*A/N: Here it is! We've come to the end of this saga! Grab your pie and your favorite topping: ice cream, whipped cream, etc. and dig in! I'm glad that so many of you liked the last chapter - that one was a surprise to me but it was one of my favorites to write! In honor of all the flashbacks that have occurred in this story, please note that this chapter is a Flash Forward*
"I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much
All of the while I never knew.
I think that possibly
Maybe I'm falling for you.
Yes there's a chance that I've fallen quite hard over you.
I've seen the waters that make your eyes shine-
Now I'm shining too."
--Falling in love at a Coffee Shop, by Landon Pigg
Maggie's Pie Shop, 3 years later
Maggie looked up from behind the counter and smiled as the sound of her two favorite customers' voices reached her ears before they came into sight.
"Why is it when I do that exact same move I get a reprimand write-up in my file for using excessive force but when you do it, Stan looks the other way?" Mary stopped just inside the doorway and turned on her partner, lifting her chin to glare at him. She hated the fact that she was wearing heels and she still had to look up slightly in order to meet his eyes to give him a stare down.
Marshall put up his hands in self defense. "Well, maybe it's because I only do that particular 'move' as you call it once every six months and not once every six days."
Mary lifted her purse for a swing at his amused face but Marshall easily dodged her attempt. "Weak, Mer."
Mary sniffed and replied to his earlier comment. "I have to do those 'moves' because I wear the pants in our partnership and you make me do all the heavy lifting. In fact, I'm surprised you're not rusty from lack of practice," she taunted.
Marshall's grin widened and he leaned down to whisper in her ear. "But, Mon petit Chou, you're forgetting all the practice I get in our bedroom." He leaned back quickly to avoid her backhanded swat, noticing with pride the quick flush that spread across her face. Clearing his throat, he stepped into the small shop and addressed Maggie for the first time. "Hi Maggie, how's business?"
"I can't complain, Marshall. People are always hungry for pie – are the two of you eating in or getting something to go?"
Marshall whipped out his blackberry and started to scroll through their appointments for the rest of the day when Mary's hand closed over his. "Relax, Doofus. We have time for a piece of pie. Grab a booth and try to decide what kind you want today – I have to visit the little girl's room."
Marshall slipped his blackberry into his back pocket as he leaned down to whisper in her ear, "You're no girl."
Mary swatted his behind. "Enough! Wait until I get you home," and she gave her hips an extra little sway as she walked away.
Marshall groaned and collapsed into the nearest booth. Maggie had to say his name three times before he finally focused on her. "I'm sorry – how long have you been standing there?"
Maggie laughed and leaned against the table. "I gotta tell you, Marshall. You two always acted like an old married couple before – but lately you act like newlyweds." She paused and was enormously satisfied when he blushed. "So, pie?"
When Mary returned to the table from the bathroom, Marshall was already halfway through his piece of peach pie a la mode. Her piece of chocolate peanut butter pie lay untouched across from him.
Sliding into the other side of the booth she picked up her fork and took a bite. She rolled her eyes in delight and noticed Marshall's eyes on her in satisfaction. "What if I wanted a different kind today?" she smirked as she placed another bite in her mouth.
Marshall snorted. "You wanted to come to Maggie's and not get your favorite pie? R-ii-gg-hht," he mockingly dragged the last word out. "But if you're looking for something different today." And he reached into his shirt pocket and plunked something small and shiny onto the table between them.
Mary's eyes widened in surprise as her fork dropped back onto the plate. "What is that?"
"Mer, are you feeling a little dim today? I think you know what it is – it's an engagement ring." He began to fidget nervously.
"I can see that. What is it doing there on the table? Are you trying to ask me something, cowboy?"
Marshall's palms began to sweat and his head was spinning and for a moment he seriously thought he was going to pass out. He had to consciously tell his lungs to take in air and the next thing he was aware of was Mary's hands caressing his face. When had she moved to his side of the booth?
"Doofus – are you all right? You're not going to faint on me, are you?"
Blue met green and he smiled. "Mer, I'm asking you to marry me. Over the past eight years we've become partners, best friends, lovers, roommates. I want us to be husband and wife."
She sighed and leaned her head against the back of the booth, closing her eyes. "You know I'm not the happily ever after girl, Marshall."
He leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers – gently, softly, and earnestly – and Mary was lost. Lost to this man who knew her better than anyone; knew the good, the bad, and the ugly and loved her anyway. She was lost forever to this man who had loved her and been by her side all along, in plain sight.
Marshall broke their kiss and leaned his forehead against hers, taking a moment to catch his breath. "I love you Mer, all of you. No one else knows you like I do – you've never let anyone else in like you have me. I'm your match in every way – professionally and personally. I'll be happy to spend the rest of my life by your side, going on as we are now, but I thought that you were starting to give me some signs that you might be open to this-" He was beginning to babble but he didn't know how to stop. She hadn't answered his question and was just looking at him – he hated it when she just looked at him without saying anything.
"You know I can't take you seriously when you start spouting romantic drivel like this, Marshall!" she teased.
He giggled. "At least I'm not wearing my Yosemite Sam pajamas too."
With a slight shake of her head and a laugh, Mary brought her lips crashing back to his. This kiss was pure Mary – fierce and passionate, a meeting of lips and teeth and tongues. But Marshall, who was her partner in every way, met her halfway and was an equal participant.
When Mary broke the kiss a few minutes later, she laughed at Marshall's inability to speak. His mouth was opening and closing, trying to form words but no sound was coming out. She ate a few more bites of her pie while she waited for Marshall to recover his scattered brain cells.
"Was that a yes?" he finally whispered.
She turned back to him with a smile and used her left hand to cup his face. "You're trembling, Marshall."
"I love it that after two years together I can still shut your pie trap and fry your brain. I hope that still holds true in twenty years."
Marshall grabbed her hands. "Is that a yes?" he repeated.
"Marshall, look at my hand," she instructed softly just as she saw the look of realization dawn on his face. He looked down at their clasped hands and saw the ring twinkling on her left ring finger. He laughed in pure joy and crushed her to him.
"You didn't do it right – I'm supposed to put it on your finger!" he pouted.
She clocked him on the back of his head, gently. "Idiot! You didn't do it right either – you're supposed to get down on one knee!"
He pulled away from her so he could look her in the eye as he sobered. "Do you want me to do it over?" he asked in all seriousness.
She rolled her eyes at him and nestled her head on his chest. "No, Doofus! You did it right – and this ring is never coming off my finger again."
"I love you, Mer."
Maggie approached the booth with their check. "All right you two, break it up! This is a family establishment – save it for the bedroom!" she laughed.
Marshall blushed and tried to grab Mary's hand as he feared she was going to give Maggie the bird. Mary scowled at him and held up her left hand. "Look Maggie, Marshall gave me shiny!"
"Oh my God, you guys! Congratulations!" Maggie squealed and fell on them both, squeezing tightly. "I'll leave you to celebrate, just keep it PG! Oh, and I expect to be catering that reception!" At the couple's slightly confused looks, Maggie laughed again. "What, did you seriously think you were going to have cake?" She picked up Marshall's credit card and left to ring up the transaction.
"She's right – I want pie at my wedding." Marshall smiled in triumph as he finished his piece. "And so do you, if I remember correctly from a conversation we had awhile back in this very establishment."
Mary smiled at the memory of that day, remembering her amazement that he had described her dream wedding down to the last detail. God, I really was blind back then. She looked at the ring on her finger and then at the crazy man next to her. "So cowboy, what does your dream wedding look like?"
"You mean besides having twenty different kinds of pie? And you as the blushing bride?" he waggled his eyebrows at her.
'Tell me again why we're not married.' Her words from their conversation long ago echoed in her ears and she saw again in her mind's eye the flash of pain across his face that those words had caused. I promise you Marshall, never to knowingly cause you pain, she silently vowed.
She cupped his face in her hands and watched as the teasing light left his eyes and he went perfectly still, waiting for her. "You have me – I love you, Marshall." She leaned forward and kissed him softly even as she felt him shiver. When she pulled back he was still sitting perfectly still, with his eyes shut tight.
"Marshall?" she ran her fingers through his hair and he slowly blinked his eyes open. "Where did you go?"
"I'm here," he gave her one of his slow, lazy smiles. "I thought maybe you were saving those words for the wedding night," he said lightly.
"What words- Oh my God," she breathed. I said that out loud? She ran her hands nervously through her hair only to have her ring get tangled in her locks. "Ouch, damn it!"
Marshall chuckled. "Hold still, let me help." He gently untangled the hair that had gotten wound around the setting and then held her left hand in his to prevent her from bolting. "You didn't realize you had said it out loud, huh?"
She smiled sheepishly at him and shrugged her shoulders. "No – but that doesn't make it any less true. I – I just don't say those words easily."
He began to play gently with the ring on her finger. "I know that, Mer. I know you, remember? I never needed to hear the words from your lips to know that you love me. Actions speak louder than words and your actions over the past two years that we have been together have said plenty about how much you love me."
"Doofus, you're speaking romantic drivel again," she warned.
"Right, sorry." Marshall sat up straighter and cleared his throat noisily. "So, are you going to finish your pie?"
"Hands off!" she picked up her fork and made a stabbing motion at him with it. "Get your own piece!"
Laughing, he signaled Maggie who not only brought their receipt, but his second piece of peach pie.
"So, seriously, you want twenty kinds of pie at our wedding reception?" Mary scoffed.
"What's wrong with that? Who doesn't like pie? Pie makes everything better," he was teasing her but his heart was singing inside because she had used the phrase 'our wedding'. "I'll let you carry your gun in your bouquet as long as you promise not to load it so you can't shoot the guests," he bargained.
"Deal. But no cream pies – I can just see you chasing me all over the room and planting my face in the pie and getting whipped cream all over my dress!"
Marshall dropped his fork in shock. "You're going to wear a dress for our wedding?"
Mary shrugged and popped the final bite of chocolate peanut butter pie in her mouth. She chewed slowly, making him wait for her answer. "I'd wear a dress – for you."
He blinked slowly. "I think I need you to pinch me."
"What?" she looked at him in disbelief.
"I think I'm dreaming."
"Idiot, we're both awake. But if you really need proof," and she pinched his upper arm.
"Ouch!" Marshall winced.
"Quit being a baby – I'll kiss it and make it better later," she smiled lasciviously and he blushed. "Finish your pie."
"Bossy," he said teasingly, shaking his fork at her.
Mary laughed and rested her left hand on top of his free one. With a smile of triumph, she caught her fiancé's eye and said, "So cowboy, I seem to remember a conversation we had awhile back about you thinking that a relationship between you and me was pie in the sky. What do you have to say for yourself now?"
**Yum - delicious goodness! Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any and all final thoughts - please review!**