Chapter Nineteen: Pickle Juice

A/N: Yea. The title was Libby's idea. I couldn't think of anything, so I used that. ::shrugh:: Yes, "shrugh". Anywhoo . . . I FINALLY UPDATED! ::FALLOVERDEAD!:: I was thinking . . . If people get all hot and bothered about Sitka's name . . . I might change it to Sèka . . . But only IF it's a problem. So . . . Enjoy!!

The four mercenaries traveled for three days and two nights across the barren wasteland. They traveled by the light of the moon, and they slept during the day. A'Jete made a lean-to of canvas each day to ward off the worst of the sun's rays. They ate mostly dried food, for it was too hot to make a fire, and they moved quickly at night. Greava was tired and footsore, though she never said anything to her companions. If she was going to fit in, she'd have to prove to each one of them that she was able to keep up.

On the third day, they traveled during the daylight hours as well. Jareki had said that this was because they wanted to reach the forest before nightfall; Sitka had said, in his usual monotone, that this was so they could get back into their normal sleeping patterns; A'Jete had said it was because the sun was doing murder to her complexion, and she wanted to get out of "dry, dusty nowheres-ville" as soon as possible.

So, now it was night, and Greava sat under a tree close to the fire, reading from the book Kietra had given her. Jareki was, once again, cleaning his broadsword. A'Jete was talking quietly to Sitka (Who didn't really do much replying; however, A'Jete seemed okay with this). All of them were tired, but they didn't feel like sleeping.

Greava smiled at the quote on page 60: "Life is driven by our choices. Whether they be made by you or someone else. Character is defined by what happens as a result of these choices. It's like a huge game of chance. The minute you get cocky and overconfident, you loose all of your money. It sure sucks, don't it?"

Greava looked up sharply as she heard A'Jete shouting, "You jerk! I oughta --"

It appeared that Sitka had done something to annoy A'Jete, and now they were fighting.

Sitka, however, dodged all of A'Jete's advances deftly as she shouted at him, "You lame-brained, dimwitted --"

She cut off as Sitka caught her right hand coming from above, and her left hand coming from below.

The two looked at each other for a moment before – ironically – A'Jete leaned forward and kissed Sitka on the lips.

The boy sighed and released A'Jete's wrists. "Why," he began, "do you always do that when you're about to lose?"

"I wasn't about to lose," A'Jete replied angrily, punctuating this by slapping Sitka right across the face.

Greava witnessed this all with slight amusement, shock, and bewilderment. She snapped out of a slight daze as A'Jete huffily walked towards her.

"C'mon," A'Jete growled, grabbing Greava by the wrist and dragging her off. "We're going to have some female bonding time."

"An activity she formerly did with Sitka," Jareki muttered.

Greava looked back at the two men as she was dragged off into the forest. Jareki was still cleaning his sword – and activity he seemed to do often – and wasn't paying attention to any of this.

Sitka, however, gave Greava a blank stare: his eyes blue eyes meeting her dark brown ones.

And, after a moment, he turned and walked in the opposite direction of the two women.

Of all the pain she had endured in all of her life, this, she decided, hurt more than all of it put together.

A/N: Aw . . . A depressing end to an otherwise funny chapter. I dunno when I'll get to write the next one. So, just bear with me.