Title: I'll Always Be There
Rating: T, for mild swearing and mentions of promiscuity.
Summary: Set during Season 3 after Pride Pt. 2. Emma and Sean's relationship hits a rough patch when it seems like all odds are against them. Will they let these circumstances break them, or trust in their love for each other? AU (No major spoilers, to my knowledge.)
Author's Note: I posted this story quite a few years ago, and it has now been revised. I have fixed any inconsistencies that I noticed, but otherwise the story and plot have not changed.
Disclaimer: I do not own Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Emma almost tore the hinges off the basement door as she slammed it shut behind her, ignoring the muffled protests from her mother as she stormed down the stairs. Emma and Snake just had an argument- the second one that day- and her thoughts were reeling as she reached the bottom of the stairs. She kicked off her shoes angrily and collapsed on her bed, burying her face in her pillow as she fought the urge to scream.
As angry as she was, a large part of her felt guilty for behaving the way she had upstairs. A lot changed since Snake started chemotherapy; he was in the hospital often, and the consequential sickness and fatigue resulting from the chemo was difficult on him. Because of the changes, Spike was as busy as ever with work and taking care of Jack, and Emma found herself doing all she could to make things comfortable for her parents. She knew the less stress Snake was under, the better he would feel, and hopefully it would lead to a speedy recovery. Emma honestly wanted nothing more than for that to happen. However, there were days when the fatigue and the sickness took its toll, and he would be irritable over things that he usually wouldn't be upset about. It turns out that this was one of those days.
Emma raised her head from the pillow and turned around on the bed, shouldering off her backpack as she sat up. Moving a few strands of hair out of her face, she thought back to the argument she'd just had with Snake while she fished through her bag for her homework. Normally she would have shrugged off the argument by now, but this was one topic that she knew Snake's illness had nothing to do with.
The entire argument started when Emma asked if Sean could come over for dinner. While her mother had no problem with it, Snake used every excuse he could think of to keep it from happening. Just thinking back on it brought a frown to her face.
"Hey mom." Emma greeted as she walked through the front door. Moving through the living room into the kitchen, she saw Spike rummaging through a cabinet as Jack sat in his high chair, an assortment of toys in front of him. After kissing him on the cheek, she leaned against the fridge.
Spike eventually found what she was looking for and set it down on the counter before turning and giving her a smile. "Hey honey. How was school?"
"It was good." She replied as she opened the fridge and grabbed a soda. Fidgeting with the drink, she looked at her mother out of the corner of her eye. "Hey mom? Since it's Friday, is it alright if Sean comes over for dinner tonight?"
Spike looked at her and smiled before walking over to sit next to Jack. "Sure Em, that's fine with me. You can call him and tell him we're having pizza. I'm assuming he's okay with that?"
Emma nodded excitedly and moved to give her mom a quick hug. "Thank you! And yeah, pizza sounds great. Sean doesn't really like fancy much."
Smiling, Emma turned quickly, almost running into Snake in her haste to get to her room. Smiling sheepishly at him, she muttered a quick apology, which he brushed off with a laugh.
"Whoa there, where are you off to in such a hurry?" He asked, ruffling her hair playfully as he moved past her to greet Spike.
"She's just going downstairs to call Sean. He'll be joining us for dinner." Spike replied and stood to give him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll order the pizza once I know what time he'll be here."
"Wait a second, Spike." He brushed a hand over his head and looked between his wife and daughter. "How come no one told me about this? I expected that we would have a nice, quiet family dinner together."Hints of frustration laced his tone, and Emma and Spike turned to face him.
Spike, who had picked out dishes and was setting the table, looked up and gave him a reassuring smile. "It can still be a quiet family dinner, Snake. Sean typically keeps to himself anyway."
"And since I know you'll probably want to go to bed early, I was going to ask if I can go to Sean's to watch a movie tonight. I'd be back by my curfew." Emma offered as she moved back into the kitchen, looking from Snake to her mother for permission. She could hear the frustration in his voice and knew it was not a good sign.
"You're not going over there. I also don't want him coming over tonight, so just tell him you will see him another time." Snake replied before turning away from the two and walking over to sit at the table.
"What? Why not?" Emma's voice held some edge to it as she looked at her step-father, honestly curious as to what the problem was. It wasn't as if Sean was unbearable to be around. On the contrary, he was quite a gentleman when he graced the Nelson-Simpson household with his presence, and her parents knew that.
Snake pinched the bridge of his nose as he replied. "Because I think he has a bad influence on you. His grades are dropping, he's been seen hanging around Jason Hoggart…"
"He does not hang out with Jay." She said with conviction. This wasn't the first time she'd heard Snake say that, and it was really grating on her nerves that he was constantly accusing him of that. "Jay came up to Sean once to ask him something and Sean said no. And as for his grades, there could be a lot of reasons for that. He's just been a little behind."
"It doesn't matter Emma. For the last time, no; he can't come over for dinner and you can't go over his house." He turned away again, this time focusing his attention on Jack, ignoring the looks Emma was giving him. Emma turned to Spike, silently pleading with her to intervene, but the older woman just shook her head and sighed, looking torn as she glanced between her daughter and husband.
"Mom, please? This isn't fair. I do a lot around here for both of you. Don't you think that Sean staying for dinner isn't too much to ask?"
Spike gave her a sympathetic look and walked over to sit next to her husband. Snake looked as if he already had an answer to any retort she was about to come up with, and Emma crossed her arms at the look on his face.
"Snake, he is her boyfriend. And she has been a great help around the house, especially with Jack. And she hasn't been able to see any of her friends outside of school this week—"
Snake interrupted her. "She's been a great help because she is supposed to help out. Those are her chores. And don't you have to do Caitlyn's hair tonight for the banquet she's attending? Who is going to take care of Jack if both of you are gone? I just got back from the hospital a little while ago. Someone else has to be here."
"But he's at the age that he doesn't even wake up in the middle of the night anymore." Emma said, glancing at her little brother as he happily knocked one of his toys against the table of his high-chair. She then looked at her watch, noting that it was about 5pm. "Besides, I'm going to be back by 8. That's the time that mom will be leaving, so I'll be here to help you out."
Snake looked at Emma for a few moments before letting out an exasperated sigh. "Emma, I'm just not in the mood for him coming. You'll see him some other time." He got up and walked out of the kitchen, effectively ending the discussion.
Emma looked at her mother again, and the woman gave her a sympathetic look that she ignored. Turning on her heel, she made her way to the basement without another word.
Emma decided to try to calm down. There was nothing she could do about it. She would just have to call Sean and tell him she would see him another day. She wasn't sure how he would react, but if he felt anything like she did right now, he wouldn't be thrilled. They literally hadn't seen each other outside of school in a long while, and it was putting a strain on them, especially with Jay paying extra attention to Sean recently.
She grabbed the phone off her bedside table and dialed his number. He answered after a few rings, and just hearing his voice brought a smile to her face. He could always make her smile, and that was one of the things she really liked about him and their relationship.
"Hey Em. So, what time should I be over for dinner?"
When he asked, she paused for several seconds, not trusting her voice. She felt tears well in her eyes and took a deep breath. She didn't know why she was so emotional, but the last thing she wanted was for Sean to hear her cry. It would just make him worry about her, and he honestly had enough to worry about in his life.
Sean stayed silent as he listened to her shaky breathing. That was enough for him to know the answer. He gave a heavy sigh and nodded, forgetting that she couldn't see him. He had a pretty good idea why she was upset now, and what the cause of it had been. Mr. Simpson was cordial to him most of the time, but he could tell that the older man was not as giving as Emma when it came to second chances, or in his case, third or fourth chances.
He heard her sniff on the phone before whispering, "I'm sorry."
"No, don't be sorry, Em." He told her, maneuvering the phone in his hand so he could grab his keys. "Don't worry about it. I gotta go, though. I'll talk to you later, ok?"
"Sean—" He hung up, wincing when he heard her voice on the other end. He hadn't meant to cut her off, but what he was planning would well make up for it.
Putting his hoodie on, he jiggled the keys loudly for Tracker to hear before opening the front door and leaving the house.
Sean arrived at Emma's house in 20 minutes, making sure to make as little noise as possible as he made his way around the house to where the basement window was. The last thing he wanted was for her parents to see him. He had a feeling it would cause a lot more problems if he were caught.
He knelt in front of the window and gave it a gentle nudge, sighing in relief as he felt it open a few inches. He hadn't even thought about what he would do if the window had been locked, and he was just thankful that Emma always kept her window open in the spring.
Opening it all the way, he peaked inside and saw Emma lying on her bed, her back turned to him. Her radio was on low, and he heard her humming softly to the melody. She was so beautiful to him, and he took a few more moments to look at her before he swiftly climbed into the room.
When he turned around, he saw that she was still in the same position. Whether it was because of the music or she was lost in her own thoughts, she hadn't heard him come in. Using it to his advantage, he quietly walked over to her bed and lay down next to her.
Emma, thinking it was her mother, stayed still and kept humming. She really wasn't in the mood to talk about what happened earlier, and the sooner she told her mom that, the sooner she could be left alone again. Sean got closer and wrapped his arms around her waist, a wide grin on his face. Emma gasped in shock, but calmed down when she heard muffled laughter behind her. She turned around in his arms and smiled excitedly.
"Sean!" She whispered as she hugged him tightly. He kept his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
"What are you doing here? If Snake comes down here and sees you here, he'll flip."
"Then let him flip." He said with a scoff. The last thing he cared about was how Archie Simpson would feel. "As much as you try to hide things, I know when you're upset. I couldn't just sit home and not do anything, so I decided to come by and cheer you up."
Emma smiled at him. "Well, I'm definitely cheered up. Thanks Sean."
She leaned in and kissed him gently, enjoying the fact that she could finally kiss him without the prying eyes of Degrassi constantly watching them, not to mention Snake's constant presence.
When she pulled back, they sat up on the bed.
"Sean, I'm glad you came over, but what are we going to do? It's not like we can make any noise. My parents are right upstairs."
He shrugged, taking one of her text books off the bed and flipping through aimlessly. "I don't know what we can do, but whatever it ends up being is going to be good. We're finally alone together."
He lay the book on his lap and turned to her, a serious look on his face. He lifted his hand and caressed her cheek. "Honestly, I could just sit here and look at you for the rest of the night."
They both kept a straight face for a few more seconds until Emma could no longer hold it and burst out laughing.
"Oh Sean, you're such a flirt." She commented sarcastically in between giggles. Sean laughed harder and tried to dodge the pillow she had thrown at him. They didn't even notice how loud their laughter was until there was a knock on the basement door...