This wasn't supposed to happen. FBI agents were supposed to be calm, collected…stoic. He was trying and he knew very well that to a stranger, he probably looked fine. But everything was a mess inside his head and he hated it.
His hands trembled slightly as he sat down at his desk and reached for a stack of reports. Before he could stop it the whole evening started playing itself over in his mind. Jack's calm direction for him to drive through the park, the things Jack had said to Spaulding, the tone of his voice…it had been, well disturbing to say the least. Several times, he'd had to force himself to keep his eyes on the road and not stare into the rearview mirror. However, the few glances he had stolen had left him feeling nauseous and with the all too frightening possibility that nobody was that good of an actor. But it had all been a ploy. Strangely wrong, sickening…yet it had worked. That had been the most impressive aspect of the whole evening to Martin. It had practically brought Jack to his knees, had left him sick on the side of the road…yet he had gone through with it to save Andy Deaver.
And Martin was left with the horrible notion that faced with the same situation; he wouldn't be able to do the same thing.
He looked up and was surprised to see Danny next to him, leaning against his desk, perpetual smirk in place. "Sorry, I sort of drifted off…did you say something?" he asked, hoping his voice didn't let any of his inner turmoil come through.
But Danny frowned and leaned a little closer. "Are you all right?" he asked, concern evident in both his eyes and voice.
For a few moments, he couldn't answer as the night's events jolted through his mind again with a frightening speed and clarity. But he shook it off, as best he could, clearing his throat and trying to smile. "Yeah, I'm fine." He was relieved to hear the tone of his voice sound more controlled again. With an indifference his father would've been proud of he turned back to his desk and started leafing through his reports, not really seeing anything on them, just needing to do something. He prayed that Danny would take his words at face value and leave him alone. And for a few brief moments, he thought that he'd gotten exactly that but then Danny was at his side again, sitting in his chair and leaning close. Too close.
"What happened tonight?" he asked, that concerned tone hitting Martin hard again.
But he fought not to show it and instead shook his head and made a point of not looking at Danny. "I don't know what you're talking about."
He wasn't surprised when Danny grabbed the arm of his chair and spun him around to face him. One thing Martin had learned in the past few months was that Danny Taylor did not like to be ignored. "Really," Danny said, his voice dry and unconvinced.
Martin couldn't do this, not with Danny. Not with anyone really. He didn't know how to let his feelings show or admit his weaknesses. It came from years of watching his father never do either. Irritated – because that was one thing he could show – he sighed and said, "We found the kid, we saved his life…everything worked out fine." There, that had been easy. No way Danny could've picked up on anything other than his words with that sentence.
"Uh huh," Danny went on, leaning closer still into Martin's personal space. His eyes told Martin that he hadn't believed a word of what he'd said. "If that's the case, why do you look like a deer caught in the headlights?"
"What do you mean by that?" he asked quickly, bristling at Danny's words. He did not like to think of himself as ever appearing the least bit vulnerable. Especially not in front of Danny.
But Danny had a way of unnerving him that no one else did, and the way his eyes looked now – warm and truly concerned – was becoming a little too hard for Martin to resist. "It's pretty obvious you're shaken up."
Martin wanted to object but Danny wouldn't let him. "Uh-uh…don't argue with me," he said quickly. "Something happened in that car, didn't it?"
It was on the tip of his tongue to protest, to narrow his eyes and snap back at Danny that nothing had happened. Everything was fine and everything had worked out the way it was supposed to. Why then he found himself nodding slightly, looking down and collapsing back against his chair was a mystery to him. "I…I wasn't expecting what happened, that's all," he said softly. It was an opening he'd never meant to give to Danny, but at the same time it offered a strange sort of relief that he'd never experienced before. Nervous, he swallowed hard. Once again, the night's events unfolded quickly in his mind, leaving him cold and pale. "I just…the things that Jack said to him so we could find out where Andy was…I couldn't do that," he whispered, both relieved and dismayed to be admitting so much.
He didn't move when Danny put his hand on his wrist. He could feel the warmth of him, even through his shirt and it was like an anchor to the present. He didn't want to relive that car ride again, and with Danny here, touching him, warm and so, so close…it was easier to do.
"I don't think anyone's expecting you to," Danny said softly, his fingers moving just slightly against Martin's wrist.
"But it worked," Martin protested, looking up. He had to pause for a moment, suddenly very aware of how close Danny really was. Their foreheads were nearly touching and Danny's eyes were dark and intent and focused solely on him… "Jack got Spaulding to break and…and he told us where Andy was…"
"But?" Danny asked, once again ignoring Martin's attempts to end the conversation.
Martin shook his head, not sure of what else he could say. Or what he wanted to say. The thought of repeating Jack's words left him nearly sick. "It was…disturbing at best. I…I don't know how else to put it." He stopped, praying that Danny wouldn't ask him for more details. He met the other man's eyes and tried his best to appear collected.
"No, you don't have to," Danny said, smiling again. Martin was just relieved that he wasn't going to ask for more. "I can only imagine. Look Martin, I know how difficult these kinds of cases can be…"
Because Danny was being so kind and understanding – both things that Martin was secretly grateful for – he felt the unnatural need to lash out at him, to protect his I-can-take-care-of-myself attitude. "I can handle it Danny," he snapped, eyes narrowing.
"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, voice sounding sincere.
Martin's eyes widened and he blushed in embarrassment. "Sorry," he mumbled, feeling stupid for assuming the wrong thing. But more than that he was strangely grateful to Danny. Grateful for the fact that he'd pretty much forced him to talk about this evening. And it was better than keeping it bottled up inside. Grateful also for Danny's offer to talk more in the future. He wondered briefly if Danny had any idea how much his concern meant to Martin. "And um…thank you," he said, trying to genuinely express his gratitude.
"Anytime," Danny answered, his normal smirk back again, his eyes twinkling. When he didn't stand up and say goodnight right away Martin began to feel strangely nervous. He hadn't expected this conversation but now that it had happened, he certainly didn't expect anything more. His mind tripped over itself wondering what kind of more he was thinking of exactly. "Come on, Fitzie…let's get out of here. Go get something to eat."
He felt flustered now. A weird sort of panic was slowly spreading through his body and it was natural to try and protest. Danny's words were easy and casual, but they left Martin wondering if there was some sort of subtext he was missing. But before he could even open his mouth to decline Danny was reaching over and shutting off the light at his desk, telling Martin not to argue with him. "I promise all these papers will be here in the morning."
Figuring he didn't have anything to lose, Martin decided to shelve his panic for the moment and let things be easy for once. "I'd rather you promise that they'll all be on your desk in the morning," he quipped, strangely proud of himself for his light, teasing tone of voice.
And Danny's eyes widened, as did his smile and Martin felt oddly validated. And relaxed. And more excited by the prospect of a casual meal with Danny than he thought he should be.
After that night, things only became more confusing in Martin's world. But confusing in a way he was starting to treasure. He and Danny started spending more and more time together outside of the office. They'd go out for food after a stressful day, at first once a week, but then it had been more like two or three times a week. It was relaxing and thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. Martin wasn't used to someone like Danny. All emotion and loud laughter, bright eyes and lots of gesturing to emphasize his words. He captivated Martin.
A few times they'd tried inviting the others along but those evenings were never as fulfilling for Martin. Yes he liked Sam and Viv…but he was selfishly starting to want Danny all to himself. That was one of the thoughts he filed under the terrifying category. Another being that he was strangely starting to refer to their evenings out as dates. Dates.
He picked a shirt out of his drawer and froze as he thought about tonight. He had invited Danny over for dinner. A dinner that Martin planned on cooking himself. Just him and Danny and a home cooked meal. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to pull the t-shirt over his head and then took a deep breath. So it was a date. He tried to talk himself down off of his mental ledge and made himself promise not to call Danny and cancel. It was undeniable really…the attraction he'd had to Danny since day one, despite the rather frosty reception. Now they'd been getting so much closer and Martin couldn't deny wanting more. But he had no idea how to get it and even if he did, he doubted he had the courage to make it happen. He wondered if Danny had any idea…if Danny would laugh at him or yell at him or feel the same way. Nervous now, he walked into his kitchen and tried to think solely about what he would be cooking and not about the evening itself.
Danny was making him nervous. Standing behind him, that lazy smirk on his face, watching Martin make dinner. Thankfully, he didn't stay long, taking his glass of iced tea and sauntering off into the living room. But then Martin grew confused. He was relieved to be alone for the moment, yes, but he also missed the weight of Danny's stare. Sighing, he went about putting the garlic bread into the oven and forced himself not to peek around the corner and see what Danny was doing.
He spent the next few minutes alone with his thoughts, wondering if all their recent flirting and time spent together and tension was only in his head. Or if Danny felt the same way. He had to know, but he was terrified of rejection. Not only because he'd lose any chance he had, but also because he'd lose Danny's friendship. And friendship was something Martin did not take lightly because he'd never really had close friends. Somehow Danny had worked hard enough and found a way past Martin's defenses. So Martin's dilemma of losing Danny's friendship left him frightened enough to do nothing.
He set the tray of bread on top of the stove and took off his oven mitt, turned around and came face to face with Danny. He jumped in surprise, his eyes wide as he met the other man's warm gaze. He could barely hear over the loud beating of his heart as Danny put his hands on his shoulders, as his hand touched the skin of Martin's neck. He shivered and swallowed nervously, willing himself not to panic at the way Danny's eyes suddenly showed such desire.
And then Danny kissed him.
He melted against Danny, kissing him back, timidly at first but then deeper as he grew more confident. He wrapped his arms around Danny's back, wanting him closer, and opened his mouth, shivering as Danny took full advantage. Clarity and a powerful sense of rightness burst through Martin like sunshine, as he finally understood everything so much better. All the nights they'd spent together. Danny's warm gaze, his playful flirting, the casual touches…they all made sense now.
They pulled apart eventually and Martin was surprised to notice that Danny seemed as shaky as he was. They stood still for a few moments; foreheads pressed together, eyes closed, just reveling in the fact that everything was going to change. Martin was still a little uncertain, a little frightened by it all and he knew it was showing when they opened their eyes and Danny looked at him. He smiled, gave Martin a look that made him quiver on the inside, and kissed him again.
Martin tightened his grip on the other man, desperately needing to keep him close. "Danny…" he said softly, his voice trembling a little bit. He needed Danny to take the lead, to make the next move and show him where they went next.
"Never before have I had to go on so many dates before getting a first kiss," he said, his voice teasing but gentle. It was amazing that Danny seemed to understand him so well. This was exactly what Martin needed.
He blushed and looked down, couldn't help liking the way Danny seemed to want to laugh. A laughter he longed to hear because he knew it would be warm and inviting and would calm any sense of fear Martin still had. And he wanted to admit the truth, let Danny see exactly what he'd been feeling for weeks now. "I've been calling them dates too."
And then Danny did laugh and Martin felt his heart flutter in his chest. When he looked up he was met with warmth and desire and joy in Danny's inviting dark eyes…and he laughed too.