Marshall swiped himself into the office. It had been a long day, and he was exhausted, but Mary needed him. They'd spent over five hours wandering around that afternoon, through the train yard and the adjacent abandoned buildings. The sun had been setting when her knees had finally given out and the need to keep moving had left her. He'd cautiously approached, afraid that if he moved too close she might spring up and start running again, as she'd been doing all afternoon. But as he'd come within range, she'd simply looked up and met his eyes, extending her hand up to him. He took it without hesitation, not sure if she was intending to pull him down to her level, or pull herself back up to his. It didn't matter to him; but she wanted only to stand. For a second, she wavered; still clasping his hand, then she gave the smallest tug, barely perceptible. He knew what it meant. She desperately wanted him to hold her, but she couldn't bring herself to ask. He didn't need her to. Using their connection, he pulled her closer, one arm going around her, the other still in her hand. He was mildly surprised when she offered no resistance, quickly wrapping her free hand around him. He didn't miss her mumbled 'thank you' but he let it go. She knew no thanks was necessary. They stood for a few moments in silence, each of them trying to make sense of what was going on. But exhaustion was fast approaching and Mary asked if Marshall could take her home. He offered her his spare bed, knowing nothing waited for Mary at her own house but more stress. But she declined saying he'd already done enough. He nodded and they'd headed to his car. The ride had been silent and he'd left her with instructions to 'be the river'. But he hadn't reached the end of her street before she'd called him, saying her witnesses were on their way to the hospital. He'd told her he would head to the office and start the threat assessment without being asked.

Which was how he found himself pulling open the glass door of the office, when he wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed. But Mary wasn't getting any sleep, or even a chance to rest, so why should he? He was mildly surprised, and a bit annoyed, to find both Stan and the new office manager were still in the office. He'd have to deal with that, and he was fairly certain that Stan would insist he do it sooner rather than later.

Still he wouldn't face it till he had too. He walked to his desk, logged on, and typed the name of the biker who had shot Mary's witness all those years ago. He'd just hit the search button when Stan's office door opened and he heard the rather angry call, "Inspector, a moment please?" To his boss's credit, he didn't yell, but the anger was clearly evident, all the more so because of the formal title. Knowing the search would take a few minutes anyway, he stood and walked toward Stan's office.

He felt Eleanor's eyes on him, and cast a glance toward her. For a second, their eyes locked. He read hers easily. She thought that he and Mary were out of control and in need of a reprimand. He didn't bother explaining that it didn't work that way here. He simply walked past her and into Stan's office. He closed the door behind himself, but didn't bother drawing any of the blinds. He leaned against the door, not moving to the seat as he knew was expected of him. In most other cases, he would have. Taking the seat would have been a sign of respect to Stan, a move that showed Marshall was in the wrong and that he knew it. But Marshall was not in the wrong this time, so he would not meekly submit to reprimand this time.

Stan paused for a moment taking in Marshall's stance. He chose to ignore it. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't suspend you for that stunt today?"

Marshall couldn't help the snort that escaped. "Because then you'd have over 4 dozen witnesses and no inspectors."

Stan looked like he wanted to argue, but they both knew it was true. Still, Stan wasn't willing to let this go, "You walked out in the middle of an investigation. You walked out on the job, on your witness."

Marshall could feel his anger growing. When Stan had spoken to Mary the way he had earlier, he had been out of line. It had taken much of Marshall's self control not to punch his boss as he followed his partner out the door. The urge was returning. "Actually, Stan she wasn't my witness. She was Mary's. And what did you expect me to do after you kicked her out?"

"I expected you to do your job." Stan slammed his fist down on his desk, hoping to garner some kind of reaction from his inspector. He wasn't used to arguing with Marshall. Mary was the one who pushed and shoved, or dug her heels in and refused to budge. Her, he knew how to approach, how to deal with, how to push her the right way.

But there was a reason why Marshall had lasted as her partner where so many others had failed. He was used to anger. It was Mary's favorite shield, and her favorite weapon. Marshall had seen Mary smash coffee mugs and punch walls. Stan's motion barely phased him. "I was doing my job. My partner needed me. Maybe you should try doing your job."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Stan forgot what it was like to anger Marshall. Since Mary had come into the picture, she had been the fire in the office. She and Marshall were always on the same page by the time they got Stan involved, that she was the only one who ever needed to argue their case. Because she would bring the passion, and Marshall would stand silently behind her and lend support. But there had been a time, years ago, that Marshall had been alone. And his anger could rival Mary's. But where Mary's anger went from zero to mushroom cloud, Marshall's anger was slow, simmering before it engulfed everything. And it had been building since Stan dismissed Mary hours ago.

Marshall pushed off from where he was leaning against the door. His sudden movement drew Eleanor's gaze, but he ignored her as he moved closer to Stan's desk. "It means that you should have taken your head out of your ass long enough to see that Mary was fine." He paused hoping that would sink in and that Stan would understand. But he could see the importance of those words escaped Stan.

"You don't get it, Stan." Marshall shook his head, trying to calm himself. But the image of Mary, hyperventilating, pulling at her own hair, kept him on edge. "Last week, Mary Shannon was a US marshal. She was tough and capable, and no one could touch her, period. She did her job, did whatever it took to protect her witnesses and made no apologies for who she was. But now, everyone is walking on eggshells around her. She spent 18 hours chained to a post in some tweaker's basement, where God knows what happened. She's got Jinx, and Brandi, and Raph all hovering over her. And to top that off, you tell her that she's not a marshal on this case, she's my 'helper'."

Stan had the decency to at least look abashed. But before he could speak, Marshall kept going. "And how did she react to that? She was so desperate to get back to her life, that she was excited. About being my helper." Marshall pinned Stan with his gaze, "Mary had finally found her footing after days of not knowing where she stood. Her life is completely upside down right now. The job is the only thing she has that makes sense. This job is the one thing that keeps her together, and when she needed it most, you took it away. Have you ever noticed that Mary only ever seems happy here? This is where the world makes sense to her. She can't fix her own life, but she can fix everyone else's. After everything that has happened to her, she needed the stability, and the distraction, that the job offered. And you not only took that from her, you threw her out of here." Marshall hadn't meant to reveal so much about his partner, but he had been so happy to see Mary, his Mary, that Stan's dismissal of her, and her subsequent reaction, really wore on him.

"You're being a little dramatic, Marshall." Stan didn't want to believe the younger man's words. "Mary is the strongest woman I know. I hardly think that a few days off would hurt her that much."

Again Marshall scoffed. "That's how you see it. You know how she sees it? She was weak, she got herself into that basement because she wasn't strong enough to stop it. And now, she's being punished for her failure. She's blaming herself for the abduction, Brandi's trouble, the FBI investigation, all of it. It doesn't matter that we pulled her out, she's still been stuck in that basement, mentally reliving every moment. And just when she was able to focus on something other than that, you took it."

Stan was speechless for a moment. "Mary knows the rules."

"And when has she ever followed them, Stan? Honestly, think about what you're saying." He paused for a moment, letting that sink in. "It's a whole new world now, Stan. Do you get that? Mary can never go back to how things were. But she's Mary, so all she wants is for everything to be the same. She was kidnapped; she was assaulted; she killed a man. We know the truth about her family, we know she's not invincible. Her house has been torn apart and the office has been rearranged. And still she's taken all of it in stride, and she was focusing on the witness. She found her one slice of normal. And you took it."

Stan hung his head. How could he have been so blind? Mary was his inspector, his friend. He should have been able to see all of this without Marshall laying it out for him. "Where is she now?"

"The hospital." Stan's head shot up. "She's fine, exhausted, but fine. Her witness was having trouble breathing. She's gonna hang out there and see what the doctor has to say, I told her I'd handle the paperwork. We didn't want a repeat of earlier." He didn't spare Stan a dirty look.

Stan nodded. He deserved it. In all the time that Mary had been in Albuquerque, in his office, he'd never once enforced the rules, not really. How could he expect her to follow them now? How could he change yet another thing and expect her to take it all in stride after all that had happened? He owed her an apology, and some understanding. "Keep me posted, Inspector."

Marshall knew a dismissal when he heard one. He turned and returned to the search that was just finishing. He knew that Stan understood now. He'd been wrong, and Marshall had faith that Stan would take the proper steps to make things right with his partner. Of course, Stan's apology wouldn't solve everything. Mary had a lot of issues that she'd have to deal with, whether she wanted to or not. But hopefully, once she was back in the office, once she had this piece of her life back, things would start to make sense again. Once she had an anchor, she could begin to place the other pieces of her life back where they went. She'd be able to glue most of them back into place and into some semblance of her old life. And he'd be there to help.