A/N: What happened when Quil imprinted on Claire? Quil POV.
This oneshot is for sillybella's September Challenge.
Disclaimer: I do not own Quil, Embry, Emily, Sam, or any of Stephenie Meyers' other characters, plots, ideas, etc.
"Please, that was at least 100 miles an hour! I won!" I pulled on my shorts and grinned back at Embry as he followed me out of the trees and across the yard to Emily's place. Racing reached a whole new level when you were a – I savored the word – werewolf. Every part of this new identity was amazing: the speed, the strength… the racing at 100 miles per hour! I was no longer excluded, constantly wondering what was going on, or panicked with worry about what had happened to my friends. Now I was one of the pack, and the sense of… of family… was more powerful than I had ever expected. I was experiencing the happiest times of my life.
Which included racing, and beating, my brothers. Who can out-run cars on slow days.
Embry scowled and muttered an interesting mix of threats and profanities under his breath.
"Sorry? Didn't catch that," I smirked at him and opened the freshly painted door without knocking. He glared and trailed sullenly after me, slamming the door shut. I raised an eyebrow at the ominous cracking noise that followed.
"Careful with that door – Emily will make you replace it, like she made Paul do the last time he broke it. I laughed when he eyed door nervously, and his head snapped back around toward me.
"Rematch. Tonight." He growled. I smiled patronizingly at him and grabbed a couple of cookies.
"You're on. And I'll win again," I warned him, and stuffed a cookie in my mouth. I loved Emily's cooking. And speaking of Emily…
I looked around curiously, unconsciously sniffing the air.
"Where is she?" Embry had noticed that Emily wasn't here at almost the same time I did. It was odd for her not to be at home right now; we had basically memorized her schedule, so we were used to knowing where she was at all times. Sam had become rather paranoid lately – with good reason, there was a vicious bloodsucker on the loose. He worried when she was left alone. And I was actually beginning to get concerned – where was our alpha's fiancée?
"Do you think we should go look for her?" Embry asked anxiously from the round table where he was sitting. I frowned, trying to remember if Sam had said – or rather, thought – anything different about where Emily would be today. Before I could say anything, we heard the sounds of a car driving up the dirt road.
Embry rushed to a front-facing window, but we were both already relaxing. We could hear Emily and Sam talking outside, and smell them as well. But there were two new scents mixed in: strangers. Young, female. Everything was fine; Sam must have just had his mind on other things today. Oh, right… I knew what he had been thinking that day, I had heard it too. Because we were werewolves.
He already knew we were inside, of course. "I hope you two didn't eat everything in here – I'm hungry." Sam commented as he pushed open the door, glancing at a few barely noticeable cracks that traced their way down the back. He raised his eyebrows, looking questioningly at the two of us, and held the door open for his sole-mate.
"Embry's a sore loser," I grinned cheekily at Sam, answering his unasked question while Embry scowled again and looked away. "He has anger management problems, for some strange reason."
Sam just rolled his eyes and turned his attention to Emily, who was coming through the door carrying a young girl. Embry and I looked at her curiously. She had dark, slightly curly hair and Emily's almond-shaped eyes.
"Hey boys." Emily had noticed our interest. She smiled warmly at us, her family. "This is one of my nieces, Katie. She's four, and a little shy – DON'T try to scare her." Emily looked meaningfully at me as Katie hid her face in the curve of her neck, and then gestured to someone behind her.
Embry snorted and I smiled innocently, the picture of a well-mannered wolf-boy. "Don't worry, I'll be good," I promised. "I won't…"
Everything stopped when the other girl came through the door.
And then… something happened… the world was thrown into fast-forward, with surround-sound volume turned as high as it could go.
An explosion of foreign emotion. Warm waves of generosity, selflessness, caring, kindness, and – most surprisingly – tenderness swept through me, knocking me over and whirling me around. I didn't even know what to call some of them; I didn't know what they were! Confusion and anxiety and warmth… What was happening!? All I could figure out was that I suddenly wanted to do nothing but be around this little girl, to take care of her, to protect her. To do anything for her.
No matter what it took.
I was completely overwhelmed, I couldn't figure out what was going on. Nothing like this had ever happened to me. Everything that had been, before, was no longer. My life had suddenly tilted, shifted – the center of my world now rested somewhere behind the deep, dark brown eyes of a toddler.
She stood next to Emily and gazed solemnly up at me. I could tell right away that she was not as shy as her sister, although she had the same black hair and almond-shaped eyes as Katie. I stood frozen, my eyes wide with shock and my mind reeling as the torrential waves of emotion continued to crash over me, more powerful than a hurricane. As though from far away, I vaguely realized that Emily was talking. It shocked me to realize that I could only even comprehend what Emily was saying because… because she was talking about her.
"… And this is Claire, she's two. My sister's out of town right now, so I volunteered to look after them for a week…"
Emily's voice trailed off. I yearned for more information about the two-year-old angel that I had the privilege to stand in the same room with. I now knew her name; I wanted to know everything. Her favorite food, drink, color. What she wanted to be when she grew up. What made her laugh, so I could hear it. What made her cry, so I could prevent it. Her ambitions, hopes, dreams… if she had any yet. Did perfect beings truly need anything that I could provide? I could at least try. I wished that Emily would begin talking again; I needed to know these things! I needed, and truly wanted, to know everything about the child. It was essential, for some strange, urgent reason. But I was in no condition to request anything. My eyes were busy watching Claire, who continued to look at me, curiously now. I had forgotten how to work my mouth.
"Um… Quil?" Emily said tentatively. Though barely paying attention, I watched out of the corner of my eye as she looked with a confused countenance from me to the girl. "What are you…?"
She stiffened. This reaction surprised me enough to tear myself away from the cherubic child's face, and I watched her turn to Sam with a mixture of dawning comprehension… and horror.
"Is it…? Did he…?" Emily croaked, unbelieving, pleading with Sam to tell her that it was impossible. Claire was a baby! But from Sam's memories I knew he had once experienced something similar…
I turned to Sam with the same question in my eyes. I had to know.
He stared at me. He had watched my reaction to Claire in a stunned silence. No, I realized. An understanding silence. It was a strange déjà vu, for him. With one noticeable, disturbing difference. Was this possible? She was so young! So vulnerable, so innocent, so precious, so…
Jeez, I have to snap out of it! What was happening to me? I waited, with pleading eyes, until Sam began to speak.
"I have never heard of this happening," he began, slowly and haltingly. "Except in the legends." He closed his eyes in confirmation and shock.
I couldn't doubt him.
He knew exactly what it felt like; I could hear it in his voice, see it on his face. I had heard it in his thoughts. He had gone through the same thing when he imprinted on Emily.
And now I knew that I had imprinted on a two-year-old.
Embry looked almost as astounded as I felt. Almost. Emily was trying to pull herself together, though I could tell that she thought the whole situation was unnerving. I wondered how she would explain to her sister; she would have to say something about why I would be at their house so much.
Because I would be. Often.
Sam just stood there with a focused expression, arms crossed, adding the new information to his mental "werewolf files" that the legends had told the truth, again. We would have to stop underestimating them.
And I finally turned back to face the angel-child. She was still staring up at me, bemused. And I found it adorable. I hadn't even known that I could find something adorable! It was so weird… and yet, so right. Staring into her warm brown eyes, a feeling of completion stealing over me, I had several consecutive epiphanies.
I knew I would never be the same. I was reevaluating everything I had ever known, thought, or guessed about what being a werewolf was; there was so much more that I had never realized. I had never thought about what might happen if I imprinted, or what the consequences could be. But really, none of that mattered much. The only thing that mattered now was this little person, this angelic being, who I cared about more than anything, even my own life.
The phrase "reality check" is an understatement.
But it had never felt so sweet.
A/N: Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to give your thoughts or constructive criticism in reviews; I love any advice on how to become a better writer!