He was annoyed and confused. The last time he had talked to them BOTH they were blissfully happy, engaged and planning the wedding. Then his father had visited from wherever it was he had been stationed for the last six years and BOOM!

Pete had rung him to tell him the meeting had gone down like a lead balloon, he had insulted his father without knowing, and when Mark asked HOW, Pete wouldn't say!

Then the next day he was complaining that she wouldn't answer her phone to arrange the flowers, and how it was all going to have to change when they married. Mark had closed his eyes, he knew his sister, if Pete thought she was going to change just because he got her to the alter, he was in for a shock. He had tried to tell him, to warn him, to hint. Pete had been totally oblivious, would not listen, he KNEW she would change.

Pete had always been a cock sure son of a bitch at school, always so sure that he knew everything about everything, but if there was one thing Mark knew, it was how bloody stubborn his sister could be too!

Mark had tried calling his dad, but when he got through he had sounded subdued, a little upset as if he had heard some bad news, so Mark hadn't even asked about Pete and their meeting, but his dad had told him he was coming over to see the family the next day… so he could wait. He tried Sam, she was 'a bit busy at the moment'. He had tried to tell her that he needed to speak to her, to let her know what Pete seemed to be expecting, but he heard someone shouting her in the background, and she gave him a brief 'call you later' and put the phone down.

His father never turned up. Sam called him late that night to tell him that he had died, heart attack, she said, sudden. They had no time to call him, not that he could have got there anyway. In a way he was glad that the old man had gone quick, cancer was a slow horrible way to die, he wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Several years ago he had received a call from the Airforce Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs telling him that his father had hours, a couple of days if he was lucky and he should rush to see him. At the time he had still been a bloody idiot, blaming his dad, and the Airforce, for everything that had ever gone wrong in his life. He had not gone, had heard nothing at all until he had contacted Sam a week or so later, wondering why he had not heard about any funeral arrangements. She had sounded shocked, whether it was hearing him ask about dad, or the fact that he had been called by the hospital, he was not sure, and come up with the brilliant and not at all unbelievable … 'he got better'. Not the worlds best liar, his sis, probably trying to hide the fact that her beloved AF had called the wrong patients relative, afraid he may sue them for emotional damage, or some such shit.

She had always tried to mediate between the two men of the family, even accepting the distance he had made when she had joined the force, still trying to make them a family, passing on news about where her dad was, that was up until after 'he got better' at which point all she would say was he was 'out of the country' and if he needed to contact him, she could pass a message through 'channels', like he was ever going to need to contact HIM!

When his father had turned up with her, out of the blue, one cold afternoon, he had finally started to forgive the past, he had kids now, it was time he grew up and stopped sulking (that was how Julie had diplomatically phrased it later). He had found his father… changed… not a religious type of change, not really mellow-in-his-old-age change either, but… wise, somehow, or at least that was the only word he could use that sounded correct.

Julie had been delighted to see him, she had invited him to the wedding, of course, he had not come. She had also invited him to see the kids as soon as they were born, he had not come then either, and each time Mark had not hidden the fact that he was glad he had stayed away, even if Sam had turned up each time, he could put up with her, in small doses, after all SHE had not been the one to cause his mothers death. So when 'dad' was stood there, on the door step and had taken a step forward and had hugged him, he had been shocked!

Then Alison had run out and heard him say dad, and jumped into his arms yelling "GRANDPA" as if she had known him all her life! John, the younger by a year had sucked his thumb and just watched warily, but Julie and he had got on brilliantly, and some of the contacts since had made it so they actually felt like a REAL family again! And now he was dead!

And Sam was saying she had broken up with Pete because he had bought her a house? Or was it something to do with a dog? She had been crying when she had called, not surprising as she had just seen her own father die in front of her… though why her father was at her base Mark could not understand… she had sobbed on the phone for a full ten minutes, then he had heard someone in the background say

"C'mere" the sobs had muffled as if she was sobbing into a pillow, or even into SOMEONE and the phone had gone dead. The voice was male, and a lot deeper than Pete's.

Pete had called the next morning, he was headed back to Denver, stopping the transfer to the CSPD, he didn't blame her job, or their father, he mentioned something about not being able to compete with a superhero, but again wouldn't explain, and gave his condolences for their loss. And that was that!

From a perfect happy ending, less than a month ago, to the loss of her father and another broken relationship for sis.

She called, late in the afternoon, he offered to come and be with her, she refused, he asked if she needed help with the arrangements, no she said, she had it covered. She was going to abide by his wish to have a military funeral, not something that surprised Mark at all, and she would contact him as soon as they had a date and time.

He arranged with work for time off, he would have to drive to Colorado, spend a week there around the funeral, then drive back, he couldn't afford to just jump on a plane with the whole family, but when he told Sam about his plans she had covered the phone up, spoken to someone in the room and came back with plans for them to get a plane from their local AFB, or Denver international straight to Peterson, any time he wanted.

Whoever the man was in the background with the deep voice, Mark was sure he was high in the Airforce, and was glad his sister had help at this time. He had to wonder though, was THIS the superhero?