[identity profile] you-legwarmers.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] wl_fanfiction
Title: Ten Days (Day 4/10)
Genre: Drama; friendship; angst
Rating: R overall; more PG-13 for this chapter.
Characters: Colin, Ryan, Brad, Jeff, Greg
Pairings: Ry/Col and some Greg/Jeff
Summary: Surviving for ten days in the wilderness is hard for one person, but for six, it's next to impossible.
Disclaimer: No offense intended, do not own any people/brand names, blah blah. Personal apologies to Greg Proops.
A.N.: Hey, look! A breather chapter. Yes, it is not all sunshine and pie from this point forward. This one's for temporary relief.

The last time Colin had eaten dried jerky was five or six years before this...adventure. He'd compared it at the time to eating a large, sweaty man's motorcycle jacket and Ryan had delivered him a disgusted look before pointedly throwing the still half-full package in the trash can. Dehydrated meat had no appeal in the real world, but when you were stranded in the forest and got to eat but once a day, it was a delicacy.

"You know, we can probably find food somewhere around," Colin pointed out to Ryan and Brad. "I admit it, I was hoping we'd be out of here by now. But since we're not, we may as well try to scavenge or something."

"Hell yeah," agreed Brad, who was easing back to his jovial self (but still treading cautiously with Ryan). "Let's kill a moose."

"Might want to study that geography a little," Colin told him. Moose were surprisingly scarce in northern California. Colin didn't know if it was legal for a Canadian to kill a moose anyhow.

"The last thing we need is to poison ourselves with a bad fucking berry after all this," said Ryan. But he too was tempted by the possibility of sustenance.

"Well, whether we find food or not, we definitely need more water." Colin had a point. They couldn't exactly blame Greg for having an injury which needed regular cleaning, but it certainly did deplete the already rationed water supply.

It had been almost a full day since the accident. Jeff slept off and on, drowsy from the four Tylenol Colin had discovered nestled in the first-aid kit.
Colin would never admit it, but he had hesitated to give Jeff the painkillers, wanting instead for Ryan to have them. But Ryan wouldn't take them, despite the fact that his own injuries weren't exactly healing quickly. Colin cared about Jeff, of course, but the rarely-explored dark part of him wanted Ryan to recover fully even if it meant Jeff suffered. It was stupid and selfish, he knew. Painkillers wouldn't fix anything anyway.
Whenever Jeff wasn't out cold, he was kneeling beside Greg, changing the blood-soaked bandages with his one good arm.
The fear inside of him was overwhelming. Fear itself was beginning to make decisions for him, and he knew it. If Greg...no, he wouldn't think about it...but if it happened, Jeff knew that he was going with him. No question.
It was terrifying to think about.

"I'm still kicking myself for not setting up something to collect water while it was raining," Colin continued. "Even if it wasn't clean, we could've used it."

"Hey, if we're lucky, maybe it'll rain again!" Brad joked.

"Not even close to funny, Sherwood," Ryan said. "And speaking of not funny, whatever happened to playing a game every day until we're rescued?"

Colin stared at his friend. "You're not serious."

"Yep. I was counting on a round of Questions to help us get through the day. It was your idea, Col," Ryan added after noticing the look on Colin's face. "I'm just, you know, sucking up to you." Brad avoided Ryan's eyes, cursing him for throwing his words back into his face and intensifying the guilt.

Colin almost smiled, sensing (or at least hoping) that Ryan was speaking in good humor. "Okay. Fair enough. But you picked 90 Second Alphabet, so I pick this time. We're playing New Choice."

"Am I callin'?" Brad assumed, standing up.

"No, I'm Colin. Get your head on straight and call the game for us." Colin took a pompous bow despite Brad's groans and Ryan's light punch to his shoulder. "Nice to know I'm still appreciated as the Pungeon Master."

"Shall we start?" Ryan interjected before the wordplay session got out of hand.

"All right," Colin agreed. "We're in a haunted house. Go."

Ryan chuckled at the rapidness of Colin's suggestion, and quickly sobered to begin the scene. "I can't believe I let you talk me into going in this house," he said.

"Who cares if it's haunted?" Colin responded. "Everyone knows there's ten thousand dollars hidden somewhere in here!"

"New choice," Brad said.

"Everyone knows there's ten thousand condoms hidden somewhere in here!"

"New choice."

"Everybody knows the best...recipe for cabbage soup is hidden inside the walls!" Colin exclaimed. "The owner of the house died without anybody finding it."

Ryan kept a remarkable deadpan. "Yes, but the ghost who guards the house is dangerous, Gary!"

"How can a ghost be dangerous, Phil?" Colin smirked at their use of Ryan's go-to generic names.

"The last person who went looking in here has never been the same, remember? He said the ghost was armed with knives," answered Ryan.

"New choice," interrupted Brad.

"The last guy who went in here said the ghost was armed with poison darts!"

"New choice."

"The last guy who went in here said the ghost was armed with--" He racked his brain for a rule-of-three witty choice. "Beauty! It was so seductive, no one could resist its evil charm!"

Brad's laughter indicated that this was a good response.

Colin picked up the suggestion. "There's mirrors everywhere! There's always mirrors in haunted houses for no good reason. We can deflect its own attractiveness rays back at it."

"Okay," said Ryan. "But we have to find it first."

"Yes, let's actively search for the homicidal ghost," Colin said dryly.

Ryan slapped his forehead exaggeratedly. "Oh, right. We came for the cabbage stew."

"Soup," Colin corrected, feigning exasperation. "You see? This is why we never go monster hunting anymore."

"New choice."

"This is why we never go scuba diving."

"New choice."

"This is why we're no longer partners!"

"New choice."

"This is...the worst vacation ever!"

"New choice!"

"Your shoe's untied."

"But I'm wearing, uh, stiletto pumps," said Ryan with the holding-back-laughter look he so often wore when Colin threw something completely random out.

"Oh, my mistake. I thought you were just that tall." Ryan tried to glare at the Canadian. It didn't mask his fit of laughter. "Listen, I have a confession. There's not really a ghost in this house. I just wanted to get you alone."

"Why?" Ryan raised an eyebrow.

"Well, there's some complications I need to discuss with you."

"Don't tell me you've taken a new lover!"

"New choice," Brad said quickly.

"Don't tell me you lost all your inheritance money!"

"New choice."

"Don't tell anybody, but I've fallen desperately in love with--"

"New choice!" Brad exclaimed, raising an eyebrow at Ryan.

Ryan pursed his lips, annoyed at the interruption. Brad wanted him to be honest? He could do that. "Don't tell me you chose to tour with an immature prick when I'd been asking you to tour for months."

A very brief, very tense silence followed. Colin groaned; the comedic mood had shattered like weak ice. "Let's not do this again, guys."

"No, why don't you let him finish his thought?" Brad said, raising his voice daringly. If Ryan wanted a confrontation, he would get one.

"Actually, that was pretty much the gist of it," retorted Ryan, not missing a beat. He'd be damned if he let Brad intimidate him.

"Fuck you. I already said I was sorry about yesterday. Can we just forget it?"

Ryan glared daggers; even sitting down with one bad leg, he was frightening when provoked. Brad flinched involuntarily. "No. That's the kind of comment I don't let people get away with without an explanation. Where do you get off judging Colin and me?"

"I told you, I know it was out of line! I was starving and I lost my temper. And how was I supposed to know you wanted the tour gig?" Brad sounded defensive, and rightly so. He had honestly been unaware of Ryan's grudge against him, and this felt like more than just a frustrated vent on Ryan's part.

Ryan scowled for a moment more. Then he sighed, his anger melting away. "All right, it's not your fault. But anybody with half a damn brain could see how much I wanted to leave. To get away from all the shit in L.A. I knew it was wishful thinking that Col would go with me if I got the chance, but hey, the whole idea was crazy anyway." He laughed bitterly, coughing a little as he spoke. "So it was a fantasy, you know? But then I realized he actually wanted a tour partner. And...I guess I kind of assumed it'd be me." He looked at Colin then, straight on. His green eyes, clouded and dull, were unmistakably wounded. Not angry, just hurt. And Colin wondered how he could have ever turned Ryan away.

"Brad, uh, would you..." Colin didn't need to finish his sentence. Brad was already walking away to give the two their space, relieved that the tension wasn't his fault after all. They are so fucking weird, he thought, not without appreciation.

Colin faced Ryan again once Brad was out of earshot. "I wanted it to be you. I did. But stuff was getting complicated. Messy. People were already talking, remember? Not friends or family, but acquaintances, press. Even fans."

Ryan remembered. "They wanted us together. It wasn't even about the show for some of them. The fans, I mean."

"Right," said Colin. "It was weird, and it was screwing with my head. You know why I shut out, don't you?"

Ryan shook his head. "'Cause it wasn't professional. I mean, that's what I always assumed."

"Stiles, when the hell have we ever been professional? It was screwed up because--fuck. You're really making me admit this now?" He gave a half-smile and continued. "I wanted them to be right, okay? I started to see what they saw. And then...you know."

He knew. They both knew what had happened next. It had been at a late night celebration for something or other. Neither remembered who was hosting, but it hadn't been Drew. It was late summer and the stars were practically visible in the hazy Los Angeles sky. There was alcohol involved, but not enough that they could have brushed it off as a drunken mistake. Because it wasn't. That kiss, the real first kiss, was incredible. Beautiful. But by their vows, it was still wrong.
Simply, Colin had understood that he and Ryan weren't the center of the universe. And Ryan had realized that he wasn't Colin's whole world after all.

"That was it for me. It was either abandon everything else, grab you, and run away, or leave you alone for awhile and keep it safe. And I was a coward, Ryan. And I'm sorry." He meant it. Colin rarely spoke so much at once, so it was understood between them how sorry he was.

Ryan didn't need to hear any more. He'd always known the reasons for their distance weren't easy to explain. And now they were laid out clear in front of him. But what surprised him was that Colin wasn't pushing him away this time. He wasn't telling Ryan that the old days were over, that the feelings were gone and they should just forget it.
He wasn't giving any reason that Ryan shouldn't pull him close, cup his surprised face in his giant hands, and kiss him right there, feeling the embers of long-dormant love warming their insides.
And that was exactly what he did.

------------------------------------------------------

Jeff had given Greg his windbreaker, leaving him shivering in a t-shirt and the shirt/sling on his arm. It didn't seem to make much difference to Greg, though. No one in the group was particularly medically inclined, but Jeff was pretty sure that not regaining consciousness after twenty-four hours wasn't the best sign. Or is that just for head injuries?, he second-guessed himself. For that matter, what the hell knocked Greg unconscious anyway?
It was agonizing to wait when he didn't know what he was waiting for in the first place. The bleeding had slowed--was that a sign of healing or did it just mean Greg was running out of blood?
Jeff's chest twinged in pain at the thought. He forced himself to drink a couple sips of water. Colin was right; the water was running low. Wherever Wayne was by now, Jeff hoped he would bring plenty of water back with him.
Stupid, he thought. If you're going to daydream, think big. He'll come with a rescue team and magic healing fairy dust. And a giant stack of pancakes. How did that song go again? Flippity-flap, flippity-flap... Was this what being delirious felt like? It wasn't all that pleasant.
He ran his hand through Greg's hair absently. It was soft, curly, and matted with dirt and grime. Had he felt the touch? Jeff thought he'd seen his face move just a little bit.
Maybe not.


Brad returned just before sunset--well, dark. The sun hadn't yet made a reappearance. He was carrying a colorful assortment of foliage and berries, a large, full bottle of water, and a very smug grin.

Colin assumed it was a hallucination. "Or it's all poisonous," he said. "Either way, it's too good to be real." He smiled genuinely for the first time in days.

"How many times have I told you not to underestimate me?" Brad said in a mock disappointed tone. "The thingy came with a little pocket survival book. Chapter 12, section B: List and diagrams of edible wild plants."

Colin could have hugged him. "And the water?"

Brad shrugged. "It was from a stream, if that helps. Running water's safe, right?"

"Not necessarily," Colin cautioned. "But maybe we could boil it...and it means we don't have to ration the cleaning water anymore..." He was excited, moving with more energy. "And you're positive it's all fine to eat?"

"I triple-checked the book. If I though there was even a possibility it was unsafe, I didn't touch it," assured Brad. He grabbed an empty drawstring bag off the little pile of supplies and brushed it off. He lay the newly gathered food on top. "Uh, those are walnuts. These are coffee berries. They don't taste remotely like coffee, so don't ask. And the green..." He flipped the little manual open, squinting. "Oh yeah. Some kind of wild lettuce. If you boil it with water it has the consistency of spinach."

"Fascinating," Ryan said, not paying a bit of attention. "Let's eat it, what are we waiting for?"

"One second," Colin held up a finger. "Brad, could you find the spots where you found this stuff again if you looked?"

"Yeah, that's the easy part, man."

"All right, go crazy."

They each took a handful of the feast, leaving enough for Jeff and, hopefully, for Greg.
The lettuce wasn't big or crunchy, or particularly good for that matter, but it was edible. The misnomer berries were juicy and tart, and the walnuts were the closest thing to a filling meal they'd eaten in two and a half days or so.

"Fuck yeah," was the general commentary. Even Jeff looked a little better after eating a few bites.

"I'll go back with you and we can get more," Colin told Brad. "Jeff, Ry, between both of you, you have three good arms and three good legs. Any chance you can boil some of the water while we're gone?"

Ryan rolled his eyes at the tasteless joke, but he was comforted by the fact that Colin was making jokes in conversation. "I think we can handle it."

--------------------------------------------------------

"Ughh. Ow. Fuck, get off."

Jeff had never heard more beautiful words.

"Owww! What the fu..."
Greg's confused cry of pain was cut short by Jeff, who was, for some reason, hugging him. Well, his right side anyway. The left side was a fucking torture trip, aggravated by the tiniest touch.

"Hey," Jeff said in a shaky voice. He was crying a little. What the hell had happened?

"Mmm," was Greg's reply. Clearly his body wasn't functional, but the questions in his head were growing exponentially.

"Here," Jeff said, offering him a small bottle of water. The last full one. But there would be more soon.
Greg was still weak and exhausted, not to mention in horrible pain. He wasn't going to be sitting up anytime soon, so Jeff helped him to drink the water until his throat wasn't so dry.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"Same place we were before," answered Jeff.

"'Fore what?"

"Shit. You don't remember?" He was met with a blank stare, deep brown eyes already starting to close again. "Greg. Stay awake for a minute, okay? We're lost in the woods. We were camping, remember? There was a fire and we had to run to someplace safe, and you got hurt."

"Who else...?"

"You and me and Colin and Brad and Ryan and Wayne." He spoke their names slowly, as if he himself would forget.

"Where're they?"

"They're around," Jeff said quickly, deciding to elaborate later. "Anyway, we outran the fire. We've been waiting here, but there was a storm yesterday. A giant branch fell off a tree and...it, uh, kind of landed on us. So you've been kinda comatose all day, and...yeah. That's what happened to your side there."

"Fuck. Hurts." Greg could barely form words through the combination of pain and fatigue.

Jeff felt a pang inside himself. "I know. It's bad. But it'll be okay."

Greg raised one eyebrow, making Jeff smile at the almost iconic expression. "Are...you okay?"

"Me?" Jeff was startled. "Um, my arm's broken, and my ribs might be, too. But other than that..."

"I win," Greg told him, smirking.

"Hey, is he awake?" Ryan called over to Jeff.

"No, Ryan, I'm talking to myself," Jeff called back.

"Fuck yeah!" was Ryan's response. "I'd go over there, but tell him I re-sprained my ankle when I tackled Brad."

"Can hear him," Greg muttered.

"He can still hear you, dude," Jeff informed Ryan.

"Hey, just as long as he's not talking."
Had Greg not slid back into the hazy zone of unconsciousness just then, he would have laughed.

---------------------------------------------------------

Colin was more than relieved to hear of Greg's apparently improving condition when he and Brad returned with double the amount of the same foods Brad had brought before. But as the woods grew completely dark and he lie with (not just "next to", but with) Ryan, he expressed his worry. Apprehension was gnawing at him, but it was impossible to place the source.

"I'm honestly pissed off that the best expression to describe how I'm feeling now is 'we're not out of the woods yet'," he told Ryan quietly.

Ryan grinned, but it was the truth. "I know. It's like we're jinxing ourselves. Three shit days and then one slightly less shitty one."

"It's not just that. Greg isn't better." Saying it out loud was more painful than expected. "He's not recovered in any sense, and as much as I hate saying this, he still might..."
Colin paused, the weight of the implied words prompting Ryan to squeeze his hand. "Anyway, that's not even the whole issue. You saw Jeff."

"Yeah," Ryan whispered. He began to understand. "It was like his whole world fell right at his feet. And now he thinks it can only get better."

"I'm worried for him," admitted Colin.

"I am, too. I'm worried for all of us. I'm worried for you." He kissed Colin on the side of his face. Colin drew himself into Ryan's warmth, burying his head into the tall man's chest.

"We'll find a way out of here, won't we?" he murmured.

"'Course we will."

"Just glad you're here."

Ryan sighed, content. "You, too."

He thought Colin had fallen asleep until he heard him say one more thing.

"I love you, Ryan."

"I love you too, Col."

They slept. They dreamed.

Date: 2015-05-07 09:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fta2008.livejournal.com
Thank you for this chapter, it's kind of nice not contain a lot of problems. I like Brad goes away FOR speak Ryan and Colin alone. Greg wakes up this a delightful.

Date: 2015-05-08 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vampyresss.livejournal.com
Another update already?? You're spoiling us!

feeling the embers of long-dormant love warming their insides. This was my favourite line and I loved the little bit of fluff at the end.

Curious to see where Wayne is though :)

Date: 2015-09-14 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roseofpain84.livejournal.com
"Ughh. Ow. Fuck, get off."

Jeff had never heard more beautiful words.


This made me laugh. Not funny under the specific circumstances but still.

Also, the conversation between Ryan and Colin in the end...<3 <3 <3

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