Disclaimers: I own nothing related to WAT and do not profit from this fic.

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. It’s 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 they’re 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 he’d 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 he’d 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 wasn’t fooled but it didn’t matter, because Martin would be fine eventually. He’d 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, she’d nervously entered the office for the first time in months, wondering if she’d 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 she’d 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 she’d 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.

She’d never forget when they told her. It was Jack and Sam, uncomfortable and awkward and downright nervous, and Viv couldn’t 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 couldn’t 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 Martin’s 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 didn’t think they’d lie about that, but Jack was already in full protective mode, trying to shelter her and protect her. She’d never been coddled in her life and she wasn’t about to let him get away with it for long.

They’d 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 she’d liked to have at least had the opportunity to offer up a prayer on his behalf. She’d 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t want his support at the time. And she was irritated with Samantha for finding out about her condition when she’d first been diagnosed. She’d even insisted that Sam keep quiet about it, keep it to herself . . . “don’t tell Martin”.

But Danny . . . Danny was a mess, and seeing him so visibly devastated was almost like seeing Martin looking bad – it just didn’t 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”. He’d rambled almost incoherently, “Well, it was . . . you know . . . we didn’t 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 didn’t visit Martin much. She probably should have called him on that, but she didn’t. 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t. 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 didn’t 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 he’d 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 she’d lost her mind, and she knew this was one time she wasn’t going to get her way. In fact, he didn’t let her out of the house until weeks later, and by then, Martin was home.

She didn’t 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 he’d 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, I’m fine.” “Yes, Jack, I’m resting.” “No, Jack, I won’t 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 she’d let him rein her in as long as she had.

Jack didn’t talk about that night, either. She knew he’d 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 wasn’t, and she nearly called him on it, but he would have looked away and ignored her, so she didn’t push him.

In the end, it didn’t 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 Viv’s 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 hadn’t visited Martin either, judging by her expression when she saw the cane. Surely she knew? Surely she’d been in touch? Well, maybe not . . . apparently not. And Viv really, really wanted to get to the bottom of that, but Samantha wasn’t talking and Viv wasn’t pushing.

She saw Martin again at the end of the day. Why he was still there, she didn’t 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 wasn’t fine.

“Martin? Are you alright?” she asked. And for once she wished he’d open up and tell her the truth. He’d tried to once before; tried to come clean about the Reyes shooting and his internal struggle with that, but they’d 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 wasn’t the least bit surprised when he answered, “No. Thanks. I’m good.”

He wasn’t good. But he wasn’t ready to talk, and she couldn’t exactly blame him. She wasn’t sure what she would say anyway; maybe something along the lines of, “Almost dying really sucks, doesn’t it?” When it came down to it, she wasn’t 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 other’s backs, but don’t get too close or pry too hard.

Don’t push.

+ + + + + + +

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 wouldn’t 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 wasn’t fooled about the physical therapy. And he wasn’t fooled that Martin felt “good”, but he wasn’t 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; he’d learned from the best.

Notifying Fitzgerald senior was one of the hardest calls Jack had ever made, preceded by the worst call he’d ever received. He’d waited until he got to the scene to make that call, hoping and praying that it wasn’t 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. Danny’s 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 wasn’t 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 he’d never, ever get the image of Danny’s hands--waving about in mindless distraction, covered in his partner’s blood--out of his head.

He didn’t know what he was going to do with Danny.

He’d called Sam on his way there that night, and that wasn’t an easy call, either. What was going on between her and Martin was a mystery Jack tried hard not to dwell on, but he wasn’t stupid. This would be hard on her. He kept the conversation short, mostly because he really didn’t know anything. “Martin and Danny were ambushed,” he’d said, “meet me at the scene.”

She gasped, but only whispered, “Okay,” before she hung up. He wished he didn’t know her so well; wished he couldn’t 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 didn’t miss much--but she put on a brave front. He wished he could tell her that she didn’t have to, that she could give in a little, but there wasn’t time. There was too much to do, and wasn’t that the story of his life? Family, friends, emotions . . . secondary to the job, of course, and maybe some day he’d figure out why it - why he - had to be that way. Maybe he could blame it on his father.

He didn’t think much about Martin possibly dying because it wasn’t 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. “I’m sorry to inform you, but there’s 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. He’s on his way to St. Vincent’s Hospital.”

Dead silence--Jack wasn’t 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 wasn’t enough. But Jack begrudgingly altered that opinion as the day wore on. Victor made faulty judgments and half-baked decisions, and if that wasn’t enough to show he wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t his fault, and to let it go.

Easier said than done, and Jack knew that better than anyone. He couldn’t let much of anything go when it came down to it, but this was different. If Danny couldn’t 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 hadn’t counted on when he’d 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 hadn’t 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 he’d 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 didn’t 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 saw him.

Except it didn’t 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 he’d 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 he’d 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 didn’t 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 a bit.

Martin didn’t 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 didn’t 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 they’d get through it. He’d 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 hadn’t mentioned it when she’d talked to him on the phone. But then, she had a feeling there were a lot of things he kept from her. He hadn’t 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, she’d said to Danny at the time, or something similar. That was mostly to get Danny’s 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, she’d be the friend she should have been before. If nothing else . . .

She promised she’d be there for him . . . until. Until when exactly, she wasn’t 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 felt.

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 didn’t lose him, and she had stayed by his side; she was there for him even if he didn’t know it. She even held his hand sometimes – when no one was watching - at least until she was effectively dismissed by Martin’s mother.

“It’s sweet of you to visit, dear, but I’m 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 she’d 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? He’d ended their relationship, so maybe she was just playing the role of the clingy, jilted ex-lover and maybe she didn’t 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 wasn’t that easy. And even though she’d been let off the hook, she went to see him anyway. Late at night, after work, she’d slip in his room when he was asleep and Mommy Dearest was long gone, and she’d just watch his bandaged chest rise and fall and she’d try not think about how fragile and weak he looked.

It just wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 didn’t see him at his apartment when he was finally discharged after almost two weeks at St. Vincent’s. She tried, but either he was having therapy or he was asleep or he just didn’t 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 didn’t want her to see him.

Maybe she should have been offended or upset by that, but she wasn’t. It was undoubtedly some kind of Fitzgerald pride thing . . . lick your wounds in private and for God’s sake, don’t let the world know you’re hurting. And to be honest, she was relieved. What would she say? How would she act? Because maybe she’d 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 else.

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 hadn’t 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 didn’t 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, she’d had horrifying visions of what might have happened all the way from her apartment to the scene. Unfortunately, her normally overactive imagination wasn’t far off this time.

Jack was talking to her, telling her to focus, and she did because she always listened to Jack. She didn’t understand her relationship with him any more than she did her relationship with Martin, but he’d 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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, she’d fall apart. So she walked away from him and let herself have a good seven minute cry, and then she moved on.

But Danny didn’t. 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 didn’t seem relieved. She didn’t 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 didn’t hear and probably wouldn’t 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 wasn’t ready to come back.

Danny wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 couldn’t understand what had happened.

He had no idea; it never crossed his mind that Martin was hit. Danny’s head was fuzzy and he wasn’t 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 he’d have been right there with Danny. Martin was always right there with him, even when Danny wasn’t 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 couldn’t have, he just couldn’t have been hit by the gunfire that Danny initiated afterwards.

Danny couldn’t 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 didn’t want to hear about ‘survivors’ guilt’. He knew about it, read about it, and it had nothing to do with him. He wasn’t stupid . . . he didn’t have some insane, illogical desire to swap places with Martin. He didn’t lay awake at night thinking that it should have been him.

But it was still unfair. Martin was a good guy and he didn’t 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 he’d 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 he’d ever had.

Martin would get a kick out of that. If he knew, which he never would because Danny wasn’t going to tell him.

Just like he’d never tell Martin about that night . . . how he’d pulled Martin out of the car and pleaded with him to hang on, how he’d screamed for an ambulance (in English and Spanish), how he never did get his head checked, how he’d lied to Sam . . . and to Jack . . . and to himself.

He’d 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, I’d have been fine if you’d 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 didn’t want to see Martin hurt and Martin probably didn’t 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 they’d put him in. Martin’s first words, in fact, were, “How’s Danny?”

Jack had told him that. Jack had also told him that Martin didn’t 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 Martin’s body.

Martin took a shaky breath, like maybe he was already worn out, and he asked, “Y’okay?” and Danny almost laughed at the absurdity of the question.

But he didn’t laugh; instead he took Martin’s hand (and no one would ever know about that, either) and he said, “I’m fine, Martin. Don’t 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 didn’t go back after that. He tried. He drove into the parking garage at the hospital and later at Martin’s 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, cool.

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 wasn’t walking a tightrope, wasn’t 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, he’d had fifty-six bullets fired in his direction and missed every single one.

Just because Martin wasn’t so lucky didn’t mean Danny was feeling guilty. Just because it took him days to get Martin’s blood out from under his fingernails didn’t mean he couldn’t 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 didn’t mean he had a death wish or some need to prove that life couldn’t 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 wouldn’t notice.

I’m good. I feel fine. Fantastic! It’s 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 - he’d 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 he’d been told, both of those things were in serious question not so long ago.

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 wouldn’t 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.

He’d talked to her on the phone several times while he was recuperating, and every conversation was hard, mostly because he was afraid he’d 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 wasn’t 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 couldn’t figure out how he was going to get through the next day, the next hour, let alone the rest of his life.

He’d 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 gave in.

But the pain wasn’t the half of it. Breathing was hard; eating was worse. He couldn’t 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 didn’t know exactly what symptoms he was going to choose not to have.

He saw Jack next, and he was pretty sure he didn’t get anything over on him. But that was okay because he knew Jack wouldn’t call him on it. Jack seemed pleased to see him, proud even, and Martin still wasn’t above relishing any measure of respect he found in that man’s 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 wasn’t stupid. Besides, he knew the man would be too uncomfortable and preoccupied to notice that he wasn’t 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 didn’t need any help to lie on his couch and not eat.

He just couldn’t do it, he just couldn’t face them. He felt so weak and totally foreign to himself and he didn’t 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 weren’t all there, watching him. There was probably something insanely wrong with that kind of thinking, but he wasn’t going to think about it and he wasn’t 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. He’d been pretty hazy through most of the first four or five days, but he knew he couldn’t take much more of his father’s guarded concern or his mother’s stern commands . . . and how long would it be before they reminded him that they told him he didn’t belong in the FBI?

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 hand.

Sam . . . God, she looked good.

She said she’d visited him, so he guessed at least some of those visits were real. And damn, it meant she’d probably met his mother . . . the sure kiss of death for any relationship. Not that they had a relationship any longer.

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 couldn’t trust it. Deathbed confessions don’t mean much because . . . well, because there’s no future to hold them to, no real consequence. Hell, you can promise anything you want to someone who’s on their way out because how will they know if you stick to it or not? So maybe he wasn’t 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 wasn’t anyone except Viv nearby watching, it still counted) . . . and he couldn’t 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 she’d 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. He’d just be regular good-guy Martin – as opposed to wounded martyr Martin - and she’d still be conflicted and scared and half in love with Jack.

Fortunately, Jack actually gave him stuff to do, so he didn’t 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 he’d come face to face with Danny.

Danny looked like he wanted to turn the other way, and he knew it shouldn’t bother him, but it did. Just like it bothered him that Danny never came back after that one night at the hospital.

He’d never, ever admit that, though, which was why he cut Danny off pretty quickly when he started to apologize. It wasn’t a total lie; he was pretty out of it. And really, it was for the best that Danny didn’t 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 didn’t think Danny had the stomach for . . . and Martin’s stomach couldn’t even handle jello.

He remembered more about that night than he let on, but he didn’t 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; Danny’s face. He thought at first that Danny had been hit, but he couldn’t catch his breath to ask him. And then he saw the blood--his blood--and it still didn’t make sense. Danny was calling to him, pulling him from the car, and pleading with him to hang on . . .

He’d asked about Danny repeatedly, from what he’d 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 “Y’okay?” 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 he’d 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. They’d 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 other.

Count on each other . . . he’d 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 didn’t. 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 didn’t pay any attention to rearing their ugly heads. Maybe he’d 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, you’re 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, he’d been acting his entire life, so it wasn’t so different really. He’d just have to come up with a few more jokes and sarcastic comments.

If he practiced hard enough, Jack wouldn’t know that he was scared to death that their new member would steal his place on the team . . . along with Jack’s hard earned respect.

And Sam wouldn’t know how much he wanted her to look at him the way she’d looked at him today every day.

And Danny wouldn’t 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. It’s 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

"Fragile" -Sting