tj_teejay: (Chris RTWM)
[personal profile] tj_teejay
Characters: Adam Rove and Helen Girardi
Rating: PG
Genre: Gen
Summary: Adam and Helen in Art class for the first time after his break-up with Joan
Character Age: 17 and, uh, 45-ish?
Joaniverse: TV show
Author's Note: Thanks go out to [profile] irish_turkey for the pointer



Helen Girardi pressed her palms together at chest level in front of her, then opened her arms again. "That's your homework assignment, please bring back your drawings next week for me to assess."

She looked around at her students, meeting mostly eager eyes. One student she tried very hard not to look at—Adam. She had stolen secret glances at him during the lesson when he wasn't looking. Which hadn't been difficult, because he'd tried to avoid looking at her just as much as she was doing right now.

He'd kept his head bowed and had listlessly sketched an outline on the white paper she had handed out. His usual fervor when it came to creating art was absent, and Helen knew exactly why.

This was hard. She didn't know if she could do it. As a teacher, she had to remain objective, had to judge her students' work without personal preference or bias, had to treat them all the same. But how could she when this boy had torn her daughter's heart in two? When he had done the unimaginable—cheated on her daughter with another girl? It still sent bile rising up her throat, even thinking about it.

The bell rang and all the students swarmed into the hallway. All except one. Adam lingered in his chair, then hesitantly took his messenger bag and—

She looked up and a little jolt shot through her when she realized he was walking toward her. What should she say to him?

"Mrs. Girardi?" he asked carefully, barely audible.

It wasn't lost on her that he wasn't calling her his usual 'Mrs. G.'.

She cleared her throat. "Yes, Adam?" Somehow it sounded an octave higher than her usual voice.

"I, uhm... I..." He swallowed. "I wanted to apologize."

"Adam, I don't know if this is a good time..."

"I know. I know you don't like me much right now, ('Understatement,' Helen thought), and I know you probably don't wanna talk to me, but please," his eyes met hers, and she saw the desperate plea in them, "just hear me out."

She drew in a breath, then nodded wordlessly despite her anger and resentment.

"I know it doesn't mean much, but I never meant for this to happen. I realize now that I've made a colossal mistake, and I know I can't take it back, but I wish... I really wish I could. I'm so, so sorry. I've done a lot of thinking, and... if there's any way I can make it up to you, I will."

She frowned as he added, "And if I can't, then at least I hope one day it'll be okay again."

She looked into his eyes, and he looked right back at her. He was strangely stoic and confident. Had he grown a backbone?

She was trying to find the right thing to say. Deep down, she didn't want to acquiesce. "I wish I could tell you what you want to hear, Adam. I wish there was a way I did not have to choose sides, but Joan is my daughter, and I can't... I can't think of a way for you to make it up to any of us right now, except maybe leave Joan alone."

He nodded, his eyes clouding over with new sadness and regret. "I understand, Mrs. Girardi. I'll..." and this he had dreaded to say the whole time, "I'll quit Art class, if that'll make it easier."

'No,' she thought immediately, but didn't say it out loud. Another small voice inside her head piped up and breathed a sigh of relief. It would certainly be easier if she didn't have to look at him, interact with him almost every day.

Adam had already turned to go, and she knew she couldn't just leave the conversation hanging like this. "Adam?"

He turned back around.

"You're not quitting Art class if I can help it. Life's not supposed to be easy."


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