Chapter Nine

"Your girlfriend?" Clare choked on the words, "Eli…we've been over this. What we had was…was super special…but we…we broke it."

"Psh," Eli scoffed, "Don't you know I'm the master at repairing broken things?"

"Eli…"

"Clare? Look, if one little 'yes' is too much for you to grasp…"

"Yes!" Clare eagerly exclaimed, "Yes, Eli! I want to be your girlfriend again!"

"Is that so?" Eli smugly folded his arms across his chest.

"Eli!"

"Alright," Eli grinned, nudging her, "God…I've missed you, Clare."

"I've missed you too," Clare admitted, "It's been so tough for me. Last year without you in my life…something big or exciting or tragic would happen and I'd instantly want to walk to your house to tell you or call you on the phone. So many times I've seen you sitting at lunch and I've had to fight the urge not to sit down next to you."

"I got help with my bipolar, Clare. I am on my meds regularly and am on a tight sleeping and eating schedule. I'm doing better…but I kept thinking in all those therapy sessions…how badly I just wanted you sitting there next to me. My parents have been great but…I miss you. I want you to be the one helping me. And I know that's a lot to ask…"

"I'm always here for you, Eli. I am so happy that you're getting help!"

"It's no biggie," Eli shrugged casually, "Let's go see if we can find Mr. Larson. Maybe he'll be understanding."

"That means that poor Maggie will have to work with Nathan again and he is just awful, Eli!"

"I told her opposites attract. Maybe in a year or two she won't think he's so awful," Eli smirked, throwing his arm over Clare's shoulders, "You never know."

Clare and Eli walked into the school together to find Mr. Larson. Clare's heart was racing as Eli pulled her tighter against him. She had missed this so much – the feel of his baggy black sweatshirt against her skin, the smell of his aftershave, the feel of his shaggy hair against her cheek, the sensation of his laughter in her ear. She had missed all of it so much, and couldn't help but smiling so big that she felt as though her face would break into two.

Eli's heart was also racing. It felt as though at any minute it'd burst through his chest. He was nervous and excited. He still was unsure of how to act around Clare. It reminded him of how he was with her when they first began dating…the first time. He had been so worried of screwing everything up. Now, he found himself almost even more nervous. But she had given him a second chance, and that was something.

He had prayed each night that somehow they'd work out – that somehow they'd have the chance to work out. Now, here he was, walking down the hallway with his arm draped over her shoulders. She seemed to just fit there, and it was perfect. They did just fit together like two discarded puzzle pieces. Eli smirked as he thought of Adam. Adam had bugged him enough about getting back together with Clare. He'd be glad when he heard that they were back together.

Shit, Eli mentally cursed. He had forgotten to give Adam his bologna and pepper-jack on rye sandwich. Oh well. He was walking down the halls of Degrassi High with Clare Edwards by his side. Adam and that stinky sandwich suddenly didn't seem to matter. Poor Adam.

Clare nudged him with her hip, and he returned the favor earning himself a moment of her laughter.

"Eli."

"Clare?"

"I am so happy!"

"Good," Eli grinned, "I'd be concerned if you weren't. If you weren't, I might have to give you the name of my head-shrinker."

They reached the journalism classroom and Eli said, "Okay, even if we can't get work together, it won't be that bad. I mean, it's not like it'd be the end of the world or anything…"

"Um, you try to be Nathan's partner for seriously, like, five seconds. I am sure you'd change your tune."

Eli nodded, giving her the benefit of the doubt. Together, they walked into the classroom and greeted Mr. Larson.

"Oh no," the man put his head in hands, "Don't tell me. You want to switch back as partners?"

"Well sir, we just thought that you – being the wise teacher as you are – probably knew what you were doing, more so than we, when you placed us together as…"

"Mr. Goldsworthy, cut the crap," Mr. Larson looked up from his palms and shot Eli a death-glare.

"Sorry sir."

"Hmm," Mr. Larson stood from his desk, "When I placed you together as partners, it was because I could sense there was something between the two of you that needed working out. I suppose I was correct in my assumption, am I right?"

"Yes sir," Eli answered.

"Okay. And I am assuming whatever needed working out got in the way of you two working together yesterday, and in a fit of anger and frustration, you decided you wanted to change partners?"

"Sir…I have bipolar disorder – as I am sure the school has informed you – and sometimes I make rash…"

"Eli," Mr. Larson shot him a sideways glance, "What did I say about cutting the crap?"

"Right," Eli folded his hands and stared at the linoleum, "Consider it cut, sir."

"And Ms. Edwards, am I correct in my presumption that you and Eli worked out your differences this lunch period, and now are requesting to work together as partners…once again?"

"Yes sir," Clare agreed, "I am sorry for letting our issues stand in the way of the assignment…"

"Hmm," Mr. Larson drummed his fingers on his desk, "Alright. You can work together again. My mother canceled our cable subscription, so now I can't watch my soaps. I get my entertainment from my students' drama. Why not! You're partners again!"

"Your mother, sir?"

"Mr. Goldsworthy…"

"Sorry, sir."

Clare rolled her eyes before turning her attention and gratitude to Mr. Larson, "Mr. Larson, sir, thank you so much for your understanding. I am just so grateful for your understanding. Eli and I won't let the drama stand in the way of our assignments."

"Good," Mr. Larson sat back down at his desk, "You can return my favor by doing a separate little assignment. Interview each other on what Degrassi means to you. I will include the interviews in the V-YDs. Got it?"

"Yes sir, thank you sir!"

As they exited the classroom, Clare swore she heard Mr. Larson say, "I still can't believe Mother canceled my soaps!"