Gone :: Sean/Jimmy

Notes: Man, no love for Alex/Sean? Then this next one is DEFINITELY gonna bomb. I had to try out at least one male/male pairing, even though I really have no skill for it at all. So here's this. Like many of the others, this one sort of weaves within the canon and puts a twist on seasons 1-4. I promise that I am working on some crack pieces involving newer characters, but what can I say? Seasons 1-5 are where my heart truly lies. And I realize Sean is way over-represented throughout this whole project but um... yeah. I love Sean. I write about Sean. It's a tough habit to break.

:: o :: o :: o ::

When I left Degrassi, I never thought I would see him again. It was heartbreaking at first. He wanted me to write letters. He wanted to come visit during summer break. He wanted us to stay friends. But I couldn't let that happen. I realized it was all for the best that Jimmy and I were separated. When I left, I would never see or know Jimmy Brooks ever again. When I left, our secrets would leave with me. And that was the way it had to be.

I can still remember meeting in the park after school, playing basketball, trading pudding cups. All the simplicity and innocence of being seventh-grade boys. At that age it's hard to admit you need someone. But you do. And I did more than most. With Jimmy I didn't have to put up a front, play it tough, play the role of Sean Cameron Hard Ass Extraordinaire. We could just play ball. Be kids. Be friends. He made me feel normal. And safe. He gave me an excuse to hide from my wreck of a home life for a few extra hours. There was almost always no one waiting at home for him in that big, empty apartment, so I guess he probably liked having someone to be with, too.

We started spending time in the ravine. Behind the trees. Where people couldn't see us. Where we didn't have to be what people wanted us to be. We liked each other. Neither of us had kissed a girl before. It was easy to decide to kiss each other. Experimenting, I guess. Practicing. We knew it wasn't what boys were supposed to do, but that made it that much more fun.

It had to be a secret. But it was a special secret. An exciting secret. It was my favorite secret.

But when I left for Wasaga, I let those secrets fade into obscurity. I pretended our secrets had never happened. I pretended we had never been friends. I pretended I never liked Jimmy Brooks.

When I left my parents and returned to Degrassi the next school year, I was terrified. I didn't want to face those memories. I was embarrassed. What would people say? I liked girls now. I kissed girls now. I was supposed to be kissing girls, after all. I didn't want to be humiliated by some stupid little phase.

Jimmy had a girlfriend now. Ashley Kerwin. That made it even more embarrassing. Jimmy had moved on just fine, hidden our secrets with no problem at all. He didn't even seem upset about the letters I'd never sent. When he tried to extend his friendship and welcome me back, I went back to playing an act. Hard-as-Nails Tough Guy Cameron again. I didn't need anyone's friendship. I didn't need Jimmy.

And that's how it was, from then on. Enemies. We couldn't trust each other. We couldn't be around each other. And yet, the harder I pushed him away, the more I missed him. When I kissed Ashley and rubbed it in Jimmy's face, I knew, deep down, that I only did it because I wanted him to think of me again. The more I pretended I hated him, the more I realized I just wanted to be his friend again.

For years this agony went on. My silent denial. And then Rick Murray brought a gun to school. And then everyone's lives were different, forever.

My palms were sweating as I clutched the latest DJ Mad Bullets CD in my hands, turning the corner of the cold, sterile hallway. Even from several feet away, I could see the explosion of color through Jimmy's open door. His hospital room was suffocating in bouquets of flowers, the d├ęcor of well wishes from dozens of visitors. Jimmy had so many friends who had already been to see him. I felt like I wasn't one of them. I felt like I had no right to be there.

"Sean?" called Jimmy's tired voice. "Sean Cameron?"

It was too late to turn back. My feet had already brought me to the threshold, forced to gaze at the laid-up body of the boy who'd been my first kiss and then disappeared from my life.

I could feel sweat collecting on my forehead as I fondled the CD case and hesitated in the doorway. "I um... I wanted to make sure you were okay," I said, stupidly.

Jimmy cracked a smile. Weakly, he opened his palms to indicate the array of medical equipment that surrounded him, the bandages and slings that held his body together, the dismal scene of being hospital-bound for God knew how long. "Bullet in my spine," he chuckled. "Can't feel or move my legs, maybe I never will again. Yeah, Sean, I'm okay."

Once I felt tears prickle in my eyes I knew I couldn't turn back now. I couldn't play tough, I couldn't play it off like I was just another kid at school who was sad about the idea of Jimmy Brooks because I was really, truly sad about the person Jimmy Brooks. The person I'd once known. The person I once thought about all the time. The person I let go.

I shut the door and moved to the chair beside his bed. I reached out, without even thinking about it, and put his hand in mine. An act of affection that would have been unthinkable, before this one weird sad moment. But after what had happened... no. I wasn't going to let my hang-ups keep me from holding Jimmy's hand.

"What the fuck, man," I breathed, trying not to cry. "I'm... I'm so sorry."

Jimmy stared at me. He seemed sort of... quiet. Defeated. I couldn't even imagine what he'd been through. "Don't," he said. "I'm tired of hearing it. I appreciate it, man, I do... but that's what they all say. Everyone comes in here and they cry and they give me more fucking flowers and they tell me how sorry they feel for me. I'm sick of it. Why can't I just feel sorry for myself? Why is everyone else trying to do it for me? What else do I have left but my right to be pissed off and self-pitying? And people try to outshine you on even that."

He sighed, sadly, and looked down at our hands. His face was cool, his words sarcastic, but he squeezed my hand like it was the only thing holding him to this world.

"Come on, Cameron," he continued with a dark smile. "I thought of all people, you'd be one I could count on not to come in here all emotional."

I let myself laugh. We let ourselves laugh about it. Just a little. It was all so impossibly, inconceivably, irreparably sad, that it felt safe to laugh. Nothing, not even the darkest humor, could make it worse, after all.

I thought of a thousand petty things I wanted to say to him. How sorry I was that I'd been such a dick when we were fourteen; how stupid it was to shut him out all these years; how I missed him so much it was retarded; how I would give anything to have done things differently.

But you can't say those things to someone who was in Jimmy's position. You can't sit there and feel sorry about you and how bad it makes you feel. He was right; everyone telling him how sorry they were wouldn't do a damn thing for him.

Then, I was crying. It couldn't be stopped. "Do you ever wish you could go back..." I struggled to say. "And do things over again?"

Jimmy eyed me darkly. He wasn't crying.

"Sometimes," he said. His voice was cold and empty. "Only from the time I wake up in this bed, til the time that the drugs they give me finally knock me out at night. And sometimes in my dreams."

At this I choked just a little. I wiped my tears with my sleeves and snorted the dripping snot back into my nose.

"You just don't really know what you have until it's gone," he continued.

I nodded, making a sincere attempt to keep a strong and straight face.

He was talking about his legs. But I was thinking about us. How I let Jimmy go so easily, for all the wrong reasons, until we were so far away from each other that it took bullets and blood for me to come to terms with the feelings I'd once had for a boy.

Those secret kisses in the woods were only soft, gauzy memories. The images of Rick's blood soaking my clothes and watching Jimmy unconscious on a stretcher were fresh as ever. We held hands and sat quietly, hospital equipment humming around us. I felt hollow. But there was nothing I could do. What was gone was gone.