Make Me Better
Rating: Mature...for language.
Characters/Pairings: Sloane/Cameron; mentions of Ferris/Sloane
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Description: After Cameron's confrontation with his father, he shows up at Sloane's door.
Notes: I cannot be the only one who picked up on the MASSIVE chemistry between Cameron and Sloane?
Cameron Frye pushed the doorbell at the Peterson residence and waited. Wobbling on the balls of his feet, his anxiety got the better of him. The anxiety that coiled in his belly and threatened to rise up his throat until he vomited until he heard movement coming from inside. He stopped moving just in time for Mrs. Peterson to open the door.
The older woman looked at him with a smile while noting the large dark sunglasses he was wearing. The sun was setting behind him, but he made no moves to remove the sunglasses. Mrs. Peterson didn't say anything, she was used to her daughter's friends acting strangely.
"Hi, Mrs. Peterson." Cameron tried to steady his voice. "Is Sloane around?"
Mrs. Peterson nodded and stepped aside to let him in. "Hi, Cameron. Yes, she is. I'll call her for you." She closed the door behind them. "Sloane?" she called up the stairs. "Cameron's here to see you." She turned to Cameron. "Would you like to stay for dinner, Cameron?"
Being in this house always made Cameron nervous. The couple of times he'd come over with Ferris, and they stayed for dinner, he found himself comparing Sloane's loving family to his own. It made him keenly aware of what he was lacking in his own.
"No, that's okay, Mrs. Peterson. I just need to speak with Sloane for a minute."
The older woman nodded and gave him another smile before disappearing.
Cameron felt some of his anxiety returning as he waited for Sloane. He didn't know what he was going to do now. He was lost, floundering is a sea of misery that he'd been plunged into, and part of him still couldn't believe he was here. He could have gone to Ferris...but that didn't seem... right. He knew Ferris would come up with some scheme that would probably make things worse. (Somewhere the back of his mind he knew that wasn't a fair assessment. If Ferris knew what was going on, he would stop at nothing to try to rectify the situation) But he was here at Sloane's. Outside of Ferris, she was the only real friend he had. She was the first person he thought of when he left his house. Part of him didn't want to burden her with this either, but he stayed firmly planted in his spot staring at pictures of Sloane's childhood on the wall.
Sloane appeared at the top of the stairs a few seconds later still wearing the shorts and tee-shirt she had on earlier today when they all ditched school. She trotted down a couple of steps to him with a wry smile. "I should still be mad with you, Cameron Frye," she said playfully. She was speaking about earlier today when she and Ferris thought Cameron was catatonic and she'd changed out of her clothes in front of them so they could all go for a dip in someone's (she really wasn't sure whose) jacuzzi.
She stopped in front of him and when she got a closer look at his face, her smile faded. She couldn't see his eyes, only herself reflected in the dark lenses, but she knew something was wrong.
"What's wrong?" she asked softly, her voice and face laced with concern.
It took a moment for Cameron to react; he seemed entranced, but slowly he reached up and removed his sunglasses revealing the darkening purple bruise under is left eye. He tried a sheepish smile, but Sloane saw the tears he tried to hide. "Things..." his voice was low and full of desperation. "...things didn't go so well with my dad."
Sloane felt her own tears welling up. Despite the rising lump in her throat, she said, "Let's go upstairs." Grabbing his hand, she lead the way to her bedroom.
Once inside, she closed the door and pulled him into a hug. Something inside Cameron broke, he started to sob uncontrollably in her arms while Sloane held him tightly. When he started to sink to her bedroom floor, she sank with him, unwilling to let him go, unwilling to break the contact he so desperately needed.
When he was finished a few minutes later, Sloane was propped up against the foot of her bed, Cameron's head against her shoulder. She could feel his body tensing and knew he was starting to feel uncomfortable. She was, after all, his best friend's girlfriend. They shouldn't be here like this.
And yet... somehow it felt right to them both.
"Cam," Sloane's voice was even and soothing. "You want to talk about it?"
He tensed further and lifted his head to look at her. Then, he gave a subtle shake of his head. "No. I'm fine. Thanks for letting me cry on your shoulder, but I should probably go." He started to get up and Sloane grabbed his hand. Cameron couldn't quite bring himself to look in her eyes but he didn't try to move away either. He couldn't do this, shouldn't do this... not to her, not with her. She is Ferris' girl.
"I'm your friend, Cam," Sloane replied softly, as if answering the internal dialogue between his head and his heart. Her doe eyes held such concern when she looked at him. "You don't have to be brave with me."
"Yes, I do," Cameron replied softly; Sloane could see his jaw clenching in anger. "Because you're my friend, I shouldn't be burdening you with this." He pulled his hand gently free and she let him go. "I shouldn't have come here." He closed his eyes quickly to block the tears but one escaped anyway, rolling down his cheek silently.
Sloane hated to see him in so much pain. Hated to see the self-loathing he'd tried to hard to overcome today. She remembered then how Cameron mentioned his father pushing him around earlier and it dawned on her. "This isn't the first time, is it?" Cameron looked at her sheepishly, ashamed to speak, afraid of what he would see in her eyes if he admitted the truth. "Your father has hit you before, hasn't he?"
The world seemed to shift on its axis when she asked that question. He'd never said the words aloud, not even to Ferris, even though he knew his best friend suspected anyway. The only other person in the world who knew was Cameron's mother and she couldn't do anything – wouldn't do anything.
Suddenly, the idea of telling Sloane the truth, of finally telling someone what he experienced on an almost daily basis (though his father had never hit him in the face before) was almost too good to pass up. He'd thought about telling Ferris but ultimately decided not to. This was his burden to bear alone...
"No," he lied softly, turning his head away so he didn't have to look into her eyes. He didn't think he could lie to her face. "No...and I asked for it, anyway. Taking the car out was stupid."
"You did not ask for this!" Sloane all but yelled. Disbelieving rage flashed hotly in her dark eyes. "No matter what we did today and what happened to the car, you did not deserve to be hit like that, Cameron." She scooted forward across the floor until she was in front of him. Taking his face in her hands, she made him look into her eyes. "This isn't your fault."
Cameron closed his eyes again as more tears fell. Sloane dropped her hands but he still felt her touch. It would be so easy to believe her words if he had any self-confidence. If he felt that he deserved better than what his family was. If he felt worthy of anyone's love and admiration. He wanted better but settled to the reality of never having it.
Opening his eyes, he saw Sloane still sitting before him. Her impossibly lovely face was full of concern for him. There was no pity in her eyes like he expected. Here he was, for all his grandstanding earlier, sitting in the middle of her floor crying like a baby. Why wouldn't she pity him?
She smiled softly to him, raising her hand to touch his cheek in a loving manner and Cameron lost himself. He leaned forward suddenly and kissed her.
The kiss itself lasted but a few seconds and was a little more than a connection of lips, but somehow it was more than that, too. Cameron could feel his heart racing, thundering inside of his to the point he thought it might break his ribcage, but there was also a sweet calm feeling that washed over him every second his lips lingered against her. He recognized it as the same calm feeling he got whenever he was around her.
Ten seconds after he kissed her, Cameron pulled away slowly. His eyes widened in shock and he thought for a moment that she was going to slap him. In fact, he knew she was going to slap him, throw him out of her house and tell Ferris what he'd done. Not only would he lose one of his closest friends, he'd lose his best friend. It was no less than what he deserved and would be a fitting end to this now incredibly shitty day.
Slow, torturous seconds clipped by and neither of them made a move. Sloane appeared to be teetering on what action to take: slap him or hug him again. Finally, after having grown nervous from the quietness and her inaction, Cameron said, "I'm sorry." He looked away ashamed. "I'm so sorry, Sloane," he said quickly and scrambled to his feet. "I shouldn't have done that," he rattled off just as fast and bent to pick up his sunglasses on the floor.
Sloane rose slowly to her feet and watched him heading for the door.
"Look, I know you're going to tell Ferris, and I understand completely, just, uh, please don't tell him about my dad, okay?"
Cameron stopped his movements finally and looked at the raven-haired girl. She was staring at him in a strange way, as if she deciding her next move, but there was no anger in her eyes. In fact, she looked almost like she wanted to smile.
"Cam," Sloane said softly before he could ramble at her more. "Come here." She sat down on the edge of her bed and patted the spot next to her.
When Cameron's eyes grew wider, looking from her to the spot and then back to her, she smiled at him. Just as warmly as she always has. "Come on, Cam," she said. "Come sit with me."
Cameron did as she asked, walking slowly to the bed and almost tripping over his feet in doing so. He sat down with an ungainly plop and Sloane reached over to take his hand.
"You should know that I'm not going to tell Ferris anything about what happens here," she told him hoping to assuage some of his guilt. "Not about your dad or the kiss." She tilted his chin up so he was looking her squarely in the eyes. "And I'm not mad that you kissed me." She flashed a smile. "I understand that you wanted to feel something else right then." Silence. "And after you watched me change out of my clothes earlier, you think a little kiss is going to upset me?"
Cameron blushed, feeling genuinely embarrassed for watching his friend's girlfriend change out of her clothing. "Still," he began softly. "You're Ferris' girl. He's my best friend and I shouldn't have kissed you."
Sloane rolled her eyes. "You know, I'm growing just a wee bit sick of that classification of me, okay? I'm not just Ferris' girlfriend, I'm your friend, too, Cameron." Cameron opened his mouth to protest. "And Ferris can't really say anything after he told me to kiss you anyway." At Cameron's look of complete shock, she clarified, "When you started hyperventilating in the car before we found...whoever jacuzzi that was..." she laughed lightly. "Ferris suggested that I kiss you to snap you out of it."
This being the first Cameron ever heard of his friend suggesting his girlfriend kiss another man, let alone him, he wasn't sure how he should react. He opted for the safer road and asked her. "How did that make you feel?"
Having been looking down at the floor, Sloane's head snapped up. She looked at him quietly for a long while trying to figure out how she felt about it herself. "I don't know," she sighed and lifted her shoulders in a shrug. "I know that Ferris and I love each other and you and I both know that he wasn't kidding when he suggested that he and I get married earlier." They both shared weary looks and then smiled together. "But... sometimes, I feel like he's trying to push me away now so that when he goes to college I won't be as hurt, you know?"
"Sparing you later pain or some bullshit like that," Cameron replied. He nodded sagely having heard this exact argument from Ferris several days before. "Yeah, I know what you mean."
They sat in silence again before Cameron asked, "How does that make you feel?"
Sloane gave a little smile and lowered her head. Shrugging her shoulders again, "Grateful, I guess." She could tell from his expression that wasn't the answer Cameron was expecting. "I'm grateful that he cares enough about how I feel or would feel to want to act on it," she elaborated. "I can't say that I'm happy about his tactic, but I know that it's coming from a good place."
"Yeah," Cameron replied softly.
He and Ferris had been friends their entire lives and he wasn't quite sure what he was going to do without him. They'd both opted to go to different colleges: Cameron would be an hour away at Northwestern College while Ferris was going to UCLA. It was going to be hard to maintain years of friendship through four years of separation. Sadly, Cameron had to admit that he wasn't sure if they could.
Then he remembered that he still had Sloane. She had another year of high school left and it helped him to know that he could always come back and see her if things became overwhelming.
"I hope that smile means you're feeling better," Sloane said.
Cameron wasn't even aware that he was smiling. "Yeah," he admitted bashfully. "Somewhat. Thanks." He gave her a small smile. "You always make me feel better," he added though he was aware that she had no idea just how she accomplished that.
After hearing him say that, Sloane hated to get back to the reason for his visit but she was worried about him. "Is that why you came here tonight instead of going to Ferris?" Cameron looked away and nodded. His eyes glittered with something Sloane recognized as tears. She squeezed the hand she still held tightly. "What happened?" she asked timidly, hoping he wouldn't clam up again.
Cameron pulled his hand away, clasping them both between his knees, and continued to look down at the floor. A hot tear fell down to his upturned palm and Sloane wanted immediately to reach out and comfort him but thought the better of it. He would feel crowded right now and that was no way to get him to open up. Instead, she just waited patiently for him to start, hoping she would have the right words to say when he did.
"I waited for him to get home like I said I would," Cameron began quietly. "He got home about five minutes after you and Ferris left. The first thing he noticed was me standing in the spot where the car should be." He shook his head at the memory of his father's face contorting with anger. "It never took much to make him mad, you know? Any little thing out of its place and he was reading to tear you apart...but he loved that car more than anything," Cameron scoffed. "Way more than he loved me or my mother." He sniffled. "In my head...I thought... okay, I'd tell him what I did and he'd be forced to see me as a man." Cameron's body rose and fell while he tried to articulate his feelings. He looked over at Sloane whose only expression was concern. "I thought... maybe he'd realize that he cared about what happened to me. That maybe you know, he'd...I don't know..." His shoulders slumped under the weight of his despair. "I knew he was going to hit me and I just stood there." More tears fell and his shoulders shook with his sobs. "I thought he was going to hit me again while I was on the ground but... he just walked off into the house."
"Did you go inside?" Sloane asked, inexplicably fearful of his answer.
"He was just sitting in his chair in his den smoking a cigar," Cameron recollected. "Just smoking and drinking scotch like he always does." He wiped away at the tears diligently. "The son of a bitch smiled up at me when he noticed me standing there." He shook his head profusely, feeling the fear right now as if he were still in the moment. "I knew he wasn't through with me. I knew...he would try to do something to me so I just ran."
Unable to help herself anymore, Sloane wrapped her arms around him and laid her head on his shoulder. She was pleased when Cameron didn't pull away, and even more pleased when he lifted one of his trembling hands to hold onto the arm she'd wrapped around him.
"Has he ever hit you before...like this, I mean?" she asked softly, feeling his heart beating rapidly against her hand.
Cameron nodded. "Never in the face but...yeah." He sighed and cleared his throat preparing to admit the truth he's long held inside. "I've been hit almost every day of my life."
Something hot and wet hit his shoulder and he realized Sloane was crying. Just knowing she was shedding tears for him made him want to cry all over again. "I'm so sorry, Cameron," she said on a sob. "Truly, I am."
"It's okay," he said to her, programmed to say the words whether he meant them or not. He'd been saying them to his mother for so long he wasn't sure he knew how else to respond.
"No, it's not," she cried indignantly. Lifting her head, her dark hair flew away back over her shoulder. "I don't give a shit if you did take the car without his permission and that we totaled it. He has no right to hit you like this. It's abuse, Cameron, and you should go to the police."
Cameron slanted her a look. "Police? And tell them what? That my father decked me after I totaled his eighty-five thousand dollar sports car?" He flashed her another look. "They'd laugh in my face and tell me that I'm lucky that's all he did."
"But you've been abused all your life," she reminded him as if he had forgotten. As if he could ever forget. A thought struck her suddenly. "Does your mother know?" Cameron nodded, unable to say anything. He heard her gasp in shock. "Why doesn't she do anything?"
Cameron closed his eyes, sighed inside when he felt his heart break just a little more. "Because he does it to her, too." He looked up into his friend's eyes and saw nothing but pure shock. "Not as often as he used to because I'm usually the one who comes in and protects her now. Which is why he started hitting me in the first place. Plus, she's gotten very good at avoiding him when he's in one of his moods."
Shaking her head, Sloane wrapped her arms around Cameron once more. "I'm sorry, Cam," she said and laid her head on his shoulder once more.
"It's okay," he said again, still without feeling. "In two months, I come into the inheritance my grandfather left me, that neither my father nor mother can touch. Then, I graduate and go to college and move on." He sighed heavily, yet felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of his shoulder. He hated to leave his mother, almost certain that without him around, his father would start beating her again. Still, she chose to stay with him. Chose to continue to put them both in danger by staying with him. She chose that life, he didn't, and he wanted no part of it anymore.
"I wish I could help you," she looked up into his eyes innocently and Cameron couldn't think of a more beautiful sight. He couldn't think of any other person he trusted more than Sloane (well, besides Ferris) and was thankful she had been home tonight. He wasn't sure what he'd have done if she wasn't here with him.
"You do help, Sloane," he replied softly. "You make me better."
Suddenly, the both of them were acutely aware that they were staring into each others' eyes. Both of them were aware that their breathing patterns had changed and that something, whether they wanted to admit it or not, whether Ferris was in the picture or not, was between them. Neither could deny it any longer.
"I love you, Sloane," Cameron admitted softly for the first time. He didn't look nervous or ashamed. It was a simple fact and one he felt she should know.
Sloane smiled up at him, sweet and warm, aware that she was closing the gap between them by leaning up. She was in a full blown grin by the time her face was next to his. It was true that she loved Ferris, really, she did... but she loved Cameron, too. He was smart, capable, dependable, fun, flirty, handsome and other things, too.
Yes, she did love him.
"I love you, too, Cam," she admitted just as softly as he did before pressing her lips firmly against his.