More Than That
Claire Young has been in Paris, France for four years. She is returning to La Push a high school graduate at the age of 16, and very different than anyone remembers. This is the story of Claire and Quil. (I disclaim all rights...NOW!)
1. Reaquaint (Stupid Hormones on LJ)
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I looked at the clock again. It was 11:45 pm, the day before my 16th birthday. And for the first time in four years, it would be spent on American ground. Not only American ground, but La Push territory. I was thrilled. I was excited. I was everything that made butterflies erupt in your stomach.
I had moved to Paris, France when I was 12, to go to a ‘gifted' school there. While at this prestigious school, I learned how to speak fluent French (duh, it WAS France!), do Calculus in my head, play Claire de Lune on the pianoforte with my eyes closed, and dance level 10 on Pointe. I'd actually been moved into starting High School when I first got to Paris, instead of Junior High.
I had graduated two weeks ago from the Paris Institute of Advanced Academia and Fine Arts. The girls (it was an all girl school) who went there called it pif. As in, "Are you staying at pif for Christmas vacation?" "Duh, I wouldn't leave pif (sweet pif) for the world!"
I had been so excited about graduating early, because I missed everyone at home so much. I'd kept in touch with mi familia via the telephone, but had talked to everyone else important to me through letters. This, unfortunately includes my best friend/big brother, Quil. That was a complicated subject.
You see, before I left, Quil was everything to me. He was my big brother, my best friend, my rock, my sun, and my ride (he could drive a CAR people. Get your minds out of the gutter). However, Quil is at least twice my age. Or, he should be, considering he's in almost every picture of me from when I was two and up. In a normal situation, this would be fine. It used to be fine. Then my hormones decided they hated me, and made me start to like him. As more than my best friend.
So, you see, at 12, it was pretty harmless. By the time I was 15, I was glad I was living in Paris, because instead of weakening the feelings I had for him, the distance made them stronger. If I wasn't careful, the minute I got off the plane I'd be jumping his bones. And what makes this situation SUPER complicated, is that I'm on a plane headed for Seattle, Washington, right now. Lord help me. Claire Young has officially left her mind.
I got off the plane with my purse and my royal blue trench coat with the double buttons. I bought the coat because it matched my eyes, and because there's just something about trench coats that rock my socks. Oh yeah, my eyes.
They are a really deep shade of blue. My hair is down to mid back, and it hangs in loose curls. It is fantastically easy to deal with, because I just have to get out of the shower and put product in it and let it air dry to get it perfect. I am 6' as of 2 months ago, and I have forbidden my body to grow anymore. I have a dancers body, with more boobs than I want. My feet are a size 11. My skin is a light caramel color, because my dad is Caucasian and my mom is Native American. What can I say? The combo makes for skin that always looks tan. Okay. So I was getting off the plane.
Just the airport was cold. I immediately put on my trench coat (squeee!) and slung the Louis Vuitton purse that I'd saved up for months to get over my shoulder. I then made my way to the awesome merry-go-round like thing that carries all the checked baggage. I found my bags and set out for the doors. My mom was supposed to get me just outside the doors just outside my gate. I found her car easily; as it was the same one she'd been driving for years and years.
Unfortunately for my hormones, my mother wasn't the one driving.
He was leaning against it, looking up at the sky when I stepped out of the airport. I swear, it was 1920's movie material, with me stepping out of the airport in my trench coat (squeee!) and toting luggage, and him just staring up at the sky, waiting. So I'm a hopeless romantic. Shoot me.
So, I walked two steps away from the door before I noticed who was actually waiting for me, and then I froze. Not the best thing to do, as it usually gets people mad at you because they want to get to their cars cause their cranky from sleep deprivation. But I was lucky, and that didn't happen to me. The guy following me out though, he wasn't too lucky. Anyway! I saw Quil and took a deep breath, so as to prepare myself for the onslaught of the fantastic smell of Quil. Just like the pine trees surrounding La Push, cinnamons, and wood, like a campfire with cinnamon. It was the best thing I'd ever smelt. I snuck around to the back of the old Honda Civic, and loaded my things as quietly as possible.
Then I slammed the door as loudly as possible, making him jump at least five feet in the air. He landed and looked around frantically, and then he saw me, leaning casually against the door and looking up at him through my eyelashes. His eyes widened and he was by my side before I saw him move.
"Claire," he breathed, looking entranced. I grinned. This was far too formal. I may be a hopeless romantic, but I'm very original. "QUIL!" I squealed, jumping into his arms and wrapping my arms around his neck and burying my head into the angle that connected his neck and shoulder.
I heard his indrawn breathe, and he hesitated for a second, but he wrapped his arms around me too, holding me close to his body. My hormones were screaming at me to kiss him, so I did. On the cheek. We don't REALLY want to freak him out.
I removed my head and grinned at him. His smile was bigger than mine.
We were in the car, driving through Port Angeles and still talking. I love this about Quil: we never run out of things to say. Never.
"I just don't see why you didn't come see me for four whole years!" he was exclaiming. I looked at him. "It really isn't so hard to understand Quil. My mother refused to let me buy myself a ticket, and she didn't ever get one for me, or come see me or anything. Parental control babe!" I explained. He grinned at me and we pulled into La Push limits.
I sighed and rolled down my window, sticking my head out to look at the sky. I'd conveniently forgotten that this car had a sun roof. For some reason, Quil thought me sticking my head out of the car like a dog was the funniest thing he'd ever seen. He was cracking up laughing the whole drive from limits to my house. We did get there though, and when the engine stopped, it was quiet. I looked at Quil and he looked at me.
I closed my eyes and opened them again, still looking straight into his eyes. "I'm scared." I whispered. He looked at me enquiringly. I shook my head and looked out the windshield. "Quil, you probably haven't noticed, but I went through some changes in the past four years." He snorted. "What do you mean I haven't noticed? I've sure as hell noticed!" I grinned, still not looking at him. That was just what I wanted to hear, but I wasn't going to let him know it.
"I'm afraid of what everyone else will think. I'm afraid of how my mom is going to look at me, how Jacob, Embry, Jared, Paul, Leah, and Seth will look at me, how Aunt Emily and Uncle Sam will look at me." I looked him in the eye again. And my voice level went to a whisper again. "You were the easiest to not be scared about, cause it always seems like you'll love me no matter what. But everyone else. Well, everyone else has got me a little jumpy."
Quil's eyes did that weird thing where they go through this really fast switching of emotions. I can't ever even catch one of them. But he smiled, so I guess it should be good. "Don't worry about them." He whispered, copying me. "You're a High School graduate, a damn beautiful one if I do say so, and everyone missed you, so they won't be mean." I blushed when he called me beautiful. Because I'm not.
Going into my house for the first time after four years is the scariest thing I've ever done. I don't recommend that experience. First, I turned on a light, because they were all off. Then, about 15 people jump out from various hiding places, and scream SURPRISE!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLAIRE!!!. Then it got really quiet, and everyone stared at me like I'd grown three heads. They all looked like fish.
I smiled at them tentatively and said a meek thank you. That seemed to break everyone out of their reverie, and it got really loud. Suddenly, my mom was hugging me so tight, crying about her little girl going through puberty without her. I swear she almost gave my dad a heart attack. I grinned and patted her on the back.
Aunt Emily did pretty much the same thing, crying all over me, yadda yadda yadda. Uncle Sam just kinda looked at me, blinked really hard, and then pulled me into his arms and held on for a long time. I think he missed me. The rest of the gang just gave me tons of hugs and vulgar comments. Well, honestly, what could I expect? 20 (I think) year old guys. Of course they're going to be perverted. Anyway.
The party was a blast. I had so much fun. I swear it was the best sweet sixteen anyone has ever had. Everyone got me the perfect thing. My parents got me clothes (Washington is slightly colder than Paris, although my trench coat (squeeee!) is perfect), Aunt Em and Uncle Sam got me the entire works of Debussy on sheet music, the gang (as I so affectionately call them) got me an assortment of books, and Quil just looked slightly amused and told me I'd get my present after everyone left.
Well, leave they did. But not until 10 pm. Oh well. It's not like I really care that I'll have been up for 24 hours straight in an hour and forty-five minutes.
So, when everyone was gone, Quil and I went out for a walk along the beach. He pulled a box out of his pocket and handed it to me without actually looking at me. I glanced at him curiously, and opened the box.
Inside was the most amazing charm bracelet I'd ever seen. I sat down on the rock we just so happened to be passing and took it completely out of the box. It was perfect. On it were charms from every hugely important thing that had happened in my life. All but two had been done with Quil.
I looked at him wordlessly and carefully put the box down and slid off the rock. I went over to him, and put my arms around his waist, letting my head rest on his chest. I closed my eyes and savored the moment as he wrapped his arms around me too. It was the perfect end to the perfect birthday.
Only it wasn't the end.
Quil pulled away and looked at me. He sighed.
"Claire, we need to talk." He said.