Disclaimers: Nothing was gained from this fic, other than the pleasure
of spending time with Martin and Danny. Who could ask for more?
Comments: This is for my friend and co-conspirator, Rhian, who challenged
me to write a fic about Martin's scars. I threw in a reference to Mary Tyler
Moore for extra credit (she knows why). This is a gen fic, by the way (although
Manny fans might think otherwise).
It was a beautiful day; the kind of day when he used
to get up, throw on his sweats, and run forever. That was before, of course
. . . before his life went to hell in exactly two minutes and twenty-three
It didn't stop him at first. When Martin had first come home, just plain
walking was a chore. But gradually, excruciatingly slowly, he'd progressed
to brisk walking. And then one particularly awesome Saturday morning, he'd
He was never especially reasonable about things like that. It felt good so
it must be good for him, right? And when it started to feel not so good,
well, pain was gain, right? Wrong. By the time he made it back to his apartment,
he could hardly breathe. He spent the next 48 hours holding his stomach together
and guzzling green tea.
So maybe it was another grand morning in New York City. And maybe
the temperature was a perfect 68 degrees and the trees were putting on their
finest fall performance. He was not stupid and he would not make that mistake
again. No, indeed. He would sit this one out.
He pulled a pair of sweatpants out of his drawer, (they were comfortable,
after all--whether or not running was involved--and the drawstring made it
easier to hide the fact that he was still thinner than normal), and added
a Mets shirt to the ensemble--courtesy of Danny, of course--before heading
for the shower.
It was a 'thing' now--a defense mechanism, avoidance, denial, or some other
psychobabble term that he didn't care about--the way he carefully and
deliberately avoided looking in the mirror as he undressed. It didn't take
a genius or even a moderately bright shrink to explain it. He just didn't
want to see the reminders of what had happened.
He could avoid it, most of the time . . . the pain, no, but the memories,
yes. They were vague and dream-like; real life moments mixed in with hazy
nightmares, and he could pretty much pick and choose which ones he'd decide
to hang onto and which ones he'd file away in Viv's box. Most of the last
ten weeks, in fact, where safely tucked away in that box and soon enough,
he'd be able to throw away that particular key for good.
If it weren't for the scars, that is. If he never had to look at his body,
he could pretty much forget it ever happened. Eventually, he'd be able to
run again . . . eat fat, greasy burgers again . . . sleep the whole night
through without reaching for a pill again. He had to believe that. He
had to believe he'd be normal again, and he could believe that
just as long as he didn't look in the mirror.
The warm water felt good running down his back, and for a few brief seconds,
he forgot. But as he turned, the pressure of the spray hit the particularly
sensitive incision line on his stomach and he gasped. It wasn't painful exactly,
but uncomfortable--a feeling that didn't belong--and like always, he looked
down to be sure that he hadn't sprung a leak.
Ridiculous . . . he felt absolutely ridiculous. Everything was back together,
in its rightful place. The doctors had assured him that his arteries were
in one piece, his heart was pumping, his lung was inflated (and would stay
that way), and yes, his intestine was scarred and that could cause a problem
down the line, but for now it was all there. No more tubes draining blood
out of the wrong places, or replacing it to the right places. No more catheters
or IVs or staples . . . foreign objects that didn't belong in any body, let
alone his body.
Well and good, and no matter that his chest and stomach were marred and flawed
permanently. He was never an egomaniac about his body anyway. The women might
even find it sexy; poor Martin . . . brave FBI agent wounded in the line
of duty. Battle scars . . . what a turn-on.
He wondered what Sam would think. Would she look away like he did? Would
she cover them up and say, "Oh, Martin, let's not think about that today,"?
Or would she get upset? Would she maybe even shed a tear when she saw what
they'd done to him just to keep him alive? Maybe she would say, "It doesn't
matter, because all that matters is that you are here." That would be nice.
He'd like that.
But really, truly, in his dreams, she always touched every scar tenderly
. . . brushed them with featherlike kisses and said nothing at all. This,
of course, was completely ludicrous because she was still in love with Jack.
That dream was particularly dangerous; he was quite certain his fragile psyche
couldn't take that kind of mental abuse, so he used his best avoidance technique
and refused to think of Sam at all when he was home alone.
It was always easier getting dressed than undressed. There were no mirrors
in his bedroom, save the one on the back of the door that he only looked
in when he was trying to fix a tie, so it was fairly easy to slip on a shirt
without actually noticing his body at all.
He could smell the coffee brewing, and he was inordinately pleased with himself
that he'd remembered to set the timer the day before. It was just one of
many tricks he'd learned in the past weeks. Anything to reduce stress, take
less steps, expend less energy . . . especially on those difficult mornings
when it took all he had just to pull himself out of bed.
He'd come a long way. Really, he had. It was no big deal that it was a beautiful
Saturday morning and he didn't feel like doing anything. His job was draining,
and he was still recovering, whether he liked to admit it or not. It certainly
didn't imply that he was depressed.
The TV was still on from the night before, and he frowned at that. That wasn't
like him; he must have been more exhausted than he'd thought. Pouring the
coffee into an oversized mug, he settled down on the couch and turned to
CNN. Natural disasters, war, terrorist acts . . . who wouldn't be depressed?
He tried the sports channel but at 7am, there wasn't much to choose from.
How many times could he watch the White Sox win the World Series? Sure, it
was nice that a Chicago team finally won, but it really wasn't the right
Home decorating? Reminded him of Sam . . . she needed one-on-one lessons,
judging by her apartment.
Cartoons? He tried to recapture his youth, but then he remembered he didn't
even like them as a kid. He always was an overachiever, preferring a well
written comic book to the mindless garbage that the networks showed on Saturday
Oh, here we go . . . sci-fi. Of course, the problem with 'Now and Again'
was that the damn network pulled it before the fans got any resolution. It
was just sad that Michael Wiseman was never officially reunited with his
Finally . . . the Dick Van Dyke show . . . who could be depressed watching
that? He had a crush on Mary Tyler Moore . . . the shoes and those hot little
Capri's she wore. He wasn't even born when it originally aired, but that
didn't matter; he loved the reruns when he was growing up, and he used to
dream of finding a girl just like her. Of course, that was before he caught
on what love and women were really like. Maybe he should stick with brunettes.
Oh yeah, this was one of his favorites . . . the walnut episode . . . perfect
blend of sci-fi and humor. He found himself giggling at first, then laughing
laughing so hard that it made his chest ache and his stomach clench.
Tears were rolling down his face, and he couldn't remember why exactly, but
it was alright. He was laughing; he wasn't depressed. He really wasn't crying
. . . he wasn't.
It didn't matter that it was beautiful day and that he couldn't make himself
get up off the couch. It didn't matter that he couldn't remember when he'd
last taken a pill . . . it wouldn't hurt to take another. It didn't matter
that he was sobbing, sobbing, while watching the Dick Van Dyke show.
It didn't matter that he'd rather wear Danny's shirt all weekend than risk
seeing just a glimpse of what it hid.
He didn't have a problem. He wasn't depressed. After all, it was a beautiful
+ + + + + + +
It was a beautiful day. So beautiful that Danny wanted
to scream. How the hell could it be so nice out when everything in his life
was wrong? Just . . . wrong.
He'd done pretty well getting past it, he thought; an excellent job of convincing
everyone he was just fine, (himself included). After all, it was Martin who
had the real adjustment to make. Martin, his partner and friend . . . the
man he'd managed to avoid having a real conversation with for what? Ten weeks
Danny stood on his balcony breathing in the cool autumn air. It really was
too nice to spend a day like this alone. So without thinking about it (because
if he did, he'd chicken out), he picked up the phone and called Martin.
Martin's voice sounded hollow . . . weary with just one word . . . not right
. . . just wrong.
"Hey, Martin. How 'bout we, uh, do something today?"
"You mean . . . together?" Martin finally choked out, obviously completely
surprised and taken off guard, and how sad was that? They were friends, after
all maybe even best friends. Or Danny thought so . . . they used to
Hesitation . . . "Um . . . like what?"
Not a flat-out 'no', that was good. "I don't know. We could just, you know,
Lame, Taylor, really lame, but the best he could come up with on short notice.
This was purely spontaneous and impulsive so what did he expect?
More hesitation on Martin's end . . . "Uh . . . thanks, man, but . . . um
. . . I kind of have a lot to do today."
No he didn't. Something was totally not right with Martin's voice. Something
was totally not right with Martin.
But no, he'd gotten past it, too, Martin had. He looked good, for the most
part. Tired sometimes, but who didn't? He didn't eat as much, but hell, he
was a walking garbage disposal before so that probably wasn't all bad. So
really, all in all, Martin was handling things just fine, too. It was cool,
they were cool.
Or maybe not . . .
"Well, okay then. I'll just uh, see you Monday," Danny said. The Real Martin
would pick up on that lie right off.
But the Imitation Martin they'd all been dealing with for the past ten weeks
apparently didn't, because he answered, "Okay. Bye."
It was only nine o'clock in the morning, but Danny found himself rushing
anyway, as if Martin might mysteriously slip away in the next hour. Now that
he'd finally made the decision to do this--whatever this turned out
to be--he wasn't going to give himself time to back out.
He'd gotten in the habit of taking thirty second showers, finding it something
akin to mental torture to stand under the steaming water too long. It made
no sense that he couldn't scrub off his chest without seeing
Martin's chest; all that blood spilling out of two small holes. He
found himself wondering what those holes looked like now, but that was just
too creepy and well, kind of girlish that he'd think about something
like Martin's chest and Martin's scars.
But he did think about them, and his own unblemished skin constantly reminded
him that he was the lucky one. So he started dressing in the dark, or with
his back to the mirror, and wouldn't Dr. Harris get some mileage out of that
one? Quickly pulling on his jeans, Danny grabbed his favorite Mets shirt.
He'd given one to Martin, but he doubted the man ever wore it.
He was out his door and standing in front of Martin's door in under an hour,
loaded down with bagels and muffins and donuts of every kind, because it
seemed absurdly important that he bring just the right thing, and with the
new, Slightly-Damaged-Model Martin, he no longer had a clue what that was.
Although he was pretty certain his sudden visit might be less than appreciated
by his reluctant host.
Martin's face when he opened the door verified that. In fact, for one hopelessly
awkward minute, he thought Martin might just slam the door in his face without
saying anything at all. But naturally, Fitzgerald manners overruled impulse.
"Uh . . . Danny? Uh . . . what . . . what are you . . .?" Martin stuttered.
The Real Martin would never have done that, either. The Real Martin would
have said something along the lines of "What the hell Taylor? You that hard
up? Or is that you don't recognize the word 'no' since you've probably never
heard it before?"
"I . . . uh, I thought we could . . . well, you know, it's a beautiful day
and . . . I need the fresh air and I thought you probably did uh, too." Oh
man, now he was stuttering. He added hopefully (and probably somewhat
pitifully) the deal-breaker, "I brought breakfast."
Not a spark of interest in Martin's eyes; not even a glimpse at what Danny
This had gone too far; he'd let it go on too long. Martin was not right.
And for the first time, Danny really looked at him and knew the truth.
He couldn't say it, though; if he gave it away, Martin would be totally spooked
and all would be lost.
So he went with his gut, which pretty much always knew where to go and how
to get there. Pushing his way through the door, he ignored Martin's shocked
expression and poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Nice shirt," he said casually, hoping he didn't show how ridiculously pleased
he was that Martin was wearing his gift. Good God, when had he gotten so
weird and girly?
"Yeah," Martin replied, a little breathless and apparently too stunned to
Danny pulled out the gooiest donut he could find and took a big bite. "Want
Martin shook his head and pulled a hand across his eyes, and what was up
with that? Ten in the morning and he's already tired?
"Danny . . ?" he asked, leaving the rest of the question unspoken . . . what
are you doing here?
It hit him then, like the proverbial piano falling on his head . . . Martin
was depressed. Well, duh. Of course, he was. What the hell had they
all been thinking? Even Dr. Harris probably didn't know because imitation
Ken-doll Martin was so damn good at hiding it.
"Let's go for a walk," Danny suggested. "It's a beautiful day."
Martin sighed and shrugged. "Okay. I'll get my shoes."
So not the enthusiastic response he was going for, but that was fine. It
was a start. Danny now had a plan: get Martin out of the house, get Martin
to talk, (this was the tricky part, getting Martin to talk while Danny listened
and did not talk), get the Real Martin back, and everything,
everything would be back to normal . . . including Danny.
+ + + + + + +
Well shit. Danny was not going away. Four, five, six
weeks ago, Martin would have killed to have Danny on his doorstep. But not
now. It was too late and he was too tired. But if there was one thing he'd
learned about Danny Taylor, it was that Martin couldn't win in a battle of
wills. Danny had the upper hand in persistence and stubbornness. He was also
currently stronger and healthier (a temporary situation) and Martin was pretty
sure he couldn't physically toss the man out of his apartment. Better to
play along or Taylor would start playing detective.
He went to his room for his shoes, but for some stupid reason, his sneakers
weren't in their usual and customary spot. In fact, they were tossed casually
in the corner with a pair of socks stuffed in them, which he promptly pulled
out and put on his feet. It bothered him only marginally that he didn't care
enough to seek out clean socks . . . what the hell difference did it make
anyway? Clean socks lost importance when you spent two weeks on your back
in a hospital room wondering how your life got so screwed up and where the
hell your best friend had disappeared to.
Of course, maybe Danny didn't know he was the best friend, and well,
Danny was here now. And why was that again? Because it was a beautiful day
and he needed fresh air? Right. Uh-huh.
Well, he wasn't talking, if that was what Danny had in mind. The time for
that was long gone . . . buried in the box. Kiss it goodbye.
"Alright . . . let's go," he said half heartedly when he made it back to
his living room.
Danny hesitated, "You sure?"
Hell no, he wasn't sure. But if he said 'no' now, it would look like he was:
a) too weak and tired to go, which would set Danny to asking questions; or
b) look like he didn't want to talk to Danny, which would set Danny to asking
"Yeah. It's a beautiful day. Let's go."
It was a short walk, comparatively speaking. Martin wasn't even short of
breath when they returned to his apartment, probably because Danny did all
the talking. It was mildly amusing; in the annoying sort of way that Danny
was always amusing. Taylor was obviously pumping him for information, but
when he kept hitting brick walls, he'd go off on some tangent.
Danny talked when he was nervous, while conversely, Martin didn't. It was
a perfect partnership. But it was immensely sad and unsettling that a walk
together would cause either of them, let alone both of them, to be
nervous in the first place. Too little . . . too long . . . too late . .
Danny was eating again; opening the bag he brought and pulling out a muffin
this time. "Try one, Martin. They're really good."
"No thanks. I already ate."
He hadn't, but his stomach was cramping up, doing that thing it did when
he was nervous or he pushed himself too far. He needed to take something
before it got out of control, so he excused himself and headed for the bedroom.
Sitting on the edge of his bed, he downed the pill with a swig of water and
waited for the pain to subside. But if anything, he became more miserable
and more sick to his stomach . . . and oh yeah, good move, Fitzgerald, taking
pills on an empty stomach.
He prayed, literally prayed that Danny could not hear him getting sick in
"Martin? You okay?" Danny asked from the hallway outside the bathroom door.
Shit. So much for the power of prayer. Yes, it was good for the big things--like
saving his life--but he was apparently on his own when it came down to the
"I'm fine," he managed between gasps, and great, just great - he'd messed
up his shirt. "I'll be out in a minute," he added, but he waited until he
thought Danny was gone.
Slipping the shirt over his head, he quickly moved out of his bathroom--carefully
avoiding the mirror--and headed towards the bedroom.
Where Danny sat on his bed, waiting for him . . .
+ + + + + + +
Oh God. He hadn't expected Martin to come out without
a shirt on. And even though looking at another man's chest was not his thing
(it really wasn't), he couldn't look anywhere else. He tried to stifle a
gasp . . . and failed miserably. He tried to cover up the fact that he was
staring . . . and failed miserably. He tried to act like it was no big deal
. . . and failed miserably.
Oh God. It was so much different, so much more, so much worse than
he'd imagined. It looked like they'd butchered Martin to save his life, and
he suddenly felt stupid that he'd ever imagined it differently. What did
he expect? That they'd just pull out the bullet and leave a nice, neat little
hole? Well yeah, that seemed about right.
But he was there and he should have known better.
Martin must have been as stunned as he was, because he just stood stock still,
before turning so alarmingly pale that Danny worried he just might fall over.
"God, Martin! Sit down before you fall down!" That was harsh, and oh man,
not cool . . . not cool at all.
Martin did it though. He sort of folded up like a cheap lawn chair and sat
on the floor, hugging his chest and looking down at the carpet like he was
embarrassed or nervous or maybe even ashamed.
That was a load of crap. If anyone had anything to be embarrassed about it
was Danny, and it was about damn time he faced up to it and told Martin exactly
how he felt. Dropping to his friend's side, he wrapped an arm around Martin's
shoulder and asked gently, "Hey? You alright?"
He could have counted it off in his head: one, two, three . . . Yep,
three quick seconds was all it took for Martin Fitzgerald, accomplished actor,
"I'm fine. I'm fine. Just . . . let me up."
"Danny. Let. Me. Up."
"No, Martin. We need to talk."
Shifting under the weight of his arm, Martin grew angry when Danny merely
tightened his grip. But although Martin may not have been up to par, he was
strong enough to throw Danny off and get to his feet. He roughly pulled open
his drawer and tossed a Cubs shirt (what the hell?) over his head before
stomping out of the bedroom.
Danny followed, his mouth flapping the entire way down the hall and to the
living room where Martin sat pouting on the couch. "Martin! This has gone
on long enough. We have to talk. We can't keep acting like everything is
just fine when things are just . . . wrong. And you know it as well as I
Martin glared at him for a full ten seconds before practically vomiting the
words, "Yeah? Really? And whose fault is that, Danny? You weren't there when
I needed you so . . . what? I'm supposed to believe you care now?
Is that what this is about? Or is it about you? You can't get past
feeling guilty so you come over and bring donuts and take poor, depressed
Martin for a walk and get him to spill his guts a little and that makes
everything alright. You get rid of your guilt and you get your life back
and what do I get? Huh, Danny? What am I supposed to get out of all of this?"
This time it was Danny's knees that gave out as he unceremoniously dropped
into the chair across from Martin. It felt like the air had been sucked out
his lungs, and he wondered if this was what if felt like when the bullet
sliced through Martin's chest.
"I . . . I don't know," he all but whispered. "But . . . but we have to quit
pretending, Martin. For you, as well as for me."
Martin's deep blue eyes held his gaze steadily as he answered, "I can't.
It's the only way I can deal with this, Danny. So just . . . leave it alone."
Danny leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and suddenly he couldn't keep
it inside one more second. God . . . if Martin only knew . . . "I thought
you were dying. I thought . . . I thought it was my fault somehow. I thought
if we got Dornvald it would be enough . . . and it wasn't. Not even close.
Because you were bleeding out in front of me, night after night, every time
I closed my eyes, and there was nothing, nothing I could do, Martin.
You were . . . I was supposed to be your partner, your best friend . . .
and I let it happen and there was nothing I could do. And then all I could
think about was that you were suffering and I was . . . I wasn't. How could
I look you in the eye and know that? I know it was wrong, and I know, I know
it's too late but . . ."
"It's not too late," Martin said quietly, looking straight at him like he
really meant it.
But how could he be sure? Was this Imitation Martin? Just saying what he
thought Danny wanted to hear?
"You didn't let it happen," Martin added, as if he'd just caught up to that
part of Danny's confession, which was okay because Danny was a couple of
beats behind as well.
Martin was still staring at him intently, his eyes bright . . . and maybe,
please God, let this be the Real Martin, his Martin at last.
"I never blamed you. I never will blame you. I'm glad you didn't get hurt,
Danny, so just stop it. Stop feeling guilty and stop . . . thinking that
Like it was that easy . . . Sure, Martin . . . whatever you say . . .
no sweat . . . we're cool.
He should speak now, it was his turn, but for once in his life, Danny was
speechless. He'd come to help Martin, not the other way around. He wasn't
there to seek forgiveness, he was there to find healing . . . for both of
them. Because as horrible as the scars were on Martin's chest and stomach,
they paled in comparison to what marred them both inside.
"It's not that easy, Martin," Danny finally spoke.
"No shit," Martin replied, and for some reason, it struck Danny as funny.
He laughed softly and said, "You getting anything out of your hour with Dr.
Martin shrugged. "She means well, but . . . I don't know. I think she's more
Danny nodded. "Yeah. I know what you mean."
They were silent for several moments before Martin sighed deeply and leaned
back against the couch. "It's exhausting," he said. "Pretending . . . trying
. . . trying to . . ."
"I know," Danny interrupted, sparing Martin the uncomfortable struggle of
finding words. It wasn't necessary; he understood all too well how difficult
it was to pretend you were something, someone you weren't.
"But . . . you don't have to pretend with me, Martin. Not anymore."
Martin nodded, and his eyes were suspiciously moist when he said, "We really
are cool, you know."
"I know. And I really am here for you now."
It was a beautiful day.