head hung low ();
Whitechapel | series: 37 stitches to keep the pain in;
Joseph Chandler/Emerson Kent;
Written for the whitechapel_itv kinkmeme: Chandler holds Kent’s hand at McCormack’s funeral.
The rain started midway through the service; a light drizzling that was quick to worsen, falling heavy and loud against a silence broken only by the metered rumblings from the priest conducting the service, and the occasional sob of grief from those gathered.
Chandler squinted against the downpour as movement to his right caught his attention. He watched as a man quickly unfurled an umbrella and lifted it up over McCormack’s wife, though she didn’t seem to notice, her eyes fixed on the casket before her. Her daughters were crowded close to her, their faces buried against their mother’s coat, the sounds of their stifled anguish enough to bring a wetness to his own eyes that couldn’t entirely be blamed on the rain.
No one else made a move to stay dry, choosing instead to hunch their shoulders and bow their heads a little further. Chandler barely felt the cool trickling of water as it found its way down the back of his neck. What was a little rain in the face of such loss?
McCormack’s funeral was an expectedly sombre affair. A large turn out of friends, family and most of the force from the Whitechapel Police Department. He had been a popular man in life, and even with his betrayal brought to light, he hadn’t lost the respect or friendships he’d built up over the years. Sadly, Chandler had heard rumours proclaiming McCormack a braver man for choosing death over further perfidy, but they were easily dismissed. He liked to think that no one would have wished him dead, his family broken apart with this unbearable loss and sadness.
He wished McCormack had come to him first, before he’d decided that the only way out was through death. He’d said something of the like to Miles-- Miles who now stood, grey faced and stoic, cradling his wife against his chest-- only to be shot down by Miles’ own barrage of grief and self-blame. Miles was his DS, had known McCormack for years longer, they were practically family by now- all of them- spending their working weeks together and sometimes their leisure time too.
But he hadn’t. Gone to Miles. Or Chandler. He’d taken the matter into his own hands and with his own hands he’d forged the knot that ended his life.
What had they done wrong? What should they have done differently? What could they have done to stop McCormack from ending his life?
And if McCormack hadn’t been the mole, would they still be standing here, mourning another comrade who’d seen no other way out of a bad situation?
Chandler found himself instinctively flicking his eyes to his left where Kent stood, his head hung low and his shoulders trembling beneath the dark coat he wore. He couldn’t tell if Kent was crying or just shivering under the onslaught of rain. He frowned, mouth twisting with upset.
Out of everyone, including himself and Miles with their guilt and unanswerable questions, Kent seemed to be the most affected by McCormack’s death.
Or perhaps Chandler was just more aware of Kent’s grief over anyone else’s.
He couldn’t stop thinking that if it hadn’t been McCormack, it would have been Kent. Almost had been, if his accusations had never been proven false. Kent had all but confessed the same thing to him not long after their reconciliation at Buchan’s house.
“I just can’t help but wish it were me, sir.” He’d said, with his head bowed and his fingers clenched so tightly together upon the table between them his knuckles strained white. “That you were right and I was the mole. Then maybe McCormack would still be here.”
“Kent-,” Chandler hadn’t been able to hide the distress in his voice over that admittance.
It had just been Kent and himself and a bottle of gin between them. Neither of them should have been drinking but neither of them had been able to sleep and Buchan had run out of milk for tea hours ago. It had seemed the thing to do gone past three in the morning.
Kent looked up at him then, biting at his cheek. Self-conscious but not ashamed.
“Where would you be?” He’d asked, heart thumping, trying not to imagine the weight of Kent’s lifeless body in his arms instead of McCormack’s. “If it were you, where would you be now?”
“I don’t know, sir.” He’d admitted, eyes leaving Chandler’s.
Chandler had reached across the table then, folding his hand over the clasp of Kent’s own. “I’m glad it wasn’t you, Emerson.”
Just remembering that conversation was enough to send a shiver of worry through Chandler and he found himself wishing that he could just reach over and…
And why couldn’t he?
He looked to his left again, where Kent still stood with his head hung low, a hand sneaking its way out of his coat pocket to wipe at the rain- tears?- running down his face. He felt his heart twist and drew his hand out of the relative dryness of his own jacket pocket, his fingers flexing a moment before he reached out and touched timidly at the back of Kent’s hand before he could slip it away again.
Kent lifted his head at the touch, looking first to Chandler’s hand then to his face.
The touch was only meant to be fleeting, just a quick reassurance, but when he saw the redness to Kent’s eyes and watched the way he tried to curl his lips into some semblance of a smile to acknowledge the gesture… Well. It was just so reminiscent of that night in the hospital, just as heartbreaking, that Chandler couldn’t help but slide his hand round to grasp at Kent’s own.
He turned back to the service, but kept his hold loose enough for Kent to withdraw, and after a few seconds of touching Kent shifted his grip enough that Chandler thought he would. Instead, Kent twisted his hand, twining their fingers together and squeezing lightly as their hands settled together once more.
He squeezed back, drawing their joined hands into the pocket of his jacket as though it were the most natural thing in the world.
The rain began to ease as the service drew to a close; the priest’s voice tapering off with the last of the prayers. Chandler closed his eyes momentarily, offering up his own prayer just as the people around them began to disperse. Kent shifted at his side.
“You okay?” He asked, softly, turning towards Kent who nodded his assent.
Chandler squeezed at his hand, drawing Kent’s gaze up to meet his own. He didn’t ask again, but Kent half-sighed, half-smiled as if he had.
“I will be,” He promised. The almost smile was quick to fade from his face as he flicked his eyes back towards the casket.
Chandler stepped closer then and Kent turned into the closeness, leaning himself against Chandler without further encouragement. His head found is place against the crook of Chandler’s neck; his nose was cold and his hair was dripping wet, but it was where he fit, where he belonged.
It was natural then to turn his head against Kent’s, to press his lips in a kiss to his temple and then hold them there as if… as if this was where he fit, where he belonged.