Over the next fifteen years, Marcel Rhodes Miskin grew from a sweet, innocent boy into an passionate, ambitious man. His childhood creations had sparked a lifelong love of art, and he devoted the majority of his schooling to mastering the crafts of painting and sculpture - even getting caught doodling in his Calculus textbook on more than one occasion.
Mac, pleased to see his son pursuing a passion, bought him a professional easel for his thirteenth birthday. From then on, Marcel devoted many an hour to enlivening the canvases he placed upon it - even working into the small hours of the morning. After graduation, he found a job in a local art studio: originally as an apprentice, but soon enough, he was becoming well-known in his own right, and earned a modest income by selling his pieces.
However, although his sensibilities and love of creativity were clearly hallmarks of his Miskin heritage, Marcel also inherited several of his mother's traits. Canvases and paper weren't the only spaces he chose to fill with art. Within a few years, the various tattoos that covered his body outnumbered Roxy's significantly.
Energy and high spirits were another gift of the Rhodes genetics. Having grown up seeing his mother working out and staying fit for her work in the police force, Marcel himself decided to give the gym equipment a try when he hit high school. By the time he turned twenty-one, his slender frame had gained some significant bulk: a combination of a regular exercise regime, and a healthy appetite - courtesy of his father. He was well on his way to becoming an Adonis.
Not only did Marcel look like a Greek god - he loved like one, too. Like Roxy before him, Marcel was brimming with self-confidence. In rare moments when he was lacking artistic inspiration or suffering from sore muscles, he would spend some time in front of the bathroom mirror, practising his best pick-up lines and flirting with his own reflection, like a modern-day Narcissus.
Then again, it wasn't as if Marcel needed to keep himself company. Whilst Mac had always been unlucky in love, there was no shortage of girls willing to spend some quality time by Marcel's side. If his handsome looks weren't enough to win them over, his openness and willingness to discuss the arts and more sensitive subjects were the cherry on the cake. Marcel had more than his fair share of admirers... and indeed, he was eager to get to know as many of them as he could.
As his twenty-fifth birthday drew near, Marcel, after much thought, came up with three key goals he wanted to achieve in life.
Firstly, he wanted to love to excess.
Secondly, he aspired to be one of the greatest artists in history.
And lastly, by either the first method or the second - he intended to become immortal.
As he sat in the office of the Chief of Police, a silver-haired Mackenzie Miskin sighed contently, his head bowed in a modest fashion. The current Chief, Tucker Roberts - Mac had worked under several police chiefs in his time - looked at him from across the desk, his expression a mixture of disappointment, and yet, understanding.
"So... you want to retire."
"Yes, sir. I've been on the Force for a fair few decades now. Let's face it, I'm no spring chicken... and my health isn't the best these days."
Reaching into his jacket pocket, Mac pulled out a small bottle of tablets. Beta-blockers.
"Heart's been giving me gip," he added. "The doctors think it might be time for me to call it a day."
"And you trust their judgement?"
"Absolutely, sir. My father was a doctor, after all."
"Still... you have to laugh. I've survived being shot at point-blank range, and it's a bloody dodgy ticker that takes me out of the game."
Tucker leaned back in his chair.
"What about Rhodes?" he asked. "You're the same age, I believe?"
"Oh, don't worry - she's staying on," Mac replied. "You'd need a string of wild horses to pull her away from this place. Just ask my boy... I brought him up so she could stay here. I think a life of peace and quiet would drive her completely crazy. She's fit as a fiddle, in any case."
"All the same," Tucker said, "it'll be hard to break up such a great team. Professionally, at least."
Mac nodded in agreement - but deep down, he wasn't sure how accurate that statement was anymore. Officially, he and Roxy had been a couple for about fifteen years now, but recently, her behaviour towards him had changed. She seemed to grow nervous whenever he entered the room - although he'd never given her any reason to worry or to fear him. She seemed jumpy - on edge. There were hushed, whispered conversations between her and Marcel... along with strange phone calls at all hours of the day, ones he was never permitted to overhear.
Whatever was on Roxy's mind, it was clearly something that Mac wasn't meant to be a part of.
And that terrified him.
Mac was snapped back out his worrying thoughts by the sound of Tucker clearing his throat.
"Oh - sorry, sir," he said. "Just... things on my mind."
Tucker rose from his seat, and approached Mac.
"Well... it's a shame to lose you, Miskin," he told him, "but I respect your decision. This will be your last week with us. You've given years of your life to this department, and to the safety of this city... and we thank you. You'll be greatly missed, I know."
He reached out his hand. Mac grasped it, and shook it warmly.
As Mac stepped through his front door, he heard the sound of Roxy talking to someone in the kitchen. However, it seemed to be a very one-sided conversation... and Marcel, he knew, was out at his city studio.
"Look, Johnny," Mac heard Roxy say. "I'm trusting you here. You promised me that this would all be sorted out."
Mac was on edge the moment he heard these words. Nervously, he moved towards the kitchen, and peered carefully around the doorway, doing his best to stay out of sight. Out of the corner of one eye, he watched Roxy pacing up and down the tile floor, mobile phone to her ear.
"No," Roxy continued. "I told you... he doesn't know anything, and I'm not telling him. He'll find out when he needs to, understand?"
Mac wasn't sure if this was a side effect of his medicine, but from his hiding place in the other room, he was certain he had just felt his heart stop.
"Listen," Roxy added, "You know how much this means to me. I need to know that you're ready. I'm not a gambling woman, and I don't like screw-ups. Either we do this right, or we don't do it at all. You got it?"
Mac's hand flew to his mouth, stifling a shocked gasp.
"Good," Roxy told her unknown caller. "Look, I've gotta go - he'll be back soon. I'll phone you tomorrow. Take care of yourself."
As Roxy hung up and headed upstairs, Mac felt himself crumpling up into a pile on the living room floor - his heart ripped in half, his soul destroyed. Once again, the actions of Roxy Rhodes had caused floods of tears to flow down his cheeks. Only this would be the last time.
After all, it was obvious to him.
Despite everything they'd been through together over so many years... despite the strong bond of both friendship and love he'd believed they'd shared... Roxy Rhodes was going to leave him.
And he didn't know how the hell he was going to live without her.