[identity profile] you-legwarmers.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] wl_fanfiction
Title: Ten Days
Rating: R (For emotional turmoil, language, and some violence/gore.)
Genre: Friendship; drama
Characters: Colin, Ryan, Wayne, Brad, Greg, Jeff
Pairings: RyCol; Jeff/Greg
Summary: Surviving for ten days in the wilderness is hard for one person, but for six, it's next to impossible.
I hope people are still reading this! Looks like I'm the only one posting lately. Sorry for the delay, too. And I am so sorry for this chapter. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own the story. I own none of the actual people portrayed and/or mentioned therein.

Much debate ensued over whether the new campfire should be left overnight. They had held off for as long as they could before eating. It was nearly dark and getting chilly outside, a cold front apparently blowing overhead. A fire was necessary not only for cooking, but also for heat and light.

"Sure, leave it overnight and we'll do another random midnight relocation. Nothing says safety like an unattended campfire," was Greg's sardonic comment.

Wayne frowned. "Look, the other fire was just a fluke. It's not like this is for fun. We need the light, and there's a good chance we'll need the heat."

"And we're not leaving anything unattended," Colin pointed out. "Someone has to watch it at all times."

"I don't like it," Jeff said anxiously. "It's too much fate-tempting for me."
The nearby sound of thunder rumbled, silencing the debate.

"Well, that settles that," muttered Brad. "Can't do much with a fire in the rain." That was the sky's cue to unleash rivers of cold rain upon the un-sheltered men.

"Fuck me upside down," mumbled Greg, the rain-intolerant Southern California resident, miserably.

"That's a challenge none of us have the strength for right now," replied Ryan.

"Can't we at least cuddle together for warmth?" Jeff whined mockingly. Without waiting for an answer, he dragged himself over to where Greg sat reclining against a still-relatively dry tree. Greg stiffened, wincing, as Jeff made contact with his left abdominal region, and Jeff noticed.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Greg quickly said. "Probably a bruise or something."

Jeff frowned. "I barely touched you."

"And I wasn't expecting it, so I flinched. Fucking sue me." Greg was not in the mood for prying eyes.

Colin watched the two of them with suspicion. He knew his friends, and Greg only shifted from good-natured sarcastic cynic to full-on asshole when something was hurting him. Whether physical or emotional, pain was not something Greg Proops reacted to unless he deemed it completely necessary.

"Greg," Colin said as gently as possible (given the interminable rain dripping heavily from the leaves above; it tested anyone's patience), "if anything was wrong, you wouldn't tell us. We know that. So just show us and we can judge how bad it is."

"Fuck, I said it's nothing!" Greg snapped.

"You're being a drama queen," Jeff exclaimed, losing patience and grabbing Greg's shirt and pulling him closer, causing him to shout in surprisingly deep pain. A slight stain of blood appeared on the fabric. "Oh god, what the fuck did you do?"

The shirt was removed completely, exposing a gaping, freshly bloody puncture wound. The skin around it was bright pink and hot, and dirt had collected around the edges from sleeping on the ground.

"How the hell did that happen?" Colin raised his voice in concern, examining the wound with caution.

"I fell when we were running from the fire. Must've landed on a sharp stick. Shit, that looks worse than I thought," Greg said.

"Of course it's worse. It's probably infected, you idiot," Ryan told him. "You should've said something earlier."

"I really think we need to try looking for help, guys," Wayne tried, but Greg cut him off.

"No. In twelve hours, it'll be the time for Dan to send the bus back here. Or to the camp, I guess. Either way, they'll know we left and they'll find us. We're waiting."

The group sat in tense silence, all feeling different levels of discomfort. Colin was skeptical. Brad and Wayne were concerned. Ryan was flustered, scrambling through his mind for a solution. But Jeff was angry as hell.

He hated that Greg never asked for help when he most needed it. And he hated that he hadn't pushed him more, earlier, before the injury had gotten worse. He hated the forest and its fucking fire for driving them to desperation, he hated the rain for being wet and cold, and he hated the certainty that they were indeed lost and, despite what anyone said, most likely wouldn't be rescued anytime soon.

When the lightning began, all hell broke loose.

"We're in the worst fucking place for a thunderstorm, it's been pouring for eight goddamn hours, and shockingly enough, I still don't see a bus here, Greg!" Brad was shouting. The guys had long abandoned the idea of staying dry, but lightning was a whole different story. Especially in a forest.

"Well, there's not much we can do about it now!" Greg had to raise his voice to be heard over the thunder. Jeff was crouching next to him protectively as if attempting to shield him from the storm. It would have been annoying from any of the rest of them, but Greg was too exhausted to argue.
Colin and Ryan had temporarily abandoned their inhibitions and were practically sitting on top of each other. Ryan kept rubbing his sprained lower leg, pretending it didn't hurt like a grizzly bear was gnawing on it. Combined with the bad weather agitating his back, the pain was sufficient. Colin knew this, and it hurt him to see Ryan trying to hide it. Ryan knew as well as anyone that he couldn't hide anything from Colin. Colin could read everything about him. And each time Ryan drew a sharp breath, squeezing his eyes shut to block the pain, Colin was there to hold him a little tighter.

"It's damn cold," Wayne groaned, knowing he was stating the obvious. The hell with it, he decided. As soon as the storm clears up, Brad and I are out of here. It wasn't fair to expect them to wait while their friends sat waiting for hunger or fatigue or god-knew-what-all to finish them off. Not that he actually expected anyone to die, but still. Greg and Ryan were in no shape to go anywhere, and Jeff and Colin would no sooner leave their sides than leave their own bodies.

"Wonder what time it is," Greg said aloud, mostly to himself. "Apparently the guy who can tell time from the sun is useless when the sun isn't out. Go fucking figure." Even in dire situations, Greg found it difficult to relinquish his snark and sass.

"It's time to eat, that's what time it is," said Brad, standing up and snatching the first can of food his hands touched in the box.

"No. We said we'd wait until the rain stopped," Colin reminded him.

"Yeah, and I'm changing my mind. It could rain all day and there's plenty of stuff left," Brad retorted.

"There is no plenty. We have what we have and then it's gone," snapped Ryan impatiently. "You can wait another few hours."

"Who the hell put you in charge?" Brad found the sudden authoritative tone from Ryan annoying. "I'll eat my share if I feel like it."

"You can starve later, then. We won't stop you now, but you're not getting shit later," Ryan answered, not in the mood for Brad's juvenile attempt at rebellion.

"The hell I won't. Nobody gave you the right to play dictator here. Or are you just sucking up to Colin and pretending we won't notice when you start shoving your tongue down each others' throats?"
The words were out before they had registered fully in Brad's mind. The tirade was climaxed by a deafening crack of thunder from above, distracting the guys for a second while Ryan took his opportunity to leap to his feet, adrenaline almost numbing the pain in his leg. He had smacked Brad, closed fist, straight across the jaw before anyone realized what was happening.

"Fuck you!" he spat, delivering a second punch aimed at Brad's throat. Wayne and Colin were on their feet, dragging the two men apart with some difficulty. Ryan was furious, not to mention deeply humiliated. He would have strangled Brad then and there had the blinding bolt of lightning not missed them by a mere ten yards or so, severing a giant oak branch which plummeted with a crash to the soaked earth.
Utter terror. The gravity of the situation spiking through their veins.

"I...I'm sorry," said Brad in a strangled voice, almost a whisper. He sat slowly, head in hands, while a silently fuming Colin gently helped Ryan and his re-injured leg back to a reclining position.

"Guys?" The four of them had nearly forgotten Greg and Jeff, still under the largest tree, until Jeff spoke up, voice trembling in a way that no one who knew him could have imagined without hearing it.

"Oh my god..."
Wayne didn't need to complete his thought. It was right in front of them.

Jeff spoke again, struggling to catch his breath. "The branch...it's on me. I'm trapped."

No one made a move. Wayne, the only one still relatively calm and not tending to an injured person, asked, "Trapped where?"

"Arm. Broken, I think. And--agh!"

"What is it?"

"Chest. It's pretty much all across my chest. Shit, that hurts. Get over here."

Brad and Wayne complied, observing the damage. Stopping. Seeing. Taking in the grisly sight.

"Jeff?" said Wayne, taking a slight step backwards.


"Did you...forget that Greg was sitting next to you?"

"He wasn't," Jeff insisted through a clenched jaw.
But he was indeed, and no amount of denial could eliminate the presence of what appeared to be a fountain of blood spurting out of a gaping, jagged wound shaped like an open mouth. What had five minutes prior been a mildly infected puncture wound was now ripped flesh, snagged on the side of a four-hundred-pound tree limb, exposing the horrible innards, weeping more blood with each pulse beat.

"Ughh..." was all Brad managed to say before vomiting behind a nearby bush.

"Tell me," choked Jeff.

Wayne shook his head, afraid to speak, swallowing hard in hopes that he himself wouldn't vomit.

"Fucking tell me! I can handle it! What I can't handle is not knowing! I can't see him, damn it! God, it hurts so fucking bad!"

"It's bad," managed Wayne. "It's really bad."

"I don't...fuck. Is he...no, wait. I don't want to know... Shit!" He started to sob. He tried to curl up into a ball and screamed in frustration and pain when he realized that was impossible.

"No, I don't think so. Stop trying to move! You'll make it worse." Wayne gestured to Colin, who stood reluctantly. He hobbled over and dared to glance at Greg's motionless form. He quickly shifted his eyes to Jeff, who looked bad but still repairable. Definitely a broken arm. Ribs likely cracked. Colin knelt next to Jeff.

"You don't want to make it worse, trust me." He awkwardly tried to place a hand on Jeff's shoulders, one of which was pinned between his body and the ground. Jeff looked directly at Colin's face, the expression in his eyes indescribable.

"It's already worse. This is the worst." He took several fast, deep breaths and tried again. "Is there any way?"

Colin knew what Jeff was asking. And he wasn't asking about himself either.
"I don't know. Maybe. We're going to move the branch, okay?" That was the first step. That was fixable.

Brad rejoined Wayne and Colin, avoiding their eyes. "We moving this thing?"

"Yeah. Carefully. Jeff, don't try to move when we get it off. You need to stay still." If we can get it off, Colin amended silently. The thing was enormous.

"Here, I'll take the middle," Wayne offered. Colin grabbed the left end; Brad, the right. "Lift slowly. Get a good grip. On three?" Brad and Colin nodded. "One. Two. Three!"

It was denser than it looked, and the bark was slippery from the rain. It took two more attempts before it was off the ground (and the people on the ground) entirely. The three men managed several steps backwards before it became unbearably heavy, and they dropped it down with a thud. Jeff and Greg were no longer trapped under the weight.

"Shit. My chest hurts," Jeff told them.

Colin nodded. "Rib's broken, probably. Maybe two or three. Uh...Brad, give me your shirt." Brad was the only one who had a light button-down over his t-shirt. It was filthy, but he yanked it off and tossed it to Colin, who made a makeshift splint with two sticks and began to set Jeff's arm.

"Don't help me. Help Greg," Jeff insisted when Colin had finished. Using his good arm, he lifted himself into a sitting position, grunting with the strain on his ribcage. He looked over at Greg and promptly choked into sobs again.

"Well, that's helpful," Colin muttered, attempting to stall his own emotions for the time being. He needed to keep his composure and use the very limited first-aid he knew to help his friends. Then he could break down. But not yet.

There's a good possibility we won't all make it out alive, he realized grimly.

The rain was stopping.


Cold. Cold and wet. But the storm was gone, leaving destruction behind. Ryan wanted to help. He wanted to fix everything. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to die.
Most of all he wanted to go home.
The sun wasn't out, but it was considerably lighter than it had been. The time didn't matter anymore. The temperature had dropped about fifteen degrees, leaving them all shivering and soaked to the bone.

Jeff was asleep, exhaustion having taken over at last. Greg was...well, all that could be said was that he didn't look any worse. Colin had managed to clean and at least partially bandage the wound thanks to the first-aid kit. It was still horrible and disgusting. And the unmentioned possibility that nothing could fix it was still very much present.

Brad blamed himself irrationally. Part of Ryan was glad. The bigger part, although still angry, knew that no one was to blame. To place the weight of blame on any single person was to guarantee the loss of a chance at survival. But he still wasn't speaking to Brad.

Wayne had left without warning. Had anyone noticed, they would have stopped him. But he was long gone, desperate to find any sign of aid. There was no point in going after him. So the remaining five waited. Anyone still conscious was praying for a miracle.

Ryan reached over to Colin, sleeping a few feet away. His large hand brushed Colin's upper arm, and Colin rolled over to face Ryan.

"Hey," he said quietly, inching closer to close the distance.

"C'mere," Ryan muttered.

"I'm here," Colin told him. "Not going anywhere."

They wrapped themselves around one another, hands and legs entwined. There, they appeared to merge into one whole being, fear and pain and desperation opening into love and comfort in the space of seconds.

"You're cold," said Ryan, rubbing his thumb across Colin's jaw absently.

"Low body temperature. Canadian," was Colin's halfhearted response, punctuated with a sleepy smirk.

"...'m Canadian too," slurred Ryan, nodding off. It was easier now than it had been (two? three? a hundred?) nights ago on the inflatable mattress with his leg in one piece. It was no question to him why, despite the unspeakable events of the day, he felt almost safe.

He was right, Ryan thought before succumbing to sleep completely. This was our wake-up call. And if I need a reason to get out of here alive, it's right next to me.

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