Disclaimer: I don't own Degrassi.
AN: Hey. Turns out I'm not dead. Sorry, Everyone. This story is about Adam, because I love him. Also, it's dark. See below.
MANY THANKS to my incredible betas drevil99 and TwistedRaver without whom this fic would not exist. Check out TwistedRaver on youtube - her Adam/Eli "Riot" vid was the inspiration for this fic.
Warnings: drugs, alcohol, self-harm, physical and sexual abuse, foul language, frank discussions of sex and gender, and general ungentlemanly behavior. I WILL fuck with your OTP. Be prepared.
UPDATE 12/30/10: A quick note about the circumstances of the story. THIS DOES NOT TAKE PLACE IN CANON. Some major plot-points are lifted from what we've seen on the show, but the majority of the circumstances surrounding Adam/the Rest of the World are entirely AU. Basically, I got to pick and choose what to keep, because, I mean, let's face it; the show does a lot of stupid stuff all the time. I'll be including some version of this note in the second chapter as well.
Adam and Eli met for the first time (the first time that counted) outside of Mr. Perrino's room. They both had detention and Perrino was late showing up. They recognized each other, were vaguely familiar, and Eli slid next to Adam against the wall and asked if he took notes in English and if he'd mind sharing them.
When detention was over Eli handed back Adam's notebook and suggested they get a burger or something. Adam obliged, allowing himself a bright burst of hope at the prospect of having made a friend. He'd been at Degrassi a few weeks and so far they'd been incredibly lonely. His only company had been Drew (brothers don't count, though, right?) and a couple nerdy kids from a few of his classes. He wasn't really friends with Connor, Wes, or Dave, but they recognized their shared weakness (smarter but not stronger than the other boys) and gathered loosely in the same space, for safety.
"What'd you get detention for?" Eli asked, sipping on a vanilla coke, bangs hanging low over his eyes.
"Late to class," Adam responded shortly. He'd been forced to adopt an alternate route from math to French since the beginning of the week. It was longer and quite tedious, but the only way he was guaranteed a bully-free passing period. Two older boys at school had taken a slight interest in fucking with him, and while the harassment wasn't too bad (certainly not the worst he'd endured) he was doing his best not to exacerbate it. Degrassi was really his only shot at trying to make his life work (he couldn't bear the thought of forcing Drew to uproot and switch schools again, all because of his stupid malfunctions) and the last thing he needed was to be exposed again.
"Ah," Eli nodded.
"You?" Adam shifted wondering if this was how the conversation was supposed to go. God, he hated feeling so awkward.
Eli smirked "Same."
It was a lie, that much was obvious. Adam shrugged and decided it would be wiser not to press the issue. He could draw a few conclusions from the swelling of Eli's lip and the yellow-green of the healing bruise along his cheekbone. There was no point in making Eli say it.
The waiter brought their food out and Adam gratefully dug into his burger, hoping that a shared task would ease the tension between himself and his macabre detention-buddy.
The meal did help. Things became a bit easier. They talked between mouthfuls and Adam found himself increasingly comfortable with the other boy. Elijah Goldsworthy was a grade 11 student. They discovered a shared love of Dead Hand, The Goon comic books, and horror films.
When they finished they walked back to the Degrassi parking lot because Eli has offered him a ride home. Adam was surprised, but not nearly as much as he felt like he should be when he found out Eli drove a hearse. It was fitting. He thought briefly of the film Harold and Maude and wanted to make a joke but he thought of Eli's busted face and his own inability to read social situations and kept his mouth shut.
When they pulled up outside of his house he took his time getting out of the car. His movements were sluggish and after exiting he just stood on the curb a few long moments. He stared at the lights on in his house and dreaded going inside. His limbs felt heavy, like lead. More than that, he felt so tired at the prospect of having to go and jump through hoops for his parents. He wanted to get back in the car and drive someplace else with Eli. Or just turn around walk in the opposite direction. To sleep in the park for the night, or just stay awake. To do anything, anywhere but home.
"Hey, Adam," Eli called, turning down the music. Adam jumped a bit, and turned back to face him, having already forgotten about the other boy's presence.
"Yeah?" crap. He hadn't caught his voice that time. He grimaced at the high pitch but Eli didn't seem to notice.
"I got the director's cut of Re-Animator on DVD last week. What do you say you bring Satan's Sodomy Baby to school tomorrow and we swap for the weekend?"
Satan's Sodomy Baby was his favorite issue of anything in the Goon universe.. It was the single most fucked up comic he'd ever read, but incredibly hilarious, and awesome, and it cost him almost $60 on eBay. He kept it in a Mylar bag under his bed, where his mother couldn't see it (she didn't allow filth in her home) and only brought it out when he needed a particularly good laugh after a particularly shitty day. He didn't want to share it.
"Sure," he agreed.
Eli's slow, sideways smirk slid onto his face. He always looked smug; like he knew something no one else did. Like life was all just one big joke and he was the only one that got it. Some private punchline that he wasn't inclined to share with anyone. Adam wondered why he didn't find Eli's attitude more annoying.
"Cool," He started the car back up. "Good hanging out with you. Catch you tomorrow."
He turned the music back up to obnoxious levels and drove away, tires squealing a bit. Adam stood on the curb, backpack dangling from one hand, and watched as he turned the corner and the sounds of his favorite Dead Hand record faded into the night.
He stood there until his phone vibrated in his pocket. Slowly he pulled it out and read the text Drew sent him.
Dude where r u? mom is FLIPPING OUT get ur ass homf
He shut his eyes tightly and sighed, pocketing his phone and trudged up the steps to his door.
When he walked into English the next day he noticed Eli sitting in the back, chatting casually with a girl from class. He looked up as Adam walked in, flashed his trademark smirk and waved him over.
"Adam, this is Clare," Eli began. "Clare, Adam. He's going to be sitting with us now."
His overwhelming excitement at having possibly found a clique overrode his annoyance over the fact that Eli hadn't exactly given him a choice.
"Nice to meet you," Clare said sincerely and Adam snapped out of his reverie to look at her.
She was beautiful. She had a gorgeous face and the prettiest eyes he'd ever seen. A sweet smell hung in the air around her, but it was hard for him to tell if it was her perfume or something one of the other girls in the class had sprayed. It didn't matter. He felt his cheeks getting hot and wanted to slam his head into the wall until he stopped acting like a complete fucking freak.
"Uh, you too," he managed, voice slightly strained. Eli watched him, a rather intense look on his face and Adam fought down a wave of panic. Oh shit. What if they were together? What if Eli was a psycho and could tell Adam thought Clare was hot and was now mentally putting together an alphabetized list of all the most painful ways he could murder Adam? What if he just blew it and he was stuck eating lunch with "the Three Tenners" and Drew all year?
Oh, god, he did not want to be the fourth Tenner.
The bell rang and Ms. Dawes got up from her desk and walked to the blackboard.
"Alright, everyone in their seats. Take out last night's homework and pass it one person back, we're going to see how well you all did."
A couple minutes into class he felt someone tapping his shoulder, glancing back he saw Eli leaning forward, holding out a piece of paper. Adam grabbed the note quickly, glancing nervously at Ms. Dawes as she wrote vocabulary words on the board for them to copy.
Did you bring the comic?
Adam sighed, relieved that Eli isn't about to start threatening him with death or dismemberment.
Yeah. In my backpack. I'll give it to you later. I do NOT need to be busted with this thing.
Is it really that fucked up? I've heard good things.
Dude. It's called Satan's Sodomy Baby for a reason.
Adam heard Eli chuckle behind him.
"Mr. Goldsworthy?" Dawes' sharp voice cut across the classroom. "Anything to share?"
It took all of Adam's willpower not to look back at Eli's face. He really, really hoped that Dawes hadn't seen them passing the note.
"No?" he offered, sounding uncharacteristically feeble.
Adam shivered at the full force of Dawes' glare, glad he wasn't on the receiving end of it. "Let's keep it that way, shall we?"
"Certainly," Eli agreed quickly.
Adam smiled. It was comforting to know that Eli was capable of fear. It indicated his ability to feel human emotions beyond smugness and derision.
When the bell rang and everyone began to slip their work back into their backpacks Eli tapped him on the shoulder.
"Meet us at lunch."
Adam nodded slowly, slipping the strap of his backpack over one shoulder and rising. "Where?"
"Outside." And with one more coy smile in Clare's direction, Eli slipped out of class.
He and Clare stood there silently for a few moments. The awkward smile she shot him before she walked away left his legs feeling like jelly.
The uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach had fluctuated from dull ache to all-consuming dread several times since English class. His cautious hope that lunch with Eli today will work out was constantly being tempered by the nagging feeling that this was just some awful trick and that Eli would drop the act and do something awful as soon as he had the chance.
So when the bell rang indicating that French was over and lunch had begun, Adam didn't rush out the door with the other students.
He trudged anxiously to his locker, slowly spun the correct combination and switched out the proper books. He was careful to avoid any place Drew might catch him; despite his apprehension about Eli he didn't want to run into Drew and end up eating with his brother.
By the time he made it to the caf lunch had been on for 10 minutes. He debated skipping the lunch line and just trying to find Eli, but decided that if today was going to be anything like yesterday food will be a good distraction.
He slipped outside after he grabbed his food and spotted them almost immediately; Eli's all-black getup really stood out among the rest of Degrassi's more cheerfully dressed student body.
He made it halfway to the them before pausing apprehensively.
Eli was leaning across the table, one palm flat down, the other hand making expressive movements in the air. Clare, too, was leaning forward, all big pretty eyes and this wide innocent smile. She was twirling her hair between two fingers and listening eagerly. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but Eli's tone was low and warm and the light blush on Clare's cheeks told Adam everything he needed to know about the nature of the conversation.
Then she looked up and saw him. Her smile remained, but it changed from coquettish to winsome at seeing him.
Eli looked over his shoulder and smirked. He raised his eyebrows as Adam stood, still hesitant. Noticing Adam falter Eli rolled his eyes and beckoned him over with a casual jerk of his head.
He sat down on the same side of the table as Clare, taking care to leave an ample space between the two of them; afraid of overstepping some line invisible line in the sand and offending Eli.
"Starting to think you wouldn't show," Eli remarked offhandedly.
"Worried your reputation's gonna take a hit?" Eli challenged. His voice light, like it might have been a joke, but Adam noted a distinct note of accusation under the words.
He snorted. "Yeah, my "reputation;"I'd sure hate to go from 'weirdo new kid' to 'weirdo new kid with friends.'"
Eli's increasingly familiar, slow sideways smirk took over his face once more and Adam felt the knot in his stomach loosen a bit.
"So you are new, then?" Clare asked.
Adam nodded, shoveling food into his mouth. It had the consistency of mashed potatoes but tasted vaguely of corn mush.
"Well, where are you from?"
She's just making conversation. He told himself. She's just being polite. But it was hard not to fight back the wave of nervousness and fear that shot through him. It was ridiculous, it wasn't like he could just show up in a new school and hope to make friends (or just fucking exist) without ever talking about his life before Degrassi. God, she'd only asked where he came from, not for his fucking birth certificate.
"St. Catherines," he answered stiltedly.
"Oh wow," she breathed. "Just across the lake. Have you ever been to the Falls?"
"Sure," he shrugged. "A couple times."
"I went once," she offered. "With my parents and my sister. We were kids, I barely remember it. It was really loud, though."
"Yeah," he agreed awkwardly. "Pretty loud, I guess."
Eli shot him a look, equal parts amused and dismayed.
Adam felt his cheeks getting hot. "What about you?"
Clare blinked. "What about me?"
"Uh," he coughed a bit, wondering why the fuck he couldn't just be normal. "You're not new at Degrassi, are you?"
"Oh," she smiled again. "No, I've been here a year. My sister went here before me..."
She trailed off, the smile dropping from her face.
Adam made a mental note to avoid talking about family with her.
"You?" Adam asked turning to Eli, eager to avoid uncomfortable topics with Clare.
"Transfer student," Eli confirmed. "I went to Bardell."
"Cool," Adam said. He tried desperately for a moment to think of something to continue the conversation before giving up and shoving something vaguely biscuit-like into his mouth.
"Have you been going here since school started last month?" Clare asked, with some incredulity.
"That's funny," she remarked, with a guilty shrug. "I guess I never noticed you before."
"That's what I was going for," he admitted before he could stop himself.
"Shy, Adam?" Eli challenged, mocking evident in his voice.
Adam glowered at him darkly, shoving a spoonful of corn into his mouth. "It's not shyness," he defended around a mouthful. "It's self-preservation."
Eli held his gaze for a long moment before nodding. "Know what's better than self preservation?"
Adam swallowed and took a sip of milk. He was fairly sure Eli didn't want an actual response, anyway.
Adam paused, setting his carton of milk down on the table. Eli had that intense look on his face again. Their gazes were locked. Adam wanted to look away, but for some reason he couldn't seem to bring himself to back down from the challenge Eli was sending his way, even if he didn't fully understand it.
"I guess," he answered slowly. "If that's an option for you."
Eli shook his head. "Trust me. It's always an option."
Adam shifted beginning to feel uncomfortable. "But what if-"
"Adam," Eli cut him off. "It is always an option."
Clare looked nervous, not quite understanding what the dark, meaningful looks between the boys meant.
"I guess we'll see," Adam relented, if only to end the weird... moment, they were having.
"Guess we will," Eli agreed, tone almost bright as he balled up his lunch bag and tossed it into the trash can a few feet from the table.
When the final bell rang for the day a noticeable air of relief swept the classroom. Today was Friday. Eager students jumped up from their desks, sling their backpacks over their shoulders and race to the door, their annoyed teacher calling out last minute assignments futilely at their retreating backs.
Adam wasn't among them. He stayed in his seat, forehead pressed against the wood of the desk until the classroom was empty and the teacher, worried, called his name.
"You doing okay, Adam?" asked Mr. Bince, voice tinged with genuine concern.
Adam cringed and lifted his head off the desk. He had completely spaced out and didn't realize that everyone was already gone.
"Yeah. Fine, Mr. B. Just... tired," he shrugged sheepishly and picked up his backpack. "See you Monday."
The halls were still packed with jostling bodies. The squeak of shoes on tile, the slamming of lockers, the incessant, pointless chatter – it was all enough to drive someone crazy. Adam pressed his back against the wall next to the water fountain and tried to wait it out.
Drew had football practice today effectively postponing Adam's weekend for at least another hour and a half. He was more or less used to it, and most of the time it didn't detract too much from his mood but he was tired and 80% sure he bombed the pop quiz in French and he just wanted to be at home, on his bed, listening to Dead Hand and reading the latest issue of The Boys or something equally as violent and ridiculous.
When the halls cleared out Adam went to his locker and switched out the books he'd need for the weekend. He wandered around the campus for a bit, hoping to run into Eli or Clare but they never made plans to hang out after school and it looked like they were long gone. Adam pushed back the feeling of disappointment and found a quiet spot in the halls to sit down and work on the weekend homework Bince had assigned.
"Hey faggot!" a harsh voice broke Adam's concentration. He jumped, pencil scratching a dark line on the page, his head whipping toward the source of the disturbance.
"Just checking," he mocked.
Adam' wasn't entirely sure just what he did to rouse the ire of Mark Fitzgerald; all he knew was that for a good two weeks or so the boy had delighted in whatever small steps he could take to make Adam's life just that much harder. It started with Fitz and a couple of his idiot friends calling him out between classes. All-in-all, it wasn't too bad; mostly Fitz called him gay, or a nerd, or a gay nerd – general uncreative taunting that Adam had long been familiar with. What really worried him was the chance of the harassment escalating. The thought of having a fulltime bully once again made him want to vomit.
Adam froze, fists clenched tightly, face white. He tried slow the frantic beating of his heart and wipe the desperate, anxious expression from his face but it was too late. Something lit up in Fitz's eyes and he stepped closer.
Blood in the water.
Adam grit his teeth and broke eye contact, flipping his pencil over to erase the mark he'd left on his homework.
"Writing poetry?" Fitz stepped closer. Adam kept his eyes resolutely on his paper, trying his best not to acknowledge the familiar desperate fear settling deep in his gut. "Or a letter to your boyfriend?"
There was a beat of silence. Adam's shaky hand continued to guide his pencil along the worksheet.
"Hey, you fucking piece of shit, I'm talking to you!" Fitz erupted, kicking Adam's notebook off his lap, sending papers flying across the hall.
Adam flinched violently and pressed his back hard against the wall. He kept his eyes trained to the floor in front of him, terrified of making eye contact. This wasn't going well – Fitz could already tell that Adam was scared and that meant he was done-for.
Look at him, he thought angrily to himself. Look at him, you fucking idiot. Stand up for yourself. He'll back off, he's just a coward.
"Hey," Fitz's voice was quiet. Threatening. "Hey, retard. You made a mess." He stepped closer, his foot right next to Adam's hand on the ground. "Clean it up."
Adam hesitated for a moment and Fitz slammed his palm against the wall next to Adam's head. He leaned down. "I said clean it up, fag." His voice was still eerily quiet and controlled.
Adam took a deep breath, trying not to shudder, and leaned forward. His heart was beating so fast, so loudly, he was certain Fitz could hear it. Stand up for yourself, his body kept screaming at him, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. He crawled along the ground gathering his papers up and slipping them back into his notebook. When he reached for his pencil, Fitz stepped over and kicked it away, forcing Adam to rise and walk across the hall to retrieve it.
Finally after several long, embarrassing, tense moments he'd collected all of his scattered belongings. He stood anxiously in the middle of the hall, not sure if he should look up at Fitz or keep his eyes averted.
Fitz took several steps forward and stopped about a foot away. "Well?" he asked, expectantly.
Adam looked up, confused. "Well... what?" he ventured, cautiously.
"Didn't your fucking mother teach you anything, dipshit?" Fitz snarled. "Aren't you going to fucking thank me for helping you clean your shit up?"
Adam felt the bitterness, familiar and hard, rising up his throat and had to literally bite on his tongue to keep from lashing out.
Stand up for yourself.
Be a man.
He squared his shoulders, let out a long, slow breath.
Be a man.
He looked up and locked eyes with Fitz.
Fuck you. The words were on the tip of his tongue. All he had to do was push them past his lips.
But Fitz took another step closer and suddenly they were nose-to-nose. He could feel Fitz's breath on his face. It took all of his willpower not to look down, not to flinch, not to run away.
And suddenly it was months ago and he was back in the halls of his old school with the awful sinister hiss of "fucking freak" and "tranny" and "stupid dyke" underneath the passing period chatter. It was his old bedroom, pressing wet washcloths against Drew's busted face, hating himself. It was the family dining room, with his head in his hands while his mother grilled him about a phone call from the principal. It was the car on the way to the hospital after the Last Big Fight.
Adam swallowed thickly.
"Thank you," the words were like gravel in his mouth. The shame, the helplessness, the rage; they coiled together in the pit of his stomach like snakes and writhed and hissed and made him sick.
Fitz smiled. "You're welcome."
He slammed his shoulder into Adam's violently as he walked past, almost knocking him over. He pressed his palm on the top of Adam's head, against his beanie and rubbed down roughly.
"Pretty fuckin' rude, y'know?" he grinned, tone light. As if he was joking. As if they were friends.
"Yeah," Adam heard the words dripping from his mouth but felt no connection to them. "Sorry."
"It's okay," Fitz called over his shoulder. "I'm a forgiving dude."
And he walked out the door, leaving Adam with crumpled science homework and a bellyful of snakes.
Adam's head hurt.
"-looks like he's trying to stick me with the third quarter report! So, I-"
He wanted to be in his bedroom, with the door locked and the lights off, and something angsty and too loud in the background.
"-way behind on my filing anyway. Yeah. So, now, on top of that Jones wants me to-"
He wanted Drew to stop looking at him that way. Cautious glances cast from the other side of the table; like there's something he really wants to say, but isn't sure how to. He wanted Drew to not be so damn good at telling when he's feeling like shit.
"-like I have enough time for that? Not for what they're paying me. I swear-"
He wanted his dad to shut the hell up.
Adam sighed heavily, ran a hand down his face and pushed his plate away from him. He could feel the dull ache of hunger settling low in his gut, but couldn't bring himself to eat anything. He was so tired. He was so sick of everything.
"'m going to my room," he mumbled, picking up his plate and walking it toward the sink.
"Just a minute, young l-" his mother paused.
Adam froze, eyes shut tight, face drawn in a wince. God.
"Just a minute, Adam," his mother tried again, voice softer.
He stood where he was, plate still in hand, back still toward them.
"Yes?" he spoke between clenched teeth.
"What's the matter with you?" she demanded, voice growing bolder. "You hardly touched your food."
Well, maybe if it didn't taste like shit.
The meanness of his own thoughts shocked him. He bit his tongue, frowning deeply. He'd actually almost said that. To his mom.
What the fuck was wrong with him?
"Adam," she spoke again, voice clipped.
Dammit. He was pissing her off.
"Yeah, mom?" he turned around.
"What happened?" she asked plainly.
Fuck, he thought. Fuck fuck fuck.
Blood in the water.
"What happened where?" it was futile, but he had to try. His best befuddled voice was fairly convincing this time. He hoped she bought it.
"What happened today?" her voice was sharper this time. "What's got you so upset?"
"Nothing," he snapped. "I'm not upset. Just not feeling well. I'm tired. Can I go to my room now?"
"Don't give me that, Adam," she bit. "You're my... son. I know you better than you know yourself, do you really think you can lie to my face like that?"
I know you better than you know yourself.
He wanted to laugh. If the that was true, then she wouldn't sound so damn pained when she called him her son.
"I'm not lying to you," he said, voice flat. "I'm fine."
"Look, if something happened at school, you have to tell me because-"
"I said I'm fine!" he yelled. "I said I was fine and I am and maybe if you'd just-" fucking, his brain filled in, but it felt wrong cursing at his mother so he bit his tongue. "If you'd just leave me alone for once maybe-"
"Leave you alone?" she hissed. "God, you can't be left alone. We left you alone last time and look what happened."
He heard Drew gasp at the table and shoot him a look.
Did she really just say that?
He walked to the sink and dropped his plate in, wincing at the clatter of silverware.
He couldn't help but look at his family as he passed by the table. His father looked annoyed. Drew looked nervous – torn between the urge to show solidarity with Adam and his own fear of incurring their mother's wrath.
His mother's face was an unreadable mask.
"Where do you think you're going?" her voice was cold, measured. "This conversation is not over, Adam."
He rolled his eyes and continued walking. "Whatever," he grumbled and regretted it the moment it escaped his lips.
He heard her get up from the table and follow him into the living room.
"Don't you 'whatever' me, young la-" she caught herself again.
"I'm going to my room," he asserted.
"I never thought," she began, "I never even imagined that the day would come when my own children would speak to me like-"
He stopped at the top of the stairs. This part was the worst. He and his mother had gotten into plenty of fights over the past year. The fight over his first girlfriend. The fight over his clothes. The fight over his grades slipping.
The fight over Adam.
The particular fight they were having right now was deemed the fight over his "attitude."
But they both know that it's just another part of the fight over Adam.
Mom. Please. I don't want to do this. I don't want to fight. I hate how we always fight. You don't know even half of the shit I have to put up with at school and how much it sucks. And when I get home I just want to relax and deal with my own shit – not have you hassling me all the damn time...
He didn't say that, though. He couldn't make the words come.
He just walked to his room, locked the door, and turned the volume on his stereo up as loud as he thought he could get away with.
He laid on his back with the lights out, timing his breath and staring at the ceiling.
He thought about Fitz. About his mom. About last year and how blindingly white hospital sheets are.
He thought about the scars under his sleeves and how badly they itch when he felt like this.
Not crying was the hardest part.
There was probably nothing in the world he hated more than crying.
It always left him feeling stupid and weak and so fucking girly.
That was the rule.
The tears in his eyes mocked him. The ache of the bandages around his chest mocked him. The smoothness of his arms and legs mocked him. His mother's voice echoing in his head mocked him.
The lighter on his nightstand mocked him.
He opened the top drawer and dropped it in, covering it with papers and CDs and other miscellaneous junk.
Gracie burned herself, but Adam didn't have to.
Adam was stronger.
He pushed the tips of his fingers against his eyes restlessly and rubbed away the moisture.
Sure. He was stronger than Gracie ever was.
He just wished he wasn't the butt of the fucking joke all the time.
AN: Feedback is greatly appreciated - constructive criticism in particular. I've got a couple chapters of this already written. The next installment will see posting in about a week's time, or whenever I hit 12 reviews.
Thanks for reading.