I don't own Degrassi. I am pretty pumped for February, though. =)

You guys should know that I am writing you the last part of Better off Alone- part 2 before starting in on my homework. I'm a terrible, dedicated person. Hah. Enjoy the last part! :

Clare wouldn't speak to me at lunch; she was still pretty upset about me nominating her for the student showcase. Which was fine with me- it was for her own good, and she would thank me after her mother heard the letter.

I looked across the lunchroom to see Clare sitting with her friend, Ali, shooting me daggers with her eyes. So, maybe she wouldn't thank me later, but it would still do her some good.

After lunch I found Clare by our lockers. "I'm mad at you," she said to me before I had the chance to open my mouth and explain myself.

"Gee, I really hadn't noticed," I let sarcasm drip heavily from my words, "You're doing such a good job of hiding it." Clare rolled her eyes, and started to walk away. I easily caught up with her. "I wouldn't have made the suggestion to Dawes if I didn't think this is what you needed."

"You don't know me!" Clare turned abruptly to face me. "So how could you possibly know what I need?" She sounded more frustrated than angry at this point.

"Because I do know you, Clare," I pointed out, narrowing my eyes at her. "Maybe not well, but I know you enough to see that this thing with your parents is eating you alive. It's what's making you so stressed, and you're not going to be able to relax until they tell you what's really going on. I know that your family is the most important thing in the world to you. Do you know how I know this, Clare? Because I've been listening to you. And, furthermore, you have been talking to me; letting me in."

She stood there, speechless. I took her surprised silence as an affirmation of everything I just said. After Clare didn't say anything for a minute, just stood there staring at me, I shook my head at her and walked away from her to go to my next class. I was kind of hurt that Clare thought we didn't know each other. I had thought she was thinking the same things about me as I was her; that this was possibly headed in a direction stronger than friendship. At least it had seemed that way whenever we were together. It was a crushing feeling to find that wasn't true.

The rest of the day I argued with myself on whether or not I should even show up at the student showcase the next morning, but eventually decided that I was the one who had gotten Clare into it, so I should at least be there. It wasn't like just because our relationship wasn't headed in the direction I thought it was that I didn't want to be her friend. That was just silly.

So, I woke up early Saturday morning, and pulled into Degrassi's parking lot around nine, parking Morty. I walked to the front steps and waited outside for Clare to arrive. A few minutes later, her mother and she walked up to the building. Clare saw me, and stopped in her tracks, surprised to find me there. I heard her whisper to her mom to go in without her, and then she turned to me. "What are you doing here?" She asked- the surprise in her voice evident.

"I got you into this mess, did I not?" I pointed out. "Did you really think I would let you go through it without me by your side?"

After a moment, a wide smile spread across Clare's face, lighting it up. "I'm sorry about yesterday," she said, ashamed. "Everything you said was true, and I think I was taking the stress of my situation out on you. I do realize that all you wanted to do was help, though. I guess I was just surprised that you were listening as well as you were." She passed for a moment, blushing. "Thank you…for showing up, I mean. It means a lot to me."

I smiled down at her, happy that she wasn't upset with me after all. "I wouldn't miss it for the world," I told her, blushing a tad myself.

We walked in together, and took our place 'backstage', which was really just outside the gym. I saw Clare's mom wave at her, and Clare turned away nervously. Obviously, she needed a pep talk, and I was prepared to give it to her. "Okay," I started trying to calm her down, "you've wanted to talk to your mom, and this is your chance." Clearly she had to realize this was a good thing.

But she walked away from the gym door, having second thoughts. "Maybe I am a worry wart. Maybe there's nothing wrong at home." Was she seriously trying to tell herself there was nothing wrong? She had apparently reached a state of delusion.

"Or," I suggested delicately, "maybe you're scared."

"Of what?" She shot back defensively.

"Of finding out what's really going on with your parents." I could see it in her eyes that I had hit a nerve- she was terrified, but she seemed insistent upon denying it.

"That's not true," she said quietly, but evasively.

"Then prove it," I said, raising my eyebrows at her. Lately it seemed that the only way to get Clare to do something was to challenge her. "Dawes assigned us as English partners because she thought you needed to take risks," I reminded her.

"With my writing," Clare pointed out defensively, "not my life! This isn't me shouting in a park in front of a bunch of strangers. This is my family! It's personal." Clearly, Clare was winning this argument; she was talking herself out of reading very easily, and I was running out of things to say. As the student council president, Sav, announced that Clare was reading next, she started to back away down the hall. I turned to look at her, maybe make a last ditch attempt at getting her to go through with this, but before I could open my mouth she shook her head at me. I stood there, helpless, as she ran down the hall.

Sav covered Clare's absence well, announcing the next student, and then walking out to me. "Where did she go?" He asked me.

"Home, I'm assuming," I told him snottily. "Speaking of which, do you know her address?" I asked him. I wasn't going to wait till Monday to talk to Clare about this. In fact, the sooner the better, and Sav was Ali's older brother, so if there was anyone here that would know where she lived, it would be him.

Sav seemed caught off guard, but told me her would text Ali for the address. Nice guy. I would have to find a way to thank him later.

After Ali texted him back, and the showcase was all over, Sav wrote the address on a piece of paper, and handed it to me. "Here you go, man. Is she okay?"

"She will be…I hope," I told him. "Thanks for this. I owe you one."

Sav just shook his head, "Not really. It was no problem at all." I just smiled at him, and took off. I had noticed that Clare's mom left as soon as she realized Clare had disappeared as well. I hope they had a chance to talk as well.

I easily found the address Sav had given me. On the ride there I focused on what I wanted to say- I needed to apologize for interfering. Clearly I had pushed Clare too far, and she wasn't ready to talk about this thing with her parents.

I parked Morty, and was about to go know on the door when Clare came out. Her timing was impeccable. She quietly shut the door, and then turned; spotting me leaning casually against Morty- like this was not out of the ordinary for me to be there.

For the second time that day I had stunned her by showing up in unexpected places. "What are you doing here?" She asked, not even bothering to subdue the astonishment in her voice. Déjà vu washed over me.

"Hi Eli, how are you," I sarcastically pointed out her lack of greeting, "Fine Clare, thanks for asking."

She crossed her arms over her chest, but I could tell she wasn't upset anymore. She looked like a weight had been lifted right off her chest. "Hi," she shot back playfully.

I smiled, but narrowed my eyes at her. She was unwavering, so I decided I had better start things off. "Look, if you don't want to tell your mom how you're feeling, I respect that."

Clare walked down her front steps, and came closer to me. "Too late," she told me smugly.

I paused, confused. "You read her the letter?" I asked skeptically.

"And," Clare conceded, "she wants to know what's wrong as much as I do. She and my dad are talking right now."

No wonder Clare seemed so much more relaxed. A smug smile slipped onto my face when I realized that reading her mom the letter had been what Clare needed all along. "So, what you're saying," I pointed out, "is my plan worked." I placed my hand over my heart, feigning surprise.

Clare rolled her eyes, but smiled at me. "Could you be more smug?" she asked me.

"Absolutely!" I shot back playfully. Clare laughed lightly; I loved making her laugh. The sound was amazing. Clare had given me so much in the past few days, and she didn't even know it. I wanted to give her something in return…

I reached for the headphones I always wore around my neck, and handed them to her. "Here," I told her, "You may want to borrow these. They're noise cancellation, so they might come in handy if things get worse with your folks. Or…if you need to ignore an English partner," I added the last part jokingly. Clare chuckled, and looked away for a moment.

"Thanks," she said, meeting my eye again.

Now for the apology; I really did owe her one. "And," I started, "I'm sorry for interfering. I promise not to do it again."

I opened Morty's door, about to climb back in. Clare walked up to me, and placed her hand on top of mine. It was a small gesture, but a deliberate one. It made my heart beat out and irregular pattern. Maybe we were still thinking the same thing about the direction of our relationship.

"You can interfere every once in a while," she said, smiling at me, "but I'm still going to do whatever I want," she qualified.

I glanced down at her hand placed on top of mine. "I wouldn't expect anything less," I told her honestly, looking up to meet her gaze. She took her hand away, and I slipped into my car. Before I drove away, though, I looked up to see Clare smiling down at me. I smiled back, my heart soaring.

This was going to be a good year, I could feel it.

Thanks again for reading. That concluded Better off Alone- parts 1 and 2. Please review, and let me know what I can do to make these better. What do you like, and what do you wish I had done differently?

Also, do you guys want me to stick to the episodes that pertain specifically to EClare, or would you be interested in Eli's POV with the Fitz storyline as well?