The rain it raineth Title: The rain it raineth Author: Tetsubinatu Characters: Hathaway, Lewis Rating: PG for bad language Wordcount: 11K Warnings: offscreen bullying, fostercare Summary: After the murder is solved, that is not always the end of the matter. Author's notes: Sorry I'm a smidge late. Thanks to Somniare for her assistance with canon.
Lewis was there first, waiting patiently outside the murderer's house.
Hathaway arrived with the warrant - and the uniforms. They came softly out of the dusk to assemble in front of their destination, just as two teenage boys came trudging down the road.
"Aw, Christ," Lewis said, resignedly.
Hathaway's glance followed his. "They can let us in," he proffered, but he knew his boss would rather have avoided dealing with the boys if possible. The elder boy -17, Hathaway remembered - walked ten paces ahead of the younger, his head already craning curiously at the mass of police assembled. The younger dawdled behind, his attention on his phone.
"I'll talk to them," James began, but he was too late. Lewis was already striding across to meet the elder boy, whose face was changing from curiosity to apprehension. The younger one caught them up as Lewis' words rumbled, his words too quiet for James hear before he had to turn to answer a question from one of the uniformed police. When he turned back to the odd trio, Lewis was holding a house key. A uniformed sergeant jogged over to take it from him.
James' eye was caught by the blank shock on the 17yo's face. Their mother was dead, and now their father, eccentric and odd as he might be, was about to be lost to them too. The younger one hissed angrily at his brother but Lewis gave them a quiet nod and gestured to one of the junior uniforms to take care of the boys until Social Services finally deigned to arrive. "Oy!" came the impatient call from the doorway, and James shook off of his preoccupation to concentrate on his job.
And sure enough, Professor Pearce had tried to wash his uniform, but the bloodstains were still there. As a bonus, they found drafts of some very incriminating letters in a bin. Enough to convict, for sure. The boys' shocked and angry faces lingered though, in Hathaway's mind. In his boss' mind too, it seemed.
"They'll find a relative," he murmered, apparently to himself - but Hathaway couldn't think of one. Both parents were only children, the mother from immigrant parents and the father without known living relatives since his uncle had died ten years previously. There might be someone in Poland he supposed.
* * *
It was pure coincidence when James spotted him in the park. He was pretty sure it was one of the Pearce boys underneath the puffy bruising and air of desperation. The matter was settled when the boy started at his appearance and hastily attempted to conceal his face.
"Things not going well?" he asked as he sat down on the bench next to him. The boy stared at his feet, unspeaking. James waited in the dappled shade. He'd been 17 once. What an awful fucking age it was, even when one's father hadn't been arrested for murder.
"Is there any chance he'll get off?" the boy asked. No, it was the younger one -14 maybe? He should be in school, really.
James glanced at him and shook his head. "No. Sorry, mate."
The boy's face went through a complicated series of grimaces. His breathing went ragged as he tried to control his reaction.
Fuck. Fucketyfuckfuckfuck. "Hot chocolate?" James tried.
The boy nodded, biting his lip hard. James gestured at the coffee shop across the road. It was where he'd been heading in the first place.
James ordered for them both. "Want something to eat?" he asked at the last moment.
"A pie?" the boy ventured.
James nodded at the waitress to confirm it and added a croissant for himself. "I don't remember your first name," he said.
"Hi Damien. I'm Detective Sergeant Hathaway."
"I remember," the boy said sullenly, his eyes on the window.
Damien had been placed with a family, but no-one was happy with the arrangement: the family already had 3 placements as well as their own two, but they were the only option that would let him stay at his own school. The older Pearce boy - Hugh - had been a step too far, though. He'd been placed in a group house some distance away.
"So who did that?" James asked, waving a hand in the general direction of his bruises.
The boy shrugged, his mouth setting in an unhappy slant. He didn't look at James. After a moment he added, "I went to visit Hugh."
Group houses could be pretty rough. James cast his mind back to the Pearce home as he remembered it: quiet, intellectual, a bit isolated. These boys would not fit in very easily.
"How is he?"
"How the hell d'you think he is?"
"I could look into it."
"Yeah, sure." The boy's disbelief was palpable, his hunched, gangling body eloquent in its defenceless refusal to hope. It was a fair call. James had no idea what, if anything, could be done.
* * *
Lewis was pragmatic: foster care was overcrowded, they would be doing the best they could.
It was true, but Damien's bruised face and sullen desperation refused to leave James alone. On an impulse, he dropped into the school as it was letting out. He missed the boys, but in a spot of luck he caught up with the Deputy Principal who'd been liaising with Social Services.
"I don't know if we can keep them," he said with a worried look. "They're both on partial scholarships and, well... their work is deteriorating. Damien's skipping school and Hugh is failing to hand in work. I mean, the school can make allowances for a short while, but there's a review in 6 weeks and I can't speak for the board if things go on this way."
James understood. Not everyone would be happy to have the sons of a murderer wasting valuable scholarship funds.
* * *
He was still worrying about it on Sunday when he went to mass. But as he came out of the nave, Lewis fell in beside him.
"I had an idea about the Pearce lads," he said, to James' surprise. "Don't know if it'll work out, but it's worth a try. Come on."
They stopped outside a house James recognised well. His jaw dropped. "Are you serious? You're just going to ask her... just like that?"
"Worst she can say is no, 'n the lads' ll be no worse off than they are now. The school's just around the corner and I reckon she won't hold their da against them."
"Well, no, but..." James mind boggled at the obstructions ahead.
"She might have to say she was a family friend, to get past Social Services, like. But I reckon she'd take good care of them. She's lonely; they're alone."
It made sense, put like that. If she said yes.
The door opened and Michelle Marber was looking them up and down. "This is a surprise, Inspector; Sergeant. What can I do for you?"
"It's Robbie, Michelle. Can we come in? We have a proposition you might be interested in."