A/N: Okay, so this is my first story on here, letting people I don't know read it ever. Please, don't send me running for the hills. If it is bad be kind of gentle. It's actually complete but I'll probably take any feedback I get into consideration and revise/edit as I go. Thanks. :)
"Qwil, why awar you sad?"
Quil Ateara plastered on a smile for the three-year-old beside him. "I'm not sad at all, Claire Bear."
The little girl pushed herself up on her knees on the couch and looked at him with her searching mahogany eyes. They narrowed suspiciously and she put her little hands on her hips. Nodding she rebutted, "Yes you awar. I know betause you awar bad at wying. Unca Emby says so aawl da time. And we watching Tawazan. You aways laugh when I sing da song. You didn't laugh this time and you didn't laugh at da monkey. Dere's somefing wrong. Tewl me. Peeeease Qwil."
Her little smile that managed to take up half her face almost made him break. Whenever she did this to him, he couldn't get over how insightful she was at three. It was ridiculous. It must be a chick thing because he was still working on figuring out when Leah was mad at him and just being her normal crabby self. But he couldn't fold this time. He just tried to take some of the happiness he got at how cute she was and put it into his smile. "I promise Claire, I'm ok. I'm just tired. Watch the rest of the movie."
Looking at him a moment longer, she smiled again, "Ok. But Qwil go sweep." One of her little hands started pushing on his face until he was lying down on the couch. He laughed and tickled her. Her high squeal-like giggle pierced the air and she tried to get to his sides to tickle him back. One of their famous Quil vs. Claire where Claire always wins despite being ten weight classes below Quil fights ensued.
Claire fell asleep sucking her thumb not long after. Their wrestling matches always tired her out. She used the pillow for a bit but soon latched onto his arm instead. Quil looked down at her angelic cuteness and sighed. He knew he should take her back to Emily's. After about eight she would start getting worried. It was a little after 7:30 but he didn't want to give her up yet.
To an outsider, he knew it probably looked creepy—a seventeen-year-old spending all of his free time babysitting a three-year-old. A few months ago he'd have thought it weird too. But he didn't love her that way. There was a feeling in the way back of his mind that maybe someday but there was nothing even remotely romantic now. Now that would have been creepy. No, he was just, as Jacob so aptly put it, the much-abused nanny. He was perfectly fine with that role. As long as he was with her.
Claire was kind of like oxygen. She was that great, head-clearing breeze that you got right down by the water. She made you smile. When he wasn't with Claire it was like he was on top of a mountain. He was still alive; there was a little oxygen, but little enough that you got a headache. He wanted to get his fill of oxygen while he could.
Reluctantly, he picked her up and slipped one of the four green rocks she'd made him find then had given to him as a present into her little backpack. Wrapping her coat around her, he went out the door to walk the half a mile or so to Emily's. He didn't know how he was going to do this.
Emily had accidentally let it slip to Claire's mom that she hadn't been the one doing most of the babysitting. Claire's mom, originally just thankful for the cheap labor being a single mom, didn't know Quil and so that naturally made her freak a bit. But Emily had explained it away. It wasn't until Claire began talking about Quil as much as she did and she mentioned 'Qwil and Unca Emby and Unca Jake turning into woofs that went oooouuuuuu' did she really freak. Emily didn't know what exactly to tell her. There were no rules on how to break the 'yeah, hey, I'm a werewolf of sorts' news to an imprint's parents when she was that young.
Seeing that Claire and her mother were both Makah, close relatives with the Quileutes, Emily had decided on the truth. She figured that Claire's mother would know the stories and after initial shock be ok with it, like she had been. Turned out that Claire's mom was not so accepting of the semi-feral wolf-boy watching her daughter because he had a soul mate connection to her. Now, Claire's mom had made her decision.
She was taking Claire and moving across the country and threatened to blab if she saw hide or hair of Quil or any of the others. She was going to make them disappear so Claire would forget all about him.
That was how Quil had met Claire's mom. He was bringing Claire back to Emily's before going out to meet Sam in the woods for a patrol. He heard the screaming before they got through the door. Claire had looked up from where she held his hand walking. Her eyes were scared and she immediately hugged his leg. She didn't like any fighting except for her and the guys' play fighting. She had whispered, "I tink dat's my mommy."
He retook her hand and convinced her to keep going. As they entered the room, her mom's eyes darted from Emily to him. They immediately narrowed and had he not been practically invulnerable from harm he would have feared for his life. She ran forward and snatched her daughter, ignoring the protests coming from the child. "Stay away from her!" she screamed at him.
With that she had grabbed the waiting bag he held out for her with all of Claire's stuff and stomped out of the house. He looked to Emily with questioning eyes and she explained. He felt like his sun had just been extinguished. She reached forward and gave him a warm hug, tears running down her scarred face as she apologized, "I'm so sorry, Quil. I shouldn't have told her. I'm sorry."
He hugged her back, telling her it was ok. Then he went outside. He stripped off his clothes and for a split second phased. "Sam, please don't make me go today," he begged, letting a bit of the conversation leak to Sam. He didn't wait for a response before phasing back. He didn't want them all to get to watch this movie of his thoughts just yet. He didn't want them to know how pathetic he was and how he felt like just going off in a corner and sobbing.
Somehow Emily had managed to convince Claire's mom to let Claire stay a weekend with her before they left a week later. The woman protested that she wasn't mad at Emily. That 'freak' just couldn't get near her daughter. Emily had vehemently assured her that wouldn't happen. As soon as she dropped Claire off, Emily drove the girl to Quil's house.
Emily was claiming her the last day, well they were all going to spend time with the little girl but she gave Quil that entire day. And now as he walked back, the day was ending. His last day with Claire. How in the hell was he going to live without her? Emily gave him a sad smile as she took the sleeping girl. Sam came up behind her and motioned for Quil to come in.
Quil and the others were always welcome without any motion needed but Quil was on autopilot. He needed nudging and prodding just to eat, unless Claire was around. As soon as Emily had taken her upstairs, Sam questioned, "How're you doing?"
Quil shrugged, not answering. He didn't exactly know how to answer.
Sam nodded, "Yeah, I guess I'd probably be like that, too. Hey, just making sure, you're not mad at Emily for this or anything are you? You know she's really sorry. She completely blames herself."
Quil shook his head; a bit shocked Sam would even think so. Then again, Quil hadn't phased in that week either so Sam wouldn't know for sure. "No, no not at all. I know she didn't do it on purpose or anything. It was going to have to happen sometime, I guess. I just…I wish she would understand. She looked at me like I was a child molester or something."
He got a sympathetic nod, "Yeah, I guess not everybody can be as good with weird as we are."
Quil didn't dare let Claire's mom see him around when she came to pick up her daughter. He hid in the woods, a wolf for the first time in that week. He didn't hear any of the others' voices so they were all apparently staying human for him. He was grateful. Claire didn't know what was going on. She hugged Emily like she would any other time she left but then his heightened hearing caught her next words.
"But mommy, wherew's Qwil. I say bye to him. Mommy!" Her mom didn't answer and instead just picked her up and carted her to the car. The little girl looked frantically around, "Qwil! Qwil! QWIL!" She was still yelling his name as the door cut off her. He ran alongside the car, staying out of sight. The others heard a far-off howl fifteen minutes later.
Sam sighed, "We won't run a patrol tonight. Let him be." He hugged the now sobbing Emily.
Claire woke up in her car seat. She asked happily, forgetting her annoyance from yesterday, "Awar we going to Emily's?"
"No baby, you're never going over there again. Mommy and you are moving. We're going to a place called Maryland. It's far, far away. Won't that be fun?" She smiled at the toddler in her rear view mirror.
Claire frowned, "No. I want Qwil and Emiwy and Unca Sam and Emby and Jake and Sef and Jayred and Pawl."
"No, honey. You're not going to see them again. Mommy isn't going to let them get you. Never again. It's for your own good."
Claire looked at her with her big, little girl eyes, confusion clouding them. She didn't understand. Why? Why were they going away? Never? She didn't like the sound of never. Qwil was her best friend. How could she go away forever? Her little hands began searching for something to hold. She grabbed her backpack and rummaged around. She found one of the green rocks.
Her bottom lip began to tremble. Qwil had gotten those for her. She began to cry. At first tears just slid down her face but then she began full force, echo through the car, tantrum-worthy crying.