Disclaimer: I do not not own Degrassi. If I did eclare would never have broken up and they'd be happy.

A/N: The Teennick "Now Or Never" promo inspired me to write this oneshot.

Kiss Me Slowly

Adjusting the flower headband nestled in her curly auburn hair, Clare made her way to the window seat in her room. Her mom was on parent duty for the weekend, while her dad was staying in his small condo a few streets away. Clare rolled her light blue eyes as she sat onto the cushioned window frame. A few hours ago her mother was fretting about leaving Clare alone for a few hours, but she'd convinced her mother otherwise, eventually making her go out with her childhood friend who was in town for a brief visit.

Clare was lying to herself by saying she was helping herself relax, tonight. Lately, nighttime revolved around endless racing thoughts and long sorrowful cries that left her worn out. She'd made amends with the fact that Eli was a part of her past; until Imogen had come into town. Her quirky smile, crazy hairstyles, and jean jacket, all made Clare resent her. Imogen had come to Degrassi with confidence and was not backing down from her newly claimed territory: Elijah Goldsworthy. Clare couldn't help but see through her act. It was obvious she was trying to manipulate Eli, and it sent rage through Clare; even if Eli's life was no longer a concern of hers.

Clare knew being jealous was irrational and childish, especially when she'd tried moving on herself a few months back. Jake was a rebound, someone to play it safe with; he was nothing like Eli, and that's exactly what Clare had been going for. But she'd never felt the same attraction towards him that she'd once felt with Eli, and broke it off before things got too serious.

Hearing the clock chime nine, Clare snapped out of her daydreaming thoughts. Looking out the window she noticed that the rain had finally let up a bit. Lighting from the streetlights combined with the bright moon made the surrounding street appear magical. The wet areas on the pavement were shining like shimmering crystals, finally making Clare feel motivated to go outside. She'd promised Alli she'd meet her at 'The Dot' by nine thirty. They'd made plans a few days ago, but Clare regrettably had the urge to call Alli's cell and cancel. It's not like breaking promises is new, Clare thought to herself as she headed downstairs, painfully recalling how she'd broken it off with Eli last year despite her promise to never leave him.

"I love you...and I know You love me." The heartbreaking recollection sent shivers through Clare, making her choke back a few hot tears dancing at the brim of her eyelids. Grabbing her Jean jacket from the hook by her front door she hurried into the cool night air.

— — — — — — —

Walking into 'The Dot' quickly turned to painful regret. The small cafe was unusually crowded. Teens filled the surrounding area as they reminisced with friends, gawked over cute boys, and talked about the latest gossip. All of it seemed so trivial to Clare.

Looking around, she tried to spot Alli in the crowd. She wanted to sit down and fade into the background, especially since she'd spotted Eli and Imogen sitting together at one of the back tables. Clare had only ever seen the two of them walking together in the hallways of Degrassi, she'd never actually witnessed them acting like an 'in love' couple.

Clare observed Imogen for a moment, envying the very place she sat. She was under Eli's gaze, his eyes peacefully staring into hers as they laughed about some unheard joke. Imogen's hair was tied up into several buns above her delicate face, a dark headband pushing them back away from her forehead. She happily sat across from Eli, one hand in her lap, the other one flirtatiously touching the sides of his face. It wasn't much of a consolation, but she noticed Eli didn't look very enthused. He'd always been hard to read and hid behind witty remarks and sarcasm to hide his true feelings. Clare, at one time, had been able to break his walls down. He had let her in on his darkest secrets, and they'd shared countless hours saving each other from themselves.

But there he was, acting completely out of character. He was playing the cliché boy in a cliché romance story. It disgusted Clare. Anger began to boil through her veins as she observed the two of them. Watching them all year would cause her more pain than she'd originally ever thought. It would tear her apart to see Imogen kiss the lips she'd once kissed, be embraced by the arms that had once made her feel safe, and be loved by the irreplaceable boy she'd loved.

It seemed ironic that, after she had decided to break it off with him, Clare seemed to run into Eli everywhere. Just like tonight. Clare's heart skipped a beat and suddenly she felt lightheaded. Eli hadn't noticed her standing there and she certainly wasn't going to let him. Leaving was her best bet, she decided. She could deal with a lot of things, but this? This was too much for her right now.

Movement caught Clare's eye, grabbing her attention away from Eli and Imogen. Alli was flagging her down, waving her small hand, as she signaled Clare to come over. Dave and Sadie were sharing one of the larger tables with Alli on the other side of the cafe. Returning Alli's smile, Clare started to make her way over to her friends. But before sitting down, she saw Imogen and Eli share something intimate. A kiss.

Clare felt herself cringe, tearing her eyes away from the scene. Last year Eli had held her in his warm, safe arms as they lay in a hammock together. In that moment they'd made wishes on beautiful shimmering stars, wishes to have each other. Last year Clare had embraced him while he cried in her arms, confessing his hoarding problems and how he felt lost without Clare. They'd made promises not to fight, and had shared passionate kisses that still tingled on her innocent lips.

What happened? Clare thought, holding back a few tears.

"Hey, Alli. I'm sorry, but I'm kind of tired. I think I'm going to just head home." Clare forced a smile, acknowledging a hello to Dave and Sadie before turning back to her best friend.

"You just got here Clare, at least stay for a little while." Alli, looking concerned, put a hand over Clare's. "You okay?"

Alli followed Clare's eyes as they glanced toward the other side of the room. Her friend was anything but naive. She gave Clare a sympathetic look. "It's not good to keep holding on to him, Clare."

"No need to worry, Alli, I'm over him. Like I said before, I'm just tired." Clare said, shaking off Alli's implied accusations.

"You still care about him, don't you?" Alli said fumbling over her words, trying to be careful with what she said in an attempt to not hurt Clare.

"Don't be ridiculous, Alli. Just let it go..." Clare hadn't meant to snap, but she didn't feel like touching on the 'Eli' subject right then. Clare stood up to leave, walking away from Alli before she could stop her.

"Wait, Clare!" Alli had swung around in her seat, clearly frustrated she wasn't able to get through to her friend.

Before Clare could protest whatever it was Alli was about to swing her way, she found Eli fixing an intense stare on her, and quickly tuned her friend out. She felt herself audibly gulp before clumsily taking a few steps back, bumping into several people who had been walking behind her. He and Imogen had stood up to get drinks from the counter, and Alli's yelling had clearly brought unwanted attention on Clare. Imogen looked displeased, and shot a threatening glare in her direction, causing Clare to snap. Somehow she found confidence within herself to speak up.

"What? Am I interrupting you two?" The words felt bitter on her tongue, and Clare found herself slightly shocked that she'd even said them. She was being overly hostile, but the way they were looking at her made her feel like some sort of grave interruption.

Clare wasn't about to avert her eyes and run away. She was bitterly staring at Eli, all of the pain she'd felt the past few months rushing back to her. The expression on his face instantaneously turned from an emotionless stare into a cold glare. He turned away from her, and Clare finally felt herself lose it.

"Did you erase me from your memory? Did you ever love me at all?" There was a break in Clare's voice as she stifled a sob. Her lip began to quiver and her hands involuntarily trembled as she stood her ground.

Eli didn't bother turning around to look at her, and although it hurt her, Clare was grateful. She was a mess, breaking down in front of Eli, in front of everyone. Without hesitation, Clare turned, knees weak, and headed for the door. Her cheeks were flushed with embarrassment and her mind was clouded with anger.

Once she made her way outside, cold droplets of rain began to dance along her skin, falling quickly to the ground. The stars were now covered by thick clouds, and the few lights along the street illuminated the misty rain. Taking a large intake of air, she headed for the crosswalk. For the moment, no cars were crowding the streets, allowing for an easy escape.

"Clare, wait." Those two simple words stopped Clare cold in her tracks. She felt paralyzed as the familiar voice, his voice, sent shivers through her whole body. Eli's voice was unmistakable and lovely, but heartbreaking all the same. She knew she had to get out of there and away from him. "Please, just listen to what I have to say."

"What is it?" Turning around, she found him standing a few feet away from her. His hands were jammed in the pockets of his dark jeans, and his black hair was beginning to stick to his face because of the rain. "There really isn't anything to be said, Eli."

"I've been to Hell and back from the time you left me in that hospital room, until this very moment." His tone of voice was no longer controlled, and he looked angry and hurt. Clare felt herself involuntarily cringe, and took a few steps back. "I'm trying to move on...to put my life back together."

"You weren't yourself those last few months we were together. What was I supposed to do? I'm fifteen years old, Eli. I don't know everything, I can't always be expected to say the right things and to know how to handle situations like the ones you put me through."

"Maybe you're right." He was shielding his eyes from Clare, they were purposefully averted away from hers. His voice had gained more control, but it still contained a solemn tone. "I was a little lost, a little messed up. But I told you I loved you, and you rejected me. I needed you. You were the only one who understood what I was going through."

Clare silently observed him for a moment. The way he kept using the past tense made her heart drop. An awkward silence had fallen between them and he appeared defeated and worn out.

"Then why do you act like I no longer exist? You treat me like I never meant anything to you. You can't imagine how that feels." Clare regretted the words as soon as they slipped out. He did know how it felt, he knew exactly how it felt. Clare had pushed him away and told him he was wrong when he claimed they loved each other.

"You did mean something to me then. But it doesn't matter now. I don't have feelings anymore, not for you, not for anyone." He said the words with a monotone voice, he was acting lifeless and stubborn. She couldn't help but wonder why he'd said he didn't feel for anyone. What about Imogen? She thought to herself.

"You're lying." While she spoke, he looked like a vulnerable child standing in front of her. Clare's instincts screamed at her to run to him and embrace him in her arms, but, her logical side got the best of her and she stayed standing where she was. "I know you, Eli. You still feel, you feel everything. No one can completely shut down the way you say you have. This act of yours, I can see right through it."

Without anymore hesitation, Clare turned away from him and crossed the street. She'd been waiting for another break in the flow of traffic, she wanted to escape. Relief flowed through her when she realized that traffic had picked up again once she'd gotten to the other side. He can't follow me now, she thought.

"Damn it, Clare!" He was yelling loud enough so she could hear him over the cars crossing the damp asphalt. He hated that she was running away just as they were beginning to get somewhere. "I didn't erase you from memory. How could you even think that?" It was as if her question from earlier had finally hit him. But his response didn't change anything, Clare didn't slow her pace.

Taking advantage of another break in the traffic, Eli ran across the street, desperate to catch up to her. Swiftly grabbing her wrist from behind he pulled her around to face him, not stopping until she was directly in front of him. He fixed her with his dark, sad eyes. In that moment, Clare realized this scenario had been dancing around in her fantasies for several months now. But standing here now, having to face her emotions, scared her to death.

Eli looked stern, but his features had softened a little more from earlier. It was as if life had crept back into him, he almost looked like himself again; alive and motivated. This was the Eli she remembered.

"Go back in to Imogen, she's probably worrying about you. I have to get home, my mom will be back soon." Clare, after putting her feelings in check, was avoiding the problem. Tonight she'd opened an old wound that she and Eli shared, and she regretted it. Like always, she was going to run away, only to feel like a coward later. They could never talk things through, it was as if a wall blocked any sort of communication between the two of them. Maybe that was the problem.

Suddenly, Eli wrapped his arms around her, and Clare buried her face in his chest. It was an automatic reaction to his touch and it made the pain she was feeling intensify. What is he doing? She asked herself, I thought he didn't want me. The way he held her made it seem as if he never wanted to let go, and it was more than confusing to Clare."Please, Clare. Stop running."

She caught the double meaning in his words right away. He didn't just mean stop running from him at that moment, he meant for her to stop avoiding fights, stop being scared of facing the truth, and to stop running away from her feelings. "Just for one moment, pretend we aren't here right now. Pretend we aren't standing in this downpour, loving other people, hating each other, and missing what could have been. Pretend these past few months never happened."

Eli pulled away so that he could look Clare in the eyes. He gently cupped her face in his hands, lifting her chin up, so their eyes could meet. It was as if electricity shot between them in that moment. "I'm sorry Eli. I never meant-"

He interrupted gently and moved his face toward hers, their foreheads nearly touching. "I'm sorry too."

Wiping away several tears falling from her pale blue eyes, he leaned in to gently brush his lips against hers. The kiss started out light but soon became heady, deep, and passionate.

Pulling away Clare smiled lightly, that's all she could think to do. He felt powerless to do anything but return his crooked smirk right back at her. She was his to love and his to lose. Eli suddenly flashed back to when he'd crashed his hearse out of desperation and then to the moment when Clare had turned away from him when he'd needed her most. The heartbreak...the pain. Always fighting and breaking down when they were at their worst was causing them to drift apart.

Mine to lose, he whispered to himself, soft enough that Clare couldn't hear. He wouldn't lose her again, he couldn't bear it. Being with Clare, feeling her heart beat, hearing her laugh, having her to stand by him through the tribulations of life, was incomparable to anything. Imogen wasn't like Clare, she didn't understand him like Clare did. It was clear now that his attempt at moving on had only numbed the pain of losing Clare.

His hand gently caressed her cheek, his thumb brushed idly over the curve of her cheekbone and she blushed under the intensity of his gaze, "I've never stopped loving you, Clare."

She softly whispered her reply to him, "I miss this, I miss us."

Without hesitation he claimed her lips once again, kissing her with longing and desire and the promise that they belonged only to each other.

While they were lost in their kiss, warm liquid came into contact with Clare's skin. Her heart dropped once she realized tears were dripping from his flawless face, onto her pale cheeks. He was hurting, and she was hurting.

"Don't ever leave me again, please." He said, breaking off their kiss. The pain in his voice echoed through the night, sounding much louder than it really was. Clare felt her chest tighten in response to the pain he was feeling.

Pulling back from him, Clare readjusted herself. Standing on the tips of her toes, she leaned in towards his ear. In a hushed tone she softly whispered to him, "It may have taken me awhile to realize it...but you stole my heart a long time ago, Eli, and I don't want it back. I love you."

To the rest of the world they were just two people kissing slowly in a late summer rain; but, to eachother, they were soulmates finally admitting their undying love for one another.

A/N: I hope you guys enjoyed my oneshot. I was attempting to write something romantic and happy because I miss EClare so much. I wish something like this would actually happen. Clare and Eli better find their way back to each other someday. This is my first fanfiction that I've ever written, by the way! Sorry for any mistakes.

Please review :)

- Amber