Derek Venturi could sleep through a tornado, usually, but that Friday night he woke up quickly to the sound of crying from the room next to his. He got up quickly and gently knocked on Casey’s door. No answer, he quickly opened the unlocked door and saw Casey McDonald tossing and turning in her bed. A nightmare.
“Casey!” Derek spoke to try and wake her from her dream. She didn’t seem to notice.
“Der… get away from… der..” Casey mumbled in her sleep.
“Casey! Wake up! You’re having a nightmare.” Derek crossed the room to her bedside. He noticed her laptop open to a news article about hate crimes toward transgender people. He felt his heart melt. He knew the stats, he knew the struggles. He knew that he was lucky. He was a trans guy, the girls had it worse, and he was successfully stealth in his daily life. But Casey… this is a new world to her.
“No!” Casey screamed out in her sleep. “Get away from him! He’s Derek! Leave him alone!”
Derek felt tears welling up in his eyes, Casey defending him in her dream world.
“Casey!” Derek called again shaking her awake. “Wake up!!”
Casey stilled and slowly opened her eyes.
“Derek?” She spoke softly. “Derek!” She called happily and reached around to hug him.
“Hey now!” Derek yelped pulling Casey off of him, but holding on to her hands. “You were having a nightmare and it woke me up. I just came to get you to shut up.” Derek softly turned a choked up cough into a chuckle.
“I’m sorry.” Casey responded by hanging her head in a bit of shame. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Ah it’s fine. Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?” Derek offered awkwardly.
“Yeah.” Derek sat on the edge of Casey’s bed as she sat up, pulling the covers up to her chin.
“They were hurting you.” Casey whispered. “I was looking up what I can do to help you and how to be a good ally and I saw all these stories of people getting hurt and hurting themselves. And I guess it got to me in my sleep. I’m sorry, I mean I’m sure you already know all of this. It’s just all new to me and I guess I didn’t do well at the thought of you getting hurt.” Casey rambled.
“No one is going to hurt me Case.” Derek stated calmly. “Sam and Ralph may not know, but one of Sam’s sisters is gay, and Ralph loves everyone. So if I can’t beat them up you know I have backup.” He laughed at himself. “Besides. I could take anyone. I mean look at these muscles!” Derek flexed grinning at her.
Casey giggled. “Promise me? No one will hurt you? Not even...not even you?” Her voice dropping to a near whisper. “In my dream,” she lifted her head to look Derek in the eyes, “it was you trying to hurt you. It was like you were two people. And one you was trying to get the other you.” Casey’s eyes teared up and she quickly looked down. Derek felt his own eyes stinging and instinctively pulled Casey to him in a hug.
“Casey. I promise. I will not do that. I’m happy with myself. I am. I won’t do that Casey. I promise.” Derek was filled with strange emotions. He was so happy that Casey cared so much, he was sad and angry she had to think all those things, annoyed that she thought he would, and exhausted from it being the middle of the night.
“Derek?” Casey spoke from her place in Derek’s right embrace.
“Can… you stay here tonight? Please? So I know you're safe.”
“Sure, Case. Scooch over.” Derek laid next to Casey in her bed and held her protectively. This isn’t how brothers act with sisters, he thought, but maybe this is okay. It certainly felt okay. They drifted off to sleep, Casey softly snoring in his arms. He softly kissed the top of her head. “I will never hurt myself, again.” Derek whispered barely audible to himself, and fell softly to sleep.
“Derek. Wake up.” Casey nudged him.
“What?” He grumbled with his face in a frilly purple pillow.
“Do you want chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast?” Casey chirped. Always the morning bird.
“You making them?” Derek asked.
“Of course! You always burn them!”
“I don’t not!” Derek defended, lifting his head to make eye contact. “But if you’re making them then I can sleep for a few more minutes. Goodnight Case.” Derek flopped his head back down and started loading snoring.
A few minutes later the smell of chocolate chip pancakes... and was that…. bacon? filled the house. Derek got up and trudged down stairs.
“Bacon too?” Derek smiled.
“Turkey bacon!” Casey corrected.
Derek’s smile dropped and he looked aghast at Casey.
“Turkey bacon is NOT bacon. How dare you?”
“More for me then!” Casey cheered, making herself a plate and going standing at the island looking over her day planner.
“What’s the plans for today? Some nerdy project like you told the parentals?”
“Yeah. I’ve got an extra credit science project due Monday.”
“Extra credit? Meaning not required? Wow. You really are a keener.”
“Shut up, Derek! Some of us actually care about our grades! Unlike some people!”
“I care! Just not as much! I have other things to worry about. Like a social life. And hockey!” Derek jeered, happy to have some normal banter back and not the heavy conversations from the last few days. “A being attractive.” He added winking at Casey. He didn’t say he wouldn’t flirt some though.
Casey's face turned beet red as she tried to think of a retort. “Yeah? Well…some of us are just naturally attractive and it doesn’t take any effort.”
“Says the girl who spends an hour in the bathroom every morning putting on makeup to look like that!” Derek remarked.
“Ugh! Derek! I look amazing!” Casey huffed as she turned to get some juice from the fridge.
“I didn’t say you didn’t.” Derek stated as she filled her glass. The glass ended up on the ground, the juice spilling everywhere. “Return of Klutzilla! Oh what I wouldn’t give for Sam to have seen that!” Derek howled in laughter.
“DER-EK! You caused this! You can clean it up!!” Casey yelled annoyed. “I have to go change now!” She gestured at her now juice soaked shirt.
Casey left Derek to clean up the mess to go change shirts. When she came back down stairs she was wearing a thin blue tank top that made Derek have to stop and catch his breath. She grabbed her planner and waltzed confidently over to his chair.
This means war.
“Out of my chair.”
“Get out of my chair Casey!”
“Why should I?”
“Because it’s my chair!”
“It doesn’t have your name on it?” Casey smirked and pretended to look all around for a name.
“Casey. McDonald.” Derek leaned down onto the chair with his arms on either side of Casey, his face inches from hers. “Get out of my chair.”
Casey, staring resolutely in Derek’s eyes. “Make. Me.”
Derek almost came undone. The knowledge that she found him even a little bit attractive added a new layer to their arguments.
“Fine.” He set his jaw and picked her up and spun so he was sitting in the chair and she was on top of him. He was honestly expecting her to move, but she stayed there. On his lap.
This was quickly turning into a game of attraction chicken. And he wasn’t sure who was winning.
Derek grabbed the remote and turned on Hockey. Casey, still in his lap, didn’t complain. She just sat there, eventually she found herself leaning on his chest.
Derek has had girlfriends before but he was always in a binder when they may have touched his chest and his “no pda” rule kept them from being so close in general so they never were able to notice a difference. This was the first time a girl was touching his unbound chest. Or sitting on his lap like this. He figured it’s make him dysphoric. But honestly, he didn’t mind much.
“Derek?” Casey mumbled. “How do you get your chest so flat during school. And how have I have never noticed it’s not flat at home?”
“I wear a binder. I’m also pretty flat chested anyway, thank god, so hoodies are enough to cover visually. And because I play hockey all the padding means no one notices.” Derek responded, it felt nice to be able to discuss this all with someone who wasn’t his dad, or mom, or medical professional.
“Does it bother you that I’m here? You seem fine with it but… do you want me to move?” Casey asked.
“No. I don’t mind.” Derek confessed. “Honestly. Please don’t move.”
Casey smiled and rested her head on his shoulder. Laying on him as he kicked up the recliner.
“Hey Case. I quit.”
“What?” Casey raised her head to look at Derek, confused.
“I quit the game. I know you find me attractive. I find you attractive. I know we’re supposed to be siblings or whatever…”
“Step.” Casey interrupted.
“Exactly. Step siblings. But I don’t think I’ll ever see you as a sister. Step or otherwise.”
“I feel the same. I mean. You’re loud, gross, and obnoxious… like I suppose a brother would be… but you’re also different.” Casey stated.
“Casey… also … I lied to you.”
“I said I didn’t want you to know I’m trans because I didn’t want you to have blackmail material, and while that was sort of true, I more just wanted you to think of me as a guy. I thought you were so attractive when I first saw you… I didn’t…”
“Oh my god! Derek Venturi!” Casey pushed herself up to look down at Derek. “You liked me first!” Casey laughed at some imaginary victory.
“Yeah maybe.” Derek conceded. He flipped his head down to half hang off the edge of the chair.
“So what’s this mean?” Casey asked. Of course she did.
“I don’t know. Want to go to a party tonight?” Derek offered with a large smile.
“What time?” Casey asked, her large blue eyes staring deep into his.
“Later. We can stay like this for a while longer. If you want.” Derek assured her.
“Okay. I can’t wait to go to a party with the Derek Venturi.” Casey smiled and winked at him before settling down and sneakily grabbing the remote to change it to some fashion design show.
“Casey!” Derek groaned at the change of station but made no effort to change it back.