by Emily M.

The pretty ex-nun who wants to turn him into a social worker called it complicated. Yeah, that's a word for it. Screwy is another. Weird. Messed up.

Whatever the word, Jamie's relationship with Mike isn't quite normal.

He has a father, but lately he's been thinking that Mike would be a pretty good substitute for the real thing who these days wants less to do with him than ever. Except Mike has a son, and even if he doesn't see him as much as he'd like, Jamie doesn't think he's on the look out for a replacement.

Besides, Jamie's always been about standing on his own two feet, self-reliance and all the freedom that comes a long with that. If he didn't need a father when he was fifteen, he sure as hell doesn't need one now.

So maybe he's not looking for a father in Mike, maybe he's just looking for a friend.

Friendship is a strange idea for him. He's never been good at the human relationships thing. He's got the looks and the charm that can get himself into close knit social circles pretty fast. The kind that could turn him into one of those boys that girls bring home to mom, but he'd never stick around long enough for that. He's always got a scam and even the best scams are only good for so long. The trick is knowing when to move on. He likes the feeling he gets from running cons, and maybe that makes him one of the bad guys, but he doesn't let himself think about things like that for long.

Mike doesn't trust him, but he's never really gotten on his case about the stuff he pulls either, even when it's only semi-legal. Mike even helps him out sometimes. Mike's never involved in the cons, of course, and Jamie's going to make sure that Mike'll never get named if he screws up big someday because Mike's got enough problems without that. But Mike can usually be counted on for a getaway and a place to sleep. He's got a Pavlovian response to cabs these days, he's always a little more relaxed when he sees one around.

But it's not just that Mike helps him out sometimes, he really likes the guy. Mike's real, even if sometimes the do-gooder rhetoric grates a little and leaves him thinking of the comics he used to read when he was a kid. He thinks that Mike likes him too, if only because even a guy with Mike's hero complex would have given up on him by now if he didn't like him a little.

He's standing under the El on Front Street, and there's a prostitute on the other corner eying him. She looks like what she is, a washed up drug addict desperate for a high. He thinks that she'd have to pay him to have sex with her and he's not sure there's enough money on the planet.

There's nothing really wrong right now. No deals have gone bad and he's got enough money in his pocket to get a cheap room somewhere. A motel would have a bed, but Mike's couch seems somehow better and it comes with free coffee and breakfast. So he makes the call with a few embellishments to set of Mike's protective instincts and, of course, the cab shows up. He's got a free ride and a place to sleep. He should feel guilty about costing Mike money and time, but he pushes it to the back of his mind with the other things he doesn't think about. Because maybe Mike has him figured out anyway and doesn't care that sometimes Jamie makes the call out of want rather than need.

So yeah, it's complicated, but for now, he's okay with that.


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