At two massive makeshift camps that have been their home for six chaotic weeks, supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy hunkered down Monday -- and waited.
With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan over, could the fierce crackdown that the government has hinted at come any minute?
Media reports indicated security forces may start breaking up the camps Monday. They did not.
"We hope that negotiations can end the situation peacefully. We hope that not a single drop of Egyptian blood is spilled," Abdel Fattah Othman, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told Al Tahrir TV on Monday.
He said the ministry has a plan, resources are ready and troops are prepared to take action once the appropriate political and security clearances are given.
When asked if a decision had been made to act, Othman said the decision must be made based on events on the ground and stressed the decision is not just about security -- but also about politics.
One day earlier, an unnamed ministry official said that all options were on the table, according to the state-run Ahram Online news site.
The official added that security forces have amped up their presence recently near the sites: one near the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo, and a smaller one near the Cairo University campus.
The camps, packed with protesters refusing to budge until Morsy is reinstated, have morphed into cities within a city.
But far from being reinstated, Morsy will be detained for an extra 15 days, Ahram Online reported Monday. The Egyptian Justice Department ordered the extension as it investigates, the news outlet said.
Egyptian media also reported that 27 governors and 11 deputies will take a constitutional oath Tuesday before Interim President Adly Mansour, according to Mansour's spokesman.
Back at the camps, thousands throng, living and sleeping in tents -- some with their families.
Vendors sell everything from bottled water to masks. Children play in inflatable castles and splash in kiddie pools.
The government have accused the protesters of packing the sites with their children to use them as human shields.
"We are living here," a woman named Ranya said. "We cannot leave our children and come here. We have to bring them with us."
The protesters say they're ready and have vowed to put up a fight.
"The youngest child among us will be a lion against them," said a protester named Haneen. "They want to come in; they're welcome. What makes them so frustrated is that we are peaceful."
Anticipating an imminent crackdown, the demonstrators have fortified their sites with sandbags, tires and stacks of bricks.
Volunteers pat down visitors and check bags.
The government has authorized security forces to take "all necessary measures to face these dangers and end them."
Occasionally, a military helicopter flies by overhead.
The sites are clearly the focal point of this political fight. And how the interim government responds will be a defining moment in this complex standoff.
The protests started soon after Egypt's military toppled Morsy in a coup last month.
Hundreds have been killed and thousands have been injured in recent weeks, either in clashes between opposing protesters or in clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces.