A/N: If you are unfamiliar with Derik and Quan's storyline, this probably isn't the best place to start. To get a feel for what leads up to this (if you're interested) I recommend checking out some of the early one-shots about them on my main page and working your way up. For those of you who ARE familiar with these two, this is the official start to the first one of their stories which I intend to turn into a chaptered, full-length story. Unsure as of yet how "full" that length will be, but it will certainly be significantly longer than their other one-shots and short stories thus far.
Thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully this doesn't disappoint.
"Stick around and watch me fall apart,
Watch me lose the game that I made up…"
- Watch Me Fall Apart, Hard-Fi
1| Breaking the Camel's Back
"Wait!" Derik snatches the shoulder of Quan's jersey. "I said, listen—" The collision force of a school bus slams Derik into the locker room wall at his back, jarring his head against brick.
"Don't." Quan's voice is razor sharp as Derik struggles to drag air into his newly emptied lungs. "Touch me."
It takes another three seconds for Derik to register that the crushing weights on his chest are Quan's fists holding him pinned, and the anger already harbored in Derik's gut bubbles up as his disorientation fades.
He lashes out.
Shoving hard, he intends to spin them—reverse their positions and ram Quan to the wall—but something trips him. Quan's foot? And, with his balance upset, he stumbles. They've almost done a three-sixty by the time he abandons his original intentions and throws a punch instead.
It hits air, and seconds later Derik is doubling over Quan's knee in his gut, bracing himself for worse when Quan steps away instead, leaving Derik to stagger in the empty space between them.
"Just—" Quan starts, but Derik lunges, ramming his weight into Quan's torso with as much force as his already compromised body can muster.
Then somehow Quan's leg is twisted up with his, trapping him, Quan's hand is snatching up his wrist, locking it behind his back, and after a span of about fifteen seconds they're both on the ground, Derik with his face to the floor and Quan astride him like a mountain on his back. Quan holds Derik's arm pinned behind him to where it feels like it might snap at any second and Derik can't move.
Derik coughs and feels his face heat, his pulse throbbing between his ears like the advancing footfalls of the entire opposing defense team across the skin of a wardrum. "Quan…" He struggles to take in a breath, chest half crushed by Quan's weight. "Get off—"
With the fury and the embarrassment of Quan refusing him in the first place comes the far weightier knot of realization that Derik is powerless to make him, and heat pools lower in his gut than he's prepared for. Another shade of red burns in his cheeks and Derik squirms, jerking uselessly against Quan's pin once more. "I said get off—"
"And I said no."
Quan's knee digs into his back and Derik is fairly glad he's facing downwards when he groans because why the fuck his dick is interested in the proceedings he has no idea, but he doesn't really want Quan to know about it.
"I'm tired of listening, okay Derik? I'm tired of always doing things your way, tired of always giving in, always following a step behind, and always shutting up when you want me to. I never asked for you to change your entire life for me. I never held you at metaphorical gun point and said, 'Do this now, or we're over…' And I never did those things not because I never felt like it sometimes, but because I wanted us to work our shit out together when both of us were ready to. But you know what?"
The weight lifts off his back, the grip on his wrist withdraws, and he hears Quan stand, leaving him on the floor without offering a hand up. Derik winces and begins to gather himself.
"You treat me like I have no limits." Quan laughs — a brittle, bitter sound — but by the time Derik looks, his friend looks serious as a funeral in a way that makes Derik's gut lurch, and Quan holds his stare. "From the very first time, do you remember what you said to me? 'You'd agree to anything.' That's what you said: 'Man, you'd agree to anything.' 'You'd agree to anything, Quan.' And at the time? I almost believed you. I've always thought, even when we were kids, that if you wanted something bad enough I would be willing to do anything for you. Not for anyone, mind you, but for you? Yeah. I'd do it. 'Cause you were more important than everything else."
"No, shut up."
Derik shuts his mouth.
"You know what I discovered?" Quan asks, and Derik has the sense not to answer. "We were both wrong. I won't do 'anything.' I have limits, and congratulations, Derik. You fucking found them."
Derik's throat hurts. His heart feels like it's trying to bulldoze its way out of his chest and the sickening roiling in his gut says that he ought to say something — anything — to pull Quan off the track to wherever he's headed. But a more ominous whisper behind that says he's already too late. He was too late the moment he decided to give in to Lori, to protect himself.
"If you would rather pretend to be the father of a baby that isn't even yours than be gay," Quan says, "…if being with me is so fucking embarrassing to you, that you would rather spend your life at the beck and call of a girl you can't even get it up for just to hope that no one else finds out that you'd rather be sucking cock?" Quan shakes his head and lifts his hands, palms up in surrender. "Okay. Fine. 'Cause you know what? Those are your choices. I can't make them for you. But me and you?" He motions between them. "Whatever the hell 'we' were, if there even was a 'we' in your mind, if we even 'were' anything as far as you're concerned? That? That's over."
Derik's stomach drops, and for half a second he can't see. Blackness, like a thousand little pinpricks, eats at the edges of his vision and he shuts his eyes hard.
Quan's still talking.
"I don't want you touching me. Whatever you want to do with your girlfriend, any other girl at school or, hey, you know what? Any other guy at school dumb enough to spread his legs for you, go ahead. That's your business. But I'm done. I hope you and Lori have a great life. Obviously, you're perfect for each other."
Derik hears Quan walk out, the echoes of his footsteps ricocheting off the locker room's tiled floor, and his mouth is open, but breathing feels surreal. Wait. Please, stop…
Let me do this different.
Give me another chance (even if I don't deserve one)…
Derik sinks against the closest wall. His hands quiver, fisted and tight enough that his nails would break skin if they were longer. He wants to punch something until his knuckles bleed, until his bones fracture. He feels like he's falling apart from the inside, everything in his chest caving in on itself, and it's his fault. He knows it's his fault.
His eyes sting behind their lids and his next exhale comes out shuddered and half-choked. "I'm not ashamed of you…" 'I'm ashamed of myself.'
I fucked up.
I don't deserve you.
"Quan…" Derik's cheeks are wet and he hates himself when he lets his forehead tuck against his knees, only just managing not to break his fists on the tile underneath him. Beat something to a pulp. Punish his body for being capable of hurting this much. "I'm sorry," he finally whispers aloud, and then repeats it, again and again and again until the apology isn't whole anymore. Until it's just a mess of mangled, broken words on his tongue. Until it sounds as wrecked as he feels. "I know you deserve better, but…"
I don't know what to do without you.
You've always been with me.
I need you.
'I love you…'