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walking
Title: Allotment of Joy
Characters/Pairings:
Lewis+Hathaway, with Lewis/Hobson in the background

Words: ~1400
Rating: G
Warnings: Major spoilers for Season 7
Summary: Lewis tells Hathaway his good news.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to wendymr for beta-ing this! It has changed substantially since she looked at it, so any remaining errors are very much my own.
A/N: This is for wendymr on the occasion of her birthday. It feels a bit dodgy giving you a fic that you beta-ed, but I think - hope! - that you'll be pleasantly surprised at the changes I've made in response to your feedback. Happy birthday, my dear!



"Now this," Robbie declares, leaning back in his lawn chair, "is how allotmenting ought to be done."

James sits back on his heels amid the upturned earth and wipes the sweat off his brow with a sleeve. "You should write a book, sir. Allotment gardening: a slaveholder's manual." He grins up at Robbie.

"Cheeky. You're the one who insisted that I take a break," Robbie counters good-humouredly. Now that he's no longer James' governor, he's discovering hitherto unplumbed reserves of cheek in the lad. Not that James wasn't cheeky before - Robbie's certain that no other DI would have tolerated the levels of impertinence he had from his sergeant. Then again, he can't think of any other DS who'd help his old DI plant peas, either. "And don't think I haven't noticed that you strategically forget to call me Robbie whenever you're taking the piss."

"Habits of a decade, sir. Robbie." James' mouth quirks.

"Anyway, it's not a bad suggestion. The book would sell like hot cakes." Robbie gestures around the garden. "Everybody wants one of you."

*


He'd gone to see Mr Cooper the day after he retired. The allotment manager had informed him that the waiting list was now three years long.

"Three years?" he'd gaped.

"'Fraid so," Mr Cooper had replied. "Unless..." His eyes had narrowed at Robbie, who had the distinct feeling he was being sized up. He'd straightened his back and looked Mr Cooper in the eye.

"Unless?"

Mr Cooper had waved a rough hand, cracked and callused from years of outdoor work. "Follow me."

They'd tramped through the garden for what felt like half an hour, until they'd come to the far end, where a large corner bed sat weedy and disused, a stark contrast to the beds of blooming crocuses and young green pea-shoots around it.

"No one's ever quite been able to make a go of this one," Mr Cooper had said, frowning at it.

Robbie had dug deep into his memory for an intelligent response. "Drainage wrong?" he'd suggested.

Mr Cooper had shot him a sharp look. "Among other things." He'd begun listing a litany of deficiencies of the plot, and the steps needed to remedy them. By the sound of it, you'd need a rotavator just to get started on that patch.

Fortunately, Robbie had known just where to get his hands on one.

"I don't like to give this one to a newcomer, and none of the old-timers want anything to do with it. But if you're keen..."

Robbie had collected his keys right then and there.

*


Their "odd pint" has become somewhat more often than odd, since James's been rattling around Oxford, at loose ends while he waits to go up for his DPhil. Turns out he has a standing offer from Professor Pinnock at St Gerard's Hall, and his immediate future is sorted with just a few phone calls. Innocent tries to persuade him to stay on for a few more months, but the lad's adamant. When Robbie goes, he goes.

And so it isn't hard to persuade James to help with the allotment - the lad practically volunteers as soon as he mentions that he's taken it up again. They're there almost every day now, scrambling to get things ready before the planting season is over. Robbie gets no end of envious looks from the other pensioners when they see his lithe young ex-sergeant energetically attacking the sod while Robbie potters and pots.

He sits back and surveys James. The lad's wearing a T-shirt so thin and worn Robbie can see the muscles flexing under the material as he works. He's actually humming as he digs, something classical that Robbie dimly recognises but can't put a name to. James must feel the weight of Robbie's gaze on him, because he glances up and catches his eye. He looks puzzled for a moment, but then a sunny smile blossoms across his face that almost sucks the breath out of Robbie.

There'd been a period of months - it felt like years - when it felt as if James was physically incapable of summoning a smile. But here he is, smiling freely, openly, and Robbie feels a sudden rush of gratitude for this time, here, together, free from darkness and death and mystery and murder.

It won't last forever, Robbie knows - at some point James will have to start working again, but he'll take it, however long it lasts. It's a rare privilege, he knows - he never had it with Morse, nor with any of his previous DSes.

He can't think of anyone he'd rather share it with.

Nor can he think of anyone he'd sooner share his good news with. He'll tell James while they eat. No time like the present, after all.

"Right," Robbie announces. "Teatime. I've brought cucumber sandwiches."

James visibly perks up at the mention of food. That's one thing Robbie has never been able to wrap his head around, how James can eat like a horse and still remain so skinny. "Sounds delicious. But may I have some water first?"

Robbie hands over the flask and James starts chugging it down, Adam's apple bobbing. Robbie clears his throat.

"So, Laura and I were talking last night, and we thought we might get married in the autumn."

James makes a funny choking noise, and turns his head just in time to spew the water all over the lot.

Alright, perhaps there are better times. "Oi, I know Mr Cooper said this plot needed some good irrigation, but I don't think he meant -"

"Please, just, stop," James chokes out.

Robbie waits. When James stops coughing, he hands him a hankie. "Sorry, lad, didn't think it was going to be such a shock."

James shakes his head. "It's just that you said nothing yesterday about proposing -"

Robbie shrugs. "Didn't want to count my chickens before they hatched."

James recovers his usual composure, and gives him a look that Robbie can only call fond. "I think they hatched a long time ago. Congratulations, sir."

"Anyway, the thing is, I was rather hopin' you'd agree to be my best man." As James' eyes go wide, Robbie continues, "Though I'm having a second think now. Not sure I want a best man who'll call me 'sir' in his speech."

James looks abashed. "Sorry. Robbie."

"Well?" Robbie finds himself holding his breath.

"I'd be honoured to, Robbie," James says solemnly. "And I promise not to call you 'sir' during the speech - I won't even tell the story about you, Innocent and the plastic gnome you thought was a -"

Robbie shoots him a stern look that shuts James up instantly. "Keep that up and you just might find yourself uninvited to the wedding," he threatens.

"You wouldn't do that," James protests. "After all, it's only appropriate that I get to be the one to give you away."

Does he mean that? Robbie studies James carefully. It's a common joke that the relationship between a DI and his DS is something like a marriage, and the two of them were no exception. They've joked about it. Laura's joked about it, calling James his "other half". And now that's Laura, isn't it? He wouldn't blame the lad for feeling as if he's being replaced.

But hard as he tries, he can't see any resentment or wistfulness in James' face, only pure happiness on Robbie and Laura's behalf.

Besides, it's not as if anything much will change, will it? There's no reason he has to lose James. They'll both still be in Oxford, and they're still mates. Even when James goes back to studying, he'll need someone, won't he? Someone who'll make sure he doesn't work himself to death among the stacks of the Bodleian. Someone who'll entice him out of his books with offers of lunch and pints, one-sided games of squash, and yes, the occasional period of slavework on the allotment. And also -

"So I was thinking," Robbie says. "Once we have the seeds in the ground, perhaps we can go visit some boatyards, look for a small dinghy. What d'you reckon?"

James' grin is brilliant, and dazzling, and makes him feel luckier than any man has the right to be. "I reckon I'd like that very much, Robbie."

~ end ~


Sequel: Transport of Delight

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
rawa_02
Feb. 18th, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)
Perfect.
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Thank you :)
valancy_joy
Feb. 18th, 2013 08:52 pm (UTC)
Awwww. This is lovely this is. I was to squish them both. :))
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Squish away! :) Thanks for the comment!
troyswann
Feb. 18th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
Lovely. Happiness for all! \o/
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:43 am (UTC)
Thank you. Yay happiness!
seren_bach
Feb. 18th, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC)
Aw, I love the idea of James being his best man! This was lovely!
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:43 am (UTC)
Thank you! I happen to be partial to the idea myself ;)
fortesomniare
Feb. 18th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
Damn, I wish you could see my smile! :'D
Thank you, that was lovely.
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:44 am (UTC)
So glad it brought a smile. Now you've put a smile on *my* face! Thank you!
wendymr
Feb. 19th, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
Aww, this is lovely! (And you're right: very different *g* I was actually going to email you back earlier, but didn't have time before I went out for the day).

I love this:
"Once we have the seeds in the ground, perhaps we can go visit some boatyards, look for a small dinghy. What d'you reckon?"

and the air of sheer contentment from both of them in this. Yes, Robbie's marrying Laura, but he and James will still be best mates and nothing's going to change that. Perfect!

And thank you very much for the lovely birthday present!
cactusonastair
Feb. 19th, 2013 04:45 am (UTC)
Thank you, I'm so glad you like the revised version! Made immeasurably better thanks to your comments. And you're very welcome too - your fics are lovely and you've been so supportive of my own efforts, so I'm really happy to be able to gift you this little thing.

I hope you had a wonderful birthday!
dandelionwine25
Feb. 19th, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
Lovely. I really hope at Robbie+Laura's wedding Hathaway will finally find his own happiness! Now, when he is not jointed at the hip with Lewis any more )))
cactusonastair
Feb. 20th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I hope that James has already found some happiness in the course of this fic though! Or at least contentment.

If you don't mind me asking, what does ")))" mean?
dandelionwine25
Feb. 20th, 2013 03:04 am (UTC)
those are just smiles ))) I usually reduce them from ":)" to ")))" - easier to tap ))

and talking about "being jointed at hip" - it's a quote - may be not accurate as I cannot find the exact words )) - from James in S03E03, The Point of Vanishing, when Hathaway was with Fiona McKendrick "for a while" as he said and continued "We were even trying to work out how on earth I was going to break up with you, sir" and later "We are inseparable". After Lewis managed to "separate" himself from Hathaway and coupled with Hobson, I really hope Hathaway will find a couple too! ))) and they will be happy all four of them together! I believe James has a right for his personal happiness - being close friends with Lewis and being somebody's lover/husband/anything intimate as well! )))

Edited at 2013-02-20 05:07 am (UTC)
cactusonastair
Feb. 20th, 2013 02:52 pm (UTC)
Hi and thanks for the clarification! I thought that might be what they were, but I've seen you use them when it seemed like your mood was less than happy, so it seemed like they might be frowny-faces sometimes too...you have to admit that including the eyes does disambiguate between :) and ): ! Now I know how to interpret them.

> After Lewis managed to "separate" himself from Hathaway and coupled with Hobson, I really hope Hathaway will find a couple too! ))) and they will be happy all four of them together! I believe James has a right for his personal happiness -

Well, I don't know about "separating" themselves. At least in the world I've tried to portray in this fic (other people might have other interpretations of how the characters feel post-S7, and are completely entitled to them), Lewis and Hathaway are just as "together" as they ever were, spending a lot more leisure time together, and on a more equal plane as best mates rather than inspector/sergeant.

And while I have absolutely no objection to Hathaway finding his own life partner, I don't think it's necessary to have romantic love in order to be happy. What I was trying to show here was a joyful Hathaway, finding personal happiness in his platonic love for Lewis, and in Lewis' platonic love for him. Of course, my writing may have been ineffective at portraying this, but that's what I was aiming for :)
hedda62
Feb. 19th, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
Aw, this is lovely. A perfect read after finally getting around to watching the episode!
cactusonastair
Feb. 20th, 2013 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you :) Glad you liked it.
flowerpotgirl
Feb. 20th, 2013 08:50 am (UTC)
Sweet and I love James' comment about the allotment book. That's the trouble with gardening, always too much digging!
cactusonastair
Feb. 20th, 2013 02:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment! And yes, too much digging - which is why Robbie is so lucky to have James :D
lullabymoon
Feb. 24th, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. Brought a smile to my face. :)
cactusonastair
Feb. 25th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much :) You've brought a smile to mine!
tehomet
Apr. 6th, 2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
*happy sigh* A little slice of perfection.

I adopt this as my new personal head!canon. :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )