Disclaimers: I own nothing related to WAT and do not profit from
Comments: An attempt to get in the heads of our favorite team as
they come to terms with what occurred in the first two episodes of season
4, but spoilers for everything up until then. Its told from the POV
of each of them, with Danny and Martin going last because they had the most
to say. The title is stolen from a song by Sting (lyrics at the end of the
fic, because theyre awesome and they fit).
Warnings: Some mild cursing.
He looked good . . . considering. Of course, Viv had
never seen Martin look anything but put together, controlled, good.
It was probably his upbringing--anything less than perfect unacceptable--but
that might be selling the man short. Martin had a quiet dignity all his own;
no matter how angry or upset he was, he still managed to keep it together
and look like hed stepped out of an ad for GQ. Even during his worst
moment, finding that little girl with her ear cut off, and even after all
that happened after--even half sick with what hed seen and done--no
one could say he looked bad.
So really, she expected him to look good when he came back. And he did, if
you looked past the lines on his face and the way his clothes hung a little
too loosely and the obvious cane. He still managed a genuine smile for her,
and he still said all the right things. Viv wasnt fooled but it
didnt matter, because Martin would be fine eventually. Hed go
back to looking good and meaning it when he said he was fine. It was just
a matter of time.
She knew because she had done the same. Only the week before, shed
nervously entered the office for the first time in months, wondering if
shed still fit in, if she was still needed, if she could honestly make
it through an eight hour day. But it was like riding a bike. Everything fell
into place and it was as if shed never been gone, except that she felt
even better than she had in months.
Of course that part was considerably different for Martin. Viv had undergone
serious surgery to get her life back. She would have died without it, and
she came out of the hospital feeling better than when shed gone
in. It was all positive for her.
Martin, on the other hand, was a perfectly fine, healthy did she mention
he always looked so damn good? young man with his life ahead of him.
And that was taken away in a matter of minutes, or maybe only seconds. Everything
changed with no warning, and no matter how many times an agent tells themselves
it could happen to them, there is no real preparation.
Shed never forget when they told her. It was Jack and Sam, uncomfortable
and awkward and downright nervous, and Viv couldnt catch on at first
what that was about. Apprehension literally dripped from their somber faces
and she wanted to tell them both to lighten up already. Whatever they had
to tell her couldnt be that bad.
But it was. Jack mumbled something about an ambush, and Sam looked down and
over and out the window; anywhere and everywhere except at Viv. She knew
right then that Martin was hurt. Avoidance, denial, evasion . . . just the
mention of Martins name made Sam close up and turn off, but Viv could
read her like a book. She was scared. Viv was scared too, once Jack spit
out how serious it was. Of course, Martin was out of danger by the time they
saw fit to fill her in, or so they led her to believe. She didnt think
theyd lie about that, but Jack was already in full protective mode,
trying to shelter her and protect her. Shed never been coddled in her
life and she wasnt about to let him get away with it for long.
Theyd waited three days to tell her, and oh yeah, there was hell to
pay for that. Yes, she was groggy and in pain, but what if Martin had died?
He was more than a co-worker, he was a friend, and shed liked to have
at least had the opportunity to offer up a prayer on his behalf. Shed
taken to doing that a lot lately, praying. It was amazing what became important
when looking death in the eye.
Danny came by shortly after that. He was a mess, but like Sam, he wouldnt
talk about it. What was it about her team that made them think they had to
carry their burdens alone?
But then, who was she fooling? Viv was angry at Jack for visiting her prior
to her surgery; she didnt want his support at the time. And she was
irritated with Samantha for finding out about her condition when shed
first been diagnosed. Shed even insisted that Sam keep quiet about
it, keep it to herself . . . dont tell Martin.
But Danny . . . Danny was a mess, and seeing him so visibly devastated was
almost like seeing Martin looking bad it just didnt happen.
Sure, Danny had a temper and he occasionally lost it, but he even made that
look cool. He was anything but cool when he visited with her, averting his
eyes when she asked about the incident. Hed rambled almost
incoherently, Well, it was . . . you know . . . we didnt have
any idea and Martin, he tried to . . . to back the car up and . . . but Dornvald
kept shooting, so um . . .
She cut him off then; it was too painful for her to see how painful it was
for him. Better to bury it, put those feelings in a box, and let each of
them heal up in their own time and in their own way.
Danny visited her often, but she got the impression he didnt visit
Martin much. She probably should have called him on that, but she didnt.
Danny would have shrugged it off anyway, just like Martin probably did. She
was pretty sure Danny was blaming himself, and equally sure that Martin
wasnt blaming Danny at all, but she had no quick fix for that. It should
have been easy for teammates, friends, to open up and talk to each
other, but it wasnt. And she was no better or no different, so she
stayed out of it.
They were in different hospitals, she and Martin, which made it nearly impossible
for her to see him. She called the day after she heard the news, but she
didnt get to talk with him. The nurse said he was still heavily medicated
and not up to talking. She tried again a few days later. He said he was fine.
But he slurred his words, and there was a moment when she could tell that
hed forgotten who he was speaking to.
She was discharged before Martin was, and she tried to talk her husband in
to taking her to his room on her way home from the hospital. Marcus looked
at her like shed lost her mind, and she knew this was one time she
wasnt going to get her way. In fact, he didnt let her out of
the house until weeks later, and by then, Martin was home.
She didnt stop by. There were doctors appointments and therapy
sessions, and she figured Martin was enduring the same. So she called him
once a week. And he said he was fine.
She slept a lot, too, and she didnt know what she would have done without
Marcus and Reggie. It made her wonder who was staying with Martin, so she
asked him. He muttered something about good nurses and he
didnt really need much help anyway. He always seemed so independent
and self-sufficient, so he probably really was alright. But still she wondered,
was anybody there for him? Eventually, she let that go, too. There was nothing
she could do about it, and Martin was a grown man after all. Surely hed
ask for help if he needed it.
Jack visited her at least once a week, and he called so often that she started
to get annoyed. Yes, Jack, Im fine. Yes, Jack, Im
resting. No, Jack, I wont come back too soon. It
was totally uncharacteristic of him to be so concerned, or at least to
show it. But it was obvious he was suffering effects from the shooting,
too; that he was, in fact just coming to the realization that he could lose
a member of his team. They were human beings, and life was fragile and tenuous
at best. It had to terrify him, that lack of control and inability to assure
their safety. She understood his exaggerated sense of responsibility for
those under his leadership, which was the only reason shed let him
rein her in as long as she had.
Jack didnt talk about that night, either. She knew hed arrived
on the scene just after it happened. He said Martin was injured and Danny
was pretty shook up, but mostly he just talked about getting Dornvald, like
that was the major point of the story. It wasnt, and she nearly called
him on it, but he would have looked away and ignored her, so she didnt
In the end, it didnt matter. All that mattered was that Martin was
back and they could all get on with the business of living and working. It
sounded good and felt better, especially when Martin approached her and Sam
with lunch. The look in his eyes when he saw Sam was almost as touching as
the look in hers. It was one of those moments that did Vivs newly repaired
heart good better than the best medicine. She tried not to let a silly
grin break out, but she was pretty sure she was unsuccessful.
The only down side was that apparently Samantha hadnt visited Martin
either, judging by her expression when she saw the cane. Surely she knew?
Surely shed been in touch? Well, maybe not . . . apparently not. And
Viv really, really wanted to get to the bottom of that, but Samantha wasnt
talking and Viv wasnt pushing.
She saw Martin again at the end of the day. Why he was still there, she
didnt know; he should have gone home hours earlier. She stopped by
his desk to say good-night, and for just a brief second, the light hit his
eyes just right and she knew. He wasnt fine.
Martin? Are you alright? she asked. And for once she wished
hed open up and tell her the truth. Hed tried to once before;
tried to come clean about the Reyes shooting and his internal struggle with
that, but theyd never gotten the chance to finish the conversation,
so she let it lie. That was a mistake, one she needed to avoid repeating
if at all possible.
Yeah, he answered with a wan smile.
Are you sure? We can talk, if you want.
He hesitated. And she knew exactly what he was thinking . . . You have
problems of your own. So she wasnt the least bit surprised when
he answered, No. Thanks. Im good.
He wasnt good. But he wasnt ready to talk, and she couldnt
exactly blame him. She wasnt sure what she would say anyway; maybe
something along the lines of, Almost dying really sucks, doesnt
it? When it came down to it, she wasnt ready to have that
conversation either, so she said her goodbye and left him there to sort it
out on his own. That was how they worked. Watch each others backs,
but dont get too close or pry too hard.
+ + + + + + +
He looked good. In fact, he was a sight for sore eyes,
and Jack just barely kept a lid on the grin that opened up, in spite of his
best efforts to hold it back. He wouldnt want to ruin his reputation
as a hard ass, after all.
But Martin standing there, working . . . his team back together again
. . . God, it felt good.
He wasnt fooled about the physical therapy. And he wasnt fooled
that Martin felt good, but he wasnt surprised that Fitzgerald
would choose to play it that way. Jack would do exactly the same, under similar
circumstances. It was a matter of dignity, and Jack was damn proud of him
for coming back in six weeks and sucking it up. He came from tough stock,
Martin did, as much as Jack hated to admit it. Victor Fitzgerald could be
a pompous ass, but no one could accuse him of being soft.
Although, the Deputy Director came damn close to showing another side when
Martin was injured. He almost cracked, almost showed that he cared. It was
no wonder Martin had mastered a carefully controlled persona; hed learned
from the best.
Notifying Fitzgerald senior was one of the hardest calls Jack had ever made,
preceded by the worst call hed ever received. Hed waited until
he got to the scene to make that call, hoping and praying that it wasnt
as bad as Danny sounded. Jack had just called Martin and Danny about Viv,
had just made it to his car in the hospital garage, when Taylor called him
back. Dannys voice sounded panicked, desperate, bordering on hysteria,
and he was either slurring his words or slipping into Spanish because Jack
had a hell of a time understanding him. But he made out the words shots and
Martin and blood, and that was enough.
He wasnt prepared for what he found at the scene, though. There is
no training, no preparation for seeing your agents, your men cut down so
violently and so unexpectedly. He thought he might throw up when he saw Danny
on the ground, trying to keep Martin from bleeding to death. And he was certain
hed never, ever get the image of Dannys hands--waving about in
mindless distraction, covered in his partners blood--out of his head.
He didnt know what he was going to do with Danny.
Hed called Sam on his way there that night, and that wasnt an
easy call, either. What was going on between her and Martin was a mystery
Jack tried hard not to dwell on, but he wasnt stupid. This would be
hard on her. He kept the conversation short, mostly because he really
didnt know anything. Martin and Danny were ambushed, hed
said, meet me at the scene.
She gasped, but only whispered, Okay, before she hung up. He
wished he didnt know her so well; wished he couldnt picture the
confusion and fear in her eyes as she grabbed her coat and her keys and rushed
out to meet him.
She kept it together when she arrived and throughout the investigation, though
he could see it was tough. He knew she was calling the hospital repeatedly
during the day--he didnt miss much--but she put on a brave front. He
wished he could tell her that she didnt have to, that she could give
in a little, but there wasnt time. There was too much to do, and
wasnt that the story of his life? Family, friends, emotions . . . secondary
to the job, of course, and maybe some day hed figure out why it - why
he - had to be that way. Maybe he could blame it on his father.
He didnt think much about Martin possibly dying because it wasnt
productive and there was nothing he could do. Instead he focused on his other
responsibilities: find Dornvald, keep an eye on the loose cannon Danny had
become, make sure Sam was coping, and good God, when should they tell Viv?
But before all that, he had to tell Victor. He kept it concise and professional
and tried not to think about how it would feel to be the parent on the other
end of the line. Im sorry to inform you, but theres been
an incident. Martin and Agent Taylor were escorting a terrorist when they
were ambushed. Big swallow, deep breath before he continued, Martin
was shot in the chest and the stomach. Hes on his way to St.
Dead silence--Jack wasnt sure the man was even breathing--until finally
Victor said, Did you get him?
No. But we will.
And then Victor thanked him for calling, thanked him, and hung up.
Nerves of steel, and Jack wondered exactly what it would take to truly rattle
the man. Apparently nearly losing his only son wasnt enough. But Jack
begrudgingly altered that opinion as the day wore on. Victor made faulty
judgments and half-baked decisions, and if that wasnt enough to show
he wasnt thinking clearly, he even apologized to Jack on his way out.
Of course, no one was thinking less clearly than Danny. What the hell was
he going to do with Danny? The idiot would get himself killed or someone
else killed if he didnt get his head on straight. Jack wanted
to throttle him, immediately prior to wrapping him in his arms and telling
him it was okay, it wasnt his fault, and to let it go.
Easier said than done, and Jack knew that better than anyone. He couldnt
let much of anything go when it came down to it, but this was different.
If Danny couldnt get a handle on his emotions, he could lose everything,
including his friendship with Martin and that would be a damn shame.
It was a fringe benefit, a pleasant surprise he hadnt counted on when
hed first brought Martin on board. Danny got along with most people,
but he was still a bit of a loner, a maverick. But Martin balanced Danny
in a way Jack hadnt expected, and it was gratifying to watch their
friendship grow over the years.
It was no wonder then, that Danny was clearly distraught over the shooting.
But why he was eating himself up with guilt was something Jack had yet to
determine. Survivors guilt? Maybe . . . though it seemed more likely that
Danny thought hed either contributed to the tragedy or somehow failed
to prevent it. Well, seeing Martin there at work would hopefully start the
wheels in motion to set things right between them. When Danny saw how great
Martin looked . . . so okay, maybe he didnt look great.
Martin actually looked pretty thin and weak and washed out; exactly like
a man who had two bullets pummeled into him six weeks earlier would look.
But he was there, standing tall or at least standing
bucking up and doing his job, and it would all fall into place once Danny
Except it didnt take long for Jack to figure out that Danny was avoiding
Martin. What the hell was he going to do with Danny?
The person Jack most wanted to call that night when their small world blew
apart was Viv. It ached how badly he wanted her by his side and at his back.
She was his strength, whether she knew it or not. He needed her, and never
more than that awful night. It was oddly ironic and totally indicative of
their recent run of bad luck that she was recovering from serious surgery
at the very moment she was most needed by not just him, but every member
of her team.
He knew he irritated the crap out of Viv by calling all the time when she
was recuperating, but just hearing her voice made him feel better. He should
probably tell her that someday, but hed rather not. Besides, Viv probably
had it all figured out by now. She had the most insight of any one on the
team, and she knew what Jack, in particular, was thinking just by the inflection
of his voice.
So she had to know that he was scared, and God, how he hated to admit that.
But he was. Terrified, in fact, that these people, his people would
suddenly shrivel up and blow away. No, not blow away . . . that they would
be blown away by more stray bullets or a bomb . . . and goddammit,
what was he going to do with Danny?
So he made the decision to add another member to his team. Maybe he thought
there was safety in numbers, or maybe he just needed one more person to develop
an ulcer over. Spread too thin, is what he told anyone and everyone
who needed to know, and it was mostly true.
But the hardest person to say it to was Martin. He knew Fitzgerald would
think it was because of his injuries; that hed see it as some sort
of failure or lack of confidence on his part. And how Jack had a gotten so
good at thinking like a Fitzgerald, he didnt want to contemplate. In
any case, Martin took it gracefully, as Jack had predicted he would, though
he would have felt better if the younger man had protested or at least argued
Martin didnt feel fantastic, that was for sure. In fact,
Fitzgerald was well past exhausted by the time he spoke to him. Jack really
should have sent him home earlier, but he didnt have the heart to.
If there was one thing Martin had said all day that Jack believed, it was
that he was happy to be back at work. In fact, it was probably his lifeline
about now. No way was Jack taking that away.
Besides, it was just too good to have his team whole again. There were problems
ahead, his team was fragile at best, but theyd get through it. Hed
do whatever he had to do to make it happen, and he wondered if Martin picked
up on the double meaning behind his comment about Ryan, their missing kid,
getting the attention he needed. Dr. Harris would have her hands full with
Danny and Martin, but hell, Jack had broken her in pretty well.
Maybe she could even figure out what to do with Danny.
+ + + + + + +
God, he looked good.
Well, except for the obvious cane, and what was up with that? He hadnt
mentioned it when shed talked to him on the phone. But then, she had
a feeling there were a lot of things he kept from her. He hadnt mentioned
that he was coming back to work already, either, but that was one surprise
she could live with.
God . . . he looked so good.
She had to touch him office gossip be damned. He felt good, too; his
broad shoulders melding into her arms, his hands gentle against her back
. . . solid and real and Martin.
He was smiling - as if life had given him anything to be happy about lately.
And not just any smile, that smile the one that reached clear
up to his eyes and got her every time. Suddenly it was four years ago and
she was seeing him for the first time. Killer smile, shed said to Danny
at the time, or something similar. That was mostly to get Dannys goat,
but it was also true.
You look good, she said, because it was all she could think about.
He was still smiling when he said, Thanks. You, too, and he held
her gaze a moment too long.
And for the first time in weeks, she had the feeling that it would be alright
between them, whatever the future held. If nothing else, shed be the
friend she should have been before. If nothing else . . .
She promised shed be there for him . . . until. Until when exactly,
she wasnt sure. It was hard because just what was she to him? Co-worker,
teammate, friend, ex-girlfriend . . . the list was endless and the lines
all blurred. And the truth was that she had no idea what she was or how she
She did know that the earth literally dropped from under her feet when she
first caught on how close it was . . . I could lose him. For real.
Permanently. With no second guessing and no second chances.
But she didnt lose him, and she had stayed by his side; she
was there for him even if he didnt know it. She even held his hand
sometimes when no one was watching - at least until she was effectively
dismissed by Martins mother.
Its sweet of you to visit, dear, but Im sure you have
work to do, and Martin needs his rest.
Poor Martin. When Victor said his wife was monitoring things
at the hospital, he meant it literally. It was no wonder Martin gravitated
towards his aunt, his mother gave new meaning to the word overbearing. In
fact, Sam could think of a whole lot of other words for the woman, but
shed keep them to herself.
Of course, his mother was right. Martin needed his rest and she did have
work to do and really, would Martin have wanted her there anyway? Hed
ended their relationship, so maybe she was just playing the role of the
clingy, jilted ex-lover and maybe she didnt belong at his side after
all. She told herself that, and it made things a lot easier because he looked
so bad that it hurt to see him, so she could go on with her life and not
even have to feel guilty about it.
But it wasnt that easy. And even though shed been let off the
hook, she went to see him anyway. Late at night, after work, shed slip
in his room when he was asleep and Mommy Dearest was long gone, and shed
just watch his bandaged chest rise and fall and shed try not think
about how fragile and weak he looked.
It just wasnt right; the whole universe was off kilter because Martin
always looked good. Even when he was pissed off at her and she was
even more pissed off at him, he looked good. She worried sometimes that that
was the main attraction . . . maybe it didnt work because it really
was all about sex for her. Oh God, she was a class act alright. She finally
landed a decent guy, a nice guy who really seemed to care about her, and
she still couldnt get it right.
Except seeing him there in that hospital bed made her think that there was
so much more to him, to her, to them.
She didnt see him at his apartment when he was finally discharged after
almost two weeks at St. Vincents. She tried, but either he was having
therapy or he was asleep or he just didnt answer the door. So she called
him every few days and she tried to set up a time to come and see him, but
there was always a problem . . . and that was when she figured out that he
didnt want her to see him.
Maybe she should have been offended or upset by that, but she wasnt.
It was undoubtedly some kind of Fitzgerald pride thing . . . lick your wounds
in private and for Gods sake, dont let the world know youre
hurting. And to be honest, she was relieved. What would she say? How would
she act? Because maybe shed had some kind of revelation about how much
Martin meant to her when he was hovering between life and death, but who
was to say that the same had happened to him?
Although the way he looked at her when he came walking into the room . .
. that smile . . . friends at least, good friends . . . if nothing
She saw him again later in the day, and he was looking a little less good.
He was tired and pale and thinner than she remembered, and why hadnt
she noticed that earlier? She watched him without his knowing it, and caught
a moment when she was sure pain flickered across his face.
And just that quickly, it was that horrible night all over again. She
didnt make it to the scene in time to see Martin whisked away in the
ambulance, but she saw the blood in the street and on the towels, and she
was sure she glimpsed it in the car, too. But maybe she was seeing things;
after all, shed had horrifying visions of what might have happened
all the way from her apartment to the scene. Unfortunately, her normally
overactive imagination wasnt far off this time.
Jack was talking to her, telling her to focus, and she did because she always
listened to Jack. She didnt understand her relationship with him any
more than she did her relationship with Martin, but hed always been
there for her, one way or another. He was shook up, too, but he pushed it
aside like always and took the lead like always, and she was grateful because
she wasnt sure she could take a step or a breath without his direction.
She held it together, though, through hour after hour of waiting for word
on Martin, and she was beginning to get the idea that Danny flat out lied
to her on the phone from the ER. Danny wasnt exactly the rock of Gibraltar
himself, and maybe she should have allowed him to hug her or at least to
touch her well hell, maybe she should have hugged him. He was
a mess, but she just knew if he touched her, shed fall apart. So she
walked away from him and let herself have a good seven minute cry, and then
she moved on.
But Danny didnt. In fact, he was still a mess and no one, probably
not even Viv, could figure that one out. Even after they got the call,
the one that said Martin had survived the surgery and the doctors were
cautiously optimistic, Danny didnt seem relieved. She
didnt dwell on it though, because for the first time that day, her
lungs actually expanded and her heart resumed a normal rhythm.
It was the next evening before she got up the courage to go see Martin. She
made a little bedside promise that he certainly didnt hear and probably
wouldnt hold her to even if he had. But she intended to keep it and
she tried her best.
And she would keep on trying because although the worst might be over, clearly
Martin still had some difficult moments ahead of him. She owed him that as
his friend . . . if nothing else.
+ + + + + + +
God, he looked terrible. What was he even doing there?
Martin should have been home, in bed. He wasnt ready to come back.
Danny wasnt ready for him to come back.
So he avoided him; stepped on the elevator and let the doors slide closed
before banging his head against the wall. Shit.
What the hell was the matter with him?
When the hell was he going to get it together?
Martin deserved better; better than two bullets in his body, better than
six miserable weeks trying to get his life back, better than one sorry-assed
friend who didnt have the guts to even visit him.
The same sorry-assed friend who screwed up royally that night and just kept
right on screwing up. Shit.
It was never, ever going to go away. He would never close his eyes and not
relive it a hundred, a thousand, a million times over: the stop light and
the van and the shots . . . Martin driving forward, Martin backing up, Martin
gasping and bleeding and looking at Danny like he couldnt understand
what had happened.
He had no idea; it never crossed his mind that Martin was hit. Dannys
head was fuzzy and he wasnt sure where he was for a brief second, but
the shots brought him back quickly enough. He got out of the car and he did
his job, right? He defended himself and his partner and he got one of the
guys . . . and he did his job.
Martin was probably already hit anyway; otherwise hed have been right
there with Danny. Martin was always right there with him, even when Danny
wasnt sure he wanted him right there with him. So yeah, he had
to have been hit before, when he was driving forward or driving backwards
. . . because he couldnt have, he just couldnt have been hit
by the gunfire that Danny initiated afterwards.
Danny couldnt live with that.
It was hard enough living with the fact that Martin nearly died and he barely
had a scratch on him. How fair . . . how incredibly unfair was that?
And he didnt want to hear about survivors guilt.
He knew about it, read about it, and it had nothing to do with him. He
wasnt stupid . . . he didnt have some insane, illogical desire
to swap places with Martin. He didnt lay awake at night thinking that
it should have been him.
But it was still unfair. Martin was a good guy and he didnt deserve
it. And it made Danny half crazy thinking about it. Why was it that when
someone had one foot in the grave, all a person could remember was every
good thing about them? Martin annoyed the hell out of him on more than one
occasion, but hed be damned if he could remember a single one. Instead,
Martin had somehow achieved sainthood status . . . the best co-worker, the
best partner, the best friend hed ever had.
Martin would get a kick out of that. If he knew, which he never would because
Danny wasnt going to tell him.
Just like hed never tell Martin about that night . . . how hed
pulled Martin out of the car and pleaded with him to hang on, how hed
screamed for an ambulance (in English and Spanish), how he never did
get his head checked, how hed lied to Sam . . . and to Jack . . . and
Hed never tell Martin about that night because they could never, ever
talk about it. If they did, Danny would be tempted to ask, So Martin,
were you hit during the first round of shooting or the second? And
Martin might be tempted to answer, Well shit, Danny, Id have
been fine if youd just stayed in the car and let them drive off.
But more likely, Martin would say, What the hell are you talking
about? Or What the hell is wrong with you, Taylor? And
that would lead to the kind of touchy-feely conversation that neither one
of them could deal with.
So he avoided Martin because that was best for both of them, or so he told
himself. He didnt want to see Martin hurt and Martin probably didnt
want him to see him hurt, so it worked out. Right?
Wrong. He was a sorry-assed friend because he knew, he knew that Martin
had asked about him. Over and over apparently, in the hospital when he was
trying to come out of the coma or drug-induced haze theyd put him in.
Martins first words, in fact, were, Hows Danny?
Jack had told him that. Jack had also told him that Martin didnt seem
to believe him when he said Danny was fine. Actually Jack said, Get
your butt over there and let him see for himself.
So in his defense, Danny did go. He went to the hospital and Martin opened
his eyes and he said, Hey, Man with a sort weird looking half
grin, half grimace.
And Danny said, Hey, Man, back, and tried not to think about
all the tubes that were coming out of unnatural places in Martins body.
Martin took a shaky breath, like maybe he was already worn out, and he asked,
Yokay? and Danny almost laughed at the absurdity of the
But he didnt laugh; instead he took Martins hand (and no one
would ever know about that, either) and he said, Im fine, Martin.
Dont worry. Then Martin closed his eyes, and Danny sat there
for approximately three minutes before he went to the restroom down the hall
and threw up.
He didnt go back after that. He tried. He drove into the parking garage
at the hospital and later at Martins apartment, but he never could
seem to open the door and take that first step.
Of course Martin excused him for not visiting him. What did Danny expect?
That Martin would say, Gee whiz, Danny, you really hurt my
feelings,? No way. It was a guy thing. And Martin had the double whammy
of being a Fitzgerald guy, so of course it was no worry, no big deal,
Yep, he was cool alright. They were both so damn cool they could hardly look
each other in the eye, or anyone else for that matter. Martin gimping through
the halls with that damn cane telling everyone he was okay. Yeah,
right. And Danny going about his job like he wasnt walking a tightrope,
wasnt fighting the urge to throw up every time he let his mind wander
for five seconds because it always led back to that night.
It made him mad, furious; all of it. And Jack just added fuel to the
fire. He needed to get a grip already. Quit treating them all--Danny
especially--like little kids who might scrape their knees if he let them
out of his sight.
Danny was just doing his job, and yes, Jack, maybe he really he was invincible.
After all, hed had fifty-six bullets fired in his direction and missed
every single one.
Just because Martin wasnt so lucky didnt mean Danny was feeling
guilty. Just because it took him days to get Martins blood out from
under his fingernails didnt mean he couldnt face the man without
seeing that same blood pouring from his chest and his stomach. Just because
he was a little more impulsive than usual didnt mean he had a death
wish or some need to prove that life couldnt just slap him in the face
and get away with it.
He was just doing his job.
+ + + + + + +
He looked like shit and he knew it, but maybe they
Im good. I feel fine. Fantastic! Its great to be back.
Martin rehearsed the words all night long, all through the interminable drive
to the office, in the elevator.
He watched the floors pass by in slow motion on the way up God, would
he never get there? But then he was there and it was too soon.
Okay Fitzgerald, suck it up.
Deep breath - hed forgotten for a minute how much that still hurt
he could do this. He had to do this.
I feel great.
He felt like crap but hey, he was alive and he was at work and from what
hed been told, both of those things were in serious question not so
So okay, he could do this, even if did take him a minute to find his desk
. . . at least the new lamps were pretty cool.
He saw Viv first, and that was fortunate. She was the easiest one to face
because he could immediately deflect the attention back on her. Keep her
talking about her recovery and her return to work, and maybe she wouldnt
think to question him too closely. Viv looked good, fantastic for real, and
his smile was genuine at that. She was the best, and she deserved the best.
Hed talked to her on the phone several times while he was recuperating,
and every conversation was hard, mostly because he was afraid hed give
it all away. Afraid she, of any of them, would figure out how terrified he
was. Not of dying, because he never really got the chance to contemplate
that. By the time he caught on how serious his injuries were, he was past
the imminent death phase. So dying wasnt the problem.
It was living. What if it never got better? What if every day started and
ended with pain? He was a tough guy, or at least he thought so, but there
were moments when he couldnt figure out how he was going to get through
the next day, the next hour, let alone the rest of his life.
Hed tried not to take the pain meds at first. He was pretty sure
generations of Fitzgeralds were frowning in consternation from their collective
graves every time he caved and asked for something. But he decided moaning
and actual tears probably appeared wimpier, at least on the surface, so he
But the pain wasnt the half of it. Breathing was hard; eating was worse.
He couldnt imagine the day when he could run again. And then one of
his multiple doctors said something about possible residual effects
and he stopped listening. He was going to ignore it all anyway, and that
would be easier to do if he didnt know exactly what symptoms
he was going to choose not to have.
He saw Jack next, and he was pretty sure he didnt get anything over
on him. But that was okay because he knew Jack wouldnt call him on
it. Jack seemed pleased to see him, proud even, and Martin still wasnt
above relishing any measure of respect he found in that mans eyes.
Jack had come to visit him several times in the hospital and Martin had even
let him in the apartment once. Jack was his boss, after all and he wasnt
stupid. Besides, he knew the man would be too uncomfortable and preoccupied
to notice that he wasnt coping all that well . . . and he probably
should have let his mother hire some help for him. The home health nurses
and therapists did the hard stuff, though, and he really didnt need
any help to lie on his couch and not eat.
He just couldnt do it, he just couldnt face them. He felt so
weak and totally foreign to himself and he didnt want them to see or
to know. So he told his family that his co-workers were looking in on him
and he told his co-workers that his family was . . . and the phone still
seemed to ring an awful lot, but at least they werent all there,
watching him. There was probably something insanely wrong with that kind
of thinking, but he wasnt going to think about it and he wasnt
mentioning it to Dr. Harris, either.
Thank God his parents had left after that first week in the hospital;
obligations taking precedence, now that Martin was out of danger
and his mother had set everyone from the dietary aide to the CEO straight.
Hed been pretty hazy through most of the first four or five days, but
he knew he couldnt take much more of his fathers guarded concern
or his mothers stern commands . . . and how long would it be before
they reminded him that they told him he didnt belong in the
The drugs played with his mind, he knew that, but he still could have sworn
that Sam was there at night sometimes, sitting by his side and holding his
Sam . . . God, she looked good.
She said shed visited him, so he guessed at least some of those visits
were real. And damn, it meant shed probably met his mother . . . the
sure kiss of death for any relationship. Not that they had a relationship
It seemed like she cared, though. It seemed like maybe she felt more for
him than he realized, than probably she realized. Too bad he couldnt
trust it. Deathbed confessions dont mean much because . . . well, because
theres no future to hold them to, no real consequence. Hell, you can
promise anything you want to someone whos on their way out because
how will they know if you stick to it or not? So maybe he wasnt exactly
on his deathbed, he was close enough to screw up her thinking and Lord knows,
her thinking was pretty messed up on a good day.
She looked so good, though, and when she wrapped her arms around him . .
. in public . . . in front of the entire office (even if there wasnt
anyone except Viv nearby watching, it still counted) . . . and he couldnt
help staring at her for just an extra minute.
God, she felt so good.
And he really wanted to trust it, trust her. He wanted to believe
that his almost dying only proved to her that there was more to him, to her,
to them than shed thought possible. But that nagging little
voice in his head reminded him that it would all wear off eventually. Things
would go back to normal--for her, at least--and the shock and fear of what
might have happened would fade. Hed just be regular good-guy Martin
as opposed to wounded martyr Martin - and shed still be conflicted
and scared and half in love with Jack.
Fortunately, Jack actually gave him stuff to do, so he didnt have to
dwell on Sam too long. Instead he had a truly gut-wrenching conversation
with another distraught mother, and if he felt woozy and generally crappy
before, he felt worse . . . considerably worse . . . pretty damn terrible,
in fact . . . after.
And of course that would be when hed come face to face with Danny.
Danny looked like he wanted to turn the other way, and he knew it shouldnt
bother him, but it did. Just like it bothered him that Danny never came back
after that one night at the hospital.
Hed never, ever admit that, though, which was why he cut Danny off
pretty quickly when he started to apologize. It wasnt a total lie;
he was pretty out of it. And really, it was for the best that Danny
didnt visit because then Martin might have to ask him why he looked
at him the way he did when he finally came to see him in the hospital. They
might have to actually talk about it . . . have one of those conversations
that he didnt think Danny had the stomach for . . . and Martins
stomach couldnt even handle jello.
He remembered more about that night than he let on, but he didnt think
anyone would benefit from him mentioning that, especially Danny. He remembered
trying to maneuver the car forwards and back; the sounds of shots fired and
glass breaking; Dannys face. He thought at first that Danny had been
hit, but he couldnt catch his breath to ask him. And then he saw the
blood--his blood--and it still didnt make sense. Danny was calling
to him, pulling him from the car, and pleading with him to hang on . . .
Hed asked about Danny repeatedly, from what hed been told by
one of his nurses. Every time he just managed to pull his head out of the
fog and find his voice, he asked about Danny. They said he was fine.
When he got a little better, a little clearer, it occurred to him that they
could be lying, that Danny might really be dead. He would have been there
otherwise, right? And then finally one night Danny was there, sitting
at his side, but something was very wrong with him. Martin wanted to ask
him what it was, but all he could manage was a weak Yokay?
And of course he said he was fine and not to worry, and he looked at Martin
in a way that set all kinds of alarms off in his head, but he was too sick
and too drugged up to do anything about it. So sick and so drugged in fact,
that he could have sworn Danny was holding his hand.
After that, the days in the hospital dragged by in a sort of slow motion
nightmare; people poking him and pushing him to do things that hurt, like
deep breathe and cough and turn, and it was amazing how things that used
to be so simple became impossible. Eighty-six thousand four hundred seconds
in a day, and every one of them unendurable, except when Viv called, or he
had a vision of Sam by his side (real or imagined?), or Jack just happened
to be in the neighborhood.
But he needed Danny, and hed go to his grave with that secret. Danny
was his partner and, in a sad commentary on his life or lack thereof
his best friend. He was also the one person on the entire earth who
understood the terror of that night. How everything can change in the literal
blink of an eye, and how cruel and wrong that is. And how nothing in the
world is safe or secure or guaranteed any longer. Never again.
Danny understood that. It was in his eyes, along with whatever else was eating
him. Theyd never be the same, and even if he and Danny never talked
about it, Martin just needed to know that at least they could count on each
Count on each other . . . hed learned that lesson from this team, his
team. And now that was changing, too. There were no constants in life,
but it would have been nice to have been back a little longer before Jack
reminded him of that fact.
Adding a new member to the team, and no Martin, it has nothing to do
with you. Yeah, right.
Spread too thin. Uh-huh. Sure. And why would that be, Jack? They
got along fine without Viv for weeks. Yes, they missed her and it was hard,
but she was back now and doing well. There was only one weak link and everyone
knew who it was.
Maybe Jack knew something he didnt. Maybe Dr. Harris said he was more
of a head case than Martin even realized. That was a scary thought. Or maybe
his doctors or physical therapist had said something . . . those residual
effects he didnt pay any attention to rearing their ugly heads. Maybe
hed never be normal and Jack knew that.
Maybe Martin was just exhausted and in pain, (but he hid it so well), and
maybe he just needed to buck up and be a Fitzgerald.
So, youre good? Jack asked him.
Fantastic, he said. He knew his lines well.
He could play the role for as long as it took. In many ways, hed been
acting his entire life, so it wasnt so different really. Hed
just have to come up with a few more jokes and sarcastic comments.
If he practiced hard enough, Jack wouldnt know that he was scared to
death that their new member would steal his place on the team . . . along
with Jacks hard earned respect.
And Sam wouldnt know how much he wanted her to look at him the way
shed looked at him today every day.
And Danny wouldnt know how badly Martin ached for a return to a friendship
that, despite its rocky beginnings, had grown into one of the most essential
relationships in his life.
Yeah, he could do this.
I feel good. Its going well.
Fantastic . . .
| If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the color of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay
Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence
and nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are
On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are