Log in

No account? Create an account
In Plain Sight

randomrattle in mary_marshall

Fanfiction: Cauldron

I’m ba-a-ack! Didjuh miss me?

Title: Cauldron
Author: Randomrattle
Pairings/Characters: Mary/Marshall
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Mary and Marshall take the show on the road in an assignment that turns hazardous and forces them into exploring the dynamics that shape their relationship. Marshall is 2-3 months younger than Mary in this fiction and they’ve been partners for 4 years.

While I am indifferent to some of my stories once they’re done--I am tremendously pleased with this one! Hope you like it as much as I do!



Frannie Wavra was 52 years old, raised in the heart of Missouri’s sultry backlands. She grew up fourteenth of twenty, but four died before age ten and that left sixteen children trying to survive an old plantation that didn’t grow much anymore. The eldest boys commanded, the middle ones learned to obey, and the youngest … the youngest tried not to die.

Momma was just another person in authority until she died of the fever. Poppy was a sullen browed man who surrogated the oldest daughter into the role of his wife on the day she passed and the then sixteen-year-old thought little of it because she had been molested by her older brothers from the age of nine, when they became sexually able. She became her father’s wife by proxy and the teen boys shifted their sexual attention down to the next few sisters in line. Such things were common in the backlands.

Frannie escaped Missouri at age fourteen, but not before she had received a full measure of what passed as family life. She knew the tone that meant a beating, the tone that meant nothing, the tone that meant she should wash and go to her bed now. She carried all her memories forward to Colorado, then a brief stint in Seattle when she hitchhiked and paid with sex to get there. The big city was too expensive and too cold for her to survive on the street so she hitched her way south to California and finally wound up eastward, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There she met KT Stanley, a preacher’s boy who had the devil beaten out of him routinely until he reached age thirteen and ran away. He grew up in the back alleys of San Francisco, which were different from the backlands of Missouri in some aspects and the same in others. He learned to curry favor from the strong, to partner with his equals, to entrap and use the weaker. He endured abuse and neglect and harm until he was finally tough enough, big enough, savvy enough to rule the back alleys himself. Then he could have most anything he wanted and he had a special fondness for young girls. He kept some, pimped some, and earned enough money to leave the City by the Bay and move to Las Vegas.

Frannie and KT became an item when she was fifteen, lived wild until she was eighteen, and finally received Federal Aid when one of the routine police sweeps picked them up with about twenty others. A Social Worker singled them out for her personal assignment and before you could say, ‘Federal Housing,’ they had a small apartment, minimum wage jobs, and Food Stamps.

Frannie worked hard, because she had always worked hard. She could sew, could cook, and could keep a house clean. KT worked hard, but he also played hard, and one of the things he played hard at was getting his hands on younger skin. Frannie didn’t mind so much, because this was how it was done, both in the back alleys and in the backlands. Their Social Worker never asked why there were always a few young girls around their house and even if she did, Frannie would have told her they were learning to cook and clean and sew. And, truth be told, they were. They all were there by choice, running from their own tormented households and their own backlands. Sex with another man was better than sex with their father, or uncle, or brother, or grandfather. Some things just couldn’t be tolerated and Frannie knew all about that.

There were nine children, some with Frannie, some with others. The girls wrote down ‘unknown’ on the father’s section of the birth certificate, but every child had a mop of dark hair and hazel eyes. Frannie was used to a big noisy household and children underfoot. She knew how to thrash them with a switch when they didn’t obey, and how to entice them with treats to get them to do other things. Family life was normal life.

KT didn’t need to bully anymore to get what he wanted. He had a job and a car, access to street drugs. He sold used electronics and books, bikes and televisions he could repair. The pushers and pimps knew him on sight; the whores knew he was good for a cigarette and idle chatter. The dealers never worried about him horning into their operation—he was known to send a kid running with a warning when the cops were starting a sweep. Everyone knew he was free with his hands, that he was known to buy alcohol for twelve-year-olds, and sell X to middle school kids who came by. He was a fixture of the seedy side of town. Street trash that wasn’t in the way of anyone important enough to call attention to it, but street trash nonetheless.

KT was not high on the list of problems in Sin City. It was his twenty-eight-year-old son, Carl, who was the menace.


Mary liked to keep her hands near the fire.

Stan McQueen, head of Albuquerque’s Witness Security Division, knew of this penchant and made every effort to keep her hands near the fire. He had the phone number of the Attorney General, Judge Ben Farnsworth, and the Warden of the Federal Prison in his Rolodex. Tom Wells, Chief of Police, knew to call Stan if there was something major happening and his people needed backup. Trudy Garcia, CO of SWAT, knew McQueen had an officer who liked to get into trouble with them. The Kansas and Texas Fugitive Task Force Units had Stan’s number. So did Company C and E of the Texas Rangers and Arizona’s Border Patrol.

No one ever asked Marshall Mann if he liked keeping his hands near the fire like his partner did, but he was always along if Mary Shannon was. The last time Mary was head to toe in black with SWAT, the Unit Chief called her ‘jelly,’ which earned him a poke with her radio antenna where he could feel it.

“Explain yourself, Peterson, or you’ll be pleading for lube,” she demanded mock-crossly. She’d known Blake Peterson since Police Academy.

“Where’s your old man?” he cheerily returned. “You two are like peanut butter and jelly, so where is he?”

“Marshall? He and Timmy are tangled up talking about Halo 3. How come I’m ‘jelly’ … because I’m sweet?”

“Ha!” Blake towered over her, grinning. “You? Sweet? No, it’s because Mann’s nutty.”

“That makes perfect sense.” She called to Marshall as everyone was loading into the black SWAT truck, “Hey old man, pick up your feet. You’re holding up the parade.”

“Old man?” He swung into the truck with ease and reached back for her. Six-two had advantages. “I’m younger than you.”

She swatted away his hand, climbed in by herself, and shoved him over on the seat when she crowded into the middle. He rolled his eyes exaggeratedly for her benefit and Peterson had barked one crisp laugh as the truck lurched into gear.

Mary Shannon liked to keep her hands near the fire, which is why, when Carl Stanley made the list of the top fifteen fugitives wanted in the United States, Stan got a call from the USMS Director.

“Can we borrow Mary Shannon and her partner for a little trip to Vegas?” Clark asked. “We don’t want to show our hand, but can they jiggle the doorknob at Frannie Wavra’s flophouse and see where Carl is hanging his hat? Last tip we received was that he bugged out of Vegas and went on the lam. He’s been underground for six years now. Maybe Frannie and her no-good live-in have relaxed their guard and we can get under it.”

“Marshall?” called Mary loudly across the office. He braced for her next words because she had that tone. “You want to just you-n-me run off to Sin City and get into trouble?”

“Do we need Sin City in order to get into trouble?” he mused to some imaginary point about five feet above his desk. “I don’t remember anything about gambling, street shows, and lots of lights as being a requirement to get into trouble with you?” He leaned forward so abruptly that the computer chair squeaked. “Can we search for trouble in the Luxor, because I want to see the pyramid and take a ride in one of their inclinator elevators?”

“Listen to him,” said Mary to everyone listening amusedly. “All ‘Honey can we go here, honey will you take me there’ already. Isn’t he just the sweetest little ol’ thang?”

“How come I’m always ‘old’ when I’m younger than you?” he complained.

Marshall slept on the flight, but Mary did not. She pored through the file on the people they were going to try and scam. They wore casual clothes and headed to Old Vegas. Mary had big sunglasses. Marshall had a big hat. Their badges were shoved in a pocket and the sub-compact pistols were hidden. Marshall had a camera that looked like it could fart out pictures all by itself and he insanely snapped photos everywhere they went. Mary knew it didn’t have any film in it.

They bought greasy hot dogs, spilled a bit of beer on their shirts, craned their necks at the World Series of Poker players, bought two bags of cheap souvenirs … and took an unmarked car wandering through the suburbs and parked on a side street. The giddy playing and tomfoolery beneath the gaudy lights of town vanished.

“Sleep,” he said. “You didn’t sleep on the flight.”

She kicked the car seat to its fully reclined position. “Forty-five minutes.”

Marshall changed his shoes and socks and studied the map while monitoring Frannie’s house. He noticed people walking by on the street and whom they spoke with. Scribbled the plates of cars parking or stopping even briefly. Anytime someone emerged from a house, he studied them and jotted a few notes. By the time forty-five minutes had passed, he had two Steno pages full.

He let her sleep an extra ten before placing his right hand open on her thigh. She woke without moving, blinked at the ceiling of the car an instant.


“You can sit up.” She watched the house while he read back to her every bit of information he had collected. Then he added, “I don’t think Carl is here. I think he burned his bridges when the cops found those three bodies and traced it to the auto shop where he worked. They got close and he ran. I don’t think he’s dumb enough to come back here to play again.”

“That’s what Detective Bitzer thought as well. Carl isn’t like Petie Thompson, who couldn’t chance cities until he’d finished what he’d started.”

“He was an evil son-of-a-bitch, wasn’t he,” said Marshall lowly. He never took his eyes off the house.

“Yeah.” She didn’t need to turn her head to look at him. That case and its particulars had bothered both of them for weeks. “Carl is an evil man, too.”

“Got a plan?” he asked.

“Is KT home?”

“Saw him twice. He visited a few cars that stopped for a moment. Green shirt with an ugly collar.

She rolled her head on the headrest to eye him, unbuttoned her blouse another button, and adjusted her breasts for better cleavage. “I think I need to score some grade A weed.”

“Where do you want me?” He was watching the button she just unfastened, then seemed to catch himself and looked away.

She quirked just the ghost of a smile. “Not where you’re thinking just then.”

“Sorry.” He shook his head, but she wasn’t sure if it was for her benefit or his. “You’re such a first-rate tease that even I get caught in it.”

“Da-amn, I’m good.” Smug. “You come and talk me out of it. Let’s see how badly he wants to sell.”

“Bad boy, Bobbie Brown dance?”

“Mind reader.” She fluttered her eyes coyly at him. “Make it look good.”

They both got out of the car. Marshall had a shirttail untucked and a half-empty amber bottle shoved in a pocket. He left the hat behind and let his gait get a little choppy. Mary bounced off his hip a few times, arm in arm, taking up the sidewalk with overly loud voices about the party for Danny’s twenty-first birthday and if anyone deserved to have a whore dance for him, it was that loony guy. Then they were hanging off of KT’s chain link fence and Marshall upended the bottle for a drink just as a man in a green shirt emerged from the house to see who was making all the racket.

“Yo, the man,” she shouted gaily. “Got any pot we can buy?”

“Shush, Daisy,” said Marshall. He held onto the post to keep upright. “You’re as bad as a damn squirrel chattering. You can’t go yelling for pot on the street!”

“He’s right, Missy,” agreed KT, getting a bit grey compared to his file photos, “you got to be cool in my side of town to get what you want.”

“What I want is more of a good time!” She pealed out a laugh that headed for the corner houses. “Got anything like that?”

“I might.” He looked positively fascinated by her blouse. She leaned on the fence a little harder. The final three buttons strained. “How much green do you have?”

“Baby?” she said to Marshall, “what’ve you got in your wallet?”

“I ain’t paying no stranger for goods we can get at home, girl. You crazy?” Marshall pointed with the neck of the bottle at KT, making the liquid swirl in circles. “How do you know his leaf is not mixed?”

“I don’t mix anything with my weed—it’s the straight dope,” protested KT.

“That’s what the last one said,” slurred Marshall. He gestured more emphatically. “Had to toke the entire damn bundle to get off the ground—he’d mixed half of it with herbs!” He tugged at Mary, swung her successfully off the fence and into his arms. She leaned on him heavily and he held her up, looked deliberately down her shirt. “Let’s take your bunnies home and put them to bed with some nice weed that I’ve got stashed. You’ll be partying high.”

“Wait, wait,” stalled KT. “I can help your party and you can keep your stash for another day.” He pulled open the gate and gestured them inside the yard. “Here,” fishing in a knapsack over his shoulder, “just try a bit of this and tell me if this isn’t straight up. I only sell good stuff here.”

Marshall took a pinch of the green material, smelled it, touched a taste to his tongue. He looked at KT with more interest.

“Mr. Green here just might have the goods after all. Imagine that,” said Marshall. “I think I have thirty or forty bucks.”

“I’ll take forty for two baggies.”

Marshall handed him the cash, fumbling with the bottle in the same hand, dropped one baggie in the transfer and had to bend to retrieve it. He stumbled a bit and ended up two steps away from Mary, but closer to KT.

“I think we’re done, Daisy,” he said. “Good man to come to.”

“Everyone knows to come to KT when they have a need,” KT proudly boasted.

“I’ve a need all right.” Mary’s voice cleared, her stance righted itself right about the time her badge flashed streetlight silver in her hand. “I’ve a real need to bust your balls right now.”

“What?” demanded KT, alarmed.

“Hands,” demanded Marshall. He had his pistol pressed against KT’s ribcage. “Give her your hands right now.”

“You can’t do this! This is my own front yard! Its only two ounces, anyway—it’s a warning and a fine!”

“Two ounces and probable cause for a search,” she said, snapping the cuffs closed. She took the backpack and unzipped it while Marshall held him with an arm lock to keep him on tiptoes. “Let’s see. Change. Bills. More baggies with intent to sell—looks like heroin. A little X. Dab of coke. You into Meth these days, KT, because that’s the new shiny, you know.”

“No, man, how’d that get in there? I didn’t put any of those things in there! This is my daughter’s back pack!”

“A gun?” She was particularly astonished and looked up sharply.

“Baby girl is packing heat?” said Marshall, jerking him higher on his toes. “She’s going downtown and so are you!”

“What? No! There’s no gun—I never put any gun in there!”

“You put this gun in here along with all the drugs!” accused Mary, hotly.

“I did not—there’s no gun!” He was violently protesting, but couldn’t look in the backpack because of how Marshall held him.

“So you only put drugs in there, but no gun?” demanded Marshall sharply.

“That’s right—only drugs! There’s no gun! I never put no gun in there!”

“See? That wasn’t so hard to admit once you get going. It is your backpack of drugs and you loaded it for tonight’s buyers coming through.” Mary waggled a finger at him. “You are a bad man, KT, and we just love bad men.”

“You TRICKED me!” he protested angrily, resisting Marshall’s arm lock.

“Fast feet,” said Marshall, shifting his leverage to hold their suspect. Mary untangled leg restraints from around her waist where they had been mimicking a belt and snapped them on. Marshall gave him a little jerk that nearly downed him in the shackles. “Let’s go see the missus, now that you’re wearing all that silver for her.”

Frannie was watching television on the couch with a plate of bad Chinese food. She stared, then swore when she saw KT in handcuffs and leg irons, and got on her feet. Marshall put her back on the couch with one hand and a warning look. She was staring rather fixedly at the Glock in his left hand.

“Frannie, we have a proposition for you,” said Mary conversationally. “Lover boy here has enough magic powder on his person to take a vacation at the Big House, leaving you with the mortgage, the brats, the bills, and anyone else looking for their next fix that you can’t provide all of a sudden. You know how these junkies get when they’re crashing,” she lowered her voice conspiratorially. “I hope you’ve got insurance, because they’re just as liable to torch the place as kiss your hands when you score them the last baggie. But,” she said dramatically, “I would be willing to let go of KT if you tell us where Carl is putting his head these days.”

Frannie stared sullenly at her and did not speak.

“Which is worth more,” said Marshall, inspecting the cluttered, but clean, environment. “The man who is here, or the boy who hasn’t spoken to you for six years? Is he even alive?”

“Course he’s alive,” Frannie snapped. “Carl is strong, just like his poppa. He would have made it on the streets just like KT and me did.”

“You mean he wouldn’t have minded the men bare-backing quite as much as KT?” baited Mary. “KT hated that part of surviving, but Carl … I’ve heard things about your darling boy, Carl.”

She’d read the file. She knew what these two thought of gays and was counting on it.

KT roared, furious, sputtering profanities, but it was Frannie that both Marshals watched. She flashed pale, then red.

“Don’t you be dragging us into Carl’s mess,” she warned. “We ain’t nothing like him. We raised him right, but … we ain’t got nothing in common with him.”

“So where is junior?” asked Marshall.

“Don’t know.”

“You have some idea of where he’s putting it down for the men, so where is it?”

“We don’t care about none of that business.”

“You’ll care when he comes back to visit in another four years and he’s got the AIDS virus hitching a ride with him. He’ll bring it right back here to the nest and you won’t even know,” said Mary.

“Think you can handle four of your kids covered with blotches and too weak to stand? You like hospitals and the way they treat folks like you?” added Marshall. “They’ll know what kind of thing you raised. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just tell you there isn’t anything that can be done and send him home.” He looked at Mary. “How long would it take a few comments on the street about a homo living here while he’s dying to bug off all the business?”

“I don’t know, but I have a big mouth and everyone loves to see a train wreck….”

“Tell ‘em, Frannie,” said KT.

“No, he’s my boy,” she protested.

“And if he’s sick and comes back here, he’ll get all of us sick.” He jerked a chin at her. “You know he’s gone wrong—tell them.”

She told them. Angrily. And threw the plate of bad Chinese food at Mary when she did.

Marshall made a phone call. Mary went through the house and found one teenager hooked into a headphone set, playing a video game. She left him there. By the time she got back, the red lights were swirling brilliantly through the windows.

“Come along, Frannie. We’re going to take a little ride.”

“You said you’d let us go?” loudly protested KT. “You said if we told you about Carl, you’d let me go!”

“I have let you go.” She smiled, waving both hands at him. “It’s Marshall that’s holding you.”

“What about me? I ain’t done nothing!” demanded Frannie. She was backed against the wall by a cabinet. “You can take KT, but I got a kid to care for.”

“I smell like Chinese food because of you,” said Mary cheerfully. “That’s assault of a Federal Officer. Your kid? He doesn’t even know your asses are being hauled out of here—that’s how good you’re caring for him.”

The local Precinct took the Stanleys into custody with enough drug evidence to hold both of them.

“No phone calls,” said Marshall to the Lieutenant in charge. “They’ll whine, but ignore the request for 72 hours. They can’t be allowed to alert their boy Carl.”

“Wheels up,” she said outside. “We’re going to Colorado.”

They were shoehorned into already full flights by the Air Marshals and flew separately. Marshall visited with his neighbors on his flight. Mary put in earphones and ignored passengers on hers. She contemplated the conversation with Denver’s Fugitive team and the file on Carl. Her flight was on time, Marshall’s was delayed by a thunderstorm and he finally was ushered off the plane after two priority calls to the airplane.

“Ni-ice,” said Mary when she saw him. “Escorted off like a criminal?”

“King,” he replied, “though I’d settle for Prince. I’m starving—they didn’t even feed us on board.”

“We can grab you something en route to location,” said Haley, part of the Special Operations Group (SOG). “Anything you prefer?”

“He’s not fussy,” said Mary. “He’ll eat just about anything.”

“You know, I can speak for myself?” He looked at Haley, bemused more than angry. “I’m not fussy. I’ll eat just about anything … but get a lot of it.”

There were six members of the Fugitive Team present in the conference room. All the information was tabled quickly, discussed just as quickly, and the group moved to the action plan.

“Two locations where he might be. We looked up the name of the two people you got out of KT and Frannie, their primary residences and places of employment. If we can get a hold of them, one might lead us to Carl. I think our best plan is to break into teams and hit all four locations at the same time for a solid lead. Sniff around, shake a few hands and see if anything pops. Phone in what you have, even if it’s a bust. We’ll re-route and rendezvous where our strongest lead is.”

“Low profile or high?” asked Mary.

“Colorado Special Ops usually does a high profile, but in Carl’s case, I think we’d better stay low until we actually have him in sight. This will be the third time he’s been targeted and we don’t want him to slip away again.”

“Four boys dead to his name? No, he doesn’t get to walk this time,” said another at the table. “We really want this guy.”

“Who’s our lead dog?” said Marshall.

“Captain Duffy will run it. Report in to him.” Haley passed out street maps and target locations. “You and your partner staying together?”

“We usually do,” replied Mary, studying the map and the photo of the house. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been in Denver, but I think I can still dance.”

“I’m just here to ski,” interjected Marshall, humorously. “Tell me when it’s over—is that an alley or a developed street?” He skated a hand across a narrow lane on the map and Haley leaned over to look as well. “Looks like an alley. That ought to be fun.”

Marshall drove, because he had patience in unfamiliar streets. Mary swore at traffic and looked in the side mirror and read the map to him. It took forty-two minutes to get across town to the apartment they had drawn as assignment. They spent another ten minutes cruising the block to get the lay of the land, then fifteen to park. Mary was about to boil over. Marshall rechecked his weapons and laid a hand on her arm.

“Deep breath,” he said. “We’ve got all the time in the world. Its just Carl that doesn’t.”

“I know. Don’t rush it.” She flashed him a smile, then was serious again. “Let’s knock on a door.”

The man who answered was evasive until Mary flashed a badge and Marshall leaned his hand against the door to force it wide enough for him to see that there were two of them.

“We’re looking for Carl Stanley,” she said firmly. She showed him the subject’s photo in black and white. “This is the name we were given—do you know where he is?”

Denial. Denial. Always denial.

The apartment was average sized and a tad on the filthy side … but nothing led them to think their target had been residing here. There were no photos of him. No shoes that would fit a man his size. The resident, a simpering twenty-something name Russ, maintained his story; he hadn’t seen Carl for nearly a year. They’d lost touch. He had no idea where he was.

“Lost touch,” said Marshall, leaning in the doorway of the apartment. “What was Carl driving last time you saw him?”

“A black truck. Nisson? Had a pissy little engine that smoked.” Russ looked dubious. “That was a year ago. Probably died on the road.”

They reconnoitered on the street, disappointed. Marshall checked in with Captain Duffy and relayed the information about the Nisson.

“Black Nisson?” said the phone. “We’ve got one parked at the 84a house. Head out our direction while I check the rest of the team.”

They converged within the hour. The house on MacLean Street was part of a duplex and so were the houses along the rest of the street. A garage was attached, with a torn apart black Nisson in the throat of the bay. Old oil on the cement. Full leafy trees out in front, obscuring the upper windows.

“Slow pitch this,” ordered Duffy. “Marshals, take the back alley and side door. Murray, you and Patty head down the block to the end and get eyes on this row. These Duplexes open one to another for fire safety—if he bails from one house to the adjacent, we’ve got to have enough eyes to spot him.” He pulled his badge from hiding, pulled on the black bulletproof vest that clearly stated ‘Law Enforcement.’ Everyone else did likewise. “Watch the windows. It’s not too high to jump and the trees might entice him into thinking it’s an easy way down.”

There was trouble at the door. Reluctance to open it and then force applied to the equation. Mary shifted position to keep an eye on the front stairs in case the conflict boiled over and they needed more help. There was a dog barking, then a second joined it. Raised voices. Radio blaring.

Suddenly, she heard Marshall shout behind her, from her previous station—she sprinted back the way she had come just in time to see something large fall from a second story balcony. There was gunfire in the narrow alley. The whine and spang of ricochet off bricks—and Marshall jerked and dropped from view.

She skidded behind a garbage container for cover and peered out, pistol at ready. There was no clear line of sight; she dared not snap off a shot. She could hear Haley’s stentorian shout from inside, heard a dog wail and abruptly fall silent.

“Stand down, Carl!” shouted Captain Duffy from overhead. “You’ve got nowhere to run!”

There! Beside the tree trunk.

“U.S. Marshal!” ordered Mary, stepping clear of cover. “Get your hands up right now—do it now!”

“Hands! Let me see those hands right now, Carl, or you’re going down the hard way!” commanded Duffy, overhead. He was half over the railing, pistol steadied for the kill shot. “Right now, HANDS!”

Patty was a first class sprinter, because she came down the alley from the other direction with Murray on her heels and then there were four weapons on the man with the torn collar T-shirt and he wisely froze in place.

“You got him?” shouted Mary, sidling continuously closer, angling towards Marshall’s last position. “My partner’s down.”

“One minute,” answered Murray. She could see the takedown and then Murray had his cuffs out with Patty containing one arm. Haley trotted around the corner of the house to lend an assist and it was a mass of bodies for an instant … then, “Go! He’s good, he’s down. Relax—everybody relax.”

“Marshall? Damn!” Mary sprinted to get to him and called over her shoulder, “We need a bus! Marshall?”

“I’m right here.” His left cheek ran with blood and he blinked at her alarmed face. “What? I’m fine. Cancel the bus.”

“You’re bleeding,” she observed, hand on the alley wall to steady herself. She counted five rivulets snaking down his cheekbone.

“I am?” He was genuinely surprised and touched his hand to his check. “The ricochet must have shattered the brick. Some of it got me.” He looked even more perplexed. “I don’t feel a thing.”

“Adrenalin,” she reminded him. “Ten minutes and you’ll be whining for Tylenols.” She shouted over her shoulder, “We have a First Aid kit in a vehicle?”

“Standard equipment, but good luck finding band aids,” shouted Duffy. “Everybody over there okay?”

“Yeah, we’re good.” Mary was still studying Marshall’s face. The brilliance of the crimson blood trail. The way it twisted almost capriciously, wending it’s way down his cheek. She put her hand on his skin, pressed firmly. “It doesn’t hurt?”

“Now that you’re pushing on it, it does,” he muttered. “Just let go—it’ll quit as it clots.”

“It will clot faster with some direct pressure.”

“If it was that bad, you’d be insisting on a bus,” he reminded her. “So let go.”

She let go. There was the usual backslapping and shoulder bumping that always happened amongst teams who work in delicate and dangerous situations and resolve them in their favor. They accompanied the team back to headquarters, filled out paperwork—including the Form USM-199 check in for weapons. They gave statements as required in every incident of gunfire involving officers. Marshall cleaned up his face in the office bathroom, revealing six small abrasions on his upper cheek—two of them nearly atop one another.

Dinnertime, but neither was hungry. They checked into the hotel rooms provided for them by Denver PD. Mary threw her bag on the bed and had her foot in the door of Marshall’s room before it closed and latched.

“What?” he said. “Did I forget something?”

“Just me. I’ll hang a bit until you’re showered and settled.”

Marshall did not object. Mary Shannon never fussed over anything. Thus, when she fussed, it was important. He showered, discovered fresh blood on the towel when he stepped out. His cheek was bleeding again, though he had been gentle. Mary was not amused and sat him on the bed beneath the shabby light and pulled a side chair around to face him. She had a 2x2 Telfa she’d swiped out of the First Aid kit.

“I told you the shower would open one of these up again,” she chastised.

“I needed a shower.”

“Going on a date?” She eyed him entirely too seriously for her words. He couldn’t see out of his left eye because of the Telfa pad. “You’ll need a story to explain this road rash on your face.”

“Clumsy. Fell down.”

Silence. Tension in the room. He recognized it after a few moments.

“Carl’s off the street. We danced just right in Vegas to get the Intel, got SOG to the right place, took him without much damage—what are you thinking about now that’s tightening your gearbox?” he inquired.

“I’ve got to stop.” Her voice was low, whispered. Almost talking to herself. “I have to stop doing these assignments.”

He chuckled, just once. It was enough to dislodge her hand and disturb the injury site. One drop welled but did not fall. She was eying in critically, Telfa in hand.

“You’re an adrenalin junkie,” he reminded her. “You’d go schizoid without have a fire to race to now and then. Why would you want to stop these little side shows?”

She looked in his eyes. “Because I can’t lose you, that’s why.” She put the bloodied 2x2 gingerly on the table in case she needed it again. Marshall did not watch how carefully she did it—he was watching her face, her eyes. “I have to stop because you always follow me. You come because I come.”

He never moved, did not blink. “You’re my partner and I don’t mind the heat. I’ve been trained for this the same as you.”

“You’re no adrenalin junkie.” She flicked a glance at the room, back to his face. Focused on that last drop of blood, solidifying in place. “I have to stop chasing these things for kicks, putting you in jeopardy.”

“I’ve been in crossfire’s before,” he reminded her softly. “I’ve taken a bullet before. It’s what we do.”

“These missions are my doing,” she said more strongly. Heatedly. “I’m the one that puts us in these kettles.” She looked at him. “I can’t lose you, Marshall, and one of these little sideshows for kicks is going to get you killed. I can’t live with that.”

“You can’t live without these skirmishes that keep you alive, either. Witness security is a lot of being alert, but not much action if you’ve done your prep right—and I always do our prep right.”

“Damn straight,” she said proudly. “We have a perfect security record.”

“You’re rattled because this went down a little sideways this time,” he said blandly. “I’m not hurt; they’re just scratches. They won’t even leave a scar.”

“Are you not listening to what I’m saying?” she returned. “If Carl had shot you dead in that alley—I couldn’t … I can’t play that card. I haven’t ever lost a partner—I … can’t lose you.”

“Because you love me.” He said it for her, because some things Mary could not say. Would not say. “You can’t lose me because you love me too much.”

“Asshole.” Because she didn’t tolerate anyone else saying it for her, either. She did not look away. “I have to stop.”

“You can’t,” he whispered. “Just like I can’t stop following. You’ll quit, you’ll be fine for about four months and then you’ll be shedding your skin wanting to be back in the heat, fighting fire. You can’t change.”

“Shut up, Marshall,” she said sternly. “I can do any fucking thing I have a mind to.”

“Except this,” and he touched her with a single finger, drew down the back of her nearest hand. “This, you can’t do.”

She leaned forward, kissed him squarely. He was startled enough to flinch, bumped his nose against her as she released him. His breath huffed when she did it the second time, but he kissed her back. She was careful to keep her hand off of his left cheek. He wasn’t careful of his hands finding first her waist, the edge of her jeans, hooking thumbs in her belt loops and pulling her close, half into his lap. One groan of suppressed wanting escaped like steam.

But rational thought caught up with him around kiss number eight. He dropped his head, leaned forehead to forehead with her. His heart rate had climbed, but hers was steady. As steady as her hands where they bunched around the edge of the robe.

Silence. Waiting. Mary could always play this game to the final second. He knew this from years of partnership.

“I’m tired,” he said.

“That hard-on nudging my crotch tell me you’re a liar,” she said dryly.

“He never gets to lead in any situation.”

She pressed him backwards on the bed. Untangled the knot in the bathrobe belt. He did nothing to halt her, just watched. Studying her face, the language written in her body, her eyes that spoke without a word. Leftover fear. Adrenalin withdrawal. Present irritation.

She halted just short of exposing him, leaned over his face. “Marshall,” she said.

“I can’t,” he whispered. She turned her head fractionally, gaze sharper, questioning without a word. “I can’t let you stop chasing wildfires. I can’t stay behind. I can’t promise I won’t get killed any more than you can promise me you won’t—why do you think I’m always along?” He gave her no time to answer. “I intend to be there if you take a bullet and die. I intend to carry you out. I’ll escort you home. I can’t lose you either, but if you stop chasing the fire, you’ll die just as surely as taking a bullet. Only slowly. Miserably.” A beat. “You can’t stop. I can’t stop. I can’t stop loving yo-”

She kissed him, effectively shutting him up. Her weight made him squirm, fingers jammed into her back pockets, pressing her pelvis down on him. She was languid, more in control, slopping her legs around his with ease of practice. Hands bunched in his hair, both sides of his face, controlling his head as much as he was controlling her pelvis. For a time, there was just this.

“Marshall,” she eventually whispered, kissed gently the new scabs forming on his left cheek. There was a noise in his breath that sounded like pain. “Marshall?”

“I’m in hell,” he said brokenly.

“Shhh.” Another kiss, a nip that meant business and focused him. “I won’t leave you there.”

She had to exert effort to get out of his hands, ignored the robe that had parted and left him exposed. She had seen Marshall naked before, that exchange of rifle fire near Cochiti Dam that left him with a bad cut on a hipbone. Blood loss had vetoed his embarrassment. She used his knife to cut the bloody jeans off, used one pant leg as a compression bandage. He passed out when they sat him up for transport, woke up in a helicopter at 5000 feet. There was an exhausted shower together once after twelve hours straight of prisoner transport through hot Arizona wilderness. He was sunburned; she had two patches of nettle stings. ‘I’m filthy’ was all she had to say. ‘Your breasts are beautiful’ was what Marshall said. They slept for eleven hours straight, curled like two puppies with the air conditioning blasting.

She stripped without fanfare, dug for a condom in her ‘go’ bag. Marshall was exactly as she’d left him when she turned. She studied his pensive look, took the hand he offered as she laid back down, was only mildly surprised that he drew her fingers to his erection. She encircled him, watched his neck arch and his expression shift to pleasure.

“This,” he stuttered, grip tight around hers, “I can… if you…just…”

“Ri-ight,” she said dryly. “I think your wires have melted together if you think I’m just going to jerk you off.”

“I can’t do this with you,” he protested, though his body and his grip on her negated every word. “I can’t be this to you—”

She paused. He was trembling so hard she thought she could hear his bones rattling.

“You called me ‘Daisy’ when we played KT Stanley,” she said. “You called my breasts ‘bunnies’ and wanted to take them home with you. Did you think I forgot all of that? Think I missed that tone of voice?” She studied his eyes, the muscles bunched in his jaw. “You want me. Want this.”

“I want more than you can give,” he whispered. “And I won’t settle for less.”

She considered the statement; thumb circling just beneath the head of his penis. Enough to keep him hung up, tense and poised, but not enough to get him off. His breaths were shallow.

“What do you want?” she asked. “What is it exactly that you want from me?”

“For you to tell the truth. To live the truth.” He was speaking in a rush, pressured. “You love me—you’ve loved me for a long time. I’m the only man who accepts that you chase wildfires for kicks and like to beat on the pots in Hell’s kitchen. I can accept that you put your life in harm’s way routinely. I love you, understand you, can match you. I won’t ever ask you to stop. I may not be the prettiest crayon in the pack, but I’m perfect for you.”

“I keep seeing you drop in the alley, because I wasn’t at my post. I was too fucking busy trying to get to where the action was,” she whispered, abruptly no longer present with him. Confronting other infernos. “I was hunting fire instead of being your second.”

“You love me,” he said. “That’s why this haunts you. Why my death terrifies you.”

“Is that why? Is that the only reason why?” Bewildered. Panicky. Blinded, somehow unable to breathe. “Is it that simple?”

“It’s that simple.” He spoke directly into her face. “It’s just love, Mary. That’s all.”

She looked at him, lost, eyes dilated. “God, Marshall—what do I do? Tell me what to do here?”

Only Mary Shannon would view love as something more fearful than a cornered and armed suspect. He was unsurprised. Loving Mary was a terrifying thing back in the beginning. Now the terror was something familiar. He wouldn’t be himself without it. He extricated a hand, touched her shoulder, then neck, curled his fingers into the golden hair.

“Just love me, Mer,” he whispered. “I’m easy to love. Easy to keep happy. Don’t you understand?” He searched her eyes. “You’re the fire that I chase.”


She kissed him deeply, fully aware, entirely present. He felt the comprehension take hold and opened his mouth to hers, drowning. There was a vow in her breath, a pledge spoken without words. He heard it clearly and let the promise fall into his soul like a thrown stone. She felt him shift beside her, searching, trying to penetrate while she kissed him.

“Please…” he whispered, “Please…please…”

“Yes. Shhh, yes.” She pinched the tip of the glans firmly, felt discomfort jerk through his body, his ardor cool. She’d never fumbled with condom wrappers before, but couldn’t afford time to investigate why this one was giving her troubles. “Be still,” she commanded, rolling it on expertly.

He turned her with a single jerk, dropped his face to her breasts. She arched her back, hissed a breath—there was aggression in his ministration: the fast kiss, then the deep suckling. Hunger. Desperation. Need. His hands hurt, gripping fiercely. She pushed at his shoulders. He went obediently, nuzzled through her pubic hair to lick her. She jerked, spread wide for him, passion shifting to lust nearly in the same breath. His cheek was bleeding again, smearing blood inside her right thigh, pain speaking a single word in the noise of his skull.

Her climax was swift, like wind-driven fire, crimson at the edges of her vision. She was sure that he was asphyxiated, caught in the scissor of her knees, but then he rose over her and for the next thirty-eight years, Mary never forgot that look. She saw it off and on in moments of surprising passion. Lightning strikes. Infernos in her bed. Fire that consumed, devoured, and she, the offering. The cauldron sitting amongst glowing coals.

He was intense and direct, driven by the overwhelming need to possess her, and she did not argue. He did not lie down, but sat back on his heels to penetrate. His hands controlled her pelvis as he thrust wildly. There was blood on his cheek, smeared down the side of his neck. He was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen when he threw his head back, circled and stabbed the last six times.

She held him, sweating and limp, when it was over. Tension and stress cooled and drained out of her. He was loath to let her go. She did not go far, just far enough to toss the condom and slip on panties. He did not object, buried his face into her bare breasts, kissed each nipple as if in welcome. She fell asleep with his mouth on her soothingly, woke at one with his fingers in her panties, rubbing her back into arousal. There was no fumbling with the second condom and he was less out of control, took his time, and burned all her houses down in a row. He kissed her during his climax, screaming into her open mouth. She thought she would break his spine with how she had him folded up in her grip.

Years later, they would not remember Carl’s full name, nor what Frannie was eating, nor what the letters ‘KT’ stood for. But Marshall always remembered the moment she chose love and felt her incendiary touch the first time. And Mary never forgot discovering the passion that could consume her whole and entire and yet leave her fully alive.


This story was prompted by a quote from Fred Weller in an interview:

Q: What did you learn about WITSEC that surprised you? Did you go in with any biases of what you thought it was?

Frederick Weller: […] Also, the extent to which the US Marshals in the WITSEC program are very - well, physically dangerous. They're supposedly the best in the world at kicking down doors and are frequently borrowed by the other branches of the US Marshal Service just for that purpose, just for kind of, you know, SWAT type situations. Full article

I have the sneaky suspicion that the Muses will come back to this one to explore/relate the story about that rifle fire near Cochiti Dam mentioned up there and the shower after 12 hours of prisoner transport. I swear they fling those tidbits in there just to niggle my elbow until I demand the story out of them!


I’m ba-a-ack! Didjuh miss me?

Were you gone?

*sticks out tongue*

I was going to read your fic, but I'm too pissed just now to really enjoy it, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I should be feeling better by then, one would hope... *sighs*
Were you gone?

Lolz! Bad, you! No cookies!

I'm sorry you're pissed by all the upcoming spoilery gab ... Just remember that Raph is DOOMED IN THE END and you'll be fine. We knew he was doomed clear back in season one.
I really, really, really thank you for this fic. It has excellent timing.

(I have just read spoilers that made me wonder why I watch this show. I have been reminded.)

All the things I love about Mary/Marshall wrapped up in a beautiful package of prose, snark, romance, & more. :)

*sighs contently*

I will probably be rereading this one A LOT.
Yay! I'm glad the timing was good and that you liked this one as much as I do. ("Monster" did not please me so much. It wasn't bad, just ... didn't behave like I thought it should and had too many implausible things happen.) This one, however, was tight enough to bounce a quarter off of, so I was extremely happy with it.

I did, in fact, miss you. Because while you were gone I read every story on your IPS fic site. I will sum up my comments for all of them and the above thusly: holy cow I think I love you. (possibly like an eight-dollar whore, except I don't really know what that means, haha)

Also the quote from Fred reminds me (for some reason) that I got this book at the library the other day and it sort of blew my mind that stuff like Tasha's brrreasts and witness's mistresses getting relocated with them are based in actual reality. I dunno, maybe everybody else already knew that but me! I did only come to this fandom pretty recently.

Also, man I love Fred Weller:
so in ways, it resembles the Spock/Kirk dynamic except if Spock were madly in love with Captain Kirk.
Well having spent far too much time at ontd_startrek, I am compelled to say WHAT YOU MEAN HE ISN'T? lol.
I've thought about checking that book out because this show has got me curious about the whole WITSEC program and the fact that there's so little info on it out there.

Also, man I love Fred Weller:
so in ways, it resembles the Spock/Kirk dynamic except if Spock were madly in love with Captain Kirk.
Well having spent far too much time at ontd_startrek, I am compelled to say WHAT YOU MEAN HE ISN'T? lol.

Yeah, when I read that interview I immediately thought, "Well, in certain corners of the internet, Spock IS madly in love with Kirk." ontd_startrek is a kick in the pants. I've found some truly hilarious stuff on that site.

I like this. I've been wanting something with a case and kicking down dorr and this was perfect.
Thank you! I appreciate you jotting a line to tell me.
Welcome back!

I really, really liked this one. And I'm still always amazed at the way you can come up with stories to frame the action. That's the one part I could never do.
I have no clue where the stories come from except to say that Mary and Marshall(Muse) come up with them. They start with just the concept of what's happening, I have to figure out names, they know the place, I have to look up the actual TOWN and STREETS (because Marshall drives me crazy if I don't have it right!)

From there, the story builds on itself, with me always telling them "It has to make sense and it has to be plausible!" (which is sometimes isn't. Very. And I go back and straighten and straighten and demand "IT HAS TO MAKE SENSE, DAMMIT" of them)

I'm glad you guys accept the format of taking them out of the office a bit. It's been ... fun to give them wheels.
Oh my god, I totally forgot to come back and read this!

*hangs head in shame*

*runs off to read*

Oh, I liked this! No surprise, I guess, since I pretty much love everything you put out, but still. Had to be said... :)

“You love me—you’ve loved me for a long time. I’m the only man who accepts that you chase wildfires for kicks and like to beat on the pots in Hell’s kitchen. I can accept that you put your life in harm’s way routinely. I love you, understand you, can match you. I won’t ever ask you to stop. I may not be the prettiest crayon in the pack, but I’m perfect for you.”

All I can say about this is... Thank you. It was just perfect, and actually reminded me of what Mary & Marshall could be.

*sighs contentedly*

I think you were a bit distracted with storylines and the like, but I'm glad you remembered. I'm not really the kind of person who stands and yells, "DID YOU READ *MY* STORY?" in these places. Either people do, or they don't.

I was very happy with this one.
I meant to comment on this earlier but I was reading it at work and it wasn't entirely work appropriate so I closed it as soon as I was finished. I do hope your muses come back to write about that rifle fire. I was watching the Envelope Screening Series interview on youtube tonight and they were talking about how tough the US Marshals are and how their technical advisor can't really tell them anything because it's such a secret. It reminds me of what you're saying here.

I love these lines:
“I’m in hell,” he said brokenly.

“Shhh.” Another kiss, a nip that meant business and focused him. “I won’t leave you there.”

And this one:
“Just love me, Mer,” he whispered. “I’m easy to love. Easy to keep happy. Don’t you understand?” He searched her eyes. “You’re the fire that I chase.”

And really I love them all. Happy Sigh
I have to confess, this one is one of my personal faves for the same reason as you quoted: Mary is the fire that Marshall chases. The fact that Mary is a wild-heart and Marshall follows her.

I'm glad you dropped me a line! I needed a few good words today!

This is an awesome story, and the characterization is stunning, especially Marshall's. He's a character that, I would imagine, be hard to write because he says a lot of stuff that sounds "mushy" if not done properly. Because Marshall isn't mushy at all, he's just charismatic and insightful. With the wrong writer, though, that line could be blurred. You handled his voice beautfully, especially these lines:

“Because you love me.” He said it for her, because some things Mary could not say. Would not say. “You can’t lose me because you love me too much.”

“Asshole.” Because she didn’t tolerate anyone else saying it for her, either. She did not look away. “I have to stop.”

“You can’t,” he whispered. “Just like I can’t stop following. You’ll quit, you’ll be fine for about four months and then you’ll be shedding your skin wanting to be back in the heat, fighting fire. You can’t change.”

Perfectly in character. Great job.
P.S. I'm gonna rec this now at het_reccers!
oh, that was great. i've always wanted mary and marshall to get together since i started watching the show and that was just perfect. just like i can imagine it happening. =)
Thanks! I'm glad this worked for you. I have a bevy of Mary and Marshall fiction linked at the top of my LJ.
“I intend to be there if you take a bullet and die. I intend to carry you out. I’ll escort you home.

How is this so ridiculously romantic?

Thanks for the link to that article. Now I'm off to read your other IPS fics.
I thought this was a romantic line, too ... one that Mary would *get*.

Happy reading and thanks for commenting.
Well done.

March 2015



Powered by LiveJournal.com