“He’s not getting out.” James Rikes’s knuckles were white as he made a dramatic swerve through the traffic. “That bastard is not going to see the light of day ever again.” He beeped and made a rude hand gesture towards another poor unfortunate car whom he then sped past. “If I have to put him 6 feet under he’s not getting out.”
“Don’t swear in front of Lewis.” Chided Sean, looking in the rearview mirror to see the huge silver eyes staring at them both.
“Daddy coming?” Asked the toddler, his verbal abilities were getting better, but still not quite normal for a child his age.
“Not yet, kiddo.” Sean turned to James, who was still clutching the steering wheel as if it was the neck of a certain psychopath. “James, we’ll get him. But right now we’ve got a more.. Pressing problem.” Instantly James’s muscles relaxed as he betrayed how tired he truly was.
“You’re right, S. ‘Course you are.” He took a swig from the flask he’d taken to refilling more often than usual. “We need to get the papers ready.”
James undid the seatbelt on the toddler’s seat, helping the child out and leading him by the hand towards the apartment, where most of his things had been moved into the guest room.
“MAMAAAA!!” The scream tore through the apartment complex, nevermind the single few rooms where the detectives dwelled. In a flash, James was awake and jolting to the guest room, his eyes wide and heart beating faster than he’d had it beat since the phone call, all those years ago…
He burst into the room where Lewis was hunched over in the fetal position, crying in such a heart-rending way that the detective was almost afraid to touch him, lest he break into a thousand pieces. “Lewis?”
The sniffling didn’t stop but two short, chubby arms raised in a gesture that James usually only gave to Sean or Kingstone. He wrapped his arms around the kid and awkwardly patted his back as he sobbed into James’ chest. He looked up awkwardly when Sean came into the room a while later, looking confused. Then he saw the sobbing bundle in his partner’s arms and flashed a face of sympathetic understanding. When he eventually spoke, his voice was soft and soothing.
“Hey, little Lewis. What’s happening?” It was times like this when James remembered the for all his awkwardness in serious situations, Sean was good with small children. That had always been Susan’s strength with Violet, come to think of it…
“I-I thought Mama was here…” Lewis trembled as both men tried to soothe him. “But I woke up and she wasn’t an IdunnowheresheisanIwannaseeheran-” Lewis tumbled into inconsolable babbling while the two detectives looked on helplessly- though once again James held onto the tiny beam of hope; this had been the longest sentence Lewis had ever said. Albeit the child was half asleep and absolutely terrified, but… It was something.
When he was safely tucked into bed again, Sean led James back to bed. James was once again enveloped by his lover’s arms as he murmured, too outraged to sleep: ‘We need to get that monster, S. We gotta. We just have to.’ Sean bit his lip before he kissed his partner’s forehead.
‘We will, my love. We will. But first, sleep.’
There was no sleep that night.
That morning Sean burnt the pancakes. Sean never cooked- they usually ate takeout, or Kingstone brought food. James felt sick as he looked down at the charred mess smothered in syrup. Kingstone. She wouldn’t be doing that again.
Lewis, on the other hand, was enjoying the sticky mess. He was smiling and while he quite often missed his mouth with the food he ate quickly- like he hadn’t had a good meal in a long, long time. James and Sean cleaned him up and left him on the floor playing with a set of blocks and his teddy bear.
“What are we going to do with him?” Sean asked worriedly. James looked at the floor uncertainly.
“He’s Kings. She had no other family. No one to know. No one to care…” He closed his eyes and fought back the blind rage at the marks on her arm that he should have recognised. His tense hands were taken again by the man who had been keeping him together the past few days.
“We can handle being shot at; we should be able to handle a toddler.” Sean leaned in and kissed James softly.
“So we can-”
“I wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of him. You wouldn’t want anyone else to take care of him. Guess who you and I both trust to take care of him?” James smiled the first smile in a long time that wasn’t forced, as they kissed again.
Lewis was legally in their custody for the time being- but without evidence or a conviction concerning Rupert, they would have to wait a long time to become his full legal guardians.
The hardest part of the investigation was questioning Lewis- James couldn’t fully do so and had to be replaced by another officer. Why he or James were still on the case was a mystery considering how close they were, then again if you had a white-hot crowbar it was unlikely James would be prized away from the case.
It was Lewis’s testimony that would be the lynchpin to the case- that with bloodied shards of glass found in the dumpster behind the house and skin particulates found on Rupert’s shoe. However what Lewis had grown up hearing when he was tucked away safe in bed would be enough to convict any man- if the jury were to believe the kid; in cases like these, James figured they had an even chance of winning.
He’d seen too many of these cases to be wrong… Right?
Finally there came the day of the court case, when everything would be decided- for better or worse. James had worn his fingernails to the nubs with worry. He didn’t know what would happen to Lewis if he wound up going home with his father again.
He wasn’t going to let himself think like that.