Author's Note: This idea came to me and I had to write it. It's almost two in the morning and I am utterly exhausted but it demanded to be written. I do not own Degrassi. AU for the purpose of the story.
"Whoa, what the hell are you doing?" Eli ran towards the green house. He had wanted to surprise Clare by bringing her off-campus lunch. He wasn't even going to walk passed the green house but decided to take the long way into school to enjoy the nice weather outside. It had been cold and rainy all week and the sunshine was a welcome stranger. Now, here he stood face to face with the Grade Nine hockey player. There was a razor blade held in a shaky hand just a feather's-touch distance from the veins protruding from his wrists. His cheeks were wet with tears and Eli could see the fire of anger flash in his eyes.
"Get the hell out of here!" Campbell Saunders shouted, waving the blade as if trying to shoo Eli away, "Go!"
"I don't think so," Eli sat down the bag of food and walked slowly over to Cam, "You and I are going to talk."
"I don't want to talk. I'm sick of talking."
"Yeah, I get it," Eli held up his hands in a desperate attempt to make Cam feel in control of the situation. He wet his lips nervously, wishing more than anything it had been anyone else to find him in such a state. Eli was no good with spoken words. If he could have a moment to string words together into a story or an essay, then things would be different. But spoken communication had never been his strong suit. He had no idea how to go about talking the kid out of this, but all he did know was that he had to give it a shot. I couldn't save Julia that night, but maybe I can make things right this time around...
"You don't! No one does!"
"Actually I do," Eli came a little closer and at the very gesture, the blade was lowered dangerously close to the wrist again, "When I was in Grade Nine, my girlfriend was killed. After a fight, she took off on her bike and was hit by a car. I wanted to slice my veins to ribbons too, kid. Then last year...those thoughts came back. My girlfriend and I weren't doing too well. I didn't know it at the time, but I had a bunch of issues going on that disabled me from being a proper boyfriend to her. I wanted to scare her so I got her on the phone with me and drove my car into a light post."
Cam's brows furrowed and there was still a glint of frustration and anger sparking in his eyes. Eli sighed, knowing there was no going back, "I didn't care about anything. I didn't care about her or myself or anyone. I let my emotions take over my logic. Looking back now, I'd never have wanted to end my life. Fourteen, sixteen - it's not enough years, kid. It's not at all. There's so much more living to be done."
"Not for me," Cam's voice broke and his hand holding the blade shook a little harder as the tears began to squeeze their way through clenched eyes, "I don't want to do this anymore. No one gets it."
"Then explain it."
Cam shook his head, "I am supposed to be a hockey prodigy or something. I get picked up and dropped off here away from my family and my friends. The hockey team treats me like I am nothing and I ruined things with my friends. I am nothing. I deserve to just disappear. He...he told me I should."
"Who did?" Eli's brow furrowed.
"Zig. I-I messed things up. He...he likes my girlfriend and he always has. She even kissed him. She'd be better off with him and better off with me out of the picture."
"Don't say that," Eli stepped forward a bit more, "Have you talked to your girlfriend?"
"No," Cam shook his head again, "I don't know how to. I-I don't want to face her. If I just do it, then I'll be gone and I won't have to stick around to see how it affects her. If I tell her what I'm going through, I'll have to live with the fact that she might blame herself. If I just do it, I won't have to live with that. I won't have to live with anything."
"Coward!" Eli glared daggers at Cam, trying desperately to get through to him.
"Excuse me?" Cam choked back a sob, "What'd you call me?"
"You heard me. I called you a coward. You think this is the easy way out? You think it'd be easier to just end your life than to sit down and talk to your girlfriend and talk to this Zig-Zag kid?"
"Whatever! Do you? Because if you do, you're a coward. Instead of facing your problems and admitting that you have problems you're trying to run away. Well kid, this isn't just running away. You don't just pack a backpack with candy bars and walk a few miles before you get bored and go home. Once you check out, you're out for good. That means no more bad times sure, but that also means no more good times. You got family?" Cam nodded, "So much for seeing them again. You got siblings?" Cam nodded again, "So much for seeing them grow up. So much for graduations and universities and careers and marriages and children...all of that is fucked if you run that blade across your wrist."
Cam bit his lower lip, "I just don't know what to do anymore. Why'd you gotta walk in here?"
"Because I have shit luck," Eli shrugged, brutally honest, "I wish it wasn't me, kid. I wish it was anyone else because I am no good at anything like this. If I talk to you and you still go through with it, I'll have to live with knowing I failed. That's way too much responsibility for me to handle. I wish I hadn't gone to get my girlfriend lunch and I wish I didn't walk passed this damn green house but I did and here I am so we're both stuck with this."
Cam frowned, "Everyone thinks that I am fine because I can be. But when I'm not, I'm really not."
"I get it. I do. I have moments of euphoria where I feel on top of the world and I have moments when I just want the earth to swallow me whole. I have moments when I want to go on and be a director and make movies and I have moments when I want to down a whole bottle of pills."
"What's stopping you then from going through with it?"
"You can't have bad without good, kid. How else will we know what it means to have good if there's not bad to compare it to? We got to have both in our lives. The bad never lasts forever and I'd rather feel both bad and good than be numb and feel nothing. Do you really not want to feel anything ever again? Tell me something, right off the top of your head, that you want to experience right this second besides the cool slice of metal against skin."
Cam's gaze lowered to the cement as he said, "Maya's laugh."
"There you go," Eli felt like they were getting somewhere but that still didn't mean his heart hadn't stopped getting ahead of him, "Maya's laugh. Is that something you hear everyday?"
"Yeah," a small smile crossed Cam's face.
"So if you have a shit day, no matter what, you'll probably hear Maya's laugh. What else is there? Name something good that happened this past week - anything from sex with your girlfriend to a cup of amazing coffee."
Cam bothered his lower lip between his teeth, his ears a hue of pink from Eli's sex comment, "Um...well...I talked to my little brother on the webcam."
"Okay," Eli waved him on, "What else?"
"Dallas...uh...Dallas told me good job after I scored and won the game the other day..."
"Okay. Here's the key, make these good things count more so than the bad. Can you do that? Can you focus on these good things when the bad seems to take over and remind yourself that there's stuff still staying here for?"
"I don't know," Cam answered honestly.
Eli finally played the last card he had. He locked his eyes onto Cam's and said, "Please don't do this, kid. Please. I don't know what you're feeling right now, but I am pretty sure that this is just your emotions screwing with things. I don't think you want to die. Please put the razor blade down. You can walk out of here. We can both walk out of here together. I'll go with you to talk to someone if you want me to. You can talk and get help and you can sit down and make things right with your girlfriend and with Zip."
"Whatever. You can. You have options. There are always options. Now then, are you going to do it? Are you going to cut your wrist open or are you going to go inside and face this and get help?"
Cam bothered his lower lip between his teeth, "I just am tired of feeling alone."
"You're not. You got me way too invested now to back out. I'm here. Maya's here. I am sure Zig..."
"There you go," a small smile crossed Cam's face.
Eli pointed an accusing finger at Cam, "What are you smiling about?"
"You finally got his name right," Cam shrugged.
"If you got a reason to smile, you have a thousand reasons not to kill yourself. That one reason is worth everything. Come on kid, put the razor blade down. You want to talk to someone? I'll take you to Mr. Simpson or..."
"Can you...uh...can you just walk with me over to find Dallas? I-I need to talk to Dallas."
Eli released a breath, finally remembering how to breathe, "I can do that."
"Sure thing, kid."
Cam flicked the razor blade into a nearby trashcan. Eli picked up the now-cold food, not really caring or noticing, and walked with a hand on Cam's shoulder over to the picnic table where the hockey players were finishing their lunches.
"Saunders," Dallas nodded towards him, then his gaze narrowed in on Eli, "Artsy kid with a wicked right hook," he nodded to Eli as well.
"Mike Dallas," Eli clapped Cam's shoulder, "He wanted to talk to you for a bit."
Dallas' brows knitted together as he hopped up off of the table, "You okay, Saunders?"
Cam glanced around nervously at the other hockey players, "No...not really."
"Alright," Dallas nodded, "Let's take a walk. Catch you guys later," he waved towards the rest of the team.
"No problem. Wanna tell me what's eating you?"
"I should go take Clare her lunch," Eli cleared his throat.
"Yeah. Uh...thank you," Cam held out a hand which Eli accepted and shook. His eyes locked onto Cam's and they shared between them a look that could only be described as respect.
"Sure. You gonna be okay?"
"I don't know," Cam answered honestly, "but I'm going to try."
"Good," Eli nodded, "See you around."
"I guess you will," Cam nodded and Eli headed off to find Clare as Dallas and Cam walked towards the parking lot together. Eli turned in time to catch a glimpse of Cam talking with Dallas and a look of complete compassion washing over Dallas' face. He pulled the younger hockey player into a hug and Eli thought for a moment he saw what might be mistaken for a tear on Dallas' cheek.
Eli sighed and turned to head back inside the school. He knew Clare would be in the journalism room working on her article for the week's edition of the school paper. Sure enough, when he found her, she was hunched over her rough draft, editing madly with a red pen in hand. When Clare saw him, she dropped the pen and hurried over.
"Hey you!" A huge smile crossed her face, "I thought you had disappeared. Where did you go?"
"I wanted to surprise you with lunch," Eli held up the food.
"Aww, thank you! You didn't have to do this though."
"I wanted to," Eli handed her the bag, "It may be a bit cold."
"That's okay," Clare peeked inside, "Yum! My favorite. How are you so wonderful?"
Eli shrugged, "I'm nothing special."
"Of course you are!" Clare kissed him on the cheek, "I haven't had time to eat with trying to finish this article and I am famished. You're a lifesaver!"