Graves jogged to a halt, put his hands behind his head and breathed in cool, welcome air. Nat was leaning against a nearby tree, taking gulps from a bottle of water. She waved.
“Not bad for an old man,” she said.
Graves laughed. “Thanks. Good pace.”
“Where’re the others?” she asked, offering the bottle.
Graves took the water and poured a little over his head. “Mags was not far behind me. Not sure about Deck.” He looked over his shoulder and saw Mags trotting towards the tree, a big grin adorning a red face.
She stopped, laughed, then leant over and put her hands on her knees. “Good,” she said. “Loved it when you surprised the dog,” waggling her finger at Graves, “very funny.”
Nat stood up and beckoned to the other two. “Deck must be having a hard time,” she said. “Let’s go and find him.” The others nodded.
They walked slowly back along the path. A few minutes later they caught sight their friend. He was jogging slowly towards them, face screwed up in pain, hand clutching his side. He waved, too short of breath.
They formed a line either side of him, and began to jog, matching his pace.
“Look at you sporty people,” he gasped. “What am I doing?”
“You’re becoming one of us,” said Graves.
“You’re pushing your limits,” said Nat.
“You’re making us proud,” said Mags.
They arrived at the tree. Deck hugged it and laughed. The others splashed water over him.
“I love you guys,” he said.