Embry

(Transformed January)

"There's nothing to do here. Why does La Push suck? Why does this garage suck? I'm so sick of doing nothing. If I have to sit here being bored for one more afternoon of my short life, just wasting away-"

"If I have to spend one more afternoon listening to you whine like a little girl, I'm gonna kick your ass," Embry snapped, tossing a piece of licorice at his friend Quil.

Quil caught it midair, pausing before he took a bite to glare maliciously at his friend.

"Ha-ha…" he said sarcastically. "Shit, I'm even sick of this licorice. How long has this stuff been in here?"

"It was your idea to get it at the hardware store," Jacob snapped at them from under the hood of the Rabbit.

"Well it was three bucks for a whole bin! What was I supposed to do?" Quil snapped, ripping off another bite with his teeth. Jacob just shook his head and went back to working, and Embry continued his work organizing the tiny nuts and bolts on the blanket in front of him. Quil sat on the squeaky chair in the corner of the garage, twirling himself on the ripped, vinyl seat. It groaned and protested under his weight, and Jacob and Embry were quickly growing tired of the annoying sound.

"Will you knock that off?" Embry finally bellowed, pelting another piece of licorice at his head. Quil ducked with a snicker, and Embry just muttered some foul words under his breath at him.

"Geez, Em, get a grip!" Quil laughed, noticing that Embry wasn't laughing along with him like usual.

"What's with you?" Jacob asked him, setting his wrench down. He picked up a flashlight and cursed a little, reaching for his hood light instead.

"Nothin man, just…I'm sick of doing nothing too!" Embry said. "Quil's right, La Push is freaking boring as hell. Hey, maybe we should go up to Makah, or Forks! Yeah, cruise around for girls," he said with a sly smile.

Quil snorted. "Cruise for chicks in what? Billy's S10? Yeah…great plan," Quil mused, rolling his eyes.

"Hey, it's a better idea than anything you've come up with, Ateara," he shot back. Quil just snorted, turning in the squeaky chair.

"STOP IT!" both Embry and Jake snarled at the same time. Quil froze, his eyes wide for a moment.

"Geez," he muttered. "Hey Jake, don't you know a girl from Forks? What's her name?"

Jacob nodded, closing the hood on the Rabbit. "Yeah, Bella, Charlie's daughter," he said. "Why?"

"We should go meet up with her. Maybe she could introduce us to some chicks," Quil laughed.

Jacob shook his head. "Nah, Billy said that Charlie said that Bella isn't up for much these days. Something about her boyfriend moving away – he was a Cullen."

"A Cullen?" Embry asked. Just the name sent tingles up his spine. People talked about the Cullens, and always had for years.

"Yeah. He just up and left and she's like…really sad I guess. I guess Charlie said that she doesn't even leave the house 'cept to go to school."

"That sucks…well…invite her down. She'd love us," Quil urged him. Embry just laughed at Quil's eagerness to meet a girl. La Push was pretty boring, and the idea of meeting up with a girl seemed appealing.

"Nah, she wouldn't wanna hang out with your smelly ass," Jacob teased him. Quil gave him an incredulous look.

"Hey, I started wearing Axe cologne and you guys are just jealous that you didn't think of it first!"

"Whatever," Embry laughed. The three boys continued to help Jacob work on his Rabbit for the rest of the afternoon before deciding to call it a day.

"See ya at school," Jacob called to Embry as he left. He nodded, jamming his hands in his pockets as he began the short walk up to his mom's house. Glancing up at the Sunday evening sky, he grumbled a bit as it looked like it might rain soon.

"Figures," he mumbled, stepping up to the porch. He carefully removed his shoes, stepping inside the creaking door.

"Hey, Ma," he called. His mother flew around the corner of the kitchen, finishing closing the buttons on her blue polo shirt.

"Hey, baby. You take your shoes off?" He nodded. "That's my boy," she said, rushing to the cabinet. Pulling out her coffee mug, she poured herself a cold cup of that morning's coffee and began to heat it in the microwave.

"You goin to work?" he asked, opening up the refrigerator. Grimacing at what he saw, he slammed it shut with a dissatisfied grunt.

"Sure am. Janice called in sick, and she was supposed to work a double tonight, so I gotta take the opportunity," she said.

"Mom that means you're gonna work all night and then have to go to the office without any sleep!" he chided her. She gave him a pleading look and a shrug.

"We need the money," she replied, yanking her cup of coffee out of the fridge. Embry watched as she snapped the lid on, and grabbed her purse. His mom had two jobs: one, a night job at the all night gas station outside of Forks, and the other as a legal secretary for La Push's only lawyer.

"Mom, you're gonna be dead tomorrow," he argued. He hated seeing his mother work herself like that, but he was only sixteen and couldn't get many jobs on the reservation yet. Unfortunately, he was limited with what work he could do without a car to drive anywhere.

"Em," she sighed, slipping into her coat. "There's not much I can do. You wanna eat?" she asked him.

He smiled coyly, walking over to her. "I would starve for you, Ma," he replied, tucking a piece of his hair behind his ears.

"Don't be a smartass," she said, winking at him. Brushing his cheek with her hand, she playfully tugged on his long hair. "Do you need me to buy you more scrunchies?" she asked.

Embry winced, cowering away from her. "Mom, don't call them that! The last time you said that in front of Jake and Quil they didn't let me forget it for weeks. They're called 'hair elastics!'" he fumed, his cheeks turning pink. His mom laughed, wrapping her scarf around her neck.

"Well, whatever they're called, do you need more? I know you lose those things all the time," she said as she picked up her keys.

"No," he grumbled. "I'll just…cleanup my room or something." He had a bad habit of yanking them out of his hair at night and flinging them across the room into the piles of dirty laundry to be lost forever.

He flopped down at the kitchen table, and his mom quickly kissed the top of his head before dashing out the door. Wrinkling his nose, he brushed his hair out of his eyes and wondered if she had time to make anything for dinner before she left. He got up, glanced in the empty oven, and sighed.

Ramen noodles again, he thought sadly. Embry boiled a large pot of water, tossing in five or six packages of the cheap noodles. They were pretty bland and he was sick of eating them; however, he knew that they would fill him up and make his stomach stop rumbling. His dinner had only been on the stove for a few minutes when suddenly, the lights flickered and went out. He groaned.

"Not again, Mom," he said to the darkness. Frowning, he realized that he could see. Looking outside, he noted the early January evening was already completely black outside, yet he could still find his way around the dark kitchen.

"Weird," he mumbled, walking over to the drawer where the flashlight was. He looked around the dark yet visible kitchen and dining area, shrugging. Flipping the light on, he began to rummage for the candles. Once they were lit, he checked on his Ramen noodles and was relieved to see that the somewhat hot water had boiled them long enough to be soft and edible enough to eat.

Once he had scarfed down his meal, he reached for the phone book and opened it to the right page. He used their old wall-phone to dial the power company, and was promptly put on hold.

"Finally, uh…checking on the Call residence? 243 High Point road?" he said.

"Yes sir, the power to that residence has been shut off due to an outstanding balance on the account," the operator said. Embry clenched his fists once and took a deep breath.

"What's the balance?" he asked.

"$342.07 sir."

"What? Why so much?" he snapped suddenly.

"The account is two months behind sir," the bland voice on the other line answered. Embry closed his eyes, trying to calm himself enough to speak. His heart began to race as he silently fumed.

"Okay...thanks," he mumbled, slamming the phone down onto the receiver. "Great," he said, flopping down at the kitchen table. He pushed the remaining pasta around on his plate for a second before deciding to finish it. He threw the dirty dish in the sink and trudged out into the cold for some firewood. They had an old fireplace that he knew would work if he had enough wood, so he walked out to the woodpile to grab a few pieces.

Once at the back of the yard, he stopped. Did something just move in the bushes? He looked around, suddenly a little on edge. He had never been bothered out here before – the woods around his small neighborhood were fairly safe, and he had played in them most of his life.

Something rustled on the other side of the yard, and he turned around quickly. He saw nothing, but noted again that his eyes could see into the darkness much better than they normally could. His nervous breath made small clouds in the chilly air, but that was the least of his concerns.

Something moved again, and he could feel the hairs on his arms stand up in the cold air. He quickly grabbed a large load of firewood before rushing back into the dark house. Once his fire was lit, he moved the curtain to the side and glanced out the living room window nervously.

What had been out in the woods? It didn't sound small, whatever it was.

He sat down on the couch, silently dreading going to school in the morning without a hot shower. Embry felt awful that his mother was struggling so much with the bills. It seemed like it was getting harder and harder for her to get caught up, and he felt like a mooch that wasn't pulling his weight around the house. She wouldn't let him get a job yet, not that he could do much without a car anyway.

Things would be so much easier if she had someone to help her, he thought. His mind wandered briefly to his father, and he tried to picture him. He just couldn't.

His entire life, the space in his life reserved for his father had always been blank and daunting, like a puzzle piece that was missing. Embry never knew who his father was, and he didn't have the balls to ask his mom about it. He was no fool – his mom would have brought it up if she wanted to talk about it, and he was sensitive enough to realize that she didn't.

He looked down at his tan skin in the dark room. His mother was white; she was of French descent and had pale skin and pretty dark brown hair that fell past her shoulders, and the same dark, hazel eyes that he had. He had quickly realized as a child that his tan skin was not a genetic gift from his mother; his father had to be Quileute.

Not that it mattered…if his father wanted him to know who he was, he surely would have shown himself by now.

Well, he certainly doesn't get father of the year, he thought bitterly. He settled down lower on the couch, watching the blank TV and the growing fire. Maybe it was best if he didn't think about things like that tonight.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

The next day, he woke up miraculously just before his alarm would have normally gone off. He did the best he could to make himself look presentable, but without a hot shower it wasn't much use. Yanking a brush through his hair, he secured it in a loose ponytail and threw on some clean looking clothes, cursing himself for always throwing everything on the floor of his room. When he got to school, he met up with Jake and Quil at his locker.

"Hey," he said, nodding. If Jacob and Quil noticed his disheveled look, they didn't say anything.

"Sup?" Quil nodded at him, slinging his backpack over his shoulder.

"Hey man, can I swing by your place after school?" Embry asked.

Jacob nodded, tucking a piece of his own long hair behind his ear. "Yeah, what's up?"

"I need to uh…grab a shower," Embry mumbled quietly, not making eye contact with his friends. If Jacob minded, he sure didn't show it.

"Aren't you gonna come work on the Rabbit anyway?"

Embry nodded again, grabbing the books for his first and second classes out of his locker. "Yeah, you're right. I'll be there."

"Hey guys, think Jared has his mommy rip the sleeves off his t-shirts, or do you think he does it himself?" Quil giggled as the older boy strode by.

Embry watched as Jared gave Quil a stern glare, and Quil suddenly stopped laughing and straightened up.

Jacob looked at him, his face incredulous. "Dude, you don't think he heard you, do you?"

Quil had stopped smiling altogether as they watched Jared walk farther down the tiny hallway, the top of his head almost touching the ceiling tiles.

"You'd better hope he didn't," Embry teased him.

"You look a little pale, Quil. Mouth write a check your ass can't cash?" Jacob laughed. Quil swatted at him, and Jacob quickly jumped out of the way.

"Yeah, whatever. You guys are just jealous that I'm a stud and you're just hopeless wannabes."

Embry snorted. "Yeah, Quil, that's what we're upset about."

Quil pouted as the three boys made their way to class. They made their way to their sophomore English class, and Embry slouched in the back row as usual. As he sat there, he kept shoving the long sleeves of his hoodie up; it was suddenly annoyingly hot in the classroom they were in.

Jacob gave him a strange look a few times, and Embry noticed that that bothered him slightly.

Why is he looking at me like that? He shouldn't be looking at me! What's his problem?

He shook it off for a few minutes, but then grew more and more agitated as the clock ticked on. It was getting ridiculously hot in the classroom, only making him more uncomfortable. He shoved at the sleeves of his shirt again, even lifting it up to see what he had thrown on underneath.

Great, he thought when he saw that underneath it was a ratty old wife beater. I can't walk around in this thing all day.

"You alright?" Jacob whispered from across the aisle. Embry frowned, trying to get a hold of himself.

"Yeah," he nodded. Only I feel like I'm going to crawl out of my own skin, he thought. It was so hot in there! What had happened, and why was no one else freaking out about it?

He looked around, noting that everyone else seemed normal; no one else appeared to be hotter than hell at the moment. With a sigh, he lifted his sweatshirt over his head, revealing the thin undershirt beneath it. Jacob gave him a confused look.

"Dude, it's January. Won't you be cold?" he whispered, ducking down out of the teacher's sight.

Embry just shook his head as he tossed it below the desk. Something just didn't feel right.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

After school, he wasn't ready to go home just yet, so instead he followed Jacob home. Quil tagged along as usual.

Behind the school there was a worn path that wound through the woods, down the hill, and ran along a stream for a few miles. Eventually, the path swooped up and ended up not far from Jacob and Billy's house, so that was what they used most of the time to walk home from school.

"I'm so glad this day is over!" Quil exclaimed dramatically. Jacob rolled his eyes and pulled a branch back and let it go, smacking Quil in the chest.

"Shit, Black!" he whined, rubbing his chest where the frozen branch had smacked him. "You're gonna get it when we get to your garage."

Jacob snorted, "Yeah, just like you were gonna give it to Jared today at school! Oh wait, I got that backwards! You woulda gotten your ass handed to you man. You're so lucky!"

"Whatever, I could take him!" Quil insisted.

Embry just rolled his eyes and tried to block out the mindless chatter of Quil and Jacob as they trudged through the muddy forest. Most of the recent snow had melted, leaving behind a dirty slush that was everywhere he looked. The boys walked through the wilderness, tripping and smacking each other playfully for nearly half an hour when Embry suddenly stopped.

"Holy shit!" he gasped, kneeling to the ground. Quil and Jacob stopped as well, turning around to see what he was talking about.

"What is it?" Jake asked, jogging back to see. Quil followed, peering over his shoulder.

"I don't know…is that…a bear?" Embry asked in amazement. He stared down at the large paw print in the snow in front of him with wide eyes.

"That's insane!" Quil exclaimed, measuring it with his hand. "That can't be a bear. That's…"

"If that's a bear, that's a huge freaking bear," Jake said slowly. Embry looked up at them, his eyes still wide.

"It doesn't really….bear prints are more…like…fat, ya know? This looks like…a dog or a wolf almost," Embry stuttered, trying to think of what kind of animals they had in these parts.

"Nah, it can't be!" Quil laughed. "You guys are crazy. That can't be a wolf! That thing would have to be size of a horse to leave a paw print that size!"

Embry looked down at it again, amazed by the sheer magnitude of the print in the snow. Could it be? It didn't look like any bear print he had ever seen…but then again, it didn't look like a wolf print either. They had wolves in these parts, but none ever came this close to people. They preferred to hide in the mountains and secluded forests. This was practically in Jacob's backyard.

"I dunno man…this is definitely weird," Embry admitted, standing up. He shrugged out of his hoodie again as he had begun to sweat. Quil and Jacob stood as well, frowning at him.

"You're gonna freeze!" Quil said, watching Embry tie it around his waist.

Embry just shook his head. "Nah, it…it feels better. I dunno…I'm just burning up."

"Weird," Quil said. Jacob was still staring at the print in the snow, shaking his head and muttering.

"Wish Billy could come out here and see this. He'd know what it is."

Embry knew that Billy would never make it out there in his wheelchair. Sadly, Billy was confined to the house's flat, smooth surfaces.

"Why is this so close to your house?" Embry suddenly asked. He glanced up the path, the back of Jacob's house in view.

"Yeah, man, you're gonna get eaten by whatever this thing is if you're not careful," Quil snorted.

"Shut up," Jacob snapped.

"I wish we knew what this-"

He was cut off when he saw something move in the thick underbrush, about a hundred feet away. It was large and grey, and made him jump.

"Holy shit!" he gasped.

"What?" Quil and Jake both echoed, jumping up.

Embry stood quickly, looking around the forest. "Did you guys see that over there?" he pointed towards the other side of the stream they were following, up the riverbank.

"Something huge just jumped across the creek! Did you guys….holy…wow," he gasped, still staring in the direction of the movement. What was that?

"No, what was it?" Jake asked, echoing his thoughts.

Embry continued to stare at the place where he had seen the sudden flash of movement in the corner of his eye. He wasn't sure what it had been, but whatever it was…it was big.

"I don't know…"

"I think we should get out of the woods," Quil said nervously, looking around at the trees.

"I think Quil's right," Jacob agreed, picking up his backpack. His nervous breath formed clouds in the chilly afternoon air as he looked around like Quil.

The boys all trotted nervously up the trail, glancing over their shoulders as they moved through the thick woods along the worn path. They branched up to Jacob's backyard, all breathing sighs of relief when they finally reached the clearing that was behind Jacob's house, just beside the shed.

"Care if I hang for awhile?" Embry asked. Jacob just shrugged his shoulders and nodded, opening the door to the shed where they spent much of their extra time.

"As long as you don't care if its mac and cheese with hot dogs for dinner, I don't," he laughed, shoving the doors closed. The three boys all took their respective seats in the slightly toasty building: Jacob on the stool in front of the Rabbit, Quil in his squeaky chair by the work bench, and Embry on the dilapidated armchair that was shoved into the corner.

"That was so weird. What do you guys think that was?" Quil asked finally. Jacob and Embry exchanged a perplexed look, shrugging.

"Obviously we're not the only ones that use that path," Embry pointed out. A shiver ran up and down his spine as he thought about the paw print in the snow. To make a print that size, the animal had to be….gigantic.

"So when will the Rabbit be ready Jake? We need some wheels," Quil said, breaking Embry's train of thought and diverting the conversation to a much more pleasant subject.

"When it's ready, lazy-ass," Jacob grumbled, grunting to tighten a bolt.

Embry rolled his eyes at their mindless banter, used to it by now. Anything was better than sitting in an empty house with no electricity, and besides, he knew his mother wouldn't be home for hours.

"You've been working on that stupid thing forever…how much longer is it really gonna take?"

"You know if you would like to help me, feel free to join in the fun anytime. Oh, I forgot Quil, you're pretty much useless."

"You gotta lotta nerve, Black," Quil said before pushing himself out of the squeaky chair and lunging at Jacob. He tackled him, sending them both crashing over the tiny stool where he'd been sitting. Pieces of metal bolts and screws clattered to the floor as they grunted and wrestled with each other.

"A little help here?" Quil asked him, looking up from Jacob's choke hold. Embry laughed, shaking his long hair.

"Nah, you got yourself into this one, pal," he laughed.

"Wuss!" Jacob spat through gritted teeth as he held Quil down.

"That's it, you asked for it!" Embry finally said, lunging for him. He knew it was useless to go for Jake; Jake usually won when they were wrestling, but he would at least try to help Quil out. He grunted and pulled at Jacob's arm, falling into the heap. Embry watched with surprise as his arms pulled Jacob's grip off of Quil, and continued to press them back until both of Jacob's wrists were pinned against the dirt covered floor of the shed.

"Hey! What the-"

"Gotcha!" Embry laughed.

"Hey!" Jacob hollered, an indignant look crossing his features. Embry laughed, pushing him harder into the ground.

"Hey, man, ow!" Jacob yelled with a frown. Embry let go, stumbling off to the side with Quil. Jacob jumped up, scowling.

"Sorry, man," Embry said, straightening his shirt. He smoothed his hair back, realizing that his hair elastic had been ripped out in the scuffle.

"Damn it!" he swore, his eyes scouring the floor of the garage.

"What the hell, Em?" Jacob snapped, arranging his own shirt. He glared daggers at his best friend, whose cheeks were reddening. All three boys were silent for a moment as they realized what had just happened. Embry had overpowered Jacob – that never happened. He avoided Jacob's gaze even after they started talking again.

After a few hours, they bid goodbye to Quil, who climbed into his mother's waiting car. Embry was silently thankful that his friend wasn't walking tonight – he couldn't stop thinking about the gigantic paw print they found in the woods. Whatever it belonged to, he hoped they never met.

"You alright?"

Embry turned his head to look at Jacob, who was looking at him sideways as they walked up to the main house. He shrugged, feeling the same anxious feeling boil up inside of him that he had felt all day.

"Yeah, why?"

Jacob crinkled up his nose and shrugged. "You've just been weird all day."

"Nah, I'm all good," he insisted, pulling the door open. The two of them ate in comfortable silence with Billy, who was engrossed in La Push's local newspaper.

"You boys behaving in school?" He asked, his eyes not moving up from the paper.

"I am, Jake's not," Embry snorted, shoving a large bite of macaroni in his mouth. Jacob smacked him on the shoulder as he laughed.

"Jacob…" Billy sighed deeply, his eyes flicking up.

"Yeah, Dad, school is good."

"Good. You boys behave. And stay out of the woods."

Embry's eyes moved up and met Jacob's across the table, and the two of them exchanged a look.

"Why's that, Dad?"

Billy looked up at them again. "People have been seeing uh…bears," he mumbled, leaning back in his chair.

Jacob looked back at Embry as if to question whether or not they should divulge what they had found in the woods.

"We um…we found a print in the woods today but…Dad, I don't think it's a bear."

Billy suddenly leaned forward, his eyes widening slightly "You-" he glanced at Embry, then back at Jacob, and seemed to reign himself in. "You saw what?"

"A print. We found it in the snow down by the creek. Just off the path. Looked pretty big and…not like a bear. More like a wolf," Embry replied slowly. He watched Billy's expression change.

"Wolves don't come around these parts," Billy said carefully. "But…if they did…just keep your distance. Just…stay out of the woods for now, alright? I don't want you kids running around out there. No tellin'….."

Embry and Jacob exchanged another look before returning their attention to the food.

Over the next week or two, the boys did as they were told and stayed out of the woods. Not that it mattered much. Jacob had recently befriended Charlie Swan's daughter, Bella, and spent all his time holed up in the garage with her. He insisted to Embry and Quil that she was quickly becoming his girlfriend, but neither believed him.

"Dude, she said she was your girl that's a friend. Not quite girlfriend," he laughed at Jacob.

Jacob slammed his locker shut, grumbling to himself. "It's that stupid Cullen kid. He messed her up good, I swear," he pouted.

He and Embry leaned against their lockers, waiting for Quil to meet up with them to walk to lunch.

"Aren't you cold?" Jacob questioned, glancing at Embry's strange choice of shorts and a shirt for their frigid January weather. He shook his head and tucked his hair back behind his ears.

"Nah, I'm just...hot all the time, I dunno," he mumbled, shaking his head. "Not that we have heat at my house anyway."

Jacob gave his friend a sympathetic look. "Does your mom work tonight?"

"Yeah. Double. I wish she'd let me get a freaking job, man, this sucks having to…it just sucks."

"You can crash on the couch if you wanna," Jacob offered. It was times like this that Embry was grateful that Jacob was his friend. He and Billy didn't have much money either, but at least Billy's disability paid the bills for their tiny house. It meant a lot to him that what little Jacob had, he was willing to share with his friend.

Embry nodded, his eyes searching for Quil. He just wanted to forget that their utilities were still shut off at his house and get to lunch. At least the state of Washington paid for him to be able to eat lunch at school every day. He was usually even charming enough to slyly con the lunch ladies into seconds.

Today he had gotten nothing for breakfast; his mom hadn't been to the grocery store in weeks, and their milk was sour and there was nothing left in the bottom of the cereal box but crumbs. His stomach rumbled, making his mood instantly darken. A heat rose in his back, making him curl his lip and frown in anger.

"Man, where the fuck is Quil?" he growled suddenly, smacking his locker. Several students in the hallway jumped, looking at him strangely. One of those students was Jared.

He paused for a moment, nonchalantly stopping to drink at the water fountain across the hall. Jared gave Embry one more look before leaning down to get a drink of water. Embry just scowled at him.

Who the hell was he to stare at him like that? He fumed inwardly, his hands starting to shake.

"Hey, man, he's right here," Jacob said quickly, motioning to Quil. Jared straightened up, wiping his mouth, locking eyes with Embry. For some reason, this made him want to punch something, or somebody.

Jared stared at him from across the busy hallway for a few more seconds, and then casually strode away.

Quil snorted. "Okay….." he said slowly, watching Jared stride away. "What was that all about?"

"Who knows, that kid's a freak anymore nowadays anyway," Jacob muttered, brushing his long hair out of his eyes. He turned back to Embry, who was still glaring after Jared.

"Come on, man, let's get to lunch."

Embry broke his stare with Jared's back, and looked at Jacob, glowering at him. Jacob dropped his hand from Embry's shoulder, taken aback by his friend's anxious glare.

"You alright?" he asked.

Embry frowned, shaking his head. "I….I don't know."

That afternoon after school, Embry followed Jake home again to spend the night at his place. His mom was working a double anyway, so he didn't have anyone to go home to. It sucked sitting in a dark, empty house with no one there. At least Jake had a TV.

He lay on the couch in Billy's living room, thinking about his life. For some reason, he was feeling pensive and reflective right now. Things just seemed so strange. He didn't feel like his self. He just felt like he was going to crawl out of his own skin and he couldn't figure out why; he was hot – literally- and bothered by something that he couldn't quite put his finger on.

Several days later, the power came back on at Embry's house and he had a few frozen pipes to fix. Without heat, the chill in the house would make the pipes freeze, and it was his job to fix them before it thawed and melted everywhere. He still spent a lot of time over at Jake's, but it was nice to be home for awhile. Not that it mattered.

Jake was busy spending most of his time with Bella Swan, not that he could blame him. She was a really hot girl, and from Forks not to mention. Girls from La Push were just girls that they had known since kindergarten, and rarely showed them anything new. Embry couldn't blame him for trying his game on Bella.

Embry had met Bella several times, and he liked her. She was quiet and shy like him, and brought out the worst in Jacob in his opinion. He was always so loud and chatty around her, determined to fill up the silence that surrounded Bella. She really only spoke when she had something important to say, and therefore...Jake spoke a lot.

Embry had just about enough of Jacob's shameless flirting for that particular afternoon, so he stood and said his goodbyes before his walk home.

"You sure you wanna walk, man?" Jacob asked pointedly. He eyed Embry, who stood in the doorway of the shed to leave.

"Yeah, we're not all wussies like you, Jake!" he joked, giving Bella a flirty smile before he turned to leave.

The night air was cold as he walked, not that he minded. The frigid, late January air was welcomed against his hot skin. He imagined that this was what it felt like to get a sunburn; his skin was hot, itchy, and felt like it was stretched across his body. He had grown substantially in the past few weeks, and had stretch marks on his arms and back from growing so fast. It was starting to get extremely uncomfortable, as all his clothes were starting to get too small as well.

He began the short walk along the quiet road towards his mom's house, inhaling the clean night air with a sigh. It felt so good to be out there…

Suddenly, an eerie feeling came over him. The hair on his arms and neck stood up, and he started to feel sick. He paused, sniffing the air.

What the…why the hell did I just smell the air? He thought with a frown. Glancing up the road, he saw the lone street light that sat at the corner nearest to his house. Just a little longer and he would be home.

He continued to walk, looking around nervously. Something just didn't feel right about this, but he had no idea what it was.

He hadn't been walking for ten seconds when suddenly a flash of heat shot down his spine, making him stop and gasp for breath.

"Ah!" he moaned, grabbing his neck. "Shit."

The pain rolled up and down his spine, and again his hair stood on end. He began to pant rapidly, bursts of warm air shooting out of his nostrils into the chilly night air.

He struggled to catch his breath, but he couldn't seem to calm himself for anything. He gripped his knees and tried to breathe deeply, but it was becoming harder and harder. Embry panted, glancing up at the light a few hundred feet away on the corner.

Suddenly, he saw her. She was standing under the lamp post, the light shining down directly on her, casting a shadow across her face. Her hair stood out, even in the darkness. The mass of curls practically glowed red under the dim light of the lamppost, giving her an eerie glow.

Embry would have called out to her for help, but the tremors wracking his neck and spine kept him from being able to speak.

"Ah!" he gasped again, doubling back over. He glanced up to see if she was still under the lamp post and jumped when he realized she was standing merely ten feet in front of him. His mouth hung open as he gasped and panted, trying to regain control of the spasms as they ran up and down his body. His skin crawled as he looked up at her, and he briefly wondered how she got over to him so fast.

"Help," he grunted as his hands began to shake. Embry caught her eye as she gave him a sinister smirk, stepping closer. Suddenly, his hands began to not only shake, but blur.

"What the-" he grunted, looking down at them. A sickeningly sweet smell invaded his nostrils, making him feel sick to his stomach. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the wild-red-haired woman leaned closer to him, sniffing the air around him. Embry felt his hair stand up even more the closer she got, and he whined in misery as his body continued to blur and tremble.

Suddenly, the woods on the side of the road began to shake as something traipsed through them. The woman looked up quickly, then back down at Embry. He gritted his teeth as he realized she had the most eerie looking blood red eyes he had ever seen in his life.

She gave him one more smirk and then she moved so fast she disappeared. Embry gaped after her, his breaths making small puffs in the night air as he tried to calm himself. It felt like his skin was going to explode, and he couldn't bear it anymore.

A few seconds later, three streaks of color tore across the road in front of him several hundred feet, and he gasped again.

Wolves.

Not just any wolves. Huge, gigantic, horse sized wolves.

Holy shit, he thought. I'm gonna die.

The two grey looking wolves continued to run in the direction the red headed woman had disappeared to, but the largest one stopped by the tree line. Embry shook even harder as he realized the huge black animal was walking towards him.

"Fuck," he gasped, falling onto the ground. The black animal looked at him for a few more seconds, and then dashed off into the forest. He was alone again.

The gravel from the roadside dug into his hands and knees, making small cuts as he shook and spasmed. He sucked in breath after breath, trying to calm himself now that he was alone. It worked.

After about five minutes of deep breathing, the trembling stopped and he was able to stand back up.

What the hell had that been? He was more confused now than ever. Frowning, he tried to catch his breath and figure out what the hell had just happened. A woman had approached him, and whatever she was…it was something strange.

He ran his hands through his hair, trying to convince himself he was crazy and seeing things. That was the only explanation he could think of. He had just seen what he was sure was not a human woman with red eyes, horse sized wolves, and then he had felt like he was going to turn green and explode like the Hulk. Something wasn't right.

Straightening up, he fought the urge to peel off his clothes in the chilly night air. His body was so unbearably hot that he couldn't stand it. Looking around, he still felt unsettled by something, although he wasn't sure over what. He felt like he was being watched - it was the strangest sensation ever. Turning around, he continued to walk towards home. Once his house was in sight, he sighed in relief. Almost there. The house was dark and no one was home, which he wasn't crazy about. As he fished in his pocket for the keys, he was thankful that his mother was at least safe at work.

He was just about to walk inside when he heard a voice.

"Hey!" it called out. Embry turned around, his eyes wide. There stood Sam, Paul, and Jared in his front yard, barefoot and half naked. He made a face, frowning at them.

Okay, this night just keeps getting weirder, he thought to himself.

"What the-"

"Come here," Sam said firmly. Embry felt his spine twitch slightly, pulling him in the direction of Sam. He grunted as he felt one foot step in front of the other, obeying the older boy's command.

"What are you….why are you here?" He asked, looking at the three of them. Jared and Paul stood on either side of Sam in the dark yard, flanking him. They both looked up at Sam when Embry spoke, as if to wait for his answer. Sam looked pointedly at both of them as Embry came toward them.

"Come with us," he said firmly, giving Embry a nod.

"I don't want to come with you! Why are you freaks in my front lawn half naked?" Embry shot back. Deep growls rumbled from Jared and Paul, and Embry's eyes widened.

"Did you just fucking growl at me?" he shouted.

Sam looked at him sternly. "You will come with us," he repeated, his voice louder and deeper than before.

Embry glared back at him as a deep rumbling sound vibrated in his chest. Jared and Paul both laughed, looking over at Sam.

"Any minute now," Jared chortled, reaching over to smack Paul on the shoulder.

"I said it would happen back there," Paul added, nodding back in the direction of the street where Embry had been trembling and shaking only moments ago.

"What are you freaks talking about?" Embry shouted again. "What do you mean?"

"Come with us and we'll explain," Sam insisted again. "We can't talk here. We have to go into the woods. Just come on!" He said, using his deep voice again.

Embry glanced back at his dark, empty house, and then at the three boys standing before him. He didn't want to go with them, but he didn't feel like he had a choice. He was suddenly hit with the overwhelming urge to follow Sam.

His feet began to move, one in front of the other until he had followed them into the tree line. Once they were in the cover of the forest, Sam stood in front of him, Paul and Jared back a bit.

"Alright, what the hell is going on?" Embry snapped, clenching his fists. He was suddenly so angry that they were there, talking to him, that he felt like he was going to explode with anger.

"It's not safe for you to be around others," Sam said softly. "You could hurt someone."

"What? What are you talking about? I'm not going to hurt anyone!" Embry snapped. His hands began to shake at his sides, and he gritted his teeth as the heat began to sizzle in his spine.

"Ow!" he grunted, grabbing the back of his neck.

"Easy," Sam calmed him, backing up a step. Embry continued to shake and spasm until he remembered to take deep breaths. The breathing technique had calmed him before, and he desperately hoped it would work a second time.

"Sam, is he gonna phase or not? He keeps calming down!" Paul hollered. Jared chuckled, stepping forward to Sam.

"Sam, we gotta get him to go tonight. He's gonna explode on some poor civilian if he doesn't go tonight!"

"He doesn't look ready," Sam said slowly.

"What are you talking about? Look at him!"

"Yeah, Sam, he's starting to blur!" Jared insisted. Sam looked back over at Embry, who had continued to tremble and shake. He looked down at his hands, his eyes widening as he realized that his hands were indeed beginning to blur.

"Ah, fuck!" he heard himself growl. He tried to scream but instead, another large jolt through his spine made his voice come out in a strange type of whining sound. He felt himself fall to the ground, but it felt…different. Foreign. Strange.

"Paul! Jared!" he heard Sam call out. Suddenly, there were two strange vibrations in the air and he suddenly got the feeling that he wasn't alone.

Strange… he thought.

Tell me about it, he heard Jared's voice.

Back off Jared, let him figure it out, he heard Paul say. It was strange…their voices were echoing in such a strange way. Embry frowned, opening his eyes. Sam stood in front of him tall, strong and silent. On either side of him stood two wolves: one was a grey wolf, his fur spackled with white and darker shades of grey. The other was a lighter wolf, but with a brown colored coat that was speckled with white.

He's getting it…one of the voices said.

The gray wolf looked over at the brown wolf, and both of them turned their gazes back to Embry.

What the hell are they looking at me like that for? Why aren't they attacking Sam? Or me for that matter? These things are huge! Embry thought with a shiver. Suddenly, a mass of grey fur below his line of eyesight caught his gaze. He jumped, trying to avoid whatever animal was around him.

There, he got it, he heard Jared say.

Holy shit…I'm…I'm….

You're a wolf, Einstein, Paul shot at him with a chuckle. Embry frowned as his voice echoed slightly in his head.

What the….

Yeah, pack mind. We can hear each other, he heard Paul's voice say. Embry looked incredulously at the huge grey wolf in front of him, noticing that his eyes were strangely…well, human. The wolf blinked, turning his big head to look at Sam, who still stood in the middle of them.

"You're a wolf now, Embry. Welcome to the pack," he added, his voice somewhat sad. Embry stood up on four legs, moving his new, larger head to look at the two wolves beside him.

You're Paul and Jared, aren't you? He asked.

Both wolves blinked once, and then shook their large heads at him.

And I'm a wolf? His questioned earned him the same reaction.

Sam nodded, seeming to understand that they were having some sort of mental dialogue.

"Embry, don't panic. You need to understand that all of our legends are true. The spirit warriors, the wolves, the cold ones…all of its true." Sam's voice was firm yet demanding,

Embry's mind whirred as he tried to concentrate long enough to register what Sam was saying to him. Could it be? All of the legends were really true?

Sam began to explain about their duty as wolves, the vampires in the area, and the pack. Embry felt a whine escape his new wolf muzzle as he tried to process everything Sam was telling him. This wasn't real life. It couldn't all be real, or true. This was out of a fairytale! Vampires, werewolves…

More like a nightmare, Jared added sarcastically.

He tried to calm down and figure out a way out of this. Being a wolf wasn't anything he wanted to be involved with. It sounded insane and dangerous, and he wanted to forget that this entire thing had happened. He tried to wrap his head around the fact that the woman he had seen in the street was not even a real human.

"You can phase back into human form. This change isn't permanent. As soon as you calm down enough…" Sam kept talking but I didn't hear his voice. All he heard was that if he could calm down, he could change back.

I could change back, and be me again. I could forget this had ever happened, he thought.

Before Sam had a chance to speak again, Embry toppled to the ground on his hands. He gasped as his spine contracted, and a strange sucking feeling overcame him. It felt like his skin had completely covered the fur, and his bones magically re-aligned into a human. He grunted, standing up and brushing himself off. Sam's eyes were as big as saucers.

Embry gaped back at him, unsure of what to say. The two wolves looked at each other in amazement, then over at Sam.

"How…how did you do that?" Sam stuttered, his brown eyes wide.

Embry took a few deep breaths, shuddering from the heat emerging off his body. Ignoring Sam and the disbelieving stares from the wolves in front of him, he inhaled the crisp night air deeply into his lungs, letting the chill calm his body. He blushed when he realized he was naked, but he ignored and was able to remain in control of himself.

"I don't want this," he said softly, turning to leave.

"Embry, stop!" Sam called after him. Embry's feet froze in place, a tightening in his spine wracking his body. Why did he stop? He didn't want to stop…had Sam's voice made him do what he wanted him to do?

"If you go home now, you risk hurting your own mother. Would you want to accidentally phase and hurt her?" Sam questioned. Embry stared at him, his body completely still. Sam's voice was laced with hurt, and his black eyes bore into Embry's.

"If you hurt someone like this, you go against everything we stand for. You can never take it back," Sam added. Embry felt his resolve weakening as he listened to Sam. His hands started to shake slightly, and all three pairs of eyes in front of him darted to look at his shaking fingers.

Embry sighed, running his hands through his shaggy hair. "No, I don't want to hurt anyone."

Sam nodded, stepping forward slowly. Embry watched as Sam stuck his hand out slowly, resting it on Embry's shoulder.

"This is a curse, but a good one. We use it to protect our people."

Embry was silent for a moment as he thought. "There really are vampires?" he asked slowly, looking up at Sam.

All three of them exchanged a look, as if they weren't looking forward to telling him. "Yes," Sam finally spoke.

Embry felt like the ground had been yanked out from underneath him. In one night, everything he thought he knew about his life had been changed forever.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

He watched the needle drag down his arm, completing the tribal pattern that now adorned his bicep. The artist wiped the excess ink off his skin, pausing to look at the finished piece.

"Done," he stated calmly, glancing up at Sam. Sam nodded at the man, and slipped him a few crumpled twenties.

The tattoo artist shook his head and held up his hand. "Your money's no good here," he said quietly, standing up. Sam offered it to him again, but he shook his head.

"My cousin was a tribal elder before he passed away. You're fine," he said. He and Sam exchanged a knowing glance.

"Come on," he said to Embry, motioning for him. Embry followed him out of the shop, nodding at Paul and Jared on the way out. The two stood up, walking over to him.

"Looks good," Paul said with a nod. "Healed up nice."

"What?" Embry asked. He looked down at his new tattoo, and realized that the skin over it had already hardened and was flaking off.

"Holy…wow…." He said, rubbing the pad of his finger over the new mark on his body. Sam nodded and motioned for him to follow.

"What are we doing tonight?" he asked. "Can I go talk to Quil and Jacob?"

"No," Sam said shortly. "You need to stay away from them Embry."

"Why?" he whined. "Jacob's gonna think I'm mad at him!"

Sam whipped around, grabbing his shoulder. "Then you let him."

Embry met Sam's hard gaze, scowling at him. "I hate this, and I hate you!" he growled. Sam looked pissed for a moment, and then he just shook his head.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"I do, too! I hate this. All of this! My mom is mad at me, Jake and Quil I can't even talk to…I burst into a giant monster…I'm hot all the freaking time, and I have to chase after leeches! What part of this would I like Sam?" he screamed.

"Quiet!" Sam hissed, and Embry's mouth fell shut.

"I'm trying to help you. I didn't ask for this for you, or for Paul, or Jared, or even myself!" Sam shot back. He stepped closer to him, standing toe to toe.

"But I'll be damned if I'm going to make anyone go through this alone like I had to. I wouldn't do that to you. Now you can either accept it, or live in misery, because this is who you are now, Embry. None of us asked for this. The best we can do is band together and try to help each other through it. We're helping you, and when Quil, and Jake, and whoever else this hits next goes through it, you're going to help them."

"Why should I?" Embry snapped. Sam leaned even closer, a deep growl resounding in his chest.

"Because that's what brothers do."

He fished his car keys out of his pocket and motioned for Embry to follow him. "Come on."

"What now?" Embry muttered.

"We're going to Emily's place," he said simply.

"Who's Emily?" Embry asked. Sam smiled, a look that was completely foreign looking on his stern, hard face.

"A very important person."

They loaded into Sam's truck, Embry in the back with Jared.

"Why can't I go see Jake and Quil?" Embry asked the older boy. Jared looked on as they pulled away from the house where he had gotten his tattoo.

"They'll be with us soon," he said. Jared watched Embry's face fall.

"You'll understand. You might hurt them bro. Just hang with us for a few days."

Embry scowled at him, but agreed.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

Embry winced as he opened his bedroom door. His mom sat at the kitchen table, gripping her steaming coffee mug so tightly that her knuckles were white. He shuffled in, doing his best to make it look like he had just woken up.

He grabbed the pot, pouring himself a cup.

"You were out again last night," she said finally. He cringed before turning around to face her.

His looked at her blankly. She looked as tired as he felt, and he didn't have the energy to try to lie to her that morning. It was a constant battle that neither one of them would win, and he had given up trying to days ago. Each night, she would come home from her second shift job and find Embry's bed empty. He would attempt to sneak in while she was sleeping, but he knew that she knew. She only slept for a few hours before getting up to her first shift job, and she always managed to slip at least a half an hour of yelling at him in there somewhere.

"I want to know where ya been, Em," she said tiredly into her coffee cup.

"Mom, I was out. I'm sorry."

"That's not what I asked. Where do you go every night?"

"Just out, Mom. Can we please drop it? I'm tired."

She inhaled sharply. "You're tired cuz you're not at home in your bed like you should be! The school called, Embry. Message was on the machine that you've only been there once in two weeks."

"They need to mind their own business!" he snapped.

His mom's eyes widened. "They thought something horrible had happened to you! You used to be such a good kid, and when you stopped showing up two weeks ago, they thought you'd been hurt! Or that I was beating you and you didn't want to come to school!"

"Mom..."

"I kinda wanted to beat you after hearing that!" she yelled, standing up. Her chair fell out behind her, but she paid no attention. "Em, what is going on with you?'

Embry sipped the hot liquid from his mug, wincing slightly at the heat. "Mom, I'm going through some stuff right now, and you don't need to worry about it," he said, tucking a strand of his long hair behind his ears. He eyed her warily, hoping that he could keep his tempter under control.

"That's bullshit, Embry!"

"I can't help it!" He yelled back. "I can't please everyone!"

"The only person you need to worry about pleasing is me! And you can do that by staying home at night and going to school like you should!"

"I'll go back to school later. School will always be there!" he snapped. How dare she yell at him now? Here he was, risking his life to protect her from vampires and she had the nerve to yell at him like this!

Calm down…calm down…it's just mom…she doesn't know… he tried to soothe himself. He closed his eyes and sucked in a deep breath, feeling the heat that lingered in his spine fizzle and cool.

"I want you here at night, in your bed like you're supposed to be!" She screamed. "I don't want to come home from work every night and look in there and see you gone! It's not right for a kid your age!"

"Mom, I'm seventeen," he argued.

"That doesn't make it right! God Embry, I'm a bad enough parent as it is, I don't need you running around all night and then not showing up at school!"

"Mom-"

"No! I've had enough!" she bellowed, slamming her coffee cup down on the counter. Drops of the black liquid splashed out onto the counter, but she didn't appear to care. She grabbed her coat off the hook and her purse, yanking the door open.

"When I come home from second shift tonight, I expect you to be in this house. And I expect you to go to school today!" she demanded. With a slam of the door, she was gone. Embry sighed, leaning against the kitchen counter as if it was the only thing holding him up. He was so exhausted that he thought he would collapse. School wasn't an option for him anymore these days…he was just too tired. Between his Dr. Jekyll temper and freakishly hot body that couldn't stand much clothing, school was the last place he wanted to be. Besides…he was barely awake enough to stand up.

His head bobbed sleepily as he caught himself. Sleep would be good right now. The house was quiet, his mother was gone, and there would be no interruptions. He knew that Jared and Paul were going to school today to look for other guys who looked like they would be making the change soon. Sam estimated with all the vampire activity that someone else was bound to change soon; he was busying himself today meeting with the elders to try and decide exactly who they needed to keep an eye on.

Embry had a feeling Sam knew, but he didn't want to say it yet. He did a good job of blocking his thoughts in front of everyone when they were patrolling, but Embry could feel the name of the next person on the tip of Sam's tongue. He hoped that Sam wasn't right about Jake and Quil – he didn't want this for his friends. No one deserved this.

He slept on the couch most of the day, only waking up once to shovel down the last few bites of a casserole that was days old. He had never felt so hungry in his entire life. No matter how much he ate and ate, it was never enough. As if to echo his thought, his stomach gurgled restlessly as he lay back down on the couch.

Sam's call rang through the forest several hours later. Embry opened his eyes groggily, getting his surroundings in check. Sometimes when he woke up, he wasn't sure what form he should expect to be in; it all seemed to blur together these days. With a sigh, he got himself up off the couch and stretched. It was nearly six p.m., meaning he had slept for almost twelve hours.

"I prolly need it," he mumbled to himself, yawning. Opening the door, he saw Sam standing in human form at the edge of his yard.

"Good, you got some sleep," he said, nodding at him. Embry shook his head, still in the process of waking up.

"I heard your mom this morning after I dropped you off," Sam said quietly. Embry rolled his eyes, embarrassed that his Alpha had heard his mom yelling at him. Sam always tried to hang around as much as he could in case Embry needed help; he knew how dangerous a young wolf's temper could be.

"It'sok" Embry slurred, brushing his hair out of his eyes. The past two weeks had definitely been more like a blur than anything else. A tiring, painful blur. His body constantly ached as it got used to shifting from human to wolf form all the time, and he was out patrolling most nights with the rest of the pack to keep a pair of rogue vampires away. Between the pack, patrolling, and his mom, he felt like he was being pulled in about a million directions. He felt like he was going to snap soon.

"Paul and Jared told me I should let you tell your mother," Sam offered, looking sideways at him as they walked through the woods.

Embry paused, stopping in the darkening woods. His toes dug into the damp moss at his feet as he considered it. Would it be any easier if his mom knew?"

"It's up to you Embry. It might make things easier…"

Embry pictured him mom's tired face and weary eyes as she had yelled at him. Was it better for her to just think that he was going through a rebellious stage? Would it be any better if she knew he was a werewolf who chased vampires?

"I…I don't think I want her to know."

Sam watched his face, knowing the Embry wasn't finished.

"I just…I don't want her to worry about something like that. What I am…what I do…and why," he shrugged. "I just…she's got enough to worry about. I don't think….nah, Sam, it's alright. The secret is just…"

"It's okay. Some people know," Sam reminded him.

Embry looked back in the direction of his house. His mom would be home soon, and she would find the house empty once again. He shook his head once more.

"Nah…the secret is too important. She can't know," he finally decided. Sam reached out, putting his hand on Embry's shoulder.

"You're a good person, Em. You're a good wolf too. If you don't want to tell her, then that's your decision. I'll respect it."

Embry nodded and the two kept walking. At first he had hated Sam and the pack and everything they stood for. They had ripped him away from his normal life – true, it hadn't been a good one, but it was all he knew. He no longer could see much of his mom, and he couldn't see any of his friends. Jake and Quil had called and called the first few days, and he was sure his mom had told them that he was being 'difficult', as she liked to call it.

Maybe they'll think I have mono, Embry hoped to himself. His missed his friends, but mainly…he just missed his old life.

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Embry watched with leery eyes as Emily placed the platter of muffins on the table in front of him. She offered him a crooked smile as she slowly backed away, not dropping his gaze. He looked away, not wanting to make Sam think he was staring.

This was only the second time he had been allowed in Sam's house, and one of the first times he had met Emily. Sam had brought him to Emily's house after his first hissy fit about not being able to talk to Jacob and Quil for awhile. Sam hadn't said anything when he introduced him to Emily. He hadn't needed to. The scars running down her face and arm were like neon, flashing reminders that he had no business being around people unless he had to be. Seeing Emily had shut him up about seeing Jacob and Quil. If he had hurt one of them like that, he would never be able to forgive himself.

He took a bite of the food, and sighed as the warm muffin practically melted in his mouth. He couldn't remember the last time he had eaten something that wasn't either cafeteria food, leftovers, or cold cereal. This…this was real food.

"Emily's cooking is the best," Paul grinned at him, giving him a knowing look.

"Yeah, my mom doesn't even cook this good," Jared grinned through a mouthful of food. Embry smiled, taking another huge bite. He looked up in surprise as a glass of orange juice appeared in front of him. Emily gave him another slightly crooked smile with her scarred face, and he hesitantly returned it.

Her eyes met Sam's, and Embry watched as he seemed to beckon to her silently, and soon she made her way over to sit on his lap. He leaned up and kissed her scarred face as if the marks from his sharp claws weren't even there. Embry looked away, already feeling like an intruder.

After they had eaten a little, Embry was surprised again when Emily motioned for him to follow her into the small living room by the kitchen.

"Go ahead," Sam said when Embry looked over at him questioningly.

Embry followed her, careful to stay a safe distance away. He was sure he could control himself, but he didn't want to scare the girl that was obviously so important to Sam.

"Come on," she said, walking over to a recliner overflowing with bags.

"What's this?" he asked quietly, cocking his head to look in the bags.

"The Elders send some funds our way," she said somewhat sheepishly. "To help out," she finished. Opening the blue Wal-Mart bag, she pulled out at least five pairs of black sweat pants.

"I cut off the gathered elastic on the bottoms, cuz I know Sam hates that," she said, unfolding a pair. "But try a 2xl and make sure they fit. That's the smallest size I got, because I got them all before you joined."

Embry nodded, giving her a knowing smile. He knew he was the smallest wolf in the pack so far. Sam was the largest, followed by Paul, then Jared. Sam told him that he might grow more yet. Either way, he was at least a foot taller and fifty pounds heavier than when he first transformed.

"Thanks," he said. Slipping into the bathroom, he tried them on and was relieved that they fit. He needed more clothes desperately – he had shred at least eight pairs of pants in the past two weeks.

He emerged, clutching the sweats and grinning shyly. "They fit," he said softly.

"Great," she said.

Embry sighed, putting them back in the bag and searching in his pocket for a hair tie. His long locks were still shoulder length, and were growing increasingly hot by the day.

"Are you too hot with your hair?" she asked politely, looking over at him as she refolded the waiting stacks of sweatpants. Her voice was kind yet shy, quiet and comforting.

Embry felt an embarrassed blush rise in his cheeks. "Uhm, yeah, a little. I haven't had the chance to get to a barber," he said.

Emily giggled. "I have clippers, you know," she said. "Do you want to go outside and have me cut it? It would be cooler," she added.

Embry thought a moment. He didn't really want to cut his hair; he had had long hair most of his life. However, she did have a point. It was unbearably hot.

"Come on," she said finally. Leading him out the back door, she set a stool down on the porch and got her supplies. Sam watched from the other side of the glass with an amused smile as Emily began shearing away his long black hair, replacing it with a short buzz cut that was slightly longer in the front.

"That should help," she said. Embry sighed, already feeling better with the short 'do.

"Thanks Emily," he said softly.

"No problem," she laughed. "So…how are you handling all this?"

Embry paused, unsure of what to say. "Um…good, I guess."

"I bet you miss your friends," she prodded. "Sam said you did."

"He did?"

"Mmmhmmm…" she hummed as she worked.

"He's not as bad as he pretends to be," she said, knowing full well that Sam could hear her through the glass. Embry heard a snort come from inside.

"He's fine, this is all just…different."

Emily laughed lightly, carefully brushing the extra hairs away from his ears.

"I'm sure at least Jake will phase soon. Billy is an elder, and he said that Jake is getting a lot bigger."

Embry sighed as Emily continued to talk, but her voice eventually became a dull sound in the back of his mind. His heart sank as he realized that his best friend would soon share his fate. Bursting into a giant monster and chasing after other monsters was not the life he would have selected for himself. He wished the Jacob didn't have to live like this, but he knew Emily was probably right. If Billy thought Jake would phase soon, then it was probably true.

Enjoy your last few days as a human, Jake, he thought sadly. Life will never be the same for you after that…

x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

Hope you Enjoyed Embry! Sorry for the delay – I got wrapped up in some of my other stories (If you like wolfpack stuff, check out my new fic 'Love This Pain' – it gives Seth some love) and Embry was just plain hard to write.

Good News! Several portions of Immortal are up for Single Shot Awards! Sorry for faking you out the other day, but I didn't know how else to let people know I was up for an award!

Please vote if you have a chance – the link is on my profile page. I'm up against some biggies! 'Out in the Garden' and 'Love Runs Wild' are also nominated! I'm up for several other awards as well, and links are on the page if you would like to vote. I'd love you forever : )

Next up is Jake! I'm going to try really hard to NOT have his story cover a lot of the events of New Moon. Meaning, if you saw Jake do it in the book, I'm trying to write about what happened behind the scenes and what we didn't read about. There are so many stories out there that cover that already, and I want to dare to be different : )

Please review! As EliseShaw says…"It takes me a long time to write several thousand (this one was 11k+) the least you can do is leave me a few nice words."

Right?