1

New York was a cheap, but talented actress. She was dirty and cruel, would sooner step on your face as look at you. But she glittered in the evening, alluring and seductive…forever drawing people closer and closer until they were hopelessly trapped in her web.

Shivering, Danny shut his eyes and breathed in the chilly autumn air. He hugged his arms around his chest, trying to get warm, knowing it was hopeless. Heat was at his back, just inside, but he couldn't turn away from the dark, glistening city. Couldn't turn away from the tempting landscape, couldn't turn away for fear of what he'd find behind him. Of what he knew he'd see. And those were the thoughts he was trying so desperately to escape.

His feet were bare – freezing actually – and pressed down into the metal grating of the fire escape. He wore only a t-shirt – Martin's, he thought – and loose fitting pajama pants. Hardly conducive to staying warm on an autumn night in New York. A brief, faint smile lit his lips as he thought of Florida, of home…couldn't really believe he still thought of it as home, but it seemed to be automatic. Autumn in Florida would be so much warmer. A very slight change in the air, in the way it blew off the ocean. Still very late into hurricane season and the chance for one last storm was always lingering on the horizon. But the salty air would be a relief now, when instead all he could smell was coldness and a blend of restaurants and faint gasoline fumes from the streets below.

Funny how New York had always been a comfort until now. Until his life had become confusing and unsteady and spiraling so quickly out of his well-earned control. Now she was cold and unyielding. A spiteful city who'd turned her back and abandoned him when he so desperately needed a sense of normalcy to latch onto.

Despite himself he turned halfway around, still leaning against the side of the window and looked inside. His body was drawn as much by the heat of the room as it was by the man asleep in his bed.

Martin.

He had to wonder as he pressed one cold foot against the inside of his leg and squeezed his body more tightly with his arms if Martin and New York were not conspiring together to flip his world upside down. She – that vengeful, heartless city – had turned a cold shoulder to his need for comfort. He, on the other hand, had drawn him closer…all warmth and whispers and feelings. Feelings he had never thought to have, had never even wanted until their eyes had met.

And how was it possible? How had this man left him feeling so powerless and disjointed? He'd never even been attracted to men. At least he hadn't thought he was…current situation being what it was had left him open to all sorts of doubt about himself. And male friends had always been few and far between. Not since he was a young teenager had he had one, and then just for a summer before he'd moved away. Eric, Danny remembered his name, a sad smile flitting across his face. And after that, plenty of people to hang out with…no, he'd never been alone. But no one closer than he'd let them be. Not even, or maybe especially not, when he'd been in college. Always plenty of people to drink with, to party with, even study with…but real friends were a rarity. And now? There was Jack…not really what Danny would call a friend, but someone he respected; and it took a lot to earn Danny's respect. Scott, his sponsor, again not really someone he considered a friend, but more of someone who was always there for him and ready to listen.

And Martin.

He sighed, turning back to the cold, nighttime air and the glittering city. Amazing how it could change in appearance so quickly. Once a sparkling, promising jewel…now looking almost cheap and tawdry; costume jewelry sewn haphazardly into place.

Martin was a complete mystery. And Danny had been drawn from the first moment. Never mind the way he'd scoffed at him, blatantly assuming that he'd gotten the job solely on his father's name. Untrustworthy and useless had been Danny's first assumptions and yet Martin had shown his intelligence and eagerness to prove himself all too quickly. Showing Danny up on the first case they worked together…something that maddeningly enough brought a smile to his face even now. He'd wanted to laugh, triumphantly, when Martin had ended that first case with a blow to the head and a trip to the hospital but he hadn't been able to and nothing had been the same ever since.

After a few weeks, Danny had found himself flirting. Horrified when he'd recognized it for what it was, he'd shrugged it off, laughed at himself a little bit and promised himself that it would never happen again. And yet the temptation had been far too difficult to resist. So he'd let it slide, enjoying the way he could lean close and flirt, annoy and tease until he'd won his prize: a crinkling of the eyes, a dimpled smile and a pink blush.

And everyone had to know. If Danny had been able to see it for what it was, then the rest of them had to also. He'd noticed the smiles and soft shakes of the head from Vivian, the occasional raised eyebrow and discreet grin from Sam…even a knowing sort of look from Jack, but none of them ever said anything. Maybe he was just being paranoid. Luckily, he was confident enough in himself to believe that he could pull it off, that he could just keep on doing what he was and they'd all just see him as being Danny.

But then Martin had begun to respond, to flirt back and lean closer in a way that was almost maddening. Panicked, Danny had tried to backpedal but still couldn't resist their easy banter and the knowing glances that were beginning to speak, more often than not, of heat and something more than just playful flirting.

And somewhere along the way Danny had lost the upper hand. So when Martin invited him out for something to eat after work he'd said yes almost eagerly. It was casual – or that's what he told himself. Just two colleagues, a friendly meal after work…for many nights later he'd wonder why he hadn't thought it odd that his heart had been beating so quickly from the moment he'd said yes.

Elegant, cool, self-suffused – a mask that was entirely too difficult to keep in place with Martin. With everyone else yes, but not with Martin. And once he'd started chipping away at the disguise it had peeled back much more easily than Danny would have liked. He was baffled by his lack of defenses with this man.

It had been easy – so easy – to say yes when Martin had softly asked him home. Never mind the small voice in his head – the one that spoke only in Spanish and sounded suspiciously like his younger self – that begged him to say goodnight and go home. Begged him to stop before he'd do something he'd regret. The same voice that began to resort to name-calling and then a pleading desperation as he'd followed Martin up two flights of stairs to his apartment. Funny how the voice just vanished the instant Martin's lips touched his. Nothing else had mattered and the only thing he heard after that was Martin's murmured words of want and his own frantic consent.

So, so easily he'd let himself be seduced. Not even a moment of resistance, a token word about why this was such a bad idea. And the strangeness he'd expected because of what he was doing with another man was completely non-existent. No, none of it had mattered. There was only Martin and his hands in Danny's hair, on his back, fingers fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. Martin's mouth on his, making him weak. No one had ever kissed him that way before…like he was drowning and he needed Danny to breathe. All soft – so soft – lips and blistering heat, pressing Danny's mouth open to taste, tongue searching, finding, possessing.

And simple, wasn't it, to say yes as Martin had shed them both of their clothing, pulling Danny to his bedroom, kissing away the nervousness that had finally had the decency to show up. He'd moaned, gripping tightly to the sheets as Martin had touched him, lips on his neck now, nipping, soothing, leaving marks Danny knew would be blatant in the morning. But morning was the last thing on his mind. He'd told Danny – heated whispered words – how much he wanted him, how long he'd thought about this moment, and Danny had been blinded by that want, only then realizing that everything he'd been feeling, probably since day one, was the same. This desire, lust…need for Martin.

Impossible to say no then. It was as if he couldn't quite catch his breath because the blinding need to have Martin closer was so palpable. He'd kissed him deeply again and again, whispering things he'd never thought he'd say against swollen lips and heated skin. Frantically ran his hands over Martin's back and sides and arms, anywhere he could touch, arching up into him shamelessly, wanting all the while to be closer. Martin had complied, needless worry in a moment's hesitation but he'd been just as desperate. And he'd been oh so careful with Danny, soothing through the brief pain, patient, gasps of pleasure and a look in his eyes that had been more comforting than any words he could have spoken.

Danny shivered, stopping his train of thought and squeezing his eyes shut. When he opened them again the city was still before him, dark and uncaring. He didn't remember how much time had passed, how many weeks since that first night he'd spent with Martin. The most surprising thing of all had been the lack of awkwardness the next morning. How his waking up with Martin, waking up to Martin's sleepy kisses and clumsy touches was so…normal. And it hadn't stopped there. They were together on any free night they had when they weren't still working till all hours on a case. At Danny's apartment, at Martin's…it didn't matter. Even stranger the way things hadn't changed at the office. They still fought, bickered and bantered with one another the same as always. When they went home together, though, they left work behind and fell into a different sort of relationship. Easy, thrilling and so, so good.

That was exactly what Danny was having trouble reconciling. He'd ignored it for a while, but it was becoming almost impossible…an anchoring sort of weight that was screaming for his attention.

The city blinked and he jumped slightly at the feel of arms wrapping around his body, a sheet suddenly draped over him, Martin's chest pressed warmly against his back. He shut his eyes, sighing softly as Martin ran a hand through his hair and then went back to holding him tightly, fingers pressed against his stomach. Soft lips on his neck were expected and he shivered again, trying not to let his darker thoughts slip away – as they were apt to do under Martin's touch.

"What's wrong?" Martin asked softly, gentle tone, worried. His warm breath against Danny's neck was intoxicating.

Danny didn't reply though, just held as still as he could, focusing on the city before him instead. It was so hard to resist and for a moment he wondered why he was even trying. All he needed to do was lean back, turn his head into Martin's neck and close his eyes. Martin would pull him from the window ledge and back into bed, soft kisses and warm arms. An easy comfort that he could barely refuse. He bit down on his lower lip as it trembled and blinked, not at all willing to let this uncertainty get to him so easily. He would not cry.

"Come on Danny, talk to me," Martin said, his worry growing. Danny could feel him frowning, could feel the tensing of his body, the way his arms held him more tightly, not so languid and relaxed.

A few more minutes and still Danny couldn't seem to answer. He wanted to because he knew Martin would chase away his fears and make things simple again. But a very big part of him just wasn't able; he needed to work this out on his own…one way or another. "I can't right now," he finally replied, voice low and guarded. "I'm okay Martin really, I just…I can't talk about it right now."

Martin didn't answer but he didn't object either. He stayed where he was for a while longer, holding Danny tightly, his warm body a comfort that Danny wasn't sure he deserved, his lips soft as they kissed his neck a few more times. Eventually he stood up, letting Danny go and taking all of his warmth with him as he rose. Danny had to fight the instinct that hit him so hard – to turn around and pull Martin back.

But he didn't turn, straining to listen as Martin walked slowly back across the room, stopping halfway, the sheet rustling as he threw it back onto the bed. "Danny?" His voice was hesitant now and Danny cringed, hoping that he hadn't hurt the other man with his distance, knowing that he had. Danny didn't say anything, only waited for Martin to finish – a silence that stretched longer than he'd expected. "Danny you know this isn't just about sex right?" he asked, voice tight with nerves, the words almost spilling out of him.

And Danny couldn't help his sharp intake of breath, felt Martin's words hit him squarely in the chest and nearly knock him over. It took everything he had not to turn around, to get up and cross the room and pull Martin tightly against him. He found himself wanting to chase the hesitation out of his voice, to give him the same comfort that he'd tried to offer Danny only moments ago. Instead he only nodded, fingernails pressing crescent shaped marks into his palms. It was impossible to miss Martin's sad acceptance of his answer, even though Danny couldn't see him. He felt his soft sigh and the way he slowly crawled back into bed, the floorboards creaking softly as he stepped off of them.

How Martin had guessed his thoughts, had cut right to the core of all his worries and confusion was beyond him. The man had a way of seeing right through him, which baffled Danny to no end, especially since he'd spent a good portion of his life creating masks to wear and building walls around himself. Somehow Martin hadn't seen any of it and had found a secret passageway inside.

Danny was terrified by his feelings, by everything that had rushed through him since the first time they'd kissed and hadn't stopped since. If anything those feelings had matured, grown stronger and into so much more. And that was the reason why that at three a.m. he was sitting on the window ledge, his feet on the fire escape, brooding and cold.

He was in love with Martin Fitzgerald.

The realization hadn't stopped him from climbing back into bed with Martin, eventually giving up the city and the cold air. He'd trembled as he lifted the blankets and slid beneath them, instinctively and quickly reaching for the other man. And Martin, half asleep, pulled him closer as they touched, settling his head against Danny's shoulder, his arm slung carelessly across Danny's waist. He'd expected no sleep the rest of the night, but the opposite had been true, the lulling comfort of Martin's embrace too much for his exhausted mind to resist.

He pulled Martin closer as he felt the other man carefully trying to slip out of bed. "Stay," he mumbled, eyes still closed, voice rough with sleep.

He felt Martin kiss his cheek, a soft smile on his lips. "It's eight o'clock," Martin replied, simple, as if that explained everything.

Danny reluctantly opened his eyes, squinting and frowning a bit. Exasperated, he pulled the blankets over both of their heads and shut his eyes again. "It's Saturday," he replied, mimicking Martin's tone.

Martin pulled the blankets back down, fingers soft as they brushed Danny's arm. "Work could call," he said, protesting.

Danny rolled his eyes – even though they were still shut – and smiled. Not seeing, but knowing Martin's body well enough, he put his palm against the other man's cheek and leaned in for a kiss. "Work could not call," was his eventual reply, a smirk decorating his lips.

"Danny…"

"Martin," he complained, finally opening his eyes and letting out a breath of frustration, though he couldn't help the smile that tried tugging at the corners of his mouth. Martin was looking at him expectantly, like he was waiting for Danny to stop kidding around and be sensible and get out of bed because it was almost ten after eight in the morning. Sighing, he threaded his fingers through Martin's hair and kissed him softly again, hoping to distract. "Fitzie, this is what people do on Saturdays. They sleep in. They stay in bed all day," he went on quickly, sensing Martin's desire to interrupt. "They're lazy," he stressed, smirking.

Eyes took on a predatory gaze when Martin blushed, eyes flashing with interest – right after the part about staying in bed all day. In one fluid motion, he slipped his leg between Martin's, wrapped both arms around him and pulled him flush against him. When he kissed him this time it lacked any sort of morning sleepiness…it was all heat and desire. "I want to stay in bed all day with you," he murmured against his lips, smiling when Martin could only nod.

Danny pressed his forehead to Martin's and sighed softly. He ran his fingers through Martin's hair and across the back of his neck, loving how soft the skin was. "Sleep for a little bit more Fitz," he said softly, yawning a bit. And he had one last glance, blue eyes shy but content, before he shut his own and fell into lazy, early morning slumber.

The next time he woke up it was to the feel of Martin's gaze. A quick glance over his shoulder at the clock let him know that he'd been asleep for around two hours. Narrowing his eyes he looked at Martin again. "Have you been awake all this time?" he asked suspiciously.

But Martin shook his head, smiling softly. "No, I just woke up about fifteen minutes ago," he replied, pausing for a bit before going on, his voice questioning. "So um, what do we do now?"

Danny laughed, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to Martin's lips, his eyes bright. "I know it's daunting, but there's no specific plan."

Martin's eyes widened for a second but then he smiled, calmly accepting what he'd been told, though Danny could see him trying to work it all out in his head. And he felt his heart ache wonderfully in his chest. Martin's inability to idle, to do nothing and his confusion over it all…just something else that endeared him to Danny.

It was all morning clumsiness, slow and languid as they came together, Danny losing himself in Martin. Their bodies warm, hands and lips learning one another as if they'd never touched before. Whispered moans and broken words as they kissed, Danny moving slowly, yet urgently, inside of Martin. Fear, distant on the horizon when he couldn't figure out where he ended and Martin began. And yet it was over too soon, leaving Danny wanting more – something he was beginning to realize never stopped where Martin was concerned. He always wanted more.

They showered together, another act Danny found exhilarating as well as frightfully intimate. Wet kisses under the water, washing each other's hair, hands running over wet, slick skin…arousing in a way that only made them kiss each other more deeply.

Danny forced Martin to get back into bed after their shower, laughing over his bewildered protests. He found himself humming as he made them breakfast – late breakfast to be sure – and it was unnerving, especially after the night before, but he didn't try to fight it. He nearly giggled when he found Martin sitting up in bed, arms folded over his chest looking like a petulant child.

"Are you pouting?" Danny teased, handing him a mug of coffee and a plate with toast and some scrambled eggs on it – all he'd been able to scrounge up.

Martin scowled at him as he took a sip of his coffee, watching Danny closely as he got into bed next to him with his own breakfast. "No," he muttered. Seconds later a smile and soft words, "Thank you for breakfast." And Danny beamed.

It was late afternoon, after they'd had sex again and were breathless and spent when Martin had touched his face and turned him to face his eyes, finally bringing up what they'd both been avoiding. "Are you okay?" he asked, worry and hope blended helplessly in his blue eyes.

Danny swallowed hard, wanting to look away but not willing to hurt the other man in that way. He couldn't find it in him to lie though. "No," he answered after several tries. Swallowing hard, he glanced away for just a second and then gently touched Martin's cheek, tentative fingers grazing through his hair. "I just…I just need a little time," he added, almost as an afterthought, knowing he couldn't just leave things with a one-word answer.

"Talk to me," Martin pleaded, body closer now as he wrapped an arm around Danny's waist, their heads sharing the same pillow.

And Danny wanted to cry, his heart aching over the hurt he saw in Martin's eyes. "I can't," he said, voice rough, trembling almost. He moved even closer, forehead pressed to Martin's, fingertips grazing Martin's cheek. "I'll figure it out I promise," he went on.

"And then?" Martin asked, eyes soft and sad.

"I don't know yet," Danny replied, voice tight with frustration. He wanted more than anything to give Martin the answer he wanted to hear. He wanted to be able to say that he just needed some time to sort through his feelings and then he'd come back and they could live happily ever after or something like that. But it wasn't that simple, not by a long shot. Danny didn't want to have to come back because he didn't want to leave in the first place. He did need time to wade through his feelings but he also knew that even if he did sort them out, he wasn't sure what the outcome would be; he was so confused that it was almost dizzying. Above all, he didn't want to hurt Martin.

"Just…just give me some time Fitz. Please," he said softly, eyes dark and pleading.

Martin stared at him for a few moments, leaving Danny to wonder if he was going to refuse. But then he kissed him, long and deep, as if he were trying to put every feeling and every hope he had into it. "I'm not going anywhere," he whispered against Danny's lips.

Shivering, Danny could only nod, his heart clenching painfully in his chest, once again asking the question he just couldn't seem to find an answer for.

TBC...