Just… don't hate me for not updating. I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself, but real life is just chaotic.
Rei climbed slowly out of bed, looking for his watch. He spent several minutes looking for it in various places before remembering that he was still wearing it from the night before.
He checked his wrist /Five thirty, I'm late!/ He dragged on his usual clothes as fast as he could and ran out the door of the cabin.
He stepped up to a sturdy tree and put one fist against its trunk, measuring the distance. Satisfied, he removed his shoes, stepped back, into a fighting stance. He went through several routines, each one a mixture of kicks and punches, just missing the tree each time, when he felt a tap on his shoulder and swung round to attack it.
Kai bent backwards, away from the attack. "Hey, hey, watch it Rei!" He yelped, tumbling to the floor.
"Kai!" Rei pulled his fist back and covered his mouth with his hands. "Sorrysorrysorrysorry are you alright I'm so sorry!"
Kai sprang to his feet. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just…don't do that again."
"I am so sorry! Of course I won't, I was practising, and I was still in fight mode, kinda, and then you made me jump and then-"
"It's alright, Rei, you didn't hit me,"
Rei pulled a face "Is that a compliment or an insult?"
"Judging by the way you were attacking the tree, I think I'll give it to you as a compliment." Kai grinned slightly.
"Oh ha ha, very funny." Rei smiled as well. "Should we go and wake up the others? We've got a walk to Mr. Raja's camp."
"What?" Kai frowned "But – Oh. Tyson."
"Tyson." Rei nodded agreement "Let's go"
One hour later –
Finally, Tyson was up and dressed, though still not quite awake. Rei was chivvying him along as they left the campsite, armed only with the map, a compass, and two bottles of water.
Kai was in charge of the map, the compass, and one of the bottles of water, to share with Rei. Tyson, Kenny and Max were sharing the other bottle, though not without argument –
"You carry it!"
"No you carry it!"
– You get the idea. Kenny, of course, was just walking quietly along behind them.
"We follow this path, then turn off to the left in about two miles." Kai turned to the other three then, discovering that they weren't listening, turned back to Rei, and muttered under his breath. "I hope they get lost."
Rei had to execute extreme self-control to keep from laughing. Instead, he contented himself with a quite, gentle snicker, then glared at Kai. "That's not very nice!" he muttered back reproachfully, but kept the tone light so Kai would not be offended.
"Hey, better that than me pushing them in a river." Kai kept a straight face as he delivered the line, which just made Rei abandon all self-control and throw his head back in a great bust of laughter.
The three younger boys stared at him in amazement – Rei was hardly ever this happy, and usually laughed quietly, rather than as loud as he had just done.
"What?" Rei was bewildered at the glances he was given by the two of them.
Kai spoke. "I think you frightened them. You don't usually laugh that loud!"
"Who, us? Nah, nothin' scares us!" Tyson boasted noisily.
"Fine. Whatever." Rei decided that he couldn't be bothered to argue. Tyson turned back to Max, grinning. Rei ignored him and spoke to Kai. "Do you think I should?"
Kai smirked. "Definitely."
Rei returned the evil look, and called to the other three. "Guys, I'll be back in a second, I just need to… you know…" He blushed slightly, and the other boys got what Rei meant.
"Ah. Sure buddy. Don't get lost!" Max grinned – Rei had the best sense of direction out of all of them, even Kai.
"Um… actually, I wouldn't mind if one of you guys came with me. Kai? You're the only one I can trust to not whip out a camera and take a picture of me with my pants down."
Kai grinned. "Sure. Should I take the camera then?"
The others watched this exchange with something akin to amazement. Kai was never this cheerful!
Kai gave the three boys a worrying, "Stay on the track. The larger animals are less likely to attack if you are out in the open," as advice before the older two slipped into the trees on the left of the path.
Max glanced around, unnerved by Kai's words. "You don't think there are actually big animals in these woods, do you?"
Tyson spoke quietly. He didn't want to tell the animals that lunch was ready and waiting on the path. "No… I don't think so… there might be though. Kai doesn't joke very often."
Max flinched as he stood on a stick and it cracked with the sound of a gunshot in the silent woods.
Rei snickered as Max jumped at a breaking stick. "Ok," he whispered, "I'll go across the path, and you stay here. Start howling, quietly, but get louder when I do. You can howl, can't you?"
Kai raised an eyebrow. "I learned when I was only seven. Tala taught me one night at the abbey.
Rei stared. Tala? Teaching Kai something fun? "Why…?"
"Wolborg. As he has a wolf for a bitbeast, he is naturally part wolf. As you are part tiger. He taught me that to help me keep my mind off… something."
Rei knew better than to ask what that something was. "Fine. After about a minute, we run towards then yelling about the 'tigers and wolves' that are after us. Got it?"
"Yep" Kai watched for a second, until they turned away, then he pressed a hand in the small of Rei's back and pushed him across the path.
Rei ducked behind a bush, purposely standing on a stick. The three boys yelped, clutching each other tightly. "Kai? Rei? That you?"
Rei covered his mouth with a hand so the other boys wouldn't notice him. By the time he felt calm enough to take it away, Tyson, Max and Kenny had walked on again, peering worriedly round them. He bent his head, then raised it in a tigers roar. It filled the clearing, and Tyson and Max scrambled away. Unfortunately, they moved towards Kai, who had crept further down the path.
A weird howling, haunting and tentative, threaded through the air. The three boys froze. "I don't like this…" Tyson muttered.
"Neither do I…" Max whined back.
Rei took his turn, getting louder and louder as Tyson and Max twitched more and more. Kai joined in again, giving an eerie crescendo. The two noises were slightly out of kilter, one flat and the other sharp, and the combination was spine-tinglingly creepy.
The younger boys gave up being brave, and fled away down the path. "Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hellllpp!!!!"
Rei and Kai collapsed in fits of laughter, falling to the middle of the path, tears of laughter dripping from their eyes.
A few minutes later –
Kai sat up and poked Rei. "Shift your butt. We'd better go catch them up, before they get too lost."
"Aw…" Rei looked at Kai, and sighed. "I guess."
Together, they left the clearing, Rei still snickering slightly.
Once they had stopped running and screaming, the three boys were out of breath – particularly poor Kenny – and dropped to the ground, trying to catch their breath again.
Tyson spoke first, after a couple of minute's silence. "Ok, what do we do now?"
"Oh my God, we left Rei and Kai behind!" Max was aghast.
Kenny groaned. "Yeah… but it was them doing that, I betcha!"
The other two blushed. Tyson stuttered out, "I… I knew it was them!"
There were frantic agreements from the other two boys, and nervous giggles. "Yeah, same!" Faint thuds from further down the path made them jump, and as Kai and Rei jogged round the corner of the trees, the three boys scowled at them. Innocent looks from the two older boys, until Rei 's face broke into a broad grin. Tyson slapped his arm, hard.
"That wasn't funny, Rei!"
Kai raised an eyebrow. "We thought it was."
"Well, it wasn't."
Ok, so, that's it. Sorry, it's short, sorry, it's about a year later than it should have been… but here it is.