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What Are Friends For?

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John paused at the gate that stood in the break in the stone wall, hand hesitating over the gate latch, like it always did when he got to the countryside home that he and Phil had bought when they wanted to be on leave.

They had gotten it for a song, as it were, in desperate need of a good fix, and it had been their project.

But...the little house in the countryside had always been Phil's. Didn't matter that they had bought it on their Army Ranger pay to just have someplace not the base to live, that little house with the wraparound porch, had always been Phil's.

He was used to staring at it, wondering how he had ever thought it could be his too.

"It looks better up close," a voice stated and he turned to face Phil, who had used the 'no-we-are-not-teleporting' trick they had perfected together.

"You must terrify everyone in the office with that trick," he stated, with a smile, his brogue rolling easily through the air before he looked back. His eyes easily found the orchard that every family had written permission to come and pick what they wanted from it. If they were around, Phil made apple pies and apple crisp, and other apple related food things that were heavenly.

Phil let him look and his eyes fell on the small stables that stood there. "I see you got around to fixing the stables," John stated.

"I got around to a lot of things," Phil answered and then reached forward, carefully opening the gate before stepping through.

The path had stones laid into it, if only because otherwise it would have been a mud river and Phil began to walk up to the porch. John followed and he shut the gate behind him, easily catching up with Phil.

“Where is Sarah?” John asked.

“Inside, with Victoria. Victoria has been…hovering, lately,” Phil answered, pausing on the porch.

John stayed a step down. He towered over Phil, easily having six inches on the smaller man, and he had a feeling that he shouldn’t be doing any hovering. “Why did you invite me out here, Phil?” he asked.

John had offered, after the marriage, to sign over his half of the ownership, but Phil had refused, insisting that it was John’s house too. It was his place to escape, but…well, John could never have told him that it wasn’t so.

“Sarah’s pregnant,” Phil stated and John beamed, clapping his hands on Phil’s shoulders.

“That’s wonderful Phil! Congratulations!” he exclaimed before pulling the man into a hug.

“If I was in the Army or the Rangers still, yes it would be wonderful news,” Phil corrected and John released him.

“What do you mean?” John asked.

“John, I already have enemies with near unlimited resources gunning for my hide. If…if they ever discover Sarah, or the baby…they’ll never be safe. I was stupid and I’ve now put those I love in danger,” he answered.

John let out a low growl and gently shook the man. “Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare start thinking like that! We always talked about what we would do later, and youalways described a family! Don’t you dare regret that you got what you wanted! Don’t you dare!” he ordered, using everything he had to order the man in front of him, his friend and compatriot, to get him to realize that he was being stupid and that it wasn’t allowed.

Phil looked up at him and gave a nod. “Okay, Lieutenant,” he retorted.

“Not lieutenant anymore. I’ve been promoted since we parted,” John answered.

“You’ll always be ‘John’ or ‘Lieutenant’ to me. And ‘Hannibal’ when I’m angry with you,” Phil answered and gave him a smile.

“Let’s get inside. Sarah wants to know what you contributed to the house,” Phil answered.

For the first time, when John walked through the door, he felt like he was coming home.