Actions

Work Header

In the Company of Unicorns

Chapter Text

Danny doesn't remember much about his parents' death. He's heard the stories, seen the newspaper articles, but he doesn't remember anything about the actual crash that killed them.

What he does remember is waking up four days later, in a hospital, a pretty nurse fiddling with something at his side and when Danny asked her where he was she flinched before answering.

The hospital, sweetie, she told him, sparing only a glance, like his question didn't require further explanation.

Two days later he was released into the custody of Child Services.

The day after that he found himself standing in the hallway of his first foster home.

No one would tell him what had happened to his parents.

He found out about their death weeks later, Danny asking where they were and his foster mother --a kindly woman named Rosa that Danny hasn't seen in almost twenty years-- sat him down and told him that, sometimes, bad things happened to good people.

Danny didn't tell her that he didn't think his parents were good people.

After that he remembers feeling lost; uncertain of where he was or how he got there, not quite able to process the reality of his parents dying. He couldn't understand why he wasn't allowed to go home.

He feels much the same now.

Except now he isn't sitting at Rosa's kitchen table, the weight of Rosa's hand warm against his shoulder. Now he's standing in the hallway of an empty apartment, his furniture en-route, the stark white of freshly painted walls making the room feel colder than it actually is.

It's raining outside.

Drizzling, actually, Danny's clothes only mildly damp, but they feel more awkward than they would if they were soaked through.

He thinks about changing, but he can't seem to move, the hallway seeming impossibly long, despite opening into his living room not three feet from where he's standing.

This is the first time he's seen the inside of what is now his home --for weeks or months or years or decades; he doesn't know. He's seen pictures, but images on a website are never very telling and the reality of the place is nothing like he imagined.

It's smaller for one, starker; new in a way his apartment in New York never was and Danny finds himself missing the character that came with living in a turn of the century building.

Mostly, though, it just feels foreign.

Different, awkward in a way he wasn't expecting. Awkward in a way he wasn't prepared for.

He knew, technically, that this might some day happen. That his job would eventually take him away from a city he's known and loved practically his entire life. He was fourteen when he first moved to New York.

He knew too that, on that day, he would likely go only reluctantly, leaving the city harder than losing his family and Danny's starting to think that he should have just quit.

Jack did.

Handed in his resignation on the spot, the second he learned of his transfer and Danny's starting to think that maybe it was Jack who made the right decision.

At the time, though, he didn't consider the option; couldn't process the thought, weeks of OPR investigation blurring his vision and the splitting of the team took him by surprise. He knows he still hasn't really processed it.

Knows too that, one day, he'll wake and it will hit him, just like he woke on a cold Sunday morning in Rosa's house and understood that he could never go home.

~~~

His clothes are hanging off the back of the breakfast bar, drying. The bar divides the room in two, his kitchen opening into his living room, flanked by the hall that leads to his front door. Another hall leads out of the living room, down to a small bathroom and a bedroom that looks exactly like his living room in miniature.

This is the first apartment he's had that has carpet; Berber that he thinks might be new, steel grey in colour and it makes the floors look drab and uninteresting. Everything else is white. He thinks it's meant to create the illusion of space, but the ceilings are so low that he can't help but feel slightly claustrophobic.

It's almost like living in a box.

It doesn't help that the space is empty; void of his things, his only possession the suitcase currently sitting open on the kitchen counter, its contents still neatly folded inside.

He's taken to sitting cross-legged on the floor, facing the far window and watching the sun set behind dark grey clouds. There are several empty Thai take-out boxes on the floor beside him, because he hasn't had a chance to find a grocery store and even if he had his dishes are on a truck somewhere between New York and Seattle.

~~~

He wakes to the sound of his cell phone, the ringing harsh and Danny almost answers before remembering that it's only his alarm. For a moment, he doesn't remember where he is, his body stiff from sleeping on the floor, jacket balled under his head as a pillow.

It comes back to him then, suddenly, and Danny's tempted to panic. For a while, he'd almost managed to convince himself that this was all a bad dream.

Obviously that's not the case and Danny groans before pushing himself up off the floor, ignoring the mess that he didn't bother cleaning up last night before making his way into the kitchen, rooting through his suitcase to find a towel, toiletries and a change of clothes.

He considered spending the night in a hotel, waking to an actual bed and a complimentary breakfast. He's not sure why he changed his mind, but the second he steps into the bathroom he wishes he hadn't. The shower's not actually a shower, but rather a tub with a steel bar screwed into either wall. Danny didn't think to pack a shower curtain.

By the time he climbs out and reaches for his towel, the floor is soaking wet.

~~~

He knows the building as soon as the cab pulls up in front of it.

It's just like every other Federal building; towering concrete divided by rectangular glass windows and, if Danny concentrates hard enough, he can almost imagine that he's still back in New York.

New York doesn't sound like this, though; the sound of traffic lighter, void of honking cabs and crying street vendors. It doesn't smell like this either; exhaust and ethnic food replaced by the scent of burnt gourmet coffee. The weather is different too; milder than it should be, but damp in a way that feels almost chilly.

Danny steps out of the cab and the image of New York vanishes.

He thought about walking, knowing from the maps he spent the plane ride poring over that his apartment wasn't far. But he doesn't know the city --not yet, anyway-- and knew he'd likely end up getting lost if he left it to chance.

He regrets the decision not to walk, though, the cab taking entirely too long to show up at his apartment this morning and Danny's due upstairs in just under ten minutes. So much for being early on his first day.

Inside he makes his way to the front desk, pulling out his badge and service weapon, placing the gun in a tray before stepping through the metal detectors, picking it up again on the other side before making his way to the elevators. Obviously they were expecting him, no one batting an eyelash at his presence.

He's not entirely sure where he's going, except that White Collar Crimes is located on the eighth floor, so Danny steps into the elevator, hits the button and hopes he can find his way once he makes it upstairs.

He almost feels like a rookie again, like he did fresh out of Quantico and Danny thinks idly that he's really too old for this. They requested him, though, his record for being street savvy something White Collar was looking for, so he knows he shouldn't have anything to worry about.

Still, it's nerve wracking, awkward and Danny suspects he's going to have to start from scratch; earn people's respect and trust all over again and Danny's not sure he's ready to do that.

He doesn't want to be here, after all; doesn't want to spend his day investigating fraud cases and chasing down white collar criminals. There's no challenge in that, no sense of accomplishment and it's only then that Danny realizes just how lucky he was to earn a spot in Missing Persons right out of the Academy.

The elevator opens into a long hall, not unlike the one in New York, the layout only slightly different. The colours are lighter, though, and every single agent he sees is clutching a Starbucks coffee like it's a lifeline, so he knows it's not the same.

He has half a second to glance around, get his bearings, before someone calls out to him, a black man around Jack's age, Danny's name passing over his lips like a question and Danny turns to face him, nods in acknowledgement.

"Special Agent Harold Jones, glad you could join us," he says by way of introduction, gesturing for Danny to follow him.

"Glad to be here," Danny lies, falling into step behind the man, following him down the hall and toward a corner office.

And this is one of the things that differs from New York. The offices here are closed in, walled by drywall instead of glass and it makes the entire floor seem almost oppressive, the lack of openness stifling. Danny tries not to think about it as he follows Harold toward his office.

His office is sparse, a single desk facing into the room, two chairs in front of it with a high-backed chair behind it. The only other furniture are two sturdy bookcases and a couple of filing cabinets. There are a few pictures on the desk; a woman smiling brightly for the camera, two boys, each in their own frame, almost glaring at the camera, like they've long outgrown the desire to have their picture taken. Harold's family, Danny assumes.

Harold himself is just as sparse, dressed simply in a grey suit that is slightly outdated, his jacket pulling across his waist like he hasn't bothered to replace his wardrobe since his youth. He's taller than Danny pictured, black hair tinged with grey, his moustache entirely grey. Only his eyes belie his age; dark and clear and Danny knows that they likely see everything.

He gestures for Danny to sit, waiting until Danny's seated before moving around behind his desk, sinking into his chair and crossing his arms across his chest.

"I've been looking over your file. Some impressive, if not diverse, work. How much do you know about White Collar Crimes?" Harold asks, tone professional and Danny has a feeling he approaches everything like a case. Already his barb about Danny's work history has earned him Danny's respect.

"Occasionally Missing Persons would coordinate with the White Collar office in New York, but aside from that, just what I learned in the Academy," Danny tells him, hating that he's already being forced to defend his background.

"I think you'll find that things work differently in the real world. Well, come on," Harold begins, pushing himself out of his chair, standing before continuing, "let's introduce you to the team, and your new partner."

Danny nods before standing, letting Harold usher him out of the room, biting his tongue to keep from asking what Harold meant by partner. Missing Persons operated as a team, the group rotating more often than not and Danny's not entirely sure he's willing to spend all his time working with the same person.

He knows pairing agents off as partners is commonplace in a lot of departments, and that, eventually, the two people learn to work as a single unit, but there's always the possibility that he'll get paired up with a complete asshole and then his time here will be even worse than he first imagined.

He's not prepared for his first sight of the White Collar Crimes office. It's narrow, a hallway running down the centre, desks placed on either side, almost haphazardly. There are no cubicles, just open space around the desks. The windows are dark, shades drawn down to block out sunlight. Florescent bulbs line the ceiling, providing the only light; an eerie white that flickers, the bulbs humming and Danny instantly misses his old office.

The New York offices used to look like this; or so Danny's been told. They were renovated before he joined the team, so he's not used to the chaotic sprawl of desks and white boards.

Leading him to the far back corner, Harold pauses next to a woman that Danny thinks might be close to Harold's age. She strikes him as someone warm and earthy, but her features are sharp and knowing, eyes tight like she's seen too much in her career and has learnt to block most of it out.

"Special Agent Maureen Grant, this is Special Agent Danny Taylor," Harold introduces, Maureen eyeing him critically before extending a hand.

"Agent Taylor," she says, grip firm, hand cold and dry and Danny smiles in acknowledgement.

"Maureen," Danny replies, earning an arched eyebrow and purse of her lips.

Danny mentally chastises himself for thinking that the same informality he was used to in New York might extend here.

He doesn't get a chance to apologize, or correct his mistake, Harold leading him on to the next desk, a dark haired man bent over several open files. He glances up at their approach, pausing a moment to push his glasses back up his nose, eyes crinkling in suspicion as he takes in Danny's presence.

"And this is Agent Grant's partner, Special Agent Mike Rosa," Harold introduces, Danny extending a hand that Mike frowns at before accepting.

"Agent Taylor," Danny tells him, earning a grunt like Mike could care less who Danny is. Danny chooses to ignore him, instead letting his hand fall back to his side, following Harold deeper into the office.

He did a little research upon learning of his transfer, but aside from Harold's profile he really couldn't find anything else on the other team members. Not even their names, although Danny suspects that has more to do with the fact that White Collar occasionally works under cover than anything else.

He's not entirely surprised, though, when Harold leads him to a pair of empty desks in the far right hand corner of the room. One is his, he suspects, the other likely his partner's and Danny finds himself glancing around the room. He's just about given up when he spots him.

Younger than he was expecting, likely around Mike's age, but whereas Mike's features were harsh and cold, this guy's features are open and boyish, the kind of guy that girls might call cute. The kind of guy that Danny's thought about fucking, but could never work up the nerve to proposition.

"Ah, Agent Fitzgerald," Harold says upon spotting him. "Danny Taylor, this is Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald," Harold introduces, stepping back to let the two men shake hands.

"Agent Fitzgerald," Danny says, the name sounding oddly familiar, but for the life of him he can't place it.

"Welcome aboard," Martin answers, shaking Danny's hand briefly, looking slightly unimpressed and Danny's not surprised that his new partner seems unwilling to welcome him with open arms.

Danny tells himself that that might be a good thing, Martin even more attractive close up and Danny suspects that Martin's distance will come in handy. It'll certainly make him less tempting, anyway.

"I'll leave Agent Fitzgerald to run over the details of our open cases," Harold tells him, not waiting for a reply before making his exit, Danny suddenly uncertain of exactly what he's supposed to be doing.

Martin obviously knows, pointing out Danny's desk despite the fact that Danny could have guessed; the only one of the two void of paperwork and Danny knew he should have brought the box of his work things on the plane rather than leaving it with the truck.

"We have four open cases right now. You might want to start by going over the files," Martin tells him, rifling through his desk drawer, pulling out four file folders, dropping them unceremoniously onto Danny's desk.

Danny smiles somewhat sarcastically before taking the first off the pile, flipping it open and, great, an insurance fraud case; this should be interesting.

When he glances up again, Martin is gone.

Chapter Text

He doesn't stop panicking until he makes it into the break room, his chest constricting painfully and Martin hates that he's reacting this way.

He knew it was coming, after all. Knew that eventually they'd bring someone in to replace Tyler, but Martin still feels like he's betraying the other man's memory by taking on a new partner.

Tyler was his teacher, after all; his mentor, the only person Martin's ever known who didn't give a damn about who Martin's father was or exactly how Martin managed to find himself in one of the top ranked White Collar Crimes offices in the country.

All Tyler cared about was Martin; a rookie then, young and naive and Martin doubts he'd be the agent he is today if it weren't for Tyler taking him under his wing.

Releasing a breath, Martin forces himself forward, crossing the room to pour a cup of bitter Bureau coffee into one of the styrofoam cups sitting upside down next to the machine.

There's a Starbucks across the street, the rest of the office choosing to head outside, regardless of the weather, just to avoid drinking the stuff in the break room. Martin prefers the coffee here, though, liking the fact that it's just a little too bitter, a little too stale; Victor Fitzgerald's son would drink Starbuck's coffee, but Martin prefers the generic stuff bought on a Bureau budget.

He thinks briefly of pouring a second cup, for Danny, knowing that he wasn't exactly polite. He planned on being nice, going so far as to rehearse it in front of a mirror the second Agent Jones told him that Danny was coming. He planned on making Danny feel welcome, too, the same way that Tyler made him feel welcome on his first day and Martin still remembers how much that meant to him.

It didn't happen, though; four months not long enough to break emotional ties and it's very true what they say: partner's are often closer than lovers.

Not that his relationship with Tyler was ever physical, despite Martin's initial crush that he eventually came to identify as admiration. He still keeps in touch with Tyler's wife --widow and Martin has to keep reminding himself of that-- after all, and before Tyler's death Martin often felt like he'd been adopted by the couple. They certainly made for better parents than his biological ones.

Thinking about Laura isn't helping, so Martin pushes the thought aside, clutching his coffee just a little tighter than necessary before heading back into the office.

He's not even sure why he feels such trepidation; he's seen Danny's record, after all, knows that Danny's a good agent. He's probably a good guy too --he's even cute, but Martin's not thinking about that-- and Martin knows that, eventually, they'll likely end up working well together.

The whole situation is too new, though; too strange, foreign and the thought of learning someone else's patterns, someone else's personality, is almost too much for him to contemplate.

Martin hasn't been gone that long, but for some reason it surprises him to find Danny still absorbed in case files. Granted, the shortest file covers three months worth of work, so he knows that Danny will likely be engrossed in them for days.

It leaves him not knowing what to say, Martin not really wanting to interrupt Danny's concentration, so Martin occupies himself by setting his coffee down onto his desk, pulling out his chair and sitting before booting up his computer. Martin has to force himself not to glance over, not wanting to know if Danny's acknowledged his presence.

He gets as far as checking his email when he senses someone watching him, Danny obviously aware of his return and Martin glances up to meet Danny's slightly suspicious gaze.

"You get through those yet?" Martin asks, more stiffly than he intended, but the way Danny's watching him is kind of unnerving and, more than anything, Martin wants him to stop.

"I'm on the second file, about two months in," Danny tells him, still staring, but he sounds bored, unimpressed with the work and an irrational surge of irritation flashes in Martin's chest.

"I'm sorry. I forgot that you were used to the excitement of Missing Persons," Martin replies, knowing full well that he's being a jerk, not really caring because Danny's still watching him and Martin still doesn't like it.

He can imagine how Danny must be feeling, though, Martin knowing full well the excitement that likely came with working in Missing Persons. Missing Persons was his first choice of assignments, after all, Martin having gone so far as to put in a request for a transfer to the department shortly after Tyler's death.

It was almost amusing to think that, in some alternate universe, Martin could have ended up the rookie, Danny teaching him instead of the other way around.

Danny doesn't respond to Martin's comment, but his eyes narrow, his lips pursing into a thin line and Martin knows that he's managed to piss Danny off. Sighing, Martin lets his features soften, swallowing the urge to apologize.

He reminds himself that Danny's the new guy here; likely out of sorts, probably still a little traumatized by what happened in New York --and Martin's seen that report too-- so it won't kill Martin to be nice to the guy.

Forcing a half smile, Martin stands before reaching for his coat, Danny's eyes following the movement and Martin swallows before speaking.

"Why don't we head out into the field, you'll probably get a better sense of the way things work out there than you will stuck in here," Martin suggests, and it's not an olive branch, but it's the best he's willing to offer.

Danny doesn't hesitate before standing, shrugging into his own jacket and nodding like he's more than willing to accept the small bit of civility.

~~~

Case priority depends entirely on new leads.

It's something that frustrates Martin, on occasion, but he understands its usefulness. After all, at any given point in time he'll be working three, sometimes as many as five, cases. Most cases he can close out in a matter of months, but some drag on for years and, sometimes, months will pass between pieces of information, making concentrating on a single case next to impossible.

Today they're finishing up with a round of leads on an insurance fraud investigation. Around the office, insurance fraud cases are commonly referred to as fluff cases --low risk, lots of boring procedure, countless interviews and no chance of getting shot; the perfect case for training a rookie.

Not that Danny's a rookie, per se, but fraud investigations generally require a level of detail that's not found in other departments, so they're a good place to learn the ins and outs of what it means to work in White Collar Crimes.

Danny's thumbing through the case --the first file from the pile Martin gave him this morning, so Martin knows he's already glanced over it-- looking decidedly unimpressed and before Martin can stop himself, he's asking.

"You didn't ask for this assignment, did you?" he questions, not glancing over, telling himself that it's only because he's driving and needs to pay attention, that it has nothing to do with not wanting visual confirmation of Danny's disdain.

The last thing Martin wants is for Danny to transfer out of the department after they've spent time working together, forcing Martin to break in yet another partner.

"No, it's not," Danny confirms, and even without seeing Martin can picture his expression. "I wasn't exactly given a choice," Danny continues and he sounds bitter, resentful in a way that Martin can remember all too well.

White Collar Crimes wasn't his first choice either; in fact, it would have been his last, but his father wanted him to work somewhere safe, somewhere where there was less chance of him getting killed in the line of duty. Try telling that to Tyler's widow.

"They're not all like this," Martin finds himself saying, torn between keeping his distance and actually engaging Danny in conversation.

Danny laughs at that, a half scoff that sounds almost like a snort. When Martin glances over, Danny's shaking his head, looking almost amused.

"Something funny?" Martin asks, and now he's just being belligerent. He can't really help it, though, Danny's attitude grating on his nerves.

"Can I ask you something?" Danny questions, ignoring Martin's previous remark. Martin gestures absently for him to continue. "When was the last time you drew your service weapon?" Danny asks, but the question comes out as a point, Danny smirking to himself like he's somehow won a round in a game Martin didn't even know they were playing.

Four months ago, Martin doesn't say, instead choosing to ignore the question.

~~~

It's lunch by the time they get back to the office, two interviews squeezed into their morning and Danny looks no less bored than he did when they set out this morning.

Martin pauses long enough at his desk to drop off his coat, ignoring Danny, despite the fact that he's fairly certain Danny doesn't know where the cafeteria is, before heading off.

Very few agents use the onsite cafeteria, choosing instead to head outside to local establishments. Martin doesn't use it often himself, so he's not surprised to find it virtually deserted. Mike's sitting in a corner by himself, poring over the day's paper and Martin purposely avoids letting his gaze linger.

He's had problems with Mike in the past; since they met at the Academy, actually, Mike entirely too brash for Martin's taste. It doesn't help that Mike was one of the many people in his graduating class that gave Martin a hard time for being his father's son.

Fortunately he doesn't have to work with Mike often, and when he does Maureen's usually around and she's always been very good at keeping him in check.

He's debating between a ham sandwich, and a turkey one, when someone steps in beside him, close enough that Martin's jacket actually shifts. For some reason it doesn't surprise him when he glances over and finds Danny staring intently into the glass display.

Shifting a little to the right, bringing himself out of direct contact with Danny's arm, Martin decides on the turkey, glancing back over just in time to see Danny choose the same. It almost makes Martin want to put his sandwich back, pick up the ham instead. The thought doesn't make any sense, though, so Martin ignores the impulse, moving down the line, grabbing a personal size serving of apple sauce for dessert before making his way to the cashier.

She's not really a cashier, just the girl who tallies up his bill, swipes his card and later it'll come off his pay cheque. Emily, Martin thinks her name might be, but it seems there's a new girl every time he comes, so he can't say for certain. He nods to her all the same before grabbing his tray and heading toward the cluster of tables between the counter and the door.

He chooses a table on the opposite side of the room from Mike, leaving enough room for Danny because he knows Danny's going to join him. Danny just seems like the type; social in way Martin's never been.

Martin still glances up curiously when Danny slides into the chair beside his.

"So this is the best you have?" Danny asks, smirking slightly and Martin decides that a smirk is a pretty good look on him.

"What, they bring in caterers for you in New York? Sorry, we're not that civilized here," Martin responds, half expecting a retort out of Danny, but to his surprise, Danny merely laughs.

The rest of their lunch hour passes in silence, Danny obviously weighing him, likely trying to decide if Martin's the kind of guy he wants to spend time with.

In truth Martin's doing the same. He probably knows more about Danny than Danny knows about him, but Martin doesn't know Danny. He's not sure he wants to, at least, not yet. So far Danny's been nothing but professional, approaching their morning interviews like he was genuinely interested, despite his earlier grumbling about the slow pace of the department.

Martin can tell he still doesn't want to be here, though; tell that he's just biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to transfer and that, Martin thinks, is the main reason he hasn't let himself warm up to Danny.

Granted, it's only been half a day, so Martin tells himself to give it time. Worst case scenario Danny transfers, which might not work out so bad, because then, on his last day, Martin can hit on him just to see Danny's reaction.

~~~

The day's almost over when a lead comes in on a money laundering case that Martin hasn't touched in almost six months. It's gang related, so they're co-ordinating with Organized Crimes and Martin suspects Danny's interest might have just peaked.

He seems eager, anyway, excited about the turn of events and Martin resists the urge to tell him he told him so.

They interview a suspect, a high ranking gang member with a list of priors longer than some of the case files in Martin's desk. Halfway through the interview, Danny takes charge. Martin has to admit; he's impressed.

This was one of the reasons the department brought Danny in, but it's not until he sees Danny in action that Martin starts to fully understand why. Danny's not just good. He makes interrogation look like an art. Martin doesn't think Agent Jones could have done a better job, and Harold is quite possibly the most intimidating man Martin's ever met.

Danny's instinctive, though, knowing just what to say, knowing just when to sit back and let Martin step in. It's almost surreal how well they interview together.

So surreal, in fact, that Martin's almost disappointed when it ends. They don't get a confession out of the guy, but they do get several new names, several new leads and considering how long the case sat dormant, Martin was starting to think it had gone stale.

Obviously that's not the case and Martin has to admit that Danny's partly responsible for that.

So much so that Martin claps him on the back as soon as they make it into the hall, smiling for the first time in longer than Martin can remember, earning a grin from Danny that Martin suspects might be genuine.

"So now what?" Danny asks, obviously ready for the next step, practically vibrating with energy and Martin's almost reluctant to answer.

"Now we turn the names over to Organized Crimes. They run background checks, compile information, maybe set up some surveillance. If it looks like it might pan out, they call us in," Martin tells him, Danny's smile vanishing at his words.

"So basically now we sit and wait," Danny rephrases, Martin smiling sympathetically because he does understand Danny's frustration.

He feels it himself, White Collar pushing procedure to the limit and just once Martin would like to be able to move on to the next step without having to wait on other departments.

"No, now we go home, get some sleep and come back tomorrow," Martin answers, earning a look of disbelief that suggests Danny's not used to heading home before the sun sets.

Martin tries not to be envious, instead shaking his head before heading back to his desk to finish the night's paperwork.

Chapter Text

He takes the bus home.

Or tries to. It's not as easy as it should be, Danny seeking out three stops before finally finding one that has a route map. Even then the thing is so complicated that Danny's only half sure he's getting on the right bus.

He could have walked --thought about walking, actually-- but after this morning's cab ride, downhill most of the way, the thought of walking home wasn't exactly appealing. Also, it's raining, again.

Not that it matters, though, because by the time he actually makes it onto the bus he's soaked through.

He's started a list of all the things he misses about New York. He knows it's not productive, but he can't seem to help himself, automatically comparing everything to the city he still thinks of as home.

New York's transportation system has officially topped the list. Cities shouldn't be allowed to exist without a decent subway.

This isn't the first time he's ridden on a bus, but it is the first time in a really long time, so of course he misses his stop --or what he thinks is supposed to be his stop-- the bus pulling over into a neighbourhood Danny doesn't recognize and Danny could have sworn he calculated the number of stops right.

Obviously not.

There's a church across the street from him, Catholic from the architecture, and Danny makes a mental note to remember its location.

He stopped going to church for a while, years in fact, work occupying most of his time and by the time the weekend rolled around he was usually too exhausted to bother.

That all changed a month ago, the world coming to a standstill and Danny started going again. At first it was just to avoid the news; he lived in New York, worked downtown, so the last thing he needed were images on a television set to remind him that half the city was still covered in ash. He knew.

After the first few weeks, he remembered why he'd started going in the first place.

Step two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

And it did, making things clearer than they had been in years and Danny liked that feeling, liked knowing that he wasn't as alone as he'd always assumed he was.

He has no idea if the place is even remotely close to his apartment, but Danny mentally notes the name --St. James Cathedral-- and given that he lives on James Street, he figures it can't be too far off.

He heads to the nearest cross-street, the sun just beginning to set, so it makes reading the sign slightly difficult. Marion and Ninth, and that's good, because his apartment's just before Fourteenth, so that means he's close. It also means he didn't miss his stop; that he did, in fact, get on the wrong bus.

Heading east --or at least, what he hopes is east, although he suspects it's actually south-east-- he eventually hits James Street, turning left because it seems like the logical direction.

It would be the logical direction if he was still in New York, New York laid out like a grid, but he has no idea if Seattle works the same way. He doesn't think so, at least, it certainly didn't look like a grid during his brief, work related tour of the city. Martin was driving, though, so Danny wasn't really paying attention.

He doesn't stop panicking until he passes Twelfth --and how he missed Tenth and Eleventh, he doesn't know. By the time he actually makes it back to his apartment, he's exhausted. So much for not walking home.

He makes it about halfway up the first flight of stairs when he hears a door open behind him, the gruff voice of his landlord calling out to him and Danny freezes mid-step.

"Your moving truck showed up today. I let the movers in," he says, Danny not quite able to identify his accent. It sounds nothing like home.

"Thanks," Danny replies, not waiting for a reply before continuing up the stairs.

The lights on the third floor flicker, like they can't quite draw enough power to sustain their brightness. The lights on the first two floors are steady and constant and Danny finds himself wondering if they consume all of the electricity before it reaches him; finds himself wondering if the lights on the floor above his are even more sporadic. By the time he makes it to his door, his head hurts from trying to block them out.

Inside, his apartment still looks like a box. It feels hollow, despite the fact that there are boxes and furniture everywhere --and of course the movers didn't think to put things where they belonged, everything placed haphazardly like they simply dropped his things in the first room they came upon in their hurry to finish the job.

Sighing, Danny drops the bag he brought into work, twice as heavy as it was when he went home and Danny can still recall Martin's look of disbelief when Danny asked if he could bring some of their files home to look over.

He's not going to get to it tonight, though, not now, anyway, which means he'll likely spend tomorrow morning poring through them, trying to absorb at least a little knowledge so that, come the start of the day, Martin won't think he's a complete idiot.

Maybe he'll take the bus in tomorrow morning, use the commute to read over the basics. The plan has the added benefit of allowing him to find out what bus he should have taken home.

Until then there's nothing left to do but unpack.

~~~

He moved into his apartment in New York shortly after graduating from the Academy. It wasn't the nicest of places, the neighbourhood more than just a little seedy, but it was affordable and, at the time, Danny didn't have a salary.

He'd thought about moving a dozen times over the years, but the thought of packing his things into boxes and disrupting the flow of his daily life was just too much to process.

He's glad now that he didn't move.

Moving furniture alone is hardly easy, not to mention the fact that, regardless of where he puts things, it doesn't feel like home. Doesn't look like home or smell like home and Danny gives up midway through moving his couch --for the third time to a third wall and it's obvious now that its location makes little difference.

He did set up his bed, though, so he will have a place to sleep tonight. That's the most important thing, anyway, despite the fact that he doesn't have his dishes unpacked or food in his fridge.

What he does have are several flyers for restaurants that deliver, the previous tenant kind enough to leave them behind. He has a phone book too, which pretty much tells him that he'll have to buy a car if he ever hopes to go grocery shopping. Either that or he's going to have to start paying for home delivery.

He didn't need a car in New York, didn't really want one, but he has a feeling living in Seattle without one might become problematic.

Driving, though, presents its own problems. They didn't cover much of the city today, but from what little Danny saw out of his passenger side window, the bulk of downtown is made up entirely of one way streets. It might be simply easier to move closer to work.

Blinking at the flyer in his hand, Danny forces himself to shake the thought aside; he's not going to accomplish anything obsessing over exactly how he's going to get around the city. Besides, if Danny has anything to say about it, this is a temporary situation, so it's not like he needs to worry about it for long.

Reaching into his pocket, Danny pulls out his cell, deciding on pizza because it's either that or Chinese and he's never been a fan of the latter.

~~~

He wakes confused and disoriented to the sound of rain hitting his window.

For a moment he merely lies there, listening to the soft pitter-patter of water colliding with glass. The room is void of light, darkness casting long shadows that hide most of the room.

Occasionally, when a case took him out of town, he'd wake in the middle of the night in his hotel room not knowing where he was. Each incident was accompanied by panic, his chest constricting, his pulse racing, sweat beading against his forehead. He recognizes the sensation now.

Recognizes it and fights against it, telling himself that, eventually, he'll get used to sleeping here.

He knows the source of the panic, remembers it from his childhood, Danny cycling through foster home after foster home until he no longer knew where he was at any given moment. He hated the feeling then. Hates the feeling now. Thinks absently that this is likely why he's only moved three times since his eighteenth birthday.

Sleep doesn't come again, the shadows taking a on life of their own, shifting and breathing, inching closer to his bed and eventually Danny's forced to turn on the bedside lamp just to chase them away.

He gets up, winces at the feel of carpet beneath his feet before padding out of the room, heading down the short hall and into the living room, navigating around several unopened boxes before heading into the kitchen.

There's a half empty pizza box inside his fridge, looking decidedly lonely, so Danny takes it out, brings it with him into the living room, sinks into the couch that still seems out of place before opening the box.

He's gone without sleep before.

~~~

The second time he wakes it's to the distance sound of beeping, Danny fumbling for a moment before remembering where he is. Still on his couch, empty pizza box at his feet and the sound seems to grow louder.

His alarm, Danny realizes, cursing before pushing himself up, stumbling down the hall and into the bedroom. He hits the alarm with more force than was probably necessary.

He doesn't have curtains up yet, the window right next to his bed, so he's treated to what he thinks might be the first rays of sunshine he's seen since leaving New York.

He watches the light creep across the landscape for several seconds, turning away only upon realizing that he's standing in front of an open window, in his boxers, rows of walk-up apartments much like his own looking directly into his bedroom window.

On his way into the bathroom, he adds buying blinds to his list of things to do. Adds buying a shower curtain a second later, Danny cursing himself for not thinking about that yesterday.

Like yesterday, the floor is soaking wet by the time he steps out and reaches for his towel.

He's not really looking forward to going in to work today. He's not sure why, because it's not like it was as horrible as he first pictured. Sure, it was dull at times, downright boring at others, but occasionally things were slow in Missing Persons too and he knows every job has its ups and downs.

He still doesn't know much about his new colleagues. Aside from their brief introduction yesterday morning, he didn't see Harold for the rest of the day. He spoke to Mike and Maureen once, but they were on their way out the door, him and Martin on their way back in, so the conversation wasn't anything substantial.

And Martin, Martin seems like an okay guy. Maybe not Danny's first choice for a partner --although he suspects he's biased, because he always did like working with Vivian above and beyond anyone else. But he was okay, cold at first, still a little distant when Danny left the office, but underneath his obvious sense of propriety Danny suspects that Martin's actually a pretty decent person.

He thinks they might even be able to work together. If yesterday's interrogation was any indication, he suspects they might even work well together. Maybe even become friends.

Danny can't help but laugh at his last thought, trying and failing to picture him and Martin heading to a ball game or chatting over coffee. Oh, he can picture Martin stretched out naked on Danny's bed, maybe tied to the headboard with a pair of hideous ties like the one he was wearing yesterday, but for the life of him he can't picture being Martin's friend.

He has a few friends in New York. Not many and most of them not particularly close. Mostly he has acquaintances, people he spends time with, people he does stuff with, but his job --old job and Danny cringes at that-- didn't allow him much free time, so making friends never once became a priority.

He thinks maybe that's why he can't imagine himself befriending Martin, because it seems so foreign to Danny, the thought of actively seeking out an adult relationship that's not based on meaningless sex something Danny's never had to do before. Danny knows meaningless sex with Martin is out of the question, regardless of how much he wishes otherwise.

Dressed, Danny tells himself not to think about it, which he probably shouldn't be doing anyway, because Martin's obviously straight and, besides, he doesn't really know Martin --which wouldn't be a problem if Martin was just a guy, but Martin's actually Danny's new partner and Danny has a feeling there's no such thing as a one night stand without the anonymity that usually accompanies such things.

The lights in the hall are still flickering, but it's not as noticeable as it was last night, sunlight creeping up the staircase, coming in from the glass door and tiny rectangular window in the building's entrance way. Danny ignores them and heads downstairs.

He finds his landlord outside, Danny hesitating for half a second before making his way over to the small garden his landlord is currently preparing for winter.

"Danny Taylor," he says upon spotting Danny, accent still foreign to Danny's ears and Danny smiles by way of greeting.

"Morning. I don't suppose you happen to know where I could find a bus that goes downtown, do you?" Danny asks, his landlord pushing himself up off the grass, dusting off his knees before answering.

"I thought all you FBI-men drove shiny black cars," he says, Danny laughing and shaking his head. He gives directions, though, Danny listening attentively, mentally composing a map and as soon as his landlord's done talking, Danny gives his thanks and heads out.

As it turns out, the closest bus stop is only three blocks away, a quick walk, and as soon as Danny reaches the stop he pulls out his phone and saves four in his address book, labelling it bus so that he won't pull it up later and wonder at the single digit.

He's got five minutes according to the schedule on the side of the shelter, so Danny heads inside, checks the bench for gum before sitting, pulling his bag onto his lap before pulling out the first file.

It's still as boring as it was the first time, but Danny resolves himself to get through it. He may not like his new department, but that doesn't mean he's not going to do his job.

Chapter Text

He doesn't sleep most nights. Hasn't in months, actually, insomnia almost a nightly guarantee and, when he does manage to sleep, it's usually broken by nightmares. Last night was no exception.

As a result, he's usually the first one in in the mornings, the choice between staring at his bedroom ceiling and heading in to work an easy one.

There's still coffee in the pot, but Martin suspects it's likely been there since yesterday. He makes a fresh pot, adding two packages of grounds to the basket, wanting the strength and knowing that no one else will drink what he makes. Hours seem to pass before there's enough coffee in the pot to pour a cup.

Maureen's just getting in when he makes it into the office, Martin nodding his hello, earning a raised eyebrow because, once, Maureen would arrive hours before everyone else. Despite the fact that Martin's beat her in every morning since July, she still seems surprised when she finds him in before her.

She doesn't say anything, though, hanging her coat before sitting at her desk, booting her computer and Martin knows her focus has shifted to work.

He and Mike started with the department around the same time, and upon meeting Maureen, Martin was instantly intimidated by her. Her appearance belied her manner and it took almost a year before Martin was comfortable working with her. He can still remember being glad that it was Mike who had ended up her partner.

Tyler once told him that Maureen was initially brought in to head up the department, that she'd turned down the position, forcing them to seek out Harold. Martin still doesn't know why.

Harold arrives almost a half an hour later, looking just as out of sorts as he always does. He's forgotten his tie this morning, his collar tight around his neck, his jacket too short in the arms and Martin swallows the urge to chuckle.

Harold's appearance has always been unassuming, people often dismissing him because of it. It's probably the reason he's as effective as he is, people assuming his scattered appearance might extend to his mind. That's not the case. Harold is quite possibly the most intelligent man Martin's ever met.

He was first brought in as a consultant, after all, offered the job heading up the department without the mandatory training at Quantico, all because of his expertise in financial crime. To date he's considered one of the world's leading authorities on economic fraud, having published countless research papers on the topic. His fame in the academic community is one of the reasons he rarely leaves the office. His knowledge is one of the reasons he's so good at what he does.

It's close to eight-thirty by the time Danny finally makes it in, bag slung over his shoulder and he's carrying a banker's box filled with what Martin can only assume are his personal items. There's a Starbuck's coffee poking out of the box and Martin chuckles to himself, somehow not surprised that, despite being from New York, Danny's already fallen victim to Seattle's trends.

"Morning," Martin offers as soon as Danny reaches his desk, tone light and friendly.

It's something he decided last night, vowing this time to actually be nice, to try to make Danny feel welcome. Danny looks at him like he thinks Martin might have an ulterior motive. The sight leaves Martin slightly angry.

"You get through all of those?" Martin asks, nodding to the stack of case files Danny's currently pulling out of his bag. This time his tone is somewhat taunting.

"More or less," Danny answers, sounding defensive and Martin sighs to himself, being nice to Danny not as easy as he first thought it would be.

Martin doesn't answer, instead nodding, turning back to his computer, giving Danny a chance to unpack and get settled for the day. Officially the clock doesn't start ticking until nine, after all.

Which is exactly when Mike strolls in, looking smug in a way that suggests he spent the night getting laid. If Martin's really unlucky, he'll get to hear Mike bragging about it, describing some girl in perfect detail, expecting a pat on the back when all Martin will really want to do is hit him.

Mike, he thinks, is what is wrong with the male species. Martin should know, he's met his share of Mikes over the years and each and every time Martin's gotten hurt.

Shaking his head, Martin turns back to Danny, opening his mouth to suggest they get started for the day. The words freeze on his tongue, Danny's desk now covered in Danny's things and suddenly Martin knows more about Danny than he suspected he ever would.

There's a signed baseball enclosed in glass sitting next to his monitor, the bulletin board behind him covered in police insignia patches, as well as several worn, slightly faded photographs that Martin suspects might be from Danny's family's collection.

Two degrees are perched almost precariously on top of the filling cabinet to his right, leaning against the wall, not hung properly. One's from Quantico, the other a law degree and Martin can't help but wonder how Danny ended up with the Bureau.

He doesn't ask, Martin tearing his gaze away from Danny's things, meeting Danny's eyes and Danny's watching him, staring like he's half expecting Martin to comment on something he sees. Martin swallows before speaking.

"Um... that insurance fraud case from yesterday, Harold wants us to run what we have over to the DA's office. He thinks we might have enough to prosecute," Martin says, Danny nodding, standing and reaching for his jacket before Martin even processes the fact that they'll have to leave the office to seek out the DA.

The second he does, he stands, Danny already into his jacket, coffee in hand and Martin smiles sheepishly before reaching for his own jacket, leaving his cold, half finished coffee on his desk before leading them out of the office.

~~~

They pull out of the parking garage onto a one-way street, Martin easily merging into traffic. The courthouse isn't far, but it's not close enough to walk to, especially given the six boxes full of evidence currently occupying the trunk.

Almost eight months of work and this is the part Martin likes best; handing it all over, clearing it off their plate so that they can move on to something else. Tyler used to insist they go out to celebrate each and every time a case cleared. Martin hasn't decided whether he should extend an invitation to Danny.

Danny hasn't spoken since they left the office, seeming content to watch the passing of Seattle's downtown through his passenger side window. Martin can tell he's slightly overwhelmed, likely trying to memorize the route so that he can get there when he eventually takes his turn at driving.

Martin's been to New York several times, so he knows how immense the city is. Seattle is nowhere near the size of New York, but it's laid out differently, hills obstructing views and Martin spent the better part of a year getting lost when he first transferred to the city.

"Have you been to Seattle before?" Martin finds himself asking, breaking the heavy silence that has settled over the car. Danny glances over before answering.

"No, this is my first time," he answers, honestly, but his tone hints at his unwillingness to be here.

"It's an okay city, once you get to know it," Martin tells him, Danny nodding like he expected as much. His expression tells Martin he doesn't necessarily agree.

It leaves Martin not knowing what else to say, so once again he finds himself lapsing into silence, Danny doing the same and the ride to the courthouse seems to take twice as long as it usually does.

By the time they pull into the underground parking garage, the tension in the car is tangible.

It's a relief, then, to climb out of the car, the DA sending two interns down to meet them, Martin directing them to the trunk, popping it open and standing back so that they can begin unloading boxes.

They manage four between them, Danny not hesitating before grabbing his own box, leaving Martin with one and Martin balances it on his hip so that he can close the trunk and lock the car.

They take the service elevator up, Danny shifting awkwardly beside him, obviously uncomfortable with the knowledge that he doesn't know where he is going. Martin's struck with the sudden memory of his first week and he finds himself almost feeling sorry for Danny.

He's tempted to say something, tell Danny that eventually all of this will become second nature. He doesn't think Danny will appreciate hearing the words, though, so instead he remains silent, waiting until the elevator doors slide open before heading out, leading the way down a long hall walled on one side by towering glass windows.

~~~

As it turned out, they did have enough to prosecute. More than enough, actually, the DA's eyes practically lighting up at the evidence Martin placed before him. Suddenly Martin felt very much like celebrating.

He suggested it on their way out, Danny taking the lead and twice they had to backtrack before finding the elevator. Martin kept silent, knowing Danny wouldn't appreciate being given directions.

Danny seemed surprised at the offer, hesitating for half a second before turning Martin down, mentioning that he still had unpacking to do and Martin let the subject drop. There was no reason he couldn't go out and celebrate on his own.

They're halfway back to the office when Danny suggests they could stop for lunch instead.

Martin's stomach growls at the suggestion, Danny laughing at the sound, glancing over to arch an eyebrow that Martin meets with a shrug.

He takes them to Harried and Hungry, a cafe not far from the Bureau offices. So close, in fact, that it probably would have been easier to park at the Bureau and walk. Martin parks on the street instead, risking a ticket, hoping the local police will recognize a Bureau sedan and assume they're there on business.

The lunch time crowd is just forming when they get inside, the line already snaking down to the far end of the counter. Martin steps in behind a man he thinks he recognizes from Counter-intelligence, Danny falling into place behind him, standing close enough that Martin could lean back and brush against his chest.

Danny, Martin is quickly learning, seems to be oblivious to personal space.

It takes them nearly ten minutes to make it to the front of the line, place their orders and get their food. The place is small, limited seating lining the outside wall, all of the chairs occupied, so Martin suggests they stand at a counter lining the front window. Danny agrees, following Martin back to the front of the cafe.

Standing space is limited too, so three times Martin ends up bumping elbows with Danny, muttering a half apology every time that Danny doesn't seem to feel is necessary. He looks amused, anyway, shrugging off each incident like he's used to close quarters and not bothered by the fact that he barely knows Martin.

There's a slight buzz in the air, conversation on either side of them, most of it hushed to the point of background noise. Silence resonates between them.

Danny breaks it first, finishing half of his sandwich before putting it down, reaching for a handful of napkins that he uses to wipe his mouth and dry wash his hands.

"Why didn't we come here yesterday?" Danny asks, glancing over, tilting his body, his hip pressing into the counter in the process.

Martin flashes back to yesterday's interrogation, Danny's expression looking very much the same as it did then.

"I don't know, why?" Martin decides on, knowing full well that the best way to end a line of questioning is to ask questions.

"This is infinitely better than the crap they serve in the cafeteria," Danny answers, gesturing to his sandwich, picking it up a second later and biting into it as if to emphasize his point.

When he sets it down again, his lip is stained with mustard and Martin has to fight not to point it out.

The crowd is beginning to thin by the time they finish, Martin glancing at Danny, waiting for a nod before gathering his trash, depositing it in the garbage can by the door on his way outside. He makes it halfway to the car --no ticket and sometimes Martin loves his job-- when Danny speaks, the sound so unexpected that Martin completely misses what it was Danny said.

"Sorry?" he asks, feeling like a moron. Fortunately Danny doesn't seem to mind Martin's lapse in concentration.

"I said I was going to walk. It's three blocks that way, right?" Danny repeats, gesturing in the direction of the Bureau and Martin finds himself frowning.

"You're going to walk?" Martin clarifies, and now Danny is looking at him like he thinks Martin might be a little slow.

Martin doesn't care, because getting back to the Bureau garage will take navigating around the block just to avoid the one-way streets and how dare Danny leave him to do that on his own; they're supposed to be partners.

"I need to stop somewhere," Danny explains, Martin arching an eyebrow and Danny sighs before elaborating. "I need to pick up a shower curtain, okay?"

He looks so earnest then that Martin can't help but laugh, feeling bad the second the sound escapes his lips because of course Danny's not settled and might need to use his lunch hour to get his life in order.

"You won't find anything on the way. Come on, we have to swing around the block anyway, so I can take us past a Bed, Bath and Beyond," Martin offers, Danny looking at him skeptically before finally nodding, climbing into the car and Martin waits until he's inside before shaking his head.

~~~

Danny's thumbing through the last file in his pile when Martin finally glances over.

The afternoon has been slow, to say the least. Nothing new has come in and none of their open cases have moved forward. It leaves them stuck with retracing old leads, double checking to make sure nothing was missed. So far Martin's spent the better part of two hours tracing bank account connections on an embezzlement case that implicates several high ranking US senators.

"So let me get this straight; there's an insurance fraud case, which we closed this morning. A money laundering case that's currently being held up by Organized Crimes. An embezzlement case that's being blocked by the very government that wanted it opened in the first place. And a pyramid scheme that targets little old grandmothers. Am I missing anything?" Danny asks, closing the file on his desk, crossing his arms across his chest before leaning back into his chair.

Martin smiles somewhat apologetically before answering. "That would about cover it," he says, watching Danny shake his head, trying not to let himself become irritated by Danny's attitude.

"What about that file?" Danny asks, pointing to a manila folder resting on the corner of Martin's desk, Martin glancing at it only briefly before answering.

"Nothing important," Martin says, words cold and he can tell Danny's about to argue. Martin glances up before he can, glaring until he's certain Danny will drop the matter.

For a second he thinks Danny might argue, but instead he merely holds up his hands, shakes his head before standing.

"I'm going across the street to get some coffee. You want one?" he asks, Martin shaking his head, Danny shrugging before reaching for his jacket.

Martin waits until he's out of sight before pulling the file Danny pointed out to the centre of his desk and flipping it open, Tyler's picture pinned to the inside of the folder.

It was the case they were working on. The case that got Tyler shot. A case that probably should have originally gone to Organized Crimes. A case they should have transferred out of the department the second the scope of it became clear.

It's a case Martin doesn't like to think about. A case Harold ordered him to hand over shortly after Tyler's death. Martin hasn't. It's his case and solving it is the least he owes Tyler, even if that means having to work on it in his free time.

Chapter Text

Someone once told him that the first week is always the hardest.

That's true of so many things; it was true his first week in the foster care system, true his first week of law school, true the first week he quit drinking, true his first week at the Academy, and true his first week in Missing Persons. So as the week comes to a close, Danny can only hope that his second week in White Collar Crimes will be easier than his first.

The week hasn't been that bad, though, and if he's honest he has to admit that Martin's a fairly good teacher. He's patient, anyway, walking Danny through procedure while still giving him broader insight into the way things work.

He's not as good as Vivian was, a thousand times better than Jack was --Sam too new at the time to train, so Danny can't compare Martin to her. By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, Danny's actually starting to get the hang of things.

He feels more settled, too, which he suspects is part of the reason the job feels easier. He's not completely unpacked, but he now has blinds on his windows, a shower curtain up in his bathroom, a living room that actually looks like a living room and dishes in his cupboards. He even broke down and ordered groceries online, having them delivered, the fee nowhere near as expensive as he first feared.

All things considered, the last five days have been rather productive.

He's even starting to get along better with Martin.

They had their first fight on Thursday, a new case coming in, this one just as tedious as the others and when Danny complained about it, Martin told him in no uncertain terms that if he didn't like the work he should put in a request for a transfer.

It was the first time in a long time that someone's actually told Danny off. Danny can't help but respect Martin for doing it.

Not that everything is perfect, at least, not yet, Martin still slightly closed off, obviously hiding things from Danny and Danny doesn't like that. Trust works two ways, after all, and Danny's not going to let himself fully trust Martin until Martin starts trusting him.

He's gotten to know the rest of the team a little better, too. Maureen he automatically connected with, something that he thinks might have surprised Martin. She reminds him of his third foster mother; strict in a caring way and Danny still credits Mrs. Evans for preventing him from ending up a heroin addict like his brother. He even stopped drinking during the year he was living in her house.

He likes Harold too, despite the fact that he hasn't really gotten a chance to know the man. He seems almost a recluse, spending most of his day locked away in his office, working on whatever it is he spends his day working on --and Danny doesn't think anyone in the office actually knows. He's brilliant, though, that much Danny is sure of, bringing new insight to each of their cases whenever he does manage to make it out of his office.

Mike he doesn't like, something that Martin seems to approve of. He knows Martin has some connection to Mike, something outside of the department, but it's one of the many things Martin won't share with him, so Danny has no idea what that connection might be.

For a while he thought maybe they were exes, but after talking to Mike, Danny quickly came to realize that Mike is the kind of guy who would shoot himself before letting another man touch him. Danny's never been fond of homophobic assholes, which he suspects is part of the reason Mike already grates on his nerves.

Martin's the hardest of the team to read, despite the fact that Danny spends the majority of his time with him. There's something familiar about him, though, something that Danny can't quite place and he wonders if maybe he's actually met Martin before.

He doesn't think so --at least, Danny's fairly certain he would remember something like that-- but occasionally Martin will say something, do something and a wave of deja-vu will wash over him. It's a strange sensation, to say the least.

Today they're working on their latest case, an anti-trust case that implicates several Seattle based technology companies. It's the case Martin snapped at him over, so Danny's doing his best to read through what little details they have without looking bored.

It's a difficult task, though, because so far they have nothing but allegations, no concrete evidence and that means going through financial records and price lists, trying to tie pieces of the puzzle together so that they can move forward. Halfway through Danny remembers why he didn't go into accounting.

Needless to say, it's quite possibly the most boring thing Danny's ever done.

He's taken to drinking coffee like it is water, the caffeine making him slightly twitchy, but he'll take twitchy over an afternoon spent yawning. Danny has a feeling Martin might actually do something drastic if he catches Danny yawning --something like marching Danny into Harold's office and drafting Danny's transfer request for him.

Still, it's a bad case for a Friday afternoon, the hours dragging and more often than not Danny finds himself drifting.

He spends a significant amount of time planning his weekend --something that he's still not used to, because weekends were few and far between when he was working in Missing Persons. He should probably spend at least a little time unpacking the few boxes still scattered about his apartment, maybe head over to St. James Cathedral for Mass on Saturday. He still needs to figure out where the closest AA meetings are, maybe get in contact with his new sponsor --although Danny suspects he'll likely put that off, not really wanting to start that process all over again, despite his old sponsor's glowing recommendation.

He should probably check out a little of the city too, maybe try meeting some people so that he can actually get laid while he's here.

He spends the rest of the time thinking about Martin, wondering exactly how much Martin is hiding from him. There's his history with Mike, the file on his desk that Martin keeps telling him isn't important --and Danny's asked, several times. Martin won't share anything personal, either, Danny knowing nothing about the guy outside of a professional setting. Granted, Martin doesn't know anything about Danny's personal life either, but that's largely because he hasn't asked. Danny, on the other hand, has.

"God, we're chasing unicorns here," Martin suddenly says, startling Danny from his thoughts and Danny frowns before glancing up.

"Chasing what?" he asks, Martin rubbing his forehead before dropping his hands down onto the desk with a dull thud.

"It's an expression in White Collar. It means there's nothing to substantiate the claims, no trail to follow. We still have to look into it, but nothing ever comes of these cases," Martin explains, pushing the papers beneath his hands to the back of his desk, standing and stretching and Danny suddenly realizes that he's not the only one frustrated by the slow pace.

"Maybe we're approaching this wrong. Maybe instead of looking for correlation in the numbers, we should look for proof that the companies are conspiring. Emails, phone calls, meetings. Numbers on a paper, they don't mean anything, but when people commit crimes, they tend to leave a trail," Danny suggests, Martin glancing over, expression appraising and when he nods Danny can't help but feel just a little proud.

In truth he's just doing his job, or at least, what used to be his job. People were always the key to finding a missing person and Danny's not sure why that theory hasn't been applied here.

"Okay, let's compile a list of who would have the authority to do something like this, then look into each person on the list," Martin agrees, Danny feeling useful for the first time since he arrived.

~~~

They don't get far before the end of the day, but they do have the start of their list, names on paper actually giving them some direction and Danny's almost reluctant to leave.

Overtime doesn't happen here, though, unless it's sanctioned by a superior and no one's seen Harold since this morning. His office is locked and dark, so there's a chance he's still hidden inside. Martin refused to knock, eyes growing wide when Danny offered to do it.

Martin tells him not to worry about it, that the case will still be here when they get back on Monday. Danny can't quite wrap his head around that, not used to having cases accommodating themselves to a nine-to-five schedule.

He doesn't argue, though, instead locking the file in his filing cabinet, gathering his coat and bag before heading toward the elevator.

Martin follows him on, something that surprises Danny, because Martin usually leaves after him, something that Danny's asked about, but Martin has yet to give him a straight answer, usually brushing the question off by telling Danny that he's just tying up loose ends.

"Big plans this weekend?" Martin asks the second the elevator doors slide shut, twisting to make eye contact and Danny laughs before answering.

"That depends. Is there anything decent to do in this city?" Danny asks, keeping his tone neutral, not wanting another lecture for sounding unenthused.

Martin seems to consider the question for a moment and Danny suddenly finds himself wondering what Martin spends his weekends doing. He probably has a girlfriend, maybe even a wife and a couple of kids. He seems like the type, anyway, and Danny can almost picture him going home to a house in the suburbs, complete with a white picket fence.

"You could check out the market. That's always pretty cool," Martin finally answers, seeming almost nervous, like he's half expecting Danny to scoff at him for something he considers fun.

Danny's tempted to, but he's heard about Pike Place, so he knows Martin's likely telling the truth, that the place really is worth checking out.

"Yeah, thanks, I'll see if I can squeeze it in," Danny replies, the elevator bouncing slightly as it stops and Martin nods before turning back to the doors.

He steps forward even before they open, pausing once he makes it into the hall, turning back to watch Danny exit the elevator and for a second Danny swears Martin's going to invite him out again.

Instead he shakes his head, mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like goodnight before heading toward stairs that lead down to the parking garage.

Danny watches him go before heading out the front, crossing the street to catch his bus.

~~~

He's just setting foot in his front door when his cell rings.

He finds himself tensing, the same way he used to at the end of a case, more often than not Danny arriving home just to be called back in again.

He laughs a little at that, scolding himself because he was just complaining about having a free weekend and now he's worried that it might be taken away from him. Pulling out his cell, Danny finds himself smiling, Vivian's name appearing on call display and Danny's smile shifts to a grin as he answers.

"Vivalina," he says into the receiver, Vivian chuckling on the other side of the line and Danny's struck with a sudden sense of loneliness.

He misses Vivian; misses Jack and Sam too, so preoccupied by getting settled that he didn't realize just how much until now.

Hearing Vivian's voice brings him right back to New York, though, and when Danny closes his eyes he can almost picture his old apartment. For a moment, it even smells the same.

"Sorry, what?" Danny asks upon realizing that he's just missed Vivian's comment. He opens his eyes to stark white and the sense of loneliness increases tenfold.

"Is this a bad time?" Vivian questions, clearly concerned and, that, Danny thinks, is what he misses most about her.

"I've always got time for you, Viv," he answers, toeing off his shoes before heading into his living room, sinking onto the couch, phone pressed tight to his ear as he listens to Vivian scold him for trying to be smooth.

"So how's Seattle treating you?" Vivian asks after a moment, pleasantries out of the way and of course she called to check up on him. Vivian wouldn't be Vivian if she hadn't.

"It's not too bad. It's not New York, but I'm getting used to it. I even got a cute partner out of the deal," Danny tells her, knowing that she'll likely hear what he's not saying.

She won't bring it up, though; that's never been Vivian's style. She'll find a way to emphasize the good, though, until eventually Danny will start seeing what she wants him to see. Reggie, Danny thinks, is very lucky to have her as a mother.

"Ah, cute partner. Okay, spill," Vivian replies, tone light and Danny can't help but smile at how well he knows her.

"Well, he's okay, anyway. His name's Martin Fitzgerald and he..."

"Wait, Martin Fitzgerald?" Vivian interrupts, Danny frowning because it sounds a lot like Vivian knows the guy.

"You know him?" he asks, sitting up, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees.

"Martin Fitzgerald? As in, Victor Fitzgerald's son?" Vivian responds and suddenly Danny knows exactly what it is about Martin that's so familiar.

He even looks like a younger version of his father and oh...

"Shit," Danny replies, not quite sure how he missed it. Not quite sure what he's going to do about it because Danny never once considered the possibility that the biggest secret Martin was hiding was his father.

"You didn't know? Look, Danny, I'm sure he's a good guy," Vivian tells him, clearly back-pedalling and Danny nods absently.

He's not capable of responding, though, because he's met Victor Fitzgerald three times in his career and how the hell is he supposed to trust a man whose father is the Deputy Director of the FBI.

"Danny..."

Danny blocks out most of what Vivian's saying, key words like sins of the father not extending to the son passing in one ear and out the other. Victor and his issues with Jack Malone is one of the main reasons OPR broke up the team.

"Look, Viv, I got to go," Danny says after a while, Vivian protesting, but Danny assures her that he's fine, that he won't let this new information change anything.

Hanging up, Danny's not entirely certain that's possible.

Chapter Text

He hates waiting.

Always has, impatience one of his less attractive qualities, Martin knows, but he doesn't really care.

He's been in since six, after all, another sleepless night and Martin's just thankful for the arrival of Monday, weekends providing too much time for thought and Martin likes having something to occupy his mind.

Work's a better alternative to thinking, anyway; a better alternative to replaying everything he should have done and everything he could have done and Martin hates that he's still dreaming about it.

Shortly after Tyler died, Harold sent him to see the Bureau psychiatrist. She told him that it wasn't his fault, that there was nothing he could have done to prevent Tyler's death. Martin's not so sure. They shouldn't have been there in the first place, after all; should have called for backup the second what was supposed to be a simple interview turned into a potential arrest.

He's been thinking about it a lot this past week.

He knows it has a lot to do with Danny, Martin still adjusting to having a new partner; still slightly uncomfortable having someone sit in Tyler's desk and it's no wonder Martin's dreams have become increasingly frequent.

The lead came in at seven.

It's close to eight-thirty now, Martin still waiting for Danny to show up. He hasn't, yet. Technically he's not due in until nine, but Martin was hoping he would be early. Tyler would have been early.

Danny doesn't show up until quarter to.

The second Martin spots him he's out of his chair, practically sprinting across the room to meet Danny halfway. As soon as Danny sees him his eyes narrow, mouth pressing into a thin line that Martin chooses to ignore.

"It's about time," Martin says, not waiting for a reply before grabbing Danny by the arm, all but dragging him across the room until Martin reaches the side of his desk. Danny's mouth twists into a frown.

"We got a lead on that money laundering case," Martin tells him, Danny's frown shifting to something that suggests confusion and Martin sighs before elaborating. "Organized Crime. We were waiting on them."

Danny nods at that, frown still firmly in place and Martin finds himself mirroring Danny's expression, not quite certain what to make of Danny's sudden mood shift.

"They got a hit on a guy out in L.A. Our flight leaves in an hour," Martin tells him, deciding to stick to the case, focusing on work easier than trying to puzzle out Danny's mood.

Danny doesn't react. He's still frowning, waiting like he's expecting something more and Martin tells himself that he's not disappointed. He's not sure what he was expecting, but this isn't it. He thought Danny would be excited, thrilled by the prospect of doing something. Instead Danny just looks angry.

Martin finds himself irritated, because he can't for the life of him figure out what he's done to warrant Danny's sudden distance. He thought they'd gotten past this, their fight on Thursday seeming to work and Martin was sure Danny's attitude was behind them.

Obviously that's not the case and Martin finds himself wondering if maybe Danny's changed his mind. If he came in this morning intending to put in that transfer request after all and, if that's the case, he should have said something before Martin went on about an active case.

Danny's still standing next to him, watching Martin with wary eyes and Martin finds himself wanting to break the awkward silence between them. At this point he's not even that worried about offending Danny, because obviously this isn't what Danny was looking for and if he's going to leave the department he should just leave and be done with it.

"Look, is there a problem I don't know about? Because if this isn't exciting enough for you..."

"Who's your father?"

The rest of what Martin was going to say freezes on his tongue, Danny's question taking him aback and of all the things Martin expected Danny to say, never once did he consider Danny asking that particular question.

Suddenly Danny's newfound hostility makes sense.

"You didn't know?" Martin still asks, surprised that anyone might not. It's not exactly a secret. In fact, Martin could have sworn the entire Bureau knew. Obviously he was wrong.

"Who?" Danny repeats, and this time it's a demand, his tone forceful, anger flashing in his eyes and Martin sighs before answering.

"He's the Deputy Director, and whatever problem you have with him, rest assured that I have just as many," Martin replies, his words colder than he intended.

He can't help it, though, anger settling in his chest. Martin can't tell if he's angry at Danny for thinking so little of him, or at his father for instilling this kind of hatred in a Bureau employee. A little of both, he suspects.

Either way, he hates that it always comes down to this. That it's come down to this his entire life, Martin constantly having to fight to get out from under his father's shadow and just once Martin would like to be judged on his own merit.

He can't even really blame Danny for not being able to. No one else seems to be able to.

Ignoring the urge to defend himself, Martin turns back to his desk, blocking out Danny's accusing eyes in the process. He gathers his coat before releasing an even breath that leaves him nowhere near calm.

When he turns back around, Danny's still watching him. Martin can practically feel himself bristle.

"We have a flight to catch. Are you coming, or should I find someone else to bring?" Martin asks, not waiting for a reply before walking away, heading toward the elevators, hating that everything in his life keeps coming back to Victor Fitzgerald.

He makes it halfway across the room before he notices Danny following him, Martin turning to face him, arching an eyebrow, otherwise remaining silent.

"I'm coming," is all Danny says, simple words but Martin can tell the matter isn't settled.

~~~

They haven't really spoken.

Not on the short drive to the airport. Not waiting to board the plane. Not even waiting for cross-check and Martin's torn between needing to say something and being terrified that anything he says might send Danny running.

He thinks it's because he likes Danny. Genuinely likes him --he's a good guy, a good agent, but it's more than that. Martin was actually starting to get used to the idea of them being partners.

It's stupid, he knows, because Danny's only been around a week and Martin doesn't really know the guy. Obviously Danny doesn't know him either, because if he did he wouldn't be brooding in silence, puzzling over exactly what it might mean to be partnered with Victor Fitzgerald's son.

Martin hasn't spoken to his father in years. Not since he first moved to Seattle, anyway. His father doesn't know him; doesn't really want to know him and Martin's more than fine with that.

Danny doesn't know that, though. In fact, Danny probably assumes that Martin's just like Victor, wanting nothing more than a free ride to the top on his family name and Martin knows Danny won't be the last to make that assumption. He's certainly not the first, well over half the people Martin meets automatically dismissing him because of his lineage.

Martin was hoping Danny would be different.

They're sitting over the wing, so the sudden roar of the engines is almost overwhelming, Martin wincing at the intensity of the noise. Beside him Danny tenses.

It's slight, something Martin probably wouldn't have noticed if he wasn't paying attention. He is, though, still trying to figure out exactly what he can say to make things right. What he can do to prove to Danny that he's nothing like his father.

He turns to tell Danny exactly that, but the second he takes in Danny's appearance --cheeks pale, hands curled around the armrest, knuckles white from pressure-- the words are lost, Martin not quite able to process this information.

It's something he wasn't expecting, anyway, Danny's eyes locked straight ahead on the seat in front of him and Martin never would have pictured Danny as someone afraid to fly. He was starting to suspect the only thing that might frighten Danny was the prospect of being bored to death.

Strangely, Martin's no longer worrying about his father.

"Did you make it to the market?" Martin finds himself asking, idle conversation that should probably feel out of place, but doesn't.

Danny doesn't seem to think it's odd either, relaxing the second he hears Martin's voice and Martin congratulates himself for remembering that particular trick. His sister used to be terrified to fly, forcing Martin to distract her with conversation every time they flew together.

"No. I didn't get a chance," Danny tells him, releasing a breath before glancing over, knuckles still white, but he looks almost thankful. It's certainly better than the cold suspicion Martin was starting to think might become a permanent expression.

"I'm sorry you didn't know about my dad," Martin finds himself saying, his words obviously surprising Danny. Still, Danny cocks his head to the side, silently telling Martin to continue. "I just assumed everyone knew, you know?"

"You still should have told me," Danny answers, but his words lack the same ice they did before, so Martin finds himself hopeful.

The plane lurches, beginning it's descent down the runway and Danny glances away, looking down into his lap, only then noticing his hands, prying his fingers off the armrest, folding them neatly together and placing them in his lap.

The roar of the engines is deafening now, the cabin shaking with pressure, Danny's eyes closing and they bounce several times before being their ascent, the force of it pressing Martin into his seat. Danny's knuckles are once again white. Martin doesn't think before leaning across the seats.

"Just so you know; I'm not my father," he says, speaking right into Danny's ear and Danny's eyes actually fly open.

He glances over a second later, expression slightly shocked, like he wasn't expecting Martin's response --or maybe he just wasn't expecting Martin's invasion of space. Either way, by the time his shock fades, the plane is beginning to level.

Oddly, Danny no longer looks terrified. Or angry.

~~~

No two money laundering cases are the same. That's one of the first things Tyler taught him. This particular case is connected to drugs --methamphetamines that were traced back to Thailand. Money's being laundered out of the country through underground Asian banks, the entire thing so well coordinated that it can only be attributed to gang involvement.

That is the extent of what six months worth of work has told him.

Organized Crimes think they might have narrowed it down to a group called the Sun Yee On, a triad out of Hong Kong known to have chapters throughout California and Washington State. Finding someone on the inside has proven more difficult than Martin first anticipated.

Until now, that is, Danny's interrogation skills earning them several names, two of which seem to have connections to the Sun Yee On and it's the first break in longer than Martin can remember.

The L.A. offices have tracked them down, which is why Martin's currently blinking against too bright sunlight.

Beside him Danny pulls out a pair of sunglasses, slipping them on without thought and Martin curses himself for not thinking to bring a pair. He doesn't have much occasion to wear them in Seattle.

They spent the rest of the flight going over the case details. Danny was still a little cold, but he actually listened to what Martin had to say, even added his own insight into the case. Still, Martin has a feeling it'll take a while before Danny stops seeing Victor in Martin's place.

He doesn't exactly know what his father did to warrant Danny's anger, but knowing his father, Martin's not surprised. His dad has always been good at making enemies.

"Remind me again why the Bureau wouldn't approve a rental car?" Danny asks, shifting until he's leaning against the side of the terminal, expression hidden behind dark lenses.

"Organized Crimes are supposed to be sending someone over to pick us up," Martin reminds him, but their plane landed twenty minutes ago and so far no one's shown up.

The second he says it he spots the car, a black sedan complete with light affixed to its roof.

"Speaking of the devil," Martin says, stepping forward, Danny joining him on the curb.

Martin has his id out before the car comes to a complete stop, the agent behind the wheel nodding before gesturing for them to enter. Martin takes the front, leaving Danny to slide into the back.

"Agent Fitzgerald. This is Agent Taylor," Martin says by way of introduction, sliding his id back into the breast pocket of his suit.

"You're late," Danny adds from the backseat, earning a glare through the rear view mirror. Martin shakes his head.

"Agent Cooper," the driver tells them, pulling out of the airport, onto the freeway and Martin's only been to L.A. twice, but he's fairly certain they're heading in the wrong direction.

"Aren't the offices back that way?" Martin asks, suddenly wondering if they should have asked Agent Cooper for id.

"I was under the understanding that you two were to be in on this operation," Cooper replies, pulling off the freeway at an exit Martin doesn't recognize.

"Operation?" Danny asks from the backseat, leaning forward to bring himself closer to the front of the car.

"Two suspected members of the Sun Yee On, right? We've got SWAT in place. Just waiting for you two to arrive before we make the arrest.

Martin's dimly aware that, behind him, Danny's smiling. He's not quite capable of processing more than that, though. He was under the assumption that they were here to conduct an interview, not make arrests.

As they turn a corner, heading deeper into a neighbourhood Martin doesn't recognize, Martin's half tempted to tell Cooper to turn around.

Chapter Text

This is what he's been waiting for.

Just this. The chance to do something that isn't sitting behind a desk poring over financial documents and tracing wire transfers. This is the kind of thing he's good at, the kind of thing he did almost daily in Missing Persons and Danny can't quite suppress a grin.

They haven't slowed down yet, though, the streets still clear of any kind of police activity, so Danny forces himself to relax. It's not quite as easy a task as it used to be, adrenalin already pumping and Danny's tempted to jump out of the car and race to the scene.

They turn yet another corner before he spots it; the familiar flicker of lights, blue pulsing against red and Danny shifts forward in his seat.

In front of him, Martin shifts back.

This is probably something new for Martin, Danny imagines, something he's never had to do before and Danny can't help but wonder if Victor was somehow responsible for Martin ending up with this job --can't help but wonder if this is one of the problems Martin mentioned having with his father.

It would make sense, anyway, and Danny finds himself wanting to believe Martin. Mostly, he just wants to forget that Vivian ever told him --despite knowing that he would have found out eventually-- because Martin doesn't seem like a bad guy. He certainly doesn't seem like the spawn of Victor Fitzgerald and maybe the apple does fall far from the tree. Danny certainly hopes so.

There's not much he can do either way, though, so Danny tells himself not to think about it. If it comes up, it comes up; until then they have a case to focus on.

The second the car stops Danny climbs out, easing his gun out of his holster before moving around behind the vehicle. Agent Copper climbs out of the car a moment later, glancing in Danny's direction, his expression slightly perplexed, like he's not entirely certain what Danny's doing. Danny offers him a smirk.

"You're not actually making the arrest, you know," Cooper tells him, chuckling like it's the best joke he's told all day and Danny resists the urge to growl.

Instead he lets his smirk shift to a grin, not quite willing to let this opportunity pass him by, not when it means doing something useful for once.

"Just in case," Danny tells him, Cooper shaking his head and Danny ignores him, choosing to turn his attention to the scene instead, glancing around to assess the situation.

Several unmarked Bureau sedans line the front half of the block, their car parked among them. SWAT's in position on the other side of the street, several LAPD patrol cars blocking the two intersections on either side of the block. Glancing up, Danny seeks out the snipers he knows are lining the roofs of the surrounding buildings. He spots only two, but he suspects there are at least two more hidden beyond his line of sight. There's an ambulance parked around the corner, close enough to help, but far enough away to avoid damage.

Danny had no idea the Sun Yee On were such serious business, the entire block reminisce of a war zone.

He feels the car shift, Danny glancing over to find Martin settling in beside him, clutching his weapon like he does his morning coffee. His eyes are wide, face pale, lips dry and he keeps licking them like it might help to restore moisture.

Danny finds himself wondering if Martin's ever participated in a bust before.

"You okay?" he asks, surprised to find he's actually concerned.

He's trying not to care, after all, not really wanting to like Martin. Especially not on the off chance that Martin might turn out to be exactly like his father. He's willing to give Martin the benefit of the doubt, but until Martin proves himself, Danny's not willing to let himself get attached.

"Yeah, I'm good," Martin answers, but he's not paying attention, dismissing Danny's question like he hasn't actually registered it.

Danny frowns, glancing out over the scene once more before turning back to Martin.

"SWAT's going to take care of everything anyway. We just get to sit out here and look pretty," Danny jokes, trying to lighten the mood.

Martin doesn't seem to notice.

It's almost like he's not really there. Like he's drifted off to another place, another time, and Danny can't help but wonder if his original assessment was wrong. Maybe Martin has done this before. And maybe there's a reason Martin doesn't want to do it again.

It's something Danny doubts he'll ever know, Martin obviously not the kind of guy to open up about these things. Whatever his reason, Danny's no longer as excited as he originally was.

The thought is interrupted by the sound of Agent Cooper's radio, static blaring and Danny glances over just in time to catch a gesture from an agent he doesn't know. After that, everything seems to happen at once.

Sound fills the street, SWAT moving in, crashing through the door of a squat apartment building down the street. Seconds seem to bleed into minutes, the street once again falling silent, becoming so hushed that Danny can actually hear the dull pounding of his heart.

It seems to stretch on for an eternity, Danny practically vibrating with energy, wanting nothing more than to follow SWAT inside. Beside him Martin is still tense, eyes locked straight ahead, though whether he's seeing the scene unfold, Danny can't tell.

A second later, the silence is disrupted by gunfire.

Beside him, Martin flinches.

He moves forward, though, along with every other agent positioned around them. They move in unison, a sea of men in suits, guns drawn, inching out from behind cars and heading toward the building.

Danny doesn't think he's ever seen Martin so focused.

They make it as far as the front doors before SWAT appears, six men dragging two between them, one of the men bleeding from a wound on his shoulder, hands secured behind his back.

Danny lowers his weapon and tells himself not to be disappointed.

"These our guys?" he asks, getting a nod from one of the SWAT members, biting his tongue to keep from giving an order.

He wants to, but this isn't his jurisdiction, Organized Crimes still running the show and, technically, he and Martin are only here as a courtesy. It ruffles, though, Danny not used to coordinating with other departments and it takes all of his willpower not to take over.

Instead he steps aside, letting a pair of local agents drag the men off to waiting cars and medical attention. Danny watches them go, telling himself that, if they're lucky, they'll get to sit in on the interview, maybe even conduct it. He's not holding his breath, though, but he can't complain, the morning far more exciting than he was expecting and Danny's starting to think that maybe he was wrong about White Collar Crimes.

It's only after the men disappear from sight that Danny notices Martin. Martin's still standing in the middle of the street, staring at the building, looking more than just a little shell-shocked and Danny holsters his gun before approaching. He makes it to Martin's side, placing a tentative hand on Martin's arm, waiting for Martin to glance over and make eye contact before speaking.

"You still with me?" Danny asks, Martin snapping out of whatever trance he was in, stepping back, shaking his arm free and Danny lets his now useless hand fall back to his side.

"I said I was good," Martin answers, tone curt and Danny doesn't get a chance to respond, Martin heading back the way they came, shoulders squared and he looks so much like the Victor Danny's met that Danny almost forgets his vow to give Martin a chance.

~~~

They don't conduct the interview.

In fact, they don't even get to sit in on it, relegated to watching through the glass and Danny's starting to wonder why they're here. All of this could have been done without them and Danny can't help but feel frustrated at what is quickly becoming a useless trip.

"This is ridiculous," Danny mumbles, half to himself, but Martin obviously hears, tilting his head to question the statement. "They're not asking the right questions. This guy isn't going to fold," Danny explains, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the situation.

The second guy is still in hospital, having a bullet removed from his shoulder. He pulled a gun, Danny's heard, which was why he was shot, but it means they won't be able to interview him until the doctors clear him. In the end it amounts to more delays in a case that, as far as Danny's concerned, has already been delayed enough.

"Come on, we're not going to learn anything here that we can't read in the transcript. Let's go grab some food," Martin suggests, the first thing he's said since they left the scene and Danny nods his agreement.

He still seems slightly withdrawn, like he's halfway toward falling over the precipice, façade crumbling and Danny's never seen someone struggling so hard to keep it together.

He doesn't think anyone else notices, but to Danny it's blindingly obvious. He knows a lot of that has to do with the fact that he's trained to read people; trained to watch for even the slightest shifts in someone's personality. The Martin's he's watching walk toward the elevators is not the Martin he met last week.

He doesn't say anything, though, following Martin onto the elevator, remaining silent on the ride down and it's not until they make it outside, Martin seeming to choose a direction at random, steps quick and purposeful, that it starts to feel awkward.

"Martin," Danny calls, having to practically jog to keep up.

He reaches out, grabbing Martin's arm, effectively stopping him and Martin actually looks confused when he glances over.

"What?" he asks, eyeing Danny like it's Danny behaviour that warrants confusion.

"What's going on with you?" Danny asks, and this is a test, he realizes, Danny needing a straight answer if he's ever going to be able to trust Martin. Needing a straight answer if he's ever going to stop comparing Martin to his father.

"Nothing, I..."

Martin cuts off at Danny's glare, looking slightly apologetic and Danny instantly knows that Martin's not just lying to him. He's lying to himself too, his reasons unknown and suddenly Danny's not so sure it's his place to ask.

"Martin... I..."

"Do you know why you were brought into the department?" Martin asks suddenly, looking very much lost, facing Danny without really seeing him, his back toward L.A. traffic, people brushing past them on all sides and Danny shakes his head.

"You were a replacement, okay," Martin tells him, not elaborating and he doesn't need to. Danny can tell just from Martin's expression that it's not something he wants to talk about. Not something he wants to recall.

Danny nods weakly, smiling something close to sympathy, guilt surging in his chest, not dissipating until he hears Martin release a breath, tension vanishing almost as quickly as it first appeared.

"I'm still hungry," Martin says after a moment, not waiting for a reply before setting off again, heading toward a small diner-style restaurant on the corner.

Danny falls into step at his side, still not quite sure what to make of the day. He knows one thing, though; Martin really is nothing like his father.

~~~

Despite Martin's statement about being hungry, he picks at his food, appetite having obviously vanished.

He hasn't said anything since they arrived, ordering his meal before lapsing into silence. Twice now he's gestured wordlessly for their waitress to refill his coffee.

Danny's long since finished eating, the waitress having cleared his plate and Danny hesitates only briefly before reaching across the table, stealing a fry off Martin's plate.

It earns Martin's attention, Martin glancing over, frowning at the sight of Danny popping the fry into his mouth and Danny arches an eyebrow, silently daring Martin to say something.

In truth he just wants Martin to speak, to say something, anything, because the silence is driving Danny crazy. This is a side of Martin he's never seen before and it's making Danny slightly nervous.

Almost as soon as Danny thinks it, Martin chuckles, shaking his head before pushing his plate to the centre of the table. Danny smiles before reaching for another fry.

"Were you going to leave?" Martin asks suddenly, leaning back to slouch against the booth's bench.

"What do you mean?" Danny asks, forehead crinkling in confusion. He glances away only long enough to find his coffee, bringing it to his lips to sip at bitter black liquid.

"When you found out about my dad, were you going to request a transfer?" Martin clarifies, still watching, eyes weighing and Danny can't help but wonder if Martin's still worried about that possibility.

He doesn't answer right away, instead finishing what's left of his coffee, grounds coating his tongue and Danny spits them back into his cup, cursing having gotten the bottom of the pot.

"I don't know. Maybe. I think it depended on your answer," Danny finally replies, Martin nodding, like he expected no less.

"And now?"

And that's a good question; one that Danny's not entirely sure how to answer. He's thought about transferring, several times in fact, but the truth is the only place he wants to work is Missing Persons and he knows that's not going to happen.

"I think I'm good," Danny says after a moment, nodding to himself, strangely content with his answer.

Across the table, Martin smiles.

Chapter Text

He wants to tell Danny.

He's been thinking about it since lunch, actually, Martin leaning back in his seat, watching Danny finish what was left of Martin's meal and, suddenly, he wanted to tell Danny everything.

About Tyler and the case that left him in a body bag. About how much he'd been dreading Danny's arrival, how hard he'd fought to keep Harold from assigning him a new partner.

He wanted to tell Danny about wanting to transfer, about wanting to leave Seattle, maybe even the Bureau, because Martin's no longer certain he can do this.

He wanted to tell Danny then, before the waitress brought them their bill. Before they left the diner. Before they returned to work, but the words wouldn't come, the moment having passed. Martin's still thinking about it now, but the words still refuse to surface.

They've lapsed into an easy silence, Danny driving --his suggestion and Martin's still surprised they were given a car, let alone permission to conduct an interview on their own.

Martin doubts it'll amount to anything, though, their second suspect only an hour out of surgery and Martin suspects the only reason the L.A. office handed the interview over was because they were expecting failure. For them this is just procedure. For Martin this is a step forward in a case he wants desperately to close.

Their suspect was taken to Good Samaritan, a hospital close to the original scene, clear across the city from the L.A. offices and the distance, made longer by traffic, has them arriving later than Martin would have liked.

Danny parks on the street, cuts the engine and glances over, waiting for Martin's nod before climbing out of the car.

Martin joins him a moment later and thinks, idly, that he could have told Danny on the ride over.

Another moment lost and Martin tells himself that there is still time. Danny said he wasn't going anywhere, after all, so there's always tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Sooner is better than later, though, Martin knowing that if they have any hope of forming a real partnership --and that's something he's starting to want-- that honesty is paramount.

It brings up awkward topics, though, and Martin suspects that is part of the reason for his apprehension. His relationship with Tyler was complicated, after all, Tyler one of the few people who truly knew Martin and Martin knows telling Danny about Tyler won't be enough.

He'll have to share everything he's shared in the past and that is easier said than done. Tyler was the only person in Seattle who knew Martin was gay, after all, and Martin's not entirely certain he wants Danny to know that particular piece of information. Not yet, anyway.

It also means bringing up his father --something that he suspects Danny might still be suspicious of-- admitting that Victor is the reason Martin's working in White Collar Crimes. He's likely behind Danny's transfer, too, something that Martin doesn't really want to think about; something that Martin doesn't really want to suggest. It makes sense, though, his father one of the many people pushing for Martin to move on after Tyler's death. Danny, Martin suspects, is Victor's attempt at distraction --God forbid Victor let Martin's career stagnate over grief.

The sound of approaching sirens distracts Martin from the thought, Martin glancing over his shoulder, frowning at the approach of three LAPD cars. They come to jerking stops outside the emergency room doors, lights flashing and Martin stops walking, watching as three pairs of uniforms climb out of still running cars and rush inside.

Glancing at Danny, Martin arches an eyebrow. Whatever's happening can't be good.

Danny's the first to start moving, heading forward with renewed purpose and Martin has to jog several steps to catch up. They push through the doors a second later, Martin reaching into his breast pocket, pulling out his id. No one pays them any attention.

The entire first floor is in a state of chaos, people rushing, patients being ushered into the east wing; doctors and nurses passing by in a flurry of white and Martin watches as Danny reaches out, grabs the arm of a passing nurse, shoving his id under her nose before she can argue.

"What's going on?" he asks, the nurse blinking at him several times before glancing over her shoulder, expression clearly panicked and Danny repeats the question.

"What happened?"

"Fourth floor, I.C.U..." she stammers, tone frantic and Danny squeezes her arm reassuringly. "They called a code black, I don't know anything else except that the administration ordered a lock down," she explains, and this time her tone is uncertain, confused and Danny nods, releasing her arm.

The second he does, she's gone, gathering patients from the waiting room and ushering them through a set of heavy doors on their right. She returns a second later, grabbing the next group, rushing them out and Martin frowns.

"Code black, that's violence, right?" Martin asks, Danny turning back around, making eye contact before nodding.

"I.C.U., that's where our guy is, right?" Danny questions, Martin nodding. Danny curses under his breath and gestures toward the staircase next to triage.

They reach the doors before they hear the nurse Danny originally stopped, her tone commanding and Martin glances over to find her rushing toward them.

"You can't go up there. They've evacuated the entire ward," she yells out, but Martin ignores her, pushing through the doors, her shouts blocked as the door swings shut behind them.

Halfway past the second floor, Martin draws his weapon.

Beside him Danny does the same, looking decidedly confident and Martin finds himself wondering how often Danny does this. He seems comfortable with a weapon in hand, comfortable with the knowledge that, upstairs, anything could happen. Martin is anything but comfortable.

His heart's racing, vision tunnelling and every step seems laboured, like he can't quite get his body to cooperate. By the time they reach the plateau of the third floor, Danny's outpaced him.

He's waiting beside the exit that leads to the fourth floor when Martin finally catches up, Danny gesturing for him to stay against Danny's back, Martin pressing himself to the wall against Danny's side and Danny slowly counts to three before opening the door, poking his head out to check in either direction.

He whispers clear before leaving the safety of the stairs, Martin following reluctantly, chest tight with panic.

True to the nurse's word, the floor is empty, void of people and it's not until they turn a corner, Danny automatically holstering his weapon, that Martin allows himself to relax.

Standing in front of the doors to the I.C.U. ward are two of the uniforms they saw downstairs, neither of their weapons drawn and whatever the danger was, it has obviously passed.

Danny draws his id and approaches them, earning a nod as they step back to let him enter the I.C.U.. Martin holsters his own weapon before following Danny inside.

Their suspect is lying in a bed by the far wall, pristine white bandage covering his shoulder, IV still taped to his wrist. The sheets are stained red with blood, twin bullet holes torn through his chest and suddenly Martin understands.

"Jesus," Danny curses beside him, glancing to his right, Martin following his eyes and his breath catches when he takes in the sight of a dead agent lying on the floor, their suspect's guard, his weapon clutched in his hand and obviously he had a chance to draw it before someone put a bullet in his forehead.

Turning away from the scene, Martin swallows a mouthful of bile and tries not to be thankful that traffic delayed their arrival.

~~~

They fly out into a sinking sun, the plane twisting over a sea of blue, easterly winds making for violent turbulence. Beside him Danny is mumbling in Spanish, likely praying, Martin thinks, hands once again clutching at his arm rests.

Martin's too numb to distract him.

Nothing came of the first interview, despite the fact that upon returning to the L.A. office Danny marched into the interrogation room, ordered the two local agents conducting the interview out, taking over on the spot and aside from several curses and possibly a reprimand in Danny's file it accomplished nothing.

The loss of their second suspect made the entire thing worse, the Bureau now mourning an agent and Martin's starting to think they don't have the resources to deal with this particular group. Certainly not if they're willing to walk into a hospital and assassinate one of the own.

It brings them back to the drawing board, once again leadless and Martin finds himself wondering how much time will pass before the case once again becomes active.

He's not even sure they'll be included in anything that goes forward, the Bureau likely planning to set up a special task force, something they do whenever a case costs them one of their own. Martin should know; a special task force was set up to take over Tyler's case, after all. They haven't made much progress, which is likely why Martin still spends his free time chasing leads.

Through the window, Martin watches as they clear the ocean, the plane once again levelling out over dry land and the turbulence calms to a mere shudder, Danny releasing a breath beside him, but his knuckles remain white, his entire body still tense, so Martin knows he won't truly relax until after they've landed.

Martin closes his eyes and leans back into his seat, not opening them until he feels the plane shift, beginning its descent, Martin only then realizing that he somehow managed to fall asleep.

~~~

The office is dark when they get back, Danny silent, shoulders tense and Martin can tell he's frustrated. Angry even, something that Martin understands all too well.

He watches as Danny gathers his things, obviously intent on heading home and Martin can't say he blames him.

"I'll see you tomorrow," Martin finds himself saying, just as Danny's about to leave and Danny glances over, expression slightly conflicted, like he hasn't quite decided what tomorrow will bring.

It fades a second later, Danny nodding, pausing at the side of Martin's desk and Martin finds himself leaning forward, suddenly intent on Danny's words.

"Is it always like this?" Danny asks, casually sitting on the edge of Martin's desk, arms crossing over his chest and Martin finds the gesture entirely too intimate for words.

He swallows before answering.

"Sometimes. It sort of depends on the case, but yeah, a lot of times cases are stalled before they begin," Martin replies, the answer honest and Danny nods, shifts a little, practically perching now.

"Have you ever not solved a case, I mean, besides the ones we have open?" Danny questions, Martin glancing at Tyler's file before answering.

"Just one," he says, Danny arching an eyebrow and Martin knows that this would be the perfect time to say something. That he could tell Danny about Tyler now and it would feel natural, bridge a gap that Martin knows still exists.

He doesn't, though, the words once again freezing on his tongue, despite the fact that Danny's looking at him expectantly, silently urging Martin to elaborate. Martin breaks eye contact, glancing down to stare at the top of his desk, listening to Danny's sigh and a second later Danny pushes himself up off of Martin's desk, obviously disappointed.

"Well, goodnight," Danny says and when Martin glances back up again, he's met with the sight of Danny's retreating back.

"Goodnight," Martin calls out, Danny waving over his shoulder, not turning around and Martin curses himself for not being able to get the words out.

He waits for Danny to disappear around the corner before pulling out Tyler's file, flipping it open, staring into not quite real eyes before folding it shut, pushing it back to the corner of his desk.

He doesn't have the energy to deal with it tonight. Doesn't have the energy for much and Martin hopes his exhaustion might actually let him sleep for once.

Chapter Text

He's getting used to sleeping through the night.

He still wakes up occasionally, glancing at his cell phone, half expecting it to ring, but it's easier now to roll over and fall back asleep when it doesn't.

In New York he only half slept, remaining just on the edge of unconsciousness, knowing that his phone could ring at any moment. Often it did. Cases were never limited to daylight hours.

It's still strange, though, to wake to the sound of his alarm. He used to wake before it; watch as the digits rolled over, inching closer to six and Danny would always turn it off just before it screamed. He flinches when he hears it now, the sound deafening and Danny shakes his head before reaching over, swatting at it with the palm of his hand. His hand makes contact and the silence is blissful.

He wakes later now than he used to, the sun already gracing the sky and Danny blinks against brightness that's only half blocked out by his blinds before climbing out of bed.

The feel of carpet still gives him pause, scratching beneath his feet and it's warm in a way his bare floors never were. The memory of his last apartment is fading, though, details becoming hazy and Danny doesn't even need to think when he leaves his bedroom. He turns left automatically now, eyes still heavy with sleep and it's a mark of how quickly he's learnt the layout of his new home.

He spoke to Vivian last night. Called her the second he got in, Vivian obviously in the middle of a case, but she'd taken the time to talk, something Danny suspects she'd do regardless of what she was working on.

Their conversation was light, Vivian filling him in on the changes in Missing Persons --a department she now heads up, having been given Jack's old position-- since the splitting of the team. Danny doesn't think she's fully used to the change, though, sounding frustrated as she told him about the new additions.

They didn't talk for long, but Danny told her about Martin and his vow to give the guy a chance. Vivian seemed proud of that, telling him to give it time when he complained about Martin not trusting him. Danny knows she's right, knows that trust is never automatic. In truth, he doesn't fully trust Martin either.

Shaking the thought off, Danny heads into the kitchen, coffee already brewed, set on an automatic timer and Danny fumbles in the cupboard before finding a clean mug, pulling it out and setting it on the counter before pouring a cup.

He has no idea what today has in store for him. He doubts they'll continue on with yesterday's case, the loss of a suspect setting them back and, if Martin's reaction was any indication, Danny knows it'll likely be weeks, maybe even months, before they return to working on it.

Danny's still not entirely used to working several open cases. Not used to leaving something unfinished.

There are a few cases from Missing Persons that still haunt him, the cases becoming cold and each time he was forced to move on to a new case before solving the last. They were still cold when he left and Danny knows they'll likely stay that way until a lead he'll never see comes in.

This is different, though; this is every case, each one taking entirely too long to solve and Danny's not sure he has the patience for it. He tells himself to give it time, Vivian's advice coming back to him then and Danny wishes it was as easy as she made it sound.

He drains his cup long before he's ready, Danny staring into the bottom of it, a ring of black liquid all that remains of his morning coffee. He doesn't have time for a second, or breakfast for that matter, but he's gotten used to stopping at the Starbucks across the street from the Bureau, so it doesn't bother him much.

Setting his cup down in the sink --almost full now and Danny makes a mental note to do dishes-- Danny heads back down the hall, into the bathroom and his waiting shower, still not quite ready to start the day, but needing to none the less.

~~~

The office is quiet when he makes it in, Danny balancing two coffees, one in each hand as he navigates the hall on his way to the White Collar offices. He spots Maureen first, already engrossed in work and Danny nods his hello, earning one of Maureen's rare smiles as Danny passes her desk.

Martin's already in, bent over his desk, suit jacket off and hanging over the back of his chair. His shirt is wrinkled, telling Danny that he's likely been in for a while.

Danny's still not certain why Martin comes in so early. Or what he spends his mornings doing.

Martin glances up at Danny's approach, Danny smiling a greeting before setting one of the coffees down onto Martin's desk, his smile slipping to a frown as he takes in Martin's appearance. Obviously Martin's forgotten to shave this morning, something that seems strangely off.

"Rough night?" Danny asks, walking around to his own desk, setting his cup down before sliding out of his coat and sinking into his chair.

"Something like that," Martin replies, Danny once again frowning, this time at the vague answer and it's only then that Martin seems to notice the coffee sitting in the centre of his desk. "This mine?" he asks.

"Yeah. I didn't know what you took in it," Danny answers, rooting in his pocket, pulling out a fistful of creamers and sugar, setting them down next to Martin's coffee.

Martin smiles before picking out three creamers.

"Thanks," he says, pulling the lid off his coffee, dumping each creamer into the cup in turn.

"Don't mention it," Danny answers, leaning back in his chair, giving Martin an appraising look.

Close up, it doesn't look like Martin merely forgot to shave. In fact, it looks like Martin hasn't slept at all; dark circles resting beneath his eyes, lines marring his forehead, hair slightly rumpled and Danny has to bite his tongue to keep from asking.

Martin will tell him when he's ready. If he's ever ready.

"So, what's on the schedule for today?" Danny asks instead, reaching forward to grab his own coffee, bringing it to his lips, but leaving it there, not drinking, watching Martin over the rim instead.

"Well, we still haven't heard anything from L.A., so I'm guessing that case is on hold. Your call: anti-trust, embezzlement or pyramid scheme?" he offers, making each option sound as intriguing as the last and Danny laughs.

"Why don't we finish what we were working on in that anti-trust case," Danny suggests, choosing it simply because it's the newest case, one that Danny's seen from the beginning, so he knows it better than the others.

"Sounds good to me," Martin answers, casually closing the file currently open on his desk, pushing it aside and Danny can't help but notice that it's the same file Martin wouldn't talk about last night.

Despite having convinced himself that he didn't need to know, Danny still finds himself curious.

He doesn't ask, though, instead tearing his gaze away, turning to his filing cabinet, unlocking it and pulling out the small list of names they compiled on Friday. He sets it down on his desk before glancing up, Martin sipping absently at his coffee, his expression suggesting this is just another morning and Danny tells himself that it's none of his business.

~~~

By the time the day ends, they've compiled an almost complete list of people in a position of enough authority to actively fix prices in collaboration with their competitors.

What's more, they've also found correlation between several of the people involved --receipts tying them to the same location and the same time-- implying that, maybe, Danny's method might be valid.

Martin seems to think so, anyway, something he told Danny shortly after lunch and Danny's still feeling rather good about that.

He's not entirely sure why, because he's never needed anyone's approval before. Still, there's something almost vindicating in the knowledge that Martin actually recognizes and appreciates Danny's contribution to the case.

It's not enough to get a warrant, or move forward, yet, but it's a start, so when five o'clock rolls around, Danny actually feels like they've accomplished something.

And after yesterday, he doesn't even mind that getting to that point meant spending an entire day locked in the office.

Martin's the first to suggest the call it a day, yawning briefly, running a hand over his now scruffy chin before pushing aside the papers spread out over his desk.

Danny follows his example, sorting the papers he was working on into piles before tucking them back into a folder, locking the file away in his cabinet before shutting down his computer.

"You heading home?" Danny asks as he stands, reaching for his coat and he's halfway to sliding into it when Martin responds.

"Yeah, you?" Martin questions, but he makes no move to stand, instead leaning back in his chair, like he's contemplating sleeping at his desk.

For some reason, Danny doesn't think he'd be entirely surprised to learn Martin had.

"Actually, I have a... a thing tonight," Danny admits, Martin grinning in response and Danny instantly knows that Martin's misinterpreted his words.

He doesn't elaborate, though, not really wanting to share that particular piece of information.

In that moment, he almost feels like a hypocrite; wanting Martin to confide in him without being able to do the same. He tells himself that this is different, that this is personal and, in New York, only Vivian and Jack knew about his weekly AA meetings.

It's his first meeting since moving to Seattle, a new group and Danny's still a little nervous about that. He's called the man who will become his sponsor here, spoke to him briefly before agreeing to attend tonight's meeting. It'll be the first time Danny's met him, too, which is only adding to his nervousness.

He's got a couple of hours, though, Danny planning on heading home, maybe grabbing something to eat before heading out. He doesn't tell Martin that either.

"Well, I guess I should..." Danny says, gesturing absently.

"Yeah," Martin agrees, smiling his goodbye and Danny grabs his bag, slinging it over his shoulder before heading to the elevators.

He glances once over his shoulder before leaving the office, Martin watching him go, still making no move to leave and Danny finds himself wondering why.

From what he's gathered, Martin shows up at least two hours before Danny does. Danny has no idea how long Martin sticks around after Danny's left, but it amounts to Martin putting in far more hours than necessary and Danny can't quite figure out what he spends his time doing.

He suspects is has something to do with the file that seems to permanently reside on Martin's desk. Martin never goes out of his way to hide it, but he never does anything to draw attention to it either and Danny finds himself flashing back to what Martin told him in L.A.

You were a replacement, okay, Martin told him, looking so lost then that Danny had wanted to reach out and draw him into a hug.

It's very probable that the two are related, obviously not something Martin ever plans on sharing and Danny's almost tempted to turn around, head back into the office and demand to know everything Martin's not telling him.

He doesn't, mostly because he knows that would make him a hypocrite.

Still, it takes effort to climb onto the elevator, Danny having to force himself to hit the button for the ground floor.

By the time he makes it downstairs, he's almost convinced himself to turn around.

Instead he finds himself lingering in the lobby, hoping that he's wrong, that Martin's just finishing up a few things, that, any minute now, he'll show up, head out to his car and then Danny will know that Martin's not staying late every night.

Ten minutes pass, Martin still nowhere in sight, before Danny finally gives up and leaves.

~~~

His meeting's downtown, just off of Union Street, and Danny's not entirely sure how to get there by bus. It's close to work, though, so Danny gets off at his usual morning stop, glancing once at his watch to ensure he has time to walk.

He's earlier than he thought, Danny briefly contemplating stopping for a coffee. There'll be coffee there, he knows, but it'll be stale, made bitter by second hand smoke, so he heads toward the Starbucks across the street from the Bureau offices instead.

He's just getting out, coffee in hand, when he spots Martin.

Martin's car, actually, but even through the fine mist of rain Danny can tell Martin's behind the wheel.

It's just past six-thirty, his meeting not due to start until seven, and Danny finds himself wondering exactly what it is Martin spent an hour and a half doing after Danny left.

Before he can stop himself, he's heading across the street.

The lobby's dim, but it's brighter than it was outside, so Danny has to pause to allow himself to adjust to the change in light. He runs a hand through his hair, slicking it back, his hair wet from the rain and water beads against his shirt, trickling down beneath his collar. Security glances at him curiously.

They know him, but Danny still pulls out his id, waiting for their nod before heading through the metal detectors. He doesn't have his service weapon on him, Danny locking that away in the lock box he keeps in his hall closet before leaving his apartment.

He makes it onto the elevator before he begins to wonder what he's doing. He has no idea what possessed him to head inside; no idea what he's doing here and Danny's half tempted to turn around, ignore his curiosity.

It's easier said than done, though, Danny practically twitching with unused energy and by the time the elevator stops he's taken to rocking on the balls of his feet.

The entire floor is dark, Danny navigating by instinct, the eerie glow of the emergency exit signs providing the only light. In the silence, the sound of his heart pounding is almost overwhelming.

He glances once over his shoulder upon reaching Martin's desk, suddenly apprehensive and once again Danny finds himself wondering what he's doing. This isn't him, but what's more, it's a violation of trust and how the hell can Danny ever expect Martin to trust him if Danny doesn't respect Martin's space?

Martin's privacy and Danny curses, wanting to leave, and yet unable to tear his eyes away from the file sitting in the corner of Martin's desk.

It's right there, in plain sight, and there's a rule about that, he knows. He doesn't think it applies here, though, Martin's file not evidence and Danny blames his curiosity on his years working in Missing Persons.

This is what he does, after all, his entire career up until this point spent snooping through people's personal belongings just to get a glimpse of who they really were.

Reaching forward, Danny lets his fingers brush against the file.

Chapter Text

His fridge was bare when he left the house this morning, something that happens entirely too frequently and Martin often wishes he didn't have to worry about things like feeding himself.

He's never been a fan of spending his free time performing menial tasks, preferring instead to fill his hours with things he considers productive. Work has always been productive. He knows he spends too much time working --did even before Tyler's death and his hours spent at the office have only increased since then.

It's distracting, though, far more enjoyable than perusing the aisles of a grocery store for things to put in his cupboards.

Still, it's a necessary evil, Martin resigning himself to the task, pulling into the parking lot of a convenience store that he frequents more often than not. They don't carry much, but they have the basics --over-priced basics, but it beats having to drive out into the suburbs-- and that's really all he needs.

He steps into harsh fluorescent lighting, squinting against the brightness of it before patting his back pocket.

And shit.

Of course this would be so much easier if he'd actually remembered to take his wallet out of his desk drawer.

Sighing, Martin turns back toward the doors, earning an odd look from the clerk that Martin ignores before heading back to his car.

He's not far from work, but the downtown core consists of one-way streets, making navigating the area challenging at best. He loops around, heading toward the water before turning south, then heading back toward Spring Street. In all, he's only been gone ten minutes, but given the late hour, and the fact that he still needs food, he knows he won't make it home until sometime after eight.

For the first time in a long time, Martin finds himself glad that he doesn't have a social life.

The parking garage is practically deserted, Martin easily finding a space next to the elevators. He's usually forced to park next to the stairs, but jogging up the two flights to the lobby helps to him wake up in the mornings, so he doesn't really mind.

Tonight he does, the day proving long and, that, combined with his recent insomnia, has left him too exhausted for physical exertion --so exhausted in fact that he's starting to suspect he'll end up forgoing groceries tonight. He knows of at least three restaurants that he hasn't ordered from in the past week. They'll have to do.

He has to clear security before heading upstairs, the agent at the door frowning at Martin's presence and Martin smiles before pulling out his id. It earns him a nod, Martin sliding the id back into his pocket before hitting the button for the elevator.

It arrives a second later, Martin stepping inside, foot tapping irritably as he waits for it to climb to the eighth floor. The elevator bounces to a stop and Martin's stomach sinks, hunger quickly becoming nausea.

All he really wants to do is go home and eat, and then maybe sleep for the next twelve hours, which is likely why he doesn't notice the person blocking the hall outside the elevator, Martin entirely too preoccupied to pay attention and they collide somewhat painfully.

"Shit," Martin curses, stepping back, apology on his tongue, but it vanishes the second he realizes who he bumped into.

Danny, and of all the people Martin expected to find standing in the hall, Danny isn't one of them.

"What are you doing here?" Martin asks, Danny still absently rubbing his forehead, features twisted into a grimace.

"I could ask you the same thing. And ouch," Danny replies, letting his hand fall down to his side, seeming to only then notice Martin's presence and his eyes widen slightly at the sight.

"I... forgot something," he explains a moment later, and Martin's interviewed enough suspects to know that Danny's hiding something.

He seems nervous, anyway, out of sorts, unprepared to deal with Martin's sudden presence.

"I thought you had a hot date?" Martin asks, and he's baiting, he knows he is, tone incredulous and as much as Martin wishes he could take the words back, they're out, so it's too late to take anything back.

For a second Danny doesn't answer, frowning like he's not quite sure what Martin's talking about. Martin finds himself mirroring the expression, suddenly confused because he could have sworn Danny said he had a thing tonight. Thing, in Martin's experience, only has one meaning.

"Right, yeah... actually, I should get going. See you tomorrow," Danny finally says, brushing past Martin, heading into the elevator and by the time Martin turns around, mouth open, words on the tip of his tongue, the doors are closing, Danny looking only slightly relieved.

It takes him a moment to remember what he was supposed to be doing, Martin shaking his head before tearing his gaze away from the now closed elevator doors. It's a relief not to see them, but Martin doesn't let himself question that too hard --just like he didn't question the odd sensation of loss he felt upon first learning of Danny's date. What Danny does with his free time isn't any of Martin's business, after all.

Despite the fact that he's usually the first one in, the office dark first thing in the morning, Martin finds it strange to make his way into the White Collar offices. Stranger still to weave his way toward his desk, the journey made entirely by instinct now --and Martin can still remember a time when he would get turned around just trying to find his desk-- the lack of light not impeding his progress.

His wallet's right where he left it; sitting in his top desk drawer, Martin leaving it there whenever he's confined to the office, mostly so that he doesn't have to feel its weight dragging at his pants.

He's halfway to turning when he spots the file on his desk. It's slightly out of place, not by much, but enough that Martin's certain someone's moved it. The corner is slightly bent, too, like someone played with the edge, debating whether or not to open it and suddenly Danny's presence --and his nervousness-- makes sense.

Stomach sinking, Martin finds himself no longer hungry.

~~~

He's trying not to be angry.

Trying and failing, because he is angry --and how dare Danny go through his things. Martin knows that's not entirely fair, because Danny's been curious about the file since he first spotted it and Martin knows he could have said something.

Could have told Danny exactly what it contained and exactly what it meant to him and now Danny knows without hearing it from Martin and, somehow, Martin's sure that's not a good thing.

In fact, Danny will probably hold it against him and Martin finds himself pausing, shaking his head, because shouldn't he be the one holding it against Danny? Danny did, after all, violate Martin's privacy --snoop through Martin's things and of all the ways to build trust, Martin's fairly sure this doesn't qualify.

Releasing a breath, Martin tells himself to stop thinking about it. It won't do any good now, anyway, so it's not like he should stress himself out worrying about it. Despite that knowledge, Martin can't seem to let it go.

Hasn't been able to let it go, not since he left the office, file tucked under his arm and Martin's still surprised he didn't crash his car on the drive home.

The file's sitting on the small table beside his door now, looking oddly out of place next to the vase his mother sent him for his birthday. And Martin's still thinking about it. Still pacing absently across the length of his living room as he tries to decide exactly what he's going to say come morning.

How dare you? keeps coming up, Martin's jaw clenching and he wishes Danny were here right now, just so that Martin could yell at him. He knows come tomorrow logic will once again have taken over and Martin's not sure he wants to approach this with a cool head.

It's almost funny, when he thinks about it, because this isn't the first time he's pictured Danny in his home. It is, however, the first time Martin's pictured Danny in his home with a purpose --other than just showing up looking decidedly naked with a bottle of wine in hand-- and that, Martin thinks, is a mark of just how angry he is.

Pausing by his couch, Martin lets himself sink down onto its arm, tension still locking his shoulder blades and Martin has a feeling that, once again, he'll spend the night not sleeping.

~~~

He's purposely not early.

Mostly because he doesn't think he could handle waiting, but also because he woke to no food in his house --again-- and decided that this was best done on a full stomach.

It meant a quick stop to pick up a coffee and bagel, both of which are still churning in his stomach and Martin's starting to regret the decision to eat.

He still has to wait forty minutes for Danny to show up.

Danny has the nerve to saunter in, once again carrying two coffees, nodding to Maureen like he does every morning and Martin wishes he could summon up last night's anger.

Instead he's merely nervous, slightly uncomfortable and just a little pissed and Martin suspects it's nowhere near what he needs to deal with this particular situation.

Danny hesitates upon reaching the corner of Martin's desk, looking almost concerned before he smiles and sets one of the coffees down in the centre of the desk --exactly where Martin found the file last night and for some reason that seems almost ironic.

"You okay?" Danny asks, still staring, watching Martin like he's half expecting Martin to dissolve before him.

"Couldn't be better," Martin replies, words cold and triumph surges in Martin's chest at Danny's wince.

"Okay..." Danny answers, shaking his head before moving around to his own desk.

He freezes the second he spots it, the file Martin knows he's read sitting in the middle of his desk and it took Martin three tries to work up the courage to leave it there.

Each time Martin considered simply filing it away, pretending he hadn't noticed. The only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that, eventually, he'd break and that, he suspects, would have shattered whatever tentative partnership they'd managed to achieve.

"Martin..."

And apparently Danny's clever, obviously knowing exactly why Martin's left the file on his desk. Obviously well aware of what it means.

"Yes?" Martin still asks, his words still cold and Martin didn't think he'd be capable of sounding so calm.

Danny glances over.

Glances back at the desk, shaking his head this time, setting his coffee down beside it before sitting, not bothering to remove his coat.

"I know what you think, but I didn't, okay," Danny begins, Martin arching an eyebrow the second Danny glances up, making eye contact and Danny sighs before continuing.

"I didn't. I wanted to. I was going to, but I didn't." And for a moment Danny sounds so sincere that Martin almost believes him.

Not quite, though, because he's been lied to before; Danny lied to him last night, after all. In fact, Martin's not entirely certain the little he knows about Danny isn't all a lie.

"I swear, Martin," Danny repeats, and this time he sounds almost desperate, like Martin believing him means more to him than Martin's honesty.

Anger fades to doubt.

Doubt shifts to guilt.

"Last night, I... I got off the bus at my usual stop, just to grab a coffee before my... I saw you leaving and wondered... I don't know, I guess I..."

It's Danny's stammering that does him in.

"I'm sorry."

It's not what he wants to say, or even what he knows he needs to say, but the rest won't come, Martin suddenly incapable of forming words and he just hopes it's enough.

Danny seems to relax, shoulders releasing and Martin thinks it might be. He pushes himself up out of his chair, stretching slightly before moving to stand behind Danny, leaning over his shoulder to flip open the file.

Danny doesn't look at it right away, twisted in his seat, watching Martin like he's not entirely sure what Martin's planning on doing. Martin makes eye contact, tries to say without words what he should have said earlier. Danny nods, seeming to understand, before turning back to the file.

"It started out as simple identity theft case. After a couple of months, we started to realize it was a little broader than that," Martin begins, voice trembling, but Danny seems too preoccupied by the picture paper-clipped to the inside of the file to notice.

Martin swallows before continuing.

"Special Agent Tyler McKay. We'd gone out to San Diego to interview a potential witness --an ex-girlfriend of one of our main suspects. Turns out it was a trap. She was in on it..."

It's not until that moment that he realizes that he's never actually said the words before. Never spoken them out loud and Martin releases a breath, wondering if this is what the Bureau psychiatrist meant by closure.

"He died on the scene. Bled out... I... um..."

The hand on his arm stops him, Danny once again twisted around in his chair, hand closed over Martin's bicep, eyes wide and the second Martin makes eye contact he realizes that this was necessary.

That he needed this. Needed to tell someone; anyone, even a man he barely knows because the burden is too much for him to carry alone.

"Tyler was sort of like a mentor to me," Martin explains, not really sure why he felt the need to share that particular piece of information, but when Danny smiles, nodding sympathetically, Martin's suddenly glad he did.

He knows it's not enough, though; that eventually he'll have to explain it all, tell Danny that he's still working on the case behind Harold's back and against Bureau orders. Strangely, though, the thought of telling Danny no longer seems so difficult.

Chapter Text

His hand is still curled around Martin's bicep, Danny waiting patiently for Martin to continue, when Martin breaks eye contact to glance across the room. Danny finds himself frowning, only then registering the sound of someone clearing their throat.

He lets his hand fall back to his side, stilling his features to impassiveness before glancing over to find Harold watching them from the corner of Martin's desk. He looks slightly out of place, like he's forgotten why he interrupted and is straining desperately for the memory.

He seems to find it a second later, nodding to himself, clearing his throat a second time before speaking.

"Sorry to interrupt, but I need both of you in the boardroom," he tells them, glancing at Martin and whatever he sees seems to satisfy him, Harold nodding yet again, this time absently before turning away, heading out of the room and Danny glances curiously over his shoulder.

"Bi-weekly team meeting," Martin explains, Danny letting out a half whispered oh before standing.

He's still wearing his coat, so he shrugs it off, letting it fall to his chair before reaching onto his desk to grab his coffee. When he glances up, he finds Martin watching him.

It's obvious just from Martin's expression that he's struggling to find words, perhaps wanting to add to what he's already told Danny and Danny's halfway to prompting him when Martin speaks.

"Do you... um... maybe want to grab a drink after work?" Martin asks, clearly nervous and Danny knows what he's not saying.

It's an unspoken promise to finish his story and Danny smiles before answering.

"I'd like that," he agrees, Martin releasing a breath, seeming strangely relieved and Danny takes that as a good sign.

It means they're finally communicating, anyway, something Danny knows is necessary if they're ever going to make this work.

Gesturing to the coffee on Martin's desk, Danny waits for Martin to retrieve it, his hand shaking slightly in the process and Danny finds himself vividly aware of how hard sharing all of this must have been --how hard sharing the rest is going to be. By the time they start moving, Martin's hands have stilled.

Falling into step at Martin's side, Danny doesn't hesitate before leaning over, the warmth of Martin's shoulder pressing against his own and Martin's steps falter.

"Just... thank you," Danny says, Martin instantly relaxing, chuckling under his breath a second later and he nods before regaining his pace, steps once again even as he leads them out of the office, into the short hall that leads down to the boardroom.

Maureen and Mike are already inside; seated around the long, oval-shaped table that occupies the centre of the room. Danny's not sure where Harold is, but for some reason Danny's not surprised by his lack of presence.

The second he thinks it, Harold appears, looking just as out of sorts as he did upon interrupting them. As usual, his suit is just a little too small, his jacket pulling across his stomach, his pants not quite reaching his shoes. Danny can't be certain, but he swears they're not even a matched set; the jacket a soft shade of brown that reminds him of suede, the pants darker, like dry mud and Danny takes a sip of his coffee to keep from laughing.

It takes a nudge from Martin to get Danny's attention, Danny automatically moving forward, claiming a chair to the left of Maureen. Martin snakes around the table to choose a chair on Mike's right.

It leaves them sitting directly across from one another, twice Danny accidentally kicking Martin under the table as he attempts to cross his legs. In the end he gives up, the table obviously too low for that and by the time he finds a comfortable position --legs sprawled and slouched back in his chair-- Harold is just getting around to claiming a chair at the head of the table.

~~~

Despite the fact that he's spent most of the day outside the office --with the exception of their meeting and Danny's still trying to get over the strangeness of that-- the hours seem to be dragging.

During their meeting, they filled Harold in on where they were with each of their cases, Harold listening attentively before suggesting --although Danny suspects it was actually an order-- they finish up with their pyramid scheme case.

It meant spending the day conducting countless interviews, none of them in the same part of the city and, while Danny knows he should be thankful for the time spent away from his desk, the day was made longer by spending half of it in the car.

They discussed work during that time, never once touching on this morning's conversation and Danny suspects that's part of the reason time seems to have slowed to a crawl.

For the first time in a long time, Danny finds himself thankful for the short work day. He doesn't think he could handle this pace if their cases took them through the night, or into the next day as his New York cases often did.

They're back in the office now, tying up loose ends, paperwork spread across both of their desks and if Danny has to see one more spreadsheet he's fairly certain his eyes are going to cross.

It's made marginally worse by the fact that they only got back twenty minutes ago.

"Remind me again why Harold wanted us to work on this case?" Danny asks for the second time today, Martin glancing up from his own work, smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

"It's all about filling quotas," Martin replies, the same answer he gave five hours ago and Danny shakes his head.

"So we're further along on this case, closer to closing it, and since we have a quota to fill, it gets precedence?" Danny clarifies, Martin smiling a second time, tilting his head in acquiescence.

Danny can't quite stop himself from rolling his eyes.

It earns another chuckle out of Martin, Danny pausing at the sound, glancing up to find Martin once again absorbed in his work, soft smile still playing across his lips.

Danny thinks he might actually be seeing Martin happy, something he doesn't think he's ever seen --certainly not in the last few days, but in the time he's been here, this is the first time Martin's seemed truly at ease.

Turning back to the files on his desk, the hours no longer seem quite as infinite as they previously did.

~~~

It's shortly after six by the time they pull together everything they need to close the case. Tomorrow it'll be up to the DA to have an arrest warrant issued and then the case will officially be out of their hands. Danny can't help but feel accomplished.

It's not as good a feeling as solving a Missing Persons' case, but it's close; close enough that Danny thinks he might even be able to get used to the sensation.

Martin's the first to call it a night, standing and reaching for his jacket, Danny's breath catching because Martin hasn't brought up his invitation since he issued it this morning and Danny's not sure what that means.

It could mean Martin's changed his mind, or simply forgotten, and Danny debates whether or not he should say something. The words are on the tip of his tongue when Martin clears his throat.

"I was thinking we could grab something to eat, too," Martin says, almost casually, like there's nothing odd about his suggestion, like he didn't just spend the entire day avoiding mention of their plans.

"Yeah, sure," Danny manages, not quite sure what to think of the offer.

Dinner is infinitely more intimate than drinks --better for him, though, since he doesn't drink, but Martin doesn't know that, yet, anyway. Still, dinner implies a commitment, whereas drinks are fairly casual, something Danny associates with co-workers. Dinner, on the other hand, Danny associates with dates.

Martin obviously doesn't seem bothered by that knowledge --if he's even aware of it-- slipping into his coat before glancing over, arching an eyebrow and Danny tells himself to stop looking for meaning where it doesn't exist.

By the time they make it onto the elevator, Danny's almost managed to push the thought aside.

~~~

They drive, something that strikes Danny as odd because the ride only lasts seven minutes and surely they could have just as easily walked.

Obviously it's too late to suggest the idea now, Martin already climbing out of the car, Danny following a second behind and Martin seems to know exactly where he's going.

Danny's tempted to ask, but Martin hasn't said anything since they first left the office and Danny's not sure where to begin. Instead he follows in silence, Martin leading them down a small street that Danny suspects might actually be an alley. The buildings around them are vaguely familiar and Danny finds himself frowning.

"Isn't this..." he gets out before Martin interjects.

"Pike Place? Yeah. Told you it was pretty cool."

And it is, Danny realizes, like a small town inside a city, the market itself closed down for the night, but several of the shops and restaurants are open, crowded despite the hour and Danny's suddenly glad Martin suggested dinner.

Martin stops suddenly, Danny coming dangerously close to bowling him over, stepping on Martin's heel in the process and Martin glances over his shoulder before nodding to his right.

There's no sign that Danny can see, just a door leading into a building and, despite the absence of sunlight, Danny's fairly certain the door is pink.

"The Pink Door," Martin announces, Danny's eyes widening in surprise, confusion appearing a moment later because the name sounds like it belongs to an underground gay club. "Trust me," Martin says, obviously registering Danny's disbelief.

Danny's not quite prepared for his first glimpse of the place.

Contrary to its name, the inside is neither pink, nor gay, but rather a small, eclectically decorated restaurant, filled almost to capacity and Danny finds himself even more confused than he originally was.

It's the kind of place he can hear Sam calling quaint --right before she threatened to kill him if he ever repeated her words-- the kind of place Danny's only ever been to before with dates and maybe Martin is aware of how much more intimate dinner is.

It certainly opens up all new sorts of possibilities.

Possibilities that Danny's not going to let himself think about, though, because this is still Martin --his partner and, what's worse, the son of Victor Fitzgerald, not to mention the guy who, until this morning, wasn't willing to extend even the barest hints of trust. In short, Martin is off limits.

He's so caught up in trying to convince himself that thinking inappropriate thoughts about Martin is a bad idea that he doesn't register them arriving at the table, not until he glances over and finds Martin staring at him, Martin having obviously said something and Danny smiles somewhat apologetically.

"Sorry, what?"

"I said, happy hour ends in thirty minutes, so we should probably order sooner rather than later."

And huh. That was something Danny wasn't expecting. The thought that maybe the only reason they're here is because Martin likes the place and their happy hour actually extends past six something Danny didn't even consider.

Slipping out of his jacket, Danny tells himself not to be disappointed.

Their table's tucked away in a corner, fairly quiet, despite the fact that the room is almost overflowing. Across the room a band is setting up on stage, but from the looks of it they're not scheduled to perform until much later. Sinking into his chair, Danny reaches for his menu.

"You a wine fan?" Martin asks, Danny glancing over to find Martin nose deep in the wine menu.

"Actually, I don't drink."

Martin glances up at that, open curiosity playing across his features and Danny shakes his head, not quite willing to have that conversation. Martin seems to understand, nodding like it's perfectly acceptable.

When their waitress shows up, Martin orders a club soda.

~~~

They stay later than they probably should, not really talking about anything substantial, but talking. By the time they make it back to Martin's car --and despite Danny's protests that he was perfectly capable of taking the bus, Martin insisted on giving him a ride home-- Danny knows more about Martin than he ever expected he would.

He knows that Martin has a sister, and that he's not married --doesn't have a girlfriend either, but Danny's not considering what that might mean. He knows now that Martin started with the Bureau about a year after Danny did, that he hasn't worked outside of White Collar and that, true to Martin's earlier words, Tyler really was his mentor.

Danny shared things about his life, too --like the fact that he grew up in foster care and wanted to become a lawyer. He didn't elaborate on why that didn't happen, glossing over his drunk-driving arrest, and the fact that it was then that he first quit drinking. In fact, Danny didn't touch on his alcoholism at all, but it was fairly obvious that Martin knew.

He kept ordering club sodas, after all, despite the fact that Danny told him, on several occasions, that it wouldn't bother him if Martin wanted to have a glass of wine. Martin just shook his head and mumbled something about driving.

They didn't talk much about the case, Martin giving him only the basics; an identity theft case that lead to a counterfeiting ring that eventually lead to members of the Russian Mafia, most of them working out of Brooklyn. Several times, Martin mused, they likely passed each other in the halls of the New York offices.

Apparently Martin's also familiar with Jack Malone, though whether through a personal meeting or Victor, Martin didn't say.

"This is where you give me directions," Martin says, tearing Danny from the memory and Danny glances over, only then realizing that they're still sitting in the parking lot, Martin eyeing him curiously and Danny laughs before answering.

"That would probably help. I'm on James Street, near Fourteenth," Danny says, Martin's eyes widening and Danny's tempted to ask.

He doesn't, not really wanting to know why Martin's surprised by where Danny lives. From what he's seen of Seattle, he knows it's not the best neighbourhood, but it's good enough for him and, besides, once Danny's settled, he doesn't exactly plan on spending a lot of time at home.

The drive to his apartment is made in silence, but the silence is comfortable, welcome, even, Danny more than just a little exhausted and Danny suspects that has a lot to do with their meal. He has to give Martin credit; the food was good.

"On the left," Danny says as soon as he spots his walk-up, pointing it out through the front windshield and Martin pulls to a stop along the side of the road.

For a moment, Danny swears Martin's going to say something, Martin seeming to argue with himself before he finally stills, fingers curling around the steering wheel.

"Thanks. For the ride, and..."

"Yeah. I'm glad we did this," Martin says, smiling then, eyes crinkling and Danny grins in response.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow," Danny says a moment later, Martin nodding, repeating tomorrow and Danny waves before climbing out of the car and heading toward his building.

He reaches the front doors before turning around, Martin still parked at the side of the street, watching Danny leave and the second Danny's hand closes around the doorknob, Martin pulls forward, making a u-turn before heading back the way he came.

Danny chuckles to himself before heading inside.

Chapter Text

Increasingly, morning brings an icy chill that reminds him that the seasons are about to change.

It's evident elsewhere, the leaves already turning, vibrant green replaced by soft shades of yellow and orange. They're not as vivid as they have been in years past, the summer wet this year and rain always mutes their colours.

There air is heavy with fog this morning too, something that Martin's come to associate with the transition between summer and winter. Around him, faint mist falls from heavy grey clouds, hovering on the verge of freezing.

It's the kind of day he wishes could be spent indoors.

The option doesn't exist today, though, Martin already running late, cursing the unusually heavy Sunday morning traffic before giving up and turning onto one of the side streets. His new route takes him out of his way, but traffic is non existent off the main streets, so despite leaving ten minutes after he was supposed to he still arrives on time.

He hasn't been here in months. Not since that night, Martin arriving back in Seattle alone, ignoring Harold's assurances that someone else could just as easily go in Martin's place. Martin knew it had to be him, though, for both of their sakes, and so he went, the hour far later than decorum suggested was acceptable.

She knew. The second she opened the door to find Martin standing on her doorstep, framed by a setting sun, she knew. Her bottom lip quivered and before Martin could get the words out, she was drawing him forward, into a fierce hug that made Martin crumble. Together they cried for hours.

He's not sure why she called him yesterday. He speaks with her occasionally, but it's usually he who calls her, checking in, as she puts it, and Martin stammers out an apology each time. He thinks she appreciates it, though, her tone shifting when she recognizes his voice, Martin somehow tied to the memory of the man she still loves.

Yesterday, though, she called him, wanting nothing more than a ride, a shoulder to lean on and Martin didn't hesitate before agreeing. Standing at the edge of the walkway that leads to her home --Tyler's home-- Martin wishes now that he had the strength to refuse.

She appears at the door before he's reached the first step, Martin pausing, waiting for her to come to him and his breath catches the second she slips outside.

He hasn't seen her since the funeral. She wore black that day, sombre clothes for a sombre occasion. Today her suit is pale violet, the material far too light for the weather. It's her eyes, though, that give him pause.

She's got twenty years on him, but looking at her now, Martin would swear she's aged ten years in the last four months. Her eyes are sunken, blackened by dark circles that seem oddly out of place against the paleness of her complexion. Fine lines hug the corners of her eyes, making her look almost haggard.

The light that once spoke of happiness is no longer there.

"Hello, Laura," Martin says, stepping forward, Laura smiling, but the smile doesn't touch her eyes, the sight sadder than anything Martin can ever remember seeing.

He may have lost a partner, but Laura lost a husband, and a best friend.

"Martin, it's good to see you again," is Laura's reply and Martin can't help but wonder why her tone doesn't match her appearance.

She sounds like she always has; warm and welcoming, full of life and tranquility. Laura and Tyler may have become surrogate parents for Martin, but for Laura, Martin was a long lost son, come home after years away. Despite Tyler's death, her tone suggests that she still feels the same.

Her grip is strong when she draws him into a hug, Martin's jaw quivering as he fights to hold back tears. When she pulls back, Martin can tell she's failed where he succeeded.

She wipes at her cheeks absently, Martin offering an arm, leading her down to his waiting car and her steps are slower than he can remember them being. She's aged beyond her time in more ways than one.

The drive passes in silence, Laura watching the changing landscape through the passenger side window, hands clasped in her lap, clutching her purse tightly. Her eyes close only once; when Martin pulls to a stop next to the towering iron gates of the cemetery.

She doesn't hesitate leaving the car, though, stepping out, resolve settling over her features and Martin knows this isn't the first time she's been, but for a brief moment he can imagine it might be.

He's been several times himself; weekly at first, his visits becoming fewer as the months wore on. Now he's lucky if he makes it once a month. Each time, though, there are fresh flowers resting next to Tyler's headstone, orchids that Martin knows are the work of Laura's hand.

"I spoke to Harold last week. He told me you have a new partner," she says as they walk, Martin glancing over, but her expression is blank, like she's commenting on the weather and not Tyler's replacement.

"I do," Martin confirms, still watching, but Laura merely nods.

"Good. That's good," she tells him, smiling for the second time since he picked her up. This time her smile manages to apple her cheeks.

Martin doesn't know how to respond to that, so instead he falls silent, steps slowing at they leave the path, Laura picking her way across the grass, Martin at her side as they make their way to Tyler's grave.

"He thought you were wilful and disobedient when you first started," Laura says suddenly, glancing over briefly when they reach Tyler's plot, smiling softly like the memory is a fond one.

Martin's not sure if she expects him to respond, so he remains silent, watching as she kneels to straighten fresh flowers that she likely brought with her the last time she came. A day ago, tops, from their condition, and Martin understands now why her hands are empty.

"He told me once that you were out to prove a point, and lacked the common sense needed to understand that there was no point worth proving," she continues, and Martin understands too why she asked him to come.

This is about Danny, Martin realizes, Laura giving permission in Tyler's name and Martin smiles at how well she knows him. How well she knew her husband.

"I was a pain in the ass, you mean," Martin clarifies, chuckling slightly, remembering how naive he was. How bent on breaking out from under his father's shadow and it was Tyler who taught him to make his mark, not with defiance, but with patience and perseverance.

"I believe that phrase came up once or twice," Laura confirms, and to Martin's surprise she echoes his laugh. "He was proud of you, you know," she continues a moment later, glancing over her shoulder, hand absently stroking cold, damp stone.

Martin nods and doesn't tell her that he knows.

~~~

On the nights following their dinner on Wednesday, Martin slept well.

Beyond well, actually, each night bringing a dreamless, restful sleep. He thinks a lot of that has to do with the fact that he finally told someone. That he finally opened up and relieved himself of a burden too long shouldered.

On Sunday, sleep eludes him.

He wakes in the dead of the night, the ghosts of his dream still lingering in the room and Martin passes the remaining hours staring up at his ceiling. Danny, Martin thinks, isn't capable of banishing Laura's ghost.

They didn't linger at the cemetery long, but afterwards she invited him for lunch, Martin unable to refuse and the afternoon was spent reminiscing. It brought new light to memories that had only just begun to fade, those memories carrying into the evening, Martin bringing them home and he suspects that is why the dream returned.

In it, he's standing in that alley in San Diego, watching Tyler die. Rain that Martin doesn't remember existing fell from a cloudless sky, mingling with Tyler's blood on the pavement, carrying it away in tiny rivers of crimson.

He's relived the scene countless times, yet each time he finds himself noticing a small detail that escaped his attention the last time. In his dream, Tyler's tie was red, something that Martin doesn't remember noticing before. He's not entirely certain the memory isn't a fabrication of his subconscious.

He gives up trying to sleep at exactly five-o-seven, the world still bathed in darkness and Martin reminds himself that the sun will rise early today; Daylight Savings Time has its advantages.

It's an excuse to shower and dress and head into work, anyway, so Martin does exactly that, arriving at the office shortly after six and the first thing he does is pull out the photographs from the crime scene. He's only marginally relieved to find Tyler wearing a blue tie in each of the photographs.

He stares at it for almost twenty minutes just to be sure.

Time moves quickly in the mornings, passing without fanfare and Martin's always surprised when Danny arrives. Martin doesn't notice his presence until a cup of coffee suddenly obstructs his view, Danny placing it on the desk in front of him and Martin blinks before glancing up.

This isn't the first time Danny's brought him a coffee. It's become almost a habit now, Danny arriving with two cups and Martin's not sure when he stopped brewing Bureau blend in the break room; when he started waiting for Danny's arrival, Martin growing strangely fond of coffee he once swore he'd never drink.

Martin smiles before reaching for his cup.

"Thanks," he says, watching Danny slide out of his coat, only then catching sight of the clock on the wall behind Danny's desk and Martin's smile shifts to a frown.

"What are you doing here so early?" Martin asks, Danny cocking his head to the side, eyeing Martin curiously.

"Early? It's eight-thirty," Danny replies, smirking like he finds it amusing that Martin's lost track of time.

Martin chuckles before answering.

"Seven-thirty, actually, and might I point out that I did remind you," Martin tells him, Danny frowning, eyes crinkling in confusion.

A second later his face falls, Danny groaning before shaking his head, glancing down at his watch before looking over his shoulder, eyeing the clock behind him with suspicion.

"Shit. I knew I forgot to do something," he says after a moment, Martin chuckling a second time, Danny joining him a moment later and the ghosts that Martin carried with him into the office vanish into the walls.

It's then that he realizes that Danny's presence is welcome, wanted even. He can't pinpoint when it happened, but sometime after their dinner --perhaps even earlier, but Martin can't be certain-- Martin came to accept Danny's presence, came to appreciate it in ways he didn't think possible.

What's more, he came to realize that he liked having Danny around, that he was looking forward to working with Danny, forging a partnership that Martin suspects might become stronger than any he's known, Tyler included.

The thought should make him feel guilty and Martin knows it would have before today. Laura's words changed that, though, Martin suddenly realizing that yesterday was about his need, not hers. Smiling, Martin finds himself oddly happy.

He's still smiling when he senses Danny's eyes, Martin glancing across their desks, finding Danny watching him and Danny nods to the file spread open on Martin's desk before speaking.

"That Tyler's case?" Danny asks, tone soft, hesitant even and Martin's smile slips away.

"Yeah," he admits, feeling suddenly awkward, because they haven't really talked about the case. Not since their dinner, anyway.

It feels awkward knowing that Danny knows, too; awkward no longer having to hide his involvement in the case, or the case's existence for that matter.

"Any progress?" Danny asks, sounding genuinely interested and Martin shakes his head before answering.

"I've been over it a million times, but..." he trails off, shrugging apologetically, hating that he still hasn't moved forward from the place he and Tyler left off.

"Well, if you ever want a second set of eyes..." Danny trails off, setting his coffee down, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the table and Martin's momentarily too stunned to speak.

Because Danny knows that Martin's not authorized to work on the case. Knows too that violating Harold's direct order could cost Martin his job. It's safe to assume Danny understands that any involvement on his part could damage Danny's career beyond repair.

"Danny..." Martin begins, the words dying on his tongue as Danny's expression shifts, open offering becoming nervousness, but Martin can tell he's more worried about Martin refusing than any repercussions he might face.

Martin finds himself suddenly touched, thankful in a way he wasn't expecting.

"I'd like that," he says after a moment, and Danny smiles, his appreciation obvious.

Martin doesn't hesitate before sliding across the file, gesturing for Danny to get himself up to speed.

Danny's smile lingers as he accepts the file, flipping it back to the front so that he can start at the beginning.

Chapter Text

For a moment, all he can do is stare at the picture paper-clipped to the inside of the file.

Martin hasn't told him much about Tyler, but from what little he did reveal Danny knows that Tyler is someone Martin cared deeply for. It's still strange, though, to merge Martin's words with the image before him.

This isn't even the first time he's seen the picture, but it is his first time seeing it, Danny actually looking and he can almost imagine what Tyler must have been like in life.

He was older than Martin, black hair speckled with grey, his build slightly stocky in a way that suggested he was no longer in the prime of his youth. His eyes hold warmth, though, his smile open and friendly and Danny thinks that he probably would have liked Tyler. It's his posture, though, that gives Danny pause. It speaks of authority and Danny suspects he was also a man worthy of respect and admiration.

In a way Tyler reminds him a little of Jack and Danny can almost draw the parallels between Martin and Tyler's relationship and his own relationship with Jack. Despite no longer working with the man, Danny still looks up to him, thinks of him as the father he never had and Danny's not sure how he would respond to witnessing Jack's death.

Were the situation reversed, Danny doesn't think he would have been half as accommodating as Martin has been.

It almost makes him want to apologize, because Danny knows his attitude during the first week probably didn't help. He doesn't, though, Danny acutely aware of the fact that Martin is watching him, likely waiting for Danny to start reading and Danny forces himself to glance at the words written on the first page.

Most of what he sees Martin's already told him. They spent three months under the assumption that they were working on a standard identity theft case. Shortly after the three month point, they tied one of their suspects to a group of Russians in Brooklyn, the group well known throughout the Bureau for their involvement in organized crime.

Identity theft escalated to fraud, which escalated to embezzlement, which escalated to money laundering. By the end of the fourth month, they were chasing a dozen different leads, each one worse than the last: drugs, prostitution, murder, extortion, smuggling, trafficking. Danny gives up halfway through the list.

In total they interviewed seventeen suspects, but lacked enough evidence to hold even one. Their one break in the case ended almost as soon as it began; a witness who claims he was paid to look the other way disappearing the day before he was set to go into protective custody. His body washed up in Port Angeles, just north of Seattle, four days later.

Danny gets halfway through the file before reading about Tyler's death.

Tyler was shot on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in the east end of San Diego. He was pronounced at the scene.

No witnesses came forward, no arrests were made, but they did find the girl they were originally there to interview. She died three days later in a holding cell in Los Angeles, the official cause of death ruled a suicide, but someone had circled the word, a question mark written beside it in red ink.

The rest of the report is hand-written, obviously Martin's, three pages worth of sprawling notes that Danny can barely decipher. The back of the file contains images and notes on potential suspects, Danny flipping through each one, putting names to faces and he gets to the second last page before stopping.

Viktor Baut, and Danny knows the guy.

He's ex-KGB and Danny interviewed him eighteen months ago.

"Martin," Danny says, calmly glancing up, Martin still watching him, but his expression shifts from nervous apprehension to mild curiosity.

"Find something?" Martin asks, and despite the fact that his expression doesn't change, his tone sounds almost hopeful.

"Maybe. I know this guy," Danny explains, turning the file around and sliding it back across the desk. Martin glances down at the picture pressed between two plastic page protectors.

"Baut?" Martin questions, glancing back up and Danny nods. "We spent three months trying to find this guy. We never did," Martin tells him.

"It took us four days," Danny replies, Martin's response an arched eyebrow that Danny interprets as a request for elaboration. "A missing Russian woman. About halfway into the case we discovered she was part of a prostitution ring working out of the Bronx. Baut owned the building," Danny explains.

Martin's eyes seem to light up at that, fingers nervously tapping against his desk as he tries to process the information. Danny waits, Martin obviously working out a connection. He's just about to ask when Martin speaks.

"The girlfriend. The one we were going to interview when..." Martin trails off, gesturing absently and Danny silently fills in when Tyler was shot, before nodding. "We think she might have worked as a prostitute in New York, but we couldn't figure out where..." Martin finishes, and Danny knows where he's taking the thought.

It's quite possible the two locations are the same, and if so that would give them a starting point to move forward. Unfortunately it would also mean a trip, and Danny knows that they won't be able to make it on company time. Knows too that that will make things difficult.

~~~

They fought about it, something that Danny knew would happen the second he suggested going to Harold, but it was either that or let a potential lead slip through their fingers and Danny knows this is the closest Martin has come to seeing the case move forward in a really long time.

Martin refused, though, claiming that it wasn't an option. He told Danny that he'd tried, asked on numerous occasions and each time Harold told him that he was too close, that the file was handed over to Organized Crimes for a reason and it was out of Martin's hands.

Danny pushed.

Martin ended the conversation by walking away.

He still hasn't come back, despite the fact that the day has officially begun, Tyler's file once again tucked away and Danny hates that they exchanged harsh words over it. It's made worse by the fact that this is the first time Martin's really trusted him --completely and utterly trusted him and Danny's fairly certain he's screwed up any hope of Martin ever opening up to him again.

He still thinks he's right, though; that Harold would understand, see the connection and know Danny's involvement is warranted.

He has an in, anyway, and that's more than Martin had, so it stands to reason that Danny could actually prove helpful. Then again, there's the off chance that Martin would turn out to be right, that Harold would force Danny to hand over the information to Organized Crimes and then they'd be right back to where Martin was before he let Danny in on the case; waiting.

They didn't talk about actually going to New York, even though Danny's certain they could probably squeeze a long weekend out of Harold. He didn't get a chance to offer, though, Martin vanishing and Danny's fairly certain that, when he does turn up again, he's not going to want to talk about it.

Which is exactly what happens, Martin returning twenty minutes later, single coffee in hand --and Danny can't help but notice that it came from the break room-- the hour closing in on nine-thirty and Martin stops by his desk only long enough to tell Danny to grab his coat.

Danny doesn't bother asking where they're going, practically having to sprint across the office to catch Martin before the elevator doors slide shut. The ride down to the parking garage is made in silence.

"Martin..." Danny tries as they reach the car, but Martin ignores him, climbing into the driver's side, starting the engine before Danny's even finished opening his door.

"Can you at least tell me where we're going?" Danny tries as soon as he makes it into the car.

Martin doesn't answer until they pull out of the garage, bright morning sunlight seeming oddly out of place against the dark clouds rolling in from the north.

"We have an interview to follow up on," Martin tells him, glancing over then, taking in Danny's frown and Martin sighs before elaborating. "Anti-trust case, remember?" he adds.

"I remember. And for what it's worth, I'm sorry," Danny replies, but Martin remains silent, eyes once again locked straight ahead.

~~~

He's taken to counting the number of times Martin actually acknowledges his presence.

It's going on three-o'clock and Danny's only up to six.

He's fairly certain he doesn't deserve Martin's silent treatment, but Martin seems to feel he's vindicated, ignoring each and every one of Danny's apologies and Danny's pretty much given up trying to get through to him.

Instead he's taken to getting Martin's attention in other ways. The fifth look he got came after Danny spent twenty minutes drumming his fingers on the desk, the sound loud and obnoxious to his own ears, so he knew eventually it would piss Martin off.


He didn't get actual words, but he got a glare and Danny's taking that as a silent victory.

The sixth look he got came during one of Martin's many coffee breaks, Danny following Martin into the break room, waiting until Martin leaned forward to pour himself a cup of coffee before accidentally bumping Martin's elbow, hot coffee spilling onto the counter.

Martin hasn't broken the sixth look yet, and Danny's counting on words. Hoping for words, anyway, because he's getting a little sick and tired of Martin ignoring him. Danny waits, arches an eyebrow, silently daring Martin to speak.

Martin merely shakes his head and reaches for a new styrofoam cup.

It's about the extent of what Danny can take and Danny reaches forward, plucks the cup out of Martin's hand before Martin's even begun pouring. This time Martin sighs.

"Danny..."

It's a warning, but it's also progress, so Danny smiles.

"Good, I thought you'd forgotten I existed," Danny tells him, watching as Martin shakes his head, setting the pot back down on the burner.

For a moment Danny's almost convinced that Martin's going to walk away, ignore this moment like he has every other moment and there's no way in hell Danny's going to let that happen. Before he can say anything, though, Martin's speaking.

"Look, we can't bring this to Harold, okay?" Martin tells him, tone exasperated, like he's tired of repeating himself, even though he hasn't actually said anything in hours.

"I know," Danny answers, Martin's eyes widening slightly. "I'm sorry I suggested it, but that doesn't mean we can't look into this."

Martin seems to consider Danny's words for a moment, eventually nodding and Danny releases a breath before continuing.

"If you don't want to go to New York, I know some people out there, remember? I could call in a favour or two and..."

"Okay," Martin interrupts, laughing suddenly, like he's only just realized how ridiculous the entire situation is. Like he's only just realizing how pointless their fighting was.

"Okay?" Danny questions, needing Martin to be sure, because the last thing he wants is for Martin to change his mind and retreat back to that place that Danny was starting to think might be impregnable.

Martin doesn't answer right away, instead leaning back, watching Danny like he's seeing him for the first time and Danny's not sure what he sees, but whatever it is, it must be good, because a second later he smiles.

"You really want to help with this, don't you?" Martin asks, Danny nodding and Martin's smile shifts to a grin. "Okay," he answers, and as soon as he says it Danny finds himself smiling, tension draining and it's not what Danny wants, but it's a start.

~~~

He forgets about it until Martin suggests they grab some dinner and figure out how they're going to move forward on Tyler's case.

Danny's halfway to saying yes when he remembers, and even then he briefly considers skipping out. He knows he can't, though, because one missed meeting leads to two missed meetings, which will eventually end with him half drowned in a bottle and that's not somewhere Danny wants to go.

Still, it means turning Martin down and Danny just finished assuring Martin that, yes, he was in this regardless of direction, even if it meant damaging his career. Martin seemed to appreciate that and now Danny feels like he's going back on his word.

"I can't... I have a... thing tonight," Danny answers and he's not sure why he can't just tell Martin where he's going. It would be so easy to say sorry, Martin, I have an AA meeting tonight, but the words won't come, despite the fact that Danny can tell Martin's disappointed.

"Yeah, no, that's cool. Sorry... I..."

"Martin..."

Martin stops whatever it is he was about to say, instead glancing up, smiling somewhat awkwardly and waving off Danny's response.

"You don't have to... I mean, you're allowed to have a social life."

And that, Danny will realize later, is what does him in. The thought of Martin thinking that Danny's skipping out on him for a date. The thought that Martin might think that Danny's social life is somehow more important than Danny's promise.

And that's what this is about, Danny knows, because the truth is he isn't invested in this case. He didn't know Tyler. He doesn't even know Martin all that well, but Danny's always been a man of his word and he told Martin he would help. Told Martin he wanted to.

"I go to AA meetings twice a week. Usually on Tuesdays and Fridays, but this week's Tuesday got bumped to Monday and I..." Danny trails off, glancing up to find Martin watching him, understanding and something Danny thinks might be awe --although surprise seems more likely when Danny thinks about it-- reflected in the depths of Martin's eyes.

The need to apologize is still there, but with Martin staring at him, Danny can't get the words past his tongue. They don't even form and Danny's not entirely sure what Martin's seeing. He's seen pity reflected back at him before, disgust even, but this is something entirely different. Something new and Danny's not quite sure what to make of it.

"I..."

"So I guess you're free on Tuesday, then?" Martin interrupts, the question taking Danny by surprise and he can't quite stop himself from chuckling.

"Yeah. I am," he answers, and it's a promise, Danny automatically setting aside the time.

Martin doesn't offer, but Danny knows it's unspoken. In the back of Danny's mind, he mentally notes that this, technically, could be considered their second date. Danny wonders idly if he'll get lucky on the third.

Chapter Text

He's forgetting something.

Something important if the email he sent himself from home this morning is any indication. Something that will likely land him in a lot of trouble if he doesn't remember, but unfortunately his only clue is a subject line that reads don't forget.

Harold scratches absently at his temple and tries to figure out why he didn't feel the need to elaborate.

It's something simple, then, something that should make perfect sense and...

Ah, of course.

Reaching for the pad of post-it-notes that permanently reside next to his telephone, Harold tears off a sheet and writes pick up milk in messy cursive before attaching the note to the bottom right hand corner of his monitor.

Deborah will kill him if he forgets the milk, again.

Well, she won't actually kill him --Deborah is, after all, the most patient and understanding woman he's had the pleasure of knowing, let alone marrying-- but she will likely give him the rough side of her tongue and Harold's been on the receiving end of that enough times to know that it's in his best interest to avoid pissing her off.

Keeping her happy is easy, though, provided he remembers the basics --like picking up groceries on his way home so that they can actually eat. Granted, he does forget more often than not, and perhaps it would be easier to simply buy Deborah her own car.

Reaching for the post-it-notes a second time, Harold tears off another sheet of paper and writes buy wife car in the same scrawling pen before placing the note next to the one he just wrote.

He can barely see his monitor for yellow slips of paper now, each one an important reminder for something he has due. He's thought about transferring the information, perhaps making use of the day planner his sons bought him for Christmas last year, but he's come to like his post-it-note system and he knows changing systems now would likely result in many a missed meeting.

And speaking of meetings; he has at least one this morning. Sometime soon, if he's not mistaken, and Harold starts in the bottom left hand corner, working his way around until he finds it.

And, ah, there it is.

Danny Taylor: 9:00

Now the only question is: did he actually remember to inform Danny of their meeting?

Perhaps not, Harold thinks, glancing at his watch, registering the time --ten past nine-- and Harold harrumphs before picking up the phone and dialing Danny's extension.

He's been meaning to do this for days now --since Danny and Martin got back from Los Angeles, actually-- but the thought somehow slipped his attention, only surfacing again yesterday and Harold knows a check in with the department's newest addition is long past due.

He's not too worried, though, because he knows Danny's in good hands. Martin's a very competent agent, after all, perfectly capable of training Danny and ensuring that Danny merges well into the department.

He's starting to suspect that Martin's in good hands too, Martin's mood improving dramatically since Danny's arrival and Harold's rather glad that he decided to bring Danny in.

He had to fight for Danny, after all. Oh, he was given his choice of agents, but the second he chose Agent Taylor, Martin's father stepped in, Victor adamant that Martin not be paired with one of Jack Malone's former agents. Harold doesn't know why Victor doesn't like Agent Malone --and granted, Harold's only meet Malone twice, but he seemed like a good enough guy, if occasionally prone to a little chaos-- but Victor's reaction only served to reaffirm Harold's thought that Danny would be good for the department.

Good for Martin, too, apparently, and that's part of why Harold fought so hard, because Martin has promise and Harold's not willing to lose an agent to grief. Not if he can help it, anyway.

A knock on the door startles Harold from his thoughts, Harold glancing down at the phone receiver still in his hand and, damn, Danny's fast.

"It's open," he calls, and a second later Danny pokes his head in the door.

"You wanted to see me?" Danny asks, looking slightly nervous, like Harold is the Spanish inquisition and Danny is... well, analogies have never been his thing, so Harold shakes the thought off and gestures for Danny to come inside.

Danny picks his way across the room, carefully sliding into one of the two chairs lining the front of Harold's desk.

"So how are things going?" Harold asks the second Danny is seated, Danny blinking, obviously surprised by the question.

"Um... Good, actually," Danny answers, tone slightly wary, like he's not entirely sure what to expect.

"Good, good," Harold replies, nodding because it really is good that Danny's good.

He's fairly certain this is the part where he makes small talk; chats absently about the department and asks after how Danny's fitting in, but Harold's never been a fan of beating around the bush, directness usually accomplishing the same objective in far less time. He doesn't hesitate, then, in getting to the point.

"I understand Martin's let you in on his little side project," Harold comments absently, watching as Danny's eyes widen and he's never been very good at reading people, but he's been doing this long enough to know that Danny's reaction amounts to confirmation.

Not that it was needed; Harold knows Martin's been working on the case that cost Tyler his life. He knows too that Danny's been helping him, twice in the past two days Harold coming in early to find the two of them hovering over the file.

Danny's still watching him, Harold realizes, perhaps expecting something more, perhaps uncertain of how he's supposed to respond. He looks even more nervous than he did when he first poked his head in the door and Harold finds himself taking pity on the guy, well aware of the fact that Martin undoubtedly forbade him from talking about the case.

"It's okay, I know," Harold begins, waiting for his words to register before continuing. "And technically I should write him up for it," Harold finishes, and it's true --there is a reason he took Martin off the case, even if Martin was too clouded by grief to see the logic behind the decision.

He needs his agents to approach a case with a cool head, and since Tyler's death, Martin has been anything but cool. Harold doubts the passage of time has changed that.

"Does he know?" Danny asks suddenly. "That you know, I mean," he elaborates, Harold shaking his head and Danny grimaces.

And this is the part where Harold should feel guilty, because he does know --has for months, actually-- and he could tell Martin, offer some support, but Harold's involvement means involvement up the chain and Harold doesn't want to see Martin reprimanded for something that, in Harold's opinion, is perfectly normal behaviour.

Harold has yet to meet an agent capable of moving on from a partner's death.

"I know he's too close to this," Danny tells him, sounding defensive, but it's obvious he's choosing his words carefully and Harold gestures for him to continue. "It's just... I think he needs to do this, you know?"

And Harold does know, but it's the first time he's heard someone else voice the thought --and he must admit; he's rather impressed with Danny for saying it.

"I know, and so do I," Harold responds after a moment, Danny glancing up, clearly surprised and Harold thinks that he should have brought Danny in months ago.

It's nice to know he's not the only one worrying about Martin's state of mind.

The rest of their meeting consists of formalities, Harold asking Danny standard questions, Danny answering them only half heartedly, obviously still preoccupied by their earlier conversation.

Ten minutes later he leaves, Harold watching him go, waiting until the door clicks shut before picking up the phone.

He might not be able to grant Martin full access to work on the case, but he can make it easier for Martin to pursue the leads he finds, something that he suspects Martin's needed since day one. It's almost ironic, when he thinks about it, that it took Danny replacing Tyler for Harold to realize that Martin needed closure.

~~~

Danny looks strangely calm when he gets back and Martin wants to laugh.

He told Danny there was nothing to worry about, that Harold merely likes to check in with each of his agents on the odd occasion. It's one of the things that make Harold a good boss and Martin's not entirely sure what Danny was expecting, but it's obvious that he's starting to see that.

"Everything go all right?" Martin asks all the same, Danny glancing over, eyes not quite focused and Martin finds himself frowning.

Danny blinks before nodding, still looking kind of stunned as he slides into his chair and Martin's not sure how he missed Danny's glazed look when he first got back.

The Danny before him isn't the Danny who came in early this morning and Martin's tempted to be alarmed. It can't be that bad, though, because Danny's still here, so obviously Harold didn't change his mind and transfer Danny out of the department.

That's pretty much the only thing that might explain Danny's sudden distraction. This morning he was bright and cheerful, showing up fifteen minutes after Martin got in --and Martin's still a little touched by that-- two coffees in hand and they spent the morning working on Tyler's case.

Danny told him that he called one of his former co-workers, a woman by the name of Vivian Johnson who conducted the Baut interview with him. She told him she'd look into it and Danny promised to send over what information he had. They were in the process of sorting out what to send when Harold called Danny into his office.

Danny went reluctantly, clearly nervous, despite the fact that Martin told him it was just a standard follow up. He doesn't seem worried now, just preoccupied, and Martin can't think of a single thing that might warrant Danny's mood shift.

"Danny, you okay?" Martin tries again, and this time Danny lets out a little laugh, the sound slightly manic and Martin's stomach clenches.

He shakes his head before answering, and even then he doesn't really glance over, speaking instead to the surface of his desk and Martin has to strain to hear his words.

"I think I might have inadvertently confirmed Harold's suspicions that you were working on Tyler's case," Danny tells him, glancing up then, making eye contact and the tension in Martin's stomach increases ten-fold.

"I'm sorry, you what?" Martin manages, shock outweighing his outrage and Danny winces before glancing away.

"I didn't tell him. He just knew. He asked me about it and I didn't deny it and... God, Martin, I'm so sorry," Danny says, tone pleading and Martin has to tell himself to breathe. "He seemed okay with it, though," Danny tacks on, almost as an afterthought and this time when he glances up Martin can see the pleading in his eyes.

It's enough to displace some of his anger, Martin calmly telling himself that this isn't Danny's doing. In all likelihood Harold's known for months --because nothing ever seems to escape Harold's attention-- and if he didn't bring it up with Danny he would have eventually brought it up with Martin.

He tells himself too that Harold's a good guy, that it would be just like him to sit calmly by and let Martin violate procedure without saying anything, even if it meant putting himself, and the department, at risk.

Danny just happened to get caught in Harold's trap, and Martin knows Danny can't be faulted for that.

"Okay. Um... okay," Martin stammers, because going over it logically may have sorted out his thoughts, but it did nothing to calm the panic threatening to overwhelm him.

"Maybe this is a good thing. I mean, he knows, right, so maybe he'll let us go to New York," Danny suggests, obviously aware of the fact that Martin's incapable of words.

Martin's not entirely sure Danny's right, but he tells himself that Danny might be, his panic dulling to mere discomfort at the thought.

"Yeah, maybe," Martin answers, mostly because Danny's still watching him, looking completely dejected and the last thing Martin wants is for Danny to blame himself for something he has no control over.

For reasons Martin can't explain, alleviating Danny of guilt is somehow more important than the possibility of Martin losing his job.

~~~

He spends the better part of the day waiting for Harold to call him into his office.

It doesn't happen, and by the time four o'clock rolls around Martin's so tense that he can barely move. Even Danny's commented on it, twice telling Martin to relax, that everything will work out. Martin appreciates the sentiment, but he doesn't exactly trust Danny's judgment.

Danny's new, after all, unfamiliar with the way things work in White Collar. Martin's been around long enough to know that even if Harold doesn't do anything, all it will take is word getting upstairs for things to get ugly.

At four-o-six, Martin glances up from the credit card receipts sitting on his desk, intent on acknowledging Danny's return, only to find Harold standing at the edge of Martin's desk.

Martin swallows before glancing up and making eye contact, feigning confusion because confusion is better than guilt.

Harold doesn't seem to notice.

In fact, he's not even looking at Martin. Instead he's staring past him, eyes locked on the photograph on the edge of Martin's desk --the one of the entire team, taken at last year's office Christmas party and Martin doesn't know why he chose to keep it out.

For a moment, Martin thinks that Harold might let it slide, leave without saying anything, but then he nods to himself, clearly intent on speaking his piece and Martin's breath catches as he waits for the words he knows are coming.

"I've officially had the case transfer back over to you. It's top priority, and they're expecting results, so I would suggest you get started on it," Harold says and for a moment Martin's too stunned to do anything but stare.

Harold seems to be expecting an answer, though, so Martin nods, clearing his throat before answering.

"Yes, Sir," he manages, Harold once again nodding and, then, just as quickly as he arrived, he's gone, vanishing back into his office.

Martin waits until he's out of sight to release a breath.

Danny returns from the break room a second later, Bureau brew in hand --and when Martin asked, Danny merely complained about the rain-- setting one of cups down on Martin's desk.

"So?" Danny asks, and it's obvious he witnessed the entire thing.

"The case is ours," Martin answers, smiling then, because Martin had pretty much given up hope of ever getting the case back.

Danny grins at him.

"Great. You book our flights, I'm going to go throw this crap out," Danny says, wrinkling his nose at his coffee and just like that he's gone.

Martin watches him go, only then realizing that Danny intends to leave tonight. It'll mean missing their dinner, but it's a fair trade as far as Martin's concerned.

Chapter Text

He calls Vivian from the airport.

Lets her know they're coming in and he can practically hear Vivian's smile.

It's still a long flight, a little over six hours and that'll place them in the city shortly before midnight. With the time change that puts them in New York in the early hours of the morning; too late to do anything useful, but it'll mean being able to get an early start and Danny knows he's not the only one excited about the prospect of moving forward.

Martin's practically twitching with anticipation. He keeps checking his watch, frowning each time like he somehow expects it to be later than it actually is. Danny doesn't point out that they haven't even boarded the plane yet.

He's not looking forward to the flight, but it's not the first time his job has forced him to spend hours trapped thirty-thousand feet above the earth's surface with nothing but a shell of aluminium for protection. He's more than willing to do it, though, and not just because he knows Martin needs to do this.

He's looking forward to going home, too, and it's only then that he realizes that he does still think of New York as home. It's his city, after all, the place he's spent the majority of his life and, even though he no longer has an apartment there, he's still looking forward to arriving, the thought of standing on a Manhattan street corner almost nostalgic.

He's looking forward to seeing Vivian too, even though he knows it won't be the same. Not without the rest of the team, anyway, and Danny's not entirely thrilled about the prospect of meeting his replacement.

He tells himself not to worry about it, the thought dissipating as their flight number is called. Danny stands, glancing at his ticket briefly before glancing over at Martin, Martin already out of his chair, bag strung over his shoulder and he's rocking on the balls of his feet, looking more nervous about the flight than Danny is. Danny knows it's not the getting there that Martin's worried about; it's the arriving.

It takes almost fifteen minutes to finish boarding, and by the time they close the doors the plane is only filled to half capacity. It means they have a lot of room, an empty seat between them and Danny finds himself oddly disappointed. Martin doesn't seem to notice, his hands clenching and unclenching, eyes locked straight ahead and Danny leans across the empty seat to place what he hopes is a reassuring hand on Martin's shoulder.

It's almost ironic that, this time, it's Danny comforting Martin and not the other way around.

Martin glances over a second later, as if he's only just registered the presence of Danny's hand. His expression is slightly confused, but confusion shifts to concern a second later.

"You okay?" Martin asks, like he's only just remembered Danny's reaction to flying and Danny finds himself oddly touched by how quickly Martin's attention shifted.

Having flown with countless people over the years, Martin, so far, is the only one who's actually bothered to remember Danny's fear of flying.

"Good, you?" Danny questions, and Martin nods, his smile slightly awkward and Danny squeezes Martin's shoulder before letting his hand fall back to his side.

He reaches for his seatbelt just as the plane lurches forward and starts taxiing toward the runway.

~~~

They're somewhere over the Midwest --as near as Danny can tell, but it's too dark outside to see the ground through the small window on his right, so Danny can't say for certain-- when Martin unbuckles his seatbelt and stands.

He doesn't say anything, but Danny watches him go, Martin navigating his way to the back of the plane, disappearing into one of the bathrooms and as soon as he's out of sight, Danny releases a breath.

He's been doing very well with the whole not panicking thing, the turbulence only slight, and for a while he even managed to forget where he was. Now that Martin's gone, though, Danny finds himself remembering, the flight attendants making their way up the aisle and this is one of the few times Danny has to actively fight against the urge to order a drink.

Martin makes it back before they arrive, Danny glancing over to find Martin watching him from the aisle and Danny attempts to smile, the gesture coming out forced and Martin glances over his shoulder, taking note of the approaching attendants before glancing back.

He nods then, sliding across his seat to claim the one directly beside Danny's. Danny offers a questioning glance that Martin meets with a shrug. When they attendants finally reach them, Martin orders a club soda, Danny asking for the same a second later, smiling softly when he finds Martin once again watching him.

"You know, Missing Persons was actually my first choice of assignments," Martin says as the attendants move past their row of seats, his words sudden, tone idle, but Danny knows the revelation is huge.

"Yeah?" Danny asks, finding himself oddly surprised that Martin wasn't given the assignment. He's certainly capable, and has the added advantage of being the Deputy Director's son.

Which doesn't really explain how he ended up in White Collar, and before Danny can stop himself, he's asking.

"So how'd you get stuck in White Collar?" he questions, fingers curling around the small plastic cup on his tray table as he waits for Martin's reply.

Martin laughs under his breath before answering.

"One of the many problems I mentioned having with my father," Martin says, and Danny knows his shock must be obvious, because Martin glances away, expression suddenly nervous, like he thinks he might have said too much.

Danny finds himself struggling for some kind of response.

He doesn't have one, though, because while he suspected Victor was responsible for Martin earning his position, Danny isn't prepared for the knowledge that White Collar wasn't what Martin wanted, that Victor influencing his placement wasn't favour, but rather some odd form of punishment and suddenly Danny has no idea what to think.

Beside him, Martin shifts, body tensing like he's considering moving back into his original seat and Danny knows that if he doesn't say something soon Martin will likely retreat back behind his wall. He doesn't know what to say, though, so Danny clears his throat, waiting for Martin to glance over before saying the first thing that comes to mind.

"I think you would have fit in nicely," Danny finally says, and Martin smiles somewhat shyly before nodding, the gesture silent thanks.

As soon as he says it he realizes it's true; Martin would have fit in well with the team. Vivian would have treated him like he was another of her sons, and Jack would have eventually given over his trust. Sam probably would have swooned over him --or at least pretended to whenever Jack was watching.

It would have been strange, to say the least, but Danny can almost picture it, the image hazy, but it's there.

"I put in a transfer request in the summer, just after..." Martin trails off, Danny glancing up, once again surprised and he blinks before completing Martin's sentence, wondering if Martin's ever actually been able to say the words --this isn't the first time that Martin's floundered on saying the words out loud.

"I guess it's probably good it didn't go through," Danny begins, Martin's expression shifting and too late Danny realizes he's offended him. "I mean, OPR investigations aren't all they're cracked up to be," Danny explains, tone teasing, and when Martin chuckles Danny finds himself oddly relieved.

"Yeah, I read that file," Martin answers after a moment and Danny cocks his head to the side, arching an eyebrow because, that, he didn't know.

"I'm guessing the file didn't mention that the Bureau needed a scapegoat after the missing daughter of a diplomat turned up dead?" Danny asks, Martin's smile shifting to something more apologetic before he shakes his head.

"No, but I kind of pieced that together on my own," Martin answers, holding Danny's gaze and Danny knows he's telling the truth.

It's nice to know, anyway, because Danny's not entirely certain how he would have reacted to learning that Martin actually believed the New York team was somehow responsible for the girl's death.

It's something that still makes him angry, anyway, and Danny has to force himself not to think about it, the topic too dark for extended contemplation.

Instead he finds himself trying to imagine what it would have been like to work with Martin in New York. He knows it would have taken them longer to get to know each other, mostly because the team didn't assign partners. And Martin probably would have ended up falling for Sam --because Danny has yet to meet a straight man who didn't fall for Sam-- and that would have been, well, awkward.

He finds himself chucking at the thought, laughing just under his breath and when Danny finally gets himself under control, he glances up to find Martin watching him curiously.

"Something funny?" Martin asks, Danny laughing a second time before answering.

"Just trying to picture you working in Missing Persons," Danny answers, and once again Martin looks offended. "It's just... I can see you getting involved with Sam and interoffice relationships are never..."

The rest of what he was about to say disappears, Martin looking strangely terrified and Danny frowns before asking.

"You know her?"

The terror vanishes almost as soon as it appears, something close to relief flickering in the depths of Martin's eyes and Martin exhales before replying.

"Her... Right, um, no, sorry," he says, shaking his head then, chuckling slightly and Danny's not quite sure what just happened, but he has a feeling it means something.

He doesn't have time to contemplate the thought, though, the seatbelt light coming on, the pilot's voice suddenly appearing over the intercom and Danny's suddenly too preoccupied by their impending landing to give it further thought.

~~~

He practically had to drag Martin to their hotel.

Martin fought him every step of the way, suggesting they head straight over to the building owned by Baut that was being used to house prostitutes.

It took Danny almost half an hour to convince Martin to wait until morning.

Vivian's meeting them at eight, after all, and she's already pulled all the information they'll need to begin their search. It's very likely Baut closed down the house in question --something that tends to happen after an FBI raid-- and opened up a new one elsewhere. The last thing Danny wants to do is head into this blind.

It means dealing with a pacing, antsy Martin, though, something that's starting to grate on Danny's nerves. It probably wouldn't be too bad if Martin would simply pace in his own room, but he showed up at Danny's door not ten minutes after they checked in, wanting to go over what few details they have and all Danny really wants is to go to sleep.

The clock on his nightstand displays four-eighteen in harsh red numbers and Danny knows the late hour, combined with the slight time change, will leave them exhausted before tomorrow has even started.

Martin doesn't seem to care.

In fact, he doesn't seem to want to sleep at all, assuming he can coast through on adrenalin alone and Danny knows that'll likely end up backfiring.

They need to be focused for this, after all; awake and alert and on Martin's fourth pass across the room, Danny pushes himself up off the bed, crossing into Martin's path to catch Martin by his shoulders.

"Martin," he starts, waiting until Martin stops long enough to acknowledge his presence before continuing. "You need to get some sleep," Danny finishes, and Martin nods weakly.

He makes no move to leave, though, shoulders drooping and Danny doesn't think before letting the hand wrapped around Martin's shoulder slide down, fingers curling around Martin's arm as Danny leads him over to the bed.

He goes willingly, letting Danny usher him into bed, not protesting the fact that the bed isn't his --and Danny's not entirely certain Martin even remembers what room they're in-- lying back without hesitation and Danny waits until he hears Martin's release of breath before moving back across the room, grabbing Martin's room key from where he left it on the table next to the door before heading out into the hall.

They'll have to juggle bags in the morning, but for now all Danny really wants is a good night's --what's left of it, anyway-- sleep.

Martin's room is an exact copy of his, but for some reason the room feels colder, sterile and empty in a way Danny's didn't. Danny ignores the impulse to head back into his room, kick Martin out --or maybe let Martin stay and the thought of sharing a bed with Martin is almost enough to overwhelm the logical part of his brain telling him that it's a bad idea-- and sleep in the bed he was pre-warming before Martin showed up at his door.

He tells himself they can switch back in the morning, Danny sliding out of the clothes he hastily threw on upon Martin's arrival before slipping into a slightly chilly bed.

 

Chapter Text

It's entirely too early when the alarm next to Martin's head sounds.

He feels like he hasn't slept at all, which is possible since he does have the hazy memory of pacing in Danny's room for half of the night.

In fact, he's not entirely sure how he made it back to his room, but he's fairly certain it's not important --just like it's not important that he somehow managed to fall asleep fully dressed. What is important is that they're meeting with Danny's former co-worker in just under an hour and the sooner they do that, the sooner they can move forward.

Despite the desire to get started, climbing out of bed requires energy Martin doesn't have, Martin stiff and sore from lack of sleep and the flight over. He makes it eventually, though, pausing to stretch before padding across the small room to his bag. He has to fumble with the zipper to get it open and...

Huh. These aren't his things.

In fact, if Martin had to guess, he'd say they were Danny's. Martin lets the small suitcase flip shut before examining the exterior and, yeah, definitely Danny's bag.

It comes back to him then, Martin flashing back to the night, the image of Danny leading him into bed crystal clear and Martin feels himself flush before sending up a silent prayer that he didn't do anything stupid.

He doesn't think so, but for the life of him he can't remember. He doesn't have long to contemplate the thought, though, a knock resounding through the room and Martin jumps before realizing who it is. Letting out a nervous chuckle, Martin runs a hand through his hair before making his way over to the door, swinging it open and, as expected, Danny's standing on the other side.

Martin's bag is dangling in his right hand and he holds it up, offering it over, a small smirk tugging at the corners of his lips and Martin wills himself not to blush.

"Sorry about that," Martin manages, gesturing for Danny to come inside, Danny's smirk widening as he crosses the room.

He eyes his unzipped bag, heat flooding Martin's face when he registers the fact that he was technically snooping through Danny's things.

"I thought it was mine," Martin says by way of explanation, but the excuse sounds lame to his ears, so he regrets the words immediately.

Danny merely laughs.

"It's okay, I did the same. Nice pajamas, by the way," Danny says, and now Martin knows he's blushing, his entire face so flushed that sweat actually breaks out on his forehead.

Danny doesn't comment, but it's obvious that he's noticed, smirk threatening to break into a grin and Martin chides himself for not being able to keep his cool. Once again he finds himself wondering if he said, or did, anything he needs to worry about.

He lacks control when he's tired; it was how Tyler found out Martin was gay, after all, Martin too exhausted to remember not to look and Martin can't even remember the guy he was checking out.

Whoever he was, Tyler noticed, and everything sort of went downhill from there. Granted, it worked out fine, Tyler completely accepting and, after, he --although Martin suspects it was actually Laura-- even tried setting Martin up with one of his neighbours.

Still, that doesn't mean that Danny will be as accommodating, and considering Martin came dangerously close to outing himself on the plane --and who names a girl Sam, anyway-- Martin doesn't want to even think about having accidentally let something slip out.

"So I'll see you in ten?" Danny asks, the question drawing Martin from his thoughts, Martin glancing up in time to see Danny picking up his now closed suitcase.

He nods his response, ignoring Danny's grin as Danny crosses the room and disappears through the door. He waits until the door clicks shut before releasing a breath, face still hot and Martin hates that Danny's managed to embarrass him.

He tells himself not to let it bother him; that they have a case to worry about, which, in the grand scheme of things, is far more important than the fact that Danny now knows what Martin sleeps in.

Far more important than the fact that Martin now knows that Danny doesn't pack pajamas.

~~~

He's seeing a side of Danny he's never seen before.

This is Danny in his element, Martin realizes, Danny's walk more confident than Martin can ever remember seeing and every person they pass earns a nod and a warm hello.

The Missing Persons offices are up on the twelfth floor and Danny seems to know exactly where he's going. It's an interesting change, following rather than leading, and Martin can't quite decide if he likes it.

It allows him to watch Danny unobserved, something that Martin rather likes, because he's learnt more just by watching Danny today than he has in the few short weeks he's known Danny. It's slightly awkward, though, Martin used to knowing his way around and, while he's been inside the New York offices before, none of his trips lasted long enough for Martin to get a feel for the place.

The same could be said on the drive over. They rented a car at the airport and Danny drove, weaving in and out of the streets like he knew exactly where he was going. He likely did, but by the time they pulled into the parking garage of Federal Plaza, Martin was hopelessly turned around. Usually, when he comes to New York, Martin travels by taxi.

They push through a set of heavy glass doors and just from the change in Danny's posture Martin knows that this is his old office. Danny seems comfortable, almost; relaxed in a way he hasn't in all the time Martin's known him and Martin's suddenly struck with just how hard it must have been for Danny to leave all this behind.

There's a woman standing at the edge of a long conference table, her back turned toward them and as soon as they reach her Danny clears his throat. She turns, eyes lighting up, smile breaking across her face and, this, Martin suspects, is the infamous Vivian Johnson.

"Vivian," Danny says, confirming Martin's suspicion. The use of her first name is a surprise, though, Martin under the impression that she was a superior.

"I see you made it in one piece," Vivian replies before Martin can wonder too long, her tone warm, friendly in a way that suggests the two of them know each other exceptionally well.

She closes the distance between them, pulling Danny into a hug and once again Martin finds himself surprised. The Missing Persons team was obviously a close knit group, Martin's starting to realize.

It's something that Martin's wanted from a team, but aside from assigned partners, bonds rarely form between the other agents. Martin doubts he knows Maureen half as well as Danny seems to know Vivian, and he's been working with Maureen for over two years now.

He doesn't have time to feel envy, Danny breaking the embrace, stepping back to bring Vivian into Martin's line of sight and Martin has to fight not to squirm under Vivian's scrutiny.

"This is my partner, Martin Fitzgerald," Danny says, the word partner coming out awkwardly and Martin can't decide whether Danny's just not used to saying it or Martin's just not used to hearing it from Danny.

"And this is Vivian Johnson," Danny finishes, Martin extending a hand, Vivian's grasp firm.

"It's nice to finally meet you," Vivian says, tone professional, but there's something in the way she strings the words together that suggests Danny's mentioned him to her. Martin's not entirely certain he wants to know what Danny's said.

"Likewise," Martin answers, Vivian holding his gaze for several more seconds before releasing his hand.

The way she watches him makes him feel like she's searching for something, but for the life of him Martin can't figure out what. Whatever it is, she obviously finds it, Vivian nodding to herself before glancing away, gesturing to the table, indicating they should take seats and Danny doesn't hesitate before sinking into one of the chairs.

Martin chooses a seat at his side, Vivian moving around the table to sit across from them. There's a stack of files at her right, and she reaches for the first in the pile, briefly flipping it open, glancing inside before closing it and handing it over.

Danny accepts it with a nod.

"This is everything we have on Baut from our investigation," Vivian tells them, clearly having shifted into work mode and Martin finds himself slightly intimidated by how quickly she managed to shift gears.

"And the rest?" Danny asks, not breaking stride, obviously knowing Vivian well enough to play off of her demeanour.

"Profiles on all of the girls we pulled out of the house," Vivian explains, grabbing the remaining files and moving them to the centre of the table. "I arranged for a couple of agents to go down to the property, but it looks like it's abandoned."

The news isn't what Martin wanted to hear, but he's not surprised. Still, his features twist, a frown settling on his lips and as soon as Vivian sees it she arches an eyebrow. Martin offers an apologetic smile, but Vivian's no longer paying attention, her eyes focused on Danny instead and Martin knows they're likely holding an entire conversation.

"Thanks, Viv. I think we can work from here," Danny says after a moment, Vivian nodding, pushing herself out of her chair, standing and she pauses before leaving.

"If you need anything else, just ask. I've had an office set aside for you, but I imagine you'll want to look in on Baut's last known address first," Vivian replies, gesturing to the file and beside him Danny grins.

"You know me too well," he answers, Vivian laughing softly, shaking her head.

She makes her goodbyes with a second firm hand shake for Martin, and a softer, more intimate hand shake for Danny. By the time she disappears through the glass doors, Danny's already on his feet, files clutched to his chest.

"You ready?" he asks when Martin glances over, Martin nodding and Danny doesn't wait before heading back the way he came.

Martin doesn't hesitate before following.

~~~

He feels like they're running in circles.

He imagines part of that has to do with the fact that he doesn't know the city, and so far every street corner in Brooklyn looks exactly like the one before it. In fact, if it weren't for the street names, Martin would think they'd spent the better part of the day standing in one place.

Baut wasn't at his last known address; in fact, his last known address was actually a factory that made women's shoes. His bank information has changed since Danny's investigation too, likely something he did shortly after he was brought in for questioning.

They've been to three former whore houses too, but each of those turned up empty and the only girl they were able to find was living with her mother in Queens and knew nothing about her former employers.

They haven't exhausted their leads, yet, but they're coming damn close and Martin's starting to suspect that this trip was a waste of time. They're no further to solving the case than they were when they left.

Danny's still driving, pulling onto a street that looks just like the street they left and Martin's long since given up trying to figure out where he is. Somewhere in New York is the extent of his knowledge.

It's not until Danny stops that Martin notices one of the street signs, the second last place on their list and Martin waits for Danny to cut the engine before reaching for his seatbelt.

Beside him Danny tenses.

"Hold on," Danny says, reaching over, two of Danny's fingers pressing against the back of Martin's hand to keep him from unclasping the belt.

Frowning, Martin glances out Danny's window, squinting before he registers what Danny's seeing. A short, squat building with covered windows, two men leaving and from their complexions, Martin's almost certain they've been engaging in physical activity.

"I think we just found our new location," Danny says, sounding more than just a little pleased and Martin's tempted to get out of the car and rush inside.

Danny's holding him in place, though, effectively trapping Martin in his seat and it's obvious Danny wants to wait before heading inside.

"We going in?" Martin asks after a moment, impatience surging in his chest, because he's come all this way and the last thing he wants to do is sit in a parked car and watch.

"Just a second," Danny answers, glancing away from the window only long enough to make eye contact.

Martin nods his response.

Two more men approach the building, obviously business men having just finished their work day, likely heading in for a workout before heading home to their wives and families. Martin feels slightly sick.

He's never understood infidelity --never understood the need to pay for sex either, but that's beside the point.

The sight makes him want to head inside sooner rather than later, scare the crap out of the two men so that they won't return. Danny's still restraining him, though and Martin's tempted to protest. He's halfway to saying something when he spots him.

At first, he's not sure it's the same guy; the two men slip in, the man inside, obviously manning the doors, glancing out, peering in both directions before closing the door and a second later Martin realizes why the guy looks so familiar.

"Danny, it's him," he gets out, pushing Danny's hand out of the way to reach for his seatbelt.

"Baut?" Danny asks, tone doubtful and Martin shakes his head before jumping out of the car.

"No, the guy who shot Tyler," Martin gets out before slamming the door shut, jogging across the street, already reaching for his service weapon.

Behind him he hears Danny exiting the car, the sound of the door slamming shut, but Martin doesn't bother waiting, instead forcing his way inside, gun drawn, ignoring Danny's shouts of protest behind him.

Chapter Text

"Shit," Danny curses, watching helplessly as Martin darts across the street, Martin's words still ringing in his ears and Danny fumbles with his seatbelt before getting out of the car.

Martin's managed to pull out his gun, his entire posture suggesting that he's about to do something stupid --like break down the door and... yep, there he goes.

Danny's officially going to kill him.

Danny's never really been fond of procedure, but on occasion --this occasion, in particular-- procedure does tend to come in handy. Martin running in blind will likely set them back further than they were before they started.

"Martin!" Danny shouts as he gets out of the car, slamming his door shut before jogging across the street, drawing his weapon and Martin obviously hasn't heard --or if he has, he's purposely ignoring Danny-- because he's through the door before Danny even reaches the sidewalk.

Danny makes it through the front door just in time to catch a glimpse of movement heading down the back hall, toward the back door and Danny curses a second time, trying to keep Martin in his line of sight while still scanning the room to ensure he's not going to get shot.

If Martin ends up getting him killed, Danny's really going to kill him, even if he has to come back from the grave to do it.

There doesn't seem to be anyone in the house, though, but several of the doors are shut and he can hear crying --the sound distinctly female-- so whoever it is, they likely witnessed Martin rushing in with his weapon drawn.

Danny weaves his way through the back halls, the door leading out back half open, evidence that Martin's just passed through it, and Danny spares just enough time to glance over his shoulder before moving forward.

His hand's on the doorknob when he hears it.

A single gunshot, the sound ringing out and Danny's heart momentarily stops.

It starts again a moment later, breath rushing into him, lungs expanding almost painfully and Danny rushes outside, not bothering to check to see if the way is clear.

Twenty feet from the back door, standing in the mouth of an alley, is Martin.

Relief steals Danny's breath a second time.

Martin's gun is drawn, trained on something on the ground and Danny inches forward until he's standing at Martin's side, scanning Martin from head to toe, not turning away until he's certain Martin's unharmed.

The guy Martin was chasing is sprawled out on the ground, weapon lying in his open hand, blood pulsing from the open wound on his chest. Danny glances back toward the house before turning back to the scene, forcing himself to move forward and as soon as he reaches the guy's side Danny kicks the gun out of his hand.

Behind him, Martin hasn't moved.

"Martin, Martin," Danny calls over his shoulder, kneeling to take the guy's pulse and when he doesn't find one Danny hisses.

Martin doesn't answer him.

"Martin. Was there anyone else in the house?" Danny asks, louder this time, the question barked, because for all Danny knows there could be ten guys about to swarm down on them.

Behind him, Martin shifts.

"Martin?"

This time Danny's forced to turn, catch Martin's eye and only then does Martin lower his gun.

"Um... no, just him," Martin answers, but Danny's fairly certain that Martin wasn't paying attention.

He went in too fast, after all, giving chase without assessing the situation and Danny shakes his head before glancing back toward the building. A curtain shifts, but aside from that, nothing moves.

Still watching the building, Danny pulls out his cell and calls for backup.

~~~

The investigation lasted three hours.

Three hours spent standing outside in the cold, surrounded by pulsing light; blue and red that cast long shadows across the ground and, when Danny closes his eyes, he can still see the imprint of colour against his eyelids.

Martin remained motionless throughout the investigation. Now, he can't seem to stop moving.

He's pacing again, up one side of Danny's room and down the other, the movement so reminiscent of the previous night that Danny's momentarily overwhelmed by a sense of deja-vu.

He hasn't spoken. Not since they arrived. Not since before they left, actually, and even then it was only to answer questions, each response a single yes or no given in monotone.

"Martin? You okay?" Danny asks, tentatively, the second time he's tried.

Martin's steps falter.

"Honestly?" he asks, but he regains his footing, continues his pacing.

Danny doesn't answer, instead nodding, despite the fact that Martin hasn't once glanced in his direction. Hasn't looked at him at all, not since they first arrived back at the hotel, Martin wordlessly following Danny into his room and almost as soon as Danny closed the door Martin took up his restless movement.

"Not really," Martin admits, laughing suddenly, the sound striking Danny as not entirely sane.

"Martin..."

And this is something he doesn't know how to deal with, because he's never seen Martin like this before. Never seen Martin on the verge of falling apart and Danny suspects that is exactly what's going to happen.

"It was him, Danny," Martin whispers, so quiet that Danny finds himself leaning forward, half tempted to climb off the bed and cross the room to Martin's side.

"Who?" he asks instead, keeping his voice low.

Martin stops at that, freezing in the centre of the room, eyes fixed on the far wall, but Danny can't tell if he's actually seeing it.

"The guy who shot Tyler," Martin answers after a moment, sounding more broken than Danny can ever remember hearing.

"You're sure?" Danny asks, mostly because he can't read Martin right now, so for all he knows Martin is reaching for something that isn't there.

"Yeah," Martin answers, letting out another laugh, this one more desperate than the first and Danny cringes at the sound.

It sets him moving, though, Danny standing cautiously, not wanting to do anything that might start Martin pacing again.

"I killed him," Martin says before Danny's taken two steps, Martin glancing over then, catching Danny's eye and Danny's breath catches at the raw pain reflected in the depths of Martin's pupils.

"It was a clean kill," Danny tells him, knowing now that Martin's not entirely sure, despite the fact that they were both cleared at the scene.

"Was it?" Martin questions, shaking his head and before Danny can respond he's moving again.

"He would have shot you," Danny says, and it's true, regardless of whether or not Martin killed the man intentionally.

He could have, Danny knows, and Danny probably wouldn't even blame him if he had --if the situation were reversed, Danny knows what he would have done.

Martin doesn't answer, but his pacing becomes almost frantic, Danny once again forced to intercept him, stepping into Martin's space, reaching forward to catch Martin by his shoulders.

For a moment, he thinks Martin's going to walk right through him, Martin stepping into Danny's space, only stopping when Danny applies pressure to his shoulders and then, when he does stop, Danny's half afraid he's never going to move again.

His shoulders droop, head dropping to his chest and Danny doesn't question what he's doing before squeezing Martin's shoulder gently, rubbing small circles that are meant to be soothing.

"I shouldn't have shot him," Martin says, the words muffled and Danny has to lean forward just to catch them.

"He would have shot you," Danny says a second time, the reminder gentle, but Martin doesn't seem to notice.

He nods, though, as though Danny's explanation makes perfect sense. Danny doubts he's actually heard.

He does glance up, gaze focusing over Danny's shoulder, eyes fixing on the far wall and Danny finds himself squeezing Martin's shoulders a second time, shifting him until Martin finally twists his head to make eye contact.

"It was clean," Danny says, and this time the words seem to register, Martin holding Danny's gaze, eyes flashing with something that Danny thinks might be regret.

"I still shouldn't have killed him."

This time the words are whispered and Danny's not quite sure how to respond. The guy would have been more useful alive, but more than that, they are trained to take down a suspect without lethal force.

Martin shot to kill.

"It doesn't matter anymore," Danny finds himself saying, and it's true, the past unchangeable and Martin seems to get that.

He nods anyway, glancing down, releasing a breath before glancing back up again and this time his eyes are searching.

Danny's not sure what he's looking for, but whatever it is, he seems to have found it, Martin's shoulders relaxing under Danny's hands, tension fading from his features and Danny's halfway to letting his hands drop back to his side when Martin shifts forward.

The move is awkward, hesitant in a way that suggestions Martin's not entirely sure what he's doing. In truth, neither is Danny, not until he feels Martin's breath against his lips, anyway, and suddenly Danny's entirely too aware of Martin's intentions.

It hits him like a revelation, Danny's head spinning at the implications and, for a moment, Danny's tempted to lean forward and meet Martin halfway.

He knows he can't, though, Martin too raw, too hurt and Danny hates that he's forced to pull away.

"Whoa... that's probably not a good idea," he says, cringing at the brief flash of hurt that flickers across Martin's eyes.

It vanishes almost as soon as it appeared, Martin pulling back, releasing a breath and he's halfway across the room before he speaks.

"No, no it's not," he says, not waiting for Danny's reply before slipping out the door.

Danny watches him go and tries not to question what just happened.

~~~

He lasts an hour.

An hour of pacing and Danny finds it only marginally ironic that Martin wasn't around to watch the role reversal.

He couldn't quite help it, though, the thought of Martin's heat --Martin's breath against his skin and, God, what was he thinking telling Martin no?-- leaving him tense and wanting and Danny hates that he couldn't just let himself give in to impulse.

He's giving in to impulse now, the hall outside his room brighter than he was expecting, so Danny squints, glancing down at his feet to watch the passing of the floor as he makes his way to Martin's room. His knock is too loud by far.

Martin answers in a pair of boxers and a t-shirt.

Danny doesn't ask what happened to his pajamas.

He doesn't speak at all, instead forcing his way inside, Martin expression knowing, like he's been expecting Danny's arrival since he left and Danny's tempted to turn around and head back the way he came.

He doesn't, though; too busy getting inside, kicking the door shut behind him and the sound of it connecting is deafening.

The silence that follows is even louder.

Martin still hasn't said anything.

He's not going to, Danny realizes, still lost in his grief and his doubt and Danny knows this isn't about them. This is about distraction, and Danny doesn't think before backing Martin across the room, Martin's legs eventually connecting with the bed and he falls somewhat gracelessly.

Danny doesn't hesitate before falling to his knees.

He's vaguely aware of the fact that he's about to suck Martin off, without having kissed him, and Danny can't count the number of one night stands that have begun this way. He's fairly certain this doesn't count, though, Martin watching him, eyes almost daring and Danny runs his hands up the insides of Martin's legs.

Martin hisses at that, leaning back, not enough to fall onto the mattress, but far enough that he ends up resting on his elbows, legs splaying open, hard cock straining against his boxers and Danny flashes back to their conversation on the plane, suddenly understanding Martin's reaction.

It's only then that Danny notices the unmade bed, and the box of Kleenex positioned just so on the nightstand. It explains the absence of pajamas, and the endless seconds it took Martin to answer the door.

Danny's tempted to ask if Martin was thinking of him.

The words won't come, though, Danny terrified to put voice to what it is they're about to do.

There are a million questions on the tip of his tongue --things like, why didn't you tell me you were gay? and is this going to fuck everything up?, but Danny can't bring himself to ask any of them.

Instead he lets his fingers ghost further up Martin's thighs, brushing against the underside of Martin's balls before shifting up, rubbing his palm against the length of Martin's cock.

This time Martin groans.

The sound is faint, but so real that Danny actually shivers, cock twitching with need and Danny has to remind himself that this isn't about him.

It's about Martin.

Martin, whose entire body is flushed so red that Danny's half afraid he might burst into flames. It's hot in a way he wasn't expecting, despite the fact that Danny's seen Martin blush before. Not like this, though, and the sight makes Danny want to pull off all of Martin's clothes, sit back and just look, memorize all of Martin's stained skin so that, tomorrow, he can recall every detail.

Danny's fairly certain he won't be given another opportunity to see Martin like this.

He was certain even before he made the decision to come. In fact, Martin doesn't even seem to be aware of him, his eyes locked on the ceiling, breath coming out in laboured pants and for all Danny knows he's thinking of someone else.

Not that it matters, though, because it's obvious Martin needs this, so Danny lets his hands trail back down Martin's legs, hooking either hand behind Martin's knees to pull him forward.

Martin lets himself be moved, legs splaying a little wider and when Danny leans forward, blowing hot air against the fabric of Martin's boxers. Martin whimpers and bucks forward.

Danny takes that as a good sign, suddenly aware that Martin's done this before, that this isn't something new and for reasons that Danny can't explain, the knowledge makes him feel just a little better.

Like he's not really taking advantage and Danny waits until Martin stops thrusting before wrapping his mouth around the head of Martin's cock, sucking it through the cotton of his underwear.

"Jesus," Martin says, and Danny's so surprised by the word that he almost forgets what he's doing.

Almost, but not quite, because he can taste Martin on his tongue, feel Martin stretching his lips and the reality of it makes forgetting impossible.

Martin grunts when Danny pulls back, Danny ignoring the sound, fumbling for the waistband of Martin's boxers, struggling to pull them off and it's not until Martin arches up that Danny gets them down, leaving them around Martin's ankles before surging forward, claiming Martin's cock bare and his eyes close at the sudden heat.

The taste is twice as strong without the barrier of cotton; like earth and male and want and things Danny hasn't truly let himself think about. The scent is stronger still, musk so heady it makes Danny dizzy, Danny not quite able to resist inhaling sharply, drawing it all in, committing it to memory for when he returns to his own bed and his own box of Kleenex.

Beneath him, Martin shifts, pushing himself past Danny's lips, the tip of his cock gliding across Danny's tongue, seeking further back and Danny brings his hands up to wrap around Martin's hips, holding him steady so that Danny can set the pace.

He starts out slow, learning Martin's texture, Martin's weight. Feeling the silk of Martin against his tongue, liking the stretch of his lips around Martin's width.

And this is something he's pictured before, but only in passing. It's certainly not something he ever thought he'd be doing and, for a moment, the entire thing is so surreal that Danny's half convinced he's dreaming.

It would certainly make sense, because Martin's never once expressed interest --unless their dinners really were dates, in which case Danny's not as perceptive as he thought he was. It's more than that, though, because they really don't know each other.

Not well, anyway, which isn't normally a problem, but Martin's the first co-worker Danny's ever slept with --if he can even call this that-- and he's fairly certain a rule exists concerning time frames.

Hell, they've only just begun to trust each other, but it's certainly not absolute and that knowledge makes the experience all the weirder.

"Danny..."

It's not until Martin says it that Danny realizes he's drifted and Danny curses himself; sucks hard as if to make up for the momentary lapse because the last thing he wants is for Martin to think he's bad at this.

Martin moans at that, the mattress shifting beneath him and Danny knows he's collapsed onto his back. It's slightly vindicating, in a way, and Danny forces himself to concentrate, ignoring the small voice in the back of his head telling him this is a bad idea.

It is a bad idea, but when Martin bucks beneath him, the voice vanishes, along with the thought and all Danny can focus on is the feel of Martin straining against his lips.

And he does strain, fighting against the hands pinning him down, like he wants to fuck Danny's mouth in earnest and Danny's tempted to let him. He doesn't, mostly because he doesn't trust Martin enough to give over complete control --not yet, anyway, and Danny scolds himself for thinking there might be a next time.

Instead he picks up the pace, leaving one hand against Martin's hip to press him into the mattress, the other sliding between Martin's legs to cup his balls, letting them settle gently on his palm before squeezing lightly, playing with their weight.

It earns him another whimper, and considering how silent Martin's been, Danny takes that to mean he approves. He whimpers a second time when Danny draws back, wrapping his lips around Martin's head to suck before relaxing and sliding back down.

He almost makes it to Martin's base, wiry hair tickling against his nose and Danny waits until he feels the head of Martin's cock brush against the back of his throat before swallowing.

Martin mews.

Shivers beneath Danny's hands.

Danny tries to smile. Fails miserably and swallows a second time.

It's enough to send Martin over the edge, Martin bucking so hard that Danny's hand becomes useless, Danny's fingers curling around Martin's hip, his grip so tight that he knows, come morning, he'll have left bruises.

Martin doesn't seem to care, his entire body tensing and Danny has just enough warning to pull back before his mouth is flooded with come.

He doesn't pull off until Martin once again collapses down onto the bed.

Letting Martin fall out of his mouth is almost disappointing, Danny licking away the single pearl of come sitting in Martin's slit before letting him go, licking his own lips and swallowing against the residual come in his mouth. Somewhere in the back of his head, Danny notes that this is the first time since high school that he's given someone a blowjob without a condom.

It should worry him, but this is Martin, and agents are regularly screened, so Danny knows he's fairly safe.

Sitting back on his heels, Danny takes a moment to admire the sight of Martin spent. He hasn't moved, but his breath is still uneven, his chest rising and falling faster than it should.

He's still flushed red, too, his t-shirt having ridden up to expose the expanse of his stomach. Danny hesitates for a half a second before reaching for Martin's boxers, slowly drawing them up Martin's legs.

It gets Martin's attention, Martin sitting up suddenly, Danny tensing and he has to force himself to glance up and make eye contact, terrified at what he might find reflected in Martin's eyes.

Martin's eyes are merely glazed.

"Sorry... I..." Danny trails off, shifting back, pushing himself to his feet, ignoring the impulse to adjust himself.

And this is almost awkward, standing over Martin, Martin's boxers still hanging around his knees, Danny fully dressed and Danny has no idea what he's supposed to do.

Martin makes the decision for him.

He hooks a finger through Danny's belt loop, pulling him forward and Danny's so surprised that he stumbles, just catching himself, barely avoiding falling onto Martin's lap.

"You're not leaving, are you?" Martin asks, sounding almost nervous and Danny can't quite mask his shock.

It's the last thing he was expecting, Danny managing to shake his head and Martin smiles, continues drawing him forward until Danny's knees hit the bed, Danny effectively trapped between Martin's spread legs.

"'Cause I think there's a rule about reciprocation," Martin continues, the words confident, but Danny can tell Martin's not.

"You don't have..." is all he gets out, Martin's knuckles brushing against the outline of Danny's erection and whatever he was about to say is lost.

Once again he's almost certain he's dreaming, watching from afar as Martin carefully works open Danny's zipper. As soon as he has Danny's pants undone, he tugs at the material, pulling them over Danny's hips, letting them fall to pool around Danny's ankles.

"Jesus..."

And it's not until Martin says it that Danny realizes he's wearing a very tight pair of red boxer-briefs. He likes them because they're comfortable, but Martin seems to approve for different reasons, thumb brushing against the outline of Danny's erection and Danny's head falls back, eyes closing at the sensation.

It lasts only a moment, Martin obviously impatient, his hands tugging at Danny's waistband and as soon as he gets them off he's leaning forward.

Taking Danny into his mouth, Danny's hands coming up instinctively to cup the back of Martin's head, fingers threading in his hair.

Martin seems to approve of that, sucking on Danny's head and Danny's eyes fly open at the feel of warm, wet heat. He glances down to find Martin watching him, eyes wide like Martin's cataloguing Danny's reaction and Danny fights against the urge to close his eyes a second time.

He wants to watch this, after all, Martin's mouth moving against his cock, taking Danny deeper and Danny's fingers clench, pulling at Martin's hair when Martin reaches his base.

It's obvious Martin's done this before too.

Probably more often that Danny would have suspected, Martin surprisingly good, knowing just how to use his tongue, applying just the right amount of pressure, lips wrapped around his teeth to keep from scraping and suddenly Danny knows that once will never be enough.

Nowhere near, actually, the thought solidifying as Martin's hand settles under Danny's balls, kneading them softly before his fingers slide back, Martin not stopping until he reaches Danny's opening, pausing then to play with the soft ring of muscles encircling Danny's hole.

"Please..."

And he's never been one for begging, but more than anything Danny wants to feel Martin pressing inside. Martin's response is a groan, his hand pulling back, his mouth following a moment behind, Danny's cock sliding out with a wet pop and Martin replaces it with two of his fingers, coating them in saliva before once again slipping his hand between Danny's legs.

Danny almost comes at the first stretch.

It takes effort to hold off, Danny's effort wavering when Martin once again takes Danny into his mouth, sucking hard, simultaneously pressing his fingers inside and Danny manages a choked off grunt in place of warning.

Martin doesn't quite make it back in time, choking slightly on Danny's come, but Danny's too far gone to care. He feels like he's falling, his entire body tense, blood pounding in his ears and as soon as it's over Danny sags, dimly aware that Martin's licking him clean, fingers still buried inside.

Later, he won't quite remember moving. One minute he's standing between Martin's legs, Martin's hand against his hip the only thing keeping him standing, and the next he's sprawled out across Martin's bed, shirt impossibly wrinkled, tie loose and pants still trapped around his ankles.

He's still wearing his shoes and Danny opens his eyes to find Martin sliding them off. Danny smiles at that, a sleepy, dopey grin that would probably embarrass him if the situation was anything other than what it is.

He has a feeling tomorrow will be different, but for now Danny's more than content to let Martin undress him, Danny completely naked before Martin slips into the bed beside him, drawing the covers up and Danny smiles a second time before closing his eyes.

 

Chapter Text

He realizes he's naked before he registers the warmth emanating from the space next to him.

It's the warmth that triggers the memory.

Danny, and what has he done?

Panic surges at the thought, Martin's chest constricting painfully and he squeezes his eyes shut, not quite prepared to open them.

Not quite prepared to deal with the ramifications of the night and...

Oh, God. He killed someone.

Actually killed someone, the image of a man bleeding on the ground suddenly appearing and Martin swallows against the bile making its way up his throat.

And granted, the man did kill Tyler, but he was still a human being and Martin's never actually killed someone before.

He's pulled his gun before; shot a man in the shoulder once and Martin still has nightmares about that. But this, this was cold-blooded murder, Martin wanting the guy dead, taking perverse pleasure in watching him fall, triumph surging in his chest and...

Beside him, Danny shifts.

And, right, Danny.

Martin's not sure what's worse; the fact that he killed a man, or the fact that he slept with his partner.

He can't quite wrap his head around either.

He knows, in the back of his head, that both can be worked out logically. The guy he killed --and Martin finds himself oddly relieved that he doesn't know the guy's name: makes a mental note not to learn it-- was a killer, a criminal, and while he might not have deserved to die, Danny was right; he wouldn't have hesitated in killing Martin.

It shouldn't have happened, though, because Martin shouldn't have gone anywhere near the building. The second he saw the guy he should have called backup, had SWAT come in to make the arrest. He knows that; learnt that the day Tyler died and... oh, God, he could have gotten Danny killed.

Could've gotten himself killed too, but Martin's less worried about that.

And now, now Baut knows they're here, and he's likely gone underground, which means they won't find him, which means the case won't move forward, which means they're right back at square one and Martin curses himself for being so stupid.

In essence, Martin's single handedly managed to screw up their entire investigation.

This time when Danny shifts, it's to throw an arm over Martin's chest.

He doesn't really remember the rest of the night, the memory faded, hazy at best. He can recall small details --like the vibrant colour of Danny's underwear and the bitter-sweet tang of Danny's come. He remembers other things, too, like feeling trapped in his own skin, entire body tight with unused energy and Martin's not entirely certain who made the first move.

Him, likely, and Martin briefly recalls Danny rejecting him. Obviously not for long if the weight pressed into his side is any indication and Martin exhales in an effort to still his racing heart.

It doesn't help, Martin's thoughts still chaotic, his body still tense, on the edge of panic and Martin inhales sharply before exhaling a second time.

Dimly, he's aware of the fact that he can still taste Danny on his tongue, the flavour mingling with the stale taste of sleep and Martin swallows, suddenly craving a glass of water.

And wait... Danny sucked him off first, that much Martin remembers, which means Danny's gay and...

Huh. Unexpected, to say the least.

Not entirely undesirable, and Martin instantly chastises himself for the thought, because gay or not, the whole thing is a bad idea. They work with each other, after all, and sex --however good and Martin remembers it being good-- will only complicate things.

Make it harder for them to work together, so the only logical thing to do is to calmly explain to Danny that this can't happen again. Martin has a feeling that's easier said than done, and not just because he's worried about Danny's reaction; in truth, Martin's not entirely certain he doesn't want to do this again.


In fact, he's fairly certain he does, this morning even, because Danny's shifted a third time, heat radiating down Martin's side and Martin's cock has suddenly taken interest.

And what he needs to do is get out of here, calmly climb out of the bed and maybe leave the room and...

Shit. Martin doesn't remember hearing his alarm, which means he woke up naturally, which means he has no idea what time it is and Martin's suddenly forced to open his eyes, avoiding glancing in Danny's direction as he tilts his head to seek out his alarm clock.

The display seems to mock him, eight-forty-three reflected back at him in glowing red numbers and they were due back at the New York offices at eight-thirty.

"Shit. Danny."

It takes effort to sit up, the process made more awkward by the fact that Danny's still sprawled across him. Danny grunts something non-committal, Martin reaching out to grasp Danny's shoulder, shaking him lightly, already scanning the room for his boxers, trying to figure out how to get into them without leaving the safe confines of the covers and Martin sighs in relief when he finds them next to the bed.

They're tangled in with Danny's and Martin grabs both pairs, tossing the red pair onto Danny's chest, Danny's reply a sleep muffled snort.

"Danny, wake up," Martin tries, dressing beneath the covers more difficult than he first imagined, made even harder by the fact that, every so often, the covers will lift, treating him to a view of Danny's morning wood and now Martin's cock is very interested.

It's not until Danny groans that Martin realizes he's staring.

Eyes locked on Danny's cock, Martin frozen, underwear half on and Martin knows that it's not his words that woke Danny. It's his jostling, Danny frowning before opening his eyes, blinking several times in an effort to focus. The second he does, he sits bolt upright, eyes widening as he registers exactly where he is.

"We're really late," Martin tells him, finally getting his boxers on and the second he does Martin slips out of the bed, heads toward the washroom, stopping only long enough to scoop up Danny's clothes and toss them in Danny's general direction.

Martin doesn't wait for a response, slipping into the bathroom, locking the door behind him and hoping that, when he gets out, Danny will be gone.

~~~

By the time he finished his shower and crept back into the room, Danny was gone. Martin found himself oddly disappointed.

He told himself it was for the best, because now there wouldn't be a need for an awkward conversation involving why it couldn't happen again. Strangely, the thought was even more disappointing than Danny's absence.

He chalked it up to the fact that he hadn't had sex in almost a year before last night, but now, ten minutes into their drive across town, Martin's not so sure.

Because Danny hasn't said anything, not since Martin left his room, only to find Danny standing in the hall, already dressed, Danny glancing over long enough to ask if Martin was ready. Martin's response was a nod and since then neither of them have spoken.

Danny's driving again, the route strangely familiar and Martin knows that's likely because it's the same route they took yesterday. Danny turns the corner at the next set of lights and there's the bagel shop that they stopped at for breakfast yesterday.

His stomach growls at the thought, but Martin ignores it; ignores the impulse to suggest they stop for breakfast again too, because a meal implies a date and that's the last thing Martin wants to insinuate.

And really, the whole thing is ridiculous, when he thinks about it, because, technically, Danny was doing him a favour last night --a very big favour that most co-workers tend not to do, but a favour all the same. So this shouldn't be weird. It should just be another day and who cares if they now know they have more in common than either of them first assumed?

Obviously Martin does, Martin clearing his throat to displace some of his tension and when Danny glances over, Martin realizes that he's now likely expecting Martin to say something.

Martin curses himself for disrupting the silence.

"I... uh," Martin begins, because he really doesn't have anything planned and this is the reason Martin tries to avoid one night stands with people he knows. "I just... thank you," he decides on, not quite sure why he says it.

He thinks it might be because he is thankful, the night wearing him out, Martin thoroughly exhausted by the time he fell asleep and, considering the day's events, Martin's just glad he actually managed to sleep through the night.

Danny hasn't responded, but when Martin glances over, he can tell Danny's trying not to laugh. He's shaking his head, anyway, a small grin tugging at the corners of his lips and Martin's sudden struck with another memory.

The sleepy smile that Danny wore the entire time Martin was undressing him and Martin's fairly certain that doesn't qualify as one night stand behaviour.

"Don't mention it," Danny says after a moment, glancing over then, eyes appraising and he seems to weigh his next words carefully. "However, I'm not sure that's something we should..."

"No. Yeah, no," Martin interrupts, knowing exactly where Danny's taking the thought and Martin's so relieved not to have to say it first that he doesn't hesitate before agreeing.

"Right, good. Good," Danny says, nodding before turning back to stare out the front windshield.

Martin can't decide if Danny sounds relieved, or disappointed.

Martin feels a little of both.

~~~

The boys are late.

Really late, something that Danny never is and Vivian mentally tallies a point against Martin.

And okay, technically he seemed like a nice guy --certainly not the spawn of Victor Fitzgerald, so Vivian feels marginally better about having told Danny to give the guy a chance. He's even cute, Danny's words coming back to her then and Vivian wonders if Danny knows.

If he's figured it out yet, because, while bright, intelligent and fiercely perceptive, when it comes to himself, Danny can be rather slow sometimes.

She knew it the second she saw the two of them together, instantly absorbing the slight shift in Danny's tone when he said Martin's name; the glazed way he looked at the other man and Vivian's seen enough men in love to know the signs.

Danny's probably still labouring under the delusion that he doesn't know Martin well enough to like him, let alone love him.

That's one of Danny's problems, after all, Danny falling hard and fast, but denying it each and every time. It's a defence mechanism, she knows, but in her experience, defence mechanisms tend to do more harm than good.

Ah, he'll figure it out, Vivian tells herself. Sooner or later, anyway. She just hopes he doesn't get hurt in the process.

It seems unlikely, though, and while she doesn't know Martin well enough to read him, it was fairly obvious the interest was mutual, twice Martin checking Danny out and the pair of them couldn't have been more obvious about their attraction if they tried.

Sadly, Vivian doubts Martin's any better than Danny is, most men too stubborn to see what's right in front of them.

She suspects the same thing is happening with the case, Danny likely dragging Martin in circles --or maybe it's the other way around, since, technically, the case is Martin's-- and they'll likely leave here tomorrow without having made any progress.

That means it's up to her, and Vivian already has three of her agents out searching for Baut --and thank God for slow days with no missing persons' cases. The new agents may not be as experienced as the previous team, but they're still good, some of them even a little seasoned, so Vivian has no doubts they'll find the guy.

If he's hiding, as Vivian suspects he is --and Vivian makes a mental note to scold Martin for doing something so stupid, not to mention dangerous-- all the better, because people make mistakes when they run, and Vivian's always been good at finding mistakes.

Frowning, Vivian glances at her watch, the boys now forty minutes late and Vivian growls before pulling out her cell. She gets halfway through dialing Danny's number when she spots them, Danny leading the way off the elevators and there's something distinctly different about them today.

The tension has shifted, becoming almost palpable, the pair of them very purposely not looking at each other and, shit, they slept together. Leave it to Danny to think with his dick.

Tucking her cell phone back into her pocket, Vivian crosses the room to meet them, already dreading the day.

 

Chapter Text

He's aware of Martin in ways that should probably frighten him.

He can almost feel the other man; close his eyes and picture which leg Martin is leading with as they cross the room to meet Vivian and Danny's not sure what that means.

When he was at Quantico, he attended a lecture on partnerships within the Bureau. The man giving the lecture told the class about his twenty-year partnership, cut short by retirement and, in the lecture, he told the class that partners developed a bond stronger than marriage. A connection so acute that, at times, he could feel his partner's presence across a crowded room without even seeing him.

Danny's fairly certain it's too early for him to be able to sense Martin in that way.

He does, though, and that, he suspects, has more to do with the fact that they slept together than any bonds forged through watching each other's back.

He's still not sure what he was thinking.

He knew it was a bad idea; his knowledge confirmed as soon as he woke up, Martin tossing a pile of clothes in his direction before disappearing into the washroom, the sound of the lock connecting so loud that Danny actually flinched.

He didn't linger long in Martin's room, dressing quickly before slipping out, heading into his own room to shower and change and, despite their brief conversation in the car that made Danny think that, maybe, things might work out, he still regrets the night.

Regrets it even more the second he spots Vivian, Vivian's frown disapproving and Danny's forced to push aside the guilt surging in his chest, telling himself that Vivian is merely frustrated with their lateness.

"Sorry, we're late," he says as soon as he thinks it, stopping then, Vivian arching an eyebrow and Danny bites his tongue to keep from telling her why.

Beside him, Martin tenses. Danny hates that he's aware of it.

"I'd write you up for it if you were still my responsibility," Vivian tells him, Danny chuckling slightly, the sound nervous.

Vivian doesn't seem to notice, gesturing absently for them to follow her into Jack's --her, and Danny scolds himself for not remembering-- office, the room completely different from the last time Danny saw it and Danny blinks before sliding into one of the chairs lining the front of her desk.

"Things are slow today, so I've sent a couple of agents out to look into Baut. Finding him won't be easy," Vivian says, glancing at Martin then, eyes narrowing and Danny can tell Martin wants nothing more than to sink into his chair, escape Vivian's accusing eyes.

"Thanks," Danny answers, earning Vivian's attention and, beside him, Martin seems to relax.

Vivian nods, like she's just doing her job and not a favour and Danny knows her well enough to hear what she's not saying.

They screwed up --Danny just as much as Martin, because he should have known Martin would run in blind; should have stopped him the second he even suspected it-- and now they're stuck with trying to fix something that might be beyond repair.

"NYPD took twelve girls out of the house, and two Johns. They're holding the Johns, but I've arranged to have the girls transferred here so that you can interview them," Vivian continues, Danny nodding, silently agreeing that the Johns won't know anything.

The girls might, and despite the fact that twelve interviews will take them most of the day --and prevent them from looking for Baut, which Danny suspects is Vivian's way of punishing them for screwing up-- it's the closest thing they have to lead, so Danny will take what he can get.

"Any idea when they're scheduled to arrive?" Martin asks beside him, Vivian once again glancing in his direction and her look is pure ice. This time, Martin doesn't flinch.

Danny finds himself oddly impressed.

Vivian seems impressed too, cocking her head, expression appraising and she's halfway to answering when her cell phone rings. She shakes her head before answering the call, Danny leaning forward to listen to one half of a conversation and as soon as Vivian hangs up, Danny knows what she's going to say.

"They're here," she still says, Martin nodding beside him.

He glances over a second later, making eye contact, silently approving of Vivian's plan and Danny smiles. The second Martin sees it he blushes, looking away almost as quickly as he glanced over, like he's only just remembered the night and all the things they did to each other.

Danny has a feeling it'll be a while before that memory fades, for either of them.

~~~

He keeps forgetting that he no longer works here.

He's reminded every time he sees a face he doesn't recognize, Danny turning a corner, expecting to run into Sam or Jack, only to cross paths with an agent he doesn't know and the reminder his painful.

They've spent the better part of the morning conducting interviews, alone, Martin having suggested they divide up the names in order to save time. Danny agreed, the idea sound, but it had the added advantage of allowing him some time alone, something that Danny suspects they both needed. Aside from the brief moment in Vivian's office, Martin hasn't once been able to meet Danny's eye.

He's just finished up his third interview, Danny needing a break before approaching the fourth. There's the added benefit of making the girl wait, something that tends to work in his favour when conducting interviews; waiting leads to nervousness, which often leads to the truth, and right now Danny needs the truth.

The first three interviews were busts, none of the girls capable of telling them more than they already knew --the only guy they ever saw the guy Martin killed and none of them recognized Baut's photograph. Danny keeps telling himself that, sooner or later, someone will.

He's clinging to that thought, anyway, just like he's clinging to the hope that, when he does see Martin again, everything will be normal between them. He's not entirely sure that's possible, but after four hours apart, Danny's starting to feel marginally better about their chances.

The thought vanishes as Danny turns another corner, bringing him into the break room and the familiar scent of coffee that, once, Danny used to find appealing. A few weeks of drinking nothing but Starbucks has apparently changed that.

It's the not the coffee, though, that gives him pause. It's Martin, pouring his own cup, looking more relaxed than he has all day and Danny almost turns around, not quite ready to deal with the inevitable awkwardness that's bound to accompany a meeting.

It's too late for that, though, Martin glancing over, freezing the second he spots Danny, staring for half a second before glancing away, eyes locking on Danny's chest and Danny forces himself to continue forward.

"Hey," he says upon reaching Martin's side, Martin nodding his response, still not glancing up and Danny swallows the urge to sigh.

"Hi. So... how's it going?" Martin asks, glancing up briefly, gaze not quite reaching Danny's eyes.

He glances back down the second the words leave his mouth, Danny finding himself flashing back to the fight they had before coming to New York, the sudden urge to pluck Martin's cup out of his hand almost overwhelming.

He doesn't, instead leaning against the counter, the position meant to give the illusion of relaxation. Danny feels anything but relaxed.

"Nothing. No one knows anything," Danny answers, Martin nodding, Danny tensing before remembering what he came for.

He starts moving then, grabbing one of the mugs sitting upside-down next to the coffee maker. Pouring a cup, Danny's acutely aware that, beside him, Martin's fidgeting nervously.

His fingers keep clenching and unclenching around his mug, feet shifting awkwardly, like he's trying to decide whether to stay or leave. Martin answering, then, takes Danny by surprise.

"I interviewed one girl who thought she'd seen Baut pull up in a green sedan. He didn't get out, but... Vadik..."

And the way Martin hesitates, Danny knows Vadik is the man Martin shot yesterday.

"Vadik went out to meet him, spent ten minutes in the car before leaving," Martin finishes, glancing up then, making eye contact and Danny finds himself momentarily speechless.

Martin's expression is the exactly the same as it was last night; broken and lost and Danny knows he's once again picturing the shooting, remembering the scene and Danny doesn't think before reaching forward, resting his free hand on Martin's shoulder.

It seems to get Martin's attention, Martin flushing before pulling back, Danny's hand falling back to his side and a second later Martin's making an excuse to leave, setting his half finished coffee down next to the sink before walking away, heading back to the interrogation room and Danny watches him go, at a loss for what to say.

~~~

His fifth interview goes well.

Not only does the girl recognize the picture, but apparently she's also been taken out of the house and brought to Baut on several occasions.

She has no idea where it is she's taken, the ride there spent sandwiched between two of Baut's men, Nadia told to keep her eyes locked on her lap, but she estimates that the drive lasts approximately twenty minutes.

Ironically, that's about how long her meetings with Baut last.

The rest of what she tells him is unimportant --Danny couldn't care less if Baut prefers her face down, or the fact that he grunts in Russian while fucking her-- but the duration of the trip could help them pinpoint where Baut's staying. Provided, of course, he's still there.

Danny calls Martin's cell the second he makes it out of the interrogation room.

Martin answers a second later, speaking in hushed whispers and it's obvious he's still in the middle of an interview.

Danny calmly tells Martin to meet him at the conference table when he's done.

He has a map out before Martin arrives, Danny carefully marking out a ten mile radius around the building they cleared yesterday. It leaves them a lot of city to explore and it's probably bigger than it needs to be, but it's a starting place, and Danny's more than willing to search if it means possibly finding their guy.

"What's up?" Martin asks as soon as he arrives, glancing once at Danny before glancing down at the map, tone perfectly professional and Danny tries not to be offended by Martin's shift in tactics.

It's obvious, though, that Martin's planning on dealing with this by pretending it didn't happen.

"One of the girls I interviewed was apparently a favourite of Baut's. He had her brought to him at least once a week. She doesn't know where she was taken, but she gave me a rough description of the building, and estimated it was about a twenty-minute drive from the whore house," Danny explains, keeping to the subject of work, because if Martin wants to shift back into professional indifference, Danny's not about to argue.

"Yeah?" Martin replies, clearly surprised; so surprised in fact that he makes eye contact, actually holding Danny's gaze for several seconds before glancing back toward the map.

Danny can't help but note that, not once, did Martin's gaze waver. In fact, he didn't even blush.

"I'm figuring ten miles, to be safe, and then we just have to find a building that matches the description," Danny continues, still keeping in work mode, Martin seeming to relax as he bends over the map, tracing the red circle Danny drew before his arrival.

"We should be able to start at the perimeter, work our way around, swinging in a block each time," Martin suggests, Danny shaking his head, realizing a second later that Martin's not looking at him and hence can't see the gesture.

"From the description, the place sounds residential, and she doesn't remember hearing any kind of mechanical noise, so I think we can safely exclude the industrial park here," Danny tells him, pointing out the area on the map that Danny knows consists entirely of factories.

Martin nods at that, grabbing the marker off the table to circle the location of the whore house in red.

"Does she remember what direction the car was facing?" Martin asks, glancing over once again, expression curious, but twice he glances down at Danny's lips, though whether awaiting Danny's response or something else entirely, Danny can't tell.

"East," Danny answers, Martin drawing an arrow in the direction, away from the industrial park and he nods before capping the pen, setting it back on the table.

"So we should... um..."

"Yeah," Danny answers, not quite understanding Martin's shift, awkwardness returning almost as strong as it was this morning and Danny coughs before reaching for the map, folding it neatly before heading out of the room, glancing once over his shoulder once to ensure Martin's following.

~~~

Vivian doesn't like the idea.

At least, she doesn't like the idea of sending them out alone, despite the fact that Danny's assured her they're perfectly capable of doing this.

"That might be, but I'm still sending some agents with you," Vivian tells them, her tone leaving no room for argument and Danny nods somewhat helplessly, knowing full well he won't be able to change her mind.

It's the reason he doesn't bother arguing, instead mumbling something about grabbing their coats before heading out. He doesn't quite reach the door before Vivian calls his name.

Danny glances over his shoulder questioningly, Vivian arching an eyebrow before continuing.

"Can I have a word with you? Alone," she says, Danny nodding before glancing in Martin's direction.

Martin gestures absently toward the door, heading out a second later and he closes it behind him, obviously knowing Vivian better than he should.

Danny waits until the door clicks shut before crossing back over to Vivian's desk, choosing to stand behind the chair he was just sitting in.

"Is this where I get a lecture about not rushing in without backup?" Danny asks, and it would be just like Vivian to hold him responsible for Martin's actions.

"No, this is where I tell you not to let whatever's going on between the two of you cloud your judgement," Vivian says, Danny's mouth falling open in shock, because what exactly is he supposed to say to that?

"Don't give me that look. I know exactly what's going on," Vivian tells him, and she does, Danny realizes, nothing escaping her attention and Danny suddenly finds himself picturing Vivian and Harold in the same room together.

They'd likely be able to unravel all the mysteries of the universe within seconds.

"It was a one time thing, Viv, and it won't happen again," Danny tells her, Vivian giving him a look that suggests she doesn't believe a single word.

Danny's not entirely certain she's wrong.

In fact, if he's honest with himself, he's hoping she's not, because despite everything he's told himself, Danny still wants a repeat performance.

Several, in fact, the image of Martin splayed beneath him flashing through Danny's memory and, regardless of how screwed up it could make things, it was still one of the best experiences Danny's had in years.

"Whether it happens again isn't the issue; the issue is that you need to work together, and you can't do that if you can't even look each other in the eye," Vivian tells him, and Danny suddenly understands why she's sending agents out with them.

This isn't about yesterday's screw up, it's about their inability to come to terms with a night of abandon and Danny finds himself nodding.

"I'll talk to him, okay?" he says, Vivian nodding, shuffling several papers on her desk before answering.

"That's all I ask," she says, nodding toward the door, the gesture dismissal and Danny doesn't hesitate before leaving.

 

Chapter Text

Danny looks only slightly chagrin when he makes it out of Vivian's office; his posture slouched, his eyes focused on the ground and Martin has to clear his throat twice to get Danny's attention.

When he does glance up, Martin's breath catches at the brief flash of guilt reflected in Danny's eyes. It vanishes almost as soon as it appears, Danny smiling awkwardly, resolve settling onto his features and Martin swallows against the urge to ask.

He doesn't really want to know, after all, today just about the most awkward day of his life and the last thing Martin wants to do is say something that might make it worse.

Danny's watching him now, not quite staring, but Martin still has to will himself not to blush, breaking eye contact as he hands over Danny's coat. Danny seems surprised by the gesture, accepting the garment with a nod that Martin suspects is meant to be thanks. His expression doesn't alter, though, features unreadable and Martin finds himself oddly worried.

"You ready?" Martin asks, trying and failing to keep the concern out of his voice.

Danny notices. He doesn't say anything, but he frowns before catching Martin's eye, Martin suddenly finding himself unable to glance away. Danny's gaze is piercing, Martin flashing back to last night, recalling the way that Danny watched him, eyes searching as he took Martin's cock into his mouth. Danny's current expression is much the same.

So much for his plan not to blush.

"We should..." go is what he doesn't say, Martin unable to form even the most basic of words.

"Vivian's agents ready?" Danny asks, obviously catching Martin's mood, glancing away before sliding into his coat, regret and something that Martin thinks might be longing evident in his tone.

Whatever it is, it leaves Martin even more speechless than he was to begin with, Martin unable to process the myriad of emotions welling in his chest and he's forced to swallow before he's able to nod his response.

"Just waiting on us," he replies a second later, us coming out strained because Martin's trying very hard not to think about Danny in those terms.

"Okay, then," Danny answers, coat settling on his shoulders and he starts moving, heading toward the elevators and Martin's left with little choice but to follow him.

They don't talk on the way down, Danny seeming lost in his thoughts, Martin preoccupied by trying to keep his gaze locked on the elevator doors. By the time they reach the parking garage, the silence has become oppressive.

Danny's the first to start moving, shoulder brushing against Martin's as he makes his way off the elevator and the brief point of contact sends shivers down Martin's spine.

He shakes the sensation off, inhaling sharply before following Danny off the elevator, ignoring the fact that, in doing so, he's now acutely aware of Danny's cologne. Releasing the breath, Martin follows Danny into the parking garage, spotting Vivian's agents before the elevator doors have finished closing.

They've obviously grown tired of waiting, the engine of their sedan revving as soon as they spot Danny and Martin. Danny glances back over his shoulder to roll his eyes, shaking his head in frustration at their eagerness.

Martin bites his lip to keep from laughing.

Vivian, it would seem, has sent the rookies to baby-sit. Martin's not entirely certain who she's punishing.

Likely everyone, and despite all the good things he's heard from Danny, Martin hasn't entirely warmed up to the woman. Oh, there's no doubt she's good at her job; fair and yet firm and Martin can't help but respect that. But she's also unyielding, something that frustrates Martin and, for the first time in a long time, Martin finds himself glad that his transfer request was denied.

Glad for other reasons, too, because Martin's not entirely certain he could have handled playing the rookie; the past few days bad enough and it doesn't help that he still feels out of sorts --and that, he suspects, is part of the reason he let his attraction to Danny cloud his judgement last night.

The second they climb into the car, the rookies take off, leading the way, Danny merging in behind them a moment later, following them out to the street. He still hasn't said anything, but Martin has a feeling that's not going to last for long.

He seems to be debating with himself, anyway, shaking his head every so often like he can't quite decide how to approach the situation. Martin knows him well enough to know what the topic will be when he eventually decides to share whatever's on his mind.

Martin can't decide whether to be apprehensive or eager about their impending conversation.

He knows they need to talk about it, but Martin's always been a fan of ignoring problems until they go away. It's something he suspects he gets from his mother --his father always tackled problems head on, while his mother tended to block them out, ignoring their existence until they eventually went away.

Still, he can't remember the last time he saw his mother happy, so Martin knows that's probably not the best course of action.

There's a part of him, too, that wants to talk about it, mostly because he's tired of tiptoeing around it; tired of waiting for things to return to normal when he's fairly certain that's never actually going to happen.

Not if they don't clear the air, anyway, and Martin finds himself glancing over, Danny filling his sight and it doesn't look like Danny's any closer to finding his words than he was a moment ago. If anything, he seems even more nervous, fingers clenching and unclenching around the steering wheel, Danny's jaw tense and Martin's suddenly struck with the knowledge that he may need to initiate this conversation.

And that's something he doesn't want to do, because wanting to talk about it is one thing, actually saying the words something else entirely and Martin still doesn't know what to say.

Apparently neither does Danny, but he clears his throat first, relief surging in Martin's chest because he knows it's up to Danny now.

Except, maybe not, because minutes seem to pass, Danny still following the car in front of him, weaving in and out of traffic, driving entirely too fast and he still hasn't said anything.

"Look," Martin says at the same time that Danny gets out, "Out of curiosity," Danny chuckling slightly before glancing over, gesturing for Martin to continue before turning his attention back to driving.

"No, you go ahead," Martin says, shaking his head, because he still doesn't know what he was going to say.

He just wanted to break the awkward silence and now that it's broken, the renewed silence is ten times worse.

"Just... were you ever going to tell me that you were gay?" Danny asks, the question almost casual, but Martin knows it's anything but.

It's certainly not what Martin was expecting, Martin momentarily too stunned to reply. By the time he answers, they're crossing the bridge into Brooklyn.

"Yeah, eventually," Martin says, because he would have, eventually, or pending that Danny would have found out some other way.

Martin's always been terrible at keeping secrets. It's a wonder no one else in Seattle has figured it out.

"You?" Martin asks a second later, still not entirely certain that Danny is gay. Last night could have just been an anomaly, a one time thing that Danny did for his benefit and...

"Eventually. I was waiting to get a feel for how you'd react," Danny tells him, laughing under his breath and Martin knows what he's not saying.

If he's honest with himself, Martin probably would have told Danny a lot earlier if he'd known what Danny's response would be.

He finds himself laughing at that, wondering what would have happened if Danny had told him on his first day. Likely nothing, but it certainly would have leant weight to Martin's fantasies. Martin has a feeling they would have ended up in bed together regardless.

It almost makes him feel better, in a way, because at least now they have it out of their system, so logically they should be able to move forward, put last night behind them and, if they're lucky, this might even help to strengthen their partnership.

"So, are we cool?" Danny asks, almost as if he's read Martin's mind and Martin finds himself smiling, awkwardness fading as Martin absorbs the sincerity of Danny's tone.

"Yeah, we're cool," Martin answers, Danny glancing over briefly, nodding, a soft smile pulling at the corners of his mouth and Martin tells himself that this is good.

That they can move forward from this, forget about last night and start fresh, become an effective team and, eventually, Martin will even be able to look at Danny without picturing him on his knees.

By the time they exit the freeway, Martin almost believes it.

~~~

They start at the whorehouse.

The second Martin sees it, he finds himself flashing back to yesterday.

Yellow police tape still surrounds the building, sealing off doors and windows and they add to the sense of abandonment that wasn't there yesterday.

Yesterday the place was alive; flashing lights and crying girls and so many people swirling in and out of Martin's vision that they made him dizzy.

There was an ambulance too, but they took Vadik --and Martin hates that he now knows the man's name-- out with a sheet drawn up over his head, so it really wasn't needed.

The entire front lawn is still torn up; footprints and tire tracks standing out in the thin dusting of snow and Martin finds himself staring, trying to recall how many squad cars and Bureau sedans were parked in front of the building when he was finally allowed to leave yesterday.

The memory doesn't solidify, becoming nothing more than a chaotic swirl of sound and colour. Danny pulls to a stop in front of the house before digging the map out of his pocket. He climbs out a second later, Martin watching him go, keeping his eyes locked straight ahead to avoid looking at the building.

He watches as Danny meets with one of the agents in between the two cars, Danny handing over a copy of the map, along with a sketch of Baut's building that Nadia swore was accurate. He doesn't linger, heading back to the car a second later, climbing into the driver's side and Martin wills them to start moving again.

They don't, Danny hesitating, glancing over briefly and the second he takes in Martin's appearance, he pauses, mouth falling open, whatever he was about to say lost.

"You okay?" he asks, Martin nodding, resisting the urge to ask if they can leave.

He doesn't want to be here, but he doesn't want Danny to worry either and when Danny makes no move to start the car, Martin closes his eyes and tries not to panic.

"Can we just get started?" he's eventually forced to ask.

Danny seems to understand, Martin opening his eyes in time to register Danny's nod.

A second later he starts the car, pulling in front of the rookies and they make it to the end of the block before Martin can breathe again.

"Sorry about that, I..." Martin tries to explain, the words not coming, but again, Danny seems to understand, Danny instantly shifting to work mode, likely knowing that Martin doesn't want to discuss his reaction to seeing the building.

And he doesn't, because it's too tied to Tyler and last night and Martin's not in the right frame of mind to process it.

"Keep an eye out for this place, okay?" Danny tells him, tone professional as he hands over the sketch. Martin finds himself oddly touched by the gesture. Danny, apparently, is very skilled in the art of distraction --something that Martin knows all too well.

He turns left at the stop sign, the rookies turning right and Martin watches them go before remembering the sketch in his hand. They haven't been driving long, though, so Martin knows he won't have to worry about it yet.

Instead he passes the time scanning the streets, taking in the sights of a part of the city he hasn't really seen before. They pass by a firehouse, the front decorated in flowers and cards --likely one of the companies who went out to ground zero and Martin finds himself shivering-- the building vanishing into the distance, Danny continuing on.

The rest of the block consists of squat, two storied homes, most of which are pressed so close together that Martin doubts a man could walk between them. Their construction likely dates back to the turn of the century, and each one they pass shows its age. Everything is faded, worn and withered, covered over by graffiti; what was once likely a sedate town now part of the never-ending sprawl of New York City.

Nadia's directions weren't exact, but she remembers turning twice during the trip --once near the beginning, and once just before she arrived. It's the best they have to go on, so Martin waits, continuing to watch the passing of buildings until Danny slows to a stop at the side of the road.

"Okay, that's eighteen minutes, and we've come seven miles, so it's within our perimeter," Danny says, map spread out across his lap and Martin nods.

"You want to walk it? Or drive around?" Martin asks, Danny glancing over, seeming to consider the question before he decides.

"Let's drive it, then take it from there," he answers, and Martin's suddenly struck with how easy it is to fall back into working with Danny.

In fact, it's not awkward at all and Martin suspects that, so long as they can focus on work and avoid small moments of inaction, things should be fine.

As soon as he thinks it, though, the awkwardness returns; the memory of the night and Danny flashing through his mind and Martin finds himself wishing they'd at least kissed. He's thought about kissing Danny a thousand times; is thinking about it now and more than anything he wishes he'd given in to that impulse.

"Keep an eye out."

He wants to know, after all; wants to see how Danny would react, know if Danny would be tentative or aggressive, if he'd worry Martin's lips with his teeth while his tongue fought for dominance, or if he'd let Martin set the pace, content to follow meekly. He wants to know it all and, of all the things he regrets about last night, the biggest by far is not trying to kiss Danny a second time.

"Martin?"

It's Danny tone, more than his words, that earns Martin's attention.

He sounds concerned, but also mildly annoyed and Martin scolds himself for drifting --scolds himself for craving something that he swore would never happen again.

"Nothing yet," Martin answers, only vaguely aware of Danny's question.

He knows what he's looking for, though, and none of the buildings come close to matching the sketch in his hand. They're too residential and Martin's starting to think they should have turned right.

Danny doesn't say anything, but he loops around the block they just drove down, turning to head over to the next block and Martin shakes his head when Danny glances over.

The next street is more open than the last, small fields occupied by basketball courts filling Martin's vision. Low, brick apartment buildings line the other side of the street, chain link fences and billboards occupying the space in between.

Danny turns left at the next intersection, intent on heading even further south when Martin spots it.

"There," he says, and the building seems out of place; a dilapidated looking brownstone sitting between two apartment buildings and Martin imagines that, once, the building likely belonged to the owner of the buildings on either side.

"Let me see the sketch?" Danny asks as soon as they've pulled over, Martin handing it over wordlessly, Danny altering between glancing at the piece of paper in his hand and the building outside Martin's window.

"I'd say that's about right," Danny comments, reaching into his pocket to pull out his cell, calling the rookies and Martin clenches his hands to keep from getting out of the car.

He's not going to make that mistake a second time, once bad enough. It leaves them with nothing to do but wait, though, silence creeping into the space between them and Martin should have known work wouldn't distract them forever.

Danny doesn't seem to be bothered by the silence, leaning back in his seat, slouching slightly in the process, looking almost as relaxed as he did last night on Martin's bed and Martin releases a breath to displace the image.

"Shit, Martin..." Danny says beside him, sitting up suddenly and Martin glances out the front windshield in time to see a green sedan pull up in front of the building.

The rookies haven't shown up yet, their car nowhere in sight and Martin curses as he watches the driver get out and walk around the car to open the back door.

A man Martin doesn't recognize climbs out, scanning the street before stepping aside and Martin's seen Baut's picture enough times to recognize him instantly.

"Calmly," Danny says, the word almost a whisper and then he's out of the car, already approaching the men and Martin's left with little choice but to follow.

Danny hasn't pulled his gun, so Martin leaves his in his holster, keeping his jacket open so that it's visible. He's just managed to catch up with Danny when the driver glances over.

He says something that Martin doesn't catch, still too far away and Baut turns, frowning when he spots Danny, but he makes no move to run --no move to pull a gun either and Martin takes that as a good sign.

"Baut. Remember me?" Danny says as soon as he's close enough, swagger in his walk and Martin probably shouldn't find it hot, but he does.

"Agent Taylor, right?" Baut replies, accent so thick that Martin has to strain to understand him.

Danny's response is a grin.

"If you're here about the girls, I don't know anything. I got out of that business the last time we crossed paths," Baut says, holding up his hands, the gesture meant to convey innocence.

It gives Martin a chance to scan him, Baut not carrying, but Martin's fairly certain the other two men are. Martin's starting to understand what Danny meant by calmly.

"No? Then you won't mind coming down to answer some questions," Danny says, reaching the edge of the car, leaning against it, eyes locked on Baut's and, if Martin didn't know any better, he'd swear Danny wasn't even aware of Baut's companions.

He doesn't glance at either of them, anyway, posture completely at ease and Martin wishes he felt half as calm as Danny looks.

"You know you have nothing on me," Baut says, the driver shifting, Baut holding up a hand, the gesture a silent command for peace and Martin tries not to flinch.

Danny actually smiles.

"Then you've got nothing to worry about," he answers, smile shifting to a grin.

Baut's response is a twisted smile, something closer to a grimace, but he nods, speaks a few words of Russian to the man he was riding with. Martin catches the word lawyer, but the rest is beyond his comprehension.

Chapter Text

Yes.

No.

Right.

Danny's long since given up on trying to follow the conversation.

He knows Martin will relay Harold's comments as soon as he gets off the phone, so Danny's not entirely sure why he keeps finding himself tuning in. It's better than waiting, though, and that, Danny suspects, is why he's spent the last ten minutes listening to Martin grunt one word replies.

They've been back almost an hour now, Baut's lawyer only having just shown up, and Danny's sick of waiting. He knows he should be used to it by now --waiting par for the course in Seattle. But here, back in New York, Danny expected things to be different; expected to return to the hectic pace that he still associates with working in Missing Persons.

He has to remind himself that he no longer works in the department, something that he's forgotten numerous times since arriving. He's reminded of it every time he spots someone he doesn't recognize, though; every time he pours himself a cup of bitter coffee and Danny grimaces upon taking another sip.

Martin's answers have become murmurs of acknowledgment and Danny's tempted to pry the phone out of his hands.

Harold called Martin's cell, though, so Danny knows better than to presume the conversation might go any better if he were speaking in Martin's place.

In all likelihood, it would probably go worse, Harold apparently aware of the shooting and every so often Martin grimaces, obviously not liking whatever it is he's hearing.

It's accentuated by the fact that he's pacing, again, brisk steps bringing him to the last chair in the row lining the hallway before he turns around and heads back to the first.

"Okay. Yeah, okay. We'll see you tomorrow," Martin says, finally, finally ending the call, flipping his phone shut before tucking it into his breast pocket and...

"Tomorrow?" Danny asks the second Martin glances over, Martin's expression thoroughly defeated, his steps slowing until he finally stops, shoulders dropping as he nods.

"Harold wants us back first thing. He's arranged for a warrant, and to have Baut transferred to Seattle. Organized Crimes are going to coordinate with the New York team to finish the investigation on this end," Martin explains, his expression becoming apologetic and Danny releases a breath before glancing away.

He knew they'd have to leave eventually, but the thought of leaving so soon is almost depressing, Danny not looking forward to leaving New York a second time.

He doesn't tell Martin that, instead stilling his features before glancing up, Martin still looking forlorn, obviously not looking forward to returning to Seattle, or Harold's impending lecture.

"So when do we leave?" Danny asks, dreading the answer, tension settling between his shoulder blades as he pushes himself out of the chair he was sitting in, two quick steps bringing him to Martin's side.

"Harold's booked us on an eight o'clock flight, tonight," Martin tells him, Danny glancing at his watch, registering the time --five past six-- and Danny closes his eyes at the sudden surge of loss that settles in his chest.

Somewhere in the back of his head he thinks that, logically, this should be easier the second time. He's done this once already and that means he should be able to do it countless times. Regardless of how much he wishes otherwise, the thought of leaving still hurts as much as it did the first time.

"Give me a minute, okay?" Danny asks, Martin nodding, obviously aware of where Danny's going and Danny finds himself grateful when he realizes Martin's not going to argue.

He's not sure why he was expecting it, but he was, Danny knowing that Martin will now be forced to arrange Baut's transfer on his own; something that Baut's lawyer will likely try to fight and Danny knows Martin will bear the brunt of it. Danny reminds himself that they have a warrant, his guilt lessening somewhat at the thought. Still, he spares an apologetic smile before turning around and heading in the direction of Vivian's office.

~~~

Vivian smiles sympathetically and tells him to take care of himself.

Danny thinks seriously about crying.

He doesn't, because he's always been very good at keeping his emotions in check. He can count the number of times he's given in to tears on one hand, each incident a solitary one and he's not about to let that change now.

Instead he smirks, tells Vivian that he always does. Vivian laughs her response and the moment passes.

"Take care of Martin, too. He seems like a good guy," Vivian says a second later, Danny instantly reading between the lines.

It's part silent approval, part silent reprimand and Danny finds himself smiling.

"I will," Danny answers, Vivian arching an eyebrow, catching what he doesn't say, contemplating it for a moment before nodding.

And Danny can't promise that they'll work things out, but he can promise that he'll try. He thinks Vivian understands that, but mostly Danny suspects that she just wants him to be happy, something that she likely thinks Martin might play a hand in and Danny doesn't try to persuade her otherwise.

"So is there anything else you need us to do on this end?" Vivian asks, switching over to work and Danny knows she's doing it for his sake.

He smiles at that, touched that Vivian knows him so well. Danny's never been fond of long goodbyes.

"No, we're good. But thank you," he tells her, Vivian nodding like it was nothing, just part of a day's work. Danny knows it was more than that.

Knows too that Vivian wouldn't have done this for anyone else.

The rest of their conversation consists of formalities, Danny promising to call if he needs anything else, Vivian promising to say hi to Reggie and Marcus for him. In the end, leaving Vivian's office, Danny finds himself feeling marginally better about the prospect of leaving.

He finds Martin waiting for him in the hall, Martin glancing over, silently asking him if he's ready to go and Danny nods before once again accepting his coat from Martin's outstretched hand. Danny doesn't ask, just like he didn't ask earlier today, instead sliding into it, gesturing for Martin to lead the way before falling into step beside him.

Despite the briskness of Martin's pace, Danny's feet seem to drag, slowing to the point of stopping as they pass by the glass doors that lead into what was once his office. One of the rookies is standing next to the white board, drawing the outline of a timeline in black marker. There's a picture clipped to the far left corner, "Patrick Kent" written beneath it and Danny has to force himself to look away.

They make it to the elevators before Danny hears Vivian's door open and close, Danny turning around in time to see Vivian vanishing into the office, hurried steps confirming the arrival of a new case. Nostalgia almost overwhelms him at the sight.

"Baut resisted, but his lawyer looked over the warrant and agreed to the transport. We're not allowed to interview Baut until his lawyer gets a flight out, though," Martin says as the elevator doors open, distracting Danny from his thoughts and Danny swallows before glancing over.

"So that's it," Danny finds himself saying, following Martin onto the elevator, Martin hitting the button for the ground floor before replying.

"Baut's lawyer will likely make it into town before tomorrow morning, so we can interview Baut first thing. Hopefully he'll give us something we can work with," Martin says, sounding almost hopeful and Danny suddenly realizes that finding Baut is a big step for Martin.

A big step in solving Tyler's case and Danny knows that, despite the fact that Tyler's killer is dead, Martin won't be able to let this go until it's solved.

Focusing on the case distracts Danny from the process of leaving, so Danny does exactly that, ignoring the fact that it'll be hours before they can officially start moving forward again.

~~~

He knew it was a mistake the second he knocked.

It's too much like last night, Martin answering, blinking at Danny's sudden presence and Danny flashes back to the night before, watching himself force his way into Martin's room, kicking the door shut behind him before backing Martin toward the bed and...

"Sorry. I hadn't packed," Martin explains, Danny coming to with a start, the image of Martin sprawled across the bed, cock straining against his boxers, vanishing with Martin's words.

Clearing his throat, Danny wills his body back under control --not an easy task, blood rushing south, cock stiffening and Danny shifts until the bag in his hand blocks his crotch, hoping Martin won't notice.

"Right... Um, I was going to go downstairs... check out," Danny says, words stuttered and Martin eyes him curiously.

He nods, though, leaving the door open as he heads back into the room to finish packing and Danny's tempted to follow him inside --destroy the sheets on the freshly made bed a second time and Danny closes his eyes against the sudden image.

It takes all of his willpower to turn away, Danny's legs actually trembling as he makes his way down the hall, heart racing and it doesn't stop until he's actually on the elevator, the doors sliding shut behind him and Danny releases a breath, curses himself for not being able to block out the image of Martin naked and wanting.

He wonders if it's just the hotel --just New York and Danny silently prays that the images will vanish as soon as they get back to Seattle. They have to, otherwise Danny's not sure he's going to be able to work with Martin and then all of this will have been for nothing.

No, not nothing, because this is just a side effect of seeing Martin's room, the scene itself and as soon as they're gone Danny won't have to worry about it anymore.

By the time he makes it into the hotel's lobby, the images have more or less vanished.

He doesn't have Martin's room key, but Danny checks him out all the same, handing over a Bureau credit card and his badge at the clerk's protest. The man accepts it grudgingly, glancing at Danny curiously like he doesn't quite believe Danny's FBI. Danny smirks and wishes the guy would hurry.

He wants to be done all of this before Martin gets downstairs; done so that they can make it to the airport before their flight.

Martin arrives just as Danny's signing the credit card receipt.

He slides his room key across the counter, the clerk accepting it with surprise, like he didn't actually expect Danny's partner to return it. Danny makes a mental note never to stay here again.

Have a pleasant evening, they're told on their way out, Danny rolling his eyes, slinging his bag over his shoulder, his irritation serving to calm his libido and by the time they climb into their rental car, Danny's managed to convince himself that it really was just the hotel.

~~~

Every flight, as far as Danny's concerned, is a bad flight.

Just not usually this bad.

It's overcrowded, Danny seated in between Martin and a man who's obviously never heard of personal hygiene.

Danny spends the entire flight leaning in Martin's direction just to escape the smell, Martin warm beside him and it doesn't help that every time the plane shifts Martin shivers. Danny doesn't think he's ever thought about sex while flying before.

He's thinking about it now, Martin having fallen asleep --although Danny suspects he might be faking it-- ten minutes ago and his head is currently resting on Danny's shoulder. This is, of course, accentuated by the fact that Danny is only using the half of his seat closest to Martin, still trying to escape the man beside him --who is also sleeping, snoring so loud that Danny knows he's not faking it.

Danny wishes he could sleep. He's more exhausted than he can ever remember being, their brief stay in New York already becoming hazy, like the memory of a dream and Danny's not sure what's worse; the fact that he's already forgetting small details or the fact that he can't forget the bigger ones.

On the plus side, the flight's been mostly steady, turbulence at a minimum and, that, combined with confusion of the last few days, has numbed Danny's usual reaction to flying.

He still tenses every time the plane shifts, but he's no longer picturing the plane falling out of the sky.

Still, between the man next to him and Martin's proximity, Danny almost wishes they'd missed their flight.

They came damn close, security only letting them on after they flashed their badges and Danny knows if they'd shown up a minute later their badges wouldn't have gotten them on.

He tells himself that this flight gets them home at a reasonable hour, giving them enough time to sleep and recuperate before Baut's arrival tomorrow morning. He's flying out in the company of two marshals sometime in the wee hours of the morning and Danny reminds himself that that gives them the advantage; Baut will be worn by exhaustion, whereas they'll be well rested and focused.

It's still a long way off, and until then there's nothing left to do but wait, Danny closing his eyes, shifting a little closer to Martin's warmth and Martin mumbles in his sleep, wordless sounds that make little sense and Danny sighs in response, willing himself to give in to the lull of sleep.

Chapter Text

He lets his alarm sound, the harsh blare of music unnecessary, but Martin likes the illusion --this way he can pretend that he's slept.

He thinks he might have, briefly, the faded memory of dreams still hovering on the edge of his consciousness, but Martin's not entirely certain he wants to remember them. What he does remember is bad enough; blood and death, sex and life, all tangled together until he can no longer separate one from another.

It's enough to make him nauseous, Martin swallowing against the taste of sleep and bile before reaching over to silence his alarm. The music has become obnoxious, unwanted in the stillness of morning.

Climbing from the bed, his body doesn't quite recognize the arrival of dawn. He's exhausted, muscles sore and weary, eyes heavy from lack of sleep, and Martin can't quite tell if the sensation is the result of insomnia, or the time change.

He doesn't think he was in New York long enough to acclimate to Eastern Standard Time, but the excuse is comforting, Martin liking that he can blame his current state on travel. He tells himself that that is why he slept on the plane --something he's never done before-- his body trapped between lines of longitude and Martin's no longer really capable of knowing what time it is.

The stark red digits on his alarm clock tell him otherwise.

He blinks at the display before turning toward the door, padding out of the room, heading down the hall and into the kitchen. The clock on his microwave is an unwanted reminder.

Most of the night is a blur. He remembers leaving New York. Remembers waking on the plane to find Danny curled against him, Martin wanting nothing more than to press into Danny's warmth and fall back asleep. He thinks he likely would have, were it not for the change in pressure that told him they were landing.

He remembers the drive home from the airport, the brief stop at Danny's apartment to drop him off, Danny's hesitation as he left the car, his quick goodnight that sounded more forced than genuine.

Mostly, though, he remembers not sleeping; remembers staring at his ceiling, watching the play of light cast by the streetlamp outside his window. He remembers the sound of rain beating against his window being somewhat comforting, hinting at sleep, but never lulling him completely.

He's dreading today.

Dreading an interview he's not really prepared for. Dreading the look in Harold's eyes that Martin knows will convey disappointment; Martin's failure absolute and he's half expecting Harold to hand the case back over to Organized Crimes.

He's trying not to think about Danny.

His dreams were bad enough.

He'd been with the Bureau six months the first time he was forced to pull his gun. The man he shot was a small time crook, wanted for credit card fraud and Martin's bullet tore a hole in his shoulder.

It wasn't his intention, the trigger giving way beneath his finger and, as the man fell, Martin remembers being surprised, shocked by the force of it.

After, Tyler merely looked at him, sadness and understanding reflected in the depths of his eyes and, aside from that initial glance, Martin couldn't quite bring himself to meet Tyler's gaze.

He slept with a stranger that night.

A man he met at a club, the sex mediocre at best, but it was distracting, Martin losing himself in the sensation and, come morning, the shooting was nothing more than a vague memory, not quite as real as it first seemed.

If anything, sleeping with Danny did the opposite, the image of Vadik dying before him more vivid than Martin remembers it being.

He's aware of the colours now in a way he wasn't when it first happened --aware of the scent, too; icy air and metallic blood and the sulphuric burn of gunpowder. He can even recall Danny's words, each sentence perfectly clear and Martin knows that, at the time, he didn't really register them.

Mostly, he remembers the way that Danny looked at him; concern and worry right on the surface, so open that Martin's breath catches at the memory.

Too late, Martin thinks, he should have sought out a stranger.

~~~

Compared to New York, the Seattle offices seem drab and outdated.

Martin's not sure why he hasn't noticed it before now.

He notices now, the chaotic sprawl of desks unorganized in a way Danny's old office wasn't and Martin finds himself missing the soft light of Federal Plaza.

His desk seems smaller too, Martin frowning at it before slipping out of his coat, hanging it on the back of his chair before sitting.

He's the first one in, as usual, the silence slightly overwhelming and Martin wonders why he's only just noticing the quiet. He thinks it should be peaceful; wanted, but instead he finds it eerie, out of place and Martin clears his throat just to fill the space with sound.

The silence that answers is mocking.

He thinks briefly of heading in search of coffee, but finds himself waiting instead, anticipating Danny's arrival and the Starbucks that he usually brings. Martin wonders if he'll remember.

If he'll feel comfortable bringing Martin coffee now, the gesture intimate, Martin knows, and Martin's not sure he would blame him if Danny showed up empty handed.

Danny shows up half an hour later. It's not early, but it's not late either; somewhere in between and Martin can't quite decide how to interpret Danny's timing. To Martin's surprise, he does bring coffee, two cups, the top of Martin's marked in white pen, 3C written in messy handwriting.

Martin smiles his thanks. Danny nods in acknowledgement.

The morning passes in silence, neither of them speaking, twice Martin opening his mouth to offer words, each time the words dying on his tongue, Martin swallowing them with a mouthful of coffee and resigning himself to the lingering awkwardness.

Harold calls at eight-forty-three.

Martin's only marginally surprised when he asks to see both of them.

It gives him an excuse to talk, though, Martin telling Harold they'll be right in before hanging up the phone, glancing across his desk to find Danny watching him.

"Harold wants our report," Martin says, Danny nodding, smiling something that Martin suspects is meant to be comforting.

Martin returns the smile before pushing himself up out of his chair, grabbing his coffee before heading out into the hall, down the few paces to Harold's office, Danny a step behind him.

Harold's not alone, Martin's chest constricting as soon as he registers the man standing next to Harold's desk, back toward them as he stares out the window.

"You wanted to see us," Martin forces himself to say, Danny closing the door behind him, crossing the room to sit in one of the chairs lining Harold's desk. Martin chooses to remain standing.

His father turns then, glancing briefly at Danny before turning his attention back to Martin, expression unreadable and Martin smiles.

"Dad," he manages, not missing Danny's sudden intake of air.

"Martin, you're looking well," Victor replies, motioning for Martin to sit and Martin's tempted to refuse.

He doesn't, knowing the act of defiance will only prolong the inevitable. Still, he takes his time, crossing the room slowly, sliding into the vacant chair on Danny's right, slouching in an effort to display indifference.

Beside him, Danny tenses.

"Baut's lawyer will be arriving in a few minutes. He's already suggested his client may be willing to make a deal. We've decided to accept it," Harold begins, Victor remaining motionless at his side, eyes still locked on Martin and Martin has to fight not to squirm under his scrutiny. Victor is forgotten as Martin registers Harold's words.

"So that's it? We're just going to let him walk? For what, information?" Martin asks, trying and failing to keep from sounding outraged.

He can't quite help himself, though, anger surging in his chest at the idea of letting Baut walk after everything he's done --everything Martin's been through that can be tied back to the man and Martin almost wishes it was Baut he shot in Vadik's place.

The thought draws him up short, Martin shaking his head to displace it. Harold takes the gesture to mean disagreement.

"Baut's not going to walk. We have enough on him to put him away for life. His lawyer wants a reduced sentence in return for full cooperation," Harold explains, Danny nodding his agreement and Martin sighs before mimicking the gesture.

He knows, logically, that Baut's cooperation is necessary in order to find suspects higher up the chain, but Martin's still not happy about it. It's not his decision, though, so he knows arguing won't change the final outcome.

Danny seems to understand, glancing over, briefly catching Martin's eye and Martin's suddenly reminded that his father's in the room. Watching them, likely well aware of the tension between them and Martin finds himself wondering if Victor knows.

If someone told him about New York; about their night and Martin breaks eye contact, glancing down to stare at his lap, cheeks flushing at the thought.

"Is that all you wanted to see us about, Sir?" Danny asks, Martin glancing up at his words, taking in Harold's hesitation, Harold glancing over his shoulder to meet Victor's eye before responding.

"Why don't we step out into the hall," Harold says, offering Martin a sympathetic look before standing, Danny joining him a moment later, following Harold out of the room and as soon as the door closes behind them Martin stands.

He's tempted to leave too, ignore whatever it is his father has to say, but something stops him, indignation surging in his chest and suddenly Martin's looking forward to the fight he knows is coming.

He hasn't seen his father in years, after all; not since the day he graduated from the Academy, his father showing up briefly, staying just long enough to offer congratulations, the sentiment forced and he left soon after, telling Martin to have a safe flight before he climbed into his waiting car and returned to D.C..

Martin's not entirely certain he wants to hear what his father has to say, but a lot has changed since that day and Martin knows he no longer has to take his father's words to heart.

"You want to tell me what this is about?" Martin asks, words cold, accusing and Victor sighs before answering.

"I want you to start seeing the office psychiatrist," Victor tells him, getting right to the point and Martin rolls his eyes.

Laughs a little before responding, his sound coming out harsh, but Martin can't bring himself to care.

"Thanks, but I think I'll pass," he answers before turning toward the door, Martin making it all of two steps before his father's voice stops him.

"According to your file, you've had two sessions since Tyler died," Victor begins, Martin turning around, words on the tip of his tongue, but Victor silences him with a raised hand. "And you've killed a man, Martin, and I don't think it was entirely in self defence."

This time Victor's words are accusing, his disappointment obvious and Martin thinks about telling Victor that he forgot to mention that Martin also slept with a male co-worker.

The thought is almost enough to start him laughing again, but he doesn't, biting his tongue instead, releasing a breath before answering.

"I'm fine," Martin says, each word punctuated, and he is. He's more than fine.

"That may be, but you're still going..."

"I said..."

"I know what you said," Victor interrupts, Martin glaring his response. "... Your mother's worried about you," Victor tries, classic tactic that Martin's long since learnt to ignore.

He doesn't tell his father that, instead letting his features still, Martin waiting patiently, already looking forward to telling his father to go to hell.

"It's already been arranged. You have until the end of the day to schedule your first appointment, otherwise I'm having you transferred to D.C.," and obviously Victor knows Martin better than Martin thought, Martin momentarily taken aback by Victor's words, unable to respond.

He knows he should have been expecting it, the move something that Victor's more than capable of doing, so Martin doesn't find it odd that he's not surprised. What he does find odd is the look of concern that briefly flickers across his father's face, the emotion disappearing behind walls a second later and Martin squares his shoulders before responding.

"Is that all?" he asks, Victor nodding, Martin turning on his heel, heading toward the door.

"Oh, and Martin..." Victor calls, Martin pausing by the door, not glancing back, his inaction enough for Victor to continue. "Be careful around Agent Taylor," Victor finishes, Martin not bothering to reply, instead heading out into the hall, pulling Harold's door shut behind him, the sound of it connecting loud enough to resonate throughout the entire floor.

Martin's too angry to care.

~~~

He's been thinking about it all day; cursing his father for interfering and twice now Martin's walked past Dr. Mitchell's office, each time intending to head inside, make his appointment and each time he couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

He's been thinking about his father's warning too, Martin still slightly confused by it; still under the assumption that Danny's presence might have been his father's doing. Obviously not, if his father's words are any indication, Danny obviously not someone he trusts and Martin finds himself wondering if Victor knows that Danny's gay.

Martin's not completely naive; he knows his father has to at least suspect Martin's sexuality. They've never talked about it, but thirty-two years without a girlfriend, Martin having never once having brought a woman home, has to have made Victor wonder.

Then again, there's always the distinct possibility that Victor's distrust stems from the events in New York; Victor likely believing the reports that suggested Danny's old department was responsible for a girl's death. Martin knows better.

He's seen what the Bureau is capable of, after all, even before he decided to join, so Martin knows that the Bureau is more than willing to use agents as scapegoats in an effort to avoid public scrutiny.

It's the safer option, though, so Martin finds himself hoping that it's the reason for Victor's warning, Victor holding Danny responsible for something beyond his control far better than Victor knowing what Martin does in his free time.

He feels guilty as soon as he thinks it, Martin once again finding himself walking past Dr. Mitchell's office. And maybe seeing her is a good idea. At the very least she can prescribe him sleeping pills and maybe then Martin will actually get a decent night's sleep.

That's all he really needs, Martin knows, his current lack of focus entirely related to his inability to sleep and eight solid hours a night would go a long way toward making things clearer.

Still, he can't quite bring himself to head in, Martin once again walking past, this time heading back into the office, Danny glancing up at Martin's approach and Martin nods before sliding into his chair.

This is the first time they've been alone since this morning, Harold sitting in on the interview with Baut, Baut giving them three names in return for a lighter charge. He'll still go to trial, so it doesn't guarantee him a lighter sentence, but Martin's never once seen someone accused of fraud get more than two years. Baut's lawyer seemed to think so, anyway, having drafted the agreement before he arrived and Martin winced while watching Harold sign it.

It gives them another starting point, though, each link in the chain just as important as the last and Martin tells himself that this is what he wanted; to solve the case, regardless of where it led and if he has to drop charges on every name he comes across just to get to the root, then that's what he'll do.

"You okay?" Danny asks suddenly, startling Martin from the thought and Martin blinks before bringing Danny back into focus.

He hasn't told Danny about his conversation with Victor --hasn't had the chance, but he can tell Danny's curious. He hasn't asked, though, something that Martin knows he won't do. Still, Martin finds himself wanting to say something, even if it's just to vent.

"Yeah... Sometimes I just think life would be easier if I didn't have parents," Martin says, Danny's eyes widening slightly, dark shadows clouding his irises a second later and too late Martin remembers Danny telling him about his time in the foster care system.

He has no idea what happened to Danny's parents, Martin knowing it wasn't his place to ask. Watching Danny's reaction, though, Martin can imagine.

"Sorry... I..." is all he gets out before Danny stops him, shaking his head like the moment is already forgotten and Martin doesn't know how to respond to that.

Danny doesn't make it any easier, falling into silence, still watching Martin from across his desk and Martin feels his chest constrict as he takes in the worried lines around the corners of Danny's eyes.

"He wants me to see a shrink," Martin says after a moment, surprise once again flickering in the depths of Danny's eyes and Martin finds himself laughing.

He can't quite bring himself to stop, the entire situation almost comical. Obviously Danny seems to think so too, Martin eventually getting himself under control, glancing up to find Danny wearing an amused grin.

Danny still doesn't say anything, but his grin shifts to a smile, Danny glancing away a second later and Martin's about to ask when he speaks.

"You know... back in New York, sometimes a case would just be too much, you know? So I'd go home and call my sponsor. It was... I don't know, nice to have someone to talk to," Danny says, his tone nervous and Martin knows what he's not saying.

Part of him thinks Danny might be right, but part of him can't help but be angry that Danny's taking Victor's side in all of this. He didn't say it outright, though, so Martin knows he's trying to distance himself, not wanting to offend.

Martin can't bring himself to respond, not quite trusting himself not to say something that he might regret. Instead he lapses into silence, Danny sighing a moment later, obviously deciding against pushing.

Martin ignores it and tries to focus on work.

~~~

Dr. Mitchell pencils him in for Wednesday. Martin accepts her card reluctantly, his appointment time written on the back in ink and Martin glances at it only briefly before tucking it into his breast pocket.

He doesn't say anything upon leaving, slipping out as silently as he slipped in, Martin stopping by his desk to gather his coat before heading home.

Danny's long since gone, having made his goodbyes shortly after five, telling Martin to have a good weekend and Martin doesn't regret not returning the sentiment.

This is Danny's fault, after all, Danny watching him all afternoon, obviously worrying needlessly and, in the end, it was Danny's worry that sent Martin into Dr. Mitchell's office.

Martin still can't decide whether to be touched by Danny's concern, or angry.

Chapter Text

Seattle is even more depressing the second time around.

He thinks it might be the rain; the constant dampness that Danny doesn't think he'll ever get used to.

It fell as mist today, soaking through his coat, his clothes clinging to his skin by the time he got home and Danny can't remember the last time he felt warm.

In hindsight, he probably shouldn't have walked home. St. James Cathedral seemed closer the first time.

Granted, he was new to the city then --the city still foreign to him, but at least now he has a general idea of where things are-- walking aimlessly through dark, deserted streets in an effort to find his apartment, so he knows his concept of distance was likely skewed.

In fact, he's surprised he found it a second time, Danny only vaguely remembering the bus that brought him there the first time. He doesn't regret going, though, Danny leaving his impromptu AA meeting --a replacement for the one he missed while in New York-- deciding on impulse to attend the Saturday night service.

He thinks he was mostly looking for comfort, some semblance of home and, churches, in Danny's experience, have always felt the same, regardless of location. Tonight's service differed from the ones he used to attend in New York, but it was similar enough to generate the sense of nostalgia Danny was looking for.

The sensation lasted just until he stepped out into the rain, his coat seeming entirely too thin as he began the long walk home.

Arriving back at his apartment did nothing to ease his sense of dislocation, Danny's apartment still strange to him, made worse by several days away and Danny blinks against the starkness of his walls before slipping out of his coat, hanging it over the back of the breakfast bar to dry.

And what he needs is a long, hot shower. Possibly some food, but eating can wait, dispelling the rain's chill far more important and Danny ignores the slight rumbling in his stomach as he makes his way down the hall and into the bathroom.

He hangs his clothes over the towel rack, skim clammy to the touch and Danny shivers before pulling back the shower curtain --white with abstract blue flowers and Danny still regrets letting Martin help him choose it-- before stepping into the tub, turning the water on as hot as it will go.

And this, Danny realizes, is the first time he's thought about Martin since he left the office on Friday. A conscious effort, he knows, but now that Martin's entered his thoughts, Danny can't seem to get him to leave.

He still doesn't really know what's going on with Martin, but with each passing day Danny's starting to realize that he probably shouldn't have slept with him. He's fairly certain Martin enjoyed it, possibly even needed it, but it's obvious now that Martin's not as okay as he claims to be.

Too late, Danny suspects, he took advantage.

He knows the thought should make him feel guilty, but even his guilt can't quite outweigh his worry. And he is worried, more worried than wants to be; more worried that he probably should be, but Danny's trying not to think about why. Thinking about his reasons leads to thinking about things that Danny would rather not consider. Mostly, Danny tells himself that he's only concerned for a colleague.

He can't quite convince himself it's true, the entire thing made worse by the fact that Danny still pictures Martin naked and sprawled across a hotel room bed every time he closes his eyes. Worse still is the fact that he knows it goes beyond sex; Martin's distance painful and Danny can't help but worry over how quickly he became attached.

He's only known Martin a few short weeks, after all, most of that time blurred by Danny's confusion, Danny still not familiar with his new job; most of the time he barely remembers how many cases they have open, let alone what those cases entail, so he's still not entirely sure how Martin managed to enter Danny's radar.

He doesn't even really know him, Danny still trying to figure Martin out and, despite the fact that Martin's started to open up to him, Danny knows that he's still a long way off from knowing the man behind the mask that Martin often wears.

Thinking about it logically doesn't help, Danny's throat still constricting every time he pictures the vacant expression in Martin's eyes; the expression that's been there since the shooting, hours before they slept together and Danny knows that he should have acknowledged it sooner.

It's tied to Tyler, Danny knows, and Danny can't help but wonder if Martin was in love with the man. He doesn't think so, but it still worries him --and he's not jealous, he's not-- almost as much as Martin's current frame of mind, never mind the fact that Danny's still not certain they're ever going to be able to recover from that night.

Weekends, Danny is quickly discovering, are entirely too long. They provide too much opportunity for thought, Danny's mind a chaotic jumble of uncertainty and Danny shakes his head to clear away the confusion.

It helps only slightly, but enough that Danny feels himself relax, the water beating against his back a nice distraction and Danny concentrates on absorbing its warmth.

And this, this is nice; soothing in a way Danny knows he needs and Danny finds himself giving in, blocking out the past few days, letting the steady rhythm of the water fill his awareness until everything else fades away.

If he's lucky, he'll even be able to get off tonight without picturing Martin's face.

~~~

His collection of porn isn't working, every face on the screen becoming Martin's and Danny curses before shutting the television set off, leaning further back into his couch, hard cock in hand and Danny wills himself to think of someone else.

There was a guy he met in New York; tall and gorgeous and exactly Danny's type and Danny tries to recall their brief encounter. He gets as far as the guy falling to his knees, Danny opening his eyes to find Martin in his place, smile somewhat lazy as he takes Danny into his mouth.

Danny shakes his head to displace the image.

It doesn't help, Martin still there and Danny's tempted to stop.

Go to bed hard, take a cold shower in the morning, because obsessing and worrying over Martin is one thing; fantasizing about him something else entirely and Danny's fairly certain that's not a line he should be crossing.

Except, he's crossed it before, several times before all of this happened and it's so easy to give in to the fantasy. So easy to picture Martin moving against him, Martin's mouth warm and wet and Danny gives up trying to block the image out.

Instead he gives in to it, pictures himself thrusting into Martin's mouth, short, purposeful strokes that Martin doesn't resist.

In fact, Martin hums, encouraging Danny further and Danny's thrusts become more erratic.

In and out. In and out. In and out.

The scene has changed too, the backroom of the club in New York becoming his apartment, Danny pressed against the back of his door, Martin before him, hand between his legs as Danny thrusts into his mouth.

It's not enough, Danny straining, not quite able to come and he wants to feel Martin inside him. Wants to feel Martin stretching him open, sliding between his legs and Danny's hand stills.

And not here. He wants to stretch out for this, give in to the entirety of it and Danny ignores the small well of guilt that pools in his stomach as he pushes himself off the couch, unconcerned with his nakedness, or the open blinds, as he makes his way into the bedroom.

Someone bought it for him as a gag gift, Danny always preferring the real thing over a toy, but tonight this will do, Danny digging through his bottom dresser drawer before finding what he's looking for, pulling out the long, slightly curved, black dildo that lives hidden under his t-shirts.

He keeps lube in his bedside drawer, Danny digging that out too before settling back onto the bed, knees drawn to his chest and the small, rational part of his brain tells him that he should be ashamed of himself for thinking of Martin this way.

He can't quite help himself, though, Danny ignoring his subconscious protest as he wets his finger tips, reaching between his legs to lube his hole, body trembling in anticipation.

The dildo is slightly larger than he remembers Martin being, but Danny no longer really registers it, slick hands sliding along its length and Martin is smiling at him. He slips it between his legs, the latex becoming Martin; hard and straining, legs shaking as he positions himself at Danny's opening, teasing Danny's hole with his head before pushing just the tip inside.

The stretch is slightly awkward, just this side of painful and Danny eases back, circles his hole a second time before trying again.

He gets the head in this time, holding it there, waiting for his body to relax before pushing forward. Above him Martin's face is flushed red, sweat beading against his forehead.

Danny whimpers. Relaxes into the stretch.

And this is what he wishes they'd done that night; just this, Martin rocking inside him, slowly inching his way forward, patiently waiting for Danny's body to adjust to his length, Danny fighting against the urge to wrap his fingers around his own cock, stroke in time to Martin's thrusts.

In and out. In and out. In and out.

Martin eventually growing frustrated, sliding in a little too hard, Danny's eyes rolling into the back of his head, his body arching off the bed, toes curling and then Martin's brushing against his prostate, grinding in small circles, each one sending shivers of pleasure racing through Danny's veins, his entire body humming until the sensation is too much.

In and out. In and out. In and out.

And Martin would tease him, pull back until he was on the verge of slipping out, Danny murmuring a protest before Martin slid back inside, hitting just the right spot and sparks would flash beneath Danny's eyelids.

He'd do it again. And again. Until Danny was dizzy with want, entire body hovering on the edge of completion and just when he thought he couldn't take it anymore Martin would surge forward, grind hard against him, their bodies connecting, Martin's balls pressing against the underside of Danny's ass, hands clenching at Danny's hips and...

Danny comes without the use of his hand.

Falls back onto the bed, head swimming, vision blurred, heart racing, dildo still pressed inside, come white against his stomach and... shit, what has he done?

~~~

Monday comes entirely too quickly.

Danny's not prepared for it; the morning spent staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, Danny certain that the second Martin sees him he'll know.

He makes it into work late, coffees forgotten and Martin looks like hell.

Like death walking; eyes rimmed with red, dark circles stretching down to his cheeks, stubble shadowing his jaw and Danny's apprehension fades to concern.

He can almost picture Martin not sleeping; Martin spending the entire weekend locked inside his own personal nightmare and suddenly Danny's guilt has nothing to do with taking advantage.

It has everything to do with knowing that he's slept, peacefully, while Martin was left wanting and Danny suddenly wishes he'd given in to his Sunday night impulse; called Martin and invited him over because Danny's fairly certain Martin needed his hand more than Danny did.

The thought draws him up short, Danny instantly registering his arrogance, his selfishness and Danny finds himself wishing he'd stopped to get coffee.

He knows it's not enough; the gesture beyond repairing whatever's broken inside Martin and Danny hates that he's aware of it --hates that he's beginning to know Martin well enough to register it.

"Hey," he manages, tone soft, hesitant even and Martin glances up, gaze briefly flickering to Danny's hands and Danny tells himself he's imagining the brief look of disappointment.

"You're late," Martin says, once again making eye contact, eyes clouded with something Danny can't name.

"Yeah, I... overslept," Danny says, Martin nodding, hesitating for half a second before standing.

"I... I'm going to go grab a coffee," he says, Danny once again cursing himself for not taking the time to stop on his way in.

"Yeah, sorry... I didn't want to be later," Danny explains, the excuse lame, but Martin nods a second time, like it's perfectly understandable, like Danny doesn't owe him an explanation.

Watching Martin leave, Danny wills his heart to start beating again.

~~~

Aside from this morning's brief conversation, Martin hasn't said two words to him all day. Danny's starting to get paranoid.

He's obsessing over it, anyway, instantly recognizing what he's doing and Danny scolds himself before the cycle begins again.

They're trying to trace the names Baut gave them, so far without luck, and Danny's starting to suspect that the men they're looking for don't actually exist. Baut assured them they did, so Danny keeps looking, pulling up countless files, his computer screen flickering, windows opening and closing almost faster than he can process.

Across his desk, Martin's doing the same, completely engrossed in his work, and Danny finds himself wanting to say something; anything that might break the awkward silence between them.

He knows it's not that simple, Martin distracted, obviously lost in his own thoughts and before Danny can stop himself, he's standing.

Martin doesn't glance up.

Not until Danny clears his throat and then the movement seems forced, Martin reluctant to look away from his screen and Danny flashes back to Saturday, ass clenching as he recalls the slow stretch that brought him to completion.

"I... I'm going to go grab a coffee. Across the street," Danny begins, Martin nodding. "You want one?"

For a moment Martin doesn't answer, instead staring at Danny, trying to read between his words and Danny finds himself holding his breath, anticipation twisting his stomach. The shake of Martin's head, then, is disappointing.

"No, I'm good," Martin answers, turning back to his work then, once again losing himself to their search.

Danny doesn't answer, instead shrugging into his coat, dreading the rain he can hear beating against the window as he makes his way toward the elevators, stomach twisting, the thought of coffee no longer appealing.

Chapter Text

He thinks he should feel better for having slept.

He doesn't.

Granted, he only managed four hours, most of those broken by dreams, so he's not really surprised. It's four more hours than he's been getting recently, though, Martin taking that as silent victory, willing his body to cooperate, despite its intentions not to.

Razor against his cheek, Martin nicks himself a fourth time before admitting defeat, his body obviously incapable of performing even the most menial of tasks and Martin curses before setting the razor down on the counter.

It's not a perfect job, but it'll have to do, Martin running late for the first time in longer than he can remember. He woke with his alarm, but usually he wakes well before it and Martin's not used to only having an hour to get ready in the morning.

Showering alone took half that time, twice Martin dropping the shampoo bottle, hands numb and clumsy and Martin's starting to see the advantages of insomnia.

He's always early when he doesn't sleep.

He wasn't given the choice last night, though, exhaustion finally catching up with him, rendering him unconscious and Martin no longer has any recollection of how he got from his place in front of the television to his bed. When he woke this morning, his television was still blaring.

He tells himself that sleeping was probably a good thing, that now he can tell the Bureau shrink that, yes, he's been sleeping, quite well, thank you very much. It's not exactly the truth, but it's not a lie either and Martin's more than willing to paint truth in shades of grey.

And this is part of the problem. Part of the reason he's now three minutes past his hour and still not ready; Martin too preoccupied to focus on getting out the door, mind wandering constantly and Martin forces himself to focus, washing the residual shaving cream off his face before reaching for his towel and patting his cheeks dry.

He pauses only long enough to run a hand through his hair, appraising his reflection before heading into the bedroom, pulling out the first suit he finds and Martin doesn't really care that it happens to be the suit his sister gave him for Christmas.

He hasn't worn it yet, the style a little too sleek for his taste, the black a little too trendy, but it's too late now to choose another. He barely has time to tie his tie, let alone fret over his choice of clothing, Martin absently patting his pockets before heading over to his dresser, grabbing his wallet and keys, id and cell phone, tucking them into various pockets before checking the safety on his service weapon and slipping it into his holster.

And now all he needs are shoes, Martin glancing once around the bedroom to make sure he hasn't forgotten anything before heading out into the hall, his apartment seeming strangely messy and Martin winces before turning away from the sight, choosing a pair of black wingtips to match his pants.

If his sister could see him now, she might actually be proud.

~~~

Danny's already at his desk by the time Martin makes it in.

In fact, with the exception of Mike, everyone seems to have beaten him in. Martin can't quite help but feel slightly out of sorts.

It's made worse when Maureen stands, just as Martin's about to brush by her desk and he comes dangerously close to colliding with her. She pulls back at the last second, expression almost irritated as she glances up from the file in her hand.

"Sorry..." Martin gets out, Maureen not moving, eyes crinkling and Martin swallows before taking a step back.

"Jesus. What the hell happened to you?" Maureen asks, tilting her head slightly, reaching forward and Martin flinches as she makes contact, hissing as she peals off a piece of tissue still stuck to his cheek.

It's about the limit of what Martin can take, Maureen suddenly seeming to loom, like the mother Martin hasn't spoken to in years and Martin finds himself feeling claustrophobic, irritation building when he's forced to take another step back just to escape Maureen's questioning gaze.

"Do you mind?" he asks, gesturing for her to move, let him get by and Maureen merely arches an eyebrow.

"Of course not," she answers after a moment, stepping back toward her desk, Martin releasing a breath before brushing past her, knocking her shoulder in the process and he manages all of three paces before she clears her throat.

Martin stops, glances over his shoulder, tilts his head and waits.

"You've got a few more of these," Maureen tells him, holding up the slightly bloody tissue and Martin feels himself flush, hand automatically coming up, absently rubbing across his face until he's certain it's clean.

Behind him, Martin swears Maureen is chuckling.

He ignores her, continuing on to his desk, Danny watching his approach and, with horror, Martin realizes that he's witnessed the entire display. He doesn't comment, though, instead nodding his hello, expression appraising as he runs his eyes up and down the length of Martin's body. Heat flushes Martin's cheeks and Martin tells himself that Danny's only curious about the suit.

Still, he doesn't say anything, still watching Martin as Martin pulls out his chair. He doesn't notice the coffee until he sits, placed in the centre of his desk, beside it a small brown bag and when Martin looks inside he finds a muffin. Martin glances across the desks curiously.

"I wasn't sure... I also have a bagel..." Danny tells him, reaching for the bag on his desk, pushing it forward until it's sitting on the crack that joins the two desks and Martin shakes his head, reaches for the muffin instead.

This is the second day Danny's brought him food.

Yesterday was a surprise, Danny showing up with two coffees --Martin having already gotten a cup from the break room, somehow expecting a repeat of Monday-- handing Martin his before digging out a Tupperware container filled with banana bread. When Martin asked, Danny told him that his landlord's wife had made it, that she was apparently under the impression that Danny didn't eat enough.

This, though, this is different, Danny actually purchasing food and Martin's not sure what to make of that.

He's not sure what to make of a lot of things, like the fact that, in the space of two days, Danny's gone from tiptoeing around him to doting on him, bringing Martin coffees and offering to grab Martin lunch and the entire thing is so confusing Martin can't bring himself to think about it for long.

It makes his head spin, anyway, Danny seeming perfectly comfortable with the arrangement --which only serves to heighten Martin's confusion-- acting like his behaviour is perfectly ordinary, like nothing has changed between them, like New York never happened and Martin can't quite decide how to respond to Danny's sudden shift.

Instead Martin's taken to ignoring it, pretending everything is fine, like he's perfectly willing to go back to the way things were before. So far, it seems to be working.

It's made work marginally better, anyway, despite the fact that they're still no closer to finding Baut's names than they were two days ago. They've pretty much exhausted all of their leads, half of yesterday spent trying to convince Harold to let them interview Baut a second time.

Baut's lawyer refused, something that didn't really surprise Martin, but he still found himself disappointed, arguing uselessly until Harold kicked them out of his office.

Martin has a feeling today will be more of the same.

On top of that, he has his appointment tonight, something that Martin's been dreading since he made it. He knows he can't skip out, though, his father calling him last night with a subtle reminder, so Martin knows Victor's keeping tabs on him.

Danny asked about it too, yesterday, tone hesitant when he brought it up and Martin still feels guilty for snapping at him. He's been doing that a lot lately.

Not just with Danny, but everyone, Martin's patience wearing thin and already Maureen and Harold have been on the receiving end of his tongue. He's trying to keep his irritation in check, but every day that passes only seems to add to his sense of frustration and Martin's fairly certain he's going to bite the next person who suggests he 'talk to someone'.

"Martin?"

And Martin suspects that someone might just be Danny.

Still, he glances up, taking in Danny's slightly concerned expression, some of his irritation vanishing.

"Yeah?"

"Sorry, you looked a little out of it there..." Danny says, chuckling nervously and the sound reminds Martin that Danny's not as comfortable as he appears.

"I didn't..." get much sleep last night goes unsaid, Danny nodding, sympathy flashing in the depths of his eyes and Martin clenches his jaw to keep from telling Danny that it's none of his business.

"You were saying?" Martin asks instead, gesturing for Danny to continue and Danny nods before reaching for his monitor, twisting it so that Martin can see the screen.

"I called in a favour with a buddy of mine who works for the anti-gang unit in the NYPD, gave him the descriptions and names of the guys we're looking for," Danny begins, Martin squinting to bring the photograph on Danny's screen into focus.

The man in the picture has a beard, something the sketch Baut worked out with the sketch artist didn't, but Martin can tell it's the same guy.

"A couple of years ago they busted some guys with connections to the Russian Mafia. They couldn't confirm this guy's identity at the time, but they think he's pretty high up," Danny explains, Martin nodding, Danny's story confirming what Baut told them.

"Any idea where we can find him?" Martin asks, easily shifting into work mode, mind racing as he plots their next move.

Danny doesn't answer right away and when Martin glances up he knows he's not going to like whatever Danny has to tell him.

"What?" Martin still asks.

"NYPD kept track of the guy for a couple of years. About six months ago he booked a flight to Russia. He hasn't been back," Danny tells him, wincing a second later, Martin only then registering his frown.

He can't bring himself to stop, though, jaw aching from the strain of it, tension creeping into his shoulder blades and of course Baut would give them the names of men outside of their jurisdiction. The entire situation is almost laughable. Martin doesn't find it even remotely funny.

~~~

He's starting to think he should have listened to Danny's suggestion.

It was made shortly after Danny told him about the guy in Russia, Danny hinting that maybe they should take a break, step away from the case and work on something else so that they could come back to it with fresh eyes.

Martin doesn't remember his response, but he knows it was harsh; cold and angry and Danny's taken to tiptoeing around him again.

He's still doting, though, hovering whenever he thinks Martin's not paying attention and the entire thing is starting to grate on Martin's nerves. He can no longer count the number of people he's barked at.

He remembers the tech agent, the guy they have running prints, Martin cursing him for taking so long and it took Danny's hand on his shoulder for Martin to realize what he was doing.

Even then he didn't apologize, instead storming out, acutely aware of Danny watching him go, Danny's eyes boring into the back of his head and the sensation didn't lessen until Martin made it into the break room, two floors up from the tech lab.

Danny hasn't followed him.

It's a relief, actually, Martin needing a moment alone, wanting nothing more than a chance to still his thoughts, get himself under control because this case is starting to try his patience.

He knows he should be used to it; every case he's ever worked on has dragged, momentary lulls commonplace. This is different, though, this is the one case he wants to solve, the one case he needs to solve and the fact that it's not moving forward --again and Martin's getting a little sick of it-- only serves to remind Martin of how hard this was the first time.

How hard everything was in the weeks following Tyler's death and the pain is just as fresh, just as raw as it was then.

"Rough night last night?"

The question takes him by surprise, Martin turning to find Mike standing in the doorway and Martin can't quite hide his irritation.

Mike is the last person Martin wants to talk to.

"You want something?" Martin asks, not bothering to check his tone, fists clenching at Mike's answering smile.

He knows Mike well enough to recognize the expression, Mike in one of his moods, finding everything humorous and Martin knows what's coming.

Still, he doesn't leave, almost looking forward to their confrontation, casually leaning back against the counter, arching an eyebrow as he waits for Mike's response.

Mike doesn't say anything right away, instead crossing over to the coffee maker, pouring himself a cup and he waits until he's done adding cream and sugar before speaking.

"So how's the rookie working out?" Mike asks, not at all what Martin was expecting and Martin frowns.

He hesitates before answering, not quite sure what Mike's fishing for. Mike's never been one for directness, skirting issues until Martin eventually finds himself answering questions he otherwise wouldn't have answered.

"Fine," Martin eventually decides on, the answer short and to the point and Mike nods.

Just nods, but Martin knows he's happy with the answer, glee almost palpable and Martin braces himself for the punch line.

It doesn't come right away, Mike taking a moment to set his coffee down, glancing over then and he looks Martin over, Martin's skin crawling, entire body tense as he fights against the urge to squirm. Mike still doesn't say anything, Martin's discomfort replaced by anger and he's just managed to convince himself to leave when Mike speaks.

"I'm guessing that, since you're letting him dress you, you're also letting him fuck you?" Mike asks, tone perfectly innocent, expression openly curious, but Martin doesn't miss the brief flash of amusement in Mike's eyes.

It's enough that something snaps, anger becoming rage and Martin doesn't think before surging forward, hands connecting with Mike's shoulders and Martin shoves him up against the counter, words hissed when he finally speaks.

"If I were you, I'd be careful," Martin says, Mike having the nerve to chuckle and Martin thinks seriously about hitting him.

He doesn't get the chance, a throat clearing behind him and by the time Martin registers it, Mike's grin has shifted to something more dangerous.

Something that suggests he's taking Martin's reaction as confirmation and, too late, Martin realizes that he should have just walked away.

He lets Mike go, stepping back before glancing over his shoulder, Harold standing just inside the room, likely having witnessed the entire thing and Martin drops his gaze to the floor.

"Martin. My office," Harold says, Martin nodding weakly, body numb as he follows Harold out of the room.

Chapter Text

He hates this part of the job.

He knows it's necessary, warranted even, but Harold's usually a fan of letting his employees work things out on their own, rather than disciplining them for their actions.

Still, as his sixth grade teacher used to say; praise is always the better option, but sometimes discipline is necessary. Today discipline is very necessary.

It took seeing Martin assault a colleague to realize it, Harold well aware of Martin's steady decline over the past few days. He didn't say anything, instead mentally filing it away, leaving Martin to cycle through the mood on his own. This is different, though, this is Martin being more reckless than Harold can ever remember seeing and Harold's starting to think that talking to the Bureau psychiatrist isn't going to be enough.

Martin doesn't say anything on the walk back to Harold's office, eyes locked on the floor, shoulders drooped and Harold takes that as a good sign. It means Martin recognizes that he's done something wrong, that he's crossed a line and that should make Harold's job easier.

For some reason, Harold thinks it might actually make things worse.

Still, he's resolved to do this, Harold opening his office, gesturing for Martin to enter, Martin doing so reluctantly before Harold follows him inside. He waits for Martin to cross the room before closing the door, Harold moving around to the other side of his desk and by the time he makes it into his chair, Martin's already sitting.

"Sir, I'm sorry..." Martin says the second Harold glances over, Harold holding up a hand to still his words and Martin's expression becomes defeated.

Harold waits for it to shift to something neutral before speaking.

"I'm curious; exactly what did Agent Rosa do to warrant your hostility?" Harold asks the second Martin's expression does, liking to have all the facts before passing judgement.

Martin tenses at that, jaw clenching and Harold knew this would happen. Martin's a fairly closed off person, after all, choosing to keep his thoughts to himself and getting Martin to share anything personal is often an impossible task.

Seconds seem to pass before Harold gives up, shaking his head, letting out a long breath before giving in. Convincing Martin to confide in him is a lot like convincing his eldest son to turn down his music; both efforts futile at best.

It doesn't leave him much to work with, though, and Harold's tempted to ask Mike to join them. He knows that'll likely make things worse, Harold well aware of the fact that Mike and Martin aren't the best of friends. Oh, they're civil, usually, but certainly not friendly, and Harold has a feeling Mike's presence would result in Martin retreating even further behind his walls.

Yet another thing that Martin does, quite often, in fact. So far, the only person Harold's seen Martin drop his walls for is Danny, and even those incidences are few and far between. Scratching absently at his chin, Harold steels himself for his next course of action.

It's a last resort, Harold preferring to work this out without the need for reprimand, but Martin's making that impossible, still staring at the top of Harold's desk, refusing to meet Harold's eyes, stubbornness so acute that Harold's surprised Martin isn't trembling with it.

"You know I don't want to do this, but I can't have you instigating fights with my agents. I'm going to have to send you home, Martin. Three days suspension, without pay," Harold finally brings himself to say, disappointment heavy and Harold knows he's mostly disappointed in himself.

He shouldn't have to resort to this, after all; should be able to maintain a harmonious team without the need for drastic measures.

He knows, technically, that this has gone beyond that. He knows too that he should have done this the second he heard about the shooting in New York, Martin obviously needing some down time, a break from the case and a chance to get his head together.

If he's honest with himself, Harold shouldn't have let Martin come back twenty-four hours after Tyler's death, regardless of how valid Martin's reasons sounded at the time.

Martin still hasn't said anything, but when Harold glances over, he finds Martin watching him, eyes cold, expression hurt, like Harold's somehow betrayed him and Harold has to fight not to give in and take back his words.

Regardless of Martin's interpretation, Harold knows this is necessary.

"Is that all?" Martin eventually asks, obviously realizing that Harold's not going to budge and it's a mark, Harold thinks, of how far gone Martin is, Harold expecting an argument.

Martin still looks like he wants to argue, but his silence speaks louder than his words ever could, Harold nodding, Martin abruptly standing, breaking eye contact and his shoulders square as he turns to leave the room.

Harold lets him get to the door before speaking.

"You're still expected to make your appointment, Martin," Harold tells him, Martin obviously hearing, but he doesn't respond, instead slipping silently out the door.

Harold waits until the door clicks shut behind him before releasing a breath, worry and guilt almost enough to make him question what he was thinking when he accepted this position.

~~~

By the time he finds Martin, Danny's fairly certain the entire office has heard.

Everyone's talking about it, the news passing from person to person like Martin's fight with Mike is the best gossip the Bureau has heard in years.

Danny's just glad he found Martin first.

In truth, he was looking for Mike, anger surging in his chest and Danny has a feeling his fight with Mike is going to make Martin's look like a mere disagreement.

He has no idea what caused it; no idea what was said or why Martin went off on the guy. Danny knows Mike, though --maybe not well, but well enough to know that Mike likely deserved it.

It's part of the reason Danny's so angry, everyone well aware of Martin's mood and Danny has no doubt Mike went after Martin hoping to push the right buttons.

It's obvious he did; in fact, Danny's fairly certain he's likely gloating about it, probably amused by the entire thing and Danny's tempted to ignore Martin, continue his search before he loses the sharp edge of anger he wants present when he finally confronts Mike.

He doesn't, mostly because Martin's standing in front of his desk, coat on, looking lost and Danny doesn't know the outcome of Martin's meeting with Harold, but he has a feeling it wasn't good.

Mike forgotten, Danny forces his steps to slow, cautiously approaching Martin, stopping several feet back from Martin's side before clearing his throat.

Martin flinches before glancing over his shoulder, eyes vacant and Danny's stomach sinks.

"You okay?" he asks, wanting to move forward and place a comforting hand on Martin's shoulder, needing contact because Danny doesn't think he's ever seen Martin look this shattered.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Martin answers, cold and distant and Danny decides against invading Martin's space.

Instead he forces himself to stillness, Martin eventually glancing away, reaching across his desk to shut off his monitor and Danny suddenly finds himself paranoid.

He knows, logically, that Harold wouldn't fire Martin over this, but the thought still surfaces, Danny forgetting his decision to give Martin space, stepping forward until he's practically pressed against Martin's side.

"What's going on?" Danny asks, not bothering to check his tone, knowing full well how panicked he must sound.

Martin doesn't answer right away, instead letting out a little laugh, shaking his head before turning, only then realizing how close Danny's gotten and Danny tries not to question the brief flash of alarm that appears in Martin's eyes.

It vanishes just as quickly, Martin taking a step back, hip bumping against his desk in the process and Danny knows it's the only thing stopping Martin from moving further away.

"Martin..." Danny tries again, ignoring his disappointment.

Martin glances up this time, posture becoming resigned and Danny's about to ask a second time when Martin answers.

"Mandatory vacation," Martin answers, snorting in disdain, obviously not impressed with the idea. "Three days," he continues, and Danny's lungs start functioning again, the tension in his chest lessening because it could have been worse.

In truth, Danny thinks it's probably a good idea, but he knows he can't say it, Martin thinking otherwise and Danny knows Martin won't appreciate Danny siding with Harold.

It was bad enough that he sided with Victor over the counselling.

Instead Danny smiles something close to sympathy, glancing once over his shoulder before speaking.

"If you want, I can stop by your apartment after work, keep you up to speed on the case," Danny offers, not quite sure why he offers, but when Martin glances over, clearly surprised, maybe even a little touched, Danny's glad he did.

Martin's expression shifts a second later, eyes becoming dark and Danny knows he's going to refuse. Danny's not quite sure why, but he suspects it has something to do with Martin not wanting Danny to violate Harold's unspoken order. Then again, it could have something to do with Martin not wanting Danny in his apartment. Danny tries not to consider that option, or the slight tightening of his chest that accompanies the thought.

"Thanks, but it can wait. We're stalled now anyway, so maybe when I get back you'll have found a new lead," Martin says, like his reasoning is perfectly logical and Danny's left with little choice but to nod.

Martin returns the gesture, nodding almost to himself before gathering his things, resolve settling onto his features as he heads out of the office, Danny watching him go, not looking forward to three days spent working alone.

~~~

The rest of the day dragged, Danny acutely aware of Martin's absence.

The past few days have been frustrating, their lack of progress irritating, but alone, still searching through dead leads, the job quickly became boring.

So much so that Danny left right at five, pausing briefly by Mike's empty desk, tempted to wait. Mike didn't show, Danny eventually giving up ten minutes later, heading home because there was always tomorrow and Danny was fairly certain his anger wouldn't dissipate before then.

He regrets having left so early the second he gets home, Danny not quite sure what to do with himself, his apartment vacant and stifling, the thought of spending the night staring at his television set unappealing.

He's tempted to attend an AA meeting, despite having just been last night. It's almost sad, when he thinks about it, that his entire existence in Seattle consists of going to work, coming home and attending his meetings.

In New York he would have gone out. Dinners and dates and the occasional club and Danny misses having a social life.

He doesn't have that here, Martin the only person he talks to on a daily basis and Danny's tempted to call him. He doesn't, mostly because he knows his call would be met with suspicion.

He reminds himself that it wouldn't matter anyway, Martin likely on his way to his appointment --provided he goes, and Danny's once again tempted to call, this time with a reminder-- so the chances of him being home are slim and Danny once again finds himself worrying.

He's been doing that a lot lately, Martin consuming his thoughts and Danny's starting to suspect he's a lot more attached to Martin than he first suspected.

A lot more attached than he should be and what Danny needs to do is get laid. Find someone who's not Martin and maybe then he'll be able to banish Martin from his thoughts, replace him with someone else and before Danny can question what he's doing, he's pulling out his yellow pages.

Guilt surges in his chest as he flips through the pages, Danny purposely ignoring it, telling himself that Martin's made it clear that he's not interested in anything besides a professional relationship. It doesn't make him feel any better, but the impulse to shut the book, retreat to his couch and his television, vanishes.

There are several gay clubs listed, all of them in Capitol Hill, a couple of blocks north of his apartment and Danny chooses one at random, committing the address to memory before heading into his kitchen.

It's still early, Danny having plenty of time to eat, maybe even shower and change, before heading out. Opening his fridge, Danny ignores the small voice that tells him he also has plenty of time to change his mind.

Chapter Text

She's taken to watching him again, expression appraising and it's starting to drive Martin crazy.

He knows he can't say anything, though; the second he does Dr. Mitchell will write something in her little book and Martin would give anything to see what she's written so far.

Nothing of use, Martin suspects, because he's spent the better part of the session alternating between purposely ignoring her questions, skirting around the topics she's brought up, and staring at the clock on the far wall.

She got a few things out of him, mostly short, to the point answers to direct questions and Martin can tell she's not impressed.

Yes, he's fine.

No, he doesn't think he needs a second appointment.

Yes, he's getting enough sleep.

Martin knows she doesn't buy any of it.

Which is her problem, Martin reminds himself, because he really is fine, he really doesn't need a second appointment, and he really does sleep, occasionally.

Enough that he can still get by, anyway, Martin once again lapsing into silence, Dr. Mitchell still watching him, waiting patiently and Martin glances up, the clock on the far wall reading seven-ten and, good, he can leave soon.

He almost didn't come, twice Martin turning around on the drive in, tempted to head back home. The only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that his father would find out, arrange for Martin's transfer and an hour's worth of scrutiny is far better than a life under his father's watchful eye.

Something in his expression must have shifted, because as soon as Martin thinks it Dr. Mitchell leans forward, arching an eyebrow and too late Martin remembers to still his features to impassiveness.

It doesn't help, Dr. Mitchell clicking open her pen, bending down to scribble something in that damn book of hers and Martin winces.

"So how are things working out with Danny?" she asks a second later, pen once again becoming still, remaining poised over the page and Martin blinks.

"Fine. They're fine," he answers, Dr. Mitchell nodding, pen slashing across the page and Martin knows she's just underlined something.

He has no idea what, and that, Martin thinks, is what frustrates him the most about this. He's never been a fan of people judging him; never been a fan of people forming opinions behind his back and, even though Dr. Mitchell is facing him, it amounts to the same thing.

The clock on the far wall inches forward, Martin mentally counting down the seconds, tension draining as the minute hand pushes forward to seven-fifteen.

"Well, I guess that's it," Martin says, smile somewhat triumphant as he stands.

He doesn't linger, reaching for his coat --the one that Dr. Mitchell very pointedly told him to remove upon his arrival and as soon as he shrugs into it he feels infinitely less exposed -- before glancing back over, Dr. Mitchell still watching him, pen still poised in the air and Martin's half terrified she's going to ask him to stay.

"I'd like to see you again," she says instead, Martin's stomach sinking, the thought of spending another hour sitting on Dr. Mitchell's couch --and Martin refused to 'make himself comfortable'-- less than appealing.

"I don't..."

"I do," she interrupts, tone firm and Martin knows better than to argue.

Instead he nods weakly before crossing the room, pausing at the edge of her desk, Dr. Mitchell turning around, scribbling a date and time onto another of her cards before glancing up at him.

"I'm also going to give you a prescription for Ambien. If you find you're having trouble sleeping, it'll help," she informs him, pulling out a prescription pad, writing the information in messy cursive before handing both the prescription and the card over.

Martin accepts them wordlessly, waiting for her nod before turning to leave.

He waits until he makes it out into the hall before releasing a breath, today just about the longest day of his life and Martin's tempted to head upstairs to his desk.

It's late enough that he knows he could get away with it, but he has no idea what he'd spend his time doing, so Martin dismisses the thought, hitting the button for the ground floor as soon as it makes it into the elevator.

Dr. Mitchell's card is still clutched in his hand, along with her prescription and Martin stares at them both before tucking the card into his breast pocket. He doesn't want the prescription --he really has been sleeping, most nights-- Martin crinkling the paper into a ball, the elevator bouncing to a stop and as soon as the door opens Martin tosses it into the lobby trashcan.

Two quick flights bring him down to the parking garage, Martin hesitating, once again considering heading back up to his desk. It's too late now, Martin tells himself, security having seen him leave and if he heads back in now it'll only bring up awkward questions.

He doesn't really want to go home, though, the thought unappealing and Martin sighs before making his way over to his car.

~~~

He made it as far as his street before turning around.

He's driven past the office twice now.

In truth, he has no idea where he's going; no idea what he's looking for and mostly Martin just doesn't want to be alone.

The thought solidifies as he finds himself turning onto Danny's street, Martin half tempted to turn around, but he needs to go somewhere and he can't go home and he can't go to work and maybe this way Danny can fill him in on what he spent the afternoon doing.

It's a good plan, Martin tells himself, a good purpose and it's not until he pulls to a stop in front of Danny's building that Martin starts to see the flaw in it.

Because showing up on Danny's doorstep is bound to bring up questions; questions Martin doesn't want to answer --like how his appointment went, or how he is, or what happened with Mike. Mostly, though, he doesn't want to explain his presence, his excuse no longer sounding as valid as it did on the drive over.

Danny could easily misread Martin's intentions, after all, Martin trying very hard not to think about Danny in non-working terms and he doubts he'll be able to do that standing in Danny's living room.

Still, he spends ten minutes sitting on the side of the road, watching Danny's building --dark and Martin tells himself that it's only because Danny's apartment faces out onto the back of the lot.

He doesn't actually know, having never been inside, but it's easier to assume that than to assume Danny's not home. And he could be at a meeting --granted, it's Wednesday, and Danny once told him that he went on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There was a Monday in there, though, so the night could have changed.

And he could simply be sleeping --although it's not quite eight o'clock, so Martin doubts it-- or grocery shopping, or a thousand other things that don't involve other people and sex and things that, if Martin's honest with himself, he wants with Danny.

The thought draws him up short, Martin shaking his head before starting the car, pulling back onto the road and he turns north at the next intersection.

He still doesn't know where he's going, driving aimlessly because it's either that or admit defeat and go home. He still doesn't want to go home, though, tense energy still lingering and Martin knows that going home will mean spending the night pacing the length of his living room.

Either that or staring at his bedroom ceiling and Martin suspects he'll be doing enough of that over the next few days to last him a lifetime.

This is his first suspension, Martin not quite sure what he's going to spend the next three --five, Martin reminds himself, a weekend in the middle and the thought is enough to make Martin shiver-- days doing, work usually consuming all of his time and this amounts to the longest 'vacation' Martin's ever taken.

The blaring of a horn draws him from the thought, Martin only then realizing that he's been sitting at a stop sign for several minutes. The car behind him pulls out, engine revving as it rushes past Martin's car. Martin offers its driver a single finger before easing into the intersection.

He knows where he is now, the neighbourhood entirely too familiar and of course he ended up here.

He used to come here often, after a case ended badly, or after a string of sleepless nights. That all ended months ago, vanishing alongside Tyler and Martin wonders if maybe that's what brought him here tonight.

Everything comes full circle, after all, Martin chuckling at the thought, pulling to a stop at the side of the road and he cuts the engine, but doesn't get out.

Instead he sits, staring out the passenger side window, the dull glow of lights beckoning; the faint wisp of what he's certain must be imagined music terrifying.

~~~

He's not sure how long he's been sitting, the inside of his car becoming cold, his breath forming mist, fogging the insides of the windows and Martin can barely see the building he's parked in front of.

He's still thinking about leaving, heading home, giving up on his quest for... God, he doesn't even know anymore.

His thoughts are too disjointed, too chaotic and Martin jumps at the sudden sound of someone tapping on his driver side window.

He blushes the second he realizes what he's done, scolding himself, because he's been sitting outside her house for... yep, twenty minutes if his watch is accurate, so someone was bound to come over and check in on what he was doing.

Still, rolling down the window, intent on telling a nosy neighbour to mind his own business, Martin's shocked to find Laura standing next to his car, coat wrapped around her and Martin blushes a second time.

"Sorry... I..."

And he doesn't know what he's sorry for; doesn't know what he wants except, once, her house was a place of refuge for him, Tyler and Laura taking him in on more than one occasion, feeding him dinner --Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays-- talking and laughing and the memory is so overwhelming that Martin's throat tightens.

"You coming in?" Laura asks, her words simple, but Martin knows she's not asking.

She's telling, Martin nodding, laughing just under his breath before climbing out of the car, Laura leading him up to the house, glancing once over her shoulder as she heads inside to ensure he's still following.

It's the scent that hits him first. It hasn't changed. Hasn't altered and Martin finds himself inhaling, warmth and comfort and home lingering in the air.

He hasn't been inside since the night Tyler died, not quite able to bring himself to pass through the door; barely able to now and Martin swallows against the sudden dryness in his mouth.

"I'm going to make us some tea. Sit down, Martin," Laura tells him, again her words a command, again Martin nodding, slipping off his shoes before wandering over to the couch, sinking into the cushions and Martin can't count the number of nights he spent sitting in this exact place --watching movies or waiting for dinner or listening to Tyler tell one of his stories.

Once, Tyler had the entire office here, a summer barbecue Laura called it, Laura making the rounds with chips and salsa while Tyler grilled burgers that Laura had made from scratch.

Martin's so lost in the memory that he doesn't hear Laura's return, tea cups clinking as she sets the tray down on the coffee table in front of him, Martin nodding his thanks, reaching for the pot while Laura claims one of the high back armchairs that face the couch. Martin pours her a cup, struggling to remember that she takes milk before handing it over, cup rattling against the saucer and, dimly, Martin's aware of the fact that his hand is shaking.

~~~

He tells her everything. Eventually.

It takes time, Laura not coaxing, letting Martin get to it on his own and, that, Martin thinks, is what allowed him to relax long enough to feel comfortable talking.

He tells her about the case and New York and the man who shot her husband.

He tells her about the shooting and Danny and the days that followed.

About his session with the Bureau shrink.

About how angry he is.

How miserable.

About how every little thing is too much and how he just wants to go away, forget about the job and his career and his life because it's too much. About how he can't because he needs, needs to do this.

By the time he's finished, his eyes are dry.

Rimmed red, chest tight, shoulders tense and Martin can't remember the last time he felt so emotionally drained.

It's only then that Martin realizes that Laura hasn't said a word.

She's only watched, listened, expression sympathetic, understanding in a way Dr. Mitchell wasn't.

Martin releases a breath he didn't know he was holding, lungs expanding painfully and across from him, Laura shifts.

Martin glances up, bringing her into focus for the first time since he arrived and the first thing Martin notices are the tears in her eyes, the slight quivering of her lip as she pushes herself out of her chair, steps laboured by too long sitting as she makes her way to his side.

She sits next to him, drawing one of his hands into her own, squeezing firmly and Martin's suddenly reminded of his Aunt Bonnie, of the time he skinned his knee riding his new bike --the first without training wheels and Martin was so proud. She held his hand much the same, fingers warm and soothing and, after, Martin wore his scar like a badge.

Still, Laura doesn't say anything, letting the silence speak for her and Martin's tempted to curl into her side, let her comfort him because it's been too long since he last clung to his mother's apron.

"I miss him," Martin finds himself saying, the words whispered, throat raw and Martin swallows what little moisture is left in his mouth.

"I know. So do I," Laura replies, squeezing his hand, smiling then, smile slipping and Martin knows he's not going to want to hear what she has to say.

Knows too that he likely needs to, Laura one of the few people in his life who gives him cold truth and Martin steels himself for her words.

"This case, Martin... Solving it, it's not going to bring him back. It's not."

Her words come out choked, but her gaze remains steady, a mark of how important this is to her, how important he is to her and Martin's tempted to feel guilty. He can't, though, knowing she won't allow it, knowing doing this is as important to her as it is to him. It still hurts to respond.

"I know."

And he does. Somewhere, deep down inside, he does.

~~~

He wakes to the scent of coffee, Martin blinking before remembering where he is.

Laura's couch, sound drifting in from the kitchen and Martin knows she's awake.

He doesn't remember falling asleep, but he remembers sleeping, Martin sitting up, registering the soft blanket he doesn't remember retrieving --Laura's hand, then-- that's draped across him.

He dreamt of Danny.

Of New York and the case and Tyler and everything he's spent the past few days --weeks, months-- trying to block out. He knows he can't, now, avoidance what brought him here in the first place and now that it's out he can't seem to put it back in.

His body's stiff as he pushes himself off the couch, pausing long enough to fold his blanket, placing it gently on the couch before heading into the kitchen, Laura cracking eggs into a ceramic bowl and Martin's stomach rumbles.

She turns at the sound, offering a smile and, in that moment, Martin knows that he's not okay. Knows too that he will be.

Chapter Text

He's spent the last hour sitting at his desk, staring at his phone.

It hasn't rung once.

He knows it's still too early, nothing about this job instantaneous, but he's more than just a little sick of waiting.

He's spent the past two days waiting, after all; longer than that, actually, but it didn't really feel like waiting when Martin was still in the office. Martin's not due back until Tuesday, though, today only Friday and Danny finds himself wincing, because how the hell is he supposed to make it through two entire days on his own?

Technically, he's not really on his own. Harold has him working with Maureen, Danny surprised --not to mention thrilled-- to learn that Mike was also given a three day suspension. He only found out yesterday afternoon, Danny having spent the better part of the morning searching the building, hoping for a confrontation.

It obviously didn't happen; isn't going to happen and Danny can't help but wonder if Harold knew of Danny's intentions. If Danny's potential anger somehow factored into Harold's decision and Danny wouldn't be surprised to learn that it had.

In the end it probably doesn't matter, Mike not around and Danny tells himself that it's probably for the best. Besides, Danny doubts Martin would appreciate him interfering.

Not that Danny actually knows, because he hasn't spoken to Martin in two days --not since Wednesday afternoon, anyway, and he's called, several times over the past few days, but Martin's either not home, or he's not answering his phone. Danny's trying very hard not to worry.

He can't quite help it, though, Danny once again reaching for his phone, calling Martin's cell and, once again, a monotone voice answers, telling him that the cellular customer he is trying to reach is unavailable.

He doesn't bother trying Martin's home number, Danny now knowing Martin's answering machine message by heart and, if Martin wasn't home when Danny left for work an hour ago, Danny doubts he'll be home now.

He's not even sure why he keeps trying. He's worried, true, but he suspects a lot of it has to do with guilt and Danny has to remind himself that he didn't do anything. And even if he did, it's not like he owes Martin anything.

He didn't, though, so it doesn't matter, regardless of how close he came --which wasn't even really all that close, because he only lasted ten minutes inside the club.

Nowhere near long enough to meet someone, Danny showing up Wednesday night, momentarily overwhelmed by the blare of music, the pulse of lights and the heady scent of sweat and sex.

It wasn't really his scene, but he stuck around long enough to dance with a guy that reeked of alcohol, dilated pupils suggesting he wasn't merely drunk. He didn't even get the guy's name, Danny bolting the second he felt a hand on his hip and he called Martin from his cell before he even made it home.

Called Martin again the second he made it into his apartment, Martin not answering, Danny eventually giving up and heading to bed alone. He fell asleep an hour later, cock still hard, mind still racing and it was quite possibly the most frustrating night of his life.

Not that yesterday was any better. He's not used to working with Maureen, after all, Maureen completely different from Martin in every way and twice over the course of the day he forgot her rule about first names.

It earned him a glare each time, Danny cringing at the memory, suddenly understanding Martin's hesitation around the woman. It's made worse by the fact that working with Maureen has made him appreciate Martin even more than he already did, Danny thoughts constantly straying and thinking about Martin usually leads to worrying about Martin.

Worrying about Martin usually leads to wondering exactly what Martin's spending his time doing and Danny's not sure he really wants to know.

He's not an idiot. He knows he's obsessing; knows exactly what it means too, and, if Danny's honest with himself, he can even pinpoint exactly when he first started to fall for Martin.

It happened long before their night in New York; long before Martin's deteriorating mental state and Danny knows he's long since moved past the point of no return. He's invested, regardless of how much he wishes otherwise, and he knows it's only going to get worse.

It probably wouldn't even be that bad, if he had the faintest clue what to do about it. He doesn't, though, and regardless of how many times he tells himself to forget about it it keeps coming up --so much so that he's taken to throwing himself into his work, something he hasn't done since leaving New York and it's only marginally ironic that the job is too slow to provide an adequate distraction.

His phone still hasn't rung --and he knows he's waiting for Martin to return his calls just as much as he's waiting for other people to get back to him.

It's the other people he's worried about now, though, Danny having called in every favour owed to him, half of New York searching for the names Baut gave them and, so far, nothing.

Danny tells himself to give it time, turning back to his monitor before his thoughts can drift back to Martin, scrolling through the scanned mug shots that Vivian sent him, hoping for a break.

~~~

Baut gave them three names.

Sergei Mikhailov is the first and, so far, all Danny knows is that they guy is apparently the New York head of a prominent Moscow based gang called Solntsevskaya.

Before starting this case, Danny was under the assumption that the Russian Mafia was exactly that. It's not. There are dozens of warring groups, Solntsevskaya one of the few that have established operations in America.

Martin explained it all to him once, but Danny didn't really absorb the information. Left alone to work out the details, Danny wishes now that he'd paid closer attention.

Yerik Ivanov is the second, and also the guy the NYPD lost track of six months ago, Yerik likely somewhere in Moscow by now and Danny's pretty much given up hope of bringing the guy in. He's contacted Interpol --contacted the Moscow authorities too, but Danny doubts that'll amount to anything-- but so far no one's gotten back to him; one of the many phone calls Danny's waiting on.

Dmitri Abramova is the third name on their list, but Danny's starting to suspect the guy doesn't exist. He's pretty much a ghost, people having heard of him, but never having actually seen him and Danny's spent the better part of two days searching.

Two days with nothing to show for it and Danny was hoping to have at least made some progress before Martin got back. In all likelihood, Martin will come back to find Danny exactly where he left him. Danny can't quite decide what's worse; the thought of disappointing Martin, or knowing that they're no closer to solving this case than they were before their trip to New York.

He tells himself they've made some progress, that every hour they wait is an hour they learn just a little bit more and eventually it'll all come together.

The thought's not quite enough to brighten his mood, but it's enough to ease his frustration, Danny's stomach growling, reminding him that they're halfway through the afternoon and he hasn't yet had lunch. Maureen's not at her desk and Danny briefly recalls her mentioning something about food.

As soon as he thinks it she appears, stride purposeful as she makes her way to his desk and Danny can tell she's still not used to working with him. She keeps glancing at Mike's desk, like she's half expecting Mike to appear and Danny waits until she reaches Martin's desk before smiling.

"They didn't have chicken, so I got you a turkey club," Maureen says, throwing a take-out bag onto his desk and Danny can't remember asking, but he must have.

It's from the place down the street, the deli he tends to frequent with Martin --the first place he ever ate with Martin that wasn't the cafeteria and Danny scolds himself for once again letting his thoughts drift.

He's trying not to think about Martin, after all, needing a clear head to maintain focus and thinking about Martin tends to distract him from other, more important things.

"A fax came across for you," Maureen says, distracting him from the thought and Danny's tempted to thank her.

He doesn't, instead watching as she places her own sandwich down on Martin's desk, sitting in Martin's chair and Danny knows Martin will likely be pissed when he gets back. Martin, Danny knows, is very protective of his space.

And once again he's drifting, Danny suddenly registering Maureen's words, taking a sip of what's left of his morning coffee --cold and bitter and from the break room because stopping at Starbucks for one doesn't seem worth it-- before speaking.

"A fax?" he asks, Maureen nodding, digging through the pile of papers she brought with her, pulling it out and Danny has to fight not to snatch it from her hands.

He still pulls it back a little too abruptly, Maureen arching an eyebrow, Danny flushing before ducking his head, not really know what to say.

He's been waiting for this, a friend of his from ATF promising to send something over and Danny's hand shakes as he flips past the cover page.

Дмитрий Абакумов, aka Дмитрий Абреков, aka Дмитрий Абрамов

Danny flips ahead to the English translation.

Dmitri Abakumov, aka Dmitri Abrekov, aka Dmitri Abramova

The last page is a scanned picture, the scar on his right cheek instantly identifying him as their guy and... he's incarcerated.

In Sacramento, of all places, and Danny doesn't think before standing, lunch forgotten, Maureen eyeing him curiously and Danny nods in the direction of Harold's office. By the time she catches up, he's already knocking on the door.

~~~

Harold agreed to have Abramova transferred immediately.

It took Danny twenty minutes to convince him to bring Martin back a day early, the earliest they could arrange for Abramova's transport Monday and Danny knew this was something Martin needed to be a part of.

In the end, Harold agreed, but only on the condition that Martin returned without pay, and only for the duration of the interview. Danny agreed on Martin's behalf.

It took another two hours after that to put together all of the necessary paperwork, Danny currently on route to the DA's office to have the transfer request signed. Maureen's driving, mostly because Danny's still not that familiar with the city.

He feels good, though; excited for the first time in days and twice since leaving Harold's office he's tried calling Martin's cell. Tried Martin at home too, once leaving a message, because he's fairly certain this break is exactly what Martin needs right now.

Or maybe not, Danny not really sure, because he's never seen this side of Martin, so far all he knows this could make things worse.

He tells himself that's not the case, Martin just as eager to move forward as Danny and by the time they pull into the underground parking garage Danny's practically twitching with anticipation.

He knows where he's going now, Danny leading the way to the elevator, briefly flashing back to the first time and the sense of confusion that's only just started dissipating.

He even turns the right way once the elevator stops, Maureen following behind like a shadow, silent, completely focused on the task at hand and Danny knows she doesn't really understand. Doesn't get how important this is, can't possibly, and it's a mark of how well she reads people that she hasn't said anything.

By the time they make it into the DA's office, Danny's almost forgotten she's there.

~~~

His apartment is just as bleak as it always is and Danny thinks briefly about painting.

Warm colours, something to make the place a home and Danny's not sure when he started wanting to make Seattle his home, but he no longer finds himself horrified by the thought.

In fact, he almost finds himself eager at the prospect, Danny registering that he has two days with nothing to do but wait and suddenly the thought of adding life to his apartment sounds appealing.

It's something to focus on, anyway, Danny not entirely certain he'll last the weekend without going crazy.

They got their transfer request signed, Abramova expected to arrive first thing Monday morning and it can't come soon enough. He still hasn't spoken to Martin, having tried his cell, and his home number, several times throughout the afternoon. Still no answer and Danny's starting to worry that something might have happened.

He tells himself he's just being ridiculous, that Martin's perfectly fine and that he'll show up Monday morning impatient to move forward.

The thought does nothing to ease his apprehension, Danny pulling out his cell, calling Martin's apartment and when Martin doesn't answer, Danny leaves a stuttering message telling Martin to call him back.

Hanging up, Danny decides to give him until tomorrow morning; if he hasn't heard from Martin by then he'll go over, drag Martin out of the house if need be.

Until then there's nothing left to do but wait, Danny reaching for his phone book, scanning the yellow pages for paint stores.

Chapter Text

Laura's couch is no more comfortable the fourth night than it was the first. Halfway through the night, Martin thinks that he probably should have accepted her offer of the guest room.

He's not a guest, though, regardless of how many times Laura's told him that he's welcome to stay as long as he likes. He doesn't want to intrude on her for long; just long enough to sort out his thoughts and already things are beginning to clear.

He's made the decision to go home tomorrow, wanting at least a day or two to sort out his life before returning to work. His apartment is still a mess, he has laundry to do and groceries to buy and he's not going to accomplish any of that if he stays here.

Still, the thought of leaving is difficult.

He's gotten used to having someone around, Martin spending his days doing odd jobs around her house, fixing things that he knows Tyler would have once fixed, running errands that he knows Tyler would have once ran. Mostly, though, he spends his time talking.

It's easier to talk about it now than it was on Wednesday, each day that passes bringing a new sense of calm and Martin can't remember the last time he shared so much of himself with one person.

He's talked about his childhood, about his parents and the detachment that never really went away. He's talked about his decision to follow in his father's footsteps, about going into the FBI and the path that brought him to where he is now.

He's talked about work, about the department and the case that took Tyler's life. He's talked about Tyler, about how much Tyler meant to him and how much Martin misses him.

He's talked about his life, about loves old and new, about his sexuality and the never-ending loneliness that's plagued him since college. He's talked about Danny.

He's talked until his words turned to tears. Talked until his words turned to laughter. Talked until his voice betrayed him, vocal cords so strained that he was forced into silence.

Laura accepted it all. Listened to it all, commenting only occasionally, a comforting word or a sage piece of advice and Martin wishes he'd done this sooner.

Last night they sat in silence, Martin once again incapable of words, throat raw from overuse and again Laura made them tea. The silence was comfortable, though, Martin watching from his place on the couch as Laura knit a small bonnet for her great niece.

She's been gone several hours now, having announced that it was time for bed before clearing off the coffee table, once again offering Martin the guest room and when Martin refused, she merely retrieved the blanket and pillows she'd brought out for him on the second night.

Martin fell asleep seconds after she left.

He's not sure why he's woken up now, dawn at least an hour away. He's been sleeping well here --sleeping period, which is an accomplishment considering the past few months-- tonight the first time he's woken before Laura and Martin blinks at the surrounding darkness and wills himself to fall back asleep.

It doesn't help, and Martin can't help but wonder if his sudden insomnia is a result of his apprehension. He's nervous about going home tomorrow --nervous about going back to work, too, because he's not quite sure he's ready to face the case that first brought him here.

Not quite sure he's ready to face Danny.

He hasn't spoken to Danny in days, after all, Martin not quite able to bring himself to call. He hasn't even checked his messages, his cell turned off and Martin knows that's probably a good thing. Knows too that he needed these past few days, the time spent completely detached from everything that he was.

Everything that he still is, Martin notes, because nothing has really changed. His head feels clearer and he's more focused than he has been in awhile, but aside from that, he's still Martin.

Still, the thought of heading back to work worries him, Martin knowing that it'll be a while before things return to normal. On top of that, he owes Mike an apology; Danny several and, despite Laura's assurances, Martin knows that talking to Danny isn't going to be easy.

There are things that he needs to tell Danny, after all, things that he's only just coming to terms with. He's told Laura, one of the many things they've talked about and each time Martin found himself fumbling for the words so he has no idea how he's supposed to broach the subject with Danny.

He cares about Danny. Likes Danny. Is genuinely interested in Danny and, despite everything he's spent the past few weeks telling himself, he does want something more with Danny. It took him three days of denial to be able to say that out loud, but the thought of saying it to Danny still terrifies him.

Part of the problem is that he knows he's not ready; nowhere near and Laura agreed with him, telling him that he had to sort his own problems out before dragging Danny into it. Martin knows she's right, but he's still half afraid he's not going to be able to stop himself, that the second he sees Danny it's all going to come out.

"I can practically hear you thinking."

Laura's voice takes him by surprise, Martin coming to with a start, only then registering the light in the kitchen, Laura standing in the archway between the dining room and the living room and thoughts of Danny vanish.

"Sorry, I didn't wake you, did I?" Martin asks, sitting up, blanket clutched to his chest and he suddenly feels like a kid again.

Like he used to feel on Christmas eve, Martin and his sister always too excited to sleep and they'd talk in hushed whispers so as to not to wake their aunt and uncle.

"No. I actually got up to grab a glass of water, saw you staring at my ceiling," Laura answers, shuffling forward then, easing herself into the same chair she sat in on the first night and Martin smiles at the memory.

"Couldn't sleep," Martin explains, thankful for the sudden darkness, heat rushing into his cheeks and Martin knows they're likely stained scarlet.

Laura doesn't say anything right away, instead merely looking at him, eyes appraising and Martin knows she's waiting for him to continue.

"I guess I'm just worrying about going back to work," Martin admits, no longer able to keep anything back and Laura nods.

Still she doesn't say anything, instead standing, Martin watching her leave, nervous tension not quite as apparent as it was before her arrival. She makes it as far as the archway before turning around, soft smile tugging at the corners of her lips and Martin glances over curiously.

"You know, when I first met Tyler, I wanted nothing to do with him. He must have asked me out twenty times before I agreed," Laura tells him, pausing to let Martin absorb her words. "Do you know why I finally did?" she asks.

Martin's heard the story from Tyler's point of view before, but never hers, so he shakes his head, gesturing for her to continue.

"I realized I was already in love with him," she answers, tipping her head to bid him goodnight and Martin watches her go a second time, not really registering the relevance of her words until the light in the kitchen fades to darkness.

There's truth in them, he realizes; no one ever plans on falling in love. It just happens.

~~~

When he first moved to Seattle, he rented a small apartment in Danny's neighbourhood. It wasn't a bad place, small, but it suited his needs. Six months later a case brought them to Queen Anne, a neighbourhood just north of the downtown core. He fell in love with it.

It took him a couple of months to find a place, but the second he moved in he felt like he'd come home.

It's almost strange, then, to walk into his apartment and feel out of place.

His walls are still the same, a warm shade of taupe that reminds him of coffee, and his floors are still covered by area rugs that were hand picked by his sister. His furniture still looks new, positioned to optimize the space and Martin recognizes it all, registers it as home, but the warmth and life that surrounded him the past few days doesn't extend here, the space more void than Martin can ever remember it feeling.

He forces himself to head inside, the door clicking shut behind him as Martin toes off his shoes, hanging his jacket in the front hall closet before heading into the kitchen.

There is still a pile of dirty dishes lined next to the sink, Wednesday's paper still sitting, unopened, on his kitchen table. His fridge is bare, Martin knows, and the left over coffee sitting in his coffee pot is likely mouldy. Martin ignores all of it.

There's a stack of mail sitting next to his phone, Martin tossing the few bills he picked up on the way in on top of the pile. The light on his phone flashes angry red, Martin only then remembering the cell phone tucked in his pocket. He pulls it out, switching it back on before setting it down next to the mail, reaching for his landline, dialing in to get his messages. A pre-programmed voice tells him he has three, quite possibly the most Martin's ever received.

The first is from Danny, his tone excited, and Martin finds himself smiling before he registers what Danny's saying. They've found one of their suspects, Harold agreeing to let Martin return on Monday and Martin smile widens to a grin for an entirely different reason.

The second is also from Danny, but this time he sounds concerned, his words slightly stuttered as he asks Martin to call him back. Martin swallows against the sudden guilt welling in his throat before deleting the message.

He doesn't quite make it through the third, Danny again, only this time he's angry, panicked even and Martin reaches for his cell phone, flipping it open and dialing Danny's number before the message finishes playing.

Danny answers on the third ring.

"Hey, sorry, I just got your messages," Martin says, silence his answer and Martin waits.

Danny doesn't say anything, Martin wincing at Danny's unspoken anger, not quite sure what he did to warrant it, but fresh guilt pools in the pit of his stomach all the same.

"Danny..."

"Where were you?" Danny interrupts, the question taking Martin by surprise, Laura's words coming back to him then and actions really do speak louder than words.

Looking back, he can't even count the number of times he's seen Danny concerned, Danny worried and Martin knows now that it means Danny cares.

"I was at Laura's," Martin answers, momentarily surprised by his honesty.

Danny seems surprised too, silence once again echoing through the line and Martin's halfway to asking when Danny speaks.

"You okay?" he eventually asks, Martin smiling at the question, nodding before realizing that Danny can't actually see him.

"Yeah. Yeah, I think I am," Martin answers, and it feels good to say that and actually mean it.

Again, Danny doesn't answer right away, and Martin suspects he's likely analysing Martin's words, searching for the meaning behind them. Martin gives him his moment, waiting until he hears Danny's exhaled breath before continuing.

"I hear you found Dmitri," Martin says, not quite ready to get into the specifics of his emotional state. Not quite trusting himself to talk about non work related things.

"Yeah, we did. Are you going to be there tomorrow?" Danny asks, seeming more at ease than he did when he first answered and Martin takes that as a good sign.

"Yeah," Martin answers, already looking forward to it, his frustration with the case having almost completely dissipated and it's nice to know that he'll be heading back to progress. "Good job, by the way," Martin tacks on as an afterthought, oddly proud of Danny's achievement.

The rest of their conversation consists of formalities, Danny filling him in on the progress he's made and the leads he's generated. They don't talk about anything substantial, but hanging up, Martin feels good about the conversation, lighter than he has in a while and suddenly he's looking forward to Monday.

~~~

He's well rested for once. Early, but not too early, Danny already in and Martin smiles as he makes his way across the office.

Danny hasn't noticed his presence yet, head bent down, absorbed in the file open on his desk and Martin knows that he's preparing for their interview, their suspect's due in just after ten, giving them two hours to finalize any details.

Martin makes it just past Maureen's desk --Maureen not around, but her jacket's hanging off the back of her chair, so Martin knows she's in-- before Danny glances up, only then noticing Martin's presence and he seems momentarily surprised.

The expression vanishes almost as quickly as it came, Danny smiling, pushing himself out of his chair and he crosses around to the side of his desk.

Martin doesn't hesitate before offering over one of the coffees in his hands.

He's not sure why he thought to stop off and get it, maybe because it's something Danny does every morning, or maybe it's a gesture of goodwill, thanks for everything Danny's done for him, or maybe it's an apology for everything Martin's put Danny through. Either way, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Danny arches an eyebrow before accepting it, smile widening to a grin as he nods his thanks. He doesn't say anything, though, leaning against the side of his desk while he waits for Martin to get settled.

It's strange being back, Martin not quite sure what to do with himself. He takes his time hanging up his coat, setting his coffee down onto his desk and...

"Okay, who's been using my desk?" Martin asks, glancing over, Danny laughing and Martin watches as he shakes his head.

"I told her you wouldn't be impressed," Danny answers, Martin instantly registering that he's talking about Maureen and Martin flashes back to their conversation yesterday, Danny telling him about Mike's suspension.

It's another thing he'll have to apologize to Mike for, Martin knowing now that he should have just walked away. Still, he doesn't feel guilty, but rather, somewhat pleased that Mike was forced to endure the same agonizing down time as Martin.

Mike's not due back until tomorrow, though, so Martin puts the thought aside, glancing up to find Danny watching him, Danny's soft smile hesitant and Martin finds himself smiling back, silently telling Danny that he really is okay.

Whether Danny believes it or not, Martin doesn't know, but he nods, reaching for the file on his desk and it's easy to fall back into working.

Chapter Text

At ten to ten, the mood in the office shifts.

It begins when Martin stands, his cell ringing a second later and Danny knows, even without asking, that it's Harold. Their conversation doesn't last long, Martin's answers short and to the point, but Danny can tell, just from Martin's sudden shift in breathing, that their suspect has arrived.

The second Martin hangs up he's moving, grabbing the files off his desk, pausing only long enough to make eye contact and Danny nods before standing and following Martin out of the room.

They spent the past few hours going over the details, Danny getting Martin up to speed, trying very hard not to analyze every little thing that Martin did --not an easy task, but Danny managed-- the case first and foremost and this could be the break they're waiting for.

Harold agreed to let them conduct the interview on their own, despite his initial protest and it took Danny stepping into the hall, Martin locked inside Harold's office for almost twenty minutes before Harold relented.

Danny still doesn't know what was said.

He hasn't asked, though; hasn't had time, the case moving too quickly, hours inching forward and by the time the call came through they were still working out who was going to do what.

Danny knows that it's probably not necessary, that the second they get inside the interrogation room they'll fall back into their usual pattern. Still, Danny was hoping for more time, not quite comfortable with Martin's sudden presence.

He thinks it might be because Martin seems different somehow; calmer than he's been in recent weeks and Danny still has no idea what transpired at Laura's house. Whatever it was, it seems to have worked, Martin seeming almost normal, once again becoming the guy that Danny knew only briefly; the guy that Danny met after their rocky start and before their trip to New York and this is the Martin that took Danny out for dinner and ordered club sodas.

He knows he should be relieved that Martin seems to have banished whatever demon he's been carrying around, but Danny keeps expecting him to crumble, half convinced that Martin's improvement is nothing more than an illusion.

He tells himself that he'll find out soon enough, Danny forcing himself to focus on the task at hand, following Martin through the halls until they reach the interrogation room. Martin pauses just outside the door, peering in through the small, one-way window that lets them see inside.

Dmitri Abramova is sitting inside, hands folded neatly on top of the table, cuffs securing his wrists and he looks completely at ease. He's shorter than Danny first imagined, but where his size lacks, his features more than compensate, Abramova quite possibly one of the harshest looking men Danny's ever seen. In addition to the scar that cuts in cheek in half, he has another over his eyebrow, another across the bridge of his nose and yet another running through the cleft of his chin. His eyes are the colour of steel, cold and unyielding and Danny makes a mental note to use his most intimidating persona.

"You ready?" Martin asks, the words practically whispered, said right against Danny's ear and Danny can't quite stop himself from shivering.

He glances over a second later, Martin not paying attention, staring intently into the glass and Danny knows Martin's been ready for this for a while now.

"Yeah, I'm good," Danny answers, Martin glancing over then, making eye contact and, before Danny can stop himself, he's asking. "You?"

Martin doesn't answer right away, instead holding Danny's gaze, eyes clearer than Danny can ever remember seeing them and, when Martin nods, Danny almost believes him.

"Just," Martin says suddenly, Danny surprised by his words, somehow expecting Martin to insist they head straight inside. He doesn't say anything else, Danny eventually growing worried, opening his mouth to ask, but before he can get the words out, Martin's reaching forward, hand tangling in Danny's hair and...

"Is this paint?" Martin asks, nails scraping along Danny's hair, Martin pulling his hand free, flecks of colour buried beneath his fingernails. He smiles then, arching an eyebrow and Danny can't quite hold back his laughter.

It feels good to laugh, Martin eyeing him curiously, expression amused, slightly affectionate too and Danny's breath catches at that, his laughter fading a second later.

"I thought I got it all," Danny explains, hand absently coming up to run through his hair.

"I think you're good now," Martin tells him, waiting for Danny's hand to drop back to his side before nodding toward the window. Danny smiles his agreement, stepping back to let Martin lead the way, not quite as worried as he was before.

~~~

He's long since given up on the intimidation approach. It's obviously not necessary, Abramova far more cooperative than Danny was expecting and Danny suddenly finds himself hopeful.

Abramova's been incarcerated for going on three years now, part of the reason no one's been able to find him, Abramova arrested under a different name and ATF only recently put together his list of aliases. The guy they're looking for in New York, Sergei, is apparently behind Abramova's arrest, Abramova not even remotely impressed and he's more than willing to testify if it means paying Sergei back.

It bodes well for them, Danny still not quite sure what to make of Abramova's eagerness to help. He's seen it happen before, guys down the chain taking the fall for the guys at the top and bitterness is usually a good motivator. Still, Abramova has to want something, revenge not enough of a motive to turn over the top ranking man in a gang that Abramova's spent his entire life involved with.

"So what do you want in exchange?" Danny asks, Abramova having only hinted so far, without actually giving anything away and it's obvious that the guy knows how to negotiate.

"For what?" he asks, smirking slightly, the scar on his cheek inching toward his eye, making him look even more menacing than he already did. Danny's not impressed.

"You give us Sergei Mikhailov, we give you..." Martin responds, trailing off with a gesture and Abramova's smirk shifts to a grin.

He doesn't answer right away, appearing to think it over and Danny knows it's a ruse. He already knows exactly what he wants, the dramatic pause exactly that, Abramova hoping his silence will work in his favour.

It won't, but Danny doesn't tell him that; let Dmitri think whatever it is he wants to think, so long as, in the end, they get their information.

Oh, they're willing to negotiate, provided it doesn't violate law or procedure. Getting Sergei amounts to solving the case, after all, no one else inside the country above him and while shutting him down won't destroy Solntsevskaya, it'll certainly set them back, enough that their operations will be left in shambles.

Getting a conviction will be harder, though, which is why they need Abramova. With his, and Baut's, testimony, and the evidence collected by Martin and Tyler, they should have enough to put Sergei away for a long time. Take any one of those things out of the equation and Sergei will likely walk.

"I want a transfer," Abramova eventually says, obviously feeling that he's let the moment drag out long enough.

Danny arches an eyebrow. Beside him, Martin leans forward.

"To where?" Martin asks, tone guarded, Martin's expression completely blank and Danny finds himself rather impressed.

He's seen Martin interview before, but this Martin is decidedly more confident than the Martin Danny knows, Martin practically daring Dmitri to answer.

"Attica," Abramova replies a second later, Martin's eyes narrowing and Danny knows he's not the only one surprised.

Most inmates, when requesting a transfer, want to move from a maximum security facility to a medium, or low security facility. This is the first time Danny's ever heard anyone request a transfer from one maximum security facility to another.

"Why?" Danny asks before he can stop himself, Martin glancing over, deciding against interjecting, leaning back instead and Abramova doesn't hesitate before answering.

"My kid brother is there, мой брат," he says, like the answer should have been obvious and Danny has to fight not to glare.

Instead he glances briefly at Martin, Martin still watching him, obviously willing to let Danny finish his line of questioning. Across the table, Abramova looks perfectly at ease, like he already knows his request is going to be met and Danny hates that they need the guy enough to be willing to reunite a criminal with his brother.

"We'll look into it," Danny answers after a moment, standing then, Martin a step behind him and Danny doesn't look back, not willing to give Abramova the satisfaction of knowing he's gotten exactly what he wants.

Stepping out into the hall, Danny tells himself that it's worth it; that if this is what it takes to close the case, they should consider themselves lucky.

~~~

Harold insisted on taking over negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons to arrange for Abramova's transfer.

It's left them with little to do, Abramova back downstairs in a holding cell, awaiting a second interview and Danny's starting to get just a little antsy. He wants to finish this up, after all, Dmitri's cooperation necessary if they hope to bring Sergei in.

Martin, on the other hand, seems completely at ease, relaxed in a way that Danny's not and Danny's not quite sure what to think about that. It's strange, almost as if the past few weeks didn't happen and, more than anything, Danny wants to ask. He can't quite find the words, though, knowing that he should just be thankful to have Martin back.

And he is. It's just... odd, strange in a way Danny wasn't expecting and he keeps waiting for Martin to break. The fact that it hasn't happened is only adding to Danny's anxiety.

"Would you sit down," Martin says, like he's somehow read Danny's mind and Danny forces himself to stop pacing. "Harold said this might take a while," Martin continues, the explanation not needed --Danny was there, after all-- but still Danny nods.

"I know, it's just..."

"Yeah, I know," Martin answers, Danny glancing over then, taking in the lines around Martin's eyes and it strikes him then that maybe Martin's not quite as put together as he appears.

He seems to be struggling, anyway, his control conscious and Danny finds himself frowning.

He still doesn't know what Martin spent the last few days doing, aside from the fact that he was Laura's house --and Danny knows absolutely nothing about the woman, except that she is Tyler's widow.

Once again Martin seems to know exactly what Danny's thinking, his features softening and he reaches out, hand curling around Danny's elbow and Danny's momentarily shocked into silence.

"I'm okay, okay?" Martin says, Danny not quite sure how to respond to that.

He settles on nodding, surprised to feel himself relax and Danny chuckles softly before moving around to sit in his chair. Martin watches him from across the tops of the desks and, as soon as Danny's sitting, he smiles in an effort to displace some of the awkwardness.

Martin returns the gesture a moment later, not breaking eye contact. For a second, Danny swears he's going to say something, elaborate, but the moment passes and Martin glances away. Danny tells himself that he's not disappointed.

~~~

He's taken to pacing again, this time outside of Harold's office, Harold still on the phone with the Department of Justice and Danny's starting to suspect they're not going to make a decision today.

He has no idea where Martin is, Martin having disappeared ten minutes ago --and Danny's fairly certain he should be worried, but for some reason he's not. He's too preoccupied to worry, the waiting driving him crazy and it's almost ironic that he's somehow taken over Martin's role.

This is Martin's case after all; Martin's obsession so it should be Martin pacing out in front of Harold's office, not Danny.

"Hey."

Martin's voice, the word practically whispered and Danny chuckles to himself, shaking his head before glancing in Martin's direction, Martin watching him, his expression appraising and Harold is forgotten as Danny makes his way to Martin's side.

As soon as Danny reaches him he notices the coffees in Martin's hand --the second Martin's brought him today and Danny can't help but wonder when they traded places.

"Thanks," Danny says, accepting the offered coffee, Martin nodding over his shoulder, silently asking Danny to walk with him and Danny doesn't hesitate before falling into step at Martin's side.

Martin doesn't say anything and Danny's tempted to ask where they're going, but he figures he'll find out soon enough, so he swallows the words with a sip of coffee and keeps walking. He's not even sure Martin actually knows where he's going, Martin wandering aimlessly, leading them down halls Danny's never actually seen before.

"You know, I kept telling myself that this would all end when we solved the case," Martin suddenly says, the comment idle, but Danny knows what he's not saying.

It's the first time Martin's even mentioned his brief vacation, or the events leading up to it. Danny's not quite sure what to make of Martin's sudden admission, but suddenly their walk has a purpose. Danny can't help but wonder how long Martin's been planning this.

"Will it?" Danny finds himself asking, Martin smiling then, shaking his head, but before he can answer, his cell phone rings.

He doesn't stop walking, but his steps slow as he reaches into his breast pocket, pulling out his phone, hitting talk and Danny listens to Martin's side of the conversation, waiting until Martin hangs up to arch a questioning eyebrow.

"We're good," Martin tells him, turning left at the next set of intersecting halls and Danny knows where they're going now.

Back down to the interrogation room, Abramova's transfer approved.

~~~

Abramova gives them more than enough to move forward.

In fact, he even managed to narrow down several locations, all of them in Brooklyn and Danny can't quite suppress the grin that surfaces the second they make it out into the hall.

Martin seems just as pleased, but withdrawn in a way Danny wasn't expecting, like he never actually thought he'd reach this point and Danny's grin fades to something neutral.

"You okay?" he asks, Martin glancing over then, nodding briefly, but he doesn't answer.

His silence speaks volumes, but Danny can't interpret any of it.

"So I guess we're heading back to New York?" Danny asks after a moment, turning the focus back to the case, because it's worked in the past with Martin, so Danny knows it'll likely work now.

"Actually, I think we'll let him come to us," Martin answers, and this time he smiles, something new reflected in the depths of his eyes and Danny thinks he might be seeing tranquility.

Danny doesn't ask, not really wanting to challenge Martin's mood. Instead he nods, silently heading back to their desks, Martin following a moment behind, pace even and Danny finds himself thinking that, maybe, Martin really is okay. At the very least, Danny knows, he will be.

Chapter Text

The weeks following their interview with Abramova passed quickly.

The tail end of an investigation is always hurried, everything coming together at the last minute, the pace not quite frantic, but hectic enough to consume their days. All they're waiting on now is a phone call.

They have boxes of evidence --each carefully labelled-- stacked neatly in an empty office across from Harold's. Abramova and Baut are in protective custody, still intent on testifying, Baut to earn his lesser sentence, Abramova to earn his transfer, and his retribution.

The New York offices are scouring the city, searching for Sergei and they've promised to call as soon as they find him. It's only a matter of time, now.

It feels strange, knowing that the end is near. Stranger still knowing that Tyler isn't around to see it. Martin knows that closing the case won't banish Tyler's ghost; it won't stop the dreams or vanquish the memories, but Martin's starting to realize that that's not necessarily a bad thing.

He doesn't want to forget Tyler, after all, Tyler's presence welcome now, like an old friend too long between visits.

It's not all good, though. Martin still wakes in the middle of the night to sweat soaked sheets and lingering nightmares and, sometimes, the weight of it all will settle in his chest and he'll find himself unable to breathe. He's getting better at fighting it, though, not quite as willing to give up as he once was.

He still attends weekly, mandatory sessions with Dr. Mitchell. He hasn't opened up completely, but he's stopped lying to her --stopped lying to himself, too, and that, Martin thinks, is what's important. What he doesn't tell Dr. Mitchell, he tells Laura, Martin visiting her weekly too and Laura seems to enjoy Martin's company almost as much as Martin needs hers.

He still hasn't figured out what to do about Danny, but things between them are... better.

Not perfect, but they've started working well together again, becoming a functioning unit and, occasionally, Martin can see the first hints of what is fast becoming a tentative friendship. It's not what he wants, but he's more than willing to wait, knowing patience will pay off in the long run.

They still have their own issues to work out, after all, Danny seeming closer to doing that than Martin is. Every day Danny seems just a little more settled, a little more comfortable. He hasn't mentioned New York in days, something that he used to do almost hourly when they first met and Martin's taking that as a good sign.

They haven't talked about New York, or the night that passed between them, but Martin still thinks about it --all the time, in fact, and he's fairly certain Danny can say the same. The memory is no longer awkward, though, and Martin credits that to Laura, Danny one of the many things they talk about. Still, Martin knows that eventually he'll have to bring it all up with Danny.

It's hard to know where to start, though, especially when Danny's rambling on non-stop beside him, Danny recounting a story that Martin's heard before. It's still funny, even hearing it the second time, so Martin finds himself laughing, nodding his agreement because only Mike would think to propose to Maureen without first checking to see if she was interested.

"Right there in front of me. I swear, I thought she was going to kill him," Danny finishes, pausing then to take a bite out of his sandwich, eyes brighter than Martin can ever remember seeing and maybe he does know where to start.

"Danny," Martin finds himself saying, tone only slightly hesitant, Danny glancing over and he swallows before gesturing for Martin to continue.

Martin doesn't get the chance, though, the words on the tip of his tongue when his cell rings and Martin sighs before pulling it out, disappointment vanishing the second he registers the number.

"Fitzgerald," Martin says into the receiver, listening to the confirmation he was waiting for.

Hanging up, Martin doesn't realize that he's grinning until he glances over to find Danny doing the same.

"We got him," Martin still says, Danny reaching into the space between them to clap Martin on the shoulder and Martin once again finds himself without words.

~~~

Harold congratulates him on a job well done.

Martin tries not to blush, fails miserably and gives his thanks.

This isn't how this should have ended, Martin knows, because there are still more questions than answers, nothing quite as resolved as he wants it to be. He's starting to accept that, though, knowing that, regardless of how things worked out, he'd never truly feel like this was over.

Still, he feels lighter than he has in a while, Harold promising to draw up the necessary paperwork for Sergei's transfer, telling Martin to call it an early night and Martin agrees before heading back to his desk.

Danny's waiting for him, leaning against Martin's desk, seeming almost nervous and Martin smiles, the gesture more shy than he intended.

"So that's it?" Danny asks as soon as Martin makes it to his side, tilting his head to make eye contact and Martin's not quite sure how to answer that.

Because it's not, really, but it's close enough; closer than he ever expected to get, anyway. They still have an entire cabinet full of unsolved cases, though, this merely one in a never-ending pile that will likely last them their entire careers.

"Yeah, I guess so," Martin still says, Danny nodding, clearing his throat and Martin remembers Harold's words. "Harold wants us to take the rest of the day off."

Danny nods a second time, but this time he seems almost hesitant, disappointed even, like this wasn't what he was expecting and Martin knows how he feels.

He's never closed a case with fanfare, but for some reason he was hoping maybe this one would be different.

"Yeah, okay," Danny eventually answers, pushing himself off Martin's desk, heading around to his own desk, slipping into his coat, pulling out a pair of gloves and Martin's suddenly very much aware of everything they don't talk about.

"Danny?" he finds himself asking, his earlier words coming back to him then and Martin's suddenly glad that he didn't say them. They aren't the words he was looking for, their meaning entirely too complicated for what is really a simple situation.

Martin waits for Danny to glance over, expression curious as he waits for Martin to continue. Martin still has to force himself to speak, throat tight with nerves.

"You want to grab something to eat, celebrate, maybe?" Martin asks, momentarily flashing back to their first case, to the first time he asked and it seems almost fitting that this is what brought them full circle.

Danny's expression shifts, becoming almost searching and a second later it falls, so much like the first time that Martin doesn't need to see the slight shake of Danny's head to know his response.

"I should probably head..."

"Danny," Martin interrupts, knowing exactly what Danny was going to say, not quite willing to let Danny say it and Danny glances up a second time, this time his expression slightly hopeful and Martin doesn't think before speaking.

"Just say yes."

For a moment, he doesn't think Danny's going to answer, Danny staring at him, confusion and something that Martin thinks might be doubt reflected in his eyes. Seconds seem to bleed into minutes before Danny glances away, laughing softly to himself, the sound short and punctuated, but he nods, Martin releasing the breath he was holding.

"Yes," Danny still says, grinning then, glancing up and Martin finds himself smiling.

He glances away only long enough to reach for his coat, Danny already waiting by the time Martin has it on and the second Martin glances back over, Danny nods, gesturing for Martin to lead the way.

Martin smiles a second time before leading them toward the elevators.

~~~

Epilogue

Danny drives, something that he thinks Martin might find amusing, because it's the first time Danny's offered in the eight months he's been in Seattle.

He knows the city now, almost as well as he knew New York and Danny's not quite certain when that happened, but he finds himself oddly okay with it.

He finds himself okay with a lot of things, actually, like the fact that he hasn't been back to New York since Christmas, and the fact that he only just got his apartment the way he wanted it and now he's in the process of moving again.

It's okay, though, because this time he likes the destination, their new place reminiscent of Danny's apartment in New York and Danny's still surprised that he managed to talk Martin into buying it.

If he's lucky, it might not even rain the day they're set to move, spring in Seattle occasionally sunny and Danny's hoping the weather holds until the weekend.

"Wait, stop here," Martin says beside him, distracting Danny from the thought, Danny slowing down, but not stopping and Martin glances over long enough to glare.

"Danny."

"We have to be in court in twenty-minutes," Danny says, but he stops, double parking, ignoring the blare of horns behind him and Seattle really is nothing like New York.

"This will only take a minute," Martin says, gesturing for Danny to stay with the car and Danny watches him go, Martin climbing out of the car, jogging down the street and he disappears into one of the stores.

Danny waits until Martin's inside to glance over at the car's clock, mentally counting down how much time they'll need to make it to the courthouse. Sergei's trial doesn't start for another hour, but they need to be there early, their appointment with the DA scheduled for ten and it's now quarter to.

He's tempted to head inside, drag Martin out by force if necessary, but he doesn't get the chance, Danny halfway to reaching for his seat belt when Martin slides back into the car, Bed Bath and Beyond bag in hand and Danny raises an eyebrow.

"What? We needed a shower curtain," Martin tells him, Danny sighing, because Martin picked out Danny's last shower curtain and Danny knows this one is likely just as bad.

He doesn't get the chance to find out, Martin tossing the bag into the backseat, Danny not quite missing the slight hint of orange and Danny winces, knowing exactly what curtain Martin decided on. It's the one he circled in the catalogue, sliced oranges and lemons spread across a canvas of white and Danny's already plotting how to destroy the thing without raising Martin's suspicion.

It took him four months to destroy all of Martin's ties, Danny replacing them with ones of his choosing, and so far Martin hasn't noticed, so Danny figures his chances are pretty good. Besides, he has time, Danny perfectly confident that, eventually, Martin will come to understand the difference between tacky and tasteful.

"Don't even think about it, Taylor. I still haven't forgiven you for the ties," Martin says as Danny merges back into traffic, Danny glancing over to find Martin watching him, glare not quite touching his eyes and when Martin started being able to read Danny's mind, Danny doesn't know.

"What ties?" Danny still asks, schooling his face to innocence and Martin shakes his head, laughing a second later, so Danny knows he's not really mad.

He won't be mad about the shower curtain either, and even if he is, Danny will find a way to make it up to him. He always does.

Fin.