Eli's POV

"Please?"

"Clare."

"Pleeeease?"

"Alright, alright," I laughed. I would never admit it, but I was powerless against her whine, no matter what emotion was behind it. "But how are you planning on clearing this with your mother, may I ask?" My tone was playful, but it was a question I'd love to know the answer to. After the Asher incident, it wasn't really able to be kept hidden that Clare and I were together again. It didn't take Clare long to forgive me for telling Miss Oh what had happened, whereas Clare's mother had never really forgiven me in the first place for all I'd done to Clare. But for that, I couldn't blame her; it took me months to accept that my actions were a result of my disorder, and that I wasn't just a monster. Some days, the memories got heavy, and I got caught up in the replay of each of my stupid schemes, but now Clare was there to keep me level headed when the cycle caught up with me.

Despite everything, I'd had a taste of what it was like to be apart from Clare like that, and I had no intention to ever have to do so again, and I hoped with time, Helen would at the very least understand that, even if we never got the approval I secretly sought.

"She knows we're back together…" Clare drawled, pulling me back to reality.

"Yes, and this is why she'd be even less apt to let me stay the night," I retorted softly, pulling Cece's car along the curb down the block and out of sight of her house. "Do you honestly expect her to say yes?" I pressed, cutting the engine and turning my body to face her, scanning her face that suddenly turned mousey.

"I wasn't planning on asking," she muttered, my eyes widened in amusement.

"Really." I chimed, unable to bat away the smirk etching itself across my cheeks. She looked bashful after her admission, not meeting my eyes, and on instinct, my hand jutted out to hold hers, which seemed to loosen her up some. "So how am I supposed to get up there without them noticing, rebel?"

"Everyone's asleep," she answered plainly. I flicked my gaze to the top of the house, and sure enough the lights were all out, but I was still skeptical. Clare seemed to pick up on that, exhaling sharply and fishing for her phone.

"I don't… suggest calling them…" I trailed off, confusion thick in my tone. She waved me away with the hand not holding her phone to her ear and after a couple of rings, a low voice could be heard on the other end.

"Hey, are my mom and Glen sleeping?" She posed into the receiver, still turned away from me. She was quiet for a few second as the voice explained unintelligibly and she unbuckled herself. "Okay, thanks Jake, Eli's staying the night so don't wake them up this time," she instructed casually, her hand lingering on the door handle as I halted in fear. "No, jackass," she growled, rolling her eyes. "You're disgusting, go to bed," she bit, smiling despite her insult, ending the call. "Problem solved," she sang, stepping out of the car and onto the sidewalk as I froze in confusion before joining her.

My forehead furrowed, and my emotion was easily guessed, perpetually puzzled. "What did Jake say?" I wondered aloud, happy that I wouldn't have to leave Clare, but at a loss for what Jake could have said that was so disgusting. She blushed in lieu of an answer, exacerbating my curiosity. "Clar-"

"Nothing," she shot back quickly, her voice shaky and a few octaves too high. Before I could press the matter, we were on her doorstep, and she held up a finger to shush me as we stepped inside past the threshold. She found my hand in the dark, leading me up the stairs, peering down the hall once we ascended to make sure that all sleeping adults were still sleeping. Coast clear, we tiptoed into her dark bedroom; I shut the door behind me and she collapsed backwards onto her bed with a loud sigh.

"You're making an awful lot of racket for someone supposed to be so sneaky," I teased, a smirk playing on my face. She whined, holding out her arms in my direction, open, and I didn't hesitate to step forward, laughing quietly at her display and obliging her in a hug which she took upon herself to literally pull me into. I lost my footing, coming crashing down onto the bed on top of her. "There's that rebellion again," I groaned, rolling off to the side of her and brushing away a stray curl from her cheek.

"I'm glad you're staying tonight," she said, her moment of overtired playfulness passed. Her eyes were still wide and alert, tracing small circles around my face, settling on my lips before blinking away.

"Me too," I returned in unabashed honestly, still focused on her face. Leaning over, I hovered at her side, pressing a chaste kiss to her lips before moving to my feet and peeling off my shirt.

"Oh, okay!" She stammered, her face flushing crimson again, much deeper this time, as she cocked her head to the other side, blocking her own view of me. Guiltily so, I laughed out loud at her shyness; I wasn't making fun of her, or trying to at least, I just found her behavior so endearing.

"I'm sorry," I said through chuckles. "I don't usually sleep with a shirt on, I can though if you're uncom-"

"No!" She recanted quickly, whipping her head back around and instantly eying down my chest. "Y-… no, how… however you normally sleep," she nodded, swallowing hard in a way that exposed how hard it likely was for her to keep her eyes at a modest level. I raised my eyebrows, giving her time to change her mind, but she nodded again, so I tossed my shirt aimlessly to the side in the direction of my shoes, pausing as I considered her allowance. I usually just slept in boxers…

"Eli?" Her tiny voice rang out, and I flicked my gaze to her. "Are…is everything okay?" She asked worriedly, sitting up and eying me with concern.

"Yeah," I breathed, opting to preserve the modesty, suck it up and sleep in my jeans. "I just remembered I have to take my pill," I half lied.

"Oh, so do I," she hissed, bounding from her bed and digging through her purse.

Pill? What pill would Clare need to take? She doesn't have a cold. Maybe allergies? My internal question was answered when she pulled out a little plastic disk from her purse, popping a tablet from the foil and swallowing it dry while my jaw hung in shock.

"When did this happen?!" I cried, tact out the window. She blushed for the umpteenth time, but I couldn't enjoy it, too blinded by surprise. A slow, sheepish grin worked its way onto her face and it took a moment for her to answer.

"My mom kind of made me after she found out," she gestured between the two of us. "In case you try one of your heathen advances on me and I give in because the Devil is beautiful," she added. "Verbatim," she shrugged.

"Your mom thinks I'm beautiful?" I backtracked, amused.

"That's what you took from that?" Her eyes narrowed, but she couldn't keep the upward curve of her lips hidden from me. I mirrored her expression, nearing the made bed and peeling back the covers.

"You didn't take yours," she noted, still standing in place.

"Right," I murmured, fixing that. "But just so you know, this won't keep me sane after finding that out," I nodded towards the case she was dropping into her purse.

"You think I'd give in to your advances that easy?" She grinned, taunting me as she cocked her head to one shoulder. She was egging me on, I knew that much, but I couldn't suppress the urge to mess with her right back. I dropped the corner of blanket, slowly sulking towards her. When I was close enough, my hands found her hips, pulling her roughly against me. Her eyes widened and she gasped nearly inaudibly. One hand slid up to her face, letting my knuckles brush against her cheek as I leaned in.

"You wouldn't?" I whispered an edge of feigned desperation in my voice. I could feel her labored breath on my lips, centimeters away.

"No," she exhaled, eyes trained on my parted mouth. I decided to take the torture further. Slowly I walked her backwards until her back met the wall, which I then sandwiched her against, leaning a hand on the painted plaster beside her face, the other gripping more roughly at her hip, when I felt her hand on my bare skin. Looking down, her fingertips were barely ghosting over my chest, and I assumed at first it was to keep me at a distance, but now she was so transfixed with the new discovery of being able to touch me that I presume she'd forgotten her intention. I took the opportunity to remind her, whispering her name, which she responded to right away. "You really wouldn't?" I whined, giving her a sad pair of eyes as I leaned my head.

"N-no…" she swallowed, and it was painfully aware she was breaking.

"Okay," I chimed brightly, pulling away quickly and walking back to the side of the bed opposite her, leaving her against the wall and immensely perplexed, to my sadistic amusement. She took a moment t begrudgingly recover before stalking to the side nearest her, peeling back the covers in a daze.

"You're a real jerk, you know that?" She drew, glaring daggers my way.

"Love you too," I chuckled, slipping under the covers. She rolled her eyes as she joined me, instinctively moving closer to me and uncoiling her arm across my torso. One arm curled around her shoulder while my free hand laced itself with hers over my stomach.

"I do love you," she muttered, her eyes fluttering shut as she smiled weakly.

"I love you too, Clare," I returned, both thumbs circling her skin as we drifted off in tandem.