Author's Note: I haven't really written Eclare in a long time. I have a lot of stories still left to update, but I had this dream the other night and when I woke up, I knew I had to write it. This won't be a very long story, at the most five chapters. But I love the idea and I know it'll be so fun to write. I hope you all enjoy it and please leave a review to let me know. I do not own Degrassi in any way, except maybe in my dreams :)
Setting: After Eli crashes Morty, before the school play. He and Clare are broken up and haven't spoken to one another since she left him at the hospital. I've written this setting/scene before and I love it. I think its one of my favorite settings to write Clare and Eli for many reasons.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Adam had texted her the night before, informing her that he'd be back in school the next day. She had stared down at her phone, unable to type back a reply. That night, she had lain awake, anxiety stirring in her mind. She hadn't seen him since she had left him at the hospital, reaching out to her and calling for her to not go. But she had gone, left him, and hadn't spoken to him since. After all, how could she after what he had done. She still had nightmares of that night - the callousness of his voice, the static of the phone, the tires squealing on pavement, the crash, her screaming into the phone until her throat was raw, begging to know if he was alright. He had done that to her on purpose. For attention. And she was certain she could never forgive him for that amount of insane selfishness. Eli Goldsworthy hadn't been to school since the accident. Rumors spread like wildfire through the hallways. Some said his parents had had him committed, others said he wasn't allowed to return to Degrassi. And some, the few that dared anyway, said that he had finally done it and had slit his wrists with a scalpel in the hospital. Clare hated hearing those rumors. They made her stomach churn and her heart kick. Her only source for the truth was Adam. Adam was the only one that still was speaking with Eli. Clare wasn't sure if he was the only one Eli was allowing to get near enough to him to do so, or if Adam was the only one who still wanted to give Eli the time of day. Either way, he was her source of information.
He had told her that his injuries weren't too terribly severe, that he walked with a cane, that his eyes darkened and he wasn't entirely sure if it was angst or eyeliner that causes the shadows. Clare didn't ask, and Adam didn't tell, where she stood with Eli. Part of her never wanted to see him again, in fear that she would finish the job the car crash left unfinished out of sole anger. But there was still that part of her that wanted to know if he was alright and that damned part of her still wanted to run to him, to hug him, to tell him that everything would be alright.
But it would never be alright. Not after what had happened that night.
Clare had turned off her phone, not replying to Adam, and had tried to fall asleep. Her efforts had been futile. Her mind simply would not allow her the pleasure of a peaceful night's rest. Instead, her mind churned and played, like a record, over and over again conversations and scenarios in her head. She imagined seeing Eli for the first time, and what she would say to him if she said anything to him at all. The hours ticked by on the clock and finally her alarm blared, jolting her from her thoughts. Exhausted, Clare made her way over to her closet and scanned the various clothes, hanging in order by occasion and color. She grabbed her typical uniform - the khaki pants and purple polo. She also grabbed her new black sweater with the floppy flower pin. After getting dressed, she ducked into the bathroom and applied some light makeup. She reached for the eyeliner she only ever wore on special occasions and stopped herself. What was she doing? Why did she care about dressing up for seeing Eli for the first time since everything? She dropped the eyeliner pen, and applied a bit of blush and mascara. After feeling confident in her appearance, she headed downstairs for breakfast.
"Ready for school today, honey?" Helen asked, handing her daughter a banana to slice onto of her cereal.
"Yeah," Clare lied, "I think Alli wants to get together after school and see a movie. Is that alright?"
"As long as you do all your homework first. Honey, you look exhausted. Have you not been sleeping well?" Clare blushed and ducked her head so her mom couldn't see the exhaustion forming puffiness under her eyes. She'd hoped the makeup might have helped.
"Yeah, I just woke up a lot throughout the night."
"Are you stressed about anything?" Helen sat down next to her daughter, "Sweetheart, I know you've been through a lot these past weeks, but you can't let the pain you've had to endure because of that boy make you physically sick. I'll pick up some Sleepy Time tea for you to have tonight. And those lavender bath salts that you like so much. I know you've gone through a lot, but honey it's not healthy to lose sleep because of him."
"Thanks, Mom," Clare quickly finished off her cereal, "I'm going to walk to school today. Is that alright?"
"The fresh air will probably do you some good," Helen nodded, "Have a good day at school, honey."
Clare hugged her mom goodbye, grabbed her backpack, and headed out the door. Her nerves were eating away at her, and she tried to remember what her mother had said. She had been right; it wasn't healthy for Clare to let Eli affect her like this. The stress, the anxiety, the concern he made her feel was unbearable; and she dreaded seeing him at school. Seeing him would make him real in her life once again, and Clare wasn't sure if she could handle that. But then there was that small part of her, the part she hated, that wanted to see him just to prove to herself that he was okay.
When she got to school, she headed to her locker. As she was getting her things together, Adam appeared next to her.
"You didn't text me back," he pouted.
"Sorry," Clare stifled a yawn, "I had a lot on my mind."
"I"ll say," Adam raised an eyebrow, "You look like you haven't slept in weeks!"
"Thanks, Adam," Clare replied dryly.
"Wait...have you been sleeping since..." Adam's voice took on a note of concern.
Clare opened her mouth to answer, but was interrupted by the students in the hallway turning in unison towards the doors. There was a hushed silence that fell over everyone, and she turned to see what everyone was gawking at. She saw him. He was wearing his uniform, military jacket, and holding a black cane with a skull on the top of it in one hand. He walked with a painful-looking limp. Clare hated that everyone was staring at him as if he was some side show attraction. But she was quick to realize that she was doing the exact same thing. Quickly, she turned her attention back to her locker and began riffling through her backpack.
Adam cleared his throat as Eli neared, his locker just a ways past Clare's, "I should uh...go help him."
"Yeah," Clare nodded, "I'll uh...see you later."
Adam took off to catch up to Eli. Clare felt her heart pause and for a moment, she forgot how to breathe. All the nightmares, all the late nights imagining that moment, none of it had prepared her for the real thing. Eli looked worse off that she had ever imagined. His eyes were dark and hard as stone. He gripped the cane so that his knuckles were a ghostly white. His face had small scratches still, and Clare could see the small gash peeking out from under his bangs. She craned her neck to watch Eli and Adam head off towards his locker. She winced with each painful step Eli took.
"Mr. Goldsworthy, can I speak to you for a moment?" Clare glanced up to see Mr. Simpson standing in front of them. She could barely make out what was said, but watched as Eli followed Simpson to his office. She ran her lower lip across her bottom teeth. Maybe the rumors were true. Maybe Eli wasn't allowed to come back to Degrassi after what he had done. But then, wouldn't Simpson had called Bullfrog and Cece to let them know ahead of time? Bullfrog and Cece...
Clare's heart sank at the thought of Eli's parents. She wondered how they were doing, and how well they were handling everything. How could Eli be so selfish to put everyone who loved him through so much pain? Clare angrily slammed her locker shut. Did he just not care? Did he think it was funny to hurt those who loved him? She tried to shake the thought from her head as she made her way to her first period classroom. Clare was determined not to let Eli's presence back at Degrassi affect her negatively. She needed to focus on her classes, and that's exactly what she was determined to do.
"You're joking, right?" Eli raised an eyebrow, slumping further down into the seat across from Mr. Simpson.
"Eli, I've talked with the drama department and Ms. Dawes. She knows your potential and she knows how passionate you are. She thinks that working on the school play will be very therapeutic for you..."
"You're not my shrink, Simpson."
Mr. Simpson recoiled, but reminded himself to keep calm, "I know that, Eli. Maybe I am going about this the wrong way. Look, the truth is that you've missed three weeks of school. Yes, you were able to keep up with a lot of makeup work, but there's still so much you need to do so that you don't fall behind. Now then, Ms. Dawes came to me and asked that I speak with some of your teachers in regards to this matter. If you decide to go through with this, you will be able to make up a lot of your missed work. This will go towards your grade, and it will look good on your college applications. Which, quite frankly, you need to do well with after that stunt you pulled a few weeks ago."
Eli winced and gripped the cane even tighter. He stared intensely at the pattern of the carpet in Mr. Simpson's office as he thought everything over. Maybe Mr. Simpson had a point. At least this way, he could make up missed work without being bogged down with a lot of makeup assignments. Eli exhaled, the puff of air kicked up his bangs, revealing the gash on his forehead. Mr. Simpson turned his attention back to the manila folder on his desk.
"Fine," Eli finally spoke.
"I'll do it," his voice was level but abrasive, "I'll work with Ms. Dawes on the script and direct the school play," Eli sighed.
"Great!" Mr. Simpson was too enthusiastic for Eli's taste, "It's a rendition of Alice and Wonderland. She said it was going to be darker and with a bit of a twist. I dunno," Simpson shrugged, "but she assures me that you'll be excellent for this. Its a lot of responsibility, Eli. I just want to let you know that."
"So you need to stay on top of this and work hard and..."
"...and don't have a mental breakdown and completely fuck everything up, right?" Eli smiled exaggeratedly, sarcastically.
Mr. Simpson gripped the pencil he had been holding in his hand so tightly that it snapped in two. He let out a small gasp and quickly picked up the pieces, shoving them into one of the desk drawers. Eli choked back a snicker.
"Mr. Goldsworthy, I am trying to be as patient and as understanding with you as I can right now. I don't want to say I know what you're going through, because I think that's a cop-out thing to say to someone. I do want to say this though, I've been through a lot in my life too. Life can suck pretty badly at times, but that's no excuse to give up on it or want to sign out early. I don't know what your intentions were behind that wheel of your car, but I do know that you got a second chance here. My door is always open if you want to talk to someone, Eli. I am going to be patient and I am going to be understanding; but what I am not going to let you do is get a free pass here. You're still going to be held accountable for your actions and responsibilities. Got it?"
Eli's brow furrowed as he rolled his eyes and grumbled, "Yes sir."
"Good. I am looking forward to seeing what you and Ms. Dawes come up with for the school play. I am sure whatever ideas you have will be great. Now, get to class."
Eli struggled, putting his weight on the cane and heaving himself from the leather chair. Simpson winced and turned away as Eli swung his backpack over his shoulder and limped towards the door.
"And Mr. Goldsworthy?"
"If you ever use that word in front of me again, you'll be spending your time in detention instead of writing and directing the school play. Is that understood?"
Eli simply nodded and headed out the door. Mr. Simpson shut the manila folder and placed it in a drawer of his desk as the click-clack of the cane resounded down the hallway.