Martin woke to a kiss on the forehead. Blinking as his eyes fought to adjust to the dim light on the nightstand, he grumbled incoherently and burrowed down further into the bed.
"Shh…go back to sleep," Danny whispered, his breath warm against Martin's skin as his lips brushed his temple. "I got a call from Jack…I have to go in."
Martin whimpered in protest, his arms still sluggish with sleep as he reached out to keep Danny close. Opening his eyes more fully, he looked up at Danny and shook his head, fully aware that he was pouting.
Danny sat down on the edge of the bed and smiled, running his fingers over Martin's cheek and neck. "Don't pout," he murmured, leaning down to kiss him, lingering over his lips softly. "I'll try to be home as soon as I can, okay?"
Martin sighed and nodded as Danny stood up. "Okay…be careful." He looked up and met Danny's eyes again, watching something indescribable flicker there for just a moment. He leaned down once more and pressed a quick kiss to Martin's lips, murmured goodbye and left.
Even though he was still plenty tired – had been ever since he'd come home from the hospital – he couldn't go back to sleep now that Danny had left. He lay in bed for a while though, just staring off into nothing and thinking. As much as he wished Danny were still here in bed with him, he was thankful for the time alone.
Last night, he'd been prepared to let go, to forget and to give Danny whatever it was that he wanted. But, in spite of Martin doing his best to push them both, what Danny had wanted was to talk. He knew that with certainty despite the fact that he'd never actually said it. On one hand Martin saw the wisdom in waiting, because they had a lot of baggage that needed sorting before they could hope to grasp onto something real and healthy. Something that would last. But on the other…he just wanted to ignore it all. They'd been doing that pretty well so far, ever since Martin had asked Danny to stay with him when he left the hospital. Talking meant asking questions he wasn't sure he still wanted answers to. And it would be painful.
However, he knew, regardless of the blissful ignorance he might still wish for, that he couldn't run anymore. At first he'd pushed Danny away out of hurt and anger…and they'd gone months without talking. That hadn't been good for Martin. Despite the obvious, it had also left him depressed and hurting. Now that they'd formed an unspoken truce, it was peaceful, it was working…but he also knew it was empty. Deep down, Martin still wanted to know why. Why Danny had abandoned him after he'd gotten shot. He was afraid of the answers, afraid of what he might hear, but he had to know. Even now, there was a sliver of uncertainty in his heart…a thought he kept buried deep because he didn't want to believe it. Danny had left him alone and broken after the shooting. Was he only here now out of guilt? Trying to make up for past mistakes? He'd effectively hidden those feelings deep in his mind, but now that the prospect of talking was so immediate they crept back to the forefront with a vengeance.
"No," he whispered, shaking his head as he stood up and made the bed. He refused to believe that, especially after last night. There had been no pity in Danny's touch. Whatever it was they were trying to cultivate, Danny wanted it too, that Martin truly believed.
Stepping into the shower, he let the warm water wash over him for a long time, drifting in his thoughts, trying not to over think everything. He spent the rest of the day in motion, cleaning, organizing his bookshelf, his DVD's and CD's, putting older, unused clothes into bags to take to Goodwill. Anything to keep busy. All the while, he kept thinking of what they needed to talk about. And as the hours crept on, the more nervous he became because he knew they had to do it tonight. They could put it off, but Martin was certain this was the best opportunity.
He couldn't remember a day that had moved more slowly, and through all of his cleaning and organizing he checked the clock continuously, swearing at one point that it was going backwards instead of forward. But with the slowly moving hours also came worry. It was past seven, past eight, nearing nine-thirty when his phone finally rang.
He answered it eagerly, his voice sounding a little too high-strung for his liking. "Danny?"
"Yeah, it's me…sorry it's so late, we just…I'm on my way. I'll be there in about ten minutes." He paused and Martin could hear a resigned sort of weariness in his voice. "Are you okay? You sound…nervous," he commented softly.
Martin blushed and shut his eyes. "Fine, I was just…worried," he trailed off on the last word, embarrassed.
"I'll be home soon," Danny repeated, his voice ringing with relief.
Frowning, Martin said goodbye as they both hung up. The relief threw him for a minute and he sat still for a few minutes, thinking. When he realized the cause of the emotions he stood up quickly, knocking the book he'd been unable to concentrate on to the floor. Staring straight ahead he wrapped his arms around himself and didn't move, too shocked to do anything but stand there.
Ten minutes later that was how Danny found him. "Martin?" His voice was worried, frantic, and his fingers shook as they pulled Martin's arms away from his chest, hands coming up to cup his face. "What's the matter?" he asked, voice nearly trembling with worry.
But Martin only shook his head, a wide smile forming on his lips and he couldn't help laughing as he threw his arms around Danny's neck and held him tightly. "All day Danny," he whispered, unable to stop grinning.
Danny pulled back from his embrace quickly, his eyes still full of concern and confusion. "Martin…what are you talking about? All day what?"
Martin kept smiling, his arms still tight around Danny's back, keeping them close. "All day long…I was here by myself all day…and I didn't think about pain pills once. Not one time," he said proudly. "Not until I was on the phone with you and you sounded relieved…and I realized you must've thought I was I don't know using…that I'd unearthed some stash or something because I sounded nervous," he explained breathlessly. "But I was nervous because you weren't home yet and…well, then I realized Danny, that I hadn't spent the day sitting here thinking about where I could get more pills or how much better I'd feel if I had just one. All day," he repeated, still not quite able to believe it.
Danny's eyes had changed from worry to relief to pride mixed with something deeper that made Martin want more. So much more. Danny ran his hands down Martin's arms and linked their fingers together, smiling as their eyes held. He didn't say anything, but Martin already knew what the words might have been; he could read it in Danny's expression.
Reluctantly Martin let him go for a few minutes so he could shower and change clothes. He sat on the couch, waiting, still caught in his bubble of pride and happiness for what he'd done. Of course at the same time, he was also nervously anticipating what he knew Danny wanted to talk about, but he felt much more confident and ready for it than he had been just this morning.
Danny's eyes were tired when he came into the living room though, and he sat down next to Martin with a weary sigh, turning towards him with a look of helplessness that Martin wasn't expecting. All too quickly though, he understood. "Bad case," he stated rather than asked because he already knew the answer.
Danny only nodded and Martin reached for him without another word, pulling him close and holding him as tightly as he could manage. Danny's body trembled just a little as he burrowed into Martin's embrace, pressing his face against his neck, hands gripping tightly to his sides. "Do you want to tell me?" Martin asked, not surprised when he felt Danny shake his head. He wasn't offended, wasn't worried that Danny was closing himself off; he knew all too well what this felt like. Knew that no matter the details of the case, the feeling of failure was still the same. So he went on holding him, running his hands up and down his back, through his hair, keeping him close. They stayed together like that on the couch for a long time, shifting occasionally when a muscle would fall asleep. Didn't matter who was holding whom just as long as they stayed close.
"Why didn't you come see me after I got shot?" Martin asked softly against Danny's neck. He hadn't meant to say the words, not now…they'd come out before he'd even realized what he was saying. Nervous now, he stiffened against Danny's still-gentle embrace, pulling back slightly and swallowing hard as he looked into his dark eyes.
In spite of his calm appearance, Martin could feel the nervous-energy rolling off of Danny in waves. He reached out gently and pressed his palm to Danny's cheek, shaking his head apologetically. "We don't have to do this now," he whispered.
"Stop," Danny said quickly, his hand coming up to cover Martin's own. He pulled it away from his face and squeezed his fingers tightly. "There's never going to be a perfect time…and we have to do this. I want to do this, because I can't stand all these secrets between us anymore."
Martin nodded silently, looking down at their hands, still clasped tightly together. He didn't know how to ask everything that he was desperate to know. "Why didn't you come and see me?" he repeated, sticking with the same question, as it was the root of the problem.
Danny exhaled shakily, his thumb moving slowly over Martin's palm. "Look at me please Fitz," he murmured. Martin squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and took a deep breath before he looked up and met Danny's gaze, waiting desperately for his next words. "I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I was selfish. And I don't have a better explanation than that. I was selfish and concerned only with how I felt," he went on, his voice full of a bitter regret.
"How did you feel?" Martin asked hoarsely. His breathing was shallow, his heart beating loudly in his chest. Danny's expression, Danny's entire body was so remorseful and sad and…angry, that it made Martin reach for him. He found he wasn't at all surprised when Danny struggled against his embrace, but Martin held fast, waiting, settling them into a tangled hold of limbs and sorrow.
"Guilty," Danny finally answered softly, looking up to meet Martin's eyes again, though they flitted away quickly, nervously. "Angry…terrified…Martin, I didn't know what to do," he cried, sounding so close to breaking. He paused for a few minutes, breathing deeply and refusing to meet Martin's saddened stare.
When he finally looked up again, Martin bit his lower lip, felt his heart ache for all the hurt he saw in Danny's brown eyes. He moved closer and kissed him softly, murmuring his name and the promise that whatever it was, it would be okay, something he knew he probably couldn't keep but wanted to desperately for Danny's sake.
"It wasn't your fault," Martin whispered against his lips. "They told me that you saved me…that you stayed with me and kept me from bleeding out. I…remember Danny," he finished very softly.
"What do you remember?" Danny asked, a sharp almost hysterical edge to his trembling voice. His fingers squeezed Martin's upper arms firmly, his own body strung tightly, ready to snap at any moment.
Martin shook his head anxiously. He'd never told anyone these thoughts, had never even let himself relive them very much, lest he be drawn too far in and not be able to find his way out. They were nightmarish after all. "You…your hands on me…pressing against me…rain in your hair. Your voice," he spoke softly, voice shaking as he stuttered over the words. He looked up again and suddenly found himself smiling. "I don't…don't remember very much very clearly, but I know you said that…if I died you'd fucking kill me." He raised an eyebrow curiously and bit his lower lip as he fought off a smile. It was easier – for the first time in so long – to smile than it was to cry.
But Danny was still wide-eyed and upset, only a glint of amusement passing through his eyes before it was gone. "You smiled," he whispered.
"When I said that you…you smiled at me and then…you stopped breathing," he answered in a soft, strangely calm voice. And it broke Martin's heart.
He could feel Danny trembling, could see how close he was to breaking, and suddenly he found himself understanding. He pictured himself, for just a moment, in Danny's position. He'd done this before of course, but always with cynicism and self-righteousness clouding his thoughts. He'd convinced himself that had things gone the other way, he would've been a constant presence at Danny's bedside. That he wouldn't have left; that he would've been there for him, for whatever he needed, always. But now, he finally saw the other side. He couldn't imagine having to watch Danny nearly die. Of having his life slip away beneath his fingers. He couldn't say what it would've done to him. Honestly, despite what he might like to think he would've done had their positions been reversed, he really had no idea. He realized that now for the first time and any lingering animosity he'd held towards Danny simply vanished.
"It hurt so much Fitz," Danny went on, his voice shaking softly, his eyes bright with tears. "Even after I knew you were going to be okay. I couldn't stop feeling guilty. Couldn't stop being scared. And I stayed away because I couldn't deal with it. Any of it. Coming so close to losing you…I just couldn't do it. And I'm sorry Martin," he whispered, tears spilling over his lashes now and onto his cheeks. "Because when you came back to work, when you looked at me…I knew what a damn fool I'd been. I'd only cared about myself. About the fact that I couldn't face seeing you because I felt guilty and scared and so fucking shaken up. But you were the one who'd been shot and nearly died…and I didn't see that, didn't figure that out until it was too late…" he explained softly, a pleading tone to his voice.
"And I couldn't find a way to explain it to you then. That night I came to your apartment…I think I was hoping to just apologize and we'd move on. I didn't mean to hurt you even more…I just couldn't leave. I knew it was a mistake to kiss you, to make you think it was nothing more than pity when it was so much more…"
"Danny," Martin repeated, his voice louder this time, snapping Danny out of his broken, stumbling apology. He leaned forward and cupped Danny's face between his hands, his thumbs moving slowly over his cheeks. "I understand now. I do," he said solemnly, nodding his head when Danny shook his, knowing the other man wouldn't believe him that easily.
Predictably, Danny shook his head, but Martin pulled him closer, pressing his thumb to Danny's lips to stop his argument. Unable to find the words that would convince the other man of his sincerity, he kissed him instead, fingers moving gently against his cheeks. Danny trembled, whimpering under Martin's touch, his eyes falling shut, pressing tears past his eyelashes and onto his cheeks, something Martin brushed away with his fingertips. Explanations, regrets, apologies…none of them made as much sense as this did. Martin sighed as Danny opened his mouth, their tongues touching, tangling as they relaxed into an easy, loving embrace, a kiss that made all the difference.
"I love you," Danny said softly. Their kiss had barely broken, his lips brushing Martin's as he spoke, his brown eyes fluttering open to meet blue ones.
Martin swallowed hard, still tasting Danny on his lips, his tongue, not moving away from him an inch as he looked into his eyes, absorbing his words. His heart fluttered and he couldn't catch his breath, but it was the first time in so many months that everything suddenly seemed right. He didn't say it back, not quite yet, and not because he didn't feel the same. He did. But the words simply wouldn't come, his throat too tight with emotion. Overwhelmed, he kissed Danny again for just a moment, breaking away when he couldn't stop himself from laughing – nearly giggling – happily. Danny touched his cheek, eyes softening as Martin simply nodded and blushed before leaning forward to bury his face against the other man's neck.
And then softly, he found his voice and pressed himself closer, losing the thought of anything else except for Danny's arms around him. "Me too."