"Martin's wounds had glass in them."
"I don't follow." Lisa Harris said as she stared evenly at Danny..
"The bullets came through the glass." Danny said almost impatiently.
"Don't you see?"
"Danny, there were bullet holes in the windshield, and riddled across the body of the car, of course there would be glass."
"No, that's not what I mean." Danny paused and then launched into his explanation.
"The bullets came through the driver's side window." There, he'd said it.
Dr. Lisa Harris sat quietly; some patients responded well when queried, they wouldn't offer the information but ask the question and they'll answer, other patients, patient like Danny, would tell you when they were ready, push them and they retreat.
Lisa had been working with Danny for the past few weeks and while they had covered a fair bit of territory and made some progress, there was a lot of ground yet uncovered, and a lot of hidden pain.
Danny, like so many agents, liked to be in control and liked to show only confidence. His defense when confused or hurt, humor; he used not only to amuse others and himself but to deflect.
It had taken a lot of work but Lisa had managed to reach beyond the humor and was only now beginning to coax to the surface some of the raw pain and guilt buried beneath. Today's session lacked much of what had filled the previous ones, humor, deflection; today they were working.
"Martin got shot because of me. Because Dornvald was firing back at me and I was I was using the car as cover." Danny's voice dropped so low that Dr. Harris had to resist the urge to lean forward to ensure she heard him correctly.
After waiting a moment she decided to parrot the question back to him to make sure she'd heard it, as well as to get him to continue his thought.
"You said you were using the car as cover?"
"That's right. I heard the gunfire when Dornvald killed Adiso Teno. I bolted from the car, got to the rear of the car and fired on Dornvald."
"Why did you go to the rear of the car, why not to the front?" Lisa was leaned back in a relaxed posture in her chair, her notebook and pen at the ready and she subtly made noted but the recorder in the room did the real job and she'd get the session transcribed later; her movements were minimal so as not to distract or threaten or in any way intrude upon the patient's thoughts or space.
"If I went to the front of the car and fired on Dornvald I'd put Martin in his line of fire since Dornvald was slightly behind him and to the side."
"Then what happened?" Lisa jotted another quick note.
"I fired at Dornvold, missed, he dove for cover, the driver of the van appeared and fired at me, I fired back, hit him and he went down, Dornvald appeared, fired, I fired back, my gun jammed, I ducked down, cleared the jam, Dornvald fired again and then he was gone."
"So you picked the only position available to fire at your attacker and keep your partner out of the line of fire?"
"Yes, and got him shot."
"Why do you say that?"
"Don't you get it?" Danny said in increasing frustration. "When Dornvald was running for the van and firing back at me, Martin was in his line of fire and that's when he got hit."
"Do you know for certain that's when Martin was hit?"
"It's the only thing that makes sense."
"Because Martin was shot twice while all you got was a cut to the head and a bruise?"
Danny glared in anger at her but Lisa calmly held his gaze without judgment in her eyes, at last shocked and defeated, Danny slumped back against the back of the chair.
"Danny, do you think Martin wishes it was you that had gotten shot?"
"Then why do you wish it had been you that had been shot?"
"It would be easier to deal with." Danny admitted not meeting her gaze.
Danny opened his mouth several times before finally allowing the words to quietly escape.
"For me." And that admission made him more confused.
"Do you think that that would make it harder for Martin?
Danny lifted his head up, confusion clearly evident in his eyes, "NowaitI mean, that's not what II don't know. No, I think it would be easier for him too."
"Why do you think that?"
"Because that way he wouldn't have to carry the burden he's carrying."
"That's right. He'd be carrying yours instead." Bingo, she nailed him and she knew it.
Danny slumped back into the chair seemingly defeated by the circles they were talking in.
"You don't know that."
"Oh, so you think Martin wouldn't have any guilt if it was you that had been shot?"
"No, that's not what I'm saying, I'm saying he probably would have moved to the front of the car when Dornvald started to run and would have kept the line of fire away from the driver's seat."
"Is that what you think?"
When Danny didn't answer but began to retreat into himself Lisa decided on a different tactic.
"So, you're saying that if you had been driving and Martin had been the passenger and hit his head and briefly lost awareness that, when the gunshots that killed of Adisa Teno happened, he would have bolted from the car, drawing the shooter out of the driver's seat line of fire, fired on the shooters, killed the driver of the van, and then in the space of what 7 10 seconds at most would have been able to clear the jammed gun, and then also recognized that strategically it was best to get to the front of the car since the one remaining shooter of the three that have made themselves known would now be in a position to return fire on you thus putting the driver's position in the line of fire?"
"Yes." The word was so softly spoken Lisa barely heard it, but it was spoken.
"Danny, did you exit the car and go to the rear of the vehicle to keep Martin out of the shooter's line of fire or did you go to the rear of the vehicle because it was the fastest position you could take rather than exiting the car and swinging wide around the open passenger door and going to the front?"
Danny just looked at her in shock, his mouth opened and closed twice before he looked away and Lisa knew she had him.
"I should never have gotten out of the car. I should have just let Dornvald kill Teno, hell he already had by then, and should have just played possum then we wouldn't be here."
"You're right, we wouldn't."
Danny glared at her and Lisa bit back a smile, good, anger is better than defeat.
"You'd be buried in the ground and so would Martin. Two new agents would be fumbling their way around learning the ways of the MPU and we'd have hung yours and Martin's pictures on the wall with the other agents killed in the line of duty."
"You don't know that. There's no possible way to know---"
"Agent Taylor, I may do my work in the office and not carry a gun but I am an agent and a doctor with the FBI and I understand the profile of a crime sceneyes, a crime scene. Do you really believe that Emil Dornvald took on two FBI agents transporting a prisoner with no SWAT escort, no back up of any kind, brought two heavily armed gunmen in addition to himself, with hundreds of bullets at the ready through automatic guns with the intent of only killing Adisa Teno? That once that act was done he would calmly climb back into the van and quietly drive away?
If you really believe that then you are a poor agent. Dornvald came after you and Martin knowing full well the two of you were alone and he was armed with enough firepower to kill the three of you over a hundred times. He had no intention of just putting one bullet into Adisa's head and leaving the scene, if he did he would have driven your car off the road, held you two at gunpoint and killed Teno and then left. No, he ambushed you at a light, in a quiet area, late at night no back up anywhere around.
He blinded you both with gunfire and took you off guard; you were lucky his first salvo didn't kill you both or injure you. Danny, if you had stayed still in that car, you'd be dead. Dornvald would have killed Teno; he would have shot Martin to death and then you. Tell me I'm wrong."
Danny was silent as he listened to Lisa's words. The words evoked images that haunted him in the middle of the night, during the day, images that no longer how long he lived he knew he'd never be free of. He saw the doors of the blue van swing open, the flashes of light as the automatics fired; the smell of burning rubber filled his mind as did the smell of gunpowder. He hated all of it; mostly he hated the sound of the panic that he heard in his own voice shouting to Martin, "Back up! Back up! Easy! Easy!"
More than that, Danny hated what Lisa was saying because he knew deep down inside; Lisa was right. There wasn't anything that he could have done; what he had done was all he could have done and it just wasn't enough.
"Doesn't make it better."
"I want you to do something for me before our next session, deal?"
Danny nodded his head.
"I want you to take a sheet of paper and, as cliché as it may be, as cornball as it may sound, I want you to make a list of all the reasons you wish it had been you that was shot and not Martin."
She had Danny's attention fully and she held his gaze a moment before dropping the other shoe.
"And, I want you to take a second sheet of paper and I want you to make a list of all the reasons you don't want Martin to be the one who made the choices you made and to be carrying the burden you're now carrying."
With that Lisa stood up, signaling the end to the session, "I expect you to bring both lists to our next appointment, deal?" She held out her hand for him to shake.
"What do I get out of the deal?" Danny asked not yet taking her hand.
"An hour of my time." Lisa responded smiling.
Danny cracked a slight smile and reached for Lisa's hand. "Deal."
It was Saturday. Danny stood outside Martin's apartment unable to bring himself to knock on the door. Why hadn't he called first? What if Martin was asleep, or had company, or didn't want to see him. Suddenly he heard the click as the locks in front of him turned and the door opened to reveal Martin standing there in front of him.
"You going to stand out there all day?" Martin asked looking pale and thin but a little better than the last time Danny had seen him, well, sort of seen him, actually hid from him. Martin's eyes were dull but there was a ghost of a smile on his face.
"II" Danny stopped as he realized he was stammering. Without trying to finish his explanation he stepped into Martin's apartment as Martin stepped back, still moving with the aid of the cane but definitely looking a bit steadier on his feet.
"I heard footsteps stop at my door almost two minutes ago. I decided to check out who was there. Why didn't you just knock?"
"I didn't want to wake you." Danny managed to choke out. He didn't look at Martin but he heard Martin close the door and click the locks again. Turning Danny watched as Martin slowly but surely moved to the couch where he had obviously been relaxing and reading. Danny wandered around a bit before settling awkwardly in a chair.
"Listen, man, II know I haven't been around much, I"
"It's okay. I've been pretty out of it anyway. Plus, I know that you guys are still down an agent and that Viv only got back a couple of weeks ago so---"
"So, we're good?" Danny didn't care that there was almost a pleading sound in his voice.
"Yeah, man, we're good, no worries." Martin shifted slightly on the couch his face pinching as still healing tissue pulled.
"Good. So, how's the physical therapy?" Danny groaned inwardly, did he really just ask that question?
"It's fine, at least I get out of here three times a week."
"Good." Danny just nodded feeling like an idiot. Why had he come here in the first place? He used to be able to joke with Martin about most anything, hell, he'd had the man's blood all over him, why was this so hard?
Gulping back the nausea that threatened Danny desperately sought something to say, anything to break the tension and his mind latched onto the one thing that he did not want to talk about. "How have your sessions been with Lisa?" *Dammit, Taylor!*
Martin for his part didn't seem aware of Danny's inward struggle so caught up in his own morass of thoughts and emotions. Hearing the question he just halfheartedly snorted and then replied, "I'm supposed to discuss my feelings in therapy with Dr. Harris and I don't have the slightest feelings about 'the incident' because when I try to think of it everything is just blank.
The shooting, the whole'incident' as everyone keeps referring to it. I don't remember anything about it."
Danny snorted, incident, yeah, it was an incident all right. One big frigged up incident.
"Yeah, well, consider yourself lucky." *Oh, man, did he really just say that out loud?* Danny thought.
Martin looked at him for a moment and then turned away, "I don't know, Danny, is it lucky? I mean one minute you'reyou'reI don't know how to explain it, you're 'nothing' and then all of a sudden there's 'something."
Martin stopped but then plunged forward, he was tired and he hurt despite the pain medication and he just didn't care anymore if he was sharing too much or not enough. Everything seemed to have changed and he just wanted 'normal' back or whatever it didn't really matter.
Martin looked at Danny but really didn't see him he was off in his mind piecing together flashes of memories or images as he resumed speaking. "There's people there, sometimes you know them sometimes you don't they keep saying things like "you're going to be fine and all you can do is wonder, what are they talking aboutand then things are blurry and you don't really feel like yourself, you're all fuzzy and numband then different people are there and they're saying stuff like it's okay. You're going to be fine, or you're doing great and you are so confused as to why they're there and were they the ones who just said those same words a minute agoat least you think it was a minute agothen things blur some more.
After a while things clear a bit and you realize who is in the room with you now; your father, mother, Sam, sometimes Jack, there's nurses and a doctor. It seems you open your eyes and look at someone, then you blink and someone else is there only that blink is really hours, sometimes a day or even more andand it's all so unreal.
Finally people start telling you what happened and you listen to them relating the 'incident' without once feeling like it has anything to do with you becauseit couldn't possibly have happened since there is nothing, you search your memory for it and it's just blank, empty, nothing.
Then the doctor comes and checks your incisions and you realize what he's doing hurts. You look down at what he's doing and you see stitches, and tubing and red lines where the skin is irritated andand you realize that what people have been telling you has happened actually happened.
It's like everybody knows all the details about this profound event that happened in your life and the crazy thing is you don't remember it at all, all you have are the versions that other people tell you.
But then again, Danny, maybe I am the lucky one. I don't remember it but looking at you. I can tell that you do and, man, you look like crap. So maybe you're right, maybe I'm lucky 'cause I don't remember, maybe you knowing what happened makes you the unlucky one."
Danny sat there barely able to breathe as he let Martin's words roll over him and echo in his mind. How could it be lucky to have these memories, he wondered and just as quickly wondered that he'd rather have these memories than Martin's pain or would he?
For several minutes the two men sat in silence both wrapped up in their thoughts, thoughts of their own pain, physical, emotional, mental, and the burdens that the other was likely carrying. As the clock on the wall silently clicked away the time there was silence in the apartment but there was less tension in the silence than at the beginning of Danny's visit as each seemed to absorb some of the emotional unrest of the other.
Not even aware he was speaking Danny whispered softly but Martin still heard, "I don't know, Martin, I just don't know who's lucky in this."
Martin shifted a bit in his chair. He was back for another session with Lisa, his third or fourth now, they were blurring a bit and he still liked them as much as he liked physical therapy which meant not at all.
He still wasn't sure what these sessions were supposed to accomplish. Was he supposed to remember the shooting? He'd read the reports of the shooting but all that did was provide a description, it didn't trigger any actual memories. Martin still had a blank spot. He remembered being on the sidewalk with Sam outside the Makeban Consulate, remembered Paige Hopkins shooting General Gamba. There were vague snatches of getting into an elevator with Danny and then being in a car.
The next sort of clear memory for him was waking up in the hospital and seeing his dad sleeping in a chair next to his bed. The memory of seeing his father sleeping in the chair next to his bed was something that even now, several weeks after the event, still puzzled Martin maybe puzzled was the wrong word, surprised, shocked, gratified, he really didn't know.
He knew his father loved him even if he wasn't demonstrative about it but that day when he saw his father looking so so unlike Assistant Deputy Director Victor Fitzgerald and more like some of the fathers he'd dealt with over the years who are afraid they've lost something precious Martin started looking at his father a little differently. He was both uncomfortable with the change and welcomed it, odd.
What he was still not comfortable with and didn't think he ever would be were these sessions. So now here he sat with Lisa across from him holding her pen and notepad, recorder on the table, and he wondered for the umpteenth time just what he was supposed to get out of these sessions?
"What do you want out of them?"
"What?" Martin asked as he realized Lisa had directed that question at him, of course she had, they were the only two in the room.
"You said you were wondering what you were supposed to get out of these sessions."
Martin closed his eyes and sighed, *damn, he had said that out loud.*
"Martin, what do you want out of these sessions?" Lisa calmly asked a second time.
Martin wracked his brain trying to come up with the right answer, hell at this point he'd take any answer.
"I have no idea." He finally conceded defeat.
Lisa simply looked at him her expression neutral, without judgment.
Martin shook his head in frustration. He liked Lisa. Lisa did her job because she wanted to and she really did want to help people. So, for Lisa, he tried again to sift through what was in his head, what did he want out of these sessions? How about a relief from the pain, the fear, the nightmares, the anxiety that he'd never be up to doing his job again, whenever it was he was allowed to return to work. What had it been already, nine weeks or ten that he'd been out of work, did he even know how to get back?
"Martin, you're doing fine." Lisa tried again. She could see he was struggling with what to say. She knew him well enough by now to know that he had ideas of what he wanted to say but that he was doing one of two things inside his head, and probably both. He was either trying to pick the 'right' answer or he was trying to pick the answer that would least cause her to probe any further.
"The first thing you need to remember, Martin, is that there is no 'right' or 'wrong' answer here. Second thing to remember is that whatever you say I'm going to probe into." She grinned at him and cocked her eyebrows and was rewarded with a knowing smirk in return, yep, she had him pegged but that was her job.
"So, don't think about it, tell me, what do you want to accomplish in these sessions?"
"To feel normal again."
"Sleeping through the night." That was out before Martin even thought to stop it, darn her, she was good. Oddly enough he didn't mind telling her.
"What wakes you up in the night?"
*Pain. Fear. Nightmares. Pick one.* Martin thought.
"It hurts." That seems innocuous enough and credible.
Lisa studied him and Martin found himself working not to squirm, he thought pain was the safe response.
"You're still on pain meds, right?"
"Do you take them as prescribed?"
Lisa cocked her eyebrows at him and inclined her head as if to say, 'only usually?'
Martin felt compelled to answer the unspoken question. "They make me feel fuzzy, a bit nauseas at times."
"Did you tell your doctor?"
Martin nodded. "Yeah, he carefully switched me to something different, something a little milder but since I'm getting better, I don't need stuff as strong anymore."
"Good, so it's probably not the physical pain that's waking you up at night I'm guessing."
Martin grinned again despite himself, yeah she was good and if he was honest with himself, he liked talking to her. "No, it's not physical pain that wakes me up, at least not all the time."
"So what is it? Fear, nightmares, thinking that you'll never feel good again, wondering if and when you'll get back to work what it will be like, what will it be like to drive a car again, walk up a flight of stairs without feeling tired, take down a suspect?"
"What are you, Lisa, psychic? I didn't think the FBI kept psychics on the payroll." Martin joked somewhat relieved that Lisa had spoken of all the things that worried him, maybe he wasn't going crazy after all.
"No, I'm not psychic, Martin. I'm good at my job and the thoughts and fears and anxieties you're having are completely normal, natural. I'd be a bit worried about you if you weren't having them. So, let's go from there."
After his session with Lisa was over, Martin slowly headed down the hall towards Jack's office. He had told Jack he'd be in today for another appointment and Jack had suggested he stop by when he was done if he felt up to it. Martin decided he had a bit of energy left so he walked towards Jack's office. He wasn't using the cane today, actually it was his first day without it and he planned to go the whole day without it if he could, shouldn't be too hard his next stop after this was home.
Martin was only a few feet from Jack's office when the door opened and Paula VanDoren stepped out. She didn't see Martin as she was turned inward still talking to Jack.
"I'm just saying you should give it some serious thought. Your team has been down from its full complement for over four months now with Agent Johnson's illness and now Agent Fitzgerald, adding another agent is a good idea, think about it."
With that VanDoren exited Jack's office and thankfully, thought Martin, headed down the hall away from him never once looking back. Martin sighed both relieved to have avoided the confrontation but also at the stab of fear, more like panic, that hit him at the thought of a new agent joining the team. Another thought quickly followed on the heels of that one, maybe a new agent was the best thing for the team, maybe people already knew that he'd never be able to make it back to full status and just didn't want to tell him, maybe Lisa knew.
Just then Jack's door opened a second time and Jack stepped out and looked directly at Martin. Both men stared at each other and at that moment both knew that the other knew.
*Not surprising. Martin thought.
*Damn her timing.* Jack thought.
"Martin, come on in." Jack stepped back, allowed a small smile on his face and followed Martin's slow but steady progress into his office.
This time both men sat in the chairs in front of Jack's desk, Jack hoped the informality would defuse some of the tension, it didn't.
"Don't worry about VanDoren, have you ever known her to spend extra money, especially the kind of money that bringing in another permanent field agent would mean? Don't worry about it. She was just trying to let me know she'd do whatever necessary to help out the team if we were feeling the strain but we're not, things are fine."
Martin just nodded as he found his voice; his throat was suddenly very dry. "Yeah, I know, none of us minded some extra hours when Viv was out." Martin wondered if that sounded churlish. He didn't mean it to, he hadn't minded some extra hours while Viv was sick.
Jack eyed Martin and wondered how the man was really feeling, emotionally. Quickly Jack moved on, emotions weren't something he was good with and that's why Lisa was on the job. It wasn't that he didn't care; he did. He just knew that there was no way he wanted Martin to actually tell him how he was feeling anymore than he figured Martin wanted him to ask.
"Well, it'll all be a moot point soon anyway, Martin. Isn't your physical evaluation next week?"
"Yeah, next week is when I get a full workup and status check. Physical therapy is going pretty well, I'm not using my cane anymore --*and you can bet I won't now that I know VanDoren is thinking of replacing me or adding someone, whatever*-- so I figure another two weeks and I'll be back on the job."
"Great. The team is doing fine, so like I said, don't worry anything about it. VanDoren was just testing me to see if I needed anything and I don't and the team doesn't need anything other than everyone back together and that's gonna be soon enough."
Jack stood and held out his hand; Martin rose and took it exchanging the gesture. A minute later he was down the hall and heading back home, the bullpen was empty the rest of the team out on assignment.
As he leaned against the wall of the elevator Martin tried not to let panic overwhelm him. Jack was sincere, he wasn't looking to add another agent and truth was Martin was feeling stronger. Three weeks ago he had done this and even with the aid of a cane had barely made it back down to the lobby and into the cab for the ride home without shaking like a leaf. Now he was walking on his own two legs, slowly true but he was making his way, and when he got home he sure wasn't going to be falling into bed or napping on the couch, no way. He had until next week to prove to those doctors that he was ready to come back to work on schedule if not sooner and he wasn't going to blow it.
Jack watched as Martin left his office and made his way down the corridor. The man still looked thin and pale but there was a bit more strength to him this time, at least now it looked like it would take a stiff wind to knock the man over whereas last time he'd been here a light breeze would have done it.
Jack sighed, something he'd been doing for quite awhile now and hadn't even realized it. Returning to his desk he retook his seat and stared at the half dozen or so employee dossiers on his desk, damn Van Doren and her 'great idea.'
Jack let his mind wander over the few minutes he'd spent with Martin. It hadn't seemed as awkward as before did it? Jack shook his head *dammit, damn Dornvald and Teno and damn Paige Hopkins as well. It was hard enough once he knew Sam and Martin were dating and then when they broke up well, it hadn't been that bad; Martin was a damn fine agent and Jack liked working with him but now, now it was such a mess.
Danny was still a loose cannon, Vivian was more pissed off than ever despite the fact that Jack had finally, begrudgingly allowed her out into the field, Sam well Sam acted Jack didn't know what to think. He still had that video on his computer of the shooting and while he was able to keep that turned off more times than not, he still couldn't turn off the tape in his head, the one that played over and over and showed him images of Martin lying on the pavement soaked in blood, Danny kneeling over him similarly covered with Martin's blood.
The image would shift and Jack was in the hospital, in the ICU and he heard the beeping of the machines, smelled the antiseptic, saw and felt the tension, worry and sorrow and came upon a scene that he'd never thought he'd see
Jack stopped just outside the ICU room and let his eyes adjust to the semi-darkness within. As his eyes adjusted he saw Martin, motionless, pale, unconscious lying in the bed. While he'd been taken off the ventilator there were still too many wires and tubes running in and out of his agent and snaking under the blanket.
A slight movement in the room drew Jack's attention and he realized Martin wasn't alone in the room. Next to Martin's bedside sat Victor Fitzgerald motionless, one hand resting on Martin's forearm as if anchoring his son or perhaps reassuring himself that his son was still there, Jack wasn't certain.
In that moment Jack saw Victor, the man behind the deputy director demeanor He saw a father, exhausted from lack of sleep and no end of worry, he saw a man nearly broken at the thought that his son, his one and only child could be ripped away from him. In that moment Jack saw the man, a father and in that moment he identified with him.
"Come in, Jack." The softly whispered words reached his ears Victor never taking his eyes off his son.
Jack stepped inside, found another chair near the wall and carefully set it near Martin's bed across from his father.
"How is he doing?" Jack whispered knowing full well from the nurse that Martin was heavily sedated and would not even know anyone was there. The semi-dark room, the machinery, the constant beeping of the heart monitor, the atmosphere of fear and hope seemed to require one to whisper.
Victor's mouth worked a bit and he swallowed before actual words came out, the whole time he never took his eyes of his son.
"The doctor says he's doing as well as can be expected. They're keeping him sedated to allow him maximum time to adjust to the trauma and rest still..."
"Okay." Jack didn't know what else to say, there really wasn't anything else to say.
A minute passed, then another with no sound between them but the steady beeping of the monitor.
"You have kids, right Jack?"
Startled Jack responded automatically. "Yes, two girls."
"You ever just sit in their bedroom at night when they were little, I mean really little and just watch them and listen to them breathe?"
Jack nodded slowly remembering the times he'd done just that, before he'd allowed work and a cheap fling to ruin his marriage. "Yeah."
"I never did that. Not once. Not when he was a baby or when he was in his first bed, not even when he broke his arm falling from a tree and the doctor sent him home with a cast and some pain pills; he was barely eight. I never just sat there and watched him sleep, listened to him breathe. I never understood why people did that. They breathe, in and out just like you and me, why waste your time sitting there watching them do that?"
Jack studied Victor's profile and saw the man swallow hard several times as if something was lodged in his throat, if it was possible, Victor seemed to be wilting in front of him.
"But now, having sat here and seen him hooked to a machine that did the breathing for him I and now, now that he's breathing on his own I can't stop watching. It's incredible."
Jack roused himself from his wandering thoughts as he heard noise from the bullpen, Danny and Sam had returned. Looking at them Jack wondered what it was going to take to get his team to breathe again normally.
What the hell was Jack thinking?! He'd saved the kid, he'd done his job, yeah, the kid had tried to set the bomb off, but what the hell, Danny had to try and talk him down. Yeah, it was lucky and damn lucky that the wires weren't connected right but still that didn't give Jack cause to slam him against the car and then order him to sit in the car until he was ready to take him back to the office. It's not like he was some rookie.
Danny sulked and skulked in the passenger seat of Jack's car waiting for Jack *almighty Jack* to return and drive him back to the office. Jack really needed to give up his overprotective crap, Danny thought. First he'd kept Viv in the office for two full weeks past her 'return to full status' had been received, he'd been keeping Danny on a short leash since the shooting hell, thought Danny, that was three months ago, and now with Martin returned to work just today it was time to mother him and leave me the hell alone, Danny groused.
Martin. The day had finally come, Martin returned to work. Danny wasn't sure how he felt. They'd talked several times now and Danny knew that most of the awkwardness was gone between them but still, seeing the guy return to work it just, just Danny didn't have words to express it. He wanted to hug the guy but that was stupid since he'd seen him like once a week for the past month so hugging him was dumb.
The great news and something Danny already knew was that Martin no longer used the cane, true, he still walked a bit slow but that had more to do with Martin conserving energy and trying not to pull still healing tissue and muscles, at least that was Danny's take on things.. Martin still looked a bit pale, was thin, there were still dark circles around his eyes and yeah, the guy still winced unexpectedly at an abrupt movement, Danny had seen that when he witnessed part of Martin's talk with the boy's mother but all in all, Martin was back, the team was finally back.
So what the hell was Jack's problem anyway?
The ride back to the office was silent. Danny didn't really want to talk to Jack and it was obvious that Jack didn't want to talk to him; the atmosphere in the car was thick with unresolved tension. Upon returning to the 12th floor Danny noticed Martin was already gone for the day, Vivian as well, Sam was still at the hospital with Ryan. Jack indicated with his head that Danny was to continue following him so the two men continued their silent journey until it ended at Jack's office.
"Sit down, Danny. I want to show you something." Jack's voice was steady but the undercurrent rippled with controlled emotion.
Danny sat down as directed but there was no trace of meekness in his manner, he was still hopped up angry at Jack's treatment of him.
Jack closed the door to his office, sat behind his desk and using his mouse brought something up on the computer. Then he swiveled the monitor so Danny could see it.
"I want you to watch this." Jack's voice was low but there was something in the way he spoke that Danny's took note of and despite his frustration with Jack, he looked intently at the monitor.
It took a couple of seconds for his brain to process the images he saw and then he felt his insides tighten and his body suddenly chilled as he realized what he was seeing. The images played without sound and the clarity wasn't crystal clear but he could easily make out the holes appearing in the metal of the white sedan and while his eyes took in the visual aspects of bullets striking the car his mind created the sounds and in an instant he was there; it was real.
He felt the fear rapidly overcome by adrenaline as training and survival took over. He felt the seatbelt grabbing at him as he dove for cover pushing Martin down as well, his stomach lurched as the car rapidly accelerated and then the impact with the back of the van, the sudden reversal flipped his gut again and he tasted the iron sensation in his mouth that was a product of adrenaline flooding ones system.
There was silence as he watched Adiso Teno's murder, his mind had no audio for that instant, then the sound came back on and he was firing his weapon, he never even remembered it jamming and his clearing of it since training made that all second nature to him. Then, even though there were no visual references on the computer monitor he saw as his mind filled in the audio and the video now he saw Martin, gasping for breath while red bloomed across his chest staring at him without comprehension. .
He smelled the coppery smell of blood, the fading odor of gunpowder washing away in the night air and then, as he watched himself on the screen ease his wounded partner to the street and press down trying to stop the blood that gushed and poured continuously he felt the sticky warmth of it on his hands and heard himself saying "Hang on, Martin, stay with me, man, don't close your eyes, come on, Martin, open your eyes, hang on Somebody get an ambulance!"
A touch on his shoulder jolted him out of his daze and he gasped as he realized Jack was standing beside him and the computer screen was now blank. He swallowed a couple of times trying to catch his breath and he realized his throat was scratchy had he shouted out loud?
Jack took the chair next to him, keeping his hand on his shoulder as if to keep him connected to the present. Danny felt dizzy and tasted a slight bitterness like bile in the back of his throat; he wanted to throw up. He felt Jack press a bottle of water in his hand and he took a sip washing away the bile taste in his mouth, the dizziness eased.
"You're not invincible, Danny. You're not. Stop acting like you are because you're not. Stop trying to make amends for not being the one who was shot. It happened it was random, it could just as easily have been you as it was Martin; it could have been both of you. Those images haunt me. Don't do something that will haunt me worse."
With that Jack got up and left his office leaving Danny sitting there alone.
It was 8:00 p.m. and Danny stood in front of Martin's door. This was the second time in about a month that he'd done this, arrived at Martin's only to stand without moving in front of the man's door. This time he only waited about a half a minute before knocking on the door. He waited, knocked again, and then heard a tired sounding, "Hold on." Before he heard footsteps approach and then a much closer but still tired sounding, "Who is it."
Two clicks as the locks disengaged and the door swung open. Martin took one look at Danny's ashen face and stepped back allowing him to enter. Danny went straight for the couch, sat down with his hands clenched in his lap and stared at nothing.
Martin eyed Danny silently then he closed the door, went into the kitchen, filled two glasses with water and then returned to the living room where he handed Danny one of the glasses then sat down in the chair next to the couch.
"Tough case to come back to, huh?" Danny began awkwardly as he fingered the glass of water and then took a gulp.
"Yeah, but it was good to be back. It's good to work out some of the cobwebs." Martin sighed inwardly. The day had been good, somewhat. They'd found the kid, a little worse for wear but hopefully he'd get the help he needed, at least that was Viv's take on things. He'd felt pretty good at being able to interview the mother and work on the canvas and sitting at the table with Viv and Sam working on the whole indie comic angle had turned up a solid lead so he'd certainly done his part; yeah, that felt good.
What didn't feel good was the fact that when he went to pick up lunch for him and Viv he'd barely been able to keep from getting sick just looking at the food. Turkey on white bread was simple enough but at best he was only able to eat half of the half of his sandwich. Fortunately for him Sam had been rushed all day and hadn't eaten so she happily ate the other half of his sandwich thinking him likely generous. Reality was he wouldn't have been able to stuff it down.
Even though he hadn't gotten to the office until 10 a.m. as Jack had indicated by the time 4 p.m. rolled around he was spent. He gutted it out though and kept at it until after 5:30 but when Viv suggested he pack it up; he'd been only too happy to comply. Not an auspicious beginning as far as he was concerned, at least Vivian hadn't appeared to notice and if she did, she kept it to herself.
*Thank you, Viv.* Martin thought as he took a small sip of water and then set the glass on the table next to him.
The two men sat silently for several minutes, each lost in their own private misery. Martin was tired, somewhat nervous about being up to the hours at the office and what it would mean if it showed he needed time to get back up to full speed; Danny was replaying the images over and over in his head that he'd seen on Jack's computer screen.
At length Danny broke the silence that oddly enough was comfortable between the two men as each seemed concerned only with their own thoughts and yet neither thought it odd the other was there.
"Lisa had me make two lists for homework."
Silence reigned for a moment, the sound of a clock quietly ticking the only audible sound. Martin eyed Danny warily, unsure where this was going but feeling perhaps for the first time, in a long time, that somebody actually needed him instead of him always needing someone else, to drive him around, pick up things for him, bring him something.
"The first list was a list of the reasons why I wished I had been shot and not you."
Martin started; Danny had his full and completely undivided attention forgetting entirely that he had been thinking of indulging in another pity party.
The second list was all the reasons I wouldn't want us to trade places and have you carrying the burden I'm carrying."
Martin continued to stare at Danny as he absorbed those words. Slowly Danny's eyes rose until they met Martin's.
"The first one was so easy, you know, I'd be in pain, you'd be fine. I'd be recovering and you wouldn't have to be. I'd have to deal with wondering if and when I'd feel good again and you wouldn't have to. You know, simple."
Martin nodded numbly *Oh, Danny, if you only knew how not so simple all of that is.*
"The second one the second one was really hard, you know? Like how much I wouldn't wish this guilt on anyone. How awful it feels knowing that the space of 24 30 inches is all that separated us in that car and yet in that space so much happened. That knowing that I was spared all the pain, all the suffering, the physical, mental, emotional suffering and you weren't I'd take it all if I could, the physical, emotional, mental suffering, all of it if it meant you didn't have to suffer anything at all but it doesn't work that way. I know it doesn't.
I know that, if I had been shot and you hadn't that everything I'm feeling now, you'd be feeling. It sucks, Martin, it really does and the truth is I'm not saying it's worse than what you're going through, no, I'm not saying that at all, 'cause again, if I could go through what you're going through now as well as this and you not have to go through any of it I would, I would without a thought but I can't.
The truth is we can't trade places, no matter how much we want to. We can't trade places anymore than we can make that night three months ago disappear and have never happened. I just don't I don't know I just don't I don't want to feel this way anymore. I'm out of control like nothing matters, nothing will hurt me but that's not true is it?"
He looked at Martin and after a beat Martin slowly shook his head from side to side.
"No, it isn't true. It could have just as easily been me that got shot, it could have been both of us and and it could have been so much worse. I can't fix this, can I? I can't undo it? I have to live with this don't I? And you, you have to live with what you have to live with?" Danny nodded his head while asking the questions both accepting the reality of the situation at the same time as he questioned it.
"Yeah, Danny, I guess we both have to accept it. So, I guess the answer to the question of who is the luckier one is neither of us. It just is.
Lisa Harris stepped off the elevator on the 12th floor after 5:00 p.m. on Friday, the end of Martin's first week back at work, the end of the first week in a long time that the entire MPU team was once again back on the job. She wanted to see Jack and assess how he was doing now that his entire team was back on the job. When she passed the bullpen on the way to Jack's office she noted that Martin's desk was already cleared, the light was shut down as was the computer; she figured since it was already well after 5:00 p.m. he had gone home, good.
Danny and Sam and Vivian were still working their computers or phones or at the conference table. Lisa paused for a moment to study those three who were unaware of her presence. She paid particular attention to Danny. He'd called her on Wednesday and asked if she had a few moments to talk; surprised but pleased at his willingness to communicate with her on a day other than their scheduled appointment she'd made time for him.
"Danny, come on in have a seat." Lisa stood up from her desk, crossed the room and took a chair near him. "What can I do for you?"
Danny was silent for a moment the slightly lost look on his face that almost as quickly was replaced by a thoughtful look making Lisa imagine the wheels in his mind turning quickly as thoughts were processed. Finally, after opening and closing his mouth slightly twice he appeared to have settled on what he came there to say, took a slow deep breath and began:
"There wasn't anything I could have done differently." With that said Danny seemed to relax completely, all earlier tension disappeared from his face and frame.
Lisa noted that the way the words were spoken and the look Danny gave her was one of certainty, not defensive, not questioning, not pleading for her to agree, but confident that what he said was, in fact, the truth.
"I know that now. I saw it, I saw the tape. There wasn't anything more I could have done."
Lisa wasn't sure what "I saw the tape" meant so she decided to ask.
"What tape did you see?"
Danny looked at her and while the light of confidence was in his eyes she could see that he was troubled and she heard it in his voice which was softer the next time he spoke.
"Jack had a copy of the traffic camera video feed, it captured that night. I saw it all and for that moment I was there I was back in the car and I remember, really remember every second but this time, when I remember it, it's like like I wasn't a participant, you know? Like I was watching me but it wasn't me and while I remember the sounds and the smells and the flashes and the fear I also was watching what could have been a training tape. I found myself almost evaluating the images and evaluating my actions and I look back on it and I realize, there wasn't anything I could have done differently."
"So when did you come to this conclusion?" Lisa asked neutrally.
"This past Monday night, Jack was pissed sorry, Jack was mad, really mad told me I was screwing up in the field and he'd had enough so he brought me back and showed me the tape. I know we've talked about it and I know I've been working on it but I guess I was burying it instead of dealing with it and when I saw, really saw what happened well, it took a little time to sink in but I know, not that is, I just know--" Danny stopped, while he didn't mind sharing things with Lisa who he had grown to trust over these past weeks, he wasn't going to share with her that he had told Martin about the two lists.
Lisa had never asked him to read her the lists or asked for him to give them to her, he'd shown up at the next appointment certain he was going to have to show them to her or share them or something but when she asked him if he had done it and he handed her the two envelopes she simply held them for a moment and then returned them, never even opened them. It was then that Danny had realized that while Lisa wanted him to be open with her about what was going on with him and what he was going through she wasn't going to force him to tell her everything as long as he worked on the process.
Looking back Danny realized that after that appointment he had been a bit more willing to work harder on his own recovery.
Lisa was glad to hear Danny express such progress in his outlook on the shooting, now she wanted to see Jack and find out about this tape
Coming back from her thoughts of two days ago Lisa noted Danny looking at her from the bullpen. She gave him a bare wave and then continued on to Jack's office. As she reached the glass doors she paused a moment to study the leader of the MPU team.
Jack was seated behind his desk reviewing files looking, to the untrained eye, as if he was concentrating on his work. Lisa's trained eye noticed a few things amiss. First of all one hand was being used to prop his head up, Jack never propped his head up; second, worry lines were etched deeply in his forehead; third, the hand that held the pen was nearly crushing it. .
Lightly knocking she waited for him to look up, acknowledge her and then wave her to come inside. Stepping inside she allowed the door to close softly behind her before moving to take a chair across from his desk.
"I came to see how Martin was doing but find myself instead needing to ask you how you're doing." Lisa may have said the words softly and with a slight smile curving on her lip but Jack recognized the intelligence behind that piercing gaze and knew she read him like a book.
"Martin is working the cobwebs out."
"Good. And how is Danny doing with the return of his partner?"
"Shouldn't you be asking Danny?"
Lisa nodded first, "Yes, however right now I'm asking you."
Jack removed the reading glasses and rubbed his eyes, damn headaches were beginning to really get on his nerves.
"Danny is fine."
"Hmm, that's it, hmm?" Jack glared back but it didn't work; no matter his frustrations Lisa always seemed to be able to read him and he saw the light amusement in her eyes just behind the deeper more present concern.
"Well, I could always ask how you're doing." Lisa said with more than a touch of irony in her voice.
"Yes, you could." Jack leaned back allowing his head to turn and look out at the bullpen where the first thing he saw was Martin's empty desk, a sight that too often he'd been looking at despite the fact that the man had returned to work and had already completed a full week back on the job, desk duty, limited hours, but he was back.
"So, how much longer are you going to look at him and see him lying on the street covered in blood instead of standing in front of you getting back to work?"
Startled Jack abruptly refocused on Lisa's face. "What did you ask?"
"I said, how much longer are you going to "
Jack cut Lisa's words off with the wave of a hand. "What makes you think I'm doing that?"
Lisa smiled inwardly as she got up from her chair and moved away from the desk to the table in the room, intentionally giving Jack some space.
"I know things Jack. I know tech cleaned up traffic camera images at your request and I know you, in all likelihood have been punishing yourself by watching those images, am I right?" Since Danny's impromptu appointment Lisa had checked a few things out: yes there was a tape, yes it had been cleaned up and yes, Malone had been given possession of it, after that.
Jack wanted to bluff, wanted to try to fake her out but just as Lisa was good at reading him, he was good at reading her; she knew.
"I've watched it."
"Have you figured out how to change the ending?"
"Well, I'll ask again, since you can't stop it from happening, how long are you going to look at Martin and instead of seeing him on his feet, healing, back at work, are you going to see him lying unconscious and bleeding on the pavement?"
"I don't know." Jack answered truthfully. Inside him he just didn't know.
"Well, that might be something we could work on."
The next couple of weeks passed fairly uneventfully for the team. Martin was actually allowed a little bit of freedom from the office much to his relief, and Vivian's amusement as she teasingly chided Jack about how long he'd taken to allow her out of the office, and Jack reminded her that while Martin was allowed out of the office he was still relegated to sitting in their missing person's apartment in the hopes that some of her visitors, A/K/A Johns would stop in.
As far as Martin was concerned he was happy to be out of the office, away from the constraints of the office. He was no less bored sitting at the apartment of their MP but at least here he was spared the cautious, sympathetic glances that always seemed to be directed his way. Of course, any time he happened to catch anyone looking at him that way they immediately felt compelled to come up to him directly and ask how he was feeling, how was the pain, was he glad he was back and the truth was he was feeling stronger and was in less pain and yes, he was glad to be back but he was also tired of answering the same inane questions again and again and wished people would just leave him alone.
So, sitting in Dina Kingston's apartment in essence doing nothing but watching time click by was a relief. He'd gone through everything in her desk, calendar, notebooks; anything he could find and now was just sitting there. Eventually it came time to do something about food so he called a nearby Chinese restaurant and ordered some plain rice and Won Ton soup figuring that would settle fairly well. How quickly he realized he was wrong.
His body, while healing from much of the trauma inflicted by two bullets and then the carving blades of surgeons seeking to save his life, still rebelled against some of the simple things. Coffee still burned in his system, anything spicy hurt while being digested, anything with high fiber was certainly not on his plate or in his bowl and today his body even rejected simple rice and broth, as he'd just chosen to sip the broth of the soup, slowly.
At least this time when his body rebelled it chose to rebel by causing a heaving bout of vomiting, usually such an episode ran the other way but it appeared that even his body was tiring of the rebellion. Still Martin ended up shivering from the violent bout of nausea and to add insult to injury, his stomach continued to loudly grumble that it was empty.
He was only too happy to call it quits at the end of the day and allow the rest of the team to finish up the details.
As the days and weeks continued to pass by Martin found that more and more he was able to eat small and simple meals, he took up brisk morning walks and even allowed himself a half a block of jogging that eventually turned into a block and then two.
He and Danny seemed to find the rhythm in their friendship again, although Martin knew that Danny frequently insisted on the yeoman's share of the case paperwork enabling Martin to head home a bit early. However as Martin was slowly gaining ground he found he didn't mind; there would come a day when he'd be able to pull his entire weight on the team again so he allowed himself the luxury of a slightly less taxing work day.
Another thing that improved Martin's mindset was that his sessions with Lisa were done unless he felt the need to see her. As he was feeling pretty good at work and overall feeling like he was getting back on track physically he figured he had turned the corner. Also, since Jack never once brought up anything about adding another agent to the team Martin began to relax his worry that he was going to be replaced.
"Hey, Martin, why don't you wait a minute and I'll file this report and head out with you, we can grab something down the street to eat." Sam called out as Martin reentered the bullpen having finished his debrief with Jack.
"Uh, sure, Sam, what do you need, five minutes more?" Martin met her gaze across the area and tried to keep his tone light and eliminate the confusion from his voice even as he knew it was spread across his face. Surprisingly Sam just smiled brightly and said five minutes would be fine and then she departed the bullpen, report in hand calling good night to Vivian and Danny as she disappeared.
Martin idly shifted some objects on his desk while he waited for her return and watched as Danny finished a phone call confirming his date for the evening and then headed out and Vivian quietly finished a report at her desk. When Sam returned she grabbed her bag and coat and the two of them left the office and headed down to the street and down a few blocks to a little bistro.
Sitting in the booth they had been given Martin watched as Sam ordered her dinner, salad and grilled fish and he ordered the same and then continued to watch her as their waitress whisked their menus away and hurried off to place their order.
Sam looked up, met Martin's steady but confused stare and quickly checked the restaurant for what might be confusing him before looking back at him, "What?"
"I guess I was wondering who are you and what have you done with Samantha Spade." Martin replied adding a small chuckle at the end and forcing a smile to soften any bitterness in his words.
Sam just grinned at him as she took a sip from her water glass. "What do you mean?"
"You just asked me to dinner in front of the office. I mean I don't consider this a date, nor do I think you meant it as such but still what gives?"
Sam sighed deeply and shook her head slightly, "I don't know, it's just that I was hungry, I figured you were hungry and it just seemed like like with all that's happened there's no reason not to go grab a bite to eat."
*No reason not to grab a bite * "Sam, look I'm not trying to pick a fight or anything, really, I'm not but I am confused. When we were dating you didn't want anyone to know about us even after people knew about us and now that we're not dating well, don't you think this is just going to get people wondering if we are dating?"
Before she could answer the waitress appeared with their salads and a basket of warm bread. By mutual accord a truce in the conversation occurred and both worked on their salads for a few minutes until Martin broke the truce.
"Sam, is this your way of making sure you've fulfilled your promise?"
"My promise? What are you talking about?" Sam looked searchingly at Martin, *how could he know?*
"You know, the one where you're holding my hand in the hospital and you say you're not going anywhere until you know that I'm all right. Ring a bell?"
Sam looked at Martin in surprise wondering how he knew about that but she was relieved to see a smile and a genuine spark in his eyes, not forced, nothing to indicate bitterness or anger.
"I do remember that. I'm wondering how you know about it?"
"Seems you and my father spent a night holding vigil at my side. My father can be discreet and although he heard you talking to me he chose to give you some more time alone before he joined you in my room."
Sam blushed slightly remembering the horrible fear of that night, the hours spent there holding Martin's hand and watching him while across the bed his father sat in silence and his own private pain. The two had formed an unspoken bond of sorts that night one that had surprised them at how simple it was to interact with each other in the days and weeks ahead. It was Sam and Victor who had headed to Martin's apartment to bring him things he needed or wanted while in the hospital, both had worked together to arrange Martin's care once he left the hospital and each had kept the other up to date on his progress in physical therapy or in arranging visiting scheduled\s for friends who had helped keep Martin's spirits up both in the hospital and during the long recovery at home.
Sam smiled now at the memory. For all her fears of what people would think and what Martin's family would think of her she found Victor someone she was almost instantly comfortable with and while she was less comfortable with Martin's mom she didn't find anything about either of his parents that made her feel self-conscious about being there for Martin.
"Martin, are you ever sad that we didn't work out?"
Martin finished chewing and swallowing his salad with some water before he set his fork down to think a moment before he answered. "Yes and no. The yes part is because I really thought we had a chance for something but now that I look back on it I realize that we never really did, so with that in mind I'm not sad anymore."
Sam caught sight of their waitress coming their way with the entrees and she waited until they were both a couple of bites into their main course before she picked up the thread of the conversation. The time she had been given allowed her to process Martin's words and she could see that he was watching for her response but she was surprised at the comfortable atmosphere still between them, they should have talked like this before she realized.
"What part of 'us' made you think it could work?"
"We both have similar passions about the work, we challenge each other in terms of right and wrong, we both like basketball." Martin grinned.
"There is that and yes, we were good when we talked about work and how cases affect us or how we view them and the basketball games were good too."
"When you let me read the sports page."
"Which was only after I was done with it."
"And after you had crinkled it up."
Sam hesitated slightly needing to ask the next logical question but afraid to lose the easy friendship in the air surrounding them.
"So what part do you realize doomed us from the beginning?" She asked softly and then nervously bit the inside of her mouth while waiting for his answer.
Martin for his part was equally nervous both wanting to continue this conversation and the honesty between them that had been so absent when they were dating but fearing that by being honest he would end the friendship. In the end honesty won out, there would be no friendship if they couldn't be honest.
"The part that I should have seen from the beginning is that you and I see relationships differently and want different things. For me a relationship with someone is exciting and scary and there's work and play involved. You don't hide a relationship, the whole idea of getting serious with someone is terrifying but if you think you've found someone to be with then the terror is welcomed. I thought we had that possibility having spent two years learning about each other and sharing some of our fears and secrets but I missed the key sign that should have told me don't go on, pay attention to the caution signs you've seen. I missed those signs or actually ignored them and we paid the price."
"What were the signs?"
"The times when you indicated with brutal honesty that you liked messy complicated relationships and kids weren't in your future, not in this lifetime. You were honest when you said those words and I should have paid closer attention. For whatever reason I think you see yourself as either not worthy of a real relationship or you see relationships in too idealized a way and since you know that about yourself you've learned to protect that ideal behind a barrier and so you seek out those relations with people that have no chance of ever being anything more than messy and complicated and ultimately will not last."
Sam just stared in silence at Martin. She felt numb with disbelief at what she was hearing and couldn't speak. After staring at him for about a minute without speaking she focused a bit and realized that he was meeting her gaze unwaveringly and that while there was sorrow in his eyes there wasn't any anger. She replayed his words in her mind and realized that the tone he had used when he said them was even almost neutral there wasn't any judgment or bitterness only a calm evaluation.
The two of them finished their meal silently and while a large degree of the comfortable quiet that had been between them had dissipated it hadn't been replaced with coldness or anger or even tension, both felt a soft acceptance and shared sorrow but their ability to read each other remained and so Martin knew to signal for the check forgoing coffee and desert and Sam was grateful for his awareness.
Outside the bistro they walked side by side for about a block before Sam gently put her hand on Martin's arm to stop him.
"Martin, do you think I am incapable of love?"
Martin looked down at Sam and saw almost a child-like pleading in her eyes.
"No, Sam, I don't think you're incapable. I just think you aren't ready to accept that you're worthy of it. One day I hope you realize you are worthy of it and let yourself go for it and I hope you find it with someone who will let you be you and not try to control you. I like to think that we were on equal footing at least as far as how we viewed each other and that while we each had different goals, or actually were moving at different speeds that I never tried to control you. I hope that's something you take away from our time together. It may be cliché or trite or whatever but no experience is completely bad if you can learn something."
Sam nodded slowly processing his words. Absently she waved her arm signaling an approaching cab that obligingly pulled in at the curb for her. Martin leaned past her and opened the door and then stepped back for her to enter.
"Martin, what did you learn from being with me?"
Martin looked at Sam as she stood at the open door of the cab ready to step inside as he answered, "Not to read too much into anything." He gave her a small smile. "Sometimes a cab ride really is just a cab ride."
She stood there for a moment watching him and just as she was about to say something his arm shot up and he gestured, another cab zipped to the curb.
"See you tomorrow." Martin called as he stepped up to the second cab, opened the door and climbed inside.
Sam quietly folded herself into the back seat of her cab, gave the driver directions and thoughtfully watched the city blocks slide by her on her ride home.
It had been five months since he had been shot and two months since he returned to work and Martin and Jack were leaving the hospital after having seen Shawn Hopkins reunited with his parents. The two men were exhausted, Jack from having run the investigation and assisted in the successful negotiation that freed Shawn and Martin was exhausted from having spent the last two days at the Hopkins' home monitoring phone calls, interviewing visitors, some amount of hand holding for both parents and being on the front lines of the emotional rollercoaster that all loved ones of missing people go through.
As they headed down the corridor Jack was finishing a phone call. He clicked his phone closed and slipped into his pocket at the same time turning to Martin.
"We got another one."
"What is it?"
"Woman missing in Chelsea, I'm heading over to interview the husband."
"I'll start on the financials." Martin offered as they continued out of the hospital and headed towards their cars.
"That would be great." Jack replied and the two men separated. As Jack slipped behind the wheel of his car his eyes caught the flash of Martin's headlights coming up and for a moment Jack just stared as he watched Martin's profile, lit only by the lights of the hospital parking lot, as Martin drove by and headed to the office. *He's back.*
Jack shook his head as he heard the voice in his head repeat itself. *He's back.*
Damn, Jack thought. Lisa will want to take all the credit for this from their 'sessions' as their off the record chats had been of late, but somehow it had happened. Somehow in all the weeks since she confronted him about the videotape and his own fears for his team, somehow it had happened. Martin had healed, Danny was back to normal and Jack hadn't second guessed any of Martin's moves or any of his orders to Martin. He didn't know when it had happened, he didn't know how but he knew right then and there that after 48 hours of nonstop work he had readily accepted Martin's calm acceptance of the next job.
Jack realized, as he started the car and shifted into drive that while Martin looked tired and sounded tired that was simply because of the long hours recently spent and that the man didn't look or sound any more weary than Jack himself felt or looked. Amazing, maybe time really does heal all wounds.
"Martin, Simmons is headed your way." Danny spoke into his mic as he left Jack with Max Cassidy.
"Copy that." Martin signaled his men as they approached a set of stairs connecting all levels of the warehouse. Suddenly the sound of a gun firing pierced the air from above. Martin and his men ducked for cover. Martin depressed his mic's transmit key, "Shots fired!" Then yelled up at the shooter, "FBI! Drop your weapon!" Another salvo of bullets rained down on him for his effort. Splitting his agents in two directions he directed them to cover the exits. The adrenaline pumped in his system as he headed up the stairs completely focused on the task at hand until suddenly the sound of bullets connecting with metal broke his concentration. Martin flattened himself against the wall and suddenly his mind was flashing images of another moment in time, a time when a blue van stopped in front of his car, the back doors swung open, in those flashes in his mind he not only saw muzzle flashes but 'heard' the sound of bullets striking metal, and his mind conjured the smell of gun smoke filling the air. Shaking his head as he pressed hard against the cool concrete wall Martin tried to free his mind of the images.
The firing from above stopped and Martin once again shook his head violently to clear it.
He keyed his mic while simultaneously resuming the chase. "Suspect headed to the roof."
Hitting the emergency door to the roof Martin cautiously checked to make sure the going was safe.
Seeing and hearing no one he continued.
A pebble being kicked above caused him to turn his attention upward and he realized Simmons was one level up. Heading to the stairs he slowly made his way upward keeping his gun trained forward.
Suddenly a pipe appeared catching him in the shoulder, toppling him backward down the metal stairs.
Martin's gun flew from his hand and he landed at the bottom, winded.
As he lay there stunned and unable to breathe his mind played another moment from his life, a moment when suddenly Danny stood beside him.
Martin could 'see' himself no longer lying on a metal staircase landing but instead strapped in a car, held by a seatbelt.
In that moment he saw not the night sky above him and the light off the top of the roof of the warehouse but instead there is blood seeping through his fingers, fingers that seem strangely disconnected from his body as they pluck at his shirt.
A noise to his left causes him to try to turn in that direction but he has no strength and instead his head lolls to the side and the face of his partner, Danny Taylor, appears.
He can see Danny's lips moving but he can't hear anything, there's a ringing sound in his ears that is deafening.
He looks back down at his chest and sees Danny's hand throwing the seatbelt away and then watches as the interior of the car tilts wildly as he's lifted out of the car.
There is no pain, no sound, no smell and no air.
As he sees the night sky above him he panics as he realizes he can't breathe.
His lungs try to draw in air but there is nothing there and then Danny's face looms in view again and he can once again see his partner's lips moving but there is no sound.
Fear, he sees fear in Danny's face but he doesn't know why Danny is afraid.
He tries to draw breath again but everything fades to black.
Suddenly air rushes back into Martin's lungs and he hears voices above him, Danny's voice. "Get on the ground!
Get on the ground!" Martin struggles to his feet, runs up the stairs.
Reaching the top he sees Simmons turned to him as if intending to run down the very stairs he'd only moments ago knocked Martin down.
Martin lashes out in an instant with his fist and connects solidly with Simmons' face causing Simmons to land hard on the rooftop.
An agent appears and handcuffs Simmons and hauls him away.
The ringing begins to fill Martin's ears and head but before it engulfs him he hears Danny radio in, "Primary suspect has been apprehended on the roof." Then the pain hits.
The agony starts in his hip and he stumbles slightly trying to balance himself on legs that no longer want to hold him.
Drawing in a breath trying to ease the sharp pain in his hip he feels a burn in his chest that reminds him of the first time he realized the value of a PCA pump.
He longs to reach for the lever that releases a dose of morphine into his system to cool the fire in his chest but all there is at hand is a cold rooftop.
"Martin, Martin, are you okay?"
Danny's voice calls to him and Martin looks over and sees Danny's worried face.
The answer was automatic; he didn't even have to think. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Martin shakily draws in another breath and this time the only pain that it brings is in his hip.
Danny eyes Martin's attempt to shake off whatever has happened not believing for a second the man is fine.
Danny can see Martin is in pain.
Taking stock of the situation around him Danny nods in appreciation as the agents shuffle Simmons off the roof and down to the ground level for transport to booking.
He knows Jack needed him back inside the warehouse although by now the paramedics must have arrived but he also needs to stay with Martin who despite assuring him he is fine definitely is not fine.
"Martin, I've got to go get Jack.
Come on down with me, I want the paramedics to give you a quick check, okay."
When Martin continued to stand where he was holding a hand on his hip while he stared at some object on the ground, Danny approached, looked down and saw the metal pipe lying at the edge of the roof. "Martin." Danny spoke softly not wanting to startle the man. "Yeah, just let me go and get my gun, all right?" Martin looked ruefully at Danny and Danny was sure he saw a bit of embarrassment in his partner's eyes.
Maybe that was it the man was embarrassed he'd lost his piece; it wasn't something to be proud of.
"Where is it?" Danny asked. Martin sighed and then pointed down the fire escape stairs.
Danny peered over the edge and noted a hint of metal glimmering. Looking back at Martin he saw the resignation in his partner's eyes, *embarrassment, he's just embarrassed.* "I'll get it.
You stay here.
Don't argue." Danny firmly told Martin and gave him a glare that Malone would have been proud of but that was more reminiscent of Vivian when she was in her best 'field agent who is a mother don't pull that crap on me' mode.
Danny contained the smile he felt wanting to burst out when Martin complied.. Skimming down the stairs Danny grabbed Martin's gun, checked the safety and the load and then safed the weapon.
As he stepped on the bottom step intent to regain the roof he looked up and in that moment it hit him, the pipe, Martin's pain and in a flash he 'saw' Martin fall.
Returning to the roof he saw Martin standing just as he had left him.
Touching his arm he handed him his piece and watched as Martin checked the safety and the load and then reholstered the weapon.
Encouraged Danny led his partner to the roof door, down the stairs and outside to the waiting ambulance.
Upon arrival he turned Martin over to one of the EMTs and then stepped over to one of his fellow agents who was speaking to a police lieutenant.
Joining the group he heard them mention Ricin having been detected in the building.
He was given permission to enter the building and get Jack out but that took a bit more doing as Jack refused to leave without Max.
Finally it took Danny convincing a bio-hazard team to enter with a litter and carefully transport Max Cassidy's body out of the building before Jack would agree to leave.
By then over 30 minutes had passed and Danny was surprised to see the ambulance crew still onsite having expected them to transport Martin to the hospital.
Walking over he caught the eye of the EMT.
"Where's the agent you were checking out?"
"He caught a ride with one of the patrol cars." This was news to Danny.
"Not sure, probably headquarters."
Danny shook his head in annoyance.
"I thought you were going to transport him to the hospital?"
"He didn't need it.
Vital signs normal, he was a little sore which is to be expected but he was oriented to space and time and he refused transport.
As his ABCs were all fine, there was no reason to take him to the hospital." Danny didn't like it but as the man had said, air, breathing, cardiopulmonary were all fine, ABCs, there was nothing more they could do.
Still, there was something Danny could do.
Pulling out his cell he dialed Samantha's.
He was relieved when she picked up mid-way through the second ring. "Spade." "Sam, it's Danny."
Is it true?"
"Yeah, Sam, we got to Max.
Listen, do me a favor will you."
"Martin took a bit of a fall during the chase of Simmons"
There was a chase and Martin took a fall, more like a hit and then a fall " Danny filled Sam in quickly and after receiving her assurance that she'd follow up with Martin he turned to the scene trying not to worry.
There had been something in Martin's eyes that caused Danny to fret.
His friend had only in the last few weeks begun to show he was feeling fine again; Danny didn't want anything to turn that backwards.
A half hour passed after Sam took Danny's call and she began to worry, whatever squad car Martin had caught a ride with should have delivered him to the office by now.
Dialing his cell phone she tapped her fingers nervously on the desktopvoicemail.
"Hi, you've reached Agent Fitzgerald.
Leave a message and I'll call you back."
"Martin, it's Samantha.
Look Danny told me you'd caught a ride back with a squad and I just wondered if you were coming here or where you were going.
Give me a call when you get this." *Yeah, right, that doesn't sound suspicious.*
She and Martin had managed to find some stable ground to rebuild their friendship but she knew he was likely to draw away if he felt she was hovering.
Funny, all the time they'd been seeing each other he'd wanted to be let in more but she wouldn't let him; now that they weren't dating she found herself wanting to be let in more but he wouldn't let her.
Damn it was frustrating.
Well, she thought, straight ahead is the best and only way.
If the mountain won't come to ---blah, blah, blah, she was going to the mountain.
Squaring away her desk she headed out.
Olczyk was in with Anne Cassidy and Danny was coming back with Jack, Vivian had only left five minutes ahead of her so Sam decided her time was best spent checking on Martin.
Getting her car out of the garage she headed on the well driven route to Martin's apartment.
She'd driven the route plenty of times after work in the past few months and before she knew it she was at his apartment. She'd tried his home number and cell numerous times on the drive over and only got his answering machine or voice mail.
Leaving a message on his home and foregoing leaving another on his voice mail she'd suppressed her worry and concentrated on driving.
Upon arriving she was pleased at finding a parking spot on the street less than half a block from his building's entrance.
Covering the distance quickly she entered the lobby and headed for the elevator.
Her nerves were starting to communicate their worry the closer she got to her destination.
She reminded herself to relax. At most she was going to find him nursing a bruise or two and just too tired to answer his phone.
*I hope that's all it is.* Reaching his door she knocked and waited, and waited, and waited.
The buzzing of her nerves was getting stronger and more insistent and finally her worry won out.
She had a key to his apartment, might as well use it.
Grabbing her key ring from her coat pocket she flicked out his key; he'd given it to her when they were dating and they'd not gotten around to exchanging them back after they broke up and then he was shot and she'd been a fairly regular visitor in those first weeks of him returning home, so she still had it.
Inserting it into the lock she turned first one, then the second and then the third before she could enter his apartment. "Martin." Sam called out not wanting to startle him too badly. There was a light on in the kitchen and she saw light spilling down the hallway from his bedroom.
The sound of running water sounded in her ears.
*He's taking a shower, that's a good sign.* Deciding to make herself comfortable Sam stepped all the way inside, closed and relocked the door behind her.
Slipping off her coat she draped it over the back of a chair and stood in the center of his living room.
It had been a couple of weeks, well, closer to a month since she'd last been here.
Since he'd returned to work she hadn't been coming over as much.
True, they were friends and they would always have something special in their past but she wasn't his girlfriend anymore and it didn't seem right to come over here all the time, especially now that he was back on his feet and doing well.
The couch looked about the same as it had before except there were no extra pillows or blanket for when he was resting.
The coffee table was back in its usual spot and devoid of any pill bottles, water glasses, tissues or anything of that kind.
There was a book there; Alive she noted was part of the title, something about the Rugby team crashing in the Andes and their survival story.
Martin had always liked to read and no subject disinterested him.
Her cell phone rang at the same moment the shower stopped.
She grabbed her phone and saw it was Danny. "Spade."
"Hey, Sam, it's Danny.
Where are you?
Have you seen Martin?
Is he okay?
Is he with you?"
"Calm down, Danny.
I'm at Martin's apartment.
He didn't answer my calls so I drove over here and let myself in.
He's finishing in the shower and I'll talk to him then but from what I can tell he's probably fine."
Hearing movement behind her Sam turned and saw Martin, clad only in a towel from the waist down standing there.
She studied his torso for a moment she'd never seen the scars.
*My, God, what he's been through.*Danny's voice in her ear broke her daze and she gave Martin an apologetic smile and returned her attention to her cell phone.
"Sam?" Danny pressed. "Sorry, Martin's fine.
I'll take care of things, okay?"
I'll finish up here and then head for home.
Call me if you need anything, okay?"
I can handle this.
Take care and I'll see you in the morning."
Turning around she noted Martin was just turning away from her and moving back down the hallway to his bedroom.
Craning her neck she noted the bruises already visible across his shoulder and back and one that disappeared down under the towel across his hip.
"Sorry, about that."
Sam called as she pocketed her cell phone. "Miss me?"
Martin responded from the bedroom.
"Uh, something like that.
Danny said you took a pretty good fall and when you didn't answer your cell or home phone, I decided to check on you."
"It's nothing, I'm fine.
I'll be right out."
Sam remained standing in the living room.
All this time she realized she'd never seen the scars caused by the bullets and the surgery that saved his life, she knew she should have known they'd be there but it was one thing to imagine them quite another to actually see them and those bruiseshe most definitely was not fine.
Watching Martin slowly walk back into the living room confirmed her suspicions and her decision; he had been hurt, and badly. "Where are your shoes?" She asked pointing to his bare feet.
Martin had returned wearing a pair of running pants and a jersey but no shoes were evident. "My shoes?
Martin looked at his feet and then up at her curiously. "Because you can't go without footwear that's why."
Sam put her hands on her hips, she wasn't backing down. "Go where?"
"Sam, I'm fine.
I got checked by paramedics at the scene.
Everything works, I'm fine."
Lift your right arm above your head."
Martin glared at her but did, slowly, painfully, sucking in a deep breath and closing his eyes against the fire that rippled across his shoulder and back.
Opening his eyes triumphantly after completing the maneuver he noted he was looking at an empty living room.
A sound behind him caused him to turn around, slowly. "Sam?"
"Hold on." She grumpily answered.
Reappearing from his bedroom and carrying a pair of sneakers and a pair of socks she returned to the living room and motioned for him to sit down on one of the chairs.
The look she gave him indicated she was in no mood for an argument, neither was he but he knew he wouldn't get her out of his apartment unless he complied.
Sitting down he sat back and watched tiredly but amusedly as she picked up first one foot, slid the sock on and then the sneaker, set it back down and tied it and then repeated the action on the other foot.
When she was done she looked up to see him smiling at her.
A faint shade of pink graced her cheeks and then disappeared as Special Agent Samantha Spade returned in force. Minutes later they were in her car and heading down the street en route to the nearest hospital.
Four hours later: "72 hours, minimum, if you're still fighting a headache and aching back, another 24 after that."
Dr. Litchsko ordered.
As Martin opened his mouth intent to argue Sam intervened having utilized her FBI credentials yet again and her newly and self-appointed status of agent in-charge of the situation to gain access to Martin's discharge discussion with the doctor.
"No problem, Doctor, I've already notified the command post agent that his status is off duty for an indeterminate period of time and that has been cleared."
Sam ignored the dirty and somewhat confused look Martin sent her way as she continued.
"I'll take care of his prescription and make sure a copy of his discharge orders are filed with the boss in the morning."
"Thank you, Agent--"
Dr. Litchsko hesitated at her name. "Spade, and you're welcome."
Sam flashed him a winning smile and held out her hand taking the prescription for a pain killer and the discharge instructions as the doctor returned his attention to Martin. "Remember, Agent Fitzgerald, while you don't have a concussion or any broken bones you do still need some rest to recover.
The fall was quite traumatic to your body and you will definitely notice more bruising and a deepening of the currently evident bruises over the next few days.
The more rest you get, the faster you will recover and I already know from your file that you know the value of pain medication. You're body can't rest and heal if you are ignoring the pain symptoms.
Take the medicine as you need it and as prescribed, the likelihood of becoming addicted is minimal if you follow that guideline so don't worry about that, all right?" Martin nodded and reached to shake the doctor's hand.
Giving Sam a look that communicated *make sure he follows these orders* Dr. Litchsko left the exam room. Sam stood near the door allowing Martin the 'dignity' of getting himself off the exam table and shuffling stiffly to the door.
He stopped and started to give her a dirty look which she shrugged off, opened the door and gestured grandly for him to walk through.
After completing the check out from the hospital and trekking to her car Martin stifled a groan as he lowered himself into the passenger's seat.
Wincing as Sam shut the door perhaps a bit forcibly next to him he reached for the seat belt and buckled himself in, leaned his head back and close his eyes; he was so tired. Sam got into the driver's side of the car, locked the doors and stuck the key in the ignition, pulled her seat belt on before looking over at her friend and fellow agent.
She knew he was upset, upset that he was back in the hospital, back to being in pain, back to being slowed down by an injury that couldn't have been avoided and back to being ordered out of work.
"Hey, it's only three days."
She tried to jolly him out of his dark mood. "Who the hell is the 'command post agent' anyway?
You made that up, right?" Martin asked her with a bit of wistful hopefulness creeping into his voice.
"Nope, that would be Vivian.
Jack is going to be busy tomorrow with the fall out of Agent Cassidy's death and Vivian is in charge of the unit.
I contacted her while you were in x-ray and advised her of your status at that point.
As soon as I get you back home and get this prescription filled at the all-night pharmacy, I'll be updating her voice mail and letting her know that you are medically disabled for the next 72 hours, no arguments."
"Fine." Martin replied not caring in the least that he sounded surly.
He was tired and tired of being tired. He was sore and tired of being sore and not for the first time but certainly the first time in a while he was feeling a bit sorry for himself.
Closing his eyes to avoid discussing anything further and rested his head back against the headrest as Sam turned the engine on and drove out of the parking garage.
20 minutes later Sam pulled up in front of an all-night pharmacy near Martin's neighborhood and turned the ignition off.
"You'll be all right here while I go get this filled?"
She asked shifting in her seat to look at him; she knew he wasn't asleep. "Yes, Mom, I'll be fine."
He answered not opening his eyes. "All right.
I'll be back as quick as I can."
Sam unlocked the door, stepped out and relocked the door behind her by pressing the lock button on the key chain.
As she stepped into the pharmacy she gave a backward glance at the car.
She could see Martin in the passenger seat, head tilted back against the head rest.
She felt bad for his pain and his recent injuries but they were minor; he'd be back at work in no time.
Slipping inside the building she headed for the secure area in the back where the pharmacy was located. Martin didn't notice how much time passed by after Sam exited the car.
Instead he concentrated on keeping his eyes closed and trying not to dwell in his own private misery of aching joints, soreness whenever he moved and the fact that he had just begun feeling good again, really good and had even started running again only to be knocked on his ass, literally, that would set him back again.
He hated the idea of taking the pain meds as they upset his stomach and made him dizzy and foggy and sleepy.
He hated the idea of spending the next 72 hours resting in his apartment.
It wasn't like he could go to museums and hang out in the park or anywhere, 72 hours of sick time meant 72 hours of sleeping in bed, lying on the couch and wandering around his apartment trying to be interested in a book.
The honk of a horn startled him causing him to sit straight up and his eyes to fly open.
Right in front of him was a blue van and he froze as he saw the rear doors of the van fling open and two men jump out with automatic guns and begin firing . "Martin!"
Martin flinched as Sam's hand rested on his forearm.
Breathing heavily he tried to clear his head by shaking it and rubbing at his eyes he'd seen it, hadn't he?
"I didn't think you were asleep.
I'm sorry I startled you."
Sam said as she held her hand out to him.
Martin just stared at her trying to clear his head.
Looking at her in confusion he shook his head again and then stared out the front of the car.
There was nothing there but a clear line of sight to the corner and a traffic light blinking yellow.
Martin felt something brush his arm and looked down to see Sam holding a bag out to him.
Numbly he took it and set it on his lap, he had seen them, right?
"Hey, you okay?"
Sam's voice was full of concern. Martin looked at her as he tried to push the images from his mind, images he didn't understand.
"Yeah, I'm just tired.
I guess I am glad I don't have to go in tomorrow."
He said giving her a weak smile. "Not just tomorrow, the next day and the next and then it's the weekend.
So in reality you have the next five days off.
Oh, yeah and Vivian already called Danny, he's covering your on-call this weekend." Martin gave Sam another of the night's dirty looks as she turned the key in the ignition and put the car in drive, looking over at him she caught his look. "What, she left a message on my phone.
I didn't call her while I was in there.
I'll take your paperwork in in the morning and that's all there is to it." As Sam pressed on the accelerator smoothly pulling away from the curb and driving the rest of the way to Martin's apartment Martin allowed his head to fall back against the head rest and tried to figure out just what it was he had seen when he'd opened his eyes just after the car honked .