Author: BravoExpressions PM
A mini-fic based on the flashback in the season five premiere of Mary in the delivery room before Norah was born. T for language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Friendship - Mary S. & Marshall M. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 18,041 - Reviews: 49 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 05-17-12 - Published: 05-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8114217
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A/N: This is just a little mini story or a 'ficlette' spanning, I believe it's only five chapters. But it's based on the very minimal peek we got inside Mary's delivery room when Norah was born, and how in her memory the part she recalled was when Marshall showed up. I don't love it, and like I said it isn't very long, but I thought I'd put it out there anyway. I am painstakingly trying to churn out some more Sam but it's not going well, so this is a small piece of something to sink your teeth into for the time being.
Obviously, I don't own 'In Plain Sight' and the portions recounted from the show are obviously their own (all that should come through here at the beginning.) Otherwise, enjoy.
Marshall often told himself that the hustle-and-bustle of the hospital was routine, even mundane if he was feeling especially casual. Mesa Regional fit him like a glove, the doors of the emergency room as familiar as the blue plaid shirt he'd had since college. The nurse's desk could easily serve as the stripes on that plaid; the sound of the intercom just like the holes in the fabric. He wore both like a coat, like he wore his badge. Whether it was gunshot victims he was bringing in, or merely those that had bumped an elbow during a fender-bender, none of it caused the same stirrings it had when he'd been young and naive, new to the job and its duties.
And yet, all that comfort did not reside on his shoulders during this trip as he hurried as casually as he was able through a ward in which he'd been very few times. Women with round, Buddha-like bellies lowered themselves into wheelchairs; others wandered the halls in billowy gowns, their material white and spotty with blue specks. It wasn't discomfort he felt, something he internally checked as he continued his jaunt. It was uncertainty and the fluttering, tickling feeling in his gut knew it was nerves.
The strap of the bag upon which his fingers were curled was worn and frayed, much like that of an old and treasured brown belt. He made sure to hang on as he stepped up to the counter where a nurse in maroon scrubs resided, playing absently with her computer.
"Excuse me?" Marshall posed, trying not to sound too terribly 'anxious dad.'
The nurse looked up. Her face was young and childlike; she couldn't have been more than thirty, and yet the innocence in her high cheek bones could easily put her just shy of twenty-one.
"Hi," he greeted her with what he hoped was a pleasant, free-of-fret smile. "I'm looking for Mary Shannon. I was told she was admitted already…"
"Yes, sir," the nurse returned his grin without even having to look up the information. "She was brought in about twenty minutes ago," her voice was high-pitched, but enjoyably sweet.
"Right," Marshall nodded, having expected as much. "Could you maybe direct me to her room?" he asked cordially. "I've got her things here…" he held up the bag to demonstrate, hoping with his visual aid he would be granted admittance without the usual question of whether or not he was family; he didn't want to have to flash his badge in front of this fresh-faced youth.
Fortunately, she smiled again, "Room five, sir."
Was he a 'sir?' He supposed so.
"Just down that hall…" she gestured to Marshall's back and he turned to show he was paying attention. "Make a right."
"Thank-you so much," Marshall opted for overly-grateful and spared the woman a quick nod before heading to the designated location.
With each step on the linoleum, shiny and reflective in Marshall's eyes, his boots making a steady clip-clop sound on the surface, the man tried to imagine what might lie in store for him when he reached room five. He had a thousand different instances swirling through his mind – voices, gestures, actions, instincts – all of it was becoming a muddled mess and he vowed to get it together before he saw Mary, on the off-chance she let him stay for more than two seconds.
She had Mark, after all. The guy had been so distraught to see her in so much pain he'd practically thrown himself into the ambulance. Jinx had not been far behind, nearly tripping on her high-heels, all thoughts of Brandi flying the coop forgotten.
Marshall had been distressed to see Mary in – well, distress – but had been able to remind himself the whole time of who she was and how she operated. He'd merely wanted to squelch her fears, to convince her she would be all right because calmness would promote a much happier situation for everyone. Mary included.
Her blazer had been soft underneath his fingers as he'd rubbed careful, well-timed rotations on her back meant to settle her down.
"It's not time…it's not time…"
No, she'd been correct. It was not time. Mary was still eight weeks shy of a full-term delivery. But he'd done his best to help her see the light.
"Mary, look at me. Women deliver at thirty-two weeks every day…"
"You know that."
More than anything, it was her face that was haunting Marshall. The pure, unadulterated panic and dread in her large green eyes. Even when he'd been shot, she hadn't looked like that. She'd been scared, sure. But she'd transferred almost seamlessly into her expert, 'fix it, and fix it now' mode. She couldn't adopt that philosophy with the unborn child threatening to make an entrance forty-two days before schedule.
But whatever philosophy Mary was adopting, he was about to find out. Striding toward a set of frosted glass double-doors with 'Room 5' stamped in block letters across the finish; Marshall was startled to see how many nurses were bustling around both in and out of the confines. They wore the same maroon scrubs as the desk attendant.
He could hear her. Before he even saw her, he could hear her. There was an agonizing, tearful moan that came from behind those doors and Marshall slipped right through them with the exit of a stone-faced professional.
"Oh my God…"
He caught her groaning, a distraught palm on her forehead while Jinx whispered reassurances at her bedside, still dressed in that pale pink dress. Mary was too busy coming undone for Marshall to hear what Jinx uttered, but his partner proved it was nothing she wanted to hear.
"It's not okay!" she insisted, warding off her mother's encouragement.
But at that moment, Mark whirled around in the presence of the other man. It was clear from his face he was a little out-of-his-element, but trying to be of assistance to his ex. However, Mary did not seem to notice him and a flicker of gratitude flashed in Mark's face at seeing someone so close to Mary enter the room.
"Hey…!" Mark dashed from the bed and over to Marshall.
Marshall offered him Mary's tote, "I found a suitcase with the baby stuff in it," he presented.
"Thanks Marshall…" Mark said at once, taking the bag.
He nodded in a would-be-convincing way, attempting to appear in control but it was obvious by his brown eyes that he knew his attempts to quiet Mary had failed and he was getting desperate. Regardless, Marshall offered his own nod to say he understood the position. They'd all been thrown into the deep end on this one.
But it was amazing how quickly Marshall could allow his gaze to stray from the father of this child and onto Mary's face, where she was adept at beating off Jinx's words meant to lend a hand.
"Oh my God; this sucks!" she burst.
Jinx soldiered on, stroking her daughter's hair and speaking right over her.
"Angel, it'll be better if you just…"
But nobody could cut you off like Mary, "Oh my God; you did this twice?" she cried in disbelief. "No wonder you drank!"
Jinx simply shook her head lovingly, knowing from experience that Mary was likely to say anything – in or out of a delivery room. For Marshall, it was a bit of a relief to hear that his partner could still snark even in the throes of labor, if that was indeed what this was. However, he was more concerned with her well-being at the moment and turned back to Mark, who was glancing over his shoulder and back again trying to get a handle on things.
Marshall decided to prod a bit, monitors beeping steadily all around him, but it had become white-noise compared to Mary's misery.
"She having a hard time?" her partner ventured, trying to open Mark up for some information and peering over his shoulder at the form of his rounded friend.
"I guess that's what you'd call it…" Mark shook his head and laughed weakly, mindful not to let Mary hear. "Not that I blame her, I mean…"
Her ex chose not to finish that sentence and instead picked up with another, "I think she's just a little freaked out. It's a lot all at once…"
"Yeah," Marshall agreed, hoping to ease Mark's jittery demeanor. "Judging by the gown and the bed and the monitors, it looks like they're going ahead with delivery," he observed shrewdly. "It is premature labor, then?" although he'd figured as much. "No false alarm?"
"Doesn't seem like it," Mark offered. "They're not sure why the baby's coming early, but her-her-her…" he got tongue-tied trying to report with proper terminology. "Her…water broke," he eventually recalled. "In the ambulance, so…"
"Nothing they can do after that," Marshall sighed, unable to let Mark go on.
Internally, as Mary continued to growl, Marshall berated himself several times over for the afternoon's events. Mary should not have been in that courthouse. She should not have been shot at. She should not have been running or racing, and she certainly should not have hit the hard floor while bullets rained through the glass. Marshall suddenly felt it must've smarted a lot more now that it had caused this much trouble.
"Hey…" the taller of the two men finally decided it was time for action, speaking to recall Mark's gaze who was unable to keep his eyes in one spot. "You mind if I sit with her a minute?" he ventured with reckless abandon. Backpedaling a bit, "I'll absolutely understand if you'd rather it just be the two of you; it can be a private matter and I'm sure Mary's…"
But he needn't have tried to sound so understanding, because Mark grabbed hold of the leeway in no time.
"Marshall, you're her best friend," he insisted as though her partner did not know this. "If anybody can talk her off the ledge, I'm pretty sure it's you."
Marshall went for a humble smile at this compliment, nodding sedately and waiting for Mark to go on.
"I'm gonna step out and call my mom…" he indicated the door. "Just let me know if the main event shows up or anything," he made a brave attempt at a chuckle.
"Sure," Marshall nodded and watched the ex-husband disappear through those same double doors, depositing Mary's tote onto a spare space of floor with his exit.
Now that Marshall had an unobstructed view, he could tell that Jinx's hair-stroking was becoming more and more like patting a dog the longer she went on. She wasn't letting up in her efforts to get Mary to relax and to breathe, but it was having the exact opposite effect. Her daughter was more agitated than ever, recoiling from the touch, shifting to the opposite side of the bed where Marshall approached.
"Mary honey, look who's here…!" Jinx seized the opportunity, finally halting her movements and gesturing wildly at Marshall. "It's Marshall; isn't that nice he came all the way down…"
"Because I need an audience...?" Mary griped, shaking her head back and forth on the pillow and not meeting her partner's eyes.
It was the tears very low in her throat that made Marshall hurt. She despised crying.
Unfortunately, the sensation was becoming a more likely possibility with each passing moment. Marshall, somewhat well-read in the movements of the monitor that kept track of Mary's contractions, saw that she had just been crashed with another. You could set your watch by its peak, because she cried out right on cue, covering her eyes with her hand.
"Jesus Christ…!" her voice was shaking, beginning to lose her grip all over again.
"Darling, just try to breathe…" Jinx was relentless, but smart enough to discontinue touching her. "It'll make you feel better…"
It was clear, to Marshall at least, that his friend was in too much pain to respond with an appropriate comeback. And yet, some small inkling in his chest could've sworn she had one eye open beneath her shielding fingers and it was meeting Marshall's. Instinct had him placing a warm, gentle hand on her shoulder – nothing more, nothing less.
The sounds were hoarse as Mary attempted to come together, but it wasn't working for her. Hoping he had the authority to delegate in this family, Marshall raised his eyes to Jinx and jerked his head at the door, indicating that he needed a minute – just a minute. Fortunately, the mother understood and left the pair in peace, not even bothering with a goodbye because Mary was so consumed.
"What's happening?" she wanted to know long after the door had shut. "What's going on?"
Marshall was steady, "You are in labor."
She didn't disappoint. Removing her hand, she glared up at him with a new kind of ferocity. Her cheeks were sweaty, but her eyes in slits as she sized him up. His hand remained on her shoulder.
"I am not in labor."
"You are in labor," he repeated swiftly. "A little before landing time, yes. But in labor, nonetheless."
"I listened to you…" she was obviously between contractions for a moment. "You said forty weeks is full-term. This is not full-term. I cannot be in labor…"
"Then what's your diagnosis, inspector?" he asked casually.
There was a stool nearby and Marshall rolled it over, perching himself at her bedside. Up close, he saw how damp her hair had become - heat, stress, an innumerable combination of things had made her sweat in excess. He could also see her swallow, eyes flicking to the monitor over his head to watch for the next earthquake.
"It's because of earlier," she insisted in a low voice, Marshall knowing to what she was referring. "They're overreacting. Nothing's coming out of this…" she gestured indistinctly in her lower region.
Marshall did his best not to go red and pressed on.
"Mark said your water broke," he reminded her firmly.
"I peed my pants."
"Mary," Marshall turned stern and unwavering.
She shut up, probably to prepare herself for the next onslaught, but Marshall could see the fierce determination that resided deep within. It was alarming how quickly she jumped back on the bandwagon.
"You don't let me set up shop in denial even when I'm about to pop this kid…!"
Her voice broke off, and Marshall was fully expecting a rant, at least until the next contraction, when the severing came at the expense of tears – real tears. They were full and streaming on her face, wrinkling her nose and crumpling her skin. They made her sniff and water and Marshall felt so much sympathy for her as he reached out and brushed a few strays away with his index finger.
"Mary, don't cry," he implored, but she wouldn't open her eyes. "You're all right," he'd said that before. "You're going to be fine; you're in good hands."
"I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do…" she wept unashamedly, refusing to look at him.
"You will figure it out," Marshall assured her, not knowing whether she was talking about labor or adoption but he figured the response worked for either. "You always do."
"I don't want to figure it out!" her eyes flew open and they were blazing with intensity and stubbornness. "I don't want to do this! I didn't sign on for this! I didn't ask for my insides to be ripped apart; I didn't ask for strangers to be poking around in my hoo-hah! I didn't…!"
The promise of finishing the tirade was slashed when another wave coursed through her abdomen. Marshall was certain that this time, her outburst was one of frustration as well as pain.
"Not again!" she groaned deep in her throat and copied her earlier movements of putting her hand to her forehead, her protest mixing with tears.
"Okay…" Marshall murmured calmly, standing up so he could see more of her. "Try to breathe…" he beseeched her, venturing to put his hand back on her shoulder for she hadn't seemed to mind it before. "Take a deep breath; you'll make it worse if you continue to fight like this…"
Mary was only half-listening, biting her lip in her discomfort. Marshall saw her right hand on the side of her belly, where the ache might be the strongest. Her eyes were glassy and unfocused.
"What if I can't?" she rasped, turning away from him trying to ward off the pain.
'Can't what?' was Marshall's first thought, but then he assumed she meant breathing.
"Come on…" he coached gently, squeezing her shoulder to recall her to him.
He could see her fingers, the fingers on the same hand that was pressing against her tummy. They were flexing, recoiling, flashing in and out with nothing to hold onto. It was as though the extremities had a mind of their own – a pain all their own, and they were flailing for comfort. Throwing caution to the winds, Marshall shifted his left hand to her shoulder and the right to her fingers.
He felt certain she'd resist, but the smallest flicker of touch, and she closed in. She held his hand.
"Come on," Marshall repeated, trying not to treat this gesture as the milestone it was. "Breathe in…"
He did it himself, hoping she would copy him; an inhale through both his nose and mouth. Mary's attempt was dramatic; her eyes were screwed shut and the intake of air was rougher and harsher, but she was listening and that was everything.
"Good," Marshall stayed resolutely calm. "Now breathe out…"
They went through the same movements again, and Mary struggled every second to stay in one piece, her fingers gripping and clutching deep inside Marshall's palm. The minute her exhale hit the ground, at the exact same moment the contraction siphoned off, her release of the stress surprised him. Her head fell back against the pillows and she panted, trembling and looking to be on the verge of tears once more.
"That was good…" Marshall praised, hoping to get her more level-headed. "You were great…"
"No…" she moaned, seemingly no longer noticing his hand. "Make it stop; just make it stop…"
"I would if I could, but you know that I can't," Marshall informed her. "You're gonna get through this; you are."
"Oh God…" she was no longer paying attention, and Marshall had no intention of letting her get any further, especially when she wouldn't open her eyes to face him.
"Hey…" he whispered, just three letters among the action all around them, domination of busy nurses and monotone beeps in the corners of his mind.
But it appeared simplest was best. Mary slid her lids open and faced him, zeroing in on his soft, understated blue eyes. He was so calm. Like the lighthouse in the dark. She bit down so hard on her lip in her effort not to cry that she worried she'd taste blood.
"You're doing the best you can," her partner reminded her kindly. "That's all anyone can ask."
"If this is my best, it's pathetic," she whispered.
"We're all new at this," Marshall reminded her, loving the feel of her fingers criss-crossing inside of his. "Everybody here wants to help you."
Mary didn't respond to this, merely let out a disbelieving scoff that said this might be true, but whether she wanted the help or not remained to be seen.
"Did you get my things?" she asked hoarsely to avoid answering to his response. "Did you find the suitcase?"
"I found your bag, yeah…" he waved his free hand indistinctly over his shoulder. "The brown one; I gave it to Mark. I assumed that must be it…"
Marshall was about to go on, was about to say why he had made such a guess but he wasn't sure this was the best time. She was mellowing out slightly, although still breathing very hard in her strain. But something deep inside couldn't stop him from posing the question threatening to fall from his lips.
"It had a change of clothes for you and…two sleepers," he reported. "A yellow and a green. Newborn size."
He didn't elaborate on what he thought this might mean, what he suspected it might mean. But it was apparent Mary caught the run-down for what it was. She shook her head, tears forming in the corners once more, but she managed to keep them in this time.
"Yeah…" she huffed, gaze straying from his. "That's it."
Marshall didn't press her on this, and graduated to moving the pads of his fingers in circles on the shoulder he caressed. He let the silence wrap them up, punctuated by a combination of technologic beeps that came from the monitors, the opening and closing of the door, Mary's struggle to breathe in and then out.
But his partner had never been much for silences.
"Where's Jinx?" she asked, as if only just noticing she was missing.
"She just stepped out with Mark," Marshall informed her. "I can tell her to come back in if you want."
"No…" Mary shook her head, but it was without disdain and not a hint of poking fun at Marshall for asking. "Not yet."
Surprisingly, she shifted away from him not as though she was in pain, but the air of discomfort lingered in spades, etched in every line of her face. She was not yet caught in the undertow again, but she tugged at the fabric of the gown, splaying her hands on either side of her belly. Marshall initially guessed she was just trying to get situated, but when her breaths turned short and staccato and her eyes fell shut, he became concerned.
"What's going on?" he asked. "You okay?"
It was a moronic question, but she understood what he meant.
"I don't…" it was hard for her to get the words out. "I don't know…" she could hardly sit still and it made Marshall want to reel her back in.
But he merely furrowed his brow and waited her out.
"Am I supposed to be feeling all this…?" she sunk beneath the sheet covering her, but then back up against the pillows. "This pressure?"
Ah. Now he understood. He buried the need to ask the question, 'What kind of pressure?' and went for something more logical instead.
"Did you happen to notice when they admitted you if somebody mentioned how many centimeters you were dilated?" he asked, squeezing her hand in hopes that she was listening.
She might've been listening, but the answer was going to have to wait. The rise on the crest was fast-approaching and this supposed-pressure coupled with the agony of an ill-timed contraction meant Mary was not up to speaking.
"Shit…no…" she cursed, hands scrabbling along her stomach trying to find the source of the ache, bumping into the fetal heart monitor strapped beneath her gown. "It's too fast…"
The lines on the screen perfectly matched when the flame burned and twisted through her insides; her hands went back to her face and she gave a gut-wrenching moan of agony that seared Marshall's skin. Pulling it together quickly, he leaned over and tried to get her regrouped.
"Breathe for me…" he whispered, wanting to see her eyes. "Breathe – come on…" it was the same song and dance as before. "You can do it; you did it once, you can do it again…" he insisted quietly.
It was such a glaring contrast between his muffled voice and her projected whimpers. Unable to stop his rational thought, Marshall laid a gentle kiss on her forehead but she wouldn't remove the hand still covering her eyes.
However, Mary did manage a stream of inhales and exhales amongst the tortured cries; they sounded more like gasps and gulps but it was clear she didn't know what else to do.
"Atta girl…" he encouraged fruitlessly, rubbing her hair with the hand that was not being squeezed into severed fingers. "That's good…"
"What's the pressure?" she burst out over his words of wisdom, able to squirm more freely with the contraction reaching its tail end, but no less worked-up. "What is it? I feel like it's…"
Marshall didn't make her go on and curled his fingers around her wrist, pulling her hand away so he could look at her.
"How many centimeters were you when you got here?" he pressed with just a hint of urgency. "Did you hear, or not?"
"I don't know…" she wagged her head, but contradicted herself. "Six or seven?"
"Okay…" Marshall was as balanced as he knew how to be. "I imagine you're about ready to push," he revealed as delicately as possible. "That's the pressure; it's the baby moving down the birth canal. But you'll need to wait until they tell you it's time."
His even, steady demeanor had no effect on her. The very idea that she could be so close to delivery about sent her into a tailspin.
"Push?" she repeated incredulously, her eyes wide and round on his. "As in…?" she cast around for the right word, but saw no point in wasting the energy. "Push?"
"More or less," Marshall shrugged dully, trying to make light.
Mary was back to shaking her head, to chewing on her lip, and now fighting more than just the hurt but the urge to hold on when it was obvious she wanted to let go. Marshall could see her coming undone, and he knew from experience that she'd showed him quite enough of her insecurities for one day. He could almost predict what came next.
"Get Jinx," she demanded, tight-lipped both to keep from growling and trying not to shed tears. "Please…" it wasn't working, and wetness leaked out anyway, which she ignored. "Get Jinx…"
Marshall wanted to ask if she was certain, but now wasn't the time to question her.
"Absolutely," he nodded, knowing she felt she could fall apart in front of Jinx and not him. "I'll be right outside."
He was still standing, but had stopped bending over to check on her. Her hand had gone limp with the promise that he was leaving and he slipped his fingers free. Unable to help himself, he patted the top portion of her hand instead to offer his reassurance.
"Hang in there, all right?"
Mary nodded, but it was obvious she wanted her mother. Marshall was not insulted; they were best friends, but she was confused and humiliated and a woman who hated to show she was vulnerable. She was banking on Jinx understanding.
"Thanks for bringing my things," she whispered and Marshall gave her a soft smile before turning to exit as asked.
He expected to have to track down Jinx, but she was tottering on her heels just across the room among the couches and chairs that represented the waiting room. She hadn't even bothered to sit down, and the minute she saw Marshall come out she bolted over, displaying frantic tendencies that had been remarkably kept under wraps in the birthing room.
"Thank-you for staying with her, Marshall," she expressed without preamble, touching the man's arm. "You always keep her calm."
"Well, I don't know about that…" he shrugged, hands slipping into his pockets in his modesty. "She's scared," he admitted in an undertone, to which Jinx nodded. "It's early; she just doesn't feel ready…" he reflected on his partner's words from when they'd been sitting on the altar.
"Well, thank-you for everything…" Jinx persisted. "Did she say if…?"
"I'd head back in," Marshall gave his approval. "I'll send Mark when he returns."
Jinx, already having presented her gratitude twice, sent him a winning smile and pushed her way back through the double doors. They swung shut almost at once, but Marshall stuck around just long enough to see the kind of greeting the older Shannon received.
Although the glass was frosted and it was difficult to glimpse much of anything, Jinx as-much-as transformed once she resumed her post at the right side of Mary's bed. She put her arms around her daughter, one in back and one in front across her middle. Marshall's heart broke when he saw Mary succumb to the tears and sob in her mother's embrace, soundless on this side of the door. Jinx just patted her hair and shushed her, but it made him ache. He'd have loved Mary just the same if she'd busted at the seams in his presence, but she'd let her guard down more than she was comfortable with already.
As her best friend of eight years, surely he'd have gotten used to this by now.
A/N: As I say, it's only five chapters and it's nothing extensive. Just goes through what I imagine Norah's birth was probably like based upon the tiny insight the show gave us.