So I believe there is a definite lack in Mark Fitzgerald fanfiction. Not in just quantity, but in comprehension. There's more to him than that potential rapist or threat. You just need to see him in a new light.

Light [n]: mental insight and understanding.

My Private Dictionary.

When you're out in the ocean, what do you seek to find?

A harbor.

Harbor [n]: a place of refuge; a place that is safe and sheltered.

When he was younger, spending his summers with his Grandfather on the coast, they would spend hours sitting in their beach chairs on the sand and watching the tide roll in. His Grandfather would smoke a cigar and Mark would watch him intently. Thinking that at any moment when his Grandfather opened his mouth to give Mark more conversation and worldly advice, it would fall into his lap. For some reason, Mark enjoyed hearing his elder companion let out a few cuss words.

But the cigar never fell. It was a perfect dance that played along the lips of his Grandfather.

Dance [v]: to evade.

When Mark was in middle school, he was called out of his seventh grade class by his mother. Her face was pale, her eyes red-rimmed. He asked her what was wrong. But she broke off each question he asked and replaced a new one: "Are you hungry? Did you get an A on your test earlier today? Do you have a lot of homework tonight?"

It wasn't until they got to the car that Mark began to put the pieces together. His father was there in the drivers seat waiting for them. They were heading to the beach.

His Grandfather had died.

Die [v]: to stop existing.

They buried his Grandfather in a suit. But Mark knew that was far from what his Grandfather was like; he was a casual man. With his colorful polos and khaki shorts. He wore beach shoes all the time; even when they weren't at the beach.

People talked and cried. And talked and cried. They played classical music as people ate small finger sandwiches. His Grandfather would have disapproved. He enjoyed jazz and frequently teased Mark about how with his "golden trumpet" he could be the next great jazz star! And he wouldn't approve of the finger sandwiches.

He would have wanted a steak.

It was like people were forgetting who his Grandfather was even at his own funeral.

They forgot what he was like when he existed.

Exist [v]: to live an unsatisfactory life.

The next few years of Mark's life was a blur. Somehow, after his Grandfather died, he had somehow ended up in the wrong crowd. Maybe it was because his old friends were getting sick of his depressing outlook on life. Maybe it was because he had started to hate organized schoolwork when all it did was frustrate him. Maybe it was because he couldn't find a release that didn't involve killing himself.

But they did. And he took it gratefully.

Grateful [v]: comforting.

He never did too little. And he never did too much. He'd gotten it down to a religious science of balance. Three large sips. Or six small ones. Four hours of hardcore bliss. Or eight with a slow burn.

All he knows is somewhere in that haze he saw a girl.

Haze [n]: disoriented mental or physical state.

It was supposed to just be a simple date. A night that Mark could enjoy with a girl he had a crush on (though he wouldn't really outwardly admit it). But he wanted to admit it.

But somewhere along the way he got angry. Somewhere along the way he felt a catalyst inside him burst and all he knew was that he had to get even.

Knife in hand, he went after him. Knife in wall. Boy on ground. Girl on ground, crying.

He made a smart-aleck remark. Cops showed up.

He knew he made a mistake when he looked back and saw her shaking body.

Mistake [v]: to choose something incorrectly.

He came back from juvie with a parole officer and a black eye. He got a look at messed up and it hit him square in the face. He knew he would never go back.

He had to make better choices.

He vowed to never go back.

Vow [v]: to pledge something.

He pledged himself to change. It was going to be a new start. His second chance would not go wasted.

He showed up to school everyday. He did his work and came home. He did community service. He had his weekly check-in chat with his parole officer.

He kept out of trouble.

But trouble just liked him.

Trouble [n]: the effort or exertion involved in something.

He went through a lot of trouble trying to stay out of it. But Owen caught up with him and asked if he wanted a smoke. He tried to say no, but the peer pressure just amounted.

Trouble followed him. And it was in the form of Owen.

And Bianca. Who showed up moments later with a joint in her hands and a voiced filled with sex, "Just one won't hurt."

She didn't realize that it was the act of trouble that didn't hurt.

It was the consequences.

Consequence [n]: the following as a result.

His parole officer said he would turn a blind eye if Mark did one thing for him: join a youth group retreat for the weekend. They needed a few more recruits in order to make the overnight happen.

He said fine. It couldn't hurt. They were just a bunch of church geeks and all he had to do was smile and stay out of trouble.

After all, third time is a charm.

Charm [n]: attractiveness.

He saw her from afar. Her flower-patterned dress and blue cardigan. Her skin was creamy and pale. He had been standing near the door when she came up to him. He recognized her; but he hoped that it wasn't mutual. Her cheeks were flushed from laughing and her smile was wide.

She had his heart at hello.

Heart [n]: the basis of emotional life.

He was doing more than existing. He was living. It had taken that second chance of meeting her to really feel the impact she had on him. The fog of his past discretions had kept him from life. No more. No more.

"I'm sorry," he said. His heart beating wildly in his chest.

"I know," she replied. And then took his hand and led him to the drink table. She handed him a red plastic cup.

He looked at it with serious contemplation.

"You won't barf this time," she said quietly. "Promise."

Promise [v]: to warn that something is true or inevitable.

They were the last two up for the night. The other teenagers had all been wiped out after an intense game of hide-and-go-seek.

He and Clare just happened to be good at hiding from everyone.

"Sometimes," he wondered aloud. "I think I'm always going to be the bad guy. Like it's in my DNA or something. Like a Frankenstein and all people see is this horrible monster who-"

"Mark," she interjected. Her voice grew serious as she put a gentle hand on his shoulder, "You're not going to scare me off with what you're saying. And you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. People change."

"And what if I don't?" he replied darkly.

She met his deep eyes and gave him a smile. "Frankenstein's perceived monstrosity is said to be derived from the fact that he was lonely. He kept looking for someone to share the world with."

"So that means I'll always be alone?"

"No," she replied. "You have me."

"Why?" he asked her quietly.

Her smile lessened slightly as she looked at him, thinking deeply. "I believe in second chances."

Chance [n]: something caused by luck.

They had been hanging out every weekend on Sundays. The hours right after Clare attended service alone (her family had begun to fail on participating) and right before Mark's meeting with his probation officer.

Unlike the other days where they usually met at the park and talked, Mark decided to surprise her. He walked the extra two miles to her church and waited outside. Mothers flocked out in their floral dresses. Husbands came past with their hands in their pockets of their designated church pants. Children sped out the door in a animal herd jumping and spinning, making their rainbow colors mesh into some sort of new-age modern art.

He looked around. Clare wasn't anywhere to be found.

So he headed inside, hoping to find her there.

And he did. Talking to the priest, rubbing away her tears with a shaking hand. And he waited in the corner for her, patiently. Hoping that she was going to be okay.

Wait [v]: to be ready or available.

When she finally made her way to the door, that was when she finally saw him standing there. "Oh," she said simply. She brought another hand up to her eyes. She was trying so hard not to cry. He brought a hand up to her cheek and removed a tear that had gotten past her barriers.

He felt a nervousness run through his hand upon touching her skin. He quickly brought his hand back into his pocket to safety. "Listen, Clare-"

"I don't want to talk about it," she said sternly. She looked away from him and crossed her arms.

"I know," he replied. He understood her. "But when you do, I'll be there for you."

They weren't supposed to have moments of pure honesty like this. They were supposed to be friends after all. Buddies. Comrades.

Comrade [n]: a fellow soldier.

They were in the hallway talking when Owen had come up to him, pressuring and influencing. It was like a constant battle and he was fighting in the field alone. Mark could already begin to feel his stomach turn sour and he could feel that anger boiling underneath him.

He wanted to do something! Just something to-

But she had already done it for him. "Listen, Owen? I heard that Bianca was looking for you. Something about the boiler room. I think you should check it out."

Owen looked at her before he got that sexual fog on his face. "Right," he said quickly as he made his way to the basement.

Mark turned and looked at her, "You got him to go away that easily?"

"Yeah," she said. A blush spreading across her cheeks. "He's a caveman. It's just a simple Neanderthal formula: they'll leave you alone if you can attract them to something of their liking."

"Which is?"

She fumbled with the metal wire on her spiral notebook. "Either food or sex."

"Oh," was all he replied quietly.

He hoped she hadn't noticed that his palms had gotten sweaty when he went to give her their usual goodbye of a high-five as they parted before next class.

Goodbyes [n]: farewell.

He finished his stint with his parole officer. It took them two goodbyes before they could finally part and go along with life.

The first goodbye went as such: they shook hands. Mighty parole officer said, "You're done. Go home. And don't come back."

But it hadn't felt right. It wasn't satisfactory. Since over time they had bonded in some weird way after Mark attended the church youth group event. And from then on, had frequented the religious place for youth group festivities with Clare. And on many occasions, they had talked.

And that had brought them closer.

Mark had made his way to leave anyway until an arm on his shoulder turned him around. He was brought into a deep hug. And soon, Mark found himself wrapping his arms around the older man and hugging tightly back. "Thanks," he whispered quietly.

"You take care, kid."

Mark made his way to the officer door and was nearly out when the elder man called out to him, "Mark!" The ex-delinquent turned around, a look of questioning interest on his face. "I'm about to give you the best advice known to man, courtesy of my wife: behind every great man, is an even greater woman. You take care of her now."

"I promise, Sir," he said with a grin.

The old man winked, knowingly.

His growing feelings for Clare had been their secret. But Mark's actions weren't. Everyone saw it; he was becoming a person again. An adult.

Responsible. Courteous.

A man.

Man [n]: a male lover.

Clare had finally come to him with her troubles. Had told him about her parents constant fighting and how she feared that their marriage was falling apart for good.

Eli had given her headphones.

Mark had given her a place to stay.

He slept on the floor and she slept on his bed. She looked down at him from her place on the comfy mattress. He looked up at her with his hands behind his head cushioning his skull from the hard floor. "Are you sure?" she had asked. "I don't want to impose or-"

"Don't sweat it, Clare. It's really no big deal."

"But it is, Mark. To me it is." She sat up, crossing her legs. She put her hands in her lap and she stared at her palms. At her movement, Mark sat up too, wondering what could possibly still be frustrating her even though it was late at night and she had to be tired. "Do you want to kiss me?" she asked suddenly.

His eyebrows rose in shock. "If, uh, if you want me to." He wet his lips expectantly.

She looked up through her eyelashes mischievously, "It's not really a want, Mark. It's more of a need." And slowly she pulled the blanket off of her and brought herself down to the floor. She laid a hand on Mark's leg as she brought herself closer.

She must have finally taken in Mark's non-moving body because she immediately pulled herself away with a, "I'm sorry. That was out of character." She began to get up off the ground when Mark finally came to his senses.

"No, it wasn't." He grabbed her wrist gently and lead her back down near him again. He went slowly, taking in every detail as he leaned in closer to her. He saw her chest rise and he tried to ignore that, focusing on her lips instead.

Slowly, they connected. It was sweet, he didn't want to scare her off with what he was truly feeling. How he had wanted to push his lips a little closer to hers. How he had wanted to reach around her neck and pull her closer. How he wanted to make it last a little longer than sweet.

He wanted passionate.

They pulled away after a short second. He attempted to cover up that stupid grin that had somehow managed to take over his face. He looked over at her and she was smiling. She was at a loss for words.

Loss [n]: the fact of no longer having something.

When her parents divorced, Mark took her to the beach. The one he had frequented with his Grandfather. The one that had calmed and soothed him. The one that felt like home.

He shared it with her. An arm wrapped around her shoulder as she gently cried into his chest, he didn't question her nor pry. She would talk to him when she was ready. As always.

Instead he talked for her. He told her about how much he had loved his Grandfather. How he still loved him. How he was the most interesting man to ever walk the earth. His love for cigars and jazz and meat. His ability to always make you smile and laugh. He had that skill of making you feel good. Just real good.

Even when you felt horrible. When you felt awful and disgusting. He still loved you. Always.

"I want to be just like him," he told her. His blatant honesty got the best of him when he became nostalgic watching the ocean.

Clare looked up at him and rubbed her hand against her cheek wiping the last few tears away. "Don't you see, Mark? You already are."

When you're out in the ocean, who is it you seek to find?

Clare [n]: a person who gives you that feeling of safety and protection. A girl with the bluest of eyes and the most gorgeous of blushes. She's all you really want. She's all you really need. She loves you.

And, damn, you love her, too.

END.

Thoughts? Comments? Please Review. I am intrigued to know what you're thinking.

If you really enjoyed this, feel free to check out my other work. And if you hated this, then really check out my work because I write more than just Mark Fitzgerald.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and review. I truly appreciate it.