Author Mentions: Sequel to The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot. I'm not sure if I did this justice, but goodness I tried. I hope my editing was okay too, I am my own beta. The Title and Song lyrics are Degausser by Brand New. I recommend them for a good angst ride.
Disclaimer: I own four quilts, four pairs of new shoes, and a beat up Ipod. No Degrassi, No Munro, Nothing.
Take me, take me back to your bed
I love you so much that it hurts my head
I don't mind you under my skin
I'll let the bad parts in, the bad parts in
3 hours apart
And then, on the third morning, she wakes up, and he's gone.
She isn't sure how long he's been gone accounting that she fell asleep a little afterward nine the night before. She didn't have the intention of going to sleep so early, especially not with Eli there, but she did. The last three days had been so tiring, so body-numbing exhausting. The slumber was waiting for her, ready to spring and take her away at first flutter of an eyelid. It had tricked her, and she had fallen for the trap.
He didn't say anything before leaving. Didn't leave a hint or a clue, didn't write a note, call her voicemail. There are his clothes all over the floor of her room, a stripped long-sleeved shirt, a random pair of boxers. One of his rings is on her night stand table, and there's a box of cereal by the bed from last night. He's everywhere, he left himself smudged over her walls, and in her sheets, and most importantly, in the farthest corners of her heart.
She had no idea where he is, and the question grates on her insides.
But she'd wait for him to come back. She'd have to.
6 hours apart
He has no idea where is, but he's driving. There's music on, but it's one of Clare's bands, he can tell, because they're singing quietly and a piano is tinkering in the background. It shouldn't be mind-numbing, memory-erasing, but it is; it's perfect. It's nothing like him.
But his insides ache even more when he thinks of Clare. He tries so hard not to picture her face but it's so hard when she's everything: She's in his fingers, underneath his toes, between his shoulder and his neck. She's hidden in his ears, and the soreness behind his ears. She's festering away at his heart, and at his brain.
He ignores the voice inside his head that tells him that this will hurt Clare (and the tone of voice sounds like Clare, too) but he can't help it: He has to leave, just for a little bit, just for the blink of an eye. He can't handle being inside his own skin, he can't help feeling the throbbing, white noise in his head, putting him on edge.
He has no idea where he is, but he needs to be lost.
He needs to be gone.
9 hours apart
It's been the first day into the official break and she can't sit still. Her dad came home for the night and he's in the kitchen eating over the sink, still in his work clothes. She's sitting by the laptop in her room, hoping he would somehow have internet access and would be able to contact her. When there is nothing for a couple of hours, she reasons that he isn't by a computer and that's probably a good thing. She can't help but hold her phone tightly in her hand, until she realizes that he left his own here, too, sitting on the nightstand.
She can't stop pacing around the house, taking all his clothes and throwing them in the wash again. She realized the ones she had hastily thrown in the wash three days ago were still there, and she wondered what he was wearing. She had a hard time picturing Eli walk into his house, talk to his parents, before taking Morty and leaving like it wasn't any big deal, like they weren't worried sick, seeing as he hadn't been home since before what happened. She thought, earlier that morning, that maybe he had gone home to explain to them where he was, but when she rode her bike passed their home (she had left him a note on the doorstep saying she'd be home soon just in case he came back while she was gone), it was deserted. No one was there.
She made her bed, and cleaned the stove, under the stove, and refilled the hummingbird feeder outside her window. She showered, taking extra time to wash her hair and comb it straight into her bob, looking at her bony ribcage in the mirror, her small and perky breasts. She made improvement on her sizeable stack of vacation homework. She wrote love letters, hate letters, put Eli's headphones over her head and closed her eyes.
But nothing seemed to distract her from the inevitable, dooming question: That he had just left.
That he wasn't coming back.
12 hours apart
He drove to the closest body of water he could find and only stopped because he wasn't sure Morty was exactly waterproof. He looks around at the trees; they're tall and unperturbed and dark, leering at him and protecting him at the same time.
And then he knows exactly where he is.
He falls to his knees at the bank, getting his black jeans dirty. His edge of his palms dig into his eye sockets, and he can feel his whole body shaking. It's chaotic, the turmoil inside of his body, and it's so contrasting to the still clear water and the drifting leaves. After hours, or maybe minutes, he gets up, wiping his sleeve across his face.
He found the wooden lake cabin within a matter of minutes, and wondered if the green key would still be underneath the rustic watering can Julia's mother used to use. When it was, it felt heavy and foreign in his fingers, like he watched a younger brother use it, but he himself had never touched it. When he walked inside, it was the same as it looked three years ago, though it was obvious no one had been there since Julia had died.
The nostalgia was almost overwhelming, and he was caught between being in pain and ingesting it into his system. The small kitchen, and the bunk rooms off to the left, with the patterned quilts Julia's grandmother used to make thrown over the worn, outdated couches. The windows still let in the same amount of light that they had three years ago, and the fourth floorboard still creaked when he stepped on it.
He found his way to the bunk he used to sleep in during the summer, where Julia would sneak in (avoid the fourth floor board) and lie next to him. It was where they had had sex for the first time, where Julia would read him her poetry, where her eyes would watch the ceiling for hours, lost in though. He sank down into the mattress, face down. It smelt like the pages of old books, and Julia's mother's lavender perfume, and summer time. It smelt like escape.
15 hours apart
When Alli calls, it's almost a surprise to be talking to another human being again. It's only been 3 days since break started, technically, as it was a Monday, but ever since that day, it feels like forever. It's strange to hear her kind of best friend's voice. She has no idea what to say.
Because it's almost an insult to everything that's happened to talk so lightly about other things when Eli is missing, and Eli is broken, and she is alone, but there isn't any way for her to ever tell Alli. Alli could never know about any of this, and so she sat on the front porch, waiting for the familiar hearse to drive by, for that familiar boy to step out and come into her arms. She listened to Alli go on about Drew, and her broken heart, and Owen, and how scared she was of, but then, how glad she was to see Drew. It was all so confusing, Alli realized verbally, and she had no clue what to do. And Clare had no answers for her.
She felt less than a friend, and it was strange to look at her from this perspective - everything about her was so wrapped up in Eli, all the time. She felt for a moment that she was losing herself, again, all over again. And it was all because of someone she loved. In in effort to keep Eli safe, she was losing herself.
Everything looks different when something is taken from you
She finds the journal and fishes it out of the recycling.
18 hours apart
He opens his eyes and doesn't believe how sunny it is. He opens his eyes and he can't believe that he's not alone. The first thing that comes to his mind is: how does Clare know about this place? The second is: this was not Clare.
It's Julia. Julia, her long, curly dark hair plaited, a few stray wisps of hair falling around her face. Her cheeks were a little pink, and her skin was a few tones darker, like it usually was in the summer time. Her eyes were hooded and reminded him of bedroom eyes, seductive and mischievous like they had been before. The small half smile playing on her lips, the original smirk, before his own.
"Julia," He whispers, and he wants to reach out and touch her, but he doesn't. He hesitates. "You're here."
She nods, and there are tears ushering in her eyes, and he thinks, don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. But the tears, as thick as they look on her long, dark lashes, don't spill over. Instead, she smiles wide, like she used to whenever she got to see him. It was hopeful, grateful.
"Eli. Oh, I've missed you." She says, and her voice sounds the same; alluring, almost on edge, like she didn't speak English as a first language. "Don't you miss me?"
"Of course I do." He nods solemnly. "Every day I miss you."
"But why are you here, Eli?" She asks, and he looks down at her body: so life-like, so real, with tiny legs in black jeans, a white t-shirt. Small wrist bands cover her lithe wrists. Every moment looking at her is infinite. He's surprised he can take it, that his body can withstand this kind of emotional uproar. But he doesn't feel anything, come to think of it. It's like his body is floating, reluctant to pain and suffering for a moment, and only his brain can decipher what's wrong and what's right. What's real and what isn't. Barely.
"I don't know."
"Tell me why you came back here. I'm not mad, but I'm scared, Eli. What has you so distraught? What's wrong, baby?" She asks, and he wants to know what it's like to have her hand run up the side of his face like she used to.
"I'm scared, too. Julia. I am so scared."
21 hours apart
She's asleep, but she's dreaming. She keeps running in circles in a dark barn filled with antique art and strange, dusty tables when unexpectedly she's caught inside a glass box in the middle of a lake. She can see above the water, but it's frozen over the top, and even if she could get out of the box, she couldn't break surface.
And then she sees Darcy, lying at the bottom of the lake, white porcelain and un-moving, her eyes wide open and staring. She feels herself beating away at the glass, hoping to crack it. Her body isn't freezing like she would have expected it to when a gentle wave comes and tips the box over, and she spills out of the box, almost gracefully.
Very suddenly, she's swimming. She doesn't know why, but she has to reach the bottom to save Darcy before it's too late - not that she knows what late is. And then, just like that, it's Eli looking up at her, not her sister, and he's awake. He's panicking, screaming at her, cursing himself. He's blaming himself, and she can hear him, even through the water. Everything, he cried to himself, was his fault. Everything was his own fucking fault.
She scoops him up into her arms, light as a feather, and kicks to the surface as hard she could. But she's tired, and it's as if the closer she gets to the light, the heavier she and Eli become, until she can't kick anymore, and they start to sink.
"Just let me drown, Clare. Just let me be gone." Eli whispers to her, before he falls back to the bottom, closing his eyes for the last time.
24 hours apart
"You fell in love," Julia accuses him, and he forgets to breathe for a second before finding her small smile. "What is she like?"
They had spent hours talking on the bunk bed, the light getting darker and darker outside. The more he watched her, the more real Julia seemed to be. Like he could reach out and touch her. Inside of him, instead of the lightly fluffy feeling, was a quiet ache. He could barely feel it, in fact only when he moved around too much would he feel it shift with him, reminding him. He has a small fear it will get larger.
"She's…." He pauses, and he can feel himself smile. It feels unnatural.
"Nothing like me." Julia says, taking the words he didn't want to say right out of his head. She laughs, tucking her long braid behind her neck. Her eyes are playful and lighter brown then he remembers.
"I feel like she knows so many parts of me. It makes me nervous, but at the same time, I want her to know more. And when she's excited, or hopeful about something, she walks on her tiptoes. She gets heated about English, debating. Very self-dignified, very stubborn. Her hair is curly, and she has these eyes…they're bright blue, and I swear, Jul, she can see right through me with them."
"You love her." Julia states, matter of fact. He nods, and her skin seems to glow, though there is no light sitting in the window above. She has her pretty face propped up on her elbow, looking contemplative. "She loves you," Julia concludes, then, "Why aren't you with her, then, Eli?"
"I told you," He swallowed thickly. "Something happened. But everything's fine, I just needed to get away."
"Everything's not fine. What happened, Eli?" Julia asked, her eyes big, and wide, and filled to the brim with earnest.
"Did you tell her?" She presses on. He shakes his head.
"But you didn't tell her? If she loves you as much as you say she does, if she loves you as much as I do, then you'll have heal. You'll have to save yourself. What happened to you, Eli?"
The words are stuck in his throat. He might need to be found, now.
27 hours apart
She had woken up after her dream, covered in night sweats and unsure of what had happened. It's barely morning, she knows, by the way the gray light filtered in through her window. It was cold in her house, the air was cold, the floors were cold, and Eli still wasn't there. She noticed this the most.
She had wanted him to go to his parents right away. She had wanted to report it, as it was the right thing to do.
You don't get it, he had snapped at her. The right thing isn't always the easiest thing.
Eli had never snapped at her before, and she felt her body consciously recoil from his tone. When he noticed this, his eyes softened and went slack, his knees coming to curl up into his torso further. He had ran a hand through his hair, tucking the blankets further around him. My parents don't even realize I'm gone, Clare-Bear. They don't care.
But they are your parents, she had argued, though her tone was much softer. She lied down next to him, her inner righteousness quieted for the moment, her hand cupping his cheek. He had closed his eyes at her touch. You don't know what its like to have parents who forget about you, he has said.
But she did know. She knew exactly. For an instance, sitting along in her bed and thinking about Eli, she felt irrationally angry. Why should she try to help someone who didn't want to be helped? Who stubbornly refused? Why should she wait around for someone who didn't wait for her? Why should she love someone who didn't love themselves?
She had no answers to any of these.
30 hours apart
"You won't tell me what happened, but you have to tell her. Everything. She loves you," Julia said, taking another long sip out of a bottle of wine. Eli had almost drained his, sitting dazedly by the sofa. He nodded dumbly, looking at Julia with a sort of revered wanting.
"I love you." He mumbled earnestly.
She smiled sadly. "I know you do, honey. I know."
He could feel his throat start to close. "I am so sorry. I am so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
Julia looked at him, her eyes wide and brown and full of sorrow. "You can't run away from your problems, Eli. That's what I did."
He can feel himself crying, and he has no idea how to stop it. "I love you, Julia, I love you." he whispers, but the room is empty.
33 hours apart
When his phone buzzes for the third time that day, she can't help but look. It could have been his mother, he reasoned. It could have been his father. It could have been anyone.
The number is one not recognized in the phone, and she can't resist looking at the messages. A second later, she wishes that she hadn't.
[Tuesday 4:43 pm] u liked what I did to u
[Tuesday 4:48 pm] if I find u again on ur own…
[Tuesday 4:54 pm] I told u all along not to mess w/ me
And then, she knows exactly who it is. And her insides are ablaze with anger. She deletes the messages, blocks the number, and turns off the phone, keeping herself from hurling it across the room. She ran a hand through her short, straight hair, taking a second to breathe.
It all made so much more sense. The attack, the brutality, the refusal to admit who done it. But she had never in a million years though that Fitz would do something like this. Never in a million years thought their little feud would have resulted in something so violent, so horrific. She could feel the tears welling in her eyes, she could feel her fingers beginning to shake.
No one hears her crying.
36 hours apart
It's a little more difficult getting back seeing as he's drunk. His eyes falter and they skid all over of the road as he drives, but Morty gets him back safely. And even though everything is hazy through his eyes, he knows that this is the one place he needs to be. Where he's wanted, for a change, instead of tolerated.
He's ready to tell her everything. He hopes she listens.
1 hour together
Eli's on her front door step, again, and he's drunk. He's so drunk he falls down on his hands and knees, giggling to himself.
"Eli?" She calls over to him, crouching down and holding half of his body up in her arms. And like the last few days, she's never seen in him in a state like this. She's never seen him so beyond his own control, so stupid, so sad.
"Clare," He says, his voice thick with alcohol and moisture. She doesn't want to cry again, but she can feel it rise in her chest and swallow her heart. "Clare, I came back."
"I see that," She smiles. It looks like he hasn't bathed in two days and that he hasn't had much to eat, either. When she was six, she took a baby hummingbird inside because it had lost it's way, and it was too young to know how to fly, or know where to fly. She had nursed it, or she thought she did, until it was ready to be let go. Thinking back she realizes that all she did was trap it long enough to know it had to survive out in the real world, and when she had let it go, it was really flying away to safety.
3 hours together
He feels as if he hasn't slept at all, and it's still dark outside. He's lying down on Clare's bed again, the white blankets curled around him, up to his neck. He feels a rush of gratitude towards Clare, and then a swoon of guilt for his treatment of her.
But he has no idea what to do. Every second he spends farther away from the Cabin and Julia, the more it seems like a dream. The more unreal it is, and the more unsure he feels. Every time he tries to find an answer, a path on what do, his anger overtakes his brain, and his eyes feel heavy and his heart feels dead. How is any of this fair? What did he ever do to deserve this?
"Oh," came a voice from the hallway. Clare. "You're awake." She's standing there, little and lithe, with her pajama pants low on her bony hips and her tank top riding up on her stomach. The want he feels for her turns quickly into confusion.
"Where are your parents? Don't they wonder why I am here?" he asks, forcing himself to look at the ceiling. He can still feel her though, the heat and glow emasculating from her body. She's so bright, and pure, he can barely stand it.
"My parents got divorced two months ago. Dad is always gone. He's in Boston right now, and he will be for the next two weeks."
"They got divorced? Why?"
He watches Clare shake her head. "After Darcy was….Things fell apart. Things fall apart all the time."
"Why didn't I know about this?" He asks, and for some reason, he's livid. "Why don't you tell me anything? Why are you so focused on, on, on me, that you never give yourself anything. Why is that you're in love and all of a sudden your problems aren't important? Tell me Clare, let me know if there's something you're not telling me."
"What are you talking about - Eli - I….How could you say something so untrue? I tell you everything." She spits back, her shock apparent in her voice.
"Obviously not, seeing as your parents are divorced and I didn't even know it. What else? Have you been seeing someone else? Are you sick of me? Are you lying to me all the time now?"
"Stop it. Stop, you're not making any sense! I love you. I love you, Eli, and I would never lie to you. Whoever this is, whoever is yelling at me right now, that's the mystery. I would never see someone else behind your back. I know what you're trying to do."
"What am I trying to do, Clare?" He snarls, and his heart is beating harder, his nostrils flaring. He pushes the hair out of his face. "Tell, exactly what I trying to fucking do?"
"Don't push me out. Don't push me away from you." He can feel the weariness in her voice, the defeat in her soul. She shakes her head, sniffling. "We need each other right now."
6 hours together
She wasn't sure whether to approach him again. She wasn't sure of anything, and the insecurity of it put her insides on edge. She looks over the conversation in her head, and what she said was right - no, he was in the wrong. She was in the clear.
So why did she feel so guilty?
Because the unimaginable had happened, and she hadn't been ready for it. Hadn't even seen it coming. The thought of Eli being damaged, being hurt, was absurd. She knew he and Fitz had gotten into fights before - but those, those were fights, initiated by both parties. It wasn't like this. It wasn't an attack.
And she had done the unthinkable - she had washed his clothes. For a smart girl, even if he didn't want to admit what had actually happened, or accuse the person who did, there wouldn't be anyway to prove it. She was trying to help so badly, and in the end, she helped deny the problem all together.
Eli was in need of her aid, and she had no idea how to help him. It broke her heart.
So she put the tea on boil and watched the steam rise. Eli rarely drank tea, and when he did, it was well caffeinated and full of sugar. She remembers things like this. She's scared she'll forget them, and furthermore, him, if she doesn't. It's a stupid thing to be scared of, but she has no idea what else to do.
She has no idea what else to do. She has no idea what else to do. She has no fucking idea what else to do.
So she brings him the tea and he's sitting on her bed, his hair wild and his eyes lidded. The bruise on his cheek is healing, slowly, taking it's time. Eli takes the cup silently and smells it. She thinks she sees a smile, but she could of imagined it.
"I need to tell you what happened." He says. Daylight is showing through the blinds, and for a second she looks at how positively beautiful he is.
"I'm listening," She says, and she is.
Well you're my favourite bird and when you sing
I really do wish you'd wear my ring
No matter what they say, I am still the king
And now the storm is coming, the storm is coming in