This is sort of a prequel fic to my Casey-plays-hockey story "On Team Daisy," which no one asked for and I never even thought about writing, but plot bunnies will not be ignored. I decided that to get some LGBTQIA+ representation into this show, Sam is bisexual. (And I like the idea that Marti is gay, which has floated around the fandom for a while.)

Dasey won't get together in this, but they are very much on their way. To find out how they do, read "On Team Daisy"—sorry-not-sorry for that shameless plug. ;-)

Anyway, I haven't been able to get the beautiful first coming-out scene from Love, Victor out of my head (to avoid spoilers, I won't say more). I wanted to write how it might go if Sam came out to Derek and Casey. Everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community deserves positive coming-out stories.

-Brandi

Disclaimer: I don't own the heartwarming family sitcom that is Life With Derek. But these characters are embedded into my very soul, so back off, Shaftesbury.

Planting a Flag

"Come on," Sam said, checking the hallway to make sure no one else was around.

Derek shook his head. "You don't need to be sneaky to go into your own room."

Sam glared at him. "Shut up, you're ruining the intrigue."

"And you're the only 12-year-old I know who uses words like 'intrigue,'" Derek scoffed.

Sam pushed open the door to his room. "Be nice, or I'll put them back in my dad's office right now." He closed and locked his bedroom door behind them.

They tiptoed across the floor, and Sam dropped to his knees to pull a stack of magazines from under his bed. Derek flopped down next to him, eyeing the Playboys with interest.

"Oh, you missed one," Derek said, reaching under the bed. Sam grabbed for it but wasn't fast enough, and Derek held it up. "Playgirl? This one's got a guy on it." He dropped it when Sam blushed crimson. "Dude. Why are you looking at naked guys?"

"I dunno, I saw it when I was looking for my sister's candy stash, and I wanted to know what it was," Sam said, trying to sound nonchalant.

"And then you kept it?" Derek made a disgusted face.

"Don't tell anyone, okay?"

"Whatever. I don't want to look at it." He slid the first Playboy from the stack onto his lap and started riffling through it.

Sam heaved a sigh and nudged the magazine back under his bed.

They never spoke of that day again. Until now.

LWDLWDLWD

"Hey, D?"

"Mm?" Derek was rummaging in their refrigerator for something to eat after hockey practice. They had been at Queen's for almost three weeks, and their coach was ruthless. They were having a great time, though. Neither of them had ever pushed themselves so hard on the rink.

"Can I talk to you about something?" Sam was icing his knees, and he twisted around on the couch so he could see Derek behind him in the kitchen. "It's important."

Derek straightened up, orange juice carton poised at his lips. "Yeah?"

Sam gave him a stern look. "Casey will kill you for doing that. Use a glass."

"Casey doesn't freaking live here," he huffed. But he put the carton on the counter and got a glass from the cabinet. They both knew she basically did. She came over to their apartment every day, and the three of them did homework together. Her roommate always had people in their room hanging out, so Derek and Sam's place had become her refuge. The only downside was that one of them (usually Derek) had to walk her back to her dorm late at night. But Derek figured it was a small price to pay for someone who actually liked doing chores.

Not that Derek and Sam didn't step up. Derek was learning that if he wanted to live on his own, he actually had to do some work. He and Sam split the household tasks pretty evenly, along with the utilities. Abby had very generously agreed to cover the rent as long as they both kept their grades up (they had to do that for hockey anyway).

Sipping his orange juice, Derek plopped onto the couch next to Sam. "I'm going to be looking for some real food soon, so talk before I get too hungry," he said.

Sam swallowed hard, suddenly visibly tense. Derek quirked an eyebrow at him.

"You know how there's that thing about me that we never talk about?" Sam asked.

Derek cocked his head. "What, like how you dated Casey?"

Sam shook his head. "No, I mean like a secret. That only you know. And now I'm kind of thinking I want to tell other people, but I wanted to tell you first, because you already kind of know."

"Samuel Arthur Richards, if you do not stop stalling and say it already, I am dumping this orange juice on your head." Derek lifted the glass toward him.

Sam blew out a shaky breath, and Derek immediately pulled back. "Okay, okay, so this is serious. Go ahead." He trained his eyes on Sam, watching the look of terror that had just crossed his face. He patted Sam's shoulder awkwardly. "I'm listening."

Sam met his eyes. "I'm talking about that day you found the Playgirl in my room."

"Oh." Derek didn't look away, but it was his turn to swallow hard.

"I've been thinking about this a lot—well, a lot over the years—and I think … I know …" He looked down. "I'm bisexual."

Derek put his orange juice glass on the coffee table with a thunk. His voice cracked as he said, "Really?"

Sam, now that he'd gotten it out once, looked decidedly less pained. "I'm bi." He met Derek's eyes again. "There's this guy I like, and I think he likes me, and I want to ask him out."

Derek was aware that his mouth had fallen open. He remembered that day when they were twelve, and he had been vaguely aware of seeing Sam check out certain guys over the years, but he'd never thought about it too much, because he didn't think Sam even realized he'd been doing it. It had been a fact about his friend that didn't necessarily require investigating. "That's …" Derek had no idea what to say, but Sam looked so scared again that he let the words tumble out in a rush without thinking about them. "That's great, Sammy. I'm really happy for you."

Sam looked surprised, but pleased. "You are?"

"Of course! Dude, you're my best friend." He might have looked away when he said it, but there was no doubt from Derek's tone that he was being genuine.

Sam grinned at him, and Derek could see that a considerable lightness had come back into his eyes. "You're my best friend, too," Sam replied.

Derek harrumphed, obviously squirming from the moment of emotion. "Okay, that's settled then. Go ask out this guy."

Sam laughed. "It's not that simple. I want to tell Casey, and my sisters, and my parents. It feels like this weight off my chest now that you know, and I kind of want to get the rest of it over with first."

"Oh." Derek didn't actually understand, but he respected Sam's process. "I'll, uh, make us some sandwiches."

"Thanks, D."

Derek patted his shoulder awkwardly again as he stood up, and they exchanged embarrassed glances. But then Derek scratched his nose and gave Sam a goofy look, and everything returned to normal between them.

LWDLWDLWD

Casey was working late at her part-time job at the library that day, so Sam didn't get to talk to her until the next day. When he came out to the kitchen that morning, there was a printed-out bisexual flag taped to the refrigerator. Sam fully allowed himself to get choked up, and that's what Casey walked in to: Sam tracing the flag with his finger, almost-but-not-quite crying over how kind Derek could be when he wanted to.

"Sam, what's wrong?" Casey kicked off her shoes as she entered the apartment and came over to him.

"Nothing, nothing." Sam wiped his eyes and gestured to the flag. "Derek did something really nice."

Casey blinked in disbelief. "You're crying over Derek doing something nice?"

Sam didn't point out the irony—he had seen her get teary-eyed plenty of times when Derek did something to help her out of nowhere.

Casey pointed. "That's a pride flag, right? Which one?" She looked at Sam curiously as realization dawned that it had something to do with him.

Sam turned to her with a smile. "So yeah, turns out I'm bisexual."

Casey looked from Sam to the flag and back again as a smile spread across her face. "That's great! Congratulations!" She reached up to hug him, and when she pulled back, she quickly added, "I don't know if that's the right thing to say, or—"

"Casey, relax." He hugged her again. "I love you."

"I love you too, Sammy. So much."

They stood in their embrace just long enough for Derek to emerge from the hallway and see them. "Are you getting sappy in here? See ya." He headed straight for the door.

"Uh-uh, get back here," Casey called to him. "You're walking me to class, remember, so we can go over the flashcards for the psych exam?" Casey broke away from Sam after they exchanged warm looks, and Sam shook his head good-naturedly as her attention zeroed in on Derek, where it was usually focused.

"Is that today? Aw, man." Derek stopped at the door and pouted until Casey caught up to him and slipped her shoes back on. "Bye, Sam!" they chorused, already starting to bicker about the exam prep as they left.