Danny had grown used to leaving the office before Martin. Usually he'd smirk to himself and say an offhanded goodbye on his way past Martin's desk. The other man would inevitably tell him goodnight, but never look up from his reports. Martin was nothing if not efficient. And a little bit of a geek. But strangely enough that seemed to make him more likeable than Danny had originally thought. The first impression Martin had made hadn't been the best, but Martin was slowly growing on him. Danny still couldn't decide if that was a good thing or not.

But tonight Martin wasn't bent over reports or even working away at his computer. He was just sitting at his desk, pen in hand, staring straight ahead and looking at nothing Danny could see. Frowning, Danny watched him for a few moments, noticing that he wasn't really moving.

Shaking his head, Danny sauntered over towards Martin, a big part of him wondering why he wasn't just leaving as usual. He leaned against the side of Martin's desk and crossed his arms over his chest, smirk firmly in place. "So, did you finally realize that those reports aren't really all that exciting and that they can usually wait until morning?" he asked, his tone teasing and light.

Martin looked up, startled as if Danny wasn't supposed to be there. "Sorry, I sort of drifted off…did you say something?" he asked, failing to suppress the small tremor in his voice.

Danny frowned, uncrossing his arms and leaning closer, one hand on Martin's desk now. The look in the other man's eyes was nothing if not dazed. He looked a little bit lost, uncertain and not exactly sure of himself. It was the first time Danny had really seen him even the tiniest bit undone and not in complete control. It made him more human.

"Are you all right?" Danny asked, concern evident in his voice.

Martin looked at him for a few moments without answering, the expression in his blue eyes clouded and almost vulnerable, his face paler than normal. But then he shook his head and cleared his throat, forcing a half smile. "Yeah, I'm fine," he replied, voice calm and under control again. He turned away from Danny, gathering up the reports for their most recent case in his hands and flipping through them as if it were vital he found the exact page he needed immediately.

But Danny wasn't fooled. He'd glimpsed that moment of vulnerability in Martin's eyes before he'd settled his mask firmly in place. Quickly, he started to piece it together in his head, knowing Martin had just come back to the office with Jack. They'd found Andy Deaver, who needed some medical attention and undoubtedly would need years of therapy…but they'd found him. Alive. Danny was a little unclear as to what all had happened in the car among Jack, Martin and Spaulding. But something had Martin shaken up.

A part of Danny was wondering why he hadn't moved on and said goodnight by now. What did he care if Martin Fitzgerald seemed a little…off? But Danny couldn't deny or ignore the small surge of protectiveness he felt. He left Martin's desk for a moment, pulling his own chair over and sitting down, ignoring the look of confusion Martin shot his way.

"What happened tonight?" Danny asked, leaning forward, his arms on his knees.

Martin furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head slightly, turning away from Danny and back to the work on his desk. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Danny rolled his eyes and grabbed the arm of Martin's chair, forcing him back to Danny's attention. "Really," he said dryly. He couldn't help smirking as Martin's confusion started to change to agitation. Danny knew he made the other man nervous, put him on edge…it was something he enjoyed immensely. But tonight, he did genuinely want to help. Of course, what he was slowly learning about Martin was that if he didn't want to open up, it was quite near impossible to get him to do so. But Danny loved a challenge.

Martin sighed, clearly irritated and turned to look at Danny again, giving up on the hope that he might just go away. "We found the kid, we saved his life…everything worked out fine," he said evenly. It was only the nervous shift of his eyes and the very tiny catch in his voice that contrasted his words. And Danny probably wouldn't have even noticed if he hadn't been looking for it.

"Uh huh," he answered, nodding his head and leaning a little bit closer. "If that's the case, why do you look like a deer caught in the headlights?"

Instantly Martin's defenses went up. Danny marveled that it was so easy to actually see. "What do you mean by that?" he asked, voice agitated, eyes narrowed slightly.

Instead of answering with a smart know-it-all reply and a smirk, Danny turned the tables on the other man and let his genuine concern shine through his eyes and his expression. "It's pretty obvious you're shaken up," he said, voice low and soothing. He had to stop himself before he reached out and touched Martin, wondering where the urge had even come from. "Uh-uh…don't argue with me," he added quickly before Martin could interrupt him. Clearing his throat, he looked down for a minute and then back up into Martin's eyes, struck for a moment by how blue they were. "Something happened in that car didn't it?" he asked, the tone of his voice even more intimate and full of empathy. He knew how hard some of these cases could be, and the circumstances surrounding this one were bound to cause some distress.

Martin looked like he wanted to shake his head and argue. In fact he almost did, but then he held Danny's gaze for a moment longer and he just seemed to deflate. The argument left him and he looked down at the ground, body slouching against the back of the chair.

"I…I wasn't expecting what happened, that's all," he said quietly, eyes never leaving the floor. Danny waited, silent and still, knowing that the other man had more to say. Whether he said it or not was a different story. "I just…the things that Jack said to him so we could find out where Andy was…I couldn't do that," he whispered, face white now.

Danny leaned forward, reaching out absently and placing his hand on Martin's wrist. He could only imagine what Jack had said and he wasn't going to ask Martin to elaborate – didn't want to put him through that. Danny had seen Jack find ways to get the answers he wanted enough times to have an idea of what had been said. "I don't think anyone's expecting you to," Danny replied softly, wishing Martin would look up. Danny didn't seem to consciously realize how close the two of them were now, but he could feel Martin tremble slightly beneath his touch, could feel the warmth emanating off of him, even though he was probably cold to the touch.

"But it worked," Martin protested, glancing upwards to meet Danny's dark eyes. He swallowed hard and Danny found himself focusing on the way Martin nervously licked his lips. "Jack got Spaulding to break and…and he told us where Andy was…"

"But?" Danny prompted, sensing that Martin wanted to stop talking as quickly as possible. He was already surprised at how much he'd gotten out of him. He'd never seen Martin be so open before.

Martin shook his head slightly. "It was…disturbing at best," he answered. "I…I don't know how else to put it." He stopped, looking a little helpless. Danny wondered if he even knew how much his eyes gave away.

"No you don't have to," Danny interrupted, a soft smile on his lips, his eyes bright with understanding. "I can only imagine. Look Martin, I know how difficult these kinds of cases can be…"

"I can handle it Danny," Martin said, eyes narrowing.

Danny almost laughed. Martin's defenses had gone up just like that, obviously misinterpreting what it was Danny was trying to say. But his whole demeanor changed in a flash. He'd gone from weary and slightly vulnerable looking to cold, collected and professional in seconds. In a strange way it was rather impressive.

"If you'd let me finish you would've heard me say that you're only human when you let them get under your skin. Sooner or later there'll be a case that will stick with you, no matter how much you try to forget it. I just want you to know that if you ever need to talk about any of them you can talk to me," he said sincerely. No matter his initial mistrust and dislike of Martin, Danny found that the other man had grown on him and Danny hadn't even been paying attention. He'd never admit – not even to himself – that the physical attraction had been there since day one, but he'd just now, during the course of this conversation, realized that he liked more about Martin than just his keen ability to do his job.

Martin's eyes quickly went from a cool detachment to embarrassment. He blushed – something Danny found entirely too endearing – and gave Danny half a smile. "Sorry," he mumbled. Looking up again, Danny noticed his expression become open and honest. "And um…thank you," he added, a genuine note in his voice.

"Anytime," Danny answered, his half-smile, half-smirk back in place now. He watched Martin grow nervous, probably wondering why Danny hadn't stood up and told him goodnight by now. He glanced at the stack of paperwork on Martin's desk and shook his head. "Come on, Fitzie…let's get out of here. Go get something to eat," he said casually.

Martin blushed again, eyes a little wider than usual as he took in Danny's invitation. Danny couldn't help but think Martin was flustered over the whole proposal and he wondered why that was. Wondered and made up his own answer: that Martin was just as wonderfully confused by his growing attraction to Danny as Danny was to Martin. It made perfect sense in his head.

Danny watched him start to refuse, to protest, but he reached over and shut off the light on his desk first. "Don't argue with me," he said authoritatively, his grin softening the tone. "I promise all these papers will be here in the morning."

"I'd rather you promise that they'll all be on your desk in the morning," Martin replied as he logged off of his computer and stood up.

Danny's eyes widened and he grinned at Martin's smile, his attempt at banter not going unnoticed. As they walked to the elevator a comfortable silence settled around them and Danny marveled at how things had changed. So quickly and with one little conversation of understanding and now… Well, he wasn't sure exactly where now was going…but at least he had a path to follow.

Danny wasn't sure when he'd started to refer to his and Martin's evenings out as dates. Ever since that first night, the two of them had made an effort to go out and de-stress after work at least once a week. Sometimes they invited Sam or Viv…Jack had been asked once, declined and never asked again because it was rightfully assumed his answer would always be the same. But more and more it was just he and Martin. And more and more it wasn't just after work. It wasn't so much about just grabbing some food after a stressing day anymore as it was just about being with each other on their own time, outside of their jobs. Just the two of them, talking, laughing… Yes, Danny definitely referred to them as dates. Although he'd yet to mention that to Martin.

Tonight could not on any level be construed as anything other than an actual date. Danny was sure of it, though as he climbed the stairs to Martin's apartment he thought that Martin was probably clueless. Martin had invited him over for dinner. Dinner. At his apartment. Danny smirked and knocked on the door. He wondered what Martin would call that in his world.

Danny liked watching Martin cook, though he could tell he was making him nervous. So he took his glass of iced tea and walked out of the kitchen, perusing things in Martin's apartment. Not that he hadn't been here before, but it had always been a brief stop, meeting Martin and then the two of them going somewhere to eat. Never an actual night in. He marveled at how very Martin the apartment was. A little bit messy, mostly organized, books put away neatly on shelves – a variety of titles that caught Danny's interest – and yet also boxes labeled hastily with black marker that read "other stuff" lay on the floor, still unpacked. Danny frowned at that, wondering why Martin still had unpacked boxes in his apartment. It was as if he didn't plan on staying long and it was just easier to not unpack. Danny made a mental note to ask him about it later.

He raised his eyebrow at the scented candle burning on the coffee table. Smirking he sat down on the couch and took a sip of his iced tea. Candles most definitely helped file the evening in the date category; whether it was just an apple-scented jar candle or not. Candlelight meant date in Danny's mind.

He liked the clutter on the coffee table. Magazines and mail and a random stack of coasters. For some reason it made Danny smile. He rolled his eyes and shook his head, amazed that he was just now realizing how far in over his head he was. What had started as a friendly gesture had led him to this point, this inescapable point of no return. As he saw it, he had two choices. Let their evenings go on as they had been for a while now and change nothing. Danny had foresight enough to know how that would go…they'd probably end up killing each other because of the tension. Or he could do something about it, consequences be damned. He could take that first step and see where it led him…where it led them both.

Decision made, he stood up, leaving his glass on the coffee table, and went back into the kitchen. He paused for a moment in the doorway, soft smile in place as he watched Martin pull bread out of the oven. He almost laughed over the complete domesticity the picture presented. He nearly giggled – giggled – because he liked how Martin looked in jeans, a t-shirt and an oven mitt on one hand.

This is ridiculous.

Silently, he took a few steps forward into the small kitchen. Martin took off the oven mitt and tossed it on the counter. When he turned around he came face to face with Danny and his eyes widened in surprise. Exactly what Danny had wanted: Martin caught off guard and bewildered. Danny put his hands on Martin's shoulders, unable to help the way one hand drifted quickly to Martin's neck, fingers running gently over the warm skin of his cheek. He smiled, watched Martin shiver and swallow nervously.

And then Danny kissed him.

Within moments, Martin had practically melted against him. He kissed Danny back, tentatively yes, but responsive nonetheless. Danny passed his fingers through Martin's hair, rested his hand at the back of his neck and pulled him closer. He trembled when Martin's arms wrapped around his back, when his mouth fell open, inviting Danny to take more. He moaned softly as he began tasting Martin's mouth, tongues exploring, mouths wet, breath hot…he hadn't realized how instantly and completely he'd become addicted. But this was already more than he'd even imagined.

When they pulled apart, Danny was breathless and lightheaded. He laid his forehead against Martin's and kept his eyes shut for a few moments, catching his breath. He couldn't remember the last time a single kiss had left him so dizzy. Never, if he really thought about it. Opening his eyes he was met with a sea of blue and he smiled into Martin's eyes. Right away Danny noticed the other man's nervousness, the way he looked so unsure yet so hopeful. Absently, Danny ran his fingers over Martin's cheek and pressed another quick kiss to his lips, smiling as he felt Martin tighten his hold on him.

"Danny…" Martin said, voice a little shaky, eyes still bright with uncertainty and also the unmistakable look of desire.

"Never before have I had to go on so many dates before getting a first kiss," Danny teased, wanting to assuage any fears Martin might be having right away.

Martin blushed and lowered his eyes and Danny had to fight his laughter. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt so giddy. One kiss and Martin was going to his head faster than the most potent alcohol.

"I've been calling them dates too," Martin admitted softly, his blush growing deeper.

Danny beamed, and this time he couldn't stop the laughter from bubbling over.