-1A/N: I had originally planned for this to me multi-chapter, but that didn't work out. I feel like later I will expand on this, but for now it's complete as a one-shot. I am a visual person, so I will be leaving you links at the beginning of each chapter that will show you Claire's outfit(s). Here is her outfit for this chapter: http:[SLASH][SLASH]www[DOT]polyvore[DOT]com[SLASH]cgi[SLASH]set?id=22754148
P.S. Feel free to review!
DISCLAIMER: It's called fan-fiction for a reason, kids.
"You are nothing!" The red-faced man before her was livid. The bottle in his hand was almost empty, and that scared her because she knew that it had been unopened this morning. She backed away, running into the hall. She just had to make it into her room. He chased after her, reaching out and grabbing a fist full of her hair and yanking her backwards. She cried out, but that only drove him to continue.
Claire Young was already black and blue all over. She had been fighting her way throughout the house for the last hour and half, inching her way to her bedroom. He had never gone on for this long. It was like he had saved all his energy for tonight. Like he knew what she was going to do.
He drug her through the living room, past her mother who complained about them being in the way of the television. When he threw her against the staircase, Claire kicked her leg out and hit him in the stomach. She rolled over as he came at her again, throwing her leg out again. The heel of her tennis shoe struck his chin, and the force threw him backwards. She waited, and after a few minutes of him being motionless, she crawled up the stairs as fast as she could.
Claire ran into her room and closed the door, locking it and then moving her dresser in front of it. She checked the clock. She had ten minutes until Casey was at the end of the block. Fifteen until she left again. Claire pulled the bag out of her closet and then she was throwing clothes into her duffle bag. Jeans, shorts, shirts. Socks and underwear. Shoes. A hairbrush and her toothbrush. She reached under her mattress and pulled out the envelope she had been hiding under there. It had all the cash she had saved over the last two years and the papers and pictures she had stolen from her mother when she married Jeff, the abusive asshole unconscious downstairs. She put the envelope in the bag before zipping it closed. She pulled on the jacket she had had on before and then her boots and then opened her bedroom window. She slung the bag over the ledge and then kicked it over. She gave her room one last look before following her bag.
As soon as she grabbed her bag, she was off. Running down the street to the end of the block. She checked her watch. Three minutes until Casey pulled away and her chance was lost. Her heart didn't slow down until she was sitting in the rusty old Ford Focus with the doors locked and three miles between her and that hellhole.
"Are you sure you don't want to come stay with me?" Casey asked. Her voice was soft, but it had been so long since anyone had spoken that it caused Claire to jump.
Claire reached over the center console to grip her sister's hand, "That'll be the first place they look for me. I've got a year left, Casey. One year and then they can't do anything to me anymore. I've just got to lay low for a year."
"What makes you think La Push is a safe place?"
"This is going to sound stupid, but I've been having these weird dreams. Like, before I even found the papers Mom had thrown away. They were all about this place, this little Reservation in Washington, and these people. Mostly this one person. A man. I can't remember his name or what he looked like, but I remember feeling safe there," Claire shook her head, "And I mean this place with this man, it embodied the meaning of being safe and loved."
"Mom took us away from there. I remember that much. I was like, ten? I remember her and Aunt Emily screaming at each other, Mom telling her that she and the monsters she associated with were never coming around us again," Casey's car came to a stop outside of the bus station. She got out and grabbed Claire's bag for her along with her own purse and guided them into the bathroom.
"You know," Claire said, "Mom doesn't have the best judgment. Whatever she took us away from, it couldn't have been as bad as this."
It was late, almost midnight, and no one seemed to be around then. After she got Claire to sit on the counter she dumped her purse into the sink next to her and began to clean her baby sister up. They talked, mostly about what was to happen later. About how Claire was going to get on the bus and stay on it until she reached Forks, Washington and then how she'd call Casey and let her know she had made it from a payphone. Then she'd find her own way to La Push and find their Aunt Emily. As soon as she settled, she'd call Casey again. They had been over this a million times, but Casey had to keep the conversation flowing. If she didn't then she'd have to take in her little sister's busted lip, the slightly swollen nose and her bruised cheek. She'd have to take in the dark bruises on her legs, and all the other ones she couldn't see under her sweater.
When she had cleaned up all she could, bandaged all she could, Casey pulled a thick wad of cash out of her bag. She placed it in a side pocket of Claire's duffle bag and said, "Don't even try to refuse it. I couldn't keep you from getting hurt, so you have to let me help you get away and feed you."
"It's not your fault," Claire pulled Casey into her arms and kissed the top of her head. She could feel her sister's hot tears drip onto her neck, "It's not your fault, Case. You did everything you could, and now you're helping me get away. You're the best big sister I could have ever asked for."
A voice came over the intercom and the two pulled away. Casey wiped her eyes and handed Claire her ticket, "Be careful."
"You too," Claire said, "Don't go anywhere alone for awhile, okay? You never know what they'll do. I know you live in the city, but you never know."
"Promise," Casey said.
They gathered their things and walked to the bus. Claire wrapped her arms around her sister and squeezed as hard as she could, ignoring the pain it caused her, "I love you so much."
"I love you too."
And then, with one final hug, Claire boarded the bus. She watched Casey walk back to her car as she placed her bag in the seat next to her. They pulled away before Casey did, and she covered her mouth with her hand as the tears started to roll silently down her face.
She had done it. Finally, Claire had managed to get away. And she was alive.
But she knew that this fight was far from over. After all, what if Casey was right? What if La Push hadn't been all that great? What if they didn't want her anymore?
Claire let her eyes slip shut, and when sleep found her all of her worries were washed away.
LINEBREAK"Where are we going?" a younger Claire, around six or seven, asks. She's looking up at someone and her hand is wrapped tightly around this man's hand.
She couldn't make out his face, but she knew that he was the definition of familiar. He picked her up in his arms, and when he laughed she could feel the vibrations from his chest, "You've asked ten times already. I'm not going to tell you, you'll see when we get there."
Young Claire pouted, "But I want to know now." "But then you'll ruin the surprise," he told her, but she countered with, "I don't like surprises."
"But then you'll ruin the surprise," he told her, but she countered with, "I don't like surprises."
"You'll like this one, Claire Bear, promise," he kissed the side of her head.
It had been an entire forty-three hours. A long, panic filled forty-three hours since she had left. She only had this last part until she knew if she was safe or not. She hadn't gotten off when the bus had stopped to fuel up or load passengers because she was afraid that if her mother had reported her missing then there'd be pictures all over the place. She doubted anyone had noticed yet, but they would eventually. Who knows what they would do.
"You sure you want me to let you off here?" the cab driver was hanging out of his window, "Miss?"
Sliding her sunglasses on, Claire turned to him and gave him a smile, and then winced when her lip cracked, "I'm sure."
"I'm not going to tell anyone I saw you," he said.
"What?" Claire frowned.
"I don't know nothing about your situation, but you're pretty beat up. Whatever your running from, you're lucky to have gotten away," the man gave her a knowing look, and when she tried to pay him he refused, "I hope you never have to look like this again, Kid."
Claire was taken aback by his words, by his kindness. She waved and thanked him as he drove away, and then she pulled her hood up and adjusted her bag over her shoulder before walking down the dirt path that led to the Reservation. The closer she got, Claire noticed, the more she could breathe.
An hour later, and she was reaching into her pockets for the wrinkled piece of paper. The one with Emily Young's address on it. She knew that her aunt might not live here any longer, it had been ten years, but it was worth a shot. It took her about fifteen minutes, but when she found the house and saw the woman out front unloading groceries Claire knew that this was it. She knew that this was right and that she would be safe here.
A little boy came running out of the house, but he stopped short when he noticed Claire. He pointed at her, "Mommy, who's that?"
Emily turned around, a frown on her face, and spotted Claire. She set her bag down and walked towards Claire, "Can I help you?"
Claire hesitated, thinking that maybe this wasn't such a great idea. But she had come all this way. She couldn't just give up and walk away now. So she cleared her throat and pushed her glasses to rest on the top of her head, "You probably don't remember me, but-"
"Claire?" Emily stopped short. Her hand came up to cover her mouth and she looked terrified.
Claire took a few steps back, "Uh, I didn't- I didn't mean to scare you. I'm sorry."
"What happened to you?" Emily rushed forward, her hands coming up to lightly cup Claire's face. She took in the deep purple bruising and the split lip, "How did you get here?"
She felt more comfortable with the last question, so she answered it instead. She dug out the piece of paper with Emily's address, "A few years ago I found this birthday card that you had sent me before we moved. I ripped the part with your address off and kept it. I took a bus from Wyoming to Forks, and then a cab to the start of the Reservation."
Emily let her hands drop, a smile on her face, "You always loved getting mail. I used to send you all sorts of things even though you were here most of the time."
"I remember that."
"Claire," Emily grabbed her hand, "How'd your face get like that?"
Claire shrugged her shoulder, "Uh, I got real sick after we left and then my dad bailed on us and my mom met Jeff. He was…he was great until they got married. Then he started getting drunk, and when Jeff gets drunk he gets angry."
Emily squeezed her hand, "For two years I've gotten the crap beat out of me because the carpet isn't soft enough or I'm breathing too loud," Claire caught Emily's gaze then, "Look, I'm not looking for charity or handouts. It's just, they don't know where I am and they can't know where I am. And I remember feeling safe and being happy here. This is going to sound completely insane, but I've had this weight sitting on my chest for years, and now that I'm here it's almost gone."
"You are always welcomed here, Claire. Don't ever think otherwise," Emily was pulling her towards the door, then, and into the house. She turned to the boy, "Levi, this is your cousin Claire. Claire this is my son, Levi."
"Hey," Claire tried to smile. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, and she couldn't help but cry out.
"Did I hurt you?" his eyes were wide, but she shook her head and patted her stomach, "No, I'm already hurt. You didn't do anything, I promise."
"Levi, will you get the rest of the groceries out of the car? I've got to call your father," Emily already had the phone to her ear, "Just set your bag down and make yourself at home, Claire."
Claire looked around, setting her bag off to the side. Pictures were everywhere, and not just of Emily and her family, but of other people too. She let her hands touch each one, trying to remember the people in the photos. One in the back, of a man, caught her attention. She pulled the frame forward and showed it to Emily.
"He's my feeling," she said, and when Emily looked at her funny she pointed to him, "Him. He's my safe feeling. He's the guy from my dreams."
"All done!" Levi announced, pulling Claire back to reality. He asked Emily when they were going to the beach.
"Honey, we can't go until tomorrow now. Things have changed," she began, but Claire spoke up, "I can go with him."
"Yeah! Come on, Mom, I just want to get rocks for my project! Please? I promise to be good," Levi stuck his bottom lip out.
Claire laughed, "And we can get to know each other. Bond and stuff."
"Fine," Emily said, "But don't wear her out, Levi, and be back in a couple of hours."
"Yeah, okay!" Levi grabbed Claire's hand and pulled her along with him. They were a good fifty feet away from the house before he slowed down and looked at her, "So how old are you?"
"I'm seventeen. My birthday was a few days ago, actually," Claire said, "How old are you?"
"I'm ten!" he grinned, "I'm in the fifth grade, and I already have all the rocks for my project. I just love the beach."
"I haven't been to the beach since the last time I was here."
Levi swung their hands between them, "Hey, Claire? Can I ask you a question?"
"How did you get hurt?" he asked quietly.
They walked past a garage, and Levi told her that his dad owned the shop, but he was in Seattle for business today. When they got to tree-lined path, Claire spoke up, "Some people aren't very nice, Levi, and they take their anger out on other people. My step-father is one of those not nice people."
"He hit a girl? Boys aren't supposed to hit girls!" Levi looked appalled, "What about your mom?"
"I guess she didn't care. I mean, she saw what he was doing but she never did anything about it," Claire felt like she had to make up for her horrible home life, "But I have an older sister named Casey who I love to death. She's amazing. She helped me get here."
They stopped at the end of the walk, and Claire took in the ocean before her. It was beautiful. But Levi kept them in that spot as he looked up at her, "Hey Claire? I would never do anything like that to you, no one here would. And you don't have to worry anymore. We'll protect you from them."
Claire gave his hand a squeeze, "You're very sweet, Levi."
"I'm serious," he said, pulling her along, "We've got some pretty huge guys here. They could take your step-dad."
He paused, and then, "This is First Beach."
Claire's return to the Reservation had spread like wildfire.
Within a half hour the entire pack, the council included, were gathered in Emily and Sam's kitchen. Everyone was talking at once, trying to be louder than anyone else and no one seemed to notice Quil shaking in the corner except Emily. She stood on the counter and screamed at the top of her lungs until everyone was silent and looking at her.
"You all need to know something first. It may change your view on letting her stay here, but I doubt it," Emily started. Her eyes dropped when they landed on the man of the hour, "And Quil, this isn't going to be easy to hear."
Quil looked up, and when he spoke his voice was low, "I can handle it."
"She's a runaway," Emily let that sink in before continuing, "I didn't get all of the details, but from the looks of her she's got a good reason to be running. She told me that her parents couldn't know she was here."
"What do you mean? From the looks of her? What is that supposed to mean?" Quil was gripping his knees. All he wanted to do was go find her. She was so close to him after all of these years and he had to sit through a meeting.
Emily looked at Sam for support, and he stood and grabbed her hand, "She looked…her face- she's pretty beat up, Quil. Her mother remarried a couple of years ago to this alcoholic and all Claire said was that he gets angry and he hits her."
Quil was shaking and Embry and Seth had their hands on him in case he needed to leave. Emily continued, "She's been trying to come home for years now. She…she held onto a piece of envelope with my address on it that I sent to her before she even left. She's gripped onto this memory of being safe and happy here."
Emily reached into her back pocket and pulled the picture Claire had left on the table out. She handed it to Quil, "Claire came here for you. She picked this picture out of all of the ones on the table, without knowing who was who. She showed it to me and she told me that the man in the photo, you, were the one she had been dreaming about. You were her safe feeling that she associated with this place."
Quil's shaking had been soothed by this knowledge, but he was still itching to see her, "Can we go get her?"
"We need to vote first," Sam said, "All in favor of taking her in and protecting her from whatever she came from?"
No one was surprised as every hand in the room shot up. Embry clapped a hand over Quil's shoulder, "She's one of us, Man. She's our baby sister! Of course we're going to protect your woman."
Quil smiled in gratitude.
"Alright," Sam stood up, "You've got to take this slow. We all do. You can't just blindside her. And tonight we've all got to sit her down and let her in on our secret. But until then, you've got all day with her. I'm going to go with you and get Levi, but then you've just got have her back by dinner."
"Levi!" Claire cupped her hands around her mouth, "Come on, don't do that!"
He was perched on the top of a large rock, leaning over the edge. Claire was climbing it now, pulling herself up with her hands. It was a good fifteen foot drop from where Levi was hanging to the little pool below. When Claire reached the top she grabbed his shirt and pulled him backwards a bit.
"I was so close," Levi groaned, "It's perfect for the main piece of my project."
Claire bit her lip, "I'll get it, okay? I can't go home with you hurt or dead- that's not a great first impression."
Levi gave her grin and she questioned it, "You said you couldn't go home."
Claire shrugged. It had just come out that way, "So, what does it look like?"
"You can't miss it! It's the only yellowish one down there."
Claire laid on her stomach and leaned over the edge. It was a little ways down, but she was confident in her ability to get down there and climb back up. She spoke to him as she turned around and lowered herself, "Right. You almost had it my butt."
Levi's cheeks colored as he watched her disappear, "So, what's your favorite color?"
"Blue or canary yellow," Claire answered. She was hanging by her left arm and reaching with her right. Her fingers grazed the rock and she stretched, her muscles burning. As soon as her fingers wrapped around the little rock, a hot and huge hand wrapped around her left forearm and pulled her up. She barely had time to take in that she was now dangling before she was set down a few feet from the edge.
"Claire-" Levi started, but the man holding his hand cut him off, "Why were you just sitting there? You should have gone for help! She could have died, Levi!"
"I was getting a rock," Claire cut in. She held out the little yellow rock, "For his project. I was getting a rock for his project, I wasn't falling or in trouble."
He nodded in understanding murmuring an apology to his son. He stuck a hand out, "I'm Sam. Your uncle. Emily's my wife."
"Hey," she gave a little wave.
"He," Sam pointed to a man off to the side. He was sitting on one of the smaller rocks on the beach, his head in his hands, "He's going to show you around. We'll see you at dinner."
Sam didn't wait for anyone to say anything, instead he pulled Levi back towards the road with him. After they had disappeared, Claire climbed off of the rock and walked towards the man. There was a pull, something about him that made her want to get that tension out of shoulders. She reached out without thinking, her right hand touching his shoulder. She walked in front of him and moved both of her hands to either side of her neck. He looked up at her.
"Hey," she said softly. She could barely think, barely breathe. It was him, "I've been looking for you."
His big hands came up to cover her own, and warmth spread up her arms. He looked up at her, moved his hands to touch her face lightly, "Where else?"
Claire moved one of her hands to rest on her stomach before placing it back on his neck. His hands gripped her sweater and pushed it up. His face looked pained, and his voice shook, "I was supposed to protect you."
Her hands moved to his hair, and grabbing a hand full she titled his head back to look at her, "Protect me now, then."
He pulled her down into his lap, and she willingly went. She buried her face into his neck and closed her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her tightly. She knew that this was strange, everything about this entire situation was abnormal, but she didn't care. Because at that moment she had found what had been looking for, what she had been waiting ten years for.
"Home," he kissed her temple, "You're home, Claire, and I'm never going let anyone lay a hand on you ever again."
Alright, so what did you think? Honestly?