Mark North leaned over the railing that had been put in to stop passersby from falling into the local river. His fingers were intertwined and his head was facing down. He wondered what John Luther had gotten him into. Again. He didn't even know why he still took John's calls. While the two had grown rather close after losing Zoe, he still couldn't figure out exactly why he continued to let John into his life. He often wondered if he was using John as a replacement for Zoe. Perhaps having John Luther in his life was like having a piece of Zoe back. It was twisted the more he thought about it.
The breeze of the day and the rushing sound of water calmed Mark as he continued to wait. John had called him about an hour ago asking if they could meet. Mark had asked John why he wanted to see him, but in the usual Luther style, he gave no answers and only let on that it was urgent and important.
Urgent and important. That seemed to be all anything was in John Luther's life. The man never seemed to slow down, and to be honest, it made Mark's head spin. No wonder Zoe turned to another man. Being in John Luther's life required thick skin and a seat belt. But what did that say about Mark? Had Zoe found him… boring? Mark often wondered if Zoe had found him safe, had found him easy, and that's why she stuck around. Mark was the complete opposite of John Luther, and maybe that's exactly what she had needed when she fell into his arms.
Suddenly Mark heard a car pull up behind him. He turned around and saw John Luther in the driver's seat. Mark began to walk towards the car when he noticed that John was not alone. There, in the passenger's seat was a woman.
"Alice?" Mark thought to himself, but dismissed that thought quickly once he remembered she was long gone and would be a fool to show her face here where she was wanted by the police.
John opened the door and got out of the car. The woman stayed in the vehicle.
The two men stood staring at one another. John began rubbing the back of his head as if he didn't know how to say what he needed to tell Mark.
"What's going on?" Mark asked, looking past John at the woman in the car. He didn't have time for John to tiptoe around the reason he was here.
"I need a favor, Mark," John finally said.
"A favor?" Mark laughed. He was never thrilled about John's favors. "I don't want to be a part of anymore of your problems, John." The smile faded from his face. He needed to let John know he was serious this time, and while he may have helped him out in the past, it was time for Mark's life to settle back down. It was time for him to be boring again.
"I wouldn't ask if I thought I had a better option," John replied, his eyes squinting as he briefly turned around to look at the woman in the car.
"Who is she?" Mark asked. As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew he had invited himself in to this problem and there was probably no way of turning back.
"She's someone who's in a lot of trouble if we don't find her a place to stay and hide." John's voice was calm and matter of fact. Mark had always wondered why John seemed to work backwards. Whenever he had confronted Zoe, John lost control. Yet, whenever John was faced with a difficult work situation, he couldn't have more control. Luther was a puzzle all right.
"Hide? From who?"
Mark was confused. John wasn't exactly a social butterfly. He didn't know how he could know this woman who was in trouble.
"John, you expect me to help you out, but you're not explaining anything at all. Who exactly is she? Why does her husband want to hurt her? How do you know her?"
John sighed. "I don't know her. Well, I mean, I didn't know her until about an hour ago."
Mark furrowed his brow. So she was another one of John's lost puppies.
"Listen, I was walking down the street minding my own business. All of a sudden I hear her screaming. I couldn't just ignore it. So I knocked down their door and saw her asshole of a husband standing over her with his fist raised. She was lying on the floor helpless!"
"You just broke in to a house and stole her away, John?!" Mark asked in disbelief. While it seemed outlandish, it did still seem like something John would do.
"I didn't steal her, Mark. She came along willingly. I couldn't just leave her there."
Mark sighed and turned around to face the river once more while rubbing his forehead with one hand. There it was, John Luther saving the day once again. Except with John, it was "act now, work out the details later", and sometimes that came back to bite him right in the ass.
"Why can't you bring her to a woman's shelter?"
John chuckled back darkly. "As we were leaving, Mark, her husband yelled out 'I've got friends that can find you in a second, bitch!', so no, Mark, I can't bring her there. That's the first place they'd look. She told me she doesn't have any family here and this man already knows what I look like. I can probably already expect a visit from him and his goons in the next few days."
"Why me, John? Don't you have any other friends?" Mark's eyes pleaded with John, already knowing the answer to that question. In that moment, John realized just how much he was affecting Mark's life by dragging him into these situations. But he also knew there were only a handful of people he trusted, and Mark was one of them.
"You do this for me, Mark, and you're out after it's all done."
"Out? With what?"
"Out with me, with all of this, with everything."
Mark sighed as he stared into John's eyes. He seemed sincere enough. Mark then looked over to the car again. The woman had been looking down the whole time.
"Does she need to go to the hospital or anything?" Mark finally asked.
"I knew you'd be the man to help," Luther smiled, giving his shoulder a pat. "And, no. The husband's probably already called all the area hospitals to let him know if she shows up. Besides, right now it just looks like it's going to be bruises and cuts. Nothing's broken. Well, this time at least…"
"How long is she going to need to stay with me?"
"I'm not sure, Mark. Indefinitely."
"Mark! The poor woman has nowhere to go. Listen, I'll try to figure something else out, but in the meantime, will you please just help me, her, out? She doesn't have any family around here and I feel responsible for her at this point. I'm not gonna leave the poor woman to deal with this herself."
There was a brief pause between the two before Mark walked past John and headed to the car. He carefully opened the passenger door and crouched down so he was at the woman's level.
"Hello there, I'm Mark North and you're going to be going home with me. I've got a spare bed and you'll be safe."
Mark could see the woman's tear stained cheek and red eyes. Her strawberry blond hair was held loosely in a ponytail that had obviously been messed around with in the scuffle. She lightly sniffed and forced a quick smile as she turned to look at Mark.
"Thank you," she said quietly.
Mark stood and moved back so she could get out of the car. The woman moved her legs out of the car slowly, her face twisting in pain.
"Are you okay? Do you need help?" Mark asked, quickly rushing to her side.
Luther appeared at her other side, wrapping his arm around her back, helping her to stand up.
"I'm a bit useless right now, I'm afraid," the woman muttered quietly, accompanied with a small laugh, attempting to lighten the mood.
Mark could now see she had a gash on her other cheek. It wasn't deep enough to require stitches, but deep enough to cause a stare. The two men helped her make her way to Mark's car, and they then gently set her in the seat. Mark crouched into the car so he could put her seatbelt on for her, being careful not to touch her body as he assumed every bit of her was searing with pain.
"By the way, what's your name?" he asked, flashing a smile at her as the buckled the belt in.
"Gwenyth," she said.
"It's nice to meet you, Gwenyth. We'll be home in a bit." He then shut the door.
He walked over to Luther who was standing nearby.
"I'll keep in touch. I won't come and check on you both for a while because I don't want anyone tracking me. But, I'll… I'll be in touch."
"What am I supposed to do with her?"
"Mark, listen, right now, she just needs somewhere she can feel safe. Let her rest, and if she starts talking about wanting to leave, you call me right away."
"Sounds a bit like a hostage situation," Mark remarked.
"It's often far too easy for a victim to decide they want to go back to the abuser, Mark. I'm not going to let that happen." Luther then turned around and walked back to his vehicle. He quickly scanned the area to make sure no one was watching, then got in the rickety car and drove away.
Mark looked back out to the river. He decided he would come here more often. It had been calming up to the moment John Luther arrived. He then made his way into the car, turned the ignition on, and began his trip to drive him and his new flatmate home.