His knees were hurting, an old familiar ache and one of the only reasons of doubt he�d had in participating with the program in the first place. But alas, Nick�s enthusiasm and the dream of adventure had lured him into the lion�s den and AJ wasn�t quite sure how he thought about it now. He was cold, yet sweat seemed to pour from places he didn�t think possible and by God, was he hungry. He tried to keep his focus on Nick�s swaying back in front of him as they trudged through the forest, back to presumably and hopefully the base camp. Nick, even on day six, seemed as cheerful as ever, whistling an upbeat tune as he hacked and slashed at the long branches with the long knife and so creating a narrow pathway for the two of them.
�My feet are drowning,� AJ grumbled dejectedly. He�d been instructed at the start of the program to make sure to say every thought out loud, which he had no problem with, because he�d done it since birth.
�I�m pretty sure we�re almost back,� Nick said carelessly.
�What if it starts to rain again?� AJ whined, trying to hoist the backpack a bit higher.
�Here,� Nick reached back without looking and handed AJ the compass.
�It doesn�t say how far it is, Nick,� AJ grumbled, rolling his eyes.
�Nope, but I can see the camp fire,� Nick looked back at him, grinning.
A wave of relief flooded AJ�s senses as he now too could see the smoke trickling above the clouds about a mile away. �Thank fuck.�
Exhausted, AJ let himself fall into the sand about twenty minutes later. The smell of the ocean was a welcome change to the suffocating scent of the swamp and he carefully massaged his legs as he stared at the water. Six days, and he�d already lost about ten pounds, he was sure. The expedition with Nick had not been useless though, they�d found a wide variety of fruits, and Nick, being Nick, had insisted on climbing a tree to get a cluster of about twenty bananas, which he singlehandedly had carried back to base camp. They had arrived as heroes, for the food supply had been unsteady so far and AJ had smiled tiredly before collapsing into the sand and insisting on doing nothing the remainder of the evening.
He couldn�t help but smile as he watched Howie stand in the water, in vain attempting to catch a fish. Howie had never caught a fish in his entire life, and had remained unable to do so since day one, so AJ was now kind of wondering why they left Howard in charge of the fish catching business. Maybe it was because Brian and Kevin had given up after five minutes and had unceremoniously declared they�d be in charge of the fire and the camp instead. Once again, Howie was left to pick up the slack and do the jobs nobody else wanted to do.
Leaning back, AJ wondered how the other camp, on the other side of the island was faring. He hadn�t seen much of the other five random people apart from the obligatory challenges that happened every two days. The others seemed strong and fit, and far more knowledgeable about the wilderness than a pampered boyband did, but AJ had figured that the others had one disadvantage.
They didn�t know each other. Which was evident in the way their team was struggling with the cooperative parts of the challenges. A thing the five singers didn�t have any trouble with whatsoever. It was all the rest that the Backstreet Boys seemed to have trouble with.