Summary: This one-shot story is a companion piece to "For the Right Reason." Told from Martin's POV, it explores his state of mind during episode 4x18, "The Road Home." Specifically, it takes a look at his interactions with Sam and Danny. It begins midway through the scene in which Sam confronts Martin at his apartment.
Characters: Mainly Martin, with a hefty dose of Sam and a splash of Danny.
Disclaimer: Don't own them. Not making money off of them.
Author's Note: First, I must thank Rhiannon for her quick, insightful beta-reading services. She made some invaluable suggestions that helped improve and fine-tune this story. And, as always, thanks to Nancy, who's archiving my stories.
"Did you take these from her house?" Sam asks pointedly, holding the bottle of pills bearing Gina Hill's name.
I don't at all appreciate this interrogation. Today's been crappy enough as it is, from oversleeping to finding those kids in that ratty apartment to my little altercation with Ramsey, the junkie. I'm tired and cranky, and I just want Sam to leave me the hell alone.
"You know what?" I reply tersely, inclining my head toward the door. "It's time for you to go." I walk away.
"Did you take these from her house?"
Her refusal to drop the subject pisses me off. "Look, just back off," I seethe, turning around and pointing at her, "because this is none of your business!"
Sam's voice rises, matching mine. "It is my business if you're stealing drugs from victims' homes!"
"Damn it, just stop!" I yell, cutting my hand through the air.
"No! This is a problem!"
"What do you want from me?"
Sam pauses, eyes wide and starting to glisten. "I want you to let me help you," she says softly.
This time I don't yell, although I'm still on edge. I don't want to have this conversation with her, anymore than I wanted to have it with Danny a couple of weeks ago. "I don't want your help. I don't need anybody's help, okay?" I turn away, not wanting her to see how very brittle I am right now.
"Martin, please, just tell me how to help you."
She sounds so sincere, and when I look into her eyes, I see how desperately she wants to save me. It doesn't matter that we've hurt each other, or that our friendship is not what it once was. She's reaching out anyway, her compassion wrapping around my soul.
Something shifts inside of me, and my anger seeps away, leaving only exhaustion in its wake. I'm so damned tired. So very weary of all of the pretending. My eyes burn as I consider her request: "Just tell me how to help you."
God, I wish I knew.
"I don't know, Sam," I say softly, shaking my head. "I don't know." Taking a deep breath, I hold it for a moment before expelling it. "I didn't mean for this to happen."
She tilts her head to the side. "What exactly did happen, Martin?"
Sighing, I walk over to the couch and drop heavily onto it. staring at the cluttered coffee table whose surface is buried in three days' worth of debris.
"It started after I fell down the stairs on the Max Cassidy case," I begin, crossing my arms. "I messed my hip up again."
Sam joins me on the couch, still holding my pills, and I glance at her before fixing my gaze on a food-crusted plate. I think it'll be easier to do this if I'm not looking at her, searching her face for condemnation or pity.
"I went home that night, and my hip didn't look that bad. Just a bit bruised. So I took some ibuprofen and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning to get ready for work, it hurt so much I could hardly move." I rub my forehead and then cross my arms. "I still had refills left on the painkillers my doctor prescribed when I left the hospital, so I called the pharmacy, and ... I started taking the medication again. I figured I'd take it for a few days, until the pain let up, and then I'd stop." Frowning, I shake my head. "It didn't get better. The more I worked, the worse it got ... Pretty soon, one pill every four to six hours wasn't cutting it, and I started taking two at a time."
"Why didn't you call your doctor?"
I look at Sam, and see no judgment in her eyes. Just concern. "I was afraid that he'd want me to do physical therapy again, and recommend desk duty for a while."
"Would that have been so bad?"
Lifting an eyebrow, I cock my head to the side. "You tell me. You know what it's like to get shot up and work your ass off to get back on the streets."
Sam sighs and nods before frowning. "But still -- "
"Look, I thought I could handle it on my own, okay? I thought I just needed the pills for a little while." I take a deep breath and blow it out, surprised at how much I want her to believe my next words. "I tried to stop taking them, but I just ... I just couldn't. I never meant for things to go this far, though. I swear I didn't."
She reaches out and squeezes my forearm once before letting her hand drop back in her lap. "I wish you'd said something. If you'd come to me, or Danny -- " She breaks off as I shake my head emphatically. "Why not, Martin? Why couldn't you ... " She trails off, eyes widening, and then narrowing. Her jaw clenches. "You didn't come to us because of your damned pride. You didn't come to me, or Danny, or anyone else because you were too damned proud to admit that you were in trouble and needed help."
I shake my head. "It wasn't just about my pride, Sam."
"Then what else was it about?"
Sighing, I massage the back of neck for a moment. I can't remember my last decent night of sleep. "I was afraid I'd lose my job, all right? I need this job, Sam ... It's the only thing that makes me feel normal."
Her eyebrows arch. "Going to work makes you feel normal?"
"If you feel so normal, then why does your apartment look like this?" she asks hotly, gesturing at the colossal mess. "Why do you look like you haven't slept in days? Why did you hold a knife to a suspect's throat and threaten him? Or steal Gina Hill's pills?" She pauses, and her next words are quiet, but intense. "Why do you come to work, every day, and let your drug addiction put my life ... every one of your co-worker's lives ... every missing person's life ... in danger?" She shakes her head. "I think you need to redefine what 'normal' is, Martin. Because this isn't it."
Her words slam into me, a painful truth I can't deny. She's right ... there isn't a damned thing about my life that resembles normal. I need look no further than my "interrogation" of Ramsey for proof. I've gone off on suspects before, but this time was different. The rage I felt was more intense and out of control. If Sam hadn't intervened, I just might have let the knife slip ever so slightly, might have happily spilled blood in order to get the information we needed.
God ... what have I become?
My heart clenches, and whatever had shifted inside of me a few minutes ago fractures.
Sam shifts toward me on the couch, looking intently at me. "What do you want, Martin?"
The change in subject throws me. "What?"
"What do you want?" She holds the pills up. "Do you want to keep taking these?"
I look at the bottle and lick my lips, in part out of nervousness, and in part because I find myself craving a pill right now. It scares me, how much I want one. Swallowing hard, I force my gaze back to the woman before me. "Sam ... I don't know how not to want them."
She tosses the bottle on the table, and her eyes spark with determination. "You're stronger than those pills, Martin. You can beat them, if you want to. I know you can ... I believe in you."
She speaks with conviction, but nevertheless, self-loathing and doubt well up within me, threatening to suffocate me. I swallow hard. "I don't know if I believe in myself anymore."
Reaching out, Sam takes one of my hands, exerting a steady pressure. "I'll believe enough for both of us."
That thing inside me breaks apart, and I feel lost and found at the same time.
"Martin." Sam squeezes my hand. "What do you want?"
My reply is so soft it's nearly a whisper. "I want to get off these pills ... I want my life back."
The corners of her mouth curve up, but before she can speak, her cell phone rings. She sighs and mutters a curse before answering it.
"Spade ... Yeah ... Yeah, I'll be right there." Hanging up, she looks at me, expression apologetic. "I have to go. There's been a break in the case. But I'll call you later, all right?" She waits for me to nod. "We don't have to figure everything out tonight, but we'll at least figure out what to do next. Just hang in there for me, okay?"
"Yeah," I reply, wishing she didn't have to leave.
She leans over and pulls me into an embrace. Folding my arms around her, I close my eyes, feeling her strength and grateful for it. Grateful for her belief in me.
When she releases me, she squeezes my arm one last time before heading out the door. After turning the lock, I stand there for a moment before scrubbing a hand over my face and walking back into the living room. I'm about to sit on the couch when I spy the pills on the coffee table. I imagine opening the bottle, sliding some out and dry swallowing them. I know exactly how long it will take before the drugs spread through my system.
And then Sam's voice echoes in my head: "You're stronger than those pills, Martin."
I don't think I am, though. Not now, anyway. Too many nights of too little sleep have worn me down, and I know, without a doubt, that it's in my best interests to get the hell away from that bottle. Tearing my gaze away from the pills, I stride into the bedroom, shut the door hard and crawl into bed. Pulling the sheet up over my shoulders, I close my eyes, desperate for rest.
And trying not to count the minutes until Sam calls.
The phone rings, pulling me from an uneasy sleep. I groggily answer, expecting to hear Sam on the other end.
"Hey, it's Danny."
My heavy-lidded eyes widen a bit, and I sit up. Seconds tick by as I try to wrap my head around the fact that Danny's calling me. He's barely spoken to me the past couple of weeks.
His voice breaks the awkward silence. "There's a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in an hour at the Reckert Community Center. You know where that is?"
"Yeah," I reply, surprised that he's calling with this information. "Yeah, I do."
"I'll be there, Martin."
He hangs up, and after a moment I do, too. I sit there in the dark, rubbing my eyes and feeling fairly confused. How did Danny go from avoiding me to inviting me to an NA meeting?
And then I figure it out. Sam. It had to be Sam. She must have talked to him. That decided, I'm left with only one question: Am I really ready for this NA meeting? It's not that I don't want to get clean. It's just that I didn't expect things would move so quickly.
The phone rings again, and I wonder if Danny's changed his mind, but it's Sam this time. After apologizing for not being able to call sooner, she asks how I'm doing.
"Hanging in there, just like the doctor ordered," I reply, and hear her chuckle softly. "By the way, Danny just called."
There's a pause. "He did?"
It's my turn to chuckle. "Don't act so surprised, Sam. I know you must have said something to him tonight."
"I did, but I wasn't sure if it actually sank in."
"Well, it did. He invited me to an NA meeting."
"Oh," Sam says, surprise and hope coloring her voice. "Are you going?"
I remember her words earlier, that she believes in me. That she'll believe enough for both of us. "Yeah. Yeah I am."
"I'm glad, Martin."
Nodding, I smile slightly. "I should go. I don't want to be late."
After we hang up, I walk into the bathroom and splash cold water on my face. Eyeing my reflection, I frown. Still dressed in my suit, I look entirely too FBI. Turning around, I head for the closet.
The meeting's been going for almost 20 minutes when I show up. I meant to be on time, but it took longer than I expected to pick out just the right clothes.
Well, that's not exactly true. I chose the T-shirt, jeans and jacket pretty quickly. It was the hat that gave me trouble. I wanted to be as anonymous as possible tonight, and my well-worn collection of baseball caps felt entirely too "me" for my liking. Finally, I remembered the beanie hat tucked away on a shelf. It had been a gift from my cousin, Jamie, something I'd politely thanked her for and never worn. It's just not my style, which made it the perfect choice.
As I walk into the community center, my stomach feeling like it's full of live, wriggling things, I wonder if Danny's even here. Maybe he got tired of waiting for me, and took off. But after scanning the room I spot him. I nod, and he nods, and then he lifts a newspaper off the chair next to him. A subtle invitation, but one I don't immediately accept. My knees are locked, and my hands, tucked into my pockets, are sweaty. I have the unnerving sensation that the minute I sit down, every person here will see into my soul.
But I know I have to do this. I can't run away from it. It feels as inevitable as so many of the turning points in my life.
Swallowing hard and trying to ignore my jitters, I close my eyes briefly, take a deep breath, and sit down next to Danny. He doesn't look at me, just stares straight ahead with an expression I've seen before. He's thinking hard on something.
I nod at him, wanting to speak, but not having a clue what to say. There are too many thoughts racing through my head. How bad will the withdrawal be? How long until I stop craving the pills? How much time will I have to take off from work?
Hell, will I even have a job when all's said and done?
Danny glances at me and lifts his index finger, a small acknowledgment of my presence, or perhaps tacit approval of my decision to finally get help. Either way, it calms my nerves a bit, and I realize how glad I am that he's here. As much as I need Sam's belief in me, I also need Danny's support. He knows about addiction. What it does to a man. How to cope with it. How to find some sort of peace.
Getting clean might be the hardest thing I've ever done.
But at least I'm not alone.