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Ramse shouts in despairs and the body falls.

Cole grabs the rucksack and tugs it off the body, away from the blood. He is rooting through it even as he disappears into the bush off the side of the road. Identifying objects by feel, his hand closes over a knife. Useless to the owner now, Cole tugs it free and holds on, the metal warming in his sweating hand. He slows to a walk and notes his position, swerves a bit south and begins to look for landmarks, and he listens for the sounds that are all around him.

The birds and squirrels quieted by his charge through the woods begin to appear and the normal sounds of a forested area surround him. He picks his path noiselessly and arrives back at the campsite, pausing to scan it before slipping into the small clearing. Ramse is there, rising quietly from concealment, reaching for Cole, taking the sack from him.

Cole presses his hand against Ramse's until it opens and Cole can slide the knife, a red and rust-free brightness into his hand. He curls his free hand around Ramse's neck and pulls him closes, puts his mouth near his ear and breathes "For you". Ramse nods and pockets the knife.

"You okay?" Cole nods, leans into Ramse and begins to shake.

"Not a scratch, not a splatter. I'm good." His wide eyes and cold hands say otherwise. Ramse pulls Cole down into the shelter, wraps them both into the old sleeping bag they had scavenged. He holds on until Cole's restless movements still as he falls asleep. Untangling himself Ramse sits up and pulls the bag unto his lap.

The contents he splits into trade-ables and edibles. There are few of either. Not enough he thinks. Not enough to have Cole crying noiselessly in his sleep. Not enough to feel his own humanity seeping away as he destroys carefully concealed photos and identification. Bad enough he has to know these things about their victim. The scraps of paper are stored safely for the next time they risk a small fire. Their haul consists of six bruised apples, three small blue eggs still in the nest wrapped carefully in leaves and moss, and the heel of a loaf of dark break hard enough to cause a concussion. Ramse's mouth waters. He tucks the food back into the rucksack and sets it aside.

He lays down beside Cole and waits while Cole moves his body closer seeking the heat Ramse's body brings. Cole curls around him, legs and arms pulling him closer, sharing their warmth.


"I'll figure out a better way," Ramse promises Cole.