She was wearing a pale blue and white dress that looked comfortably tight in all the right places. It wasn't provocative; just appropriate for the unseasonably warm weather they'd been having of late. Kent watched as the young woman sidled up alongside Chandler whilst he was in the middle of ordering the next round at the bar. She wasn't exactly invading his personal space but he could tell the exact moment Chandler felt uncomfortable by her presence and moved slightly in the opposite direction.
The barman had just started pulling the first pint so it wasn't as if he could make an excuse and leave when the woman placed a hand on his arm and said something that ended in a flirty laugh. Chandler hardly responded. His lips thinned in a bad imitation of a smile but it didn't seem to put her off.
Kent was debating with himself whether or not to go rescue him when Miles caught his attention. "Come on, lad, out with it. I can hear those cogs turning from here."
Miles was sitting opposite him with his back to the bar so he had no idea of the scene Kent had just witnessed.
"The boss…" He looked again at Chandler, his stiff form giving off a vibe of unapproachability that it seemed only Kent was able to recognise. "Is he gay?"
"Reckons he's not. I'm not too sure though. Never seen him with a woman and he's never mentioned one." Miles grabbed his glass off the table and swirled the dregs around. "Why? You interested?" he grinned, before downing what was left of his pint.
Kent felt his face heating up and promptly changed the subject.
# # #
The temperature had finally dropped and rain clouds had made an appearance. Kent was having his scooter serviced so Chandler had offered him a lift home after work to save him getting wet waiting for a bus.
Their journey through the wet streets of London was silent but not uncomfortable despite the dark skies and bright lights lending the car a warm intimacy that Kent secretly cherished. The cosy interior gave him enough courage to bring up the subject that had been on his mind many times over the past few days.
"Can I ask you a personal question, sir?"
Chandler seemed to consider this for a few seconds as he pulled up at a set of traffic lights and adjusted the wipers to a slower speed. "If you wish."
"You don't have to answer if you don't want," Kent rushed to assure him. "I know it's none of my business."
Chandler's eyes remained on the red light, the fingers of one hand tapping the steering wheel lightly. "Go on."
Kent hadn't intended to just blurt it out but he couldn't seem to help himself. "Are you gay?"
Chandler gripped the wheel tightly with both hands. "Why does everyone think that I'm gay?" He didn't sound angry, just frustrated.
"So you're not?"
Chandler sighed and relaxed into his seat, the tension in his body suddenly evaporating. Kent thought that was the end of the conversation when the only sound for several seconds was that of one of the wipers catching as it moved across the windscreen.
"It's more complicated than that."
# # #
Chandler was in the process of clearing away his desk when Kent stepped into his office. They were the last ones to leave but he still closed the door behind him to give them privacy.
"Did you know it's possible for two people to have a functional relationship, even if one of them is asexual?"
Chandler sat down as he slipped his phone into his pocket. "I did know that, yes," he said calmly, lining a small pile of files up with the edge of his desk.
"I want to talk to you about what you told me last night."
His keyboard was the next thing to be relocated so that it was perfectly parallel with the files. "I thought you already were."
"I've done some research on the internet."
Kent watched as he moved the pen holder further back and slightly to the right. Left. Right again. "And...?"
"I still don't understand it, not really…"
At the pause in Kent's speech, Chandler finally looked up and met his gaze.
"…but I want to."
# # #
Kent padded out of the bathroom wearing just his boxer shorts and into Chandler's bedroom - their bedroom; he was still getting used to the fact that they shared his flat now. Kent had moved in two weeks previously and so far it had proved to be one of the best decisions he'd ever made.
Chandler was sitting up in bed reading a book. Kent lifted the quilt and climbed in as Chandler raised his arm so that Kent could snuggle against his bare chest. "Good shower?"
Kent hummed in the affirmative and pressed his lips briefly to Chandler's skin. He'd spent over twenty minutes in there and was quite aware Chandler knew exactly what he'd been up to.
Kent closed his eyes, making the most of being close to his boyfriend. After a short while Chandler closed the book and leaned across to place it on the bedside table. "Emerson," he said quietly, bringing his arm back down and wrapping it around him.
"Are you happy?"
"You know I am," Kent mumbled, snuggling down and hugging him tighter for reassurance. "Why would you even ask that?"
"Because this isn't normal, is it?"
"Maybe not to other people but it is to me."
"Cuddling in bed and a quick wank in the shower-"
"A bloody brilliant wank in the shower, thank you very much." Kent looked up and grinned as Chandler huffed a laugh.
He rested his head back down and they lay quietly for a while. Kent knew Chandler was still thinking about it and wanted more than anything to put his mind at rest so he looked him in the eye and said, "I don't care about the sex." Chandler gave him an exaggerated look of disbelief. "Honestly. I get everything I need from this relationship and the rest just doesn't matter." Kent leaned up and pressed his lips to Chandler's, encouraged when Chandler returned the kiss. It wouldn't be the last conversation they had on the subject but he was determined to convince him eventually. "I love you."
It was the first time either of them had said it and despite not hearing it back, Kent was confident Chandler felt the same.
# # #
Kent woke up when he felt the bed dip beside him. He opened his eyes blearily and tried to focus on the clock when he realised Chandler was already dressed and ready for work. "What time is it?"
Chandler spoke quietly. "It's five-thirty. I have to go in early, remember?" He placed a hand on the side of Kent's face and Kent nuzzled softly against it, closing his eyes again. "Go back to sleep," he said, bending down and pressing a kiss into Kent's hair.
# # #
It was just as Kent was stepping out of the shower that he noticed. The mirror above the sink had steamed up just enough to be able to make out several words in Chandler's handwriting. He could even see where little droplets of water had run down as each of the letters had been formed.
Kent had worked especially hard in the beginning to persuade Chandler to give them a chance. Chandler had found it difficult to understand what Kent could possibly get out of a relationship with him given all of his insecurities and issues, but Kent had formed an attachment to him long before then that had very little to do with sex. He'd meant what he'd said the night before and going without wasn't much of a sacrifice if it meant they got to go home together at the end of the day.
He couldn't wait to get to work to see Chandler and smiled to himself as he looked at the words on the mirror again.
"I love you too."