Claire could not remember a time when Quil hadn't been in her life. He had been their every birthday, every Christmas, every laugh, every tear. He'd taught her how to ride a bike, how to fix a car, how to irritate the crap out of his friends, just like him. Quil was her everything.
She remembered once when she was six, and a boy at school had pulled her hair and called her 'stinky face'. Quil had struggled not to burst out laughing, and asked her quite seriously if she would like for him to beat him up. She had replied with a gleeful affirmative answer. She watched Quil march over to the boy and bend over to whisper something in his ear. The little boy's face turned from apprehensive, to embarrassed, and he sent an offended glance at Claire before scurrying away. Quil laughed at the expression on her face when she realised he wasn't actually going to lay a finger on the boy. He explained to her that the little boy had a crush on her, and that's why he was being mean. Claire had pulled a face, and Quil laughed once again.
She was ten when she began to get suspicious. Quil hadn't aged a day since she had met him, and yet she was growing several inches every year. Claire wasn't an idiot; she knew that logically, Quil should look almost 40 by now. And yet, he still looked like he was 25 years old, exactly as the same as he did every other day in her life. Quil laughed it off when she asked him, saying he was old on the inside.
She was twelve when she was told the werewolf secret. Quil thought she was old enough to accept it, to understand why he had kept it from her. She was angry at first, but slowly she realised that he was right. If she had been any younger, she would have been terrified to go near him. She couldn't imagine life without Quil. Now she thought it was actually kind of cool. She tried to make Quil show her, but he refused. She disagreed, but he said the risk of her getting hurt was too great. Remembering Emily's scars, she never argued the point with him again. Then she began to worry. If Quil would never age, how long would it be before she was too old for him?
She was fourteen when she had her first boyfriend. Quil despised him, but she couldn't understand why. He was a nice enough guy, trustworthy and honest. Claire really liked him. She had a huge argument with Quil about him, and she didn't talk to him for a week. She ended up dumping the poor guy, who she never even got to kiss, just so she could go and see Quil again. It was the longest period of her life that she had spent away from him. She couldn't bear being apart, and yet she knew that she should be able to. After all, it wasn't very likely that they would be together forever. Quil was bound to find the right girl sooner or later, and he would go and get married, and leave Claire. She shuddered at the thought. But she wasn't worried yet. He hadn't told her about anyone. If Quil had met somebody, he would have told her.
And so she gradually grew older, and lovelier, blossoming in her adolescence. She rejected many offers, shattered many hopes of the young men in La Push and Forks. She couldn't seem to find anyone to live up to her standards. Her standard was, of course, Quil. Every other boy paled in comparison to him. She blushed every time he caught her admiring him, but he just chuckled and teased her about enjoying the view. She never noticed when he looked at her in the same way.
She was seventeen when she learned about imprinting. She overheard Paul complaining to Sam about Quil's imprinting, and how it was affecting the entire pack when he wasn't telling her. That's all she heard, as Emily shut Paul up with a pointed glare and a head jerk towards Claire. Claire started to feel nauseous. What was imprinting? And what did it have to do with a her? Who was that? Had Quil met someone? Had he fallen in love? She felt sick. She tried to get Paul to divulge what imprinting was. He wouldn't tell her, just like Sam and Emily. Jared and Kim had been forewarned by Seth, so they refused before she had even opened her mouth. Leah had simply scoffed when she was asked. Before long, she had only had one option left, and she wondered why she hadn't considered asking him in the first place.
She found Embry in the woods not far from the house, sitting on a rock, staring into space. She approached him from behind, and he jumped as she touched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Claire!" He sighed, as if he had been expecting her. "Why don't you just ask Quil?"
Claire stared at him in shock. Asking Quil didn't even cross her mind. She just assumed that if he hadn't told her by now, he wouldn't tell her at all. How stupid.
Embry grinned at her bewildered expression. "He'd tell you if you asked him. Hell, it would probably be easier if you did."
"What would be easier?" Claire asked.
Embry's easygoing face vanished, and he looked mortified. Claire instantly knew he had said something he shouldn't have.
"C'mon, Embry, pleeeease?" She begged, pouting and batting her eyelashes.
"Don't do that, Claire." He groaned.
She got down on her knees and clasped her hands together. "I can leak some tears out, if that's what it takes!' she threatened.
"Claire, get up! Stop being ridiculous! Quil would murder me if I told you!" Embry looked uncomfortable.
"I bet he'd do worse than that if I told him you made me cry!" Claire smirked.
"You're right, he probably would, except he can read my thoughts, and you can't, so HAH!" Embry poked his tongue out, and shoved her shoulder, causing her to fall into the dirt.
Claire glared at him from her position on the ground. "Why hasn't he told me? I mean, if he's going to go and imprint himself on some girl, then I think I have a right to know!" She huffed.
Embry stared at her with wide eyes, and burst into hysterics.
"What? What's so goddamn funny?" Claire yelled in frustration.
"Claire, honey, you can't choose who you imprint. It happens the minute you look at them." Embry gasps through his laughter.
Her face crinkled in confusion. "Oh. So… it's not some weird werewolf ritual where you like, stamp someone with ink, or a tattoo, or something?"
Just when it looked like Embry had calmed down enough to carry a normal conversation again, he convulsed into another fit of laughter.
"Is that what you thought it was?" He chuckled. "Bloody hell, Quil's got a lot of explaining to do."
"Damn straight, he does." Claire growled, turning on her heel and striding back towards the house.
"Quil?" She shouted as she burst through the door.
"Run, Quil, she's a'comin'!" She heard Paul laugh from the kitchen.
"Shut up, you jerk! QUIL! I have to talk to you!" Claire yelled again, stomping towards the kitchen.
"Yes, Claire?" Quil asked innocently, looking up from the paper he was reading at the kitchen table.
"Don't 'yes, Claire' me! What the hell is imprinting? No one else will tell me, but apparently it's not important enough for me to know about since you never bothered to mention it!" Claire fumed.
Quil turned to glare at Paul, who shrugged nonchalantly, an amused smile playing on his lips.
"Out!" Claire cried, pointing her finger at the door, and Paul obediently obliged, sniggering as he went.
Quill stood, the back of his chair scraping the floor. "Come on. I want to take you somewhere."
"Excuse me? No! I'm not going anywhere until I get some answers!" Claire snarled.
"Claire, I will tell you, I promise, but not here. We have some unwelcome listeners." He nodded towards the closed door, and in the silence, Claire could hear some scuffling and low murmurs.
Rolling her eyes, she grasped Quil's extended hand and allowed him to lead her out into the woods.
"Alright, mister, enough dawdling! Tell me about imprinting!" Claire exclaimed, wrenching her hand from Quil's hot, loose grip.
Quil just got a mischievous glint in his eyes, and before she could even react, she was being swept over his warm shoulder and he had taken off running.
"Put me down, you big brute! Help! Someone! Emily! Paul! Anyone!" Claire screeched melodramatically.
Quil's laughter was carried to her ears on the air that was rushing past her head. She could feel him slowing down, and started kicking her legs, although knowing subconsciously her effort was wasted. It was like attacking a brick wall. He came to a stop and set her down, smoothing her windblown hair back from her face. Claire swatted his big hands away, and he smiled shamefacedly at her livid expression, which turned to shock when she realised where he had brought her.
"Where are we?" She whispered, breathless. They were on an enormous cliff; one side overlooking the ocean and First Beach, the other gave a birds eye view of La Push and the reservation. "It's beautiful."
"Not as beautiful as you." Quil stated bluntly.
Claire could feel the blush rising up her cheeks. He'd always made subtle comments about her appearance, but this was his first direct assertion. She wasn't sure how to take it, so she shyly hit him in the arm with a small grin. Then she remembered why she was brought here in the first place. She plopped to the ground, tucking her legs under her body, and motioning for Quil to do the same. He complied.
"So. Imprinting." Claire tried to ask without sounding too resentful.
"Claire, what you have to understand is that I wanted to tell you. I really did. More than anything in the world." Quil sighed.
"What is it?" She could feel the lump rising in her throat.
"Imprinting is, to use a cliché, love at first sight. But so much more powerful. More like soul mates at first millisecond. One you see that girl, she becomes your world, your universe. There's no letting her go. You don't have any choice." Quil dreamily looked out over the ocean.
"I see. Have you imprinted?" Claire mumbled.
Quil looked at her in surprise. "Of course."
Claire could feel her eyes filling up with tears. "Is she pretty?"
"Claire, she's sublime. I have never met anyone like her."
"So, that's it then. Are you going to marry her?" Clare had to battle the tears from overflowing, closing her eyes as she felt one trickle down her cheek
"If she'll have me." Quil noticed the tear, and immediately became panicked. "Claire! What's the matter?"
Clare met his concerned eyes angrily. "I don't want you to get married. I don't want you to leave me. I need you!" She sobbed.
Quil drew in her shaking body to his chest, and she felt the heat radiating from him. She enclosed her slender arms around his large torso, and breathed him in. It might be the last chance she ever got.
"I'm not leaving you, Claire. I could never leave you. I don't have a choice." His whispered into her hair.
Claire pulled away, and looked into his face with confusion. "Huh?" was all she could manage.
"Don't you get it? It's you, Claire. I imprinted with you."
"W-What? How? When?" She spluttered.
"No one knows how imprinting works, Claire. But I imprinted on you about fifteen years ago." He cupped her face in his hands, and wiped away her tears trails with his thumbs.
"You fell in love with me when I was two?" Claire gasped.
"No, silly. Not in love. It was just an imprint. But at that moment, you became my world. I loved you more than anything else." Quil laughed.
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Claire bit her lip.
Quil winced. "Well, I wanted you to have a choice. You know, if you found someone else, who you loved more, you wouldn't feel obligated to be with me just because of some silly old superstition." He looked to the ground guiltily.
Claire threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her cool cheek against his hot one. "Why would I want anyone else," she whispered in his ear, "when I've got you?"
Quil pulled back from their embrace to look her in the eyes. In her whole entire life, Claire had never seen him so happy than at that instant. She pressed her lips against his and felt tiny explosions going off in her chest.
Quil was Claire's first kiss. He was her first time. He was the father of her first, second and third child. He was her first and only love. Quil was her everything. Quil is her everything.