Summary: "Never again," she whispered. "I will never, ever leave you again. Do you hear me? I love you, Eli. Only you. Always."

Disclaimer: Don't own Degrassi. 'Nuff said.

Author's Note: I was chatting with LiteraryLolita a while back, and this idea came about. It's a side story to "Love Me Always"… or a prequel.

Either way, enjoy!

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Never Again
By: Lady Azura

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Clare stood outside Eli's house, her heart beating rapidly as she debated whether or not to knock. Already five minutes had gone by and she still hadn't made up her mind, but how was she supposed to when she was so torn?

She couldn't just leave, though.

Not after…

Clare shook her head furiously, trying to suppress the memory of Eli lying in a hospital bed, green eyes staring at her in contempt. She swallowed the lump in her throat at the thought.

Mustering what little courage she had, and ignoring the part of her that wanted to flee, Clare took a deep breath and was about to knock when the door suddenly opened, revealing Cece Goldsworthy. As she took in the blonde's tired appearance — with no trace of the lively woman she'd been introduced to a few months prior — guilt washed over her. She looked away, unable to bring herself to meet Cece's eyes because she knew that she had to hate her for what happened to Eli. Clare waited to be yelled at, or have the door slammed in her face, but instead Cece stepped aside.

Clare glanced up in confusion, and was surprised when Cece gave her a weak smile. "Stop blaming yourself. What happened wasn't your fault." She said, and after a brief pause, she added, "I'm going out for a while. I have some errands to run. He's in his room, if you want to see him."

Clare nodded and thanked her quietly, taking off her shoes before making her way down the hall. She came to a halt in front of a familiar door, still covered in street signs and caution tape, but the padlock was no longer there. Grasping the knob, she pushed open the door and walked into Eli's room.

It was still very cluttered, but not nearly as bad as it used to be. She didn't have time to really absorb her surroundings, as her attention was quickly drawn to the figure lying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling — Eli. He was disturbingly pale, the contrast made especially evident against the plaid sweatpants and black button-down he wore. There were dark circles under his eyes, a testament to how little sleep he'd been getting.

Eli turned his head as soon as he heard the door click shut, only to narrow his eyes when he saw the intruder.

"Oh… it's you." His voice was hoarse.

"Yeah…" she said softly, "How… how are you doing?"

Eli shrugged.

"Just fucking peachy." He muttered, sarcasm dripping in his tone. "Not that you'd care."

"That's not true!" Clare whispered frantically, now standing at his bedside. "I do care about you, Eli!"

"If you cared about me, you wouldn't have left me. You promised!"

"I know!" She cried, "And I meant it! Damn it, Eli, what do I have to do to make you believe me?"

"You've done enough." Eli spat venomously, before rolling onto his side so that his back was turned to her. "Go."

Clare refused to budge, however. "I'm not going anywhere. I told you I wouldn't."

Eli let out a bitter laugh. "But you did, Clare!"

"No, you misunderstood what I was… I wasn't…" she broke off to regain her composure. She knew that losing her cool would just make Eli even more upset, and she couldn't afford that. With a sigh, she sat down on the edge of his bed and placed a hand on his shoulder — only to have him recoil in disgust.

"Don't — touch — me."

It took every ounce of willpower she had to not cry. She could feel her throat tightening and her vision blurring, but she held it back. She forced herself to go on.

"I am so sorry…" she whispered. "I should've… I should've told you from the start. I just… I was just so overwhelmed and… I guess I got scared. I was afraid that if we spent too much time together… that we'd end up hating each other in the long run. I didn't want us to be like my parents… that's why I wanted some space. But that's all! I wasn't going to abandon you, Eli!" She paused briefly, waiting for a reaction — for any sign that Eli was listening to her, but he gave no indication that he was. Clare considered stopping then, and giving up, but she couldn't. She had to make him understand.

"What I did was… selfish. I was wrong and… and it shouldn't have taken almost losing you to make me realize that… that you mean more to me than anyone else in the world." Her voice was becoming shaky and more high-pitched as she struggled to get the words out. "Eli… I don't know what I'd do without you. You've become such an integral part of my life, so fast, and…" a shuddery breath fell from her lips, "… and I love you so much that it terrifies me!"

Her confession was met with silence at first. It was long and agonizing, and practically drove her insane. She was about to give up — accept that Eli hated her, and would probably never speak to her again — when he finally shifted and looked at her once more, his eyes brimming with unshed tears.

"How can I believe anything you say anymore?" He said weakly.

His words cut through Clare like a knife, and she had to tear her gaze away.

"Give me another chance," she whispered desperately, "and I'll prove it to you. Just… please…"

"How?" He croaked. "What could you possibly do?"

Clare's eyes fell on the silver band around her finger — a reminder of the vow she made to God.

(But…)

Her mind was already made up, the second she walked through the door. Still, she hesitated when she took the ring off and held it in the palm of her hand before holding it out to him. Eli sat up abruptly, disbelief clouding his eyes as he stared at her.

"Clare, what are you…"

Clare bit her lip and inched closer to him, placing her hands on his chest and gently pushing him down so that he was on his back. She hovered over him, caressing the side of his face before dropping a kiss to his lips. He stiffened, but made no move to return it. Clare sighed and pulled away, only to brush her lips against his ear instead.

"Will you let me show you?" She murmured.

Eli shuddered, but nodded slowly. With trembling fingers, she started to unbutton his shirt, kissing and caressing the newly exposed skin. Ragged breaths fell from his lips, but he didn't fight her, so she slid lower, kissing her way down his torso. When she dipped her tongue into his navel, his hips jerked up instinctively. She could feel his growing arousal and tugged at his sweatpants, her cheeks burning at the sight. She shifted around so that she was kneeling beside him, and then began to stroke him through his boxers.

Clare watched Eli clutch his sheets, his face contorted in pleasure as she fondled him. A familiar heat pooled between her thighs and she squeezed them together before halting her ministrations, much to Eli's dismay. His eyes snapped open, then widened when she pulled her shirt off and quickly undid her bra, revealing her breasts to him. She avoided his gaze as she fumbled with the zipper of her jeans and removed those as well, leaving her in nothing but a pair of white panties.

In a matter of seconds, those were gone too, along with Eli's boxers.

Her heart hammered in her chest as she swung a leg over his waist and took him in her hand, aligning him with her entrance. Taking a deep breath, she locked eyes with him and slowly lowered herself.

Tears stung her eyes as soon as she felt her hymen break, pain rippling through her. A choked sob erupted from the back of her throat and she dug her nails into Eli's shoulders, waiting for her body to adjust to the intrusion. She'd always known her first time would hurt, but she hadn't anticipated just how much.

"C-Clare," Eli's voice was strained, his hands gripping her hips tightly as he tried to control himself, "I… I can take over… if you want…"

Clare shook her head.

"No," she whimpered, "this is about you… I can… I can do this… just…"

Using her knees, Clare pushed herself up before sinking back down with a wince. She decided to try something else, and began rocking her hips instead. When the pain subsided, leaving only a dull throb, she quickened her pace. She heard Eli moan and watched him press his head into his pillow, bucking his hips to meet hers. Assuming she was doing something right, she continued. Licking her lips, she moved faster, hovering above him, her breasts bouncing in front of his face. When his he raised a hand to touch her, she swatted it away.

"Not — today," she gasped and squeezed her eyes shut as a sudden jolt of pleasure coursed through her.

The mattress squeaked beneath them as they kept thrusting against each other, but she could feel her muscles starting to tire. She didn't stop, though. She had to make sure he —

"C-Clare!" Eli cried suddenly, grabbing her bottom and giving a particularly hard thrust as he came, releasing inside of her.

Clare stilled, her eyes widening at the foreign sensation. After a moment, Eli relaxed and fell back, panting heavily. She bit her lip, pushing herself off of him — and hissed when she realized that the pain between her legs was still there. Blood and semen coated her thighs, but she paid no heed to the mess as she carefully reached across Eli's body to place her purity ring on his nightstand before drawing back.

She was caught off guard when Eli pulled her down and pinned her beneath him.

"Don't leave me again," he begged, his eyes glistening. "Promise me."

Clare could feel tears gathering in her own eyes as she lifted her hands to cradle his face.

"Even if I wanted to, I can't." She confessed with a weak smile. "I'm yours. Forever. Remember that."

Without warning, Eli buried his face between her breasts and began to cry. Clare laced her fingers through his hair, caressing his scalp as he clung to her.

"Never again," she whispered soothingly. "I will never, ever leave you again. Do you hear me? I love you, Eli. Only you. Always."

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FIN

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… I didn't know how else to end this.

It didn't really turn out like I wanted, but… I hope you guys enjoyed anyway.

Please REVIEW and tell me what you think!