Prompt: Anonymous asked: A tragedy strikes Erica and she learns what pack truly means and how much she really loves having one. In my mind, Stiles, Scott, Isaac, Boyd, Jackson, Lydia, Allison, and Derek are all in the pack. Ship isn't really important lol
Word Count: 3382
Notes: If I can add a cat, apparently I will. The cat is schizophrenic, which is a real thing that happens to cats. While I've never owned one, I had a friend who did and used internet research to fill in gaps. It's different than human schizophrenia, but please be aware that it's included.
No ship, except maybe some Scallison, if you squint.
Set after season 3, where Erica has disappeared and returned. It's never really explained but also unimportant, I think.
"You have a textbook case of abandonment," the court-appointed therapist said boredly. "Your mother left you before you were old enough to know her and your father worked too much to properly nurture you."
"That was seven years ago," Erica says, twisting her hands in her skirt. It's more conservative than her usual clothes. Her mother had insisted. "Mom came back and my dad has plenty of time for me."
"But that's why you ran away," the therapist says. "You didn't feel like they'd miss you."
She thinks it's dumb that this man who doesn't know her any more than her file says (17, epileptic, runaway, biracial slut) is trying to guess her motives. But it's not like she can say,"Actually I felt like my life was in danger on account of a murder lizard and psycho hunters and needed to take myself out of that environment. I just didn't expect to run into a pack of alpha werewolves, escape, and then be on the run for my life. Literally." Instead, she just hums.
"Reports from your high school indicate that you frequently broke school dress code," the therapist says, ignoring the hum. "You dressed in a way that was, reportedly, 'sexually provocative.'" He looks up at her significantly, like that's supposed to indicate something.
She raises an eyebrow, waiting.
"You ran away with Vernon Boyd, correct?"
"Don't call him Vernon," she chides.
"Boyd, then. Did the two of you have a sexual relationship?"
"I don't see how that's your business, honestly," she replies, examining her nails.
"I suspect you did," he says breezily. "But one of you wanted to stop, and that's why Boyd returned without you."
She looks up at him now, frowning. "Is that was happened? Boyd got tired of boning me and decided to find new pussy? Left me out on my own?"
"Or you got too close and needed emotional distance," he says.
She snorts and doesn't reply.
"You don't let people in, Erica," the therapist says, leaning forward earnestly. "It's a problem."
What a douchebag. She grins at him and says, "Is that your diagnosis?"
"Yes," he says, looking relieved that she seems to be responding.
"And how would I go about curing that?" Maybe he'll stop insinuating; maybe he'll leave her alone.
He taps a pencil on the table. "Get a pet," he says at last.
She stares at him blankly. "A pet."
He just nods.
The rest of the hour is spent in silence.
The thing is, he's wrong about everything. Yes, her mother left and her dad worked a lot, but she never knew her mother to miss her and never worried about not having one. Her dad was enough. Anyway, her aunt came around to take care of her a lot, and so did her babysitter, Laura. She'd never felt abandoned. Her dad squeezed enough love into the last three hours of the day to last all 24.
Erica and Boyd never had sex. She never thought Boyd was really interested in her, honestly. No one ever was. It was just a thing. They liked to look, daydreamed about touching, but no one ever braved the space between them.
She didn't ditch Boyd because they were too close, or even too distant. She left because he escaped to Beacon Hills, and she ran the other way.
And then came back, because her dad found her, because her dad never stopped loving her and wanting her. Her mother was there, too, apologizing for smothering even as she clung tightly to her.
It was okay.
But she has to show improvement or they'll keep sending her to the jerk. Anyway, she's always wanted a kitten.
So she shows the note from her therapist to her dad, and the two of them drive over to Deaton's Animal Clinic and Shelter.
"I want a cat," she tells Deaton, and he smiles knowingly before guiding her to the cat room. Scott, working in the puppy room, hisses a warning that cats don't like werewolves.
It's not a surprise when a lot of the cats hiss, but there's one black and white kitten who blinks at her sleepily and doesn't react at all. "What's wrong with her?" Erica asks, because she smells like pain and sickness.
"She's blind and schizophrenic," Deaton says.
The kitten stands, tail twitching at alert, and then leaps at the cage door, pawing at her.
Erica reaches out, delicately touching one of the sweeping paws. The cat nicks hand her and then stills, one paw resting on Erica's forefinger.
"I can have her de-clawed," Deaton says quietly.
Erica's fingers are already healed. "Dad?" she asks, looking at him. "I don't mind, obviously, but you and mom…?"
Her dad knows she's a werewolf, and it doesn't bother him, most of the time. Like right now. "Take out her front claws," he says. "We'll keep her inside, anyway."
"I'll get you some pamphlets on cat care," Deaton says calmly. "You'll have to get a book about the schizophrenia on your own, though. This is the only one we've had in several years." He opens the cage and takes the cat out. "I can do her claws now, if you'd like. You'll be able to come back for her tomorrow."
"Okay," Erica says, brushing a hand over the kittens ears.
The cat twitches and meows loudly, but seems pleased.
She names the cat Queen, but ends up calling her Q most of the time. The kitten sleeps in her bed most nights, although sometimes Erica wakes up to see her prowling around, trampling through her laundry hamper or scratching up her text books (she starts keeping her books in a box.
Q is angry and aggressive often, and sometimes becomes fearful, eyes darting around the room like she sees something that isn't there. She doesn't let Erica touch her then, until she realizes that when Erica pets her, she takes away the pain.
Other times, Q wants to be held and petted. She runs around the room, meowing and growling loudly before pawing at Erica's legs until she gets scooped up. She flexes her paws as she rubs them on Erica's neck. It's probably a good thing they had her declawed, since she doesn't seem to be breaking that habit.
Erica pours through the book she's checked out from the library. One of the possible symptoms for cat schizophrenia (or feline hyperesthesia, the book says) is having seizures. She cries after reading that, until Q starts to smell like fear again, tail standing straight, fur rippling as she crouches.
Erica crawls across the floor and lays down next to Q, where she can be seen. Carefully, making sure Q sees, she lifts a hand and touches Q's leg. She can't suck out the fear, not like she can take away pain, but she can touch. She can be there.
"You got a cat," Isaac says at the next pack meeting.
"Didn't Scott tell you?" she asks, brushing at her jeans. Maybe there's some black cat fur there.
"We're in a fight," he answers, rolling his eyes. "He thinks my methods verge on psychotic, I think he's whining."
"Stiles is sitting this one out," Stiles pipes up. "They both could stand some improvement, honestly. But Scott did tell me. You adopted Psycho."
"Her name is Q," Erica says, because Q's real name feels private, like a family thing. "Don't call her that. It's rude."
"Sorry," Stiles says, but he's not.
She sighs and takes a seat by Isaac and Boyd.
Boyd offers her a smile. "How are you doing today?" he asks politely.
"I'm okay," she says. "I had to go see the therapist after school. He still thinks I'm trying to make up for my lack of emotional attachments by humping everything in sight."
He rolls his eyes. "He doesn't know you, then," he says lightly.
"Yeah," Isaac agrees. "You have me and Boyd."
This is progress. Before leaving (and then coming back) the three of them had been close but they'd never said it. The relationship was too new, too awkward. Now they've fought together, shared beds, and spent time together outside of supernatural shenanigans. They're friends.
"Thanks," she says, putting an arm around each of them and squeezing them close. "We're the three best friends anyone could have."
Isaac laughs and kisses her cheek. Boyd just smiles, but he does nuzzle her neck. "You smell like a cat," he tells her, but he doesn't seem unhappy.
Derek comes over to meet Q.
Actually, he never says that. He just appears in her bedroom one day while she's doing homework and stares at her for a minute. "School going okay?" he asks, because he's trying to make sure everyone passes. Werewolf problems will not be the end of their futures, he has determined.
Sometimes she wants to ask him how much of his own schooling he got to finish. She doesn't.
"It's okay," she says. "I don't understand kinetics, but other than that…" She shrugs and gestures broadly.
Q bats at Derek's leg and he squints down at her.
"She wants you to hold her," Erica says.
"She's not afraid of werewolves?" he asks, nonplussed. He picks her up anyway.
She watches Derek run his hand over her Q's back until Q starts to twitch. She ends up twisting out of his arms and scampering over to hide in the corner, shaking and yowling.
"I think what she sees is much worse," Erica says quietly.
Deaton gives her anti-anxiety medication for Q. "It should help. If it doesn't, we can add in some anti-depressants, and then later anti-convulsants."
Erica holds the medicine. She feels a little like convulsing herself. Why'd she pick such a broken cat? Is this love, to let Q keep suffering?
"I know this is hard for you," Deaton says, looking vaguely disappointed. "But you can handle it. You're stronger than the rest of them."
She's not, though.
Erica hears Lydia and Allison arrive at her house, but she politely waits for them to knock before going downstairs and opening the door for them. Q butts her head at Erica's ankle, but doesn't try to slip outside.
Allison immediately breaks into a wide grin. "She's cuter than Scott said," she says, squatting. "Can I hold her?"
"Come inside first, maybe," Erica says, stepping back. She can't quite bring herself to feel weird, standing there in an old t-shirt and panties. Lydia is dressed like she always is—a fairy queen deigning to walk among mortals—and Allison as her lady-in-waiting.
But Erica has nothing to do today except homework and play with Q ("You need to exercise her more," Deaton says. "The hallucinations won't be as bad."), so pants seemed a bother.
Her mother is baking cookies for a potluck at her dad's insurance company, but she'll probably make an enormous salad, too. She feels bad about being gone for so long and tries to make it up so often that Erica hardly knows what to expect.
"Mom," she calls. "I have some friends over. We're going to my bedroom."
"Isaac and Boyd?" her mother asks, leaning into the room. "Oh. Hello, girls."
Lydia sashays across the room and offers a hand. "Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Reyes. I'm Lydia Martin and this is Allison Argent."
Her mom looks amused but she takes the hand offered and smiles. "Nice to meet you, too, sweetie. Would you girls like some cookies? I'm sure I can spare a dozen or so."
"That would be wonderful," Lydia simpers.
It's clear her mother is trying not to laugh even as she's completely charmed. "I'll bring you a plate up. Did you give Q her pills, honey?"
"Earlier, yeah," Erica says. "I know how to take care of my cat."
Allison picks Q up and Q immediately starts pawing at her. "Is this normal?" she asks as the paws flex over her chest. "Or does she want me to put her down?"
"Keep holding her," Erica says. "She can get away."
The three of them go upstairs to Erica's room and sit on the rumpled bedspread, Lydia and Allison perched on the edge and Erica sitting cross-legged by her pillow. She doesn't care; doesn't care.
"What are you doing here, anyway?" she asks, watching Allison play with Q.
Lydia regards her regally. "You have to be better than the boys," she says simply, and Erica doesn't know what to do with that, because she's never gotten along with Lydia (any girl, really).
"We want you to come get a pedicure with us," Allison says, rolling her eyes. "Even if you're a werewolf we know you understand things the boys don't. It seems stupid to keep fighting over petty things."
Allison stringing her up for electrocution isn't petty, but Erica doesn't mention it. Any time she remembers that, she thinks about what Stiles had explained later, when she got back. Allison's mom was dead. Gerard manipulated her. She thinks one day, she wants Allison to tell her where everything got so messed up and how she pulled herself back together.
Not today, though. "Okay," she says. "Right now?"
"You'll need to get dressed first," Lydia says.
"Will Q be okay?" Allison asks. Q is still playing with her and begging to be pet. It's unusual for a newcomer and makes Erica smile.
She nods. "I gave her the medicine and fed her earlier."
Just then, her mother brings in a plate of cookies, and Lydia says, "This first."
The three of them eat all twelve cookies. Allison and Lydia tease each other about food babies. Erica watches with a smile. It's not like anything she's ever done, but she thinks she could learn to like it.
At the salon, Lydia gets her nails done in a dark coral pink, Allison a shiny steel blue, and Erica in kelly green. She laughs as they leave, and Allison glances at her, eyebrows raised. "Like the Power Puff Girls," she says, gesturing at their open-toed shoes.
Lydia grins devilishly. "I suppose that makes sense. Those boys are a bunch of sissies. We have the real power." She curls arms around both of their waists, and smirks devilishly. "I guess that makes Peter Mojo Jojo."
The three of them laugh hard as they walk back to the car, and Erica thinks that maybe, just maybe, this is what pack is like.
Q seizes, because nothing in life goes like Erica wants.
It's just a normal day. Erica is trying and failing to understand kinetic physics and writing a paper about The Metamorphosis all at once (or, you know, flickering between the two every fifteen minutes or so. She focuses better like this; always has.)
Q is playing with a catnip mouse Erica's mother had bought on a whim. She's rolling around the floor, meowing loudly when abruptly she goes still and starts to whine. She leaps to her feet and falls into a crouch, tail curling defensively.
It looks like a pose Erica might fall into during a sparring match. The difference is the smell of fear, pain and…the taste of blood.
She shouldn't taste that. It's not her mouth.
For a second she thinks she's going to have a seizure, but it's Q who's locking up and then convulsing. "Queen!" she shrieks, and downstairs, her dad asks what's wrong. "She's seizing. She's seizing!"
Erica doesn't know what to do for a cat having a seizure. Everything she read in the book flies out of her head, but she knows what to do for herself. She rolls Q onto her side and fishes the catnip mouse out of her mouth. Her cat's not going to die.
Her dad comes upstairs and the two of them wait for Q to stop before they carry her to the car.
She cries the whole way to Deaton's clinic, holding Q delicately in her lap, taking in as much of the pain as she can.
Her dad watches her in the rear view mirror. He's crying, too.
Deaton gives her anti-convulsants, but Q didn't injure herself during the seizure. Still, she's skittish for weeks after. She won't let herself be held or take her medicine, darting out of Erica's hands as soon as she can.
For the first time since getting a cat, Erica feels alone.
"How are things with your cat?" the therapist asks. She's never bothered to remember his name. She doesn't address him, anyway.
"She had a seizure," Erica says quietly. "So not great."
"I'm sorry to hear that," he says. "Does she remind you of yourself?"
She thinks about it. She knows whatever she says will be psycho-analyzed, but this is a question she wants to answer for herself at least.
The first time she had a seizure it was small and she was ten years old. She was at home and fell over before she got into the shower. Her dad found her on the bathroom floor and took her to a doctor. She took all her medication after that and crawled up in her dad's lap at every opportunity.
But shying away from her friends who asked why she was in the hospital? Did that compare to Q's method of isolating herself?
"No," she says out loud.
"Hmm," he says, and writes it down.
At the pack meeting, Erica feels cranky and nervous. Q rubbed against her ankles for the first time in weeks just before leaving, and of course it's when she has to leave.
Isaac tugs her into his lap when she gets close enough and Boyd immediately slides into her usual seat to hug both of them.
Isaac is all skin and bones, which usually would make their current seating arrangements uncomfortable, but she does her best to relax into the embrace. If she focuses on the mental comfort, it works as a physical comfort, too.
"Hey, we want some Erica time," Allison says petulantly as she and Lydia enter the room.
"Yeah, ease up, boys," Lydia says, winking broadly.
Isaac and Boyd refuse to let Erica go, though, and the two girls end up maneuvering themselves into the cuddles until they're all piled on each other like puppies.
"Is this happening?" Stiles asks when he walks in. "Is this a post-orgy thing?"
"Scott," Allison says, lifting her head to look over at the pair of boys. "Come. Bring the spare."
Stiles is apparently so delighted at the Harry Potter reference that he doesn't even protest being dragged across the room by Scott to fit into he pile.
Erica feels warm and loved. She doesn't even mind that Derek and Jackson refuse to join them on the couch. They in the two armchairs instead, choosing to "maintain their dignity," according to Jackson.
And anyway, after the meeting, Jackson hugs her and tells her she's probably really good at caring for cats, and Derek tells her that next time she can bring Q. "She should get used to us, anyway," he says. "She's not just your pack."
"Thanks," she says, smiling lightly.
Things feel okay, now. She thinks about where she was when she had her first seizure. She'd had friends, but had been too shy to tell them, too scared. After her first seizure at school, she lost even those friends.
She remembers the therapist's question about whether she related to her cat. "No," she says again, out loud. "No."
Because Q is scared but she'll be there to guide her back to happiness. She was scared and had her Dad, but that's different, somehow.
Q is luckier.
But now she's good, because she has friends who have puppy piles with her without complaint, who like her cat, who take her to get pedicures Saturday and would die for her Sunday.
Erica has pack, and now Q will, too.
"How are you doing?" the therapist asks, pen poised to write.
He's still wrong. She never felt abandoned. She was never holding anyone at arms length.
The difference, she thinks, is now no one is doing it to her. They want her around, and she's always wanted to be there. Her friends are the ones who are better.
Anyway, this is her last session.
"I feel great," Erica says.
A/N: If I can add a cat I will because I am a nerd about cats and Teen Wolf characters. I thought about killing the cat but then I realized I would hate myself and couldn't do that.