*** Actions have consequences and decisions take time. How *would* Marshall react to Mary's trip to Mexico...and what will they learn about each other as Mary is forced to make a decision?***

*** This would not exist without the undending support of three wonderful ladies: Roar526, Rj_lupins_kat and DispatchVampire. I cannot thank you guys enough! I have the BEST friends!***

*** it's fiction...don't sue. Oh, and I will update every other day...RL is busy!***

It's been one week since you looked at me
Dropped your arms to your sides
and said "I'm sorry"
Five days since I laughed at you and said
"You just did just what I thought you were gonna do"
Three days since the living room
We realized we're both to blame,
but what could we do?
Yesterday you just smiled at me
Cause it'll still be two days till we say we're sorry

It'll still be two days till we say we're sorry
It'll still be two days till we say we're sorry

- One Week, Barenaked Ladies

Special Agent Michael Faber was more than an easily ignored roll in the hay on a distant beach. He was the drop in the bucket of emotional betrayal that finally sent the water flowing over the edge to make a mess of everything. The irritating mosquito in a dark room that kept you awake all night. Impossible to ignore and a harbinger of certain physical discomfort; sure to inflict that small but significant wound to make one wary of the instrument that dealt it.

Mary knew it was a mistake exactly twenty-one seconds before she made the phone call. She berated herself and mentally howled as her willfully blind libido beat her conscience into submission, and the weak whimpers of good sense that taunted her for the next fourteen days were drowned out by liberal amounts of alcohol. Marshall's expression of loss and hurt haunted her every night as the tropical breeze ruffled the sheets on the end of the bed. An expression she had come to dread, yet could not, for the life of her, avoid provoking with a careless word or dismissing gesture even as she willed herself to stop.

It was better this way. He doesn't deserve to be brought down to my level. I just needed a good lay. She tried to rationalize, and the thoughts smirked at her as they meandered through her brain.

You're a fucking idiot. That conclusion smiled a full, beaming grin of triumph every time.

It grinned at her seven days and six hours after Faber arrived when she found a pair of bikini bottoms in the room that weren't hers. Chuckled in amusement as he righteously denied any wrongdoing yet again the next day. Howled in delight at her furious and humiliated tears as she threw his belongings off the balcony and onto the beach below eight hours later. Her phone remained silent and her bed remained empty until she wearily checked out five days later, trudging to the shuttle while formulating appropriate groveling techniques in her mind.

Marshall had learned of the tryst nine hours and thirty-seven minutes after Mary left for Mexico. He had been slowly unraveling himself from the twisted knot he was in after she left the office three days prior. Silently. No goodbye. He had given her the leave, as he always did, knowing Mary needed time to think. Think about thinking. Hopefully think about a man who prodded her until she had to stop and ruminate in order to keep from toppling. Marshall had thought Mexico was a good idea. He thought the text message from Special Agent Sam Westfall of the Denver office was a sick joke.

It was too much and not enough at the same time. Too much to forget; to sweep under a rug that no longer touched the floor due to the ever increasing pile of insults accumulating beneath it. Too much to hide behind a carefully pasted on countenance of blasé indifference and bravado while he went about his everyday routine. But not enough to call it irreparable and leave. Not enough to sever the ties of trust, friendship and…love…that had woven them together over the years. He wouldn't go, but he wasn't going to let it slide this time. There was going to be a call to the carpet before the status quo could be reestablished, and he would know where he stood.

Michael Faber was more than another insult that would eat away at a friendship. He had chewed through yet one more thread of the string holding aloft a Sword of Damocles. The partnership lay precariously exposed.


'Awkward' would be too kind of an adjective to describe Mary's first week back. Marshall didn't ask her about her vacation, didn't ask about Faber, but yet she knew he knew. In fact, he didn't speak to her much outside of routine work-related conversations, random bouts of trivia or statements that would include her in banter between him and other office mates. Mary sensed a barely camouflaged disdain for her person and was loath to counter with her usual snark and sarcasm. A small ball of fear rattled around in her gut; a primal sense of being trapped on the edge of a cliff in which the wrong move would send her to her demise. She worried her thumb nail to a bloody stump and filled out her own paperwork. Marshall never flinched.

He watched her carefully the second week. She was subdued, pensive and she now had bandaids on three fingers due to a slow consumption of self. He didn't think she was sleeping well, but felt little desire to worry as he was doing no better. His head rested on the recliner back as often as it did the sheets on the bed; his nightly companion late night Sports Center instead of the hum of the ceiling fan. The strain of keeping her at arm's length affected his appetite as well as his circadian rhythm, and Marshall was tired. She was waiting for him to make the approach, but he was determined to wait. He had made his play…it was time for her to step up to the plate.

They were headed north on University that Friday afternoon, the hum of the tires loud with the radio turned down low. Mary was resting her head against the passenger side window, eyes tracking the small rivulets of rain slowly wending their way down the glass. She hadn't spoken since before they left; an agreement to stop for lunch between their witness visits. Marshall, incapable of remaining silent for silence's sake, was halfway through his lackluster explanation of the difference between virga and mist when Mary interrupted.

"You scared me," she stated softly, eyes still on the window.

Lecture forgotten, Marshall tuned into her quiet admission. He waited a few moments before countering to clarify.


She rolled her eyes over to him and set her jaw. "You know very well I'm not talking about today." Mary settled back in the seat a bit so she could see him in her periphery. "You scared me and I didn't know how to respond. I…overreacted."

Marshall waited. Mary remained silent and he pursed his lips with thought. The rain increased to a heavy shower.

"So," she shrugged, "don't you want to talk about it?"

"No." Quietly definitive.

She turned to study his profile. "'No' as in 'not today'? Or 'No' as is 'not ever'?" Her voice quavered just the slightest bit. "Because I'm giving you an opening here that may not occur again tomorrow."

Marshall bunched his toes in his boots in order to channel his irritation away from any visible tells. "'No' as in I don't want to talk about it. Can't give you a time table, Mary, and I'm not going to hash it out before I'm ready just to give you the satisfaction of getting it off your chest so you'll feel better."

Her jaw dropped slightly at the rebuke, not expecting the push back. Anger flared and she narrowed her eyes as she gripped the edge of her jacket. "So, you get to decide when we talk about it because you think you were the wounded party? We both took a hit, Marshall."

"You took the bullet willingly, Mary. I didn't get a chance to dodge. Don't push me on this." He never looked at her.

Mary watched the wipers try to keep up with the myriad of droplets and realized the small ball of fear had become a larger lump. She swallowed and blew out a slow breath as she fought back tears.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, leaning back over to the window.

"I know," he conceded. It was a start.

*** Well, would you like to read more? You know what I need...REVIEWS! :) I'd like to take you on a little journey...there may be some zest at the end, so isn't it worth the chance? ***