Erica looks in the mirror, twists and turns this way and that, admiring curves and color, luster and shine. She's perfect...perfect. Everything that made her a target, that made her weak, is gone; vanished in the space of hours. No epilepsy, no reactions to medication that leave her skin blotchy and marred, no panic attacks that make her freeze on rock climbing walls. Everyone still stares when she walks by, but now it's because she's strong, beautiful, and they all know it. Everyone wants her. Everyone.
Except Stiles, that annoying little voice in her head whispers. And Scott. And Derek. Because despite the way he touched her in the hospital, he's yet to follow through, yet to do more than drag her and Isaac shopping through two different malls, shoving them into the hands of salespeople while he glowers in a put upon way and browses through a selection of graphic tees - ones that Erica thinks he would rather die than actually wear. But in the few days she's known him, Derek's done little that she understands. Like having her waltz into school and right back out again; she realizes later it's less a coming out for her new and improved self, than Derek wanting Scott to know he's consolidating power, a meticulously plotted lead in to last night's showdown. Not that she would have cared if she had known. The look on Lydia Martin's face, when she realizes her reign as HBIC is over, was worth any amount of manipulation. But the truth is that Derek is always thinking ten steps ahead, always running multiple odds. She's not stupid, she just can't be bothered – it's the Alpha's job to look ahead.
There's an amused snort from behind her, where Isaac is sitting curled up in a nest of blankets, reading a comic book of all things.
'You should give that poor mirror a break.'
She arches one perfect eyebrow. 'I'm gorgeous. Why shouldn't I stare? And what are you doing? We're not dorks anymore. Stop acting like one.'
He shrugs without looking up. He doesn't begrudge her, or judge her for her new found vanity. He knows they made their choices for different reasons. He may have been abused at home, but other than assholes like Jackson Whittemore, no one tortured him at school on a daily basis, mocked him for a medical condition he had no control of. He wants power to not live in fear; Erica wants power to not hate herself for things beyond her control. Derek's offer grants both their wishes. He knows the real Erica, though, the one behind her newly acquired self love, and he hopes that after she's settled into herself, that some of the girl he grew acquainted with, as they crossed paths multiple times in front of the office of the school's guidance counselor, will remain.
'Why should I? I like comic books as much as you like the new Star Wars Trilogy. I'm not going to stop just because we're kind of awesome now.'
Another thing he doesn't begrudge, is the fact Derek so very obviously set them up to get their asses kicked by Scott, and he doesn't blame Scott for doing it. It excites him, if he's honest, because he sees what he has the potential to become, if he's smart and works hard, and doesn't let the petty shit distract him. And just because he doesn't act like it, doesn't mean he wasn't listening to Scott, either. Derek may have picked them because they would want what he offered, but it is about power. Power for Derek. Power to consolidate his hold and power to beat the Hunters. In this way they are just tools. Isaac doesn't hold it against him – they're all struggling against something – but he doesn't want to die for that, either.
And he's not stupid. He knows the way he feels now – strong, confident, a little bit proud, but still him - is totally different from the way he feels when Derek is here – hopped up on power, smug, and itching to rip someone's throat out. He doesn't know how to balance it, how to bleed off some of his Alpha's emotions while still tapping into the pack. He thinks Scott would know, but is pretty sure Derek wouldn't approve of going behind his back; Stiles is another option, but he's fairly certain last night burned those bridges as well.
The Stiles part bothers him far more than the Scott part.
'Where did you get that anyway? I can't see Derek hoarding a secret comic book stash.'
He and Erica exchange a silent look, while the sounds of Derek working with Boyd, outside in the train yard, come bleeding through. She quirks her eyebrow again and then they both break down in laughter.
'No,' Isaac agrees. 'It would ruin all the broody, Hamlet-esque style he's working.'
Erica plops down next to Isaac, shifts her shoulder until it's snuggled in right next to his. He was her best friend before all of this, and she's glad he remembered her, glad he's with her on this journey. It's one thing to know everyone loves her now; but he cared about her when there were videos of her pissing herself posted up on YouTube.
He flips a page. 'I got them from Stiles.'
She stiffens and sits up straight. 'You're kidding.'
'Nope. He brought some stuff by the other day. Probably would have done it for you, too. Except, you know, you tried to bash his head in.'
She can actually feel the blood drain from her face, remembering the look on Derek's, when he realized how zealously she had carried out his orders to keep Stiles safely away from the coming fight. She had just been so angry , for reasons she isn't about to tell Derek - although she's sure he knows - and the next thing she knew, Stiles had been unconscious at her feet. Then there was panic, the thought she had killed him, before the steady thump, thump of his heart had soaked through.
She knows Derek went to go see Stiles last night, knows he came back so angry that Isaac later tells her he has to fight the urge to pummel her into the ground.
'It was an accident ,' she hisses, feeling her canines start to lengthen before she reigns them back in. She hates when she slips; it feels far too familiar, like the seconds before a seizure, when the taste of blood fills her mouth and she knows she's going to lose control.
'I know,' Isaac says, using his foot to slide the box of comics in her direction, smiling small as she narrows her eyes before pulling out the least offensive looking one from the box. Boredom makes a girl do desperate things. 'But you've got to get a hold on it, Erica. You can't go flying off the handle at humans. We hurt one of them, the Hunters have just one more excuse. I don't want to die.'
Erica doesn't want Isaac to die either. Hell, she doesn't want to die. It's just all so much more complicated than what she expected, than what Derek had advertised.
'It won't happen again,' she promises, just like she promised Derek last night. But with Isaac, she really means it.
'Good,' he says seriously, before grinning. 'But I'm still pretty sure you're not getting a care package from Stiles.'
She swats him over the head with the comic book, then lays her head on his shoulder as she starts to read.