Author's Note: Takes place right after Eli returns to school after the accident. Taking some inspiration from SCele – but not taking her story. I hope you don't mind, hon! But really, go check out her story entitled: When It Alteration Finds. It's very good! Anyways, go check it out. I apologize, but this is slightly AU in regards to Jake and company.
Logistics: I do not own Degrassi or the song "Be Somebody" by Thousand Foot Krutch. Enjoy! Oh – I also don't know Eli's birthday, or their IM screen names so just make do with what I choose!
We Are All See Through Just Like Glass; And we Can Shatter Just as Fast
Chapter One - You Can't Always Get What You Want
Clare had known this day would come eventually, but there was no way she could possibly mentally prepare herself – or emotionally prepare herself. She knew one day she would have to face him, but for a few brief weeks, she could pretend she didn't have to. Now, her façade was coming to an end. Adam had texted her last night to inform, or warn, her.
"He's coming back tomorrow." – Was all the text said.
Clare had stared at her phone, brow knitted together in confusion before she realized the significance of Adam's words. Eli would be coming back to school tomorrow. Clare had sunk down on her bed, holding her phone delicately in her hands. It took her a moment to text back.
"Okay." – She had responded. Adam had a rule in regards to them. He wasn't going to talk about one to the other. It was a simple rule, but it had driven Clare mad. She had desperately wanted to know if he was okay, but Adam wouldn't budge on the subject. It was his one rule. She knew better than to try and break it, and instead put her phone on the nightstand by her bed, and tried to get some rest.
Of course that didn't happen. She laid awake the entire night, wondering how she would ever face him after everything that had happened between them. She tried to tell herself that she had done the right thing in walking out on him – for both their sanities. It scared her how attached he had been to her that he had almost ended his life. That was toxic. She wouldn't allow them to be put in that situation ever again, and she had walked out on him.
Maybe…maybe things aren't as bad as I think, Clare tried to convince herself, maybe he understands. He knows what he did was wrong, and he'll apologize and I'll apologize and he and I will go back to being friends like we were before.
It was stupid and naïve, but she couldn't help but think that maybe everything would be okay in the end. He couldn't have a girlfriend right now anyways – he needed to sort out his own issues before he could commit to another person's. Clare sighed and rolled over, hugging her pillow to her. Everything seemed so mixed up. It was amazing how things could change so quickly. She and Eli were broken up, she had a new step-family, and everything seemed flipped upside down.
It had just been a few weeks – just a few weeks and her whole world was no longer her own.
The next morning, her alarm clock rung out its familiar, annoying tune. She slapped it into silence and groggily got out of bed. She decided to get up a little bit early this morning to curl her hair. She didn't want to say she was doing it for Eli, but she was. She didn't want to look as worn and defeated as she had felt all those weeks. She didn't want him to know the effect he had had on her – that his almost-death almost killed her. Of course, his injuries were not all that serious, but she hadn't known that at the time of his phone call – and the crash most certainly could have killed him.
Clare shuddered at the thought as the curling iron heated. After applying her makeup – she paid extra care to conceal the gray bags under her eyes – she worked on her hair. Once her auburn curls were how she had wanted them, she slipped into her outfit for the day – navy skirt, black and white striped shirt, red flower headband. She slipped into some ballet flats and headed downstairs for breakfast. After pouring herself a bowl of Special K, her phone lit up, alerting her that she had another text message.
Clare glanced at her phone and read the text from Adam, "You okay? You didn't text me back."
"I'm fine," Clare lied, "Want to walk to school together?"
"Can't. At Eli's right now."
"Yeah. Just checking on you. Sure you're fine? You're not lying to me?"
Clare gulped. Why could Adam always read her so well? She lied again, "Nope. All is good here."
"See you at school."
When Clare arrived at school, she headed straight to her locker. She could feel her stomach tightening into knots and tangles of nerves. She felt herself growing nauseous, but she knew she would have to face him sometime. She couldn't just hide from him forever. He would be back at school today, and they still had English together. As Clare was closing her locker, she turned just in time to see him walking down the hall with Adam.
He had his red polo on underneath a black leather jacket and he was wearing the regulation khaki pants with his Aldo sneakers – just like any other time. But Clare noticed he was different. His face looked so…aged. She could cover up evidence of wear and tear with makeup, but Eli was a different story. He had his eyeliner on though, and his nails were still painted black. Then Clare noticed the cane in his hand. She noticed that the cane had a skull on the top, just like Robert Mapplethorpe. Clare couldn't help but see the similarities. Mapplethorpe saw pain in beauty and beauty in pain, just as Eli could.
He was walking with an evident limp, and she wanted to scream when she noticed the people in the halls staring at him as if he were some sort of sideshow carnival act. Then she realized that she too was staring, and quickly turned away. She pretended that she had forgotten something in her locker, and busied herself with twisting in the combination as they passed. She wasn't going to be like all the other gawkers, treating him as curiosity. He deserved better than that.
When she walked into her English class, Ms. Dawes called her over to her desk, "Miss Edwards, Mr. Goldsworthy was able to complete some of his assignments through emails, but I trust that as his English partner, you will help him to get caught back up."
"Oh…" Clare's eyes fell to the linoleum tiles.
"Unless there's a problem?" Ms. Dawes raised her eyebrow, "Miss Edwards?"
"Good. I already sent him an email previously informing him that I want you two to meet up and work on an assignment together."
"Due to the fact that you were unable to work on the last group project together. I want you both to write the creative biographical essay on the other that I assigned about a week back. I allowed you to do a different essay prompt because of the given situation. Now that he is back in school, I expect both of you to work on completing this assignment together. Your grade depends on his, and his grade depends on yours, Miss Edwards."
"Um…what did Eli have to say about this?"
"He's on board. You two need the grade to get a passing grade in this class."
"Yes, Ms. Dawes. Um…when is this assignment due?"
"Next Friday. I think that is more than generous. Here is a rubric for you two to review."
Clare thanked her, took the paper, and returned to her seat. As soon as she sat down, she scanned the paper –
Your assignment is to work with your partners on an essay about the other. Your grades are dependent upon each other. This assignment is useful to familiarize yourself with your partner and see if the two of you are a good fit to carry on as partners in grade twelve English. If so, you will keep the same partners next year; and if not, you will be reassigned. The essay must be a more than three pages double-spaced and no more than six pages typed. Please be creative with this, students. I do not want the typical, "He was born on...in...at...Hospital." Dig deeper. Get to the root of who this other person is. Good luck!
Clare glared at the paper in her hands. I can just tell Ms. Dawes now that Eli and I do not want to work with each other next year and save everyone the trouble of this assignment…
She glanced up as she heard the sound of wood clanking against tile. Eli was standing in the doorway. Adam was holding his bag as he hobbled through the threshold and over to his usual seat in front of Clare. She bristled, but he didn't even seem to notice. He hadn't even looked at her.
Clare shot a glance towards Adam who sent her a small wave in return. It was so strange to her – this new tension. It was so odd to her not to hold his hand or smile at him or say something that'd make him roll his eyes and smirk or laugh. This was so different, and she didn't like it one bit. She had at least expected he'd say something to her, anything.
Adam took his usual seat next to her, and was pulling out his books when Clare leaned forward. He dropped his books on his desk and shot her, "Oh-no-you-don't" glance, but Clare ignored it.
"So…when do you want to get together and work on our papers Ms. Dawes assigned us?"
"I know you, you know me. What's there to possibly work on?"
"Well…she wanted us to work on it together. My grade depends on yours and yours…"
"I think we can handle our papers just fine without having to meet up and 'get together.'" Eli rolled his eyes so callously that it sent shivers down her spine. Clare was about to say something else, but as she opened her mouth to do so, Adam placed a hand on her arm and shook his head.
Clare sighed and leaned back against her seat. She knew things would be different, but she wasn't expecting them to be this different. He truly did hate her. Clare rested her chin on her wrist as she stared down at the tile flooring.
"So…" Adam smiled at Clare, "Are we still on for movie night? Eli says despite being a cripple, he can still kick my butt at Mario Kart, so I was thinking maybe we can move movie night to Saturday and I can hang out with Eli Friday?"
This was beginning to feel like a custody battle. Eli turned around and said, "Saturday is the signing at the comic store. Adam, you said you'd go." He shot Clare a stare with ice in his eyes. It was so cold that she felt a chill run down her spine. She didn't like the look he had in his eyes, or the spark that flashed in them. Something was different. Something had died in those eyes.
"We can move movie night to next weekend?" Clare suggested, not liking this one bit, "It's fine. You should go to the signing. We can always move around movie night."
"I guess…are you sure you don't mind?"
"Yeah," Clare lied, "It's fine."
Class started and Eli turned back around in his desk. Throughout the lecture, Clare was only partially listening. She didn't like the feeling she had about this whole thing. It did feel like a custody battle, and her heart went out to Adam for having to be in the middle of everything. Everything was so different. Her life had changed so much, and this was not what she had expected.
She had gotten it into her head that things would have been like they were before she dated Eli. Now she knew she could never go back to that, and it killed her. She wanted so desperately to laugh with him and see his smile and that wretched smirk. But things were different now – and sometimes, you can't always get what you want.
That evening, Clare was sitting at home reviewing the rubric for the essay. It was a ridiculous assignment. Couldn't they just tell Ms. Dawes that they didn't want to work together and have that be the end of it? She tossed the rubric aside and headed towards the laptop at her desk. Maybe Eli did have a point. She could easily write an essay on him without him being present. But something inside her desperately wanted him there. She hated having to write about him without him there to agree or disagree. What if she crossed a line with what she was writing? Either way, just to have him next to her, working on an assignment with her would have been better than this…
As she opened up a new document to begin writing, an evil thought entered her mind. She opened up her Instant Messenger, and noticed that Eli was online. One question wouldn't hurt, right? She sighed as she positioned her fingers above the laptop keys and gathered her thoughts. After she had mentally prepared herself for what she was about to do, she began to type, "Question: You were born on September 15th, right?"
She held her breath as she waited for a response. He was online. She knew he had seen her question. She ran her teeth over her bottom lip as she could practically hear the seconds ticking by. Finally, at the bottom of the window, it said in small type: "Goldsworthy666 is typing…"
Clare still held her breath as she noticed the "Goldsworthy666 is typing" disappear. He had erased what he said. Then it reappeared. He was retyping. What was he saying? Come on, Eli – it's a simple question. Just reply to me!
"You know my birthday."
Clare released the breath from her lungs and desperately tried to think up a response. Finally, she typed, "It's such a ridiculous assignment. I mean, obviously we don't work well together. I don't even understand why we have to make up the assignment. Or at least me. I didn't miss any of my assignments."
After she hit send, she realized how selfish that sounded, and she wished she had realized it sooner – before she had sent it. Eli didn't say anything for a long time, and Clare finally tired of staring at the IM window, opened up her iTunes and listened to music while she waited for a response. She didn't hear the words of the songs – all she could think about was Eli sitting at his computer.
She decided to play a game of solitaire while she waited for a response – if he would respond. About ten minutes later, she had almost forgotten about the IM chat, until the window at the bottom of the page flashed and a ping sounded, interrupting the song she was listening to. He had replied!
Clare quickly closed out of the solitaire game, and checked the IM. All it said was –
Well what the heck did that mean? He could have just signed off without saying goodnight. He could have just ignored her and gone to bed; but he had specifically said 'goodnight.' Clare's brain felt dizzy with confusion. I guess I should know better – I mean, it comes with the territory – Eli is absolutely impossible to read. And just when I was starting to…