Jake knew what he had coming, the moment he had begun driving home. He was almost tempted to just drive away, but even he was no coward to face his own transgressions. It was the reason people liked him, and respected his tendency to not complain or bother others with his troubles. It was the strongest trait from his personality, yet he knew he had to get everything off his shoulder. Not to his father at least, but someone he trusts and the only person that fit the bill was Alex.

"I was worried sick about you, young man. Why didn't you come home last night? I thought we agreed that you wouldn't go overboard." Mr. Melbourne grated out harshly and Jake peered up at his father in shame.

Mr. Melbourne had allowed Jake to take a shower, and gather his wits before confronting him about the night before. Jake had never been that reckless, but even as an adult, showing up in anger to drag your son away wasn't ethical. Jake knew that, and his Father knew that but all thoughts of senior year reputation flew out the window. Jake's best bet, was to face it head on because he had survived four years of high school. Not an easy thing for a teenager to do, but he had pulled it off until agreeing to go to that party. He had good motivation for accepting Alex's quid-pro-quo. He knew that he was doing it for the paper, and also for a friend that wanted him to break out of his shell. To socialize, and not graduate high school a lone wolf, like many had before him. Though not much could be said from Mr. Melbourne's perspective, for he was trained for sizing up and summarizing benders.

"I-I, I'm sorry, dad, I was just so tired and fell asleep at the house." Jake lied and his father could confirm it, for he was unconvinced.

"Too tired? Or too drunk?" Mr. Melbourne asked with a frustrated gaze and Jake opened his mouth to speak but the man interjected. "You know what? I don't want to hear it, you're grounded for the remainder of senior year." With that said, he stalked off and Jake huffed as his shoulders slumped in shame.

"I️ have the school dance." He called after his father, who sauntered into the kitchen with a disapproving look on his face. "And the paper, too!" Jake tried, groaning in frustration as his father ignored his incessant pleas for the superficial.

Jake hurriedly rose from the couch, following the man into the kitchen, heel to heel. "Do I at least get conditions?" Jake asked as Mr. Melbourne turned to face him—glass of orange juice in hand.

"Jake, I really don't have time for this right now."

"I have the school paper every other day, Dad, at least give me that. It's the only reason I went to this party anyway." Jake was silently pleading, and his father was willing to listen but too upset to do it in that moment.

"What?" Mr. Melbourne asked and Jake sighed, leaning against a nearby cupboard just left of the stainless steel sink.

"I wasn't gonna to go to this party, but Alex needed me to drive."

"Alex is not an invalid, Jake. Wasn't she perfectly capable of driving herself back home?" The man queried and Jake shrugged flippantly.

"She could have, but she's been my best friend for years, Dad, she just wanted me to go out and socialize with my peers." Jake excused and his father snorted, as if unconvinced.

"So you drank yourself to sleep, and forgot you had a phone?"

"I lost it ok, Dad? I admit that, but I've had a lot of pressure from the guys because they're expecting me to make the school paper a success." Jake argued and his father scoffed, sipping the yellow, rich liquid from his glass. "I'm sorry I didn't call, but I got carried away and I deserve to be punished but, what I️ don't deserve, is  have the one thing I'm good at taken away." Jake pleaded with the man, who knew how important the paper was to his son.

He knew that he'd have to offer Jake a chance, to show that he wasn't too pressured. That his oldest son wasn't spiraling into a depressed mess, just like his mother had before him. It hit Mr. Melbourne then and there, that he hadn't ever told Jake the truth about his mother. It was something he dreaded, but knew was coming anyway and he had to face it.

"You can do the school paper, but you'll give me updates every two hours. Besides, I have something to tell you and..." he paused as Jake's gaze narrowed, mostly in confusion for he hadn't missed the paper thing. "You're leaving for college in less than six months. Your Mother..." he halted again, sighing as he shook his head to clear his thoughts.

Jake's face soon fell in concern for his father, and he couldn't curse himself for that reaction. "If she has any pride at all, she won't show up." Jake assured his father, but the man wasn't convinced that it was so.

"She's gonna use that as leverage to force herself back in, but after so long I thought I could handle it."

Jake reached over and patted his father's shoulder, gently nudging the man out of his trance. "Hey, you've said it before, Dad, she has a lot to answer for and I'm willing to forgive her, but only if she doesn't stay after." Jake said and Mr. Melbourne gawked at him.

"She's your mother, Jake." He tried but Jake shook his head, not disagreeing but not agreeing with the fact either.

"She gave birth to me, but she better not think for one second, that she has a chance to be apart of this family anymore. She walked away, and didn't even have the guts to tell us goodbye!" Jake's voice rose a few octaves, and Mr. Melbourne glared at him.

"I'm sorry," Jake said after a deafeningly silent moment just scampered by, filling the room with tension.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about." Jake shifted uncomfortably on his legs, suddenly annoyed by the cold, hardwood floor beneath his soles.

"Since you're already mad at me, I don't see why I should object to hearing what you have to say."

"Don't be a smartass, Jake." Mr. Melbourne quipped and Jake frowned, roughly folding his hands across his chest as he faced the opposite direction to his father.

"Ok, Dad." Jake gave up being stubborn, for he realized he didn't have the right to in the first place. He messed up and both he and his father had to pay for it.

There were consequences that Jake didn't consider, for he thought his father had things under control. As it turned out, Jake knew in that moment that it was all an elaborate facade, painted by Mr. Melbourne. As a physician, he had responsibilities outside of the home and worrying about Jake, placed things in a different perspective. The absence of their mother, was already enough to almost rip them apart, now he had to worry that Jake was succumbing to the infestation. For he had handled everything well, and kept things in check. Stepped in and tried his best not to let his father down, for even as a boy, Jake knew his Mr. Melbourne needed him.

"Your mother didn't exactly just up and leave." He said, and Jake's brows furrowed in unabashed certainty.

"What does this have to do with my screw-up?" Jake asked and his father glared at him, then slammed his glass down on the counter.

"Dammit, Jake! Just listen to me." The man demanded and Jake felt his heartbeat racing in his chest, after feeling the vibrations of the man's outburst. "It has everything to do with your screw-up, because that's how I met your mother." The man admitted after keeping that life-changing detail all to himself, for years.

Jake then instantly recollected his father telling him, that he was a practicing psychologist. Which begged to question how Mr. Melbourne met Claudia Somers, and why it was such a big secret. Jake wasn't a fool, and he knew how to get a story even if he was just a teenager, sneaking around the family house.

"So it's true?" Jake asked and Mr. Melbourne shot him a querulous gaze. "Mom had depression?" Jake worried and his father shook his head.

"No, she was bipolar." He said and Jake chuckled, catching his father off-guard with the reaction. "I'm serious, Jake, it's not a fickle disorder." Mr. Melbourne explained and Jake scoffed, blatantly unconvinced.

"You think I'm becoming mom?"

"No," Mr. Melbourne answered, but it was a bold-faced lie and he knew it as well as Jake did.

"When you came to get me, Dad, I woke alone in a locked room. My keys, my phone and wallet, were in said locked room." Jake argued and his father grunted. "I may not remember the events that led to that, but at least I wasn't caught sleeping in the car by cops, or worse. Found wrapped around a tree at some random roundabout." Jake threw his hands up, utterly irritated but he knew he had to take it down a notch.

"You're 18, and drinking, Jake. You shouldn't have even indulged in that."

"You're right, I shouldn't have, but I'm safe and I'm ok." Jake felt the sting of the half-truth, for he had other issues to sort out. He didn't want to end the night on a bad note with his father, because all they had was each other. If Jake had learned anything from Mr. Melbourne, it was to always discuss things firsthand instead of hiding them.

Now, he had to worry about keeping his cringeworthy, little detail to himself. For he was sure that he'd engaged in raunchy sexual acts, that left aches and pains all over his body. Granted, it gave him a new feel and he tried savoring it, but the blockade of not knowing who the other individual was. Made Jake feel cheap, nauseous, and terribly uneasy.

"You've never done anything like this before, but if it happens a second time, we're gonna do more than just chat." Mr. Melbourne warned and Jake rose an eyebrow, but remained impassive.

"Thanks for listening, Dad." Jake smiled at his father, who was trying his hardest to remain stern with a frown but he caved. "But you know you still have to tell me what's going on, don't you?" Jake queried and the man sighed heavily in realization.

"You're right." Mr. Melbourne scowled, then leaned against the sink vanity, thrusting his hands down into his slacks. "When Claudia left, I thought about bringing her back."

"Why didn't you?" Jake asked.

"Because she got worse, and the only way to make sure she didn't hurt herself or anybody in the process, I let her have her freedom." He explained and Jake gawked at him, surprised and a little bit outraged.

"Let me guess, you didn't offer any help either? You just let her leave, without even making sure she was kept safe for the last five years?" Jake was appalled, but knew better than to make assumptions, so he bit back his words and glanced away from his father sheepishly.

"That's the thing, Jake, I went to see her after Micah started crying when she didn't return home that night. She said she wanted some freedom, because I crossed the line with her a few years back." The man added and Jake grew even more confused.

"What does that even mean?"

"It means, I was her psychiatrist, and the moment I started treating her, I started falling in love with her and that was against the ethics committee but i pursued it because I️ was sure I️ could Help her." The man said, utterly grieving the memories that flashed in his head. "We were young, and stupid so we thought it was ok. I studied medicine, and she went into law. After both you and Micah were born, she started displaying...symptoms."

"Then stop blaming yourself for the choices she made, because you made a choice to stick by her side but she refused to have it." Jake said firmly and his father peered at him, apparently deep in thought for the words rang true.

He had helped Claudia, in every way that he could, even after she asked him to leave her alone. To give her space and freedom, after taking away most of her life. For marrying her so young, and have her neglect her true problems to be his perfect wife.

"I have every right to blame myself, Jake, but thank you for showing me that what I did was stand by her." Mr. Melbourne patted Jake on the shoulder, then left the kitchen with not a second to spare between his long, heavy strides through the living room.

During the whole ordeal, Jake had completely forgotten that he was hungover still. The knocking in his head intensified, forcing him to rub at his temples roughly. Though his attempts to dismiss the bubbling in his stomach was futile, for it made his mouth bitter and dry.

"I'm so not drinking anything with alcohol, till the day I die." He mumbled to himself, then headed towards the fridge to find a distraction snack.


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