I know it's been a little while since I last posted, but I wasn't able to finish this chapter until tonight. I'm finally satisfied with how this turned out, and I'm very excited for the future of this story...big plans, everybody, I've got big plans and lots of time to publish them all. You are all going to be in for a treat!

Thank you to everyone who has favorited and commented and alerted me and my stories! You all rock! Now, without further adieu, enjoy chapter four!

He stared at his hands, turning them over, examining every line, every pore. Fitz could remember the feel of her skin under his fingers, under his hands, and as he sat staring at them, it was as if her skin was still under his, so strong was the memory. He'd never done anything like that before, but it had felt good.

He looked up and grinned at the mirror. He knew he wanted to do it again, needed to. It was as if his body was calling for Clare's. Sure, he'd had sex with girls before, but taking Clare was something that had been new to him…and it had made him feel more powerful than he had felt in years.

He was crashing at his friend's house since he knew the police were looking for him at his own. He wasn't stupid enough to go back to his parents, since he knew they didn't want him anyways. He smirked at the thought of adults trying to hunt him down, knowing full well they had his name and information and enough to connect him to Clare's rape.

He closed his eyes and licked his thumb, remembering the taste of Clare's skin under his lips and tongue. When he opened his eyes his eyes were dark with need, and he laughed crazily at the thought of Eli finding his precious Clare broken and shattered on the Degrassi floor.

Eli woke up first. It had been a rough night for him: he kept waking up to check on Clare. Each time he found her safely tucked into his side, sleeping somewhat soundly.

He looked at her face for the eighth time that night and rubbed her arm lightly, his fingers ghosting over the slightly less red welts that were a reminder to him of her episode the night before. Something about finding her so broken, so stuck, burrowed into his subconscious and festered, so that he knew there was something wrong but couldn't exactly put his finger on it. He worried she'd try to hurt herself in different ways, trying to rid herself of Fitz's touch and memory.

She stirred slowly, waking up to see Eli gazing down at her worriedly. She sat up fully and pulled her arms close to her stomach, scooting as far away from Eli as she could. She wouldn't look in his eyes. "Clare," he said, but she shook her head.

He reached out to touch her but she shied away. He wondered if she was mad at him for dressing her last night, for walking in on her shower. In truth she was scared of what she'd done and just wanted to be alone to think. He pulled his hand back and stood up. "I'm going to go get you some breakfast." She nodded, still looking away, and he left.

When he was gone she stood and looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were dark, clouded with misery, and there were red welts on her arms from where she'd scrubbed them raw. She shifted and winced, looking under the shirt to find more red mixed with brown and purple bruises. She touched the bruises gently, tracing their outlines. One looked like the outline of a finger, another a hand. She felt tears running down her cheeks and frantically wiped them away.

She got dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and sweat pants and walked down to find Eli. She found him in the kitchen, trying to figure out how to turn on her stove. She smiled at the scene and walked up behind him, turning on the burner with a side smirk at the helpless boy beside her. He looked surprised to see her up and walking around.

"How are you feeling?"

She turned and walked to the refrigerator, pouring herself a glass of orange juice with the carton she pulled out. "No better…no worse." She sat down at the table and watched him make French toast. "I still feel terrible."

He turned to her. "I'm surprised you're up."

She looked at him, then out the kitchen window. "I am too. Last night I felt like my world had ended. It seemed like there wasn't anything I could do to get the picture of Fitz out of my head. He was there, every time I closed my eyes, smiling at me, preying on me." She rubbed her arms lightly, as if remembering her shower the night before. "I can still feel his touch on me…sometimes I can't breathe, like his lips are covering mine, not letting me get ample breath." She stopped rubbing her arm and took a sip of juice.

Eli looked at her, sitting at the table, looking out of the window, and wished things were different. She's so strong, he thought. She was raped two nights ago, and she's, well, not fine, but she's getting better. He couldn't help himself, he wanted to tell her he loved her, that she was so strong, and that he admired her for that and loved that part of her. But he kept his lips shut, his mind away from those betraying thoughts, and went back to cooking.

"I never thanked you for rescuing me, Eli, for finding me. I'm not sure what would have happened if you hadn't found me…what I would have done."

He flipped two pieces of toast onto a plate, shut the burner off, carried the plate and syrup to Clare, and set everything down with a flourish. "Your breakfast, my dear," he said with a smirk and a short, but needed, kiss to her forehead.

She looked up at him. "Thank you."

He waved his hand in a "don't worry about it" gesture, but she caught it and held on. "I mean it, Eli. I know I'm not really ready to love anyone right now, not completely ready to trust anyone, but I think that you are the closest person to me right now. I…how I feel for you right now? That's the closest I think I'm going to get to love for a while."

He looked at her and pushed hair back from her face with his free hand, and looked into her eyes. "Clare, I swear to you, I will never leave you. And, well, I'm not sure if I can love either, but you are the single most important person in my life right now. And when you are ready to love, I will be here for you. I'm not going anywhere. For as long as you want me, I will be by your side."

She looked up at him and grasped both of his hands in hers. "Thank you, Eli. I…you cannot imagine how much that means to me, especially at this point in time."

He lowered his head until they were face to face. "I think I understand more than you give me credit for. Now," he said, pulling back, "eat your breakfast. We can do whatever you want to do today, go to the park, out to eat—"

She cut him off. "Can we just watch a movie?"

He nodded with a knowing smile. "A movie it is. Eat, I'll find us something to watch."

He turned to walk away but her voice stopped him. "Thank you, Eli."

He turned, nodded, smiled, and walked away.

Worth the wait? Or are you still mad at me for taking so long to re-post? Let me know!

Em =]