Danny Taylor stood in the shadows, waiting, wanting to burst into Martin's hospital room, wanting to grab Samantha by the shoulders and shove her out the door, wanting to take his place at Martin's side, to be the one comforting and holding and getting him water and wiping his brow. But he held back, knowing it could only get him banned from ever visiting Martin again. Waiting. Wishing she'd leave. Hoping she'd get a phone call or need to take a leak or anything to get her away from there. And the longer he waited, the more his gut clenched in fear and guilt and need. Fear that Martin might not make it, guilt that it had been his fault, need to touch warm skin, to know that life pulsed through that still form.
Finally. Finally! Sam got up, pulled out her phone. Strange he hadn't heard it ring, but it must have. She opened it as she left the room and went down the hall. He waited a bit longer, wanting her out of sight before he moved. She went as far as the end of the hall to look out the windows as she talked. Far enough, Danny decided. Far enough.
He slipped quietly into the room, pulled the chair closer to Martin's head, sat down. Now that he was in the room, at the bedside, he was afraid what he'd find if he touched Martin. Afraid that his skin would be cold and lifeless, not warm as it should be. Taking a deep breath, Danny slipped his fingers around Martin's hand, almost giddy at the warmth and life he felt, thrilled at the small twitch of Martin's fingers curling around his own.
Studying Martin's face, looking for some sign, he wanted to shout or laugh out loud with joy when he saw the small movements under his eyelids.
"Hey," he greeted Martin, not knowing what else to say.
Martin cracked open his eyes, looking toward him, not completely focused, but aware. "She gone?" he rasped.
"Got a phone call. She'll be back." He couldn't resist the urge to touch Martin's face, gentle touches to his forehead and through his hair, thrilled when Martin turned into his touch.
"Don' wan' her here." Martin's voice was dry and slurred, but it was the most beautiful thing Danny had ever heard.
"I know," Danny told him. "You rest, I'll take care of it."
A minute nod, and Martin's eyes closed, his breathing became even as he fell back into sleep. Danny stayed as he was, his right hand linked with Martin's, his left gently cupping Martin's head, his thumb stroking Martin's brow. It was how Sam saw him when he felt her presence as she returned to the room.
"Danny?" It was all he'd allow her to say. He turned to look at her, knowing there was anger and determination and possession in his expression, and not caring how she took it or who she told.
She said nothing, just opened and closed her mouth, then looked down at the floor. A second later she turned and left and Danny knew she wouldn't be back.
When he looked back at Martin, the tiny smile told him all he needed. His gut began to unclench, the panic to recede as he kept watch.
"I've got your back, Martin," he whispered, "and this time I won't fail."