DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.
Twitter: themusiksnob / Tumblr: musiksnob
Welcome to my new chapter fic. This one will be a little bit lighter than my previous chapter fics. I wanted to explore Eli and Clare about two years from the present season and figure out how they would end up falling in love again.
This is set at University of Toronto, but it's completely fictionalized, because I know nothing about the school and there's only so much I can figure out from their website.
"Come on, slow poke," Jake teased as I stopped to catch my breath on the landing despite the line of people following me up the stairs. "It's only the fourth floor."
"And it's my tenth trip up to it," I grumbled. It wouldn't have been so bad but I was carrying my heavy laptop bag, a backpack full of literary anthologies and a light but extremely awkward pole lamp.
Jake took pity on me and took the lamp out of my hands, continuing up taking the stairs two at a time. I followed slowly, glad this was the last trip. We arrived at my dorm room and found Mom and Glen talking to a girl who must be my new roommate. We'd been given a 12:00 move in time, but when we made the first trip up, we'd found all of her stuff was already in the room and unpacked. The beds were stacked and she'd already claimed the top bunk.
"Hi!" she chirped once she saw me. "You must be Clare! I'm Mikayla!" She threw her arms around me and I could see Jake smirking at me over her shoulder.
"Hi," I said with decidedly less enthusiasm. I'd received the letter naming her as my roommate about a month ago and she'd tracked me down on Facerange. I couldn't believe that her penchant for following statements with exclamations points actually extended to the real world.
"Mikayla brought a mini-fridge," Mom said with a friendly smile. "Isn't that nice, Clare?"
"Yeah, thanks," I said, turning toward the bag I'd left on my unmade bottom bunk so I could roll my eyes without them noticing.
"If you need to leave, I can help Clare unpack," Mikayla said sweetly. "My parents left about an hour ago, since they have a five hour drive back to Ottawa."
"Oh no," Glen drawled. "We're right across the city. It's not a problem." He picked up the small duffle bag that I was pretty sure was filled with nothing but bras and underwear and I snatched it out of his hand. I'd grown to accept Mom and Glen's relationship, especially since she had finally listened to my words of concern and postponed the wedding for a year to make certain she wasn't rushing into things – but even after a year of living under one roof, I was not letting my new stepdad unpack my underwear.
Jake seemed to pick up on my discomfort. "Why don't we let Clare get set up on her own?"
Mom didn't look convinced. "There's no need for that. We can help out," she reached for a box of books I'd left on my desk chair.
"Mom," I said, wanting this awkward moment to be over with as soon as possible. "I can handle it."
She pursed her lips and nodded, walking over to pull me into a hug. "I can't believe my baby girl is in university. I'm gonna miss you so much."
"Me too," I said. "But I'm coming home in a week for your Labour Day barbeque, so you can't really miss me that much."
She laughed and pulled back just a little, wiping a tear from her eye. "Be good," she warned. "And call me all the time."
Glen gave me a halfhearted wave. "Good luck, Clare Bear," he said, and I fought the urge to wince at the nickname my father had given me as a child.
Jake smirked and ruffled my hair. "See you later, little sis." I rolled my eyes as he followed our parents out the door. It had been awkward in the beginning but by the time our parents had gotten married, we'd long gotten over our puppy love crushes on each other and had become real friends. I didn't appreciate just how quickly he'd taken on the condescending, overprotective brother role – especially since I had a sister just like that even if Darcy hadn't come home from Kenya in four years.
Mikayla watched my family leave, her eyes lingering on Jake's backside. "Is that your brother? Oh. My. God. He is so hot!"
Ugh. "He's my stepbrother."
She laughed. "Ahh, so you aren't related. You could totally hit that."
I grimaced, realizing that I could never tell this girl that I had in fact dated him two years ago before our parents got married. "Gross," I said, as I looked around the piles of boxes, trying to figure out what to unpack first. "He's got a girlfriend anyway," I lied, not wanting her to get any ideas about him. Jake dated a lot of girls but he'd never turned into the boyfriend type, and if she did hook up with him, our rooming situation could get even uglier.
"I've got a boyfriend. Doesn't mean I can't look." Mikayla flopped onto my bed. "I'm glad your parents are gone. I need a cigarette." She pulled one out of a pack from her pocket and I looked at her in alarm.
"You're not going to smoke that in here, are you?" Smoking wasn't allowed in the dorms, but even if it was, there was no way I was going to put up with that.
She gave me a disappointed look. "No, I'm going outside." She walked to the door but turned back to me before exiting. "Don't move any of my stuff."
Great. I thought perky princess was bad enough, but it seemed when parents weren't around Mikayla just turned into a bitch. I found the box that contained my bedding, frowning at the bunk beds. If we had to have bunk beds, I was glad she'd taken the top but I knew I was just clumsy enough that I'd smack my head every morning when my alarm went off.
I had the bed all set up and I was starting to put my clothes into the empty dresser when she returned. "Look who I found!" she said, and I turned to find Jake trailing sheepishly behind her.
"You forgot this," he said, holding out the blanket I must have left on the front seat of his truck.
"Thanks," I said, nodding toward the door. He was oblivious to my gesture.
"So Clare, Jake and his girlfriend just broke up. I guess he forgot to tell you."
There was no hiding it anymore. I shot him a death glare. "That's too bad," I said through gritted teeth. "I'm sure you're very hurt. You'll probably want to be alone for a while."
"Oh, that's such bad advice," she said, moving closer to Jake. "You've got to get right back into the game."
Mikayla was tall and blonde and very pretty and considering I didn't think Jake spent very much time talking to the girls he went out with, she was pretty much exactly his type. "Is that how you met your boyfriend, Mikayla?" I asked sweetly.
Her lips tightened and she took a step back. "Not exactly," she said, and I could tell she'd underestimated me. But she covered her tracks, forcing a bubbly expression back onto her face. "I can't wait for you to meet him. He lives in Ottawa, but he promised me he'd drive down to spend every weekend with me. You're gonna love him."
Every weekend? So not only did I have to put up with Mikayla, but her boyfriend too? Jake couldn't help but laugh at the expression on my face, but when she glanced at him, he covered it with a cough.
"I should really get going. Dad and Helen are waiting," he said, even though we'd taken two cars and I was sure they'd left already. He came over and gave me a hug so he could whisper in my ear. "You can't have your room back. I've already moved all my stuff in."
I pushed him away. He'd spent the past year in the tiny room that my Dad had used as an office, commuting to the local community college so he could take some business classes in hopes of taking over Glen's construction business in a few years. But when I'd decided to live in residence, they had convinced me to let him have my old room.
He walked out chuckling, but a second later, he turned hysterical. "Clare," I heard him call. "Come out here."
I found him practically doubled over, right outside my room. He gestured at the door directly across the hall. It, like the other doors on our floor, had a nameplate made from an old CD with a name scribbled on in Sharpie and Glitter pen. The two on our door said "Clare" and "Mikayla."
This one said "Elijah."
"Look," Jake laughed. "Your ex is stalking you."
I punched Jake in the arm. "You're an ass," I said. "Eli goes to college in Vancouver."
Jake started walking backwards down the hall, still laughing at me. "Just be careful, Clare. You may have a weakness for boys named Elijah."
"Shut up," I said, unable to come up with a witty retort. Jake kept walking, shooting a flirty hello to an attractive brunette as he left me alone, staring at the door.
I couldn't hope but help that the Elijah that lived across the hall from me was ugly and mean and hated puppies and majored in Economics or Chemistry. There was only one Eli that had been in my life, and I was happy to keep it that way.
We had spent the first semester of his senior year avoiding each other, until Adam had sat us down and told us he was tired of having to hang out with each of us separately. We'd agreed to a few Misfits movie dates, and when they went okay, we started having lunch as a group at the Dot. By March, Eli and I had even hung out a few times on our own, and I was starting to wonder if maybe something might happen between us again.
I hadn't had much hope; I knew he was going to UBC for university, and that long distance relationships didn't work under the best of circumstances. But I couldn't hope but wish that our flirty friendship would turn into something more. Then all of a sudden, it was like Eli didn't want to have anything to do with me. It was fine if we were with Adam, but whenever I asked him to get ice cream or coffee, he'd always have plans with Imogen or Fiona.
When I confronted him – not letting on that I'd been having romantic feelings for him again, he told me that things were fine and we were friends, but he seemed a little too happy with himself – as if he'd made it his mission to get me interested in him again and was only too pleased to shoot me down. The final straw was when he invited Imogen to prom as his date. I'd been hoping he'd take me – just as a friend, but he clearly had feelings for her that went beyond that. It was too much to handle and I stopped calling him, spending the summer before my Grade 12 year getting ready for Mom and Glen's Labour Day wedding and trying to pretend that Eli Goldsworthy didn't exist.
Two years later, and it still hurt that he hadn't called me either. We hadn't said a word to each other since his graduation, where Cece had forced us into a photo together and I'd given him a polite "Congratulations."
But I was eighteen now. I was a college student and I was here to get an education. I was leaving the boy drama behind me in high school.
I took one final look at the nameplate before turning back to my room. Evil troll, I repeated to myself. He'll be an evil troll and I won't fall in love with him. I entered the room and found Mikayla looking through my box of DVDs, leaving me with one final wicked thought:
Maybe he'll be so evil I could set him up with my roommate.