Silent Lives 8: Fornicating Frogs
By Maureen

***

*Are you going to be home tonight?* Alex asked Jamie at work Friday afternoon a couple weeks after they returned from Florida. Things had been tense for a while, but gradually life was returning to normal. Jamie had been emailing his mother a bit and they were tentatively planning on him visiting for New Years. Alex had been surprised how mature his ward was being about the entire situation.

He shrugged, *Nothing set in stone,* he replied, *I was thinking of going to see a concert tonight. They're letting minors in at Fitz's tonight before 10pm.*

Alex nodded, Brooke had mentioned that Haggis was playing there tonight. She had been breaking from the 'perfect' Linear mold ever since Val had left for college and although she was still responsible, mature and trust-worthy, she was now developing in to Brooke Linear, not 'Val's little sister'. She had cut her hair short and spiky in the back and long in the front. It was quasi-punk rock but still very trendy and cute.

More and more she was becoming her own person and after living with Jamie for over a year and coming to the shocking conclusion that punks and Goths weren't horrible people that should be brainwashed until they are normal, he wasn't worried about her. As long as she was 'straight edge,' a term Jamie had explained to him when he had been worried, all was fine.

*I want you to have dinner at home tonight,* Alex told him, hoping his plans would go without incident tonight.

Jamie nodded, not caring. He had to go home after work before he could go to the concert anyways. He wasn't meeting Brooke for it until later anyways. This was her early birthday present for him. She was treating him to the concert and mayhem afterwards. Besides, he was friends with the band and hadn't seen them for a while.

If only his shift would end, he wanted to mosh!

***

Alex bustled about the apartment trying to get everything ready for his surprise. Jamie had fortunately retreated to the shower immediately after work, which gave Alex plenty of time.

As the water turned off, Alex surveyed his handiwork. The gumbo for dinner was in the oven warming with the bread, the table was set, and salad was in the refrigerator keeping cool next to a small bottle of wine. Everything looked perfect.

Jamie came wandering in to the living room, clad only in his towel. "Have you seen my old jeans?" he asked Alex, not noticing anything.

*Jeans?* Alex asked, not knowing which ones he was referring too.

*You know, my old ones with the holes in the knees.*

*I threw them away last time I did the laundry, they were falling apart.*

*Exactly! And they were perfect!* Jamie groaned and headed back to his room to see about another pair of holey jeans.

The doorbell rang as Jamie's back disappeared into his bedroom. Alex shook his head, thankful that, if nothing else, he would be returning fully clothed and most likely with another pair of ruined jeans. Smiling, he went to open the door.

***

The smiling woman on the other side greeted Alex warmly. "Alex," she said, her brown eyes sparkling. "How're you?"

"Fine," Alex replied, kissing her gently. "How was your business trip?"

"Boring as usual. Same old farts saying the same old clichés," she said, accepting a glass of wine from Alex and sitting on the couch. "Your problem child here?"

"He's getting ready to go out later," Alex grimaced, "I'm afraid he's going to be at his scariest tonight."

She laughed, touching his hand, "Let him live a little! You're only young once!"

"I was never young," he replied straight faced. "Besides, at the rate he's going, I'm going to be old and gray before my time!"

"Florida that bad, huh?"

"Worse actually," Alex checked his watch, "I'd better go get him or dinner will burn."

***

Alex opened Jamie's door enough to put his head in and flick the light switch briefly to get his attention. *Dinner. Ready?* he asked.

"Yeah," he replied. He was wearing the jeans with one of the back pockets ripped off. In its place was a patch with the Ramones presidential logo and their names. He had also added patches to the pant legs at random, the only ones Alex could remember said "black label society" and "NOFX", whatever they meant. Hanging down from his waist were black suspenders. He also wore a black shirt with two white X's stitched across it and mesh sleeves. The outfit was bizarre to Alex.

*You are going to wear that out?* he asked.

*Yeah…* Jamie replied, not understanding the problem. At Fitz's he would look completely normal. He looked down for a moment, *Well, I was going to put on shoes and a jacket.*

Alex just shook his head bewildered, at least he wasn't wearing makeup. *Whatever. Dinner time.*

Jamie shrugged and followed Alex out to the kitchen. He never understood why Alex got so upset about what he wore sometimes. He wore a uniform to school, a uniform to work, and then Alex would get on his case about not dressing like a preppy perfect person. Weren't two uniforms enough? Besides, Alex wouldn't have to be seen out with him. Usually he was much more mainstream in how he dressed anyways. But he still wasn't preppy.

Upon reaching the living room, he was surprised to see a woman sitting on the couch. He tapped Alex on the shoulder, *She's not a social worker is she?* he asked suspiciously.

Alex chuckled. *No, she's not* he reached out, and she stood, joining Alex. Truth be told, they were all nervous. Alex had told her that Jamie might not take meeting her too well and she wanted to prevent that as much as possible. Jamie had no idea what to think. *This is Zoë Sinclair, my girlfriend.*

Jamie's jaw dropped. *Your girlfriend?* he repeated dumbly.

"It's nice to meet you, Jamie," Zoë said, reaching out to shake his hand.

He numbly submitted to the handshake, nodding at her briefly before turning to Alex, his hands flying. *When did you get a girlfriend?!* he demanded.

Alex ignored him and headed to the kitchen to serve dinner. He thought that Jamie was taking this better than he otherwise could have.

Dinner was uneventful unless you count Jamie being completely unsocialable. It wasn't that he was rude, per se, but he made no attempt to get to know Zoë or answer her questions beyond simply being polite. Then again, Alex figured that as long as he was not actively being rude to her he would let the behavior slide.

"I'm done," Jamie announced after his second bowl of gumbo. Alex and Zoë had been having a quiet conversation and his announcement interrupted.

*Then go,* Alex told him. *And take your dishes!*

Jamie rolled his eyes and headed back to his room.

***

Alex has a girlfriend, Jamie thought. A girlfriend. She looked so different from him though! And it's Alex! The idea of him doing...anything practically nauseated Jamie. The only people in his life having sex was him and fan fiction characters in the stories he read online. And he hadn't ever gotten any. His little half-sisters appeared one day in the cabbage patch.

Zoë was petite, the top of her head about even with his shoulders. Her blonde hair was cut in one of those middle-aged businesswoman type haircuts, a little shaggy on the top, but perky looking. Her gray suit had pink accents. Pink. She was animated and friendly and if her purse was any indication, slightly disorganized. Her planner jutted out of her large bag and it had so many papers and things crammed in it that Jamie noticed the zipper was about to break on it.

What the hell was she doing with Alex? Jamie closed his eyes, trying to get the mental picture out of his mind. That was a bad way to put things.

The lights flickered, and Jamie looked up from the magazine he wasn't reading. *Hey Brooke,* he said to the girl in the doorway.

*Hey,* she came in and sat on his desk chair. *Ready?*

*Yup.* Jamie grabbed his jacket and keys before heading out...where Alex and Zoë were talking on the couch.

***

*So who was she?* Brooke asked, curious.

*Her name's Zoë,* Jamie told her as they headed out. *She's Alex's girlfriend.*

*Girlfriend? Since when?* Brooke didn't believe him, but at the same time, always on the lookout for some juicy gossip.

Jamie shrugged, *I don't know. I didn't know anything until she came to dinner tonight.*

*She seemed nice when I talked to her,* Brooke told him, sympathetically. Although she didn't completely understand the problem, she had known Jamie long enough to know that this was bothering him. Her parents had been married for twenty years now and while they'd had their ups and downs, they still loved each other. And Alex was Jamie's foster father, not his real parents. She understood why he had been shocked to find out about his mother and her new family, but this was Alex.

*So? She's terrible.*

*Why?* she asked, not understanding.

*Because!* he didn't elaborate as they had reached the club. Brooke paid and they both dutifully showed their IDs and held out their hands for the black X's to be written on them with permanent marker. No drinking tonight.

*So, why?* Brooke repeated as they were assaulted by the bass from the band on stage. It was just a warm up band and few people were dancing.

*Why what?*

*Why don't you like her, you dork!*

*She's dating Alex! She's not like him at all!*

*And you're pissed that you didn't know about it, is that it? Because there is no way she could have done anything for you to hate her at dinner. I'm betting you didn't bother to try to get to know her.* Brooke let their way through the quickly thickening crowd to the balcony outside. It was quieter in there, and more private. Although Jamie hadn't said anything, she knew the loud music was beginning to bother him as he had turned his hearing aids off.

*That's not the point!* Jamie protested, how come she didn't understand?

*Then explain it to me like I'm in kindergarten,* Brooke demanded. She thought she knew where this was going and didn't like it one bit.

Jamie stood there, arms crossed glaring at her.

*Fine then, you're afraid they're going to get married and be all happy and Alex is going to forget about you, is that it?* Brooke signed quickly, making short, punctuated stops. She was angry now.

*Fine, you want the truth? That's exactly right! My mom left and has a new family, my brother left, my father left, Catie left, hell, even the super squad is gone! Why the fuck shouldn't I think that they are going to get married and leave me in the dirt?*

Brooke's eyes softened as she realized how deep his fear of abandonment went. *Jamie, Alex, no matter whether he marries or not, and I think that's a bit premature, he will never leave you. You are his son and he loves you. I know I sound sappy, but it's true. And Catie and the super squad never left you. Sure, they're no longer in Kingsport, but they still email constantly. And you're going to leave in a year too, and I'll still be here. But that doesn't mean we won't be friends, not if you still want to be. Your family isn't who you're related to by blood, but those who love you no matter what. And we all do. Especially Alex.*

Jamie looked at her sullenly. *You finished?*

Brooke nodded, unsure what was about to happen.

*Good. What you say is all fine and good, but not one thing in my life has ever been constant, things are always changing! Nothing ever stays the same!*

Brooke interrupted, unable to stop herself, *But, that's life, Jamie! People change, times change, things change! You changed! You went from the smart-ass punk on probation to one of the top people at the station and a great EMT! I went from being 'Val's little sister' to high school! You can't stop things from changing!*

Jamie turned and stalked away, wading into the crowd inside the club. When Brooke tried to find him a few minutes later, he was in the mosh pit, banging into the other guys and head banging so hard he would have bruises tomorrow.

As a general rule, she avoided mosh pits, they simply weren't safe. The guys moshing were always larger and tougher than she was and it just wasn't worth the injuries. But there were other ways to enjoy the concert and she danced and head banged along with the music. Jamie would work his aggression out and everything would be fine. He just didn't like being told that he was being unreasonable.

***
A/N: in Houston there is an all age's club called Fitzgerald's or Fitz's, it's cool if you're in to punk rock or ska.
Haggis: a horrible Scottish dish involving sheep entrails; a punk rock band in Az

"no one is having sex but me and certain fan fiction characters!" - Angel H. with one of the best sex quotes ever.