I sat up and stretched loudly, earning me two pairs of eyes on me. I looked over at them and seeing they were staring at my bare chest, blushed and quickly zipped up the jacket over me, avoiding their stares. I crawled over to them and sat next to Kobra.
The slouched figure of Ghoul came and slumped down next to Jet, who just nodded and continued burning our meat. I didn’t look at Ghoul, knowing the exact colour my face would go if I caught his eyes on mine. Instead I focused on Kobra, pushing him towards me, one hand on his back.
“How are you?”
He smiled at me, neither of us yet properly awake and wrapped an arm over my shoulders, giving me a half hug.
“I’m fine! Stop worrying!”
I just rolled my eyes at this, chance would be a fine thing.
“Of course, I’m going to worry, I’m your brother, stupid! It’s in the job description!”
He grunted at my feeble attempt at a joke and turned to watch the fire, he was probably hungry after not eating yesterday but both he and I knew it was still too soon.
“You been sick again?”
He shook his head and continued watching the fire. I looked up to catch Jet looking at me over the flames. He nodded at my raised eyebrows confirming what I had already guessed, Kobra had been sick again, he just didn’t want to worry me. I pulled Kobra in for a proper hug, planting a kiss on his cheek. He just batted me away, grinning foolishly at me for being so soppy. I could feel Ghoul’s eyes on me but chose still not to look at him. Jet cleared his throat and was met by three looks as he continued to poke the fire with a blackened stick.
“So I was wondering,” he begun, still not making eye contact, “Why are you wearing Ghoul’s jacket?”
He lowered his eyes quickly from mine as he looked up to show the question was directed at me before coughing awkwardly again, probably wishing he could take the words back. Kobra was looking at me too and my face filled up with a colour so familiar over the last few days that I was surprised it didn’t chose to stay that way permanently. Ghoul looked uncomfortable when I looked over at him, choosing to watch the fire instead of looking at me. He probably felt bad for what had happened, probably felt embarrassed that in his sleep deprived state he had tried to kiss me. I felt ashamed by this but what had I really expected, him to like me too?
“So, think you can run today?” Jet filled the silence, obviously changing the subject but we were all glad of the breach in the quiet. Kobra looked up at him and nodded enthusiastically. I caught a glint of something in his eye, could it be pain? He was probably still weak from the day before, having not eaten, we all knew he wouldn’t be able to run. Jet looked embarrassed for asking and opened his mouth again to talk.
“Okay or you can’t run! It’s just that I’m not sure if I carry you again, my feet are killing me!”
He rubbed the soles of his shoes to prove a point and I could feel my feet throb in response to his words. I would carry Kobra alone if I had too, but something told me I wouldn’t last long.
“We need to keep moving though,” I spoke up and three heads nodded along with mine.
We hadn’t covered enough ground and we couldn’t slow down. Not after we had gotten this far.
“We could walk?” Ghoul’s suggestion received a frown from me but he still wasn’t looking at me so didn’t see it.
“But-“ I began
“Don’t you see, it’s the only way we can carry on. We would be making some progress if we didn’t stop til nightfall and that way Kobra could walk by himself. Right?”
Ghoul turned to face Kobra who nodded slightly, probably still wanting to protest that he could run but giving in to this new suggestion. I still frowned at Ghoul but gestured towards the plates which he passed me and I started putting meat on three of them; I felt bad for Kobra as he watched but it really was too soon for him to eat.
“If we run, I can carry him!” I spoke, trying to sound strong.
Despite the strength in my voice, this was still met by laughter. I was glad of the laughter when it had been Ghoul’s last night but not now when they were laughing at me!
“What?” I asked trying to sound angry but failing, the sight of my brother laughing happily made it difficult to stay cross.
“No offence, honey but you’re not exactly macho!” Ghoul winked at me mischievously as he spoke.
I picked up a scrap of meat and aimed it at his head. It landed in his hair and he flapped it away, throwing me a death stare. I just stuck my tongue out at him cheekily and finished filling the plates. I passed one to Ghoul, whose hand tickled mine lightly as I passed it to him. I tried to stay looking normal but could feel myself getting a little hot as he winked at me again, his plate now in his hands. How could he do that to me so easily? I cursed myself for being so stupid, passing Jet his meat and settling back down in the sand. I avoided Kobra’s look, he had probably caught that last wink, and if not that then the flirting before might have done it! Still though I just stared at the fire and fed small pieces of meat into my mouth. Eventually, my brother sighed, giving up on trying to get my attention and packing away the supplies. Jet finished his food first and began putting out the fire, spreading the wood out with his feet so that it was less obvious we had been there. I finished my meat and packed the plates away, leaving Ghoul’s to the end. His plate was clean but I knew if I looked hard enough at the ground around him I would find his meat scattered there. Nevertheless as soon as we moved on, some animals would happily feast on it so I didn’t need to worry about the meat signalling our location. While I cared about him wasting meat, I knew he had only done it to get me and the others off his back about not eating and decided to leave it for now. Not that I imagined I could get angry at him, ever…
“I’m sorry about this,” Kobra spoke up, making me realise that we had been in silence up until then, “If I wasn’t sick then we could cover more ground an-“
“Don’t apologise!” I silenced him with a steely determination in my eyes which he recognised straight away and looked away from me, “It’s not your fault!”
He looked as if he was going to say something, meeting my eyes again, looking so guilty. It made me feel sad and in that moment, I knew I would do anything to make him smile again.
“Yeah, it’s Poison’s fault for making us eat raw meat!” Ghoul grinned at my open mouth, his smile infectious, causing my lips to twitch upwards.
I gave him the finger, causing him to giggle and I saw the flash of his tongue as he stuck it out at me, scrunching up his eyes in an adorable way. My mouth dropped a little more at the sight of his tongue and I snapped it shut quickly as I realised Jet and Kobra were watching me. Ghoul just smiled and moved to his feet, preparing for the walk ahead. I sighed loudly and pulled myself up, feeling my feet scream in protest but ignoring them and setting my eyesight on the glowing desert horizon.