Summary: When tragedy hits the Venturi/MacDonald family, the two eldest children must return from their separate lives to take care of the only survivor. In the process of grieving and trying their best to raise a young girl, old feelings are brought back to life.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my twist on the show and character's owned entirely by someone else.
It had taken a few hours, but Derek finally managed to convince Marti bedtime was a good idea. She had arrived around four in the afternoon and it was going on ten now. While he loved having her there, he was completely exhausted. He flicked the light switch and wrapped his hand around the door handle pulling it closed as he made to leave.
"Smerek," Marti called out, sitting up on the large bed.
"Yeah Smarti?" he asked, leaning in his doorway.
"When I wake up, am I going to be in my bed?" she asked, tipping her head and staring at him sleepily.
"Yeah, dad and Nora will pick you up before they head home," he told her.
"But I don't want to. I want to stay here with you," she said, shaking her head. "And we can have fun all the time!"
Crossing his bedroom, he sat down beside his little sister. "Eventually you'd miss dad and Nora. Not to mention Lizzie and Ed," he reminded. "And besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"What does that mean?" she asked, furrowing her brow.
"It means, not seeing me for awhile make's our time together more fun," he explained, leaning her back to the pillow and lifting the blankets around her. "I know we don't see each other much since I moved out, but we have fun during these sleep overs, right?"
Nodding, she yawned, her eyes fluttering. "Yeah, you put whip cream on my pancakes," she said, smiling.
Chuckling, he nodded. "Yeah, now go to sleep Smarti, and tomorrow you'll be eating Nora's delicious scrambled eggs."
Shaking her head, her eyes fell closed. "I want more pancakes," she murmured before drifting to sleep.
Smiling, Derek slipped off the bed and crept out of his room. Crossing the kitchen, he plopped down on the couch and channel surfed for awhile. This was his regular Thursday night; his dad and Nora would take Edwin and Lizzie out for a movie or dinner, and Marti would spend the night with her favorite big brother. He rather liked it, even if it somewhat cramped the life of a college student. He could manage it though; he was cool enough to get past the snickers his hockey buddies left ringing in his ears.
After highschool ended, Derek had moved out to his own apartment across from the college that had excitedly given him a hockey scholarship. He was only about a half hour away from his childhood home, so he came and went whenever. It was a lot easier to do laundry now that he wasn't stuck in a house of seven. His fridge was usually understocked but he was working on it. After all, college kids live off KD, pizza, and beer; his three favorite food groups.
At eighteen Derek was pretty happy with his life; consisting of hockey, business courses, his own place, girls and parties on the weekend, and Thursday nights with Marti. The little girl's visits were actually something he looked forward to. At six years old, she had to be one of his favorite people. Not only did she completely admire him for absolutely no reason, but she never judged him for anything stupid he did, which was a nice change.
Every day he had someone else telling him what to do, and he really wasn't one for orders. If it wasn't his hockey coach telling him to move faster, or score more, it was his teachers telling him he needed to get an essay of twenty pages in within two days. Then his dad was calling, always asking if he was keeping his grades up and working hard for his scholarship. Making sure his job at the restaurant down the road was still his and working out well. Then Nora would come on the phone, reminding him to eat his vegetables and making sure he separated his clothes for washing. Then Ed would ask how many girls he'd met at college, always pressuring him, without really knowing it, to be the supreme dude.
Then he'd get that dreaded call from his mother, reminding him how little she believed in him. Where she'd drone on about how many years it would take to get a business of his own going, and the money it would take. How much work he would have to put into school if he really wanted to become a businessman. And then she'd remind him over and over that she didn't want to pressure him to become something he wasn't really equipped to become. Pushing it farther into his face that he wasn't the shining example of a son she really wanted. The kind that would raise a family, have neighborhood BBQ's, and live off a substantial paycheck each month. She didn't believe he could be that guy, and she never spared a moment to tell him so.
If he ever had kids, he wanted them to be like Marti. Sure she was a little crazy, what with her spurts of believing she's a cat. Which she still goes through, even though it's been two years. But she has an overwhelmingly warm presence. Always managing to make Derek happy and keep her family on their toes. He couldn't help but think that his dad was luckier than he could possibly know, having such a personable kid around.
As his mind ran through all of the people consisting in his family, it landed on the girl he chose to push out of his mind as much as possible. The one girl who caused his annoyance to rise along with his desire to kiss her every time she opened her mouth. Their fighting, day in and day out, only bred feelings for her that he couldn't push away. For two years he was stuck living with her, fighting with her, and hating the fact that she was his step sister when he really wanted her to be just another girl at the school. A girl he could talk to civilly, while possibly taking them out on a date. He knew he wasn't the only one feeling that way either, because there were moments in the last year before both of them left home, that their yelling got the best of them and they found themselves tangled in a heated kiss. It always ended with her growling in anger before stomping away from him and ignoring him the next few days.
His feelings for her were likely derived from her challenging him, which no other girl had done before. They never questioned what he said or did, they just accepted it and more often thought it was cool or funny. She always questioned his actions though. Always wanted to know what he was doing, just to be sure it wouldn't cause any problems. She played it off for awhile as if she was worried he would somehow ruin her, but then it looked more like she was just interested in what his next scheme was. She wasn't interested in a way that cause her to join in, but more so she could work her best to stop and destroy his plan. While this annoyed him to great lengths, he rather liked their incessant fighting and racing to be better than the other.
He usually won. It didn't matter what the fight was, or what they were yelling about. In the end, what Derek wants, Derek gets. The only thing he had ever wanted and didn't get, was her. Throughout all their fighting, all their angry kissing, and heated moments together, he really thought that one day she would falter. One day she would finally just admit that she felt the same way. That she wanted to kiss him as much as he wanted to kiss her. And they would give up their fighting and finally just be a couple; because it was really the argument underlying each one of their squabbles. It wasn't over bathroom space or the last piece of pie. Derek wanted to finally give up their charade of hating each other and just be together, but she was stubborn and she wasn't going to let it happen. She wouldn't admit that she felt something for him, other than step sibling hatred. Yes, the girl that caused so many mind boggling problems in Derek's mind was his step sister, Casey MacDonald.
She had moved away shortly after he did, going to a school a half hour away from home, but in the opposite direction of Derek. Casey was deep into her studies so much that she hardly visited home anymore. Lizzie spent every second weekend at Casey's apartment, doing their sisterly thing. Every once in a while, she'd stop at the house to see her mom or the rest of the family. She had finally accepted Marti's weird behavior and the small girl was likely her favorite of the Venturi family, since she openly lied about her feelings towards Derek. Sometimes Marti even went with Lizzie to spend the weekend with Casey, who would take them shopping or rent movies for them to watch and paint their nails. She was working at a highly known Bridal shop, making a killing off of her commission.
Leaning back into the couch farther, Derek tried to rid his mind of the unrequited feelings, and thought a little more about the plays he was supposed to be memorizing for the big hockey game Sunday night. While he wasn't the captain of the team, being new and all, he was slowly making his way up the chain to being the best player. There were a few guys who were a little faster than him, or made a goal or two more than he did, but he was going to beat them in the end. Because he is Derek Venturi, and there is no other guy who knows the game of hockey like he does.
The phone rang, pulling him out of his thoughts. Smiling, he reached for the receiver; it was likely his dad, too tired to walk upstairs and get his daughter. He'd called from the parking lot before, asking Derek to bring Marti down for him and put her in the van so they could go home. It wasn't until recently that they started making more family plans; Thursday nights with Lizzie and Edwin and Sunday mornings with Marti. Probably because he and Casey fought too much for anyone to enjoy an outing.
"Yeah dad, I'll grab Marti and bring her down," he said, without asking.
"Is this Derek Venturi?" a thick male voice questioned.
Derek felt a shudder run through him; sitting up straight, his face drained of emotion. "Yeah," he said. "Who's this?"
"This is Officer Bradley, son. I have some very upsetting news," he went on.
Derek's eyes glazed over and his mouth fell open. The phone was slipping from his hands, but he clearly heard the words, "accident," "all those involved," and "died." His breathing was coming in short spurts, causing his chest to ache. His eyes were burning while hot tears streamed down his face. A sob was stuck in the back of his throat, while his hands ran up into his hair tugging on it fiercely. Suddenly it seemed like he couldn't breath at all, he kept inhaling but his lungs continued to burn for more.
"Sir," the man on the forgotten phone called out. "Sir, are you there?"
Running his arm over his face, he shook his head and lifted up the phone with a shaky hand. "M-my d-dad," he stuttered out. "Is he... And my brother, Ed?" he asked, his hand curling around couch. "And m-m-m-my step mother, Nora? And L-Lizzie?" he asked, feeling like he was rambling incoherently. "Are you sure? Maybe it wasn't there van, m-m-maybe you got the plates confused." Shaking his head, he knew he was being irrational. "Or are they just at the hospital? A-a-alive?"
There was a long drawn out sigh on the other line. "I'm really sorry son, all four occupants in the car were killed on impact. The driver of the opposite vehicle is in ICU, he was impaired and returning from a party at one of the nearby college's," he explained, slowly. "Am I to understand that there are two other children that need to be notified?" he asked, calmly. "A Marti Venturi, daughter of George Venturi. And Cassandra MacDonald, daughter of Nora MacDonald."
Inhaling sharply, Derek found his body numbing and his words coming out in a monotone and emotionless voice. "Marti's with me," he told him. "I'm taking care of her."
"And do you have any way I can contact Cassandra MacDonald?" he asked.
"Uh, do- do you think I could tell her," he asked. "She's... very sensitive and I think she'd prefer to be told by someone who knows her."
"Of course," the officer said, understandingly. "But, there will be a few things that need to be settled. Such as confirmation of the bodies," he added. "I don't me to be so abrupt, but there really is no other way to tell you these things."
"No, I understand," Derek said, staring blankly at a spot on the floor.
The officer paused for a moment, before adding, "I'm really, very sorry for your loss."
"Thank you," Derek said, before hanging up the phone.
Lifting from the floor, he slowly walked to the bathroom. Standing over the sink, he stared at himself for a moment, taking in his pale, drawn exterior. A moment later, he felt his stomach turn and everything launched up from his stomach, spilling into the bottomless hole of the sink. After a few moments, he ran the cold water and splashed it over his face. Taking some of it in his mouth and rinsing it of the awful taste.
Walking to his room, he stared down at a peacefully sleeping Marti, feeling the hot sting of tears rolling down his cheeks. She was all he had left; the only member of his family that cared in the very least. But he needed someone to talk to, he needed someone who was going to understand this grief that was suddenly consuming him so painfully. Swallowing, he crossed the room and carefully lifted his little sister into his arms. Carrying her out of the apartment, he locked it up before dashing to his car and buckling her in.
It was shortly after eleven when he pulled up in front of her apartment building, he was lucky enough not to have to buzz in as a man saw him and held the door open while he ran over, cradling a sleeping Marti in his arms. He was surprised she hadn't woken up yet, but she was a pretty heavy sleeper. Taking the steps two at a time, without enough patience for the elevator, he found himself on the third floor, banging on her apartment door.
It took a moment, but suddenly the door opened and a very tired, angry Casey stood in front of him. Shaking his head, he brushed past her and dropped Marti in her bedroom before walking back out to meet her confused face. He knew how bad he looked, he knew his face was still white and his eyes were rimmed red and his clothes were rumpled from bunching them up and wiping his shirt over his wet face.
She closed the door, locking it and stood waiting for an explanation. Her foot was tapping while her arms were crossed. She was her old self again, with the annoyed set of her mouth and a furrowed brow. She was waiting for him to tell her what stupid thing he had done, and for a moment he didn't want to take that away from her. He didn't want her to feel the overwhelming grief he was covered in. He wanted her to stay like this; angry and annoyed with him for no reason except that he woke her up at 11 at night.
His hands clenched and released beside his legs, he simply stared at her. Watching her face turn from one of annoyance to that of confusion and finally to worry. He could feel the tears again, making their way down his face, no wonder she was concerned. He never cried; not unless it was for one helluva reason.
"Derek?' she asked, stepping forward. Her hand reached out to him, wrapping around his forearm. "What's wrong?" she wondered, tipping her head.
Feeling like he couldn't hold back, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. Burying his face in her neck, he sobbed. His father was gone, along with his little brother. No more Venturi family, just two caskets, a sobbing boy, and a little girl who wouldn't understand what happened. His father would never use that tone of voice when he's trying to tell him to be more respectful. He'd never be sitting in the front row of his hockey games, cheering and shouting, "That's my son!" He wouldn't be calling to see if Derek was doing alright for groceries or money, or anything he might need. And Edwin wouldn't be calling to ask advice about girls anymore. He wouldn't need special expertise from his dude of a brother. He wouldn't be admiring his brother for his power and cool reputation, hanging off of every word he said like he was some sort of God.
His step mother was never going to call him and tell him to eat more vegetables, or to separate the whites from the dark's. She wasn't going to make him her special scrambled eggs, that melted in his mouth. Or lecture him on how to treat women while she tugged on his ear and read him the rights of all women alike. Lizzie wasn't going to be stopping by and proposing a solution to whatever problem he and Casey were having that week. She wouldn't be politely asking him to stop making Casey crazy. And she wouldn't be begging him to play soccer with her in the back yard; a worthy opponent is what she considered him.
His body shook painfully as he clutched at Casey's back and let himself completely break in her arms. This would be the one and only time. He would fully let this out now, and there would be no encore in the future. While the wound was fresh and bleeding, he would ask her to cradle him, in need of support. He had no father to help him through it, no step mother to tell him it would be okay. And his mother would do nothing to help him in the future. All he had was Casey; her and Marti. He hadn't even told her yet, but she still rubbed his back and held him tightly.
His hands ran down through her hair, his fingers tangling in it and holding it tightly. His arms were around her in such a strong embrace that he was worried she might not be able to breath. She didn't complain though, or squirm or wince. She simply let him cry, for whatever reason she didn't know, and waited for his tears to subside and his body to relax. After a few minutes, Derek finally pulled back from her enough and opened his mouth.
"I-" His voice broke and he wasn't sure he'd be able to get it out. "They-" Inhaling deeply, he looked away from her eyes, seeing his own in hers, brimming with tears. Inhaling a deep, shaky breath, he let it out slowly. "Dad and Nora were coming to pick up M-Marti," he explained, softly. Turning back to her, he stared into her eyes, slowly they were coming to realize what he was saying. "There was a boy leaving a party, drunk." He swallowed, trying to steady his voice and get out what he needed to tell her. "There was an accident," he explained, his lips quivering. Her head was shaking back and forth now as her hand lifted to her mouth. "All four of them were k-k-k-" Closing his eyes, he felt the tears spill down his cheeks. "They didn't make it," he stated, quietly.
"No," Casey said, stepping away from him. "NO, no, no, no," she muttered, tears riddling her face and her body slipping from its standing position.
Walking to her, he wrapped his arms around her waist as she began to fall.
"NO!" she screamed, beating her fists against his chest and falling into his embrace. "You're wrong," she told him, sobbing. "It wasn't them," she said, shaking her head furiously.
Nodding slowly, Derek slipped to the ground, cradling her in his arms. "It was them, Case," he said, stiffly.
"I need my mom," she told him, shaking her head, pleading with him to tell her it wasn't true.
Crying painfully, she pressed her face against his neck and inhaled deep breaths of air, making a sharp hiccuping noise as she did. She curled up into a ball, leaning against his chest and sobbing openly for a long time. He simply held her, his tears now falling silently. They rocked back and forth, clutching at each other for some kind of help through their grief.
She must've cried for hours before she finally drifted off against him. Lifting her up from the floor, he brought her into the room where Marti was sleeping in. Lifting the covers, he wrapped them around her tightly. Seeing them there, the only surviving people that he loved, he decided he couldn't leave them, even for a moment. Walking to the other side of the bed, he slipped in beside Marti and closed his eyes. All he saw was the face's of his father and brother, causing his eyes to burst back open. Turning onto his back, he stared blankly at the dark roof. His body ached, his head throbbed with a migraine, his eyes still wept, and his face felt cold. Blinking his burning eyes, he swallowed, wishing the ball of pent up hurt would leave his throat.
Derek couldn't do this; he couldn't be strong and help Marti and Casey through all of their pain. He couldn't handle his own pain without running to Casey for her understanding nature. How was he supposed to explain to his little sister that she was never going to see her dad or brother again? That her step mother and step sister weren't alive any longer? And what would happen to her now? Their mother certainly didn't want her and wasn't qualified to take care of her. She was a horrible mother, always making him feel less adequate than he was. Did Nora and his dad have a will? Who would take Marti? His aunt? His mother? Him?
He rather wanted it to be him. He didn't want her growing up with a stranger. He wanted her to be part of his life, always. He'd raise her well; he hoped. But he wasn't able to be a father figure was he? He couldn't raise a six year old, could he? He didn't care; he would become what it took to raise Marti. He wouldn't let someone who hardly knew her take her away from him.
Rolling onto his side, he brushed a strand of hair off her sleeping face. He promised himself then and there that he would not let her be taken from him. He was her older brother; her hero. And he would raise her, take care of her, and love her like their father would have. And while he may never be her father, and only her brother, he would take care of her as both. Marti wasn't going anywhere, she was staying with him no matter what.
His eyes began to flutter, his face slowly relaxing. The overwhelming events finally pulled him into a restless sleep, filled with upsetting dreams of the family he had lost. Throughout the night, he woke up numerous times, drenched in a cold sweat. Swallowing down his fear and pain, he rolled off the bed and walked to the bathroom. After washing his face off with cold water, he scoured Casey's fridge for something to drink. Downing a bottle of water, he made his way back to her room. They had rolled over, Marti now on the side and Casey in the middle.
Pulling his drenched shirt off, he slipped back into the bed, this time beside Casey, and simply watched her in the blue lighting of the room. The sun was rising, hitting the blue curtains and sending the room into a calming, cool shade. Watching her face for a moment, unable to ignore the sadness that slept in each crevice of her, he reached out and ran his hand down her cheek softly. She stirred slightly, but simply let out a soft sigh and continued sleeping.
He knew that she was going to be his lifeline, whether he wanted it or not. She was going to be the one who called him at the right moment, asking if he needed to talk. She'd be the one who came by to help him make sure Marti was being raised right. She would be the one to hold him in those dark moments when his life seemed to be crumbling around him. And when it felt like all hope was lost, he would turn and see her. See her staring at him with understanding, or see her deep in her own sad thoughts. They would comfort each other, finding refuge in each other's pain.
Reaching down, Derek entwined his hand with hers ever so slowly. And closing his eyes, he let himself fall back to sleep, this time free of the haunting nightmares. Tomorrow would be a hard day; a day of depression. One in which he'd have to explain things to Marti, and possibly call other family members with the news. Then he'd have to call the hospital and figure out what was needed. Eventually a funeral would have to be held and something would have to be done about the house. There were so many problems, so many question nagging his grief ridden mind. But that was tomorrow, for now he would let himself sleep, beside the two females left in his life. The only two people who mattered anymore.
A/N I know, I'm deep into the sequel for The Secret, but this story came to me and I just couldn't ignore it. So don't worry, I'm still working on "What Happened to Happily Ever After?" I'm just working on this story too. I hope you 'enjoyed' this. It's a very angsty chapter, which will eventually lead into some romance. For now, they deal with the sadness and events surrounding their families deaths. Please review, it's greatly appreciated.