Disclaimer: I do not own Degrassi.
A/N: Was listening to The Engine Driver by The Decemberists, and I don't know, I had to write it. And thanks to musiksnob for being an inspiration.
+ And I am a writer, writer of fictions, I am the heart that you call home+
Clare wrinkles her nose as the snow starts falling around her, and she takes a deep breath as she contemplates what her life has become. No, she never expected this to happen, not like this.
Now she's all alone. Just a couple of years ago she had friends. Just a few months ago she had a boyfriend. Then another boyfriend. So many things have changed, and she hates it. This isn't her, she's not the kind of girl who changes overnight, and yet... she did.
She sighs, glancing at the almost-frozen book that lies on her lap. Attempting to read John Green's An Abundance of Katherines didn't help her get out of her misery. And sitting on this picnic table isn't helping either.
A small smile appears on Clare's lips as she remembers the first kiss she shared with Eli. She remembers how her fingertips were tingling, her breath rushed, her cheeks red. She remembers the ever-lasting anticipation, the subdued want lingering on her lips as Eli leaned in. Clare smiles again when she recalls the warmth, the warmth of Eli's lips on hers, and how she didn't want to let go of him.
Her face is now warm, and she looks around, wondering if anyone has noticed. Clare feels the snowflakes melting on her skin, and she sighs again, sadly this time. She opens the book as the streetlights flicker on, and a few brave joggers pass her by, not minding the snow.
She doesn't like being alone. And for the very first time in her life, she is.
Clare closes the book, and a note slides from between its pages, landing on the frozen grass. She picks it up, her heart skipping when she recognizes Eli's writing on it. She remembers Eli writing the note after borrowing the book, handing it to her in his trademark smug fashion. But she never read it, because Eli proceeded to kiss her, taking her breath away like he always did. And a few weeks later, everything fell apart.
She realizes she hasn't read this book since they broke up, and she feels hesitant as she starts reading.
I couldn't finish it, but I will borrow it again and give it a second chance. You need to read more Palahniuk, Edwards. I still love you, though.
The note feels suddenly heavy in her hand, bringing her heart down with it. Clare tucks the note inside her pocket, and continues to stare at the snow.
He has been thinking of Clare all day, and he doesn't know why. Maybe it's because of his daily examination of conscience, which he is addicted to.
Eli continues walking, his hands deep into his pockets as he curses the fact that he didn't wear gloves. He just wanted to step out, to stop feeling constantly observed by his parents and friends. It's as if he's a ticking time bomb, and he would love if they stopped staring at him like that.
But after what he's done, it's not surprising that they act like zealous guardians.
Eli wonders what would have happened if Clare had stayed. He would probably have ended up worse. Probably. Or maybe he would have recovered faster. He shakes his head because he knows he need to stop with the hypothetical questions.
What happened with Clare is over. It ended the moment she wanted distance from him. He has definitely accepted that he will never have her back, but the questions will always linger.
The snow is making funny sounds underneath the weight of his boots, and he smiles when he sees kids throwing snowballs at each other. He feels lighter as he walks into the park, glancing around to see the people who are enjoying the snow as much as he is. Eli shivers, digging his hands deeper into his pockets, when he sees her.
Clare is sitting all by herself, a book in her hands. She is sitting at the very place where they first kissed. And even though that kiss was meant to be a "fake" kiss, it meant everything to Eli. He recalls how nervous he was, how his brain was screaming that kissing Clare Edwards was a terrible idea, how he followed his heart.
And now his brain is telling him to walk away, to leave, to escape. It's telling him that speaking to Clare right now is borderline suicide, that they aren't meant to be friends. They can't be.
But his heart is beating fast, almost painfully, and its begging Eli to talk to her. To ask if there's something wrong. Because Clare looks miserable, and the expression on her face mirrors the one Eli wore every day a few months ago.
Clare feels all alone.
Clare says nothing as Eli sits next to her, and there is complete silence between them. Eli suddenly hums under his breath, the melody strangely soothing, and Clare can't help but smile. Eli takes the book from her hands, flipping through the pages without interest. She looks at him, and they exchange meaningful looks.
Eli hands the book back to her, still humming, and he leans against the table. He looks up, snowflakes falling on his face, and he stops humming.
"No stars tonight," says Eli quietly.
"Clouds," explains Clare, aware that Eli knows this.
"Ah," notes Eli, and closes his eyes.
Clare waits for him to say something else, but he doesn't. She looks up, blinking as the snowflakes get in her eyes, and she hastily wipes them with her sleeve.
"You should probably go home," says Eli, turning to look at her. "The snow is picking up."
"And leave you here to become a snowman?" teases Clare. "I think I will stay."
"Concerned?" smirks Eli. "I'm flattered."
Clare chuckles as their eyes meet, and they smile at each other. "Can't believe you're still reading that," says Eli, pointing at the book.
"Excuse me, it's a really good book," says Clare, mockingly defensive. "You should give it another try, book snob. It's not my fault that you enjoy severely dysfunctional books."
"We are what we read," says Eli in a serious tone.
"No, sorry, I didn't mean that-" starts Clare apologetically.
"I'm joking," laughs Eli, carefully placing his hand on Clare's knee. He quickly takes his hand away, looking slightly uncomfortable. "Um. Yeah. I was joking."
Clare can feel how his hand left a burn on her knee, and she is blushing like she hasn't in a long time.
They're sitting in silence again, but it's a different kind of silence. It's the silence that Eli used to enjoy so much while they were dating; the understanding silence. He grabs the book again, this time actually paying attention to the pages, and he feels how Clare is moving closer to him.
Eli grins, his eyes still on the book. "I'm reading," he says.
"You can keep it," says Clare softly. "I've read it way too many times."
"Tempting," says Eli as he marks the page with his finger. He looks at Clare, gulping down all the things he really wants to say. "But you would never get it back."
"Why?" frowns Clare.
"Because... we would never have a moment like this again," says Eli, choosing his words carefully. "It's not like we hang out every day. We rarely talk at school."
"Oh. Right." Clare seems upset about this.
"I will get it at the library," says Eli, trying to lighten the mood. "Or even buy it. I will have to request a paper bag, though, so people can't see what I'm purchasing."
"You're a jerk," giggles Clare. "You won't have to do that, you can borrow the book. I'll make sure you give it back to me."
"Sounds like a threat," says Eli.
"It is," smiles Clare.
Eli glances at his watch, and realizes that his parents are probably freaking out about his whereabouts. Clare notices this, and she starts to stand up.
"It's getting late, huh," she mumbles.
"Yeah, um... thanks for the book," says Eli, standing up as well.
Clare nods, and they just awkwardly look at each other, very much like they did after they first kissed. And that's when Eli realizes that his feelings haven't changed a bit since that day.
"We have to do this again," says Clare suddenly.
"Yeah, absolutely," nods Eli, and he takes a step back, ready to walk away.
"Wait." Clare wraps her arms around his neck, placing a small kiss on his cheek. She smells the same, her lips feel the same, and Eli closes his eyes as Clare's lips linger on his skin.
"I miss you, Eli," whispers Clare into his ear as Eli slowly hugs her back.
They're just holding on to each other, the hug saying what they're both afraid of saying, saying the apologies they can't bring themselves to utter at the moment.
The snow keeps falling, but they don't move.