Why hello there my loves! It's been way too long, hasn't it? I now understand exactly what Eli meant when he described his French exam. :P How are you all? Enjoying Season 13? I sure hope so! I'll leave my long author's note for the end, but just as a quick background, this chapter kicked my butt! I had always seen it and envisioned it a certain way, but no matter how much I wrote it the way I had pictured, it wasn't turning out the way I wanted it to. I realized there was a key aspect of it that wasn't letting me do it justice and surprisngly, it was the POV. As much as this is equally Clare's journey as much as it is Eli's, I had always thought the story would end with him. But that Clare Edwards is a stubborn one and wanted her say in the ending. :P Who am I to deny her that? So without furthur ado, here is the final chapter of Love is Revival narrated by our lovely Clare. :) Enjoy!
I tap my fingers rapidly against the poster in my hand, matching my ever increasing heartbeat. I bite my lip nervously as I keep my gaze on the descending stairs in front of me.
"Clare, will you please stop fidgeting? You're making me nervous," Alli speaks up from her position next to me.
Refusing to tear my eyes away from the top of the staircase looming in front of us, I apologetically say, "I'm sorry, but I can't help it."
Alli laughs in response and I notice her shaking her head teasingly at me through my peripheral vision.
We've been waiting at the airport for the past twenty minutes awaiting the arrival of our loved ones. All terminals exit out the same place and that's where we have found ourselves along with Dave and Eli's parents. Both of us made posters welcoming them home and if I may so myself, they are pretty cute.
I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of this morning. It's been four long, difficult months since I've last laid eyes on Eli in person. As thankful as I am for his letters and our one video chat session, nothing will ever compare to having Eli physically with me because as safe as I feel in his arms, being in his arms means he is safe. I cannot wait to be able to go through the day without worrying about whether or not Eli is hurt or injured.
I've been eagerly awaiting this moment for so long that I've pictured it in my mind countless times. I've dreamt of what it would feel like to see Eli again, to feel his arms around me, his lips on mine. I've tried to imagine what it would be like to hear his voice once again, to hear him say my name in the way only Eli does. His voice manages to caress my name in a manner in which no other sound can. I've pictured holding his hand and drawing from the strength I feel when connected with him.
As much as I have held onto these images and feelings in my mind, I know none can compare to the real thing.
Now that I am anxiously waiting to see Eli's familiar form turn the corner at the top of the stairs, I am surprised to feel slightly doubtful of how to react when he arrives. Should I wait for him to make his way to us? Should I let his parents embrace him first? Should I just cross the security line and run up the stairs to meet him halfway? Or should I keep calm and hug him lightly? What do I say? Do I say anything at all? Do I wait for him to speak first? How do –
I let out a gasp at the image that has quickly jerked me away from my rambling thoughts. Just like the drop on a rollercoaster, I feel something similar to a gust of wind hit me at once, leaving me breathless. The adrenaline pumps through my veins, taking me on a ride that runs what seems like thousands of different emotions through me at once.
I feel a smile quickly make its way onto my face and hear a squeal escape my lips when Eli turns the corner into our view. Although his appearance looks the same, I can't help but feel like he is even more handsome than I remember now that I get to see him in person. He looks impeccable in his uniform with his pack hanging off one of his shoulders.
Eli looks at the crowd of people that have gathered to meet their loved ones at the "Arrivals" section of the airport while simultaneously making his way down the stairs. When his searching eyes finally latch onto mine, his facial expression mimics my delighted one.
At that moment I realize that all my worries about how to react to finally seeing Eli were unwarranted. We've been drawn to each other and connected by an intangible rope since the moment we met. Even if I wanted to, which I don't, there was no way I could stay in this same spot. I feel myself immediately being pulled to him, the end of the rollercoaster finishing when I reach him.
Without another thought, I watch as he rushes past the others on the staircase and I weave my way through the patches of people quickly in a desperate effort to get to him as soon as I possibly can. It is as if the sight of Eli has erased everything else around me and my vision is focused solely on him.
Once I'm a few feet from him, he casts his bag to the side and I drop the long forgotten poster as I jump into his awaiting arms. My body reacts automatically as my arms go around his neck and my legs wrap around him, holding him to me in a koala-like embrace. I close my eyes, choosing to focus solely on the sensation of being in his arms once again. I laugh out in joy when I feel one of his hands caressing the back of my head and his other reaching under my thigh to support me. I move from side to side as he sways us and I hold him even closer to me, as impossible as it may seem. I hear him let out a breath of relief as he turns his head and nuzzles his face into my hair.
It isn't until I taste the salty moisture streaming down my face that I realize I'm crying.
I cry because I'm so overwhelmed with joy that I can't think of another outlet of my emotion. I cry because Eli has made it back to me safe and sound, exactly as he assured me he always would. I cry because all the struggles, all the up's and down's have all led to this moment. I cry because I know I could see everything this world has to offer, I could live to be a hundred, I could visit space and nothing even has a remote chance of comparing to what this reunion with Eli feels like.
I try and speak, but I only manage what sounds like something between a laugh and a sob. Eli tightens his hold on me at the sound.
"Shhh," I hear him whisper into my ear. "I got you. I'm right here."
I stroke his hair as I squeeze him to me, unable to form a coherent response. Eli doesn't seem to mind however. We remain in our embrace a few moments longer before I feel him pull away from me. I almost let out a whimper at the idea of losing this proximity to him, but soon enough I realize that Eli has no intention of going anywhere. He rests his forehead against mine and I finally open my eyes.
I wish there were words to describe what it feels like to look into his eyes again, but for once in my life, words have failed me. This is an emotion that no one has conjured up a word for yet, maybe because there wouldn't be any word or phrase that would do this overwhelming feeling of happiness justice.
I bring down my right hand and finger the skin on his cheek. Eli immediately leans into my touch, a content expression on his face.
"You're really here," I whisper aloud as I feel his warm skin against my fingertips.
His eyes hold mine as he slowly lowers me to the ground. I let out a sigh in relief when I feel his arms wrap around my waist and pull me flush against him. There is nothing like the comfort of something so soft and familiar. I hide my face against his chest and breathe in the scent that is all Eli.
"Clare," he says softly into my ear and I realize that all those times I imagined what it would be like to hear him say my name again are little compared to the reality of his voice.
I glance up at him and notice his own eyes shaking as they bear into mine. He doesn't have to speak or voice his wants because they match mine. I lift myself up on my toes and tentatively brush my lips against his, slowly joining them together for what seems like the first time in forever. My eyes flutter closed as I succumb to the pleasure that courses through my veins at the soft, giving touch of Eli's lips. He pulls away much too quickly for my liking, but I realize we'll have plenty of time for that later.
"A day hasn't gone by where I haven't missed you," he tells me.
I cup his face in my hands and rub my thumbs along his cheekbones. "I love you so much," I say as my bottom lip quivers.
Eli's hands dig into my waist as he holds me tighter to him. "I love you," he responds.
I laugh out of happiness before pulling him to me once again. I close my eyes as he nuzzles his face into my neck, the way he used to when he needed an anchor. I let out a breath when he lightly kisses my neck.
"Baby boy!" Cece's loud voice sounds through our hazy embrace.
I pull away from him slightly and step to the side to allow him his reunion with his parents. I notice tears welling up in my own eyes when Cece and Bullfrog hug Eli for the first time since he was deployed. I glance to my side and realize that I was so focused on Eli that I missed Dave when he came down the stairs. I walk over to where he and Alli are locking lips and wait until they are finished.
"Dave!" I exclaim and he turns to me with a huge grin on his face. I quickly rush into his arms and give him a hug. "You're home safe and sound. I'm so happy."
"Me too, Clare. Me too," he says with a laugh.
"Thank you," I whisper for only him to hear. "I know that Eli would not have been okay out there without you and I just…thank you," I repeat.
"It was my pleasure," he responds into my ear before pulling away from me. "And I think said guy is waiting for you."
I look at him curiously before turning around and stepping out of his arms. I notice Eli standing behind me, waiting with his pack and my poster in hand. I walk over to him and snake my arms around his waist. He offers me a real, genuine smile before wrapping his free arm around my shoulders. I smile to myself when he lays a kiss on the top of my head.
"Hmm?" He hums in response.
I look up at him and say, "I am so happy you're safe."
A grateful expression takes over his features as he kisses my forehead affectionately. "I'm happy to finally be home."
"Yes, Toronto must be a site for sore eyes compared to Iraq," I acknowledge.
He shakes his head at my words. "You are a site for sore eyes compared to Iraq," he corrects me. One look at his eyes and I know his meaning. Home is where you are.
Not knowing what to say in response, I offer him my really, really happy expression. I feel my insides warm at the sound of his laughter.
"I've fucking missed that," he tells me through his chuckles.
"But you had my picture," I laugh out.
"Doesn't do the real thing justice," he says as he rubs his nose against mine playfully.
My eyes widen when I remember something. I pull my collar aside and show him the guitar pick necklace he graciously gave me before leaving. "Look," I say with excitement. "I've kept it safe for you."
He smiles at the gesture before reaching under his uniform and pulling out his dog tag necklace. "Look," he mimics me as he lifts the chain up. I stare up at him in disbelief when I notice my purity ring still on his person.
"You managed to keep it all this time?" I ask as I finger the metal that used to have its place on my left hand.
He nods in response. "No way in hell I was going to lose this," he says. "It means more to me than you probably know."
I look up at him gratefully before hugging him to me once again. "I love you, Eli."
He lets out a breath that tickles the hairs at the top of my head. "I love you too, Clare."
As we begin our walk towards Jake's truck which I borrowed for the day, both Eli and I ensure that we are always connected somehow. Whether it be me tucked into his side with his arm around my shoulders or walking together hand in hand, I realize neither of us want to be disconnected after being apart for so long.
Different parts of me slowly familiarize themselves with Eli again. My fingers, my hands, my waist, my lips…everything attunes itself to Eli's loving touch. After throwing his pack and my poster into the back, Eli situates himself in the passenger seat next to me.
I smile over at him before inserting the keys into the ignition. "Ready for lunch at your parents'?" I ask.
He chuckles, "More than I can say. A home cooked meal sounds so damn good right now."
I look over at him with a sympathetic expression. "It was hard out there," I acknowledge.
He takes in a deep breath through his nose before reaching over for my hand. Drawing it towards him, he bends down and delivers a lingering kiss to the skin on the back of my hand. "Yes," he admits in a low voice.
"But you're home now," I whisper with a soft smile, squeezing his hand.
"It's definitely an adjustment," Eli responds as he purses his lips together. "Everything is so different here."
I feel my heart skip a beat at his words. I swallow nervously before turning my body to him. "Is it harder being here?" I ask in such a soft voice that I'm surprised if he can hear.
His gaze snaps up from our joined hands to my face. "Are you worried about it coming back?" He counters.
I nod my head as my lower lip quivers. "I don't think I can handle seeing you like that again, not after all the progress you've made."
"Hey," he calls out to me softly. Cupping my chin in his free hand, he forces my gaze up to his. "I made you a promise before I left," he reminds me. "I gave you my word that I would do everything in my power to make it back to you. When I promised you that, I meant the Eli you knew would be back, not one you wouldn't be able to recognize. If I were to succumb to the memories of war again, I would break that promise to you." He lets go of my hand before cupping my face in his. He draws me towards him and rests his forehead against mine. "And when I pledge something to you, I fully intend on keeping to that commitment."
He leans forward and captures my lips, moving against them slowly. Just as I angle my head to deepen the kiss, Eli pulls away from me slowly. Not liking that one bit, I reach up to fist his hair in my hand as I draw him to me once again. I hear a low groan erupt from within his chest and feel myself heat up at the sound. He lets me kiss him for a few more moments before removing his lips from mine once again.
I sigh at the loss of contact and look up at him with a confused expression.
He offers me a small smirk. "Clare, it's been four months since I've touched you. If you keep kissing me like that, I'm seriously going to consider taking you here and now."
I feel my cheeks flame at his words before distancing myself from him and facing forward. I turn on the truck and begin the drive towards the Goldsworthy house.
Eli chuckles at my shy reaction. "I've missed your blush," he comments.
My cheeks turn a deeper shade at his words. Great. Thanks a lot, Eli. I bring up my right hand and hold the back of it to my hot skin. "I hate you," I tease him.
"Well that's too bad. "
"Oh?" I inquire.
"I'm pretty deeply in love with you," he tells me. "Unrequited love is a bitch."
I giggle lightly at his words before sneaking a glance at him. "Don't worry," I assure him. "You'll never have to worry about that."
He smiles at me before taking my hand away from my face. We remain silent for the next few minutes as I try my best to focus on my driving which is pretty hard to do as Eli's fingers trace my hand. I feel his touch go up and down all my fingers before retracing its course. After repeating this movement a few times, he laces his fingers slowly into the spaces between my own. It's such a tender action that as cheesy as it may sound, I feel my insides melt at the softness that Eli saves for me.
"I missed you," I break the silence between us.
He squeezes my hand in response. "Would you mind doing me a favor?"
"Of course," I respond.
"Can you stop by the hospital on our way home? There's someone I want to see," he says in a low voice.
"Who is it?" I ask curiously.
I look over at him as he swallows nervously. "He was in the vehicle in front of us," Eli starts. "The explosion was so large that at first glance, none of us thought anyone could have survived it."
I rub my thumb along his hand in a comforting gesture as he continues.
"The others immediately began surveying the area, ready for the combat we felt was inevitable after they took out some of our own. I made my way over to the explosion. I didn't see him at first; too busy looking into the flames to notice what was around them. He was thrown into the air from the blast and landed a little ways away," Eli pauses as he sucks in a breath.
"I'm right here, Eli," I tell him softly in an attempt to anchor him in the present.
He squeezes our joined hands before continuing. "I doubt I'll ever get his image out of my mind. It was almost like he was hidden under a layer of burns. There was a lot of blood. I did what I could, b-but I didn't know – there wasn't anything I could – " He stops narrating as he wipes away the moisture that has managed to escape his eyes.
I release his hand and I set my hand on the back of his neck, softly playing with the hair there. "But he survived," I comment.
"Yes," Eli responds in a monotone voice.
"We're going to see him," I say softly.
"Thank you," he tells me graciously. "I'm sorry. I know today is supposed to be about us – "
"Don't be ridiculous," I cut him off. "We have the rest of our lives ahead of us. This is important." Feeling his gaze on me, I turn my gaze to him. "What?" I ask before returning my focus to the road.
"Pull over," he tells me.
I furrow my brow together in a confused manner. "Excuse me?"
"Pull over, Clare. I want to kiss you," he says in a hoarse voice.
I automatically move my car over to the curb as I recognize the overwhelming butterflies taking over at how damn sexy it is when Eli takes control like this. As soon as I put the car in park, Eli unbuckles his seatbelt and turns to me. I gasp when he cups my face and crushes my lips to his, caressing them in a desperate manner. Resting my hands on his chest, I do everything in my power to give back as much as I am receiving. I sigh into his mouth as he coaxes my tongue to meet with his for the first time in months. My heart beats strongly against my chest as if it wants to escape the confines of my body.
Slowing down our pace, Eli lingers his lips on mine for a brief moment before releasing them. Our heavy breathing mixes in the little space between us. "You want to spend the rest of your life with me?" He asks in what sounds like disbelief.
I open my eyes and latch onto his gaze. "Of course," I confess. "That's not exactly a state secret, Eli. You knew that."
He fingers my cheek softly. "I hoped," he whispers. "But I don't see why I deserve to be the luckiest man alive."
I glance down timidly. Rendered speechless at his words, I settle for drawing random shapes onto his uniform.
"I love you, Clare Edwards," I hear Eli say softly into my hair after a few silent moments. "Do you think that I could make you happy if we devoted our lives to each other?"
"I know you will," I tell him honestly. "You always have."
"Then I'm going to marry you someday," he whispers into my ear.
"Yes," I confirm before lifting my head to look at him. "You're going to marry me someday."
Eli stares into my eyes for a moment and I see nothing but naked love there. He lowers his lips to mine and pecks me softly. When he pulls away, I notice a grin on his face and a smile grows on mine to match.
As much as I think both Eli and I have always considered our relationship to be a permanent fixture in our lives, we had never confirmed it like this. Sure we spent hours talking about our futures together and what that would be like, but the small exchange that just occurred between us has created a tangible shift within us.
Eli has just promised me that we will one day become man and wife. Earlier, he swore that when he gives me his word, he fully intends to keep his commitment. As archaic as it may sound, the principle of marriage illustrates two bodies becoming one. If I needed any other reassurance of what I want to happen between the two of us tonight, I just got it.
I trust Eli with my whole life and I plan to open up to him in the last way I know how, by offering my body to him.
About twenty minutes later, we arrive at the hospital where Eli's friend is being held as he begins the healing process. As we walk hand in hand towards the entrance, I turn to him. "This is a really nice thing you're doing."
He shrugs his shoulders. "I know how great it felt when you used to visit me, even if I acted like I didn't like it," he laughs under his breath.
"Well, it was good for me too," I giggle as we walk over to the front desk and sign-in as visitors.
When we make it to the door of the correct room, Eli pauses for a moment. I look up at him worriedly. He purses his lips before explaining, "I don't really know how to go about this. It's not fair. It could have been any of us. He doesn't deserve this."
I cup his cheek with my free hand for a moment. "You'll know what to say. Don't worry," I assure him before leading us inside the room.
I have to suppress the gasp from escaping my lips when I lay eyes on the brave warrior in front of us. I thought I was prepared to see this. I'm not.
"Goldsworthy?" He asks aloud in surprise when he hears us walk in.
Eli clears his throat. "Yeah," he responds as he pulls us closer to the hospital bed. "They said you were open to visitors. If this is a bad time – "
"Are you kidding me? It's fucking awesome to see you," he says in a hoarse voice.
I feel Eli loosen his grip on my hand in relief. He turns to me, "Clare, this is Captain Sean Cameron. Sir, this is Clare."
Even with all the bandages, I notice his eyes widen and his expression soften slightly. "This is the famous Clare. It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am."
"Likewise," I whisper as I still have yet to adjust to seeing someone so wounded.
"When did you get back?" He asks Eli.
"A little over an hour ago," Eli responds.
"Man, you have to be spending this time with your family. Not visiting an immobile patient," Sean mutters in a bitter tone.
When Eli remains silent, I find my voice and speak up. "He felt that it was important to see you," I explain to him. "I happened to agree with him and since I was driving, he really didn't have any choice," I joke in an effort to keep things light.
Sean attempts a laugh, but ends up coughing instead. Letting go of my hand, Eli reaches for the water on the side table and offers it to him. He drinks from it slowly, and I notice he has a painful expression on his face at the small action.
"I haven't got the chance to thank you yet," Sean speaks up as Eli returns the glass to the table. "Most of what happened is a blur to me, but I know you got to me quickly."
Eli shakes his head, "No thanks required. I was just doing my job."
Sean closes his eyes in a manner that tells me keeping them open is a tiring effort. "Still, who knows what would have happened if you didn't call the medic over. I may not be here right now. So whether you accept it or not, you have my gratitude."
I glance over at Eli and notice he is trying as hard as possible to hold his composure. I feel the same.
"You would have done the same for me," Eli acknowledges in a quivering voice.
"I would have willingly taken a bullet for you," Sean responds as he illustrates to what extent their brotherhood reached. "Eli, can you do me favor and go find a nurse?"
"Sure thing," Eli says as he rests his hand on my shoulder before walking out the room.
"I don't really need the nurse," Sean tells me in humor.
I chuckle at his words. "Then why send Eli out?"
He opens his eyes to look at me. "I wanted to talk to you."
I swallow against the lump that has formed in my throat since laying eyes on the man in front of me and take a step closer to the bed as a gesture for him to continue.
"He talked a lot about you," Sean starts. "And I knew just from hearing his words that you actually care about the guy."
"What do you mean?" I ask softly.
"There's a hell of a lot of girls out there who just want a man in a uniform, but not what comes with it. I've had plenty of my men receive that one letter a few months after being deployed," he trails off for a moment as he gains some more strength. "I don't blame them. Being with someone who is thousands of miles away and could die at any moment is stressful. It isn't easy."
I bite my lip at his words as they bring back memories of sleepless nights and lonely days.
"It's easy to distinguish which guys have something real and which don't. Take Eli for example. I knew you love him."
"He told you?" I inquire.
Sean shakes his head slightly. "He didn't have to. I knew you had to love him considering how much he loves you."
It takes all of me not to burst into tears at his words right here in the middle of his hospital room. I cup my mouth in an attempt to hold in the emotion that is seeking an outlet.
"What you two have is pretty damn great," Sean continues. "I thought I had that…" He trails off.
"Y-You don't have to tell me," I whisper.
"I used to talk about her the way Eli talks about you. A soldier needs some sort of anchor while out there. Without one…well you saw how Eli was."
I nod as Eli's struggle with PTSD is brought to the forefront of my mind.
"She was mine, but not for long. From her letters I noticed she was changing, she wasn't the same girl I used to brag about to the other guys. She found someone else." Just from what I can see of his expression, I know this is hard for him. "Eli's one of the lucky ones," Sean finishes after a few moments.
I reach forward and rest my hand gently atop his bandaged one.
"You're also a lucky one," he tells me gently. "I'm glad it was Eli who found me. I trust him with my life."
I nod my head as my eyes water. "Me too," I manage to get out.
"The nurse is on her way," Eli's voice sounds into the room before his figure enters our view. "Is everything alright?" He asks worriedly when he takes in my expression.
"Yeah, we were just talking about how much of a jackass you are. You know, the usual," Sean jokes.
"Very funny," Eli glares at him playfully before wrapping a comforting arm around my waist.
"Thank you for stopping by," Sean states.
Eli nods his head. "No problem, sir."
Sean laughs aloud. "I don't really give a shit about formalities when I'm all bandaged up like this, Eli."
We all chuckle at his words. "Take care," Eli says. "I'm glad you're going to be okay considering everything."
"I will be," Sean agrees. "It was great to finally meet you, Clare."
I smile at him, "It was my pleasure. I'll be praying for your safe recovery."
"I appreciate that," he tells me softly.
We say our goodbye's and I hold onto Eli's hand for dear life as we make our way back over to Jake's truck. Eli remains silent as my body has remained tense since walking into Sean's room. I try and take in deep breaths to keep myself together. But when we reach the truck, I succumb to the emotions that have been fighting and searching for an escape from the confines of my body.
I let go of Eli's hand as I walk a few steps in front of him. Covering my mouth with my hand, I let out a sob as my tears begin to slowly make their way down my face. After a few moments I feel Eli arms wrap around my waist from behind.
"I'm so sorry," he says into my ear. "I should have known that wasn't appropriate for you to see."
I shake my head before turning to face him. "I needed to see that. That could have been you! Y-You could have been in his vehicle. It scares me to know what your life was really like out there. I thought I had it tough because I felt lonely and I missed you so much it hurt. But there you are, living in a place where there are people who want to hurt you. People who want to make you look like Sean or worse," I close my eyes, causing a few more tears to fall, and shake my head at the prospect of Eli being involved in an injury of that extent or a fatality.
"You don't have to worry about that anymore," Eli tells me in a strong tone.
I look up at him, distress written all over my face. "You're such a good man, Eli," I inform him as Sean's words echo in my ears. "I never thought I would be so fortunate enough as to find you. To think that you could have been taken from me…" I trail off at a loss for words. I glance into his eyes and decide to admit the struggles I've been through to him. "I know I made it sound like I was doing okay in my letters, but it was hard. I would go through a day doing whatever I could to keep myself busy and just when I felt like I was back to normal for a moment, I'd see or hear something that would remind me of you. I'd see a guy who looked like you from behind and I'd – I'd run over to him even though I knew…I knew it wasn't you, but I couldn't come to terms with that. I'd want it to be you so badly," I bite my lip to stop it from quivering. "I love you and what you stand for. Your job is so important and I'm proud of you for doing it, but it was hard once you weren't around. It even hurt reading your letters because I felt any progress I had made just got wiped away at the reminder they brought me. And now finally being with you again, I feel torn because a part of me is terrified I'll have to part with you again and I don't think I could handle that."
Eli takes a step closer to me and grabs my hands in his. "But you won't," he reminds me gently. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here with you."
I gasp in a breath before releasing my hands from his and wrapping them tightly around his waist. He immediately responds to my embrace, holding me closely to him.
"I'm safe now," he tells me softly in an attempt to calm me down.
"I know," I mumble against the fabric of his uniform. "It just scares me."
He sighs into my hair, "That's understandable."
I pull away slightly and turn my head up towards him. "Thank you for coming back to me."
"I always will," he responds warmly.
"I'm sorry," I say quietly. "I think I've kept that bottled up inside for so long…"
"You never have to apologize to me, Clare," Eli tells me.
"I guess it's an adjustment for me too," I smile up at him.
"We'll figure it out," he assures me.
"Together," I confirm before lifting myself up on my toes and reconnecting our lips.
After being so vulnerable with Eli and letting go of the hurt that I was holding onto, the rest of the day flew by pretty normally. Luckily, his parents had no trouble going back to their routine of joking around and teasing us. Soon enough, it felt like Eli had never left and we had adjusted ourselves quickly into the life we had before he was deployed. The only thing that stood out was our constant need to be connecting in some way, drawing strength from each other. It's not like I'm going to complain about that.
As the evening rolls around, I drive us back to my apartment and we make our way through the door and into the familiar surroundings. I walk forward and set my purse on the kitchen table before going into my bedroom where Eli has dropped off his belongings. I notice him studying a new addition to the room.
"I bought that after you left," I tell him. He turns around towards me at the sound of my voice. "I kept it all," I say as I walk over to him and take note of the small table that has become home to a once shattered plate that he glued back together, his letters, and a petal from some flowers he had given me once. Reaching up to the back of my neck, I unhook his guitar pick necklace and gently lay it on the plate. "It's silly, isn't it?" I say nervously as I bite my lip.
Eli shakes his head quickly, "Not at all." He walks over and opens his pack before drawing out a small package. He slowly unravels it and I make my way over to him to see what's inside.
"You saved all my letters?" I ask in disbelief when I notice the small pile of envelopes in front of me.
"No, these are actually from another girl, but I wanted you to know that saving letters wasn't so out of the ordinary," he teases me with a smirk.
I scoff and glare at him playfully. "Well why don't you call her up? I'm sure she's awfully lonely and misses you."
He nods his head and looks at me seriously. "You're right. When I see her, I'm going to walk up to her like this," he jokes as he makes his way over to me and wraps his arms around my waist. I lift my eyebrows at him as I cross my arms against my chest. "And then I'm going to kiss her like this," he leans forward and brushes his lips against mine in a soft touch. My eyes flutter closed automatically in response to his touch. "I'm going to whisper in her ear like so," he says as he moves his lips to the sensitive skin around my ear. "You mean everything to me. I love you," he tells me and I shiver at the sensation of his breath tingling my skin.
Eli stops his movements and my eyes open slowly. "What would you do next?" I ask as I let out a shaky breath.
He chuckles as he trails his lips down to my neck, "I'd kiss her here," he delivers a lingering kiss to the side of my neck. "And here," he moves his lips to peck the tip of my nose. "I'd probably kiss her here again because I know she likes it," he says in a husky voice as he kisses my neck once again. I angle my head to the side and grant him more access. My arms unfold and I rest my hands on his chest as I try, and fail, to suppress a small moan. "Would you like me to keep going?" He asks smugly.
I swallow as I push against him lightly. "N-No, I, um, I'm sure she-she'll like that," I stutter as I try and calm down my body's reaction to him.
"You think so?" He asks me.
I nod my head in response.
"Then if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be," he tells me as he lets go of my waist and turns out of the room.
I stand there as my jaw drops, dumbfounded at his actions. "Eli?" I call out hesitantly. "Okay…" I trail off when there is no response. I glance around the room as if the answer to what is going on is written on the walls for whatever reason.
A few moments later, I hear footsteps coming back towards my room. I turn to the doorway and furrow my eyebrows at Eli in confusion. He walks over to me and grabs my waist just as he had before and proceeds to repeat exactly what he said he would. I giggle softly at his ridiculous antics, but when he whispers into my ear, he begins to incite a response from my body again.
"Would you like me to keep going?" He asks me again after his attentions to my neck.
I pull away and manage to rest my forehead against his. "You know, you had me worried for a split second there," I say quietly into the space between us.
"Don't be ridiculous," he responds. "It's always been you, always will."
I wrap my arms around his neck. "I love you," I tell him as I reach into the collar of his uniform and pull out his dog tags. Fingering my ring on there, I glance up at him. "Do you remember the night before you left?" I ask.
He nods his head as he eyes the piece of jewelry silently.
"I want you to have this part of me." I reach for my left hand and slip the ring off my finger. I grab his hand and drop it into his palm before closing his hand. "This is yours," I tell him. "You can decide if you want it now or when you get back."
I bite my lip nervously as I continue to play with the ring on his chain.
He takes in a deep breath before backing up and sitting down on the edge of the bed. I walk forward and he draws me to him as I settle myself between his legs. He rubs the back of my thighs affectionately as he gathers his thoughts together. For a moment I'm worried that he's going to push me away, but when he does finally speak up, I realize my fears were completely unwarranted.
"I know the past four months have been tough on us," he begins as he looks up at me. I rest my arms on his shoulders and lace my fingers at the back of his neck. "As much as I thought about you and as much as I missed you like hell, I had a duty – a job to do. There were some days, Clare, that I managed to get by without thinking of you all the time. I felt guilty as hell because I knew you were here worrying about me while I was focused on other things. For a moment, I would think that the worst possible thing was happening – that I was becoming defined by war once again. But then, when I least expected it, you would overwhelm me. You'd take over my thoughts, consuming me. Days when that happened, those were the best days," he pulls on my legs and lowers me down as I straddle his waist gently. I tighten my arms around his neck as I pull us flush against each other, chest to chest. "I'd get lost in you," he brushes his lips against mine. "If you're ready, I want to get lost in you in a different way."
I feel my heart beat nervously at an unforgiving pace as if it wants to leave my chest and enter Eli's, joining with his.
"Your heart's beating really fast," he acknowledges as if reading my thoughts.
"You really know how to romance a girl," I counter.
"You're not nervous are you?"
I lower my hands to rest on the sides of his neck. "It's just we've waited for so long, built up this moment…" I trail off as I glance down. "What if it's a disappointment?"
There is a moment of silence as my doubts hang in the air around us. "Okay, stay still," I hear Eli's comforting voice speak up. One of his hands leaves my leg and cups my chin, forcing my gaze upward. My eyes drift closed as he kisses me gently, offering me a short, sweet kiss. "Was that a disappointment?" He asks once he pulls away.
A small smile makes its way onto my face. "No," I tell him honestly when I begin to feel everything within me begin to ache for his touch, even areas that haven't felt it yet.
He smirks at me before leaning forward and kissing me once again, a little longer this time. "And how about that?"
I blink a few times and gasp in a breath, unable to respond in words to how completely opposite of a disappointment his tender touch is.
"Just let me know when it goes downhill," he says softly, locking his lips with mine before leaning back onto the mattress and taking me with him. I settle myself on top of him, my legs on either side of his body, and succumb to the pleasure of his tender touches and slow caresses.
I pull away after kissing him for a few moments and rest my forehead against his, unable to believe that this is actually happening, but without a shred of doubt in my mind that I want it to.
"I love you," he tells me and I realize I could get used to hearing that for the rest of my life.
"Forever and always," I respond before connecting our lips again.
That night I felt my body reach new heights in each place that Eli's touch came in contact with and he made damn sure there wasn't an inch of me that wasn't loved by him. His lips attended to mine, coaxing out heavy breaths and moans from the confines of my mouth. His hands grasped me tightly, making me know that I was drawing the same response out of him. Hands explored newfound territory as we familiarized ourselves with each other once again. And when the moment finally came for us to join together in the most intimate way possible, I'll forever hold onto the way he whispered words against my lips, soothing me when the discomfort and slight pain threatened to overwhelm me. I remember feeling more loved than I ever have as he brushed the few tears away from my face, choosing to focus more on me instead of himself.
Moving together as one that night made me feel stronger than I ever have and made me feel connected with Eli in a way a never could have with anyone else. It was as if we took the tension built up between us for the past four months we've been separated, all that worry, love, and longing, and used it as fuel to a fire. We released it all as we offered our bodies to each other, entrusting one another with our lives.
And as Eli held me tightly to him when it was all over, whispering how much he loves me, I felt so overwhelmed with happiness at my soldier returning home to me. Later on, while I was slowly drifting to sleep against him, I heard his voice speak up in a warm tone into the dark room.
"Your article was right," he began slowly. "Whatever these past four months drained out of me, you just built up again." He delivered a kiss to the top of my head, lingering his lips against my hair as he whispered the last words I heard before falling into a deep, content slumber.
"You revived me."
The End! :)
I hope you all have enjoyed the conclusion to the story. It's been a long journey and I just want to thank you all so very much for going on it with me. I honestly never could have dreamed of getting such kind, loyal, sweet readers! You guys mean the absolute world to me and this story would not have been what it is without your amazing support! I wish there were more words than thank you, but I hope you truly do know how much you guys mean to me.
I am very sad to see Love is Revival end, but am happy to have had the blessing of writing it. If you are to take anything away from this story, I hope it is the belief that love is an immensely strong emotion with the power to do just about anything. I really do believe love can do what seems impossible because when we care about one another, we lift each other up. We make each other strong in the same way that our Eli and Clare did for each other.
Thank you once again! I love you all more than I can say and cannot wait until we happen upon another journey together! Keep happy, my dears! Until next time, goodbye! :)