Disclaimer: I do not own Degrassi. My heart and the title of this fic belong to Panic! At The Disco (the title is an excerpt from their song "New Perspective").
Author's note: Credit to marieloveseclare for giving me this idea and brainstorming with me. She has a wicked mind, I tell you. Props to articgrey at LiveJournal and her (non-Degrassi) fic The Heart Rate of A Mouse, because it certainly helped me get in the right mindset for this fic. Also, thank you to ArentYouSophiaLoren_8887 for her suggestions. This is a departure from my usual writing style (I usually write 3rd person POV, both Eli and Clare). I will continue to update Somewhere Across Forever, I just needed to post this fic too.
Rated M for: Language, mature situations, sexual content.
"I feel the salty waves come in, I feel them crash against my skin and I smile as I respire because I know they'll never win. There's a haze above my TV that changes everything I see, and maybe if I continue watching I'll lose the traits that worry me."
New Perspective, Panic! At The Disco
"Rise and shine, my Gothic sleepyhead."
The sun starts burning my eyelids as soon as Adam enters the room, and I want to kill him. The headache starts setting in as I blink, the memories of last night hitting me suddenly, and an exasperated groan escapes my lips. I'm never drinking again, I promise.
"Fuck you," I mumble, wanting to be left alone. "I regret the day I gave you a key to my apartment, you ungrateful little minion."
"Nice to see that I don't have to kick someone out this morning," says Adam cheekily, and I snort.
"Twice, Torres. You kicked a girl out only twice," I remind him, trying to pretend that I'm hurt by his comment. Adam continues laughing as he fusses around the room, muttering something under his breath. I sit on my bed and rub my eyes as I try to stay awake.
"Here," says Adam nonchalantly, throwing a few newspapers at me.
"Adam, my head is killing me. I can't read shit," I groan.
"Aw, now I have to read to you?" mocks Adam. "What's next? Do I have to go ahead and start writing your novels? Because I have been brainstorming, and I possibly-"
"Stop being such a smartass," I smirk. "And start telling me what's going on, my beloved publicist."
Adam smiles at me, and I notice that even after all these years, his boyish expression remains the same. We've been best friends since kindergarten, when he was that other person, and I feel suddenly grateful that he works with me. He is probably the only constant in my life, the only person who I can completely trust without having to worry about the consequences. But I don't tell him this; I assume he knows.
"Well, first of all," says Adam, picking up some of my clothes. "There is another tabloid rumor about your personal life."
"Ah," I grimace. I've never been much of a social butterfly, causing people to speculate about my behavior. That just isn't me, I dislike crowds- No, let me correct that. I dislike the people in the crowd, so snobby and fake, always wanting to discuss literature with me. People who don't know the difference between Taylor Caldwell and Stephenie Meyer, people who think that because they read all the Harry Potter novels they have some sort of literary authority, people who think that we are at the same level.
Yeah, I dislike them all.
"Apparently, you're gay," deadpans Adam, and I stare at him in disbelief.
"Really?" I blurt, finding the new rumor completely amusing.
"Yup. Do you want me to inform Imogen of this new development?" asks Adam, sarcasm ringing in his voice.
"Please, maybe that would keep her away," I joke, thinking of the girl who has been in my life on and off for almost two years. "Where did this rumor come from?"
"I have no idea, but apparently your gay lover is speaking out," says Adam, grabbing one of the newspapers from the bed. "Don't worry, Drew is working on it. Threaten them with a libel lawsuit and they'll apologize in the next issue."
"Drew, the super agent," I sneer, and Adam chuckles along. "Besides me being gay, what else is new?"
"Oh, you got an incredible review in the New York Times," says Adam calmly, and I feel wide-awake.
"What?" I blurt, excitement running through my veins. Adam picks up another newspaper and unfolds it carefully, his eyes scanning the page.
"In a world of unoriginal thoughts, Elliot Gold succeeds at keeping our interest," reads Adam, and my mind is reeling. "He is the next Chuck Palahniuk, and with his dark prose and complex plots and overall mystique, Gold is the best author you'll ever read. Utopia is this year's masterpiece."
"The next Chuck Palahniuk," I muse, not able to believe it. "Fuck. Fuck, oh god."
"Isn't it amazing?" grins Adam. "Dude, you're number two on their best-seller list. Utopia is number two on the New York Times best-seller list. Number two, man."
I get out of bed quickly and hug Adam tightly, and we both laugh as I try to comprehend what he just said. "You should have started with this instead of the gay rumor thing," I say, my face flushed. I've never felt so excited in my entire life, and I think immediately of calling my parents. And maybe Imogen. Maybe.
"Okay, you need to get ready for that lunch meeting," says Adam, glancing at his watch.
"Remind me again why we're doing this meeting?" I protest, recalling the unpleasant conversation I had with Drew and Adam just a couple of weeks ago.
"It's a good idea," says Adam pragmatically. "Dixon Magazine is probably the biggest arts magazine in Canada, and a profile about you would increase books sales, I'm sure."
"Do I really want to be more accessible to the public?" I question. "And do I really want a mouth-breathing journalist following me around for three months, asking questions, looking at my lifestyle? This is just a ridiculous idea."
"We've had this argument before, stop whining, and just go take a shower because you reek of alcohol," insists Adam, pushing me playfully. "Come on, I'll go make some coffee and wait for Drew while you get ready."
"This is why they think I'm gay," I joke, messing Adam's hair with my hand. "It's like we are a married couple."
"Gross," says Adam, mockingly disgusted. "Go and get clean, and hurry up."
"Yes, love," I say sarcastically, and Adam leaves the bedroom.
"You have a stray strand of hair there... yeah, fixed," says Drew as he leans in and messes with my hair, earning a glare from me.
"Drew, I appreciate your attention to detail, but stop it," I snap, and Adam starts chuckling as he looks at the menu. The server finally starts taking our orders and I ask for rum and coke and some cheese fries, which causes Drew to shake his head at me. Who cares, I'm not on a diet and I'm not writing anything at the moment. I'm not a fucking kid, I'm twenty-five years old, goddamn it. Drew needs to get over himself.
"This journalist person is late," I say instead, watching the server walk away.
"Journalists, those leeches," mumbles Drew, fixing his tie. "But this is a necessary step, I believe, for you to achieve mainstream appeal, which means higher sales and more money."
"Ah, I remember when I used to write for fun," I mock.
"Goldsworthy, calm down," warns Adam.
"We're in public, Torres, I don't know who is this Goldsworthy you're talking about," I wink. Drew smiles smugly; he's proud of his little plan to bury my entire past, and I shrug resentfully. Not that I mind having a pseudonym, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I could still be myself. Elijah Goldsworthy, the Goth kid that people stared at while walking down the hallways at school. The guy who used to be madly in love with his rebellious high school girlfriend, and who used to hang out with his best friend at the most random places. Sometimes I don't want to be Elliot Gold, the best-selling writer who is unapproachable and arrogant and a complete asshole. But I guess I am unapproachable and arrogant and a complete asshole, maybe I'm just trying to deny it to myself.
No wonder Drew and Adam want this profile to be written; they want everyone to think that I'm a nice guy. Well, I'm not, I stopped being nice after Julia's death and there is no way that I will ever be the same. I think of Imogen, who wants to save me so badly, and I feel sorry for her. I shouldn't, since we're not really exclusive and she still manages to run around and fuck other guys, but I still pity her. I pity her because she sits there, expecting me to tell her that she's the love of my life, that we need to settle down, that we need to get married. Well, I hope that she's not holding her breath.
I can feel Adam staring at me, concern in his eyes, and I clear my throat. I give him a weak smile and Drew starts to rant about book sales and the book tour, and I can't handle his voice. I shake my head as the server comes back with my drink, and I drain the glass in just one gulp.
"Easy," says Drew. "We don't want you to be wasted when the reporter gets here. Bad first impression."
"Because a drunk writer would be such a shocker," I say sardonically.
"Eli, I'm just trying to help you out," grins Drew, and I want to punch him.
"You've helped a lot," I snap. "You've managed to get me on the Times' best-seller list, good job."
"That was your writing, not me," says Drew, but I notice the smugness in his tone and my throat aches for another drink.
I bury my face in my hands and I just want to get out of here. I don't care about this stupid profile, I don't care about Drew's plans for my career, and I don't give a-
"Drew Torres? Sorry I'm late."
I look up and a jolt of electricity pierces my heart as I stare at the young woman standing in front of us. She's smiling nervously and I examine every single inch of her, my mouth slightly open. She is nervously tucking a curl behind her ear, her fingertips smudged with ink. A press badge is hanging around her neck and she seems slightly breathless as she takes off her messenger bag and sits down. Her blue eyes glance at all of us apologetically, but I can't stop staring at her. She is wearing a denim jacket over a casual turquoise dress, which I'm sure brings out her eyes, not that I'm a fashion expert or anything. I don't think I've ever seen such a beautiful girl in my life.
Fuck. Is she the one who is supposed to follow me around? Oh.
"Clare Edwards, A&E writer for Dixon Magazine," she says, shaking Drew's hand, then Adam's. My hands are under the table, clutching my knees anxiously. "I'm writing the Elliot Gold profile."
She looks at me with determination in her eyes, and I feel affronted.
"I expected a guy," says Drew bluntly, and I can feel Adam freak out. He is a publicist, after all.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Edwards," nods Adam, and pokes me with his elbow.
"Yeah, hello," I mumble. Good job, Elijah, amazing choice of words. And you call yourself a writer.
"I'm not a guy, but I'm a good writer," says Clare cheerfully, not dazed by Drew's coldness. "I just want to tell you that I'm quite excited about this profile, and I'll do my very best to write a fair representation of Mr. Gold's life."
"About that," starts Drew. "We need to discuss certain aspects of this. Yes, you will be following him around and asking questions but... some things, I will need to read before publishing and tell you what I think."
"Are you trying to tell me how to write a profile?" asks Clare, and I am amazed at the subtle defiance in her voice. "Or are you asking me to slant it to your advantage?"
Wow. This girl is not a pushover at all.
The server brings me another drink and my cheese fries as Drew glares at Clare, dislike etched on his face. "No, I never said that," says Drew, and Adam sighs impatiently.
"Miss Edwards, here are the rules," says Adam in his unnerving professional tone, a tone that is still alien to me. "You will have full-access to everything in this book tour, but any pictures you take will be reserved for your publication only. No postings on your personal social networking sites, no leaks to other press or coworkers, etcetera, etcetera."
"Fair enough," says Clare, scribbling down everything Adam said. "Can you explain to me the details of this tour? My editor went through them with me, I just need confirmation."
She glances at me as I eat, and I feel uncomfortable. I know that I should be more talkative, but damn it, I don't know her and my head is killing me. She needs to stop looking at me like that, like she's studying me. I don't want to be analyzed.
"We leave next Monday. A month and a half through major Canadian cities," drawls Drew, still sounding upset. "Then we'll have a two-week break, then the world tour starts. New York, LA, Dallas, Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, Madrid and London."
I continue to chew as I listen to Drew talk, and I just want to punch something. All this traveling will kill me; all these book signings and giving interviews and talking to people will be the death of me. Fucking Drew and his world domination plans.
"I sure hope you like tour buses, Miss Edwards," chuckles Adam, and Clare stares at him.
"The Canadian tour... we'll be in a bus for it," explains Adam. "Elliot doesn't like to fly if he can avoid it."
"Oh," says Clare, glancing at me again. "You don't like to fly? Interesting."
"Compelling detail about an eccentric writer, I'm sure," I retort.
"Very," she replies, and she sounds like she's about to laugh. "Don't worry, Mr. Gold, I will try not to bother you too much. I will be a wallflower."
I just smirk at her and look away, slightly intimidated by her confidence.
"Do you want to order something?" asks Adam politely.
"I'm sure she has to leave," interjects Drew, and Clare nods, still looking oblivious about Drew's rudeness.
"I do, I have to cover an art exhibit," she smiles, and my heart stops. Her smile is like instant poison, and I feel my insides recoil as she stands up. "I will keep in touch with you, and I guess I'll see you next Monday."
Drew and Adam stand up to shake her hand, but I remain in my seat. She nods politely at me and walks away, the sound of her high heels fading with every step. Adam sits down but Drew pulls out his phone and grunts something, stepping away from the table.
"Your brother is a chauvinistic pig," I mention casually. "Did you see his face when he saw that our reporter is a beautiful girl?"
Adam drinks some water and snorts at me, shaking his head. "He can be an ass," he admits. "Also... I noticed how you were looking at her. Keep it in your pants, Eli."
Was I that obvious? I eat the last fries and wipe my fingers on the napkin, a smirk on my lips. "She's not my type, Adam," I say coldly. "And I'm with Imogen, remember?"
"Imogen, the girl you refuse to call your girlfriend," muses Adam, and I punch him playfully in the shoulder. "But yeah, I know she's not your type… but you're you, and I know you. You get lonely and drunk and you'll fuck anything that crosses your path."
I try to argue with him but I know that he's right. After all, he was there with me when Julia died; he saw how I didn't handle the situation well at all. He's been with me during my darkest moments, so of course he knows. Of course he knows how I fuck up, how I deal with my anxiety, and I just stare at my empty glass.
"Maybe I should order a coke," I say, trying to humor Adam. "No rum this time."
"Sounds like a good idea," approves Adam. Drew comes back and sits down, and I listen to Adam complain about Drew's behavior during the meeting. The brothers argue for what seems an eternity, but I stop paying attention. I keep thinking of Clare Edwards, of her piercing stare, of her defiant attitude. I think of her blue eyes and full lips, and I feel my heart flutter, which shocks me.
It's a good thing that she's not my type, right?