Title: Weak Point
Pairing/characters: Robbie Lewis, James Hathaway, Jean Innocent
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV owns them.
Word count: approx 1195
Summary: Barnes was a clever bastard. Robbie knew he shouldn’t have let James do the interview alone.
AN: Not betad because I ran out of time before the round 6 deadline. Written for hc_bingo filling the ‘interrogation’ square on my hurt/comfort bingo card.
fic on AO3
He looked up at Innocent, and she took that as permission to come into the office. She did not look happy. If Robbie didn’t know better, he might describe her expression as ‘worried’.
“I think you need to take James home.”
Even considering the amount of painkillers he was on, Robbie came to full attention at that statement. He glanced down at his arm, still supported by a sling, and sighed. He had been rather hoping it might be the other way around.
“Why? What’s wrong?”
“I just had to pull him out of the interview room. He almost... for a moment there, I thought he was going to attack Barnes.”
Robbie stood up and grabbed his jacket, and after a moment’s thought opted to carry it rather than waste time trying to get it on one-handed.
“I should have called a halt to it sooner. Barnes was deliberately trying to provoke him, but I thought Hathaway could handle it. I’ve seen him deal with a lot worse than that before. The next thing I knew he was yelling at Barnes across the table.” Innocent did not look happy about that, Robbie noted.
“Why? What did Barnes say that got him so riled?”
“That’s what I intend to listen to the recording to find out. In the meantime, you take him home. And Robbie? I need to know whether he’s fit to stay on the case tomorrow.”
The warning in her voice was clear enough. Robbie opened his mouth to defend his sergeant, but then thought better of it. Not until he knew what the hell had actually happened.
He found James outside, smoking. His expression suggested he wanted to kill someone. He glanced at Robbie but then turned his attention back to the building across the street.
So he was in one of those moods.
“Come on, let’s get you home,” Robbie said in his best no-nonsense voice.
“I hope you’re not suggesting you’re going to drive with that arm,” James said. If he was aiming for light-hearted he was some way off the mark.
“I’ll get uniform to give us a lift. Someone’s bound to be heading our way.”
“Our way?” He raised a questioning eyebrow.
“I’ve got beer in the fridge and the Chinese takeaway round the corner. And I’m not taking no for an answer.” He paused and then added what he knew would be the winning argument. “Besides, I need an extra pair of hands to get the cartons opened.”
A half smile appeared on James’ face, the one said he knew exactly what Robbie was up to. Then he nodded and got rid of the cigarette.
That had been easier than Robbie had been expecting. He couldn’t help wondering if the hard part was still to come.
Half an hour later they both collapsed onto Robbie’s sofa with a bottle of beer in hand and Chinese food spread out across the coffee table in front of them.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
That was the first thing James had said that didn’t relate to the food since they had been dropped off.
“I don’t know yet what it is you’ve got to be sorry about.”
James took a swig of beer and kept his gaze fixed on the sweet and sour chicken.
“I lost my temper. It was unprofessional. I shouldn’t have done it. Especially not in front of Innocent.”
“I got that much from Innocent. What I want to know is why.”
James didn’t reply for a moment. Eventually he turned to Robbie and looked at him properly.
“He said he did if for God. He said he was fighting back for Christian values.”
Oh, bloody hell. Robbie was about to say something, but before he could James started speaking again.
“That got me angry, but that wasn’t what did it. Somehow he guessed. About me. He started using that, twisting words.” He made a frustrated sound. “I knew what he was doing. I shouldn’t have let him get under my skin like that.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” Robbie said. “But Barnes is a clever bastard, we knew that before we arrested him. I shouldn’t have let you do the interview on your own.”
James shook his head. “Your arm-”
“Having a few stitches in my arm doesn’t stop me asking bloody questions. And with the obvious race-hate aspect to this case it was too important. I should have been there with you.”
“I shouldn’t have let you down.”
Damn it, Robbie knew he was going to have to head this off before James hit full on self-flagellating mode.
“Did you hit him? Did you actually touch him?”
“Right, then chances are you haven’t compromised the case against him. We still have a half dozen witnesses, and what’s more, from what you just said he’s as good as confessed if he’s claiming God told him to do it.”
“From the look on Innocent’s face I don’t think she sees it that way.”
“She’s just twitchy because the moment you mention religious hate crime the press are going to be on the doorstep and slapping it all over the front pages. And once that happens it’ll get the extremists on all sides exited, and then it’ll escalate.”
“You think I haven’t thought of all that?” James snapped.
“All that and more, probably. But right now the press don’t know the religious aspect to it. What we have is a psycho who tried to fire bomb a mosque. Now admittedly it’s not a massive leap of logic to get from that to race hate crime, but they don’t know for certain. So what we need to do is go back in there tomorrow and get the truth out of Barnes. Both of us, together.”
“Innocent isn’t going to let me near him after what happened today.”
Robbie weighed his words carefully before he replied.
“She wants to know whether she needs to take you off the case. So right now, I want you to look me in the eye and tell me whether you’re going to be okay to go back in there tomorrow and help me nail this bastard.”
Several expressions seemed to flit across James’ face; fear, relief, gratitude, determination.
Robbie wasn’t surprised when he slowly nodded.
“Yes. I want to do it.”
Robbie nodded and then took a mouthful of beer to hide his own relief.
“Good lad. Now get something to eat before it goes cold.”
A slightly incredulous smile appeared on James’ face at that comment, but he put the beer down long enough to serve up two plates of food.
Robbie watched as James finally seemed to let go of the tension that had been evident ever since he had found him outside the station. As the food disappeared, Robbie felt himself beginning to relax as well.
He was under no illusions this was going to be a difficult one. Barnes was intelligent, maybe not James level intelligent, but not far off. And more the point he knew how to manipulate people, as had become obvious today.
But tomorrow Barnes would be facing both of them, together.
The bastard wouldn’t know what hit him.