Okay, so it took me forever to post this... I thought it was cursed, and that I'd never get it posted... Heather can testify to it, but anyways... Here it is.

It's a one-parter, and weird because it's partly inspired by Cruel Intentions, and then the touching part from Memoirs of a Geisha, kinda.

I don't own Casey/Derek, Lizzie, Edwin, Marti, Nora, George, Sam, Emily, Vicky, Sandra, or any aspect of Life With Derek. Anyways, songs and diary entries are in italics.

There's a point where the game changes. A point where it's no longer about rules and space and attitudes. Suddenly it's all about crossing boundaries and digging up dirt. But in the end, it isn't really the game that's changed; it's the players.

Three years have gone by since the McDonalds moved in. Three years since the Venturi household was changed irreversibly. Three long years, and they've all changed.

For the better, for the worst, but mostly, they've just... changed. Things are just so different now, and they won't ever be the same.

However, things aren't that different. Lizzie and Edwin are still spies and mediators to their elder brother and sister. Lately, the competition between Casey and Derek's been heating up, so they have to meet up more often.

It's true, but on some level it's an excuse to see each other more often. Like how they meet in the game closet at night sometimes to kiss... Or when they go up to his room and read Casey's diary, the real one, not the fake one he shows Derek. And he laughs and she giggles and sometimes they copy down one of Casey's real entries for him to see, just to throw her off. Sometimes they even go to movies together, but not as often as they'd like.

Yes, the competition between the two titans has been heating up for three years. And yes, it was reaching its head. But Lizzie and Edwin aren't like their siblings. They don't care about the rivalry; to them, there are no prizes, no wins, no losses... They just roll their eyes at their older siblings' stupidity, making fun of them.

But they do what their siblings ask of them nonetheless because Casey's a good sister, and, well, Derek can beat Edwin up. After all, it's easy to see what they're up to... And why should they have any qualms over something that only brings them closer together?

You can't get any closer than family, right?

It's stopped being a physical thing between them.

Nowadays he won't even lay a finger on her. Unless he has to, or if it's an accident. Like sometimes, when he passes her the mashed potatoes at dinner, or if he gives her the remote (a rare, rare occasion), and maybe if he helps her up or keeps her from falling from time to time. But other than that? Nothing.

If she was smart, not that she isn't or anything, she would use that against him. That, however, would mean that she would actually have to condescend to touch Derek, and, well, who knew exactly where he'd been lately? Anyways, she wasn't the type to do that. Casey McDonald remained a somewhat-aloof Ice Princess, an unaccessible mountain.

That was far from the truth. Casey had mellowed just a little and was now only a little less popular than Derek himself. She was also a great deal kinder than her "evil stepbrother". And yet, Casey "Klutzilla" McDonald was a dateless wonder, though not from lack of trying. She held guys back at a distance already, but it didn't really help that Derek had the nasty tendency of scaring off any potential suitors.

Jealousy's a funny thing.

The new mode is psychological warfare... It's all a mental thing.

He tries to read her diary, hoping for some insight. Her entries are cold, clipped, and don't yield much. Sometimes it's just a few sentences, other times nothing, and still other times, there's something long. But only if he's very lucky. That's not her real diary, of course, but he doesn't know that. Few things are detailed within it... Boring club meetings... Student government, set painting, debate, the Dance Committee, stuff like that. She makes it a point to mention him as little as possible, a fact that she knows will irritate him. On the other hand, she rambles on and on about other cute guys just because she knows it pisses him off.

She raids his room for his little black book and song lyrics. He's in a band now, with Sam and some other friends... Maybe that Johnny guy? She doesn't remember. All she knows is that Derek plays lead guitar, writes all the lyrics, and does some singing from time to time... He's not bad, far from it actually, but she'd never tell him that. Just like he will never tell her that she's so smart and eloquent and that he's actually proud to be her stepbrother...

His little black book, on the other hand... It's not that little anymore. It's filled with the names of various girls from all over... Canada, the U.S., girls he met on vacation... Near or far, here or there... Girls, girls, girls. He's got a full page on Casey. One he's insured that she will never see. On her page, there are no flippant comments like he has on the others, like "Very fun.", or "Slut.", or "Good Lay." Just a profile filled with glowing compliments that she will never, ever see.

Lizzie and Edwin photocopy some of the pages and give them to Casey. Secretly, Edwin photocopies them just because he wants some of their numbers, but, well, what's a boy to do?

A lot of them are Casey's friends. This is intentional. Derek's marathon dating has always bothered Casey, even before... So dating has become his weapon against her. He has a new girl nearly every day, and his Flavors of the Week hang around the house all the time. She looks at them with the same disdain as he shows her potential suitors and critiques them sarcastically under her breath, usually to Lizzie. But if it's possible, Derek likes to date her friends so she has to hear them go on and on about him... So she has to see them kissing around the house... So she has to wonder, why them?

They have verbal fights more often nowadays. It seems that they've both gotten better at arguing after all these years. They've since mastered the art of speedy comebacks, hitting below the belt, and subtle, benign-sounding remarks. The right things to say just come to them. Like the way she makes cracks about his grades, holding hers over his head... Or the way he mocks her lack of boyfriends...

Sometimes it really stings.

"Oh, no, it's fine... Someone in the family has to get straight A's."

"And who in the family gets dates?"

"The same person in the family voted most likely to get a sexually transmitted disease, i.e. you."

"It's better to get as much as possible than none at all."

"Some of us have standards."

"If you set your standards too high, then no one will ever measure up, and you'll wind up alone for the rest of your life."

"At least my standards prevent me from going out with the bottom-feeding sluts that you're so fond of."

"Didn't know you were a lesbian, Case..."

"With guys like you roaming the Earth, I'm almost considering it..."

"Guys like me?"

"Yes, Derek, manwhores like you. Guys like you are a dime a dozen. I'm afraid I'm going to get an STD from just sharing a bathroom with you. I can't imagine how bad it must be for the girls you screw."

"I haven't gotten any complaints yet... Why don't you ask Sandra, Vicky, and Emily for me?"

"I don't get what they saw in you."

"A better question would be what didn't they see in me..."

"They saw that Sam wasn't available."

"Oh, haha. That's funny, because last time I checked, Sam was getting all hot and heavy with Sandra, and Emily and Vicky still picked me."

"Their taste is highly suspect."

"Hey, you chose them as friends..."

"And you just had to choose them as girlfriends..."

"You know what they say... Whatever Derek wants, Derek gets..."

"Could your ego get any bigger? Honestly, you're referring to yourself in third-person!"

"Oh, Casey, dear, everything about me's big. Not that you would know, Ice Queen..."

"Well, at least I'm not the school slut!"

Casey and Sam had dated for a while. At least two and a half years because they had started going out half-way through Casey's first year in the house. They had an amicable relationship, very balanced and healthy. But their relationship was lacking in other categories... chemistry, for instance.

How Casey hated that she felt more chemistry with her stepbrother than her very own boyfriend. Sure, Casey and Sam knew each other very well, but not near as well as she knew Derek, which is to be expected, as she and Derek lived together under the same roof. Their relationship was sweet, innocent, comfortable. The butterflies she had once felt had long since faded. Kissing Sam was pleasant, but there was something missing... She was bored.

Once, long ago, they had been a happy couple in the throes of puppy love, Casey's first love. Somewhere along the line, however, they had both changed. It wasn't necessarily a bad change, but it wasn't a good change either. They were different people, and they just didn't fit anymore. Their break-up was mutual, and neither were hurt by it... But Casey hadn't really dated since.

Derek had never liked the whole relationship in the first place. It sickened him to think about his best friend with his stepsister, and then there were his own feelings, which complicated things even further... In fact, one of the reasons she'd kept dating Sam was simply because it irritated Derek. She realized that that was probably the stupidest, most petty reason to keep up the charade, and she knew, on some level, that Sam didn't deserve it, but... She just couldn't let Derek win.

Indeed, Sam and Derek had never been better friends than when he and Casey broke up. Technically Casey had initiated the break-up; all the unhealthy comparison between Derek and Sam was getting to her. It just wasn't... right. It didn't seem right that she was only dating Sam to piss his best friend off. Or that she knew her stepbrother better than her own boyfriend, well, just fill in the blank...

It still disturbed her, knowing that this rivalry had become such a big part of her life.

Dear Diary,

I broke up with Sam today. No, I shouldn't say that I broke up with him when it was mutual. It went as well as could be expected, I guess.

I mean, it's sort of like... the end of an era. We were just so comfortable together.

I hope he's happy. I know this is for the best.

At least, that was the entry that Derek saw. Woefully shorter and less revealing than the real thing.

Dear Diary,

I couldn't stand it anymore! All the comparison got to me. I'm woman enough to admit to that... It drove me completely insane, kind of like Derek does. I just... I knew I couldn't deal with it anymore, so I told Sam we needed to talk.

I told Sam how there was no one else, you know, the whole "it's not you, it's me" speech? We didn't have much chemistry, I was getting kind of bored, and things were too... easy. I thought Sam was going to be sad about it, but it turned out that he had been feeling it too, not that it was that hard to miss, I guess.

He took it really well, almost too well. He was just so... cool... about it. Did he want to see other people earlier and was too polite to point it out? What if, what if he's been cheating on me! No, no, no... That's completely insane. Derek would've told me if that was true... wouldn't he?

Oh, I don't know... It sort of hurt to break up with Sam. He was my first boyfriend, after all. There was just this complete security and safety I felt around him, being with him... It was comfortable being Sam's girlfriend, comfortable like my favorite t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. And it was sort of easy with him, you know, none of those pointless I-can't-eat-I-can't-sleep-I-can't-breathe-around-you-always-thinking-about-you butterflies. That's so screwed up.

I mean, we were together... in a relationship... A romantic relationship! I should have those kind of feelings for him... but I didn't. I didn't even lust after him really. I don't quite understand why. It's... strange.

And what's even stranger is the guy I'm starting to feel differently towards... I would have never thought of it in a million years. But I guess love is like that, right? Real, true, honest-to-God love? Not that I'm in love with this one particular guy or anything, or that I really even know a thing about love...

I guess I just feel... different.

I break up with my boyfriend of over two years and I just feel... different. I suppose I should. It's only natural, right? We've been together so long...

I'm not sure what exactly to do with myself now that I don't have Sam. Date, I guess?

I suppose it couldn't hurt... could it? Wow. Dating again... Did I really make the right choice there?



This page had been violently ripped out of her real diary, crumpled into a ball, and tossed under her bed. Sweaty hands made the ink run a little. She threw it under there to be forgotten, buried, hidden away for eternity.

And on some level it was. That is, until Derek snuck into Casey's room for a good, old-fashioned raid, and saw it sticking out from under her bed, half-obscured by a sheet. He picked it up, reading it on the short walk across the hall to his room. He had adopted the paper as his own, and was currently taking it to a better home.

He treated the worn piece of paper with great care, taking the time to smooth it out, stare at it for what seemed like ages, and then, finally, smelling it. It smelled like her. And it was on this note that he memorized it and slipped it under his mattress, smiling all the way.

He would take it out every day, oftentimes in the middle of the night, and read it. Sometimes he'd just stare at it, taking in the minute details. Other times he'd whisper the words to himself like a lullaby. And once in a while, he'd clutch it to his chest, sniffing it, in an effort to reassure him, to relax him... And, hugging that paper to his chest, he'd make promises to himself that he knew he'd never keep.

And rarely, very rarely... Once in a blue moon, really, he'd kiss the paper. Sometimes it was brief, a fleeting peck. It was sometimes jubilant, sometimes celebratory... but it was also sometimes mournful, desperate, wanting. These were the times when he let his lips linger, soft yet firm, lightly against the letters, aching and longing for something... someone. Yearning, willing, and fantasizing... Speculating cluelessly, helplessly, hopelessly, on the identity of Casey's mystery man.

Hope is a fragile thing, even to the jaded.

George and Nora were, as usual, absolutely clueless to what was going on with their kids. Well, that's probably incorrect word choice. I should say that they had no idea what was simmering between their two children, the rivalry, the sparks...

They knew what was going on on the outside. They weren't blind to Derek's never-ending stream of girlfriends. In fact, they'd caught a few leaving his room and bawled him out for it. They also weren't blind to Casey's lack of boyfriends. They didn't quite know what to make of it; they just thought that she hadn't yet gotten over Sam, which was so far from the truth it was laughable.

They didn't even notice when Casey and Derek insulted each other subtly at the dinner table.

And Lizzie and Edwin? They had even less of an idea what was going on there. They just thought it was cute that they were getting so close. Edwin was being a better big brother to Lizzie than he was to his own blood sister, and it was just so precious. Please. He was more of a boyfriend and friend to Lizzie than a brother. Not that Nora and George noticed that.

No, they didn't notice much of anything outside of themselves.

She thinks that I don't see

That way that she looks at me

And she thinks that I don't know

What she's really thinking of me

But, baby, here's a newsflash

It looks like you might just need it

I see right through all your lying mindgames

And, though you might throw the biggest fit

The truth is, fundamentally, we're the same

So I know you as well as I know myself

Oh, yeah, we let this fierce rivalry

Define our separate existences

These acts we put on, these roles we play

It's run amok, gone awry with our history

And suddenly, we're losing our control

The control that we've kept so strong

And that we've kept on for too long

But, baby, here's a newsflash

It looks like you might just need it

I see right through all your lying mindgames

And, though you might throw the biggest fit

The truth is, fundamentally, we're the same

So I know you as well as I know myself

You and me, yeah, we're so twisted

You're my perfect mirror opposite

I'm Mr. Popularity, king me, and

You're just a pretty girl in my world

Our feelings aren't exactly right

That's not what we tell ourselves at night

But, baby, here's a newsflash

It looks like you might just need it

I see right through all your lying mindgames

And, though you might throw the biggest fit

The truth is, fundamentally, we're the same

So I know you as well as I know myself

And I only let myself think about it

All alone in my bed in the middle of the night

What would it be like if we were together

Sure, maybe it wouldn't be for long, but

Maybe, just maybe, it could last, maybe even forever

She'd been in his room, snooping, when she spotted it. Well, not exactly snooping. Truthfully, she'd been looking for something that had been missing for a long time, and she was almost certain he had it.

He didn't, of course.

But then she'd spotted the CD, just carelessly laying there, all alone and out in the open on his desk, right next to his computer. As if he'd just burned it, which he had, of course. She'd been so curious that she just had to pick it up. A shiny silver disc with DEMO – "A Challenge" written on it in black permanent marker in Derek's messy scrawl. The words were smudged a little from his hands touching it too quickly. She could see his fingerprint in the C. Fascinated, Casey placed her finger on top of his fingerprint, simply staring at it for a moment.

There was an impossible reverence in her movements. Her slender fingertips brushed over the tall stem of the H, circled the O, and descended greedily upon the double L's, fingers flicking up and down, in and out of their messy loops. She traced them gently with an unfitting amount of care, wanting to memorize the feeling. She closed her eyes for a moment of silent meditation before they snapped open again. She had decided something, and with this revelation, she dramatically, with an unnecessary flair, snatched the CD up in her hand.

Hearing Derek's work boots (he always wore them to gigs, always) tramping up the stairs; Casey quickly palmed the CD, hiding it behind her back as she slipped out of his room, gliding silently into her own.

It was as if she had never entered his room, well... almost.

You wouldn't know it if she didn't have the evidence in her hand. Her palms were sweaty all over with nerves, and she sighed, relieved, slumping against the wall, as she heard Derek stomp past her closed door and into his own room. She caught her breath, arching her back against the wall, knees to her chest, but only for a few minutes.

Then she tenderly wiped the sweat off of the disc with the hem of her shirt. The oily fingerprints vanished with the sweat as only the pattern of the fabric remained. She forced her weary bones up, strolling over to her CD player. She carefully placed the fragile disc inside of it, pushing the earphones in her ears, and pressing that fatal play button.

She was surprised by what she heard. It was Derek singing, of course. It was, however, sort of reminding her of Brit Pop... Kind of like Oasis. But not quite... It was more hard, classic rock and roll. Sort of... impossibly difficult to explain, rather like the singer himself. She knew that it was good right off the bat.

It was so good, in fact, that she listened to it over and over, again and again... Letting it play on repeat like a broken record.

Maybe this was about more than the music.

It was definitely about more than the music. She listened intently to every word, feeling it repeating, resounding, and ricocheting in her head. Her fingers toyed with the wire connected to her CD player, coiling it round and round her finger, anxious, biting her nails, chewing on her hair wetly.

Finally, after a lifetime of doing this, dragging her teeth hard across her lips so severely that she finally drew blood, she gave in to her inner desires and grabbed a piece of paper and a pencil to scribble down the lyrics. It took her an eternity of listening to finally get down all the words, but she did it, memorizing the song as she transcribed it. Then she went to bed, the words of the song still in her head.

She listened to that song every day. Every day. She hummed it to herself in class. She sung it in the shower. She lived, breathed, ate, and loved that song. It made her become creative. She planned out complex dance sequences to it, wrote accompanying girl vocals to it, wrote songs about it... She was their biggest fan, after all, and not just because of Sam. Not anymore.

But above all else, Casey reflected on the identity of Derek's mystery girl... She had her suspicions, after all, but were they right?

Surprisingly enough, contrary to what you might think, Casey had not gotten more graceful over the years. In fact, she was currently living up to the name Klutzilla even more than previously. Especially around Derek, who was none too pleased with the prospect of her touch. None too pleased at all.

For instance...

She brushed against him in the hall, and he nearly came unglued. He stiffened immediately, and she smiled a knowing smile to herself. It was nice to realize that she could still affect people like this. Maybe she wasn't as much of an Ice Queen as Derek credited her for being. She continued to walk down the hallway, navigating her way through all the people, brimming with glee. Behind her, Derek stared and scowled unhappily, but she continued brightly on her merry way, oblivious.

Her chestnut hair whipped around carelessly under the vent, hitting him like a slap in the face, right in his eyes, so that it momentarily blinding him. This time he almost walked into a pole. His eyes narrowed in anger while Casey giggled with her friends, unaware of what had almost happened. Or was she, he wondered irritably... Why was she suddenly so smug? Derek stomped back to his lunch table and spent the rest of his meal scheming moodily and snapping at his ever-helpful buddies, Sam especially.

There she was, sitting in his desk, bare legs crossed over its surface, animatedly telling Emily a story. Her eyes were bright and her cheeks were flushed. She looked so happy that Derek hated her for being so carefree and pretty. He cleared his throat loudly, pressing a hand onto the desk, leaning forward expectantly. Her expressive eyes went wide with realization. Oops. She mouthed him a sorry, sliding her legs off and under the desk in a fluid moment. She planted her hands firmly upon the desk, pushing herself up, and he grew increasingly unnerved as her wrist brushed against his. She had moved it quickly enough, but he could still feel it against his wrist, the warmth. Casey smiled embarrassedly, as if she didn't know what she'd done, shrugging and moving to talk to Emily. He gritted his teeth in annoyance. He was letting this girl, this stupid girl, get to him.

Her forearm accidentally touched his at dinner. His breath sped up involuntarily, as did his blood pressure. He accidentally knocked the chicken drumstick off his plate. Nerves... He was clearly not amused. But Casey failed to even notice, laughing instead at Edwin's lame computer joke, which she seemed to think was hilarious. For some reason, this bothered him... a lot. When she did look over and notice, she bit her lip nervously, blushing a little, and scooted her chair farther away from his. Relieved, he smiled and gazed heavenward in thanks while Casey frowned to herself, puzzled. Why was a simple touch such a touchy subject for Derek? Peering over at a thankful, beaming Derek, she bit her lip again, feeling her curiosity grow. Oh, she was going to find out. She was absolutely certain of that.

Sitting on the couch together, watching a kids' movie to satisfy a sick Marti's desire for family bonding, her leg leaned against his as she adjusted the blanket on her lap. Wide-eyed, annoyed, and going insane, Derek's head immediately swiveled to face Casey so quickly his world spun. Seeing the somewhat-crazed look on his face, Casey frantically took steps to move her leg, scooting further and further away from him. Derek's posture relaxed immediately, and he stretched a little on the couch, once again content. Casey, however, pursed her lips. Just what, exactly, was up with Derek? Why didn't he want her to touch him? He was a very touchy-feely sort of guy, and it was just an accident... Right?

She tripped going down on the steps and grabbed him in a futile attempt to keep from falling. However, as she reached out for stability, Derek himself nearly took a tumble down the stairs, surprised by the sudden addition of extra weight. Her nails dug into his back painfully. But he managed to stop and turn around as she steadied herself. Oops. She laughed nervously, swallowing hard, knowing that Derek was not in a mood to be messed around with. But before she could even open her mouth to spout out one word of thanks or apology, Derek had already pushed past her, storming upstairs and straight into his room without a word. He couldn't take much more of this.

Fresh out of her shower, Casey, clad in only a towel, slipped on the water and went careening straight into Derek, who, confident that the bathroom was empty, had stripped to the waist. Her bare back was pressed against his chest, one hand thrown helplessly backwards, the other clutching her towel, Derek's hands on either side of her hips. Someone should've put up a Wet Floor sign, she grumbled to herself. The entire day she'd been Klutzilla, and Derek kept getting involved in it. This time he'd almost fallen in the tub, but had managed to avoid that in favor of slamming his back against the wall. The good, sturdy wall. Realizing where his hands were, he lightly pushed Casey away, swallowing hard. Too embarrassed to even look at him, she ran out of the room without saying anything. Derek groaned frustratedly and took a cold shower.

They walked out of their bedrooms, bumping heads painfully. Casey hit the wall with dignity, but Derek managed, naturally, to land flat on his ass, as he always did with her (like he really needed that reminder!). And not gently. Derek clutched his already aching head, glaring intensely at Casey. It was as if she knew what she was doing, the witch. Casey shrunk a little under his glare, vowing to be more careful in the future, but she knew, however, that no matter what she did, stuff like this would keep happening. Just lucky like that, I guess. Derek shot her a dirty look, and she felt awful. Since when was going to the kitchen for a midnight snack a crime... Or, in Derek's case, a punishment?

Making a funny face in the mirror, she mussed his hair carelessly. He glared daggers at her, swatting her hand away vehemently, eyes narrowed. This was all just getting to be a bit too much. Plus, she'd touched the hair! His hair was his pride and joy. This time, she too was frustrated. Honestly, where had his sense of humor been lately? Couldn't he take a joke? Glancing back at Derek, who was hastily fixing his hair, face all scrunched up, she knew he couldn't. He couldn't take much of anything lately.

But he almost killed someone when she kissed him on the cheek. He literally swayed and got dizzy, but not out of love. No, what he was feeling wasn't love. To be fair, it was an accident, a swift, messy pucker. They were leaving for school, and she was in kissing mode, as she'd already kissed her two sisters, her mother, Edwin (to Lizzie's chagrin and annoyance), and his father goodbye as she had done for a while (they'd all gotten close). Despite the fact that he was driving her to school, the same school that they went to together, she went in and kissed him too. The entire household blinked simultaneously, wondering what the hell had just transpired. What had transpired was Casey losing her mind and forgetting herself. Casey flushed the color of a certain clown's hair, absolutely beyond mortified at her own stupidity, hands clutched over her mouth in horror. Derek too was blood red with anger and repression and frustration. He looked like he was about to resort to violence, the severe kind, you know, like tearing a man apart? He was moving towards her with an intent somewhat to this affect when she bolted off to the car, hopping meekly into the backseat. Derek switched to a heavy metal station, blasting the loud screams from his car. He didn't say a word the entire drive as Casey cowered, terrified, in the back seat, covering her hurt ears.

Yes, Derek was going to snap and soon.

Derek charged down the hallway, throwing open the door to Casey's room without knocking. Casey was visibly startled, so much so, in fact, that she jumped. "Hey, Frigid Ice Bitch, I think you have something of mine!" He replied colloquially, as if he was talking to his parents and had not just brutally insulted her.

Casey winced, but knew exactly what she was talking about. She rose to her feet coolly, crossing her arms over her chest. "And I believe the psychotic playboy in the doorway has something of mine," She remarked frostily, stepping towards Derek slowly.

Derek stalked wordlessly out of the room, going into his own to retrieve the page. Casey grabbed the disc and snuck out into the hallway, carefully closing the door behind her. She made her way downstairs to the kitchen languidly, seating herself down at the table. Tap, tap, tap, went her nails against the table, waiting for Derek to show.

He did, sauntering down the stairs and into the kitchen a few moments later. He also seated himself at the table confidently. She slid the demo across the table at precisely the same second he pushed the crumpled pink paper across. They immediately snatched up the offending items that belonged to them, staring at each other in silence.

They continued staring, and for the longest time, neither said a word.

"I'm the girl that song was written about," Casey stated blankly, blinking once. She wasn't trying to be cocky or anything, but it had suddenly occurred to her. She had suddenly put the pieces together. It wasn't exactly a declaration, just a simple statement of fact.

"I was the guy you were talking about in that entry, wasn't I?" Derek muttered a moment later in response. How ironic it was that Derek was the one questioning. Gone was the cockiness even though he knew, without a doubt, that it was true.

Neither made any acknowledgment of the simple fact that both of these statements were true... but they were. Casey just looked down and bit her lip, toying with the worn scrap of paper. Derek smirked, looking around the room as if he owned the entire place, confident attitude in place once again.

Then Casey got up, feeling incredibly awkward and out of place, moving to leave. She walked briskly past Derek, but her fingers accidentally brushed against his neck, and suddenly, he could take it no more. "Oh, screw it," He mumbled as he immediately rose, almost knocking the chair over in the process, grabbing her by the wrist. She had never seen that look in his eyes before, but it frightened her nonetheless, so she backed up.

But he kept moving closer and closer, and she backed up against the table. He moved closer still and suddenly, she found herself flat against the table, absolutely petrified. She was shaking and quaking in fear, but he leaned in even further, devouring her lips. Casey didn't respond... it didn't even register to her at first. Not that Derek cared.

She stopped shaking, stiffening instead, but didn't move. She didn't know what the hell was going on, and lay there, frozen in confusion. Derek nibbled down her neck and she tilted her head to the side so it was easier for him, but did nothing else. Not a sound escaped her lips. Finally, however, Derek's hands slipped down to her hips, and gripping them tightly, he pulled her up. His arm slithered around her waist, and he walked haphazardly up the stairs, attached to Casey by the lips. She stumbled with him.

He was heading towards her room, but she didn't want that in the slightest. She knew what going to his room meant, and she didn't like it. She didn't want it. So she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him back so hard she could feel her lips bruising. Taking advantage of Derek's momentary surprise, she led him across the hall to her room.

He flattened her against the wall, running his calloused hands up and down her sides, relishing the feeling. Casey felt his warmth seeping through her. They were so close. He kissed her deeper, deeper, deeper, if it was possible. This time, she was the one about to lose it. In retaliation, she bit his lip savagely and tasted blood, but Derek didn't care; he only kissed her harder.

He flung the door open violently, and it banged loudly against the wall, rattling Casey's paintings. Neither, however, noticed. With a hand on the small of her back, he guided her into the room, still kissing. Casey relaxed against him, walking backwards until she collided with the edge of her bed. Her knees buckled and she allowed herself to fall backwards with him on top of her.

When his hands crept underneath her shirt, she let them stay and creep up further. When his hands tugged at the hem of her shirt, she allowed him to tug it off. And when he put her hands on his shirt, she took it off for him. But then she splayed out her arms against the bed, curling them around the sheet beneath them. She said nothing as he kicked off his shoes and threw off his jeans, undressing before him. She helped him slip off her skirt and permitted him to undo her clasp.

She didn't complain when he sucked on her neck, sending a trail of angry red bruises down her neck at lightning speed. His touch bruised and burned; he was rougher than she'd thought he would be. His hands pawed all over her, raking her back, caressing her stomach, embracing her body. He was hungry with want and desire, lust overcoming all of his senses, fully in the moment.

With Casey's compliance, he took what he wanted. After all, what Derek wants, Derek gets...

She lay there, sweaty and breathless, under the sheets for a while after he left, thinking about what had just happened, disbelieving, in denial, and feeling dirty while she did so. After wallowing in self-pity, trying to forget, mentally trashing herself for being so stupid and just blindly giving in, she forced herself up, pulling on the first clothes she found, and painstakingly gathering a new set to wear, she made her way to the bathroom.

She didn't have to worry about Derek; he was long gone in more than just the physical sense. The water was hot, steaming hot... so hot she felt as if she was being boiled alive, which, she thought grimly, she deserved. Her irritated, already flushed skin turned even redder under the heat, only a step away from being burned. Too late for that. She felt violated. Suddenly, her knees felt weak, and she almost collapsed, leaning against the wall for the support she needed. It was only then that she began to cry.

She spent hours in that shower, sobbing her eyes out, but the water masked her cries. Then, after what seemed like an eternity pressed against the cool tile, she pried herself free from the wall she'd been so dependent on. She forced herself to stand up straight and tall, chin raised proudly up high, but there was still a certain droop to her features. She took the soap and nearly scrubbed her skin raw, wanting nothing more than to forget the feeling of his hands on her, his touch, his smell, the way he kissed... Oh, she wanted to forget it all! She scrubbed her hair with the shampoo before getting out and nearly downing a cup of mouthwash.

She needed to wash him out of her system more than anything else. Casey McDonald was not another notch on Derek Venturi's bedpost. She dressed quickly, leaving the room and hurrying to hers. She speedily stripped the bed, immediately throwing the sheets in the washer. She waited, watching the clothes spin round and round, until they were clean, before throwing them in the dryer. Then she went into the living room, grabbing some leftovers on her way. Her favorite show was on tonight; a whole marathon. She let herself get lost in the escapism, ensuring that what happened before was forgotten, at least for the moment.

They never mentioned it afterwards. It was just one of those things that was too awkward to mention. They just put up their fronts, glossed over their veneers, hiding behind their facades once again, as if it had never happened. But it had, and they remembered this fact all too well.

Yes, Derek had started things... But Casey hadn't stopped them... not in the least.

Every game, no matter what type, is a distraction. Pure and simple. Even this one.

A distraction from the greater meanings and motives behind every little act. A distraction from the feelings they have.

After all, better a distraction than admission. The game they play keeps them safe in denial, never pushing beyond the established borders of their relationship. It keeps them in place, perfect and stagnant.

Right now, they're pretty much at a stalemate. No one's winning, and no one's losing. Or maybe they're both winning, but they're both losing at the same time. They're both waiting for that first move, that first kick to start something... Something, but what was that something exactly?

Neither knew, but they were waiting impatiently nonetheless.

Waiting, waiting, waiting, for something to happen... something that might never happen... someone who might never come around. For someone to finally give in, so they could cry "Checkmate" and claim what was rightfully theirs to have.

But they were both stubborn, too stubborn to cave, so their waiting was in vain.

- Loren ;

Hope you liked that. Uh, I guess... Tell me what you think...