Camping In The Woods

Part 1

Steve Sloan walked into the hospital in the early hours of the morning. He was supposed to meet Jesse here 10 minutes ago; he hoped his friend wouldn't be too annoyed with him.

"Steve!" Jesse's jubilant voice greeted him upon entering the doctor's lounge. He looked up at the detective with a huge grin on his face, he was so eager to begin their little camping trip.

"Hey, Jess," Steve greeted him in return. "Sorry I'm late, had to finish up some stuff".

The young doctor merely shook the matter aside. "No problem, Steve," Jesse told the other man.

"Are you ready to go now?" Steve asked, enjoying the other man's exuberance.

Jesse nodded ecstatically. "Absolutely," even as he spoke, he was making his way towards the exit.

Steve shook his head and followed him out, smiling.

Soon, they were packed and on the road. The reserve they were heading to was some 4 hours journey away and Steve had a feeling that Jesse would be pestering him long before then.

As it happened, he was wrong about his friend. Jesse was completely enraptured by the sights around him and spent most of the time practically glued to the window.

"Hey, Steve, look over there," Jesse cried excitedly as they got their first glimpse of the reserve that would be their home for the coming days. Steve looked to where he was pointing and smiled.

"Get used to it, Jess," he told his friend, "that's where we're staying".

"I don't think I could ever get used to that," the younger man said, completely awestruck by the astounding view. Steve nodded in agreement as he, too, took in their new surroundings.

Finally they arrived at the entrance to the reserve and, by the laws in force there, left their car at the main entrance. "Got all your stuff, Jess?" Steve checked as he saw the other man adjusting the straps on his bag.

"All set," Jesse said, hauling his bag onto his back.

Steve had to try not to laugh at the comical sight of his small friend carrying a rucksack that practically dwarfed him. "Jess, you'll never be able to carry that all the way to where we're going," he said as he walked away into the forest.

"I will too, you wait and see," Jesse challenged, following behind Steve.

Admittedly, after hiking for over an hour, Jesse was beginning to feel the strain. But, stubborn as he was, he refused to ask Steve to rest. The detective, though, seemed to sense his friend's exhaustion, for he turned to face him and said, "I think this is far enough, why don't we pitch here for the night?"

Jesse smiled gratefully at the older man and nodded in agreement.

Steve put the tent up and sent Jesse to look for firewood, accusing him of being clumsy and saying he would only get in his way. Still, Jesse had done as he was told eagerly enough.

The tent was up and ready when the doctor came back. "Hey, Jess, what d'you think?" Steve asked as soon as the younger man emerged from between the trees.

Jesse looked up and appraised his friend's handiwork. "Not bad," he said, moving a full circle around the tent, "will it hold the night?" A mischievous smile lit up his face.

Steve playfully swatted at his head, but Jesse easily dodged out of the way. Unfortunately, while committing the manoeuvre he caught his foot on a branch and ended up flat on his face.

He sat up shakily and found Steve at his side. "You alright, Jess?" he checked.

"Yeah, just bruised," Jesse replied, excepting Steve's aid in getting up. "Thanks," the doctor said gratefully.

"No problem," the older man answered, amiably. "Now, what d'ya say we unpack and get some food cooking?" Steve asked of his friend.

The mere mention of food was enough to catch Jesse's attention. The young doctor looked up at the older man, saying, "food did you say?"

Steve could only shake his head in exasperation before taking the lead to preparing a fire. Jesse hovered impatiently nearby, occasionally asking how long he would be. "Jesse, why don't you help out a little and go unpack our stuff," Steve finally said, having become increasingly irritated with his friend's relentless pacing.

"Sure, Steve," Jesse agreed, relieved at having been given a task to distract his mind from the prospect of food.

When the last item had been unpacked and settled into their shelter, Jesse returned to the fire, which had burnt down to low embers. Steve was now busy cooking a meal of what Jesse could only assume was some sort of stew.

His stomach growled, reawakened by the aromas being sent up from the cooking pot, and he tried to quell his rising eagerness to fill it with their first camping meal. Steve had promised him with an all out wilderness experience, and although he hadn't expected to be eating wilderness food, he found he was keen to try something new; especially as it was food.

Finally, Steve moved to grab the two bowls that had been left out in preparation for their meal. Jesse, seeing this, sat forward eagerly. The detective had been watching for his friend's reaction and smiled fondly, idly wondering if he was prepared to take care of the other man's famous appetite for the duration of their trip.

"Here you go, Jess," Steve said, passing him a bowl of the steaming stew, "tuck yourself into that".

Without a word, Jesse snatched the proffered bowl and took a cautious sip. His features lit up with pure delight at the multiple sensations that warred for his attention. "This is brilliant, Steve!" he exclaimed, excitedly.

Steve smiled warmly. "I'm glad you think so, Jess, 'cause there's plenty more where that came from". He continued to watch as Jesse rolled his eyes in pleasure, before starting on his own bowl.

With a contented sigh, Jesse sat back, having satisfied his hunger on three full bowls of the delicious stew. "Had enough have we?" Steve commented dryly.

Jesse nodded, not detecting the note of amusement on the older man's tone. "This is going to be the best holiday ever," he said with certainty, as he and Steve cleared away the dishes, washing them thoroughly before packing them neatly away again.

They had no idea how wrong they were.

-

Author's Note: Woo Hoo! New story! Don't worry, I haven't forgotten my other obligation, but I needed a change. Read, review, enjoy, but don't forget to let me knowwhat you think!

Bye for now!!