A/N: So, I might have been peer pressured into writing a Quil x Embry (Quimbry we decided on the name) fanfic by my unhinged friends in our jxb group chat. I had offhandedly commented that I hated Smeyers weird imprinting, and how it would have been much better for Quil and Embry to just be a couple instead, and well… the idea just kind of snowballed from there. Now all of us are delusionally obsessed with the pairing, so I'm here to write it. I'm not sure how many chapters this fic will be, by the way. I haven't written a fanfic in nearly a decade. We're fueling this based on pure abstract vibes, and spite, and a little projection (as a treat). Yes, this will be canon divergent. Yes, this will get really gay gay homosexual gay. This fic will also feature some Jacob x Bella in later chapters, and possibly some Sam x Emily, Jared x Kim, as well as the wolf pack in general. Also, I don't feel this needs to be said, but if this isn't your cup of tea, just move along, no need to comment etc. Thanks to those of you that fueled this, you know who you are lol
Splashing, the sound of water sloshing in puddles caused from yesterday's rainfall, as they were ran through by the worn down sneakers of two teenage boys that were at present racing toward the only convenience store the reservation had to offer: Lonesome Creek.
"I'll race you," Quil had offered with a teasing smile, and Embry had stupidly agreed, never quite able to refuse him.
Which was now how he found himself, trailing just behind, a little out of breath and sucking in the warm air of the coast. It wasn't that Quil had simply been faster, of course not. He had just gotten a head start, beginning the race before he had even yelled so much as a "go!" Typical Quil.
"You can slow down, you know!" Embry had called ahead, as he watched Quil relent, come to a half jog that then turned into a walk. He came to his friend's side, now, moving his head and watching as a smile stretched his slightly chapped lips. Their relative plumpness, shade like the delicate bell shaped flowers that bloomed on wild mint around river banks, the defined bow of his upper lip like a valley. Stop staring. Embry tore his eyes away, focusing ahead once more.
"It's not my fault you're slow," Quil laughed, the sound like a gush of wind on a blistering summer day. At least, Embry thought so. Truth be told, he thought Quil might have the nicest sounding laugh he had ever heard… or voice, or face, or— "but I couldn't just let you win, you know that," he interrupted Embry's thoughts then, turning his head to flash a smile. Just as quickly as Quil had glanced his way, he turned back again, the rundown white frame of Lonesome Creek appearing now in the distance as they continued their leisurely pace down the road. The sky was darkening grey, clouds beginning to swallow the sun, air a mild temperature and still sticky from the prior downpour.
Quil had laughed again, mostly to himself, and Embry's heart swooped. He thought absentmindedly whether he was sweating out of nervousness, or if the sticky feeling enveloping his body really was just from the shower that came down upon La Push yesterday evening.
As they reached the door, Quil pulled the handle, a bell chiming above their heads signaling their entry. An Open sign flickered with life in the window, reflecting vibrant blue and red on the glass.
"After you," he gave a mock bow, one hand offered palm up.
"Such a gentleman."
Embry couldn't help the the snort he let out, as he dipped into the store. He was positive his cheeks were set aflame, and told himself not to think anything of the gesture. Leave it to Quil to make a show of this; it wasn't like they were here to get their hands on whatever alcohol they could hide in their jackets, or anything. It wasn't like the pair made a habit of this, it was more a… spur of the moment decision, mostly Quil's suggestion. Embry told himself it wasn't weird that they were wearing heavy jackets, despite the warmth, and if the woman at the counter thought it odd, she didn't give a sign. The elderly clerk at the front register only gave the boys a curt nod, before resuming the reading of her magazine laying open on the counter top. Embry took note of her greying hair in braids, her dark eyes that looked them over before losing interest, seeing they were just kids.
The canopy LED lights gave slight flickers now and again, as the boys made their way to the cooler section at the back of the store. People from the reservation flittered about the isles, searching for groceries or looking through the limited clothing the store held, like t-shirts offered in various colors. Embry sauntered over to the back isle where chips and candies were stocked on the shelves, brown eyes flicking around the store, taking note of other shopper's locations. He turned his head back to Quil, who was waiting by one of the cooler doors where different alcoholic brands were stashed in slots. He gave a little nod, and at that, Quil turned and opened the cooler soundlessly. Embry watched him out of the corner of his eye, before turning his attention back to the front register. The older woman hadn't so much as looked up from her magazine.
He could hear glass bottles clinking, and his eyes traveled back to Quil who was stuffing numerous Colt 45 malt liquors in his puffy rain jacket. Embry made a face of disgust, and a noise almost like a whine left his throat and died in his mouth. Cant he pick something better? Quil, who was zipping his jacket now, shrugged as if to say deal with it. As Quil made his way over to Embry, he was surprised to hear that the glass didn't clink together in its less than ideal packaging; but what were they to do? Being only 16 did not give them many options.
"All the other kids do it," Quil had told him, until eventually, Embry caved. It'll be fun, he said.
"Sorry, Bry," Quil offered a little smile as he said a shortened version of his name, the corner of his mouth pulled upward, dark brown eyes swimming with mischief and something Embry couldn't decipher. His hair was curly and frizzed from the weather under the beanie he had pulled over most of it, ringlets laid atop his forehead, and when his eyebrows raised in a wider full-toothed grin, they disappeared under the dark locks that rest there. "They don't have much to choose from. Let's get outta here."
The pair made their way back toward the front of the store, attempting to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible, weaving past some customers stopped in front of the canned goods section. Embry had his hand on the door handle, the bell chiming to announce their exit, when the clerk spoke.
"Quil," she called, and the shorter teen visibly cringed as he turned to look at her.
"Yeah?" He hoped his voice didn't sound as nervous to her as it had coming out of his throat.
Embry stood rigid beside him now, tucking his long black hair behind his ears in a nervous habit he had had since he was a little boy. Quil didn't have to look to take notice of it, now, with all the years spent at his side. The cool air pumping through the store felt suffocating as they stood by the door half ajar, scared they had been caught despite Embry acting as look out. Oh no, she knows, she knows, she-
"I haven't seen you in forever," Theresa's voice was worn soft with age, "you've grown so much, I almost didn't recognize you."
Quil let out a strained laugh, nothing like the airy and relaxed kind he reserved for Embry, and reached up to rub the back of his neck in an uneasy fidget. He went to open his mouth in reply, but Theresa had cut him off, by then.
"Tell Joy to give a call, sometime? Your grandfather, too," she asked, offering a smile, before turning back to her reading.
Embry visibly let out a breath he didn't realize he had been holding, as he pushed the door open fully now, Quil following behind him as if pulled by invisible string.
"Will do, Mrs. Roberts," he called as they made their leave. If she heard Quil's words, she made no reply, not even so much as a glance up as they practically burst out of the store, jogging away in a fit of laughter.
The sky had grown darker still with the sun dipping low, and a slight breeze accompanied it that hadn't been there on their way to Lonesome Creek. It fluttered Embry's long, inky hair about, 'round the curve of his jaw and over the high plains of his cheeks, the straight line of his nose. His brown almond shaped eyes looked down at Quil from a couple inches of difference in height like he was peering right into his soul, and then just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone again. Replaced now was a mischievous grin of his own, and Quil couldn't help but glance down at his teeth and the slight dimple of his chin, and if he thought Embry was beautiful, he made no mention of it anywhere but in his own mind. A place no one would ever hear, see, know.
"Seriously, Bry, I'm no good at it."
"I can help you with it tomorrow," Embry brought the bottle back to his lips and took a swig. The malt liquor was bitter and burning down his throat, and he wasn't sure whether it was the worst thing he had ever tasted or not. Still, a warmth was spreading in his stomach and up to his face, flushing his copper-like skin.
"Good, 'cause I'd be failing math without you," Quil laughed, rich and deep from within his chest as he stared out at the waves that lapped at the shore of the beach they sat at. "You're way smarter than I am at that stuff."
They had already downed two of the bottles Quil had stuffed into his puffy jacket, now tossed aside along with the article of clothing on the granules of sand. It was the end of a Friday, and they planned to spend the whole weekend together, had been planning it since Monday. Embry told himself the alcohol was the only reason his cheeks were burning hot. After all, he had never drank before—neither of them had, 'till now. He was starting to think this had been a bad idea…
"You're smart," he countered, "just shit at geometry." Embry stole a glance at Quil who was already looking at him, and at that, they both began laughing. "Sorry, man, it's true."
They had wasted around the rest of their day sprawled on the sand littered with stones and driftwood at First Beach, talking about nothing, talking about everything. Quil had taken it upon himself to chase Embry around when they first arrived, trying to put wet clumps of sand down the back of his shirt, all the while Embry let out shrill screams, the two of them running around in an oval-like shape before eventually calling a truce. So now they sat by the shore line, tired and chasing a buzz.
It wasn't that Embry didn't want to be around Quil, but he was always a little afraid he might end up saying or doing something that gave him away. They had spent their whole childhoods growing up together, along with Jake. Though Jacob was their close friend, it had dawned on Embry a few years back that he had felt a little more than just friendship for Quil. Jake was a welcomed distraction, but well, he spent most of his time with Bella now. Embry had denied it for a long time, longer than he would like to admit, even before he was aware that he was in love with someone he would never be allowed to have, let alone someone who could feel the same. Even with this knowledge at the constant front of his mind, it didn't stop Quil from lighting a fire in his soul every time he caught his eyes or offered a rich laugh, or a whimsy smile, like right now; correction, it didn't stop Embry from allowing it. If Embry wanted to allow himself to dream, he could just pretend they were together, in the safety and seclusion of his own mind. Here, on the beach, slightly tipsy from a first drink, the heat of Quil's body scorching into his side. Perhaps in his fantasies, he'd be bold enough to lean over and interlace their fingers, sure they would fit so well together, perfect pieces of a puzzle. Maybe if he was daring enough, he'd even be brave enough to kiss him, feel his lips warm, eager and pliant on his own.
Instead, he brought the cold glass rim of his bottle back to his mouth, downed the rest of the bitter liquid within.
"We should head back," Quil spoke after a moment, turning to face Embry now, watching the cloud covered sunlight die on the plains of his dark skin that grew darker now still in the dimming light of day. A flash of lightning lit up the sky, set his dark eyes ablaze.
He hadn't meant the response to sound so bitter coming from his lips, and he blinked at the sea's horizon, willing away his daydreams.
"Let's go, then," Embry offered instead, hoping his tone sounded softer. He offered a smile for good measure, standing.
Together they took up their discarded bottles and jackets, and as they walked (more like found themselves swaying in a lightweight haze), there was a faint clapping of thunder. Embry tilted his head up toward the darkening sky, and that was when the first raindrop splashed on the high rise of his cheek bone, and then another, and another. It seemed to wash away whatever bitterness he had been harboring minutes ago.
"Race you back to my place?"
Quil was looking at him again with that mischievous glint in his eyes, and then without warning, took off in the direction of the Ateara house.
"Quil! Get back here, you bastard!"
Embry had tried to sound stern, but his voice came out bubbly with laughter and high pitched, as he chased after his best friend in the nearly approaching night. He heard Quil's booming laugh ahead, only a few paces, could make out the silhouette of his slightly shorter but broader frame as he dashed under a slight drizzle of rain that would soon turn to a complete downpour. Their sneakers splashed through dirt turned to mud, hollering and giggling as they made their way from the beach and toward Quil's family home, small and quaint and familiar.
They barreled up the stairs of the porch as the rain began to come down hard on the roof, and Embry was starting to feel a bit woozy and hot as he kicked his dirty shoes off by the front door. Quil took hold of his bicep with one arm, putting a finger over his own lips to shh them both.
"We gotta be quiet," he half whispered, as he turned the doorknob to let them in, knowing his mother had kept it unlocked for when they came home. The house was quiet and still; Joy and Old Quil must have already turned in for the night. Embry moved into the foyer first, as Quil left his sneakers by the door beside Embry's. Together they moved as silently as possible, or rather as silently as two teenagers both growing taller in height than the average kid could manage. The floorboards creaked under their weight as they got to the staircase to head toward Quil's bedroom. Quil was holding Embry by the back of his slightly dampened shirt, which Embry in his dazed stupor hadn't even realized until they came halfway up the stairs, where he tripped over his own feet. He was starting to feel light headed, and wondered if he was more drunk than he previously thought.
Quil giggled behind him, pulling him back up, and Embry couldn't help but giggle with him. For a moment, just a fleeting one that would be easily missed, it was like they were ten year olds again sneaking to and from the kitchen in the middle of the night, on the hunt for something sweet.
"Get up, dumbass."
Embry giggled at that, too, gripping the railing as they continued their journey upward. Why is everything so funny?
"Shut up, idiot." His words sounded kind of slurred on his tongue, but he couldn't be completely sure now, head spinning.
Somehow, they managed to make it to Quil's room without incident or waking the sleeping adults, who would undoubtedly be able to tell they had been doing something, what with their constant giggles and swaying, unstable feet on the hardwood.
Embry heard Quil shut the door with a soft click, as he sat on the bed and then fell back horizontal along its width. His eyelids were heavy, as he stared up at the ceiling, tracing its popcorn painted texture with his dark eyes. He felt the mattress dip with Quil's weight, could feel his eyes on him, watching. For what, he didn't know, couldn't think.
"Are you tired?"
Quil's voice sounded far away, but when Embry turned his head to look at him, he was sitting right by his shoulder, peering down at him, skin a shade lighter than his own flushed from the run or the alcohol, Embry didn't know. He had removed his beanie, dark brown hair tousled around his head in a messy mop. The light of the room caught its natural highlights, made strands of it seem to almost glow under its illumination. Embry could have stayed there, staring up at him forever, if he'd have him.
Everything seemed a bit hard to focus on aside from Quil, whom he noted was a bit close. Embry felt dizzy, unusually hot like a fire had been stoked in the pit of his stomach.
"I asked if you were tired," Quil repeated, tilting his head as he did so as if to observe him for the first time.
Embry lifted himself up on his elbows slowly, blinking hard and slow, trying to focus on the texture of the soft yellow walls of Quil's room, rather than the boy next to him. He ran his hand along the quilt that was draped across the bed, its green squared cloth pattern soft and faded from sleepovers, washed and rewashed countless times over the years. His heart beat was growing rapid as he sat up fully, now.
"It's really warm in here," was all Embry supplied, tone lame.
Quil's brows furrowed at this, and without hesitation, he brought his palm up to feel Embry's forehead. It was scorching hot, almost unnaturally so.
"You're burning up, Bry," his voice was soft, quiet and laced with worry, eyebrows still drawn close together in thought, "I think you're getting sick." He removed his hand from Embry's forehead to replace it on his cheek, finding his whole face seemed to burn like a furnace.
Quil hadn't even noticed Embry staring at him as he went about checking the temperature of his skin, but meeting his eyes seemed to hold him, right there in that fleeting second. He thought for a moment, that it felt like drowning. Embry covered the hand that Quil had caressed on his cheek with his own. It was a moment of stillness then, the sound of rain beating down on the roof, the wind against the glass of his bedroom window, Embry leaning in toward him. Is this happening? This can't be happening?!
His brain was quick to ask rapid fire questions, because this? This was uncharted territory he was about to step into. Every logical part of him instructed him to pull back, take back his hand Embry had trapped under his own, play it off like it didn't mean anything. Despite himself, he felt his body relax and lean as if to meet Embry halfway, as if pulled by invisible string. Quil's round eyes fluttered closed, another faint clap of thunder, a beat, and then-
Then Embry was practically jumping up from the bed, knocking shoulders with Quil, as if it pained him to remain there for one more second. Quil's eyes shot open at the sudden movement, watching Embry pacing like in a panic across his bedroom carpet.
"I need to, uh," Embry brought his now shaking hands up to tuck his long hair behind his ears, run them over his face, "I need to get out of here."
What the hell just happened?
Quil made a strange noise as if to protest, but Embry was already bounding toward the door, now. At this, Quil got up from his place on the bed, crossing the room in a state of confusion and worry, both at Embry's state of discomfort and what had just transpired. A pit of dread was beginning to form in his stomach. What if I read that all wrong?
"What are you talking about, Bry? You can't just leave," Quil started, grasping at Embry's forearms. He could feel the skin scorching even through the fabric of the black long sleeved shirt he wore.
Embry didn't respond, just flicked his eyes from Quil and back to the bedroom door again, restless, uneasy, scared.
"It's raining," Quil offered, hoping he sounded calm, "and it's late—it's dark out."
His voice was strained, teetering on desperate, scared perhaps he had just ruined something, ruined their friendship. I just tried to kiss him, of course he wants to leave! But didn't he—?
"You can stay the night, Bry. It's pouring out there."
Embry started to shake his head, tearing his arms from Quil's grasp. He bolted for the door, and out into the hall. Quill followed as Embry began rushing down the stairs of the small house, not careful now of the noise, not even thinking of it. Before Embry could dash right out the front door, Quil grabbed for him again, right at the wrist.
"Bry, please, just stay. I'm really sorry, just—" he paused, trying to think of something to suffice, "I'm sorry if I made things weird just now. I didn't mean to! We can just pretend it never happened, okay?" Quil hadn't realized he was nearly crying until he felt the prick at his eyes. "I can sleep on the floor." Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why'd you do that?!
"I'm sorry, I—" Embry's eyes were wild, not even glancing at him. He ripped open the front door, the rain falling violently in a slant, "I just need to go home."
Before Quil could so much as utter another word, make another move to stop him, Embry had torn himself away and bolted right out the door, out into the cool rain, the seemingly endless night. Quil didn't know how long he had stood there with the door wide open, trying to process everything, trying to reason with himself that he hadn't just completely ruined the most important relationship he had aside from blood. He had a feeling, a dreadful one, that nothing was going to be the same, now.
He glanced down at his feet. Embry hadn't so much as taken his sneakers, still left at the door where he'd kicked them off.