A/N: this is a sequel to my other ficlet, "Loss"
There was a room in the back of the house that was rarely used. Martin could remember spending many hours there when he was younger, curled up with a book or simply his thoughts, escaping from all of the expectations and sighs of disappointment. It was a sun room of sorts, but much more casual than the large lanai that led onto the back deck. It had always been forgotten by his parents as well as his sister and he had come to think of it as his own. Now, nearly twenty years later, not much had changed.
The funeral had been in the morning. St. John's had been filled with their family to a small extent but more fully by government employees and agents all eager to pay their respect to the Deputy Director of the FBI. A man who, Martin was guessing, most of them had never even met for more than a minute or two in a hallway or conference room. The mass had been routine and simple, predictable almost, and to Martin's ears unsurprisingly insincere. Not that he had been expecting different.
His mother had sat stoically on his right, dabbing away non-existent tears – she would never cry in public. Danny was on his other side, discreetly clutching his hand between them on the pew, glancing Martin's way every so often with what Martin was sure was a look of concern. He'd said little to the other man over the past few days, too drained on too many levels to examine his own feelings let alone share them with Danny.
They'd arrived in DC two days ago even though his mother had protested, saying there was no need and they could show up the day before the funeral to attend the viewings and they didn't have to come any earlier. But Martin had waved away his mother's words and he and Danny had taken the next flight out of La Guardia. They'd arrived at the house, however to find that nothing needed done. The arrangements were already planned and organized with no detail left to chance. It all seemed so…cold and impersonal. Not that his father would have appreciated buckets of tears or wailing dramatics. But still…the plans had all been finalized and it left Martin feeling helpless.
With no tasks to occupy him it left more time for him to think and feel and be sad; and because he wasn't prepared for that yet, he decided to be angry instead. Lashing out at Danny when he'd do something simple, something he, no doubt, intended to be comforting; making him a sandwich, rubbing his neck when they sat on the couch, small things. Martin would shake him off and snap at him angrily. He'd yelled at his sister for showing up a day later than he had. And just this morning before they'd left for the church, he'd gotten into an argument with his mother, accusing her of being cold and uncaring. Telling her that the whole damn thing was so sterile and unfeeling. And she'd been so angry with him in return, laughing bitterly and telling him that it was a surprise he'd even shown up after he'd practically written them out of his life. The arrangements had all been made in advance, she'd told him, because they – her and his father – hadn't been sure they would be able to count on Martin for much and they didn't want to lay it all on his sister.
The words had cut deeply and Martin had no response other than the painful tightening of his chest as he'd watched his mother turn away with tears in her eyes. He hadn't spoken to her since, not that there had been any time for them to be alone. After the funeral and the trip to the cemetery, which had been brief because the rain had turned from a gloomy, clichéd drizzle into something more
ferocious, they'd gone back to the house. They'd only invited family and close friends back to the house for refreshments, but it still left them boasting a house full of people, none of which Martin was up to dealing with. He had made his rounds early, accepting the sorrowful handshakes from his dad's colleagues with a grain of salt because he knew there was a certain kind of curiosity behind their words and their stares. The few other relatives at the house besides his sister and her family again expressed their apologies with murmured words and pitiful glances. He'd escaped as soon as he could, slipping out of the crowded rooms on the first floor to the one he was certain no one would be occupying.
He wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting in the sunroom now, but as no one had come to look for him yet, he was betting it hadn't been long. And that was, of course, assuming anyone had even bothered to notice he was gone. Shaking his head, he forced his bitter thoughts away and stared out into the green backyard, distorted now by the water running over the windows. The drops of water were hypnotizing in a way, and it was a relief to be able to sit in silence and not have to think. He simply sat and watched as the raindrops make their way downward in differing patterns and speed.
He stiffened at the sound of her voice, pulling himself out of his trancelike state and instead settling back into one of indifference. "Did you need something?" Martin asked, not turning to meet his mother's eyes.
He waited patiently for an answer, surprised when after a few minutes none came. He glanced upwards just as she sat down before him on the window seat, blocking his view of the raindrops. Her eyes were sad, but he looked away quickly, trying to fight a sudden tightening in his chest burning hot and painfully.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw her nod and lean forward a little. When her hands encircled one of his he fought to not jerk away from her touch. "I needed to apologize," she said softly. "To take back what I said…before."
It was the last thing he had been expecting, and he looked up in surprise, realizing his mistake too late because once their eyes met he found himself helpless to look away. "Mom, I…"
"I didn't mean it," she interrupted. "I didn't mean to imply that you wouldn't be here or that you would just wave it off and do nothing." Her voice was so sad, nearly trembling and for the first time since he'd arrived in DC he saw just how upset she was. Over everything. "Honey, I know you and your father had your differences, and that you didn't always – if ever – see eye to eye. But I also know that you loved him, that you always wanted, despite your fierce need for independence, to please him and make him proud. And I never meant to imply that you wouldn't be upset by his death," she said, her soft voice shaking over the end. "It…I lashed out because I didn't want to argue with you, and this whole thing has just been so stressful and…" she turned away as her voice broke, staring out the window much in the same way as he had been minutes before.
Martin swallowed hard over the lump in his throat, blinking rapidly over tears he didn't want to shed. But it was hard not to react at seeing her upset this way. It hit him for the first time how much of a toll this was taking on her, and she hadn't yet been afforded much time to mourn properly yet. Publicly didn't count. He thought about how selfish he had been, arguing with her – with everyone – and walking around with a perpetual look of disgust on his face. Brooding silently and not meeting anyone halfway. Of course she had snapped at him earlier, he thought. The words he had flung at her came back to him all too clearly…that he had accused her of being cold and unfeeling. He lowered his eyes anxiously, shame flooding through him hotly.
"Mom, I'm sorry," he said awkwardly, his voice rough. "About before…well, the whole time I've been here actually. I…I just didn't want to deal with everything, and you already had all the arrangements made and that didn't leave me with anything to do…" he tried to explain, feeling helpless because she wasn't really crying, but he couldn't remember ever seeing her look so sad.
She turned back to him and reached out to grasp his hand again, giving off a small laugh as she shook her head. "Your father and I pre-arranged everything. For both of us," she added. "It was supposed to make things easier so that when the time came no one would have to worry about things like what to serve for refreshments after the service or what to put in the obituary. I guess it didn't go exactly as we planned, did it?"
"I'm sorry," he repeated, softer this time.
She shook her head and patted his hand. "It's all right Martin. I know why you behaved the way you did," she said simply, eyeing him now with that look that only a mother could pull off.
They were silent for a little while, and Martin couldn't help admitting to himself just how right she probably was. It had been uncharacteristic of her to snap out at him earlier, because she knew the way he behaved when he didn't want to deal with something painful. He launched himself completely into work or a task…anything that would make sure he didn't have time to think or feel about whatever it was that was causing him pain. It was something she had known all his life. Something Danny knew as well. They had that in common…their ability to read him.
"I want you to know honey," she said suddenly, voice quiet, her eyes loving. "That I'm glad you're here and that you wanted to help so much. And I know that this'll hit you later…the same way it'll hit me. And if you need me, you just call, okay?" she asked, a hint of pleading in her voice.
He simply nodded, not sure what to say, not sure he could speak without his voice breaking. She leaned down and kissed him on the cheek, her hand stroking briefly through his hair. "I love you Martin."
And then she was gone, back to her brave front and the houseful of people she needed to look appropriately sad for. Not too sad, lest the crowd become uncomfortable, but Martin knew now just how upset she really was, and he knew that, like him, she'd take time later – maybe even days from now – to express it privately.
But his tears snuck up on him suddenly before he had a chance to fight them off, and as he looked back up at the windows drenched in rain, he realized his eyes were just as wet. He realized, a few minutes later, that he wasn't alone again. But before he could make a move to wipe his eyes or clear his throat, Danny had sunk down next to him on the oversized chair and was pulling him close. And Martin didn't push him away this time, leaned closer instead and clung to him, reveling in the way Danny's hands moved tenderly over the back of his neck and up and down his back. He cried softly against Danny's neck as the feelings he'd been pushing away for days now finally forced themselves to the forefront and let him grieve.