Mara and Berrigan headed back to his cell, Bracken had warned that being gone to long could raise suspicion. Though Mara doubted him, she and Berrigan were insignificant in the Sphinx's eyes. Mara remembered the way back perfectly, they made it back to Berrigan's cell with no interruptions.
"You are good," Berrigan commented as the couple approached the cell doorway,
"Thanks," Mara responded, not really knowing what to say.
"You were remarkable back there,"
"Oh, that was nothing, It was only a few right turns,"
"No I meant in the dream stone, you where amazing, without you we would have been lost in the maze forever, we also would have probably lost the key when that one room flooded too. You also rode a giant robot bull like a cowgirl. You are remarkable, if I could do things like that, I would brag, a lot." Mara felt the heat rising to her cheeks, none had ever complimented her like that in the all 25 years of her life.
"Don't push yourself down ether, you were great back there too, you worked hard, you helped us disable the water trap, you supported me when I tried to save Vincent, you fought bravely, and you are more capable than you think." Mara noticed that Berrigan was blushing now.
"Thanks, Mara," Mara had no idea what to say now, they stood in silence, but, it was a comfortable silence.
"Do you mind if I spend the night with you again? I don't think I can do the descent back to my cell." Mara asked timidly,
"I was just about to ask if you could stay again, you are really nice company," Berrigan said sweetly, Mara was blushing again, she wondered if Berrigan noticed.
"I wonder if Maddox will come around again." Berrigan wondered trying to change the subject.
"He seemed friendly, I bet we have not seen the last of him," Mara responded she didn't mind the turn of the conversation.
"I should have asked Bracken about him," Mara lamented, internally kicking herself for not questioning Bracken about their fellow inmate. Berrigan opened the door to his cell and gestured for Mara to go through first. Mara stepped through the doorway and Berrigan followed, his nightly meal had already been slipped through a slot in the door, the food in the dungeon was horrible, it resembled a salt lick made of hair, veins and raw meat. Mara had not touched any of her meals, she was starting to get hungry, but there was no way she was going to eat prison food, so she had tried to keep herself hydrated. Berrigan was eyeing the food warily.
"Have you actually eaten that?" Mara asked more of a statement than a question,
"You haven't?" Berrigan asked he seemed to be trying to avoid admitting it.
"You totally ate some," Mara stated.
"It was horrible, it is as hard as it looks and about eight times as gross." Berrigan cringed, Mara giggled at his reaction, Berrigan looked stunned, then absolutely starstruck,
"What?" Mara asked genuinely confused at his reaction,
"You have a really beautiful laugh, I like it," Berrigan confessed
"Thanks," Mara was starting to hate how awkward these situations made her feel. #############################
Mara had slept on the floor that night and against Berrigan's best arguments, Berrigan had gotten the cot. Mara had bundled up the mat that the food had been brought in on and fashioned herself a sort of flat pillow and slept on the floor next to Berrigan's cot, the night had passed quietly and uneventful, so far Mara guessed it was around midnight. She was not sleeping well, though she had never been able to peacefully sleep since her nightmares started after Lost Mesa had fallen. Mara lay on the floor, hands on her chest just staring at the ceiling waiting for her sleep to overtake her but it was not coming, so she just lay there thinking of the others, she was worried about them. Trask was basically family, and she was fond of the others as well. Berrigan started to snore slightly, had he really meant everything he had said earlier, as much as Mara wanted to doubt she had sensed sincerity in his every word, it was amazing, it was so sweet to just hear someone tell her how they felt about her, she had not gotten such a luxury often.
Berrigan rolled over and opened his eyes. He wished he knew what time of day it was, he would probably ask Mara later, she was good at knowing stuff like that. Berrigan looked over the edge of his cot and saw Mara; she was still fast asleep.
Berrigan sat up and ran his hand through his hair. Was he really stuck like this for the rest of his life, sneaking through dark tunnels and attempting to eat prison food? Berrigan had retained some hope of rescue, but that hope was quickly diminishing, the others had tried to rescue them, but they had gotten captured as well. He had not met any of the other knights that had not been at Obsidian waste. Was there any hope of being rescued or were they going to starve down here, In the dungeon of some manic who was trying to unleash demons and end the world?
Berrigan stretched, a burst of blinding agony ran across his back. He let out a cry pain that startled Mara awake, she jolted upright and was by Berrigan's side faster than he could register.
"Berrigan are you ok? What is wrong?" Mara questioned concern laced into her every word.
"It's my back, just give me a second." Berrigan grimaced, trying to keep control. The pain was lessening but it was still intense, it was blinding, some of the worst yet. Mara gently reached forward and caressed Berrigan's cheek, her hand was cool and soft, Berrigan leaned into her gentle touch. He heard her talking but did not process her words, the pain was starting to subside bit by bit. Berrigan was starting to understand Mara's words,
"Just breathe, deep breaths, there you go," her voice was gentle and reassuring, she was not panicked or rash just calm, her presence was comforting. Berrigan took deep breaths, his chest rising and falling slowly as he regained control of the situation. He still felt Mara's hand pressed into his cheek.
"Are you ok, Berrigan?" She asked, looking him in the eye,
"No?" Mara questioned
"No, we are in the dungeon of some manic, the world is about to end, and we are down here stuck, starving, injured and absolutely helpless. We aren't getting out of here, the others are trapped down here too. My family is gone my home is now infested with zombies, and I have no clue what to do now." Berrigan felt tears coming, he had wanted to say that for a while, Mara was silent
"You too huh?" She responded, her voice almost a whisper, Berrigan looked her in the eye, she had tears streaming down her face leaving shining streaks on her dark cheeks, her eyes were mirrors of his grief.
"What happened to yours?" Berrigan asked,
"The Sphinx, a dragon, zombies, and a viviblix made a plan that robbed me of everything, my dad survived but he has never been the same. "I was going to become caretaker of Lost Mesa before it fell," Mara disclosed, Berrigan had heard of Lost Mesa it was a secret preserve like Obsidian Waste, but he had not heard that it had fallen. Berrigan did not want to ask this but he did anyway,
"Does it ever stop hurting?"
"No, you just make room for it," Mara responded, grief deep into her voice. Berrigan's eyes were wide, she knew exactly what he was going through. It was comforting and heartbreaking all at once, she was just like him. Alone, scared, unsure, Berrigan was glad that of all the people in the world to be imprisoned with that he had Mara.