Day 7 - Aroma of home

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When Clare woke up to an empty room, she got up, and pulling the blanket with her, emerged from the room to smell a unique warm aroma lingering in the morning air. She glanced towards the boys sitting around talking, sipping something out of mugs. Steam floated up in white dancing streams. Regardless of what they were drinking, she knew it was warm.

The guys caught her hungry eyes following the wispy steam floating up.

"It's tea. Hot, steaming tea," Brandon uttered before she could even open her mouth.

"Tea?" she choked gleefully.

"We found some in the kitchen, gathering dust," Matt said. "Do you want some? The water is still very hot..." he asked, pointing towards the fireplace flickering with bright flames. A scene from a time long forgotten a kettle hung from an iron bar spanning the breadth of the fireplace. Mathew looked back at her again. "Hope you like it black."

"Yeah, black is fine, thank you," she smiled warmly, itching to take her gloves off and hold the warm mug in her hands. She watched as Jack poured her a mug. She seated herself on the little carpet in front of the small fire and waited for Jack to hand her the drink. As she stared into the swirling warmth of her tea the boys told her how they had come across the tea in the first place.

"It started out when Brandon was bored and went off scouting this place..." Matt said.

Clare, her arms resting atop her knees, her fingers wrapped around the curve of the mug. A tingling sensation hit her as her cold fingers struggled to stay close to the hot mug. She gasped as her mouth filled with the generally tasteless black tea; she swallowed it immediately almost in disbelief that it was real. The hot drink rolled down her throat, warming her chest.

Taking another sip she remarked. "This is fabulous." The guys laughed. They didn't bother going on with the exciting story about the tea.

She took another sip and with this, and almost inaudibly moaned out as if in reaction to some ecstatic substance.

"Damn girl... don't do that," Jack looked down at her cheekily. "That kind of a sound can..." he shook his head, "you know, give ideas..."

She merely glared at him a moment before returning to drink the warm nectar.

"Don't let Jack get off so easily Peterson, you might come to regret it," Matt said.

She smiled slightly through pressed lips. "So, how did you find this stuff?" she asked. Matt made himself comfortable on the arm of the worn sofa, ready to continue on where he had left off with his story, but Brandon wasn't in the mood to hear it retold.

"Actually it was nothing," he hurriedly said. "I just wanted to warm myself so I went through the kitchen and checked out all the cupboards," he sipped out of his cup, "and found this packet of tea. That's about it."

"Tea's the only thing you found?" she asked glancing at him. He nodded.

"We have to get out of this place," Matt spoke with dread.

"No way dude. I'm not going anywhere anymore," Jack shook his head. "I'm tired of all this walking around, searching for people who aren't around." He defiantly stood up. "I'm gonna die here, Matt, we all are. May as well die with a little dignity in this God-forsaken house... but there is no way I'm willing to go out there again." His hand pointed towards the door, "not again - to get lost and die out there."

Anguish blaring out through his eyes. Jack walked off towards the back room. At the door, he turned around. "At least here, there's a chance someone will find our remains. Out there, we'll just get buried by the snow, and no one will know," he added in a much calmer tone.

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