Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I don't own the the characters, the plot, or Degrassi. If I had a mind as creative as that then I wouldn't be wasting my time writing fanfiction. :)
Author's Notes: This is a companion story to "Safe Ride." Thanks so much for all of your support, it means so much to me! Your reviews are all amazing and motivating. I hope you like the second chapter and please read, enjoy and leave a review. :)
Twitter = xomurxo
BURY THE HATCHET
"I tried to hold your hand but you'd rather hold your grudge..."
After school let out, Eli found himself pacing on the doorstep of the familiar house, his palms sweaty with nerves. It took him a few minutes before he gathered up enough courage to knock on the door, not knowing who, or what, he would be met with on the other side. He waited, bouncing on the balls of his feet anxiously, but no one came to greet him. Once more he knocked, only to be met with silence. Taking hold of the doorknob, he fiddled with the metal, to find it unlocked. Taking a risk, Eli slowly turned the knob, allowing himself his own entry into his girlfriend's house.
A shiver ran down Eli's spine as he was met with the emptiness, the sensation of desolation overwhelming from the minute he walked inside. It was eerily silent, which only worked to amplify his anxiety.
"Clare?" Eli called out, his eyes scanning the downstairs. The house seemed completely vacant, which was odd, considering the occupants were usually bustling around every time Eli had visited.
"Clare!" He tried once more, hesitating at the start of the staircase. Without a second thought, Eli took the stairs quietly, stopping before Clare's room. Her door was shut and Eli didn't want to invade her privacy. A sound from inside caught his attention. Before he had a chance to knock, Eli could hear the distinct sound of sniffling. More guilt pulled at him as Eli kicked himself for not being there for her before. She had needed him and Eli had let her down.
He knocked softly and heard the rustling of movement from the other side before he was met with a red-eyed Clare Edwards.
"What do you want?" She asked, anger lacing her voice. It was evident to Eli that she didn't want him here, but what else was he supposed to do?
"I... Clare, I'm... uh... worried about you."
"Well don't be. You've done enough worrying."
Eli recoiled at the venom in her voice and tried desperately to keep his anger in check. Blowing up at her would only successfully push Clare away, which was the opposite of what he had been planning on doing. He needed to talk to her, to get inside of her head, so he could pull her out of the slump she had impulsively thrown herself into.
"Just get out of here, Eli," she continued, crossing her arms in front of her chest in the most uninviting position Eli had ever witnessed. If her words didn't bite, her body language held more than enough edge on its own. Still, Eli wouldn't budge. Instead, he matched her position, crossing his own arms in front of his body, fixing Clare with a stern glare.
"When was the last time you left your room?" He questioned, worried that her answer would coincide with his suspicions. The trial had been on Friday and he hadn't heard from Clare since then. It was Monday. That was three days cooped up in a tiny cubicle which would do nothing to alleviate the onset of depression that Clare was slipping into.
"That's really none of your business."
"Clare," he growled, having had enough with the bitter sarcasm. His patience was wearing thin.
"I never asked you to come here," she responded hotly. She placed her hands on the wooden door and pushed forcefully, trying to lock him out.
"Oh no," Eli started, using his body as a barricade, not allowing her to shut him out. There had been enough of that over the past few months and Eli would not be allowing Clare to make a habit of it. "You're not just going to hide out here in your room feeling sorry for yourself."
Clare's eyes widened at the harsh words, surprised at her boyfriend's uncharacteristic callousness. After all she had been through, with the premature ending to her internship, the crushed dream of becoming a journalist and the pure humiliation that consumed her in the courtroom, Clare believed she had every right to hide away from the world and feel sorry for herself. Eli just didn't understand. He wasn't the one who was stuck in that car with Asher. He wasn't the one who was forced to tell his story in front of the police. He wasn't the one who was thought of as an immature school girl. Clare just couldn't do it anymore. The fleeting moment of surprise passed and Clare was able to recover quickly, before Eli could see that he had struck a nerve.
"Get out, Eli. I'm not going to ask you again," she responded firmly, her voice dangerously low.
"Fine, you want me to leave, I will. But Clare, if I walk out that door, I'm not coming back. I can't... I can't do this anymore."
Clare swallowed the lump that was forming in her throat, momentarily immobile. The mere thought of Eli gone for good, the idea of not having him in her corner, was so overwhelming that she instantly panicked. The tears that she had managed to hold inside since Eli had arrived, slowly trailed down her cheeks. She turned around, hoping he didn't see.
"Then go," she whispered, her voice shaky with emotion she couldn't suppress.
Eli remained quiet for a long time, as if he was debating with himself whether or not he should stay. Cautiously, Eli stepped further into the room, walking in front of Clare so he was face to face with her. He frowned at the tears coursing down her face and he wanted nothing more than to make them stop, to make Clare feel better again. He knew, better than anyone, how broken a person could become without support. He had suffered with his own demons and came out strong. Eli was certain that if Clare let him, he could do the same for her. She just had to have a little faith in him.
"Come here," he whispered, reaching his arms around her to hold her, something he desperately missed and affection he knew she needed. At first her body wasn't responsive, but after a few seconds Clare relaxed into the hold, her own arms worming their way around Eli's lean body. She let out a sob, stifling it by hiding her face in his shoulder, comforted by the familiarity. Eli was safe and safe was what Clare needed.
"I don't know what's wrong with me," she whispered so softly that Eli almost missed it. He placed a chaste kiss against her temple and held her tighter, wishing he could be strong enough for both of them.
"Shh," he hushed next to her ear. "We will figure everything out, okay?"
"There's nothing left to figure out."
Eli knew what she meant, but he refused to allow her to believe that. Sure, Asher got away with this, but Eli still believed there was a way to trap him. There had to be some sort of loophole that they had missed, some piece of evidence that hadn't been brought into the courtroom. Wasn't it common practice to have a retrial if additional evidence was found that could help prove the case? Eli wasn't giving up completely, not yet. At the very least he wanted Clare to realize that she didn't do anything wrong, that it was Asher who abused his authority and messed up everything, not the other way around.
"Asher will pay, Clare."
She pushed away at his words, a renewal of anger coursing through her veins. Nothing would have made Clare happier than to push the memories away for good, to allow time to heal the wounds that were so raw and fresh in her mind. If she was ever going to successfully get over this, Clare knew she had to forget, and if that meant sulking and mourning her losses, then so be it. But she was in no way ready for a rematch and she was unwilling, this time around, to attempt some sort of revenge. Eli had his chance to help her with that and he had fell short. He took the easy way out and made her look like an utter fool in the process. Clare was not going down that road again. She knew all too well what Eli's help in this matter could be like.
"It's over. I thought you agreed on no more personal vendettas anyways," she bit back, not so subtly trying to hint at all his failed take down missions in the past, when he was still acting, well, crazy.
"This is more than that and we both know it."
"What he did to you... it's not right!"
Clare scoffed under her breath. Obviously, she knew that. She knew that a boss shouldn't treat an employee, an intern, a sixteen year old, like that. She knew that she was the victim here, but admitting that made her feel too... vulnerable. It was easier to place the blame on herself because then it seemed as if she had some ounce of control over the situation. The phone calls, the tweets the extensive compliments shoved in Asher's direction, they were all ammunition used against her, yet they were also the things that kept herself from falling apart. If she had some sort of control in the situation, it meant that she was stronger than him. It meant that she did not allow an authoritative figure to violate her. It meant that she welcomed it. As twisted and as nonsensical as it sounded, blaming it on herself was easier to swallow than admitting she was a victim of harassment.
"No use going in this circle again," she finally stated, after a long, uncomfortable silence had enveloped them.
"You can't do this to yourself. You can't beat yourself up about it and spend all your time in your room. You can't skip school for the rest of your life, Clare."
"If I hadn't been forced to go through with a trial, then I wouldn't have to hide out. I can't show my face there after everyone knows what happened." Clare's body began to shake, goosebumps rising on her skin. The thought alone of walking through the hallways of Degrassi, with everyone sparing her sympathetic glances, made Clare want to throw-up. What was worse was it was all Eli's fault that this had become such a public affair. He was supposed to be her biggest ally, yet he seemed to be the one to lead her to a fast-coursed destruction.
"I had to tell Ms. Oh. I couldn't let him get away with that!"
"But he did!" Clare screeched, throwing her hands up in the air in exasperation. She felt so tired all of a sudden, so emotionally drained. It seemed like all her brain could wrap itself around these days were the events leading up to the case and the misery she felt now that it was over. It was physically and mentally taking a toll on her, and Clare wanted nothing more than to crawl into a ball and sleep, without the option of waking up for a long, long time.
"I'm not the bad guy here."
She paused and shook her head, laughing dryly.
"Really? Because all this happened when you got involved."
"Eli, I think you need to go home."
He looked at her with wide eyes, and tried to walk closer to her, but she wouldn't allow any more intimacy.
"We can't do this anymore."
"What are you saying?" He asked her nervously, sending a silent prayer to a God that he didn't believe in that it wasn't what he thought.
"We need to break up."
Eli took a sharp intake of breath and nodded his head. "Fine," he agreed, sick of fighting. "I'll leave."
And with that he left Clare alone, to get lost in her own thoughts, because he honestly couldn't deal with it anymore.
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