Sunday Snippet – Superhero, Mark and Zora, Post-Abby

Another scene I unearthed from Superhero. I didn’t realize that I had invoked Zora from the past until she emerged in RSA, though the Zora Scott from RSA is supposed to be based on the character I used in Turnabout, a collaboration with another fanfic writer on an Orlando Bloom message board. (Go ahead and laugh. I deserve it.) This Zora is supposed to resemble Felice from Midnight Moon, but without some of her… idiosyncrasies. (I won’t spoil the surprise for you.)
Maybe I love the name Zora. And who better to try out favored monikers than on characters?
__________________________

There are times when I find
You wanna keep yourself from me
When I don’t have the strength
I’m just a mirror of what I see

When Mark awoke again, the room was dim.

The drapes on the window were drawn, so it could have been night or day. He could not be sure. Time had slipped by him, slipped by them, without notice and now they could not get it back. How ironic that it had been happening for a long time, and it took a tragedy for him to notice.

Reality seeped into his thoughts. He felt the pain of his broken body as he remembered flashes of the events that led up to that moment, and all of a sudden, he wished he could forget it all. If he couldn’t go back, he opted to just forget it all. It seemed a small mercy for having to deal with the remainder of his life without the woman he loved.

“Abby,” he whispered, awash with sorrow. The trembling began then, and the tears clouded his already blurry vision.

A soft sniffle startled him out of his moment of melancholy.

Her brown eyes shining like orbs watched him closely, as if he were a fascinating display of a form of human life she had never seen before. They peered at him from over her knees that were covered in soft gray fleece pajama pants, and he could not see the bottom half of her face. But it slowly came back to him as she gazed at him unwaveringly, along with the memory of her cries…

She watched as he tried to shift himself into a better position and winced. He griited his teeth together as he bore the pain. Moisture swam in his eyes, and then…

There was a light touch on his trembling leg, not enough pressure to harm but enough to notice. Through the thin blanket he could feel the warmth. Blinking rapidly and trying to control his short breaths, he wondered what touched his leg.

It was the little girl’s hand.

“Don’t cry,” she whispered. “It’ll all be alright.”

He blinked hard, once, then stared at her incredulously. The nurse who was there when he had awoken for the first time since the accident had told him that the little girl had not spoken to anyone, and here she was (having snuck into his hosptial room no less) reassuring him as if he had woken from a nightmare.

In a way, he had– a living nightmare that could not be changed with all the wishing in the world. And that made him want to burst into tears all over again.

He swallowed the lump he had in his throat and focused on the little girl. He forced his mind to operate on more practical terms for the situation at hand. After all, didn’t she have parents? A brother? A sister? Someone who worried about her while she sat here with her knees to her chest looking curious and scared all at the same time?

“I was scared,” she went on, simply, answering his unspoken question.

Mark’s lips twitched in a movement that could have been taken as a smile or a grimace. The fact that she had no one to comfort her at this time of upheaval in her fragile existence grieved him greatly. However, he could not help be warmed slightly that she felt his presence would chase away apprehension. She barely knew him and here she was…

“So you thought that I could keep you company,” Mark commented, voice strained.

She merely blinked at him, saying nothing. He supposed that was a yes.

He chucked sardonically, an effort that made his chest hurt. “I’m not sure I can help you with that, kid. I’ve got enough shadows of my own.”

Her eyebrows came together in a frown. “Is that why you were crying?”

He had the overwhelming urge to take up a shield, as if he were more vulnerable than he wanted to be. “That is none of your business.”

The way her face shifted implied that she was pouting. “You can’t send me back. I won’t go.”

“Wait.” Mark leaned over, ignoring the pain, and grabbed the little girl’s arm lightly. “I’m sorry. I…” They locked eyes, one watery gaze to another. “I didn’t mean to yell at you. I…”

“Somebody died and you didn’t want them to,” she said in such a way that made his blood freeze. “That’s what the nurse lady said.”

“Tell me your name,” Mark murmured. “They never told me your name.”

“My mama named me Zora,” she told him. “What did your mama name you?”

“My mother named me Mark after her own father.” He placed his bigger, lighter hand on hers, taking note of the flicker in her eyes when he did it. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Zora.”

In a movement that shocked him a little, she placed her free hand on his.

“Likewise.”

He was to learn soon that being shocked by Zora was to be a mundane, habitual event.

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Sunday Snippet – Superhero, Mark and Abby II

The story of Mark and Abby is probably one I will tell someday, and probably because of this scene. In my head, I can see Michael Vartan and Trini Alvarado all dolled up for this exchange. (Yeah, I know–a pipe dream for sure!) I think Mark Perry might make an appearance in Midnight Moon; I haven’t decided yet. But this scene chokes me up a little, knowing what is going to happen, with “Everytime” playing in the background.

__________________

Notice me
Take my hand
Why are we strangers when
Our love is strong?
Why carry on without me?

PRELUDE
in the dark of night

The light of the world was dim that night. The aforementioned world around was drenched in the wet darkness, and while the streetlights lighted their way as they returned home in stony silence, the blackness prevailed on the edges where the shadows lurked.

The sound of the engine working was the only sound between them. The volume on the radio was turned down to an indecipherable jumble; the silence that filled the car was the outcome of many nights of neglect, miscommunication, and senseless shouting. He could sense her frustration radiating from her like body heat, mingling with the bittersweet scent of her perfume. Memories clouded his head like a shroud; he wanted nothing more than to be back in the past where acrimony was a dim, fuzzy iceberg in the far, far away future that could not hurt them.

She on the other hand felt the pressing weight of responsibility on her shoulders. She was more practical about some things than her overwrought and slightly romantic husband. She had felt the end of things coming on for so long but for different reasons. As she stared at the road passing beneath them, she only felt sorrow she could not pinpoint the cause of. The frustration he’d felt coming off of her had faded away.

With a flustered sigh, he spoke first. Even though he had a reputation for waiting out even the most stubborn criminals, he could not do the same with his wife.

“I’m sorry for being late, Abby,” he said in a voice that belied his statement slightly. “The interrogation ran late and–”

In an even tone that hinted at years of upper-class training, Abby merely said, “You don’t have to apologize. After all, it is your job, right? And lord forbid I resent you for doing your job, Mark.”

Mark sighed and resisted the urge to rip the steering wheel from the console. All of their conversations on the subject of Mark’s demanding workload started off this way, with him apologizing (but not really) and her telling him not to apologize (but again not really). And it was even worse on nights like this when Mark unwittingly embarrassed his wife with his tardiness, where duty for occupation or spouse fought for precedence inside of him.

“Every time,” Mark found himself saying. “Every time I apologize you talk to me in that tone–”

“What tone, Mark?” Abby demanded. “I’m sorry that my frustration over the fact that it is apparent that care about serving justice more than you care about me bleeds through whenever you offer up some half-assed apology. I really am.”

“That was not a half-assed apology.” Soft fabric rustled as Abby shifted under the seatbelt right next to him. She didn’t seem convinced. Mark exhaled and forced the anger that was threatening to take him over to a safe distance. As the light over them turned red, Mark tapped the brakes. He placed a hand on his wife’s, and their eyes locked involuntarily.

“Abigail,” Mark began, as his anger had dispersed and affection surfaced. Abby’s green eyes softened and her hand shifted to be palm to palm with his.

Her mouth parted, but he would never know what she intended to say. Right at the moment, the light turned green–and the car behind them, overzealous, smashed into their rear bumper. The force propelled them forward into the intersection. Inside the car, Mark cursed inwardly but turned to his wife.

“Are you okay?” Mark inquired. Abby dazedly blinked at him. “It’s going to be–”

Headlights from Abby’s side flashed toward them. Her panicked scream would torment him for the rest of his days.

Sunday Snippet – Superhero (Mark and Abby)

Four years ago, around the time Alias entered my life (bringing Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner in as well :D), I started making plans to write this story called Superhero. The tale centered around Mark Perry, a detective who loses his wife at the beginning to a tragic car accident, and Zora, the little girl he meets while in the hospital. At the end of his stay, he decides to take Zora in until her parents are found or someone adopts her. He eventually adopts her himself. Several years after Abby dies, Mark takes on an investigation that leads back to his and Zora’s pasts.

Maybe someday I will pick it back up–or integrate it into my other works.

Michael Vartan for Mark Perry! Tee hee.

________

He knew that he loved her from the moment he’d laid eyes on her.

He had been in uniform then, fresh out of the academy, working his way up through the ranks. This stint in the throes of the Traffic division was temporary and thankfully so; he was bored stiff with the prospect of signing speeding tickets for the rest of his life. He knew, much like most of his fellow graduates from the academy, that Homicide or  Vice were more coveted than Traffic. He planned to make his reputation in Homicide, and usually what Mark Jameson Perry set out to do, he accomplished.

But that day, he was thankful that he had the chance to cross her path.

It was a hazy, hot day, the sort of day that bred madness and mischief. Already he had stopped several reckless joyriders who thought that the weather was ample reason to speed through posted speed limits, and most of them were barely legal.

It was around two p.m. when a red Porsche Boxster came breezing past him going ninety in a seventy-mile-an-hour zone. He rolled his eyes, trying to squash his exasperation. After glancing behind him to make sure that no one was on the road behind him, he zoomed back out onto the highway with his lights flashing and his siren blasting.

Other drivers obediently moved out of his way as the Boxster wove itself through the light traffic so it wasn’t long before he’d caught up with the bullet on wheels. From his vantage point, he could ascertain that the driver was male, and he was accompanied by a dark-haired female. A dark-haired female it seemed, from here, who was quite exasperated with his love for speed. She glanced behind them and saw Mark following. She shoved him and made him swerve. Luckily there was no one around them except for the police cruiser so it caused no damage.

When the Boxster was safely on the side of the road, Mark pulled up a couple of yards behind it and cut his own engine. He got out of the car with his ticket-writing pad securely in his pocket.

The driver of the cherry-red Porsche was a young man who didn’t look any older than seventeen. His long hair was a dark blond, and his jeans were designer. There was a bit of an insolent twinkle in his blue eyes that put Mark’s hackles up.

He opened his mouth to speak, but then his eyes shifted upward. And found her.

She had curly dark-brown hair pulled back from her pale, heart-shaped face. Her full mouth was painted a rosy shade of crimson underneath an aristocratic, up-turned nose. Her slate-green eyes were apologetic as she stared at him anxiously. Unlike her male counterpart, which seemed to be a close relative after a further look, she was contrite and afraid of his presence.

“Is there a problem, Officer?”

The disrespectful voice broke through his reverie. His eyes drifted back to the pair of blue eyes staring impertinently at him. “Yes, there is a problem. Can I see your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, please?”

Saying nothing, the guy leaned over and opened the glove compartment. He pulled out the required documents as the woman grabbed his wallet and pulled out his driver’s license. He rolled his eyes and took it and then handed it to Mark. The name on the ID was Eric William Rowan. The address that was listed indicated that he was of the platinum card set, and Mark’s estimation of him was right: he was sixteen years old. The Eric in the photograph was smirking just like the live one was now. It seemed that insolence was a chronic character trait.

“Eric Rowan?” Mark inquired.

“The one and only,” Eric quipped. “I think you can tell from that picture that it’s me.”

The woman sighed heavily in exasperation. “Eric…”

“Relax, Abby,” the guy named Eric said in a low, conspiratorial tone. “I’ve got this.” He turned to Mark with an arrogant sort of contrition. “Listen, uh…”—he paused to make a big show of reading Mark’s name tag—“Officer Perry. I’m real sorry about all this. It’s all a misunderstanding, I’m sure. I hope we can clear this up quickly.”

Mark merely blinked at the young man with flat green eyes for a moment before finishing the ticket. “You were going ninety miles an hour in a seventy-mile-an-hour zone. I hardly see how this could be misconstrued. You have eyes. You have perfect reasoning, though you act like you don’t because you’re too young to think about your mortality. The signs are posted for your security and others.” He tore some sheets from the pad, gave one to Eric along with his driver’s license and proof of insurance on the Porsche. “Have a nice day, Mr. Rowan.” He flicked a glance at Abby, hoping that he would look at her for as long as courtesy would allow before walking away. But his eyes would not move from hers for what seemed like the longest instant…

“Thank you, Officer Perry,” Abby said in a gentle tone, breaking the hold that she had on him.

He gave a slight nod as Eric rolled his eyes. “Good day, Miss. Rowan.” He turned and walked away, having no clue what had just happened and how it would change the rest of his life.

* * *

They met again three years later, but this time, it was in a more formal setting. He had learned a great deal about Abigail Rowan since that first meeting, and every morsel of information was as succulent as a finely cooked meal. His job gave him access to databases of information, but he mostly relied on information he got from articles written about Abigail and her family.

Abigail was the oldest child in her family. She had two fraternal twin brothers, Eric and Ethan, who were as different as black and white; Ethan was the intense, serious one whom everyone assumed would follow in Father Rowan’s footsteps, and Eric, even though he was the older of the pair, was the reckless one, always disappointing his father and causing trouble. Their parents, Robert and Katharine, had been married for nearly a quarter of a century; while her husband conquered in the political arena, Katharine Rowan spearheaded various campaigns for the rights and welfare of women and children, shown pictured on stone steps looking rather radical for a woman of her stature. It was rumored in gossip columns that Robert disapproved of his wife’s work, deeming it extremist and unnecessary. But Katharine, who had grown up on the opposite end of the spectrum from where she now resided, figured it was her right as a human being to help those less fortunate—those words exactly became a sound byte within mere minutes speaking them.

It was a cold night in February when they crossed paths once again. He’d donned a tuxedo for a charity event he was sent to provide security for as a favor for a good friend. Aside from working in the bullpen at work and going out with drinks with the guys after work every now and again, Mark’s life was filled with a jumble of time-passing activities. He was complacent, but not completely happy. There was a big difference. He could feel it every time he found himself on a date with another stand-in for the woman he felt was his soul mate. Still he went on and put it aside to act out his life, which was not all that bad.

Mark stood at the door, watching the guests as they walked in. Oscar Willis, one of Mark’s good friends and a fellow cop, occupied his post beside him, appraising the banquet’s guests with a bit of speculation in his dark brown eyes.

“Quite the party, isn’t it man?” Oscar asked in a conversational tone. “I heard they had Martha Stewart cater.”

“I remember you,” Abigail remarked, tilting her head a fraction. “You gave my brother a ticket three years ago.” Her chin lifted and a strange light came into her hazel-green eyes. “So have you sought me out to give me one?”

Mark looked startled. “Of course not, Miss Rowan! I…”

It was then that Abigail began laughing, the glorious sound flowing over him like sweet music. He realized that she had been merely joking and that she really didn’t think he’d come there to give her a speeding ticket. Feeling sheepish, Mark chuckled nervously along with her.

“I was merely jesting, Officer Perry,” Abigail assured him. “I’m sure you have your reasons for being here, just as everyone else does.”

Noticing something in her tone, Mark countered, “Do you have a reason to be here?”

It was Abigail’s turn to be startled, which intrigued Mark but she recovered quickly. “Whatever do you mean, Officer Perry? I have plenty of reason to be here. I am a part of the Rowan family and I must be here to back my father. We are a unit and it is important that we appear as such.”

The way she said it, the very deliberateness of it, was practiced. She had prepared the statement in front of a mirror, with her father’s approval. She was Daddy’s Little Girl, outfitted with expensive threads and clever phrases. The articles and the papers never hinted at this, never gave a clue that Abigail was the kind of woman that Robert Rowan wanted to be by his side—slightly different than the woman he’d married. Or perhaps her had been so smitten that he’d overlooked it. But now that he knew, it gave the glided image of the woman with whom he was secretly in love a bit of dullness. It was a scratch, an imperfection.

“That’s justified,” Mark commented, “and very admirable of you all, but what if you didn’t want to be here?”

Something in her eyes flickered as it had before, but she was one for a quick recovery. “It is not a question of desire, Officer Perry.” Her tone was slightly imperious now. “Giving in to desires is reckless. I have an obligation to my father to be here, and I am fulfilling it. It doesn’t matter what it is that I want otherwise.”

“So there isn’t something you’d rather be doing tonight? Hanging out with friends? Curling up on the couch with a book?”

“Those things, while nice, are a waste of time for me,” Abigail insisted. “I have no time to spend doing idle things. Every action I take has to take be a step forward. I am grieved to understand that you do not feel the same, Officer Perry.”

Mark, ignoring the scene around them and the implications, stepped closer to her. She drew up as if to make herself seem taller, and it didn’t serve to intimidate him. It, however, made them diametrically opposed.

“What has that man done to you?” Mark demanded in a low tone, watching her cheeks flame. “Have you no mind of your own?”

“I do have a mind of my own, Mister Perry!” Abigail cried angrily, her Mister as acrid as sulfur. “I choose to support my father in what he does, and I’m sorry if you think that is wrong.”

“It’s not wrong. That’s not what I’m saying. Giving support to a family member is not wrong by any means. But your heart has to be in it. You have to want to do it as much as you want to do something you like, not treat it as if it were a dental exam.”

“How dare you assume…? My heart is in it!”

Mark appraised her with the tough, observant eyes of a cop for a long-enough moment to make her fidget. She had looked more alive in the last few moments than she had all night long, her pale cheeks tinged with rosiness and her green eyes filled with fire, and she had the nerve to lie and say that her heart was in this façade?

“I don’t think so, Miss Rowan,” Mark disagreed, sidestepping her and walking away. With her lips pursed, she just glared at him and said nothing, but it seemed that her glare was tinged with a bit of humiliation. “Good night,” he added, as an afterthought over his shoulder.

* * *

Dear Mark,

I have given what you and I discussed the other evening a lot of thought. It is not every day that I cross someone that makes me question what I am and with what I have surrounded myself, and I have to admit that my anger came from my misapprehension. If there is one thing that I hate, it is to be told I’m wrong about something. I get that from my mother, I suppose. Anyhow, I offer you an apology because I feel that you have no cause to be ridiculed for your knack for questioning (something I think will serve you well in your occupation) and my anger was misdirected. You just happened to be there when it erupted, an unwitting trigger, perhaps, which was rather unfortunate.

I hope I have not alienated you and lost your companionship. That is what you wanted, isn’t it?

Sincerely,
Abigail J. Rowan

Mark looked at the note in wonder as the others looked at him with interest. The last line echoed in his head, sounding more sassy and shrewd than it had come off at first glance. That is what you wanted, isn’t it?

Had he been that transparent? Oh he could just kick himself.