*** These two won't stop fighting...ouch. I don't own the characters, and there are spoilers throughout so you are warned.***

The wedding was two months away and her stomach hurt every morning as she saw the planning magazines on the table and countertops, the little cake samples in the freezer that she told Raph she'd try this weekend, and that damn ring. She never wore it at work now, didn't even keep it in her pocket anymore because it hurt him. Marshall didn't know it, but he involuntarily flinched every time he saw it and it broke her heart. She had no joy in this wedding any longer, no joy in this relationship and she didn't know what to do. No, that wasn't right, she did know what to do, but was too afraid and too proud to do it. Mary was so angry at herself for her own hesitations and self deception that she lashed out at all who stood before her and tried to make her see herself.

It was one of their horrible fights. The kind that just gets nasty and hurtful, each trying to dig the knife in a little deeper to see who will bleed first. Unfortunately, Mary was too good at it and usually won, then walked away more wounded from her own self inflicted torture as she relived her ill conceived victory than from the arrows launched during the event itself.

They were at the office past five, just the two of them, and Marshall asked a simple question.

"Is it all right if I bring someone to the wedding?" he tossed it out casually, eyes on his paperwork.

Mary was stunned, and her stomach clenched for some reason, "Oh. Well, yeah…sure. You have someone in mind or are you going to cruise the street corners on the way to the church?"

Still studying his forms, Marshall replied, "I've been seeing someone for a few weeks and I think it might stick for a while."

She was now just staring at him, "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I thought about it, but then decided it was none of your damn business."

It was the same line she used on him when they fought about her telling Raph she was a WITSEC inspector, and it hit her now in the same way it must've hit him them. She felt completely dismissed and shut out.

"Fine. If you're going to be an ass about it then, no, you can't bring her to the wedding." she lashed out with hurt feelings.

He looked up at her with that expression of forced tolerance on his face, "I was only asking to be polite, Mare. My invitation said 'and guest' so I don't actually need your permission." He hadn't opened the invitation yet and it just sat on the counter.

Mary turned in her chair to face him, "Why are you acting like this?"

"Like what? Like a person who is frustrated that his best friend is making the worst mistake of her life?" He threw his hands into the air and let them fall to the desk with a slam. Just couldn't keep his mouth shut anymore.

He had hinted at it before, but this was the first time she had heard the words come out of his mouth. "Marshall, we've talked about this. It's not a mistake, it's what I want…he's a good man."

"It may be what you want, but it's not who you want. I see it in your face everyday when he calls, or when he reaches out to touch you. You don't even carry your ring around anymore. I'll say it again; you've painted yourself into a corner on purpose, because it would be too hard to back out now, and God forbid anyone would think Mary Shannon makes mistakes." He had actually raised his voice slightly, and she saw him mentally regroup.

"Jesus, Marshall, get off your high horse. My whole relationship with Raph has stuck in your craw since the get go. The man has done nothing wrong and you've lumped him in with the other crap we have to deal with. It's like you can't find a single redeeming characteristic about him…like you want him to screw up and fail. What is your fucking problem?" She was getting angrier because she knew he was right and had been wondering about the underlying reasons for Marshall's increasingly foul moods as the wedding got closer.

Marshall leaned across his desk with an incredulous look on his face, "Done nothing wrong? For God's sake, Mare, the man cheated on you at least once, manipulated you into agreeing to marry him, didn't even shed a tear when you were shot and hired a crew to fix your house when you were laid up even though you expressly forbid it. The warning signs are right in front of you! What's it going to take to make you take the God damn blindfold off?"

She was on her feet now, not wanting to hear this, "So he's not the best decision maker and doesn't get all weepy in a crisis. That doesn't mean he doesn't care about me, asshole. He wants to make me happy. What the fuck is wrong with that?"

Marshall surged to his feet and began to pace, "God, Mare…when are you going to quit lying to yourself? Quit lying to everybody? If the man actually cared about you he'd be able to look at you and see how miserable you are! He wants to make a woman happy, but he has no idea how to make you happy. He will never know how to make you happy…because he has no desire to know who you really are." He actually pounded his fist on the desk once or twice to emphasize his point.

"I'm not miserable, asswipe! You know I'm a bitch when I have a lot going on, and there's just too many things hitting me at once right now. This is not helping! Why are you doing this? So what if he doesn't always know how to trip my trigger…at least he tries. That's more than any other man has ever done."

"And what sort of comparison are you using there? Jesus, Mare, you bang them and walk away…not exactly a lot of time for anyone to try to do anything except put their underwear back on! So you decided Raph was the man of your dreams because he was too big a pussy to tell you to take a hike when you kicked him to the curb the first time? He's stupid enough to crawl back and that's your definition of trying to make you happy? That's fucking pathetic!" Marshall was mad…really mad and almost yelling.

Mary's head was swimming in confusion, hurt and anger. The things her partner was saying were true, but she didn't want to hear them or believe them. She felt tears gathering in her eyes and was running out of excuses to counter his accusations, so she turned to barbs instead.

"You're saying I'm a pathetic liar, Marshall? That's what you think of me? Just because your little idea of what makes Mary happy is challenged you decide I'm at fault? Maybe you ought to look at your own pathetic life a little more closely. At least I have someone who loves me!" She was gratified and mortified by the look on his face at the same time.

He took a few deep breaths and said quietly, "Do you really hate yourself that much?" He came to stand just a few feet in front of her before continuing, "That you would accept unhappiness for yourself and force misery on a man who loves you in order to punish yourself for sins that aren't even yours?"

She knew there were tears on her face now and the fury wrapped around her as he hit the issue on the head, "Don't you dare tell me what sins I have to atone for or what happiness I deserve or don't deserve. You have no right."

He just stared at her, a silent plea in his eyes, then whispered, "I can't watch you do this, Mare…I just can't."

Her gut twisted and she wanted to pour out every doubt and regret and ask for his help, but she could not let go, "Then close your eyes, fuckwit. It's the only way you won't see it." Mary pushed by him and stormed out of the office. He stood there for a long time before slowly heading home.

*** *sniff* You just know there will be ramifications for this. Let me know what you think so far! ***