Markus threw the twigs onto the fire. This was pointless. A waste of time. Yes he wanted Meaghan back but she was gone. Dead. He had watched as she had told him she loved him and then stepped off the cliff edge. He loved her but it wasn't enough. She was tired of being who she was. Tired of being Death personified. Part of him didn't blame her but he loved her and she left him. He looked at Smith. "I'm going back."
Ten minutes later he was still sat there. Kurdy had left, deciding that he was tired of pretending he wasn't being bitten by mosquitoes. Still Markus sat there, throwing sticks into the fire. "How much longer?" he asked trying not to yawn.
Smith looked at him. "Just be patient. Who knows what the new day will bring?"
Finally Markus fell asleep unable to stay awake any longer, his arm folded underneath him as a pillow. A rosy hue touched the sky and a new dawn broke completely before he was woken by someone calling his name. He stirred, figuring he was dreaming as it sounded like Meaghan but she was dead. A finger stroked his cheek.
"Markus... it's time to wake up Markus."
His eyes flickered open. He blinked hard, twice. "Meaghan?" he said slowly.
Meaghan smiled and nodded. "It's me."
Markus propped himself up on one elbow shaking his head to clear it. "I don't understand..." He looked over at where Smith had been sitting but he was gone. The fire had died out over night and the ground was damp with dew. He raised a hand to touch Meaghan's. "Is it really you?"
Meaghan lifted his hand to touch her face. "It's really me," she told him. "Is this not what you wanted?"
Markus pulled her into his arms, holding her, taking in her scent. "I don't believe this," he whispered.
Meaghan held him tightly. "Believe it," she whispered. "I have waited so long to be able to do this. All those years behind the glass, watching you grow up. Listening to the sound of your voice, trying to help you as best I could. Fighting the urge to break the glass and hug you, even though I knew it would kill you."
Markus nodded. "On the cliff before you…" He paused, unable to say it.
"Jumped," Meaghan told him. "Before I jumped."
"I would have touched you, stopped you. I tried, I love you so much."
"And I love you." She took his face in both her hands, touching her forehead to his. "But now you can."
Markus nodded, suddenly feeling awkward, nervous. As if he were the gangly school boy who had just discovered an adult locked away in the deep recesses of the mountain. His hands paused, unsure of what to do.
She looked at him and took his hand placing it in hers. "Let's go for a walk," she said. "It's a pretty day."
He nodded. "It's a very pretty day." He got to his feet as she did and started walking through the forest. He was afraid to ask her to pinch him just in case this was a dream and she wasn't really there.
As they walked the sun rose higher and the day began to warm a little. Markus looked across at her. She was still wearing the long white dress she had worn when he had last seen her. "Part of me doesn't want to believe this," he said.
Meaghan smiled. "I am not a dream," she told him. "I'm here, alive and well and uninfected. I am everything you wished for."
He nodded. "I know it's just…"
She tilted her head. "What? Did your mother tell you to be careful what you wish for in case it came true?"
He looked at her. "What if I am dreaming?" he asked. "What if I wake and discover you are not really here. What if you are but I am infected and I bring the Big Death into the mountain and kill everyone. What if…"
"What if you stop asking questions and do what you have wanted to do for years?" she asked him. "What I have wanted to do for years?"
Markus stopped short and looked at her. "I…"
Meaghan took his face in her hands and brushed her lips against his. "There," she whispered. "Was that so bad?"
Markus looked at her and wrapped his arms round her securely, pulling her towards him. He cautiously kissed her, again feeling like a kid, all fingers and thumbs. His hands moved slowly over her back.
Meaghan moved against him, kissing him back. Finally she pulled back slightly. "You don't know how long I have wanted to do that," she said.
He smiled awkwardly at her. "Now what do we do?"
She ran a hand though his hair. "Now I would like a shower and dinner in the main hall with everyone else. I want to see your office and the rest of the base."
He nodded. "I can do that."
Meaghan smiled. "Good." She took hold of his hand again and they walked back to the mountain.
Markus slid his card into the door and opened it for her. He noticed the silence fall as they walked through the garage area and the way people initially drew back from them, so he slid an arm round her waist, pulling her close to him. If he wasn't scared of her they shouldn't be either.
They had dinner in the commissary. Sitting opposite each other the trays filled with a colourful array of food that neither of them paid much attention too, their eyes kept meeting, both in awe of the fact there was no glass between them.
Kurdy found them a candle which he and Smith seemed to find highly amusing. Even more so when Jeremiah found a flower which he shoved into a glass and stuck under Markus's nose. The three of them had huge smiles and sparkling eyes seeing their friend happy for the first time they could remember.
Markus looked at Meaghan and apologised.
"Don't," she said. "They are happy for us too."
After the meal he took her hand and gave her a tour of the base, starting with his office. Then he showed her the restrooms, sitting in the corridor waiting for her while she showered and changed. When she came out he looked at her. "Now where?" he asked.
"Show me where you sleep?" she asked.
Markus nodded and took her to his room which he hardly ever slept in. Normally he'd sleep on the pull out sofa in his office or in the main control room. He watched as Meaghan shut the door, sliding a chair underneath it. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"Something else I have waited fifteen years for Markus," she whispered moving over to him. "I love you."
"I love you too," he said taking her into his arms and kissing her. This was indeed the start of a new life for them both and it did feel good.