Summary: All those emotional, angst filled moments missing after Showdown

Repercussions: [Webster's Dictionary says:] 1) Reverberation; 2) a reciprocal action or effect; 3) a widespread, indirect, or unforeseen effect of something done or said.

[Hopefully all of these apply.]


Awareness, it wasn't much really, just a sense that there was nothing, no feeling, no sound, no smells, no sights, he noted the nothingness as a curiosity not worth bothering with and then there was---nothing.


Sam continued to sit there holding Martin's hand. She wondered if he'd heard anything she'd said. The nurse told her he wouldn't as he was too heavily medicated to hear or feel or note anything. She sat there, not taking her eyes off of him. There had been times during their relationship that she had lain awake and watched him sleep next to her. She'd found a quiet calmness in watching him then, watching his chest rise and fall, hearing the soft inhale and exhale.

During those few times she had wondered about him, what did he think of her if he ever watched her sleeping? What would he think if he knew she was watching him sleep? Sometimes she'd wonder how long it would be before she screwed up this relationship and then she'd wonder did she want this relationship to go on.

There were a few times she'd gotten so scared as she watched him sleep, scared that she might really care for this man and want him to stay with her forever and then wondered if he'd want the same once he knew who Samantha Spade really was. The last time she'd watched him sleep had been the last night he'd come over.

They'd made love and afterwards, after he'd fallen asleep, she'd watched him for hours remember the feel of him holding her, smelling his scent that always made her knees quiver, hearing his soft voice as he caressed her with words.

What she didn't remember because she had missed it at the time was the sorrow in his eyes, his voice, his face when, after they'd made love and had lain there holding each other and speaking softly, he'd once again brought up the topic of his cousin's wedding and she once again told him she needed more time to think about going. Shortly after he had turned away and fallen asleep and she had turned on her back, rigid in her frustration that he couldn't or wouldn't understand her concerns.

She'd tried to go to sleep and had succeeded in dozing for a quarter of an hour before her nagging brain woke her fully and drove her to spend the remainder of the night thinking and watching. At some point he'd shifted his position so he was lying on his back and she'd turned on her side and studied him in the faint glow cast by the streetlight that snuck around her curtains.

She spent that night wondering at his point of view, something she'd never done before. So, as he slept she watched and she thought about what he meant to her, not only his physical presence but what it meant knowing that he chose to be with her for who she was and what that meant to her; it meant fear but it also meant something she hadn't ever felt before or never even considered she'd need, it meant security.

The next morning, after having slipped asleep finally, when she awoke, he was gone. She discovered that the cold place next to her was unusual and unwelcome, and vowed to do something about it. After she showered and got dressed for work, she stopped at a neighborhood bakery that Martin had indicated made the best bagels and headed to work unsure of this new direction of their relationship but determined to explore it.

When he broke up with her that morning, she was so stunned she could barely breathe. She refused to cry as she'd learned long ago that tears were unacceptable and a sign of weakness, so she refused to even give them a chance to grip her but it took so much strength to keep the hurt at bay she wasn't able to focus on trying to fight back, fight for their relationship.

Suddenly Jack was there and a case was beginning and she was gone the rest of the day barely able to process what Martin had said, not able or too afraid to try to counter him. So, instead of fighting for this new territory, this new way of thinking, she retreated behind her emotional fortress as she had so expertly done many times before.

The days passed, Danny's brother disappeared and she focused on work and on being a friend for Danny. The date of Vivian's surgery was fast approaching and she concentrated on being a friend to Vivian, being considerate of Danny's privacy and pain, taking up as much slack as she could at the office since Vivian was on sick leave which left her no time to focus on Martin's pain or her own as too much else in all of their lives was disrupted.

Then it happened at the end of a long, difficult day. She'd seen to the transport of Paige Hopkins; Danny and Martin were transporting Adisa Teno, Jack had gone to the hospital to check on Vivian and she headed home. She'd just gotten to the garage to collect her car when her phone rang. Recognizing Jack's number she grabbed it eager to hear that Vivian's surgery had gone well.


"Sam, it's Jack."

"Yeah, how's Viv?"

"I just left Marcus. Everything went fine; Vivian is going to be fine."

"That's great news." And it was, so why did Jack's voice sound so strained?

"Sam, there's been a development with Adisa Teno."

"What kind of development?" Why did they care if there had been a development, he was no longer under their team's authority.

"Sam, Danny called me; he and Martin were ambushed, three men, machine guns in a blue van. I need you to meet me at…"

Sam didn't remember hearing the address. She didn't remember finishing the call with Jack, didn't remember sprinting to the car, turning on the lights and sirens. The next thing she remembered was seeing the lights, the ambulance pulling away sirens and lights on full and Jack standing over another man on the ground.

"Jack, how bad is it?"

"Danny's fine. Martin is bad. He's on his way to the hospital; they're doing everything the can for him."

*Martin is bad. Martin is bad.* She heard the words echoing in her head as she surveyed the street. There was the sedan they had been driving metal punched with bullet holes, 20, 30 rounds, she didn't know. The driver's side door was open and on the ground. *Oh, God…blood! Those bandages are covered in blood!*


The sound of Jack's voice broke into her thoughts and she focused on his words.

"I need you to…"

The rest of the day she was on automatic. Running down leads, talking to Danny, getting Paige back into their custody, meeting Victor Fitzgerald, calling the hospital endless times asking, begging, nearly screaming for an update.

Finally it ended. Paige was safe. Dornvald was dead. Martin was out of surgery. When Victor had come into the bullpen and told them that Martin was out of surgery, she'd wanted to break down and cry right there. Instead she stayed silent too afraid to speak. A little later, after Jack returned she heard more news about Martin; he was improving, slightly. Something about his blood pressure holding steady, she really didn't know but it made Victor smile slightly so it had to be good.

At last she'd just pushed all the paperwork into a pile on her desk, grabbed her jacket and keys, got into the car and drove to the hospital. A combination of her resolute determination and her FBI credentials got her into his room.

The nurse explained to her that not only was he heavily sedated and wouldn't be aware of her presence he was also on a ventilator to support his respiration and that even, if he was able to wake and be aware of her presence, there was no way he'd be able to talk to her.

She didn't care. She stepped into the semi-darkened room and stopped letting her eyes adjust. She heard a soft beeping sound, noted lights on monitors flashing, heard the soft whoosh of air from the ventilator as it breathed for Martin and then she focused on him. He lay still and silent on the bed with all the flashing, whooshing, beeping monitors around his head and to the side of the bed.

His face was mostly covered by the breathing tube and the tape that kept it in place. She saw wires running from one machine across the side of the bed and over his shoulder until they disappeared under the front of his gown, another wire or tube ran behind his shoulder and disappeared somewhere down his back, there were IV tubes in his arm, some monitoring device attached to one of his fingers and – she stopped looking and refocused back on his face.

She moved closer to the bed and stood next to it looking down at his face. He was pale and absolutely still. Slowly she pulled the chair close to the bed and settled on it. Reaching for his hand unencumbered by any tubes or wires she held it in one hand while her other hand gently gripped his forearm. He felt cold, she wondered why they didn't have more blankets on him, his skin felt cold. She gripped his hand tighter and rubbed her thumb and fingers over his hand feeling her warmth seep into his hand.

"I'm sorry I didn't come see you sooner. I guess I was afraid to see you like this. I want you to know that I know I haven't been very good at being there for you. But I'm here now, and I'm not going anywhere until I know you're going to be okay."

When she finished speaking, Sam continued to sit there holding Martin's hand. She wondered if he'd heard anything she had said.


Sound, he heard sound. Beeping came from his left, or maybe his right he couldn't tell and didn't care. Again, he simply noted the sound and then there was nothing.


Awareness came again; he noted it without caring, without anything. Again he heard beeping but couldn't figure out where it was coming from and didn't give it much effort. He was tired. He gave up and slipped back into nothingness.


Jack stood at the door to the ICU room and looked at his agent lying amid all the machinery. He'd arrived in time to see Samantha ghost out the door of the ICU. She briefly told him that Martin was 'holding his own' as the staff had told her and that she was going home for a few hours of sleep before heading into the office. He nodded and then let her go.

Upon entering the unit he saw Victor exit a room and approach the nurse's station. After speaking to a nurse he turned and headed towards Jack not noticing him until Jack softly spoke his name. The two men stood face to face in silence for a moment until Victor repeated what Sam had told him: 'holding his own' and then added words such as, 'the next 12 hours are crucial,' 'we'll know more in 24 hours,' 'vital signs are critical but stable.'

As Jack watched Victor speak he could tell the man was having difficulty absorbing the fact that these words related to his son. Victor told him he was heading to the hotel to check on Martin's mother and would be back in a couple of hours. Jack offered to stay with Martin until then.

As Victor left the unit Jack strode to the room he'd seen Victor exit. As he stood at the door and looked inside he saw the form of his agent, silent and still on the bed, attached to machines that beeped and blinked and breathed all in rhythm to his body. Stepping inside he studied the various machines and then took an up close look at his agent.

No management training course, leadership course or anything else in his 20-year career prepared him for what was swirling in his brain. Most thoughts swirled out of reach popping into clarity long enough so that he recognized patterns of the thoughts: Why the hell didn't he have Martin and Danny in vests? Why didn't he order a SWAT escort? Why hadn't he thought they would be ambushed? How did he miss the signs that Dornvald was a killer, a soldier who took his oath to duty and self above all others?

How could barely 48 hours have passed and yet feel like 48 days? Was it really two days ago that he'd stepped through the hospital doors intent on seeing Vivian prior to the start of her surgery?

Was it only two days ago that his worry for Vivian kept him stopping and checking in with the hospital every few hours to check on her progress and finally, at the end of the case, as he sent two of his agents off to be ambushed had he driven to see a third and discovered that all was well.

He'd hung up with Danny telling him the great news that Vivian was going to be fine and was talking briefly with Marcus who said he was going to get a coffee and did he want any? After telling Marcus thank you but no, he watched the man walk down the corridor and was about to dial Samantha's number to tell her the same good news when his phone rang and he recognized Danny's number.

It was barely 90 seconds after he'd hung up. 90 seconds, that was all it took.

Jack tried to imagine what those 90 seconds had been like. When he'd gotten to the scene Danny had managed to tell him he'd gotten the plates of the blue van, called them in; it was Dornvald. Danny had managed to get some shots off but his gun jammed.

Jack numbly sat in the chair that was beside Martin's bed. 90 seconds, in 90 seconds he'd hung up with Danny, talked with Marcus, and declined a cup of coffee. While he was doing that a blue van ambushed his agents, the agents he'd sent straight into that ambush.

A blue van ambushed his agents; men had jumped out and opened fire. From the skid marks and the damage listed in the preliminary report it appeared that Martin had used the car as a weapon to take out one of the shooters and then while trying to get them all out of there had lost control when the tires were blown out.

In 90 seconds all of that had happened plus Adisa Teno was killed. Danny had returned fire on their assailants taking out another of the shooters before Dornvald escaped, in 90 seconds that had happened plus Martin had taken the brunt of the damage, 'GSW to the chest and stomach.' Was it really only 30 some hours since he'd heard those words? Jack's gut still clenched as he replayed in his head the words he's first heard when he got close to his critically injured agent lying on the rain dampened street, 'GSW to the chest and stomach.'

How could that happen in the 90 seconds it took for Jack to decline a cup of coffee with Marcus and bask in the relief that Vivian was going to be all right?

Jack sat there with thoughts swirling in his brain teasing and taunting him but never leaving him. You sent them…why wasn't Martin wearing a vest? A vest, for God's sake, a simple vest, it was part of every agent's equipment, gun, badge, holster, handcuffs, vest…why didn't he have them wear it?

"Because I didn't think my agents were going to be ambushed!" That echoed so obscenely in his head. When he'd said it to Victor, who was he trying to convince, or was he just trying to justify, deflect, protect?

Jack sat there watching his unconscious agent, listened to the constant soft beeping, heard the whoosh of air as it filled his agent's lungs and then exited all by a machine.

Was it yesterday or the day before when he thought that was going to be the worst day worrying over Vivian, now he wondered if there were ever going to be any good days.

Jack sat there and gnawed at those thoughts until he pulverized them but there were no answers forthcoming.


Awareness came, sound came and for a moment there was a thought, shouldn't he question what was going on? Then awareness started to fade taking sound with it and the thought quickly slid away. He didn't care what the answer was anyway and then there was darkness.


Why was it dark? Why am I so tired? Tired, too tired to care he allowed one other realization before slipping back into oblivion; he felt disconnected from his body, everything felt fuzzy and warm and far away. Before giving in completely to the darkness he heard something—there was that odd beeping sound but there was something else…


It was early evening when Danny silently stepped into Martin's room. He'd come several times and watched from afar, he saw Sam, he saw Victor, he saw Jack, he saw Victor again. Finally, on the evening two and a half days after the shooting, Danny claimed a spot in Martin's room.

As he sat there he was glad for the darkened interior of the room, he didn't want to be seen by anyone. He didn't want to have to explain that yes, he was with Martin when the ambush happened but he was fine, thank you for asking. Yes, I did try to stop my partner from bleeding to death.

*Improvement?* Danny wondered at the word. When he'd stopped at the nurses' station they'd said Martin had shown some improvement and they were going to extubate him shortly. Now sitting there with his hands clenched between his knees he leaned forward on the edge of the chair and stared at Martin's pale, still face – the part he could see that wasn't obscured by the ventilator tubing and the tape holding it in place. *If this is an improvement having a machine breathe for you--* Danny stopped that line of thought.

He put his hands to his face and rubbed hard at his eyes and cheeks and massaged his temple barely reacting as his fingertips brushed the bandage covering his stitches.

"I know that machine is only helping you and that you are perfectly capable of breathing on your own, the doctor told Victor and Victor told Jack and Jack told me so, I know that. I also know that they're already starting to wean you off the damn thing and you're doing most of the breathing on your own." Danny softly spoke the words out loud as if hearing them somehow made them true.

"So, pal I'm here. I stopped by several times but even dressed as you are and sleeping you've had a full dance card---"

Danny let the words trail off feeling a sting behind his eyes; this couldn't be happening. He wiped at his face and then checked behind him making sure no one could hear or was paying attention. It didn't matter what people said, he felt guilty.

"So Sam was really upset; she almost cried in front of me. I don't know what happened between you two but I've never seen her that upset before. I told her you'd be fine but she just walked away. Your dad, well, he was your dad, 'hold onto your hat, right?' He was helping in the investigation, well, not sure helping is the right term but he was there barking at Jack, hands into everything, I could tell that your dad was scared. Jack, I don't know, nothing I did seemed right so Jack's probably pissed at me for getting you shot so Victor was there reaming him a new one and I don't know why I'm telling you this---"

Danny stopped babbling and stared at his partner's silent form and heard the beep – beep – beep of the heart monitor.

"I don't guess that beeping sound bothers you; does it? It would drive me crazy if I had to listen to it all the time but you probably don't hear a thing. It feels cold in this room, too. Are you cold? Can you even feel anything? I heard they have you on some strong pain killers and sedatives so I don't know if you hear things or feel things. Probably best if you can avoid feeling anything for a while."

"I got a Vivian update for you; she's doing real well. Marcus and Jack talked and they're going to tell her about what happened in another day or so, until then she's not allowed a newspaper or a television. Don't know how Marcus and Reggie are explaining that to her but Jack said something about some books she'd been wanting to read and stuff so – I want to visit her and see for myself she's all right but at the same time she's going to ask if I'm okay and then….you and I just can't deal with it, you know. I don't understand how it was you and ---" Danny stopped unable to go on.

For several minutes Danny sat there silently just staring, staring at the ventilator as it rose and fell, staring at the monitors as they blinked their information, staring at Martin who was oblivious to it all. Finally he started talking, the words poured out, meaningless, unconnected thoughts ranging from weather and sports to how Rafie was doing, they'd managed to get him a light return on his parole with intensive drug programming inside and then outpatient was being set up for when he was re-released but it was going to be intensive, long-term outpatient treatment.

Danny launched into details of the new roadwork being done by the city on his route to work and the noise and the dust flying about. He kept up a continuous stream of random words just to keep the silence from being silent, anything to drown out the beeping of the monitors…


Talking, there was someone talking. Martin had been alternately struggling to define the sound and ignoring it completely wanting only to drift along on the dark, numb, fuzzy current he was on. At some point the murmuring turned into vocal patterns that slowly developed into a voice he recognized. For the first time in a long time Martin actually had a small glimmer of motivation to try to discern what it was he was hearing beside that beeping that he'd learned to tune out.

For the first time in a long time Martin concentrated and slowly the voice evolved until he recognized it, Danny. Danny was talking, the words made no sense, street work, dust; what is Danny talking about?

Martin struggled to open his eyes and finally, after an intense effort he forced his eyelids apart…

Chapter 1

Eight weeks. It was eight weeks since he and Danny had taken a prisoner on a late night transfer, eight weeks since a man named Emil Dornvald had pulled a blue van in front of the car he was driving, opened the back doors and changed everything, eight short, eight long, eight agonizing weeks.

Martin was exhausted. It was 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning the third week of July, the summer heat was already blazing in the New York City furnace yet he wore baggy khakis with a drawstring waist and a long sleeve Henley shirt. He was cold. 45 minutes earlier he'd caught a cab from his apartment and was just now slowly making his way with the help of his new friend, Mr. Cane, up to the 12th floor.

He had an appointment with Dr. Lisa Harris, hooray for therapy, and Jack supposedly had some papers for him to review and sign. All in all he would be gone from his apartment for a little over four hours including the two-way commute and the appointments in the office yet, only 45 minutes into his 'workday' and Martin was exhausted.

Eight weeks, eight damn long, painful, hazy, lonely, claustrophobic, God I hope I never have to go through this again weeks, all he wanted to do was get back to work, forget Emil Dornvald, forget hospitals, forget physical therapy and forget this damn cane. Yet as the elevator signaled each ascending level to the 12th floor Martin felt something he hadn't felt for a long time, since his first day joining the MPU, Martin was nervous.

He leaned heavily against the paneled wall thankful for small gifts that allowed him not only an empty elevator car in the lobby but an uninterrupted trip to his destination, two events almost unheard of in this building. As he saw the light for Number 12 blink and felt the elevator stop he pressed down on the cane to assist in standing straight. As he straightened as best he could he closed his eyes as soft tissue and muscles protested, reminding him they still had yet to complete their healing.

The doors opened and Martin schooled his face so that the mask of confidence and good spirits, neither of which he felt, slipped into place. He slowly moved forward, turned right and walked down the corridor. His first stop was going to be the bullpen.

Sam had mentioned something about new work stations in the bullpen and that she and Danny had carefully transferred all his things from his old station to similar locations in the new. She said that some of the things he had pinned up didn't fit anymore since none of them had backs to their stations, so she'd collected those items and put them in an envelope and left it in his inbox.

Moving slowly down the corridor he slowed briefly to take in the sights and sounds of the office, experiences absent from his life of late, it was oddly comforting. A couple of agents and office personnel noted his arrival and greeted him cheerfully. He nodded and smiled in return, *yep, thank heaven for all those forced Fitzgerald social gatherings and 'must attend events'*—appearances Martin, must keep up appearances, the sound of his mother's voice echoed in his head.

Making his way to his desk he noted how orderly everything looked, Danny and Sam had taken care. He touched the new light over his desk looking for the switch—oops, touch activated, all right.

"Well, look who is back." A warm voice spoke behind him.

Martin slowly turned allowing an easy grin to appear on his face, Vivian.


Giving her a gentle hug he was barely able to hold back the wince and moan of pain as she squeezed, gently but still too much for his healing body.

"You look good."

"Thanks, you too, when did you get back?"

"Been back a week now."

"Great." Martin suddenly felt awkward. "I have an appointment with Lisa and Jack has some stuff for me."

"Good. Any idea of when you'll be back? I miss you."

"Well, I'm coming along. Physical therapy is slow but, you know how that goes, probably another month and a half."

"All right. Well, don't get too used to sleeping late in the morning, people go missing, we have to find them."

"Yeah, right." Martin felt like he was missing, where was he going to find himself?

Clearing his throat he tilted his head slightly to the clock on the wall, "I'm due in Lisa's at 10:15, better start the journey of not quite 1000 steps." He quipped wondering if it sounded as dull and forced to Vivian as it did to him.

She squeezed his arm affectionately and gave him a look of concern, understanding and – *oh, God, I think that might be pity*, Martin thought.

Walking slowly he managed to make it to Lisa's office without giving away the fact that he was trembling all over. He hadn't walked this much since – well, since yesterday's PT appointment and he was still tired from that session.

Stepping into her outer office he was happy to see the door to her private office open. He didn't relish sitting down out here only to have to attempt to gracefully rise and then move into her private office. As if she sensed his arrival Lisa appeared at the threshold of her door at precisely that moment.

"Martin, come on in."

She moved back into the office allowing him to follow unsupervised and at his own pace. He looked around trying to figure the best place to sit, the couch was inviting but he knew once he was down, he would not be able to get back up. The swivel chairs were also out, not enough support, choosing the chair that had a cushioned back yet rigid frame with arm rests he lowered himself down barely stifling the gasp of pain as the movement aggravated his still healing injuries.

"Would you like something to drink?"

"Water would be great." Martin had been feeling cold and the air conditioning in the building had chilled him but now that he was sitting in the proverbial 'hot seat' he was starting to feel a bit warm.

Lisa pulled a plastic bottle of water from a small fridge in the corner and handed it to him along with a glass. He appreciated that she didn't twist the top off for him, his mother kept doing that for him whenever she came up to visit and it about drove him nuts.

Yes, he'd been shot. Yes, he was weak. Yes, he couldn't do much more right now besides wobble from the bed to the bathroom from the bathroom to the couch but he could open a bottle of water. He knew it wouldn't do any good as his mother would reprimand him for being ungrateful while at the same time want him to not strain himself and all of it would only draw more attention to his injuries so he just seethed and tried not to let it show, appearances you know.

"So, Martin, what do you want to talk about?" Lisa settled in a seat across from him, a pen and pad of paper in her hand. She'd placed a small recorder on the table between them and flicked it on.

He was a bit surprised at the question; it had been phrased as if he'd requested this session. "You don't have some sort of script?"

"No, we just kind of go with the flow of things." She looked at him calmly.

*Great.* Martin thought and looked away.

"Ah, the new desks look great." That sounded stupid inside his head before he said it; after he said it, it sounded more stupid.

Lisa just nodded, "Yeah, they seem to open up the bullpen a bit more. I see your desk is all set up."

"Yeah, Danny and Sam took care of that for me."

"Good. So, when you get back to work, you'll have that all taken care of."

"Right." Back to work, if it took clearing these sessions that was a very long way off indeed. Was Danny having as much trouble with these sessions as he was? Was Danny even required to go?

"Look, Martin, I know this is uncomfortable and difficult, once we find our footing, it gets a bit easier."

"Sure, our footing, any idea where to look?"

"Why don't you tell me how physical therapy is going."

"It's fine. It's good." *If forced torture can be considered good.* Martin thought unconsciously putting one arm across his chest as if to protect the injuries.

Lisa noted the movement. "Martin, it's just you and me. How is physical therapy?"

"I hate it." Martin didn't intend for that to come out. "I mean, I used to run anywhere from one to five miles on any given day, now after an hour which includes water therapy, some light stretches, sitting, standing, walking up and down some stairs – I hate it." *Damn, Fitzgerald, when did you become so talkative.*

"Water therapy, how does that feel?"

Martin tensed noticeably and placed both arms across his torso. "That's all right. The water is warm and helps keep me balanced so it's nice to just take my time and helps me relax."

"Good." Lisa noted the protective posture Martin had adopted so she remained relaxed and settled into her chair. "I noticed you got quite uncomfortable when I asked you about water therapy, why?" Lisa kept her voice carefully neutral.

"I – I'm just not very comfortable."

"Here or when you're in the water?"

Martin was silent and Lisa sat silently waiting him out.

At last he looked her straight in the eye as he answered. "Both."

"Fair enough." Lisa grinned openly.

Another period of silence stretched between them. Finally Martin sipped from his bottle of water before speaking, his voice soft yet somewhat bitter. "It's not like I don't see them all the time."

"True, but it is one thing for you to see them, another thing for someone else, right?" Lisa knew what 'them' meant.

Martin didn't answer, he just looked down.

"So when you look at them, what do you see?"

How could he answer that? If he told her he woke up most nights frantically scrambling for the light to check that he wasn't bleeding, would she admit him to a hospital, anything but that.

Did he tell her that, when he first was able to take a shower again, he winced as the water hit him certain that somehow it would make its way inside his skin and damage his still healing insides?

Did he tell her that, when he used soap over the scars, sometimes he could 'feel' the stinging sensation inside his body as if the soap had come in contact with his injured lung and intestine?

How could he tell her that, when he was doing physical therapy and his body started to sweat, he was afraid to look at his shirt for fear of seeing blood seeping through the fabric.

If he told her any of that, what would she do?

Lisa decided to try a different approach; she could see Martin wrestling with his thoughts. "Do they bother you?"

"Do they bother me?"

Good, he was talking again. "Yes, do the scars bother you?"

"Yes, they bother me."


"Well, sometimes they itch." Martin grinned a little hoping his bad humor would help diffuse the tension. Lisa gave him a small smile in return; her eyes were gentle, not judgmental.

"Fair enough, is there any other way that the scars bother you?"

"It's not like—it's not like I'm—I don't know, it's not like I go around with my shirt off or anything thinking I'm some gift or that now I'm damaged or disfigured ---" Martin stopped, he hadn't meant for that to come out.

"Martin, when you see someone who has been injured or scarred or burned or beaten or anything like that, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?"

"I wonder what happened."

"Do you think they're scary that they shouldn't be walking in public that they should be hiding away?"

"No. I wonder what happened to them. I wonder how they got hurt."

"Do you feel pity? Do you feel like you want to stare at them?"

"I don't feel pity. I guess I wonder what happened and if they are all right."

"So you want to maybe help them?"

"I want to know that someone did."

"Do you think that is one of the reasons that you got into the FBI?"

"I think I probably did because of my father." Martin warmed to this topic, as it was less about what had recently happened to him. Everyone knew who his father was and Martin had worked here for three years now so no one looked at him as having gotten the job thanks to his father. "I think regardless of the relationship you have with your parents you're influenced by what they do for their career."

"So, your father is in the FBI and you wanted to become an agent, was he happy that you wanted to follow his career choice?"

Martin gave a small laugh. "No."


"I don't think he saw this as the right job for me."

"Why do you say that?"

Lisa watched as Martin's face darkened and she heard the hardness in his tone when he responded.

"More like he had plans of a different direction; you, Dr. Lisa Harris are seated in the presence of Senator Martin Fitzgerald – that is if my father had had his way."

"I see. Well, nice to meet you, mythical Senator Martin Fitzgerald." The poor joke did as she'd hoped; it eased some of the tension in Martin's face for the moment, then he continued and the bitterness she'd heard earlier returned.

"I don't know, I think my father is more concerned with appearances and being seen with the right people and in the right place than helping people. I don't think he thought I'd be very good at such an earthy job. And I don't want anything to do with the fakery that seems to make up so much of politics, all show and very little substance."


After the session with Martin was over and he had left the office with the appointment card for next week, Dr. Harris moved to her desk, opened the file she had created for Martin's sessions and flipped to her notes page. There she transferred some of her scribbled notes from the pad she'd used during the session.

Notes from first session with Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald:

In pain, physical, emotional, mental

Frustrated at lengthy recovery; doubts will ever be fit again

Doesn't want to be pitied

Father not happy with Martin's career choice

Martin sees his father as more interested in appearance than substance

Martin is not close to his father yet yearns to be respected by the man, even to the point of defying him

Too proud to ask for help

Too afraid he needs help


After finishing her notes she sat back and considered a brief conversation she'd had with Assistant Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald about two weeks ago. Apparently he'd been in the NYC office for some meeting or another and was getting ready to head back, she assumed to DC but perhaps he was staying overnight in the city to spend a little time with his son.

Lisa Harris didn't dabble in gossip for gossips sake but she did listen and mentally catalogue tidbits to be best prepared when she was called upon to work with agents and she'd heard that Victor was in the NYC area a lot since Martin had been shot. She didn't know a lot about the two men's personal dynamic but she hoped this was good for both of them.

Leaning back in her chair Lisa read through her notes from today's session and thought about what Martin hadn't said as well as what he had said and played that back in her mind with the image and soundtrack playing of his father's arrival at her office…


It was Thursday late afternoon and she was ready to call it quits for the day. Since it was early July the days were fabulously long and the weather was perfect. She was looking forward to getting home, changing into her jogging clothes, grabbing her dog and going for a run.

As she gathered her briefcase and locked her desk she heard footsteps in the outer office and then Victor Fitzgerald appeared at her door gently knocking on the frame.

"Dr. Harris, I was wondering if you had a brief moment."

He looked a bit uncomfortable, not something Lisa was certain she could ever recall him looking.

"Yes, Assistant Director, I have a moment, come in, have a seat." Lisa set her briefcase back down ready to take a seat for this impromptu meeting.

"No, no. I don't want to take any time, I just -- can you give me one second?"

Lisa was a bit surprised when Victor disappeared from her office door and waited curiously. A couple of moments later he reappeared at her door, suit jacket draped over one arm, tie folded and stuffed into the inner pocket of the jacket.

"I come here not as the Assistant Director, I come here as – um – I come here as a father. I just wanted to say thank you. I know you're going to be conducting Martin's sessions when he starts them and I just wanted to say thank you. You have a tremendous reputation and as a father, I'm glad to know that you'll be there to help my son."

With that he stuck out his hand awkwardly, Lisa put hers in his and he gave it a professional squeeze and then turned around and headed out the door.



Martin made his way down the corridor slowly, sitting had been great but it had also allowed his body to get used to not moving and it was definitely screaming at him that it was time for some rest. He hoped Jack was in his office and he'd be able to do whatever paperwork needed and get home, he wanted to lie down.

Making his way to Jack's office he looked into the bullpen and noted that Vivian was working at her desk but Sam and Danny were nowhere in sight, seemed appropriate he thought dully, at least regarding Danny. Coming to Jack's door he peered in and was enormously grateful to see Malone sitting at his desk poring over papers. Taking as deep a breath as his sore chest and lungs allowed he knocked.

Jack heard the knock and looked up and saw Martin, pale and thin but fairly close to upright, at his door. Standing up he motioned and spoke at the same time, "Martin, come in, have a seat."

"Thanks, Jack." Once again Martin tried to move as casually as he had in Lisa's office until he positioned himself over a chair and then settled into it biting back the moan that sought to escape, God he needed to go home and lie back down and take a pill, it was getting close.

Jack closed the door, sat at the edge of his desk and eyed his still healing agent. "You look good." Better than covered in blood and unconscious on a wet street, better than hooked to a ventilator, better than…better than a lot of possibilities, Jack thought.

"Thanks, I – I feel pretty good." Did that sound like as much of a lie as I think it does, Martin couldn't help but wonder. He looked at Jack who was eyeing him critically but thankfully without pity, well, Jack Malone rarely eyed anyone with pity and Martin knew at this point he'd about give up if Jack Malone started pitying him.

"I'm glad this worked out with your appointment with Dr. Harris. I've received the update from your physician and your physical therapist both seem to think you're making steady progress and plan to reevaluate your return to work status in another month, is that what you're expecting?"

Jack decided to get right to the business at hand because, if he was honest with himself, he wasn't sure how to handle Martin right now. If he was really honest with himself, he'd admit he didn't know how to handle any of his team right now.

Viv had returned a week ago and was already chomping at the bit to get out of the office having been cleared for full duty, but he couldn't bring himself to do it just yet. Danny was still unpredictable, more than usual and in a dangerous way this time. Jack hoped that sessions with Lisa would help but it had been eight weeks and it wasn't getting any better. Sam was the only one he didn't have any difficulty with right now and that in itself was disturbing.

He wasn't able to pinpoint exactly what his emotions were having realized that Samantha and Martin had been a couple for almost nine months, it wasn't jealousy after all, he and Samantha had only had an affair and he was well past it having simply needed an escape from a bad marriage and Samantha had been willing and able and while he regretted how badly he had ended it with her, he didn't regret ending it. He loved her, no doubt about that but he wasn't in love with her.

But was she in love with Martin and, if she was, why wasn't she more affected by his near death? True she had been emotional and struggling with her professionalism at the scene but she'd pulled herself through it. Later, after finding out Martin was going to live and coming back from visiting him at the hospital while he was still sedated, she'd seemed---calm, almost fine as if nothing was wrong and ever since then she hardly mentioned him.

Jack realized Martin was speaking and that he hadn't been listening so he tuned back in.

"—therapy yesterday and that's what they told me, another month and they'd do a joint evaluation of my status." *So glad everyone else is deciding what my status is, gee, wouldn't want any say in that, then again right now my status is wilting, quickly.*

"Good, well, it's—it's good to see you. Probably should stop by one afternoon and see how you are but ---" Jack let the words dangle, both of them knew he'd never stop by, they didn't do that. Sure, an occasional dinner after a case or couple of drinks at a bar, but hang out at each other's place, no that was something Sam and Danny did, didn't they?

"Best call ahead so I'm in my best pajamas."

Jack gave a small grin that Martin mirrored.

"I'll settle for an occasional phone call, that way I don't have to worry if there are any dishes in the sink." Hell, Martin thought, he didn't have to worry about dishes being in the sink these days he wasn't all that eager to be eating much of anything.

"Yeah, well, like I said, it's good to see you and I'll be glad when you're back." Jack meant it and he put warmth behind the words and for a moment he saw a flicker of something, appreciation, perhaps even relief in Martin's eyes.

"I'll be glad to get back, daytime television has nothing on what we do everyday. I'll call you when there are any updates and I'll be back next week for another meeting with Dr. Harris."

"Good, she's really good." Jack meant that too. "You got a ride back home?"

"Yeah, I took a cab down, I'll just grab one when I get back down to the lobby. Tell Danny thanks for helping transfer my things over to my new desk." With that Martin hoisted himself back up and started to the door.

Jack stopped him by putting his hand out, Martin took it and the two men shook hands, weird, one had almost died, the other blamed himself despite not having any control over the situation and the best they could come up with was a handshake, still it was something.

"See you next week."


Jack watched Martin slowly make his way down the corridor and then he returned to his desk, grabbed his phone, dialed the security desk at the main entrance and explained that Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald was on his way down and Jack wanted a cab ready to take him home. The guard assured him he'd take care of it.

Hanging up Jack felt a little bit better, maybe he wasn't good at the direct contact kind of stuff but he could do a little behind the scenes. It might not be much but it was something. Settling back behind his desk he picked up the file he had been reviewing and started reading where he'd left off. It took only a moment for his mind to click on something Martin had said:

"Tell Danny I appreciate him transferring my things over to my new desk."

Jack removed the reading glasses he'd just put back on and stared thoughtfully out to the bullpen, "tell Danny" wasn't Danny talking to Martin?

Chapter 2

Danny heard the ring indicating the elevator had arrived at the 12th floor. Needing to get the file he held in his hand upstairs as quick as possible he jogged the last few feet intent on catching the car before it left. As he came around the corner he saw the car obediently waiting as if just for him. Reaching forward he grabbed the doors as they were just starting to close and that's when his eye caught the movement down the corridor.

Looking left Danny saw Martin, dressed in loose fitting casual pants and a long sleeved jersey, slowly making his way down the hall with the help of a cane. *When had Martin gotten a cane?* He watched his friend and partner slowly make his way down the corridor and disappear out of sight and thought that Martin looked thin even in the loose fitting clothes, and he wondered why on a day that was as hot as it was outside he would possibly be wearing a long-sleeved shirt.

As he boarded the elevator and pushed the button for his destination his mind turned over those thoughts as well as his feelings at seeing Martin again. For the second time in less than a minute he wondered when Martin had gotten a cane.

When Danny returned to the bullpen later, he saw Vivian working at her desk. It was great to have Viv back, the office seemed a bit more normal with her there.

Danny walked up behind Vivian and stood behind her waiting for her to acknowledge him.

"Did you need something, Agent Taylor?" Vivian asked not even looking up from the email she was answering.

"I'm just reminding myself again how thankful I am that I didn't take your desk while you were gone. I much prefer being closer to the corridor—closer to the door."

"Um-hmm, so you can make your quick escape at the end of the day to woo some lady?"

"That's it."

Vivian finished her email and hit the send button before swiveling around to look at the younger agent.

"I saw Martin about a half hour ago." She began without preamble.

"Really." Danny feigned surprise.

Vivian's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, something was wrong here.

"Yes, he has a couple of appointments this morning."

"Good, good. How'd he look?" Damn, why did he ask that that was sure to tip her off.

Vivian paused and fixed Danny with an unflinching stare, *gotcha*.

"He looked good considering. You know, a bit thin, a bit pale but that's to be expected. How did he look the last time you saw him?" Vivian asked staring straight into his eyes. She wasn't surprised when Danny's gaze unfocused a bit and his eyes dropped away from hers. *Yep, something is amiss here.*

*How did he look the last time I saw him* Danny thought, *Oh, Viv, you don't want to know.*


Danny had been sitting with Martin and talking to him, saying basically anything that came to mind – even the road construction going on – anything to drown out the sound of that damn beeping machine. Suddenly the beeping of the monitor sped up and instead of maintaining a steady pace it became rapid, almost frantic.

Leaning forward Danny reached out and grasped his partner's forearm in an effort to alert him that he wasn't alone. While he watched he saw Martin's eyes moving rapidly underneath the lids.

It wasn't long until Martin's eyelids fluttered open and shut a few times before at last he was able to hold them open. Danny could see his friend's pupils were dilated with all the meds pumped into his system and he could see by the bleary, dazed way Martin looked around and tried to focus that he was having trouble seeing.

Danny stood up and bent over the bed so he was directly in Martin's line of sight; it worked. Martin focused his attention on Danny and tried to focus his vision, when that didn't work he opened his mouth trying to speak.

Simultaneously many things happened, Danny realized Martin was gagging, panic flooded into Martin's eyes as he struggled against the tube that was choking him, or so he thought, the machine began screaming its alarm, and Danny shouted, "Hey! Help, I need some help in here!"

He turned back to Martin trying to still his weakly thrashing friend who continued to choke and gag on the plastic tube unable to recognize it as help only recognizing that he was gagging and unable to breathe.

Danny could see the panic in Martin's eyes. Suddenly nurses and doctors ran into the room one of them held Martin's legs down and others held him down by the shoulders trying to stop him from hurting himself. Danny placed his hands on either side of Martin's head and forced him to face him.

"Martin, it's Danny. You're all right. Stop, man. You're all right. Just stop. Martin, stop fighting, just stop fighting. You're all right; I'm here and you're all right." Danny forced his tone to remain calm and even.

Danny felt someone roughly push him away, in anger he whirled on the person realizing it was Dr. Ruggio. Unable to see Martin with Dr. Ruggio in his way he listened as Ruggio leaned over Martin, grasped the breathing tube and began to speak:

"Martin, I'm Dr. Ruggio. I'm going to remove this tube, now. Take a breath and blow out, now."

In seconds Danny heard Martin gagging, saw the tubing coiled into a pan and taken from the room, heard the sound of suction as built up mucus and fluid was cleared from Martin's mouth and throat. Trying not to gag Danny stood in stunned amazement as the medical personnel worked efficiently and quietly around his friend.

Ruggio moved slightly and Danny caught sight of Martin, now free of the breathing tube and tape, his breathing aided by nasal cannulas looped over his ears and inserted just into his nostrils. His friend was still confused and tried to move around but Danny could see the efforts were weaker than before. He watched as another nurse appeared with a syringe that she inserted into a port in the IV and it wasn't long before Martin's body sagged on the mattress, his head lolled slightly to the side and his eyes closed again and stayed closed.

"Sir, he's all right now." Dr. Ruggio was saying to him. Danny barely heard him, barely noted some of the staff removing some of the equipment away from the bed and cleaning up wrappers and assorted material used moments before.

Danny continued to stare at his friend's pale face that was now completely relaxed under the effects of the heavy medication. He watched as the doctor lifted the coverings and peeled down the gown front; he didn't want to see but he couldn't look away. In horror he saw the stitches crisscrossing Martin's chest that was mottled purple and blue, saw the tubing from the chest tube and its bloody drainage; he watched the doctor gently touch the incisions with his gloved hand and then place his stethoscope and listen.

Danny remained frozen in place while the staff worked around him checking Martin's injuries, surgical incisions, vital signs, straightening the bedding and covering his wounds again and finally dimming the light over the bed and then Danny, thinking he was alone, sank bonelessly into the chair he had jumped up from some ten minutes earlier.

He leaned forward and his head fell into his hands as he huddled miserably unaware he was being watched.

"Agent ---"

If Danny was startled, he didn't show it, on automatic he responded, never lifting his head.


"Agent Taylor, I'm Dr. Ruggio."

Danny looked up.

"Martin is all right." The doctor held both his hands up as he saw the look of incredulity pass over Danny's features.

"I know none of what happened is all right, but he, right now, is doing just fine considering. What happened is not atypical of a patient who has undergone acute trauma. In all likelihood he doesn't even know what happened to put him here, nor does he even know where here is but he woke up, was confused and began to fight the ventilator and then panic set in as he thought he couldn't breathe"

Danny just nodded and turned back to Martin.

"The sedative we gave him will keep him under for the next several hours and we intend to keep him moderately sedated for the next few days. He really is doing well considering. He didn't do any damage to his incision sites and his vitals are back to where they were before this incident happened."

Danny heard the doctor's words and some part of him appreciated them but for the moment all he could do was lean forward, rest his elbows on his knees, put his hands up to his chin and watch his unconscious partner. Danny felt the doctor's hand briefly on his shoulder prior to him leaving the room but he never turned his focus from Martin.

In his mind he didn't see Martin lying there heavily sedated, he saw Martin plucking in bewilderment at his shirt as it rapidly turned red with blood; he saw Martin slumped to the side trying to look at him as he heard his own voice calling, "Martin. Martin." He saw Martin lying on the newly rained upon pavement, unconscious while he pressed down on the two bloody holes, desperately trying to stop the blood rushing out and hearing the distant wail of sirens.

Danny never saw or heard Victor and Jack arrive, never heard the doctor appraising them of what had just happened, never even knew Jack entered the room and was talking to him; he just stared at Martin.



Vivian's voice penetrated his thoughts and he realized she was staring at him curiously.

"So, are you going to tell me?" Vivian's face changed from all out concern to a gentle smile that reached her eyes as it always did when they talked.

"Sorry, I was just trying to decide if perhaps I should have taken over your desk space, little closer to a window--"As usual he decided to hide behind humor, even if it was poor humor.

"I see, so you aren't going to answer my question." Vivian chided him.

"Which question was that, my lady?" Danny asked moving away, back to his desk where he began to shuffle through some papers."

"I asked you how Martin looked the last time you saw him."

Danny didn't look up from his aimless search at his desk, "Um, I'm not sure, it's been real busy here, you know; only Sam, Jack and I, course now you're back so things will get a little easier."

"Danny--" Vivian tried again letting a little sharpness slip into her tone.

"It's been busy all right. Just give me a break. Why does everyone think it has to be me to see Martin and tell them how he is? Just because we were in the car together, just because I walked away with nothing more than a headache, just because I held my bare hands on his chest for God knows how long until the ambulance came, just because I tried -- I tried so hard but the blood just kept coming and coming and …" Danny stopped as he realized that Vivian was standing right in front of him. He didn't remember seeing her stand up much less walk over to him.

As if he didn't have enough guilt knowing that he'd escaped the ambush with nothing but a small cut and bump on his head but every time someone saw him they'd throw it in his face that he was standing and walking and breathing just fine while at that exact same moment Martin was lying in a drug-induced coma breathing courtesy of a machine or that Martin was lying in the hospital half stoned on painkillers or that Martin wasn't due back for weeks or months or that Martin was now using a cane to keep himself upright, now he had guilt because he hadn't been to see Martin since that day at the hospital, well sort of.

Ever since that day Danny had avoided seeing Martin unless he'd called ahead and confirmed that he was asleep, then he'd stop and leave a note saying that he was sorry he'd missed him while he was awake. Once Martin had gone home, Danny had managed to connect a couple times over the phone and had sent a couple emails that Martin had answered.

"Danny." This time Vivian's tone was softer.

Danny blinked back the memories and the guilt that was gnawing away at him. Turning from Vivian he grabbed a stack of the papers on his desk and started to leave.

"Sorry, Viv, it's just been a lot that's all. Anyway, I'd best find Sam; we've got to head out and canvas a few of the addresses from yesterday where no one was home."

"Okay." Vivian responded resignedly, this wasn't over yet.

Vivian watched as he almost ran from the bullpen down the corridor. Sighing she returned to her desk and grabbed the phone ready to track down some of the information that had been emailed to her on their latest case. As she was starting to dial the phone her gaze fell upon a photo she kept on her desk, a portrait of her, Marcus and Reggie. Reaching out she gently touched the frame thankful that she was still a part of their lives, thankful that it appeared there would be more family portraits and that she'd had their constant support and presence during her own illness.

She remembered her own frustration at being confined to bed in the hospital, only let out for some short walks up and down the hall. Still, that had only lasted for a few days; once she was home she was encouraged to walk several times a day for short periods each time to slowly build up her strength as well as her heart muscle. What had seemed like an eternity was in reality only a few weeks and she was back at work for a week of office duty and then cleared for a full duty, something Jack had yet to accept.

Shaking her head to clear it she touched the frame one last time then took a glance around the bullpen; it was going to take time. Schooling herself she bent to her work and allowed time to pass her by as she sorted through the paperwork of their latest missing person.

An hour or so later movement just outside the bullpen caught her eye; looking up from her work Vivian noted Martin's slow progress down the hall towards the elevators. She could see that this excursion which mostly was spent sitting in either a car or a chair had exhausted him to the point where she could readily see he was struggling to appear strong as he wearily made his way down the corridor to the elevator.

Watching him make his way slowly down the hall brought back to mind the emotions she'd had upon first being told of his injuries…


It was four days since the shooting, four days since her heart surgery when Marcus and Jack entered her room together looking serious. Vivian had brightened at seeing her boss enter the room but the serious looks on both Marcus' and Jack's faces had rapidly dispelled her cheer.

"What's going on?" Vivian looked piercingly into first Marcus' eyes and then fixed her gaze on Jack, she knew it was work related since Jack was there.

Marcus sat on the edge of the bed and took her hand in his, she felt him tighten his grip and she squeezed back knowing something bad was coming.

"Viv," Jack began, "I need to tell you something and while it's pretty bad it could have been worse."

"Jack, what's happened, Sam, Danny, Martin…" She knew it had to do with one if not all of them.

Jack plunged straight ahead.

"Danny and Martin were transferring a prisoner when they were ambushed. Danny's fine, a little cut and a bruise to his thick head," Jack chuckled slightly trying to ease the tension. Vivian's lips twitched slightly but her eyes remained riveted and hard, she knew Jack hadn't gotten to the worst news, Martin.

"Martin was hit twice." Instinctively Jack reached out and took Vivian's other hand in his and held it between his two hands needing that contact right then.

"He's critical but stable. The doctors have already taken him off the respirator. If he continues to improve, he'll be transferred out of ICU in another five days or so. I know it sounds bad but believe me this is much better than it was four days ago…" Jack trailed off as he inadvertently let slip that tidbit of information.

Vivian's eyes widened and her eyes flashed angrily from Marcus to Jack and back before settling on Jack.

"Four days ago, this happened four days ago and you're just now telling me!"

"Baby, we couldn't tell you sooner; your doctor wanted you to have the maximum rest and recovery before we told you and it's only because your latest tests came back so positive that we're allowed to tell you today." Marcus implored needing her to hear him and see the reason. To emphasize his point he bent down and kissed her hand and then brought it to his cheek and held it there.

"Marcus, oh, Marcus, I do understand why but…if something had happened—if--" Vivian stopped as her emotions rose. Swallowing hard several times and then taking several deep breaths she calmed herself again.

"Jack, I want you to tell me everything, now."


As Vivian though back on that day she shuddered at how close it had been and how the next several days were filled with highs and lows, highs of being told she was exceeding recovery expectations and that she would be able to go home sooner than originally anticipated and lows when she was continually not allowed to talk to Martin or see him. Seeing him at that time would have been impossible as they were in two different hospitals but not to be able to talk to him seemed doubly cruel...


She received daily updates from Jack: Martin's being transferred to a step down unit, higher level of care than normal medical/surgical floor but less intensive than ICU. Martin's in a regular room, private, courtesy of the FBI—for once Vivian was glad that Victor Fitzgerald was who he was in the Bureau.

By the time he was in a private room she had been home for several days and she insisted and threatened some level of police involvement if her husband and her doctor didn't okay her for a short visit to see Martin. She'd had enough of telephone or in person reports; she needed to see him for herself.

So, on her 16th day after surgery, the 16th day after Martin had been shot, she was wheeled into Martin's hospital room; the wheelchair was completely unnecessary but she had acquiesced to the absurd demand just to see Martin

The tears welled up in her eyes at that moment as she saw him propped up slightly in the bed that was also inclined a bit to take some pressure off his chest. He looked pale and thin, his eyes were closed and she could see the IV line dripping into his arm and she saw the PCA pump attached also. Marcus quietly wheeled her up to Martin's side, kissed the top of her head and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

Vivian reached her hand out and gently took Martin's hand into hers and stroked it, the tears that had gathered in her eyes leaked out and one of them fell on Martin's hand. She blinked trying to clear them from her eyes *He's going to be fine, why are you crying?* She grabbed a tissue from the box that was next to the bed and quickly dabbed away at her eyes drying the tears. When she looked back at Martin, he was looking straight at her and a smile spread across his face.

"Viv," his voice was no more than a whisper but it was his voice.

"Hey there, you copying me to get some time off from work, bed rest isn't all it's cracked up to be, you know." She smiled at him and squeezed his hand feeling him squeezing hers back in return.

"Good to see you, you all right?" Martin's voice was breathy and soft but it was a wonderful sound to Vivian's ears.

"Oh, sweetie, I'm doing just fine. Doctors are very happy with my progress and I've exceeded their expectations." She wanted to reassure him. Here he was lying there recovering from near death and he was worried about her. Well, no different then her lying there recovering from her own near death experience and worrying about him. They were so alike in so many ways.

"Overachiever." Martin whispered and smiled at her again.

"That's me, always trying that much harder. It's so good to see you. I'm so sorry for what happened."

Martin closed his eyes tiredly and Vivian knew he was desperately in need of rest. She didn't want to tire him and had been warned that whenever anyone visited him the visits were very short or consisted of the visitor sitting and watching him sleep.

"Just rest, Martin, I know it's boring and frustrating but just let yourself sleep." She whispered and reached up with one hand to touch his forehead, slightly warm.

"You came all this way seems rude--"Martin stopped needing to breathe before continuing and she hushed him.

"Don't kid yourself, handsome, I was in the neighborhood." Her levity worked, although he gave her a knowing look, he didn't try finishing his thought, instead he lightly squeezed her hand again and allowed his eyes to drift shut and he relaxed.

She sat there for another several minutes just holding his hand, humming softly and watching him sleep. When Marcus reentered the room, she reluctantly let go of his hand and then tucked the blanket a little straighter on the bed and allowed herself to be wheeled from the room.


Vivian roused herself from her reverie as she saw Jack staring from his desk into the bullpen. Even from this distance she could see he was troubled; it was going to be quite some time before their well-oiled team returned to its former efficiency. Sighing at the realization she'd done all she could at this point she turned back to her desk, picked up the file and resumed reading.

Chapter 3

Martin entered his apartment exactly four hours and 22 minutes after he'd left, the ride home had taken a little longer due to a stalled car blocking several lines of traffic thus requiring the taxi driver to take a different route, a significantly longer one. Martin didn't care; he was home and wanted nothing more than to take a pain pill and lie down.

Staggering into his bedroom he shucked off his shoes and eased down onto the bed. It was still hard to get comfortable at first and he winced and moaned out loud as he settled onto the mattress, pulled the sheet up around him and breathed in and out carefully trying to settle the dizzying pain. *No one to hear, no appearances to keep up*

*Hell, I've been home for three weeks already and still this feels like the first day I got back home.* Martin gritted his teeth with frustration, angry at the pain that never left him, angry at the exhaustion that was as omnipresent as the pain, angry at the pills he had to take and relieved he had them -- just plain angry.

As Martin slowly relaxed his body on the mattress his mind slipped back to those first few days at the hospital after being moved from the ICU to the step-down unit, and the realization of what had happened to him started to clarify. Even now, eight weeks later, it seemed unreal to him that there was a week of his life that was a blank. He didn't remember being in the car with Danny. He had no memory of going to surgery, nothing about those first couple of days on a ventilator and several days under heavy sedation as his body adapted to the blood loss, the multiple transfusions as well as the ten-hour surgery that had been necessary to complete all the repairs and save his life.

Martin didn't remember the day he was taken off the ventilator or how he apparently had awakened periodically to stare at whoever was seated by his bed, sometimes it was his father, other times it was his mother, his Uncle Roger had been there and Jack and Sam and he guessed Danny as well but Martin had no memory of any of that.

Martin's first memory was of waking up in the step-down unit and feeling like he was coming out of a deep, heavy sleep, the kind that happens when you wake up five minutes before your alarm clock goes off and instead of getting up you decide to indulge in five more minutes of warmth, fall deeply into REM sleep and then get jolted awake by the alarm only to feel drugged and sluggish.

Finding a comfortable position on his mattress Martin waited for the pain medication to kick in and dull the fire in his chest and abdomen all the while allowing the words and memories of those first few days to envelop him.


"It's okay, Martin, take it easy." Victor stood beside Martin's bed one hand on his son's shoulder, the other gripping the bedrail so that his knuckles were white.

Martin struggled to breathe slowly as the doctor was telling him. *Shot.* The word bounced like a ping pong ball in his mind and he struggled to catch it and stop it…shot…shot…shot.

"When?" Was the first question that came to mind.

Dr. Ruggio and Victor exchanged glances before Victor decided to field that one.

"A week ago."

Both Victor and Dr. Ruggio watched Martin's reaction. Martin closed his eyes and allowed his mind to process that information. *I was shot a week ago. I've lost an entire week. I was shot a week ago.*

When Martin swallowed a couple of times and reopened his eyes he flicked his gaze first to his father who was watching him intently and then back to Dr. Ruggio, a man that he only remembered meeting today but who obviously had met him a – a week ago.

"How? Was it work? Was anyone else hurt? I – I don't remember – I don't feel anything – I don't feel anything." Martin started to panic as he realized that while he did feel exhausted he didn't feel anything else. *Oh, God, I don't feel anything.*

"Martin, take it easy, you're going to be all right." Victor's hand pressed a little harder on Martin's shoulder trying to make sure his son didn't move around too much or he would feel something despite all the heavy medication pumping into his system.

"Mr. Fitzgerald, Martin," Dr. Ruggio began, "The reason you don't feel anything, as you've said, is because we have you on heavy painkillers and sedatives to help you rest. You are not paralyzed nor were you ever. Trust me when I tell you that before long you will feel something and it won't be pleasant although we will do everything possible to keep you comfortable and minimize the pain so you can rest and your body can heal."

Martin began to relax again as he felt his father's hand on his shoulder and he saw the sincerity in Dr. Ruggio's eyes and heard it in his voice.

"Good, Martin, that's good just breathe slowly and I'll explain your injuries." Dr. Ruggio waited another few moments and then started to explain…


Martin had had several weeks to process the fact that he'd been shot; it was no longer a shock to him to think about it. What was still disconcerting to him was that his memory remained a blank, it was as if there was a blip in his mind; he remembered bits and pieces of the missing person's case and then suddenly he was awaking in a hospital bed.

No matter how often he tried or how much effort he put into the attempt Martin was unable to fill in any of the blanks and while his head had long ago recognized the fact that life had continued on while he lay unaware, recognition and acceptance were not the same; he just couldn't accept that there was nothing, a void. At last the painkillers took effect and Martin faded off into a deep sleep.


"Okay. Easy, son, let me get the door and I'll have you inside in no time." Victor Fitzgerald fumbled with the key ring, Martin's key ring, and finally managed to get the apartment unlocked. He looked at Martin and saw the exhaustion in his son's eyes and decided to risk Martin's wrath and reached forward and steadied his son with his hand on his elbow. Gently placing his arm behind Martin's back he helped guide him into the apartment.

Once inside he followed Martin's lead allowing him to decide, couch or bed. He smiled slightly when Martin opted for the couch, couldn't blame him. Sam had helped Victor get the apartment ready for Martin's homecoming. She had laundered the sheets in the bedroom and remade the bed and set up blankets and pillows on the couch in case that was the resting place of choice.

Sam had also gone out and purchased some items they both hoped Martin would eat, simple things like applesauce and ginger ale, saltines as well as some tea, there was a couple of servings of chicken soup, heavy on the broth and chicken, light on spices and fibrous items like celery and broccoli, there was also several servings of homemade tapioca pudding.

Victor remembered the first time he'd realized Sam was more than a colleague and a friend to Martin and over the past few weeks she'd proven loyal and helpful to Martin and to some extent to Victor.

Victor watched Martin settle on the couch and then he turned away so as not to see the wince of pain and the awkward way his son settled on the cushion. He knew his son, despite what Martin often thought, and knew he'd just frustrate him if he watched him try to get comfortable. Victor also admitted to himself that he didn't want to see his son's pain; not because he didn't care, but because there wasn't a damn thing he could do to ease it and that was unacceptable.


"Victor – Victor, did you hear what I asked?"

Victor blinked his eyes rapidly trying to clear them. For a moment he was disoriented and then he realized where he was, DC, conference room, surrounded by a dozen or so other deputies and full directors for the Bureau.

"Yes, I'm sorry, I was processing some information. What was it you needed?"

"I was asking if you remembered that we have to brief the director of Homeland Security tomorrow morning and if you have all the materials you need to complete your presentation."

"I do have them all done but I'll be conducting the briefing from the New York office via video conference."

Silence met his remark and then the director nodded and stood indicating the meeting was over. Everyone stood and filed out of the room except Victor who was slowly gathering his files.

"Victor, a word, please." The director stood at the door having closed it behind the other men and women after they exited the room.

Victor sat back down.

The director walked back over and took a seat next to him swiveling the chair so that he faced Victor directly.

"It would be best if you were personally in the Homeland Security briefing tomorrow rather than via videoconference."

"I know but I will be just as effective from New York as if I was in the room, the sound and audio are clear, my assistant has all the briefing materials available plus extras for tomorrow."

"I'm not comfortable having you splitting your time between the offices; you're needed here."

"And my son needs me there as well." Victor felt his anger rising and fought to hold it in check, why didn't they understand?

"Perhaps you should bring Martin down here so you can keep an eye on him and then you won't have to leave."

"No. His doctors are in New York City and he needs to be in his home around his friends and familiar things not transplanted somewhere. It was only two months ago that this happened and I just need some more time. It's not as if the work isn't getting done and not as if you don't have access to me 24 hours a day."

The director softened slightly. "No, you're right, the work is getting done and I do have access to you. All right, when are you leaving for the city?"

"I'm catching the 6:00 p.m. shuttle that will get me to New York about 7:00 p.m., and I'll be at Martin's shortly after."

With that the director stood up. "Fine. Just wanted to make sure you were all right. This really shook you up. I've never seen you put anything ahead of work before." Shaking Victor's hand the director exited the room leaving Victor alone with his briefcase and extra files.

Suddenly a chill swept through his body that nearly caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand on end, "I've never seen you put anything ahead of work before."

*Maybe I should have put something ahead of work before. Maybe I should have put my son ahead of work before.*

Thirty minutes later in his office Victor asked Margaret, his assistant, to hold his calls and quickly dialed a number that had, in recent weeks, been committed to memory; it was answered on the second ring.

"Agent Spade"


"Hi, can I come in?" Sam asked taking in the vision of Martin standing, actually standing in front of her, well, standing with the help of his cane.

"Sure." Martin moved slowly back from the door allowing Sam to enter.

Turning around she watched as he closed the door and then slowly and painfully moved back into the room.

"Do you want something to drink?" Martin asked, ever the host.

"Um, sure why don't I get us both some water, okay?" Sam made the trip to the kitchen and back again in record time and noted the almost wistful expression Martin gave her.

Settling one glass within easy reach of his hand she sat in a chair next to the couch.

"I heard you were at the office today, sorry I missed you."

"Yeah, it's been a very busy day. I had a meeting with Lisa and another with Jack. Then back here for a quick two hour nap and I got up in time to take a shower and now you're here."

Sam opted to skip over Martin's frustrated recitation of his 'busy' day; she understood his frustration.

"Good, you're getting closer to returning." Sam kept her voice artificially cheery but took note of the irritated glance Martin sent her way.

"Yeah, it's probably going to be at least another month, maybe more." Martin replied listlessly.

Sam looked around noting the pillows and blankets heaped on the couch, the coffee table moved close with several bottles of meds and a notepad, probably dosing instructions, the TV remote, a book, some magazines, his cell phone, all the amenities. Sipping her water she found herself staring at him as he stared dully at…nothing.

"I wish I could make this easier for you. In a way I do know what you're going through, remember?"

Sam hoped Martin wouldn't bite her head off for the comment but she really did understand much of what he was feeling and thinking and he could open up to her if he only would. Why wouldn't he?

Martin looked at Sam and noted her nonjudgmental almost hopeful expression as if she was willing him to confide in her. Amazing what a couple tiny pieces of lead could do to a relationship, Sam who never wanted to talk about what was going on inside of her was now probing him to open up and Martin who had always hoped for deeper more meaningful conversations now just wanted to keep things on the surface.

"I appreciate you guys taking care of the stuff on my desk." Martin said, changing the topic.

Sam gave a small defeated smile. *Damn.* "Yeah well, sorry we couldn't find homes for everything but once you get back you'll set it up the way you want. Your dad called, seems he's coming up here in a few hours and staying in the city for a couple of days. So you two are doing all right or do you need me to run interference?"

"No, we're doing all right. You two seem awful chummy though." Martin showed a small amount of interest in this topic Sam was relieved to see.

"Yeah, well, we have a common interest." She said softly noting Martin closing his eyes as he lay back on the couch. She sat quietly thinking back to that night eight weeks ago when she'd finally gotten the courage to go to the hospital.


Sam had lost track of how long she'd been sitting in the darkened room holding Martin's hand that felt cold and limp in hers. She'd kept rubbing at it hoping to put some warmth back into it, hoping he'd feel her presence and squeeze her hand tell her he was all right. She heard the soft clearing of someone's throat and turned to see Assistant Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald standing there.

"Director Fitzgerald, I—I should get going--" Sam started to rise although she was reluctant to let go of Martin's hand. Victor waved his hand calmly at her.

"Don't get up, Agent Spade. You're fine. Martin needs his friends as well as his family with him right now. Please, stay as long as you want." He slowly walked into the room fixing his eyes on his son's face, what he could see of it that wasn't obscured by the breathing tube and equipment. Standing on the other side of the bed, his coat folded over his arm he stared down at his son as if looking at him for the first time.

Sam resumed her position feeling her body relax as she did. She didn't want to leave and would have been heartsick if she had. As a minute passed and she watched Victor continuing to stand and stare at his son in fear and wonderment she realized she was intruding on his private emotions and dropped her eyes back to Martin and wondered why she'd ever been afraid to have anyone know about them.

The sound of a chair being drug across the room pulled Sam from her musings. Her eyes flicked briefly to the man now sitting across from her, chair pulled close to his son's side. Victor's hand lay resting on Martin's arm, the simple touch seeming to bring him as much comfort as it did her. Time lost meaning as she and Victor spent the rest of the night in silent vigil bound by the fact that they had trouble showing love outwardly but both in their own way loving the man that lay unconscious between them.


Martin's small moan of discomfort brought her out of her memories and despite her desire to help she sat and watched, allowing him to find a comfortable spot on the couch. She glanced across the room at the clock above his desk and noted that Victor was still a couple of hours away. Her culinary skills weren't much to brag about but lately Martin's desire to eat didn't require much, so she decided to brave the kitchen and see if she could get him to eat something. Standing up she noted he'd found a comfortable position and lay back with his eyes closed. She stepped close to him and gently brushed her hand across his forehead and whispered…

"I'm going to get you something to eat, and then I'll let you rest for when your father gets here. Do you need me to make up the guest room?"

"No, Dad made sure it was ready last time he was here." Martin sleepily responded.




"I'm not hungry."

"How about a little soup and some tapioca pudding, do you think you can try that?"

"Just a little, I'm not hungry."

"Okay." Sam stood up and walked to the kitchen door stopping to look back as Martin lay on the couch, his arm protectively covering his torso. She didn't like what she saw, he was thin, pale, and dressed way too warm for this time of year. Stepping back to his side she gently covered him with the light blanket that had fallen to the floor before returning to the kitchen to heat up some soup.

Later that evening at the office:

Jack stayed at the office until well after 9:00 p.m. Being down two agents for the past several weeks had taken its toll on everyone and now, even though Vivian had returned, Jack was still far behind in his work. Finally he removed his reading glasses and rubbed his eyes in exhaustion. He couldn't do anymore tonight.

Sam had left around 4:00 having indicated she was going to check on Martin and would be following up at her apartment later on in regard to their current missing person.

Danny had left around 6:00 indicating he was off to conduct a brief with the NYC police department that was also assigned to the case.

Vivian had left around 6:30, seeming intent to prove she was up to full duty and to rub his face in it that he'd better recognize it soon. She'd made a point to stop by and bring something else to his attention, something he was already well aware of.


"Good night, Jack." Vivian was standing in his doorway holding the glass door open.

"Good night, Vivian. You don't have to pull these long hours so soon, you know."

"It's not so long when I'm just answering emails, fielding phone calls and working with tech. I could and can do more." Vivian's rich voice contained a mild rebuke.

Jack swallowed and hesitated – he just wasn't ready.

"I know." He replied softly.


"That's it? Okay?"

Vivian smiled. "Yeah, okay. We're going to be fine, Jack. It's going to take time, you, me, Danny, Sam and Martin; we're all going to be fine."

"Sure. Any idea when?"

"No. I just know that I'm not going to stand for it being any other way; and you'd better not either."

"How does Danny seem to you?"

"He's got something he's holding back, I don't know what it is. Has he indicated to you when he's seen Martin?"

"No, not sure he's been seeing Martin." Jack said on reflex remembering again Martin's comment from earlier in the day.

"Yeah, I don't think he's been seeing him either. Might mention that to Lisa, don't you think?"

Jack nodded and rubbed his hands over his eyes. "Yeah."

"Yeah, well, good night, Jack. Don't stay too late."


His eyes dropped to the preliminary analysis from Dr. Harris on Martin. She didn't go into details but she was required to give a baseline analysis and he'd receive progress reports along the way. In the end it would be Dr. Harris who cleared Martin for full-duty once he was physically capable.

Reading the summary for the fourth time Jack had trouble reconciling the words "needs to rebuild self-confidence" with the Martin Fitzgerald he'd worked with for the last three years. His eyes wandered from the report to his computer monitor and almost without awareness he moved the mouse and brought up a file. Clicking the play button he watched the black and white, slightly grainy images display across his screen.

The traffic camera had caught most of the attack on Martin and Danny. Jack was both repulsed by the images and drawn to them, his need to stop it from happening, even eight weeks after the fact, was something he had yet to come to grips with.

He watched the white sedan stop, the blue van pull in front of it and the bursts of light from automatic guns.

He watched the sudden acceleration of the white sedan, watched it smash into the van pushing it slightly out of the image frame.

He watched the white sedan abruptly reverse and saw the bursts of light as the automatic gunfire rained on the car.

He watched the white sedan spin wildly and smash broadside into another car.

It was surreal watching these images, there was no sound except the sounds conjured in Jack's mind. He 'heard' the gunfire, the smashing of metal on metal, the screech of tires on pavement.

He watched as one of the sedan's doors opened.

He watched Adisa Teno fall out of the car and then kneel straight and defiant.

He watched Dornvald walk back into the camera frame. He watched the bursts of light indicative of the automatic weapon and saw Adisa's body jerk violently from the bullets' impact and spin to the ground.

He watched as Dornvald shifted position suddenly and more bursts of light lit up the screen.

He watched as Danny appeared at the rear of the vehicle and fired on Dornvald.

He watched Dornvald disappear from view and Danny continue to fire.

Then there was nothing as Danny disappeared from view and Jack filled in the blanks with what he knew had happened: Dornvald had fled the scene; Danny had continued to fire until the van disappeared; Danny had run back to the front of the car and that's when he found Martin.

Jack couldn't see what happened between his two agents in the car, he counted the seconds away: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen—thirteen seconds and Danny appeared running around the rear of the vehicle slipping and sliding in his haste to reach the driver's door.

Jack knew Danny has already called for backup before he tried to get Martin out of the car. He knew Danny had already called in the description and the license plate of the van. He, himself, had already received Danny's frantic call about the attack.

He watched in fascinated horror at the images the camera had managed to capture: Danny ripping the door open; Martin limp in Danny's arms being eased to the wet pavement; Danny pressing down on Martin's torso, glancing wildly around him. Jack could tell from Danny's posture he was talking to Martin.

Jack reached forward and clicked pause freezing the image of his two agents, one bleeding and unconscious, the other desperately trying to stop the blood and pleading with his partner to hang on. In that moment Jack realized that his two agents were still locked in that moment in time, Martin was still injured although he was struggling to refute that; Danny was still trying to control the situation even though inside he's screaming that nothing is right.

Jack rubbed his hands over his eyes wondering how and if he was going to rebuild his team.