Note: Set between 'Manhunt' and 'Lonestar'.
Disclaimer: I don't own these guys; CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer do.
Martin tipped his head back against the couch, pondered for a moment, and then picked up the phone.
"Martin. It's me." Sam's voice was low and husky over the line.
Martin covered his eyes with his hand. "Hey." There was silence, but Martin didn't rush in to fill it like he might have in the past. Instead, he just waited. He stared at the two posters on his apartment walls -- two equal-sized images of three black squares arranged on a white background. One of the posters had a red triangle placed, tip pointing towards the ceiling, in the lower right hand corner. Like everything else in his apartment, the posters were square, modern, abstract, and heavy on lines. He thought about Samantha's place, where he'd been spending most of his time lately -- the warm glow from the lights, the lush watercolor paintings on the wall, the prevalence of rich reds and golds; the combined effect provided a stark contrast to her more minimalist work persona.
"I heard what you did this evening," Sam said quietly.
He wondered where she was in the apartment. Sitting in the living room or bedroom or maybe at the table in the kitchen, the one pushed up against the wall and usually so covered with bills and other paperwork, that it was impossible to actually eat there. "Yeah?" Martin said.
"About how you got
into the car with that boy, how you tried to stop Stone from shooting himself."
Sam's voice trailed off.
"That was a pretty gutsy move."
Martin took a deep breath. "I wish the case had ended differently."
Another pause and then Sam said, "You can't always have the 'happily ever after', Martin."
He sat up. "Are you talking about Stone or about us?" He leaned forward, resting his elbows and forearms on his thighs.
"Jack knows, doesn't he?" The flicker of worry underlying Sam's voice was unmistakable.
"Yeah, he does."
Martin pondered: was that a note of disappointment or relief in Sam's tone? "I guess things are going to be different from now on," Martin said slowly. And when Sam didn't answer, he plowed ahead. "But then again, that really depends."
"What do you want from me, Martin?"
He rose from the sofa and paced the length of the room. "Maybe some acknowledgement that I mean something in your life."
"I told you --"
"That I made you happy, yes, I know," Martin said. He paused to peer behind the blinds to the street below. A car alarm was ringing and he wanted nothing than for it to shut off. "I'm not necessarily sure that's enough for me." He heard Sam suck in her breath.
"All right," she said. "I get it."
Martin tightened his grip on the phone. "Are you all right?"
"I'm thinking," Sam said. She gave a short, self-conscious laugh. "You know, after, um, after my thing with Jack, I vowed, uh, I wouldn't end up in this position again, having to choose, to make that kind of decision." Martin imagined Sam pacing the length of her living room. "I knew what I was getting into when we got involved. It was probably ridiculous of me to expect you could change, that I'd make you feel differently," he said slowly. The words hurt to say.
Sam paused and he imagined her sinking down onto her sofa, tucking her legs beneath her. "You are different, Martin," she said softly. "That's what makes this so hard. I'm not used to guys like you." Her voice cracked. "I didn't want to care for you the way that I do. That's not my style."
Martin leaned back against the wall. "You prefer the emotionally unavailable, the relationships without the danger of long-term commitment. You're afraid of being seen in public with anyone at anytime because it might mean you've found something -– someone –- real and that frightens you. I get all of that and while I don't like it, I certainly understand it."
"I wish you'd understand where I'm coming from."
"And I'd wish you didn't think our relationship was something to hide. Unless—-" he inhaled sharply "—-it was nothing more than a casual fling for you. If that was the case, then I'd prefer to call it quits now." He could feel the heat rising in his face as he said the words, and his heartbeat quickened. He rubbed his right palm against his pant leg. On the other end of the line, he could hear Sam's breathing, slow and even.
"You left the office without saying good night," she said finally.
It wasn't the comment he'd expected. "What?"
"This evening. You just left. When I came to look for you, you were already gone. You didn't say good-bye." Sam sounded curiously and surprisingly petulant.
"I'm sorry," he said. "You were busy. I didn't want to disturb you."
"You were avoiding me."
"Maybe I'm trying to protect myself."
"Okay," she said. "I deserve that." Another beat passed. In the background, the heater turned on, a low, rumble that drowned out the street traffic.
Martin put his hand to his brow. "I don't know what's going on with you, Sam, with *us*."
There was a pause and he could hear her breathing. And then she said, very slowly, "You're not calling it quits, are you?"
He remembered her tone from earlier on the front stoop to her apartment building when she had said, 'sleeping with', those two words burned deep into his memory. "I don't know, Sam. I don't know where I stand with you and I'm kind of tired of trying to figure it out."
She let out another short, self-conscious laugh. "This is just great, just great." She paused. "I didn't think it'd feel like this."
Martin sighed heavily as he ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah," he said. "Me either." He walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and after a moment, shut the door. "So, so maybe we should, you know, take a break."
Sam said nothing.
Martin opened a cabinet and found an old box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. He glanced at it with some disdain and then shoved it back into the cabinet. "Sam?"
"You. Me. Jack."
Martin sucked in his breath at the mention of Jack's name. "I'm glad I figure into the equation somewhere." He was disappointed in himself for letting a mild edge of bitterness seep into his tone.
"I'm just trying to make the math work, Martin," Sam said sharply. "I'm not letting you off the hook that easily."
"I thought it was the other way around."
"Sorry." Sam sounded more confident now. "What are you doing? I hear noises."
Martin peered into the back of his pantry. "Scrounging for dinner."
"That makes two of us. You want to meet me somewhere?"
Martin stopped in his tracks. "Sam."
"I want to talk to you. Face to face. Get everything out in the open. I don't want this to bubble over into work. We have to figure it out."
Martin knew Sam was right.
He was better at emotional confrontation than she was, and he had to admit,
it was easier to get
some things out in person than over the phone. And besides, he had to admit, he wanted desperately to see her.
"Okay," he said.
Sam let out a sigh. "I'll come to you," she said. "Give me an hour."
Martin nodded, even though she couldn't see him. "I'll be waiting," he said quietly. "See you soon." He hung up the phone and sat down on the sofa. Every sound seemed to be magnified, from the ticking of the clock to the incessant rumble of the heater. Feeling restless, he got up and changed from work clothes into jeans and a sweater. Back in the kitchen, he opened a bottle a Sam Adams and sat back down on the sofa, waiting for Sam. The minutes ticked by, and the hour mark came and went. Feeling a little warm, Martin rolled up his sleeves and walked to the window, pushing aside the blinds. No taxi cab sat below. He stood there for nearly fifteen minutes, before turning to look at the phone. There was a lot he wasn't sure about when it came to Samantha Spade, but he did know her word was good. If she said she was on her way, she was on her way. Martin settled back down on the sofa, and flicked on the television to a news station, but his mind was only half on the broadcast.
Nearly an hour later, Samantha showed up, pizza box in hand. The aroma of sauce and cheese filled the apartment and Martin realized just how hungry he was.
"Sorry for being late," Sam said. "And I took the liberty of just getting pizza. Peppers and onions. I hope you don't mind."
"No, no, not at all. Pizza's great." Martin took the box from her. "Uh, I was getting worried." He watched as Sam shed her brown leather jacket on the sofa.
"Sorry. Phone call." Sam tucked her hair behind her ears and headed into the kitchen.
Martin put the pizza box down on the coffee table and lifted the lid, breathing in the scent deeply. In the background, he could hear Sam rummaging through his pantry. "There's beer and soda in the fridge," Martin called out. "Water too, if you want that."
"Thanks. Where are the napkins again?"
"Under the sink."
"Great. Thanks." Sam carried over paper plates, napkins and a couple of bottles of beer. "You sure this is okay?"
"Yeah." Martin glanced at her sideways. "Unless this is another way of you saying you don't want to be seen in public with me."
Sam flinched. "Nothing like that," she said, somewhat apologetically. "It was getting late and I just thought this would be quicker." She sighed softly as Martin placed a slice on her plate. "I'm sorry the pizza isn't that hot anymore." Then she smiled. "Have you ever tried to carry a pie on the subway?"
"No, can't say I have."
"I wouldn't advise it."
"Next time, let me know. I'll order."
They settled back against the sofa, their knees touching. The contact was unexpected, but on the whole, Martin wasn't unhappy. Sam seemed relaxed, more so than she had in a long time, and over pizza and beer, Martin felt some of his earlier frustration with her melt away. For the first time since they'd begun their relationship, Martin started to feel something close to hope.
After polishing off her second slice, Sam leaned forward, a crumpled napkin between her palms. "I owe you an apology, Martin," she said. "I haven't been honest about you." She offered him a crooked smile as she tilted her head to the side to look at him. "I've been pushing you away when I really should have been, well, letting in you in. I guess you already figured it out, but I'm not that good with intimacy on an emotional level." She took a deep breath. "That was a lot harder to admit than I thought it would be."
"I appreciate it though," Martin said gently.
"I'm not used to guys sticking around. Maybe that's me. Maybe I pick guys from the beginning who aren't emotionally or legally available. It saves me from having to make an emotional investment, a long-term commitment. When it feels right, I move on, no hurt feelings on either side."
"As I said before, you're different."
Martin leaned back, shifting his position so he could look at her directly. "I'm not sure how to take that."
"In a good way." She offered him a shy smile. "The reason I was late tonight, Jack called."
Martin tensed. He should have known. "And?"
"He wanted to know why he hadn't heard about us from me." Sam once again pushed her hair away from her face, a gesture Martin now recognized as one to mask any nervousness. "Wanted to know why I was hiding."
Martin couldn't help smiling. "That makes two of us."
"It's complicated, Martin."
Sam took a deep breath. "You know, with Jack, um, I guess a part of me always had hope that um, things would work out between us. I'm not necessarily sure how practical that was, but I kept holding on. Maybe it's because he's the one who walked away, not me, and I always want what I can't have. I know, I know, destructive, but that's how it's always been. And when he said he was moving to Chicago, leaving us, I thought, okay, it's over, it's really, truly over and it's time to move on." Sam pressed her hands to her face and after a moment, resumed speaking. "Now that I listen to myself, it doesn't sound particularly nice to you." She looked at him imploringly.
"No, you make me sound like a second choice, a consolation prize."
"Which is absolutely not true," Sam said firmly. "I wouldn't be here now if it were." She turned away and glanced towards the window. "Mind if I open the blinds? It's a beautiful night, clear skies, and the moon, have you seen it?"
"No. Go ahead." He watched as she raised the blinds and then turned back to him, leaning against the wall for support.
"I was also concerned what people would think about me, whether they'd think I was sleeping my way through the team," Sam said. She held up a hand, forestalling any protest on Martin's part. "I know you don't think that--"
"It's no different than people thinking I got where I am because of my father," he said.
"It is different and you know it."
"Well, if that's your career plan, I have to say, you were better off with Jack," Martin said without thinking. Sam flushed. "Sam, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that." Martin shook his head. "That was stupid. I'm sorry."
"It's okay." She inhaled sharply. "I deserved that." She twisted her hands together. "I don't want this to be the end, Martin." The directness of her comment took Martin by surprise. "That's really what I came here to tell you. We weren't getting anywhere on the phone earlier, and I just, I just need you to give me a second chance. Please."
Martin looked at the remnants of his pizza and then back at Sam. She looked oddly vulnerable standing there, long blond hair cascading over her red sweater, her arms crossed low against her chest. Martin's heart was pounding in his throat and as he stared at her and he could feel the heat rising in his face. He didn't know whether he could handle the uncertainty or Sam's emotional distance or the constant fear that he was competing with Jack Malone, but he did know he wasn't ready to walk away either. He cleared his throat, a little nervously.
"You know," Martin said, getting to his feet, "I've had a crush on you since the first time I saw you. That day I walked into the office and saw you all sitting there and I thought wow. Just, wow." He cleared his throat as he closed the distance between them. "I'm willing to give it a shot, Sam." He tipped her chin up with his fingers before lightly brushing his lips against hers. "I just need to know I'm not the only one in this relationship, that what we're doing actually means something to you, that you'll talk to me when stuff is going on."
She pressed her forehead against his. "That's what scares me," she said softly. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "That it *is* getting harder to walk away for me." She smiled slightly. "I'm not used to that, Martin."
"I know," he said, pulling her close. "We'll work on it."
"Okay," Sam said. "Okay, good."
Martin held her, and as he looked out the window, he could see the moon, full and golden, against the clear night sky. He pressed his lips to Sam's head. She was worth the risk, he decided. Definitely.
~ the end
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