“Well, that certainly doesn’t look good.” Saeki sighed.
“You got to be kidding me, right?” Yamato snapped. “This is terrible.” He gestures to the broken gas stove. “Which genius DIDN’T test the stove before he brought it along?”
Kunihiko gave an apologetic chuckle and raised his hand. Yuta laughed. Drawing in a deep breath, Yamato was about to say something when Takao cut in.
“Well, we still have the fire pit.”
“We’re gonna spit roast like a bunch of cavemen?” Yamato groaned.
“If you want to go hungry, I have no problem with that.” Kunihiko shrugs. “So, how we gonna do this?”
“We get firewood, duh!” Yuta spits out a last few giggles before pulling himself together. “Come on, Saeki! Let’s go get some branches!” The black haired youth followed him away from the campsite into the trees. Yamato grumbled and threw himself down on the picnic table seat. Kunihiko gave him a shove.
“Ahhhhhhh.” Yamato rolled his eyes. “Just when I got comfortable too.”
“Come on, come on!” Kunihiko pushes him off the picnic table and into the tree line.
Ren and Takao were bent over the fire pit.
“So, we build the teepee formation if we want a taller, roasting fire.” Takao was rearranging a few of the logs previous campers left behind. The blond boy was listening intently, and helping him stack the wood. “How does that look?
“We could have a bit more kindling.” Ren ducks his head and peers into the hole they left in the side for air. “This stuff looks pretty solid and hard to catch.” His friend picks up the knife and starts stripping away the bark of another branch, slicing curls of wood into a small pile.
“We’re back!” Yuta grins as he waddles up to Ren and dumps an armful of wood into his arms. “How’s this?”
Ren drops the heap of wood with a grimace and he quickly brushes dirt off himself.
“It feels really wet.”
“What does that mean?” Yuta glances down at his own shirt, smudged with a bit of mud and green. “Oh that’s kinda yucky.”
“I mean,” Ren sighed. “It’s not going to burn well. Wet things don’t burn.” He lifts a sagging branch and gives it a sniff. “This smells too fresh.”
“Do we have to find new ones?”
“Not exactly.” Takao peers at the wood. “If we can start it up, we can dry these over the fire and they’ll come in handy later?”
“Leave it to Takao to come up with solutions.” Kunihiko laughs as he rejoins the group. “How’s this? Crisp and dry.” He drops firewood onto the ground. Yamato comes up behind him with more of the dry and burnable material.
Ren steps in to inspect the wood, while Takao sits back down to shave more kindling off his branch.
“Does this help?” Saeki holds out a stack of paper. “For fire starting?” Without looking up, Takao takes the papers.
“What is this?” He puts down the knife and looks at the top sheet. “M231.01 Great Literature?” He looks up at Saeki with grey eyes. “You’re burning your homework?”
“Well, I don’t need it anymore.” His friend grins. “And it will help our fire, right?”
“Oh, I got some too!” Yuta claps his hands and runs off. He staggers back with two binders stuffed with worksheets and essays.
“You really should keep these for future reference.” Takao flips through the stacks of papers. “Both of you.”
“Not like they’ll ever use it again.” Kunihiko shrugged. “If they want to burn that stuff, let them.”
“Gosh, get on with it, book boy.” Yamato snatches the papers from Takao and crumples one into a loose ball and chucks it at Ren. It bounces off his head. Ren glares at his friend and stuffs the scrunched paper under the logs.
The fire was an excellent roar now after dinner, the boys sitting on folding chairs around it. Each one had a branch and marshmallows roasting over the flame.
“Ahhh!” Yuta cries out when his puff catches fire and draws his branch close to him to blow on it. Beside him, Saeki grabs his water bottle and empties half its contents over it. “EW! SAEKI! Now it’s all wet!” Yuta complained and pouted at his black lump.
“That’s what she s-“
Takao elbowed Yamato hard in the side, a blush flooding over his face, visible even with the fire glowing upon their features.
Stifling a laugh, Kunihiko tossed the bag of marshmallows at Yuta. He caught it with a grin and plunked two more fresh puffs onto his branch.
“We should tell scary stories.” Saeki sat back onto his chair and blew on his lightly singed marshmallows, picking away the black part with his fingertips.
“That’s so childish.” Yamato rolled his eyes. “Who still does that?”
“What do you suggest we do then?” Saeki flung Yuta’s discarded burnt marshmallow at his friend, who dodged nimbly and glared back.
“Discuss life, the universe, and everything.”
“Wow, Kuni, leave it up to you to be deep.” Yamato huffed and squished one of his marshmallows into a s’more.
“Well, what do you want to talk about?”
“Gosh, Saeki, seriously?!”
“Shhh, Ren’s sleeping.”
“He’s sleeping his life away again.”
“Let him be. I bet he’s tired.”
“He didn’t do anything different than the rest of us!”
Takao sighed at his friends and went over to Ren, easing the branch out of his hands and wrapping Ren’s jacket around his shoulders.
“Look at big brother Takao being the mature one again.”
With the fire put out and the food packed away safely in the minivan, they managed to heave Ren into the tent and tuck him into his sleeping bag.
“He owes me big time for carrying him.” Saeki muttered quietly with a faintly amused look.
“He owes all of us big time. We should have done what I said and just left him there as bear bait-“
“Fine, fine, I wasn’t gonna leave him out there anyway! Just kidding!” He kicked out his sleeping bag and snuggled deeper into it.
“Just settle down and sleep.” Kunihiko mumbled. “We still have lots of stuff tomorrow. Hiking and swimming and all that jazz.”
“I’m so excited!” Yuta’s voice peeped up from the corner. “Guys, we gotta do this more often.”
“Shhhh.” Kunihiko sighed and rolled away from Yuta.
“Ow, Kuni, you’re on my foot!” Saeki yelped and the calming aura in the tent sparked up with alertness again.
“Saeki, shut up.” Ren grumbled from the side, having been woken by the commotion.
“Good night, guys.” Takao’s voice sounded in the dimness as everything settled back down.
“Don’t let the camp bugs bite!”
“Shut up, y’all kids.”