I didn't think I would write this but I knew I left Adam and Clare open-ended and that was truly killing me. I wanted to write an ending for them and here it is!
I think you'll like it. If not, tell me why. ;)
Thank you so so so much for the amazing reception to this story, I never imagined that so many people would be so passionate about this story. I love each and every one of you who not just reviewed but just read this. It's definitely the best/favorite story I've written so far and I'm so glad people actually liked it.
NO MORE AFTER THIS. THIS IS THE END. NO SEQUEL.
Fun facts that I threw in about myself in this:
1. I am reading the book she's reading.
2. This year, my birthday falls on the holiday mentioned. Awesome, eh?
Oh and in the previous chapter, I didn't use the word Eli once. Anyone catch that? :)
The epilogue was a little over a year after Clare left. This takes place five months after her Skype chat.
Thank you for reading and enjoy.
Age 20 – The True Finale
During fall break in the States, which would really be considered to be Thanksgiving break, Clare decided to fly home to Toronto. They had a week off and she was glad to have this break. Not only did it mean that she could have a week break from her second year at Yale but it also meant she could spend her birthday with her family. This year her birthday was on American Thanksgiving and while her friends at school thought that it was great, she only shrugged it off. She was Canadian of course.
She had invited Connor to come along with her so he could visit his own family but Connor was already on his way with his girlfriend Ava to her family's for Thanksgiving. Clare knew Connor was nervous to meet Ava's family officially, since they've been dating for a while now, but Clare assured him he'd be fine.
Clare was so thankful to have Connor with her at school. It made the transition so much easier and she had someone to talk to about her problems. The only person who knew about her story was Ava and that was because she and Clare were roommates. She didn't know the full details but she knew enough. Connor was always supporting her through her therapy sessions, made sure she was okay, and whenever she had anxiety attacks, which she developed through all her stress, he was always there for her. He truly became her support system and her best friend.
On the flight back home, Clare was trying to read The Poisonwood Bible but found her mind drifting towards what she'd find back home. While playing with the ring on her finger, one that she wanted to take off but couldn't get herself to, she got lost in her mind. Her parents officially divorced over the summer and Clare expected it to hurt, but it didn't. She knew they were always at odds and it was time for them to be happy. Her mother stayed at their home due to Clare's requests, she wanted that house to be theirs still. Even if it held some bad memories, it was still their house. She was going there and she was going to have dinner with both of her parents every night either at home or out.
Then she thought about Adam. She was looking around on the plane and found a guy wearing a beanie and she thought about Adam. They hadn't talked in over a year now, ever since their blowout at the abandoned church, and Clare knew Adam kept trying to contact her. Her parents constantly called and said Adam wanted to know how she was and wanted her new number. Connor also kept getting emails and calls from Adam and he did try to get Clare to talk to him but Clare kept refusing.
It wasn't that she didn't want to talk to him. She just didn't know what to say. What do you say to the guy who kept a big secret from you? One that would bring her relationship to its ashes? She deserved to know that her boyfriend was cheating on her and her best friend knew. It was not acceptable by any means and she didn't know how to forgive him.
The flight wasn't long at all and Clare, in no time, found herself in the airport with her luggage, looking around for her parents. There were a lot of people at the airport and she found herself getting lost in the sea of people. She managed to go off to the side and call her mom.
"Hey Mom, where are you?" Clare asked once she answered.
"I thought your father was picking you up?" Helen replied perplexed.
"Is he? I haven't seen him. I'll call him. Thanks mom."
Clare dialed her father's number and waited. "Clare? Are you at the house yet?"
Clare pushed her eyebrows together in confusion. "What? Mom just said that you were supposed to pick me up."
"Oh…" Randall trailed off. "I was. I have a meeting and I completely forgot Clare, I'm sorry. I can come get you in about thirty minutes, I'm still at the meeting."
"It's okay, I'll just take a cab." Clare went to the information desk and had them call a cab for her and she waited with her luggage. She found herself playing a game on her phone while listening to music when someone called her name.
She looked up, not sure if someone had actually spoken her name, and she wanted to run. How in the world could they both be at the same place at the same time when she had just come back? Someone must've said something. No one else knew of her return to Toronto other than her parents and Connor so it must've been Connor.
Clare couldn't move at all and everyone else around her was moving a million miles per minute. And yet, here she was, unable to even think let alone move a finger.
"Are you going to say anything?"
Clare finally felt her muscles relaxing and she quickly stuffed her phone and iPod into her carry-on and with the rest of her things, she bolted from her seat. She couldn't handle this. She wasn't expecting to see anyone but her parents and maybe Simpson and his family while she was home but not this. Not at all.
"Miss, you'll have to stay here so we can tell you when your cab has arrived."
"Cancel it. She has a ride."
"Don't cancel it. I don't have a ride."
"Yes she does. Now if you want to wait for hours for a cab you can stay but I could have you home within the hour."
"Stop being stubborn."
"Don't tell me what to do."
"Stop speaking for me."
"Stop being stubborn."
"You said that already."
"I see that this is a lover's quarrel so..."
"We are not together."
"Especially since she hasn't talked to me in a long time."
"Can you blame me?"
He paused. "Not even a little. I messed up."
"Yes, you did."
Clare sighed. "No, thank you."
"Come on," he grabbed her stuff and headed toward the exit. Huffing in annoyance, Clare held onto her carry-on tightly and followed. They got to the car and she climbed in without a word. Finally they were on the road and Clare just stared out the window, arms crossed over her chest, dead set on not speaking.
"Am I gonna hear a thank you?"
Clare raised her brows and scoffed.
"You do know I could just kick you out of my car, right?"
"Oh, so she speaks."
"I wasn't planning on seeing you."
"I could say the same thing. I was dropping someone off and I saw you. Trust me, it was as big of a surprise for me as it was for you. Did you think that this would be the circumstances that I would see you in person after a year? I thought it'd be more epic, more planned, less surprising."
"So you thought about it?"
He laughed. "Clare, I thought about it every day since I found out you left. You didn't actually tell me when, you know."
"Oh sorry Adam, I find out you knew about Eli cheating on me and I was just dying to tell you all of the details of my move," she said with the utmost sarcasm oozing from her tone. She turned back to the window and focused on the trees passing by.
"I didn't want you to get hurt," Adam muttered. Those were the exact words he said that day he admitted it.
"Mission failed," Clare said.
Adam cleared his throat and took a deep breath. "He…blackmailed me. Eli, he, he said he'd tell people about me being…"
"Are you serious?" Clare was fuming now, angry that Eli would ever do that. Using that secret against his own best friend. "Wow, he really really wanted to keep his secret didn't he?"
"I couldn't tell you, I couldn't have people finding out, I'm so so sorry, I know I was wrong but—"
"Adam," Clare put her hand over his. "It's…okay. I…forgive you. I didn't know the circumstances. I am sorry that I didn't give you the chance to explain."
"I probably would've done the same thing you did," Adam admitted. "It looked bad. It was bad. But I meant what I said. I didn't want you to get hurt, I thought he'd tell you eventually but…it blew up."
"I spent more than a year mad at you and I didn't even know the truth," Clare said in disbelief. She kept her hand in Adam's and rubbed her temple with the other. "Over a year."
"Hey, now look at us," Adam tightened his grip around Clare's hand. "Reunited and it feels so good."
"Real cheesy," Clare laughed.
"So, did you fly home to be with your parents for the big 2-0?"
"Partly yes but also since it's fall break now and I didn't just want to stay at campus when everyone's out for Thanksgiving. It falls on my birthday."
"That's cool! If you were American you'd be eating a lot of food AND getting presents!"
"You haven't changed at all," Clare commented.
"There's one thing that has changed. I've got myself a girl now."
"Who?" Clare squealed like a little girl and turned her body to face Adam's, despite being buckled in her seat.
Clare went back into her memories for a Katie. "The Degrassi Daily editor? Adam! You had a crush on her for a long time!"
"We both go to TU and…it just happened," Adam said coyly but Clare was hitting his arm for more information. "Okay, okay. She's part of the newspaper at TU and she needed to interview me for something. We met up, did the interview, but started hanging out more and eventually I asked her to be my girlfriend."
"Awww, Adam!" Clare cooed and smiled. "I'm so happy for you."
"Thanks," Adam replied. "Have you…do you…"
"No," Clare answered quickly. "No guys. The only one I see is Connor and that's because he practically lives at my apartment."
"Oh yeah, I heard about him having a girlfriend. How is she? And him?"
"They're great," Clare said. "He's actually meeting the family during the break."
"Wow, big step," Adam laughed.
"Yeah, you should've seen him. He was so manic but he'll impress them and make them love him in no time."
"I heard you went to his house after…what happened. Why his house?"
"It was the only place I knew Eli wouldn't know I was at," Clare answered truthfully. "I thought about going to yours but he did tell me you knew about the cheating. Thought about going to Alli's, Jenna's, even Wesley's. But I knew Eli wouldn't go looking for me at the principal's house."
"He got a lot of hate the rest of the school year," Adam told her. "No one would talk to him."
"That's not what I wanted," Clare replied.
"I know but…everyone loved you and then when Fiona stormed out on the play like everyone else and the story got out, he was definitely public enemy number 1. Pretty sure he spent every lunch in Morty."
"You stopped talking to him?"
"He broke your heart, blackmailed me, and drove you out of the school and the country so it was hard to look at him the same way."
"You don't know…the entire thing," Clare said slowly. "It wasn't just Eli, there was so much more that I needed to escape."
"Will you tell me?"
Clare looked at Adam who kept looking back at her and the road and she pursed her lips to the side. "Not here. I don't think you'd want to hear the story while you drove."
"Your house then?"
"How about…The Dot? I really want a milkshake. Then my house."
Adam smirked. "The Dot it is."
While getting their milkshakes, Clare was surprised to see her best girl friend Alli with Dave Turner. Alli attacked her with a hug and Clare hugged back, happy to see her. She had cut off ties with Alli even though she didn't mean to. Alli hadn't contacted her either but Clare could see that there was no bad blood between them judging from how tight Alli was hugging her.
"Clare! Look at you! Your hair! Your clothes! Are you back? Wait, your birthday is in a few days! Ah!"
Clare laughed at Alli's enthusiasm but enjoyed it. It's been a while since she'd seen her and Clare was happy to see that she hadn't changed at all. "You look great Alli. Hi Dave."
"Clare," Dave smiled. "How's the Ivy League? And how's Connor? Was he freaking out about meeting Ava's family?"
"You have no idea," Clare smiled. "And it's great. Best time of my life."
Clare and Adam said their goodbyes to Alli and Dave, after Clare promised to call and email Alli more often, and they went to Clare's house where her mother was gone to get groceries to stock up for her stay. Clare was grateful to have the house to herself so she could talk to Adam in peace.
"Where should I start?" Clare fathomed to herself. "There was so much."
"How about the biggest thing aside from Eli that made you go," Adam suggested as he sipped on his milkshake.
"Okay," she sighed. "Remember Halloween, the one before the party you guys threw for me for my eighteenth birthday?"
"Yeah, you and Eli had a fight that night and you walked home by yourself...," and then he paused, his head shooting up. "Clare, what happened that night?"
Adam was suddenly very angry and Clare was dreading telling him what happened. But he wanted to know. He needed to know. He deserved to know. After shutting him out for over a year, Clare knew she owed him.
"I was walking home, it was dark, I wanted to go on a shortcut and in an alley, this guy…he…he…"
"No," Adam choked out. He was already in tears. "No, that never happened. You went home, you were home safe in your house."
Clare shook her head with difficulty and couldn't look at Adam in the eyes. She held his hand instead. "It happened, I was raped, and I…it was hard to fathom that it did. I never thought that actually happened in real life and…it did."
"I should've walked you home, I shouldn't have let you go off by yourself, I should've—"
Clare took Adam into a hug and he cried into her shoulder, holding her tightly with no signs of wanting to let go. She was doing a good job at keeping her tears to a minimum but Adam was definitely sobbing. The last person she told the story to was her therapist and she never thought she'd have to again. But here she was, talking about it to Adam, and he was taking it very hard.
It would take a while for Adam to calm down and after a lot of tears and undecipherable banter, he was finally calm. His head was in Clare's lap now and he was looking up at her with wet eyes and a red nose. Both of their hands were clasped together, resting over Adam's chest.
"That's why you missed school for a week after Halloween."
"That's why you were so distant for months."
"That's why you wouldn't let Eli touch you."
"I did on my birthday," Clare said. "Then I realized that I couldn't get him away from me. Whenever Eli would touch me a certain way after that, I froze and pushed him away. I couldn't get that memory to go away and I couldn't have Eli touching me. That man will always be on my skin. I wasn't a virgin when it happened but that didn't make the situation any better. He took something from me that night, what was left of my sanity, and I've slowly been working on…becoming myself again. But I was already damaged before that night."
"What else happened?" Adam inquired.
Clare took a while to explain her rocky relationship with her parents. Adam knew a lot that did happen but not all. She told him about Darcy always being the favorite. Also how they forgot her first day of school. How Helen always took Darcy's side. Helen's emotional abuse, Randall's attempts to stick by her, the banning of her relationship with Eli, forgetting her eighteenth birthday, the period of months they didn't speak after her birthday, and the emotional climax of their roller coaster at Simpson's house the day after finding out what Eli was doing.
Clare explained the effect her parents had on her self-esteem, her inability to let people in, and her inability to love. Then she talked about her therapist in New Haven who was able to get her to have more confidence in herself. And she was definitely better. Better than she ever was in her life. This was the resolution part of her story. Things were getting resolved.
"So I'm guessing that everything with your parents has been better?" Adam asked once Clare was finished.
"Yeah," Clare smiled. "They've been supporting my recovery really great and I call them often. I'm glad to be home for this birthday because I spent my nineteenth at school in an empty dorm since everyone was gone. First time in a while that I'm actually excited to have a birthday."
"I'm gonna have to go back to my dorm and get my present for you then," Adam replied.
Clare was confused and said, "But…you didn't know I was coming, did you?"
"I bought it over the summer after you left and hoped that I'd at least see you again for another birthday. It's lame but…it was you." Adam gave her a comforting smile and she sighed happily.
"I'm still sorry that I didn't let you explain," she told him.
"I'll always be sorry that I never told you the truth," he replied. "That mistake caused me to lose my two best friends."
She stared at him in sadness, realizing that Adam did indeed lose both her and Eli. "Did you ever talk to him again?"
"Briefly," Adam shrugged. "He asked how I was and I said I was good."
"Months ago. He goes to TU too but our paths don't cross. Have you talked to him at all?"
"A few months ago, during exams," Clare said and Adam sat up in surprise. His jaw was dropped. "I was Skyping with Cece and Bullfrog and he showed up. He told me that he's glad that I'm finally happy and that he loved me."
"That…I loved him too and he'll be the very best friend I ever had."
Adam winced. "I'm sure that hearing best friend was good for him."
"I needed him to move on," Clare sighed, her head falling back.
"You sound like you haven't."
"It's because I haven't. How can I let my heart open for more disappointment? I had one relationship my entire life and I got my heart broken badly so…I can't even think about being in love with someone else while I can't even shake away what he did to me, the good and the bad. I loved him my entire life and that was the only love I truly knew."
Adam took Clare's hand again and sat beside her, his side pressed against the back of the couch. "I can't believe I didn't notice any of this."
"I learned to mask it over the years," Clare smiled weakly. "It wasn't your problem."
"Eli told me some things about your home life but…I never knew this much. I don't think he even knew."
Clare shook her head. "He didn't. No one did."
"Could you ever forgive him?"
"Forgive…yes. Be with him again, an entirely different thing."
"But not impossible?"
"I guess…if I can overcome my emotional troubles, nothing is impossible."
Clare spent her week with her parents, telling them stories of Yale and her classes and her friends. They actually spent most of their time at their house, just talking. It was like making up time for the many years they weren't close at all. Clare and Helen baked together, living out one of Clare's childhood desires, Clare and Randall watched several Harry Potter movies together, and Adam and Alli came over the night of Clare's birthday and they celebrated it with a big homemade dinner.
On Clare's final day in Toronto, she packed her suitcase with the gifts she got for her birthday. Her mom got her some new clothes from her favorite vintage store, her dad got her new DVDs, Alli bought her a new bag, and Adam…Adam's gift was a gold necklace with an oval pendant.
"Here's a circle!" Clare said proudly as she held a green colored circle which looked more so like an oval.
"That's not a circle," someone piped up. Clare turned her head to see a girl, dark brown long hair and a freckled face, wearing jeans and a large shirt, much like the style of a boy's.
"It is a circle," Clare insisted. "See?"
"No, it's small at the top and bottom and fat in the middle, it's an oval."
The necklace had an engraving on the back: "It was an oval."
When Adam had given it to her, she started to cry at the memory of their first encounter. She had met one of the best people she'd know in her life at age 5, by an argument over the shape that Clare had drawn. She'd never admit it but it was an oval. It was always difficult for her to create a perfect circle. This was the first of things she'd have a hard time admitting.
Clare put it on her neck and packed the rest of her things. Her flight was in a few hours but her mom needed to go to work so she'd have to drop off Clare early. While she waited for her mom to finish getting ready, Clare put her stuff by the door and got on her mom's laptop which was on the kitchen table.
She checked her Facerange page, which she hadn't done since she came home, and she found a lot of notifications from her friends wishing her a happy birthday. She replied to them all with nice words and smiley faces as she smiled to herself. As she browsed through her page, there was a knock on the door.
"Clare, could you get that?"
Clare logged off and walked to the door, looking at her watch to keep track of the time. She opened the door, still looking at her watch.
"Hi Mrs. Edwards, sorry to bother you but I have a birthday present for Clare and I—"
Clare looked up and much like the moment at the airport, she froze. But this time it wasn't Adam.
Clare forced herself not to look in his eyes and instead saw a small box in his hands. Oh. When she looked back up again, he was smiling nervously and she found herself doing the same. Suddenly that silver ring on her finger began to get hot against her skin. She hadn't taken it off. As much as she wanted to, it was a part of her. Always yours. -E
Her heart fluttered a bit and there were butterflies in her stomach again. That last time she had this feeling…it's been a while.
"Hi," Eli breathed after a few minutes of just staring at each other.
She searched his eyes and found them still the same green she remembered. Then all of a sudden she couldn't remember the bad things. Every good memory came flooding back.
Eli sticking up for her at the playground when she cried. Age 3.
Eli distracting her from the fact that her parents forgot her first day of school. Age 5.
Eli telling her that it was possible to fall in love with your best friend at any age. Age 9.
Eli giving her her first kiss, which was magical. Age 13.
Eli throwing her a birthday party which helped distract her for a little while. Age 18.
Eli showing her that love will always be there. Age 1-20.
Clare wanted to cry but she pressed her lips together and inhaled a deep breath. Eli's smile was growing and she felt herself just wanting to throw herself in his arms. But she didn't. She put a small, yet genuine smile on her face, and said one word that didn't seem like anything but it surely meant everything. Would it be a new beginning or their official end? Either way, Clare let out all of her feelings with just one word.