Greetings! Long time no see! I know it's past Christmas, but I wanted to post this bit of fluffiness to bring a little smile to your faces. Thank you for stopping by and reading. Cheers!
Background: The Grinch is the main character in a Dr. Seuss book and animated cartoon special from 1966 "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
Whitechapel does not belong to me. But I wouldn't mind owning Chandler and Kent :)
"No. No, I understand. These things happen. Maybe some other time. Goodbye."
"Don't tell me. Another one cancelled on you," Miles replied in sympathy as he saw Chandler's shoulders sag slightly in disappointment as he placed the phone back in its cradle. After finally gathering the courage to ask out a woman for the head office party, he got yet another rejection. He was feeling even more depressed because it was the holidays.
"That was the third one. I think they're all conspiring against me. I knew this wasn't going to work out."
"You could always spend the evening with Judy and me and the kids."
Chandler smiled gratefully. "Thanks for the offer, but I think I'll just stay home. I really didn't want to go to the party anyway."
"Are you sure? It's really no problem."
"I'm sure. Give my best to the family."
"You know, you really shouldn't be alone when you don't have to be. After all, it's Christmas time."
It wasn't that Chandler hated the holidays. But ever since his parents passed on, something had lost its appeal. Every carol, every cheery holiday greeting felt empty and became a reminder of his youth when times were happier and less complicated. When HE was less complicated.
"I'll be fine, Miles," Chandler reiterated more firmly. "Go on home."
Miles looked at him dubiously, but decidedly to let him be and slipped into his overcoat before leaving. Kent waited until Miles left before tentatively approaching Chandler's office.
"Um, sir?" he asked nervously.
"Kent? What are you still doing here? It's past clocking off time."
"I was just leaving when I saw the light in your office. I couldn't help overhearing your conversation with DS Miles. If you don't have any plans tomorrow evening, I'd like to invite you to join me for dinner. My parents couldn't make it so I have plenty of food. It would be nice to have some company."
Chandler's brows creased into a frown. "I'm not a charity case, Kent. I don't enjoy being looked down upon."
Kent was visibly startled at the DI's terse response. "That was never my intention, sir. I didn't mean…"
"I don't need to be coddled just because it's the holidays and I don't need any pity. Thank you for the invitation, but I'll be fine."
The younger man's eyes reflected pain at Chandler's brusque rejection. It had taken every ounce of courage to even ask him. Chandler didn't even consider his offer before rejecting him. So much for giving his best shot. Kent turned and reached for the door knob, but stopped and turned slightly to face Chandler again.
"I didn't ask you to come because I felt sorry for you, sir. I just didn't want to be alone on Christmas Eve."
Chandler felt like a first class heel after Kent left. Why did he have to take out his frustration on him? Even if Kent did it partially out of compassion, he didn't deserve to have his invitation to be thrown back in his face like a bucket of ice water. Chandler put his hands up to his face and sighed despondently as his guilt weighed as heavy as a ton of bricks.
"I really hate this time of year."
"Em, are you sure you don't want us to stay for a while? We don't have to leave right away."
Kent smiled gratefully at his flat mates' offer to keep him company.
"What? And miss the club bash? Don't be daft."
"But you'll be all on your own. Come and join us. I'm sure Kelly and Charles won't mind another person in the group."
"Thanks for the offer, but I just want to stay at home. Go on and enjoy yourselves and don't mind me."
Kent sighed softly before turning to set the food out for his solo dinner. The sudden ringing of the doorbell forced him to change his plans.
"I thought I told you to…" Kent stopped in mid-sentence and was shocked to find Chandler behind the door holding a plate of Christmas pudding in his hands.
"Am I too late to accept your invitation?" Chandler asked with a look of chagrin on his face.
Kent's face lit up like a Christmas tree. "Of course not. Please come in."
"After the way I treated you, I deserve to have this pudding thrown back in my face."
"My parents always told me never to waste food," Kent replied cheekily. His heart beat rapidly from the innocent brush of their fingers as he took the plate from Chandler. The DI also felt his heart twitter nervously as well from the sensation of his DC's touch.
"Um, I'll just go and set things up. Please help yourself to a drink."
Chandler took up Kent's offer readily. He could use a drink to steady his nerves. This was silly. Kent was his co-worker, a subordinate. He was too old to be reacting like love-struck teenager. But despite his protests, Chandler found himself taking surreptitious glances at his younger DC when he wasn't looking. He knew that Kent had that looked up to him for some time, but was it possible that he felt something more?
"Dinner's ready," Kent announced, suddenly breaking Chandler's train of thought.
"What? Oh, right," he replied quickly before following Kent into the kitchen.
"I hope everything is to your liking. I don't get to cook very often, but what I lack in talent, I make up for in portions."
"Kent, I don't believe this."
"What is it?" Kent replied worriedly.
"This is amazing! Why didn't you tell me you could cook so well?" Chandler asked, savoring each morsel.
"Well, you never asked."
"I didn't know what I was missing. You can always cook for me anytime."
Kent was glad that Chandler was so engrossed with his food that he missed the faint blush that tinged Kent's cheeks.
"I'm glad you came tonight, sir," he replied softly.
Chandler looked into Kent's big brown eyes. He really was quite an attractive man. "So am I."
"Thank you for the wonderful meal, Kent. It was outstanding."
"Thank you for the dessert. It was almost as good as my mother's."
"I'll take that as a compliment. And to think I almost missed all of this because I was being such a Grinch."
"You were never a Grinch, sir. Not to me."
Chandler suddenly leaned down and brushed his lips against Kent's cheek, startling the younger man.
"Sir?" Kent asked uncertainly.
Chandler smiled gently and pointed his gaze upward to the mistletoe hanging above. Kent's eyes sparkled with mischief. Encouraged by Chandler's actions, Kent reached up and brushed his lips against Chandler's mouth. He almost half-expected to be pushed back, but was pleasantly surprised when the older man placed his arms around Kent's back and brought him against his chest to prolong their kiss.
"That was nice," Chandler replied when they eventually separated for air.
"It was very nice," Kent agreed with a shy smile.
"Miles was right."
"That I shouldn't be alone when I don't have to be. Thank you Kent."
"I can think of a better way for you to show your gratitude, sir," Kent replied, leaning up towards the DI.
Chandler smiled and obliged Kent's request with much pleasure. This was the best Christmas he had in a very long time.