With Friends Like These

C

Cotillion

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Original poster
[DASH=yellow]Joseph trudged through the snow towards the farmhouse, Cosmina held tightly in his arms. The decision to carry her had been a simple one. She was starting to fall behind, her shoes getting caught in the deep snow, slowing her down, freezing her feet. Together they would be able to share bodily heat, and the energy exerted in carrying Cosmina would help warm Joseph up. It also gave Joseph a chance to hold her in his arms, something the mission had never allowed him to do.

The cold crept up his legs, having already conquered his feet. It was almost unbearable to continue walking, but he had to get them to shelter before they froze to death. It was a testament to Cosmina's willpower that she had made it this far in those shoes, and Joseph admired her for it. Only several hundred more feet to go. Joseph struggled to decide where to go: the barn, which wouldn't be as warm but offered them privacy, or the farmhouse, which would be warmer but its tenants would surely ask questions. He opted for the former.

To his surprise, the barn had been unlocked. Joseph pushed the door open, relieved to finally be out of the cold. He lowered Cosmina to the ground, and looked in to her eyes, a tinge of regret on his face; he had enjoyed acting the hero, however brief it might have been. He took his surroundings in. The barn was large, with hay strewn about the floor, a ladder leading up in to the rafters to a hay loft. It would be warmer up there, and would be a good place to hide should anyone come investigate the barn. He motioned to the ladder, "you should sleep up there. It'll be warmer. I'll stay down here keeping watch."

She started to say something, "Joseph..." but he interrupted her, "Joe. Call me Joe. The time for formalities has passed."
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K

Kitti

Guest
Original poster
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Shivering as Joseph deposited her on the ground, Cosmina looked up the ladder and then to where he was standing. It was strange, she thought, to be getting to know him like this. It was as if her entire world had shifted and Cosmina was now standing tenuously on the edge of life and certain torture and death with a man that she barely knew who was now asking her to dismiss formalities and call him by a nickname. Had she not been so cold and so scared, Cosmina might have laughed.

"Joe, then, I guess... You can call me Mina. Anyway, are you sure that it's a good idea for you to stay down there? It's doubtful anyone would come up to the hay loft in the middle of the night or even early tomorrow morning, with all this snow. I'm concerned though, that perhaps they're storing something here, since there are no animals. And if they come to check on whatever they're storing tomorrow..." Cosmina turned her head away, a small shudder over what might happen mimicking a shiver which she hoped he would misinterpret it as.

She didn't want to voice what they would do if the Soviet agents came here looking for them. With only the door downstairs serving as an escape, though, he would be safer up top with her, especially with the door used to throw the hay being up in the hayloft. If need be, they could use that to escape.

Cosmina wrapped her slim hand around Joseph's wrist, urging him to climb up the ladder with her, her eyes still wide with fear and the pupils dilated from adrenaline and the dark of the barn. "Please, Joe?"
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C

Cotillion

Guest
Original poster
[DASH=yellow]Worry ran through Joseph's head. It was true that they might not be interrupted in the loft until the morning, but if there was something being stored here, it might be wise to at least look around. Joseph was about to protest, but the urgency in Cosmina's eyes and the gentle tug of her hand stopped him. He sighed, partly in shock that he was giving in so easily. "Ok, I'll come up with you. Under one condition: one of us stays awake at all times. I don't want us to be shot in our sleep."

He led the way up the ladder, stopping briefly at the top to look around the hay loft. It was perfect. There was a small opening in a clump of hay, just the right size to shield both of them from view as well as provide warmth. Joseph drew the gun and eased his way up the rest of the ladder. The opening was perfect, as though someone had carved it out on purpose. That someone might still be up here. He touched a finger to his lips, motioning for Cosmina to be quiet, and stepped forward.

He inched closer to the opening, his finger gently caressing the trigger on the gun. He was holding his breath; if he had to fire the gun, the world would come crashing down around them. As he took another step towards the hole, a paw emerged. Joseph released his breath. A black and white cat tentatively stepped out of the hole, examining Joseph. The cat came closer and rubbed itself against Joseph's leg, purring softly. "All clear up here. Just a cat."

"Mina, if they are storing something in the barn, we need to look around. It could be important. But it can wait until we've both had some rest," he pointed to the opening in the hay, "that should provide us with some cover in case anyone does come in here."
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K

Kitti

Guest
Original poster
[dash=#8BA870]

Nodding slowly, Cosmina clambered up the ladder after Joseph, feeling the numbness in her fingers and feet as she did so. The chilly air was warmer in the barn, at least compared to the outside, but it was still very cold and she couldn't wait to curl beneath the hay and try to get warmer. As soon as she made it to the top of the ladder, she glanced around herself. Despite that she trusted Joseph, she couldn't help but reassure herself. So much had gone wrong and she barely knew this man.

The first place she checked as well was the hollow in the hay, but with the hair clinging to it, it was clearly where the cat had been laying. Glancing down, she saw it curling around Joseph's leg. Smiling nervously, she stooped to scoop the cat in her arms and stroked its back with her hand, reveling in the warmth of its fur. Setting the cat onto the ground once more, she grasped Joseph's hand and pulled him toward the hay.

"forgive me for seeming abrupt but... it really is warmer to be close to one another." Cosmina blushed a little, but her shiver lent itself to her sincerity. It was a shame that Joseph's jacket had been left behind, she mused bitterly, noting as well how cool his hand was to the touch. Guiding Joseph, Cosmina settled and sat against the far wall, with the door for restocking the hay. Pulling hay around them, Cosmina made a little nest and she could feel the effects of the warmth almost at once.

"You seem tired. I'll stay awake while you sleep, Joe."
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