Hey, guys! This is my first fanfic on this page, so please review and tell me how I did.
Disclaimer: I do not own Mr. Young.
Echo Zizzleswift swung her bag, plodding along the grey pavement toward her home. Thankfully, that day, she didn't have any homework, so she was able to idle a bit, humming softly and enjoying the beauty of that nice, spring day.
She saw Adam's house coming up ahead, and reflected that he hadn't been at school today. Principal Tater had mentioned him calling in sick; Echo somehow doubted that, since she knew Adam rarely missed a day to get the opportunity to teach his students, and certainly wouldn't let a mild sickness stop him. She was about to walk up to his door and see if he was in—she had no idea why she was so concerned—but stopped when she saw another person approach the house.
Something about the man made Echo wary, so rather than calling out, she stepped behind a large tree that was located close to the house and watched suspiciously as he rang the doorbell, shifting from one foot to the other.
Mrs. Young answered the door, and seeing the man, she went very, very pale. Echo was close enough to see her eyes widen in alarm, and her hands and legs start to tremble.
"Rachel," the man said breathily, "Rachel, please. Let me talk."
Mrs. Young didn't respond, too shocked to reply. The man grabbed her hands and she tensed, trying to pull away, but he didn't let go.
"Rachel, listen to me! I'm so sorry for everything! I screwed up, I know! But you have to understand. You know I was going through hard times—"
"You were drinking, Michael! As if that wasn't bad enough, but then you just left, with no word of explanation!" Adam's mother shouted, speaking for the first time. "You have no idea how much you hurt us! Ivy was broken when you left. She closed herself up; she doesn't let anyone in anymore. And what you did to Adam—" She broke off, her eyes closing.
Echo felt her blood chill. What had this man—his father, no doubt—done to Adam?
"I know. I know what I did was wrong. Please, give me another chance." Michael reached his hand up to her face, fingers reaching out to caress it. "Another chance, please! I promise—"
"GET AWAY FROM MY MOTHER!" Adam was suddenly standing in between them, his body acting as a shield for his mom. Echo saw his expression and froze in shock; his face was a mask of cold fury, hard and unforgiving.
"Adam!" His father broke into a small smile. "Oh, son, it's been so long."
The boy didn't say anything. He was scowling, demeanour strong and icy. Michael's smile faded.
"Come on, son. You must be happy to see me, after so many years! I'm your father!"
Echo was disgusted to hear the man say the words as if it was Adam's fault that they hadn't seen each other in so long.
Adam spoke, voice laced with venom. "You are not my father. You are a disgraceful, cowardly, snivelling excuse of a man who I have the misfortune to be related to. If you're wise, you will leave this house, this town, this country, and never return again."
Michael was stunned; he clearly hadn't expected this sort of reaction from his own son. He opened his mouth, but noticed Adam's steely glare. Even he couldn't best his own flesh and blood. Defeated, he turned and slunk away.
Adam didn't relax until his father had gotten out of sight down the street. He turned to his mother, who was sobbing quietly, utter heartbreak and pain on her face. Echo could see that same pain and loss on her friend's face, even deeper than that of his mother.
"Come on, mom," he murmured, putting a gently arm around her shoulders, "Let's go inside. I'll make you a bowl of your favourite soup, okay?" He guided her inside and paused for a second before going inside himself.
In that moment, Echo saw a large tear emerge from his eye and crawl down his face.
The next morning, Echo was still reeling from the confrontation that had taken place the previous day. She searched Adam's face for signs of its effects, sitting in his class the period before lunch, and saw large bags under his eyes, mussed hair, and an unusual lack of enthusiasm that he portrayed while teaching.
When the bell rang for lunch, in the mad rush for the door, Echo stayed behind, waiting for a chance to speak to her friend. She had to be patient for five minutes as he helped a girl out with the latest lesson.
Adam finished speaking and after saying goodbye to his student, he sat down heavily in his chair, and ran a hand through his hair, pressing his face into his other hand. Echo approached his desk and cleared his throat; he looked up.
"Oh, hi Echo," he said dully. "Do you need anything?"
Where was that spark of life? That ever-present—until yesterday—energy that set the person that was Adam Young? Echo found herself missing the old him and wished desperately that she could bring it back.
"Adam," she said gently, sitting on a stool next to him. "I need to ask you something." She took a deep breath. "I was walking home yesterday, and I saw you and your mom…and that other man."
A maelstrom of emotions flickered across his face; anger, sorrow, helplessness, pain. When he spoke again, his voice was even, cool.
"I don't want to talk about it."
Echo sighed; as much as she hated to pressure him, she knew he needed to get this out. "Adam!" she exclaimed. "Please, talk to me. You're hurting, man! You need to let everything out. I want to help." She blushed slightly as she realized how passionate she sounded—and that she was holding onto his hand, fingers laced in his. She didn't let go.
Adam stared at the table, eyes glazing over. Then he looked up at her.
"I was six," he began, and Echo saw that he was starting his story. "I was six, when it first started. Dad was usually such a good person. He would always bring us little trinkets from store, give us piggy-back rides, cook dinner, put us to bed…everything a father should do. But two months after I turned six, he started to change." Adam swallowed.
"Every night, he would come home stumbling and in a daze. I knew even at that age that he was drunk. At first, he was fine; he would come home intoxicated and then go to his room and sleep. We were worried, but we thought it wouldn't get too serious. Mom figured that she could take him to a doctor if things got real bad. But then, one night, about four months before my seventh birthday, it happened.
"He came home more drunk than he'd ever been. He was nearly dead on his feet. Mom knew that this addiction had gone too far and told him she'd take him to the doctor the next day. He insisted he didn't need to go, but Mom said that he did. He didn't like that, and being in the drunken state he was, he took out his anger on her. He—he took a lamp and—and threw it at Mom. She fell over, and I saw blood coming out of her arm. I was terrified, hiding behind the couch, watching. I was so scared, Echo. But then, he was going to hurt Mom again, so I came behind the couch, ran to him, bit him hard on the leg, and hit the place behind his knee, where I knew was especially sensitive. I was little, though, so even if it hurt, it didn't stop him."
Echo closed her eyes, squeezing Adam's hand as hard as he was squeezing hers. She didn't know what to say.
"He glared at me, and took the lamp again. I was now his new target. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. No one to save me."
Adam stopped again, and this time, he could barely continue. Echo was going to tell him to stop; this was much too painful for the both of them. But he kept speaking, voice raspy with emotion.
"He started to beat me. I curled up in a ball, and eventually passed out. When I came to, I was in the hospital with Mom and Ivy. They said I was lucky to have survived." The boy lifted up a corner of his shirt and Echo gasped in shock. The skin there was bruised; purple and black and blue splotches were dotted everywhere.
"I lived, but I still bear the marks that he gave me. I have them everywhere. I learned that Dad was gone; he'd left late at night. Mom and Ivy were broken. They didn't come out of their rooms for two weeks. I was left with shopping and cooking, which I managed, and there was enough money for me to use. But people were getting suspicious as to why a six year-old boy was doing that kind of work. Soon, though, Mom snapped out of it and started doing everything again, but I never lost that sense that I was now responsible for my family. When Dad had left, my childhood had ended. So I threw myself into my schoolwork, surpassed all my tests and exams, graduated high school and university, and became a teacher. I can support my family now, and we're all happier. Until yesterday, that is."
Echo was speechless. "Oh, Adam," she whispered, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. "I'm so sorry."
Adam glanced at her face, went still, then reached out and wiped her tears away using the pad of his thumb.
"Don't cry, Echo, please. I hate seeing you so sad." Echo couldn't help laughing.
"Look at me," she mumbled. "You're the one with the sad story, and I'm the one being comforted."
"Not true," Adam countered, and for the first time, he smiled, albeit sadly. "You have helped. I feel a bit better now. Thank you."
"You're welcome. And Adam, if you need help with anything," Echo said, looking into his eyes, "Come to me. Do you promise?"
Adam's returning smile was like a ray of sunlight on a cloudy day. "I promise."