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A Fresh Start

Summary:
Claire's been gone for four years. What's in store for her when she returns home? Quil/Claire


Notes:


2. Apologies

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1553   Review this Chapter

Claire heaved a relieved sigh as the last of the partygoers left her house. Now the only people left were her family and Quil. Normally, she liked parties, but this particular one had been quite awkward for her.

She was not used to mingling with “normal” people. After having spent the past four years among the brightest teens in the world, she was used to small talk that consisted of politics and classic literature, not the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy or the NFL draft, as the members of her extended family seemed to like to talk about. When Jacob and Embry had asked her how the television shows were overseas, they were appalled to hear that she did not watch television. And when she had told them that she preferred reading, she could have sworn that she heard Jacob mutter, “Strange girl,” under his breath. Claire had many uncomfortable encounters like this throughout the night.

Throughout the party, Quil had avoided her, but she could feel his eyes on her. While he had been ignoring her, she had been working up the courage for their “talk.” She had decided to tell him the truth about why she had stopped writing him. She would tell him that she had a crush on him, that she knew it was wrong because of the age difference, and that he had nothing to worry about because she was trying to get over it. Above all, she would tell him how much she missed him and how sorry she was. After giving herself a little pep talk, she had fully convinced herself that if she just told Quil the truth, then he would have to forgive her.

Claire, her family, and Quil were all currently sitting in her living room. Her mother was asking Quil about how his job was going; he was a police officer in Forks. Quil responded politely to her mother’s questioning, but she could tell that he was impatient by the way that his leg kept jiggling. She decided that it was time to save him. “I’m going to bed. Jet lag has me completely exhausted,” she told her family, pretending to stifle a yawn.

Her father smiled fondly at her. “Of course, sweetheart. A head as smart as yours’ always needs a good night’s sleep.”

Claire went around and hugged her family goodnight. She wanted to laugh at the look of disappointment on Quil’s face. He must have thought that she was trying to ditch him. When she hugged him, she whispered in his ear, “Meet me at the beach in twenty minutes.” He smiled brightly at her.

When she got to her room, she quickly changed clothes. It was cold outside and she would surely freeze if she wore her dress down to the beach. She put on an Oxford University sweatshirt and a pair of black yoga pants. Not exactly her sexiest outfit, but at least it was warm.

A few minutes later, she slipped silently out her window. If there was anything that living at boarding school had taught her, it was how to sneak out. She walked quietly to the beach behind her house and plopped down on the sand.

She had been sitting there for maybe a minutes, when she turned and noticed that Quil was sitting right next to her. She gasped and put her hand to her chest. “Where did you come from?” she asked, a little too breathily for her liking.

Quil just grinned at her and took her hand. It made Claire feel like a little girl again. Ever since she could remember, Quil would always clasp her hand with his big warm hand when they were talking. She was glad to see that the years had not changed that habit. He looked down at their hands, and she could tell he was thinking the same thing. “Four years,” he mused aloud. “That’s a long time.” He looked at her with appraising eyes. “You’ve changed, but in a good way. I can tell,” he told her, with a smile on his face. Abruptly, the smile slid off his face and was replaced with a frown. “And I missed it. I’m so sorry, Claire Bear. I wanted to visit you so badly, but I just didn’t have the money. I know that you’re furious with me for not seeing you. Hell, if I were you I probably would’ve stopped writing me, too.”

Claire interrupted him before he could go any further on his ridiculous tangent. “You think that I stopped writing because I was mad at you?” she asked, shocked.

He looked equally as befuddled. “Weren’t you?”

She chuckled darkly. “Quil, I couldn’t be mad at you even if I tried.” She took a deep breath in and readied herself for what she was about to admit to him. “I stopped writing you because I missed you too much. Every time I opened one of you letters, and saw that messy scrawl of yours, it nearly tore my heart in two, because it made me wish that you were right there beside me, holding my hand like you are now, and telling me all those stories that you wrote about. After a while, it just got to be too much for me. I’m the one who should be sorry, Quil, not you. I acted like an immature—"

Before she could continue with her rant, Quil had released her hand, and hugged her tightly to his chest. It was now that she noticed that his shirt seemed to have gone missing. Although she found it a bit odd, she was quite glad to have his warm chest to protect her from the night’s brutal wind. She unpinned her arms from between their chests, so that she could hug him back. This hug was a million times tighter than the one he had given her earlier that day. He may have been the one who had nicknamed her “Claire Bear” so long ago, but it was he who gave the best bear hugs. Finally, when he released her, she asked, “What was that for?”

Quil shrugged and smiled sheepishly. “Because I missed you, too,” he told her simply.

“Oh,” she mumbled, her eyes trained on the ground. She knew that she still had to tell him the rest of the truth, something that would definitely not make him want to hug her. “There’s something else I have to tell you. There was another reason that I stopped writing you. You see, well…err…this is so embarrassing,” she groaned. “The thing is, before I left, I kind of had a crush on you. Then, while I was away, it grew and grew, until you were all that I could think about. When I stopped writing you, I had hoped that maybe it would go away, but it didn’t. I still like you, Quil, but I’m trying my best not to. I know that it’s wrong, that you’re too old for me…that you don’t feel the same way. Don’t worry, though, I’m going to get over it, one of these days,” she told him, with a weak smile.

Quil started at her with a strange expression on his face. “I really hope you don’t,” he whispered.

She frowned at him in confusion. “Don’t what?”

“Get over it,” he replied, and suddenly his warm lips were on hers.

To say that Claire was shocked was an understatement. Never in her wildest dreams had she thought that this would be Quil’s reaction to her crush on him. After the initial surprise wore off, Claire realized that, she should probably kiss him back. So she did, and it was amazing. He cradled her face gently in his hands, while her fingers clutched his short hair.

They had been kissing for a few minutes, when Quil finally pulled away. He laughed at the pout that had automatically slipped onto Claire’s face. “You’re wrong about me being too old for you, you know,” he informed her casually, holding her in his arms.

She looked at him, dubious. “Come one Quil, you’ve got to be at least thirty. I’m eighteen. Most people consider that to be a pretty big age difference.”

“I’m only in my early twenties, at the most.” He smirked at her, when she raised an eyebrow at him. “Don’t look so incredulous,” he scolded her. “Look at me,” he said, gesturing to his face and body. “Do I look like I’m thirty to you?”

“You don’t,” she answered him, “but don’t think for a minute that I believe that you’re young enough to be a college student. That’s just impossible.”

He released her from his arms, but kept hold of her hand. “Ah Claire,” he sighed. “I’ve missed your skepticism.” The look of nostalgia on his faced turned into one of seriousness. “You’ve been so honest with me tonight, that I think it’s high time I be honest with you. There’s a lot that you don’t know about me. Things that I couldn’t tell you before…but now I can. Now that you’re all grown up. What I’m about to say might freak you out, but I need you to bear with me, okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed cautiously.

He smiled nervously at her and drew in a ragged breath. “I’m a werewolf.”