Beau stared at his screen, intently watching the two blips that were Dan and Sam. He had read a bunch of information on the website about all the participants and was relieved if nothing else to know that Dan wasn't traveling alone. Additionally, he found out why Dan's mom couldn't access the page, a password was needed; Dan had given the correct one to Beau but not his mom.
So Beau simply told her they were on the road but very little else. He wasn't sure how long she'd be satisfied with a response like that and he was starting to think that he would have to come up with an arsenal of excuses and little white lies to prevent Dan's mother from finding out that not only was Dan not taking part in his youth group's (Beau didn't even belong to a youth group) camping trip but also the true nature and cost of the trip he was actually on.
'I'll have to write down all the excuses I give her so I don't forget them and goof up.' Beau thought.
Dan and Sam approached a small town, actually it was only a gas station and a general store next to a few small houses right on the side of a secondary highway.
"Hey Sam? How much money do you have?"
"I dunno, hang on. Ten dollars."
"I only got fifty." Dan said. For some reason it never occurred to Dan before he left that his debt card wouldn't work in many of the places he would visit along the way.
"Well I was thinking we'd get a can of beans and some bread at this store."
"I have an idea, let's see if we can sell my old tent." Sam suggested.
"I doubt they'll take it, they're in the business to sell stuff not buy it."
"I'm going to try." Sam walked into the general store with confidence and offered the owner his deal. Dan waited outside; he sat in the grass near the store rubbing his sore feet.
After about ten minutes Sam emerged from the store with a smile on his face and a bag in his hand.
"Well?" Dan asked grinning.
"I'm not quite sure what happened there." Sam said.
"What do you mean?"
"I went in looking to sell my tent and next think I knew I was agreeing to trade it for food. Not only that, but he was the fastest talking deal maker I've ever dealt with."
"Did he rip you off?" Dan asked concerned.
"Well no, at least I don't think so, he talked so fast that I don't know what kind of deal I got."
"Well what do you have in the bag?"
"half a dozen cans of pork and beans, a bag of cheese buns, a box of milk, a half a dozen eggs, and $40"
"Hey good job, and you got us some food. Let's keep going bud." 'Damn, I did it again.' Dan thought as he started walking.
The boys walked down to the creek where Sam filled a freezer bag with cold creek water and put the box of milk and the eggs inside. "They'll stay cool this way." He said.
At 6:00, camp was made once more on the bank of the creek that the boys had been following. Now however, the creek was considerably smaller; just two feet wide.
"When we leave tomorrow we better fill some water bottles because we might not be near water for a few days." Dan suggested.
"Good idea." Sam said as he rested his sore feet. "It's getting mountainy... is that a word?" He asked.
"You know what, I don't know. But I do know we made almost 40 km today, so we're getting into the mountains now."
"There's going to be a lot of climbing ahead of us."
"Yep, how are your feet?"
"Not bad." Sam lied.
"Let me see." Dan took a look at the bottoms of Sam's feet.
"Ouch bud, they look sore." He said as he got out his big washing/cooking/multipurpose pan and filled it with water he'd been heating on the stove, plus a little from the stream. "Don't wanna burn you." Dan said as got the right temperature.
"Here, put your feet in this, it should help a little." He said as he placed the pan on the ground in front of Sam. Sam put his feet in and closed his eyes and smiled.
"Feels good." He said as he relaxed.
"Good, I'm glad." Dan smiled at Sam for a few seconds then went to finish putting up the tent and unrolling sleeping bags inside.
"Hey Dan, come try this." Sam called.
"Say what?" Dan poked his head out from the tent.
"This water, it really feels good."
"I dunno, my feet aren't that bad." Dan mumbled and disappeared back into the tent.
"Hey, you wouldn't take a no from me, I'm not going to take a no from you, come out here." Sam ordered. Dan grinned, had it been anyone else in the world including Beau, he would have laughed at the feeble attempt to make him do something and said 'make me' but it was Sam and he was trying to be friendly so, "I suppose I could use it." Dan sighed as he emerged from the tent once more and walked over to where Sam was sitting. Sam got up and poured a little more hot water into the pan and placed it in front of Dan who cautiously submerged his feet in the soothing water.
"Wow, that does feel good." Dan sighed and closed his eyes as Sam had done. When he opened them he caught Sam watching him with a smile on his face. Sam quickly broke eye contact and sat down next to Dan on the log. Dan sighed and rubbed his eyes, Sam moved closer to Dan so their sides were touching, he carefully moved the pan over a little so it was between them then put his feet on top of Dan's. The warm water, and the pleasant human contact which included sitting so close to someone, was getting to Dan and he felt something stir in his pants. Looking quickly yet stealthily down he realized that he was only wearing his shorts and that it was very obvious. Feeling embarrassed he quickly pulled his feet out from under Sam's, plunged them back into his shoes and got up. Keeping his backside to Sam he said, "I guess I should make super."
"You okay?" Sam asked.
"Sure, fine...just thought I should do a little more work before I sit and relax...but don't worry, I got it all under control."
"Okay, are you sure you don't need any help?"
"Yep, I'm just going to start a fire then make supper, don't worry all is in hand."
"Okay then." Sam sounded upset and Dan started to feel that maybe he had noticed that he had gotten hard sitting with him and was now a bit disturbed. Stumbling off into the woods he used the hatchet to take out his anxiety on some dead wood.
It wasn't until 8:00 that supper was actually ready, as Dan had procrastinated and Sam had simply busied himself taking a few pictures of the camp and exploring a little for the perfect picture.
The boys sat side by side on a log in front of the fire each with a warm can of beans in one hand and a cheese bun in the other. "Good thing I had a can opener eh?" Dan mumbled as he dipped his cheese bun in and continued eating.
"It's good to fill my stomach again." Dan said.
"I bet I've already lost weight." Sam said.
"Careful you don't get too thin and disappear." Dan teased.
"Well you could stand to loose some weight yourself." Sam said as he reached over and gave Dan a pinch through his shirt.
"Hey, that's all muscle." Dan protested.
"Oh really?" Sam was sarcastic.
"Yeah, that's my one single, giant, rippling ab." Dan said grinning. Sam laughed.
The boys finished eating and Sam insisted on cleaning up. Dan just shrugged and pulled out his journal. Sitting back against a rock he wrote another journal entry including the following excerpt,
'...It's the weirdest feeling, somehow I just feel happy to be around him. It's different than any friendship I've ever had, I keep thinking more and more about him. And I actually worry about him, about how he feels and stuff. I'm really nervous though, I like him, he's a really cool guy but I don't want to creep him out.'
"Look at the moon."
Dan put down his book and saw the moon; big and white and rising in the east.
"Wow, you sure can see it well huh?" Dan said.
"Yeah, you know some of those craters actually have names."
"Sure they do, you know them?"
"No. Do you?"
"Well some of them, didn't anyone ever give you a moon map?"
"No, what are the craters called?"
"Well let's start with the big features, for instance, that's the sea of tranquility." Dan pointed.
"Come here." Dan said as he grabbed Sam by the waist and pulled him close, "right there, that big dark area off the tip of my finger." Dan said.
The next thing Dan knew he was leaning up against a rock with Sam in his right arm and mapping the moon with his left.
"...And that's the ocean of storms and..."
"Why do they call them that?"
"Because back in the day before telescopes people thought that those dark spots might be water I suppose."
"That's the Mare, it's a very large flat plain. There's Arastarchus crater, and see, right below it? That tiny one? Can you see it?"
"I think so."
"That's Kepler crater, they named if after a brilliant physicist who studded the orbits of planets and actually proved with only a small telescope and some really precise calculations that planets don't follow perfectly circular obits.
"Hang on." Dan said as he got up to pour two cups of tea and adjust his pants.
"Tea?" Dan asked.
Dan passed Sam his tea and even though it was no longer necessary he slipped his arm around Sam's back and sat close again.
"This is amazing tea." Sam said.
"Yeah, my mom made it, this is her secret blend."
"Cool. You know any other moon stuff?"
"Maybe, but the stars are equally interesting and easy to see tonight. And I think you can see...yep that's a planet over there."
"You know, I don't know. Oh well. There's the big dipper."
"Yeah I know my constellations." Sam said.
"Oh really? Can you find the constellation of Pegasus?"
"Never heard of it."
"Okay, see the spout of the big dipper?"
"Well imagine you drew a straight line connecting those stars and going all the way to the north star, then keep going further, across the sky all the way to that other set of stars that looks like an even bigger dipper with legs."
"That's the constellation Pegasus."
"Yeah, you know what's even cooler about it?"
"Well, look in between those two stars that make up one side of the box, and a little to the side, see that one? It's a bit dim."
"I think I'm looking at the right one."
"Well that's 51 peg."
"Your looking at a star that has another planet orbiting it. Who knows how many other stars may have planets and how many of those planets will be like earth."
"Cool." Sam said.
"Hehe...that's not what Beau said." Dan recalled.
"Yeah, he's my best friend, known him for years."
There was a long silence then,
"I had a best friend once." Sam started. "His name was Kevin."
"He moved away."
Dan sat with his arm around Sam and said nothing for a few minutes. The silence was awkward as Dan suddenly became aware of the strangeness of holding Sam the way he was. Finally he decided to say something.
"Yeah?" Sam asked softly.
"I'm tired, I'm going to go to bed okay?"
"Oh, okay, sure...goodnight."
"See you tomorrow bud." Dan said as he let go of Sam and got up and walked to the tent.
Laying on his back he glanced up at the silhouette of Sam sitting by the fire staring into the distance obviously lost in thought.
'Damn' Dan thought, 'I probably shouldn't have sat like that with him, I really fucked this up... It must be hormones, I gotta just relax and remember that when this is all over, I'll have a girlfriend.' Dan flopped back down onto his pillow and stared at the inside of the tent.
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