A/N: So slightly over a year ago I started watching Degrassi for a research paper on adolescent television shows and the portrayal of educational systems and content within them and I got kind of addicted. I didn't really need to for the paper, but I ended up watching nearly every episode for the first seven seasons (haven't seen any of eight-which I suppose makes this set in season seven technically). And I fell in love with Craig and Ellie. This story quickly popped into my head based on having paused and carefully read every track on Craig's CD and paying close attention to the fact that all songs were supposedly written during rehab. Also, a long time ago I spent some time working/observing in drug rehab centers so I took a few cues from common practices at them- things they emphasize.
This is a two-shot because this first part sets up the much increased Crellie of the second part.
Snippets of lyrics to Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" are italicized and placed at the start of both chapters.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Unfortunately.
If you said goodbye to me tonight
There would still be music left to write
What else could I do
I'm so inspired by you
That hasn't happened for the longest time
"No. No," Ellie said adamantly, "absolutely not."
Marco shook his head at his red-headed friend sitting to his right on their couch. "You just watched Love Actually, why can't you watch this too?" he said while gesturing with the DVD case in his hand.
Ellie scoffed in disbelief because she couldn't see a single similarity between the two. She fervently argued, "Love Actually has realistic, confusing, angst-ridden, messy relationships. The Notebook is un-realistic crap that that douche Nicolas Sparks wrote and failed to properly develop the plot or the characters. I can't believe you would even ask me to sit through that fake, fairy tale trash."
While Marco shrunk back in fear and resigned to not countering her argument since it wouldn't matter, Paige interjected, "Please. Who pays attention to the story line anyway? Ryan Gosling is hot. You need to stop thinking and pay attention to the hotness hun."
Ellie gave Paige her typical glare that said, "I think you're a moron-and I mean that in the offensive way, not the teasing-between-friends way." She got up and left their living room without another word until she yelled, "Goodnight saps," on her way upstairs.
Marco started the movie, but ten minutes into it he glanced at the stairs, stopped the movie, and glanced at the stairs again.
Paige immediately turned to him and questioned, "Bathroom break?"
"Food?" Paige interjected before Marco could continue.
"No," Marco answered and rushed on, "There's something I need to talk to you about."
"It can't wait?" She whined with a desperate gesture to the movie.
"I've hesitated long enough," Marco responded shaking his head. He sighed and explained, "It's about Ellie."
"Oh, I know. Someone-besides me- has really got to tell her that that black jumper makes her look pregnant," Paige interrupted yet again.
"Paige," Marco said firmly cutting her off before she could continue to ramble. Once her attention was once again on him and not off in Paigeland, he asked, "Could you just let me explain?" She rolled her eyes a little, but nodded anyway. He continued, "I was cleaning up a week ago trying to gather some of your stuff from around the house to help you prepare to move."
"That's so sweet," Paige began, but realized she had spoken again and her hand flew to her mouth in an "oh, whoops," type of a way.
"The box is in the dinning room," Marco told her while waving off her interruption. He returned to the topic explaining, "Well, I was at the table near the door where I always put our mail and separate it for everyone and I noticed some stuff behind it. There was a glove of yours and a scarf-must have fallen off of the coat rack over the table. There was also an envelope with Ellie's name on it. By the post date, it's been there for just over three months."
Marco paused and Paige was far too curious as to why any of this mattered to wait so she pressed, "What's the big deal? Was it something important for school or something? A missed bill?"
"It was from Craig," Marco admitted. By the return address it was from Craig while he was still in rehab and since Craig was now out of rehab he wondered if it had prompted if the fact that Ellie never responded to it-because she never got it-influenced where Craig went when he was out of rehab.
"So?" Paige questioned confused, "Craig and Ellie drama was so last year. They've both been moved on for a while."
Marco couldn't resist a snort of laughter at that. As if Craig or Ellie could actually move on-they were way too screwed up for that. Sure, he heard that Craig had recently started touring in Europe with Ashley, but he didn't believe his little pre-show, "I write and play for Ash" speech. He also knew better than to think that Jessie was really moving on for Ellie or that she had moved past Craig in her single time since Jessie. He tried to explain as simply as possible, "I don't think either of them will ever really be moved on."
Paige nodded slightly. She supposed she could understand that- Spin and Alex would always have a piece of her heart. But it was still just a letter so she asked, "So, what's the big deal?"
"Its-" Marco paused, he didn't really know how to explain it convincingly to Paige, but he was sure that whatever Craig wrote to Ellie mattered. He got up and raided their CD rack as he asked, "Did you ever listen to Craig's album?"
"He's kind of depressing, not really my taste hun," Paige dismissed.
Marco found what he was looking for and handed it to Paige as he sat back down on the couch next to her.
"He always was hot," Paige commented as she stared at the CD cover.
Marco rolled his eyes and took the CD, turned it over, and put it back in Paige's hand. He explained, "Since you haven't listened to it, can you at least tell me what you see in the song titles."
Paige humored him- it was faster- and took a minute to read the song titles and consider his question before responding, "Everyone he's kissed got a song. I want a song. I knew I should have kissed him."
"No see, I've heard other people we know say that too, but Craig didn't write a song for everyone he kissed, not if you listen to the songs, he wrote every song for Ellie," Marco explained. Paige still seemed confused though so he decided to take her through more of his thought process, "See, it starts out with the song he stole from Ash, 'My Window.' That's one of the only songs that's not about Ellie."
"Next there's 'Bruised, Not Broken,' it's about Ellie's cutting and Craig's experience with abuse and how it left them damaged, it left its marks, but not permanently so."
"And now you're going to explain to me how 'She is the Ash,' is about Ellie," Paige commented doubtfully.
"Yes," Marco countered, "It has the line, 'she is the Ash and she gave me the reason that I sing."
"Oh yeah, he's supposed to do it cause he loves her or something right, it's like his intro now," Paige said picking up on something that was true, but not Marco's point.
"No," Marco said shaking his head, "I don't think that's what he's saying. I don't believe he plays for Ashley. All his songs are for Ellie and if that's the case then the one thing that Ashley really gave Craig, when you think about it, she gave him Ellie- and I think that's what he's singing about."
"I know she's your best friend hun, but that doesn't mean everything is about her just because she had some tragic crush on the guy," Paige argued because she just didn't see how or why Craig would write an album of songs for Ellie- especially if he was touring with Ashley.
Marco rolled his eyes exasperatedly, "First, it wasn't a tragic crush, she's in love with him. And he loves her too. They're just too screwed up for it to be that simple. Second, this is about her. Look, the next song is 'Not Your Problem.' Remember how Ashley broke up with Craig through Ellie? It's about that mess." Marco could see that he was probably fighting a loosing battle so he rushed on and rapidly rambled, "And 'Red-Headed For Trouble'- in the notes it's called 'Your Song' and-" Marco haphazardly flipped through the album booklet and read random lines, "she is the embodiment of every cliché love song, and will mock them with you for days on end, her only response to "let's ditch" is "where to," she'll kick your ass at pinball if you let her, she'll always say the right thing, she'll always do the right thing, she'll be the coolest girl you'll ever meet, she'll have red hair…for trouble, she'll always be the one that you want and the one you're too scared to go after."
"Okay," Paige conceded, "So she has one song."
"No," Marco corrected, "She has them all." He rushed on again before Paige could interrupt, "The next one, 'The Dedicated Father,' that is about Joey and so far I haven't found a reference to Ellie, but I'm sure there's some secret message or something I'm missing. But then 'Thong Girl, Wrong Girl,' it is about Manny, but it's also about Ellie." He flipped through the booklet again and read, "It's the line, 'The thong girl was the wrong girl, a distraction from the right girl, the one that doesn't annoyingly rhyme girl.'"
"And how did Craig make a song called 'The Boiler Room' about a girl?" Paige challenged.
"That one is too hard to explain," Marco said waving it off with his hand, "Let's just say it's about his experience with drugs and how they alter him to be someone he doesn't like. And then there's this metaphor and- basically, Ellie is his savior from himself." Marco tried to explain what he believed the song was about, but honestly, there was some dark stuff and heavy metaphor to the song so he wasn't sure he had worked it all out, but he was pretty positive about the Ellie part.
"Kissing in the Stairwell' isn't that about you?" Paige questioned with a smirk.
"No," Marco denied, "I thought that too so naturally it was the first one I listened to, but it wasn't me. See, Craig's a smart guy and he would know what type of article to use. I kissed him in 'a' stairwell. Ellie kissed him in 'the' Stairwell." Seeing Paige's confusion Marco asked, "Remember that club sort of near campus called-"
"The Stairwell," Paige finished for him catching on.
"Right," Marco confirmed, "That's where Craig was performing when he overdosed, which he did minutes after kissing Ellie and telling her that he loves her."
"What?!" Paige exclaimed.
"She didn't want anyone to know," Marco explained, and knew that he probably should be saying it now, but these were dire circumstances. "Craig was high and Ellie didn't believe him. He told her he meant it- later at the airport- but she…I don't know. I guess it was just another thing that screwed them up and now she didn't get Craig's letter and I can't help but think that if he wrote her an album of songs then there's something in the letter that would have made him come here after getting out of rehab instead of going on tour with Ashley."
Paige was pensive for a second, thinking it over, before she agreed, "Yeah."
"And now I have to give this to her and show her yet another reason her and Craig aren't just together. And for once it's not because of anything either one of them did- it was just an accident," Marco continued regretfully.
Marco had certainly managed to depress Paige- and she had been all set for the rest of her night only consisting of watching Ryan Gossling hotness and then dreaming about Ryan Gossling. She had always liked getting endings to stories though and she realized Marco had never finished explaining the album to her so she asked, "What about the last two songs? How were they about Ellie?"
"Lament for Little Sister' it's for his sister, but there's a line, 'Have her heart, without her pain.' Ellie is the 'Her.' I think. And then 'One Year Gone.'" Marco flipped to the end of the booklet and read, "One year gone and I'm not any closer to where you are, one year gone and I've only managed to break your heart more, one year gone and you're still the reason why I live, please tell me that when one more year is gone only one thing will still be the same.'" He tossed the booklet aside and said somewhat bitterly, "One more year later and everything will still probably be the same- she'll be here faking normal and he'll be with Ashley faking a love story. They still won't be together."
"Well, I'm going to believe that a miracle- not unlike the one in The Notebook- will occur and they'll be together and I'm going to believe that for your sake. She's turning you into a very bitter pessimist and I just won't have that," Paige said determinedly.
"Right," Marco said with a chuckle. "So, do you want to be there when I give her the letter? Or do you think one best friend to the other is a better approach?"
"If I was you I wouldn't even be around. Leave it on the table with a note about how you found it. Ellie is surprisingly strong and you never go to the gym anymore so you would not fair well should she get violent when you tell her the love of her life may have wanted to be with her and she could have taken him up on it had we decided to put our mail in a different place," Paige offered.
"Good point," Marco responded after considering the different ways handing over the envelope could play out. He leaned back on the couch and said resolutely as he grabbed the remote to hit play again, "Okay, so tomorrow. Ellie's going to get a letter from Craig, from rehab."
Marco sighed and hoped that Paige was right- maybe a letter could fix Ellie and Craig's relationship.