"Why didn't you tell me?" Embry demanded. "Why didn't any of you!"
"We didn't want to upset you Em…" Jacob said softly as he came up behind Quil.
"Well a good fucking job you've done! You lied to me!" Emily covered Claire's ears at Embry's language, not that she blamed him.
"We didn't…" Quil started.
"No! Fuck you. Fuck you, and you, and the rest of you! You've all been keeping secrets from me!" It was then it happened. Something inside Embry snapped. He screamed as the thing that had been clawing at him from the inside finally broke loose.
The gray wolf with black spots growled at them, eyes full of anger as pieces of Embry's clothes fell around him. He threw his head back and howled before taking off into the night.
"We have to go after him, he could hurt himself," Jacob stated already pulling his shirt off. Quil nodded and glanced back.
"Someone take Claire home." With that a russet brown wolf and a chocolate one ran off into the darkness after Embry.
Something miraculous happened that night. Something completely unexpected, but making such perfect sense. It was something that astounded even Carlisle-who was acting as Embry's doctor-though he admitted they (meaning everyone; shifter and vampire alike) should've thought about this before. It should've dawned on them sooner and then, perhaps, Embry could've avoided the months of mental torture as he tried to remember his life.
When Embry had phased and ran off into the woods his accelerated healing had reawaked and set to right the things that were wrong with him and, by morning, all of his injuries were healed. Embry had returned to as he was before the injury. His memory was completely restored, his wounds mended, but…wouldn't you know it, his heart was still broken.
But, as his memories rushed over him, his broken heart was the last thing on his overloaded mind. The sudden return of the last few years of his life was such a shock to his system. It was more than he could handle at that one moment. He phased out, his nude form lit by moonlight as he laid against the forest floor, clutching his head and screaming at the mind numbing pain. Tears slid down his face as he thrashed about the dirt floor as, finally, the two wolves that were trailing him appeared by his side.
Both men immediately phased out as well and, in a panic, kneeled next to him, calling out for him. Their voices, their panic, their alarm, and…his tears hitting his face were the last things he remembered before his world went black.
x x x
"He's resting," Carlisle said in a final sort of way as he stepped out of Embry's bedroom. "He's had a shock. All of his memories returned. At once. I gave him something to make him sleep and to ease the pain. He's got an awful headache."
"Can I see him?" Embry's mother asked, already moving towards her son's bedroom door, looking ready to defy Carlisle if he refused her, but luckily, he didn't.
"Just be quiet," Carlisle instructed softly as the woman opened the door and disappeared into the room. The doctor turned back to the other two shifters in the room. "He'll probably be in some pain when he wakes up, but I've left some painkillers on his bedside table that should help a little. Call me when he does wake up."
Jacob nodded in understanding and then the vampire left. The alpha heaved a great sigh before sagging back against the couch. "Who would've guessed…" he said softly, Quil's eyes flickering to him. "We should've thought of this…then we could've made sure it didn't happen until he was ready. Until he remembered more so it wouldn't have been a shock to him."
Quil heaved a soft sigh and looked towards Embry's door. "You think…do you think he'll still be upset when he wakes up?" He asked softly.
"What we did…what we kept from him…it was pretty shitty," Jacob pointed out softly, pinning Quil with a meaningful look. "Now that he remembers how it was between you two before he left…he might not be so upset, but then again, it could make it all the more worse."
Quil didn't realize it then, he didn't know, but Jacob's words rang like a prediction. He had no idea that Embry would wake up the next morning and not want to see him. He didn't know that Embry would be so heartbroken, so betrayed that he wouldn't even want to see him. He had no idea how hard he'd have to work to win back Embry's affections.
x x x
"You lied to me," Embry repeated softly, glaring at his best friend and…a-and his lover with steely brown eyes. "You lied to me about something so…so important and I can't figure out why you'd hide that from me. Wouldn't you want me to know how much you loved me? Wouldn't you want to start rebuilding that connection?"
Quil shifted uncomfortably on the edge of Embry's bed, unable to meet his gaze, instead he looked down at his hands. "I…I didn't want to scare you…I wanted to ease you into it," he replied softly, shaking his head. "I didn't do it to be cruel."
"But you were!" Embry hissed, his hands clenching into fists. "It seems almost like…like you didn't want me to remember. Like you wanted me to forget about you…"
"No!" Quil interrupted immediately, wide-eyed as he looked at his best friend. "Never! I love you, Embry, but I didn't want to put you through my imprint again."
Embry shock his head before rolling over onto his side. "I never stopped going through it, Quil," he murmured, looking away from the man. "Even when I couldn't remember your name my heart was aching for you and her."
Quil could feel the burning behind his eyes as he shifted, reaching out to touch the other shifter. "Em, I…" he started, but Embry scooted away from him.
"Just…go away…I don't want to see you anymore."
And Quil went. He had no other choice. He manically moved to the door, tears blurring his vision, ignoring Ms. Call's alarmed questions as he passed her. She thought something was wrong with Embry. The only thing wrong with him was a broken heart. Quil saw that now.
It was his fault. He could've prevented it. But he didn't. He thought he was doing his friend, his…his lover a favor by not telling him about their past relationship. He didn't think it'd hurt Embry so much, but he had misjudged the man so much.
He wondered if he even deserved Embry's love. He had put him through so much pain. He had ignored him and then he was ultimately the cause of his memory loss. He had wanted Embry to remember him…but, he really didn't do anything to help him remember. He had simply stood by and waited hopefully that one day he'd wake up and remember that he loved him.
Things weren't supposed to be like this.
Quil dimly stared through the driver's side window of his car. Things…didn't have to stay like this. For the first time that morning he felt hope. It welled up inside of him and warmed him so perfectly. Maybe…just maybe, he could fix this. He could win his lover back and then…
His soul already belonged to another. His heart was hers to keep. The little girl spending the summer with her favorite aunt. One day she'd be a young woman and one day she might want him as more than a playmate, brother, or protector. One day she could want to take that next step with him.
What about Embry?
Could he really put Embry through the pain of losing him again…? Did he have it in him to ask his lover to spend the next few years with him, knowing one day they could wake up and Quil could be called to Claire…never to return. To be irrevocably hers.
As quickly as it had appeared, his hope vanished.
He really didn't deserve Embry.
x x x Two Months Later x x x
His life finally made sense.
He had pieced together his memories and, finally, began to accept them. He processed them, relieved them, and pushed them back to the rightful place. All of the good times and all of the bad. Each memory touched him and he understood a little more.
The entire process had taken some time after the general rush of his memories and he still got the occasional headache, but his memory was back to the way it was before the accident (he still had nightmares about the accident).
Oddly, though, it still felt like something was missing. His heart was beating, but it was always aching. He was getting through his day, but not living. He wasn't thriving. Something was missing!
"Hey, Em…" Jacob said, plopping down on the couch next to him, throwing his arm over the back of it. "So there's this bonfire tonight…and there'll be food and stories…wanna come?" He asked looking over at him."FYI…you totally have no choice because it's like…a pack meeting, so you have to come."
Embry blinked and then looked at his best friend, his eyebrow arched. "Then why ask?" He pointed out as Jacob chuckled, shrugging.
"Wanted to be polite, I guess," Jacob replied, smiling at his friend. "And, uh, since it's a pack meeting…Quil's gonna be there…"
Embry fell silent at that, shifting on the couch. "I, uh, kinda figured…" he replied softly. He hadn't seen nor heard from Quil since the morning after his memories returned. He told Quil to leave and he did, he just didn't think the man would never come back. That wasn't the Quil he had fallen in love with. The one that didn't quit. The one that relentlessly pursued him until he finally relented and went out with him.
"I know what happened between you two was rough and shitty, but we were in on it too and you've forgiven us. Don't you think it's time you forgave Quil too?" Jacob asked softly, but he didn't answer. He couldn't.
He wanted to forgive Quil, but did Quil even want his forgiveness? Did the man give up so easily? He didn't know, but he wasn't sure he wanted to find out. He didn't think he could stand hearing that Quil gave up on him.
The man blinked at the sound of his name and nodded his head. "Yeah, yeah…I'll be there," he replied, but didn't say anything about Quil because he just didn't know.
Jacob heaved a soft sigh and clapped Embry's shoulder with his hand. "Alright, man, I'll see you then." He stood up, offered the man a smile, and then he left the living room.
Everything, he realized, rested on tonight.
He'd do his part and offer his forgiveness, but it was up to Quil to take it.
x x x
Jacob had come and picked him up, driving him to First Beach because his mother didn't trust him to drive quite yet. It was still early. The sun had just barely set. When Jacob pulled into the beach's parking lot he hadn't expected to see Quil's car, but there it was. Embry shifted uncomfortably in his seat and Jacob looked over at him. "Have you decided to talk to him?" He asked softly.
Embry didn't answer and Jacob didn't press the issue. He unbuckled his seatbelt and then grabbed the door handle, he grasped it for a moment before pulling, the car door opening. Then he was up and out of the car before Jacob had even shut the car off. He was stalking down to the beach and the spot permanently designated for their bonfires.
The fire hadn't been started yet, but there was a sizable pile of fire wood next to the fire pit and more was being brought in. That was when he saw Quil, carrying an arm full of dried driftwood with Seth tagging along after him, chatting aimlessly about some subject Embry didn't care to know. He hadn't been noticed yet and he made no move to be noticed. He just watched Quil, the look on his face was something akin to hunger and desire.
This was the gaze Quil turned to see after he had set his load on the wood pile. It made him freeze, with widened eyes. Embry stiffened, his eyes quickly darting away upon being caught. He rubbed the back of his neck, stepping closer to the fire pit. Seth feel silent as he approached, shifting uncomfortably before sprinting past the pair, heading towards Jacob and leaving the two alone.
Embry shifted uncomfortably as Quil approached him. He felt the urge to run rise up within him, but he forced it down. This needed to be done. He didn't hate Quil. He never had. He was hurt and felt betrayed, but he was over it. Quil needed to know that and it needed to come from him.
It was funny how one word, one simple word, could sum up all of the feelings the person speaking had been dealing with. It was even funnier how easily they were conveyed and, well, how easily they were accepted.
"Hey," Embry replied, his voice choking on the word, his eyes burning with tears as Quil stepped forward, closing the space between them and took him into his arms.
Everything, he realized, would be alright.
twelve years later…
Quil pulled himself free of his lover's tight confining heat, sitting on his knees as he looked in between their bedside tables. "I know I had a box of tissues nearby…" he said, frowning in thought as Embry chuckled and reached up for him, pulling him down into another kiss. Apparently tissues to clean them up didn't matter, not that Quil minded. He was perfectly content to bask in the afterglow of their love making.
The kissing dragged on and stayed sweet, both were too tired to go for another round. After awhile Embry broke the kiss and allowed Quil to get up and go into the bathroom to get a damp rag to clean them up. Sex was an enjoyable experience, but it was messy.
"Claire's birthday is this weekend, isn't it?" Embry called after Quil from their bed, the shifter rolling over to his side, pillowing his head with his arm as he waited for his lover to return.
Quil reemerged from the bathroom with a rag in hand. "Yeah. She's having it down at First Beach," he replied, sitting on the edge of the bed, beckoning his lover to come closer so he could clean him up.
Embry was quiet as he scooted closer to his boyfriend, a clearly thoughtful look on his face. "You know she'll be eighteen," he pointed out softly before the damp rag had even touched his skin.
Quil blinked and looked down at the other man with a frown. "Embry…" he started, but he was quickly interrupted.
"I just want you to know, Quil," Embry started, pushing himself into a sitting position. "That it's okay…when she turns eighteen I know your relationship will change and it's okay."
The hand that held the rag fell into Quil's lap and the man looked nothing short of confused, a touch of panic visible in his eyes as he looked at Embry. The man he had fought so hard for and almost lost. Suddenly, he realized, he was going to lose him again. "Embry…it doesn't have to be that way…"
Embry pinned him with a meaningful look. "I'm not stupid, Quil, I know what an imprint entails and I know she'll be ready for it when she's eighteen. I've been…waiting for it…for years now, Quil. I can't fight destiny and neither can you. I've had you and now it's Claire's turn."
Quil couldn't believe it, but he felt tears burning behind his eyes. He didn't care about destiny, or fate, or his imprint. He loved Embry. He wanted Embry. "But…"
"No!" Embry said, his voice bordering on insistent. "It'll be alright. You'll see. You'll have Claire and you'll be happy."
"But what about you?"
Embry paused at that and looked down at the comforter between them. He hadn't thought that far. What about him? He'd be sad that what he had with Quil would end, but there was nothing he could do about it. "I'll survive." He had before.
x x x
that weekend; claire's birthday party
He almost didn't go, but Emily had insisted. Claire, she had said, would be disappointed if he didn't show up. Embry, for the life of him, couldn't figure out why Claire would be upset if he didn't go to her birthday. For the past few years her life had began and ended with Quil. It's just the way things were. He had come to accept it, but that didn't mean he wanted to see destiny play out before his eyes. He had been through enough pain where Quil was concerned.
But here he was at First Beach, standing a little awkwardly away from the gathering friends and family that had come to wish Claire a happy eighteenth, but the birthday girl was missing. Embry shifted uncomfortably and tensed when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He glanced to his left and saw Jacob's worried face. "You going to be alright?" He asked softly.
Embry only shrugged. He didn't know. He hoped so. He had been preparing for this day for, well, years. But he had never thought he'd have to be present when all of it happened. He looked away from Jake, his eyes seeking out his lover…ex-lover. Already he felt his heart ache as his gaze lingered on Quil.
Jacob gave his shoulder a squeeze before he started towards the group of people, but still Embry lingered. At least until Quil noticed him detached from the rest of the party. He watched as the other man excused himself from his conversation with Sam and stood up, then Quil was making his way towards him.
Embry nearly turned away, but Quil caught him before he could. "What are you doing all the way over here by yourself?" He asked, frowning slightly.
"It's…it's nothing," Embry replied, offering the other man a small, reassuring-yet fake-smile. "I'm just…I…I'm not in a partying mood."
Quil didn't look convinced and Embry didn't feel like arguing his case. "Embry, I…"
Embry shook his head and stepped away from his boyfriend. "No! No! I'm not going to talk about this again. I said it was okay, so just drop it. Please just drop it!"
"I can't Embry!" Quil replied, grabbing him again, pulling Embry closer to him. "I imprinted on her, but I love you. I can't just walk away!"
Embry turned and pinned him with a stern glare, almost bordering on harsh. "But. You. Will!"
x x x
Embry had stormed away from him after he spoke those words. So convinced. So sure. And, well, Quil hated to admit it, but he was right. When the time came, he'd have no choice. He wanted to be with Embry, but he was meant for Claire. If she wanted him, he was hers. That's the way it was. There was nothing anyone could do or say that could change it.
"Hey, Quil, what's the matter with Embry?"
Concern was laced through her pretty, soft voice. Quil didn't need to see who had spoken to know who it was. He looked away from Embry and turned his attention to his imprint. "He's just…a little upset…"
"Upset?" Claire asked, frowning as she looked in the direction Embry had gone. "But why?"
Quil sighed softly and rubbed the back of his neck. "It's…it's the imprint, Claire…"
The newly turned eighteen year old looked confused about that. "Why would the imprint upset him?" Claire asked, looking back to Quil.
Quil shifted in the sand, looking uncomfortable before he answered. "You know that we've been together…you know what he means to me and what I mean to him," he pointed out softly.
"Of course I know that," Claire replied. "And that's why I find it surprising that you or he would think I'd break something like that up."
It was Quil's turn to look confused. "What do you mean by that?"
Claire gave a soft sigh as she stepped forward and clasped Quil's hands. "I love you, Quil. But I'm not in love with you. I don't think I ever was. I think…I couldn't fall in love with you because every memory I have of you growing up…you've been in love with Embry."
"W-what are you saying, Claire?"
"I'm saying that you need to go after Embry and tell him that you love him and that you want to be with him. And then you need to let him know that I only want your friendship. That that's all I want out of the imprint," Claire explained softly, dropping Quil's hands and stepping away. "If you leave now you both will be back in time to sing Happy Birthday to me, because if you're not I'll come after you and drag you both back."
Quil stared at his imprint for a long, hard moment. Disbelief shown over his features as he slowly nodded his head. "O-of course…" he murmured before his lips curled into a grin. "Of course!" He said again, leaning over to plant a kiss on the girl's cheek before running off after his lover.
x x x
Embry was half way to his truck when he heard his name called out after him. He didn't slow down. He didn't even slow down as his name got louder and closer. He didn't even slow down when he heard the foot falls in the sand behind him. He only slowed down when he was tackled into the sand.
He recognized the warm body pressed into his own. "Quil…Quil what are you doing here?" He asked, looking over his shoulder at the said shifter. "Where's Claire? Why aren't you with her?"
"She didn't want me," Quil said, sitting up, but still he straddled his back. "She just wants my friendship, Em, nothing more."
"But what about…"
"No!" Quil said, only getting off of Embry to flip him onto his back. "There are no buts. She wants a friend. Not a boyfriend, or lover, or husband…she doesn't want anything romantic with me. She's not in love with me."
Embry stared up at Quil and looked amazed. Amazed and hopeful. As though he was receiving a gift he hadn't expected. "R-really?" He asked softly.
Quil touched his cheek, cupping the smooth flesh as he nodded. "Really," he replied just as softly, smiling broadly as he leaned down and claimed his lover's lips in a kiss.
Somehow, someway, their love managed to overcome the borders of destiny. Somehow, someway, their love survived against so many odds. Somehow…someway…they were together. And they'd remain that way.