OK. Here's the fifth one. I actually started this several weeks ago, but got stuck. Rereading it this morning brought a musebash. Good muse. I just may get to ten before Wolfie gets back. J Oh, yes. The usual disclaimers apply. Please don't sue me. I'm not making any money at this. This is only for fun. Not profit.



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"You're sure about this?" Came the whispered question.

"Absolutely. I overheard him talking about it." Was the equally quiet response.

"Did you find out how much it costs?"

"Yeah. It's expensive. Two hundred dollars."

"Ouch. Do you have that much?"

"Almost. I'm about thirty dollars shy, but I'm working on it."

"How about asking one of his friends to help out?"

"No. I want this to be just from me."

"Well, good luck, man."


The two boys parted company, walking off in opposite directions.

He'd been saving all his money for nearly a year, now. He'd planned on trying to save up for a car when he turned sixteen in another year or so, but when he'd heard his dad talking about it, he couldn't think of anything else. He knew that if his dad really wanted something, that two hundred dollars wasn't a great deal of money to him. But for a fifteen year old, it was an awful lot. But this was something he wanted to do. On his own, with money he earned himself. He only needed thirty more dollars. Where could he find a job that would earn him that much in less than a week?

"Hello, Blair?"

"Hey, Daryl. What's up?"

"I need to make some money, fast. You got any ideas?"

"How much do you need?"

"Thirty dollars. I need it this week. You know where I can earn that much?" He had no need to add the word 'legally' to his request. That was a given.

"I can let you have..."

"No. I want to earn it. You know of anybody who might have something I can do to earn it?"

"Gee. I don't know." Blair thought hard. Daryl was a good kid. Why would he need that much money? Why did he have to 'earn' it? "What do you need it for?" Stalling for time.

"Dad's birthday is Sunday. I heard him talking about this new fly rod, but it's two hundred dollars with all the extras and tax and everything. I still need thirty more dollars." Daryl explained.

Blair was impressed. Thinking hard, he came up with a possible solution. "You know computers, right?"

"Sure. What do you need to know?" Wondering what that had to do with earning money.

"Well, I have this project I'm working on. I could use some help inputting the information onto the computer. What do you say?"

"Sure. I can do that. When and where?"

"My office at the university. After school all this week?"

"You got it." Promised the enthusiastic teen.

"Simon, you need to check on your son. He hasn't been coming home after school all week. It's Thursday, and I can't help worrying about what kind of trouble he's gotten into."

Simon sighed. Why was it that whenever Joan couldn't handle Daryl, the boy suddenly became his son; but when he did good stuff, he belonged to his mother? "Have you tried talking to him?"

"He won't answer me. He's up to something. And it isn't good. I'm worried about him, Simon."

He hated when she whined. "All right. I'll talk to him. I'll let you know what I find out." When he hung up the phone, he took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, hard. The tension headache coming in full blown. The pressure points didn't help. Putting his glasses back on, he looked out into the bullpen and noticed the one person who might be able to help without alienating his son. He stood and walked to his door, opening it, he called out: "Sandburg. My office." He waited for the startled grad student to look questioningly at his partner, receive a shrug in response and walk over to him. He held the door for the younger man. Once he got the kid to sit down, nervously fidgeting, he began.

"Sandburg, I just got a call from my ex. She thinks Daryl's gotten into some kind of trouble, because he hasn't been coming home after school all week. I was hoping...what is it, Sandburg?" Noting the guilty expression on the smaller man's face.

"Uh, sorry, Simon. He's not in any trouble. He's been helping me at the university after school all week. I'm sorry. I thought he'd told someone."

"My son. Is hanging out with you. At the university. After school. Why?"

"Uh, I'm sorry, sir. It's personal, and I wouldn't feel right breaking Daryl's trust. Don't worry." He hurried to add, noting the annoyance on the bigger man's face. "It's nothing bad, and it's only for this week."

Simon sat and watched the observer, silently, for several minutes. Blair was fairly vibrating with tension. Finally, "You guarantee that he's not in any kind of trouble?"

"Yes, sir."

Sighing, "OK. I can live with that. After all, tomorrow's Friday, the end of the week. Right?"

"Absolutely, Simon. We'll be through tomorrow."

"OK. Get back to what you were doing."

"On my way." Moving quickly to escape.

"Oh, man. That was too close." Blair mumbled, returning to his chair by Jim's desk.

"What was that all about?" Jim asked when he sat back down.

"Daryl's doing some inputting for me, and he didn't tell anyone about it. He's been working after school all week. He'll be finished tomorrow, but his mom called Simon and told him she thought Daryl was in some kind of trouble."



"Why is Daryl inputting for you? For that matter, what is he inputting?"

"Oh. He needed to make some money for Simon's birthday present. It's Sunday, by the way. Joel and Mable are having a surprise party for him. I did tell you that, didn't I?"

"Yeah. Last week. So, how much does Daryl need?"

"He said he needed thirty bucks to be able to afford a new fly rod and all the accessories."

Jim's eyebrows went up and he whistled softly. "Simon showed me a rod a few weeks back. It was a beauty. But with all the accessories, it runs about two hundred dollars."

"I think that's the one. He's picking it up tomorrow after school. I'm going to pay him tonight. He's done a good job."

"What exactly is this 'job' he's been doing?"

"Oh, It's my gift for Simon. It's a disk with all kinds of pictures and sound clips and stuff. Mostly the guys around here, pics of Daryl. He can use it as a screen saver on his PC. No, I'm not going to load it on for him." He hurried on to say.

Jim chuckled. "OK. How are they getting him to the Taggart's?"

Blair chuckled, glancing back at the closed door of the Captain's office. "Mable, pretending not to know that it was his birthday, has asked him over to help Joel clear out some brush in their back yard."

Jim laughed. "Good one. What time are we supposed to be there?"


"Hi, Daryl." Blair greeted the teen when he arrived.

"Hi, Blair. What's on for today?"

"A couple of things. First, why didn't you tell your Mom what you were doing after school this week? She called your Dad, worried about you. Second, do you think you can finish loading the rest of the stuff on that disk today? And, finally, it's payday, man." Smiling and holding out the promised thirty dollars.

"Oh, man. Thanks. This is so cool." Looking down at the money. Then, he looked up, "I didn't want my mom telling me I couldn't do this for my Dad. Yes, I'll be able to finish up loading the disk today, there's really only about an hour's worth of work and the disk will be done. Dad's going to love it." He grinned at Blair, suddenly realizing he was no longer looking up at the older man. Knowing perfectly well that this had only been busywork to allow him to feel he had worked for the gift he wanted to give his Dad.

"Oh, yeah. I guess I can understand you not telling your mother, but next time, let her know at least who you're with, so she won't worry so much, OK?"

"OK. And, thanks, Blair."

"You're welcome."

Sunday's surprise party was a rousing success. Mable had gone out of her way to contact some of Simon's relatives who lived in the area, and they had agreed to come. Daryl had come with Jim and Blair, after they explained where Daryl had been after school all that week, and why. Daryl was surprised when his Mom wasn't as angry as he expected her to be.

When Simon got there, he was dumbfounded at the party. Shaking his head, ruefully, he said: "When Mable asked me to come over and help Joel in the garden I should have known that something was up. Thanks everyone."

There was good food, good fun, good company. There were many tales told of Simon's past exploits, both by his coworkers, and his relatives. Later in the afternoon, they sat down for him to open his gifts. From Jim, he received some fly tying equipment. The disk from Blair was looked at critically, until Daryl informed him that he had done the loading of the files on it. He even offered to show him how to put it on his PC at work.

There was absolute silence when, after all the other gifts had been opened and discussed and laughed at, Daryl entered the room with a large box. Simon looked at his son in surprise.

"What's this?"

"My present to you." Shyly.

Simon stared at his son, for a few minutes. Then carefully opened the box. The first thing he saw, was a new tackle box. One with compartments for a hundred flies. Some of the compartments were already filled. He stared at the box and its contents, then looked at his son.

"This is wonderful." He said softly. There was absolute silence. The story had circulated about how Daryl had earned the money for his father's gift himself, and Simon had heard it.

"There's more." Daryl whispered.

Simon dug deeper through the styrofoam peanuts and found another, smaller box. He pulled it out. It was a lucite case, with a spinning reel in it. Simon stared in shock. Instantly digging through the rest of the packing material, he found the leather case with the rod in it. Pulling it out and reverently opening the case and removing the sections of the fine bamboo rod. He stared. First at the fishing equipment, then at his son. He carefully set the items down, out of harm's way, stood up and opened his arms to embrace his son.

Holding each other tightly, Simon softly spoke for only his son to hear. "You earned the money for this all by yourself? That's what I've been hearing."

Daryl nodded. "It was important to me to earn the money."

"Thank you, son. This is the best present ever. Not because it's so expensive, but because it's from you; and you earned all the money yourself. You're growing up and I am so proud of you and your maturity." He hugged harder. "I love you, son. And I love the mature young man you're turning into. Thank you."

When they released each other, there were tears in both their eyes. Daryl had given his father a gift, but had received just as important a gift in return. He had not only pleased his father with the tangible present, but with his actions, as well.

They were oblivious to the presence of the other people there, seeing only each other and the love they felt for one another. Simon put his arm around his son's shoulders and finally addressed his friends.

"Can you believe this kid? He earned every cent for this on his own. Is he terrific, or what?" Which public praise from his father lifted his son even higher in his euphoria.

Simon drove his son home after the party. They rode in companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts. The proud father of the mature and responsible son. The son who had increased his own self-esteem with his father's pride in him. Growing up just a little more. Maturing through taking responsibility, which pleased both father and son, and would only serve to bring them closer together.

Five. Half way there, and it's still early Wednesday. I just might make it, yet. Heeheeheeheehee.

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