The thing Erica didn’t expect about becoming a werewolf was how goddamn desperate for contact it made her.
She doesn’t know if it makes it better or worse that she can smell the same need in the other wolves; it reassures her that she’s not alone, but it also makes it really fucking difficult to concentrate on the things Derek is trying to teach them when she knows exactly what Isaac is thinking about beside her.
Derek is in full Alpha lecture mode, stressing to them how important control is. How they have to keep it at all times, and how losing control at this point in their development as werewolves could be disastrous.
And all the control Erica thinks she has keeps slipping as she leans in against Isaac, brushing her arm against his and feeling the slight tremor in his body. It’s something she needs now, the contact.
On her other side, Boyd sighs, like he’s had enough of this bullshit, and Derek stops the lecture. “Do you two need a moment?”
“I’m good,” Erica says immediately. Isaac tilts his head, nuzzling her shoulder a bit, then seems to catch himself.
Derek looks strangely prim as he tightens his mouth and says, “One of the side effects of the full moon is heightened emotions. It’s something you have to learn to deal with.”
“Seriously, you two,” Boyd says, like he has any room to talk. He’s even newer than they are, and no matter how good a front he’s putting up, Erica’s nose can tell that he’s struggling just as much as they are. He’s just got the whole self-contained thing down pat, which Erica… hasn’t, quite yet.
Erica flips him off. Derek looks like he’s regretting every life choice that lead him to this point, and finally just says, “You two. To the rave. Boyd. With me.”
The flashing lights and the pulsing music are incredible. Erica just wants to spin and laugh, but she’s here on a mission, and she’s going to accomplish it.
She’s never been someplace like this before – never could before, not with her epilepsy – and she keeps lightly trailing her hand on Isaac’s arm just to remind herself that she’s actually here, and this is real.
When they spot Jackson, Erica doesn’t even think. She just sidles up to him, begins to dance like she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Isaac is there too, wrapped in close, and not even Jackson’s peculiarly dead eyes can stop Erica from loving this. The music thrums around her, and she can hear Isaac’s heart pounding, and the strangely calm, steady beat of Jackson’s heart.
She twists her hips and leans back against Isaac, feels Jackson move closer. Isaac and Jackson are staring at each other even as their hands are on her, and she reaches around and wraps her arms around them both. She’s surrounded, and her heart beats faster knowing what Jackson is, knowing that at any second this could turn into a fight. But Isaac’s there, and she’s not alone, for the first time she’s not anything approaching alone or weak or helpless, she has her pack…
And she has Isaac kissing her neck, and Jackson’s hands on her as he leans in to her other side, and Erica keeps dancing, throwing her head back trying to memorize the feel of this.
And then it’s over as quick as that, with a painful swipe of claws and a mad scramble to contain Jackson.
Erica doesn’t go to her mom’s house that night. She’s not sure when she made the shift to not thinking of that as home, but she did.
She climbs into Isaac’s bed without asking, and when he settles in beside her, she curls up on her side against him, her arm draped over his chest. “It’s okay,” she whispers, feeling him shake a little. “It’s okay.”
Isaac tries to pretend that things don’t bother him, but they came face to face with the creature that killed his father, were nearly killed by him themselves, and that… that’s enough to mess with someone. Especially when his feelings about the whole thing are as thorny and confused as they are. She presses her lips against the side of his neck and holds him tight.
Tangled together, they sleep.
At school, the first thing Erica notices is that Jackson keeps looking at her.
Getting looked at still feels new and amazing, given how recently her transformation was, and Erica still hasn’t quite gotten used to it, as much as she revels in it. But there’s something different in Jackson’s look – something hungry and confused at the same time – and Erica actually quickens her step when he follows her down the hallway after lunch.
“Wait,” Jackson says, and Erica spins on her heel. They’re off the main corridor, in a hallway that doesn’t see much traffic during the lunch hour.
“What?” she says, not trying to be nasty but just hoping to mask how nervous he’s making her. She feels the ghost of his claws slicing into her side, and she scowls at him. She’s strong now, dammit, and there’s nothing Jackson can do to change that, no matter how helpless his poison makes her.
“I…” Jackson shakes his head. “Did we…”
Erica taps her foot while he tries to figure his shit out. The more he struggles, the more human he seems.
“I keep blacking out,” Jackson says finally.
“That’s because you’re a murderous lizard monster,” Erica explains. She relaxes, both because Jackson clearly isn’t in evil mode, and because she can hear Isaac approaching.
“Not you, too,” Jackson sighs, like somehow it’s Erica’s fault he can’t accept reality.
“It’s true,” Isaac says, leaning against the wall behind Jackson. Jackson visibly startles.
Erica takes a step closer. “Why did you follow me, then, if you don’t remember anything?”
“Because…” Jackson says, then leans forward and sniffs her hair. “You smell… familiar.”
“Familiar?” Isaac says, moving in close behind Jackson and resting his hands on Jackson’s shoulders. Erica doesn’t know if it’s meant to be menacing or comforting, but suspects that for Jackson it’s both.
Jackson touches her hair lightly and leans in, nuzzling his face against hers. It’s not something she’d expect from a human, and Erica thinks for the first time about what Jackson is – something that should be wolf, but isn’t.
“Good,” Jackson amends. His lips trace a line down the side of her neck, and she meets Isaac’s eyes. He leans in and gives Jackson’s neck a lick, and Jackson just shivers.
“You were at the rave last night,” Erica says quietly, tilting her head to give Jackson better access. He dips down to kiss her exposed collarbone, tracing on hand down, lower, to cup her breast, and Isaac leans in over him and catches Erica’s mouth with his own. She tangles one hand in Isaac’s hair possessively while lacing the other into Jackson’s hand reassuringly, and when the kiss breaks, she continues. “You killed a girl.”
“I couldn’t have,” Jackson says. He straightens up, pressed tight between Erica and Isaac’s bodies. “I would remember…”
“You said yourself you don’t,” Isaac says softly into his ear.
Erica leans forward to whisper into Jackson’s other ear, “We tried to stop you.”
“You’re being controlled,” Isaac continues.
Trapped between them, Jackson looks pale, like he’s considering their words for the first time, truly. “Then why aren’t you scared of me?”
“Who says we aren’t?” Erica says.
“But you know, we’re monsters too,” Isaac offers. “And… some things are forgivable.”
Erica doesn’t know if Jackson consciously knows he killed Isaac’s father or not, but from the way their eyes meet, somewhere deep down inside, he suspects.
“And we’ll help you,” she promises. She presses her forehead against him, and on the other side, she can feel Isaac do the same. They wrap their arms around him, and the contact… the contact is perfect. Erica knows how much more tactile she’s become since her transformation, and this… this is something she’s been craving.
Jackson shakes a little, but when he says, “Okay,” his voice is steady.