Dedicated to Nicolea, because she asked for this. : )
It was four in the morning. Dara Jensen was in bed, but she wasn't asleep. She hadn't been able to sleep all night. Her boyfriend, Marcus Taggert, should have been home hours ago, but she hadn't heard anything from him. This wasn't the first time he was late, and it always had to do with a big case, but that didn't stop her from worrying every time it happened.
Finally she heard the sound she had been waiting for for so long—his key in the door. She waited until she heard the telltale click of a door behind him before getting out of bed to greet him in her living room.
"Hi," she said softly.
Marcus was sitting, hunched over, on her couch He raised his head to look at her, his eyes still haunted by the horror he had witnessed tat night. "I didn't mean to wake you," he said, his voice devoid of nearly all emotion.
"You didn't. I was already up," she said, sitting next to him. "What happened?"
He briefly met her eyes before looking back at her carpet again. "Lucky Spencer," he said, nearly inaudibly.
She leaned forward. "What? Honey, what happened?"
His pain filled brown eyes met her concerned one. "Lucky Spencer died tonight."
Dara was stunned. "Lucky? How?"
"Fire," he said his voice strained. "He was upstairs above Morgan's garage, sleeping, and he died. Elizabeth came just as we found the body. She's. . .Dara, I don't think she can handle this. She seemed so dead inside." His eyes welled up with unshed tears. "And Luke and Laura. . .They saw his body. It wasn't enough that their son was dead. They had to ID him. What was left of him." He shook his head. "Their faces are going to haunt me forever. I tried to tell them, to explain, but they had to see him. "His voice broke and now the tears fell. "I wanted to stop them from seeing their little boy like that."
Dara held him as he cried, just dazed. She knew how close Lucky and Elizabeth Webber had been, and she knew how much the Spencer's loved their son. She couldn't imagine losing Marcus, or someone else she loved, to such a horrible fate.
When he had spent all his tears, he lay back limply against the couch.
"Do you have any leads yet?" Dara asked gently.
"Corinthos and Morgan, as usual. It looks like a mob hit, and the Spencer's seem to agree. All I know for sure is that Elizabeth is depending on me to get this bastard. I can't let her or Laura Spencer down. They deserve to know who took their son and soulmate away from them!"
Dara was silent for a moment. She's seen Marcus worked up over a case before, of course, but this was different. "This case. . .why is it so important to you," she asked him.
"He was seventeen years old. Weeks away from his high school graduation. He was a good kid, who had found love, real love, at an early age, and it was taken away from him. Everything. All of his dreams were taken away from him in one moment. And not even just his. Elizabeth's, his parents, all their hopes and dreams were destroyed!" He was screaming at her now. "And for what, Dara? For what? Territory debates? Whiny ass punks who use violence to get their own way? There is no reason, because it was a Goddamned senseless death! He shouldn't have died. Liz Webber shouldn't have to go through this. No parent should have to lose their child, especially at such a young age. That is why this case is so damned important. Does that answer your question?" he finished, slamming his fist down on the table.
Although it had answered her question, she had a nagging feeling that it wasn't the full answer. Still, she nodded. "Yes. Well, I'm going to go try to get some sleep. I'll see you later." She left the room, knowing that he needed time alone to regroup his emotions.
She went back into the bedroom and laid down, but she was wide-awake. About ten minutes later, Marcus silently walked into the room and sat on the bed next to her. She waited for him to speak and after what seemed like an eternity, he did.
"Her name was Janie. We were sixteen years old, and she was my first serious girlfriend. I took her home one night, and when I came back the next morning to take her to school, she was gone. Her house had burned down during the night and no one survived. The police never found out who or what set the fire." He sighed. "All my life, I've been haunted by what-ifs. Not so much about our relationship. Looking back, I know that she wasn't the one I was destined to be in love with, but what about the man she was meant for? And what about all those dreams she had? She had more ambition than anyone else I knew, and nothing was able to come of that. I never even got to say good-bye, Dara. That hurts so much. I never got to say good-bye, or I love you, or anything like that. And when I saw the same thing happening all over again tonight, I felt the same rage and helplessness that I felt all those years ago." He met her eyes. "I shouldn't have taken them out on you."
Dara smiled at him. "It's all right. I understand. And I'm sorry about Janie," she said softly. "Thank you for telling me." She sat up and hugged him. After a moment, he hugged her back. She pulled back and looked at him. "Come on and lay down now. You're going to need all of your strength to solve this, for everyone involved."
He did as she suggested, holding her body close to his own. He closed his eyes, and silently thanked Dara for understanding. They fell asleep, their hands intertwined, their bodies almost as one.
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