A/N: If you follow me in other places, this may be familiar to you; don't mind the repost.

Three Strikes
How many beers does it take to make a football player giggle?


"You'd…agree t'anything," Derik insists with something despicably close to a snigger, swaying on his feet like a landlubber earning his sea legs, and he leans forward when he says it, planting his one free hand, the one not still occupied by a half-empty party cup, against the nearest semi-solid object – which happens to be Quan's shoulder – and he almost falls forward even so. The alcohol has definitely gone to his head.

"Uhh…no I…tha's…s'no'…true," Quan responds, taking his time with the words because he's had more than one too many too, and when the force of Derik's unexpected weight sends him bumping back into the nearest wall, Derik vaguely wonders if the sound Quan makes counts as a giggle – because football players don't giggle – but he loses the thought to a dizzy swoon.

Quan is talking again.

"You're jush'…pushy…an'…'sh not worth…fighdin' you," he argues, and Derik supposes his logic is sort of sound – for a seventeen-year-old three sheets to the wind – but the fact that the slight tumbling has brought them rather…close…is more interesting than debating the validity, or lack thereof, of the argument. Quan's breath is hot and humid and smells like beer, gum, and potato chips.

Derik wonders if anyone ever got drunk off of the smell of alcohol.

"'M'not…pushy…" he says off-handedly, eyeing the way Quan's dark hair sweeps in front of his equally dark eyes when he definitely giggles, the rosy pink in his cheeks a nice variation from all that smooth, fair skin. How Quan manages not to tan after all the time they spend outside – sweating, with the sun beating down on them like it won't let up till somebody faints – is beyond Derik, but he leaves that train of thought for another day. Maybe it's an Asian thing.

"'Course you are…but…tha'sh'okay…" Quan murmurs complacently, a lazy smile curving onto his lips – which are at least as pink as his cheeks, but significantly wetter, and…shiny. "I like you anyway…"

Unsure how to respond how to respond to that, Derik watches the light glimmer along the curve of Quan's lip and thinks of kindergarten, back when "I like you," was serious business and "suppressed homosexual tenancies" meant about as much sense as Pluto not being a planet anymore. Swallowing a warm, curling feeling in his gut, Derik blames the alcohol.

"You…" He leans forward, brow furrowing as he tries to summon a coherent comeback. When none are forthcoming, he resorts to repeating himself. "You would so agree to…anything. You wouldn' even…object 'f I…" His head's not quite sure where that sentence was heading, but his body seems to know because a second later, Quan is even closer, an exhale ghosting like a warm, humid breeze over Derik's lips, like the first puff of air after opening a heated oven.

From here, he could count Quan's eyelashes if he wanted to.

He moves his hand from Quan's shoulder to the wall, the hand with the beer moving in too, on the other side, preventing escape. A part of him dimly notes that Quan doesn't seem to be trying to escape, but it's a passing observation, and the question 'Escape what?' nags at him from somewhere, unspoken in the back of his conscious, but Derik has a feeling he's going to have his answer in about two seconds anyway.

"Wouldn' object 'f you wh-mmh…"

For one terrifying moment, the thought that he's kissing Quan hits Derik with sharp, sobering realism, and he freezes. He should back up. This is wrong. No, more than wrong, it's – it should be – sickening, disgusting, revolting. It should be…

Except that it isn't.

Quan's mouth is warm, and soft, and wet. He makes a subtle, breathy sound of consent when their lips connect, tilting his head up just a fraction and reinforcing the kiss, and slowly, Derik relaxes. His eyelids dip. The tension melts from his neck and shoulders and sinks into the floor as he sinks forward. When Quan draws his tongue over the valley between his lips – a lazy, lethargic suggestion – Derik surrenders to his curiosity.

And Quan tastes like Budweiser.

Budweiser and spearmint and Lay's, and something else not salty or minty or alcoholic but very Quan, and maybe – Derik shudders into the kiss – maybe this isn't so bad, you know, all things considered. They are drunk, after all, and that excuses just about everything under the sun once in a while…right?

"Nngh…mm…see?" he mumbles rather breathlessly when they finally part, proud of himself for even remembering the argument in the first place, "You even…let me…umm…" but he doesn't make it far, distracted – not that he's complaining – by lips back on his, catching and drawing him back down, shutting him up. As he licks into Quan's mouth, their tongues twining wetly and rubbing in and out, curling against each other in slow, drunken imitation of something much more intimate, he thinks he's never been happier to be shut up.

That was the first time.


The second time it's raining – hard. The football field is soaked, and they're not drunk, but Derik can barely see through the water in his eyes, and, as he trudges through thick, cold, slushy mud towards the school, three fold-up metal chairs in each hand and Quan right beside him, his mood is as foul as the weather.

"Man, you'd agree to anything," he snaps, barely getting the words out before lightning cracks the sky, lighting Quan's thin frown for a fleeting moment before the thunder shakes the stadium walls, and Derik is never going to get his shoes clean again after all this mud.

"I would not," Quan retorts, at least as burdened down as Derik is, but that fact isn't really helping his mood. "Someone had to do it…it's not like they could just leave the whole set-up out in the rain…"

"Yeah," Derik growls, "but you didn't have to volunteer…anyone could have done this shit…but no…you had to be a fucking," He bangs the gym door in with his shoulder, "perfect…" and his sneakers smear brown muck over the tile when he steps in, "self-sacrificing…" He stops the door with his foot, keeping it propped open until Quan is safely in, "…pussy licking errand boy…"

When the door falls shut behind them once more, the only sources of light in the room are the high, paned glass windows near the top of the auditorium, leaving them in almost total darkness. Oops. Even in the dark, though, Derik can make out Quan watching him, his odd expression made odder by the strange, black-and-white kaleidoscope effect of the semi-darkness.

"What?" he asks finally, and Quan's eyes are serious, his lips pursed.

"You didn't have to volunteer either," he says.

Of course his excuse has to make sense.

Severely lacking in the clever comeback department as far as that's concerned, Derik grunts unintelligibly, muttering something vaguely along the lines of, "Like fuck I was gonna let you do it alone…" but if Quan hears him clearly, he doesn't let on, and simply follows him in silence as Derik moves over to dump his chairs along with all the rest in one of the far corners of the inside court.

The clanging echoes harshly in the otherwise lifeless room, the sharp sounds ricocheting eerily off the high ceilings and receptive walls, and Quan crosses his arms with a suppressed shiver. Derik frowns.

"Cold?" he asks, and Quan's head jerks up.

"Huh? Oh, no." He shakes his head, cheeks warming in the darkness as he folds his arms a fraction tighter, and Derik thinks the dripping, rain-soaked football jersey can't possibly be helping his case. "Just, umm…well, yeah, actually, a bit," he admits after a moment, smiling back sheepishly, and of course, Derik gets it.

Tough guys don't get 'cold.' Cold is strictly reserved for girls and pansy asses, not six foot plus linebackers. Right now, though, it's just the two of them, and now that he thinks about it, Derik isn't exactly warm and toasty either, so maybe that makes it okay. He offers a consolation smile in any case, taking a step forward and catching Quan's shoulder with an understanding pat.

"It is pretty nasty out there…but I think we at least got everything in before the worst of it, luckily enough. You, uhh…need a ride home or anything?" he asks, and Quan blinks.

It takes him until that moment to realize that his hand never quite left Quan's shoulder, and while he couldn't see before due to distance, now the captured raindrops on Quan's eyelashes glisten like lingering dew in the faded light, dark shadows making every glint a remarkable contrast. A single bead slips from his sleek black hair, tracing a tiny, zigzagging pattern down from his temple, over his cheek, down to his neck. Derik drops his hand sharply, thinking before he can stop himself about a night with too much alcohol and cursing himself for wondering if Quan remembers too.

"…so it's okay," Quan is saying. "He'll drive me."

"Uh…huh?" Derik fades back in, realizing he's already missed half of Quan's explanation.

"My uncle," Quan repeats. "He said he'd pick me up, and he should be here soon so…if you're gonna drive, you can go."

"Oh," Derik says, "right…" Another crack of lightning momentarily lights the room, and the ceiling shakes under the force of the subsequent thunder roll. Watching Quan pull his arms tighter still, Derik frowns again. "Nah, it's okay," he says, not sure what the hell he's thinking, but pretty sure it wouldn't be right to leave now. "I'll just wait here till he shows up."

"I'll be-" Quan starts to object, but Derik ignores him, plopping down on the lowest level of lowest level of the gym's bleachers and patting the spot beside him.

"You said he wouldn't be long," he insists. "Anyways, this town can give me the creeps in broad daylight…you don't need a spooky rainstorm and a dark, empty auditorium as an excuse."

At first, Quan looks skeptical. Then, just as Derik thinks he's about to object again, another stadium-shaking boom sets the room atremble – and his linebacker caves. As Quan plops down squarely, wordlessly beside him, Derik hides a grin with a glance to the floor. Together, they wait.

The rain sounds more distant like this. Surreal, Derik thinks. He eyes the mud speckling Quan's brand-name sneakers, turning white into a smeary, green-brown, and wonders how much money Quan threw away by volunteering to sludge through mud in new shoes and designer jeans. He draws his eyes up further to the aforementioned rain-soaked jeans, several shades darker now, and notes that they cling in this state, hugging Quan's skin like they're several sizes too small – or maybe like they're supposed to be showing off his legs, detailing every contour, leaving nothing to the imagination. Derik reminds himself that he's not drunk and looks away.

"Do you really think I'd agree to anything?"

Derik looks back, afraid he'd been caught staring, but Quan isn't looking at him. His eyes are distant, on the far wall, or maybe not on anything at all. Derik waits a moment before shrugging nondescriptly. "Kina," he admits. "I mean…just seems like you're pretty agreeable, is all, I guess…why?"

Quan's brow furrows, his lips a thin, tight line, and when he turns his head to Derik, Derik only remembers a few seconds later to breathe because there's something in that look. "It's not the first time you've said it," says Quan. He makes it a statement, hands down, no questions asked, but in some ways, it is a question, and Derik is proud of himself for recognizing that, too. This is Quan's version of 'I remember, do you?' and suddenly Derik's heart is alive, rebelling powerfully against the cage of his chest.

This is it, he thinks. This is his chance. Just act dumb now and he can forget it, put it behind him and pretend once and for all that nothing ever happened. A cold weight sloshes in his stomach at the thought, making him swallow, and Derik tilts his head, watching Quan through damp blonde bangs. The rain must have washed out his gel, and he probably needs a haircut, but that isn't particularly important right now.

"Yeah?" he asks, not ready to spend much time thinking about why his voice sounds hoarse and foreign.

"Yeah," says Quan, and it takes Derik until that moment to realize that Quan isn't asking if he remembers. He already knows. This is just Quan's polite method of giving him a way out – a clean escape, if he wants it. So the question isn't really 'Do you remember?' but 'Do you want to forget?' and somehow, Derik thinks dizzily, that's so much worse.

Next time, he thinks rather uselessly, he's picking a dumber linebacker. Not one smarter than he is.

Glowering, he's still not sure what exactly he plans on saying even when the words start falling out of their own accord. "Well, yeah, I know that…" he snaps, and 'Oh,' part of him thinks, 'is this really the best plan?' "It's just…" Quan looks almost as surprised as he feels. "Sometimes, you know…stuff needs to get repeated 'cause…maybe the message didn't come off right the first time, or…it didn't sink in completely and…" Derik wonders if he's still talking about Quan being too agreeable. He flicks his tongue across his lips, and when he catches Quan's eyes following the movement, his heart stutters on a beat. "You haven't proven me wrong yet…"

Quan looks back to his face, puzzled. "How am I supp…mm…"

This time, Quan's lips are cool, but still soft, and wet, and they part much faster. When a hand fists in his shirt, tugging, Derik grunts and presses forward cooperatively, advancing until Quan makes a short, startled noise and, having lost too much ground, winds up horizontal on the bleachers. Derik, looming above him, grins like he just gained thirty yards.

"You-" Quan starts, but Derik takes advantage of an open mouth, and Quan doesn't seem too keen to object.

He tastes…clean. Like rain, Derik decides. Like the storm, minus the mud and grass, and his tongue is hot and insistent, a sharp contrast to his fingers when Derik catches hold of them – chilled and faintly trembling.

"We shouldn't…for long…" Quan says. "If my uncle…nngh…" He never finishes that sentence.

Derik finds it fascinating, how the taste of rain varies subtly from place to place on Quan's body – different from lips to cheek and cheek to chin. He flicks his tongue along Quan's jaw – not a hint of stubble, he must shave every day – and he smiles when Quan shivers.

"You should call your uncle," Derik mumbles against Quan's throat. "Tell him I'll drive you home…"

"But…" Quan's voice catches, his hips twitching with a surprised grunt when Derik's fingers brush past the cold, wet cotton of his T-shirt and slip up underneath to the hot, sleek skin of his stomach – flat, hard, and rippled with defined muscle. "Your…hands are cold," he hisses breathlessly, not pulling away.

Derik lifts his head, shifts his weight to settle more comfortably over Quan's, and meets his eyes meaningfully. "I want you to call your uncle," he says.

Quan, after a short, ragged breath, nods. "Okay, sure," he agrees.

Derik decides not to push his luck by pointing out how obviously that proves his point.


The third time, water is pouring over Quan's back in hot rivulets.

It's not raining, and neither of them are drunk, but Derik figures he might as well be, as heady as he feels: pulse on overdrive, lungs burning, and his already limited capacity for rational thought only dulled further by the presence of a slick, naked body inches from his own. He kisses up Quan's neck – hungry, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses – and watches through steam and pounding water as Quan's fingers clench into fists against off-white tiles.

"Fuck," he groans, "Derik…we're…gonna get fucking busted…" he professes, but rocks back anyway when Derik catches his hip and tugs, dropping his head between his hands, just under the shower head, and panting at the wall.

"Mm…dunno about busted," Derik responds, lapping undauntedly along the curve of Quan's shoulder blade and savoring the shudder this entices, "but we are gonna get fucking," he agrees, and he pinches Quan's ass for kicks. Rewarded immediately with a muted yelp, he grins. "Pass me the soap, yeah?"

"You're…an overconfident…bastard," Quan asserts, deliciously breathless, but passes him the soap.

Derik grunts noncommittally. "Maybe so," he admits, building up lather between his palms, "but…" Once satisfied with the result, he trails his hand down Quan's side, painting a thin white streak of sudsy war paint over a trim ribcage, slim waist, narrow hips, and a firm ass. When he pauses – his hand low, but not quite breaching – he purposefully lingers, waiting out this familiar ritual until Quan, impatient, finally swears and spreads his legs a fraction wider, nudging back with insistence.

"Derik-" he half spits the word, but that might be because there's water running into his face.

"…that's what you love about me," Derik finishes, and there's a moment – half a second, maybe less – where Quan tenses, because 'love' is a dangerous word when it comes to teenagers and sex. It's also one they've been precariously avoiding, with total success, up to this point, and Derik knows that, but he's about as concerned about it he is about getting caught. So, the next moment, he presses in.

Forcing two soap-slicked fingers abruptly into Quan's waiting body, Derik feels as much as hears Quan hiss – the sharp, bodily tensing, the straightening of his shoulders and locking of his legs – and he's seen it before, too, so he knows what Quan looks like, even with him facing away, as he shuts his eyes, grits his teeth, and catches his breath, fighting his body to keep it from shaking.

When a twinge of guilt chastises him for moving so harshly, Derik succumbs for a moment to a gentler instinct, and places a single, apologetic kiss on the nape of Quan's neck, murmuring a hushed nothing against the dip of his collar, and waiting, uncharacteristically patient, until Quan's tension gradually starts to ease. Then, given that they are in the school locker room and there is actually a remote chance that some unlucky bystander might walk in at any inopportune moment, he makes quick – if slightly more considerate – work of finishing off the preparation process.

When Quan is rocking back on three fingers, white knuckled and gasping – at least, as well as one can gasp under a constant, heavy spray of water – Derik withdraws, and "Nnph…" is Quan's immediate, unintelligible expression of disapproval, "Derik…" but this time Derik, too, lacks the patience to keep him waiting.

"Okay?" he asks, not bothering to censure the ragged, almost eager quality now seeping into his own question as he aligns himself, his heart pounding an unbridled rhythm in his throat with enough of a downbeat to rival a professional drum line, and Quan nods sharply.

"Yeah, just whatever," he hisses, "go," and – ah, fuck – why hadn't they tried this years ago?

In some ways, Derik has always appreciated Quan's body. Fit, strong, and fast – a force to be reckoned with on and off field. Who wouldn't appreciate the kid saving his ass time and again, taking the metaphorical bullet for him more than once not just 'cause it was his job – protect the quarterback – but because he could and because he had the balls and dedication to prove it, over and over, as often need be?

This, though, Derik thinks as Quan trembles, hot, beautiful, and tight all around him, is a different sort of appreciation. This isn't a detached, impassive appreciation for practicality, like one might appreciate a good knife or a well-built chair, valued only for their usefulness. This is art appreciation. Here, with him, with his black hair soaked and lean body bent forward, fingers outstretched but tense and knuckles white, Quan is no longer a rook or a pawn to be moved for strategic benefit, no longer a player on the field – or even a teammate. Here, Derik decides, he is a dancing partner.

And as much as Derik loves Quan's stubborn patience, quiet reserve, and agreeable complacency, he loves this too. He loves it when Quan bends, rocking back, unwilling to wait any more; he loves it when he growls, curses, and moans, and perhaps he loves it most when he finally snaps, demanding that Derik move all-fucking-ready. And it's times like that that Derik, for once, is more than willing to take orders.

It doesn't last long, but it never has and it doesn't need to, and soon, two broken cries, muted by the palm of Derik's hand and the skin of Quan's shoulder respectively, mark the end of something that flirts with madness, and the start of something immeasurably softer, like the whisper of wind through an empty stadium, or the release of a long-held sigh. The rushing hush of the shower becomes the loudest thing in the room again, and with nothing but warm water and slick skin between them, his chin still tucked into the nook of Quan's neck and shoulder, and the quiet whisper of Quan's steadying breath just audible over the drumming of the water, Derik decides he never wants to move.

A/N: It took many hours to write; take a minute or two to comment? :)