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Stiles never considered himself to be a particularly selfish person. In fact, he somewhat prides himself on the fact that despite him being a single child with a father who generally compensated his absence with a lenient allowance, Stiles didn't grown up to be a horrible, spoiled brat. He likes to think it made him more independent maybe, because he was more often making decisions and figuring things out for himself throughout his teenage years rather than waiting for his father to guide him through it.

Stiles never considered himself to be particularly selfish, nor did he consider himself to be weak willed, or a pushover.

Generally.

His current situation is not a great example.

His current situation being that he sort of has been seeing two guys for the last two months and now that it's become time to say goodbye to one of them so that he can start something more serious with the other, Stiles doesn't really want to. The problem isn't that he can't make a choice between the two. No, the choice is already made. He doesn't really need Derek anymore. He's only ever been there for the sex. The great...soul shattering sex. With the most attractive human being Stiles has ever met. Other than that – the sex – the man isn't even around that much. Doesn't do much small talk before they get down to business, and when they hook up at Stiles' place, Derek usually leaves right after. Stiles is the one loitering in Derek's apartment for hours after they've had each other, usually in the hopes they'll go again (they always go again), but also because he does want to get to know the man better (it doesn't work). The relationship Stiles has with Derek outside of sex is based off of paper thin tolerance and only because they have mutual friends.

Well, that's not entirely true anymore. When they had first met, there was somewhat of a mutual distaste because Scott had been waxing poetic over how his Amazing New Best Friend Derek was voluntarily saving kittens out of trees and old ladies out of burning buildings, had been in the Navy and had recently opened his own gym. All this, while Boring Old Best Friend Stiles was IT'ing around from nine to five, from Monday to Friday. Stiles actually likes his job, mind you, but goddamn Derek Hale and his goddamn life made it seem so inadequate, made Stiles feel inadequate. When they finally met for the first time, Derek's perfect face did not make Stiles like him any better. But the truth is that it didn't take long for Stiles to realize Derek wasn't perfect at all. In fact, he was kind of hilariously horrible in a lot of ways. So horrible even that Stiles figured that things between them could not get much worse if they slept together. The physical attraction was there, and according to his friends – okay mostly just Lydia and Danny – that was all that was needed for a good lay. So when Scott's birthday came, three months after Stiles and Derek first met, and h found himself alone with Derek, spending an easy hour on Scott's balcony while everyone was back in the apartment, Derek for some reason decided Stiles was good enough to kiss, out there where no one could see them. They ended up back at Derek's place that night.

The first night of amazing, soul shattering sex.

A week before that, Lucas Davis had asked Stiles out on a date. Lucas, who worked in the building across from the one that Stiles worked in, and who Stiles flirted with when they met at the coffee shop down the street. Lucas, who was sincere and nice and very cute. So cute that he actually gave Stiles butterflies, completely caught Stiles off guard by asking him out, and who Stiles was probably going to spend the rest of his life with.

So what if the sex isn't soul shatteringly amazing? It's still pretty good. It's not fair to compare, anyway.

The point is that Stiles has made a choice, one that wasn't all that difficult to make. It's become clear that Derek is in no way interested in an actual relationship with anyone, let alone with Stiles, so even if Stiles wanted to be with Derek – which he does not, not anymore – the chances of that succeeding are very slim.

That leaves Lucas, who Stiles genuinely likes and who has let Stiles know that he wouldn't mind being exclusive. Stiles doesn't mind either.

Well. Sort of.

See, he doesn't need Derek. But he wants him. Badly, and constantly. Is Stiles willing to give up the best sex he's probably ever going to have with the hottest guy he's probably ever going to meet, for a guy who calls Stiles at noon every day, asks about Stiles' dad, and kisses him like he's the greatest thing in the world?

Derek doesn't kiss him like that. Not since the first time, out on Scott's balcony. Now, when they kiss it's always hard, desperate. Foreplay.

Things had been kind of perfect during the last three months. Stiles got his brain melting orgasms from Derek, and his cool movie marathon dates, only interrupted by long make out sessions, from Lucas. Stiles wants both, wants Lucas' warm smile and outgoing chitchat, wants Derek's hands on him.

If Stiles tells Lucas he doesn't want to be exclusive, Lucas will surely break it off. If Stiles tells Derek that they can't sleep together anymore, then that's the end of it.

Twice, twice Stiles goes to tell Derek that this can't happen between them anymore, and both times Stiles gets distracted by how well Derek fills out all of his shirts and how perfectly sloppy his beard looks. Both times he gets lured in by big hands on his waist and prickly kisses along his neck, and he loses any resolve of ever giving up the heaven that is Derek Hale's body.

He considers just staying away, deleting Derek's number and never going anywhere where Derek might be. That's not going to work. They have too many mutual friends now, and it would mean the death of Stiles' social life if he avoided them all the time. Stiles is not going to give up his social life and Derek Hale for Lucas Davis.

Stiles just needs to break it off with Derek. Needs to. Does not want to.

Selfish, weak, a total asshole; just a few words Stiles would describe himself with in his current situation.

Stiles tries not to think too much about whether Derek knows if Stiles is also seeing Lucas. Scott and a few others have met Lucas, and Stiles never told them not to tell Derek about it, because why would he? It's not common knowledge that Stiles and Derek bang each other. Scott knows the gist of it; that they have had sex, that it has happened more than once, that it does not mean more than that. What he doesn't know is that they have been meeting up at least twice a week for the last three months. Scott would probably be pretty upset if he found out that two of his closest friends were screwing around and being generally neglectful of what this might mean for the fabric of the group of friends they belong to.

If Derek knows about Lucas – odds are that he does – he has never mentioned anything about it.

Lucas knows that they're not completely exclusive, but Lucas definitely does not know about Derek. Stiles made sure that little bit of information never slipped. In fact, in the very beginning of their relationship Stiles decided that Lucas does not even need to know about Derek Hale's existence. Most people's first reaction towards Derek is a hostile one; he's huge, attractive, and mean looking. For Lucas to know that Stiles hangs out with a huge, attractive, mean looking man is bad enough. Knowing Stiles bangs that man, would surely mean the end.

 

The third time Stiles decides to talk to Derek, he decides to do it in a semi public place. Derek's gym is only four blocks away from Stiles' apartment, so instead of going straight home after work, he stops by the gym first. It's only when he's already in the front hall and the girl behind the reception desk nods at him, that he realizes it may have been a better idea to go home for some gym clothes first. Just to make the whole situation look a bit more casual when he tells Derek that they can't see each other anymore. The thought comes in too late though, because he's already here now and he needs to go through with it before he can change his mind again.

He texts Derek to come and get him without explaining why he's there, and Derek doesn't ask, but shows up three minutes later anyway. He is wearing a white t-shirt with the gym's 'H'-logo on it,track pants, and his hair looks slightly damp, like he might have just taken a shower. Stiles has to look away to remember what he's here for again. All that remains now is how to bring it all up without causing too much damage to their relationship outside of sex, and as an extension pf that, to their group of friends.

“Are you here just to look around or is there something you need?” Derek cuts into Stiles' deliberations.

“Well, I can't say I mind the view,” Stiles tries for light, but it's completely the wrong thing to say, of course. He's not here to flirt, he's here for the exact opposite.

“What do you want, Stiles?” Derek asks evenly and Stiles asks if they can talk in private, which defeats the whole point of Stiles meeting up with Derek in a semi-private place. Stiles is a weak, selfish, horny idiot. That's the only way he can explain why he ends up on his knees about ten seconds after the door to Derek's office closes behind them.

 

Stiles allows it to drag on for another week. Another week of Lucas not asking the question he clearly wants to ask, another week of Derek stopping by after ten pm and leaving before midnight. It's one of those nights, and Derek has just gotten dressed and is ready to go. Stiles has only managed to slip on a t-shirt and his underwear and has been watching from the edge of his bed how Derek puts himself back together. How he's erasing any signs of the fact that they were just together, like a secret that he's hiding away.

“I've been seeing someone,” Stiles then blurts, and Derek who hasn't been paying much attention to Stiles at all, turns to look at him now. The man quirks up an eyebrow as if he's waiting for the clue. In other words, Derek already knew.

Stiles doesn't know where it comes from, but he's suddenly angry. Livid. Did Derek really care that little? Was it really not even worth a mention? Not worth a question? Not worth a clarification? Not even worth a single word.

“We can't do this anymore,” Stiles finally says and stares at his bedroom door, feeling the need to be horrible, to blame Derek for everything, for not caring and not wanting Stiles enough. It's terrifying, because Stiles was never supposed to make a real choice. It was always going to be Lucas, because being in a relationship with Derek was not even option. This feels like a real choice.

Now that it's out there, it feels like a choice, one he hasn't thought through, because it was not supposed to make him this angry to see Derek leave without a word. It wasn't supposed to hurt so much.

 

“So, what, you have absolutely nothing to say?”

There's a sigh on the other side of the line and then a huff and Stiles wants to reach through it and smack the man. What, Stiles is being annoying now? For wanting to talk? Fuck this guy, fuck this guy.

“I've got a lot of things to say, Stiles, but I don't know what you want to hear.”

“Since when does that matter? Since when does it matter what I want to hear, for you to say what you're thinking?”

There's a pause, short, but when Derek speaks up again he sounds different. Angry. “It has always mattered, and you know that. Every fucking thing is about you, and you're going to call me right now, after you just told me an hour ago that you're done with me, and ask me if I have nothing to say?”

“If you'd care enough to open your goddamn mouth once in a while and tell me what you're thinking then I wouldn't have to, Derek. And don't make it sound like I was using you, when the only reason you even bothered with me is because I fit into your schedule and I never ask for shit. You would never have bothered with me if it wasn't perfectly convenient for you, so do not make this sound like I screwed you over.”

There's another pause, too long this time. Long enough for Stiles to regret his words, for Stiles to remember that this is not why he called, that he does not want to fight. And then Derek says: “At least I'm not the one fucking another guy.”

Stiles hangs up and throws his phone across the room.

 

Scott drops by during Stiles' lunch break, which gives Stiles a good enough reason to decline when Lucas asks him out for lunch that afternoon. He doesn't think he can be good enough company for Lucas. Lucas, who thinks Stiles is a pleasant person who can hold a happy conversation easily. Well, not today, and at least Scott knows Stiles well enough to understand.

“So, I went to the gym this morning and Derek was not in a good mood,” is how Scott decides to start their conversation off when they're finally seated at a table with their Froyo.

“Oh no, our ball of sunshine?” Stiles snorts. “What did he tell you?”

“Nothing, obviously. When does he ever tell me anything?”

“When does he ever tell anyone anything?” Stiles huffs. “We should all just delete that guy out of our lives. Pretend he never existed. I'm up for it, I'm sure the others could be persuaded. What do you say?”

“Nah, I like my free gym membership,” Scott says with a smile. He scrapes his throat before turning serious. “You two have a fight?”

“We had sex and then I said I was seeing someone else so I couldn't see him anymore, and he left. Didn't even say a word. So I called him later and we had a fight. Probably never talking to him again, so if we're not shunning him out of the group we're going to have to divide up our time.”

“Wait, oh my god, Stiles. You had sex with Derek, last night?” Scott asks, face contorted in glee about this apparently juicy news. Oh Scotty.

“Yeah, last night. Last week. The week before that. It's happened a bunch of times, Scott, a bunch.

“What the hell, why didn't either of you tell me?”

“Because it wasn't supposed to be a big deal, Scott. But sure, I was stupid for thinking that anything concerning Derek Hale could be dealt with peacefully.”

“I still don't understand. So you've been sleeping with Derek. What about Lucas? Oh god, have you been cheating on him with Derek? Oh my god-”

“No, Jesus, no. It wasn't exclusive with Lucas, until a couple of weeks ago when he said he wanted to be. So I sort of agreed. Well, I said I'd think about it. I tried telling Derek we couldn't keep shacking up, but that turned out to be kind of difficult. Until last night.”

“So you were dating both of them at the same time?”

“No, I was dating Lucas and sleeping with Derek.”

“And you're not sleeping with Lucas?”

“I am also sleeping with Lucas.”

“Okay, I still don't understand. So do you like Lucas or not?”

“I do! I like him a lot.”

“Then why were you still sleeping with Derek in the first place?”

And that's the question isn't it? The incriminating one. The one that's going to prove that Stiles is a horrible, selfish, weak willed asshole. Sex crazed, maybe. “Because it's good,” Stiles finally admits. “Next level.”

“So, really just the sex, then? You don't have, I don't know, a bunch of feelings for him?”

Stiles is expecting the question, and yet it still makes his stomach lurch and his skin itch. “I don't know,” he admits, because he doesn't know what else to say. Answering with 'no' would get him nowhere, because there is clearly something. Answering with 'yes' is too much. He doesn't want to see Scott's eyes droop in pity, or light up with glee, because neither of those reactions are appropriate. “I thought it would be easy breaking it off with him, but it wasn't. It wasn't easy at all. I got so angry when he just walked away, and again on the phone. I don't know what I expected.”

“So how bad was the fight? On a scale of one to ten?”

Stiles pulls his cellphone out of his pocket and shows Scott the shattered screen. The thing still works, but the screen is completely busted as a result of Stiles' very uncharacteristic fit of anger after he had hung up the night before.

“Oh shit,” Scott says. “Yeah, let's go with eight, since you're both still alive and Derek didn't murder me when I talked to him this morning.”

Stiles hesitates for a second before asking: “Did he really not say anything to you?”

“No, and believe me, I asked. I only figured you might know what's going on because you guys have been pretty close lately. Way closer than I thought, even,” he adds with a smirk he tries to hide behind his tiny plastic spoon.

“Oh shut it,” Stiles huffs.

Scott doesn't bring Derek up again until the end of the hour, when he says: “So what's the plan? Are you going to try and talk to him?”

“No, absolutely not. I'm going to pretend he doesn't exist and move on with my life, because it's no use talking to him. We can split birthdays and gatherings. I don't want to see his face ever again.”

“You're just saying that because you're still angry. I suggest you talk to him again when those mushy feelings you have for him are sorted,” Scott says and he doesn't even try to hide his grin this time.

“There's nothing mushy about the feelings I'm having for him right now,” Stiles scoffs. And it's true. Stiles is angry with him, too angry for it not to mean anything, but it's anger nonetheless. All he has to think about is Derek's retreating back as he left Stiles' room and the slamming front door that followed, to feel that sharp sting again, that desperate thought of does he really care that little? No, there's nothing fond or mushy about what Stiles is feeling for Derek, not at the moment.

 

What Stiles likes about being with Lucas is that he can just be with him. There is no pressure, no underlying uncertainty, no feeling guilty or empty at best after meeting up with him. Lucas is cheerful and open, happy to drive two towns over to go to that one comic bookstore Stiles likes, happy to talk about his overbearing family and end all his rantings with but that's family, I guess, they always mean well.

Derek once told Stiles about his uncle coming to town and he ended that rant with I hope he gets hit by a bus on his way to the airport. I fucking hate that guy.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“Huh?” Stiles snaps his head up and realizes he's zoned out in the middle of a conversation.

“You seem distracted,” Lucas says, nodding at Stiles' untouched plate. “We didn't drive two towns over so you could stare at your favorite burger, did we?”

“Yeah, no, you're right,” Stiles says quickly and pops a few fries in his mouth. “Like you said, distracted.”

“Are you going to tell me what's on your mind or am I going to have to assume you're not having a good time here?”

“What are you talking about, I'm having a great time,” Stiles says and forces a smile to go with it. Well, he's not having a bad time, so that's something. “It really has nothing to do with you,” and that is a blatant lie. It has everything to do with Lucas. Stiles hasn't even answered him yet, about whether they're exclusive now or not. It should be easy now, shouldn't it? Stiles doesn't have anyone other than Lucas. Lucas is the default. He hasn't spoken to Derek in almost a week now and it seems like that's just how it's going to be from now on. Lucas. It should be easy, to settle and let this play out.

So why is Stiles feeling so anxious, sitting here out in the open with him? They're not even in Beacon Hills anymore and the thought of Derek coincidentally being in Beacon Valley and seeing Stiles on a date with Lucas makes him uneasy. More than it ever did when he was still seeing Derek.

The saddest thing may just be that Stiles knows very well that Derek won't be anywhere around, that Derek is at the gym because that's what Derek does; he works and works and works. Next to running a business, he's on call at the fire station three nights a week, which leaves about zero hours for a social life. He usually manages to show his face for at least ten minutes when he's invited to something and then disappears again. And he makes time for sex, obviously.

“A friend of mine is being an asshole, that's all. You know how friends are, right? Always trying to make your life a living hell,” Stiles finally says, trying for light and only half getting there. Lucas smiles though, blue eyes lighting up, so Stiles counts it as a win.

Stiles knows that Lucas is waiting for Stiles to say it, that he's ready to be exclusive. He's been waiting for three weeks now, and Stiles for one can not believe this man's patience. Stiles would have demanded answers a long time ago if the roles were reversed.

So he's surprised when the day goes by and the evening comes and it hasn't come up at all. Even when Lucas leaves Stiles' apartment the next morning, it's not mentioned once, and that leaves Stiles with another sort of anxiety. Either Lucas doesn't care enough to pressure Stiles, or he cares so much that he's afraid that if he pressures him, Stiles will walk away. Before the fight with Derek, Stiles would have found both ideas ridiculous. Now, he can see that both options could easily be true.

Stiles had done it too. If he really liked Lucas as much as he's been telling himself he does, he would have asked for commitment a long time ago, wouldn't he? It's been three months. That's a long time to be playing the field.

And maybe Stiles had been afraid to ask Derek for more. Maybe he was afraid that if he opened his mouth, that if he came off as too clingy, that Derek would walk away and Stiles would lose all of him. Like he's lost him now.

 

A few days later, Stiles is just about to climb into his car and go home after a long workday, when his phone goes off and Derek's name flashes across the screen. He almost doesn't answer due to sheer shock. When he does finally pick up, it's Scott's voice coming through from the other side. He doesn't even realize how much his heart had been racing until disappointment takes over and makes him feel cold and frustrated with his own reaction.

“Hey man, how are you?” Scott asks, and it immediately becomes clear that he's doing his best to sound casual.

“Scott,” Stiles says, brain searching for any reason why Scott would be calling him from Derek's phone at ten past five on a Tuesday afternoon. For a moment his mind wanders to the darkest possible options; Derek is a volunteer fireman, something could have happened, he could have-

“Yeah, it's me. Listen, me and you and Derek, tonight, okay? Drinks are on me. Pick me up around ten?”

“What are you- Scott, no. I'm not- oh, god, why are you doing this? Did he say something?”

“No, but he's has that look on his face like he can't figure whether he wants to off himself or someone else, maybe both. Let's just do this, okay? I'm tired of you guys fighting and Derek already agreed to meet us at the Lounge, and you know he doesn't really like that place.”

Stiles can't find a good enough reason to say no, so he just sighs loudly and calls Scott a jackass.

 

Derek comes in ten minutes after Scott and Stiles arrive at the Lounge, which is the only bar in town that any of their friends can compromise on for a group night out. Derek doesn't really like the place, but then again, Derek doesn't really like any place where there are more than three people gathered at the same time.

He looks good. Great even. His beard looks fuller than the last time Stiles saw him, and it's obnoxiously attractive and painfully unfair. His eyes are a pale contrast to the dark fuzz on his face. For a moment Stiles wonders why Derek, who is so effortlessly gorgeous, would ever bother with Stiles, who is plain looking at best. The thought is quickly followed by Derek's voice in his head, out of breath and close to Stiles' ear telling him that he's amazing, fuck, Stiles, you're beautiful.

He can feel his cheeks heat up at the memory, so he takes a swig of his beer as Derek pulls out a chair from under the table and takes a seat across from Stiles, next to Scott. He keeps his jacket on.

“Do you guys want to talk in private?” Scott asks.

“Sure,” Stiles says, at the same time that Derek says: “No.”

Scott looks at Stiles then, face showing the realization of how stupid this idea probably was. “Well, I'm going to hang out at the bar for a little while. Text me when you two are best friends again.” He stands up and furtively clasps Derek on the shoulder. Derek's jaw tightens in annoyance, but he doesn't grab Scott by the throat and choke him out, so that's good.

“I didn't put him up to this,” Derek then says after a moment of silence. “I can leave if you want.”

“No, that's not what I want.”

“Then what is?”

“Wow, we're just jumping right into this, aren't we?” Stiles chuckles nervously, mostly because he has no idea how to answer that question. What does he want? An apology? For what, exactly? Sure, Derek had been an asshole when he left without saying a word, but did Stiles really deserve an apology for that? Wasn't he the one who broke things off, wasn't he the one fucking another guy-

“I want to know why you were so angry, if you already knew,” Stiles finally says.

Stiles doesn't know a lot of personal things about Derek. What he does know, he learned from Scott or through his own nosiness, never because Derek confides in him. Derek does not talk and that's what makes it so damn hard figuring out what the hell he's thinking. So when Derek actually opens his mouth and says: “Because I didn't think you'd choose him,” Stiles is practically speechless. Not really.

“Then who was I supposed to choose, Derek? You? Maybe I would have, if I felt that you were even an option. Not once did I think that you really wanted to be with me.”

“Of course I wanted to be with you. I was with you, wasn't I? I get that it wasn't enough, but it's still all I could give.”

“I don't believe this. If you wanted to be with me, like with a relationship and everything then you would have said something. You would have spent the night, Derek. You would have asked me out, you would have-”

“No, I wouldn't have, Stiles. I wanted to, and I would give you everything if I could, but right now I can't give anyone anything. The gym has barely been open for a year now and the only reason it's doing okay is because I am there, working, sixteen hours a day. I'm not going to stay at your place, only to wake you up at five in the morning when my day starts. You don't need that.”

Stiles knows that's only half the story, that Derek has left out the part where he is on call three nights a week at the fire station. The thing that Scott has talked to Derek about, about how it's too much to do both, and which Derek pointedly ignored, still ignores. There's no such thing as too much when it comes to Derek and work, it seems. The fact that he's so incredibly hardworking might be one of the reasons why Stiles is so attracted to him. 

Stiles has always known that Derek was a busy man, but he hadn't really thought it through, had always figured that if Derek wanted to be with Stiles,that he'd make time. As if he could just pull a few extra hours a day out of thin air for Stiles' benefit.

Stiles has a question clawing at him throat to get out, a question to which Stiles doesn't even know what answer he wants to hear anymore. But he's here now, and who knows when Derek will open up to him again – probably never – so he asks it.

“Do you really have feelings for me?”

Derek doesn't answer immediately. He looks at Stiles, mouth a thin line, eyes looking somewhat sad. Stiles can't look away, even when Derek does.

“Yeah, I did.”

“Not anymore?”

“Still, but it's different,” Derek shrugs. “I'm not going to hang on forever, Stiles. You made your choice and I let it go.”

“You should have told me,” Stiles then snaps, suddenly angry. “You should have said something, anything, Derek, to let me know I wasn't just a damn booty call, because that's what it felt like to me. That's all we ever did, so how was I supposed to choose you when I didn't know-”

“You know now,” Derek cuts in, sounding annoyed. “And it doesn't seem to matter all that much. You're not changing your mind, you're not-”

“You're not letting me thinks,” Stiles says, and he's not calm. No, he's not okay with this at all. All he can think about is how much time he's wasted. His own, Derek's... Lucas'. If Stiles had known that Derek was in it for Stiles, because he liked him, the choice would have been just as easy as it was when Stiles didn't think he stood a chance. He'd have chosen Derek, immediately, after the very first time they hooked up. He might not ever have gone on a second date with Lucas.

But he did go on that second date, and a ton of dates followed. He slept with him, told him he liked him, spent afternoons with him fully aware that Lucas liked Stiles than Stiles was ever going to like him.

“Sure, you think about it,” Derek says and pushes his chair back, like he's about to leave. “You can tell Scott we're fine, no hard feelings, whatever he wants to hear.” When he actually gets up to go, Stiles panics and shoots out of his chair.

“No, wait,” Stiles says. “We are not done.”

“Are you kidding me? I've already said way more than I was planning to. I'm going to go, hopefully I'll get hit by a bus and I won't have to live for the humiliating consequences this conversation is going to have.”

“Why didn't you say something before?” Stiles plows on. “Why?”

“Because I thought you'd figure it out eventually. Like I said, I thought you'd choose me.” Derek does leave this time, and Stiles wants nothing more than to follow him onto the street, and scream at him for being so goddamn aggravating, so damn damaged that he can't stand to hold an honest conversation for more than fifteen minutes.

Stiles doesn't follow him.

Instead, he joins Scott at the bar, doesn't even try pretend that things are okay now, and wonders how on earth Derek managed to make Stiles feel heartbroken when Stiles tried so hard to prevent that from happening from the very beginning.

 

Telling Lucas that he can't go on with him after that is easy. There is absolutely no way

Stiles could be with that man at all, let alone exclusively, feeling the things he's feeling for Derek now. Those things are confusing, mostly, but at the same time it makes his heart beat faster and his stomach flutter to think about it still being a possibility for him to be with Derek.

Lucas was never really going to stand a chance, if Derek had ever been a solid option.

He is now.

Or at least Stiles now knows that Derek has feelings for him, which means things could develop. He wants it, wants Derek to talk to him more, to know that Stiles wants him in more ways than one, but for Derek to believe him, Lucas needs to go first.

It's easy, easier than it ever was to tell Derek that they couldn't see each other any more.

“I can't be with you,” Stiles tells Lucas on a lunch date at the café down the street of their respective offices. Stiles had woken up with only a slight hangover from the night before. “There is someone else. I can't afford to lose him.”

What Stiles likes about Lucas is that he is open, and open minded. He's easy to get along with, doesn't complain about things and doesn't fuss. So Stiles is kind of dumbstruck when Lucas responds with: “If you can't afford to lose him, then what was stopping you from being with him before? Certainly not me, you've made that clear.”

“It's complicated,” Stiles says, and he can't help but notice the subtle judgmental tone in Lucas' voice. “And a long story. I am really sorry about this. I had a great time with you, if that makes any difference.” He only barely stops himself from saying something horribly stupid like it's not you, it's me or I hope we can still be friends, despite the fact that they would both be true statements.

“You're not a shy person, Stiles. I find it hard to believe there is someone out there who you love so much, but haven't tied down.”

“You'd believe it if you knew who we're talking about. He's...intimidating, I guess. Not easy to get a read on. He's not like us, you know, he doesn't talk about things easily. Also, he has got a lot going on. He's busy all the time and it makes it even harder to get a good grasp of what's going through-”

“That sounds like a nightmare, Stiles.”

“Maybe, but it's not actually that bad once you figure out what's going on, and I think I'm figuring it out. Sorry it took so long, I've wasted everyone's time. You deserve way better, that much is obvious.”

Lucas actually smiles at that, before he stands up. “I hope it works out for you, I guess,” he says. “Don't waste too much time on someone who's as obstinate as your guy sounds.”

“He's not my guy,”Stiles objects weakly, but Lucas only shrugs and takes his coffee with him out of the door.

For a moment Stiles imagines how much easier things would have been if he had really fallen for someone like Lucas, someone who could talk about his feelings, about what he wants, where he's come from and where he wants to go.

Instead, he gets Derek.

 

 

Stiles decides not to waste any more time, and stops by the gym that evening on his way home. This time, Derek is already standing at the front desk. He rolls his eyes when he sees Stiles walking towards him and Stiles represses the urge to flip him off right then and there.

“I just want to talk to you,” Stiles says, when the desk is the only thing between them. There's a girl Stiles has never seen before standing only a few feet away from Derek, helping a member of the gym with one thing or another. “Privately,” he adds.

“I've said more than I should have, so I'm going to pass,” Derek snorts. “What else do you want me to say?”

“Nothing. I just want you to listen.”

“To what? Some written out rejection? It's fine the way it is. Let it go.”

“It is absolutely not fine the way it is,” Stiles hisses and does his best not to raise his voice. God, this man is aggravating. “Please, can we just go talk somewhere?”

Derek looks up at the ceiling for a moment, before tapping the girl next to him on the arm and letting her know he'll be in his office. She smiles brightly at him, eyes lingering and – of course. Why not.

“Let's just go,” Stiles snaps and only barely keeps himself from yanking Derek out from behind the counter himself.

The last time they were in this office, Stiles blew Derek right up against the door. His knees were kind of sore after that. It was great.

This is not going to be like that. Probably.

No, he has to focus. Derek is looking very good with all that facial hair, and looking like he's about to burst out of that damn shirt, but Stiles needs to be strong.

“I'm sorry,” Derek says suddenly, jerking Stiles out of his thoughts. “I thought you were going to talk and I was going to listen. You're just going to stare at me?”

“Huh? Yeah, no, definitely. What I was saying was that last night was a disaster, and we can easily blame Scott for that, because he dragged me out unprepared. And you are also to blame a little bit because you sprung the whole I-have-feelings-for-you-thing on me, out of nowhere. But I have had some time to think since then.”

“Since last night?” Derek asks with on perfect skeptical eyebrow raised.

“I did not sleep much, if that's what you're wondering,” Stiles nods. “But, you should know that...okay, here is the thing. I kept asking you why, right? Why didn't you tell me, why are you so horrible at this? But I see now that I could ask myself the same questions. Why didn't I tell you? What am I so damn scared of?”

“Are you going to start making sense anytime soon, or is this-”

“I love you,” Stiles blurts and yeah. That was not what he was supposed to say. “I mean, I could. One day. Possibly. What I mean is that I like you. I have feelings. For you. Have had them for a while, and because I thought you didn't really think of me in that light, I never said anything so that we could keep on banging, because that I do definitely love. The banging. Not you. Also, you, sort of, but in a far less intense way, you know? A completely appropriate amount of lo-fond feelings, is what I have for you. Okay, this is a mess. Let me start over.”

Derek is looking at Stiles like he is the sole purpose of all of his misery, which might be true at this point, but it still hurts. So Stiles takes a deep breath, gathers his thoughts and says: “If you still want to be with me, that would be great, because I really want to be with you too.”

“No, you don't.”

“I do.”

“I don't believe you.”

“What.”

“I don't believe you,” Derek repeats and pushes himself of the edge of the desk. “You told me to go fuck off, because you wanted that guy. That was a week ago. Now you're throwing words around like love? Do you even know what that means, Stiles?”

“Do I know what it means? Between the two of us, I may have been seeing someone else, but you're the one who was screwing me and disappearing into the night like you were too ashamed to share a bed with me for more than an hour.”

“I told you that wasn't the reason.”

“That doesn't change how I felt every time you walked out the door, Derek. That doesn't change the fact that I was miserable for a long time because of you, because you couldn't open your mouth to tell me what was really going on. So, sorry. Sorry for being with someone else when I thought I meant nothing to you.”

“Then why are you here now? If you were so miserable, what exactly are you doing here?”

“Oh come on,” Stiles says, suddenly drained. “Meet me halfway here, at least. I want us to give it a shot, Derek. I want to know what it's like, being with you and knowing you care.”

“It's going to be the same.”

“No, it's not. Because now I know how you feel and I'm not -” he almost says not afraid anymore, but stops himself just in time. Derek quirks an eyebrow at the sudden halt, and Stiles says: “I'm not going to let it be the same. It wasn't all your fault, I know that.”

“What happened to the other guy?” Derek then asks flatly, taking Stiles somewhat by surprise.

“Is that all you're worried about?”

“Is the other guy you've been banging for the last couple of months, and who you've chosen over me just the other week, something I am worried about? Yes, Stiles. Right now, that is literallt all I'm worried about.”

“Okay, fine, when you put it like that I see where you're coming from,” Stiles says with a huff. “I told him this morning. That I have feelings for someone else. It's over.”

“And I'm just supposed to believe that then? According to Scott you were happy with him, and now it's just over?”

“What can I say, he was a great guy, but not the one I want. Are you done trying to get out of this? Because this relationship, you and I, it's happening.”

“You're going to regret this,” Derek says, and Stiles knows he's won.