by MMW

Part of The Friendship Collection

Pulling up his driveway, Chris felt some of the tension drain from him at the sight of five cars already waiting at his house.

The team had just completed three grueling weeks at work and Chris had just completed a six-hour meeting with Travis. Normally the meeting would have been the easiest part of his day, but since it didn’t start until four in the afternoon and Larabee had already put in a full day before hand, he only longed to be with his friends and forget the concerns and worries of the world for a time.

Pulling into the spot the others had reserved for him, Chris shifted his vehicle into park and shut off the truck. With a heavy sigh, he leaned forward and rested his head on the steering wheel as stress gave way to exhaustion. He was looking forward to spending some time with his friends. Whatever they seemed to get up to, even if it was sitting around watching a game, seemed to leave the blond feeling relaxed and reenergized.

As he sat up, he smiled and looked heavenward, sending a quick thank you to whoever might be listening for putting these men in his life.

With the smile still lighting his face, Chris stepped into the house through the mudroom, hung up his jacket and took off his boots.

Stepping into the kitchen, he froze at the scene that met him, unable to trust what he was seeing.

When six sets of guilt-filled eyes continued to look at him, he eventually felt his disbelief give way to wonder.

Scanning the room, he caught sight of Josiah and JD standing over by the sink, the faucet and handles missing and water spraying upward in a fountain. The large wrench in the older man’s hands did little to alleviate the doubt in Chris’ mind.

Moving around to the next tableau, he saw Buck and Nathan apparently playing tug-of-war with a tray of fresh-baked cookies, Nathan covered in a thick layer of flour and Buck with raw egg running down his face and hair, obviously from the broken shell that still rested on the top of his head.

Looking to his right, he spotted Vin standing, by the blender coated in a thick, pink froth. The steady movement of a clump of what must be strawberry ice cream slowly slid down the side of his face, hung on his jaw for one moment and then fell to the ground with a gentle plopping noise.

Seeking out the final member of his team, Larabee’s mouth opened and closed several times before giving up on trying to formulate the question uppermost in his mind.

Ezra’s green eyes stared back at the stunned blond out of a face splattered with the remains of beans, corn and squash. His normally dapper clothes reflected poor use. There were remnants of pink glop on one of the sleeves and what could only be burn marks along the other. The undercover agent was obviously still wet and his black slacks were spotted with clumps of wet flour.

His eyes demanding what his voice would not utter, Chris waited for an explanation.

The other six exchanged glances before Ezra finally cleared his throat. “Mr. Larabee, Chris,” he said. “At this moment, my friend, I can only think of the words of Katherine Mansfield who said, ‘I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing’.”

Chris stared at the man a moment longer and simply nodded. His eyebrows rose and a smile tugged at his lips. Explanations may not be necessary, but he had a feeling it would be one heck of a story. “Alright,” he agreed. “Let’s just get this cleaned up.”

With that said, he took a step forward. Somehow, he hadn’t seen the succotash that was on the floor and, when his foot hit a patch, he slid forward, arms flailing. At that point the inevitable happened and he fell down, sliding forward into the puddle of flour water. Coming to a stop, he sat looking up at Vin’s startled visage and opened his mouth to say something just as a large drop of strawberry milkshake fell from the ceiling and landed on his head.

The snickers that began with JD and Josiah soon enveloped the other five men until all seven were breathless with laughing and tears streamed down more than one face.

Holding his aching sides, Chris took another look around the room and couldn’t stop the joy that filled him. No explanations were necessary among friends, he thought, and certainly not among family.