|Play, Pause, Rewind
Author: xXxThe Phantom's RosexXx PM
There are songs that, when played after years gone by, bring back so many memories. Some of these memories are filled with happiness, and others not so much; but each one is special to us in someway or another. When Helen sends Clare a package of some of her old things from high school, and in it is her old iPod, what emotions and stories will be replayed when she presses 'play'Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Clare E. & Eli G. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 25,839 - Reviews: 55 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 11-10-12 - Published: 09-11-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8517477
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Some of the events I use aren't true to the show for the story's purpose. Please be patient and don't get all nit-picky. Thank you! You guys are awesome!
Song: Beautiful Disaster
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
Clare slipped into her pajamas and fixed herself a cup of Sleepy Time tea with milk and honey before sleepily crawling into her bed. It was late, and she needed to get some rest. It had been an exhausting week at The Reporter, and she was ready to spend the weekend recovering from it. As she sipped her tea and adjusted the pillows behind her head, Clare noticed it. She had almost forgotten she had placed it on her nightstand. The little pink beat up thing lay, almost mocking her, on the nightstand. Clare remembered she had told herself she'd listen to one more – just one more – song before she went to bed.
She clicked, and the iPod awakened. She then clicked the shuffle button, waiting to hear what song she would be presented with. The beat of the song taking her back to a time when she was much younger, much more naïve. Things were different now. She was different now.
Clare had first downloaded the song when she had been a freshman in high school. She hadn't heard it in forever until one day, shortly after the car crash, it had come up on one of her playlists.
He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme I know
He's as damned as he seems
And more heaven than a heart could hold
When it had popped up on the playlist, she had been walking down the hallway of Degrassi High School. She hadn't seen him at first. She had, but it hadn't registered in her head that it was him. He was donning his red polo and khaki pants, just like all the other juniors, but something was different. He had a cane in one hand, and was walking with a prominent limp. Clare's heart immediately broke when she saw him. He looked so damaged…he looked totally, completely, and utterly damaged. Not that he wasn't damaged before, but now he wore new wear and tear. It was then Clare realized how much this song just fit for him.
Eli was the most intense person she had ever known. He had so much passion and fire behind his eyes, and Clare knew that that passion was both beautiful and dangerous. He seemed to just feel things deeper than anyone she had ever known before. Pain and pleasure were intensified, and she supposed it was just one of the risks of having your heart sewn so vulnerably to your sleeve. He saw beauty and pain in almost everything. It was like the beauty resided in pain, and vice versa for him.
He once told Clare that sometimes things he found beautiful would break his heart. She didn't know how that could be, but now she understood. She noticed as he hobbled down the hallway that his piercing green eyes hadn't lost their spark – in fact, they were more on fire than she had ever seen them before. They were beautiful. They weren't dancing like they used to, but were glaring icicles as he walked past her. Clare felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand erect. Eli still had that effect on her, even after everything. She realized then how beauty can break your heart. Eli's cold, callous eyes were so stunningly beautiful, and they broke her heart.
And if I try to save him
My whole world could cave in
It just ain't right
It just ain't right
She just couldn't do it anymore. Eli's intensity (which she later found out was on part because of his bipolar disorder) was too much for her to take. She just couldn't do it anymore. She knew he was broken, and she had tried to mend him back together – sewing him back together with the strings she had cut from her own heart. But in doing so, her heart began to unravel and tatter. She grew weaker in trying, and eventually it had become too much for her.
She had to escape him. She had hated thinking of it in that way; but she knew they were too toxic together. He was toxic to her. He scared the crap out of her, terrified, and fascinated her. She was too much of an addiction to him. She realized this when he crashed the hearse. She realized he was too dependent on her. She had become his whole world, and without her, he had tried to kill himself.
She needed to quit – for both their sanities. So she did. He had reached out to her in that hospital bed, and she had neglected his hand and had run out, scared and angry. She knew she needed to do it. Eli needed to learn to find himself and his own strength, not just investing his whole soul into her. She couldn't do that. She couldn't be that commitment.
So she left.
Oh and I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful
Or just a beautiful disaster
That day after school, she was heading out the doors when she saw Adam and Eli talking on the steps. She noticed that the cane had a skull on the top, just like Robert Mapplethorpe. Clare couldn't help but see the similarities. Mapplethorpe saw pain in beauty and beauty in pain. Clare shyly had blushed as she recalled some of the photographs Mapplethorpe had taken that they had studied in her art classes.
Her blush was like a magnet for Eli, and instantly he had pushed himself up off the banister of the concrete steps. Adam opened his mouth as if to stop him, and Clare tucked a curl behind her ear, hoping maybe he would just walk past her. Maybe she had become invisible to him. She wished he hadn't seen her, or seen her blush. She was exhausted from the day, and didn't want to deal with his intensity wearing her down even more.
"Edwards," his voice was curt, and his head bowed ever-so-slightly downwards.
"Eli," Clare adopted his tone and the bow, "You have to use a cane?"
Eli shrugged, rubbing the skull with his hand as if it were a crystal ball and he was trying to foretell the future.
"Um…I'm glad you're up and moving about. That's good," Clare had no idea what to say, and realized her voice was suddenly too chipper for any conversation they could ever share together from that point, "Um…I better be going…"
"Look at me," Eli grabbed her forearm a bit too tightly, spinning her around as she turned to leave. Adam had jumped to his feet and was by Eli's side within the blink of an eye.
"Eli…" Adam gestured with a nod that they should go.
"No, I need to ask her this," Eli turned back to Clare and stared at her with ice in his veins and frost in his eyes, "Do you think you broke my heart?" Eli asked, his voice slicker than iced cement.
"Eli…" Clare's brow furrowed in puzzlement, "What kind of…"
"Answer…the god…damned…question…Edwards," Eli spat out each word as if they were acid in his mouth. His tone frightened her, but the look in his eyes frightened her even more.
"Eli…I…I don't know how to answer that. I never…I would never want to break your heart, but…the way you looked at me in the hospital that night…I'm afraid I did."
"You're afraid you did?" Eli parroted back calmly, then half laughed, half shouted, "You're afraid you did?"
"Eli…" Adam shot Clare an apologetic look and tugged at his friend's black jacket, "Come on."
"No," Eli shook Adam off of him, "You are afraid you broke my heart?" Eli chuckled, but there wasn't something right behind that chuckle, "Well, Miss Edwards, I am afraid you didn't. You see," a sickening grin spread across his face, "you can only break someone's heart when said someone gives you that heart. People…people they give other people their hearts. And they…they trust them not to break them. They give them to them…and they just trust that the other person will…take care of it for them. But you? Edwards, you couldn't have broken my heart because…well…because I never gave it to you to begin with."
His words were like a slap in the face, and Clare reeled backwards as if they had been, "Eli…"
"That's not cool, Eli," Adam hissed at his friend, "Not cool at all. You don't mean that…"
"Don't tell me what I fucking mean and what I fucking don't mean," Eli turned on Adam and for a moment, Clare thought he would punch him. Adam stood his ground though, and didn't flinch a muscle as Eli clenched a fist at his side.
"Chill. Now," Adam commanded, "Before you do something that's going to get your ass in a whole hell of a lot more trouble than it already is. Go!"
"I don't have to go anywhere, Adam."
"Go!" Adam ordered, pointing towards the steps where they had been sitting not a few minutes before. After Eli had retreated, like a puppy with its tail between its legs, but still barring its teeth, Adam turned to Clare, "He doesn't know what he's saying…"
"It's fine," Clare nodded too quickly, staring down at the ground too intently, and pushing a strand of hair behind her ear too gruffly, "I hurt him and he's angry. He has every right to want to hurt me back."
"Did it work?" Adam ducked his head so his eyes could meet hers.
"Sort of," Clare blushed furiously, still staring at the pavement beneath her, "I'll be fine though. It's him I am worried about."
"Me too," Adam nodded, "I'm going to wait with him until Bullfrog comes and picks him up. Don't worry, I'll try to keep my eye on him."
Adam lowered his voice and ducked his head as he whispered in her ear, "He would kill me for this, but Bullfrog and Cece have found him a psychiatrist. His first appointment is this evening."
Clare was taken back, "Well…I hope he or she can give everyone some answers."
"Me too," Adam moved back a step, "If you need me, call me alright?"
"Always do," Clare smiled up at the boy who had quickly become her best friend. They said their goodbyes, and she walked the rest of the way home, alone with her thoughts – and that song.
Clare wondered if maybe she had made some sort of grave mistake. She did love Eli very much. She loved him so much that it scared her. She had never loved someone so deeply before, and that amount of love frightened her. She didn't know her broken little heart could contain so much love – especially for a single person.
Maybe she had made a mistake in ending it. Clearly, they were both broken and their wounds still smarting, open, and oozing. What had she done? She had tried to protect them both, and in the end, they both ended up hurting and broken. Eli could be a jerk sometimes, but he could also bring so much light and joy into her world. Only he could make her eyes dance, and it seemed to her, she had been the last person since Julia to make his eyes dance as well. But he scared her so much – happy one minute, angry and brooding and aching the next.
It was too much for her. Clare thought back to what he had just said while on the steps of Degrassi. He had said the words he knew would cut through her flesh and into her beating heart the deepest and sharpest. He knew exactly what to say to hurt her, and he had done just that. Congratulations, Eli. Clare felt bile in the back of her throat and gulped it down on top of the lump that formed.
He's magic and myth
As strong as what I believe
A tragedy with
More damage than a soul should see
And do I try to change him
So hard not to blame him
Hold on tight
Hold on tight
Eli was definitely a tragedy in and of himself. He was aching so much, and seemed to carry the weight of the whole world on his shoulders. He had gone through so much, and his pain was unbearable for Clare to witness. He had already been put through so much with the loss of Julia and the diagnosis (Adam had later shared with her that Eli had been professionally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression). It wasn't fair that he had been put through so much more on top of that.
Clare thought back to a better time – a time when they had gotten back together the next year. She was now a junior, and he a senior. They had gotten back together at Adam and Drew (Adam claimed the uniform burning, Drew claimed the drinking) party. Afterwards, things were on fire. It was as if they felt like they had to make up for lost time, and each kiss, each touch, each 'I love you' seemed to mean so much more.
He was taking his medications, and his intensity was under control. Their romance had been hot, but he didn't once throw his whole soul into her like he had previously. And because of that, it seemed as if he loved her more this second time around.
Clare learned to forgive him for the hurtful things he had said after their break up. He knew he had been aching and confused and sick. She had even talked to Bullfrog about it once when she had arrived early for a date. He had told her that during that time, Eli had become a very ill person, and he had a seriously disorder that he couldn't control. The chemicals in his brain were so jumbled and he had been a walking Coke and Mentos waiting to explode.
Only a metaphor Bullfrog could create.
I'm longing for love and the logical
But he's only happy hysterical
I'm waiting for some kind of miracle
Waited so long
Everything had been so perfect after that. He had gotten help, and the chemicals were under control thanks to the meds whipping them back into shape. Eli could feel happiness without pain, see beauty without pain, and love without pain. To Clare, it was as if all her prayers had been answered. Eli was "normal" – well, as normal as Eli could possibly be; and Clare was grateful for that. Besides, she didn't want him to be too normal.
Now that he was under control and genuinely happy, they could genuinely be happy together – and they were. To Clare, it was as if a miracle had taken place. He's soft to the touch
But frayed at the ends he breaks
He's never enough
And still he's more than I can take
Clare sat down the cup of tea, feeling her eyes growing heavy. She felt the sleepiness and the song transport her back to another time. Things had been so different back then. She had been so happy, so carefree with Eli at her side. She realized then that she had taken for granted the thing they had fought so hard not to take for granted.
She had been so happy with Eli, that she had just automatically expected that happiness to last forever. You know better than that, Clare winced, turning off the iPod before another song had the chance to shatter her heart and her world.
She rolled over, turned out the light, closed her eyes, and went to sleep.
"Clare…Clare, don't look at me like that. Clare…we can do this alright."
"No…no Eli. There must be some sort of mistake. They screwed up. This isn't right…"
"Clare, there's no mistake. This is…this is real. But we can do this together. Promise me you're still all in, Clare. Don't back out on me now. I know you're scared, but Blue Eyes, I'm fucking terrified too. We can do this."
"Eli…I don't know…I just…we…"
"Don't you look at me like that," he put his hands on her shoulders and gave her a firm shake, "Clare, it's me. Stop looking at me like that. Stop…doubting. We can do this. I'll be fine. I'm strong. I'm healthy!"
"Don't say that," Eli released her, dropping his hands to the side, "Please…"
"I love you, Clare. Look at my ring I put on your finger the day I graduated from high school. It was too big then, so we had it sized for you. Remember? Remember when I put it on your finger and said I couldn't bear to not have you in my life?"
"We're going to be together forever, Edwards. Alright? Or should I say…Mrs. Goldsworthy. That'll be soon, huh? How many more months?"
"How many more months?" Eli asked adamantly.
"Six more months and then you become my wife. If…that is…you're still in."
Clare's heart swelled, and she didn't know what had come over her. She jumped up and grabbed Eli into a hug and passionately kissed him. After they released each other she said, "Of course I'm all in, you dummy!"
Clare awoke with a jolt. Her heart was beating and she felt sweat on her forehead. She touched her lips, as if the dream had been real. It had felt so damn real – too damn real. She picked up the phone from the nightstand. She knew it was late, but she felt so alone – so terrifyingly alone.
"Hello?" A groggy voice sleepily played on the other end.
"I had the dream again," Clare said in between pants for breath, "Adam, I had the dream again…you know the one…the one when he first told me…"
"God, Clare," Adam was awake now, and his voice seemed to take on the pain and urgency in her own, "Do you want me to come over? If you need me to, I can be there in an hour with whatever you want. Just say the word."
"I know," Clare smiled, accustomed to the tradition they had formed, "But I have to learn how to get through this on my own. I can't just…I can't have you come over each time I have this dream. I'll be fine."
"I have to be," Clare laughed a sad laugh, "How are you?"
"Holding up. Clare…I know it's been ten years, but I just want you to know that it's perfectly normal to still be harboring these emotions. Eli was a big part of your life, Bear," he used the shortened form of her nickname, Clare-Bear, and Clare felt her heart swell, "I understand you're still grieving."
"I just wish I could…"
"No you don't. Trust me."
"How'd you know what I was going to…"
"I know you, Clare. You were going to say you wished you could forget. Don't ever think that. Alright? Ever. It's good to move on. It's healthy to move on, but to forget? You don't want to forget."
"Thanks, Adam," Clare smiled into the phone, "I'm going to try to get some sleep."
"You do that, and let me get some sleep as well. Crazy person, callin' me at freakin' two in the morning!" He was laughing as he said it, and Clare couldn't help but smile into the phone.
"You're amazing, you know that, right?"
"Don't push it, Torres," Clare rolled her eyes, "Good night."
Clare sat the phone back on the nightstand. She needed to do this herself. She couldn't have Adam over every time she woke from one of her dreams. She needed to learn how to 'self-soothe.' Clare rolled her eyes, what am I? Some sort of specialist? She sighed and turned off the light a second time, rolled over, and tried to go back to sleep.