Friends Are The Backbone That See Us Through

"Why haven't you ever married sir?" Miles asked.

"It's personal." Chandler sighed evasively, taking another sip of whisky with one shaking hand, before clearing his throat, and averting his sergeant's gaze.

"Well there's always civil partnerships nowadays." The older man smiled – and some small part of Chandler realised that deep down his Sergeant already knew that this was not what he had meant, but still it took a few moments for the words to completely sink in.

"No, no, you don't get it at all." He exclaimed finally, swigging the final dregs of whisky from the bottom of his glass before pouring himself another one.

Sergeant Miles sighed. "But I believe I do sir." He responded quietly, and Chandler frowned in confusion.

"Forgive me, but I am speaking as your friend rather than as your Sergeant." He continued in explanation. "You are a very particular man. You like everything to be in its proper place. Some might say you're a perfectionist – but it's not perfection which drives your need for order, its anxiety isn't it?"

"How… how did you know that?"

"I'm not completely oblivious you know sir." Miles smiled. "I've been watching you from the first moment we met – force of habit I suppose, as a copper you're always observing people – your need for order and total control, the fear in your eyes when you can't obtain this, or when your routines are broken – but you can't allow the OCD to control you. You mustn't let it rule your life."

The Detective Inspector sighed, so somebody had noticed – he hadn't been entirely successful at covering it up after all.

"It doesn't affect my ability to do my job though!" Chandler snapped.

"No." The older man agreed. "You already know that I think you're a bloody good copper, a bloody good DI." He explained. "At work you're able to cover it up, you do the best to supress the thoughts which plague you – but I bet at home, that's where they really take control."

Chandler sighed. "Yes, I am a particular man." He agreed. "I like everything to have its place – a rightful order. I couldn't stand the thought of accommodating anybody else. I can't change. That's just the way things are, and how I've accepted they're always going to be."

"But you do want to change?" Miles asked.

Chandler looked at him for a moment, unsure of what to say, and finally smiled. "Of course I do." He sighed, voice shaking slightly. "But it's not always so easy."

"Of course it's not easy." Miles pressed. "We're both sitting here drowning our sorrows when we should be out celebrating, me bending your ear because my wife thinks she's got cancer. It's never easy; life's a bitch at times."

It was now Miles' turn to take a final mouthful of whisky, grimacing slightly as the last remaining droplets of the warming liquid burnt the back of his throat on the way down, but instead of pouring himself a second glass he screwed the lid back onto the top of the bottle as he noticed that Chandler was already onto his third.

"I guess sometimes it gets inside your head." The Detective Inspector explained. "You start to believe that the thoughts are real, that if you don't do something to expel them they will become your life – an alternative version of reality. You become locked within yourself, a prisoner of your own mind, and all that seems to matter is the routine, because routine keeps you safe. Sometimes it's hard to really know where to turn or who to tell…"

"You have me." Miles smiled. "Remember I'm speaking as your friend now, not as your Sergeant."

Chandler shook his head. "You have enough on your plate at the moment. You don't need me adding to your problems."

"Sounds to me as though you have enough problems of your own," The Sergeant theorised, "and yet this was your idea; here we are, me talking about my wife, and you sitting there listening. Friends are all we have in this world Joe, they are the backbone when our lives so often seem to be spinning out of our control. We have to stick together."

Detective Inspector Joe Chandler smiled, and the Detective Sergeant returned the gesture – happy that he finally seemed to have got through to his friend.

"Just remember, you don't have to be on your own Joe." Miles concluded. "Feeling alone is the most lonely feeling in the world. When you're ready for that change I'll be here for you."

And Joe Chandler believed him.