He whispers it. He very seldom whispers. I don't know if anyone but me has ever heard him speak in such a quiet manner. But it's understandable. He's exhausted.
I hold him close to me. Under the bandaging, my chest hurts. I don't need stitches but I would've if the wound went much deeper. It probably wouldn't hurt, though… but I don't want to. I'd have to answer questions then, and people wouldn't understand. They'd try to take him away.
It'd be easier if I could just holler for Medic. He'd fix it with no comment but rolled eyes. But Medic's home in Germany. The war's been long over.
I slide the helmet off Jane's head. He lets me do this. It's a good sign that he's truly calmed down.
He looks up at me, apologetic, worn out. His eyes… he could always knock me out with those eyes. Like the brightest, bluest sky on the most perfect Fourth of July you ever imagined.
"Tav… I hurt you again, didn't I? … Goddamnit… GodDAMNIT…"
"Shhh. It's… it's alright, lad. Calm down, now. Ye didn't mean tae."
I sigh and stroke his hair. He really doesn't mean to lash out. The poor lad can't help himself. He has… fits. Blind frenzies. He'll attack anything that comes close. I try to keep all the dangerous stuff away from him, but sometimes, very rarely, he gets ahold of something and catches me off guard.
I think it's the war ending. He doesn't have an outlet anymore. I mean, we all weren't the most well-adjusted lot, but even among the rest of us eighteen battling daft men Jane was different. Strange. Crazy. (The Soldier on our team was too, come to think. Prerequisite for the job, maybe.) But when he fought, it didn't matter, because he fought like a demon. Like he was born for it. It was the perfect place for him, I think- a ceaseless battle where you couldn't ever die. He could get the rage and the crazy out of his system, and when we did stuff together afterward he'd be a hell of a lot less likely to go out of his tree.
But that's all over now. He doesn't have that outlet, so it all builds up and bursts out, like a volcano. And like a volcano, if you insist on living nearby it's inevitable you're going to get hurt sooner or later, or at least incur property damage. It's not the volcano's fault for being what it is. The volcano can't help it.
Only difference is nobody ever said they weren't gonna move away from the volcano because the volcano needed them. And that's the honest truth. Jane's my best mate, and he needs me. Nobody else in this whole damn world understands him like I do, and while I can't say for absolute true, I don't think anybody else loves him either. I'm all he's got. I can't just put him in some strange place with white walls for him to get doped to the gills and left alone among strangers. And I can't allow anybody to take him from me and put him in a place like that, either. It'd do him more harm than good, I'm sure.
"…dunnae' worry, mate. I won't let that happen tae ye. I'll be alright, I'm tough, ye know thae'."
He looks up at me again. Guess I was talking more to myself than him. I sigh, shake my head, smiling a bit in spite of myself. I'd call it fond, but I wouldn't particularly call it happy.
"Nae mind. Go on into bed, laddie. I'll be along soon."
"Alright. … Tav?"
"You aren't mad at me? … Jesus, you know I'd never… not on purpose, Christ…"
"I know. I'm nae mad. Go on with ye."
I kiss his forehead and let him go. He picks up his helmet and stands up, giving me one last apologetic, almost sad look as he heads to the other room.
The bandage around my chest is already growing damp, red spots beginning to seep through. I could probably really use those stitches after all. But I'll be alright. I always am. Nobody's taking him away from me. Even though maybe they probably should. That daft Soldier boy of mine's going to be the death of me, one way or another.
I change the bandages, open a bottle of scrumpy, and drink long and deep before following Jane into the other room, like I said I would.