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It's been a miserable few days and that's an understatement. Worse than that, it's been boring. He doesn't know whether they've lost the Americans or if they've just missed them by chance but there hasn't been a single attack since that first night. The jungle is disgustingly hot and just when it almost becomes unbearable, it starts to rain and keeps going for hours - which makes the place hot and wet. The heat never eases; it's exactly like walking through a sauna set to maximum heat. And the terrain makes things worse, if that's possible. It's slow going while half of them hack the foliage away and the rest of them struggle over rocks and crevices and through mud and scrub and tree stumps. The insects are constantly attacking them and there are any number of deadly species around here - he's also noticed jaguar tracks in places (the only tracks he can identify, for obvious reasons) and the mosquitos are starting to drive him insane.

Ramon is sick to fucking death of military rations, being sticky and filthy and bored. But these aren't the only problems he's noticing. Every night when they make camp, the men in his crew are quite obviously becoming more relaxed with the situation - the less danger the Americans seem to pose, the more they start not being afraid and their thoughts are turning to matters closer to home. Namely, the foreigners in their midst.

He's caught all of them, save Esteban, staring at Mary Anne in ways he imagines she probably doesn't like - the expressions range from lustful to mutinous depending on whether she's telling them what to do or doing something less intrusive, like coming back from changing clothes or cleaning up or anything similar. He's sure she's noticed herself so hasn't said anything since his original warning but it seems clear that things are going to come to a head at some point.

With Roxas, it's more like hate. He's not around so often and they don't know where he goes or what he's doing there. The kid is so impervious to anything around him and can't really be passed off as human by any stretch of anyone's imagination. The heat doesn't affect him, he doesn't sleep or eat or get uncomfortable in the conditions. He's also dressed differently and is impossible to insult. Ramon can virtually see their fists itching whenever the guy comes into camp but he doesn't know if it's registered with Roxas at all.

He doesn't do anything. He brought those two because they know how to handle themselves, not because he wanted to babysit. And because he's tired and in a bad mood, he doesn't think anything of leaving camp at night when he wants to think things over without being surrounded by people. Tonight, he takes Esteban with him because they have things to talk about.

Perhaps, in hindsight, this isn't a good idea. After all, they need some people left to carry the stuff.
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Ramon Salazar

September 2010

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