A/N: First IPS multiple-chapter project. Gah, so you'll have to forgive me if I fail miserably.

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Prologue

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She sat on the hospital bed, legs crossed awkwardly in the blue-and-white gown, a cup of jell-o in her left hand, a plastic spoon in her right. Her partner sat on the end of the bed, legs dangling off the edge; his black pants and jacket were in stark contrast to the rest of the room, all white and sanitary. Mary toyed idly with the idea that his black collared shirt made him look something between a priest and an angel of death—maybe both.

"Marshall, please," she asked, voiced strained. Her gaze was fixed on the green gelatin in her hand.

"I'm not sure I could do it, Mare," he replied after a beat, and she raised her head to meet his eyes; he knew he would eventually agree the moment their eyes met-- how many times had he seen that expression? The one she wore when she was sure that a suspect had a piece of information that she needed? "Your mom, your sister—even Raphael. It's not my place, Mare, I'm not even family."

"No," she snapped back, "you're different, but that doesn't mean you're worth any less. And you're the only one I can trust to make the decision, if you have to."

He didn't say anything, just looked at her with his brows furrowed, shoulders slumped. Mary vaguely wondered if he'd gotten any more sleep than she had in the past few weeks, and the dark shadows under Marshall's eyes answered her. He said, "Mare, I just—I just shot a man through the chest point-blank. I don't think I could take killing you, too, even if that's the right thing to do."

"Marshall," she finally said, taking a breath to calm her voice, "if this goes wrong… you know I couldn't stand spending the rest of my life hooked up to a machine and eating through a tube. If I don't come out of it, I want you to end it for me. You'd be…" she hesitated, searching for the right word, the key to appealing to his knight-in-shining-armor chivalry. "If I don't make it out okay, you'd be saving me, not killing me."

"Don't—" he began, voice sharper than he'd intended. Another pause, another breath, then in a calmer voice, "You'll be fine, Mare, don't say things like that. It's a perfectly routine--"

"I don't plan on dying, numbnuts, it's just a precaution. And you know if I asked my mom or Brandi to do it, they'd just hang on and cry until someone else made a decision for them. They'd probably just ask you, and you'd have to decide anyway, so I'm just saving them the trouble. Besides, they'd have to know about this, and they're happily ignorant in New Jersey right now. And Raph—he would never let go." She dropped her spoon and jell-o on the nightstand and picked up the sheet of paper next to it, then shifted to sit next to her partner. "If you don't do this, I'll just sign a DNR, and they can't even try to save me if I crash."

He signed.