Word count: 3654
Notes: You can thank my brother for this ship. Post season-3.
The thing about Jackson is that he's never needed anyone. It was easy to break up with Lydia when he saw an opportunity to get what he wanted from Scott, and it was easy to tell his parents that he wanted out of Beacon Hills when he miraculously came back from the dead.
In fact, the only person Jackson really missed at all was Danny, and even then, he was satisfied with having a snarky text buddy. It worked well.
So he's understandably pissed when he picks up the smell of one of Derek's pack. They all smell kind of the same—like Derek. It's more of an undertone than an overall scent. He probably smells like that, too, even though he hasn't seen Derek in person in four years. Something about the bite being given by Derek and how he never actually severed the link from Derek.
Scott and Isaac sometimes show up—maybe once every three months. No matter how often he tells them not to, and that he doesn't need them around, and he is fine, okay? Piss off.
It doesn't matter. No amount of texting Derek to bother someone else seems to change the fact that being halfway across the country still isn't far enough to get away from the pack.
The way Jackson sees it, he has two options: run away fast enough that Scott or Isaac or Boyd or whoever can't catch him, or chase them down and take his anger out on them.
He's never been the type to run away. Except that one time, he thinks, but he doesn't regret it.
He turns around.
He's running on two legs, because he's in Chicago and people ignore a lot, but they won't ignore some furry freak running on four legs. Anyway, he doesn't have far to go. Chicago is big, and the smells are actually overwhelming. They probably would be for a normal human nose, but it's worse, being a werewolf. The only scents he picks up on here are nearby, maybe two blocks away.
Cities, especially like Chicago and New York, are good places for omegas to hide. It's not unusual for him to scent out a werewolf while he's walking from his apartment to the university. He nods at them sometimes, if he passes them, and they aren't homeless or whatever.
Cities are also neutral territory, which is great, because it's just another reason Jackson doesn't need Derek poking his nose into everything. Derek feels responsible for him, but there's no pack for him to talk to about letting Jackson stay, and no problem that Jackson can't handle by himself.
So why, why did he send a beta?
Jackson hones in on the scent and slams the person into the wall.
The reaction is instantaneous—he's suddenly got a stomach full of claws that are yanking out as soon as they've slid in. Blood drips onto the pavement and for a second, Jackson stares at it.
It's still unsettling.
He looks up to see which pack member did that only to realize that it's not one of Derek's—only it is.
"Erica?" he says incredulously. She's supposed to be dead, killed by the alphas about the same time he left for boarding school.
She stares at him, eyes wide and almost terrified. "You didn't smell the same," she says, like that makes sense. "You're a werewolf now?"
And then she's shoving away from him and tearing down the street.
He thinks about texting Derek that Erica is alive and in town, but something stops him.
He tells himself it's not out of respect for a girl he barely knew outside of the elementary school playground, but because if he tells Derek she's here, Derek will show up. And that's the last thing he wants. It's not because Erica clearly wants to be known as dead.
Anyway, he's selfish. He has no reason to share this information with Derek. Instead, he falls asleep in his intro to economics class, a requirement for pre-law but something he honestly doesn't care about. The professor basically reads from the book, anyway, and Jackson can do that for himself.
Economics is easy, anyway. If there's something he understands, it's supply and demand.
Jackson told everyone at the boarding school that he convinced his parents to enroll him there because Beacon Hills was too small. In a sense, that was true, but when Jackson stared at himself in the mirror, gripping the sink so tight he thought he might break the ceramic, he was still waiting for the snake to crawl out of his eye.
Lydia saved him, supposedly, but he left her. The other shoe has to drop eventually.
Jackson never goes to the same place to eat twice, because Chicago is big enough that he doesn't have to. And he's a werewolf, so it's not a big deal for him to run everywhere.
He misses his Porsche sometimes, though. One of the conditions for him going to boarding school was losing it. He figures that's probably a good thing, because the Porsche would just remind him of Lydia and how much she loved him and how he loved her back but it just wasn't enough.
Not when he woke up every night, terrified that he'd be covered in blood.
He's avoided places like Denny's and the odd diner up until now, but he seriously can't go eat sushi again, and to be honest, he'd kill for some wings. So he walks up to a diner called Sally's and seats himself.
He hadn't been paying attention to his sense of smell, he realized abruptly, and that was dangerous. Too late now, though, because this place was full of the smell of Derek—no, Erica.
He squeezed his eyes shut as she approached his table, but opened them when she set a menu down.
"Can I get you anything to drink?" she asks, and he's relieved that she's ignoring the elephant in the room. Someone has to.
"Coke," he mutters.
"Pepsi okay?" she asks. Her pink uniform is two sizes too small, but Erica is embroidered into the left breast pocket, and somehow it suits her. It's what she was wearing a few days ago, when he knocked into her, he realizes. She must have been on her way to work.
He shrugs. "Whatever."
She smiles at him tightly. "I'll be right back with that."
Jackson looks at the menu boredly until he finds the hot wings, and waits until she sets the Pepsi back in front of him to fold it up. "Hot wings," he says, pointedly. He looks her in the eyes. He can front. It's his best skill. He's not weak and he's knows that seeing her isn't going to lead to seeing Derek or the others.
Erica can front, too, though. He only knows because she looks perfectly calm but the scent coming off of her is a mixture of anxiety and fear that burns his nose.
He must smell the same.
"Okay," she says, and hesitates for a second. "Did you...tell the pack that..." She lets her voice trail off and raises an eyebrow.
Jackson could be a douche and act like he doesn't understand her. He decides against it. "No," he says. "I don't want them around here any more than you do."
She kind of relaxes then, and nods. "Okay. I'll have your wings for you in just a few minutes." She flashes a grin at him, and somehow it's relieving to see she's still wearing the same vampy make up—deep red lips under purple smudged eyes. It's familiar and more comforting than he expected.
It only takes a few minutes to get the wings, and when Erica brings them back to his table, she says, "Thank you," at the same time he does (because contrary to popular belief, Jackson can be polite. When he wants.
It's always smart to be polite to your servers. You never know when they'll get pissed and spit in your drink.)
When he finishes his food, he pays the bill and leave a 30% tip, twice as much as he normally would. It's hardly anything when he looks at the bill, but he figures Erica probably needs the extra 15% more than he does.
The next week he ends up seated at the same booth, not quite sure why his feet guided him here. He'd made a point to never eat in the same place before now, and he's not sure what's changed.
Erica walks up to his table, smile firmly affixed. "You're here again," she says.
He can't help but feel that the cheer is false, but he says, "Yeah. The wings didn't make me want to vomit."
When she laughs she still shows too much teeth, but he thinks about the ways he tries to intimidate people and it doesn't surprise him too much. "Do you want Pepsi again?" she asks.
"No," he says. "Is the coffee any good? I have a paper."
"The coffee is fantastic," Erica says, in an obviously rehearsed manner. "We have a special house blend." She's smirking a little now, and she must know he's not buying it.
"Will I be grossed out by the taste?" he asks instead.
"No," she says, shrugging.
"Okay, then. That."
"I'll be right back with that, unless you're ready to order?"
He shakes his head. "I'd rather eat something I could give a higher compliment than 'didn't make me want to vomit.'"
Erica smirks. "The burgers are all right."
"I'll look at them," he says, and looks away from her.
She walks away, and Jackson does not follow the way her hip switches. Not any more than anyone else in the diner, anyway.
Irritated, he returns his attention to the menu and flips to the page about burgers. He's not playing lacrosse here, because no one cares about it, and somehow, aiming to go pro doesn't seem as important now that Lydia isn't pushing him for it.
(The thing about Lydia was that she got stuck on ideas. He told her once, in the ninth grade that he wanted to play pro. It was a day where he was feeling kind of dumb and rebellious. His dad had always wanted him to go into law, but he could have told Lydia anything and she would have supported it. Back then.
He thought she was only as smart as him at the time; just average. It wasn't until the end of his sophomore year that he'd realized...she wasn't. She was way smarter than she'd ever let on. They never talked about grades, because she'd told him that was boring.
That was another problem with Lydia. The girl he was in love with wasn't the real Lydia. That still keeps him up at night, sometimes.)
But the point is, he's not playing lacrosse, and keeping a healthy diet isn't as important now that he's a werewolf.
Erica returns with a mug of coffee after a few minutes and he orders their version of a bacon cheeseburger—"The Mountain Man." It comes with onion rings, and that's pretty cool.
"I'll have that right out for you," Erica says.
Once again, it doesn't take long, and Erica spends hardly any time talking to him at his table. She sets the plate down, asks if he needs anything, and then breezes over to another table.
Jackson leaves a 32% tip, and he tells himself it's to brush up on his math skills. Whatever.
He's only halfway surprised when he ends up at the diner the next week, like clockwork. He ignores the niggling voice in his head that tells him he doesn't want to be an omega any more, and Erica smells like home and pack, so he should stick around her all the time.
He orders coffee and a BLT, and she smiles at him a little strangely.
This time, when she brings him his food, she doesn't leave right away. She leans over the table, smirking a little. "So why do you keep coming back here? Isn't it a bit beneath you?"
"Not that I've noticed," Jackson snarks. "Unless you'd like to be included in the 'beneath me' category."
It takes her a second to figure out if he's being rude or hitting on her, and she must decide on the latter, because she rolls her eyes and leans back. "Need anything else?"
"You," he says, keeping with the trend. The grin he flashes her is more of a leer.
She crosses her arms and smirks at him. "As if."
"I think you want a pack," she tells him when he shows up the next week at the same time.
He raises an eyebrow at her. "Why would I choose you to be in my pack?" he asks. He's deflecting and it's probably painfully obvious.
"I don't know," she says, shrugging. Her eyes flash at him then, and he starts because they're not gold or blue, like his, but a deep red. "Because I'm an alpha without a pack?"
He feels like he needs to submit, but he pushes that instinct back. He's a Whittemore, and they never back down. He stares straight back at her eyes, brown once again. "I didn't know you were an alpha." He doesn't mean to say that. "But you can't be a better alpha than Derek." It's meant to offend her, but—
She snorts. "Anyone could be a better alpha than Derek."
He snickers without meaning to, and she grins victoriously. "I don't want to be in your pack," he tells her.
"Right," she says, carefully. "So why are you leaving me those tips? You trying to show me that you can provide for me or something?"
He chokes on his response to the original question and says instead, "No!"
"Then why?" she asks curiously, tilting her head.
He opens his mouth to answer, but for a second his snark fails him, and all he can think to say is, "None of your business," like he's a girl in the fifth grade or something.
Erica seems equally unimpressed with that response, and she just rolls her eyes. "You want coffee?"
"Yes," he says, trying to get a hold of himself. "Coffee."
She nods, and gestures to the menu. "Are you ready to order?"
He picks something at random so he won't have to see her any more than is absolutely necessary. "Big Steak Omelet," he blurts.
She hides a grimace. "Right. I'll have that out for you in a few minutes."
"Thanks," he says.
She leaves him contemplating leaving and never coming back, but he's already ordered—food that, admittedly, looks disgusting—and he's not going to run away from a lone alpha, who for all her extra strength, was no better than an omega.
And, and—every part of him rebels against the idea of leaving while she's...winning the conversation.
When she returns to the table with his coffee, she's still smirking, but she leans forward and says, "It's on the house."
"Thank you," he says, but he's not sure he should be glad. There's two options—she's apologizing or she spit in his drink. Neither sounds appealing, if he's honest, but he hopes it's the first.
"You're welcome," she says, and sashays away.
He watches her. He can't lie about that.
After the last fiasco, he almost doesn't return to the diner. Beyond that, the Big Steak Omelet was disgusting. So far the only thing that has been remotely edible is the coffee and the burger.
But...now it's become a pattern. And he can't let Erica's smirks chase him away.
If he's honest with himself, he likes their banter. He just likes it more when he's winning.
"Your tips just keep getting bigger," Erica says when she walks up to his table. "What was it last time? 38%?"
He let's his eyes flicker over her still-too-small uniform and raises an eyebrow. "You clearly need all the help you can get."
"Hey, not complaining," she says. "But if you're judging that based on my uniform, I'll have you know that I was twenty pounds lighter when I started here. Running around in the woods for a year really does wonders for your weight. And now..." She ran a hand down her side. "I like how it fits."
"Who wouldn't?" he says, smirking at her. "And I was judging you based on the fact that you're apparently a career waitress."
She shrugs. "Money is money. And I only have to show off my cleavage here. It could be worse."
Yeah, he thinks. It could be.
"Anyway, why are you in Chicago? I thought you'd be at Yale or Harvard. Some school where they play lots of lacrosse," Erica says. "And do you want coffee?"
"Yes to the coffee. And I'm here because...No one expected me to choose University of Chicago, and no one expects me to play lacrosse here." He pauses and gives her a pointed look. "Except you."
She smiles. "Sure. Do know what you want to order?"
"The California Burger, please," he says, giving her the superficial smile he wore throughout high school.
"Oooh, avocado," she says, rolling her eyes as she writes it down. "You're so fancy."
"We already established that," he says, smirking. "I'm the best person here."
"Right," she says. "Keep telling yourself that." She spins on her heel, and this time doesn't bother to let him know she'll be right back with his food.
He fiddles with his phone a little and shoots Danny a text. "Hey, man, you going back to BH for the summer?"
Danny replies right away, which means he's in class. "Yeah, probably. You?"
"I don't know," he sends back. "Still trying to avoid Derek."
"Right, you and that weird beef with a guy you really shouldn't know."
Not telling Danny the truth about why his life had spiraled out of control is still the most difficult qualification for Jackson leaving Beacon Hills. This one came from Derek, of course. His parents had no idea what had happened sophomore year, and Jackson was determined to keep it that way.
But he steels himself and sends, "Yeah, well, it's weird, man. Do you think I should go home?"
"Probably," comes the reply, and then, a minute later, "Lydia really misses you. And I'm sure your parents want to see you, too."
Jackson thinks about Lydia, the girl he loved four years ago, the girl who loved him enough to put herself in danger of death to pull him back. His chest is suddenly so tight. It always happens in moments like these, when Danny gives him some sort of indication that Lydia still feels the same and he realizes just how much he doesn't. But he doesn't know how to tell Danny.
So he sends something else. "I'll think about it."
Erica comes back then, and sets the mug in front of him. "It's on the house."
"Again?" he asks incredulously.
She shrugs and pats his shoulder. "The coffee isn't that good, and I can give out free coffee whenever I want. Within reason."
"I'm within reason," Jackson says slowly. Her hand hasn't left his shoulder and that tightness in his chest loosens a bit. He hasn't let any one touch him in so long that this feels strange and relieving all at once.
She shrugs. "Yeah."
He stares at her and watches as her cheeks turn slightly pink. He licks his lips almost unconsciously, but a part of him (a big part) wants her to react to that, too.
She doesn't, of course, because she rarely does what he wants or what he expects. "It's mostly to thank you for the tips." She lifts her hand.
"Thank you," he says carefully.
She smile and nods before walking away.
He texts Danny again. "I want to come visit you sometime. For spring break or something."
"Can you get tickets that fast?" Danny asks.
"Of course," he sends back, making a face at his phone. He and Danny used to have full conversations in nothing but facial expressions, but put half a country between them, and suddenly that's a lot more difficult.
"Then yeah, come up here."
"Cool," he sends, and then he sets down his phone because Erica is back with his food.
"For the record," she says as she puts the plate in front of him. "This is my favorite burger. It's the best one they serve her."
"You've never steered me wrong before," he says and smiles winningly.
She nods. "That's true. And I'll continue that by recommending a slice of the apple pie. It's definitely worth it."
Jackson takes a bite of the burger before answering her. Like she said, it's incredible. "Okay. With whipped cream, please."
"Is there another way to eat it?" she asks with half a laugh.
"No way," he answers. That stupid smile is still on his face, but for once, he doesn't feel like he's faking it. Erica is making him smile the way Danny does, the way Lydia used to. He can get behind that.
She brings him the apple pie when he's halfway through his burger, but he doesn't try it until he's finished and licking the avocado from his fingers. Across the diner, he looks up and meets Erica's eyes.
She smiles at him, and it's genuine, not a smirk.
He tries the apple pie, and it's the best thing he's tasted the entire time he's been in Chicago, which is so stupid because it probably just came from a box, but then Jackson has always loved apples and apple pie. The crust is flakey and the whipped cream—that's not from a can or a tub. it's real, like, homemade. He'd guarantee it.
He leaves 40% tip.
Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Wolf.
A/N: This will have either one or two more parts and I guess it's up to you guys if you want the next part in Jackson or Erica's POV. The original plan was for it to be all Jackson (and believe me, I am lovin' it) but I'd be okay if you wanted her side, too.
Erica appreciation week continues, even when we're not inside her head! Right on bros.