[This post is from Thom’s point of view.]
From the corner of his eye, Thom caught sight of J.T. watching and shook himself, taking a breath and forcing himself to relax. He scrubbed a hand over his face to hide the tears that had threatened, tears that had come not quite out of nowhere, but at least unexpectedly. J.T. quirked a brow and Thom gave a slight shake of his head.
Not now. Maybe later.
J.T. rolled his eyes and turned his attention to cracking eggs for a scramble. Thom leaned his head back and stared up, up at the roof of the tent above them, now stained dark with soot around the edges of the small gap they’d opened to let the smoke out.
“I have to come up with something better than this,” he murmured to himself.
“Better than what?” Marin asked softly. Thom closed his eyes and sighed.
“Just thinking again.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” she said, a trace of wry humor threading through the affection in her voice. He listened to the faint clink of ceramic as she got out mugs for their coffee. “But what was it you were thinking about?”
Another sigh escaped him and he shook his head, reaching a hand out toward her as his head lolled in her direction. Her brow furrowed slightly, but she stopped fixing coffee and came to him, her fingers sliding into his as she settled beside him, knees tucked against her chest.
“What’s wrong?” she asked quietly, resting her forehead against his temple. “Talk to me?”
“There’s just so much work to do,” he said quietly. “How the hell do we figure out what’s most important? Yeah, these tents and what we’ve already built got us through one winter, but there’s going to be another coming soon. We’ve wasted most of the summer.”
“Not wasted,” J.T. said from his spot next to the fire, eggs starting to sizzle in his skillet. “It’s not like we haven’t done anything and it’s not like anything out there’s made it easy on us. We’ll be all right, Thom. Stop trying to run before you figure out walking. We’ll get through.”
Thom closed his eyes again. Marin squeezed his hand, then let go, sliding her arms around his waist.
“We will,” she said, her voice gentle but firm. “We’ll get through, Thom. All of us.”
“Yeah,” he whispered back, though he didn’t quite believe it himself. “Yeah, we will.”
After all, it had been nearly a year. They’d make it through another—and everything else that would come beyond it.
They’d have to. There was a future out there waiting for them.