A/N: a little fic for nostalgia's sake. LWD was my very first fandom when I started writing years ago. I recently happened to rewatch the series and remembered how much I loved it (and Dasey). And so this story was born. Enjoy. Most of my other D/C stories can be found on my livejournal.
Casey stepped out of her Uber, her high heels clicking on the wet pavement as she turned around to shut the door. The driver rolled down his window, peering up at the school building behind her. "So, that's what you were all dressed up for."
She smiled a little, smoothing down the silky turquoise dress that clung to her figure. "I know, I know. Who wants to go back to high school?"
He shrugged, "Depends on what rung of the social ladder you were on, I suppose."
"I suppose," she agreed, thanking him and wishing him a good night. He tipped his hat to her and she watched as the car pulled away from the curb. Then she took a deep breath and turned back around to take in the view.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she felt her heart swoop and settle somewhere in her mid-region, and a dull thud filled her ears as her pulse kicked into overdrive.
What had she been thinking? This was an absolutely terrible idea—one of her worst, really. She had just reached halfway into her purse, her fingers closing around her cell phone to call back her Uber, when she heard footsteps come to a halt next to her.
She whirled around, her eyes widening in surprise. "Sam!"
He grinned a familiar grin, but it wasn't the same laidback expression she remembered. She faltered, noticing his smile seemed strained. "I didn't expect to see you here."
Casey frowned slightly, eyeing the distance between them. "At our 10 year high school reunion? Why wouldn't I be here?"
Sam scratched the back of his neck, looking flustered. "You're right, I don't know what I was thinking. Come on, let's go inside."
"Okay?" She shook her head, lifting the hem of her dress as she followed silently behind him. She'd known tonight would be awkward—these things always were—but she hadn't expected the awkwardness to start quite so early.
He opened the door for her and as she turned to thank him, she happened to catch sight of who was sitting at the welcoming table in the lobby. "You've got to be kidding me."
Kendra looked up, perhaps having heard her, and her eyes widened. "I don't believe it," she said gleefully, "You two are back together!"
Casey paled, belatedly realizing that she probably shouldn't have walked through the doors with an ex-boyfriend.
"Huh?" Sam looked between Casey and Kendra. "Oh!" He chuckled at the look on Casey's face before placing a hand on the small of her back and steering her forward. "No, it's not like that. We just happened to get here at the same time." He scanned the table, looking over the name tags. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised you're running this thing?"
"But of course," Kendra preened, "Where else would I be?" She found both their tags and handed them over, her eyes jumping back and forth between them. "No plus ones for either of you?"
"My girlfriend couldn't make it," Sam replied, carefully pinning his tag onto his suit. "She has finals coming up in a couple weeks." At Kendra's raised eyebrow, he amended. "She's in law school."
"Hmm," Kendra turned to look at Casey, "What about you?"
"Um yeah," she stammered, her face heating. "My boyfriend's at work too. Night shift at the hospital."
Sam finally made eye contact, the surprise evident on his face. "You actually became a doctor?"
"Of course she did," Kendra squealed, clapping her hands together. "I never doubted you would."
"Thanks," Casey said, not knowing what to make of Sam's odd behavior. "I'm in my 3rd year of residency in New York."
"Wow," Sam blinked, "I thought—"
"Champagne?" A waiter stopped in front of them, holding out a tray.
"Thanks," Casey said distractedly, annoyed that they had been interrupted before Sam could finish his sentence. They each took a glass, both eyeing Kendra questioningly when she didn't.
Kendra smirked, getting to her feet.
Casey gasped audibly, nearly dropping her glass. "Oh my god, you're pregnant!"
"Surprise," Kendra giggled, her hand covering her very pregnant stomach. "Due next month," she added with a smile, "It's a girl."
"Wow," Sam repeated, "That's…uh, really great."
Casey bounced on her feet—Kendra's happiness was contagious. "Congratulations!"
The mother-to-be beamed, "Thanks, Casey." Then she leaned conspiratorially towards them, "It's Derek's."
At that, Sam spat out a mouthful of champagne and Casey did drop her glass.
Kendra howled with laughter, slapping the table. "Oh my god, you should've seen your faces. Please tell me someone caught that on camera! Anyone?" She looked around hopefully on her tiptoes.
"You…" Casey said weakly, dabbing uselessly at her dress, "You were…kidding?"
"Of course I was kidding! I mean can you imagine?" Kendra chortled, "I just wanted to see what your reactions would be." She flounced into her seat, a dreamy smile on her face. "Priceless."
Sam coughed, his cheeks flushed. "I think I've had enough excitement out here. Casey, ready to go in?"
"Hey, wait," Kendra reached out a hand to stop them, though she was still laughing. "How is Derek anyway?"
Casey's gaze immediately flitted away, her fingers pulling mindlessly at her hair. She looked at Sam, who was looking back at her with a raised eyebrow. She blew out a little puff of air, trying to relieve the tension in her shoulders. "I, ah, wouldn't really know."
The amusement died from Kendra's face, to be replaced with confusion. "What?"
"Yeah, we haven't really…spoken." Casey could feel her face heating as she determinedly looked at a spot over Kendra's shoulder. "Not for a long time."
"How long?" Kendra asked a little incredulously, "I mean, you guys are family. I assume you must at least see each other during the holidays."
Casey's throat felt dry and she looked around for her champagne, remembering too late that it was on the floor. "We had a bit of a…falling out."
Kendra opened her mouth but Sam cut in, stepping in front of Casey. "I'm gonna save us all a lot of time and questions," he said briskly. "They haven't spoken since the summer after graduation."
"But," and now Kendra looked truly incredulous, "That's not possible. You guys were—"
"I assure you it's quite possible," Casey said, turning away on the pretense of looking for the entrance to the main event. "Well, it was nice to see you Kendra. I think I'm going to head inside now."
And it was with great difficulty that she focused on putting one step in front of the other, trying to ignore the loud ringing in her ears.
"You okay?" Sam muttered, falling into step beside her. "Need some fresh air?"
"No," she straightened her shoulders, "I'm fine. Really." At his disbelieving look, she shrugged. "The family knows not to mention his name to me. I just wasn't expecting—I mean, well, obviously I was expecting to hear his name tonight, but I—"
"I think that's her!" A guy she didn't recognize stopped in front of her, holding his phone up to her face. "What do you think?"
His friend (someone else she didn't recognize), looked from the phone to Casey before nodding in confirmation. "Yeah, definitely her. The resemblance is uncanny."
"Um, excuse me?" Casey snapped, "What are you talking about?"
"Are you…" Guy #1 pulled his phone back towards him, squinting at something. "Klutzilla?"
"You are, right? You're the first clue in the scavenger hunt."
"The what?" Casey growled, snatching his phone away from him. "Give me that. What are you looking—" The words died on her lips as she stared at a rather well drawn sketch of herself. "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?"
"The scavenger hunt, hello?" Guy #2 shook his head, "They said you were supposed to be smart?"
"Who," Casey began in a deadly voice, taking a step towards them, "Is they?"
But even as she scrolled through the guy's phone, skimming some stupid rules about a stupid game, she knew. On some level, deep down, she knew. Who else would create a game targeting her most embarrassing moments from high school? Who else would revel in her humiliation? Who else would…
She was so deep in thought that she didn't realize the silence that had fallen around her until it was too late. At the sudden hush and Sam's sharp intake of breath, she froze. There was a flash of heat at her back and then someone was pulling the phone out of her grasp.
"I see you've found my game."
The odd ringing in Casey's ears intensified and she slowly, dreadfully, turned around.
It was the same smirk. The exact same.
"You," she seethed, suddenly finding it hard to breathe. "You-"
"Me," he said brightly, the smirk becoming more pronounced. "Well, boys," he turned to address the two other people still standing there. "You've found the first clue. Proceed."
The first guy nodded eagerly. "Number 1, find Klutzilla. Number 2…write down a Klutzilla moment from tonight."
Casey spun on the spot, her hands balling into fists. "Joke's on you," she hissed, stepping up to Derek and jabbing him in the chest. "I haven't had a Klutzilla moment in years," she tipped her head up defiantly to meet his gaze, "And I don't plan to start tonight."
Derek stared back down at her. It took her a long moment to realize that her finger was still pressed into his chest and she hurriedly dropped her arm back to her side, her face flushing.
When she stepped back, however, she realized the smirk had slipped off his face and had been replaced by…something she didn't quite recognize.
"The champagne glass!" The guy's friend was saying excitedly, "She dropped her glass out there, remember?"
"Oh yeah!" Guy #1 high-fived his friend as he typed something into his phone. "Onto the next clue!" They high fived again and disappeared into the crowd.
Casey watched them go in dismay. She crossed her arms, scowling at Derek. "You mean you told Kendra to say she was having your baby?"
Derek's eyes bugged out comically. "WHAT!?"
"It's why Casey dropped her glass," Sam explained hastily. "Kendra's idea of a little joke." Then he grinned, "How's it going, D?"
"Not bad," Derek met Casey's eyes over Sam's shoulder while they did one of those half hug half handshake rituals. "What about you? Where's Becca?"
"Ah," Derek switched his attention back over to Casey. "And you?" he asked politely.
Casey saw red. "You," she said through gritted teeth, "Aren't supposed to be here."
"At my high school reunion?" Derek asked innocently, "Whatever do you mean, Case?"
She felt her heart stutter then resume in a jerky uneven pattern. She wondered briefly if she was going to pass out or something equally as embarrassing.
"Case?" Derek repeated, his eyes narrowing as he studied her expression. Casey's fingernails dug into her arm as she felt a flush creep up her neck. Because, yes, he knew her way too well.
"Don't call me that," she blurted, panicked. "Actually, just—don't talk to me at all." She waved a hand around them, "It's a big school, w-we don't even have to interact tonight. Gotta keep up with the status quo, right?" She laughed a little hysterically as she walked backwards, trying to put some space in between them.
A loud crash.
Casey whirled around in horror as the waiter she'd bumped into dropped the tray he was carrying, and champagne glasses went splattering onto the floor. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry!"
"Guys, check it out!" A voice crowed behind her, "It's Return of the Klutzilla."
"Derek, you—" She broke off in confusion as flashes went off in every which direction. She held a hand up in front of her face in mortification, "What the hell is happening!?"
"Scavenger hunt," Derek replied, his hands in his pockets as he surveyed the damage. "Bonus points if you get photographic evidence." He grinned at her, "Who says sequels aren't as good as the original?"
"I," she punctuated under her breath, "Am going to kill you."
His grin widened.
"Uh, what's going on here?"
Casey could have cried in relief. "Emily!" As she turned to greet her friend, she noted a displeased look cross Derek's face. But when she looked at him again, his expression was carefully blank.
"Show's over," Emily said loudly, moving in front of Casey to block her from view of everyone's smartphones. "Take a hike!"
"You heard the lady," Sheldon added, appearing next to Emily. "Leave, now!"
Casey stared at him in surprise, her gaze dropping to their joined hands and the ring on Emily's finger. "You're—"
"Engaged!" Emily squealed, throwing her arms around Casey. "I wanted to call you of course, but it had been so long and I knew I'd probably see you here and of course you're gonna be invited to the wedding—"
Emily paused, and Casey could've sworn she saw dislike flash across her face. "Your whole family will be invited, of course." She turned to acknowledge Derek, pulling her phone out as she did. "29 years old and you still act like you're 16," she said flatly. "Scavenger hunt? Really?"
"Hey, if it wasn't for me, this reunion would be a total bust." Derek crossed his arms, sounding decidedly unfriendly. "You should be thanking me."
Casey looked in between them, "Am I missing something here?"
"Usually are," Derek replied, not missing a beat.
"Come on Casey," Emily said, looking away from Derek. "Let's go get a drink and leave the juveniles to their juvenile games."
Derek's expression didn't change, but he met Casey's gaze as she began walking away. This time she recognized the look in his eyes. A challenge.
She shivered, turning her back on him and following Emily into the crowd. Sheldon smiled over at her, "How's New York treating you? Emily tells me you're almost done with your residency?"
"Yeah, it's been great," Casey said, a little taken aback that Emily had obviously told him about her but not the other way around. "So…when did you two…"
Sheldon looked at her quizzically.
Emily stopped at the makeshift bar and sighed. "Casey, look, don't be mad. I wasn't keeping it from you. It- it wasn't like a secret or something. I just wanted to tell you in person, not in a text or e-mail…we haven't even talked on the phone in…" She shrugged, throwing her arms out a little dramatically, "Years!"
"I'm not sure what you want me to—"
Emily sighed again, effectively cutting her off. "Sheldon and I have been engaged for 2 years. The wedding is this summer."
Casey's mouth dropped open. "2 years!?"
Sheldon frowned, "You didn't know?"
"I'll explain later, honey," Emily said under her breath. Then she smiled at Casey, continuing their conversation as if nothing was wrong. "Sheldon's moving right up the political ladder," she beamed proudly, "He might even become prime minister one day."
"That's…great," Casey tried to smile back, feeling her cheeks sting with the fakeness of it all. "And how's your gossip column going?"
"Oh I'm more of a journalist now," Emily replied, linking arms with Sheldon. "I cover all the juicy scandals in the political world." She grinned, "And it's quite the scandalous world, let me tell you."
"Great," Casey repeated, trying to ignore the gnawing feeling in her chest. Even with her busy schedule, she'd always tried to keep Emily in the loop about her life. Apparently asking for some quid pro quo was too much to expect.
"You know, I think I…I need some air," she stood up hurriedly, tripping over her dress but—thankfully—not falling. "I'll be right back." She pushed through the crowd, ignoring Emily and Sheldon as they called her name. She spied the nearest exit and shoved past more people, gratefully slipping past the double doors and ending up in a nearly empty hallway.
She didn't really recognize it, but who would remember what their high school looked like after 10 years anyway? She sighed, her fingers trailing against the cool wall. "Why did I even come back here?"
"First sign of insanity," a voice replied from behind her, "Talking to yourself."
Casey paused, her eyes closing. "Go away, Derek. Remember we agreed we don't have to interact tonight?"
"We did not agree to anything of the sort," he corrected, his voice coming closer. "You suggested it and I proceeded to ignore you." His voice was in front of her now and she opened her eyes in dismay. "Like old times, am I right?"
She squinted at him, "You've taken one too many hockey pucks to the head if you think anything about tonight is going to be like old times."
As she moved to brush past him, he grabbed her wrist. "Case, wait." She stopped, unable to hide the shudder that went through her body at his touch. Derek didn't let go, but his grip tightened. "Do you really hate me that much?"
His voice was low, and he was much too close. She met his gaze, "Derek, let go."
He dropped her arm, but didn't move away. His eyes were scanning her face, "What's wrong?"
Casey looked at him incredulously, "What's wrong? A lot of things, Derek! Starting with that stupid scavenger hunt and ending with the fact that you're NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE."
She hadn't realized she was yelling until her voice echoed dismally down the hallway. She took a startled step away from him, angry at herself for losing control.
He was giving her a strange look. "Why do you keep saying that?"
"Uh, because it's the truth?" When he only continued to look at her blankly, she pinched the bridge of her nose in exasperation. "Derek, we haven't spoken in almost 10 years. We go home on different holidays and the family knows not to mention your name to me or vice versa. I was assured that you would not be attending this."
He opened his mouth and then closed it. "By who?"
"Who told you I wasn't coming?"
"Thought you said the family didn't mention my name to you."
Casey sniffed, "Not in so many words. I asked if it would be safe for me to attend and she said it would be no problem. That there'd be no unpleasant surprises."
Derek stared at her for a beat too long. "Marti didn't know," he said abruptly, turning away from her. "The family didn't know I was planning on attending."
"Well why wouldn't you check first and see if I was attending then!?"
He tilted his head at her, "What, you mean call you?"
Casey laughed out loud at that. "No, you imbecile. Why didn't you check with the family before coming?"
"Oh," Derek tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Right, that would be because I don't care?"
She pursed her lips.
"Besides, what fun would the scavenger hunt be without a Klutzilla sighting?"
Casey could feel her frustration rise dangerously close to boiling point. "I'm not—not some joke for you to create a game out of! Emily was right about you, you'll never grow up!"
She made to storm past him, but he twisted around, his arms slamming on the lockers on either side of her. His eyes glinted dangerously, "Emily said that, did she? So the 'Derek doesn't exist' rule doesn't apply to your conversations with her?"
"I never pretended you didn't exist," Casey snapped, glaring up at him. "I'm not you."
Derek's arms lowered a fraction of an inch. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Casey huffed, "Honestly, I don't know what kind of revisionist history you've created in your head." She gestured between them, "This? This is all your fault."
"Most things are," he said blandly, "But what are you referring to, specifically?"
"Unbelievable," she muttered under her breath, shoving past his arm and tottering down the hall. "Can't even have one conversation without—"
"Fine, run away," Derek called, all his teasing gone. "It's what you do best."
Casey stopped, feeling the blood drain from her face. She turned around slowly. She wasn't sure what expression was on her face, but she felt a flicker of satisfaction when Derek subconsciously took a corresponding step backwards.
"You have a lot of nerve," she said in a low voice that nonetheless carried down the hall. "To accuse me of running away."
Derek looked up and down the hallway warily. "Let's go outside and talk."
Casey crossed her arms, "No."
He groaned, "Come on, Case."
"I told you to stop calling me that."
He looked briefly confused, "Your name?"
She didn't budge. "You've never actually been stupid. Don't pretend to be now."
Derek sighed. "Okay, Casey." He paused, gauging her reaction. "Can we go outside and talk now?"
"I'm not going anywhere with—"
She gritted her teeth as her heart gave a particularly painful tug. Damn him. But even as she stared at him, contemplating her decision, she suddenly realized something. For the first time in her life, Derek Venturi looked unsure of himself. In fact, he actually looked nervous.
"Fine," she said loudly, "Let's go outside." She began to make her way towards the doors, but he shook his head. "What?"
"This way," he said, gesturing towards the stairs. "Trust me?"
"Right," she scoffed, toeing off her heels and rolling her eyes. "Trust you." But she didn't object, and for that he flashed her a grateful smile.
By the time they reached the final flight of stairs and walked out onto the roof, Casey realized she was very much out of shape. Her lungs burning, she glared at Derek who seemed perfectly fine. "Stupid hockey," she muttered.
"I don't actually play hockey anymore," he said, suddenly seeming to find the night sky extremely interesting. "Not since I graduated. Thanks, by the way," he added, "Not attending my graduation was a terrific gift."
Casey didn't rise to the bait. He hadn't been to either her university or med school graduations, something that he surely knew. "What do you do then?" she asked, trying to sound uninterested. "Finally fulfill your goal of being a trophy husband?"
It was too dark for her to clearly discern his expression when he looked at her. "Director," he said after a moment, his voice curt. Then he stepped slightly to the side, and his face moved out of shadow. But his gaze was so intense that she broke eye contact almost immediately. "And I'm not married." He tacked the last part on in an offhand manner, but she could tell from the stiff set of his shoulders that he wasn't as blasé as he was pretending to be.
"A director," Casey repeated, not bothering to hide her surprise. "Your dream." Then she smiled in spite of herself, "Congratulations, Derek. I'm proud of you."
He shook his head once, warning flashing across his gaze. "You don't get to do that."
Derek heaved a sigh, looking up at the sky again. When he finally glanced back at her, the expression on his face twisted into something that looked almost wistful. "You look…good."
"Is this a prank?" Casey asked suspiciously, "Are you going to throw me off the roof?" Her eyes narrowed, "Wait, you're going to leave me up here and lock the door, aren't you?"
He grinned, but the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. "Tempting," he said, leaning against wall. "But that's kid stuff."
Casey eyed the edge of the roof, not liking the way he was leaning against the wall. "As if your little scavenger hunt was so mature."
Derek gave a short laugh, but he didn't sound the least bit amused. "Can't you see a stunt for what it is? So much for being a keener."
He shook his head, his gaze shifting away from her. "Never mind."
Casey tapped her foot impatiently. "Derek, it's cold up here. Just say what you want to say so we can go back inside and get this night over with."
He still wasn't facing her, but after a long moment he finally spoke. "We were supposed to go to university together. We had all these plans, and then you…didn't follow any of them."
Casey waited expectantly, but he didn't continue.
"So you're mad at me for…" she didn't have words and sputtered to a stop. When the silence grew thick, she said haltingly. "You were mad at me for following my dreams?"
"Dancing in New York was your dream?" Derek snorted, "Spare me, Casey. You've always wanted to become a doctor, ever since I met you. You always had a plan, you always knew exactly what you wanted to do."
"And I am a doctor!" she snapped, her voice wavering—and she hated it, hated that he was going to make her cry. "I sang and danced and I had actual fun in New York before I started medical school. I actually lived my life, Derek! I thought you would've been happy for me! I thought you would've, I don't know, approved of something I did for once! Not—not shut me out!"
He finally turned to look at her, and his expression was stormy. "In New York," he said. "You moved to New York and then you STAYED THERE."
"So?" She started forward in anger, "You could have visited! Everyone else did!"
"Yeah?" He was shaking his head, "Like you visited me at university? Like you came to any of my hockey games? Like you came to my graduation?"
Casey faltered, because Derek Venturi didn't do feelings and right now he sounded almost…hurt. "I was…" she swallowed, because she'd been about to say 'busy' and she had a feeling that was definitely not going to go over well.
But Derek was staring at her and she had a feeling he knew what she had been about to say anyway, because he always did.
"Busy?" He asked belligerently, "You were busy?"
Casey shut her eyes, because she knew that wasn't fair. "I didn't say that."
"But you wanted to."
"Making it in the big city isn't…it wasn't easy, Derek! It was a lot of work and…and then I started college and med school and then…" She let out a shuddering gasp and fell silent as the tears streamed down her face.
She was standing close enough to Derek that she saw his jaw tighten. "Don't do that," he said quietly.
"Well now you've ruined my makeup," she sniffed, "I hope you're happy."
"Haven't been," he answered unexpectedly, "For about 10 years, give or take."
Casey blinked at him, unable to hide her shock. "Derek Venturi talking about his feelings? Who are you and what have you done with my brot—" She stopped, stumbling over her words as Derek looked at her sharply.
"Can't say it, can you?" He gave her a rueful smile, "Because we never were family." He scuffed his shoe back and forth along the ground, "Thought we were friends-adjacent, but turns out I was wrong about that, too."
Derek looked up, an odd expression on his face. "Well we were never just friends. Not really."
Casey opened and closed her mouth wordlessly. The worst part was that she couldn't correct him. She'd certainly never loved him like family and she'd never thought of him as a friend either. "I…just because we weren't…it doesn't mean I didn't—" She broke off, frustrated. "What do you mean you were wrong?"
He shrugged, the movement too stiff to be entirely casual. "Well I'm pretty sure ignoring someone for 10 years doesn't fall into the friends or friends-adjacent category."
"You can't blame me for this," Casey whispered. But in the dark stillness of the roof, she might as well have been yelling. "You stopped first. You never—and New York was—and I was alone!"
Derek pushed himself off the wall, giving her an incredulous look. "That was your choice."
"And I had to stick with it, didn't I?"
He had been coming towards her, but now he stopped. "You…"
She was breathing fast now. "I made the decision to dance for a year, I convinced everybody it was the right thing to do. I packed up my entire life and moved to New York. I had to…I had to stick with it, don't you see? I couldn't…" Her shoulders began to shake from the effort of holding back her tears. "I couldn't let everyone down! I couldn't be a disappointment!"
Derek's expression had softened. "Casey…" He sighed, looking back down at the ground. "I thought you said you were having fun."
"I loved what I was doing, but…" She glanced up at him quickly—found that he was staring intently at her—and quickly looked away again. "It's not fun when there's no one to…" She trailed off.
"Share things with?" His voice was hard. "Kind of like being alone at university?"
"No," Casey snapped, suddenly angry with him for refusing to understand. "At least you could drive back to see the family any time you wanted! At least you could see Sam and Ralph on the weekends! At least y-you had somebody!"
"I was alone, like literally totally alone!"
"Was useless! He's a workaholic, I barely ever saw him and he never came to any of my shows and—"
Anger flashed across Derek's face. "What?"
Casey waved a hand dismissively, "It doesn't matter. I didn't care. Not about that." Not about him.
They stared at each other silently. A brisk breeze swept by them and Casey shivered, whether from the cold or from Derek's expression, she wasn't exactly sure. He began to shrug off his suit jacket, "Here—"
Casey was already stepping back, shaking her head. "No, it's fine. I'm just going to go inside."
Derek paused in the act of taking off his coat, looking confused. "What?"
"We talked, right? That's what you wanted." She turned away, "We should get back to the reunion. You know, the actual reason we're here?"
She had just reached the roof access door when he spoke again. "Well, it's not why I'm here."
"Spare me, Derek. It probably took you a week to put together that stupid scavenger hunt, you've clearly been planning this for a while."
He was walking towards her now, his eyes blazing. "I did that for you."
Casey took a step back, swallowing a yelp when she felt her back hit the door behind her. "Wait, you knew I was coming?"
"Preppy McPreperson? Miss a school event of this magnitude?" Derek stopped in front of her, his voice mocking. "Of course I knew you were coming." He paused, "In fact, I was counting on it."
She bit her lip, "So you only came here to humiliate me."
"The scavenger hunt, Derek."
"Honestly, Case, if you don't know why I wasted my time and energy on that little project then maybe you don't know me as well as you think."
She blinked up at him, startled at the change in his tone. He sounded almost angry. "But I don't know you," she said, deciding that if he was angry then she might as well get out everything she wanted to say to him. "Because the Derek that I know wouldn't ignore me for years and then show up out of the blue and pretend everything is okay!"
He was in her face now, his jaw clenched. "Nobody said everything was okay!"
She had to tip her head back to look up at him. He was standing so close that she could feel his body brush against hers every time he took a breath. She felt goosebumps erupt along her arms and she shivered again, remembering why she was standing at the door in the first place. "I have to go," she murmured, letting her gaze fall away from him. "I can't do this."
But when she turned away to pull the door open, the knob wouldn't turn. She pulled at it for a couple seconds, unable to believe this was actually happening. Then she whirled around and shrieked, "You mean you did get us locked out up here?"
Derek didn't answer her immediately. He looked like he was internally debating something, but then he shook his head and reached into his pocket, pulling out a key. "We're not locked out."
Casey stared at him in consternation. "So you just happened to have a set of keys for the school lying around?"
"I stole them from the principal's office," he replied lightly, tossing the keys in the air. "When we were in high school."
"And you kept them!?"
"Why did you even need—you know what, forget it, it's none of my business!" Casey tried to grab the keys mid-air but he merely moved a step back. "Derek, open this door right now. Why are you shaking your head? You can't keep me up here! This—this is kidnapping!"
He cracked a grin at that, "Always the drama queen. Glad to see some things haven't changed."
She took a deep breath, willing herself to speak calmly. "Derek, I swear if you don't—"
"Relax," he reached out to grasp her shoulders, and she suddenly felt a strong sense of déjà vu. "You can leave whenever you want."
She folded her arms.
"Okay, so you can leave when we're done talking." He held out his jacket to her, "You might need this."
She grabbed it angrily, but didn't put it on. "I have nothing left to say to you."
He scoffed, "Since when?"
Casey mentally counted down from ten. When she opened her eyes, Derek was giving her a strange look. "It's a stress relieving exercise," she told him haughtily, "Paul taught me that to deal with the likes of you."
Derek's posture relaxed and he moved towards her, once again invading her personal space. In fact, he was so close that she had currently lost all coherent ability to think.
"To deal with me, huh?" He chuckled in her ear, and she felt his breath warm against her neck. "Did it ever work?"
"No," she squeaked. She suddenly realized she was still holding his jacket and she shoved it back into his arms. "I-I don't need this after all."
He took it from her, looking amused. "I thought you were cold." She didn't reply. He smirked at her, clearly taking joy in knowing he was making her uncomfortable. "You know," he added thoughtfully, "I can think of some other stress relieving exercises you can do." He leaned towards her, and this time his lips brushed her ear. "My ways are much more fun."
Casey sucked in a sharp breath. Derek had always been overly flirtatious—but never to her. She glanced at him and he grinned. "You're a jerk," she muttered.
"Am I, now?" He rocked back on his heels, "And why do you say that?"
"Because you're being mean. "
"Drop the innocent act, Case," he leaned back towards her, "We're not sixteen anymore."
"I know I'm not," she shot back, cringing inwardly as she did. Pretty weak as far as comebacks went.
Derek raised one eyebrow, "A 10 year break from me and your conversational skills take a 180 degree nosedive. I always knew you needed me."
Casey looked at him in disbelief. He seemed to realize what he'd said a second later and he held up both hands in defense, "I didn't mean—"
"Forget it, Derek," she cut him off, "It doesn't matter. I needed you and you weren't there. And before you say anything, yes, I know I wasn't there for you either. I was angry and…" She shrugged, "I guess I thought you didn't want anything to do with me after all."
There was a brief moment of silence. "You know, for a keener, you're kind of an idiot." He suddenly reached out and grabbed the strap of her dress, tugging her forward.
"Hey," she protested as she tripped over her heels and went stumbling into him. "De-rek!"
He caught her around the waist and a genuine smile lit up his features. "I've only been waiting all night to hear you scream my name."
And the crazy thing was, she knew him well enough to know when he was telling the truth. "The scavenger hunt," she suddenly realized what he'd been trying to tell her all night, in his own way. "It was a prank."
He was still holding her, his forehead touching hers. But when she glanced up at him, his eyes were closed. "Case," he whispered, "I missed you." And then he opened his eyes, and her breath caught. His eyes were dark, darker than she'd ever seen them.
"I missed you, too," she found herself saying. And she also found herself stepping closer to him, closing the tiny gap between them until their bodies were molded together. "I thought you didn't do hugs."
"You're right," he said, lowering his head towards hers. "I don't." His breath hitched just as his lips brushed lightly against hers. It was the barest of kisses. Hell, it probably didn't even qualify as a kiss in the truest definition of the word. And yet it still sent Casey's head spinning.
"Wh-what are you doing?" she stammered, her fingers tightening into his shirt—pulling him impossibly closer.
"Not giving you a hug," he said a little hoarsely.
They stared at each other.
Casey frowned, "Is that it? That's what all the girls in high school couldn't shut up about? Honestly, I'm a little disappoi—"
Derek laughed, tightening his arms around her. "If you wanted me to kiss you," he teased, "All you had to do was ask." And then his mouth closed over hers, soft and insistent and—addictive. Casey's head fell back as his mouth swept down her neck, his hands sliding down the silk of her dress and lingering on her curves. Her pulse raced and she clutched at Derek to keep from falling over.
"Can't talk," he murmured against her skin, "Busy."
She giggled, because that was something that was just so Derek to say. "Come on," she said halfheartedly, "Do you really want to hook up on the roof of our…high school?"
"Come on Case," he whispered, a familiar smirk sliding into place. "Don't you ever want to live a little dangerously?"
She raised an amused eyebrow at that. "That line didn't work then and it won't w—"
"Didn't work then?" Derek interrupted, grinning broadly. "Because I seem to remember it working just fine."
Her cheeks heated, her mouth dropping open in belated realization. "You wanted us to fight that day."
"No," he refuted immediately, "I wanted you to loosen up and not tell the 'rents about my party. If we happened to get locked in the bathroom and get into a very…physical…fight, then that was just pure dumb luck."
Casey crossed her arms, but she ruined the effect by laughing as Derek tickled her side. "Stop it!"
"Okay, okay," he raised both hands, "Truce?"
She considered him for a second. So he thought she didn't know how to live dangerously? Maybe she should teach him a lesson…
Mind made up, she reached up to the zipper on her dress and slowly pulled it down, keeping eye contact with Derek the entire time. His hands lowered, his eyes widening in a combination of shock and disbelief. "Case?" he asked, his voice sounding oddly high pitched. "Wh-what are you doing?"
"Hmm?" She pulled her arms through, letting the dress fall to a silky pool at her feet.
Derek looked at her wildly. "Am I dreaming?"
"I don't know," Casey tilted her head at him, "Do I normally star in your dreams?"
He didn't answer her.
"Wow, the great Derek Venturi actually struck speechless," she placed her hands on her hips, trying to ignore the fact that she was nearly naked on the roof of her high school—with none other than the guy who had taken every opportunity to…
To get her attention.
Struck by the rather simple revelation, Casey gaped at him. "You never hated me."
Derek blinked, finally picking up his jaw from the floor. "What?"
"Everything you did, all the pranks you pulled, you were just…"
"Pulling your pigtails," Derek finished, "Yeah. Don't tell me you only just figured that out?" When she didn't reply, he shook his head. "I was kidding before but now I actually am concerned. Where's the real Casey?"
She gathered her thoughts long enough to say absentmindedly, "And which Casey would that be?"
"The keener," he emphasized, "The one who would never actually consider hooking up with her step brother on her high school rooftop."
"Oh," she said lightly, "That Casey left the building when she saw you." She carefully stepped over her dress, choosing to keep her heels on when she saw Derek's eyes drop to her stilettos. "You always did make me agree to do stupid things."
His gaze was roaming her body as she walked towards him. "What things?" he asked hoarsely.
"Throwing parties, sneaking out of the house, cheating on exams, pulling a prank on the principal," she counted on her fingers, "Should I continue?" Derek looked like he was having great difficulty focusing on the conversation, and she hid a smile. "Derek?"
"I never made you do those things," he replied distractedly, "But sure sounds like a good time."
She paused, recognizing that he was right. "Fine," she admitted begrudgingly. "Without you, I…" She frowned, "I guess what I'm trying to say is—"
"We had fun," Derek's voice was soft, almost a purr. She looked at him, surprised to feel something inside her clench in response.
"Yeah," she said breathlessly, "We did." Then she slid up to him, grabbing his wrist and swinging him around so his back hit the roof door. "Enough talking, Venturi."
He grinned, lowering his face to hers. "No complaints here, McDonald." And she could feel the frustration he poured into the kiss—the regret, the anger, the years of pent up hormones.
Her fingers fumbled as she hastily unbuttoned his shirt, her nails scraping against his skin. He sucked in a breath, catching her hand as she made to push his shirt off his shoulders. "Are we really doing this?"
Casey faltered, "Do you not want to?"
Derek's hand slipped lower on her back and pulled her into his hips. "Trust me," he said in a low voice, "I want to." She flushed, feeling the evidence of exactly how much he wanted this. But he continued, "I just don't want you to feel like I'm forcing you to do something that you can add to your little list of 'stupid things' that I've somehow driven you to."
She held a hand up to his cheek, her heart squeezing a little. "If I remember correctly," she said softly, "This was my idea."
"I know," he murmured, "I guess I rubbed off on you after all. Despite my father's best intentions."
Casey laughed. "It's a 2 way street, Venturi," she said, nibbling his lip. "You became a better person because of me, admit it."
He rolled his eyes, but the effect was somewhat ruined by the way his head fell back against the door as she continued her ministrations.
"I think I might be in love with you, a little bit."
She paused, looking up at him but his eyes were closed.
"Can you open your eyes, please?"
"I'd rather not."
He sighed and opened one eye, "I don't do feelings, Case."
"Sounds like you kinda just did." She rested her palms against his chest, feeling the wind whip through her hair. "Do you want to know when I realized I was in love with you, too?" He opened his other eye, a mixture of relief and curiosity flashing across his face. She took a deep breath, steeling herself. "It was when my life fell apart without you in it."
She could see the regret on the tip of his tongue, and she quickly darted forward to kiss him. "No," she whispered against his lips, "No apologies. We're both here now, that's all that matters."
"For the record, I am sorry," Derek said. "I never thought it would last this long, you know? I was so angry at you for leaving and I just wanted to get over it, and I couldn't. And then when you didn't reach out either, I would just feel…hurt all over again." He buried his face into her neck, and she realized with a start that they were actually hugging. "I just got so tired of being angry with you. I don't want to feel that way anymore."
"For the record, I'm also sorry," she said quietly. "I didn't realize what you were going through, I was just wrapped up in my own misery and…I don't know, I was jealous."
Derek pulled back at that, looking confused. "Jealous of what?"
"I convinced myself that you didn't bother reaching out because you were too busy dating every girl at university."
His gaze shifted away guiltily.
"What?" he said defensively, "I was hurting, okay? I needed the distraction."
"And was the weekly stream of girls during high school also a distraction?"
"Yes," he replied, "A distraction from not being able to have you."
Casey shook her head, throwing her hands up dramatically. "Why do I find that charming? It isn't even, not really."
Derek grinned, "Because you're in love with me."
"Shut up and kiss me, Venturi."
He instantly swooped down to capture her lips. "Thought you'd never ask."
*intended to be a one shot but has the potential to continue if people would like! be sure to drop a review and let me know your thoughts! xo