It was a warm day on the reservation as she stood in the sand of La Push, feeling it weaving itself between her bare toes. She knew that once she'd gone away that things would be different but she'd had no idea just how different they would be. It wasn't like before at all. It was tense and it seemed that everyone was holding so many secrets that they could burst at any time. She could see it in the way they spoke to each other in hushed tones, always in their little group, pointing at but never speaking to her.
Anna wondered why. Why wouldn't anyone speak to her? It felt like she was the only person on the outside looking in and she hated it. She hated the feeling of being an outcast in the place she had once called home, and the place she was once again forced to live in after her failed attempt to get out. Well, the getting out had come easily to her; it was the staying out that was hard for her. There was no one on the outside who was willing to help a person like her, she'd come to find, and the obstacles she came across only became more insurmountable as time went on. She knew that she wouldn't be able to last on the outside for long, try as she might, so she called her mother after months of not speaking to the older woman and informed her of her daughter's situation which caused the woman to take pity on her and allow her to move into the old house the family had moved out of generations ago.
She wasn't proud of it but she stayed there for the meantime while she searched for some kind of way to ensure she'd be able to make it on her own the second time. She, of course, hadn't informed her mother of this and instead opted to telling her that she was grateful and that she would find her own place to stay soon enough. In the time between then and the time she would spend on the outside again, she made sure not to cause trouble for once and mostly stayed to herself. Like then, when she was standing on the beach alone for the umpteenth time.
At least, that was what she thought was happening. She had no idea that there were people several yards behind her until she heard someone call out her name and she recognized that voice in an instant. She turned around to see the source of the voice with a smile plastered on her face. It had been a while but she was glad her brother, Quil, had come to see her.
A few moments later, she noticed that he wasn't alone as he approached with some people who appeared to be friends of his who she couldn't quite place. She was sure she hadn't met them before yet one of them was staring at her as if he was having an epiphany of some sort. He was taller than the rest and appeared to be older than them as well, maybe the same age as she was, with the same cropped black hair and tattoo she had noticed on her little brother weeks prior.
She decided to ignore the look he was giving her and turned her attention to her brother, who she kept smiling at. "Hey little brother," she spoke as she approached him at the same time as the others approached her. She stopped several feet short of him and placed her hands on her hips. "You're finally talking to me, huh?" The question seemed to elicit some embarrassment from him as he reached up behind him to scratch the back of his neck, causing the muscles he seemed to have sprouted overnight to move.
"Yeah," he spoke after what seemed like an eternity. "Sorry about that. Life's just been busy lately, ya know? I promise I'll make it up to you eventually." It seemed like a lame excuse to her but she nodded in response anyway, a playful smirk playing at her lips. "You'd better." There were a few moments of silence between them before Quil spoke up as if he had forgotten something. "Oh yeah. This is Sam. He's a friend of mine," the sixteen-year-old introduced his friend quickly. This seemed to cause the one who had been staring at her strangely- who she now knew as Sam- to move a bit closer to her and extend his hand for her to shake. She did, and it made him smile brightly. Upon seeing that, Anna could have sworn her heart skipped a beat.
"I'm Anna, Quil's sister. It's nice to meet you, Sam," the woman introduced herself seeing as her brother had failed to do so. She couldn't fault him for that. Not when she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. "It's nice to meet you too," Sam spoke, his voice somehow as deep as she'd imagined it to be. She couldn't help but smile at that and she pulled her hand away from his after a moment. She couldn't understand why, but she found his presence to be somewhat of a comfort to her. She then felt less alone than she had before she'd come into contact with him and she silently thanked him for that.
She was brought out of her reverie by the sound of Sam speaking again. "We're having a bonfire tonight. You should come," he said pleasantly. There was something about the way he suddenly thought of that which had her curiosity piqued and she knew that she was going to accept it though it may have been against her better judgment.
"Sure. What time is it?" she asked. Sam seemed pleased with her answer. "It's at seven. I'll come pick you up," he answered. His offer shocked her a bit but she quickly recovered and asked, "How do you know where I live?" The man laughed, a melodious sound that made her knees feel a bit weak. "I don't. Your brother will have to show me," he said and she became slightly bashful after having realized it may have been a stupid question. She didn't allow that to show, however, and her expression remained neutral.
"Okay. I'll see you then," she said with a wave. The woman had determined it was the best time for her to return home and get ready for the bonfire that would take place in a few hours. Aside from that, she needed to get ahold of herself if she was going to be around that man for who knew how long.
It was three hours later when Anna had stepped out of the shower and dressed herself in a simple outfit consisting of a Rolling Stones T-shirt, light brown jacket, and a pair of black jeans bootcut jeans tucked into ankle length boots. She had brushed out her long brown hair to reach just past her chest and she smoothed it out over her shirt as she zipped up her jacket. It was supposed to be a cold evening; she knew that she would need to bundle up somewhat to keep from catching a cold despite having blow dried her hair.
A series of soft knocks at the door had her standing from her seat on the couch and turning off her TV to see who it was. She had a sneaking suspicion that Sam was the one who had been so punctual but she needed to check to be sure. The moment she opened up the door, she was greeted by the large man she'd met earlier that day, wearing a sleeveless top with the same khaki shorts he'd had on earlier. "You're wearing that? Don't you know you'll catch a cold in this weather?" she asked him. He responded with a delighted laugh. "Don't worry about me. I'll be fine," he spoke but she didn't believe him. "Yeah. When you catch a cold, don't come crying to me," she shot back.
He laughed again before moving out of the front of the door to allow her to pass through. She did, and when she did, she noticed her brother wasn't there. "Where's Quil? Didn't he come with you?" she turned to ask casually. She didn't really mind that he wasn't there but it would have been nice to know that he wasn't going to show up in the first place. Maybe the teen had planned to leave her alone with Sam to get to know one another better and she wasn't sure whether to be grateful to him or silently curse him for giving her another opportunity to embarrass herself in front of the man.
"He decided to go help them set things up. Besides, I wanted to talk to you anyway and I figured he didn't want to feel like he was being a third wheel," Sam clarified. Anna raised an eyebrow at his last comment. "Oh? Is there something you wanted to tell me?" she asked him, her tone slightly inclined. Sam looked down at her and she saw what appeared to be a look of quiet contemplation on his face. It was gone almost as soon as it came; far too soon for her to tell whether she had truly seen it or not. "Yes, but not yet. I don't think you're ready." With that ominous answer, he walked ahead of her a little ways and she quickly followed after him with great effort. That was the price she had to pay for having such short legs.
"What is that supposed to mean?" she asked. She didn't receive an answer. Instead, he changed the subject altogether.
"How does it feel to be back here after half a decade? Your brother told me you moved to Seattle a while back," Sam attempted to make conversation with her. She knew what he was doing but decided to indulge him in conversation even if it meant that she had to put her concerns aside for the time being. "I did," she confirmed. "It feels strange to be back, if I'm being honest. Everyone is always acting so weird now and I feel like they're all in on some big secret I don't know. You're the only one who has been even remotely normal to me since I came back here." As she vented to him, she failed to notice the way he placed a hand on the small of her back in a gesture so soft that she couldn't feel it. As if he was going to break her if he did it too roughly.
"You know, it isn't the others' fault that they feel the need to be so secretive around you. You are the one who just came back here after being gone for years. Maybe they feel like they can't tell you anything yet for fear that you'll run off again," he spoke more gently than before. Her eyes shot up to meet his after he finished saying his piece and she was in shock that her brother had told him about that. At least, she assumed it was her brother because of how close the two seemed to be. "Quil told you," she spoke, deflating as her gaze cast downwards. "Look, I know you probably mean well but it hasn't been easy for me. It never was. Dealing with the things I was dealing with back then made it almost impossible for me to stay here at the time. I couldn't take it. Now a part of me wishes I hadn't come back at all."
Sam frowned and moved his hand from the small of her back to her shoulder, stopping her from walking as she gazed up at him once more. "Hey. Don't say that. You just got here not too long ago. There's plenty more to see than just the negative side of things. Sure, you may have dealt with some things that you didn't want to in the past, but things could be different now. Things could be better now. You know that things are only going to be what you make of them and thinking negatively will only make you miserable all the time," he spoke with an almost desperate tone to his voice. She got the impression that he didn't want her to leave. Maybe he didn't have many friends, either.
She cracked a small smile. "Maybe you're right," she admitted to him, knowing full well it wouldn't have done her any good to have denied that. Her eyes looked to the side slightly as she became aware of his hand on her shoulder and she gently removed it with her hand, ignoring how good the heat of his skin felt against her cold flesh. He quickly caught her hand with his own and held it for a moment.
His mouth opened and closed as if he wanted to say something to her but thought better of it. That was the second time he had seemed to be consciously deciding not to tell her something and it was aggravating to say the least. "If you have something to say, just say it," she told him plainly. He looked like he had been caught doing a thing he wasn't supposed to be doing and he released her hand. She instantly felt the cold on her hand in the absence of his but she didn't say anything about it. Rather, she opted to huff and walk on ahead of him to the bonfire where there were plenty of people already gathered.
She felt out of place the moment she saw almost everyone's gazes turn to her and she shifted uncomfortably underneath them until she saw what appeared to be a friendly face smiling at her and approaching her. "Hey. I'm Bella. You must be Anna," the pale woman spoke and Anna smiled. "Hi. It's nice to meet you." "Likewise."
The other brunette led the shorter Quileute to a place on one of the logs in front of the fire. Both sat down, Bella sitting beside Jacob. "They're telling the legends tonight. Sam thought it'd be important for you and Bella to hear them, although you already have before Anna," Jake spoke with a slight smile as he looked at Bella afterward. "Well, it's been a while since I last heard them so I might have forgotten a thing or two," Anna said with a chuckle.
She felt a warm presence beside her and she wasn't sure whether it was another person or the fire until she turned her head to see Sam sitting there. He smiled at her and she returned the smile while he took her hand in his own. It was comfortable to have her hand in his own and so she left it that way for the duration of the storytelling, the smile not leaving her lips for a while.
An hour passed before the legends were through being told and everyone stood from their various places on the seats. Anna said her goodbye to Bella who'd had to go home afterward before her attention turned to the impossibly warm man to the side of her. "Goodnight, Sam," she spoke. He sighed lightly to himself. "Sweet dreams, Anna," he said. That was the last thing she heard from him that night and she headed home, almost immediately falling into an uncomfortable sleep plagued with dreams of the spirit warriors and Cold Ones.