Twice In a Lifetime

by Nunda

Disclaimer: Are we still doing these? Okay, here it goes: I do NOT own Life With Derek or else I wouldn't be writing FANFICTION about it. (Reviews and such are appreciated). Also, lyrics used in this chapter are from "Pinch Me" by the Barenaked Ladies.

/A.N./ Whatever I don't know about the show, I made up. Hence, Sam's last name is now Marshall and his ma and pa are Ann and John respectively.

.oO00Oo.

Derek Venturi watched out the windowsill as tiny flakes of snow drifted down to the white-covered ground. He wished he could just drift through life without a care in the world and forget the recent events in his life.

"Come on, Derek, Let's go!" George Venturi eagerly urged his five-year old son to get his gear in the family station wagon.

"I'm coming, Dad," Derek dragged his duffel bag behind him.

"Let me get that for you." George grabbed the bag and shoved it into the station wagon.

"Goodbye, honey." Abby reached for her son, but he ducked away, and quickly glanced around to make sure no one had seen his mother almost kiss him.

George just smiled and shrugged at Abby as if to say, boys will be boys. He gave her a quick peck on the cheek and then left to take Derek to peewee hockey try-outs.

There were about 25 five- and six-year old boys eagerly waiting with their dads.

"You sit here." George pointed to a bench. "I'm going to go talk to the coach and see what I need to do."

Derek impatiently sat down next to a blonde-headed boy who immediately began a conversation with him.

"My name's Sam, what's yours?" He asked.

"Derek." He said.

"Do you want to be friends?" Sam asked earnestly.

Derek looked around. He didn't recognize anyone else except for Lanny Brown from his kindergarten class. He wasn't exactly his favorite person.

"Sure." Derek answered Sam. Little did he know then that Sam would become his best friend for over the next ten years.

"Come on, Derek." George said while knocking lightly on his son's doorframe. "It's time to go, son."

Derek got up and quickly swiped at his eyes. He followed his dad downstairs to the garage and got into the family van. Casey was sitting by the window, staring intently at the garage wall. Casey- Derek had almost forgotten about her. He could not possibly look her in the eyes right now. He took a seat behind Casey and laid his head back with his eyes closed.

It was just a short drive, but to Derek it seemed like an impeccably long journey. Alpine Street Presbyterian Church was small and set up on a hill. Derek sighed; the last time he had been at church was when George and Nora got married. Clutching the CD and a small stack of index cards, Derek hurried into the church.

"Derek, thank you for coming." Mr. Marshall said, and then upon seeing the CD in his hand added, "The music coordinator is in the second door on the right down that hallway."

"Thank you." Derek said solemnly. He walked toward the open doorway and lightly rapped on the door.

"Come on in." He heard the voice say.

"I want you to play this for me." He said thrusting the disc towards the older man in corduroy pants and a brown button-down shirt. "It's not typical funeral music, but he'd understand it."

"That's all that counts, man." He said somberly.

Derek made his way into the sanctuary and sat with his family. He averted his eyes from looking at the casket with the cold, lifeless body encased in it. He glanced at Casey but immediately stared down at his hands. He was not ready to see her face yet. He would completely lose it, he knew for sure, if he seen her crushed expression. He felt a comforting hand on his back and looked gratefully up at Nora.

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall took a seat in the pew in front of Derek and he immediately felt sorrow for them. Mrs. Marshall sat with her eyes glued to the front, with tears streaming down her cheeks. Mr. Marshall wrapped an arm tightly around his wife.

Reverend McNeil walked to the front of the front of the sanctuary and stood behind the podium, glancing lovingly on the parishioners gathered to celebrate a young life cut too short.

"First, " He started, "Let us pray. Great and merciful Father in Heaven…"

"I got you Derek! You're dead!" Eleven-year old Sam shot at Derek with his Super Soaker.

"Nu-uh." Derek said defiantly. "I had my fingers crossed so it doesn't count."

"What?" Sam asked incredulously. He dropped his gun down to his side. "It does too count."

"No, but this does." Derek said and then proceeded to soak Sam with his own oversized water gun.

"Hey, here comes Edwin." Derek said, immediately calling a truce. "Let's get him!"

"Hey, let's hide under there." Sam suggested.

"Under where?" Derek said looking around. Sam started laughing uncontrollably. Finally Derek realized what he said.

"I just made you say underwear!" Sam sang.

Their plans of sneak attacking little Edwin was ruined as the two broke out into song by their favorite band, Barenaked Ladies. From that day on, it became an inside joke between the guys to try different ways to get the other say 'underwear'. Immature? Yes, but it was a guy thing.

"…in Jesus' name, Amen." Reverend McNeil concluded his prayer. "It was a great honor to know Samuel Andrew Marshall. His family started coming to this church when he was just a little tyke. He will be greatly missed by this church and the community. Sam was a quiet young man but he possessed manners and kindness, a rare gem for someone of his young age thanks to his parents John and Ann. I just want to share a passage with you if I may, before friends and loved ones get up to speak and play songs in honor of Sam. Everyone turn to Philippians 3:20-21. 'For our citizenship is in heaven…' "

Derek sat numbly, staring straight ahead. He couldn't focus on what the reverend was saying until he heard his own name.

"Derek Venturi…" He heard the reverend's kind voice. "Would you like to say something about Sam now?"

Derek felt Nora and his dad each squeeze his arm for support. He clutched the index cards in his hands as he walked toward the front, his eyes locked onto the closed casket and he felt his stomach churn. It didn't seem right to him that Sam was in there with the lid closed. He wouldn't be able to breath. Derek felt his throat close up and suddenly he felt as if he couldn't breathe as if he were the one locked up in the casket. Derek grabbed onto each side of the podium to hold himself up. He glanced overhead at the music coordinator and nodded to him. He would let the music speak for him for the time being- until he found his voice.

It's the perfect time of year

Somewhere far away from here

I feel fine enough I guess

Considering everything's a mess…

Derek cleared his throat and leaned into the microphone.

"A few summers ago, Sam and I decided this was our favorite song. It reminded us of being on summer break and playing with water guns and in Edwin's sprinkler. In our innocence, we didn't realize the darker undertones of this song." He looked up to see Mrs. Marshall nodding at him and smiling. She knew personally how the boys loved to play in the water- tracking it all through her house, even.

It's the perfect time of day

To throw all your cares away

Put the sprinkler on the lawn

And run through with my gym shorts on

Take a drink right from the hose

And change into some drier clothes

Climb the stairs up to my room

Sleep away the afternoon…

Derek glanced down at his index cards. "I uh, planned a whole boring speech but suddenly these cards don't matter anymore." He tossed the cards to the side. "Who was Sam Marshall? He was more than a best friend- he was like a brother to me. In fact, if he wasn't at my place, I was at his. Right now, if he could see all this, he'd be so embarrassed. He never liked being in the spotlight- he left that to me."

Derek looked up and caught a glimpse of Casey; head down and with her hands over her face. Emily, trusty best friend, had her arms wrapped tightly her. He felt the lump in his throat rise. He cleared his throat and began again.

"That's just the way Sam was- easy-going and laid-back. He was very reliable. Although we got into a few fights over the years as best friends do, he was always there for me. Sam wouldn't want us to cry and to feel sad. He'd want us to remember the happy times with him. Like the time he won that ridiculous joker hat at the carnival and didn't take it off for weeks."

Derek was glad to hear a soft chuckle from the audience.

"Or the time Dad when he filled your shoes full of Jell-O. Sam loved pranks. And Casey. He loved Casey. I made fun of him for being such a sap but the truth is that I was jealous that he'd found true love and I hadn't. And John and Ann when other people at school were griping and complaining about their parents Sam always mentioned that he was really lucky to have you guys as parents. I will miss you Sam, my brother."

On an evening such as this

It's hard to tell if I exist

If I packed a packed a car and leave this town

Who'll notice that I'm not around

I could hide out under there

I just made you say 'underwear'

I could leave but I'll just stay

All my stuff's here anyway…

With that final statement, Derek finished his speech. He returned to his seat between Nora and his dad. Nora enveloped him into a warm hug.

"That was a great tribute, honey." She whispered. "Sam would've loved it."

"Good job, son." George added while patting his back. George wasn't as good with words as Nora was.

Casey looked up at him with a newfound respect. She was glad he admitted to being jealous over hers and Sam's true love. It explained a lot of his behavior towards them.

Pinch me

Pinch me

'Cause I'm still asleep

Please God tell me

That I'm still asleep…