Lewis shakes his head a bit, scraping the side of one shoe against the other. "All right, then. You're driving."


"DS Cooper's asked us to her engagement party," Hathaway says. The late-day light from the window comes down into the hair on the back of his neck and makes it sparkle. "Week after next, the Friday I think. Her fiancée's some kind of teacher. Kiddies."

"Hm," Lewis says, into the cold amber of his lager.

"Brave of her, I thought," Hathaway adds.


"Well," Hathaway says, "putting it round herself. There were rumors all round the office--I was warned off her by a WPC once--don't bother chatting her up, she's a dyke and all." He smiles with one corner of his mouth, tense. "I suspect my informant had less than honorable intentions."

"Huh," Lewis says. He's listening--anyway, he's not not-listening, not on purpose--but James gives him that Val look, the one with a question in it.

Lewis sighs. "All right, all right," he says. "What is it now?"

"Sir," James begins. Lewis rolls his eyes, but the man goes on anyway in that serious, inscrutable way of his. "Sir, you seem--distracted lately. A bit--far away. Is there anything--?" He drums his fingers on his glass.

"Oh, bugger," Lewis says, and slides his own glass a couple of inches to the left, for no reason he can think of. "Just getting old, I suppose. Less space in between cases than there used to be."

James hums lightly and nods. They sit there, staring down into their pints, until Hathaway's fingers twitch toward his jacket pocket and he looks at Lewis out of the corner of his eye.

"Oh, go on," Lewis says, and Hathaway slides gratefully out of his chair and ducks out of the pub. Lewis can hear the door close behind him, and then one of his arms and the side of his head appear in the edge of the window, trailing smoke. He takes five to seven minutes to smoke one cigarette, generally, but it's barely ninety seconds before Lewis hears his footsteps clattering back up to the booth.

"Sir," he says, breathless, and the smell of fresh smoke waves up with him, "I've just had a call--our body's been matched with a missing girl, just reported. She's the shopgirl's flatmate."

"Well then," Lewis says, putting down his pint and picking up his jacket. "Looks like we're back on the clock."


Three hours later, they're no closer to a confession, but they do have a new set of compelling and seemingly unrelated complications. Tracy, the girl from the stationary shop, is in hysterics in an interview room--she claims she's no idea why her flatmate has been killed and mutilated less than two days after one of her customers turned up strangled on a visit to his in-laws, and Lewis is inclined to believe her. She's soft-spoken, works three jobs, and her anorak doesn't match her clothes--what Lewis's mum used to call "honest poor," lo these many years ago.

"I barely knew her," she gasps out between sobs. "Honest, I didn't--it was just an ad sort of thing. Cheap housing, no pets. I can't believe she's dead."

All Hathaway manages to get out of her is that Anna was a bit of a wild one, used to play Ke$ha at all hours, and had a thuggish sort of boyfriend who washed dishes in one of the hospitals.

"I don't like the boyfriend for this," Lewis says, walking out to the car park.

"Sir, with respect, you haven't even seen the boyfriend yet."

"Doesn't matter," Lewis says, brushing him aside. "Profile's all wrong. Gunshot wound, close range? Fast and messy--that's one kind of death entirely--but then the hands? That takes equipment, training, practice. One or the other, maybe I'd believe it was a lover, but not both."

"Ah," Hathaway says.

"Don't you 'ah' me," Lewis says, with fond annoyance.

Hathaway smiles. "Lift home, sir?"

"Me to mine, or you to yours?"

"Me to mine," James says. "You came for me this time, remember? My car's still at my flat."

"'Course," Lewis says. They're halfway into the silent drive, his brain ticking back through the day, when he remembers. "Didn't you say something about Cooper, at the pub?"

"Yes," James says, "engagement party, invited, us. I knew you weren't listening."

"I was!" Lewis protests. "Anyway, you ought to go."

"I ought to?" James asks.

"Yeah," Lewis goes on. "She's about your age, seems sociable, bright lass like that's bound to have loads of friends. You could meet some--people, you know." He can feel himself spinning out words into the very solid silence on the other side of the car.

"Yes, sir," Hathaway says, icy-cold.

"Oh, come off it," Lewis huffs. "You know what I mean. Be good for you to mingle a bit."

"If you don't want to go," Hathaway says, "you should have just said so."

"Me? I've got better than twenty years on her, she won't want me hanging about at her party. And I wouldn't know what to say, besides."

"Congratulations, perhaps?" Hathaway offers, sarcastically, and then, in a different tone altogether: "And you've got better than twenty years on me."

"I'm your inspector," Lewis says. "It's different." He's driving on autopilot now, using most of his brain to try and make some sense of James's sulk, and he notes with relief that they're less than six blocks from his flat.

"You're my friend," James says. "And I don't need to meet any more 'people.' I have worked out that means 'blokes,' by the way."

"Don't start with that," Lewis says.

"Fine," James says. "I won't." He tucks his chin to his chest like an overgrown child. The skin of his neck comes up in rolls, completely unattractive and somehow vulnerable. Lewis brings the car to a stop outside James's flat.

"So," he says, and nods awkwardly toward the sidewalk. "Your flat."

"Sir," Hathaway says, and gets out of the car.


"Gentlemen," Innocent says, "please explain to me how investigating envelopes is going to help us solve this case."

Hathaway looks up from his desk. He's still a bit green around the gills, but not as bad as he'd been the morning--Lewis had looked up at nine on the dot and seen a nauseous apparition in place of his sergeant.

"Choudhury was buying them less than an hour before his death, ma'am. He apparently took a great interest in their shapes."

Lewis can see Innocent lose it: her jaw flexes, her left eyebrow bows up, she clamps one hand on the hip of her tailored skirt. "I'm not even going to ask why you haven't interviewed the victim's boyfriend--who, I'll remind you, had both possible motive and the opportunity to acquire surgical equipment. I'm just going to tell you to find him. Now."

She turns on her heel, which clicks neatly against the tile, and brushes out in an officious rustle of expensive suit.

"I did hear, sir," Hathaway rumbles, "that Mr. Innocent would be taking sabbatical in the spring."

"Oh, dear," Lewis says. "Heaven help us."

"Heaven indeed, sir," Hathaway says, but it lacks his usual snap. He sounds like a man who has vomited at least once in the past six hours and is deciding whether or not to repeat the event. Lewis has been taking pity on him--he'd been upset, clearly, for reasons Lewis still cannot fathom, but with a tenor that reminds him of Lyn's teenaged tantrums--and something soft inside him takes pity again.

"Do me a favor--stay here, keep on with the stationary connection. Have some lunch if you can. I'll go see about the boyfriend on me own." Lewis picks up his jacket off the back of his chair, and when he looks over at Hathaway, he's doing the same--mirror image.

"With respect, sir," Hathaway drawls, "the hell you will." Then he huffs out, like Innocent before him.

Lewis casts his eyes skyward--he's a clod, he knows it, but he just can't figure out why--either that or Hathaway's gone mad--and then he shrugs into his jacket and hurries off after his sergeant.


Face-to-face with Steven Mulligan, Lewis is relieved that Hathaway overruled him. Six-foot-three is one thing--he's eye to eye with James, for pity's sake!--but Mulligan is wide as a barn at the shoulders and muscled up to match. Two is better than one with a suspect like that, even if he could likely flatten them both in about a second.

"She's what?" Mulligan says. "She's--"

No one's told him yet. He crumples from the neck down, huge body folding in on itself, greasy black hair fluttering over his face. Lewis turns to Hathaway and gets a disbelieving look in return.

"We'd like to ask you a few questions," Lewis says.

Mulligan has a few answers, and he's surprisingly willing to cough them up. He shakes slightly at the jowls as he tells them that he and Tracy had a scheme going flogging hospital equipment--little things at first, mostly from the kitchens, but he'd gotten bolder, she'd scared up some specialty buyers, and he'd been tucking away a few extra things starting last week.

"We need to know if you tucked away anything from the surgeries," Hathaway says. "This is very important."

"Well, aye," Mulligan says, and looks down at his hands. "Instruments--a couple of trays' worth, in my dish cart. Couldn't tell you what they all were. Tracy has them still, unless they've gone on since."

Hathaway leans forwards, elbows braced on his knees. His lavender tie hangs loose from his arched neck. "Gone on where?"

"Don't know," Mulligan says, "but if she's sold them, I've seen nowt from it." He rubs one bare arm with the palm of the other hand.

Hathaway looks over at Lewis, and you'd never know he'd been however he'd been that morning--he's tense and poised and in his element.

"Thank you for your time," Lewis says. "We'd prefer it if you stayed in Oxford until further notice."


Tracy doesn't confess until Hathaway silently spreads out three evidence bags on the interview table in front of her: gun, sternal saw, and a luminol photograph of her kitchen.

"The blue flares are blood," he says, pointing. "Here, and here--consistent with a gunshot wound to the head administered by an assailant of similar height."

"Oh," she says, fingers twitching against the surface of the table. She sucks her upper lip between her teeth for a moment, then lets it go, looking like a student called up to the principal's office. Hathaway leans toward her slightly--he's standing, she's sitting--and slides another photograph across the table: Anna's hands, bagged in plastic, in the back of an open freezer. For a moment Lewis sees the fires of God's judgment in his eyes. So does Tracy, by the look of it.

Behind the one-way glass, Innocent nudges Lewis with her elbow. "He's picked a few things up from you, eh?"

"Oh, no," Lewis says, "that's all his. He looms like no other."

She smiles. "I was a bit hard on you this morning. I'm sorry."

"Ma'am, even the best of us sometimes need a bit of urging." Lewis smiles back. Under Hathaway's unrelenting loom, Tracy breaks out into a shaking, keening wail. Her arms tremble and her chest heaves up and down. Hathaway smiles coldly.

"Why don't I leave you to it?" Innocent says, patting Lewis on the arm. "Get a confession, line up the paperwork, and take the rest of the day off. Please."

"There's no need for--"

"I mean it," Innocent interrupts. "You look worn out. Go home, Robbie."

"Yes, ma'am," Lewis says. He resists the temptation to roll his eyes as decidedly not age-appropriate, but he does shrug in a slightly surly way. Innocent pats his arm one more time.

"Same goes for Hathaway," she says. "Well done, Inspector."


"Pint, sir?" Hathaway says, once they've passed Tracy into the custody of a couple of uniforms. She's turned out to be mad, beyond mad--fixated on Dr. Moy, convinced that his condition was due to surreptitious poisoning on Choudhury's part rather than a completely natural if tragic case of Parkinson's. The hands were meant to be a love token; she'd actually asked Hathaway if she could send them anyway, from the lock-up.

"But why the flatmate?" Lewis asks. "I can't make any sense of it."

"Domestic, perhaps? That much Ke$ha would drive anyone to murder."

"Who's the what, now?" Lewis says crossly, and James laughs.

"Pub?" he asks, stepping out onto the sidewalk.

"Ah, you should get on," Lewis says, waving James off toward the carpark. "It's Friday--make a night of it."

"That again," Hathaway says, tightly.

"Well, if you'd just listen--" Lewis says.

"I'm disagreeing, sir, it's not the same as not listening."

"You bloody stubborn sod," Lewis half-shouts, and then catches himself. His face feels warm, even. He knows anger when it walks up and shakes his hand, but he can't tell where it's coming from--it seems barely contained by his skin, like the air inside a bubble. He takes a deep, slow breath.

"Go home," he says, suddenly calm. "Take the week-end. I'll see you on Monday morning, and no earlier."

"Sir--" Hathaway begins, but Lewis holds up a hand.

"Just give me the bloody week-end, will you?"

Hathaway nods, reluctantly. He looks like he's going to say something for a moment, jaw set and eyes cast off into the distance, and then he nods again.

"Fine," he says, no 'sir' even, and stalks off into a long jungle of cars.


Lewis wakes on Saturday morning to the sound of James Hathaway murderously cooking him breakfast.

Pans clatter, the electric kettle huffs steam, and James himself hums another of those unplaceable tunes. For a moment, Lewis thinks he's been invaded--his dream bleeds into his waking, something about a shotgun and a man dressed as an alien--but then he hears the humming, and he knows. He casts about for a pair of trousers, pulls on a t-shirt, and walks out barefoot into the kitchen.

James is wearing jeans, and two shirts the wrong way round, short-sleeved over long-. When Lewis rounds the corner into view, he jabs his spatula into the pan twice in quick succession--scrape, scrape--and looks appraisingly at what must be eggs and fried bread, by the smell.

"Good morning?" Lewis tries. He knows better than to ask how James got in--spare key, for emergencies and vacation plant care--and he's not sure what else to say to a clearly volatile man with a hot fry-pan in one hand.

"Morning, sir," James says, overloud. "Jam or honey?"

"Jam," Lewis says, and then stands there in his dress trousers and a fifteen-year-old Oxfordshire Public Libraries t-shirt with holes in while James looms all over his kitchen with a spatula.

Breakfast is delicious, anyhow. James makes an excellent cuppa, and a not-half-bad plate of fried bread. There was a second pan all along, with sausages in it, and Lewis chews appreciatively.

"Why?" he asks, after his third or fourth bite.

"You need doing for," James says.

"Hardly," Lewis scoffs. James gives him another one of those looks: intent, brow creased, somewhere past fond and into bullying.

"What did you do last night? When you left the station."

"Well," Lewis says, "ate dinner, I suppose. Watched a bit of telly, caught up on the papers from this week. Went to bed early. Why?"

"Did you talk to anyone?" James asks.

"Well, no," Lewis says.

"When's the last time you spoke to Lyn?"

"More than a week, must be--maybe Tuesday before last--why? James, what are you playing at?"

James doesn't say anything, just takes another bite of his breakfast. Out of his tailored suits and pastel ties he looks very, very young, younger than anything, his shoulders about two sizes too wide for the rest of him. His hair's flat again this morning, and looks soft--clean, still damp at the roots, maybe.

"You need doing for," he says, again. "You're a wreck lately."

"What?" Lewis asks, too loud, with his mouth still full of sausage.

"Work's getting to you--don't deny it--you're skittish with bodies and distracted with suspects. Hobson's noticed and so has Innocent." James just tilts his head in response to Lewis's sausage-impeded protest. "And it's not just work--you don't go to the pub, you don't go shopping except to stock up on ready meals, you don't even call Lyn."

"That's hardly--"

"See, I was trying to figure out why you're always brushing me off lately, telling me to go out and meet 'people', and I think I have."

"Oh, enlighten us," Lewis drawls.

"You don't want me getting in the way of your sulk," James says, smugly, and swipes a forkful of egg and sausage into his mouth.

"My sulk?" Lewis asks. "I'm not five years old, James."

"With respect, sir--" James says, and just smirks when Lewis interrupts him with an "oh, sod off."

They finish their tea in relative silence. Lewis runs a hand over what's left of his hair and finds static electricity, crackling strands sticking to his palm. The flat smells like breakfast, sausage and egg and tea. He sighs. Beside him, a mug thuds down onto the counter and a fork rattles against a plate. It's odd, all these sounds, the dirty pans on the hob, and the smell of cigarettes and cologne rising off James. Makes him itchy, a bit--makes him want to go back to bed.

"Sir," James says, "you might want to get dressed."

"Ah, what for?" Lewis asks, and good Lord, even he can hear the sulk.

"We're going shopping," James says, and gets up to put his dishes in the sink.


"I don't like canned fish," Lewis says. "Is there mustard in this?"

"You don't have to," James says. "It's for me."

"You eat this?" Lewis asks. He's pushing the cart--he'd reached for a basket at first and been overruled--and James is picking items seemingly at random.

"I like herring," he says, and takes the can out of Lewis's hand. Their fingers brush--nothing out of the ordinary, but it feels different in a Tesco, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up and James already loping off toward the dairy case.

"I've got milk," Lewis argues, hurrying up to follow him. The cart squeaks and rattles, oddly embarrassing.

"You've got semi-skimmed," James says, and goes for the blue label. "I don't see the point of semi-skimmed. Either you like your milk to taste of something, or you don't."

"I thought you didn't approve of nice neat lines down the middle," Lewis says. James puts the bottle down next to the packet of coffee (also James's choice), and smiles slightly, under his eyelashes. That's the moment Lewis makes the link he should have made when they first walked into the store, or when he woke up this morning, or last week or last month or any number of times since Hathaway first started looming in Lewis's orbit.

"Oh," he says.

"'Oh' what, sir?" James asks, but he's smirking again, his hair all wispy and daft.

"I don't suppose we'll be needing eggs," Lewis says. "You left most of the dozen at my flat."

James grins. It's a small grin, granted--he's still Hathaway, who won't even mug for the camera at the office Christmas party--but it's there. Reminds him of the case years back with Will and Zoe Kenneth, James on that hospital bed looking puny and about nine years old and smiling just because Lewis had done his job and carried him out of there, bad back or no.

"Oh, sod off," Lewis says. He stalks past James and picks out a pint of cream, the organic kind that Lyn buys and which does, somehow, seem to taste better.

"For strawberries," he says to James's raised eyebrow. "Haven't had strawberries and cream in an age. Go and fetch us some, will you? They'll be all right this time of year, I expect."

"Yes, sir," James says, and heads off with his hands in his pockets, halfway to whistling.


(They do make it to DS Cooper's engagement party. It's at a pub not far from the station--wooden bartops and billiards, not at all as bad as Lewis had imagined.

"I was picturing that bloody nightmare of a cathedral," he says to James, as they're walking up to Cooper's table. James shudders.

"You brought your inspector!" Cooper exclaims, and throws her arms around James's neck. Lewis catches his eye--minor panic, and some amusement. Cooper slaps him on the back twice and lets go. "Sit down, Hathaway. You too, Inspector. Two seats over here."

They sit, get a round in, chat with a couple of blokes from the fiancée's primary school. Not a one of this lot is much older than Lyn and Mark, and Lewis roll his eyes at himself a bit--swanning about with a bunch of kids. James sips his orange juice and smiles at a joke every now and again, which is practically bloody celebratory, for James. Cooper's put them shoulder to shoulder so they bump arms every time Lewis reaches for his pint. He finds himself reaching for his pint more than usual.

At the other end of the table, Cooper kisses her wife-to-be, red hair against black, and everybody smiles--James even shows some teeth this time--and Lewis wonders what he was thinking, when he could have had this all along.)