Sorry for the delay! Here ya go.
Also, I'd like to admit outright, that there is a major continuity error in this story.
In the very first chapter I stated it was three years post finale, and then in later additions, I mentioned Norah, and she was clearly stated as still being a small baby. She is really supposed to be three years old. I really do apologize for this. I hope it doesn't discourage anyone from reading.
I really do hope you enjoy! Kinda a longer update!
It had been 29 weeks.
Marshall was shuffling down the hospital corridor, on his way to room 228 with his iPhone firmly in his grasp as he scrolled through WITSEC e-mails. Most of them were refreshers about protocols, but there were some he had to reply back to regarding Mary, and some still left from the incident with the Sully's. Although, he was growing tired of writing, and re-writing the explanation of that dreaded night, it had to be done. He just didn't type it out near Mary. For one, she hated the 'clicking' that went along with his keyboard on his cell, and number two, he didn't want her to relive any of that day- not like he had to a million times already.
In his left hand, hanging down to his ankle was a bag of clothes he had-had to carefully pick out for her. Most of her garments no longer fit, and she had yet to tell him where he had to dig her old maternity clothes out from. He didn't want to have to go perusing through all of her personal items without permission, so he stuck to digging through her dresser drawers for the outfit she'd be going home in.
It was supposed to be an easy day, after everything was done in the Sunshine Building he was to pick Mary up here, glance through all of the doctor's instructions before her release, and follow them extra carefully when they arrived home. Norah would be happy to see her mother again after these couple of weeks away, and they'd be able to sit down to a meal conscientiously prepared by him before turning in early to bed. After all Mary would be relieved to finally be home, and able to sleep comfortably, clothed in absolutely any attire she wanted, in her own bed. Marshall would be happy to have her beside him again, no matter how loud she snored.
As usual, things wouldn't go as easily as he hoped. Around room 216, Marshall was thrown off course by a passerby's bony shoulder. Being in the maternity ward, realizing most people moseying down this hall were pregnant women, he of course turned quickly on his heal to apologize before going on his merry way. But, the face he saw once he was directed at his nudger's form, was one he hadn't thought he'd ever see in this wing of Mesa Regional. Her red hair hung at her shoulders, freshly trimmed, and her eyes sparkled in surprise, the pupils growing larger as she too understood the situation they were now in. Her rail thin figure was no longer that way, but in the middle was a roundness Marshall couldn't help but notice. Instead of an apology, the stuttering, sick utterance, "A-A-Abigail?" fell from his thin lips.
The shade of her irises seemed to grow darker then, brooding almost as her response matched his thoughts. "Marshall?" she wondered starker than he. "What are you doing here?"
He felt his brow rise, and he shifted his weight to one side, pulling the bag closer to him, and shoving his phone into his pocket. "I would ask you the same question, if the answer wasn't so obviously staring me in the face," he sighed, "forgive me for being brash, but," he gulped, lowering his voice substantially. "whose baby is that?"
Abigail's expression grew a little stunned, "Nice to see you too," she replied sarcastically.
When he didn't seem at all impressed with her humor, she continued, "Wipe that look of panic away, Marshall. It's not yours."
The response good came to his calming mind, but he daren't say it aloud, for fear of sounding ungentlemanly to the same woman who had committed infidelity time and time again with a man who was probably wandering around somewhere in close proximity. He was silent, rubbing his neck, feeling his heart racing. "I trust that nothing is amiss?" he forced himself to ask. He did feel extraordinarily unlike himself in this moment, his own jaw tightening angrily at his kindness. "After all, one doesn't usually come to a hospital. Do you see Doctor Greenburg? He's the only one I know of that runs a practice out of here."
"Uh, yeah," she said nervously, "I do." She crossed her arms, as if it would make the protrusion any less noticeable to him.
Marshall swallowed hard, trying to fight off the thought that pregnancy didn't suit her very well. She looked haggard. She was looking as if she was dragging excess baggage around, instead of carrying a precious human being. "Good," he looked down, now, at the printing on the plastic bag he had Mary's clothes in.
She was attempting to skate around the question even as it was coming out of her mouth, "So who are you here for?"
He could hear her teeth grind against each other as he retorted confidently and proudly with, "Mary. I'm with Mary."
Abigail Chaffee cleared her throat, "I'm so sorry. What happened?" she asked foolishly, "What floor is she on?"
Marshall couldn't help but allow devilry into his expression. But, he found when he was about to answer, another voice chimed in.
"Doofus, what the hell are you doing out there?" was the impatient outburst.
Mary's question was far away, still behind the door of room 228, and he could hear the sound of her feet padding across the tile, coming closer, and closer. She was wearing old sweat pants he had brought her the day before, and a U.S. Marshal T-shirt he had in his car. It fit around her midsection perfectly, embracing the rotundness in all it's glory. If you looked hard enough, you could see Baby Boy Shannon-Mann shifting restlessly in her womb. But, Abigail didn't dare make direct contact with her. He looked to her door, which was now propped open by her extended foot, the rest of her was in the hall, taking in the scene before her, cradling her achy shoulder wound, wound in a sling.
"How ya doing Mary?" Abigail inquired almost ashamedly.
Marshall could feel Mary's responses broaden with snarkiness, from the few feet away. He was relieved she countered maturely, "I've been better, how about you, Chaffee?" Although she was polite, her tone was unsettling to him.
She held her arms together tighter, "I'm well." Abigail dug her nails into her own arm, "I'd love to catch up, but I promised someone I'd be downstairs a few minutes ago. He'll be worried."
"I'm sure he will," Mary spewed insincerely, "You better be going, then."
Marshall was expecting to see a "shooing" gesture, but luckily Mary seemed to think twice.
The red head nodded, "It was good seeing you again, Marshall," still not locking eyes, she added, "Good luck, Mary."
They both watched as she disappeared, going back the way she came, he noticed as to avoid Mary completely.
When he looked back at the blonde, her lips were pursed, and her eyes were glossy. "Did you bring me clean clothes, or not?" she wondered shakily.
"Mary," he sighed. "That's not my baby."
She put a false look of confusion on her visage, "What makes you think that was my first thought?" she asked incredulously.
Marshall entered room 228, putting her things onto the guest armchair, "Because it was the first thing that sprung to my mind, and you have the right to think it too."
Mary was unapologetic in her reply, not even attempting to fool him. "How are you supposed to know for sure? Are you really going to trust Chaffee after everything she's done to you?!"
"Mary," he began before she cut him off.
"Because I think that's a doofus move even for you, Marshall!"
She sighed, "If she lied to you about banging Officer What's His Fuck, why do you think she wouldn't about that being your kid?!"
Marshall plopped down on the chair, putting his head into his hands, "You really want to know how I know that's not my kid?" he gulped, "Because the last time she and I were together was well before she started that affair."
The guilt clearly overrode her every other feeling, "Jesus, Marshall," she whispered sadly after a few seconds of trying to comprehend. "Why didn't you tell me it was getting that bad?"
"It didn't seem appropriate. We hadn't even spoken that much, and you of all people didn't need to hear about unhappy I was," he admitted. "I'd very much like it if we didn't have to talk about it anymore. The baby's not mine, so there's no need to get into discussing Abigail and I's failed marriage." He looked away, out the window to change the subject.
"Okay, we don't have to talk about it," she gave up, "But there is something we do need to discuss…"
He shot up from his seat, "We don't need to talk about that, either," he muttered, pulling the clothes from the bag to hand to her. "Get yourself dressed," Marshall ordered. "It's time to get you home."
She smirked ever so slightly, "Home- a foreign word to these ears of mine," Mary joked, routinely un-velcroing the arm contraption, and pulling it off of her, then dropping her sweats nonchalantly ready to replace them with the new pair. Marshall didn't know why his cheeks grew so red at the action, because he had seen way more than she was revealing in this moment. He chalked it up to her casualness- how she didn't seem to care that he was observing her cutely chubby thighs or dimpled knees. He rather enjoyed the way she dressed- taking off each garment separately, before sliding on a new one. She stood, in only her underwear, breasts free and moving about in the most natural ways as she finally pulled on those pants, and sadly, her t-shirt. He felt particularly mischievous, his only thought having been how cold she must be.
"Your discharge papers await at the front desk," he said, helping her back into her sling, while he gestured to the door with his other hand, "Say 'goodbye' to your maternity suite, we must dash to see our little girl," Marshall finished confidently, lending an arm to the woman who had refused to let a nurse push her to the front doors in a wheel chair, although it was protocol.
Her eyes seemed to brighten, an unfamiliar twinkle played about in them, as she willingly latched to his limb, excited to see the child she had only been able to see pictures of, anticipatory to watch Marshall and Norah together, for it always made her smile. Pressed against him, she felt something in her side- a box, containing the ring that wasn't around her finger. Instead of pain in her plump part she only felt a jab of sickness, as if Marshall's heartbreaking, futile attempt was poking away at her, trying to make her change her mind.
Once she had scribbled her signature on multiple pages, and snubbed a few nurses, she latched again to his arm. As he opened the door for her, she looked back to him, "I love you, Marshall," she whispered, "And I hope a diamond ring on my left hand isn't the only way to prove that."
His expression went dark, "Of course it's not." His voice went very low, "I just," he stopped very abruptly to find different words, than he was about to say, "I just don't know how to make you understand that I feel the same way."
Mary scoffed, "Am I really stupid enough to believe that you don't, when you've been taking care of my kid—
"She's my kid too, that should be—
It was the second time he had slipped up today, but only the first time he'd noticed. It had become par for the course, to be father to Norah. "Is that out of line?" he wondered quietly, looking to his feet.
She caressed his cheek in a manner unlike her, "No," she said quietly, "it's not."
"I know she has Mark," he stated, grabbing her hips to be closer.
Mary shifted her hands to his broad shoulders, "He's not around as much as you are," she told him more calmly than he'd imagine, "She knows you better."
Marshall smiled, "That would be a dream come true, wouldn't it?" he said, grabbing her hand, and leading her to the rest of the way to the car.
"What?" Mary asked him seriously. "What would be a dream come true?"
"I guess I was just speaking out loud." He cleared his throat, realizing, she wouldn't be giving up any time soon. "What I meant was, that it would be a dream come true, if Norah was actually mine, and we could have avoided all of this sidestepping for ten years."
Her face went contemplative, "I think she's just as much yours as she is mine or Mark's," Mary began, "She doesn't let anyone play with her Lincoln Logs, but she lets you—
"Ah, but, she's only fascinated by how I know the way to make a roof," he defended.
Mary continued, eying him speculatively, "You're the only one who doesn't have to turn on her night light when she goes to bed. She's been afraid of the dark for a long time Marshall—
"Yes, but it's just a simple distraction with Mister Fluffles, her stuffed giraffe, and she's off to sleep before I can even flick the switch."
Mary stopped just before the car, "Marshall, I'm her mother and I don't even know that! And what about when she was just a newborn, and you could stop her blatting in two seconds?"
He shook his head, "Shakespearean Sonnets can calm anyone—
"Just stop!" she interrupted, crossing her arms, "Just admit, you've had her pegged since the day she was born." Mary smirked that half smirk that could always derail his thoughts.
Marshall dropped his head, looking toward the cement of the parking lot, "That's only because I have you pegged."
She snorted, "You're crazy, you are aware of that, right?" She was joking and Marshall knew that.
"I was crazy enough to fall in love with the wild card, sharp shooting, Mary Shannon, wasn't I?" he poked her opposite shoulder playfully, avoiding her wound, and then opening the passenger's side door for her.
"And I was too slow to warn you not to," she replied, exhaling as she hopped into the seat.
She didn't refuse the help, as he leaned in to buckle her belt over her barely visible lap, around her throbbing appendage. "The moment I heard your sass, I knew we'd have to deal with each other a long time, I just didn't realize I'd want to so badly," he grinned, closing her door, not seeing that glimmer in her eyes that was her really thinking. It was that scary, almost horrifying look she gave, when she was finally, truly understanding something.
He was surprised, as he climbed into his own side, that she was staring directly at him, green eyes piercing, and unforgiving as they often were, "Will you do me a favor?"
"Anything," he responded curiously.
She sighed, "Take that box out of your pocket, and say that to me one more time."
There was an implication of a demand in her tone, and although he was genuinely confused for the first few moments, he was still following her order obediently, slipping that thing he so ashamedly thrust back into his coat only last week, back out to pulsate his misery into the SUV.
"Now say it," Mary demanded one more time.
He furrowed his brow, until he could fully comprehend. It had a dramatic way of coming out, as if he was taking his time to ensure he had the right thing he was supposed to be saying, "The moment I heard your sass, I knew we'd have to deal with each other a long time. I just didn't realize, I'd want to so badly," and he popped open the container to reveal the purposefully modest diamond ring.
She nodded, "Okay, ask me the question, before I notice what I've done," she breathed, trembling, sweating out her fear of commitment right in front of him.
Marshall added half-heartedly, the memories of seven days prior filling his pounding chest, "Will you marry me?"
Mary chewed her bottom lip, "Yeah. I will."
He almost didn't believe his ears.
I hope you liked it! Please review and tell me what you think!