Title: The last time
Email: with some romance and maybe a tiny wee bit of humour but quite possibly not as I'm so lame at it!
Rating: T to Mature for strong language.
Author's Note: A bit of a departure this for me. Not related to any episode at all except for bits of the third season and a certain pairing. A Danny fic predominantly with mention of some other characters.
At the moment Rescue Me is on hold for a variety of reasons. Real life has been pretty hard going and a couple of things have seriously dented my confidence writing wise so I'd like to sincerely apologise if this fic sucks. Thanks to all for feedback so far on my other fics.
And finally the disclaimer. I don't produce the show and none of the characters belong to me. This fic idea is mine though.
I don't think I'm such a big romantic. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've sent flowers to a lady or chocolates on Valentine's Day.
I'm not really into sappy love songs either. Though I have to admit to occasionally putting on a little Barry White as I'm about to give out some Danny loving. Come to think of it, that CD's almost worn out now.
I don't think I've always worn my heart on my sleeve, anything but. Too many years of facing up to bad things and being a realist, definitely not a pessimist though, meant that I would like girls a lot but only twice I ever fell in love with a woman.
The first person was so very special, perfect. Beautiful, caring and gentle. Then she was taken from me before I could ever really express how wonderful I thought she was or that I loved her. I think that was a common thread in her life. Raffie and Dad never really told her how much either.
The second lady, well let's not get into that right now.
It all started out some time last fall, work as always was putting us under a huge amount of strain but I think the best thing about my job is the people I work with. They're like a real family to me, and I think they'd all say the same.
Who knew that Fitz'd be included in that after his first days with us and especially with my admittedly over cautious and slightly antagonistic attitude towards the guy?
It's too much probably to say that he's my best buddy, but I'd have to say he goes pretty close to being that guy.
Anyway, we were two guys on the lookout, single unbelievably and ready to do some searching.
Now I'm not exactly backward in coming forward when it comes to the ladies and neither is Fitz. We had however pretty much exhausted the supplies of women within easy reach. Viv being a happily married lady and Sam, well for me it'd be like dating my exceptionally beautiful sister. And Fitz, well it just never seemed the slightest possibility. I'm obviously not going to be a fortune teller in my next life.
So, we decided to hit the clubs and I gotta say in all my life I never ventured into seedier places, which is pretty good going with my job and my history. I blame Fitz. He says I always blame him for everything. And with good reason.
Anyhow, we hit the clubs all dressed up to the nines venturing into bars beforehand, smiling we thought winningly and instead seeming to frighten any women within a 200 yard radius or that's how it felt.
They do say that the opposite sex can always smell the scent of desperation. Well, somewhere in either Fitz or myself, it must have been reeking from every pore.
And so with Fitz a little worse for wear and me, the tolerant, sensible, devillishly attractive older brother type we made our way to the last in a long line of clubs.
This was a dark little place where you had to walk up three flights of stairs, and with the only sign it was a club being the dull thump coming from somewhere in the distance and people laughing and tottering down the stairs arms around each other in a slightly worse for wear state.
As we eventually arrived at the entrance to the club, handed over our extortionate fees and made our way having got probably got ink poisoning from the stamp on our hands to prove we'd paid our entrance, we walked through the doors and into the maelstrom of dry ice and what we hoped would be a multitude of beautiful available women.
I have to say there aren't many times I miss drinking but that one night, I did. I really really did. It was like being back in fourth grade. Fitz gave up trying to drag me onto the dance floor after about 60 seconds and so like some stupid goofy kid on prom night I stood there nursing my coke and watched as everyone danced around with all their inhibitions and in many cases a whole lot more hanging out.
I couldn't watch Fitz for any more than about 5 seconds at a time. I wished I'd had a camera though. What he has in brains, isn't matched in dancing skills that's for sure.
After about an hour of standing around awkwardly, and my having attempted small talk with two stunning but incoherent Australian girls, Fitz made it back from the dance floor. I've never seen anyone look so exhausted. Sweat poured from everywhere and I think it could be safely assumed that we were the sorriest looking pair of guys ever.
We didn't even ask each other if we wanted to leave, we just made our way to the exit and to the nearest cabs.
The inquest into the night was predictably short. Never again.
So what next? I think we'd decided night clubs weren't really our scene anymore. Sure Fitz enjoyed it, but give the guy some credit, I think in the cold light of day, I think he realised that for a guy not drinking, the pounding music and accompanying sway and movement of people all enjoying the effects of alcohol, maybe it wasn't the best place to start looking for some meaningful stuff.
And so naturally, yeah right! We moved onto speed dating. Now if ever proof were needed that God is a woman, I give you this not exactly ancient form of torture for men.
I blame Sam for this. She knows this. I think she realises I'll never let her forget that I blame her. Fitz blames her too.
And I think Viv and Jack do too. Either that or they just wish I'd get over it and shut the hell up about it.
We'd been talking over where we were on a case and as we all set off to carry out our seperate duties, Sam asked how our nightclub adventure had gone. Seeing the unmistakeable glance of fear and panic that passed between us and considering I don't think it'd take the world's biggest genius to figure out that that look meant it went not great, she announced the recent emergence of something that would suit Fitz and I right down to the ground.
'It'll be so right for you both' she said. 'Five minutes to dazzle them with your charm and intelligence, how could you possibly fail?'.
Well, when she put it like that, she definitely had a point. It seemed perfect. We'd be staggering under the weight of telephone numbers for sure. We'd neither of us have a night in front of cable on our own ever again.
Except for when we were babysitting while our beautiful young wives were out socialising with their friends, no doubt telling them about how that night they went speed dating was the luckiest night of their lives.
Yeah right, except no one told that to those women the night Fitz and I went out. We were like baby lambs to the slaughter.
You turn up at these things in a little room with about a dozen tables facing each other with two chairs on either side. Okay, a little scary but hey, I've been shot at a few times and let's face it so has Calamity Fitz so we were fine with it. No really we were.
They take down your names on a register as though you were still at high school and then you stand around with what effectively is the competition or the other prize sows at the bar, nervously sipping your brewsky's or in my case again with the coke.
The guys all seemed pretty normal, I wouldn't say that Fitz and I were the youngest ones there, there were a couple of guys around our age and one guy still at College who was 21. He exuded confidence from every pore. I hated him.
One guy, Jim, I think was his name spoke fearfully and in whispers about what lay ahead. He'd read on some internet site the night before about how these things were either an excuse for the women to just talk at twelve unsuspecting guys for a couple of hours or how it'd be a chance for them fire off every single personal question they could think of at guys just there to impress and please and therefore too shocked and polite to not respond.
Sounded like great fun. Surely it couldn't be so bad?
At around 8.25pm, and 25 minutes later than scheduled, with the lady running the evening, 'joking' that women did have the perogative to be late, we were ushered out of the room for five minutes and the women were then escorted into their places.
And so at 8.30pm on a cold Fall evening began a cold evening in hell.
Maybe I'm exaggarating but I honestly don't think I'm not. I came out of that room 1 hour later feeling like I'd been shot at by a firing squad of beautiful, in some cases, and deranged psychopaths masquerading as women.
It'd started off okay with Jenny, a thirty four year old lawyer, not exactly my type but all seemed okay and she seemed cheerful and friendly until a couple of minutes had passed and having found out my job, proceeded to tell me all that was wrong about the FBI.
It was no great sadness for me to switch tables. If I'd known what would come next I'd have superglued myself to that table.
It wasn't as though Beth, Carmel and especially Trudy weren't vibrant, intelligent women. It's just that they seemed to hate men.
Or maybe they just hated me, Fitz and Jim. Impossible to believe I know.
If I wasn't being interrogated over why I wasn't drinking alcohol, I was being interrogated over men's failure to be able to commit.
The 60 minutes couldn't pass fast enough, and although when I did reach meet number 12, Barbara and my heart leapt in relief when I sat down across her and I think it showed and something lit up between us, I was just too excited about it finishing that I didn't even think about the fact that we actually talked equally and laughed at the absurdity of the whole event and that I actually thought she had the potential to be one of the most interesting people I'd ever met.
No, instead, we all listened to Sadist lady telling us the next steps and that they'd email us to let us know any of the ladies liked us by the end of the week, and then we ran like crazy out of that place.
Okay, so we didn't run but if countries with teams in speed walking in the Olympics ever asked for how to improve training I'd recommend speed dating as ideal preparation every time.
Oh and the kid, he loved it. The idiot.
Fitz and I could joke about it all we wanted to, but still we were two lonely souls in Manhattan. And ever more we seemed to be becoming some bad male version of Sex and the city.
We didn't do any staged event after that, we certainly didn't go back to a club. And if ever anyone broached the subject of dating at work, Sam would not so casually busy herself on something feeling our baleful glares in her direction.
Fitz was having some luck anyway, the previous week, some idiot crashed into the side of us when we were on our way back from telling a family that after 6 weeks of their son being missing and our frantically following up every lead, there wasn't an awful lot more we could do except keep his file open and hope we got more information one day, and he ended up in ER with a few broken ribs and some concussion from where his head had hit the windshield. Lucky, exactly how I hear you say?
Well, Joanne Carrick was definitely a fine piece of luck. And her eyes met his unfocused ones across the Reception desk and they didn't look back. For a few weeks anyway.
Meanwhile, I would go home every night to my microwave meal and cable. Oddly enough I didn't feel that worried. Now that that frenetic little burst of activity attempting to find a 'significant other' was over I could relax a bit. I could undo the top two buttons of my jeans when I overdid the fajitas and I didn't have to be on my best behaviour at all times.
And somewhere along the way, I think the smell of desperation must have left me.
It was a week before Christmas. Fitz and Joanne had just broken up in a fit of lack of Christmas goodwill to all men and young women who can't stand their men turning up at any hour of the night having just told a family their son had been found washed up by the Hudson River and they'd better not think about seeing him as he was no longer recognisable almost as a human being never mind as their son, and so they'd split up. Fitz didn't exactly seem devastated I have to say but being alone does suck at this time of year.
So this week before Christmas, we were about to hit the rocky road to romance again.
And that's when I saw her, in the 7 eleven round the corner from my apartment and hers. It's so funny and cliched to say our eyes met over the bread counter but that's exactly what happened.
We both did a double take and there was a flicker of recognition though nothing more. I was in a hurry so smiled briefly at her, she was lucky, she got the ultimate Taylor megawatt smile. I think that's what did it for her as she ran up to me, threw down her bread, took me in her arms and we ran off into the sunset together.
Okay again I'm lying. We both made our way to the queue, she a couple of people behind me. As I frantically tried to remember where I knew her from. Was it work? Was it the gym? Or god forbid was it that salsa class I'd been to a few days ago and had been the only man there with a group of unforgiving looking women that were only marginally less scary than the ladies at the speed dat-... Yes that was it.
Barbara. That was her. Non offensive Barbara, interesting Barbara, sparkly eyed Barbara. Yep I think it was safe to say her name was Barbara.
Thing was I'd spent so long figuring out her name that by the time I'd paid for my stuff and turned around to look for her, she'd left the shop.
I was envisaging some kind of really atrocious 'man runs through the streets looking for love of his life' scenario. And I felt crushed. I just couldn't understand why. I'd only known this girl for five minutes.
I pulled myself out of this fog though and looked at my watch and realising I'd be on the verge of standing Fitz up, I walked out the 7 eleven and off towards my apartment.
Then this voice called out my name so I turned around, and there she was. Stood nervously about twenty feet away from me and by the door of the 7 eleven smiling. I can't explain and god knows I've tried to, how I felt that moment but as I walked right up to her and as she said 'Hey, I'm Barbara, I'm 32 and I'm a Capricorn, we've not been fully introduced'. Something in me knew.
Four hours later, and having stood poor old Fitzie up, we sat in the Italian round the corner from our apartments, she lived in the next apartment block to me, and by the end of that evening, Mr Sappy was back to stay. Love as I've said before isn't something that strikes at me that easily.
But Mom was about to get a rival, a serious one for the first time in so many years.
Fitzie, well, that worked out perfectly too. With two tickets to the comedy show and not wishing to be a spare sad little part on his own, he called around all his other friends and a couple of ladies he knew of, he even tried Joanne again, not getting much further than 'Hello it's Mart-.' before she cut him off, before that certain someone sprung to mind and so began the somewhat tortuous but ultimately fulfilling beginning of Martin and Sam.
And so began a very happy Christmas, one where I didn't have to rely on Viv inviting me in as a surrogate member of the family. Instead Barbara and I went to visit her parents and on Christmas Day as I looked around the table of just three hours earlier completely unfamiliar people, I almost had to pinch myself at what a difference a week can make.
So now? Well it's not all been moonlight and roses and this isn't some fairytale but it's now been 9 months since the 7 eleven. And today starts the beginning of something ever more serious and fantastic as in the next couple of hours instead of her going home to her apartment two minutes away, she'll walk through my door, slump exhausted on the couch and she will be my roomie.. I'll make her some chicken fajitas, if she's real lucky I'll put on the new not so worn Barry White CD and I'll tell this person that I love them really and truly for the first time. And hopefully the last time.