FANDOM: Inspector Morse
RATING: PG, post-slash
Title:Orchids
Author: Elfin

Feedback to elfin@burble.com 

SETTING: After the final "Morse" novel, "The Remorseful Day". Could be considered to contain SPOILERS for that novel, but not set following it. (See "With So Much To Say" on the elfin productions web page for a follow-up piece to the novel.)

Disclaimers: Characters beloved creations of, and belong to, Colin Dexter.


Orchids

by Elfin

Lewis stood on the top stone step outside the building of solicitors 'Colby, Bruen and Cox'. He stared out at the White Horse Inn on the other side of the wide road, tears blurring his vision, his heart aching unbearably. In his right hand, his own car keys were gripped so tightly they would later leave an imprint. In his left hand he held the documents he had just spent the last hour going through with Morse's elderly and trusted solicitor, Art Bruen.

Morse had left him everything; house (mortgage-free), car (complete ownership), back account, everything already sorted into his name. And a letter thanking him for making his lover's last years the happiest of his long life, and begging him not to grieve, but to live happily, with memories, a future full of joy.

Someday, maybe, but not yet. Not while he felt that his heart and soul had been torn from him.



Janet McQueen arrived just after six that evening. They stood in one another's arms in the porch, both weeping, both holding to the other for comfort in the desolation that surrounded them.  "Oh, Robert, why....?" Lewis could only shake his head. Why? Why hadn't they been allowed just a few more years together? Why hadn't they found one another earlier? "Were you with him?" A nod. Yes. He was thankful for that at least. He'd been out at the Bodlian, looking into McMillan's alibi for Tuesday night when Andy - Sergeant Andrew Kershaw, a friend and one of only two at Thames Valley CID who knew about them - had called his mobile to say that Morse had been rushed into the Radcliffe after collapsing in his office. Lewis had driven at breakneck speed to reach the hospital. As it was, he only got a precious few minutes with Morse before the adoring smile had faded and the cobalt blue eyes Lewis so loved had closed forever.


It was a lovely summers evening. This time last week, he, Morse, Janet and Art had spent the evening out at The Barge in Thrupp, one of Morse's favourite riverside pubs. There'd been a barbecue, plenty of beer and a lot of laughter. Lewis wondered if there would ever be any laughter in his life again.

Janet brought out two mugs of tea to where Lewis was sitting on the low wall of the porch, leaning back against one of the stone pillars.  Everything in their home reminded him of Morse, of the three years they'd lived here together. Being inside hurt more than he could have imagined, yet the thought of staying anywhere else was unbearable.

"Does Strange know?"

Lewis shook his head, wrapping his hands around the hot mug. "This is the first holiday he's had in years, we thought.... Andy suggested we leave it. He's in the office on Wednesday, I was going to call him tomorrow evening."

"I'll do it."

Lewis smiled his gratitude.

For a time they sat in silence, the sun starting to set behind them.  Janet recognized the deep blue sweater Lewis wore as one of Morse's favourites. It would still have his unique scent on it; for Lewis it would be the only comfort possible for a time. "I'd like to stay, if it's all right. I don't think you should be here on your own."

Tired blue eyes met hers. "I'd appreciate that. You can have our… our room. I can't sleep in there. I've been crashing out on the couch."

"I'll sleep in the spare room. I wouldn't feel right…."

Lewis nodded, understanding. Janet had always been there for him, even at the start when Morse had chosen between the two of them. 'I knew he'd pick you,' she'd told him back then. 'He's always cherished you.'

"Thanks."

"Whatever I can do, Robert. Just say the word."


He woke early and decided to go into headquarters. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but at seven am they'd be very few people about and it would give him time. He couldn't just sit around the house… it would be like waiting, and there was nothing to wait for any more.

He eyed the Jag, but hadn't been able to face even unlocking it.  Someone had brought it back from the station at the weekend, Lewis wasn't sure who. He took his own Calibra the twenty minutes to the Kidlington station.

Only one desk sergeant saw him, and gave him a slightly odd look that Lewis finally put down to his dress; the same dark sweater he'd worn yesterday and faded blue jeans with trainers. He didn't know if he had a shirt that was clean, and he wouldn't be working anyway. With more than slight trepidation he pushed open the door of their office and stepped inside. Everything was as he'd last seen it on Saturday morning before he'd left for the Bodlian. Case files and pencils littered both desks; they'd been working through the evidence with a fine tooth comb.  He wondered who would take the case on now, and found he really didn't care.

More tears filled his eyes as he stepped up to Morse's desk. His superior had never really spent too much time behind it, preferring to let his long-suffering sergeant wade through the paperwork and do most of his investigating out in the field. That hadn't changed since they'd become lovers. Just… he would get a great deal more appreciation in recent years. He glanced at his own desk and his eyes picked up the ever-changing photograph of his own kids. Andy had rung Val on Sunday, and she had said that she'd tell them; they'd grown close to Morse lately.

Moving around the desk, Lewis perched himself on the minute windowsill and just sat. On Saturday, just after Morse had died… nothing had seemed real. It was as if he were just a spectator looking in on someone else's loss. Only when he'd finally gotten home had he understood just a little of the enormity of his grief. Yet, even now he could imagine Morse walking in through the door, smiling unguardedly at him for a few moments before they both assumed the familiar roles they played during office hours. He hurt, deep inside where it seemed he would never be healed. He wondered, if the agony ever ended, would there be anything left?

Sergeant Andrew Kershaw found him 20 minutes later, leaning against the sill, head lowered, shoulders shaking with wrenching sobs. Andy had been a friend to both of them. He'd known Lewis from the day they'd started at Thames Valley, and had long ago confided in him that he was gay. Lewis had met Keith – the permanent 'other half' – a couple of months before finally having the courage to act on his feelings for his chief. Lewis had never told a soul of Andy's sexual preference, and he kept Lewis' secret with equal loyalty.

"Robbie.…" Lewis reigned in his emotions with a little success and looked up. Andy was standing before him, mug of tea held out to him.  Pulling the sleeves of the baggy sweater down over his hands, Lewis took
the mug.

"Thanks, Andy."

"Should you really be here?"

"I can't… I don't really know what to do or where I should be." The corners of his lips tilted into a smile that far from reached his eyes.  "I didn't cry this much through my whole childhood."

Andy rubbed his arm in sympathy and understanding. "If there's anything…"

Lewis nodded. He could almost see the thoughts in his friend's mind; 'thank God it's not me, what would I do if I lost Keith?'

"I'll be fine. Thanks for the tea."

Andy nodded, and left Lewis alone for a while. Lewis concentrated on blowing into the mug, trying in vain to cool it down before sipping at the hot liquid. He hadn't ever drank this much tea before either.

It was some ten minutes later that a loud voice shattered his cocoon of hard-won peace.  "Lewis! Morning, and where is he then? Still making you come in early to start the donkey work?"  

Heart breaking anew, Lewis looked up and met Superintendent Strange's warm eyes. For a moment he couldn't speak, and then he managed, "You're not supposed to be back until tomorrow, Sir."

"Today, Lewis. I told Morse Tuesday! I swear he was sober at the time."

Lewis nodded. "Tuesday." He remembered now. But Strange was looking at him, suspicions aroused.

"Lewis?" He stepped further into the office. "What's wrong?"

Lewis dropped his exhausted gaze back to his tea. And then he looked up with the last shred of strength he possessed. "Morse… collapsed here… on Saturday afternoon. He… he died in the hospital about an hour
later."

"Oh, no…. Oh, Lewis." Suddenly his tea was being taken from him and he was being gathered up into strong arms. "I'm so sorry."  Lewis wrapped his own arms around the other's neck, and again harsh, bitter sobs were ripped from him, cries of a soul torn to shreds. He could feel Strange's own tears soaking his shoulder, but he could offer no comfort. Morse was gone; a part of so many people lost forever with one single death. He hoped someone else knew how to recover from this, because for once he didn't have the answer.

After a long time, Strange stepped back, drawing his hands soothingly down Lewis' arms. He looked as shocked and lost as Lewis felt. Strange and Morse went way back.

"Lewis… are you all right?"

"No."

"I don't know what to say…. If there's anything…" he saw the haunted expression cross Lewis' face and stopped. "I know, too much sympathy."

Lewis nodded, picking up his tea and holding it like a life-line. "Is there… a funeral?"

"No. He… he left his… to medical science. He didn't want a service, you know how much he hated the church."

"What about a wake then? Just a few friends, having a few drinks in his name? He'd appreciate that wouldn't he?"

Lewis thought about it and nodded; yes, Morse would like that. "It's a good idea, I hadn't thought…"

"Of course you hadn't. You've got enough to think about. I'll arrange something, for say tomorrow night, at the Barge perhaps." Lewis nodded. "You just… come and go as you want, all right? We'll take care of everything here, you take of yourself."

"Janet's… staying with me."

"Good. You shouldn't be alone."

Strange regarded the broken shell of his best sergeant with the warmest of expressions. "Just come and see me whenever. Whatever."  Lewis nodded and thanked him, and was finally left alone again with his memories and his haunted thoughts of his beloved Chief Inspector.


Strange put his head around Chief Inspector Johnson's door ten minutes later. "Could I have a word? In my office." He added the last when Johnson indicated the seat in front of his own desk. On the way upstairs, Strange cornered Sergeant Kershaw too. The two took seats opposite Strange as he sat down, his gaze wandering absently to one of the framed photographs hanging on his office wall; he and Morse standing against the Jag, taken some years ago at a conference in Brighton. He smiled to himself sadly. He considered himself a very lucky man that Morse had left him only happy memories, and not the gaping hole in his life that Sergeant Lewis had been bequeathed.

Finally, Strange gave his two companions his full attention. "Right.  Johnson, I'd like you to take on the two cases Morse and Lewis were working on." Johnson nodded, he'd suspected that would happen anyway.  "Sergeant, I'd like you to assist." Andrew also nodded. Johnson had usually taken Sergeant Dixon along on his own investigations. But Morse was given cases for a reason, and he knew as well as SI Strange that Dixon wasn't the brightest light-bulb in the shop. He at least could add some insight; he'd worked with Morse now and again when Lewis had been on vacation, or more recently when the two had needed an extra head.

"Wouldn't it be wiser if I just took on Lewis?" Johnson asked suddenly.  "I mean, he knows the cases already. No point in taking his expertise away from them surely?"

Andrew suddenly remembered what Strange already knew, Johnson had no idea of the personal relationship that had existed for so long between their two best detectives. He kept quiet though, knowing Strange would deal with it.

"Sergeant Lewis won't be on duty for a while," Strange told them both.  "When - and if - he returns, he's to be promoted to Inspector. We'll take it from there but not yet."

Johnson frowned, but he would be the first to admit that promotion was a long time coming for the Sergeant. "He's deserved it," Johnson commented. "He's been held back by misplaced loyalties for too...."  He didn't get any further. Two pairs of suddenly hostile eyes were staring him down. Strange pointed one stubby index finger at him. "Be careful, matey. Just be careful now. Morse will be remembered as a legend at this station."

Johnson nodded, "I'm sorry. I know the two of you were close."

Strange sat back, accepting. "Yes, well.... All the case notes are in their office. If you could collect them, Sergeant?" Andrew nodded, relieved.

Johnson went to stand. "If Lewis could just fill us in...."

Strange hesitated. It did make sense for Lewis to give them a quick rundown on where he and Morse had got to. Maybe it would give him something else to think about for a little while. "All right, but only if he's up to it." He looked meaningfully at Andrew, who nodded, and then back at Johnson. Voice a little sharper, he added, "And tread very carefully. No bitter remarks, no snide comments." Johnson's eyebrows went up, but he said nothing, merely nodded.  Strange hoped he was doing the right thing.



Finding the photograph - under the papers in the top drawer of Morse's desk - had been a surprise. Despite having been taken before they had become lovers, it showed how close they had already been. It was taken at a pub out towards Swindon, a party Janet had thrown for Morse's birthday only a few weeks before Lewis had finally admitted his deeply hidden feelings. The photo was of them both, sitting up on a wide wall, arms straight out behind them, leaning back and smiling at the camera.  There was barely an inch between them, shoulders touching just slightly. Close and comfortable. Lewis swallowed back the tears that threatened his fragile composure.

Folding the photo carefully so that only the main image was showing, Lewis slipped it into his wallet, behind the transparent window and put his wallet back into his jeans pocket.

"Lewis?" He looked up as Chief Inspector Johnson strode into the office, Andrew close behind. "Strange said you'd talk us through the two cases you and Morse were working on."

He gazed at his superior for a moment, and then nodded. "Yeah, okay."  Leaning forward he picked up the top case file, handing it to Johnson as the man perched himself on the edge of Morse' desk. He summarised the case. They'd only been working it on and off; a missing person's report that may or may not match the MO of several disappearances earlier in the year.  The second case - the one that had been given most attention - was spread out over both desks. "Charles McMillan, found dead by his friend Kris at his flat last Wednesday morning. David McMillan, the elder brother, was the favourite."

Johnson looked over at the scattered papers, handing the first file over to Andrew. "Alibi?"

"I was trying to check it out at the Bodlian when...." When he'd answered a call on his mobile and been told Morse was being rushed to hospital. When his life had shattered into a million painful shards.

"No one's had a chance to follow it up yet," Andrew told Johnson quietly.

Johnson nodded, seeming not to notice Lewis' distress he continued, "I know SI Strange said you wouldn't be on duty for a short while, but I really would appreciate your help on this, Lewis. I've always rated you
highly."

Lewis didn't even smile. "Sorry, Sir, I don't know when I'll be back at work." He thought about a couple of lines from Morse's letter to him, left at the solicitors:  'I know you, Robert, you'll want to give up, move on. But I need you to live for me. I tried to teach you everything because I knew you would learn. Please don't run from the job I know you love.'  He wouldn't leave Oxford, not yet anyway. But he couldn't face working under anyone else. Too soon. It was too soon for anything.

"Lewis." There was a note of gentle reprimand in Johnson's voice now, and Andrew shifted obviously.  "Now I know you'll miss Morse, we all will, but he would have wanted you to go on, in his footsteps - with slight deviations towards actual police practises.” Johnson chuckled at his own joke, clearing down his expression when he happened to glance up at Sergeant Kershaw.

Lewis just stared at his superior officer. Morse had never liked Johnson. Even now, Lewis could remember one particular afternoon in mid-case. With Johnson biting at their heels, they’d absconded into the maze of countryside around Oxford’s colleges and found a secluded pub that wasn’t on Strange’s list of Morse’s usual haunts (with telephone numbers for emergencies). Taking one of the picnic tables at the end of the beer garden, they’d both put pint glasses on the grass and lain back on the benches, smiling at one another across the underside of the table. They’d swapped gentle jibes concerning Johnson’s inability to solve the murder case, the reason they were on it at all. Morse had known who’d done it all along, and Lewis suspected the same. So they’d taken an hour or two off to themselves, letting Johnson stew.

Lewis managed to smile at the memory, blinking back sudden but wholly expected tears. He looked up at Andrew, who stood. “I think we have everything, don’t we, Sir?”

Johnson glared up, surprised. “Everything but Lewis’ promise of assistance, Kershaw.”

“He’s already said….”

“I know what he said! But there’s no use in moping around the place….”  He was looking of at Lewis now, and could see the tears amassing in his eyes. “Lewis… it’ll be alright.”

“Sir….” Kershaw’s concern was growing; Lewis really wasn’t in any state to be involved with a battle of words with Johnson.

But Lewis wiped his eyes with his hand. “It’s all right, Andy.” He regarded Johnson steadily. “I have the Super’s permission to be off duty, Sir. I don’t want to work. There’s no one else I want to work with.”

Andrew watched with concern and Johnson with confusion and slight anger as Lewis stood and walked out of the office.


Two mugs in her hands, Janet stood for a short time in the porch of Morse and Lewis’ house, watching her dear friend sitting in the front seat of the beloved Jaguar, legs dangling out of the open door. One of Lewis’ arms was hooked through the base of the steering wheel. An hour until the wake at The Barge; both Strange and Andy had offered to collect them, but Lewis had declined. He’d thought about taking the Jag, Morse wouldn’t have wanted her – it - standing around on the driveway after he’d spent so many years loving and caring for it. There were just so many memories linked to the car.

She – Janet – hadn’t been surprised when Morse had told her what had happened between he and Lewis. Morse had always been fond of his sergeant. When she’d first met Lewis, at a birthday celebration she’d thrown for Morse, the depth of his obvious devotion to his boss took her breath away. Easy-going, cheerful, determined and fiercely loyal, she’d wondered how his wife coped with such Morse’s forthright claim on the majority of her husband’s time.

Knowingly, she found out in the end. Valerie Lewis had known that she was slowly losing her husband’s affections. Somehow, losing them to another man didn’t make her as angry as maybe another woman might have.  Perhaps she no longer loved him anyway. He was the father of her children and she’d never denied him access to them, and had never said an unkind word about or to Morse himself.

Only at that party had she realized where Morse’s heart was destined to settle. She waited, patient and with a growing sense of excitement, like waiting for an event she knew would change her whole life. She and Morse went out another couple of times, and then the Connerly case had come along. Morse and Lewis worked every hour of every day and night for almost a week. They’d cracked the case finally. And after the celebrations at Morse’s place, Lewis had waited until all had left and jumped his Chief Inspector. That was how an at first bashful, apologetic, guilt-ridden Morse had put it when he told her the next day. And when she’d smiled, and told him that she still loved him, and that he had probably always belonged to Lewis and had only been on loan to her. Finally, predictably, the misery had subsided and she’d found herself being embraced by an ecstatic E. Morse, very deeply in love.

It hadn’t been easy, for either of them. But after a couple of months of struggle, they’d worked out that as long as they didn’t make any wrong moves at work, and their arrest rate didn’t suffer, no one would notice anything had changed. Six months after the initial surprise, Lewis had moved into the house. Another year passed before Strange had found out by accident, a slip late one night on a crime scene. Not even a touch – a mere look between them. But Strange had seen it.

Still, nothing happened. They were both interrogated for all the juicy details by Strange the next morning, but he’d never told a soul. That had been over two years ago.

Now, though. Now, she suspected, Lewis didn’t care who knew, and would probably fare better if everyone knew. Turning up in the car tonight was a step towards that.


And it was. Lewis drove, steadily and slowly, out to the pub, turning up just behind Andrew and Strange. He parked the Jay close to the car park entrance, wanting to make sure of a quick get-away if one was required. The three – Andy, Janet and Strange – flanked him as he walked with trepidation into the pub. The landlord and lady – Michael and Laura Hicks – immediately offered their condolences, and Lewis thanked them with a nod, accepting the pint that was handed to him.

A few other officers from the station had already arrived and were talking quietly at the bottom of the beer garden. Muted laughter made its way to Lewis’ ears as he stepped outside, still surrounded. He hesitated for a moment. Never again would he hear his lover’s wondrous laughter. Never again would he know that presence by his side and be so very sure that he was loved; that the great Morse held him and him alone special in his heart.

Janet slipped an arm around his waist and squeezed gently, once. “No pretence, now, Robert. He loved you, you loved him. Let that knowledge sustain you.”

Overhearing, Strange nodded and put a large hand on Lewis’ shoulder.  “No more secrets.”

Lewis took a deep breath and a long swig of ale. Even the taste reminded him of Morse. Since they had been together, Morse had cut out much of the drinking. But he had still loved a pint of the real ales.  On many nights, Lewis had shared that taste intimately with his lover.  He did smile then. Despite any first impressions, Morse had been a blissfully imaginative lover.

He nodded at Janet, he was ready to face the crowd.

Johnson arrived fifteen minutes later, and was shocked to see the Jag In the car park. He wondered who the next-of-kin had been. Interested to find out, he ordered a pint at the bar and headed outside.

Lewis sat up on one of the tables, feet on the seat, Janet as ever at his side. She’d refused to leave him alone, and he was glad of it somehow. He really didn’t think he could have coped with any of this on his own. Andy also, seemed ever-present. Lewis couldn’t be more grateful. His eyes dropped to his beer and he found himself drowning in memories. Before – and after they’d gotten together although less frequently – he and Morse had had storming rows. Usually over nothing, little comments; personal things that bugged Morse but that he kept to himself. It irked Lewis, although for a long time he didn’t understand why. And then there’d been the one just after they’d gotten together.

They’d been called to one of the big Oxford houses early in the morning. They’d taken Morse’s car, leaving Lewis’ at the house. They rarely did that, but it had simply made sense. Lewis had driven for some reason. They were outside the house, after questioning the main suspects, and Morse simply told Lewis to get started on the preliminaries. And then turned away. In retrospect, Lewis thought it was probably just the adjustments they were having to make to accommodate the relationship. Or maybe it was just that the man giving him orders was the same man whose cock Lewis had sucked dry the night before. Whatever it had been, something had snapped in his head and he’d gone off the deep end. He couldn’t remember now what he’d said, but through the whole tirade, Morse had simply stood and watched him, his expression one of bewilderment and affection. No anger, no humiliation at his sergeant’s behaviour. Lewis couldn’t battle against that total lack of reaction for long. He’d climbed into the Jag, slammed the door and taken off at break-neck speed, gravel flying every which way.

According to Morse (later, when Lewis had calmed and was in a fit state to be ribbed about his actions), he and several other officers who’d been privy to the tantrum (which luckily had not included anything personal or regarding their new relationship) had been left staring at the dust left in the car’s wake, Morse slightly worried about his paintwork. Luckily, Andy Kershaw had been among the crowd. He’d calmly piped up, “The Missus must have taped over the footy again.”  The younger officers had laughed, the situation diffused and the incident soon forgotten by most present. Morse had quietly thanked Andy, and asked him for a lift back, for he was now stranded at the house.

Lewis had driven for a while, until he’d passed a pub. He’d suddenly realized that he had the car, and had stranded his boss. He’d returned to the station, expecting ridicule and at least a suspension; definitely he‘d been expecting an end to his new love affair. But no one had said a word, no one had looked at him twice and the place was relatively quiet. He’d only been standing in their office for around thirty seconds when Strange had strolled in. ‘I hear you gave old Morse a bit of an ear-bashing this morning, Lewis,” he’d said cheerfully. Lewis had nodded in shame, but the smile had not faded. ‘Good lad, he needs to be put in his place now and again.’

Five minutes later, Andy had turned up and explained he’d taken Morse home. When asked if the boss was mad, Andy had shaken his head. “A little worried about you, and about the Jag. Not the reaction one would usually expect from Morse.’ He’d even winked. ‘Must like you an awful lot.’

Lewis doubted he’d ever forget the drive back to Morse’s place in North Oxford. By the time he pulled the car into the drive, his pulse had been racing. Locking the Jag’s door, he’d stood on the step for a few seconds, wondering whether to use his key when Morse had opened the door and stepped back to let him in.

‘I’ve been worried sick.’

‘Why aren’t you angry?’

‘I’m furious! I’ve been worried about the car!’ But there had been a smile on his face and in his voice, and his arms had opened to him as Lewis had broken down. They’d stood for an age in the hall, Lewis weeping his apologies, Morse holding him, hushing him, reassuring.

Later, lying on the sofa, Morse on his side, Lewis staring up at the ceiling, hands grasped in each other’s, fingers entwined, Morse had told him just how much he really loved him, how they would manage despite the difficulties, how it would be worth it. How good they were together.

So good. And it had gotten easier, wonderfully so. And it was more than worth it.

“Lewis?” 

He looked up, a little startled, into Johnson’s smiling face.  Next to him, Janet leaned back, her arm curling briefly around Lewis’waist. He smiled his gratitude once more.  Finally he gave Johnson his attention.  “Thanks for coming, Sir.”

“I couldn’t not. I know we didn’t get on, but Morse was a copper, like the rest of us. He always had my respect.”

Lewis was surprised, and he wondered briefly if there was a heaven, and if Morse could hear this unlikely confession. In his mind he could see the amused scepticism on his lover’s face.  “Thanks.”

Johnson took a sip of larger and looked around. “I notice the Jag’s here. Wouldn’t know … who the beneficiary was, would you? Didn’t know he had any family.”

Lewis hesitated, but he remembered Strange’s words. And it didn’t matter now, if it ever did.  “Me, Sir.” He said proudly.

Johnson’s expression was worth everything. Lewis and Morse had often talked about how their various colleagues would react to knowing about them. Lewis had guessed that Johnson would be disgusted. Morse had bet that he would be jealous; his wager had earned him a long, luxurious kiss.

“You? Really? You must have been … close. He really didn’t have a next of kin?”

“We were close, Sir. Very.”

Lewis had seen the same expression cross Morse’s face a million times; the puzzle almost solved, just the final piece to slot into place. “He honestly left you everything? His Jaguar, his house…?”

“Our house, Sir. And yes, he did. Not that any of it will make up for his not being here.” The line was a sad one, but, surprisingly, there were no tears just now. There would be more, many more, Lewis knew.  His heart was broken and it would take time to mend. But at least it would mend in love, not pain or bitterness. And Morse had died a happy, contented man, in the arms of the one who loved him unconditionally.

Johnson was still staring at Lewis when Strange appeared with a second pint. Lewis refused it, still drinking the one he had. So Strange handed it to Johnson. “You look like you need it! What’s the matter?”

Johnson turned to his superior officer, incredulous expression on his face. “Sir, did you know about…”

Strange glanced at Lewis and smiled. Suddenly he was proud to have known about Morse and Lewis, proud to have been their friend. Their company and love had been infectious.  “Yes, I did, Chief Inspector, and a bloody wonderful couple they made too!”

Lewis actually beamed.


The sun had set by the time the beer garden emptied. Strange and Andy walked with Janet and Lewis out into the car park. Lewis walked a little way ahead, his eyes set on the sleek, elegant body of the maroon Jag. He reached into his pocket and drew out the keys. And for a moment, his breath caught in his throat. He could see Morse standing by his car, arms folded across the top, smiling at Lewis with a blissful serenity that had come to him only in the last years of his life. And in his mind, Lewis could hear his lover’s voice read the final line of that heart-breaking letter that had accompanied the inheritance.

‘You made everything special, Robert. That’s what you are. While you need me, I’ll watch over you, and I’ll know when, and if, to let go, as I know you will. With you, life was as complex and as simple as those three words you always shared with me. I love you, Robert Lewis.  Always remember. M.’



fin
elfin

03/10/99


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