Disclaimer: I do not own, not profit from.
Chandler wandered into the Incident Room, his mind for once unfocused. Slowly, over the weeks, he had been delaying going into to work, only just getting there in time. He didn't want to see what was waiting for him. But he did. His mind kept on wandering to the person he desperately wanted to see, but didn't have the courage to.
He couldn't stop thinking of Emerson Kent.
Just before he rounded the corner that led to the Incident Room, he stopped and breathed slowly. In, out, in, out. He pinched the bridge of his nose, concentrating on counting his breaths. Ten more, nine more, eight more...
"Sir?" came a voice from behind him, causing Chandler to start. He slowly turned around on his heels, just to confirm whose voice he had heard. He found himself standing face to face with Kent.
Kent looked up at the taller man, worry laced lightly over his face. They had all noticed that Chandler was cutting it finer and finer getting into work. What had once been unusual was becoming common, and seeing his DI stalling seemed like the final nail in the coffin. Something was definitely wrong.
"Are you alright Sir?" Kent asked, and Chandler could also see the worry in his voice. He didn't mind hearing it from Miles or Mansell, but it was almost too much to hear it from Kent. He just wanted to wrap his arms around the younger man, anything to keep that tone coming out of his mouth. He realised a few seconds later that he should have answered.
"Yes, I'm fine. Just a slight headache coming on." Chandler tried smiling encouragingly, hoping he seemed normal.
"Okay. We have a new case that has just come in, Sir. Do you want to take a look at it?" Kent held out a folder to him, obviously waiting for his boss to grasp the file as he normally did.
"Thank you, Kent." Chandler reached out and took the file, making sure that his fingers didn't meet Kent's. It was bad enough just watching him.
Kent turned around and headed towards the Incident Room, a trace of worry still on his face. Chandler sighed, and turned to follow his younger colleague. He got a present from concentrating too much on Kent by nearly getting a faceful full of door.
Not a good start to the day.
He walked quickly to his office, and shut his door behind him. He went on the basis that if he didn't want to see them, they couldn't see him. He wasn't sure how effective it was though. He glanced out through the glass, scanning the room, right to left, and back to the right again. Back to Kent. He was absent-mindedly fiddling with the file, when he heard a sharp knock at the door, startling him back to reality.
"Sir?" Miles looked in at the door, opening the door halfway. Chandler could see the worry on his face, just as prominent as it had been on Kent's. But there was also smugness there, as though Miles knew what had been racing through his mind only seconds before. Before he knew it, he could feel a warm flush creeping up his neck. The smugness on Miles' face grew more pronounced.
"Enjoying the view?" Miles asked, a grin breaking out.
"I don't know what you mean." Chandler stated, shifting his eyes down to the file that sat on his desk, a slight crease in the right-hand corner, from where he had been absently playing with the file. Miles just carried on smirking.
"I wouldn't bottle it up to long, Sir. Wouldn't do you any good in the long run."
Chandler looked up sharply, not mistaking the older man's tone.
"What do you mean? I'm not bottling anything up. Why would I do that?" Chandler replied, trying to look confused, as if he didn't have a clue about what Miles was talking about. He stared back at Miles, refusing to break eye contact. Miles stared back in concern.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about, Sir. But it's your choice. Though if it were me, I would just ask him." Miles gave Chandler a knowing look, and turned out of the office, leaving Chandler stunned and embarrassed. He turned his face away from Miles' retreating back, and towards the young man on the right of the room. Kent was slightly bent over, concentration etched over his face, his eyes on the computer screen. A tired smile formed on Chandler's lips, as he studied the younger man. He watched his chocolate brown curly hair that refused to be tamed. He saw the young pale face underneath the curly crop, the complexion almost porcelain. He saw the wide brown eyes, almost feverish in concentration. The long fingers that flew over the keyboard. The way that the dark three-piece suit clung to the skinny body it covered. Chandler ran his eyes over the image in front of him again and again, as though he was trying to imprint the image in his mind. He only stopped when Kent himself had grown aware of three sets of eyes on him: Himself, Mansell and Miles. Kent quickly, before pausing when his eyes rested on him. He and Kent simultaneously blushed, only it appeared more on Kent because of his pale skin. Kent smiled tentatively, before refocusing on whatever had before had his attention. Chandler followed his example, and finally set his mind to the slightly creased file that lay on his desk.
Whatever he couldn't do, Kent was still here. He couldn't act on his thoughts, it could cause too many problems, too much heartbreak. But he could keep his distance, stay a friend.
That was innocent enough.