FANDOM: Inspector Morse
RATING: PG13 (implied m/m)
Pairing: Morse/Lewis
Title: Roses
Author: Elfin

Prequel to "Orchids", a much happier tale :-)

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Disclaimers: Characters beloved creations of Colin Dexter. Based on characters portrayed by John Thaw and Kevin Whately.


by Elfin

"How long has this been going on?!"

Morse could have kicked himself. He'd known, as soon as he'd seen Strange's note on his desk, that they'd been rumbled.

'My office, NOW! S.I. Strange'.

Last night had been such a long night and they'd both been so tired.  Closing the McDermit case mid-afternoon; picking him up, charging him, interviewing him had all taken many long hours. They'd gone straight home from the station, changed with barely time for a word of congratulations between them, and headed out to the retirement party for the Chief Constable. At about midnight the call had come through
requesting their presence at Chapel House in North Oxford. The man of the house had been found dead at the top of the stairs by his wife returning home from a cocktail party. He'd been beaten around the head, according to the first policeman on the scene. All his wife had said was that she had wondered why he hadn't turned up at the party.

They'd all four gone to the house; Morse and Lewis, Strange and Dixon – the latter had for some reason taken on the job of Strange's chauffeur.  (As far as Morse was concerned, it was the best job for Dixon. Lewis had taken the enthusiastic but not overly bright Sergeant under his wing some months ago, but even the patient Lewis was reaching the end of his tether.) Morse couldn't even remember why he'd needed a pen, but as Lewis had walked passed him in the hall, he'd tapped him on the arm and asked him for one. At the same moment (practically), someone – probably Dixon – had engaged Lewis in conversation. Lewis had taken his pen from his inside pocket and handed it to Morse, turning slightly just to acknowledge him. Morse had felt it, and he knew Lewis had too – that silent communication that sometimes passed between them in a glance with the power of a lazerbeam. And then Morse had turned, and caught the expression on his own boss' face. He couldn't have been sure then what Strange had seen nor recognized. He was fairly certain now, though.

They'd finally gotten home at just before three am and had practically fallen asleep where they stood.

And now this, when all Morse really needed this morning was a coffee and more sleep. He had done one thing before heading for his superior's office though - he'd left Strange's note on Lewis' desk with a scribbled addendum:  'the pen? M'

"How long has this been going on?!"

Offered a seat, Morse chose instead to make himself comfortable on the low, wide windowsill to the left of Strange's desk. He folded one leg under him in a way that amazed Strange. In fact, now he came to think about it, Morse had been looking fitter, healthier and younger in recent months. He looked down at himself in a moment of self-condemnation before bringing his mind back to the matter at hand. "Well, matey?"

Morse sighed. "It was last night, wasn't it? That's when you knew. When he handed me his pen, at Chapel House."

Strange nodded. "I saw the look you gave one another as he passed it to you."

Morse turned to look out of the first floor window into the road below.  "We were exhausted. And he just looked so... damned sexy." (The words made Strange blush.) "Bow tie undone, shirt unbuttoned, hair ruffled."  Morse smiled ruefully back at Strange. "In a year and a half it was the first mistake we've made."

Strange stared at his friend. "A year and a half?!" Morse nodded. "By God...." Some detective that made him! He was still reeling from that when Morse added, almost deliberately,  "We've been living together for a year."

Strange sat down hard, eyes wide. "Well, you'd better tell me all about it."

"It, er, it started at the end of the Woodstock Road investigations.  Lewis and I worked flat out that final week, spending days and nights in the incident room at the ground floor flat." He smiled to himself.  "Apart from the last 36 hours, my clearest memory is of sitting in the Jag in the driveway, listening to Bach and watching Lewis in the open window of the flat reading through the statements. That was all we seemed to do during the daylight hours, read statements, reports and observations. At night we would swap notes, compare ideas and still not come up with anything. The Wednesday evening I suggested we went back to my house instead of staying in the flat. It was more comfortable and we could eat off plates instead of out of Styrofoam trays. We threw several box loads of papers in the car and left for the evening.  I put on coffee, made a meal, we ate, and settled down for yet another night's reading. I can't remember how long we had been there; me stretched out on the sofa, Lewis sitting on the floor close by. But I spotted something in the report I was reading, and I asked him to look at it." Morse leaned his head back against the wall supporting him, smiling to himself at the wonderful memory. "He just turned ... he was so close. We looked at one another and it... it was almost electric.  We both knew, what it had been, what it meant, but neither of us said a word." He chuckled softly. "I don't think either of us could believe it."

"The following day - the Thursday - was magic. I remember he was already at the flat when I got there, sitting on the low wall outside, drinking coffee and with a mug there ready for me. We sat on that wall all morning, him talking, going through everything we knew, everything we suspected, not even in any kind of order, just as he remembered things. And at some point he mentioned Keeley - the gardener we'd interviewed at the very start of the case but whom we had believed had an alibi. But something Lewis had stated earlier in our little tête-à-tête, something we knew to be true, contradicted Keeley's alibi.  We just stared at one another, knowing we'd done it, knowing we had him and we could prove it.  We were ecstatic. We had that celebration - remember, Sir, champagne, at my house? We had to pour you into a taxi quite early on...."

Strange held up a hand, "Yes, thank you, Morse, I do remember. Almost."

Morse chuckled. "Well... I believe Sergeant Kershaw and his... friend were the last to leave. Lewis and I stood in the hallway watching the headlights out of the drive. And then he leaned in and he just said, 'I thought they'd never go'." He paused, delving into his own cherished memories of his beloved sergeant pining him against the living room wall and devouring his mouth like a man starved. He was unaware that he had his superior on the edge of his seat, fascinated despite himself. Morse could remember every detail of that night, every new taste, sound, sensation. Every touch. He'd have treasured those memories even if they hadn't heralded the start of a new love, a new life. But they had. And every day he considered himself one of the luckiest men alive.

Finally Strange leaned forward. "Well, go on!"

"Not bloody likely! The details are our business."

Both men turned their heads when there came a knock at the door and it was opened.

Lewis thought they both looked as guilty as hell. He smiled innocently. "I was just looking for the Chief Inspector, Sir," he told Strange without another glance at Morse.

"Any particular reason, Lewis?"

It was difficult not to laugh; it was more than obvious that Morse's guess, scribbled on Strange's note, had been accurate at least in its guess at the subject of the hastily-called meeting. "Connerly's turned himself in, Sir. We're holding him in the interview room."

Strange brightened considerably. "Well, Morse, you'd better go and find out what he has to say for himself."

Morse stood, nodded and headed for the door that Lewis was holding open for him. He'd stepped into the corridor and turned slightly when he heard Strange's voice. "Couldn't stay for a few minutes, could you, Lewis?" They did not even have time to glance at one another, yet an agreement passed between them; silent and mutually understood.

"Take a seat, Sergeant."

Lewis sat himself comfortably in the chair opposite Strange. Had it been a year ago he would have been worried, but they had proved both to themselves and to their superior that they could work together still despite the sometimes volatile, yet surprisingly easy love affair that bound them to one another.

For some time, Strange simply regarded the easy-going sergeant with an uneasy mix of awe and bewilderment. And then he asked, "What the hell do you see in him, Lewis?"

Lewis almost laughed then. "Is this off the record, Sir?"

"Of course!"

The younger man thought for a short time. "My life, Sir." He stated finally. Strange sighed dramatically, making Lewis smile wider. "It's all right, Sir, no one else knew either."

Strange straightened. "If you're suggesting…." He sighed, deflating.  "All right, Lewis. As long as nothing… improper has occurred."

"Nothing, Sir. I pounced on him if you must know."

"But why, Lewis? You're … young! He's … old."

Lewis could only smile. "Why do we ever love people?"

Morse was standing by the window when Lewis got back to their office.  He turned to his sergeant, his eyes sparkling. "Observant man," he pointed out with more than a hint of sarcasm.

"You think you'd have known, Sir, if had been me and him?"  Morse laughed, the sound touching Lewis' soul as it never failed to do.

"I think I'd have noticed if he'd become easier to work with."

Lewis chuckled. "You think you've been easier to work with since we got together?"

"Well haven't I?"

They very rarely got home at the same time. Even if they set off from the station together, Lewis often indulged in his only vice, speeding, whereas Morse was a slower, more leisurely driver who enjoyed being
behind the wheel of his Jaguar.

It was the evenings when Lewis got in after him that Morse loved the most. Having someone let themselves in, make themselves comfortable, was a truly wonderful feeling. He would listen to the floorboards under
Lewis' feet, as his lover changed out of his suit in the bedroom, and offer him a drink when he came downstairs.

Invariably though, as tonight, Lewis wanted nothing before he had his hug, his kiss and his reassurance that whatever had occurred through the day, everything was okay between them.  "Strange isn't going to try anything… is he?"

Morse chuckled as he reached to flick the switch on the kettle, one arm still around his lover's waist. "No, of course not. You should have seen his expression. It was priceless." He reached fingers into the soft, dark hair he so loved to touch. "It was the pen." Lewis nodded, resisting the urge to purr under the tender stroking. "What did he say to you?"

"Asked me what I saw in you."

Another laugh. "Yes, I often wonder that myself."

Only later, as they lounged together on the sofa, did Lewis point out exactly what he did see in his elder lover.



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