I stared at the plain white tiles on the wall of the tiny, uncomfortable cell. The one that had a yellow-tinged corner had 43 cracks running through it. The one next to it was newer and only had one. There were 126 tiles on that wall all together. I had been in here for four days and I had counted the tiles on the walls. I, Rose Hathaway had counted tiles to pass time. What was the world coming too? But I guess it was a whole lot better than listening to Guardian-taps-a-lot. The same guardian had been drumming his fingers on a desk, almost non-stop and it was driving me mad. Literally. I moved onto the floor tiles, studiously ignoring him. See? The world is ending, I just thought the word studiously.
A scraping noise alerted me to the arrival of my 'dinner'. I snorted and pushed it back to him just like every other time. Crusty bread, stale water and yellowing soup that may or may not be poisoned. The guardian sighed in frustration and left, stomping back up the stairs. I sat back down and started counting again, only stopping when a new sound interrupted. Crinkling. Rustling. A brown paper bag was shoved under the gap but I didn't dare touch it, suspiciously staring at the all too familiar cursive writing 'Roza', the same writing that haunted me after I came back from Russia. Dimitri. I picked it up, shocking both guardians and myself. I opened it and decided that I would die right there.
A chocolate glazed doughnut. A perfectly round doughnut with thick chocolate icing dripping off the sides and just calling my name. I pulled it out and sunk my teeth into it, a moan almost escaping my lips. Food was soooo good. The guards chuckled and the one that always tried to persuade me to eat shook his head, smiling, relief clear on his face. I finished it in two seconds flat and sat back on the concrete slab they dared to call a bed. How on earth did Dimitri manage. I sighed sadly. Dimitri, my one and only love. "Love fades, mine has." How could he? He idolises Lissa yet I am the one who came up with how to save him. I gave up everything for him and I am avoided like the plague. But that's fine. He can go off and pretend what we had never happened and I would do the same.
The earpiece crackled and the guards sat up straighter, listening intently, they gave me a smile and grunted an affirmative into the speaker. The one I came to know as Bob got up with a pen and paper. I wonder what his real name is...eee
"Ok, Rose, you're allowed to have a visitor a day. But, you have the right to choose who can come down, is there anyone you don't want to see?" He held the pen like he knew I wouldn't say no to anyone. But he was wrong, I didn't want any of my friends to see me, I didn't want anyone down here. I nodded and swallowed before I continued, knowing how crushed Lissa would be.
"I don't want Janine Hathaway, Alberta Petrov, Tasha Ozera, Princess Dragomir, Adrian Ishakov, Mia Rinaldi or Dimitri Belikov. Only Edward Castile and Christian Ozera can come down." I knew Christian would never come without Lissa and that Eddie was so mad at me right now it wouldn't matter, he would rather I was dead. The guardian nodded, hiding his surprise and I sat back down. I slipped into Lissa's head for the first time in days and looked around. Lissa was laying next to Christian, still feeling hopeless and like crying but, oh god… she and him had just had.. oh god.. she was naked. I pulled out of her head quickly and shook it, trying to clear it. I snorted in disgust, earning a weird look from Bob.
I leant back, thinking of all my friends. I had to protect them. Not only would it hurt them to see me like this, it would taint their reputations, ones that needed to be builded back up. Shouting pulled me out of my reverie and I focused on the noise. It was a very upset Lissa…
"What do you MEAN she doesn't want me down there? She is my BEST FRIEND!" It stopped for a while, where I assumed the guards got a word in and then she started again. This time it was indistinct, fading away until I knew she had left. I opened myself up to her mind and she was pacing in her room. Christian and Adrian were sitting on her bed, watching with worried eyes, Dimitri was leaning against the wall, glaring hard at the ground. 'If looks could kill…' came to mind but she kept on pacing. Betrayal and anger was bubbling up under the surface, the spirit darkness creeping in. Adrian was looking at us intently. I focused on the darkness consuming her and felt it trickling away into me. Adrian spoke suddenly.
"Rose is here." Everyone looked at him confused and he rolled his eyes as if their slowness caused him physical pain. "Rose is in Lissa's head. Her aura flickered and then got slightly darker, but all the spirit darkness just vanished, Rose is taking it for you and keeping watch." He smiled ruefully at Lissa, looking through her like he could see me. In some ways, I guess he could. Lissa's gaze turned to Dimitri, he was staring at us with a look of desperation, longing in his eyes. Probably because he wanted to protect her from me, I'm just that dangerous now...
Rose, I can feel your here. I don't know how, but I can. Dimitri still loves you, I love you. We'll get you out of there soon. I promise.
Lissa was trying so hard... I reluctantly pulled out of her head, coming back to my not so attractive reality. The guards were still silent, Bob tapping away at the table. I sighed heavily and started counting the tiles on the ceiling, wondering if there was the same amount as the floor. I was literally being driven out of my mind. I curled up and tried going to sleep, eventually, it came to me. But tonight, Adrian didn't appear, his resigned acceptance of how I still loved Dimitri more than I could love him. It made me feel so bad, yet he didn't give up.
I was giving up, I could feel it. I had banished all notions of visitors after Lissa disguised herself as Christian to see me. Now only Abe and the guardians stuck down here could talk to me. Even then Abe was hardly here, he had been down twice in the past three months, he had given up on me too. I was dealing with the stress of being trapped, the darkness from Lissa and then her worry about me, Dimitri and everything else. I felt myself being sucked into her head and worry increased tenfold. Damn, that was interrupting counting the dust motes.
" I'm sorry I am intruding princess, we need your help" it was Bob, ahh, what was he doing? He was in her room, Adrian, Christian and Dimitri standing or sitting around her. She nodded, what could possibly be wrong now? "Rose hasn't been eating. Or moving for that matter. All she does is sit on the damn bed and count tiles, or the cracks in the tiles. The last thing she ate properly was the chocolate doughnut he sent down in week number one... also, she hasn't slept well, she screams, cries, a lot of the time she ends up on the floor. We believe that she is innocent and we want to help her, but we just don't know how." his speech was cut off short by Dimitri standing up suddenly and looking like he was about to explode, hey, Bob told Lissa about me, if he ever comes in my cell I will be guilty of murder. Dimitri started pacing until I saw the control he held so tightly on to slip away.
"That. Was. 3. months. Ago. The last thing she ate was THREEE MONTHS ago? This is all my fault! I shouldn't have stopped fighting when they came to take her, I shouldn't have kept pushing her away! My Roza... that cell... her spirit is too wild and strong to be caged! No Roza... my.. Roza..." his outburst had everyone speechless, he sank to his knees, hands clutching his hair. He turned tortured eyes back to Bob and seemed to be grasping for the right words. "What has she been saying? When she is sleeping, what does she say?" Lissa's curiousity picked up, she didn't know what frightened me, I always hid it, keeping strong for her. Now she had her chance.
"Well, usually it's something about 'fades, mine has', then how it's her fault, she is the reason he's dead. But when she really screams she mentions strigoi and that she did it, no one else." Bob looked uncomfortable and wouldn't look Dimitri in the eyes, even Lissa knew he was keeping something back. Dimitri looked like he was being burned alive, Lissa's maternal instinct for him flaring up in me as well. Dimitri stood, towering above him now, making even me shrink back slightly.
"What else does she say." Lissa was imagining me, looking weak and screaming, something she rarely ever saw, she didn't think it was possible. Dimitri was looking at dear old Bob, something flaring up in his eyes.
"She... mentions you. A lot...Look, I don't want to get her in trouble, all I know is that she calls for you, Dimitri, calls for you and screams when you never come." Bob's eyes sparked with protectiveness and Lissa felt my own anger with hers. She gasped and fell to the floor, Christian only just managing to catch her. I felt her thoughts rushing, all about me, I had breached the wall, she could sense me and my emotions.
"I.. can feel.. Rose.. I'm in her head..." She managed to gasp that out before I took all the darkness away and put up my walls, leaving her head. I was panting and I realiseed that I was in a cold sweat. Guardian Tailar was standing watch. I stretched out my cramped legs and stood, wobbling from dizzyness. I managed to stagger over to the bars and I tried to find my voice. Tailar looked at me with pity and hope in his eyes.
"Guardian Tailar, can I have a shower?" my voice sounded so croaky and quiet I'm surprised he even heard. He unlocked the door and pushed me down the hall, I was too weak to walk far let alone escape. The showers weren't half bad and I knew I was pretty gross. He handed me my own shampoo and conditioner, Abe had fought so I could have new clothes and toiletries. I stripped down, stepping under the hot water and sighing in relief. Once I felt clean again I dragged a brush through the tangled mess that was my hair and dressed. Guardian Tailar and Bob was there. I looked at Bob for a moment, considering.
"Bob... what's your real name?" He chuckled and lead me back to my cell, locking the door after me.
"My name is Daniel, Daniel Briarse." I nodded and returned to the concrete bed.