Disclaimer/Author's Notes: Life With Derek and any characters portrayed in this story do not belong to me with the exception of a single original character. She belongs to me, but feel free to snag her. With that said, I came to write this lengthy one-shot after having come across a spiffy little livejournal challenge and have enjoyed writing it so much that I'm willing to give you, the reader, a chance to request your very own LWD one-shot. I'm looking to write a ficlet series and the prompts would be much appreciated. Anyhow, please enjoy the story. Reviews are lovely!


(fresh tendrils)

It wasn't often that I thought back when it had actually mattered what pair of jeans were worn that day, or what pretty face had I had slung along to the prom, or the riotous screams I had managed to coax from my step sister after pressing a size ten footprint onto a new blouse strewn about on the stairs. In my opinion, a pompous teenage saga was not to be dwelled on, was not to break what had been carefully built from the ground up, creating a life so gratifying, so rewardingly passionate and content.

But there was always that one thing that triggered my past. It was always so obscure. A coffee shop sign above an empty laundromat or an outdated commercial on late-night American television was all it took to bring those memories crashing down before my very feet. My sneaker-clad, twenty-three-year-old feet standing upon a cracked sidewalk donning a beautiful New York City street.

And I found I was unable to pull my gaze away from his boyish grin, his blue eyes against the snowy park to his back. He noticed this and laughed, drawing lines across his young face reddened by the morning's harsh temperatures. The ballcap coveting the awful shear he'd accepted from a drunken friend last week slipped further down his forehead and shadowed those brilliant eyes. With a flush easily played off as winter's magic hand, I pushed the brim up and shot him a scornful look as he slid away.

"Can't tear your eyes away from me, I'm so damn sexy." Sam smirked, stepping further down the icy trail. He stumbled slightly and I smirked, arms folded tightly over my chest as he made his way to the ancient concrete bench placed throughout the park for old ladies with cocker spaniels and college students looking for a quiet place to read their astrophysics guides.

Sam bothered not to glance back at me as he slid across the slippery seats, spilling right into the snow bank pilled up at the bench's right side. I shook my head, ignored the pleased look on Sam's face as he threaded his fingers through the powdery snow beneath him, and pulled his cell from my coat pocket.

Warily, I eyed the screen and found the time disconcerting: 7.42.

There were so many places I could be right now, specifically in bed with that goofball curled into me as the minutes of this Friday lazily ticked by on the wall clock over our dresser. Sitting at the kitchen table and sipping from my favourite mug as Sam shuffled in, all tousled blond hair and pyjama bottoms clinging in the right places while the thermostat to our Manhattan apartment hissed beneath the window looking out on the snowy avenue below. Enjoying our three days off from the Shoppe over a coffee within the walls of a warm dinner; laughing at our newfound freedom from the university following graduation last month to the symphony of shower spray beating sparkling tile.

Instead, I watched as Sam fell back onto the snowdrift with a dreamy look about his handsome face. Despite that angelic look he'd taken on, I was not to be distracted. My fingers felt as if knives were splitting the flesh beneath my nails, my nose nonexistent and my toes too far gone for any such feeling to overcome the appendages.

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and yawned as Sam kicked his muddy converse against the pavement before standing up and stretching his arms into the overcast sky, shock white with the warning of a heavy snow.

"You want to get some breakfast and head outa the city for a while?" Sam offered, smiling gently as I carefully made my way towards him. I fought back the urge to knock that stupid Mets hat from his head and run my frozen hands through his hair at the sight of that easy smile, that smile that gave me the strong will to put up with his ever unusual bout of childlike fascination with the states.

Because it wasn't as if the snow looked any different than the snow in Canada; it wasn't as if the fries at McDonalds tasted any better in Manhattan than it had up north. But none of that mattered. I found his occasional allure to this city—now our home than any—enduring and all the more attractive.

"Where are we going?"

Sam shrugged. "There's a show in Portsmouth tonight. Thought we'd take the Cherokee and get away." I nodded in response. Our shoulders brushed together and that same shock, still as strong as ever, took to me as his smallest finger twined with my own. At this, I ducked my head and the corners of my lips turned upwards in a smile while I slid my hand into his, lacing our cold fingers together.

"I'm sorry I woke you up so early, but I thought you'd want to see it," he said, gesturing with his free hand to the white wonderland around us, snow sifting off the huge bows of surrounding pine trees and short shrubbery lining the walkways like naked skeletons of an autumns' past. "Lived here four years and never once been through Central Park during the wintertime. Something's not right with that, Richard says."

"Well, it's fucking cold," I replied offhandedly, "but it's beautiful."

"How's it that no matter how much older you get, Derek, you can never get used to the cold?"

"I wasn't born a versatile person."

Sam glanced over, brow arched dubiously. "That so, huh?"

"Okay, alright, so maybe it's proven that I'm an exceedingly versatile person, but just because I'm adjustable in some cases doesn't make me adaptable to everything, you know."

And this was when the ring in my inner coat pocket was its heaviest; when Sam snuck a kiss against my neck, marking me with the love grown between us over a succession of many years, chapped lips on cool skin burning pleasantly. This was when I looked down and saw my feet against that cracked pavement and knew tonight was the night I'd ask. Crashing around my feet, memories kick-started with that weight in that pocket seared through thick fabric and reminded me how this all started off in the first place.

(mailman)

Sam. My best friend, my confidante, my partner in crime and my brother in arms. If someone walked up and told me that in mere days I'd be feeling him up and making good use of a room's initial privacy, I'd have knocked that someone's teeth out and expertly punctured their spleen with the blades of my hockey skates.

If someone told me that Saturday night's party at Karissa's would lead only to the most significant conversation of my life within the confines of a frilly teenage girl's room and the almighty fall of the school's most successful womaniser, I'd have made haste with this hockey stick down that someone's throat. The last thing on my mind was the experimentation of my somewhat secure sexuality, the furthest thought being the fierce way Sam moved across the huge ice pond before me.

Right now, at this moment, I sat on that rickety wooden bench waiting for my turn out on the ice, waiting to push those stupid fuckers from Alaska down on their asses and send them flying right back into their own goalposts. My hands shook with the anticipation to join my team and help them win the game—sprained wrist or not—because Coach had promised me time.

But as the day steadily dropped behind the mountains' jagged horizon and those American bystanders grew louder with every attempt to ambush our goalie that their team tried, my hopes to get time out there slowly diminished along with the sun's pale golden rays across the towering snow banks lining the frozen pond.

A wind like knives tore at my exposed face, and the bottle of Gatorade to my side never looked less appealing than in subzero temperature; Sam flew by with a sympathetic look on his face when those blue eyes fell on me, and I suppressed the urge to throw my helmet at his skull. Not like it do any damage. Casey'd already gotten to his head like a disease.

I smirked at the thought: Casey a disease. Summed it up in three simple words. Because that was what Casey was, an irking disease looking for any male host looking to put up with her endlessly oppressive bullshit, dropping them down when their blood ran thin and there was nothing left for the road.

Poor Sammy. He'd gotten the butt of the rifle hard to the side of the neck, taking a hit hard enough to throw him into this funk that'd been with him for days. Of course, no one liked to be spilled out onto the asphalt the weekend before winter formal after a four-month relationship that even I'd bought for a good and relatively normal one.

Sure, I hadn't felt so bad for him (having not found any willing souls to accompany me to this so-called seasonal gala) but I gave myself credit for showing at least the speck of empathy, having been tripped up by many a girl. He'd called me up to ensure the wench was not dwelling in the circus of a household before coming over and sliding down the wall in my room, dropping his head into his hands, muttering rubbish about how right he though they'd been for each other.

Specifically I'd remembered throwing a cheap skin mag into his lap and telling him to get over her. He had pushed the magazine away with an irritated hand and proceeded to pace the room, arms folded tightly over his heavy coat, damp sneakers padding softly over the floor, blond hair windswept beneath the dim light of my bedside lamp as he tossed his ugly wool cap onto the computer keyboard.

He'd stayed over that Wednesday night, him sleeping fitfully at the left edge of my bed as I spent long hours before a glowing screen, surfing the net and considering if a confrontation would be necessary to beat information out of Casey as to why that stupid relationship didn't work out like planned.

A reverberating buzz rudely pulled me from my thoughts.

The game was over, those recollections of the past week dissipating in the hidden sorrow of a lost match I had taken no part. Stupid fucking wrist. I decided right then and there that I would never forgive Karissa for slamming my hand in the door of her dusty hatchback. I noted to buy her the shittiest possible gift from the mall tomorrow night after our flight landed. At least the girl took formals for what they were (jokes) and held those wicked parties (smokes for the kiddies, a house without a parental unit, and a wooded seclusion like none other for short skirts and no clothing) instead.

I stood as Sam climbed his way up the short snow bank and snatched his thermos from the bench. He flashed me a sombre smile while uncapping the steel container. "Johnny's gonna get jumped outside the lockers."

"Why's that?" I looked past him to the gigantic pond my team lost on; deep scratches hatched the surface ice, having never once seen a zamboni in its existence.

"Called them Eskimos." Sam's laugh sounded forced. "I may have competition."

"No," I reassured him, patting him on the shoulder, "You're still the stupidest. Hands down."

"Thanks, Derek."

I grinned as the flicker of a sarcastic but otherwise sincere smile made a brief appearance on my friend's face. With gloved fingers, he tapped my cheek before passing me by, the gentle scent of sweat and cologne trailing behind as he made his way to the visiting locker room behind the wooden stands. And I don't know what compelled me to watch him retreat, what kept me frozen in place as the team followed suit and the smart pat to my face stung in the Alaskan air.

As far as I knew, this weekend would be normal. Regardless of the disappointing loss to an American team, tomorrow night's party would go off without a hitch. I'd make my entrance with Sam at my side, shove him towards some nameless, faceless blonde-haired chick lounging on the stairs, tell my best friend to get that brunette bitch out of his head, and make my way upstairs to Karissa's frilly pink room. I'd swing past Emily's blatant advances and fall into K's bed, no strings attached.

And if someone told me otherwise, I'd have laughed.

(she likes surprises)

I couldn't tell you how it ended up like this, only that this was what I got for getting the hostess of this walking nightmare a Playboy calendar. This was what I got for that continual tug like the pierce of a flaming sword in my stomach when touched so innocently. A tug of the hand, a light tap on the cheek, or even the slight smile brought on by another lame joke I'd make up on the spot just to see that honest grin.

It was my punishment; the lack of alcohol found in either of us as Karissa leaned back into the pillows, face flushed and breath hitched. Nothing to blame this on but our lacking self-control, these emotions so deeply buried within that when brought to the surface, it was like a painful epiphany of burning touch and taste.

I walked straight into a lurid dream, one which I could not bring myself to wake from. Not while warm, callused hands slid beneath my shirt. Teeth gnashing and clicking, tongues waging war, and it was all so much, all so soon, and I had no control over any of it.

My body took over as my mind shut down, and the fact that Karissa was now kneeling before us, no longer bothered me. Her long black hair framed her pretty face while I twisted my hands into Sam's hair, flipped him onto his back before straddling him. I'd gotten the distinct feeling that Karissa hadn't expected us to perform this number—with each other, at least. But I'd also gotten the vibe that right now, Karissa wasn't minding it all that much.

It was heaven, and it was hell. That friction between us, that frustration pinned up behind implicating words and shy looks over a boxed nasty in the school cafeteria. He curved up into me as I struggled for that control slipping through my fingers like his hair. I fought my hands down and found his, winding my fingers into his and sliding up against his body, breath mingling with his. No whiskey breath found, no sickeningly sweet stench of cigarettes there.

Because there was no excuse for this, no intoxications for lost inhibitions. There was hardly a persuasion as Karissa brought her 'friend' in, of which I had so wrongfully assumed was to be yet another ditzy blonde bombshell acquaintance of hers.

Instead, there was Sam, walking in sheepishly with his head down. By the look in his eyes as he saw me sprawled out across the comforters, I instantly came to the conclusion that what he'd been led to believe was similar to my preliminary assumption.

You don't have to touch each other or anything, but let's try it. But you can if you want to, Karissa'd added just as fast as I scrambled from the bed and tripped up in front of him, eyes never leaving his. Oh, how the defining moments of a teenager's lifetime can start with the subtext of a thought.

So there I was, standing before Sam and feeling like the coward I knew was when it came to what was important. Note that this was before I lost my mind. My mind that was screaming at me up and down, telling me that it was definitely not right to step up to your best friend, wrap your fingers around his nape and press your lips to his.

Yeah, that right there was when I lost my mind, those agonisingly long seconds when Sam's body stiffened up in shock at the feel of my mouth against his.

Bated breath and hesitant arms curling around my waist, Sam melted into me like any other chick swooned by my charms (not the case here, I must mention), only he was most certainly not a chick, his frame like to mine; all hard curve and toned muscle and fighting for my yield to a kiss he finally began to return with equal fervour.

Karissa'd said something about locking the door, and she clambered to the handle. The telltale click of the lock being put into place sparked something in Sam. His hands gripped my sides, nearly pulling the very breath from me as he picked me up off the floor. And holy shit, something feminine must have clicked in me because I, christ have mercy upon thy damned soul, wrapped my legs around his waist.

Breaths like hiccups, like laughter, filled me as we fell back against Karissa's bed, Karissa forgotten in the whirlwind that made no sense, had no point, and literally came from nothing and nowhere. His hands were hell on my skin, burning and blistering and so fucking wrong that it just had to be right, and his tongue delving into my mouth like heaven, like this was some fucking revelation meant to be.

Sam; my best friend, my confidante, my partner in crime and my brother in arms.

The fucking bastard wasn't even my right hand man anymore; my wingman'd broken free. I wondered why that was so arousing, Sam being in control and Karissa watching, twirling her silky locks between skilled fingers. I felt her hand stroking my shoulder blades while I sucked on Sam's lower lip, nipping down on slick bruising flesh. My fingers scrabbled at the buttons of his shirt, frustrated at the seemingly difficult of pulling buttons from their eyelets.

It was when my hands splayed out across his bare abdomen, toned and searing beneath my fingers, that I felt his arousal against mine. Like an electric shock, I was jarred, my eyes flitting closed as he instinctively arched into me. And christ, Karissa's slim hand slid around my side and lingered at my belt buckle, and between the two of them, I think I'd found my death.

Eighteen years old, and I, Derek Venturi, finally found something not the least bit boring. Hell, it wasn't even illegal.

Score.

(limo wreck)

Falling in love with Sam was sort of like drowning.

It was like looking up and seeing that glittering surface donning the murky waters of a scabby little mountainside lake; looking up into the sun through those silky strands of algae and soggy plant and not knowing if it was the last time you would ever see such a beautiful thing. It was like looking up into death's most striking pose, a mirror to what you may never have. And no matter how hard you kicked for the surface, no matter how hard you tried to skim that beauty with the tips of your fingers…

…you would always come up short.

So you would accept the fact that this picturesque scene before you was the last you'd ever see. You would acknowledge that of your death, knowing that whatever lay behind black drapes was an endless entity of nothing. A purgatory for those who have sinned, for those who have no remorse for what they have done, but are without the mortality of their wrongdoings.

Well, that might be dramatising things slightly, but fuck if falling in love with your best friend wasn't like drowning. Drowning and dying and knowing it the whole goddamned way down.

We went into this thing like a couple of the stupidest people in the world. We were completely clueless, our inexperience obvious to not only Karissa (who got her kicks out of our tryst like no other) but to ourselves. It was almost endearing, our unfailing ability to fuck something up every time we found ourselves cramped up in the backseat of my car in the outskirts of town with my elbow jabbed into his eye, Sam finding it appropriate to slide his hand up my thigh while driving to the States border for a party on the line, causing an arching swerve and a ticket from a surly state trooper.

And it was amazing how quickly we both adapted. God, I got creeped how turned on he could make me feel just by looking at me, sliding his cap off and wringing it in his hands and looking at me on graduation night. On graduation night where girlfriends jumped into their boyfriends' arms and showered their faces with kisses, when jocks swung their bimbo cheerleaders around and around, like a pirouette of green robe and tassel. Graduation night where I stood idly at Sam's side, smiling small for our secret but broken inside.

That right there was what killed me, tore us both up inside; we were cowardly, reluctant to tell our parents and our friends.

After our high school years were left a good week behind, Karissa became one of our closest friends and the only one we could essentially trust. She stopped throwing those wicked parties and got straight. Sort of. Turns out Karissa Montgomery kept some secrets of her own, one being that Gillian Krauss, the petite redhead next door was a little too friendly to resist. With this new development, Sam and I found ourselves alone together more and more often.

Before this, our meetings were frenzied, laced with the fear of being caught and aroused by that same thought. Then Karissa officially fell in with Gillian and her patent-leather crowd, and we were left without an audience member, a willing participant.

And that was when things really started to change, really started to get fucking weird.

I would sleep over at his place; we would lock the door. And then we would sleep. Strip to our boxers, crawl into bed, and sleep, faces turned in on the pillows and grinning sleepily as morning light poured in through venetian blinds. We would stagger into the shower connected to his room and wash off nothing but the lingering scent of the others' cologne before the clock struck seven. The attraction was there and stronger than ever, but it wasn't necessary to throw the other against the shower wall and forget about things for a while.

I felt so domesticated, so severed from the reputation I'd kept up for school, and I liked it.

Our day-long road trips no longer consisted of frantic groping as the sun set, coveting our actions with a summer's night. That was our initial fall into something much more complex. It was a clue that we eventually unearthed as the truth.

We had delved into something much deeper than a no-strings relationship. We had discovered what it meant to be together. I tried to find the words to describe what we had—anything but that four lettered word—but came up empty-handed and more frustrated than before.

Because what we found was…it was different and exciting and so secretive. So overpowering and so blinding that there were times when we forgot ourselves. Left the world behind and fucking forgot that what we had was taboo in the eyes of so many.

A good example would be when we were sitting on the lawn back in February, our final year in high school winding down to a close. It'd been a few months since that cold November night when all this started. A snow flurry from the previous night had already begun to melt beneath a bright warm sun. Kids down the street were playing, cupping slushy ice in their gloves hands and flinging it onto their friends or parents' cars. Sam and I had slept through the fairly violent storm, his room warm with the addition of a space heater and a new thermostat courtesy of his father's family-owned appliance company uptown.

It being early, Sam's parents were still eating breakfast while we sprawled out on the wet grass despite the fact that we were still in our bedclothes. And that's when we stopped thinking. Sam rubbed a dirty slushball into my face. Instead of shoving him away, pushing his face into the snowy grass, slapping him upside the back of the head…all of those things I should have done…I punished him with a brutal kiss, fingers twining into his hair and teeth bruising cold lips. He stilled only for a moment, inhibitions left in the real world, and then waged back.

And it's just like I said before: falling in love with Sam was sort of like drowning.

But knowing he felt the same way, I was saved.

(superunknown)

I shook past memories from my thoughts as we drove across the Bridge, back to New York. The sounds of the city filtered in through the open windows, pushing cold winter air into the Cherokee, washing out the gentle smell of Sam's hazelnut brew. His hand was in mine, warm and strong as I handled the Jeep with my free hand and a knee. Against my fingers I could feel cool metal on his hand.

I couldn't stop smiling.

And beneath the brim of that old Mets ballcap…neither could he.