Summary: "Can I stay here tonight? With you?"

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

Author's Note: Enjoy!

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Finding Solace
By: Lady Azura

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Something was wrong.

Eli knew it from the moment she walked into the classroom. Her eyes were downcast as she mumbled an apology to Ms. Dawes for being late, and as she did so, it quickly dawned on him.

Clare Edwards was never late.

He'd known her for over a year and in all that time, she'd never once been tardy. She thrived on being punctual, always seated at her desk with her books out before class even started. Being late was completely unlike her, and as he watched Ms. Dawes give her a sympathetic look and write up a detention slip, Clare's face remained blank. Without a word or even a glance at him or Adam, she took her seat.

Ms. Dawes resumed teaching, but Eli couldn't concentrate. Try as he might, he just couldn't shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong, and what made matters worse was that he couldn't do a damn thing. It was no longer his place to pry. Just before school had let out, they had finally come to a mutual understanding. They had been back at square one, trying to figure out how to rebuild their friendship, and for a while things seemed to be moving along smoothly with frequent visits to Adam's house and "coffee dates" at the Dot discussing Palahniuk just like they used to.

Then, slowly, they started spending less and less time hanging out. At first, he'd chalked it up to Clare being too caught up in her mother's wedding, but his gut told him it was something more. Everything had been fine until two weeks ago, when they (and some of their other classmates) met up at Jake's cabin for one last get together before summer ended. What had started out as a fun camping trip ended in disaster and, unsurprisingly, drama. He heard from Marisol that Jake and Alli had been fooling around the entire trip, sneaking off and stealing kisses when no one was looking, and that Clare had caught them. His first instinct was to comfort her, but she'd locked herself in her room and Bianca, who had been bunking with her, refused to let anyone in.

Staring at the back of her head, Eli furrowed his brow.

Was she upset about that? Then again, he couldn't blame her. If Adam had gone behind his back and kissed Clare after their break up, he'd have felt betrayed too. Peering over his shoulder, he looked at his best friend, who simply shrugged, apparently just as confused as him.

With a defeated sigh, Eli turned his attention back to Ms. Dawes.

oOo

"Nothing's wrong, Eli. I'm fine. Quit being such a worrywart."

Clare's words echoed in the back of his mind as he stared up at his ceiling, his arms folded behind his head. After class, he'd managed to confront her, but she'd insisted she was fine and that he was just being paranoid. But Eli wasn't stupid; he saw right through her fake, reassuring smile. Unfortunately, before he could call her bluff, their conversation was cut short by the bell and she slipped away.

A sudden knock at the door jarred Eli from his reverie. Sitting up, he glanced at the clock, his brows knitting together when he saw that it was almost nine. It couldn't be Adam; Mrs. Torres had a strict curfew on her sons, and Adam wasn't about to get himself grounded after being cooped up for half the summer. Making his way out of his room and down the hall, he headed for the front door. When he opened it, however, he was surprised to find Clare of all people standing before him, soaked and shivering from the rain.

"Clare?"

Clare said nothing as she stepped forward, wrapping her arms around his torso and pressing her face into his chest. Eli stiffened at first, but once the shock wore off he wrapped his arms around her in return, pulling her inside and closing the door behind them. He kept her close as he led her to his room, trying to warm her up, and after sitting her down, he went to his parents' room. He emerged a few minutes later with some of Cece's clothes.

Clare hadn't moved an inch. She remained sitting on the edge of his bed, lifting her head weakly when she heard him come in, and when he saw her Eli drew in a sharp breath.

It was then that he noticed just how alarmingly pale she was. The dark circles under her eyes were more prominent than they had been at school; it looked like she hadn't slept in days. She was almost… lifeless.

"Clare… talk to me. Tell me what's wrong." He pleaded.

"I'm tired, Eli…" she murmured, her voice raspy. "I can't do this."

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Eli made his way over to the bed and sat down beside her. "What do you mean?"

"My mom's getting married… my ex-boyfriend is dating my ex-best friend… and don't get my started on my dad." She took a deep breath before continuing. "He left, Eli. He said… he said he wanted to start over and he… just left." She let out a bitter laugh, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand and smearing her mascara even more. "I don't have a dad anymore, Eli. And my mom… all she cares about is this stupid wedding!" Her voice rose with anger, but she caught herself, and took another deep breath before turning to him. "I'm so selfish, Eli. I want to be happy for her, but I can't be." She shook her head furiously, damp curls sticking to her face. "I'm a horrible daughter… I'm stupid and selfish and -"

"Clare… no… no." Eli cut her off, grasping her shoulders firmly. "You are the most selfless, compassionate person I've ever met, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Clare looked at him with disbelieving eyes.

"How can you say that?" She whispered. "After everything I did to you…"

"I was sick, Clare. I wasn't helping." Eli said.

"But I promised not to leave you and I did. And then I paraded Jake around in front of you and -" she broke off, clamping a hand over her mouth to muffle the sob threatening to escape. Her body shook, and Eli could feel his throat tightening.

Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her into a comforting embrace as Clare finally came undone, clinging to him like a lifeline.

"Just let it out…" He murmured, rubbing her back. He wished his mother was home. She was far better at comforting than he was. "Let it all out. I'm here for you, Clare… I'm not going anywhere…"

After about ten minutes, Clare's sobs dissolved into small whimpers and sniffles, and she pulled back slightly, looking at him strangely.

Before Eli could react, her lips were on his.

.

.

.

He'd missed her kisses. It had been so long since he'd felt her lips against his, and he couldn't get enough. He kissed her back; against his better judgement and the voice in the back of his head telling him that she wasn't in her right mind, he kissed her back. It was heated and passionate and unlike any kiss they'd ever shared before, filled with anguish and sorrow and guilt, but also so much more. Teeth clashed and tongues fought for dominance as they surrendered to their deepest desires.

They parted momentarily for air, and Clare seized the opportunity to force him onto his back, swinging her leg over his hip. Her khaki skirt rose up in the process, but she didn't care. Her lips found his neck, kissing and nipping and sucking greedily, eliciting pleased groans from the dark-haired boy beneath her.

Reaching around her, Eli fumbled with the zipper on the back of her skirt, tugging at it with little success before simply reversing their positions and hitching her legs around his waist. Clare gasped, gazing up at him with wide blue eyes clouded with lust. Daringly, she lifted her hips and started to grind against him. Eli moaned, his jeans growing uncomfortably tight. Clare's swollen lips curled into a smirk that rivalled his, and before Eli could register what had happened, she'd managed to flip them over once more. Straddling him, she pulled her red polo over her head and tossed it aside before swooping down and capturing his lips in a bruising kiss. As her tongue invaded his mouth, she moved against him deliberately, making both teenagers moan.

Sitting up, Clare all but ripped open his shirt, dragging her nails down his chest. Eli clenched his jaw with a hiss, and Clare smirked, before sliding down his body. She kept her gaze locked on his as she unbuckled his belt and unfastened his jeans, before reaching out and tracing the bulge in his boxers with her fingertips. A deep, guttural moan rippled from the back of Eli's throat and he stared at her in shock. Before he could protest, however, she dipped her hand inside, touching him for the first time.

"Clare!" He cried, swallowing back a moan as her dainty fingers curled around him and squeezed.

"Am I doing it right?" She asked, moving her hand up and down.

"C-Clare… fuck…" He breathed, pleasure coursing through his body.

After a few more strokes, Clare withdrew her hand and crawled back on top of him, leaning down and tracing the shell of his ear with her tongue.

"Take me, Eli." She whispered, tugging at his cartilage piercing with her teeth. "Make me yours."

Eli swallowed hard, before nodding slowly. Rolling over, he reached into his bedside table while Clare discarded the rest of her clothing and laid back. His hands shook as he put the condom on; it'd been so long since the last time he'd had sex. Once it was on, he knelt between Clare's legs. A part of him wanted to take his time; to worship her beautiful body, but Clare was impatient, hooking her legs around him and bringing him closer. His lips brushed against hers sweetly as he pressed the tip of his arousal against her, hesitating for a moment.

"Please… I need this, Eli…" Clare begged. "I want this. I want you."

That was all the answer Eli needed as he pushed into her, breaking her barrier and causing her to cry out in pain. Tears welled up in her eyes and a whimper fell from her lips, making Eli's heart ache. After about a minute or so, she seemed to relax somewhat.

"N-now." She breathed, lifting her hips.

Eli shuddered. Murmuring sweet nothings to her, he began to move — slowly at first, trying to ease her into it, but it wasn't long before Clare began to meet his gentle thrusts.

Soft sighs and moans echoed throughout his room as their bodies moved in sync with one another. His whole body shook as he neared the edge, his thrusts growing more frantic and desperate. Clare gasped, tilting her head back and arching her back, her legs tightening around him. "Eli!"

Eli buried his face in the crook of her neck, shuddering as he came.

They lay panting for what seemed like an eternity, before Eli slowly pulled out of her. Peeling the condom off, he threw it in the trash before collapsing beside her, breathing heavily. As he came down from his high, however, realization struck, and the gravity of the situation came crashing down.

His stomach churned with guilt as he turned to look at her.

"Clare, I…"

"Don't." Clare cut him off, and to his surprise, she curled into him, resting her head on his chest. "I wanted this."

His eyes fluttered as her fingertips danced across his skin.

"Can I stay here tonight?" She asked quietly, lifting her head. "With you?"

Eli nodded. "Y-yeah. Of course."

Clare smiled weakly, taking left hand and lacing their fingers together.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"For what?" He asked.

"For everything." She said, before leaning up and bringing her lips to his.

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FIN

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Okay, so my brain is officially dead right now. I'm so tired. Hopefully, you all enjoyed.

Please REVIEW and tell me what you think!