A/N. This was going to be a one shot deal, but…

Here you all go! You know I own nothing? Please review!

What Friends Do

Aragorn frowned at the parchment before him. It was a building permit in the first circle, but his mind was not on it.

Troll was snoring before the fire, his paws twitching and lips curling as he fought and hunted in his doggy dreams. No doubt he had finally managed to get that pesky kitchen cat. But the king's mind was not on him, either.

It was on the dark head bowed over the desk to his right. Faramir had been there since before Aragorn had arrived at two hours after dawn, and it was now noon. He had not spoken once, save to rise, bow, and murmur, "Good morning, my Liege."

That was all. 'Good morning, my liege.' After all that had happened the night before, 'good MORNING, my LIEGE'?

"Ahem." Aragorn cleared his throat. Faramir ignored him, continuing to write, his clear handwriting covering page after page.

"Ah-HEM!" Aragorn coughed again, and Faramir swallowed hard, staring at his paper. His hands were sweating.

"M-my lord?" Faramir raised his head and looked at Aragorn's chin. He could not bring himself to look his friend in the eyes; not after last night. Not after he had seen him so weak, so pitiful! He didn't want to see the loathing in the King's eyes.

Who wouldn't loathe him, after seeing him cut himself? After seeing him weep? What pathetic weakness!

How was he to explain that he almost never cut himself? That it was only the fifth or so time ever that he had done it, and that he only did it when it hurt too badly to endure…

"Faramir, for pity's' sake, look me in the eye, man!" Aragorn said.

'Faramir, for goodness' sake, don't hang your head so, look me in the eye, boy!' Faramir shook his head, and looked his King in the eye as requested.

"There. That's better." Aragorn smiled, oblivious to the fact that there was ink on his fingers, cheeks, and forehead, and also his nose! Faramir sighed and stood up. His knees protested a little, as always. The price one paid for being an aging soldier.

"My lord, please spit on your handkerchief and make use of it on your face. You look like a speckled dog!" Faramir couldn't help but grin. Aragorn smiled, and did as requested.

"Better?" he asked a moment later.

"Give it me. You missed a spot." Faramir scrubbed at the King's face ruthlessly for a moment, and then stepped back. "There. Done."

"Thank you, my friend." Aragorn said. Faramir dipped his head in response. "We need to talk." Again the dark head dipped, and the green eyes sought the floor.

"We do."

Aragorn stood up and went before the fire. It was bitterly cold out, but inside by the fire it was not so bad. "Warm your hands." Aragorn said. "They must be cold. I know mine are."

Faramir stepped a little closer to the fire, but he did not look at it. He kept his eyes on Aragorn's face as he warmed his hands, and then stepped back again to lean against his desk.

"How can I help you?"

There was the question Faramir was dreading, yet longing for.

But what was the answer?

"I do not know, Aragorn." Faramir sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I just don't know what you can do." He looked at his hand in silence. "Or even if there is anything you can do." He looked back at the King. "It's not like it's a habit or anything."

"Come to the fire again." Aragorn said quietly. Faramir stepped up, and his eyes were questioning. "Take off your shirt." Aragorn commanded. "Let me see." Faramir grimaced, feeling the muscles in his shoulder protest as he first pulled the outer robes off, then his tunic, and then the mail underneath, and then the light shirt underneath that. Aragorn's warm hand pressed on his uninjured shoulder. "Sit."

Faramir sat.

Aragorn took his right arm between his hands, looking at it carefully, tracing the white scars on it, and then did the same with his left. Last he looked at Faramir's belly and ribs. Wordlessly he tapped Faramir's leg, raising an eyebrow as he looked at the younger man. Faramir raised one shoulder, and then said, "Once, long ago." Aragorn nodded, walking to the desk, and again he saw a piece of paper that was not an army requisition slip.

In my room, I hear the echoes of a recent battle.

Lost and wounded as the voices begin to settle- for the night.

But the words you use to hurt me now,

Only seem to make me strong somehow,

A revolution is now! Aragorn frowned.

The second verse to that song…

"I can see it is not a habit, which is good. So much the easier for us to deal with! Faramir... this song. How does it end?" Faramir smiled.

"I will tell you someday. Not today." Aragorn stepped back, helping Faramir who was struggling with his mail. It had gotten stuck on his elbow, and would not roll down, and so his arm was bent into a very uncomfortable position. Aragorn finally ended up grabbing it in both hands and pulling, with Faramir braced against the desk.

On the last tug, the mail came down, but Faramir also came with it, and he landed atop the King. They lay on the floor, laughing at the ridiculous situation.

Faramir snickered. "What would the council think?" Aragorn grinned.

"More importantly, what would Arwen and Eowyn think? Most important, what would they say?" Faramir shuddered at the thought as he got up and pulled Aragorn to his feet.

"Death." He chuckled, his eyes sparkling wickedly. "Definitely."

"Mmm, Arwen would just send me on a diplomatic mission to the dwarves."

"My lady is far more merciful." Faramir smirked, and Aragorn cuffed him lightly, laughing. Faramir was suddenly sober, and he looked at the King silently, all of the naughtiness gone from his eyes.

"What?" Aragorn asked.

"That is how you can help." Faramir said.


"Just be there."

Aragorn swallowed against the lump in his throat. "I'll always be here for you, Fara." He whispered. "Always." Faramir hugged Aragorn tightly, and the king could hear him snuffling back tears.

"Do not promise me that." Faramir choked. "Because it is a lie."

"No, it's not!" Aragorn pulled back, looking down into Faramir's face. "I will be here for you! It's what friends do for friends!"

"I fear that I am not as good a friend as I ought to be." Faramir murmured. "Always being such a bother and fuss."

"Well, you're a good bother! And ANYTHING is better than reading this fussy stuff!" Aragorn laughed, thumbing through his stack of files.

Faramir smiled at him. "I just hope before our end I can give you a gift as great as the one you have gifted me."

"And what is Troll? Elrond's potion?" Faramir shook his head, laughing as Troll stood between them, his tongue lolling as he stared at the door.

"Well, I think 'Elrond's potion' needs to go out for a royal wee-wee!" Still laughing, they went out into the frozen garden with Troll, and watched him play in the deep snow for an hour, and joining some children in a game of snow wars.

Because that's what friends do.