Wing Man

Author's Note: The episode "Among the Few" (s02e02) contains some of my favorite moments of "Foyle's War", including Christopher Foyle's interaction with Rex Talbot. But since I have a thing for brothers-in-arms the whole "Rex loves Andrew" thing totally jumped out at me. I lost this on my hard-drive but simply had to finish it once I found it again.

Rex's death hit Andrew hard. Was no one safe in this bloody war? They'd grown up together, and while they'd seen less of each other while Andrew was at Oxford and Rex at Cambridge, they'd picked up right where they'd left off when they met again in the RAF. They relied on each other - for company, for laughs, and to keep one another alive in the air.

So when they'd returned to their shared room in the barracks after their first successful real battle, adrenaline still coursing through their veins, it was Andrew who embraced his friend fiercely, feeling elated and invincible. Rex grinned back at him, and suddenly something shifted between them, and Rex's lips were pressed against Andrew's. It was just a moment, then Rex jumped back, face chagrined. Andrew felt frozen to the spot, staring, still feeling chapped lips against his own.

"Shit, man, Andrew, I… I don't know what came over me!" There was real fear in Rex' eyes. "I get it if you want me to transfer, but please, please, don't report me!"

The panic in the familiar voice, usually so calm and cheerful in Andrew's ear when they were flying, even in the face of enemy fire, felt so unsettling, so wrong, that Andrew answered without even thinking about it: "Rex, Rex, no! I'd never report you, they'd court-martial you, I would never forgive myself." And, after a short pause: "And I can't imagine flying without you by my side, so no more talk about transfers, either."

The fear in Rex' face receded to be replaced by relieved disbelief. "Andrew Foyle, you… you are a marvel. There are not many guys who'd react like this to learning a friend of theirs was… an invert." He took a step closer but stopped himself abruptly as if he'd spook Andrew if he got too close.

There were two feet of air between them, and Andrew felt completely out of his depth. He'd heard of guys like that, of course, nancy boys, semi-secret clubs of flamboyant "artistic types" at university - not men like Rex Talbot, his friend, his wing man, a guy he trusted with his life on a regular basis.

"So… you've done this before? Kissed a guy, I mean?" It was not at all the question Andrew had planned on asking, and he immediately felt awkward all over again. Why the hell did he want to know? He should have just shrugged it off and they could have pretended it never happened.

It did cause Rex to look up in surprise from the spot on the ground he'd been staring at fixedly. Andrew could see a red flush move up from his neck, which probably answered his question already, but Rex cleared his throat: "Just. There was this one guy at university, and we kind of got… close. It just happened, and I guess I realized that this felt better than anything I'd ever done with a girl."

Andrew drew a shocked breath. So it had all been camouflage, the pretty girls at the dances and in town, and Andrew had never suspected. But then, sodomy was a criminal offense even in civilian life and doubly so in the military. Sodomy… The word alone made Andrew tense up uncomfortably. What had Rex been hiding from him, from all of them the whole time?

Rex was still looking at him and appeared to be able to read him as well as ever. "It's not as if I chose to be... like this, Andrew. And I swear to God, I haven't done anything since I enlisted. Flying, kicking Jerry ass is so much more important to me than any of that!"

Andrew nodded without hesitation. He didn't doubt Rex' word for one moment, because that was the man he knew, his childhood friend who volunteered for the RAF and worked his butt off to become one of the best pilots in the squadron.

"Rex, I can't say I understand why… why you… but I trust you, you're my buddy, and nothing has changed, okay?" Andrew looked straight into Rex' familiar eyes but could still see shadows of doubt lingering. So, without considering it, he did the only thing he could think of - he took a stop closer, grasped Rex' face in between his hands and kissed Rex.

It was only a brush of lips against lips, barely long enough to allow Andrew to feel the light stubble agains this palms and register how Rex went pliant against him before he moved back. He forced himself to smile: "See, now we're both guilty. I have your back and you have mine, just like always - right, Rex?"

And Rex nodded ruefully, rubbed a hand over his eyes and smiled back, almost his normal, charming Talbot grin. "You're… really something else, Foyle, you know that? I'd never want to serve with anyone else, you crazy bastard!"

They'd laughed, clapped each other on the back manfully, and proceeded to never mention it again. They had a war to fight, and Andrew knew he could always feel safe with his best friend by his side. Rex was always there, always right where Andrew needed him to be.

So what if, sometimes, when things got tough, Andrew let Rex hug him just that moment too long, allowed himself to sack against his friend's tall, strong body just for a minute or two? Comfort was hard to come by, with no bird really being able to understand what they went through during battle. And if Andrew suspected how Connie had gotten his photo, he sure as hell was not going to rat out his best friend, who was obviously distressed, no matter how real his relationship with Connie had been.

Except then Rex did not make it out of his plane for no reason that Andrew could see. It simply did not make sense, and he told his father as much, but what the hell made sense in this world anymore? Connie dead, he himself a murder suspect, and now Rex… For the first time Andrew was not sure anymore how much more of this he'd be able to take.

They were not as a rule physically demonstrative with each other, but when his father spoke with true warmth of Rex, Andrew could not help but cling to him. Christopher Foyle was the best judge of character his son knew, and his good opinion meant a lot to Andrew - even if in this case his father could not know how much.

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