Chapter 16:

A/N: Hi everyone! Thank you for all the epic reviews and here is the next installment of Chasing Doves. It's going to be a long winter break, since Degrassi won't be back on until February. What to do!

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There was a bet? Clare sighed with evident annoyance. Even as tempting as that sounded, why would she want to know about it. Wasn't she humiliated enough? Owen chuckled, enjoying her aggravated body language.

"Let me just remember what it was called." Owen said, feigning memory loss. Clare rolled her blue eyes and then Owen grinned and snapped his fingers in recollection.

"I think it went a little like, who could deflower Clare Edwards first." He said trying to mask the evident amusement on his face. Clare's breath caught in her throat. She didn't know what to think of that. Owen was full of crap and she didn't want to believe him. Yet he and Fitz were best of buds, sounded like something they would converse about.

"You guys are disgusting." Was her only response and Owen placed his hand on his chest and grinned with a fake expression of pain.

"Ouch, that was harsh but I didn't come up with it sweetheart. Not saying I wouldn't take part." He shrugged and when he caught sight of her distraught face, he laughed.

"Hey be flattered. Guys want to bone you." He said matter of factly. Why was she still listening to him? Clare didn't need this and she pushed herself off the tree and proceeded to leave. As she passed him, Owen grabbed her upper arm and pulled her back to face him.

"Where are going, thought we were having a conversation?" He asked.

"Let go of me." Clare said rather calmly and Owen smirked.

"You know, I'd be more than happy to help you get back at Fitz. Maybe make him jealous." He suggested as he gave her body a look over. Even though she was fully clothed, Clare felt revealed at that moment and wished she had brought her sweater. The way he was looking at her was very discomforting.

"There's a spot behind those trees over there." He indicated with a slightly husky voice and Clare tried to pull her arm back, which was pointless.

"If I had the choice to be mauled by a bear or lose my virginity to you, I'd take the bear." She stated simply, trying to pull her arm from his grip once again but it only seemed to tighten. His once amused face flashed to that of annoyance and he let out a chilling chuckle.

"I thought I was being nice for offering, but I think girls like you need a little push." He said as he did just that and shoved her against a nearby tree.

"What are doing?" Clare asked frantically.

"Relax, you might just like it." He whispered, as he gently trailed the back of his fingers down her cheek.

"No, let go." Clare demanded, trying to break free but her small frame couldn't fend off his larger one. Just as Owen began to pop open the first button on Clare's cardigan, he heard a nearby rustling and turned his head to see two drunken teenagers stumble in on them. Clare recognized the blond guy from before and was a tad bit relieved because there sudden presence seemed to cease Owen's actions. The two teens looked just as surprised as they did. The blond guy spoke up as the inebriated girl hanging on his arm giggled.

"Oh, sorry bro didn't know this spot was taken." He apologized and Owen scowled. Clare immediately and roughly pushed Owen away. With shaken breathes, she shoved past the two drunken teenagers, who were inadvertently her saviours.

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Fitz couldn't find her and he presumed that she had went home but when Scottie began bragging that Owen had that virgin girl in the woods, he quickly sought out for her. He saw Owen leaving the woods with a rather pleased look on his.

"Where is she?" Fitz asked more as a demand then a question. Owen only raised his brow and when realization hit that he was talking about Clare, the jock couldn't help but place a mischievous smirk on his face.

"Oh, little Edwards… I think she headed home. I probably made her tired." He boasted and Fitz furrowed his brows.

"Don't worry…" Owen began as he patted Fitz's shoulder "…I used a condom." He left before Fitz could respond.

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All she had to do was stick with her plan. What was her plan you ask? Avoid Mark Fitzgerald as much as possible. It would have been easy if he wasn't already loitering near her locker. She silently cursed under her breath and tried to turn around smoothly without being seen. Too bad the guy had eyes like a hawk and caught her in his line of vision.

"Clare." Fitz called, as he approached her.

"I thought I told you to stay away from me." Clare stated not turning around. Slightly annoyed, Fitz grabbed her wrist and turned her body towards him. It was then that she noticed the fresh bruise on his face.

"What happened?" She asked unconsciously and mentally kicked herself for doing so. Fitz only smiled by her concern and shrugged.

"I punched Owen…and then he punched me back." He stated simply causing Clare to arch her brows.

"May I ask why?" She questioned and he averted his gaze quickly.

"He was saying shit about you and him in the woods."

Clare's eyes darkened and with that scene playing in her mind, she yanked her wrist away from him.

"I appreciate you defending my honour and all, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm mad at you." Clare explained and Fitz only sighed.

"Did you make a bet with Owen on who could sleep with me first?" Clare asked. Fitz pulled in his brows as a look of shock adorned his face.

"What?"

"It's a simple yes or no question." She huffed impatiently.

"No, I didn't." Fitz responded back and Clare looked away. Perhaps the idea crossed her mind that he had but she was never entirely sure about what was going on in that head of his. He was a difficult person to read. Telling by her non-trusting stance, he sighed.

"Can I at least explain myself?" He said and Clare shrugged.

"That depends, will it be the truth?"

"Yes." He went silent after that and Clare couldn't understand what he was contemplating about, perhaps another lie maybe? She crossed her arms and Fitz finally made eye contact with her.

"At first, I just wanted to tick Eli off. I thought the best way was by making time with his girl. So I asked you to tutor me." He stated.

"How exactly was that supposed to make Eli jealous?" She asked sceptically and he shrugged.

"I don't know. I was probably just going to say things and flirt with you in front of him." Wow, something he and Owen had in common.

"Your plan sounds flawed." Clare said and Fitz only gave her a knowing grin.

"Yeah, I know. I wasn't betting on this one minor issue." He responded. Clare pursed her lips.

"What might that one minor issue be?" She asked.

"I might end up liking you." He replied and Clare blushed.

"I wasn't expecting on opening up to you and I didn't think a girl like you would ever consider liking a guy like me." He explained truthfully. That caused Clare to smile a bit, maybe there was still some hope that this wouldn't end badly. She just wanted him to answer one more question.

"Was Bianca lying about it being your idea to hurt Eli?" She asked suddenly. He shut his eyes momentarily, cussing out Bianca silently. Why the hell did Clare have to bring that up?

"Fitz." Clare said quietly calling his attention and she noted his eyes held a different emotion.

"No-" he began but when he caught her disappointed expression he quickly continued.

"It was only a joke. I didn't know the others would take it seriously." He explained.

"I asked if you knew anything about it, and you looked me in the eyes and said no." She replied. Fitz narrowed his eyes.

"So you lied to me." Clare spoke.

"It's not like I actually did it."

"You still implanted the idea in their heads, which is worse." Clare argued and Fitz had rolled his eyes.

"Okay, so I lied but I did it so you wouldn't get upset." He stated back. She was silent for a moment and he could tell she was thinking about something.

"This is going to sound really sappy and probably ridiculous but I really do like you Clare." He said with a hint of shyness as he rubbed the back of his neck and averted his eyes away from hers. Clare noticed the hint of red on his cheeks and scowled at how adorable he looked confessing that.

"Fitz-" Clare began but she couldn't seem to find the right words.

"Look, can we just start over?" He asked quickly and Clare looked down. She inhaled deeply while still in thought. This was going to be difficult.

"I… don't think I can." She exhaled softly and worked up the courage to gaze into his eyes, which only reflected rejection and…hurt.

"I'm sorry." She said immediately after but he only looked away.

"Yeah, whatever." He responded coldly and brushed past her, leaving Clare to watch as he walked away. Even though he had changed, she just couldn't take him back like that. Not after he had lied to her. It was just the principle of things. Clare could feel the unshed tears welling up in her eyes. Damn principles.

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Was… she crying? Eli cocked a brow up and stepped into the empty English classroom. Sure enough, there she was. Her face was buried in her hands and when Eli sat on top of his desk in front of her, she didn't raise her head.

"What do you want?" She asked, the question muffled by her hands.

"I'm guessing things didn't go well with Fitz?" He asked cautiously. Suddenly Clare lifted her head up to look at him, revealing her slightly red and puffy eyes.

"Well you were right." Clare said to him. Eli only looked down and the silence was killing her.

"Isn't this the part where you say 'I told you so'?" She asked. Eli smirked and clasped his hands together.

"I don't like kicking people when there already down." He said truthfully and Clare laughed.

"That's surprising; I thought you would be all over this, rubbing it in my face." She responded with a weak smile.

"What happened?" Eli asked with evident concern and Clare shook her head.

"Let's just say it was one big elaborate scheme to get back at you. So congratulations Eli, the world does revolve around you." Clare stated as she sat back and Eli only smirked.

"Well it only seems fair since I am larger than life, to get my own orbit." He joked and Clare laughed.

"Do you think you're funny?" she asked light heartedly with a smile. He leaned in and offered her a conceited grin.

"No…I think I'm adorable." With a roll of her eyes, Clare kicked the bottom of his chair with her foot, causing him to have to catch his balance.

"I was kidding." He laughed. Clare only stuck out her tongue in response, but she couldn't stop the tears that continued to trail down her cheek.

"Hey, I don't like to see you cry." Eli said softly as he leaned in and brushed one tear from her porcelain skin.

"I just feel so stupid." Clare explained quietly.

"You're not stupid Clare… you're too damn nice." Was Eli's response and she smiled.

"I'm taking that as a compliment."

"Let me take you to The Dot after school, cheer you up." Eli offered and Clare looked up at him, a small blush developing on her cheeks but it could easily be masked with the fact she had been crying.

"That sounds really nice."

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"Are you still mad at me?" Bianca groaned, mostly due to her hangover, which was still bothering her. She had previously popped two aspirins into her mouth and settled on chugging down the contents of her water bottle. Fitz didn't respond and only slammed his locker closed, causing Bianca to flinch from the loud noise.

"Dude chill, I was so drunk, I can't even remember what I said to her at the party." The raven-haired girl stated, rubbing her temple to soothe the throbbing head ache. Yet again there was no response.

"Come on Fitz, you'll get over it, she just some stupid girl." Bianca sneered and he turned to her sharply. He parted his lips, as if to tell her off but he stopped himself. Instead he pressed his lips tightly together and shook his head. He left her staring blankly at the spot he had just been standing. Why did Bianca feel like she had to fix something?