The Half Life
Prologue: Resolutions Made
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, Claire, Quil, or, well, pretty much anything (unfortunately).
Up until that moment, he didn't think he had ever known the true meaning of the word. Forcing himself back into a rational, logical mindset was certainly no easy task – especially not with Claire Anderson sitting contentedly on his lap, playing with his hands and giggling.
"Quil." She stated, jabbing him with one tiny finger in the chest. He caught her hand and looked down at her, so tiny, so fragile and so trusting. Not for the first time he cursed himself for imprinting on a two year old, and then realized he couldn't imagine not having imprinting on her.
Gravity, Jacob had called it.
Life itself, Quil had realized.
"It won't work." Embry's voice ran out from above him. His friend sounded tired, drained, an effect of having been in Quil's mind and thoughts for hours at a time. Quil's struggle wasn't only affecting him; it was slowly eating away at the rest of the pack, a fact that only made it more difficult.
"It has to work." Quil responded. "It's the only way. The only solution. She deserves a normal life."
A life that doesn't involve a werewolf soul mate. He added silently.
"You don't think she deserves to know?"
"I think she deserves the choice."
Jacob finally moved from his position against the doorway, "Quil. Be realistic, you've seen the way Sam and Emily are, the way Jared and Kim are, this won't work. You won't be able to stay away from her, anymore than she—"
"She won't remember me," Quil cut in, conviction strengthening his voice. "She's only two." Tormented eyes looked up at Jacob and Embry, and Quil shook his head again. "Emily and Kim were both old enough to know what they were getting into, to make at least some of the decision on their own. They got to have a normal childhood, and a normal 'high school' experience. If I stay with Claire…if I stay with her, she won't."
"So don't tell her about the pack."
Quil rolled his eyes, "Do you think she's stupid, Embry? You don't think she'll notice when she's sixteen and I still look the same as I did when she was six? I'd have to explain things to her."
Jacob shook his head, "I don't like this."
"Neither do I." His voice came out even, even though on the inside he was falling apart. Claire wasn't giggling or playing anymore, instead, the two year old was frowning up at him as though she sensed his mood. He gently turned her around so she was facing him.
"What?" She prompted, large blue eyes peering up at him.
He drew a shuddering breath. "Claire, Jake is going to take you home now, alright?"
"See you tomorrow?"
He bit down on his bottom lip. Hard.
"No," his tone was strangled, "No, I'm sorry Claire, I've got to go on a trip."
He tapped her noise gently, "So you can be happy."
She frowned. "Happy?"
He nodded, standing up with her still in his arms. "Yes, Claire. Happy." He paused, "Do me a favor, ok?"
She nodded, her face still marred by a frown.
"Don't be sad. If you ever need me, I'll be around."
He nodded, holding up his right hand. "Promise."
In a gesture of innocence, she placed one tiny hand against his. He choked back a ball of emotion, "Bye Claire," he said, handing her over to Jacob, "I'll be seeing you."
And before anyone could say one more thing, before he allowed himself to be convinced, before his resolve broke entirely and he grabbed her back from Jake, he tore out of the room; his feet pounding against the grass became paws, and he pushed harder against the wind.
Always wishing, always hoping, that everything would be alright.