Author Note: Short, very short is all I have to say. The following chapter will be longer I'm sure.
The days following Ambrose Burnside's fall into the stream were not as easy going as the previous. Glances were exchanged between the group, smiles hidden as Cadets ducked their heads and looked down. All wanting to say something but not wanting to upset the brooding teen any more than he already was. He was rather sore about the fun they made and wanted them all to know it. not that it caused them to lose any sleep.
George Pickett slapped at his own arm, "Where did all these insects come from?" He asked irately, sleeves rolled to the elbow in the lasting summer heat.
"I'm not sure," Lo answered glumly, scratching at a bite on the side of his neck when a harsh thump to the back of his head made him scowl.
"Winn what was that for!"
The Cadet in question rubbed his hand on a pant leg, "Believe me, if you saw the size of that thing, you'd have done the same."
They continued to move through the trees, tired, sore, and in need of a real meal. They finally came to a clearing that seemed suitable to set up camp, John Buford recognized their surroundings.
"We should be back tomorrow, if we keep a good pace."
"Good pace?" George asked, "Not with this one." He pointed to John's younger companion, "Colonel Slow over here has been holding us up."
He said it in a joking manner, but they could hear the fatigue underneath, they all felt it.
"Come on, George," Lo muttered quietly, pulling his tent half out of his haversack and tossing the leather bag to the side. "He's not even a Cadet, the fact he's held up out here is good enough for me."
A few of the others nodded and the youngest of the group, Thomas Devin, looked at Lo appreciatively. Too quiet and feeling out of place to really speak up much.
They had all gotten fairly quick at getting camp set, all of course for the one non-Cadet, who still had trouble with the white canvas and rope. A little fire flickered and they sat in amused silence as the last tent was still being put together. George sat tossing little twigs into the flames, watching them catch fire with the occasional glance at the hapless teens. He'd smile at the two across from him before continuing his task of breaking up the small branches. Ambrose, or Burn as George had started calling him, had already fallen asleep.
Lo smirked and leaned back on his elbows. "It was him snoring the other night."
Winn nodded with a poorly hidden smile, he looked over at the other two still fighting ropes. "You sure you don't want a hand?"
John gave him a look that only made his smile grow. "Four hands are enough I think." He sighed, retying another knot that wasn't tight enough.
"Don't say I didn't offer."
The sun was disappearing behind the horizon when the last of the tents finally made it up, their numbers had dropped by then. George had become quiet, which was unusual for him, an obvious sign of just how much energy they were all using. Lo and Winn across from him had both been dozing. George saw it all coming before anyone had a chance to do anything about it.
The tent they'd spent most of the evening putting up was coming back down, over them. Thomas Devin gave a cry of surprise and stumbled out of the tent opening, John following behind with a look of exasperation on his face.
Lo and Winn had both shot up from where they had been reclining, looking about in bleary eyed confusion and shock. The only one not affected it seemed was Ambrose Burnside.
George looked up, smirking, though it as a half hearted, tired gesture. "Didn't go to your liking did it?"
John was silent a moment, staring back at the canvas covering the ground. He sighed before running a hand through his hair and looking down. What happened next surprised all of them.
They watched him a few moments, glancing between themselves, before George finally began laughing himself. It didn't take long for "the inseparables" to follow suit. The long hot days had worn them out, and for an event such as this that wasn't even that humorous, suddenly became the funniest thing any of them had ever experienced. Thomas had stood silently, somewhat put off and annoyed at what had just happened. Seeing the others laughing though caused a small smile to break across his face until, he too, was in a fit of laughter.
There was a violent movement of a tent flap opening, and the only Cadet that had truly been asleep looked at them all angrily.
"Do any of you know what sleep is?"
George slapped his shoulder, "Ah Burn, sorry we woke you. I know how much you need your beauty sleep."
This caused the snickering to pick up again, Ambrose looked about at the others with a critical eye before speaking in a sour tone.
"Lord knows you all need it."
George leaned back, surprised that his little joke was turned back on him. Light teasing was something he did, if you were too good to toss a few remarks back and forth lightly then he usually wasn't one to spend much time on you. For as serious and aloof as his tent mate had been the whole trip, the others could easily see this arrangement wouldn't last back at school.
"Now, look here-"
"Guys please," Lo and Winn looked at each other slightly surprised, having spoken at the same time.
"It's not that big a deal." One started.
"Just go to bed Burn." The other ended.
Clearly outnumbered the irked Cadet withdrew and disappeared into the tent, before long light snoring could be heard.
"We're going to-"
"-hear that all night."
George stared at them both a moment, an eyebrow raised. They both looked at him questioningly, speaking together. "What?"
He shook his head, "How do you do that!"
He rolled his eyes, "That!"
They both looked at each other and shrugged. Lo smiled, "Not sure, we have since we met."
George smirked, "If I hadn't met Hil I'd think you two were the brothers."
The inseparables smiled, obviously it wasn't just them, the others had noticed it too. Lo stretched, yawned, "Doesn't bother me any. What about you Winn?"
"Can't say I have a problem with it."
They fell into silence again, watching the tent go back up. They would offer help if they thought it would be accepted, and if they weren't so tired. Before long everyone was settled once again, John and Thomas already falling back to sleep in their repaired tent. Those still not in their own quarters were quickly trying to remedy that, and in moments the camp was silent.
George laid back cringing, it would be awhile before he fell asleep. He tried to give himself some encouragement.
One more day, only one more day.