The Half Life
Epilogue: Home Sweet Home
By: L B Dreamer5914
"How did she take it?"
"Badly," Claire replied, slipping into the empty seat across from her sister. "She screamed a good long while about how I was going to regret this someday, and I was going to get hurt. I don't think she realizes that any physical pain I could ever feel is nothing compared to how painful it would be to not have him."
"Mom's never loved that way," Abby shrugged, "how could she know how it feels?"
There was a bitterness in her sister's tone that made her frown, "I guess that's true. But either way, it doesn't matter. I'm here to stay."
Abby smiled. "I'm glad."
Claire studied her sister for a moment. "I have to say, I'm surprised. I didn't expect you to be so supportive of this. I thought for certain you'd tell me to be logical and kick him to the curb." She paused for a moment before adding, "Quil told me you were the one who convinced Sam to rescind the order. You and Jacob. I didn't even think you liked Jacob."
"Just because I don't see myself falling in love and dancing off into the sunset, doesn't mean I don't want that for you. Besides, you were right about deserving a chance to make your own choices. Whether he knew it or not, Sam was taking that away by not letting Quil come near you. It wasn't fair. To you or to him."
"Well... thank you."
Abby nodded. "Anytime."
Claire traced an idle pattern on the wood of the kitchen table, "So... now what?" It was a question that had been at the forefront of her mind for the past week since her sister had arrived.
Abby studied her for a moment, and Claire knew her sister well enough to see that she was considering how to respond. "What do you mean?"
Claire found herself struggling to look her sister in the eye. Their family had never been good at communicating, and it had never been more painfully obvious than in the last few weeks. She and Abby could joke and banter, but the minute anything remotely serious came up, they both seemed to turn emotionally stunted.
"I mean… I know you're going back to New York, but… what if you didn't? Emily would love it if you stayed." She paused, then forced herself to look up, "I would love it if you stayed. It'd be nice to spend a little more time with you."
Abby rolled one shoulder carelessly, but Claire could see her eyes soften ever so slightly. "Maybe."
Claire pulled her legs up onto the chair, hooking her chin on her knees. "I know you probably miss New York, but…"
"I'm not going back to New York," the words were clipped. "I just don't know where I'm headed at this point."
Claire looked up sharply. "You're not? Why not?"
Another shrug. "Don't have a reason to."
"What about Dad? Your friends? I thought…" Seeing her sister's face, she retreated quickly. "I just meant… I mean, I want you to stay. But I sort of thought you were only here because of my…issues." Claire tucked her hair behind her ear, "Is something going on, Abby?"
Abby stared at her for an extended moment. "No. Nothing." Just as suddenly as the mask had covered her face, she was suddenly smiling and shrugging. "Just bored."
It was so typical, Claire had to laugh. "You would somehow find a way to get bored in New York."
Abby tossed her hair over her shoulder. "What about you - no plans to run away? Not bored with the family of shapeshifters yet?"
Claire felt her smile go sappy. "Not even close."
The corner of Abby's mouth turned up. "You make me sick."
Claire rolled her eyes, "So tenderhearted."
Abby gave her the sweetest of smiles. "Always," she said, fluttering her eyelashes. "Speaking of - where's lover boy?"
Claire arched her eyebrow. "Lover boy?"
"I know who you were talking about," Claire stuck her tongue out for good measure. "He's finishing up his patrol right about-"
"He's finished with his patrol." Embry was suddenly filling up the doorway and stepping over the threshold and into the kitchen. "What's for lunch?" He pulled open the kitchen to investigate the various options Emily always had tucked away.
Quil slipped in behind him, smiling and dipping his head in greeting as he saw Abby. "Hey," he said, making his way over to Claire.
Abby's eyes seemed to cloud over for a moment, but she smiled back at him. "Hello."
Claire reached for his hand, feeling her heart swell with warmth and gratitude. "Hey stranger," she said, hearing her own voice go soft, "how'd it go?"
His eyes were brilliant as they looked down at her, and she felt her heart slam against her ribs in a familiar response to his presence. He reached up with one hand and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "Uneventful," he said, pulling her up with a tug on the hand he held, "I couldn't concentrate anyways. I just wanted to see you. I think I drove Sam crazy."
Embry grunted in agreement from somewhere inside the refrigerator.
Claire lifted up onto her tip-toes, winding her arms around Quil's neck as she brushed her lips against his. "Well was it worth it, at least?"
He pulled back just enough to search her eyes, paused, and nodded decisively. "Yes," he said, and his lips slammed into hers.
A/N: And, it's over. Unless I whip my butt into shape and finally finish Jacob's story, but I honestly only have one full chapter of that so who knows. Thanks to everyone who supported me and this story on this crazy ride. Can't believe it's literally be YEARS! THANK YOU!