"I am so sorry, Casey, but I don't have anything to offer you." The advisor smiled kindly, but regretful.

"Nothing? Absolutely nothing? No scholarships? No jobs?" She wagered.

The older woman shook her head. "Nothing. With the budget cuts, all schools are trying to save money, and the arts department is historically seen as superfluous. Money dry up faster here."

The brunette sighed. "I see. Thank you for your time, Professor."

Casey was in money problems again. It seemed almost ironic, with her being so controlled and serious, but in her defence, it was not really her fault. When she enrolled in Queens, she had a full scholarship, she would share an apartment with Derek and her mother would cover any other expenses.

However, her mom got pregnant with Simon and could not keep up with her share of the costs. Her father offered to help, but Dennis was irresponsible and forgetful, and would usually forget all about sending money, or he would send less than what was agreed upon. Then, on Sophomore year, Derek moved to the athletic dorm, leaving her to pay for his half of the rent, and while her tuition was mostly covered, when she declared an Art major, books and supplies were crazy expensive and out-of-pocket.

So, she had to come up with four hundred dollars before Spring Break if she was to buy every last thing she needed for the last leg of the school year.

As Casey motioned to leave, the advisor said, "Wait, I think I have something for you."

She opened her drawer and put out a sheet of paper. "I don't offer this to just anybody who comes asking because, well, it is unconventional and it can be mis-constructed."

"I am desperate, Professor. I take what I can get." She assured her.

"Very well…" The woman took a deep breath. "How would you feel about a modelling gig?"

Casey was normally a very modest person. Not for any reason in particular other than simple comfort and necessity. As an art major, one would come to find that it was too easy to ruin one too many nice clothes, and so they tended to wear much more than cheap jeans and t-shirts. Her hands were almost perpetually stained from oil paints or pastels and she would often find odd bits of clay underneath your nails.

That being said, she had very little qualms about posing nude. Yes, it was… Personal, you could say that, but the art students were, usually, very professional and focused. The body in front of them was not an object of desire, but rather an instrument of research and personal development.

At least it was like that for her when she was on the other side of the canvas.

Regardless, she had no other options other than a temp job in the service industry in Spring, and she needed that time to prepare her material for her finals, so she decided she did not mind it. Really, the most uncomfortable thing was holding a pose on what was often a small stool for such a long amount of time.

Other than that, though? She would be fine.

She pumped herself up one last time in the mirror and walked out to the studio, where the students waited patiently. So far, so good.

Her bare foot climbed up the small platform where she would be seated, and as she untied her robe, she saw him.

Derek Venturi.

"So, Derek…" The advisor said, holding a stern look on his face but with a soft and tranquil voice. "Your application is very good, and I see no reason to deny it, but I must ask, why do you want to switch majors?"

"Well, sir…" He started his rehearsed discourse. "I chose business out of a practical necessity. I know a career on hockey is short, and I need to have broad employment perspectives, but it was never my passion. Film is, and I want to pursue it. I owe it to myself to try."

"Passion is very different from talent, Derek. Are you sure you want to risk it?"

"Talent or not, I am a hard-worker. I want to do it, and I am sure I will succeed."

The man tutted. "Very well, then. I'll see for your transfer."

The young athlete beamed. "Thank you, sir. You won't regret it."

It is not like Derek lied to get an easier course load. If anything, he knows he can kiss his Summer goodbye. He also did not lie when he told he was passionate about film, which it absolutely was. However, it did take some rehearsing to get to the precise phrasing he used to be more convincing and to communicate what he called a Casey posture, so the university would not put any more hurdles than necessary for him to switch majors.

Not to mention, the fact that he did not laugh derisively when the advisor asked him whether he had talent was proof of how good an actor he was.

Because he absolutely had talent. Years of emotional manipulation and deceit made him a master of telling stories that moved people, and he had a great eye for images, he just needed to learn technique, and Queens would serve him just right.

"I can transfer your major credits for a minor in Business, so this won't be a problem for you in the coming year, but you are behind most requirements for a film student on your semester." He opened a binder and ran his fingers through a few pages. "Lucky for you, we can squeeze you into a few disciplines. Tell me, how well do you paint?"

"Very well." He responded, with confidence. He was good with drawing with pencil and paper, doodling his way through high school and coming up with rather nice pictures of cars and caricatures of annoying teachers.

"Good. You'll enrol in Painting. Report at this classroom at nine AM tomorrow."

He was rather reticent at first, but by now, it was quite clear to any passing observer that Derek really enjoyed his art lessons.

The hockey player was definitively not on the verge of becoming the next Picasso, as his easels were always crude and boyish according to his professor, but he relaxed during those classes, and he felt pride in having a physical product he produced out of his own two hands.

The guys on the team would often tease him for it, but he did not mind them, they were just a bunch of knuckleheads. However, to avoid headache, he would often remind them how tantalizing it was to be able to ogle someone naked for hours, just so you can make a picture of them and have it be called art.

Yes, it was puerile, but it worked, and it was, honestly, quite a relevant point of motivation for him. He just hoped the model would be some hot chick from the fashion department.

Finally, the day came. His eleven classmates and him were sitting on a semi-circle, waiting anxiously for their model to come out. When she did, well, he got what he wanted. It was a hot girl, a very hot girl indeed.

Casey looked at him dead in the eyes and shook her head slowly. She did not want him to say anything. If either of them communicated discomfort, or worse, their parentage, she would lose her gig, and the money with it.

Derek seemed stunned at first, but then schooled his expression back into a neutral pose. This was his work, as much as it was hers. He took a few deep breaths. If she can be a professional about it, so could him. It was important for them to be serious, so they put their feelings about the whole situation aside for the moment.

Neither acknowledged the other. She sat on the stool, took off the robe and stood still with a discrete smile, looking forward at no specific point, as he got on to work diligently, drawing his sketch on charcoal as if she was a bowl of fruit.

Somehow, as time went on, this situation felt more and more normal. The longer Casey posed and Derek worked on his painting, the better they felt about the whole situation. Eventually, he found himself more focused on how to get the shading on her hip just right instead of how delectable that small piece of white skin, where toned leg met slim waist, would feel on his finger.

As he focused, he set his jaw and his lips became dry, and so his tongue peaked out from between them almost unconsciously, something Casey had never noticed before. It was rather sexy, to see him focused like that. As she thought about his expression, her skin flushed, and she came to realize she flushed homogeneously.

When the timer finally went off, she visibly sagged in her seat, happy to finally get to properly relax. She stood up and stretched before tugging the robe back onto her shoulders and tying it up, looking forward to leave the room as soon as possible.

Now fully dressed and with a wad of cash on her purse, Casey left the classroom as if the Devil was tugging at her feet.

However, before she could go very far, a voice called from behind. "Casey, what the hell?!"

Her body froze and turned around slowly. "Mighty rich of you. What were you doing there?! Why do you insist in trying to humiliate me?!"

"Don't flatter yourself, Princess." He snarked. "I am enrolled, it's a requirement for my major."

"You study Business, Derek." She points out, angry.

The man shrugs. "I switched majors. I am a Film major now."

She gasped, making a 180 on her position, and hugged him. "Oh my God, Derek! You did?! Congratulations! I am so glad for you."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever." He sneaked off her embrace. "Now, why on God's name were you posing nude?"

She sighed. "I was needing some money, and that's what the department offered me."

"Dennis came up short again?" He asks, a little more empathetically.

"Four hundred dollars." She responded. "And I can't reach him on the phone."

"Hey, do you wanna see my drawing?" He asks, trying to change the subject on her benefit.

"I'd love to." She said, excited, and then a little more warily, "This better look nice Venturi, or I'll be kicking your shins."

He gave her a nervous grin, as she peered at his painting. "Hopefully it's up to snuff then."

She stared at the drawing in quite a bit of surprise. She had never really seen a portrait of herself that filled the observer with such a massive amount of warmth. It was nearly impossible to explain, but there was something about how he had made her come alive on the canvas. She seemed to glow from within. Her expression seemed alive enough that someone could almost follow your gaze off the page and see whatever was making her look so amused.

"Derek… This is beautiful." Her voice was soft, with just a tinge of awe in it. "I can't believe you were able to make this on just Introduction to Painting to get on."

He seemed a bit flustered at her praise. "I just painted you how I saw you."

When Derek looked back up at Casey and saw her admiring expression, something in his gut told him that he had given himself away but looking back at the painting he was not entirely sure what he had done. Her respect meant a lot to him, and he wanted to bask on her approval of his work.

"Hey…" She broke the silence. "Would you like to have dinner back at our old place? I can cook something nice, and we can chat for a while. If you are up for it, I mean."

He smirked. "I never turn down free food."

Back in her comfortable clothes, Casey felt quite at home. Sure, she did not mind posing, it was and had been very professional, but being naked in front of strangers was not that pleasant of an experience, and she missed the comfort of worn in jeans and her favourite t-shirt.

She had ushered Derek into the apartment. She still lived alone, as she could not find anyone who would want to share an apartment with her. Her keener reputation followed her into Queens, and she did not feel so comfortable about offering the room up on a paper or on internet.

Immediately a flush came to her cheeks, perhaps some ideas were going through Derek's head? It was not a good idea to assume anything was going to happen tonight. Ever since they moved to Kingston, they tended to have a rather intense back and forth, a different kind of intense, something on the way of an sexually-charged détente, but it had never gone very far.

Well, not very far except for one time when they were hosting the Hockey team back on freshman year. Casey insisted for Derek to invite the boys over, and they had dinner and a game night. Since they did not have as many chairs as guests, she had to sit on his lap the entire evening, with his arms around her waist.

His friends thought they were dating for months, and, because of that, she would send them cookies on game days.

That was fun.

She set her keys on the kitchen table and flicked on the light. For a moment she struggled with what to talk about, until the obvious choice came to her lips. "I must confess, I didn't expect to see you there. Not in a million years."

He flushed just a bit. "Well, I wasn't expecting you, either. I think I've got a right to say I was the more shocked one don't you think?"

She gave him the best flirty smile she could muster, as she sat atop the kitchen table in front of him. "You know, this is the part where you say it was a pleasant surprise, you know?"

Derek felt his own face start to turn red, though noted that her neck and cheeks had begun to flush as well. It seemed that he had gathered a pretty good guess as to what turned her so red earlier while he was painting her.

All of a sudden, she saw a far too attractive lopsided smile appear on Derek's face. "Of course, it was a pleasant surprise." When she grew more flushed, he stood up and all of a sudden, she found herself looking up towards him. "You're blushing."

"I don't know if I'd be pointing that out in other people there Derek. Especially since your face was almost as red as the Canadian flag when I first got undressed." She grinned as she saw the blush start again once more and pushed legumes and a knife into his hands. "Now, c'mon, you're on chopping duty."

"Sure, Princess."

Like most times after having a large meal with a friend, and hours with the TV playing a stupid movie or late-night show in the background, Casey found herself fairly drowsy, and Derek looking not too far behind. A glance at the alarm clock on her bedside table showed it to be 2 AM.

With that newfound information, she turned to him with a small frown. "Hey, Der, do you want to spend the night? It's pretty late for you to walk back to the athletic dorms."

He gave a small nod, as he rubbed at his eyes. "Thank you. Though if I didn't know better, I'd say you were just trying to get inside my pants."

She laughed. "No, I'd be a lot more obvious. Like that time I sat in your lap all night."

There was a wicked twinkle in her eyes, as Derek looked at her in surprise. Something about late nights and sleep deprival always made her more truthful and this was no exception.

"You were trying to seduce me then?" He asked, floored.

"Well, there were no chairs, but I could sit on the floor, couldn't I?" She said, looking rather detached. "I sat on your lap with the sole purpose for your friends to think I was your girlfriend."

Sher tone was just light-hearted enough that he was not entirely sure if she were being serious. However, there was an easy enough way to test that. Gently he tugged she into his lap once more, and watched as the playful expression seemed to melt into one with more trepidation. "Is this not alright?"

Quickly she shook her head. "It's alright."

Once more she found herself shockingly close to Derek. Enough so that she could see every detail on his handsome face even in the dim light from the TV.

"You're sure this is alright?"

Her nod was quite enthusiastic this time, with a tiny yet excited grin on your lips. "Yes." She changed your position so she was properly straddling him. "Are you sure this is alright?"

His hands fell to her hips, and the second she heard Derek say yes, Casey leaned into crash her lips against his, and her hands gripped fistfuls of his shirt to keep him close to her.

She was grinning all the while, as his hands on your hips kept you firmly against him.

Derek broke the kiss only to press his lips against her throat, an action that led to her letting out a breathy laugh. "We should have been doing this sooner, Der."

"You're telling me." He tugged a bit at her shirt, before nipping at her neck. "Now, what's the chance of you letting me paint you naked again?"

She leaned towards his ears. "Only if it's a series, and if you're very thorough."