I'll Cover You
Author's Note: I don't own Degrassi nor any other literary or pop culture references. Just an aside, in my high school, only juniors and seniors could go to prom, unless they were asked by an upperclassman… so yeah, just keep that in mind.
One last thanks to all my reviewers, especially those of you who I keep up with on twitter. I love reading your stories and I love that you take the time to give me feedback!
Also, there will be a link on my profile for the dress I'm putting Clare in later on in this chapter, so feel free to check it out.
I wasn't sure initially if this would be the last chapter or not… until I finished, which I have, so yes, this is the end. I hope you enjoy it.
Eli could see Clare's eyes filled with curiosity as they arrived at his house.
"Are your parents not home?" Clare turned to ask as they entered the front door into the living room.
"Nah, they were going out to a movie or something," Eli explained, closing the door behind them.
"So what did you want to show me?"
"Right this way," Eli led, crossing the room and ascending the stairs.
Once they approached Eli's door, he turned to face her before slowly opening the door, allowing her inside.
She stepped in, but darkness filled the room, so Eli reached over to turn on the lights.
He chuckled as Clare let out a gasp.
"Eli! You… you… How? When?" Clare exclaimed, her eyeing darting from floor to ceiling, wall to wall.
Eli followed her inside the room, silently closing the door behind him. Clare spun to face him, a look a shock and awe on her face. Eli nervously raised his arm, his fingers reaching to ruffle the hair on the back of his neck.
"I finished it last weekend," he explained. "I had a lot of time on my hands."
Clare's face fell slightly before she turned and noticed the pictures sitting atop the chest of drawers. She walked over to the dark wooden piece, eyeing each photo in turn.
"My mom picked out the frames," he said nervously.
"Is this Julia?" Clare asked, pointing to a picture near the back. A raven haired young girl stared back through the glass.
Eli nodded, walking up to stand behind Clare as he peered over her shoulder.
"I took that picture of her a couple of months before she died. I tried to get her to smile, but she was pretty stubborn," he surmised.
Eli felt himself growing more nervous as she continued to stare at the frame.
"She seems more your type than I do," Clare said softly.
"What makes you think that?" Eli asked, abruptly confused.
"You probably were a lot alike," Clare explained. "She looks dark and mysterious, like you did when we met. You probably liked all the same things."
Eli frowned, wondering why Clare was speaking this way.
"That's not always a good thing, you know," he offered, moving to stand beside her. "We might've been alike, but we didn't complement each other."
"Do you think we complement each other?" she asked, turning to face him.
"Unequivocally. Do you know what Adam told me the other day?" he offered.
Clare raised brow curiously.
"He said we were like peanut butter and jelly," Eli laughed.
"And we kind've are. Both can stand alone and be just fine," he explained, holding out each of his hands.
"But put them together…"
He brought his hands together in a clasp.
Clare let out a small giggle, and Eli found himself growing less anxious.
"Any more surprises? You didn't get a tattoo or anything, did you?" she teased.
"Tattoo, no, but I do have one more thing," he replied, reaching in his back pocket and pulling out two silver lined tickets and offering them to Clare.
"The prom?" she asked, eyeing them.
"I know you can't go without an upperclassman, and I happen to know one who doesn't look like an idiot in a tux," he joked.
"Is this your idea of an invitation?" she asked coyly.
"Do you want it to be?" Eli smirked, remembering the last time this exchange had taken place.
"On one condition," she challenged.
"Anything," Eli fired back.
"I want us go together," she stated, looking him square in the eye.
"I thought that was implied… Thus, the two tickets?" Eli asked, confused.
Clare shook her head, letting out a frustrated sigh.
"You're going to make me say it, aren't you? Okay, I want us to go as boyfriend and girlfriend," she blushed furiously, "That sounds so cheesy."
Eli scooted closer to her on the bed, his arm wrapping around her lower back.
"I kinda like cheesy," he teased.
"I know, I kinda missed that," she admitted, placing her hand gently on his knee.
Eli reached up to cup the side of her face, his thumb brushing against her pale cheek. Ever so slowly, he leaned in, until his face was level with hers, their noses millimeters apart. Softly, he pressed his lips to hers, warmth spreading through him as if he hadn't known that up until this moment his entire body had been frozen, and she was the only person who could thaw him.
Tenderly, he kissed her, relief spreading through his limbs. It was as if they were a novel in volumes, incomplete in each other's absence. As his lips parted from hers, he tilted his head until their foreheads met, letting out a contented sigh.
"I love you," he whispered. "I missed you, so much. I can't believe I was so stupid."
"It's okay, Eli," she comforted. "I love you, too."
As the late morning sun shone through the window of Eli's room on the twenty-second of April, he found himself staring at the ceiling. School was out for Good Friday, and the prom was that evening. Slowly, he sat up, stretching his thin limbs as he let out a yawn.
Glancing over, Eli noted the time on the clock on his nightstand. It was almost noon, and he knew he would have to get out of bed and get his day started. After a quick shower, which he knew he would have to repeat later in the day, he bolted downstairs, stopping only to grab his car keys off the kitchen table. After one unsuccessful start, Morty fired up, and away he went.
Stop number one was to pick up his tux for the evening. As Eli stepped inside the small shop, a bell tinkled above his head.
"Can I help you?"
Eli turned to see an older woman with graying hair behind the counter waiting patiently.
"Yes ma'am, I'm picking a tux for tonight, Goldsworthy's the last name," he explained.
"Eli?" she confirmed.
"That's me," he said cheerfully.
"Rental fees are already taken care of, I see, so I'll be right back," she said, stepping through a door behind the counter.
Eli let his eyes wander as he waited. The seamstress appeared a few short minutes later, a garment bag in her arms.
"Alright Mr. Goldsworthy, black tuxedo, black shirt, silver tie, black shoes, sound right?" she confirmed once again.
"Yes ma'am, thank you," he replied, taking the bag from her thin arms and exiting the shop.
Eli placed the garment bag flat in the back of the hearse, and slid back into the driver's seat. A few blocks down, he pulled to a stop once more.
Another bell tinkled overhead as he entered the fragrant florist shop. Eli stepped up to the empty counter, hands in his pockets. Barely a minute passed before a woman who looked to be in her middle twenties emerged from a back room.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, here to pick up a prom corsage?" she asked brightly.
"What gave me away?" he joked.
"Not many teenage boys come in here unless it's prom season," she teased. "Name?"
"Eli?" she confirmed.
"One white orchid wristlet and a mixed rose bouquet?"
"Correct," he confirmed.
"You must be getting some parental approval tonight," she joked, walking over to a glass front cooler behind the counter.
"Something like that," he said vaguely, watching as she took a large bouquet of pink, red, and white roses from the cooler along with a small, clear container with a beautiful blooming white orchid resting inside.
After paying for his flowers, Eli laid them gently beside the garment bag in the back of Morty before heading back home.
Once inside, he placed the corsage inside the refrigerator before taking the stairs two at a time to lay his tux out on his bed. Pausing for a second to think, he dashed back downstairs to find his mother coming through the front door.
"What's the rush, baby boy?" she laughed.
"Places to go, people to see," he smirked.
"I just came from Nana's. Are you sure you wouldn't rather have Clare over for dinner here?" she asked.
"So you and Dad can tell embarrassing stories about me on prom night, no thanks," he laughed.
"Well, everything's set up there, and I just came from the store, so after I work my magic in this kitchen, your fancy shmancy dinner will be waiting on you promptly at 6:30 tonight. Don't be late. I don't want your girlfriend to think I can't cook because you let the food get cold," she joked, pulling her son into a light hug.
"I won't. Thanks, Mom," he hugged her back.
Once they broke apart, Eli grabbed his keys once more, taking off in the hearse. He nodded his head lightly to the music playing on the radio as he turned down a long gravel drive. A set of wrought iron gates stood open about a quarter of a mile down. Eli carefully navigated the twisting lane, before coming to a slow stop.
Eli stepped out, crossing to the back of the hearse and grabbing the bouquet of roses from inside. Closing the back door, he pocketed his keys before striding off between the lanes of marble markers. He came to a stop in front of a simple headstone, engraved with an intricate design of swirling lines along the border before it read:
Julia Marie Pierce
February 5, 1994
April 22, 2009
The Song Is Ended,
But The Melody Lingers On.
Eli gently placed the bouquet of roses in the stone vase in front of the headstone, sitting down softly on the lush grass.
"Hey Jules," he spoke, his voice stronger than he had expected it to be. "I know it's been a long time since I came to see you, but I had some things to take care of. I finally cleaned my room; you'd be proud. You always hated it when I made a mess. I picked out something nice to put your things in, and I think you'd like it. I did keep your picture out though."
Eli paused, looking up to the bright blue sky, the spring breeze ruffling his hair.
"I'm taking Clare to the prom tonight," he began. "We had a rough patch there for a bit, and I thought I had lost her, but it's better now. I think we understand each other better now, and I know I understand myself better."
Eli sighed, his eyes falling back down to the cold marble.
"It's been two years, Jules, and I used to say if felt like yesterday, but it doesn't anymore. It feels like a lifetime ago."
Silence fell as Eli watched a bird perched atop a headstone a few feet away. As it flew away, he turned back.
"I miss you," he stated plainly. "I don't know if I'll come back as often as I used to. I don't think I'm supposed to, and I don't think you would want me to."
Standing up, Eli brushed the grass from his jeans.
"Bye, Jules," he said softly, bringing his fingertips to his lips before placing them gently against the engraving of her name. Without another word, he got back in the hearse. Eli paused briefly, looking back at the cold marble before firing up the engine and letting the winding lane take him back to the highway.
Eli felt a tremor roll through his hand as he reached for the doorbell. Its loud tones echoed out past the front door. Eli swallowed hard as a set of footsteps approached the door.
"Hello, Eli," Mrs. Edwards greeted. "Come in."
She stepped aside, allowing him inside the small foyer of their house. He stood there nervously, unsure what to say to her, wondering what Clare had told her about their brief break.
"I'll just go tell Clare you're here," she offered.
Eli fiddled with the sleeve of his tuxedo jacket as she ascended the stairs, disappearing from sight.
The sound of the footsteps that came back down didn't match the ones he had just heard. The light click clack of dress shoes came down the stairs as Eli watched Clare make her way down.
As she came to the bottom of the steps, Eli couldn't help but stare at her in amazement.
The satiny fabric of her almost purple yet pink dress hung perfectly around her curvy figure before cascading elegantly to the floor. An intricate waist of beadwork adorned her just above her hips, while her simple silver cross fell above the sweetheart neckline.
"You look stunning," he said, still gazing at her in wonder.
"Oh, you know, I just had this laying around," she teased, swaying on the spot, watching her dress swirl around her.
After he presented her with her corsage, Eli managed to smile a few genuine grins for Clare's mother to take pictures before they politely made their exit. Eli offered Clare his arm as they descended the few steps from her front door to the sidewalk. After helping her in the passenger side of the hearse, he got into the driver's side, glancing at the clock.
"Are we on a schedule?" Clare teased.
"Not a strict one, I just have a vague itinerary," he smirked.
"I like you in a tux," she appraised.
"You trying to say I don't look good the rest of the time?"
"Oh hush," she spat. "So what's for dinner? My mom's had me in a hair and makeup chair all day. I'm starving!"
"Just a little place I think you're familiar with," he said vaguely.
Soon they turned down the familiar drive to his grandparents' house. Once parked, Eli opened Clare's door for her, ushering her around to the back patio where a small table was set up, adorned with long tapered candles and set for two, dinner already in place.
"You are so sneaky!" Clare exclaimed.
"Only when I wanna be," he smirked, pulling out her chair for her.
"This isn't champagne, is it?" she asked once she was seated, eyeing the flute in front of her.
"Sparkling grape juice, my dear," he laughed. "You didn't think I was gonna get you drunk before the prom, did you?"
"I wouldn't put it past you," she teased as Eli took his seat, shrugging out of his tuxedo jacket and hanging it over the back of his chair.
"Shall we toast?" he offered, raising his glass.
"We shall," she replied, raising hers as well.
Silence fell between them as Clare waited for Eli to speak.
"I can't think of anything that doesn't sound cheesy and overused," he laughed.
"Leave it to you to skimp on the details," Clare giggled.
"Okay, okay, here we go. Here's to my beautiful girlfriend who puts up with me, who laughs at my jokes, and who might let me see what's under that very sexy dress later tonight," he challenged, his lips falling into a lopsided smirk.
Clare blushed furiously.
"Here's to my handsome boyfriend, who has no idea what the word tact means," she countered.
Their glasses clinked together lightly before they each took a sip.
Eli placed his glass back on the table, before standing up and walking back around to Clare's side of the table. He leaned down, catching her lips with his. She kissed him back fiercely before he pulled away, another smirk adorning his face.
"Sometimes I wish I could wipe that lop-sided smug grin off your face. You know that, right?" she teased as he took his seat once more.
Eli looked back up at her, his green eyes blazing, smirk still in place. He laughed, placing his napkin in his lap before retorting.
"You know you love it."