After her parents left the BBQ, walking out of her life & taking their money with them, Eleanor couldn't stand to stay outside, face her friends & deal with their questions & comments, so she rushed back into Justin's room, to cry on his shoulder. Eleanor can't remember ever crying, not even as a child: her mother would never put up with that kind of nonsense. The sobs feel uncomfortable, forcing themselves up & through her chest, though she tries to hold them back. "Let it out," Justin says to her, quiet & encouraging as he holds her tightly, "Just let it all out, Princess." His soft words in her ear, his gentle tone & loving hands draw the emotions out of her & her tears fall hot & wet all over his shoulders. It happened exactly as she feared: as soon as her mother found out about Justin, she tried to force Eleanor to go back home. But she hadn't even imagined that she would choose to stay at the expense of what she came here for, her education. She cries for she doesn't know how long, and Justin holds her throughout, comforting her with his silence & his caresses.

"I didn't want to ruin your life, Eleanor," Justin says quietly in her ear, as her sobbing starts to subside. That particular phrase, 'my life is ruined,' is one she has heard often & it has always annoyed her, for it was always used to refer to some decidedly non-liferuining event like having a bad haircut. Just hearing it used in reference to herself makes her purge her mind of all self-pitying notions, as though she too were crying over nothing more than a slight embarassment, "My life is far from ruined, Justin," she says as she pulls out of his embrace far enough to look him in the eyes, "All I've lost is something most people live without their entire lives..My life isn't ruined if yours isn't, Justin."

The first thing he does is to offer to take care of her: they practically live together as it is, so she could stay with him here or they could go somewhere else. It's very tempting (and the exact opposite of what her mother predicted: he didn't even wait until she was desperate to offer to support her. And he doesn't know about the trust fund, she thinks, has no clue about the wealth she is heir to on the day she turns 25, money that her mother has no control of & cannot take away.) but Eleanor shakes her head, and tells him she wants to be independent, she wants to be able to support herself. His expression falls, hurt by her rejection.

She smiles at him, and takes his hand, "I've never been on my own, Justin, or had to take care of myself, and I won't be able to live happily if I don't do it, at least for a while. I want to be able to pay my own rent, but that doesn't mean I want to start sleeping up in my room with Kira again," she says to him, "Nothing will change between us." Though worried about her employment situation, Eleanor is starting to see the plus side to her situation. She is truly independent now, she thinks, she's on her own for real.

"Tell me you love me," he says hoarsely as his hands grasp her hair. Love, she thinks, is like the clause in small print at the bottom of her new independence: she loves Justin, she needs him in ways that go far beyond the physical, she needs for him to be happy, as well as herself, and to be happy with her. "I love you, Justin," she says, starting to enjoy saying it.

His kisses always light her up inside, make her incandesscant. She will have to grovel to Mercedes a little, flatter & cajole to get a real wage from her, or go out & find another 'Arthag' to work for, but it will be worth it, if she can be with this man & not have anyone question her about it.