Author's Note: I'm back! Well, sort of. I'm back with a story for a new (for me) fandom. This fandom has a bunch of great writers and I'm coming late to the party, but I hope those that are here for IPS enjoy my take on these great characters, and those that are here for me enjoy the work I've done in a different fandom. I do have to say: it's so nice to have written something again!

This is unbeta'd work. I don't have a beta for IPS yet (considering I'm new to the fandom). Call me crazy, but I'm still hoping my regular beta falls for this show, too! ;-)

(Also? HATE the fact that section breaks are nigh impossible these days...)

And Then it's All Gone

People are crowded around her so tightly she finds it hard to breathe in the quick spaces between the blinding pains slashing through her abdomen. Marshall on her right with his hands on her and his deep voice trying desperately to be soothing. Abigail near her right foot speaking rapidly into a cell phone – wait…doesn't the twit have a Texas accent? Mark crouched down at her left foot, looking alert and in control – who the hell is this guy? Her mother sitting on her left, hands twitching like little birds.

Then, Mark is running towards the parking area; Abigail is shouting instructions behind him; Jinx's hands grasp at Mary's hand and knee; Marshall's left hand shifts to support her head. And she cries out. That last pain was worse. More intense. And she felt it burn like lightning from her bellybutton to her spine.

"Mom?" her voice is panicked. "Marshall?"

"We're here, baby." A voice that's too deep for that phrase.

And then it's all gone.

It's a bumpy ride and she can see daylight out the back windows of the ambulance, can see the bright lights above her, a young man in a dark blue t-shirt. Marshall. Her hand hurts and there's an IV there. Her shirt is bunched up under her breasts and there's a white strap across her belly. She pushes at her shirt – between the scar and the grotesque hugeness of her midsection, well, people shouldn't be seeing this. But Marshall's hand stops the scrabbling for fabric and his fingers brush right over her scar. She meets his eyes and sees her panic reflected there.

And then it's all gone.

There's a jolt as the stretcher is pulled out of the ambulance and the legs unfold to meet the ground. Pain ripples through her belly again and she thinks she must moan because Marshall's hand smoothes across her forehead and down to cup the crown of her head. The angle from his elbow to his wrist seems awkward out of the corner of her eye and she realizes he's running along side her.

"I'm not ready," she says and vaguely remembers saying it while crowded underneath the chuppah.

She can hear Marshall suck in a breath, can practically hear him choose his words, then, "Ready or not…"

And then it's all gone.

The pain is more constant now, and she can't decide if that's better or worse than the stabbing pains. The hand on hers feels smaller and the voice sounds higher that says, "You're fine. The baby's fine. It's just-"


"Yes. They're going to send you in for an emer-"


"He's with your family. Mary, you're having a c-sec-"

"I'm not ready."

"Well, I'm ready."

"The baby's fine?"


And then it's all gone.

It's later, she can tell. She can't feel, well, anything really. The pain in her abdomen has been replaced by an odd sort of itching sensation. She can make out Jinx's voice. Mark's, too. Speaking so quietly she can't tell what they're saying.

"Is the baby okay?" Her voice croaks. It's been a while since she's talked.

Then Jinx is by her bed a watery smile in place. "The baby's…okay. She's very tiny so they're keeping her warm."

So she had the baby. That explains the strange sensation. But that hesitation in her mother's voice…she doesn't like it. "What else?"

Her mother falters and it's Mark's voice that picks up. "She's having some trouble breathing. But she's on a ventilator and seems to be doing fine."

She has a daughter. A very small and not efficiently breathing daughter. She has a daughter and no adoptive family chosen. She has a daughter, no adoptive family and an ex-husband who seems to want to play daddy.

There's a whir from a machine she remembers from previous visits.

She has a daughter, no adoptive family and a present ex-husband. And pain medication.

And then it's all gone.

This time the hand holding hers feels right. "Marshall."

"Welcome back." He presses a straw against her lips and waits for her to take a sip of water.

"I have a daughter."

"I know."

"They said she's small and can't breathe on her own."

"Mary, open your eyes."

Her eyes feel like they're sealed shut and it takes quite a bit of effort to peel them open. "She's on a ventilator to help her breathe, though she can breathe on her own. But not enough. She's 4 pounds, two ounces, 17 inches long. And she's going to be fine."

Funny but when Jinx and Mark said it, she didn't believe it. "I haven't chosen a family."

"There's time." He squeezed her hand. "Do you want to see her?"

Panic flooded through her. "I don't know."

"It's okay, you don't have to decide now."


"In the NICU."

She groans. "He's not going to let me do what needs to be done. He never should have seen her."

He shushed her.

"Have you seen her?"

He doesn't answer.

"What does she look like?"

The whir of a machine.

"She's perfect."

And then it's all gone.

"You sign here, dad signs there, and then it's done. Are you sure?"

She's very sure. She's not sure now that she'll never want children, she's just sure she doesn't want this baby right now. "Can I have a minute?"

The woman from the adoption agency pats her hand. "Of course."

Mary watches the woman, Jinx, and Mark file out of the room. Through the open door she sees Marshall standing across the hall. She catches his eye and waves him in. Hands him the paperwork. "This is it."

"All it needs now is your signature."

"Once I sign, it's done. No take backs or changies."

"Is Mark going to sign?"


"And you're sure this is what you want?"

"I'm sure I'm not ready to be a mother. I'm sure I don't want to raise a baby on my own. I'm sure I don't want to be tied to Mark for the rest of my life."

"Who are you trying to convince?"

She grimaces at him. That's not really the point. But she's not ready to talk about the fact there's a scenario in which being a mother might be all right. If there was the right man, then it might be all right. But, then again, maybe not either.

"I'm sorry about yesterday."


"Chasing you off to be with Abigail and then calling you right back."

"It's okay. And besides, that was three days ago."

"No way."

"Scouts honor."

"Wow. The drugs here are good."

He grins at her and hands her the paperwork. "You sign, he signs and then it's all done."

"Why do I get the feeling you're changing the subject?"

"Because I am?" He gives her a pen and a pointed look.

"You and Abigail-" she trails off and shakes her head a little.

He shakes his right back.

She takes the pen and signs the paperwork. "This is the right decision for this baby."

"Okay." He takes the papers from her and sets them down on the side table. "And you're sure you don't want to see her?"

"I think that might make it hard and this doesn't need to be that hard."


And then he opens the door and the woman comes back with Mark. Before she knows it, it's all done. She's left in the hospital with her mom and Marshall sitting in the two visitors chairs her room provides listening to the two of them talk ballet.

"Hey Marshall?"

He stops his conversation and looks at her.

"Suppose I changed my mind. You know, about the last thing."

"Two on my cell phone."

"Okay then."

And then it's all gone.