Originally written in January 2002 and posted on the CR boards.
The usual disclaimers apply. I am not affiliated with NBC or with Passions. All characters and concepts belong to NBC/Passions.
Kay Bennett squeezed through the crack in the cave wall. She tried to remember whose stupid idea it was to go out on this latest weekend adventure and explore the caves in the hills above Harmony. It must have been Miguel's idea, or maybe Miguel agreed almost immediately which was why she came. The melting snow was making a mess of the forest floor, and Kay knew her socks were wet through to her feet. Each step she made was accompanied by a dreadful squishing sound. Miguel, Jessica, Charity and Simone had already made their way through. Just Reese was behind her. Stupid Reese was waiting for "ladies first". Kay wanted to hurl.
"Kay," Reese said from the crevice.
Kay ignored him, stalking off after the rest of the teens. Night was falling, and they should make their way back to Harmony soon.
"Kay!" Reese yelled louder.
Kay turned around.
"Help me, Kay, I'm stuck."
Kay rolled her eyes. Reese was indeed stuck in the crevice. For a gangly boy, he certainly filled the gap. Kay shrugged, debating whether she should help him or not. If she left him there, he wouldn't bother her. Yeah, her conscience reminded, but then Dad would be angry and you'd be grounded.
Kay squished her way back to the crevice. "What do you want me to do?" she asked.
Reese wiggled the arm facing her. "Could you give me a pull?"
Sighing heavily, Kay grabbed his arm and pulled.
"Aaaargh!" Reese yelled. "Could you at least wait until I'm ready?"
Kay smothered an evil smile. At last she had a way of revenge against his pesky interference in her life. "You told me to pull," she said sullenly.
"On three," Reese said.
Kay grabbed his hand again.
"One… Two…" Reese counted, "Three!"
Kay pulled with all her might. A dislocated shoulder would teach him for getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
"Aaaargh!" Reese grunted, pushing from the other side.
"What now?" Kay demanded.
"It hurts, ok? But I think I moved a little. On three again. One… Two… Three!"
Kay pulled, Reese pushed, his groan of pain mingling with the sound of tearing fabric, but Reese tumbled on top of Kay as he burst free from the crevice. His glasses fell into the mud, his face inches from Kay's. Reese looked like he died and went to heaven, being so close to her.
"Get off me!" she screamed, writhing beneath him. "You're heavy!"
"Sorry," Reese mumbled, rising and squinting. "Could you find my glasses?"
Kay sighed and reached for the mud-covered lenses. Her back was wet now too, and getting very cold and squishy like her shoes. She handed Reese back his glasses. "Now look at what you've done!" she yelled. Her new coat was ruined.
"Sorry," Reese said again, polishing his glasses on his shirt. Kay's clothes were wet. Reese's coat was shredded. He sighed. It was an old coat anyway. "I thought I'd fit through."
"Well, think harder next time," Kay snapped, setting off in the direction where she saw Miguel leave.
"Wait Kay!" Reese called, half jogging to catch up with her. "Sure this is the way back to Harmony?" he asked.
Kay fought the urge to smack him around. "This is the way Miguel and everyone else went. See their footprints?"
Reese took off his glasses and polished them once more. He put them back on, but the sight was no better. His lenses were scratched. He leaned closer to the ground until he could see clearly.
Kay fought the urge to shove his face in the mud. She was over the age of twelve, she reminded herself. There were very few constants in Kay Bennett's life—especially recently. She thought she'd always have her parents' love to depend on, but that was gone. She thought she could depend on her parents being together, but that wasn't always secure anymore. Not with David Hastings and Ivy Crane wandering around waiting to cause havoc. At this point in her life, Kay was reduced to two constants, loving Miguel and torturing Reese. Kay could not remember a time when she wasn't picking on the nerd. Always behind Miguel's back of course. Reese was Miguel's other best friend so Kay had to be stealthy about it all. She admitted it. She was cruel. She remembered tripping him on the bus their second day of Kindergarten. He would fall flat on his face, and spill his crayons all over the floor. That game had amused Kay far into November.
She tried to scare him with bugs and worms, but that plan backfired. He liked those presents. Kay had rolled her eyes and went back to playing kickball with Miguel. But Kickball gave her another cruel idea. She knew she was good enough to kick the ball wherever she wanted to. Poor Reese was at her mercy. The kid never knew what was coming. Of course she apologized profusely with Miguel, but that did not take the joy out of watching the breath leave Reese's body with a loud "oof!" each time she landed the ball dead on target. She loved teasing him with the line "anything boys can do, girls can do better."
By the time they were in high school, just as Miguel was working up the nerve to ask Kay out, her entire world shifted. Charity came. Miguel was ever more distant, and Reese had developed the insane crush on her. Wouldn't the boy learn? And then there was that terrible mistake at Halloween that started Kay's string of terrible mistakes. She was sure it was Miguel under that mask when she confessed her love. She was sure of it! So why did it have to be Reese wearing the same costume? And things took a turn for the worse since then. Reese foolishly thought she was his girlfriend! Kay nearly laughed out loud.
"Kay?" Reese asked. "Are we following the footprints still?"
Kay rolled her eyes. "Of course we are." She looked down to confirm, and to her horror, footprints had not squished the ground recently. Kay stopped dead in her tracks. Reese ran into her from behind, almost toppling her face first into the soggy ground.
"Why'd you stop?" Reese asked.
"Shut up," Kay said. She wasn't in the mood to hear his nasally voice. She had to find those footprints! She stepped around Reese and began following their trail backwards. Maybe they could find where they got off of Miguel's trail in the drizzle.
"Why're we turning around?" Reese asked.
"I said, shut up!" Kay snapped, fighting back the panic as her own footprints were being swallowed in the fresh moisture. She dodged around trees, walking faster and faster, trying to beat the rain.
"Kay! Wait!" Reese called from behind her. She gritted her teeth and turned, drawing in a deep breath to tell him off. Reese was holding onto a tree, his face ashen. "Just let me…" he panted, "catch my breath…"
Kay rolled her eyes and waited. And waited. A drip of rain fell on her cheek, cold and wet. How utterly perfect, she thought miserably. Reese hadn't moved.
"Are you coming?" she demanded.
"In… a second…" Reese heaved himself upright and tottered towards Kay.
Seeing that he was moving, Kay started along the path once more.
"Could you not breathe so loud?" she demanded. "I'm trying to concentrate!"
Kay found herself back at the crevice they had vacated earlier.
"Kay?" Reese asked weakly.
"What!" she demanded.
"Can we stop for a second?" He didn't wait for a reply. Instead he slumped to the ground.
"Reese, please," Kay sneered. "We haven't walked all that far. Are you even more of a wuss than I imagined?" She pushed a wet lock of hair out of her eyes. The last thing she wanted was to be lost in the forest with only Reese for company. If it was Miguel, she thought with a smile, it would be a different story. But Reese was rapidly proving himself to be the biggest wuss she ever knew. "Are you ready yet?" she asked impatiently.
Reese did not answer.
"Reese?" she asked again, getting slightly worried. She turned and looked at him for the first time. Reese did not look well. His head slumped on his chest and his breathing was shallow and raspy. And then she saw his torn jacket and shirt.
"Oh My God!" Kay screamed, "Reese, you're bleeding!"
"It's… not… deep…" Reese panted back.
Kay rushed over to her supposed-boyfriend. Blood was soaking through his jacket, his shirt already wet and sticky. Tentatively, Kay opened his jacket and his flannel shirt, peeling the flannel from the T-shirt beneath it. She tucked her hair behind her ears. "Oh God," she whispered, "I wish I had paid more attention in First Aid." She nervously rubbed her hands together. "Reese, you've gotta help me," she said, slapping his face. "Reese, I don't know the first thing about stopping bleeding, you've gotta help me!"
"Stop… hitting… me!" Reese replied sullenly.
"Ok," Kay said, sitting back on her heels. "What do I do first?"
"Umm…" Reese thought, "I guess we should wash it and bandage it."
"Well, we don't have to worry about water," Kay said, referring to the steady fall of rain, wetting Reese's white T-shirt, rinsing the blood in pink rivulets.
Reese smiled and tried to laugh, but it hurt too much. "You're going to have to take my shirt off, Kay," Reese said gently.
Eww, Kay thought, imagining his pasty-white flesh. "Umm…" she said aloud, alternating touching the hem of his soaked shirt and wringing her hands.
"Just rip it, Kay!" Reese finally shouted, the effort costing him visibly.
"OK," Kay murmured, biting her bottom lip, and took the hem, and made a violent tear, rending the tattered shirt up the middle.
"Aaaargh!" Reese roared in pain as the shirt separated from half-clotted blood on his chest.
"Sorry," Kay said sheepishly, her eyes downcast to avoid looking at Reese's unclad chest.
When Reese caught his breath, he mumbled, "I get the distinct impression that you enjoy causing me pain."
Kay looked away, suddenly ashamed.
"Ok," Reese said, "we're going to need a bandage. Do you have anything dry?"
Kay rummaged through her backpack, trying to avoid looking at Reese. "Nothing here," she observed.
Reese thought for a moment. "My backpack might still be in the cave," he said, thinking.
"Right," Kay said, and ran off to the crevice, her actions spilling her bag across the ground. She easily slipped through the crack in the cave wall, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness inside. She stumbled under something relatively soft and let out a small scream. Then, as the insides of the cave faded into focus, she saw that she had been frightened by none other than Reese's bag. Giving herself a mental kick, she picked up the bag by its handle and slipped back out.
Kay's breath caught in her throat as she caught sight of Reese sitting propped up against the outside wall of the cave. He was beautiful! Her eyes paused on his stomach, and the way his muscles contracted to stay in the sitting position. They traveled upwards to his pectorals and the series of gashes marring their masculine beauty.
"What's this for?" Reese held up a small square plastic package.
"What?" Kay asked, not really seeing the condom he held up, only seeing the way his chest rose and fell with each breath.
"Well, I know what it's for," Reese said with a leer. "But why did you bring one along? Were you planning on seducing me?" he asked with a clumsy wink.
"No!" Kay said immediately, her mind racing. "I-I was…" she began. "It's just that… I don't know how it got in there!" she said finally, hating the way Reese had found evidence of her plan to get Miguel alone in the cave.
"Sure," Reese said with a knowing nod, his eye's appraising Kay's body. "I'd love to help you out, but I'm not quite in condition at the moment." He coughed.
Kay was sure Reese thought his grin was inviting, but it seemed merely goofy to her. "Umm…" she began, her eyes once again drawn to his naked chest. He really was a blond, she noted, the hair was so pale and light as to be nonexistent. It certainly did nothing to hide… well… anything!
"Can I give you a rain-check?" he asked with another suggestive leer.
"Umm… thanks," Kay muttered, trying to absorb this unclothed Reese with what she saw of unclothed Miguel. Miguel was what she wanted, right? And it didn't matter how well, that six-pack looked on Reese. He was still a nerd, right? She must be feeling pity for him because he was hurt.
Reese coughed again and sniffled. The rain was getting to him. "First off, there should be a folding umbrella tucked into the side. I can't believe I didn't remember leaving my backpack in the cave when we first got back here!" Kay rummaged in Reese's bag, producing the umbrella. She opened it and held it above both their heads. They had to get awkwardly close to both fit under the umbrella. Reese took it from her hand and held it high. "Ok, there should be a small first-aid kit. There should be some gauze in it."
"First-aid kit," Kay said to herself, looking in it until she found the right object. "Gauze," she said, snapping the kit open and finding the neatly packaged sterile gauze-packs. "Right," Kay said, holding them out.
"You're going to have to apply them," Reese prompted.
"Right." Kay replied. Ripping open one of the squares of gauze, she placed it on his chest. God he was built, all that hard masculinity hidden under that geeky exterior. Like Clark Kent and Superman, a little voice reminded Kay.
"You've got to tape it on," Reese said. "There's some bandage tape in the first-aid kit."
"Right." Kay said again, feeling quite foolish. Reese never made her feel foolish—except when she got caught with him when she thought he was Miguel. Then she felt foolish. But Reese on his own? Reese only made her angry, not an idiot. "Won't this hurt when it comes off?" she asked.
"Probably," Reese said.
Slowly, Kay attached the gauze to Reese's wounds and buttoned back up his tattered flannel and coat. Weary, Kay slumped down next to him, mostly to stay out of the rain.
"Do you think they're looking for us?" Kay asked.
Reese shrugged. "I couldn't imagine a better person to get lost with."
Kay nearly lost her lunch. She could easily imagine a thousand people she'd rather be lost with. The rain poured down as she sat next to Reese, waiting for rescue. The drops pattered on the top of the umbrella while Kay and Reese waited in silence, their butts getting numb from the rocks, but when compared to other options, a numb rear wasn't that bad.
"I think they're slowing down!" Kay said suddenly, eager to get away from the stifling inactivity. "I have an idea to find Harmony."
"Kay, wait!" Reese said. "I'll just use the GPS on my handheld and then use the coordinates from here as opposed to the coordinates of my house and we'll figure out a way back.
"Sure," Kay said, but she headed towards a tall tree anyway. She hadn't climbed a tree in a while, but she still remembered how. Her days as a tomboy were not that long ago. Jumping to grab a mostly horizontal branch, Kay swung up into the tree. It was a bit slippery, and her foot caught once, but she soon found her rhythm. Once of the ground, Kay soon saw the lights of Harmony twinkling in the evening glow. Happily, she looked down to mark the direction against Reese and quickly, she climbed down, dropping the last few feet.
"I found it!" Reese said.
"Harmony's that way!" they both said together, pointing in opposite directions.
"Reese, you're pointing inland," Kay argued.
"Am not!" he countered. "I know exactly where we are!"
"I saw the ocean," Kay said. "I know it's that way!"
"Impossible," Reese said stiffly.
"Whatever," she replied. "But I'm going home now." She began gathering her things back into her bag.
"Help me up! I won't let you go off alone. You need protection."
"Help me up!" Reese insisted.
Kay sighed and gave him her hand. Seeing him waver on his feet, Kay put her shoulder under one of his arms. They began walking slowly in the direction Kay chose. When they saw several familiar figures approaching them, Kay couldn't resist taunting him with a, "told you so!"
"Over here!" Kay yelled, waving her free arm. She gladly handed Reese off to her Uncle Hank as the rescuers picked their way. "Be careful with him," Kay said. "He has a nasty gash."
"Kay saved my life," Reese told everyone proudly.
Kay noticed he refrained from mentioning that it was she who had probably endangered it in the first place.
"She's a hero!" Reese continued.
Kay shoved her hands in her pockets as her father and Miguel patted her on the back. If this was how Reese wanted it, who was she to protest? "Yeah… well," she said, toeing the ground with false humility.