Nearly two days had passed since survivalists Dave and Cody were dropped off on an island in the middle of nowhere. Up until that day, their experience had been short and simple, and to Dave, everything had gone according to plan. He started to notice, however, that his partner seemed to disagree.
For what felt like the hundredth time that hour, Cody stopped where he was standing in the middle of the overgrown path and turned to face Dave.
“Let’s stop for a bit,” Cody told him.
They had only traveled about a quarter of a mile since Cody stopped them, and the frequent breaks were beginning to bother Dave. He would have made some quip about bringing an extra pair of shoes for Cody on their next adventure, but the naturalist seemed to be in no mood for Dave’s jokes.
Each time they stopped, Cody made sure Dave sat against a tree in the open sun, then went out in search of what he described as “sterile products.” Dave waited, patiently at first, until he grew restless waiting for Cody to come back. He occasionally picked up on the camera crew’s faint conversations that were filled of confusion and frustration, wondering what on earth the barefoot hippie must be on for him to decide going off on his own would be a good idea. Although he agreed, Dave tried to ignore their rude comments. He couldn’t help feeling offended for Cody’s sake.
Dave dropped the gear he was carrying and eased himself down onto the grass. He watched as Cody, just like he had already done several times that day, unsheathed his knife and crouched low to the ground beside Dave.
“Roll up your sleeves. I want to take a look at that cut,” Cody said, almost obsessively focused on his efforts at unearthing a bundle of moss.
“Sure thing, man,” Dave replied. He had learned a while ago that when Cody was in one of his moods, it was best for him to go with the flow. “What have you got for me this time?”
Cody shrugged. “Same as always.” With a small grunt, he pulled the sleeve up Dave’s arm. “Move your head. You’re blocking my light.”
An itching sensation crawling over Dave’s skin reminded him that they were still under the careful surveillance of the camera crew. He leaned his face close to Cody’s, eying him as he peeled away the old scrap of moss from his wound. “So, what are you thinking?”
Cody paused in the middle of applying the fresh moss to Dave’s arm. He narrowed his eyes, staring skeptically back at Dave. “What do you mean?”
“We didn’t really discuss where to go from here.” He waited for a response, but was met with Cody’s empty gaze.
“And?” Cody finally said. His grip on Dave’s arm tightened, and Dave winced as Cody brought it closer. “Stop fidgeting. I can barely see what I’m doing.”
“I don’t plan on living the rest of my life here on this island,” Dave growled, trying to catch Cody’s eye. “And you haven’t been much help with figuring out where we need to move next.”
“We’ve done this before,” Cody answered coldly. “Just head for the shore. We can set up camp there.” He ran his fingers along the sides of the wound, intently watching Dave for any signs of discomfort. “Remember not to mess with this, Dave. If you get any more dirt in here, it’ll cause an infection.” Under his breath, he added, “Unless it’s already infected.”
Dave’s prior irritation eased. He sat up straight in his spot against a tree. “You think it’s infected?”
“Well, no,” Cody said quickly, “I didn’t say that. It’s possible, though. I mean, nobody wakes up in the morning and intends to set their arm on fire, right?”
“No, they don’t,” Dave muttered.
He hadn’t realized at first, but the sudden detachment and lack of communication from Cody were both sure signs that his partner was starting to feel a little stressed. He knew this from experience, Dave reminded himself, and chastised himself for not noticing sooner.
“I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about, Cody,” Dave said. He gave Cody a pat on the back after Cody had finished applying the moss to his wound, then reached for the cloth resting on his leg. “With my partner being some kind of hippy dippy medicine man, there ain’t no infection I can’t handle.”
With a sigh, Cody took the cloth and wrapped it around Dave’s arm. “I’m glad to see this life-threatening injury hasn’t affected your sense of humor,” he teased.
“‘Course not.” Dave grinned. “I bet you couldn’t live a day without hearing one of my awesome jokes.”
Cody rolled his eyes, chuckling to himself as Dave broke out in laughter. “I beg to differ.”
Once the laughter had died down, Cody helped pull Dave’s sleeve over the wrapped injury and stood up next to him with a groan. He leaned across Dave, reaching for one of their bags. “I still can’t believe you set your arm on fire.”
Dave was shocked by the change in Cody’s disposition. He busied himself with packing up the meager belongings they had been given and looking over Cody for any injuries that had gone unnoticed. Cody’s sudden willingness to open up about what was on his mind to him was good progress, because that meant he was starting to feel more comfortable around Dave, but it also brought up a sense of insecurity, for now Dave was unsure of where he stood in terms of a friendship between himself and the barefooted naturalist.
“I’m thankful for your help,” Dave reminded him, “even if you didn’t really want me to do it in the first place. You make a pretty good doctor, though.”
“You’re a terrible patient, you know.” Cody gently elbowed him in the side. “It’s not like I had a choice, either. You were dead-set on doing it no matter what I told you.”
“Yeah, well…” Dave gave him an apologetic look. “Thanks anyway.”
Cody was quiet for a moment, watching him with amusement. After a little while, he chuckled, then threw his head back and laughed. Dave joined him, pleased that he was finally able to bring his partner out from the anxious rut he had dug himself into.
If there was one thing Dave didn’t like, it was seeing his hippie stressed. If he could do anything to help Cody feel better, Dave was sure going to try.