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The last thing Liam could recall was– crying himself to sleep. Though, the darkness he was shrouded in revealed that it was not yet morning. Ugh. Why was he awake? He didn't really feel like lying there with his thoughts again. Liam had plenty of experience with sleeping problems ever since the beginning of ONE. Insomnia, anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks– you name it– kept Liam up at night.

Liam rolled over, staring into black. The only thing that wasn't cloaked in the dark seemed to be a tiny sliver of moonlight angled at the opposing end of the cabin. 

Liam could feel the reeds on his cloth-like flesh– it itches. 

He needed a distraction. Just something to keep his mind away from remembering every little mistake he's made leading up to this moment. Liam looked around, making out Airy's wooden stool and table with what little light he had. There… wasn't much in here. Unsurprising. Nonono– how was he supposed to distract himself now? There's absolutely nothing else to look at, sense, or even think of! Liam found that even thinking happy thoughts drove him to panic. 

Liam rolled back the other way, facing towards the wooden wall. He felt stupid. Maybe he shouldn't have done this. Perhaps it was a mistake. Maybe if they just played the stupid contest the way it was supposed to be played, everybody would be out of this mess. But NOOOO, Liam had to dig himself deeper in the ditch. He had to be curious. He had to be the hero, yet he's lost every bit of evidence leading up to this point. Would he even be able to get home at this point? What if he's stuck in this world with Airy forever? Liam hitched his breath, squeezing his eyes shut and forcing himself to hold in sobs. He wants his life to be normal again. He wants to wake up knowing everything is okay, that his friends aren't trapped in a crazy competition and that he can go to work and see all of his coworkers. He wants to know everything is safe– Liam doesn't know if he'll feel secure again. 

He ruined everything—Airy ruined everything. His whole perfect life just– down the goddamn drain. He misses normality. He misses work. He misses Owen, wishing he could just jump into his arms and sob endlessly to him. Ever since Bryce disappeared, his vigor for ending ONE turned more into aching loneliness and worry—worried he wouldn't be able to do this alone. He misses not feeling so dreadfully alone. Abandoned, even.

He hopes that wherever Bryce is, he's alright.

"Uhh…" 

Liam froze. 

"Oh… uh– you're awake. Um. I have something for you…"

Liam sniffled, sitting up. He shifted his position towards the source of the voice. Airy was peeking into the doorframe, watching Liam with his typical deadpan expression. Who else would it be? Was Liam really hoping that it would be anybody else? He really didn't feel like dealing with Airy. Yet he also didn't feel like dealing with his self-deprecating thoughts. It was either one or the other, though Liam didn't know if he really had a choice.

"Um–"

Liam didn't speak, only gesturing for Airy to enter. Might as well get it over with. Airy entered the wooden structure, stepping towards Liam and sitting cross-legged in front of him. Liam scooted back a bit, his shoulders tensing. It seems Airy wasn't too knowledgeable on personal space. 

"I got you some berries," said Airy.

"Berries?" It wasn't only until he was reminded of food that he could feel his stomach growling and caving in on him. It's been a while since he's eaten. 

"Yeah," mumbled Airy, pushing a small basket of red berries towards the backpack. "I heard you crying again. So I thought… I'd… get you something." 

Liam noted that the moon must have shifted. It seems the light was now illuminating both of them. 

Liam ignored the comment about him crying. He was already embarrassed about crying in front of Airy at the waterfall. He swears he's cried more in the past seven months than he has in over a decade. "What… kind of berries are these?" Liam squinted at the fruit. "Are these poisonous?" 

"Uuuh, no… why would they be? Um. They're my favorite…"

"If they're not poisonous, then eat one," said Liam, not believing the words off Airy's lips. 

"...I still don't know why you think I want to kill you. Couldn't you come right back anyway? With the radio?" Airy took a berry and popped it into his mouth.

Liam stared at Airy as he chewed. "No, actually. I lost the notes that allowed me to come here after tripping into the water. Don't you remember?" Liam finally took one of the berries, frowning at that memory. Just as Liam was about to begin mulling over his mistakes, the sweet taste of whatever sort of berry this was hit him. In fact, it was… extremely sweet. A saccharine flavor that took him back to a time long ago. Regardless, it was not exactly Liam's cup of tea, but it wasn't horrible. He could manage to eat this. (And also, Liam would eat just about anything right now). 

"You said these are your favorite?" Liam asked in doubt. Liam didn't expect Airy to be a sweet tooth. He'd assumed Airy to be more of a bitter or plain kind. To match his personality.

"Yeah."

Liam continued to eat. Quietly. The way Airy just sort of stared at him was making him a little uncomfortable. Did this guy seriously have zero concept of manners? Social cues? Liam fidgeted with his pocket. "Can you… look the other way?"

"I don't… really want to."

Liam scoffed, shifting his body so at least he didn't have to see Airy staring at him. "I really don't understand you. At all." Liam shook his head. 

"Oh…"

"No matter how hard I try, Airy– I just– don't. I don't even think you know. Do you?"

"Um. I don't… know."

"Why do you want to stare at me so bad?"

"I haven't really seen another object up close in a while. Sorry."

Okay, so Airy was lonely. Nothing new. Though it was weird. After being alone for over a decade, Liam would think Airy would react much more… joyful? Surprised? But Airy had just responded so casually at their first meeting. Like Liam was his coworker or something. This was the first time Airy seemed to show any sort of outcome due to his isolation. Perhaps Liam just thought the wrong way. Maybe Airy was experiencing some emotion and was just bad at expressing it. Airy seemed to be about twenty or thirty years old. Being isolated for almost half your life would be enough to dampen one's social skills.

Liam really needed to quit psychoanalyzing this guy. He's really always so caught up in the why for every little thing, huh?

"Um, so, Airy? Do you… want to go back to earth? Like, If you could?" Liam could feel his stomach starting to show him mercy.

"Um. I don't… know. I got used to everything here. Maybe not. I… don't remember a lot from earth, actually. I just remember not being satisfied. It's different here. I… like hosting ONE, but sometimes I wish I had someone up close, but– now you're here. So I think I'm okay."

Liam cocked an eyebrow. Did Airy consider him as a friend of some sort? Despite Liam literally screaming at him and threatening to destroy his computer? Liam certainly didn't think of Airy as a friend. Liam wanted Airy dead. Liam hasn't killed yet him because he needed to get his friends out of The Plane. Though part of Liam thought: is killing him really the answer? Would Airy simply come back here after dying? Airy said he would send everybody back, and it would be over, right? And Airy didn't quite seem like… a villain. Airy didn't seem evil, yet he didn't seem like he had good intentions either. Airy's thought process was an entire, jumbled-up mystery where nothing lined up no matter how hard you tried to piece it together. Like a shattered vase with half the fragments swept under the rug. And Airy's amnesia didn't help that either—certainly not—because that meant Airy probably doesn't know himself anyway. 

Liam felt something graze his knee. He flinched, backing away in horror. He stared at Airy, who actually showed an apologetic expression. 

"Sorry. You were quiet for so long. My urges got the best of me." 

"Urges?"

"Uh, yeah. I haven't really felt touch from another person. In a while."

Liam's natural instinct was to be sympathetic, but– this was Airy he was thinking about. The man who stabbed a baby with a pole. Who KILLED him. Is he supposed to just throw that all behind him? Because that's what it seems like Airy is doing. Looking at Airy from the perspective he's gained so far makes it seem like Airy doesn't know he's doing anything wrong at all. But Liam just didn't know how that was possible when he literally ignored their cries to send them home. 

"Listen, Airy, I'll let you um– touch me if you can actually answer some of these questions I have. No 'I don't know' or whatnot." Liam set the basket of berries aside.

"Okay. I'll try." 

Wow, thought Liam, who didn't think that would work. "First of all, why do you ignore us screaming at you to send us home?" 

"Uhm. I don't– well. You guys were screaming?" 

"Yes. Literally like. Half of the time I've spent on The Plane was spent screaming.

"Oh. Guess I wasn't paying attention good enough…"

"But you knew we wanted out! Why couldn't you just replace us with somebody who wants to do this?"

"You guys are really good contestants."

"Does our suffering not bother you?"

"Um. I thought you'd… get used to it."

"Get used to it?" Liam repeated back in a harsher tone.

"Yeeeah."

"You… really don't think about how much we were suffering?"

Airy went quiet, scrunching his face up in frustration. Liam waited impatiently, and it seemed time dragged on as Airy thought.

"Forget it." Liam sighed, realizing he'd turned this into another meaningless interrogation. If Airy didn't know, then Airy didn't know. Airy's morals and logic were flawed and tainted, and his memory was out of shape. That's all Liam absorbed from this. He's gained nothing new.

Airy approached Liam, reaching his hands out, but Liam pushed his arm forth and stopped the lantern. "Airy, you can't just give me no warning. And usually, when you go to touch someone, you need to ask." At this point, Liam was starting to feel like a parent—having to teach Airy common sense and basic boundaries.

"Oh. Can I do it now?" 

"Yes, Airy," said Liam, not particularly amused.

When Liam retracted his hand Airy rejoiced. Airy walked on his knees, slowly inching his way forward until he and Liam were only inches apart. Liam tensed up. Now that Airy was all up in his face this bribe seemed worse than initially anticipated. Airy opened his arms, awkwardly pushing himself against Liam and wrapping his arms around him. 

Liam hesitated, contemplating it for a moment, but hugged Airy back. Liam could feel Airy's shoulders relax and instinctively pulled the lantern in more. He never thought in his several months of torment on The Plane that he'd be hugging his captor, but– It wasn't as bad as he thought. 

Liam could feel something wet against his skin, almost like… Airy was crying. Airy was crying, but Liam didn't mention it. Part of him thought that he should be happy that Airy was finally showing signs of suffering, but… Liam didn't feel that way. Liam felt himself relax. Eventually, he found himself rubbing Airy's back in some sort of… comforting manner. 

Airy didn't behave like a villain. Airy behaved like… just some guy. He had feelings, urges, pent-up anger, sadness, and loneliness. For once, Liam didn't view Airy as malicious; rather, he recognized the misunderstood half of the other object. 

Airy pulled away, smiling, evident stains of water on his glass. Though Airy never made eye contact, choosing to stare at the ground instead. 

"Thanks," said Airy, his slight smile now faded. "I'm… going to bed now." The lantern stood up, making his way over to the much larger, reed bed. Only then did Liam notice that he hadn't slept in an actual bed in a long, long time.

"Thanks for the berries," said Liam.

Airy didn't respond, only shuffling about to find a comfortable position. It seemed he struggled to lie down with that big lid on his head.  

Liam turned in the other direction, lying down. The moon had shifted, leaving him back in the dark.

Liam fell asleep without struggle, hoping this mystery would be resolved by daylight.