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FANDOM: Inspector Morse
RATING: PG pre-slash
DESC: Response piece to the episode "The Way Through The Woods" (TV, not book).

Characters beloved creations of Colin Dexter, based on characters portrayed by John Thaw & Kevin Whately.

A Path Through The Woods


by elfin


The sudden sound of the shot had seemingly echoed in the trees for too long. Lewis wondered if it was in his head, if it would be there forever to remind him how close... how very close he had come to dying.  Would they have searched for his shallowly buried body for so long? Or would they have given up? He glanced over at Morse. His Chief would never have stopped looking for him, never have given up until he held his sergeant's bloody, dirty corpse in his arms, or touched the very bones with his fingers.

Lewis was cold now. Michaels' blood had soaked through his shirt and was dying against his skin. It could so easily have been mixed with his own. He should have called in, he knew. He would be in trouble for not doing so. He just wanted to prove to them - to himself - that he was capable of independent thought, that he didn't need Morse or Johnson ordering him around. And he'd wound up staring down the barrel of a shotgun. If it hadn't been for Morse....

He thought back on everything he'd said, the argument in the pub and the row at the station. He'd always seen Morse as arrogant, pigheaded.  Once the man had an idea in his head he wouldn't let go. But wasn't that just how he'd been behaving himself these last few days? He'd refused to believe they'd been wrong. He'd returned to Johnson's side again and again. Why? Because Johnson had offered him a promotion? At what cost? And again, why? Because Johnson hated Morse. Because Morse had what Johnson wanted; him. Detective Sergeant Lewis, CID.

Morse had been right, of course. There was a price to pay. Working under Johnson would have meant turning a blind eye to the brutality and terrorism that went on in his team. Morse would never hit a suspect!  He had other ways of getting what he wanted.

So it came down to what Lewis wanted. How badly did he want that promotion? And why did he tell Morse about it the way he had? Just to see his Chief’s reaction? To see the hurt and betrayal in his eyes? If that had been the reason, then he hadn't been disappointed. His announcement had deflated Morse, stopped him in his tracks. What kind of person did that to another? Was that his only weapon against Morse's fierce determination to get to the truth? The ability to cause hurt.  He remembered his own accusation, 'this was never about Johnson, it was about you and me'. Was that the real reason then? 'You and me'.  'Us'. What 'us' was there?

He heard his Chief step up behind him.

"Are you all right?" He nodded. "Strange isn't happy. He wants to see you first thing tomorrow. Johnson's... promotion looks set to be withdrawn."

Lewis nodded. Nothing unexpected. He and Johnson had convicted a man of the murder of a girl who hadn't been murdered at all. He was probably going to face some period of suspension, it would certainly go into his record. Morse, though, would be there defending him. He was suddenly sure of that.

'It's about you and me'. 'Us'. 'What 'us'?

"She could have killed you, Sir. You'd have died in my place?" he asked quietly.

"Lewis...."

"I told you she only had one bullet left and you would have taken it instead of me."

"You're young. You've got a family. You've got a promising career ahead of you. I'm old. No one would miss me." 

The words were spoken so calmly, with little emotion, that they touched Lewis deeply.  "I would miss you, Sir." Without looking at Morse, Lewis stepped around him and opened the passenger door of the Jag.

A few seconds later, Morse joined him and they sat in silence in the car.

"I was… scared for you." Morse started softly. "I saw Cathy Michaels on the garage surveillance tape, and Peters told me you'd come up here.  I drove up and I saw the blood on your car. I thought... I could never have forgiven myself."

"I'm sorry."

Morse shook his head, gazing across at Lewis. "Don't be. I was… out of order from the start. You're right. I was jealous. But not because you'd solved a crime, not because you'd got it right, because you'd solved it with Johnson." He looked away. "It's been an honour working with you, Lewis. I… I will miss you."

Slowly, Lewis reached out and grasped his Chief's hand. "I… told Johnson to stuff his job, Sir. I doubt it's even his decision now. If you'll have me back, I don't really want to work for anyone else, not yet. I wasn't right. I just rushed in, like I always do. Forgive me?"

"Nothing to forgive, friend." Morse met his sergeant's eyes and saw the tears there. "Lewis..?" He looked down at the hand covering his own, and realized how cold it was, felt for the first time the subtle trembling. Immediately he removed his jacket. "You're going into shock. We need to get you warm." In the small space of the car he leaned across and helped wrap it around his sergeant's shoulders. He started the car engine and turned on the heaters, blasting the warming air into the car.

For the final time in the Karin Anderson case, Morse drove them out of and away from Wytham Woods.


tbc?
elfin
05-11-99


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