Closing Time

Closing time
Time for you to go out go out into the world.
Closing time
Turn the lights up over every boy and every girl.
Closing time
One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer.
Closing time
You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

/IN PLAIN SIGHT/

He stared at the tiny glass filled with the powerful liquid. He spun it around between his fingers, watching the fluid form a minuscule tornado in the bottom of the cup. He tipped back his head and tossed the contents into his mouth before swallowing. The alcohol burned like watery fire down his throat until it hit his stomach. His vision swam and his mind turned to mush as the fourth shot of liquor hit his blood stream. He chased it down with a mouthful of beer, a cool companion to the scorch of the tequila.

A white rag appeared in front of him. "Marshall, man. Slow down." The rasp of the bartender, a man called Ted, spoke. "No need to drink yourself into oblivion."

Marshall, pissed off at the world, snapped back, "If i wanted your opinion, I would have asked for it." He said, as he took another swill of beer.

The man grumbled, but said nothing as he returned to wiping down the mahogany bar. The gentleman sitting beside the US Marshal dropped a couple of bills onto the counter, picked up his jacket, and left.

He took another pull of beer, the liquid in the bottle decreasing every minute. Marshall sighed, and stared at the brown glass. His fingers drew patterns in the condensation of water on the neck of the bottle as he thought about the last few months.

Things around the office had been tense since his new position as chief. He no longer felt like the cool trivia guy around the water cooler. Now he was the boss, the one who called the shots, the one who you didn't want to piss off.

His old partner acted as if he'd fallen face first off the edge of the planet. She ignored him, and only spoke to him when it was required. He actually was beginning to miss her snide remarks and witty comebacks.

When asked directly why she no longer wished to talk to him, she'd told him something along the lines of 'Oh, you must have forgotten the fact that I released you."

The dig had hurt. It dredged up painful memories of that dreaded conversation on the balcony of the inaptly named 'Sunshine' Building. That day, he'd insisted that his best friend of five years forget about their entire relationship so that his fiancée would no longer be jealous of it. He'd thought he'd been doing the right thing by asking this monstrous favor of Mary Shannon.

He had been clearly wrong.

He laughed bitterly as he jarred himself back to the present. He drained the liquid out of the bottle and held up a finger, signaling his request for another drink.

The bartender sighed, but reluctantly complied with the order. He uncapped another beer and set the chilled beverage in front of the drunk marshal.

"Would it helped if you talked about it?" Ted inquired.

Marshall rolled his eyes. "What's there to talk about? My best friend hates my damned guts. My fiancée left me because I was talking too much about Mary and now all I have is my fucking dog and an empty house. The dog doesn't even like me very much. Seems he preferred Mary or Abigail." He snorted and picked up the beer.

Ted looked at the troubled fellow. "I think you need to go home now, Marshall. Before you do something you regret." He said, reaching for the telephone. "I'm going to call Mary, alright? She'll take you home."

Marshal laughed humorlessly. "Hates my guts, remember?" He slurred. "She wouldn't come pick me up if I were dying." He hiccupped. It tasted like a swirly mixture of beer and strong tequila.

"Well bud, you're cut off. So there's no point in staying here." Ted said, with the phone to his ear. A muffled 'hello' sounded on the other end. "Mary Shannon?" He asked.

"Yeah? Who's this?" She questioned, sounding slightly irritated.

"Ted Stuart, from Nightlife on 17th." He said. "Sorry for calling you so late, Mary, but I've got a bit of situation down here."

The US Marshal sighed. "Has Ma fallen off the wagon again? Damn-it, I thought I told you guys not to give her anything." She snapped, her usual angry self.

Ted chuckled. "No, no. It isn't Jinx. Actually it's..." He looked at the man building a tower out of the bottle caps of his drunken beer bottles. "It's Marshall, Mary. He needs some help." He admitted, in a whisper.

The other line was silent for a few beats. "Why doesn't he call his stupid fiancée?" She muttered.

"Actually, he's told me that they're no longer together." He relayed.

She was quiet once more. "I'll be there in a few minutes. Try to keep him from doing some dumbass move till I get there, okay?" She said, as she was beginning to hang up the phone.

"I've missed you guys together, Mary." Ted said.

"So have I, Ted." She said, her voice just above a whisper.

The line went dead.

/IN PLAIN SIGHT/

The Marshal had laid his head down on the table a few minutes before his blonde counterpart had walked through the door to bar, and had promptly fallen asleep. His snoring was beginning to annoy the other customers.

Ted waved her over to where Marshall was snoozing. "Conked out a couple of minutes ago."

She didn't look surprised. "Got any cold water?" She asked, looking over her old partner.

The bartender filled up a glass for her. She took the cup and dumped it over the head of Marshall. "Get up, asshole." She said, sharply.

The fellow Marshal, dazed and confused, raised his head slowly. Water was dripping down the sides of his face and sticking to his eyelashes. His eyes searched a few minutes before settling on her. "Mary?" He asked, his speech still slurred.

"Yeah, Marshall, it's me. Now get up, we're going home." She said, dangling her keys in front of his face.

He tried to get out of the chair but stumbled a bit. Mary managed to catch him, slingling one of his arms over her shoulder and moving towards the door.

"Geez, Marshall, drink the entire bar why don't you?" She snapped, his hip colliding with hers as he tripped over his own feet.

"I was thirsty." He said, drunkenly. He wiped the water droplets off his face and continued walking.

With a substantial amount of effort, they made it to Mary's car. She unlocked the door, and slid out Nora's car seat to make room for Marshall's lanky body. She helped him into the backseat and laid him down.

"Puke in this car and I will find new ways to make your life a living hell." She said, pointing an angry finger at him.

He saluted her. "Aye-Aye, ma'am." He said, before shutting his eyes.

She climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine.

After a few moments of silence, Mary had to speak. "Hey, Marshall, what's that about Abigail leaving you?"

The new chief made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat. "She said I wasn't committed to the relationship. And she couldn't marry a man who didn't love her completely." He said, sarcastically. He muttered something under his breath that sounded like 'bitch'.

"What do you mean, 'didn't love her completely?'" She inquired, intrigued.

Marshall sighed, and was quiet for a moment before replying. "She thought I was still in love with you." He finally admitted.

Mary was rather stunned. She knew that Abigail had been jealous of the partners' relationship, but she didn't realize that the perky detective thought the tall doofus was in love with her.

She'd had many months of silence to ponder her relationship with Marshall Mann. The askance to give up a great, albeit slightly crazy, relationship with her best friend kind of pissed her off. She'd known Marshall for longer than Abigail had, and her jealousy of Mary made her hate the bitch even more. But as the months passed after she reluctantly agreed to put their relationship on the back burner, it made some new feelings come to light for the blonde haired marshal about her partner. She was irrevocably in love with him, and the thought of never being speak with him again scared the living daylights out of her. Now that there was no Abigail in the picture, she couldn't deny that she was hoping that they could rekindle what they once had, and perhaps eventually develop it into something more.

"And?" She said, in a whisper.

Marshall groaned in the backseat. "And what, Mare?"

"Are you?" She asked.

"Am I what?" He replied.

"Damn-it, Marshall, are you really going to make me spell it out?" She slammed her fist on the wheel, irritated.

"For Christ's sake, Mare, spell what out?" He shouted, his voice a slurry shout.

"Are you in love with me?" She demanded.

"Of course I am, Mare!" He yelled back at her, sitting up in the back seat.

The car fell into silence for a few miles. Mary didn't remove her eyes from the road, and Marshall stared out the window into the night passing him by. When the vehicle rolled into a stop for a red light, Marshall spoke again.

"If I blame this on the alcohol, can we say this never happened?" He whispered.

Mary hit the accelerator when the light turned green, and the car moved forward. "What if I wanted it to happen?" She asked, her voice small and timid, a combination in Mary Marshall hadn't ever heard before.

He sighed. "Well that's a whole different animal."

The only noise for the next few minutes were the sounds of the road.

"I guess the real question here is, do you love me too?" He asked.

Mary thought about this for a few minutes before answering. "I've had a lot of time to think about that Marshall."

"And?" He prompted, wanting an answer.

"And, I think I do." She said, as she turned onto a new road. She looked over her shoulder at him. "Is that alright for you?"

His face broke into a smile. "Mare, I've been in love with you since I first met you. I've been waiting for you for years now..." He said, sobering up now.

"Okay then." She said. "Good."

His stomach twisted painfully. "Great. Now that that's all sorted out, you need to pull over, I think I'm gonna puke." He said, feeling the alcohol he'd consumed not an hour before slowly creeping back up his throat.

"You will NOT vomit in this car!" She snapped as she pulled off the road.

/IN PLAIN SIGHT/

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