The grass was wet with dew, the air foggy. Those were the first things Danny noticed, almost absently, as he looked out the window. The second, and more important, was Martin's presence on the deck. He looked small in the wooden deck chair. Still. Quiet.

Frowning, Danny glanced at the clock and slipped into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. It was around ten, late for them to wake up normally…except on those rare Saturdays that they both had off and were afforded the luxury of sleeping in. But the further Danny moved from sleep, the more his concern grew. It was vague, but the more he thought about it, he was sure he remembered the phone ringing earlier this morning. At the time he had ignored it, convincing himself it was part of a dream and if it wasn't he hadn't wanted to answer it anyway. They had just come off of a weeklong case, and it had been draining. Even more so than usual.

But maybe the ringing phone had been real, and maybe Martin had answered it. Answering the phone, no matter how tired he was, was the responsible thing to do after all, and Martin Fitzgerald didn't shy away from responsibility. Why then – assuming of course, a phone call really had come – was Martin now sitting alone outside in the early morning fog?

As Danny padded downstairs, he thought further, and tried to calm his slowly growing worry. It wasn't unusual for Martin to wake up early – even when they could sleep in. But when he did that he would use the extra hours constructively – a typical Martin trait – and read the newspaper or make breakfast or run on the treadmill. The fact that he was sitting still and alone outside on a rather chilly morning wasn't normal behavior for him. Brooding, of course, was normal behavior; but he normally did it while engaging in some other, more purposeful activity. Never still and alone…the way Danny did.

As he stepped outside onto the deck, Danny shivered and instinctively wrapped his arms around himself. He immediately regretted not putting on a sweatshirt, but wished more that he had put on a pair of shoes. His feet grew cold quickly as he walked slowly across the cold, wet deck to where Martin sat.

Martin didn't look up, didn't do anything to acknowledge that he had even registered Danny's presence. He appeared very much as if he were somewhere else entirely, his forehead creased in thought, his eyes vacant, his lips pursed in an uncertain line. A few moments passed and Danny simply waited, not knowing exactly how to approach Martin this way. It was a feeling he was unfamiliar with and he didn't like it at all.

Finally, Martin looked up and Danny saw, only for a very quick second, a painful sort of sadness in his blue eyes. He knelt down carefully in front of him and rest his hand on Martin's knee. "What's the matter?" he spoke softly, still afraid of startling the other man.

Martin shook his head and looked away. When Danny moved closer and reached up to touch Martin's face, he went rigid and quickly jerked away from his touch. Danny didn't press his luck by trying anything more, but he stayed where he was, kneeling uncomfortably on the cold, unforgiving wood, watching his lover and waiting. Something was wrong, and Martin was doing his very best to hide from it. This hadn't happened in a while, and it had Danny worried. While Martin always had the tendency to hide himself and his pain from others, he'd learned to trust Danny to help him through it. This time though, he seemed to be trying his very best to keep it all at bay.

Eventually, Danny's patience paid off, although Martin seemed to give in more out of annoyance than actual need. His eyes were stormy when they met Danny's again, filled with anger and a pain that he was trying so desperately to keep at bay.

"The phone rang earlier," he said in a low voice. It was clipped and teetering on the verge of a sneer, but a practiced control kept it under wraps. "It was my mother."

Danny said nothing, still waiting. He should have guessed that this would have had something to do with Martin's family. No one else – besides Danny – had the ability to inflict pain that he fought to ignore and pretend so hard that it didn't matter.

"My father had a heart attack. He's dead."

The words were so hollow and full of anger that Danny had to steady himself with a few deep breaths before reacting. But at least he understood now. Saying Martin had issues with his father was an understatement, and despite a truce of sorts that they'd formed over the past few years, Danny knew just how unresolved everything between the two of them was. But this…Danny knew this had to be killing Martin inside, despite the war of reason his mind was probably raging on his sometimes overly-sensitive heart.

Tentatively, Danny reached out and grasped Martin's hand, not at all surprised when the other man wrenched it away. He didn't give up so easily though, never breaking eye contact though Martin was doing his best to glare at him.

"Martin."

His eyes were positively icy now and he shook his head curtly, drawing himself inward and turning away from Danny completely, eyes fixed carefully on what Danny was sure was a very specific point in the yard.

"Just leave me alone Danny," he snapped, voice cold.

Had Danny not known him as well as he did, he might have been hurt, but Danny had long since learned and accepted Martin's nuances and emotions. There was the barely visible tremble of his hand as he ran it absently over the arm of the chair and the very faint hint of pleading in his bitter voice that Danny caught without a second glance. It wasn't so much anger that made him lash out at Danny as it was the need to protect himself.

"I'll be inside," Danny murmured in response. He knew he was pressing his luck, but he couldn't resist reaching up to brush his knuckles lightly over Martin's cheek. As expected, Martin jerked away from his touch, not saying anything but making it quite clear that he didn't want Danny's touch, presence or anything else from him. Sighing, Danny stood up, and walked away, squeezing Martin's shoulder briefly as he left.


It was an hour or so later when Danny heard the back door open. After leaving Martin on the deck, he'd gone back upstairs for a warm shower before making himself breakfast and settling on the couch to watch a baseball game. He already knew that the Mets lost – he had recorded the game a few nights before – but he wanted the distraction.

He was worried about Martin yes, but he knew exactly what he was doing. Closing himself off from a pain that he didn't know how to deal with. Danny knew the feeling well, had done it himself several times. Despite his worry though, he knew he just had to be patient. Sometimes it took Martin a while to remember that he had Danny to share these sorts of things with now. That he didn't have to put on such a brave, unfeeling front all the time, that he could break down and Danny would be there to help put him back together.

"You know they lose this game," Martin said softly, sounding drained.

Danny nodded and glanced upwards, smiling gently at the other man. He shrugged. "Yeah, I know, but I figured I'd watch just to see what went wrong. There's nothing else on anyway."

"There never is."

"Even with two-hundred plus channels."

His gentle banter brought a faint smile to Martin's face, but it faded quickly as he turned his attention back to the game. Danny continued waiting, the game forgotten – not that he had been watching that carefully to begin with – as he watched Martin instead. Eventually, the other man came across the room and sat next to Danny on the couch, his knees bumping against Danny's thigh as he curled one leg beneath him and tried to get comfortable. By now, Danny had turned his gaze back to the TV, knowing full well that if he continued to watch Martin, the other man would freeze up and say nothing.

Danny wasn't at all surprised when, a few minutes later, Martin had curled against him, his emotions finally escaping in a broken sob against Danny's neck. It broke his heart nonetheless. Carefully, he wrapped his arms around the other man, pulling him close and running his fingers through his hair. He murmured soothing words against the top of his head as he rubbed gentle circles over his back.

Eventually, Martin's tears subsided, but he clung steadily to Danny. And they sat that way for a long time, closely wrapped up in each other, Martin finally accepting what it always took him so long to admit he needed. Comfort, love, and the knowledge that Danny would be there.

Fin