Chapter Eight: Of Being Home Bound. Eventually

A/n: So here's the final chapter. I won't keep you long, I just want to thank you all for being so supportive through the ups and down of this story. Without further ado..

Yumi awoke with a start, body jerking itself into consciousness. She noticed one of two things to begin with. The first of which was the stiffness in her back and the second was the fact her pillow was moving.

"Ugh," she groaned, stretching her legs out.

"Morning to you, too," a voice, clouded with sleep, answered back.

"Ulrich?" She rubbed her eyes and tilted her head to look at him. The morning sun was absolutely blinding, so the girl shut her eyes again, cursing silently to herself.

"Sleep well?" Ulrich teased. She forced herself to sit up and stretched her back.

"It wasn't the sleeping, it was the waking up part that sucked." She shivered in the coolness of the morning and Ulrich wrapped the sleeping bag around her shoulders as he sat up.

"How about we start a fire?" She yawned, cheek laying on her shoulder, eyes shut tight.

"I'll start breakfast. Will you get me some more wood, please?" He planted a kiss on her forehead, stretching as he stood up.

"What do you plan on cooking?" He cast a weary glance over his shoulder. She pulled the sleeping bag tighter around her, breathing in his lingering scent.

"Pancakes." Visibly relieved, he headed past the trees. Standing on wobbly legs, Yumi moved towards the car where the cooler was being stored. She grabbed the bag with the paper plates and plastic silverware and the pancake mix from the cooler when she heard the zipper on one of the tents.

"Morning Yumes." Someone reached over her shoulder and took a water bottle. She grabbed the cast iron pan and glared.

"Odd Della Robbia!" He gave her a grin, offering her a bottle as well. She hurried over to the fire pit, the nights events fully surfacing in her mind. She dropped the sleeping bag off her shoulder and punched the blonde in the arm. "When did you get back? We were up all night!"

"Ouch! Yumi!" She hit him again. "Ow! I'm sorry! It was late! We got lost!" She gave him one final punch and turned back to the fire pit. She put the pan on the pit and lit the bit of wood that was left to warm it up. By the time she had started the first batch of pancakes, Aelita was crawling out of her tent.

"Odd! You guys made it back!" He gave her a wave as Ulrich dropped an armful of wood on the ground next to his girlfriend.

"Lucky him. After the scare you gave the girls last night you're lucky you're not walking home." Yumi eyed the brunette.

"Now there's an idea."

"Hey!" Odd protested. Ulrich sighed, snatching up his discarded sleeping bag.

"I'm going to start loading the car."

"I wanted to go swimming in the lake before we left," Yumi pointed out. "Real swimming. Not fall-out-of-a-boat swimming." The brunette shrugged.

"Alright. I'll leave out your bathing suit and your cover up, but I'm taking down the tent. Call me when breakfast is ready?" She gave him a smile.

"Thank you."

"You two act more and more like a married couple ever day," Jeremie yawned, sinking down next to Aelita.

"I have fire at my disposal, Jer," Yumi said with a glare. He shrugged.

"Just saying." Odd stretched.

"Guess I'll wake Sammy up." He used Jeremie's head to help him up and headed towards his tent, glancing over at his roommate who was currently folding up a second sleeping bag. "You, my friend, are whipped and feeling guilty." Ulrich looked up as he zipped Yumi's duffle.

"It was funny for an hour, Odd. Maybe even two hours. Yumi started to panic and she wanted to call out the park rangers. I thought at any second she'd burst out in tears. She thought you two were dead, Odd." He turned his back on the blonde and pulled the first stake from the ground. Odd felt a moment of remorse, but it was quickly shoved to the back of his mind. Turning on his heel, he entered his tent.

Sam was curled up on her side, hair pulled back out of her face, sporting one of Odd's tank tops. The blonde grinned at the sight, crawling in next to her under the pile of sleeping bags.

"Sammy, wake up," he whispered, wrapping an arm around her waist. She groaned, rolling over to snuggle into his chest.

"Way too early," she murmured.

"Breakfast is almost ready." She nuzzled her face against his shoulder.

"Stay in here; nice and cozy." He grinned, pressing a kiss right behind her ear. She squealed, fists pushing away from him.

"Don't!" she whined. He did it again, and this time she brought her knees in, pushing away harder but he held tight.

"Up," he said sternly.

"Fine." Another groan and she was sitting, rubbing her eyes with one hand, the other locked with the blonde's.

"I'm up, ok?"

"Mhmm. We're eating and then going swimming."

"Swimming? Ugh!" He pulled her against him.

"Don't blame me, it was your partner in crime's suggestion."

"Dead. I'll kill her." She kicked at the sleeping bag still covering her legs. Pulling a hoodie over her head, she allowed Odd to drag her in her sleepy haze from the comfort of the tent into the warm morning sun.

Piles and piles of pancakes, an hour an a half, and an outfit change to bathing suits later, Aelita was toe to toe, well toe to shoreline if you want to be specific, with the lake.

"Uh, guys? Aren't you suppose to wait an hour before swimming?" There was that, and the fact that the water was about four degrees. Ulrich and Odd exchanged glances as they dropped the towels on the dock. Less than an instant later, they had seized Aelita up off the sandy-rocky shore by her waist and legs.

"Guys, put her down!" Jeremie yelled, running to the girls rescue.

"Down?" Odd echoed, glint in his eyes. Aelita squealed, kicking her feet, half laughing half screaming.

"Seriously you guys!" she said, flailing her arms. Ulrich side-stepped Jeremie trying to pull the girl away from them and the duo hurled the girl into the waist deep water just off shore. She screamed after she surfaced, teeth chattering. "Ulrich! Odd!" The fiery pink haired girl splashed them on the shoreline.

"Would you behave, children?" Yumi joked, dropping her towel next to the boys. Ulrich locked eyes with her.

"Hey Yumi," he sang out.

"No. Ulrich? No!" He ran up to the dock as she started backing away. "Don't you dare!" He grabbed her around the waist and forced both of them into the water. Sam merely shook her head, laying down on the dock to tan.

"Touch me and it will be the last time, Odd," she warned dryly. The boy slunk away from her, his attempts thwarted. As Yumi spluttered to the surface, she let out a stream of foreign curses, pushing at Ulrich's hands, all the while trying to get her sopping hair away from her face. The brunette simply, laughed, kicking his feet to keep them above the water.

"Come in, Jer," Aelita laughed, splashing him before falling backwards into the water, causing a small 'plunk' noise. The blonde gave her an exasperated sigh before indulging her, wading into the shallow water. "Catch me if you can!" And she swam a fish for the deep water. Huffing, Jeremie swam after her.

"Cannon ball!" Odd ran the short distance to the end of the dock, jumping over where Yumi was still laughing, struggling against Ulrich, and splashed into the water. A wave washed over the couple and Yumi managed to escape Ulrich. When the blonde surfaced Yumi forced him under by the shoulders, front flipping over him.

"Yumi!" he spluttered. Ulrich laughed, leaning back to float on the surface. "Ah ha!" Yumi's scream rang out a little louder than earlier.

"Della Robbia! Give that back right now!" Her arms are wrapped around her chest; absent was one bikini top.

"Come get it," Odd challenged. Diving past Jeremie and Aelita in the middle of the lake.

"Odd!" Red faced with anger she tried to swim, on arm reaching out, only to snap back to cover her when Odd smirked. "Consider your life over!" Sam peaked open one eye and chalked it up to payback before going back to tanning. Aelita gasped, choking on her laugh as Jeremie finally caught up and grabbed the girl around the waist.

"Give it back, Odd," Ulrich demanded, casually swimming over to the group. Odd dangled the bikini by a string.

"She was fine with being topless yesterday," he insisted in a teasing manor.

"I hope you're fine with never having children because you're this close!" Yumi barked though gritted teeth. Odd laughed sheepishly, dropping the bikini top on the water to take off towards the shore. Yumi snatched it up, dunking herself to put it on underwater.

"Hey!" Aelita yelled, splashing Ulrich. "No peeking!" The boy turned his eyes to the sunny blue skies.

A hot summer, a cool lake, and six very good friends. Boredom was the problem, camping was the solution. And now they'd go home; back to the mundane day in and day out of Kadic life. Summer would always be there, waiting in June, waiting anywhere where there was sunshine and good times and the friends that would last a life time.

There would always be nights worth camping.