This is part 1 of 2 of the companion piece to my story Against the Pull of Gravity. I tried to make it so you didn't have to read that story to understand this, but it would probably help.
This is just something I started writing during a really boring English class…and kept writing during the Economics class that followed, and for about an hour and half when I got back to my dorm room that night. I'm sure my parents are proud that I'm putting the college education they're paying for to good use ;-)
Written in the style of Being Jacob Black—the New Moon extra on Stephenie Meyer's website.
Being Quil Ateara
Imagine you're a normal kid, with normal friends and a normal life. You like to have fun, you like to make people laugh, you like girls. You're the typical teenager.
The future's too far off to worry about—you're a here and now kind of guy. And your grandfather shakes his head at you because he thinks you never take anything seriously. He's tired of getting calls from school telling him you started another fight…over a girl, over an insult, or just because you could. But you shrug. I'm just having a little fun, you say. What's the big deal?
He sighs. Someday Quil, you'll understand.
You don't have time for his cryptic one-liners. There's other, weirder stuff going on. First Embry starts ignoring you and hanging with Sam, something that doesn't make any sense. Embry hated him, almost as much as you hate him. But there he is now, part of Sam's…cult. It pisses you off and you want to confront him—maybe a good punch is all it will take to get him back to normal.
But then Jake gets pulled into it too, and you're alone and confused. The world has turned upside down. Nobody will talk to you, nobody will tell you anything. It makes you so mad that you think you're going to explode. You can feel the heat spread across your skin, the instinctual tightening of muscle. You want to yell at someone, hit something—anything to make life go back to normal.
And then it happens. Just after your sixteenth birthday, it all comes crashing down, the heat, the anger, everything. It happens so blindingly fast, that building fire, the tight shaking anger that bursts inside of you, changing your shape into some huge alien thing. A werewolf. A shape-changer. A protector of the tribe. A member of the pack. Their voices are in your head, soothing, calm, telling you what you are, guiding you back to your human body. They're with you.
And afterwards, you can't hate the change—not the speed—not the power—not the strength—not even them, for keeping this from you. Because better than anything else is the fact that you have a family now, brothers who will always watch your back just like you'll watch theirs.
It's kind of like a dream, one you think you're going to wake up from any second. Your grandfather still says you're not taking it seriously enough. It's not a game, he lectures.But try as you might, none of it seems real
She makes it real.
It's a cool, sunny spring afternoon. You go over to Sam and Emily's for lunch just like any other day. And Emily's nieces are playing out front, giggling and laughing as they throw leaves on each other. Colleen and Claire, Emily introduces. You've always had a soft spot for kids, so you kneel down to say hi.
And then you really see her, and you can't take your eyes off her, can't turn your head like you would if you were normal. Her name spins through your mind, Claire, Claire, Claire. Something keeps you frozen in front of her, entranced with her, with those shocking light grey blue eyes, and the dark hair full of leaves.
In the small part of your brain that isn't consumed by her, you hear Emily in the background crying for Sam. She knows. She recognizes the expression on your face, one that you're slowly recognizing too. Sam and Jared's memories didn't do it justice, not now that you're experiencing it for yourself. When you realize you've stopped breathing, you pull in a hasty ragged breath.
On a baby.
And her little hand is reaching for you, holding it tightly in her tiny fingers. And it causes in you the strongest urge you've ever felt in your life: to pull her up into your arms and keep her there, safe and protected. You want to hear her laugh, want to make sure that she never knows what pain feels like, or fear. She should only know love, and happiness, and sunlight.
You look up to Sam's stony face seeking confirmation, even though you already know the truth. He understands exactly what is going through your mind, the primal, unstoppable tie that bounds you to this child. To Claire.
The truth passes between your shocked faces. Life will never be the same again.
Imagine the look on your brothers' faces when they find out what happened. They understand better than anyone else what has happened to you, but you still hear the shock in their thoughts. They pity you—that you have to wait decades for this girl, to know that kind of love.
But you don't want their pity. The truth is you're relieved, glad you still have your freedom—or a kind of freedom anyway. You're not ready for what Sam and Emily have, not ready to be absolutely tied to someone. You are still bound, but it is a different kind of bondage. Just as strong, but not as immediate, not as overpowering.
Claire has no expectations, no questions, makes no demands, and it's easy to be with her.
If only Claire's mother would let you…
Her reaction is the worst, the one you fear most of all. But you have to tell her, have to explain why you cannot leave her daughter alone. Emily tries to help, but Claire's mother won't listen. And all you can see is the look in her eyes, the fear…. She's afraid you're going to scar her daughter the way Sam scarred Emily—or worse. And she's afraid she's not giving Claire a choice.
You promise her and yourself that Claire will always have a choice, that she'll never feel forced into this. But Claire's mother doesn't know, won't try to understand, and she sends you away.
So you stand on her doorstep, surprised by the strength of the pull that keeps you there. It's like there is a rope tying you to her. And Claire's mother looks in your eyes and sobs as you hold her, as you try to explain this thing that cannot be explained. Not with words.
Seeing Claire again is like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. You can breathe deep again now that you can watch her with your own eyes. You know you can keep her safe, keep her whole.
Your grandfather said you never took anything seriously enough, but that was before your world titled on its axis, before her. This isn't a game, and it makes you think seriously about your future for the first time in your life.
Your role in Claire's future.
Your world didn't stop when you imprinted, but the center changed. Things that seemed so important before seem so small afterwards. It's almost funny remembering how you used to start fights and chase girls, how you liked to flirt with them and make their boyfriends squirm.
It seems like forever ago, like you're a completely different person now, but one girl still remembers how you used to be. Her name is Meagan Read and she's the prettiest girl in school. You used to flirt with her, and piss her boyfriend off by telling her she could do so much better than him.
One year, one month and fifteen days after Claire, she finally agrees with you.
It's just a kiss. A slow, slow kiss, and you can tell by the way her lips are moving that she wants more. She's taking you up on all those teasing flirty offers you used to make.
But now it's as if someone's punched you in the gut, knocking the breath out of your lungs. You break away with a gasp. You don't know how to explain it but it just feels wrong. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong girl.
Jacob asked you once if you were ever going to date. One year, one month and fourteen days ago, Meagan would have been the girl you'd have picked. But now… now there is nothing you can give her.
It's not Meagan's fault. But it's not yours either.
The next day you go over to Claire's house; she smiles a huge bright smile and holds out her hand and mumbles some childish babble about being a princess that doesn't make much sense. You smile and ask what a princess's favorite food is since it's time for lunch.
This feels right. This feels real. This where you are supposed to be.
Imagine you're 24 years old. You realize it's been seven years since you kissed anyone. Even longer since you actually wanted to.
That's the strangest part of imprinting, the hardest thing to comprehend—the complete lack of desire. Most of the time you don't think about it, but one day, the realization that it's gone hits you like lightning. You remember it so clearly from before. How all consuming it was. You've never felt anything remotely similar since. And you don't know if it's normal because there's no one to ask. All you know is that now there's only Claire, and her pull is just as consuming but so completely chaste you wonder if you'll ever feel real attraction again.
Her name is Elizabeth
You meet her when you go to Seattle with Seth, Embry, Collin and Jared to visit Leah. Of course, Leah warns her roommate Elizabeth which of the guys are available and which aren't, but when Elizabeth sees you, she forgets all about Leah's warnings.
At the bar, everyone scatters in different directions—to the girls or the pool table or the darts— looking forward to a night away from the rez, but you stick with Elizabeth.
She's funny. She makes you laugh and that hasn't happened in awhile, but then, after seven beers everything is looking a lot funnier.
You try to see her face, try to remember if you would have thought she was pretty back when you could actually see things like that. You concentrate on her lips, her eyes, her hair, but the picture never comes together. She's nothing more than individual features that for the life of you, you can't put together.
Does it matter?
She's into you… she pushes you up against the wall and you let her… just to see where she'll take it… where you'll let her take it. Her kisses are electric, hard and demanding. You have the faint feeling that if she'd done this to you when you were fifteen you would have died; you would have melted at her feet and given her anything she wanted.
Not now though. Now the strongest thing you can feel is the lack of it all. The lack of emotion, the lack of pleasure, the lack of want for this woman. The void.
But you let her kiss you and you kiss her back, trying so hard to make it more than mechanical, fighting back guilt for using this woman in your sick experiment. Because in the back of your head you know that no matter how hard you kiss her, no matter where her hands go and what they do, and no matter how good she should feel, that it will never ever work.
And then Claire's eyes flash in your mind. Those strange blue grey eyes. Only they're different somehow. Older. Perceptive. You know she won't begrudge you this kiss, or the rest if you choose to take it further. But her eyes stay in clear focus.
It's not exactly cheating, but it still isn't right.
So very gently, you push Elizabeth away, muttering apologies, hoping you won't remember the look on her face in the morning. She frowns up at you and tries to get you to change your mind. You walk away to the sound of her yells.
Five years from now, you won't even remember her name.
The next time you see Claire, you push down the guilt. You promise yourself that you'll never do it again. Not just to satisfy some curiosity. Claire deserves better than that.
Imagine you're 27 years old. Claire's starting to notice things. You can see it in her eyes when she looks at you. She's realizing you have secrets. She's finally putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and asking questions that no matter how many years you've had to prepare, you're still not ready for.
Claire is thirteen now, and it's hard to believe that eleven years have passed since the first time you saw her. You could never have imagined then how close you and that baby would become. That she would be your best friend, that you'd learn to love listening to her voice, no matter what she said, that you'd want to see her everyday, that you'd worry about her when you weren't around.
That you would need so much for her to accept you, exactly as you are.
You know it's time to tell Claire about the pack and what you are, but you're afraid. What if she looks at you differently? What if she's scared of you? You know it's irrational, but the idea of looking into Claire's eyes and seeing revulsion there would be too painful.
She's nervous at the bonfire. Nervous of these people who know everything about her. She leans into your side and you hate yourself for doing this to her. You tell yourself that she'd have to know eventually.
Emily agrees that it's time. Everyone does—if anything, they think you should tell Claire more. Everything. But you can't do that to her yet. She's too young—she doesn't need imprinting hanging over her head. She already knows that you are her best friend, that you'd do anything for her, the rest is unnecessary.
You'll take it one-step at a time.
You watch Claire's face carefully during your grandfather's story. You can tell that she thinks it's just a story, but she likes hearing it all the same. Her eyes light up, she's drinking it in. You wonder….
But the story ends and your grandfather begins another one, one you know just as well. He's being sneaky, giving you a hint, watching you squirm. The story of imprinting. And if Claire's eyes were bright before, they're shining now. She thinks it's romantic.
So you pull her away from the fire before your grandfather can do any more damage, down the cliffs. And you tell her, expecting her to look at you like you're crazy, and to start running back to her aunt. You expect to see her eyes widen, and the one look you never wanted to see fill them: fear.
But Claire's not afraid. She's not even nervous. She listens carefully, quietly. And she accepts it. She holds out her little, cool hand and hugs you. And you realize for the first time that you're completely powerless against her… and you don't even care.
Imagine the sight of someone you love just inches away from the frozen, murderous lips of your enemy. The shock that spreads from your belly to your heart, making it beat impossibly fast. Feeling the rage explode in your veins.
Jared makes an awful screaming sound and launches himself at the vampire, tearing its head from its shoulders. Some of you move to stand protectively around Kim, and some of you help Jared finish the bloodsucker off. But it's his kill.
It's the worst thing any of you can imagine. Being unable to protect the one you love from the thing you were born to kill.
None of you could have seen it coming.
Everyone knows that Kim has nightmares afterwards, terrible dreams of what might have happened if you hadn't gotten to her in time. She tries to brave, she tries to hide it, but all Jared can think about at night is the sound of her screams.
The guilt eats away at each of you, the fear that because of what you are you'll never stop hurting your loved ones. There is Sam's double guilt—for breaking Leah's heart, for scarring Emily. And Jared knows that it was his scent on Kim that made the vampire curious…
And then there is your fear that you will somehow hurt Claire too. Maybe it will be subtler than the others. Maybe someday you'll make her feel like she has no other choice but you. Maybe you'll hurt her by needing her so selfishly.
But worse than that is the fear that maybe someday a vamp will come across her and she won't be as lucky as Kim… It's agonizing to think that you are the one putting her in danger, when all you've ever wanted was her safe and whole.
So you do what you promised yourself you would never do. You break her heart.
It's a hot humid day, but you don't feel the heat, can't focus on anything but the words you've rehearsed over and over again in your head. If Claire notices your distraction, she doesn't say anything.
It's the hardest thing you've ever done, telling her that you're leaving, but it doesn't stop you.
The feel of her little fists against your chest…the sight of her tears…the sound of her voice saying I hate you. She means it. You've never heard her sound like that before, never seen her look that way.
When she trips in the sand, your entire body is screaming at you to pick her up and apologize, to never let go again. But somehow, you stay still, letting only your eyes follow as she stumbles down the beach. For Claire, for Claire, for Claire…
It's impossible to fight against the pull of gravity. But for her, you'll do anything.
I'm halfway done with part 2, so look for it some time this week. And don't don't forget to vote for Against the Pull of Gravity at the Twilight Awards Breaking Dawn Round! Voting ends on October 30th.