A huge thanks to my wonderful beta anmodo for betaing this fic. Thanks to everyone that has reviewed I am glad you have enjoyed 'the ride'.

Chapter 9

Leaning against the wall, Jack felt the events of the last week catch up to him. He sighed and rubbed a hand over his weary face. He couldn't believe a week had past since this nightmare had begun. Was it really over a week ago when he'd sent Danny and Martin half away cross the country to 'duke' it out? He thought it would make them rely on each other, but he never intended it to be like this. He thought it would force them to work together, that when they got back they could go through a day without shooting looks as though they were about to kill each other. But they had survived in a situation Jack knew that he probably wouldn't. He smiled despite the situation, although it happened in a nightmarish way, it had still happened – the boys were now working as a team. Whether it would continue or not, he didn't know. But they were alive because they had worked as a team. What would the 'great Deputy Director Fitzgerald' think of Danny Taylor now, he silently wondered to himself? If that man had one bad word to say about either of his agents, he would just rub in the fact that he was only the Deputy Director of the FBI. He knew that was a sore point for Victor. He knew that in Victor's dream world he would be Director of the FBI, or possibly the National Security Council Advisor and Martin would be a Senator who was making huge headway for the Republican ticket. He shook his head at the thought. He could see Martin as a politician; he would win huge support from the female population – good looking, smart and a former FBI agent. But he also that Martin would run for the Democrat party, just to spite his father.

The annoying shrill pulled him out of his thoughts. "Malone," he said in a gruff voice.

"Agent Malone, I do not approve of that tone of yours when you answer your phone," Victor Fitzgerald said in a suitably arrogant tone.

Jack ignored Victor's statement and got straight to the point. "When are you coming out to see Martin?" he asked.

"Well I have some business to attend to here and my wife has a charity function so probably with in the next day or two," Victor droned.

"What!" Jack exclaimed. "Your son has been through hell; at the very least you should drop everything and get the hell over here!"

"Agent Malone, do not take that tone with me or I will have your badge," Victor almost screamed down the phone.

Jack sighed angrily. "You know what? If you're going take that altitude, it might be better if you don't come at all. Martin doesn't need it; he needs support," Jack growled. "So if you can't come right away and be civil, don't come at all."

"You've known my son all of two months, and you think you know him better than I do?" Victor yelled. "I was there for his birth – I think I know what my son wants."

"That you may have been – but how much have you been here for him after that?" Jack growled.

"What?" Victor exclaimed.

"I'm at St. Anthony's hospital in Denver, I hope to see you there," Jack growled and abruptly ended the call. He raked a wearily hand through his dishevelled hair. He and Victor Fitzgerald had always been at odds with each other. But now even the thought of the Deputy Director made his blood boil. If it was one his kids, he would drop everything to be there for them – like he did for Danny and Martin. In his opinion, nothing in the world was more important to him than his girls. He would do anything for them, and the very thought of them hurt or in danger made his stomach turn.

"Are you here for agents Taylor and Fitzgerald?"

"U-mm, yes," Jack said as he shook his head –trying to pull himself out of his thoughts and stood up. "H-How are they?"

"They are both fit, young and healthy so they will both make a full recovery," the doctor started. "Agent Fitzgerald sustained a fracture to the left fibula. It was a simple fracture so we just put it in a cast."

"What about Agent Taylor, what about Danny?" Jack demanded. "How is he? Can I see him?"

The doctor raised his hands. "Agent Malone, if you would let me finish. Agent Taylor has a bad case of pneumonia and three cracked ribs, but he's going to be fine. Both of your agents are young, fit and strong. So they are going to be fine, but in Agent Taylor's case I would prefer it if-"

"Look doc I respect your opinion but you don't know Danny," Jack said cutting the doctor off. "It takes him a long time to trust someone, and so he needs someone with him whom he trusts."

"Actually if you had let me finish, I was going to say I would prefer it if you sat with him. He's got a high fever and its making him delusional. As you said he trusts you, so it would better when he wakes up you were there," the doctor explained.

"Good," Jack said nodding. "Can I see Martin quickly?"

"Of course," the doctor replied.

Jack nodded and followed the doctor down the mass of corridors. He was desperate to see his agents – only then would he believe this nightmare was finally over. He was shown into a small, stark white room where Martin was. He thanked the doctor before turning his attention to Martin. "Hey, how are you?" he asked as he walked across the room to one of his formally missing agents.

"Better," Martin replied with a small smile.

"Good, you look better," Jack said as he gave Martin's shoulder a squeeze.

"How's Danny?"

"Pneumonia and a couple of cracked ribs, but apart from that, he's going to be fine," Jack reassured.

"Good, that's great Jack," Martin said as he tried to sound enthusiastic. It wasn't that he wasn't happy that Danny was going to be okay, he was more than happy. It was just then that he realised how alone in the world he was. Danny had no family, but he had the team. He may have a family but that rarely mattered – it wasn't as though his parents would turn up. He thought about asking Jack to phone his aunt Bonnie, but dismissed that thought – Jack had already done enough.

Jack frowned with concern as he stared down at Martin. He was worried about his latest member of the team. He always seemed so lost – just like Danny had been when he had first joined the team. Although Martin and Danny had totally different childhoods, he knew they shared one thing in common – neglect, he was sure of it. He cleared his throat to pull Martin out of his thoughts. "I phoned your father."

"Don't worry about it; I know he is busy. He will only come if he's on business or my Mom wants to go to some fundraiser," Martin said bitterly.

"He will come, Martin, he will come," Jack said with a knowing smile.

Martin looked down unable to hold Jack's compassionate glaze. "I know what you are trying to do, and I thank you but I don't want you to jeopardize your career because over this," he mumbled.

Jack squeezed Martin's shoulder again and sat on the bed – looking him in the eye. "You are part of my team. We look out of for each other," he said with a smile hoping Martin would draw some comfort from his words. "Oh and Martin – No one messes with my team."

Martin produced a smile hoping Jack would believe it – Jack didn't need to worry about him, he needed to worry about Danny. "Thanks Jack, really thank you for everything you have done for me."

"No problem. As I said, you are part of my team," Jack said in a slightly stern tone, hoping his message would get thought to Martin.

"You should check on Danny, he probably needs the reassurance right now. More than me, anyway," Martin mumbled as he looked down again – not knowing how to cope with Jack's concern.

Jack frowned again, he knew what Martin was saying was right, but he really didn't want to leave Martin in this state. "Okay, but if you need anything, anything at all, just get someone to get me - understand?"

Martin slowly nodded. "I understand, thanks Jack," he said and added a smile for good measure.

Jack nodded and squeezed Martin's shoulder before heading out towards Danny's room. He didn't understand why they couldn't put his agents in the same room – it wasn't as though Danny was contagious. And it would make things so much easier for him. He took a breath as he reached Danny's room. As he stepped in he smiled, as he saw the sleeping form of Danny Taylor. He collapsed into the chair next to Danny's bed and smiled. It was over – this nightmare was finally over.


Several hours later

Danny Taylor moaned as he felt himself returning to the world of the living. His world felt foggy, but not the fever-ridden fog that he had staggered through earlier but a strangely drugged fog. He didn't feel as bad as before, nor did feel the bitter icy winds of the mountain rip around him. Slowly opening his eyes, he looked around at the stark white walls. Hospital, he thought – but how? He turned his head to see his boss snoring in the chair next to him – then he remembered. Jack had come in a chopper. Jack had saved him and Martin. He stared at the IV in his hand for a while and wondered how close he had come, how close they had come to returning in a wooden box? He knew personally that he wouldn't have survived out there for more than a day, and he doubted Martin would last much more than that.

"So you've returned to the world of the living," Jack said with a smile as he noticed Danny was now awake.

"Yeah," he said in a hoarse voice. He found himself having a coughing fit and clutched his chest.

"Easy Danny, just breathe okay?" Jack reassured as he poured a glass of water and handed it to Danny. He noticed Danny's shaking hands and held the glass as Danny drank from it. "That's good Danny, that's good just relax okay?"

Danny sunk back on the pillows – exhausted as he tried to catch his breath. "How's Martin?" he asked breathlessly.

"Martin's fine," Jack replied as he squeezed Danny's shoulder. He knew he should ask Danny about the hallucinations, but the poor kid was exhausted – his questions would have to wait. "You should probably go back to sleep."

Danny nodded as he felt his eyelids begin to grow heavy again. "Okay," he mumbled as he gave into the battle.

Sighing, Jack leaned back on his chair. It was over, it was finally over. He frowned as he watched Danny mumble something in his sleep. He rested a hand on Danny's forehead. "Shah, just relax Danny-boy, you're safe now," he reassured. He smiled slightly as he watched Danny relax again.

Jack closed his momentarily, but quickly opened them when he heard the unmistakeably arrogant voice out in the hall. Rubbing his eyes, Jack yawned. He looked to one side to see Danny still sleeping peacefully and smiled. He stood up and squeezed Danny's shoulder. "I'll be right back Danny. I've just got to deal with something."

Jack walked into the corridor and took a breath as he prepared himself to face Victor Fitzgerald. He stood and waited as he listened to part of the conversation between the two people. He needed to know what he was dealing with.

"Darling, we have to get to Senator Allard's fundraiser," Sarah Fitzgerald droned on.

"Dear, this will only take a couple of minutes then we'll go to the fundraiser just like we planned and finish off with a good meal," Victor said with a smile.

"Victor," he said softly as he could as he tried to catch the other man's attention. But he felt his blood boil – these people didn't deserve their son. Sure they hadn't physically abused him, but the way they treated Martin was almost as bad.

"Agent Malone," Victor called out in an arrogant tone. The kind of tone that clearly stated you are below me, you are privileged that you are even in the same room as me.

"I am glad you are here. Martin is in room 245," Jack said in cold tone that matched Victor's.

"Oh, thank you for the information," Victor said as he held his head in the air and started to walk away from Jack.

"Look, Martin doesn't need a fly-by visit. He has been through hell, he needs support," Jack growled as he glared at Victor.

Victor met Jack's cold stared with unblinking eyes. "Don't talk to me about my son!" Victor nearly yelled. He turned and continued to stride in the direction of Martin's room – his wife following him.

Jack sighed and walked back into Danny's room – where he was relieved to find his agent still sleeping peacefully. He collapsed into the chair and leaned his head back – losing himself in his thoughts. He would check on Martin later, hoping he was showing no ill affects from his parent's visits. But right now there was nothing he could do apart from rest.


Martin buried his head into his pillow. He didn't want anyone to see him cry – Fitzgerald's don't cry. His parents had just left but he wished they had never had come. They always made him feel useless. It was as though he had crashed the plane just to piss them off or embarrass them. But maybe it was his fault; if it hadn't been for him, Danny wouldn't have ended up in the state he was in. He inhaled sharply and flinched as he felt a hand on his shoulder – was his father back? His father would be so disappointed if he found him crying.

"Martin," Jack said softly as he touched Martin's tense shoulder.

"Jack!" Martin exclaimed in a slightly panicked tone.

"You okay?" Jack asked gently noting Martin's tear stained face.

"I'm fine," Martin said quickly – maybe a little too quickly. He looked away – he didn't deserve Jack's concern or pity.

"Its okay Martin, it's over. Danny's going to be alright as well," Jack reassured as he squeezed Martin's shoulder again.

Martin nodded and continued to look down as he felt tears begin to stream down his face again. Why was this happening? Why couldn't he keep it together? He had kept it together in front of his parents, why couldn't he keep it together in front of Jack – his boss?

Putting a supportive hand on Martin's shoulder, he coaxed him into giving in to his emotions. Hadn't his parents done this? How many people had actually given a damn about Martin? "It's okay, Martin, it's okay. Just let it all out, everything is going to be alright," he reassured.

"I'm so sorry Jack, I'm so sorry," Martin said as he cried quietly.

"What are you sorry for?" Jack said as he kneaded Martin's neck. "You did good, Martin, you really did. I am so proud of both of you."

"Y-You are?" Martin managed to stammer. He looked up and stared at Jack in shock. "My parents weren't – they were disappointed," he finished and looked down.

"They actually said that?" Jack exclaimed in shock.

"N-No, but I know they were thinking it," Martin said bitterly.

"I am sure they weren't thinking that. And even if they were, we are proud of you. Martin the whole team is proud of you. I know Danny is. You kept him alive out there," Jack stated.

"Thanks," Martin mumbled as he composed himself. It was so nice to have people in his life that actually gave a shit about him. He looked up and gave a Jack a small smile.

Jack collapsed into the chair next to Martin's bed as Martin found a smile. "Oh and Martin you think I haven't noticed."

"What?" Martin exclaimed

"That the only people that had been in and out of yours and Danny's room have been female," Jack said with a smirk.

Martin returned the smirk. "Damn Danny's taking some of those pretty ladies from me?" he joked. "I better work fast. I won't have a chance when finally wakes up and turns on the charm.

"The amount of young, giggling women with ultra short skirts that have checked on Danny – well I have lost count," Jack yawned. He rolled his eyes as another young, pretty nurse can to check on Martin. With the amount of staff in this hospital, he smirked again at the thought. He just found it amusing that all the people that checked on Danny and Martin were female. As the nursed walked out of the room, Jack added. "Danny has got them to bring him food."

"And you think I haven't?" Martin replied with a smirk. "I have just order a double cheeseburger with bacon and extra fries."


Three days later

Danny sat on the bed, eyeing the bag with disgust. Finally after what felt like a lifetime, he was finally being allowed to go home. It wasn't that he hated in the hospital. The nurses and doctors had been great, but he just wanted to go home. He blinked and shook his head as he stared at the bag again. Jack had brought him some clothes for his trip home. He took a breath and pulled the clothes out of the bag, and turned his nose up in disgust.

"What did you get me?" Danny exclaimed as he stared at the neon orange fleece. At the least the rest of the clothing wasn't as bad – just jeans, a white t-shirt and sneakers. "The fleece is bad enough but did you really have to buy them from Wal-Mart?"

Jack smirked and bit back the laugh that threatened to escape his lips. "I know your Agent Casanova, but my budget can't account for Armani so you are just going to have to cope with Wal-Mart," he said as tears screamed down his face as continued force himself not to laugh.

"Don't laugh; this is serious. I cannot be seen in that!" Danny exclaimed.

"Well by all means, go to the airport in the hospital grown," Jack laughed

Danny glared at Jack and stormed off to the bathroom – holding the Wal-Mart with the tips of his fingers. He emerged a few minutes later glaring at Jack and neon orange fleece. "You just got this," he said indicating to the fleece, "to torture me."

"No Danny, I would never do that," Jack smirked. "I just thought I wouldn't lose you in the airport with it." He noticed Danny's sudden tense at the mention of the airport. "It will be fine, okay? The important thing is that you stay warm," he reassured.

"How do you know that?"

"I don't, but you more likely to win the lottery than be in two plane crashes in as many as weeks," Jack reassured. "And anyway, if the plane even considers crashing, I will deal with it," he joked.

Danny found a small, nervous smile. "What about Fitzy?"

"Martin is going back to DC to recover," Jack said slightly bitterly. He knew it was the wrong decision. He knew he should have almost forced Martin to come back to New York with Danny and himself. In DC, Martin may recover physically, but emotionally – well that's why Martin should be flying to New York with them.

"Oh," Danny said quietly. After the last week on the mountain with Martin, he had bonded with him. And in his head, this nightmare wasn't over until both of them were back in New York – annoying Jack.


Denver International Airport

Martin closed his eyes as he felt beads of sweat down his back. He looked around the huge airport for any signs of gate 56, but all he could see was endless fast-food joints. His father had pressured him into going to DC with him, but he had changed his mind. He had booked a flight to New York – he just hoped it was the same one as Danny and Jack. He readjusted the bag on his shoulder before he hobbled through the airport.

At the far end of the airport, he spied two figures and smirked. He saw Jack in his normal street clothes but what made him smirk, was Danny. He couldn't believe Danny was wearing neon orange fleece. He guessed that Jack had bought it as a joke, considering Danny was usually dressed in the most stylish clothes he could afford. As he grinned, he hobbled towards them.

"Danny, are you sure you are okay?" Jack asked, concerned laced into his voice, as Danny had just had another coughing fit.

"I'm fine," Danny said breathlessly.

"Okay," Jack said not quite believing him. "Why don't you get some rest, our flight doesn't leave for another half hour."

"Jack!" Danny whined. "I'm really okay. Well I would be better if I didn't have this Wal-Mart neon orange fleece."

"At least you don't have to wear a suit back," a voice said.

"Martin," Danny and Jack exclaimed together as they looked up.

"Why didn't you tell me you were coming," Jack exclaimed. "Sit down."

"Jack, I'm fine," Martin started but he was soon cut off by Jack.

"So you are catching the same flight as us? Are you okay? Do you need anything?" Jack said as he began to fire off questions.

"U-mm yes, yes and no," Martin replied with a smile.

Jack frowned as he looked Martin up and down. "I am going to get some food for both of you. Stay here, don't move and don't chat up any flight attendants," he growled as he stoked off.

"Welcome to the world of the scary, overprotective, mother-hen Jack Malone," Danny said as soon as Jack was out of ear shot.

"I guessed that much. How are you, man? You look a little better than when I last saw you," Martin said with smirk.

"I'd say the same about you, but I can't," Danny joked. "Seriously man, are you sure you are okay?"

"I'm good man," Martin said as he leaned back.

"Excuse me."

Danny and Martin both looked up to see a pretty blonde flight attendant standing in front of them. "Hello. What can I do for you?" Danny asked with his most charming smile.

The flight attendant giggled slightly as looked at the two men. "Are you two flying on the 1134 United to New York?"

"Yes, yes we are," Danny said as he sat up. "I'm sorry I didn't introduce myself I am Special Agent Danny Taylor and this is Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald." Danny looked across at Martin to see he was smiling sheepishly.

"Oh you're FBI. Were you hurt on the job?" the flight attendant asked.

"Yes," Martin replied with his best puppy dog eyes. "It was a plane crash, after we had been on a case."

"We were trapped up on the Rockies for a week," Danny added with big brown eyes staring at the flight attendant.

"Oh that's terrible. I'll see if I can get you an upgrade," the flight attendant said sympathetically as she walked towards the gate.

Danny and Martin looked at each and grinned. "You know what? Jack is going to be so mad if we get upgraded and he doesn't," Martin said with a smirk.

Danny smirked but his expression soon turned serious. "You know, I don't think I ever thanked you for saving my life," he said in a small voice.

"No need, because it was you that actually saved my life. Remember?" Martin said with a reassuring smile.

"Well if that's the case then you can tell Jack that we are flying first while he's flying coach," Danny said with a smirk. He looked at Martin's nervous expression. "Relax man, we are a team, we are partners--after the shit we have been through together after the last week. You're not alone anymore – you know that, don't you?"

"Yeah," Martin said slowly.

"You have the team now," Danny said. He watched Martin smile before adding. "But as you are the rookie, you still have to be the one to tell Jack about the upgrade."

"What upgrade?" the gruff voice asked as he approached his two agents.