Disclaimer : I don’t own any of the characters from All American - they belong to their creator. I do own Alex Adams.
THE WAY GOD MADE ME
Asher Adams has a well kept secret from his friends, not even Jordan his best-friend knows it. Asher had slowly lost his hearing from the age of six years old to being almost completely deaf in his right ear and mostly deaf in his left ear. His older sister had learned sign language with him so that he wouldn't be alone, but she'd also gone with him to every appointment out of curiosity. Alex was the one to suggest that Asher go to speech therapy, which now at the age of seventeen was why his friends had no idea. Asher's hearing-aids were next to invisible when he was at school or playing football, while at home with just his sister things were different. There were days when Asher flat out refused to wear them, so he wouldn't talk to their father and today seemed to be one of those days.
Alex tapped Asher on the shoulder before he looked at her as she sat down. 'Ash, what is it?' Alex signed as she watched her little brother from across the kitchen counter.
'It's nothing. I don't know,' Asher signed back, he definitely wasn't in the mood for talk if their father was home.
'Dad's gone. He left early this morning if that's what you're worried about,' Alex smiled as she signed to him before she was watching him dig a small carry case from his pocket.
'Are you sure?' Asher signed, raising his eyebrow at her as he held onto the case watching as his sister nodded at him. Once he realised that Alex wasn't lying, Asher put both the hearing aids in and waited for his ears to adjust again. "When's he due back?"
"Couple of days. Now do you want to tell me what's up?" Alex questioned, reaching for Asher's hands to stop him from signing again.
"I don't know. Okay? Dad's been acting weird," Asher muttered, Alex sighed as she stood up again and walked around the kitchen counter and wrapped her arms around him.
"I know, look don't worry about it. I'll tell you what I'll meet you after school today and watch practice...I could be late though," Alex said as she rested her head on top of Asher's before she kissed the side of his head.
"Don't turn up. You can be embarrassing," Asher stuck his tongue out at her and wrapped his arms around her hugging her from his seat.
"Me embarrassing? Never, it's dad you have to worry about, now go get ready for school," Alex laughed, before she was pushing him off the stool and towards the stairs to his room.
The end of the school day, Alex turned up to the end of practice in time to see Asher take a rather violent knock to the head. Alex waited a moment before Coach Billy Baker turned around and saw her standing leaning against the fence. Billy motioned for Alex to go to Asher as the teams medic went to him. Alex ran over to Asher and crouched beside him as he was moved onto a stretcher.
"Wait just a minute. I'm his sister, I need to see something," Alex spoke quickly and quietly to the two medics who nodded and set the stretcher on the ground again. "Take his helmet off for me, please?" Alex was signing as she spoke so that Asher knew what was going on. She didn't care that his friends, his team mates didn't know. 'I'm sorry kiddo,' Alex signed as Asher's helmet was taken off and she noticed some blood trickling down the side of his head from his ears.
'Alex? What's going on?' Asher signed almost clumsily as he looked at his sister before put his hand to his right ear and pulling it away again and seeing the blood.
“Alex, would you like to explain?” Billy questioned as the medics stood up and picked the stretcher up again carrying Alex off the field and towards the ambulance.
“Not now, I promise we will just not here,” Alex answered before she was following closely behind the medics who'd stopped when Asher had mumbled something to them. Billy watched closely as Alex started signing to Asher again. 'It's okay, I'll meet you there. Promise,' Asher nodded before he was loaded into the ambulance.
Forty minutes later and Alex was sitting with Asher in one of the curtained rooms in the emergency department. Initially they had said all he had was a concussion until Alex explained that Asher had Invisible-In-Canal hearing aids. Asher was laying with one hand to his ear in pain as Alex signed to him to try and keep him calmed down. As she was signing the ED doctor arrived to take a look at him.
'Asher, they need to look. It's okay,' Alex signed quickly as the doctor asked him to sit up. “Sorry, he's a little disorientated,” Alex said while also signing for Asher to sit up.
“That's quite alright. Could you tell me how long he's been deaf for?” the doctor questioned, Alex looked at Asher before she answered.
“Slowly since he was about six,” Alex answered, not bothering to sign as Asher was glaring at her and reading her lips at the same time. “At the current state since he was fourteen,”
“Okay, we're going to need to operate on your brother. As it seems as though the impact from the knock to his head has lodged one hearing-aid in his ear canal and shattered the other,” the doctor explained, Alex nodded she had a feeling something like that had happened due to the blood she'd seen. “Now are your parent's contactable?”
“When it comes to anything to do with Asher's medical needs I was put down,” Alex said as she pulled out the form their parents had signed the day Alex had turned 19. “It should be in his records,”
The doctor nodded before explaining that he would contact his ENT who worked in the hospital and organise for surgery. Alex signed to Asher who rolled his eyes at her before he was lying down again because he was dizzy. Alex sighed, smiling at him before she kissed his forehead and sat down in the chair and the two waited. Out in the waiting room Alex could hear voices that she recognised vaguely as being the Bakers. Alex tapped Asher on the shoulder to get him to look at her for a minute.
'It sounds like the Baker's are here. I'll talk to them...' Alex signed pausing for a minute as she waited to see what Asher had to say before she continued. 'Unless you want to after surgery?'
'After. I should have said something earlier,' Asher signed before he was turning away from her, Alex sighed and took hold of his hand squeezing it.
Alex knew why he hadn't told them, or anyone about being deaf – it wasn't that he was ashamed of it, it was mostly that he was scared that they'd treat him differently and that was something that he didn't want. To Alex, Asher was her little brother, and it was as simple as that. While they waited for both the ENT and the anaesthetist, Asher thought about what to tell his friends while Alex thought of how to tell them.
By seven o'clock that night, Asher was laying in the ICU with both of his ears being packed and bandaged. They were keeping him over night due to the concussion he'd also received during from the game. Alex wasn't planning on going anywhere, but they still had to explain to Billy what had happened and why Alex was so concerned. Alex looked at Asher as he woke up a little groggily and tugged at her hand, Alex raised her eyebrow at him, Asher simply yawned before signing to her.
'Are they still here?' Asher signed, questioning whether the Baker's had left the waiting room or whether they were still there.
'They're still here. Do you want Jordan or Coach Baker?' Alex signed back, Asher thought for a moment before deciding on who he wanted.
'Can I have both? Easier at once,' Asher signed, before moving to scratch behind his left ear but finding it hard because of the bandaging.
'Of course. I'll get them,' Alex signed before she disappeared from the room leaving Asher staring at the ceiling while he waited.
Alex walked from Asher's room in the ICU and headed towards the waiting room, the second Jordan saw her he jumped up wanting to know what was going on. Olivia looked at Alex and then behind her wondering where Asher was. Alex smiled at them before she stopped in front of Jordan and Billy. Laura tilted her head and looked up at the young woman, she hadn't moved from where she was sitting with Olivia and Billy.
“Alex, would you like to explain now?” Billy questioned, Alex folded her arms and shook her head it wasn't her place to say.
“No, Asher wants to be the one. Just please promise me this, you're not going to jump down his throat when he does,” Alex said looking at each of the Baker's individually before her eyes landed on Jordan who was now raising his eyebrow at her. “I'm serious Jordan. Believe me, this isn't going to be easy,”
“What? Why are you tell me?” Jordan questioned, running a hand over his face before Alex spoke again.
“Because, Asher wants to talk to you and your dad first,” Alex explaining taking a deep breath as she thought, well talk isn't exactly the operative word right now. She knew that Jordan hadn't been paying attention when she was signing to Asher hours earlier.
Billy and Jordan followed Alex back down to the ICU and into Asher's room both stopping short when they saw the teenager with bandages around his head. Billy and Jordan looked at one another before they looked at Alex who smiled at them before she walked around in front of Asher. Asher looked at Alex before realising that Billy and Jordan were in the room.
'Asher, talk to them. I'll interpret you know I will,' Alex signed her fingers moving rapidly as Asher nodded a little before his attention was on Billy and Jordan.
'So, I'm almost entirely deaf,' Asher signed waiting for Alex to start talking before he started again.
“Asher just said. 'So, I'm almost entirely deaf,',” Alex paused waiting for Asher to start again before she was talking as he was signing. “I have been since we were kids, it started slowly...” Alex paused as Asher had stopped signing and was looking at both Jordan and Billy. Jordan had turned away from Asher while Billy was watching the teenagers hands. 'Ash, relax it's going to be hard for him,' Alex signed before she watched Asher sign to her.
'This was a bad idea,' Asher signed, half speaking at the same time but his speech being broken due to not being able to hear himself. 'Tell them I'm sorry,'
“He said that he's sorry,” Alex said before she waited for either Billy or Jordan to say something. “You can speak you know. He can read lips, sometimes he just finds it easier to sign,”
“How did it happen?” Billy questioned, Jordan was still facing away from his best-friend, Asher mumbled something that Alex only just caught.
“Chronic ear infections, the hearing loss started around the time they started school at six,” Alex explained before Asher was signing again having been watching and reading her lips. “He says, 'I didn't say anything because I didn't want anyone to know, and...'” Asher suddenly stopped signing and closed his eyes he wasn't sure if he wanted them to know the next part. Alex nudged Asher, so that he opened his eyes again and looked at her watching as she signed. 'I'll tell them the rest if you want?'
'Can you? And make Jordan look at me?' Asher signed, before he was turning away from Billy and Alex.
“Jordan, he's still the same Asher. Still your best-friend,” Alex said as she moved from where she had been standing and made Jordan turn to face her. “Coach he's had moderate hearing loss in his left ear and severe hearing loss in his right ear since he was fourteen, before that it was gradual...it's been at the same level for the last three years,”
“Why didn't anyone say anything about this? Does the school know?” Billy questioned, folding his arms as he watched Jordan move slowly away. “Jordan. Stop, talk to him,”
“Well, dad prefers to pretend that nothing happened. And mom, well she left and had me sign a shit-ton of papers saying that I had the final say in anything medical to do with Asher,” Alex said pausing for a second to watch Asher who looked to be falling asleep from the anaesthetic. “No, the school doesn't know. Like I said, dad prefers to pretend that it doesn't exist. Look Asher still talks because he went to speech therapy every afternoon after it started,”
Billy nodded, taking in everything that Alex was saying to him and wondering if Jordan was actually listening. Jordan was listening, he just didn't know what to make of everything. Alex smiled at the two of them taking a deep breath before she sat in the chair beside Asher's bed again. Billy looked at Asher and then at his son before Jordan spoke directing his question at both Asher and Alex.
“Why didn't Asher say anything?” Jordan questioned as Asher looked at him and his hands started to move rapidly but sloppily.
'Slow down kiddo, I know why,' Alex signed grabbing hold of both of Asher's hands to stop him from signing again. “He was scared, and he didn't want to be treated differently. If he ever doesn't answer you it's because he honestly hasn't heard you and he's not ignoring you,” Alex added, she knew that Asher didn't always answer people and they got annoyed by it but he just played it off.
“He's my best-friend...I wouldn't have...” Jordan trailed off as Alex looked pointedly at him, he had been doing just that only moments ago. “Sorry...”
“Jordan, that's exactly what he was afraid of,” Alex told him before she quickly wrapped her arms around him and gave him a reassuring hug. “Give him and yourself a few days. We'll be home tomorrow...but he won't be back at school for a couple of weeks,”
“What hearing-aids does he use?” Billy asked, that was something that he'd been thinking about since Asher had said that he was deaf and that was an hour ago.
“Generally at school he uses what's called Invisible-In-Canal and Completely-In-Canal, which means that they can't really be seen unless you look hard,” Alex explained pausing to take a breath before she continued as he wore different ones again at home. “When it's just me and him he either doesn't wear them or wears receiver-in-the-ear,”
“What happened today?” Jordan asked, out of pure curiosity watching as Alex signed to Asher who nodded a little to hear before he closed his eyes.
“The knock to his head to lodged one hearing-aid in his ear and shattered the other so they had to operate to remove them both,” Alex told them before Asher sat up sleepily and wanted a hug from his sister. “Message him tomorrow, he needs to sleep now,”
Jordan nodded, before both he and his father left both saying good-bye to the Adams siblings. Jordan walked almost sombrely to Olivia who raised her eye-brow, why had the two of them been in with Asher for so long. Billy shook his head, it wasn't their place to say what had just been disclosed, but he had a feeling that Olivia would head to Jordan's room that night to talk to him. Billy was right, that night Olivia crept into Jordan's room and sat down heavily on the side of his bed.
“Liv?” Jordan yawned, switching on the lamp beside his bed.
“What did Alex have to say?” Olivia questioned, reciprocating the yawn as she looked at at Jordan. “How was Asher?”
“Don't know, okay I guess. He was half asleep,” Jordan lied, he didn't think he should say anything about Asher, as it had been hard enough for his best-friend to say anything.
“Well, did she say anything about when he was going home?” Olivia questioned, it was the first time in a long time that Asher had, had a concussion.
“Something about tomorrow, they're keeping him overnight,” Jordan answered as Olivia looked down at her phone, she'd sent Layla a message when they were at the hospital but hadn't heard anything. “Liv, leave it. Go back to bed,”
“Jordan,” Olivia whined throwing her head backwards before collapsing on his bed. “He's your best-friend and you're not saying anything,”
“Exactly, he's my best-friend. I'm not saying anything without his permission,” Jordan mumbled before kicking Olivia off his bed and out of his room.