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Silver Bells

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John stepped out of his car, staring up at the home he had with Phil and Sarah and their baby (he doesn't know the gender or name, not yet), and sometimes Victoria "Call me Peggy" Carson.

This is the home they built over a weekend back when Sarah had just learned she was pregnant. They had married so quickly, done everything fast, falling and twirling, and he can't really remember much about the bachelor party that he tried to throw for Phil, but he has a feeling he said or done something that had twisted Phil around and inside out.

He had woken up still a little buzzed, which told him how much he had to drink, and he wishes he remembered what had happened.

However, he knows that the baby just got back from the hospital recently, in the scheme of things, and Phil had to go on a mission and…

John is still riding the ‘jazz’ of the last mission, hasn’t wound down, and he knows Phil. Knows Phil’s job is more dangerous than that FUBAR mission that got them noticed. That he catapulted in the ranks through sheer determination and having the freakish ability to turn anything into a weapon.

Everyone thought he got impressive?

They missed Phil turning a room into a fog with all the flour he could get his hands on, missed the way he had coughed that out for days. He’s still riding high and he wonders how…

He stops when he sees Phil going through maneuvers that he probably shouldn’t be going through if the way he’s favoring his left leg is anything to go off of. It is wild and maniacal, twisting and turning, trying to burn off the high of his own mission, lost in whatever mistakes he thinks he made.

He is sure there will be scars, scars he’ll never be able to explain, to Sarah, except that he works for the government.

And he knows that, one day, Sarah will put together the pieces with the cover stories of SHIELD, and see Phil’s handiwork in them.

That shift of truth that means that it will work.

That no one will question it.

John watches Phil drive himself into exhaustion in the lightness of the Christmas lights when they click off and there is only pale moonlight.

Phil stops then, and turns, facing John.

“Bad week?” John questions softly.

“Bad year. Everything just keeps running over each other, trying to obliterate it all, and rip the world to shreds. I’m starting to think it isn’t worth it,” Phil answered softly and John steps into the yard.

“Would Captain America gave up?” John asked and Phil lets out a broken laugh.

He’s still too sharp and John knows how Phil would usually unwind, when they were both U.S. Army Rangers, won’t work now. He has a daughter and a wife and they can’t just run off to a bar and start a fight.

Sarah would kill him if he did.

Brutally.

That and he’s not sure if Phil will be able to pull his punches right now.

So, he thinks of the next best thing. “Spar with me,” he orders.

Phil tenses and looks at him.

Sliver of moon or not, John knows that look. He doesn’t have to see it to know, but he can, his eyes long adjusted to the dark.

“I can’t pull punches right now John,” Phil admits, and that has to kill him.

Phil hates admitting that he’s not able to be infallible. Hates admitting that he’s human when he has to be more. But John just drops his bag on the stone wall and answers, “We’ve never pulled them before.”

And that’s all it takes.

The sparring is quick and brutal. It ends with Phil on his back, pinned to the ground and John wonders how that happened, but they’ve both burned off the energy that was still rushing through them.

He stands up, unfolding and holds out a hand to Phil. The man, husband, father, grabs it and John easily hauls him to his feet.

He can hear how tired Phil is and he smiles, grabbing his bag.

“I need to get some sleep if I am going to meet your baby tomorrow,” John stated and Phil nods.

“Her name is Darcy Philippa Lewis. Don’t ask, I only had a say in the first name,” he answered and John wonders what else he’s done to try and keep this piece of home preserved.

John claps his hand on Phil’s shoulder and asks questions. Ignores the last name that screams what Phil gives up.

He heads to the room that is his on the second floor and wonders what else Phil will have to give up to have the very thing he has always wanted.

John always hated the Alphabet Soup of Government (Phil’s words, not his, but no one would ever believe that either of them had come up with it).

He’s starting to think that he hates SHIELD the most.