Summary: Clare goes back to the hospital to talk to Eli.

Disclaimer: Don't own Degrassi. 'Nuff said.

Author's Note: This literally popped into my head right as I was getting ready for bed last night. So, naturally, I had to write down a quick draft which then morphed into the entire first scene. I hadn't planned on writing another "make up" fic, although I'm not sure if this counts as one. It's more like… an alternate ending. Kind of.

Either way, I hope you enjoy. It's a lot shorter than Headphones.

X

Moving Forward
By: Lady Azura

X

It was almost midnight.

About an hour had passed since she'd returned to the school, and as the clock on the wall drew closer and closer to twelve, students began to trickle out. The gymnasium was practically empty now, save for the couples who had stayed behind to dance to the final slow song of the night.

Clare Edwards couldn't help but feel envious as she watched them, looking so utterly happy while she felt miserable. She'd tried so hard to take her mind off of Eli and to have fun with Alli, just like she had wanted, but it was impossible.

The image of her boyfriend — ex-boyfriend, she corrected herself — lying in a hospital bed, begging her not to leave, was forever stained in her memory. He was there because of her. If she had just gone to their bench… if she hadn't broken up with him over the phone… then he wouldn't be there. He would be safe and unharmed and… perhaps even with her.

Clare's throat tightened, and she swallowed hard, trying to think about something else — anything else — but her thoughts kept drifting back to one thing.

Eli.

Eli.

Eli.

"Clare!" Alli's voice jarred Clare from her stupor, and the latter spun around to face her best friend. "Clare, come on, we need to…" Alli's grin fell as soon as she saw Clare's expression. "Oh, Clare…"

"I'm fine," Clare lied, wiping her eyes while trying not to smear what was left of her makeup. "Don't worry about me."

Clare knew Alli didn't believe her, but she didn't call her bluff either. Instead, she took Clare by the hand and pulled her towards the middle of the dance floor. She began to sway from side to side in an attempt to get Clare to dance, but when Clare didn't follow her lead, she stopped. She frowned, letting go of her best friend's hands, concern evident on her face.

"You have to stop thinking about him." She urged gently.

"How can I not, Alli?" Clare said in exasperation. "You weren't there. You… you didn't see the way he looked at me."

"Clare, he was trying to manipulate you. You said so yourself!"

Clare shook her head furiously. Just thinking about what she'd said to Eli in the hospital made her feel nauseous. It felt like she was being gutted from the inside out.

"I don't… I don't think he was doing it on purpose, Alli." She said weakly, "I think something's wrong with him… and… what if I made it worse? Alli, I made a promise to him that I'd never leave and that's exactly what I did!"

"Clare, he crashed his car on purpose! Who's to say he won't put your life at risk next?" Alli countered. She took a deep breath before continuing. "You took yourself out of a dangerous situation. That doesn't make you a bad person."

"Alli, you don't get it!" Clare cried. And she didn't. There's no way she would ever understand. She'd been gone for months. Alli didn't know Eli like Clare did. She didn't know the sweet and witty boy — albeit deeply troubled — that had captured Clare's heart. She sucked in a sharp breath as realization dawned on her. Clamping a hand over her mouth, she stepped back, eyes widening as her whole body shook.

"Clare?" Alli squeaked, staring at her in shock. "What's wrong? Are you gonna be sick?"

"Alli," Clare gasped, locking eyes with her best friend. "I might've just made the biggest mistake of my life."

"What?" The dark-haired girl furrowed her brow in confusion. "Clare, what -"

"I have to go!" Clare cut her off suddenly.

Before Alli could protest, Clare had already brushed past her and disappeared into the dissipating crowd.

.

.

.

She didn't stop running until she reached her destination, and when she finally did, she didn't know what to do from there. She hadn't planned that far ahead. Everything was instinct. Her heart was beating so fast and so hard that it felt like it was going to burst right out of her chest. As Clare made her way through the hospital, her mind reeled; countless scenarios played out in her head, while guilt curled around her like a serpent, making it difficult to breathe.

Would he be alone? She didn't know if she could handle seeing Bullfrog there — or worse, CeCe. She could only imagine how CeCe was taking it. Her only child had almost killed himself to prove how much he loved her. There was no way Clare would ever be able to look CeCe in the eye again.

Did he hate her? She'd walked out on him. After she said she would always be there for him… she walked out on him. She left him.

The very thought made her sick to her stomach, but she kept walking, and after what felt like an eternity, she arrived.

Slowly, hesitantly, she opened the door to a familiar room and slipped inside. The curtains had been drawn — no one would be able to see her. Closing the door softly behind her, she mustered what little courage she had to glance over at the bed in the middle of the dimly-lit room.

Eli was exactly where she had last seen him, still clutching the tattered copy of Gothic Tales. His eyes were closed, and as she moved closer, she could make out his tear-stained cheeks.

He had been crying.

"No-no… don't leave me, please!"

Her own eyes stung, and she fought back a choked sob threatening to escape her lips.

She couldn't be there.

She had to leave.

It hurt too much to look at him, knowing he was there because of her — knowing how much she had hurt him.

Just as she was about to reach for the door, however, a raspy voice stopped her.

"Clare…"

She froze, her hand still on the doorknob.

Then, slowly, she turned back to face the dark-haired boy lying on the bed, watching her through lidded eyes. Clare's purse slipped from her grasp and hit the floor with a light thunk. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. She bowed her head, her hands falling limply at her sides.

"I… I'm sorry," she whispered, trying to keep her voice even. "I know you probably don't want to see me…"

She could hear the sound of the bed squeaking as Eli struggled to sit up.

"You…" he croaked, "you left…"

Clare nodded.

"I know," she said, swallowing the lump in her throat and blinking back tears. "I know."

She lifted her head to meet his gaze. "… I'm sorry, Eli."

Eli's eyes were bloodshot and dilated as he stared at her. His lips were dry and parted, and he looked so unbelievably confused, like he wasn't sure if he was dreaming or not. Clare bit her lip, and forced herself to walk forward until she was standing at the edge of his bed. Her heart ached when she noticed him flinch at their close proximities.

"I'm sorry," she repeated, "I shouldn't have left… but I'm so scared, Eli. I'm scared for you." She could feel more tears gathering in her eyes, ready to spill. "I think… I think you need help… because I don't know if I can deal with this again… please get help. Talk to someone — something!" She pleaded desperately, her fingers digging into his mattress. "I want to be with you, Eli. I do. I will… just promise me you'll get help… and then we can work through this. Together."

"You… you left me…" Eli murmured hoarsely, as though he hadn't heard a word she'd said.

Clare grasped his hand, squeezing it tightly.

"I know… but I'm here now," she whispered, "And I'm not going anywhere because we're gonna get through this, okay?"

For a moment, Eli didn't respond.

It was as if her words had fallen on deaf ears.

Just as she was about to give up, however, she felt him squeeze her hand back gently. Her eyes snapped open, and when she peered down at his face she noticed, amidst the bruises and scrapes, a tiny smile.

In an instant, Clare's worries vanished and her heart skipped a beat.

Everything would be okay.

X

FIN

X

This was shorter than the last one, but I hope you guys enjoyed nonetheless. I know a lot of people are REALLY pissed off at Alli, and while I do think Alli was for lack of a better word out of place, I understand why she stepped in. She was only looking out for Clare. She was concerned about Clare's wellbeing. I tried to portray that aspect in the beginning, so I hope people got that.

… not sure what else to say about this. I don't hate it, but it's not my favorite either.

Please REVIEW and tell me what you think!