Title: "Look Both Ways"
Fandom: Days of our Lives.
Rating/Classification: SAC, Frankie/Abigail-ish, Frankie/Eve, angst. 1000 words.
Disclaimer: NBC and the Cordays own all. I'm going to Hell.
Summary: A sequel to "Leap Before You Look." Picks up right where that story leaves off, but from Frankie's POV.
"You're a Boy Scout, Frankie," Eve used to say, with equal parts fondness and exasperation. "Do you even jaywalk? Seriously? Have you ever skipped out on paying a parking ticket?" Their room would smell sharp and acidic, like her nail polish remover and he'd point out that the village didn't have stoplights, so her question was irrelevant. "Irrelevant? See, that's what I mean! Boy Scout! Boy Scout! Boy Scout!" she'd shriek with laughter as he tumbled her to the bed, ruining the manicure she'd spent the entire afternoon perfecting. Red enamel would streak the sheets and his skin and he wouldn't tell her that he still crossed at the corner of every street, lights or no.
Somewhere in Johannesburg, Eve Donovan is still shrieking with laughter. Especially now. Right this very moment.
Abigail tastes sweet and medicinal, like the fluoride toothpaste in the cabinet above the bathroom sink. He kisses her back for a split second, because it's biological instinct and it's only polite ("Boy Scout!") before he remembers who she is, where they are, and sets her away from him with a firm, stepfatherly hand on her shoulder. "No," he says, softly. "I told you 'no,' Abby."
She looks so much like Jen that it actually makes him ache. Tease up her hair, crimp it, crank up the Speedwagon, and he's 17 again. But there are differences, too. Her eyes are bigger than her mother's, wider, more wounded, and he knows she's never heard of REO Speedwagon. A Flock of Seagulls is just a bunch of birds. She wasn't even born when the Challenger exploded and a Bush has been president for the bulk of her life. Worse than that, but for a few years and a twist or two of fate, she could be his daughter.
Her mouth trembles. It's fuller than Jen's...and he's going to be killing himself for years for acknowledging that. "It's me, isn't it?" she asks, scooting back against the bed, wrapping her skinny arms around her knees. "I'm just not...I'm..."
He closes his eyes, swallows. He tries to wash the mint taste out with spit but his mouth is dry. "I told you. You don't need to be anybody besides *you*." In her flowered pajama pants and little top, with her long blond hair brushed before bed -- a hundred strokes.
She tilts her head, looks at him -- a Jennifer look, oh God -- and smiles that smile that he knows she stole from Chelsea. One she practices in the mirror because she thinks being that overt and trashy and devious is ideal. It's a smile that Eve would approve of. It's a smile that Eve practically invented. "But you need to be someone else, don't you, Frankie?" she asks him. "Do you wish you were my dad?"
He has to laugh, stifling the noise against his palm as he rubs his throbbing temple with two fingers. "Right now? Not really. Because then this would be even more awkward."
"I don't know...it's pretty awkward now, isn't it?" She almost looks annoyed. As if he's not supposed to have a sense of humor, of sarcasm.
How she can even think that? The only thing that could possibly help him survive this ridiculous, awful situation is the fact that he hasn't forgotten how to laugh. He got the girl. He finally got the girl. His high school sweetheart came back to him after almost 20 years...and then her husband came back from the dead and her teenage daughter decided to go all Amy Fisher on him. Does Abby even know who Amy Fisher is? Does he have his metaphors wrong? Or his cases? Frankie is chuckling again, slightly hysterical, and he punches his pillow, wondering how it can smell like Abigail's shampoo when she couldn't have been in his bed all that long.
It's the orange bottle in the shower caddy. Her shampoo. Some bath and body junk. He used it once, by accident, before court and had to endure the flunky from the DA's office pretending to sniff him during opening arguments. It smells like candied apples. Eve whispers, "Boy Scout," in his ear and the Biblical association isn't remotely funny. It's apt. He's being tempted, tested, and will be judged.
"Are you okay?"
"Not really." Max bought him shots at the pub. Actually, there was no buying involved since Pops wouldn't hear of it. So, they just took turns with the Jameson's, proving they're Irish bred if not Irish born, as he tried to spend a few hours thinking of anything, anything, but Jen and Jack.
He's still a little drunk. He must be. And anyone with a BAC above the legal limit has no real protection under the law. That's why he hasn't hauled her out of the room and marched her down the hall to her parents. That's why he kissed her back for that split second. That, and because it's only polite. Because it's biological instinct.
"Irrelevant," Eve would probably trill, mockingly, her nails crimson against his bare stomach, scratching lightly. "You still did it, Frankie."
"I don't hate you," Abigail assures, again, and he's glad to hear her moving, shifting, and climbing back up to the bed. He's not going to follow. He's going to sleep, praying for carpet burn and lessons learned. In the morning, he's going to strip the sheets and wash away every last trace of her. He's going to hit the hardware store and get a new lock for the door, the kind with a key he can keep in his pocket. And he's going to say, "Jennifer...Jennifer, I love you, but I don't belong here. Please let me go."
"I hate me enough for the both of us, Abby," he murmurs. "Believe me."
He still crosses at the corner, light or no.
But he was never a Boy Scout.
And no one ever taught him to "Be Prepared" for this.
For a few years and a twist or two of fate.
July 13, 2006.