I wrote this just after season two ended but never got around to posting it. Ladymars, my ever wonderful Beta, edited and everything. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own IPS; I just use the characters to further the enjoyment of all.
"Marshall, where are we going?" Mary complained. Marshall was ridiculously good at keeping secrets when he wanted to and this was one of those times. Mary still wasn't sure why she had even agreed to get into the car, yet here she was. If it had been anyone else, there was a good possibility that she would have called them some obscene name and then walked away. Marshall, however, knew just what to say to her to coerce her into the vehicle.
"I'll tell you when we get there."
"Why can't I know now?"
"Because you might jump out of the car while it's moving, roll off to the side of the road, and run away if I tell you." He grinned and she just gave him a deranged look.
"If I promise not to run, then will you tell me?"
"What are you, five?"
He didn't answer just continued to drive in silence until, finally, Mary couldn't take it anymore. "Fine! I pinky swear."
"I'm taking you out drinking," he let on as he turned down another street.
"Christ, Marshall. Why?"
"Because your sister wanted to take you to a strip club. Instead, I managed to convince her to let me take you out to a bar or two and then back to my place to get completely inebriated as long as I promised not to take advantage of you in your compromised state."
"As if you could," she scoffed.
"I can be very charming if I am so inclined."
"I'm sure," she answered, dryly. "Please tell me we're not going any place too exciting. I have no desire to see naked men… or women," she added after a pause.
"There is no nudity on the agenda for your bachelorette party."
"Can we really call this a bachelorette party when a bachelor is throwing it?"
"As your quasi-maid-of-honor, it's my job to plan it."
"No, it's your job to keep me from killing my actual maid-of-honor." She slumped down in her seat, sulking a bit. "Do we really have to go?"
"You're sister is expecting video of you completely wasted."
"An exact quote."
"You didn't agree to that, did you?"
"I agreed to completely wasted and one photo."
"Marshall," she groaned.
"Don't worry. She never specified to have an in focus picture."
"Oh, thank god. So does that mean getting drunk is equally optional?" Her tone was hopeful.
Marshall grinned impishly. "Nope."
"Well, why the hell not?"
"Because, to be honest, I'm a little curious to see what you're like drunk myself."
"You don't know?" she asked, surprised.
"How would I? In the four years I've never seen you get past the first glass."
"Did you ever think that there was a reason for that?" Mary mumbled.
"I like to think it's because you turn into an embarrassing drunk that likes to hit on men."
"Marshall, please don't make me do this."
"Calm down. I'm taking you to a bar that Dershowitz and his precinct frequent, not to mention more than a few WITSEC agents. You're going to show up, they're going to harass you, buy you a few drinks, and then we can go back to my house and watch some movies." He pulled into a local bar and she could see more than one car that seemed to scream "cop." She wondered where the unwritten rule that all cops had to drive the same car came from.
"Fine, but I'm only staying an hour tops. I'll walk home if I have to."
The bar was to her liking, had she been a big frequenter of bars. She recognized more than a few cops all hanging around playing pool and drinking. The music in the background was unobtrusive, allowing the patrons to carry on conversations. Dershowitz and a few Albuquerque PD cops greeted her as she entered, jibing her about her upcoming nuptials. She took it in stride and only actually threatened one person.
The trouble started with Dershowitz. He bought her a shot of tequila, insisting that she take it. Being Mary, she could never turn down a challenge and Dershowitz had clearly challenged her. Before anyone really knew what was happening, Mary and Dershowitz were going shot for shot. Marshall lost count after four because he turned his back for a few minutes. In the few minutes, the two had started screaming obscenities at each other between shots. That was about the time Marshall decided to take her home.
"C'mon, Mary, time to go," Marshall said after she had shouted that Dershowitz couldn't get it up for an inflatable doll.
"But I don't want to leave yet," she protested, batting away Marshall's hands. Her words were slurred and her motions slow. Marshall grabbed her by the waist and led her out the door, Mary struggling the whole way.
"It's been over an hour. You told me you'd walk home if I didn't get out of here around then." He wondered if reasoning worked as well with a drunk Mary as it did with the sober one. When she broke through his grasp and tried to head back to the bar he got his answer. Deciding that more drastic measures were needed, he grabbed her, lifted her up, and threw her over his shoulder. He quickly discovered an inebriated Mary was also a lot feistier than the sober one. She kicked, or tried to since Marshall was holding onto her legs, punched and squirmed in the attempts to get Marshall to lose his grip. There were a few times she almost succeeded but Marshall managed to hold onto her until they got to the car where he deposited her onto the front seat.
"Buckle in," he ordered. She stuck her tongue out and crossed her arms across her chest. Marshall just leaned across her and buckled her in himself. She probably didn't have the coordination right now to actually get the belt in the buckle anyways.
"Where are we going?" she asked, her voice grumpy. "And why are we going so fast?"
"Back to my house, remember? And we're not going fast; we're only doing thirty. You just think it's fast because when your blood alcohol level is above a certain point, you acquire tunnel vision. Even slow speeds make it appear as if you are going at an accelerated rate."
"I have no idea what the fuck you're talking about."
"Did anyone ever tell you that your cursing increases exponentially when you're drunk?"
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about."
"I didn't think you would." He pulled into his driveway and walked over to Mary's side to help her out of the car. She was out and walking toward his house before he had the chance to even get around the front of the car. Some things apparently didn't change no matter how many drinks she had. "Mary, how are you going to get in the house without the key?" he called after her.
"I'll use my key," she called back. He saw her pull out her keys and attempt to shove one in the door. He jogged over to her, hoping to avoid having a key stuck in his front door because she had decided to use her own house key to try and open his house.
"Where did you get this?" He slid the key into the lock and heard the deadbolt slide. He was surprised to find that it was definitely a key to his house. Mary just giggled and Marshall's eyes widened. Mary had actually giggled.
"I swiped your key one time at work and went to make a copy on my lunch hour." She smiled like a kid who just revealed some mischief they had gotten away with. Marshall realized that, in some ways, it was just like that. He opened his door and she stumbled in and made her way to his couch. She fell onto it with a decisive plop.
"Make yourself at home," he muttered.
"Do you have any more tequila?" she asked him, not turning around to look.
"Are you sure that's smart, Mary?"
"Hey, it's my bachelorette party."
He couldn't argue with her there so he grabbed his nicer bottle of tequila, his salt shaker and cut up a bowl of limes. After setting them down on the coffee table, he set down two shot glasses and topped them off.
"Salt?" he asked, offering her the shaker. She shook her head.
"Nope, you have to catch up to me," she told him. "There are your first two drinks." She gestured towards the glasses. Marshall just smiled before shaking some salt onto his hands and downing the two drinks. Mary poured him two more, albeit a little sloppily. In less than ten minutes, Marshall inhaled four shots and was working on his fifth. In record time he was as drunk as Mary was.
"It's time for you to do another one," Marshall told her, sliding a full shot over. Mary downed it without hesitation. She poured him another one. Marshall went to grab the salt but didn't find it. Mary dangled it in the air between two fingers and then with a laugh, licked her hand, shook some salt on it and held it out to Marshall. Without hesitation he leaned over and slowly licked the salt off her hand and then threw back another shot.
"And you didn't want to go out tonight," Marshall joked as he leaned back on the couch. The room was spinning slightly and he wasn't even moving. He was fairly certain that he hadn't been this drunk since college. He was probably going to regret it in the morning but, for now, sitting around with his best friend, it was just fun.
"''Cause I didn't wanted to get fucking toasted," she said as she leaned against him.
"Toasted?" He felt her shrug.
"That's what Brandi always calls it."
"I know what it means. You just don't strike me as the kind of person to use the term," he clarified.
"I'm just full of all sorts of surprises."
"I bet you can't surprise me," Marshall challenged.
"I took my mother and sister in, didn't I?"
"That doesn't surprise me. You're loyal to your family. I have a sister," he countered.
"I knew that," Mary informed him with a wave of her hand.
"Looked at your personnel file," she snickered. "I slipped vodka into Stan's coffee one morning."
"I slipped it into yours one morning."
"Jack ass. I thought it tasted funny!" He just laughed at her as she shoved him. "I willingly wore a dress once."
"So have I," he countered.
"I don't want to know."
"I did some crazy things in college."
"Ok, then I have a real doozy for you," Mary challenged. Marshall just made a noise that Mary took as he wanted her to continue. "I'm not sure I want to marry Raph in a week." She laughed like it was a big joke, but Marshall just couldn't join her. He had never wanted her to marry Raphael but, as her best friend, had kept his mouth shut.
"I don't think you should marry him," Marshall blurt out. If they were going to let out secrets, he might as well let out some of his bigger ones.
"Why the hell not?" She sounded offended. If she was, it was only mildly so.
"He's not good enough for you. Also, you don't love him."
Mary sat up and looked at him. "How the fuck do you know who I love, Marshall?"
"It's not hard to figure out. You're passionate about everything you do, Mare. About your witnesses, your life, your temper and the people you love. You don't love Raphael."
"Christ, way to drop a bomb." She slumped back onto his side.
"So why are you marrying him if you're not sure?" he asked her. She was still leaning against him but had gradually slid down until her head was in his lap.
"'Cause he asked." She answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"What if I had asked?"
"You're being fucking ridiculous, Marshall. Why the hell would you ever ask me to marry you?"
"'Cause I love you," he told him and immediately regretted it. Mary fell off the couch. "Are you alright?"
"Did you just fucking say what I think you fucking just said?"
"I haven't had enough to drink for this."
"We polished off most of the bottle. I think the problem is we had too much to drink." She turned over and looked up at him. He looked a lot sadder than he had at the beginning of the night, like he had been hiding everything for her benefit. Now he looked dismal and hurt, like he couldn't hold anything in any longer.
"Damn it," he muttered and got up. He staggered into the kitchen, the alcohol causing him to stumble more than he had anticipated. But after a second the spinning stopped and he was able to walk straight again.
"What the hell were you thinking?" she asked from her place on the floor.
"When? When I told you five seconds ago? I'm pretty sure I wasn't thinking."
"That much is obvious." She sat up and took another shot. "What were you thinking when you fell for me," she specified.
Marshall sighed and turned to look at her. "I was thinking that you're my best friend and beautiful and spirited and strong willed and caring and passionate and a perfect compliment to me and before I knew it you had me completely, one-hundred percent in love with you."
"You think I'm beautiful?" she asked, her head tilted slightly to the side as if what he had said completely confused her.
"I think you are the most gorgeous woman I have ever known in my life, as if you didn't already know it."
"You never said anything."
"I'm your partner. It wouldn't exactly have been… appropriate. Not to mention you might have figured things out and then gone running in the other direction. I'm actually a little surprised you haven't already stormed out of here."
"Too drunk," she told him. "I can't walk in a straight line, let alone run."
"Well, thank God for small blessings," Marshall muttered as he turned away from her.
Mary sat by the coffee table, staring at her partner. Marshall was right, as he usually was. Usually if anyone dropped a bombshell like this on her she wanted nothing to do with it. However, Marshall's confession made a lot of other things make sense. Maybe there was a reason that she was having doubts about her marriage to Raph. Maybe Marshall hadn't been the only one hiding a big secret for all this time. "You need another drink," Mary announced and poured it.
"I don't want any more."
"Too bad; my party." She walked over, took his hand and licked it slowly. Marshall had a hard time containing himself as he watched her do it. She sprinkled salt over his hand and handed him the shot. He downed it and looked at her.
"Where's my lime?" He looked at her and slowly her mouth opened. There, perched on the tip of her tongue, was the lime slice. Marshall grabbed her and pressed his lips against her. He tasted the tart lime juice as he used his tongue to scoop it off hers. He broke from her briefly to spit out the lime before kissing her again. Mary didn't fight it. He felt her hands in his hair, around his neck, unbuttoning his shirt.
"Mary," he said, stopping her. "You're engaged. And drunk."
"Don't care," she told him, trying for his shirt again.
"Mary, we can't."
"Marshall, do you hear me saying anything? Do you hear any argument coming out of my mouth at all?" He just shook his head. "Good, then shut up and kiss me." She pressed her lips to his and he didn't resist; all of the alcohol has broken him of his will to fight her. He lifted her easily into his arms, as her legs wrapped tightly around his waist, and made his way upstairs to his room with no objections from Mary.
"Ughhhh," Mary groaned. Her head was pounding and her stomach felt like it had turned inside out. She remembered spending a large chunk of time on the bathroom floor, puking up almost everything she had eaten for the past week.
"I take it you're awake," Marshall commented. She gazed out from under the covers to see Marshall standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. His hair was wet, and he was clad in gray sweat pants, towel draped around his neck. He looked the most relaxed she seen him in weeks, happy even. He was probably getting some sort of sick amusement out of her pain.
"Don't talk so loud," she mumbled.
"There's aspirin and water next to the bed."
Mary peeked out from under the blankets and, sure enough, water and aspirin sat within reaching distance. She was about to sit up when she became brutally aware of something else. "Marshall, where are my clothes?"
"Is that a trick question?" he asked, his smile growing just a little bit bigger.
"No, it's not a trick question! Where the hell are my clothes?"
Marshall's face fell and his next question came out more serious than she had expected. "Mary, what do you remember?"
She closed her eyes, trying to bring back the blurry images of the night before. She remembered the bar and being dragged out to the car, some distant images of Marshall's living room.
"I remember you hoisting me over your shoulder and carrying me out to the car," she told him. "And I sort of remember asking you for more tequila when we got here, but that's about all I have for you. Why, what happened, Marshall?"
"Nothing," he told her with a shrug. She noticed the change in his whole demeanor: smile gone, shoulders tense, and eyes cold. She couldn't figure out what had changed in the past thirty seconds and her head hurt too much to try and figure it out. She heard Marshall continue. "You were just really drunk and when I got you upstairs to my room, you insisted on sleeping naked. I left when you announced that and when I came back about ten minutes later you were under the covers asleep."
Mary was glad Marshall had been around to control her impetuousness. If she had done something she regretted, something to hurt Raph, she wasn't sure she'd be able to forgive herself.
"Will you leave so that I can get dressed and take some aspirin?" The room spun slightly as she rolled over onto her back. "Maybe not necessarily in that order."
"Yeah, sure. Clean towels are hanging on the rack in the bathroom. I think there might be some vomit in your hair."
If the smell was any indication, Mary knew there was. "Yeah, thanks."
"I'll be downstairs with fresh coffee," he said as he closed the door.
Marshall managed to hold it together when he had been talking to her, but the second he walked down the hall he slumped to the floor, head in his hands. She didn't remember. She didn't remember any of it. She didn't remember him telling her how he felt, how she had dragged him into his room, or making love with him all night. Last night had been better than anything he could have imagined. He never thought that anything would happen between Mary and him. The fact that they were partners and her engagement were just two of the many things that had stopped him over the past four years. None of that seemed to matter last night. Unfortunately, that didn't matter this morning. Mary didn't remember so, therefore, it didn't happen.
After a few minutes, he pulled himself off the floor and made his way downstairs. He had hidden it from her for years. She had never known that he loved her more than anyone else in his life and she still wouldn't know. He wouldn't let what had happened last night change everything that they had together. He scooped the coffee grinds into the filter, poured in the water and switched on the pot. He leaned against the counter as he heard it sputter to life. After a few seconds he balled his fists together and slammed them down on the counter with a scream.
'Hold it together, Marshall,' he thought to himself. 'She's going to be down here any second and she can't know anything is wrong.' As if on cue, he heard her footsteps on the stairs.
"Coffee," she commanded. He pointed to the pot. She grabbed a mug out of the cabinet above the pot and poured herself a cup before it was finished brewing. He knew she drank it black and wondered if Raphael also knew that. Marshall shook his head. It didn't matter. She had made her decision. If Raphael didn't know then he would find out soon enough.
"I am never drinking that much again," she complained.
"You just don't have a high enough tolerance."
"What perplexes me more is why you do."
"I'm bigger with a better metabolism. Finish your coffee and I'll take you home. If you're going to be hung over all day, you might as well be hung over at your own house."
Mary finished off her cup and then took one of Marshall's many travel mugs out of the cabinet, filling it to the brim. "I think that since you're the one who did this to me, you should have to suffer through my complaints."
"That's why you have a fiancé. If I wanted to hear you complain any more than I already do, I'd marry you." She stopped abruptly in the door and Marshall almost tripped over her. "What?"
"I just had a creepy sort of déjà vous." She shook her head as if trying to erase the sensation from her mind. "Must be this god damn hangover."
"Must be," Marshall agreed before pushing her out the door and to the car.
"How was your bachelorette party, Mary?" Eleanor asked as Mary walked through the door on Monday.
"When I can remember it all, I'll tell you."
Eleanor stared at her for a minute. "I didn't know you had it in you, Mary."
"She didn't," Marshall said as he sat down at his desk. "Dershowitz egged her on."
"That makes more sense. She didn't take advantage of you, did she?" Eleanor joked, but Marshall couldn't bring himself to laugh with her.
"As if I'd ever take advantage of Marshall," Mary muttered. "He's too much of a puritan to screw me." Again the sense of déjà vous came over her. She had impressions of lips all over her and whispered words. She wished she could remember anything that happened that night, but the memories were few and far between. For some unfathomable reason, Marshall refused to fill anything in past 'you got drunk and passed out.' It was infuriating.
"Way to wound my ego," Marshall said, but cringed at how forced it sounded. He couldn't seem to pull off the casual banter that had always come so easily to him. Eleanor didn't seem to notice but Mary did. She gave him a look.
"What's going on with you lately?"
"Nothing. Now let's hurry up and clear these cases up so that you can go on your honeymoon in a week and not have to worry about it."
"He's dragging me to Hawaii. I don't understand why we have to go on one anyways."
"Honeymoons are long standing traditions originally formed so that bride and groom would have time to consummate a marriage and perhaps even conceive a child."
"There's not going to be any child conceiving on my end, so what's the point of a honeymoon?"
"You don't want kids?" Marshall asked.
"No. Not right now anyways. Not with Raph. He's not enough of a kids person to have them."
"A kids person?" Marshall raised an eyebrow in her direction.
"He's too impatient and so am I. It wouldn't be like if you and I had kids, for instance."
Again, Marshall had to fight to keep it together. He didn't remember her talking like this before. Maybe he just didn't think about it as much before. That was back when he still thought that a relationship with Mary would never happen. Now that he knew it could've, the mention of that loss was much more pronounced and painful.
"You think I'd be good with kids?"
"I think that you're patient to my impatient. You're my opposite in a lot of ways, but alike in the ways that matter. It's probably why we work together so well." She stood up from her desk and flipped through her file cabinet, pulled one out and dropped it on the desk with the others.
"Imagine that," mumbled Marshall.
"Marshall, can I stay over at your place tomorrow night?"
Marshall looked up at his partner in surprise. "Why? You're getting married the day after tomorrow. Shouldn't you be at your own house?"
"If only I could be. Raph has this ridiculous notion that he shouldn't see me before the wedding so either he leaves or I do and, unfortunately, he doesn't really have anywhere to go."
"The tradition of hiding the bride from the groom before the wedding dates back to when father's used to sell their daughters to wealthy suitors. If she was ugly then it would be harder to wed her."
"Thanks, Marshall. That makes me feel better. Raph doesn't want to see me because I'll be too ugly."
He was about to tell her that she knew that he didn't think she was ugly. He had already told her that she was the most beautiful woman that he knew. Then he remembered that she didn't remember. That whole conversation didn't exist in her mind.
"What happened to his apartment?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Lease ran out awhile ago. Why would he renew it when he was moving in with me?"
"I suppose that he wouldn't."
"So can I stay over there or not?"
"I guess so. Just drop your stuff off on the way to work. And crash in the guest room this time, not mine."
"But your bed is more comfortable. That bed you have in the spare room might as well be a slab of stone."
"I'm sleeping in my own bed. So unless you want to share, you have the guest room." Marshall fought to keep his voice even. It was their usual banter and snide commentary but for Marshall it ran much deeper. Unfortunately, a week after the fact, Mary's memories were still buried deep.
Mary had a vague memory of sliding her body close to Marshall's and him wrapping his arms around her. Lately she had been getting more and more of these foggy memories, if that's even what they were. Nothing like that had ever happened with Marshall so why would she suddenly be having these memories? Mary couldn't figure it out and the closer that she came to her wedding, the more that the images disturbed her. The only thing in her life, since she met Marshall, that she couldn't remember was her party. And Marshall had insisted more than once that nothing had happened. She believed him because Marshall didn't lie to her. Sleeping with her also wasn't Marshall's style. His mannerisms made it seem like he had been born in the wrong time period and his chivalry towards women was one of those things. He opened doors for her, pulled out her chair when she didn't beat him to it and generally did all those annoyingly respectful, antiquated things. Having sex with her when she was drunk and engaged didn't fall under that code of conduct.
"Hey, I have few qualms. If all I have to do to get your bed is share it with you, I just might." She shut down her computer and grabbed her jacket.
"I have to get ready for this stupid rehearsal dinner. See you tonight?"
"Sure," he said, his concentration on his computer.
"Hey, Marshall?" He looked up to see Mary hesitating at the door.
"Thanks for all your help."
When Marshall opened his door he wasn't sure what he had been expecting to see, but it certainly wasn't the sight that greeted him. Mary had already brought everything she would need for the next day over and it was currently littering his living room. A garment bag was draped over the couch and a plethora of make-up and hair products were scattered all over the coffee table. There were bouquets of flowers sitting on his kitchen counter, ready to be taken to the church in the morning. Mary had actually asked him to drive them over there since he had more room in his car. She said that she barely fit in her car with the dress she was wearing. Somehow it didn't surprise Marshall that she was driving herself to the church.
"Mary?" he called into the house, hanging up his own tux in the hall closet.
"Yeah, I'm upstairs," she called.
"There's an infestation of girl stuff in my house," he yelled up as he began to ascend the stairs.
"So what? Most of the hair products were from your bathroom."
"You're such a li-" Marshall almost tripped over himself he stopped so abruptly. Mary was standing in front of his mirror, dress on. There was no decoration to it, just a simple white dress with a v-neck that wrapped around her body and then flared out at her hips. There was no train or sleeves and Mary looked absolutely stunning in it.
"What?" she asked as she turned to look at him. "What's wrong?"
"Mary, you look amazing." Marshall didn't know what else to say to her. Usually he tried to steer away from compliments, knowing she wouldn't take them or, even worse, would figure out why he gave them. This time he just couldn't keep it in. The dress looked like it had been made to be her wedding dress.
"Liar," she said but smiled anyways. Marshall managed to recover himself.
"Don't you really think you're fooling anyone with the white though."
"How would you know? Raph could be my first."
"Because I know everything about you, including how many men you've slept with," he said as he sat down on his bed. Even the one you don't remember, he added internally.
"You do not." She turned to inspect herself from the back.
"Joe Anderson was your first in the twelfth grade and then there was his best friend when he dumped you for another girl. Then there was the one you married right out of high school to escape your family and then-"
"Do you have any idea how creepy that is, Marshall?"
"Not as creepy as the fact that I've only known you four years and you felt the need to tell me."
"Yeah, but I never expect you to remember that."
"There's little I don't remember, Mare. It's not an accident that I can spew random facts out at will. Actually, the combination of genetics for me to have the memory I do is a random occurrence so I suppose, if you look at it that way, it is an accident."
"The fact that your parents had you at all was an accident." She sat down next to him.
"You're going to wrinkle your dress."
"If I do I'm sure you'll iron it for me in the morning."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why am I going to iron it?"
"Well, typically it's the maid-of-honor who's my bitch, but since my sister couldn't iron if her life depended on it, that leaves her understudy. Plus, you've been my bitch for years. Why go with a newbie when I have a champion stallion in my possession?"
Marshall wasn't sure whether to laugh or groan at the abundance of sexual references she had just thrown at him. He did neither, saying only, "I never knew your opinion of me was so high."
"You learn something new everyday. Now," she said, standing up and turning her back to him. "Unzip me and get out so I can take this ridiculous gown off."
He reached for the zipper and pulled it down, revealing her tanned back. White lace peeked out at the bottom of the zipper, just past the small of her back. "You're good to go," he said and walked stiffly out of the door. He closed it, leaning against it with a sigh. Having Mary in his house was a lot harder than it used to be. She was getting married in the morning and he had to remember that. It wouldn't matter after that. Just twenty-four short hours and it wouldn't matter.
"Mary, get out of my bed." He tried shoving her to the side but she didn't budge.
"I warned you I was sleeping in your bed. Why don't you get a new bed in your guest room?"
"That one was free. I never sleep in there so who cares?" He lay down next to her and shoved her again but without any real effort behind it.
"How did you get a free bed?"
"It was the one from my parent's house. When I moved out here I brought it with me and bought a bigger one a few weeks after I got here."
"You mean that's the one you slept in as a teenager?"
"Ew, I don't want to sleep on the Marshall Adolescent Sex bed."
There was a long pause before Marshall answered, "You realize that I've had sex on this bed."
"Yeah, but not adolescent sex. Big difference. You change your sheets more often."
"You just keep on believing that." He actually hadn't changed them since she had been there the week before but he didn't tell her that.
"You're too clean not to," she told him as she rolled onto her back.
"You seem to forget that I'm still a guy. Did you know that the average male-"
"Is eight-hundred million times messier than the average female? Yeah, I get it."
"I think that number is slightly exaggerated."
"I got the basic idea. Now turn off the light. It's already midnight and Brandi and my mother are going to be here at an obnoxious hour tomorrow, I'm sure."
Marshall got up, turned off the light and began walking out the door.
"Where are you going?" she mumbled from the bed.
"To the guest room. Your wedding is tomorrow, so you can have the good bed." There was also no way he was going to spend the night with her sleeping right next to him. His memories were hard enough to deal with but having her that close would be too much to handle.
"Marshall, stop being such a prudish baby and get over here. Your bed is big enough that we can both sleep in it without touching, Christ."
Marshall was well aware of the size of his bed. What he was less sure about was the limit to his control. However, there wasn't really any way to leave without making her suspicious. So, carefully, he slid under the covers next to her. She immediately pulled most of them back to her side of the bed. He had forgotten just how much of a covers hog she was. Last time it hadn't really been a concern.
"Mary, wake up." Mary ignored the person shaking her. "C'mon, Mary, get up!"
Mary opened her eyes to see Brandi sitting on the bed next to her. It took her a minute to understand why Brandi was in her room so early in the morning on a weekend, harassing her. It took her another minute to remember that she wasn't in her own room and that there was a body missing from the bed.
"Where's Marshall?" she asked, half coherent. Brandi looked at Mary confused.
"He's downstairs in the kitchen making you coffee. Why?"
It occurred to Mary that he had probably left the room before everyone showed up. While she didn't care that she had shared a bed with him, it might look suspicious to other people.
"Never mind. What time is it?"
"Ten in the morning," Brandi answered. "Now hurry up and get up! You've only got four hours to get up, shower, get dressed and get to the church. That mess on your head you try and call hair is going to take an hour all by itself."
Mary protested but finally, with coaxing from both her mother and sister, dragged herself out of bed and into the shower. Always prone to short showers, she sauntered her way downstairs ten minutes later in her bathrobe. Marshall saw her first and handed her a cup of coffee.
"Oh, thank god," she muttered as she took a big gulp of the hot beverage. "What, no whiskey?"
"I figured I'd wait until after the wedding to get you drunk."
"And you call yourself my best friend," she grumbled.
"It's because no one else wanted the job." He handed her a banana and a granola bar. "Eat. You won't be for awhile."
She took the food and sat down on the oversized chair in the living room to watch some television. That was where Brandi found her.
"Oh, good, that's a great chair to do your hair in."
"Do we really have to do that now?"
"Yes, we have to do it now. Don't worry; I'll let you watch TV while I do it. I'm glad I convinced you to get your nails done yesterday."
Mary knew she was using the term convinced loosely. She practically had to drag Mary out of work and to the nail salon. "Yeah, just hurry up."
It took about an hour of Brandi pulling at her hair until it was finally done. Naturally, Mary was her usual enthusiastic self and complained through the majority of the procedure.
"Ow! Why the hell do you keep pulling on my hair? You know it's attached, right?"
"Shut up," Brandi answered. "Beauty is pain."
"Which is probably why I've been so adverse to it for so long. OW! God damn it!"
"Finished. Now go upstairs and do your make-up and put on your dress on."
"It's amazing how many orders I'm taking on my own wedding day," Mary mumbled.
"It's because if we left it up to you, you'd wear a t-shirt and a pair of sweats to your wedding."
"Damn straight. Who needs all this ridiculous pomp and circumstance anyways?" Brandi ignored her and pushed her sister up the stairs to do her make-up and get dressed. Marshall just laughed at the interaction and went to the hall closet to grab his own tux. He'd change in the guest room, knowing that the chances of actually getting his own room back were as scarce as his chances of sleeping alone in his own bed last night.
He brewed a fresh pot of coffee knowing that she'd probably want another cup before she left. He was pouring it into a travel mug when he heard her heels on the stairs. Even though he knew what to expect this time, she still managed to stun him.
"Would you stop looking at me like that? You're making me uncomfortable."
Marshall walked over to her and gave her a huge hug. "You look great, Mare. I'm so happy for you."
"Yeah, yeah, shut up. You don't clean up too badly yourself." If she were being honest, she would have told him that he looked sexier than she thought it was possible for Marshall to look. "Come here since you can't seem to figure out how to tie a bow tie." She grabbed the ends of the tie and pulled Marshall just inches from herself. The odd memories she'd been having all week were flashing through her mind again. It was like they were from a dream that she could never quite remember.
"How is it you know how to tie one?"
"Remember those musicals in high school? Everyone needed to know how to do it because you never knew who would need a quick bow tie tied. All the guys were awful at it so I ended up tying most of them."
"Who knew that the talent would come in handy again all this time later? Thanks," he said as she finished. They both looked at each other, dressed in their finest and knew that everything would change after that day. "I have to take the flowers to the church." Marshall leaned forward and kissed Mary on her cheek. "Congratulations, Mary. I love you." He grabbed the one bouquet that hadn't been loaded into his car yet and walked out the door.
Mary couldn't say anything. Marshall's words were like triggers and her night of drunken stupor came back to her in large chunks. She remembered Marshall telling her he loved her, actually loved her, not just in the friendly sort of way. She remembered talking with him and coaxing him into another shot before kissing him. She remembered him protesting, her protesting his protests, him giving in before carrying her upstairs. She remembered their night together, or at least most of it. Suddenly her nakedness and his happiness the next morning made so much more sense.
So did his sudden sadness.
Marshall was in love with her, had been for sometime. She knew that not having her remember the next morning was probably devastating for him. In typical Marshall fashion, he hadn't told her. He had just let her go on believing that they were friends and partners. He was letting her marry Raph.
Oh, God, Raph, she thought to herself. He would be headed to the church now. He might already be there. She had cheated on Raph. Did it still count if both parties involved were drunk? Mary had a feeling that when it concerned her and Marshall it did. She wanted to scream. How could he have kept something like this from her? She sighed, knowing the answer. He would hope that she didn't remember. Marshall was enough of a gentleman that he wouldn't want her relationship to be ruined because of one bad, drunk decision.
"Damn it, Marshall, you should have said something," she muttered to herself. She walked out the door, ready to confront him but the car was already gone, Marshall with it. Seconds later, her sister and mother came down the steps, dressed for the wedding. Brandi grabbed Mary's arm.
"C'mon. If you absolutely insist on driving that hunk of junk we have to leave now."
"Brandi, the wedding isn't for another two hours."
"Yeah, but if your car breaks down on the way, it might take that long to get a tow."
The place screamed Mary's sister. It was obvious to Marshall that Mary had little to do with the planning process and the thought didn't surprise him in the least. She probably had to be reminded three times daily to show up on time. Grabbing the flowers out of the car, he started hauling the different bouquets into the church. Brandi had told him to put them up by the altar. He placed the ones he liked at the front of the chapel and the rest of them were spread throughout the room. It all looked incredibly beautiful but incredibly un-Mary. This wasn't Mary's wedding.
Even the location had been picked out by someone else. Marshall knew that she would have been content driving to Vegas and getting married in a t-shirt and jeans. The church was all Raphael, his family were very strict Catholics. He knew that there would be more than one look from Mary during the Latin portions of the ceremony. He almost wished that he would be up on the podium to see them.
He had wanted to be in her bridal party, but the couple had decided to keep it simple. Brandi the only one in Mary's party and Raphael had an old friend as his best man. Even the guest list was small. Marshall was included, along with Stan, Jinx and Eleanor and then Raphael's immediate family. The reception was more extensive, half of the Albuquerque PD and Marshal Service being invited but for the ceremony only close friends and family. He saw the groom walk into the room along with a few other people. Stan and Eleanor came and greeted him before they sat down. Marshall looked at his watch and realized that it was already one. In just one short hour Mary would be walking down that aisle on her way to marrying Raphael.
Mary was marrying Raphael.
Marshall had known it all along but it was so much more real now, so much more tangible. She would walk down the aisle, recite her vows and be inaccessible to him for the rest of his life. He had spent so long trying to convince himself that this was the right thing that he had never taken the time to think about what he would do when it actually happened.
The answer was that he couldn't watch. He wouldn't be able to sit and watch the one person he knew he wanted to be with commit themselves to someone else. He hesitated at his seat, torn. Stay and support his best friend and one-time lover or leave and, for the first time in his life, protect himself?
Seconds later the decision was made for him when Raphael walked into the chapel. He headed towards the altar with his best man to wait for Mary. Marshall saw him smiling, anxious but clearly happy and Marshall knew he had to leave. He would never be able to watch Mary get married, to see that look of bliss on her face and know that it will never be directed him.
In an hour it would all be over, his chances gone, and he knew that it was just going to make things worse, not better. Why he ever thought that his feelings would dissipate with her marriage was a mystery. He turned toward the doors, his steps coming faster as he neared the exit. He ignored the look that he got from Stan as he left, the look from everyone as he pushed on the doors. He knew they would be wondering why Mary's partner, her best friend, was leaving the church less than an hour before the ceremony. He knew that Mary would be angry with him, probably angrier than she had ever been before, but he would deal with it later. Right now he just had to get out of the church.
He jumped into his car, peeling out of the parking lot. He didn't even bother to buckle his seat belt. His foot pressed down on the accelerator and his saw the needle rise on his speedometer. He couldn't seem to put enough distance between him and the church. After driving aimlessly for an hour he pulled into his driveway and sat in the car. The clock on his dash read two-thirty. He had officially missed his best friend's wedding. Mary would be married, her 'I do' said and her marriage to Raphael official. Mary was unavailable to him and would remain that way.
His rested his head against the steering wheel, tears streaking down his face. She was married. Not only that but she probably thought that he was a horrible friend for missing a day that was supposed to be one of the most important in her life. He had tried to convince himself that nothing would change between him and Mary after her marriage, even after they had slept together. He was an idiot to think that life would remain the same after both had happened. Their relationship was going to change, it was going to suffer.
He took a deep breath and composed himself. There was nothing he could do about it now. He had screwed up in every way and now it was too late to rectify any of it. He could go back to the reception, try and make it up to Mary, but somehow he knew that would just make it worse. Instead he got out of the car and headed into the house.
Mary freaked out the entire ride to the church. She had made Brandi drive Jinx and got into her own car. She needed time to think by herself without her family's voices continually cutting it. Her foot was like lead on the accelerator. Marshall would probably been berating her about her speed if he had been in the car.
The images of her and Marshall entered her mind once again. She had slept with Marshall. She had slept with Marshall. What was even more shocking was that he had told her that he loved her and then she had slept with him. She knew that Marshall's declaration of love had been genuine and not just a result of sleeping with his partner. What she couldn't seem to remember was why she hadn't gone screaming in the other direction. She had run from every relationship, even from Raph, yet it was Marshall that she ran towards.
Pieces of the evening were still eluding her but she had gotten the general gist of it. They had both gotten inexplicably drunk, Marshall had confessed being in love with her and she encouraged it by sleeping with him even though she was engaged. She vaguely remembered him protesting and her insisting. She would have to tell Raph, but she wasn't exactly sure how to broach a subject like that just an hour before your wedding. Mary was fairly certain you couldn't.
"Shit, shit, shit, shit," she muttered to herself. When she pulled up to the church, everyone was there already, her sister and mother included. She saw Stan's car and Raph's mother's car and Eleanor's little car. Marshall, however, was no where in sight. She knew he had to be somewhere, she could see the bundles of flowers that he had brought through the front doors, but his car was gone. Maybe he had parked out back. Mary didn't really have time to think about it. Her wedding was starting in thirty minutes and if she didn't get inside there were going to be bigger problems than where her doofus of a best friend was.
"Mary, where have you been?" Jinx asked, exasperated. She held Mary's veil in her hand, anxious look on her face. "You don't have much time left and we still have to do your last minute touch-ups."
Mary didn't know what that entailed but she was pretty sure it was going to be more poking and prodding. She had been right as a veil was shoved into her hairstyle and simultaneously her scalp. Her sister was rambling about things old, new, borrowed and blue while she pulled and arranged Mary's dress. Another layer of hairspray was coated onto her head, causing her to cough. All too soon they were dragging her to the chapel doors, telling her that it was time. Brandi shoved a bouquet of lilies into Mary's hands. The flowers weren't Mary's idea. She would have rather just held her gun. Remembering suddenly, she ran over to her bag and pulled out her gun and holster.
"Brandi, put this on me." She shoved the items into her sister's hands.
"I'm not letting you wear your gun on your own wedding day."
"C'mon, Squish, please?"
"Why don't you do it then?"
"Because I can't lift up this god damn dress without messing everything up."
"Fine," Brandi conceded before ducking under Mary's dress and sliding it on her leg. Feeling the contours of the gun reassured her but didn't do much to abate her nervousness. In seconds she would be walking through two double doors to get married. The dark wood she was staring at taunted her. Just beyond those doors was when the rest of her life supposedly started. She took a deep breath and nodded for them to be opened. She heard music but ignored it, willing herself to take that first step. One foot in front of the other she slowly walked up the aisle. It seemed miles longer today than it had at the rehearsal dinner the other night. She finally managed to make it to the end, her hand sliding into Raph's. She took a deep breath and, for the first time, took a look around the room.
The audience was small, but they had wanted that. The reception was meant to be the big part. Right now, close friends and family were the only people privy to this quiet ceremony. Mary saw her mother sitting in the front row next to Raph's family. They were all smiling, probably as surprised by the arrival of this day as she was. Stan and Eleanor sat behind them with a few of Raph's other relatives and Marshall-
Mary looked around frantically. Marshall was no where in sight. The room was only so big and she knew that there was no where for him to hide. Her eyes darted from face to face, thinking maybe she had just overlooked him. It was unlikely, considering he was a head taller than anyone else in attendance. She knew he had been here because all the flowers were there. The only explanation was that he had come and left. Marshall had left. She felt a combination of hurt and anger fill her. He was her best friend and he couldn't even come to her wedding? So what if he loved her? He had always loved her, had known this was coming and yet he decides now that he can't stand to watch her be married? Did sleeping with her really change that much?
She looked at Raph a little surprised and smiled. So what if Marshall Mann hadn't shown up. This was her wedding day and if he left because of one drunken mistake then so be it.
"I love you, Mary."
"I lo-" She stopped as the final memories of that night with Marshall fell into place.
'I love you, Marshall.'
She knew his absence had nothing to do with their night of passion. Had that been all it was, one drunken night of sex, she was sure that he would be standing here at that very moment, quite possibly beside Brandi despite her saying he didn't have to be a bridesman. What had caused her Marshall to leave was the fact that she had told him she had loved him.
'You don't mean that, Mary, you're just drunk.'
'No, I mean it, Marshall. I'm finally just drunk enough to admit it.'
She had meant it, every single word. Now she knew why she didn't run that night. She knew exactly why she had stayed that night and slept with him. She was in love with him. She had said it to him and then forgotten the most important part.
He looked at her perplexed. Her eyes were sad and her whole demeanor had changed. He couldn't figure out what had happened in the past five minutes but Mary had gone from ready to be married to not ready for anything.
"Mary, what is it?"
"I can't marry you. I'm so sorry but I can't get married."
"Is this a joke?"
Mary could hear the murmurs of her surprised family members. "No, it's not. I thought that this was what I wanted but it isn't. I was just running away."
"What are you talking about?"
How did you tell your almost-husband that you couldn't marry him because you had fallen for your partner but refused to admit it? She was fairly certain you couldn't. She slipped her ring into his hand. "I can't explain it any more than that. I know that this is the most horrible thing to do to a person, but it would be worse if we got married. We're no good together and I think we both know it." She leaned over, kissing his cheek softly. "You're a great guy and deserve someone so much better than me."
Before anyone could say anything to her she ran back down the aisle and out the doors. She had to find Marshall.
She had a hard time getting in and out of the car in her dress but she did it. She had ditched her shoes in the church parking lot and dumped the flowers in the front seat. She drove fast, even for her, but she had an odd sense of urgency. She tried his house first and saw the car parked out front. Prying herself out of the car, she lifted the skirt of her dress and ran barefoot to the door. She didn't knock. He wouldn't have answered if she did. When he wasn't in the living room she ran upstairs to his bedroom where he lay on his bed, still in his tux. He looked like he had this morning when everyone was getting ready to leave. It was as if he was still waiting for her wedding to start. He bolted upright when he heard her enter, flinging the door open so hard it slammed against the wall.
"Mary?! What are you doing here?"
"Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded.
"Tell you what?"
"Everything! Why didn't you tell me everything that happened that night?" She was yelling at him, she knew it, but now she was angry.
"Why ruin your wedding with something you couldn't even remember? You were drunk."
"You should have told me, Marshall. Sleeping together is a big deal, drunk or not."
"Not enough to tell you. It was a mistake."
"And you saying you loved me? Was that also a mistake?" She crossed her arms over her chest. He couldn't look her in the eyes.
"It was a mistake to let you know. It was unfair."
"Bullshit," she spat. "You should have told me. I should've been able to decide for myself."
"It doesn't matter now."
"Like hell it doesn't matter! You know why?"
Marshall shrugged in defeat. "No, Mare, why?"
"Because you were the only one who seemed to think that mistakes were made. I think that we finally made some good decisions that night. I didn't sleep with you by mistake. Telling you that I loved you wasn't a mistake either."
His eyes held surprise and hurt at the same time. "That may be true but it's still too late."
"Are you telling me that you don't feel that way anymore? That you don't love me?"
"I'm telling you that I don't go around telling married women that I'm in love with them," he said, finally raising his voice.
"Did you get married in the past week? Because I sure as hell didn't."
"Are you telling me that you didn't marry Raphael?"
"And why did you skip out on my wedding? What kind of best friend does that? If I had known, I would've made you my maid-of-honor just so I knew you would show up."
Marshall stood up, stalked over to her and grabbed her face in his hands. "Mary, focus. Did you marry Raphael?"
She smirked at him, amused. "Would it matter if I did?" She was teasing him now but she couldn't help it. It wouldn't be the same if she made it easy for him.
"Of course it matters. Will you please answer the question?"
"No," she finally answered him, "I didn't marry Raph. In fact, I left him at the altar in front of everyone. I'm going to feel really guilty about it once you and I finally figure things out."
"So you're not married?"
"Christ, Marshall, how many ways do I have to tell you the same thing? No, I'm not married."
"Good." He didn't wait for a response. He leaned down and kissed her. It was better than he remembered. There was no alcohol this time, no doubt, no second guessing what would come of it. He knew what she wanted, knew that she actually wanted it.
"Jesus, how did I forget that," she muttered when he had pulled away.
"You were pretty drunk," he answered with a chuckle. "You still angry with me?"
"Furious," she said, sliding her hands under his jacket, "but kiss me again anyways."
He smiled, complying with her request, before reminding her once again of everything she'd forgotten.