AN: Wahoo! Random fluff! This was going to be part of a longer story, but I decided to scrap that story and just use the opening because I thought it was cute. Enjoy!
"Seriously, I can't feel my toes."
"They're still there, I promise."
"What are we doing?"
"Aren't you even gonna tell me?"
"I will in a minute."
"This is one of your Indian things, isn't it?"
"Will you be quiet? You're breaking my concentration."
"You're building a fire. Can't you do it any faster?"
"I'll light you on fire if you don't shut up."
"Can I have my jacket back?"
"Just until we start whatever it is you have planned?"
"Mac, I'm freezing here!"
"That doesn't change anything."
"I swear if you don't shut up, I'm driving away and leaving you here."
"I'd never get home!"
"Well, if you'd shut up so I can teach you how to track, you'd be able to."
"How are you supposed to teach me how to track in the middle of the night?"
"We're tracking in the morning."
"Then why are we freezing our butts off now?"
"It's all part of the lesson."
"What lesson? How to die half-naked in the middle of winter? I could have figured this out on my own!"
"Right now you're going to learn to survive in the cold."
"It wouldn't be so cold if you shut up and light the fire."
"There's a certain way to do it. And you'd better be paying attention, because you're doing this tomorrow night."
"I know how to build a fire, Mac."
"To show little light and give off maximum heat?"
"What? Mac, you just strike a match and drop it in a pile of sticks."
"Obviously, you aren't paying attention."
"I'm concentrating on not catching pneumonia."
"Richie, you're really starting to get on my nerves."
"Just give me my jacket and I'll shut up, scouts honor."
"Empty promise coming from you."
"I was a Boy Scout! For five years as a matter of fact. That is a perfectly legitimate promise."
"Funny. Hey, how are we supposed to sleep out here? Did you bring sleeping bags?"
"Then, uh, not to sound stupid or anything...."
"Funny. How are we supposed to not freeze to death?"
"I'll show you. But first..."
"You have to shut up."
Richie sighed, rolled his eyes, and wrapped his bare arms around his bare chest in a futile attempt to keep warm. Duncan had driven him out into the middle of nowhere then made him hike five miles further into nowhere where he sat him down and took his jacket and shirt, threw them in a bag with his and hung the bag in a tree to keep the wild animals away from it. So here they sat, in the middle of nowhere, half-naked, freezing and arguing. To top it all off, Richie was not a nature person and the Victoria Secret fashion show was on tonight and he had forgotten to set his VCR.
"Agh!" Richie was caught off guard as Duncan grabbed his chin rather forcefully. "Wa'a'yuhdon'?"
"Shhh." Mac put his finger to Richie's cheek and drew a line leaving a cold, wet trail across his cheek.
"Wa'a'yuhdon'?" Richie asked a little more forcefully.
"Shh," Duncan repeated tightening his grip on Richie's jaw. He drew a line parallel to the one before and mirrored them on Richie's other cheek. Then he finished it by adding a line down Richie's nose and chin.
"Shh!" He squeezed his jaw again. Richie pouted as best he could then quieted himself. Duncan closed his eyes and chanted something that Richie had no way of following. Duncan let go of Richie's jaw and did some sort of ritual tracing the air an inch away from Richie's shivering body.
"Can I talk now?" Richie asked after a minute of silence.
Richie just sat perfecting his 'I'm confused because I befriended a four hundred year old nutcase' look. It felt like an eternity before Duncan spoke again.
"Do you know what's going on?"
"Of course not," Richie answered slightly bitter.
"I'm going to teach you how to track and live off the land."
"Because one day you might have to."
"Mac, I don't know if you've noticed but you seem to have found the only piece of land in the world that isn't a McDonalds's or Starbucks. And in two weeks, it will be."
"One, I own this land and two, just trust me."
"Last time I just trusted you I ended up in..."
"I thought you weren't going to bring that up again?"
"Okay, fine. What are we supposed to do; it's freezing."
"Body heat until we can find some skins."
"Skins? As in killing defenseless animals to wear their fur because we are the big bad hunters and they're not?"
"And for food."
"Richie, for the next week whatever we eat and wear comes from the land."
"Week? You told me we were going to the cabin after this!"
"That's where we're going. Last night I laid a trail and we're going to follow it."
"If it took you a night to lay the trail, why is it going to take us a week to follow it?"
"Because I knew where I was going and put out lost of false leads and we also have to deal with food, water and shelter. Plus, you are the lead hunter."
"You're gonna be following me?"
"I don't know how to track or hunt."
"I'll be teaching you."
"You know, sometimes I get really sick of you."
"The feeling is mutual. Now, how about we get some sleep so we can get an early start."
"Sleep? How? Mac, it's...."
"Freezing, I know, you've told me. Now, come here." Duncan inched his way towards the small fire. "Since you're going to be a big baby, you lay down here." He motioned to a spot next to the fire. Richie lay down and got as close to the fire as he dared. Duncan lay down behind him and put his back up against his. "Your back is where you loose the most body heat. So back to back, we'll warm each other up."
"Yeah. My own personal electric blanket."
"It's not the Ritz, but we'll survive the night."
"Uh-huh. Twenty bucks says we wouldn't have been doing a year ago when I could have died of exposure."
"Tessa would have never let me torture you like this."
"Man, I don't want to know half the stuff she kept you from doing to me."
"Richie, shh. We're up with the sun."
True to his word, Duncan was shaking a slightly cold Richie awake just as the sun was peeking over the trees.
"Nuh," Richie protested grouping for the blanket that wasn't there.
It took a few minutes but Duncan had Richie up and ready to go. They caught fish for breakfast then Duncan helped Richie fashion some primitive weapons.
"Like I can kill anything with this," Richie mumbled holding up the dagger he spent three hours sharpening.
"If you made it right, you will." Duncan held up the two spears he had put together. "Not my best work, but we should be able to eat tonight."
Duncan started Richie on the trial he had laid out. All afternoon, Richie followed a nearly invisible line of broken twigs, overturned rocks, and footprints through the wilderness.
"Shh..." Duncan stopped him suddenly.
"Shh." He motioned Richie to him. "Now we hunt." He pointed out three rabbits in the field they were crossing. "I'll go first then you try." He took his spear, aimed, and threw it. He hit a rabbit. The other two scattered.
"Darn, guess I have to wait until the next time."
"Go get it."
Rolling his eyes Richie set out to retrieve dinner. "Mac, it's still alive!" he yelled.
"Then kill it," Duncan instructed.
"Break its neck."
"So is letting it suffer."
"No way. You do it."
Duncan killed the rabbit but made Richie skin it, build a fire, and cook it.
"Mac?" Richie said as Duncan chewed on dinner.
"I can't eat this."
"Have you ever seen Bambi?"
Duncan rolled his eyes. "It's a cartoon."
"I know, but there was this little gray rabbit and... I just can't do it."
"Well, it's all we have, so you either eat it or you starve."
Richie stared at the half a rabbit on a stick in his hand for nearly ten minutes before taking a bite out of it. He forced himself to eat all the meat off the bones and then forced himself to keep it down. They slept that night by Richie's attempt at a fire the same way they had the night before.
The next day while Richie was tromping through the brush, Duncan stopped him. "Look at this."
"What another defenseless rabbit?"
"I am not eating those," Richie told him sternly.
Duncan placed the tip of his finger on a pellet. "It's still warm."
"I can't believe you just did that."
"What does that mean?"
"It means you're disgusting."
"No, not that. The droppings are still warm; what does that mean?"
"They're fresh?" Richie ventured.
"Exactly. Now look at the size and color. What animal?"
"I can't believe I'm doing this," he groaned and squatted next to Duncan. "A little one?"
"No. A deer. And it's somewhere near by." He got up. "Come on; let's see if we can find it. Be really quiet and follow me...and watch how I do it."
"That's it; I'm renting Bambi when we get home."
That night they made camp early to prepare the two bucks they had killed. They left the doe, because Duncan thought she seemed pregnant. They slept with full bellies both huddled next to the warm fire under their new deer skin blankets. For breakfast they ate the left over meat that they had wrapped in the rabbit fur from the night before.
Three days later, Richie had turned into quite the woodsman. Their pace picked up considerably and he could even kill his own game and skin it without almost getting sick. He even decided to try his hand at finding dinner on his own the fifth night of their expedition. Duncan agreed and settled down to make a fire while Richie ventured off into the dense woods to find some meat and maybe some of those berries Duncan had been pointing out to him on bushes. He was sneaking, tailing a pair of rabbits when he heard the familiar sound of running water. He abandoned his quest to investigate the sound and found the river that they had been working toward. And not only did he find the river, he found the canoe Duncan had tied up so they could cross.
Completely abandoning his task, he ran back to tell Duncan that he had done it and they could get to the island before sunset if they left now. Duncan just laughed at Richie's excited rambles as he explained what he had found, grabbing Duncan's hand and dragging him through the woods to show him the canoe.
"Congratulations, you passed."
They packed what they had collected into the canoe and made their way across the river. Richie went straight to the shower complaining that he could smell himself from twelve feet away.
"I'm starving," he announced dressed in a pair of sweats Duncan had taken to the cabin a few weeks before for the occasion. "I smell something cooking...tell me it's not deer or rabbit or fish."
"I thought you might get sick of that so..." Duncan opened the door to the wood-burning oven. Richie peeked inside at the bubbling cheese of the two frozen pizzas.
"This almost makes up for dragging me out here."
"There's beer in the fridge."
"Consider yourself forgiven."