Late One Night
Chandler was woken abruptly by an incessant ringing.
After taking a second to look at the time, 02:37, he located the source and promptly made it stop.
"Uh, Chandler." His voice was croaky from his almost- good night's sleep, but it wasn't as bad as the one that came back.
The voice was familiar and yet different and the speech was slow and slurred.
"Sorry, who is this?"
"It's meee! I phoned you!"
Chandler stayed silent, not entirely sure if the sentence was over. When he realised the only sound on the line was going to be a muffled laughter until he spoke, he carefully replied.
"Yes, quite. And who is 'me'?" Chandler attempted to imitate the man's voice but he immediately regretted it when he sounded just as drunk.
"You is Chandler, silly!"
He sat up and turned on his bedside light, now realising this was going to take a while. He was about to ask who was speaking again, when he twigged. The way the other man said his name was unmistakable, even when said 'under the influence'.
"Kent! Why are you calling me this late? And how come you're drunk? This isn't like you, we have work tomorrow."
There was a pause on the other end, followed by a loud bang.
Suddenly a laugh came over the line and after attempting to explain he' dropped his phone, Kent started to babble.
"I'm not dr… drunk. I'm just … NO! I had a few beers and I was thinking, you know, the boss should have one. So I bought him one. No, wait. You! I bought one for you, but then you weren't here!"
"Kent…" Chandler tried to speak but promptly got cut off.
"No, so I thought, you know, there's a drink, so I found you in my phone and my finger pressed the big green button and now … here you are!"
His voice rose in pitch at the end as if he was surprised he was talking to Chandler.
Joe rubbed his eyes, thinking of how best to talk to a drunken DC.
"Kent, listen. Not that I'm not grateful for the beer." He was trying to make his sentences slow and kind. He'd never dealt with a drunken Kent before … or a drunken anyone for that matter … so he wanted to be careful so as not to provoke any reaction that would draw attention.
"Kent, is there anyone there with you?"
Chandler was relieved, but only for a second.
"Ugh! No, Kent. I mean did anyone come out with you?"
There was a silence, save for Kent's heavy breathing whilst, Joe presumed, he was thinking.
Then the answer came that made him get up and start dressing.
He put the phone on loudspeaker as he struggled to get his trousers on in his weary state.
"Monty? Kent, Monty is your moped! Stay there ok? I'm coming to pick you up."
"But you're here!"
Kent's voice was matter – of – fact as if it was is boss being stupid.
"Ok, Kent. Just tell me where … where 'we' are."
"The bl … black sw…" Kent burst out laughing as if the name of the pub was the funniest thing in the world.
"The Black Swan? Ok, stay there!"
Chandler was fully, if a little haphazardly dressed now, so after making sure the light was off and the door was locked, and then double checking, he started his car and drove as lose to the speed limit as he could get away with.
It was hard to see, even with his headlights, but after ten minutes of driving, they finally bounced off a glorious sight.
The bright orange of Kent's Vespa hit his eyes like a radiant star and Chandler smiled.
After pulling in just behind 'Monty', Joe cautiously stepped out of his car.
It wasn't a particularly nasty place, but as he, and his team, knew too well, anything could happen at night.
He was about to call for Kent when a noise startled him. He spun round to see Kent on his hands and knees. The initial concern subsided when Kent started giggling as he stumbled to his feet.
"Kent! Are you ok?"
Chandler helped him regain his balance, as the younger man stared him in the eyes.
"Hey! See, you are here!"
"Yes, Kent." Joe helped him into the passenger seat of his car. "I'm here."
They were halfway to Kent's house before anyone spoke, as the DC has dozed off almost as soon as he was plugged in.
"You know", Kent's was still slurring his words but not as much as he was. The brief nap had done him some good.
"I really like you, Sir."
Chandler kept his eyes on the road, unsure of what to say to the drunken mumblings.
"I mean, Skip was all, 'He's just a plastic man', and 'he doesn't belong here'."
Chandler glanced away from the road at Kent, unsure whether to be offended at Miles' words or laugh at Kent's misuse of the phrase 'plastics', but he let him carry on, intrigued where the young man was going.
"… but I knew!"
Kent rolled his head towards the window. He was getting tired again. Chandler was going to let it go, but something urged him to ask.
"You knew what?"
"You said you knew. What did you know?"
"Well." Kent turned back and gazed at his DI.
"I knew you weren't just a plastic man. I knew I liked you."
Joe looked at his DC briefly, not wanting to take his eyes off the road, but needing to see the young man's eyes.
"I do, you know", he carried on.
"I like you a lot."
He paused before suddenly bringing his index finger to his lips with a worried look.
"Sssh! You can't tell anyone!"
Chandler pulled up outside Kent's house and turned the engine off. Now he could look at him properly.
"Tell anyone what, Kent?"
"That I love the Boss!"
Kent snapped his hand to his mouth, realising what he's just let slip.
He fumbled with the car door and stumbled out.
"Just, don't tell!" It was almost a whisper, but Chandler heard.
"I won't, Kent. Goodnight."
Chandler sat there, stunned at what his DC has just said.
He waited till Kent was safely inside, before starting up the engine again and slowly pulling out.
The drive home was longer that before and Chandler had time to replay the conversation many times before finally reaching his own front door. One thing was sure. He wasn't going to sleep tonight.