Boyd has always been in the edge of her vision, since the third grade when her family moved to Beacon Hills, right next to his. There was a plot of dying grass in-between his apartment complex and her family’s trailer, chain link fence all that was in the way of walking straight over. Erica hated that plot.
She remembered being eight and leaning against the back of the couch to stare out the window as all the kids from the complex played tag or soccer there. Boyd was always there with his little sister, who must have been half the age of most of the kids, but still ran around like she owned the place. Sometimes she would go up to Boyd and hang off of his arms until he picked her up and spun her around like a helicopter. She had laughter like a scream, and Erica hated it because she wanted to be having fun too. Erica wasn’t allowed to play airplane.
“Can I go outside, Mom?”
“Sorry sweetie, not today. You know you can’t roughhouse like those other kids, and mama can’t keep an eye on out there and work at the same time.”
“But if you sit by the window you don’t even have to go outside.”
“Erica, this isn’t up for discussion. Why don’t you go find something to watch on tv?”
Her mom wouldn’t look up from her computer the entire time. She wouldn’t even wait for Erica to leave before making another phone call. Erica listened to the same phone thirty times a day between the end of school and dinner. Her mom gave surveys, and there was always a steady stream of ‘and what is your birth date?’ and ‘how satisfied would you say you are with our product?’ coming from the kitchen turned office.
Some days before asking Erica would be really ambitious. She would put on her favorite sweater so the other kids could see how cool she looked and set her shoes by the door. She would peak outside one last time and see what the kids were doing and mentally plot out exactly who she was going to go up to and ask to play with. She would clean the mess from her after school snack up all on her own and be extra sweet when she asked.
“Mom, it’s really nice today. Can I play outside?”
“Erica, you know I’m working.”
“Please. You never let me do anything.”
The days when her mom would sigh in disappointment were the worst. She was so pretty with her bobbed blond hair and her blue eyes and the make-up she wore even when she wasn’t going anywhere. She was a little less pretty when she got upset.
”Erica,” she said sternly, “what exactly do you think is going to happen if I say you can go play and you have a seizure? Do you think any of those kids are going to know what to do?”
“But I took my medicine today and I slept all last night and I ate on time and everything Dr. Abel said.”
“It’s not worth the risk, sweetie,” there was a hand on her head that was heavy and cold, her mom had always had such cold hands. And when her mouth was downturned and her eyes look tired, Erica couldn’t push back anymore. She never wanted her mom to be sad, especially not because of her.
She would take off her sweater and put it back in her room, and try not to look at her shoes as she passed by the front door to get back to the living room. And then she would sit right back on the couch, staring at the window.
In fourth grade, they are put in the same class. She spends the entire year hiding behind a wall of her own hair. Boyd is the only one from their neighborhood in the same class and she wonders if he knows that she lives right on the other side of the empty lot from him. She wonders if he would invite her to play if he did. Maybe her mom would let her go if she was invited first. He never asks.
Neither does anyone else.
In fifth grade, Boyd’s sister notices Erica watching out the window. She tugs on her brother’s sleeve, and then she waves. Erica is chewing on her hair, something her mom hated, but she felt nervous when she didn’t do it. Boyd waves too. Erica wonders if he thinks she’s weird.
His sister waves a lot after that.
When she’s Erica is twelve, Boyd’s sister stops playing outside. Things get noticeably quieter and Boyd doesn’t play as much with the other kids anymore. Erica wants to know what happened, but she couldn’t ask. The waving stops. There is no more energetic little girl gesturing for Erica to come outside. They had kind of been friends, or at least the closest thing to friends Erica had ever had, communicating daily through hand gestures.
Boyd doesn’t wave at her without his sister there to encourage him, but their eyes meet sometimes and Erica thinks he looks sad.
In middle school, Boyd isn’t in her vision as much, because in middle school Erica makes friends. There’s a girl named Rachel who compliments who hair and after that everything changes. She turns thirteen and for a little while she feels normal. Her mom lets her go to the mall as long as she wears her medical bracelet and has the cellphone on her. Erica has to promise a thousand times that Rachel will call for help if she has a seizure, but eventually she gives in.
She doesn’t spend every day looking outside the window anymore. Somedays, she doesn’t even think of the neighbor kids at all. She never has money to buy anything, but Rachel and her spend their time walking from store to store, pointing at clothes neither of them can afford until they get told to buy something or get lost.
She passes Boyd in the mall once, absently chewing on a lock of hair as she waits for Rachel to get back from the bathroom. It’s a habit she hasn’t quite dropped, but tries not to do in front of her new found friend. Boyd is walking by himself, a single bag in his hand, when they catch eyes.
It’s been five years since she first noticed him.
She says ‘hi’ for the first time.
His eyes get a little wide, and he says ‘hey’ back and keeps walking.
Erica feels her face flush with pleasure, and she knows she is grinning like an idiot when Rachel gets back.
At the beginning of high school her mom stops driving her to and from school and lets her take the bus. She and Boyd take the same looping route around town, the ride is a few minutes longer than the other bus, but it’s a lot less crowded. He’s quiet, and always alone, and she wonders when that happened because she always remembers him getting along with the complex kids pretty well. But even when they are on the same bus, Boyd is always by himself, staring out the window with his face closed off.
She smiles at him whenever they catch each other’s eyes. His returning smile is always short and halfhearted, but she thinks of all the time she spent alone on her couch and how good she would feel when Boyd and his sister waved at her, and she keeps doing it.
High school is good. Erica loves it. She and Rachel get adopted into another group of middle-ranking kids, and they sit together at lunch and complain about teachers and go to lacrosse games together. She likes little things like getting up in the morning and straightening her hair, which she’d finally stopped chewing on. She likes having people who care how she is. She likes being visible.
The day after she seizes and pees herself in class is the day she stops doing her hair. The day after that is the day all of her friends, even Rachel, stop caring how she is. The day after that she wishes no one could see her.
Erica hasn’t been to school in a week, she’s been precariously balancing doctor’s notes and the maximum amount of unexcused absences she can have without truancy to avoid going to school when it’s possible. A building full of people laughing, snickering behind her back…the first day she’d come back after the incident, she had opened her locker only to have a pack of diapers fall out. The school year is almost finished now, and she’s scraping by with a c-minus average.
She sleeps during the day and ignores her mom, and wakes up at night and looks out the window where it’s just a little too late for the kids to be playing. Boyd doesn’t hang out there anymore. Most of the kids who were her age have moved on to bigger and better hangouts, and the younger siblings and new kids to the area have taken over the lot as their spot.
But she still sees him. He must have gotten a job or something, because he comes home after school very briefly and before leaving and returning hours later. The same pattern almost every day, she’ll be sitting on the couch, half pretending to read a book and chewing on her hair when he comes home. Sometimes he stops in the lot for a while, but she doesn’t know why. Why he does he just sits on one of the upside down crates the kids use to build forts and looks around for a while before getting up and going home.
She’s guessing it’s a job and not friends because when she actually goes to school he’s always alone. He sits at a table at lunch all on his own, watching the table instead of the people around him. Erica tries to stay out of the cafeteria when possible, too many people. Even though she walks with her head down and her hair in her face as her protection, she can still feel them stare. Boyd is probably the one person who doesn’t.
Sometimes, as she is sitting in the library alone while the rest of the students finish their lunch, she imagines sitting at his table. Maybe they wouldn’t even talk; they could just be alone together. She imagines it ten thousand different ways. She pictures them becoming friends, but most often she pictures him turning her away. No one is lonely enough to want to be friends with her.
She never works up the courage to actually do it.
Erica’s sixteen and two things happen in one day. Scott McCall holds her hand while she seizes, and she becomes a werewolf.
They’re both pretty big things.
Erica meets Isaac the night she gets the bite, and they run with Derek through the forest. She’s fast and she’s strong and she’s free and nothing is going to hold her down again. Derek gives her a jacket and she grins so hard she can barely see. She slips it on and they match. She can hear every breath, every heartbeat, she can smell them. Its pack, it’s amazing.
She isn’t alone.
It’s almost 10 when she walks in that night, her mom is sitting on the couch, phone gripped tightly in her hand and Erica can smell salt/worry/anger and its overwhelming.
“Where have you been?! Do you know how worried I was when the hospital called to tell me you had disappeared?”
“It’s fine, Mom. I’m fine,” she doesn’t look up because she can feel it rolling under her skin, the urge to break loose and she knows her eyes must be shining. “Back off okay.”
The huffing noise that comes out of her mom’s mouth is actually pretty funny, and Erica can’t help the smile that slips onto her face.
“You think this is funny? You think it’s okay to almost scare me into a heart attack? You better start explaining yourself now, and where the hell did you get that jacket?”
Erica does look up then. They’ve been the same height since her last growth spurt, and she can smell the surprise her mom feels when their eyes meet. Erica isn’t eight anymore, her main concern isn’t the mother who pawned her off on tv, who didn’t care that Erica had spent the last two years with no friends, always two breaths away from a panic attack.
“None of your business, mama,” she said the last bit with as much venom as she could muster. “Now if you don’t mind, I need my beauty rest.”
The spike in her mother’s heart rate brings a grin to Erica’s face. She’s out for blood and it feels good.
She walks into the cafeteria and owns it. The skirt is one she’s had since middle school, and hasn’t worn in a couple of years, hiked up for good measure. The shoes are the tallest fuck-me heels she could find that didn’t have coin slots in them. Erica bites into that boy’s apple and it’s the most delicious thing she’s ever tasted.
Out of the corner of her eye, Boyd looks confused, but Erica is walking on air.
Derek wants Boyd in the pack. Isaac agrees, says he doesn’t know much about him other than that he is always alone. When Derek asks Erica what she thinks about Boyd joining the pack, she can’t answer. Derek says pack is family, pack is forever. She pictures Boyd as a part of that, and she doesn’t know why she suddenly feels so antsy.
Erica is beautiful, she knows that now. She’s always been beautiful, but this is the first time she’s ever utilized it. Erica is beautiful, but no one wants her. Not the people she wants to want her. Scott doesn’t care about anyone except for Allison, and Derek for all his seductiveness when it came to giving her the bite had no interest in her. But Scott had held her hand. He’d saved her, and she wants that. She doesn’t need saved anymore, but she wants someone who will hold her hand.
They’re at the lacrosse game and she can feel the heat where their thighs are touching. It’s the first game she’s been to since freshman year. Finstock calls Boyd in and she warns him that Derek won’t be happy, but she’s got this cocky grin and she can taste apple in her mouth and knows that for Boyd, this is the same thing.
Her thigh is cold now, but she has to go anyways, she has a wayward teen to deliver to the alpha.
The kanima knocked her out for two hours like she was nothing.
She isn’t as powerful as she thought.
Derek drives her home, asks angrily where Boyd was, but she doesn’t want to answer. Instead she distracts him with questions about the kanima. He drops her off around the corner from her house, and she knows he hasn’t forgotten, but he isn’t going to deal with Boyd tonight at least.
Boyd is out on the sidewalk in front of the lot, waiting, when she walks around.
“Apparently in the supernatural world, lizard trumps dog. Who knew?”
He takes a step towards her, face suddenly more intense than usual, “you’re okay though?”
“I’m perfect,” she resists the urge to add an ‘as always.’ “A puppy came and saved the day.”
“Derek couldn’t take the thing down?”
Her earlier revelation is making its way across his face.
They aren’t invincible.
Being paralyzed is terrifying, but anger over Allison’s voice in her ear is distracting Erica from the fear of not being able to move.
Boyd picks Erica and Isaac both up with ease, slinging one of them over each shoulder. He takes off towards the forest, getting them far away from the Martin house before the authorities arrive. She’s stuck staring at the ground, unable to move, powerless. She can’t feel a thing, not Boyd’s hand holding her steady or the wind on her cheek.
All she can feel is rage.
She is better now, she’s powerful. She’s supposed to be on top.
Allison Argent hadn’t suffered a day in her life for what she had now; she didn’t deserve to have the things that Erica didn’t have.
She’s seething and projecting enough that she knows the others can feel it. Proof comes when the paralysis has worn off enough that they can move their faces, and the first thing Isaac does is laugh. She snaps her teeth at him, and he just laughs harder. If she could get her arm to move she would ring his fucking neck.
But she can feel the slightest tingling now. There’s the pressure of Boyd’s shoulder digging into her stomach where she’s bent over him, and if she closes her eyes she can and concentrates she can feel every single breath of Boyd’s move through her. Breathing in sync is suddenly so much easier than being angry.
And she tired from training all the time and being so angry, and Boyd has slowed down his pace now and in the rhythm of his breath lulls her into a calm.
The effects of the venom wear off completely in the next few minutes. Just touching it doesn’t have the same long lasting effect as the when the kanima gets it in you. Boyd has gotten them all out of the residential area and into the edge of the forest, and sets them both down gently.
“So, what do we do?” Isaac twists his back as he asks, the sound of bones cracking into place making her wince in disgust.
“We should circle back to Derek,” Boyd suggest, look back and forth between her and Isaac.
“No way,” Isaac answers right away, “I just got out from under their suspicion; I don’t want to get back in.”
“How charming of you,” she flashes him the bitchiest smile she can manage. “He’s right though,” she turns her attention to Boyd. “Derek didn’t want us there. He can handle himself.”
“I don’t feel right leaving him out there.”
“You’re such a big softy,” she knocked his shoulder and then linked their arms. “Come on, take me home. Who knows what kind of trouble I could get into without you? Pretty young girls shouldn’t be out by themselves.”
“I’d like the see the guy that tries to mess with you,” Isaac smirks in her direction.
“Don’t try to sweet talk me into forgiving you for laughing at me.”
“Sweet talk? Nah, we all know that dirty talk is the way to your heart,” he turned around and started walking into the forest, planning to shortcut to the other side of town. “Keep your phones on.”
When they get back to their own neighborhood, she takes them both to the empty plot. It was the first time she standing there. It was small, so much smaller that it had always seemed from her window. The curtains to her own place were closed; if she concentrated she could hear the deep breathing of her mother asleep.
Her heel sunk into the soft earth, and she took off her shoes and tossed them over the fence. She would find them sometime tomorrow. She wiggled her toes and dug them into the dirt. All those times her mom said she couldn’t come out here and this was all it was. She bites her lip in anger. All she had fucking wanted was to be in this spot and it wasn’t anything. It didn’t even matter.
“Erica,” she turned around and there was Boyd. And he was different too, from the boy she had looked out from her window who was all smiles for his sister. This wasn’t right.
“I must have looked pretty stupid, huh?” Her eyes felt wet but she refused to let any tears fall, and she would swear on her grave that the shuddering in her breath was from righteous anger.
“You looked sad.” And that was Boyd wasn’t it - all gentle and quiet and truth when it came to pack. He could posture with the best of them at school, and even Isaac was impressed with Boyd when Scott was around. But with pack he always hovered in the background. He never got in the middle of her and Isaacs petty catfights. He always told it like it was without the rest of the packs need for dramatics.
She took a deep breath and calmed herself down, and became powerful again.
“You could help make me feel better,” she threw him her best seductive smile.
“Stay here for a second,” Boyd turned and walked towards his apartment.
She had expected him to blow her off, pass it off as a joke. Which it was…maybe. She wouldn’t have said no to hooking up with him, at least. He wasn’t Scott, and there was probably some girl hanging around the school that Boyd would rather have than her (a poor choice to be honest). But Boyd understood the loneliness. They could help each other.
But when Boyd came back, it wasn’t to take her up on her offer.
He had something gripped in his hand, and when he got closer he held it out like a peace offering. It was a soccer ball. The laugh that she let out was one of genuine surprise, and she found herself trying to cover it.
“Really, you want me to play soccer with you?” She lifted an eyebrow and dripped pure grade bitch from her voice. It was a sweet gesture. Maybe the sweetest one anyone had ever made to her, and she didn’t know how to react. Reverting back to the new default just seemed easiest, even if it was bound to make her seem ungrateful and push him away.
“It’s okay to think you can’t take me,” he aimed that lopsided smirk at her.
“Oh that’s it.” She knocked the ball from his hand with a quick slap, and moved to kick it past him.
There were cones set up on either side of the lot to mark goals. They’d been there was as long as Erica could remember, long having lost their orange color and general shape. But they worked as place markers and that was all the needed. She danced to the side of Boyd and kicked the ball past him, but Boyd was at the goal and blocking it from entry before Erica’s foot even completed its follow through.
“Gonna have to try harder than that.”
She launched at him as fast as she ever tackled Derek during training, and he didn’t hold back either. She wasn’t delicate and he didn’t handle her like she was. They weren’t paying as much attention as they should, but Erica tried to tune her senses in to their surroundings to make sure they weren’t being seen.
This was it though. And if Erica laughed a little too loudly when she finally got the ball past Boyd, then what did it matter anyways.
They’re sitting in the lot again, back from Derek’s. She’s trying not to think of what happened in the library, trying not to panic or remember the pain. Looking at her now you wouldn’t know anything had happened, but healing wasn’t the same thing as being numb. She doesn’t want to talk, or play soccer, or anything, but she doesn’t want to go home.
Boyd just sits in silence with her. And Erica almost laughs, because hasn’t he pretty much been her silent companion her entire life?
He asks her out of the blue one day.
“Do you really want Scott?”
“Do you really want to be Scott?”
They still take the bus to school even though they could run their easy without breaking a sweat. The smell inside is awful now, and the screeching whenever it comes to a stop physically hurts. But they sit together and it isn’t so bad. It’s mostly Boyd listening to Erica flick insults on other passengers, occasionally smirking or side eyeing her when she goes too far.
She thinks about how for what seems like two minutes of her life all she wanted was Scott, because he was nice to her. But that wasn’t real want.
Erica thinks she wants to hold Boyd’s hand.
And what is she now if not confident, so she does.
The look on his face reminds her of that time at the mall, and she tries to summon her cockiest smile but it comes out more hesitant than intended.
His hand is big, and warm, and it squeezes hers.
She goes back to insulting other passengers, and she and Boyd sit closer the rest of the way.
Erica is sixteen. She thinks about how she spent half of her life watching Boyd from the corner of her eye, never realizing how fixated she was. She wonders how much more of it she’ll spend with him right in the center.