A/N: Many thanks to those who have read and reviewed, especially to Mirella (Ciao!) for her amazing enthusiasm (and lovely cover pic) and my great un-met-mate AmyBlair (if you like male friendship/loyalty/hurt/comfort stories, check her out immediately, she has it all!)

Sadly, my first WAT fic (well, first ever fic actually) coincided with the last ever episode – life is cruel!

Summary: Agent Danny Taylor had the background to step into an undercover role but will he be lost to it?

Disclaimer: I lay no claims whatsoever.


Chapter 9

Mercy Hospital, Manhattan – Wednesday 7.00pm

A lidded cup of coffee moved into his line of vision, taking several moments to register in his unfocused view. Looking up from the floor and the blur of its pale blue dimpled surface, Martin found a semi-circle of concern looking back. Jack, Viv and Sam gazed down on him with same question on all of their faces.

"Any news?"

Jack tilted the coffee at him and he took it automatically. His body felt so heavy with tiredness that it was an effort even to straighten up, to lift his clasped hands. His eyes were gritty with it. He shook his head. He knew he should be relieved to have the team here but somehow it was just an added weight – to find the words, to explain.

He took a sip of the coffee, grateful that it was from a Starbucks across the street and not from one of the vending machines that stood like sentry boxes along the hospital halls. Somehow, even the coffee reminded him of Danny – he would approve of this brew.

"Did you see?" Martin addressed the question to Jack as the others took seats in the small waiting area. "Did you see where we found him?" Martin could still taste the bile of disgust at that horrendous scene. It soured even the coffee.

Jack nodded. "Forensics are still there. I went there to see for myself..." He tailed off. It seemed the eighteen hour day was taxing all their energy. Jack had been delayed by demands that he help with early questioning of some of the senior players. Marcel Eno was going to fall hard and Jack had enjoyed reminding him how his territory would already be splintering. So many authorities were interested in Calderon and his links to the Mexican cartels that the line of faces watching behind the one-way mirror grew by the hour.

Sam had had to accompany her prisoners to an emergency clinic - she was already heartily sick of hospitals.

Viv had made a detour to the morgue and checked the bloodless corpse of one Hector Eduardo. Seen for herself the broken skin on his knuckles.

For Martin the surging rush of the shoot out, the mind numbing terror of a near death experience, followed by the suffocating dread of the search and the shock of Danny's discovery, all made for a bone deep weariness he'd never experienced before.

Martin shook his head against the images that still haunted him. "You wouldn't believe it...they beat him so bad...he was so badly hurt...I don't know how he..." Another unfinished sentence. Really, what else was there to say? How could he explain?

The group sat in silence, and the waiting went on.

Another hour passed before a woman approached from behind the enquiry desk.

"You're here for Agent Danny Taylor? I've been asked to send you up to the third floor – ICU."

They were met as the elevator doors opened by a severe looking woman in her early fifties with a mass of dark hair pinned up on top of her head. It added to her already impressive height. A pair of dark rimmed spectacles rested there too like a hair band. She clutched a clipboard with sheaves of papers and printouts attached. A white coat, a stethoscope slung around her neck.

"Elizabeth Rosen."It was an announcement rather than a welcome and came without a handshake. "I'm overseeing Agent Taylor's treatment." Her voice was low and businesslike. "I asked you to meet me here because my experience is that the first thing people enquire is, 'can I see him?' and, if they do, my explanation is usually better understood." Here was a woman in complete control. "There is no family here?"

"Just us." Jack seemed to have caught her manner. She gestured up the corridor and set off, talking as she went.

"Agent Taylor is in a very critical condition. It is remarkable that he survived. He's suffering the effects of hypothermia and extreme dehydration. Weakened too by malnutrition. Without food and very little water for what ...a week?" Jack nodded at her side.

Rosen halted before a glass wall of windows and turning again, brought them to a stop.

"In your line of work, I probably don't need to warn you about the machinery and tubes that are helping him, but it can be ...shocking." She stepped back and gestured into the room beyond the glass.

They stared in and yes, they were shocked.

Danny lay surrounded by equipment and monitors, overtaken by them.

Martin heard Viv's sharp intake of breath and, beside her, Samantha raised a hand to her mouth...Oh my God!

He'd been cleaned up, his face shaved of the weeks beard growth Martin had noticed before, to get to the damage beneath. Where there had been filth, smeared and ingrained, now there was skin so pale it seemed almost translucent. Waxy and damp looking. Against the whiteness, the bruising stood out like multi-coloured art from the pallet of a depressive. Blacks and navies and deep burgundies, smudged and mixed into a grotesque collage that bloomed all over those parts of his body they could see.

A bright blue blanket covered most of his length, wires and tubes disappearing beneath it. Two nurses, faces covered by masks, adjusted and fiddled with them, as though Danny were some experiment in a horror movie. Screens displayed the coloured lines and flashes of his body's workings. Or not.

The right side of his face, still swollen beyond its contours, was now partially covered with a dressing that obscured his eye. A breathing tube held his mouth slightly open, slightly distorted. His chest rose in slow synchrony with the cylinder at his side.

An further expanse of dressing covered his lower neck and shoulder, the bruising leaking out like an offensive spillage. His right arm was held several inches above the bed by a harness support that reminded Martin of the cranes which had overshadowed his metal prison...Oh man...Danny...

"We are still slowly raising his core temperature and pumping him with fluids. Our orthopaedic team have realigned his collar bone...A grade 1 open displaced fracture like that is complicated enough ...Christ, they give these things rankings?...but having been left unattended, there is infection in the bone and tissue. We cannot complete the surgery with any hardware until we're certain that's clear." Rosen's voice drifted through their heads as they took in the damage she described.

"Infection is our biggest concern at this point. Infection and shock. There are indications of sepsis, infection in the blood ... it could lead to organ failure. We're monitoring him closely and we're underway with an aggressive treatment of antibiotics." She paused as though gauging how much more they really wanted to know. Jack tore his eyes from Danny and raised his brows to her. They needed to hear everything.

Rosen consulted the notes on her board and continued her litany. "Four broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, broken orbital and cheekbone, multiple contusions, some internal haemorrhaging".

Dear God...STOP...just STOP! Martin was beginning to feel his world spin.

Another pause. "Whoever did this ...enjoyed themselves."...Bastards! Bastards! Bastards!..." Besides the beating, he suffered numerous burns and cuts ….and we found needle marks....I take it he is not a user?" They gaped at her and she nodded in acknowledgement as she read down a list of notes. "His blood showed heroin in his system." She raised her head once more and looked at them as they remained transfixed. "We have photographed and documented all his injuries."

The silence of comprehension wrapped itself around the group until Dr Rosen moved and addressed them once more.

"I'm sorry, I'm afraid we cannot allow you to stay in the ICU right now. Agent Taylor will remain heavily sedated, a low induced coma, until we can stabilise him further. We won't be even attempting to bring him out of it until we see significant improvements." Her voice had slowed and dropped further. "His condition is very serious."As the deliverer of bad news she was oh-so efficient but Martin registered the care too. "I promise...we'll keep you informed."

It felt like another abandonment. Danny had been lost before with nobody searching, he was found now but with nobody to watch.

They headed home, finally, to a husband's comfort, a long needed bed, too many whiskeys and a night of guilt driven nightmares.

*************************************************************************************************************

Thursday morning

Lined up and displayed like something from a survivalist's wet dream – AK47's, Tec-9 machine guns, the latest series of Sig assault rifles, double action magnums and berettas and the terrifying Uzi pistols, so beloved by the street gangs – all categorised and tagged with the efficiency of a Texas gun show. All that was missing were the bumper stickers. Charlton Heston would have been proud.

A stack of white bricks piled high like an army barricade – a wall of cocaine. 1000 pounds of the square packages tightly wrapped in cellophane. If the display could show a price tag it would be nearly $5m.

The FBI knew a press opportunity when it stood up and shot at them. It had taken all night to catalogue the weapons, drugs and cash found, now procedure gave way to presentation.

A stack of duplicated photos were already prepared to hand out to excited reporters – the faces of those arrested and those killed. The blood stains had been washed away.

The warehouse had been the first stop of the day for Clive Morrison ...important to see the backdrop...now, wearing a carefully selected suit and a designer tie chosen for its strong and bold stripe, he was heading into Mercy to check the condition of Agent Taylor. Thanks to the delicacy of his brother's situation in jail, he would remain a low profile character in the drama to be told... but still... someone might just ask....

Morrison smiled as he worked on his speech in his head. It would be suitably low key, as befitting the Bureau ...but hey, praise where praise is due...Senior figures would be watching ...This is your moment!

"No fucking way!"

He looked up to find his way blocked by the imposing presence of a glowering Jack Malone flanked by Agents Johnson and Fitzgerald.

They'd been surprised to meet each other there so soon after being told to stay away. Each had thought, despite Rosen's advice, that they would just look in. Each had been disappointed to learn there was no change to report. When they spotted Morrison heading towards the doors, each had the same reaction.

"You are NOT going in there." Morrison had heard Jack's threats before. They didn't like each other and Jack had made his feelings clear but this was the stuff of the Malone legend. This was the voice he used in interrogation. Morrison felt its power but couldn't help himself.

"Get out the way, Malone – I'm here to check on my agent."

He barely had time to register his error. Jack's hands fisted into the lapels of his cashmere coat and he was lifted up and around. His breath whooshed out as his back was slammed against the wall.

"He's not YOUR agent!"

Passing eyes turned towards the scene. A middle aged couple clutching a bouquet of flowers hesitated. Good citizens frozen momentarily by an instinct to step in.

Before Morrison could speak, Viv and Martin pulled out their IDs, holding them up in front of the startled do-gooders.

"FBI!"

It was enough to send the pair scuttling away.

Still with his grip on Morrison's chest, Jack bundled him around the corner of the building. Bureau training had the agents quickly looking around for surveillance cameras but, while the main entrance was monitored, there was less interest in the shadows at the side.

Viv and Martin moved to shield Jack, eyes flicking between the street and the squirming Morrison.

"You've gone too far...you..."

Jack's forearm across his sternum brought Morrison's splutterings to a gasping halt.

"You have no right being here, you son-of-a-bitch." Jack's face was inches from Morrison's. He felt the spray as he spat out the words.

"There's a good man in there, fighting to stay alive after you abandoned him. You left him without back-up. With no way out." Another shove against the wall. "And then you fucking lied about it!"

Morrison struggled against the grip, his eyes darting sideways to look for a way out, to look for help.

"You get your hands off me. I'll have your badges for this ..." The words tumbled out as he tried his best to force some authority into the strangled tone of the threat.

Viv looked back at him, eyebrows arched in mockery.

"For what? I haven't seen anything happening here." Her voice was calm as she glanced towards Martin. "You?"

Martin shrugged. "Not a thing."

"What was it, Morrison? This thing getting away from you? Just too big to handle? Just too damn busy climbing that greasy pole to do your real job?" Each question was punctuated with another shove.

"Three days? You told us, three days Danny was missing. Three contacts? Christ man! It was a fucking week!" Slam. "Do you even know how many of his injuries happened in those forgotten days? Missed contacts?" Slam. "Only because you couldn't be bothered." Slam "Couldn't be bothered to meet him or even to fucking call him!"

Morrison's head connected with the wall. His eyes were wide with fear now as a realisation sank in that the rumours about Jack Malone could actually be true.

Martin watched a droplet of sweat creeping down the side of Morrison's face and felt nothing but utter loathing for the man.

A final shove and Jack released his hold, stepping back. "Just. Stay. Away."

Morrison staggered a little, then pulled his coat straight and smoothed down his designer tie. His hands were shaking but he tried to disguise the quake in his voice.

"I'll be bringing you all up on charges...."

He didn't get to finish. Martin's fist connected with the droplet of sweat as it clung to his jaw, sending Morrison sprawling along the brickwork.

Martin followed, stepping into the space Jack had left...you want another?...Breathing hard he fought his desire to pound this guy again and again...No! ...Wait! ...hit the bastard where it really hurts!...Looking into his gaping face, Martin smiled then but it wasn't an expression his friends recognised.

"You accused me once of using my father to make my way in the Bureau." He kept his tone moderate. "I didn't have a chance to explain to you then that, actually, we're not really all that close. High days and holidays mostly. In fact, I can't think of the last time we met up ..." Morrison was backing away from Martin now but he continued in the conversational tone...Ha!...is that more sweat I see?

"You know, I think perhaps that's bad... I should see my Dad more. Problem is, sometimes we don't really have a lot to talk about. But now?...yeah, you know!... "Now, I can think of all sorts of things to tell him....about recent operations...about how they were run." The faux friendliness dropped into iciness. "I'll give him your regards."

Morrison's face paled and his mouth opened and closed silently before thinning into a bloodless, rigid line as though locking down. He pushed away, past the group, and walked quickly away, pulling his coat tightly around him.

They watched him go, head down, away from the hospital. Several moments of silence passed before Martin registered that the eyes of the others had moved onto him.

Viv smiled broadly and gave an approving nod.

"Nice! Very nice!"


Sound...a dull roar that built and swelled and grew until it filled every part of him. It pushed into every space, between every particle, expanding and pulsing and grinding through gaps, slipping amongst the broken pieces. It rolled on and over and through, gathering into a cacophony that was stealing his breath, sucking every bit of oxygen from him. Sound first.... A blur of colours? …Then oblivion.


They took turns being with him. After five days the call had come that Danny would be needing them now. As the sedation was slowly reduced he would become more aware and now his consciousness was to be encouraged. To be tested.

The drips remained in place. The monitors continued to pulse silently. But the breathing tube was removed to be replaced by a cannula feeding oxygen to pneumonia damaged lungs through his nose.

Viv settled to it with the most ease. For her, it didn't so very long ago that she had read aloud to her son. Stuff from the newspapers, quirky stories, sports results. When reading material ran out, she didn't find it difficult to sit at Danny's side, her hand on his arm, and simply chat. A quiet monologue on the latest news from the office, Reggie's latest girlfriend, Marcus's latest students, Jack's latest outburst...Boy, Danny you've missed some doozies over this whole mess!

"Oh, and your brother's been moved, Danny. Northbrook. He's gonna find it easier there. His family can visit and the Bureau is working out the time deal with the DA. Rafi's asking for you Danny, so you just better hurry up and get out of here."


The colours swirled around him but wouldn't settle. The kaleidoscope kept on in endlessly moving patterns. Fleeting, rolling, nauseating. Sometimes a spinning vortex that sucked him under, sometimes a lazy merry-go-round that he couldn't get off. The roar was less now. It had pulled back, was giving his body a little more space – space for something else....no no no.... A burning heat that flickered and licked and ate into his soul. The sounds joined forces with the flashes of colour, but still he couldn't get a hold on them and he couldn't escape them.


Samantha normally took the first shift, coming in early, straight off the street in her running gear. She brought doughnuts for the staff and used the family room shower at the end of the ICU corridor.

She narrated her outline of the day ahead as she applied mascara and lipstick, explaining as she went just why it is that women need their cosmetic shield. "God, Danny, metro-sexual doesn't cover it! After this, the women are going to love you for your innate understanding of the female psyche. Don't you forget, you owe it all to me."

She made sure he was shaved and brushed gentle fingers through his flattened hair. "Come on Danny. Come back to us."


Pain now...god help me! The colours, the sounds all disappeared with the pain...please help me....blinding, terrifying and still burning...


Jack and Martin came later – Jack finding the time during the afternoons, Martin heading there straight from work and staying through the night, becoming used to the aches of sleeping in a chair amongst the constant movement of nursing staff.

They'd watched Viv's gentle manner and knew its value but neither found a one-sided conversation easy.

Jack justified the hours away from the office by bringing files with him, balancing them on his knees, grunting his comments to the still and silent figure....fight Danny, fight.

Martin tried the newspaper but found his throat seizing whenever he glimpsed the now yellowing bruises. There were signs of growing awareness but Martin feared that Danny was reliving the torture as he watched the rapid eye movements under the closed lids.… "Come on bro, open them up for me..."


Pain again ...building like a wave to crash over him. Searing, brilliant, white hot pain that exploded and then was gone, fading quickly like a nightmare driven away by the light of dawn. The noises were sill beyond his reach but seemed closer now...hang on to them...reach for them...They swelled up through the sea of colours where he floated...something to cling to...to try for...help me...


"Danny! ...Danny! ...Agent Taylor!" Martin guessed there weren't many people who did not obey when Dr Rosen 's voice was that insistent. "Agent Taylor!"

She shone a light into Danny's eyes – glimpsed under the lids she prised open. Her lips pursed and she tilted her head sideways in thought.

"When the body has been shut down so long it's often the biggest hurdle to get the patient to force himself back. It's a self preservation thing. Instinct." She wasn't really addressing anyone in particular and her grey eyes never stopped flicking to the screens, to the notes, to Danny.

"After such a trauma why would he want to face it? The mind is a complex thing – protective – if he allows consciousness, he has deal with the injuries. The pain. The memories."

She turned to Jack and Martin. "We have him scheduled for another CT scan tomorrow morning."

They watched him in silence for several minutes after she left. Taking in the changes. They could recognise the shape of his face again. The large dressing had been removed to be replaced by a smaller pad covering the line of stitches that ran from the end of his brow towards his cheek. The swelling was not gone entirely, his eye was still puffed closed, still a mixture of colours but now the pallet was autumnal. Browns and dark greens and rusty, sickening yellows.

His arm remained suspended and the shoulder dressing was still in place. Martin had seen that changed too many times. Seen and smelt the infection he'd fought. He'd watched the clammy skin rise up in sickly goose-flesh that suggested cold, when all other indications were that Danny was burning up.

Rosen had said there were improvements. It was difficult to tell.

Jack pulled a chair closer to the bed and sat down, leaning in towards Danny's face.

"Okay...enough of this." He paused momentarily. "Danny! Danny!" Jack's voice filled the room. "Danny Taylor! You damn well need to wake up now, you hear me? Danny! We got things to talk about!"

That voice...I know it ...I need...

Martin smiled at Jack's manner but then ...his eyes moved …there ...there... The lashes fluttered on his left side. Once. Twice. Three times. And then held, framing the dark iris, glazed and unfocused.

Jack leaned even further into Danny's eyeline. "Danny! Hey, Danny."

Flashes of white in a swirling maelstrom of colours....the roar was back … no, stay with the voice ...

Martin stepped closer. He knew he should get the doctor, the staff needed to know, but he couldn't bring himself to leave.

Danny's eye drooped again but Jack wouldn't let him go now. "Hey Danny look at me...hey..." His attention was forced back and fixed onto Jack's face. A flicker of recognition and Jack smiled encouragingly.

"Okay...that's good. Now, you can't speak right now so you're just gonna listen okay?...Danny? Just listen to me..." The focus faded and Danny's brow drew together in pain and confusion. He fought to hang on to the voice and the bleary image in front of him. He recognised it, recognised the voice and reached for it....Jack?... He wanted to speak but couldn't make anything work, couldn't find the strength...help me!

"You're okay now Danny. You're safe. And your brother's safe. That's all you gotta know. We got you. You're in the hospital and you look like crap but you're going to be okay, you're going to be fine. You did a great job Danny, and you're safe now. Do you hear me?" Danny's eye closed again but opened slowly once more to search out the voice and the face.

"Everything went just like you said it would – we got Romano. Eno. Tati. Caldderon. All of them. We got the guns, the drugs – we got the lot. You did a great job Danny." He reached over and lay a hand on Danny's forearm, his fingers brushed the bracelet of bruises and scabbed lacerations that remained from where the ties had bitten into his flesh. The touch was warm and firm. Comforting. "You've got a little way to go yet but all you gotta do is rest now. Okay? Just rest."

They watched as his eye dropped shut again and stayed that way.

"He heard you." Martin was smiling. He'd seen the recognition, he knew Danny had heard the message and finally he could believe in a little hope.

Jack turned to Martin with a broad grin. "You know, I'm gonna tell Dr Rosen it was your fault we didn't go get her."

Man, it feels good to laugh!

************************************************************************************************************

In the following days Danny's recovery was slow. Sometimes it was as though there was a film over his eyes and he saw nothing, knew nobody. Sometimes he was still lost in the fear and only painkillers and sedation would prevent his frantic movements and pitiful murmurings. But his lucidity improved a little more each day, the periods of wakefulness lengthening.

Martin had taken to recounting their previous jobs to try to rouse him, and he figured the more embarrassing the better.

"That clerk really had no interest in going through all those files you know, she just wanted to get you down there in that stockroom...man, your face when she grabbed your ass! Ha!" He walked as he talked ...would it kill them to put a more comfortable chair in here? ...maybe I should donate one and put a plaque on it, I've spent enough time here ... "And you know what? It was me who left your card there for her when we left – you never did figure out how she got your number did you?." He smiled to himself at the memory ...not many times I got one over on you, buddy..

He straightened the drawstring on the blind. "Hey, I just bet she'd love the chance to come up here and help with the nursing care...a strong woman like that would have no trouble turning you over, man...I could give her a call, no problem."

"You do that, you die."

Martin whipped around at the soft sound. Danny was awake, his eyes crinkled with the remnants of a familiar humour.

"Hey!" He was beside him in two strides. "So, you're finally with us!"

Danny tried a weak smile. His throat was raw and when he replied it was with a hoarse voice even he didn't recognise. "Had to…shut you up...you've been going on for hours."

Martin held out a cup of water and directed the straw between his friend's cracked lips. Danny took a grateful sip and felt the cool liquid easing the discomfort.

"Well, you know, you could have stopped me before...I was just getting onto that crazy stakeout in the pet shop last year...it's amazing those guys didn't hear you with all that sneezing you were doing."

"Allergic..." Danny rasped.

Martin noted the rigid way Danny was holding himself. The bed was tilted to a semi-upright position. The harness was gone after the surgeons had finally put the plate and screws in place to hold him together, leaving a livid scar still covered with a thick dressing. Now his arm was strapped firmly against his body. His fingers were beginning to curl as his body registered the aches and the nausea that came with full consciousness.

"You okay?"

Danny's smile had turned into a tight grimace. "I'll call a nurse."

The flurry of activity that followed left Danny exhausted as queries demanded responses...yes I can feel that... no I have no idea what day it is... instructions demanded understanding ...Yeah, don't worry, I'll be using that morphine pump...I got it... Martin looked on with concern but when finally the room quietened again he was grinning. "Boy! one shot of the good stuff and you're anyone's aren't you!" He joked.

Danny's mouth twitched at the gesture at levity but he was drifting again...These meds are great!

***************************************************************************************************************

Martin realised he was late to the party when he heard chatter drifting from Danny's room. When he entered it was to a chorus of cooing but for the first time in five weeks, Danny was not the centre of attention.

Viv was cradling a pink wrapped bundle and all eyes were riveted on the sleeping baby. Al Morgan hovered beside her with a look of utter adoration on his face. His hair more rumpled that ever, exhaustion etched into the lines around his eyes.

"I've tried to persuade him to call her Danielle but for some reason he's not going for it." Danny's voice was just about back to normal, the joy evident.

"You know, if it was only down to me..." Al laughed. "Nah! Who'd want to be reminded of you - she's going to be enough trouble without that pressure too, poor kid!"

Martin shook Al's hand. "Congratulations man, she's beautiful – clearly takes after her mother..."

"Yeah well, talking of ...I'd better get Catherine here back to her mom before they send out a search party, or she starts screaming. They only let me bring her over here when I flashed my badge. You think ICU's bad... they're tyrants on the maternity ward. They even sent a guard." He gestured to a smiling nurse who stood waiting beside a wheeled plastic bassinet. He gathered up the baby from Viv with the nervous hands of a new father and lay her carefully down.

"Looking good, Danny," he called over his shoulder as he waved and trotted to catch up with the nurse already wheeling his daughter away.

Danny turned to Martin. "So what's your excuse? Thought you were going to miss an evening." He was teasing but he was curious too. He'd come to rely for so much on Martin and over the weeks he'd never let him down.

His easy presence had been a constant through the relapses and the victories, through the horrific dreams and the pain. His encouragement had helped at the beginning of respiratory therapy as, wordlessly, he'd wiped away the foul hacked-up mucus that would suffocate him. He'd offered a hand to grip when mending bones were moved and a soothing voice to wake him from the darkness. He'd stayed through the moments of anger the doctors said were normal in 'survivors' and the moments of black despair that concerned them more. He'd only left when Danny's pride demanded it, to allow some privacy when the strong facade broke.

As he'd become more aware of the indignities of his medical care Danny felt less comfortable with other visitors but he figured Martin had seen him at his worst. In that metal box... "Bro, I bet you have your own dark dreams, right."

Martin's eyes fell on a folded newspaper and its headline. "FBI Foils Gang Deal". A second headline midway down heralded "NY's Biggest Gun and Drugs Seizure." Hmm... yeah, so far this year..there'll be others...

The story had made television, radio and newspaper headlines for days. A month on and Jack thought Danny was ready to see the results of his efforts. The team were supremely satisfied that Clive Morrison was nowhere to be seen in any of the press photos or footage.

"So, you had a date?"

Martin shook his head. "Not like you think." He looked across to the others. "I met up with my father – took him out to dinner."

Danny whistled lightly through his teeth. He knew the distance those two normally kept. "You after a raise in your allowance or something?" The others laughed more loudly than the joke warranted and Danny realised something was up but Martin just shrugged. "It was just time to catch-up – you know, have a chat."

"Okaaay." Clearly this was something Danny would have to pursue another time.

His memory of the timings of what had happened to him, the dates of when he was taken and how long he was held, were still not clear. Probably never would be. It was academic to the arrests. The lengthy reports would document the discrepencies. Jack and the team hadn't explained any details to Danny yet and he hadn't asked. Hadn't even asked where Morrison was – he had no desire to see the man ever again.

Samantha leaned over and kissed Danny's cheek. "So, we'll see you in another month. Good luck with the physio."

Viv's kiss followed. She wagged a maternal finger at him. "Don't you give the staff there as hard a time as you have here."

Danny was being moved to a specialist private hospital on Long Island for rehabilitation and intensive physiotherapy, paid for by the government in gratitude for having been so nearly killed in the line of duty.

Jack stepped up and nodded at him with a smile. "We'll see if we can't arrange some kind of visit from your brother while you're out there.... If you promise to keep him out of trouble...The guy is so lucky to have you...Don't hurry back. You never know, we might make it ourselves to enjoy the facilities."

He looked at Danny and saw the man he knew showing through again at last....we so nearly lost you... He had weight to gain, mobility to work on, persistent pain to manage...and god knows what other demons, judging by the nightmares we all know you have... but the Taylor spark of vitality was back.

When the others left, Martin moved to perch on the side of the bed. He would travel out to the Island to see Danny but it couldn't be as frequently as they'd become used to and he realised how much he'd miss it.

"You know Danny...you're gonna hate this, but there's something I need to say..." It had been weighing heavily on him, a lurking need for catharsis.

"Well, that sounds ominous..." The room was quiet and Martin's unexpectedly serious tone made Danny suddenly nervous. He would be seeing a counsellor at this next hospital – he couldn't live with the panic attacks and the flashbacks without help....keep it light...don't go there... his own strategies would only take him so far. Then there was the issue of a body that could begin to betray a renewed craving for alcohol or even heroin...Christ..surely I won't have to go back to step one... He felt weary at the thought of it.

He watched Martin's face as he sought the right words.

"When you were missing...when you were...gone...I'm sorry we weren't there for you." He looked into Danny's face steadily. He wanted him to know, needed him to know, they would never have stopped looking. "I'm sorry it took so long to find you."

Danny hadn't realised that he'd needed to hear it too and accepted the words with a quick nod. "S'okay man, I knew you'd come."

He smiled then. "I mean, what would you do without me. You need me. You haven't even noticed all these nurses who've been eyeing you up." Grinning at Martin's surprised expression he called out to a pretty dark haired nurse as she passed.

"Hey Rosa! Martin here says he'd like to take you up on those Spanish lessons." He quirked an eyebrow suggestively. "He has a lot to learn."

Martin played along with the back and forth banter. Maybe he would try to act on Danny's suggestion this time – he could use some laughter.....and flirting, he could definitely use some flirting.

The End

My first fic - I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading. I'd appreciate your thoughts.