DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.

This is a companion to my story A Sister's Return. This takes place a few months before that story, and about two years after the current season of Degrassi. A Sister's Return is my favorite story I've ever written, so if you haven't checked it out, I'd recommend it.

Thanks to stained scarlett who suggested this story.

It was only 6:00 in the morning, and I didn't need to get to school until 8:15, but I couldn't sleep anyway, so I slid out from under Eli's arm and pulled my rumpled clothes back on. I scribbled "I love you" on a post-it note that I found on his roommate's desk and stuck it on my pillow.

I grabbed my backpack so I wouldn't have to come back into the room, and went to the communal girls' bathroom. Amy, who lived next door to Eli, was standing at the sink in a towel, blowdrying her hair. "Hey Clare," she called over the noise. I waved and smiled. We had met up in the bathroom a few mornings when I was rushing to get to Degrassi; Amy was an early bird.

I went to the bathroom and washed my hands. I looked at myself in the mirror. I tried to fix my curls so that I didn't have crazy sex hair but there was only so much I could do without showering – and I'd much rather shower in my private bathroom at home than in Eli's dorm.

I started the trek across campus to the visitor's parking lot. Freshmen weren't allowed to have cars on campus so Eli had to leave Morty at home, but fortunately for me, my father had bought me a car in his guilt over the divorce.

"Clare Edwards, is that you?"

I looked up and saw Spinner Mason walking towards me, a huge smile on his face. He was wearing a security uniform. "Spin, hey." I gave him a hug. I used to see him all the time when he was working at the Dot but he'd quit two years ago after he married Emma in Niagara Falls.

"Wow, do you go here?" He frowned and furrowed his eyebrows. "No, you should still be at Degrassi, right? Or did you graduate early?"

Wow, this was awkward. Spinner had dated Darcy when I was a really geeky 8th grader and even though he had always been nice to me there was definitely a big brother vibe between us. "No, it's my senior year. I'm just…visiting."

"At 6 in the morning?" Spinner raised one eyebrow. "Oh my God, Baby Edwards, you're totally doing the walk of shame."

I could feel my cheeks flushing. "Spinner!"

He looked me up and down. "Messy hair. Yesterday's clothes. So who's the lucky guy?"

I rolled my eyes. "He's my boyfriend, Eli. I'm surprised you haven't met."

"Well, I'm going to have to meet the guy who's corrupted a girl who's practically my little sister." I stuck my tongue out at him, which I know was pretty immature, but that's how I felt around him. Obviously I don't have feelings for him now, but when I was 13, it was hard not to have a little girl crush on my sister's sweet boyfriend.

He checked his watch. "You know, I get off work at 7. You probably want to get home to change, but I'd love to catch up with you. Any chance you want to get some breakfast at the Dot?"

"Sure. Is 7:15 okay? I do have to get to school afterwards."

"Sounds great." He walked away, shaking his head.

I drove home and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my mother's car wasn't in the driveway. In the past she always went straight from David's house to work on Monday mornings, but she could change her mind at any point and catch me. I didn't really care what she thought anymore, but it made our limited interaction more unpleasant whenever she was reminded I wasn't her perfect little girl anymore.

I took a quick shower and tried to make my hair look presentable. I got dressed and left a note for my mother on the kitchen table, telling her I'd gone to the Dot for breakfast and had yearbook after school and then dinner with Eli, Adam and Alli, so I'd be home late.

I got to the Dot and ordered pancakes, figuring I could start eating in case Spinner was late, but he walked in a few minutes later. "It feels weird to be here," he said, taking the seat across from me. "I'm not a big fan of the new look. I haven't really been back much since it burnt down."

"And how is your favorite accidental arsonist?"

Spinner shifted in his seat. "Emma and I…well…we're separated and we're working on getting the divorce finalized."

Ah, I'm such an idiot. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

"Yeah, we just…couldn't make it work. It was stupid to keep the charade going as long as we did. She's back with her Mom and I kept the loft, but I just want to get out of here."

"Well, you're a cop now, so that's progress. No more making Monte Cristo sandwiches and milkshakes for obnoxious teenagers," I placed my hand on his forearm, over his uniform shirt.

"Technically, I'm just a security guard. But we work with the campus cops and with this experience, I'm a shoe-in for cop college next year. I just wish I hadn't taken so long to get things going."

Spinner shook his head. "How about you? Last I saw you, you were wearing a shy high school freshman wearing a school uniform to public school, and now you're sleeping with a college boy."

"Funny." The waiter brought over my pancakes and Spinner ordered an omelet. "Well, Eli and I started dating halfway through my sophomore year, and he's a freshman at U of T now. I'm just trying to get through my senior year. I am definitely ready to be done with Degrassi."

He laughed. "Trust me. I know the feeling. Between summer school and my extra year, I felt like I lived there."

I let out a huge yawn and Spinner raised his eyebrows. "Didn't do much sleeping last night?"

I lightly slapped his hand. "It's hard to fit two people into a twin bed. I don't always sleep that well when we're at the dorm."

Spinner thanked the waiter for bringing his omelet. "Yeah, that's one part of the college experience I'm not disappointed I missed out on. I can't believe you sleep over there. What do your parents think?"

I lowered my eyes and stared at my pancakes. "My mom spends most of her nights at her boyfriend's house and my dad moved out a year ago and has no clue what I do."

"So it's better not to sleep well than to be alone?" I shot him a look and he raised his hands in surrender. "Sorry, I'm not trying to be judgmental. I'm just a little worried about you right now."

"It's fine, Spin. I'm fine."

Spinner gave me a look, but changed the subject anyway. "So does Eli's roommate mind the sleepovers?"

I laughed. "His roommate grew up in Toronto and his girlfriend has an off-campus apartment. So he technically lives with Eli but I think they've had about four conversations in the past two months. I haven't seen him since move in day."

"That's convenient. Does Eli like college? Is he making friends?"

"He likes his classes," I said. "And he's made friends with some of the people on his floor. He does spend an awful lot of time with me and he's not big into cheesy college activities, but sometimes he'll meet up with one of his classmates at the pub for a show, or we'll go to a beer pong tournament on his floor."

Spinner laughed and covered his ears. "I didn't hear that."

"He's 19 already; he has an early birthday. And I don't really drink that much."

"Hey, Clare," Spinner said, not meeting my eyes. "How's Darcy?"

I sighed. "To be honest, I don't really know. She's still in Kenya, volunteering for the same organization. She doesn't have access to the internet very often, so she only emails me a couple of times a year."

"I was wondering about that," Spinner shoveled some of his hash browns into his mouth. "I mean, we were on pretty good terms when she left, and I was surprised I never hear from her at all."

"The last time I talked to her she said she was thinking of coming back for about a month to take her G.E.D. since she never actually graduated. But she hasn't made any plans yet."

"Well, if she does come back, could you ask her to give me a call?" I gave him a curious look and he continued, "I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I don't want to get back together with her or anything. It's just…sometimes I feel like she was the only person who ever got me. And right now I could use somebody like that in my life."

I nodded and pulled my cell phone out of my purse. "Put your number in there. I'll make sure she gets it. But you know…" I paused and he looked up from his typing.

"I can't guarantee she'll call. And not because it's you, because I know she really cared about you, Spin. It just seems to me like she ran away to Africa to put her whole past behind her, and even the parts that were good, she doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get back to."

"I guess we're in the same boat." He handed me back my phone. "Well, then you've got my number. If you need somebody to talk to, feel free to give me a call."

I smiled at him. "Thanks." I typed out a quick text to his phone, and I could hear it buzz in his pocket. "You've got mine now too."

He pulled his phone out and smiled. "Well, I think you should probably be heading to Degrassi and I really need to get some sleep. The night shift is killer."

He stood and gave me a hug. "Go ahead. I'll take care of this."

I gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Spinner. I'll talk to you soon."