Disclaimer: As always I own nothing and am making zero dollars from this. However, if Marshall shows up I am not giving him back! This is a short follow up to Duplicate Bridge. Hope you enjoy!
I'm sorry Doofus
"I need you all to get going now, I'm going to count backwards from ten and when I get to one I'm going to release this switch. Marshall, get her off the bridge now."
"Fine, you blow this bridge and I'm going with you, how's that for fair."
"Mary, he's not going to stop."
"Shut up, you don't know. How do you know."
"Because I know my witness."
Marshall held Mary securely behind one of the security cars and both of them watched in shock as the bridge collapsed. The explosion was violent and the heat registered on her face before small pieces of debris rained down around them. Mary didn't resist as Marshall pulled her down and closer to the side of the car. She couldn't see but she could hear as the worst of the explosion ended. She felt Marshall flinch and his hand went to his neck. Hers followed and she peeled his hand away to look. There was a quarter-sized blister forming. She let him put his hand back over the wound and towed him by the arm back over to their truck.
"You should let someone look at that." It felt inadequate but in the aftermath of so much tragedy she didn't know what else to say.
"It's fine," his voice was flat, lifeless and she knew that he was hurting but didn't know how to fix it. "Hand that tape over to the local PD, then let's check out and get out of here."
Mary nodded. The tape would tell the story and the local LEO's would handle things from here. There were other witnesses to the explosion. Mary and Marshall wouldn't even have to give a statement, the security of their identification precluded them going on the record about the event.
Mary looked at Marshall carefully before she walked away. He was studying his boots and wouldn't meet her eyes. She made short work of turning the tape over to the officer in charge. She made it known that they wouldn't be available for questioning in the event but that everything they needed to know was on film. The officer seemed taken aback by her demeanor but he didn't try to stop her when she walked away.
Marshall was standing right where she left him when she returned to the truck. She put a hand on his arm and he looked up at her. "Are you sure you don't want to get that burn looked at before we get out of here?" She asked softly.
Marshall shook his head and crowded Mary so that she stepped back against the truck. She was startled at the intensity in his eyes but she didn't feel confined. If anyone else had pushed her that way she would have her gun in his face but it was Marshall and she tolerated it.
"Mary," he started, his voice low and warning. Mary looked up when he used her name that way and swallowed reflexively. "If you ever pull a stunt like that again so help me god I won't be around to watch you do it. There's enough danger that's out of our control. If I tell you that it's time to go, you go. I won't stay here and watch you gamble with your life." He shook her by the shoulders and for once she didn't have a smart comment. He let go of her abruptly and took a step back, running his hands through his hair and tugging at the end. "There are other jobs, other cities," he trailed off and turned from her, head down as he tried to compose himself.
Mary reached out and touched Marshall's shoulder and he flinched away. "I'm sorry," she said. And for once she truly was. If not for her actions then for whatever Marshall was feeling. "I wasn't thinking, I acted instinctively."
"And if I wasn't standing there you would have let him blow you both up."
She reached for him again. "Doofus," she said it gently but she placed her hand more firmly on his shoulder. "I am so sorry. He let her pull him to face her and he didn't resist when she wrapped her arms around him but he stood stiffly, unable to let go of his terror until her fingers crept up into the back of his hair and she leaned her head against his shoulder. The events of the last two days flashed through his mind. His knees suddenly went weak and he staggered against her. Mary took a step back but held him tightly until he regained his equilibrium.
She ran a thumb over his jaw and watched as a tear escaped from beneath his closed lashes. She caught it and brushed it away and leaned her forehead to meet his. "I'm so sorry about Norman," she whispered.
Marshall opened his eyes and looked at Mary seriously. "Norman made up his own mind. I'm sorry that he's gone but I can't take responsibility for the decision that he made." Mary nodded.
"It's going to get better. It's just going to take some time," she responded.
"Come on," she stepped back and led him by the forearm. "Let's get you home. Everything will wait until tomorrow." They walked back to the SUV. Mary was holding the keys and Marshall gently lifted them out of her fingers.
"I'll drive. I'm too keyed up to sleep and you look like you're ready to drop."
"I'm okay, I can at least keep you company," she pulled the door open and looked across the front seat at Marshall.
"Rest your eyes at least. I," he looked at his shoes before meeting her eyes again. "I need some time."
She held his gaze in silent determination of what he was not saying and finally gave a small nod. "I'm here." She said simply, quietly.
"I know. I'm glad."
The decision to drive from Omaha back to Albuquerque was made spontaneously. Mary wanted to stay close to Marshall and Marshall found the monotony of the highway soothing.
Her phone vibrated on her belt and she pulled it out and looked at the display. It was Brandi calling again. She thought of ignoring it but knew from past experience that her baby sister was persistent and would call until Mary answered.
"Squish," she didn't whisper but she kept her tone low as she glanced over at the set of Marshall's jaw. "I can't do this now. I'll be home tomorrow." She rolled her eyes at a response that he couldn't hear. "I can't help it. Make it up," her voice rose slightly with her frustration. "They aren't going to hire a fact checker to make sure the answers are accurate." She shook her head again. "Whatever, I said I was sorry." She didn't try to guilt her sister with the events of the day she just sighed as she hung up.
She looked at Marshall and saw how he blinked rapidly, trying unsuccessfully to hide his tears. Mary reached over and squeezed his forearm. She let her fingers linger until he reached over and squeezed her hand. "Get some sleep Mer, it's a long drive."
"Wake me up if you get tired."
"Will do, and I'm going to call Brandi and answer those questions of hers. That okay with you?"
"Sure," Mary answered slowly. "Are you sure you want to do that?"
"Education is important," he smiled wistfully. "Besides, I think I know how you would answer."
"You'll be more tactful than I would I'm sure." Mary gave him a half smile and leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes.
Mary fell asleep in the silence despite her best intentions. The sleepless hours and the soft rumbling of the engine caught up to her. She woke to hear Marshall speaking softly into the phone. It only took her a second to figure out that he was talking to Brandi about her. She heard the hurt in his voice. She wanted to hold him but she was afraid he was at the end of his control and she didn't want to break him. She turned to look at him.
"Yeah, I'm good. You?" She nodded at him. He turned back to the phone and continued talking to Brandi. Mary still wanted to reach for him but she held back. She had never seen Marshall react so negatively to anything she had done and she felt off balance. She leaned back against the window.
She heard parts of Marshall's conversation with Brandi and she smiled. She was right, he was much more tactful than she would have been, if she'd been honest with her sister. She had a tendency to try to spare Squish's feelings. She had to take responsibility for many of her baby sister's faults. It wasn't like Jinx had been around to raise her. Mary had done her best but she was just a child herself.
She drifted off again and the next time she woke it was because the truck had come to a stop and she was alone. She rubbed her nose and took a quick look at her surroundings. Marshall had pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a hotel. From the outside it looked like a decent place, nicer than some of the flea bag hotels they occasionally stayed at with witnesses but still nothing fancy. Marshall was walking back to the truck and when he saw that she was awake he headed for her side. She opened the door to meet him.
"If you're tired I can drive," she tried to judge his mood but didn't get a good look at his eyes.
"Nah," he smiled at her. "We've come far enough. Stan doesn't want us in the office tomorrow so there's plenty of time. We need to sleep in real beds, I got us adjoining rooms."
"How long was I out?"
"A while, come on let's go in." Mary nodded and grabbed the bag that Marshall handed her.
She walked through the door and tossed her bag on the bed and opened the door that separated her room from Marshall's. He was standing on the other side.
"When I checked in they told me that there's a diner down the road that makes a killer pie."
"Pie makes everything better." Mary readily agreed and they left the hotel again. Mary noticed that Marshall was still unusually quiet and, while expected it still made her uncomfortable. As many times as she tried to silence him, right now she missed his chatter. The voices in her head were loud during the silence.
She watched as he picked at his piece and she played with hers too. She made it halfway through the piece of french silk before she pushed it away from her. Marshall looked up in surprise. "I don't know what to say."
"There's not anything to say," he responded calmly. "Don't say anything."
Mary was surprised at how much that rejection stung. She bit the inside of her lip.
"Let's get back to the hotel," Marshall pushed himself away from the table. Mary nodded without meeting his eyes. She stood up and pulled some bills from her pocket blindly and tossed them on the table. Marshall looked at them sideways and cocked his eyebrow at Mary but she still didn't look at him. He mentally shrugged and followed her back to the car.
Mary pushed through the door of her hotel room, not waiting for Marshall and she flopped down on the bed, closing her eyes. She didn't bother to close the connecting door or even pull the covers down. When Marshall peeked in on her a few minutes later she was sound asleep. He slid her shoes off and pulled the comforter over her before heading back to his own room and sliding into bed.
"Marshall, Nooo," the scream pierced straight through Marshall's gut and his dream and he was on his feet, glock in hand before Mary's voice had faded away. He burst through the still open connecting door and cleared the room before he turned to Mary. His gaze softened, she was still asleep and fighting valiantly with the covers. He laid his pistol on the dresser before he approached her.
"Hey, Mer," he wrestled her for the sheets and finally caught her by the forearms. "It's just a dream, wake up." He had to give her firm shake before she opened her eyes. He saw stark terror there before she was able to hide it and he sat on the bed next to her. He pulled her toward him, strong arms comforting. He heard the whimper in the back of her throat as she came to the rest of the way. She hid her face against his shoulder and her ragged breathing finally slowed. He was quiet until she pulled away from him and wiped at her face. "Tell me," he squeezed her hand and didn't let her retreat when she made to move away.
"It was just a dream," she muttered darkly.
"Nightmare more like." It wasn't a question.
"Are you still angry at me?" Her voice sounded smaller, more vulnerable in the dark.
"What?" He was genuinely confused. "Angry, no I," he paused as realization set in. "Mer," he sounded tired. "I was never angry with you." He put his hand on her shoulder and his fingertips bit into her skin. He couldn't see her clearly but he knew he had her complete attention. "I was scared to death. It would kill me to lose you. I'm sad about Norman, disappointed that he couldn't make a different choice but I need you. Our jobs are not without risks. I'm aware of that every day but I need you. Every time you do something crazy like that I wonder if this is it. I wonder if you know how much I love you."
Mary watched him drop his head in exhaustion. The fingers on her shoulder went slack but he left his hand there. She reached up and traced the outline of his jaw with the tips of her fingers. He shivered, a fine tremor that made her pause for a moment. "You love me?" Her voice was an octave higher than normal. He took her hand
"Shh, don't say anything. I didn't tell you to hear you lie and say you return the feelings. I know that you don't feel the same. I told you so that next time you want to go off half cocked you might think about how it will affect other people. The people who love you."
Mary couldn't have said anything even if she'd known what to say. She blinked back tears and studied Marshall carefully. How had she not known how he felt? She opened her mouth again and he gently pressed his fingers against her lips.
"Really Mer, this won't change anything."
"Jesus Marshall," her voice was strangled. "How can you say something like that and then say that it won't change anything. It will change everything."
"It won't. I feel the same way I always have and you feel the same way you always have. I didn't say this to change you. I just said it so that you would know that your actions effect more than just you." He sighed. "Go back to sleep, it's the middle of the night." He stood and walked back toward the door separating the two rooms.
"Wait," she found her voice as he pulled the door behind him. He stopped and looked at her through the darkness. "Don't, don't close the door."
Marshall smiled. "I'll leave the door open."
AN: I hesitated to post this because I'm not entirely sure that I like the ending - but the reality is that I never like the endings of my stories. I tend to want everything to end in happily ever after, all wrapped up with a neat bow but I don't think these two are quite there yet. I like the idea that they're 'leaving the door open' for something to happen. I think they are soul mates but Mary's not quite ready yet. I don't think that Duplicate Bridge would have needed a post script if when Mary asked if Marshall was okay she would have just reached out and touched him. All I needed was that touch that said "hey, I'm here." But because we didn't get that you all got this instead. Well, here's to hoping that someone else writes something soon because I've read and loved all the IPS fanfiction out there and I really like reading other peoples writing better than my own. Thanks for indulging my rambling author note and feedback is always greeted with kisses and hugs!