Hey guys! This will be my first chapter fic ever, so please feel free to give me feedback! It is set to be around 10 chapters, but it could be more or less. Thanks for reading! You guys are awesome.
My tumblr is plaidcladmartin and I don't own Degrassi or any other pop culture references. Enjoy!
It's All Real Chapter One
"Jake, you know the socially acceptable way to enter a room is to knock first, right?"
I impatiently tapped my pen on my nearly illegible copy of Hamlet I was reading for English as I flashed Jake the most annoyed look I could muster. Lately my concentration on schoolwork hadn't exactly been stellar with Eli's graduation only a month away. My distractions had been piling up since spring break, so I found any unannounced stepsibling intrusions a bit…unwelcome.
Ignoring me, Jake took a few steps into my sunlit bedroom, smiling even wider than usual. "What would you do if I told you I had an extra Muse concert ticket?" He reached into his plaid coat pocket and pulled out two slips, raising his eyebrows playfully.
"I would ask you why you didn't ask Katie first," I answered, turning my eyes back down to Shakespeare's soliloquy, figuring Jake was trying to make me jealous.
"Look Clare, Katie and I have been planning on going to this concert for months now, but it turns out that the Matlins took a last minute trip California for the week to see Stanford so Katie can make her final decision whether to go there or not," Jake explained, and I could see the sadness in his eyes about the prospect of Katie going to college so far away. I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by the same situation with Eli. "So, are you gonna make me ask Mo or what?"
"No! No, I'll go! Thanks Jake." I grabbed the ticket out of his hand and studied it for a minute. "It's tonight? Where'd you get these anyway?"
"I got them really cheap off a guy who works at Martin's Contracting with me. Well, get ready, we've got to pick that guy up at 6:30." I glanced at the clock. 5:50.
"Damn it, Jake!" I exclaimed, getting out of bed and hurriedly sifting through my disheveled drawers.
He gave a sarcastic "You're welcome!" as he slipped out the door. I decided on a pair of jeans and a floral shirt; it wasn't like I was trying to impress Jake or his coworker. After trying to fix the mess that was my after-school hair, I applied the tiniest bit of makeup and headed downstairs.
"6:20, record time," Jake said, rolling his eyes. I wasn't surprised to see him in his usual plaid shirt with jeans and a black jean jacket. "Come on, we're going to be late."
As I clicked my seatbelt, I turned to Jake, "Please tell me you don't have any marijuana with you right now."
"Clare, remember I originally thought I was going with Katie to this concert? I wasn't exactly prepared to bring my stepsister."
"So Katie doesn't know?" I was offended that Jake hadn't told her. I would have been furious if Eli had hid it from me.
"You never did either."
My jaw dropped. "Are you kidding me? You've been doing it for that long?"
He laughed. "Clare-bear, I hate to break it to you, but I needed it to get through our relationship."
I was still mad at him, but I let it go. "Okay, let's promise not to bring that up again. I still can't believe you, though. The only reason I'm not punching you right now is because you're driving."
Jake chuckled, "Like you could take me."
I was about to respond when we pulled into the driveway of a house that looked old and very poorly taken care of. Jake and I exchanged confused glances.
"He said this was the address," Jake said, studying a scribbled-on slip of paper. He pulled out his phone. "I'll try calling."
"Hey, Mark? We're outside…Really? Okay…Bye." Jake turned to me. "He's coming out in a second." I was instantly apprehensive.
"This is the right address?" I asked.
"I guess so."
I had about a billion questions running through my head before the door swung open to reveal someone I hoped I would never see again.
"Jake! Why didn't you tell me?" I managed to whisper-scream. He looked at me like I was crazy. "The universe is out to get me. That's FITZ!"
"You mean the guy who almost stabbed Eli? You must be confused. That's Mark."
"Fitz was his nickname, dumbass! Mark Fitzgerald. Oh God, he's coming! What should I do?" I exclaimed, nearly hysterical.
"Think fast!" Jake said under his breath as the truck door swung open and my eyes met Fitz's. I took interest in the fact that he looked strangely the same, except he was a bit more muscular and looked a little older, especially with the tiniest bit of stubble along his jaw. I fought with the idea that he looked somewhat…attractive. Stop, I told myself, If you ever put Fitz and attractive in the same sentence Eli would flip. I looked down at my hands playing with my purity ring. Eli's going to flip anyway.
I could feel his eyes taking me in, making sure I was really who he thought I was. "Clare? Clare…Edwards?" He looked back and forth from Jake to me, clearly struggling with my surprise guest appearance. Fitz stepped up into the truck and I internally cursed this vehicle for having no backseat. He and I were squished up against each other and it could not have been more awkward.
"Hey, Fitz," I attempted, but my voice came out way too high. My cheeks flamed.
"Hey…Clare, Jake," Fitz nodded in Jake's direction and my stepbrother returned the gesture.
"So Fitz, you and Jake work together?" I asked, attempting to start a neutral, non-Eli related conversation.
"Yeah, I've really taken an interest in home improvement…you can probably tell my house isn't the safest place, so I've been attempting a few renovations. Plus, the job gets me away from home for at least a few hours." He gave me a sad look, willing me to remember the conversation we had about his drug-addicted stepbrothers, particularly Steve. "Steve hates everything but the drugs he puts in his pipe," he had said the same day I had started to doubt my relationship with Eli. I tried not to remember those dark days after Fitz started emailing me, but it was nearly impossible. Eli became overly possessive and I wondered if that side of him would come out again if he knew about me seeing Fitz again. I shuddered at the thought, but realized Eli had come miles with his mental health since then. The only flaw in our relationship was the prospect of us having to be apart too soon.
"Mark's really good at his job, too. He's really handy with tools. You should see him with a knife," Jake added, and I had to laugh at the irony of his statement.
"I'm pretty sure I already have," I said, exchanging an embarrassed look with Fitz.
"Oh, and you can probably tell but I go by Mark now. I've been making an effort to erase my dark past, starting with my old nickname," Fitz, or Mark, added.
"I'm glad. I guess we should have a fresh start tonight...Mark. No hard feelings?" I turned to face him, surprised to see him smiling. I returned the gesture, no matter how fake, trying to cover up the fact that I was experiencing a million different emotions at once; I was scared, intrigued, nervous, excited, all because of this guy who had fundamentally caused Eli and I to break up the first time we dated, who apparently was going by his first name now.
"Agreed. No hard feelings." There was a moment of awkward silence in the car, until Fitz filled it with an even more awkward statement. "Well I'm glad you and Emo boy aren't together anymore. You guys," he said, gesturing to Jake and I, "make a much better couple."
Jake and I looked at each other in mock disgust. Jake quickly responded, "Oh, Clare and I definitely aren't dating. I know I said I was bringing my girlfriend, but she bailed, so I brought Clare, my stepsister, instead." I nodded in agreement, hoping Fitz wouldn't bring up "Emo boy" again.
"Wow, okay. So you and Eli…"
"Are together," I said quickly, in a tone that hopefully said to stay far away.
It was obvious he was trying to hide disappointment, and badly. "Congratulations," he said, his face not remotely expressing that sentiment.
This is going to be one long night, I thought.
"Did I mention I'm coming back to Degrassi to graduate?"