Beaten and Battered

by TeeJay

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Summary:
After rewatching the episode Trial and Error the other night, this is a little alternate universe interlude story. It's what I now think Adam should have deserved. Warning! Not very Adam-friendly.

Author's Note:
I was rewatching infamous episode 2x19 "Trial and Error" the other night and this time I looked very closely at all the little details and nuances with regard to the Adam/Joan/Bonnie thing. And for the first time, I realized the full extent of Adam's betrayal. He knew perfectly well what he was doing and what it would mean for him and Joan. And he did it anyway.

For the first time, I realized what a two-faced, cheating little bastard he was and I wanted to punch him in the face right there. Okay, since I obviously couldn't do it myself, I had someone else do it for me. This is what I now think should have happened. You should see it as an alternate universe for the episode. I suppose it should go somewhere between when Adam tells Grace that he cheated on Joan and the mock trial session the next day. I suppose the rest of the episode could have happened the way it did, but you'd have to make some small modifications (c.f. Adam's shiner...) Well, I'll leave that up to you.

And, yes, I'm still an Adam/Joan shipper, of course. That'll never change. But I can still hate Adam for what he did, right? Some days I think he got exactly what he deserved, and this was one of those days. Written maybe a bit more matter-of-factly than my usual style, hope you like it anyway. It's not great or anything, it's just something I needed to get out of my system.

Disclaimer:
These characters and settings are not mine. Nor am I claiming they are. They are property of CBS, Barbara Hall Productions, Sony or whoever else they might belong to. I'm not making any money out of this, although I wish I was.

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Luke was clutching the astronomy book to his chest. He had finally decided to buy it and give it to Grace—stargazing was something they'd bonded over and she seemed genuinely interested in that sort of thing.

He looked up to assess the distance between him and the bus stop. A little game he'd been playing ever since he was a kid. He used to drive his parents nuts with it.

"Mom, how far is it from here to that billboard?"

"I don't know, Honey. Forty, fifty yards?"

"But how do you know?"

"I don't. I'm just guessing."

"But I wanna know!"

"Luke, I don't have tape measure eyes, so please stop going on about this, okay?"

His brow creased as he recognized a familiar figure crossing the street. A figure who wasn't alone. Adam Rove, his sister's boyfriend, and there was a girl with him. Long, slightly curly brown hair, kind of smallish figure. He racked his brain. Billie? Becky? Bonnie? Something like that. She was in the year above him; he didn't have any classes with her, or at least not that he could recall.

And from the way they were behaving around each other, there was definitely something going on. The way she touched his shoulder, the way he cocked his head at that gesture. Then Luke remembered something Joan had said earlier. He looked at his watch. Quarter past four. Joan had been going on about how it was her and Adam's dating anniversary and how he had said he had to be at work in the afternoon, so they couldn't celebrate today. Something about a special project he was doing for his boss. This was some special project, all right!

A cold, repulsive rage bubbled up in Luke. That perfidious, cheating little bastard! The moment he realized what was going on, he knew he'd have to do something about it. He would pay Adam Rove a little visit later on. Clenching his teeth, he swore to himself that he would never do that to Grace—to anyone. If one did have an interest in someone other than his or her current partner, then one should at least be honest about it.

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It was dark outside as Luke approached the Rove's house. He recognized the weirdo sculptures that were standing or hanging in the front garden. Today, Luke had nothing but contempt for them as he neared the front door.

When he rang the bell, Adam's father, slightly scruffy looking, came to the door, explaining his son was in the shed around back. He pointed the way out to Luke and Luke followed the directions.

Oh, this would be just perfect! So much more perfect than he could have imagined. How could this guy that his sister thought the world of screw around with another girl? He had always pictured the two of them as the perfect couple, so deeply in love that nothing could come between them. Yeah, just another example of how perception could distort reality. But no more, Adam Rove, your day has come!

The light was on in the shed and Luke guessed the door wouldn't be locked. He opened it very quickly, bursting into the shed. The look of surprise on Rove's face was priceless.

"Luke?" Adam asked at the intrusion of this unexpected guest. He got up from his stool behind the table and walked a few steps into the room.

Luke didn't say anything as he approached Adam. He just crossed the distance between them with a few fast-paced steps, drew back his fist and smashed it into Adam's face as hard as he could. His knuckles collided painfully with Adam's cheekbone and Adam fell backwards, completely taken by surprise at such full-force physical violence.

"That's for cheating on my sister, you creep," Luke spat at Adam, who was still lying on the floor, having propped himself up on one elbow, his other hand moving to his cheek, carefully touching the area where bone had collided with bone.

"What?" Adam wrinkled his forehead in confusion, slowly getting up from the floor.

"Don't play all innocent and ignorant," Luke shot at him depreciatively. "I saw you with her. What's her name? Bonnie? And you told Joan you had to work, but instead you were screwing around with another girl! That is so low!" Luke could barely contain his rage. "If I wasn't such a decently raised guy, I would hit you again and kick you while you're down."

Luke turned around to go. Standing in the doorway, he turned around and said to Adam, "If you don't tell Joan, I will." Without any further comment, he left the shed.

Adam leaned back against the table, his hands finding the edge to hold onto. What the hell? Things had happened so quickly. One moment Jane's brother had burst into his shed, the next he had found himself on the floor with a throbbing cheekbone.

Realization was slowly sinking in, and with it came the guilt and the shame. What had he done? How had he ended up here? When had things spiraled out of control? And what indeed was he doing, sneaking into Bonnie's apartment behind Jane's back?

'If you don't tell her, I will.' Oh my God! He could never tell Jane this. He knew that if he did, their relationship would be over. But if Luke told her, wouldn't that be even worse? Oh God, what had he done!

Slowly moving over to the stool behind the table, he sat down on it, feeling the throbbing in the left side of his face increase. This would be some shiner tomorrow. And he knew he deserved every swollen skin cell of it.

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"Oh my God, Adam!" Joan gasped as Adam was approaching the lockers in the morning before first period. He was sporting a huge red bruise above his cheekbone and the skin below his left eye had taken on a distinctly blue-ish tint.

Adam hardly dared look at her. He went to his locker and opened his locker door so that it would block Joan's face from view.

Joan stepped closer and pushed the locker door out of the way. "Adam, what happened?" she demanded.

"I don't wanna talk about it, okay?" he evaded.

"Someone beats you up and you don't want to tell your girlfriend about it? Adam, what is going on?" Suddenly swallowing, Joan asked in an almost sympathetic voice, "It's not your father, is it?"

Adam's head shot up. "What? No. My father would never do that. Look, can we talk about this later, I have to get to class." He closed his locker again, slung his red bag over his shoulder and hurried along the hallway.

Joan was left standing there, dumbfounded. What was going on with Adam? Sometimes she felt she didn't know her boyfriend at all.

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Mock trial was more fun than it had first sounded to Joan. Glynis, a.k.a. Mrs. Giant had just been interviewed as a witness, and some of that had been hilariously wacky. Everyone was really putting a lot of effort into this.

The court was now on break and Joan was waiting outside the classroom that had been turned into the mock courtroom to see if she could catch Adam and take him to task about that black eye he was sporting. Somehow he had managed to evade her all day, and Joan wanted to know why. She had quizzed Grace about it, but Grace hadn't disclosed any information. Joan wasn't sure if she didn't know or didn't tell.

Her instincts had finally been right, Adam was coming out of the room. As he saw Joan hovering close by, he stopped, as if he was considering turning around and avoid her. But then he walked on and passed her.

Joan went after him and eventually caught up with him. She stood opposite him in the school hallway. "I wanna know what happened," she told him squarely to his face.

"I said I don't wanna talk about it, didn't I?" he answered abrasively.

"I don't care if you wanna talk about it, don't you think I deserve to know?" She didn't want to start another fight. It seemed to her that they fought way too often lately. "We're a couple, Adam, couples tell each other what bothers them."

Adam swallowed. "Yeah, well, you'd think so, wouldn't you?"

He felt Joan's gaze drill into him. She took his sleeve and dragged him away into an empty classroom nearby. They stood opposite each other. "Adam, what are you saying? What is going on with you?"

Adam looked down. He would have preferred for this to go down somewhere a little more private. But if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. He drew in a breath, trying to prepare for what he was about to say.

"I don't think we should see each other anymore."

"What?" Joan whispered in disbelief. Her mouth fell open, her eyes wide.

"I... Something happened and you shouldn't... we shouldn't..." He was dancing around the words, not sure how to admit to the ultimately stupidest thing he had ever done.

But Joan cut in, her voice utterly unbelieving. "Adam, I love you. I don't want to stop seeing you."

"Yeah, I know," he said quietly. "I... I love you too, but I did something..." He knew he would have to tell her eventually, so why not get it over with right now? "Look, I slept with another girl." There, it was out. He held his breath to prepare for the final blow.

Joan's open mouth closed, her eyes filling with tears. Adam could hardly stand to look at her. This was it, all right.

"Who?" Joan demanded in a teary voice.

Without looking at her, he whispered, "Bonnie."

"Bonnie?" Joan asked, repeating the name. Despite her tears, she snorted out a disgusted laugh. "Gee, should have seen that coming, shouldn't I?" she said sarcastically. "So, did she beat you up over it?" Joan pointed at his face.

"No. Luke did that."

"Luke?" Wow, she didn't know her little brother would have it in him. This sure was a day of revelations.

Thoughts were tumbling through Joan's head and she heard Adam's meek voice. "Jane, I'm sorry." She could hear that he was now crying too. "I'm so sorry. I love you, Jane. I love you so much. Nobody will ever be what you are to me, and if I could take it back, then—"

Anger was rising in her, anger that overpowered her grief. "You don't get to stand here to tell me you're sorry," it poured from her. "Get the hell out."

He looked at her, a silent plea in his eyes, his eyelashes shining with wetness. "Jane, I—"

"Get out!" Joan yelled at him.

Adam bowed his head and left the classroom.

Joan was left standing there, dumbstruck. Adam had told her flat-out he had betrayed her with another girl—with Bonnie. How could he do that? Why would he do that? Because she didn't want to sleep with him, because she had refused him in the camper? She had been so sure that they were above that, that Adam wasn't one of those guys who thought only with his private parts. Gee, wrong again, Girardi.

She walked the few steps over to the teacher's desk and sat down on the chair, burying her face in her hands, feeling the wetness of her tears on her skin. From outside, she could faintly hear a voice in the hallway, announcing at the court was back in session, but she couldn't bring herself to get up and walk in there as if nothing had happened.

Then she heard Grace and Luke approaching. Grace's distinct voice exclaimed, "Where the hell is she? And where's Rove? Have they run off again somewhere for PDA? Or not to public, in this case... Oh, if she is trying to pull anything on Jack, I'll kill—"

Grace stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Joan through the open classroom door, sitting at the desk, the picture of misery. She carefully edged closer. "Joan?" she asked. This was one of the rare moments where she used her first name. "What's wrong?"

"Adam's wrong, that's what!" Joan shot at her through her tears. "Did you know? Did you know that he slept with Bonnie?"

Grace didn't know how to react. If she told Joan she had known since the day before, Joan might be mad at her too. But Joan had been lied to enough for one day, so she admitted, "Yeah, he told me yesterday."

Joan didn't seem to care about whether Grace had known or not. "Why would he do that? Why, Grace?"

"Dude, I don't know. I don't get it any more than you do."

They sat in silence for a few minutes, Grace more than painfully aware that the whole mock trial court was waiting for them to return. She finally said, "Are you ready to go back to that whole mock trial thing or should we call that off for today?"

Joan wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at Grace. "No, I think I can handle it." And though it was a completely irrational thing to say, she told Grace, "After all, prosecuting Jack should be so much fun now. Come on, let's get it over with."

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The rest I'll leave to your imagination...
-TeeJay