The evening could have ended very differently. Something that, while true, Danny did not want to think about. The problem was he couldn't stop thinking about it. From the moment they'd stepped into that house, had seen Chris Manning sitting in that chair with a gun in his hand, Danny's insides had been cold, dreading what might happen. Because it had been…a while. Had been a while since he and Martin had been in this sort of situation together. Maybe that was on purpose. Maybe Jack had avoided sending them somewhere together into a situation that he knew could turn bad, because somehow he knew there was so much unresolved between the two of them. Then again…perhaps that was why he had sent the two of them to find the judge together tonight. So that they might work things out.
Of course, neither he nor Martin was big on talking things out…thus the current state of their relationship.
But amongst the fear and the endless thoughts of what-if, something had shifted inside Danny and he knew his night was far from over. The first stop would be relatively easy. Maybe not outwardly, but it was something long overdue, something that he needed to do desperately, because the longer it went on the more it was breaking him.
Elena. A relationship that never should have started, but definitely shouldn't have gone this far. She had been the easy choice, and for a while he had even tried to fool himself that she was what he wanted, but the longer it had lasted the more it had become a burden. Especially now, with the prospect of seriousness and a life together. And if he chose that path it would be like giving up. Giving up the one thing, the one person, he had wanted so desperately for so long.
Of course, by the time he left her apartment he was fighting the urge to turn around, to go back and wipe away the tears that his leaving her had inspired. Not so much because he wanted to take away her pain but because it would be so damned easy.
But he didn't go back. If he went back now…well, he was very much aware that this was probably his last chance, and he couldn't let it slip through his fingers. Not this time.
He and Martin had returned to the office late. No one else was there – save Jack – and their missing person found, they were both free to go home. Except they'd barely said a word to one another since they had left the scene and now the air was thick with uncertainty and a strange, broken sort of hope.
Only them. Hope because of what hadn't happened this time. And they should have been relieved, should have been damn near giddy with how things had worked out, because they knew what it was to not be so lucky. Instead they'd been quiet, subdued and unsure of what to say to each other. Because one misstep, one wrong word and then they were back to awkward silences and painful avoidances.
And while what they had now was significantly better than that, it still wasn't the same as what it had been before. And it certainly wasn't what they could have…were either of them willing to take that chance.
But Danny had looked up at one moment, had caught Martin's eye as he was slipping into his jacket and pulling his backpack over his shoulder, and it had been hard to breathe. They hadn't said anything, and had Jack not come out of his office and said goodnight, Danny had to wonder if they would still be there, frozen to their respective spots on the floor staring at each other. Because there had been so much hope, such a deeply-seeded need in Martin's eyes that Danny had found it nearly impossible to look away, knew that his own eyes must be reflecting the same sort of emotions, and had he been braver he would've crossed the room and pulled Martin into his arms right then.
Instead, they'd said goodnight, right back to where they'd been so many times before. Except now, Danny had made the decision to change it, because he couldn't live in this limbo anymore.
"It's me." Quiet, exhausted, and the only response was the buzzing of the door as Martin granted him entrance to the apartment building.
He walked the two flights of stairs, pausing only once in the hallway to push away the memory of endless other chances and focus on tonight. He knocked softly and Martin opened the door before his hand had even left the wood. There was a shaky, nervous energy rolling off of him in waves, and a loneliness emanating from him, something that had always been visible, but never quite so potent. And he already knew. Danny could read it in those blue eyes, felt it in the gentle touch of fingers on his wrist, pulling him inside.
"Danny." Whispered, broken yet so strong.
Only moments before he was completely undone. Five years. They'd been through so much and now – finally – Danny brought them together, pulled Martin into his arms and held him as tightly as he could manage. "I'm sorry," he whimpered, weak now as Martin's arms came around him. He squeezed his eyes shut and buried his face against the other man's throat, breathing him in, desperate to stay this close, to touch and feel and know. So many missed chances and wasted moments, and they could've been this way for years now.
"Shh…don't," Martin whispered, hands slipping beneath Danny's jacket and gently pushing it off of his shoulders until it fell to the floor below. He pulled him along, only half-breaking their embrace as they stumbled down the hallway to Martin's bedroom. Danny swallowed hard, throat tight, eyes burning with the need to cry as Martin encouraged him out of his shoes and back into his arms.
They fell into bed together, side-by-side, tangled, close. Danny's hands shook as they framed Martin's face, looking into his eyes as if he'd never seen him before. "I was waiting for you," Martin whispered and they both knew that he didn't just mean tonight.
"I know Fitz. I know you were and I'm so sorry," Danny replied brokenly. "I haven't dealt with…with any of this well. I just didn't know how to…" he trailed off and shut his eyes, frustrated with himself. A small, helpless cry escaped his lips as he felt Martin's gentle kiss against his forehead, Martin's fingers, trembling yet determined as they ran over his neck, his cheek and gently through his hair. "I was so fucking scared…through all of it," Danny whispered fiercely. Long overdue, these words and the only comfort he had was that Martin seemed to know what he meant. He knew that he wasn't talking about this evening's events, not really. That there was so much more to it…things Danny knew that neither of them had ever gotten over. "And I just…I pushed you away and I made things worse, didn't I?" he asked, not expecting a reply.
"Shh, Danny don't do this," Martin murmured as he pulled him closer, held him firmly in his arms. He kissed Danny's temple, his cheek, hands encouraging him closer, wanting to soothe, to calm Danny's restless sobs and his trembling heartache.
"I didn't mean to hurt you like I did," he pleaded, opening his eyes and looking desperately at Martin. "I didn't mean to abandon you. I didn't…but I just couldn't…couldn't deal with how close I came to…to losing you Martin…twice. And I never even had you…" his last words murmured, hurt. Bullets and pills had nearly stolen Martin away from him, and both times Danny had added himself to the list. He'd kept his distance and only now, only tonight as it had all rushed through his consciousness with frightening clarity did he realize how much worse he had made it all.
"But you do now," Martin murmured, hint of apprehension in his blue eyes as his fingers trailed over Danny's cheek.
He frowned in response and covered Martin's hand with his own where it lay against his face. "Do what?" he asked.
Martin blushed sweetly, bit his lip as he looked down for a moment and Danny felt him pulling back just slightly. "Have me," Martin answered. "If…if that's what you want…" Uncertain now where he'd been confident before.
And Danny felt his feelings rush over him powerfully again; found it difficult to catch his breath as he smiled unwittingly. He shifted closer and wrapped his arms around the other man tightly, leaned in to press his lips to Martin's cheek, his jaw, his chin, pausing when their mouths were inches apart to look into his eyes. "So I haven't screwed things up this time?" he murmured, trying to grin although he could still hear the fear plainly coloring his voice.
Martin blushed further and pressed their lips together gently. "No, you haven't," he mumbled, the words a warm, shaky breath against Danny's mouth.
There was no possible way for Danny to put into words what it felt like to kiss Martin, now, finally. His mouth was hot, sweet, responsive and the further it went on, the deeper they made it, the better it became. His heart ached wonderfully and it was positively dizzying to have Martin in his arms. To have that warm body pressed against his, to kiss him, to be absolutely enveloped in Martin and to never want to leave.
Martin whimpered softly as their kiss broke and Danny traced his finger down the side of his face, watching carefully the way his blue eyes slowly went from cloudy to focused. The look he gave Danny now was one of trust, hope, and an honesty that they'd both kept hidden for so long. It took Danny's breath away, had him pressing closer for another kiss, murmuring Martin's name against his lips.
And while he knew there were obstacles to overcome and wrongs that still needed righted, he believed now, trusted so desperately in what they'd finally began that he knew it would work. It had to, because nothing else had ever felt so right.