Fire, Part VI- The Pyre

 

Lewis never sleeps through the whole night. Often James isn’t even aware half the time of when exactly he gets up and comforts the crying kid in the middle of the bed. Waking often to Sean’s burning pancakes (no innuendo, unfortunately) and with the kid cuddled impossibly close to his chest, listening to his heartbeat avidly, often with his eyes wide open.

Inwardly, James hates the courthouse and the idiotic decisions and methods the people there use. Mostly he just hates wearing the penguin suit and waddling around like a good little worker drone when he’d rather be beating the shit out of Rupert, who is smirking when he enters the courtroom. Smirking.

James hopes that Lewis doesn’t understand any of what’s gone on. But Lewis is just as smart as Kingstone was and that’s both good and not good- he knows what his father is on trial for, but he hasn’t realised yet that his mother isn’t coming back. Giving the kid a wave, Rupert sits down and the trial commences.
~

The thing about bastards like Rupert. They hate getting caught. That’s probably why he looks so cut up when he’s giving his testimony. Why he cooks up a story about finding Kingstones body that is so o b v i o u s l y bullshit that it takes every ounce of Jamess strength to keep from launching at the fucker right then and there.

He’s never thought of her like that before. Just. A body. The body. In the middle of the living room and with her smell still clinging to her. With her brain but it’s not her brain because there’s nothing left of her to be hers. Apart from Lewis, who probably was awake in the next room, listening to every moment of what happened but just being too young to understand or to help- it makes James’s head buzz, to even think about how fucked up that home must have been, just weeks ago. It makes his hand close around Lewis’s and Sean’s in a rare need for support that he realises should be kept out of the courthouse- out of work in general, and releases both hands. Sean understands and places his hands back on his lap. However, Lewis’s hand remains and his eyes are giant blue saucers that look like they’re trying to find out everything in the room by taking in every minute detail- he’d make a good detective one day, James thinks, nearly laughing bitterly. Nearly.

~

It’s the pause before the final verdict that drives James insane. He had forgotten to account for how Lewis would react in front of seemingly a thousand staring, waiting jury members. He rambled the answer to every question in a monotone, as if it had been rehearsed. He still trembles now, when he’s in James’s arms again- outside in the park, on a bench. He doesn’t want to eat but Sean does some comical imitation of an airplane with the cheese sandwhich and Lewis laughs before he eats the whole thing in a few bites.

Eventually he stops trembling and hops down and walks towards the playground on the park, fascinated by another toddler in a secluded corner of the playground that is blowing enough bubbles to fill the whole place up. James and Sean follow behind him, curious to see what will happen if Lewis is left to fend for himself socially for perhaps the first time.

“Bubble.” One hits him on the nose and pops in his face- Lewis’s eyes water slightly but he does not cry. He smiles and pops another with his fingers. The girl blowing bubbles giggles and blows a long delicate bubble in his direction. Lewis isn’t really sure what to do so he giggles. She has purple eyes, like Mama does. Maybe she knows where Mama is. For now he’s content to just play in the bubbles and watch her from a few feet away, getting closer to her without realising. Her Mama is watching the exchange and smiling for some reason. Lewis doesn’t mind- for the first time in forever, he feels safe. He can see and feel the sunlight and the grass and he can smell the grass, the fresh air, Uncle James and Uncle Jojo and the synthetic aroma of the bubbles; especially when the bubbles pop- the sound pleases him and the smell smells really clean. He likes it.
~

James hasn’t really seen this side of Lewis before. Usually, Lewis keeps away from the other kids- other people in general, really- and yet here he is, dancing around a girl who is blowing bubbles and also dancing.

“For a detective, you sure look surprised.” Sean chuckles, not taking his eyes off of the children. “Look- he even has your dance moves down to a T!” This earns Sean a playful punch to the arm as they keep watching the strange childish interaction until the mother of the girl comes over, beaming.

“I take it you’re the proud parents?” She smiles and for a moment James could swear it’s Kingstone- purple eyes. Brown, stylish hair. But no. Eyes are a couple shades too dark. Hair slightly too long and with the unkempt nature that seems to catch up to every mother- apart from Kingstone. Kingstone is gone.

“Yes indeed!” Sean puts his hand out after James doesn’t immediately respond. “Sean and James Rikes, pleased to meet you.”

“Paula Guitierrez, likewise.” They shake hands before glancing back at the still-playing children. “Lilly doesn’t usually make friends so easily.” James stiffens and pales slightly at the name.

“Oh, what a lovely girl! Lewis is pretty new to this too. Right, James?” Sean prompts and James shakes himself out of his mind and back into the moment, letting a charming smile come over his face.

“He’s shy, is all. Doesn’t sleep too well for some reason.”

“A few playdates should sort that out. Lilly is always invincible until she’s had a friend over. Then it’s like feeding tranqiulisers to a teddy bear.”

 

James isn’t quite sure how anything happens, but all of a sudden they have a playdate scheduled at the park for two weeks from now. They don’t even know if they’ll win the case yet, he thinks, as the new number is saved into his phone.

~

Lewis is actually asleep when they sit him back down in the uncomfortable courtroom chair, and James steels himself for the verdict. Guilty or not guilty, he will never see the kid again. No way in hell is James going to see Lewis hurt again.

The votes of the jury have been counted by now, anyway. Jamess future- Lewis’s future- is already written out on the paper that is being handed to the judge right now. James just doesn’t know it yet. If he’s right, he’ll know it in 3…

2…

1..

“-Guilty.” Says the judge.

Oh.
~

 

James thinks it’s worth a thousand lousy days at the office and a year of sleepless nights, just to see the haughty look knocked off it’s usual pedestal on Ruperts face as he crashes and burns and is led out of the courtroom, still shocked and gaping at everything like a fish as the photographers go off at him. James will never feel sorry for him.

Lewis stays asleep for the whole ride home and they decide not to wake him as they tuck him into bed- it’s late enough anyway.

There is a tradition between James and Sean that is usually carried out after every successful case. However, there is a child in the house and besides- they’re all out of whipped cream.

Well, even the ‘normal’ post-case-solved-case-won sex is absolutely earth-shattering for the both of them and they have the sense to put their clothes back on for once before falling asleep, Sean curled impossibly close with his back to James, and Jamess head falling into the crook of Seans neck, inhaling his musky, familiar scent and allowing it to lull him into the first truely good nights sleep he has had since before the funeral.

~

 

It’s a sunny day and the adoption papers are finalised. Lewis’s favourite ice cream flavour is chocolate, so that’s what he gets as a celebration. Sean is still the ever-doting uncle, but it reminds James so much of Lilly- of Susan- that he wonders what’s going to happen this time. Finding schools and arranging playdates and his job keeps his thoughts occupied, but the thought lingers in his mind that there is a chance that Rupert will be released on parole- and what will happen then?

Yet, when he feels it all overwhelming him again and his flask is starting to look like a long-lost friend, Lewis finds him and holds him in a way that only a child can do- a way that is instantly calming and that seems to find a way into the heart of anyone who is even watching it all unfold, never mind experiencing it. It also never fails to make Sean find a camera somewhere in the permanently-messy apartment. Not that anybody minds.

Rupert is never getting out, James tells himself one night as he’s tucking Lewis in.

 

Never.

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