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It really is a lovely little town, the fresh air, the open fields, and the kind neighbors all made living there a calming experience. The only thing that could improve life in Kembleford for Inspector Aristide Valentine would be having someone to enjoy it with, and maybe a good pint at the local pub. And since he cannot magically summon a partner, a beer will have to do. Valentine wearily made his way down the lane to The Red Lion. Sighing, he collapsed onto a stool as he tossed his hat on the bar and signaled for a pint.

“Long day, Inspector?” Sidney Carter jokes from a few seats over.

“Quite. Don’t make it longer.”

“Oh don’t be like that, you look like you need a good drinking partner. As the one that’s dragged me off this stool before, you know that I’m very qualified for the position.” Carter insists with a sly wink and a nudge on the shoulder as he moved to sit next to Valentine.

“You’re making quite the argument for someone that’s probably been here for the last hour,” Valentine says as he motions for another pint. “First round’s on me.” Sid shrugs and takes a swig of the pint when it reaches him.

“Whatever floats your boat, Inspector.”

Three rounds later and both men are less cognizant than they started out, Inspector Valentine being considerably more so than Sidney.

“I juss don’ undersstand women” he slurs as Sid helps him out of the bar.

“Nobody does Inspector, ‘cept for the women themselves.” Carter consoles as they stumble down the path towards the Inspector’s house. It’s not a long walk but both are having trouble walking in a straight line which makes the distance seem longer.

“No, no, nooo not like that, I mean why women?” Valentine seems to be getting more agitated with every passing second the Sid doesn’t understand.

“Mate, what are you talking about? Why women what?” That doesn’t help matters because Valentine just goes back to muttering about how he doesn’t understand. They’ve finally reached Valentine’s door but the man doesn’t seem to notice, he’s gripping Sidney’s shoulder like it’s the only thing holding him up, and at the moment it probably is. Sid starts rifling through Valentine’s jacket pocket, trying to ignore the muscles he feels while doing so. Eventually, he finds the key and fumbles it into the lock. As he tries to get both of them into the house, Valentine trips on the stoop and sends both of them crashing onto the foyer floor. Valentine ends up on top and Sid freezes at the realization that he kind of wants to stay right there. But the moment doesn’t last and the inspector rolls off and stumbles into his living room.

“Okay well, I’ll just leave you here then,” Sid says softly, more to himself than to Valentine. The Inspector was obviously very drunk and would do well to just sleep it off and forget any part of the tenuous friendship that had begun to form. Sid starts for the door, trying to salvage any remaining part of his roguish reputation.

“Stay… please,” comes a quiet plea from the living room. Sid has never heard Valentine sound so broken, not even Sidney Carter with all his walls up could walk away from a voice like that. Sid moves as quietly as possible, scared that Valentine will change his mind and throw him out, it wouldn’t be the first time someone’s done it. The inspector has sprawled out on the couch with his eyes closed, one leg kicked up and dangling over the arm. The room is sparsely furnished and sitting on either of the chairs feels wrong so Sid drops onto the floor and leans back against the other arm of the couch.

“So… what’s all this about not understanding women?” Valentine shifts his head at the sound and suddenly Sid registers just how close they are.

“I don’ have a problem with ‘em, I jus don get how to love ‘em like that.” He turns back to stare at the ceiling and Sid lets out a small breath of relief. He should not, can not, be having thought like that about a police officer. It’s just too dangerous.

“Like what?”

“You know, like you do.”

“Maybe you just haven’t found the right woman yet.” At this Valentine rolls over completely, facing the younger man on the floor. The glance at his lips is so obvious but Sid still writes it off as drunkenness or confusion. After all, there is no way that a police officer, an Inspector no less, would be looking at his lips.

“I don’t think I ever will.” And with that, Valentine leans forward and gently kisses Sidney Carter on the lips.

As soon as the kiss started it was over and Sid would have leaned forward for more if he hadn’t been so stunned.

“Oh shit.” Valentine sat up, seemingly sobered by his actions. For a while, they just stared at each in shock then Sid’s brain rebooted and he climbed up onto the couch to continue what they had started. When the two finally resurfaced for air, all Valentine could say was, “But, women?”

At that, Sid rolls his eyes, stands up, and stretches, “Why not both, Val?” Then with a small grin, he heads back home to his caravan to reconsider his opinion on policemen.