Chapter 2

Summary: Marsha and the kids see the tattoo and start to ask questions Zoom doesn't really want to answer.

"Mr. Zoom?" Cindy asked. I looked down. "What's on your arm?" she asked.

"It's a tattoo," I told her. I tried to brush it off. Cindy was a cute kid but she asks a lot of questions.

"Zoom." I shook my head. I knew that voice. Ace. She had been popping up in my head lately. This place did shit to you. I knew Connor was going through hell.

"Of what?" Summer asked. Great.

"Of the Zenith sign," I said. I pulled my shirt up just enough so they'd see the only the one tattoo. Summer touched the tattoo but pulled back quickly, looking scared. Dylan put his hand in her's.

"You okay?" he asked.

"I'm…fine." He knew she wasn't. Dylan could tell something was up but he didn't say anything else. I know I shouldn't do it, but I did compare him to Marksman at times. They were two different people. This is a perfect example. If something like this happened Marksman would probably bug Summer until she said something and/or hit him. Dylan will let it go but if she needs to talk, he'll listen.

"He's a leader, like you. You never pushed me if I didn't want to talk," Ace whispered.

"Go away," I whispered.

"What?" Cindy asked. Crap, I said that out loud.


"Awesome tattoo," Tucker said. "Can I get one?" he asked.

"NO. We shouldn't have even gotten those tattoos. Now go get ready for bed. It's been a long day," I ordered. Cindy and Tucker groaned but walked off.

"Tucker?" Cindy asked. "Do tattoos hurt?"


"Oh." Cindy looked at her arm and shivered.

"But they wouldn't hurt you," Tucker said, realizing his mistake. Cindy smiled, hugged him, and bounced off to her…um…well, you can't exactly call them rooms. More like…cubicles? With beds? I don't know…she bounced off to her sleeping area.

I walked back to my room, slowly. Grant decided to put him room in a spot where no matter how I tried to get to my room, I would manage to pass his. I don't want to talk to him. At all. Just keep quiet Jack. Just creep on out. Watch the trick board, watch it, watch it-

"ZOOM!" Grant yelled. Shit.

"Hey Grant," I sighed. "Look, right now isn't a great time. I'm really tired so I'm just gonna-"

"Oh, this will only take a minute. Look, I just wanted to see if-"

"Dr. Grant? I'd like to talk to Zoom, if that's okay?" someone said from behind Grant. Summer stepped from behind him, smiling. Grant sighed but walked back into his room.

"I am forever in your debt," I told her. She smiled.

"Great. You can start by explaining that tattoo," she said.

"Anything but that."

"She'll understand Zoom. She feels things," Ace whispered. No.

"Zoom! That tattoo freaked the crap out of me. It's got so much emotion and there's a girl's face tied to it," she accussed.

"What's your point?"

"Who's the girl?"

"A girl."


"Ace. Her name is…was…" I sighed. Summer nodded.

"So it's Ace. Why is there so much pain attached to it?"

"Um…she's dead?!"

"No, it's not just that…there's another feeling…" Summer said. She touched my arm again.

"Hey! Cut that out! Do you know how annoying and creepy that is?" I asked. "No wonder you don't have any friends, you're always being weird," I muttered. She shot a death look but didn't let go.

"Marsha. The other feeling is confusion. You still love Ace, but you love Marsha. That's understandable Zoom," Summer said. She let go and her eyes came back to our time.

"I love Marsha. She's sweet. You know, you could be with her if you'd forgive yourself," Ace said.

No, I'm a failure. Even if I save these kids, I can't undo what happened to you.

"Oh really? Well, how would you like it if Dylan was in love with some girl he knew when he was younger huh?"

"I'd be okay."

"Really?" I asked skeptically. She smiled.

"No, not really, but I won't be having that problem, now will I?" she said, smiling. "Just talk to Marsha. Goodnight," she sang over her shoulder. I stuck my tongue out at her. Stupid teenagers.

"Very mature Jack," a warm voice said. I smiled. Marsha was here. I turned around and there she was, smiling, leaning against my door.

"You didn't see anything," I said.

"Uh-huh, sure," she said, rolling her eyes. We went into my room. "What did she want you to tell me?" Marsha asked.

"What? Nothing." I said quickly.

"Really? Nothing? Absolutely nothing?"


"Okay. So guess what Larraby said at the meeting!?" she said. I love Marsha, I do, but I swear that woman is bipolar. One minute she's all, are you sure? And the next, she's all happy. As Summer's stupid cheerleader friends would say, "WTF?!"

"Jack? Are you awake?" Marsha asked.

"Yes." I held her a little tighter, making sure that she was really here and I wasn't just dreaming that Ace was alive again.

Ace. There she goes again. I didn't even know the girl that long, but she was always there in my brain and the thought wouldn't die, like that stupid battery bunny on T.V.

"Jack…I…" she started.

"What?" I asked.

"I never noticed your tattoos," she said. I caught the plural.

"Yeah. I still think Daravia slipped something into our drinks to convince us to do that," I said, trying to lighten the mood.

"The Zenith one is nice. She designed it, right?" Marsha clarified. I nodded. "The Ace one is pretty too," she said. I noticed something in her voice. What was it?

"Yeah, I guess." Marsha yawned.

"I should get back to my room before Cindy comes in," Marsha said. Yeah, that kid was in here every night. It was just like the first time I was at Area 52, except this time instead of coming from the hard-ass Daravia it was coming from a 6 year-old in a bunny suit.

"MARsha?" I asked. She looked up. "Are you okay?" I asked.

"I can't find my pants. I know I came in here with pants," she said. I pointed to the foot of my lame excuse for a bed. She smiled and jumped up to put them on.

"I mean about the tattoo."

"You got it years ago. It doesn't matter."

"So you really don't care?"

"Well…yeah I care. I mean…sometimes it feels like I'm competing against a woman I'm never going to beat. I mean I loved you and Ace. Every comic book issue I picked up I hoped it would include a date between the two of you. You were perfect together. Me? I'm just…I'll never beat Ace," she said.


"No. I don't want to hear anything. Cindy will be here soon," she said. She left. I laid down on the bed. Was there a competition in my head between the two? Or was I still just coping from losing everyone at once?

"Mr. Zoom?" a tiny voice asked.

"Come in Cindy," I said. The little girl walked in and gave me a funny look.

"You look funny," she said. I glanced over her outfit.

"You're the one wearing the kitten outfit, not me," I said.

"You look upset. What's wrong?"

"A word to the wise: don't ever date kid, okay?" I said. She rolled her eyes at me and pulled the couch up to my bed.

"Goodnight Mr. Zoom."

"Marsha!" I yelled.


"About what you said last night-"

"Zoom, I don't want to know-"

"I know you don't want to know but I want to tell you. Look, I love Ace and I miss her a lot but I love you too. I…you're the one I want. Ace was…" I struggled for the right words. "Ace was nice but you…you're special." Marsha smiled.

"You really think so?"

"Yeah…" I said. I pulled her closer and decided that now was a time to lighten the mood. "I mean, come on, you've got my comic books 4 different languages," I teased. She smiled.

"5, not counting Braille," she said. I kissed her, right there, even though I knew Larraby would kick my ass for "corrupting the children." Whatever. I know what Dylan and Summer are really doing when they're going to run errands.


"Yeah. Grown-ups should not be allowed to kiss in public," Tucker agreed. He and Cindy walked away. Marsha giggled.

"Be happy Zoom," Ace said.


"Forgive yourself. I forgave you and since I'm technically you…" she said. She smiled at me sadly. "Marsha deserves you." I smiled.

"I love you," I said softly to Ace.

"I know. But you love Marsha…just be happy." I nodded.

"I love you Marsha."

"I love you too Zoom," they both said. Ace smiled and disappeared.

I was freed.

Okay, so have any of you ever had a great idea for a story and you're typing it and then you're like, "Oh shit, I don't know how to end it?!"

Well, because this happens often with me. Usually, though I manage to pull together a halfway decent ending. Like this one. At least, I think it's good.

And yes, I did steal that whole "I forgive you and since I'm you" thing from Roswell. What can i say, it was a cute idea.