Author Notes: Re-introducing a character first mentioned in my responses to Challenges #68 Outsiders View and #70 Dares.
“Who’s the fox with your Dad, D?” Daryl’s friend Leroy asked as they sat with their backs against the tree in Simon’s back yard.
Daryl looked over to where his Dad was overseeing the barbeque and talking to Jim Ellison. Standing close beside him was the lady his dad had been seeing for the past seven months.
“That’s Mary, she and my dad met when she covered for his secretary while she was on vacation a few months ago.” Daryl took a swig from his soda bottle. “She’s okay.”
“She’s a fox, D. What’s she doing with an old man like your Dad?”
“He’s not that old.”
“In years maybe, but look at him. Those glasses are about ten years out of style and the clothes…”
“Yeah, well, it was the cause of a few arguments before my folks split up.”
“You want to tell him he’ll never keep a foxy lady like her if he doesn’t get more with it.”
Hours later everyone had gone except Jim, Blair and Mary who were helping Simon clear everything away.
For the sake of his friendship with Simon, Jim had made the effort to get to know Mary and he found that he liked her a lot. Blair had manfully held back on his ‘told you so’ and once in a while they all got together for a meal or, like tonight, a barbeque. Jim and Blair had never come out and said they were together; Simon’s edict of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ being followed to the letter, but it was obvious to the experienced eye that a new level of intimacy had been reached between them.
“Here’s the last plate, Dad.” Daryl handed the plate to Simon who loaded it into the dishwasher.
“Thanks Daryl. Did your friend enjoy himself?”
“I think so. He thinks Mary’s a fox.” Daryl grinned mischievously at Mary, who blushed and laughed.
Daryl liked Mary a lot. He hadn’t been too sure of her at first when Simon had first introduced her three months after they’d started dating. His dad hadn’t ever introduced Daryl to any of the women he’d met since the divorce and Daryl had wondered if his relationship with his father would change.
In some ways it had, but only for the better. Once Daryl had been assured by Mary that she wasn’t trying to take his mothers place, and as he’d got to know her, he realised how good Mary was for his dad.
She seemed to understand his dad better than his Mom in some ways. Maybe that was her military upbringing; she understood about duty and that there were times when his dad would have to do his job even if it meant letting her down.
That didn’t mean she was a pushover though. Daryl had been witness to a couple of arguments between them and she stood up to his dad and gave as good as she got.
“Well, I think so too.” Simon pulled Mary into his side and kissed her cheek, causing her blush to deepen.
“He also wondered what she was doing with an old man like you, though.”
“Hey! I’m not old!”
“I’m only repeating what he said, Dad, don’t shoot the messenger.”
“I don’t think your dad’s old, Daryl, so it doesn’t matter what your friend thinks.” Mary wrapped her arm round Simon’s waist and squeezed slightly.
“Well he has a point.” Daryl looked at Simon critically. “You could get with it a bit more.” He turned to Blair for support. “Don’t you think so Blair?”
“You’re asking him? The Flannel King?” Jim ruffled Blair’s curls playfully.
“He’s at Rainier, he knows what the latest styles are.”
“As much as I hate to agree with Jim, Daryl, I go for comfort, not style.” Blair dug his elbow into Jim’s ribs in retaliation.
“Well what about you Mary? You always look good, even if you are almost as old as Dad.”
“Daryl! We raised you to be polite to your elders. Apologise to Mary.”
“That’s okay, Daryl. I understand you were complimenting me, despite what your dad thought.” She took pity on his embarrassment and turned to Simon, looking him up and down critically.
Simon bore her scrutiny, his heart sinking. Maybe this was the beginning of the end. He remembered countless arguments with Joan but he was too set in his ways to start changing now.
“Nope, sorry Daryl, can’t see anything wrong with your Dad’s clothes.” Mary happened to like the way Simon dressed casually in polo shirts and chinos. She also liked his suits.
“Oh man, I’m surrounded by the un-cool.”
Later that evening when Jim and Blair were gone and Daryl was in bed, Simon sat on the sofa with Mary snuggled under his arm, sipping a glass of wine.
“I’m sorry about what Daryl said earlier.” He said, kissing the top of the dark head under his chin.
“Oh Simon, I may not have children of my own, but I think you and Joan have raised a very fine young man. He’s young, he’ll learn tact in time.”
“So.” He took a sip of wine. “You like me just the way I am? You wouldn’t change anything about me?”
Mary smiled into her glass; she knew when someone was fishing for compliments.
“What? Come on, tell me?”
She placed her glass on the table in front of them and turned to look at him.
"Just a small change."
“Well, I think the glasses.”
“I’ve only had these a year.” He frowned threateningly but he’d never yet succeeded in intimidating her.
“I know, and they’re fine, only…”
“They do some very nice rimless ones nowadays, and they wouldn’t hide your beautiful eyes.”
“Hmph.” Simon didn’t really know what to say to that. “I’ll think about it.”
“Well, whatever you decide, it won’t change how I feel about you.”
Two weeks later
“Hi Rhonda, what sort of mood is Simon in today?” Blair perched on the end of her desk and wiggled his eyebrows.
“Budgets again, Blair, so his temper’s a bit…” Rhonda waggled her hand back and forth in a so-so gesture.
“Think I could interrupt him?”
“When has a closed door ever stopped you before?” She asked dryly and waved him towards Simon’s door.Blair grinned and knocked on the door before going in without waiting for permission.
“Sandburg! What do you want?” Simon threw down his pen and looked up, scowling. If he was honest, he welcomed the interruption, but he wasn’t going to admit that to Sandburg, of all people.
“Jim and I wondered if you wanted to go for a drink after work tonight? It’s Friday, we’ve got the weekend off…”
“Can’t. It’s my turn for Daryl this weekend. I’m picking him up and we’re going bowling.”
Blair nodded, noticing that there was a subtle difference about Simon today; he just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Okay, tell him I’ve got that game he was after for his Play station, I had a book one of my TA’s wanted so we swapped.”
“How much do I owe you?” Simon reached for his wallet.
“No problem, man. Jim’s said he wants to have a go at it when Daryl’s finished with it.”
“How the hell did you get him interested in computer games?”
“You really want to know?” Blair grinned.
“No. Get out of here, Sandburg.”
Blair threw himself into his chair beside Jim and switched on his screen. Just as he was about to log on it suddenly clicked with him what was different about Simon.
“Forgot them, Chief?”
“No. Simon! That’s what was different about him! He’s got new glasses!”
“Well don’t say anything to him about them, he’s a little unsure about them.”
“Did he finally give in to Daryl?”
Jim shook his head, looking a bit sheepish.
“Jim!” Blair leaned close in a conspiratal manner. “Were you eavesdropping?”
“Come on, give.”
“It was Mary who persuaded him to change his glasses.”
“Let’s just say it wasn’t the kind of conversation you should ever hear your boss having with his lady friend.”
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