DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else. I also don't own the Mr. T Experience, but You're the Only One is a great song. Anyone Else But You is also a great song by the Moldy Peaches.
Twitter: themusiksnob / Tumblr: musiksnob
This chapter is all Eli's POV and it is the final chapter.
Seeing Clare on my doorstep felt like one of those magical movie moments where the lovers meet up at the airport or in the rain and profess their love to each other. But she didn't throw her arms around me and I didn't kiss her and steal her breath. We stared at each other for just long enough that I realized I had misread the situation.
Whatever she was here for had nothing to do with me.
"What do you want?" I asked, my voice full of bitterness. I had been waiting for this moment for more than a month, ever since she broke up with me. But it started with her apologizing and telling me she loved me. Not with her staring at me, her eyes full of pain that didn't seem to have anything to do with me.
Her face crumpled and she started to cry.
I wanted to stand my ground, to protect myself. My heart was already broken beyond repair. One more crack and it would kill me.
But watching Clare fall apart just five feet away from me made me have to admit that my pride wasn't the only thing at stake. Maybe she needed me.
I took a few steps toward her tentatively and she looked up at me with so much hope in her eyes that I couldn't hold back any longer. I pulled her to me, putting my arms around her and resting my cheek against her head.
She cried against me for a few minutes, sucking in deep breaths between sobs. My thumbs skimmed her cheeks, wiping away her tears and slipping through her light brown curls.
"Do you want to come inside and talk?" I asked softly.
She nodded with a grateful look on her face. I slipped my arm around her lower back and led her up the stairs. Cece and Bullfrog were watching tv in the living room when we came in and Cece asked, "Hey Eli , how was your…?" She stopped when she saw Clare and her jaw dropped.
I didn't want to make this a big deal and I knew my mother was about to unleash about a million questions that I didn't have answers to. I shot Cece and look and said, "We'll be upstairs."
Clare sat down on the edge of my bed, looking really uncomfortable. "Your parents must hate me."
"They don't hate you. They're just worried about me."
Clare looked unconvinced. Her bottom lip quivered. "Eli…I'm so sorry," she said softly.
All of the pain of her breaking up with me came rushing back and for the second time tonight the bile rose in my throat. "I need a minute," I choked out and ran to the bathroom.
I managed to keep myself from throwing up but I waited a minute, leaning my hands on the vanity and taking deep breaths trying to calm myself down. I brushed my teeth to get the sour taste out of my mouth.
I felt like I couldn't face Clare, but I was afraid that if I waited too long she'd leave and then I really would lose her forever. I walked back to my room and saw her lying down on my bed, curled up on her side. The only thing I wanted to do was lie down next to her and hold her in my arms. But I settled for sitting at the foot of the bed.
"What are you doing here?" I asked again, more kindly this time.
Clare sat up and looked at me. "I missed you."
God, I missed her too. But I couldn't tell her that. I couldn't give her that piece of me.
"Your date ended early," I commented a little accusingly.
"I could say the same to you," she said tartly. She looked a little embarrassed; I guess she didn't realize I had overheard her talking to Jake earlier.
I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know how to talk to this girl who I had loved for the past few months, the girl who had taught me how to live again…the girl who took everything from me.
"I only asked Jake on a date because Alli talked me into it. She told me you were going out with Imogen and it broke my heart." Even after everything, I felt a pang that I had hurt Clare. She hesitated for a second. "Why did you ask out Imogen?"
The pauses in our conversation grew longer and more uncomfortable. "Because I felt so lonely. Because you broke my heart." My throat closed on me for a second. "Because you dumped me because you couldn't handle how crazy I am and I thought maybe she would understand."
Clare cringed. "Did she?"
I shook my head. "No."
I didn't want to elaborate and Clare didn't push. "What happened?" I asked tentatively, not really sure I wanted to know the answer. "What happened on your date that made you so upset? Why did I find you on my doorstep in tears? Why is it that after a month of being apart you all of a sudden miss me?" My voice grew stronger as I cycled through the questions.
She looked down at her hands. "It's not all of a sudden. I've missed you every moment since we broke up," she said defensively and I gave her a hard look. "I didn't want to date Jake. He's an old friend and I thought it would be nice to spend time with him and I didn't want you to move on and leave me behind."
Tears streaked down her face and there was a wobble in her voice for the first time. "He was my best friend as a child, but it turns out…he's not a nice guy."
"Did he hurt you?" I asked, alarmed.
She wouldn't meet my eyes. "He took me to the drive in and he kissed me and he kept trying to do more."
"Clare…" I move closer so I was sitting right in front of her. "Did he…?" I grabbed onto the bedspread to try to control my rage.
"He just kept trying to touch me. I didn't like it and I kept pushing him away."
I squinched my eyes closed trying to get the image out of my head. "Are you okay?"
"I am now."
I could feel my hands tensing into fists instinctively. "The thought of him kissing you, touching you. It kills me. And the fact that you didn't want it and he tried anyway. It makes me want to kill him."
"Please don't," she said softly. "He's not worth it."
"But you are."
She moved closer to me on the bed, our knees touching, her skin against my rough denim. "What happened with Imogen?"
I grimaced. "She's not anything like I thought she was. She's fake and she lies and…" I wanted to say "She's not you," but I was still afraid to put my heart on the line with Clare.
"So you don't want to be with her?"
I shook my head. She looked like she was waiting for me to say more.
"Do you want to be with me?" she asked, with a look of desperation in her eyes that betrayed her quiet tone.
"More than you could ever know." The look in her eye had given me the courage to tell her how I felt, and I was pleased to see her happiness at my response.
Clare threw her arms around me with such force that it actually knocked me back unto the bed and she climbed on top of me.
Clare had gotten very comfortable with me over the months we dated but she rarely took the lead, and she never got aggressive. So when she started kissing me more intensely than ever before, I couldn't help but follow her cues. Her hands came up and cupped my cheeks as her mouth opened mind almost too wide, her tongue pressing against mine insistently. She moved her hips deliberately against mine and started to pull up on the bottom of my shirt, and I realized that as amazing as this was, it was a bad idea.
"Clare, stop," I said, pushing back on her shoulder gently.
She knelt back between my legs. "Did I do something wrong?"
"Clare, this doesn't change anything."
Tears welled up in her eyes once again. "What do you mean?"
"You broke up with me for a reason. Nothing has changed."
"Oh," she said softly.
We stared at each other again, our silences much less comfortable than they had been during our relationship.
"Eli, I broke up with you because you wouldn't give me any space. Because you were clingy and you always needed to be around me. Because you made me feel bad for wanting to go to the dance or hang out with Alli and Adam. But you've given me all the space I've needed for the past month and it's made me realize I want to be with you."
"But the problem is that wasn't my choice," I said bitterly. "I only let you go because I had to."
"But knowing that you could get through that…doesn't that change something? You weren't with me every minute of every day and you were fine. Don't you think that's something we could work on together?"
"I would say fine is a generous overstatement. I've been miserable, Clare."
"So have I." She reached over and grabbed my hand. "But wouldn't it be better to be together some of the time than not at all?"
"That sounds great in theory. But I know I'm not going to be able to give you want you want. Because you're going to walk out that door tonight and tell me, "See you Monday" and I'm going to wish I was seeing you tomorrow and Sunday, and I'm only going to push you away again."
Clare was quiet for a minute. "Is it because of Julia?" I blinked at her in surprise. We had never really talked about why things had changed between us. "I know the dance was the night of her death and I'm sorry I didn't realize it sooner. But is the reason you always want to be around me because when you let her go you lost her?"
I had managed to keep myself from crying throughout this conversation, but I could feel one tear trickle down my cheek as I nodded. Clare wrapped her arms around my shoulders and pulled me close. "Eli," she whispered. "I'm not going anywhere."
My voice was gravelly. "It's hard for me to trust you on that. And not just because I lost her. Because you told me you'd never leave me and then you broke up with me, and now that I don't trust you, it just makes it that much harder to let you out of my sight. You're going to turn around one day and you'll fall in love with Fitz or you'll give Jake another chance or you'll just get hit by a car and I'll lose you forever."
"I love you, Eli. And I want you to trust me again. Do you think we can work on that together?"
"What's the point? I'm just going to push you away again."
"The problem we had was that we both had all these feelings and we kept them hidden from each other. So it seemed like you wanted to be with me 100% of the time, and I didn't want to be with you. But if we keep talking about it, I think we can find a way to make us both happy. If I think you're getting clingy, I will talk to you about it, rather than pushing you away."
I was skeptical that would work. But at the same time, I knew this was my only chance with her. And I'd try anything if it meant that we were together.
"I can't promise you things will be perfect, but I promise you that I'll try."
A slow smile spread over Clare's face. She crawled toward me on the bed and resumed kissing me with fervor. It seemed too soon to be getting physical with her again and I pushed her away gently.
"Clare," I panted, trying to catch my breath. "We can't just jump back into things like nothing happened."
"Why not?" she purred. "Eli, I've missed you so much. I want you to make me forget everything terrible that happened today, and make me regret the time we had to spend apart. I want to feel your hands all over my body." She gave me a predatory look. "I want you."
Her words were so naked that with only a moment's hesitation, I brought my lips back up to hers. I flipped us over so I was lying on top of her, and pressed into her in a way I usually tried to avoid. She grabbed my ass, then slipped her hands up my t-shirt and pulled it over my head. We had done that before, but never this quickly.
I ripped my lips from hers and stared down at her body, her chest heaving with deep breaths calling attention to the buttons on her flowered blouse. I hesitated, recalling her earlier experience with Jake and how he had touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable, but Clare just bit her lip coyly and fingered the top button.
I moved her hands out of the way and made quick work of her shirt, spreading the fabric and burying my face in her cleavage. She arched her back off the bed, giving me an unconscious signal that she wanted me to unhook her bra, and I slid both pieces of fabric down her arms.
Clare's blush spread down to her chest. I knelt over her and started leaving kisses all over her, starting at her belly button and working my way up her body. "Oh Clare," I whispered as my lips caressed her body. "I've missed you so much." I sucked a nipple into my mouth as she let out a beautiful moan. "I've been dreaming about this every night since we broke up."
I continued up her body before stopping to suck on her pulse point, her voluptuous breast pressed against my naked chest. "Let's not think about the past." The softness of her words contrasted with the twisted look of pleasure on her face. "Let's make a memory for our future."
I grinned against her lips as our tongues tangled. She wrapped her legs around mine and used her leverage to flip us over. "You're awfully aggressive tonight," I teased, taking a moment to push her curls behind her ear.
"Do you like it?" Her expression was so innocent, but her body moved against mine in a way that was anything but.
"I love it."
She sat up, kneeling between my legs and touched the button on my jeans. I gazed at her wide eyed. "What are you doing?" She was so close to my cock, and it seemed like she might be trying to take my jeans off, and we'd never done that before and fuck, I wanted her to touch me.
"Taking your pants off."
"Are you sure?" I asked, a little skeptically.
"I wouldn't do it if I wasn't sure."
It took her a minute to unhook the button and lower the zipper and I grabbed onto my boxers while she tugged my jeans off. I just watched, trying to figure out where she was going with this, and if there was any chance she'd let me take some of her remaining clothes off.
She lay back down, but off to the side a little so that she wasn't directly on top of me. She distracted me with her kisses but my body was hyper aware of every millimeter her hand moved down my stomach. It took all of the strength I had to stop her when her fingers met the waistband of my boxers.
"Can I take your skirt off?" I asked, half hoping she'd stop me and half wishing she'd get naked and bounce on my cock.
Her eyes widened but she bit her lip and nodded. With her help, I unhooked and unzipped the side of her skirt, and she wiggled out of it, wearing only plain green cotton underwear.
She looked embarrassed. "I didn't really expect…"
I laughed. "You're beautiful, Clare. No matter what you're wearing." I smirked at her. "Or not wearing."
She blushed at first, but then she laughed with me, and the moment just felt so perfect that I thought I'd take a risk. I rolled her onto her side and pulled her leg over my hip. I slipped my fingers underneath her underwear and into her.
"Oh my God," she breathed.
"Are you sure this is okay?" She seemed to be enjoying it but it was such a big step for us, I want to make sure she wanted the same thing I did.
"Mmmhmm," she moaned. She kissed me deeply as I circled her clit, her body tensing against mine. Her fingers clenched against my chest as she let out a scream that I really hoped my parents couldn't hear, and she shuddered against me, her eyes fluttering shut.
She collapsed against me, wiped out for the moment and I slid my fingers out of her and held her close. "I love you, Clare," I whispered, kissing her temple. "I love that you let me touch you and make you feel good."
Part of me was hoping she'd touch me and make me feel good, but I never expected her to climb back on top of me and rub herself against me so deliberately. With almost no clothing between us, I was so close to being inside her that I couldn't take it, thrusting up against her and hoping she'd let me keep going so I could get off.
"Eli," she whispered, biting my earlobe. "Do you have a condom?"
Fuck. It took all of my willpower to still her hips with my hands. "Clare, we can't…"
"We can," she insisted.
"You want to wait," I choked out.
"I want to wait until I'm with the right person. And it's you, Eli. I love you."
I tried to be firm. "We just got back together an hour ago. You're going to regret this."
"The only thing I regret is not doing this sooner. You're the only guy I want to be with Eli. Why should I wait for marriage when I love you and I want to be with you for the rest of my life?"
I was trying to keep focus on her face but her breasts were dangling over me. "One bad date and you're ready for forever with me?"
"Ever since you kissed me in the school library, I've been ready." She looked at me with her beautiful doe eyes, and I was gone. "Don't you want to be with me?"
I reached for her left hand. "If it weren't for this ring on your finger, you'd be on your back with your ankles next to your ears and I'd be inside you in an instant, making love to you until you begged me to fuck you."
Clare shuddered at my bold words. She climbed off me and lay down next to me, raising her legs into the air. She took her ring off her finger and held it out to me. "Please, Eli," she begged, and I couldn't resist her any longer.
I took the ring from her and slipped it onto my pinky, before I knelt on the bed and pressed a kiss on her ankle. I followed the line of her leg with my mouth until I reached her inner thighs. She was arching and moaning from my feather light touch, and I slipped her underwear off her legs.
I reached into my nightstand and grabbed a condom, glad I had taken a chance and purchased some new ones just in case. I tossed my boxers over my shoulder and unwrapped the package as Clare gazed at me wide-eyed. I smirked a little bit as I realized she had never seen a guy naked before.
I rolled the condom on and placed myself at her entrance, rubbing myself against her clit a little. "I can still stop," I said gently. "We don't have to do this."
"I love you," she said and her eyes told me everything I need to know.
I pushed into her, trying to be gentle, and it felt like heaven. Clare winced a bit at first, but soon she was rocking against me, wrapping her legs around my waist to bring us even closer. I held her and kissed her and grabbed her ass and licked her breast and bit her neck as I tried to hold out as long as I could.
Clare was letting out little murmurs and I moved her legs so that they rested on my shoulders. I increased my pace and pressed into her, and she pulled my lips down to her. Clare was clearly pretty flexible and I realized that this was just the first time, that we had plenty of future times together to try out new things and to show each other just how much we loved each other. The thought of making love to her over and over again sent me over the edge and I gasped as I came inside her.
I didn't want to move but she seemed uncomfortable so I slipped out and disposed of the condom. I lay down next to her and pulled her close. "Are you happy?" I asked, desperate to know the answer.
"Happier than I've ever been in my life."
She gazed at me, her eyes boring deep into my soul. "What's wrong?"
I hated that she could tell that despite the beautiful act we just shared, I still was worried. "I'm still afraid I'm going to fuck this up. And now if I ruin everything, I will haven taken everything from you. And you don't deserve that."
She pushed the hair out of my eyes. "You know that mix CD you gave me. Of the messed up love songs?" I nodded. "Well there's that line that goes 'If my heart's gonna get broken anyway, I'd rather have it get broken by you. You're the only one.'"
"I don't want to break your heart," I said, the pangs of regret from earlier returning more strongly as I realized what having sex with someone like Clare really meant.
"You won't," she said, and her conviction made me start to believe she was right. "I'm in this, Eli. For as long as you'll have me."
I took her ring off my pinky and slipped it back onto her ring finger. "Forever," I pledged, not letting go of her hand.
She kissed me for just a brief moment but it held the promise of something much, much longer. "Forever."