A/N: Hello. It's me. Madness and nostalgia and the fact that I kept remembering all these plans I had for the second half of this story are why this story is suddenly continuing. I'm slightly weirded out that I am much closer to Quil's age now than I am to Claire's, but nonetheless! Onward!
July 17 – Quil
Prompt: 101. War
The house was dark when I returned. The time on the microwave when I entered the kitchen through the back door showed that it was a little after two in the morning. I stood still, listening. Claire was home, and that was… good. Right? It meant that she wanted to be there, even if she was probably furious with me.
A war had been raging within me for days. On the one hand, the thought of hurting Claire in anyway felt like it would destroy me. On the other… things were just so confusing. Jake was right. I had brought this kind of doubt on myself. I wasn't even sure anymore what it was that I was doubting.
I turned to see Claire standing in the doorway, looking unsure. "Claire," I whispered. "Forgive me."
She stepped forward, hesitantly. I took a step to meet her, but she shook her head, so I stopped. I could feel my heart beating wildly in my chest, wondering what she was going to say, half-expecting her to tell me leave again. Or that she was packing up her things and going to Sam and Emily's.
"Where did you go?" she asked finally. But, before I could answer, she continued, "You can't just… you can't just do that. You can't just leave and not say anything for days." Claire kept moving forward. I stayed still as a statue, looking down at her, trying to read her expression. It wasn't quite angry, like I'd expected. Hurt, yes. Confused, too.
"I know," I said, closing my eyes briefly, and sucking in a deep breath. "I'm sorry, I—"
"I don't know what's going on with you, and the pack, and Jacob, but if it's going to affect… us… we should talk about it." Claire pressed her lips into a firm line for a moment, then said, "We didn't tell you about… you know, the motorcycle lessons, because we knew you'd be mad. And it was a thing I really wanted to do."
She was peering at me now, wanting me to understand, I thought. I did. I did understand. I didn't like it, but I understood. So I nodded. "I know. I get it. I—I'm sorry," I finished weakly, at a loss now.
Claire stood there a beat without saying anything, then she nodded. "Okay." She turned as if to go, then stopped. "Can I still see Jacob?"
I wanted to say no. The insecure part of me that was afraid of losing her wanted to say no, to keep her there, hidden from the world. The part of me that knew I was probably stifling her with my overprotective instincts, and was terrified that my stubborn, independent Claire would decide one day that it was too much. Except… except that really, I knew I'd have let her do anything she wanted if it made her happy. So instead, I just said, "Of course. Just… be careful, okay?"
Claire rewarded me with the smallest of smiles, like a peace offering. "Sure."
July 18 – Claire
Prompt: 138. White
The thing about fighting with Quil—aside from the fact that it mostly involved me being angry and him apologizing and then me feeling bad about being angry at him—was that I never quite felt right afterwards.
Right that second, I could hear him banging around in the kitchen. I didn't know what he was doing. When I went out there to see, he'd said something about needing more pans, and I decided I didn't want to know.
So now I was just sitting in my room, staring at the walls for nothing better to do. I'd read all the books on my shelf. I didn't want to listen to music. The television was out in the living room with a too clear view of whatever disaster was being wrought in the kitchen.
Eventually, I stared at the wall long enough that it started to annoy me. It was just so white. Why had I never noticed?
I stared at the wall for a minute longer, then stood and threw open my bedroom door. I marched past Quil, swiping his car keys off the table by the front door, calling back to him, "I'm borrowing the truck!"
July 19 – Quil
Prompt: 097. Smell
I stood in Claire's doorway, watching her spread out a tarp on the ground. "Do you want help?"
Claire straightened up, staring down at her feet like she was inspecting her handy work. "No, I think I'm okay. It can't be that hard, right? The room's not that big."
I nodded. "Right." Though it looked a lot bigger now than it had that morning, when we'd moved some of the furniture so she could reach everything. "You know you can't stay in here tonight, right? The fumes aren't good for you." I tried to sound practical, not like I worrying about her.
"I know," Claire assured me. She was bending down again now, this time to jimmy off the lid on one of the paint cans. "I'll sleep on the couch."
I stood there for a moment longer, feeling useless, before finally saying, "If you decide you want help with anything, let me know." I waited for her to respond, but Claire wasn't paying attention anymore. I wasn't sure she heard me. So I quietly slipped out of the room to leave her to it.
July 20 – Claire
Prompt: 236. Velvet
Late night television was the most boring thing on the planet. I don't mean late night talk shows, but the stuff that comes on in the wee hours of the morning. Those infomercials that try to sell you things like fancy steak knives.
Somehow I'd found one that was selling velvet portraits. I didn't even know those were still a thing. Then again, I didn't usually watch TV this late. But my room stank of paint fumes, and Quil was on patrol, and I couldn't sleep. I was pretending to myself that I wasn't tired, but really, if I was honest, I was waiting for him. I don't think I consciously worried that he wasn't coming back. It wasn't like that. But it was the first late night patrol he'd done since… well, I just wanted to see him when he came in.
It was almost dawn when I heard the back door open. I craned my neck to try to see into the kitchen, but it was still mostly dark except for the light from the TV. "Quil?"
Quil emerged from the kitchen, looking tired and disheveled, like he always did when he was gone this late. "Claire," he greeted, clearly stifling a yawn. "What are you doing still up?" He paused. I couldn't see his face clearly, but I thought he was probably trying to peer closely at my face. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." I hesitated, then asked, "Do you want to join me?" He looked dead on his feet, but there was room on the couch. And I missed him.
Instead of saying anything, Quil came to sit beside me. I angled my body so that I could lean against his chest. His arm came down to encircle my shoulder, pulling me closer and pressing his face against the top of my head. "It's late," he mumbled into my hair.
"You can go to bed if you want," I said, starting to move away from him so he could get up.
Quil's arm tightened around me. "Maybe in a bit," he relented.
July 21 – Claire
Prompt: 012. Groceries
The trouble with living with a werewolf was that whatever food we had always seemed to disappear immediately.
I stood in front of the open fridge, contemplating the nutrional value of mustard and wondering if it went with the graham crackers I knew were still in the pantry—probably not—knowing that this meant it was time to bite the bullet and go to the grocery store. "Didn't we just buy groceries?" I asked Quil.
He just shrugged. "Maybe we buy more this time," he offered. Like that would help.
"Maybe we'll go bankrupt trying to keep you fed," I countered, trying to elbow him, but he was too quick, sidestepping me easily. I shook my head. "I'll make up the list."
July 22 – Claire
Prompt: 132. Near
How close to a fan was it safe to stand? If I pressed my face against the metal cage around the fan blades, was that too close?
"Claire," Quil said from somewhere behind me. He sounded amused. "Nothing's going to cool off if you're blocking the fan."
"I don't care," I told him. God, it was hot. Why was it so hot? I took back everything I'd ever said about winter. I missed the cold. I needed the cold. I was going to melt to death. "Get the air conditioner fixed."
July 23 – Claire
Prompt: 215. Armor
"I'm not wearing those."
Jake was holding a pile of pads—shoulder pads, knee pads, elbow pads. I was surprised he hadn't gotten a face mask, too. "Hey, it's as much for my safety as it is for yours. If you crash again, I'm a dead man."
Despite what Quil had said, I'd put off coming back to the Blacks' again until Thursday rolled around again. It seemed safer—for my relationship, for Jacob's continued existence. I felt like I was toeing some invisible line, but I wasn't sure what exactly was on the other side of it. I felt the inexplicable need to rebel, I think. Wasn't that what teenagers were supposed to do? I felt too old and too young at the same time, like the whole of my life had already been planned out. Go to college, get a degree—in I-had-no-idea-what-yet—graduate. Get married, maybe. Probably.
I wanted all of those things. I did. But I felt like I was skipping steps. I didn't want different, I just wanted more.
The thing I probably should have explained to Quil, but couldn't find the words that wouldn't hurt him anyway, was that Jacob was easy to rebel with. Because Jake would let me do stupid things, and wouldn't let me get hurt.
Finally, sighing, I swiped a pair of pads from Jacob's hands, saying, "Fine. Let's see if I can even balance with this stuff on."
July 24 – Quil
Prompt: 054. Expensive
After seeing the repair guy to the door, I went to find Claire. She was camped out on the chair in the living room, with the fan blowing directly at her. She looked up at me as I approached, her face red and glistening, and looking utterly miserable. Poor Claire-bear. "Tell me you have good news," she pleaded.
"Sorry," I said, flopping down onto the couch. As much as I teased her, she could have the fan. The heat didn't bother me like it did her. Though the thermostat and the weatherman both told me it was unusually oppressive at the moment. Of course. The A/C wouldn't break if we weren't having a record breaking heat wave. That's how that worked. "Which limb are you least attached to, because we're going to have to start selling them off to pay for this."
Claire groaned. "Can we move? I'm thinking Antarctica sounds nice right now."
I cracked a smile. "You could always go to Sam and Emily's. I'm pretty sure their air is working fine." I didn't actually want her to go. That was probably selfish, but I couldn't help it.
But Claire was shaking her head anyway. "I'll deal." Then, groaning, she added, "I think."
July 25 – Claire
Prompt: 039. News
When I came in to the house, Quil was sitting on the couch with the television on. I made a face as I went to join him. "Ugh, no, turn it off."
Quil raised an eyebrow at me. "Why?"
I shook my head. "It's bad enough that I'm going to die of heat stroke," I said, waving a hand at the news anchors on the television. "I don't want to have to listen to them tell me."
"I don't think talking about it'll make the weather worse," Quil said with a snort, but he changed the channel anyway.
July 26 – Quil
Prompt: 351. Beach
I dropped the cooler in the sand and unfurled the blanket as Claire made a beeline for the ocean. We weren't really in a spot for lounging on the sand, but it didn't seem to matter, because Claire had declared when we got there that she wasn't leaving the water. Ever.
I stood on the beach and watched as she plunked herself down in the water, apparently content to just sit amongst the waves. I shook my head, chuckling, and bent down to unpack the cooler we'd brought with us. You know, in case she got hungry and decided she wanted something other than whatever was swimming around in there.
July 27 – Claire
Prompt: 183. Temperature
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that I was shivering. Instinctively, I grabbed at the blankets I'd flung off my bed, wrapping them around myself and burrowing into my pillow. It took me a full minute to realize what this must mean.
Eyes widening, I leaped from bed, undeterred as my feet nearly got caught in my blankets, and raced out of my room, skidding to a halt in the living room in time to see Quil shut the front door behind the repair man.
Quil turned to look at me, and I thought he might have started to say something, but I was leaping onto him with a squeal of joy that could only be born of days of being convinced I'd serve out the rest of my days as a puddle. Also, it was the first time I could have stood to touch him in days. He was too damn hot. Normally I liked that fact, but this week it was too much.
Quil caught me easily, laughing as his arms wrapped around me. "I'm glad you're happy," he said.
July 28 – Claire
Prompt: 068. Stop
Jacob considered me over the top of his steepled fingers. I stared back at him, attempting to keep my expression perfectly innocent.
"Okay," he said finally. "Let's start at the beginning." He stood up—we were sitting at Billy's kitchen table—and fetched a piece of paper and pen from a drawer before returning to sit across from me. He drew an octagon on the paper and then held it up. "This," he said, "is a stop sign."
"Yes, I've heard of those," I said, nodding.
"When you come across one," Jake continued, "you're supposed to stop. Brake. Cease movement. Not move forward."
"Oh, is that what that means." I widened my eyes at him. "I see now."
Jake set the paper down again, instead using his hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Great. Maybe next time we can put that knowledge into practice."
July 29 – Quil
Prompt: 187. Right
After the most uncomfortable few weeks that I could remember in a while, it was a relief to have things slowly return to normal.
Everything felt much more… right when things were calm between Claire and I. That made sense—when things weren't, I couldn't focus on anything else. I could breathe more easily. We settled back into an easy routine. It was good, it was right. It made everything else in my life feel a little brighter, as cliché as that sounded.
July 30 – Quil
Prompt: 269. Grief
Whenever Claire cried, it felt like a knife to my gut. It didn't matter the reason. It was supposed to be my job to keep her happy—every time a tear fell, it was obvious that I had failed somehow, whether the tears were actually my fault or not.
That didn't mean her tears weren't confusing sometimes.
"It's just so sad!" Claire sniffed. She'd gotten up to get a box of Kleenex earlier, so now she looked very dramatic, clutching a tissue while she cried.
I shifted uneasily, not sure how to proceed without seeming insensitive. "Claire," I tried again. "It's just a movie."
Claire scowled at me, twisting the knife a little more. She gestured at the television, where a frankly exceptionally sappy movie was playing. "How are you not moved by this?"
I shrugged. "I'm far more heartless than you are," I offered. This, somehow, seemed to placate her.
July 31 – Claire
Prompt: 333. Milk
"How long is milk good for after its expiration date?" I asked Quil, looking down at the carton I held in my hands. It seemed like a rare morning when the two of us were awake and in need of breakfast at the same time.
Quil took the carton from my hands, unscrewed the top, sniffed the contents, then headed for the sink. "Nope."
"Oh come on," I huffed half-heartedly. "Don't just waste it."
Quil raised an eyebrow at me as he stopped at the sink, the carton poised over the drain. "I don't know what labels you've been reading, but the ones I read all seem to mean that you're not supposed to use things that have expired."
I made a face at him, even though I knew he was probably right. "How does anything even go bad in this house?" I wondered, but Quil just shrugged, taking my response as the acquiescence that it was and pouring the rest of the milk down the sink.
A/N: I'd forgotten how hard it is to write for specific prompts. Also, apparently a few prompts I'd already used got changed since I last worked on this, so that's kind of confusing. A Year and a Bit of Quil and Claire, anyone? …No.
Tune in next month when we answer important questions like "what the heck's up with Jacob?" and "does this slice of life romance fic actually have an honest to God plot?" Hopefully soon followed by September's questions like, "will the chair in the living room survive when Claire leaves for college?" and "how the heck am I going to manage this when our two lovebirds are in two different places for most of the next three months?" Great question. It'll be an adventure for us both, 'cause I don't know yet. I only know Claire will be doing, to be honest.