Gently tiredly rubbed his eyes as he entered the familiar police station, mentally preparing himself for another day of work. John Bacchus would be there, after his welcomed return the day before. The boy would probably be embarrassed; confused that Gently had punished him. Gently was however perfectly convinced that John deserved it. To be honest there had been several times before when he had been itching to take the stubborn young man over his knee and beat some sense into him. He never did, though. For a while, when he thought John wasn't coming back, he had regretted it, thinking he had waited too long. He vowed that if John did return, he would face the consequences of his actions.
And when John did return he followed up on the promise to himself. John had accepted it more easily than Gently would have thought, and reacted more or less like the child he vehemently denied being. Gently had expected back talk, expected to have to beat some sense into him before he was ready to talk. Instead, John had answered his questions obligingly right from the very start. It made him wonder just how uncertain John was of their relationship. Perhaps he shouldn't have explained it quite the way he did. Perhaps he had made it seem as if he'd push the kid away after a single mistake. He wouldn't, if only because he liked him too much.
Today, he hoped their relationship would go back to normal. Well, without John pushing the boundaries too much. Gently wondered if that was what his father, and later the first chief inspector he worked for, had felt when he had started bending the rules. The strong urge to either pull him across his knee or embrace him to make sure he knew he was loved. Gently had never had children of his own, and it had come as something of a shock when Isabella announced that she couldn't have children. But it had never been a struggle; he had always known he would never leave her and somewhere along the road children drifted out of their minds. Until the day the cocky young sergeant Bacchus had spent hours shuddering and crying after the shock of having a man shot not two inches away from him. He had traded himself, told the Irish terrorist they were pursuing to let the woman he had go and take him instead. At that very first moment, when he heard John's word, he was ready to shoot him himself. You were not supposed to trade yourself. It was in the textbook.
Then he realised just what the boy intended, and he had taken the shot. John had dove and it had hit the IRA-man square in the head. John had maintained his composure, looking as if the occurrence hadn't touched him at all. Gently had thrown him a glance, knowing full well that the boy would be affected, and then went on to organising things. Half an hour later, the things needing immediate attention were managed and Gently turned to find his sergeant. He wasn't there. Worriedly Gently turned to the nearest policeman and demanded to know where John Bacchus was, his tone not all too gentle. He was rewarded by a confused shrug and a nod in the direction of another man. This continued for a while, until some enlightened soul remembered having seen the young man entering his car. As the car was still at the scene, Gently assumed that John was as well.
He approached the car and knocked softly on the window. John looked up from his careful study of his hands folded in his lap. He was unnaturally pale and his eyes seemed unfocused and dazed. Gently sighed. The shock had set in, it seemed. He opened the door and led the confused young man to his own car, where he placed him in his seat and then drove off, back to the station. He then spent the next few hours consoling the devastated sergeant who alternately sat staring out into space, broke down in sobs or shuddered desperately.
After that all thoughts of John being just another subordinate disappeared. The months went by and the kid nestled himself deeper and deeper into Gently's heart. And now there was no denying he was the son Gently never had.
The morning light was bright and Gently squinted as he left the car. He hurried to the station door and entered, greeting Taylor cheerfully. The station was otherwise rather empty, not that it was ever actually crowded, due to the early time. Quickly reaching the door to his and John's office he entered, starting to take off his coat before he was fully through the door. He made to hang the coat on the hanger as he caught sight of his sergeant lying curled up behind his desk, fast asleep. He raised his eyebrows in surprise, tilting his head in a silent question.
"John?" he said softly. The young man stirred but didn't wake up. Gently tried again, this time a bit more forceful. John made a small sound but still didn't wake. With a sigh Gently went over to him and shook his shoulder slightly. John opened his eyes and for a moment he looked completely dazed. Then his eyes settled on Gently and his face turned into a confused frown.
"Gov?" he asked. Gently had to smile again. He looked insanely young; hair all tussled from sleep and a questioning expression on his face.
"Good morning", he greeted mildly. "Fancy a cup of tea?"
John nodded distractedly, pulling a hand through his disorderly hair and obviously still not quite awake, and Gently got up to fetch the tea. He returned a minute or two later to find John sitting on his chair, still looking sleepy, and handed him a cup. John thanked him with a smile.
"Well", Gently began when he too had sat down, "care to tell me why you're sleeping here and not in your bed?"¨
"Not really..." John muttered but shrugged and continued anyways when Gently raised his eyebrows. "To be honest, gov, I sort of... well, I 'ave nowhere else to go, have I?"
Gently looked genuinely surprised. He was genuinely surprised.
"You have a home, John", he said, sounding as if he was explaining something to a five year old.
"Yeah, well... I had a... a row with my wife before I left for London and well... we sort of agreed that I, eh... wouldn't be coming back."
Gently stared at him.
"You have no place to live?" he clarified. John nodded, looking embarrassed. "You didn't consider the fact that you might be coming back? What's more; where were you planning to live in London?
"Eh... in an apartment?" John ventured. Gently gave him a sceptical look.
"And with what money were you going to pay for that?"
"My own", John retorted, "Look; the salary for a cop in the Met is higher than my salary here. I'd been able to afford it."
"No, you wouldn't", Gently snapped at him, "Multiple rents on a policeman's salary is impossible. Besides, you have a wife and child to support."
"You can live cheap in London. It'd work!" John replied, raising his voice.
"It would not, and you know it! And, as we've already established, cops with money troubles are cops in danger of corruption."
"It wasn't a bribe!" John yelled, "You know that. And I'm not a child, I can manage my own life!"
"Obviously, you can't", Gently remarked, fighting to be calm. He didn't like quarrelling with John, but sometimes the boy was just unbelievably insensible. "You have nowhere to live."
"I'll manage something, okay? I'll sell my car, or something. I can bloody handle it!"
"No, you cannot", Gently snapped back. "Because I won't let you. We both know what happened last time you ran around short of funds."
"Then what am I supposed to bloody do?" John asked harshly. "Continue sleeping here?"
"You'll live with me", Gently replied. He hadn't really considered it before he said it. The idea just appeared out of nowhere. But when he did consider it he realised that he didn't mind much. The lad was annoying, no one could contest that, but Gently was very fond of him. Besides, he had started to grow lonely living without anyone else.
"No way!" John exclaimed, "Are you insane?"
Gently raised his eyebrows. He was somewhat surprised that John seemed to be completely comfortable with mouthing off to him so soon after yesterday's happenings.
"Not as far as I know", he retorted drily, "Care to explain what brought on the question?"
"Well, you're my boss aren't you!" John snapped. "I can't bloody live with you!"
"But you can accept discipline?" Gently inquired. He was more amused than anything now.
"That's different, gov", the younger man replied, now whining.
John rolled his eyes and sighed, as if complaining about Gently's complete lack of comprehension.
"It just is", he said with an expression dangerously close to a pout.
"It just is?" Gently repeated questioningly. "Your argumentative skills overwhelm me."
Now John really was pouting. Gently was sometimes surprised by how young the lad actually was. Or maybe it was he who was older than he had realised. He adopted a stern expression and levelled a hard glare on the younger man in front of him.
"The matter's not open to discussion, John", he said, "You need a home. I'm offering you mine. That's all."
John bit his lip, seeming to consider Gently's words. Gently was well aware that he couldn't back now. There was no more discussion to be had. The decision was made.
"You do have a spare bedroom, I hope?" John finally asked. Gently smiled.
"I do", he replied. "Now get to work."
The last was said with faked sternness, and John grinned in reply before he sat down at his desk and started to dig through the masses of paper that had accumulated there during his absence.
"Gov?" John ventured after a moment of silence. Gently hummed encouragingly. "Thanks."
A/N: Alors, chapter two. I won't promise I'll have the next and probably last chapter in this little thing up shortly because I know from experience that that rarely happens... But it is almost finished, as in just needing a conclusion.
Anyways, hope you enjoyed this and please leave a review.