Corduroy

By Maureen

Music and lyrics by Pearl Jam (I just realized I have used a lot of their songs..I like them a lot.) I'm still not making any money off this. I don't own the characters either.

A/N: I was originally considering writing the long awaited sequel to Why Go for all the people who have begged and pleaded, but I couldn't seem to find the right lyrics for it.and then I saw this and thought "hey..that could make a good fic!" so without further ado.

***

Dr. Alexander Freeman drove home wondering what had become of his life. Here he was, 38 years old today and he didn't feel happy. He just felt empty. It wasn't that anyone had forgotten, there had been a nice little party at the station. Val and Brooke had organized it and they had all pitched in to get him a gift certificate to Brookstone at the mall.

But he still felt empty. It had been five years ago to the day that she had left him. Stephanie Gilbert, the love and light of his life. Her quick smile and long, luxurious auburn hair and her obsession with Bon Jovi of all people was still as clear in his mind as it had been five years ago.

Some children worried that they would forget what a parent looked like after they have been gone for a while. It didn't matter that the physical appearance wasn't what was important, but the love. Alex didn't worry about the physical, that he was certain he would never forget. It was the love. He had already lost the love.

Alex pulled into the driveway of his townhouse. It was in a middle-class suburb of Kingsport, only a few streets from Hank's house. Not that he gave any indication of that to the squad.

He headed into the living room, throwing his blazer on the kitchen chair, not noticing that it crumpled to the floor in a pile, marring the immaculate floor with the gray mass. He sat down heavily on the couch, glad to finally he home. He began unbuttoning his shirt and loosening his cuffs. He was going to get comfortable.

Once he was settled in, he pulled the bottle of tequila out of the bag he had set next to the couch. Opening the bottle, he toasted the air before taking a long gulp.

The waiting drove me mad...you're finally here and I'm a mess

I take your entrance back...can't let you roam inside my head

I don't want to take what you can give...

I would rather starve than eat your bread... I would rather run but I can't walk...

Guess I'll lie alone just like before...

Alex Freeman drove home from work, anxious to see his wife, Stephanie. It was his birthday and he wanted to see what surprise she might have waiting. It was a game with them, each trying to one-up the other on their birthdays.

Last year she had told him to meet her at a bar on the other side of town and had shown up in a blonde wig and an outrageous red dress. She had flirted with him mercilessly under the pseudonym "Ginger" while he tried to stave her off with claims he was married before he realized it was his wife.

He had taken Stephanie out to a diner for her birthday and then they went to a real drive-in movie (complete with sneaking Steph in by hiding her in the trunk). He had gotten her Grease and American Graffiti videos to complete the theme.

This year he drove down the street to their house, but couldn't turn into the drive way because a police car was there. His heart began to pound, wondering what had happened. There were no flashing lights and the neighborhood children and mothers were out as it was the first nice day of spring. They watched curiously as he met the police officer in the front yard.

"Dr. Freeman?" the officer said.

"Yes." Alex trailed off, wondering what could be happening. "Can I help you?"

"I'm here to serve you this, sir," he handed the other man an envelope of papers. Opening them up Alex saw that they were divorce papers. "Mrs. Freeman has packed a bag for you. Is there anything else you will need for the moment?"

Alex shook his head mutely, wondering where the punch line was. He looked in the living room window and saw his wife standing there, looking sad but resolved. Alex nodded slowly, realizing that this was no joke.

"I need to make sure I have all my papers and things from work," he told the officer. "Did she pack any of that?"

"No, I'll escort you," the officer said sympathetically. Together they walked around to the back of the house, emerging a few minutes later with Alex clutching several manila envelopes.

I'll take the varmints path...oh, and I must refuse your test

A-push me and I will resist...this behavior's not unique

I don't want to hear from those who know...

They can buy, but can't put on my clothes...

I don't want to limp for them to walk...

Never would have known of me before...

Alex took another swig of the tequila. Tonight was his night with his friend, Jose Cuervo. "Just me and you buddy!" he mumbled well on his way to getting completely piss drunk.

Some people have remarkable alcohol tolerance and can soak alcohol up like a sponge with seemingly no ill effects. Other people have the alcohol tolerance of a gnat and end up drunk within minutes of a tequila shot. Alex fell somewhere in the middle, but after drinking half the bottle, he was feeling quite liberated.

"We don't need any stupid girls!" he said to himself, missing his exwife terribly.

I don't want to be held in your debt...

I'll pay it off in blood, let I be wed...

I'm already cut up and half dead...

I'll end up alone like I began... Everything has changed, absolutely nothing's changed

Take my hand, not my picture, spilled my teacher

The divorce was not as messy as it could have been, but Alex had found it more emotionally taxing that he had anticipated. They had no children and he let her have full custody of their two cats. They hadn't seemed important in the grand scheme of things.

The problem was when he found out that she had been having an affair with another man for the past three years. They had only been married for four years.

Taking off his wedding band had been one of the hardest thing he had ever done.

That night he had gone to bar after bar not caring what he was drinking as long as he got good and drunk. Every year on his birthday he had continued the tradition.

The hardest part had been rebuilding his life without her. That was how he had ended up in Kingsport. Everything in Cincinnati had reminded him of her so he put in for a transfer to another hospital. Kingsport Memorial Hospital had needed someone to run their volunteer EMT program. Alex jumped at the chance, not caring what he would be doing or where as long as it was well away from the memories.

True to form, Kingsport had no ill-will towards Alex and he settled in comfortably. He even began to date a little although he was not interested in a serious relationship.

I don't want to take what you can give...

I would rather starve than eat your breast...

All the things that others want for me...

Can't buy what I want because it's free... Can't buy what I want because it's free...

Can't be what you want because I'm...

"Alex?" Dr. Jennifer Perino called, knocking on his front door. It was his birthday and she had planned on taking him to dinner, but he had left immediately after work and it had taken her some time to track down his home address. It was in the phone book, but she was not familiar with the streets of the area.

"Alex?" she called again, trying the door surprised that it was open.

The sight on the couch startled her. In less than two hours since they had left work he had managed to get himself smashed. An empty bottle of tequila laid on the floor by the couch and Alex was holding another half-empty bottle in one hand as he sprawled on the couch.

"Alex!" she exclaimed, startled. "What are you doing?"

"Getting' drunk!" he replied proudly, brandishing his bottle in the air. "You bring beer?" he asked, squinting as she was silouhetted against the setting sun.

"No!" she cried. A glass of wine at dinner occasionally was one thing, this was another thing entirely!. "Honestly! You are the most exasperating man!"

Alex nodded in agreement, "Thas wha Steph always said. But I'm 38 today!"

Jennifer sighed and shook her head. "Want to tell me about it?"

I ain't s'posed to be just fun

Oh, to live and die, let it be done

I figure I'll be damned, all alone like I began... It's your move now...

I thought you were a friend, but I guess I, I guess I hate you...

In the early hours of the morning Jennifer tucked Alex into bed and turned the light off in his bedroom. They had talked for most of the night, only stopping long enough to brew coffee and order some Chinese takeout to sober Alex up and to quite Jennifer's stomach.

Alex had cried and told her all about his exwife, letting all his barriers down. She had held him and comforted him and made sure that she did not make any promises she couldn't keep.

Opening the linen closet door she took out a spare pillow and blanket and set herself up a bed on the couch. Alex was going to probably have a hangover in the morning.

A/N: Jose Cuervo is a type of tequila. And remember kids - 1 tequila, 2 tequila, 3 tequila, floor. My friend Jared can drink an obnoxious amount of alcohol with no serious affects (he never drives when drinking though, ever). My roommate last year, Eri, would be unconscious after 1.5 shots of tequila and have a massive hangover. Amazing differences because they are both of comparable height.