"Fascinating," Cameron whispered to himself, sitting on the side of his bed and jotting down something in a notepad as he observed Mike on the top bunk of the beds on the opposite side of the room. Mike was asleep and mumbling to himself, though interestingly the voice doing the mumbling wasn't his own, but that of his cranky old man character. Then it would switch to the girlish voice with the thick accent. Finally, it would switch to the deeper tough guy voice from the character he had only revealed in the most recent challenge. Then the cycle would repeat, returning to Chester but only rarely going to Mike. Cameron continued writing down his notes with each development Mike's sleep talking went through. While further observations needed to be made so he could be certain, the bubble boy theorized that after a comment made by Mike recently regarding personalities, he most likely suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder. It was the first time Cameron had the chance to observe someone with such a disorder before in real life. The whole thing was quite intriguing to the intelligent young man, so he took it upon himself to make notes of Mike's developments going forward to see what else he could learn about-
"What was that, soldier?" came the sudden voice of Brick, startling Cameron enough to get a small yelp while also causing him to drop his notepad. "What's fascinating?"
The short teenager quickly scrambled to pick up his notepad before trying to compose himself. "Oh nothing," he replied before looking around and eventually setting his eyes on the window. "Just, uh, observing the fauna."
Outside the window was the lovely image of a three eyed mutant deer throwing up green slime. Brick raised a confused eyebrow at the sight, so Cameron could only chuckle nervously. Being stuck in a bubble for so long may have meant he had very little human interaction before the show, but he was still observant, and it was clear that if Mike really did have a disorder he didn't want the others knowing about it.
Eventually, Brick simply shrugged and finished lacing up his boots. "Whatever floats your boat, cadet. Since there's no challenge today, I won't tell you how to spend your time. That being said, I'd recommend you not spend most of it indoors. I, personally, am going to take an extra long morning jog. You could benefit from doing the same."
"Physical activity isn't exactly my forte, but I'll keep that in mind," Cameron replied as Brick gave one last nod before jogging out of the cabin. Mike was continuing his sleep talk routine with little to no change. Cameron took the opportunity to ponder what would happen if Mike woke up to see him watching over him and jotting down notes. He'd... probably come across as really creepy to Mike. He'd also probably have plenty of time to observe his quirks latter, so for now Cameron decided he should follow Brick's advice to an extent and get some fresh air with his off day.
Tucking his notepad and pencil into his hoodie pocket, he first thought about what he could do without somehow getting injured from the various dangers of the island. He could do what he had told Brick he was doing and take down notes of the different creatures roaming Wawanakwa. The problem, though, was that most of those animals could snap him in half like a toothpick. Or blast his head off with a lazer beam. Or burn him to death with fire breath. There were a lot of bad options.
Just as he was prepared to move on to something else, a mutant butterfly suddenly flapped by. It was about the size of a baseball and had three wings, but aside from that seemed just as harmless as a regular butterfly. A good a start as any, Cameron thought. At least the butterfly wasn't likely to kill him. Taking back out his notepad, Cameron followed it and observed the flight pattern the insect took in comparison to a regular butterfly. The extra wing seemed to help it manage the added weight of its larger body, yet it still seemed to struggle a bit with basic flying. It begged the question of how long the creature had been mutated. Was it born a mutant? Were there differences in the mutant creatures that were normal before being exposed to the radiation when compared to the ones born on the island after the radiation hit? How did it affect their eating patterns? How they lived? As disturbing as the treatment to the animals was, it was at the same time very interesting. He could write a whole research paper just on the island.
"Good morning, Cameron," came a sudden calm voice that stopped the bubble boy in his tracks. "I see you've taken an interest in the beautiful creatures here that have been affected by that horrible man's carelessness."
Cameron turned around to see Dawn, that strange girl from the other team, sitting Indian style on a stump in a meditative pose. Her eyes were closed and she appeared peaceful.
"Uh... well, it's kind of hard not to be interested in them considering their unique situation and characteristics," Cameron hesitantly responded before raising an eyebrow. "Wait, how did you even know it was me if your eyes were closed?"
"I sensed your aura, of course," she replied, still not opening her eyes. "No one else on the island has such a shade of cerulean since no one else is as observant and curious. It's no surprise that your curiosity would be high considering the yearnings you've had for more real world interactions since you were seven, when the cold empty feeling of your bubble started setting in."
"... what?" Cameron asked, utterly dumbfounded. "How did you... wait, auras?"
"Auras, yes," she repeated, opening her left eye to meet Cameron's gaze. "Have you heard of them?"
Cameron tapped his chin in thought. "Well, yes, I've read a fair few amount of books featuring them and even a few studies about them. But, I mean, all of those books were fictions and the studies I read came back with inconclusive results. I don't want to offend you or anything, but aura reading seems unlikely to me."
"Yes, intellectuals such as yourself tend to be skeptical about it," she replied, closing the eye again. "But I assure you that they're just as real as the hatred you felt towards those horrible kids in your neighborhood that you could hear making fun of you outside of your window."
The bubble boy blinked in confusion, then dropped his jaw. "How... did you know about that?" He thought things over. The thing about feeling empty around the age of seven could have been a lucky guess, but that was far too specific. He decided to ask the first explanation he could think of. "Did we live in the same neighborhood or something? This show is my first time being outside of my bubble so-"
"No, it's nothing like that," Dawn answered. "Just read it in your aura is all."
Cameron raised an eyebrow. He decided to flip the page on his notepad and wrote down notes of the conversation. For obvious reasons he was still hesitant to believe anything Dawn was saying, but he saw no harm in humoring the idea a bit. "Alright, well if that's the case can you read what I'm thinking of right now?" he asked, thinking of the first random thing he could think of. In this case, an Erlenmeyer flask.
"I'm afraid that's now how it works," Dawn replied, opening both eyes this time and placing her hands on her knees. "I simply read things important to one's being which makes up their unique aura. I can't read minds."
"Huh." Cameron wrote down some notes and decided to join Dawn near her seat, sitting down on another stump next to hers. "So you wouldn't know something unimportant and specific such as what someone had for breakfast, for example, but you WOULD know about a significant event that's stuck with them for a long time and shaped part of their personality?"
"Something like that, yes." She smiled. "Though it wouldn't have to be something from long ago to be part of someone's aura. For example, I can sense the growing attraction Zoey and Mike have for each other quite easily. When they're together their auras create a beautiful pink. I can sense very good things for their future together."
"Fascinating," as Cameron began to write, he suddenly went wide eyed. "Wait, you can predict the future by reading auras?"
"Well... not exactly," Dawn answered, tapping her fingers together as she thought of the proper way to explain things. "I can simply sense the aura's around things and make predictions as to what will happen from what the aura's tell me. For example, there's a dark cloud surrounding the aura of this very island which tells me that something bad could happen to it in the distant future. I don't know WHAT that bad thing is, and it's always possible for it to be prevented, but it just tells me that it's almost certain to happen."
The scrawny nerd nodded and wrote down the new information. "Makes sense, I suppose. Or at least as much sense as this aura reading thing could make." He read over the notes he had taken thus far, focusing on the bit about sensing Mike and Zoey's growing attraction. "So, you can sense something regarding Zoey and Mike? That has me curious about something. Do-"
"I know what causes the odd changes in personality for Mike?" Dawn answered, inadvertently cutting off Cameron. "Yes, his aura is quite the... interesting one. And while I sense you have your suspicions already, it isn't my place to share something that Mike doesn't yet want sharing so you'll have to ask him himself for confirmation on your own, I'm afraid."
Cameron nodded in understanding, closing his notepad after scribbling down a few more lines. "So, as skeptical as I still am, this whole aura reading thing seems really intriguing. Did you always have the ability to read auras, or is it something anyone can learn?"
"It's a gift that just comes naturally to those perfectly in tune with Mother Nature." Dawn spread out her arms and motioned around at the trees and various animal life scampering around, as horrifying and deformed as they looked from their mutations. Despite the situation, they all seemed to be relatively at peace around Dawn. "So, I really wouldn't call it something you learn, just something you gain from adopting that way of life. I've always felt this in tune with nature, so I've always had the ability, but I'm sure someone else could adopt the correct mindset and lifestyle later on in life."
"And thus adopt the gift to read auras," Cameron finished, smiling in awe. As the nerdier teen pondered the information on the supernatural topic, he began to wonder just how effective Dawn could be at the supposed aura reading, or if this was all just an elaborate prank somehow. The way she talked so easily and detailed about the matter gave him the impression that she wasn't lying, but what he had learned from his books told him that such an ability shouldn't exist. Auras themselves shouldn't exist. Scientifically it shouldn't have made sense, but there was something about the way she spoke that was having Cameron convinced. Dawn took notice of his contemplative expression and leaned forward curiously.
"Still doubtful that I'm telling the truth?"
Cameron smiled sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head. "Well, it's not that, necessarily. It's just just a very hard thing to comprehend is all, considering just how unlikely it should be for someone to have the abilities you claim to have."
Dawn smiled and shrugged, preparing to return to her meditation stance. "Well, you can choose to believe it or not if you please, I won't try to convince you of something if you don't want me to. I'll just be going back to my meditating now."
"Wait," Cameron said, putting a hand on the strange girl's shoulder to stop her. "I was actually hoping we could... field test your powers. Just to confirm that you really do have them." Dawn frowned, not liking the sound of the phrase 'field test,' forcing Cameron to quickly clarify. "It's just that I find this whole thing very fascinating, and I do think you're telling the truth, but if I'm to make proper notes on the subject it'll require some more evidence though experimentation besides just what you told me."
"I'm not really interested in abusing my ability, Cameron," she replied hesitantly. "No offense, but I don't think using me as an 'experiment' sounds like something I'd want to do."
Cameron's arms drooped as he realized how badly his message had come across due to wording. "No! Oh, no, no, that's not how I intended to make it sound at all. What I meant-" He tried to better explain himself, but couldn't find the words. After stammering for a few seconds, he palmed his forehead and shook his head at the ground. "Gah, curse the social awkwardness that comes with being devoid of human interaction for so long."
Dawn giggled and patted Cameron on the back. "It's ok, Cameron. Plenty of people have told me that I'm socially awkward as well, so I know the feeling. I know you meant no offense, it's just that I take my aura readings very seriously."
"I absolutely understand," Cameron replied. "Sorry, I just really wanted to observe your gift in action from a spectator's perspective, since I think the idea of being able to ACTUALLY read someone's aura, and that auras themselves actually exist, all sounds very interesting."
"I suppose that's one word for it," Dawn said with a smile. "Still, I wouldn't want to use it for the wrong kind of purpose."
"Then how about we use it for something good?" Cameron suggested. "Help someone else in camp out with some sort of problem or insecurity of theirs?"
Dawn looked hesitant but thought it over none the less. "Well... I suppose doing something kind for someone wouldn't be any trouble. No harm to come from that. But what if they didn't want the help? We could be intruding in a way they wouldn't want us to."
Cameron shrugged. "If at any point they want you to stop they can just tell us as much and we'll respect that. Otherwise, I don't think they'll object to having someone help them with something they might struggle with."
The moonchild thought it over some more. It was a lovely meditating spot she was sitting in, and in the off chance her 'help' came across as meddling instead of the good Cameron and her intended it to be, it could make her seem rude to her fellow campers. That, in turn, could lead to her being eliminated and losing the chance to win the money she was fighting for to put towards helping Mother Nature. On the other hand, she always enjoyed helping others with her unique gift. Plus, it would not only make the recipient happy, but also Cameron since he would get the evidence he wanted to observe. At the time she didn't ponder why making Cameron happy mattered, and simply nodded. "As long as it does no harm, I guess it can't hurt."
Sometime later, the two found themselves out in the main area of camp near the cabins and Mess Hall. The majority of the campers were walking around, working out, or just chilling in their different spots. Mike and Zoey were sat on the stairs to one of the cabins, chatting it up with smiles on their face. Sam was talking to Dakota near the entrance of the Mess Hall, and she seems to be holding a tray of dirty dishes due to being on kitchen duty for the day as an intern. Lightning ran by as he was having a jog, while Brick and Jo seemed to be done with their jogs and had started a pushup competition. Last was Anne Maria who was off sun bathing on the beach in the distance, occasionally glancing back at Mike. The only camper missing was Scott.
"Lets see." Cameron scanned the area as he and Dawn emerged from the forest. "Who would make the ideal subject to help?"
Dawn also looked over the area. She first noticed Zoey and Mike, who were deep into a conversation and both seemed to be very much enjoying each other's company. They wouldn't want to be disturbed, so they were out of the question. She also noticed the other potential couple in the making of Sam and Dakota. She frowned. "I don't like that Dakota has returned as an intern," she said. "That dark cloud in her aura has grown significantly more intense. Something really bad will happen to her as long as she stays on this island.
Cameron quirked an eyebrow and glanced over at the heiress turned intern. "Should we try and help her, then?"
Dawn shook her head in a dismissive fashion. "No, I don't think there's anything the two of us could do to prevent it. However..." she glanced back at the blonde, standing next to Sam and making conversation. He had a goofy grin whenever he wasn't talking, and was actually letting his handheld video game dangle at his side while talking to her. "When the cloud mixes with Sam's aura it turns into a surprisingly pretty shade of orange. Perhaps the best thing Dakota can do is continue forming a bond with Sam, and it doesn't seem like we need to give them any help there."
Cameron nodded in agreement and went back to scanning the area. He took notice of Anne Maria in the distance and pondered what problems she could have. "Anne Maria surely has to have some things that might need sorting out considering how loud and, well, kind of rude she can be. Plus that obsession with keeping her hair rock solid and skin 'tanned.'" He used air quotes with the word 'tanned.' It was clear from the orange hue than it wasn't exactly a natural tan, but Anne Maria was a tough customer so no one really brought it up. "Perhaps we could-"
"Stupid Chris head being hidden so stupid good," came a sudden mumbling voice from behind the scrawny duo, cutting Cameron off and getting both to look back just in time to see the source emerging from the forest. It was none other than Scott, looking a little bruised and sweaty as he rubbed his head in irritated pain. "And stupid Fang trying to-"
He stopped, both speaking and in motion as he noticed Cameron and Dawn standing in front of him and looking puzzled. He stammered and quickly tried to compose himself. "H-hey, guys! I was just, uh... using the confessional when that stupid shark tried to get the jump on me and chased me around. Finally gave him the slip." He chuckled. "Yep, that's all I was doing."
"But you were just mumbling something about the Ch-" Cameron was once again cut off before he could finish his sentence, this time by Dawn.
"Scott, I know you believe lying so often will put off your problems, but they only prolong them and lead to bad consequences," she told the dirt farmer, who looked at her with a dumbfounded expression. "You truly need to start being more honest with not just others, but also yourself."
Scott's mouth was agape and he stammered to signify that he was trying to say something, but struggled to find the words. Eventually, he grunted in annoyance and barged off towards the Mess Hall. "Whatever, weirdos. Just go back to making out or whatever, I'm gonna grab some grub."
Dawn's eyes went wide at the implications of Scott's parting words and didn't notice a faint blush forming. Making out? Why did he assume they were doing something like-
"Well that was rude," Cameron suddenly said, breaking Dawn's train of thought. "Maybe we should try and help him with HIS issues?"
After regaining her thoughts, Dawn once again shook her head. "No, the brown stubbornness of Scott's aura is one of its most prominent parts. Trying to help him sort out his inner struggles would take far longer than one day, especially since he doesn't seem to think much of us. Maybe it would be easier if we had someone here he felt a connection to, but oh well." She shrugged.
"Right." Cameron once again looked back to the Jersey Shore reject. "And Anne Maria?"
Dawn gave the loudmouth a good long look to ponder it. "Well, it's certainly an idea. I can sense that Anne Maria has had something of a troubled upbringing when I look through her aura. However... oddly enough, there's a very cheerful shade of green in there as well. I think she's actually quite happy with herself and how she acts, even if it may come across as a bit abrasive to us." She smiled. "I don't think she would want any kind of help from us."
"Gosh, that's kind of narrowing down our options," Cameron added, having already figured by now as well that Mike and Zoey should be left alone. "Perhaps Lightning? There has to be some sort of explanation for why he always speaks in third person and overachieves so much."
Lightning by now was jogging back through camp at a breakneck speed, much too fast for Cameron or Dawn to even hope of catching up.
"Yes, his father issues are something that could use working out, but we would have to catch up to him or get his attention first," Dawn pointed out as the jock ran by. "And judging by that silver shade of cockiness and superiority in his aura, he wouldn't really give us the time of day once we'd get a chance to talk to him."
Cameron frowned and was about to go back to scanning the area when Brick suddenly walked by as well. He noticed his nerdy roommate and offered a smile and wave. "Well I'll be, looks like you took my advice after all, eh soldier?" He gave Cameron a pat on the back which was nearly enough to push over the frail boy. Brick then noticed Dawn standing with him and his eyes widened. "Oh! Uh, was I interrupting something? Heh, sorry about that. I'll leave you two be." He gave Cameron another back pat, this one ACTUALLY knocking him over, which went unnoticed by Brick since he was already making his way to the Mess Hall. "Go get em,' Tiger!"
The implications once again flustered Dawn and caused her to blush. That was two people now who seemed to have gotten the wrong impression from them. How odd.
"Well, Brick seems like one of the nicest and least troubled people here, so he's probably out," Cameron said as he picked himself up and looked around once more. "So, that just leaves-"
"Actually, you'd be surprised at the inner problems Brick deals with," Dawn interrupted. "From his fear of the dark, his need to be dominated, and the paranoia he has about constantly wetting the bed."
Cameron blinked in confusion, looking around awkwardly. "Oooooookay... well, I don't really think those are the kind of issues he'd want people confronting him on. I'd hate to offend him." He looked over at the final camper they had yet to suggest. "What about Jo?"
Dawn gave the jockette a look as Jo continued her workout with some sit-ups, reading her aura and sizing up any troubles she may have. The results were... surprising. After giving it a few more seconds, Dawn finally nodded. "Yes, I think that would work perfectly."
"Excellent!" Cameron took out his notepad and pencil, and motioned for Dawn to follow him. "No need to waste time, then."
Jo, who was finishing up her sit-ups and preparing to take a break for food in the Mess Hall once she was done, felt the approaching presence of two people. She smirked and started to get up. "Sorry Sergent Sissy and Brightning, but ya caught me at a bad time." She turned around. "I'm gonna get some grub, so you'll have to wait if-" She paused after realizing that it was actually Cameron and Dawn approaching her. "The heck do you two wienies want?"
Cameron and Dawn exchanged a look, both realizing that they had failed to plan out what to actually say for their experiment. Cameron tugged at his collar and motioned his head at his pale comrade. "Well, no need to beat around the bush. Dawn here was just, uh, telling me about her aura reading powers, and I was curious to see if they actually worked. See, everything I've read on the subject suggests it's fictional, but she put up a convincing argument. So... I thought maybe she could read your aura and you could confirm or disprove it for me?"
Dawn seemed surprised that Cameron was so truthful about their intentions, but smiled at his honesty and nodded in agreement. Jo, however, just raised an eyebrow and scoffed.
"Yeah, no, sorry but I don't believe in any of that mumbo jumbo crap, Freaky God Mother." She began to walk off. "Ask someone else, cause I don't have the time."
"But-" Cameron started before Jo turned and gave him a stink eye that made him flinch and take a cowering step back. The jock had a satisfied smirk and turned to leave again, only for Dawn to be in her path.
"Your aura suggests that you have rather serious problems when it comes to how people judge you," Dawn said, making Jo raise both eyebrows. "Most likely due to how kids in your class would tease you when you were young."
"How the heck," Jo mumbled before shaking it off and glaring down at the moonchild. "You're talking a bunch of bologna, Tinkerpale."
Dawn frowned as she noticed another part of her aura and looked Jo in the eyes. "And it seems that the desire to get strong and push yourself to be better than others came from the teasing coupled with how your father would get when he'd dri-"
Suddenly, Jo grabbed Dawn by her shirt and brought her face to face, glare intensifying. "Don't. Talk. About. My. Dad," she hissed, prompting Cameron to quickly try and get between the two in a panic.
"She didn't mean to offend, Jo, we're sorry," Cameron pleaded, sweating as he saw the jockette looking ready to get physical. "She was just-"
"It's ok, Cameron, I crossed a line," Dawn said, still looking Jo in the eyes. "But Jo, I want you to know that you can't blame yourself. And it's okay to show emotion, you don't always have to appear so tough."
Jo looked back at Dawn in a mix of rage and confusion. She growled a bit before dropping her and attempting to storm off. "Whatever. Don't talk to me again. Ever."
Cameron, still wide eyed, approached Dawn with his hands trembling as he tried writing down notes. "O-okay, I definitely believe that your aura reading is legitimate. Now we should probably get going." There was no answer, and he turned his head. "Dawn?"
He gasped as he noticed Dawn was no longer there. He turned his head and saw her now walking alongside Jo.
"I'm serious, Jo, I know you're worried about people viewing you as weak, but no one doubts your physical strengths," Dawn spoke calmly. "It's okay to show your emotions and not bottle them in, it won't negatively change how people view you."
"I don't DO emotions, Freakshow," Jo shot back. "Unless they're something like determination, perseverance, and being pissed off. Now quit talking out of your ass, and leave me alone."
Cameron, out of breath as he jogged to catch up, began walking alongside Dawn. "You heard her, Dawn, we should probably go."
"Bottling up your emotions aren't healthy," Dawn continued, ignoring Cameron and Jo's words. "For example, how would Brick ever know about your feelings if-"
Once again, Jo stopped in her tracks, and once again she got in Dawn's face. "Just what the heck are you implying about how I feel about Sir Leaks A Lot, because it damn well better not be what I think you're saying. He's just a wimp that's fun to beat, that's it."
"If that's the case and you're so sure that you're physically superior to him, then why not challenge the more physically gifted Lightning more often instead?" Dawn asked, making Jo go a bit wide eyed. "You continue to stay around Brick for a reason other than being physical rivals, it's all over your aura."
Jo growled again, rolling up a sleeve in a threatening way. Cameron tried to move Dawn away, but she was staying where she was and looking stoic.
"Brick feels the same way, Jo," she said, stopping Jo from winding up a punch and turning her glare into a look of surprise. "Why do you think he's so determined to prove himself to you and earn your approval? His aura tells the story clear as day, he likes you. Quite a lot, actually."
Jo lowered her fist and looked off in shock. She began to stammer to make a reply, but before she could, someone began approaching the group. As luck would have it, it was Brick, holding a green turkey leg in his hand and eating away.
"Hey there, soldiers," he said, oblivious to what had been said by the group moments before. He smirked at the jockette. "Jo. Not hazing the cadets too badly, are ya?"
It was then he noticed the surprisingly non-cocky or angry expression on her face. Instead it was a look of confusion and awkwardness. Brick quickly grew concerned and raised his unibrow. "You alright, Jo? You seem kind of out of it."
Jo's mouth was open, but she said nothing. She peeked over at Dawn, who still seemed calm as ever.
"Go ahead and tell him," she offered in her quiet peaceful tone. "I sense that only good can come of it."
Brick just looked even more perplexed. "Tell me what? You wanna have another race? Because I should warn you, I just did some serious packing back in the Mess Hall and I'm ready to go!" He paused, then looked back at the building. "Though you should probably eat first, too. No fair competing against you if you're doing it on an empty stomach."
Jo was hesitant. With a look of uncertainty she glanced at Brick, then at Dawn. The pale teen nodded and tried to encourage her with a warm smile. Jo sighed and looked back to the cadet.
"Can't believe I'm actually doing this," she mumbled to herself before looking Brick in the eyes. "Listen, Brick... this isn't easy for me to say, but... I... sorta kinda... like you."
Brick, looking more perplexed than ever, scratched his head in confusion. Then he smiled. "Well that's great to hear! I like ya too. Don't think us being friendly means I'll take it easy on ya when we're competing, though!"
Jo frowned and shook her head. "No, I mean I LIKE you," she tried to clarify. "You know, in the way where I'd want us to be spending time together?"
Brick continued to misunderstand the message. "Like, not in a competitive way? Sure! I'm fine with that. It'll be fun spending time with you as friends and not have to worry about getting beat by ya."
Jo's face started turning red, but a glare also started forming. "No," she grumbled. "Not as... friends."
This time, Brick's expression seemed to be a mix of confusion and hurt. "So, what, as enemies? But... I thought you said you liked me?"
Jo palmed her forehead and groaned in annoyance. "Holy crap, you're suck a freaking idiot." She pulled the cadet close to get in his face. "I mean like you as in ATTRACTED TO YOU, ya dummy! And you and I are going on a date, and that's an order. Got that?"
For a few moments, Brick just looked back at Jo in shock. He then shook himself back into reality and rubbed a finger into his ear. "Sorry, could you repeat that? Something crazy was going on with my ears and I thought I heard you say you wanted us to go on a date."
She let go of the cadet's shirt and stuck her hands into her hoodie pockets. Her face grew redder and she looked away awkwardly. "Yeah... I did say that."
Brick blinked. Then he blinked again. And again. He looked to Cameron. The nerd's mouth was agape and eyes were the size of dinner plates. He, too, blinked. Brick looked to Dawn, who was smiling brightly. He finally returned to Jo, who was still looking away. "Really?"
Jo sighed. "Yeah... really."
Now it was Brick's turn to go red in the face, though his was about the same shade as a tomato. A very large, very goofy grin formed from ear to ear and he seemed ready to let out a loud whoop, but tried to keep himself as calm as possible. "W-well, alrighty then! I'll be looking forward to it, sir!" He saluted, before realizing his slip up. "Er, I mean, mam. Sorry, I'm just so excite-" He noticed Jo raising an eyebrow and rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. "Uh, I mean, yeah. I-I'll see you then!"
Brick quickly jogged off before making himself seem any sillier, leaving Jo with just Cameron and Dawn once again. Cameron seemed frozen in his shocked expression, but Dawn approached the jockette with a smile.
"See? I told you only good things could come from sharing your feelings with him." She walked over to Cameron and closed his dropped jaw for him. "You can let your feelings out and still be the respected athlete you've put in the work to become."
Jo's expression was neutral until she looked ahead at Brick's retreating form. She smiled, but rolled her eyes and scoffed. "Yeah, well, all that namby pamby sharing stuff still isn't my cup of tea... buuuut I guess you do have a point." Jo gave the moonchild a firm pat on the back, accidentally knocking her over just as Brick's did for Cameron. "Thanks for the advice. But when the time comes, don't think I'll make it a double date or anything. You nerds will have to find your own dating spot. Anyway, see ya around."
Jo jogged off to finally go get herself something to eat from the Mess Hall. Dawn rubbed the spot she had been patted as she stood up, looking flustered. "That's the third person we've talked to in a row that's assumed we're some kind of couple," she mumbled to herself, blushing just as she did the other times. "Just what has gotten in to everybody?"
She looked to Cameron for an answer, but he was still too amazed from what he had witnessed earlier to be responsive. She waved a hand in front of his face, then snapped her fingers. "Cameron?"
The bubble boy finally blinked back into consciousness, immediately forming a huge grin and grabbing his head. "That. Was. Amazing!"
Sometime later, the two returned to the original spot they had met earlier in the forest. Dawn took her place on the stump she had been meditating on, with Cameron sitting next to her and finishing up his notes.
"Not only did you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your abilities are real, you were also able to keep calm and collected when Jo got aggressive, still being able to lead her on the path to admitting her feelings to Brick." He close his notepad and tucked it away in his hoodie pocket. "Dawn, you're amazing!"
The moonchild blushed harder than ever, giggling. "Thank you, Cameron. It was nothing, really. I could sense that having their true feelings for each other revealed would make the both of them happy, but their personalities would have prevented them from coming forward without any help. It was the right thing to do."
"Even still, it's easily the most miraculous thing I've been able to witness in person," Cameron continued. "It defies everything I've read on the subject, but the proof is clear as day!" A sudden thought occurred to him, making him chuckle. "Geez, they may as well give you the prize money now with the advantage you have."
She rolled her eyes playfully and waved a dismissive hand. "As I said, I have my limits and my ability only goes so far. I still can't read minds or anything like that. It's not that much of an advantage as far as the game goes, really."
"Perhaps." Cameron smiled. "Still, I can't get over how amazing all of this is. It has to be so cool living with a power like yours."
Dawn pouted a bit, then sighed. "Actually, it CAN be a bit of a bother. I'll sometimes come across people with clearly troubled auras, but when I try to help them they push me away and refuse to get the help they would need. It happens so often that it was part of the reason I was hesitant to try it today when you asked earlier. Or, even worse, I'll sometimes notice something amiss with Mother Nature, and I'm powerless to do anything about it. Like knowing that something bad will very well likely happen to this island. It's a bit depressing when you see something amiss that you can do nothing to help."
Cameron also frowned and placed a comforting hand on Dawn's shoulder. "Well when you put it that way, I can see how it's not all great." He then changed his frown into a smile. "But from what I observed today, I think you have good intentions and try your best, and that's what counts. You can't get caught up with what's out of your control since it isn't your fault."
The aura reader smiled back, pulling him in for a hug that seemed to take him off guard. "Thank you, Cameron. I appreciate that."
"N-no problem," he murmured, his cheeks turning a bright red as she broke the hug. He quickly averted his eyes forward, watching as the mutant animals scurried around peacefully. Dawn smiled and watched the creatures as well.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" She breathed in and sighed happily. "No matter the horrible situations they find themselves in, all of Mother Earth's creatures remain so gorgeous."
"It's definitely an oddly calming sight," Cameron replied, smiling as well. "Normally I'm worried about knowing which animals might try to kill me and which ones will try to maim me, but it seems oddly peaceful here."
"When you're at peace with nature, it'll be with peace with you too," Dawn explained mysteriously, sighing. "I'm afraid that Chris' constant meddling with the wildlife with his cruelty makes unrest among the critters a problem, but it's hardly their fault. It's him to blame for any of their hostility."
"How unfortunate." The intellectual young man sighed and flipped through the pages of his note pad. "Now I feel bad for wanting to take notes on them."
Dawn giggled and shook her head. "Don't be, there's no shame in wanting to expand one's knowledge, especially when it comes to nature. I actually admire just how thorough you seem to be and how big your desire to learn is."
Cameron smiled in appreciation, going back to watching the animals. Dawn, however, starting thinking over the events of the day. Not just what had happened with Jo, though, but also the fact that Scott, Brick, AND her all seemed to infer that her and Cameron were some kind of couple despite neither of them doing anything to imply that in the past. It was a strange coincidence that got Dawn thinking.
"Cameron?" she eventually asked, looking thoughtful.
"Yes?" he began to reply before turning his head into a sudden kiss from Dawn. His eyes went wide and glasses fogged up, but he made no attempts to break it. The two both enjoyed the short kiss before Dawn pulled away and quickly went back to starring at the animals, her face a deep red and even her eyes now wide. Cameron could only look at her in quiet shock, eventually clearing his throat.
"So, uh... not that I'm complaining, but where did that come from?"
Dawn's eyes darted around. "Um... well, there was something in your aura that suggested that your first kiss was going to be with a girl who cared nothing for you, so... I thought that maybe it would be good to prevent that."
Cameron adjusted his glass, wiping away the fog with a skeptical look on his face. "Really?"
The moonchild sighed and shook her head. "No, not necessarily. I mean, there is a tiny bit I can read in your aura that suggests it as a possibility, but there's countless things I can read in various auras with slight possibilities, most of which don't happen. Odds are it wouldn't have been true, either."
"I see." Cameron looked around awkwardly, not knowing how to properly react to what had just happened. He was smirking, but had raised eyebrows from the shock. "So... was there a reason or was that just a spur of the moment sort of thing?"
Dawn sighed and met Cameron's gaze. "I don't know, it's just what the others kept saying throughout the day. Not one, not two, but THREE of the others assumed that we were some sort of couple for some reason, completely out of the blue." She looked down. "It made me wonder if Mother Nature was trying to send me some sort of message. So I kept thinking and I DO think you seem like a very sweet person." She smiled and looked back up at him. "Despite valuing what you've learned from your education so much, you had an open mind for what I had to say and seem to have a very serious desire to expand your knowledge. Not to mention a respect for Mother Nature and all of her creatures."
Cameron took some time to process this. The compliments made him blush, and he couldn't hold back his grin. "Well, since you mention it, I think YOU'RE perhaps the most extraordinary person I've ever met. Your gift is so fascinating, and I'd love to keep listening to all the knowledge you've acquired through it and your love for nature." He chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. "And, well... you ARE really pretty, too."
Dawn giggled. "Well, you're quite the cutie yourself."
The two shared a laugh, eventually becoming silent again with their own smiles. Cameron twiddled his thumbs, looking up at the sky. "So, I guess if we both feel similarly on the subject... should we give dating a try as well?" Dawn looked at him, making him nervously sweat. "I-I mean, I know it must be kinda hard for two people to actually date here on the island since there's so little to do, but Jo and Brick are going to give it a try, Mike and Zoey and Sam and Dakota will probably get to it as well, and we could just come out here or something to spend time."
She smiled. "I think I'd like that."
The bubble boy was only barely able to contain himself, grinning from ear to ear while cheering inwardly. "C-cool! I guess it's official. So, uh, I guess I'll see you later, then." He started to get up, but was hesitating. "Uh, but first... I don't want to sound greedy or anything... but do you think we could-"
He was cut off by Dawn planting another kiss on him, smiling after she broke it. "Kiss one more time? Yes. I think we can."
Cameron giggled dreamily, a dopey grin plastered on his face as he walked off. "See you around," he called, Dawn waving goodbye before taking in a breath and getting into a meditation stance. She couldn't form the neutral expression she had during her earlier meditation, though, as the grin from the current events was still there and not going away any time soon.
Eventually, Cameron made his way back to his cabin, where Brick was already present and sorting through his luggage in an attempt to find nicer clothes appropriate for a date. He, too, still had one of those goofy grins. Mike eventually entered the cabin as well, quickly taking notice of the expressions of the other two roommates. "Hey, guys. You two look like you're having a good day."
"Affirmative," Brick responded, chuckling to himself. "A VERY good day."
"Indeed," Cameron added. He could have been using the opportunity of having Mike in the room with him to ask him questions on his curious personality situation, but right now Cameron didn't care. All that was on his mind was Dawn. What would they do for their first date? Should he try and wear something nice? Would Dawn even care? There was a lot to think about, and he also had to think over the day's events. Learning about Dawn's amazing power, getting a girlfriend, his first kiss. Things were moving fast for the nerd now that he was out of his bubble. And he was perfectly fine with that.