Word Count: 4133

Prompt: Derica; Established Relationship.

Background pairings: Stisaac (apparently irresistible for me)

Notes: Post Season 3. Erica came back (why she was gone really isn't important for this) and is now 19. She and Derek have been dating for a year. I think established relationships are boring, so I made it a 5+1 thing.

Erica has never claimed to be a nice person. She can be pretty ruthless in her dealings with people. But when it's someone she loves, she knows her limits.

After all, she'd never make fun of Stiles for his nerdtastic comic collection if he wasn't aware that she was actually pretty jealous of it and she would never call Scott an idiot if he thought she actually considered him to be stupid. She doesn't tease her friends to hurt them; she teases them to have fun. Most of the time, this works out pretty well.

But the one time she told Derek she loved him, his face darkened and he drew away from her. "Don't mess around, Erica," he said.

"I'm not," she argued, reaching out for him.

But she could tell he didn't believe her for whatever reason; maybe because he was still thinking of Kate's lies. More likely, it was because Erica joked and teased and he thought this was the same.

She loves Derek. Loves him so much it's scary to think about sometimes. And she's going to make him believe that before she says the words again. She'll prove it to him before she tells him, so there's no doubt in his mind.

And if he's never ready to hear it, she'll just keep trying, until she dies.

1. Food

It's not like cooking for Derek is a new thing. Stiles is okay at cooking but really, he has the skills of a college-aged vegetarian in the kitchen. He can make stuff, but it's all so absurdly healthy that half the pack whines and makes PB&J sandwiches instead. Erica has long been the only member in the pack who can cook pretty much anything, and beyond that, she's the one who enjoys it the most.

So yeah, cooking for Derek is nothing new.

But usually, Erica makes whatever she feels like, or whatever seems interesting. She plans meals with precision and makes extensive grocery lists. Derek pays for everything because he is the one with 1. a job as a construction worker and 2. a collection of life insurance policies. Not that Erica buys expensive things, really. Why bother?

This is clearly not enough.

"Derek," she says one day, tucked into his side while he reads a book and she browses recipes on Pinterest. "What's your favorite food?"

Derek doesn't answer for a minute, obviously thinking. "Mom used to make red pepper soup."

These small moments mean a lot to Erica, because before he never would have mentioned his mother. She thinks, even if he doesn't think she loves him, he trusts her with this which...this is huge.

"Okay," she says, and finds a recipe. She makes the soup on a Thursday, because this is a meal meant for her and Derek, not the pack.

When the two of them curl up on the couch to eat the soup (they don't use the table when it's just the two of them because it seems too formal) Derek smiles at her and his eyes crinkle at the corners. It's genuine.

I love you, she thinks. All she says is, "Do you like it?"

He spoons a bit into his mouth and swallows. His eyes shut briefly, and when they open, they're wistful, torn between happiness and pain. "Yes," he says.

"Good," she answers, and smiles over the rim of her bowl before slurping the soup down. "Because it's delicious."

2. Touch

They've been dating for a while—almost a year, Erica thinks happily—but there are still times where Derek startles like a newborn deer when she touches him.

Erica knows—she does, really—that she comes across as sexually aggressive. And it's not like she doesn't enjoy sex with Derek, but that's not why she's dating him and she's not always trying to bang him.

Derek logically must know this, but there's a disconnect somewhere. She figures it comes from his romantic history of being with aggressive people—first there was Kate, then there were the meaningless hookups and one night stands where both parties had to acknowledge their intent pretty early on.

She watches Derek interact with the pack. He still clasps the shoulders of his betas and pushes Stiles around (though now it comes across as teasing instead of threatening) and greets Allison and Lydia with hugs.

She can replicate that, she thinks. So she does.

When she passes him reading a book on the couch, she runs a hand through his hair or rubs his shoulder. At night she takes the role of big spoon, wrapping her arm around his waist and pushing her nose into the back of his neck and nuzzling until he huffs out a laugh. She kisses him casually wherever she can reach him when he stands next to her—sometimes on his cheek, others his jaw or neck.

She kisses his shoulder from behind him when they're standing in line at Starbucks, and he looks over his shoulder to stare at her. "What are you doing?" he asks.

She shrugs and wraps her arms around his waist from behind. "Holding you," she says against his shoulder.

"Why?" he asks.

She shrugs again and presses her mouth tighter into him before mouthing I love you.

He reaches down and takes her hand, lacing their fingers together and squeezing.

3. Knitting

There's no subtle way to take measurements and Erica wants this to be a sort-of surprise, so instead of knitting him a sweater, she makes Derek a scarf. It's about five times easier, anyway, even when she adds in cable stitches.

She's picked out a soft blue yarn that she's actually a little envious of. She makes a mental note to borrow it on occasion. Derek will like it more if it smells like her, anyway.

He comes home from work when she's about halfway done and stares at her for a while.

She doesn't stop working, needles and fingers flying as she adds row after row.

"I didn't know you knew how to knit," he says.

"Since I got epilepsy," she replies. "They kicked me off the soccer team and boredom is a child's greatest teacher."

He smiles at that. "My dad could knit," he offers.

She does stop then, looking up at him with a soft smile. "Your dad had good taste."

"Yeah," he agrees, and wanders out of the room.

When she finishes the scarf, she wraps it around her own neck before finding Derek and hugging him tightly. He's okay right now, but she remembers all the times bringing anything up from his past was enough to make him anxiously stare at a spot on the wall for hours.

"Hey," he says, hugging her back. "Hey."

She wraps the scarf around his neck so it's curled around them both in an infinity symbol or a figure eight, depending on perspective. "I made you this," she says, but she doesn't pull away.

"Thank you," he says, smiling and pressing one of the ends to his cheek. "It's soft."

"Yeah," she agrees. "I'm jealous." Then she tightens the scarf around his neck and pulls until he leans down to kiss her. She kisses in morse code. I-l-o-v-e-y-o-u.

He'll understand soon.

4. Notes

Derek takes lunch to work every day, regardless of whether Erica makes it for him. And it's not like she makes it every day, because she's a college student and frankly does not like making sandwiches. One too many jokes from Jackson and Stiles can do that (and okay; she knew they were completely joking and would have kicked the asses of any one who had actually meant it when they said it to her).

But the next phase of her plan is to leave notes for Derek, and it's easier to tuck a note into his lunch box than his jacket. He'd definitely look in the lunch box, but now that summer is approaching, he's been leaving the jacket at home. Or Erica has been stealing it to wear at the community college, because her Spanish class is actually freezing. It's all kind of a blur.

So she starts making Derek's lunch twice a week and writes him small notes to tuck in between his fruit snacks and juice box.

(Apparently Derek is actually five years old. Whatever. It's adorable.)

She makes him a peanut butter and banana sandwich on Monday and writes a quick note on a post it note. She sticks it to the sandwich baggie.

/I'm bananas for you./

And it's dumb but she thinks it will make Derek laugh. Besides, she's tired from all the stupid papers she's been writing, so coming up with a good pun isn't really high up on her list.

Derek doesn't say anything when he gets home from work, but that might be because he walked in to find her sprawled out on the couch, asleep on her textbook. In any case, he's gentle when he picks her up and carries her to bed.

Erica, of course, is not a quitter. Not any more. So she makes his lunch again on Thursday. This time, she drops a chocolate chip muffin in with a peanut butter and apple sandwich. Stiles always tells her that it's the weirdest sandwich he's ever heard of, but she usually just reminds him that he ate cheese and pickle sandwiches for a year in middle school, and he leaves her alone. Anyway, both she and Derek really like peanut butter and apple sandwiches. That's what's important.

/I love the color of your eyes in the sun./

No pun, but she figures giving actual examples will be better than that, anyway.

This time she's awake when he comes home, and he sits with her while she writes a paper. He reads a book, legs crossed and propped up on the table, one arm around her.

Derek is tactile, of course, but this isn't really typical. Sure, he hugs her (if she starts it) and cuddles with her, but that's usually when she's feeling sad or on her period, or if he's in a really good mood.

She's not on her period. Derek's just happy. And that makes her happy.

She gets more creative with the notes.

[Stuck to his steering wheel the following Tuesday morning]

/Drive safe. I'd hate to have to hang out with you in the hospital./

[In his jacket pocket Wednesday evening]

/Your jacket is nice but I wish I could be with you all day instead./

[On his pillow Friday afternoon]

/I love watching you interact with the pack. You care so much./

[Under his plate Saturday at dinner]

/Your taste in music sucks but it's adorable when you know all the words./

[In between the couch cushions on Monday]

/You're the reason I came back to Beacon Hills./

Erica knows he found the last one because he's sitting on the couch and holding it when she gets back from class, just staring at the words blankly. "Hi," she says, kissing his forehead. "How was work?"

"Someone dropped a 2x4 on my foot," Derek says, blandly. He folds the note up and sticks it in his pocket before looking up at her with a soft smile. "I was thinking."

"A dangerous pastime," she sings softly.

"I know," he says dismissively.

She can't help but kiss him again. Derek's secret love of Disney movies is something only she gets to experience, because even when Stiles makes them watch Disney movies for pack movie night, Derek is impassive and unimpressed.

Erica is the only one who knows about his giant crushes on Belle and Aurora. She's pretty sure no one could even fathom the idea of Derek knowing all the words to every song of Beauty and the Beast. Well, maybe Isaac, but that was because they were practically brothers. Whatever.

"So what were you thinking about?" she asks, slipping into his lap when he sits back.

"Building a house," he says.

"You do that all the time," she points out.

"No, I mean...a pack house. So we wouldn't have to live in the loft."

"Yeah?" she says, smiling and pushing her face into his neck.

His hands tighten on her hips. "Yeah."

"I like it," she says. She kisses him softly, just a faint brush of lips. She wouldn't call it teasing, just...being delicate. She likes butterfly kisses and whispers against skin just as much as she likes biting and hickeys.

She thinks Derek likes these moments more, but she can't be sure.

"Why are you leaving me notes?" he whispers into the shell of her hear.

She shudders when his stubble rasps against her earlobe and shrugs. "Because you're important to me," she says quietly. She can't say "I love you" out loud yet, because he won't believe her. Not yet. But she can say that she loves things about him. Half her notes have been little things like that—"I love the way your hair looks in the morning" and "I love how much attention you pay to your car" and "I love that you trust Isaac and give reason for Isaac to trust you."

He's getting there.

She brushes soft kisses over his neck. "You're the most important person to me," she reiterates, and there's not much talking after that.

5. Nesting

Derek has never done things halfway. Once he's decided to build the house, it takes him a month to make it happen. Apparently he's been sitting on blue prints for years, and he actually hires the construction company he works for to build it.

Erica finds that hilarious, because apparently he's keeping it a secret from his coworkers. As far as they know, the person who commissioned the house is some rich guy they've never heard of, and Derek works on it silently as he works on everything else.

He doesn't think much of his coworkers, apparently.

The house is nearly done when she crawls over him in bed and says very seriously, "Let me do the inside."

"What?" he asks.

"Let me do the interior decorating. This way Lydia will never have to know. Besides, I'm out of school for the summer and a champion at putting together IKEA furniture," she reasons.

"You are weirdly good at that," he agrees with a small smile. "Okay."

As soon as the house is done, Erica drives the truck Derek bought her to Home Depot buy paint. She buys light colors that remind her of the beach—creamy white for the ceilings, sea blue for the living room, and a light olive green for the kitchen. She'll look at other things later, but she figures even with werewolf speed and stamina, she'll only be able to finish one room a day.

Derek comes by after she finishes the living room and is in the kitchen. "It looks really nice," he offers, watching her roll the paint on the wall.

"Thanks," she says. "Any color preferences?"

"Nah," he says. Then he hesitates, and says, "No red, please."

"No problem," she agrees.

In the end, she gets more blue and green, and then a darker cream color, and paints and paints and paints until she thinks she'll never breathe fresh air again. But the house is finished and now it's time to buy furniture.

Of course she gets caught in IKEA, by Stiles of all people.

"What are you doing here?" he asks. He's lugging a table around, looking vaguely interested in the set of chairs and the table she's pushing around on the cart.

"'I've recently become involved in illegal arms dealing," she says drily, gesturing at the cart. "Just as a hobby, of course."

"Of course," Stiles agrees, but he follows her around after that.

She's checking out, Stiles still following her, when he realizes why she's buying new furniture.

"I see two options," he tells her. "Either you two got kinky and broke the table, or you are moving out of that stupid loft."

"Hmm," Erica says, shrugging.

"Both seem equally feasible," Stiles continues, as if she hadn't said anything. "But my bet is actually on the second option. Since there's a new house being built on the preserve."

"Hmm," Erica says again.

"Oh, my—"

Erica turns around and claps a hand over his mouth. "Shh! Lydia could be near by. I'm the one who gets to decorate, and she'll try to take over."

Stiles stares at her with impossibly wide eyes and licks her hand.

She jerks back. "Ew."

"You're nesting," he whispers, clearly delighted.

"Oh, shut up," she says, but it's a little fond, because, yeah, she is.

"Are you having children or something? Or is the creation of the perfect den a prerequisite for that?" he asks, clearly interested.

"I don't think that's a thing," she says, frowning.

"Whatever; I know you read the same werewolf fanfiction I do," he says, frowning. "You're nesting because you want to have his pups."

"You're ridiculous," she informs him. "I'm just 19 and I'm not actually interested in motherhood yet."

"Sure," he says, shrugging. "So why are you nesting?"

"Because I love him and I'm going to prove it," she says calmly, and swipes the credit card to pay for the furniture (it's Derek's card, but that's not really relevant. It's furniture for Derek's house and she's poor.)

Stiles drums his fingers on the box he's still carrying. "Why do you need to prove it?"

"Because when I told him I loved him, he didn't believe me," she says quietly.


"Yeah, oh," she agrees. "But it's fine. My plan has only been successful."

"You made a plan to convince Derek that you love him?" Stiles says derisively.

"Oh, shut up, Mister I-made-a-ten-step-plan-to-ask-Isaac-to-prom."

"In the past," he informs her coolly. "Besides, the actual plan was just to plant the list somewhere I knew he'd find it and gauge his reaction before flat out asking."

"Uh huh. Keep telling yourself that. I happen to know you completed steps 1-6," she says, and walks away.

She actually does trust Stiles not to say anything to the others until the house is ready, which it's not, at this point. Nearly, but not quite. She still has furniture to assemble for each room and...couches to buy. She's not assembling couches. There are limits to even Erica's proficiency.

It only takes four trips to IKEA and two weeks of furniture building before she's done, though. She sends Derek a text and spreads out on the couch.

When he gets there, she says, "I put a huge dent in your savings."

"Just a dent, though," he says, and it's not smug, just a statement of fact. "You can make it up to me later."

"Hmm, how?" she asks, rolling onto her side to examine him.

"Start by giving me a tour," he says, eyes almost sparkling. (It's still disconcerting that his eyes can do that, and she's known him for over three years. Ridiculous.)

"You built this house," she sighs, but she gets up anyway, moving to hold his hand and pull him out of the living room. "This is the living room. It's got pictures and couches. Cool, right?"

"I like the couch," Derek agrees. "Nice color."

"Thanks," she says. "Let's go on to the kitchen. For the record I can't believe no one noticed all my appliances disappearing from our kitchen."

"Everyone is banned from the kitchen except for Stiles," Derek reminds her, squeezing her hand. "He told me you were nesting."

"Is that a thing?" she asks in pretend exasperation. "You may have noticed I picked the best dishwasher available."

Derek chuckles. "Yeah, it's great."

"Moving right along," Erica says, tugging him out of the room, "The dining room. This table took me four hours to assemble."

"It's the best table."

"Ah, you say that now, but check this out," she says. She moves a couple chairs away from the table, hooks a hand under the edge of the table, and tugs until the flat top doubles in size. "Everyone can eat here."

"Very nice," he agrees.

The "tour" proceeds as such. It's not like Derek didn't give her room assignments ahead of time. He knows where everything is, so it continues to be Erica showing off her IKEA skills.

"Truly, I am the master craftsman," she says when they arrive in the final room—their bedroom, coincidentally. "I demand kisses and cuddles."

"I guess so," he says rolling his eyes before tackling her onto the bed.

She lets out a shriek of laughter as she hits the mattress and loops her fingers into his hair. "Kiss me, fool," she says, still giggling.

"Yeah, okay," he says. He nips at her lips lightly and sucks on the lower one. "I like the picture," he tells her when he pulls back to breathe. "We look happy."

On the bedside table, Erica framed a picture of the two of them wrestling. Stiles took the picture, and the first time she saw it, she realized exactly how much Derek had come to mean to her. How much she loved him. She put it there because...she hopes he sees the love there, too.

"We are happy," she tells him, and gasps as his mouth fastens to her neck. Getting hickeys that don't last will never cease to be strange to her, but if it's Derek and she has the added benefit of raspy stubble, well. It's just fine.

"Yeah," he says into her neck. "We are."

+1. Words

Derek wakes her up when he gets up for work the next morning. It's not on purpose, but he's jostled the bed as he wiggled out of her arms.

"Hey," he says softly. "Go back to sleep."

"Mmkay," she says, and her eyes blink shut again. Still half-asleep, she hears the bedroom door open and shut a few minutes later. "Bye, Derek," she mumbles. "Love you."

Suddenly Derek is back in the room, kneeling in front of her on the bed. "What?"

"I love you," she says again, waking up slowly. She hadn't meant to tell him again, not yet, but half-asleep Erica clearly made bad decisions. She sits up, wiping the sleep out of her eyes. "I do. I do love you, Derek."

Derek stares at her, almost trembling. He doesn't look away from her eyes for several minutes (which is really an incredible feat, because Erica sleeps naked), and he clearly, clearly doesn't believe her still.

"Listen to my heart," she pleads. "I love you. I love you so much, Derek." It occurs to her suddenly that Derek might have pulled away before not because he wasn't prepared to be loved, but because he didn't love her. What if he doesn't now?

She feels herself deflating. She tugs the sheets up to wrap around her shoulders and stares at Derek's chest instead. If he doesn't love her...she's really going to miss how he looks in a tank top. Because there's no way she can stick around. She'll just transfer schools and stay with her parents in the summer. No big deal, right?

Only it's a big deal.

"Erica, you can't," he says slowly.

"I do," she breaks in. "I love you so much it's painful to think of ever leaving you. Even if you don't feel the same, I'll just...I can't imagine leaving. I love you, Derek. I love you."

Derek twitches and starts to reach for her. "Why...I can't..."

Her heart stutters. "Oh," she says.

"No," he says quickly. "Not what I...This is not...I love you, too, I swear."

Erica looks up at him, eyes wide. "You do?"

"How could I not?" he asks, looking vaguely amused. "You're...everything. You do so much and...I..."

"So why can't I love you?" she asks, deciding to take pity on him. She doesn't need Derek to explain why he loves her, because now that she has the guarantee, she can see all the small things that point toward it. Derek talks easily enough, just not about feelings. So she can take his actions instead. Besides, he said it. He loves her, too.

Derek shrugs. "'M not worth it."

"You are," she promises. "You know me. I'd never do something for someone who didn't deserve it. I'm too self-serving."

He shrugs. "I like that about you."

"So you know," she says. "You know."

"Yeah," he says, smiling. "I guess I do."

"I love you," she says, because now that she's said it, she might never stop.

"I love you more," he promises, and when he smiles it reaches his eyes.

"I love you most," she says.

"Your ability to quote Tangled doesn't make that true," he tells her and kisses her again.

"Does so," she replies. "Does so."

"Nah," he answers. "Impossible."

"Nothing's impossible," she says. "Now kiss me, fool."

He obliges.