I'm In Love With You

Chikorita-Trainer1

T

Disclaimer: I dont own Degrassi.

Author's Note: This is something I've been mulling around my head for a few nights. I wasn't sure if I should actually try to write it, but now I'm glad I did. I would appreciate a review. I would also love it if all the other Flare writers out there would keep updating their stories and keep writing new ones. Because honestly, I can't get enough of this pairing!


"Fitz?"

I stood at her doorstep in the pouring rain, staring at her. Her face looked so scared and concerned. She was probably the only person on earth who could express sympathy for me.

"What happened to you?" she asked, ushering me into her house.

"I..." I began, not quite sure how to explain myself. "I just...didn't know where else to go."

"What happened to your eye?" she asked, her face still looking like she was about to cry.

"I got...hit," I said. I know that wasn't the most elaborate description, but it was all I could come up with at the moment.

"Sit down," said Clare, leading me over to the couch in her living room. "Wait here," she added. I assumed she was going to get me a blanket or a towel or something to dry off with. Good thing, too, because I was shivering really hard. My nose was running, too, but I had just been wiping it on my sleeve, since I knew that if I sniffed, it might sound like I was crying.

Though I was pretty close to doing that anyway.

She returned with a thick, flannel blanket, and wrapped it around my shoulders.

"Thanks," I shuddered.

"Fitz, what are you doing here?" she asked again. I took a deep breath, mostly to still myself because I was shaking so hard from the cold, but also to prepare myself for what I was about to tell her.

"My parents abandoned me," I said. Lightning flashed the moment she reacted, almost on cue. Her eyes went even wider with shock, and she put her hand over her mouth.

"What?"

"I got out of juvie," I explained. "And I was on my way home," I continued. I hoped she could just fill in the blanks by herself, rather than have to explain that it wasn't normal for your parents not to come pick you up the day you got released from juvenile hall. "And when I got there, I saw that..." I was still shivering, and I really hoped she didn't mistake my stuttering and pausing for the symptoms of crying. "...there was a 'for rent' sign on my folks' apartment door. And there was no note, or anything. I think they're just...so ashamed of me that..." I actually started to get emotional now. I looked down and pretended to wipe rain water out of my eyes, but it was really tears.

"How could they do something like that?" Clare asked.

"Come on, Clare," I muttered, still looking down. "You of all people should know I'm not worth the trouble."

"Fitz, you can't possibly believe that!" she cried. "No one should ever be abandoned by their family!"

"That's one of the reasons I came to your house," I said. "I could have gone to Owen's, or someone else's, but there's something that..." I shuddered again, still freezing my ass off. "...I've been meaning to say to you, Clare."

"What?"

"I'm sorry. For everything I did to you , and Eli, and Adam." I For a moment I couldn't believe that I'd actually said all that. I'm many things, but apologetic is not one of them.

"Fitz?" she asked.

"I was messed up. I am messed up," I admitted. "And I took my anger out on you and your friends. And normally I wouldn't feel bad about it, but seeing how much it hurt you..." I trailed off, hoping she wouldn't read too far into this, and start to suspect that I like, had feelings for her, or something lame like that.

"Fitz, it's OK," she said with a soft smile.

"You're a good person," I sigh, looking down again. "I know I don't deserve it, but, I need you to forgive me."

"Of course I forgive you, Fitz," she said gently. I looked up at her in shock.

"What do you mean 'of course?'" I said with a raised eyebrow.

"You apologized, you asked for forgiveness, so I forgive you," she said. Fortunately she didn't try to sound patronizing or like she was talking to someone who had never heard of the concepts of forgiveness, but she did sound somewhat like she wasn't surprised at my reaction.

"Thank you," I sighed.

"What happened to your eye?" she asked again. I had almost forgotten about it.

"Ah, it's nothing. I got into a few fights in juvie. Nothing serious."

"Well, either way, let me fix it for you," she said. She put her hands over mine, which were already balled up, clutching the blanket that was currently wrapped around me, and got up.

While she was gone, I allowed myself a few tears, knowing that should she come back sooner than expected, I could just say that my face was wet from the rain.

"OK, just hold still for a second," she said when she came back with a bottle of Bactine™ and a box of bandages. She carefully squirted some Bactine™ on my cheek right below my right eye, and blotted it with a tissue. I was so close to her face I couldn't believe it, as she put a small bandage over the scrape.

"Thanks, Clare," I whispered. She smiled meekly at me, and stood up.

"I'm going to ask my mom if you can stay the night," she said. "And longer, if you need it." I gave her a small smile, and hugged the blanket tighter around my freezing body. If Clare Edwards can forgive me for everything I've done, maybe there is hope for me after all.

Ms. Edwards was more than hospitable to me. I don't have any relatives in town, so there was no one else I could have been expected to stay with. Apparently, Clare's sister Darcy was out of the house, so her room was vacant. I was allowed to sleep in there until I could find a place of my own. Though Clare's house was only where I slept. All other times of the day I spent elsewhere. It was for the best, too, since Clare often had Emo-boy over and they'd study and make out on the couch. Not the kind of thing I want to be around for.

I like being outside, anyway. At least, when its not raining. Bianca and Owen and I would just go to the ravine, or various alleys and bad neighborhoods and hang out, but when it got dark, I would always return to Clare's house.

One night, unfortunately, I might have been better off on the street.

It was about nine o'clock, and it was getting cold, so I walked back to the Edwards' house in the dark. The shadows of the night were probably why I didn't see the infamous hearse parked right in front of the house.

I had known that Clare's parents weren't home that night, but for some reason it never occurred to me that she might have Emo-boy over in their absence. As soon as I opened the front door, the world seemed to end.

"Oh, hello!" Clare squeaked as she turned around from where she had been studying. Eli's eyes widened in horror when he saw me.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he challenged, standing up and walking over to me. "Get out!"

"Eli, it's OK! Please, calm down!" Clare said. Apparently she hadn't mentioned my staying at her house to her little boyfriend. I knew they were a happy little couple, but honestly, I can't look at Goldsworthy for long without wanting to knock his snotty little teeth in. I glared at him out of instinct, that's how much I hated him.

"I live here, in case you didn't know," I said with more attitude than I really meant to. I wanted to behave for Clare's sake, but Emo-boy just brings out the worst in me.

"Did I not get the memo, Clare?" Eli said sarcastically. "Um, you're quartering the spawn of Satan, and you didn't bother to tell me?"

"Eli, it's a long story," said Clare. "But he has nowhere else to go." As much as I wanted to engage Emo-boy in a battle of wits, I knew it didn't bode well for me, especially if Clare was present. So I tried to do what she had told him to do before, and ignored him. I quickly moved past him, and it took all my will-power not to bump him in the shoulder like I had after he'd gotten me arrested. But I couldn't afford to go back to my old ways.

"What do you mean he has nowhere else to go? Does he have like, no family?" Eli asked, trying not to lose his temper.

"That's...kind-of...exactly it," I heard Clare say. I didn't bother to go into Darcy's old room. Instead, I stood out of their sight at the top of the stairs, to listen to their conversation.

"His family kicked him out?" Eli asked.

"Not quite," said Clare. "They abandoned him." I was expecting a few moments of silence while Eli let that one sink in, but no such luck. Eli was apparently overjoyed to hear it.

"So what?" he asked. I couldn't see him, but I just knew he was smiling when he said that.

"'So what?'" Clare repeated. "He got out of juvie, went back to his apartment, only to find it empty with no word from his parents!"

"And you let him stay HERE?" shouted Eli.

"I couldn't just turn him away!" said Clare.

"Why the hell not?"

"Eli! He's a human being! I couldn't not let him stay." That struck a chord. I actually felt something weird happen in my chest when I heard that. I don't know what it's called, but it was like this tingly feeling of electricity surging through my heart. No one had ever used that logic regarding me before.

"OK, you know what? I..." Eli stammered. "I'm leaving before I say something I'll regret!" I was happy to hear that, that's for sure. The less I have to see of Emo-boy, the better. I still couldn't figure out what the hell that weird feeling in my chest was, though.

A few minutes passed and then I heard Clare coming up the stairs, so I quickly went back into Darcy's room and closed the door. I hoped she would think I had been in there the whole time, but I knew she probably saw me, or at least saw my shadow bouncing off the walls.

"Um, Fitz?" Clare asked, lightly knocking on the door.

"Come in," I said. I hadn't even bothered to like, open a book or arrange myself on the bed, to make it look like I had been in here minding my own business the whole time. Clare didn't seem to notice either way, though.

"Can you believe the nerve of that guy?" she asked, furrowing her brow. "I mean, he practically said you deserve to be out on the street." As nice as she was being to me, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to say something kind-of mean to her.

"You're honestly surprised by that, Clare?" I said.

"Fitz, you need a place to stay, what was I supposed to do?" she asked. We both knew that she wasn't expecting me to answer her, but she sounded genuinely appalled nonetheless.

"Clare, you can't really blame him for being pissed. I mean, even I can't," I said. She smiled and sat down on the bed.

"Fitz, when a person repents and asks for forgiveness, you're supposed to grant it. No questions asked. I would do the same for anyone else. Why should you be any different?"

There it was again. That weird tingly shock in my chest again. What the hell was that, anyway? And why did it send a little surge of energy throughout the rest of my body?

"Thank you. That's uh, that's probably the only time someone's acknowledged me of deserving compassion," I said.

"Fitz, I don't want you to think that you don't deserve a roof over your head, or people being kind to you. You may have done some bad things to Eli, but so did he. As far as I'm concerned, you guys are even," said Clare.

"You really are a saint," I said with a smile, looking away from her.

"No, I'm not," she laughed. "Thank you, but I am not a saint."

"An angel, then," I said. "I don't think you even know how good you are." Clare smiled at me warmly, and I started getting that tingly feeling again. It was making me really nervous, so I pretended I was tired and wanted to go to bed. She bid me goodnight, and left. I had an unusually good night's sleep that night, too.

The next day, I was walking to Owen's house, since I was only spending my nights at the Edwards', when I heard Emo-boy call my name.

"Fitz!"

I turned and saw his smug little face frowning at me.

"I'm not in the mood, Eli," I lied. I'm ALWAYS in the mood to smack him down, but I was trying to be on my best behavior for Clare. I don't know why, but I felt this strange need to please her and earn her approval.

"I'm not giving you a choice!" he bellowed. "You don't get to stay in my girlfriend's house without answering to me!"

"Answering to you? What are you, my teacher?" I scoffed. I turned around a little too late because if I had turned around sooner, I probably would have noticed his fist flying at my face. Little jerk's stronger than he looks, 'cause it hurt like hell.

"GAAAH!" I yelled in pain. "What the hell is wrong with you, Emo-boy?"

"What the hell is wrong with YOU?" he snarled, practically leaping a foot to cover the difference in our heights to knock me down.

"I'm not going to fight you, Eli. I'm over that," I said, dodging his punches as he straddled my chest, hitting me with his tiny little bitch-fists.

"You're not fooling anyone, Fitzy! I don't know who you think you're impressing, but no one trusts you. Clare only let you stay because she's a Good Samaritan. It's not like she actually thinks you've changed, you know!"

"Eli! Fitz! Stop it!" I heard Clare scream. I couldn't see her, but I knew she was nearby. Eli looked over his shoulder, and that gave me the opening I needed. I wasn't going to hurt him, but I at least had to get him off of me. So I bent my knee and flipped him off my chest, sending him flying over my head onto the concrete. I rolled over and picked myself up, only to see him scowl at me deeper than he ever had before. I looked down and rubbed my jaw, and believe me, that was a stupid move, because I should have been keeping my eyes on him. If I had, I might have noticed the half of a brick in his hand that he must have acquired from the front yard we were battling in front of. He held the half-brick in his hand, and pulled it back.

"Eli, no! STOP!" screamed Clare. Next thing I know, Clare was in front of me, and Eli had just socked her in the face with a brick. "AAAAAAHHHHH!"

"Oh my gosh, CLARE!" Eli cried in horror. He dropped the brick and rushed to her side, as she was now collapsed on the sidewalk, clutching her now-bleeding face.

"GET AWAY FROM HER!" I yelled. I knew it wasn't exactly my place to say that, since she was his girlfriend, but my voice reacted before my brain could. I gently lifted Clare to my chest, and she sobbed into my shirt. "Call a fucking ambulance. CALL IT!" I screamed at Emo-boy. For once he did what I said, though I knew it wasn't because I'd said it.

For a moment the three of us were all on the same wavelength. For once we were all feeling the same thing. For once Eli and I agreed on something; Clare needed help.

"So would you two like to explain to me how my daughter got hit in the face with a brick?" Ms. Edwards scolded us. We were both sitting in the cold, uncomfortable chairs in the hospital lobby, waiting for the doctor to come out and tell us if Clare was going to be OK.

"It was an accident, Ms. Edwards," Eli said through his tears. "I'm so, so sorry."

"What happened? How did Clare even get involved in this fight?" Ms. Edwards demanded.

"Eli and I were fighting, and Clare rushed in to stop us," I began to explain.

"I meant to hit him in the face, Ms. Edwards," said Eli. "You have to believe me. I love your daughter, I would never dream of assaulting her." I wanted to roll my eyes. Eli loves Clare? He sure has a funny way of showing it. Yelling at her, going against her wishes, hitting her in the FACE WITH A BRICK? OK, well, that last one wasn't on purpose. But still, something about hearing him say he loved her made me really uncomfortable.

"I know it wasn't intentional, Eli," said Ms. Edwards. "And I won't press charges. But why were you two fighting in the first place?"

"He started it," I snapped. I know that line sounds so childish, but it was totally true. Emo-boy jumped me. All I did was defend myself. I explained this to Clare's mom, and Eli didn't try to interrupt or tell his own version of the story. I guess he knew he was in enough trouble already.

"I am so very disappointed in you both," said Ms. Edwards. "My daughter is in there getting stitches, because you two can't settle your differences with words!" She put her hand over her mouth and scuttled away, probably going somewhere to cry.

As terrible a situation as this was, I actually felt kinda good. I guess because for once, I was in the right. Eli was the one at fault, not me. And who knows? Maybe Clare will dump his ass! That'd be pretty sweet!

Wait- why does that thought make me happy?

After about an hour, the doctor came out and asked for Ms. Edwards, who quickly came up to talk to him.

"Clare's going to be fine. She got ten stitches on her left cheek, and she'll need to have some follow-up exams in the future, but for now, she's stable and she'll be ready to go home tonight. We just have some paperwork to fill out."

"Thank you, doctor," sighed Ms. Edwards.

"Is her father coming?" I heard the doctor ask. It didn't even occur to me that Clare's parents were divorced. I mean, I knew, but I didn't really think about it.

"Can I see her?" Eli asked, wiping his tears.

"It's up to you," the doctor said to Clare's mom.

"Of course, Eli. I'm sure she has a plenty to say to you," said Ms. Edwards. I couldn't help but laugh to myself at that. Emo-boy didn't seem to notice.

I followed him towards Clare's room, just because I wanted to see her when he was done.

"Clare?" he said gently.

"Proud of yourself?" I heard her snappy remark from outside the door. I laughed silently to myself at that. I loved hearing her get mad at him.

"I am so, so sorry, Clare," said Eli. "I never meant to hurt you, you know that!"

"Yeah, but if it were Fitz lying here right now you'd be overjoyed, wouldn't you?" she said.

"Clare-"

"What is wrong with you, Eli? You tried to hurl a brick into Fitz's face! What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking..." he trailed off, his voice cracking with emotion. "I was thinking, I can't let this bastard anywhere near the girl I love." I listened for Clare's response, but there was none. I was unhappily imagining her smiling, falling in love with Eli all over again. But then

"Seeing him at your house, knowing that he has your trust, and worse, your forgiveness..."

"And what is wrong with forgiveness?" she snapped.

"Nothing! If the person deserves it! He doesn't," said Eli. I couldn't help but agree with him there. I am a bastard, quite literally. And I probably don't deserve her forgiveness.

"Why do you keep saying that? How can you believe that, Eli?" said Clare. I could hear her voice crack, and I knew she was about to cry.

"Clare," said Eli. "When somebody does something bad, they're supposed to be punished, not forgiven. Fitz has yet to be punished for everything he's done."

"Um, OK, his parents abandoned him, Eli. Don't you think that's punishment enough?" she cried.

"Clearly, I don't!" yelled Eli. "The guy is bad news, Clare! He lives for hurting people, destroying people's happiness! And if you can't see that, then that's just crazy!"

"Oh, so now I'm crazy?" said Clare.

"No, that's not what I said- that's not what I meant, Clare. I just can't stand to see you put yourself in this situation."

"What situation?"

"He's probably going to rape you! For the love of God, Clare! He's sleeping in your house!" Eli cried.

"Eli," Clare said quietly. "That's not what this is about and you know it. You just can't stand to see him happy. Or even, not miserable. You hate him and you want him to suffer."

"Yeah," said Eli, matter-of-factly. "Is that so wrong? Is it so wrong that I want to see the guy who made my life hell suffer?"

"Yes," said Clare. "It IS so wrong. He came to my house in the pouring rain, and apologized, Eli. He apologized and begged for forgiveness. He's not a monster, Eli. He's a human being, who deserves compassion, and mercy!"

"No, he doesn't!" said Eli. "Why does he deserve forgiveness?" An eerie moment of silence passed before Clare said anything.

"I think the bigger question is, why do you?"

"What?"

"Eli, if you can't forgive and forget, then I don't see how this is ever going to work out," said Clare.

"Y-you can't...you can't break up with me because we have some conflicting beliefs, Clare," said Eli.

"That's not why," said Clare. "Throughout our lives we're going to be presented with situations and people that will make us angry, and make us suffer. And how we deal with it affects our future," said Clare.

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that if you're not willing to let go of the past, then I don't see how we can have a future together." There was a long period of silence before Eli said anything in response to that.

"I guess we are too different," Eli said with a sigh.

"I can't be with someone who can't forgive," said Clare. What was really weird was that I couldn't sense a single tear in her voice. I think she had stopped crying.

"Fine," said Eli. And he walked out of the room.

I waited a few seconds before I went in to talk to Clare.

"Are you alright?" I asked. She nodded with a bored and pitiful look on her face.

"I can't believe him, she said softly. "It's frightening, what he believes, you know?"

"I can't really say I'm afraid of him Clare," I said. "But I can't tell you how happy I am that you're OK." She smiled at me. "What you did was really stupid, you know," I said. "You should have just let the brick clock me in the face. I could take it."

"What kind of a person would I be if I just stood by and let you get socked in the face with a brick?" Clare asked.

"Um...a smart one?" I laughed. She frowned at me, almost as if she had expected me to give her a correct answer.

"Fitz, are you serious?"

"Uh..." I shrugged.

"Fitz, when someone is in danger, and you have the ability to prevent them from getting hurt, you have the responsibility to prevent them from getting hurt. Otherwise, it's like you were the one hurting them in the first place."

"I, I'm sorry, I don't follow," I admitted.

"If I had just stood there and not protected you, it would have been like I was the one hitting you. If you don't step up and try to help people, then you're no better than the bad guys," she said.

"Uh, I...well, um..." I stammered. I finally sighed and said, "No one's ever thought of me as a person who needed to be protected."

"Well, I certainly don't see you as a helpless victim, but you would have been if I hadn't stepped in," said Clare. "It's part of being a good person. You help people who need it, and you don't just stand by and let other people get hurt, if you know you can do something about it."

That's when I got that surge of electricity in my heart again.

"So you really think of me as a person...not a villain?" I said, looking down.

"Of course, Fitz! You're a human being! No one deserves to suffer like that after repenting!"

"You've really, really got to stop being so nice to me, Edwards," I said with a smile.

"Why?"

"Because," I said. I couldn't believe I was saying this, but the moment just felt right. "The nicer you are to me...the harder I'm going to fall."

Silence. Clare didn't say a word and neither did I. I had said enough. I was so embarrassed I couldn't tear my gaze off the floor. For all I knew she was lying there with a raised eyebrow and a curled lip. She might be completely thrown for a loop upon hearing me say this. I had basically just told Clare Edwards that I was falling in love with her.

And I'm pretty sure I was.

"Do you really mean that?" she asked. Her innocence was so attractive, I couldn't stand it. Whenever she speaks to me like she truly doesn't have a clue, that's when I melt. No one I've ever known has had such a pure heart, and a kinder voice.

"Yeah," I said, stealing a glance at her face, which I was relieved to see was not a look of confusion or disgust.

"Fitz," she sighed. I leaned over, my face just inches above hers. I thought she and I were going to kiss, when she turned her head to the side, and laughed to herself.

"I'm going to have some pretty gnarly-looking scars when I get these bandages off, huh?" she asked.

"So what if you do?"

"I don't know. I know it's shallow and vain, but...I mean, it's going to suck, living with this on my face for the rest of my life," she leaned her head back to look at me.

"Clare, when I look at you, all I'm ever going to be able to see is the girl who selflessly threw herself in front of me, and took a brick to the face for no reason other than she's just a good person who can't let anyone else get hurt." Wow, that was gay. That was seriously the gayest thing I'd ever said. But I meant every word. I'm looking at her bruised and bandaged face right now, and all I see is her.

She's the most beautiful creature on the face of the earth.

"Clare, I love you,"

I whispered. I closed my eyes and leaned in. I knew I shouldn't initiate a kiss. She had JUST broken up with Emo-boy- er- Eli, and she probably didn't want to rush into a new relationship right away. So I waited to see what she would do. If she turned away, I'll take the hint and walk out. But if she leaned in, too-

yep. She did. Awesome. I'm kissing Clare Edwards. This rules.

Her mom took her home that night, and I had told Ms. Edwards that I wanted to walk back to their house that night. I had a lot to think about. Her mom didn't seem to mind, in fact, she was probably glad she wasn't going to gave to share her car with the guy who was partially responsible for her daughter getting sent to the hospital.

So I walked alone that night, heading towards Owen's house. I never bothered to call him to tell him why I hadn't shown up that day, so he was probably wondering where I'd gone.

I found him not at his house, actually, but on a basketball court in the park not too far from it. He was shooting hoops by himself, under the moon and the streetlights.

"Dude, where you been?" he asked when he saw me. "Thought we were going to hang out today."

"Yeah, I uh, I had something else to do," I said, grinning.

"What are you so happy about, man? You get laid?"

"No," I said with a laugh.

"You high? Bianca give you some? What?" he asked, spinning the basketball on his finger.

"Nah, forget it, you'd laugh if I told you," I said, rubbing the back of my neck.

"I'm laughing now," said Owen. "Seriously, out with it." I sighed, and looked up at him, still grinning from ear to ear.

"I'm in love."

"Are you kidding me? You?" he laughed.

"Yeah."

"With who?"

"Clare Edwards, if you can believe it."

"Saint Clare?" he said with a twinge of disgust in his voice. "No way."

"Yeah, um, she dumped Eli, and..."

"So does she like you, or what?"

"Long story short, Owen, we kissed."

"Aww, well that's sweet," Owen mocked.

"Shut up, man. I'm really happy right now," I said.

"Yeah, I can see that!" said Owen, shooting a basket. He missed, but caught the ball as soon as it bounced back from the rim. "You know she doesn't put out."

"Yeah, I know, dickface," I said angrily. Why would he assume all I'm after is sex? I DID use the word love, didn't I?

"Well, have fun NOT getting some," he said, shooting again.

"Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don't just want sex? That maybe I get something from her that you're incapable of comprehending?" I said. I don't know why the hell I was getting all defensive. It's not like he had insulted HER, he was just stating the truth.

"Yeah, I get it, man. You're in love," he said, getting this fake sparkly-eyed look in his face. "Pansy-ass..." he muttered.

"You know, I didn't think you'd understand. I was just coming to tell you why I didn't show this afternoon," I said.

"Look, Fitz," he said. "I wasn't implying that you're... I mean..." he stuttered. "That's great, man. I'm happy for you." He swatted me on the shoulder supportively.

"Thanks," I said. "I've got to go."

"OK. Bye," and with that, I waved to Owen, and walked back to Clare's house.

It was midnight when I got there, and I quietly let myself in with the key Ms. Edwards had loaned me. But I didn't need to be quiet, because Clare was still up, and waiting for me on the couch.

"Hey," she said softly. My smile immediately got even wider as soon as I saw her, and I felt that same surge of electricity shooting through my veins again. But this time, I welcomed it. I finally understand what people mean when they say they're in love. Because for the first time in my life, I was. I hurried over to her side and took her in my arms.

"I'm in love with you, Clare."

"I'm in love with you, too, Fitz."

I kissed her again. She hugged me close, and kissed me back.

I'm in love with Clare Edwards.


THE END