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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:


7. Retelling the Past

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2278   Review this Chapter

The ride in the car to the bonfire gave Claire time to relax and think about everything that had occurred in the last twenty-four hours. Her life was changing at a pace that was much more abrupt than the one that she was used to. One minute she was just little, lonely Claire, estranged from everyone she loved and the next she was the soul mate of a werewolf. She allowed herself a small smile at the thought of Quil, who was sitting next to her in the driver’s seat of his sedan.

Of course, bad things had happened in the last day, too—she could not forget the fight with her father, no matter how much she tried to repress it. It made her sick to think that her father only thought of her as a cash cow. On the other hand, maybe Quil was right, maybe she had misinterpreted what he had said. She would have to talk to him later. Right now, she was more concerned with what Quil thought of her—she had practically molested him while they were at his apartment, only a short while after she had told him she wasn’t ready to get overly physical with him. He must think that she was some sort of tramp.

It’s not like she even wanted to do…it…yet anyway. Scratch that—her body definitely wanted to, but her mind had another idea. She had been gone for four years; she should get to know Quil again before she let her body have what it wanted. Now that she was reunited with him, she could tell that he had changed a bit. For one thing, his hair was about an eighth of an inch shorter. If he had changed his hair, who knows what else he may have changed! His favorite color? His favorite band? The way he liked his coffee?

“Claire,” Quil’s gentle voice interrupted her. “Stop thinking so hard.”

Claire turned towards Quil to see him smiling, his eyes switching back and forth from the road to her. “What?” she asked dumbly.

“You had the look on your face that you always got when you were little whenever someone asked you a hard question. It’s like a mixture of a grimace and a pout,” he told her, chuckling. “It makes you look cute, just like it did back then. I guess some things never change.”

“And some things do,” she murmured back to him. He threw her a questioning glance before she continued. “It’s just that I know we’ve both changed in the last few years. I don’t want you to think that I’m this easy girl who just throws herself at guys. What happened before…I don’t usually move that fast. In fact, I don’t ever move that fast— "

Quil’s booming laughter interrupted her. She folded her arms and glared at him, waiting for him to finish. When he finally calmed down, he spoke. “I’m sorry for laughing,” he apologized, although it was slightly marred by a chuckle that he let loose from his lips. “The thing is, is that it’s ridiculous that you would ever think that I would think that you were easy. No matter what you say, I’ll always think that you’re sweet, innocent Claire. Even if you do something stupid like get a tattoo or join a rock band, I’ll still think that the sun shines out of your butt.”

Claire giggled. Quil was just too much sometimes. “So you’re not afraid, then?” she asked. “You’re not afraid that you don’t know me anymore?”

It took Quil a few seconds to respond because they had finally reached the bonfire and he was trying to look for somewhere to park. When they finally got a spot, he turned towards her with a huge grin on his face. “Yes, and no,” he told her. “I still feel like I know you better than I know anyone else, yet, at the same time, I feel as if I don’t know you at all. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. This way, when we’re old and grey, and sitting in our matching rocking chairs at some nursing home, we’ll still be getting to know each other. It’ll keep things interesting.” Suddenly, as he seemed to realize something, a horrified look crossed his face. “Not that….well, you know…we’ll still be together then…if you don’t want to be,” he stuttered. “Oh God, I’ve freaked you out, haven’t I?” he groaned.

This time, it was Claire who could hardly contain her laughter. “Oh, Quil,” she said, wiping tears away from her eyes, “you better still be this funny when we’re at that nursing home you were talking about.” She pressed her lips to his ear and whispered, “Honestly, Quil, if all that talk about werewolves didn’t freak me out, did you think that talking about spending the rest of our lives together was?”

He turned his head and gave her a quick kiss. “Of course not,” he lied, making the both of them smile. “Speaking of wolves, we should probably get out before they eat up all the food.” He got out his door and was opening her door only a second later. Claire was not used to him moving this fast.

“Thank you,” she said to him, twining their fingers together. They walked hand and hand towards the fire. Many of the people there had also been at her party the night before.

Embry and Jacob were the first to greet her. They detached her hand from Quil’s and caught her in a two-sided bear hug. “Cant. Breathe,” Claire choked out.

They released her, and Quil was immediately at her side. He glared fiercely at the two of them, but neither of them seemed intimidated. “We’re just happy that the two of you are finally…the two of you!” Jacob told them with a laugh.

“That’s right,” Embry agreed. “You wouldn’t believe how much Quil’s been getting on our nerves since you’ve been away, Claire. You were practically in his every thought.”

Claire blushed for a moment, until she fully processed what Embry had said. “How would you know that I was in Quil’s every thought?” she asked.

Embry looked at her strangely. “When we’re wolves, we can read each other’s minds. There are no secrets between us. Didn’t Quil tell you?”

She turned towards Quil and raised an eyebrow at him. “No, he didn’t.”

He smiled sheepishly back at her. “I thought it would freak you out,” he murmured. “Besides, I thought it would be interesting if you got to hear the stories first, before I went into all the gory details of being a werewolf.”

She contemplated that for a moment. “Fair enough,” she conceded. Then she looked towards the fire where people were roasting hot dogs. “Let’s eat. I’m starving.” Without waiting for a response, she walked off. After a moment’s pause, the three werewolves followed her.

***

Quil stared across the fire at Claire, who was chatting animatedly with Emily. The glow of the fire illuminated her beauty. Quil had always thought that she had been a pretty girl, but now she was just something else. She had grown into a gorgeous young woman, one who Quil was proud to call his own. He would never feel like he was good enough for her, but he would try to be.

His thoughts turned back to that afternoon, when he and Claire had gone just a bit too far in his apartment. If he was being completely honest with himself, he was not quite ready for that yet. He wanted to take it slow, so that he could enjoy every moment. There was no rush—they had years and years ahead of them. He was glad that that was what Claire wanted, too.

“Pervert.”

Quil jumped and turned towards the source of the accusation to find Jacob playfully smirking at him. “Am not,” Quil muttered, embarrassed that he had been caught staring.

Jacob chuckled and patted Quil on the shoulder, sitting down on the ground next to him. “Just kidding, man. I think it’s great that you two are finally together. I’ll admit that this imprinting stuff has always seemed a little weird to me, but it seems that you found the right one. Not to mention that she’s turned into a real looker, which, I’m guessing, was what you were just thinking about.”

“You know me too well, my brother,” Quil sighed. “Besides, you seem to have done pretty well without imprinting,” Quil said with a nod in Leah Clearwater’s direction. The two of them had gotten together about six years ago, much to everyone’s surprise.

Both Jacob and Leah had spent years playing the part of the spurned lover. They were bitter. They were angry. They couldn’t stand being around people who were in love. Most of all, they hated each other because only one of them could play the part and neither was willing to give in. Eventually, that hate turned into something quite different. Of course, it was Jacob who had always said that hate was a passionate emotion.

“Yeah, I did,” Jacob said, agreeing. “It’ll never be like the first time for either us, though. She’ll always love Sam more and I’ll always mourn…” Bella Swan. That was the name that Quil knew Jacob wanted to say, but was unable to. He continued on, “I’m happy. We both are and that’s what counts.” He paused and looked at the sky. The solemn expression on his face was replaced with a silly grin. “Story time! Go over and sit with your girlfriend so that I can start,” Jacob ordered.

Quil laughed at his old friend. “Alright.”

***

Claire was sitting by herself, thinking, when she felt Quil’s arms warp around her waist. “Hello, you,” she murmured, with a contented smile on her face.

“Hey,” he responded, sitting down and sliding her onto his lap. “Ready for story time?”

“Most definitely,” she said, the excitement clear in her voice. She looked around the circle to see everyone now sitting quietly around the bonfire, their eyes riveted on the face of Jacob Black.

Claire had heard him tell these stories at least a dozen times before in her life, but they meant even more now that she knew that they were true. Before Jacob, it had been his father, Billy Black, who had been the resident storyteller, but he had passed away about six years ago.

She still had trouble believing these tales of the supernatural. Werewolves were real. Vampires were real (a thought that made Claire shiver). For all she knew, Big Foot could be lurking in the bushes.

When Jacob finished telling the story of the Third Wife, the one he usually ended with, Claire began to get up, but Quil held her down. “There’s still one more to go—one that only people like you and me, people in the know, get to hear.”

Claire nodded and stared patiently at Jacob Black, waiting for him to begin. He went on to tell the story of Bella Swan and the Cullens, a “good” vampire family. He told of how Bella had fallen in love with Edward Cullen, how she had also fallen in love with a wolf, who Jacob never named, but that she loved Edward more than the wolf. He told of how the wolves and Cullens worked side by side to take on an army of newborn vampires, and then took on the Volturi, who were hell bent on killing both the Cullens and the wolves. And finally, he told of how Bella Swan married Edward Cullen and was willingly changed into a vampire and how the wolves had let it happen because they had learned that the Cullens were one of the good guys and that they would never let anything bad happen to Bella.

When Jacob finished his story, his voice was just a low whisper. “The Cullens left right after they changed Bella. Bella and Edward faked their deaths and the residents of Forks still morn them. No one has seen any of them since. Although, they are well aware that if they were to come back we would not attack them, since we were willing to turn a blind eye to them turning Bella. One day, our great grandchildren will be telling this story, and it will teach them that even those who we think to be our greatest enemies, can turn out to be our greatest allies.” Jacob bowed his head, signaling the end of his tale.

Everyone stared at each other solemnly, until Seth Clearwater broke the silence. “Well, I sure as hell don’t miss the stench.”

Laughter broke out around the circle and conversation started up again. Claire twisted in Quil’s arms to look at his face. “That last story…that was all true?” she asked.

Quil nodded. “Yes ma’am,” he said, smiling at her look of disbelief.

“Then I just have one question,” she told him.

He kissed the crown of her head and sighed. “Of course you do. What is it?”

“Whatever happened to the wolf who loved Bella? Did he die?”

Quil stared at her strangely. “No. He didn’t die. In fact, he is very much alive.” Quil paused, surveying her confused expression. “It’s Jacob,” he whispered.

“But he’s with Leah,” Claire reminded him.

“Yeah, but Jacob never imprinted with Leah. It’s good he has her, though. She makes him happy.”

Claire looked over at the couple, who were hugging. “She does,” she agreed. “You know what else?” she asked.

“What?” he responded.

She smiled at him and pecked him quickly on the lips. “You make me happy.”