A/N: I don't actually think this is going to happen. The idea just sort of came into my head while I was having a conversation on Fan Forum about what's going to happen to Eli and Clare. Someone thought there was a good chance of Clare cheating on Eli, and although I disagree, I suddenly started thinking, "What if Clare fell out of love with Eli?" and "What if she cheated and he never found out?"
Clare looked up from her biology textbook. She was sitting at Eli's desk doing school work and Eli had just gotten back from the bathroom. He was standing in the doorway of his bedroom looking at her.
Clare smiled at him. "What?"
"I think we need to talk about something." Eli sounded hesitant. He had sounded somewhat distant on the phone when he had called her up about a study date, and when he had opened the door to let her in, she had seen a forlorn look on his face before he had smiled at her.
The smile had been fake.
"Okay..." Clare turned away from the desk to face him.
Eli approached her slowly. When he reached the desk, he flipped the cover of her textbook over so that it was closed. Eli looked at her in the way that scared her, blankly, his emotions cut off from her view. He regarded her with the air of someone studying someone else, trying to read her, but Clare kept her expression impassive. Whatever he was searching for, she didn't want him to find it in her face.
Eli looked her up and down with his eyes, keeping the rest of his face still before he reached a hand towards her forehead, brushing a few stray curls out of her eyes. Clare flinched away automatically and cursed at herself. As usual, she saw the brief look of hurt flash across Eli's face before it returned to the same deadpan state as before.
Eli decided to change tactics, and he swiftly bent down and pressed a kiss to her lips. After the initial surprise wore off, Clare forced herself to reciprocate.
The kiss was desperate and hard. Everything about Eli's kisses that used to turn her on now made her miserable. The way his nose pressed against her cheek just so. The way his breath caressed one side of her face. The yearning in the way his soft lips moved with hers. The weird obsession he had with her bottom lip, the way he tugged it between his teeth and sucked on it gently.
When he tried to part her lips with his tongue, Clare leaned away.
Usually, that was all it took for Eli to get the hint, but not this time. Eli leaned forward and followed her, trying to recapture her lips, but Clare continued to keep her head turned.
"I thought you wanted to talk." Clare's voice was nervous.
Eli stood back up warily.
"I do. Clare, what the hell is going on." It wasn't said as if it were a question. The words were not angry or shouted. They were quiet and calm and broken and wounded.
Suddenly, Clare had the horrible realization that she was pretty sure she knew what he wanted to talk about.
Oh God. She was not ready for this conversation.
Clare couldn't bring herself to look her boyfriend in the eyes. She knew that if she did, she would see the pain there and she couldn't stand knowing that she was the one who was causing it.
"What do you mean?"
"Don't play stupid Clare!" Clare jumped at his tone of voice, and Eli immediately lowered it again, so that he was almost whispering. "Clare…something's wrong with us."
Yes. Yes, something is. And it's my fault.
"I mean, that's the first time we've kissed in two days. We've barely touched in a week and…we haven't…slept together in months. Every time I try to - I try to -" his voice broke.
And even though she had fallen out of love with him quite a while ago, Clare's heart did too.
Eli took a breath. He sounded on the verge of crying. Anyone who didn't know him wouldn't hear it. But Clare could tell. She could just barely make out the faint wobbliness on the edges of his words that preceded tears. He was clearly distressed.
"Every time I try to get intimate with you…you're never interested. You always pull away."
Clare kept her gaze away from Eli's face and directed at his floor. She tried to think up some kind of excuse for her behavior, because she knew if she told him the truth it would kill him. Nothing came to mind. But she had to say something. He knew something was wrong, and she couldn't avoid him or the issue any more. He had been suspicious for quite a while now and he wanted answers.
When Eli wanted answers, he got them. If he had to stare at a person blankly until they cracked, had to manipulate them into telling the truth, then he would do it.
"Eli…I just haven't felt like having sex. I didn't think it would bother you this much. I've just been tired. School is kind of stressful this year."
It was a lame excuse and it was a complete lie, and they both knew it.
"But Clare it's not just the sex. We don't kiss, we don't hold hands or hold each other…you haven't even let me go down on you."
"It's not that I'm like, upset that you won't have sex with me, Clare. It's just…I'm starting to think that paired with everything else…you've lost interest in me. Is it true?"
Clare didn't say anything.
"Clare, just tell me. Please. I have to know. I can't take this."
Clare refused to meet his gaze. "No. It's not true." She hated herself for being such a coward. She couldn't even be honest with him.
"Then what's going on Clare?"
"It's…" She had no idea what to say. She hadn't been prepared for this.
"You don't want me anymore. Do you?" Eli's voice was emotionless.
"Eli, that's ridiculous." But it wasn't.
He ignored her. "Why not? Was it something I did?"
"Is it because we argue all the time? I just...don't get it. Look, I know we fight Clare, but I still want you. I always want you. All the time."
"Eli, I love you." Lie. Such a lie. Liar. "But I can't want you all the time. Just because I don't want you right now at this very second, doesn't mean I've lost interest in you."
"But something has to have changed, Clare. When we first got together we touched all the time. And you always seemed happy when we kissed. Now it's like you want nothing to do with me. What happened?"
"Nothing, Eli. It's just that we've been arguing a lot lately. It's hard to be attracted to you when we're fighting. Just because we don't always want to jump each other's bones every five seconds -"
"But it's like you're never attracted to me anymore! Even when we're not fighting!" Eli's voice had risen in pitch. "And that hurts Clare, because hell, even when we argue I still want you! But even when we're getting along, it's like when I touch you...you're disgusted." His voice trailed off into a mumbled whisper.
Clare had no idea what to say to that. Once, if Eli had told her he wanted her in the same voice he was using then, her heart would have pounded with excitement, her breathing would have picked up, her skin would have flushed. Her legs would have clenched together automatically.
She had forgotten what that felt like. Now, Eli's aching words left no impression on her other than sadness.
What had she done to this poor boy? What was she going to do with him? She had fallen in love with him, made him fall for her too, and then when she got tired of him, those feelings went away, and he was the one left with these feelings for her that he would end up never knowing what to do with. She had betrayed him in a way he didn't even know about yet, in a way that she knew she'd never have the courage to tell him about, and maybe some day, she'd leave him to deal with his misery by himself. But most likely, she would stay with him out of guilt and pity.
She didn't know which one was crueler.
"It's just hard. It's so hard when I touch you and you act so unaffected and all you have to do is brush against me accidentally and I'm fucki- " Eli stopped himself. "I'm already turned on." Eli was starting to shake. It was clear that he had forgotten to take his pills.
Oh, Eli. He was such a mess. Once again, pity, not love, filled her heart, and Clare loathed herself for it. Eli would hate it if he knew she pitied him. Maybe she should tell him she did. Then maybe he would stop loving her and hate her instead. It would make it easier for him to move on.
But Eli would probably never stop loving her, no matter what. That's what he told her. And the knowledge of this only made her even more unhappy.
"Eli, I don't know what to say."
Eli shook his head and remained silent.
Clare opened her mouth, but then closed it. "Eli, I still...want you."
He didn't look convinced.
And with a resignation that made her ill, Clare realized she would have to do something more to prove it.
She stood up and before he had time to react, Clare threw her arms around his neck and kissed him with fabricated passion. But it was enough. Almost instantly, Eli was kissing her back with fervor, his hands everywhere, on her lower back, in her hair, cupping her jaw, caressing her arms, squeezing the backs of her upper thighs right beneath her ass. They didn't seem to know where to settle.
Just as Eli parted her lips with his tongue, Clare reached her hand underneath the top of his black jeans and under the band of his boxers. She cupped him in her palm and he was instantly hard against her hand. He groaned into her mouth.
He pulled away as she stroked him, burying his head in her neck.
"God, Clare it's been so long since you've touched me like this." He sounded like he was about to sob from relief, like he was so happy to finally be consoled that she still wanted him, still needed him the way he did her.
Without responding, Clare yanked down the zipper of his pants and unbuttoned them quickly. Their motions were becoming frantic and Eli's hands went immediately to the hem of her dress as Clare's went to his shirt. She slipped her hands under it and teased the skin of his stomach with her fingers lightly the way he liked, raising goosebumps and making him shudder. Clare put her hands into the back pockets of his skinny jeans and she groped him, pulling him roughly against her so that she could feel his length poking against her as she backed herself into his desk.
Eli hiked the skirt of her dress around her waist and Clare held it in her hands obediently as Eli tugged her panties away to her ankles. Clare stepped out of them and Eli sat her on his desk, her bare bottom against the wood, and Clare pushed him back from her so that she could pull his pants and boxers down to his knees.
Clare leaned into him and whispered in his ear. "Eli, I want you so much. I've missed this." Lies.
"Clare, me too." Eli groaned and held her close for a moment as he pulled away to look at her.
Suddenly, she could see it in his face. He didn't really believe her. He was smarter than that. Eli was perceptive. He knew she was lying, but he needed her and he felt so alone and he would take whatever he could get, even if it meant pretending. He knew the relationship was hanging on by the last thread, ready to snap at any second. She could see that underneath the desperation, Eli was determined. He would plan on asking her about her behavior again later, demand to know why they were falling apart so that he could at least accept their inevitable end with dignity. But for now, he was just content to have her in his arms again.
When Clare looked into the eyes of the person she was with and wondered what it was she once saw in him, she knew that whatever they once had was over.
Looking at him, Clare realized that there was no chance of her ever returning his feelings again. It hurt to come to that conclusion. Part of the reason she had stuck around was because she thought there might still be a chance she could regain the feelings she once had. But they were gone forever.
Clare didn't hate Eli. She still cared about him. But she wasn't in love with him. Not anymore. Those feelings had worn away to be replaced with an almost passiveness.
"Condom?" Clare asked briskly.
Eli opened one of the drawers on his desk and pulled out a little package, tearing it open and putting it on.
Impatient to be inside her, Eli pulled her against him again.
Impatient to get it over with, Clare wrapped her legs around his waist.
Eli slipped a hand between them and felt between her legs. To his obvious disappointment, Clare wasn't very wet. His expression was slightly injured and Clare felt a pang of guilt for not being able to be turned on by his touch like she used to be.
With a shaky sigh, Eli put two fingers inside her and moved them in and out slowly until she was damp enough.
Eli put his hands on her ass and ground her lower half into his, asking her "Is this okay?" before she nodded and he pushed into her with an excitement that Clare used to find endearing.
He pounded into her relentlessly, which was surprising, considering that he was usually gentle. But his desperation became clear when he practically crawled up on the desk with her, her textbook and papers dropping to the floor as she made room for him. He soon had her pushed against the wall above the desk, her legs still around his waist, his knees on the desk as he continued to fuck her hopelessly, one of his arms under her bottom, guiding her hips to his for every thrust, and one against the wall for leverage.
"Clare, touch me." Eli moaned. Clare touched him. She touched his face and his neck and his shoulders underneath his shirt. She touched his back and allowed her fingers to dance along his collar bones and shoulder blades and she kissed his neck the way she wished she could want to.
It was violent and hard and fast and amazing. Clare would give him that. Eli was good. He had always been good. None of her moans or pants of his name were fake as her neck arched back, her head against the wall.
They were just about the only thing on her side of the relationship that weren't fake anymore.
But even so, she couldn't help wishing that the body holding hers was taller, that the tone of the voice grunting her name savagely was slightly higher-pitched, that the shirt under her nose smelled of pot smoke rather than laundry detergent and mental hospital (which was all Eli's clothes would ever smell like to her after that was where he spent his summer, no matter how many times they were washed), that the soft hair gripped tightly in her fists was a much lighter brown and far shorter, that the shoulders in front of her weren't bony and skinny, but stronger and broader.
Clare screamed when she came the first time. She didn't have the energy to the second time. Her body felt weak and limp as she gasped. Eli finished directly after, panting and trembling.
If someone were to walk in on them, they would have looked ridiculous. Clare had slumped sideways on the desk, her legs spread out. Eli was sitting in between them, on his knees, his pants and boxers still wrapped around them.
Eli helped her off the desk with him and tugged her dress over her head. Her bra was soon on the floor and Eli pulled his shirt and blazer off. His jeans and boxers soon came down the rest of the way.
They tumbled, exhausted, on his bed together.
Clare had thought Eli wouldn't have the energy to continue, that she was done pretending to want him for the evening, until Eli spread her legs apart sloppily, his hands gripping her ankles as he leaned between them, his lips suckling her sensitive clit.
Clare humped against his face with abandon, her voice hoarse and sore from screaming.
The sex was the only thing still worth being around for.
God, she hated herself.
"Stay, Clare. Stay with me tonight. Please stay." Eli moaned against the inside of her upper thigh. "Stay. Stay." Over and over again.
"Okay, okay…" Clare whimpered, pushing Eli's head back down between her legs.
Clare called her mom that night and told her she was sleeping over at Alli's. She would stay. She didn't need Eli suspecting that she didn't want him anymore.
She waited until he was asleep before she gently untangled herself from his arms. She tip-toed downstairs and quietly shut the front door.
She would think of something to tell Eli tomorrow, that she had to go home because there was an emergency of some kind.
Right now she had a study date with someone else.
A/N: Just to clarify, the "other man" is Fitz.