DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.
I slammed my locker shut in frustration. We had been back at school for two weeks and I had barely gotten to talk to Eli. During the break, we didn't really talk at all, since I was at my grandmother's house and though I tried to talk to him through twitter I didn't get much of a response. By the time he reached out to me I was so annoyed that I didn't bother responding.
He called me the night I got home, and I thought he'd want to see me but he just wanted to tell me he was suspended for a week and that his parents had grounded him. When I got home from school the first day back, I got an email from him telling me that he'd give me my space. He'd been back at school for a full week, but we had only really spoken during English class when we had to edit each others' essays.
It felt much worse not being with him than I had expected. I knew that being with Eli wasn't the best idea for many reasons, but being without him was driving me crazy. I had been waiting at my locker for ten minutes after school, mindlessly rearranging my textbooks and notebooks in hopes that Eli would stop by.
"Clare," I heard behind me, but I sighed when I realized it wasn't the guy I wanted to talk to.
"What do you want, K.C.?"
"We need to work on the science lab. It's due on Monday."
This is the last thing I want to deal with. "Why don't you do the first half of the questions and send them to me? I'll do the rest and put it together."
K.C. looked uncomfortable. "The problem is my mom doesn't have internet at her apartment and the public library closes at 5 on Fridays." He lowered his voice. "My mom is making me go see my dad tomorrow. We're not getting back until late Sunday night."
I knew K.C.'s dad was still in jail and that they hadn't had the best relationship before he went in, and ordinarily I would have been really sympathetic, but my anger at him over Jenna combined with my general frustration level was too high to cope with this right now. "So I'll just do the whole thing and turn it in."
"Clare, come on, I don't want you to have to do the whole assignment. Let's go to the Dot and we can write up the answers together, then you'll just have to type them up later."
The only reason I agreed is because I didn't want to go back to my house and watch my mom stare at the clock wondering if my father was planning on coming home for dinner. Plus at least homework might help me take my mind off Eli for a little bit.
I could see Alli shooting daggers at me from across the hall and told K.C. I would meet him at the Dot in 20 minutes. He left and Alli came over.
"Clare, I know you're still mad at Eli, but seriously? K.C.? After everything?"
"We're just working together on a science lab." Alli raised her eyebrows. "The teacher assigned the partners; I had nothing to do with it." I could feel tears pricking my eyes. "You know I like Eli."
Alli squeezed my arm. "Then you need to talk to him. He said he was giving you space. That means you have to make the first move."
"I'd love to. If he'd stop avoiding me, I would."
We walked out to the parking lot, and I saw that Eli's hearse was still there. So he was avoiding me. His locker was right near mine; there's no way I wouldn't have seen him unless he was purposely trying to miss me.
"You know, I just realized I left my math book in my locker. I'll see you later," Alli said, running back into the school.
I trudged toward the Dot, not really making an effort to get there any time soon. I was dreading working with K.C. I didn't really care about what happened with us last year anymore, but now that I knew what had happened between him and Jenna, I really didn't want to be around him.
K.C. was already sitting at the table where we usually sat back when we were dating. He had his books out and was working on the lab. I noticed he had gotten two drinks, and when I sat down, saw that he had gotten me a peppermint tea which he knew was my favorite.
He looked up at me from under his Justin Bieber bangs and smiled, but I just scowled at him. "Let's get this over with."
"What is wrong with you?" When I didn't answer, he continued. "You can't still be mad about last year?"
"Yes K.C., I'm still heartbroken that you dumped me. I think about it every day and cry myself to sleep."
"Seriously? What did I do to you?"
"Nothing, thank goodness, considering how you knocked up Jenna and abandoned her."
K.C. looked down at his notebook and wouldn't meet my eyes. He picked up his pen as if he were going to just go back to the assignment. "I didn't know she was telling people."
"She's five months pregnant. She told me herself a few weeks ago, but our new school uniforms don't exactly hide it. The girls in the locker room were gossiping about it after gym and I'm sure even the moronic boys in our school will figure it out soon enough."
"I thought you hated Jenna."
I rolled my eyes. "Well considering she clearly did me favor by breaking us up, I thinks she can be forgiven."
"Clare…" he paused, his fist tightening around his pen. He finally met my gaze. "I know you think I'm a monster. But I just…I can't be a dad. I'm fifteen."
"Well, that's great K.C. But here's the problem. Jenna doesn't exactly have a choice. And she's fifteen too, and she can't pretend this isn't happening. And the two of you have been dating long enough that you can't pretend either. Everyone knows it's yours."
He didn't say anything. I could tell yelling at him wasn't going to change anything, so I thought I'd try another tactic. "She doesn't even know if she's going to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. But even if she decides that, she's going to need you to get through the pregnancy."
"But if she keeps it, it's better off without me."
"How can you say that?"
"You know my mom had me when she was 16. And she couldn't deal so she and my dad got really into drugs and spent the last 15 years of my life in and out of jail and rehab. Between the two of them and the string of horrible foster families, I have no idea what a good parent even is."
"But you're not a drug addict. And I think you've figured out that getting into that is a bad idea. So instead of learning from their mistakes and being there for your child, you're going to let her grow up without a father."
K.C. took in a deep breath and I could see some tears pooling in his eyes. "Her?"
Crap. I probably shouldn't have said that. But since that was the first thing that seemed to make him show any emotion about this, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. "She just found out."
K.C. didn't say anything. "You know, Jenna would understand if you were just shocked when you found out. If you wanted to be there for her, it would mean everything to her."
"I don't know. I've got so much going on right now." He looked up at me. "I don't want to hurt her or leave her alone. I just don't think I can do anything to help her."
"You can, K.C. I know we've lost touch a bit this year, but I know you. And I know you can do this."
He nodded. "I don't know if you're right. But clearly I should talk to her and see what she's thinking. I'll call her Monday after school and try to talk things out with her."
I squeezed his hand quickly and we went back to working on the lab. We worked in silence for a few minutes when K.C. leaned over toward me. "So now that you hate me a little less, can I ask you a question? What's up with you and that Eli kid?"
I sighed. I didn't really want to talk to him about this, but Alli had gotten tired of hearing me complain about the Eli situation and there wasn't really anyone else I could talk to. "We got together right before Vegas Night, but after the knife incident, I told him I wasn't sure I could be with him. He told me he'd give me space, but he's been avoiding me, and I don't know if we're ever going to work things out between us."
"I heard about that. Are you okay? That must have been really scary."
It was moments like this that made me remember what I liked about K.C. last year. He could be really sweet. "It was awful," I confessed. "I'm still having nightmares sometimes." Horrible nightmares where the knife goes into Eli's stomach and he bleeds to death in my arms.
"Maybe when you work things out with him they will go away."
I snorted. "At this rate? He's been avoiding me for the past week."
K.C. gestured behind me. "Well, he hasn't taken his eyes off you since he walked in twenty minutes ago."
I turned around and saw Eli sitting with Adam. I met his eyes and his expression didn't change. I couldn't tell what he was thinking.
"Want me to make him jealous?" K.C. smirked and reached for my hand, and I slapped it away.
"Are you kidding? He'll probably try to get you arrested."
K.C. laughed. "That's the last thing I need. I'm almost done with probation." He ripped his lab out of his notebook and handed it to me. "Thanks for putting this together. And thanks for believing I can do the right thing."
"Just make sure you work things out with her." I shook my finger at him. "Otherwise, this temporary truce is going away."
"I wouldn't want that to happen." He grabbed his backpack. He leaned closer and whispered in my ear. "Work things out with Eli. You always look happy when I see you with him."
I turned toward Eli. Adam was already walking toward the door and waved to me on his way out. Eli raised his eyebrows and I knew he was wondering what I was thinking.
I put my notebook into my backpack, swung it over my shoulder and walked towards him. I really wanted to talk to him but I didn't want to have the conversation in the crowded café – even though I didn't have a problem with yelling at K.C. about his pregnant girlfriend just twenty minutes before.
Without a word I reached my hand out to him. He took it and we walked toward the door.
He led me toward Morty and unlocked and opened the passenger door for me. I smiled as he walked around the car and reached over to unlock his side. He slid into the seat, and asked me, "Have you ever seen the movie A Bronx Tale?"
I smiled at him. "Yes."
That was all we needed to break the ice. He leaned over and captured my lips with his. He put his arms around my waist and pulled me as close as I could get without being in his lap. I ran my hands through his hair, while relishing the feeling of my tongue against his. His hand was resting on my hip and he was gripping it so hard that it was almost uncomfortable.
I broke the kiss. "Eli." It came out a little more like a moan than I had intended.
"Yes, Clare," he said, trailing his lips down my neck.
"We need to…talk."
"But this is so much more fun."
He kissed me again and it felt so amazing I didn't want to stop it so it went on for a few minutes, but after a while I felt uncomfortable doing this with him without knowing. I managed to pull myself back to my part of the seat. Eli was breathing heavily and he rested his head against the steering wheel.
"You okay?" I asked him, with laughter in my voice.
"I just need a minute." He met my eyes and we both cracked up.
"If you're this out of it from just kissing, imagine what it'll be like when we…"
"Don't finish that," Eli said. "You want to talk and I cannot be held responsible for what I do to you in this very public parking spot if you finish that sentence."
A rush of heat coursed through my body and part of me wanted to find out exactly what Eli would do to me, but my rational side knew that we should probably figure out where we stand with each other before we start ripping each others' clothes off. Which we shouldn't do. Anytime soon. At least not until I'm sure we're back together.
Before I did that, I needed to know. "Why have you been avoiding me?"
He hesitated. "I was afraid you were going to break up with me. I thought if I gave you more time, you would lose some of the anger over what happened with Fitz and then I'd be able to sweep you off your feet again."
I raised my eyebrows. "Like you just did?"
He laughed. "I wasn't exactly planning that. But I'm glad it happened. I've really missed you these past few weeks. Not just kissing you, but seeing you, talking to you. If you hadn't been away I would have does this sooner, but I thought with the distance and then the suspension and everything that it would all end badly."
"I don't want things to end. I want to be with you, Eli."
He laced his fingers in mine. "I want to be with you too, Clare." He smirked. "In more ways than one."
"Keep dreaming." I matched his facial expression and he laughed. He ran his hand gently against my jawline and gave me a quick kiss.
"But you know," I continued. "If this is going to work between us, things are going to have to change. You can't try to retaliate against every person you don't like and you can't avoid me when you don't want to have a hard conversation."
"I won't avoid you ever again."
He sighed. "I can't promise I'll never get into a fight again. But I promise I'll try to let things go. And I'll never let anyone get to me so much that I put you in danger. Clare…" He took a deep breath. "If anything had happened to you, I don't know what I would have done."
"Well, that's exactly how I felt. You can't just try to protect me. You need to keep yourself safe. Because you know what it's like to lose someone you care about, and I never want to feel that way about you."
Eli grimaced and I knew I had gone too far bringing up Julia, but I needed him to know how seriously I felt about him. "I get it, Clare."
I thought I'd lighten the mood a little bit. "So K.C. told me you were staring at me the whole time you were in the Dot. You weren't jealous, were you?"
"I was not jealous." I arched my eyebrows in disbelief. "I would have been jealous if I had seen you out with another guy, except that when I went to my locker after my detention, Alli accosted me and told me that I was an idiot and that I needed to go to the Dot and make up with you. Then she happened to mention you'd be there with your ex-boyfriend but that I shouldn't worry since you were just working on a science lab and he knocked up the girl he dumped you for, and that you were totally in love with me."
I could feel my cheeks flush hearing that last part. "Remind me to kill Alli when I see her next."
"She was only trying to help." He lifted our clasped hands. "It got us here, anyway."
"Why did you have detention?"
He sighed. "It's still part of my punishment from Vegas Night. A week's suspension and a month's detention."
"That's really harsh. They only gave me three days of detention for the stink bomb." Three days of detention that I spent imagining kissing Eli. Over and over again.
"Well, you're a first offender, Saint Clare." He ran his fingers through my curls and I shuddered when his finger slipped down my neck.
"So if you weren't jealous, why were you staring at me?"
"You're just so sexy in that uniform. I can't take my eyes off you." I was used to Eli teasing me but from the look on his face, it seemed like he really meant it. "And if it makes you feel any better, I wasn't exactly happy to see him whispering things in your ear or grabbing your hand."
I laughed. "He was telling me to get back together with you."
"Well I guess he's not as dumb as I thought he was." He shook his head. "Although the guy dumped you, and then got his girlfriend pregnant, so maybe he just got lucky on that one." He gave me a curious look. "How come you never told me you dated him?"
I shrugged. "It never came up."
"I can't believe you dated a football player."
"He didn't play football then. I mean, he joined the freshman basketball team, but he was in my gifted classes, and that's where I knew him from."
"What happened between you two?"
"I kind of had a crush on him, but I wasn't sure I wanted to date anyone. Then we had a big misunderstanding when I found out he had gotten into a lot of trouble at his old school. He got caught stealing cars with his friends and he was living in a group home for teens who had gotten into trouble, sort of a step before juvie. I managed to convince him that I wasn't afraid of him, and we kissed at this dance and then we dated for a while."
"Clare Edwards, girlfriend of juvenile delinquents." I poked him in his stomach and he smiled.
"Then Jenna came to town and she flirted with him every chance she got. And eventually he decided he'd rather be with a bubbly cheerleader who was willing to throw herself at him than a nerdy church girl with a purity ring."
"Well he clearly was delusional. I mean, you may be a nerd and you like church and yes, there's a purity ring on your finger. But just kissing you is among the sexiest things I've ever experienced, and if he couldn't see that, he's crazy."
I wanted to tell Eli that kissing him was in another world from kissing K.C. and that kissing him made want to do so many things to him, things I had sworn I would never do before I knew anything about sex and love. But my cheeks flushed and I was too embarrassed, so I decided to show him what I was thinking instead.
Our lips met again, but this time it was our hands that did the exploring. He didn't stop, running his hands up and down my sides, reaching underneath me and pulling me onto his lap. I slid my hands under his red uniform shirt, caressing him along his spine. He reached up and cupped my breast through my shirt. I moaned and arched into his hand, and he slipped his other hand under my shirt and unhooked my bra. I pulled back and arched my eyebrow at him, but he just smirked and kissed me again. He moved his hand around and slid under the cup. I couldn't believe how incredible it felt to have him touch me and I wanted to return the favor. I took my hand out from underneath his shirt and moved it deliberately into his lap.
I was expecting Eli to enjoy me touching him, but he pulled away. "God Clare, we need to stop."
"Because if we don't you're not going to be able to?"
"No, because we're in my car and I don't want to get arrested for public indecency."
"We could get in the back," I said, putting my hand on him again.
Eli gave me a dazed expression and I could he was surprised at how aggressive I was. "Clare, we've got plenty of time. I don't want to rush anything between us."
I gave him a kiss and moved off his lap, though I stayed close to him. He pulled me into a hug. "I'm glad we're back together," I whispered. He smiled and kissed my forehead.
I felt a little uncomfortable so I reached around to rehook my bra and Eli looked at me with an amused expression. "I can't believe you let me do that."
"It felt amazing." He closed his eyes at the husky tone to my voice.
He moved his mouth next to my ear. "I can't wait until I get you alone, outside of my car. You make me want to do the naughtiest things to you." He grinned. "But I should keep dreaming, right?"
"For now," I said, pulling his lips back to mine.