~ By the time Team 6 got on their way, the still hidden sun was just beginning to color the horizon a radiant orange. Jaden felt that his spirit had improved considerably from the night before, but he was still incredibly tired, not to mention on edge in the constant expectation of attack. He did take heart in the fact that Andrew didn't seem to be in a terrible amount of pain. As they walked Andrew talked and joked softly with Takyle while Jaden followed, lost in his own thoughts.
"Just press on," he told himself. "How much worse can it get?" Jaden immediately began berating himself for the thought. He knew very well that it could get much worse and he held to the illogical belief that by even thinking he had hit rock bottom, he was just begging for the floor to drop out.
"So then I said to her, well I'd like to see you take that to the bank!" said Takyle with a laugh in her voice. Beside her Andrew grinned.
"Ok Ta, either I'm missing something here or that is a lot less amusing than you think it is," he said in a teasing tone.
"Oh come on! Maybe you had to be there to get the full effect, but that was damn funny!"
"Alright, if you say so," Andrew conceded with a laugh, slipping his arm around Takyle's waist and pulling her toward him.
"Geez, Andrew, you're breaking my stride," she scolded gently, but didn't pull away immediately.
"I'd do more than that to you, given the chance," Andrew replied, flashing her a grin that could charm the legs off an insect.
"Andrew, you're not a douche; don't act like one," said Takyle, pushing him away from her.
"Ok hun, I'll only act like a prat from here on out, scout's honor."
"Were you ever even actually a scout?" Takyle demanded.
"Yes, I absolutely was. I earned all kinds of badges. The tracking badge, and the fire badge, and the assisting the elderly badge, and the knot tying badge, and the bird feeding badge."
"The bird feeding badge, ey? I bet those learned skills have a lot of applications in your day to day life."
"You'd be surprised!"
As they crossed the side of the mountain, the scrub brush and stunted trees grew thicker but in front of them they could just see the top of the tower that they were headed toward. In the dawn's light the flashing beacon at the very top of it was dimming. It appeared to be an old fire watch tower, the tiny cabin at the apex enclosed with windows on all four sides.
"What the deuce could there be in an ancient fire tower?" Jaden wondered. ~