ECLARE FAN FOREVER BABY!
Thank you Jordanxx, SA5M, Crissychan350, Air, Meg123, sushi.23, and Eclarexoxo for the reviews on the last chapter. So . . . EClare broke up again on the show. I am sad about it, but I believe they are endgame (I mean, hello! They're ECLARE)! With that said, here's the newest update for my readers.
Disclaimer: I don't own Degrassi or Starbucks (that depresses me greatly)
Chapter One Hundred Forty-Five
Don't Stop Believing
Eli returned to Ottawa, the five hour drive barely doing anything to relieve any of the pain he had. He thought about Clare and home the whole time and was longing to be back with her in his house. The highlight of returning to university was seeing Josh and Cathy and being able to hear about their holidays; they each had a very good time with their families, but were excited to return to their friends. Eli wanted to say the same with a full heart but he could not, especially when he saw the picture of Clare at his desk staring back at him.
He got through his first day back in class with mild difficulty. He was attempting to get his mind back in sync with his schedule while trying to not think about home too often. Thankfully he was able to pay attention in class and socializing with the friends that he had not heard from in weeks kept him distracted. After his final class was over, he went straight to the Ottawa Cinema to resume his job. He walked to the break room with his uniform on, surprised with himself that he had been able to be away from home all day and not feel completely low.
"Hey Eli," Haley greeted brightly when she saw him.
"Hey," he replied as he hung up his jacket and punched in. "How were your holidays?"
"They could have been better," she said in a slightly bitter tone. "But it's okay. How about yours? Did you get to spend time with Clare?"
"Yes, and I had such a great time with her."
"Miss her already?" she asked as the two of them stepped out of the break room and towards the lobby.
"Yeah," he said.
"Sorry about that."
Eli shrugged, knowing that there was nothing that could be done to ease his longing.
"Moved on already, Haley?" remarked the voice that made Eli's skin crawl.
"Shut up, Devin," she retorted as she and Eli stepped behind the counter.
He chuckled darkly before stepping away from the counter now that two other people were there to operate it.
"What was that about?" Eli asked.
"Ugh . . . nothing," she said. "Gary and I broke up over break and Devin's been giving us a hard time about it."
"You guys broke up?" he echoed.
"Yeah," she said.
Haley growled before distracting herself by checking to see if the candy was organized correctly.
"We just started to grow apart and we started fighting a lot. Plus I spent Christmas with him and his family and it was all chaos; by the end of it I just wanted to be single again."
"So you guys had a bad week together and now it's over?"
"No, we've been having problems for a while; it was just a matter of time until we needed to get out of it."
"So it was mutual?" Eli assumed.
"Well . . . it took a while for him to understand why, but I was the one who suggested us going our separate ways."
"We had a good run . . . I just wish we could have focused more on fixing our problems instead of creating more."
"I'm sorry," he sympathized, not wanting to imagine what could happen if he and Clare broke up for those reasons (or broke up at all).
"It's okay," she said. "We're just trying to avoid each other now, but I'm not sure how well that's going to go since we work together."
"Don't you also have three classes with him?" he wondered.
"Yeah," she sighed. "That doesn't really help."
"Have things been awkward?"
"Not so much awkward as hostile."
"What do you mean?"
"You'll see before the day is over," she told him.
Actually, Eli only had to wait five minutes when Gary emerged from the hall that contain many of the theaters. He was stepping towards the counter and Eli could instantly tell that there was a change in his coworker; his blue eyes were saddened behind his glasses and his face was smug as opposed to cheerful like it used to be.
"Hello Eli and . . . Eli," Gary said, purposely making a point that he was ignoring Haley.
"Hey," Eli replied, noticing Haley biting her lips out of anger. "Uh . . . how was your break?"
"It was great . . . for the most part," he said with a snide growl at Haley. Eli noticed Haley rolling her eyes as she refilled the popcorn machine. "How about you? Did you have a good time with your girlfriend?"
"The one who loves you and appreciates you and listens to you."
"Oh, real mature," Haley scoffed.
"Hey, I wasn't talking to you," he snapped.
"No, you were just talking about me," she sneered, putting the bag of kernels away.
"Actually," he said, crossing his arms. "If I was talking about you I would be saying what a coldhearted, uncaring bitch you are."
"Oh, I'm uncaring?"
"Guys, we're still on the clock here," Eli reminded them, looking out of the window to see a group of people coming towards the cinema.
"You're the uncaring one!" Haley argued. "You left me alone with a bunch of strangers when you played darts with your cousins!"
"Talking to new people wouldn't have killed you!"
"Shut up! Both of you!" Eli hissed just before their patrons entered.
The two shot glares at each other again before paying attention to their customers, more of which were filing in now that the three o'clock movies were about to begin. They operated different end of the concession's counter while Eli worked tickets in the middle, separating them. Devin did not appear on the scene until the rush had finished and took care of two customers before gazing at the now bare lobby.
"Now it's just the gang back together again," he proclaimed, turning back to his university coworkers. "A bit more divided, of course."
Gary shook his head and turned to Haley, who was standing opposite him and looking at the ground. Disgusted at the situation, he scoffed and left the counter. Not wanting to be in the same area as Devin – who would definitely torment her about this – she turned on her heel and hoped that there would be a mess for her to clean up in one of the theaters.
Eli stood there and he was shocked; weeks ago they were one of the most attached and devoted couples he knew and now they were enemies.
"Isn't it sad, newbie?" Devin sighed. "A couple once so in love to be like this now . . . so sad."
"If you're implying something here –."
"Hey, I'm not implying anything," Devin said, holding his hands up in surrender for a brief moment. "But . . . it is scary how fast the tables can turn, isn't it?"
"Shut up," Eli groaned.
"And how two people can be so happy one moment and then can hate each other the next –."
"If you're just trying to provoke me, it's not going to work," Eli stated, trying to keep his walls strong; he did not want to start worrying after only being back in Ottawa for twenty-four hours.
"But it's so sad. One couple can fall apart so it is likely that another can as well."
"Yeah . . . but Clare and I won't be one those couples."
Devin sighed. "Whatever you say." He gave Eli a thump on the back before exiting the counter, leaving the eighteen-year-old all alone.
Attempting to forget Devin's prediction, Eli pulled out his phone from his pocket after making sure he was not being watched. He instantly searched his phone until he found the video message Clare sent him last night when he was back in Ottawa.
"Hey babe," she greeted. "I just wanted to say hi and that I miss you already. I hope you got back safely and that you're settling back in okay. Um . . . did I tell you that I miss you?"
Eli smiled at this just like he did the night before as her cheeks turned pink.
"Well, I do miss you and I just hope you're okay. If you ever start missing me too much or if you just want someone to talk to, you have my number. I guess I should shut up and send this to you now so I don't distract you from whatever you're doing. I'll talk to you soon, Eli. I love you."
She blew a kiss to the camera before giving it a wave and then the video ended. Eli, keeping her face and voice fresh in his mind, put away his phone; he was missing her, but he knew in his heart that they would get through this . . . no matter what his gut, mind, or Devin said.
Clare hated being alone and she felt that way all the time. Even when she was surrounded by friends she felt isolated. She would sit with K.C, Jenna, Dave, and Alli at lunch and it reminded her that she did not have her boyfriend there to hold her hand, kiss her cheek, or whisper in her ear. Unlike the rest of the couples she knew, she was deprived of touch and sensation. The worst part of this situation was that she saw it coming but tried to avoid it and now the reality was bruising her heart. Her rock, her love, and her best friend was gone and now she had to stand alone.
This feeling continued and did not relieve itself from her, not even the slightest. In fact, it seemed to increase and deepen with every hour that passed. She was feeling pain, sadness, and worry all at once and it made her want to reach into her soul and strip away all the negativity.
Wednesday after school, Clare was sitting in Alli's room, doing homework and talking; actually, Alli was the one to do the majority of the talking while she tried to distract herself. She was trying to read her History textbook and learn as much as possible just in case Perino decided to give them a quiz or wanted to have a discussion tomorrow. Her efforts were unsuccessful now since Eli was in her mind constantly along with the unsettling feeling within her.
"Are you alright?" Alli asked when Clare began staring at her book with no interest and dead eyes.
"Yeah . . . I'm just frustrated," Clare sighed as she turned to her best friend, hoping that speaking of her problems would bring her some relief.
"About what?" she asked.
"This stupid long-distance thing; I can't stand it."
"You're missing Eli, hu?"
"Yeah, but that's not bothering me as much as other things about it."
Clare put her textbook down in her lap and sighed in frustration.
"I know that we're going to be a part, I know that we're only going to talk through the phone and Skype, and I know I'm going to be apart from him for weeks."
"You're upset that he's away?" Alli attempted to summarize.
"It's not even that," Clare said. "It's the same process over and over and over again. It's starting to get old."
"At least it's only for a few more months," Alli reminded her.
"That!" Clare snapped. "I hear that exact same thing every day from my parents, Adam, K.C, Jenna, you, Eli and his parents! I know it's only a few more months until it's all over, but that doesn't change the fact we still have to go through this same damn routine until then!"
"I'm sorry," Alli said. "I was just trying to help."
"I don't need help. I need this long-distance relationship to stop."
"Well, that's not going to happen any time soon unless you break up with Eli."
Clare looked down and exhaled, aware that this was the only other way to be free from the distance unless he left Ottawa.
"I don't know why I'm feeling like this; long-distance isn't new and I know that I won't have to wait much longer until this is all over, but . . . something doesn't feel right."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean . . . I just have this horrible feeling that something bad is going to happen."
"Maybe you're just feeling that way because he's been here a while and now he's gone again."
"I don't know," Clare sighed. "But I can't seem to shake it and it's starting to worry me a little."
"Clare, maybe you should tell Eli how you're feeling."
"If only I thought of that," she remarked sarcastically. "What good will telling him do? He'll still be away for a few more months and we'll still be stuck doing long-distance. Telling him would only make him feel bad about being away."
"Then what are you going to do?"
"There's nothing I can do; I just got to stick it out," she accepted with disappointment before checking her watch and seeing that it was almost five thirty. "I need to get to work."
She said her farewells to Alli and collected her books before leaving, hoping that she would somehow leave her fears behind. As she walked down the street, she soon discovered that she was still haunted and she did all she could to keep her mind from racing with terror.
Clare stepped into the Dot minutes later, her mood remaining as low as it was when she left Alli's. She was aware that Alli was only trying to help, but no one would be able to ease her mind right now. All that could be done was for her to grit her teeth and get through the days ahead. She then punched in before going to her first customer of the day, hoping that work would distract her from these emotions.
"May I get you something to drink?"
"You don't look yourself today."
"Excuse me?" she asked, looking up from her notepad with shock.
"You don't look yourself today," the customer repeated.
Clare looked at this person she was serving with inquisitive eyes. It was a male who did not seem to be much older than her; he actually looked to be around Eli's age. His hair was curly at the ends and it was dark brown with a few lighter brown spots as though he had some sort of hair dying mishap. His eyes were also a chocolate brown, he had a stubble mustache growing, and – although it was hard to tell while he was sitting down – he was a foot or so taller than her.
"Have we met?"
"Never officially," he said. "But I come in here often and I've seen you around."
"Okay," she said, preparing to ask for his order again.
"And usually you've been smiling and you're happy; today you're not."
"Oh . . . well . . ."
"Just having one of those days?" he assumed.
"Basically," she sighed.
"I'm sorry to hear that. I'm Caleb," he introduced before sticking out his hand.
"Clare," she introduced herself, shaking Caleb's hand.
"Clare," he echoed. "That's a name I don't hear very often."
She grinned slightly at the compliment but instantly regretted it when she remembered Eli; she took in a breath before paying complete attention to her job.
"Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?" Caleb asked before Clare had the chance to get a word out. "Like buy you a cup of coffee whenever you have a break?"
Clare was taken aback by this comment and she actually blinked a few times before what he said finally registered to her.
"E-Excuse me?" she stammered.
"Because I don't plan on leaving for a while, so if you want to join me for a few minutes when you have the time you can."
Her face began to grow warm; the atmosphere switched from friendly to awkward in a blink of an eye and she was stunned by this proposal.
"Um . . . I have a boyfriend."
Caleb furrowed his brow before giving Clare a small smile.
"I just offered to buy you a cup of coffee, not to go on a date."
"Oh . . ." Clare said, her face turning red. "Um . . . I'm working; I really shouldn't be socializing or making plans with customers."
"Right . . . sorry," he said, regretting his words at the reminder.
"It's okay," she said. "So can I get you anything?"
"Coffee please," he finally answered.
"Okay, I'll be right back with that."
Clare turned away, surprised to find that her emotions were not completely dark now. They still existed, but this encounter with this stranger made her feel a bit lighter on her feet; she was not sure if it was because it was a friendly face that made her smile or if the semi-awkward situation distracted her, but it helped and she was grateful for it.
She remained a bit better for the rest of her shift, but the small flame of peace slowly diminished when she found herself on her way home from the Dot. The pain returned, especially when she remembered that she had to walk home by herself instead of by Eli's side or in Morty. She would not be going to Eli's house to stay the night, nor would she be getting a goodnight kiss from him; she would merely go home and only speak to him through Skype.
When Clare got home, ate some leftover pasta from the night before and went to her room. She was getting ready for bed and was changing into her pajamas when she saw the picture of her and Eli at prom on her nightstand. She let out a melancholy sigh before retrieving her phone from her purse, hoping that her boyfriend would be able to ease her troubled heart.
Are you busy? she texted Eli.
Not now ;) he replied within seconds.
Can you Skype?
Needing to be reassured that she was simply being paranoid and that nothing was going to happen to her relationship, Clare sat at her desk and immediately went on to Skype. Within a matter of seconds, Eli was calling her via video call and she was soon able to see him.
"Hey," she greeted him.
"Hey," he replied from his desk.
"Are you alone?" she asked.
"In theory," he answered. "Josh is listening to his iPod and Cathy isn't here."
Clare attempted to smile, wanting his voice and face to be enough for her; when she saw him, however, she felt the pit in her stomach deepen. It was a reminder of how he could not be with her in person.
"How was your day?" he asked her.
"Okay, I guess. I missed you a lot today. I mean, I always miss you, but today was one of those rough days, you know?"
"Yeah," he empathized. "I missed you too."
Clare grinned at him comfortingly, loathing that they had to say "I miss you" to each other again.
"What have you been up to today?"
"Not much," he shrugged. "Went to class, went to work, and went to Drama Club."
"How did that go?"
"Alright," he said. "They are about to hold auditions for a play one of the members wrote last year and we're going to put in on before the end of term."
"Are you thinking about trying out?"
"Maybe for a small role," he answered. "Nothing big."
"Sounds good," she said, trying her best to sound interested when all she really wanted was for him to be next to her right now.
Clare was not herself and Eli could see it. She was not cheerful like she was days ago and her face was dead of emotion. He hated seeing her this way and he just wished that he could whisper in her ear that her conflicts will soon disappear before giving her a loving kiss.
"Are you okay?" he asked her.
"Yeah," Clare said. "I'm okay."
"Something on your mind?"
Clare sighed, not wanting to worry Eli with what was on her mind or do anything to give him a reason to start feeling anxious so soon.
"Long day, that's all."
"School stressing you out?"
"No," she said.
"Then what's wrong?"
Clare inhaled, recalling how she promised Eli that she would be honest with him and how he promised her that she could tell him anything. She was certain that he would not bring much relief to her, but she hoped for the best nonetheless; as she prepared her words, she prayed that this would not bring pain or worry to him.
"Long-distance sucks," she stated.
"You really do miss me, hu?" he smirked cockily, hoping it would amuse her.
"I'm serious, Eli," she said, not in the mood to deal with his sense of humor.
"I know," he said, softening his facial expression. "Want to talk about it?"
"It's nothing really," she said, not wanting to tell him everything just in case he did start getting worried. "I just miss being away from you, that's all."
"I can transfer if you want me to."
"With only a few months left of term?" she remarked with a scoff.
"I could come back and do online courses."
"What about the play?"
"There are others students."
"Eli . . ." she said, forcing herself to reject his offer with the words she was tired of hearing. "It's only for a few more months; just don't worry about it."
"I don't like seeing you sad, though."
"Is there anything I could do?" he asked.
"I don't think so," she said. "But don't worry; I'll get over it."
Eli let out a breath, his heart aching to see his girlfriend this way.
"I guess that's something we both have to do."
"Yeah," she said. She then forced a smile on her face, hoping that they could have a pleasant conversation that would distract her from how much she missed him. "Anyway, everyone's getting ready to apply for university; it shouldn't be long I apply for U of O."
Eli grinned, pleased and relieved to hear that she was still going to apply.
"So should I start looking for our apartment now or later?" he inquired.
"Give it a couple more months," she advised. "I still have to get accepted first."
"You will," he promised. "Call me the second you find out?"
"I will; and after I do you can start looking."
"Deal," he concurred. "Um . . . Clare, I'm really, really sorry to cut this short, but I have some homework to finish up and a quiz to study for."
"Big surprise," she muttered; this was not the first or the last time homework would take him away from her just when she was starting to feel happy again.
"Hu?" he said.
"Alright," she lied. "Okay . . . I'll talk to you later then."
"Yeah," he said. "At least we have our long-distance date next Saturday, right?"
"Right," she sighed. "I'm looking forward to it."
"Me too," he smiled. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Eli then ended the conversation and Clare closed her laptop, sighing at the loss. Once again, she was alone; she felt as if she had never even talked to Eli and it caused her feel cold and empty. Needing to feel some warmth and security, she wandered over to her bed; she crawled under her covers and wound them around her. She held onto the panda bear she had been sleeping with for the past two nights, trying to inhale the remains of the scent of the shirt Eli left on it. It was weak and she could mainly smell cotton, and it broke her heart that she was unable to be connected with her boyfriend on this night. She closed her eyes and held the bear closer to her, hating the fact that their lives were now a part of a cycle that would never seem to break . . .
"Some will win, some will lose
Some are born to sing the blues
Oh the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on"
~"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
If you want some happy EClare goodness, read "Faith" written by me and eclarefanxxx.
Yes, the video message idea was inspired by Cam (I miss him!). And we have not seen the last of Caleb (hehehe).