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When the Hero Falls.
Mary did not say another word to Marshall; she simply sat by his side and held his hand. An hour had passed when a nurse entered and relayed a message that Marshall's family wanted to speak to her. She silently nodded and stood up before bending down and kissing Marshall's forehead.
"I'll be back soon…" She whispered. "And remember, 48 hours…that's all you need to hang on for then I'll do the rest."
When Mary reached the waiting room, she saw there were more people there than before.
"Mary, these are my two eldest sons, Michael and Anthony." Seth introduced and Mary studied them closely. She could see similarities between Marshall and the two of them. Marshall had once told her that he was close to his brothers but they did not always get on.
"This is my wife, Hannah." Anthony gestured to the woman next to him and then pointed to the remaining unnamed woman. "Lisa, Mike's wife."
"Mary Shannon." She said simply, slowly looking around the room, waiting to see who would pounce on her first.
"I need to head back to the office…" Stan told her. "I was wondering if I could sit with Marshall before I go."
She nodded. "Of course."
"Right, well I'll just…"
"Actually, Stan, can you hang around for a minute…There's something I want to discuss with you all." She stopped him and then looked over at Marshall's family. "Do you all know what the situation is?"
"The brain damage?" Mike looked down to the floor. "Yeah, Dad explained it all."
"They think that his brain could have been starved of too much oxygen during cardiac arrest…to suffer one is bad enough but to go through four…." She trailed off but then continued after taking a shaky breath. "If…if you all agree, then I will sign the forms about resuscitating him."
"What forms?" Anthony frowned.
"If he goes into another cardiac arrest then they don't….They um…they…" Mary stumbled over the words, not able to say them out loud.
"The doctor has already said that Marshall will have some kind of brain damage caused by lack of oxygen…" Seth explained. "He wouldn't want to live a vegetated life."
"So, we let him go?" Mike asked quietly.
"If his heart stops again in the next 48 hours then yes." Mary cut in. "But if he can hang on that long…If he will just get past that mark so they can do a brain scan…"
"What if they do a scan and discover there's nothing they can do?"
Mary shook her head. "If he can make it to the 48 hours then I know he'll be okay."
"Mary…" Stan stepped closer to her. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"No, it's the last thing I want to do but it's what Marshall would want." She claimed. "He would not want us to give up on him if there was no hope but he would not want us to hang on to him."
"Inspector, the nurse said you wanted to see me?" Doctor Nicholls appeared in the doorway.
"Yeah, there are some things I want to discuss with you about Marshall's future care." She said.
"Of course, why don't we go to my office?"
Mary looked back at the others, giving them the chance to speak up if there was anything they needed to say but everyone stayed silent. She wished that one of them would stop her but deep down she knew she was doing the right thing.
"Do you want me to come with you?" Stan asked.
"No, go and see Marshall." She told him. "I got this covered."
"If you're sure…"
"Yeah…" She nodded. "I'll be fine."
When Mary re-entered the waiting room 20 minutes later, she found Rachel sat alone with a magazine in her lap but she was staring ahead, deep in thought. Mary hesitated in the doorway, not wanting to disturb the older woman but wanting to know where everyone had gone.
"Did you get all the forms dealt with?" Rachel broke the silence and looked over at her.
"Uh, yeah…Hardest thing I've never had to do." Mary admitted.
Rachel gave her a small, sad smile. "I know it must seem….heartless of us to want to…."
Mary shifted, uncomfortably and looked down at her feet when she saw tears fill Rachel's eyes.
"To give up on him…" She managed to get out, her voice shaky. "But I don't want to see him suffer…I don't want him to be in pain and not be able to tell us….I do not want for him to be gone but for us not to knowledge it."
"Mrs. Mann, please believe I don't want any of that either but I don't think he is gone." Mary looked up at her.
"I'm glad he has you to fight for him." She said. "And I pray you're right."
"And until you're proven otherwise, you'll have my support."
"Thank you…That means a lot." Mary told her and surprised to find that she was relaxing a little bit more. "Where did everyone go, anyway?"
"Stan went back to the office after seeing Marshall; he wanted me to tell you, he'll see you later." Rachel answered. "Your sister and her boyfriend took the girls down to get some food and Seth and the boys are taking it in turns to sit with Marshall."
"Oh….You didn't want to see him?"
"I wanted to wait for you….To talk to you."
"Mary, please…" Rachel patted the seat next to her and Mary hesitated but sat down. "Did he really save his own life with a car part the last time he was shot?"
"It was the most amazing and weirdest thing I've ever seen."
"Can you tell me about it?" She asked and Mary raised her eyebrows in surprise at the request. "He doesn't tell me about anything he gets up to and I've hardly got to see him since he's moved to Albuquerque...I just….I miss my boy."
"We're talking about Marshall, right?" Mary stared at her. "The guy who can talk for an hour about the history of the penny?"
Rachel chuckled lightly. "He does talk to me a lot but he never really tells me anything….I know, a lot of that has to do with his job…I've been married to a US Marshal for 46 years, so I know not to ask too many questions but…."
"You miss your boy." Mary finished when she trailed off.
"The last time, we did not find out he hurt until the week after he was released from the hospital…He said it was nothing serious but from what you've said, I wondering if that's true or not."
"He wouldn't have wanted you to worry about him." Mary stated. "Besides, once he got to the hospital, he was fine."
"I just don't understand where the car parts come into it."
"Once we found shelter, he started to find it harder and harder to breath…before we left the car, he told me to get the tube that connects to windscreen wiper fluid….I had no idea what he wanted it for." She told her. "He had me put the tube in the bullet wound….and then placed the other end in a water bottle…something about allowing air out but not letting it back in….When we got to the hospital, the doctors said that's what saved his life and I had them explain it to me again but I still don't know how it worked…I still have no idea how Marshall knew what to do but then, I don't know how he knows half the stuff he does."
Rachel smiled slightly. "He never told you about considering a medical career, then?"
"Seriously? He wanted to be a doctor?" Mary asked in surprise. She could not think as Marshall doing any other job then an US Marshal.
Rachel nodded. "Up until he was about 9 years old and he reconsidered it when he was picking a college."
"Why did he change his mind?" Mary questioned.
"Seth always thought, he felt he needed to become a Marshal because his brothers did and because of the family history." Rachel sighed.
Mary looked at her closely. "You don't think that's the real reason?"
"My Father was a doctor… Marshal idolized him." Rachel smiled. "You should have seen them together…two peas in a pod...He was always asking Dad questions."
Mary couldn't help but smile a little. "So, what happened? Why isn't he Doctor Mann?"
"My Dad got sick…Cancer…there wasn't much they could do to help him back then…and he was an old man." Rachel told her. "I remember when he sat the boys down to tell them what was going on… Marshall had just turned eight but the other two were in their teens…they understood more…but Marshall… He was a smart boy…smarter than a lot of boys his age but he didn't seem to take it in…It was like he was in denial…that there was no way that his Grandpa could be sick….When he did die, it hit Marshall hard."
"So, he gave up on wanting to be a doctor?"
"Everyone seems to think so, Seth never really knew how to relate to Marshall and in a way he still doesn't but after Dad's death we were worried about him and Seth did the only thing he knew…he told him stories about being the Marshal Service and set him task to solve…Just spent some time with him." Rachel explained. "I don't think Marshall gave up on the idea of being a doctor, I just think he discovered something he would love more."
"He does love his job." Mary assured her. "And he is good at it."
"I don't know what I would do if I didn't have Marshall as a partner." She said quietly, thinking back over the last four years. They had been through so much and when a lot of people would have walked away from her, Marshall had stayed and fought beside her.
"Can I ask you something?" Rachel asked, after a few seconds of silence.
"Are you in love with my son?"
She smiled softly. "Are you in love with Marshall?"
"He's my best friend."
"I know that."
"My partner…I…We don't….we've never…" She stuttered a little.
Rachel laughed lightly. "I'm sorry; I never meant to put you in an awkward position."
"No, no it's fine…it's just…" Mary sighed and rubbed her tired. "It would be easier if I was in love with him…"
"I mean, I have no idea if it would stop us being partners but that aside…he's my best friend, he knows me better than anyone and I trust him more than I have ever trusted anyone before….he's also a good man, a kind man and anyone would be crazy not to want to spend the rest of their life with someone like him."
"But…" Rachel predicted.
"But I don't know…There's an attraction there for both of us…I know there is but we work together so closely that it would be hard not to develop some kind of feelings towards each other." She explained. "Neither of us have brought it up before…I guess, we're both a little scared of it changing our friendship….He means the world to me and I'd rather have him in my life as my best friend then not have him here at all."
Rachel reached over and squeezed her hand. "I wish I could tell you a secret way of knowing if he's the one for you or not but I guess the old saying is right…when you find the one, you just know….but you got to be willing to open your heart up to the possibility of it."
Mary stared down at their joined hands, silently. She wasn't the type of person to talk about her feelings with anyone but she felt comfortable around Rachel and she now knew where Marshall had learnt to be so comforting and understanding.
"Just do both of you a favor…when Marshall is feeling better, have a conversation with him." Rachel suggested. "You won't know for sure unless you talk about it and it would be such a waste if you threw away your chance of happiness just because you were scared….and if it's not meant to be…well, I think your friendship is strong enough to deal with that and move on."
"Right now, I don't want to think about any of that..." Mary whispered she refused to let herself fall in love with him until she knew he was going to be okay. "I just can't…"