Kent continues to insist that he’s fine, until he realises that he’s really not.
It wasn’t a surprise to find himself stepping into Chandler’s flat rather than his own. If anything it came as more of a relief than anything else, for though he didn’t want to talk, he desperately didn’t want to be alone either.
He’d headed straight for what had almost become his side of the couch. Shoes off, bag at his feet. Relaxing into the cushions as Chandler put the kettle on.
He was eying his box of Diazepam when Chandler brought the tea over a few minutes later. He felt a little awkward, having Chandler see him like this, but he tried to tell himself that Chandler had seem him like this before, had seen him worse than this.
“Thanks,” he muttered, taking the proffered mug from Chandler.
“Are you going to take them?” Chandler asked, indicating the box and Kent looked down, fingers tightening their grip.
He shook his head, leaning forward to place his tea beside Chandler’s on the table before shoving the box back into his bag. Before he sat back he found himself reaching for his mug again, twisting it just a little to mirror the angle of Chandler’s own, correcting it before Chandler could fully acknowledge the need to adjust it himself.
“I don’t like the way they make me feel,” Kent said a moment later.
“But if you need them-,” his eyes slid from their mugs to meet Kent’s.
Kent ducked his head. “I’m okay now. Just- things just got a little overwhelming for a minute.”
“What has your therapist said about it?” Chandler asked, reach for his tea then.
“About what?” Kent asked, twisting his fingers together.
He didn’t have to look at Chandler to see the frown beginning to crease at his brow.
“About your being overwhelmed?” Chandler said, too carefully.
Kent winced, shrugged.
“I couldn’t make my last appointment,” he kept his eyes down. It wasn’t entirely true. More like he didn’t keep his last appointment. But it had been scheduled on the same day he’d had the panic attack at work and by the time his appointment rolled around, Kent had just pulled his duvet up over his head and blocked the rest of the world out. The Diazepam had helped with that much at least.
“Don’t,” Kent said as the silence built between them.
“I didn’t say anything,” Chandler said, voice too calm.
“You don’t have to. I can feel you judging me.”
“I’m not judging you, Emerson.” It was almost a sigh, weighted with everything Chandler hadn’t said. “I’m just trying to understand you. I thought the therapy was helping?”
“It was!” He shook his head, dragging clawed fingers through his hair. “It is. I just… I don’t know what’s been going on lately. Sometimes it feels like everything’s going to be okay, that I can do this. But then something happens, something throws me, and I feel like I’m back to square one and… it’s just so frustrating. I… I think I almost preferred it when I didn’t have any hope.”
He shook his head again. That wasn’t entirely true either. He liked the good days. A lot. He liked them a whole lot more than the bad days. The days where he had to drag himself out of bed, the nights where he woke screaming and terrified, where he lived in a perpetual panic and freaked out over the simplest of things.
“I know you don’t really believe that,” Chandler said, sipping at his tea.
“No,” Kent agreed, reaching for and sipping at his own. It was still on the too-hot side. He blew lightly over the surface, trying another small sip before placing it back on the table. His tongue smarting from the burn.
“This has been happening more frequently.” Chandler said. It didn’t sound like a question and Kent supposed it wasn’t. More of an observation really. He couldn’t really deny it. Or explain it. His therapist probably could. And maybe that was the point of mentioning it.
Kent internally cringed. This time though, this time it was Kray-related. Or at least, in part. More Kray-related than his breakdown at work had been in any case.
“I think I just had a bit too much to drink tonight,” he said, staring into the murky depths of his mug. He shivered, feeling the phantom touch of whomever had reached out to touch his arse as if they had any right, any claim. The second he’d felt it he’d flashed back to his striping, to the Kray’s slamming him up against the wall and slicing him open like ripened fruit. He’d flashed back to the night the Incident Room was raided, the nights he’d woken screaming from nightmares, the panic attack he’d had after seeing what was left of Dan Street’s face.
“Emerson, stop.” Chandler’s voice pierced through him, pulling him back to the present. Chandler was holding his wrists, and it wasn’t until Kent looked up that he realised he must have been rubbing at his eyes because it took a moment for Chandler to come into focus.
He blinked, once, twice. Slanted his gaze away.
“Where else have you been scratching?” Chandler asked. Kent flushed, trying to pull his hands away. “You have blood on your fingers,” Chandler said, tightening his grip.
“I told you it’s not intentional.” Kent muttered.
“That’s not what I asked you.” There was an edge to Chandler’s voice.
Kent bristled. “You’re not my therapist!”
“Still not what I asked you.” His gaze was intense, unrelenting.
Kent looked away, angry now. He could feel his body thrumming with adrenaline, his fight or flight response leaning worryingly towards fight. He looked back again and winced to see the almost wounded look on Chandler’s face, as if he could read his intentions. Shame washed through him then, muting the roar in his mind.
“It’s nothing,” he said, voice softer, more vulnerable. He hated the sound of it.
“So you’ve said.” Came the clipped reply.
Kent clenched his teeth together. The frustration was still there though. The anger too. Bubbling just below the surface, coiled and ready to lash free. He felt himself tense up again, body readying itself just as Chandler released one of his hands. He snatched the freed limb back, pressing his arm almost protectively against his chest.
Chandler kept hold of his right hand however and Kent watched in wary curiosity as Chandler unfastened his cufflink, shoving the sleeve of his shirt a little way up his arm before rolling an elastic band from his wrist and over their joined hands to rest snugly around the bony part of Kent’s own wrist.
Kent frowned at him, questions pressing up against the seal of his lips.
He tried not to shiver as Chandler turned his arm around, dragging his fingers in a light tickle along the underside before slipping them beneath the elastic.
He wasn’t expecting the pull and snap that came next.
Kent jumped, jerking his arm against Chandler’s hold, mouth open in speechless shock.
“How did that feel?” Chandler asked, calmly.
“Are you mad?” Kent snapped, wrenching his arm free with the next pull and hugging his wrist to his chest, rubbing at the sting. When he looked, a slight red line stood out, stark against the paleness of his skin.
He turned accusing eyes on Chandler.
“How did that feel?” Chandler asked still calm.
“It hurt! How do you think it felt?”
“Did it hurt more or less than what you’ve been doing to yourself?” Chandler asked then.
Kent froze, fingers stilling against his wrist. He didn’t know what to say to that. Chandler was watching him, almost seeing through him to everything he was feeling and thinking and Kent felt as though Chandler knew the answer already without him even having to open his mouth.
He looked back down at his wrist, heart hammering from the brief surge of adrenaline. The sting from the elastic had already faded, the red mark lingering only as a result of his rubbing over the spot.
Kent wet his lips. His hand shook as he slipped his index finger through the elastic, pulling it taunt before letting it snap out, pinching sharply at his skin. He sucked in a harsh breath.
“It’ll help,” Chandler said, as if answering some unspoken question. Answering as if he knew. As if he could possibly know. “It helped me.”
Kent swallowed against the words pressing up against his lips, questions that he wanted to ask but wasn’t sure he had the right. Chandler waited and Kent wondered if he was waiting for the question, maybe even expecting it, testing to see if he’d ask.
He wet his lips again, and asked.
Chandler’s smile was wry. “Sometimes my OCD isn’t that easy to control, or hide. Sometimes I need to snap myself out of whatever situation I find myself in. Alcohol and fisticuffs aren’t exactly discreet methods,” he admitted and Kent found himself smiling sympathetically back in remembrance. “not to mention a little frowned upon when we’re on the clock.”
He smiled more genuinely this time and Kent felt himself begin to relax again.
“Whenever you want to… block it all out, or focus on something else, try that instead.” He tilted his head towards the elastic.
Kent ran his fingers over it again. “Won’t you need it?”
Chandler offered him another wry smile. “I’ve snapped more than my fair few,” he said. “I’ve got a supply. If you need more.”
Kent sighed, curling his hand around the elastic. “This is so messed up.”
Chandler reached out, fingers touching lightly at his chin.
“Yes, it is.” He agreed and Kent chuckled, oddly surprised by the honesty.
Chandler stroked his fingers along his jaw. “But you’re not alone. I hope you know that.”
“I do, I- I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me since…” He drifted off, mouth pressing shut a moment. “You didn’t have to. Don’t have to,” he amended. “You- you’ve been a good friend.”
The word tasted strange against his tongue. Chandler must’ve thought so as well if the furrowing of his brow was anything to go by. Kent felt himself colouring and looked away, not entirely sure why.
He didn’t know why he’d used that word. Only, maybe because Chandler had used it to class what he thought they were to each other once. Not his boss outside of work, anyway. Kent, well, to him it had always felt like more than just a friendship. And maybe that was what Miles had meant when he’d confronted Kent about it, about them.
“I should go,” he said then, sighing, defeated.
“You should stay,” Chandler countered, face soft and open in that way he sometimes got when they were together like this. When he wasn’t immediately consumed with worry or frustration over Kent.
“I mean, if you want to?” He added, thumb still moving in a gentle swipe across Kent’s jaw.
He did. Want. He wanted very much to stay here, with Chandler. And not just for one more night.
He ducked his head, dislodging Chandler’s hand with the gesture. Chandler moved back, giving him the space he hadn’t meant to ask for and Kent looked up again, the smile twisting his lips a little sad, a little wistful, but he nodded.
“Yeah, alright.” He agreed, despite himself.
Because one more night was better than never getting to spend another night with Chandler again.
- - -
There was no knife this time. Somehow that was more terrifying that seeing the glint of a blade in his peripheral vision as he was pushed face first against the wall. There were hands on his shoulders, holding him down. There were hands on his hips and Kent sucked in a breath, feeling the harsh slide of them against his bare skin. He shivered, naked and nauseous as the hands moved down his outer thighs before sliding behind and up… up-
No, God. Please no! Don’t! Stop. Please. Please!
-dragging up the length of his scars. The touch burned, flared, flayed. He could feel his skin peeling apart, the flesh ripping anew, hot breath against the back of his neck, the hot trickle of blood running down his legs, a suddenly sharp pressure-
Kent woke with a full body jerk, a scream clawing at the back of his throat as he lay, paralysed with fear and blinking wide unseeing eyes into the darkness surrounding him. Slowly, the room came into focus and Kent sucked in a shuddering breath. Just a dream. It was just a dream.
His heart was thundering against his ribcage as he pushed himself up, throwing the blankets aside. He felt too-hot and sick, stomach churning indecisively. He pulled his legs up onto the couch, burying his head against his knees. He was shivering, gasping for breath.
Just a dream.
He tried to calm himself, tried to breathe through the nausea and fear, tried to will his heart to cease its frenetic beating, but it was all for naught. His body was wracked with shivers, his stomach broiling indecisively, and he could still feel the acrid taste of a scream clawing at the back of his throat.
It was just a dream, he tried to tell himself. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t happening. Hadn’t happened. Not like that. Never like that.
His skin still crawled and the tears he didn’t know he was crying wet through the fabric of his pyjama bottoms as he pressed his face against his knees. His scars smarted and Kent knew- knew- it was just from the pull of his position, he knew it was. And yet, there was still that something there at the back of his mind telling him that the dream was real, that he was being ripped open anew and that they were still there, still around, just waiting, watching…
He grabbed at his head, nails sinking deeply into his scalp as he dragged them through his hair, trying to pull himself out of it. He felt the elastic he still wore around his wrist snag in his hair and he jerked his hands away, scrabbling desperately for it.
The first sting of the elastic against his skin had him sucking in a sharp gasp of air. The second had him releasing that same gasp in a slow breath. He tried to regulate his breaths then, in time with the snap of the elastic. The sudden bite always unexpected as it snapped against his wrist. He focussed on that. On the pull-and-snap. On the bite of the band. He lost count of the number of times he snapped the elastic, stopping only when he had his breathing back under control, when his heart no longer felt as though it were trying to burst right out of his chest, when his wrist began to go numb and he could barely feel the snap anymore.
He shivered, hugging his arms around his knees once more. His wrist began to burn as he dragged it unconsciously against the fabric of his pyjamas; sensation beginning to creep in past the numbness. Kent dropped his head to his knees again, breathing deeply in through his nose and out again through his mouth.
He didn’t know how much time passed, how long he sat scared and shaking in the dark before the heard movement from Chandler’s room. He listened with half an ear, equally dreading and wanting the moment he came through and found Kent curled up on the couch in the aftermaths of yet another nightmare.
God. When would this end? He was so tired of this. So sick to death of the all consuming fear he felt every time he dreamed, remembered, flashed back. He just wanted it all to stop.
“Emerson?” Chandler’s voice was soft as he called to him.
Kent turned his head against his knees. His skin felt too-tight as he blinked against the blur of his eyes to find Chandler had turned on the hall light and stood, just at the edge of the room, watching him with worried eyes.
“I didn’t hear you,” he said when Kent said nothing. He wore only a pair of pyjama bottoms, no shirt, bare feet, his hair unconcernedly sleep-mussed.
“I didn’t scream,” Kent said hoarsely, tearing his eyes away. He tried to shrug but another shudder rushed through him, making his shoulder jerk uncomfortably. He tightened his grip around his legs, trying to squeeze the tremors out of his body.
Chandler came closer then, and Kent listened to the sound of his footsteps until he reached the couch and sat himself down beside him, body angling towards him, the invitation clear.
Kent didn’t hesitate. He moved into Chandler’s arms almost immediately, more than willing to let Chandler pull him close and hold him tight. It was automatic now to press his face up against Chandler’s neck, comforting to feel the press of Chandler’s mouth against his temple. His heart began to quicken anew and he clenched his fingers into fists against Chandler’s chest.
Chandler didn’t say anything for a long moment as he pulled Kent in a little tighter, running a hand up and down the length of his back, easing the tremors wracking through his body.
Kent tried to focus on the gesture, on only the broad swipes of Chandler’s palm, tried to breath in time with the strokes, pushing everything else from his mind. Pushing the nightmare from his mind. But although Chandler made him feel safe, the fear lingered there at the edge of his mind and he wanted desperately for something to distract him from it.
His fingers tightened, nails cutting into his palms, and he found himself tensing all over again.
“It’s okay,” Chandler breathed, reacting to his distress. “You’re okay, Emerson.”
“No, I’m not.” He said, the words spilling from his lips.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Chandler asked. His mouth was dry against the sweat of Kent’s temple, his words a hot whisper, and Kent squeezed his eyes closed against the sensation.
“I can’t.” Kent whispered, turning his head against the press of Chandler’s, their cheeks brushing intimately together with the movement.
Chandler moved with him, pulling back a little and angling his head to better look at Kent.
Their faces were so close.
“Okay,” Chandler whispered back, his eyes flickering between Kent’s own. The word brushing across his face like a caress. Kent felt a rush of warmth wash over him. A flush of emotion so overwhelming he felt as though it would burst from him.
Without thinking he tilted his face up, pressing his mouth against Chandler’s.
It wasn’t a kiss so much as a dry press of lips against lips, but it was enough to startle a gasp out of Chandler and for reality to come crashing back down upon Kent.
He pulled away just as quickly, all but jerking himself out of Chandler’s arms as he pressed his hand to his mouth. His lips tingled and he stared in terrified horror at Chandler, watching as he pressed his own fingers to his lips a moment before looking at Kent.
“I’m sorry!” He blurted, panic bubbling inside him. Why did he do that? What the hell had he been thinking to do that? “I- I shouldn’t have done that.”
Chandler nodded carefully, wetting his lips and Kent found himself staring a heartbeat too long at his mouth. “Why did you?”
“I didn’t mean-,” He shook his head, “I mean I-,” he stopped, frustrated. “I’m so sorry, Joe.”
“It’s alright,” Chandler said, reaching out to take his hand. Kent pulled back as if burnt and shook his head again.
“It’s not. I shouldn’t’ve… I don’t think I should stay here anymore.”
“What?” It was almost an accusation. “Why not?”
Kent bit his lips closed.
“I said it was alright, Emerson. You’re still upset, I understand.”
His heart was still hammering against his chest. His skin prickling. It wasn’t alright. He’d meant it. Whether he was still upset or not he’d meant it. Maybe not consciously, and maybe he’d never have done it if not for the moment they’d been having, but the point was that he’d wanted to, always wanted to, and he’d acted on it. He’d acted on it and put Chandler in a position whereby he had to justify it for Kent.
And he couldn’t- wouldn’t- do that to him.
Chandler had given him so much time and caring, and here he was taking more than he ever deserved. More than was ever offered.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated.
“You’re already forgiven,” Chandler said disquietly.
His fingers curled claws against his arms as he wrapped them around himself, words pressing insistently against the closed press of his lips. He swallowed them back, trying not to choke on the thickness of them.
“I should go.” He said, heart twisting.
“You should stay,” and Kent looked up, remembering the words from earlier in the night. Chandler wasn’t smiling, but he didn’t look upset, at least not so much over Kent’s impromptu kiss so much as his reaction to having kissed him.
“I- I’ve taken enough of your time. This isn’t your problem.”
“If by ‘this’ you mean you?” Chandler sighed. “You’re not a problem, Emerson. Not for me.”
Kent looked up at him. “Why?”
Why are you taking this so well.
Why are you still trying to help me?
“Why did you kiss me?” Chandler asked softly in return. Kent felt his cheeks flame at Chandler’s words. The only light in the room came from the half-glow of the hall light, casting them into a kaleidoscope of highlighted colour and deep shadow. He was sure Chandler could see more of him than he could see of Chandler, and it made reading his expression all the more difficult.
Was he angry? Upset? Was the calming timbre of his voice merely a mask over how disappointed he really felt?
“I’m sorry,” he repeated for the third time. Nails biting in. Chandler either didn’t see or chose not to mention it. Kent squeezed harder, feeling the piercing give of skin beneath his fingertips.
“Miles tried to tell me,” he said, voice barely above a whisper. Chandler straightened at his words.
“Tried to warn me… said we- said I was getting too close. I’ve… I’ve overstepped.”
“This doesn’t have to become an issue between us.”
But it already was. Kent had always been emotionally compromised when it came to Chandler, and though he didn’t want to be the one to end what they had together- even if Chandler never saw it as anything other than a friendship- he didn’t want to be the one to ruin it either.
“I- I think I’ll go back to sleep now,” he whispered, closing his eyes to avoid Chandler’s stare.
Chandler didn’t immediately move and Kent worried he’d push and prod until all his secrets came spilling out like blood from an open wound. His heart was in his mouth until he felt the give of the couch as Chandler pushed to his feet.
“You can talk to me,” Chandler said, sounding hurt. “You can talk to me about anything. I hope you know that.”
Kent didn’t answer and eventually Chandler left, the sound of his footsteps growing softer and softer. There came the click of the hall light and then silence. Chandler’s disappointment felt like a blanket around his shoulders, smothering him with guilt. He tried to shrug it off, but the more he tried not to think about Chandler, the more he found himself remembering the kiss.
It hadn’t been much of one. Not really. Only a second or two long. But Kent imagined he could still feel the press of Chandler’s mouth against his own. He pressed his fingers against his lips and wished he was brave enough to ask for it, for all of it.
He wanted to. Even now he still wanted to. To feel the giving slide of Chandler’s lips against his own, the questing press, the heat of his breath, the warm wetness of his mouth.
His eyes flew open, his breathing shuddery as he stared wide-eyed around the room.
He wondered what Chandler thought of him now. What, if anything, he’d do. And if he’d lose him. He was terrified that the first good thing to happen to him since the Kray’s had ruined his life was about to stop, and all because of some stupid kiss he hadn’t meant to give him.
By the time the sky began to lighten outside, the first tendrils of dawn stretching out across the room, Kent had managed to work himself into a state, thoughts and imagined scenarios viciously circling one another in his mind.
The flat was too quiet and the intrusion of morning into his musings if anything made the whole remembrance worse. Today would be the day. Today he would lose the only person that really mattered to him.
He hadn’t even been thinking about kissing Chandler. He just had. As if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. As if it were something he had always been allowed to do. Had any right to do.
His stomach churned. He wanted to curl up, tug the blanket that smelt dizzyingly of Chandler around his head and make believe everything would be alright. Instead he found himself pushing to his feet. He hugged his arms around himself. Feet cold against the floor as he cautiously began to make his way down the hall, past the bathroom and the study, Chandler’s open doorway looming menacingly before him.
He hesitated, standing there at the threshold. What was he doing here? What was he thinking? Chandler would still be sleeping. If one last look was what he needed he should just take it and go. Dress in the silence and slip out like a ghost. Work would be an issue in avoidance, but Kent had been through worse. Been through worse and survived- sort of. His hold on sanity was a slippery one at best.
The curtains in Chandler’s room were open, the early morning light spilling across the room to touch tenderly at his face. It was still dark in the room, but the dawn light was bright enough for him to see that Chandler wasn’t sleeping.
“Emerson?” Chandler called, pushing up onto an elbow. His voice was hoarse, his hair in an even worse disarray. “What’s wrong?”
“Did I wake you?” he whispered. Chandler shook his head and Kent winced inwardly. If he hadn’t been sleeping then it was because of Kent.
“I just, I wanted to say I’m sorry, Joe.” He said, twisting his fingers into his borrowed t-shirt. It was a little loose across the chest, but the fabric was soft, well-worn, and belonged to the man before him.
Chandler didn’t say anything.
“And that I don’t want to lose you,” he pressed on, voice pitched low. “I mean- I mean I know you’re not mine and I can’t just say stuff like that but… but I wasn’t lying when I said you made me feel safe. You always make me feel safe. And you’re- you’re the only one who’s-,” he bit off his words, fingers running though his hair in frustration.
“Who’s what?” Chandler prompted when Kent broke off.
He wanted to say Chandler was the only one who’s ever cared, but that wasn’t strictly true. He did care in the way Kent needed him to though, with careful pushing when he knew Kent could handle it, with backing off when it was obvious he couldn’t, with his gentle touches and his tight holds, his arms cocooning Kent from the rest of the world.
He felt horrible about himself most of the time, the sentiment made worse by the paranoia that everyone who knew about him was judging him in every way he judged himself.
Chandler had never made him feel that way though. Had never given him a reason to ever think that he would.
Kent looked up with trepidation. “I kissed you,” he whispered.
His heart was thumping. He didn’t want to see that same look he thought he saw in everyone else’s eyes directed at him by Chandler. He couldn’t bear it. Even if Chandler didn’t feel the same way he did, the thought that he wouldn’t care enough to keep hold of them, of him, was terrifying.
“I know,” Chandler said, softly.
Kent smiled forlornly. “I kissed you because I wanted to. I know I shouldn’t have and I’m sorry I put you in that position, but I wasn’t thinking about it. I just- it seemed only-,”
“-natural?” Chandler finished.
“Yeah,” Kent breathed out shakily. “Yeah, it was.”
Chandler smiled softly then and Kent felt his breath catch, watching as he reached over to tug the corner of his duvet up in invitation, his eyes never leaving Kent’s as he shifted a little across the bed.
He took an automatic step forward before stopping himself, eyes flittering between Chandler and the space he’d made for him.
Neither of them said anything for a long moment.
“Joe?” He breathed, heart in his throat. He’d only come to see Chandler to apologise, to maybe have to say goodbye. He’d fully expected Chandler to put a stop to their- friendship.
And yet here he was, covers pulled back in an invitation that was hard to misinterpret.
Kent hesitated. The choice was his.
But what choice exactly.
“I thought-,” he took a tentative step forward.
“You’re not the only one Miles thinks is getting too close,” Chandler said simply.
“But you- I- I didn’t think-?” Kent stuttered, not daring to hope.
“Did he tell you?” Chandler asked.
Kent nodded, stopping at the foot of Chandler’s bed.
“You didn’t believe him?”
“Of course not!” Kent all but exclaimed, surprised by the surprise on Chandler face.
“I thought that’s why you were so upset.” Chandler said, pushing up a little. “When Miles said you’d run off I assumed-,”
Kent shook his head, vehement and disbelieving. “No, I- I threw myself into your arms, didn’t I?”
Chandler shot him a wry smile and Kent inched forward until he was sitting beside Chandler on the mattress, legs curling up beside him. Chandler reached out, his fingers curling around Kent’s own.
“I assumed he hadn’t told you then. He’d been threatening to do it, but you know what Miles is like, when it comes to us he’s all bark.”
“There’s a bit more than bark to him,” Kent muttered and Chandler squeezed at his hand.
“His heart is in the right place,” he defended. “And he’s not wrong. This could ruin us if- if there was an us.”
Kent sucked in a deep breath. “You’re not- you’re not mad then?”
“How could I be?” Chandler asked, as if the whole thing was as simple as that. Kent sucked in another breath, feeling shuddery and too-hot.
“I would never have acted on my feeling for you though,” Chandler admitted. “No more than I’ve already allowed myself to show them.”
Kent didn’t know if he wanted to run away or throw himself into Chandler’s arms. It was still on the side of too-dark in the room, their words half-whispered in the darkness and Kent could almost believe this entire conversation was some feverish dream his mind had conjured up to torment him.
“Why?” he whispered and Chandler smiled, lifting his hand to kiss at his knuckles.
“Because I’m not entirely convinced you don’t just feel this way about me because of the way I’ve been there for you, because I’ve- because I’ve somehow manipulated the way you feel about me since that day I came to see you in the hospital.”
“No,” Kent breathed out, his fingers now clutching urgently at Chandlers. “You haven’t. I’ve felt how I feel about you since the moment we met.” He ducked his head. “Sort of. I- it’s- I do feel more for you now, and it is because of how you’ve been there for me, but… but I’ve always- always- wanted you.”
“Emerson,” and Chandler was pushing up into his space, his other hand coming up to cup at his jaw.
A hotness ran through him then, thundering his heart and drying his mouth. “I- Joe-,” he didn’t finish, didn’t wait for Chandler to make the next move.
Throwing it all to the wind, Kent leant in.
He felt the puff of warm air against his lips as he held his mouth an inch away from Chandler’s before he pushed in, pressed their mouths together and moved his lips across Chandler’s in a kiss.
- - -
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