Author's Note: Not the best quality but I like it. Enjoy! Oh yeah, and I do not own Degrassi.
Saying I Love You
"Whoa, what are you doing here?" Adam's brow furrowed as he opened the sliding glass door further, allowing the girl to step inside.
"He won't say it," she folded her arms over her chest, a frown planted upon her face.
"Who won't say what?" Adam asked, his brow-line deepening with confusion, "And shouldn't you be macking with your boyfriend? It is your birthday, after all." He raised a teasing eyebrow, hoping she'd say some banter in return. All he got was a glare.
"Sorry," he held up his hands in surrender, "So what happened? I thought after the party broke up, you two hung around for a bit?"
"We did," Clare sunk down onto the couch, and Adam had no choice but to sit down next to her. He hated when there was drama between Clare and Eli. They were his best friends, and he absolutely hated being stuck in the middle.
"What happened?" Adam prompted gently.
"I've said it three times now," Clare explained, "Once when he gave me my framed article. Once after I told him about what happened with Asher, and once when he dropped me off at my house after the party broke up. I have said it three times, Adam. And he has never once said it in reply. Not since we uh…broke up that is."
Yikes, Adam's eyes widened, and he knew he should try to play neutral in this one, "Well uh…he might just not be quite ready to yet…"
"Adam, he threw me a surprise party. He is so sweet and so caring. I know he still loves me. I know it. After I told him what happened with Asher…he stood by me. He loves me…he just won't say it."
"What exactly did happen with Asher?" Adam's brow furrowed.
Clare sighed, hating having to relay the story again, but this was Adam and he was one of her best friends, "Asher…he sexually harassed me."
"Oh my God!"
"And I went to his boss, but she didn't believe me and I ended up getting fired for 'inappropriate behavior.' I kept it from Eli because I didn't want to trigger a breakdown or something. I know, it was wrong to hide it from him…I was just so scared. But tonight, I told him and we were fine. But when I told him I love him, he just stared off into space."
"God Clare...I am so sorry."
"Eli told me we'd get through," Clare stared at her hands, folded in her lap, sadly.
"He's hurting," Adam frowned, wondering how much he should tell Clare, and how much he should just let Eli tell her himself when he was ready, "And he's scared. That's all I can tell you. I'm Switzerland here, Clare!"
"I know," Clare smiled a sad, faraway smile before a light bulb went off.
"Uh-oh," Adam winced, scooting as far away from her as the confines of the couch would allow, "You have that look in your eyes. That I've-got-an-idea look. The look that means somehow I am going to be wrangled into helping you with said idea."
Clare nodded, her smile growing with each passing second, "Please just hear me out."
"Clare…" Adam protested, "I don't know…"
"I need you to help with this!"
Her voice sounded so desperate. Not that I'd ever admit it to anyone, but I was almost wrapped around Clare's little finger as much as Eli was. Whenever she needed something, I couldn't say no to her. Especially not when she looked so desperate – like her heart might break if I didn't.
"What do you want?" I sighed dramatically, letting her know that I wasn't going to give in quite so easily.
She could see right passed me, and knew that I was caving, "I want you to help me figure out why Eli won't tell me he loves me."
"Clare, that's really kind of…well…don't take it the wrong way…but it's kind of superficial. He'll tell you when he's ready to. Trust that."
"But I want to know why he isn't ready yet. There must be something wrong, Adam. That's all I want to know. I want to know what's so wrong with us that he can't say it."
Adam nodded, understanding now more of where she was coming from, "And just how do you purpose I help you do that?"
"Bring up saying 'I love you' around him. See what his reaction…"
"Oh no," Adam held up his hands in objection, "First rule of the bud code: show it, don't say it."
"But I am not Eli's bud," Clare said plainly, "I am his girlfriend. I know he loves me, but I want to know why he feels like he can't say it to me. Please Adam, help me. It really breaks my heart when I say it, and there's just silence on his end."
Adam thought it over. She did have a point. She had been distant from Eli because of Asher, but now he was being a bit distant with her. She deserved to know why. Adam sighed and shook his head, wanting to put off giving into her for as long as he possibly could.
"Please, Adam," Clare begged again, "I need to know what's wrong. He told me we're all in, but right now…I just kind of doubt that he's all in. And I feel so badly for doubting that."
"It's fine," Adam finally gave in, "I'll causally bring it up."
"Oh my goodness, thank you so much!" Clare flung her arms around Adam's neck, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"Yeesh," Adam wiggled out of grasp, "Consider this your birthday present from me."
The next day, Adam and Eli were studying together. They decided to take a break, and Eli went to use the bathroom. Adam glanced around the basement for something he could use as a prompt for Clare's little assignment. Finally, he spotted the crossword puzzle section of the newspaper in the garbage bin. Adam quickly dug it out, and adjusted himself where his knees were pulled up to his chest, and the crossword was on a notebook resting on his thighs.
When Eli came out of the bathroom, drying his hands on his skinny jeans, Adam asked, "Hey, help me with this will you?"
"Since when do you do crosswords?" Eli stared at him with that bug-eyed 'what the hell' look he usually reserved for Becky Baker.
"Since you decided to take a decade to take a shit and I got bored," Adam shrugged.
"Ass," Eli rolled his eyes, "What are you stuck on?" He sat down in one of the chairs across from the sofa, "Give it here."
"No, I just have a question. What is a five-letter word for dwelling?"
"Seriously?" There was that look again, "House, idiot."
"Oh," Adam tapped the pen to the newspaper as if he had just had some revelation, "Thanks."
"Oh, and while you're helping me…what is an eight-letter phrase for a display of affection."
"Eight letter phrase? Since when do crosswords ask for phrases?"
"I dunno," Adam shrugged, "So are you gonna help me or not?"
"I guess I love you."
"Aww, thanks man."
"No, I mean…you know what I mean," Eli rolled his eyes, "The answer. The answer is I love you."
"Ah, yes. That makes sense," Adam nodded, pretending to scribble in the answer, "So…I bet now that you and Clare are back and better than ever, you two can't stop saying that to each other, huh? Cheeseballs."
Eli winced and ran a hand through his hair, "Let's get back to studying for this test."
"Wait…you two have said it each other, right?" Adam was fishing, "Because, like, everyone with eyes can tell that it's true."
Eli shrugged, "Why does it matter then? If everyone can see that we love each other, why do we have to say it?"
"I dunno," Adam shrugged, "What do I know. I just thought it'd be nice to just kind of…reaffirm…"
The bug-eyed look was making its appearance again, and Adam started to back-pedal, "Well…you know what I mean. I just…I think it'd be…you know…well…uh…has she said it?"
"Yeah," Eli adverted his eyes to the carpeting on the floor, "A couple'a times."
"And you never said it back?" Adam peered over the crossword.
"Well…no," Eli shrugged, "I just don't see why I need to."
"You do love her though, right?" Adam asked a little bit more nervously than he had anticipated.
"Of course," Eli finally met Adam's gaze and stared him right in the eyes as he said, "I love so much, Adam."
"Why haven't you told her that then?" Adam shrugged, "Just sayin'."
"Because," Eli sighed and turned away from the gaze, "Whenever I love something, it gets taken away from me. I love Clare, but I am scared if I say it outloud, it'll curse it and I'll lose her again. I loved Julia and I lost her. I love Clare, and I lost her."
"You love your parents," Adam reminded him, "And you still have them."
Eli shrugged, "I just don't want to fuck this up, Adam."
"By not telling her you love her, you're only causing more damage."
"Did she say something to you?" Eli's face paled and he glared at Adam.
"Damn…shit," Eli hissed, running his hand through his hair, "I can't believe this! She talked to you about my lack of telling her I love her?"
"She…she came by last night," Adam admitted, "And she told me that she had said it to you several times, and it worried her why you wouldn't say it back. She said she didn't want to force you to say it, she just wanted to know why you felt like you couldn't say it."
"I've got to go talk to her," Eli hopped up from the couch and grabbed his leather jacket off of the coffee table. "I'll be back later."
Adam glanced around the basement at Eli's neglected backpack and books as Eli charged out the sliding glass door, and off to go find Clare.
He arrived at her house, and nervously made his way up to the front door. He lifted his fist to knock, and felt his knuckles twinge with pain. He decided to just stick to ringing the doorbell instead. After a few minutes, Clare opened the door.
"I know, I know. 'What are you doing here,'" Eli rolled his eyes at her familiar greeting.
"Is everything okay?" Clare's brow furrowed.
"No, it's not," Eli grabbed her hand and pulled her outside on the porch, "Clare, I screwed up."
"What happened?" Her eyes were swimming with a mix of emotions, "Eli?"
"I messed up. I was scared, Clare. I was scared that if I actually told you that I love you, it'd curse what we have and I can't…I can't lose you again. I…I love you too much, Clare Edwards."
"Eli…" Clare didn't know what to say, luckily Eli took care of that issue for her and captured her lips in a kiss.
After breaking apart, Clare held on to the lapels of Eli's jacket with her fists, smiled up at him, and said, "I am going to kill Adam."
"Subtleness isn't his strongest suit, is it?" Eli smiled down at her, pressing her nose against hers, "I love you."
"I know. I always knew. It just scared me why you weren't saying it back."
"We're both so scared of ruining this, or something happening to ruin this," Eli brushed a curl from her eyes, their noses still pressed together, "No more being scared. Just trust. Trust that I love you, and trust that you love me. And trust that that love is enough."
Clare nodded, "Our love is enough. Our love is stronger than we give it credit."
"I believe so," Eli twisted the curl around his finger, "You're so beautiful…especially right after you've just been kissed. You have this wide-eyed flushed look to you that makes me think that you haven't been kissed nearly as much as you deserve."
"Then fix that," Clare smiled up at him, her eyes twinkling with smiles of their own.
"You don't have to tell me twice," Eli kissed her again. After breaking apart the kiss, he said again, "I love you, Clare Edwards. Always."