Disclaimers: I own nothing related to WAT. But if I did ... seasons four and five would look a whole lot different.
Comments: A glimpse inside Martin's head, set during season four. It took awhile, but finally Martin spoke to me. Some mild cursing . . .
Somehow he'd lost Martin. Ironic, considering how desperately - and sometimes painfully - he'd fought to hang on to him over the years.
His father and grandfather had started early with the mold, thinking he was wet plaster that would form and harden into the shape they had in mind for him. He was still a boy when he stubbornly pointed out that he was more like clay, soft and pliable and likely to stretch himself in directions that they'd never dreamed of, let alone planned for him.
Somehow thinking for himself was perceived as a failure, so he'd spent his entire life trying to prove otherwise. He was fifteen when he quit the swim team to join the cross-country track squad. His father was livid . . . "Runners are a dime a dozen," he'd said. Generations of Fitzgeralds were swimmers; many of them receiving awards and scholarships for their outstanding ability to perform the backstroke. Martin had the ridiculous vision of old, wrinkled men in Speedos - until he remembered that Fitzgerald men didn't live that long.
The argument had escalated until Martin shouted at his father, "Go to hell!" A swift hand across the mouth was meant to teach him a lesson, but all he learned was to hold in his anger, curse under his breath. Fortunately, his father was too busy to notice that he'd ignored his demands and continued to run. It was only when he received second place in the district for long-distance running that his father commented coldly, "Runners-up are losers." Somehow he'd convinced himself that it didn't matter what his father thought.
He'd told Sam once that his parents viewed the world in a very specific way, and it was true. Too bad he never had the right kind of vision to see it through their eyes, see what they saw. Worlds apart, and he'd made himself believe that was alright. He didn't need their approval or their understanding. After all, he knew who Martin was, what he wanted and where he was going in this life.
Somehow two small chunks of lead changed all that.
He blamed it on the drugs at first. Tubes pumped foreign stuff into his body, while other tubes drained Martin away from his body until he wasn't sure anymore who this strangely weak and debilitated person was. Somehow he'd lost control, lost sight of everything he'd ever known. Every movement was a calculated effort that he had to relearn . . . "Breathe, Martin," . . . "Open your eyes, Martin," . . . "Move your hand, Martin."
But he gradually got better. And where phase one of his recovery consisted of making himself do things, phase two was comprised of the exact opposite: "Do not moan, do not wince, do not complain . . . do not think, do not ask . . . for God's sakes do not cry." And when he was completely, entirely successful at those things - for those brief moments - he glimpsed Martin again.
His parents visited him, and they were strangers, too. Concern and something that looked like fear colored their eyes, except it couldn't have been that. Fitzgeralds didn't do fear - even those who had only acquired the family name by marriage. Might be part of the prenup - he should ask his mother some time.
A little more of Martin slipped away with each one of their visits, and he wasn't sure if it was because they were trying so hard or because he wasn't trying at all. Either way, he figured it would pass and it did. His parents went back to their lives and he went back to his, or at least something that passed for a reasonable facsimile of his life.
Somehow he made it through that first day back at work. He told himself that Martin was still there, behind the baggy pants and the awkward cane and the optimistic assurances and the poor attempts at humor. False smile firmly in place - he knew how to play this game.
It had gotten harder, though. He couldn't hide how good it felt to hold Sam, if only for a moment. He had let her go - when Martin knew who Martin was - because he wasn't going to settle for being second choice. Runners-up are losers. But maybe second place was better than not placing at all.
And he couldn't hide how uncomfortable he felt around Danny. Taylor was right not to visit him when he was recovering. Neither one of them could have handled it. Somehow the conversation would have turned to that night, and there was no way to sort that all out in words. Avoidance was an often used Fitzgerald tactic, one of the few Martin used with great proficiency. He was grateful that Danny had mastered it, as well.
And he couldn't hide how hurt he was that Jack had chosen to add another member to their team. Somehow it was his fault, though Jack denied it. He must have known, Jack had, that little by little, Martin was slipping away. By the time he'd manage to disappear completely, Elena would be fully trained and ready to step in. Good thinking on Jack's part, planning ahead like that.
But somehow, it didn't go that way. After a few months, he'd gotten so good at pretending he was Martin again, that he began to believe he was Martin again. In fact, he'd almost convinced himself that the entire shooting incident was nothing more than a bump in the road of his life. Some scars, some bad memories, some residual pain, and maybe he wouldn't be doing any long distance running for awhile - maybe never. But he could still do his job, well enough anyway, and no one paid enough attention to notice that maybe he wasn't entirely quite right. Maybe he wasn't exactly Martin, but close enough.
Besides, if he was completely honest, the changes weren't all bad. The slightly used, scratch-and-dent version of himself was a little more compassionate and a little less judgmental. He'd learned a thing or two about patience, too, and he'd never ever take something simple like breathing for granted again. It was iffy for awhile, but all in all, he'd come out of the experience mostly intact.
But somehow a dark night on a warehouse roof changed it all again. Bullets ricocheted off the metal railings and cement walls, and Martin just knew he was going to wake up in the hospital again. He took a whack across the chest and a tumble down the stairs instead . . . and he told Danny he was fine.
And he was fine at first. He could do pain - had done it his entire life in ways too numerous to count - and the annoying ache in his hip was just that, annoying. It didn't matter as long as one pill took the edge off, made it so he could work without a limp, a cane, or worst of all, pity.
It occurred to him, when he let himself think that hard, that somehow Martin had become The Job. He knew men like that -hell, he'd been raised by one - but he'd never planned on being that type, that kind. Fitzgerald genes be damned. But somehow he regressed to the early days, when all that mattered was work, and work revolved around proving who he was, or more importantly, who he wasn't. He was still competent, still smart, still quick to find that right link or that miniscule fact that led to the big break. He could still hold his own in a scuffle - even run if he had to, still shoot straight and deadly - still take getting shot at without freaking out.
And he was not weak; he was not sick, he was not afraid, he was not lost . . . and he was not just the son of the Deputy Director.
Until one day he was hurting so deep down inside that he realized that maybe, maybe someone would see, someone would know that he couldn't quite manage it - that maybe he wasn't all he tried to be and maybe he was dangerously close to being all those things he didn't want to be. And maybe, maybe one pill wasn't enough. Two pills were nothing, it was prescribed that way: "Take one or two every four hours for pain". Two was fine. He'd been through a lot, after all. Six weeks of nothing but misery, but he'd overcome it; proved he was still Martin Fitzgerald, with a big fat capital 'F', until a stupid, freak accident tripped him up again.
It was a minor setback that somehow blossomed into something more. A nagging ache down in his hip that spread up through his stomach and his chest; healed wounds that suddenly sprung to new life. He could feel it like it was yesterday; the burning in his intestine every time he tried to eat, the knife-like pain in his lungs every time he took a breath. And maybe it was all in his head, but it didn't make it hurt any less.
And somehow two pills became three, and four hours became two. But it still didn't matter. He was still Martin, still doing his job . . . "Taking care of business, Danny." It didn't matter that Danny didn't buy it - he wouldn't say anything. Danny would give him that concerned - "Hey, you alright, Bro?"- look, but it didn't mean a damn thing. If Taylor couldn't be bothered with him when he was at death's door, he sure as shit wouldn't give a damn because he was going through a rough spell.
He supposed that's what did him in. The loneliness. It was pretty easy to tell himself that nobody gave a crap anyway. Two pills, ten pills, what difference did it really make? As usual, Jack was too wrapped up in his own problems to pay much attention to him. Viv was on some kind of high - the new lease on life apparently worked for her in a way he hadn't caught on to yet. Sam . . . well, she was friendly enough, but she kept her distance. No use stirring up things that were over. And that left Danny, who was more interested in his beautiful new partner than his damaged old one. Now maybe if somewhere along the line the old Martin had managed to make himself a personal life, it wouldn't have been so bad. But he hadn't. The Job consumed him. Like his father - that disturbing thought causing more heartburn than the bullet.
And so, no matter what, some way, somehow, he had to make it through the day. No time for pain, and that made it okay to take pills in secret - too many, too often. It almost, even, sort of made it okay to take those pills from that missing therapist. So maybe she wasn't missing anymore, and maybe he'd blown her crazy ex-lover away with more fire power than he needed, and maybe he was a bit shaky and a bit strung out because he couldn't get any more drugs - make that pills because drugs just sounded too street-wise, too seedy, too illegal.
And it wasn't that bad, not really. Not until he stepped over the line and stole them from her bathroom. But somehow, it didn't seem so terrible or so wrong at the time. Maybe he couldn't look at himself in the mirror, but that wasn't new. Anything to get The Job done, take care of business. Dad would be proud.
He couldn't swallow them down at first. Some part of the old Martin pushing up through the cracks, like a weed in an old sidewalk, demanding to be seen and heard. But he got so sick, shaking and sweating and puking until he knew he'd die from it and then what? How would his father explain that? He'd tried to throw them away, he had, and just because he needed one more, only one, it didn't make him weak. Digging through trash didn't make him desperate.
And making a bad call didn't make him an addict. Danny had tried to spin it that way, and yeah, Martin had screwed up. He knew it. The Job seemed to be getting harder to get right. So when Danny confronted him after he'd almost gotten that kid killed, he had to at least think about what he'd said, even if it wasn't true. Because he would never, ever put anyone in danger. How could Danny think that? After all, he'd been there - he'd been the victim. He'd never forget what that felt like, being the one left bleeding and scared . . . and alone.
Somehow he was always alone.
But even if Danny did believe it - did believe that he was an addict - apparently he didn't care all that much because he walked away . . . again. Like always. So it couldn't be that bad, right?
It wasn't until Sam came to his apartment and he saw his life, saw himself, through her eyes that he knew the truth. Martin was so far gone that he couldn't really remember what he looked like, let alone what he believed in. He was weak, he was sick, he was afraid, he was lost . . . and maybe all he'd ever been and all he ever would be was the shadow of his father. And she couldn't help him. She said she wanted to, and God knew he wanted to believe her, but she wasn't the one.
He wasn't sure Danny was the one either, mostly because it was terribly, painfully obvious that he didn't want to be the one. Maybe Sam paid him - or blackmail could have worked. She probably knew all kinds of things about Danny that Martin wasn't privy to. But Taylor stepped up anyway, in his usual sparse way . . . "This is where the meeting is. If you really wanna fix this, you'll be there."
It was stupid, really, how important Danny's opinion, Danny's friendship, just Danny had become to him. Somehow the best friend in his life was a man who never really liked him much, and Martin got that. He knew what Danny saw when he looked at him, though in all fairness, none of the Martin's - old, new, dinged, damaged, addicted - were what Danny perceived him to be. His childhood wasn't perfect, his family wasn't perfect, he wasn't perfect. The silver spoon wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and the truth was, he'd probably spent as much time and effort trying to live down his family name and all that came with it as Danny had. Danny was just better at it.
Danny didn't look at him when he went to the meeting. And he didn't visit him when he went to detox. But he called him every day, and he covered his ass with Jack. It was far too easy to get the time off - Jack was distracted and besides, he had Elena to fill in the gaps. And she probably wasn't strung out half the time, risking little kids' lives, or stealing drugs from victims' bathrooms. A better choice, the right choice in the long run, even if Jack wasn't totally aware why he'd made it. Viv didn't know or she'd have been there, and that was fine. She'd already compromised her career for him once, he didn't want her ever doing it again. Sam was trying hard to be a good friend, but there were those big, looming 'buts' in the picture . . . she'd love to be there for him but it wouldn't be good to get his hopes up that she still cared . . . but she really didn't understand addiction . . . but she had to work extra hours because he wasn't pulling his weight again . . . but she had issues of her own. Take your pick.
So that really left poor Danny to deal with him, and somehow, Taylor's terse phone calls became the lifeline, the reminder that there once was a Martin who was a pretty decent guy. A guy who tried to do the right thing, who was committed to The Job, and who wanted nothing more than to be a good friend, a good agent, a good man. He'd hoped just getting off the drugs and attending meetings would be enough to find him again, to get the old Martin back. But somehow it didn't work out that way, it wasn't quite that easy.
It wasn't until that rich kid went missing that he figured out the old Martin would never return, would never be seen again. But that was okay because once he started volunteering at the Shield House, he got a solid glimpse of a new Martin emerging. The addicted Martin would always be there, lurking in the background, waiting for a chance to break free, but somehow he'd hold him back. Somehow he'd make it.
He knew how to think for himself, after all. He wasn't hard plaster that would break into a million pieces when life dealt him a vicious hand and knocked him to the floor. He was pliable, he could bend, he could change into something better. And somehow, someway, some day, Martin would become everything he ever dreamed he could be.