DISABILITY by Beth Green

Author's notes: I mentioned to Angela that Martin could blame her for the angst in this. <weg> This is from Martin's POV during 'Safe.' If you don't think that he'd ever say the f- word then you want to skip this one.

I was nervous enough, my first day back at work, without Danny adding to it. I knew that he was trying to avoid me. He'd been doing it ever since the shooting. More than once over the past six weeks, I'd contemplated my partner's absence.

Every time that I went to physical therapy, I imagined myself confronting Danny. It was a good distraction from the painful effort of working out.

I'd corner him in a room somewhere and show him just how good I could be at interrogation.

"What the hell is going on with you? If you can't be bothered to visit, why not at least make one lousy phone call? If you can't manage that much, how about writing a letter? No? A fucking get well card?" He remains silent, staring, dark eyes mutely pleading for something that I'm not sure I can give. I continue, "Is it that you don't care? After Jack told me that you literally kept me from bleeding to death, I don't think so. It is guilt?"

I imagine him looking at me as my question hits home. He would be speechless, and I would continue. "Get over it! You did nothing wrong! I'm still alive, and so are you. You're standing here without a scratch. Without a goddamn mark on you!"

And there my fantasy would end. Because as much as I don't think he deserves the guilt, there's some part of me that is resentful of his glowing good health. I can't walk without a limp, I can't get up without pain, and it's been six weeks. In six weeks all I've managed to do is to go from crutches to a cane, from intravenous pain medication to pills. There are times when I want to take my cane and break it over Danny's head. I'm so fucking alone in all of this. He should damn well be with me, every painful step of the way.


When we finally meet in the hallway, my anger vanishes as if it had never been. Danny may not be hurting physically, but there is a depth of pain is his eyes that I don't have the courage to confront. Not now, when my own emotional status is questionable at best. I've been seeing the department shrink as part of the conditions for my return to work. I've made all of the proper responses, and done a pretty good job of hiding the fact that I'm terrified that my disability is going to be permanent. Today does nothing to reassure me on that front. Despite my doctor's encouraging words, my painful movements grow worse with every passing hour.

At the end of the day, I'm sitting at my desk, waiting for everyone to leave. I know that my exhaustion is going to make a change of position more than challenging. I don't want anyone to see how difficult it is for me to do something as simple as stand up and walk away from my desk. My uppermost emotion at the moment is the fear of failure.

I should have known that the shit luck I've been having since Dornvald opened fire would continue. The last person I want to see walks up to my desk. It's Jack. We exchange a few pleasantries and then he hits me with a body blow.

"I just wanted to give you a heads up. I'm adding a new agent to the team."

My breath catches in my throat as I begin to panic internally. I take a detached moment to be mildly surprised that I'm not visibly shaking. My fingers are cold and bloodless, as is my soul. Jack doesn't think that I'm ever going to be able to get back into the field. I've tried so hard to believe that the doctor wasn't wrong, that I am going to make a complete recovery despite the agonizing slowness of my progress. I thought that I was doing a good job of covering up my weakness. I should have realized the futility of my actions. Jack is a skilled investigator. My pretense hasn't fooled him for even a minute.

I respect this man and his opinion. I'm afraid to ask, but I have to: "Is it because of me?"

Jack responds with a quick "No." We both know that his words are a lie. I have seen this man convince a murdering pedophile that he'd found a kindred soul in Jack. He thinks that he is doing me a kindness by offering a lie now. I wish that he had told the truth; then I could surrender to the desire to stop trying to achieve the impossible. It is not in my nature to quit but I have never been so close to doing so as I am at this moment.

Jack goes on about how the team has been stretched too thin, but I have stopped listening to his words. He's not saying anything that I want to hear.