Dislclaimer: I do not own Degrassi.
Author's note: Two things:
FIRST: This story is going to start a little tragic and angsty, but it won't be that way after a couple of chapters. I felt the need to write a happier fic, so hang in there.
SECOND: I'm aware that there might be a similar story out there (I'm not sure if there is), so sue me, hahaha. I will try to make this work.
THIRD: This fic is based on a real-life story. With that being said, I want to thank V. and M., the real-life couple that inspired this story. They patiently answered all my questions about their relationship and let me tell you, this is true love. The fact that they survived such a tragic incident and became stronger because of it is admirable and so inspiring. This is for them, although I know that nothing I write will be as compelling and beautiful as the true story.
"Staring at the phone will not make it ring, Eli."
"Shut up, Torres."
Eli drank his cup of coffee placidly, his eyes fixed on the phone. He had been waiting for her call for more than three months, and nothing. What did he expect? For her to wake up one day and realize what had happened?
"Eli," pleaded Adam, picking up his backpack before heading out to work. "I don't think she-"
"Do me a favor and leave," snapped Eli. "I don't need your pessimism right now."
"Fine," retorted Adam. "Sorry for being the pragmatic roommate everybody hates."
Adam left the apartment they shared and slammed the door after him, leaving Eli feeling upset. Three months without Clare had been almost unbearable, a tragedy, and he didn't know how much longer he could wait for her call.
He closed his eyes and the memories of that day invaded his mind. He just wished that some day, preferably soon, the same thing would happen to Clare.
"I think we're all set," grinned Clare, her blue eyes startling him in the daylight. He never grew tired of looking at her, of simply staring; he knew that he was a very lucky man. They had been dating for five years, both of them attending the same college, and Eli was looking forward to graduating.
Because Clare had promised him that the moment he graduated they would move in together, and Eli couldn't wait. He had already secured a job at a publishing company where he was working as an underpaid intern, so he knew that things would be okay economically speaking.
"I know that you're not looking forward to spending time with my parents," said Clare, walking over to him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him, giggling as she did. "But at least you'll get to see yours as well."
"And I have to drive your car," grimaced Eli mockingly. "Poor Morty, he feels betrayed."
"Well, excuse me, but my car was made for long drives," chuckled Clare.
"So am I, if you know what I mean," winked Eli, and kissed her fiercely.
"Eli, not in front of your neighbors," said Clare shyly, pushing him away. The sun was starting to burn Eli's skin, and he stole another kiss from Clare before grabbing the last suitcase and putting it in Clare's car.
"You have a trillion suitcases, Edwards," smirked Eli. "We're only going to be there for a week."
"Never underestimate a girl's wardrobe," said Clare playfully. "Are you ready?"
Eli nodded, watching Clare as she got into the car, and he dug his hand in his pocket. The ring was still there and he gulped nervously, ready for the drive ahead.
"Having Dead Hand on constant repeat is getting on my nerves," joked Clare as Eli sang along to his favorite band.
"Hey, no blasphemy in this car," retorted Eli, and Clare started laughing.
"But it's my car, Eli," she protested, her voice full of cheekiness.
Eli chuckled and Clare took off her seat belt, making Eli glance at her. "Excuse me, safety first," noted Eli.
Clare stuck out her tongue at him and then smiled mischievously. "I have a magazine in the backseat, I just need to get it," she explained.
Clare started fumbling around as she tried to find the magazine in the backseat, and Eli glanced again. "Clare, your ass is distracting me," he sighed.
"Sorry, but it's true," grinned Eli, looking away. "I mean, go ahead, take your time finding that magazine, I don't mind at all."
"You're disgusting," said Clare, holding the magazine in her hands and hitting Eli with it.
"Violence while driving?" frowned Eli. "I am being abused by my girlfriend, someone save me!"
"Oh, poor you," grinned Clare, flipping through the magazine.
Eli truly loved her, loved every single moment they spent together. That was why he felt ready to propose to her. They had been through so much in their relationship, and it only seemed normal to take the next step. He had already told Bullfrog and Cece about his plans, and they were thrilled about it.
He only hoped that Clare's parents would be as thrilled, he knew that they still had some reservations about him. Even Darcy liked him, having met him a couple of years before, and her approval had seemed vital to Clare.
Eli couldn't wait to spend the rest of his life with her. He glanced at Clare, who was reading in silence, and it was as if she could feel his stare. She glanced back at him and smiled, making him notice something.
"Clare-" started Eli, trying to remind her about putting the seat belt back on, and then Clare let out the most terrifying scream he had ever heard.
Eli didn't see the trailer coming at them; he only felt the impact as the vehicles collided. The car started flipping over, and he felt when his chest hit the steering wheel, the smell of hot metal invading his nostrils.
Clare was screaming at the top of her lungs, and then Eli heard glass breaking, which made the screaming stop. Everything happened exceedingly fast, everything was a blur, and when the car came to a sudden stop, Eli saw no more.
The stars are out.
What's your wish?
If I say it out loud, it won't come true.
Would it sound cheesy if I tell you that mine already has?
Eli opened his eyes slowly, and blinked. He could taste blood inside of his mouth, and he tried not to gulp. The car was on the side of the road and Eli wondered if he had just imagined the car flipping over because everything seemed strangely normal. Eli could hear nothing but the hiss of the engine, and his ears started ringing, making him wince.
He turned around and felt a sharp pain run through his leg but tried to ignore it. His heart stopped at the sight of Clare, her head was lying on the dashboard, and blood was all over her face. Her left arm was bleeding too, and he could see the bone poking through her skin.
"Clare," he croaked, his throat burning. She wasn't answering and her eyes were closed, making Eli feel terrified. He looked around the car and noticed that his side was completely smashed in, and he had no idea how they would get out.
"Clare," he insisted, trying to reach out and touch her, but his arm wasn't responding.
Clare's lips parted and Eli saw blood starting to trickle out from the corner of her mouth. "Our father…" she mumbled.
"Clare, are you okay?" asked Eli, his head starting to hurt.
Eli heard sirens approaching and he felt relieved, they were going to be safe. Clare kept muttering and Eli noticed that she hadn't had time to put her seatbelt back on, and he wondered if Clare would have any serious injuries as a result.
Clare kept mumbling the same words over and over again, and Eli felt uneasy. "Tell me what hurts, Clare," he said, trying to keep both of them awake.
His leg started hurting again, and he glanced at it, almost passing out at the sight. Bone was sticking out of his thigh and he tried not to throw up, focusing on Clare.
He realized with horror that Clare wasn't mumbling anymore, and again he tried to reach out but his arm wasn't cooperating. Clare didn't seem to be breathing, and everything was starting to swirl around him.
For the first time in his life, Eli Goldsworthy started to pray.
He was afraid of opening his eyes, but the sound of his mother's voice made him do it.
"Cece, the brat woke up!" bellowed Bullfrog excitedly.
"Baby boy, you're awake!" squealed Cece, clutching his hand tightly. "You scared all of us for a moment-"
"Clare… is she okay?"
Bullfrog looked at Cece fearfully and didn't quite meet Eli's eyes. "She hasn't woken up, Eli," explained Cece. "A clot formed in her head and they had to perform emergency surgery to remove it… they are not sure if she's going to make it."
They are not sure if she's going to make it.
The words pierced Eli's heart, he couldn't handle the thought of losing Clare, not like that.
"The driver who hit you fell asleep," said Bullfrog somberly. "It wasn't your fault."
Eli looked at his parents, and they knew that they wanted to avoid making him feel guilty. "I know it wasn't my fault," said Eli sincerely. "I want to see her."
"Honey, I think that they're only allowing her family in at the moment," said Cece soothingly.
"I'm her boyfriend," snarled Eli, trying to sit up, but Cece stopped him.
"Don't move," she warned.
The pain in his leg startled him and he groaned, feeling dizzy.
"You have a mild concussion; you broke your arm and your leg…" Cece's eyes filled with tears. "You broke your leg in eight different places. They had to perform surgery and place some metal plates and screws in your leg…"
"Now you're going to beep like crazy every time you walk out of a store," chimed in Bullfrog. "That actually sounds cool."
"I don't care about my injuries, I just want to see Clare," snapped Eli.
"I will ask," said Cece. "Just, calm down and rest, okay?"
Eli opened his mouth to protest, but the room started spinning around him again, and he passed out.
Cece pushed Eli's wheelchair down the hallway, smiling and greeting everyone as she did. When they got closer to Clare's room, Cece touched Eli on the shoulder and sighed. "I want you to prepare yourself for this, okay?" said Cece lovingly. "Clare is in bad shape."
"The first thing they told me as soon as I arrived was to prepare funeral arrangements," Mrs. Edwards was saying angrily as Cece and Eli entered the room. "She is doing better now, and I know that she is going to wake up but that is just so-"
Mrs. Edwards stopped talking at the sight of them, and Eli saw Darcy sitting at the right side of Clare's bed. Clare's head was heavily bandaged, and Eli wondered if they had gotten rid of her beautiful curls.
"Eli, how are you feeling?" asked Mrs. Edwards politely.
"I'm… okay…" said Eli, still in shock at the sight of Clare on the hospital bed. Her face was bruised, and her left arm was bandaged as well.
Cece pushed the wheelchair forward tentatively, and Darcy merely nodded at Eli as he got closer to the bed. He leaned in and kissed Clare on the forehead, wanting to hold her in his arms.
"I love you," muttered Eli, his heart aching.
"Jesus Christ," gasped Mrs. Edwards as Clare slowly opened her eyes.
"Mom?" groaned Clare, and Eli felt extremely relieved.
"Yes, sweetie, I'm here, oh, I have to go find your dad," cried Mrs. Edwards and left the room. Darcy walked to the other side of Clare's bed and grabbed her hand, smiling tearfully.
"What happened?" asked Clare, looking around the room confusedly.
"You got into a wreck with your boyfriend," explained Darcy carefully.
Clare didn't say anything and she continued to look around, wincing in pain. Then she frowned and closed her eyes, licking her lips slowly. "But K.C doesn't drive."
Silence invaded the room as those words escaped Clare's lips, and Eli realized that something was terribly wrong.
"Clare… I'm here," he said, and Clare opened her eyes. There was no recognition in her eyes, none of the love that she always had in them, and Eli felt suddenly numb with horror. Clare started at him blankly, her lower lip trembling as she did, and her lips parted to speak.
"Who are you?"
Eli rubbed his forehead and left the table, limping slightly as he did. The doctors said that the limp would be there for a while, and he still used crutches every now and then. The pain would wake him up in the middle of the night, but not having Clare next to him was what hurt the most.
Clare had no recollection of their relationship, of her parents' divorce, of her breakup with K.C. There were several things that she didn't remember, and the doctors said that she probably never would.
He had had a long talk with Clare's parents, and he agreed that he would give Clare some time. He told Clare that she should feel free to call him any time she wanted to talk, but three months had gone by and he hadn't heard from her. He kept in touch with Darcy, who kept him updated, and whenever he asked if Clare had mentioned him at all Darcy would remain silent. Then she would go on about how Clare was making some progress, and that perhaps she would be able to go back to school eventually.
Clare was recovering her life little by little, but Eli's was slipping through his fingers.
In one split second, Eli had lost everything.