Categories > TV > Without a Trace

The Simple Act of Walking

by tanzy 0 reviews

Guilt has never been a question of logic. Post-ep for 'Showdown,' so spoilers. Suggested slash.

Category: Without a Trace - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Danny Taylor, Martin Fitzgerald, Samantha Spade - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006-01-18 - Updated: 2006-01-19 - 1534 words - Complete

The hospital is stark and bare and mechanical when Danny finally returns. The little photographs and green tinted walls do nothing to detract from the labyrinthine feel of the hallways as he makes his way towards Martin's room. There is a feeling of panic and desperation surrounding hospitals that feels like its been carved into his skin. Despite the hundreds of times he's been inside them for cases and searches, the only memories coming to him now are of the times when he wandered the halls in a panicked daze, searching desperately for his parents, for Rafi, for Martin. The same panic that has been churning in his stomach for days rises in his throat the closer he gets to Martin's room.

He stops just short of Martin's room and sinks into a chair, needing a moment to collect himself. Suspects even a lifetime couldn't help him at this point. His head is throbbing again, despite the gratuitous amount of Ibuprofin he's been knocking back, and his hands ache with the need to hold a heavy glass. One with a good, thick base. Clenches his hands into fists instead but even closing his eyes can't make the gut wrenching need for a drink any less real. It hasn't been this bad in a long time. The last time he'd gone to Vivian to talk, but she's in a hospital room herself across the city. Considers calling his sponsor for the tenth time but its 2am. Danny knows that shouldn't matter, addiction doesn't keep a 9-5 schedule, but he wants to believe he's not so far gone yet.

Danny's not sure he can do this, walk into that room and see Martin lying unconscious in a hospital bed. It will probably be a better sight than the image of Martin in the car, wheezing softly, that's been burned into his retinas for the past 3 days. But still. He hasn't been back since he peeled out of the emergency room to go help Jack find Dornvald. He's been living with the guilt for 3 days and even he has to admit it's seriously fucking him up. Jack has put him on indefinite desk duty, manning phones and collecting files. Danny left the hospital the first time so he could do something, not just sit at his desk and watch the clock tick away his sanity. Despite this, it took him 3 days to finally come back, because he knows the finality of it will hit him when he walks into the room.

This is his fault. He knows this as surely as he knows his parents were his fault. If he hadn't been talking on the phone to Jack, he would have noticed the blue van moving to box them in. If he had been doing his job instead of chumming it up with Martin, then his teammate wouldn't be in the hospital right now. Despite what he might tell everyone else, Danny's not sure he's ready to confront that. Inside he's terrified this might be the one faltering step that causes him to fall behind and back into his old self-destructive ways. The spiral downward is gaping before him and he feels like he can no longer see the path forward.

The door to Martin's room opens and Sam steps out into the hall before Danny can move. She spots him and smiles tiredly as she comes over to him. It doesn't look like she's gotten much sleep, which doesn't surprise Danny since he knows she's been spending every available moment sitting with Martin. He suspects it might be her form of penance for the failed relationship, but he can't even resent her for that, since he's been doing the exact same thing by staying away.

"Hey," she says softly. "I was just going to grab a snack, you should go in there and say hi."

"He's awake?" Danny asks, trying desperately to keep the sudden resurgence of panic out of his voice.

"Yeah, since this morning. He's been asking about you," Sam says, head titling to the side in that way that says she thinks she knows something and is watching his reaction to confirm it.

"I'm fine," he replies unnecessarily for what feels like the thousandth time.

"I'm going to go get something to eat, why don't you go in there?" Sam says again but doesn't move; obviously waiting for Danny to get up as if she knows he'll probably bolt the second she's turned the corner.

Danny stands up, flattening his tie against his churning stomach as if the action had any hope of soothing his nerves. He flashes Sam a wide smile and shoos her off to get herself some food.

"Oh, Danny?" she says just before he opens the door, "they have him on some pretty strong stuff, so don't panic if he drifts off in the middle of the conversation."

"Me? Panic?" Danny says with false joviality, "Surely you jest!" Sam just smiles again and turns away. Taking a deep breath, he opens the door to Martin's room.

"That was fast, you give up on taunting me with you f..." Martin's words die off as he sees Danny step forward.

"Hey," Martin says, his voice raspy. He smiles at Danny from his reclining position on the bed and motions him over with a small movement of his hand.

"Hey," Danny replies and the panic is back as a solid weight constricting around his chest. It's all he can do to sink down into the chair pulled up next to the bed that Sam has probably been occupying. He leans forward, forehead resting against the edge of the bed, and has to close his eyes for a moment so the hysteria doesn't overcome him. Danny starts slightly at the feel of a hand ghosting over his scalp.

"It's good to see you're okay." The hand settles more firmly against the back of his head, fingers moving very so slightly through his hair. Danny can hear Martin's voice but refuses to look up, afraid of what he might see.

"I'm not," Danny finally replies, trying desperately to control his increasingly ragged breathing.

"I almost killed a woman two days ago. We followed Dornvald into a clinic, when we found him he had one of the doctors as a hostage in one of the rooms and I shot through the door without thinking."

"Jesus, Danny," Martin rasps and his hand tightens slightly against the base of Danny's skull.

"Jack put me on desk duty after we found Dornvald," Danny continues as he feels Martin's thumb brush back and forth softly against the edge of his ear. He turns his head slightly towards Martin, resting his cheek against the bed, but doesn't open his eyes because he doesn't want to see the tubes he knows are coming out of Martin's arm.

"And when I left tonight, it took everything I had not to stop at the liquor store that's 2 blocks from my apartment." Martin doesn't say anything immediately in response, just continues petting Danny's head softly.

"So I came here instead," Danny finally manages, pulling away and leaning back into the hospital chair. "So how has your day been?" he manages with a self-deprecating smile.

Martin looks like he wants to protest the change of subject, but the door clicks open before he can say anything. Danny tenses slightly, but it's only Sam returning with something that might pass for a bagel. Sam glances between the two of them and smiles tentatively. Danny gets up from the chair, he knows better than to intrude on these two, even if it means going home and staring at tauntingly empty glasses in his kitchen. He opens his mouth to make his excuses, but is cut off by Martin before he can even start.

"You look tired, Sam, you should probably go catch some sleep if Jack is expecting you in the office tomorrow," Martin says with a warm smile. Danny and Sam both freeze, surprised.

"You sure? I don't want to leave you here alone," Sam says, uncertainty tingeing her voice.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Besides, Danny has to catch me up on all the office gossip he's heard while he's been on desk duty," Martin replies. Danny sits back down, he's not sure when his secret wishes started getting telepathically broadcast, but he's not about to object because right now he needs to just talk to someone. Anyone. To Martin. Sam picks up her coat and purse, wishing them both a soft good night before slipping back out.

When Danny looks back up again Martin's eyes are closed and his breathing has evened out. Leaning forward again, Danny whispers what he's wanted to say since he walked into the room, since he fled the hospital 3 days earlier, since he pulled Martin's limp body from the car.

"I'm sorry."

And it doesn't magically make him feel better, but at least his hands have stopped shaking and he thinks he will make it through the night without breaking open a bottle. He's a long way off from fixing himself, but it's a start and if nothing else in his life he's learned to take one step at a time.
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