On a Thursday morning, Martin drove to work with his window open for the first time in months.
The air still held the slightest hint of cold, his breath still leaving plumes of mist in its wake, but the temperature was rising, the air thick with dampness that spoke of melting snow.
A sign of impending spring, anyway, Martin almost regretting making the turn that brought him into the Bureau's employee parking garage, the weak morning sun vanishing as he winded his way underground.
By the time he was parked, he'd managed to forget about the weather, the day looming before him and work didn't take a break just because the weather had seen fit to.
Halfway through his elevator ride to the twelfth floor, Martin could no longer recall what month it was.
Time had been fuzzy lately, each day bleeding into the next and Martin had grown used to operating purely by habit; wake to the sound of his alarm, run, shower and dress, drink coffee, head to work, solve a case, head home, sleep, repeat.
He managed to fit little things in between, but even those had become habit; Martin stepping off the elevator, walking the few short paces to the office, pushing through the glass doors and, like every morning, he found himself glancing at Danny's empty desk.
His name plate was still perched on top of his cubical wall, his favourite coffee mug still sitting next to his mouse, dozens of badges still pinned to his bulletin board, but regardless of how many times Martin told himself that nothing was missing, he knew something was.
He didn't know where Danny was. Jack knew, but every time Martin had asked Jack had given him the same answer. That Danny was safe and needed time.
The not knowing still drove him crazy, despite the fact that he'd stop asking, Jack's answer never changing and Martin knew that it was likely in Danny's best interest. Or maybe Martin's, but Martin didn't like to consider that option often.
They all knew, the entire team well aware of his feelings for Danny --feelings that Martin was no longer capable of denying, even to himself. Sam had accepted it with resignation, telling him that she was happy for him. Vivian had been thrilled. Jack had merely nodded, like he hadn't expected anything else and from that point on he'd simply ignored it.
Vivian had told him that his feelings weren't unrequited, but with Danny gone, Martin couldn't help but think that it amounted to the same thing. Likely the reason he still checked every morning, still clinging to the hope that one day he'd come in and find something out of place, proof that Danny was indeed coming back.
Jack's reassurances had long since grown stale.
He called Danny's apartment on Saturday, something he did every Saturday, but Danny had yet to answer.
He'd disconnected his machine, so every time Martin called he was forced to listen through countless rings before eventually being forced to hang up.
Sometimes he counted the days that had passed since he'd last seen Danny, but thinking about that night in the morgue brought more pain than reassurance, so whenever he found himself remembering, he quickly found himself trying to forget.
Danny hadn't even come to his father's funeral, despite Martin learning later that Danny had paid for his burial. He had a plot next to Rafael's and Martin had stood alone in the freezing rain to watch them lower him into the ground. After it was over, he left, the only mourner in the entire cemetery and Jack had given him Danny's thanks.
Martin had asked Jack for the third time where Danny was.
Jack's answer hadn't changed.
On Monday he was running leads with Sam, Sam rambling on about some bartender she was seeing and Martin knew exactly who she was talking about even before she provided his name.
Derek, the guy who'd given them their first lead in Mario's case and Martin found himself frowning.
"Isn't he a little young for you?" he asked before he could stop himself, Sam glaring daggers and Martin vowed never to bring up the subject again.
Later he found himself apologizing, Sam forgiving him and Martin told her he was happy for her.
Thursday sent him out of town with Vivian.
Sunday brought him back to New York.
On Sunday night his mother called, asking him if he was all right, telling him that he sounded depressed and Martin reassured her that he was fine. Work was just busy and he was tired from flying halfway across the country.
It took him close to two hours to get her off the phone.
On Monday something was different.
Danny's coffee cup was gone and Martin's knees buckled.
He forced himself to cross over to his desk and hang his coat --which was getting to be entirely too warm and Martin made a mental note to take it out of his regular wardrobe rotation-- before heading in search of coffee.
He got as far as the hall when he spotted him, Danny standing in Jack's office, engaged in conversation and Martin froze, watching through the glass walls of Jack's office as Danny laughed at something Jack had said.
Coffee forgotten, Martin headed back to his desk to wait.
Danny didn't show up again until Wednesday.
On Wednesday Martin was running late.
A fuse had blown in his building, rendering his alarm useless and by the time Martin made it out of bed he barely had enough time to shower, shave and dress before making it into work a minute before he was due.
His first coffee had been Bureau brew, dark and entirely too strong for Martin's taste.
It was still sitting on his desk, the bottom half undrinkable and Martin yawned before contemplating getting a fresh cup. He decided against it, instead focusing on finishing the night's reports, trying to get caught up because for once they didn't have a pressing case.
Or any case at all, for that matter; strange that outside it was raining, the sky practically black with clouds, yet inside the office had fallen into an odd sense of tranquillity.
He'd asked Jack yesterday if Danny's presence meant that he was coming back. That he was better, but Jack had remained tight lipped on the subject, telling Martin that Danny would come back when he was ready and not before. Martin was starting to suspect that Danny had asked Jack to keep things from him.
Martin tried not to question the whys.
He couldn't help himself, though, dozens of reasons surfacing, Martin discounting each in turn and Martin shook his head to block out the new set currently rattling through his head.
It was almost ironic that he was becoming just as obsessed with Danny as Danny had become with his father.
"You know, it's actually tea leaves will tell you your fortune, not coffee grinds."
It wasn't until Danny spoke that Martin realized he was staring absently into his coffee cup, still contemplating getting that second cup and Martin was halfway to a retort when he clued in to the fact that Danny was standing behind him.
That Danny was in the office, expression teasing like this was something he did every day and Martin was out of his chair in a heartbeat.
"You… um…" Martin trailed off, the words not coming, his brain still stuck on the fact that Danny was standing in front of him, looking better than he had in longer than Martin could remember.
"Smooth, Martin," Danny answered, smirk firmly in place, but Martin didn't miss the dark shadow that flickered across his eyes, gentle reminder that the last few months had indeed happened.
It spoke of uncertainty, of regret and fear and Martin forced himself to smile, surprised that it came out genuine.
"Sorry, I just… how are you?" Martin asked, watching the tension drain out of Danny's shoulders and Martin held his breath waiting for Danny's reply.
"Okay," Danny answered and Martin knew he was speaking the truth. He wasn't fine. He wasn't good. But he was okay.
"Where…" Martin trailed off, Danny's features shifting and Martin shook his head before continuing. "Sorry, none of my business," he finished, Danny chuckling somewhat nervously.
For a moment, Martin wasn't certain what else to say. Words didn't exist for this moment, despite the countless times he'd imagined it. The countless times he found himself rehearsing what he'd say when Danny finally returned.
It was obvious Danny was just as lost, Danny seeming to struggle with himself and Martin got out an I just as Danny got out a so, Martin chuckling softly, Danny joining him a moment later and Martin gestured for Danny to continue.
"I owe you an apology," Danny began, Martin acutely aware of the nervous tension in Danny's tone.
"Yeah, I do," Danny interrupted, waiting for Martin to fall silent before continuing. "Step nine," he said by way of explanation, Martin nodding and suddenly the last few months made sense.
Danny hadn't gone off to destroy himself, a fear that had kept Martin up more nights than he'd like to admit.
"I… um… I took advantage of your willingness to help and brushed off your concern and I'm sorry," Danny finished, releasing a heavy breath and Martin knew exactly how hard that must have been for him.
He wanted to tell Danny not to worry about it, that it didn't matter, because everything had worked out in the end, but Martin knew Danny needed more. Knew Danny needed forgiveness, Martin's limited knowledge of AA telling him that much.
"I forgive you," Martin said, simply, Danny grinning in response and Martin found himself grinning back.
Danny came back to work on the following Monday, Martin fighting nervous excitement as he rode the elevator up from the parking garage.
He hadn't spoken to Danny since Danny's brief visit on Wednesday, Danny telling him that he'd see Martin on Monday and Martin had echoed the statement, Danny smiling softly before heading in search of Vivian, his list of atonements unfinished and Martin had found himself wondering exactly how many people had made the list.
Too many, Martin still suspected, knowing it wasn't his place to question.
He'd talked to Jack on Thursday, Jack finally filling him in on exactly where Danny had been. A detox centre in Brooklyn, Bureau sponsored and Jack had had to approve the expense, the only reason he knew and Martin didn't and Martin had felt slightly vindicated upon learning that.
Still, Danny hadn't told him, obviously needing to do this on his own and only the knowledge that he was doing it kept Martin from feeling any sense of resentment.
Shaking the thought off, Martin braced against the elevator's stop, waiting until the doors had slid fully open before stepping off, making his way into the office and by the time he reached his desk, his nervous excitement had become dull panic.
He spotted Vivian first, Vivian smiling knowingly and Martin knew she'd spent the last few months worrying more about him than Danny, half fearful that Martin might do something drastic in his quest to find Danny. Martin didn't blame her --he had, after all, suggested they open a case, leading to Jack's first confession that he knew where Danny was.
"You're in early," Vivian commented when she reached his side, smile still in place and Martin ducked his head before nodding.
"Well, you know what they say…" Martin trailed off, suddenly alarmed that he was about to sprout off some nonsense about birds and worms.
Vivian seemed to understand, nodding thoughtfully before peering up at him, Martin halfway to squirming under the weight of her look when she glanced away.
Staring over Martin's shoulder, Martin turning to follow her gaze, taking in the sight of Danny, Danny looking more than just a little nervous. He looked resolved too, though, like he was set on doing this, more prepared to return to work than Martin was to have him back.
Martin didn't excuse himself before crossing the room, instantly forgetting that he'd been in the middle of a conversation with Vivian.
The second Danny spotted him, Danny stopped, head tilting to the side and as soon as Martin reached him, Danny smiled.
"You the welcoming committee?" Danny asked, grinning nervously and Martin laughed.
"Something like that," he answered, no longer certain why he'd thought to greet Danny at the door, not really caring that he didn't have a reason, Danny's presence welcome and Martin was beyond pretending that he hadn't missed Danny.
Danny was still laughing at his answer, smile bright and Martin couldn't help but think it looked good on him. He'd spent Danny's absence coming to terms with the fact that he was interested in Danny. More than that, he was crazy about Danny, very likely head over heels and watching Danny laugh Martin couldn't help but wonder why he hadn't noticed sooner.
"I…" Danny got out, shaking his head a second later and Martin liked that he wasn't the only one stuck on what to say.
"Yeah," Martin answered, knowing exactly what Danny was thinking, able to read Danny for the first time in forever and Danny's smile brightened.
Stepping aside, Martin gestured for Danny to continue, Danny releasing a breath before starting forward, heading toward his desk and he got all of three feet before Martin stopped him.
"Yeah?" Danny asked, glancing over his shoulder, expression curious and Martin ignored the slight hitch in his breathing that came with knowing what he was about to do.
"After work, do you… Do you want to grab a coffee, or something?" Martin asked, suddenly nervous, Danny watching him, surprise evident in his eyes.
"I'd like that," Danny answered, Martin smiling, Danny shaking his head before continuing. "But ask me again in six months," he finished, the promise in his words enough to combat any disappointment Martin might have been tempted to feel.
He knew, after all, that Danny had to put himself first, make it through the program before starting anything that might distract him. Besides, six months wasn't that long and Martin had a feeling Danny was worth waiting for.
"Okay," Martin answered, Danny grinning in response before turning away, completing the journey to his desk and it wasn't until later, after the first case had turned into ten, after spring had bled into summer, that Martin finally let himself believe that things would work out.