Originally posted to sentinelangst. No warnings or spoilers that I can think of.

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One Cold Night
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Jim tilted his head and glanced at Simon. "I still don't like this, sir."

"With the leak about our undercover detectives, he's the only one who's face we can be reasonably sure they won't recognize, and he looks the part. Odds are, it won't even happen tonight." Simon adjusted the small earphone. "Now, quiet, Ellison, so I can listen."

"Oh, yeah, I can feel it! I got this itchy-gitchy feeling that they're gonna do it. The Mariners are gonna win. They didn't make it last time, but Fuentes has really brought this team around this year. Oh yeah.... Hey, you got the time?"

"Excuse me?"

"The time. What time is it?"

"Oh. Three-thirty."

"This is gonna be one helluva game. The Padres better watch out for Fuentes because he's gonna massacre them. That's right. I just got this itchy-gitchy feeling that that's what's gonna happen.... What time is it?"

"The time?"

"Yeah."

"Three-thirty one."

"Thanks, man."

"Don't mention it."

"You look glum. Somethin' wrong, man? You don't like the Mariners? 'Cause the Mariners are gonna win. Yeah, they're gonna knock them Padres right out of the stadium! You just mark my words. Come Sunday, the Mariner's are gonna kick some Padre butt!"

"I like the Mariners."

"Really? I woulda never figurrred someone dressed in a suit like yours to care much about baseball. You look more like one of them stuffy business folks."

"Could you leave me alone, please?"

"How 'come someone like you is standing out here on this bridge in the cold?"

"It's a free country."

"It sure as hell is. Hey, man. Listen. The radio says the Mariners are gonna win! Yeah, I knew I was right."

"Really? You think the Mariners are gonna win the game?"

"Yeah! I know my itchy-gitchy feeling is right. You want the Mariners to win? They gonna kick them Padres to China!"

"That might be the one bright moment of my life."

"Oh, I know what you mean, man. Boy, do I hear you! So, what are you doin' standin' out here in the cold night, Mr. Suit Man?"

"Don't you have somewhere to go?"

"Yeah. I go everywhere. Anywhere I want to."

"Great. Why don't you go somewhere else?"

"Hey, hey, Mr. Suit Man. You ain't gotta be rude."

"I ain't gotta be nothing, so leave me alone."

"Nope. Not 'til you tell me why you're so glummie. I just got this itchy-gitchy feeling that you need a friend. I'll be your friend, Mr. Suit Man."

"I don't need anymore friends."

"Wutch ya mean, man?"

"Nothing. Nevermind."

"Nobody mentions nothin' they don't wanna talk about. And I got plenty of time to talk, man."

"Don't you sleep? It's kind of late, if you haven't noticed."

"Don't YOU sleep, Mr. Suit Man?"

"Not lately."

"So, why you out here this late? It can be bad for people like you to be dawdling around here at night."

"Here. Do you want some money? Take it and leave. Take the whole damn wallet if you like."

"Hey! Thanks a lot man, but I'm good."

"You can have it all. Here."

"Awwww! I ain't seen a hundred dollar bill in a long time, much less three of 'em in the same place. What's going on, Mr. Suit Man? I ain't never had nobody give me this much money."

"Consider this your lucky night. Now take it and leave before I change my mind."

"Change your mind? Do you want to change your mind, man?"

"No."

"Well, if I was you, I'd think about changing my mind. Seems to me that someone like you, with this kinda green, wouldn't want to throw it away."

"I'm not throwing it away. I'm giving it away. And what I do with my money is my business."

"Oh, well, that's true most of the time, I suppose, but it seems to me it depends on how you use it whether or not it's your business. You know, people do things they think they have every right to, neverminding how they make other folks feel by doin' 'em."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Hey, man, are you gonna watch the game?"

"Uh.... I don't think so. I have somewhere to go."

"Hey, a Suit Man like you must have one of them VCRs. I sure wish I could see it! You gonna VCR the game?"

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"I...don't think I'll get the chance to watch the tape."

"Well, I sure'd like to see it."

"You got the damn wallet right there. You can go see the game if you'd like."

"Hey! Wouldn't that just be gitchy-glitchy! We could both go!"

"I don't think so."

"Hey, Mr. Suit Man, don't you wanna see the Mariners?"

"They've always been my favorites."

"So, why you don't wanna go?"

"I told you I have somewhere to go."

"Hey man, is this your wife? Sure is a pretty picture."

"Take the money and give me the wallet."

"You said I could take the wallet, man."

"I changed my mind."

"Really! Well, here ya go, then. She sure is pretty. Ain't she worried about you being out here this time a night?"

"No. I'm sure she could care less. Listen, are you ever going to leave, or do I have to throw you over this damn bridge? Here's the money. Now go!"

"Hey, man, a wife gotta care about her man."

"She's my ex-wife. I got the papers a month ago."

"Awww, hey, man, that's sour. That is just too bad."

"Will you go away, now?"

"Why'd she leave you?"

"None of your goddamned business. Now, leave me alone!"

"Any kids?"

"One. A girl. My ex-wife took her."

"You got a picture of her?"

"At home."

"Hey, man, I sure wish I had myself a family. I'd like to get me some kids. Have some little ones like me to love. You know, kids are great! They love you no matter what, even when they pretend not to."

"And how do you know so much?"

"I don't know anything, man. I'm just babblin'."

"No argument there."

"So, how old's your little girl?"

"Six."

"I bet she sure is happy to have herself a daddy like you! Some kids ain't ever had a daddy. I never had myself one. Sure wish I did, though. Every kid needs a daddy...and a mommy, too."

"Thank you, Dan Quayle."

"Who?"

"Nobody. Nevermind. Anyway, my ex seems to be taking care of her just fine. They don't need me, except for alimony maybe. That's all I was ever worth to my ex. Not that she needs the money. She just WANTS the money. Want. Want. Want. That's all I ever heard from her!"

"Hey, man, I bet that's gonna be one helluva game Sunday! Too bad you're plannin' on missin' it. If I was you, I sure as hell'd be there. Ain't no way I'd miss a chance to see the Mariners kick them Padres all the way back home!"

"Well, you're not me."

"Yep, that's true all right. I ain't nobody but myself."

"How profound.'

"Hey, man, when do you get to see your little girl?"

"Weekends."

"You should take her to the game, man. That would be itchy-glitchy!"

"What are you, senile? I told you I have someplace to go."

"Ohhhh, hey, man. You gonna go someplace on the day you gits to see your little girl? Seems to me since you only sees her two days a week, you'd wanna spend a lot of nice time with her. Make her happy. I bet she'll be all sad that you went away and left her.... Hey, man, what's wrong? You cryin'?"

"No. The wind makes my eyes water."

"Here, man, why don't you take your money back? Maybe I'll see you at the game."

"You're giving me all my money?"

"Yep. Some things is more important than money, and a daddy spendin' time with his little girl is one of them."

"I have more money. You keep that."

"You gonna go to the game on Sunday?"

"Yeah.... I guess so. Amy would like that, I'm sure."

"Is that your little girl's name?"

"Yeah."

"Sure is pretty. Here, you take this money and buy her something nice."

"T-Thanks."

"Well, guess I'll be going, now. How 'bout you?"

"No sense in hanging around here. I'll catch my death in this weather."

"Yeah, but, man, it sure is a pretty view out there. See all them lights!"

"Yeah, it sure is beautiful."

~~~~

Jim and Simon sat in stunned silence as the curly-headed figure walked slowly off the bridge and veered to the vehicle.

Opening their doors, the two men stepped out into the cold night as Sandburg came to a stop and looked up at them, a small smile on his face.

"Hey guys. Sorry the bad guys didn't show."

Jim shook his head and slipped out of his jacket, draping it over the shivering young man. "You never cease to amaze me, Chief," he said softly.

"That was something else, Sandburg." Simon patted Blair's shoulder. "Where'd you learn how to do that?"

Blair smiled bashfully and shrugged, wrapping Jim's jacket tightly around himself. "Thanks."

"So?" Simon prompted. "How'd you do that?"

Blair's smile turned melancholy, and he gazed off at a distant point. "I've been around the block more times than you guys realize. Now, let's go home. I'm freezing."

~~~

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