Blair had a two days to heal. Two days to mourn, to regain his strength, and then the warm blankets were replaced by his own tattered clothes, the soft mattress was replaced by hard ground and cold days as they ran.
Jim paced himself by the smaller man, watching him. Blair ran hard, feet pelting across the ground, head bent and teeth ground together so tightly they almost splintered and broke. He shouldn't have been out of hospital. Or Rafe. Hell, half of them belonged in beds, being cared for. But they were running instead.
The Germans had returned in force, taking Saint-Nizier inch by bloody inch, blasting their way through the hastily erected barricades and the tired fighters behind them, once-living people reduced to bloody rags trampled under uncaring boots.
So they were running. Deeper into the mountainous territory, towards Vassieux, Vercors, needing to warn the resistance cells there by word of mouth, because the radio was left in thirty sparking pieces when the operator was cut in two by a schmeisser.
They finally made it into Vassieux, not quite the band they had hoped, bearing fresh ammunitions and hope, but a dusty, gasping motley group of rebels, nothing but the shirts on their backs and sometimes not even that.
The pressure off, the danger at bay for now, Jim swept Blair up into his arms and carried him into the house someone had secured for them. He didn't know who - Simon perhaps, Joel or Megan, it didn't matter. Blair didn't protest the motion, clinging to him as his legs wobbled, the adrenaline rush fading and his tired and battered body making its complaints known. Megan scavenged a battered old kit from somewhere - everything they had was lost at St. Nizier, save for the ever-present weapons - and followed them inside, gentle hands professionally checking over the healing wound in Blair's shoulder and pronouncing it sound.
By the time she had finished, Blair had regained a little of his spark. Propped upon pillows, he gingerly rotated his arm gently testing the movement of the limb, learning how far he could take it normally before he had to push it further.
With an exaggerated rolling of her eyes and an exasperated sigh and mutter about ‘all her hard work,’ Conner left them to it, gathering up her kit and heading outside, where others still needed her care. Leaving the two men alone.
Blair looked out the window for a long time as Jim busied himself setting up the other bed in the sparse room. Twinsets. He was unusually quiet, solemn and still, fingers of one hand picking endlessly as the material of the covers beneath him, over and over. pick pick pick
Something was eating at him, burrowing into his mind. "Blair?"
pick pick pick
"Blair? What’s wrong?"
Finally the Maquisard tore his eyes away from the window, focusing them on his lap. "I was just thinking...Sam…Is there no one left, now? How many people are going to die?" there were no tears in his eyes, just a pained question. Wearily he rubbed the back of his neck. "Where does it end? Here? Do we win? Or do they?"
A few short steps and Jim dropped onto the bed, raising a hand to grip the smaller man’s shoulder. "We’re going to win." He projected as much belief into his voice that he could. "They’re old men, for the most part. Scared. Stupid. Methodical, but stupid. We can beat them, trust me."
"How do you know that Jim? If you could see with my eyes…the things I’ve seen…" Blair closed his own eyes, as if to block out the images. Shuddering, he pushed away from Jim’s hand, leaving it to float forlornly in the air before drifting to sit in his lap with its mate. "Oh god, Jim, if you had only seen what I have…the things they have done…"
Suddenly Jim didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to face them. The daemons lurking around his friend. Like the ones they painted on the Spitfires and Messerschmitts, denoting the number of kills, the planes brought down. But these daemons were painted on his friend’s soul, in his eyes, acid paint burning deep, etching and scarring, twisting him deep inside. Reflected pain every time their eyes met, a sadness to his face, dragging features meant to grin easily into a world-weary smile.
But if he could lessen that burden, somehow break that pain with understanding, even for a second…
"Tell me," he whispered after a long moment.