Well this was a request story for Danielle (eclarelover22409), so I hope it lives up to her expectations!

I don't own.

Enjoy :)

"Come outside." His breath was warm against her ear.

She thought she'd imagined it; the music was blaring and it was crowded and the lights were dim, but when she turned, she caught his eyes that seemed to beckon please, before he was gone.

She reached for Alli, who was dancing wildly in front of her, completely terrified.

"I'll be right back!" she said over the music. Alli was laughing, but seeing Clare's expression, her face fell.

"You okay hunn?" Alli called back, holding Clare's hands. Clare nodded, smiling to reassure her. Alli looked at her knowingly. "I'll be right here," she swore, enveloping Clare in a hug. Jenna looked at her from Alli's other side before Alli took the blonde's arm to dance again.

Clare pushed her way through Drew's living room, searching for an exit.

"If you're looking for Dr. Doom, he's on the bench out back." Bianca.

Clare looked at her unsurely, nervous that the Brunette seemed to know so much about her. It was unnerving. She noticed that Bianca was standing awfully close to Drew, too close for an ex-girlfriend, but Clare didn't say anything. Who was she to say anything about Bianca at all?

"Downstairs and straight out the doors. You can't miss him."

Clare was somewhat mesmerized by her throaty, bored tone, but nodded curtly and whispered thanks before making her way downstairs.

Two weeks. No calls, no texts, no e-mails, nothing.

She'd texted him "Merry Christmas," and "Happy New Year," and of course he'd wished her well, but other than that, they'd been strangely silent.

And what was she supposed to do with silence?

She knew she said they'd talk when he got back. She just didn't know how hard it would be to wait.


"WHAT?" Alli and Jenna screamed in unison.

"Shh!" begged Clare. They were over at her house getting ready before the party.

"How? When?" Alli squeed gleefully, flapping her hands. "And why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"Alli!" Clare managed, praying her mom couldn't hear. "I'm sorry, it just all happened so fast, and I wanted to be sure what was going on before I told you, and-"

"So you kissed him?" Jenna asked incredulously.

"Yes..." Clare breathed out slowly. She risked a glance at the two girls.

They let out piercing screams.

Clare couldn't help but join in the laughter. "But don't be too excited," she added, "because I don't even know what's going on between us yet..."

"But wait," Alli blurted suddenly after she calmed down. "What about his...I mean, are you sure this is a good idea?"

Clare gave her an unconvincing smile.

"We're taking things slowly. I mean, we haven't even talked for the past two weeks..."

"So he hasn't even tried to call you?" Alli's eyes narrowed.

"I told him we'd talk when he got back," Clare explained. "And..." her voice dropped.

"What is it Clare bear?" Alli asked, touching her shoulder.

"And...I don't know if I want to hear what he has to say."

"Oh Clare," Alli sighed.

"I mean, what if he...doesn't feel the same way?"

"He sure seemed too," Jenna piped up. "Is he coming to Drew's party tonight?" she reached for Clare's laptop to open it to the Facerange invite. "Everyone is going to this party!"

"Lemme see," Alli said, pushing playfully in front of Jenna. "Look," she pointed, "his name is on the invite list...so you'll probably see him..."

Clare's breath caught in her throat. She was hoping he'd been left off the list, only for the sake of her nerves, but seeing as the party was at the Torres', Adam had probably insisted.

"Clare," Alli repeated. "We don't have to go. We can stay here and have a fun girls night..." but Clare picked up on the hope in her friend's voice - the hope that they could go to the last party before second Semester began.

"No," Clare smiled. "Parties aren't really his thing. He probably won't even be there. We should go. We should have fun. I'll talk to him later."

The three girls exchanged radiant smiles and giggles, and although Clare's were slightly forced, she was excited about tonight.

"And," Alli winked, taking Clare's hand, "you don't have to worry about him not returning your feelings. Okay?"

"Thank you," Clare breathed, hugging her. But nothing could calm the nervous kicks in her stomach.

"I'm not sure about him yet, after everything he put you through," Alli continued, looking at Clare and then Jenna, "but I'll be here for you no matter what you decide. We both will."


She stumbled down the stairs into the last group of people who were gathered in Drew's basement, shouting at the TV and playing Xbox. She stopped suddenly, catching a shock of raven-coloured hair, but realized it wasn't him.

She didn't know if she could do this. He wasn't supposed to be here. She was supposed to just have fun with her friends tonight. She was supposed to wait until school started again to speak with him. She wasn't supposed to be shaking.

Had he looked happy? When he'd whispered in her ear, she hadn't gotten a good look at his face, he'd disappeared too quickly. She couldn't remember if his expression had been hopeful or hateful. Why had he waited until today to say anything? He was probably trying to avoid her. Probably ready to tell her he didn't want to get back together, so when he saw her at the party, he realized that there was no point in delaying the inevitable. God, why did he have to tell her here?

She felt a sudden onrush of tears, her heart heavy. She couldn't blame him. They'd been apart for too long. Had moved onto other people.

Maybe they could just be friends. They were always good friends...

She'd rather have him as a friend than not at all.

But when had that ever worked for them?

Before she knew it, she'd burst through Drew's basement door into the bitter cold, just clicking it shut when she saw him.

He looked up at her under his bangs from his place on the bench, his hands clasped together in his lap.

Time seemed to slow, and Clare resisted the urge to fix her hair and clothing with all her strength. The silence between them was deafening. Only the soft murmur of voices and music from Drew's house reminded her where she was; everything beating in time with her heart. Fast.

She froze, time catching up so it felt like her head was in a whirlwind. Seeing the hint of uncertainty in his eyes made her want to run. Made her want to be anywhere but here. Just get it over with, she pleaded.

"Hi," he rasped, his voice hollow.

No. She couldn't risk speaking, especially when she was so close to tears, so she smiled instead.

"Clare," he began, and she had to step back. "...thanks for coming. Do you want to sit?"

She shook her head. He cocked his neck, struggling to find the right words.

"I've thought about things a lot over the past two weeks..." he went on lowly, "...well almost two weeks," he smirked and she had to bite her lip. "I've thought a lot about what you said. I'm sorry that I waited to tell you this here. But I couldn't wait anymore. I have to be honest with you. I just feel like-"

"It's okay," she choked out, "I understand. We'll just be friends, it's okay, I mean we don't even have to be friends if you don't want to, I completely understand, I mean it's for the best, it's better like this right? I don't want to be a trigger for you and I shouldn't have kissed you and-" she was pulling on the handle now, desperate to disappear, when she realized he'd jumped from the bench to stand in front of her, his hand gripping her arm.

"Clare stop," he uttered desperately.

"No, it's okay, I know you don't have feelings for me anymore and-"

He took her face so firmly in his hands that she forgot to breathe, the both of them balancing on the edge of forever.

"I-" she gasped, but he pressed his mouth over hers.

His kiss was controlled and needy, calming and igniting, offering her the security she craved and the promise of everything she needed to know. I'm here, the pressure of his lips assured, don't be afraid.

He stopped to look at her, her eyes fluttering open only a moment after his. She'd never seen him look so happy.

"Did you really think I could ever let you go?" he whispered. His eyes were bright, beaming, and she watched a single tear trail down his cheek.

She grabbed his hand, reveling in the bliss of knowing that he felt the same way. They were finally here. After everything. They were here.

She pulled him to the bench, pressing her knees to his when they sat down. She was glad for the rest, realizing how weak her body had become.

"I was scared you didn't feel the same way," she mused, lacing her fingers with his. "You seemed so distant these past two weeks..."

He let out a relieved laugh. "Only because I was sure I was dreaming. Of course I feel the same way. I just didn't want to push you, or make you feel pressured or scare you away. I was so scared I was going to screw everything up again."

She traced her fingers over his palms now. "I missed you so much."

His jaw was set in firm line, but his eyes were kindled with something she thought she wouldn't see again. Hope. For them.

"I'm so happy," he confessed, his voice like velvet. He held her fingers, his hands warm.

They glanced at each other, so close yet so far. They had gone from friends to lovers to rivals to strangers to enemies to acquaintances to partners and weren't sure how to go on from here. Their kiss seemed a thousand years ago now, and their touching was fumbling and awkward, too much and not enough at the same time.

He let go of her hands to stroke his thumb across her cheek, in awe that he could even touch her at all.

"Where do we go from here?" he asked nervously.

"Forward," she answered sincerely. "We acknowledge our baggage, and try again."

"You want to try again?" he breathed.

"Yes," she murmured, grabbing onto his hand again.

"I'm so happy," he repeated, leaning down to kiss her fingertips.

"Me too," she smiled, feeling the warm trail of tears down her cheeks.

They swayed in silence for a moment, Clare pressing her self against him in a hug. Their hearts beat in harmony.

"We have to go slowly," she said, looking up at him. "We need to communicate better, and really work at it."

"I know. I have to be honest with you, and you have to learn to trust me, and we'll take it day by day," he promised, regarding her warmly.

"I know," she nodded. "I'm here."

And although it was too soon, and everything was raw and reborn, soft I love you's passed between them, quiet as the rain.

They talked for another half hour, Clare finding her way onto his chest as he leaned back onto the bench, his arms around her waist, his legs around hers.

"Clare?" he whispered after a while, sleep threatening to pull them under even with the party raging a few yards away. They should have been cold in the crisp January air, but only found unyielding warmth in each other's arms.

"Mm?" she sighed, stroking his hands.

"We have an unusual amount of special moments on benches."

She laughed and laughed until they were a tangle of limbs in the snow, everything just as it should be.

aajlkajlffskk, well I hope that was okay and that you liked this :)