Okay, so I stole Jekkah idea (hope you don't mind) and wrote a story for Megan's (BravpExpessions) birthday. It was written pretty quickly, so I hope it's okay. Happy Birthday and hope you have a great day!
"So, what's the plan for next month?"
Mary looked across to her partner's desk. "Next month?"
"Yeah." He shrugged, his eyes flicking to his computer screen once before giving her his full attention. "Another surprise party you want to avoid? Tequila shots at the bar? A weekend in Vegas?"
Mary groaned, catching on to what he was talking about. Her birthday was coming up and her family were already dropping hints and asking probing questions for gift ideas. The fact that Marshall had brought the subject up made her wonder whether he was in on whatever they had planned.
"You can tell them that I do not want to do anything…I do not want anything…" She said firmly. "I want it to be just another day."
"My family." She answered. "Whatever they and you are up to, stop it."
"Mare, what the hell are you talking about?" He questioned. "I was just asking what you wanted to do for your birthday."
"Oh." She replied, looking him closely; wonder whether he was being genuine. "Can we just forget what day it is?"
"Come on…" Marshall gave her a look. "It's your birthday."
"Exactly and my family is going to turn it into a circus." She answered. "Now that Brandi is at college and has Peter, she wants to do all this happy family stuff…Mom wants to make up for all parties past, when she was too drunk to remember and Raph wants to start some kind of tradition where we actually enjoy getting older."
Marshall opened his mouth to reply but did not get chance as Mary continued to talk.
"So, don't you get in on the act…" She pointed a finger at him warningly. "If I so much as see a balloon, I'll be letting it go off the balcony…with you attached."
He held up his hands in surrender. "Noted….No balloons."
"Right." He turned back to his computer and for a few seconds they both silent as they returned to their work.
"I would be okay with a cake of some kind…" Mary told him. "And I guess some tequila wouldn't be too bad."
He looked up and fought a smile, watching her typing on her keyboard. "Anything else?"
She let out a sigh and turning her head sideways on top of her hand to look at him. "A new family? When that doesn't come with drama and past convictions."
"They're trying, Mare." Marshall reminded her. "Give them a chance…they might surprise you."
She groaned and then glared at him. "Great, now I feel guilty…Nice going, numbnuts! If I end up wearing some kind of party hat, I'm laying the blame completely with you."
He rolled his eyes but didn't comment. No matter what Mary said, he knew she would go along with whatever her family had planned, albeit complaining the whole time unless they were sent away for work. He wondered whether Stan would consider making up a trip for them but then there was a part of him that always enjoyed seeing Mary out of her comfort zone when came it social events because it very rarely happened.
As her best friend, though he would have to give her gift some serious thought. It would have be something she wanted…Something that no one else would buy for her….Something that she wouldn't mock him for or cause her to resort to violence. They never made a big deal out of each other birthdays and no matter how many times they both said they didn't need gift, they would still buy one but was never given until the end of the night, always acting as if it was a token gift but most of the time, the gifts he received from Mary were his favorite.
He wanted this birthday to be special because not so long ago, he had been terrified they would never get to celebrate it. He had vowed to make this birthday count as he sat in that hospital waiting for news on his partner and praying that she would pull through.
He thought about her three requests. The cake and tequila were easy but not enough. The third was a little more difficult. He knew she didn't mean it…He knew she loved her family and were proud at how well both Brandi and Jinx were doing right now but everyone who knew them struggled to work out where Mary fitted in with all the drugs, alcohol, lies and crimes.
He had spent all day trying to come up with something and searched the internet for ideas. He even considered getting her a pet…a dog or cat that she could train to be on her side but knew that would probably result in him getting a black eye and taking the said animal home with him.
It wasn't until that night, during his monthly phone call with his brother that he got an idea. After cutting their conversation short, he booted up his laptop. Finding the website he needed, he pulled out his credit card and he got to work.
Mary stared down into the pool, an untouched glass of orange juice in her hand. It had been a long day, followed by a disastrous evening but she didn't have the energy to get angry about it. Plus she knew her sister had worked hard cooking the birthday meal for her…even though the chicken was burnt, the vegetables were undercook and she had forgotten to pick up the cake they ordered for dessert. There was also no trace of alcohol in the house in support of Jinx. Then there was the fact that Raphael was no longer in their lives but they had inherited a stepbrother, who Mary still didn't completely trust but Brandi insisted he join them for the celebration.
She heard the door open and then footsteps crossing the deck towards her.
"Decided to finally show your face…" She commented without turning around, not needing to… She knew who it was. "You missed a great meal…The chicken was cremated which went nicely with the raw veg…"
"Would have been worse if the vegetables were overdone and the chicken was raw." Marshall dropped down into the chair beside her. "Happy Birthday."
"A bout of food poisoning would have rounded this day of nicely." She said dryly. "How did the transfer go?"
One of Marshall's witness' location was discovered and he had to move him at 1am that morning. Mary had insisted on going with him but Stan sent Charlie because there was another top propitiate witness arriving that afternoon and he needed Mary in Albuquerque for that.
"It was fine…Tommy is all safe with his new inspectors." He answered and then held up a gift bag. "Sorry it's late."
"I told you not to get me anything."
"You say that every year." He rolled his eyes and reached into the bag himself to retrieve the first gift. "And anyway, there were three things you told me you wanted."
Mary frowned but then remembered their conversation from a month ago. "Please tell me there is cake and alcohol in that bag."
He smirked and first pulled out a red velvet cupcake then a bottle of tequila.
"Oh sweet Jesus, I knew there was a reason why you were my best friend." She put her orange juice down and grabbed them both.
"Remember what the third thing was?" He asked.
"A new family…." She answered. "If you have any more long lost brothers or sisters in there that I don't know about then you can keep them…"
He didn't say anything and instead pulled out a leather book and placed it on her lap.
"What's this? A photo album?" She guessed. "Because if you got a hold of old family photos to show me, my family isn't too bad then that is really corny…even for you."
"It's not a photo album…It's a scrapbook." He informed her, reaching over to take back the cupcake and tequila so her hands were free. "Take a look."
She looked skeptical at him but then opened it. She frowned in confused when she saw the first page, flipping to the next to see if she could work out what it was but all she could see were names of people she didn't know.
"Marshall, what is this?" She asked, still looking through the book.
"It's a family tree." He stated. "Your family tree."
Her head snapped up. "What?"
"I did a little research…Had a few conversations with Jinx about her parents and grandparents…She's probably thinks I lost my mind asking all those questions." He laughed lightly and then realized she was still staring at him. "Anyway, my niece had a school project where she had to write about her family tree…My brother helped her and ended up getting sucked into the whole thing…he started tracing my family back all the way to the 1500s….I was talking to him about it and it gave me the idea."
Mary looked down again and reread the names…The first were a couple called Thomas and Hilda Martin…Thomas born in 1768 and Hilda in 1775. Mary had never heard of them before and it felt strange that she was somehow related to them. Then she looked closer and noticed that that under their names, date of births and deaths, it had Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
"Britain?" Mary looked at him again. "They were from England?"
"Yup, look…" Marshall turned to a page near the back of the book. "Here are you and Brandi…Jinx…her parents Michael and Louisa Evens… Her great grandmother, your great, great grandmother, Frances had travelled from Worcestershire in England to New York in 1924 when she was about 19 years old, where she met her husband Frank…the got married in 1926."
"How do you know all this?"
"There's a website, you put the information in that you know and search the records for the rest." He shrugged.
"Yeah, birth, death and marriage certificates… Immigrations records…Census records…Military records." He informed her. "Did you know, Frances father, Harry Knight fought in World War One?"
"I didn't anyone past my grandparents…" Mary muttered, watching as Marshall changed the page again and she saw the name Harry Knight, married to Beatrice and lived the Cheltenham, Gloucestershire with their five children. There was separate papers stabled to the page, which Mary guessed were his army records.
"He was in the Medical Corp… it says he was stretcher bearer." Marshall said and then continued when she looked at him again. "He would go out into the field and put the injured on a stretcher then carry them to safety."
"Yeah, must have been pretty scary…" Marshall nodded.
"I can't believe my family is from England." Mary commented. "Mom never said."
"I don't think she knows…."
"I can't believe you did all this." She turned another page to Harry's parents.
George Daniel Knight married to Ann Fletcher…Son of William and Patience Knight.
"Wait, that can't be right." She pointed to the name. "What the hell kind of name is Patience?"
"It was actually pretty popular in those days in England." Marshall replied. "I know it's a little ironic that someone related to you is named that…"
She shot him a glare but didn't say anything.
"I'll get you look through it for a minute." Marshall stood up. "Everyone is probably wondering what's going on out here."
"Marshall…" She stared up at him. "Thanks…"
"It's nothing." He shrugged. "I just wanted to give something…Show you that although your parents and sister have made mistakes, doesn't mean it's because that is what your family is… Your from good blood…A WW1 vet…Hard working farmers…There's even some guy that was an Associate of the Royal College of Science and wrote a book about the 'Outlines of Qualitative Analysis'..."
"You sure they're related to me?"
He smiled. "Yes, take your time…I'll be inside."
Mary watched him walk back into the house before looking back to the book. She had never given her family history much thought. She barely remembered both sets of Grandparents and neither Jinx nor James spoke much about them.
"Is Mary okay?" Brandi asked Marshall as soon as he stepped into the house. "Is she mad?"
"No," he assured her. "She's fine, she'll be in soon."
"She's just missing Raphael." Jinx claimed. "It's only been a few weeks."
Marshall had not been all that surprised when he found out they had broken up and to be honest, he had expected their relationship to end a lot sooner. He knew Mary had strong feelings for Raph and that he was a good guy but he also knew they weren't right for each other.
It wasn't much longer until Mary appeared, the book was under her arm with the cupcake in hand and the tequila bottle in the other.
"Hey…" Marshall said when she got closer to him and was surprised when she leaned up and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you." She whispered.
A smile slowly spread across his face. "Happy Birthday."
"Mare?" Brandi approached them. "Everything okay?"
"Everything great." She smiled at her sister. "Thanks for night, Squish…It meant a lot."
"What? A ruined dinner and no birthday cake?"
"Hey, I got my cake." She held up the cupcake and then set it down on the table so she could open the bottle of tequila. "And I think it's time for a toast."
Brandi raised an eyebrow. "A toast? You want to give a toast?"
"Yeah…" She grabbed a couple of shot glasses and filled them. "Why not?"
Peter quickly refilled his and Jinx's juices as Mary handed a shot glass to Brandi and Marshall before picking up her own.
"Here's to the past…" She held it up, her eyes locked with Marshall's. "And to the future."
The other repeated her words and then Brandi, Marshall and Mary all down the shot of tequila.
"Oh, that's good." Brandi put her glass down. "Are you going to share the cupcake too?"
"You touch it and I'll kill you." Mary warned.
Brandi rolled her eyes. "Whatever…So, what's with the book?"
Mary gave Marshall another small smile before turning to her sister. "Come take a look…"
"What is it?" Brandi moved to the table where Mary opened it up.
So, that's it. Happy Birthday Megan.