A/N: Yes...yes I am starting a new fanfiction before I finish Celestica... am I proud of this? No... but I do love this fic with all of my little heart. Hello Degrassians I bring to you a brand new fic written by my very good friend Emma (0ceanship) and I! This is just the first chapter of a multi-chapter fic that is sure to tug on your little heartstrings. Before you begin, let me begin by saying Emma and I are working sooo hard on this fic and we'd love your feedback. This story is AU and Eli would be in grade 12 (Adam and Clare in grade 11). I'd like to say this is more of an Eli-centered fic more than eclare, but it is an eclare fic - don't worry about that. Eli and Adam are cousins (making CeCe and Audra sisters). I think that these are all of the important details I should give you. Okay, enjoy. Love you guys. And yes, soon I will finish Celestica once I get over this writers block for it.
Rating: This fic is rated M for swearing, suicidal references, and just because we think it belongs in the M tag.
Disclaimer: We don't own Degrassi or the song Sight Of The Sun by FUN.
Summary: As the days go by, Eli Goldsworthy continues to relive his past, the flashbacks of what used to be following him wherever he goes. As he begins his new life, it's only a matter of time before the old one comes back to haunt him.
"For once, there is nothing up my sleeve. Just some scars from a life that used to trouble me. I used to run at first sight of the sun; now I lay here waiting for you to wake up." Sight Of The Sun | FUN.
It is said that every man has his own secret sorrows, that all people harbor an anchor inside of them, yanking on their heart.
Sometimes these anchors, these weights, they are lesser, they're an occasional reminder, a gloomy disposition for a week or two.
But others aren't just burdens, they don't sit on your mind picking at your thoughts, they consume you. Everything you've enjoyed has been soiled by the inevitable pain taking control of your form.
The things you love become the things you're expected to love, and then everything else just sort of stops. Like time is moving really slowly, and all you can do is watch.
He was familiar with agony, for he'd faced it again and again, all too much for a boy his age.
He knew how it felt to be at your wits end, to be begging for your heart to stop its needless beating.
His eyes scanned the last box of his, giving his room a final, farewell glance before taking the remainders of his things in his arms and hurrying to the car.
It wasn't that he didn't love the four-walled box he'd called home, he grew up there, it was everything he knew, but when things started getting bad, just before they'd gotten worse, he couldn't seem to become attached anymore.
Inside the car, his mother, a once eccentric blonde shot her son a smile, if you could even call it that. The corners of her mouth had curled upward, but her eyes were lifeless, staring at him but not really seeing him.
She would never admit it, but he knew she couldn't look at him the same when he resembled his father so much.
"Elijah," His dad would say with a hearty chuckle, looking off into the kitchen at his wife, an expression of adoration displayed across his manly features, "If you're ever lucky enough to find yourself a woman, make sure you never let her go."
He shut his eyes tight at the fond memory of his father, a man that was far too loving for any human being.
He supposed he was just too good.
Letting out a shaking breath, he looked back up to his mother who'd been gazing tiredly at the radio, not quite bothering to turn it on, but surely thinking of something to torture herself further, because sorrow has to make itself known that it's there, and memories are it's only way of creeping back inside.
Her pain was written all over, the way she spoke, how she dressed, everything was crumbling from the inside-out, but she had obviously decided to keep going, and Eli had made the conscious decision to help her in whatever way he could.
Her pain was visible, but not like her son's, for when Eli had tried to move past his demons, he was only reminded of them by the marks on his skin and the tugging on his heart.
He loaded the last box into the trunk of the car, shutting it until he heard the click. The trunk was absolutely filled to the brim with boxes, anything in the house that Eli could fit into a confined cardboard compartment was now shoved in the back of their car, and though it seemed excessive at the time, he knew it'd be best when they became settled.
He opened the passenger side door, frowning a bit as he noticed his mother had been crying again, small tears slipping down her pale cheeks. "Hey mom, why don't I drive?" Eli offered, and the woman couldn't quite turn him down, unbuckling and switching sides with her son.
CeCe had been silent mostly since Bullfrog had… passed. They were still unsure how to say what they wanted to say without it all sounding so deadly and unbearable to the tongue. Eli would often say in his head that his father was just gone temporarily, though he knew that wasn't the case. CeCe on the other hand kept everything bottled up and hidden on a shelf in the back of her minds basement.
"Things will get better, mom." Eli tried to tell her. Though he honestly didn't believe any of it himself, he felt that with his father gone it was his duty to take care of his mother. "Things always get better, you know? Aunt Audra is going to take care of you and me until things are good with us." He didn't expect her to say anything back. She didn't.
The drive from Ottawa to Toronto was roughly four hours, depending on traffic. Eli and his mother had spent the whole day sleeping so they could take the night route, hoping that it would be easier on the two of them. It wasn't for CeCe, who passed out an hour of the way into it. For Eli though, it was a much different story. Without Bullfrog around, Eli wasn't sleeping as regularly as a teenage boy should. Hell, he was hardly sleeping at all. There were no late night electric guitar rockouts or Bullfrog's full blown laugh to lull him to sleep anymore – just distant memories that haunted him far more than he would like.
They arrived at Eli's cousin's house around four in the morning. Eli didn't know his cousins very much, and honestly if it weren't for every two years they would have family reunions, he was sure he wouldn't remember their names. It was CeCe's older sister, Audra, who agreed to take the two of them in until they had stabilized themselves, got back on their two feet. Eli was sure that this was all bullshit, and that nothing would ever go back to the way it should be, but he always put on a happy face for his mother. DO NOT SHOW WEAKNESS. He would tell himself. SHOW IT TO THE CUTS ON YOUR WRISTS AND THE NIGHTMARES AT LEAST.
When they got there, Eli wasn't sure what to do. He barely touched his mom and told her that they were there. He had to go knock on the door, and he didn't know why it scared him so much. Audra had left the porch light on for them and if Eli looked closely he could see that the front light in the living room was shining, trying to bring some form of welcoming atmosphere. He knocked softly on the big red door with the two small windows and microscopic peep hole. And when Aunt Audra answered, a gloomy smile appeared on her lips.
"Eli, it's good to see you." She was lying. He had a thing for telling when people were lying.
"I left CeCe in the car." Eli nodded his shoulder back to the car sitting in the driveway. "She's just waking up. I'll go carry our things inside."
"I'll wake up Drew and Adam, they'll help you." She scurried back inside, first up the stairs and then down to what looked like a basement. He hoped that if he was staying anywhere, it would be in the basement.
Eli had to stay in a cramped bedroom on an air mattress with his younger transgender cousin Adam. Apparently Drew had said under wraps that he didn't want to stay with a 'suicidal, depressed emo kid.' Eli didn't know this, but Adam did. You could tell that Adam and Drew were pissed to have to wake up so early and to carry boxes of nearly worthless things in their hands up to the guest room that they had set up for CeCe. Eli was jealous – but only a little.
Everyone knew that they wouldn't be going back to bed after this. Adam pretended like he was going to try, but when Eli followed him up the stairs and started to rearrange some of his stuff, he woke up again and said something along the lines of:
"Hey dude – do you like video games?"
This resulted in an all-out war of Atari. And while mentally Eli was still grieving in every way possible, this took his mind off of the sadness suppressing him so badly. For a few minutes, at least.
Downstairs, Audra and CeCe were having a heart-to-heart sister conversation. You know, the ones you see in Hallmark movies.
In the basement, Drew was making out with his girlfriend he had snuck in hours ago. Hell, when Audra 'woke him up' he was hardly sleeping at all.
Eli really didn't know Drew at all, he was more of a figure to him. What a teenage boy is supposed to be. He wondered if that should bother him, that he was nothing like his cousin, the seamless model of an imperfect, rule-breaking, sex-obsessed, regular teenage boy.
Adam, on the other hand, he was different. They'd always gotten along when they were kids, when Adam had been dealing with deciding who he really was, shedding from the expectations of his parents.
Though, as time went on, Eli found it difficult to get along with anyone; especially himself, as made obvious by the scars decorating his skin in an unruly fashion.
Adam liked to talk, or at least that's how it seemed. Perhaps it was just words to fill the silence that Eli carried with him.
"That sucks, about your dad…I'm really sorry, man." Adam had a certain positivity about him, the kind that made him approachable, easy to talk to, but not even that was enough to string any sort of emotion out of Eli. He gave him the usual response.
The set of words that now slipped from his lips naturally felt so familiar to say, "It's all right, thank you," and Adam only nodded accordingly.
Friends of his mother had said Eli wasn't 'giving himself a chance to feel' when she'd inquired them about his apathy long before the passing of his father.
He wasn't always this way, not to him anyway. He has vague memories of listening to music happily with his father, helping Cece cook in their tiny kitchen.
Eli certainly remembers the moments with Julia, meeting the raven-haired girl at thirteen and believing it was love. And though it wasn't at first, it certainly did grow to be.
He flinched slightly at the foggy recollection of what used to be, letting the painful memories slip from his thoughts like he usually did.
Glancing toward the boxes that began to tower around their room, Eli wondered for a moment if Adam was going to stay as he unpacked, he wondered if Audra had put him on suicide-watch, ordering her son to keep an eye on him and hold him back if he decided to jump out the nearest window.
He wasn't always treated this way, no, usually his long-sleeve shirts and jeans were able to cover the marks, but after Cece found her husband's handgun beneath Eli's bed, she began to question, and his antics became a little less of a secret.
He'd been planning it for months, already having written out the notes he'd leave his family, and the few friends he'd have, he'd even sprung to write one for Julia, though she'd never be able to read it.
He listed that he was sorry for being the way that he is, that he hoped they wouldn't cry for him. Those notes rested inside of a book stowed away in one of the many boxes in front of him.
It was a rainy Sunday when 16 year old Eli Goldsworthy held his father's gun to his head, shutting his eyes and counting backwards from ten as his finger pressed on the trigger. He flinched, dropping to his knees at the realization that nothing had happened.
He was still there.
Shaken, he threw the gun beneath his bed, not expecting his father to need it anytime soon, and certainly not expecting his mother to clean out his room the next day while he was at school.
She and his father were at the door when he arrived home, tears in their eyes and the weapon in his mother's hands.
"You've been acting so strange…we know things have been hard for you, baby boy, but…please tell me you weren't going to kill yourself." Cece sobbed, leaning into Bullfrog's shoulder.
His father gave him a look, and Eli spoke up.
Adam shot Eli a look, laughing a bit as he shoved the boy's shoulder playfully. "Dude, are you gonna get started or are you just gonna stand there?"
Eli feigned a small smile, shaking his head a bit, "Right, yeah."
He hung his clothes in the closet next to Adam's, and folded his pajamas neatly in the much smaller dresser that sat just beside his air mattress. He kept his books in their box, finding that there was no room in Adam's bookcase stocked full of video games.
"I can take some of these out if you want…" Adam offered, though his words denied his actions, brushing the invisible dust off of the pristine cases. Eli thanked him but shook his head, making some joke that he 'Wouldn't dare mess with the feng shui of the room'. The boy only laughed, shaking his head and calling his cousin an asshole as he left the room.
Once everything was unpacked and he was seemingly 'at-home', Eli glanced around the room, letting out a long breath. But it didn't really feel at home. Without Bullfrog around, would anything feel like home anymore? Even when Eli and his mother would move into their own home, would things feel like home? He really didn't think that they would.
His first day in Toronto went by smoothly. He and CeCe went down to the public school that Adam was attending and signed him up for his classes. Trig. European History. Advanced Prep English. French. Economics. Anatomy. Study Hall. Everything seemed so organized and bland for his senior year, and this was exactly how he wanted it. Something he could just breeze through, graduate, and somehow move on through life.
When Adam came home from school with Drew, they were both arguing over homework and television and other brotherly things. He wondered what it would have been like if he had grown up with a brother. Or if he had grown up with a sister that was never really a sister at all. Eli had always been an only child, probably because Bullfrog would constantly make comments that Eli was too much to handle. He probably was. That was probably why Bullfrog wasn't around anymore; he was just too much to handle.
Apparently the Torres family ate dinner at the table every night, but Eli came up with some excuse that he didn't feel well so that he could skip it. Everyone allowed him to. They all saw the reflection of misery in him that they all saw in CeCe. Or maybe it was just that nobody wanted to mess with sadness.
Adam came in around seven-thirty, finding Eli reading Great Expectations and what looked like glimmers of tears in his eyes. Yeah, Adam was sympathetic for his cousin, but he just never really dealt well with death. Or other people crying. When his best friends' parents were getting divorced, he was the worst at comforting her. Let me buy you some French fries. There's a new Jim Carrey movie coming out? Oh come on, you know I'm bad with criers. Adam Torres was a wreck when it came to people with feelings.
Eli didn't know who Adam was talking to, but he was babbling on into his cell phone like his life depended on it. He figured it was some kind of girlfriend or something. And he was a little bit proud for his cousin – but he never spoke up about this newfound proudness that sat awkwardly in the pit of his stomach.
"Yeah, my rooms kind of a mess now." Adam muttered… he was starting to walk out the bedroom door, keeping his voice down. But honestly not down enough. "Seriously, Clare, he's a mess. He was crying while reading Great Expectations… yeah, I get that the book is sad at some parts but guys don't…cry. We don't want to show weakness… Clare, if you saw him you'd get what I mean; he's like some sort of gothic prince…"
Eli shifted uncomfortably in his spot on the air mattress. Stuff like this happened to him a lot. When his girlfriend had died, he had heard countless phone conversations between CeCe and her girlfriends gossiping about how Eli hardly left the house anymore. How Eli hardly ate anymore. How Eli hardly liked to do anything besides watch Dateline anymore. He was a newsie.
"Honestly, Abby, if you saw the way he looks at things anymore, it'd haunt you. He rarely comes out of his bedroom and when he does, it's to go to the bathroom. I'm worried about him… I'm worried he'll pull some kind of stunt... yes, like kill himself, Abby."
CeCe was always right about this kind of stuff. She spotted it from miles away but never approached it directly in fear that she might be wrong. But she wasn't wrong. He was in his room right then, writing up the goodbye notices to everyone that actually mattered anymore. But nobody really did.
CeCe and Bullfrog.
I'm really sorry. And I love you. But I can't try anymore. It's not your faults and never think it was or is or anything like that. It's me it's just me it's always me. I am worthless. I am miserable. I am nothing. I'm barely a son anymore. I love you and thank you.
She wouldn't have to gossip on the phone about him anymore. Because he wouldn't be around to talk about.
"Hey, dude." The door swung open, revealing a glassy green eyed boy staring off at the book turned over in his lap. A book that Adam was sure was filled with the literary works of Charles Dickens, and certainly not the chicken-scratched goodbyes he'd planned to leave his parents. Adam had the cell phone pressed up to his chest and a quirky look on his face. "Uh, my mom made ants on a log… I don't know if you like that shit but it's healthy and your mom told me to ask if you wanted any."
Eli shook his head. "I'm okay."
"Suit yourself, man. They're fuckin' delicious –" He suddenly brought the phone up to his ear. "I said freaking delicious! FREAKING DELICIOUS, CLARE!"
Eli listened halfheartedly as Adam's voice became quieter and quieter. Closing his eyes, he yearned for the feeling of a good night's rest. Something he hadn't experienced in a very long time.
But the longer he sat in silence the louder the memories became, replaying in his head over and over again without his permission.
He glanced toward the small dresser just next to his temporary bed and let out a breath of exhaustion at the three pill bottles seemingly staring him right in the face, begging him to give in to the medicated peace. Rolling over to lay on his back, his eyes found solace in staring at the plain white ceiling.
He could think of the dozens of times he and Julia had laid beside each other, playing short rounds of whispered 'truth-or-dare' until they'd get caught up in a heated embrace. Well, as heated as it got for two 15 year olds.
He could recall her funeral as well, and how the room was decorated in her favorite shade of blue, how her best-friend bravely stepped up to the podium and spoke so fondly of the girl she'd once known. He was never that brave.
Julia was like a dream to him, a dream that he'd been so lucky to experience over and over again. He loved her with everything he had, even in his darkest times of an unknown sadness, she was there, and she'd say to him. "You may be a mess, but you're my favorite mess of all." And he'd smile and they'd kiss and everything would feel right.
Her death shattered him in ways he could only express after much intensive therapy and downing 3 pills a day. After a while he learned that he couldn't bring her back.
She was gone and he was numb.
And as if it was a sick punishment for his indifference, life took his father away as well.
After what seemed to be an hour or two of what Eli assumed was 'family bonding', Adam came strolling into their room once more, and he was a bit shocked to find that he was still on the phone with this Clare character, though they were saying their goodbyes.
"Yeah I know, I'll see you tomorrow, okay? Cool." Adam let out a sharp breath as he tossed his phone onto his bed, giving his cousin an acknowledging nod as he took a seat on his mattress.
Eli turned around to sit on the edge of his "bed", so the two were facing each other.
"Girlfriend?" He spoke up, glancing toward Adam's phone that laid just next to his leg. He laughed a bit, shaking his head as if Eli was supposed to have already known this information.
"What, Clare? No. Ew." He explained, and Eli rose his eyebrows in confusion. "Well…not ew. She's not my type." Adam continued, and Eli only nodded in understanding.
"I'll introduce her to you tomorrow."
"You don't say a whole lot, do you?"
"Not a lot to say."
Adam seemed to understand, crawling into his bed and turning out the light on his nightstand, leaving them alone in the dark with an awkward cloud hanging over the two cousins. Though it didn't last very long, for within minutes of the light going out, he heard Adam's light breathing begin to fill the room, and Eli sat in jealousy, wondering how he could make it seem so easy.
Laying down on his back again, Eli tried his breathing exercises, but the more he practiced the more evident it became that he wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon, that he'd be staying up all night alone with his thoughts and the mere thought had his anxiety through the roof.
School wouldn't be an issue, he was good at school. He got the work, he finished it, and he turned it in. He certainly wouldn't be valedictorian, but he got by pretty easily.
No, that wasn't a problem, but the voices certainly were. Every time he closed his eyes he saw a million flashing images of his father, of Julia, of the scars on his body.
"You're going to get better and I'm gonna' be there to make sure you do." Bullfrog encouraged, patting his son's back with his large hand.
"I love you quite a bit, Goldsworthy." Julia's voice echoed, pulling him in for a quick embrace.
The voices were closing in around him, and the dark emptiness he felt throughout the day was replaced with frantic memories, sending his heart beating at an uncontrollable rate.
His breathing became labored, and he covered his eyes tightly with the palms of his hands, wishing the monsters in his head would wither as quickly as his sanity did.
His heart ached for the sadistic bliss of a blade on his skin, and he wanted nothing more than to slip into the bathroom and give in, but with Cece on edge, he knew he couldn't risk putting her through any more potential turmoil.
In an attempt to shake off the nightmares that haunted him before he had even fallen asleep, he pushed the blankets off of him and stood to his feet. Adam was passed out completely, turned up towards the ceiling, his mouth hanging open like a fish. Eli wanted to laugh, he really did. It was funny, and if he was in his right mind he was sure he would have pulled out his cell phone and taken a few pictures.
Eli tip-toed out of the bedroom and down the hallway to the staircase that was dimly lit with the lights from the kitchen. He assumed it would be Drew trying to sneak one of his dad's beers from the refrigerator, but was surprised to find his mother sitting dismally at the kitchen staring out the front kitchen window like something would change. Like before her eyes the night would turn to day or the ghost of her husband would appear and somehow tell her how to fix everything.
"Mom?" Eli whispered, not wanting to wake anyone else in the house up. CeCe slowly turned her head, meeting Eli with sad eyes. "Mom, let me help you get to bed. It's late. It's been a long day."
Things like this had happened many times before, when they lived in their old house, and Eli would find his mother curled up in a ball on the sofa, making silent sobs and letting tears loose that Eli should have been crying. He would help her into bed, tuck her in, tell her he loved her – things he hoped would cheer her up and mend the broken heart she would probably be stuck with for the rest of her life.
"Baby boy," CeCe started…her voice sounded so broken and emotional, "what would I do without you?"
His stomach turned into knots at her muttered unanswerable question. It was when she said things like these that he regretted his battered wrists and suicidal thoughts. Because he really had no idea what at all she would do without him… would she try to get rid of herself, too? Without her husband and her son, it was like things couldn't get any worse.
When Eli was younger, he had seen the ups and downs of his mother. She'd been an alcoholic when he was growing up, and it was often that he would find his mother passed out on the couch with a bottle of something on the table. When he was fourteen or fifteen, though, she'd sworn to hang up her old habits and move forward. Eli had figured that Bullfrog and CeCe had some sort of deep personal talk about how they thought it was ruining their son… he was probably right. CeCe went to AA meetings, they got rid of anything alcoholic, and CeCe had been clean ever since. But with Bullfrog gone, Eli wondered how long it would be until his mother would cave and have a drink or two or three or nine. Everything was in shambles with his father gone.
Eli tucked his mother into her bed and told her that he loved her. He always did this, and though she never thanked him for it, he knew deep down that she was beyond thankful for what he did. He wondered how long he'd be doing these things for her… it didn't matter, of course – he'd stay around forever if she asked him to. But he did have dreams, of course. Well, dreams he had yet to find yet. He honestly had no idea what he wanted to do with himself…just that he wanted to do… something?
"Are you going to be okay, mom?" Eli whispered. He knew the answer.
"I'll be okay, Eli. You go on up to bed."
"I can always sleep here with you… if you want."
Of course, he was offering more for his own benefit. For some reason, in the back of his mind he had this switch that would turn on and he'd turn out like a little kid again. Scared of the dark. And he'd need to crawl into bed beside his parents for the real safety that they somehow provided. Safe from the monsters.
Cece already appeared to be half asleep, but he assumed she knew what he was implying and she nodded her head slowly, lifting the covers on the opposite side of her bed for him to crawl under like he was six years old and hiding from the boogeyman.
The sheets were soft and inviting and Eli was convinced if he was anyone else he'd be asleep within moments, but when he shut his eyes tight he wasn't met with the serenity of sweet dreams but the shrill voices of the ones who'd left him.
It was only minutes before his mother had fallen asleep and Eli lied awake, allowing himself to drift for a couple of minutes here and there before his body would awake with a harsh jolt to remind him that he was alive, leaving him alone and sad and utterly disappointed.
And so he waited, just as he always did.
He waited for the sun to peak through the sliver of window neglected by the curtain, and he waited for the screams in his head to dim to whispers.
And it was then that Eli realized that it would always be this way.
Never hoping, never expecting, but always waiting.