Title: Friendship, Loyalty and other Attractive Qualities
Author: Maddy 51
Rating: PG....maybe, if that even
Pairing: Mary/Marshall and Faber
Summary: I started writing this before last week's episode, so in this universe, that never/hasn't happened yet. This is my take on what might have been going through Faber's head while he worked with Mary and Marshall. I also think it's interesting to think about how the pair looks to an outside observer. Anyway, enjoy!

Agent Mike Faber was many things. He was tall-ish, smart, some would say, handsome, and possessed of a certain self assurance that one might be tempted to call arrogance. He was aware of what people whispered behind his back, both in and outside of the bureau, and while it bothered him on some level, he rationalized to himself that it was a means to an end. He got the job done, right and fast. He didn't make personal connections, didn't do the buddy thing. He had grown up on the outside looking in and saw no reason to change that. Even as a kid, when he attended prestigious private schools in DC populated with the children of congressmen, diplomats and politicians, he had been a clique unto himself. Recognized as the son of Congressman Jack Faber, half the kids hated him on behalf of their parents, and the other half stood in awe. Just as it was then, he had no friends to speak of and told himself it was easier that way, that he could do the job better if he wasn't sidetracked.

So when the blond US Marshal and her partner showed up in Denver, he was prepared to complete his investigation and shuffle his witness on to them. Another day, another successful case closed. However, as he worked with them, he began to recognize something more than partnership between the lanky Marshal Marshall Mann and the feisty Marshal Mary Shannon. He had called her "kitten" to get a rise out of her, he hadn't expected it to get more of a rise out of her partner. He heard the muttered "jackass" as he walked away, and it didn't bother him in the least. Again, he was used to insults both muttered behind his back and shouted in his face. No, what he wasn't prepared for was the jealousy that welled up inside of him. Jealousy that he first attached to Marshall for getting to be that close to Mary. Later he began to realize he was only partly jealous of Marshall. More than anything, he was jealous of both of them, of what they were.

He had asked her out on impulse. Not so much because she was gorgeous or had a sparkling personality, she was actually neither of those things. She was exotic. They were exotic. For the first time in his life, he saw the possibility of friendship and wondered what it would be like to share inside jokes and sidelong glances with someone who knew him almost better than he knew himself. It wasn't a sexual connection the partners shared, although he did note the tension that flowed in waves off of the tall Marshal, it was the way she had laughed at Marshall's jokes, the way he held the door open for her, the way they insulted each other, and the way he seemed annoyed on his partner's behalf – especially when Faber had inquired whether she was seeing anyone. While he couldn't be sure they weren't sleeping together, he was certain they were more than partners.

So as they prepare to part ways, and before he can stop himself, he mentions that work will put him up in their neck of the woods soon and asks her if he can call her. The FBI has no plans to send any agents to Albuquerque in the near future, and in his mind he's already calculating whether he has enough leave to devote to this sudden "business" trip. When she asks why, a million answers flit through his head. He doesn't think that expressing his desire to study the pair in their natural habitat would be an appropriate answer, and luckily Marshall points out to her that she's being asked out on a date before subtly excusing himself. As Mary politely declines his offer as "sweet," he smiles. He watches the pair walk back to their rental car, Marshall holding the door open for her, dramatically flinching as she punches him softly in the arm. He watches as she shakes her head, laughing at something he's said. As they drive away, Faber thinks about friendship and loyalty and wonders if it's not too late for him.