Author's Note: This has been a looong time between updates; my apologies and I hope there's someone left to read it!

Disclaimer: Doom is owned by id software, Universal, and other people so not me. I'm not making anything from this.

In this chapter, Sam almost cancels, and Marcus reveals there's more to him than meets the eye.

I walked back to my quarters, relieved that the science department's weekly meeting was finally over. It seemed as though time slowed to a snail's crawl, which I have to say surprised me. I'd always looked forward to the lengthy discussions, commiserating on new discoveries, and lively debates that were always guaranteed to develop when a large group of brilliant minds got together. This time however, I only wanted it to end as soon as possible. It wasn't until after I'd showered, put my hair down, up, then down again, and found myself suddenly indecisive on what to wear, that I realized what had me so reticent.

It had been 3 years since I'd gone out with anyone, and I was nervous. It wasn't like I was some innocent, afraid to relate to another, it was just that it had been so very long since I had. I felt like I was about to go out on my first date, ever. I wasn't sure if things would go well, or if Marcus and I would find anything to talk about. There was always work to fall back on, but even I wasn't that inept to think that would be enough. I wrung my hands together, realizing that perhaps it would be better to just scrap it. There was so much to do down in the labs anyway, and the fates knew we were on a tight schedule, and wouldn't it be fantastic to get ahead of it all? I stopped when the sudden chiming of my door broke me away from my mutinous thoughts.

Without thinking, I passed my hand over the security panel, allowing the door to slide open. I wasn't sure what I was going to say to get me out of our dinner date, but whatever it had been became a croaked, " …hi."

Marcus the communications tech was cocky, quick-witted, and charming. Marcus the date was some other element entirely. His dark locks curled behind his neck, and I smelled a faint hint of cologne, something I couldn't quite place. But it was nice, soothing almost. He wore simple black cargo pants and a dark blue turtleneck that set his eyes off nicely. His hands, the same that had held mine over nine hours ago, were filled with two objects; an ancient Sherlock Holmes dvd, and a vase containing the most unusual flower I'd ever seen.

"These," he said by way of greeting, "are for you. I don't know why, but they both reminded me of you. Pensive, wise, a singular personality. Am I being too esoteric?"

I took the vase, tilting my head to get a better look at the delicate white blooms. I paused, not quite sure how to respond. Was he being serious, or just having me on?

"What's wrong? Did I pick out a bad one?"

"No-no, it's not that. I'm actually rather speechless. I can't remember the last time a saw a flower in person, let alone one so beautiful. How did you acquire it?"

"I'll show you."

We took the lift down to the north corridor. The non-coms and auxiliary staff resided here, and the condition of the floor, while not shabby, lent to the impression that unlike the upper floors, expenses had been spared here. We arrived at his room, and Marcus pulled an old-style security card from his pocket.

"We don't have any secure projects running around these parts, so the brass doesn't see fit to equip our rooms with biometric sensors, nanowalls, or any other marvels of the modern world. I feel so last century!"

The doors parted slowly, and I immediately noticed a oddity; throughout the complex, the temperature was a comfortable 72 degrees. Even our individual suites maintained that hospitable climate. Not Marcus' room. As soon as I set foot inside, I felt as if I'd stepped into a tropical paradise. It had to be at least ten degrees warmer. The whole space was filled with flowers, some I recognized from educational vids. In one corner, a glass enclosure the size of a small closet housed a number of orchids, their unusual shapes and hues lending themselves well to the environment. In another, Gerber daisies and roses vied for prominence. Tall examples of water grass and ice plants, and tuberoses left me speechless yet again.

"But Marcus, you do realize that most, if not all of these are extinct, or near it. We're not even allowed to have unsanctioned life here. That includes botanical experiments."

"As you well know, we don't exactly have a lot in the way of leisure activities around here, and this is something I've done since before I could walk. I've put a lot of work into cultivating this garden. It's kind of my family's heritage. I've made arrangements, so you don't have to worry about it being improper."

"I thought you were, 'newly arrived', as you put it."

"Ahh, well, I am newly arrived to this particular division, but I'm not new to this facility. For reasons I'd rather we didn't go into right now, let's just say that I have fully earned my special privileges."

Now I was completely and utterly intrigued.

"Now Samantha, I can see that look on your face, and I know you are virtually bursting at the seams to uncover all sorts of dark secrets I might be hiding, but it really isn't that exciting. I just want to put you at ease. You know, don't want you feeling as though you're about to get involved with a man of shady morals," he laughed.

"I'm sorry Marcus, I didn't know we were embarking on a whirlwind affair."

Gee, what was I getting myself into here? I won't lie; he was appealing, very appealing. But I wasn't so lonely to try and make some guy I barely knew into Prince Charming. Though the discovery that there might be some fascinating, hidden mystery about him certainly upped his stock. I also realized that my comment about his 'breaking the rules' qualified me for an immediate diagnosis of foot-in-mouth disorder, and told him as much.

"Well, it would appear that I suffer from the same disease as you. You know what? How about we start this all over again? Hi, I'm Marcus Pinzerowski, I'm a communications tech here, and I'd really, really like to go out to dinner with you."

There wasn't a lot I could say, but I found myself liking this enigmatic man more and more. I realized that it didn't have to be anything more than just a good dinner with someone worthy of cultivating a friendship with. I didn't want to over think this. Besides Jenny, I had no other ties here, and with her getting closer to Steve, it looked like I was going to be seeing her less and less. I was merely building up my pitiful circle of friends. Just getting to know someone that could fill in the spaces between meetings and long hours in the lab.

That was all, really.

"Mr. Pinzerowski, it's a pleasure. I'm Samantha Grimm" I grinned. "Let's go get that bite to eat, I'm starving."