Scene: U.S. Marshals Mary Shannon and Marshall Mann are members of a multidisciplinary task force participating in a large drug/illegal arms bust outside of the city.

*** I had read about the U.S. Marshals being extremely tough and dangerous in real life and being borrowed by other law enforcement agencies for dangerous ops, so I wanted to do something showing that with M/M. My ramblings on how M/M would roll ***

Las Vegas, NV – 6-8 months after Mary was shot – sitting in the SUV…waiting.

Friday 11pm

"…and the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland was built with the task of isolating the God Particle, or Higgs…" Marshall was saying.

"I'm going to write a book." Mary suddenly interjected into Marshall's never ending monotone on bosons…or bosoms or something.

"..what?..wait, a book?" Marshall ground some mental gears, unprepared for the segue.

"Yeah. I can't believe I haven't thought about it before…it'll be great!" Mary had that look on her face that meant she was thinking hard. The one that scared Marshall.

"Oooo kaaay. What kind of book?" He said, getting sucked into this exchange despite his better judgment.

"Non-fiction. One of those day-in-the-life-of jobbies that the reality TV losers like. I'll title it: Useless,Random Shit that Falls Out of Marshall's Piehole" she said, smiling broadly. "It'll be huge sensation…book signings…royalties!"

Marshall sneered at her. "Nice" he huffed. She chuckled.

She shifted in her seat and turned swiftly to him, mischief etched in her expression. "Uh oh" he thought, leaning away from her slightly.

"Having a conversation with you is like reading an encyclopedia. I bet you can't go the next two hours without spouting some useless trivia or mindless drivel" she challenged, her chin jutted out towards him.

"That's ridiculous" he returned, "you're just jealous that you stopped reading in the third grade and now learn everything from the back of cereal boxes." Marshall was pouting now.

"Betcha can't do it" she sing-songed, sitting back in her set and crossing her arms over her chest, looking out the side window. She started humming the theme song from Jeopardy while checking for any action at Paulie's and listening to the quiet chatter on the two-ways.

"All right" Marshall drawled after a few minutes. His expression was now sly and he was grinning evilly. "I'll take that bet if I get to name my terms."

"Hmmm? Yeah, o.k…when do we start the timer?" Mary turned back to look at Marshall, having been distracted by her own thoughts.

"Wait for it. I haven't defined the terms of the bet yet." Marshall held up a hand.

"You're kidding, right? It seems pretty simple…you keep your trap from flapping randomly for the next two hours and then you get to gloat that you won the bet for a week. Whoo!" She spun her finger in the air. Mary hadn't noticed the gleam in Marshall's eyes. "All I know is I get two hours of piece and quiet."

"If I win you have to take a Salsa dance lesson with me" Marshall declared, smiling triumphantly.

Mary looked at him like he had a third eyeball. "Oh HELL no, Twinkle Toes. God, you'd think of any excuse to feel me up, wouldn't you?"

Marshall let that one pass by and raised one eyebrow at her. "Are you reneging on your bet? Because if you are I win by default" he challenged. "And not only would you have to dance, I swear I'll manage to talk continuously about absolutely nothing for the next two hours just because I can!" He poked her in the shoulder with one finger for good measure.

The next forty seconds were taken up by a glaring contest in the SUV.

"Fine!" she spat at him. "You're such a friggin' girl! But if I win, we drive my car for the next week and you're paying for the gas…and lunch". She flipped her hair back over her shoulder and glared out the window.

Marshall shuddered. He thought that riding in Mary's car was like hanging on to the underside of a bus. Just as dangerous and noxious. Still…

"Deal" He said with a satisfied grin on his face, thinking, "This'll be a piece of cake". He programmed the timer on his wristwatch and said, "…and we start, now."

The next half hour was taken up by a lot of silence. There were occasional updates by the command center on the radios and the random pre-op quips that helped everyone relieve the nervous tension. Mary would chit chat infrequently, but every time she asked Marshall a question she'd get a one or two word answer. It was actually kind of irritating so she said, "What? Now I get the silent treatment?"

He held up one finger in her direction while he finished his sweep with the field glasses. He looked at her with eyes wide in innocence. "I wouldn't want to accidentally voice any trivia or drivel."

He then droned in a flat voice. "Oh, the dress code at the Salsa studio requires you to wear a skirt…and heels." He could see a slightly panicked look come over her face and quickly ducked his head so she didn't see him laughing silently. "No hitting!" he yelped right before she punched him in the shoulder…hard. "Ow!"

"That wasn't part of the deal!" She whined. "Oh my god, I've got to do something to get out of this. He's really going to make me go through with it!" The thought of Marshall's hands around her waist were making her squirm internally…and inappropriately.

"Au contraire" he said snootily, "it is part of the whole lesson package. It's not my fault you didn't ask to hear about the fine print." He knew he was pushing his luck, but just couldn't stop himself now.

Mary sulked for a few minutes and shot him dirty looks from the other side of the truck. "Think, Mary, think..." She knew Marshall was a stickler for detail and she also knew he'd hold her to this bet. She was going to have to try for a straight chicken move. She sighed.

"Then I'm not going to do it." She declared. "The bet's off, you can lecture at will" She waved her hands in the air to punctuate the permission.

Marshall would not be dissuaded. This opportunity was way too good to pass up and he was a glutton for punishment. He gave her a stony stare, "Oh no…you're not going to weasel out on this. You don't weasel out on bets or dares. I know you better than that."

Then he sat back, as though he was deep in thought and stroked his chin. "Anyway, if you don't go, there's still that picture…." He trailed off, watching her in his peripheral vision. "Never know if it could make its way into the main break room…or maybe Bobby D. would like one for the squad room…hmmm"

Now, Mary knew there were pictures and then there were pictures. She had been in enough compromising situations throughout their partnership to know there was a chance Marshall had one of the latter. She was flipping through her mental rolodex of embarrassment at light speed. Marshall could almost hear the motors racing. He tried to hide a smile. Mary always seemed to forget what a bastard he could be when he wanted to.

She took the bait. "What picture?"

"Remember Trina's bacherlorette party?" he began, looking at her with raised eyebrows.

He continued when her eyes widened slightly and her mouth made a little "o". "There you were, in that dress…and there was that cop…what was his name? Peter…Rod? I seem to remember a lot of cameras going off when you fell into his lap. Oh…and that little, gold g-string he had on was fabulous!" He could see her breathing more heavily and shooting looks that would kill an ordinary mortal. "Ah, my total annihilation approaches, but I'll die happy!" he thought with a chuckle.

"You do not have a picture of that" she hissed, encroaching onto his side of the SUV. "I would know if you had a picture of that!" "Holy Crap!" she thought as she was recalling the situation. The dress itself was scandalous, her breasts only stayed inside the material because Brandi was a wizard with double sided duct tape. She did remember being pushed into that cop's lap, ass over elbows, by one of Trina's drunk friends. She's pretty sure everyone got an eyeful of more than just her thigh holster. She was trying to stare at Marshall hard enough to get him to crack if he was lying. Since he wouldn't look at her, the insufferable man was pointedly ignoring her, she couldn't get a good read on him.

"Shit." She caved and sat back. She would rather gussy up and dance than think of the alternative. She could see him smiling now, all proud of himself. "I don't know why everyone thinks you're the nice one" she sneered.

"'Cause I'm prettier!" he grinned. She threw a water bottle at him.

"You're a jackass" she mumbled.

"Yes, but I'm soon to be a victorious jackass" he picked up the field glasses again. "Only one hour left".

The two-way crackled to life with Command's voice: "We've got unexpected traffic in the drop zone. Two cars and a truck. Either the timetable got moved up or we've got a situation. Time to escalate. Everyone in position in ten."

** I love it when Marshall wins! Please review if you can. **