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Pie in the Sky, Part One



N. a fanciful notion; ludicrous concept; the illusory promise of a desired outcome that is unlikely to happen.



“Marshall still isn’t here?”


Brandi’s head snapped up from where she was bent over her latest homework assignment at her sister’s voice. She frowned as she took in Mary’s appearance – sweat pants and tank top, hair pulled up into a loose ponytail and face that was slightly flushed from exertion. She really hoped that Mary hadn’t overdone it by going for a power walk after her first day back at work.


“Peter just called. He said he and Raph should be here in a few minutes.”


Mary yanked the ear buds out of her ears and turned her iPod off. “Squish, I wasn’t asking about Raph! I was asking about Marshall – did he call?”


Brandi shook her head in confusion. “Why would he call the house? Didn’t you take your cell with you?”


Mary rolled her eyes as she slapped her iPod on the charger. She yanked her cell out of her pocket as she sat next to her sister at the dining room table and waved the device a few inches from Brandi’s face. “Have you ever known me to be without my phone? I’m just covering all the bases because I haven’t heard from him since he told me he was headed back to Albuquerque. That was hours ago.” Mary was biting her lip and furiously looking through her recent text messages, seeing if there was one she had missed.


Brandi was now even more concerned that Mary had done too much today. It had barely been two months since Mary had been shot in the stomach and had nearly died as a result. The three days her big sister had been unconscious after surgery and they had been waiting for her to open her eyes – hell, wondered if she would open her eyes had been the longest 72 hours of Brandi Shannon’s life. But Mary had clung to life with the tenacity she was known for – and now to see her sitting at their dining table, scrolling through text messages and swearing under her breath, Brandi couldn’t help but breathe a short prayer of thanksgiving.


Mary looked up from her phone to see Brandi looking at her but not really focusing on her – her little sister appeared lost in thought and her eyes were tearing up. Damn it! Everyone is still walking on eggshells around me since the shooting – I’ve got to figure out a way to make them stop before they all drive me MAD!  “Squish?” Mary said gently. “Where did you go? Are you OK?”


Brandi refocused with Mary’s words and blinked her eyes rapidly in an attempt to keep from crying. She knew tears made her sister uncomfortable – and she had cried too much in her presence over the past few weeks as it was. She did, however, reach out and grab Mary’s hand, squeezing it tightly.


“I’m just so glad you’re still here with us.” Her words made Mary squirm slightly in her chair and Brandi laughed lightly. “So how was your walk? Are you sure it wasn’t too much after your first day back at work?”


Mary blew out her breath in an exasperated sigh. “No Squish, it wasn’t too much. The doctor said I need to push my limits – how am I going to regain my full stamina otherwise?”

Brandi laughed again as she got up to get Mary some iced tea. “Yeah, that doctor had no idea what he was saying when he told you to push your limits! But you still have some restrictions, right?”


Mary took the glass from Brandi and took a nice long swig before replying. “Damn doctor! Yes, no heavy lifting, no driving, and no sex.”


Brandi’s eyes widened. “Oh, poor Chico.”


“What about me?” Mary demanded.


Brandi patted Mary’s hand in consolation. “Of course I feel your frustration too, Mary. Is that why you’ve been such a bear lately?”


“I am so not having this conversation with you, Squish.” Mary pulled herself to her feet and started walking towards the bathroom. “I’m going to take a shower and if Marshall’s not here when I get out I’m going to call him and rip him a new set of. . . .” her words were cut off as she slammed and locked the bathroom door.


“Marshall is coming over again?”


Brandi’s head snapped up for the second time in less than an hour as Raph’s irritated voice reached her ears from where he stood by the Shannon’s front door.




The hot water poured over Mary’s body, washing away the sweat that had accumulated during her ‘power walk’. God I had that term! It sounds like something little old ladies in matching hot pink or aqua track suits do in packs, not kick-ass US Marshalls! She sighed and adjusted the water stream so that it would work on some of the knots in her shoulders. She missed the days when she would go running with Marshall after work – hopefully her energy level and her muscles strong enough to let her get back to that routine soon.


She had missed Marshall’s presence in the office today – and she knew that it had killed him not to be there on her first official day back after the shooting, even if she was just riding the desk for awhile. The last time she had seen him was four nights ago when he had broken the news about the transfer.

“So I have some bad news.”


Mary tilted her head from her position on Marshall's shoulder so she could look him in the eye. They had just finished watching a marathon of NCIS. “Don’t tell me – you’re really gay and you have a secret crush on Tony.”


Marshall’s face broke into a smile. “No, Cowgirl – I won’t be there on Monday.”


It took her a minute to process his words and then a moment of panic set in. “You said you’d never leave.”


“Mer – no, I’m not leaving you. I could never do that.” He gathered her closer to his side, running his hand up and down her arm soothingly. After a few moments, he continued. “Sally Stevens has to be transferred.”


Mary pulled away from him. “Fuck! That asshole found her?”


“Not yet – but he’s close. He’s hired private detectives and they’re closing in. Stan and I both think that the danger is high enough that I need to get her out of Albuquerque.”


Mary nodded her agreement and settled onto the opposite end of the couch. “So tell me the game plan.”


Marshall shook his head. “Mer, it’s not your concern. Stan would have my ass in a sling if he knew I was still talking to you about cases when you’re supposed to be taking it easy. You’re coming back on light duty, remember?”


Mary snorted and shoved her foot into his upper thigh, barely missing a vital organ. She chortled when he shot her a dark look. “Spill it, numb nuts. We’re partners and Sally is still MY witness. Besides, you may come up with the plan but we always tweak it together.”


With a sigh, Marshall gave in and told her about Sally’s transfer to Salt Lake. Mary listened with eagerness and a strong stab of envy, realizing that he would have to make this transfer without her. She pointed out one or two areas that could use improvement or backup. Marshall grinned, nodded, and made notes on his laptop.


“So Cowgirl, is there anything you want me to bring you back from Utah?”


“Are you kidding me? With your twisted sense of humor, you’d probably bring me back a bag of salt!”


“Hey, I never thought of that!” Marshall mused, which earned him another kick in his thigh.


“Doofus!” But she said it softly, without any bite.


“You know, I’ll be passing right through Cedar City – want me to stop at Joe’s?”


Mary’s stomach rumbled in hunger and her mouth watered as she thought of the little mom and pop diner they had discovered in Utah while transferring witnesses to Salt Lake City. “Not fair! You get to have the world’s best banana cream pie without me!”


“I’ll bring you some back if you ask nicely.”


“Yeah, right! How in the world are you going to keep a cream pie from melting between Utah and New Mexico?”


“I’ll think of something – I know it’s your favorite.”


Mary uncurled from the end of the couch and stretched out beside him again, laying her head on his shoulder. “That’s mighty nice of you, cowboy. I do like that pie.”


“Hey, did you know that the first pies were actually invented by the ancient Egyptians and were called ‘coffins’ because the crusts were thick and inedible? That’s because the crust themselves were the actual baking dish and people only ate the inside filling. Pies that didn’t have top crusts were called ‘traps’ which is pretty funny because when you tell me to ‘shut my trap’-“


With a loud groan Mary sat up and grabbed a couch pillow and shoved it over Marshall’s face. “Are you fucking kidding me?! Pie trivia? Shut your fucking trap, Marshall!”


Marshall began to shake in laughter and pulled Mary to him in a hug. Soon both partners were shaking in uncontrollable mirth.


Mary’s memory of that night faded as she realized the water had run tepid and she knew she must have been in here for a while. Shutting off the water and stepping out of the shower, she began to dry herself off. Looking at her cell phone she had placed on the counter she saw that another thirty minutes had elapsed and still no word had arrived from Marshall.




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