Book Two Epilogue:
Jared- One More Couldn't Hurt
"Claire's in love with him," Kim whispered softly, rolling over and pressing her body half on top of me. It was the early hours of the morning, on the day of Matty's wedding. Matty had gotten a job at the zoo in San Diego as a specialist in the marine mammal exhibit straight out of school, and that's where he met his long time boyfriend, Niccoli, a Russian who specialized in primates.
"What are you talking about babe?" I asked pulling her in close, I loved the way the weight of her body felt on top of mine, that hadn't changed over time; nothing had, I still loved her as much today as the day I imprinted on her 16 years ago.
"Claire, she's in love with Quil and he's being a douche about it," Kim sighed, wrapping her hands around my neck pulling herself to my face for a kiss.
I chuckled, laughing so hard it was difficult for her to kiss me. Over the years Kim had become like the pack's Dr. Phil, butting into every situation, even when the people involved didn't exactly want her to.
"A douche? She's 16, babe, he can go to jail for even thinking about her too hard," I reasoned but she wasn't hearing it.
"She's his imprint no one can fault him for that, they're meant to be."
"Her father can fault him," I said dryly. Claire's mother, Joanna, Emily's older but much less mature sister and her husband, George had divorced because of Quil. This fact and his imprint were two huge things Quil and her parents had neglected to tell the girl, who was growing into a young lady right in front of our eyes, much to Quil's distress.
She still lived on the Makah rez and the two were at the best friend stage of their relationship. He wanted her to stay young and I could see why that would be easier. Every now and then though, while on patrol with him, I would see things—they were subtle, but they were there. The way her hair seemed to shine unnaturally in his memory, or the way her scent seemed to stick with him everywhere.
"He needs to at least tell the girl about the imprint. She can decide whether or not she wants it to go down that route, he can't decide for her," Kim puffed.
"You can't tell her," I warned, I could tell by the twinkle in her eye that she had already made up her mind to tell her.
We had been ordered to keep Quil's secret, though none of us would have dared to tell her before, it was not our business to tell. The wolf-girls had other ideas though, for the last month it was all they talked about and if Quil didn't tell her soon someone else would.
"I don't think—"
"Mommy!" Amber screamed running into the room on her chunky little legs and climbing up our bed till she was lying on top of us.
"Yes, Amber?" We answered in unison.
"When are we leaving?" She asked quickly using my chest as a springboard to push herself up.
"Not for a few hours," Kim said sweetly looking over her head in a way that clearly read 'well there goes our morning sex', I chuckled.
"How long is the drive?"
"Only a few hours, your brothers promised to bring books too, so it won't seem long, promise," I said kissing Kim over Amber's head.
"Okay…I'm hungry," Amber informed us, rubbing her round little baby-fat belly for emphasis.
"What do you want to eat?" I asked, tickling the exposed skin between her purple pajama bottoms and her pink shirt.
"I'll get it, you can lie here for a little while longer," Kim said rolling out of bed. I had patrolled the night before, what I was hoping to be one of my last patrols. It was time for me to retire.
"I want Nutella French toast!" Amber screamed hopping on the now vacant half of the bed.
"We're out of Nutella," Kim said quickly wrapping herself in her pink robe, then eyeing Amber sternly. "How about peanut butter?" Kim asked.
"Okay, peanut butter's fine," she sighed, following Kim out the room and like a string, when Kim was a bit too far out of reach, I was pulled to her.
I dragged myself out of bed, help her dip french toast, and hurried the boys into their wedding wear before searching for mine.
"Amber, put your clothes back on, NOW!" Kim cried, brushing on the last touches of her makeup. She didn't wear makeup often but when she did her dark eyelashes stole the show, making everyone around her focus on the big dark pools of her doe eyes. Amber, our six year old hellion, was now running through the house almost stark naked save her pink frilly underwear.
"We're gunna have trouble with that one if she keeps this nudist thing up past puberty," I chuckled coming in for the save, swinging my arm down and whipping Amber off the floor in mid-room rotation. She kicked and screamed wildly until I placed a soft kiss on her cheek and she relaxed.
"We have a wedding to go to sweetie," I whispered after she settled down.
Matty's wedding day had been thrown together quickly, they had legalized gay marriage across the country but no one was sure how long that would last before lobbyist and radicals throughout the nation eradicated it yet again.
Amber climbed up my body, placing her warm little self against my chest and placing her head on my shoulder, she had worn herself out. That was a miracle. Amber was nothing like my boys, my boys were calm, careful, considerate and mature, even during the first stages of puberty which they were both now experiencing.
Ethan and Taylor were like best friends, it made our lives so much easier and I didn't know two boys better matched. We had to move Taylor out of the big room and give him some space when Ethan hit the second stage of puberty—the stage where he needed time to be alone his thoughts of his best friend Trisha. Rachel and Paul's girl sprouted boobs and he noticed, but the two brothers were still very close for teenage siblings.
"I don't want to wear that dress! I hate yellow!" Amber stayed strong, balling her little fist as I pointed to her discarded dress in the corridor.
"It's a beautiful dress, Pumpkin Seed," I said picking the delicate material up daintily and presenting it to her as if I were her hand maid, she was not taking the bait.
"No it isn't! It's hideous," she said firmly. The girl, no matter how much trouble she got in at school, was smart. She was a bit too sassy for The Man to handle, but smart.
"Hideous, you say?" I said with a mock British accent. We had watched a movie about a rich British chick and her servant girl, I don't remember the name but she loved it.
"Daddy," she giggled, lifting her arms obediently for me to slide the dress back on.
"This dress is vintage it once belonged to the Princess Trisha of Lahote," I said seriously turning her around so I could button up the long line of tiny satin buttons.
"Is Trisha coming?" Amber asked brightly, Ethan was not the only Cameron who loved Trisha. Amber, who longed for a sister, clung to the girl whenever she came around. Trisha didn't seem to mind so much, being an only child, as long as it didn't interrupt her Ethan time.
"Nope, 'fraid not, milady," I said not breaking character as I gathered her long hair in a thick yellow ribbon.
"Daddy?" She said meekly turning to me as Ethan and Taylor came down the stairs together, dressed in matching suits much too big for them.
"I'm serious now Dad, no accent," she said softly pounding her fist against my shoulder.
"Sorry, what's wrong? You want me to do your hair a different way," I offered, reaching for the ribbon.
"No, it's about the wolf thing," she started, biting her bottom lip. We had told her about the pack the week before; she didn't believe us, so even more terrifying, we had to show her. She hadn't mentioned it since.
"If you don't get older and Mommy does, does that mean you will never die?"
You know people are always telling me children say the funniest things, but sometimes like lightning they seem to reach conclusions and observations everyone around them are trying to avoid, and they do it with devastating accuracy.
"No, because I'm going to stop phasing soon," I said looking up to see the boys having a silent conversation. They did that, nodding, moving their hands and lifting their eyebrows for upwards to an hour without even a word being muttered between them. It bugged the hell out of Kim who, although she was amazingly insightful, seemed to be out of the loop when it came to Ethan and Taylor.
Kim was thirty-three now soon to be thirty-four, actually so was I. We weren't old, but having spent the last 14 years after the Great Renesmee War as part of the pack, I hadn't aged making me perennially 21 or so. Kim didn't say anything about it but I knew it was starting to bother her. She didn't have to say anything for me to know it annoyed the hell out of her when people gushed at how young I still looked and how well I had taken care of myself.
"Dad, you're going to stop phasing?" Ethan asked unsure. Taylor elbowed him and he looked back before shrugging and picking up Amber. Ethan was thirteen now, just turned and growing so fast it was scary.
"Hey Princess, you look so nice in that dress," he said giving her a soft kiss on the cheek.
"Do I look better than Trisha?" She asked. At times, no matter how much Amber loved her, she was jealous of Trisha who took up a huge portion of Ethan's time, though he spoiled Amber rotten just like the rest of us.
"You are the most beautiful little girl in the world," Ethan sidestepped carrying Amber into the living room where Kim was waiting. She was dressed and beautiful, smiling warmly at us.
"Can I take a picture?' Kim asked, but before anyone could answer, she snapped a few, Amber clutching my hand while Ethan held her, Taylor standing a bit off to the side, his head inclined to Ethan. Kim sighed and rubbed her belly longingly before shooting me a meaningful glance.
I love my family, more than life, and time and space, and oxygen even; they are the best present the world could have offered me but another child was out of the question.
Kim wanted another one, bad. As it was we had barely enough room, our three bedroom home had been turned into four by the magic of drywall and sheer will of heart. If we had another, and God knows I would have ten if we could, they would be sleeping on the couch.
We made more money now, a lot more money. After Kim graduated she secured a position and the director of First Nation Teen Action center of the Pacific Northwest. I was still in construction, though now I worked more in logistics and surveying, looking over possible work sites and seeing if they were feasible. Money wasn't raining on us but it was stable. My parents, actually just my stubborn mother, still sent monthly checks but now we put them away for the kids.
"I've figured it out," Kim whispered as we slid in the car.
"What?" I played dumb; she had come up with at least seven different silly schemes to expand our house to make room for a baby.
"The pantry. It's attached to the cupboard under the stairs," she squealed.
"So you want our boys to live under the stairs?" I scoffed.
"Very Harry Potter, Mom, but if you're that desperate I'll live in the pantry," Taylor volunteered.
"Don't be silly it won't be a pantry then, your father can tear down the wall that connects the pantry and the cupboard under the stairs, paint the wall, add some more lights, and it's a room. Then we can install new cabinets in the kitchen and move the storage stuff into the attic, it's a win-win!" Kim beamed.
"Baby sister!" Amber sang hopping in the back seat.
"Or brother Am-bo, it might be a boy," Taylor said with a grin, he was looking forward to another sibling as much as Amber, though he was a little more subtle about it.
"We'll talk about this later… please," I pleaded grabbing Kim's hand as I picked up speed making my way up to Seattle where the small ceremony was taking place.
"How's Jordan going to get there?" Ethan asked watching Kim from the rearview mirror.
"He's driving up with Michael and Anna," Kim said through tight lips.
"Do you think he's happy?" Taylor asked innocently.
"Why wouldn't he be happy? His best friend is getting married," Kim smiled. "We're all happy, right?" She asked the car, there was no response.
"I don't like him!" Amber sang, kicking her little feet.
"I know you don't but you're just going to have to give him a chance, okay? Besides, you've only met him once," Kim reasoned.
"I don't understand him when he talks and he smells like cabbage!" Amber cried, causing everyone but Kim to burst into side splitting laughter, I mean how could you keep a straight face when your 6-year old was telling your gay brother's fiancé was a "cabbage head."
"He does not!" Kim shouted over the commotion seriously, but I could see a smile struggling to break free. "Jared, honestly you're no help at all."
"Amber… you can't judge a book by its cover," I said gravely. "Is that the right saying for this situation?" I asked Kim, she shrugged.
"Yup, no judging, Amber, not even if the pages of the book are a little cabbagey," Taylor struggled to finish the sentence, bursting into laughter as he said cabbagey, but by this point we had all joined in.
"He's handsome," Kim insisted. He was very handsome. He was a tall Russian with extremely bright eyes but there was just something unsettling to me about a man who dedicated his life to primates.
"Mommy?" Amber cried over the laughter.
"Yes, Precious," Kim answered, her breathing labored from the fits of laughter.
"Brian Acre at school says that two men shouldn't get married," Amber said seriously.
"Well he's wrong, you don't listen to people like that. Two people who love each other should be together, it doesn't matter what other people think," Ethan said wisely as we drove into the courthouse.
There were quite a few gay and lesbian couples waiting. I had watched a news report about it showing courthouses throughout the country filled with gay couples trying to get married as soon as possible.
The ceremony was short, with only a few very close friends and family: Anna and Michael who had married a few years back, Jordan and Solace, a small huddle of Russians and my family huddled around as they took their vows.
My little Matty was a man now, a zoologist man. It was hard not to be proud when I saw him, to feel like maybe in some way I had affected his life and that somehow I had helped make this happen. After the courthouse we made our way to dinner, it was small and intimate but beautiful; a garden side veranda set up with a buffet of foods from around the world, homage to the couple's extensive travel.
Whenever Niccoli and Matty went abroad, they stopped in La Push before heading back to their home in San Diego, California, and they always brought presents, local specialties or crafts that lined the hallway to our bathroom. Ethan liked to gaze at them and imagine the travels I couldn't quite afford to give him. India and Thailand and Tibet topped the list of places he wanted to visit. He was enthralled by the history of oppressed peoples and through this, social justice became an important issue in his life.
Taylor shared his interest in Tibet for other reasons, he agreed with Ethan's humanitarian efforts, but Taylor was more interested in the Buddhism. It fit him. Though neither Kim nor I were religious, it kept our boys grounded and mature, responsible and caring and there was nothing else we could have asked for. My kids were nothing like me, they kept me questioning life at every corner and taught me things about the world I never knew, and I appreciated them for it every day.
"Toast!" Solace announced standing and raising his glass, he was the only one not wearing formal wear but it was just fitting for him. He had come a long way from Solace the Mute, he was among the most trustworthy if not entertaining men around.
"Aww…Solace, that's sweet," Matty cooed, it was no secret that besides loving or having at one time been in love with Jordan, he had a bit of a crush on Solace.
"The least I could do. Where to start," Solace said theatrically rubbing his non-existent beard. He had drunk probably more than he should. "While Matty and I shared one wonderful kiss, our love was not meant to be," Solace started and Jordan who sat to his left let out a low threatening growl I was sure only the wolves at the table could hear.
"Behave," Jordan warned.
"Yes, yes, we were not meant to be but I am so happy that you found the one. You have gotten to spread your wings and see the world with a man you love passionately. Here's to many years of happiness!" Solace finished, downing his drink before taking his seat again, Michael and Anna clapped loudly and Jordan stood abruptly.
At first I thought he was leaving, I wasn't sure, no one was sure what happened between them, but it was serious. Maybe they had dated, maybe they were in love… there were a lot of maybes but no one believed they were just friends.
"Um, I'm not good at this so I wrote it down," he mumbled, rummaging through his pockets before retrieving a small blue flip book. "Matty, in my life I have had only a handful of people I can count on. You were there for me during the loneliest of hours, there are no words to express…" he shook his head, taking a pen and scratching out a few words. He started to write again before giving up, throwing the notebook on the table and continuing, "um… I will just say I love you and I wish you the best."
A fellow zoologist saved us from awkwardness by tapped her wine glass with gusto and the couple laughing giving in to a small kiss for the crowd.
After all the plates were cleared and the desserts were presented, Matty stood. He was bigger now, tall, filled out, fair-skinned and handsome. Since he had left for college the family had to come up with interesting ways to communicate from three-way calling to video conference, he was still a huge part of our lives; but it was still hard for me to see my little Matty as a man.
"Thanks everyone for coming, it means a lot for us to have you here, Niccoli and I both have very small families…and to have your support is really…wonderful," his voice cracked when he said this and Kim reached over grabbing his hand before he continued teary eyed.
"To my friends, you mean the world to me. To Kim…my sister, my mother, you have always been my biggest supporter. My beautiful niece and nephews, I'm always so proud of you. Jared… my brother-in-law, my father, the only man I always knew would never leave me, I love you, I love you all so much, thank you for sharing this day with us," Matty finished and it was my turn to get sniffly.
"Daddy's crying," Amber announced.
"Yes, yes he is. Now eat your cake," Kim said smiling warmly at Amber before pulling me in for a kiss.
"Our first baby has gotten married," she whispered in my lips.
"Just three more to go," I chuckled.
"Four, Jared. Four more to go…please," she whined and I nodded in defeat.
"Okay, one more couldn't hurt… but not until we find a suitable living situation," I said smiling and she kissed me, this time with so much passion it was embarrassing, not to me but my boys. Emperor Ethan groaned loudly until we separated.
"'Bout time," Taylor whooped.
"Yeah, this will be great," Ethan agreed.
"Has to be a girl Mommy, has to be a girl," Amber screamed stuffing her mouth with pink frosting.
"Okay, well, we'll try."
A/N: After re-reading this time timeline is a bit off. This story should be taking place in 2017 but gay marriage was actually legalized in 2015. I guess in 2009 (when I wrote this) I was less optimistic about the outlook of American politics that I should have been lol.
In the timeline of my fanfictions this is the first that story should be read. I have written 11 in total and all of them are in the same universe. The next story in this world would be "Enough with This Gravity Moving Already" Quil and Claire's story but you could also skip to the 3rd story in the series called "The Pathetic Ramblings of a Homosexual Werewolf" if you are so inclined.