A/n: first being erica fic, spoilers for season 3, in particular wash, rinse, repeat
She drinks scotch on the rocks from a cut glass crystal tumbler and lets out a harsh laugh, not because of any humorous joke but because its finally over now. He chances a glance at the faded bruising around her eye as she moves books out of the way and sits on the desk. Four years ago she never would have dreamed of doing such a thing.
They'd spent an hour arguing and dissecting the devastation of their respective relationships with Adam. Erica had been furious when she'd seen Adam's split lip, he was silent as he collected his possessions, eyes kept turn down with shame and guilt. She didn't need to ask who'd done it.
"You really don't need to fight my battles for me!" she sighed as she strode into Dr. Tom's office. The chair nearest to her was overturned.
"Yeah, well he can be Nadia's disappointment now." he responded not turning from the little window.
Erica straightened up the chair. He'd tried to hold back, to be professional and objective as he listened to Adam cry, his sobs about how he'd done something so awful and he needed to undo it. It didn't work all he could think about was Erica how frightened she was, how she shook as she held the ice he gave her to her face.
Adam knew Tom was a violent man, he should have known he'd snap. This was how he justified forgetting the terror and betrayal in his patients face as he turned and punched him to the ground. Nadia stood in the doorway and stared him down. He thought of Marjorie and how he'd treated her at his worst, stepping back from the startled Adam he realised he was beating himself.
Nadia took Adam away, he would never see him again.
It had taken a while but Erica had calmed down and even though she knew violence was never really the answer the deepest darkest part of her mind took some pleasure imagine the man she had loved and who she had wasted a year on experiencing a good hard smack.
"Have you ever lost a patient before?" She asked turning to face him, she couldn't imagine having to give up on her patient, it would feel like defeat.
Dr. Tom leant back into his chair and shook his head. "There is no failure except in no longer trying"
"Hm, I think we both tried hard enough. Maybe some people just can't be saved."
He didn't seem convinced, Erica drained her drink and decided to leave him to think on the days events.
She said goodnight as she placed her glass down on the tray behind her and walked out the door.
He stared at the lipstick mark on the glass, a reminder that she was here and that she would be here again. Her words about "losing a patient" stayed in his mind and made his blood run cold. Leaning forward, he picked up the hourglass ornament from his desk. The sand never moved but everything else around it did. Eight year left and then she would die.
The first time he went to the future he found her crushed and broken, he kept his distance as Sam made her way through the burning streets trying to help as many people as she could. She screamed and fought against a paramedic who kept repeating "Its too late, I'm sorry Sam, I'm so sorry."
Sam stared at him through bleary tear filled eyes, almost as if she knew him, but not quite.
The second time, he got there early, pulled her out of the rubble too fast, too eager to get her to the hospital. By pulling the metal that had been pinning her down out of her side he had worsened the bleeding. Erica lost consciousness and died in his arms before she could even say goodbye. Back in 2015 he tore off his blood drenched clothes and let himself cry about it for the first time. He changed and saw her later that day, alive and stressed about some road block she had reached with Theresa, her second patient.
The third time he saved her. As she walked to work he grabbed her and dragged her back from building . "No, no, no today is the day it happens isn't it!" Erica's eyes darted around still struggling against the restraint of his arms. "Julianne! Dr. Tom she's in there."
He ignores her and drags her kicking and screaming as far away as he can. They're knocked to the floor by the blast.
She tells him that she hates him, how could he do this, how could he make her watch as her friends and employees die. She hits him again and again until she breaks and falls against his shoulder in grief and agony. He holds her, even though he knows he really shouldn't.
His patient, his student, his protege even... his best friend, how could he let her die? He never got to save Sarah and Leo had to die, None of this is fair and he knows its not supposed to be.
Camilla, Rebecca, Daryl or Joseph could all die tomorrow but he wouldn't stop it. Good Therapists don't play favourites, good therapists don't punch their patients. He hates himself for being so weak, finally having gone too far over the line they go back to her apartment and break the rest of the rules.
Erica still dies of course, just three weeks layer, deep down he knew she would. He could go back and stop her from getting the car with Kai. He seriously considers it.
"I guess I'll know soon, either way." it's the first time in eight years that she's brought it up. She stands with her back turned to him, placing even more books onto the jaunty shelves in her office. "Do you ever think about it? You know? What Kai told me years ago."
"Sometimes." he lies. "Always" is the truth.
Erica keeps smiling and arranging, its petrifying really but she doesn't let herself feel it.
"You got room for one more book up there?" he asks as he gets up from the chair usually reserved for her patients.
"Always." She turns and takes the gift he produces from inside his coat. Her eyes flick from the package to his face and back again. She knows what it is without having to unwrap it.
The paper rips easily, "Ulysses, first edition. Dr. Tom…this is…its…Thank you."
"Well, your welcome, enjoy." he leaves and she sinks down into her chair.
Her fingers slide of the embossed lettering and she opens the book to the first page, this will be the last book she reads and she doesn't even know for certain if she'll get to finish it. It doesn't matter though, she thinks, as its finally really hers this time and she knew she had earned it.
Its painful, not the dying so much, but that she's alone and she wants someone to talk to more than she has ever done before. Trying to travel out of the trap of metal and rubble is proving useless, she figures its because she's weak more than anything, If only she was a little to the left, she could be hugging her knees tight to her chest on the spot of floor clear and free of debris, waiting for rescue.
She hopes her dad will be okay, he never really dated after mom died. She'll miss seeing her niece grow up and she'll miss having dinner with Sam and Lenin. Kai and Ethan will never know how much they meant to her, Adam as well she supposes before everything got so bad. That is unless they find the unfinished manuscript in her desk, the one that details the significance they all held with her, all under the guise of a fiction novel of course.
Its not all bad, after all her life has been phenomenal packed with as many moments of magic and joy as a person can hope for, she owes most of it to Dr. Tom. He's painted as the main hero in that abandoned manuscript. The friend who changed her life, who never gave up on her no matter how crazy he drove her.
When he appears she does not ask him to save her, she leant with Leo that you can't cheat death.
"Aren't you breaking the rules, being here?" she croaks
"Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind, Douglas MacArthur."
Erica smiles through the pain as he brushes hair out of her face and sits beside her. She wiggles a finger and he takes her hand. She cant grasp his the way she wants to but she feels the warmth of his hand against hers, the reassurance and trust it brings as well as the heartbreak and fear conjured by just how tight he holds on.
"Dr. Tom…you are the best friend I could have ever hoped for." she knows she's crying now. Judith, Katie, all the others they'll be fine without her. Julianne was upstairs, she tries hard not to think about it.
"Shhh Erica, just try to stay calm." He grinds his teeth at the absurdity of that suggestion. She rolls her eyes at him for what will be the last time.
Erica holds his gaze, there are no words to express her gratitude for the love and the trust they have shared. She lets a sad smile spread across her lips. The truth is that the person she worries the most about is with her right now, perpetually lonely with no links to the "real world" since he had to identify Sarah's body three years ago, she looks at him and knows he needs her. It dawns on her why he is here and before she can tell him not to be such an idiot and to get out, get out now! Its too late and the rest of the building comes down on top of them.
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