Disclaimer: I do not own Degrassi.
A/N: This one-shot was inspired by Taylor Swift's song Last Kiss. It's not the song literally, but it's as if Eli had died at Vegas Night. After writing it, I realized that two out of my three stories had someone die, so I'll try to put a more happy one up next if inspiration strikes. I'm sure you guys are smart enough to figure it out, but the words in italics are flashbacks, and the print is in the present. Also, I know some of the scenes I have in the flashbacks happened post-Vegas Night, but just for the sake of my story, they happened before it. Happy reading. . .or not judging by the circumstance of the story.
Clare snuggled closer into Eli's chest as they lay in the hammock. She breathed in his scent and let her right arm fall across the middle of his chest, absent-mindedly drawing small circles on his grey dress shirt. She smiled softly and enjoyed having this peaceful moment with Eli, away from the party and away from any drama concerning Fitz, at least for the time being.
The stars shone brightly that night, enhancing the serenity that the couple found within each other. That's how it was with Eli and Clare. They didn't need to speak. They just needed each other.
Eli wrapped his arm around Clare's shoulder tightly and kissed her hair before muttering, "What are you thinking?"
"The stars are out."
She could feel Eli smile against her head. Only on rare occasions did Eli truly smile, and it pleased Clare to know that she's only ever seen him smile for her. He leaned his head closer to her ear and whispered, "What's your wish?"
Clare smiled, "If I say it out loud, it won't come true."
They both laughed softly as Clare pulled Eli's arm to wrap tighter around her. She closed her eyes feeling safe in his arms. Eli readily complied and stroked the exposed skin on her arm. "How cheesy would it be if I said that my wish already came true?"
Clare opened her eyes and smiled. God, she loved this boy. She sat up slowly and grinned down at Eli who met her with his infamous smirk. They both leaned their heads in closer . . .
"Clare," Alli shook Clare's arm gently. "Clare, you have to get up. It's almost time."
Clare slowly opened her eyes. They were red and puffy from sobbing every day for a week. She didn't have the strength to get up, not with Eli's face still etched in her brain. It had been a week. A week since the horrible Vegas Night Dance. A week since Fitz brought the knife to the dance with one purpose in mind. And he succeeded.
Clare still remembered that night as if she were reliving it every day. She begged Eli to run with her, but the stubborn fool was too proud. Even when he saw for himself that Fitz was carrying the blade, Eli pushed Clare to the side to keep her safe. But that did nothing to help save himself. In that instant, Fitz had pinned Eli to the wall and with one swift motion, Eli was gone.
Clare closed her eyes again feeling the tears coming. She clutched her pillow in a tight grasp and prayed to God that it would magically turn into Eli when she opened her eyes. It failed to happen yet. She felt Alli stroke her hair and sit on the bed beside her. It was times like these where she appreciated Alli fulfilling the best friend role. Instead of telling her to move on, Alli just sat with her and stroked her back trying to ease the pain and discomfort Clare felt.
Before long, Helen stuck her head in and gave a sorrowful glance at her daughter who was still clutching the pillow for dear life. Attending a funeral and mourning the loss of your boyfriend was something no child should have to go through, and it pained Helen to see her daughter so vulnerable. She knew Clare was in a precarious state since she rarely ate, never left her room, and chose to only wear clothes that had once been Eli's. Unfortunately, Clare had only a pair of his sweats and two of his band shirts, so for a week, Clare had been wearing the same thing. Helen gave another sympathetic look to her daughter then glanced at Alli. "We need to leave in an hour."
"I'll get her ready."
Alli was already dressed in a fitted black dress that was appropriate only in her eyes. She gave her best friend a sad glance and shook her gently. "Honey, you've got to get up, okay?"
Clare didn't budge, but she felt Alli shift off her bed and move around her room. She just clutched her pillow tighter as she felt another wave of sobs overcome her. It was as if clutching that pillow would momentarily make her feel complete. Like Eli had. Eli gave her the push she needed to take risks, and when she stared into those eyes, oh those gorgeous eyes, she could feel time slow down and everyone else in the world would disappear.
Eli and Clare sat on a bench after Eli had convinced her to skip English. Clare had never done a thing like that before, but there was something about going somewhere with Eli that was all too hard to resist. Sure, he was the complete opposite of her, but opposites attract right? Unless they were her parents. . .Clare shook her head to clear her thoughts and sipped her coffee when she heard Eli speak.
"Wow, this is a first," he stared straight out into the street. "Skipping school to do work."
Clare shrugged off his comment still annoyed about Ms. Dawes' marking scheme. "Okay, I don't understand how you got an A and I got a C."
"Simple," Eli looked at her intently. "I'm dating Ms. Dawes."
Clare rolled her eyes, clearly not amused by his comment. All Eli did was laugh and continue to critique her. "You're a good writer, but anyone could have penned this piece. There's no point of view."
"I wrote about gun control! I say it's good."
"Wow," Eli elongated the word in mock amazement. "Controversial."
Clare huffed and placed Eli's paper down on the bench beside her. "Okay, fine." She crossed her arms and gave the boy a stern look. "What am I supposed to write about?"
"Something that pisses you off."
"Besides my English partner?" Clare sassed.
"Ouch," Eli exaggerated with a chuckle. Clare kept her glare though it was hard when she found Eli's quick wit and sassy remarks so endearing. "If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?"
Clare looked away briefly, not quite expecting such a question to escape Eli's lips. Her mind immediately reeled to the previous night when she attempted to drown out her parents' yelling by writing that impersonal gun control piece. Her voice softened, but she still couldn't keep eye contact with Eli. "My mom and dad. They're not exactly getting along."
She glanced at Eli under the auburn curls that covered her face and gauged his reaction. She hadn't meant to reveal such a personal issue to him, but it was just so easy to. He was a great listener.
"So write about that," he responded as if it was obvious.
"I can't. It's personal."
Eli smirked. "You care too much about what people think."
"That is not true." Clare's defensive glare was back on her face. How dare he say that? She sang in front of the whole school. As embarrassing as that was, she did not care what other people thought.
"Then prove it," Eli challenged, facing her. "Scream. At the top of your lungs."
Clare glanced around the streets nervously and then at Eli who threw her a triumphant smirk. She uncrossed her arms and leaned forward slightly letting out a weak, "Ahhh . . ."
Eli laughed once, the smirk plastered on his smug face. "That's the best you can do?"
Clare looked at him incredulously and was determined to wipe that smug look off his face. She stood up suddenly, turned to give Eli a watch-me look, then yelled out so loud she had startled the man arranging flowers behind her, spooked some passer byers and terrified the neighbourhood dogs.
She faced Eli with a smug look of her own and said, "Okay. Your turn."
"Yeah, not my style," Eli said as he stood from the bench.
"Wha- no you have to do it!" Clare laughed as she advanced towards Eli.
He laughed backing up against a pole. "It's not my style."
Their words mixed together before forming into laughter as Clare had backed Eli against the pole, her wrists captured in his soft, playful grip.
And then she saw it. She looked deep into his eyes, noting the genuine smile on his face. She stopped mid-sentence and breathed in sharply, feeling like her soul was getting pierced by his gaze. In the few seconds of the intense glare, it was as if they were the only two people in the world. It was crazy. She had recently just met Eli, but already she had shared with him her biggest issue, embarrassed herself, and felt something that she thought she had once felt with KC. She loved the feeling.
She should have kissed him when they skipped English, Clare thought. It would have been one more kiss she would have shared with Eli. It would have started their relationship sooner. They could have been together longer. Clare walked silently into the funeral home with Alli holding her up and her thoughts speeding a mile a minute. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of the place. It smelled like a poor attempt to rid the odour of death. Clare closed her eyes, letting Alli lead her through the halls and clutched her black cardigan tighter around her.
Entering the viewing, Clare kept her eyes to the ground not sure if she was able to handle seeing Eli's open casket. All she wanted to do was run home and crawl into a ball and pray to God this was all just a scary dream. Her eyes darted up when she heard the hysterical sobbing of her boyfriend's mother.
Cece was huddled over Eli's lifeless body with Bullfrog's arms wrapped around her in silent tears. It broke Clare's heart to see them in so much pain. She felt selfish feeling so sorry for herself since she had lost her boyfriend whom she had truly loved, but she never thought what it would feel like to lose a son. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and gave Alli's arm a gentle squeeze, signalling that she would be fine alone. Alli nodded and gave her best friend a hug.
Clare inhaled deeply, trying not to cry, but her breaths and movements were still shaky. She slowly approached the older Goldsworthys and with a shaky palm touched Cece's shoulder in condolence. Before she knew it, Clare was engulfed in a tight hug from Cece who was stroking Clare's hair and saying incomprehensible words. The second Clare was in Cece's grasp, she felt herself break down all over again and her tears poured onto the older woman's black denim dress.
Cece gasped for breath from crying too hard as she attempted to form sentences. "H-h-he, h-he wouldn't, wouldn't want you t-to c-c-, don't cry baby girl."
Clare felt Bullfrog's surprisingly comforting grasp on her shoulders trying to not let the tears fall. She hugged Cece back, her arms wrapped around her waist and her head buried just under her neck. In such little time, the Goldsworthys had become secondary parents to her. When her mother became distant and bitter, Clare learned that she would be able to turn to Cece for any advice or a maternal presence.
She recalled the time Eli had brought her home and allowed a smile to seep through her tear stained face. It was the first time they had told each other that they loved each other.
"I warn you," Eli said helping Clare out of Morty once they arrived at his place. "They're a little . . .different."
Clare giggled as she leaned into Eli when he wrapped his arm around her. "Well if they're anything like you then I'm sure I'll love them."
"Dropping the L-bomb, girlfriend?"
"Don't flatter yourself, Elijah." Clare smirked playfully.
Clare stopped in her tracks when she felt Eli stop abruptly and forcing her to look at him. They were inches apart, and even though they had participated in a heated make out session once or twice, Clare's breath still hitched at his proximity. She felt his bottom lip graze her top lip and felt light headed by his very presence. She closed her eyes when she felt his hot breath on the nape of her neck as he whispered, "Tell me you love me."
She didn't answer right away from the lack of oxygen circulating her brain. He whispered again, "Because I-"
"Clarabelle!" Bullfrog had opened the door with the trash bag in his hand. Clare shrieked lightly trying to jump away from Eli, but he still kept her close. Bullfrog chuckled at the blushes on the young couple's faces. "Whoops."
Later that night, after many embarrassing baby Eli pictures and stories, which Clare found highly entertaining, it was time for her to leave. "Good night Mrs- Cece, good night Bullfrog. Thank you for the lovely dinner."
Cece laughed. "Anytime, dear. You're family now."
"Next time we'll break out the home movies. I think we got one where this little guy was potty training!" Bullfrog joined in wrapping an arm around his wife.
Clare laughed when she saw Eli blush furiously. "It's time for Clare to go now."
She laughed all the way to Morty. "Don't be embarrassed. I think you were a cute baby."
Eli smirked. "What other baby would I have been?"
"Clearly a cocky one." She stopped him when he opened the door for her. "But I still love you."
Eli flashed a genuine smile. He released the door and wrapped his arms around Clare's waist pulling her in. "You looove me."
Clare giggled at his immature tone, but was silenced almost immediately by a swift kiss. He kept his mouth pressed against hers and whispered into her mouth. "I love you too."
Clare wiped her eyes with a handkerchief as Adam was wrapping up his final words. The poor guy barely got through it, stopping numerous times to collect himself. Though it was clearly sorrowful, Clare didn't hear any of it. She didn't hear anybody's speech because her entire being was consumed by Eli. She sat adjacent to his casket and stared at his body. He looked so peaceful, as if he was just sleeping. She may have been going crazy, but she could have sworn that his lips were twisted in a small smirk. His hair was pulled away from his face, his nails still sharpie coloured, and he looked perfect. His face wasn't contorted in fear and pain as it had been when Clare had seen him last. He was beautiful.
Without realizing it, Clare stood and made her way to the casket. She could feel everyone's eyes on her thinking that it was her turn to speak, but she just went to Eli and touched his cheek with her knuckles. It was surprisingly warm, and she began to stroke his cheek with her thumb. If she could crawl in beside him, she would have, but she stood motionless. She didn't realize she was holding her breath until she let out a hard gasp and collapsed on top of Eli's body, clutching his blazer and begging for him to return. The mourners watched with a heavy heart as Clare pleaded for Eli to wake up. Clare felt strong, but firm hands tug her away and she fell against Sav's chest, pounding on it with her fists telling him to let her go, to let her be with him.
Bullfrog took her from Sav and led her to the front with the podium. "It's time to let him know how you felt Clarabelle."
To her comfort, Bullfrog stayed standing with Clare at the front. He squeezed her shoulder to let her know that she could take her time, and after several silent minutes, Clare opened her mouth to speak.
Clare furrowed her brow as she stared at her phone. It had been ten minutes since Eli's last text. Not that she was desperate or anything, but she enjoyed that he always wished her a good night.
She sighed putting her phone in its charger on the night stand and turned off her lamp. She lowered the volume of her CD player to soft background music and dressed for bed. She may not have gotten the good night text, but she most certainly got the good night kiss. Her date with Eli had been perfect. A book reading of one of her favourite authors plus staying out past curfew with probably the best guy in the world made up for the fact that she was grounded for a week.
She laid her head on her pillow and winced automatically. She switched sides so as to avoid irritating her freshly pierced cartilage. Her ears were filled with the soft noise of the music and her thoughts drifted to Eli when she felt a small pebble hit her on the head.
"Ow!" She hissed under her breath as she rubbed the top of her head. What in the world was that? She stood up to check her open window and sidestepped another airborne pebble. She stuck her head out the window and tried very hard to contain her smile when she saw Eli. He did throw a rock at her after all. "You threw a rock at me."
Eli smirked, clearly amused by his own aim. "I came to say good night. I also planned on stealing another kiss."
Clare giggled and leaned her head on her elbows of the window sill. "Well you're going to have to find a way to steal it, won't you Goldsworthy?"
Eli smiled and began scaling the tree that grew beside Clare's bedroom window. He held on precariously to a branch as he inched his way closer to Clare's room, finally making his way in. "Hi."
She smiled and ran her palms up his chest and linked them around his neck. He reciprocated the action by lacing his fingers behind her waist. "Hey."
They both unintentionally began swaying to the soft beat of the pop music, their gazes locked on one another. "How badly grounded are you?"
"If you make these visits more frequent, it doesn't matter how long I'm locked up." Clare sighed contently, letting her head fall against Eli's chest. Their breathing became in sync, and his scent filled her nostrils with a sweet and raw aroma. He smelled of soap and nature, whereas KC smelled of axe. She closed her eyes trying to inhale as much of him as she could, memorizing his movements and every contour of his body. Little did she know that he was doing the exact same thing. Her curves were becoming permanently etched in his brain, her cinnamon and lavender scent was the smell of completion and home.
Clare was never much of a dancer, but with Eli, it seemed natural. It seemed like the easiest and most obvious thing in the world. And it was. Neither knew how long they had been swaying for, neither knew exactly what time the night had ended, how Eli climbed back down the tree, or how sweet and passionate their kiss was. All they knew was that they felt right for each other. They felt perfect together.
Clare watched as they lowered Eli's coffin into the ground. Her mind was such a blur that she wasn't even sure how she had gotten there. She could feel Alli squeezing her hand. She could feel Adam's hand on her shoulder attempting to console though breaking down himself. She could see Cece and Bullfrog cast the first pile of dirt onto the casket. But one thing was for sure. She could hear Eli. His voice was all around her. It was so clear she was sure he was standing behind her, whispering in her ear.
"What's your wish?" Eli whispered in her ear.
"If I say it out loud, it won't come true."
"How cheesy would it be if I said my wish already came true?"
Clare stepped forward to grab a handful of dirt and tossed it over the casket. His voice whispered in her ear again. Don't cry, Clare.
"Let's talk about something more important like how you're gonna thank me for throwing Simpson off your scent."
Clare smirked and crossed her arms in playful defiance. "Well what'd you have in mind?"
"Well, I don't know . . ." Clare gasped as she felt Eli's lips press against hers. Her brief moment of shock was instantly forgotten, and she placed an arm around the back of Eli's neck while her other hand rested on his shoulder. She felt his tongue probe her bottom lip, asking for permission, and as if naturally, she let his tongue into her mouth. He probed her tongue gently before pulling back, kissing her gently once and grinned at her. Clare was completely breathless.
Clare laid a flower on Eli's tombstone after the burial. She felt so cold, empty and alone. Most of the people were beginning to disperse, and eventually she stood alone at his grave. She kissed her fingers and placed them on the top of the tombstone that read "Elijah Goldsworthy – Loving son and friend – You will be missed".
Clare kneeled in front of the grave and bowed her head. "My wish came true too, Eli. I found you." She traced the letters of Eli's name engraved in the stone. "I should have wished harder."