As he sat and watched Lewis return to the table they had commandeered with a pint for each of them, Hathaway quietly sighed to himself. There he was, with nowhere else he’d rather be, and yet longing for somewhere that was anything but this. Looking up at Lewis as he put their glasses down and sat on the chair opposite, his eyes were drawn to a fairly large smudge of ink on the Inspector’s tie. Before he could stop himself, he reached out and tugged a little on the fabric. Lewis leaned forward without protest and Hathaway took a closer look. It had landed there earlier, when Lewis had leaned down towards the dead body of an Oxford lecturer involved in their case who’d committed suicide and knocked over his ink blotter in the process, leading to an interesting pool of ink and blood covering the desk. Rubbing his thumb over the stain, Hathaway deduced that it had dried hours ago, and would probably never come out, no matter how many times Lewis washed the tie.
“Found something interesting, James?” Lewis shook him from his musings, and meeting his eyes, Hathaway could see the mischief lurking just at the edges of Lewis’ innocent expression. Trying not to note how the Inspector had leaned even closer across the table and how that made resisting temptation to throw caution to the wind and close the gap between them ever so slightly unbearable, Hathaway smiled a little smugly.
“You really need to take better care of your clothes, sir,” he teased. “That’s the second tie in two weeks.” He was, of course, referring to that incident where a suspect had attacked the sergeant before trying to make a run for it, punching him in the face, leaving him with a bleeding nose. Lewis, after apprehending the culprit with clenched teeth and a bit more force than strictly necessary, had had nothing better to do than to use his tie to wipe some of the blood from Hathaway’s chin before the taller man managed to catch his wrist and inform him of the doubtful merit of that particular idea.
“I have you to take care of, isn’t that enough?” Lewis teased right back, and as Hathaway pretended to pout, his stomach gave a little flip as he registered the Inspector’s eyes flickering down to his mouth. James wanted to say something else, but before he knew it, Lewis had gently pried his tie from his grasp and leaned back in his chair without another word, averting his gaze and picking up his pint.
Hathaway heaved another sigh and lowered his head, letting his hand fall on the table with a little thump. Taking a sip from his glass, he suddenly remembered the bits of a melody and a few lyrics that had unexpectedly formed in his mind the night before, as he had lain in bed, definitely not thinking about when exactly the levels of unresolved tension between him and Lewis would actually prove fatal. Taking his notepad and pen from his jacket pocket, he quickly jotted down a few notes, lightly drumming his fingertips on the table to try it out. He hummed a little to himself, checking with a quick look that Lewis wasn’t paying attention, and started trying to fit the words he had going round and round in his head to the tune he’d composed.