Written for a prompt on the being_erica community on LJ
_scally : Tom/Erica. No specific rating. A usual banter leads to a quarell that leads to a... kiss. - I only just now realized I only wrote part of this prompt, so we'll leave me *facepalming* over that.
Also written before the finale aired. Set sometime in a fictional late season 4
It is Today.
The voices that had been chanting a few hours ago would be chanting again, and even though the world was different, the voices would be the same. Erica leaned on the balcony, secret smile salute to the night, the perfect breeze fraying her hair into wispy snakes as Jack Frost counted down the minutes until her numb toes and nose would hurry her indoors.
The calendar page was flapping.
It was New Year's.
"And how is," Dr. Tom let the sibilant escape, trailing like an errant firework before regaining his usual, gentle tones. "How is Therapy's newest patient?"
He was still a little behind her, just farther than her peripheral vision. It was a place he occupied often, she'd come to notice, though the "why" eluded her. She kept her attention on the crowd instead, the noise and lights and random choreography carving sense and beauty into a world where she could have this moment, be in this moment, twice in a lifetime.
"She did really well." And she had. Erica's smile might stay forever, and unable to stand still - or just twitching from the cold, she turned her head the fraction of an inch to catch her own Therapist's eye. "But she has a lot of heavy lifting to do."
The rumbling pre-chuckle was as familiar as her duvet, and wrapped her just as snug and warm.
"Well that's something you've become something of an expert at." He took a step forwards to rest his arms on the railing next to hers, seemingly as enamoured of the spectacle as she.
"Me? Oh no," she held her hands up in complete denial. "I am not lifting anything heavier than her notebook." And because it was the day she got her first patient, the day she had her first solo session, the day she finally felt like Therapy wasn't something she did but somewhere she belonged - she deliberately knocked her shoulder sharply into his arm, causing them both to sway. "All I do is-" she flicked her finger at the huge screen counting down the seconds, "point the way."
That earned her a real laugh, hoarse and knowing. He'd thrown that one at her enough times – hell, IN enough times - and it was what she wanted to say at the first sign of trouble with her own patient. She wondered if he had learned it from Dr. Naadiah, or discovered it on his own.
For second after second she watched his profile, his eyes watching something in the grimy stillness far beneath them, rather than over the vibrant life spread in front.
"Aren't we going to have a session? You know, to go over all the things I could have done better, prep me for my next one?" Because she had to say something, and she did want to talk about her first Session, the highs and the lows.
He shook his head, as the giant monitor switched from minutes to seconds. "It looks like, for this, you've been pointing your own way." Unexpectedly, he tapped his arm against hers, much more gently than she had done. "Actually, I think you did pre-"
"pretty great. Yeah," she laughed, from somewhere between embarrassment and disbelief, I've heard that one before."
But if they weren't debriefing, then Then why are you here? The question asked itself in her head, loud enough to take her aback. When he turned to look at her a moment later the same voice, now so little but so insistent, asked can he read my mind? Could he, all along?, even though she knew how it worked, the powers they were granted and the limits they couldn't transgress.
The blood was rushing in her head, too much adrenaline draining after the excitement of the evening, leaving her her feeling unsteady. Or maybe not, as the pounding in her head resolved into the verbal beat of a thousand voices, counting down the last
of a year
and hopes for a
"Happy New Year."
She whispered the conventional saying at his ear, drowned out by the uproar below but the puffs of warm air were enough. Before she lost the moment Erica steadied herself with a hand on his shoulder, and pressed her lips to his cheek.
The next moment her nose and toes were warming in her own cozy office, thanks to a fluffy blanket and giant mug of fragrant tea, sitting in wait on a sidetable.. Steam curled up to her face, and she inhaled deeply and began laughing in honest joy.
Today she got her first patient. Today she had her first solo session and felt like a real Therapist. Today she saw a year end- twice and saw a year begin- twice. Today she made sure the whole world changed, and watched carefully to make sure it didn't really change at all. Today she stopped being just a Patient, and even through setbacks she would never, ever go back.
And when she was ready to let go of Today, and move on to Tomorrow, she would put down her mug and untwine her blanket and step back into the New Year's Party at the Strange House. They would have missed her, when the ball dropped, and she will say she needed a breathe of air and hadn't heard. The celebration would continue until it would end, and those moments between before and after would be nothing but the memory of a line she had made herself remember:
"It is Today. It is Now. Anything is possible."