It was a little over eleven years ago that I first met Tyger. It was between Lace & Steel matches at the Hyperdome Arena. He and his partner, Nathan Carpenter, were trying to track this guy named Andrew Dumas down. I knew Dumas. He was basically the typical scum you get at places like the Hyperdome. He was trying to make arrangements with my then manager, Lucien St. Croix.
Neither Nathan nor Tyger were in uniform. In fact, the way Tyger was dressed that night, I could have sworn he was just something... anything else, but a cop. Nathan flashed his badge, and Lucien panicked. He told me and Cyndi to take care of Nathan and his pet. I was only too happy to oblige.
While Lucien ran for the hills, Dumas tried to do the same thing.
I still don't know how Tyger got around me that easily. He was fast, and I had never seen anybody outside of the Arena move that quickly. At least until I signed on with XSWAT. He took down Andrew, but he left himself open. I had my orders and my wrench, so I clocked him in the back of the head.
Now, I know I hit him pretty hard. I know he was seeing stars too. He had to have been. But he should have been out like a light. He tried to say something, but I didn't hear him. Nor did I really care either. Like I said, I had my orders. So, when he tried to get up, I hit him again, this time square in the back between his shoulder blades. A hit like that should have knocked the wind out of him, put him down. That fuzzy bastard was still moving! And boy was he mad.
I should have realized I was in over my head when Nathan flashed his badge the first time. It wasn't the normal PD badge that he carried. I also should have noticed that Nathan carried a sword. What kind of cop carries a sword?!? An XSWAT Cop, that's what. I just didn't realize how far I had gone, what line I had took a flying leap over until I was staring down the barrel of Tyger's gun.
He shot me. That's all I can say about it. I can't blame him.
Being a fighter in the Lace & Steel, I am no stranger to pain. But when the energy bolt it me, it was a type of pain I had never felt before or since. In rapid succession, he shot me a total of three times. After hearing about how good of a shot he was, I guess I can count myself lucky that I did not upset him that much, because he could have easily put a shot between my eyes. Thankfully, he didn't.
I thought I was going to die that night. I really did. In my years of fighting in the Lace & Steel, I had never, ever been hurt as badly as that gun hurt me.
I had a change of heart that night. A lot of it had to do with what Nathan did while Tyger put the cuffs on Andrew. I still don't know what Nathan did to me that night. I do not think I ever really will. What I do know, is that he pointed me in the right direction. He showed me that the path I was on was not a good one. He helped me see that. Later that night, Tyger did too.
The second time I laid eyes on Tyger, was the same night he put me into the hospital. I was doped up on medication, but I was coherent. The doctors said I was going to be fine and I had a lot of visitors. I don't think Cyndi ever left my side if she could help it.
I remember Cyndi waking me up, telling me that I had a visitor. Imagine my surprise when I was face to face with the same guy who put me in there in the first place! I remember the first words out of his mouth: "I don't want to hurt you." Of course I was skeptical, but I heard him out. Between his initial apology and what Nathan had done, well, I had to say something as also.
That started the first of many arguments that he and I would have over something silly. Stupid blockhead couldn't get the fact that I was trying to apologize to him too! Oh well.
The three of us talked for what seemed like hours. I learned a lot about my husband that night. A lot more than what I cared to know at the time, but I'm glad I did. I learned that he had a long past of pain, prejudice and torment. Not just from XSWAT, but from him trying to live life. We all get short end of the stick at different points of our lives. His always seemed to be more like the business end of Rover's chew-toy more often than not.
And yet... he wasn't pissed off at the world for it. Most people would be. He wasn't though. He hated himself more than anything. I saw that right off the bat. That was the first thing that had to be changed...
It was kind of funny then. And even now it still is when I think back, sitting there in the hospital bed. Before we changed each other's lives like we did... he told me something that even now still makes me blush. He told me that if I had not hit him... had things gone just a little different... and after he had Andrew in cuffs, he had every intent of asking me out! I was shocked of course! I still am, even to this day, eleven years later. But there was something in the way he said it that told me he meant it. And that he was not afraid of a possible rejection.
Our first real date was the day after he got out of the hospital... that alone is one heck of a story. Anyway, he picked me up on his motorcycle and we went around Beta Sector. It was nothing romantic, and Tyger seemed more out of place than anything else, but he genuinely tried. He made me feel wanted.
During that first visit in the hospital, Tyger made Cyndi and I an offer. An offer we took with conditions. He offered to have Director Cadbury talk to us, perhaps pull some strings and get our records taken care of... in exchange for serving on XSWAT. Tyger hated XSWAT, and though he said he hated Alice, he didn't. He didn't hate XSWAT either.
So before we shook hands on the deal, Tyger promised to stick it out in XSWAT and do the right thing. In return, me and Cyndi talk to Alice Cadbury and we sign up to become full-blown XSWAT officers.
I remember the day that I signed the documents, and I remember the day I graduated from the academy. Tyger was there for both.
I can't tell you when I fell in love with my husband, or perhaps I should say; I do not know when I realized that I did love him. I also do not know when he decided that he loved me. What I do know is that it was sometime after his first, well, actually his second, trip into Omega Sector. He came out of it a little banged up, but not really worse for wear... except for the fact that he lost his 'baby'.
I swear, sometimes, he could be such a child about that dammed mecha!
But it was for the best, I think. Losing the Blue Steel Special was painful, but it also let him focus on other things. Like me. Oh, he still gets all giddy and stupid over the latest mechanized monstrosities and technological terrors that come out. It's cute. But he has somehow managed to put it in perspective too.
Thinking back on it, I think I realized that Tyger loved me before he actually told me himself. He had always treated me with respect and kindness. Since I moved to Angelus, I had been in several relationships... none of them good enough worth mentioning. Tyger was different.
I won't say that he was not interested in me for my looks. That would be stupid to even consider, just like I will never admit that I was not interested because of his. Tyger is an attractive man, all things considered, clade or not. But he was different than the other men I have had in my life. Most men would have tried to get me in bed by the third date, and would have scoffed at the thought of waiting longer than a month. Tyger didn't. I don't know why, but he didn't. He stuck it out until I was ready, and that made it all the better. Tyger and I have never had sex. Not once. To say that we 'had sex' would seem to... depreciate... what he and I share. What we have shared.
Although, my toes still curl when I so much as think about his tongue. Up until our first time together, I sometimes wondered why the rich and affluent women of the world and Angelus had Companion type clades. Even though pleasure and companionship were the absolute last things that Tyger was built for, he satisfied those curiosities and so much more. In his case, he seems to like it when I dress up in my old Lace & Steel getup. For me, well sometimes, when he comes home after a rough patrol, looking for all the world like... no pun intended, something the cat dragged in, I can't contain myself. I guess it is knowing that, despite his tenderness and loving kindness to me, he is still a rough and tumble troublemaker, that sets me off like that. Like I said, my toes still curl when I think about some of the things he does to me...
... I need to change the subject...
Anyway, I always found it funny, and I still do ten years later, that he is quite protective over me. Not in an overbearing, territorial way, nor in a way that he wanted to shield me from the world like most men would. I'm a big girl, and he knew that from the beginning. He knows that even now, not that I ever let him forget it. But he never left my side if he could help it. That, and his utter determination to keep a promise. That is why I love him.
I remember when he proposed to me. It still brings tears to my eyes. He had to make another trip into Omega Sector. As if the first one didn't have me worried enough! That crazy bastard! God, I don't know what I would have done if I would have lost him that time. After his second trip with the 9th Squad, he almost didn't make it. Oh god, I remember seeing him laying in that hospital bed. I tried to take my eyes off of his destroyed arm, his ruined uniform. I could not bear knowing that he almost did not come back to me.
Despite all the pain he just had to be in, he still smiled. Dammit, he smiled! I was so angry right then. How could he have been gone for so long, lose most of his arm and lay in that bed like that just waiting like that and just smile to me as if everything was alright! He took my hands as well as he could. I had a hard time trying to stay as strong as he was. It just tore me apart seeing him looking like that. And then he asked me. I was speechless. That bastard had the balls to ask me that question while he was practically on his own deathbed! Part of me wanted to kick him and ask him what took him so long.
I had my doubts of course. I knew, that although he would never hurt me again, his history of violence would get him into a lot of trouble if he kept it up. Worse still, I knew that if I married him while he was still in XSWAT, it would not be the last time I would see him like that.
I told him I had my doubts. I did not want to say 'No', but it would just hurt too much to see him put into prison because of his attitude or to see him in a coffin because he was trying to be a hero. What came out of his mouth will stay with me for the rest of my life: "You taught me that there's more to life than mecha and the 'Great Blue Yonder'. There's dances, and bars, parties, Christmas, and other stuff. But most importantly, there's a woman who cares about me and has accepted me for who I am; whether I'm a troublemaker or the best XSWAT officer this city has. But I'd give it all up if I had to. It wouldn't be easy. But I'd do it and I wouldn't think twice about it if that meant givin' you that peace of mind."
I told him that he wasn't allowed to give up. He was never allowed to give up on anything. My husband showed me something new that day. He showed me that he was willing to sacrifice everything that he held dear, his mecha, XSWAT, his friends, everything. He was willing to walk away from everything just for me. I tried to hold my tears back. I couldn't. I knew how important those things were to him, but he told me just how much more important I was.
Internally, I tried to refuse. Because I knew that things would get worse for Angelus before they got better back then. I knew that if those riots kept getting worse, that he would eventually end up in a body bag. Despite my fears, I could not refuse that man.
He promised me that he would make me the happiest woman alive. And like all of his promises he has made to me, he's kept it.
I had to leave Angelus just before things started getting really bad. I was not running away mind you. Far from it actually. I had to get my ex-husband to sign his half of the divorce papers. Yeah, I was married before I met Tyger. I thought I loved him, and for a time, while back in Kentucky, I thought I still did. He is everything Tyger is not: rich, polite, athletic, an artist and is quite good looking. He has a very nice home near a lake... complete with a dog. Any woman marrying him would be set for life and have the perfect, boring marriage with a perfect, boring husband.
I left the quiet life in Kentucky to get away. I came to Angelus because it was everything Kentucky was not. It gave me excitement, a rush of adventure and danger. I couldn't get enough of it. I think that was one reason why I joined the Lace & Steel. I know that is what attracted me to Tyger. He was... is a bit of a scoundrel, loud, brash and dangerous to himself and everyone around him. Yes, my ex could give me anything I ever wanted. Except adventure. He could not offer me any thrill in my life. Sometimes, just being with Tyger, I got that thrill.
When I had almost forgotten about why I left my ex, and why I had fallen in love with Tyger, I remembered some of the fun times he and I had. Like, when the 9th Squad went on vacation to Rio. Yes, my ex could have taken me to Rio as well... But he would not have been in the middle of a conspiracy to start another Van Goren incident. Tyger also took me on a cruise. Yeah, my ex could have taken me on any number of cruises... but there would be no way in HELL that we would have gone anywhere near a pirate city. I would never seen a mecha-arena fight in action either. I would not have been in such danger, or be at the source of such excitement. There were other little things too... like that time Tyger swiped an XSWAT spinner and took me on a joyride date all over Angelus that ended with us making love parked at the top of some skyscraper in Alpha Sector.
There is no way I could have had that kind of fun with anybody else.
I had thought about returning to my ex-husband. I really did. Sometimes, even now, I wonder what it would be like. Sometimes, even now, I regret it. I would be lying if I said I didn't. But I think about what I have here, what Tyger has done and what he means to me... I know I made the right choice. I know that if I had the perfect husband, in the perfect town, in the perfect house... I would be bored out of my mind. With all of Tyger's faults, with the danger that he and I face and have faced as officers of XSWAT, and living in a city as far from perfect as Angelus is, I have found my perfect husband. I remember that. And I realize that I have no regrets.
After I had returned to Angelus, I found a lot of it in ruins. I heard about everything, from XSWAT being disbanded and 9th Squad being made enemies of the state... I still think Tyger had more to do with that than he is telling me. He is the only person I know who could look back on something like that and laugh about it like it was some sort of accomplishment. I heard about how Alice Cadbury sacrificed herself to stop the flow of Entities into Angelus. I learned about the part that Jamadagni Renuka played, about what Richard Hemelshot and Nathan Carpenter did to ensure that things turned out for the better in the end and about how he and Malachi Brogan disassembled a nuclear weapon. I only heard stories about Tyger's fight at The Wall and Rutger Bridge. As much of a braggart Tyger is, that dammed fuzzball never talked about it. He still doesn't. I had to threaten him with the wrench to get him to tell me everything.
I also learned just how important Alice Cadbury was to Tyger. She was the closest thing he ever had to a mother. He even called her mom whenever he spoke of her. So when he asked if it was ok to take that last name and have that put on our marriage papers, I hit him.
It was not until sometime well after our wedding that Tyger's relationship and history with Alice was learned. Over twenty two years ago, after James Masada and Doctor Allen Nevius took over some island in the Caribbean, Alice Cadbury had taken a trip to that island to dispute their actions and try to plea for them to 'find another way'.
After their refusal, Alice took a single zygote. A zygote that was slated to be purged along with countless other 'failed batches'. She began her own program from then on with that lone zygote. An accident at the lab separated Tyger from that lab, and it began his career as a pirate. No wonder Alice was so adamant about recruiting Tyger when he invaded Angelus all those years ago. She was finally reunited with... well... her son... in a manner of speaking. Of course, he was a tool for her to use, but she set the stage for him to grow beyond that and into something so much more. I have no problems, and feel honored to call myself Marcy Cadbury. And I am proud to be married to Lieutenant Tyger Cadbury.
Yes, Lieutenant. A scary thought at times, I know. But he deserves it more than any man I know. It took a lot of work and a lot of string-pulling between XSWAT Director Jamadagni Renuka and myself, to finally get Tyger promoted. He adamantly refused to take an officer rank. He still hates paperwork with a passion. Can't say that I blame him one bit. Eventually he did, but on the condition he would not be stuck behind a desk. As much as it irritates the hell out of me sometimes, Tyger is still out there hitting the streets as often as possible.
Something else that still irritates the hell out of me, is that as much as my husband has grown up, he is still such a child, with a child's ambitions. I learned that the hard way well into our first year of marriage. He jumped into his Blue Steel Zero and challenged Tank McNamara to another match, this time for real, and this time for the Number Nine spot in the Supreme Ten.
After Tyger won, Tank wanted to know what had happened to the AM-66 he'd given Tyger after their first fight. Tyger told him "I lost it." I don't care what you say... you don't just lose an 8 ton suit of power armor! I told Tank what really happened to it: Rioting was really bad in Angelus, and Tyger felt bad that he had a perfectly good suit of power armor capable of being used to help out, but was only taking up space in the hangar. After all, since he could only use one suit at a time anyway, Tyger donated the mecha to XSWAT. During some of the intense fighting, it was eventually destroyed and used for parts to repair other damaged mecha.
When it came time to collect the winnings, Tyger kept less than five percent, just enough to pay for a short, though somewhat luxurious vacation to celebrate our first anniversary. He donated the rest to a woman who went by the name of 'Madame Red'. Oh, I found out all about Madame Red. I was about ready to kill Tyger when I found out she was the proprietor of a whorehouse. I thought for sure, he was paying off some sort of tab. Boy did I feel bad when I found out that it was all part of another promise he had made:
Some time ago, Tyger caused quite a stir in the Steam Tunnels. He caused a lot of trouble for an underground movement that later replaced Rho Sector with the Clade Nation. He had promised that he would make up the trouble that he caused that night, and true to his word, he gave a sizable portion to one of the leaders of that movement—Madame Red. What was not given to her, he donated to the Nation itself. Tyger only wanted just enough to cover our anniversary vacation and the badge of honor that came with taking the next rank.
When Tank found out about it, he seemed impressed, and I think Tyger went up a couple of levels of respect in his eyes. I know I was impressed.
Over the years, Tyger eventually took Number 8 and then 7. Every successful match saw the same results: a little of the winnings for us, while most of it went to helping the Clade Nation.
I sometimes wonder if that boy ever thinks of himself. Oh, I know he does from time to time, but only on the little things it seems. I think Richard Hemelshot said it best: Tyger is a brash, foul-mouthed loose cannon and is possibly the worst police officer Angelus could put under his command, but he has a heart of gold. Sometimes that makes all the difference.
"C'mon babe! We're gonna be late!"
Marcy looked up from the digital diary she was writing and grinned. "I'm busy. I'll be ready in a few minutes you big fuzzball!"
Tyger muttered something under his breath, not quite loud enough to be heard by his wife.
"Say that again where I can hear it!" Marcy grinned.
"I said you dammed women take forever to do anything!" Tyger grinned, peeking his head into the bedroom, wearing his full dress uniform.
"Quiet you. I've still got the wrench and you know I'm not afraid to use it." Marcy looked over her shoulder with a smile.
Tyger padded over to where Marcy was sitting and wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and nuzzled her neck. She stiffened when she felt his hands reach for her breasts and relaxed with a little moan as he purred into her ear.
"Hey you..." she smirked. "I thought we were supposed to be getting ready to go. We can do that later!" Marcy giggled.
Tyger relaxed his grip and rested his chin on her shoulder lightly. "I know, I know. I just can't help myself sometimes."
"I know." Marcy grinned as she turned to kiss her husband.
"Oh...just girl stuff."
Tyger lifted a brow. "Really? Girl stuff? You? Since when have you been a girl?"
"Oh...YOU!" Marcy punched Tyger in his bicep rather forcefully, causing the him to recoil with a bout of terrible acting, which only made Marcy laugh. "Get the hell outta here you big lug before I clobber you."
Tyger grinned and stepped to his wife and kissed her on the lips. "Alright. I'll get the spinner warmed up. Try not to take too long, alright? I want to get there early."
"Yeah, I know...but a whole hour early? That's not like you at all."
Tyger shrugged his shoulders. "Today's different. I have to stop at a couple of places along the way."
Marcy knew better than to ask. After ten years of this, she was more than used to it by now. "Alright love. I'll hurry."
Overall, it has been an interesting ten years. Oh, they have not all been rainbows and sunshine. Things are not always perfect, and Tyger and I have our spats from time to time. But I can honestly say that these last ten years have been the best years of my life. And I am looking forward to having many more.
Marcy saved and then shut down the digital diary with a smile. It did not take long for her to finish getting dressed into her own dress uniform. She checked herself in the mirror several times before she was satisfied that her Captain's uniform was perfect before walking out the door.