Emma walked slowly towards her new school. "Degrassi Community School Welcomes You!" the black and white sign proudly declared. Students were milling around the front steps. Some were greeting each other like they hadn't been in touch in years even though it was probably less than a week. Other students were alone and looked like they were dreading going in. Emma fit into the latter category. It was her senior year and she was starting a new school. She cursed the fact that her parents felt the need to get a divorce and her mother wanting to move from Vancouver back to Toronto. Making her way into the building she barely spared a glance at the two boys standing at the top of the steps.
"She gets a solid eight," Jay said as he watched the tall blond walk by.
"You're just mad that she didn't notice you," Sean said with a grin as his eyes tried to catch another glimpse of the girl before she disappeared down the hallway.
"She didn't notice you either and you're supposed to be the school stud." Jay said as he turned his eyes back towards his friend. "I gave her an eight because she's wearing pants. Now that rating is subject to change if I see her in a skirt."
"I'm sure Alex would be interested to hear that," Sean replied absently as he spotted Paige's car pull into the parking lot. "She's here."
Jay rolled his eyes. "Great. Oh, and Alex is a lesbian now."
"Really?" Sean asked, unfazed by Jay's announcement. "Wasn't she bi last week?"
"She's decided she's gay so that means that I'm really available now. That hot blond number is right up my alley."
"I'm really happy for you but I've got to go." Sean said as he noticed Paige beckoning from her car.
"Man, it's the first day of our last year-"
"If you don't repeat." Sean interjected
Jay chose to ignore the comment made by Sean. "And all I want to do is spend some time rating women but you're ditching me for a woman. You're a traitor to all men. Besides, aren't you guys broken up again?"
"Yeah, but she's still hot. And I'm not really all that interested in having sex with you. Later." Sean jogged down the steps and out to his on again, off again girlfriend's car.
Jay watched for a moment as Sean gravePaige quick peck on the mouth. He rolled his eyes. He never understood what Sean saw in Paige. But whatever, Sean getting some was better than celibate Sean. Celibate Sean was a dick. Jay decided to head into school. Maybe if he found the tall blond he would be on his way to ending his own celibacy streak.
Emma nervously walked to her first class. She was late because she'd been stuck spending extra time talking to the principal. Mrs. Hatzilakos had wanted to make sure that she would be able to handle Degrassi. It was as though Emma hadn't managed to survive all those years at her old school with no problems.
"Sorry I'm late," Emma said as she walked into Media Immersion and handed the teacher her pass. She could feel eyes on her but she remained focused on the teacher.
"Ah, Emma McKay," Mr. Simpson said as he turned towards her. "Class, this is a new student, Emma McKay. I trust you'll all make her feel welcome. You can take a seat next to Jimmy here," he said, indicating a boy in a wheelchair. "He's one of my best students so he can help you if you get confused. We can talk after class so I can fill you in on anything you missed."
Emma gave Jimmy a small smile as she sat down. She quickly glanced around the room at the other students. A dark haired girl gave her a quick smile when Emma's gaze scanned over her. A guy with a baseball hat gave her a "let's get to know each other better" look and Emma had to fight to not roll her eyes. Her eyes kept roaming around the room. She was more curious about her new classmates than listening to the teacher.
Sean watched Emma as she glanced around the room. She was pretty cute so it wasn't much of a chore. Glancing at Jay, he saw that his friend already had a predatory look on his face. He then looked back to the nervous female. Things didn't look too promising for this one. A lonely new student would be perfect prey for Jay. Love 'em and leave 'em was Jay's motto. Or rather it was screw 'em and leave 'em. Sean thought about warning the girl but then he figured it wasn't his job to play hero. This girl, Emma, would just have to figure things out for herself.
The bell rang signaling the end of first period. Emma stayed behind and waited because she knew Mr. Simpson would want to talk to her. Students quickly filed out, the last being "the look" boy who gave her another look. This time Emma made a point of rolling her eyes and his look turned into an angry frown. Emma just smiled as he left.
"It's good to see you, Emma." Mr. Simpson said when everyone left.
"It's good to see you too, Snake." Emma said with a happy smile.
"I was sorry to hear about your parents divorcing," Snake said as he leaned against his desk.
Emma sighed as she stood up. "It's not like it's that big of a shock. I mean I think they've been fighting since I was born."
"Before that actually," Snake said with a smile. "And I'm going to be selfish and say that it's nice to have your mom back in town. Seeing you once or twive a year isn't really enough."
"Great. Tell her to call. Now, are you having any problems following along?"
"Not so far. I've been in regular school all my life so I'm used to adjusting."
"Fair enough. But if you have any problems then you can always tell me."
"I know. I'll see you later."
Emma smiled to herself as she headed to her next class. She'd known Snake since before she was born. Her parents had gone to Degrassi and they were all friends when Spike had gotten pregnant. Spike had managed to stay in touch with Snake and a couple of other classmates even after her subsequent marriage to Emma's dad, Shane, and their move to Vancouver after high school graduation. Spike,Emma, and sometimes Shane, would make the trek back to Toronto at least twice a year to visit family and friends. It wasn't like Emma was a total stranger to Toronto, but it was hard starting over.
Emma glanced around the cafeteria. The much dreaded cafeteria. She'd once read someplace that the cafeteria was worst place for a new student on the first day of school. A new person was okay in class but once lunch hit then it was a whole new ballgame. Where you sat in the cafeteria determined your social status. One wrong move and you could be persona non grata for the rest of the year. Not that Emma put a lot of stock into social status but she didn't want to be an outcast either. In Vancouver she'd enjoyed a rich social life. She was never the life of the party but she'd had a group of friends that she'd hung out with regularly. Spotting an empty table, she quickly walked to it and sat down. Hopefully she wasn't a total pariah and someone would sit with her.
Jay walked into the cafeteria just as Emma was sitting down. He got an evil grin on his face and made his way towards the table. He only managed to get halfway there when he was stopped by Sean.
"The lunch line is this way," Sean said as he grabbed Jay's arm.
Jay looked down at Sean's hand, annoyed that he'd been taken off course. "I know but the only thing I want to eat today is sitting twenty feet in the opposite direction."
"Weren't you the one bitching about me ditching you this morning for Paige?" Sean questioned.
"And yet you still ditched me," Jay pointed out, momentarily distracted from in point of interest. "Why should you be the only one getting laid?"
Sean could help but laugh. "That girl is not going to have sex with you. Let's go." Sean made his way through the crowd to the lunch line.
"You really don't think she would?" Jay asked, genuinely curious as he fell into place behind Sean.
"It's all about class, man." Sean pointed out as he weaved his way through annoyed underclassmen to the start of the line. "She's got it and you don't."
Jay was less friendly than Sean and shoved a skinny guy out of his way. "But you got Paige and you have no class."
"But I have the athlete card," Sean said as he grabbed two milks and set them on his tray. "She's a cheerleader and I play basketball so it works. But you like to work on cars and pick fights."
"I thought that's why you liked me," Jay said as he followed Sean down the line. He wrinkled his nose at the plate the lunch lady handed him. It was only the first day of school and they were already getting a mystery meat sandwich.
Sean gave Jay a strange look before pulling out his wallet to pay the cashier. "Yeah, but you're not trying to have sex with me. You're not, right?"
"You wish." Jay said as he handed his money to the cashier.
"Not really. It looks like someone else got to your chick first," Sean said as they made their way back to the seating area. "Manny and Paige have struck. They're probably trying to talk her into joining the squad."
"Well at least I'll get to see her in a skirt." Jay grumbled before going with Sean to the table that was now occupied by the hot chick and the two most annoying women he'd ever met.
"So the Spirit Squad is lots of fun. We get to go to all the games and talk to all the guys."
"I was right," Sean said as he pulled out a chair next to Paige. "I knew you were trying to talk her into joining the squad."
"Well, we all know this school is short on pretty girls so I just wanted to extend an invitation." Paige said with a frown as Jay sat down next to Emma. "Emma, this is Sean. The guy next to you is Jay. Please ignore his oafish table manners."
"I haven't even done anything bad yet," Jay said as he opened his milk and took a big gulp.
"But you will," Paige said with pursed lips. "I thought I would warn her first."
"That's big of you. I think I'll go sit with Towerz. Later Sean." Jay shoved back his chair and got up. He still wanted to make a move on the hot chick but he couldn't do it when Paige would have a running commentary of his every error.
"Good." Paige said with satisfaction. "Now about the Spirit Squad, do you think you'd be interested?"
"I'd like to but I'm afraid I have two left feet when it comes to anything more than walking." Emma said with a tone of regret in her voice.
"So does Paige," Sean interjected.
"Do you want to be banished too?" Paige asked as she flashed an angry look towards Sean.
"Right about now I do," Sean said as he stood up. "I'll catch you when you're not letting PMS control your emotions."
"And sometimes I wonder why we broke up," Paige said sarcastically.
"I don't. It's because you're a controlling, selfish, b-"
"Okay, that's enough!" Manny interuppted. "You've just met Emma and you're giving her a rotten impression."
"Whatever," Sean rolled his eyes and walked away to join Jay and Towerz.
"Ugh, men," Paige groaned in frustration.
"Yeah, they can be such jerks," Manny agreed.
"Totally," said Emma with a smile.
"So, did you leave any broken hearts in Vancouver?" Paige asked Emma.
"Oh several. They were throwing themselves at my feet as I left." Emma said jokingly.
"Oh my gosh," Paige smiled. "That reminds me of that guy I dated in ninth. The one who came to school in a cape."
"I remember that!" Manny exclaimed.
Emma listened as Paige told her story. She'd just been sitting there when the two of them approached her. Outside of trying to get her to joy the Spirit Squad they seemed to be pretty cool. Emma was just relieved to have new friends.
Sean walked out into the dark night. He'd just spent the evening working at Happy Harold's Arcade fulfilling the snack needs of little kids and pimply-faced teenagers. The annoying music of the arcade games and the jingle of coins left his ears ringing so now all he wanted to do was go home and enjoy the quiet of his parents' house. Sean was making his way past a dance studio when the door opened and out stepped a familiar-looking blond.
"Uh, Sean?" Emma asked as she squinted in the dark. "Your name is Sean, right?"
"Yeah. What are you doing here? Didn't you tell Paige you had two left feet?"
"I did," Emma said as she looked down at the ground. "It's just that I'm not much of a cheerleader. Don't tell Paige or Manny, I really don't want to hurt their feelings."
"Your secret is safe with me. Do you need a ride home?"
"I'm just going to take the bus." Emma said as she stepped around Sean. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Wait," Sean called out. "I know you don't know me but you're safer going with me than you are waiting for a bus."
Emma paused before turning around. "Yeah, you're probably right."
"Of course I am." Sean grabbed Emma's elbow and ushered her towards his Mom's orange VW Bug.
"Nice car," Emma commented as she slipped into the passenger's seat.
"It's my mom's. She wants to go back to the seventies. At one point she decided that she was going to paint flowers all over the body." Sean said as he started the car.
"What changed her mind?" Emma questioned.
Sean looked over his shoulder and pulled out into the road before answering. "She thought that she would be setting a bad example for me and my brother. I'm not really sure why. Oh no, Mom is painting her car with flowers, that makes me want to go out and steal something!" Sean said sarcastically.
Emma laughed at Sean's joke. The idea did seem pretty absurd.
"But Mom is cool. She lets me drive this thing pretty much whenever I want to so I can't complain. What about your parents?"
"They're cool," Emma said shortly. She really didn't want to talk about her parents. "So how old is your brother?"
Sean noticed the quick change in subject but didn't say anything. "Umm, twenty-eight now. Where do you live?" Sean questioned, realising he forgot to ask.
"Degrassi street, just a block from the school. That's a big age difference."
"Well, Tracker was my parents' early in life surprise and I was their later in life surprise. They weren't very big on planning their kids but it all worked out. Tracker is a cool guy. He taught me how to fix cars and he would beat up kids that were mean to me."
"And what did you do for him?"
"I let him."
Emma grinned again. Sean's quick sense of humor had put her at ease.
"Thanks for the ride," Emma said as he pulled up in front of her house.
"No problem," Sean said. "And don't worry, your secret is safe with me.
Emma had a smile on her face as she watched Sean drive away. Life in Toronto might not be so bad afterall.