BACK TO WORK by Angela Gabriel

Summary: This is a missing scene from episode 4x02, “Safe.” It takes place shortly after Martin and Vivian find Ryan’s plans to bomb the school.

Characters: Martin and Vivian.

Rating: PG-13. Genfic.

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Not making money off of them.

Author’s note: My thanks to Renegade for a quick and helpful beta.

“Yeah, OK. Bye.”

Martin hung up the phone and turned toward Vivian, who was seated at the conference table, one hand under her chin, looking pensively at the whiteboard. Or more specifically, at Ryan Wallace’s photo.

“Jack’s headed over to the school,” Martin said as he approached her. “They’ll evacuate and look for the bomb.”

Vivian said nothing, still staring at the picture. Martin’s brow furrowed and he cocked his head to the side.

“You OK, Viv?”

She sighed and shook her head, her features softening as she dragged her focus away from the photo to Martin.

“I remember the day Reggie was born,” she said. “The moment I saw him, I knew I’d do anything to protect my boy. I’m sure Ryan’s mother felt the same way. Probably still does. How’s she going to deal with this?”

Martin sighed, nodding his head. He didn’t have kids, so he couldn’t empathize with Vivian or Mrs. Wallace as parents. But he could sympathize with them, with their desire to keep their loved ones safe, to keep them away from the bad things in the world.

“Life doesn’t come with any guarantees,” Martin said. “You can’t always protect the ones you love.”

Vivian’s expression darkened. “I’m sure that’d be a comfort to Mrs. Wallace,” she said.

Martin pulled a chair away from the table and lowered himself into it, mindful as always of his still-healing injuries. He examined Vivian closely, noting the tense lines on her face and the rigid set of her shoulders. It wasn’t like her to snap at someone, and he knew Ryan Wallace wasn’t the only thing bothering her.

“Viv, what’s going on?”

Vivian settled back in her chair, and Martin wondered if she’d say everything was fine, and they should get back to work. He wouldn’t blame her if that was how she wanted to play this. He certainly understood wanting things to be OK even when they weren’t.

The corners of Vivian’s mouth turned up into a slight smile, and when she spoke, it was with that soft, slow cadence she often used. “Martin, you look like a man with a question. Might as well spit it out.”

He returned her smile and chuckled. She knew him pretty well. She had that mom instinct that helped her read between the lines. “I uh, I saw you talking with Jack earlier, and you seemed pretty pissed.”

Vivian smiled ruefully, looking away for a brief moment before speaking. “I’ve been back a week, Martin. I feel really good. Good enough to be out in the field. But Jack’s doing everything he can to keep me at my desk.”

So there it was. Vivian wanted her old life back. She wanted to come to work and investigate cases like nothing had happened. Except something had happened. She’d had major heart surgery, Martin had been shot and Danny was dealing with some serious emotional issues. It wasn’t surprising that Jack was treading carefully with Vivian right now, given his team’s physical and emotional states. Still, Martin understood that what Vivian needed now, more than anything, was for Jack to treat her as an equal. She didn’t want to be coddled.

Martin could identify with Vivian’s need for normalcy, although he certainly didn’t share her desire to get out in the field. Getting through his first day back at work was a daunting enough task. Coming in that morning had been more difficult than he’d anticipated. The closer that damn elevator got to their floor, the harder it had been to breathe. His legs had felt weak, his palms sweaty. But he’d forced himself to settle down, take a deep breath and step off the elevator.

As he’d slowly made his way to his desk, he’d received several polite “welcome back” greetings, but it was Vivian’s beautiful smile and warm hug that had set him at ease. She was happy to see him, not nervous or awkward or worried or guilt-ridden. Martin knew she wanted Jack to treat her in the same easygoing manner, but it wouldn’t happen quite yet.

“Viv, I know you’re frustrated,” Martin said, “but given everything that’s happened the last couple of months, I think it’s understandable for Jack to be overprotective where your health is concerned.”

Viv raised her eyebrows and smiled. “Mmm hmm,” she said, amused. “Well, when you’re the one Jack’s holding back, we’ll see how understanding you are.”

Martin chuckled as she stood up and moved toward her desk.

“Hey Viv,” he said, catching her attention. There was something he needed to say, and now was as good a time as any. He waited until she turned back around. “I, uh, I wanted to say thanks.”

He trailed off, trying to decide exactly how to put his thoughts into words. Vivian moved a bit closer to him, waiting for him to continue.

“These last few weeks,” Martin said quietly. “They’ve been pretty rough. For both of us. I know you had a lot going on with recovering from your heart surgery, but you still found time to keep in touch. It meant a lot to me.”

Vivian smiled. “Well, it was the least I could do after you sent that flower arrangement to my hospital room. Marcus is still trying to figure out how to top that one,” she said, chuckling.

Martin grinned and felt a slight blush work its way over his face. Yeah, maybe he’d overdone it a bit. He usually only sent something that extravagant to women he was dating. But Vivian was a good friend, and he’d known he couldn’t visit her anytime soon, since they were in separate hospitals. He’d figured a little splurging was in order.

“I wish I could have delivered those flowers in person,” Martin said, his smile fading as he remembered how miserable he’d felt the day he’d ordered Vivian’s get-well gift. His mind had been working at such a slow pace, the pain, drugs and medications making it hard to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.

Vivian squeezed his shoulder, bringing him back to the present, and he saw her concern. He tried to muster up a reassuring smile.

“Hey,” Vivian said, her hand still resting on his shoulder. “What I told you last week still stands, you know. You ever want to talk, I’m here.”

He nodded his head. “I appreciate it, Viv.”

And he did appreciate the offer, but he didn’t feel like baring his soul to her. He didn’t want to get into the nitty gritty details of the shooting, to discuss how he’d felt as he’d bled and bled and bled in the car and on the street. Or what it had been like waking up in that damn hospital. Or how, during his hospital stay, sometimes the pain had been so bad that he’d wondered if surviving had been such a good thing, after all.

He wasn’t ready to discuss those dark memories with anyone.

Vivian squeezed his shoulder one last time, went back to her desk and started flipping through some files. Martin watched her for a moment, and then looked up at Ryan Wallace’s photo on the white board. He couldn’t fix his or Vivian’s problems right now, but he could try to help fix Ryan’s.

It was time to get back to work.