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Hold Her

Summary:
Sequel to Protect Her and Love Her. Quil and Claire have escaped from the past-- mostly. They are trying to fit in at college and find themselves and each other.


Notes:
This will be fluffy, mostly. Some angst, of course. go read the prequels first. and enjoy. i don't own quil. poor me. review. please please PLEASE review.


6. Chapter 6

Rating 5/5   Word Count 740   Review this Chapter

She did not smile in the morning. She did not notice I so much as existed. She had deep shadows under her eyes, and in the night I had heard screams.

Nightmares.

That was what it meant.

I called in sick again. I couldn’t leave Claire alone. Not like this.

Yes, I would rather save it for a day when we could be happy, but it was important. “I have the flu, Joe. I’ll be in on Tuesday. Yes, yes, I’ll go to the doctor’s. I’m on my way right now. See you then. Bye.” I hacked a fake cough. Then I hung up. I spent the entire morning sitting on the couch, watching Claire stare blankly at her homework, not writing, not turning pages, seeing nothing but terror.

It was noon when she stood, marched to the refrigerator, grabbed a yogurt, grabbed a spoon, ripped the lid back, and mechanically shoved the food in her mouth. Then she throw it away and marched back to the couch.

I couldn’t look at this. Couldn’t stand it. She was in so much pain, and I lived only to make her happy. “Claire. Claire, honey, it’s all right. I swear to you, I won’t hurt you. I won’t let anyone hurt you. I don’t have money to pay for a therapist, but I’ll find some somewhere. I’ll sell crack… which I’ll get… somewhere.”

She laughed weakly at my weak joke. But it wasn’t a real laugh.

“Will you tell me why you’re so afraid?”

She didn’t look at me, but she spoke. “I wanted you to kiss me. I did. But when you did, it felt… like all of a sudden, you weren’t you. I felt you growing and me shrinking until I was tiny and helpless and in that second you were him and it scared me.”

“I’m so sorry. Sweetheart, you know I would never hurt you. You know that. And you know I stopped.”

Her voice is a modicum stronger. “Yeah. Yeah, you did. And I guess there’s no reason for me to be doing this. But it’s…”

“No, there isn’t. Does it make you feel better?”

“No. It stops me from feeling at all. When I was living… with him, the first time he hit me, I came in my room and locked the door. So he ripped it off. I didn’t try that again… instead, when he got worse, when something happened… the first time he kissed me… I shut down. Didn’t go to my room or he’d follow.”

I trembled. I almost lost control. But I didn’t.

“So I’d stay on the couch, and just… make myself invisible, or boring, or something. I’d sit there and stare at a book, and when I had to get up I’d move like a robot. Not a person. If I was a person, he could hurt me… I learned that fast. I couldn’t be hurt if I couldn’t feel anything. So I didn’t feel… and when he made me do something… anything, really, from laundry to saying I loved him to… I would just pretend… pretend it didn’t mean anything. Break down the syllables and the movements into nonsense. So it didn’t hurt. Didn’t scare me.”

“I… should… have… been… there…” I muttered, low, deep. It was mostly to myself. My Claire should not have had to protect herself. What was I for if not to take that from her? I should have…

“That’s why. I’m sorry I scared you, Quil.”

“I’m sorry I left you all those years. Sorry, sorry, sorry, Claire. And I swear, you don’t have to protect yourself from me. You don’t have to hide. I won’t ever do anything. I swear.”

“Wait… Quil… it’s not your fault. And I’m not afraid of you. It was just the shock, and the nightmares…” she shuddered. “I don’t want us to drift apart, I want us to come together. And I want you to know, Quil. I’d like to… try it again.”

She stood, and walked, much more normally, towards me. She still seemed afraid. This was such not a good idea, but Claire wanted to kiss me, and that was all I could think about. I couldn’t remember my name, much less form a coherent argument. This time, she kissed me, not the other way around…