Author's Note: I have been without internet far too long and to celebrate I am going to kick off my updates with a one-shot. Now, let it be said that I do not really like Imogen. I never have and never will. We are all entitled to our opinions and I am entitled to mine. If you like her, awesome. I am sure I like characters that a lot of you don't like. That being said, I really felt like writing a one-shot with her included in it. I hope I don't step on any toes and I hope I can write her character well. Also, I do not own Degrassi. Oh, and there's some speculation as to Imogen at graduation etc. based off of the previews so I am making up my own ideas about that. Also, I know Eli and Clare probably get together at Prom and he does the whole horse and carriage thing, but for the sake of my story, it's graduation and they haven't spoken.
Fraction of a Chance
Eli lifted the blue cap from his head and ran a hand through his hair. He couldn't believe that his time at Degrassi had come to a close. Everyone was standing around talking and laughing, but he had disappeared for a moment, clinging to the background, letting his emotions set in. He knew that in a few minutes, he'd join in with his friends and they'd all hug and laugh but for now he just needed a moment to let the silence sort out his thoughts. He ducked out of the gymnasium and headed towards his old locker that he had cleaned out last week. He paused as he ran a hand along the wall, particularly over the bit of paint that was a shade off from the rest. The memory of a knife stuck was sharp in his mind.
So much had happened during his time at Degrassi. After losing Julia, he had felt like his life had ended. Little did he know that it was just beginning. He leaned against the cool aluminum doors of the lockers and folded his arms over his chest. Memories played like an old movie reel through his mind.
"There you are."
Eli was pulled from his thoughts to see Imogen headed towards him. Eli forced a small smile. He had been thinking of Clare just before Imogen had interrupted his thoughts. Eli knew he could never be angry with her though - not since over a year ago. Now, they were good friends and he had a soft spot for the girl with the pig-tail buns and black sparkly nail polish.
"Hey, Imo," he said.
"I was looking for you," Imogen pouted, "You ran off."
"I just needed some time to think about everything," Eli explained, "I heard what happened - are you okay?"
Imogen shrugged, "I just should have tried harder this year."
"It's not your fault you know," Eli turned to her, "You were busy with your dad."
"I still should have done better."
"Don't do that," Eli nudged her, "Your dad was your priority as he should have been. Grades sometimes aren't everything, despite what they tell you."
A small smile crossed her lips, "Fiona says it's a good thing. I mean, of course I wanted to go off to New York with her but maybe it's good that I will be here another year. My dad needs me. He's getting better care now, so that's good. And next year, that means I can focus more on my schoolwork now that he'll be in better hands. Who knows, maybe I don't want to go off to New York and study fashion. Maybe I want to stay close to home and become a Home Healthcare Aid. Who knows."
"Just do whatever makes you happy."
"Look who's talking," it was Imogen's turn to nudge him, "You've been a sourpuss the last couple of weeks and I am sick of it!"
Eli looked at her sheepishly.
"Don't give me that," Imogen huffed, "You're leaving for NYU soon and you'll keep being miserable unless you fix this. If you think you can just run off to NYU and forget her and all the feelings you have for her, then you're an idiot, Elijah James Goldsworthy."
Eli winced, "Ouch - full name, huh?"
"Look, I may not like Clare all that much, but you love her and that means something. I want you to be happy in New York and I want you to have the time of your life there, Eli. But you won't be able to unless you make things right with her or burn that bridge. You got to decide which though and you got to do it quickly. If you don't, you'll be miserable in New York and think only on regrets and sadness."
Eli bothered his lower lip between his teeth - she had a point, "She doesn't want to talk to me."
"She was asking about you."
"She was not."
"She was too! She even went up to Bullfrog and Cece and asked where you had disappeared to."
Eli shook his head, "I really screwed this one up, Imogen. I lost her once before and I swore I'd never lose her again."
"You just needed to focus on yourself. It's not selfish, Eli. Sometimes we just need to take time for ourselves and I know you. You wouldn't want Clare not to be a priority in your life. If you were going to date her, she was going to come first. It wouldn't have been fair to her to take back burner to your mental health. But at the same time, your mental health needed to be top priority."
Eli's eyes filled with relief, "That's exactly it. Thank you for...OW!" Imogen smacked him on the side of he head, "What was that for?"
"That was for not going about it the right way. You know I'll defend you to the ends of the earth, Eli Goldsworthy, but you were a jerk to her."
Eli's eyes fell to the tile floor, "I know," he mumbled, "Sometimes, I just don't always think before I do things."
Imogen smiled, "It's what makes you you, Eli. We all have our faults but you can fix this. Please fix this. I can't bear the thought of you going off to New York and not living up every moment of it because you're too miserable to enjoy it. If you think there is still a fraction of a chance that you and Clare can still be together, take that chance and fight for it. If not, then bring both of you some closure and move on."
"Thanks, Imogen," Eli pulled her into a hug, "I am going to miss you."
"Don't do that," Imogen hugged him back, "No goodbyes, alright? Only, 'I'll see you soon's."
Again, the memories came rushing back and Eli hugged her a little tighter and even placed a delicate kiss on the top of her head, "I'll see you soon, Imogen."
Imogen beamed surprised and delighted by his affection, "I'll see you soon, Eli."
Eli broke away from the hug and headed back down the hall to find Clare. He knew Imogen was right. If there was a small chance that they could still be together, he needed to fight for that chance. If not, he needed to let Clare go so they could both get on with their lives. He headed outside where he saw Clare with her family. They were taking pictures of Jake with his diploma. The last thing Eli wanted to do was run into a confrontation with Helen. Instead, he stood off to the side and captured Clare's gaze in his. He nodded, gesturing for her to join him for a second. Clare excused herself from the family pictures and headed towards Eli. He could see her body rise with a sharp intake of breath.
"Hey," she said, quietly.
"Hey," Eli tried his best to smile, "I did it," he held up his diploma.
"I see," Clare nodded.
Eli realized he was sounding ridiculous. Why did he have to make everything about him? He reminded himself how his previous conversation starting with his admittance into NYU had gone and said, "I wanted to talk to you for a bit if that's alright."
"I guess," Clare glanced towards her family, "Mom's going crazy with the pictures and I need to get away anyways."
"I'm leaving for New York soon," Eli sat down on a bench. Clare paused a moment before joining him.
"I didn't want to go without talking to you first."
"Clare, when I think about my time at Degrassi, the thing that stands out is you. For the past few years, you've been such a huge part of my life. I will never forget that, ever. You helped me through so much and I don't think I would be off to NYU at all if it wasn't for you. You saved my life in more ways than one, Clare."
Clare tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, not sure if she was emotionally prepared to hear all of this.
"I want to know where we stand, Clare. I have to know before I leave. If there is even a slight chance of us ever being together again, I am going to fight with my all for the chance. If not, then I will walk away and you can move on with your life. But I need to know before I leave."
Clare inhaled, mustering up her courage and sorting through her thoughts before saying, "I don't know, Eli. Part of me wants to be with you more than anything. But then part of me wonders if it would be a mistake. We've both hurt each other in the past. Maybe...maybe we've been together for too long. Maybe this is a good thing. You can go off to NYU and do amazing things and meet some amazing people. Maybe you'll fall in love. Maybe I'll fall in love. I think...I think it might be good for us to be apart from each other. We've been together so long, Eli but maybe...maybe it's time to find ourselves apart from each other," she stumbled over the words, praying they were coming out the way they sounded in her head.
Eli stiffened next to her and his change of posture made Clare wince.
After a few moments in which Clare forgot how to breathe, Eli finally said, "I understand. Maybe you're right. Maybe I'll go off and be successful and NYU and maybe I will fall in love."
Clare felt her heart fall to the pit of her stomach. Hearing Eli say those words were far more painful than she had anticipated. Why couldn't anything be easy between them?
"But there's two problems with that."
"What?" Clare turned to him, her sapphire eyes meeting his.
"One: I wouldn't be at NYU if it weren't for you, so all that supposed success I may or may not have while there would be all because of you."
"And the second thing?" Clare pressed timidly.
"The second thing: I don't want to fall in love with anyone but you."
Clare's breath snagged in her lungs, "Eli..."
"It's always been you, Clare; and it will always be you. No one else can ever come close. So what if I meet some amazing people while at NYU? They wouldn't compare to you - they couldn't even try."
A small smile tugged at the corner of her lips, "I-I don't know what's going to happen when you're gone," Clare stared down at her hands folded in her lap, "but I do know that if I were to lose you for good, my heart would shatter beyond repair."
Eli bit down on the small, sad smile that was lifting at his lips, "Clare..."
"Where does that leave us, Eli? You're going to be gone soon and I'll be here."
Eli nudged her gently, "Bullfrog wants me to be careful with how much I pack with me. The dorms are pretty small and he doesn't want me to fall into old habits so I won't be taking much with me. I am almost positive there is no way I'd be able to fill a dresser so there might be an empty drawer available if you want it."
"I get a drawer," Clare thought over her words carefully, "But I still don't know where that leaves us."
"I leave in a few weeks. Why don't we spend some time together before then and figure it out together."
"Clare!" Jake jogged over, his robe hitting the back of his khaki pants, "We'll be late for our lunch reservation. C'mon! I'm starving!" Then he noticed Eli, "Wait...are you two on speaking terms again?"
"Sweet!" Jake pumped his fist into the air, "Does this mean Eli can come over again?"
Eli shot Clare a hopeful look.
"Yes," Clare smiled at how excited her step brother is, "Eli can come over a lot."
"Dude!" Jake and Eli fist-bumped, "You don't know how boring it's been without you! Clare sucks at Mario Kart and I need some competition!"
"Well...only if I can be DK."
"Man," Jake pouted, "Oh, alright. I guess I can allow that."
Clare cleared her throat, "Jake, why don't you head over to the car and I'll meet you guys over there in a minute."
Jake looked from Clare to Eli, then back to Clare, "I guess I can leave you two alone for a second," as he walked back over to their parents, he stopped and pointed towards them, shouting, "But keep your hands where I can see them!"
"Oh God!" Clare winced.
Eli chuckled, "I've missed him."
"I've missed you," Clare didn't know what prompted her to say it, it just slipped out.
"I've missed you too."
They sat in silence for a bit before a car horn honked. Eli said, "You better get going with your family."
"Do you have plans?" Clare asked as she stood from the bench.
"Yeah, Bullfrog and Cece and I are meeting my grandmother for dinner tonight."
"How about we start that whole 'finding out together' thing?"
"I'd like that," Eli said, standing.
"I'd like that too."
As she headed towards her family, Eli shouted, "Wait! What about that chance? Do you think there's a fraction of a chance?"
Clare grinned mischievously, "Jury's still out."
Eli smirked as he watched her hop into her Mom's station wagon. Oh yeah, there is definitely a chance.