Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Night Court. I do own Margarita Diaz-Garza. Dan is OOC.

Dan's Old Friend

Dockets were moving in and out of Judge Harry T. Stone's courtroom at a steady pace; the usual cases were tried. Dan Fielding and the rest of the crew were use to the routine. He had just successfully prosecuted a petty thief when he heard Mac call out the next case: "People vs. Margarita Diaz-Garza".

Dan looked up from his table/desk and saw the 5'5" Latina in a skimpy skirt and high heels being escorted by Bull. 'It can't be…' Dan thought. She turned to him and quickly spun away. He noticed that her face was flush.

"Ok," Judge Stone started. "Mrs. Diaz, you are accused of prostitution, how do you plead?"

"No contest."

"Your honor," Dan interrupted. "May I have a word with you?"

"Approach the bench." Dan and Christine both went up to face their boss/friend. "What is it Dan? You have a history with this one?"

"Yes and no. I went to high school with her, but we never had relations."

"So," Christine injected.

"She was a very close friend. I wanted to be her boyfriend, but there was another man."

"Wow, how can anyone refuse the Great Dan Fielding?"

"So what do you suggest I do," Judge Stone replied. "I don't have another prosecutor on hand right now."

"I know she's a good person, please let her off. She has no record, this is her first offense."

"People change Dan, and it's not fair to the other prostitutes that come through here," Sullivan said angrily. "I'm surprised you don't know more of them."

"Well, for first offenders I do usually give them a break." Harry could tell by the expression on Dan's face that he really cared for the woman. "So ordered. Mrs. Diaz, upon the circumstances you are free to go, but don't go soliciting yourself on the streets again, ok?" She nodded. "Court is now in recess."

Before Margarita could leave the courtroom Dan caught up to her. "Hi," he said rather shyly. "You remembered me?"

"Who could forget a face like yours?" They both laughed. "Why did you do this for me?"

"Because I know you're better than this. You were a good girl in high school. I would like to talk with you, catch up."

"I'm sorry, but I need to go out and make my money, and try not to get screwed over again."

"I'll pay you."

"Are you sure that's it? I know your reputation; girls like me kiss and tell."

"I swear Margarita, I really need to talk."

"Fine, but at your place, you wouldn't want to be seen in the Bronx."

Dan took Margarita to his apartment and poured some shots of tequila at the bar. She smiled; surprised that he remembered what liquor she liked. He led her to the bedroom, where she sat on the bed and started taking her red blouse off. Dan put a firm hand on her arm.

"Stop sweetie, I told you all I wanted was to catch up."

"I'm sorry," she realized, fixing her shirt and putting long black hair into a chongo. "I'm just use to getting jerked around, and I figured you changed, what with your womanizing ways."

"Yes it's true that I partake in the sins of the flesh, but you're not just any woman. You're the first woman I loved." She blushed, almost the verge of tears. "Now that we're together again, I would like to start a relationship."

"You don't want me, I'm damaged goods. And besides, if you loved me so much how come you didn't try anything in the past."

"I was too reluctant to ask you out, and then Ricardo beat me to it. I'm no home-wreaker. Plus, you looked so in love with him."

"We were, but it was my fault that our marriage failed."

"How?" Dan saw a slight stream running down her check, and he wiped it away. He stared in her hazel eyes for reassurance. "Tell me what you've been through."

"I don't know where to start. It's a story full of stupid mistakes. First, I got pregnant on prom night." Dan's expression turned to solemn surprise. "I forgot to take a couple of birth control pills; I didn't go to college because of it. After I wed Ricardo and Diego was born I decided get a paralegal certificate, and I was fortunate to work at a good firm in Manhattan. But, I lost that job because I would argue with the partners when I believed they were wrong. I'm the one that was stupid, they're the ones who went to law school; I just do research and study what I can on the side."

"It's ok," Dan said affectionately, pulling her into a one-armed hug. "What else sweetie?"

"From the beginning of our marriage I put Ricardo through hell. I had violent mood swings, almost as if I had bipolar disorder, and sometimes I couldn't control my actions: I would scream, throw things, and hit him. Of course, him being stronger than me, he would stop me, holding me down until I calmed down. Diego saw me in one of those moods only once, and I have never forgiven myself for it. One day Ricardo said he had enough, filed for divorce, and was granted custody of my only child; then they moved to Texas. I miss them so much!"

Margarita sobbed, shaking in Dan's arms. He kissed her lightly on the forehead and held her tighter. While he caressed her back she regained control of herself.

"I don't know what to do Dan," she continued. "Because I was fired at that firm it was hard for me to find another office job, so now I turn tricks. From the day I started to now I feel disgusted with myself, ugly, worthless. I don't want to put another man through what I put Ricardo through; I don't want to start something only for it to end because of my absent-mindedness. I love you too Dan, enough to tell you to stay away."

"Don't say that."

"Sometimes I feel like killing myself, but I am too afraid to die, because I don't like physical pain. But I am in mental pain every day, because of the fact that I screwed up my life. I don't mean to be this way; I don't know what to do. I have no family or friends."

"I'll tell you what you're going to do." Dan had a firm grip on her shoulders and put his face inches from hers. "You are not going to kill yourself; I wouldn't be able to live with myself if you did that. I am here if you ever need help: if you need someone to talk to, if you need money for rent or food, if you get yourself in trouble, I'll be here."

Margarita slumped to the bed and cried, covering her face so Dan wouldn't see her imperfections. He took her in his arms again, moving her soft hands so he could kiss her salty checks. Something insider her made her lean forward and give Dan a beso, on the lips. Dan longed to go further into the kiss, but he backed off, holding her hands in his.

"I want to respect your decision to not get into a relationship. I don't want to push you into something you aren't ready for, or something you don't want."

"I'm so stupid, I'm sorry; I should not have put you in this position. I'll just go."

"No, stay the night. It's late and I don't want anything to happen to you. I'll feed you and give you money in the morning." Dan got up to make a bed on the couch, but before leaving her he pecked her on the forehead again. "I don't know if I'll happen to find someone, but if I'm free when you're ready, then I'm all yours."