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Whiskey Predawn

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He's almost certain this is hell.

It's Martin's fault. And when he thinks about it, Martin seems to be at the centre of all his recent problems.

Even here, Martin invades his thoughts. He was certain he could lose him here, in amidst warm, perspiration damp bodies, pulsing base and black lights. Even the faint hint of alcohol lingering on his pallet, does nothing to dim the memory.

Martin, answer me, where are you?

A thick cloud of cigarette smoke hangs in the air, forcing its way into his lungs, choking off oxygen. The pain is welcome, distracting him from his thoughts. He breathes deep. Alcohol, too long absent from his body, sends his blood rushing through his veins. He can't remember why he ever quit, he misses this.

Closing his eyes, he arches back, pressing into his dance partner. Just a pretty pair of eyes, a firm body, someone to help him forget. The unknown stranger rewards Danny's efforts, shifting his hips, grinding his erection into Danny's backside.

This is what he needs.

Martin, oh god no.

The tempo increases, his movements following suit. He's dangerously close to losing control, losing himself. He doesn't care. He never did well with control anyway. That was Martin's thing. Not his, never his.

Twisting around, he pulls his companion tight against him, their bodies merging into one. Half a heartbeat later and their tongues are intertwined in a fast, frantic kiss. He wills the room to stop spinning.

Hold on, just hold on.

His eyes flutter open as he pulls back, his hands pushing his partner back. He can't do this, not now. Memories dance across his vision. For a moment, he's certain he can see Martin's eyes, filled with fear and pain.

"I'm sorry, I have to go," he says, not waiting for a reply before bolting for the door.

Outside, he seeks the solitude of an alley, the stillness of the night seeming surreal. His legs give way, sending him to his knees. He exhales slowly, his breath leaving an icy trail in its wake. He can't seem to stop shaking.

Blood, so much blood. Too much blood. He can't stop it, can't. He tries to recall his basic first aid training. Pressure, need pressure. Stop the bleeding. So much fucking blood.

He forces himself to his feet, his body shivering, from cold or booze, he doesn't know. He leans into the worn brick wall, steadying himself before moving to the street, seeking out a cab. It doesn't take long to find one, there are always cabs in New York.

"Mercy Hospital, and can you turn up the heat?" he asks the driver through the small window cut into the plexiglass.

He allows his eyes to close, trying desperately to keep from being sick. He can't remember the last time he was this tired. Or this awake. He's not even aware of the cab stopping. It isn't until the driver taps the glass that he realizes they've arrived. He pulls a ten from his pocket, tossing it to the driver before climbing out.

Pale neon lights cast an eerie glow around the building, causing him to squint. He blinks, taking a moment to allow his vision to adjust. He's not sure he can do this, the place too real in his current frame of mind.

He forces himself past unattended ambulances and through the main doors. Inside is sterile, cold even. The scent of antiseptics immediately assaults his senses, gagging him in their purity. He crosses the hall to the front desk.

"Can I help you?"

He doesn't recognize the woman, not that he should. He rarely comes here, only when a case warrants it.

"Martin Fitzgerald?" he asks, his tone betraying his panic.

"Let me check," the nurse replies, glancing down at a pile of neatly stacked papers.

He nods, using her distraction to survey his surroundings. It's something he's trained to do. Now, he takes comfort in the act.

Danny, don't leave me, don't leave…

I'm here, I'm here. Just hold on, hold on…

"He's been taken upstairs, room 4D, but visiting hours are over," the nurse informs him.

"Thank you," he replies, already moving towards the elevators. Visiting hours don’t exist for the FBI.

He forces himself to move forward, each step weakening his resolve. He feels as though he's suffocating, pressure constricting his chest until he can no longer breathe. He still hasn't found the words. He has no explanation for being here. Nor an excuse for not coming sooner.

Sirens wail in the distance, the sound seeming unnatural in the early morning predawn. He wills them to hurry, faster, knowing time is short. He can already feel Martin's grip waning, his strength slipping.

The elevator doors open, an unfamiliar corridor stretching out before him. The hall is lit sporadically, leaving most of the space in darkness. He focuses his gaze on the ground, mesmerized by the random pattern of blues and greens in the tile. In truth, he needs something to anchor himself. Something to focus his energy on. Get him through each step.

The door's closed, something he'd only half expected. He's not certain if he's supposed to knock. He raises his hand, pausing mid air in indecision. He places it back at his side, his hand clenching into a fist. It's late, he reasons.

Tentatively, he pushes the door open, stepping into the room. Soft orange light from an outside street lamp seeps in through the window, illuminating the bed. He doesn't remember Martin being this small, this helpless.

He comes to rest at the foot of the bed, staring at the man he calls his partner, his friend. Something more? He's not sure where to begin. In his mind, he pictured the other man awake, aware of his presence. He feels out of place in this scenario.

He ignores the various tubes protruding from Martin's body, concentrating instead on his face. Pale skin meets his gaze, he was half expecting the blood to still be there.

I'm cold, I'm so cold…

You hear that, they're right here. Just a few minutes.

His hands remained balled by his sides, clenching and unclenching the hem of his shirt. He must look quite the sight, still in his clubbing clothes. He imagines Martin waking, taking in his appearance, cracking some joke. The thought brings the first smile in days.

"You know, this would be easier if you were awake," he says to the darkness, pulling a chair beside the bed and sinking into it.

For a moment he stares, blinking back unwanted tears. His rational side chastises him, knowing he shouldn't be letting this affect him like this. He's not even sure why it bothers him this much. He didn't cry when Sam got shot.

But this isn't Sam, this is Martin, and there is a difference. Even if he doesn't want to analyze what that means, he knows it's true. Closing his eyes, he leans back into the chair, shifting slightly in an effort to get comfortable. He knows he won't sleep, but thinks he should. If only for a moment.

~*~

Sunlight streams through the window, falling on the bed. Martin shifts, his body aching and stiff. He refused pain medication, beyond what was absolutely necessary. The physical pain doesn't bother him, much.

He instantly becomes aware of another presence in the room and forces his eyes open. It takes him a moment to adjust to the daylight, spots dancing across his vision. He blinks, his gaze coming to rest on Danny, half sprawled across the room's only chair. He smiles.

Martin knew he would come eventually. Once he got over the self blame and fear. He knows Danny better than most, a feat considering how little time he's actually been here. He knows the other man blames himself for letting him get shot, for not being there to back him up. He also knows how rare it is for Danny to let anyone get close.

Not that he's gotten that close, or at least, not as close as he'd like. But he's earned his trust, and that's something. He considers waking Danny, but isn't prepared to face the awkwardness that will result. Instead, he watches him sleep, wishing for just a moment, the circumstances were different.

Sharp pain radiates through his side, his hand automatically seeking out the bandaged wound. He was lucky, all things considered. Then again, given their job, coming home alive is a stroke of luck everyday.

Not that he believes in luck, or fate for that matter. He's a Fitzgerald, raised to defy chance, destiny. He can still hear his fathers harsh words, telling him he's nothing if he couldn't make it on his own, prove he deserved it. Deserved what, he's still not sure. Certainly not his father's love or approval.

It used to bother him, wanting and needing that approval. It wasn't until he'd transferred to New York that he stopped trying. Started seeking out his own goals, carving his own life. And so much of what he's learnt in New York, he's learnt from Danny.

Movement beside him pulls him from his thoughts. He glances towards Danny, watching as he blinks away sleep and sunlight. He's never seen this side of Danny, so open and vulnerable. He knows Danny's usual openness is a mask, and this is the first time he's seen it slip. He likes it.

"Morning," Martin comments, his tone hiding his nervousness.

"Hey, sorry," Danny replies, fully alert now, the mask firmly in place.

If he didn't know any better, he'd think Danny was hung over.

"For what?" he laughs.

"Nothing. How are you?" Danny replies, a soft smile appearing on his lips.

"Been better, you?" Martin answers, wondering how long they'll play this game.

"Good," Danny replies, grinning now.

He's not sure if he prefers the silence or the awkward chatter. He thinks maybe the latter. He offers a small smile, partly to reassure the other man, partly to break the ice. They've been through this process before, he knows the rules.

"I just wanted to come by and see how you were," Danny says, his voice still thick with sleep.

"In the middle of the night?" Martin retorts, knowing the topic is dangerous.

He watches Danny process the question, his eyebrow lifting as a barb dies on his tongue. For a moment, Martin is sure he's going to respond, explain his presence. He's shocked, and disappointed when Danny stands.

"I should get going, sorry about this. You take care of yourself man," he says, moving towards the door.

"Danny, wait," Martin calls, halting Danny's steps.

"Yeah?" Danny replies, exhaustion seeping into his tone.

"Thanks, I appreciate you coming," he continues, cursing himself for not being able to find better words.

He can just make out Danny's nod, his body radiating tension. He watches him leave, the door closing behind him.

~*~

He manages several steps before sinking into one of the chairs lining the halls. He's not sure what he was thinking, showing up in the middle of the night, falling asleep at Martin's bedside. He hates how weak he is when it comes to Martin.

Hanging his head between his knees, he rubs his temples, trying to ease his lingering hangover. He remembers now why he stopped drinking. Aside from the pain, he's also prone to doing stupid things. Stupid things like falling asleep next to Martin's hospital bed.

He wonders if it's too late go back, apologize for leaving, apologize for coming, apologize for not coming sooner. He knows no apology will make up for his actions, and yet, he also knows it's the least Martin deserves.

Sighing in frustration, he stands, moving back to Martin's door. This time he knocks, the sound ringing out in the otherwise silent hall. Martin's voice echoes from the other side, granting him entry.

He can't read Martin's expression. Surprise at seeing him, irritation at being disturbed. He wants to ask, but knows it's not why he came.

"Look man, I'm sorry. I came because I was worried. I should have come before, but, I just…"

"I know," Martin interrupts, his smile bearing forgiveness.

He nods, uncertain what else to do, what else to say. Instead he moves back to the chair, taking his place at Martin's side. He hopes in the end, everything will work itself out. Martin's alive, and for now, that's good enough for him.