Trial and Error

As far as I'm concerned, Jesse may die a fiery death. But for the sake of this oneshot, let's just say he doesn't exist. Because he's a mean, ugly, dummy. Okay? J

I don't own Degrassi.

Sellie makes me feel all nostalgic…J


- // -

His first attempt is a miss; that's for sure.

They're at a club. It's after he's out of jail and broken up with Emma, but before he joins the army. He knows what he's getting into, because Marco said they'd be there even if he had to drag Ellie by her hair. He's nervous, palms sweating. It's been two years. Two terrible, good, empty, healing years.

He does the only thing he can do. He walks up to them, taps her on the shoulder.

She turns, "Hey Ellie."

Her face becomes clay. Surprised. Sad. Relieved. Angry.

Mouths open, spitting long overdue venom.

"Fuck you."

She throws her drink in his general direction and runs away.

It's at that moment that Sean realizes this will be harder than he thought.

- // -

He left Ellie a long time ago. He didn't want to. He really didn't, but it was the only way. She, Jay, and Emma (why had she come anyway?) drove away. He was left in Wasaga Beach, with a shitty house and parents he had never really wanted.

Somehow, it got better. Most of it, anyway.

One thing was always missing. He'd stared off at the beach day after day. He sat at the outskirts of the trailer park, watching people walk past. He went to school for a little bit. At least finished his junior year. His parents weren't even drunks anymore. And yet, something…

It was when the girls started asking him out and he said no. When they pouted and walked away, bubbily cheerleaders or rebel girls; it didn't matter. When he started wishing they wore rubber bands on their wrist, he started to notice. When he was tempted to ask all the goth girls what their natural hair color was, or all the sarcastic, witty girls if it was real or just a front, he started to really catch on.

At some point, his nightmares of guns dripping with yellow blood morphed into dreams of red on black, of hands intertwined, of ferrets and salvation.

When he woke up in the morning, he decided he was going back to Degrassi.

It was from that point on that things got a little messy.

- // -

His second attempt, he decides, will be more careful. Ellie Nash is a tricky girl.

He goes to their apartment, knocks on the door. She answers, pencil tucked behind her ear, dressed in sweatpants and a loose t-shirt. He forgot, midterms are coming up. This is probably the last thing she needs right now.

"What?" she sounds just as vicious as before. Just as hurt.


"You'd better come up with more than one word answers, or this door will be meeting your face."

She hasn't changed much.

"I'm here to apologize."

She snorts, "Did you forget to change the batteries in your egg timer? You're a few years late."

"I know. I had… a lot of baggage."

"Which didn't include a phone?"

"Ellie, I--"

"No. Apparently, it didn't. But you know what you did have room for? A tall, blonde, bimbo with a me, me, me! complex."

"Emma was--"

"Save it for someone who gives a shit."

She slams the door in his face. He's had a lot of doors slammed in his face, but none of them have ever hurt so much.

- // -

Emma. Emma, Emma, Emma.

At this point, his biggest mistake. In the relationship department, at least.

Maybe in grade eight she was sweet. But by grade nine, she seemed to have developed… an issue with sanity. Stalking him. Seriously? Okay, so she wanted to find out all of the bad boy things he was doing behind her back, which happened to include stealing her stepdad's laptop. Whatever. She seemed to get more neurotic as the years went by. By the time he got to Round Two, her control issues seemed… well, out of control.

So why had he wound up next to her instead of Ellie? How had his path gotten so screwed up (then again, why was that a surprise)?

As much as he hated it, Ellie was still tied to "Before." Emma was "Before" too, but far enough before that it didn't matter. Strangely enough, the girl he had saved from the gun reminded him less of the shooting than the girl who supported him through it.

Ellie was… well, Ellie was scary. Ellie meant apologizing, facing his fears, making up for lost time. Ellie meant redemption. Quite honestly, Sean hadn't been sure if he deserved redemption anymore.

With Emma, he could forget. He could pretend it had never happened. He could go back to her and be the same bad boy he had always been. The same tough kid in a beanie who drank instead of talking about his problems. Who stole instead of facing the consequences. Emma always stood above, with him below. She set standards never to be reached, so she could be The Angel, and he her Charity Case.

Ellie didn't set standards. Even if she did, they didn't seem like it. She never judged him, and he didn't judge her. They were there for each other. They made each other want to be better, for each other. There weren't any huge blowups. No illegal street races. No jail cells dripping with honey vanilla shampoo. It wasn't simple, but it was good. Really good.

After Emma zoomed into tyrant mode one too many times, he decided he didn't need this. This wasn't how relationships worked. Someone very special had taught him that.

- // -

Third attempt: a bit more successful. At least she listens this time.

They're on a park bench. Somehow, he managed to get her out of the house, though he's sure Marco bribed her. After the "Craig episode" he heard about, her friend is desperate to cheer her up. She looks fine to him. Great, actually. Then again, when he knew Ellie, she was still snapping rubber bands on her wrist daily. She was still decked out in black and struggling to find her place. Now she's in college, with new, more adult attire. She even wears short sleeves, though the rubber bands are still there. So are the scars, but they are faded. Faded enough so people don't notice, and if they do, they don't assume the truth.

Both are silent. Ellie, probably because she doesn't want to talk, and Sean because he isn't sure what to say. How can he put into words what he is feeling? How can he explain this mess?

"Answer one thing for me," she says, toying with the rubber bracelets on her wrists. The wind rustles slightly through the trees. Cars pass on the street. He watches her hair drift back and forth, a halo of fiery red, "Why?"

She doesn't cut any corners. There's so much he needs to say…

"I mean, I know you couldn't stay. I didn't get it at first, but then I understood. It was like how I couldn't stay with my mom. You just couldn't stay here. But then you never wrote to me. You never called. Then suddenly, you're back, and you're… with Emma? With her? Please, just give me an explanation. I think you owe me at least that much."

Breathe. Breathe. Just… tell her the truth.

"I was afraid."

She smiles a little, "I knew you were afraid of spiders, but not me."

"It wasn't really you. Just… what you represented. The shooting. Everything. I came back, and she was right there. She was… easy to deal with."

"Easy? Emma? She's a control freak!"

"Not like that. With you… I felt like a good person, you know? I didn't steal, I didn't drink. I was going to graduate. But it was hard. Being with Emma, and becoming my old self again, was easy."

"Okay. If I'm so difficult, what changed?" her eyes are lighting up a little, like they used to. It gives him hope.

"I got tired of simple. Tired of… control. I miss how effortless we were, Ellie. I miss you."

"Now you're contradicting yourself," she laughs, "But I get what you mean. It was always just… there."

They sit, just being there, not talking. They watch the sun go down, and then he walks her home. This time, he even gets permission to call.

- // -

It isn't over yet, or started, rather. They have a lot to talk about.

The shooting. His time in Wasaga. Her time alone. Their families. Bueller the ferret. The scars on her arms and her heart. Group Therapy and gray hoodies, and everything in between. Craig. Emma. The way they could never hold hands with anyone else like they did with each other.

Holding hands was like touching souls. When they brush against each other and he feels that jolt again, Sean knows he's getting somewhere.

- // -

On his fourth attempt, he nails a kiss. The rest follows course accordingly.

- // -

Like it? Quite honestly, the ending seemed a bit abrupt, but I wasn't sure how to end it exactly. Oh well. Don't expect too many new things. School has me swamped.