I call this my finale fix fic, but it's not really. It's more a possible scenario leading from what we were given in the finale. A scenario that is going to at least put things on the right path. We didn't have a wedding and as Brandi has taught us, even on the wedding day, things can change. So, trying to keep the characters, well, in character, and the emotions honest with what we know of our heroes, I hope I am giving you a plausible scenario.
Marshall Mann entered the WitSec office on his first day as Chief feeling a little strange inside. He glanced around the empty office, his eyes lighting on his old desk, now cleared of all paraphernalia, then glanced over at the desk positioned so close to his old one. Beating down a swell of emotion and quickly heading into his new office, he shrugged out of his jacket and surveyed his new domain. Even though he had come in over the weekend and moved all his things to the new location, set up his computer, arranged his origami and photos, proudly set his new nameplate on the front of his desk, it still felt as though he was trespassing in Stan's space.
He had been tickled to find the note from Stan inside the locked top drawer. He had read through the list of sound advise his old boss had left for him, stopping short at the last item – don't let anything come between your friendship with Mary. It won't be worth it. A good partner is hard to find, a best friend – even harder. That was going to be the trick though wasn't it? Keeping his best friend, especially under the restrictions he himself had imposed.
The send off party for Stan the previous Friday had been a success. Everyone had seemed happy, smiling faces all around the table at the restaurant. Stan was relaxed, assured. Lia was quiet, but supportive, although Marshall felt a lingering sadness underneath. Clearly things needed to be discussed regarding the future of the relationship. Abby had been cheerful. Jinx and Brandi had been on good behavior. Even Parillo and Shelley had come. And Mary. On the surface things seemed normal between them. They joked, Mary stole food from his plate, she even brought a date. But something was just a little bit...off.
He had finally had the strained, but required conversation with Mary Shannon, his partner of almost ten years. That hadn't gone quite as he had planned and he knew with a certainty that he hadn't been completely honest with her, but what needed to be said had been said. He could truthfully tell Abigail that they had talked and all was well, the wedding plans could move forward. Abby had accepted his word without questions, smiling happily at him. Marshall tried to block out the look of hurt on Mary's face when he told her they could no longer have the close friendship they had always had. He cringed every time he recalled telling her just the previous week that the first person she had to call when she needed to talk about her father was him, only to tell her just days later that she couldn't call him anymore. He hadn't meant it quite the way it came out, but Mary had accepted it and released him. Maybe the first truly selfless gesture she had ever extended to him.
Marshall drew a new origami creation out of his briefcase and placed it on Mary's keyboard. Hoping it would bring a smile to her lips. Or a tart retort. He considered the pale pink dove held between his fingers: a peace offering. Today he had to consider who to chose as Mary's partner. No one would ever truly fill his shoes in that respect he knew. No one would ever know her the way he did, be able to anticipate her moves the way he did, be able to put up with her the way her did. Mary would likely be particularly crabby today, as it would truly dawn on her that their partnership was no more.
He sighed as he walked over to set the coffee pot brewing. He had debated how to handle the change in their relationship, both professionally and personally. The professional change he had ultimately decided to follow Stan's advice – let Mary have her way on the small things and stand his ground on the major ones. Not such a big change from their partnership. The personal change was going to be more tricky.
He edged behind his new desk and gingerly sat down in the chief's chair. He blew out his breath. He had bought himself some unexpected breathing room with this promotion. He and Abby had agreed that with starting a new position and the responsibility that went along with it, it wouldn't be starting out on the right foot to immediately take a couple weeks off for a honeymoon. They had decided to push back the wedding date a few months until Marshall was more settled in at work. The suggestion had been Abigail's. He had been surprised, but grateful as he knew taking on the new job would leave precious little time for a personal life. The decision made him feel oddly happy.
Marshall looked up when he heard the security door click open, expecting to see Delia. He froze when he saw Mary. She never came in this early. A glance at the clock told him it was just coming up on 8:00. He closed his eyes briefly. Everything between them was just...off. He didn't like it.
Mary flung her purse down beside her chair and headed over to the kitchenette area, on the hunt for caffeine. She could smell the freshly brewing coffee and knew Marshall had brought one of his personal blends he liked so much. She spared a covert glance towards Stan's, no Marshall's, office and saw him peering out at her. Mustering up a rather weak smile, she gestured towards the coffee pot. "Federal government supplies not good enough for you, Chief?"
Marshall grinned and came out of his office, leaning against the doorjamb. "It's your favorite," he said quietly, " and I thought you, we, could probably both use the good stuff today." Her eyes came up to meet his, and to her chagrin, she felt herself flush. Still looking out for her, as always.
Mary edged back towards her desk, hating the feeling of uncertainty that had crept into their relationship over the past few days. Since 'the talk'. Her mind skittered away from that crushing conversation on the balcony. She set her mug down on her desk and reached over to flip on her computer. Her hand froze when she saw the pale pink dove balancing delicately on the letter M on her keyboard. Peace offering? She glanced towards Marshall, who had returned to his office. Why did he feel the need to give a peace offering?
Mary finished up the last of the paperwork on the Anolete intake. Dourly regarding the final signed document, she thought longingly of the days when Marshall would do her paperwork for her. No such luck with Delia. The woman was surprisingly firm on certain things. The new partnership was going about as well as expected. Delia had no delusions about ever being the partner to Mary that Marshall had been. They were developing a rapport of a kind, but it was a guarded one.
Mary found working for Marshall easier than expected. Somewhat to her surprise, he continued to allow her to dictate things, to get away with plenty. It had only recently begun to dawn on her that it was just the small potatoes he let slide, maybe because there were so *many* small potatoes. The big issues he was sticking to his guns. She smiled. Much as Stan had done.
Looking in the dark office of the new Chief, she wondered idly when Marshall was going to announce his wedding date. She was waiting in some trepidation for that. In the old days, god could the old days really only be two months ago?, she would have just asked him. Now, Mary felt uncomfortable having any private discussions with Marshall. She was holding to her promise the best way she knew how. Because she had told him the truth when she said that more than anything else, she wanted him to be happy. And just why was that Mary Shannon, that the most important thing to you in this world, outside of Norah, was that Marshall be happy? Just stew on that awhile girlie.
She missed him. Missed him tremendously. Missed their banter. Oh, they still joked, threw zingers. But it was different and not as comfortable. She never called unless it was work related. Marshall had called a few times. It felt like he was checking in on her and that made her bristle. She had cut him short. Multiple invitations had been extended to gatherings at his and Abby's house. Each one had been turned down- politely, but still turned down. She just couldn't bring herself to witness the happiness she wanted for him.
Loneliness was her companion now. Kenny had been given the boot after a month of booty calls. He said too many Marshall-esque things. And he was no Marshall. Brandi was back in her house of course, but was living her own life. She had a sales job lined up for after the baby was born, declaring that she would get her own place as soon as she had a few months rent saved up. Jinx was doing well and was out of her house. That was the important thing. On the wagon and out of her house. Norah of course, took up most of her time. But still, loneliness was pervasive. She hadn't realized how much she had depended on Marshall for adult companionship. Delia had extended tentative offers to go out after work, but Mary couldn't bring herself to accept.
This was her new reality. Her only friend off limits. Mary had never felt the need to cultivate any other friendships. It had literally never occurred to her that anything could come between them. Heaving herself up from her desk, she walked into Marshall's office and placed her form on the top of his inbox, to await his signature. She glanced around curiously, having never had the chance to really look at his office, always trying to make a speedy escape whenever she had to walk into the tidy space.
Spying some photos on the credenza behind his desk, she walked around and picked one up. Abby and Marshall. She didn't even try to stop the face she made. It was a professional portrait. Staring at Marshall with his arms around the cheerleader, Mary was floored when she realized it was likely an engagement photo. Abby was radiant, Marshall was, well, handsome. Why had she only noticed that he was a handsome man a few months ago? She quickly set it back down and picked up the next, smaller frame. She stared. How was it she had never seen this photo before? It was an amateur shot, she and Marshall outside the city somewhere, she wasn't sure where. They were side by side, resting against a truck, looking at each other, smiling. Marshall's face was so full of affection, that Mary almost started crying. And she was looking up at him with a soft smile, like she... Abruptly she put the frame back down and quickly cleared out of the office.