Jump to content

Recommended Posts

April 2016 

Mark and Nina's house 

Near Freedom City


Mark caught the look on Nina's face and closed the box - and suddenly realized he'd always associate the smell of tsebhi and taita with this moment. "Or, hm, I can just put this somewhere-" He was pulling the velvet box off the table, ready to put it into his pocket and banish it to some far-off place, when Nina put her hand on his, meeting his gaze imploringly. 


"What would our lives be like if I was your wife?" She asked him, with the air of a woman who knew the answer to the question before she asked it, but Mark was too honest to tell her anything other than what he'd been thinking. 


"We'd live in the house - keep the apartment in Geneva. We'd go on working for the UN, and keep trying to make things better for Socotra. Maybe in a few years we'd have kids, when we're both ready-" He fell silent again, the intense look on Nina's face taking his words. 


"Mark, listen to me." Nina squeezed his hand with both of hers, then reached up and stroked his face. "I love you. And I want to be with you. You don't realize the kind of man you are. But I don't want to spend the rest of my life living in this place." 


Mark looked around the kitchen and said, a little hesitantly, "Well, babe, I can probably make more gold and get us a bigger place if you want-" 


"It's not that." Nina chewed her lip in a way that Mark always thought was very pretty but that now wasn't the time to dwell on it, "Mark, I miss Socotra. I miss being able to talk to people without having to translate every word in my head before I say it. I miss the food, and the art, the music, the sky that's always so blue-" 


Mark interrupted her, his heart pounding in his chest, visions of a future he didn't like at all flashing before him. "What about Iyar and the other people you and Trevor rescued? That's half the people you grew up with right there!" 


"That's not the same thing, Mark!" Nina fired back at him, the water sloshing in their glasses as she struck her hand against the table. "Mark, you have spent your life being tall, and blond, and looking like someone put your name next to American in the dictionary. You can tell me inshallah on the telephone without being stared at by ignorant peasants. You can fly on airplanes and dress however you want without worrying that some fat American tourist is going to tell a hideous old German flight attendant that you 'look suspicious' and find yourself having to call your boyfriend so you can cross an international border!"


The incident, as they called it, hadn't gotten any better even over a year later. And why would it, really? The intervention of the most powerful superhuman in Europe had gotten an apology from Lufthansa - and only made Nina angrier at her place in the world. Mark stared at her, his face going hot for a moment. "Babe, if you want us to move out of Freedom City, we can do that. I speak like four languages, and I can just pop in here for Liberty League stuff and emergencies. Hell, my mom is more than ready to move now that she's retired. But where do you want us to go?" 


Nina took a breath - and after years of thinking, and months of planning, spoke. "Mark...I want to marry you. I want you to be my husband. In the name of God, I even want to have children with you - can you imagine what they'll be like?" She smiled, quickly, a habit she'd picked up from him. "But I want to marry you in the Grand Mosque of Socotra - as its Queen." She reached across the table, past the supper Mark had made for her, and took his hands again. "You know that my father's rule has to end. And that the people of Socotra need a leader." 


"I do," said Mark, his voice tight. "But why does it have to be you? You were the one who told me what a monster your father was for pitting you and your siblings against each other! Treating your lives like a game!" 


"Because it is my duty to rule. I spent my life at the top of a very small pyramid. living off the work, the toil, the blood, of other people. They deserve something more than me running away to America to be a superhero. They deserve someone who can lead them out of the darkness. And I don't think I can do that without you, Mark. And that's not because of what you do with your power - it's because of what you _don't_ do with your power. I need you to be my partner on this - so I can be your partner in the other things." 


"...all right. All right." Mark rose to his feet and walked away, standing and looking out the sliding glass window of the living room, out at the wine-dark sea. Nina came up behind him, putting her hand on the small of his back. Mark thought of himself, a good half-foot-taller than most of the Socotrans he'd met, and almost a whole foot taller than Nina. "Okay. But I'm not giving up my job. Either of them," he turned and looked down at her. "And I'm not going to lie to an imam, so you need to figure out what to tell them about why I'm getting married in a mosque." 


"It'll be all right," Nina assured him, rising up on her tiptoes to kiss his mouth. "After all - they'll work for me." They kissed again - long and deep, and didn't talk about politics for a while.


The next morning, Nina put on the ring. 

Link to comment
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...