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''So,'' starts Stiles, looking somewhere ahead, ''Jackson was an asshole today.''

''Yeah,'' Scott agrees, leaning back on a rock. He closes his eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun. ''He didn't have to push you so hard just because you talked to Lydia.''

Stiles nods, still staring at the thick forest before them. He drinks more beer. ''Especially since I've never been in love with her.''

''Exactly.''

Stiles shakes his head, then bites his lip. ''He is handsome, though.''

Scott frowns at him. ''Who?''

''Jackson,'' replies Stiles and finishes his beer in one go.

Scott shrugs. ''Yeah, I guess,'' he says and settles on the rock again.

Stiles looks at the empty bottle. ''I'm bisexual,'' he blurts out.

Scott hums in response and Stiles waits for him to understand, his heart thudding in his chest, waits for the second apocalypse after Scott's already been through one with him.

''Thought so,'' says Scott and yawns.

It's not the end, though. It's only the first step. Stiles wills himself to let out his breath, then slowly inhales, clutching the glass in his hands. It's fine. The other news doesn't have the same capacity to affect Scott. It's just there's this – this something – not a relationship – just a thing – a fling, if you may, but without sex, of course, it's not serious if there's no sex-

''Anyway, thing, with Derek Hale,'' finishes Stiles. It's the only clear sentence in the whole speech.

Scott gapes. ''So,'' he starts reluctantly, ''you're going out?''

''What?'' Stiles snaps his head to him and frowns. ''No,'' he says, inflicting the word with as much displeasure and antipathy as Hale's everything raises in him. ''I hate him.''

Scott stares at him, wide-eyed, then looks at the forest like it holds the answers to the biggest questions in life. He swallows some beer and slowly, starts nodding.

Stiles raises his own bottle and drinks some, unhurried. When he's finished, Scott is still nodding, his too wide eyes on the forest.

He is definitely affected.

''Jesus, Scott, it's not that weird,'' says Stiles, impatient.

''It's fucked up.''

Stiles grimaces and turns away.

''Shit, I'm sorry, Stiles. It's just – unexpected,'' tries Scott.

Stiles nods. ''Also, nice,'' he says.

Scott frowns. ''You just told me you hate him.''

''I don't have to like him to like his dick,'' shrugs Stiles.

He still tenses, preparing for Scott's reaction. He bets on sadness but hopes for disgust, easier to handle.

Instead, he gets another nod. ''I don't like Derek,'' says Scott. ''As long as you don't like him either, it can't be too bad.''

''I hate him,'' repeats Stiles. ''It's pretty good.''

Scott turns to him, his expression oddly serious. ''Promise you won't fall for Derek. He's an asshole and will make you sad.''

Stiles rolls his eyes. ''That won't be a problem with me, Scott,'' he replies. ''Besides, it's Derek Hale. Remember all the bruises I have because of him?''

Scott keeps his gaze until Stiles relents with a sigh. ''Promise.''

***

''Dude,'' starts Stiles, incredulous, ''you told your sister about this?!''

Derek scowls at him. ''I had to tell someone.''

''No, asshole,'' says Stiles. ''You didn't.''

''Fuck off,'' mutters Derek. ''As if you didn't tell Scott.''

''It's Scott!'' protests Stiles, offended. ''I had to!'' Seeing Derek's expression, he makes a face. ''Fine. Fine.''

''What do you even care that someone knows about this?'' asks Derek, not looking at him.

Stiles grimaces. ''I'm not dealing with, one, gay outbreak, two, 'but you hate each other', and three, all the 'I told you's, gay people are only gay for sex'.''

''This is just for sex, though,'' points out Derek.

''We're not having sex,'' says Stiles at once. Please, he's not having his first time with Hale.

Derek raises his eyebrows. ''You're making the rules now? What's next, no kissing?''

''Oh, I'm all for kissing,'' replies Stiles. He doesn't want to continue the discussion and lets his eyes drop to Derek's mouth, then further down, as he bites his lower lip.

As always, it makes Derek focus on his lips.

''Yeah?'' he says.

Stiles hums, releasing his lip, and steps closer. He's never felt so wanted, so desirable as when he's with Derek.

Because Derek puts his hand on Stiles' neck and grips it, saying, ''On your knees.'' Because when Stiles follows the order, Derek murmures, ''Good.'' Because when Derek tells him to suck him off and Stiles obliges, he can hear all the expletives – slut, whore, bitch – he can feel used and marvel in it because no one makes him feel like Derek does, and he knows that no one makes Derek feel the way Stiles can.

***

''I disapprove,'' states Scott.

Stiles leans back and makes the steeple gesture with his hands. ''Reasons, please.''

''First, Derek's an asshole,'' says Scott.

Stiles presses his lips together but nods. ''He is,'' he agrees, realizing that Scott's waiting for his response.

Scott nods, confidence rising. It's awful that he thinks it actually means anything. Come on, Stiles is an asshole too. See how much he cares about that.

''Second, I can't accept the way he treats you.''

Stiles stops himself from reacting in any obvious way. So what, he's into kinky shit. Hale is too and look at him pretending to be such a good student, answering the teachers' questions, passing the tests, leading the lacrosse team. What a joke.

Scott regards him and adds, ''I mean, Jesus, Stiles, you still have all the bruises he gave you on lacrosse.''

Stiles grimaces. ''He's an asshole,'' he mutters.

Good to know that's what Scott meant by treating Stiles this way, though. Even better that Scott doesn't know about the bruises Stiles has from Derek outside of lacrosse.

Stiles touches the one on the side of his neck where Derek pressed his fingers, keeping him in place as he was fucking his mouth.

''And third,'' finishes Scott, ''I can deal with it as long as it's just for sex.''

''There's no sex,'' replies Stiles automatically.

Scott doesn't need to know that Stiles can keep fuckbuddies status but Derek's starting to get sloppy. Because he asked, why'd you come to school today?

***

''Why'd you come to school today?'' asks Hale.

Stiles doesn't bother glancing up to see his stupid face with striking, beautiful eyes. ''Fuck off,'' he mutters.

''It's not like you'll learn anything.''

Stiles keeps looking at the floor. It still weirds him out that Derek pays attention to the bits of information connected to him – such as the date of his mum's death. ''I wanted to distract myself,'' he says with a shrug.

Derek crouches before him, searching Stiles' face with a serious expression. ''You want a distraction?''

***

Derek is an asshole for not agreeing to let Stiles' win. But whatever, Stiles wins anyway, as in: kills more aliens than Derek does at the arcade.

Derek bitches about buying him ice cream even though he obviously doesn't have to. Derek walks him back home and they don't do any of the shit they should.

If Hale pretends to be this Derek, he's doing it really well – starting from the way he suggested playing truant after barely two classes and actually went with it. Hale, the fucking role model student Stiles is supposed to admire and follow, according to Finstock.

***

The next day, Derek links their hands as they are walking down the corridor.

Stiles slowly turns his head to look at him. ''Dude.''

Derek ignores him, his mouth tightening.

Stiles raises his hand, the one held by Derek's, and lets it hang in the air. ''Dude,'' he repeats.

There's enough pressure in his voice that Derek has to meet his gaze. ''What.''

''Why would you do hand-holding with me?''

Derek looks away and shrugs. ''It's nice.''

Stiles stares at him, then lets their hands drop. He feels like there's something more to the response but can't figure it out. Fuckbuddies are about doing feel-good stuff without anything mind-messing.

So if Derek wants hand-holding and although bizarre, it's okay with Stiles, they can go with it. Right.

''Right,'' he says.

Derek seems to relax and tightens his hold, then caresses the skin on Stiles' wrist with his thumb.

''Okay, that's freaky,'' snaps Stiles, taking his hand back.

***

''Stiles, what is he doing here?'' asks Scott, pointing at Derek, who's sitting down with them at lunch.

Stiles shrugs, too focused on his curly fries to care. ''Ask him.''

Scott looks at Derek. ''What are you doing here?''

''Ask Stiles.''

Scott frowns between them, then drops his hands flat on the table. ''I will not favor this relationship,'' he states. ''I object.''

Stiles finishes his fries and sighs sadly at the empty plate.

''Maybe I actually like Stiles,'' says Derek.

''No, you don't,'' reply Scott and Stiles simultaneously.

''Maybe I do,'' repeats Derek, his jaw tense.

Stiles drops his head on his hand to keep it from falling on the table.

Scott narrows his eyes and leans back. ''I don't believe you.''

''What should I do to make you believe me?''

''Seriously?'' asks Stiles but no one pays attention to him. It really doesn't make much sense for Derek to want to work on this.

Scott tilts his head to the side, considering. ''You'd have to make Stiles happy.''

''That's too vague.''

''One month of no kisses and whatever else you do, only dates with me as your chaperone.''

Stiles snaps his head to him. ''Scott!''

''Okay,'' says Derek.

''No,'' opposes Stiles, incredulous. ''It's not okay and I don't agree!''

Finally, Derek looks at him, all serious. ''This is more important, Stiles.''

''No, it's not!''

''Can my sister be a chaperone as well? If you can't come?''

Scott shrugs. ''Yeah.''

''Oh,'' Stiles relaxes, ''she's more, uh, laid-back?''

''No,'' replies Derek. ''But she's invested in this relationship as well.''

Stiles draws in his eyebrows. ''I'm pretty sure that's not the word you need.''

''Believe me, she is invested.''

''I meant 'relationship'.''

Derek tenses and Scott winces. ''Harsh, Stiles.''

Stiles locks eyes with Derek. ''We have a thing,'' he explains.

Derek grimaces and looks at him. ''Would you be okay if I had sex with Jackson?''

''With Jackson?'' groans Stiles, half horrified, half disbelieving.

''Then, I don't know, with Scott?''

Scott pales. ''I regret getting mixed up in this.''

Stiles gasps. ''Was all that a ploy to get closer to Scott?''

Derek raises his eyes to the ceiling. ''Isaac,'' he says finally.

''Uh, okay, but is Isaac even your type?'' asks Stiles, frowning. ''He seems kinda,'' he pauses, ''soft.''

Scott slowly turns to him, his eyes widening at the implication. ''Stiles-''

''I don't have to have sex with anyone,'' replies Derek, scowling. ''We can be exclusive. Like, you know,'' he pauses, looking away briefly, ''boyfriends.''

Stiles leans back, considering. ''Or we can have just this,'' he says. ''Self-defined thing which is exclusive fuckbuddiness.''

Derek drops his gaze and nods.

''Dude, I actually feel bad for Derek,'' says Scott.

Stiles considers him for a moment, then says, ''I guess we're more like friends with benefits now.''

Scott keeps looking at him.

''What?'' Stiles straightens in his seat. ''Derek has a friend with benefits. You don't.''

''Yeah,'' says Scott slowly, incredulous. ''Because I have Allison, my girlfriend.''

Stiles shrugs. For him, friends with benefits is a better deal as you can define your benefits clearly and avoid all the messy stuff.

***

The meeting – not a date – Stiles had argued for a more inclusive word, Derek had shrugged and agreed – is actually nice except for Scott, just sitting there.

''Dude,'' sighs Stiles, ''go away.''

''Can't,'' mutters Scott, focused on studying the menu. He probably hasn't heard anything from Stiles and Derek's conversation, but it's bizarre, having him there sitting in silence. ''I'm guarding your purity.''

''My purity was gone with the first bruise Derek made.''

Scott freezes and slowly looks up. ''I know I don't want to know,'' he starts, ''but I kinda want to know.''

''You don't,'' Stiles and Derek inform him.

It really did start with the first bruise Derek had made on Stiles' skin.

***

''You're such an asshat, you know that?'' declares Stiles, walking up to Hale before practice. It's early enough that it's only them in the lockers room. ''You remember hitting me yesterday?'' Stiles reveals his arm under his shirt, watching the way Derek's gaze sharpens. ''Yeah, it's a freaking huge bruise in all the colors of the rainbow. It hurts every time I move my arm,'' complains Stiles and raises his eyebrows. ''Hey, you listening to me?''

Derek looks like he forgot everything else when he saw the bruise. ''It hurts?''

Stiles frowns at him. ''Yeah,'' he drawls, ''I just said that.''

The way Derek keep staring at the discolored skin makes Stiles feel odd. There's a pause and Stiles adds, more to fill in the silence than for any other reason, ''Like, when I press it.''

Derek glances up at him, then comes back to the bruise. ''You press it?''

''I-'' starts Stiles but stops himself. He doesn't know what's going on anymore. He only wanted to tell Derek he's an asshole. He wanted to argue with him as usual, see his angry flush, the way he leans in every time to tell Stiles off. ''By mistake.''

Derek leans in but now, there's no anger, only this weird curiosity. ''Can I touch it?'' he asks suddenly.

Stiles doesn't trust his voice anymore. He nods and licks his lips, mouth feeling dry.

Derek follows the movement before raising his hand and somehow, it's enough to make Stiles feel weak.

There's a soft touch of Derek's fingers on his arm and Stiles shuts his eyes before realizing how weird that is. Still, when Derek presses the bruise a small, hurt sound escapes him. His face feels like it's on fire.

Derek scratches the bruise with his nail and Stiles suppresses a violent shudder. He feels overwhelmingly unsteady but strung tight, hot and cold, embarrassed yet soothed.

Derek lets out a shaky breath. ''I really want to kiss you,'' he says.

''Yes, fuck-''

They kiss.

The next days, Stiles gets hard whenever he presses the bruise.

***

Meetings with Laura are different as she doesn't keep quiet like Scott; she keeps talking.

''I mean, this is pretty sweet, chaperoning in the 21st century, or at least as sweet as it is stupid,'' starts Laura and looks at Derek, ''but I've never wanted to see you on a date.'' She turns to Stiles and adds, propping her chin on her hand, ''You, on the other hand...''

Stiles raises eyebrows at her.

She raises eyebrows right back.

Stiles looks at Derek, panicked.

''You keep trying to hit on Stiles,'' says Derek, scowling.

Laura huffs out, leaning back. ''One time I give him a compliment-''

''This is the tenth time,'' Derek interrupts her. ''Third date- I mean, third meeting, tenth time.''

''Well, maybe I'm trying to show you how flirting is actually done.''

Derek watches her, then looks at Stiles. ''I wanted to see you on a date as well.''

Laura facepalms. ''This so won't work.''

''I've never wanted to see you on a date,'' replies Stiles plainly. He feels more than sees Derek and Laura stiffening and suppresses a sigh. ''But these meetings with you are nice,'' he adds, focusing on Derek. ''I guess.''

''Third time and you guess,'' says Laura, staring at him. ''First of all, what the fuck? Secondly, why are you eye-fucking? Thirdly and lastly, why did it work?'' She stands up, elbowing Derek on her way. ''You have five minutes as I'm going to bathroom. Use it well.''

Since they can flirt all they want when Scott's nearby in an attempt to horrify him enough to abandon his mission (still haven't managed that), and they can talk for hours and bore Laura into abandoning her post (at least for those five minutes), they use the granted time in the best possible way – by simply hanging out.

***

Derek looks at him meaningfully in the lockers room and the team, experienced by now, immediately hurries out, leaving them alone.

''I'm telling McCall!'' shouts Jackson.

''He's coming in at his own risk!'' answers Stiles.

Jackson curses. ''You're both disgusting. I'll tell Lydia!''

Stiles stops himself from rolling his eyes. ''She can watch, I don't mind!''

''I do mind,'' states Derek, looking at him. ''That's what I wanted to talk to you about, actually. We need to negotiate,'' he says. ''I want to do this seriously.''

''It's not serious if there's no sex,'' replies Stiles. Seeing Derek's expression, he starts to lose confidence. ''Right?''

Derek lets out his breath and shakes his head, not meeting Stiles' gaze. ''I really like what we have,'' he says quietly.

''Right,'' repeats Stiles. He should've known the rule was too simple to be true. ''I really like it too,'' he admits, waiting until Derek looks up. ''Okay. You first.''

Derek shoots him a glare. He probably thought Stiles would be the first one to blurt something out, the idiot.

''I like domming you. Giving you orders and seeing you fulfill them,'' says Derek, his eyes dropping to Stiles' neck. ''I like you having bruises and marks from me.''

Stiles licks his lips, feeling his cock stir. ''I like submitting, you name-calling and shaming me, at least to the point we've done it.'' He takes a step closer. ''I really liked face-fucking. I think I'd like immobilizing, maybe sense deprivation, spanking-''

Finstock comes in, an odd expression on his face.

Stiles regrets everything.

''No one wanted to come in to get you two,'' explains Finstock and looks at Derek, then at Stiles. ''I don't want to know.''

Stiles steps away from Derek. ''We were just-''

''Whatever you say now may be used against you,'' Finstock interrupts him.

Stiles snaps his mouth shut.

''It's not how it looks like,'' says Derek tentatively.

Finstock turns to him. ''And what does it look like?''

Derek doesn't have an answer and after a while, Finstock sighs deeply.

Stiles and Derek drop their heads, waiting for their sentence.

''I really don't want to know,'' Finstock repeats and pauses dramatically, ''but be safe.'' He eyes them for a bit longer, focuses on Stiles. ''That's not what I meant when I said you should admire, follow, be guided by Derek.''

''Oh my god,'' Stiles lets out, his cheeks feeling hot.

''Now, practice,'' states Finstock. ''You're running ten laps-'' he starts and suddenly pauses, looking at them. ''Just please always remember to be prepared-''

Stiles hides his face in his hands. ''Noo,'' he groans despairingly.

''Ten laps,'' repeats Finstock, ''two for each minute I had to be here.''

***

''I'm disappointed with you, Derek,'' states Scott. ''You, Stiles-'' he pauses and huffs, shaking his head. ''I don't even care. You say you don't like Derek but you kinda do, you say it's not serious but it kinda is, you say it's not a relationship but yeah! It is!''

''It's not a relationship,'' says Stiles. ''It's a thing.''

Scott groans. ''I can't with you. But, Derek,'' Scott turns to the boy, ''I thought you were serious about it. I thought you'd make it through the month, not give in after three weeks.''

''I didn't give in,'' replies Derek, grimacing.

Sadly true. And Stiles tried.

''I'll never forget the face Finstock made after he walked in on you.''

''He didn't walk in on us,'' Derek grits out, shooting a glare at Scott.

Scott eyes him in return, impassive. ''The whole team saw the way you were looking at each other and we know what that means by now, okay?''

''We were just talking,'' Stiles interferes. ''About our kind of... stuff.''

There is a beat of silence before Scott says a heavy, ''Oh.'' He takes a step back and takes in Stiles and Derek. ''Oh.''

''Yes, oh, what the hell-''

''It's still a thing,'' Derek interrupts him. It's only after a beat that Stiles realizes the words are directed at him. ''We've been on ten dates, we're exclusive, we've done all this stuff and for you, it's still a thing.''

Stiles doesn't like where this is going.

''I, um,'' starts Scott, his voice suddenly gentle, ''I'll just go now.''

''Now,'' mutters Stiles. ''Ten meetings and you're leaving now.''

Scott gives him an odd look and walks away.

Stiles turns to Derek and sees him regarding Stiles in this way, the way Stiles would look at himself if he were normal.

''Laura said it was kind of strange for you to keep running away from those small... like hand-holding, when I thought-''

''Jesus, Laura knows about this too?''

''Yes, she fucking knows about this too,'' snaps Derek. ''I thought – we've spent so much time together, you'd have to know, right? What do I want? And you kept coming and talking, so you wanted this too, right?'' Derek searches his face, his own eyes wide but mouth twisted. ''Tell me to wait some more.''

Stiles looks away.

Apparently, that's the tipping point for Derek. ''And you didn't even fucking tell me?''

But anger is good. It makes Derek focus on Stiles. He is still here.

Stiles shrugs.

''Did you just shrug?'' demands Derek, bewildered, his voice low. Stiles has never heard him, seen him that pissed off.

He wrings his hands. ''I'm not in love with you.''

Derek doesn't respond. He keeps staring at Stiles, visibly keeping himself from saying anything.

''I'm not in love with anyone else, or, like, with anyone, ever.''

Derek looks to the side for a while, calming himself down. ''Are you saying you're,'' he starts and pauses, never looking at Stiles, ''a late bloomer, or,'' he twists his mouth, ''you haven't met the right person- just what are you talking about?''

''Sometimes you never meet the right person'' replies Stiles. ''Like. When you're aromantic.''

Derek frowns at him. ''I don't understand.''

Stiles feels his strength leave him. ''You're the closest person to me now, Derek,'' he says. ''I can't imagine being closer, this is just it. All this stuff, like feeling butterflies, your heartbeat going too fast, paying so much attention to what the other person is saying, this is just beyond me,'' says Stiles. He can't read Derek's face. ''I can't have this normal, so-in-love relationship, that's why I... that's why it's a thing.'' Stiles licks his lips, desperate to make Derek understand. ''Come on, you like me. I like you.''

Derek slowly shakes his head. ''I don't understand,'' he repeats. ''I... I just don't understand.'' He meets Stiles' gaze and asks, ''What was it you said? What's the name?''

''Aromanticism,' says Stiles and grimaces. ''It's just a label, Derek.''

''Aromanticism,'' repeats Derek, no understanding in his voice. ''Okay.''

Stiles doesn't bother to respond. So it's done and gone. Finished.

Figures.

***

''The world is beautiful,'' says Stiles with a wild gesture. ''Look at the sunset. Look at nature.''

''Dude,'' says Scott, sprawled over his favorite rock. ''You're so drunk.''

Stiles laughs stupidly, then stops, feeling like he's about to cry. ''I'm so drunk,'' he agrees.

He drinks more of his beer, having discovered alcohol's magical property to make problems seem... further away.

''I mention aromanticism and he's gone,'' he finds himself saying and snaps his fingers. ''Like that.''

''That's stupid,'' slurs Scott. ''Just because you're aro doesn't mean that you can't, I dunno, love, kinda, or, can't be in a relationship.''

''How many, I mean, pauses did you make? Just now?'' wonders Stiles. ''And what 'love, kinda'?'' he demands, sitting up. ''Because romantic love is supposed to be the pinnacle and goal and all that crap? This is so amatonormative, Scott, and-''

''And this is you,'' Scott interrupts him, satisfied. ''All amatonar... and yeah.''

Stiles slumps, the desire to argue leaving him at once. ''Besides, knowing this about aromanticism is like, a higher level of initiation,'' he says finally. ''You can't expect people to know that.''

''It'd be nice if we could, though,'' replies Scott. He frowns, looking at Stiles. ''And since when are you all... accommodating and stuff?'' he says reproachfully. ''You gave me the whole lecture on this... aro-manti...'' Scott groans instead of finishing the word, ''when I didn't know, uhh, anything 'bout it... and this-'' he pauses, visibly gathering thoughts, ''community, not just label. Aro is.''

Stiles shrugs. Scott was discovering aromanticism as much as him back then, even if Stiles was more committed to the research. Derek, on the other hand, may read and think whatever.

Stiles tilts his head back to stop himself from throwing the glass bottle against a nearby rock in a surge of frustration. The view of the sky is nice that way but his head is spinning. ''This sucks,'' he says.

***

It sucks even more the next day.

***

And then two days later, Derek appears next to him and matches his pace. ''So,'' he starts, looking ahead, ''you don't feel romantic attraction?''

It doesn't matter that Stiles has been hoping desperately to talk to Derek for the whole last week, the question still makes him angry.

He grimaces but reels in his first response and says, ''Yeah.''

''But how can you tell?'' asks Derek, glancing at him, frowning. ''You're just 17.''

Stiles shrugs. He should have expected the usual set of follow-ups. Amazingly stupid that he still kind of hoped for a different reaction from Derek. ''I talked to some people on the Internet,'' he replies. ''I felt similar.''

''But-'' starts Derek again, then cuts himself off. ''This is so weird,'' he says for what already feels like the hundredth time. ''I don't understand it.''

Stiles twists his mouth. ''Come on,'' he mutters, ''we have to get to Econ.''

Instead of picking up the pace, Derek stops in place and keeps Stiles from walking away with his hand.

''I thought we could skip the class,'' he says.

Stiles looks away and swallows. He decides to will himself to grin and say, ''Wow, again? You're supposed to be the role model here.''

Derek keeps regarding him. ''I wanted to talk to you and I didn't think you'd agree to a date-'' he stops himself and smiles ruefully, ''to a meeting again.''

Stiles puts his hands in his pockets. ''I would have thought it to be for the best.''

Silence.

Stiles shifts, the whole situation making him nervous. He looks up and knows that if he saw the expression Derek has right now on anyone else, he'd freak out. ''Jesus, don't look at me like that.''

''I can't help that I fell in love with you,'' Derek shoots back.

Stiles blinks. Makes sense how Derek was so weird with fuckbuddies thing. ''I can't help that I didn't,'' he replies and glances to the side. Some people are watching them and Stiles feel his cheeks go hot. ''Look, I don't want to like, lead you on,'' he says to Derek finally.

''You won't if we talk,'' replies Derek.

''Yeah, but,'' starts Stiles and his eyes widen suddenly. ''Have I been leading you on all this time?''

''Let's just talk,'' says Derek and starts walking, his hand on Stiles' back.

''Oh my god,'' groans Stiles, hiding his face in his hands, trusting Derek to get him to wherever they're going in one piece. ''Fuck.''

They are passing the corridor and Derek finally replies, ''No, you've never led me on, Stiles. You told me we're fuckbuddies, and friends with benefits, and-''

''Huh,'' mutters Isaac, busy with his locker. He raises eyebrows as Stiles and Derek almost bump into him, turning the corner. ''I was sure you were dating.''

''We aren't,'' confirms Stiles. He knows he's expected to feel bad about it but instead, he's relieved to say the truth. ''Just in case – are you interested in Derek?''

''Uh,'' says Isaac, regarding him, ''in what case?''

''Why, you interested?''

''No,'' replies Isaac immediately, then frowns. ''I'm straight.''

''Huh,'' mutters Stiles, losing interest, and starts walking again.

''What's with that reaction?'' demands Isaac after them, offended.

Stiles glances at Derek. ''Sorry, I guess.''

''Why?'' asks Derek, bewildered. ''I only mentioned Isaac to make you jealous.''

Stiles blinks. He didn't think of it that way. ''Ohh.''

Derek looks at him, an odd expression on his face. ''If I were with someone,'' he starts quietly, ''I'd rather be exclusive.''

''Oh, okay.''

''Oh, okay,'' repeats Derek, incredulous. ''Do you even want to be in a relationship?''

''I want to have something,'' replies Stiles carefully, mindful of Derek and Scott's reaction on his so far favorite term – thing. ''With you.''

''This – what was it called, QPR?''

Stiles raises his eyebrows, surprised. ''Queerplatonic relationship, yeah,'' he bites his lip, ''we could.'' Frankly, he's already resigned himself to the belief that Derek didn't take his words seriously and didn't check the information on aromanticism, so this is already more than Stiles had expected. 

''That's- I-'' starts Derek, then sighs. ''I still don't get it. I've read about it but it makes no sense to me.''

''How about we go to the preserve?'' suggests Stiles. ''I know a nice place.''

''Okay.''

Stiles stops to regard him critically. ''You know, people won't care about me, and my dad will understand. But you, people expect things from you,'' he says. ''You're like, the perfect student, your family probably doesn't want you to miss classes again, and the teachers, even students, your friends-''

''I want to,'' shrugs Derek. Then, he adds, ''Besides, Laura's on my side.''

''Point taken,'' says Stiles. ''Let's go.''

***

''Oh, I know this place,'' says Derek, looking around as he steps out of his car. ''I come here sometimes with my family. We swim in the lake nearby.''

''Sounds nice.''

Derek pauses and turns to him. ''Sorry,'' he says. ''I guess you wanted this to be more... private.''

''Why would I want that?'' asks Stiles. He closes his Jeep and walks to Derek. ''I come here often with Scott anyway. And I think it's great that you're close to your family.''

Derek stares at him for a moment. ''Right,'' he says finally and sits down on the ground, then slowly goes to lie down with a small sigh. ''QPR is like a deeper friendship, right?''

''You could say that,'' Stiles agrees, settling down next to him.

Derek watches the sky, playing with the grass under his hand. Seeing his exposed throat makes Stiles think of the time when he was over at Derek's and they tried sixty-nine. Derek kept tightening his hold on Stiles' butt, slapping the skin, each time making Stiles almost choke on Derek's cock.

Both spent, Derek laid down behind him, slinging his arm around. They were spooning and it weirded Stiles out, but it was nice, and they were fuckbuddies so it was okay, right, so he stayed like that. Derek must have seen that in a completely different way.

Now, Derek plucks up some of the grass and watches the pieces flutter down. He suddenly looks at Stiles, reaching out to curl his fingers around Stiles' wrist. ''I'm in love with you,'' he says quietly. ''My thoughts keep coming back to you. I focus on you even when there are other people around. I hate it when you smile and laugh when talking to someone else.''

''Dude,'' manages Stiles, frozen with surprise, ''that's creeping into possessiveness.''

''I know,'' replies Derek with a shrug, unbothered. ''It's because I'm in love. It'll pass.''

Stiles stares at him. ''You say that like it's normal.''

That startles a laugh out of Derek. ''I guess you really don't get being in love.''

Stiles shrugs. ''I don't have to get it to understand you.'' After a pause, he looks at Derek, slowly gathering in himself the strength to continue. ''I've known you for some time now,'' he says finally. ''I don't know what would have to happen for me to, like, get over you.''

That makes Derek visibly pause. He glances at Stiles and says, ''I guess I just can't promise you anything.''

Stiles rolls his eyes. ''I can't either. But now, I want to be with you.'' He licks his lips and adds, ''QPR or not.''

Derek slowly turns to him. ''Or not?”

''Well, we're not exactly platonic.''

Derek doesn't reply at first, watching the clouds. ''I mean more like, when Laura asks me again, are we boyfriends?''

''Sure.''

A small, pleased smile appears on Derek's face.

''It's just a word,'' says Stiles, hesitating. ''Why are you so happy about it?''

''My brain's high on dopamine, don't expect me to be rational,'' replies Derek.

Stiles laughs, suddenly remembering all the reasons why he's wanted to have something with Derek. He bows to kiss him, and when Derek doesn't stop him, he climbs onto the boy, straddling his hips.

They kiss for a while longer, Stiles enjoying Derek's arms around him, the heat between their bodies. He raises to look at him properly, to see the redness of Derek's lips and his dark eyes.

''Isaac thinks we're dating,'' says Derek suddenly. ''Are we?''

Stiles shrugs. ''I guess not exactly but it needs explaining, so...'' he trails off, looking at Derek expectantly.

''Do you seriously want me to call this-''

''A thing,'' grins Stiles, nodding, and starts laughing uncontrollably as Derek tickles him and rolls them over.