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Title: Reasons to Love You
AN: This not so little drabble-turned-oneshot was written for this week's Father's Day flash fic prompt over on Tricky Raven. This idea was entirely too perfect and good to pass up, so I'm sharing it with you all here.
This was the prompt I chose (it was a quote): "You have no clue what you're doing, do you?"
This little outtake is set after the last chapter and pre-epilogue. It was supposed to be 500 words but it got out of hand quick because, well, FEELINGS. And Daddy Quil. Daddy Quil is EVERYTHING.
Also has not seen a beta. I was impatient.
On that note, hope you enjoy!
Quil was pretty sure his heart couldn't be anymore full.
At least that's what he thought until he emerged from the hallway leading from the bedroom to the living room of the home he shared with Bella. His gaze landed on Bella's seven-year-old daughter, Maddie - his stepdaughter and the little girl he'd helped raise since she was three. She was sitting on the couch, nestled in between Jacob and his wife, Anna. Her soulful, brown eyes were trained on the television, but it looked like she was ready to fall asleep.
He smiled again, probably for the hundredth time in the past twenty-four hours, as that last little bit of space in him was filled. He couldn't blame her for being worn out. He felt it, too. It had been a long night, to say the least, filled with tears and threats and more screaming than Quil had really counted on.
It will be bad, Jared had said.
Like, really bad, Sam had added. It's a home birth, so probably a lot worse than if she was in the hospital and they were giving her all those good drugs.
Don't be surprised if Bella tells you she hates you at least three times, Jake had pointed out with a raised eyebrow. Or threatens your, you know … dangly bits.
So Quil went into the birth of his and Bella's first child with his eyes wide open. Truth be told, Bella only said she hated him once, and she never even threatened his dangly bits. After twelve hours of labor, though, he probably wouldn't have remembered anyway.
And it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because their son was here. His son, who had eyes exactly like Bella and a mess of hair just like him and a scrunched up face that Quil was pretty sure he'd be content to just stare at for hours.
He was a father, and he was filled with everything that meant for his life and what it meant for his family - Bella, Maddie, and this new little boy that was in every way a part of all of them and a testament to just how much they'd been through to get to that point.
As Maddie grew older, he'd felt the rewards often associated with parenting. She wasn't his, but there was no way he could have loved her more, even if he was only a stand-in for the person who probably felt exactly the same as Quil the day she was born.
Still, Quil loved Maddie more than his own life. She got him through the loss of her father - through the loss of Embry - just as much as he did her.
But this little boy …
Quil finally understood why Embry had looked the way he did following Maddie's birth all those years ago, and why he had floated around on a cloud with a ridiculous grin on his face for weeks.
He finally understood the desperation in Embry's eyes when he spoke his last words to Quil, pleading with him to be there for her.
He finally understood - completely - how one little person held the power to change someone so fully.
Even though, in reality, one little girl had already changed him not all that long ago.
The girl's head jerked away from the television, eyes landing on Quil. Stirring from their spots, Anna and Jacob exchanged a content smile over the top of Maddie's head.
Quil didn't have to say it. Maddie knew what time it was, and it took her all but a second to clamber from her spot between Anna and her Uncle Jake, shoving her hands in the pockets of her shorts and walking purposefully toward him. Quil grinned when she reached him, and Maddie offered him a reserved, half-smile that made her look exactly like Embry.
Sometimes, when she looked at him just the right way, the resemblance was a enough to take his breath away.
The excitement for this moment pushed through Quil's veins, overshadowing that fleeting glimmer of something else. He reined it all in as best he could, lazily brushing his fingers through Maddie's fine, raven hair and remembering this moment was more hers than anyone else's.
She nodded, huffing out a deep breath. "Ready."
Quil turned first, allowing Maddie to take his hand and leading the way down the hallway to the bedroom where Bella lay with their son. Emily was in there, and so was Quil's mother. Since the baby was only a few hours old, the midwife was keeping herself occupied in the kitchen, standing by but allowing the entire family to settle in. Sue Clearwater was supposed to be dropping by later, and the other two probably weren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Reaching the door, Quil stopped when the small hand clutching two of his fingers suddenly squeezed tight.
Turning, he peered down at Maddie, who was staring back at him with wide eyes. Her death grip on his fingers didn't lessen, but she didn't say a word.
Quil released an exhale, unsure of where the little girl's hesitance stemmed from considering she had been so excited all the months leading up to this.
Regardless, if there was anything Madeline Call had taught him over the last five years, patience was a virtue he actually did possess.
That, and she was painfully shy. Sometimes, she just needed someone to ask.
Quil turned, sinking into a crouch so he just was slightly shorter than her. "What's wrong, honey?"
Maddie sniffed, glancing warily toward the door. "What if he doesn't like me?"
Smiling, Quil bit down on the inside of his lip to keep from laughing. Maddie really was the epitome of her father - soft, kindhearted, but she was always cautious, just like her mother. Still, love was something that came easy to her, and somehow, it didn't surprise Quil that the thought of the newest member of their family possibly not loving her was enough to hold her back.
"Of course he's gonna like you," Quil insisted. "You're his big sister."
"Yeah, but …" she murmured, looking down at her shoes, "what if he doesn't?"
It was one of those tough questions - the ones she sometimes asked that Quil swore parents kept answers to in a book somewhere, a book to which he was never given access. Usually, though, Bella was around to help or throw in a few words that would point him in the right direction.
But there were also times like that where it was just him and it was just Maddie and Quil had to wing it, just like he'd spent a lot of the last five years doing.
"Well …" Quil continued, taking another breath as he felt Maddie's rapt gaze focus squarely on him, "your mom loves you. Uncle Jake and Aunt Anna love you. And so does your Uncle Paul, and Sam and Jared and Seth and your Aunt Emily and Aunt Leah … and so do I." He met her enamored stare that time, offering her the small, reassuring smile he tried to save for moments like this. "If all those people love you, how could your new little brother not love you, too?"
Chewing on his answer for a second, she replied with another deep breath, which usually meant she wasn't finished. It usually meant there was another question in there somewhere, and this one sent her eyes back to her shoes.
"What if you and Mommy don't need me anymore … now that you have a baby?"
And Quil thought the first question had been hard …
This was something he had heard of - something Bella told him she'd read in one of her baby books when she was pregnant with Maddie. Still, Quil always hoped since Maddie was a little older, feeling replaced wouldn't be something she worried about … ever.
Apparently, he had been wrong, but in that moment, he somehow knew exactly what to tell her.
"Are you crazy?" Quil chuckled, placing an index finger under her chin, pushing it up so she was looking at him. "We need you, honey. I need you - always have, always will, because I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to being a dad. You've had a front-row seat for that, so you know better than anyone I'm gonna screw things up. Probably a lot, but luckily I have your mom … and I have you."
The corners of her lips pulled up, encouraging Quil as he saw the start of that small, half-smile.
"I definitely need you because you got all the best parts of your dad," he continued, watching her chew on her lower lip. "You're patient and your kind and just all-around awesome … and with the baby, I'm gonna need you big time because of those reasons. I told you I loved you, right? Well, that's why, and your little brother is gonna love you for those same reasons, too."
"You swear?" Maddie whispered, her big, brown eyes glistening.
"Cross my heart," Quil smiled, an overwhelming warmth pushing through his veins when the little girl released a beautifully blinding grin. "So, what do you say, honey?" he pressed on with a lift of his eyebrow when he realized the hard part and the questions were more than likely over. "Any advice for me before we go in there?"
Maddie's face screwed up. She thought about it, but only for second as she smiled, indicating all was right - at least in her world - before taking a step forward and wrapping her arms around Quil's neck.
"Nope," Quil heard her giggle, just before she planted a wet kiss on his cheek. "Because you're already a good dad and that's why I love you."
It didn't matter how many times he heard her say those three words - each one still knocked the breath from his lungs, especially because these came with something new. Quil could feel a foreign tightening in his throat, and he knew what it was. He never tried to replace Embry - she knew it, and he knew it - but to hear her say that maybe he'd done a good enough job to be worthy of even a comparison was enough, in that instant, to knock him right on his ass.
She was still hanging onto him when he brought a hand up behind her back, scrubbing at his eyes with the back of his knuckles. "Ugh, stop it, little girl, you're gonna make me cry."
"Happy tears are good tears," she said coyly, pulling back and gripping his face between both of her small hands. "That's what Mommy always says."
Sniffling, Quil grinned as he made a move to stand up, but not before placing his own kiss on Maddie's forehead. "Your mom's a smart lady. Why do you think she's kept me around for so long?"
"She says it's because you fix things and can get stuff on the top shelf she can't reach," Maddie retorted nonchalantly as she squeezed between Quil and the bedroom door, reaching for the handle.
Quil rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well … she's got a point there."
He barely got the words out of his mouth, though, before Maddie pushed open the door, revealing the dimly lit bedroom. While she took a step into the room in front of him, Quil's gaze immediately found Bella, who was laying propped up in their bed, pillows tucked meticulously behind her even though his mother was still working pretty hard at making sure each one was as fluffy as possible. Emily was busying herself by folding laundry in the corner of the room.
He wasn't paying attention to that, though - not really.
Like steel to a magnet, his eyes were drawn to the small, barely-squirming bundle in Bella's arms. Still, Quil could see the tufts of hair peeking out from the edge of the blanket. He could hear the tiny noises his son made in his sleep. His scent - a new scent permeating the air of the room, mixed with the familiar aroma of Bella's - was enough to once again push that potent, tangible warmth through his veins.
Fuck, it was so much. He could feel it again - that tightening in his throat, that overwhelming feeling of fullness.
But this wasn't his moment.
He had his moment hours earlier, and he would have so many more after because this was it - this was his family, something he never knew he wanted until he had it, and something he'd known for a long time he couldn't live without.
His eyes traveled up just in time to catch Bella's as she lay her head back against the pillows, letting it roll to the side just a bit. Her hair looked like it had been combed, but her cheeks were still flushed pink. It didn't matter, though. She looked relaxed - happy - just before offering him a small yet quizzical smile.
Leaning against the doorframe, he nodded, letting her know everything was fine.
Letting her know Maddie was ready.
Bella glanced down, reaching out with one hand as Maddie took one step, followed by another, toward her mother. Quil just watched, everything inside him beaming as the little girl closed the remaining distance, scrambling up onto the bed beside Bella, but taking extra care not to move too suddenly or disturb too much.
Always kind. Always thoughtful.
Quil held his breath as her knees pressed into the quilt - as Maddie leaned forward to see just as Bella reached down, pulling back the receiving blanket enough so she could see her brother's face.
He wanted to watch the baby. He wanted to watch Bella, but he couldn't, his eyes focusing intently on the little girl and the wide, proud smile spreading slowly across her lips. Everyone else had stopped what they were doing, too, gazing at Maddie as she glanced at her mother, wide eyes seeking an unspoken permission.
Bella nodded, somehow knowing exactly what her daughter was asking.
"You can touch him, honey, if you want to," Bella whispered, offering Maddie a small, trusting smile.
Maddie's face lit up, but her eyes were still cautious. They still held just a few of the reservations she voiced to Quil in the hallway as she lifted one hand from the quilt beneath her, reaching for her new baby brother.
Her small finger found his face, tracing the faintest of lines around his features. Quil could hear the baby's noises as he squirmed, his limbs stretching as far as they could beneath the swaddled blanket, a miniature arm somehow freeing itself from the material.
"He's so pretty, Mommy," Maddie breathed in disbelief.
Quil grinned, sneaking a quick glance at Bella, who was just as enamored as he with what was happening. He was confident her smile closely reflected what he felt inside, and the way her eyes sparkled was similar to how Maddie's probably looked in that moment.
Quil was pretty sure there was no way in hell anything in life could ever top this moment.
But he was wrong.
Because a handful of breathless seconds later, Maddie let her finger trace down the tiny arm her baby brother had freed from his blanket, reaching his fingers just in time for him to open them.
Just in time to close his tiny hand tightly around Maddie's finger.
Quil was wrong, because the way Maddie gasped - the way her head shot up to look at him, the way the hesitance and the questions and any lingering doubt she had was swept from her eyes - rivaled all the moments that came before it.
"He does love me," Maddie whispered, eyes wide in wonder, her voice filled with a devotion for which there were no words to describe.
Managing to tear his eyes away from Maddie and the baby, Quil found Bella's gaze just in time to catch her smile at him, silently mouthing the words I love you.
God, he knew he was still wrong - so incredibly and perfectly wrong.
What he felt earlier walking from the bedroom to the living room - what he felt minutes earlier out in the hallway, and a second ago as Maddie got to know her new baby brother - was only a fraction of the way he felt in that moment.
And he knew.
That how he felt - the fullness, the pride, the indescribable love coming from corners of his soul he didn't even know existed - was only a fraction of what was yet to come.
I just want to wrap myself up in a blanket with this Quil and never come out.
Review if you like. :)