AUTHOR'S NOTE: OH MY GOSH! You Guys! This is my 200th story since joining Fanfiction in the summer of 2006! I am so excited/happy/elated/stunned/amazed/proud. Like, I know I don't finish most of the stories I have written, but I am finishing these Eclare stories and love it! I love getting back into writing after taking a short hiatus for a bit. Oh, I am so happy! 200? Really? Like…wow! Haha now about this story! It's slightly AU and, of course, I do not own Degrassi. Please enjoy and please review! Reading your reviews just makes me so happy! I am so amazed that someone (not just someone but people, lots of people actually) do find my writing worth reading, and to me, that's just mindblowing haha but please read and review, and most importantly, ENJOY! Yours truly!

Love, and Other Four Letter Words

CHAPTER ONE:

Clare Edwards walked into Journalism the first day of school not knowing what to expect. Since last year, with Eli helping her more and more with her writing, she suddenly became obsessed with her newfound hobby. She loved to write, and had decided that signing up for the journalism class would be a fun elective. After all, she could write pieces for the school paper and articles for the yearbook. She could hardly wait. And then she saw him.

He was sitting in the last row, his Converse sneakers stained with Lord knows what were propped up on the chair in front of him. He was smacking gum, and smirking when he saw her. Clare inwardly cringed. Of course, she would be in a class with Eli Goldsworthy. They hadn't spoken since the breakup, which was back before summer. It was weird, seeing as they had been so close, not to speak to him. Apparently the breakup had been hard on him. He had totally jumped off the deep end – not that it was a far jump for him – and spiraled downwards. He abused his antidepressants and became violent and dangerous to himself and others. To be honest, he really frightened her.

According to Adam (Eli would probably kill them both if he knew they still talked), Eli had started seeing a therapist, was back on a normal medication schedule, and was doing lots better. He was getting more and more involved with the local theater, and seemed to be happy. Clare was glad to hear that, but it still hurt knowing that they could be fine (well, for the most part) without each other.

She was dating Jake and Eli was popping around with Imogen, and Clare had no idea where that was going other than when she passed them in the hall that morning, Eli had automatically thrown his arm around Imogen who giggled and drank it up.

And there he sat – staring right at her, those green eyes piercing through her. Clare felt her skin crawl with that stare. Part of her wondered what would happen if she sat down right next to him, or in front of him. An evil thought popped into her head. She hadn't spoken to Eli in ages. She had no idea where, exactly, they stood. Where they – could they – be friends again? She decided to test out her little theory, and chose to sit right in front of him.

"Move your feet off my chair, please," she said, as she would to anyone else. No emotion, no connection. Eli was just another person.

Eli Goldsworthy sighed, took his feet off her chair, and gestured towards it with his hands, "Your throne, your highness."

Clare sat down without another word to him, and tidily pulled out her purple notebook, her matching purple binder, and her matching purple pen. Eli rolled his eyes; she always had to be so…orderly. Everything had to match and go together and be completely organized. Clare didn't like mess.

Eli was a mess.

He smirked and decided to conduct a little experiment of his own. He missed talking to her, and yelling was better than not talking, right? So, Eli promptly gave the back of Clare's chair a good kick. She lurched forward, and cleared her throat before quietly re-adjusting her chair into its proper position. Eli stifled a chuckle. Oh, she made a huge mistake by sitting in front of him, that was for sure. He was going to definitely enjoy himself.

I wonder how long it will take her before she finally changes seats, Eli mused, maybe just today if I keep it up. But then again, I don't want to go too overboard. It might not be too bad having her sitting here. I can definitely have fun with this…

Clare sighed and flipped her notebook open to the first page. She scribbled the date in the top right corner and waited for the bell to ring and for class to start. Maybe once their teacher began lecture, Eli would finally just leave her alone. Ha, Clare rolled her eyes, yeah right. He's enjoying himself. He loves watching me squirm. Maybe he missed me…or at least, he missed picking on me to no end. I hope class gets started soon.

Her wish came true. Their teacher, a new teacher to Degrassi, stood at the front of the classroom and wrote his name on the board just as the bell tolled. "Mr. Larson."

"Hello class," Mr. Larson cleared his throat and straightened his tie, "My name is Mr. Larson, and this is my first year teaching at Degrassi. I taught at West Briar before transferring here, and look forward to being at this school. I've heard great things."

"Just don't get near Eli," someone in the second row said, "cross him, and he might knife you."

"Fritz brought the knife," Clare spoke up, "he didn't have anything to do with that. Besides, he wouldn't hurt anyone."

Where did that come from, Eli's eyes were wide, and wished he could just melt into a puddle like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, when everyone turned around to stare at him. A whole summer had gone by, and still he couldn't shake that reputation. No one wanted to cross him – not after the drama he had been tied up in last year, and his temper. Adam was the only one who really talked to him. Adam and Imogen. Imogen was weird too. A loner. They fit in quite well.

"Ah-hem," Mr. Larson cleared his throat, "let's get back on track here. I know you all think you have this class pegged to a 't.' You think we are going to write articles for the newspaper and put together a yearbook, right? Well, I have something different up my sleeve. How many of you have ever heard of a V-YB?"

No one said anything.

Mr. Larson looked around, sighed, and continued, "A V-YB stands for Video Yearbook and we are going to be putting together the first ever V-YB for Degrassi!"

"Um, excuse me," a girl in the first row raised her hand, "What exactly is a Video Yearbook?"

"Well," Mr. Larson continued, "a V-YB is a compilation of video footage taken throughout the school year and put together on to DVDs. At the end of the school year, we will be selling these DVDs after a special screening of the DVD in the auditorium. You all will be partnered up and given video cameras. You will use these cameras to capture random moments throughout the year. You will also be given a list, on that list is a name of students. It's your job to make sure everyone on that list gets one-on-one footage and tells a favorite memory on camera. Also, students can use the videos to leave personal notes to one another. It's just a really neat project and I am looking forward to trying it out here at Degrassi."

Clare raised her hand.

"Yes?"

"So, we won't be doing any writing?"

"We will still be writing articles for the paper, yes. Your main assignment, will be your videos. Your video collections will be due – on a flashdrive – in February. I will be the one putting the DVD together. But I just think this will be a fun project for everyone, and something that will definitely be very memorable. Face it, yearbooks are outdated. Who wants to stare at a bunch of pictures when we can capture living memories?"

Clare did have to admit, she liked the idea. It'd be fun! She could hardly wait, already, to see the finish product of their work. Clare was also thankful that, despite the V-YBs, she could still pursue her writing through the school paper. This was going to be a great year, she just had a feeling.

"Let me call roll and then I will put you with your partners. I will give you a video camera and your assignment for the day is to video tape an interview with your partner about your summer and your expectations for the school year. There are different forms of media, people. Let's keep that in mind this year."

Roll went quickly, and next it was time to be partnered up. Mr. Larson decided to go with the calling off "one" "two" "one" method.

"Ones will go to the front, twos in the back. Then I will pick your partners from there, to make this completely random. I don't want anyone getting to choose their partners. I want this to be a project on getting to truly know another person."

Mr. Larson then counted off the ones and twos. Clare and Eli both were twos. Clare sighed and made her way to the back wall, where Eli was already leaning. There were six others in their group of twos.

"So, what do you all think of the V-YDs?" Clare asked the group as Mr. Larson was busy sorting out the ones.

"I think it'll be fun," a girl named Sammy smiled, "I mean, it's going to be really different, but that's what will make it fun."

"I can't wait to see the finished product," Clare agreed, "I think it'll be something really special. We will always treasure these memories, but with the video, we can really look back on them. I think it's such a neat idea."

"If you're into the whole video thing," Eli shrugged, leaning against the back wall with his left foot pressed against it.

"You're not?" Another girl asked, looking up at Eli with enthralled eyes. She looked young. Possibly a sophomore.

"Eh," Eli shrugged, "it's whatever."

"Well, hopefully if we are partners, I can get you to change your mind."

Eli's eyes looked like they were going to pop from his head. Clare bit her lower lip to hide a smile as Eli, flustered, said, "Um…yeah…uh-huh, sure."

"I'm Maggie. I'm a sophomore," So I was right, Clare mused. "and I am just so excited to be in this journalism class. I really think the videos are just awesome. Mr. Larson is really cool for coming up with such a neat idea. It'll be so much fun. You're Eli, right?"

"Depends."

"Is it true you beat someone up last year?" Maggie stared up at him, again with those enthralled, curious eyes.

"He had it coming."

"And that you had a meltdown in the middle of the school play?"

Eli just stared at her. Clare knew he was wishing she'd just shut up already and leave him alone. Maggie, on the other hand, wasn't quite so keen at reading people.

Eli in particular.

"Well, I think it's really neat that you're so in touch with your emotions. You aren't afraid to stand up in front of the whole school and tell them how some girl broke your heart and that you no longer believe in happily-ever-afters. But they do exist, you know. Maybe you just haven't found yours yet, but your happily-ever-after is out there and…"

"I'm in touch with my emotions?" Eli chuckled, "That's a good one, Mags."

"It's Maggie, but okay. And it wasn't a joke. I think it's so cool when guys express themselves like you chose to. Whoever she is, she must have really hurt you. I think you'll find someone so much better for you this year…"

Eli nearly choked on his own saliva, where did this girl come from? "Um…" He lifted his eyes towards Clare, not really knowing what to say.

"In fact, I am sure of it."

"Eli," Clare smiled warmly, loving the opportunity that had presented itself to her, "Maggie seems to really…get you. I'm so glad you've finally found someone to connect with. Maggie," Clare turned to the bubbly blonde, "Eli knows this really great frozen yogurt place called The Yo. I am sure after school…"

"Shut up," Eli mouthed towards Clare, "shut up, shut up, shut up!"

"…he'd love to take you there and…um…talk about his emotions!"

"Be careful, Maggie," a guy in their group warned, "he might go ape-shit on you and…"

"What is your problem?" Eli turned towards the guy who had just spoken.

"Eli didn't go 'ape-shit,'" Clare corrected, shocking Eli at her use of the 's-word'

"What'd you know about it?" The guy asked, rolling his eyes.

Clare sighed, "What grade are you in?"

"Tenth."

"I thought so. Word of advice kid," Clare said, "don't talk about something you know nothing about."

He shut up pretty quickly, and Eli just glanced at Clare out of the corner of his eye. She could see a small shadow of a tiny little smile playing at the corners of his lips. But, as quickly as the moment happened, it faded away.

"So, do you really want to go to The Yo with me?" Maggie grinned so big, Clare and Eli both thought that her face would rip in two.

Eli sighed and agreed, "Sure. Why not."

Maggie thus proceeded to run over and hug him, which Eli cleverly finagled out of, "One condition though," he raised a finger, "no hugging."

Mr. Larson made his way to their group and glanced at his role sheet, "Alrighty, are you guys excited for the V-YB?" Everyone nodded, but Eli. "Okay then," he again checked the clipboard with the role sheet attached, "Maggie and Nathan, you will be partnered up."

Maggie didn't bother to hide her disappointment, "Aw, at least we can still hang out though, after school."

Eli nodded, and said, "Oh yeah, it'll be fine. Have fun with Nathan."

Mr. Larson glanced at his clipboard again, "Okay, Sammy and Michaela, you two will be a group. Um…David and Henry, you are a group…um, Clare and…"

Clare felt her throat tighten.

"Eli. You two will be a group."

"Uh…" Eli glanced at Clare, and then back to Mr. Larson, "but we…uh…"

"We know each other," Clare finished for him, "You said to partner up with people we didn't know."

Mr. Larson looked nervous, "Well…um…you two haven't been acting like you really get along. Maybe this project will be good for you. Learn more about each other and try to really connect. Get inside the other's head."

"I don't want to be in her head," Eli folded his arms across his chest stubbornly, "I don't even want to be in my head, much less hers. Can't you pair me with someone else?"

"He and Maggie would work well," Clare interjected.

"Uh…" Eli glanced towards Maggie who was bouncing and waving at him, "I…think maybe…"

"You two are partners, and that's final," Mr. Larson gave them both a sharp look, "You two need to work something out, that's easy to see. This project will be good for you two. I just know it."

After pairing off the remaining students, Mr. Larson asked everyone to have a seat – with their partners – and he would distribute the video cameras. Clare grabbed her stuff and went over to the desk next to Eli's. He didn't even look at her.

"Let's just try and work together," Clare sighed, "It could be worse."

"Please, elaborate."

"You could be partnered up with Maggie."

"Because of you, I have to go to The Yo with her."

"Aw, leave her alone," Clare rolled her eyes, setting up her notebook again, "She's sweet. Very cute."

"Cute?" Eli laughed, "good one."

"She likes you."

"Why."

"Beats me. Now hush, Mr. Larson's going to explain how to use the video cameras."

Eli held up the video camera they'd been given, "It doesn't look that hard."

"You say that, but I bet you'd be the one to drop it or something."

Eli made a fact at her before turning his attention to Mr. Larson, who was standing at the front of the classroom holding up one of the cameras. He explained to the class how to turn them on, how to press RECORD how to save the videos and upload them and transfer them to a flashdrive. He told the class not to worry about editing because he'd be the one comprising the videos.

"Your job is to be creative. Now then, head out. Leave this classroom. Go anywhere in the school – outside, inside – and do your interviews! Ask about their summer and their goals for this year. Dig in deep! We will watch the videos next class for a grade. And remember guys, be creative. Step out of those comfort zones!"

Well, Clare was definitely out of her comfort zone, that was for sure. With Eli as her partner, maybe this year wasn't going to be as great as she had hoped. Eli grabbed his beat-up backpack and flung it over his shoulder before standing over her desk.

"Let's go."

"Where do you want to do this?" Clare asked.

"Outside. By Morty or something."

"You still have that thing?"

"Why get rid of it? I love that car. Just because you didn't doesn't mean…"

"Okay, okay," Clare packed up her things, "by Morty it is."

She followed him out towards the parking lot, watching as he fumbled around with the video camera. "I think I figured out how to turn it on."

Clare rolled her eyes, "Mr. Larson just explained all of that."

"Well, there he is," Eli smiled, proudly, at the hearse, "As great as you remembered?"

Clare scoffed.

"Let's not take too much time doing this. I just kind of want to get this over with."

"Me too," Clare agreed, thankful that Eli shared the same sentiment.

"Okay," Eli adjusted the camera, "It's on and…yup, recording. You go first. Tell us about your summer."

"Shouldn't we, like, introduce ourselves first?"

"Why?"

"Well…I don't know," Clare hopped in front of the camera, "Hi! I'm Clare Edwards and I am junior here at Degrassi. I like reading and writing and baking."

"About your summer, dimwit! Not about your life!"

Clare rolled her eyes, "Hush, Eli," she spoke to the camera, "I could stand here and tell you guys that my summer was fantastic – that I went on some big trip to Rome or something with my parents. But, that wouldn't be true. And I can't lie. So here it is. My summer. My parents officiated their divorce. My dad moved to Los Angeles, and my mom and I haven't really spoken in quite some time. I am living with my boyfriend, Jake, and his parents right now. I hope to get a summer internship in New York City at a publishing company I applied for; and my goals for this year are to get all A's and, of course, get my internship."

"Wait, wait, wait," Eli set the camera down on Morty's hood, "Back up…"

"What?" Clare furrowed her eyebrows, "What's wrong?"

"Let me get this straight," Eli ran a hand through his hair, "Your parents finalized their divorce? Like, that's it? And then your dad moved? To LA? Seriously? And you're living with Jake because your mom…and don't even get me started on that internship."

"What? What's the problem, Eli?"

"N-nothing I guess. I just…"

Eli didn't know what to say. He knew what was wrong, and he knew why he was upset. Clare's life had been completely flipped upside down, and he hadn't had a clue about it. He thought his summer was a pain in the ass, but hers?

He ran a hand through his hair again and leaned against Morty, "It's just weird."

"What is?"

"Not knowing what's going on in your life anymore."

"Your turn," Clare grabbed the camera, desperate to change the subject, "Go."

"We aren't done discussing your summer," Eli dodged the camera, "What else has been going on?"

"Nope, my turn's up. It's yours now. Go."

"Fine," Eli gave in, "Um…well everyone knows about my breakdown in the middle of the school play. Well, I got some help over the summer so hopefully no more breakdowns."

"What kind of help?"

"I don't think the kids watching this are really interested in…"

He had a point. Clare wouldn't want her personal stuff being watched by the school. She set the camera down.

"I think it's off."

"Good," Eli said, "We've both changed a lot over this summer. For the better, and maybe for the not so better. It happens, Clare. People change. Like, take you for instance, you'd never move in with me when we dated."

"The circumstances are different," Clare blushed, and folded her arms across her chest, "I have nowhere to go and Jake and his family have been really close to me for as long as I can remember. They just are helping me out."

"So," Eli kicked her lightly with the toe of his shoe, "do you and the jockstrap do it like…every night then?"

Clare scoffed, and turned to face him. He was smirking, pleased with himself and the reaction he incited. "No," Clare rolled her eyes, "I have my own bedroom there, thank you very much. And don't call Jake a jockstrap!"

"I'll call him what I want," Eli raised his eyebrows, "so…is Saint Clare is just as…saintly?"

"If this is your way of finding out if I am still a virgin or not…"

"Whoa!" Eli held up his hands in defense, his eyes wide, "No one said anything about that."

"But you implied in."

"I did no such thing," he folded his arms over his chest and tried to look as innocent as possible. The truth was, it was killing him. He wanted to know if Clare and Jake had done it. If Jake had been the one to take her virginity. And if he had, Eli was certainly going to…

Going to what, he asked himself, I can't just punch him in the face for sleeping with his own girlfriend. But Clare…Clare is different. If he slept with her…it was because he somehow convinced her. She wasn't ready, and I don't think she still is ready. Just the thought of him…touching her. The very image made Eli want to puke.

"You're such a pig! Whether I am, or am not, it's still none of your business."

"Clare…"

"And I can't believe you'd even try to…"

"Clare…"

"…who asks someone something like that in the first place?"

"Clare…"

"It's totally and completely inappropriate conversation especially to be having with…"

"Clare…"

"WHAT?"

"Does that little red light mean that the camera is still recording?"

"Eli, what are you even…oh."

Sure enough, the camera (which was sitting next to Clare and pointed at them) was still recording. Clare snatched up the camera and shut it off.

"Shit," she hissed.

"Since when do you curse?"

"Since I accidentally filmed my ex-boyfriend asking me about the status of my virginity and the whole entire class will be watching this tomorrow!"

"Can't we edit it?"

"Mr. Larson said he will handle all the editing. I have no idea how," Clare buried her face in her hands, "Just kill me now. Put me out of my misery."

Eli made a gun with his fingers, "Bang."

"Not. Helping."

"Well I don't know what to do," he grabbed the camera and looked it over.

"Our whole class will see this," Clare cried, "The whole class will know…"

"Know what?"

"And you're still asking!"

"Sorry," Eli did his best kicked-puppy impression. It didn't work.

"This can't be happening! Could this year possibly be off to a worst start?"

"You could have to go to The Yo with possibly the most obnoxious tenth-grader since…well…you."

"Still. Not. Helping."

"Well, there's no use in stressing out I guess. What can we do?"

"Cry."

"That's it," Eli hopped off Morty's hood, "you're coming with what's-her-name and me to The Yo this afternoon."

"I can't," Clare shook her head, "besides, it'd crush Maggie."

"No, you can sit at another table and kind of just…watch me be tortured by her presence. Would that cheer you up just a little teeny-tiny bit?"

Clare thought it over as Eli flashed her the kicked-puppy look again. She melted, "Fine! I guess it will be…entertaining."

"For you anyways."

"She's not that bad?"

"Not that bad?" Eli choked, "Clare, she's like the Energizer Bunny on like…cotton candy flavored acid!"

"You like cotton candy."

Eli just glared at her, "Not. Helping."