A/N: This is just a little oneshot I've been working on about our beloved Eclare. I wanted to try writing something through a limited omniscient point of view, so that's what I attempted here (with Eli). I'm toying with the idea of whether to write more oneshots or work on the sequel I have in mind for Landing Feet First, my favorite chapter fic of mine.
Talk to me on twitter/tumblr…I've needed fangirl support as of late: literarylolita
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Degrassi. I also do not own the lyrics to that are placed at the beginning and end of this story; they are from Caracol's song "Good Reasons".
"All the reasons are good to be free. We swore we'd see it coming but we didn't; pretended for a moment it was nothing at all."
Clare grabs Eli's camera gear and laptop before taking his hand and leading him out of her house. He struggles to keep up as she struts down the sidewalk. How does she walk so damn fast in those heels?
It's not long before Clare's destination in mind is obvious: Degrassi. Eli breaks the silence that's always companionable between them. "Um, Clare…what are we doing?"
She shoots him a sly look. "Fixing what you claim is 'the worst thing you've ever seen in your life'." He scowls at her imitation of his voice, but can't keep the act up for long.
He can't stay mad at her, even if it's just pretend.
They climb the steps of the school, and Eli takes a moment to admire Clare's cheeks, turned pink by the winter winds.
Simpson bestowed keys to the school upon Clare a few weeks ago in case she needed to work late at the newspaper; in order to fish them out of her bag, she drops Eli's hand.
He immediately misses her touch.
Clare sweeps through the empty foyer and into the main hall. She expertly sets up the tripod and camera between the rows of lockers, and Eli is enamored by how smart she seems to be about damn near everything.
"So, how exactly are we fixing my monstrosity of a movie?" Eli inquires.
"Well, it will be easy." Clare finishes setting up the equipment and walks to Eli. "We're going to make a new film, and you're going to show it to Brett."
"Oh?" Eli asks. "Inspiration struck you rather quickly, I take it?" He has no idea what kind of short he could possibly make in the twenty-four hours before his current idol leaves town.
"Of course." Clare puts her arms around Eli's neck and draws him in for a soft kiss. He instantly melts into her lips and can't stop his hands from travelling under her shirt to feel the soft skin on the small of her back. The kiss deepens at her initiation, and his fingers mold into her flesh. Eli will never admit it, but Clare's touch affects him just as much today as it did the last time they worked on a video project together. His face ends up in her hands, and she holds him with a gentle grace of which Eli knows only Clare is capable. When she pulls away, her hands stay on his face, thumbs stroking his cheeks; he feels secure and so fucking happy he could burst. "We're going to make a film about us."
Oh. Eli nearly laughs; he can't believe he didn't think of that himself.
She is his muse, after all.
With a touch of speechlessness, Eli stares down at his girlfriend, her bright blue eyes sparkling and boring into his own. A moment of atypical silence passes, causing a look of uneasiness to sweep across Clare's face. "Well?" She asks. "What do you think?"
He answers her question with a grin and an inquiry of his own: "Have I told you how smart and wonderful you are lately?"
A telltale pink appears on the apples of Clare's cheeks. She smirks at Eli, and he'd be lying if he said he didn't love it when she displayed some of his nuances. "Not since yesterday."
"Well, shame on me." He kisses her again, quick, and asks what she has in mind for the video.
He's in no way prepared for her vision. She goes on and on, explaining that the whole short will summarize their tumultuous relationship over the past year. On screen they'll appear to be always searching for one another in their own way, only to finally reunite and find themselves wrapped in a deep and loving embrace.
Until he has to walk away from her.
She's stepped back and is waving her hands around as she speaks, occasionally pointing at a door or hallway enthusiastically.
"…And the last shot after you let go of my hand will be you looking into the camera and walking out of Degrassi, on your way to your new life at N.Y.U." Clare finishes rattling out her ideas for the short. They're perfect.
Eli hates them.
"I just have the creative vision," Clare warns. "The fancy editing is more your wheelhouse, so that's all you."
"Okay," Eli says, and he hates how choked up his voice sounds.
Her eyes fix themselves on him, and he knows she sees the tears he's desperately tried to hold back since she started talking.
"Eli." Attempting to cease their trembling, she grabs his hands. "What's wrong?"
I'm going to be without you next year, he thinks, and I don't know how to exist without you by my side.
"I…" he sighs as he looks away from her. "I don't want to let go of your hand, Clare."
Her eyes swim with the threat of tears before she throws her arms around him. "Oh, Eli, I don't want you to either." She allows him to hold her tightly for a moment before she whispers in his ear, "but you have to."
She pulls away and gestures at the lockers. They sit, leaning against the cool, hard metal. Their fingers intertwine, fitting together as perfectly as they always have.
She completes him. How will he be whole without her?
Clare is the first to speak. "We haven't really talked about it, have we?" It's not really a question.
"No," Eli replies, unable to face her. He can't bear looking into her pretty eyes that rival the sky's brilliance on a sunny day, can't stand gazing at her porcelain skin or soft lips, knowing that his time to see such beautiful things is rapidly coming to an end.
But…maybe it doesn't have to!
The thought escapes his mouth the moment it enters his mind. "Maybe I should just stay in Toronto. There are plenty of good schools here, and-"
"No," Clare says firmly. "Absolutely not. N.Y.U. is your dream, and you've worked too hard to make it come true to just toss it aside for any reason."
He lets himself turn his head to look at her. "Clare," he says with just a touch of desperation in his voice, "N.Y.U. has been a dream since Christmas." His free hand reaches for her side, drawing her closer to him. "You've been my dream since…"
He doesn't want to scare her. What does he say? Since they got back together? Since she kissed him at the frostival, giving him hope that such a reunion was possible? Since he lost her in a manic state?
If he's honest with himself, it's been a hell of a lot longer than that.
The safest, and likely true, moment for which he's searching pops into his head: the instant he knew he was in love with her. "You've been my dream since the night we helped Adam throw that secret party." He kisses her temple, the corner of his lips brushing against silky bangs. "In that hammock, under the stars, I told you my wish had already come true." This time, his lips land on hers. She doesn't make a move to return his kiss, so he ends it, leaning his forehead against hers when their mouths separate. "That's still true." Tears silently trickle down his face, and he internally curses himself for not being able to hold his shit together.
Clare tightens her grip on his hand. "You know what else is still true?"
"The fact that I am all in, Eli. It doesn't matter where we are geographically, you're still stuck with me." She pulls away in order to look him straight in the eye. "You'll always be stuck with me."
Eli's jaw drops. "You want to stay together when I leave?" For the past few terrible minutes, Eli's been sure that this conversation was headed toward a breakup. Why would Clare, a beautiful, intelligent young woman, want to spend her senior year waiting on a guy like him?
"Of course I do," she says as if it's the most obvious thing in the world. "I love you."
His heart skips a beat. Or five.
"Oh God, I love you too…" Eli releases her grasp from his hands and pulls her into his arms, gripping her tightly and rubbing his hands in circles across her back. "I love you so fucking much."
Clare doesn't scold him for swearing; Eli figures to air is too thick to fill with admonishing words.
Then the pessimistic monster named doubt creeps back into his fragile, messed up head, fighting the bliss with which his heart is filled. A shaky breath escapes his lungs. "Clare…couples don't normally survive the whole long-distance thing."
Rolling her eyes at him, she smirks again. "Eli, since when has anything about us ever been normal?"
Laughter escapes his mouth at that; he nods his head in agreement. "You make a valid point."
They could make it. They would make it; he's fairly certain their bond could stretch across the world if it had to.
"Besides…" Clare says coyly, snuggling up to Eli and leaning her head on his shoulder. "It's only for a year."
At that, Eli raises his eyebrows. "Oh?"
"Well, yeah." Not moving her head from its resting place, she peers up at him with a twinkle in her eye. "Most of the best journalism schools are in New York, after all."
Eli's heart rate races as if it were training for a sprint race in the Olympics.
"You're coming to New York?" Unmistakable happiness weaves its way through his voice at the notion.
"I hope so," she answers. "If I get into Columbia, NYU, or even CUNY, I'll be by your side before you know it."
Eli scoffs. "IF you get in?" His lips brush her temple. "You will. Any of those schools would be lucky to have you." He can't stop smiling. "You're brilliant, Clare."
"You really think so?" Clare asks as shallowly buried insecurity rises to the surface through her voice. Eli wishes he could build up her confidence and retrieve the bit of spark that bastard Shostack stole from her; he'd return it to her on a silver platter if he could. But until she shakes the ghosts of what happened at her internship, all he can do is comfort and support her.
This time, all it takes is a short statement of a simple truth: "I know so."
The entire damn hallway is lit up by her smile at his three tiny words. "Good. That's…that's good."
After the moment passes and Clare's grin fades, Eli shudders. "Eli?" She asks, so in tune with him that she knows he's still on edge.
"What?" She asks, voice full of familiar compassion and concern.
"I'm terrified of how I'll fare without you." He looks away, unwilling to let Clare see the shame on his face from his admission.
Her voice is firm as she grabs and shakes his hands. "Eli, look at me."
He does, but he's not happy about it.
"Eli, you can do anything." She says it with such conviction that he's nearly inclined to believe her. She stands and gestures for him to do the same. "And you're going to start with this film."
Eli offers her half of a smile. "Yes, ma'am." He stands and brushes the dust off his pants, feeling a bit lighter.
Maybe Clare's right. He somehow managed to win her heart, so he just might be capable of anything.
Soon they're running around in circles, stopping every now and then to reset the camera's position. They do this several times before filming Eli's march down the hallway and out the door.
Then it's time to film themselves as frantic young lovers who finally find one another.
Eli strives not to shake, attempts to step towards Clare without stumbling, and tries like hell not to cry again.
The water swimming in her eyes make all of these tasks especially difficult.
Their embrace is both familiar and raw; her arms are like home to him, but there's desperation to it, like both of them are thinking the same thing.
Don't let me go.
Somehow, Eli manages to pull away. Their eyes meet; Eli sees love, determination, and just a little bit of melancholy on Clare's face.
Not allowing his touch to leave Clare's until it absolutely has to, Eli finally walks away and out of frame.
He's a few feet away when the sigh escaping her mouth reaches his ears. Unable to control the urge at the sound, he rushes back to her, using one hand to cup her face and the other to grip her hip. Their mouths roughly collide as they stumble toward the wall. Eli slams one palm against the lockers to cushion Clare's blow against them. Her tongue invades his mouth, inciting a groan from deep within his throat. She pulls at his hair while unconsciously rubbing herself against his knee that's positioned between her legs, and fuck, he now has a very visible problem.
He doesn't give a damn.
She shivers, and if Eli's mind could properly function at the moment, he'd find it amusing because there is so much heat between them. Both sets of hands wander as they kiss, never resting in one spot for long.
He's sure she's never kissed him like this before.
Clare whimpers from the loss when Eli parts their lips, but soon sighs in pleasure when his mouth makes its way to that sensitive spot just behind her ear. He smirks against her soft skin as she moans, and twists his mouth again when her hands vigorously force it back onto hers. Soon their hands find each other, interlacing, and each kiss that follows becomes less hungry and more loving as he presses their hands above her head and against the lockers.
When they finally must stop in order to catch their respective breaths, Eli rests his forehead against hers, admiring the view he has of her heaving chest directly below his eyes. Clare starts giggling. Eli reluctantly pulls his head back as she continues to vibrate with laughter. "What's so funny, Edwards?"
"I'm pretty sure you're going to have to edit what we just did out of your video." She laughs again, and he revels in the sound of it before joining in.
"Oh, no, I think that's the best part," he teases. "It will be great for my future viewing pleasure." Eli wiggles his eyebrows, an action that earns him a punch from Clare.
Worth it, he thinks. There is no way in Hell I'm deleting that footage.
He places his hands on her elbows and doesn't bother to attempt hiding the love-struck look in his eyes. "I love you."
She cocks her head to one side, smiling at him before confidently repeating the words she's told him once before, the words that make his stomach twist in all the good ways and feel warm all over.
"Forever and always."
"So kiss me like you never did, hold me like you'll never leave, make sure it'll never end."