*** Angst with hope and love. A one shot that came to me while driving home today. ***

They were ambushed behind Clyde's Deli while making the supposedly safe crossing through the alley to the pool hall. Told not to leave any evidence, three men loaded two unconscious Marshals and one bleeding and pleading witness into the nondescript, blue van and drove slowly into Chicago traffic. Weapons were taken, fingers laced together behind backs and duct tape applied…the versatile, gray tape then wound tightly over eyes and slack mouths. Men without guidance waiting for orders…men without morals passing the time.

Marshall awoke painfully to darkness and the stench of urine. Face on the floor, shoulders screaming for release. Nausea. He knew he had been beaten, but did not remember when or where. Rolling onto his side, he measured the space he was in. Closet. Empty but for him…but for him. "Mary!" his thoughts were frantic, rummaging through scattered images and sounds in search of any clue to her location. He remembered walking with her, looking for danger and finding it. Then sounds of foreign tongues before oblivion. Assessing the damage done to his body he found he was wounded, but not critically. Bruised ribs, kidneys and head…nothing broken, nothing bleeding.

Escape. The tall man had been in worse situations than this and began to plan. Trying not to think about his partner because the tears would be trapped by the duct tape. He would find her. Now sitting up against the side of the wall he realized he could not loosen himself from the tape. With fingers bound together and wrapped tightly, he was too tall to pull his arms around his legs to place them in front. Sliding. Looking for anything sharp or rough along the wall…anything to rub the tape against. The silence was deafening and he had immediate vertigo if not resting against the wall. Lack of sensory input besides pain and smell. "Mary…" he caught a sob, hoping she was only as bad off as he.

Sounds. Coming closer and he stilled. Thumps and voices outside the door then fresh air as it was opened. Laughter from a man and a soft, heavy body falling across his. The door shut and the sounds receded. His heart in his throat as he recognized her shape and size, breathing and warm. "Mary!" coming out as a strangled mumble behind the duct tape. She stirred and startled, trying to get away from him awkwardly. Marshall called her name again, trying to calm her, focus her. The struggling woman quieted and moaned, then was crawling over his legs to straddle his lap and lay against his torso, face buried in his neck and panting. He could feel the roughness of duct tape over her face. Arms also restrained as no hands touched him. She shuddered and trembled and he could smell her. Sweat. Blood. Semen. He knew what they had done and was suffused with rage. No way to comfort or protect her, he could only lay his head against hers and mumble incoherently. "Love you, love you, love you…" He felt her nod as she somehow understood. Both alive.

Working in tandem after she got her bearings. Nudges and taps, grunts and mumbles as they searched for the tools to release them. Sweating. No luck. Trapped and dizzy from the stuffy air and obstructed airways. Resting cheek to cheek for the mere skin to skin contact, each willing the other to hang on. Silently pledging to die together if they couldn't. The men came for her again, but not without a fight. Marshall diving and pushing her into the corner, kicking at the invisible figures. Connected with a kneecap and heard a satisfying crack…rewarded with fists to the head and boots to the ribs. He was down and disoriented now and heard her struggle behind him. Not able to right himself as she waged her own war and inflicted her own injury. Wildcat. Angry, foreign words and flesh hitting flesh to subdue. They dragged her screaming in anger from the closet as Marshall added his own yells of frustration and fury. "No, no, no!...please bring her back alive." He offered up a prayer in desperation as air hungry lungs could not meet demand and his vision faded to black.

Flicker. Like an old time projector warming up, the images were jerky and blurry. Not images…sensations. Still in the closet, still on the floor…still alone. He sobbed now, no other options seemed right and the tears fought their way out of the duct tape and onto his cheeks. Ribs aching and head throbbing, he could only wait and hope. Hope Mary was brought back to him, hope she was alive, hope she was sane, hope someone would come for them. Not trying to die yet. Waiting. Flicker to gray…then black.

A breath of fresh air with voices and curses. He lay still to avoid their attention and was nearly sick with relief when she was tossed onto him. She was limp and still this time and Marshall grunted her name and nudged her…again…and again. Holding his breath he could hear hers and he waited for her to come back to him. He rolled and positioned himself with her head in his lap. Wanting to have fought her fight. Humming to her because he had nothing else to offer. Drained. Tired…jarred awake by her stirring and his energy slightly renewed with new hope. Calling to her through the tape. Her moans stabbed at him while she became aware and whimpers turned his heart inside out. He may have whimpered with her…or moaned, or heard the echoes of his own pain. She moved listlessly and pressed her head against his leg deliberately three times to let him know she was awake. Tensing his thigh muscles in reply, then still. Nothing to do now, nothing to say and breathing became their focus. Together.

Shouts and running footsteps near the door. Marshall rolling over Mary, the only protection he can give and she does not protest. Shots. The gunfire music to their ears and their breathing increases. His muffled shouts barely audible and her silence deafening. Silence again and his mind screams in denial. Waiting. Finally fresh air and hands pulling him up as Marshall struggles to remain as her shield. Not going to let them take her this time and will fight to the death. Voices in English with commands he recognizes… "stand down Marshal!" His struggles decrease and he allows himself to be moved to the side, but not out of contact as they are taken from the closet.

Stabbing pain in his hands and shoulders as tape is released and circulation restored while he eagerly sucks air from his now open mouth. Skin on his face rubbed raw from adhesive and eyes blinded by even the dim light. He quickly looks for her and slumps back to the floor to bring his face near hers as she is freed. Disconnecting from the visible damage he seeks only her eyes and is rewarded by a clear, emerald gaze. "Hey" she whispers just for him. "Hey" sounds beautiful and he whispers it back and it is all that is needed. Masks, needles and faces intrude on their solace and to each darkness beckons…both succumbing knowing light is on the other side.

They are inseparable while healing takes place, refusing to be rushed and following commands. She cannot sleep by herself and he has nightmares long after the physical wounds are healed. They survive as a team since the alternative is never acceptable. Mary asks him to make her whole again and he lovingly and carefully repairs every molecule, infusing her with dignity and strength. She smiles again and he learns new quips and they can laugh. A closet always looms, but they filled it with unneeded angst and tears, no longer room for them to fit. Fresh air and a whispered 'hey'.

*** Something different, hope you liked it. Please REVIEW! ***