Author's Note: I owe the inspiration for this story to MusikSnob, one of my favorite authors in fanfiction and one of the best Eclare writers out there. This story is the sequel to and is based off of a oneshot she wrote titled, "Memorial", but it also borrows moments and ideas from other Eclare stories of hers such as "Don't Leave" & "A Sister's Return".
But don't just read those stories- please, read them all, because honestly, Eclare fics are a dime a dozen, but hers are really the cream of the crop. And I owe her a lot of credit for this story as well for being my editor and motivational beta-reader. Thanks again, Snob, for all your help. =)
I don't own Degrassi, or the circumstances behind this story. Those belong to Epitome and Musik Snob, respectively.
Clare could understand why Adam was so upset. After all, the whole thing had been his idea.
His original plan: a weekend sleepover at Clare's family's lake house 40 miles away from the city. No lights, no noise, no neighbors…no nothing. Just the lake, an empty house secluded deep in the Canadian woods, and plenty of free time to enjoy the summer weather, which had so recently taken a turn for the spectacular.
And most of all, they would enjoy one another- while they still could.
Clare knew how important that was for Adam. It was just as important to her to have this time with her boys. In just two short months, Eli would be heading off for Banting, and she and Adam would be left alone to finish their senior year at Degrassi without him. Sure, they would be able to visit him at school, and he would be back for the holidays, but it just wouldn't be the same without him, his arm around Clare's shoulders and holding a conversation with Adam as the three of them walked abreast down the school hallways.
Clare could hardly believe that he was leaving. It just didn't seem real to her. Even when she watched Eli receive his diploma two weeks ago at graduation and had taken pictures with him, Adam, and Drew, the whole thing just seemed too surreal to be believable.
Eli couldn't be leaving them. He just couldn't be.
He was too big a part of her life to just up and go like that. He had been for the past two years. He was the person she had turned to, when it seemed as if her entire life was falling apart. She had gone to him when she felt nothing could ever be right again. She was who she held on to, when she felt like she was all alone.
What would she do without him?
As much as she had always hated procrastination, she didn't want to think about that right now. She just couldn't bring herself to think about what it would be like for her and Adam, going through their last year at school without Eli with them. So for now, they agreed that they would just try to soak up as much time as they possibly could with one another, and let whatever happened, happen.
The summer would end soon enough. Before they knew it, Eli would be gone, and they'd be alone. Why dwell on that now. It would only ruin the rest of the time they had left- time they should cherish together to be carefree teenagers, while they still had the chance.
Which is where the whole idea for a little summer road trip had come in. Adam had wanted them to all be able to do something this summer, something big, as a way to celebrate Eli's graduation and at the same time mourn the fact that they were losing their best friend (and boyfriend).
They had gone through several ideas- spending a day at Wonderland (not special enough); going to the beach (Adam had looked intensely comfortable at the idea, and Eli didn't care much for the beach, anyway); driving to British Columbia to see the sights (Adam had thought it was "too boring", and Clare had looked at some of the hotel prices and had decided that it was way beyond what their modest budget could afford); and going to Niagara Falls (her parents vetoed that idea right away. As much as they had loosened up their hold on her in the years since the divorce, she was still underage, and they were no CeCe and Bullfrog Goldsworthy).
Finally, Clare had brought up the idea of a weekend at her family's lake house, and they had all agreed that it was the perfect way to spend a nice weekend alone.
Unfortunately, the only weekend that they could all get away at the same time just happened to fall on June 14, 2012.
The one-year anniversary of Sav's death.
It wasn't as if any of them had forgotten.
How could they?
Sav's death had been a terrible blow to all of them- especially because it had happened so soon after he had graduated. One moment, they were celebrating his transition into this whole new life, so filled with hope and promise and the future, and the next, they were saying goodbye to him at his memorial service.
The idea of going off for a weekend to party and celebrate on such an occasion seemed blasphemous. Like they were spitting on Sav's grave or something. How could they possibly enjoy themselves, knowing that a year ago that weekend, their friend had died so senselessly?
Clare knew that Adam was upset at having to cancel their lake weekend getaway, but they all knew it was for the best. They all agreed- albeit a little grudgingly on Adam's part- that it just wouldn't feel right.
Besides, Clare wanted to be there for Alli, in case her friend needed her. And if there was ever a time when a friend should be there, it was now. She didn't want to be far from her in case Alli was struggling to get through what would always be one of the toughest times in her life.
Then the idea sparked in Clare's head.
Why not bring Alli with them to the lake house?
It might be nice for her to get away, Clare reasoned. After all, if she was just planning on staying home on the one-year anniversary, she would be surrounded by reminders of Sav literally everywhere she went.
Maybe what Alli needed was to create some distance. Maybe she just needed to get away to some place where Sav had never been, and she had never created a single memory with her older brother. Maybe if she was in a place where she wouldn't be bowled over by memories of him and all of the things he had left behind after his death, it might be a little bit easier to move on.
Clare had run this idea by Eli very hesitantly. She figured that he, better than anyone, would know best on this subject, but she knew that even nearly three years after Julia's death, Eli wasn't exactly an open book on the topic.
Eli had paused for a very long moment.
"Clare," he told her quietly, "you know that nothing that any of us do is going to make this any easier."
"I know that," she said.
"I know that you're trying to help," he continued as if she hadn't spoken, "but any way you slice and dice it, it's still going to be hell for Alli to get through that day." He cleared his throat and paused again. "And it always will be."
"I know, Eli," she insisted. "I just thought…"
She looked at Eli helplessly, and knew exactly what he was thinking. She remembered very clearly the conversation she had had with Eli, on the two year anniversary of Julia's death.
After a panic attack followed by hysterical sobbing and him hugging her belly, begging her not to leave him alone, she had laid beside Eli in his bed in pitch darkness, and he had whispered to her something she had never wanted to hear:
Exactly one year after Julia died, he tried to commit suicide.
If his mother hadn't come in to check on him at the exact moment she had, he would have died right in this very room, and she would have never known him. It would have been as if he had never existed at all.
In her heart of hearts, Clare didn't believe that Alli would try such a thing. But despite her misgivings, she didn't want to leave her best friend alone on this day for anything. She was absolutely, 100% positive that had it been Darcy who had died, Alli wouldn't leave her side.
No matter what, Alli was her best friend, and had been for years.
Eli looked at her. "You really think this is a good idea?' he asked her.
She shrugged. "I have no idea," she admitted. "But she's my best friend, and she needs me. And maybe it would be a lot easier for her to get through it if she wasn't sitting around her house, like she's waiting for him to walk through the door or something."
"Yeah," he said, after a moment. "I think so, too."
To put it mildly, Adam was less than thrilled at the change of events.
"I thought this was supposed to be about us," he said stubbornly.
Clare and Eli looked one another helplessly. They knew Adam didn't mean to sound so bitchy and cold- he was just angry at losing time with his friends- but there were things more important than just them, right now. And regardless of how Eli felt about Alli, he understood her situation better than anyone else at the moment.
"I know you and Alli aren't exactly BFFs, Adam," Clare said, "but she's MINE, and she needs me right now."
"So spend the weekend with her at her place," he argued. "Or pick another weekend when just you can go up there together. We planned this for us," he emphasized, gesturing at all three of them.
Clare sighed. She understood where Adam was coming from. This year hadn't exactly been easy on him. After Fiona had left for college, the two of them had broken up- she hadn't wanted to continue a long distance relationship with her being in another country and everything, and although they had parted ways amicably, it had just killed Adam to lose her. His grades had suffered mightily, not to mention his self-esteem. He had been moody and borderline intolerable for months, alternating between being miserably and mopey to surly and sullen, saying that he would never get that lucky with another girl ever again and had said goodbye to the only woman he would ever have a chance with in his whole life. On top of everything else, he and his mother had gotten into several fights about seemingly everything under the sun, which hadn't done much to improve his confidence that had been knocked down several notches by Fiona breaking up with him.
More than once, Eli and Clare had been genuinely fearful that Adam would start harming himself again. He just seemed so depressed and down all the time, and was even bailing on hanging out with his brother and Guy's Nights with Eli until Adam was alone nearly all the time. He stopped wanting to hang out with them after school, and more than once had gotten detention for falling asleep in class or skipping altogether.
Both of them voiced fears to Drew, who assured them both that he was being extra-vigilant with his brother, but it still didn't stop them from cornering Adam one day and forcing him to pull his sleeves up so they could check for any bright red criss-crosses forming latticework on his skin.
They hadn't found any, but that intervention alone had been enough to snap Adam out of the worst of it. After that, Adam's mood had improved immensely, albeit slowly. While junior year hadn't been a picnic, they had ended it on more or less a good note.
"Adam," Clare tried again, "I know this must suck to you, but Alli needs me right now. More than you do," she added, when he opened his mouth to protest.
"Look, dude," Eli stepped in suddenly. "I promise, we'll have tons of time to hang out this summer. All three of us. And even you and me, if that's what you want. Whatever you want, we'll try our best to do it. But…I'm with Clare on this one."
Adam looked at Eli, who looked back steadily. The two of them stared at one another for a long moment, and then Adam hung his head, looking defeated. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he knew where Eli was coming from, and knew he was right.
Sending another pout in Clare's direction, he turned back to Eli and sighed.
"Since you're bringing Alli," he told him, "I think we should invite a few other people, too. So nobody feels left out or anything."
Eli and Clare glanced at each other, shrugging.
"I guess," they both agreed.