[Battle of the Planets] Jason has a bad habit of falling for the wrong person. This time he manages it in a rather spectacular manner Set before, during and after the episode "The Alien Bigfoot"
His own heart had been breaking for his best friend, who, in that moment when Zoltar had been unmasked, had obviously been struck to the very soul. Jason had tried to hide it, but Mark knew better. He knew all the ways his friend hid when he was deeply hurt.
He didn't know why it had affected Jason like it had, but was determined to find out.
He perched in a tree, watching as the other man listlessly leaned against the tree, tossing rocks into the stream. He could see why Jason was drawn here, the serenity and beauty of the place soothing.
Mark was about to drop down when he heard somebody approaching. Turning, he saw a tall, slender blond man walking towards Jason.
"I knew I'd find you here."
Jason spun to face him, feather poised. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you here and now."
The other man smiled sadly. "Because you can't. Just like I can't kill you, my Dearling. I've come alone, you know. I needed to see you again, Dearling. To tell you how much I do love you."
Jason grabbed the other and slammed him against the tree, shuriken at his throat. "Don't call me that," he snarled. "It's just another one of your lies, Zoltar." His voice broke at the last word. His heart had broken at Zoltar's first words, and his resolve had crumbled at his confession of love.
Mark nearly fell off his perch, and shifted his weight to drop down. This was his chance to capture Zoltar. His next words, however, stopped him in his tracks.
Zoltar shook his head and caressed Jason's face lovingly. "Not about that, Jason. I didn't lie about loving you. I can't change what I feel, any more than you can. Nor can we change what we are, Jason. Falling in love with you was...," he paused and sighed. "The biggest mistake and the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me." He leaned over and kissed him softly. "By loving you, I knew that I put you in danger. If my sister or the Spirit found out, we would both have been dead. Now do you understand why I resisted you? Why I wanted you to be sure? Please believe me when I say that you are the most important thing in my life. To know I've hurt you tears my heart out. To know that I have to leave you, to live my life without you..." he smiled ruefully. "Jason, if G-Force had thought for a thousand millennia, you couldn't think up a better way to torture me. I am forever empty without you. I came here alone to see you, to tell you, and, if you wanted, to let you kill me."
Jason stumbled backwards, eyes filled with tears. "And how do you think I felt when I realised that of all people, I'd fallen in love with Zoltar?"
Tal shook his head. "You love me?" he asked, bemused; yet his soul was filled with a soaring joy.
"Enough that you're still alive now. Enough that I'll not come after you, nor will I tell anybody else where to find you. If you leave now, and never come near me again. I can't kill you, Tal. Not unless you kill me as well."
Tal stepped forward, and the two joined in a final embrace. "Always remember, Dearling, you love Tal, not Zoltar. Tal is who I really am, and Tal is the one who will always love you. Zoltar is the name the Great Spirit gave me when he raised me to power. Tal is who I was born. The fact that you love me is the most precious thing anybody has ever given me. I love you, Jason. With all that I am." He stepped away, tears flowing freely. "Goodbye, my Dearling," he said and ran off. In the tree, Mark remained frozen, struck by what he had seen and heard, unable to give chase to Zoltar. Frozen by the knowledge that their greatest enemy had been willing to let Jason kill him, because he loved him.
And knowing that same love left Jason unable to take that advantage.
He didn't want to take advantage of the pain of his best friend, and was in awe of the depth of love that Jason was capable of. He hoped he would never be asked the sort of sacrifice that Jason had.
The sorrow he felt for his friend deepened and he finally dropped to the ground next to Jason who had fallen, his body heaving with the force of his sobbing. Mark had never seen Jason this visibly upset, and knew that in certainty, if the leaving had caused Zoltar pain, it was also causing incomparable pain to Jason. He wrapped his arms around his friend, offering comfort and love and Jason clung tightly.
The storm of sobs subsided and Jason looked up at Mark. "How long?"
"Since the beginning. I followed you here to try to find out what was wrong."
"Well now you know," said Jason bitterly. "Good to see that my track record with Spectran's has run true to form. And in a spectacular way. Why didn't you take advantage of this and get Zoltar?"
Mark hugged him tighter. "We can't help who we love," he said softly, "and I'm not going to take advantage of you like that. I'm not going to ask you to betray somebody you love. Even if that somebody is Zoltar."
"Mark, I've completely fucked up this time. I fell in love with fucking Zoltar! So not only do you have a poof for a second, but he's in love with the enemy."
Mark looked at Jason. "I've got a strong, capable second, who's just proven himself stronger and braver than I could ever be. The only problem I have with him is that he's often a complete and utter idiot who thinks the worst of himself at the most inconvenient times."
He put his arm around his friend's shoulders. "Zoltar was right, by the way. You fell in love with Tal, not Zoltar. And from what I could see, Tal knew just how lucky he was to have you."
"He lied to me the whole time. Even at the end, he lied."
"You lied to him too, Jase."
"But not like that, Mark."
"If I was the most important thing in his life, why'd he go and leave me alone? Why does everybody I love leave me alone?"
With that, Jason, the one who kept everything inside, who let the world see nothing, broke down completely and let himself be comforted by his best friend. Mark's heart dropped as he heard the question. He knew the answer, because it was the same answer that he gave himself whenever he saw that same question in a pair of green eyes.
For the first time, he fully understood a part of Zoltar, and felt a measure of respect for him. He couldn't tell Jason the answer, couldn't compound the hurt.
But Mark knew that, as a Leader, ultimately, the way to keep the person you loved most safe, was to deny your heart, and leave them alone.
Even if the pain was more than either could bear.
He rested his head on Jason's, his own tears now coming swiftly, for Jason, for Tal and for himself and Princess. Hearts left hurting, all to keep those they loved safe.
This secret would remain hidden. It hurt too much to let it out.
But now, Mark had one more reason to destroy Zoltar. Jason pulled away and they stood. Mark looked into his eyes and his heart sank.
The storm that had raged had gone, leaving steel. Mark knew for sure that Jason would never forget this.
And that when Jason did kill Zoltar, he would take his own life as well.
And that was another secret that Mark would keep.