I was prompted by a friend when I was bored at work with this: "Martin is just about to walk into the break room when he hears 'I don't know how to tell him' or something along those lines." The result is this fluffy little ficlet.
For those reading, I'll be returning to your regularily scheduled angst (Evaporated) tomorrow!
It was just after nine in the morning, but his earlier coffee buzz had just about worn off, and he was in dire need of another pick-me-up. The rest of the team normally just got another coffee, either from the Starbucks downstairs or from the never-empty pot in the break room. But they weren't entirely certain as to where that coffee came from or who made it. It was always just there. And it was always awful. Occasionally, Vivian would pull out the small pot she kept stashed under her desk and make them something more refined, but that was a rare occasion.
It didn't much matter to Martin seeing that he liked something colder to drink after his early morning coffee. Something colder, but still chock full of caffeine. Something ridiculously sweet like Mountain Dew.
He smiled at a random colleague whose name he couldn't remember as he walked down the hall towards the break room. Just before he rounded the corner though, he paused, hearing Vivian speaking softly. She was using, what Martin liked to refer to as her strictest mom voice, and he wondered who the unlucky recipient was. He was about to walk in and find out for himself as he wasn't all that comfortable with eavesdropping, when he heard Danny's voice.
"I just don't know how to tell him Viv," he snapped, sounding exasperated. By the simple tone of his voice, Martin could picture his eyes flashing with frustration, his body tense, his hands gesturing emphatically.
"Well, I'd try to think of something before the day is over," she replied, still sounding as if she were scolding him.
Martin tried to appear as if he were casually walking away from the room as he heard Vivian leave, her heels clicking – almost angrily – on the floor. But when he heard that clicking stop, he turned around, blushing when he met her eyes. She shook her head and gave him a curiously amused smile before turning away once more.
Curious now, Martin peeked around the corner into the room and found Danny furiously jabbing at the button labeled Pepsi on the soda machine. Not wanting to be accused of spying, Martin cleared his throat as he walked into the room, headed towards the same vending machine that Danny now stood in front of drinking down his cola as if he'd been thirsty for years.
"Thirsty?" Martin asked lightly, a warm smile on his face.
Danny turned around and peered at him over the plastic Pepsi bottle. "Obviously," he replied dryly, narrowing his eyes as he looked at Martin. "What?"
Martin held up his hands in surrender and shook his head. "I just came to get a Mountain Dew," he said innocently. As he walked over to the vending machine, Danny glared at him before finishing his Pepsi and tossing the empty bottle into the trash with a lot more force than was necessary. He muttered something in Spanish under his breath and scowled at Martin again before leaving the room.
Martin turned to watch him go wondering what on earth it was that Vivian had said that had gotten Danny so worked up. More importantly, he wondered who and what Danny had been referring to when he said "I just don't know what to tell him."
When he got back to his desk, he made sure to stay clear of the other man, immediately sensing that his agitated state had not passed. He pretended to be immensely involved in something on his computer screen instead as he pulled his chair closer to his desk and sipped happily on his Mountain Dew. But he could see Danny out of the corner of his eye and, knowing the other man as well as he did, he could easily pick up on his frustration. It was plainly visible in the frown on his face, the way he kept tapping his fingers on his desk and chewing on the cap of his pen.
And it wasn't so much that Danny seemed angry that he seemed nervous or worried. Over what Martin couldn't figure out, but he knew how Danny got when he felt that way. He lashed out with snide comments and narrow-eyed glares. It was something Martin had learned to live with and accept as an unconscious defense mechanism on Danny's part. It didn't bother him; he just knew to be patient and understanding and wait for Danny to figure things out. Once he did, Martin always knew he would talk to him.
By the time they made it home that evening it was close to eight p.m. A case had come in midway through the morning, and although it had been relatively easy for them to solve, Jack had insisted they finish their paperwork that night. Martin had forced his curiosity to be patient and he had not asked Danny anything about their previous encounter in the break room even though he had been paired with him for most of the case.
Now though, the closer they came to their shared brownstone, the more agitated Danny seemed to become. Normally, it was the other way around. If something was bothering him at work, he started to let it go when they made their way home. By the time they were stretched out together on the couch or lying side by side in bed, he would already be talking about whatever it was that had upset him in the first place. This time though, it seemed to be the exact opposite.
"Martin, wait," Danny said, a definite nervous tone to his voice. He reached out and grabbed Martin by the arm as he was reaching for his keys, meeting his eyes for only a second before he looked away.
"What is it? You've been on edge all day and--"
They both turned at the sound of a woman's voice. She stepped closer, a warm smile on her face as she looked back and forth between the two of them. She seemed vaguely familiar but Martin's thoughts were almost immediately drawn elsewhere. In her arms was a small, black puppy. When the dog yawned and seemed to snuggle closer into the woman's embrace, Martin smiled and nearly stepped closer so he could reach out and pet it.
"That's me," Danny said, before Martin could move. He stepped forward, and Martin, though still very mesmerized by the puppy could sense Danny's nerves grow tenfold. "You can call me Danny," he murmured, his voice shaking for just a second.
"Here is Jasper," she said brightly, glancing downwards to indicate the dog in her arms. "He's only a month old so he still takes a lot of naps, but he's a bundle of energy when he's awake! You shouldn't have any problems with him though…well besides some chewed up shoes," she went on, laughing a bit.
It was then that Danny turned to look at Martin, a helpless look of guilt on his face. His eyes were both apologetic and hopeful, and he had the grace to blush and bite his lower lip when Martin's eyes widened in understanding.
"You got us a puppy?" he asked, surprised.
Wordlessly, Danny nodded. "When I took Miss Perry's statement last week she had Jasper with her, and well, she…said he needed a home or he'd have to go to the pound. All of the dogs needed a home, but he was there and I…I said I would adopt him, and Martin I meant to talk to you about it right away but I…"
Martin shook his head and smiled, reaching out to squeeze Danny's hand for a quick second before turning back to Miss Perry and the sleeping dog in her arms. "May I?" he murmured, reaching out to lightly pet the puppy's head. She nodded eagerly and gently lifted the dog into Martin's arms. The dog woke up slightly and yawned, squirming in Martin's arms until he found a comfortable position.
He ran his finger lightly over the puppy's head and then looked up at Danny and grinned. "He's perfect!" he said happily. It suddenly dawned on Martin where he had seen this woman before, especially when a particular line of Danny's ramblings came back to him. He had mentioned taking Miss Perry's statement, and it hit Martin that she had been part of one of their cases the previous week.
A woman had gone missing from her home in Brooklyn. While they had eventually found her, they had also found her illegally run business of selling dogs she collected from "puppy mills" and passing them off as expensive purebreds that she only took top dollar for. Most of the dogs had been turned over to local shelters. Apparently, upon questioning Miss Perry – a new employee of the missing woman who'd had absolutely no idea what her boss was up to – Danny had managed to fall in love with a one month old black lab.
"Well, if you guys need anything, I have a job at a vet's office uptown now, so feel free to bring Jasper for a checkup or just to visit. I'm going to miss him!" She reached out to pet the puppy one more time, smiled at Martin and Danny and turned to walk up the street towards the closest subway stop.
Danny looked up at Martin sheepishly and blushed. The reason for his earlier anxiety was suddenly very clear. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I was going to, but there was always something interrupting me, and I wasn't sure how you'd react, but I couldn't say no to her when she told me he was up for adoption," he rambled, his brown eyes wide with worry.
Martin only smiled and shook his head, leaning closer to press a kiss to Danny's lips. "You're such a softy," he murmured affectionately.
"You're not angry?" he asked nervously.
Martin laughed and shook his head. "Why would I be angry?"
"Well, I don't know…getting a pet together is kind of a big step and I didn't ask you first, and we work all day and he'll have to be home alone sometimes and--"
"Danny," he interrupted. "This is a wonderful surprise. I've always wanted a dog," he admitted. "My aunt and uncle always had dogs when I was growing up, and I was always so jealous of my cousins because I was never allowed to have one. My mom always said they were too messy and my dad didn't really have an opinion either way. And it's true that New York may not be the best environment for them, and our work schedule is less than ideal, but I know we can still take care of him. Hell, we'll those people that hire a dog-sitter if we have to!" he said, grinning.
Carefully, he adjusted the sleeping puppy to one arm and reached out to grasp Danny's hand with the other. Danny looked down and linked their fingers together, reaching out with his other hand to pet Jasper. "I'm glad you like him," he said softly, and looking up at Martin, he smiled.