Here's a random story that's been bugging me for a few days. This is set about six months or so after the final. Only thing is, Stan didn't leave. He is still chief and Mary and Marshall are still partners. Please review!

Enjoy!

Unlikely Friendship

Marshall chose a booth at the back on the bar; he just wanted a quiet drink where he didn't have to talk to anyone. He was questioning his decision to come in here instead of stopping at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of scotch on his way home when it suddenly hit him and he remembered why he chose to come here… because I didn't want to be reminded that there was no one other than Oscar waiting for him at home.

He sighed and rubbed his tired eyes; it had been a long week of witness transfers and Mary bugging him about his break up with Abigail. He had just kept changing the subject, not ready to talk about it yet.

While they had been fighting a lot lately, he was surprised when he got home two weeks ago to find Abigail stood with her bags packed. She told him that they were never going to work because too much had happened for them to be happy together. He had said she was wrong, that he loved her and would do anything to make it work but she still walked out, leaving her engagement ring on the table.

He wasn't stupid…He knew everyone in the office and probably over at the ABPD were gossiping about it. He heard them talking, saying how they wasn't surprised it hadn't lasted….And they all assumed that it was him that broke things off with her. A part of him wanted to put them straight but a bigger part of him knew it was none of their business and that it would probably just make matters worse if he said anything.

He hadn't even told Mary the reason why they split. He wasn't sure what her reaction to the truth would be and he wasn't ready to deal with the fall out. So he resisted all of her attempts; the teasing, the understanding, the sympathetic, the threatening…It just seemed to make her more determined.

His phone vibrated in his pocket and pulled it out to see Mary's caller ID. He couldn't help but smile at the irony. He wondered whether she was calling about a problem with work…Or if she was trying another tactic to get him to talk…Maybe she was at his house now, wondering where he was. He put the phone of the table and waited for it to go to voicemail…If it was work related, she would leave a message or Stan would be calling him in a next couple of minutes.

A minute later, he got a text message alert; unsurprisingly from Mary.

'I wanted to see if you were okay. It's just Norah and me hanging out tonight, if you feel like joining us. M'

He was tempted to take her up on her offer but he also knew what she had planned. They would start by watching a movie with a few beers and by the end of the film; they'd be in a deep and meaningful conversation and he would be confessing everything that had happened.

'I'm fine. Appreciate the offer but I'm going to pass, thanks. See you tomorrow.'

Once he had hit sent, he shoved the phone back into his jeans' pocket and leaned back, sipping his scotch.

He was debating with himself, whether he should order another drink and get a cab home or if he should leave now, picking up a bottle of something and face the fact that whatever time he went home, the place would still be empty.

Then he heard a familiar voice.

He looked up and was surprised to see Brandi sat at the bar, talking into her cell phone, obviously upset with someone.

He frowned a little, wondering what Mary's sister was doing a bar, alone. Ever since her broken engagement to Peter and she spiraled out of control, she had given up drinking. Then three months ago, she had given birth to her son, Joseph Scott Shannon. According to Mary, the younger Shannon had been doing really well since her return to Albuquerque and even managed to find herself a part-time job working in the admin office for a Construction Company.

Marshall watched as she slammed the phone down on the bar and picked up the straw in her drink, stirring it. He considered going over to say hello but quickly changed his mind. There was obviously a problem and he wasn't in the mood to be sucked into another Shannon family drama. It didn't look like she was upset or scared…Just angry. He knew that look well, from working with Mary almost every day for the last nine years.

He drained the rest of his scotch and stood up; hoping he could sneak out before being seen. He had almost made it to the door when he heard her voice again. When he looked over, he saw a man had joined her and by the looks of it, he was unwelcome.

He hesitated in the doorway until he saw the guy, trying to take Brandi's hand as she tried to resist being touched. He knew he would feel guilty if he just left her here alone when he could have helped, so with a loud sighed, he headed over to them.

"Hey, honey…" He greeted, placing a hand on Brandi's shoulder, causing her jump.

"Marshall?" She looked at him in surprise but then realized what was going on when her sister's friend flicked his eyes briefly the guy hitting on her. "You're late…"

"I know, I'm sorry but you know how the job can be…" Marshall replied, moving his jacket aside a little so his gun and badge was showing. "Who's this?"

"Hey, man…I didn't know she was taken…I don't want any trouble…" The guy jumped up from the bar stool and held up his hands.

"I don't want any either but maybe you should leave me and my girlfriend to get to our date?" He sat down on the stool on the other side of Brandi, draping an arm across her shoulder.

"Of course…" He stumbled away. "Sorry…"

Brandi chuckled as she watched him leave. "Thanks…"

"No problem." Marshall gave her a small smile. "It looked like you needed rescuing."

"Yeah, the creep wouldn't take a hint." Brandi replied and sipped her drink. "It's orange juice."

"I never said a word…"

"I know but I thought I should tell you." She shrugged. "I don't want it getting back to Mary that I've been in bars drinking…I really don't to take the 'I told you so' speech."

"Hey, come on…" Marshall started.

"Please, you know Mary better than anyone." Brandi cut him off. "You know she's waiting for me to fail."

"I know she's proud of what you've done since you've been back."

She let out another laugh. "Still doesn't stop her expecting me to fail."

Marshall opened his mouth, feeling like he should defend his best friend but before he could, the barman appeared.

"Can I get you anything?"

"This is on me…" Brandi looked at him. "Thank you for helping me out."

"Your real date is not going to show up and start a fight, is he?"

"Nope, I've been stood up."

Marshall knew he should probably turn her down but if he did, it would mean returning to the cold empty house.

"Scotch." He told her barman then to Brandi. "So, is it serious?"

"What?"

"With this guy…the one who stood you up?" He asked. "Mary never mentioned you dating anyone."

"I'm not…I was meant to be meeting a friend from work but she cancelled last minute." Brandi shrugged. "I was looking forward to it… It's my first night out since the baby."

Marshall nodded his thanks when the barman returned with his drink. "Night is still young…you can still enjoy it."

"Marshall Mann, are you asking me out on a date?" She teased.

He choked on his scotch at her words. "No….No, I don't…I mean, I've just…"

"Relax, I'm joking." She laughed. "Anyway, I know you and Abigail just broke up…I was sorry to hear that."

"Yeah, me too."

"She was nice…I thought you two were good together."

"You thought she was nice after she arrested you…"

"To be fair, she also helped clear my name."

"True." Marshall nodded in agreement.

"But hey, at least you guys figured it out before the wedding…" Brandi said with fake cheerfulness. "You wouldn't believe the kind of looks you get when you try to check into a hotel alone when you're wearing a wedding dress."

It was Marshall's turn to laugh. "I think I would get more then looks if I tried to check into a hotel alone wearing a wedding dress."

She titled her head a little to get a better look at him. "How many of those have you had?"

"Only two but I'm running on about two hours sleep so…"

"Why are you here and not at home in bed?"

He shrugged. "More people here."

"Oh…Marshall…" She put her hand on top of hers. "You really miss her?"

He looked at her hand for a few seconds before pulling away. "It's only been two weeks."

"Then call her…Tell her you'll do whatever to get her back."

"You want the truth?" Marshall stared down into his glass, swirling the liquid. "I love her…I miss her…I would have done anything for her…but despite all that….I don't know if I would take her back, even she begged."

She frowned a little. "She hurt you?"

Marshall swallowed the rest of the scotch in one mouthful. "Brandi, I appreciate it but I don't really want to talk…"

"Okay, sure…" She shrugged. "What should be talk about then?"

"Anything…" Marshall replied, signaling the barman for another drink. "How's Joey doing?"

Brandi broke into a wide grin and pulled out her cell phone, to show him photos. "Oh, he's just great…The best thing that's happened to me…"

Marshall forced a smile in return, as she scowled through her photo album. He finished his third drink even quicker than the first two because with the help of Brandi distracting him and the scotch, it just made the pain a little more bearable.

TBC

Okay, some of you may know already but I really like Brandi and wished he had seen more of her with Marshall. I loved the end of Duplicate Bridge, where he's on the phone with her all…Also, the cut scene from Never the Bride when he's giving her advice about talking to Mary.

This is a friendship fic … but I would love you opinion! Please review and let me know.