A/N: Another entry from Mark McCormick's diary. Milt's response, transcribed by Rowena Warner, is called "'Success' is a Seven-Letter Word…So is 'Friends'".

The Price of Success

By Mark McCormick

(as found by Lizabeth S. Tucker)

I was thinking last night (no smart remarks form the Peanut Gallery, Judge. I know you're snooping through my stuff when I'm not home.) about what's gonna happen now that we're so involved in other things. You know…my going to law school, you teaching there. We see each other more often on campus than we do at home, what with the late hours I'm keeping at the library and studying in the Gatehouse. To tell you the truth, I'm lonely. I miss the ol' bastard yelling at me for things I haven't done, and stuff he only suspects me of doing.

I'm beginning to regret the decision to go full-time. I'm studying my head off, scared that I'm gonna screw up and fail. That'd be an awful waste of the Judge's money, as well as a real disappointment to him. He'd really start yelling then.

Nah, that's not true, not if I do my best. It's just that I'm beginning to wonder if it is worth it. I don't have a personal life at all. I'm in class, in the library, or in bed. I can catch a few minutes with Hardcase in the halls before my next class, but we can't even have lunch together. He's got a class then. And when he's free for lunch, I'm in Torts. We can't even drive in together. My first class is at 7 a.m.; his is at 8 a.m. Then, when my final class is over for the day, I have to head for the library to hit the books, and Hardcastle heads for home. I catch some warmed-over dinner when I get in, and the Judge is either grading papers or preparing for the next day's lecture. We saw more of each other the two times I moved out of Gull's-Way.

I'm almost ready to junk it all. Except for the Judge. I can still remember the look on his face when I told him about my law classes… For the first time in our lives together, he was proud of me, respected me. I can't lose that. I've screwed up most of my life, one way or another. Relationships came and went, most not worth an attempt to save – whether with a friend or a lover. I know I'm basically a loser, but I'm trying to change all that. I hope I can.

I'm just not sure if the loss of Hardcastle's companionship is worth it. But then again, if I don't stay with this, I might not have it anyway.

Catch-22.

/Originally printed in Back to Back Supplement #4/