DISCLAIMER: I do not own Body of Proof nor any characters from the series, and intend no copyright infringement.
This story is for Mark Valley fans. Rumor has it he will be joining the cast of BODY OF PROOF early next year (2013). He will play Tommy Sullivan, an old love of Megan Hunt's, who "broke her heart" 20 years ago.
This is my take on who Sullivan was and where he spent some of those years. It is based strictly on my own imagination, since I can't find any 'official' data on this character. It is also something of a story fragment, which I may augment at some later date if there is sufficient interest.
My thanks to fellow writer Viniceit for the tip on Mark Valley.
Five Years Ago
Here he was, NYPD's Detective First Grade Tommy Sullivan, driving a rented Ticket-Me-Red Mustang along a stretch of Arizona State Route 80. Ahead, a cattle truck doing maybe twenty-three MPH on the downgrades led a line-up of at least a dozen cars unable to pass it on the narrow, twisting two-lane roadway. He should have been flying into Philadelphia. Where he might happen to run into Megan Hunt.
Fifteen years ago, he mused, he and Dr. Hunt were an item. A very hot item.
She wasn't Dr. Hunt then, and he had many years to go before attaining the rank of Detective.
He never meant to break her heart. He was crazy about her. She'd loved him.
Sullivan breathed a sigh of relief when the cattle truck - finally - turned onto a dirt road leading God knew where. The blacktop ran parallel a mostly dry river bed where huge trees, their leaves already turning gold, marked the watercourse. As did a railroad track. From time to time he caught a glimpse of rails flashing in the sun. He turned off the air conditioner, lowered the windows, and took a deep breath of clean, smog-free air still faintly tainted with cattle dung.
As he stepped on the gas and the Mustang surged forward in response, his thoughts returned to the events that had destroyed a very promising and mutually satisfying relationship.
"I'm pregnant," Megan told him. "You're the father."
He panicked. Ran straight to the nearest Marine recruiting office and signed up.
My finishing college can wait, he'd thought as he as he scrawled his name on the dotted line. This way, at least I'll be able to put food on the table. Megan can get her degree. When I get out, I'll have the GI bill and some damn good training to back it up.
Now, of course, he understood why she reacted as she did. She viewed his enlistment as abandoning her and the baby-to-be. A convenient means of evading his responsibilities. She refused to listen when he tried to explain his reasoning. Slammed the door behind her as she stormed from his apartment.
A few days later when the pregnancy scare proved false, she'd come to his apartment, let herself in with the key she hadn't returned, and caught him in flagrante dilicto with some bimbo whose name he'd long since forgotten.
This time, Megan left the key behind, along with some choice observations of Sullivan's character and morals. She ignored his phone calls, his e-mail, the flowers and candy he'd sent. When he left for boot camp at Parris Island, she didn't come to see him off. Returned his letters unopened.
So, he got on with his life. Without her. Besides, he was far too young to tie himself down to just one woman. Out of sight, he told himself, out of mind.
For the most part.
He read about her from time to time, in JAMA or the New England Journal of Medicine. If a buddy caught him reading those publications rather than Playboy or Stars and Stripes, he professed amazement he'd somehow picked up such a peculiar magazine.
After eight distinguished years in the Marines, he returned to New York City. He made a few inquiries. Looked up a few old friends. Learned that Megan had found someone else. He was filling out an application to join the New York Police Department when the first hijacked plane crashed into the Twin Towers.
Still something of a hot-head, and from time to time called on the carpet for his overzealousness, he nevertheless progressed rapidly in rank. But he was growing weary of New York. His new captain, Elwood Phelps, was a pain in the ass. Shortly before he was due for promotion to Detective First Grade, he began making half-serious inquiries about a transfer. Like, maybe, to Philadelphia, or one of the city's neighboring villages.
NYPD had recently resumed a cooperative training program designed to give small town or rural investigators a taste of big city policing. In return, New York detectives were sent to fill in for the visiting officer and learn something about how smaller agencies kept law and order in their jurisdictions. Sullivan signed up.
Told nothing was available this side of the Mississippi, he withdrew the application. So the last thing he expected when he was summoned to Captain Phelps' office yesterday was to be told he was going to….
He couldn't believe his ears. It sounded as if Captain Phelps had just said 'Tombstone'.
"Tombstone, Arizona," Captain Phelps repeated, allowing just the tiniest of smirks to twist his normally bland features.
"You're kidding. Isn't that where that crazy Sam McCloud hailed from? The one who always wore a sheepskin coat and a Stetson? The one who snatched a mounted officer's horse t run down a - "
"That was a long time ago. And it was Taos, New Mexico, not Tombstone, Arizona."
"He shot up a roulette table at Red Hot Ruby's - "
"They're illegal, so he did everyone a favor. Look, Sullivan, McCloud was a wild card. We don't expect anyone like him to show up, and even if it happens, it doesn't affect you. Besides, he solved quite a few cases before he went home."
"The way I heard it, he was a thorn in just about everybody's side. And I heard the man we sent there was still picking cactus spines out of his ass three weeks after he got home. He walks bow-legged to this day. No thanks. I have no desire to go chase bad guys out where the buffalo roam."
"You'll mainly be there to observe and learn. From what I understand, Tombstone's right in the middle of a drug pipeline leading up from Mexico. They have some pretty interesting techniques for nabbing smugglers."
"Like what, Apache scalp-hunters? Look, Captain, I'm a city boy. I'm not cut out for dodging cactus and rattlesnakes." Not to mention spiders the size of dinner plates that he'd heard could be found anywhere the deer and the antelope played. He suppressed a shudder.
"Sorry to hear that, Tommy. Still, it can't be as bad as all that. Nothing an ex-Marine can't handle."
Sullivan knew good and well Phelps wasn't the least bit sorry. In fact, Phelps had probably deliberately ignored his request to withdraw from the program.
"You've been making noises about a transfer. Tombstone's man is already on his way here. So you're going, like it or not. Your flight leaves tomorrow morning. Pick up your tickets at my secretary's desk on your way out."