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Being Her

Summary:
A series of one-shots in Claire's perspective throughout the series For Her.


Notes:
Um, will not go in any order. they come as i get bored enough to write them. PSSSTTT if you want a new story, go review with her!


55. Showtime

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1528   Review this Chapter

Josh looks down at his watch, and then nudges me.

It’s showtime.

He looks at me, mouths ‘Ready?’

I nod slowly. He smiles and begins. “Gee, it’s that late? I hate being on call.”

I thumb through my props- some papers from a case today. “I know… wait. Maybe Ellen has polycystic ovaries!”

“That could explain the fever.”

I write on the paper Do you know if he’s here?

Bet you anything he is. Josh grins at me with a painful cheeriness and says, “Claire, will you marry me?”

This was not in the script. I flash my eyes to him in panic, and then realize why he’s asked. I hear Quil’s gasp behind us. It’s a sound of sheer pain, and it breaks my heart just a little.

“No. I can’t… it wouldn’t be fair. I couldn’t. Quil asked too, and I said no.”

Josh shakes his head. I can see the shadows under his eyes. This is really hurting him… he loves me, honestly, and he can’t bear leaving me behind, can’t bear hurting me like he probably doesn’t know this will. “Don’t you love me more?”

But this he knows the answer to. “I’m sorry.”

“Claire, I feel like I’m being used.”

“I’m sorry, but I am using you, I guess. Using you to find myself. I thought…” I hope he hears the honesty in my words. I really regret this.

“Oh, I knew. But a fellow can hope.”

I gasp as he puts an arm around me. Then he presses his lips against mine, and I freeze. It’s so abrupt. I was prepared for this, I thought. I knew it was coming. This was the plan, after all. But that doesn’t make it any less terrifying. I can’t think at all. There’s nothing more than blank panic.

And I was supposed to act afraid. He won’t know I’m not faking. Oh, no. What will I do? What if Quil doesn’t come?

I need him now, so incredibly much, that it hurts more than the fear. I need him to comfort me. To make everything better. To take the pain away like he always has.

Josh’s hands are rough and quick as they move up my shirt, pushing beneath the fabric. I feel them leave a stain. I want to scream.

His hands move underneath my bra. He isn’t touching my breasts, but every circle of his fingers bring them closer and closer. “Stop,” I whisper.

He doesn’t. Clearly, he thinks this is part of the plan. It isn’t anymore. I can’t think of that, of trying to trick Quil, of playing a role. I just need this to end. It’s too much terror.

“I said stop!”

“Don’t worry, Claire. Just relax. I promise not to hurt you. Shh…” His voice is gentle, but his eyes don’t meet mine. He can’t see the panic.

His lips are on mine again and then, suddenly, they aren’t. He whirls around and I do too, looking up at the most familiar face in the world.

“Josh. Touch Claire ever again without her express verbal permission and I will kill you. Let go of her this instant or I will kill you. You have fourteen seconds to make your permanent exit or you die, right here, right now. This is not an empty threat.”

Blinding relief floods through me. He’s here. I’m safe. Of course I am… Quil’s with me. And despite everything, he’s still mine. No matter how little I deserve it or how much I’ve hurt him, he loves me still.

“Claire…” Josh says. It’s an honest question. What do you want?

“I said to stop. You didn’t. Don’t… don’t talk to me ever again.” I’m really sorry. I just can’t live without him.

“All right.” If this is what you need.

Josh stands and hurries from the room with one last hurried glance at me and then a fearful one to Quil. He slams the door.

Quil collapses on the couch beside me, and looks at me. The imprinting look, full of that overwhelming devotion that scares me so much sometimes… makes me afraid for Quil, for what he has lost when he became mine.

“Did I do right, Claire?” he asks, worried. I smile.

“Yes. Oh, Quil. Thank you, thank you. I was so scared and I was trying to be a grown-up and tell him instead of just shutting down, he’s not you, I knew he wouldn’t understand, but he wouldn’t… he… you saved me again.” It’s the truth.

“He wouldn’t have hurt you,” he attempts.

“He did. No, he would’ve stopped, but where? It was too much. I… thank you.” I look up at Quil. He’s smiling softly, sadly, and his eyes are soft. I’m sure mine are shining right now, with gratitude and love I just can’t hide.

“I guess I owe you an explanation?” I start. I have to come up with something.

“You don’t owe me anything. The love you have is yours, and you may give it to who you choose. I would be honored if that person were me.”

Romantic wuss. I roll my eyes. “Don’t be silly. I owe you so much… it was so stupid, Quil! All my reasons, and they all seem so silly now!”

“What reasons?” Curiosity, nothing more than that, and such gentleness in his voice. It breaks my heart again.

“I thought… it’s ridiculous.”

“I won’t laugh.”

I sigh and come up with a string of quickly delivered lies. “All right. I was so tired at work, and so stressed, and I thought maybe you didn’t want me, could live just fine without me… and I knew that wasn’t true. And I was so scared. I know we weren’t rushing… we’ve been together ten years and living together for twenty and you’ve never mentioned marriage, never tried to do more than kiss me… but I was scared to death you wouldn’t want me. That it would change something and you wouldn’t be there to save me next time… I guess now I know better. Whatever horrible things I do, you’ll always be here for me…”

The knowledge dawns on me as I speak it. What a beautiful idea that is. The old fear is gone, that I would somehow someday not be enough for him. No matter how insufficient I am, he can’t leave me. He can’t be without me. He can’t not save me. I’m safe as long as Quil is mine, and Quil will always be mine. I’m safe forever.

“I don’t think death could keep me away.”

“You don’t know how much that means, to know you love me even after I hurt you. And then I felt so bad for Josh, and liked him, and was so tired and wanted to try, just try, being normal. I can’t be normal with you… you hold my past. I can’t leave you, though. I love you too much… I was dying, that whole time… I’m so sor…”

“No sorry.” He cuts me off, and a smile plays on his full lips.

I smile gently. “I’ve missed that, when he’d apologize for some trivial thing or another. I missed you, Quil.” It’s such a truth.

“I missed you.”

He doesn’t say it painfully, but it hurts me nonetheless, knowing what I did to him. ““I know. I really hurt you.”

Quil doesn’t try to lie to me, simply says, “Yes,” and bows his head.

“And you forgive me?” I prod. I try to hide the desperate hope.

“I never blamed you.”

Happiness floods me, and then it occurs to me. I can make him this happy, right now. If I just have the strength. I breathe in, and then I say it. “Yes.”

“What?”

I laugh at his expense. I know he won’t mind. Then it dawns on him.

“You’ll marry me?” I knew it would make him happy. It’s why I agreed. But I didn’t expect the incredible excitement in his voice. There is just so much of it that it overwhelms me. My heart stutters a little, in fact. It feels wonderful, that I’ve made it up a little to him. Not all of it, but I have the rest of my life to prove to him I’ll never hurt him like this again.

“Yes. There’s no point in waiting forever- it’s inevitable. We love each other so much. This was meant to happen.” I smile. That much is the truth.

Quil leaves for exactly one second, without a word. I wonder where he’s going until he returns quickly, the box in his grasp. He opens it with his big, agile hands, and I pull the ring out with a sharp tug and slide it on my finger.

It shines.

How brightly it shines.