Chapter 9

Sam walked into the office the next morning carrying a double espresso cappuccino, her second, and trying to banish the worry from her mind and her face; she wasn't successful.

"That bad, huh?"

Sam stopped abruptly giving Vivian a sharp look before finding her voice.

"What – no, it's not…what are we talking about?"

"Sam, no offense but you look like you spent the night worrying and not sleeping. I thought you told me Martin was fine, nothing broken and not needing anything more than so Tylenol III and a few days rest, so why the bags under your eyes and the haggard expression?

"Thanks for the little 'beauty pep talk' there, Viv, and, no, it's not that bad. The doctor put him out for 72 hours, nothing serious you're right. I took him home and left him there around 1:00 a.m. and got up at 6:00 to get here so, yes, I'm tired thus the large double espresso cappuccino." Sam waved the large container at Vivian for emphasis. "But no, he's fine, a little put out that he's out of work again, nothing more."

"Well, that's logical, Martin's only been back to full duty for a couple of months and probably has finally begun to feel better for less than that so I'm sure he's disappointed." Vivian agreed and moved to the side allowing Samantha to continue on her way into the bullpen.

"Yeah, still, I told him that you backed up the doctor's appraisal so if he's upset at anyone besides the doctor, it's likely to be you." Samantha called over her shoulder as she left Vivian behind.

Rolling her eyes and shaking her head patiently Vivian headed for Jack's office. He was there long enough to gather up the case materials before he had to report to Olyczyk's to continue the after action report in the case that led to the death of one agent, Max Cassidy.

Knocking on his door she entered without waiting for his signal.

"Jack, how's Anne doing?" Vivian was genuinely concerned. She went home the night before and hugged Marcus and just felt comforted by being in his presence; he had known the fear of loosing her and in many respects her of him but the death of Max Cassidy, a fellow agent, and watching Anne deal with it set off in her a need to go home and just hold her husband and enjoy his presence.

"She's doing as well as can be expected. I think she's gone with a close friend to work on funeral arrangements today and sort out all the legal paperwork." Jack grabbed the folders off his desk that he needed and looked around, one was missing.

Vivian held it out to him and he gave her a grateful look as he took it.

"I appreciate you covering things down here while I'm up there making sure no one puts the blame for any of this on Max – jackass he may be, still he stopped what would have been a serious biological threat."

"He deserves recognition for that and I know you'll see that that happens. Everyone is getting their reports up to date except for Martin. I'll talk to him later and get his debrief and his final report will be in early next week."

"Okay. Why isn't he here? Why are you talking to him later?" Jack stopped his progress to the door of his office at Vivian's words. He studied the bullpen quickly and noted the presence of Sam and Danny but Martin's desk was notably empty and dark.

"He was injured last night." Vivian raised her hand as Jack whirled around to face her. "It's not serious. Danny had him checked at the scene and Samantha made sure he got to the ER for a thorough exam. Bruised bones notably the hip and shoulder, strained and pulled muscles in his back and hip and a hefty bruise to his head but no concussion. Still, the doctor insisted he take 72 hours to rest in light of his recent injuries and I have strongly agreed with the doctor's assessment."

Jack gave Vivian a wry look that told her he was glad he wasn't on the receiving end of such a 'strong agreement' from her. She gave him her most innocent smile and then lightly pushed him to the door.

"Everybody is fine here and I've got things covered. Like I said, I'll talk to Martin later and get his full brief, I'll probably do a face to face with him at his apartment to get the best read and have him note his points so he can complete his report upon his return, all right?"

Jack nodded relieved that he had such a strong team to back him up at this time when he himself was in need of support at the sudden loss of a long-time friend and agent. "Thanks, Viv."

"Go. Don't keep 'upstairs' waiting."


Bang. Bang. Bang.

Martin bolted upright the sounds of gunshots ringing in his ears. Gasping for air he looked frantically around him; his apartment. He tried to slow his breathing as he realized that it had all been a dream, a nightmare really. He was home, in the middle of the day. There was no blue van, no rain-slicked street, no smell of gunpowder, no burning rubber assaulting his nostrils. Just his living room, television on the sports channel showing some soccer game halfway around the world, sound down low.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

This time the sound made sense to him, knocking, someone was knocking on his door. Taking a deep breath he swung his feet to the floor, stood up and gingerly began to move as aching muscles gave voice to their distress but it was a voice he was easily able to push aside. Reaching the door he slid open the view hole and saw Vivian standing in the hall.

"Hang on, Viv."

"All right, Martin."

Rubbing his hands briskly over his face in an effort to wipe away any trace of sleep he then reached out and unlocked the door and opened it for her to enter.


Vivian looked him up and down, yep, woke him up.

"Hey, handsome." She gave him a smile as she stepped into his apartment. It had been quite some time since she had last been here. At that time both of them were still on medical leave although she was only a week away from going back to work and Martin had been home for just a week….


Vivian paused for a moment before knocking. She'd called ahead and arranged a brief visit with Martin for today and he'd sounded happy that she was coming. She adjusted the handle of the carryall in her hand and knocked she was really looking forward to seeing him again now that he was out of the hospital.

She heard footsteps, brisk and steady, *Not Martin.* she thought and then the door opened and she found herself face to face with Victor Fitzgerald.

"Assistant Deputy Director Fitzgerald, what an unexpected surprise." Vivian said as he smiled at her from within his son's apartment.

"I think you can call me Victor, since were out of the office, don't you think?"

Vivian smiled warmly as she noted the barest of crinkling around the man's eyes, *Victor Fitzgerald smiles, amazing.*

"All right, but only if you call me Vivian." She answered in return.

"Thank you, Vivian, please come on in. Martin has been expecting you."

Entering Martin's apartment she saw the unmistakable evidence of a long-term recuperation, blankets and pillows on the couch, table pulled close with an assortment of meds, juice and water glasses, tissues and remote and books all scattered for ease of reach, much like her living room had been until earlier this week..

"Martin will be out in a moment, he's just getting something from the bedroom." Victor said, as he offered to take the bag she was carrying and gestured for her to take a seat.

"Thank you, Victor." Vivian replied as she handed him the padded carryall. "I made some soup, chicken with lots of broth a few vegetables, nothing too rough for him and there's some other homemade goodies in there that he may like or he can freeze until he's feeling up to it."

"That's great, I'll put these in the fridge and let him decide. Can I get you something to drink, coffee, tea, water anything?" Victor asked as he headed to the kitchen.

"Water would be great, I don't want to impose." Vivian answered barely containing a smile, *who would have thought that Victor Fitzgerald could be so – so socially polite.*

"It's not a bother if you'd rather something else, I've just been boiling water for tea for Martin I can easily add a cup for you."

"Tea would be nice, thank you. And thank you so much for the plant and the book. How did you know I wanted to learn about Bonsais?" Vivian asked as she settled in a chair and lifted one of the books that was stacked on the coffee table.

Victor appeared from the kitchen with a tray of mugs, milk, sugar, lemons and an assortment of herbal teas that he placed on the table and then handed one of the steaming mugs to Vivian. Stepping back he answered, "Martin shares a lot about his colleagues with me, especially of late. He likes working with you very much."

Vivian accepted the steaming mug and selected a flavor and began steeping the teabag. "Well, it was very thoughtful of you and I have been enjoying learning about the art and sculpting my bonsai."

"Good, I'm glad. I'm going to head out for a couple of hours, give you and Martin some time and--" Victor cast a quick look back down the hall and then leaned a bit closer to Vivian eyeing her meaningfully. "I know you'll be careful but as a father I can't help but---" Victor paused and took a breath, "Well, just watch him closely, he has a stubborn tendency of trying to overdo because he's a bit frustrated with his recovery. He had therapy this morning and that takes quite a bit out of him so just keep an eye out, please."

"Of course, I know what he's going through to some extent and I'll keep care."

"I know. A parent worries, right?" Once again Victor smiled.

"That they do, Victor; that they do." Vivian returned the smile amazed and somewhat saddened that it had taken Martin's near death to bring out the warmth in this man but then just as suddenly she realized that perhaps this was some of the good that was supposed to come out of a bad situation.


This time looking around the apartment she didn't note the usual assortment of items indicating a lengthy convalescence, which heartened her; she knew his injuries were not serious. Still, looking at him she noted something in his eyes—something she couldn't quite identify although her first reaction was fear that made no sense whatsoever however her mind catalogued, tagged and filed away the impression.

"Thanks for seeing me this afternoon." Vivian placed her handbag on a table and kept her notebook and pen handy.

"Not like I had a full calendar of appointments." Martin replied managing a small smile in an attempt to smooth out a surly tone.

"Yeah, well for better or for worse we're batting clean up today as well with no new cases coming online so I'm glad to get over here for a face-to-face debrief with you."

"Yeah, no problem, truth be told, I am kinda lonely." He shrugged, then winced as that pulled on some sore muscles and gave her a small but genuine smile.

"Well, we can't have you lonely, can we?" Vivian replied and then she proceeded to debrief him.

Vivian jotted her notes in clean precise handwriting while Martin recounted his part in the action of the night before. She listened carefully and noted that while he seemed at ease with the subject and readily remembered the details his tone reflected an almost robotic quality when he got to the part about getting hit with the pipe, falling down the stairs and then his final part in the apprehension of Simmons.

Again her mind catalogued the information noting his almost impersonal recounting of the events as if it was simply part of the event and not something that happened to him.

After about 45 minutes she had all the information, at least enough to present a decent draft of his report stating she'd get that typed up and have it waiting for him upon his return for final review and revisions before submission with the case file. Taking a final sip of her water that he'd gotten for her just after they'd started their discussion she set the glass down and then leaned forward a bit studying Martin.

He returned her gaze quizzically and then gave her a small smile, "What?"

"Nothing I just – Martin, you sure you're all right, really all right?"

"Viv, the doctor assured me nothing is broken, no permanent damage done, just some pulled and strained muscles, bruised bones and a good sharp bang on the head that fortunately didn't even result in a concussion; I'm fine."

"I know all that, Martin. What I want to know is how are you doing with being back out of work again so soon after just getting back up to full speed?"

She watched as Martin's smile slipped revealing a hard façade that disappeared as quickly as it had appeared and the smile reasserted itself. "Well, obviously it's not ideal to dip back into some sick time so quick but, better than being laid up in the hospital again or having to face hours and hours of physical therapy, and don't get me started on hospital food again."

"Green jello." They both chorused simultaneously.

Vivian wasn't convinced with Martin's answer since he had danced around the question more than he had answered it but she decided to let it go at that, Martin wouldn't give anymore until he was ready but at least he knew she was willing and available to talk should he wish to.

"Well, all right, I'm convinced for now, but seriously, don't worry about it, nobody wants anything for you other than a quick recovery and return to work and if you're not feeling up to it come Monday, then don't rush, it's not worth it."

Martin nodded in appreciation and after exchanging a few more comments with Vivian saw her to the door and watched as she headed down the hallway. Once again closed and locked inside his apartment his mind wondered turning over her words, both said and unsaid What had she meant by "if you're not feeling up to it come Monday," what did she see?

Chapter 10

Monday came and Martin returned to work. Once again he rode the elevator to the 12th floor alone, only this time there was no fear, no pit in his stomach threatening to send him running for the nearest trashcan. This time when the door opened he strode with confidence and vigor down the hall and set his backpack on his desk, fired up his computer and flipped on his desk light.

Thank God there was no one else there to see because he was certain they'd see right through him. He was happy to have returned to work if for no other reason then to keep his mind occupied and hopefully tire out his body and his mind enough that he'd be able to sleep through the night instead of waking every few hours in a cold sweat while sights and sounds flashed inside his head.

He couldn't put all the images together but he did come up with what it all meant, he was remembering. The shooting, the car ride, Danny, Dornvald, all those images had been recorded and locked within his brain and now they were spilling forth. The problem was that not only were the images flashing in his mind but they were vivid, and there were sounds and smells and – and there was pain.

This morning's little wake up had been particularly traumatic wrenching Martin screaming in terror from sleep. He was covered in sweat, shaking and had barely made it to the bathroom before he convulsed over the toilet bowl spilling bile and gagging on the dry heaves as his body physically reacted to the mental images. It had seemed so real.

Shaking with cold and the aftereffects Martin had run a scalding hot shower and tried to steam away the soreness in his body and his mind while simultaneously trying to warm his icy skin. He had been less than successful on all fronts and even now, hours after his early morning awakening, he still felt chilled, and thus it was he still wore his overcoat in the office.

Danny was the next to arrive in the bullpen and he chattered away about his weekend and the demise of New York's baseball teams all the while seemingly oblivious to Martin's quietness and his physical demeanor. Martin for his part simply nodded or interjected an appropriately timed 'really?' all the while huddled in his outer coat scanning emails and praying for warmth.

Behind him he missed Danny's nod of concern that was caught by Sam who gave Martin a close look before heading to the break room. She reappeared carrying a steaming mug with a string hanging out the side, obviously attached to a tea bag, and set it down at Martin's elbow while she perched herself on the side of his desk.

"Hey, you. How about taking your coat off and staying awhile." She smiled in apology at the poor joke but inclined her head to the mug of tea. Leaning in close she whispered, "No one will think anything of it if you aren't feeling well enough to be here."

At that Martin glanced up in surprise. "What do you mean? I feel fine."

"Really, because you look a bit pale and you're positively shivering in that heavy overcoat. I know summer is over but still it's only October, Martin, I mean really, the temperature is 50 this morning, that's not cold by any stretch."

"I – uh – ran out of hot water – well, I mean, there was something wrong with the hot water this morning so I took a cold shower and I'm still chilled that's all." Martin lied without really thinking about it and as he heard himself say the words he knew it sounded like a lie, a bad lie, but he was relieved when Sam gave him a grin, pushed the tea closer to him and then left him alone.

The day wore on and Martin found himself hitting all the right rhythms with the day. He and Danny had been out of the office most of the day re-interviewing witnesses from a case that was a couple of months old but some new leads had developed and they'd both managed to make some connections that lead to additional leads and breathed new life into a cold case. Neither expected the victim to be found alive after all this time but still, closure was closure and sometimes that was the best that could happen in the Missing Person's Unit.

As Martin drove the two of them back to the office he realized that he was tired, physically and mentally. It was a good tired the kind of tired from having put in a hard, productive day at work, there was also a sense of satisfaction.

As he drove down the street keeping pace with the traffic he listened as Danny summarized their findings to Jack on the phone. Seeing the car several lengths ahead turn to yellow he removed his foot without thinking from the gas and gently applied the brakes; obediently the car slowed. As frequently happens in city traffic one person allowing for extra room allows another to take advantage and this time was no different. Martin almost read the other driver's mind knowing full well he was going to swing into the lane in front of him; Martin for his part didn't care and braked harder allowing the blue van to dart in front of him and stop abruptly right at the light.

The explosion of sound and smell and adrenaline and pain hit Martin so fast he was nearly overwhelmed by it. First was the taste of iron in his mouth as his body responded to what only it knew and flooded his system with adrenaline, after that Martin's ears were deafened by the hammering of bullets through the air and then the car shuddered around him with their impact.

He began to cough with the smell of gun powder and his breath caught in his throat as the smoke all but choked him, finally came the pain, the searing burn through his chest and abdomen as small bits of metal tore through flesh and muscle, tissue and bone and embedded themselves into his body leaving a trail of destruction, blood, shock and damage in their wake.

Honk! Honk! Honk!

"Martin, Martin."

Martin turned to his right and saw Danny staring at him blood pouring from his forehead ---


Martin shook himself and turned to his right and saw Danny staring at him in confusion, cell phone held to his ear.

"Martin, the light is green."

Looking forward Martin saw the light was green, the blue van that had pulled in front of him was several car lengths down the street and all other traffic was moving. The sound of the horn honking from behind him sounded again and numbly he pressed down on the gas pedal resuming their travel to the office.

As the week passed Martin found it increasingly difficult to get any quality sleep at night. No sooner would he fall asleep when his mind was assailed by flashes of light and the thundering sound of bullets. He'd wake choking on imaginary gun smoke clutching at his chest in agony only to realize there was no blood, no holes. Once he was so caught up in the sensations assaulting him that he tore his shirt so frantic were his efforts to check for bullet holes.

Each day he'd piece himself together though and head into the office as if everything was fine. The last thing he wanted now was for anyone to be second guessing his fitness for work. Van Doren had made no further suggestions about adding another agent, he and Sam had found their friendship again, Danny and he were joking like always, Jack was leaning on him to carry cases especially now as Jack was still reeling a bit from the death of his long-time friend and Vivian and he no longer walked around with sympathetic glances thrown their way, both fully up to speed and neither found themselves seeking out the other for commiseration at the 'kid glove like treatment.'

So rather than share his new found memories or seek 'deep emotional' conversations with anyone Martin tried to lock them away figuring that since he and Danny had both finally made peace with their respective roles in the shooting the last thing he wanted was to drag Danny down into some self-pitying spiral with him.

However he realized something would have to change and change rapidly once he started to work the following week. It had now been just shy of two weeks since his tumble down the stairs and subsequent trip to the ER and though much of the physical aches and pains had disappeared his inability to get any quality sleep was severely affecting not only his mental concentration but his physical appearance. When he looked in the mirror that morning in preparation for shaving he realized he had serious bags under his eyes which were evidently bloodshot and his complexion was pale.

Rubbing his face did nothing to remove any of the negative aspects of his appearance and he knew he was unlikely to escape anyone's scrutiny today.

True enough shortly after he arrived he was summoned to Jack's office.

"Hey, Jack, what's up?" Martin asked hoping for a casual tone.

"Martin, have a seat." Jack gestured without standing from his chair behind the desk.

Martin allowed the door to close behind him as he stepped fully into Jack's office and sat down in one of the chairs across the desk from his boss.

"How you doing?" Jack set his glasses down, folded his hands on the paperwork in front of him and faced Martin assessing him.

"I'm fine, why do you ask?" Martin responded trying to keep his voice neutral and create a mildly curious facial expression.

"You look – you look off today and since you had the weekend off and not too eventful of a week last week, I'm surprised that's all."

Martin forced a small laugh and went for what he hoped was an amused look on his face when he replied, "Jack, uh, just haven't slept that great for a couple of days nothing more than that."

"Any particular reason?"

"Not that I'm aware of, look every now and again I lose a little sleep, no big deal, I stay up and read a book and then by the time I'm ready for sleep it's time to get up."

Jack nodded silently as he evaluated Martin's response. "Good book?"


"You said you read a book, what's the title of it?" Jack's eyes narrowed slightly.

Martin paused a moment before he answered. "I was reading Alive, the story about the rugby team that crashed in the Andes."

"Hmm." Jack responded.

Silence sat heavy between the two men for another few moments before Jack stood up signaling the end of the conversation.

"As long as you're doing all right. Just wanted to make sure."

"I'm fine, Jack, thanks for the concern." Martin stood and stepped to the door, opening it and stepping partway through before Jack's voice behind him stopped him.

"Why don't you head out a little early today if things remain quiet, get some sleep."

Martin swallowed and narrowed his eyes as he looked back at Jack. "Fine, we'll see what the day dictates and go from there."

With that Martin headed back to the bullpen and Jack remained standing at his desk watching.

The team remained quiet for the remainder of the day. Time was spent dealing with paperwork on some cases they were wrapping up as well as following some leads that came in on other cases.

When Jack entered the bullpen and pointedly cleared his throat at Martin, dutifully began packing up. Danny looked up from the conference table the two men had been working at watching curiously but keeping quiet. Jack took Martin's seat at the conference table and watched along with Danny who continued to throw curious and confused stares both at Martin and Jack. Once Martin left the area heading to the elevators, Danny leaned forward and addressed Jack.

"Uh, what was that all about, Jack?"

"Just making sure the team is running on all cylinders is all and Martin looks a little rough around the edges, so I sent him home early."

"Yeah, well he's been fine all day, hasn't missed a beat." Danny was a little defensive on Martin's behalf but at the same time a little relieved because although Martin had been on top of all the data they'd been reviewing and easily remembering facts and details Danny did notice how pale his features were and the dark circles under his eyes. He also noted and had lost count of how many times the man had yawned and rubbed at his eyes. Thoughtfully he returned his attention to the paperwork in front of him and quickly summarized some of their latest observations to Jack who spent the remainder of the afternoon working with him looking for any possible angles in the case that had eluded them so far.

Pain, hot pain searing through his chest and abdomen woke Martin from his sleep. Clutching at his chest and scrambling frantically to get free from the tangle of bed sheets Martin reached out for the light knocking several items off his bed stand in the process. Gasping for air and blinking his eyes as they adjusted to the now bright room he bent over at the edge of the bed trying to calm his mind and slow the rising nausea.

After a few moments he was able to lift his head without fear of dinner making an encore appearance and as his breathing slowed and his mind cleared he looked around at the clock checking the time. 12:30 a.m. *Damn* He'd only finally managed to get his mind to slow enough to allow him to drift off into an uneasy sleep shortly after 11:00 p.m. and now this latest nightmare had his system flooded with adrenaline; it would be awhile before he was able to calm himself enough to try sleeping again.

*Great, Jack will take one look at me and send me home or worse, back to Lisa and then Van Doren will likely send down a message to Jack that perhaps he should rethink bringing a new agent onto the team.*

Ruefully Martin stood up and immediately hopped to the side as his foot encountered something cold and wet. Looking down he realized the carpet was soaked and then he noticed that in his haste to turn the light on he'd managed to knock over the glass of water he kept at his bedside and the contents were dripping down the side of the table and puddling on the carpet. Also on the carpet was his watch which he grabbed quickly checking to make sure it had escaped the water – it had, and two pill bottles.

Plucking those from the floor as well he glanced quickly noting that one was for his recent prescription for Tylenol III and the other was a leftover from before for Vicodin. Absently he read the label, 'Take with food' 'Do not take with alcohol' 'Likely to cause drowsiness' – huh, well, hell, Martin thought, sleep is what the doctor otherwise known as Jack ordered.

Prying open the lid Martin shook the bottle gently noting about a dozen or so pills in there, no problem he thought, take one and get a good night's rest. Tipping the bottle so that one pill fell into the palm of his hand he recapped the bottle, picked up the tipped glass from the bed stand and walked to the bathroom to fill it. Tossing back the pill he swallowed it with a mouthful of water and then returned to the bedroom, wiped up the water on the table and floor with a towel he brought from the bathroom, climbing into bed, turned out the light and waited for sleep to reclaim him.

Chapter 11

The next morning Martin awoke just before the alarm feeling more rested than he had in several days. Examining his face in the bathroom mirror while the shower water warmed up he noted the remnants of circles and a little redness in his eyes from lack of sleep but had to agree he looked better. After showering, shaving and getting dressed for work, he grabbed his coffee that had brewed thanks to the modern convenience of a timer. Breakfast was quick work this morning as he hoped to get into the office ahead of everyone else – well, except Jack, the man seemed to live there, but wanted a chance to be settled and at work.

Luck was with him this time and the beginning of his morning worked just as he'd hoped. He got into the office, satisfactorily passed Jack's inquiring glance and was working through some reports that had been dropped on his desk when the rest of the team arrived.

The day began with an odd case, a woman found in a mental health ward with no idea of who she was. Sam began lightly investigating it on Jack's okay, then Jack disappeared on personal business and before long the team was actively tracing this amnesiac woman's last days, hours, minutes trying to piece together her life. .

Martin focused on the case and as the day continued he didn't think of anything but the job and his next question, next search, next line of investigation. However, there were moments, the oddest moments, when something snuck up and grabbed him, like in the afternoon when he and Vivian were watching some video footage, all of a sudden he felt a stabbing pain in his abdomen and for a moment couldn't breathe, then the chills began and he struggled not to shiver although his skin was clammy and cold. However he brushed it off as the case was coming together quickly and by the end of the day he was only too happy to head home.

He was so thoroughly exhausted when he got home he was certain sleep would come without difficulty and he went to bed without any extra assistance. However as had happened in the past no sooner had he fallen asleep then the nightmares started. His subconscious mind had managed to record bits and images and was mixing them up in his head and bringing them forward.

Without the distraction of conscious thought Martin's mind sifted and sorted the images and played them constantly and with increasing speed so that his sleep was filled with images of bullets and weapons' flashes and a car slamming into a gunman; he 'saw' himself falling down a flight of metal steps; Dornvald standing over him shooting him over and over again; Danny bleeding, his own chest oozing blood until at last he would bolt upright in bed shaking, dripping in sweat, panting and stumbling to turn on the light while checking his chest and abdomen for blood.

Rising from his bed Martin headed to the bathroom and ran cold water over his face trying to wipe the sweat away. Peeling off his t- shirt that was soaked in sweat he tossed it into the hamper. He wet a washcloth, wrung it semi-dry and then wiped the cool cloth over his arms and up his shoulders, across his chest and abdomen wiping away the sweat and cooling his body. His eyes watched the movement of the cloth in the mirror and he stopped and stared at the scars that would forever be reminders of how much his life has been changed.

Rousing himself from his reverie Martin opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed the bottle of Vicodin, popped the lid and shook one pill into his hand. Glaring at the tablet as if it were the enemy for a moment he popped into his mouth and dry swallowed it. Tossing the bottle back into the cabinet he closed the door forcibly, put the wash cloth back on the towel bar and headed back to his bedroom. Deciding to forego a shirt for the remainder of the night he climbed back into bed, switched out the light and resigned himself to the sleep that would come when the pill finally began to work.

The next two weeks passed in similar fashion, during the night Martin slept soundly never bothered by any dreams or flashes of pain, however, during the daytime it was a different story. During the day he would frequently be assaulted with flashes in his mind, sometimes he would conjure sounds that had him looking around to see if someone had actually spoken or perhaps heard the sounds he did.

He caught himself once while standing at the white board adding information to the timeline of their recent case and he 'heard' gunshots, it was only through extreme control was he able to hide his fear and his instinctive desire to duck for cover. The only other person in the bullpen at that time was Danny and while Martin had been telling Danny what he was adding to the board, Danny had his back to Martin grabbing some sheets off the printer and didn't seem to notice that Martin's voice hesitated for a longer than normal period of time.

Another incident occurred when he, Danny and Sam were searching in a hospital following a lead on their latest missing person, a paramedic. They split up and Martin found himself in the ER talking to other EMS teams that were there.

As he was showing their MP's photo the doors to the ambulance bay whooshed open and personnel came rushing through with an injured person on a stretcher. As they rushed past he heard the paramedic inform the doctor: "White male, mid-30's gunshot wound to abdomen." As the words hit his ears he felt a slash of pain across his torso and images flashed through his brain. He could 'see' fluorescent lights flashing above him; 'feel' his body strapped to a backboard, his neck contained in a cervical collar. He 'felt' the movement of the stretcher as he was wheeled into a room.

As rapidly as the stretcher bearing the injured victim passed him by so did the images and sensations. Martin was left shaking with chills while beads of perspiration dotted his forehead. Using the ensuing activity as an excuse he slipped out of the ER and stepped out into the ambulance bay eager to get some fresh air to clear his mind. Danny found him there a short time later.

"Martin, hey, I've been looking for you. We found his partner and he's heading to the office with Sam right now. Martin?" Danny stopped in front of Martin and noted the pallor of his partner's face. He reached out a hand to touch his shoulder but stopped just as he saw Martin's eyes flash recognition at his presence. "Did you hear me? Hey, you okay, man?"

Martin cleared his throat and rubbed a shaky hand over his face before turning to face Danny fully. "Yeah, man, I'm fine. Just need some lunch or something, low blood sugar. So, we're out of here you said?"

Danny narrowed his eyes and assessed his partner thoughtfully as he answered. "Yeah, we're good. I came to find you, so let's go."


That night Martin's sleep was fitful at best as the bottle of Vicodin, the container of his enemy and ally of the past few weeks, was empty. With no pills to help with sleep Martin passed the night alternately staring out the window at the scene of the city at night and tossing in his bed.

The next week Martin's physical appearance started showing the strain of the mental and emotional burden he had managed to contain up until then.


"Martin, hold the elevator for me." Danny called. Martin paused halfway into the elevator, turned and saw Danny jogging to catch up. Danny reached the elevator and stepped in behind him. As the doors closed he turned to look at his partner and friend who was doing his best to appear normal.

"So, interesting case today, huh?" Danny started neutrally as the elevator began its descent.

"I suppose."

"How 'bout we grab some dinner, there's that great steak place just around the corner, my treat."

Just then the elevator signaled the ending of their descent, garage level. As the doors opened Martin stepped out of the car and turned to Danny who was following closely. "Sounds good," his agreement surprising them both.

The two friends ate their dinner in a companionable manner while chatting about sports. When their plates had been cleared Danny asked the waiter for two cups of coffee and then sat calmly, waiting while Martin eyed him suspiciously. After the waiter delivered their coffee, Danny spoke.

"You know that case we had a week or so ago with the paramedic?"

Martin looked at Danny with confusion. "Yeah." He remembered it just fine, the hospital, the ER, the sleepless nights since then, yeah, he remembered all right.

"You know when Cole got shot – I tried to stop the bleeding." Danny looked at his hands that he'd raised slightly, palm up. "I couldn't though."

Martin sat quietly.

"Sometimes I still see it, you know, the blood." Danny stopped speaking and studied his hands another moment before he looked at Martin who was watching him carefully.

"For a moment it was like being back in the street – back when Dornvald…"

Martin nodded and for the next few minutes neither man spoke. Martin chanced a couple of looks at Danny. He could tell his friend was struggling a bit with the memories. Strangely relieved that he wasn't alone in dealing with flashes back to the shooting he decided to throw a couple of his cards on the table.

"Right after the fall down the stairs, you know, when chasing Simmons, it was like I – I could 'see' –I don't know how to say this without you thinking I'm crazy but I could see images in my mind . . . flashes of things that go back to the shooting."

Danny nodded encouragingly he knew just what Martin was talking about. How many times had he awoken in the night with images of Martin's blood gushing through his hands; he'd lost count.

"When Sam took me to the pharmacy that night and went inside leaving me out in the car I must have dozed off a bit but then I heard a horn and when I opened my eyes there was a blue van in front of me and Dornvald appeared and shooting started – only," Martin chuckled nervously, "only there wasn't anything or anybody there."

Stopping for a moment already afraid he'd said too much Martin chanced a quick sip of his coffee and glanced surreptitiously at Danny gauging his friend's response. To his relief Danny looked thoughtful and calm there was no incredulity or judgment in his expression.

"I still jump if a car backfires. Also, I don't always sleep that great." Danny added.

"Yeah, I was having trouble sleeping and that's why Jack got on my case and sent me home early."

"I remember. So is it getting any easier?

"It was." Martin replied and stopped as his cell phone began to ring. Pulling it from his jacket he noted the caller ID, command post at MPU. Sighing inwardly, as he figured it was a case and he was catching this week he gave Danny a quick glance and mouthed the word "case" as he flipped open his phone and answered

Danny listened to the side of the call he could hear and since he was backup this week quickly realized they'd caught a missing person case; at least they'd gotten a decent meal.

Thirty minutes later the two of them were in a parking garage with the police and evidence techs trying to piece together the slim fragments of information they'd been given on their latest MP, Gina Hill, psychiatrist. Danny talked with the tech who was measuring the strip of rubber that appeared fresh, likely left by whoever abducted Dr. Hill. After ascertaining that an SUV was the likely vehicle to have left such a track he returned to the doctor's car where Martin was searching while an evidence technician finished shooting pictures. Danny noted Martin flinched each time the flash went off but quickly recomposed his face, hiding the reaction.

As Martin stepped from the car Danny came up beside him and filled him in. "Looks like a robbery gone bad."

"Yeah, I don't know. Her ID is missing but there's still two hundred bucks in her purse." Martin gestured to the purse that was lying just to the rear of the car, the contents spilled onto the concrete. "And it looks like she went down swinging, look at the scuff marks from her shoes when she was dragged away."

"Looks like she was dragged into a truck or SUV based on the rubber left behind. The driver smashed through the guard arm at the exit as they lit out of here. Whoever did this wasn't taking no for an answer." The two agents shared an experienced look knowing the slim evidence they had thus far did not bode well for their MP.

An hour later the team was back in action. Samantha and Martin were at Don McGraw's residence, Gina Hill's fiancé. As Sam questioned the man about Gina's habits, any strange phone calls or hang ups, any suspicious mail or people she seemed to be afraid of Martin struggled to take notes. Several times he had to stop and clench and unclench his hand in an effort to stop the shaking and then began taking notes again. At the end of the interview he flipped the pad closed and placed it inside his jacket pocket while making a mental note to be sure no one saw those notes as the handwriting was slanted and shaking and anyone who saw it would know something was wrong. He didn't want anyone looking at him as if he was fragile anymore.

By morning the team was still no closer to finding Gina Hill and the toll from the back to back cases showed on everyone. Coffee and the adrenaline needed to fuel an investigation kept people going but only for so long and one by one the team alternated in grabbing a couple hours of shut eye. For Martin's part his few short hours of down time was spent taking a long hot shower trying to ease sore muscles and tension and then fitfully tossing on his couch for less than an hour before giving up entirely.

The drive back downtown proved as disturbing as the ride uptown had been only a short time earlier. At each red light he was forced to stop at his heart would race and he'd begin to sweat. *Great, by the time I get back to the office I'm gonna need to change my shirt.*

It didn't help that twice other vehicles cut in front of him when he was slowing for a red light and he was forced to swallow back on the bile that threatened.

Upon arriving at the office he quickly stopped at the men's room to splash some water on his face and tried to compose himself. After a few minutes he felt able to make it to his desk without either throwing up or letting anyone see that he was at less than full speed.

In the bullpen the team was running down their leads and sharing their information when Martin arrived. The afternoon raced by as leads were followed out, anxious calls by Gina's fiancé were returned and then the pattern emerged as Vince was identified and rapidly the pieces came together. Once they figured out Vince was the 'other man' in Gina's life the team tracked down other women who had been lured into his dangerous web, the atmosphere took on a charged quality as if the team sensed their time, and thus Gina's was running low. When security footage came in from a local pawn shop showing Gina Hill with the man they identified as Vince buying a rifle, they knew their time was up.


Martin pulled up outside Gina's residence. The lights were on and there were vehicles in the driveway. He crept cautiously to the window and peered inside. He saw Gina and Don, Don tied up and Gina shaking in fear, he angled his eyes slightly and saw the reason for the fear, Vince.

Stepping back from the window he pulled out his phone and hit the speed dial to Jack.


"Hey, Jack, he's here. He's at Gina's house."


We're going to send the cavalry in.

Don't do anything until they get there." Jack commanded. Martin was about to answer when raised voices from inside the house caught his attention.

He stepped closer and heard Vin shouting for Gina to shut up. Stepping back he put his phone back up to his ear.

"Look, things are coming apart in there.

I've got to go."

Flipping his phone shut he slipped it back inside his jacket pocket, pulled his gun from the holster and moved quickly to the back door.

Trying the knob quietly he was relieved when it turned easily and opened, unlocked.

Good. Stepping through the door he quickly and quietly closed it behind him.

Tightening his grip on the handle of his gun he stepped through the kitchen and positioned himself at the edge of the room behind the doorframe and listened to the voices in the other room. "You betrayed me, Gina.

Just like all these women do." Vince yelled. "Just stop.

Just stop this and you can walk away."

Martin could hear the pleading fear in Gina's voice.

He knew enough about her and Vince to know that she was in way over her head, doctor of psychiatry notwithstanding, she had no idea what Vince was truly capable of doing. "Oh, I'm going to walk away when I'm done here." At Vince's infuriated response Martin risked a quick glance into the room to assess the situation.

As he did he felt a wave of nausea roll over him and clamped his teeth hard on the inside of his mouth to keep his focus.

His eyes swept the room and he saw Vince and the gun he holds, he saw Gina pleading for it all to end.

Ducking back from the edge of the doorframe Martin looked at the gun in his hand and saw his hand shaking.

Pulling in a column of air down into his lungs he willed the pain to stop flaring in his chest, the sound of bullets raining against metal to silence in his head, he pushed back the sound of desperation in Danny's voice and the sensation of being dragged from a car and lain onto the cold, wet pavement while his shirt was soaking with his own blood and sticking to his chest. "You can take some money, just…"Gina pleads. "This isn't about money.

It never was!"

Vince shouts. "Okay.

Please, Vince, just leave him out of this, okay?"

"You want me to hurt him, this fine upstanding man of yours, because I am going to blow his head off!"

"Baby, I'll do anything.

Just let him go.

I'll do anything you want."

"You're going to have to work really hard to change my mind."

"I'm going to give you whatever you want."

"Ah, see.

That's what I'm talking about.

Listen, I hope you get a good view of this one." Martin focused again and stuck his head and gun hand around the doorframe.


Drop the gun!" Immediately Martin ducked back behind the wall as Vince whirled and fired a volley that punched holes into the wall.

Acting on training and adrenaline Martin returned fire, two quick shots hit Vince dead center in the chest.

The impact threw Vince backwards swinging the rifle to the ceiling where his trigger finger reacted off of nerve impulses still firing and sent the next volley straight up into the ceiling.

As Vince was propelled back and away from Gina and Don Martin took a final shot, dead center and sent Vince through the glass door out into the chilly night air. Forty minutes later Jack pulled up, lights blazing, siren wailing.

He was ahead of the coroner but behind Danny and Sam who both managed to beat him to the address.

He saw Sam talking to a police lieutenant standing over the body of Vince while crimes scene technicians started taking photos.

He walked over briefly and looked down at Vince, noted the three holes 'center mass', the glass sprinkled around him, the curtains tangled beneath his body.

Ducking under the crime scene tape he headed up the steps and into the house.

There he saw Gina Hill and Don McGraw being checked by paramedics while Danny questioned them and jotted notes.

Looking further he saw crime scene technicians photographing the living room scene and the interior of the window that Vince had been propelled through.

Noting plaster on the floor he looked up and saw the damage to the ceiling when Vince apparently fired into the ceiling.

Seeing movement from beyond the living room Jack focused and saw Martin appear.

He took in the sight of his agent, pale, dark circles under his eyes, expression almost dazed perhaps desperate.

Narrowing his eyes Jack flicked his gaze to Danny who had turned abruptly upon hearing Martin's approach.

There was something watchful, intense in Danny's eyes as if was assessing his partner.

Jack noted the subtle movement on Danny's part as if in support and he watched Martin's reaction or complete nonreaction as if he wasn't even aware anyone else was there.

Making a decision Jack approached his agent with a nonchalance he didn't feel but he didn't want to spook the man.

Reaching Martin he gestured slightly and the two of them moved partially down a hall away from the occupants of the living room and front entrance. "Martin, you all right?"

Jack purposefully pitched his voice low both to keep others from overhearing as well as to not disturb the man. Martin looked at him and then his eyes slid right past him and stared off.

Jack turned to look and found that Martin's line of sight still encompassed the remnants of the glass door through which Vince had exited the house. Jack cast his gaze up and down and noted that beyond the pallor and dark circles that Martin was sweating and shivering. While Jack knew his agent was experienced, still it never got easier when firing one's gun and especially if that meant taking someone's life, but this seemed extreme.

"Why don't you tell me what happened." As senior agent he had to get a preliminary statement.

In short clipped sentences Martin outlined everything that transpired since hanging up his cell call earlier.

Jack listened and nodded and jotted a couple of short notes.

When he asked Martin for his gun he learned Danny already had secured it.

"All right.

I'm gonna have Danny and you go back to the office.

You can start writing up your preliminary statement there and then head home.

We'll tackle this more tomorrow.

All right?"

For a moment Jack wasn't certain if he'd been heard but then Martin nodded his head slightly.

Putting his hand on Martin's shoulder Jack squeezed briefly and then turned back to find Danny standing there watching the two of them.

"You secured his gun?"

"I have it here."

Danny reached into his overcoat and pulled the gun, encased in its holster, out and handed it to Jack. "Good.

I want you take him back to the office.

He's given me a statement.

I need him to write up his preliminary statement for review and put it on my desk.

Then take him home.

He'll be interviewed by the shooting review team tomorrow."

"Got it." Turning back to Martin Jack found him still standing in almost the exact position he'd left him.

"Martin." Martin's eyes focused a bit and he turned to look at Jack.

For a moment the room spun and instead of seeing Jack standing less than five feet above him he saw Jack hovering beside him.

For a moment he felt the cold wet pavement on his back.

For a moment he felt pressure on his chest that made it near impossible to breathe.

He heard Jack's voice speaking but it was as if he was far away and while he could see his lips moving he couldn't make out the words. "Martin!" Blinking his eyes rapidly Martin shook his head slightly and realized that Jack was standing right in front of him.

Turning slightly he took in the sight of Gina Hill's living room and saw flashes from cameras recording a photographic diary of the scene while other techs lifted bullets from the ceiling and took measurements on the floor. "Martin, I'm going to have Danny take you back to the office.

All right?"


"I need you to go with Danny now.

All right?"

"Sure." Martin followed Danny out of the house, down the steps, under the crime scene tape and out to the curb where Danny's car was parked.

Climbing into the passenger side he mechanically fastened his seatbelt and then sat, hands folded on his lap and waited for Danny to drive the car. Outside Jack stopped Danny with a hand to his shoulder.

Surprised Danny turned to look at him.

"What is it?"

"I think he's in shock.

Get him warm.

Get his prelim quick and then get him home."

"Got it, Jack." On the drive back to the office Danny kept glancing over at Martin who for his part seemed oblivious of the scrutiny and sat quietly in the passenger seat.

At the office Danny followed Martin off the elevator and down the corridor to the bullpen.

He watched as Martin booted up his computer, shrugged his jacket off and settled in beginning to type.

Danny sat at his desk and typed all his notes from his interviews at the Hill residence into an after action summary and then listed the questions he'd need to review again before they were done. By the time Danny completed that task Martin was printing his summary.

The two men moved to the small conference table in the middle of the bullpen and Danny went scanned through the summation and then began asking the questions all over again looking for any changes in the details, there were none.

Danny hadn't doubted Martin's story the first time he'd heard it and since his interviews of Gina and her fiancé only verified Martin's actions he didn't expect anything to change.

What was troubling though was that Martin's responses were almost robotic, as if he was reciting actions that he'd seen, not actions he'd participated in.

Danny looked closely and noted that Martin's eyes were unfocused, his skin pale and there was a thin sheen of perspiration on his face and yet the man trembled as if he was cold. Running quickly through the rest of the questions Danny jotted his notes and left everything on Jack's desk.

He'd call and explain why his full analysis wasn't typed after he got Martin settled at home; Jack was right, the man was in shock. 45 minutes later he pushed open Martin's apartment door and followed him inside.

Martin had kept his hands stuffed in his overcoat pocket ever since they left the office, even seated in the car, and now as Danny stood just inside Martin's apartment he watched as his friend just stood there hunched in his jacket with his hands stuffed in the pockets. "Why don't you grab a shower, I'll make us something to eat." Danny watched as Martin's eyes met his briefly and saw doubt and fear and something he couldn't quite finger before the man shuffled down the hall to his bedroom still wearing the overcoat. 15 minutes later he heard footsteps just as he settled a plate with a sandwich and a bowl of Campbell's tomato soup at the table for the two of them.

Looking up he saw Martin standing there watching him, his hair slightly damp from the shower and dressed in a pair of jeans and a thick pullover. "Sit down, soup's hot." Danny indicated as he pulled out a chair and sat down.

When Martin continued to stand he looked up and saw Martin holding his hand out to him.

Puzzled Danny extended his hand and watched as an orange bottle dropped into it.

Looking at the bottle and then back at Martin he conveyed his confusion with the wrinkling of his eyebrows. "Remember when you asked me if it was getting any easier to sleep."


"It was while I had the Vicodin; then I ran out." Unconsciously Danny shook the pill bottle slightly and was surprised when he heard pills rattle within. "That's not mine."

"Okay." Danny kept his voice low and neutral. "I got that from – I got that --" Martin swallowed and swayed slightly on his feet before pulling out his chair and slumping heavily into it. "Where did you get this?"

"I got it tonight at Gina Hill's.

I ran out of pills a little while ago and since then I can't get it to stop."

Danny looked at the small bottle in his hand sure enough the prescription was made out to Gina Hill.

Setting the bottle on the table in front of him he focused his attention back on the man in front of him.

"My mind won't stop playing the sounds."

"What do you hear?"

"Sometimes it's the sound of bullets ricocheting off of metal, sometimes it's a horn, sometimes it's…" Martin trailed off.

"What, sometimes it's what?"

"Sometimes it's you.

I hear you calling my name or calling for the EMS.

That case we had with the paramedic, when I was at the hospital interviewing people in the ER an ambulance crew brought someone in with a gunshot wound, all of a sudden I saw in my mind the images of fluorescent lights going overhead and felt like I was on a stretcher being wheeled into the ER."

"But you were unconscious for that."

"Was I?

I don't know, maybe I was, maybe some part of me wasn't and was aware of what was happening to me, all I know is this keeps playing in my mind and I can't get it to stop."

"But you could before?"

"Yeah, I still had some of the pills left from when I was shot and I knew they made me pretty sleepy so I took one a night and got rest.

Nothing helped during the day though and now that I'm out I don't sleep at night and I barely function during the day and then the whole shooting at Gina's tonight, Danny I could taste the blood in my mouth.

I felt the bullets in my chest – when I shot Vince it was like those bullets were slicing me open.

And I'm so cold and I can't stop shaking and – and I'm certain I'm losing my mind all over again."

Danny knew enough from his own bout of posttraumatic stress that this was beyond him, this was Lisa's specialty.

After sitting quietly for a moment or two he tried again.

"Have you considered talking to Lisa again?"



Martin sighed, "I was hoping it would go away."

"How's that worked so far?"

Martin gave Danny a wry grin as he answered.

"It hasn't helped at all."

"I didn't think so.

So what do you say tomorrow –"

"I'll give her a call."

Martin said resignedly.

"Hey, man, I'm not into the touchy feely stuff either and talking about your emotions but she helped last time didn't she?"

"Yeah, I was just hoping to be past all this, you know."

Martin leaned forward and grabbed the spoon on his placemat and started sipping the soup.

After a few spoonfuls he picked up half the sandwich from the plate took a bite.

Encouraged by his friend's willingness to at least eat Danny began doing the same.

"Still don't know how I'm going to get through tonight though." Martin stated softly.

"I do."

Martin looked up straight into Danny's eyes.


"A little one on one at the court at the all-night gym.

Then tomorrow, I drive you in and you meet with Lisa."

Martin looked at Danny's face and after a moment began to grin at his friend's positive expression.

"So we end the day on – what is it?"

"Well, when I whump your ass, which is what's gonna happen, we end the day on an up note.

And there's no down note this time."

With that Danny picked up the bottle of pills and tossed them to Martin.

Martin caught them with one hand and then tossed them right back.

Danny smiled as he slipped the pills into his pocket and zipped it closed over them; tomorrow he'd worry about getting them back into Gina Hill's house, tonight, tonight he was gonna play a little hoops with his friend and help him get through one of the toughest nights of any man's life.