Well, well. Another fic.

Gosh, I should really look into something other than LWD.

I guess that's what I have the most inspiration for!

And I should probably update my other stories, instead of making new ones!

I guess I just cant help it! Sorry!

Anyway, please read and review!


Ever since I figured it out nothing has been the same. Everything changed when I stopped being naive and realized what had been staring me in the face.

God, I wish I was still that blissfully oblivious.

When I said things haven't been the same since I realized that I was in love with Derek, I don't mean they got better. Or even stayed the same, just with a different outlook. No. They got worse. Much worse.

Because now, he's not just Derek, annoying step-brother that I love to fight with. Now he's just Derek, the annoying boy I love.

Note that I left out step-brother, because that's just another glaringly painful add on to the list of reasons I'm stupid to have fallen for him. The list also includes that I'm not pretty enough or popular enough to be noticed, even if I live in the same house with him. And he hates me.

That's actually what hurts the most. Before, I could care less. I'd fight with him and try to bruise his ego, as he'd try to do to mine. But now, I have to force myself to spout out stupid little comments that definitely aren't up to Casey standard. While I have to sit and endure while he critiques me, makes fun of me, and completely declares his detest of me.

It's not the most fun thing to deal with.

So I go through each day, being a perfect little actress, except for the decrease in catty comments, pretending like I don't know how I feel. Pretending like I don't feel stupid when I get jealous of all the other girls that actually can flock around him. The girls he actually pays attention to. And flirts with. And takes out on dates, only forcing me to watch them make out on that damned couch later on.

I don't even know why I realized my feelings. Or when the feelings developed. I couldn't remember one time I thought anything about Derek that hinted any underlying feelings. It just hit me. Literally.

Derek and I had gotten into many fights over the remote. This time, it was after school, when we were the only ones home. I was the one who had it first, but Derek swooped in, like always, sitting down next to me, and snatching it from my hands, before kicking his feet on the small table in front of the couch and changing the channel.

"Ugh! Derek, give it back!" I said, one of my usual responds to Derek overthrowing my reign over the t.v.

He scoffed and moved his arm out of my reach, so I lightly punched him in the side. He coughed and bent over. That girl.

So I took my opportunity and grabbed for the remote. I had just gotten it, but he straightened up and tried to grab it back, but I arched my back so it curved with the back of the couch.

He started to lean over me to get the remote which I had hanging over the back of the couch, since most of my upper torso was hanging over the back to keep him from it. But Derek kept leaning into me closer and closer, reaching for the remote, until our bodies were pressed up against each other's, Derek pinning me in my position of arching over the back of the couch.

For some reason, our closeness caused me to panic, and I leaned further back, somehow resulting in both of us toppling over the back, onto the ground behind the couch. Luckily we fell side to side, or else he would have ended up falling on top of me.

And that was it. We both lied there, side by side, breathing heavily from the small struggle match. We didn't say anything. We didn't do anything. We were just there, occasionally chuckling. It was probably when we looked at each other when we were still on the floor. We turned our heads toward each other, both smiling. I think that's what triggered it.

It was something so small. I find it trivial. But that's what made things click. I wish things were still out of focus. I don't want to have these feelings. I don't want to love Derek. Why can't I still be hung up on Sam or something? God knows he wants me back. But I just can't. I don't want Sam. I want...Actually, I want to not want!

God, I've made things so complicated. I've made this for myself. With all my pretending, the only real thing I've been doing lately is going up to my room and pumping music, something I don't usually do, but lately it's every day. That's where I vent. I cry. Occasionally throwing something at a pillow. It's where no one can hear me. I don't want to be heard.

It's almost Christmas, and the holiday festivities have me feeling horrible. I don't let it show around the house, until I'm locked up in my room with the music playing. But everyone is just so happy. We let Marti choose the tree decorations, and it doesn't look half bad, with the multi colored bulbs and lights, and occasional teddy bear.

And Derek had been nice. Which makes me feel like nothing can ever be okay, because Derek's niceness hurts too. Almost as much as his cruelness. Because that's the part I love so much.

The part that calls Marti, Smarti with such love. The part that actually wants to know what you want for Christmas, not just lists what he wants. Then goes out and tries to buy the things you want. Everyone has at least two presents under the tree from him, which I didn't expect, but they're there.

I was up in my room, but I didn't want to dwell anymore for the moment. So I headed downstairs. Once I hit the landing, I heard the doorbell ring. Derek swooped past me.

"Hey, Casey." he said before heading for the door.

I leaned against the stair rail and sighed. I heard him open the door and greet whoever was there. Then I heard Sam's voice. Oh, great. I think to myself.

I start toward the kitchen, not wanting to go back to my room, but not wanting to cross paths with Derek or Sam. Even though I knew I'd see them both in the house sooner or later. Or sooner. Because as soon as I made it into the kitchen, and just leaned against the counter, both Derek and Sam walked in.

Derek just headed straight for the refrigerator next to me and opened it. Sam followed, staying to the opposite side of me.

"Hey, Casey." He really whispered. I slightly leaned away from him.

"Hi." I murmured.

He inched a little closer to me. "I-" he began.

But then Derek coughed. "Come on, Sam. Let's go into the living room."

With that Derek ushered Sam out of the kitchen before he was able to say anything more.

I sighed in relief. Like I said, Sam wanted me back. And he had really been bothering me lately. I just didn't want to have to deal with him too.

I wandered around the house, aimlessly, looking for something to occupy me. I could hear Derek and Sam playing Babe Raider in the living room. Lizzie and Edwin were listening to music in Edwin's room, which I could clearly hear through his open door. Marti was having some tea party, in which she forced my mom and George to participate in.

I literally just walked around, making sure to stay away from the living room, without stopping for at least a half an hour, until I ended up leaning on the counter in the kitchen again. I closed my eyes, and put a hand to my temple and rubbed at the traces of a headache that were beginning to pulse through my head.

I didn't even hear him come in. I don't know how I didn't notice that he was right in front of me until I opened my eyes and saw him inches from me.

"Hey." Sam said.

"Oh, hey." I said, trying to think of a way I could discreetly shirk away.

"Casey. I've wanted to talk to you for a while." he said quietly.

"Oh, um-"

"I know you don't want to be here, but... I really care about you. I care so much." he tried to brush hair out of my face, but I turned my head, and he put his hand down, seeming disappointed. Gosh, subtle much?

"Look, I'm just gonna go..." I said, trying to push past him, but he stopped me.

"Wait. Just one more thing."

"What?" I asked, trying to mask my impatience and discomfort.

"Kiss me. It's the rules." He whispered.

"Excuse me?" I asked, not understanding what he was talking about, but not liking it either.

"Mistletoe." He said.

I looked above my head and noticed for the first time that someone had stupidly placed mistletoe above the counter. Shit. I think.

He tries to lean in, but I push his chest.

"I'm sorry, Sam. But no." I say.

"Come on, Case. Just one kiss." he tried to lean again.

"No." I say more vehemently.

"You know you want it." He says playfully, but I don't care.

"No!" I say, managing to push my palms against his chest hard enough to make him back up, giving me just enough space to slip away. That's when I notice him.

Derek standing in the doorway. He had been watching the whole thing.

I rushed past him and ran all the way up the stairs. I slammed my bedroom door and turned on the stereo up loud, feeling tears rush to my eyes. Why was I crying? Because Sam had tried to kiss me? Because it was so much pressure? Or because Derek had watched and not cared. Not cared, and didn't do anything. Just watched.

That was just another nail in my coffin, too me. He hadn't even shown brotherly compassion. Let alone any kind of compassion, that his best friend was harassing me in the kitchen, technically. And it hurt.

I stayed up in my room for a long time. The music kept blaring even after I fell asleep from the exhaustion of my self inflicted torment. When I woke up it was almost 9:00 p.m., so I was fairly sure that Sam had left by now, but not sure enough to go downstairs, just in case.

Almost immediately after I turned off the loud stereo, there was a knock at my door, like whoever was there was waiting to make sure I was awake or something. So wasn't I surprised at who was on the other side.

"Hey." Derek said, looking almost nervous, and speaking hesitantly.

"Hey." I said, not sure of what to expect.

"Casey, I, um, I'm sorry if I'm bothering you..." Derek sighed. He paused before beginning again.

"Look, I'm sorry I didn't do anything about-about Sam. I know you have some issues with him. I'm sorry." Derek let his shoulders slump down from the tense position they had been in.

"It's okay." I said, not sure if I really meant it. I tried to close the door, but Derek stopped me, putting out a hand, and stepping closer to my doorway. Apparently he wasn't finished.

He sighed. "I don't know what's going on with you Casey. And I'm probably just as surprised as you are that I even care. But whatever it is...I'm actually here if you want to talk."

I was confused. "What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Music doesn't drown out things as much as you'd like." He said. I watched him hesitate before turning and walking into his room, where his door had been open, and he closed it.

I quietly closed my bedroom door. I sat down on my bed. Music doesn't drown out things as much as you'd like. What does that mean? I wondered. Does that mean he hears me? Does he hear me when I cry?

I'm not sure what that means, exactly. I don't know why Derek cares, or why he noticed, or if it means anything. But I'm not exactly sure if I'm ready for anything this might mean.

Okay, so we'll call this the beginning.

Aren't you all lucky.

I had originally planned on making this a oneshot, butonce I got to this point I decided on a twoshoter.

Maybe more than that.

I'll just have to keep writing. I'll know when I continue. I'll just feel whether or not I should. :)

Okies, please REVIEW!!!!

It means SOOOO much when you do!

Much Love!