Novel - Subject: Degrassi - Rating: T - Category: Drama/Romance
Gimme Sympathy: Clare is confused and finds help from an unlikely source
~Chapter 2 - Gimme Sympathy~
I pushed open the door to The Dot with a sigh. I took the closest available table and stared out the window. Had I woken up this morning or was I still dreaming? I wasn't really sure.
I prided myself on handling situations well. I'd dealt with a lot already. Darcy's depression, the breakup with K.C., Eli's ups and downs. And most recently, my parents' separation.
But this was something totally different.
"Oh my God," I breathed. I looked down at my hands. That was the wrong move, obviously. I could almost see Jenna's hands holding mine. I shook my head vigorously.
There was nothing wrong with being gay. This was something I had figured out awhile ago. My cousin was gay. He had confided in me the summer before I started high school. And there was nothing wrong with him. Absolutely nothing. Sure, it had taken time to adjust to the idea, but I eventually decided that I didn't care what the church said about it. He was a wonderful person.
So, when Adam told me about his biological gender, I'd already become adjusted to the idea that there were lots of different sorts of people in the world. And being different wasn't necessarily bad. Adam certainly wasn't a bad person either.
But if Chris wasn't a bad person, and Adam wasn't a bad person, why did I feel so awful? If Chris being with his boyfriend was okay, then it followed that there was nothing wrong with girls being together, same as guys. But all of the sudden, it became totally different. Because I had been involved firsthand.
I looked down at my cross. Was I feeling guilty? Should I be feeling guilty? It wasn't wrong; it wasn't wrong. But it was me, Clare Edwards. And that was completely wrong.
"Are you okay?"
I looked up to see Peter hovering over me with a concerned look.
"Hi, Peter," I said, weakly. I didn't really want to answer the question.
"No offense or whatever, but you look really bad... like upset, I mean," Peter said.
"Yeah, I guess that's true," I said.
Peter tapped the top of the chair next to me. "Need someone to talk to?"
I started to shake my head, but then I stopped. "Okay, maybe..."
Peter sat down at once. I'd never thought of him as someone to turn to for advice. He was just some guy my sister dated. I thought of him and his silly band lyrics. I almost burst into laughter at the look on his face combined with the image of him singing in a rabbit mask.
"So, what's up?" Peter prompted when I didn't say anything.
"Well, I guess it starts with... one of my friends just gave birth," I said.
"Whoa!" Peter said. "Seriously? Is she your age?" I nodded. "That's way too youn-" He seemed to reconsider his words. "That's got to be tough. Are you worried about her?"
"Yeah, I am," I said. This was a safe topic, so I went with it. "She's got a really supportive brother, but that's... like it. I had to talk K.C. into just coming to hold her hand."
"Wait... K.C.?" Peter said, looking confused. "Wasn't he... your boyfriend?"
I sighed. "Yeah, he broke up with me."
"And... got your friend pregnant?" Peter asked, incredulous.
"That would be correct," I said.
"That's just messed up," Peter said.
"It's fine; I'm over it," I said. "Honestly."
"So, you're friends with them again?" Peter asked. "And it really doesn't bother you? I mean... you seem so upset. Are you really just worried about your friend?"
"I guess we are friends," I said. "I don't know. The whole thing just sort of happened. I should have seen it coming. I did, but I didn't want to think about it." I shook my head. "But I'm happier now. I'm seeing someone else."
"Oh, cool," Peter said. "That's right, I've seen you here with him. That guy, all in black?"
"That would be Eli," I laughed. "He even drives a hearse."
"He doesn't seem your type," Peter said with a jokingly worried look. "I'm kinda surprised."
"I was, too, but... it works, somehow," I said, truthfully.
"But that still doesn't explain why you're here all... freaked out-looking," Peter said, frowning.
"Yeah, well... it's not about K.C. or Eli," I said. "And I don't think you'd believe me if I told you." I intended that to be the end of it.
"Oh, come on!" Peter said with a small smile. "Just let it out. Maybe venting will help."
I guess I really did need to vent, because it came tumbling out without any help. "Well, I was there at the hospital with Jenna. She seemed all upset... post-giving birth and all. Anyways, she was saying how she was so sorry for everything that had happened. Her and K.C. and everything." I took a breath. "And I told her it was fine. That I'd already forgiven her. But she'd looked so sad that I took her hand... just to reassure her. And then... then... shekissedme."
"Uh, what?" Peter asked.
I took another breath. "She... kissed me."
Peter's eyes went wide. "On the lips?"
"Yeah..." I said.
"Wow. That's... actually pretty funny."
I frowned at him. "I didn't particularly think so."
"No, man... I meant funny in a weird way," Peter said. "Not funny like a joke."
"Oh," I said. "It was pretty strange..."
Peter looked a bit awkward. "I don't like her that way... at all," I said, quickly. "It's just this really weird thing that happened. I don't know how we got our wires got crossed. And I never thought for a second that Jenna... liked me like that."
Peter took a deep breath. "Actually, something like that happened to me."
"Really?" I asked.
He nodded, looking sort of embarrassed. "Yeah, last year. You know Riley Stavros, the football player?"
"Yeah," I said. "Sort of."
"We were practicing boxing... at my place." He cringed. "And he kissed me."
"Wow... yeah, I heard something from Alli about him being gay, but I never would have guessed before that," I said. "But how did you... deal with it?"
"I was super freaked out at first," Peter said. "But I talked to Mia about it, and she said he probably really needed a friend to understand and accept him or whatever. I didn't really want to be that person, but... that's just the way it worked out. We're good friends now."
"But... did you question... if maybe you were weird or did something wrong?" I asked, feeling embarrassed and exposed by my own question.
"Nah," he said, automatically. I stared at him. "Okay... maybe just a little. But it wasn't really about me. It was about him. So, don't like... beat yourself up over it. You didn't do anything wrong. You were just being a friend."
I nodded. Then, I had a strange realization that I was having this - a deeply personal conversation - with Peter. I laughed. "Sorry," I said. "This is just so weird."
"Don't worry about it," Peter said. "Just go hang out with your boyfriend or something, you'll feel better."
I nodded. "Thanks, Peter." He smiled, then through the door, came an extremely flustered looking Darcy. "Hey, Darcy." Peter looked up.
"Don't 'hey' me," Darcy said. "I've been trying to call you for the last 3 hours!"
"I was at the hospital with Jenna, and I forgot to turn my cell back on," I said. "Sorry."
Darcy sighed. "Well, let's go out to eat," she said. "I'm starving."
"You could just eat here..." Peter said. Darcy looked alarmed like she hadn't noticed him there. "Hey..." he said, as an after thought.
"Hey..." she said, biting her lip.
"When did you get back?" Peter asked, standing.
"About a month ago," Darcy admitted.
"You didn't call or anything," Peter said, sadly.
"I know... I just-" Darcy sighed. "I've been busy tying to get caught up with... everything, life."
"Are you going back to Degrassi?" Peter asked.
"I'm not sure yet... I might just get my high school equivalency," Darcy explained, wringing her hands together nervously.
"That's cool," Peter said.
Watching the tension between the two of them felt awkward, but I didn't want to butt in. I knew Darcy had been avoiding The Dot since I'd told her that Peter was working there. I could tell she still had feelings for him, but for some reason, she seemed reluctant to see him. I sighed and stayed quiet until both of them didn't say anything and stood, staring at each other, for a full minute. "Well, I'll have a chicken wrap and a strawberry milkshake." I said.
"Oh, right... cool," Peter said, coming out of his daze. "And uh, for you, Darce?"
"Uh, yeah... that sounds good, but sans milkshake and plus some iced tea." Darcy said, smiling.
Peter went back to work, and Darcy sat beside me. When she saw Peter was busy, she put her hand to her head. "Ugh, I feel so stupid."
"It's fine, Darcy," I assured her. "Don't worry about it."
"This is crazy," Darcy said. "Dad just moved the last of his stuff out an hour ago, and then, this happens. Today is so bizarre."
"Yeah, tell me about," I sighed.
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