Derek went straight home after school that day and stomped up to his room and flopped on the bed. Groaning into his mattress. This sucked.
Derek knew Casey would want answers to everything when she got home. And he was concerned she’d tell Emily about the weirdness at school. And the kiss on the cheek. His stomach hurt too much for this. He decided to put on some junk clothes and go get some pain medication.
Derek changed boxers and switched his pants into an old tattered pair of sweatpants so he would ruin the decent pair he had on at school. Casey was going to be home any time now. He tossed on an oversized hoodie and opened his bedroom door to see an overly perky Casey standing with her fist raised about to knock.
“Casey. I know I told you I’d explain but I need to get some Tylenol first. Move.”
“I… I actually brought some up with me.” Casey responded holding up a small pill bottle. “I wasn’t sure… but I figured you might need it.”
“Uhhh.. thanks Case.” Derek stood slack jawed.
“Can I come in?”
“Right. Yeah. I’ll be right back. Just wait here.”
Derek watched as Casey sat politely on the edge of his bed and fiddled with the blanket corner. She looked so… soft. Derek didn’t want to think about it. So he walked out of the room to the bathroom across the hall. He used the paper cups next to the sink to take the Tylenol and dealt with some other annoying shit. He didn’t notice until he was reaching for the bathroom handle that he was shaking. He suddenly found it hard to breath and his vision was distorted and fuzzy. It didn’t take long before he was sitting on the floor clutching his knees to his chest.
“Derek?” Casey called and knocked on the bathroom door. “Derek are you in there? I’ve been waiting for like 10 minutes! Come on!” The door knob jiggled but was locked. “Derek. Come on!”
Derek reached toward the door to unlock it. He didn’t want Casey to see him like this but his therapist had told him that it’s important not to isolate during panic attacks. And Casey understood panic attacks. Hell, she had like one a week.
Casey opened the door to see Derek with tears streaming down his face sitting on the floor like a scared kid.
“Der?” Casey addressed as she stopped down to sit across from him. “Are you okay?”
“Of course I’m not fucking okay! I’m a guy having a fucking panic attack like some chick.” Derek said as he wiped his face with his sleeve. “I fucking hate this. I didn’t want anyone to fucking know. And then at school… and then you’re just here. And you’re being so fucking nice… I hate it. I hate it! I don’t want to fucking deal with this! I also hate that you have no clue! You’re being so fucking nice and have no clue! Why?” Derek made eye contact with Casey setting his jaw in resolution.
“I don’t know. I have no clue what’s going on. But you clearly need someone to listen. I want to understand. Today at school, I was really confused. I don’t know why you needed a tampon…. But something told me to just do it. Then I get home and you’re clearly not okay. And I know it’s no fun to feel out of control and I guess I just want to be here for you. You’re my brother after all.” Casey put a big, seemingly forced, smile on after that last sentence.
“Step.” Derek corrected.
“Step. brother.” Casey agreed. “So do you want to sit here or go back to your room? Do you want me to stay with you? Or what? I expect answers eventually though Derek Venturi.”
“Yeah. You deserve em.” Derek stated flatly. “Let’s go back to my room. I’ll explain. Promise. But I think I need a nap first. And some chicken nuggets.”
Casey giggled. Food is always the answer to Derek’s problems.
“Chicken nuggets sound amazing!” Casey agreed.
Casey hopped up and reached down to help up
Derek, she smiled brightly at him. Her long brown hair was tied up neatly and her face was dusted pink. Derek was taller than Casey by a few inches and a lot bigger as far as muscle mass. When he stood up, he leaned over her and tried to be threatening but ended up blushing at the proximity.
“I’m going to sleep.” He stated as he left the bathroom to go to his room. He shut and locked the door before Casey could follow.
Derek woke up about half an hour later to the small of processed chicken wafting up to his room.
She really made Chicken Nuggets. Derek smiled to himself as he got up from bed, his head pounding from the panic attack earlier.
He made his way downstairs to see Casey McDonald dancing around the kitchen to some sugar coated boy band song. She grabbed an oven mitt and continued dancing as she got the nuggets out of the oven, not noticing Derek was watching.
Derek wondered where the rest of the family was before remembering that George and Nora said they were going away for the weekend and the kids went to stay with George’s parents. Casey and Derek were given permission to stay home alone because Derek had hockey and Casey had stated she had a big project due Monday and would enjoy the weekend of relative peace.
So it was just Casey and Derek. This would have been more interesting if Derek wasn’t cramping and faced with a complicated discussion up ahead. He could have planned so many pranks.
Casey was still oblivious to Derek’s presence, and he tried not to look at her ass as she danced to -was it Backstreet Boys or N’Sync?
“Ah! You scared me!” Casey yelped as she turned around with the tray of chicken nuggets. “I made nuggets. When you mentioned them earlier it made me want them too!”
“Did you make enough for you too?” Derek asked.
“These are mine Derek! But I did make extra for you.”
“Ah well as long as I get some.” Derek laughed as he grabbed a nugget from the tray and took a bite aggressively ripping it in half and regretting it because “hot! Hot!”
“Well duh! They just came out of the oven. Honestly, Derek, how did you even survive before me and my family moved in. You’re an animal.” Casey laughed as she handed him a glass of water.
“Shut up, Keener.” Derek finished his nugget and made himself a plate and sat across the island from Casey. “So.. do you want me to answer your questions now?”
“If you want to now.” Casey replied as she sat down with her own plate and poured honey over her nuggets.
“I don’t want to ever. But I will. And that's disgusting.”
“It’s delicious.” Casey snootily replied. “You’re just uncultured!” She laughed and shifted uncomfortably. “So. Why did you need period stuff today? And what was on your pants?”
“You didn’t recognize period blood? Geeze Case.. I knew you were oblivious but I figured someone who dealt with the devil’s waterfall would know what was going on.” Derek laughed but then fell serious. “I’m trans. I was born as a girl. But it was just wrong. I’m a guy. I’ve always been a guy. I am always going to be a guy. I’ve been socially transitioned since I was 7. I started testosterone when I was 14. I started getting periods at 13. I haven’t had one in like 6months. I thought they’d stopped. But I was wrong.”
Casey fiddled with her chicken nuggets and honey as she processed the information.
“So, you’re a guy. But you’ve got the biology of a girl?” Casey pondered.
“Does anyone in school know?”
“No. I transferred in 2nd grade. No one knows the old me here. I am 100% stealth. Which means you are the first person other than my mom and dad and siblings to know. And Edwin and Marti don’t know much. You probably know more than them now.”
“Okay. I’m glad I didn’t talk to Emily about what happened at school. When she asked what was going on… I don’t know why but I just told her that you were trying to get answers from the latest math homework.” Casey smiled softly, happy in the knowledge she didn’t ruin his secret.
Derek sighed in relief.
“Thank god. I actually was worried about that. But I’m better than you at math, so that was a horrible lie as usual.”
“Shut up.” Casey huffed. “So why didn’t you want me and my family to know? Does my mom know?”
“I guess I didn’t want you all to know about it. I wanted to just be Lizzie’s new brother and Nora’s step son. I didn’t want to risk being seen as anything but a guy.”
“What about me?” Casey asked at her exclusion.
“I… I didn’t want you to have blackmail material.” Derek covered.
“I see.” Casey paused. “Does this make me gay? Or bi?” She whispered under her breath trying.
“I’m a guy.” Derek responded a bit annoyed. “I’m just as much a guy as Sam or Ralph.”
“Wait. Why would you even say that?” Derek questioned.
“What are you talking about?” Casey defended.
“You asked if it made you gay or bi? Why would me being trans have shit all to do with that?”
Realizing what had happened Casey face turned beat red and she tried to back track.
“I know you’re a guy. You are obviously very much a guy.” Casey said gesturing to his body. “I don’t know why I said anything. My brain is just playing catch-up.”
“Casey McDonald, are you attracted to me?” Derek asked, putting on a sly smile.
“What?” Casey feigned innocence.
“It’s okay if you are. I’m very attractive.” Derek jeered. “I won’t tell anyone. Scouts honor.” Derek held one hand in a Boy Scout style salute with a chicken nugget between his index finger and thumb and the other on his chest.
“You don’t have any honor Derek!” Casey was almost a purple shade of red. Derek dropped his arms and leaned down against the kitchen island.
“Don’t tell anyone about this?” Derek’s tone dropped from the jesting nature to a more somber mood. “Promise me?”
“I promise. And you can’t either.” Casey looked steadfast into his brown eyes.
“Deal.” Derek smirked and winked at Casey before quickly finishing his chicken nuggets and heading back upstairs and leaving Casey to do the dishes.
A whole weekend ahead. Alone in the house with Casey. Who is accepting of who he is… and who he just found out likes him back. Derek laid in bed, his arms folded behind his head and stared at the ceiling, his face split into a shit eating grin before falling to sleep.