ECLARE FAN FOREVER BABY!

Thank you everyone for your reviews. I'm glad you are all still enjoying this. It makes me smile to know that there are people still reading even though this fic has been up for over a year and a half and now that it's close to one hundred twenty chapters. Read, review, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Degrassi . . . I'm TurboWiz70 and I approve this message.


Chapter One Hundred Nineteen

Decode

Clare was expecting to be woken up by her alarm the following morning, but instead she opened her eyes subconsciously five minutes before it sounded. A smile was on her face as she sat up and stretched her arms, thanking God that Eli was back home and would be taking her to school that morning. She went through her usual routine of taking a shower and getting ready, but took time deciding on what she would wear and how she wanted her makeup to look. She knew that Eli would not be seeing her for most of the day and that she would have to change into her work uniform a couple of hours after school, so it maybe it was a bit ridiculous that she was making such an effort, but she really wanted to do this. Although Eli would see her as beautiful no matter what, she wanted to look really nice for him and she was not sure if she could do that unless she approved of herself first.

Once she was out of the shower and standing in her room with her robe around her, she hastily began searching for something alluring yet innocent so she would be comfortable and not seem like she was attempting to draw attention at school when all she wanted was make her boyfriend smile. She went through her closet, finding as many options as she could before trying decide how to fix her hair or how she should do her makeup.

After half an hour of making and unmaking many decisions, Clare had finally figured out what to do and got herself ready. Even though the students were allowed to make their own clothing decisions at Degrassi again, she hardly wore anything outside of her comfort zone; but today was going to be different. She was wearing a black skirt that went down to her knees in company with a white blouse tucked into it. She took a bolder move that day and decided not to wear tights to allow more leg exposure. She curled her hair to make it fuller, applied some purple eye shadow, a bit more eyeliner than she usually would have, and some light pink lip-gloss, and slid on her usual flats. Once she was satisfied with her overall appearance, she put on Eli's guitar pick necklace and slid a few bangles onto her wrists before gathering her belongings and leaving her room.

The next few moments of her eating breakfast, talking to Helen, brushing her teeth, and making last second cosmetic adjustments were never-ending. Every minute seemed to last twenty and she did not want anything more than to break the curse of waiting. When Eli actually lived here, time went by at a usual pace and it did not appear that she had to wait very long for him to get to her house. Today was completely different and she found herself unable to occupy her mind long enough for time to actually have a chance to pass.

Her mind was soon put to ease when she looked out the window and saw Morty pull up to the front of her house. Seconds later, she saw Eli climb out of it. Ecstatic to see him again, she said goodbye to Helen, grabbed her books and bag, and all but ran out the door. She smiled when she saw him coming her way and tried to slow her pace as she began to meet him halfway.

"Good morning," he greeted her.

"Good morning," she replied with a smile as she walked towards him.

The second they were close enough, Eli put an arm around her waist and planted a kiss on her lips while his free hand cupped her upper arm. Clare relished his kiss, thrilled that they were exchanging this embrace. Once they were both satisfied, Eli gently pulled away and they met eyes.

"You look beautiful."

Clare blushed, but she could not deny that she felt accomplished.

"Thanks," she said modestly.

"Ready to go?"

"Yeah," she answered. He then stood to her side while keeping his arm around her waist. She grinned at his hold, feeling secure and warm as they walked to his car.

"Allow me," he told her as he opened her door for her.

"Thank you," she said before sliding into the hearse.

Within seconds, Eli was climbing in the other side and they began driving down the road with the radio playing in the background.

"Just like old times, eh?" Eli mentioned. "I'm driving you to school and we'll be spending time together afterwards; it takes me back."

"Yeah," she agreed. "I miss those days."

"Me too," he acceded. Once they were on a consistently straight part of the road, he released one of his holds from the steering wheel and began holding Clare's hand.

Since they have not had the privilege of holding hands for some time, Clare kept smiling when their palms touched. It was such a sensation that she had taken for granted when he was here. She did not expect to miss holding his hand this much, but she knew it would definitely be one of the actions she would miss when he went back.

But she did not think of this right now; all she focused on was his rough yet soft hand. When he eventually had to take complete control of the wheel again, she was slightly crestfallen at the loss.

"Do you still want to hang out today before you have to go to work?" he asked her.

"If you want to," she said, praying that he had not changed his mind.

"You know I do," he told her with his classic smile. She grinned, wanting this day to go by in a flash. She was disheartened when they arrived at the school; she did not want to leave Eli's side and not spend all day with him, but she did not have a choice. Due to this, she was disappointed to see Degrassi through the windshield. Eli pulled Morty up to the front of the school and parked when they were at the front of the stairs.

"Here we are," he announced, stating the obvious before turning to Clare and seeing her slightly saddened face. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," she said, unbuckling her seatbelt. "I just . . . I'm going to miss you."

Eli could not help but let out a couple of chuckles before taking her hand again.

"After not seeing each other for six weeks, I think we might be able to survive a few more hours."

"Might being the operative word."

He grinned, giving her hand a gentle squeeze before stroking her skin with his thumb.

"I'll pick you up at three."

"Sounds good," she smiled. She leaned over until she was able put her hand on the nape of his neck; they met each other's lips and allowed them to mold together. Clare felt his hand meet her upper arm, his thumb gently caressing her shoulder. She kissed him sweetly and he reciprocated until he felt her release his lips. If was not for school, she would have kept kissing him; but she had to get in to the building to go by her locker and get some studying done in case she had a pop quiz today.

"I love you," she told him, meeting his eye.

"I love you too," he echoed before giving her a final peck on the lips. "I'll see you soon."

Making her greatest effort to not lose eye contact with him, Clare gathered her bag and books before getting out of the hearse. She closed the door behind her and Eli kept gazing at her as she walked farther and farther away from him. Once she was halfway up the stairs, she looked over her shoulder and gave him a wave and she saw him grinning at her before she disappeared into the Degrassi halls. As she moved, she could not resist and looked over her shoulder to see if his car was still there. She felt a bit more alone when she saw that Morty had left, but now she was hoping for the day to go by as fast as possible so she would spend time with Eli this afternoon.

After making the usual stop by her locker, Clare began journeying down the hall with an extra spring in her step. She saw Alli and K.C coming out the library a couple of yards away; she went to approach her friends, excited that she would be able to tell them the great news.

"Hi, Alli. Hi, K.C," she smiled. "Nice day, isn't it?"

"Yeah, I guess so," K.C shrugged. His tone was drained and his eyes were screaming in frustration; his usual grin was not on his face that morning, which was an instant cause of concern to anyone who was friends with him. Clare honestly wanted to feel concern for him but her mind was too absorbed with pleasant thoughts. Trying to keep her head out of the clouds long enough, she faced K.C and gave him the most comforting stare she could muster.

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah," he said. "I just got some stuff on my mind."

"Want to talk about it?" she offered in an attempt to show kindness.

"I'm fine," he disregarded as they all sat on one of the benches along the wall. Not wanting to bring anyone down with his glum mood, he put the best smile he could on his face. "And why are you so cheerful this morning?"

"Did you have a nice chat with Eli before school?" Alli speculated.

"Something like that," Clare smiled.

"Still excited about him coming home tomorrow?"

"Actually, I won't have to wait that long," Clare informed.

"What do you mean?"

"He came back yesterday!"

Alli's jaw dropped while she smiled, not being able to imagine how happy Clare was right now.

"Are you serious?"

"Yes! He surprised me when I got off work, he came over for dinner last night, he drove me to school this morning, and . . ." She trialed off, too many positive emotions going through her head to put them into words. "I'm just so happy."

"I can tell," Alli said, pleased that Clare was experiencing this kind of joy again. "You're going to be nothing but smiles all day now, aren't you?"

"Probably," Clare admitted, a smile and a blush coming to her face. She began to recall the time they spent together yesterday and that morning, and she had now began to daydream about the afternoon they would have later.

"Are you guys going to do anything special while he's here?"

"Just spend time together, go on a date or two, spend a couple of nights at his house, and all that good stuff. We're actually going to hang out after school today and go out for real tomorrow, and then maybe spend the weekend together."

"Wait," K.C interjected, becoming involved in the conversation for the first time since Clare mentioned her news. "You guys are hanging out after school?"

"Yeah," she nodded.

"I thought you were coming over to my place this afternoon."

"Huh?" she remarked, not expecting that response.

"Yesterday we made plans for you to come over so we could work on the essay."

Clare gaped, instantly feeling guilty for forgetting all about their assignment and the plans they made to start it. She believed that she had a valid reason for forgetting, but that did not ease her and she felt worse by knowing that she would have to cancel on one of the boys . . . and it certainly was not going to be her boyfriend.

"I'm so sorry, K.C," she said. "I completely forgot."

"Clearly," he muttered under his breath.

Feeling significantly guilty, Clare attempted to push Eli to the back of her brain until so she would be able to focus on the issue in front of her.

"Is there any chance of you postponing on him for a couple of hours?" he suggested.

Clare attempted to choose her words carefully so she would not hurt his feelings, but at the same time tell him how important her time with Eli was to her. Although he had agreed that he would stay at the Dot while she worked, it was not the same as spending quality time with him; and the idea of losing out on a fair amount of time with him because she had to do homework with K.C was uninviting.

"I'm sorry," she restated, truly feeling guilt-ridden.

Let down yet unsurprised, K.C turned away from Clare and let out a heavy exhale through his nose. Seeing his face made her feel a thousand times worse and she instantly wished there was a way for her to be in two places at once.

"K.C, I am really, really sorry. I promise that when I get home after work tonight, I'll start gathering research and I'll start writing the essay; and after this weekend, I'll come over every day until we finish it."

The emotions in K.C's eyes turned from disappointed to resentful in half a second. It startled Clare, for she had not seen his temper in some time and she did not have many ideas on what to expect. She tried to remain rational and hope that K.C would be alright with this arrangement. When he opened his mouth to speak, she was hopeful to hear words of comprehension; but the tone she was expecting did not match with his facial expressions and it was then when she knew that this conversation was about to take a wrong turn.

"Just forgot it," he snapped. "I'll handle it by myself."

"I'll help you with it after Eli goes back to Ottawa, okay? I promise."

K.C snorted and shook his head, dissatisfied and aggravated by this turn of events.

"Will it kill you if you just don't hang out with him today?"

"I can't cancel on him last minute."

"You're cancelling on me!"

"I'm sorry, but he's only in town for three more days after today; I'm going to take advantage of every chance I get to spend time with him."

"It's one day," he reminded her. "You're going to have the whole weekend with him after today. I just need your help for a short period of time and then you can go do whatever you want with him."

"It's no big deal if I don't show up for one day."

"You're bailing on your friends because of him!"

"That's not his fault!"

"Did I say that?" he sneered, only blaming Eli's inconvenient timing for a second before pointing the finger at Clare's decisions.

Alli awkwardly sat there between the two of them, not knowing whether or not she should excuse herself or remain there to be the mediator in case this got out of hand. Clare looked at K.C, disbelieved at how unreasonable and harsh he was being. She attempted to keep herself calm, but it was becoming exceedingly difficult.

"I won't bail on you next week. We can finish the essay then."

"This is not about the stupid essay!"

"Then what is this about?" she demanded.

"You're ditching me and you don't care!"

"Oh, come on," she complained, not expecting this kind of reaction from him. She sat in her seat, baffled that K.C was getting so worked up over this situation. "You know how long I've been looking forward to him coming home and how much I've missed him."

"But we made plans."

"It's not like it was a date or anything. Stop overreacting about this."

"Whatever, Clare. Just go be with your boyfriend and I'll figure this whole mess out myself," he said, not wanting to breathe another word on the subject.

Rolling her eyes and fuming, Clare stood up and walked down the hall. Any guilt she had about this scenario had been overridden by her animosity. In her mind, K.C was making something out of nothing and she thought he was being inconsiderate since he knew how much Eli's visit meant to her. In company with her enmity, she felt letdown; for a while she genuinely thought that she and K.C were capable of having a long-lasting friendship without conflict, but she felt that she was about to be proven wrong.

()()

Clare and K.C avoided each other for the rest of the day; they did not make eye contact, speak, or acknowledge each other's presence. It suited Clare perfectly, for she was finally able to get back to the thoughts she had at the beginning of the day. They had been slightly downplayed due to her argument with K.C that morning, but the idea of being with Eli for the remainder of the day kept her annoyance at bay.

Once it was time for school to be dismissed, Clare said goodbye to Alli and hurried to her locker. Knowing that Eli was waiting outside at that very moment, she hastily opened the storage compartment and began exchanging the books she did not need for the ones she did need. As the burdens of the unnecessary textbooks were lifted, she closed the metal door and was about to make a beeline for the exit.

"Clare."

She bit her lips in frustration as she heard that familiar voice. Not wanting to see K.C, she began heading towards the doors in hope that he would not make any efforts to catch up with her. To her dismay, he sprinted after her and stepped in front of her seconds later.

"What do you want?" she asked, annoyed that he was blocking her path.

"I need to speak to you," he said hurriedly after she had stopped in her tracks. "I'm sorry I kind of went off on you. I was just hoping that you would help me with something and . . . when you said that you can't, I freaked out."

Clare was desperate to get to Eli, so she was not planning on spending much of her time talking to K.C. He apologized and it was sincere enough for her in this moment, and so she decided it would be better if she accepted it now and then put their small feud from that morning behind her.

"Thank you," she said, preparing to step around him. Before she could move her foot, however . . .

"Can we talk for two seconds?"

Clare took a deep breath, not wanting to stay in the hall longer than she had to; at the same time, she wanted to extinguish any issues that had been created between her and K.C and she was certain he would not let her leave until he had his say. Seeing that it would be easier to get this over with, she did not argue.

"What's going on?"

"I was hoping that we would have chance to talk," he started, not wanting to waste his or her time.

"We talk all the time."

"But what I want to talk to you about is a bit . . . personal. If we talk about it at school, Alli or someone might interrupt us and I don't want that to happen. I wanted to talk to you about this today at my place so that way you wouldn't have to worry about it when Eli was here; but then you told me that you were hanging out with him today, so I thought I lost my chance to talk to you."

Clare was taken aback at how earnest he was about speaking to her. He rarely had anything serious to talk about with her, but he was so driven in this case that she realized she probably should not have ignored him all day so he would have had a chance to speak to her.

"So you don't have to talk to me about the essay?"

"This has nothing to do with that whatsoever," he answered.

Clare took a breath and hoped that Eli would not grow impatient if she remained in the school a little while longer to help her friend.

"I don't want to keep my ride waiting; you have five minutes."

For a second, K.C looked grateful. The next, he looked petrified and hesitant. He was quiet as he scanned his brain to find the way to approach the subject he had in his mind. His speech only included the words "well", "uh", and "you see" for fifteen seconds with multiple pauses in between. Clare resisted temptation to roll her eyes and stood there and nodded, urging him to say what he had to say. He inhaled and continued, hoping that his nerve would not fail him.

"I need you to talk to Jenna for me."

"What?" she bellowed, her blood boiling at the words that just escaped his lips.

"I know it's not a great thing to ask, but –."

"You think?" she snapped. She may have mended any burnt bridges she had with K.C, but Jenna was a completely different story. The last time the two of them had a conversation was when Clare had a really horrible stomach virus and Jenna had accused her of being pregnant; needless to say, she was not planning on talking to Jenna any time soon.

"Listen," he pressed on. "If I was not completely desperate I would not be asking you. I heard that she's going on a date tomorrow and I want her to give us one last chance before she moves on completely."

"Then why don't you tell her that instead of dragging me into this?"

"I've tried. She won't return my calls, text messages, anything."

"Stop using technology and talk to her face-to-face," she advised, prepared to give every bit of guidance she could just so he would leave her out of his dilemma.

"I did that too. She can't stand the sight of me and gives me the cold shoulder every time I try to talk to her."

"And you really think me talking to her is going to make that any better?"

"She's probably more willing to listen to you at this point than me."

"Why don't you just ask Alli to help you?" she recommended, seeing her as the better candidate for his plan since she did not have anything against Jenna.

"She and Jenna are really close and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize their friendship."

Clare opened her mouth, closed it, and reopened it. To say that she was flabbergasted would not have even scratched the surface of her mind's emotions.

"You want me – your ex-girlfriend – to ask your other ex-girlfriend and the mother of your child if she will give you another chance?" Clare asked, stunned that her life sounded like a soap opera.

"I know that I shouldn't be doing this now that Eli's here, but –."

"You shouldn't be doing this period!"

"Look, I've been trying to find a way to talk to her ever since I found this out days ago, but –."

"Wait," she interrupted. "You found out she was going out on a date a few days ago?"

"Yeah," he said, having an unsettling feeling that she was catching on to something he did not want her to discover.

Clare began forming suspicions in her head, wondering if there was one more component to this situation that K.C had intentionally left out.

"So telling me that you wanted to work on the essay was just your way of getting me to your place so you can talk to me about Jenna?"

K.C guiltily turned his eyes down to the floor, which was all the explanation Clare needed. She was appalled that K.C had decided to deceive her after he made such an effort to restore their friendship. Any anger she had felt with him that day had multiplied by the hundreds and she began to hurt because of his impure motives.

Part of her was wishing that this was a bizarre dream that she just needed to wake up from to escape. It was infuriating that she had to deal with this on Eli's first full day back home; any hope she had of them having a peaceful afternoon together had gone out the window because she knew that this would be in the back of her head the entire time.

"No! You don't do these kinds of things to people!"

"I know I'm being a bastard here, but I really need your help."

This was not convincing her; if he wanted her assistance in any way, he was not going to get it, especially when he formulated this plan and lied to her. Furthermore, he could not have honestly expected her to help him with because of the history the two of them and Jenna had.

"You can't expect me to do that for you after what you did to me!"

"Is that what this is about? Because I thought you were over that."

"I am over it! I just don't want to get involved with you and Jenna again in that way!"

"Clare, I love her. Please, just talk to her for me and then I swear I will never ask you to do things like this again and I won't bother you anymore when Eli's here."

Clare stood there as she tried to find the correct way to respond to this. It irritated her greatly that K.C had claimed to love Jenna yet he would not perform every act of the imagination to prove that to her. In her eyes, he was not fighting for her and she believed that one of the main components of love included how much someone would be willing to go through for that one special person. If K.C was asking her to do this instead of taking leaps of faith to speak to Jenna himself, then she was not going to waste her time helping him.

However, she knew that if any of her other guy friends were to ask this favor of her, she more than likely would have accepted or at least given it thought. Since it was K.C she was having this conversation with, it definitely did alter her perspective.

"If you really think I'm going to help your relationship with Jenna . . ." she started before she stepped around him and began moving towards the exit.

"Wait a sec," K.C said, grasping Clare's wrist. He pulled Clare back so they were facing each other and she hastily pulled her wrist from his grip.

"K.C," she said, "Eli's probably waiting for me outside."

"Please," he pleaded. "Won't you just think about it?"

"No!" she riposted. "You hurt me because of her and I am not going to do anything that helps you two!"

K.C pursed his lips and tried not to explode from aggravation. He assumed that Clare would have helped him because they were friends again and she was with Eli, but clearly he could not have been more wrong. Maybe he should have been straightforward with her about this, but he could not believe that she was still holding on to this grudge against him and Jenna's relationship and how it affected her in grade nine. Once he believed that would not shout the next time he opened his mouth, he turned his head to meet Clare's eyes.

"Can you explain something to me? Eli has hurt you many times and you're still with him, but you won't help your friend?"

"Eli didn't want to hurt me! I understand why he ever did and some things were out of his control! And he's always apologized for it and he always cares enough to feel bad about what he did!"

"You think that I didn't feel bad?"

"We weren't even broken up for a day and you went to Jenna! Then you used me!"

"I apologized for that!"

"But you hurt me! I was trying for us to be friends again and you guilt tripped me into giving you answers for –!"

"That was a long time ago, Clare!"

"Those who don't learn their history are doomed to repeat it! And I've learned the hard way that getting involved with you and anything relationship related is a stupid move!"

Without another word, she turned on her heel and stomped down the hall until she was near the doors. Taking a deep breath and composing herself, she used her usual stride to walk out of the school with a smile on her face; she did not want people around her noticing her mood, especially Eli . . . who happened to be leaning against the passenger side door of Morty at the bottom of the stairs. The sight of him brought a small smile to Clare's face, but the animosity that was within her was stirring and it was ill-fated that she had to carry these feelings while Eli was standing there and grinning at her.

"Hello, gorgeous," he greeted her once she was in earshot.

"Hi. Sorry I'm a bit late," she said to him.

"It's no prob–."

Before he could get out the rest of his word, Clare put her arms around his neck and kissed him fully on the lips. Surprised yet very thrilled about the sudden kiss, Eli put his arms around her and reciprocated. He felt something fierce in her kiss that he had rarely seen from her throughout their relationship; it seemed that she was channeling any emotions inside her soul into her lips and they were unleashing everything she had been feeling.

After she was done greeting Eli and had calmed herself down a bit, she set his lips free but did not move in any way besides that. She got a perfect view of his green eyes by being in such close proximity to them and she could not fight the mild healing power they had.

"I love you," she told him after she caught her breath.

"I love you too," he replied, incapable of sensing her negativity since she was masking it so well in this instant.

"Can we get away from here?" she asked of him.

"We can," he consented, opening her door and gesturing for her to climb inside.

()()

Clare felt a sense of peace when they arrived at the abandoned church and began lying on top of Morty's hood while one of their mixed CDs played in the background. Unfortunately, the appeasement only came because she was able to get away from Degrassi with Eli; everything else that happened that day still plagued her and she was infuriated that she had to deal with this when her boyfriend was here. She wanted her mind to be clear of it all and cherish the limited time she had with Eli instead of dwelling on what had occurred less than twenty minutes ago. To her sheer aggravation, the more she tried not to think about it, the more it haunted her.

"Babe? Are you okay?" Eli asked, noticing how distant she seemed to be in comparison to that morning.

"Yeah," Clare said. She was going to have to be careful to not mention K.C like she planned, but she was unsure how much longer she would be able to keep her anger bottled up. If it was not for this being his second day back in Toronto, she probably would have confessed everything to him and hope that the negativity would stop lingering over her or that he would help her cope with her annoyance, but she did not want to make this day any worse. "It's just been a long day."

"Do you want to talk about it?" he offered, scooting closer to her.

"It's nothing," she declined as turned on her side, put her arm around his torso, and moved closer to him. "It's just stuff going on at school."

He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer until she was able to rest her head on his chest.

"Degrassi hasn't lost its attraction for drama then?" he presumed.

"Not even a little," she answered.

Clare exhaled through her nostrils, wondering if this was karma. She had been keeping her friendship with K.C a secret from Eli, thus it was when he came to visit that the two of them would get into a fight. In that instant, Clare knew that it was more than just this argument with K.C that made her emotions rage inside her; it was the guilt she had of not being honest with Eli from the start. She had dug a hole and it got deeper and deeper every time she avoided telling him the truth.

"Are you sure you don't want to talk?" he ensured. "Or at least vent?"

If this were an ordinary situation like an issue with grades or Alyson, Clare would have accepted that invitation in a heartbeat and spilled her heart to him until she felt better. She could not speak to him about K.C without him realizing that she had been keeping their friendship a secret and that could potentially lead to fight. If she had to choose between getting into a dispute with Eli about this during his first visit back home and wrestling with her feelings, then she was going to take the latter and not tell him about the person who was making her feel so enraged; instead, she decided to just reveal the smaller, nonspecific details of her unpleasant day.

"I just woke up this morning in is this really good mood for the first time in a long time because you came home and I just wanted it to last. But today things got . . . complicated and stressful and it's a lot to handle on top of AP English and all these essays."

Eli wrapped his other arm around her and kept her close to him, understanding how she felt. He and stress were close friends these days, for it seemed that it had to follow him wherever he went and refused to let go. Hearing that his girlfriend had a similar shadow stalking her unleashed the empathy within him.

"Are you going to be okay?"

"Eventually," she answered. "I just want to forget about it."

"If you're interested, I have a few of ways to help with that," he proposed. The gentle yet mildly suggestive tone in his voice grabbed her attention and she turned her head to him.

"I'm listening."

He gave her a lopsided smile at her enthusiasm before taking her right hand off his body and cradling it.

"One," he began, stroking her index finger with his thumb, "I need you to close your eyes and not open them until I tell you to."

Clare obeyed, not quite sure what to expect although she was not planning on making a protest.

"Two," he continued, moving his thumb to her middle finger. He then kissed her, slipping his tongue into the mix by allowing it to gently caress her lip. The kiss was sweet, but there was enough sensuality in it to cause Clare's toes to curl. When Eli slowly pulled away, she was grinning again and it took all her willpower to not open her eyes and look at him.

"Is there a number three?" she breathed, almost forgetting why she was so angry since she was curious as to what Eli could do while she was sat there without the sense of sight.

"That depends if you trust me or not," he informed her.

"I trust you."

After making sure that she was not looking, Eli released her hand and put his arm around her waist. Hoping that his idea would help her, he lied back down and guided Clare until her body was on top of his and her head was resting on his sternum.

"Comfortable?" he asked.

She nodded silently, which encouraged Eli to take the next step.

"Keep your eyes closed."

Seeing that her eyelids were still hiding her orbs, he carefully started tugging at the bottom of her blouse so it would break free from the waistline of her skirt. He heard her release a peaceful breath, signaling to him that she was fine with this and that she actually felt a bit more comfortable because of it. Feeling her become less tense already, Eli softly put his hand on her hips before slowly gliding them under her top.

"Eli," she breathed, trying not to sound alarmed.

"Trust me."

Hearing her let out a gentle sigh and assuming that it was a gesture for him to continue, Eli slid his hands farther up her shirt until his hands were against the skin of her back. She hummed quietly as she relaxed at his touch. He began by gently caressing her spine with his palm while his other hand rubbed circles on the small of her back. He soon moved both of his hands until his left was near the center of her back and his right was on the lower portion. He applied pressure every so often then released it, causing her muscles to let go of the tension. He used his fingertips to administer direct care to certain areas, but was cautious to not give her any pain.

"How does that feel?" he asked after hearing nothing but content sighs from Clare over the next couple of minutes.

"So good," she answered, feeling more relaxed now than she ever did over the past month and a half.

The movements of his hands caused the back of her blouse to move up on her body occasionally, but she was too at peace to care. The cool air on her skin and Eli's warm hands were the perfect combination for tranquility. He continued massaging her back for several more minutes until she had almost fallen asleep on him. He then retracted his hands from under the blouse and put his arms around her in an embrace. She felt safe in his hold as she rested her head against his chest. He was warm and the sounds of his heartbeat and breathing were soothing to her.

She grinned, glad that Eli was able to distract her from K.C . . .

That was when she knew she jinxed her emotions. With a flash, her mind had returned to the same state it was before. Although her muscles were feeling better and her body was free of tautness, her mind soon began to buzz again. Irritated, she growled lightly and turned her head until her forehead laid on his breastbone.

"It's still bothering you, hu?" he guessed before she gave him a nod.

"I'm sorry," she said, knowing that her dismal mood was taking away from the enjoyable time they should have been having together.

"Don't worry," he assured her. "This stuff happens."

Eli kept his arms around hers, sort of astounded at how she was letting this pressure get to her. Usually she would try to relax and think positively; today it seemed that she was doing one but not the other. Maybe because it was her senior year or because she had changed this past month and a half; either way, he wished that she could find harmony. Eli kissed the top of her head, wishing that he could take whatever burdens she was carrying off her shoulders.

"Is there anything I can do?"

"No," she said. "I'm just being . . . well, me."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You know . . . I let everything get the best of me and it stays in my head until it explodes."

"Do you think you're reaching the breaking point?" he asked.

"I don't know, but if I'll feel a lot better when I get some of this stuff sorted out. I just don't know how to deal with it in the meantime."

"You just need to let off some steam."

"I would, but my thoughts are too scattered. I can't think of any ways to defuse my stress."

"Then scream."

"What?" she exclaimed as she lifted her head to meet his eyes, automatically thinking in retrospect to when they first became English partners.

"Scream."

"Not this again," she chuckled.

"Come on, we're not in public this time; and it's not like I've never heard you scream before."

"Yeah, but . . ."

"It really helps. Even if it just calms you down for a while, it allows you let off steam so you don't lose your mind later on."

"Are you telling me that you sometimes scream to relieve stress?"

"At times," he confessed. "Other times I go for a drive and turn the radio up really loud."

"Well, screaming your lungs out may work for you, but I don't think it will for me."

"Just try it," he encouraged her.

"What about you, college boy? You don't have any stress you want to get rid of?" she teased, sitting up while continuing to look down at him.

"I left all my stress in Ottawa," he explained, sitting up as well. "Now my universe is perfectly serene."

"So, once again, I'm going to be the one screaming and you're going to be watching?" she assumed, remembering that Eli did not participate last time either.

"It doesn't even have to be a real scream; just yell out something that's been on your mind and driving you crazy. For example . . ."

Eli slid off the hearse and took a few steps away from it as he took a deep breath and faced the trees in front of them.

"I MISS MY GIRLFRIEND LIKE CRAZY WHEN I'M AWAY!"

Oddly, Clare appreciated him shouting those words out. Not only did she know for sure now that he truly did think of her while he was in Ottawa, but it made her feel a bit more comfortable in letting out of some of her anger.

"Your turn," he said to her as he reclaimed his spot on Morty's hood.

Clare, seeing the advantage of doing this, got off the hearse and wandered to the same spot Eli was standing at seconds before. Sucking in some air and collecting her thoughts until they created a single phrase, she released the animosity and regret within her by screaming:

"I WANT EVERYTHING TO BE LESS COMPLICATED!"

Seconds later, all she heard around her was complete silence. Her words did not echo through the woods; instead, they traveled away from her and disappeared. They were now out of her and it was now the air's problem instead of hers. Surprised from the relief that gave her, Clare wore a tiny grin on her face as she walked back to the hearse.

"How do you feel now?" Eli asked in hope that his method had helped her.

"Better, actually," she said as she climbed back on to the hood and into Eli's arms. "Now I just can't wait to get tomorrow over with."

"Then it's just you and me for our date and sleepover."

Clare grinned at the reminder; she needed to spend an evening with Eli and eventually fall asleep in his arms until the troubles of her mind melted away.

"I have ever told you how much I love you?"

"All the time," he answered her.

"Well, I'm going to tell you again. I love you very, very, very, very, very much."

Eli kissed her head to silently respond to her statement before securing her tighter in his arms.

"Are you alright?"

"I think so," she answered, now making it her mission to enjoy the time she had in Eli's arms instead of focusing on the day that had passed. "I just can't wait until tomorrow night."

"Neither can I," he agreed. "Thankfully, by this time tomorrow, it's going to be just you and me."

Clare smiled, adoring the sound of being alone with Eli.

"So what's the plan for tomorrow?"

"Well, I was thinking maybe we could grab a bite at the Dot first, then go to our place and spend time there for a while, make a fire and roast some marshmallows, and then eventually go back to my house."

"That sounds great," she sighed contently. "Can I offer one suggestion?"

"Certainly," he responded.

"Can we do a bit of this . . .?"

Clare then put her lips to Eli's and began kissing him powerfully as she rested her hands on his shoulders. She did not waste any time slipping her tongue into his mouth and occasionally tugging on his bottom lip with her teeth.

"And this . . .?"

She trailed her lips down to his neck, giving it many pecks and administering much care with every one she gave. She heard him release breaths and gasps of pleasure, which made her feel truly confident for the first time since she wore that revealing outfit over webcam for him on his birthday.

"And maybe a bit of this . . .?" she muttered before she moved her lips back to his.

Clare then glided her hands all the way down his body until she was able to slide them under his Dead Hand t-shirt. She felt his muscles flinch at her touch and she felt him smiling against her kiss. She savored the feeling of his warm flesh and did not hesitate to smooth her fingertips over his skin so she could become reacquainted with it. Seconds later, she felt his fingers tangle into her curls, creating more fire and passion between them as they kissed. After many more minutes of kissing, they both needed to catch breath and they separated their lips.

"I've been wanting to do all of that for so long," he breathed, keeping his fingers tangled in her hair. She smiled down lovingly at him before kissing his lips again; removed her hands from beneath his shirt and sliding them up his body until she was cupping his jaw with one hand while the other rested on his chest. She freed his lips and kept grinning at him as they locked eyes.

"Then . . ." she began, trailing her finger down Eli's jaw to his chin. "Maybe we should make up for lost time when we're alone tomorrow night."

Eli grinned as he moved his hands from her hair to her face until he was gently cupping it and he was able to bring her lips back to his.

"That sounds like a very good idea to me," he told her softly against her lips. They continued kissing, both of them becoming completely lost; Clare only kept her thoughts and feelings on Eli, therefore causing any feelings against K.C to vanish completely. While they kissed, she truly began to believe that this day could end on a positive note after all.


"How did we get here?

When I used to know you so well

But how did we get here?

Well I think I know"

~"Decode" by Paramore


There you go readers who read!

Due to this story's length, I know I've probably lost a few (or a lot) of readers, so please drop a review to let me know that you are still reading. I really appreciate all you people who are still reading after one hundred nighteen chapters. Review!