A/N: Thanks to all who have read & reviewed!

4

Things weren't perfect right away. But neither of them had really been looking for perfect, and they quickly found something infinitely better. It was inevitable that things were very rocky at times and soft, whispered words seemed to convey that love just as much as a heated argument.

Danny let Martin in, more so than before, opening himself up in ways he never had, sharing his fears, his joys, his sadness…all of it. Martin took his time in letting himself trust Danny fully again, gradually giving him more and more. But they took things slowly, both of them realizing that the previous attempt may have been too rushed, though it probably couldn't have been avoided.

And Danny was happy. He was gratefully, blissfully and wonderfully happy. Even when they fought, even when he felt that fear creeping up again, he was still happy. Because he trusted Martin, he loved Martin in a way he'd never loved anyone before, and that meant everything to him.

"Stop fidgeting," Danny said briskly as they walked up the stairs. He reached out, gloved hand pressing the button for Gabrielle's apartment. "God it's cold!" he hissed, leaning closer to Martin, smiling when he felt the other man press in against him.

"Yes?"

"Gabby, it's us," he said, smiling and gesturing Martin inside when the door buzzed open.

Danny took a moment to unwrap his scarf from around his neck and to push his gloves into the pockets of his coat. When he was done he looked up and found Martin standing very still, hands shoved into his pockets, eyes looking around nervously. "What's wrong?" Danny asked softly, stepping closer. Gently, he took off Martin's scarf and then his gloves, fingers brushing skin, wanting to soothe.

"Well, the last time I saw her she was kissing you," he said surly, looking downwards, blushing slightly.

Danny smiled, leaning in and kissing him gently on the lips. "Why should that make you nervous?" he asked. "If anything, Gabby should be the one…fretting." He smirked when Martin looked up and narrowed his eyes.

"I'm not fretting," he said huffily.

Danny raised an eyebrow, not looking convinced. "Really? 'Cause I kind of expect you to start ringing your hands at any moment," he teased.

Martin hit him playfully on the shoulder, fighting a grin that threatened to ruin his sullen expression. "Shut up Danny," he said, walking past him and starting up the stairs to Gabrielle's apartment on the second floor.

Danny caught his arm after about the fifth step and turned him around, a devilish grin on his lips. Martin stumbled, surprised, one hand grabbing onto the railing, the other onto Danny. And Danny steadied him, stepping up so they were on the same level, smirking as he leaned in for a kiss…deep, hot and probably a little too intimate for the stairwell of an apartment building. He left Martin bewildered and gasping for air when he released him, grinned and then continued up the stairs.

"Tease," Martin hissed, following after him, steps a little bit heavier than necessary.

Danny couldn't help but grin further, loving the way Martin pouted – sullenly and like a five-year-old. He glanced over his shoulder at him and smiled. "Love you," he called out, still teasing.

"Yeah, yeah…lucky me," Martin muttered, but Danny could plainly hear the happiness in his voice.

Danny knocked twice, hand coming out to squeeze Martin's briefly when he saw him fidgeting again. He smiled when Gabrielle opened the door, watching her eyes grow nervous as she looked at Martin. They'd only spoken a few times on the phone since the night Martin had seen her and Danny kiss. He and Martin had been busy with a few cases that had left them with time for little else, and whatever time they did have had been devoted to working out their newfound relationship. But every time Danny had spoken with her on the phone she'd apologized and worried over that kiss…no matter how many times Danny told her there was nothing to worry about or apologize for. In fact, he couldn't be more grateful to her for what she'd helped him figure out about his feelings for Martin.

She invited them in, took their coats and offered them something to drink, telling them that dinner would be ready soon. Danny sat next to Martin on the couch and Gabrielle sat in a chair facing them. Her daughter could be heard playing in her bedroom down the hall, singing a soft, meaningless tune to herself.

After a few very awkward minutes of silence, Danny laughed and shook his head. "Can we please get past this…and the quicker the better because you two are driving me crazy," he said, smiling. Gabby glared at him for a few seconds before turning to Martin and smiling apologetically.

"I'm sorry."

Again Danny laughed when they both spoke the same words at the same time, earning himself identical glares from Gabby and Martin.

"Was he this annoying when you knew him in college?" Martin said dryly, the corners of his mouth turning up into a reluctant smile.

Gabby grinned outright and nodded. "More so, I think," she replied. They both laughed and Danny tried to look hurt. "But Martin, truthfully, I'm sorry about what happened. It didn't mean anything and I'm sorry if you got hurt," she said, dark eyes earnest.

Martin shook his head. "It's okay Gabrielle," he said softly. "And besides, I have to thank you for…well for whatever it was you said to him," he said, blushing when he glanced at Danny.

"Call me Gabby. And you're welcome…" she responded, smiling.

They talked for a while longer, Danny interrupting only occasionally, content to just sit back and watch the two of them become better acquainted. Dinner was easy and casual, and again Danny watched, loving any chance he got to observe Martin when he let his defenses down and truly relaxed. And after they ate, he helped Gabby clean up while Martin watched Theresa. The child had taken quite a liking to Martin and had insisted upon his company after dinner, pulling him away by his hand to the living room, wanting to show him her new computer game.

"He made a mistake mentioning whatever it was he said about computers, because Theresa, even though she's only seven, loves them," Gabby said, an obvious pride in her voice.

Danny laughed as he rinsed off a plate and handed it to her to dry. "Trust me, she couldn't have found a better person to express her interest to."

"He's good with her," Gabby remarked softly after a few minutes.

Danny took a moment to stop washing dishes and glance out from the kitchen to where Martin and Theresa were. He smiled, something warm stirring in his chest, as he observed them. Turning back to Gabby he felt himself blush. "Be sure to let him know that," he murmured, turning on the water at the sink again. "He doesn't seem to have any sort of confidence when it comes to children." She smiled as their eyes met, an avid curiosity in her eyes but she didn't say anything.

They left a few hours later, promising to get together again soon…and often. Danny's heart was light as they walked a few blocks to the subway station. And he was sure he almost felt giddy when Martin held his hand for half the walk. By the time they got back to Martin's apartment, Danny could barely wait until they were inside before he pulled the other man into his arms and kissed him warmly, happily. He felt Martin laugh against his lips and pull him closer in response.

It was a struggle to remove coats and gloves and scarves, then shoes, shirts…both of them laughing by the time they made it into the bedroom, most of their clothes finally off. "We need to move someplace warmer…less clothes to take off," Danny mumbled as he trailed his lips along the side of Martin's neck.

Martin laughed again, a sound Danny couldn't see himself ever getting enough of, and slid his hands slowly down Danny's back. "Hmm…yeah," he replied absently.

Danny pulled back briefly and smiled warmly into the other man's eyes. He felt Martin's answering smile run through him, making his heart clench wonderfully in his chest, a powerful feeling of rightness making him lean forward for another kiss.

Outside the city seemed to give up its cruelness for a little while, letting some of it flow away and disappear into the darkness. And when they woke up a soft blanket of snow covered it all. A brief disguise, yes, and one that would melt away quick enough, but something simple and pure nonetheless.

Fin