Sorry for the delay! That last chapter gave me all the feels. Sigh. Anyway, happy reading everyone!
Chapter 11: Future Perfect
"Looks like SOMEONE's been getting some action lately," Mansell noted from his desk as a noticeably more affable Kent went about his business filing documents at the far end of the office. "You'd think he cornered the market on happiness by the way he's been going about lately."
"Don't be such an ass," Riley chastised. "He deserves it. You're just being salty because we lost the bet."
"Hey, twenty pounds is twenty pounds. Wouldn't you just know it that DI Miles won?"
"You don't fool me, Finlay Mansell. Admit it, you're happy for Kent as well."
"Yeah, I guess so. I just wish he wouldn't flaunt it as if he's the only one who's ever been in love. It's making me sick."
"If I finally got the man of my dreams after years of heartache, I'd be doing cartwheels and backflips."
"I never thought it would never happen with those two, especially after Chandler left. And especially not with someone as high maintenance like he is."
"It just goes to show you that anything can happen. Who would have thought that Kent of all people, would catch the most eligible bachelor around."
"Looks like our eager little puppy is all grown up now."
"You sound like an old man," Riley replied playfully throwing a scrunched up paper ball at him.
Kent was oblivious to Riley and Mansell's conversation as he continued filing away. He suddenly jumped at the sudden incoming text message on his phone and smiled when he noticed that it was from Chandler. When he stopped to think at how much both their lives had changed, he couldn't help but shake his head in amazement. He would sometimes find himself blushing when recalling their first time together. It was beyond anything Kent ever dreamed it would be. What was surprising was just how skilled Chandler had become since then. All that research certainly paid off. But it wasn't just the physical side of their relationship that was responsible for Kent's happy demeanor. It was the fact that he and Chandler were getting emotionally closer with each passing day. And although Chandler still had his foibles and obsessive ways, there was a definite change in him for the better.
"Can you meet me after work tonight at the St. George Wharf Pier? I'll be waiting for you on the last dock."
"Of course I can meet you. Is everything all right?"
"I'll tell you all about it when you get there."
Kent felt immediate apprehension. Chandler sounded so secretive. Was he having second thoughts about their relationship? Did he want to call it quits already?
Kent immediately slapped his head in self-admonishment. "Don't be so daft, Em," he replied to himself before walking back to his desk.
"Hey," Kent greeted Chandler when he reached the pier later that night.
"Hey," Chandler greeted him back. "I guess you're wondering what all the secrecy is about and why I asked you to meet me here."
"The thought never crossed my mind."
Chandler raised an eyebrow in doubt. "Oh really?"
"Okay, you got me. I've been dying to know."
"You wouldn't be far from the truth," Chandler replied as he turned to gaze out over the Thames as the shimmering water reflected the city night lights. It took him a moment to gather his thoughts. "This is the pier where my father drowned many years ago. Today marks the 30th anniversary of his death. Every year I come here to think and remember. This year, I wanted to share it with you by my side."
Kent slipped his hand into Chandler's hand and squeezed it tightly. He was glad that Chandler wanted to share one of the most personal and painful moments in his life with him. It couldn't have been easy for Chandler. "I'm glad you told me."
"You're a part of my life now, Emerson. I want you to know everything. It happened so long ago, but even after all these years, the pain still hasn't gone away. It's the worst feeling in the world when you get that phone call in the middle of the night telling you that a loved one is gone. I don't think I'll ever forget the disbelief, anger, and helplessness I felt as I watched my mother fall to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably."
"How absolutely horrible for you."
"I still sometimes can't believe that my father is gone even after all these years. He was my role model and my mentor. Everything I am today is because of his influence."
"I wish I could have met him. What was he like?" Kent asked softly.
"Ambitious, driven, and always striving to be the best. He could be strict at times, but he was never harsh. He also wasn't the affectionate type, but I knew that he loved me. He was always telling me how proud he was and loved to brag to his friends and team mates about my achievements. When I was a child, he would sometimes bring me into the office with him. He was on his way to becoming one of the most prominent officers to join the Metropolitan Police until one day, everything changed." Chandler paused as the emotions of that fateful day overwhelmed him momentarily. "I'm sure you realize by now that I have many issues and that I can be irrationally obsessive at times. But I wasn't always this way. I began to change after my father died on the job when I was thirteen. It was a terrible day that I'll never ever forget. He drowned in an accident after chasing down a suspect during a failed robbery attempt. They fell off this pier into the water after a tense struggle. The suspect couldn't swim and panicked when my father tried to rescue him. By the time the EMT's arrived, it was too late to resuscitate them. Ironically, my father died trying to save the man who was trying to kill him."
Chandler then turned to look at Kent. "I never cried once or showed any emotion during the funeral or in public. Keeping control of my emotions was the only way I could remain strong. I had to be strong for my mother's sake as well as my own. It was when I was alone in my room that I would often cry myself to sleep those first few days after my father's death. Ever since then, I've been a control freak. Most of the time I can control my obsessive compulsive disorder. But when I'm under stress, it can make my life a living hell. It's like I'm constantly fighting a war within myself all the time."
"My poor Joe. It's no wonder you've always kept your feelings close to the vest," Kent replied with heartfelt emotion. He couldn't imagine the pain and struggles that Chandler kept to himself all these years. It just made Kent love him more than he already did.
"It was hard on me, but it was even harder on my mother. She was so distraught with my father's sudden death that she began to withdraw from reality. She was obsessed with trying to get in touch with his spirit and no matter how much I pleaded with her, it was useless. My mother would constantly be in contact with psychics from far and wide that made empty promises and got her hopes up. Most of them were con-artists that were only after her money. It got so bad that she didn't care about her health and well-being, so I had to take over the cooking, cleaning, and other household chores in place of my parents. I not only had to look after myself, but my mother as well. It went on for years until I began going to university. By then she was a shell of her former self. I had no choice but to place her in a facility that could look after her and take care of her needs full time when I couldn't do it any longer. It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make."
"I can imagine how difficult it must have been for you."
"You probably felt guilty for having to put her in a home and then leaving for school on top of that, while she was still in that condition. That would take its toll on anyone."
Chandler squeezed Kent's hand even tighter. "It wasn't just that. She was only in her late thirties. I felt like I was abandoning her altogether when she needed me the most."
"It wouldn't have done any good under the circumstances. After taking over the household and caring for you and your mother for so many years, you did what was necessary."
"You may be just a little bit biased."
"Think about it. You would have had to put your life on hold when you had no assurance that your mother would regain her senses again. Perhaps resentment would have set in. Maybe you would have put off going to university or not go at all. You can't be so hard on yourself, Joe. Sometimes, even family members need a break and you were looking after her day and night for so long. The hardest thing for anyone to do is admit that they need help. You deserved to live your life as well. And you didn't abandon her. You took care of her for many years and then placed her in a facility that could take care of her needs full time when you couldn't do it anymore." Kent then reached up to cradle Chandler's face in his hands. "Nobody's perfect. Not even you. Don't you think it's time to let go of the guilt?"
Chandler turned his head slightly to kiss Kent's inner palm reverently. Kent had such a calming influence on him. It was like he knew exactly what to say to make him feel better.
"Have I told you lately how lucky I am to be with you?"
"I'll start a tab. Come on. Your cheeks are frozen and my whole body is chilled to the bone. Let's go back to your place and get warmed up."
"Didn't we just make love two days ago?"
"I had reference to a heater and some brandy," Kent replied dryly, taking pleasure in seeing the look of embarrassment on his lover's face. His lover. That sounded so nice. Kent never used to believe in miracles, but standing right there in front of him was living proof that they existed.
"Right. I knew that," Chandler replied quickly before whisking Kent away.
"Hello? Earth to Kent?" a familiar voice spoke in front of the detective constable who had been staring out into space.
"Sorry Skip," Kent replied automatically when Miles waved his hand in front of him. He had been caught daydreaming again for the second time that day, but with good reason. Chandler had recently been inundated with work and it was going to be his first free evening in two weeks. To make up for his absence, they were going to have a nice dinner and perhaps some 'dessert' afterward. It was their codeword between them for when they wanted to be intimate with each other. But Chandler wasn't quite ready for any pet names yet. Oh well, one step at time.
"You've been out of it all day, Kent. Anything wrong?"
"Not at all. I was just thinking."
"Oh, I know what it is. Are you having trouble with Chandler in the bedroom department?"
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with Joe!" Kent denied vehemently in embarrassment. "And please keep your voice down. Does the whole world have to know my business?"
Miles laughed when he saw Kent turn red. "I hate to break this to you, but we've all known for a while now that you two were seeing each other."
"You're kidding, right?" Kent asked in disbelief and mortification.
"Not in the least. We even took bets on how soon you two would get together a while ago. I won of course."
"Of course. I'm so happy that you could make a profit at my expense, sir," Kent replied sarcastically. "For your information, Joe and I are perfectly fine."
"Glad to hear it. If there was anyone who could put up with that stubborn mule, it was you."
"Well, I guess I do owe you a bit of thanks. I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn't for your pep talk."
"I'm just glad that everything worked out for you two. Say hi to the old man for me," Miles called out as he returned to his office. "And tell him they have the little blue pills available if he needs help with his bedroom problem."
Kent was about to retort angrily, but was deflected by Chandler's incoming text message.
"Just making sure if we're still on for tonight."
"Definitely. I've been looking forward to it all day," Kent texted back. "Is 'dessert' included as well?"
"That depends. After all, I'm not sure if you can keep up with me."
Kent felt his entire body react in response to the less than subtle message. Chandler had proven to be a more than capable lover. Kent had the hickeys to prove it.
"Cheeky monkey. Just for that, no 'dessert' for you."
"We'll see about that. See you tonight."
Kent couldn't stop smiling the rest of the afternoon. He didn't think it was possible to be this happy. But after everything he and Chandler and been through, he figured he deserved it.
"Joe, aren't we going an awfully long way just for dinner?" Kent commented as they had ventured out of the city limits, past the suburbs, and into the countryside.
"We're almost there."
They had driven a few more miles before entering a gated facility surrounded by lush green hills with several three story buildings in the center of the compound.
"This doesn't look like a restaurant," Kent commented doubtfully as they get out of the car.
"It isn't," Chandler responded softly. "This is where my mother lives. You wanted to meet her, didn't you?"
Kent was stunned. He knew how difficult this was for Chandler, since it brought up old wounds.
"Joe, you don't have to prove anything. You told me about your father already. There's no need to go any further if you're not ready yet."
"I know. But I want to do this. I don't want there to be any more secrets between us. And besides, it's about time you met my family."
They entered the lobby where Chandler spoke briefly with the receptionist before walking down the hallway past a sitting area with tall windows that afforded a wonderful view of the backyard which included lush, green rolling hills and a beautiful garden. They eventually left the main building and went into the garden area. A lone woman with white hair pinned up in an elegant chignon bun, was sitting in one of the garden chairs wrapped in a shawl and looking out over the horizon, watching the sun set over a glistening lake as the evening birds chirped happily. The first thing that Kent noticed was how frail she seemed sitting by herself. The loss of her husband must have devastated her. Kent gulped nervously, but was immediately comforted by Chandler's hand on his shoulder, giving him a gentle squeeze of encouragement. Chandler then went ahead and bent down to a crouching position next to her.
"Hello, Mother. It's me, Joe."
The elderly woman turned her head towards Chandler and looked at him as if she was looking at a stranger.
"Joe? That's funny. I have a son named Joe too. You look just like him. But you can't be my son. He lives far away."
"Mother, it's me. I came to visit you," Chandler repeated patiently. He took her hands and placed them on his face. "I'm your son, Joseph."
Emily focused her blue eyes on Chandler and blinked several times before leaning forward to kiss his cheek. "Joe! How nice of you to visit me. Are you on break from university?"
"No, mother. I'm working now, remember?"
"Oh yes, that's right. I keep forgetting that you're all grown up now."
"That's all right. How are you?"
"Oh, you know. Some good days and some bad days. Your visit makes this a good day. So, what brings you all the way out here?"
"There's someone that I'd like you to meet."
Chandler got up and brought Kent over. "Mother, this is a very good friend of mine. His name is Emerson Kent. I used to work with him."
"Hello, Mrs. Chandler. I'm very happy to meet you," Kent replied extending his hand out to her.
Emily stared at the hand but did not shake it. Kent gave a worried look to Chandler, but he gave him an encouraging nod to continue.
"Do you believe in spirits, Mr. Kent?" she asked directly.
"Only in moderation and never taken while driving," he replied jokingly. The elderly woman's expression did not change. This was not starting out very well. "Oh, you meant as in ghosts. Actually, I do believe in spirits."
"Really?" Emily replied, suddenly changing her mood. It went from cautious to hopeful.
"Really. My auntie is a psychic so she knows all about it. Unfortunately, she's not very good at what she does."
"Oh. That's too bad. I've been trying for many years to contact my dead husband. He was taken away from us when Joe was younger."
"I'm so sorry for your loss. I can tell you loved him very much."
"Very much. There are days where I swear that I can actually hear his voice. I've been searching for a way to get in touch with him all these years. I wanted to tell him that I'm sorry."
"Is that the reason why you've been trying to contact him? Because you feel guilty for being alive and he isn't?"
Emily looked at Kent with wide eyes, as did Chandler himself. "How did you know that?"
"I can't really explain it. I guess you could call it a hunch. It's a very human response when we lose our loved ones to experience regret and perhaps guilt. As officers of the law we face dangers every time we go out and do our jobs. But we willing do it because we want to serve and protect the public and especially our loved ones. I can't imagine the pain you've had to suffer because your husband taken away before his time. And no, it wasn't fair. But he understood the risks every time he put on his badge and because of that, he died trying to save another human being. You have no reason to feel guilty because your husband was a good and decent man. And I'm sure that he knew how much you loved him."
"I just wished I could have seen him one last time and tell him face to face that I loved him."
Kent reached over to clasp her hands in his. "I know. But no one can take away the memories you shared together and he'll always be with you in spirit. Take comfort in the fact that you still have your son who needs you and loves you very much. As long as Joe is here, your husband is as well. You still have a lot of life ahead of you Mrs. Chandler. Live it to the fullest and in loving tribute to your husband's memory. I truly believe that's what he would have wanted."
"What you're saying makes a lot of sense. You seem very wise for such a young man," Emily replied smiling gently. It had been a long time since Chandler saw a sense of peace come over her.
"That's because he is," Chandler replied as his heart swelled with love and pride.
"Can you both stay for dinner? I'm sure they wouldn't mind two more people at the table."
"We'd love to. Right, Joe?" Kent replied immediately before he could answer.
Chandler smiled as he nodded in agreement. It wasn't in his plans to stay very long, but the eagerness in Kent's voice made him change his mind. He had this wonderful gift of putting people at ease. In the past, it had been the other way around where Chandler eased Kent's uneasiness during certain cases. It just strengthened the fact that they really did belong together.
"It was so nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Chandler," Kent said before they were about to leave.
"Please, call me Emily. Mrs. Chandler makes me sound like an old lady. And I have too much life left in me for that."
Both Kent and Chandler both smiled broadly. Kent could see that some traces of Chandler's stubborn streak was inherited from his mother.
"Glad to see you're feeling better. Take care, mother," Chandler said before kissing Emily's cheek. "I'll come back to visit you again soon."
"Will you bring Emerson back with you the next time you visit?"
"That, I can promise you. Goodbye."
"Goodbye, son. Emerson, would you please wait a moment?"
Kent looked at Chandler and nodded to let him know it was okay to go ahead to the car. He then bent low as Emily leaned over to whisper something in his ear. His face registered shock as he nodded in agreement before making his swift departure, while she waved goodbye.
"What was that all about?" Chandler asked curiously when Kent came back to the car.
"Are you sure you want to know?"
"Tell me," Chandler insisted.
"Your mother asked me to look after you and..."
"And she said that we make a lovely couple. I guess that means we have her blessing."
Chandler's mouth gaped open in shock before throwing back his head in laughter. "I didn't know my mother was so intuitive; the little scamp."
He then lifted his hand to trace the curve of Kent's cheek with his fingers. "You were so good with her. You knew exactly what to say and she actually listened. I was never able to get through to her the way you did."
"I just said what came naturally. It was what she needed to hear."
"Perhaps you inherited your aunt's psychic abilities after all. By the way, I'm sorry I wasn't completely upfront with you about tonight. I know that you were expecting something a little more glamorous for dinner."
"That's okay. I'm really glad I got a chance to meet your mother. I hope that she's able to rest a little easier now."
Chandler stared at Kent fondly. "It's no wonder that I love you so much."
Kent suddenly teared up and looked away. He hated crying in front of other people, but this time he couldn't help it. It was a necessary catharsis after so many years of heartache.
"Emerson? What is it?" Chandler replied worriedly.
"It's just...that's the first time you said that you loved me. I kept telling myself that I didn't need to hear you say it, but I guess I really wanted it deep down. I never thought I would hear those words from you."
Chandler folded him into his arms and rested his chin on top of Kent's head as the younger man buried his face against him, savoring the moment as he was held by his friend, lover, and soul mate. After a while, he tilted Kent's face up and wiped away the last traces of his tears before bending down to kiss him tenderly.
"Sorry for making you wait so long. I love you, Emerson."
Kent broke into a knowing smile. "How fortunate that I happen to love you as well. You know, it's still early. Got any room for 'dessert'?" he asked suggestively while running his hands slowly and teasingly along Chandler's hard chest, making the older man's heart race with anticipation.
Chandler responded by starting the car and flooring the gas pedal as they rushed back to his flat.
Later that same night...
"Emerson? Are you awake?" Chandler asked softly as he tickled Kent's shoulder to wake him up.
"Hmm?" Kent murmured tiredly as he rubbed his cheek against Chandler's bare chest. "Is it morning already?"
"Not yet. Can we talk?"
Kent slowly got up to a sitting position and settled back against the pillows when he heard the serious tone in his voice. "I'm listening."
"I wanted your opinion. I'm considering leaving Scotland Yard and taking the Detective Chief Inspector position that recently became vacant in your sector. I would be in charge of all the detectives and their staff in that area, including Whitechapel. It's not exactly the same as working with the team every day, but at least I would get to meet with everyone from time to time."
Kent's eyes reflected complete surprise as he sat up straighter. "What brought this on? I thought that being Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard was what you wanted for your career."
"That's what I thought as well, but I've been thinking a lot lately about all the things that have been happening. I realized that I made some decisions in the heat of the moment and taking the job at Scotland Yard was one of them. I thought it was what I wanted, but the more that I think about it, the more certain I am that it's not a good fit for me right now at this point in my life."
"Why not come back to us again?"
"You all don't need me anymore. And I wasn't going to remain there forever. Besides, I couldn't take away Miles' promotion now."
"I guess you're right," Kent replied reluctantly. It would have been nice to have the team back again, but Chandler was right. They all needed to grow and learn to stand on their own without him. "Are you sure you want to do this? Commander Anderson thought highly of you to promote you in the first place. You would in essence be taking a demotion by going back to the Criminal Investigation Division."
"That part doesn't bother me. It's just a title. What worries me more is doing something that doesn't make me happy. Being away from you and the rest of the group back in Whitechapel made me realize that I miss being a criminal detective. I miss solving cases and mysteries that are deemed impossible. I miss all the challenges and having to use all my mental faculties. I liked the flexibility of being able to use unorthodox methods at my disposal as well. When people tell me something can't be done, my first reaction is to prove them wrong. All I do now is paperwork, budget planning, and making calls. I'm in meetings most days and rarely get to see anything other than the four walls of my office. I'm practically chained to my desk. It's pretty boring to be honest."
Kent chuckled in response. "Do you realize what you're saying? You actually miss the chaos and disorder. That's an oxymoron if ever I heard one, considering that it's coming from you."
"I never thought I would say this, but yes, I do miss it. The only reason I accepted my current job in the first place was because I was running away from my feelings for you."
"You might be pissing off some people after the strings you pulled in helping to get the promotion for DI Miles. They might not want to consider you for another promotion in the future if you go through with this. They may even blacklist you from Scotland Yard as well. Some people can be vindictive, especially when egos are involved. And especially when they're high up in the chain of command."
"It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. The worse they can do is shoot me."
"Don't even joke about that, Joe. Don't you remember that DCI Cazenove was one of the bad ones and he tried to kill you?"
Chandler leaned over and kissed Kent's forehead. "I'm sorry. I just meant that there's nothing they can do to me that would make me leave the department. After all, I used my persuasion with them to allow Miles to become Detective Inspector, which he rightly deserves. I don't think they'll be in a hurry to get back at me, if they know what's good for them. The good thing about this move is that I'll be able to work with you again which is a definite plus. And my office would be just a stone's throw away."
"Not that I mind, of course, but wouldn't that be a conflict of interests? As I recall, you had quite strong opinions about the appearance of favoritism."
"What we do before and after work hours is our own business. As long as we don't let it interfere with our work, I have no problem with it and neither does Commander Anderson for that matter. It's less of an issue now anyway, since you're no longer under my direct command. Don't you think it's possible for that kind of arrangement?"
Kent thought of Casey and DS Lawson's relationship and replied confidently, "Actually, I do think it's possible."
"Even it was an issue, I wouldn't let it stop me from being with you. You're more important than any job."
Kent smiled fondly at Chandler. "You've come a long way, Joe. All you used to think about was being a fast tracker and making a name for yourself. You were so resistant to changing your ways. Now you've realized what makes you happy and you're doing whatever it takes to make it happen in spite of the risks. And you've also learned to move on in spite of your past. That takes a lot of courage and conviction. I couldn't be any prouder of you than I am at this moment."
He gave a small squeal of surprise as Chandler slipped his arms around him and shifted his weight so that Kent was lying on top of him, squirming in familiar delight.
"What do I get as a reward?" Chandler asked playfully.
Kent began to caress Chandler's chest with soft butterfly kisses, loving the little moans of pleasure that he made in response. He then moved upward until he reached Chandler's waiting lips, sharing a long, deep kiss with him.
"As a reward, you get ME," Kent replied after they separated, confident in Chandler's love for him.
Chandler smiled contentedly as he stared into Kent's beautiful eyes and saw a future filled with anticipation, hope, and most of all, love. Oh, he knew that there were going to be unforeseen challenges and the future wasn't going to be all wine and roses. But as long as Kent was by his side, he wouldn't have to face them by himself. That alone was worth it.
"I think I can live with that," Chandler replied softly as he leaned forward to nibble seductively on Kent's ear.
"Joe, stop it. You know how that drives me crazy," Kent protested, but didn't move away as he moaned in familiar delight.
"Mm hmm," Chandler replied as he continued his pleasurable assault on Kent's senses. His lips traced along the pulsing vein on Kent's throat, making the younger man's heart race.
"I'm serious. We both have early meetings in the morning and need to get some sleep. Didn't you get enough 'dessert' earlier?"
"But what about my reward?" Chandler asked giving Kent a hurt look on his face.
Kent gave up. He couldn't deny Chandler anything when he gave him that look and the older man knew it.
"Cheeky monkey," Kent replied before kissing him passionately.
They ended up getting very little sleep that night. And neither one of them cared.
Upload Date: 05August2016 PST
A/N: I'm sad that it has come to the end, because this has been a fun ride for me. I hoped you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.
It was very therapeutic for me as well since I was going through some tough times. Your support and encouragement helped me through more than you'll ever know. Thank you again for reading and I hope we meet again soon. Until then, take care. Kent/Chandler forever!