Author's Note: This is a fairly short beginning, but I do plan to develop this into a full story. I haven't published any writing for quite a while, so please do be patient with me (and with my writer's block).

I do not own Degrassi or any of its characters (unfortunately!).

To Fitz, the worst part about fighting was always the smell. Sweat like salty sea-sickness. Blood like corroding metal. Dirt. Hot, sticky breath.

The best part was the therapy. It felt good to split a lip or bruise an eye, just to know that he could. The feel of vulnerable flesh giving way under his driving knuckles gave him a twisted high. It was a sort of sick relief. He didn't have to answer to anyone in a fight. He fought smaller kids and he won. Winning was the cherry on top of it all. Winning meant that he was superior.

Eli Goldsworthy disrupted this pattern. He was shorter than Fitz – paler, weirder. His punk-ass mouth begged to be smashed in with every passing remark. But he matched Fitz. Eli could hold his own in a fight, and he fought dirty. He played mind games, laid traps, flirted with authority in a way that drove Fitz to the teetering edge of his sanity. The boy was so absolutely intolerable, but Fitz could not stay away.

Everywhere he went, there was Eli. Every move he made, Eli. Every word, every thought, every blink, every nightmare – Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli. He was in Fitz's head. The Dot for lunch? What if Eli's there? He could do something to the food. He could frame Fitz for something somehow. Eli always had a way. It all came down to waiting for the next strike. Fitz was nervous about what could come, but a part of him was oddly excited. Eli unnerved him as no one else ever had. Any physical altercation left the bully feeling giddy and flushed, though not from the exercise. The day at the convenience store when – for a brief moment – Eli had Fitz pinned beneath him, Fitz had been deliriously distracted by Eli's bloodied and full bottom lip, and the way his dark hair curtained one flashing emerald eye. These fleeting thoughts only made Fitz struggle harder, desperate to pound away any further observations.


"Maybe Clare's right. About Fitz."

Eli spared a rare glance away from The Goon to raise an eyebrow at Adam.

"Go on."

Adam shifted uncomfortably before speaking again. "Would it be so bad if you just left it alone? You got the guy arrested. Isn't that enough?"

"He's a jerk. He needs to be shown that there are some people that he can't just push around." Eli put up a hand to stop Adam's retort. "Must we waste our spare discussing that neanderthal again?"

"Fine," Adam conceded. "How are things with Clare?"

With a sigh, Eli shot Adam a look. The younger boy through his hands up in frustration.

"When you're not talking about destroying Fitz, you're blabbering on about Clare. If you don't want to talk about either one, I guess we can just sit here in silence."

"Thank you." Eli returned to his comic, not wanting to think about Clare Edwards just then. Not wanting to bring up the color of her eyes and the way they sparkled in the sun. Avoiding the subject of her cinnamon locks cropped to perfection. He did not want to tell Adam that Clare's voice reminded him of the heart-warming hum of Morty's engine, or that watching her move was like living poetry. Sometimes he wished that these feelings would melt away, but he knew better than that. Clare moved the earth he stood on the day they met, causing him to stumble and fall at her feet. She astounded him.

However, they had agreed to "take time." Time for Eli to accept that it was okay to continue on after Julia. Time for his heart to mend. The trouble was that he was fairly certain his heart would never fully mend, and even if it could, he did not care. The wild thumping in his chest at the mere sound of Clare's name made it all too clear that his feelings for her could not be ignored any longer.

"I like her," Eli muttered half to himself.

"Really? Hadn't noticed," Adam sneered, not even looking up. "What are you going to do about it, man?"

Much to his own dismay, Eli did not have any sort of brilliant plan up his sleeve. He thought of Clare and all he could see was kissing her. All he could feel were her fingers in his hair. All he could taste were her trembling lips, and Eli's mind broiled to the point of combustion.

Please review! Thank you for reading. Much love. :]