He couldn't remember the last time he'd taken comfort in something as simple as breathing. Couldn't remember the last time drawing oxygen into his lungs felt more like celebration and less like living. Couldn't remember the last time he'd actually thought about each breath, each release, like it wasn't instinct but rather conscious choice, something he did because he could, not because he needed to.
All around him the world pulsed in shades of blue and red, light reflecting off every surface, catching each piece of shattered glass, each inch of twisted metal, each stretch of rain-soaked pavement until they all blurred together, becoming a spectrum of colour that faded to shadow as the light passed, circling around to begin the cycle anew.
To his right, someone said his name.
A paramedic, Martin thought absently, eyes still locked on what was left of their car.
Hollow now, nothing more than remnants of steel, too twisted and broken to be useful for anything other than scrap. The body of Adisa still sat in the back, posture the picture of perfect calm and, if it weren't for the blood splattered against the back windshield, Martin would have half expected him to glance over and make eye contact.
It didn't happen. Wouldn't happen and, this time, when the paramedic said his name, Martin blinked and glanced down at the man kneeling beside him.
"What?" he heard himself ask, the word hollow and empty, distant sounding even to his own ears and Martin wondered just how long it would be before the world lurched forward into real time.
Too long it had remained at a standstill.
"I asked if this hurt," the paramedic repeated, his features never once shifting as he pressed two fingers hard against the slight wound on Martin's thigh.
Would be bullet hole and Martin didn't bother wincing. Pain was abstract, apparently.
"No, I'm fine," he replied, more out of instinct than anything.
"You guys were lucky," the paramedic continued, tone conversational and Martin knew the man was just trying to keep him talking, keep the shock from setting in.
"They weren't aiming for us," Martin replied automatically, the same speech he'd given the detectives who'd first interviewed him, long before the Bureau had taken control of the investigation.
The same speech he knew he'd end up giving countless times before all of this was over. Before they were simply allowed to go home, back to lives that had almost ceased to exist and Martin shivered against the sudden chill he couldn't be certain actually existed.
The last of the rain was falling as drizzle now, soaking through his already wet suit until all Martin could feel was damp. Beside him, the paramedic said something about infection, but Martin tuned him out. Turned his head to glance across the street instead, seeking out the second ambulance, the man leaning against the side like it was the only thing keeping him standing. Danny.
Danny looked just as dazed as Martin felt; eyes fixed to the ground beneath his feet, chest rising just a little too fast as the paramedic next to him searched for signs of injury. Martin knew they'd find none. The hit was professional.
Over so fast that Martin can barely recall the details. Just enough to know that they hadn't found the time to draw their weapons; hadn't done anything but hit the ground, cowering against a barrage of bullets and, by the time it was over, Adisa was dead, the men and the van gone, vanishing into the night almost as quickly as they had appeared.
"I'd like to take you in for a tetanus shot, have the doctors check you over, but other than that you're fine. Bullet grazed your leg, but it's fairly superficial."
It took Martin a moment to process the paramedic's words. Another moment to realize the paramedic was standing now, expression professionally blank and Martin shook his head. Pushed himself away from the ambulance, leg shaking for one brief moment before he found his strength and started forward, speaking over his shoulder.
"I'm fine. Routine tetanus shot last year," Martin answered, not bothering to wait for a reply as he crossed the street.
He made it halfway before Danny glanced up, eyes unfocused and Martin's steps almost faltered at the vacant expression on Danny's face. He'd seen the look before; Danny had worn it the entire time they'd been searching for Rafael.
So much for this day ending well.
Danny was still staring as Martin closed the distance between them; vacant expression shifting to something that reminded Martin of loss and Martin didn't bother resisting the urge to touch. He reached forward, hand shaking slightly as he placed it on Danny's shoulder, squeezing a little harder than necessary and Danny blinked.
"Are you okay?" Martin heard himself ask, worry bleeding through, but Danny didn't appear to notice.
Martin did and wondered, briefly, when he'd started worrying more about Danny than the actual situation. Thought it might have something to do with having seen Danny fall apart during his brother's case.
"Yeah. Just your average day," Danny replied a second later, letting out a desperate sounding laugh and Martin flinched before letting his hand fall back to his side.
It was like flicking on a light switch. Instantly Danny's lost expression was replaced by tense energy and Danny was moving. Rocking on the balls of his feet, hands clenching and unclenching and Martin knew Danny well enough to recognize the adrenalin that had been momentarily masked by shock.
"What about Paige?" Danny asked suddenly, and Martin could tell he was already putting the pieces together, making connections that only Danny could see and Martin bit his lip to keep from telling Danny to calm down.
"She's fine. They made it to central booking without incidence," Martin replied, words slow and purposeful, like maybe, just maybe, Martin alone could keep Danny from jumping headfirst into an investigation they'd been all but ordered to stay out of.
"Okay, so the…"
"Which means they're probably…"
And this time Danny did stop, his entire body freezing and Martin knew it had nothing to do with Martin's objections. Nothing to do with Martin's attempt at distraction and before Martin could stop him, Danny was reaching forward, pushing aside what was left of Martin's pant leg to stare at red-tinged white of the gauze on Martin's leg.
"I'm fine. It's just a scratch," Martin reassured, willing Danny to glance up and make eye contact.
Danny didn't, eyes still locked on Martin's leg and Martin told himself he was just imagining the look of stark terror that flashed in the depths of Danny's irises.
"Danny, I'm fine," Martin repeated, tone pleading this time and when Danny glanced up, Martin's breath caught at the blatant concern that was written across Danny's face.
"Yeah, it's just… Shit," Danny got out, shaking his head like he could clear away the knowledge that they had almost died.
That their lives were spared by mere trajectory and the chill in the air returned, leaving Martin shaking despite his best efforts to remain still.
He'd always hated hospitals. Hated the off-white of the walls. Hated the scent of industrial strength cleaners that didn't quite cover up the lingering scent of sickness. Hated the static noise that was always far too loud and Martin pulled the grey blanket they'd given him when he'd first arrived tighter around his shoulders.
It did little to provide warmth, but Martin knew that was more a by-product of shock than the actual temperature of the room. He thought briefly of asking for a second blanket, but decided against it, knowing showing weakness now could mean the difference between going home and spending the night. More than anything, he just wanted to go home.
That and talk to Danny. See Danny and convince himself that they really were okay. That they'd survived because, sometimes, Martin wasn't so sure. Sometimes he wondered if maybe they had died and that all of this was his version of hell; stuck waiting in a hospital room for all eternity while doctors continued to pass by his room, never once coming in to release him.
As soon as he thought it, the door opened, an older doctor entering the room and Martin let his blanket fall back to pool on the bed beneath him. The exam took next to no time --waiting was always the longest part of any hospital visit, Martin had discovered. A dozen or so questions, yet another tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics later, Martin was released, wordlessly sent home like the hospital just wanted to be rid of him. Martin wasn't about to complain.
He waited until the doctor left the room before pushing himself off the bed. His leg aching dully, but it was better than the initial sharp, stabbing pains, so Martin ignored it, concentrating instead on changing out of his gown and into what was left of his clothes.
His pants were forever destroyed, the tear straight up his thigh from where the paramedics had ripped the fabric to gain access to his leg making him look less like an agent and more like a vagrant. His shirt might be salvageable, if he could get the blood splatter out, but Martin wasn't sure he wanted to bother. They were only clothes, after all.
Laughing to himself, Martin shook his head, wondering briefly why he was suddenly so concerned with a suit he'd bought off the rack years ago. Grabbing the last of his things, Martin ran his hands through his hair before heading for the door, eager to get away from the bland walls and suffocating air that seemed a permanent feature in every hospital room he'd ever been inside.
The second the door closed behind him, he spotting Danny; sitting against the back wall, waiting and Martin could practically feel the anxiety rolling off of him.
Danny glanced up at the word, his relief apparent and Martin swallowed against the sudden urge to cross the room and kneel down beside him.
"You're okay?" Danny asked, standing, the question meant to be a statement, but Martin could hear the doubt in Danny's tone.
"I'm good. Just a scratch, remember," Martin replied, smile vanishing as the joke dissipated between them. "You?" he found himself asking, more to displace the silence than anything.
For a moment, Danny merely stared, eyes dark and questioning before his features shifted into something close to resolve.
"The truth?" he asked, waiting for Martin's nod before continuing. "I could use a drink, actually," he replied with a laugh, but Martin could tell the admission wasn't entirely a joke.
Still, Martin smiled, laughing softly before shaking his head, finally crossing the hall to stand at Danny's side before responding.
"I could go for a coffee," Martin said, arching an eyebrow and this time Danny chuckled, tension vanishing almost instantly and Martin's smile became genuine.
"Close enough," Danny replied, nodding for Martin to lead the way and it wasn't until they started walking that Martin realized Danny had changed out of his suit and was now wearing jeans.
Martin didn't bother asking when Danny had found the time.
"I'll just be a minute. Make yourself at home," Martin said, throwing his keys down on the front hall table before heading in the general direction of his bedroom.
Danny didn't reply, but Martin could hear him wandering around. Imagined him aimlessly going through Martin's things, seeing parts of Martin's life that only Sam had even been privy to. For some reason, he was more comfortable with Danny seeing this side of him than he ever was with Sam.
Martin couldn't help but laugh at that, because it probably should have been an indication of things to come. Probably should have given him some clue in just how badly things with Sam would end.
Not that it mattered anymore and Martin quickly changed, depositing his suit directly into the trash, pausing to use the bathroom on his way back, washing the blood from his face and hands. He still didn't feel clean, but he felt better than he had before and, besides, he didn't think Danny would be willing to wait around while Martin showered.
As it was, by the time he made it back out into the living room, Danny was sprawled across his couch, head tilted back, eyes closed and Martin wondered whether going out for coffee was such a good idea.
Wondered if doing anything aside from sleeping was a good idea because the last of his energy was spent convincing Jack to interview the both of them in the morning, rather than dragging them down to the office straight from the hospital.
He felt like he'd been awake for hours and it was obvious the day had taken the same toll on Danny, so rather than disturbing him, Martin wandered into the kitchen, made coffee there because he was fairly certain they both just needed the company, not a night out on the town.
He'd gotten as far as filling the tank with water and putting in a filter when Danny coughed behind him, causing Martin to jump, dumping entirely too much coffee into the basket.
"Sorry," Danny simply said, tone apologetic, but Martin could tell he was slightly amused.
There was something else there, though, something Martin couldn't place and Martin turned. He took in the sight of Danny leaning against his kitchen door, eyes still dark, tinged with exhaustion and Martin smiled before flicking on the coffee maker.
"No problem. I thought maybe we could just stay here. Less effort," Martin said by way of explanation, earning a nod and a smile that made Martin's breath catch in the back of his throat.
He shook his head to avoid pondering exactly what his reaction meant, telling himself he was just tired, that the day was finally catching up with him.
For a moment, neither of them spoke, the only sound in the room the constant drip-drip of the coffee maker and Martin found himself shifting awkwardly. It lasted only a moment, and then Danny was moving, crossing the room to sit at Martin's table and Martin found himself exhaling against a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.
"I'm surprised Sam's not here," Danny said almost absently and Martin heard what he wasn't saying.
Instead of me, filled the space between them and it took Martin a moment to recall that Danny didn't know yet.
"Actually, we broke up," Martin replied, watching as Danny processed the words, surprise and something Martin couldn't identify flashing in his eyes for the briefest of moments before the darkness returned.
"Oh," Danny eventually answered, watching Martin, gaze measuring and Martin swallowed as the coffee maker beeped, turned to pour two cups just to avoid Danny's eyes.
By the time he was done, Danny was no longer watching him, instead staring at the top of Martin's table like it was the most fascinating thing in the world. Martin could tell he wanted to say something else, possibly offer consolation, but he remained silent, not glancing up again until Martin pushed a coffee in front of him.
"For what it's worth, I was kind of rooting for you guys," Danny said as Martin sat across from him, pausing to take a sip of his coffee and there was something in his tone that told Martin that he hadn't actually meant the words.
Martin didn't let himself question what that meant, instead shrugging like the entire incident was already forgotten.
"Well you know, stuff happens, right," Martin replied, brushing the topic off because, really, the last thing he wanted to do was discuss Sam.
Maybe a few weeks ago, even a few days ago, but now it seemed almost irrelevant. Like it didn't really matter; never actually had mattered and, once again, the room lapsed into awkward silence.
He thought briefly about explaining that to Danny, because the truth was, talking about Sam was safe. Talking about her meant not talking about that moment in the car and Martin wasn't quite ready to relive the experience. Or maybe talking about Sam wasn't safe, because that moment in the car had Martin questioning things he hadn't questioned in years.
Things like exactly what he wanted out of his life and exactly how much of what he did was for his father's benefit, rather than his own.
Dangerous things that, apparently, only a close brush with death was capable of bringing to the surface.
He'd heard, once, that in those moments, a person's entire life flashed before their eyes. That every decision became clear, every path solid, but until tonight Martin had always assumed the statement was just a metaphor for acceptance of what was to come. Now, he wasn't so sure, because he hadn't found acceptance, only a life he'd never really wanted.
He shook the thought aside, glancing up to take in Danny's concerned expression and Martin smiled in a manner that he hope was reassuring.
Danny's gaze never faltered.
"You loved her, didn't you?" Danny asked, assuming Martin's reaction was based on their current topic of conversation rather than something else entirely and Martin could have sworn the spark in Danny's eyes wasn't idle curiosity. It reminded Martin of hurt, jealousy even.
In fact, it was overwhelmingly obvious, so clear that Martin thought it might just suffocate them both and suddenly years of friendship took on an entirely new meaning.
Each look, each touch replaying over and over again until Martin wanted to scream for having been so blind.
"No. I didn't. I don't," he replied after a moment, holding Danny's gaze and trying to apologize for something that, until this moment, he hadn't even realized he'd needed to apologize for.
Danny didn't answer, instead nodding like he already knew and Martin wasn't sure how to respond to that. Wasn't sure how to respond to anything and way too soon Danny was standing, taking an empty cup to the sink and Martin knew what was coming.
"It's pretty late. I should…" Danny began, nodding in the direction of the front hall and Martin found himself wondering if he'd just imagined their conversation.
Imagined the weight between them that had vanished the second Danny stood.
He found himself wondering just what Danny would do if he asked Danny to stay, but before he could find the words, Danny was leaving the kitchen, crossing the living room and heading into the hall, sliding into his shoes and Martin resigned himself to the knowledge that some revelations came too late.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow?" Martin asked, hating the finality of the statement, but needing to say something.
"Yeah, tomorrow," Danny replied, hesitating for one brief moment before turning toward the door.
He made it as far as reaching for the doorknob before pausing, shoulders tensing in indecision and just when Martin was certain he was going to leave, he turned back, shaking his head slightly before stepping forward, into Martin's space, closing the distance between them and pressing a light kiss against the side of Martin's mouth.
It lasted only a moment, far too short as far as Martin was concerned and then Danny was pulling away, smiling almost sadly before whispering tomorrow, the word the closest thing to a promise Martin could ever remember hearing and Martin found himself nodding.
Repeating the word and Danny's smile shifted to something softer, something hopeful and, this time, he did leave, letting the door click shut behind him and all Martin could do was stare, hand coming up to absently finger the spot Danny's lips had been just a moment before.
"Tomorrow," Martin said to the closed door, grinning softly before shaking his head, heading back into the kitchen to turn the coffee maker off and clean up their mess.