Title: The Road Rolls On
Author: Lizabeth S. Tucker

Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, although I wouldn't mind putting Mark up at my place. This is a work of fan fiction and I make absolutely no profit of any kind.
Ratings and Warnings: G. Implied character death

The judge was sitting behind his desk, gently stroking the scarred gavel that had split during the last trial of the day. The court room was empty of everyone but the judge and his clerks who had come looking for him. They were watching from a safe distance, somewhat confused by the sadness on the man's face.

Finally, Francine Harper, his secretary, walked to his side, placing her hand gently on his shoulder. "Your Honor, maybe it can be repaired."

The older man continued to run his fingers over the well-worn wood, avoiding the dark split of the head. "No. No, it's lived a long, full life. I guess it's time to replace it."

Francine turned and shooed the others away. "Go on, I'll take care of him. Go home."

The four others muttered, but finally left, leaving Francine along with the judge. She sat in the witness stand, waiting for her boss to speak. When it didn't appear that he would, she began. "It's just a piece of wood."

"It was given to me when I was first made a judge. I've had it for 15 years and...I guess I never expected it to break." He looked up, his blue eyes misty with regret. "I should've taken better care of it."

"It was old when you got it, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, I think it was a gift when he first became a judge." He chuckled. "Sometime during the Dark Ages."

Francine laughed, shaking her head. "You're bad."

"Yep, I am." The judge looked at his watch and smiled. "C'mon, Frank will be waiting for you. I certainly don't want the police commissioner on my case because I kept his daughter after work."

He stepped down from his perch and walked around to meet the younger woman, draping his arm around her shoulders. He carried the broken gavel in his other hand. "I think I might see about getting it repaired."

The two old friends made their way out of the court room. "It's quite a honor, Your Honor, getting appointed to the Superior Court." She giggled when the man blushed.

"Yeah, who would've guessed?"

"Milt would've," came a pleasant voice from the hallway.

"Hey, Frank. Why don't you and Francine come to dinner at Gulls-Way? I could use the company."

"I'd like that, if my beautiful daughter doesn't have other plans."

"Nope, I love going to the estate. You both always have the most interesting stories to tell about that time."

Mark grinned. "That we do, darling, that we do."