Chapter 001

Together Chapter 001

Copyright 2014 - 2015 Banzai Ben and Amazing Anastasia


Present – Jens and others – at Glacier Park finally captures Ben


I can't believe it! Ben continues his stupid grin as I continue to squeeze the trigger of his Springfield Armory 1911 10mm. I threaten, "Ben, I'm not kidding you! I cannot live without you and I will blow my brains out unless you marry me."


He continues with the grin as I continue squeezing and I jump like hell when the hammer falls with what sounds like the loudest damn snap I have ever heard.


I... I... I... I can't believe I'm not dead and even more I can't believe that Ben didn't try to stop me! He's still grinning at me like some sort of fool when I pull the pistol from my head, look at it and question, "What the heck is going on."


Ben laughs, which angers me even more, then reaches his hand in his pocket, holds up some parts which I immediately recognize and answers while still laughing, "It's sort of hard to use a 1911 that doesn't have the firing pin in it."


I realize now why he didn't try to stop me. But how in the heck did he know I was going to 'attempt suicide' to try to force him to marry me? In my befuddled state I finally remember the dream with Steve Tyler from Aerosmith. I had kicked Steve Tyler's rear (remember he insulted me with his 'Dude looks like a lady' song), taken his revolver and held it to Ben's head in an attempt to try to force Ben to marry me. After thinking about it long and hard, running it over in my mind many times, and knowing how Ben reacts, I knew Ben would never be forced into marrying me that way. After a whole lot of reflection I decided the only thing that would work was if I threatened to kill myself. But that was a total failure since not only did Ben not stop me, it was almost like he knew what I was going to do.


I gaze at his AR lying on the table with what would probably appear to be a calculating look. Ben notices where I'm looking, continues his laughter, pulls more parts (which I also recognize) out of his pocket and explains, "I took the firing pin out of it too."


Then he gets a serious look on his face and I can't believe what happens next...


Present – Ben – at Glacier Park


Destiny and I had many long talks about Jens. At first I was a RPITA, but I slowly came around and began to listen to her. However, I rebelled right until it was close to time for her to leave: She kept telling me that Jens was and had always been my destiny (pun intended). Finally it was like someone turned on the light switch as I realized Destiny was correct. My new certainty also included the parts Destiny told me about how my running away from Jens made her slightly (although after the stunt with my 1911 I wonder if it's more than slightly) crazy. In some way that I can't fathom but now accept, Jens needs me to keep her on an even keel. I thank God I listened to Destiny about how Jens was going to attempt suicide. It was funny as hell to watch her pull the trigger of my disabled Springfield 1911 and then jump when the hammer fell. Hell I was surprised she didn't shit her pants. Jens grandstanding play was over and I needed to take control of the situation - something which I had planned many times in my mind.


I stand up, lean forward, put both hands on the picnic table, look Jens straight in the eyes and demand, "Jens, you need to call in the two men who are helping you before they get hurt."


Jens continues to try to control the situation by asking, "What about my Remington 870? I could use that to shoot myself."


I smile at her and answer, "No you can't."


I have to fight back laughing when Jens gets all huffy then defiant and counters, "Like hell I can't! What would stop me?"


I nod my head and the wolf that's sneaked up behind her lets loose with a very low guttural growl and simultaneously gooses the hell out of her ass with his nose. Jens lets out a yell, jumps up from her seat, the Remington 870 falls off her lap and clatters to the dirt under the table. I quickly reach under the table, grab the shotgun, hold it in a high ready condition and continue grinning at her.


It's funny as hell to watch Jens scramble up onto the picnic table to get away from the wolf. I have to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. She glares at me with her beautiful violet eyes and complains, "Hey! That's not fair getting your pet wolf to do your dirty work."


I smile at Jens because the trap is still closing and answer, "This wolf is not my pet or anyone else's pet. He is a wild wolf."


Jens challenges, "That's okay because I have friends too!"


She finally begins to yell for her friends like I asked her to do earlier. I prepare for them to come into the campsite by making sure the Remington 870 I'm holding is loaded and not jammed from hitting the dirt. I rack the action, dump one of the Taser Xrep rounds on the ground and it's good to go.


The two of them run into my campsite. The larger of the two coming in on the right trail notices the wolf and raises his shotgun to blast the wolf. However, he's a bit too slow because I have him in my sights and pull the trigger. The Remington 870 barks, the Taser Xrep projectile hits him in the chest with a resounding thunk, he falls to the ground and flops around like a fish out of water while I hear the sizzle of the Xrep doing its job. I rack the action on the Remington and aim at Jen's other friend. He wisely sets his shotgun on the ground and I recognize his voice as he says...


Present – Jack – at Glacier Park helping Jens


After Banzai put Linus down with an Xrep round, I silently curse Jennifer for talking me into coming on this cluster fuck of a mission. She hoped my presence here would calm Banzai and give us a tactical advantage. However, Banzai (who seems to be faster than ever) got the jump on Linus. I can't believe he shot him with one of the Taser rounds and then before I could react had his shotgun lined up on me. I wisely sat my shotgun on the ground, stood up, noticed a grin of recognition spread across Banzai's face as I plead, "You wouldn't shoot an unarmed man would you?"


Banzai laughs and increases my already high level of concern when he answers, "Why the hell not? You would have shot me if you had gotten the chance."


Damn, how in the hell did he know that was our plan! Jennifer was sure that Ben would take off running on one of the side trails and Linus and I were waiting to shock the hell out of him with the Taser rounds. I look over at Linus who is still thrashing around on the ground (because unlike a normal Taser, the Xrep rounds continue to shock you until their batteries are depleted). I hope like hell I can talk some sense into Banzai.


I answer with a lie, "Banzai, that wasn't our..."


Banzai stops laughing, glares at me and interrupts, "Jack, cut the fucking bullshit or I will shoot your ass for lying."


I jump like crazy as the barrel of Banzai's shotgun drops toward the ground and then barks, sending an Xrep round into the ground at my feet. He quickly racks the shotgun and aims it offhand at my chest. He uses the other hand to reach behind his back, then he tosses two pair of handcuffs toward me. They land at my feet and he orders, "Put these on yourself and Jens' other friend because you two are under arrest."


I figure he's made a mistake and I've got him when I counter, "You can't make a citizen arrest and besides what are the charges?"


He grins and uses his free hand to pull back his jacket. I notice a star on his chest and he answers, "I'm a deputy sheriff who you and Jens' other friend assaulted. Now put on the handcuffs or I will be forced to take you down like your friend."


Shit! When the hell did Banzai become a deputy fucking sheriff? I know better than to argue with him because I figure he just might shoot me. I walk over to a still unconscious Linus, pull his hands up behind his back and put on his handcuffs. I then roll him over and pull the finally depleted Xrep shell from the middle of his chest. I can see through the holes in his shirt that it's left a couple of hellacious burn marks on his chest and I'm thankful that so far Banzai hasn't shot me.


I began to put the handcuffs on me when Banzai orders...


Present – Ben – at Glacier Park


Seeing Jack is a total surprise, but I need to make sure that he and Jens' other friend won't interfere with the next part of my plan. I order, "Jack, before you put the handcuffs on your wrists make sure they pass under the handcuffs of the other guy because I want the two of you handcuffed together."


I'm not concerned about Jens doing anything else stupid because I know the wolf has her under control. I continue to watch Jack as he complies, then I turn my attention toward Jens. I smile at her and order, "Jens get off the picnic table."


She defiantly glares at me, stamps her foot on the table which wiggles like crazy and answers, "Like hell I will!"


I nod at the wolf, he easily bounds up on the table, Jens lets out a yell, jumps off the table and spits, "I hope you're happy! You've ruined everything!"


She eyes the trail and since I know what she's thinking I squash her plan, "If you run the wolf will take you down. I don't want that to happen because unfortunately that will ruin everything."


I notice less defiance and some confusion in her eyes as she asks, "Ben, what in the heck do you mean?"


Now it was time for me to go on the offensive so I order...


Present – Jens – at Glacier Park


I can't believe it - nothing has gone like I planned! Ben was supposed to take off running and Jack and Linus would shoot him with the Taser rounds. When that didn't work I thought for sure he would stop me from killing myself and then agree to finally marry me. Instead he took out Linus and Jack, holds me hostage with his wolf and I can't believe when he orders, "Jens, take off your pants!"


I cross my arms across my chest and fight, "Like heck I will."


He nods at his wolf, it quickly jumps off the table and grabs my belt. As I fight like crazy, Ben laughs and says, "Jens, either you take off your pants or the wolf will tear them off."


I glare at Ben while the wolf moves over beside him, I begin to take off my pants and counter, "Keep your damn wolf away from me and when did you turn into such a pervert!"


He laughs and answers, "Jens, I haven't turned into a pervert. Stop fighting me and do what you're told because there is a method to my madness."


I finish taking off my pants throw them at him and spit, "Here you go, I hope you choke on them. And I sure as heck don't see anything but madness."


He smiles at me and says...


Present – Ben – at Glacier Park


I almost laugh when Jens takes off her pants because she's wearing cute as hell pink camo panties. However, I need to try to defuse the situation so I attempt to reason with Jens, "Jens, why are you so angry? I could have kept going and you would have never caught up to me - but instead I stopped and let you catch me."


She glares at me and answers without really thinking about her answer, "Because this isn't going anything like I planned."


I continue grinning at her and taunt, "Of course not, because your plans were fucked up."


She continues her glare and demands, "Just how in the hell (I knew I was in serious trouble when she actually swore) did you know what my plans were?"


I smile at her and answer, "Jens, your plans are as transparent to me as you are beautiful." Then I continue to elaborate, "You don't think I didn't know the water I conveniently left on the table was drugged? Hell, the bottles weren't in the same position I left them in. You also didn't think that I knew you planned on me running? I saw the boot prints of Jack and the other man that helped you headed down the two side trails. And you're lucky as hell I knew you were going to attempt suicide when I didn't run and disabled all my weapons. The only surprise was that you talked Jack into showing up for this. However, now I think it's a good thing he's here."


Jack interrupts, "Well you sure as hell have a great way of showing me that I'm wanted."


I laugh at Jack and answer, "Hell Jack, tell me the truth. You really couldn't wait to shoot me with one of those Taser rounds. And yes, it's great that you're here as a witness to this."


Jack continues, "I'm not going to confess to anything. And witness what - you embarrassing Jennifer by making her take off her pants?"


Jens adds, "Yeah, what sort of perverted act is that."


I decide it's time to spring my trap so I say...


Present – Jens – at Glacier Park


I don't know when I've been more angry at a person than I am at Ben right now - if it wasn't for his damn wolf and the shotgun I would kick his ass. Then Ben confuses me when he says, "Jens, I had you take off your pants as a symbol."


I get ready to answer Ben when a damn mosquito bites my leg so I slap the heck out of it. However, I am more than a little confused so I ask, "What the hell is it a symbol of, your perversion?"


Ben smiles at me and my icy heart begins to melt as he says, "Jens, you have done an amazing job chasing me for more months than I deserve to be chased, but I now know you've done it because we are destined to be together."


I begin to interrupt when another dang mosquito bites me so I kill it first then interrupt, "Excuse me, could you please repeat what you just said?"


Ben continues his smile and requests, "Jens, please don't interrupt me again. Like I said, we are destined to be together, but not under your terms, it must be under my terms."


I am soooo confused but I begin to open my mouth and a mosquito bites my leg so I kill it. Ben's smile turns to a glare as he reminds me, "Jens, please do not interrupt me."


I am shocked at how nicely he asked me so I don't open my mouth and Ben continues, "Jens, like I said earlier, I had you remove your pants as a symbol. Only one of us can wear the pants in this family and that person will be me."


I am now in total shock and stutter, "We... We... We are going to be a family?"


Ben smiles, comes over in front of me, gets on one knee, takes my hand and asks, "Jens, will you marry me on my terms and be my wife?"


I practically faint until another fricken mosquito bites me, which I proceed to swat, then I clarify, "And your terms are that you are the man and leader of our family?"


He looks up with the biggest smile on his face and says, "That's correct but I need to add one more thing - that we will discuss everything concerning our family and make decisions jointly."


I smile at Ben, finally understand everything and openly admit, "Ben, that's all I've ever wanted."


Ben jumps up and gives me the biggest hug and kiss I have ever had! It's soooo wonderful to finally know that my quest to find Ben is over. I pull away and panic, "Yikes, now I have a wedding to plan and I have no idea where we will hold it."


Ben looks around, waves his hands and says, "There's no time like the present and what's wrong with having it right here? Then all my friends can come."


I'm not exactly sure what Ben means, but I look around and decide Ben's right! I hug him and answer, "Here is perfect."


Ben suggests, "Perhaps you need to make some phone calls?"


I look at Ben's wolf and ask, "Your wolf won't attack me will he?"


Ben laughs and says, "Not unless you threaten me."


I pull out my phone, while keeping my eyes on the wolf and begin to call. Jack yells at Ben, "Hey Banzai since the fun is over how about letting me go?"


Ben walks toward Jack as I call Maria and Liz to help me figure out the wedding...


Present – Jack – at Glacier Park


I have a plan and it involves distracting Banzai. Banzai comes over close to me and I can't believe it when the bastard says, "Jack, why the hell should I let you and your friend go when you both want to kick my ass?"


I think about lying to Banzai but realize that so far he's caught all of my lies so I decide to tell him the truth and continue with the distraction, "Banzai, you may not know it but Linus and I are the first two in a long line of people who are standing in line to kick your ass for what you did to Jennifer."


Banzai continues with his silly-assed grin and says, "Then I need to keep you and Linus restrained for right now - for your own protection."


Even though I am handcuffed to Linus I made sure to put my handcuffs on so loosely that I can easily free my hands. I continue slipping my hands out of the handcuffs and toward Linus's shotgun. I almost have my hands free and on the shotgun but I don't really understand what he just said so I ask, "Banzai, what the hell are you talking about?"


 My hands are free, I grab the shotgun but before I can do anything the damn wolf that assaulted Jennifer runs over and begins to menace me by getting much too close to my face and neck, growling and baring his teeth. I drop the shotgun, Banzai pets the wolf on its head and answers, "Jack, this is one of my friends and just as he kept you from getting control of Linus's shotgun, he would rip you or anyone else a new asshole if they tried to kick my ass. That's why you and Linus, for right now, stay restrained."


Banzai continues his grin, reaches down, grabs Linus' shotgun, slides my hands back into the handcuffs, tightly cinches them down - and ruins my plan.


He looks at me and says, "Jack, I need to make some phone calls, why don't you see if you can wake Linus up?"


I grumble and try to wake Linus up as Banzai walks away...


Present – Maria and others – at the cabin command center


Liz bugs the hell out of me again, "Maria, shouldn't we have heard something from Jens by now?"


I glare at her and answer, "Liz, Jens said she would call us when she had something to tell us now just be fucking patient and wait for her to call."


I didn't dare tell Liz that I am even more nervous than she is because my Princess Boss decided to take Linus with her to capture Ben. I continue to pace the floor and finally the phone rings. Gretchen looks at the caller ID and announces, "It's from Jennifer."


We dash over beside Gretchen and I order, "Put it on the speaker phone." Then I ask, "Jens, we've been dying to hear from you. Did you capture Ben?"


Jens confuses us when she laughs and then answers, "Not exactly! It's more like Ben captured all of us."


Liz and I look at each other with confused looks so I ask for clarification, "Jens, we don't understand could you elaborate? And if Ben captured you, is Linus okay?"

Jens must have taken a happy pill or something because she begins to giggle and says, "Maria and Liz it would take too long to explain, nothing went like I planned…"


I interrupt, "Jens, does that mean Ben escaped again and what about Linus?"


Liz adds her two cents…


Jens is acting crazier than she's been in a long time and it's obvious that Maria is too interested in Linus to think about anything else so I interrupt, "Jens, please tell us, did you capture Ben?"


Maria bugs the hell out of me with her continuing focus, "And Jens, please tell me about Linus?"


Jens finally simmers down and says, "Liz and Maria, as I said nothing went like I had planned, it went even better! Ben caught us, Linus took one for the team but most importantly Ben and I are getting married."


I glare at Maria as she interrupts, "Jens, what the hell do you mean Linus took one for the team?"


Jens says, "Don't worry Maria he will be fine - Ben shot him with one of the Taser Xrep rounds from my shotgun but Jack is in the process of waking him up. Did you not hear that Ben and I are getting married?"


Thank God Gretchen catches Maria as she faints and slumps to the floor. I respond, "Jens, that's great news so when and where is the wedding?"

Jens giggles again and asks, "Liz, how fast can you pull together a wedding?"


I'm shocked but answer, "Jens I don't know, probably a couple weeks."


There's a pause and Jens says, "That won't do. We want to get married as soon as possible – umm like tomorrow."


I'm practically flabbergasted and demand, "Just where do you plan on holding this wedding?"


Jen giggles and answers, "We decided to have it here at the campsite."


I look around the room at everyone else and restate, "Jens, are you saying you want me to pull together a wedding at the campsite where you are right now and do it in one day?"


Jens replies, "That's correct Liz, thanks I knew you would understand. Now I need to go and spend some time with Ben."


She hangs up the phone, I look at everyone in the command center and order, "What are you all sitting on your asses for, we need to give Jens her wedding."


Present – Ben – at Glacier Park


I finish my phone calls with a couple of people I want at my wedding with Jens. I notice Jens is walking towards me and practically laugh as I watch her swat her leg again. I guess the mosquitoes or deer flies have been bothering her – shit, I should have thought about that. I look at the wolf and nod my head, he runs over by Jens who gives him the evil eye until he begins to snap the mosquitoes that are bothering her. She walks up, laughs and says, "I thought your wolf was going to bite me but he does a great job of keeping the mosquitoes away from me. What's his name?"


I shake my head and explain, "Jens, as I said before he's a wild wolf and doesn't have a name. He's one of my friends so why don't you get to know him better?"


Jens gives me a million dollar smile, puts her hands behind her back, provocatively swivels her body and asks, "Ben, even though I'm not sure I trust the wolf, I do trust you and because of that I would love to meet the wolf but do you think I could first put my pants back on?"


I smile at her and answer, "Well, I was enjoying the hell out of the show, even though those pink camo panties aren't regulation…" The wolf snaps a deer fly right off Jens' leg, she jumps like crazy and I continue, "However, it seems like whatever lotion you're wearing attracts the mosquitoes and deer flies." I reach down, pick up her pants, brush the dirt off them and hand them to her.


She giggles and answers, "Well, I'm no longer a Marine so I don't have to worry about regulations. But I bet you're going to love my camo wedding dress?"


Jens almost has her pants on. I'm shocked so I question, "I thought you always wanted to wear a white wedding dress?"


Jens finishes putting on her pants, runs over, jumps into my arms and laughs, "I got you! Of course my wedding dress will be white however I'm not telling you what color my panties will be. By the way, who did you call?"


I had hoped to avoid this question until – well until they showed up at the wedding but I sure as hell won't start lying to Jens so I take a deep breath and answer, "Jens, you might not like this but I had to call Stacy Summers because she has two of my groom's men traveling with her. And I had to call another person named Margarita because she has another one of my groom's men with her."


Jens smiles at me and answers, "Ben, if I had any worry about any other women I wouldn't be marrying you tomorrow. Are you sure they can get here in one day?"


I squeeze Jens tight look deep into her eyes and answer, "Yes they both promised they would be here. But I did need to arrange for a flight and helicopter for Margarita and Motita."


Jens laughs and questions, "What the heck is a Motita?"


I smile and give her the same answer that Margarita gave me, "It's Spanish for a small speck. She's this great dog that I saved from a crazy Chinaman in Austin."


Jens gave me a funny look and asks, "Ben, just who are your groom's men?"


I sigh and answer, "Jack of course will be my best man; the wolf is going to be the next in line, then Bo, Wojtek and Motita."


Jens scratches her head and asks, "Wojtek is that bear that traveled with you and Stacy, right? I have no idea who Bo is but tell me if I'm wrong: The only human you have in the wedding party is Jack? Is there anything else I should know?"


I smile at Jens and answer, "Only that I love you and the five in my wedding party are more loyal than most people I've encountered."


Jens scratches her head, smiles and answers…


Present – Jens – at Glacier Park


This might be the 'mother' of all non-traditional weddings! Heck no, it's probably the great-grandmother, grandmother and mother of all non-traditional weddings. It's certainly NOT what I had envisioned. I guess I should be thankful that Ben doesn't know any monkeys otherwise they would probably be in the wedding party. I could of course become a bitch about things and demand things to go the way I want, but I'm just so thankful to have Ben in my life again it doesn't really matter. Besides it just might set some sort of new precedence for weddings – I can see it now brides everywhere will be demanding that their grooms have animals in the wedding parties.


I smile at Ben and say, "Ben this should be a fun wedding, but just remember I will not clean up any wolf or bear poo." Then I rub my hands together; mimic an evil laugh and state, "However, I sure hope you don't plan on them coming on our honeymoon."


Ben gets a strange look on his face and confesses, "Shoot Jens, I forgot all about planning the honeymoon."


I giggle and answer, "Well you'd better get moving. If I can plan a wedding in one day you should be able to plan a honeymoon in what's left of today. Just remember wherever we go I'm counting on room service."


Ben heads toward Jack; I conquer my fear when I reach down, pet his wolf and decide that I'm going to like watching Ben squirm…


Present – Jack – at Glacier Park


Linus is finally awake and has been whining about a hellacious headache. I shush him so I can listen to the conversation between Banzai and Jennifer and I can't believe that Banzai was so prepared for everything else but forgot about the honeymoon. Hell, that's the best part of getting married! He walks toward us. I know I should give him a ration of shit about it, but then I remember how many things he helped me with in the past; hell if it wasn't for him, Masha and I would probably still be in Moscow. I begin to rack my brain to help him.


He walks up and says, "Shit Jack I forgot all about the honeymoon, I have no idea where to take Jens."


I smile at Banzai and answer, "I was going to give you shit about this, however you helped me so much with Masha I've decided it wouldn't be fair. Since you have more money than Carter has Little Pills you should take her someplace nice but also someplace that's meaningful for the two of you."


I can almost see the wheels turning in Banzai's head, then he looks at me, smiles and answers, "I know the perfect place, I need to make some phone calls."


I question, "Don't you think it's about time that you let me go?"


Banzai consents by tossing the handcuff keys to me then orders, "Jack I'm going to let you go but Linus needs to stay restrained for his own safety."


Linus whines, "More likely for your safety because if I was free I would kick your ass."


Banzai laughs and challenges, "Okay Linus it's your fucking funeral. Jack take off his cuffs but before you do you might want to explain about my friend over there." Banzai points towards the wolf that Jens is petting, walks away and begins to make some phone calls.


I tell Linus, "Banzai says that wolf will rip us a new asshole if we try to kick Banzai's ass."


Linus looks at the wolf, who is now lying on the ground on his back while Jennifer scratches his belly and says, "I highly doubt that would happen, it looks like a domesticated wolf to me."


Linus no is no sooner lose than he jumps up and runs toward Banzai. He only makes three steps when a flash of gray hits him square in the chest, knocks him on his ass and then stands over the top of him growling and baring his teeth...


Present – Jens – at Glacier Park


Wow! That was impressive! I was scratching the belly of Ben's wolf and thought it had relaxed when the next thing I know it took off like its rear is on fire. Linus was free and is going after Ben whose back is facing him. I watch as the wolf jumps through the air, hits Linus in the chest, knocks him back on his rear and then stands over him looking like he is ready to rip out Linus' throat.


Ben turns to see what's making all the noise, sees the wolf, laughs and says, "I tried to warn you Linus. Jack take the handcuffs and restrain Linus again."


Linus complains, "Hey you don't need to do that!"


Ben answers, "Linus, you're lucky as hell you still have a throat. I know you're a hard headed SEAL and will try it again but the next time you try it the wolf will probably hurt you."


I decide it's time for me to intervene so I walk over, pet the wolf, the wolf relaxes and I order, "Linus thank you for your help on this mission but as you can see, I'm with Ben so the mission is over."


Linus argues, "But Ben still deserves to have his ass kicked for all he's done to you for the past many months."


Ben walks over, puts his arm around me and answers, "Linus, I know it's not a good excuse, but at the time I thought what I did I was doing for Jens. I now realize how wrong I was. Jens has forgiven me, Jack is in the process of forgiving me, so how about it, can you forgive me?"


Ben holds out his hand, Linus reaches for it, the wolf growls at Linus and Linus pulls his hand back. Ben says something to the wolf I don't understand then the wolf sits on its haunches but keeps its eyes trained on Linus. He slowly reaches out his hand, Ben and Linus shake hands and Linus says, "For now this matter is over, but if you..."


He doesn't get to finish because the wolf is standing, the hair is standing up on his back and he's growling at Linus. Ben says, "Linus, the wolf can read your emotions better than I can so if I were you I wouldn't even verbally threaten me or Jens."


Ben guides me away from Linus and I realize that this Ben is very different from the Ben I had known before - he's changed. I ask...


Present – Ben – at Glacier Park


The situation with Linus has been handled and I know he's not an immediate threat. Now I need to talk to Jens about a couple things so we turn away from Linus and Jens comments, "Ben, you're different than before, you've changed."


I laugh and respond, "Jens, that's the nature of life, we all grow and change."


Jens squeezes me tightly and says, "No Ben, we've both changed in that way. However I don't know how to explain it other than you seem to be – well free!"


I know what Jens means but I'm not sure I know how to explain it so I deflect her question, "Jens, we need to get your tent setup for tonight, I hope you don't mind using Destiny's tent?"


Jens stops and asks, "I thought we would sleep together like we did last night?"


I turn toward her and answer, "Jens, last night was wonderful but my tent is only designed to hold one person."


She looks sad and admits, "Yeah, it was pretty tight in the tent last night, but it was fun!"


I smile and answer, "From the little bit I remember, it was fun."


I pull out Destiny's tent and it reminds me off all Destiny did for me. We begin to assemble it and I ask, "So did you bring anything for dinner tonight?"


Jens answers, "Not really, I wasn't sure what would happen."


I smile and answer, "Can you finish setting up the tent while I make dinner?"


Jens answers, "Sure, I hope it's something good. I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."


I laugh and suggest, "Make sure you don't say that around Bo. And I have the best freeze dried food that money can buy."


Jens questions, "Please tell me you're going to do the voodoo you do so well on the food?"


I smile. Of course she remembers how I turned the nasty-assed MREs into real meals, she's going to be really shocked when she sees what I can do with decent freeze dried food. I answer, "Do bears shit in the woods?"


Jens laughs and says, "I don't care where your bear Wojtek defecates, just as long as it's far from here and I don't have to clean it up."


I chuckle as I head over to the picnic table and ask, "Jens, I noticed all the bottles were moved, did you adulterate all the water?"


She says, "Of course I did, I wasn't sure which bottle you would drink from."


I dump out all the water, take the bottles and filter over to Jack who's been talking with Linus and ask, "Hey Jack, how about taking these over to the pump, rinsing them out to remove any residue of the sleeping shit Jens put in them and then filtering some water into them."


Linus glares at me and demands, "Why the hell should Jack do anything for you?"


I simply state, "Because I'm making dinner and need fresh water."


Jack jumps up and answers, "If you're making dinner, I'll be glad to get you some fresh water. Come on Linus."


They both left and I start to prepare the stove and other ingredients for tonight’s dinner...


Present – Jack and Linus – at Glacier Park


Linus complains, "Jack, why in the hell are you helping Ben with this."


I laugh and answer, "Hell Linus, you haven't lived until you've eaten some of Banzai's field cooking. The things he can do with an MRE are almost magical."


Linus counters, "If he's such a fucking good cook, how come he's so thin?"

I rinse the water containers from the pump and answer, "Linus, when Banzai was shot in Russia part of his intestines were injured. The doctors had to remove the damaged part and ever since then the only way he can gain weight is if he eats all the time."


Linus answers, "Damn that's a problem I wish I had."


I further inform as I begin to filter the water for tonight's dinner, "Linus, you sure as hell wouldn't want what else goes with it. If he eats certain foods he gets huge cramps."


Linus asks, "Things like spicy hot food?"


I laugh and answer, "Hell no, he can eat damn spicy food. In fact, if he ever makes chili you'd better watch out because I'm not sure when it burns the worst, going in or coming out the other end. Believe it or not the worst things for him are fatty foods like French fries." I finish with the water, we head back to the camp, I hand the bottles to Banzai and ask, "What's for dinner?"


Banzai fills up a huge pot with the clean water, sets it on the stove which is already running, then he looks at us and answers, "I'm going to make beef stroganoff, peas and pearl onions in butter sauce and especially because your here Jack, we will have s'mores for desert. So how about you and Linus starting a nice campfire but don't make it too damn big - there's wood by the fire ring, matches on the table and some newspaper in the trash bag."


I answer, "That's good because my stomach is telling me my throat's been cut."


I grab the matches and some newspaper and Linus and I move to the fire ring to start the fire...


Later after the meal we're setting around the campfire making s'mores and Linus says, "Damn I didn't think freeze dried food could taste that good."


Jennifer laughs and says, "Yeah we noticed you had thirds. And my Ben is the best camp cook I've ever known."


Banzai answers, "I'm glad you enjoyed it since I do like to cook."


He reaches into his pack, pulls out a bundle of what looks like weeds, lights it in the fire and begins to wave the smoke around. Then he gets up waves smoke into both the tents, comes back by the fire and waves more smoke around. Jennifer notices our questioning expressions and says, "Ben is using the sage smoke to purify our campsite and tents."


Banzai gives additional information, "Jens is correct. This should help us sleep better and will also keep the insects away. By the way, sorry I don't have a tent for you two."


Linus says, "Hell, it's a great night so we will stay awake and stand watch."


Banzai laughs, "Linus, you and Jack can take it easy and have a good night's sleep since my furry friends will stand watch."


I ask, "Friends like your wolf?"


Banzai gives me an unusual smile and answers, "He and a few other friends, so don't worry and have a good night's sleep. Just make sure not to leave the campsite."


I ask, "Some of us aren't as young as you so what if I need to take a leak?"


Banzai says, "Then make sure to take a flashlight and use the outhouse." Then he yawns and says, "I don't know about you guys but I'm cleaning my teeth and hitting the rack."


Jennifer adds, "But not until we have a little 'alone' time."


They both take off holding hands, I look at Linus and say, "Hell, we might as well call it a night too."


We both lie down on the blankets Banzai gave us - it's a clear night and the stars are out in force. In a few minutes I hear Linus snoring but I'm a little cold until I get a huge surprise - a wolf, no not Banzai's wolf, comes over and lays beside me to help keep me warm…