Disclaimer: I do not own Degrassi. The title of this fic belongs to Roddy Woomble. (And you should go listen to that song right now)
+ And you can only hear when I shout your name out+
The thing is, it's not that easy to start where they left off.
It's complicated, and messy, and it makes him shake like hell. But they're both sitting here, all smiles and all silences, trying to figure out what to do. Eli grabs the salt shaker cautiously, as if any sudden movement might wake him up from this slightly awkward dream.
This is not their first date, of course not. But it's their first date since the Frostival, and it feels like it's the beginning of something. Eli can't pinpoint what it is, but that something is making his blood feel warmer, is making his heart feel alive.
"So-" blurts Clare.
"Um-" stammers Eli at the same time.
They laugh nervously, because they can't speak. When did they start to have a loss for words? Eli can't help but think that many things have changed, things that he can't control. And that familiar sense of anguish takes ahold of him, causing him to stare at his plate.
"You go first," says Clare, and Eli can almost hear the sound of Clare's cheeks turning red. It sounds like a sweet melody, a melody he hasn't forgotten.
"I'm sure that what you have to say is way more important," says Eli politely. He sneaks a glance at Clare, who is definitely blushing her heart out, and a small smirk appears on his lips.
"Not really," admits Clare. "I just wanted to break the silence."
Eli laughs, relieved this time, thankful for Clare's sudden honesty. "Why is this so awkward?" sighs Eli, closing his eyes for a split second. "Messed-up? Intense? Yeah, that was us. But never awkward."
"Unless you count the days after the break-up," points out Clare.
"That wasn't awkwardness, that was... I don't know what that was," muses Eli.
"I'm so sorry... for all of that," mumbles Clare.
"And that's apology number 128," sneers Eli. "Seriously, if we are going to spend the rest of our lives apologizing to each other, I don't know if I can do this."
"Okay, last time," smiles Clare. "I'm so sorry, Eli."
Eli grins warmly at her, their eyes meeting.
"I'm sorry too."
"I disagree! Damned is perfect, it's vintage Palahniuk, it's..."
"No, Eli. Your love for him blinds you. It's very... generic."
Eli puts his hand on his chest as they try to dodge the crowd on the sidewalk, mockingly adopting an expression of hurt.
"Generic?" gasps Eli melodramatically. "Did you just call Palahniuk generic? Edwards, what has happened to you?"
Clare laughs loudly, almost bumping into an old couple. Eli chuckles as Clare apologizes profusely, and shakes his head when she catches up with him.
"Shut up," snaps Clare playfully.
"What? I'm not saying anything," teases Eli as they start walking side by side.
"Why is it so crowded?" complains Clare.
"Mmm, I don't know, Saturday night?" says Eli sarcastically, earning a punch in the arm. "Ouch!"
"Jerk." But Eli can see that Clare doesn't mean it, and he gulps anxiously, feeling a little uneasy.
"May I...?" he asks tentatively, brushing the back of Clare's hand with his.
"What?" asks Clare, her blue eyes filled with that curiosity he had missed so much. He slowly wraps his index finger around Clare's thumb, his heart beating rapidly. Clare's expression softens, bringing a smile to her lips that Eli had never seen before, and she slowly slides her fingers between his.
He feels the cold purity ring scorching his hand, and he realizes that not many things have changed after all.
"I-" Clare stops, as if thinking better.
"What?" inquires Eli. Clare has been strangely silent on their way back to her house, and Eli fears that she might be reconsidering everything. But no, she can't. Not possible. They had such a great time, unless... Unless she is just being nice to him, unless...
"I was going to say that I miss Morty," squeaks Clare.
"And then I thought that... it's kind of my fault that he... well," Clare squeezes Eli's hand, her tone reeking of guilt.
"Did you crash the hearse?" asks Eli shortly.
"Then you're not to blame," shrugs Eli. "I am. And I don't want you to think that my breakdown was your fault. There were many issues I should have resolved before dating you."
Clare nods silently, but she still seems sad. Eli stops walking, and so does Clare, the faint light of the lamppost barely illuminating them.
"We're teenagers," continues Eli as he lets go of Clare's hand, slowly placing his hands on her waist. "We don't know how to handle things. You didn't. I didn't."
"But I always thought I was more mature than most people my age," says Clare wretchedly, not looking at him. "I... I'm not. I really messed up, didn't I?"
"I don't think you did," says Eli slowly. "You had a reaction. That reaction hurt me, but in the end, it worked out all right. Right?"
Clare smiles again, and looks at him. "We're standing here."
"We are." Eli puts one of his hands on the small of Clare's back, pulling her closer to him. He brushes Clare's cheek with his other hand, enjoying the warmth of Clare's skin against his.
"I'm really scared," whispers Clare. "I want this to work out."
"I can't guarantee anything," admits Eli as Clare wraps her arms around his neck. "I can't promise that everything will be easy and amazing... I just can't. But I can promise you that I will fight for this relationship, because I love you."
"I love you too," breathes Clare, her lips teasing Eli's. "I never really stopped. I just wanted to think I did."
Eli sighs, understanding why Clare did some of the things she did. Why she tried so hard to become someone else. It wasn't only because of him, he knows that. It's because of everything that happened to her, everything became suddenly unbearable.
And he knows what that feels like.
They stand there for a moment, enjoying their proximity, listening to the cars driving by. Clare starts smiling, even though Eli has his eyes closed, he can feel her smiling, and he smiles back.
"Yes?" he asks, eyes still closed.
"I'm just wondering if you're ever going to kiss me again," says Clare cheekily.
"I was waiting for you to ask," replies Eli, as sardonic as ever.
"So you've said," he says breathlessly before finally kissing her.
The thing is, it's not that easy to start where they left off.
But Eli knows they'll figure it out.