Summary: Post-ep for 403 Love in the Time of Colorado: Mary takes Marshall's advice to get out and holds him responsible for the consequences

This was written ages ago and I've only just got round to finishing it. While doing so, I rewrote a couple of sections so it fits as a post-ep for Love in the Time of Colorado. Relatively spoiler free as it's a "what if" about what could have happened if Mary had taken Marshall's advice to get out that evening. No spoilers other than that.

Disclaimer: Sam Seaborne: "Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright."

In my desire to be a good writer, I've stolen the characters and locations from In Plain Sight, the above quote from The West Wing and plot ideas from Friends, Numb3rs and Veronica Mars. If you recognise it, it's not mine.


Tit-For-Tat

Marshall strode down the hotel corridor, checking each room number as he past.

"I still don't see why you couldn't just let me up," he grumbled into the phone that had been attached to his ear for the last 20 minutes.

"Shut up and hurry up," Mary grumbled back.

"You know I've probably broken several regs by implying to the front desk that..."

"Marshall," Mary growled warningly.

Marshall stopped outside room 216 and removed the card key he had lied to acquire. He pushed the door open and his weapon was instantly in his hand as his brain took in the details of the room.

He edged into the room, weapon held ready, as he made sure Mary was the only person present. He ignored her reassurances, which quickly became muttered insults, then direct threats, as he checked the bathroom for the perpetrator of the scene before him.

Once he was satisfied that whoever had done this was long gone, he returned to Mary.

"You wanna shut the door, Numbnuts?" she asked pointedly, "I'll need to start charging for the show soon."

Marshall did as he was told, closing the door he had left open in his haste to secure the room.

He looked back at Mary.

"Are you just gonna stand there and grin? Or are you gonna help, Jackass?"

Marshall hadn't even realised he was grinning until Mary pointed it out. He carefully schooled his features back into their normal, patient expression and holstered his gun.

"You want to explain how you ended up...?" he started to ask but couldn't think of the words to describe the sight before him.

Mary helped him out. "How I ended up naked and handcuffed to the bed? Jesus, Marshall, I had thought it would be obvious. Or are you such a boy scout that you've never tried anything more complicated than missionary?"

"Really, Mare? You really think this is a good time to insult me?"

"You were the one that told me to get out," she pointed out sulkily. Marshall's patient gaze told her this wasn't what he'd had in mind.

Mary looked away as her vulnerability struck her. She had been wearing her anger and indignation like a cloak to cover her nakedness. But Marshall had a way of stripping her bare and he'd chosen a particularly inconvenient moment to do so.

Marshall raked his eyes over Mary's form one more time while she wasn't looking. He tried not to stare and told himself that he was only checking for injuries as he couldn't imagine Mary letting herself get into such a situation without a fight.

There were no injuries he could see and the glance meant that the image of Mary laying on the bed, hands above her head and handcuffed to the metalwork of the headboard was firmly etched into his brain.

"Marshall?"

If any other woman has uttered his name that way, he would have classified the tone as begging. But this was Mary and Mary didn't beg.

Her gentle reminder was sufficient to get Marshall moving towards the side of the bed.

"Where's the key?"

Mary shrugged. Well, as much as she could with her arms above her head. Marshall snagged one of the sheets off the floor and threw it over her in a heap. She wiggled underneath to make sure all her parts were covered.

The display of physical dexterity made Marshall pause in his search for the key.

"How did you call me?"

Mary glared at him and he resumed his search.

"Seriously, how did you reach your phone?"

"It was on the nightstand."

"Yeah...but how...?" Marshall mimed having limited movement in his wrists.

Mary sighed, "I got it with my foot. Okay?"

Marshall stared her in awe. Then, as the images of the contortions she would have had to perform paraded through his mind, he shut his eyes and faked a shudder.

"Hey, Pervoid! Are you planning on getting me out of these any time soon?"

"It's not here, Mare, " Marshall told her. "I've got another idea."

He started to remove his belt as Mary eyed him wearily.

"Whoa, what you up to there, Cowboy?"

Marshall rolled his eyes at her and displayed the belt buckle.

"I'm going to pick it. You got a better suggestion? Of course, I could always call the hotel manager and see if there's a pair of bolt cutters on the premises. That would probably involve questions as to why I want them and maybe a member of the maintenance staff or two..."

Mary got bored about three words into Marshall's speech and by the end was waving her hand in the universal 'Are you done?' gesture. Marshall grinned and sat on the edge of the bed to apply the pin of the buckle to the lock.

Mary watched as Marshall frowned in concentration. She hadn't had the opportunity to study him this closely for a while. He was barely managing to suppress his amusement, but the smile in his eyes only served to emphasize the crow's feet. Her eyes travelled to his hair and the grey he didn't bother to cover. She wondered when he had started looking old and if he saw her the same way.

She sighed as the absurdity of the situation dawned on her. Here she was, a woman of 40, old enough to know better but still gullible enough, desperate enough, that she'd jump into bed with the first man that looked at her with passion. Too often she'd mistaken that longing look for a loving one. Now she was paying the price for her need for a few moments of connection with another human, no matter how superficial, as her partner struggled to release her from captivity.

"Got it!" Marshall declared as the pressure on her wrists was suddenly released.

Mary gingerly lowered her arms, her shoulders protesting the movement after so long in the unnatural position.

"Do you want me to...?" Marshall began to offer, only to be cut off by Mary's glare.

"To what?" she spat, still angry with herself.

"To..." he gestured to her shoulders, "you know, loosen the muscles?"

"You wish!" she snapped, tone more playful than before as his practical offer reminded her who she was talking to.

She tucked the sheet around herself as she sat up and rubbed her wrists. Marshall knew better than to help as she swung her legs off the bed, still clutching the sheet, and started to collect her clothes from off the floor.

As she snagged her pants off the dresser she noticed something was missing.

She started to search frantically, letting go of one edge of the sheet as she did so.

"Mare?" Marshall tried to point out the steadily slipping cover, but was cut off by Mary's curse.

"Goddamnit! That bastard stole my badge and gun!"