The Truth about Quil

A/N: So, it's been a while, but here's a little fluff I wrote on my way to writing RtM. I do have a requested Embry story on the way, but my toddlers don't care that mommy wants to type up all the stuff I've scribbled in my little notebooks for the last year or so. . . but stick with me if you are still reading. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything Twilight, but rest assured, I would have treated the wolves better than their owner did.

. . .

Claire had been close to her Aunt Emily ever since she could remember. Every summer she came to stay at Emily's house for a few months: it was her favorite time of year. Especially after she turned 13. That was the year she had been told about the wolves.

It all started because of a fight she had with her mom before the trip. Her parents had been trying to talk her out of the visit all winter and spring but Claire insisted she go. She loved Emily, her husband Sam and their kids, and all of their friends. She always had so much fun with all the guys. That comment pushed her mom over the edge.

"I worry about you spending so much time with older men. It's not good and I don't want them taking advantage of a sweet girl like you."

"They aren't like that mom! They are just fun to hang out with and are always nice to me. Most of them are married or have girlfriends anyway, so stop worrying." Claire defended them.

When they got to Sam and Emily's house that year several of the guys were there waiting. Claire's dad was bothered that some weren't fully dressed and made a rude comment about leaving his daughter there.

"We'll stay for dinner, but then we are taking Claire back home with us. She's getting too old for these visits now." He said.

Claire's heart plummeted and she felt sick. She had just gotten back to the place she felt most at home, with friends and family she cared about and her parents were going to ruin everything. The panic overwhelmed her and she bolted out the door, ignoring their yells as she sprinted into the forest that surrounded the Reservation.

She wouldn't leave so soon. Not before she had time with Quil and the others. She couldn't explain to her parents how much they meant to her. They would never understand how Sam and Emily's friends felt more like family to her sometimes and how she missed them when she was home. She had even kept secret their monthly visits to her in Makah. She caught Quil and Embry near her school once when she was 9 and walking home from school with other kids. She got them to admit that they came to check on her all the time but she didn't ever see them. Then she made them promise to talk to her when they came. Her parents never knew how often she claimed to be playing with friends when she met two or three of the guys at the park so they could talk and have fun. But those visits still weren't enough and she looked forward to summer all year long for a different reason than her classmates. She couldn't wait until she reached La Push and her second home.

Claire ran through the trees and toward the rocky coastline. Her parents didn't know the area like she did. She just had to hide long enough to convince them to leave. She wouldn't be in danger though. She knew where she could be safe and be found by Quil or one of the guys. She just hoped they wouldn't turn her over to her parents to leave.

She finally reached the rocky cove she was looking for. She had taken a long way around in case Sam gave up her secret and she slowly crept around the rocks, peering over into the protected space to make sure she was alone. She gasped when down below she saw a massive brown wolf sniffling over the sand and rocks. His head rose and he looked straight at her when he heard her. She froze and just stared. The wolf watched her as well and whimpered softly. He took a step toward her and then stopped himself and sat down like a trained dog.

"Oh my gosh." She whispered.

The wolf shook his head and yipped softly at her.

"Don't eat me, big fella."

The wolf huffed, it sounded almost like laughter and he laid down on the sand, resting his head on his paws.

"You don't look so bad." She said, but still didn't move from her spot although she felt drawn toward the creature.

He rolled onto his side and back, feet in the air, tongue lolling out, looking at her upside down and she couldn't hold back a laugh. Then she saw something strange: there was a faded green cloth tied to his hind leg. Without thinking Claire came out from her hiding place and moved toward him.

"Are you stuck, big guy? Can I help you?" in a moment she was right next to him, reaching for his leg. He jumped up with a bark and bounded away from her.

"It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. but I can that thing off your leg and you'll be more comfortable." She offered, approaching him slowly with her hand outstretched. The wolf shook his head at her.

"Doesn't it hurt?"

Another shake of the head.

Claire suddenly stopped. "You're one of them aren't you? A protector from the tribal legends." She said in awe.

The wolf nodded and yipped happily.

"Are you, . . . can you turn human?" she asked.

He nodded.

"Wow." She stared at him a moment before he turned his head toward the forest. He gave her one last longing look and bounded away. She started to run after him, knowing she could never keep up, but not wanting to lose him.

"Wait!" she scrambled up the rocks and ran straight into Embry's chest.

"Whoa, Claire." He said, helping her stay on her feet.

Quil rounded a tree and joined them. "Everything okay?" he asked.

"I, I'm fine, but. . . I just. . ." she looked past them into the trees.

"What is it?" Quil asked, replacing Embry at her side and placing a protective arm around her shoulders as they began to walk.

"I thought I saw something." Disappointment coursed through her and she felt tired all of a sudden. She dropped her gaze and in her periphery saw Quil's faded green shorts and his bare feet. She gasped and looked up at him. "Quil?"

"Yeah? What is it Claire? Are you alright? Did you get hurt?"

"No. I'm okay." She shook her head, unsure if she should tell them what she saw. But then, Quil's shorts looked awfully familiar. "I was just thinking about your legends. Will there be a bonfire soon so I can hear them again?"

"Of course. We always have a few every summer. I didn't know you liked it so much." Embry said.

"How did you find me so fast?" she asked.

"I had a hunch you would go to there to hide." Quil said.

"Are they mad? My parents I mean. Do you think they'll make me leave, because I really don't want to." She looked up at Quil, begging him to help her.

He squeezed her shoulder gently and looked straight ahead. "I'll see what I can do to help you stay."

And he did. After finding her so easily he and the other guys were able to help Sam and Emily argue that they could take good care of Claire and what was the harm in letting her stay if she wanted it so badly? She was thrilled. Even better was that Sam organized a bonfire for that very weekend. Claire got her wish of hearing the legends again with the added bonus of being told everything. She was being rewarded for not telling anyone about her encounter with the wolf on the beach and protecting their secret. They confirmed that Quil was the wolf she saw among the rocks and since he was sitting next to her she turned and gave him a huge hug.

Now she had another reason to look forward to coming to visit every summer.

. . .

Claire had just turned 17 and was enjoying yet another summer in La Push. She was in the kitchen with Emily, frosting cupcakes for Jody's birthday party the next day and waiting for Quil to get off his patrol shift.

Emily asked her how things were going with her friends and social life back home.

"I'm just tired of my friends bugging me to date you know? I just don't feel the same way they do yet. Maybe I'm weird." Claire complained and licked some stray icing off of her hand.

"So you are a little different. Is that really such a bad thing?" Emily asked.

Claire shrugged. "I guess not. It's just strange when other people figure out that you are weird too. Makes it kind of hard to ignore, and then I feel even more out of it, like I don't belong."

"Have you told Quil about this? He knows a little bit about being different than most people his age."

"Yeah, I guess he would understand. Too bad I don't have some great excuse like being able to turn into a giant wolf at will like he does."

"Don't worry about it so much Claire. You have to find your path at your own speed. You don't have to give into pressures to be like everyone else. Not that I can talk really. No one around here has been very normal for a long time." Emily laughed and Claire smiled.

"So, are there any bonfires or parties coming up soon, after tomorrow that is?" Claire asked a few minutes later.

"I don't know if the boys have anything planned. You'll have to ask Quil about it."

"Naw. He'll tell me if he wants me to come. Unless for once he decides to take someone else." She muttered.

"What was that?" Emily asked.

"Has Quil ever brought someone else to one of the pack get togethers?"

"It's not my place to say. Why don't you ask him?"

"What's the fun of having girl time if we can't gossip a little? Come on Aunt Emily! Can't you give me a little dirt? I mean, I know I see him all the time, but he never mentions having a real social life. Has he ever had a girlfiend?"

"That's a conversation you should have with the man himself. Talk to Quil and ask him all of your questions. You know he doesn't hide anything from you and he'll tell you anything you ask."

"You all give me the same answers. Whenever I ask anyone anything about wolves or the pack you all just tell me to talk to Quil, like he's my very own personal guide to all this stuff. As an official friend of the pack you'd think I could get a straight answer from anyone, but apparently not. What is that about anyway? Is he like assigned to me to answer all my questions or something?" Claire's rant trailed off and her eyes got distant for a moment as she thought about what she had just said.

"Hold up a minute." Claire said softly. "I'm the only friend of the pack. Why is that?"

"What do you mean?" Emily didn't look up from the cupcake she was frosting.

"I was just thinking about the bonfires and stuff that the pack all goes to. It's always the pack members, their wives or girlfriends, and me. The only other people who go to these things outside the pack are their imprints, because they are the only ones allowed to know. . . Aunt Emily, did Quil ever imprint on someone?"

"You need to ask Quil about that. It's not my place to tell you."

"Did he imprint on me?" she stared at Emily who would not look her in the eye. "That's why I'm allowed to know everything and he is the one in charge of me. I'm Quil's imprint." As she said the words she felt the weight of truth in them. So many things became clear to her and she felt slightly dizzy with the knowledge.

Emily sat silent and serious across the table from her, shifting nervously in her seat.

Then another thought occurred to Claire. "Is there something wrong with us?" she asked in a soft, sad voice.

"What do you mean?" Emily asked in surprise, finally looking at her.

"Well, the rest of the wolves and imprints are couples. And well, Quil is the best friend anyone could ask for, so I'm not complaining, but he's never treated me like anything more. I mean, we're really close and all, but he's never acted like he was attracted to me or anything like that. So, did something go wrong?" her eyes were wide.

"Oh, no honey. Not all imprints happen the same way." Emily reached out a comforting hand and stroked her back. "I promise that there is nothing wrong with either of you, but you really should talk to Quil about this. And make sure when you do that you tell him you figured it out on your own and I didn't give it away." Emily winked at Claire with her good eye.

"Okay." Claire nodded, feeling only slightly better. What did this mean? She had been part of this secret group and never known why until now. How long ago had it happened? As she thought back, Quil had always been a part of her life. He was a playmate and brother to her when she was a child and he had become her best friend long ago. He knew her better than anyone and he had let her know about his secret in return. She had never thought deeply about why that was until now.

The door banging open made Claire jump and pulled her abruptly back into the present. She had stopped frosting the cupcake in her hand long ago and had forgotten it was even there. She guiltily went back to work, trying to quiet her heart and mind as she heard voices coming closer.

She glanced up to watch Sam walk over to Emily and kiss her scarred cheek tenderly. In a similar fashion Quil came toward her but merely placed his warm hand on her shoulder and squeezed in a familiar and comforting way.

"Are you two ladies having fun?" he asked with his familiar smile.

"Yeah." Claire answered quickly. She ducked her head to avoid eye contact with Emily and she was hyper aware of Quil's presence behind her chair. She suddenly pushed back and jumped out of her chair, heading straight for the back door. "It was fun Emily, but I gotta go. See you tomorrow." She practically yelled as she made her escape. She shook her head violently as she staggered across the yard to a low bench that backed the forest. She plopped down onto the seat and started berating herself for that awkward display. Could she be more uncoordinated? No wonder Quil wasn't attracted to her. She was young and awkward and prone to over-reactions and he was perfect. She clamped her eyes closed to keep the tears at bay and replayed his most recent entrance into Sam's house. He had moved smoothly and gracefully toward her with that unbelievably white smile of his. The white of his teeth contrasted perfectly with his warm copper skin, which was conveniently exposed since he probably forgot a shirt – again. How convenient. She thought. It lets him strut around showing off his amazing body just to make sure I remember that he is in a completely different league than me.

"Not all imprints are the same." Way to go Emily. Thanks for trying to let me down easily! She thought. But every other imprint couple could be featured in an article about how to have the perfect relationship. The pack members practically worshiped their imprints and all she could say was that she had a great best friend. No correction, the perfect best friend, who always seemed to know what she needed and when.

"Claire, are you alright?"

She jumped halfway out of her seat when she heard his deep voice. She hadn't heard him coming at all and she unclamped her closed eyes to look up into his concerned eyes. His hands were suddenly on her arms as he sat down beside her.

"Hey, I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay?" he asked again and she tried not to lose herself in his rich brown eyes.

I'm his imprint. She thought again in awe.

"Yeah, sorry." She shook her head. "I just got a little warm in there, you know? I needed some air." She glanced back at the house and saw Sam and Emily watching from the kitchen window. His arm was draped around her shoulder in their most natural stance and Claire knew that Emily had told him about her epiphany. She dragged her eyes away from them and back to her friend who was rubbing her arms and watching her. When she looked at him again he lifted a hand to brush her hair back from her face, caressing her cheek ever so briefly.

"You need double chocolate fudge ice cream." He stated simply. "I can see it in your eyes."

"That could be good." She admitted, amazed again at his ability to know her so well.

He grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet and across the yard. "I happen to have some at my house, so we can get you a big bowl and you can tell me all about your day."

Claire couldn't help but smile despite the butterflies in her stomach. What was she going to tell him? Oh, Emily and I baked and decorated cupcakes, planned her daughter's party for tomorrow, oh and I randomly figured out that you imprinted on me. So now I want to know why you can keep yourself from making out with me when the rest of the wolves can't keep their hands off their imprints most of the time. Yeah, that would go over really well.

Before she knew it Quil had placed her on a chair at his kitchen table and was scooping out two large helpings of ice cream for them and she had another thought. Would she want Quil to make out with her and act like the rest of the guys did? She had never truly considered that before. Of course she had experienced random thoughts like that about Quil because even she couldn't ignore how handsome he was. But she had never let them get past being random thoughts because he was just too important to her. Now as she watched his muscles flex as he scooped out the cold dessert across the room she realized that yes, she would like it if he pulled her into those arms and. . .

Claire shook her head and fought down the blush that threatened to bloom across her cheeks. This was definitely a new side to her feelings for Quil. She couldn't deny that they had most likely been building for some time, but she had never given them a chance to become realized until now. Now that she knew they were soul mates. Only. . . something was wrong, because her feelings were only hers and she couldn't imagine him returning them. So what was the point? She frowned as she stabbed her spoon into the chocolate ice cream Quil had just placed in front of her.

"Don't take it out on the ice cream sweetheart. It's supposed to be the cure." He chuckled as he sat down next to her. "Okay, now it's time to tell me what's going on in that head of yours."

Claire swallowed the spoonful of ice cream she had put in her mouth. "It's just people at school, some of my friends, have been giving me a hard time lately." She started. Why not let this conversation bloom as the other had?

"What about?" he prodded.

"Dating." She glanced up to see him freeze momentarily before filling his spoon again.

"What about it?" his voice sounded strained.

"Well, I just turned 17 and I still haven't had my first date yet. Most of them are on their second or third boyfriend by now and they're just giving me a hard time for being so far behind the curve."

"You don't have to do something just because everyone else is. Just ignore them." He said the last part a little more brightly.

"That's just what I've been doing for the last two years. But people are starting to notice and you can only turn so many guys down before people start to talk." She saw an opening and took it. "So, how do you handle this kind of thing?"

"Huh?" he managed around a full mouth.

"You know, since you don't date either. Don't the guys ever give you a hard time? I mean like Sam and Jared and Paul, since they're married and all. I mean, like, when's the last time you went on a date?"

"It's been a while but the guys understand." He stood up with his empty bowl and took it to the sink.

"So what's your excuse? Why don't I ever hear about your hot dates?" she pressed.

Quil turned toward her and leaned back against the counter, folding his arms across his chest. "Same as you. I'm just not interested in anyone like that."

"Oh." A light turned on. "Are you sure it isn't something else? Come on Quil, we're best friends; you can tell me."

"Tell you what?" he looked genuinely confused.

"Just admit that you're gay." She managed to say it with a straight face. After all, if he could keep secrets from her she could make him pay for it just a little.

His face went pale and then red as he began to sputter at her. "What? Well, geez, Claire, thanks a lot! I am not gay, trust me on that."

"Are you sure? I mean we could test it, do a little experiment." She stood up too and put her dish in the sink as he squirmed next to her. Feely brave she moved directly in front of him and looked in his eyes. "You could kiss me and see if you feel anything."

Quil's eyes widened with shock before he shut them and shook his head. "No Claire. No way."

"Come on, just pretend that I'm a pretty girl. . ."

"Claire! This isn't happening right now and I'll tell you why: first, you are beautiful and I won't listen to you talk about yourself that way; second, I can positively guarantee you that I am not gay; and third, when I kiss you it won't be part of some experiment or to prove something." He ticked off the reasons on his fingers as he faced her angrily.

She was frozen momentarily by his outburst. She stared into his dark eyes which burned now with a new light. She latched onto the only thing she had then.

"When? You just said 'when I kiss you', not 'if'."

Some of the fire left his eyes. "What?"

"Have you thought about kissing me?"

"What's going on with you today, Claire?"

"Answer the question. Yes or no, have you ever wanted to kiss me?"

"This is completely beside the point." He shook his head.

"Tell me."

"Why do you want to know? Why are you pushing this so hard?" he demanded as he paced across the kitchen.

"Because I need to know if we'll ever be like the rest of the imprint couples in the pack."

He whirled around to face her. "What did you say?" his voice was low and threatening.

"You heard me."

"What does this have to do with the pack?"

"This isn't about the pack, it's about us. Something went wrong with our imprint didn't it? That's why you don't love me."

All the air came out of Quil in a gusty sigh and he seemed to shrink in front of her. "You think I don't love you?"

"I know you love me, just not romantically. Not like the others love their imprints."

"I don't even know where to start. Claire, I, . . . okay. First off, why don't you tell me why you are suddenly comparing what we have to the imprint couples."

"Because imprints are the only people outside the pack who are allowed to know the secret and go to pack bonfires and parties. You always take me with you. Are you going to try to deny it?"

"No. I did imprint on you. When did you figure it out?"

"This afternoon, not long before you came back."

"And you think there is something wrong with our imprint? Why?"

"We're just friends."

"Do you want to be something more?"

"How can I answer that question Quil? If I say yes then you'll feel obligated to do something you don't want and our friendship will be destroyed. I don't want to lose you."

Quil came to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, making eye contact. "You can't lose me Claire. Listen to me for a minute. I want you to be happy. As long as you are happy I am happy. So tell me how you feel. Don't worry about other people or what you think things are supposed to be like between us. That's why I never told you about imprinting. I didn't want to force anything or make you feel like you had to live up to something you don't want. So, what do you really want? If there were no imprints, if nothing else mattered, how do you feel about me?"

Claire lifted her right hand and placed it tentatively on his chest near his heart, testing how it felt. His skin was warm and smooth and she could feel his heart thudding under her fingertips. She looked up at his face again, seeing his familiar features with new eyes. In the man before her she saw her guardian, her brother, her friend, and the man she loved. It was true. She knew it now. A million moments had all built up and led to this one fact.

Claire felt warm fingers wrap around her hand as it rested lightly over Quil's heart but she couldn't take her eyes off his face. He leaned toward her slightly, dipping his head and touching his forehead to hers. Her head spun for a moment as she felt his nearness, the heat radiating off his body to warm her. Then she tilted her head and stretched up to close the distance between them, pressing her lips to his. Quil's arms wound around her and she was enveloped in heat and their lips moved together as if they had been created for this one purpose. Claire had never imagined such complete bliss could exist for her and it left her breathless.

Quil pulled back slightly and she remembered that she was supposed to breath. She drew a ragged breath and settled her head onto his shoulder, relaxing into his embrace and the unthinkable perfection of the moment.

"I love you Claire." Quil breathed into her hair. "I'm sorry I ever let you doubt that. I'll try to make sure that misunderstanding can never happen again."