A/N: This will be the last chapter! Thanks for reading and for the wonderful reviews everyone!!!
Disclaimer: The usual.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Sean wasn't sure if it was the clock he was hearing, or the metaphorical time bomb that would bring Jay down. He was starting to get nervous. What if something went wrong? What if Marco didn't get a chance to do what he was supposed to? What if…?
He took a deep breath and looked over at Emma. She gave him her trademark 'reassuring smile', and he forgot whatever he'd just been thinking about. He looked at the clock. 1:55. Any minute now…
Tick. Tick. Tick.
On cue, the TV monitor used for morning announcements switched on.
Mrs. Kwan abruptly quit teaching her lesson and turned around, giving the screen a puzzled look. She walked over to shut the screen off, thinking it was just a technical glitch. Suddenly, Jay & Spinner appeared on the screen. Everyone stared in stunned silence, and Mrs. Kwan's hand stopped in mid air.
"Don't mess with me man, nobody knows! Rick thought Jimmy pulled the prank."
"Yeah, because you made him think that!!"
"Look, I didn't tell Rick that Jimmy did it, I just happened to mention Jimmy.. and the prank.. within earshot of Rick, when I knew he was listening, and would maybe take it that way."
"Jay – don't you feel even a little bit guilty?? Jimmy had nothing to do with the prank. It was you, and it was me. And it's our fault that Jimmy will never walk again. He was my best friend Jay. And I got him shot. And paralyzed. And what about you? Sean was your best friend, and you almost got him killed. He left because of what we did! Don't you care!?"
Emma had come over to sit beside Sean, and she gave his hand a squeeze of encouragement. She knew that hearing these things about his former best friend couldn't be easy. In fact, she was having trouble hearing it herself, knowing what she'd done with Jay. She'd always known Jay was bad news, but she never thought he was.. evil. To actually hear him admitting it was something else entirely.
In another classroom in Degrassi, Jay sat in shock while he watched himself on the screen. All eyes were on him. His eyes were bugged out, his face red in shock, embarrassment, and rage.
"Man, Rick got what he deserved. So we dumped feathers and paint on him, so what. We didn't say 'here Rick, go shoot people'. I think it was the best idea I've ever had. What, did you forget what Rick did to Terri? As for Jimmy and Sean, yeah. I feel bad. But do you think I'd have planned the prank, or made Rick think Jimmy did it, or any of that if I knew for one second that the kid was psycho?"
"That doesn't change what happened Jay. It doesn't bring back Sean, it won't fix Toby's nightmares, it won't make Emma ok, and it sure as hell doesn't help Jimmy walk again. Look dude, I didn't put that stuff in your locker."
"You better be telling the truth. Because if I found out you did…."
He leapt out of his chair and rushed to the front of the classroom. As he frantically reached to shut the screen off, Mr. Simpson stepped in front of him, grabbing his shoulders.
"Oh no you don't Jay. I think we'd better go see the principal".
Jay looked around, frantic, and bolted for the door. When he got there, his escape was blocked by his classmates.
"Get the hell out of my way!" Jay screamed
"We've had enough of you trying to intimidate people, Jay. You've went too far this time. And you're not going to get away with it." Sean stepped forward from the back of the crowd, having made his way to Jay's classroom.
"Cameron! You did this!? I'm gonna kill you! I thought you were my friend!!!!"
Sean scoffed. "FRIEND, Jay? FRIEND? Friends don't get friends shot at!!! Friends don't let friends blame themselves for something THEY did! And, most importantly, FRIENDS don't mess with the people you love! No Jay, we're not friends. I don't think we ever were. You make me sick." Sean's voice was full of venom.
"I didn't force him to bring a gun to school, Sean. You think I would have done what I did if I'd known?" He looked around accusingly at the other students "You ALL treated him like shit, all of you! You ALL caused this, not just me!"
He looked past Sean, and saw Emma. "And you, Emma. You're the biggest hypocrite here. You rejected him! We all know how you shake your little ass in front of guys, make them think you give a damn, and then act as if they're repulsive. Wasn't it right after you rejected him that he went home and got he gun? Huh? Wasn't it?"
Emma looked away guiltily, knowing that, in part, what Jay had said was the truth. It was the thing she'd been battling ever since the shooting. Guilt. But she wasn't going to let Jay win.
"No Jay, the only person I found repulsive was you."
Jay glared at her.
By that time, Mr. Raditch had arrived. He spoke with barely restrained anger. "Mr. Hogart, Mr. Mason. You'll need to come with me. Students, say goodbye to Mr. Hogart & Mr. Mason, it's the last time they'll see the inside of Degrassi walls." He grabbed them, one by each arm. "Mr. Cameron, we'll talk about this tomorrow."
Before he was dragged away, Spinner spoke. "Sean, I just.. I just wanted to say thank you. For helping me get this out in the open." Sean nodded, but looked away. "And, Jimmy. Jimmy, I can never make this up to you. But I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry. I never meant for this to happen." He had tears running down his face, but Jimmy refused to meet his eyes. The rest of the students glared openly at Jay & Spinner. "I'M SORRY!" Spinner wailed as he was hauled towards the office.
Sean let out a deep breath. Marco met his eyes and nodded "You did what you had to do, man." The rest of the class murmured their agreement. He received a few pats on the back, but the last thing he felt like was a hero.
Emma could read him so well, she knew exactly what he was thinking. She met her step dad's eyes questioningly. After a quick nod of approval from him, she led Sean outside. They found themselves in the ravine, their spot. Neither of them said anything for a very long time. Suddenly, Sean started to weep. As his weeps turned into full-blown sobs, Emma pulled him into a hug. She pulled his head down to rest in her lap, and stroked his back and hair as he sobbed. Emma shed a few tears of her own, and they sat there, comforting each other as only they could. They cried for those the shooting had affected. They cried for Jimmy and Toby and for Rick's family, who would never understand what drove Rick to do what he did – for Terri, who had to deal with the fact she once loved the shooter who'd almost killed her friends. Sean cried for his lost friendship with Jay, and the fact that he might have killed Rick. Emma cried for her own mistakes, and the guilt that she may have played a part in Rick bringing a gun to school, and the turmoil it had put Sean through.
And yes, they even cried for Rick.
So many lives, senselessly ruined. And it all could have been prevented.
Sean and Emma sat, frozen in time, until the sun began to set. Sean looked at Emma "I never could have done this without you. I don't know how I'd have gotten through this."
"Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me. More importantly Sean, thank you for not giving up on me."
"That's my weakness." He smiled "I could never give up on you, even if I wanted to. And I promise you, now, after everything we've been through, that I never will. Forever Emma, this is forever."
Emma was crying now, but this time it was happy tears.
"You bet your ass it is." She pulled him into a warm embrace, and as their lips met, they both knew one thing for sure. Their ordeal was over, and they could finally start to put the shooting behind them.
Emma faded back into the present, and with a sigh, closed the yearbook.
"God, I can't believe that was already 10 years ago!"
"I know. Time flies, huh?"
She wiped away the tears that had fallen at the memories the book had brought back. 2004. That year was such a defining year in her life. She'd found out who she really was, and what she was made of. After the truth about Jay & Spinner came out, she'd begun to rebuild the tattered pieces of her life. She'd renewed her friendship with Manny & Liberty, and they still kept in touch today.
Last she'd heard, Jay was in and out of jail, mostly petty crimes, but she couldn't help but wonder how he would have turned out if he hadn't been expelled from Degrassi that day.
She sighed, and heaved herself up off the couch, which was not an easy feat for a woman who was 8 months pregnant.
Her husband smiled tenderly from across the room. "Need a little help there?"
Emma laughed. "No, I'm fine, though I should make you help me, since it's partly your fault I'm the size of a whale!"
Her husband came to her and gave her a hug. He glanced at the yearbook. "You know, after everything that happened, I don't regret a single minute of it, because it brought us here."
"Me too." She smiled "Now come here and kiss your whale/wife!"
He gave a deep chuckle. "That's why I love you. Always with the jokes. But for the record, you're always beautiful to me."
She smiled and swatted his arm. "Quit fishing for brownie points!"
With a laugh, they headed out the door to celebrate an anniversary.
It had been 10 years, but Emma Nelson-Cameron and her husband Sean never failed to celebrate the day, and remember the event, that had brought them back together.
A/N: More fluffiness! I know some of the stuff seems out of character, but I don't think any of these characters have been the same since the shooting. Also, hoped you liked the twist at the end, and thanks for reading!!!