The dawn crept in quietly and a faint sunlight glow began to illuminate the tent. While the remaining four continued sleeping undisturbed, Adrian awoke when something small and wet landed on his eye. He frowned and rubbed the offended left side of his face.
"...The heck?" he mumbled. Splat. Another raindrop dripped from a tiny hole in the corner of the tent. "Wonderful." He moved his mat a foot or so away from the edge so he would be safely dry.
As he laid down to go back to sleep, he froze momentarily in realization of how close he now was to Kanna. Inches away. He made sure his motions were slow and relatively quiet as he slunk back under the covers. Her back was to him, but he remembered how she felt, pressed to his face in a comforting embrace. What her singing voice sounded like. That look she had given him when he smiled at her. He rolled onto his side, resting his hand overtop of her. He was close enough that it could have been an accident. He smirked before drifting off, imagining her reaction.
Kanna was an early riser and always had been. It was simply in her regimented nature to be so. Naturally, she was first out of the group to rouse from her sleep, blinking her eyes a few times to clear the grogginess. When she was aware enough, she felt an unfamiliar weight overtop of her body that felt like far more than a simple blanket.
...That can't be… Kanna thought with a tired furrow to her brow before she turned. Adrian was right there, his immense body filling up her vision. In spite of herself, the teacher's cheeks had burst into bloom. She took a deep breath and turned around again to calm herself.
Despite the early morning sun now peeking through the sliver in the tent's flap, Adrian continued to snooze peacefully, blissfully unaware of the world around him. While he didn't fully register the small movement, his fingers curled inward reflexively when she turned again.
Kanna attempted to shift the large digits off her person with her lips pressed into a thin line but it seemed Adrian was quite reluctant to release her as of yet. With a huff, her pride prevented her from asking for assistance.
Damned giant… She thought to herself.
Jude sighed and awoke. Sitting up, he shook off the remnants of a weird dream about a dragon and a big chair. He scratched his chin, which was getting pretty scruffy. He gathered a change of fresh clothes, a bar of soap, and the towel from last night. Jude bent over to plant a kiss on Penelope's sleeping form, then exited the tent in the hopes of getting in a quick rinse before the others awoke. When the tent flap was opened, a flash of sunlight that flooded Adrian's face, making him curl inward in groggy protest. His hand tucked to his chest, he struggled to get a few more minutes of sleep in.
Pen continued to slumber on, wearing a soft, dopey grin on her face, a part of her knowing Jude had kissed her. She curled up on his pillow, savouring her rest. Kanna, however, quickly found herself scooped up abruptly and pressed against a broad chest. She wriggled a fair amount and sighed
"Adrian Kaufner, kindly release me." She tried to sound calm but she could see by his grip that he wasn't going to let go. Her face felt like it was seconds from burning off entirely.
Already partially roused from day rising around him, Adrian finally came to when he felt something small pushing at his chest. Kanna. His eyes snapped open.
"Mmm..Sorry..." He apologized in a sleep-clouded voice, not sounding sorry at all. Adrian placed her back on her own mat and tried to stifle the amused expression on his face.
Kanna bristled like a fussy swan preening her feathers and stood upright.
"Thank you." She said in a cool tone of voice, smoothing out folds and wrinkles in her attire. She wondered if he would see how red her cheeks were still from this far away so just in case, she pivoted on her right heel and turned away.
Adrian had expected more of an earful from her.
The healthy amount of pink on her cheeks intrigued him
"Had to scoot over because of a stupid leak.."
A moan heralded the awakening of Penelope, though she mostly just turned over and went back to sleep.
"Shoooosshhiee...." She whined.
Adrian sat up himself, rubbing his eyes with one hand. He looked over Kanna to the others. Devon hadn't even flinched.
"Man... That guy could sleep through a hurricane." His more awake voice earned him another shushing from Pen.
"You should wake up, miss Farthing. You were always amoung the ones to be late to class frequently."
At Pen's incoherencies, Kanna simply shook her head before glancing back up toward Adrian
"Now if you wouldn't mind, kindly avert your eyes. I need to change."
An indiscernible expression flashed over his face as he looked down at the schoolteacher. Adrian turned his back to her, swallowing the suggestive remarks he could have made in his continued appeal to her better nature. Jude was finishing up outside, hastily making a small fire after that icy bath.
The sound of silk sliding away from a body remained audible before it fell to the ground in a pool at the Japanese woman's feet. She knelt down by her bag and withdrew a simple pair of trousers and a flowing pale tan blouse with a vest. She started to dress slowly but surely.
The fact that he couldn't see her changing didn't help to stifle his imagination. The distinct sounds of fabric falling away sparked mental images; he wondered what exactly she looked like naked. He could already tell she had shapely legs. Nice butt, too.. He quickly stifled such thoughts, as if she could read his mind.
"You may turn around now, you shameless pervert." Kanna announced tonelessly, now entirely changed whilst putting her hair up into a bun.
"Hey I didn't peek, did I?" Adrian pointed out. He rolled up his blanket and packed it into a bulky travel bag. He pulled off a wrinkled shirt and replaced it with his last fresh one. It was with mild dismay he saw he would have to do laundry that night.
Glancing away from Kanna, his eyes strayed to Devon, whose mussed head was still buried firmly into his pillow. A mischievous spark lit up Adrian's eyes. He crawled over to his friend and leaned down directly over him to blow (with a moderate gentleness) in his ear to wake him up.
Devon scrambled awake into a sitting position, his hair a messy bramble-bush of black curls. He grumbled before fumbling around groggily for his glasses
"Thank so you very much for that, Adrian. Because I am absolutely ecstatic about being awoken by a very humid gust of wind."
"Happy to help." Adrian smirked and sat back.
Dev grumbled and continued his search for his much needed spectacles. Kanna's lip twitched at the antics taking place but she remained composed.
"Knowing you, mister Kaufner, you were absolutely thinking something filthy before." She tied up her sleeping matt and set everything away before sitting down in front of a circular pocket mirror with her make up to apply it. Pen rolled over, having already fallen back to sleep.
"I would know those wandering eyes a mile away. You're not exactly subtle." Kanna replied without missing a beat. She parted her lips slightly as she applied her lipstick.
"Oh? You think you know me that well, huh?" He arched a brow at Kanna, his exuded confidence a sharp contrast to his sensitivity yesterday. After a moment, he scooted over to Pen. He was about to wake her up, but Jude reentered at that moment.
"Are you antagonizing my girlfriend again, Adrian?" He packed up his loose belongings and folded up his blanket.
"Just a friendly wake-up call." Adrian stood back as Jude approached. "Let me," Jude said with a smile. Pen was scooped up into a clean hand, still radiating heat from the small fire he'd made. Jude kissed her sweetly then gradually more sensually. The feeling of familiar lips encouraged a soft smile to Pen's lips as she stretched and pushed lazily against them.
"Mmmpph. That's one nice way to wake up." She mumbled in a dopey sort of fashion, ditzy from being fresh from sleep. "Mornin'..." She let out a squeaky yawn and sat back, rubbing her eyes in an almost childish fashion.
"I'm sure it's better than whatever Ade had planned for you." Jude smiled endearingly at her waking antics. Adrian had crouched down by his mat to finished packing up. He faltered upon her reply and turned to retort, but ended up watching the ribbon of red coat her minute lips instead.
"So, I've been thinking," Jude lowered Penelope next to her stuff. "About taking a detour-route through as many towns as we can, to instigate anti-segregation and gain awareness for our cause along the way."
Probably not the best time to bring it up, since most he got sleepy consents.
"We should come up with a better name than 'the cause'." Adrian pushed his packed back to the corner and leaned against it, taking a bite of a pear. "Something catchy... and cool." He said thickly.
Jude pursed his lips in thought.
"Something to put the seed of rebellion against oppression better set within the minds of the people, one would suppose." Devon grumbled as he crawled around his section in an attempt to locate his glasses. Pen nodded in agreement
"We need to get more professional footing. At this point, we just sound like a few people banding together and not a whole lot more." Kanna rubbed her lips together before parting, feeling them stick as they came away from each other slowly. Then she began on the delicate process of eye make up.
"Without organization, no one will take us seriously, never find us to be of any hope. Unless we make ourselves look the part, we will not win the favour of everyone. This is not to say that we should compromise the honesty and integrity of our mission but a solid name would be a good place as any to start."
"If I ever become a politician, you're going to be my political advisor." Pen smiled at Kanna's well crafted words
"How about 'Crusaders for justice'?" Adrian suggested. Jude considered it, but shook his head.
"A bit over-dramatic there, Ade." He sat, quietly staring at the floor in serious thought for several minutes. "What about 'the New Unity' or the 'Unity Syndicate'? It should imply the combined congregation of humans and giants." He looked around. Adrian chewed thoughtfully, looking like it was acceptable to him.
"The New Unity Movement?" Pen suggested; she was already getting to work changing her clothing. She knew everyone in the tent well enough to trust that a little pseudo nudity wouldn't bother them. She'd retained her undergarments, after all.
Ade politely averted his gaze from his best friend's semi-nude girlfriend. Also to avoid a smack from Jude…
"I like it." He wiped his mouth on his sleeve. Jude glanced over and smiled.
"That could work... Let's go with that for now, and be open to improvement." He set his satchel by the entrance to the tent. "Kanna, did you pack breakfast? If not, I have plenty extra."
"I have what I need for the time being." Kanna nodded to Jude politely and pulled out a fresh persimmon from her bag before sinking her teeth into it, somehow managing to munch on the sweet fruit without messing up her make up. Pen approached Jude fully dressed and smiled. She had her own food but figured she wanted to share with him today
"May I have some of your tasty foodstuffs?" She fluttered her eyelashes charmingly.
"Since you asked so nicely." Jude broke off a piece of his cranberry-studded scone for her. For a while, quiet fell in the tent as everyone ate their separate meals. Adrian subtlety continued to glance at Kanna; it beginning to irk him how she was so freaking graceful about everything. Just once, he'd like to see her get messy or flip out. He took another large bite of his pear, creating a lump in his cheek as he pondered creative ways to push her buttons.
"Staring at a lady is considered very rude, mister Kaufner." Kanna spoke smoothly before she reached into her bag with a fluid gesture and withdrew a small cloth to wipe off her hands, cleaning each slender finger in turn. Pen let out a small snort of miniature laughter as she grinned into her chunk of scone. Devon busied himself with tea and a crumpet with jam.
"I wasn't staring at you; you've got some juice on your chin." He tapped his own chin to indicate the imaginary dribble. He finished off his pear and stood up, ducking outside to toss it into the woods and rinse off his hands in the lake.
Half an hour later, the tent was packed and the recharged group was ready to set off once more. Ade laughed a little when Devon settled in on his shoulder, still finding the sensation peculiar from time to time. While Jude waited for Penelope to get comfortable on his shoulder, Adrian tucked Kanna and Devon's bags into each of his pants pockets. The ground was damp from what appeared to have been a light rain. "Toldja the tent would come in handy." Adrian said to Jude as he squatted down to scoop up Kanna without asking. "Shoulder or hand?"
With a sharp intake of air, she sent Adrian a scowl for grabbing her so abruptly
"Honestly, do you have any manners at all?" She scolded "And your shoulder will be quite fine." She huffed.
He gave her a puzzled look.
"What? Do I have to ask every time I pick you up?" He raised her up next to Devon and bit his lip when her weight shifted with her little steps.
"You could ask instead of grabbing me without warning." She replied with a strange mixture of fire and ice in her voice. Pen smiled knowingly from Jude's shoulder.
Adrian rolled his eyes.
"What did you think I was going to do? Give you a massage?" Jude glanced at Pen with a quiet smile and began walking east.
"And I suppose if our situation was reversed? Would you like to be abruptly plucked from the ground like a plaything?" She scolded, arms crossed over her chest. Devon scooted around to Adrian's other shoulder, ensuring he kept a steady hold as he did so.
"Trust me, I'm much rougher with my toys." He replied briskly, avoiding the first inquiry outright. Adrian turned his head to try and glimpse whatever Devon was attempting, but soon kept his gaze forward, worried the movement might throw his friend off. "She is going to whip him into shape better than I ever could." He murmured to Pen.
"You shouldn't be 'rough' with anyone, you manhandling nitwit." She replied sharply, eyes narrowed "And you didn't answer my question. How would you like to be the smaller one? Hm? Perhaps that might humble your fat head a little bit."
Pen nodded and leaned in against Jude to watch the proceedings. Which Devon didn't touch with a ten foot pole.
"I guess it would depend on who is manhandling me." Adrian replied, irritating her further with how he didn't seem to take the idea seriously. "I'd volunteer for it if the chick was hot."
"You are unbelievably daft." Kanna rubbed the bridge of her nose "I sincerely hope you shrink someday and you feel the gravity of being utterly powerless. It would do you some good." She seethed coldly, calmly.
Ade raised his eyebrows.
"Hm. Kinda dark for you." He smiled faintly at her insult, knowing he was getting her worked up. He wasn't at all worried that shrinking might be a reality; as far as he knew, it hadn't been achieved yet. He flashed a boasting grin at Jude.
"You're crossing onto thin ice with the wrong woman, Adrian." He cautioned.
Kanna reached forward for his ear and promptly twisted with her full force to ensure that the giant would feel it. Her inner teacher was being expressed in this form of punishment. Pen snickered.
"Ow!" Adrian swiftly shot up a hand. He cupped his ear defensively, rubbing the spot between a finger and thumb. "No need to get your panties in a knot..." He muttered, scooting her a couple inches away from his face.
"I wouldn't be getting my 'panties into a knot' if you would quit acting like such an egotistical idiot with he-man syndrome." Kanna retaliated, stumbling a bit as he forced her away with his hand "I punish little boys when they are being foolish." She said cooly, reclaiming her immaculate composure.
Jude snickered at this, picking up his pace so as to avoid the shove he was sure Adrian was considering. Ade clenched his jaw briefly.
"Maybe it wouldn't bother you if you didn't take everything so seriously!" He shot back.
"And maybe you should take things more seriously instead of goofing off like some oafish brute with no brain!" Kanna snapped, eyes burning holes in the giant. "Honestly! I have met many, MANY disrespectful, inflated egos in my time but yours is undoubtedly the worst!"
Pen was near outright laughing and Devon sighed. Angry giants. Not the best kind to be sitting on top of.
Jude peeked over his shoulder in time to see Adrian scowl deeply. He angrily kicked a small rock in his path.
"I take things seriously when it matters. Not for the sake of peering down my nose at people." He sent her a irate look.
"Oh really? You seem to peer down your nose at people in other ways." Kanna pulled out her mirror and primly worked on fixing a few imperfections in her lipstick with her fingertip "Such as, I don't know, acting as if you can get away with doing whatever you'd like just because you'll get away with it? Like hitting on anything with legs, a pulse and a pretty face?"
"...says the woman who completely writes off the other gender as irrelevant." Adrian said. "I'm just living a little. You should try it sometime."
The argument had lost its entertainment factor for Jude; he tuned the pair of them out, silently pitying poor Devon who was stuck in their midst.
Devon was attempting to draw something of a sketch of Adrian in dragon form and Kanna as a samurai attempting to slay him. Kanna furrowed her brows even more deeply
"I don't write off all men. Just the stupid ones. And I am perfectly content with how I live, moron."
"..Bitch." Adrian said under his breath, all thoughts of Kanna's kind face far out of mind. Jude tried to keep a few paces ahead, climbing a slope with long strides. Upon spotting a blossoming magnolia tree, he veered over to it and gave it a little shake to loose a handful of flowers into his hand. He pinched a couple between a finger and thumb and handed them silently to Penelope.
Kanna remained silent and stared ahead primly, quite content with all she'd said. She'd managed to shut him up for the most part but good god, was Adrian ever annoying. Pen, on the other hand found her cheeks blossoming with bright colour as she gratefully accepted the gift from her boyfriend
"They're beautiful, Jude." She breathed, leaning in to kiss his jaw "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Jude smiled for the next few minutes onward, quite pleased with himself. The passing scenery gradually changed to rocky slopes with strips of green foliage.
Adrian was so peeved by the woman on his shoulder-- he swore, the next time she called him an idiot, he was just going to drop her in his pocket. His disgruntled stare strayed to Jude and Pen, momentarily irritated by their happiness.
"You see? That is how a gentleman acts." Kanna grumbled, arms crossed annoyedly, unable to resist another jab as well as giving him subtle pointers. Devon added a jet of flame coming from Adrian's jaws.
Ade didn't say anything persay, but he made a face and mimicked her speaking. Jude glanced toward her as if to say "bear with him."
"Now, now, mister Kaufner. I've seen more mature behavior from some of my five year old students." Kanna commented smoothly, eyes fixed ahead. "I would recommend you remember how incredibly conspicuous your mocking is. Do try to be intelligent about it at least?"
"I wouldn't have done it if you didn't have a good view, hon." He responded breezily, adding the pet name for added effect. They both were stubborn, prideful, and enjoyed getting under the other's skin. Jude got a feeling this was going to be a long walk…
"Excuse me, but how old are you? Seventeen? Eighteen maybe? You do not get liscense to call me 'hon' simply because you're bigger than I am." She narrowed her eyes and smacked his jaw "You are the most petty, childish idiot I have met in my life."
"Try twenty-three. And size has nothing to do with it." He turned his head to meet her gaze momentarily. "Coming from you, that probably translates to a compliment." Adrian heaved an annoyed sigh and tried to muster up some patience.
"Still young." Kanna insisted, keeping her eyes averted and placed on a fixed point ahead "If you want a compliment from me, show me something that is worth complimenting. Show me that you are capable of humility. Show me that you are capable of being anything but cocky."
Adrian stared stonily at his steps, Silent in response. Then, He swiveled his head towards his right shoulder in surprise.
"How old are you?"
"Thirty." Kanna replied cooly and ignored the shift of his face toward her person. She focused on the far off sound of scribbling from Devon situated and still drawing on Adrian's opposite shoulder.
"Really?" His brow furrowed in unbiased shock, momentarily forgetting to be bitter. He finally shook his head and fell into a longer strode alongside Jude. "You don't look a day over twenty-five."
"Good attempt at flattery." She replied in a slightly less aggravated tone of voice "But do try and set the bar higher, hm? A woman does not simply wish to be given a compliment based on age. Any woman worth speaking to would likely prefer something with more poetry yet balanced so as to not be simply shallow and unfounded. She will want her mind appreciated." Her voice softened a little bit, eyes wistfully ahead on the faint, white cloud cover that threatened no rain as of yet "Not simply treated as a painting."
"That wasn't flattery, that's honestly my opinion." Adrian rolled his eyes, think in irritation that no wonder she was still single when she set regulations for how she was how to be complimented. But he caught something surprising in her wistful tone that made his harsh thoughts vanish: loneliness.
"...I'll study up on Shakespeare, then." He spoke more quietly, and thus suddenly realizing how loud he must have been to the humans on his shoulders. Jude to took a quick break for water, and Ade stood by after a swig himself. "As long as you're not going to yank my earlobe... You should sit closer. To hang onto my collar."
Kanna gave him a long look but sighed and did as he recommended. So she wouldn't fall off. That was the reason. She shifted closer and reached out, grasping Adrian's shirt collar. Her ears hurt a little bit from the volume in which he'd been speaking but she'd been so caught up arguing that she hadn't noticed. She subtly moved a few stray locks of hair back into her bun.
He was reminded as she moved atop him, how very small she was. Against his will, Ade felt his built-up contempt towards Kanna evaporating as they walked onward. Jude knelt doen to read a human-sized sign:
"'Catharcus, 5 miles.' Shouldn't be more than ten minutes, then. What d'you think, Ade?"
"Ten sounds about right." He agreed. He was somehow extremely sensitive of Kanna's position near his face. He didn’t mind it in the slightest, but recalling one of her first statements about looming over her or something, he doubted that contentment was mutual. "...Do you have a favorite poet?"