Forty-five – 05

[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]

I didn’t say anything—I didn’t have to. J.T. was right, or at the very least I needed him to be. Thom would be fine, somehow. J.T. would see to that, no matter what it took. They were as close as brothers could be and he’d never give up on Thom, not while there was even the barest shred of hope—and for J.T., there would always be a bare shred of hope.

I exhaled a sigh and leaned into his embrace, forcing myself to relax. He squeezed me again, gently, rubbing my arm lightly.

“C’mon,” he said quietly. “Let’s go start breakfast, huh? I could use some coffee. What about you?”

“I wouldn’t say no to it,” I said quietly.

“Didn’t think so,” J.T. said with a faint smile. He started to steer me toward the cookfires, keeping his stride short enough to match mine. I leaned against him, maybe more than I should have, but the contact helped—it was somehow reassuring. Somehow, it felt safe.

He was quiet for a few minutes as we walked, but as we got closer to our destination, he glanced down at me. “This really has you more messed up than usual, doesn’t it?”

“It’s just been a lot of stuff lately,” I said. “That’s all. A lot all at once.”

“Yeah, but you’ve handled a lot all at once before. This feels different.”

I couldn’t find the words to tell him he was wrong—maybe because it wasn’t. He was right. There was something different about all of it this time, but even I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Instead, I just shrugged and shifted Lin slightly in my arms. He startled a little, yawned, then closed his eyes. I watched him for a few seconds, then sighed.

“I don’t know what it is,” I said. “Just that it’s something and I can’t seem to shake it.”

“Will you let me try to help?”

I choked on a quiet laugh. “As soon as I figure out how you can do that, Jay, you’ll be the first to know. I promise.”

He shot me a crooked smile. “Well, that’s something. Hash browns and eggs?”

“Sounds great,” I said as we got nearer to the cookfires. “I’ll make the coffee.”

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