Gene’s pressed stiff against his side, hands wrapped around his ribs like he’s gonna freeze to death right there in the foxhole. “Jesus,” Babe says under his breath, and wraps an arm around Gene’s shoulders. He goes stiff, then relaxes, curving into Babe’s side; the shivers start in full-force then, renewed by the body heat thawing his bones. Babe thinks about Aldbourne and then his Ma’s cooking, hot stew and fresh bread.
Gene keeps touching his makeshift bandage and Babe has no idea why, just lets him do because maybe it’s some medic thing, how the hell is he supposed to know? But after the third time he’s starting to freeze his hand off having it out in the open like this, so he tells Gene that, and Gene apologizes and goes silent.
Then it’s too silent, and all he has to watch is the forest, all goddamn frozen over and not one single animal the entire time they’ve been here. Gene’s shivering less now, and he drops his hand from his shoulder. Thinks about thanking him for wrapping his hand - even if it’s his fault - or for the chocolate, or something, he doesn’t know, he just wants to say something.
So, “Hey Gene,” he starts. Gene looks up. “Thanks.”
“For what, Heffron?” Gene asks, words weary.
“I don’t know,” he says. “Everything, I guess.”
Gene gives him a long, hard look, everything in his face saying he’s tired beyond words. “Sure,” he says slow, and nods. Babe turns back to the line, his body warm against Gene's side, satisfied.