Word count: 4035
Notes: Omg I wrote this like three times because my computer kept freezing and not saving. If there are errors (as there usually are) I'm sorry. Also you got this about a week(?) earlier than I was planning. I probably won't update anything until I'm finished with finals.
The full moon falls on a Wednesday for the first time since Jackson has been going in to the diner, which means for the first time, he's not going to be there. It's more bitter than sweet, but to make up for it, he goes the day before.
"Hi," Erica says, smiling at him when he appears. "You're off schedule."
"Yeah, well," he shrugs. "For some reason, I like seeing you, and tomorrow seemed like a bad day to be indoors, so..."
"True," she says, crossing her arms. "Are you anchored?"
"Oh, yeah, of course," he says, rolling his eyes. It's easy to act self-assured. It's like wearing an old hoodie that's worn down and thin, but so comfortable it's like a second skin.
And he does have an anchor. It was a matter of necessity. He's not going to tell her that his anchor is fear of all things, because it's still something makes him flinch when he thinks about it. He has no idea if that's the kind of thing that changes. Derek hadn't been particularly forthcoming about it over texting, just citing his own as anger. So Jackson has been using fear for the past three years, and for the most part, it's worked. He hasn't killed anyone.
(Not since Lydia saved him.)
But he's pretty sure that fear being the thing that times him to humanity isn't a good thing. Well. It is what it is, right?
"Nice of you to worry about me, though," he says, smirking at her. "Working on becoming an alpha?"
"I don't want you in my pack," she says, frowning at him. He thinks she's teasing him, though, if the glimmer in her eyes is anything to go by. "Don't be ridiculous. I just don't want you to eat all my coworkers."
"Moot point, since I won't be here," he reminds her.
She shrugs. "Suppose you chase down my scent in an effort to submit to me."
He scoffs. "No way."
She grins at him wolfishly. "You say that now. You want some coffee?"
"Sure," he says. "But I have a question for you. Are you posturing?"
Erica raises an eyebrow. "I have no idea what you mean."
"You know, the free coffee, the constant reminders that you're an alpha..." he teases. He wants her to say yes, or at least mean yes when she scoffs and says no. It'd be nice to have someone interested in impressing him again. Because of him, that is. Not because of his face (which, obviously, is perfect.) "You trying to impress me?"
She levels him with a cool stare. "Are you sure you're not posturing for me? Coming in here, leaving giant tips, reminding me that you're a beta all the time..."
"Touché," Jackson says, leaning back with a lazy grin.
"I think you want to submit to me," she suggests. "You want me to boss you around." She leans forward, palms flat on the table. "I can do that if you want."
A whine slips out of him before he can stop it, and he freezes, vaguely mortified. This is supposed to be a game and she—she says that. Not that he's opposed because—damn.
Her eyes are red when he looks at them again and he starts to duck his head before he stops himself. She's not his alpha and he's not going to—no.
So Jackson forces himself to look her in the eye, only to get distracted by her licking her lips.
It's very hot in this diner.
"I'll have that coffee right out for you," she says and winks as she walks away.
He lets out a low groan and leans his head back against the booth. Erica is practically...pornagraphic. Not that this is exactly a new thing. He remembers her transformation in high school. But that had never been directed at him and that makes a world of difference.
Worst of all, she's currently winning the verbal sparring match. Which is not fair at all. Ugh.
He cringes when he thinks about the whine. Ridiculous. Be a werewolf, he thinks to himself sourly. Not a teen wolf, a werewolf. He shifts in his seat, uncomfortable. The idea of Erica telling him what to do while they—made out, don't think of anything more than making out—shit—was overwhelming.
In an effort to calm down, Jackson opens his contacts on his phone and flicks through them. For a brief moment, his finger hovers over Lydia's name. He knows it's the right number, because Danny had snagged the phone over spring break and updated her contact information.
It would be easy to text her a stupid short message. Sorry.
He doesn't send it.
On the bright side, he's distracted himself enough from Erica that he's not thinking about her naked any more. Which is good, because she's walking back to the table, smug smile firmly in place. "You okay, Jackson?" she asks when she sets the coffee down in front of him. "You don't look so good."
He might be glaring at her.
"Peachy," he grits out. "Thank you for the coffee."
"Sure thing," she says, obviously delighted at his discomfort. "Do you need more time, or are you ready to order?"
"My usual," he says.
"You got it," she says, and she's giggling, of course she is. "I'll have that right out for you." Still tittering, she walks away, hips swinging, more pronounced than usual. Which is actually...great. Except he catches another guy eying her and turns a glare on him.
The guy is unapologetic.
Jackson hates people.
He slumps forward in his seat and drinks the coffee with half a pout and flicks through Facebook newsfeed. Scott and Allison are on again, apparently, and Eli has a new girlfriend named Rebecca. She might be in his economics class, actually, but then, that was nothing special. Around 150 people were in his economics class.
Erica comes back. "I have a proposition for you," she says, more serious than earlier.
"Yeah?" he says, eating a fry immediately. "What's that?"
"You ever go running on the full moon?" she asks.
He shakes his head. "Usually just stay in my apartment. Running around Chicago never really seemed like a good idea."
"I haven't run with any one in a while," she says, looking at him meaningfully.
"I don't have a car," he points out. "It would take a while to get out of the city."
She shrugs. "I have tomorrow off and I'm sure I'll have tons of excess energy." She gives him a lascivious grin at this, but he can tell she's just joking now.
His face burns anyway. He clears his throat. "So you want to jog out of Chicago so we can run around all night in the woods?"
She beams. "Sounds about right."
He thinks about his other plans, which had been sitting through an economics lecture and a biology lab. "Okay. What time should we meet up?"
"Like four," she suggests.
"Okay," he agrees, and eats another fry.
Erica steals one off his plate. "That creep behind me?" she says, tilting her head slightly toward the guy that had been staring at her earlier. "He's a douche."
"Duh," Jackson says, frowning.
"I'm just saying, you don't need to be jealous of him," she says, a grin splitting her features neatly. "You're at least three times as pretty."
"Duh," he says again, rolling his eyes. "And I think you mean at least five times."
She glances at the guy. "You're right," she admits. She winks at him again. "I'll be back to check on you later, Jackson."
His name. He shivers. "Thanks...Erica," he says. When was the last time he said her name? Has he ever said it? When they met in Chicago the first time, definitely but...after that? He tries to remember, and then tries to figure out if him saying her name has the same effect as her saying his name. He hopes it does.
He subtly checks her out as she walks away, just as she glances over her shoulder at him, biting her lip.
So he'll say her name more often, then.
His phone buzzes when he's halfway through his burger, and he grins when he sees that Danny's sent him a picture. The grin falls off his face and he rolls his eyes when he sees the picture. It's of Danny and his boyfriend, eating sushi and flipping off the camera.
"I hate you both," he texts back.
"Love you too," Danny answers.
Jackson snorts. "Watch out. I might decide to tell Luke all your dark secrets."
Danny doesn't answer that. Jackson counts it as a victory.
He shows up at the diner the next day at four. He can feel the pull of the moon already, even though the sun is still up and the moon is only just rising. He watches it with interest and waits for Erica to arrive at the diner.
He feels more comfortable than he usually does on these days—or no, that's not right. He feels settled and unsettled all at once. A big part of him is comfortable in the knowledge that he'll be seeing Erica soon. The other part of him is reminding him that he needs to focus on fear to stay human.
That feels shaky at the moment, kind of like before.
The first two full moons he spent outside of Beacon Hills, Scott drove up to the boarding school and stayed with him, preventing him from hurting anyone.
They were in the woods, and Jackson only remembers most of the night through the lens of a predator, trying to chase prey. Or in this case, Scott. He'd come out of that haze at one point to see Scott pinning him against a tree while cuts on his face and chest healed. He was shifted, but obviously still Scott.
"How?" Jackson had asked. "How do you stay in control?"
Scott had hesitated before answering, "I think about Allison. She's my anchor."
"Anchor?" he repeated, panting.
"Yeah...like, she anchors me to being human," Scott said.
Jackson had loved Lydia. He probably still does to a certain extent. So for a year, he'd anchored himself with thoughts of her that night of the warehouse. It had worked mostly, until he realized he wasn't going back to Beacon Hills and getting back to Lydia seemed less and less important.
It wasn't for lack of love or because of the distance. It was just that Beacon Hills—and by extension, Lydia—reminded him of murdering people.
(He's not sure why Erica doesn't remind him of murdering people. They had interacted while he was the kanima. She'd poisoned him with his own venom.
He doesn't want to think about that.)
Toward the end of that year, the fear had crept in, and he stopped having complete control. He never hurt anyone, as far as he knows, but he had woken up in the middle of the woods a few times.
That's when Derek had texted him about his anchor.
Jackson wasn't angry. But he was—is—scared. Fear started working as an anchor when he focused on it, and Lydia slipped away.
A snake can't be poisoned by it's own venom, Derek said.
The wolf has no room for fear. Fear keeps him human.
He doesn't feel as scared as he did before, and maybe some of that comes from the fact that he hasn't been focusing on the fear as much as he was before. Erica has taken up more and more of his thoughts.
He doesn't think she's his anchor or anything that extreme but she is messing with his current one. At least she'll be with him tonight, if he loses it.
"Hey," Erica says, walking up to stand beside him and startling him out of his reverie. "Ready to jog?"
"Yeah, sure," he says. "Lead the way."
She smiles at him and nods. "We'll have to run for a while. I was serious about feeling restless this month."
"I feel it, too," he offers.
"It's something new," she says, and she takes off. He catches up in time to hear her say. "I haven't run with anyone since Boyd and I left Beacon Hills."
"No one?" Jackson asks, a little surprised. He knew she didn't have a pack, but the idea of Erica being completely alone these past few years is more horrible than he wants to think about.
"Nope," she agrees, smiling at him a little nervously. "You're the first."
Warmth curls in his chest and he feels himself smile back.
For all that Erica had claimed restless, she looks grounded. Her golden hair is pulled up into a ponytail that swings with every step she takes and catches the late afternoon light and basically shines.
He thinks of Lydia's hair after a shower, before she'd put any product in it. He liked it most then, when it was soft and still a little damp. She'd let him curl his fingers through it sometimes, and card out the knots.
Erica's hair looks like it would be that soft all the time.
He's obsessing. And doing it creepily. Damn moon, making him act like Stilinski of all people.
Jackson follows her as they jog, trusting her to know the best way out of the city. He doesn't leave very often, anyway, so she'd probably have a better idea of where to go.
So she's a little ahead of him and when he's not staring at the way her hair reflects the sun, his eyes drift downward. She's wearing leggings as pants, something Lydia would never do. He's not even sure he would appreciate it on Lydia, and he's seen her naked.
But Erica is mostly muscle (he can see very contour of muscle on her leg, flexing and relaxing as she runs) and the leggings really work for her.
He has a feeling she doesn't wear it to look nice for other people. Erica does everything for her own appreciation. She likes to look hot, and doesn't care very much about modesty, if the thin, deep v-neck shirt is anything to go by. He could see her bra when they were running next to each other. It was purple and lacy, they type of thing Lydia wouldn't have been able to pull off. Lacy, sure, but not purple lace. She probably would have found it tacky, anyway.
Lydia would have found a lot of things about Erica tacky, though. Jackson loved Lydia (loves her?) but breaking up with her had been a relief. He's judgmental, sure, but when your best friend and your girlfriend are also judgmental, the world starts to look more and more ugly.
Not that life seems much better now. But he isn't creating the darkness, right? So that makes it different.
And even if Erica is immodest and aggressive and a little vulgar—maybe even tacky—he wouldn't have her any other way. She's right this way. She's Erica.
"Man, you're slow," she calls back over her shoulder. "Come on!" She falls into more of a run than a jog then, and lets out a whoop of laughter when she hears Jackson speed up behind her.
It's beautiful and free, isn't it?
They run for an hour before Erica says they're deep enough into the forest to escape detection.
"I have to admit," she tells him, "I'll probably instinctively move us away from civilization after shifting. I've been pretty skittish since everything happened."
"That's fine," he says, stretching his arms over his head. "It will be nice to run." He still feels the buzzing under his skin, like the moon is already trying to pull a change out of him. He wants to wait until night falls, though, so he holds it back.
Erica stands in front of him with a grin, breathing a little harder than normal from the running. "This feels right, doesn't it?" she says, reaching up to grab a branch and hoist herself up into a tree. "I haven't climbed a tree since I was a kid," she continues without waiting for an answer.
"I thought you didn't want me to be in your pack," he says from the ground, amused.
"I don't," she agrees, tugging herself higher. "Did you know you gave me my first post-bite seizure?"
He blinks in confusion. "What do you mean?" he asks, following her up the tree.
"That afternoon in the library," she says. "You shifted and paralyzed me under a flashing light. Not really good, you know? But I guess that was really Matt's fault. I don't blame you or anything. Just thinking about a lot." She hasn't stopped moving, just keeps climbing and climbing.
"Oh," he says.
"Seriously, don't worry about it," she says. "That's not actually why I don't want you in my pack."
"So why don't you?" he says. He's not going to think about being the kanima. He'll save that for when he needs to hold onto control after shifting tonight. It should feed into the fear quite easily.
"I don't know you that well," she tells him, perching about midway up the tree. "Come up here. I think we can both sit on this branch."
"Okay," he says, climbing up. "I think we're still in the same pack, anyway."
"Why do you say that?" she asks when he reaches the branch and pulls himself up.
"You still smell like Derek."
She wrinkles her nose. "I guess you do, too. Didn't think about that being a thing. And I thought being an alpha would kick me out automatically."
Jackson shrugs. "It's not like Derek is particularly forthcoming with information," he points out.
"No," she agrees. "He's not."
"That first day in Chicago," he says, looking over at her and grinning a little. "I thought you were Scott or Isaac. That's why I attacked you."
"Right," Erica says, nudging him. "Being the black sheep of the family and all."
"You're the one pretending to be dead so they'll leave you alone," he retorts.
She shrugs. "I lasted three years. Not bad, really."
He snorts. "No."
They sit in silence for a while, watching dusk settle around them. Jackson's claws come out when the sky turns pink, but he just uses them to hold onto the branch easier.
"Here it comes," Erica says as the sky turns purple, and then lets go of the branch to fall forward.
"Erica," he calls out, shocked. He leans forward to watch her fall, but she lands in a crouch and looks up at him. She's fully shifted to beta form and grins at him so her canines flash dangerously in the moonlight. Laughter bubbles out before he can stop it, and he scrambles down the tree after her.
"No acrobatics?" she slurs when he reaches her.
He lets the moon take over and grins at her wolfishly afterward. "Nah."
"Come on," she says.
He tears after her, laughing.
Being shifted makes the world different. Everything is a violent shade of red and he sees movement everywhere. At first he spends his time chasing Erica, but he gets distracted by a raccoon at one point and chases it until Erica tackles him.
It's playful, he knows, because she's licking his face as she pushes him down. But it's not just that. He tries to return the gesture and she growls at him to stay put.
As a wolf, he has no reason not to listen, so he rolls his head back to bare his throat for her.
She licks down it happily and bites the junction of his neck and shoulder.
He whines and shifts underneath her.
She bats at his nose, then sits back, lifts her head and howls. She runs off after that, and he doesn't move. She's the alpha and he can't do what she doesn't say.
But then she doesn't come back for a while, and the fear creeps back in. Abruptly, Jackson remembers who he is, realizes that he submitted to an alpha, and that his shoulder is bleeding.
He might be panicking.
Well, he'd guess that his, based on the fact that he's completely himself again, claws retracting and eyebrows becoming more presentable. Shaking, he draws up into himself, knees tucked against his chest. He breathes in short gasps. Shit.
Running around the night of the full moon doesn't seem as fun any more, suddenly. "Erica?" he calls shakily, wrapping his arms around his knees. "Erica?"
For a long time, he sits alone, wide awake and terrified. When he hears shuffling in the bushes nearby, he automatically shifts and growls, but then a golden wolf walks out, tilts her head at him and pants a little.
She runs over to him and nuzzles his neck, lapping at the blood on his shoulder.
"Erica?" he murmurs, tentatively raising a hand to brush over her back. "S'at you?" His fangs are still out, making his words more than a little slurred. "You okay?"
She bats at his legs with a paw until he stretches them out, and then she rests her head on his lap with a content little noise.
He's relaxing with the alpha resting on his lap, starting to lose the Jackson part of him again. Before he can forget what that means, he focuses intensely on what Erica had said earlier.
"Did you know you gave me my first post-bite seizure?"
"I guess it was really Matt's fault."
You did this to me.
The words play over and over in his head until Erica shifts in his lap and lets out a low whine. He starts scratching behind her ears and she relaxes.
He watches his hands, imagines them covered in scales and tearing through the skin at the back of Erica's neck.
His fingers stay blunt and human.
"Hey, Jackson, wake up."
"Hmm?" Jackson's eyes blink open slowly.
Erica is squatting in front of him, fully dressed and bleary eyed. "I have to be at work by ten and I need time to shower," she tells him. "Do you want to run back with me?"
"Yeah, okay," he says.
"Not to my apartment," she clarifies. "Just to the city."
He nods. "Okay," he says again. He stands and stretches out his stiff muscles. Sleeping against a tree was about as comfortable as he'd expected it to be, by which he meant not at all.
"Ready?" she asks.
"Yeah," he agrees, and the two of them take off at a loping run. "You have really pretty fur," he tells her after they've been running for a while and he's more awake.
"Yeah?" she asks, glancing at him.
He nods. "Like your hair."
"Oh, so that's pretty, too?" she teases.
"Beautiful," he corrects.
She shrugs and laughs before saying, "I have beautiful everything."
"Yeah," he agrees.
She smiles at him and shakes her head a little, like maybe she can't believe him.
And he understands where she's coming from. He remembers who he was in high school. It wasn't that long ago. He'd manipulated Allison with false flattery designed to hurt Scott and Lydia and held himself apart from those he considered beneath him. He probably wouldn't take himself seriously, either.
But he is. Serious, that is.
They part when they reach the diner, and wave as they run in opposite directions.
The full moon had been both better and worse than usual, but he thinks he'll take the worse if the better comes with it. Erica brought out the wolf in him as much as she brought out the human. Not for the first time, he feels well and completely exhausted after the full moon. But he also feels settled, and a little hopeful.
Which, okay, a lot of that hope is being used in mentally pleading that he hasn't accidentally joined Erica's pack on instinct. Because, yes, he likes her, and he likes her more every time he sees her, but she's right. He still doesn't know her.
But he knows how free she looks on a full moon. She'd said she was skittish, but all he had seen last night was power. Beauty.
He wants it all.
A/N: So this was more flirty and angsty then I expected. I thought it was all going to be fluff but then Jackson was like "Yo my anchor is fear" and I died like five times.