*Happy Spring, everyone! Here's my first M/M one shot! Also posted on the Mary_Marshall community*

Mary hated pet names and terms of endearment. The annoying trend started early in life with parents babbling away to their newborns, calling them 'precious', 'little one', or 'darling'. Mary didn't get the allure of babies in the first place and then to watch adults turn into simpering idiots around them severely tried her patience. Jinx's pet name for her had been 'sweet pea' – and the name still made Mary grit her teeth. Her mom only employed the name nowadays when she was very tipsy or she wanted something or both. Raph called her 'querida'; that is until she threatened to kick him in the balls because she refused to be any man's "honey". Raph had just laughed and been sure to call her his querida a little less often from then on. He did however make the mistake of calling her his princess once and if Mary hadn't been recovering from her shooting, who knows what punishment she would have dished out. No one called her princess – not anymore.

One of Mary's earliest childhood memories was looking out the apartment window, her little nose pressed flat against the glass, watching for her father to come home from work. (It was years before Mary found out the truth about her father's daytime activities.) As soon as their beat up car rounded the corner of the block, Mary was out the apartment door and crashing down the stairs as fast as her four-year-old legs could carry her. She watched and waited from the front entry as he parked the car and started up the walk, looking for the perfect moment to spring. Just as her father was reaching for the doorknob on the outside, Mary pushed against the door hard from her side, causing it to open enough for her to squeeze through. James Shannon staggered back a step as his daughter launched herself at his legs. Laughing, he reached down and swung her up into his arms.

"How's my princess? Did you have a good day? Did you take care of your mother for me?"

Mary giggled and nodded solemnly to his questions and said mommy was resting. She looked sadly at him for a minute. "We didn't go to the store today, daddy. Mommy said she was tired."

James smiled and hugged his little girl tight. "Don't worry, Princess. The king is here now and will take care of everything."

Mary giggled again but then added, "Daddy, there is no food for dinner."

James laughed as he bounced up the stairs with her in his arms. "I got paid today. What do you say I take you and your mother out to eat? Somewhere fit for a king, queen, and their princess?" He fished a large wad of bills out of his jacket pocket and handed a few to Mary. Her eyes grew big and round, her mouth falling open as she took the money from his hand.

She wiggled out of his arms as he set her down. Mary ran into the apartment ahead of him calling out to Jinx as she went, "Mommy! Daddy is rich! He said we can go out to eat! I want a toy!"

That was one of the good times, when Daddy had come home with pockets full of money. There had been far too many times when he had come home without, angry and resentful and looking for money. Mary lay curled up on her bed in her room and listened to her parents yell at each other for hours after she was supposed to be asleep. She didn't understand what was happening. Why did they have lots of money one day – and then there was no money? And why was Mommy yelling at Daddy and saying it was his fault? Most nights after the arguments were done her daddy would creep into her room and sit by her bed. Mary always screwed her eyes up tight and pretended to be fast asleep. Daddy never said anything, just sat there for a long time in the dark. When he would finally get up to leave, he would brush a kiss against her forehead and whisper, "I love you, princess. Whatever happens, never, ever forget that." He sounded so sad when he said those words that Mary wanted to open her eyes and throw her arms around his neck and tell him that she loved him and everything was going to be OK. But she didn't and he always slipped out of her room without knowing she was awake and heard him. Those words were the last ones she heard her daddy say: "I love you princess. Never, ever forget that."

No one called Mary Shannon princess. She hated pet names and terms of endearment and the people who used them – until she met Marshall Mann.

When Mary met her new partner Marshal Marshall Mann, her first impressions were less than favorable. He looked like a strong wind would blow him over and his head was full of more useless trivia than Wikipedia. He was constantly telling her things she never wanted to know about any topic under the sun. While he was riding shotgun with her to visit witnesses, he regaled her with stories about his childhood, his hobbies, and why moths naturally gravitate towards the light.

"It's because moths are positively phototactic. They are affected by the phenomenon known as phototaxis. Basically that means how a creature responds to light. Cockroaches, for example, love dark corners and places because they are negatively phototactic. But moths are the opposite – they are drawn to the light. They crave it, seek it out and that's why they are drawn to your porch light and other bright lights, especially at night when it's dark – what?" Marshall broke off as he noticed how Mary was staring at him from the driver's seat.

"Is there something you can take for that? For the constant diarrhea of the mouth you have? All I asked was if I should get a bug zapper for my porch because of all the bugs at night."

One month into their partnership she barged into Stan's office and demanded a partner change. Stan laughed in her face.

"And who would you have me partner you with, Mary? According to your file, you've pissed off your last two partners so badly they said they'll never work with you again. Your partner before that actually took early retirement to get away from you – do I need to go on?"

Mary stopped her pacing long enough to glare at him and lean on his desk. "That string bean out there can't protect me, Stan. He's all about rules and regs and trivia and he drives me completely nutty! When was the last time he fired his weapon, anyway?"

Stan chuckled and handed her a piece of paper from a file. "I was waiting to give you this for the day you came complaining to me about Marshall. Here's his shooting accuracy on the range."

Mary ripped the paper from his hands so fast she almost gave him paper cuts. She scanned the sheet and then snorted. "Stan, our percentage is the same. This was supposed to impress me? Make me feel better?"

Stan got up and came around the desk to her side. He tapped the sheet of paper for emphasis. "Mary, this is his percentage with both hands – his shooting hand is the same as yours but his non-shooting hand. . ." he let his voice trail off.

Mary's eyes fell on the numbers again. "Damn it!" she swore softly and her eyes flew to her string bean of a partner who was calmly sitting at his desk, sipping some frilly coffee beverage and scanning his computer files. Her mind could still conjure all kinds of unflattering nicknames for him: idiot, doofus, beanpole, numb nuts. But numbers didn't lie and if these numbers were right, Marshall's non-shooting hand percentage was two points higher than hers. She slapped the paper down on Stan's desk and yanked open his office door. She strode over to Marshall's desk calling out as she went,

"Hey, string bean! You about done with your morning coffee break? We have a stop to make before our first visit. Bring your gun," she grinned at him as she put on her jacket and headed for the door. She missed the slightly panicked look Marshall shot Stan and the amused smirk he gave back to his two inspectors.

A year into their partnership, Mary found out that her string bean of a partner could really be a bad ass when he needed to be. They had escorted her witness Sophia back to Miami to testify. Sophia's testimony had gone smoothly and they were making a successful exit from the back of the courthouse when Sophia broke down in tears. Sophia wanted to visit her sister one last time and Mary was trying to point out the dangers of such a visit while keeping her moving towards the van, towards safety. Sophia finally stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, crying profusely, refusing to move until Mary agreed to take her to her sister. It was the worst possible place for an emotional scene – both women were completely exposed and Marshall was furiously scanning for danger. Mary was clutching Sophia's arm, trying to get her moving again, when she heard Marshall's shout of "Gun!" at practically the same moment she felt his body collide with hers, knocking all three of them to the ground. Mary was reaching for her ankle Glock when she heard the report from Marshall's gun and then after a few tense moments, one of the Marshals from the Miami office called out: "Clear – suspect in custody."

Mary got Sophia in the van and ordered her to stay on the floor before turning to her partner. "You ok, string bean?"

He smiled shakily. "Shouldn't that be my line? You were the one in the line of fire, Mer. Tell me what you need."

The sound of sobs came from within the van and Mary rolled her eyes. "Seriously? I need Sophia to shut the hell up! I need a good stiff drink and a burger and fries, maybe onion rings, followed by lots of chocolate." The wails increased in volume and she thumped her head against the side of the van. "But I'll settle for a Frosty from Wendy's if you'll handle Sophia and get her to calm down."

With slightly shaking fingers, Marshall reached out and wiped a smudge of dirt from Mary's cheek. "That's my girl."

She glared at him. "I'm not your girl, Marshall. I thought we'd already covered this – I'm not a girl!" she punched him lightly in the shoulder.

He giggled. "Oh, I don't know. You certainly felt like a girl to me when I was on top ten minutes ago."

Her mouth dropped open in surprise as she watched her bad ass partner strut away.

"Andy, she's beautiful," Marshall sighed as he cradled the newborn gently in his arms.

Mary rolled her eyes at the goofy grin on her partner's face and turned to her witness. "Yes, Andy, she really is. Good thing she takes after her mother," Mary teased.

Rachel and Andy laughed as Marshall glared at her. She stuck her tongue out at him. "What did you say her name was?" Mary asked again.

Rachel crossed to Marshall's side and took the baby as she began to fuss a little. Rocking her gently she said, "Her name is Hannah Joy."

Andy smiled at mother and child. "Hannah means 'grace'. I certainly found grace in the eyes of the Lord for Him to give me the gift of such a beautiful little girl."

Hannah's fussing increased and Rachel moved towards the nursery. "I think Hannah is hungry. I'm going to feed her and then put her down, Andy."

Andy leaned down and kissed Hannah's forehead. "Papa will see you after your nap, my little strudel."

Mary gritted her teeth at the endearment and Marshall poked her in the side. She jumped, not realizing he had crossed the room. After Rachel and Hannah left, she questioned Andy about his new living situation.

Andy sighed. "This is a two bedroom apartment so Rachel has decided to stay with me for now. She says she wants me to have the time with Hannah and she will see if there can be a future for us as a family." The partners took their leave a few minutes later.

Mary was oddly silent on the ride back to the office. Marshall didn't push – after working together for so many years he knew when to push her into opening up and when to sit back and let her be. He had pulled into a parking space outside the Sunshine Building and turned off the motor before she turned to him.

"Why do people turn into such idiots around babies? Did you know you had the biggest, silliest grin on your face while you were holding Hannah? And did you hear what Andy called her? His little strudel?" Mary huffed.

Marshall smiled. "It's been a long time since someone called you princess, huh, Mer?"

She shot him her best death glare and he just returned her gaze, waiting.

"Why do you do that, string bean?" At his slightly questioning look, she continued. "Call me Mer instead of Mary?"

He looked at her in astonishment. "For the same reason you call me 'string bean' – it's a nickname."

"Not a very good one," she muttered.

"You don't like it?"

"It's just a shortened version of my name. You could at least call me –"

"Pumpkin? Darling? Precious? Cupcake?" he grinned, letting each word roll of his tongue with more romantic goo than the one preceding it.

"Knock it off, Doofus."

He laughed and grabbed her hand. "Ma-ry," he said, emphasizing the second half of her name deliberately. "You like to remind me you're not a girl, right? All of those sappy, goopy terms of endearment would earn smacks from you – and I happen to like not having my ass kicked by my partner. So I had to be subtle with my nicknames for you. I started with Mer, and every once in a while I drop in a "that's my girl". Although, I seem to remember the first time I used that phrase you were less than thrilled."

"That's not what happened! I said I wasn't your girl – and I wasn't, then." Mary felt her face grow warm and she reached over to slap him upside the head. "Damn it! You're turning me into a romantic idiot!"

Marshall laughed. "Your secret is safe with me, mon petit chou."

She glared at him and opened her mouth but he leaned over the center console and fused their mouths together. She was going to tell him not to call her something in French, in a language she didn't speak. He could have been calling her something nasty and disgusting but the truth was when he affected his fake French accent and called her his "mon petit chou", something delicious happened to her insides. She damned well wasn't going to tell him that. She also damned well wasn't going to tell him that the first time he had called her that she had googled the phrase. She wasn't sure why "my little cabbage" was a term of endearment and yet it sounded so like something her geek of a partner would say.

She broke away from the kiss and met his eyes. "Are you ever going to tell me what that means?"

Marshall smiled but shook his head. "I don't think so; maybe if you admit I'm the better shot with our non-shooting hands. . ." he trailed off and raised his eyebrows suggestively.

Mary's mouth fell open in amazement – she was never going to let him know now that she already knew what "mon petit chou" meant! Reaching over him, she turned the key and the engine roared to life. "Put your money where your mouth is, string bean."


*Hm, cabbages and string beans? Please review!*