***Ahhhh...the final chapter, just in the nick of time :D Faber is gone, our duo is together...and peace shall reign? Well...read on and see! ***
***A final thanks to all my fabulous readers! Your reviews, encouragement, critiques and support are why I keep on writing! ***
If little faults proceeding on distemper shall not be winked at, how shall we stretch our eye, when capital crimes, chewed, swallowed and digested appear before us?
– King Henry V
learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
– Isaiah 1:17
Mary gathered up the pile of laundry from the floor of her room with a grumble and curse. She and Marshall had been staying at his place for the past week, and her only excursions into home territory had been for a quick re-packing or restocking of personal items. Consequently, the layers of laundry on the floor were now starting to resemble an archeological dig.
Not having bothered to clean it up before she and her partner had eagerly attacked the bed, both needing the stress relief after the particularly trying day, Mary had grimaced after seeing the mess when she emerged from her shower. Mr. Fastidious had probably counted the number of socks, divided them by the number of pairs of underwear, and calculated some dirty garment ratio that would earn her a little sigh later on.
"Well, buddy, you're the one who wanted messy," Mary muttered as she decided to add his jeans and shirts to the pile also. Might as well make use of the oversized washer the FBI had so kindly, if unknowingly, financed with the home repairs.
She eyeballed her partner sitting at the computer in the study as she shuffled towards the laundry room. He seemed engrossed in some report or other, and Mary stopped to study the slightly hunched form bathed in the yellow glow of the desk light. One long finger traced and re-traced a slow line from his brow to the tip of his nose, an unconscious gesture that told her he wasn't really seeing what was on the screen. Lost in thought…or at least devising alternate routes. His jaw tightened with a sudden grunt, and he rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relieve tension as he emerged from his reverie; caught a glimpse of her standing there out of the corner of his eye.
"Hey. You need help?" Marshall asked, noting the laundry.
Mary smiled and winked. "Got it covered. But you'll be folding because I'm not getting back up after I plant my ass on the couch with a beer." She turned to continue towards the kitchen. "And turn that damned computer off, nitwit. It's the weekend."
"Give me a few," he replied, returning to his task, "I just need to pop off a few emails." He allowed himself to grin slightly as he finished the last few lines. Make sure I've covered all my bases, he thought.
Marshall doubted Faber would say a word to anyone about what really happened in the parking lot, the agent's ego wounded beyond repair and facing almost assured ridicule if he tried to measure his honor against Marshall's, but a few simple reminders of favors owed and now repaid would waylay any unwise attempts. Marshall studied his hands again after launching the missive into cyberspace and logging off.Nope, not a scratch. He smiled.
Mary loaded the washer fairly indiscriminately. If it wasn't blindingly white, it was colored, and everything but Marshall's undershirt was going to join the ride this time. She picked up his jeans, shook them out, and stared curiously at her foot as a small item fell out of a pocket.
What is that? she wondered, leaning down to pick it up. Eyebrows raised as she studied the item, she realized she was holding a SIM card. Mary tilted her head slightly as she tried to recall whether Marshall had talked about any issues with his phone. In fact, she remembered, he had received a few calls since the jeans were off, so it wasn't even the card from his phone anyway. Shrugging, she placed it on the dryer to take to him after getting the load running. Tucking the jeans onto the top of the pile in the washer, yet another small anomaly caught her eye.
The cuff of one leg of Marshall's jeans had a few dark smears marring the fabric. She squinted at the stains for a moment, then ran her thumb over one. Stiff. Flaky. It looked like blood. Mary stood still for a few minutes, brow drawn and gaze shifting randomly as she tried to recollect any injury within the last few weeks that would've caused Marshall to have blood on his jeans. On the pant cuff of his jeans. Shaking her head slightly, she realized every inch of his body had been explored quite thoroughly by her own hands within that time, and he had no injuries. And it wasn't hers…Then whose blood…
Her mouth dropped open slightly as she recalled an overheard conversation earlier in the day. Two secretaries chatting while refilling their coffee in the cafeteria.
"Hey, Rita. Did you hear about that guy that got mugged in the parking lot earlier?"
"Jesus, yes! How fucking creepy is that? I heard he was from out of town. Some fancy-ass schmuck with a hot car."
"Donna thought it was the same guy who was hitting on Jane earlier. The one with the high dollar get-up..."
At the time, Mary had a moment's thought that the women were talking about Faber, then immediately discounted the idea. The description fit, but he surely would have made a reappearance in the office to voice his displeasure had he been assaulted. There would've been rants about piss poor security, demands for compensation, both physical and monetary, and reports filed detailing the lack of protection for high profile out of town guests. No one would've had to guess who had been mugged. Faber would've made sure his name was well known by the end of the day. No, that drama queen would've pitched a fit to rival one of her mother's.
Now, however, as she held a soiled garment in her hands, Mary's mind dredged up the fading voices of the women as they trailed out of sight.
"…and I guess he was a bloody mess. Laying on the ground with his face all smashed up…"
Mary could almost hear the tumblers in the lock falling into place. Marshall's expression of utter contempt that morning when Faber entered the office. The anger he radiated when Stan mentioned the pictures. Marshall's escape to the restroom soon after…and he hadn't come back. Not until Faber had been gone for some time. He claimed he had been waylaid by one of the intel analysts, but didn't elaborate.
Faber wouldn't have come back up if he was incapable of the feat. If he had been disabled to the point of just being thankful he could still breathe. If someone had beaten the crap out him quickly and effectively. A someone whose presence and skill would deter an ass-kissing, peacock strutting idiot from ever admitting to such an inglorious and embarrassing outcome.
Mary found herself staring out the laundry room door in the direction of her partner's last known position, still holding the jeans in her hands. "Son of a bitch…" she whispered.
Marshall had traded the glowing screen of the computer for the larger, more hi-def images of Mary's TV when he felt her come up behind him, standing silently.
"CSI:NY or the Yankees game?" he asked, remote at ready.
Mary's hand gently gripped the back of his neck, kneading slightly, and she leaned in over the back of the couch to place her head next to his. Marshall stiffened, senses on heightened alert for some reason.
"You know what I want to see?" she murmured, her breath tickling his ears.
"Um…no?" he replied, wary of her tone. She sounded predatory, and he was loath to move.
"I want to see your hands." Her grip on the back of his neck tightened with the slow command.
He wasn't sure exactly when it had happened, but Mary must've had an epiphany sometime between the fill and spin cycle. He knew why she wanted to see his hands. Hoping to avoid any further discussion or suspicion, he held them up without question or protest.
"I swear I washed them after I went to the bathroom, if that's what you're worried about," he teased. He dutifully turned them palm up to complete the inspection.
Mary shifted her weight, leaning forward to gently place an object on his left palm, then drew completely back and crossed her arms over her chest. Waiting.
Marshall stared at the SIM card from Faber's phone. Tangible proof of nothing but possibly pilfered technology, but he somehow knew his partner was waiting for an explanation beyond petty thievery.
"And in case you were thinking of spinning a story involving IT and lewd bets, there was also blood on the pant leg of your jeans that I know doesn't belong to either of us." A pause as she gave him a chance to gather his thoughts. "Sometimes I do listen to the office gossip, and you're good for this one. Talk fast, and talk smart…because I haven't decided how I feel about this yet."
He flicked the SIM card onto the coffee table, turning to look at her as the plastic skittered across the wood. True to her words, her face morphed through a number of emotions while she stood there staring back at him. Anger…confusion…a hint of amusement that threatened to emerge.
Marshall reached out to place a hand on her forearm. "Come around here. I'll get a crick in my neck talking to you back there." He fastened his fingers around one wrist and guided her reluctant form around the arm of the couch to stand in front of him.
"Do you remember the movie Henry V?" he asked.
Mary narrowed her eyes and set her jaw. "Marshall…"
He still controlled one of her arms, and he began to knead her fingers softly. "The English army was greatly outnumbered as they faced the elite of the French forces in the countryside of Agincourt. The English were tired and sick, weary from months of fighting without proper supplies or weapons. Underdogs. Doomed to certain death and misery with little to no chance for glory. But the king, Henry, rode out in front of his army with sword in hand and a taste for French blood. He whipped the men into a patriotic frenzy, made them feel as though they could conquer the world, with the French army being a small obstacle. One of the greatest speeches of all time."
"Get to the point, Marshall," Mary complained, testing his grip slightly. She wasn't sure why she was still listening.
Tugging back, Marshall urged her forward a few more steps until she had to straddle his knees, shins against the couch. He continued the story in a soothing voice, "The English launched one of the most impressive offensive strikes of all land battles. Systematically slaughtered the French through superior long bow strategy, terrain advantages and simple will to live. But they nearly faltered at one point, nearly lost their momentum and upper hand." He held her gaze until she raised one eyebrow. "The French broke the rules of engagement. Committed an act of such heinous cowardice that even the most battle weary of soldiers were appalled. They sent men behind the English lines. Attacked the pages, the young boys who tended the horses and kept the supplies. Slaughtered them despite the fact that some weren't even old enough to heft a sword.
"The King got word of the act, rallied his army, and turned their rage and pain into retribution for those who had no recourse. He took no prisoners and offered no pardon, because victory had to be complete. Justice had to be served."
She stared at him as the meaning behind his story became clear.
"I'm not a little boy, Marshall," Mary stated softly. "And I'm not defenseless." She carefully climbed onto the couch, one knee folded beside each of his thighs, and sat gingerly on his knees as she faced him. "And we really need to talk about your delusions of grandeur."
Marshall grinned in relief as she bypassed anger. "I never used the word 'defenseless.' The boys fought back with everything they had. I said they had no recourse. No one to help them at the time and no way to make it stop." He rested his hands on her thighs, silently delighting in the small play of muscles beneath his palms. "He wasn't going to stop, Mare. He was going to torment you and throw it in your face every chance he could get."
She sighed and rolled her lips between her teeth as she relaxed into his lap, confusion still present in her eyes. "It was a couple of pictures, idiot. I hardly think it would garner much interest beyond the size of my ass. I just can't figure out why it set you off like that. Especially like that. Please tell me he won't have to file for disability."
A short chuckle, and Marshall reached up to rub her upper arms with reassurance. "He'll want to avoid the mirror for a few weeks…or months…but I left him intact."
"Mary," he began reluctantly, sighed and stared past her at the silent images on the screen. "It wasn't just the pictures…or what you had told me." Memories of overheard words tightened his features.
"Then what?" she asked.
Marshall pulled his gaze back to her face as he traced circles on her biceps with his thumbs. "I overheard a good portion of your conversation in the locker room."
She stiffened with his words and dropped her gaze. A slight flush infused her cheeks, and Marshall watched as she built up to a reaction. Affronted by the breach in privacy, yet undecided as to the level of embarrassment at being caught in a lie.
"You should've told me," he admonished quietly.
Mary's eyes snapped up to his. "Why? It was over and done and I'd just as rather forget about it. None of your business, really."
Marshall repositioned his hands onto her hips to foil any attempted escape. "We kind of touched on that earlier today, remember? You're my business. What's done to you is my business. And sometimes, there's a need for…retribution."
"Jesus, Marshall." Mary gave him a warning look. "What is this? You, Tarzan…me, Jane? Because your ass will be sleeping in the yard if I think you're saying I belong to you."
"No one could possess you, Mary," he assured her, slowly working his fingers under the hem of her tank top, "but you are mine…" Marshall heard her intake of breath as his fingers reached her skin, and his hands encircled her waist as he urged her forward into his lap.
"Mine to care for…" His fingers traced up over her ribcage, and he watched her eyes darken. "Mine to protect…" Mary ran her hands up his chest and over his shoulders to lace her hands behind his neck; wiggled herself snugly against him and he groaned, "Mine…"
"Tell me why I'm not chewing you a new one for this blatant display of Neanderthal nonsense?" Mary murmured distractedly as Marshall nuzzled her neck.
"'Thou hast me, if thou hast me, at the worst; and thou shalt wear me, if thou wear me, better and better.'" Marshall quoted, offering a claim to her also.
"Of course," he said, grinning, "if I'm yours, that means you have to take care of me. Feed me, walk me…" he trailed off with a groan, his gaze captured by Mary's skin as she pulled her tank top off over her head.
"Mmm…" she hummed as his fingers brushed against the undersides of her breasts, delighted by his fascination. "Teach you tricks. Then we'll talk about my spectator privileges the next time this happens."
"Mmmhmm." Marshall ignored her as he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her in to taste her, encouraged by her gasp of pleasure.
"Oh, I like this," he murmured. "This is mine too."
Mary buried her fingers in his hair with a moan, all protests and discussion forgotten on a whisper as Marshall's lips and tongue possessed her. "It's all yours."
*** Wheeee! and the curtain closes on our little play :) Oh, to have a Marshall to belong to...*sigh* I hope you enjoyed the story! I feel better...don't know about you! :) Please, please, please leave your final thoughts in a REVIEW! I so love them ***
***Marshall's quote was from King Henry in Henry V (rent the movie...it's AWESOME) ***