A/N: Some may call me crazy for starting this many stories, but this is a oneshot. This plot just sort of popped into my head and wouldn't leave me alone until I actually wrote it. This should be considered very AU, although some cynics may point out that it COULD technically be consistent with the storyline in the sense that there isn't anything to specifically indicate that it DIDN'T happen. But I'm writing this as an AU story. This is incredibly angsty with mentions of rape and other dark stuff. But it is also a hurt/comfort story so it will work out. Again, oneshot! No more! And please leave a review.
"Mark, I need to talk to you. In private," Maddy uttered the words to him so solemnly that he was snapped from his thoughts, looking up at her from the desk where he sat, filing paperwork for the commander. There was something in her eyes, something he hoped he would never have to see again. It was a mix of emotions he couldn't quite place—some doubt, a little anger, a lot of shame and a lot of worry. And there was definitely sadness in her eyes—the tears communicated that bit effectively enough.
He rose from the chair and crossed over to her side immediately, nothing but concern etched into his normally easy-going features. "Maddy, what's wrong?" he asked, his hand finding hers.
She looked at him with wide eyes. "Not here Mark. I need to tell you…just…not here…" she looked about worriedly, as if she were afraid anyone else would hear.
Mark's jaw set as he looked around. He jerked his head toward the door. "Come on," he spoke softly. "I know someplace."
They walked in tense silence for a few minutes, Mark guiding Maddy by the hand. His mind raced with all the things that could be wrong. Was she hurt? Was she mad? Was it something he had done?
He finally halted behind one of the storehouses near the junkyard where, just two short months ago, he had helped her locate a wheel to trade in the marketplace. He placed his hands firmly on her small shoulders and his intense, blue eyes found her deep brown ones. "What's wrong?" he asked again, firmly but tenderly, with genuine concern in his voice.
"Mark…" she hesitated, her eyes becoming misty. "There's just no…no easy way to tell you…"
His eyes widened, reflecting panic. "Maddy? What are you saying?" His grip on her shoulders tightened.
"Let…let me finish. Please," her voice was a barely audible whisper, strangled in her throat by sobs. He fell silent. "Mark…you promise you'll…you'll love me, right? No matter what…?" she couldn't meet his eyes anymore.
His strong hands squeezed her shoulders now. "Always, Maddy. I will always love you. No matter what," he pulled her close to him, still afraid of what she might say.
"Mark…" she paused again. She couldn't bring herself to say it to him—what had happened while he was away. She was so ashamed of it then, and she was ashamed now. It had taken all the courage she had to approach her boyfriend—the only one she could confide in. Her family didn't even know. "Mark…this is about two months ago…"
Now Mark was beyond concern. "Maddy, what happened?" A thousand thoughts flashed through his head about the destruction of the colony, the soldiers and what they could have done. None of them were pleasant.
"It was…while you were gone…I…" her voice squeaked now, sobs wrenching themselves from her throat before she could squelch them. She kept glancing at the ground. His hand cupped her chin, tilting it so that he could see into her eyes.
"It's okay, Maddy. Tell me. You can tell me anything," he spoke gently to her.
"My dad…and then you were gone…and Josh was…I was on my own…" she finally stated, as if she was explaining everything in those few fragments.
Mark held her tighter. He felt the moist tears staining his shirt and he knew she was hysterical now, no longer holding back. He stroked her hair in some sort of comforting gesture. "What happened, Maddy?" He pressed her, worried for her state of wellbeing.
"Those…those soldiers…" she glanced about as if they were still there, could still hear her. "O…one of them…"
Mark's expression changed to a harder, more severe look now. "What did they do to you, Maddy?"
It was another few minutes before she was coherent enough to speak. "On the second night…after they took over…my dad was still in a coma…and…and one of their officers called me…into his—Commander Taylor's—command center." She fell into weeping again, the tears saturating the ground beneath them. Only the strength of his arms encircling her kept her from running away.
He rocked her back and forth on her feet, willing her to be strong and continue. His voice was low, compassionate, but also determined. "What happened?" he asked yet another time. "What did that creep do?"
She broke down anew at the mention of the officer who had demanded she stand before him. "He…he was so…so scary…" she whimpered, eyes now puffy and nose red. She buried her face into his chest once more. "He…he asked me…he asked me my name…and…and then he started…touching my face…I resisted…" she shuddered, unable to look Mark in the eye again. "And…and I told him…I told him I had…I had a boyfriend…" she shook some more.
Above her head, Mark's jaw clenched. Whatever this officer had done to this poor, sixteen year old girl was absolutely disgusting. And if he could have, he would have hunted that creep down and killed him where he stood. It was more than just his love for Maddy that drove him to feel the anger. It was his compassion for people in general, and his belief that women deserved respect. This man had violated nearly every moral ever written. It sickened him that he was able to get away with it.
"After…after I told him, he…threatened to…to hurt my dad…he was…he couldn't defend himself…and then…he promised…that he would…he would get Zoe and Josh and my mom and…he said he would…end with you…" She fully collapsed against him now, leaning on him and counting on him to hold her up. It was only now that Mark realized the full extent of what had transpired, and it made his blood boil even more as he held his broken girlfriend in his arms.
"He…he threw me down…and he was…he was…" She was squeezing Mark so tightly now. "He was…on top of me…" she squeaked as a wail now escaped her lips. Her legs gave out and Mark stooped to keep her up, finally leaning her against the wall of the storehouse and kneeling beside her. "I…I begged him…I begged him to stop…and he…and all the other soldiers that were there…they all…they all laughed…" Her tears wouldn't stop flowing and Mark couldn't wipe them from her cheeks fast enough. "He…he had me by my hair…" she choked out. "And…and…he…just…" her words stopped here, overtaken by her whimpering and crying. "I'm sorry…" she finally managed to utter.
Mark stroked her cheek tenderly. "Why are you sorry? You have nothing to be sorry about," he continued to swipe the tears away with the pads of his thumbs. "You did nothing wrong."
Maddy was gasping now, uncontrollably. "But…we…promised…to save ourselves…for each other…" she eked out.
Mark's heart broke for hers with each pained gasp. "This wasn't your fault," he told her, hoping that she would hear the conviction in his voice and believe him. "This was…this was some creep's fault," he looked away as he spat the words. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I couldn't be here to stop him," these last words were spoken with the deepest tone of regret she had ever heard from anyone.
"I…I tried so hard…Mark…but he was too strong…and he…he had his way with me," she sighed the last few words, giving them up as if she had nothing left to lose. Immediately she felt Mark's body pressed to hers, a comforting, tender embrace. The warmth enveloped her, made her feel stronger.
"Maddy," he whispered into her ear. "Why did you go it alone these past two months? Why didn't you say anything to your parents or to me or to anyone else?"
"Mark," her tears were slowing down now, but she still heaved violently with each breath. "I…I felt so…ashamed of it…I just…I didn't want anyone to…to judge me…and I was afraid that you'd…be mad…" she finished.
His hands moved to cradle her head now, gently guiding it downwards to lean on his shoulder. "Maddy you know me better than that. You were protecting the people you love. How could I ever be mad at you for that?"
"He took…my…he stole it…I felt so disgusted with myself…" she sobbed out.
"Well don't," he told her firmly, his hand grabbing hers and lacing their fingers. "Because it isn't anything you did. It was that dirty bastard who robbed you," his eyes darkened at the mention. His heart broke, not because she wouldn't be his and his alone, but because something like this had happened in his absence. It seemed that every time she found herself in a desperate situation, he was unable to help her through it.
The moon was now fully up, casting its pale light upon the two of them. Mark looked up and down Maddy's arms, exposed due to her short sleeves. As his eyes casually searched her for any visible signs of damage, he was startled. He grabbed her arm and flipped it over gently, revealing many marks on them in the white light. "Maddy, what're these?" His blue eyes were now blazing with worry as he looked up at her face. She hid her eyes again, shrinking into herself as she began to cry once more. "Maddy!" he was practically shouting at her now. "Maddy, what happened here?"
"I'm sorry…Mark!" she finally burst, trying to shrink away from his firm but loving touch.
With one hand still holding onto her wrist and the other reaching up and stroking her cheek, he asked, "Where did these scars come from?" He was afraid of her answer.
"I…I didn't…know what to do, Mark…" her voice was thick. "I just…I was…so angry with myself…"
"Oh God, Maddy!" he released his grip on her hand, instead wrapping his arms around her shoulder and hugging her close. "Maddy, why did you do something like this?"
"I'm sorry," she repeated breathlessly. "I just…I couldn't…"
He was now in agony over what trauma she had been dealt. "I'm sorry too," he told her. "I should have noticed before. This is my fault."
"Don't say that!" she cried out through her tears.
"I promised to protect you, Maddy! I just…I'm sorry. I'm sorry I failed you."
"You didn't fail me, Mark," it was her turn to assume the tender tone, even through all of her hysterics. "You're still the only person I trust with all of…this…"
"Why didn't you tell me sooner? We could have made things right!"
"I was too scared," she shook her head, her hand coming up to wipe away the last of her tears. "I was too scared of what you'd say."
"Well, you know what I say?" he asked her, his tone compassionate.
"What?" her eyes shyly met his.
"I say that I love you, Maddy Shannon. And I say that no matter what happens I will always love you. Always." It was a promise he had every intention of keeping.
A/N: I don't know what possessed me to write this, just a thought that perhaps in all the turmoil there was a possibility that something awful could have happened. Again, I want to stress that this is entirely AU and I don't expect it to be consistent with the canon (nor do I ever hope it becomes consistent). But I really wanted to capture Mark's devotion to her, even in such a dark time. So please leave a review. Thank you!