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Thicker Than Blood

Summary:
Anna Henderson and Embry Call have been best friends all their lives. When Embry starts acting strangely, Anna takes it upon herself to find out what's going on with him. What she discovers, however, is more than she could have imagined. Embry/OC


Notes:
My first attempt at a Twilight fic...Please be kind and offer constructive criticism!


1. I

Rating 4/5   Word Count 2904   Review this Chapter

The first thing that Anna Henderson noticed when she woke up was the sun. Huh, she thought with a slight smile, pulling herself into a sitting position on her bed so she could look out the window. That’s different. Then, with a giddy laugh, she swung her legs out of bed, dashed across the room to her window and flung it open. She leaned out over the sill, taking a deep breath of the cool, sweet Washington air.

"Anna!” she turned at the sound of Embry Call’s familiar voice, smiling down at her best friend.

“Hey Em!” she called back, leaning further out the window. “Nice weather, huh?” She grinned, and his wide smile matched her own. “What’s up?”

“Well, since it’s so nice out today, I was wondering if you wanted to go cliff diving with me.” He grinned enticingly up at her.

Anna laughed and glanced in the direction of the ocean. “Yeah, sure,” she agreed amicably, “Just let me get my suit on.” Embry nodded, and Anna disappeared from the window, skipping over to her dresser and opening drawers in search of her swimsuit. She found it in her jean drawer, of all places, and hurried to the bathroom to throw it on. Once she was dressed, she pulled a pair of sweats over her suit, grabbed a towel and her shoes, and then ran out the door with a quick goodbye to her aunt, who was the only other person up so far. “Hey,” she said a bit breathlessly once she was outside with Embry, “Let’s go.”

“I’m pretty sure you just broke your own speed-dressing record,” Embry laughed teasingly, poking her in the arm.

“Yeah, yeah,” she chuckled, and they walked to her garage to grab her bike. “Where’s your bike?” Anna asked Embry, noticing for the first time that he hadn’t brought it with him.

“I felt like walking,” he shrugged. “Besides, you ride that thing so slow that I’ll be able to walk right next to you.” He grinned and she punched him in the arm.

“Shut up,” she laughed, wheeling her bright yellow bike out the garage door. “I bet I can beat you there,” she challenged, swinging her leg over the frame and settling onto the seat.

“Sure,” he agreed, “but only if I gave you a head start.”

“Ha!” Anna laughed, planting her feet on the pedals and pushing off. She wheeled quickly down her driveway, laughing at Embry’s indignant “Hey!” As much as she hated to admit it, Embry had been right: she did ride her bike rather slowly. Within minutes, Embry had caught up to her, and he wasn’t even running as fast as he could. She frowned over her shoulder at him, and he grinned broadly in return. She turned back around to face the road, her face set with determination. She put on an extra burst of speed, gaining a little more ground on him. Her lead didn’t last very long, though, since the way up to the cliffs was rather steep. Finally, when Embry was almost right next to her, she stopped and laid her bike down on the hard-packed earth. “I win,” she gasped, doubling over and putting her hands on her knees.

“Sure,” Embry grinned. “But I’m the only one who’s still breathing normally.” Anna tried to swat him, but he jumped nimbly out of her way. “Fine,” he laughed. “You win.” Anna straightened up finally, and then, before Embry could react, jumped onto his back and tightened her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck.

“Carry me,” she giggled. Embry shrugged good-naturedly and grabbed a hold of her legs, just under her knees, and set off up the hill. The climb, despite Anna’s added weight, didn’t take very long, and within minutes they were at the top of the cliff. Embry set her down about twenty feet from the edge and walked over to look down while Anna stepped out of her sweats and laid them and her towel down on a dry patch of grass.

“Ready?” Embry asked with a grin, turning back to face her.

“Indubitably,” she grinned back, stepping up to the edge. Embry stripped off his shirt, leaving him in nothing but his cut-offs, and Anna couldn’t help but notice that he was rather built. She shook her head to get rid of that thought, and turned back to face the edge. “Alright,” she said, taking a deep breath and holding out her hand. Embry took it with a grin and started counting.

“One... Two...”

“Three,” Anna picked up the countdown with a grin. “Four....”

Taking a deep breath together, they shouted “Five!” and jumped.

Anna had been cliff diving many times before, but each time, she still felt that surge of apprehension and adrenaline that came with the fall. Her long, straight black hair streamed out above her like a cape. Her heart flew up into her throat, and she opened her mouth to let out an exhilarated, screaming laugh. Embry laughed as well, gripping Anna’s hand tightly. No matter how many times Anna did this, she could never stop loving that feeling of weightlessness, the sense that she was flying, and the feeling that nothing could stop her. She glanced down, and took a huge breath when she saw that she was nearly in the water. She heard Embry do the same thing, and then they submerged with a splash. As usual, she felt a momentary surge of panic, but Embry’s warm, comforting hand was there, pulling her to the surface. Her lungs started to burn, and she felt the anxiety build, but, just like every other time, her head broke the surface, and she was laughing again, the adrenaline still surging through her veins. Embry was right beside her, laughing as well, and he towed her to the beach, where they dragged themselves onto the sand and lay there on their backs, staring up at the blue sky and catching their breath.

“That was awesome!” Embry exclaimed once they could breathe again. Anna nodded her agreement and rolled on her side to face him.

“So,” she began, hating to put a damper on their perfect day, but she was dying to know. “Have you talked to Jared or Paul lately?” As she had predicted, Embry grew silent, his previously sunny face darkening like a storm cloud.

“No,” he muttered blackly, sitting up to look out at the ocean, “They’re still hanging out with Sam.” He spat the name out like poison, staring morosely out at the calm, cold water. Anna pulled herself up so that she was sitting as well, and rested her arm on Embry’s shoulder.

“Hey, it could be worse,” she whispered reassuringly. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, his look clearly saying Oh yeah? “I could be ignoring you too,” she teased, poking him lightly in the side. She was rewarded with a rumbling laugh, and she knew that the storm clouds had passed for the moment. “C’mon,” she said, standing up and holding out a hand for him to grab hold of. “Let’s go get our stuff.” Embry took the proffered hand and pulled himself up, almost dragging Anna back down to the sand. Anna laughed and threw all her strength into pulling Embry up. “God, you’re getting heavy,” she joked. Embry growled, mock-threateningly, and started after her. She shrieked in laughter and turned and ran up the beach, kicking up sand behind her. Embry caught up to her at the base of the hillside path leading to the cliff, picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder. “Hey!” she shrieked, laughing as she beat her fists against his back. “No fair!” Embry just laughed and continued up the hill. Again, it took little time to get to the cliff, but this time, when they reached the top, Embry stopped abruptly. Anna twisted and turned on his shoulder, trying to see what it was that had made him stop so suddenly. Embry set Anna down gently, and she straightened up her swimsuit, turning to see what had startled Embry so much.

“Hello, Embry, Anna.” Sam Uley was standing where their pile of clothes had been, holding them in his large hands. Jared and Paul, who were always with him, flanked him. Anna glanced at Embry to see that his hands were clenched into tight fists.

“What do you want?” Embry asked through clenched teeth.

“We’re just cliff diving,” Sam said softly, holding out Anna and Embry’s clothes like a peace offering. When Embry made no move to take them, Anna stepped forward and took them from Sam’s hands. She met his eyes briefly, and the look in them was kind, almost sympathetic. She smiled slightly before turning to rejoin Embry. She handed him his shirt, and he pulled it on quickly while she stepped into her pants. Sam and his “gang” had been watching them the whole time, and Anna found their sympathetic, knowing looks a little unnerving. “We’ll see you later, Embry,” Sam said, and it sounded almost like a promise. Embry grunted, then nudged Anna’s arm, turning his back to the group of boys.

“Let’s go,” he mumbled. Anna nodded and, with one last look at Sam’s gang, jumped on Embry’s back and the two of them set off down the hill. Embry set Anna down by her bike at the bottom, and then turned to stare at the ocean. “Why do they bug me so much?” he asked rhetorically, his back to Anna. Anna sighed and went to wrap her arms around Embry’s waist without saying anything. She knew from experience that when he got like that, it was best not to say anything for a while. Embry wrapped his own arms around her shoulders, and they stood silently for a few moments. “They stare at me like...like they know something. Like they’re expecting me to do something,” Embry said finally, sounding more frustrated than she had ever heard him sound.

“I know,” Anna sighed, tightening her hold on him. “Just ignore them, though. It’ll be fine.” He didn’t answer, so she unwrapped her arms and grabbed his hand, dragging him back to where her bike lay at the beginning of the path. “C’mon,” she said with a smile. “Let’s go see how far Jake’s gotten on his car.” Embry smiled slightly at her attempt to cheer him up.

“Alright,” he agreed, and waited patiently as Anna got on her bike and turned to face the direction of Jacob Black’s house. “I bet I could beat you there,” Embry teased, pulling on the ends of her wet hair.

“Whatever,” Anna laughed, pleased that her friend was back to normal.

-:-:-:-

Jacob was, as usual, in his garage with Bella Swan, whom Anna had never really talked to. Quil Ateara was also there, sitting on Jacob’s tool bench and chatting animatedly with Bella. All three of them looked up when Embry and Anna entered, and they were greeted warmly. Anna went to sit with Bella on the hood of Jacob’s Rabbit while Embry went to talk cars with the boys.

“Do you understand any of this?” Anna asked Bella after a few minutes of listening to the boys babble in “car.”

“Not a bit,” Bella chuckled, observing Jacob tenderly. Anna studied her for a moment, taking in her rather haggard appearance. Although it had been nearly a month since Bella had started hanging out with Jacob, she still had a shadow of the numbed, horrified girl that Sam Uley had found in the forest the day the Cullens had left. Anna glanced away quickly before Bella could notice her scrutiny, and turned back to look at Embry, Jacob, and Quil.

Embry and Anna were at Jacob’s house for nearly two hours before Embry started complaining about not feeling well. Anna immediately jumped down from the hood of the Rabbit and reached up on her tiptoes to feel Embry’s forehead.

“Jeez Em!” she exclaimed, pulling her hand back sharply. “You’re burning up!” Even his arm felt hot when she reached down to grab his hand and pull him out of the garage. It was only when they were out in the cool semi-dark that Anna remembered that they had walked there from the beach. And, judging by his appearance, there was no way that Embry could walk all the way to his house from Jacob’s. “Bella,” Anna called, turning back to the garage while keeping a firm grip on Embry’s hand. “Would you be willing to give us a ride to Embry’s house, please?”

“Sure,” Bella agreed, looking almost as concerned as Anna felt. “It’s probably time for me to go cook dinner for Charlie, anyways.” She hopped off the hood of the car and dug through her pocket for her keys. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Jake,” she promised, then turned and led Anna and Embry to her ancient truck, that Anna vaguely remembered used to belong to Jacob’s dad, Billy. “Throw your bike in the back,” Bella said, motioning to where Anna’s bike lay, all but forgotten, by the short driveway. Anna nodded and, once she had made sure that Embry was safely in the cab, helped Bella haul her bike into the bed. Once that was done, Anna climbed in the cab and onto Embry’s lap, since the truck was much too small for all three of them to fit comfortably side-by-side on the seat.

The ride to Embry’s house seemed to take forever, with Anna reaching up every few seconds to feel Embry’s burning face.

“Anna, it’s okay,” Embry finally said after the fifth or sixth time she had done that. He looked amused but ill at the same time, obviously not as all right as he would have her believe.

“Sorry,” she laughed slightly. “It’s just that you’re way too hot.” Both Bella and Embry chuckled at that, and Anna felt her face flush. “You know what I mean,” she mumbled, turning her face into Embry’s chest to hide her flaming cheeks.

“Turn here,” Embry chuckled, the sound rather strangled as he gave Bella directions to his house. Anna glanced up anxiously, her embarrassment forgotten at Embry’s pained tone. Embry glanced down at her and gave her a wan smile. “I’ll be fine,” he whispered. “I’m sure it’s just the stomach flu.” He glanced up, out the windshield. “That’s my house,” he told Bella, glancing at the small green house to their right. Bella nodded and turned into his driveway, stopping right at his front porch. “Thanks, Bella.” Anna hopped out of the truck and turned quickly to make sure Embry didn’t hurt himself. “I’m fine,” Embry said, seeming to sense Anna’s unspoken question. Anna nodded reluctantly, and then walked to the back of the truck to help Bella get her bike out of the bed. Once the bike was on the ground and out of the way of the truck’s tires, Anna jogged quickly into Embry’s house, waving a hasty goodbye to Bella over her shoulder.

“Hey Anna,” Carol, Embry’s mom, greeted her. “Embry just went to his room. He’s not looking so good.” Anna smiled briefly.

“Yeah, he was fine this morning, but just a few minutes ago, at Jake’s, he started complaining about not feeling well.” Carol nodded, noticing Anna’s anxious glances in the direction of Embry’s room.

“Go ahead. I’ll bring him some soup. Do you want anything?”

“No thanks,” Anna called over her shoulder, already halfway down the short hall to Embry’s room. She opened the door hesitantly; poking her head in to make sure Embry was decent. He was on his bed, fully clothes on top of his covers, his arm covering his face. “Hey,” she said softly, stepping in and sitting on the edge of his bed. “Your mom’s bringing soup for you.”

“Thanks,” he croaked, his voice sounding much worse than just a few moments before. “Hey, I hate to kick you out, but you should probably go so you don’t get sick, too.” He smiled up at her weakly.

“Yeah,” Anna agreed reluctantly. She put her hand on his forehead one more time, frowning as she felt the tremendous heat radiating from his skin. “Maybe you should go to the doctor,” she suggested. Embry nodded, and Anna stood up to leave. “I’ll see you later,” she promised. “Promise you’ll call me, or have your mom call me, if you get any worse.”

“Promise,” he chuckled. Anna nodded, satisfied for the moment, bent down to plant a kiss on his forehead, then left, closing his door behind him. She stopped by the kitchen on her way out to talk to Carol. “His fever’s gotten worse,” she reported, leaning up against the kitchen doorframe. “I made him promise to call me if you have to take him to the doctor.” Carol smiled and nodded.

“All right, Anna,” she agreed, ladling the chicken noodle soup into a large bowl. “Thanks for taking such good care of him.”

“No problem,” Anna smiled, standing up straight and heading for the front door. “See you later, mom.” She had been calling Carol “mom” for as long as she could remember.

“Bye, hon. Oh, and tell your aunt I said hi, and that she should come over for lunch once Embry’s better.”

“Sure,” Anna agreed, then waved goodbye one more time before heading out the door and mounting her bike.