To Know Us. . .

by Jaz

Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me and no profit is being made.

Author's Note: This is a completely tongue-in-cheek spoof for the Gull's Way challenge of a story on the unaired script Love, Pain and All That Stuff, written by the truly wonderful Carol Mendelsohn, who provided us with both the amazing episodes If You Could See What I See and Chip Off the 'Ol Milt. I have nothing but respect for her, and I appreciate her sharing the script with us. My sincerest apologies if this is offensive in any way, for it is meant only with a light heart.

~0~

Mark McCormick tromped into the den and unceremoniously dropped the two-inch thick file folder onto Hardcastle's desk. "Who writes this stuff?" he demanded.

Hardcastle glanced up from the newly deposited file to McCormick's irate face. "What's this? The Marshall file?"

"No, Judge, it's not the Marshall file. It's the script for this week's episode. Have you read it yet?" Mark refused to sit, shifting back and forth agitatedly alongside the desk edge.

The judge's eyes narrowed. "Yeah, I read it," he said huffily. "What's wrong with it?"

Mark stopped pacing long enough to stare at the retired jurist. "You're kidding me, right?" he asked, shaking his head. "Who wrote it? I mean, has she ever even watched the show?"

"Of course she's watched it," the older man fired back. "She's one of the regulars. Carol Something-or-other."

This was apparently a shock to the ex-con, as his jaw nearly hit the desk. "You're joking. No way. She's written some of our best stuff! She's the one who makes us deal with all that relationship crap, right? There's no way she's responsible for this!" He sank into the nearby armchair, running a restless hand through his unruly curls.

Milt opened the file and leafed idly through the pages. "So what's so bad about it?" he asked again. "I thought it was okay."

"Ju-udge," McCormick whined. "It's nothing like us. Not even a little bit. I mean, she's got you involved in some hot and heavy romance, while I sit around on the sidelines? Get real!"

"Hey!" Hardcastle complained, affronted. "It could happen!"

"Oh, yeah. That's rich, coming from you. Three years we've been doing this, and have you even once managed to hook up with a woman?"

"There was Aggie," Hardcastle argued.

"Aggie Wainwright? Now there's a good example. An extremely attractive woman who's independent, fun and loves the Lakers, and I practically had to force you to give her the time of day! Try again, Hardcase."

The judge thought for a moment, drumming his fingers on the desktop. "Okay, well, there was Jane Bigelow," he offered, confident this would prove his point.

"Uh-uh. Doesn't count. You started up with her when you were young and single. And later on, you couldn't even finish things up – you let her ride off into the sunset and we never heard from her again." McCormick placed his elbows on the armrests and steepled his fingers in front of him. "Next?"

The silence lasted considerably longer this time, but Milt persisted. His face broke into a knowing grin. "Sheila Rooney!" he said, snapping his fingers.

"Hah!" McCormick barked out a laugh. "You mean the one who was presiding over the Van Zandt case? The one you waited four months to get a date with, and when you finally succeeded, you invited me and Gerald to tag along? I don't think so. Face it, Judge, this is just not you. I mean, she's got you knocking up some hot young thing!" McCormick shook his head emphatically. "Do you really see that happening? You, the guy who fell in love with his wife's pink ears at a church picnic? The guy who said 'back in your day you had to ask 'em to marry you first'? All of a sudden we're supposed to believe you're out doing the horizontal mambo with some woman you've only known for a few weeks?" Mark leaned forward, staring intently at the other man's face. "Not happening, Judge. At least, not with the Milton C. Hardcastle we all know and have come to love."

Hardcastle rested his elbow on the desk, placing his chin in the palm of his raised hand. He sighed, hating to admit it, but seeing no option. "Yeah, kiddo, I guess you're right. Nobody'd believe that one in a million years."

"Damn straight," McCormick agreed. He softened. "Not that it's a bad thing, Judge. You've just got more honor than that. Kind of makes you. . . "

"Noble?" the judge supplied, a hopeful look on his face.

"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Mark prevaricated. He rubbed his hands together, leaning forward in the chair. "And on top of that abomination, then we're supposed to get into a fistfight, and she's gonna have you toss me out on my kiester? After the way I laid it all on the line for you in that rather amazing prison breakout up in Canary Creek? Nice way to pay a guy back." Mark shook his head, looking miffed.

"Hey, that's not my fault!" Hardcastle protested. "You know I wouldn't do that to ya!"

Mark threw both his hands in the air as he stood up. "Well, that's my point, Hardcastle! We shouldn't have to do this one, you know? It's just not – well, it's just not us. I'm not buying it." He looked Milt directly in the eye. "So what do you say?"

Hardcastle looked momentarily baffled. "What do I say about what?"

"I'm boycotting this episode. Just refusing to do it. You with me?" Mark waited, hoping that for once the Lone Ranger would follow Tonto's lead.

Hardcastle blew out a breath, placing his hands in front of him and pushing himself to a standing position. He walked around the side of the desk. "Of course, I'm with you, kiddo," he replied, laying a hand on the younger man's shoulder and using it to steer him towards the kitchen. "Where else would I be?"

Mark nodded, pleased with the answer. "Good. We got any leftover pizza?"

"There's never any leftovers with you around," Milt observed. "But you know, McCormick, there's one other thing that was unrealistic with this script that you forgot to mention."

"Yeah? What?"

The jurist smiled. "The fact that you were right and I was wrong."