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Holding Back

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It was a typical tuesday, during a typical family dinner in the Venturi-McDonald household. Edwin droned on and on about his new hyperfixation - Dungeons & Dragons. Apparently, he was something called a ‘Dungeon Master’ and was super into world-building. As per usual, the family nodded along politely in pretend interest, with the exception of Lizzie, who interjected every now and then with her own quips, and Derek, who couldn’t be bothered to listen as he chewed his steak.

Even more typically, Derek, in his absolute boredom, plucked one of Casey’s fries from her plate and popped it into his mouth.

Perhaps the most typical of all was the way Edwin’s speech was cut short by Casey’s classic response: “DER-EK!”

A collective eye roll swept the table at this exhaustingly typical event. It was just the way Derek and Casey operated. Everyone knew that. It was useless to imagine they could be anything other than at each other’s throats, or to do anything but sit back and watch the show.

“You have your own fries!” Casey began her tirade. “Why do you always feel the need to steal mine?!”

“Because you make it too easy,” Derek responded, and in true Derek fashion, arrogantly stole another one.

“What - by sitting here eating my dinner and minding my own business?” Casey countered dryly as she edged her plate further away from him.

A grin spread over Derek’s features. “Exactly! You’re a sitting duck. You should know better than to leave yourself vulnerable to attack. Never let your guard down.”

“Or what? I’ll starve?”

The eyes of the family ping-ponged across the table helplessly.

“Possibly.” Derek shrugged, reaching for another.

Casey promptly smacked his hand away.

Scoffing, Derek mimicked offense. “Wait until everyone at school finds out that Casey never learned how to share!” he tutted.

“Please. You’ve never shared anything in your life, Derek,” Casey scolded, before aggressively spearing one of his fries with her fork. She held it up and waved it back and forth with a quirked eyebrow, her voice turning saccharine sweet. “Except for maybe mono.”

For the first time since dinner was so rudely interrupted, a new voice piped up. “What’s mono?” Marti asked the table, hating feeling left out, as she frequently did.

George and Nora floundered for a minute, looking at one another, until Nora spoke up innocently, “It’s uh… it’s like a bad cold.”

“You get it from swapping spit!” Edwin enthused, helpfully.

Ew!” Marti yelped. “That sounds fake. Like something parents say just to scare you.”

“It’s real,” Lizzie confirmed. “It’s sometimes referred to as the kissing disease. Though technically you don’t have to get it from -”

“Whatever,” Derek dismissed. “It’s not like Casey has to worry about that anyway.”

Edwin covered his snort of laughter with a cough and everyone looked to Casey, except for George, who was too busy sending Derek a disapproving look. Casey appeared to desperately hold in her reaction, trying her damndest not to throw a french-fry at Derek’s smug face.

“She’s just jealous,” Derek doubled down, “because she’s not getting any act-”

Cue the french-fry to the face, and another resounding screech of “DER-EK!!”

All Derek did was cackle in return, eating the snack that had fallen into his lap. “You’re starting to get the hang of this sharing thing,” he teased with a cocky wink.

Red-faced, Casey barked out a sudden laugh, which quickly shifted into something almost forcefully sarcastic. “You are... unbelievable.” She shook her head back and forth and turned her focus back to her food, cutting a piece of steak for herself, as if she gave up thinking of a true comeback.

Staring at her with consideration, Derek silently challenged Casey to retaliate in some small way, waiting for her next move in their game.

In a totally atypical turn of events, Casey simply smiled down at her plate as she pushed her food around. “I wish I’d never met you, Derek Venturi,” she sighed, with no acidity whatsoever. If the family didn't know any better, they would call it affectionate.

The awkward silence that followed was proof that this was out of the ordinary.

“Hmm…” Derek murmured thoughtfully. “Right back at ya, Case.”

This strange turn of events left the family wondering what the hell was going on with the two of them. But since that, in itself, was a typical question to cross their minds, they quickly disregarded it and finished up their meal, same as they did every night.



The full moon shone brightly into Derek’s window as he shifted restlessly under the covers.

When he heard the telltale creak of his door, he froze, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips.

Right on schedule.

The bed dipped and a warm body slid up next to him, smooth legs eagerly entwining with his own.

When Derek turned to welcome her, the moonlight cast over Casey's face. Her bright blue eyes glowed in the pale luminance and the adoration in them floored Derek for a second. He couldn’t help himself as his lips sought out hers.

To anyone else, this moment would seem completely out of the ordinary, verging on impossible. But this was not some cosmic fluke, there were no hidden cameras, bets, or dares to necessitate this. The full moon was just a coincidence. This was as easy as breathing for Derek and Casey. Kissing was second-nature to them - natural, familiar.

Barring a final exam in the morning, Casey snuck into Derek’s room every single night. Or he snuck into hers. They had been doing so, unofficially, for almost six months, and officially, secretly together and committed for about three months now.

The rest of the world saw them as enemies, constantly at war. But behind closed doors, in their own little world that only belonged to them, they were head-over-heels for one another, falling asleep in each other’s arms and sneaking back in the morning before anyone else woke up.

Breathlessly, Casey pulled away with a quiet giggle and they pressed their foreheads together.

“Hi,” she said sweetly, butterflies in her stomach.

Derek’s heart swelled as he ran the pad of his thumb over Casey’s hip. “Hi,” he echoed.

“I really missed you today,” Casey sighed, pressing in closer to his warmth.

“Hmm… what do you mean?” Derek asked, somewhat distracted by her proximity. “We have three classes together and we were both home all day,” he teased fondly. “You can’t get enough of me, can you?”

“You know what I mean, Der…”

Derek nuzzled his nose against her and tucked himself into her neck, giving her a light kiss at the base of her throat. He spoke over her soft gasp. “I do. I can’t count the number of times I wanted to just grab you and kiss you senseless.”

“You are driving me crazy…” Casey sighed happily. “At least we have this. These nights together.”

She was growing increasingly impatient through the days, wanting to escape to their little paradise where they could let their guard down. Talk the way they wanted to talk. Touch the way they wanted to touch.

When they did come together, under the shelter of darkness and affectionate touches, her pent up feelings would burst out from her uncontrollably. Even now, her hips writhed against him desperately, trying to ease the frustration that had built inside of her from keeping her distance during daylight hours.

“You - aah. Derr-ek...” she panted breathily, as he continued to nip at her throat, “I really c-can’t get enough of you.”

Derek steadied her waist in his grasp, holding back his urge to mirror the movements of her hips. “Shhh…I know,” he hushed, dragging his lips up to her jaw and peppering kisses over her face. She always made a big deal about them staying quiet, and then she would get super loud without realizing it. Derek wanted to avoid the subsequent panic and guilt that sometimes overcame her in those moments - he didn’t want anything to get in the way of their limited time together.

Groaning frustratedly, Casey tried to keep her voice down. It was getting harder and harder to keep herself under control. She had a very strict rule that they would not have sex or do anything remotely sexual in their parents house.

In other words, they never had sex before. Not even close. But god, she wanted him, more and more every night. They kept pushing the boundaries.

Even though they kept to activities above the waist, they were teetering on that line with wandering fingers, not quite touching, and teasing themselves and each other with the idea to the point of torture.

If the heavy bulge poking into her thigh was any indication, Derek was just as turned on as she was. Something twisted hotly in Casey’s stomach as she realized Derek was only wearing boxers.

She could admit Derek was better at this than she was, which was infuriating. He truly respected her ‘no sex in the house’ rule, which shocked her initially when he didn’t even try to argue. He just said ‘whenever you’re ready’ like the perfect, dreamy jackass he was. He was usually the one to pull back when things started going too far.

It was like they were playing a game of chicken and Casey kept waiting for the car to hit her. She secretly wished he would keep going, so she wouldn't have to accept responsibility for it by outright asking him. She didn't want to be the one to suggest breaking the rules, but she could allow herself to be tempted by him if he suggested it.

But of course, Derek just had to be a gentleman. Typical. She wondered, this time, if he really did just keep going, would she stop him? Part of her was convinced she would say 'screw the rules’ for once. But there was still that gnawing irrational fear she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to get over - a sense of panic that somehow the family would know if they ever crossed that line under their shared roof.

“The days aren’t so bad, either,” Derek soothed, analyzing her thoughtfully as he pulled back and noticed the contemplative look on her face, “I like teasing you all day. Playing around. Letting everyone think we can’t stand each other. You have to admit, it’s fun."

Casey’s face brightened; he had a point, she did find their daily banter pretty thrilling.

Derek tilted Casey’s chin up as he leaned in for another chaste kiss, “Just makes the nights that much better.”

In response to his cheesy words, Casey practically melted into him, and Derek circled his arms around her tightly, kissing her with all the depth of his affection. He was so in love with her. And he told her as much, every night - short of saying the actual words, which were always stuck nervously in the back of his throat.

Suddenly, Casey hooked her leg around him and pulled him close, kissing him with fervor as their bodies aligned. She let out a wanton sigh.

Derek mentally cursed Casey’s ‘no sex in the house’ rule as she grinded against him. The way she acted, he had no doubt that she was dying to take things further - a revelation that just blew his mind every time it came up. It took all the strength in the world to hold himself back from the edge, when all she was giving him was green lights.

If he went for it, they could take everything they had bottled up and let it out, like he was so desperate to do; touch her the way she wanted to be touched, make her feel so so so good, she had no idea.

But he couldn’t - not when he could already see the guilt and regret on her face, the typical freak-out: “What are we doing? This is crazy! What would people say?”

Not to mention, he figured ‘letting it all out’ wouldn’t exactly be quiet, so maybe she had a point after all. That would be one awkward breakfast.

So, that was what he kept telling himself when he limited himself to grinding and kissing, doing his best to savor the taste of her mouth.

Casey felt a rush of absolute pent up frustration pool between her thighs and she pulled away from the kiss, huffing angrily. She rolled Derek onto his back and straddled him before aggressively returning her mouth to his.

“Mm!” he vocalized in surprise, hands gripping her hips.

Unable to help herself anymore, Casey rolled against him, pressing rock-hard parts of Derek’s body right where she wanted him, with only a couple evil layers of fabric separating them - his boxers, and her satin pajama shorts.

In utter shock from going zero to one hundred so quickly, Derek groaned low in his throat. “Casey…” he warned, as they started veering into very dangerous territory.

Casey ignored the warning this time. It wasn't like they were having sex, they still had some time before they had to retreat - even if this was the closest they had ever gotten to crossing that line; she could feel every contour of him pressed against her.

She rolled her hips again, the sensation hitting her just right.

Derek let out a strangled moan at the movement, and Casey slammed her hand over his mouth. “Shh!” she scolded. She replaced her hand with her lips, swallowing the little sounds he was making.

He was still being too loud. She sat up in indignation. “Don't make me suffocate you with this pillow, Derek.” She hissed, hitting him with the pillow in demonstration.

Derek blinked up at her, finding her threat weirdly hot. He leaned up and grabbed her by the back of the head, bringing their lips together again.

They writhed against each other for a while, exploring each other’s mouths with their tongues, both trying their best to stay quiet.

Derek could feel himself getting close. He had never gotten off from dry-humping before, but this was some next-level dry-humping.

He had never gotten off with Casey before, period. They always stopped before things went that far. If he was being honest with himself, it was probably a miracle he hadn’t exploded prematurely in his pants in her presence a long time ago. It was perfectly warranted this time though; what they were doing was undeniably sexual compared to what they'd done in the past.

With the way she pleasured herself on him, stroking him off in the process… it was only a matter of time. And he felt a sudden pang of annoyance that she probably wouldn’t be able to get off like this. His fingers twitched over her thigh.

“Mmm. Casey…” he droned, his voice gravelly. “I want to touch you, so bad.”

The sound of this admission on Derek’s lips triggered something deep within Casey.

“Then touch me,” she sighed needily. He seemed to startle for a second, looking up at her with wide, hesitantly hopeful eyes, like he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Please, Derek,” she practically begged, lifting his hand to guide him. “Touch me.”

He started slowly, his touch light as a feather as he brought two fingers between them, pressing up against the wet spot on the smooth satin.

The ghost of a touch sent a bolt of lightning up Casey’s spine. She never realized she could be that sensitive down there. It never felt that way before when she tried it on herself.

It seemed all the pretending, fighting, withholding, and teasing during the day really did make things better at night. Or maybe it was just Derek.

She inadvertently let out a loud cry as Derek’s fingers started to move in slow circles and his other hand swiftly clamped over her mouth. When she had done that same thing to him, she hadn’t realized how hot the action was! She whimpered against his large palm, the texture of his skin tickling her lips.

She was completely shocked by her own reaction - the thought of him having to stifle her moans so that no one would hear them only drew attention to the fact that they were sneaking around together - that this was forbidden - that everyone in their lives thought they were enemies and they were doing this scandalous thing behind everyone’s backs. It should really make her feel guilty or something. But it didn’t. It only turned her on more.

It was too much, in the best way. She leaned forward, his hand slipping away from her mouth to catch her behind the head as she lay her forehead onto him. Her hips lifted slightly in the process, giving him a better angle to tease her. She whined into the crook of his neck, trying to muffle herself.

Derek continued to grind against her thigh as he teased her over the smooth fabric. The biggest turn-on for him was seeing Casey in this new way, voice wrecked with lust, body trembling.

They had never touched like this before, Derek worried, was this crossing a line? Would Casey regret this more than she enjoyed it?

“More?” he breathed, almost like he was begging, fingers tucking slightly under the fabric. If this was going to stop, he needed it to stop now; if he waited any longer, stopping would probably kill him. Please, Casey, have mercy.

Casey heard his true question: did she want him to stop?

Which - hell no! She was a runaway train at this point, completely hopeless under his touch.

“More,” she sighed resolutely.

His fingers finally found her, past the slippery fabric of her shorts, and Casey had to bury her face into Derek to stop herself from crying out.

As Derek experimented, finding all the right ways to push her buttons, Casey responded by leaving a small bite on his collarbone.

He smirked at the sting of pain. That was how Casey showed her affection - through little love bites.

During the day, she would throw things at him, or tug a stray piece of his hair when no one was looking. It helped that she could play it off as malicious if anyone noticed. He loved it; she was so cute and feisty.

Casey could feel her legs starting to shake, her knees squeezing Derek's hips. She was overstimulated by his fingers and the sheer heat of the moment. They stifled their moans in their kisses, as Derek grinded against her thigh and his fingers worked their magic.

For some (probably perverted reason), Casey couldn't stop thinking about how much she wanted Derek’s hand back over her mouth. She found herself moaning louder, like she was daring him to do it. It was so dangerous. But her own reckless sounds seemed to just spur her on in a positive feedback loop of insanity.

When she threw her head back, getting closer to release, she got exactly what she wanted, her scream being cut off by the firm press of his palm.

"Shh… baby," he whispered, words broken up by his own mounting pleasure. "We gotta be - shh…"

They had to be quiet, Casey reprimanded herself. They had to sell the act. God, what would people think? They thought she hated Derek, but she loved him, so much that it scared her sometimes. They thought she was so innocent… when truly, she was sneaking into her step-brother's room every night. There was this whole other secret side of her - sexy, exciting, daring - that no one but Derek knew about (even she didn't know that side of herself existed before she met him).

And now, there was an even more surprising side of herself to discover it seemed - a sinful, dangerous, thrill-seeking side that desperately wanted to take things even further… all the way, even. The images of her desires in the back of her mind of what she wanted to do with Derek, right then and there, while everyone was sleeping… were so… dirty. She never knew she could want so intensely.

She sobbed into his hand - almost there. "Der-eeek!" she whined, muffled.

It was the hottest thing Derek had ever experienced; he bit his lip to cut off his groan and his hips stuttered.

Casey's eyes widened at the look of satisfaction on Derek's face. Did he just…?

The reality made her blush. He had been giving her so much, she nearly forgot about what this was doing for him. She blushed deeper realizing how much she wished she could have touched him and helped him in the same way. He didn't seem disappointed though - far from it. He licked his lips as he looked up at her reverently, putting all his focus on pleasuring her. One night and he already knew the perfect angle, she had never been able to find on her own.

"That's it, Case," Derek praised softly. "Shh… good girl. Come for me, baby."

Casey whimpered. Who gave Derek the right to s-say those things to her and s-sound like that?

She couldn't help herself, she had to let go. Her mind pleaded with her to stay in control, stay quiet! She gripped his hand over her mouth, holding it there firmly.

It wasn't going to be enough! She was going to scream! She was going to - !!

She quickly ripped Derek's hand from her lips, grabbed his pillow, threw it over his chest, and plunged her face down, biting into it to drown out her cries, not a second too late.

After the initial surprise wore off, Derek chuckled and wrapped Casey and the pillow up in his arms with utmost fondness. She giggled in breathless embarrassment at her outburst and he kissed the top of her head, those tremendous words begging to be let out.

Casey sighed in bliss. What she felt for Derek was beyond anything she had ever dreamt of, and it took her breath away that she could have something like this, even if only in secret.

They lay in comfortable silence for a few seconds, before Casey missed the warmth of his chest, his steady heartbeat that comforted her every night, and she tossed the pillow away petulantly, snuggling into him like a cat, prompting him to laugh at her.

She sucked her lips in to stop herself from grinning as she tilted her head up to look at him. She was unable to withstand the sheer level of charm and affection on his face, and had to glance away briefly before peering back up at him.

It was such a privilege, Casey thought, to get to see this side of Derek. It was a lot different than the person he let everyone else see him as. He was so much softer and caring, and he was surprisingly romantic. Even though she knew this side of him was genuine, it still confused her every now and then, like she was constantly trying to put together the puzzle of the one true Derek Venturi from all the complex versions of himself.

There was the hockey captain, the jerk who spent years tormenting her, the witty flirt who teased her mercilessly, the dreamy (secret) boyfriend, and so many more. And she was in love with every single one.

The only thing stopping her from confessing that love to him was remembering that Derek had a side of him known for his fear of commitment. In their private nights together, it never seemed to be an issue, and in their daily life it was used as a cover for why he wasn’t dating anyone - but she still couldn’t be sure. And she was so scared of losing what they had - their small windows of perfection - that she couldn’t risk scaring him away.

But… the way he looked at her. He never failed to make her feel desirable, worthy, and loved. So, maybe he did feel the same way. She could hardly wrangle the explosive feeling of elation in her chest at the possibility.

Derek tucked a strand of hair behind Casey’s ear. I love you, his brain screamed at him, but before he could try and fail to say it, Casey interrupted.

“Why are you so beautiful?” she questioned, staring up in wonder at the way his eyes crinkled, his stupid dimples, and the light stubble on his chin. No boy had the right to be that beautiful.

“Beautiful?” Derek balked, suddenly embarrassed.


“Don’t you mean like, hot or handsome or something?” His ears reddened. He wasn’t used to being called beautiful. The way Casey said it with so much admiration and honesty, stunned him.

“Those too,” she agreed cheekily, propping herself up to pin him beneath her. She poked his face playfully and swatted at his nose; he rolled his eyes at her for acting so childish but smiled nonetheless. “Beautiful,” she whispered stubbornly before dropping a peck on the tip of his nose.

“Okay, okay,” Derek dismissed shyly, finding it difficult to look her in the eye. “Fine.”

Casey smiled proudly at the flustered boy beneath her, and then almost lost her breath when his gaze met hers, strong and unwavering, melting her to her core.

“You’re not so bad yourself.” He smirked.

A blush rose to her cheeks. She flipped her hair out of the way and affected arrogance. "Tell me something I don't know.” she bragged, her shrill tone revealing her true dazzled state.

Derek huffed out a laugh at how stupid and shy they both were, it was pretty pathetic. He brushed his thumb over the pretty blush on her cheek. “You know…” he said quietly, in sudden realization. “It’s been almost six months.”

Eyes sparkling, Casey felt the familiar swell in her chest. “You mean since I told you I couldn’t sleep and you invited me to sleep with you?” She shook her head fondly, “I still can’t believe you were bold enough to actually say that to me.”

“I can’t believe you actually took me up on the offer!” Derek countered. The minute he had said it, he cursed himself, escaping to his room before her shock could turn into appalled fury. But then she was in his bed with him, telling him ‘no funny business’.

Of course, the ‘funny business,’ gradually entered the playing field after several sleepless nights in a row of tension. It started with letting their skin brush, like it was accidental, leading to more deliberate touching and cuddling, and then kissing, and grinding.

“And I can’t believe it took you three whole months to admit you liked me, and for you to ask me out,” she teased.

“Had to be sure I wasn’t dreaming,” Derek joked coyly.

The true reason he took so long to ask her out was because when it started, they acted as if none of it existed during the day. Naturally.

He was honestly just following her lead on that one. Plus, he figured it would be too much for Casey to ever acknowledge it - that she would only go for the obviously wrong choice if it was just a fling that never bled into reality. He didn’t expect her to throw out all her life plans just to date him in secret, as much as he maybe wanted to (he thought if he built up the nerve to tell her that, she would just freak out and call it quits and he would be left feeling like an idiot).

But she started dropping passive aggressive hints that she was pissed they hadn't talked about it, and that she wanted more, and he caught on pretty quickly.

He'd pretended not to notice at first, and it was worth it to see the look on her face when he casually called her his girlfriend one night, playing dumb like he thought they had an unspoken agreement all along that they were together. She didn't buy that for a second, and insisted that if he wanted to be her boyfriend, he would have to ask her out properly. Of course, he obliged.

“Ugh, you’re unbelievable,” Casey blushed deeper.

“By the way… I would say I’m sorry about your rule,” Derek pondered playfully. “But we promised we’d never lie to each other, so…”

If Casey wasn’t red as a tomato before, she certainly was now. She couldn’t say she was sorry about it either. While the thought of doing something like that in their family's home freaked her out, she discovered that it also excited her and filled her with a dangerous thrill.

Also, when she first made that rule, she saw it as a sort of insurance. From the very first night, Casey knew what sharing a bed implied. And there were certain places she wasn’t ready to go yet. She needed to be able to take her time without any pressure, especially since she knew about Derek’s reputation.

(Of course, through her many deep conversations with Derek, she learned that his reputation as a sex god was greatly exaggerated - if by greatly exaggerated you meant completely fabricated. He was barely more experienced than she was, which was really saying something.)

The ‘no sex in the house’ rule seemed to be pretty useless now, all things considered. Sure, it was a risk to do anything in the house, but she didn’t need the insurance anymore.

She would make love to Derek in a heartbeat. It just felt right, and she was so ready. No reservations whatsoever.

“I’m not sorry, either,” she admitted, looking up at him through her eyelashes to find his dark pupils raking over her.

As hot as it was to sneak around and stay quiet, it was also frustrating. They spent all day keeping their distance. Their nights together were supposed to be the one time they didn’t have to hold anything back.

After so many months of backing off every time they started crossing a line, Casey was more than ready, she was aching for it. She just needed to get him alone - truly alone.

“That reminds me, actually…” she stated, nervously, placing her head on his chest. This would be easier if she didn’t have to look directly at him.


Casey let out a shaky breath, focusing on the soothing circles Derek was drawing on her back. “So… the skii trip is next week…”

Derek’s heart started beating heavily, imagining how their upcoming road-trip with Sam and Emily, sans prying family members, might relate to their previous conversation…

“Yeah…?” he said, trying and failing to sound casual. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself, but he had been thinking about the possibilities of that trip a lot recently.

“Well… I was talking to Emily? And, um…” she gulped. “Apparently her and Sam were hoping for some… uh, alone time together while we’re there? You know. And um. She kind of asked me if… well…”

Derek’s heart was practically doing jumping jacks. All he could do was focus on the adorable stuttering girl in his arms and hold his breath.

“If, uh. If I was willing to share a room with you, so that they can room together?” Casey paused for a second to take in Derek’s reaction. He was completely still. Then he let out a short breath.

“Oh…?” he asked nervously. “And… and what did you… tell her?”

His anxiety soothed Casey a little, knowing she wasn’t the only one freaking out. She fought off a smile at how adorable he was being.

“Don’t worry,” she teased, feeling her own nerves melt away as she realized she had the power in this conversation to make him even more flustered. “I played it off like I was reluctant, but eventually agreed to help her out. Sooo… I guess that means we can have some… actual alone time for once…” she recognized that new sexy version of herself in her voice.

“That’s -” Derek stuttered, “I- yeah. I guess so, huh?” He hated how lame he sounded. Was Casey implying that they…

A week from now…

“Uh huh.” Casey chirped casually. She could feel Derek’s thundering heartbeat under her ear and she nuzzled deeper into his chest victoriously, letting the following silence stretch out.

“I- uh- Case…” Derek finally said, “You know, just because we’re… I just don’t want you to think I’ve gotten my hopes up or some- I mean, I don't want you to feel like just because we’re gonna be - you know, alone. Don’t feel like you have t- if you’re not, you know, ready or whatev-”

“Derek,” Casey saved him. “It’s okay.” She boldly took a deep breath and looked up at him, cheeks absolutely burning. “You can get your hopes up."

There was no way she was going to change her mind. She honestly didn’t know how she was going to wait a whole week! She was really looking forward to it; it was bound to be a magical night.

The air whooshed out from Derek’s lungs and he chuckled unsteadily, squeezing her closer to him.

Whoa, okay. Keep your cool Venturi.

He had no idea how to respond to that; he was rendered completely speechless.

Casey loved the sight of a speechless Derek. She leaned up and captured his lips in hers, kissing him sweetly with all the promise of what was to come.

Derek sighed into the kiss. The closest word he could find to describe the sensation of kissing Casey was relief. He was so in love with her it hurt, it scratched away at him all day long wanting to come out. Kissing her soothed those temperamental parts of him.

He'd never wanted to say it out loud more than he did in this moment. But again, the words caught within him. He couldn’t say those words now. The timing wasn’t right - he couldn’t say it just because she implied she’d have sex with him (okay, strongly implied, but still).

He vowed to himself that he would tell her, that he would stop chickening out at the last minute.

This time, he was making a plan, holding himself accountable by picking a specific time to say it once and for all. He was going to tell her, the moment they were truly alone. In a shared hotel room where they wouldn’t have to hold anything back anymore.

He wasn’t going to hold back anymore.

He kissed her deeply, and Casey responded in kind. They continued lazily, tongues dancing slowly, hands caressing, for another hour at least, with little breaks in between to tell stories and make jokes.

It was later than they would usually stay up, but Casey wanted the night to last forever. Unfortunately, she had to pull away. “We have school tomorrow,” she reminded Derek sadly.

Derek knew better than to argue, though he was tempted to ask for at least five more minutes. “Yeah…” he sighed, then yawned. He was pretty tired anyway. “Probably a good idea to stop anyway. Any more and we might catch mono or something.”

“That’s not how mono works, Derek.” Casey rolled her eyes affectionately, “You can only catch mono if the person you’re kissing had mono in the last year and a half.” She did some quick mental math, realizing she had only been with Derek for six months. “Wait, you’ve never had mono before, have you?”

“How should I know?”

“De-rek!” she smacked his arm, “That’s not a proper answer!” He was laughing at her - he wasn’t even trying to pretend otherwise. She couldn’t help but grin back. She forced her lips into a pout, “What if I got sick, you jerk!”

“If you get sick, I’ll bring you chicken noodle soup,” he answered innocently.

“The family would check you into a mental institution if you ever served me chicken noodle soup to my sickbed.”

“I could rig some kind of covert soup delivery contraption.” He shrugged playfully. “But I couldn’t care less what the family would say. My Spacey needs her soup. I wouldn’t just infect you and then leave you hanging. I'm not a monster.”

They both felt the gravity of his playful words. They never entertained the possibility of telling the family before, though it had been at the back of both of their minds - would they ever go public? They definitely weren’t ready for that yet… but Derek’s words, that he didn't care what the family thought, opened the door, just a sliver.

“I’ll make sure to get a bell,” Casey laughed pleasantly, snuggling into Derek’s side the way they would normally fall asleep. “So I can summon you whenever I need something. It’s the least you can do for giving me the kissing disease.”

“I didn’t hear you complaining earlier when you stuck your tongue in my mouth,” Derek smirked.

Casey rolled her eyes. Her eyelids were starting to feel heavy. “Maybe you’re worth the risk,” she mumbled, before drifting off to sleep.



Casey snuck out early in the morning, like she always did, sharing a sleepy kiss goodbye with Derek. She usually got up pretty early anyway but she always added an extra wide-margin of time to ensure the rest of the family was still asleep. This time, she decided to crash in her own bed and get some additional rest.

Later, when she went down for breakfast, she saw the typical chaos in the kitchen, the family bustling around and chattering away. Derek leaned against the counter, absentmindedly texting.

She felt a chill go through her as she regarded the scene. Nobody knew what she was up to the night before. That her and Derek touched like that, under this roof, and that they had plans in the making to sneak off and have sex on their trip.

She felt a twinge of guilt looking at her poor ignorant mother. But that guilt disappeared when she caught Derek’s eye, and a thrill coursed through her.

He winked - the devil! Everyone else was too distracted to notice.

The corner of her lip twitched up by a fraction before she forced a bored expression. She continued her normal routine as per usual. Just a typical wednesday with her typical bowl of cheerios and sliced bananas.

Out of nowhere, Derek’s finger plunged into her cereal bowl, giving the mixture a swirl. Her eyes traced up his frame and she watched as he sucked his finger dry - his first move in their game for the day.

“DE-REK!” She screeched, “Gross! Stop messing with my food, you Neanderthal! Who knows where those fingers of yours have been!”