A/N: For the second part of this chapter, parental discretion is advised. Consider yourself warned.
P.S. OH MY GOD! The season finale! How am I supposed to wait until September to find out if Danny and Martin are okay? Why do TPTB insist on doing this to me? It's a conspiracy.
3 Days Later
Danny woke sometime in the middle of the night. He blinked several times in rapid succession, allowing his eyes to become adjusted to the lack of light, and tried to think of what could have possibly woken him up. He thought it may have been Molly's cell again – her sorority sisters had a bad habit of drunk dialing her – but after listening for a few moments, he didn't hear a phone. Satisfied that there was nothing out of place in his apartment, he rolled over, throwing his arm over Molly.
She wasn't there.
He sat up in mild shock, positive that she had been beside him when he fell asleep. Yes, he distinctly remembered that, because she was a clingy sleeper and always fell asleep hugging his stomach. Normally he hated girls that cuddled, but he had a feeling that Molly was afraid of waking up and him not being there, so he didn't mind it so much when it was her. But apparently, it was all right for him to wake up alone in the middle of the night. He groaned and slid out of bed, groping in the darkness for his boxers. Then he padded down the hallway and into the living room, where Molly sat on the couch.
She wasn't doing anything except sitting, half-buried in his bathrobe, which was way too big for her. She had curled her legs up underneath her and was hugging herself tightly, staring at the wall. She had neglected to turn on the lights, so she sat in the darkness. His heart broke at the sight of her.
She turned to look at him, and from what little light was coming in through the window, he could see that she was crying again. "Did I wake you?" she asked, sniffling.
He shook his head, moving slowly towards the couch. "Do you want to talk about it?"
It had been a week since the incident, and Molly hadn't said a word about it. She hardly spoke at all; it was as if she were afraid of even mentioning Kate's name. At first, Danny hadn't minded – he didn't really feel up to talking about the whole ordeal either – but as days went by and Molly still wouldn't talk, he got worried. After the funeral, he tried broaching the subject several times, as delicately as possible. He'd even called Sam and Viv and asked for advice, but all of his attempts to get Molly to open up were met with the same kind of reticence that he was getting now. Molly, for whatever reasons, just didn't want to talk about it.
Danny sat beside her on the couch, and she immediately snuggled against him. His hand automatically began to stroke her hair. "You might feel better if you talked about it."
She looked up at him, and he used his thumb to brush away a stray tear. "What went through your mind?"
He raised his eyebrows, not sure if he'd heard her correctly. "Excuse me?"
She pulled away from him. "When Kate had the gun to your head. What did you think about?"
Danny opened his mouth to say something, but he wasn't quite sure what to say. He thought about telling her the truth, but that would mean launching into the whole story of his parents' accident and his brother's stint in jail and his alcoholism, and he just didn't have the strength to bring all of that up right now. He shook his head and tried to draw her back towards him. "That's not important."
She ducked under his arm and scooted away. "It's important to me." She shook her head, making a noise in the back of her throat that Danny could only describe as a grunt. "You complain that I don't tell you anything, but you never talk to me either. I wasn't the only person in that church, Danny."
He sighed. "I know." His heart still gave a little jump when she called him by his first name, which she had been doing with more frequency the past few days. For a while, she'd insisted on calling him "Agent Taylor".
She leaned forward, her eyes earnest. "Then talk to me."
He rolled his eyes and stood up, making his way into the kitchen to make some coffee. There was no way he was going back to sleep now. "You want some coffee?"
Molly shot him an incredulous look, as though she couldn't believe he would want to make coffee while she was trying to have a serious discussion. "No." She crawled across the couch, leaning over the back of it, and if he had been in the mood, he would have noticed that the robe hung open, exposing most of her chest. But he wasn't in the mood. "Why won't you talk to me?"
He shrugged and turned his back to her, banging around the kitchen. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Bullshit," Molly said, in what could only be construed as a growl, and Danny turned around, hoping he'd imagined the amount of fury in her voice. She shook her head, clearly angry. "I'm not just talking about the church, Danny. Why don't you ever talk about your family?"
His good mood – which wasn't that good, but it was better than usual – was rapidly disintegrating. He whirled around to face the cabinets and started rummaging through them, looking for the coffee. Molly had only been in his apartment a week and already nothing was where it should be. She apparently dealt with grief by rearranging things. "Don't go there, Molly."
She must have gotten off the couch, because he heard footsteps, and in three seconds she was at his side, gripping his arm. "Why don't you want to let me in?"
He narrowed his eyes and decided to turn the tables on her. "Why won't you talk about what happened?"
She blinked several times, as though absorbing his anger – which he hadn't meant to throw at her, but the words had just come spitting out before he'd had the chance to soften them. She stared at her feet for several long moments before looking back up at him. "Because I don't deal with grief very well."
Danny snorted, a little harsher than he'd intended, but he was getting frustrated. "You don't deal with it at all."
She licked her lips, and if he had been in the mood, he would have found the simple action incredibly arousing. But he wasn't in the mood. "That's because the way I deal with grief usually involves a bottle. And I don't want to be that person anymore." She grabbed his chin with her hand, forcing him to look at her and only her. "You want to know why I wanted to stay here? Because you don't keep alcohol in your apartment, and my place has a full liquor cabinet that's all too easy to jimmy open." She averted her eyes momentarily but brought them right back to his. "After my parents died, I had a glass of vodka to my lips before I realized what I was doing. I'm not strong, Danny. I couldn't go through that again."
He immediately felt guilty. He had completely forgotten all about the liquor cabinet in her apartment, hadn't realized how tempting that would be for her, how difficult it would be to stay in the apartment she had shared with the woman who tried to kill her. And he'd selfishly thought that she wanted to stay with him because she didn't want to be apart from him, which – if he were forced to admit – was kind of nice.
"Kate was the closest thing I had to family," she said, her voice barely a whisper, "and look what she did to me." She laughed softly and left go of his face, using that hand to comb her fingers through her hair. "I mean, how do you deal with something like that? It isn't something you can get over in the span of a week. It's going to take time, you know."
Danny sighed and nodded. Of course she was right. It had only been a week – it probably wasn't even real to her yet. He still wasn't sure if he was past what had happened to his parents. "I'm sorry I pushed you," he said, grabbing her shoulders. "I just – "
She gave him a small smile. "You're worried about me. That's sweet. But it's not necessary."
He lifted one shoulder in a half-shrug. "I can't not worry about you." He scrubbed a hand across his face and glanced up at the ceiling, then brought his gaze back to hers. "Have I ever told you about my brother, Rafi?"
She shook her head. "Why, no. You've never brought him up. Ever."
He laughed at the sarcasm in her voice and kissed the top of her head. "Well, how about you make us some coffee and I'll tell you about him?"
She smiled. "You just want me to be awake so you can…"
He used one finger to trace the shell of her ear, effectively cutting her off, and couldn't help but grin when he felt her shiver. "The thought had crossed my mind."
So they sat on the couch and talked. He told her all about his childhood, his parents and how he blamed himself for what happened to him, his brother and their father's abuse, and everything he could think of – including the time he was supposed to take the bar exam and got busted for drunk driving. And she told him about Kate – what she'd been like back in college, before she went psycho. They talked until the first rays of sunlight filtered through the window, and then they went to bed. But they didn't go to sleep.
She marked him. She sucked, nipped, bit, scratched at every inch of exposed skin so that there would be no doubt in anyone's mind that he was hers. She sank her teeth into his bottom lip until she drew blood. She drew her nails across his back with enough pressure to break the skin. She sucked on the sweat-slick flesh of his throat long enough for him to feel the mark forming just above his collarbone. Every kiss, every touch burned into him like nothing ever had, until it was seared onto his very soul. And there was no mistaking that he belonged to her. He was hers and only hers, and she made damn sure of that.
He moved on top of her, and his name fell from her lips, and he returned the favor, nipping her collarbone hard enough to bruise, trailing kisses down her chest, staking his claim on her as much as she had marked him as her territory. He was determined that when she returned to work, everyone would know that she was his. He knew exactly what to do to make her his – exactly how to move to shatter her composure, to make her break and crumble and come undone in his arms. And he did it every time, because she was his and only his. He made damn sure of that.
And when they were spent and exhausted and recovering their senses, they both rolled onto their sides, with him shaping his body to fit hers, curling around her and protecting her from whatever bad things existed outside the utopia of his bedroom. For the moment, at least, she would be safe within the shelter of his arms.
Danny waited anxiously for Molly to get home from work. He hadn't protested the week she'd requested off work, because he knew that she needed a break, and last Friday when she claimed she was ready to return to her usual routine, he hadn't argued either. She knew what she was doing, and who was he to tell her anything different?
But he'd neglected to think of what it would be like for him without Molly there. He was bored out of his mind. He could only play the Playstation for so long before his vision started to blur, he'd watched all of his movies recently – not that he had a massive collection from which to choose – and daytime TV just wasn't what it used to be. He tried watching a soap opera, but he was so confused that he turned it off halfway through. He went for a walk to clear his head, but he didn't go far, because he wanted to be back at the apartment when Molly got home. He had to be; she was staying there, yeah, but he couldn't quite bring himself to give her a key. With him on suspension, there didn't seem to be a reason, which was the excuse he was using to justify his actions – but really he just wasn't sure if he had the stones to make that step. It would make their situation permanent. But he still liked the idea of her coming home to his apartment.
When she got home, though, she was clearly upset. He could tell from across the room that she was crying by the way she was walking – the halting, disjointed step of someone whose eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn't see straight – and by the fact that her hands were shaking.
He was at her side in seconds. "What happened?"
She shook her head, crying so hard that she didn't seem able to form coherent speech.
He tried again. "Molly, what happened?"
She took a couple of deep breaths, but it took her a long time to calm down enough to speak. He led her over to the couch and let her cry until she was done. She looked at him, her dark eyes sad, and said, "Work sucked."
He bit his lip to keep from smiling. He knew that she used humor as a defense mechanism, so something was obviously wrong. "It's supposed to," he said, rubbing her back in what he hoped was a soothing manner. "That's why they call it 'work' and not, like, 'happy play time', or something like that." He threaded his fingers in her hair. "Did someone say something to you?"
Molly shook her head again. "There are apparently a lot of people who feel that I wasn't sufficiently punished for what I did."
"What you did?" said Danny, incredulous. "Do these people not realize that you were held hostage at gunpoint by a woman you thought was your friend? And that she would have killed me if you hadn't fired first?"
She grunted. "You know the majority of people stop listening when they've heard what they want to hear. I got so many angry calls on my work phone that I had to get Jimmy to screen my calls – and he was not happy about that, let me tell you. He kept saying that he didn't get his Ph.D. to be a glorified secretary."
Danny immediately hated this guy who couldn't understand what Molly was going through. It didn't matter that Danny had never met him and had absolutely no idea who he was – he was going down. "Did you tell your boss?"
"There's only so much Dave can do," she said. "But I will have to get a new phone number."
"What about your cell?" Danny asked. Every time she answered it, it was one of her sorority sisters. So far, there hadn't been any threatening calls or voicemails that worried her, so he didn't think there would be any.
"No. But I went to the apartment and…" She trailed off, tears welling up in her eyes once more. "Let's just say I'm glad I'm not living there anymore."
Danny bristled at that seemingly throwaway comment. When had their temporary situation become a permanent one? He forced himself to calm down and resumed his ministrations on Molly's back, because she was looking at him questioningly. "Hate mail?"
Molly nodded. "Lots of it. Mostly from Kate's family or friends who aren't friends with me. They all blame me for what happened." She exhaled a forceful blast of air and looked at the wall. "Maybe it is my fault."
"It is not," Danny said, and the words came out more forceful than he'd intended. "You did not make Kate a psychopath. She did that all on her own."
"Yeah, but she was my roommate. I could have done something to help her. I should have recognized the signs. How could I have possibly been so blind?"
Danny sighed. "You didn't see it because you didn't want to. Because she was your friend."
She snorted. "Yeah, fat lot of good that brought me." She sank against the back of the couch and covered her face with her hands. "I have to get out of here."
First sensible idea Molly had had in a week. "Good idea," he said, standing. "I'll get my jacket. We'll go to a movie or something."
Molly laid a hand on his arm. "No, Danny. I meant that I have to get out of New York."
He froze, unsure if he'd heard her correctly. She was going to bail? After all that crap she'd spewed about knowing a good thing when she saw it, after everything they'd been through together, after seeing the way she looked at him, the look in her eyes when they were together, and she could just pick up and leave? Just like that? When he was capable of intelligent speech, he could only choke out one-word sentences. "What? Why?"
She shook her head. "I've got friends in Georgia. They're willing to let me crash there until I can find my own place. And I've already talked to Dave about a transfer."
Danny couldn't believe his ears. She already had a place to live and a job waiting for her? How long had she known that she was going to leave? "Just exactly when did you decide this?"
She looked at him through her eyelashes. "I was actually idly considering it a couple of weeks ago, but after…after what happened, I started to put more thought into it. I thought about it a lot last week, and after today, I realized that I just need to get away for a while."
He put his hands on his hips. "And when were you planning on telling me?"
Molly raised an eyebrow. "I'm telling you now. Nothing's official yet, you know. My transfer still has to go through."
"Don't I have any say in this?"
"Danny," she said, and her voice was so soft that he could almost feel his resolve crumbling, "I don't want to sound like a bitch, but you really don't."
If her goal with that statement was to piss him off, mission accomplished. "What?"
She wouldn't look at him. "This decision has nothing to do with you. I was thinking about it before we even met, and we've only known each other a week. It's not like we're married, and I have to discuss it with you." She stood up abruptly and went to the kitchen; Danny had a feeling that she was going to start cooking. "I actually considered leaving after September 11. It was so hard to be here with my parents gone, and I just wanted a change of scenery. That's what I need now – a change of scenery, a chance to get away from all these memories that are weighing me down, a chance at a full night's sleep."
Danny bit the inside of his cheek. They didn't sleep much, but when she did manage to doze off, she almost always ended up in the throes of some nightmare. He wondered how she even managed to function during the day. He walked over to the counter and braced both hands on its top. "A change of scenery is not going to change what happened."
She opened the refrigerator and rifled through it. "I know that."
"All this crap you're dealing with is going to be here when you get back."
She grabbed a package of tortillas and a block of cheese and put them on the counter. "I know that."
"Then why do you want to leave?"
Her green eyes met his brown ones, and he tried to read the emotion in them, but he couldn't. "Because I need to. And I need you to understand."
Danny turned around and leaned against the counter. "So that's it, then? You're just going to leave?"
Molly's voice was sad. "If my transfer comes through, yes. But it isn't because of you, so stop sulking like a petulant child, and it isn't because this…thing…we have doesn't mean anything to me."
"Then why?" He turned his head as far as it would go, not wanting to turn the entire away around but desperate to at least see her when she answered.
"Because I'm afraid to go back to my apartment. Because I'm starting to hear whispers when I walk down the street. Because I can't walk past a church without getting the chills. Because I killed the woman who I considered my surrogate family, and everyone expects me to just get over it. Well, I can't 'get over it', and I don't think I should have to, and if I have to move two thousand miles away to get a little peace of mind, then damnit, I'm going to do that. Because I deserve a little peace. I deserve to keep my sanity."
1 Week Later
Danny normally hated airports. In his line of work, airports and other transportation depots were usually just frustrating, because it involved searching for one person among a sea of several thousand. There were just too many people, too many distractions.
But today he was glad for the distractions. He stood in the middle of the terminal – near the magazine stand – and watched people bustle past him, so intent on going somewhere that they were completely oblivious to what was going on around them. He watched people saying goodbye to each other in all manner of ways – hugs, kisses, high fives, pats on the back, handshakes, even a few screaming matches – as he waited for Molly to come back from getting her boarding pass.
They had talked the matter to death over the past week. Her transfer came in around Wednesday, and that night they had a full-on argument about the situation. Danny didn't like the idea of her leaving, because he felt that she was just running away from her problems and that nothing would be solved by her flying off to Georgia. But Molly refused to yield, saying that it would be good for her to get out of the city for a while, and in the end, Danny just gave up. It wasn't worth fighting over, since she had clearly made up her mind, and he didn't want to argue with her when she was leaving in only a few days. So he accepted the inevitability that she was going to leave, but that didn't mean he had to agree with it or like it.
She'd even extended him an invitation to go with her. He still had almost three weeks of suspension to get through, so he clearly wasn't going to be doing anything, but he opted not to go. If he went with her, he wasn't sure if he would ever return, and he just couldn't pack up and leave New York like she could. He still had family, still had friends, still technically had a job, and he just couldn't abandon all of that, no matter how much he wanted to.
But for a few hours the night before Molly's flight, he'd seriously considered it. He was even halfway through dialing Jack's number before he changed his mind.
He rolled her suitcase back and forth to amuse himself, wondering what was taking so long. Being alone with his thoughts was not where he wanted to be. He wanted to be back in his apartment, in bed, with his arms wrapped around Molly. But she'd asked him if he wanted to see her off, and he couldn't say no; after all, who knew when he'd see her again?
"God, it's a madhouse," Molly said, appearing from behind a group of Japanese tourists and dragging her carry-on behind her. "It's been a while since I flew."
She smiled at him, but he couldn't return it. "What gate?"
Her smile faded a bit but didn't disappear. "C-55. American Airlines flight 79." She slung her carry-on back over her shoulder and stared at him for a while. "Are you sure you don't want to come?"
He shook his head. "This is your thing." He hoped he managed to keep all the bitterness out of his voice.
She nodded sadly, and they headed towards the gate. She checked her bag, and when they reached the security checkpoint, it was time to say goodbye, which was what Danny had been dreading ever since waking up that morning. He couldn't even tell himself that it was goodbye forever, since he had absolutely no idea when or if she would be coming back.
They faced each other, standing several feet apart, both clearly unsure of what to do.
Danny spoke first. "Have a good flight." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he regretted them. They sounded so lame.
She winked. "It'd be better if you were coming."
He just looked at her. "You know why I can't."
She narrowed her eyes. "And you know why I have to."
He sighed. This wasn't how he'd pictured the whole moment in his head. And here he was, being a complete jerk, so that her last memory of him would be him being an asshole as she was leaving for who knows how long. That wasn't what he wanted. He wanted to be smooth – like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. That was a guy who knew how to let his girl go. "I'm sorry," he said. "I just…don't want you to go."
She crossed the no-man's land that had sprouted between them and stretched up on her toes to kiss him. This kiss was unlike all of their others – those had been hungry, full of passion, about need and lust, precursors to the show that would soon follow. But this kiss was soft and tender, full of promise. When she pulled away, there were tears in her eyes – but she still smiled and lightly touched her fingers to his lips.
"It's only temporary," she said, barely able to get the words out. "I'll be back."
His eyes burned as tears began to form. "Promise?"
She kissed him again, then turned and headed for the metal detectors. She didn't look back until she was on the other side of the checkpoint, when she raised her hand in a pathetic excuse for a wave. Then she turned and ran towards her gate.
1 Month Later
Danny was in a good mood, for the first time in a long time. Their investigation into the abduction of a 12-year-old boy from the Metropolitan Museum of Art had a happy ending, and Danny liked when cases had happy endings. It was difficult adjusting to the parameters of his probation, but he liked his job too much to lodge a formal protest. Besides, he considered himself lucky to still be employed, and he knew that he deserved the reprimand.
When the team got back to the office, there was a bouquet of flowers sitting on Danny's desk. They were beautiful – not that Danny put much stock in flowers, but he did know beauty when he saw it – pure white, with five petals, and they came in their own vase, which was light blue. Danny had no idea who they were from – though he had a pretty good idea – but it didn't stop Martin from hassling him about it.
"Aw, Danny, did you and your boyfriend have a fight?" Martin asked, pouring himself a mug of coffee.
Danny found the card stuck among the flowers and held it up. "Actually, Marty, they're from your boyfriend."
Actually, the card was blank. Danny turned it over several times, hoping that there would be some indication that his assumption was correct, but there wasn't so much as a letter on either side of the card.
Sam walked over to his desk to examine the flowers. She bent forward to sniff one and then straightened, smiling at Danny. "These are Cherokee roses," she said, with the air of someone who had a big secret.
"Never heard of them," said Martin.
Sam rolled her eyes. "Doesn't surprise me." She turned back to Danny. "They're the state flower of Georgia."
His cell phone rang just as he was getting off the elevator in his apartment building. He answered it the way he always did. "Taylor."
"Agent Taylor," said the voice on the other end, which he would have recognized even if he were deaf, "did you get my flowers?"
He smiled. Molly had left him half a dozen voice mails over the past month, and he left her just as many, but they never seemed to catch each other. It was the most infuriating game of phone tag Danny had ever played. "Yes, thank you. I am now the laughing stock of the office."
"Ah, then my mission is successful. Did you get the package?"
"What package?" Just as he asked that, he came in sight of his door, where a small package was sitting just outside. How it had managed to not get stolen was a mystery. "Never mind."
He picked up the package, unlocked his door, and shuffled into his apartment. It was very awkward trying to carry the flowers, the package, and still talk on the phone, but he managed. "How's Georgia treating you?" he asked. He put the flower vase on the counter in the kitchen and started rummaging through the drawers in search of a pair of scissors.
"This damn humidity, it makes my hair frizz. I don't know how some people stand it."
Danny found the scissors and set to work opening the package. "There's humidity in New York, you know."
"Not so much of it. And I'm really starting to hate being called 'the Yankee'. Because apparently, I am the only Yankee in the entire United States. And it's doubly insulting, because I'm a Mets fan."
He couldn't help but laugh as managed to get the box open and starting sifting through the Styrofoam packing peanuts. "Then you'll just have to come back here, where everyone is a Yankee and half of the city are Mets fans."
"Yes, but then what would I complain about?"
At last he found something buried under all those packing peanuts. He pulled out a copy of the illustrated version of The Da Vinci Code. He shook his head, smiling. Leave it to Molly to send him a book. "I'm sure you'd find something."
He flipped through the book, and something fell from between the pages.
"Not likely. I'm starting to think New York is the most perfect place in the entire world. And that includes Disney World – and let me tell you, you can't get much more perfect than Disney World. It's the happiest place on Earth, you know."
"Is that so?" Danny asked, picking up what had fallen from the book – which ended up being a photo – and was suddenly breathless. It was a picture of Molly sitting cross-legged on the beach, the sunrise behind her. She was smiling one of those shy, secret smiles that she saved only for him, and she was wearing that shirt he loved, that brought out the green of her eyes. He had never seen her look so beautiful.
Molly must have known what was going on, because she said, "Flip it over."
He did so, expecting to find a long, sappy love poem or something. But there was only one word.
A/N: And that's the end! Fear not, I told you I had a sequel planned. I'll just be taking a little break for a while, hopefully getting "'Ohana" finished in the meantime, but rest assured, I do have plans to do a follow-up.
Special thanks go to cynically optimistic, anmodo, Mariel3, jtsideout389, x-angelicism-x, Lola314, Command Star, Sam rules, Tiarwen, Shelbers, Loozy, radioactive racoony, and jtofosho. You guys are awesome!