AN: I'm back! This little bit was inspired by my mum and her philosophies on crying. Go Mum!
Disclaimer: No, I don't own Degrassi, and I strongly suspect I never will. I do own a very beautiful camera and a pair of ratty old black converse I treasure more than my heart and soul, however. :)
It seemed, that after so many months of being happy, Eli had forgotten just what it felt to cry. He'd forgotten the stinging feeling that grappled at his throat, he'd forgotten the strength of the pressure behind his eyes that threatened to burst him wide open, he'd forgotten the tingling, itching feeling as the tears rolled down his tense face nagging him to wipe them away. He'd forgotten the feeling of the muscles tightening in his back. He'd forgotten the feeling of his body being wracked over and over again, shook with the terrible sobs he choked out. He'd forgotten the feeling of the world crashing down around his shoulders. It had been so long since he had a reason to cry, that he'd forgotten just how good it felt.
Sometimes, all he needed was to have a good cry. "Have a good cry, you'll feel better when it's over," his mother had always told him when he was crying as a child. "Have a good cry..." And she was right. Sometimes, the heavy feeling of his limbs and the wetness of his tears and the stinging of his throat was all it took to numb the world around him, dull the senses, withdraw him from his problems just long enough for him to regain his strength. Living in a world of pain and confusion was tiring, and those hours spent crying, crying his terrible, heart wrenching sobs, provided him with just enough escape to think things through.
He hadn't cried like this since he was... God, not since Julia died. He hadn't had a reason to. Not even when Clare found out about his... problem. Not even when situations surrounding said problem were looking quite dour indeed. Sure, he'd cried then, a few tears here and there, but nothing like this. Nothing at all like this. Curled up beneath his covers like he did when he was little, Eli thought back over the day's events. It had all started out normally, just a simple school day. Awoken by the beeping alarm clock he named The Devil at the ungodly hour of five AM, got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth, hopped in Morty, drove to school, picked Clare up on the way there... rewind, rewind, pause.
Clare... that was the reason why he was like this, curled up under his blankets and crying, crying, crying for hours on end. That woman would be the death of him, he swore. One minute, she's perfectly fine, skipping down the hallways with a silly grin plastered to her face and the next she's smacking you upside the head and telling you how much she hates the world. Hormones only go so far. This was something more. Something much more.
The last time the two had a real heart to heart was only a few days before, this one another about divorce. Eli, Cece, and Bullfrog had become family to Clare, the only real family she had left. Eli's parents had practically taken her in, let her live at the house, set her up a place to sleep on the couch for those long nights she just couldn't bear to be in the same house as the mother or father ruining her life. They fed her, sheltered her, laughed with her, smiled with her, was a better family to her than hers had ever been and yet, Clare was still unhappy. What were they doing wrong? Eli had no idea.
He wanted nothing more than to make Clare happy. She was all he cared about. He had nothing left in the world besides her and his parents, he lived, breathed for family. Though his dark personality and clothing style to match didn't exactly give off the lovey-dovey home-sweet-home vibe, he was a family man. Always had been, always will be. He knew what to give her, he told her he loved her more times than he could count in one day alone, answered every call, showed up on her doorstep mere minutes after receiving a distressed text message or voicemail, and she still wasn't happy.
That was what upset him more than anything. More than her angry words or her scowling expressions. More than her empty threats or snide comments. The fact that after everything, everything he was giving her, she still wasn't happy, it made him want to throw himself off a freaking bridge in frustration. What could he possibly do to make her happy? Why wasn't she seeing just how hard he was trying, trying just for her?
Eli turned beneath his covers, laying himself on the other end of his pillow, thankful that it too wasn't wet with tears. It had been an hour or so ago, but it had dried since then. He curled up deeper in his bed and let himself drown in his tears. The feeling of the covers surrounding him, engulfing him in soft warmth was comforting. It made him feel young again. Made him feel like the old Elijah Goldsworthy, the normal little kid upset about normal little kid things. He tried his best to forget that he was the new Elijah Goldsworthy, seventeen and obviously not man enough to be considered so because here he was, curled up in his bed, crying over a girl. Not just crying, all out sobbing over a girl. And a goody-goody Christian one at that. Who'd have ever thought?
He felt like a failure. It had been his life's mission since he met Clare, since she'd given up so much to help him when he needed it the most, to do everything in his power to make her happy. As of right then, he'd used up all his power, absolutely plum tuckered himself out, and she was still unhappy. STILL. What the hell did he have to do to make her happy? He'd done everything, and for a while, he was victorious in making her happy. He'd see her smile every time he looked at her, watch as that gorgeous pink blush spread across her cheeks, laugh as she stammered to find a quick response to each of his witty comebacks and epically failing. But lately, he wasn't seeing much of that anymore. She was just different. Like somebody had deflated her, tinted her world with grey. Eli didn't like that. He didn't like it one bit.
A soft knock on his door snapped him out of his state of self pity just long enough for him to yell, "What?" angrily to the person trying to get in. He no longed kept a padlock on his door, but required that everybody, regardless of whether they were mother or father or friend or girlfriend, had to be granted entrance into his room. Nobody could just walk on in. Not even in his greatest times of distress.
He fully expected to hear the always happy voice of his mother speak from the other side of his door, but instead he was greeted by a softer, more worried voice, tarnished around the edges with a familiar sadness. Clare. "Eli, let me in," she demanded, though her voice wasn't nearly as harsh as she had obviously intended it to be. She sounded sort of... scared. Why was she scared? Did she think Eli was mad at her?
He quickly wiped his eyes, jumped out of bed, brushed through his bangs with his fingers, and opened the door to find Clare staring up at him, her look of worry soon replaced by a look of fascination as she studied his face. "Have you been... crying?" she asked, her voice incredulous. No way the great Elijah Goldsworthy, famed badass of Degrassi Community High, was crying!
Eli opened his mouth to answer but was cut off by Clare. "I'm sorry if I've been a little... grumpy... lately. It's just..."
"Just what?" Eli closed the door behind Clare and watched as she sat herself down on his bed, dropping her heavy purse on the ground by her feet.
"I miss my family," she said after a few seconds of thinking.
"You have a family. You have a family of friends," Eli said, sitting himself down next to her so she couldn't see his face. Clare didn't have to know that he'd been crying. Or rather, she didn't have to know more about the fact that he'd been crying.
"I know, and I'm thankful for that, but it's not the same. My mother works nights, so I don't see her at all because she sleeps all day, my dad has just decided he wants to go on a three year sabbatical to Italy and stay in a monastery, I haven't seen my sister in goodness knows how long, I just... I don't know. I'm lost, Eli. I'm lost..." she trailed off, sounding like she was on the verge of tears too. Eli didn't dare speak out of fear of loosing it again. The last thing Clare needed was to see Eli a complete wreck.
"I just don't know anything anymore," she said after a few moments of silence. Eli felt tears begin to trickle down his face. He hated seeing her like this with her red eyes and her shuddering breaths and her shaky, tear tarnished voice. "Everything I grew up with, everything I based my life around, my mom, my dad, my sister, my home, gone. All gone. It's a lot to deal with, Eli."
He turned his head to look at her properly. She had silent tears trickling down her face now as she sat staring straight ahead of her, sitting on her hands. Her bright blue eyes were swimming in little pools of water, trying to break free but ultimately failing, doing nothing but send more water spilling down her cheeks. He felt like reaching out and taking her hand, putting an arm around her, hugging her and telling her that he was there, that he was her family, that he wasn't going to go anywhere, but he felt like he couldn't move. He felt frozen as he watched her tears trickle down her face and onto the bed below.
"Don't think I don't notice how hard you've been trying for me, Eli," Clare whispered, her voice cracked and shaking. The sound of her voice, normally so strong and confident, sounding so weak and feeble cut through Eli like a hot iron staff through his chest. He felt helpless, completely and utterly useless as he watched her cry in front of him. "I notice every time you tell me you love me. I notice how whenever I'm sad I don't have to say anything. You just take me in your arms and hold me tight. I love that, don't ever doubt that." Her voice cracked on the last word, even as she whispered. "I know deep down inside that I'm not alone, that I have the greatest family of friends in the world, and yet, I feel so empty. Why do I feel so empty, Eli?"
Clare finally turned her head towards Eli, surprised by what she saw. Eli was crying, really and truly crying. She watched as he drew his hands from his pockets and reached out, wiping the falling tears from her face, ignoring his own as if they weren't there. He still didn't speak, afraid that he would break if he did, but he didn't need to. Clare knew what he meant to say. She tried to draw in a deep breath but it caught in her throat, and as if that one little breath had pushed her off the edge of a mountain, she began to sob, throwing herself into Eli's waiting arms.
It was then that Eli realised that he wasn't a failure simply because Clare wasn't happy. He couldn't make everything around her better again. He was succeeding simply because she knew that he was trying. He wrapped his arms around her and felt as her small body shook against his, surprised that his own tears weren't flowing as steadily as before. He stroked her hair gently, listened to her sobs, felt her tears seep through his own tear stained tee shirt, and for a few brief moments, he forgot about his own tears. He forgot that he was crying, he forgot that he was even sad at all. All he could think about was Clare, Clare and her tears, Clare and her own violent sobs.
He held her close to his chest, rubbing small circles in her back, shushing her quietly as she cried and cried and cried. His own tears gone, dried now, his eyes returning to normal, his breath no longer shuddering in and out, he took Clare and all she meant to him and held her tight. Held on to her tight and told her, as she cried, that sometimes the only way to make it all better again was to let it all out. "Have a good cry," he whispered to her as she sobbed into him, "you'll feel better when it's over."
And you know what? She did.
AN: Reviews make me happy. Just in case you'd like to make a tiny foreign girl with nothing but a laptop and a few couch ridden American dimes to her name smile like a madwoman when she logs into fanfiction next. Just in case...