Prompt: Derek and Erica finally go on their first date.

Word count: 3343

Notes: So this might be a little darker than I intended…Also as soon as I know enough about Cora I'm writing like 20k words about her friendship with Erica. It's a thing I need okay

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

"Where's Isaac?" Derek asks, sliding into the booth across from her.

"He said he couldn't make it," Erica says, fiddling with the menu in front of her. "Boyd?"

He sighs. "He's supposed to meet us here."

"Boyd is always early," she says slowly, glancing at her cell phone. They were supposed to meet up twenty minutes ago (Derek and his stupid fashionably makes her cringe.)

"He's probably not coming," he suggests. "Did you already order?"

"Just soda," she says, sipping her coke. Everything feels kind of awkward now. It's been a while since she could look Derek in the eye, and she almost wants to fake a stomach flu or a cramp and go home.

But that wouldn't work, huh? Freaking werewolves.

She does feel kind of nauseous though.

The waitress walks over to the table, smiling warmly at them. "Can I get you something to drink, hun?" she asks.

Derek offers her a blinding smile and says, "Just water."

"Sure thing, sweetheart," she says, and vanishes.

Erica glares at the table. Derek smiles at sweet middle aged women but not her. Her pining is getting actively ridiculous. She texts Isaac under the table angrily. "i'm stuck alone with Derek. Thanks. No. Really."

"How was your semester?" Derek asks drumming his fingers. He's studiously avoiding her gaze, choosing instead to scrutinize the menu.

"It was okay," she offers. She already knows what she'll order—a cheeseburger and a basket of onion rings. They're delightfully greasy. She'll feel better, maybe. Well, grease might not be the best thing to settle her stomach...she doesn't actually care.

"Your grades were good?" he asks, maybe struggling to come up with something to ask. And he does care about their grades, it's just...she doesn't want him to act like her father. She loves her father. Just, you know, differently.

"Decent," she says. She's never been the smart one in class. Her grades have always rested in the low-b, high-c range. She doesn't mind. She's good at other things. School isn't everything, anyway.

Hesitantly, she looks up at him. He's still staring at the menu awkwardly. "How was it for you? I heard you were working at Home Depot, right?"

"Yeah," he says, meeting her eyes briefly. "It's okay. I was thinking about getting into construction instead, though."

"The actual building?" she asks, propping her chin up.

He nods. It makes sense. Derek builds things all the time—he built the pack and built Isaac up to be brave, built Boyd up to be open, built her up to be...queen.

His construction has been a little shaky in some cases, for sure, but he's...he's a creator.

"That sounds like something you would like," she offers, and Derek smiles.

"I can't believe you ordered a salad," she says, rolling her eyes.

"I don't have the same metabolism," he says, shrugging.

"You're a werewolf."

"Werewolves can gain weight," Derek mutters, eating the salad grumpily.

She snorts and thinks about all the sparring and running. "Yeah," she says, taking a bite of the burger. "Because you're so inactive."

"Shut up," he sighs, but he's hiding a grin behind his lettuce.

Erica smiles back. It's nice to be with him like this. They aren't angry right now...and they're angry more than she'd like to be.

See, she left, and Derek has awful abandonment issues. Plus there was the week or whatever where they all thought she was dead and didn't look for her when the alphas still had her chained up in another cell, craving the shift of the moon and not getting it.

They try not to blame each other for all the failures, but it's apparently difficult enough that they avoid being in the same room without Boyd, Isaac, or even Cora. Stiles is more likely to rile them up into fighting, and Scott doesn't really like either of them, still.

Dude's got issues. Whatever.

Thing is, she'd like to be okay with Derek. After all, as much as she loves Isaac and Boyd, Derek is the one who reached down and pulled her from the bottom. She changed her looks and let her anger out, but he was the one who gave her the strength to do it.

So he didn't rescue her. He didn't know, right? So it's cool.

Nope...she's not ready to say that.

"Have you thought about your major?" he asks, pretending to be casual. It almost works, but the fake smile is firmly affixed to his face and she sighs a little.

"Craft works, maybe," she says, swiping an onion ring through ketchup. "I was thinking about cooking, too." She's the only member of the pack at a technical college. Boyd and Isaac are at Beacon Hills Community college, Cora is getting her GED still, and Scott, Stiles, and Allison headed out to Berkeley where they may or may not be having orgies every night in the apartment they all share. Lydia and Jackson are in Connecticut, just like everyone had predicted. Sometimes she feels weird, like she's the dumb one in the pack. But she's always known what she likes—knitting and macrame, or making up recipes and tweaking them over the course of a month. English and math never held her interest, and science was only interesting when she got to mix chemicals. So she doesn't like school. Who cares?

Derek doesn't ask what she'll do with that after she graduates, which is refreshing. It's all her mother asks, all that any adult asks. (Once, her mother was bothering her about it and her dad drily said, "Yeah, why didn't you choose to go into blacksmithing? I've always wanted a blacksmith for a daughter." Erica had laughed so hard she'd nearly cried.) "That sounds interesting," he says instead. "What kind of crafts?"

"I was thinking fabric based sorts of things," she offers. "Quilting or knitting. Maybe clothes making? With Etsy you can sell things pretty easily, you know?"

He nods and takes another bite of salad, chewing slowly as he thinks about it. "As long as you're doing what makes you happy," he offers. "I won't let you be a starving artist, though."

She tenses. Maybe he's not as supportive as he's trying to appear.

"I mean," he says, obviously realizing she's misunderstood him. "I wouldn't let you starve. As your alpha I would support you in any way that you needed."

She sits back, surprised. "Really?" Handouts don't sound great but they sound better than denial of what she loves.

"Yeah, of course," he replies.

"Is that...just an alpha thing?" she asks hesitantly.

This is the other thing she should drop: the vague attraction that morphed into an enormous crush. It doesn't even make sense that she spends half of her time just furious with him for leaving her behind and the other half wishing she could kiss him and hold him close and wear his shirts.

Because it blurs everything for her. Did he stay at the diner because he's her alpha? Did he offer to make sure she doesn't starve because he feels obligated? Does he think of her as a friend or an enemy or an omega? An annoyance?


"Yeah," he says quietly. " know, a friend thing, too."

Friend, yeugh. (She'll take it.)

"Well, thanks," she says, settling back.

He shifts uncomfortably. "It's nothing. I want to."

"That's really...nice," she says quietly. And it is. Because they do spend most of their time together. In fact the last thirty minutes are practically a record for them. She tries not to let it go to her head. "Anyway...have you, um, seen any good movies lately?"

He doesn't act surprised at the abrupt change in conversation, just shrugs. "I liked After Earth."

"Really?" she says, picking her burger up. "Everyone else I've talked to didn't really like it."

He shrugs. "It was good. Why didn't they like it?"

"Dunno," she says. "But I'll take your word for it. Maybe go see it."

"You should," he says. "I think you would like it."

"Okay," she says, she takes a bite from her burger to stop the smile.

"Oh, I had a question for you," Derek says hesitantly.

She nods, still chewing.

"Cora is finishing up her GED this semester and was thinking about going up to school where you are. She was wondering if the two of you could share an apartment," he says, playing with the food on his plate. "Would you be okay with that? I could cover any extra rent of course," he offers quickly.

"No problem," Erica says quickly, setting the burger down again. "I like Cora. That would be really fun." And Derek would have to visit more often. Maybe they could learn to tolerate each other.

And then more?

Hmm. Magic Eight Ball says "seems unlikely."

"Cool," he says, looking relieved. "She'll be happy about it."

Erica nods. No big deal. Cora is pretty easy to be around. She's a little more skittish than the rest of them (except maybe Isaac, sometimes) and the one least likely to take a shot at the way Erica is dressed. Cora is sweet, to a point, a lot like Allison. Cross the line and she'll eviscerate you.

But she and Erica have always laughed at the same things, and in a lot of ways, Erica sees a kindred spirit in the older girl. They both know what it's like to be at the bottom, trying, but always failing, to climb to the top.

And Derek pulled them both up to stand...well, near him, at least.

So yeah, she likes Cora.

"Cora likes you, too," Derek says abruptly, and Erica recycles the conversation to try and figure out how that makes any sense. Was she talking out loud? No, that only happens in books. Or she's never done it, anyway. But then she remembers that she did say she liked Cora, before she got lost in her thoughts. What a relief.

So she smiles and says, "That's...really good. It's nice to have a girl friend, you know?"

"No," Derek says, squinting at her. "I have a sister, a girl who brought my psychotic uncle back to life, a hunter that's only on my side half the time"

"Ominous," she says, frowning. "I don't get a special description?"

He shifts uncomfortably. "I'd rather not do this here."

"If you don't want a fight, don't talk about me like you wish I'd never said yes to the bite," she snipes, stabbing an onion ring into the ketchup angrily. She thinks about clawing Derek, too, but it would only do more damage to her when he reciprocated.

"I didn't mean that," he says reproachfully. "I just meant that I never know where I stand with you."

She frowns at him and raises an eyebrow. "Meaning what?"

He shrugs helplessly. "I mean sometimes it seems like you hate me and want to find a diff—better pack. A better alpha. And other days it's like we're totally fine and you like where you're at. And sometimes..." He trails off and shrugs helplessly, like he doesn't want to talk about encounters of the third kind.

But Erica knows what he means, because it's kind of her default setting. Even when she's pissed at him... "What? It seems like I want you?" she suggests coolly.

"You shouldn't," he says, sounding vaguely rebellious.

"Why not?" she asks.

He shrugs, staring down at his salad like it held all the answers. He moved the lettuce around for a few seconds before saying, "I'm..." and then not finishing whatever he was thinking.

She sighs when it becomes clear he won't be saying anything else. "Do you want me to list all your negative qualities and tell you why I like you anyway?" she wonders, drumming her fingers. "Because I don't really want to talk about how you left me in the hands of the alpha pack based on Isaac saying I was dead based on a false memory. I don't want to talk about how you can't forgive me for wanting to be somewhere safer. I don't want to talk about how you pretended to want me in the morgue but pushed me down when I tried to kiss you.

"Is this what you want?" she continues. "Because I don't know how to answer those questions. You aren't perfect. I don't think I would like you very much if you were. Most of the time I think you're a pretty awful alpha, but then I think about how much you care about us. I mean, shit, Derek, I'm gone for a full five months and I never talk to you, but when I come back you want to know how I'm doing and if I'd be okay with your little sister moving in with me. That's not...that's not the behavior of someone who doesn't care.

"What I feel for you has never been based on what you look like. I...think about it. Before you gave me the bite, people only paid me any attention when I had a seizure or when a teacher called on me and I had the wrong answer. One time Stiles caught me staring at him and he just made a goofy face at me. That was...that was nice. But it's not like you, right? I mean, you were this hot guy who seemed interested in my well-being. You wanted to help me. And in retrospect, I can see you were just playing with my emotions. You didn't want me, not really. You just wanted another beta, and in the end I wasn't good enough, but...For me, there was never an option that didn't involve feeling something for you."

She's crying now, just a few tears welling up in her eyes, because laying it all out like that makes her feel stupid and weak. She shouldn't have feelings for a boy (a man) who just showed her basic human decency. But the kids at her high school, all full of cruelty and more concerned with maintaining the status quo than being kind made it impossible not to feel something.

She picks up a napkin and dabs gently at her eyes. The paper still feel rough, but the pain is fleeting. She could write a book called The Perks of Being a Werewolf. But what does she have to say that's more interesting than what Charlie wrote?

Anyway, she can't write worth shit.

When she drops the napkin, Derek is looking at her, a little slumped over. "I'm...that's..." he begins, and then stops, trailing off. "Isaac and Boyd told me they weren't going to come when they set this up."

She scoffs and dabs her eyes again. Of course she confesses—cries—and rather than saying anything relevant, he brings up Isaac and Boyd.

He draws a vague shape on the table. He talks to his hand when he speaks again. "They said we needed to talk, and me. They think I didn't handle the situation very well."

"What situation?" she asks quietly. She's talking to his hand, too, watching as his fingers trace the spirals from the triskelion on his back.

"Everything," he offers. "The alphas. Your seizure. Your return." His hand stills and he shoots a cursory look at her. "What I feel for you..."

He doesn't seem to know how to continue, but she's not sure she wants him to. If he's going to tell her he hates her for leaving and he could never love a girl with her condition...

Well. She'll spit on his salad before pouring his water over his head and leaving the restaurant in a fury. He can pick up her bill.

"I, ah," Derek says, fingers starting to trace again. "I think...We're both mad at each other for things that were out of our control. You're right. I should have understood your need for stability. I'm sorry."

She crumples. Even though this apology is always something she's wanted, she can hear the implicit I don't feel the same.

"And," he continues, apparently unaware of her inner discontent. "I should have come for you while you were with the alphas. I should have known you weren't dead, no matter what Boyd and Isaac said. The alphas messed with memories a lot and I should have realized."

She nods, glancing up at him. "I, um, thank you. That...that helps. I'm sorry I can't just get over it but..."

"I understand," he says quickly. "Life isn't that simple. Apologies don't actually fix much."

"No, it helps a lot," she says. Kicks herself mentally. She should stop repeating. She thinks about what he said about Isaac and Boyd and clears her throat. "Why did you come? If you knew the boys wouldn't be here."

"I needed to tell you that," he says. "And also...I...wanted to..." He struggles for a minute with what he's going to say, until finally he blurts, "I needed to know how you were doing."

She rocks back. "Why didn't you just ask Boyd or Isaac?" she wonders.

He shrugs helplessly.

"Is that what you were going to say?" she asks suspiciously.

"Yes," he says, decisively. His heart rushes.

She raises an eyebrow and simply says, "Really."

"Yeah." His heart rate increases.

"Your heartbeat is all over the place," she points out. "You sure you don't want to answer me truthfully? Because I've been very honest with you. More than I wanted to be." More honesty. Erica deserves a cookie.

Derek tenses and grits out slowly, "I like you."

She blinks. Stares at him.

He glares at his salad. (He should have ordered a burger. She told him.)

"That's...I like you, too?" she says at last.

"No, I mean," he says, slowly. "I think you're beautiful and strong, and I um...I want you, too."

She stops herself from asking why, if only not to sound the same as him. "You do?" she says instead, disbelief coloring her voice.

"Yeah," he says.

"Are you saying," she says slowly. "That Isaac and Boyd essentially tricked me into going on a date with you?"

"Kind of," he says. "But to be fair it was their idea."

She presses her palms to her face and releases a breathless little laugh. What the hell? "I don't really understand why you looked so constipated when I confessed if you felt the same."

"Stiles would say this is my default look," Derek deadpans. "But mostly because hearing that someone feels that way about you is a little scary."

"Yeah," she agrees. She removes her hands from her face and tucks her hair behind her ear. "So, um. I'd like to do this again. In a situation where we both know it's a date. And maybe we can keep talking through our issues. And...instead of telling me all at once why you like me, just...over time."

"Okay," he says earnestly.

Erica smiles. "And I'll tell you, too. So you don't forget."

He shakes his head. "I won't forget."

"Just in case," she offers.

"Okay," he says.

(It takes time and lots of visits to the apartment Erica shares with Cora, but eventually Derek tells her that he likes the way she calls him on his bullshit and the way her fingers twist string into whatever shape she wants. He likes that she spends so much time laughing and making Cora laugh. He likes that she helps Cora find a niche. He likes the smile she gives especially to Isaac and the way her hands always find Boyd's.

He likes her fingers carding through his hair and kneading the knots out of his back, the clothes she picks out for him, the way her eyes follow him when he walks into the room. Not like she wants his body, but like she wants him, any way she can have him.

Mostly, he says, he likes the way she smiles into his neck when she's too happy to share it with anyone else.)

A/N: Leave me here in my tears okay

Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize. Not even salad.