Title: Dare Me, Not

Author: Bittasummer19

Summary: AU of Clare's Junior year and Eli's Senior year.

During 'Dare Week' at Degrassi High, Eli Goldsworthy - the popular rebel - is dared by the anonymous 'Dare Overlord' to sleep with Clare Edwards - the nerdy loner - within the next month. If the dares are completed, the winner gets $500 posted through their locker by the unknown and secretive Dare Overlord. When Eli's financial situation becomes dire, he takes up the dare - and tries to bed Christian girl Clare. Clare's no angel herself though and she's not going to give in without a fight.

Pairings: Major: Eli/Clare. Minor: K.C/Jenna, Drew/Bianca, Dave/Alli, onesided Eli/Imogen, Adam/Fiona.

Rating: Mature

Warnings: Profanity, sexual themes, angst, minor violence.

Notes: This is AU and characters will be OOC. Also, Clare, Adam and Alli are sixteen year old Juniors. Eli, Drew, Dave, Jenna, K.C, Imogen and Bianca are seventeen year old Seniors. Also, in my universe, they don't have uniforms at Degrassi! Intro will be longer than regular chapters, just to introduce the idea of 'Dare Week' and getting a feel of how everything is in this AU story.

Disclaimer: Do not own Degrassi, or any characters, just the plotline, which I kind of borrowed from an episode of One Tree Hill but I did change it so it was a little more complex.

Slight sexual content in this one, nothing major.

Anyway, please love/hate/read/review and let me know what you think!


Intro:

"Dare Week"

oOo

Monday

"Dare Week is so stupid" Clare Edwards said as she turned a corner in Degrassi High with her best friend Adam Torres. They were both headed towards their lockers when a nearby poster on the bulletin board had reminded them that every year, just before Winter set in, an anonymous student or students initiated 'Dare Week'. Dare Week was the first week that it all started. If you survived the five school days (Monday to Friday) without getting anything anonymously slipped through your locker, you were safe - and probably mostly invisible to the entire student body population - but if you did get a dare slipped through your locker, you had two options; accept the dare and try win the $500 or ignore it; and wait to be punished before the school year was over. Last year, Cindy Collins ignored her dare; make out with a teacher and two months later, her lovely Porsche had been stolen - to this day, nobody knows who took it or where it is. The Dare Overlord - the penname used by the anonymous student or students - had never slipped a dare through Clare or Adam's locker and that's the way Clare liked it.

As Adam agreed with her, Clare was relieved she wasn't a part of that popularity schumck. It was completely ridiculous, how the 'populars' walked around Degrassi High, thinking they owned it. The ranks were simple and even as Clare opened her locker, she could hear them now, coming round the corner down the other end of the hallway. She didn't even need to look up to know what she'd see; the King and Queen of the populars; seniors K.C Guthrie and Jenna Middleton. Behind them was their gang of other popular, ignorant and ridiculously over ego inflated friends; Dave Turner, Drew Torres, Bianca DeSousa and Eli Goldsworthy. Adam and Drew - being stepbrothers - meant that Drew's group of horrible friends usually left Adam alone, but… That didn't apply for Clare. Whenever Jenna got the chance, she usually made a snarky comment Clare's way and then preceded to laugh shrilly like a hyena. It didn't bother Clare as much as it did last year. There were a lot of worse things Clare had been through; losing her sister to Kenya, her parent's divorce, her horrible and heartbreaking break up with He who must not be mentioned.

Adam was in the middle of asking Clare what she wanted to do at the weekend when she got a text message from Alli Bhandari, her other and only best friend. Alli was freaking out because the Dare Overlord had started posting out dares this morning. Alli had been thrilled enough to actually get one - to Alli, this meant she was being noticed and included, and to Clare, this was just another opportunity to make a fool of yourself in front of everyone. The dare was minimal, according to Alli. She had to sneak into Principal Simpson's office and take a video of her dancing on his desk to Nelly's song Hot In Here. Then she had to post it on Facerange for everyone to see. Clare didn't even bother to reply, she knew nothing good would come of that, and she knew that Alli wouldn't listen to her. Alli would be too afraid of what the Dare Overlord would do if she didn't at least try.

For the next five days, the dares would be distributed out throughout the school; Freshmen, and Sophomores were never included surprisingly enough. Only popular and well known Juniors and Seniors were dared. When the dares were finished given out during Dare Week, the student being dared had as much or little time to complete the dare, usually a deadline was included. Clare told Adam about Alli's dare as she closed her locker door over and saw the grin that spread throughout Adam's face. Of course Adam would find that funny, and he'd probably even enjoy that. Most of the guys, and even some of girls wouldn't mind seeing Alli shake her ass to some degrading sexist hip-hop song. This just led to further evidence that the Dare Overlord was a guy - probably a Senior.

Just as Adam was going to ask about weekend plans again, he was interrupted by a sneaky snarky little voice - one that could only belong to a blonde hair bitch with a surprisingly high IQ. "Did Clare did not get any dares this week? Shocking" Clare turned to see the face of Jenna Middleton, standing beside an awkward looking K.C Guthrie. The rest of the group was crowded behind them. Most of them just looked bored, but some of them - Dave Turner and Bianca DeSousa - liked this part, where they tortured younger students. It made them feel worthy - something they clearly lacked in life. "Don't worry, Clare" Jenna continued snidely, "To make you feel better, I'll dare you! I dare you…" she smirked, "To not be such a tightass" giggles and chuckles erupted.

"Wow Jenna, for a second there, I thought you would actually come up with something clever and smart" Clare looked disappointed, "For one, I'm glad my ass is so tight" she almost laughed at Jenna's fallen face but kept hers neutral and continued, "My ass doesn't loosen for anyone, unlike you. Hey, remind me how that STI test went? You were talking about it with Bianca in Chemistry don't you remember? Bianca is a bit of an expert when it comes to that" then she smirked widely. Clare could feel everyone within a 10 yard radius short stop at her reply.

"Jenna, what the fuck?" K.C turned on his girlfriend, "That was supposed to be a secret! Fucksake!" he turned on his heel and marched down the hallway, shaking his head from left to right with aggression. Drew and Dave instinctively went after him, but Eli and Bianca remained.

"You little bitch" Jenna took a step towards Clare and leaned in so she was inches away from her face. "I am going to-".

"If you must kiss me then please take a breath mint beforehand" Clare interrupted her. Then she whispered, "Your breath stinks of immaturity and stupidity".

"I will destroy you!" Jenna shrieked, slamming her palm onto Clare's locker door. Then she leaned back, smoothed down her skirt and flipped her hair. "Virgin" she sneered at Clare before strutting off down the hall, swinging her hips left to right.

"Tell anybody else about that conversation and I will gut you a like fish" Bianca glared menacingly before storming away. Clare was about to take a deep breath at the thought of surviving another Jenna-Bianca attack when she realised someone in their group was still standing there. Eli Goldsworthy. He was just standing there, eyes intently on Clare's, smiling slightly.

"What, no death threats Emo boy?" Clare felt the attention uncomfortably redden her cheeks.

"Eli!" Jenna's voice suddenly cried from down the hallway where she and Bianca were waiting on him.

"Not today, Virgin girl" Eli shrugged at Clare, chuckling. He turned and walked down the hallway, away from Clare and Adam. Clare let out a deep breath as she watched them disappear and turned back to Adam.

"You really weren't kidding when you said you weren't going to take anymore of Jenna's crap" Adam laughed nervously, eyes wide, "I'm so proud of you. Can you believe the way she looked at you? She was so shocked, just like everyone else was".

"Not everyone" Clare mumbled subconsciously. "Eli wasn't shocked".

"I guess not" Adam shrugged, closing his locker door over. "So, what do you want to do at the weekend?".

"My mom wants me to meet this guy she's dating, some old friend or whatever. I'm supposed to be meeting them at my Church's Friday bakeoff. Wanna come?" Clare replied.

"Sure" Adam nodded, "I might be late though, I have my therapist appointment Friday afternoon". Clare nodded understandingly. Only Clare, Drew and Adam's immediate family knew that Adam was a female-to-male transgender. Every two weeks, Adam checked in with his therapist, to talk about how he was feeling about the situation. It helped him a lot, especially with dealing on how to handle his family's reaction and also how to process his own feelings without becoming bitter or resentful.

The bell for Homeroom rang and Clare gave Adam the usual bored eye-roll. "I have English after Homeroom" Clare told Adam, "Meet you in Biology?". Adam nodded and they parted their separate ways. Just as Clare walked into her Homeroom, she banged into someone coming out and sighed when she realised it was Imogen Moreno. Clare and Imogen hated each other. It was funny - both social outcasts should have made them friends, especially since Imogen hated Jenna and K.C's rule, but Imogen had always had a problem with Clare and Clare never knew why.

"Can you watch where you're going, Junior?" Imogen asked snidely, "Some of us are trying to walk here". Imogen never seemed the full frontal bitch that Jenna was, she was the subtly stuck up bitch. Clare always got the impression of Imogen that she thought she was better than Clare, and in doing so, that meant she had the right to belittle the Junior whenever they had the misfortune of running into each other.

"You walked into me, Senior" Clare spat back. She was not in the mood to be harassed again.

"Well, look who grew a spine" Imogen folded her arms and laughed, "See you later Bible basher" she slipped past Clare and flitted off down the hallway. Clare rolled her eyes, walked into her Homeroom and settled down for the next fifteen minutes.

oOo

Tuesday

"See you guys at lunch" Jenna told Drew, Dave and Eli, "If you find K.C before me, fix the problem the stupid little nerd caused yesterday okay? He wouldn't answer his phone last night and I need to talk to him, urgently. Tell him to come find me" with that she turned the corner with Bianca and disappeared into the girl's toilet where they would probably skip Homeroom putting on make up and trying to look overtly beautiful.

Dave began, "K.C was not happy when we saw him this morning, he dodged all of Jenna's calls and even pretended he wasn't in when she showed up at his house. He was ranting about not being able to keep the secrets and lies anymore" he rolled his eyes, "Just as dramatic as Jenna, if not more. What's worse is when they break up, what the hell are we going to do? It'll be like they're the divorced parents and we're the kids. Jenna will expect us to spend lunches with her and K.C will expect us to spend weekends with him".

"Dude, it's Jenna and K.C" Drew shook his head, "That is not going to happen, they'll be together for a really long time you know. They'll probably graduate, go to college together, get married and have kids. That's the way it's supposed to be".

"Honestly, they'll probably kill each other before any of that happens" Eli chuckled as they stopped at his locker, "Jenna will kill K.C and then kill herself and make it look like a successful suicide pact, cause if she can't have him…".

"No one can" Drew finished for him. "That sounds like Jenna alright. Remember last year, when K.C started going out with this girl but he never let anyone of us meet her, I honestly thought he was hiding a gay romance or something, but then it was like a light bulb snapped and he started dating Jenna. That was just weird".

"There's no other way to describe them" Eli muttered as he opened his locker door to look for his history book. But then his gaze stopped and he stared straight into his locker with a dread filled knowing look. Lying on top of his books was a blue envelope. He knew that envelope. Guys got blue envelopes, girls got pink envelopes. "No fucking way" Eli grabbed the blue envelope and showed it to Drew and Dave.

"Oh, way!" Drew cried, grinning as Dave started doing the running man dance.

"You got dared, finally!" Drew cried, joining in on Dave's 'happy' dance. "Eli Goldsworthy got dared!" Drew started to sing as he continued to dance, throwing his arms above his head as Dave did the robot.

"I hate you both" Eli glared, his eyes going back to the blue envelope. "Whatever's in here, I'm not fucking doing it, I'm not anyone's stupid puppet".

"Dude, forget your pride. This is $500 slipped through your locker anonymously if you complete the dare, it's fucking brilliant" Dave said excitedly, "Now you can finally get Morty's engine fixed! That thing keeps breaking down every five minutes and ironically, we all fear for our lives every time we step inside that hearse".

"That's not what irony is, dude" Drew shook his head at Dave.

Eli pondered it slightly. "It's not doing the dare that's the problem, it's the fact that there's a person out there thinking they can tell me what to do as if I'm wearing strings on my bones".

"$500!" Dave repeated, "Come on Eli, get a grip. Unless…" he shrugged, "You're scared you actually don't have what it takes to do it".

Drew laughed.

Eli ripped the envelope open and pulled out the white letter. Printed from a computer on the letter were the words;

To Eli Goldsworthy,

Your dare is to sleep with Clare Edwards.

You have a month starting next Monday.

- From The Dare Overlord.

"Whoa, that's going to be tough" Dave laughed hollowly when he read the dare over Eli's shoulder. "Clare Edwards, the Junior? The prissy uptight virginal bible loving loner? Good luck with that. Even the amazing and wonderfully charming Eli Goldsworthy could never do that".

"We'll see" Eli shoved the letter and envelope into his bag. He slammed his locker door over and looked at Drew cautiously, "Still think this dare is so great?".

Drew frowned, "Me? Why are you asking me like I care?".

"Clare Edwards is your brother's best friend" Eli replied slowly, as if Drew should have already known that. "Sometimes I think they're dating".

"Dude, she's Adam's best friend, she's not mine" Drew shrugged carelessly, "Go for it and get the $500, because you seriously need Morty fixed whether you like it or not, that thing is a death hazard - pun intended. And no way Adam's dating tightass Clare Edwards. Adam likes Bianca".

"Have you ever been dared?" Eli asked Dave and Drew.

Dave nodded, "Last year I was dared to streak across the Cheerleading tryouts naked; easiest $500 I ever got".

"I was dared last year to kiss Imogen Moreno in the school janitor's closest" Drew smirked, "Easiest $500 I ever made as well".

"I guess it could be kind of fun" Eli shrugged. "Only three days left of Dare Week. Do you think you'll get dared again?".

"Probably not" Drew shook his head, "Hardly ever happens twice in a row. Juniors and Seniors only, apparently the Dare Overlord has a heart for little insecure fourteen and fifteen year olds".

"How long has this Dare Week been going on for?" Eli frowned suddenly.

"Over twenty years" Dave replied, smirking proudly. "When my dad was in his Senior year, the role of Dare Overlord was passed onto him when the current Senior Dare Overlord graduated. The current Dare Overlord picks a new one before they leave and they carry it on. Apparently the Dare Overlord only knows who their successor is, they never know who their predecessor was. When the current Dare Overlord is about to leave, they choose the next Dare Overlord by planting an envelope with a USB of everything they need to know, old dares and possibly new ones. Helps them keep track of everything. It's so secretive even my dad won't tell me who he picked after him".

Drew was finding this fascinating while Eli just looked bored enough to gouge out his eyeballs.

"So" Drew said suddenly to Eli, "Are you gonna do the dare?".

"Hell, I'll do it if you don't" Dave laughed, "She's hot, even if she is a prude".

"I guess I'll think about it" Eli shrugged, non-committal, "Don't mention this to anyone, okay?" his friends nodded but that didn't completely put Eli at ease.

"Think fast" Drew patted Eli on the back as he and Dave left him for Homeroom.

oOo

Wednesday

Eli wandered into the library, a place he often visited during his free periods. Eli knew he wasn't like his friends; he had messy jet black hair, wore black jeans, combat boots, a grey t-shirt and a black leather jacket. He knew his hearse and his taste in music were odd to the 'populars' but accepted none the less. It was last year when Eli had been accepted into Jenna and K.C's group. Eli was new to town and the week before he started Degrassi High, he went a late night drive with Morty and came across three naked guys strapped each to a lamppost. This was how Eli first met K.C, Drew and Dave. Eli cut them free and let them hide in his hearse, each giving them a ride to their houses to get clothes. K.C, Drew and Dave - who were all on the basketball team - had been invited out to party by a rival basketball team and not wanting to look weak, they accepted. But as it turned out, the night went from bad to worse. K.C, Drew and Dave got so drunk, each of them was easily tied to a lamppost, naked. Eli didn't even ask what had happened, he just helped them, because he knew what it was like to be victimised.

The guys were eternally grateful to Eli for saving them from humiliation and Jenna was eternally grateful for bringing K.C to the Dot where she had been wanting to talk to him all night. Eli never questioned where he fit in with his friends - he just did. He was closest to Drew and Dave, tolerated Jenna, mostly ignored Bianca and had a somewhat mutual friendship with K.C. When he had his first day at Degrassi, he couldn't believe the group he had made friends with. The Populars. At Eli's old school, he would have been the one getting them drunk and tying them naked to a lamppost, but, as Eli slowly realised, he could count on Drew and Dave, just like they could count on him. Eli was browsing through the Edgar Allan Poe section when he saw her. Clare Edwards, sitting at a library table reading a book. Knowing he was hidden behind a shelf, he knew it was safe to look at her. She had pale skin, short curly auburn hair, crystal blue eyes and peach pink natural lips. His eyes drifted downwards, taking in her soft curves and delicate disposition.

She really was quite beautiful, Eli realised. He'd noticed her before, of course. Last year, it had been painful to watch Jenna torture her endlessly, with it ending in Clare crying or Clare running away. But then somewhere, in the middle of everything, Clare changed. She became this sweet confident girl who didn't take crap from Jenna anymore. She fired back and every time she did, Eli just liked her more and more. It would have been a lie to say he hadn't fantasised about her during his most intimate moments that either contained him in the shower or him in his bed - but he never ever thought he should act on those thoughts. Dave was right; this was Clare Edwards - the bible loving nun who would probably die a virgin, but not because she wasn't good enough for anyone, but because she was too good, and Eli felt that Clare knew that deep down.

Even though Eli did think that almost everyone at this school should get stuffed, and he did have a dark side, he knew he couldn't pursue Clare like that. He knew he could, if he wanted too but… He didn't want to get to know her like that. He'd been wanting to get to know her for a while and secretly she was his favourite thing to think about, when he was alone and feeling lonely, but like this? Say they did have sex and Clare was okay with it - which he doubted a hundred percent - could he really take the $500 and not feel an ounce of guilt? Without really knowing why, Eli walked up to Clare, smiling that she hadn't even realised because of her deep attachment to her book. She was reading Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger - something he hadn't expected. That didn't seem like Clare's kind of book, but Eli realised that he didn't know Clare, at all.

"Is this seat free?" Eli suddenly broke the silence and Clare's head snapped up to his eyes. She glanced at Eli's hand gesturing to the chair next to hers. Did he want to take the chair somewhere else or did he - Eli Goldsworthy, the popular Senior - actually want to sit down next to her? Clare shook her head internally. Of course he just wanted the chair.

"Take it" Clare said blandly, returning back to her book.

Eli frowned, "No I meant can I sit here?". He tried to keep a neutral face but he could tell he was coming off confused.

"Why?" Clare asked abruptly, frowning herself. She didn't even realise how rude she sounded - probably because whenever she came face to face with a popular, she immediately adopted what Adam liked to call her 'bitch persona'. Clare just liked to call it not taking anyone's crap anymore.

Eli decided the only way to get Clare not to bite his head off was to be completely honest. Well, not completely but almost. "I liked the way you talked back to Jenna the other day, that was really cool".

"So I'm not 'Virgin Girl' anymore?" Clare raised her eyebrow, almost rudely, with bit a hint of a smirk.

"That depends" Eli slid into the chair this time without asking, "Am I still 'Emo Boy'?".

"I don't know what you are" Clare said honestly.

"Me neither" Eli shrugged. He grinned widely which pulled a small smile from Clare's lips. "A smile!" Eli looked triumphant. "You should smile more often, Blue Eyes".

"I wish I had things to smile about" Clare murmured quietly, but Eli heard it. Clare ignored the swooping sensation in her stomach as Eli's 'Blue Eyes' nickname.

"And you think you don't?" Eli asked, his eyebrows knotting together in confusion. Eli had only found out a few things about Clare from last year. She had an older sister called Darcy who left for Kenya. She lived with her parents, went to Church every Sunday and according to Drew, hung about with Adam every weekend, occasionally seeing her other best friend Alli. Eli never meant to sound judgemental but he knew that Clare had taken it that minute the second she narrowed her eyes.

"How would you know?" Clare said defensively, "You don't know anything about me. Just go back to your lame cool stuck up friends, listen to your loser rock, snort whatever drugs you take and leave me the hell alone okay?".

"I don't know anything about you?" Eli could feel his anger rising to the brim, "You're a typical good girl who never dates out of her comfort zone and spends her time in a room full of books! What's not to know about from that? But if you think you know anything about me, then I guess you're not as smart as you think you are!" he stood up, "Why don't you go back to your cool stuck up friends and adorable parents and ask God for some actual human emotions!".

Clare copied his actions and also stood up. "My 'adorable' parents are divorced, you jackass! I haven't seen them in the same room since they told me they were going to separate! And as for my friends, they could find self completion doing something as boring as cleaning a room. It's pathetic that you and your friends need to make other people feel like shit to feel good about yourselves!" she finished, inches away from him.

They were both standing so close, breathing heavily against each other until Eli's gaze drifted down to her lips. Clare felt her stomach churn with angst. How could her pulse be racing in a dangerously good way for someone who made her so angry? It was like she was a firework and he was the spark. Thrills jolted their skin as Eli subconsciously came towards her and Clare reacted by moving closer to him. It was weird, their movements were like magnets, drawing each other in. Clare smelled of fresh strawberries and Eli smelled of cinnamon pinecones. Their breaths mingled and Eli's lips ghosted over Clare's, coming so close but never daring to touch. Clare closed her eyes, almost wincing at being so close to Eli but not having his warmth against hers.

She was losing herself, in the middle of the school library to a guy who infuriated her and she didn't even care. Eli's fingertips darted over Clare's curls and pushed them away from her face. Clare sighed softly and Eli slowly leaned in so that his body was brushing against the flustered Junior. Clare's legs hit the edge of the sturdy table and she was glad she had something to rest against as Eli pushed every inch of him against her. To keep herself balanced, she lightly rested her hands against Eli's shoulders as he came closer. Eli's hands slithered up to Clare's waist, his fingertips brushing against the under wire of Clare's bra through the floral dress she was wearing that day. Clare gasped; even shocked herself that she liked the way he touched her and the way her nipples painfully hardened.

Clare's soft gasp made the space in Eli's groin area completely evaporate. He wondered how Clare would react when she felt his hardened erection against where her own crotch was and when she did, an ache announced itself between the middle of Clare's thighs; something that made her head roll back a little bit and her lips part. Eli almost growled hungrily at the sight before him. He knew this would have to end soon but what he didn't expect was the way Clare brutally pushed her pelvic area against his erection, as if trying to grab something that kept disappearing from her reach. Eli had to swallow his own moan of pleasure before someone realised what they were doing. Clare buried her head in Eli's chest as she jerked her hips again, feeling spurred on by Eli's on growing erection.

Eli wrapped one hand in her hair as her head disappeared inside his warm open leather jacket. God, what the hell was happening? He and Clare Edwards were dry-humping in the middle of the school library. Clare's arms slid up Eli's back under his leather jacket and dug her nails in to get a better grip. When she pushed her hot core up towards him with the help of her grip against his back, Eli pushed back this time, continuing to rub himself more easily against Clare. Eli pulled backwards a bit, bringing his head down to meet Clare's gaze. She swallowed and the sight of her with puffy lips, in a lust-glaze daze made him proud he could have that kind of affect on her. A hot pool from her own crotch was starting to make itself known to him. So Virginal Clare Edwards could get herself wet and horny if she wanted to. Eli licked his thick lips and Clare bit her own at the sight of him, gazing down at her with a kind of look nobody had given her before.

The library doors opened and instinctively Eli stepped backwards as a couple of oblivious students walked on past them. Clare - free from Eli's intoxication - suddenly realised the horror of the situation. She gasped, her chest panting as she ran a hand through her hair. Eli never took his eyes off of her and the sight of her leaning against the table as she panted made the blood rush south again. Clare licked her lips and even shocked herself at the pulsating hunger between her thighs. Nobody had made her feel that. What the hell was that? Was that even normal? She was starting to forget why she was ever pissed off at him. Just the way he kept on looking at her… It thrilled her in the same way that she clearly thrilled him, if his groin area was anything to go by.

The bell suddenly rang out and Clare almost jumped. She took another deep breath and tried to speak, reminding Eli that the next class she had was one that they both shared - which did not help the situation at all. "We have Chemistry" Clare tried to sound normal but her throat was dry and husky. Eli smirked at her words. Oh yes, they did have Chemistry, in more ways than one. She grabbed her bag and walked forwards, stopping just before she passed Eli, whose expression or stance had not changed. How could Eli Goldsworthy have this kind of affect on her? She was wearing a promise ring for fucksake.

"Tell the teacher I'll be a little late" Eli smirked hoarsely.

"Why?" Clare's flushed cheeks made her frown all the more delicious.

"I have somewhere I have to go" Eli grabbed his bag from the table behind Clare and leaned in so close to her that his mouth brushed against her ear as he said "Don't worry, I'll be thinking about you the entire time" with that, he turned and walked away, heading out of the library. Clare forced her legs to starting walking and she left the library just in time to catch Eli sliding inconspicuously into the Men's Toilets. The heat made her neck and cheeks burn up again at the thought of what he was going to do in there.

His last words made the ache grow stronger and the pull of her stomach tighten so much that it hurt. She wanted to follow him inside and…

Clare snapped herself from those kind of thoughts and turned to walk down the hallway towards Chemistry.

She waited anxiously for Eli, but he never showed.

oOo

Thursday

Eli never showed to school on Thursday. He told Bullfrog - his father - that he hadn't been feeling well and thought he had caught some kind of bug at school. Bullfrog allowed him to stay off, because Eli was hardly ever off from school. This was just a lie, to avoid having to see Clare - or answer his friends about his impending dare. His and Clare's encounter the previous day had startled him in a different way it had startled Clare. Eli wasn't surprised his body had reacted that way to her - he already knew she turned him on, but what startled him was the way Clare had reacted. She'd been so willing to encourage him, so willing to finish him - he'd been surprised he hadn't gone overboard before the bell rang. That's what got him. He also knew that her reaction to him would be what was freaking her out.

Clare was a virgin after all, she wasn't used to rubbing herself against guys to get either of them off, and he could tell the minute she had a clear head, she knew she'd gone too far - with herself and Eli. Now Clare would probably avoid him forever and never speak to him ever again. Or worse, she'd walk around paranoid that at any minute, Eli would tell everyone. After all, in this society, if a guy got anything from a girl, it was cool and he was 'the man', but the minute a girl got anything sexual, she was a whore, the town bicycle, the birthplace of STI's and abortions. Eli was dodging another phone call from Drew when he sank into his bed and let his thoughts drift back to Clare. She was sexy, and she didn't even realise it, but she was also arrogant and a little bit stuck up herself.

He already knew he couldn't go through the dare - not that he couldn't physically because this was Clare and Eli could already feel himself getting attached and not even because he didn't think Clare would respond because she probably would - but because he knew that if he wanted to know Clare at all, if he wanted to form an inch of trust with her, this wasn't the way to go about it. He walked downstairs, intending to head for the fridge when he saw Bullfrog sitting on the living room couch, staring at a letter on the table in front of him. Bullfrog was holding a bottle of beer and looking utterly depressed. Eli frowned and approached his dad, cautious already.

"Bullfrog?" Eli asked, "What's wrong? I thought you stopped drinking".

"We're drowning, son" Bullfrog said lazily through slurred tipsy words. "We're fucking drowning".

Eli stepped forwards and grabbed the letter from the table harshly. He glared at the words on the letter. "How did this happen?" Eli almost snapped at his dad but then remembered he shouldn't be so harsh. Ever since Cece, Eli's mother, had left them when Eli was twelve, it had almost always been a struggle to support the house maintenance, bills, and other utility bills, but Bullfrog always managed to pull it off. Almost always anyway.

"Life happened" Bullfrog spat then found his comment extremely hilarious with bellowing laughter.

"What does this mean?" Eli shook his head at the state of his dad.

"It means I have a month to pay that outstanding balance or this house will be repossessed by the bank, sold at auction and we-" he gestured between himself and Eli, "-Will be homeless" he started to suddenly laugh hollowly again.

"How is any of this funny?" Eli roared. "Get your act together, do something!".

"I fucking have, Eli!" Bullfrog barked. "I fucking have! For too long I've gone on by myself, and it's not like I can blame you… You're just a kid, but people cost money, and money costs time, and we're out of fucking time now".

"I'll get a job" Eli said determinedly, "After school, and weekends. That's it. You can pick up another shift and maybe Aunt Maggie will-".

"That's what I've been meaning to talk to you about" Bullfrog interrupted, "When the bank forecloses on the house, you're going to stay with your Aunt Maggie and I'm going to enrol in the Navy" the way he said it made Eli want to start crying and laughing at the same time.

"Aunt Maggie?" Eli screamed, "She lives in fucking New York! I'm not leaving Degrassi, I literally just got here. Do not do this to me, Bullfrog! And the Navy? Do you seriously think they're going to take a loser drunk like you?".

Suddenly the beer bottle in Bullfrog's hand left his palm, flew across the room and smacked Eli right on the forehead. Eli stumbled backwards, screaming out a string of curse words as he looked down to the floor. The bottle was intact, so no glass had gotten anywhere. His head just pounded like fuck.

"Fuck, Eli" Bullfrog gasped, "Oh god, son, please don't hate me. I'm so sorry" he got off the couch but Eli was already storming up the stairs. He got into his bathroom and slammed the door behind him as he checked his head in the mirror.

On the left hand side of his forehead was a gash, a bloody cut that already looked red and purple at the same time. Eli left his cut untouched, knowing there was nothing he could do for it but wait until it healed. He left the bathroom, stormed into his bedroom and made sure it was locked before preceding to blast horrible screamo music. What the fuck was he going to do now? He couldn't live in fucking New York, where they basically hated everything about Canada. He could barely stand Bullfrog's sister Maggie, let alone live with her. He couldn't leave Degrassi. He wouldn't leave Degrassi.

So Eli had a month. He would open up a savings account and get a job. He wouldn't spend any of his wages. He would put them in a savings account and hope that by the time that the month was up, he had enough to rent his own apartment, deposit included. Taking up any other jobs would help pay the rent and he could even look for roommates to help split the money. Eli was seventeen, soon to be eighteen, it's not like Bullfrog could stop him. So that was the plan.

But Bullfrog was right. Time was running out. What if it took Eli another two weeks to find a job? That would never be enough time to save for rent and deposit. Eli had a churning feeling and a heavy heart as he knew what he had to do. He grabbed his laptop from the floor and turned it on as he took his phone out of his pocket and dialled the number that had called him 23 times that day. It rang twice and suddenly Drew answered.

"Hey loser. Finally reply to me. What the hell is going on? You're freaking everybody out".

"Sorry, threw up this morning. Had some bad hot tamale last night. Real bad" Eli replied as he started up Facerange and looked for one of his 'friends'. He had friended Clare last year and she had accepted. When he found her profile, he realised she hadn't updated her status in twenty-four hours.

"Whatever dude, hope you're feeling better for tomorrow. We're hitting the Dot like usual. You in?".

"Maybe" Eli frowned as he hit the 'Would You Like To Message Clare Edwards?' button on her profile. A private chat between came up and Eli's fingers hesitated on his keyboard. "I'm waiting to see how some things pan out".

"Why does that sound like the typical crazy scheming Eli that we all know and love? Wait, does that mean you've accepted your dare. You're going to try to sleep with Clare?".

"'Fraid so" Eli murmured back. "But don't tell anyone, okay? I'll never get anywhere if she finds out. Tell Dave to keep his mouth shut. I don't need Jenna using this against Clare to hurt her, like the vindictive bitch she is".

"Meow! Okay, I'll tell Dave and we'll keep quiet. So, how are you gonna play this one? Hot and horny? Sweet and seductive? Tortured and lonely?".

"With my obvious harm and wit" Eli replied, smirking at the thought of a flustered Clare Edwards again. He began typing on the screen and pulled back to reread what he had written. "Anyway, got to go Drew. See you tomorrow".

"No problemo Goldsworthy. Catch you".

Eli tossed his phone to the side and glanced back cautiously to the computer screen. He bit his lip and hit the 'send' button. Then he sat back and took a deep breath, telling himself over and over again that the outcome definitely outweighed the means. His message read;

Eli Goldsworthy says: Clare, I know you're probably freaked out by what happened yesterday and I'm sorry because I know we both went too far but… I felt a connection with you that I haven't felt with anyone in a really long time. I'm also sorry for snapping at you as well, it wasn't you, it was anger displacement. Can we try be friends? I think you would really like me, because I already like you. And besides, you have really pretty eyes.

It had been twenty minutes until Eli got a reply. He didn't think he was going to get one, and he halfway between sleep and getting up to go downstairs and make himself something to eat when the heard the familiar Facerange 'ping'. Someone had messaged him. He prayed to a God he didn't believe in to let it be Clare and not Drew or Dave. When he clicked on his messages, his heart sped up involuntarily at the sight of Clare Edward's name with a little number (1) icon beside the message. She was online. His throat started to go dry at the thought of her reading his messages and biting her lip in that little innocent way she does.

Clare Edwards says: I'm sorry too, I never do anything like that, EVER! It got a little out of control, but I'm as much to blame as you are. Can we be friends, really? Considering how mine hate yours and yours hate me? I'm sorry about what I said earlier also. It was stupid. And stop telling me I have pretty eyes, I do not.

Eli Goldsworthy says: Of course we can be friends. If you want, we can be secret friends. I'll talk to you in the library and you can insult me in the hallways if you want. I'll call you 'Virgin Girl' and you'll call me 'Emo Boy'. No one will be the wiser. I'd rather be secret friends than not be friends at all. And yes, you do have pretty eyes!

Clare Edwards says: You're sweet, Eli. Sweeter than anyone could have expected and I'm sorry I judged you, again. But… I don't want to be 'secret' friends, that's just weird and too complicated. Besides, even though you think we have this connection, we rub each other the wrong way (okay I did not mean that pun, but it fits with the situation) and set each other off (again, pun not intended), I'm like chalk and you're cheese, I'm oil, you're water, I'm heaven… You're hell.

Eli Goldsworthy says: You're just about the only person besides my dead grandmother who can make me literally laugh out loud. Seriously I'm dying here. You've killed me with your unintended humour. I'm dead. This is your fault. But it's our differences that are so great. I've never met someone who was so unlike me and just… got me, you know? If you don't like me, then say so, I'll never bother you again and we don't have to be friends.

Clare Edwards says: You're right. Let's be friends. I have to go soon, my bath awaits me. Why weren't you in school today?

Eli Goldsworthy says: Bad hot tamale last night, made me throw up, but I'll be in tomorrow. Did I miss much today?

Clare Edwards says: Ouch, hope you're feeling better! Not really. Principal Simpson caught Fitz and the other stoners smoking round the back of the school today. They got suspended for the rest of the day and tomorrow. Such a stupid punishment considering they don't want to be at school at all.

Eli Goldsworthy says: Completely agree, what a waste. They're always causing trouble for the basketball team. Hope you enjoy that bath…

Clare Edwards says: Lol. Sure you do! Don't worry, I'll be thinking about you the entire time. [Clare Edwards is Offline]

Eli closed his laptop over with a growing smirk. Had she just really repeated his own words to him… in that flirty way he had? Goosebumps ran all over his skin as he thought about a naked wet Clare, thinking about him. Was she serious when she said that? Was she actually going to think about him while she was in the bath? Eli groaned when all his blood started to travel south, again. How the hell was he going to start off with Clare as just 'friends' when his other little 'friend' couldn't keep it in the jeans zipper for five minutes? As Eli made his way to the bathroom, he turned on the hot shower and stepped inside, letting his own urges take control. He knew he had to win, but he already felt himself losing.

oOo

Friday

Adam couldn't believe the way his friend had literally skipped into school this particular morning. Adam assumed that Clare was just happy that after today, Dare Week would be officially over and most students could go back to doing whatever it was that they did. The students that needed to deal with dares were never people that Clare bothered with - until now of course, with Alli being roped into the ridiculous games and all. But Adam was of course wrong. Clare was blushing and grinning and flustered because she had been messaging a certain raven haired punk themed guy last night who sent her over the edge at just the touch of his fingertips. Clare had been freaking out all Wednesday night and all of Thursday - so much so that she had gone to Church to pray and be purged of her sins. When she returned from Church and turned on her computer, she was shocked to find that Eli had chosen to private message her.

At first it seemed ridiculous that Eli would want anything from her - let alone to be her friend - but he did. He well and truly did and Clare couldn't stop smiling. It was literally infectious. If Eli was a disease, she was already halfway there to catching it. Her eyes subconsciously scanned the hallway for him and she was halfway in and out of Adam's conversation about what Clare was going to do when she finally met her mother's newest boyfriend. Clare 'Mmmm' back at Adam before opening her locker door and checking her reflection in the mirror she had glued there Freshman year.

"You seem oddly happy and weirdly distracted" Adam said, jolting Clare from her trance. "What's going with you?".

"Nothing. Don't be silly. Why are you asking that?" Clare shook her head, already seeing how utterly out of control she was coming off. God, she had to get a grip. She had already been down this road with He who must not be mentioned and she wasn't about to do it again. And anyway, that was different. Eli was now her friend.

"Okay, whatever" Adam rolled his eyes at his adorable freak of a friend and then his eyes stopped suddenly when he looked inside Clare's locker. His mouth parted slightly in shock and Clare - who was still checking herself out in the mirror - hadn't even noticed Adam's reaction or what was inside her locker. "Clare, a dare".

"What dare?" Clare asked as she began to put on some lip-gloss.

"Clare, a dare" Adam said more stressfully this time.

"Okay fine, we can dare each other to do something stupid, it's pointless but if you want to feel included fine" Clare turned away and fluffed up her hair, "Personally I don't see why everyone wants to be a part of Dare Week. I mean $500 is great and everything but what about self pride? Self worth? Do none of these things matter anymore?".

"For god sake, Clare" Adam leaned past his friend, reached into her locker and grabbed the disgustingly pink envelope from it's confines. He brought it up to Clare's eyes and watched her face fall. "You got a dare, Clare" Adam whispered slowly.

"I got a dare" Clare whispered back. Her fingers touched the envelope softly. "What the hell? Why did I get a dare?".

"Open it" Adam pressured her.

When Clare flipped the back of the envelope over to open it up the words; 'TRUST ME, YOU'LL WANT TO OPEN THIS ALONE' were scrawled across in black marker. Clare showed it to Adam and they both shared a worried glance. The bell went off for Homeroom and Clare closed her locker door over, her other hand still clutching the envelope.

"I have to go, text me the second you open that" Adam said to Clare before rushing off.

Clare pressed her back against her locker door and tore open the envelope, her heart beating so fast she thought it might burst from her chest. The letter inside held the printed words of;

To Clare Edwards,

Your dare is to visit Sticky Ricky's at 11PM and ask for the Midnight Special.

And if you don't, I'll make sure the whole school finds out about little Gracie Torres. You have one week starting this Monday.

- From The Dare Overlord.

Without even realising, hot tears pierced her eyes as she reread the dare. How the hell could the 'Dare Overlord' have any idea about Adam being transgender? The only ones who knew were herself, Drew and Adam's immediate family. Even though there was some slight sibling rivalry between the two Torres boys, Drew would never do anything like this to hurt Adam, right? He the one who usually made sure everyone left Adam alone. Clare shoved the dare inside her bag and tried to force the tears away. She couldn't let the 'Dare Overlord' know they'd won. Whoever they were, they clearly didn't care about hurting anyone's feelings and this just made Clare all the angrier.

Just as Clare turned to walk into Homeroom, someone barged right into her shoulder and she glared up at the annoyingly smug and somewhat stupid Imogen Moreno. Imogen seemed to be everywhere whenever Clare was at low points in her life. Imogen gave Clare a snide smile and said tauntingly, "Something the matter Clare-bear?" she giggled and strutted off, provoking Clare to scream after her, "Bitch!". Imogen gave Clare the finger and disappeared round the corner. Clare sighed and shook her head. She spun around and almost banged right somebody again. This time it turned out to be somebody she didn't mind banging into. Eli Goldsworthy.

"Clare Edwards screaming 'Bitch' at a Senior" Eli smirked, "Wow, that's a little impressive".

Clare smiled under Eli's stare, until her eyes flitted to his forehead and she caught something beneath his messy fringe. A bruise. A giant bruise and a healing cut. Without even realising what she was doing, Clare reached forwards and brushed her fingers against his hair, revealing the bruise. Eli snapped away from her and moved his hair back to cover up the cut.

"Eli, what was that?" Clare asked dryly.

"Nothing" Eli shook his head. He stared right at her for a moment or so until he concluded, "You were about to cry just there".

Clare looked a little taken back by how he could have guessed that. Then she sighed and glanced down at his leather jacket, wanting to feel underneath it again like she had two days ago. She sighed softly and whispered sadly "I have to go to Homeroom".

"Or" Eli leaned into her and let his fingers gently move against hers, "We could go hide out in Morty for the first period and you can tell me why you were about to cry".

"Skip class?" Clare's eyes widened incredulously.

Eli poked his tongue out at her and smirked, nodding. Then he let his fingers interlock with hers as he gently guided her towards the front door. He was surprised when he didn't feel her pulling away or rejecting the idea. In fact, she was laughing and smiling as they left Degrassi High and headed for the car park.

"I have always hated your car" Clare admitted as she got in the passenger seat.

Eli mocked offence, "Take that back or Morty will never let you out".

"Guess I'm never leaving then" Clare said softly and their eye contact made everything heat up again. How could you be friends with someone you had so much sexual tension with? It was like near to impossible.

"Tell me why you wanted to cry" Eli whispered, inching closer to Clare slightly.

"Only if you tell me where that bruise came from" Clare whispered back.

"Friendship doesn't include bargaining or blackmail, Clare" Eli replied emotionlessly.

After a silent moment, Clare looked up and realised Eli was much closer than before. She swallowed the lump in her throat and began, "I got a dare, from the 'Dare Overlord' and they want me to-well, I'm not too sure to be honest, but they want me to do something that's probably not great, and if I don't then a very close friend of mine is going to be hurt; in a very public, very horrible, very humiliating way".

"What's the dare?" Eli asked and Clare hadn't missed how Eli's eyes had darkened quite uncontrollably for some unknown reason.

"I've to go to a place called Sticky Ricky's, at 11PM, some time within this coming Monday and next Sunday and I've to ask for the 'Midnight Special'" Clare shrugged as she explained. She really had no idea what Sticky Ricky's was or what the 'Midnight Special' was either. She would have to go home and do some intense internet research.

Eli's lips went into a thin line of anger, "Clare, Sticky Ricky's is a cowboy themed strip club. It's this seedy little bar behind a back alleyway in town" his frowned intensified, "You can't go there".

"Well, I have to" Clare shrugged like it was obvious, "I can't let my friend be hurt when I could have done something. I mean, I guess I'm not thrilled about it being a strip club but all I'm doing is walking in and asking for a lap dance, right? Better to let Sticky Ricky's think I'm this twenty one year old sexually frustrated lesbian, then to let Adam-" she stopped abruptly when she realised she shouldn't have said Adam's name.

"I won't even ask" Eli reassured her instinctively. "But still, I don't want you walking into that horrible place all alone and guys thinking they can…" he trailed off, shaking his head. "And where exactly are you going to get a fake ID anyway?".

"You can hook me up" Clare smirked suddenly and laughed at Eli's raised eyebrows. "Right? You can, right?".

"Of course I can" Eli smirked back, "And for you, I'll even do it for free… On one condition" he added, "I obviously need to come with you".

"Oh you need to come with me?" Clare teased him, grinning, "Because you just need to see a hot oily naked girl rub herself all over me? You just need to see that, huh?".

Eli chuckled. "Not really. More like have to. I have to see that!" he smiled at Clare's infectious laughter. Once her laughter had died down, she came closer to him again, biting her lip. His arm was rested on the back of her seat and he knew she was coming closer because of some instinctual heat he felt too.

"Eli" Clare whispered and the sound made his eyes darken with lust. Clare pushed past that and let her fingers slide cautiously inside his leather jacket, feeling his simple grey t-shirt and the warm skin beneath it. "If we're going to be friends, you need to start opening up to me as well" Clare said so quietly she wasn't even sure Eli had heard it.

Then Eli let out a deep breath, his ribs moving with air under Clare's settled fingers. "My dad - Bullfrog - he does this thing, this routine. It started when my mom left us for another guy and another family" he swallowed the pain and forced himself to continue rather than break down, "Bullfrog drinks to cope and then he's fine again. Then he'll spiral and drink and then he's fine again. It's just something he does. And last night, he got drunk, I got cheeky and his beer bottle landed on my head".

Clare looked completely horrified. "Oh my god. Does this happen a lot?".

"No" Eli shook his head, "Not really. Usually he just gets so drunk I just leave him downstairs to sleep it off on the couch, he doesn't usually get violent. Last night just tipped him over the edge" he pondered about whether to tell Clare about his financial situation. He felt all his barriers come down when Clare scooted closer towards him and wrapped both her arms around his waist. "Our house is going to get repossessed in a month's time if my dad doesn't pay the outstanding balance. He says he's going to join the Navy and that I'll have to go live with my Aunt Maggie in New York" he glanced at Clare sadly.

"I wouldn't want you to go" Clare whispered against his chest.

"Me either" Eli said dryly. "That's why I've got another plan. I'm going to look for a job, look for two jobs even, and then by the time my house is repossessed I'll have enough to rent an apartment, maybe even flat share. I won't have to move to New York and Bullfrog can do whatever he wants" the pang in his chest reminded him he had only started this thing with Clare to get the $500 he so desperately needed. God, it didn't even feel like that anymore, not that it ever did. How was he falling for her so fast? He had almost forgot. Almost.

"That sounds like a great plan, Eli" Clare murmured sleepily and just at the thought of clever amazing Clare Edwards thinking his plan was great, Eli suddenly felt his stomach tumble with joy. "I'll help you look for a job" she settled into his side comfortably.

"Really?" Eli glanced down at her.

"Of course. That's what friends do" Clare smiled against his t-shirt. Both of their hearts sank at the word 'friends'.

"So" Eli let out a deep breath to calm his racing heartbeat at having her clinging to him like this kind of intimacy was normal. "What are you doing tonight?".

"My Church is having a cake Bakeoff to raise money for children in Africa, it's the same charity my sister went to Kenya with" Clare pulled away slightly but still remained close, "Me and my mom have got our own stall and all these cupcakes planned out" she smiled childishly, "I'll also be meeting my mom's boyfriend for the first time so that should be exciting" she rolled her eyes. "What are you doing?".

"Drew invited me to the Dot" Eli shrugged boredly. "I don't know, it's not really my thing".

"Come tonight, to the Bakeoff" Clare smiled.

"That's not really my thing, either" Eli replied, smirking. He added, "Save me a cupcake?". Clare nodded and Eli added, "Where's your phone?".

Clare pulled her phone out of her jeans pocket. "Here. Why?".

Eli reached out and took it from her without her even having time to react. "I'm just adding my number to your contacts" he smirked and Clare grinned back. "Then I'm going to text myself with your number" after another moment, Eli's phone started to beep and he handed Clare her phone back.

"Thank you" Clare said gingerly as she put her phone away. She sighed softly and said, "We should probably go back inside now. I can't skip anymore classes".

"Me neither" Eli shook his head sadly. He got out of the Driver's seat "We should have more Morty conversations, don't you think?".

"Oh definitely maybe" Clare replied as she got out the passenger seat. As the pair walked rather closely back into Degrassi, they had no idea they were being watched by a pair of undetected eyes.