Kent didn't tell anyone about the voices because they weren't real. They weren't real. And even if he thought otherwise, he wouldn't let the boss hear about it, not from him and not from anyone. Just the other day he went off on Miles, on Miles of all people, just for joking about the prophetic nature of the slip of paper he pulled out of a fortune cookie.
Not telling anyone didn't make them go away, though. They came when he was alone, always alone, an indistinct murmuring from somewhere nearby. He could catch a word or two, sometimes, but nothing more than that.
At first he thought it was a prank, but no one in the squad would be that cruel, not anymore. The one time he thought someone else might've heard, that he could get confirmation, he turned to ask and caught only the back of Buchan's head as he left the incident room. He didn't dare ask after that, espeically not of the one person who would almost certainly share the information with the whole team.
Kent was very tired of spending his time feeling a little bit mad. Edgy. Even more irritable than the boss.
"What?" he snapped when his mobile rang, without so much as checking to see who it was. He already knew anyway.
"And hello to you too," said Erica.
"Not a good time."
"Never is with you anymore," said Erica, "but I'm not going to let that stop me from inviting you to dinner with us."
"Because you know how much I enjoy being a fifth wheel. Thanks loads. Really."
"Because if you come, then so will Cristina's flatmate Tom, and you know you fancy him. I've seen you looking." Cristina's flatmate was fit, no doubt about it, and Kent had been hung up on one person so long that even him just noticing that was probably a sign. Maybe he should go. Maybe he should see what happened.
Then the voices came again. He swatted round his head as though that might disperse the noise but it persisted, words he was sure he could understand if only he listened a little harder.
"Tonight's not a good night."
"That's all right, because the dinner's tomorrrow," she said cheerfully. "And just so you don't come up with a clever excuse between now and then, I've got someone keeping an eye on you."
"I'll just bet you do," said Kent. "Can I think about it?"
"I'll just assume that's a yes," said Erica. "I've already made the reservation." Of course she had, because that was just what Erica did. The voice around him—above him?—seemed to take malicious glee in it. "Are you still at work?"
"Just on my way out," he said, because that was a conversation he really didn't want to have right now. "I'll call you tomorrow, yeah?"
"If you don't, you know I will," she said. "Love you, Ems."
"Yeah, love you too," he muttered, with a grudging smile all the same, and thumbed an end to the call.
He was going to get to the bottom of those voices if it killed him. Which it just might, because getting to the bottom of them seemed to mean leaping up onto his desk and reaching for the ceiling. It was the quickest way to his destination, if not the smartest, and Kent was going to do something a lot more drastic if it lasted much longer.
"What on earth are you doing?"
Chandler's voice almost made Kent lose his balance, which would have just figured.
"I was just...the light was flickering."
"And you thought you'd get a closer look to be sure?" said Chandler. "The lights are always flickering. One of the many charms of the building."
Emerson sighed. "I think there might be something up there, but I can't quite reach," he admitted. The voices had fallen silent now, of course. But they'd been there, and they weren't some kind of mystical experience, no matter that only Kent ever seemed to hear them.
Chandler eyed him up for a moment, and just when Kent was getting ready to step down off his desk in humiliation, he pulled a chair closer and took the two steps up to join him there.
"Maybe I can help," he said. "Show me."
There was nothing to be done for it now. Kent stretched upward again, and pointed up above the light where he thought he saw something. "Right there," he said. "That doesn't belong."
"Maybe," said Chandler. "I'm not sure I see anything."
But he reached up all the same, and for his trouble got a waft of dust and dead insects onto his crisp, white shirt. Kent watched in horror, even more horror than Chandler, and reached out to try to brush it off. He succeeded in two things: grinding the dirt in deeper, and caressing Chandler's chest, neither of which were what he intended. And yet he stopped only when Chandler caught his wrist.
"It's fine," he said, his voice carefully controlled. "I just need to..." He gestured away with his other hand, then slowly unwrapped his fingers from Kent's wrist and stepped down off the desk again, striding purposefully towards his office.
He wasn't invited, but Kent followed anyway. Because this was his fault, and he needed to...apologise. Explain. Something.
Chandler knew he was there, even though he had his back to the door. The door that had been left open. He was unbuttoning his shirt, and Kent carefully looked away.
"Whatever it was, I didn't get it," he said, conversationally, as though he weren't stripping down in front of Kent.
"I don't know what it was."
"But you surely had some idea," said Chandler. "We're none of us schoolboys in here. We don't climb onto the furniture for spurious reasons."
"I thought I heard something," he admitted finally. He might have been able to come up with a convenient lie, but he wouldn't. Not to Chandler. "I've been hearing things."
"Voices," said Kent, forging ahead all the same. "At least, I think they're voices. It's hard to be sure. Something that ought not be there, anyway, and I know it's not all in my head so I finally went looking for the source. Thought there might be a little speaker, up in the lights where nobody'd look. Not much reason to look up in there ordinarily, is there. Not very pretty."
"You've been hearing voices."
Kent winced. "In manner of speaking."
"You heard voices," Chandler repeated, "and assumed there had to be a speaker?"
"Well, yes," said Kent. "What else would it be?" Of course, the possibilities had come to mind—how could they not, after everything they'd been through—but he'd never taken any of them seriously. Everyone else might've been quick to voice their supernatural suspicions, but Kent knew better than that.
His fresh shirt still unbuttoned, Chandler turned and stepped right in front of him, pressed one hand to either side of Kent's face, then, when Kent didn't move, hardly even breathed, he leaned in and pressed a firm kiss to his lips.
"Perhaps you oughtn't call me that right now," said Chandler, with a tiny little smile. The kind he meant. "I..." He dropped his hands, took a step away again, then started buttoning his shirt, maybe just so he'd have something to do with them. "I may have overstepped."
"I may have."
"If you did, I did," said Kent. "And I'm not sorry."
Chandler smiled again, looking down at his fingers as they fastened the very last button, straightened his collar. "No," he said. "Nor am I."
"If I might..." Kent started, then cleared his throat and tried again. "Seems to me we have a long-overdue drink, if you were still interested."
"You don't want to have another go at that speaker?"
Kent looked back over his shoulder, but he couldn't see where they'd been looking. He wondered if anything had ever been there at all, if it had just been his wishful thinking that it would be so easily solved. Maybe it was in the ceiling, or the floor, or somewhere in the ductwork. But somewhere.
"It'll keep," he said.
"I just need to freshen up," said Chandler. He needed to wash, Kent understood after a moment. He had a fresh shirt on, but he still wasn't clean. "Meet me by the front doors?"
"Of course," said Kent. It probably wasn't the right thing to say, overeager in his way, but it felt natural all the same. Of course he would meet Chandler by the doors. Of-bloody-course he would. He'd only been wanting to forever. He supposed this meant he would be cancelling that dinner with his sister tomorrow, and couldn't bring himself to feel sorry about that either.
When Chandler slipped out, Kent shut doors and turned off lights behind him. When he was leaving the incident room he thought he heard whispers from somewhere behind him, but like he told Chandler, they'd keep.
Some things would be there when you were ready. Kent liked to think he was one of them.