Summary: Just another way for Raph to leave the show.
Spoilers: Good Cop, Dead Cop and Trojan Horst
Disclaimer: I don't own IPS or its characters and this story contains one use of bad language.
AN: Inspired by Mary's line to Jinx and Brandi in Good Cop, Dead Cop: "Jesus, when were you going to tell me?" Which got me wondering - what would Marshall have done if he'd found out first?
Another Way to Say Goodbye
"Bye," Marshall called over his shoulder as he left the room. "See you next week."
As soon as he was in the corridor, he started to rotate his shoulder, trying to ease the stiffness and dull ache that his PT session always caused. The gunshot wound had healed well, leaving a clean scar that he knew would fade with time. Mary had bullied him into removing the sling earlier than he'd been warned to so, to salve the guilt he felt at disobeying the doctor's orders, he followed his PT schedule religiously. Plus even months after the incident, he still had restricted movement in his shoulder and he was prepared to put the work in to regain the full range of motion in his dominant arm. But some days he felt the damage the bullet had done was nothing compared to the damage the physical therapy did.
He walked down the hallway, flexing slightly, until he heard a very unprofessional sound coming from one of the PT rooms.
All thoughts of his stiff shoulder pushed aside, he looked around trying to determine which room the noise had come from. He knew his curiosity would get him in trouble one day, but he was a slave to it and could do nothing else. As he approached the nearest door, he told himself that he wanted to find out which was the unprofessional therapist so he could avoid them. Mary's voice in his mind, cutting through his attempted self delusion, telling him she knew his purpose was much less lofty – he just liked to gossip. He smiled as the virtual Mary that lived in his mind cut through the BS the way real Mary did in life.
Resigning himself to the knowledge he wouldn't be satisfied until he knew, he pressed his ear against the door. Hearing nothing coming from the first room, he moved on to the next and again came away disappointed. He was just about to give up, when he heard the man yell in what could only be a moment of ecstasy caused by sexual release. He suspected whoever it was would be leaving the room shortly and he froze as he was torn between curiosity and discretion.
Indecision and inaction proved to be all he needed as the choice was removed from his hands.
The door to his left opened and a tall figure emerged. The man was engrossed in tucking his t-shirt back into his pants and didn't see Marshall's unmoving form in the next doorway. As the guy pulled up his fly and pulled the door to, he turned slightly so that his face was illuminated by the light from the PT room.
Marshall's training came to the fore as he fought his natural instincts and shock in order to remain silent and still. His surprise obviously wasn't as stifled as he'd hoped as Raph turned toward him on hearing his gasp.
Raphael closed the door with a thud of haste and hurriedly tried to arrange his clothes correctly. His actions were obviously intended to disguise his recent activities, but it was too late. There was no way he could hide what he had been doing from Marshall's eagle eyes.
Even if Marshall hadn't just heard him climax, the disarrayed clothing and guilty look would have been enough to condemn him.
"M...Marshall," he stammered, "What are you doing here?"
"Physio," Marshall said casually, as if he saw a therapist-screwing, post-orgasmic Raph everyday. "For my shoulder. Mary recommended the place to me. Of course, I'm not sure she's aware of the extra services they provide."
His tone never changed from conversational, but the threat and menace was all the more apparent for it and at the mention of Mary's name, the look of panic on Raphael's face intensified.
"Marshall..." his voice was low and pleading, "...It was a mistake..."
Without knowing it, Raph continued to dig his own grave, "It's not like Mary and I are together at the moment," he said.
"Does Mary know that?"
"Oh, please, she's probably screwed half a dozen men since I proposed..."
Raph attempted to sound as nonchalant as Marshall as he started to lay the blame elsewhere. Then, suddenly, his mood shifted.
"Were you one of them?" he demanded.
A slow smile spread across Marshall's face as he decided that that was enough. Anyone who didn't know him would pass it off as him being provoked and Mary would just be mad that she wasn't there, she wouldn't care about the real reason. Finally, Raph had given him enough of an excuse to justify doing what he'd wanted to do since he'd first heard the name Raphael.
And so, he balled up his fist, swung back his arm and put his weight behind it.
Raph never knew what hit him.
He picked himself off the floor, cursing in Spanish and muttering in pain. He looked back at Marshall, covering his face with his left hand as he did so, wanting to see if another attack was imminent. Marshall was stood exactly where he had been, and there was no indication that he had ever moved from that spot to throw a punch. In fact, he looked mildly perplexed and more than a little amused, as if he couldn't work out why Raph was suddenly in so much pain, but thought it funny none the less.
"I probably deserved that," Raph admitted, although he had difficulty pronouncing the words properly as he moved his jaw to assess the extent of the damage.
Marshall said nothing, just stood there patiently still giving no indication he knew anything about the situation.
Raph finally straightened up fully and turned to face his attacker.
"Are we even?" he asked, thinking that he had taken his punishment like a man and that would be the end of it.
"Call Mary, tell her about your...little workout...and then we're done," Marshall told him.
"Why? She won't care. She'll be more pissed at you for hitting me..." Raph said, still rubbing his jaw.
Marshall stared at him, wondering if the man knew Mary at all. She might ultimately forgive the betrayal; she wouldn't care that Marshall had thrown a punch other than for the amusement value; but she hated being made a fool of. And that was what Raph was doing. If she didn't find out soon, she was going to be more pissed at Marshall for knowing and not telling her than at Raph for cheating on her in the first place. That was not a risk Marshall was willing to take.
He spelled out the options for Raph, "Call her and tell her. Or I will."
With that Marshall brushed past Raph on his way back to the office.
"How was physio?" Mary asked when Marshall returned to the office.
"I appear to have sufficient mobility back," he said, gently flexing his arm.
The carefully chosen words and deliberately flat tone told her there was more to come.
"What?" she snapped in a falsely annoyed tone.
She moved to lean on his desk, peering at him as he removed his jacket and hung it up before taking his seat.
"I ran into your ex," he told her once he was settled.
"My ex?" she echoed, puzzled. "I don't have an ex. Unless you're referring to Epps? In which case..."
"I meant Raph," Marshall cut in before she could think up a new and interesting way to threaten his more tender parts.
"Raph? He's not my ex, Numbnuts. He's my..." she hesitated, still unsure how to classify the man.
"If he's not yet, he soon will be," Marshall muttered loud enough for her to hear.
"What?" she snapped, thinking she had heard him wrong, until his words sunk in. "Why?"
Marshall sighed and said as gently as he could, "He's cheating on you, Mare."
"Pfft. Don't be stupid." She looked at him and realized he was serious. "Have you lost your mind? Raph would never..."
"Never what? Screw around behind your back? Sorry, Mare, but..."
"I don't believe you," Mary whispered.
"He yells 'Jonrón' when he's..." Marshall searched for a polite way of putting it, "...done."
Mary stared at him, aghast. Then she ducked her head to look at the desk. For some reason she was embarrassed that he knew such a personal detail about hers and Raph's sex life. Not because she was uncomfortable with sharing details like that with him, but she knew that any man that yelled 'homerun' as he came wouldn't usually make it past the second date with her. She knew Marshall knew that too – they had mocked each others partners for less. And now Marshall also knew that the man she was constantly struggling to make it work with was someone that would normally have been nothing more than a notch on the bedpost and an amusing anecdote.
Finally the more salient point filtered through to her. Her blush of shame was soon replaced with a flush of anger. She started getting more agitated, her eyes darting around the desk even as her now tense body remained motionless. Marshall watched her intently and waited.
The small movement of her eyes gradually increased until she was once again in motion, straightening and crossing her arms across her chest. Her foot tapped rapidly as she spent some of her excess energy.
"Who?" she demanded, eyes ablaze with anger.
"His physio," Marshall replied, watching the dots be connected in Mary's mind.
"Fat Judy?" she spat.
Marshall answered her anger with humor, "I wouldn't call her fat. Cuddly maybe..."
Mary's glare shut him up quickly.
"How long?" she ground out.
Marshall shrugged, "I don't know. The massage tables don't appear to be designed to withstand that sort of assault for long, so I'd guess it only took a few minutes," he deliberately misunderstood her.
Mary glared at him again, but something in the back of her mind responded to his attempts at humor and she felt her anger diminish a notch, Marshall always seeming to know what to say to calm her when she needed it. She came off the boil long enough to realize that Marshall had no way of knowing how long it had been going on between her soon to be ex and his skanky physiotherapist. She knew that if Marshall had found out sooner, he would have told her sooner. The fact he was telling her now meant that he had only just found out himself.
She watched Marshall as he appeared to study his computer screen while he waited for her to continue the conversation. She noticed him unconsciously rub his hand slightly. The movement drew her attention to the limb and the redness there.
She jutted her chin towards him and asked, "What did you do?"
He stopped his kneading and stared at his hand, not in the least surprised at the sudden change in the conversation. He shot a sly glance in her direction before returning his attention to his hand, studying it as he flexed his fingers to assess the damage.
"I was testing my reach," he said with a smug grin.
Mary raised an eyebrow. Marshall continued grinning and Mary realized he was waiting for her to ask the question.
Curiosity got the better of her and she gave in, asking, "How far can you reach?"
"Far enough to impact with a hard head and asshole at the same time," he replied, still grinning.
Mary looked at him a moment before she managed to decipher the meaning behind his cryptic phrase. When she realized what he had done, she tried to look disapproving but the laughter in her eyes betrayed her. She turned to return to her seat so that Marshall wouldn't be able to see, and take any encouragement from, her expression.
She knew she shouldn't be amused by the fact her partner, a US Marshal, had just punched the guy she was seeing, but she couldn't help but think Raph deserved it. If she had caught him doing Fat Judy, she would have wanted to do the same. She filed away the half formed thought that Marshall's action may be perceived as an overreaction when it was his friend that was being cheated on, not himself. That deserved more thought than she could spare at the moment as she considered what to do about Raph.
She knew that she should kick him to the curb, but the thought of being alone again was too depressing to contemplate. She could clearly remember the desperation that had lead her to sleep with a witness before she had met Raph. She'd had no one in her life to fill her need for physical contact until Epps had arrived with his corny lines and overt interest in her. Sleeping with him had been a wake up call. She had decided the morning after to limit contact with him and to change her approach to men. She had resolved to fight her natural aversion to commitment and attempt a relationship with the next man she was interested in. That man had just happened to be Raph.
With her resolve remembered along with the reason for it, she did her best to emphasize with Raph's point of view. She knew she wasn't the easiest person to be with, even when she was trying her best to smooth off her rough edges to prevent him from seeing her as she really was and bolting. And they had had that fight a couple of weeks ago. It was possible that he thought they were broken up. She decided she should at least give him a chance to explain and if they could agree to take things easier, to stop forcing things then that would make things better. Right?
Decision made, Mary reached for her phone and scrolled through the numbers until she reached Raph's.
She was just about to press dial when Marshall's quiet, "Don't," stopped her.
She had forgotten he was still in the room and the break in the silence made her start. She looked at him.
"Don't call him just because you don't want to be alone. Don't let him treat you like that. If you forgive him now, he'll think it's okay to screw around behind your back. You'll be giving him implicit permission to do it again. Not to mention, he'll think less of you because of it."
Mary knew that Raph's opinion of her wouldn't change if she forgave him. His view of her was too far from reality for her capitulation to seem out of character, but Marshall knew her and she heard in his words a half truth. Raph's view of her wouldn't change, but Marshall's would – he'd think less of her, he'd be disappointed in her.
She threw a quick glance his way before pressing dial on her phone.
They both waited with baited breath for Raph to pick up, Mary because she was generally impatient, Marshall because he wanted to see whether his words had made any difference.
"Hey, Asshole," Mary greeted when Raph answered.
"Mary," he replied, "I was just about to call you."
"Save it for someone that cares," she interrupted, before asking sweetly, "How's your bruise coming along?"
"He told you," Raph said, resigned. He should have known that Marshall wouldn't wait to drive a wedge between them, and on some level he had known as he wasn't nearly as surprised as he should have been.
"Of course he told me, you fucking idiot. He's my friend. He doesn't go around hiding things from me. Unlike some."
"Mary, I am so sorry," Raph began.
"Look, I don't care about whatever lame-ass excuse is about to come spewing out your mouth. I don't care if you've slept with half of Albuquerque. I'm too tired to care anymore. This is too hard, this thing between us, and if you feel the need to screw Fat Judy and whoever else you've been doing, you obviously know something isn't right too. So let's just call it quits. We shouldn't stay together just to keep from being alone. I don't know why I didn't see it before, but there it is," Mary finished with a sigh.
"But, I love you Mary," Raph attempted, "I want to be with you."
"Jesus, Raph, you sound like some crap made-for-TV movie. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. I'd rather be alone than with someone I can't trust."
There was silence on the other end of the phone for a minute, then Raph said, "So that's it then? That's how you're ending it? After a year?"
"Yes, Raph, that's it." She paused as she listened to the slightly stunned silence, then added, "Goodbye, Raph," before hanging up.
She stared, unmoving, at her phone for a moment until the sound of Marshall shifting in his seat drew her attention away from the ease with which she had just ended the longest relationship she had had.
"You okay?" he asked gently, feeling slightly guilty as it was his words that had changed her mind about whether or not to forgive Raph. He had seen her decision written clearly on her face before he had intervened, and he was surprised she had heeded his words so completely.
"Yeah," she replied, sounding as nonchalant, impervious, as she could.
Marshall knew the tone and knew not to push. He returned to his computer and let Mary collect her thoughts in peace. They worked like that, neither feeling the need to speak, for the rest of the afternoon.
As they were getting ready to leave, Mary broke the companionable silence, "Thanks, Marshall."
Marshall nodded in acknowledgment and knew that the subject would never be raised again by either of them. He bid her goodbye the way he did every evening and they headed their separate ways, Marshall secure in the knowledge that Mary was single again, Mary content with knowing that of all the people in her life, her best friend was the one she could trust not to hide the important of difficult things from her. And more than that, she knew he would always have her back, stopping her before she made a mistake, and that she'd never be truly alone as long as he was there.