NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Characters, etc, property of the people behind Homicide: Life on the Street and L&O: SVU. No profit ever. Never give up, never surrender. For Mosca. Thanks to tigs, Dine, Circusgirl and karabair.


"Fucking shit." Another mook, another tired pissant petty criminal swearing.

Munch says, "Fucking shit. When did profanity become so commonplace? Profanity should be profane. Shocking. Do you understand this?" He tightens the cuffs. "I worked with masters of profanity. I worked with Stanley Bolander. That name means nothing to you, I know. But that was a master of profanity. He made shit sing." Munch sighs. "But you do not. Fucking shit, my ass. Say something truly profane. Tell me in America a hard day's work does not equal a hard day's pay. Tell me you worship Satan and don't want any filthy lucre at all. Try something truly profane."

And it's another day.

His partner is new. Since Fin transferred up, his partner is always new. This one has the picturesque name of Collette Newmarket. She's a lesbian. She told him the first hour. She says to him, "You talk a lot about your old partners. I mean, lately. In the past week. You didn't the first week."

"You make me miss Stanley," he says. She makes him miss Frank Pembleton. He misses Fin. He's old and tired. Simplest to say, he misses everything.

He misses Kay.

He dreams of Druid Hill and Pembleton stands on a stoop in his dress blues and three hearses drive by. Someone sells him a hot dog and says, "New York City is where everyone belongs." He sees himself laughing and dancing naked while Pembleton salutes and salutes.

He calls that one a nightmare.

Munch has a big birthday coming up. One that ends in zero. Collette Newmarket asks him if he'll be having a party. He tells her he'd prefer not. She doesn't like him enough to give him one, so he's safe from that farce. She'll tell Benson and the rest won't even try to offer him a drink. He hopes. He thinks if he were having a party, he'd invite Kay. Kay wouldn't come, of course. He's had wives and girlfriends and now in what is surely the twilight of his life; he's decided he wants Kay.

He could make a gesture. A grand romantic gesture as he reenters her life, descending from New York, ascending from his pathetic lost life to reach for her perfect white hand. She would throw back her hair and stamp on his flowers and kick him right back to his gutter. Maybe that was what the dream was about.

Instead she comes to him. Mired in his reveries, she shows up with no call, sitting at his tiny desk, one day she is waiting for him. Like he called to her but he can't believe that because he's thought about her for days and days before and she never showed. He says, "Kay." And adds, "Sergeant Howard."

"Not Sergeant anymore." She stands up, smiles and hands him a card.

"FBI? Missing Persons?" His hands want to flutter so he shoves them in his pockets. Her card crumples and jabs his finger. FBI paper is strong paper. "You need me for a case? You're up from Baltimore to ask me about someone?" He sounds so hopeful he hates himself.

"Already finished that part, Munch. I'm here for you to take me out to lunch. Your treat," she says with a sly smile. Of course he will. Of course.

He worries that their conversation will be stumbling and full of awkward pauses. Instead it flows like wine. She tells him about her cases, great long stories where she rolls her eyes and pushes her hair back behind her ears. He has his own stories and before he knows it, it's been a two hour lunch and he doesn't know anything about her except she's still a good cop. "How'd you end up with the FBI, Kay?"

"Recruited," she says. Her eyes on him, considering, intelligent. Like always. He misses her looks.

He says, "Sterlings. Did you ever go to Sterlings, do you go there now? That was a great restaurant."

"Still is," she says. "Typical Munch. You're in New York City and all you want is Baltimore."

"I want decent crab," he says, staggered. "Are you seeing someone? Is there someone --"

She shakes her head, and then says, "Thanks for lunch." She pats his arm and leaves the restaurant.


She came to see him, he thinks. Two days ago, she came to see him and sat at his desk. She was thinking of him, she knew where he worked, she was in New York. He's decided. And then she comes. He is pathetic. He says to Collette Newmarket, "How do you woo a woman? What do you do these days, burn a CD? Download appropriate music that communicates your longing and send it to them? Flowers? Chocolates?"

"I don't call it wooing." She snorts. "Is this about that redhead? The one who checked out your entire desk?"

"Yes." He finds Collette Newmarket extremely tiresome. Fin wouldn't ask these questions. He would simply answer. Munch sighs at his age. He's already so old he's adding a sepia tone to everything. Fin would answer with teasing. But he would answer, and Munch would have an idea of what to do.

"You want to go out with her?"

"Isn't that obvious? I do. I have for years. For years, do you understand that? But now my longing has eclipsed my sense and I will act."

She scoots in her seat, like she wants to be away from him. "I understand, I understand."

"Do you? It's that feeling of seeing her walk in the office with her hair down and her shirt buttoned up to her neck and the way she looks at you, the intelligence in her eyes. I am not one of those men who thinks a dumb woman is a sexy woman, you understand that, Collette?"

She says, "I get it. But, like, do you know her? Really know her?"

"I know her. She was shot by my side," and he pauses because he thinks of Stanley and Beau and Kay. "Blood on my shoes. We shared years of working together, Baltimore Homicide, the elite. I saw her losses and her victories and we shared these things. She came to see me."

"She completes you, I get it. So why are you here and not there?" She sighs. Tired of the ramblings of an old man who she doesn't respect. Munch knows.

"My city was in ruins, my comrades in arms scattered, my livelihood broken. I came to New York. At the very least, I could be a cop. She was already gone."

"From New York?"

"From Homicide, Newmarket." Kids today, he thinks.


He calls her. "Special Agent Howard," he says.

"Detective Munch. Is this a work call?" She sounds like she's smiling. As much as Munch can guess. He never spoke to her much on the phone when they were in Baltimore, but he saw her on the phone, her hair like a sheet and her hands in motion. Her hair was still long when she came to New York.

"Not a work call. Completely social. All we did was talk work when you came to visit. Tell me something else."

"Do you think I have time that?" But there's a laugh there.

"Don't FBI agents have time? Foisting your work off on hardworking cops, interfering where the work is almost done so you can claim credit. That's what I know of FBI."

"I'm not that kind of FBI, Munch."

"You wouldn't be." He senses the awkward pause happening and growing and rushes in with, "I have a new partner. Another new partner. My old, good partner transferred and now I've had a new partner every six months."

"You should take that as a sign. About you." And another laugh. He's succeeding, at the very least, in amusing her.

"You think I'm a bad cop."

"I think you're a difficult man to work with. But you're a good cop."

He smiles at his desk and hunches more over the phone. "Some of my partners don't think so."

"Rookies. They all watch too much TV. I had some rookie today try to tell me everything forensics can do because he saw it on TV. Unbelievable."

"Have you watched those shows? Have you seen those? They completely reduce the police to ciphers, to people who just sit. Forensic specialists interviewing suspects? Like I'd take some biologist over Pembleton in the box. Those shows completely denigrate the integrity, the very skills that make us cops. Or FBI agents, in your case."

She keeps laughing. "I don't watch those shows at all. Nothing good on TV anymore."

"I only watch TV to keep up with the nation's zeitgeist. Understand the mooks and the creeps." Because it keeps him company, like yelling at the idiot box is company.

"Zeitgeist," she says. "You and your big words."

He wishes she would say more. He amuses her. Does he charm her? Does she think of him when he's not there the way he thought and thinks of her? He asks more questions of her in his head than he did of his last suspect. He says, "Do you like my big words?"

"They're nice to hear." She's quiet for a moment. "It was nice of you to call, John, but I have to work. Cases to interfere with, people to find."

"I'll call back. Let you do your work."

She says, "Call back sometime, you make me laugh."


He lets Collette Newmarket drive. Unfortunately this means she thinks she controls the radio and now Munch is listening to the smooth mellow sounds of James Taylor. He wants to shoot the radio.

Newmarket says, "So, how many times you called this woman?"

"She's not this woman. She's Kay Howard, Special Agent. She's not someone you call this woman like another suspect or witness."

"How many times, Munch?" Newmarket looks away from the road and glares at him. Munch thinks he will miss her when she requests a transfer away from him, like all the rest of the rookies do.

"I've called her seven times. I would like to note, she has called me twice in the same time frame."

"So she doesn't think you're stalking her."

"It's very difficult to stalk someone when you live two states away from them." Munch reaches for the radio but gets his hand slapped away before he can turn it down.

"You would find a way." She laughs. "Okay, but what are you going to do? You've convinced me, you love her. She cares about you. She's named her vibrator after you --"

"Don't say things like that. Don't reduce my relationship to your crude jokes about appliances," he says.

"Okay, okay. But, let me make my point: what now? Are you going to move there? Is she going to move here? You're a cop, she's an FBI agent, and you live two states apart. A relationship is not phone calls and you talking about her a lot to me. And that's what you want, right? You and her and TV and retirement homes? Cause otherwise, you've got bupkus."

"Is there any part of you that's Jewish? Do you think simply living in the City of New York qualifies you to use Yiddish?"

"And that's avoidance. You told me you loved her, really loved her and it wasn't just some old man's dream." She calls him an old man and he feels every minute of those years in her question. He thinks Collette Newmarket might end up being a very good cop.

He finds that he doesn't much care. He can weigh a chance of being with Kay versus his life in New York and his job and he finds that Kay wins.


He goes to her. She has a much larger desk than he does in a much larger office space with more windows. She stares at him and says, "Detective Munch?"

"John. John Munch here to see you. I came for you. No police business at all."

Her smile at that is a sweet one. Like a Botticelli painting with red hair streaked gray. She says, "When do you go back?"

"Never. Say the word and I stay here."

"Be a cop? In Baltimore now? It's all changing, John. You gonna start all over?"

He's thought about that. Over one long train ride where he read Shakespeare plays for inspiration. They weren't helpful. Perhaps because he could only finish Romeo and Juliet. He says, "I'm going to retire. Open a bookstore or run a bar again. I'm going to wait at home for you and make you dinner. I'm an excellent cook. You'll be happy to come home to me. And we'll fight and you'll be irritable and annoyed at all the damn kids you work with and the stupid people and the truly evil people. And I will feed you lasagna and crabs."

She covers her mouth and nearly laughs. He can hear the little breaths. "I say the word and deprive the police of the services of John Munch?"

"I'm retiring here."

"And moving. For me." She looks so beautiful, even in the grey light of a cloudy day through the windows. A face to grow old with.

"Absolutely." He grins. "Come on, let's go to Sterlings. We could."

"What about being a cop? You're a good cop, John."

"Kids today. Kay, they can't even swear creatively." He's too old to care about it anymore. He's worn down and all that remains is the wanting of her.

He holds out his hand and counts to three hundred before she finally takes it. She smiles and says, "I'm saying yes to lunch. To the lunch you're buying. We'll see about the rest of that."


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