Hi guise! :D So, yeah, this was inspired by a poem called Sweetness (Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul) and I immediately thought of Eli and Clare upon reading it. I figured that we could all use a bit of cheering up after Drop The World Part 1, so I said, SCREW WRITERS BLOCK. And then it all just flowed out. It's a ONESHOT. ONE. SHOT. Okay? So please don't ask me for an update.

This is another story dedicated to summersetlights because she is amazing and I feel like her sweet writing style inspired this. This is not smut, that's too harsh a word. If you're looking for that…you're not going to find it here. It has sex, yes, but it's not vividly described.

Hope you all enjoy! :)


"Eli, I swear to god, if you keep eating those, we won't have any left to can!" Clare said smiling, looking at Eli as his hazel-green eyes sparkled mischievously, eating the peach slice he had thieved.

"I can't help it?" He tried, too hot to try to come up with a better excuse. Eli's AC was broken again, and the whole house had adopted the summer heat. The only relief was a small breeze that drifted through the screened door every now and then, and even that carried the thick warmth that had layered itself like a blanket over the town. Eli thought it to be absolutely miserable, and complained a lot, and asked why they couldn't just go to her house, where it was cool.

Too cool, in Clare's opinion. So cool, in fact, that Clare often thought it to be winter almost all of the time. She wasn't referring to the weather; but her parents' constant silence towards one-another. Her house was uncomfortable and icy, and even when Eli finally shut up and let it go, she knew he wouldn't ever fully understand what it was like for her in that house. She felt like she didn't belong – like her whole being would freeze over as soon as she stepped inside, into an unwelcoming, alien world, where the parents that had acted as her stable rocks her whole life, crumbled beneath her.

She would much rather endure the air condition-less heat of the Goldsworthy residence, especially when she got to do things like this with her boyfriend, things like canning peaches. Things that gave her warm feelings that had nothing to do with summer, things that wouldn't fade away even as winter drifted around the corner. Literally. The peaches they were canning would be trapped inside glass jars, good for two years, according to the recipe. It wasn't just that, though. Along with the peaches, memories would be sealed inside the sticky, sweet syrup, and every time she opened one up, she knew it would bring back this day. Maybe it was a bit too sentimental, and a tad corny, but Clare didn't care at all. In fact, it brought a few tears to her eyes as she turned back to the counter and worked, slicing peaches, removing pits.

"Clare?" Eli asked, standing from his leaning position against the counter as he heard her sniffle, touching her shoulder gently. She didn't turn, and he quickly became alarmed. "Babe, are you okay?" Another sniffle. "I promise I won't take anymore peaches," he offered softly, and Clare grinned, trying not to laugh at his complete seriousness. She finally turned towards him, eyes watery but gleaming in the soft sunlight through the window, cheeks flushed from the heat like a small child's. Eli was confused at this point, but paused his thoughts to admire her natural, glowing beauty. It seemed to radiate from her every pore, and he thanked a God that he didn't believe in for her. She was a complete angel, inside and out. As her arms came to rest gently on his shoulders, fingers setting on the back of his neck, he pulled her closer and smiled. It was a bit uncomfortable, seeing as how he was already sweating like no other already, but in that moment, he didn't mind.

Their foreheads came to rest against each other, and Clare pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. "You didn't do anything, silly," she whispered. She didn't know why she was whispering, but talking at a normal volume just didn't seem right for the rare intimate moment – and it was rare. Ever since…The Accident, physical affection was never really a high priority for either of them. It seemed almost trivial after what had went on during the school year, and all Clare ever wanted to do was simply be there for Eli while he was going through therapy. The attraction always remained, but it just didn't feel…right holding him as a lover. Back during school, the weight of Eli's problems made her snap, and to take advantage of his desperate need for her as soon as she returned to him made her feel guilty. This wasn't what drove her to be there for him; she loved him with everything she had. The guilt she was feeling, it was what made her want to turn away. Why he was so quick to take her back was completely beyond her. She felt horrible most days. She loved him so much, while he remained lost, and she didn't know how to help him find his way. But she made a vow. She promised never to leave him again, to never give up on him again, because one day, he would find his way home, back into the person he used to be.

Eli was still working on it, but they both knew he was halfway there. He was learning to cope with Julia's death in a healthy way, slowly, but surely. Clare had helped him sort out almost three quarters of his room (he was very thankful for her patience), and now the floor was visible and messily organized stacks of things they had yet to go through were pushed into a far corner. She had gone with him to therapy many times, always holding his unsteady hands as he talked (mostly to her, it was what he felt most comfortable doing). She kept her promise, and that did more to help Eli than therapy ever could.

Now, as they stood in the stuffy, hot kitchen, none of that was relevant. Neither of them had felt this way in a long time; so at ease in each other's arms. So equal to the other. Eli didn't feel broken, Clare didn't feel suffocated, and neither of them felt lost. As their lips pressed together again, they felt like they were both right where they were supposed to be.

Their hands were slightly sticky from the raw fruit, but they didn't seem to care as their hands started to roam the other's body, feeling curves and soft skin, damp from a light sheen of sweat that their proximity had caused. They kept pulling each other closer and closer, desperation seeping into their intertwining tongues and harshly moving lips. They wanted more and more of each other.

But Clare stopped it before their raging hormones could get out of hand, pulling away softly, loosening her death grip in Eli's hair. His breath was warm against her lips as their foreheads pressed together once again, and she smiled. "I love you, you know," she said breathlessly, voice still in a whisper.

"I love you too," Eli replied, eyes closing in contentment.

She stroked the back of his neck. "You're doing so good. I can't believe how far you've come."

"It's because of you," he said simply. "You made me want to get better."

Clare pressed one lingering kiss to Eli's cheek ,before he finally let her go, turning to the counter.

"Let's can some peaches," he said, drawing a smile from Clare. A newfound light could be seen in his eyes if one looked close enough – Eli was happy. He still had things to work through, but he was happy. And that was all he or Clare could ask for.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

The heat died down as evening came about, the sun that had once towered so menacingly over the town dropping behind the horizon line.

Eli and Clare sat on the grass in the backyard, six jars of canned peaches sitting neatly behind them on the back porch. They had successfully preserved the fruit, after many hours of following a strict, old recipe book of Clare's grandmother's. Both were exhausted, over-heated, and extremely sticky from the messy syrup, but they were too tired to move – much less clean themselves up.

"We did it," Clare said, a smile in her voice. "You ate about three quarters of them, but I think we salvaged enough."

"Hardy-har," Eli retorted, lips tilting up in a rather lazy smirk. Clare laid on her back, closing her eyes, intertwining their sticky fingers. Eli peered down suspiciously at her lips, and noting that her eyes were closed, leaned down and stole a kiss from her. Clare's eyes opened in surprise, but before she could really register anything, Eli pulled away. "I knew it," he said, shaking his head. "I knew I wasn't the only one who snuck a few peaches." He could now taste not only peaches on his tongue, but the sticky syrup they had put them in.

Clare giggled. "Clever, Goldsworthy, very clever," she said, sitting back up. They both looked back at the sunset, and after a few moments, Eli pulled his sticky hand from Clare's. She looked at him.

She didn't expect what lingered in his eyes, a flash of the lust from earlier, turning his eyes from hazel to a brilliant, vivid green. She didn't expect him to drift closer, or his hand to go to her face, thumb leaving a sticky, syrupy trail across her cheek. And she didn't expect herself to lean in the few inches between them and kiss him so urgently, with no intention of stopping. His lips were soft and sweet and gentle, and she felt a hunger that had stirred inside of her for so long finally getting what it wanted. Clare pulled him down lower, and he ran a hand through her hair as they kissed, leaving it thick and tangled. Their hands were everywhere, touching every inch of exposed skin. Clare kissed Eli like this many time before The Accident, but this was different somehow. She had always known her boundaries with boys, but Eli…Eli wasn't just a boy anymore. As the kiss deepened, she felt something rock solid beneath the lust. A mutual trust and love, an intimate bond that not many people their age had.

It made her stomach jolt, and after a few more minutes of kissing, she knew what it meant. Suddenly, it became clear to her.

"Eli," she said against his lips, and he pulled away to look at her. "I love you."

"I love you too," he answered, a little confused at the determination in her voice.

"I know. And you trust me, right?"

"Of course," he replied just as quickly, becoming a little worried as Clare became flustered.

"Even after…"

"Yes."

"And, you, you…you want me?" Her cheeks flushed bright red.

"I have you, don't I?"

"No, I mean, yes you do, but," she sighed in frustration, and at this point all he could do was look at her quizzically as she tried to explain. "Do you want me?" Her voice was shaky, and it took Eli several moments of looking at Clare before he finally got it.

Her face flushed again as she saw the realization creep into his eyes. She wanted to hide under a rock, even though she knew feeling that way was silly. This was so…embarrassing to ask.

"Oh." Eli said after a few moments, the confusion leaving his eyes fully. "Clare," he reassured her, "God, of course."

The way he said that made Clare's spine tingle. "I…I want you too."

Nothing happened for several minutes. The couple simply stared at each other for what seemed like hours, wondering what to do with this new information. Eli was overjoyed on the inside, in fact, he probably could have done a backflip if his back would have allowed it (his neck and back still hurt significantly from The Accident). But he was confused as to what Clare was trying to tell him, and he didn't want to do one thing or say something when she could have been just saying it simply to let him know. He just waited for her to talk again.

"Eli…I've been on birth control for a while," Clare finally said lowly, avoiding his gaze as she played subconsciously with his fingers. "And I know it's been a really long time since we've even kissed like this, and I know this is incredibly random, but…God, I'm not explaining this right. Okay, it's not random, exactly," she babbled on, wishing she could shut herself up. Eli just listened. "I have wanted you for a really long time. I know we never really showed it, the physical stuff, the past few months, but it never went away. I think, that you and I have come a long way from the people we were at the beginning of the year, and even though it's the first week of summer, and even though it may seemed rushed in someone else's eyes, the fact is that I want you, and I'm ready, and I don't know of you are but—"

She was cut off by Eli's lips. The kiss was quick, but it shut her up, and when Eli pulled back, his face was serious. "Ready for what?" He knew, but he had to be sure.

Clare's voice didn't falter as she spoke next. She knew this was a test. So she sat up fully, looked him directly in the eyes, and spoke. "Elijah Goldsworthy." He waited. "I am ready for you to make love to me."

He sucked in a breath, afraid to let it out as the words fell effortlessly from her lips, her azure eyes determined but vulnerable. She meant it.

"I…" He tried.

"It's okay if you aren't," Clare said reassuringly. "I completely understand if you still feel like you need some time. I'm just letting you know, that whenever you're ready, I am too." She touched his face gently, the syrup only slightly sticky.

"And if I was right now?" He asked, voice low.

Clare's eyes widened as his words registered.

"Then I am too," she echoed.

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure. Completely sure. I think I have been for about two years."

"It was just never the right time," Eli whispered, and Clare nodded. "it's the right time now," he said, more surely, and Clare once again nodded her agreement.

"It's the perfect time."

"And we just realized this now?"

"I think we did."

Eli was the one to nod this time, and their faces drew closer. He kissed her once on the lips, giving her one last chance to go back, to return her words. But Clare didn't, because she knew that she meant every one of them. It was far too hot to go back into the house, and so neither of them moved from the soft, fresh summer grass.

Nothing of their intimacy was rushed. Every touch was sweet, sticky fingertips tracing hot skin as gently as they could. Clothes were shed gradually, and even then, neither of them rushed to get it over with. They wanted to remember every detail of this night.

And when it finally happened, that warm, summer night, it was beautiful. It was something neither of them would ever forget as long as they lived, no matter what happened. It was summer, it was love, it was canning peaches. It was meeting each other for the first time, it was the first kiss, the first fight, and the first comforting embrace. It was everything they had ever felt towards each other, blinding them as the sun finally dipped fully behind the horizon.

No matter what happened in their future, they knew, that this was something they would never feel with anyone else. It was special, something all their own.

It was proof that love could overcome all obstacles.

And that was something to be proud of.