"Why are you telling me all of this, Quil?" Claire finally asked. "Why now? You've never kept being a werewolf from me. Why wouldn't you tell me about the imprint from the very beginning as well?"
"Honestly, it was because I didn't want you to think I was only staying with you as an obligation," Quil replied easily. "Just like I bet you're still thinking right now, even though it's not true. I…I guess I wanted to prove that I really wanted to spend time with you just because I wanted to. You've always been my world, Claire. All the imprinting did was make me realize it as soon as possible."
"But why now?" Claire pressed.
Quil sighed at this, finally breaking her gaze and looking out into the forest.
"You're leaving," Quil said finally, his gaze coming back to her, unable to look away for long. "I've known you since you were two years old, Claire-bear, and now you're finally grown up and leaving. I wanted you to know the whole truth before you left. I-" For the first time Quil appeared to be at a momentarily loss for words before continuing once more, "I just want you to understand that I'll always be there for you. It doesn't matter how old you get or where you go, I've always been there for you, Claire, and I always will be."
"Because I'm like the little sister you never had?" Claire asked for clarification.
"When you were little, yeah, you were," Quil agreed easily. "I'd like to think that now that you're older and we're kind of almost the same age that we're more like best friends now. We'll always be best friends, Claire. You know that, right?"
Claire simply gazed at Quil for a long moment, and now it was Quil's turn to be unable to interpret her expression.
"Since this seems to be the time for confessions," Claire began carefully, "There's something I think you should know, Quil."
"Oh?" Quil fought hard to keep the worry out of his tone as he voiced the single syllable.
Ever since he had noticed that his little Claire really was growing up, he had been preparing himself for the time when she would tell him that all she wanted of him was to be her friend forever. In recent years, he had found himself wanting more than her friendship, but he would never pressure her to change the relationship they had always had unless he knew for sure that it was what she wanted. But he'd already worried himself once today that she suddenly wasn't going to want him in her life anymore after finding the truth, and his mind couldn't help but go back to that now. Claire wouldn't do that…would she?
"The wolf," Claire said slowly, "Will be anything his imprint needs or wants him to be?"
"Yeah…" Quil replied slowly, not entirely sure where this was going.
"And everyone else's imprints," Claire continued, sounding slightly unsure of herself now, "They basically ended in true love, yeah?"
"Yeah," Quil agreed.
"And it's not like the imprint made them fall in love," She pushed on, "It just made them realize that they were pretty much perfect for each other."
"Yeah," Quil said again, nodding this time.
"Then there really is something you should know," Claire said decisively.
Now it was Quil's turn to look at Claire expectantly.
"I don't really want to be friends with you anymore," Claire informed him.
Quil froze. This was really happening. But he didn't understand. He had always been there for her. Always. Whenever she needed him, for whatever reason. He was always there. She had never appeared to have a problem with him before. What had changed? Why didn't she want him in her life anymore?
Of course Claire noticed how Quil seemed to freeze at her words. Indeed, she wasn't entirely sure that he was still breathing.
"Quil?" She questioned, nudging her shoulder against his side, as she didn't reach as high as his shoulder. Naturally, it didn't have the same effect as it would on a normal person, and she'd probably have a bruise by the end of the day, but going through the motion made her point across easily enough. "You alright?"
"Why?" He managed to gasp out.
Claire twisted her lips in a slight grimace. "You're really going to make me spell this one out for you exactly?"
"I don't understand," Was all he said.
"Well," Claire began slowly, giving the hand she was still gripping a firm squeeze, "You're kind of perfect, you know? Even though I really didn't mean to, in the beginning, I've always measured other guys against you. And, naturally, you came out on top every time. And seriously, now that I know you're basically my soul mate, what am I supposed to do? Completely change my mind about how I've come to feel about you?"
"Wait…what?" Forget everything else that had already happened in the course of this conversation, Quil had officially never been more confused about anything in his life until that moment. Over the years, he had forced himself to not even dream of this possibility; he was all about free will, after all. Was she really saying what he thought she was saying?
Claire sighed in exasperation.
"I love you, Quil," She stated. "I mean, I've pretty much always loved you, of course. Because naturally I used to think of you as a big brother, and then you were my best friend. But now I don't want to just be your friend anymore. Because I've been in love with you since I was at least fifteen."
There was really only one thing Quil could do at this announcement.
And that was when he kissed her.
Claire had been kissed before, that much was true. But never like this. This kiss put her in a daze and made her more aware of her surroundings than ever before at the same time. It was warm and soft, and so utterly Quil. It was perfect. At some point—she really didn't notice when, because her attention really was quite thoroughly occupied elsewhere—Claire ended up on Quil's lap, one hand still intertwined with his while the other ran through his hair.
"So…" Claire began tentatively, once they had broken apart several long moments later, her head leaning against his shoulder. "You were lying about that whole being my friend forever thing, then?"
Quil laughed silently and Claire could feel it vibrate throughout his whole body.
"I was just going to take what I could get," He admitted to her, "Because I'm pretty sure I've been in love with you for just as long and I know I never want to lose you. But this is so much better."
And Claire knew it was true. She loved Quil and he loved her. That was what that expression on his face had meant…the expression she had been trying to figure out for years. It was love. Quil loved her.
Quil had always loved Claire and Claire had always loved Quil. And Claire's leaving wouldn't harm that in any way. If anything, her impending departure was for the best because it had finally forced them to admit their true feelings for each other. And really, now that Quil knew Claire loved him too, he'd probably be following her to school. Quil would follow Claire anywhere.
But not because werewolves were like geese. Definitely not.