''BETHANY PARKER! MY MOTHER COULD RUN FASTER THAN YOU AND SHE'S DEAD!' James's voice echoed off the high stone walls that the black shirts were running alongside of. Bethany scowled at James, who in turn shot her a confident, cocky look then turned around to face his sister.
''What's wrong Lauren? Is it really that bad having your brother as a boss?'' Lauren shot a sideways glance at James who sported the trademark white shirt of a training instructor. And boy did he have the attitude for it. Grimacing, Lauren decided she would ignore the latest remark about their mother.
''Aww, what's wrong Lauren? Did I make you sad?'' Lauren knew her brother was just trying to get a reaction (as usual) so he could find another way to make use of his authority and have her doing some form of punishment, but that didn't stop her from getting angry. Every time. The words 'Shut up asshole' could've probably been heard from a mile away as Lauren turned to give James the most vicious look she could despite sweating and panting from a long early-morning run. Even though her best friend, Bethany, was in front of her, Lauren could almost feel her smile.
After another three miles of running, the black shirts had finally made their way up the steep hill that was located thirty minutes away from the Cherub campus.
''Alright everybody. You had better start building your shelters before it starts raining, otherwise you'll fail. Also, if your tent doesn't survive the night, you'll fail as well. Good luck!'' As James walked away, Bethany went over to Lauren, her steps heavy from the morning's exercise.
''Your brother's a dick, Lauren. What the hell is his problem?'' Even though Lauren privately agreed with her best friend's statement, it still made her uncomfortable when James was insulted in front of her. Instead, she just said ''Well... Let's just start with that tent, okay?''
It took Bethany and Lauren an hour and a half to finally settle down with their tent. The entire group had been put into pairs and were told to find a suitable space to camp for what promised to be a stormy night. The girls had found a clearing on the other side of the hill where it was flat enough to erect a makeshift tent of some kind. The only problem was that there were no trees to provide natural shelter from the rain which was beginning to fall and, despite Lauren's best attempts to convince Bethany that they needed a sturdier shelter to cope with the strong wind which was whipping leaves across the forest floor; they still ended up with a small, flimsy tri-pod based tent. After another hour of trying (and failing) to make a fire, the girls decided to get some rest.
Lauren looked towards the tent Bethany had insisted on making. It was tiny, and looked like it could fall over any second. Just as Lauren was going to question Bethany's interesting choice in camp for the thousandth time that evening, a familiar voice rang out loudly through the clearing.
''Hey! How's my favourite baby sister and her... friend.'' Lauren always resented the way her brother addressed her best friend. And yet, at the same time, it hardly bothered her.
''What do you want James?'' The words left Bethany's mouth as though she was spitting venom. In a way, she was. James rolled his eyes; he had long become immune to Bethany's little tantrums. As he turned his head to taunt Lauren once more, he caught sight of the pair's attempt at a tent.
''What the heck is that?'' He said, laughter in his voice as he pointed an accusing finger towards the offensive pile of plastic, leaves and sticks. ''That,'' he continued, ''Will never survive the night. In fact, it's a miracle that it's survived up until now. Whose crap idea was this? Wait. Let me guess. Perhaps it was the self-obsessed, overly confident little...''
''JAMES! I don't care what the FUCK you think, okay? The tent's fine! Piss off!'' By this point, all reason had left Bethany's head, her face going a peculiar shade of red. The type of red you see when children don't get their way.
''Bethany, please. See some reason. Look at that thing. It nearly collapsed when you shouted just then.''
''Go away, James.'' Lauren knew the situation could only escalate and would probably leave her having to listen to Bethany bitch about her brother all night, a prospect that Lauren reckoned was less than inviting.
''You know what? Fine. What do I, the instructor, know anyway? I mean, look at that thing! I'd totally feel safe sleeping in that.'' With that, James turned his back to the two girls and kicked out his heel backwards into the flimsy supports. The two girls held their breath as the tent wobbled back and forth for several heart stopping moments. Just as they thought it would be safe, the whole tent shuddered and shook before falling to the ground in a mess of string and twigs.
''Whoops. My bad! Good luck with that, Lauren, Bethabitch.'' After he had nodded in each of their directions in a mockingly polite way, James began to make his way back up the hill, presumably to where he had set up camp. 'A stronger, better camp' Lauren thought as she looked over to where her best friend was kneeling on the sodden ground and was just beginning to tidy up the mess that was once their tent.
''What are we going to do, Beth?'' Bethany looked up sharply, and then proceeded to get up and point her finger in Lauren's confused face.
''This is your fault, Adams. You just let your bastard brother waltz over here, insult me, destroy our shelter then walk away? What's wrong with you, Lauren? I thought we were friends.'' With that, Lauren snapped. She felt her face flush, her chest tighten, and her head go slightly delirious.
''Guess what? James was right. That's why you're so pissed off. We both know that stupid tent wouldn't have been able to fit both of us, let alone survive a fucking storm! What's wrong with you, Bethany? You're supposed to be a Cherub, not a selfish, immature, ignorant...''
Lauren couldn't finish her sentence. She was interrupted by a literal slap in the face. The sharp sound resonated around the two furious girls before Bethany stormed off down the hill, leaving Lauren alone, with a pile of sticks and plastic. The sun had set just before James had come to check on them and without shelter, Lauren would not only be unable to sleep, but she would fail the test too. The rest of Lauren's evening consisted of her trying to build a sturdier tent, despite the rain and darkness.
''GET UP!'' Lauren's eyes shot open as her brother's familiar booming voice shattered her well needed rest. ''I expected more of you two. You were supposed to be up half an hour ago. But since you have such a nice shelter, I'll forgive you. Even you, Parker.'' Parker?
''OW!'' Bethany snapped as something that resembled a muddy combat boot kicked her. ''I'm awake, James!'' As Lauren turned over, she saw her. The familiar brown mop of messy hair, the tanned skin, the slightly muddy and scratched, Bethany. Lauren leapt up to get a better look at the situation. After about a minute Lauren was filled with rage for the third time that training session. Bethany had come up the hill in the night, and gone into the shelter. Her shelter. She couldn't believe it.
Lauren frowned, an obvious line showed, formed from years of being surrounded by people she had deemed less intelligent than her. "Good morning, Bethany. Did you have a lovely sleep? So, mind telling me what the FUCK you're doing in MY shelter? Do you have any idea how much time it took me to make that? While you were off moping somewhere, I was actually working. Then you sneak up here like the bitch you are and try to take credit? What's wrong with you?'' Tears ran down Lauren's dirtied face as her best friend started to get up, rubbing her head where James had kicked her. ''If you didn't want me to sleep in it, why did you make it big enough for two people? Or are you trying to tell me that all our years of friendship vanished after that one little argument? We're on a fucking training exercise. I was exhausted and starving. You can't blame me for how I acted!'' Lauren blinked, considering this, but something about the way Bethany was trying to keep a straight face gave Lauren the confidence she needed. ''You think you can trick me, Bethany? I know you're good at twisting words. Well, maybe I don't consider you my friend anymore!''