"Stan, I'm gonna make sure she gets home ok. Be back here after." Marshall said, guiding Mary to the elevator.
"I'll be here."

Marshall threw the car in park and waited for Mary's lead. She hadn't said anything the whole ride to her house; only glancing at him once or twice.

"Do you want me to walk you inside? There are a lot of feds in there who will want to ask you questions."

A momentary look of panic flitted across her face before being swept away. "Ok," She responded.

Once inside her house a team of feds swarmed over to the two and began asking rapid fire questions, all overlapping and edging in. Brandi and Jinx stood in the kitchen, eyes red, tears barely held back. Mary crossed her arms protectively, leaning in to Marshall to shield herself. Marshall put his arm around her and pushed several agents back out of the way.
"She's done for tonight," he shouted at the agents. "You can find her tomorrow. Go. Get out of the way."

Marshall led Mary to her room and pulled the door closed behind them. "I'll get them out of here. You'll have to talk to someone tomorrow but we can try to arrange that at our office or at the station." Mary nodded. "Is there anything I can do for you Mare?" He continued, "Have you eaten anything?"

Mary paused for a while and shook her head, sitting on the edge of her bed.

"Ok then," Marshall said. "I am going to clear your house then head back to work on this case with Stan. I'll have my cell on constantly. If you need anything, and I mean anything, you just-"

Don't go." Mary interrupted, staring at her carpet. Marshall noticed the same panicked look she had in the car and moved towards her.
"Ok. I can stay here for a while if you want. An hour or two, until all the agents are gone. Then later I can-"
"No." Mary said. "I can't- I can't deal with them, with my family. I can't deal with any of this. I feel like if I talk to my mom or to my sister- if I stay in here by myself, alone, I can't- I just can't-" Mary started hyperventilating, tears falling freely down her cheeks now as she spoke to Marshall, a look of genuine terror evident on her face. Marshall couldn't begin to imagine what she had been through that night but he knew he wouldn't leave her alone feeling this scared.

"Ok. Ok. I'm not going anywhere. Shh. Shh. It's ok. I'm right here." Marshall sat on the edge of her bed and cradled her to his chest. She pulled herself together and sat up a little.

"Jesus, I'm in worse shape than I thought."

"Everything that you're feeling is completely normal. After a situation like that-"

"Yeah, yeah, Marshall, I didn't keep you here to play shrink. Anyway. I'm going to go clean up a little. Take a bath. Wait here?"

"I'll be right here."

A little while later Mary reappeared from the bathroom wrapped in her towel. Marshall was perusing the books on the shelf careful not to turn around.

"You know, what's especially interesting about this book," Marshall began a lecture, selecting an older volume off the top, "is that the author was actually-"

"Marshall, you don't need to be weird because you're in my room. And anyway I'm already-"

Jinx opened the door and peeked around the corner, seeing Marshall eyeing the books and Mary finishing dressing.

"Half assed sandwich and a mug of liptons?" She smiled weakly to Mary and glanced at Marshall. Brandy followed meekly behind her mother looking between Mary and Jinx and nervously glancing at Marshall.

Taking the hint, Mary's partner stepped into the hall and pulled the door half closed. He glanced around the house from where he was and was glad to see that the agents were, for the moment, gone. From his position by her door he could hear Jinx star yelling, Brandi start crying, and Mary tell them that she wouldn't be helping.

He heard a knock at the door and went to dismiss whatever agent had returned, however he was surprised to find Raphael in the other side of the door.

"Is Mary here?" Raph asked, stumbling over his words.

"She-" Marshall turned slightly towards Mary's room before continuing, "is tired. She's had a long day. Why don't you come back later?" Raphael nodded but looked past Marshall before walking away.

As Marshall closed the door, Brandi and Jinx stormed out of Mary's room, Jinx glaring at Marshall as she passed. He watched them walk away and cautiously paced back into Mary's bedroom where his partner sat on the bed, once again fighting back tears. He moved closer, wordlessly removing the tray of food and setting it on her dresser. He then walked to the other side of the bed and sat next to Mary, pulling her back to his chest.

Mary broke down sobbing, clutching the front of Marshall's shirt. "Do you think I did the right thing?" She asked between sobs.

Marshall paused for a long time, Mary almost thinking he wasn't going to answer. "I think you did the best thing you possibly could have. You've been taking care of them at the cost of yourself your whole life. If you get tangled in all this you could lose your career. Your life. You almost did already." Mary nodded, her breathing evening and the tears slowing. He hesitated before asking, "do you want to talk about what happened yesterday?"

Carefully, Mary sat up and detailed to Marshall everything that happened after she called him from the theater up until she was in his arms in the basement. "... I- I killed someone tonight, Marshall." Mary shot out of bed running to the kitchen. Marshall quickly followed only to see her downing tequila straight out of the bottle.

Not for the first time in the past 24 hours, Marshall was close to tears himself. His best friend and partner was going through something as awful as this and he couldn't help her. Mary was stomping back towards her room when her mother got up and started yelling at her again.

"Not again," thought Marshall. Amidst the yelling about "difficult nights" and "superiority," Marshall tried to intervene, to salvage what was left of the night.

"Hey. Hey! That is enough! You've all had bad nights. You couldn't imagine what Mary has been through-" Marshall was glad he was interrupted before he said "because of you" until he heard what Jinx was saying.

"You! You are the one poisoning her with these ideas of superiority. What is it with you anyway? Are you hoping to-"

"Hey!" Mary jumped in, "you have no right. Marshall is by far one of the best people I know. One of the best things in my life."

"No," Jinx retorted wryly as Marshall stood in stunned silence, "it's him. He and your father set you onto this- this- lifelong ego trip you're on."

"The daddy card? Really?"

"I've fed you with this idea that he loved you best. That you two had some special bond. I told you that so you would stop crying when he left. But I've got news for you. He loved you the same way he did everyone else. No more, no less!"

Mary was silent for the moment as she and her mother held an angry gaze. Jinx had been crying for a while and her anger was starting to soften. Brandi was sobbing on the couch watching her family fall apart. Mary was showing nothing but calm anger.

"Wait here." Mary walked back into her room and was gone for a while. Just when Marshall was about to go find her she came back with a tin which she set in the table.

"What is that?" Jinx asked.

"Open it."

"What are these?"

"Letters I've received from daddy over the years."

Marshall was lost in a daze hearing only snippets of conversation here and there until he heard Jinx ask "you married that mark guy?"

Marshall listened with surprise as Mary explained that she was young and had it annulled a month after. Marshall was so lost in thought he missed most of what happened after that until Mary was crying again and Brandi was ripping up a letter.

Mary snatched up her letters, gathering up as many little pieces as she could. Jinx tried grabbing at the tin but may was to far gone, carrying the letters with her into her room. Jinx moved to follow her but Marshall cut her off.
"Maybe it's best if you let me handle this one." Marshall gave her a look that meant this wasn't open for discussion. He waited until she sat back down on the sofa before he followed Mary, who had left the door of her room open for him.

Marshall softly secured the door and moved to Mary's bed where she was, once again, sobbing. Marshall couldn't think of a time he had seen her cry this much, let alone in front of him, and was desperate for a way to make everything better.

He moved to the other side of her bed and sat next to her. "I'm here, Mary. Whatever you need."

Slowly, Mary turned and half crawled across the bed and curled into her partner. Her face was buried in his chest, tears soaking into the shirt she clutched desperately in her hand. Marshall ran his hand across her hair whispering the pleading mantra that had been running through his head since he realized Mary was missing. "I'm here for you. I will protect you. It will be ok." He didn't know if it was more to comfort her or himself but either way it was working.

Marshall kept whispering the mantra long after the tears quit falling, after he realized Mary must have been asleep. He carefully leaned forward and took his jacket off, laying it across Mary. He rested his hand on her shoulder and turned the light off.

Mary woke with a fog in her head, her consciousness coming slowly back to her. She had no desire to get out of bed and face clamboring agents, simpering sisters, and judgemental mothers. The light coming through the window was soft but growing stronger every minute. Cursing the world for bringing morning so soon, she rolled away from the window and nuzzled her face deeper into her pillow, pulling her comforter over her face.

As she woke further, she became aware that she was hugging something to her chest: Marshall's jacket. Mary vaguely recalled her partners soothing words and her heart rate quickened when she realized he wasn't there anymore. Suddenly very awake, Mary sat up and looked around, not wanting to be alone.

"Mare?" came a sleepy call from the chair in the corner of the room. Mary's eyes took in her partner across the room. "Hey, Mare. It's ok. What's wrong?" He got up and came over to the bed and rubbed Mary's back as she willed the panicked look to leave her face. She chided herself for reacting so emotionally and for painting her fear across her face, glad only Marshall had seen.

"How are you holding up?" Marshall asked, sleep softening his voice to a whisper.

Mary could only nod, knowing words would betray her, as she tried to force her emotions back down her throat. "You stayed all night?"

"I'll stay as long as you need me to stay; by your side until you tell me to leave." Marshall spoke more honestly than Mary was expecting but it calmed her enough that she could relax just a little bit on her bed. She cautiously laid back on her pillows. Marshall followed suit and laid back next to her.

"What if I don't stop needing you? Never tell you to leave? God, Marshall. You're the only thing keeping me sane right now."

Her partner was quiet for a long time but when he spoke his voice was perfectly clear. "Then I'll never leave." He laced his fingers through hers.

"Good."