Disclaimer: I don't own Degrassi. The title of this fic belongs to Ben Harper. This fic is inspired by the Ryden fic, The Years Won't See It (The Way I Want Them To), which was written by arctic_grey at livejournal.
Author's note: Three part-fic, not sure how long it will take me to update each part. I'm very busy with life, work, school… but this was too much to write in just a one-shot. Thanks for your patience. Also, some dorky references to previous fanfics of mine in this fic. Wink wink.
+ Exactly how much will have to burn, before we will look to the past to learn? +
Clare Edwards has been holding her breath for three seconds, but now she's giggling again, blinking profusely as she offers Eli a defeated smile. Eli laughs, his eyes filled with tenderness and slight mock, and his hand slowly covers hers.
She blushes, shyly sipping on the milkshake they're sharing, and Eli felts how his heart collapses at the sight. He's falling for her, too fast, and he knows it. Yes, Clare agreed to give him space, and yeah, maybe he should wait.
But she makes him want to sing, makes him want to live, and maybe waiting isn't an option anymore.
"Adam looked upset," says Clare worriedly after a few minutes, and Eli busies himself by tracing circles on Clare's hand.
"He'll be fine… I'll talk to him," shrugs Eli, his thumb now grazing Clare's palm.
"We should study at some point," notes Clare happily, removing her hand, and their eyes meet. Eli just smiles at her, not being able to even smirk in Clare's presence, and when Clare reciprocates the smile, he's lost.
He's been fucking lost since the moment they first kissed.
Eli forces himself to glance around while Clare searches through her backpack, and his eyes focus on a young man sitting at the far end. The man is holding a book up to his face, but his eyes are fixed on Eli and Clare.
He looks familiar, Eli thinks, and the man quickly covers his face with the book. Only a mat of messy black hair is visible now, and Eli can't stop staring. The man is wearing dark, skinny jeans, and boots that look eerily similar to the ones Eli is wearing. Eli also sees that the man is wearing a band shirt he doesn't recognize, and he's puzzled.
"What's going on?" asks Clare, and Eli turns to look at her.
"Nothing…" says Eli, clearing his throat. "So… are we studying now?"
"Free Scott Pilgrim!"
Eli quirks an eyebrow at Adam, who seems embarrassed about his sudden outburst. Adam blushes and continues to browse the comic archive, attracting a few curious looks from some kids in the store.
"That was a little enthusiastic," mocks Eli, serenely pulling out a Quicksilver copy from one of the boxes.
"I've been looking for this one for months, Elijah," says Adam, sounding hurt. "You know how much I adore Scott Pilgrim."
"You can find that online for free, Torres," retorts Eli playfully, and Adam scoffs in disdain at his friend's attitude. They pull out more comics, quickly creating a decent-sized pile between them.
The bell announcing a new customer rings, but Eli and Adam stay focused on their comic-book mission. A low, deep voice is heard somewhere within the depths of the store, a voice that Eli has heard before somewhere, and he looks up.
If Eli's not mistaken, it's the same man he saw at The Dot a few days ago.
He's wearing the same clothes, but now a pair of expensive-looking sunglasses cover his eyes. The man is talking to one of the clerks, scratching his chin lazily as he does, and he keeps talking in that low voice of his.
"Are you done?" asks Eli briskly, not knowing why the presence of that stranger bothers him so much.
"No, not-" starts Adam, but Eli grabs the comic books and starts marching off to the register, Adam trailing miserably behind him. Eli throws the novels on the counter, fishing through his pockets to find crumpled bills, and Adam shoves him gently.
"What's with the hurry?" mutters Adam, and another clerk starts checking them out.
Eli looks over his shoulder and the young man is standing right behind them. He's slightly taller than Eli, and so much more intimidating-looking.
"Yeah?" asks Eli cautiously. "Who are you?"
"Can we talk?" the man asks.
"I don't know you," snaps Eli, and Adam grabs him by the sleeve.
"You have to pay," says Adam, and Eli hands the bills to the clerk.
"You do know me," insists the man as Eli grabs the bags with the comics in them, not bothering to take his change with him.
"Dude, back off," says Adam and the man tries to approach them. Eli sees his face up-close for the first time; there are tired lines around his mouth, a scar on his cheek, and his lips are chapped.
Eli has no idea who this man is, but the man certainly seems to know him.
Adam is now the one dragging him away, and there is something about the man's expression of despair that makes Eli feel uneasy, and it's making it harder for Eli to breathe.
They leave the store, and he feels profoundly relieved.
He can't sleep.
He keeps thinking about Clare, about how badly he wants to kiss her. She has intoxicated his mind and soul, and he doesn't want to let go of her. This scares him somehow, because they have only kissed once, for a school project, but still.
It's still too powerful.
And Clare knows about Julia, which is certainly a plus, so maybe it's time to take the next step. He hasn't had a girlfriend for so long, so of course it's nerve-racking to think that he's about to venture into that territory again.
Girlfriend. Clare Edwards as his girlfriend.
He smiles into the pillow as he thinks of taking her out on dates, of holding hands, of kissing her when she doesn't expect it. And it's this last thought that makes his insides churn, because he has missed having physical contact.
Eli knows that Clare made a vow, yeah, he fucking knows that. But that's fine with him; he doesn't want to rush things. But his mind trails off, wondering what Clare's skin feels like, imagining the sounds she makes when she is touched.
Absentmindedly, but surely, Eli's hand brushes the elastic of his boxers, and he slides his hand between the fabric and his skin.
This is wrong, this is so wrong. He shouldn't be thinking of Clare like this. But he can't help it, he's infatuated, and he can only think of her and no one else.
"Fuck," he breathes, stroking himself and closing his eyes.
Eli opens his eyes and the shock of hearing the voice makes him fall out of bed, landing with an unceremonious thud on a pile of old newspapers. He removes his hand from inside his boxers and looks around, eyes adjusting to the dark.
"Who's there?" he asks in fright, his heart throbbing.
Eli reaches for the lamp in his nightstand, the clutter on it making it hard to do so, and the faint light illuminates part of the room.
"Don't scream." It's the man that has been following Eli, and even if Eli wanted to scream, pure terror has closed his throat.
"I'm here for a reason," continues the man, and he removes his sunglasses. There are dark circles under his eyes, and he looks somewhat defeated. "I'm not going to hurt you."
"How did you-" gasps Eli, slowly standing up. "How did you get in here?"
"It doesn't matter," says the man, shaking his head. "What matters is that you need to listen to me."
"Why should I do that?" asks Eli, painfully aware that he's wearing nothing but boxers. "You are obviously insane."
"So are you," deadpans the man, and Eli stops breathing for a second.
"I'm not," whispers Eli, but the piles of stuff surrounding him betray his statement. The man laughs softly, running a hand through his own hair.
"I forgot that I lived in the land of denial," he chuckles, glancing around the room. "This room will look great once you're done with your hoarding issues."
"Sorry?" asks Eli, confused.
"You really don't know who I am, do you," states the man. "You can call me Elliot. That's what I go by now, anyway."
"You talk to me like you know me," says Eli, feeling frustrated. "I have no idea who the fuck you are."
The man takes a few steps, moving closer to Eli. "You need to listen to me," says Elliot, grabbing Eli by the shoulders. His hands feel cold, like sharp knives piercing through Eli's skin, and everything is blurry.
"Fuck off," snarls Eli.
"You need to stop seeing Clare Edwards," says Elliot desperately. "You must end your friendship with her, abandon all hope to ever being with her. You must."
"What- Why?" blurts Eli, and Elliot relaxes his grip.
Elliot gulps, covering his face with his hands and sighing deeply. When he removes his hands from his face, Eli can only see the face of a wounded man, and it scares him.
"If you could stop getting hurt by Clare Edwards, would you do it?" asks Elliot despairingly. "If you could avoid falling in love with her, would you listen to what I have to say? I am your future, and I want to change your past."
Now Eli sees him clearly, and he wants to throw up. It's like looking into a broken, dirty mirror, and it's too much to stomach, because… no. There's no way…
"We are the same person," says Elliot calmly.
"Is this is some sort of sick joke?" blurts Eli, making up his mind to shout for help. Surely his parents will come right away, and this will be over. "This is not fucking Fight Club, all right? Just get out of my room."
"I don't like my life!" protests Elliot loudly. "Our life. You need to change what I did wrong, and you need to… God, you just need to not fall in love with Clare."
"Get out!" yells Eli, and Elliot takes two steps back.
"You don't believe me," smirks Elliot. "I knew this would happen."
And the smirk is too similar to Eli's, and the green eyes are just the same, and it's just too much. Eli tries to reach for the baseball bat next to his nightstand, but he feels lightheaded, and suddenly, he sees no more.