• I watched the flames spark higher, my new pack sitting all around it, worried and confused. Everyone had their suspisions on how Josh felt about me, but, I couldn't have seen it would be *this* bad. Even though I was his best friend, I didn't know he felt that strongly. The long, thoughtfull silence bit at our ears, and Josh knew he was the one on our minds. Finally, someone spoke.
    "Hey, Nichole?" Ren asked me. "You okay? You took a pretty hard fall there."
    "I'm fine, Renee." I snapped. She looked at me crest-fallen. "I'm just a little," I trailed off, sighing at how easily she was disturbed. "I'm just a little tired, that's all."
    "Oh!" She perked. "Well, if *you* don't feel like it, Alex and I can run the perimeter tonight!" My eyes widened.
    Alex was throwing firewood into the flames, stopping as his name was mentioned. "Wha- but I'm bus-" Ren tugged at Alex's arm, dragging him around like a little girl holding a teddy bear. I followed them with my eyes, astonished at how far Ren had gone. I stared blankley at the fire, then at Josh, and finally to the only other pack mate sleeping on the ground. I sighed.
    "I'm sorry." He admitted. "I thought you were dead, I panicked."
    I saw a tear stroll down his face. I wasn't sure if I should've comforted him or yelled.
    "I. I really, meant it though. What I said. I do." I remembered closing my eyes, hearing his voice and his arms around me. 'I love you'. It played over and over, until I forced the nightmare out of my head.
    "I know, Josh. I know you meant it. We all do. But, why?" He looked up from his lap, and chuckled, smiling crookedly.
    "*Why* do I love you?" It flowed out of him like it was the easiest thing he could say. Like he was so sure of it, there was no doubt. *because there isn't, and you feel the-* I interupted the stupid little voice in my head from going any farther. I shook my head gradually in his direction. "Because." He began. "You loved me, differently than I returned, but still. You cared. You were proud of me, you comforted me, you were a *friend* to me. Nikki, I was raised by *gypsys*. Noone has ever done that for me. That's the only thing I've ever wanted, and I've got that and more in you, and I never want to lose you." He turned his head shyly away from me. "Hey, you asked." He muffled, his mood completly different than before. I lifted his chin with my hand so that we were eyelevel.
    "And I got what I wanted." I drew closer to him, kissing him softly for a long moment. Suddenly, a rustling came from the sleeping bags, and a high pitched squeel echoed from the bushes, followed by a slight huff of dissatisfaction. Leah had 'woken up' and seen just enough to get her smiling like she was. Alex scoffed, leaning on a tree, covering his ears and waiting for a response from Ren. She began twirling and half sang,
    "I'm a genius!"