DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.
This story is three chapters long, and it gets a lot more lighthearted in the last two chapters. The rating might be overly cautious, as it's a little more detailed than T, but probably not quite M.
"You know, you should be more specific when you say you're going to the library. I went through every stack in the branch library that's two blocks from your house before I thought to come look for you here," I said, taking the seat next to Clare.
"I wasn't really looking for company," Clare said, flipping to the next page in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. "And the main library has a much better teen section."
I smirked. "But you tweeted it, so clearly you wanted someone to know where you'd be."
"What do you want, Eli?"
"I just wanted to see you. I thought you'd be at your Grandmother's house by now. When I saw you were still in Toronto, I just had to find you."
Clare put the book down and looked at me. I hoped I didn't look horrible. I didn't really sleep last night. "Mr. Simpson called my parents this morning, which caused them to have a major meltdown. So we're going to leave tomorrow to give them a chance to cool down and put their happily married faces on for Grandma."
"My Dad was out this morning, so I deleted the answering machine message. I'm sure it'll catch up with me eventually though. How much did he tell them?"
Clare sighed. "Well, they know that a guy pulled a knife on me, but that no one was stabbed. And that I set off the stink bomb and have two weeks detention. They know you were there, but they don't know how much of it was…"
Clare didn't say anything and started to gather her stack of books. She tried to balance all the volumes in her arms but managed to drop a few due to their glossy covers.
"Clare, I'm so sorry." I reached down to pick up the books that she dropped.
"I can't," she paused as her voice caught in her throat, and scrunched her face to try to prevent tears from leaking out of her eyes. "I can't do this here." She grabbed the books that I had picked up and stalked over to the circulation desk to check out her books. As she turned to exit, she caught my eye and nodded toward the door.
She sat down on the bench outside the library and patted the seat next to her. "It's not your fault, Eli. It was Fitz who brought the knife."
"But he was just giving me what I deserve."
Clare burst into tears. "It kills me that I said that to you. If I had known…"
"Seriously, Clare. I was a jerk. I should have let it go with Fitz. I would have it was just about me, or even Adam. But what he said about you…I never could have lived with myself if he even touched you."
She grabbed my hand and I looked at her in surprise. "I would never let that happen."
"He's not the kind of guy who takes no for an answer." My biggest fear was that he'd be successful, using violence to get what he wanted when persuasion failed.
Clare was silent again but tears still tracked down her face. I pulled my hand from hers and pulled her closer with my arm around her back.
"It's okay, Clare, it's okay." I kissed her temple. "Fitz is going to jail. And I've learned my lesson. If anyone tries to start with me, I'm going to walk away. I'm going to walk right over to you and I'm going to look into your eyes and I'm going to not care about anything else but you."
She went rigid in my arms and I pulled back to look at her. "Clare, what's…?"
"I don't think I can do this."
I felt a pain in his heart that I wasn't sure would ever go away. "Clare, I need you."
"Well, I need you too. And yesterday I thought I was going to lose you. And now you're here but it still feels like you're gone. I don't know how to make things work between us. I feel like I barely know you. You're this guy who just came into my life, tore everything up and never even told me anything about yourself. And I don't know how I can feel so much for you if I don't even know who you are. Because right now, I don't trust you. And I can't be with you if I don't trust you."
I had managed to keep from crying in the face of Fitz's knife, but Clare's words cut so deep that I couldn't stop the tears. "Please, tell me what I can do. I can't lose you, Clare."
She reached up and wiped away my tears. "Tell me everything."
I sniffed. "I don't know where to start."
"We've got two weeks of break. Why don't you call me every night after nine? We can get to know each other better."
"Why after nine?"
"I don't have that many cell phone minutes but I get free nights."
"I'll call you every night Clare. Whatever it takes."
Clare stood up and grabbed her tote bag full of books. "I should go."
I jumped up. "Let me drive you. That's a lot of books to carry on the bus and it's freezing out."
The ride in Morty was silent aside from my depressing music mix. When we pulled up outside her house, Clare reached for the handle, and I grabbed her arm.
"Clare," I whispered. "I'm going to make this work. It's going to bad enough not seeing you for two weeks. I'm not going to lose this."
She looked into my eyes and I could tell she realized I was being sincere. She leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the lips. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, Eli."
I watched her walk up her front steps and smiled.