Chapter 22: The Fight
"So what are you going to do?" Sean asked from his seat on the couch. Ellie stood in front of the bathroom mirror wringing the water out of her hair.
"Now," she said pulling her hair back into a ponytail, "I go talk to Craig." She walked back into the living room and smiled at Sean. He smiled back at her and stood, walking to her and taking her hands in his.
"Do you want me to come with you?" He asked, pulling her closer to him. She giggled lightly.
"No. I don't think that would help the situation any. Besides, this is something I have to do by myself. I dug my grave, now I gotta go climb out of it."
"Can I at least drive you over there? It's still raining you know." She shook her head and lightly kissed his cheek before turning and walking toward the door. Sean grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him.
"Sean," she laughed. "Sean I need to go. I need to go talk to Craig." He kissed her forehead.
"I know," he whispered into her hair before letting her go. She smiled again before heading to the door. Sean called out to her, stopping her in the doorway. "Hey! I love you." She turned, still smiling, nodding her head.
"Yeah, I love you too. And now I have to go tell my boyfriend that." He shot her a sympathetic look as she walked out of his apartment. But when the door closed, he couldn't help but feel on top of the world. Ellie Nash loved him. And he loved her. And they were going to be together again. He couldn't have been happier.
Joey's keys jingled in the door as he turned it open. Angie ran inside and scampered off to the living room to watch TV. Joey smiled at her before walking upstairs to Craig's room. "Hey Craig, we're back," he said, placing his hand on the door knob. Realizing the door was cracked open, Joey pushed it open and his eyes widened. The room was destroyed. Papers were thrown everywhere and a few pieces of furniture were pushed over. The curtains were pulled down and the pictures on the wall had been torn from their places. Joey stepped inside, recognizing the signs. Craig had done a similar thing some time earlier. He'd trashed a hotel room. Joey sighed and wondered how long Craig had been off his bipolar medication. He stepped into the room further and heard glass crack under his feet. He stepped back and looked down. It was the picture of Downtown Sasquatch after the music festival. Joey picked it up out of the wreckage and continued to stare at it. Then he sighed, tossed it back down, and closed the door behind him as he left. He needed to find Craig, but didn't even know where to look. "Angie!" Joey called. "Come on baby. We gotta go somewhere!" He grabbed Angie's hand and pulled her to the car. Joey's stomach turned summersaults as he started his car. He hoped Craig was ok.
Craig had been off his pills for a couple of weeks now. He'd never liked the idea of taking medicine. It made him feel like a freak, but he'd needed them then. But things had been so good lately that he didn't feel the need to take the pills anymore. He was stronger now, more in control of his emotions. He didn't need the pills. He didn't want them.
But as he'd walked down the sidewalk, he'd felt his anger rising to new levels. He knew he should've turned back. He knew he shouldn't walk to her house, but he HAD to. He HAD to see her, to talk to her. He HAD to know what was wrong. So the reasonable part of his brain could yell at him all it wanted, but his anger and frustration pushed it aside and tuned it out.
He clenched his fists and paced up and down her porch stairs. He couldn't stay still. He'd lost sense of time. How long had he been standing there? Five minutes? An hour? It didn't really matter he decided. He'd stand there until she came home. She'd have to come home eventually.
Ellie pulled out her phone and dialed Craig's cell number. She ambled slowly down the sidewalk, biting her bottom lip. Half of her wanted him to pick up so she could find him and talk to him, get it over with. The other half wanted him to never answer. Then she could put off the conversation that was sure to break Craig's heart. She shook her head. How had she gotten him tangled into her messy love life? It had been a mistake. And it was her fault. And now she'd have to break her friend's heart because of it. "Hello?" Damn, he'd picked up. "El?"
"Hi Craig," she said. She wanted to say more, but was unsure of what to say to him.
"Ellie, where are you? Are you ok?" He sounded caught up and hysterical. It struck fear into her.
"I'm fine. Where are you? I'm gonna come meet you."
"I'm at your house. El are you sure you're ok?"
"I'm fine Craig. Are you ok?" She asked, quickening her pace.
"I'm fine now that you called me." There was something off about his voice, something that worried her, made her feel sick. She quickened her pace even more. She needed to be there, needed to see him and make sure he was ok.
"Okay, Craig, I'll see you soon." She said, hanging up the phone, practically running towards her home.
Sean walked around his apartment. He wanted to sit down, but was too antsy to do so. He was just so excited. Happiness wasn't for the idle. He paced around his apartment fighting the urge to jump up and down. While walking by the counter in the kitchen, something caught his eye. It was a key: Ellie's house key. "Crap," Sean muttered. She'd need this to get into her home. He grabbed it from the counter and headed for the door, picking up his gray hoodie as he did. He slid it on and closed is apartment door. He'd just go to her house and wait for her to get home. Then they could spend some time together as their first official night back as a couple. Sean smiled at the thought.
Ellie could see Craig waiting on the porch. She tried to slow her pace down so that he wouldn't notice that she was running. She continually slowed until she was walking up the front steps and standing a couple of feet away from Craig. "Hi," she whispered.
"El, I'm so glad you're here. I was starting to get worried about you. God you're so beautiful. I love you so much." He said reaching forward and running a hand through her red hair. His voice was saturated with desperation. And something about the look he gave…he looked almost psychotic. Ellie knew that Craig was bipolar. But she'd never known what he was like when he wasn't on his meds. But as she took in Craig's distressed face, she began to think that's what she was facing. She swallowed hard, not wanting to break the news even more now.
"Listen Craig," She started her voice soft and gentle.
"What's wrong?!" He practically shouted, causing Ellie to wince in fear.
"Nothing, Craig, calm down."
"El, nothing good ever starts with Listen Craig! Now WHAT'S WRONG?!" He screamed. Ellie winced again and took a step back. She inhaled sharply and exhaled a few times before looking at Craig again. "I'm sorry El. I didn't mean to yell at you. I'm so sorry. Please forgive me." He said, looking like a sad puppy that had been kicked. His eyes were wide and held a corrupted innocence of sorts. It took her breath away.
"Craig, I'm so sorry." She said. She didn't know what else to say or how to start.
"You don't have to be sorry El. You said you wanted to take things slow and I pushed you further than you wanted to go. I'm sorry. Can you please forgive me? PLEASE?" She sighed. He thought she was talking about her leaving.
"No Craig. I'm sorry." Craig looked at her and felt his anger starting to rise.
"For what?" He practically spit. His eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Ellie bit her bottom lip again and looked down at the ground before bringing her eyes to meet Craig's again. "Ellie what did you do?" He whispered, his nose starting to snarl up in anticipation of what she was going to say. He knew it wouldn't be good. Ellie let a moment of silence pass between them as she worked the nerve up to say what needed to be said.
"I kissed Sean Cameron."
Sean called Emma. "Hey Sean," she answered.
"Emma…she's in love with me." That was all he said. And that was all Emma needed to hear. She knew exactly who he was talking about. She smiled to herself.
"Did she come see you?"
"Yeah, she came by tonight."
"So what about her and Craig?"
"She left a little bit ago to go talk to him and break up with him."
"Yeah, I feel bad for him. I know what it feels like to lose her, and I'd never wish that on anyone."
"So what are you doing now?"
"I'm on my way to her house. She left her key at my place." Sean heard a knock over the phone.
"Hold on Sean. I gotta get that." He could hear Emma on the line still. "Oh hi Mr. Jeremiah. No I haven't see Craig. What's wrong? He's what…."
"Emma? Emma what's wrong?" Sean asked, growing worried.
"Sean," she breathed into the phone. "Craig's off his meds."
"Joey's looking for Craig. He said he came home and Craig's room was completely trashed. Joey thinks he's off the pills and is having an episode. Sean, you need to find Ellie right now. Craig's not safe to be around right now. When they diagnosed Craig, it was after he'd trashed a hotel room and beaten up Joey. He could be dangerous."
"Thanks Em." Sean hung up and immediately dialed Ellie's number.
Craig could even begin to process what she'd just said. He just stood there, immobile. Ellie exhaled deeply, waiting for Craig's response. He turned around and paced around on the porch for a minute, while anxiety ate away at her. Finally he came to stand in front of her and looked at her, his eyes watery. "You what?"
"I'm in love with him Craig. I'm sorry, but I never got over loving Sean really, and I don't think I ever will. And I'm sorry that I had to hurt you in the process of figuring that out. I never wanted to hurt you. I never meant for it to happen like this. I'm so sorry."
"No El, we'll be fine. We'll be fine. We can pretend like this never happened and we can just continue on." He was shaking. It made Ellie nervous. She took a step back.
"Craig," she said softly, "it's over. I can't be with you. It's not fair to you and it's not fair to me or Sean. I'm sorry. I didn't want it to end this way, but – "
"BUT I LOVE YOU ELLIE! I WOULD NEVER HURT YOU! I DON'T UNDERSTAND! I LOVE YOU! SEAN CHEATED ON YOU EL! HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOU! HE NEVER WILL! HE'LL NEVER LOVE YOU LIKE I WILL! ELLIE I DON'T UNDERSTAND!"
She could hear her phone going off. She wanted to reach for it.
"IS THAT HIM?"
"I don't know Craig. Please, stop screaming." She asked, looking around.
"DID YOU SLEEP WITH HIM?"
"NO!" Her phone went off again.
"Who the hell keeps calling you?!" Craig demanded. Ellie didn't move, didn't speak, didn't say anything. "Give me the phone El."
"Craig, I don't think that's really necessary."
"GIVE ME THE PHONE!" Ellie took the phone out of her pocket and handed it to Craig. He answered the phone and Ellie held her breath.
"Ellie?!" Sean yelled into the phone. "Ellie?! Are you there? Listen, don't find Craig. He's off his pills and he's really unstable right now!"
"I'M NOT UNSTABLE!" Craig yelled into the phone.
"Craig, where's Ellie?" But Craig just hung up the phone and tossed Ellie's phone to the ground.
"Just answer me one question. Why him El? WHY HIM?! WHAT DOES HE HAVE THAT I DON'T?"
"Craig, it's just not that simple. Sean was the first guy I loved, and the only guy I've ever really been in love with."
"So you didn't even care about me at all?"
"No, Craig. I did. It's complicated."
"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! I DON'T THINK YOU CARED AT ALL!" Craig had inched forward and they were so close. "WHY EL? WHY?" Then he grabbed her arms and began to shake her. "WHY EL? TELL ME WHY? WHY? WHY?!" Ellie was crying.
"Please stop Craig. Stop. You're hurting me."
"YOU HURT ME!"
Suddenly someone appeared. Ellie could see their body moving in the corner of her eye. She wasn't sure what was happening, but Craig let her go and she fell on her knees to the porch, still crying. She heard the thud of a fist connecting with someone's body. Then she watched as Craig fell to the porch beside her. She gasped and took a few shaky breaths. She felt a hand on her arm. She jerked away, her body shaking. "El, El it's me." She recognized Sean's voice and leaned into him, sobbing into his shoulder. "It's ok. I'm here. I'm here." Ellie wrapped her arms around his neck and just cried, her salty tears connecting with Sean's skin causing it to tingle.
"Sean, I was so scared." She whispered.
"Me too El. Me too."
Joey showed up a little later. Sean had called Emma and told her where they were. "Ellie, I'm so sorry." He repeated himself several times as he and Sean loaded the unconscious Craig into the car. "I'm so sorry. Craig didn't mean it. When he wakes up, he's going to feel terrible about it. We'll get him to the hospital and he'll get his pills and he'll be fine. But I'm so sorry. I'm sorry he hurt you." Joey apologized a few more times and then drove Craig to a hospital.
Ellie packed her bag and walked back to Sean's apartment with him, his arm wrapped around her. Once they got there, she quickly changed into her pajamas. "Here, you should get some sleep El. You've had a long night." She nodded and stood in the doorway to the bedroom.
"Will you come lay down with me. I don't wanna be alone." Sean nodded and took her hand, leading her into the bedroom. They just lay there, staring at each other, hands intertwined. "I love you Sean Cameron," Ellie whispered in the darkness.
"I love you too Eleanor Nash." She couldn't help but smile.
"Don't call me that," she playfully said. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it.
"I love you Ellie Nash. Was that better?"
"Much better. It has a ring to it you know." Sean smiled and kissed her lightly. He lay there and watched her. She watched him too until she lulled off into a much needed sleep.
"I love you Ellie Nash," he whispered to her sleeping form.