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Derailed

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Everyone knows that the baby is going to be called 'Jo'.

His wife - his beautiful healthy wife - hadn't even questioned it. Yes; Joseph Chandler had become an unlikely friend to Miles, but there’s more it than that. Chandler almost destroyed his own career in order to save Miles’s life. If not for that there'd be no baby at all.

The only debate then is which way they'll go on the name itself. ‘Joanna’? (Kent’s suggestion.) ‘Josephine’? (Buchan’s godawful suggestion.) Or, God forbid, ‘Jolene’? (Riley had better have been taking the piss with that one.) Miles is keeping the decision to himself, let the nosy buggers that he calls colleagues go hang.

But it’s a strange reminder that no one can be sure of what their future holds. Three years ago he had his life mapped out all the way to retirement. When Joe had come into their lives, he'd been barely a blip on Miles's radar.

Since then he'd seen crimes that he had never, in his heart of hearts, ever expected to see outside of horror movies. He'd lost good friends for stupid reasons. 

He’s now spending his evenings browsing through a baffling array of prams on eBay. It just goes to show – not all of the alterations are bad. 

Did the others, the ones who share the offices and the crimes scenes with him every day, did they have their own little patterns mapped out in their minds? Holidays, children, anniversaries, promotions - all the things they fully expected to come to them in the end? Perhaps even Buchan whiled away time imagining an adoring public queuing up for Victorian themed lecture tours in his old age.

It was odd that Joe seemed so certain of his future. After all, he’d already had his plans derailed in a big way. He'd jumped into a whole new career and abandoned the posh dinners and old boys club to get his hands dirty (metaphorically speaking) on the streets.

How could he be so assured of a life doomed to loneliness? Did he think the perfect relationships appeared in life fully formed? Mile had thought Judy’s hair looked like a poodle when he first met her - and she'd said his taste in music was rubbish. They spent their first six months of marriage screaming themselves hoarse at each other. Relationships took work, and love took…  everything you had.

He was pulled out of his reverie by Kent, who Miles had barely noticed moving about amongst the shadowy desks. Kent was looking embarrassed and was clutching a wastepaper bin.

"Sorry to interrupt sir. I thought everyone had gone home. Well. Except..."

He jerked his head towards the softly glowing office in front of them. Miles could almost see the lad's eyes straining not to linger on the blonde head just visible beyond the glass.

"Don't you have somewhere better to be?" Miles sighed.

Kent  shrugged.

"Not really."

Now that was an answer to get a copper interested. Noncommittal, over-vague, and with just a hint of guilt.

Miles had no choice but to place the accusation on the suspect.

"Nothing to do with His Nibs still being here then?"

Another shrug.

"Or why you're tidying this place to his specifications?"

A third shrug. Kent picked an empty Fanta can off the desk and dropped it into the bin along with a handful of sweet wrappers.

"Saves him having to do it, I suppose." Again, the tone was noncommittal.

Kent's plans for his future must have been through the wringer a bit by now too. He'd certainly overcome Miles's expectations. The kid had a tendency to get a bit weepy and had been a bit impressionable… but he'd stuck out some of the worst murder scenes London had to offer. He'd been tortured.

Did he still have the same plans he'd started with? Sure, the idealism must have been knocked from him by now, but every copper had their dreams.

"Where do you see yourself in ten years Kent?"  he asked.

Kent paused from where he'd been faffing around unwinding a phone cord. The question must have come from nowhere.

"I dunno. Same as everyone else I guess."

"Kent if you give me one more vague piece of shit..." Miles threatened. “Look, I’ve had some pretty big news today and I’m curious. Humour me.”

Kent paused. Then shrugged again - though this time he looked Miles in the eyes as he did it. "I don't really know, sir. I'm fine with things staying as they are for a bit."

And there it was… the eyes never lied. They'd touched on that door and that oblivious blonde head for just a moment too long.

Over the last three years Kent had gone from trainers and jeans to the sharpest suits you could afford on a DC's salary. His desk - once covered in chocolate smudges - could probably win the Joseph Chandler Award for Excessive Shininess. They'd all taken the piss of his imitations of Joe and the way he'd followed him around like a puppy - but Kent had slipped his bosses habits on as easily as if they'd always been his.

Miles would bet money Kent hadn't seen that one coming any more than he'd expected to be welcoming a new girl into the world.

"Fair enough," he said mildly. "I'll be off soon."

Kent nodded and left him to gather his stuff together.

Joe thought he was doomed to loneliness because no one could handle his quirks. Meanwhile someone outside his office there was someone tidying it up so he wouldn't have to.

Miles waved an absent minded goodbye.

Of course, he wasn't stupid enough to speculate on the changes to their lives that might soon come about… but he was pretty sure they were both going to be thrown off course.


End.