The dropoff was fast, but he'd set it up on quick notice from the Irish Father; an abandoned home that was carefully set up for an extended occupation in secret -- a bolt hole for someone on the run. He'd expected it to go to some Frenchman that needed to disappear, and stocked it with reading material in French and other things to keep someone from being bored, because a bored person would wander, would move around, would bestir themselves and perhaps even, not advised, venture forth and be sighted in the countryside at a place where no one was supposed to be. He knew the local Miliciens and Gendarmes didn't bother patrolling the place heavily, because he cased it for weeks, casually, between heading to and from work. It was a good spot, near the cafe.

He'd been saving it, as well as spending spare time there. The truth was that he was still getting harassed by other kids and young adults over being overly friendly with the Boche, people that thought patriotism extended to beating someone up out of anger. He understood the anger, but he had contempt for people that couldn't muster up a more intelligent response. He knew, deep in his heart, that he was fighting the good fight. He'd pondered it in the musty attic of this place. It was his hideout, though he was very careful about not letting anyone else know it existed. It wasn't much and it drew no electricity -- everything there was gas and candles, with a covered window and carefully created vents to try and bring some air into the place. The first thing he'd put in there was the rugs, to make it easier to move silently without being heard. There was a radio there with an earpiece for hearing broadcasts silently while hiding -- Axis Sally and German radio dominated the waves, but just about everyone in France these days knew the frequency for the BBC's broadcasts.

Guillaume spoke excellent English, and he charted the course of the war with an intensity-- El-Alamein, the Torch Landings, Sicily and the Italian campaigns. He knew that it was coming -- the allies, Liberation, and a chance to fight, and he knew his task in all this. Father Jaime explained it;

"It's information lad. Where and when you can hit them, how many there are. Maps, local guides to show the soldiers where best to shoot them from. It's the element of surprise, it's killing them before they have a chance to even get their bearings. That's going to be your job when they come, and until then you have to stay alive, watch the enemy, learn his ways and count his numbers. Your eyes are France's weapon, boy. They are the savior of your people."

He'd left the trap door open so he could hear anyone moving in, and hoped, prayed really, that the fellows bringing this air crewman, one shot down by the 88's on the return from some bombing mission, The handoff. Three men entered, as he saw through the peephole that let him view downward, and one of them quietly set an empty can that had been sitting upright on a shelf on its side, which was the recognition code.

He called through the trap, "Quietly, get out. Bon chance," but he didn't let the men see him, either. When he heard the two pairs of footsteps recede into the darkness, he dropped a rope ladder that he used for the access, having dismantled any other way up into the attic some time ago -- it made for a harder climb, but the fold-down ladder was too easy and stable to climb up with lots of equipment...which is what the Germans or Gendarmes would have. He also had several bailout points constructed so he could dive and run for it. He thought of everything, because he remembered how his stepfather went -- stupidly, loudly, violently. He intended to survive.

"Come on up, Tommy," he told the fellow in English.

What climbed up didn't wear a uniform, but rather French street clothing, and he didn't look all that much older than him, "You speak English?"

"Yes, but forgive the accent," Guillaume told him. English came from the Father even before the war started, but it was useful now.

"Thank god, those two blokes didn't."

"No, unfortunately, not everyone does, Tommy--"

"My name is --" the man tried to interrupt.

"No names," Guillaume insisted, "They can't torture out what we don't know. There are other rules. You must not move around by day. If you smoke, you must try to be careful at night, because you will be seen. You cannot cook at night. There is a bucket to waste into, but you will need to empty it, preferably by night. But you must be careful. Epernay crawls with the Boche, because there is a rail center here. We have to work together on this."

"Right, you're absolutely right, sorry. It's new to me...we were sho-- right, nothing they can torture out of you," the man, not too tall, brown hair, somewhat sallow features, said sheepishly.

"That's right, Tommy, catching on. We've had a long war with these piss-drinking squareheads, and if you listen, we might be able to get you back to yours. But for now, let me show you what luxuries we have for you in here..."


He wouldn't get much sleep tonight, but that was fine -- he could always catch some at the Cafe, once he delivered the message to Cerise or Delphine, his contacts in the network, cutouts between him and the Father. That was part of the game really, covering for each other while moving around as if they didn't particularly like one another and otherwise playing the game right under the straight Aryan noses of the conquerors. They weren't the older ones, the collaborationists, though they had ample experience, childhood learning (the best kind) on how to sing the way the Germans liked, how to speak their language. How to act as sympathetic faces. And in their group, there was the feeling that the traitors, often enough, were the older ones that felt they had something to lose. How often was it that a parent turned to save a child, when a teenager might prefer to keep their mouth shut? Theirs was a patriotism nurtured in silence; the older were touched by the bitter despair of the post war years, and that despair led them to a nihilistic impulse to work with the Germans.

They didn't bother with obvious codes, spoken things. Rather, they used the skills they learned in school -- taught, in a sense, by nuns that didn't let the sexes mix freely. He laid three fingers on his cheek, palm across his mouth, and then wiped those fingers at a diagonal angle down. It was his signal -- it meant they had the man stowed away safely.

The first hard part was done, but then came the next hard part; sneaking out to check on him, keeping him supplied, and organizing his movement out to Sauveterre's hiding place, the next stop in their little railroad. That was the war for them -- one hard part after another, always watching, always wondering if they'd been made. The next moment, he did another hard part of the job.

"Guten morgen, Jurgen, wie gehts mein freund?" as he tied the apron around his waist, the cord wrapped around twice, knotted at the front. The top folded down over the tie. The towel inserted carefully over the right hip. The next hard part, the genuine-seeming smile, trying to keep the coldness out of his eyes and not entirely failing. But that coldness was some of what the Germans liked about him, it seemed. They thought he was one of theirs.