A/N: This is an idea I had for a while. It's rather long, for me, for a oneshot. It didn't come out exactly as planned, but it'll do. There's a lot more behind it, or at least more I want to say about it, but I don't want to give anything away, so there will be another note at the bottom.
Enjoy and review
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Making a right at the same corner for the third time, Casey turned off the radio. There was only so many times she could listen to the same holiday songs before getting sick and tired of them. She tapped her finger impatiently on the steering wheel, while driving down the block slowly, occasionally looking out of the rearview mirror.
Finally, after another right, Casey squeezed her car into the too small parking spot, needing to pull out and adjust a couple of times so she wouldn't hit the cars surrounding her. Parallel parking was never one of her favorite things to do, if only she could afford one of those cars that parked itself.
She turned off the car and reached for the bags in the back seat. Managing everything in her glove clad hands; she shut and locked her doors before trekking her way down the block and around the corner.
Casey finally made it to the house and walked up the familiar steps. Ringing the doorbell, she cast a look towards the cloudy sky before someone opened the front door.
"Casey," her mother cried, pulling her into the house and throwing her arms around her. "You know this is still your home, there's absolutely no need to ring the doorbell."
"Merry Christmas mom," Casey said as she placed the bags on the floor so she can properly hug Nora. "And I feel weird just barging in. I haven't really lived here since high school."
"It's still your home," Nora stated again, leaving no room for negotiation.
"Fine, fine," Casey waved her off, shrugging out of her coat and placing her gloves inside the pockets. She tossed it on the rack near the front door before grabbing the bags and removing the wrapped presents and placing them under the tree. She stared at it for a moment, lost in the twinkling lights and mismatched ornaments. The one she made when she was three was hung proudly from a random branch near the top, the red paint on Rudolph's nose almost completely gone. "Where is everyone?" she asked before she could begin to feel sad for not being there to hang up the ornament herself.
"Marti's in the kitchen with George, she's trying to convince him that she deserves a car. Something about her mental age not reflecting her physical one. There was some equation involved and a printout of suitable cars, all of which were convertibles."
"You're kidding. She's not even thirteen yet," Casey said.
"Tell me about it," Nora smiled. "And the other two are upstairs. I think Edwin left his wrapping until the last minute, because I overheard Lizzie yelling at him about newspaper not being proper gift wrap."
"He didn't," Casey's mouth dropped open in shock.
"Oh yes he did," Lizzie said, coming down the stairs, followed by a sheepish looking Edwin with an arm full of gifts wrapped in blue and silver paper.
"Forgot one?" Nora asked, gesturing to the last one he placed under the tree, which had the classified section facing the room.
Edwin shrugged. "Lizzie refused to wrap her own."
"I didn't want to spoil it." She smacked his arm. "Now I'm going to go run my hands under the sink for a couple of hours. Hopefully that will be enough time to get this grime off," she waved her hands in front of her face, showing off the blackened spots from the newspaper. She half hugged Casey as she passed on her way towards the kitchen, "Merry Christmas sis. When I'm clean I'll give you a real one."
"I'm holding you to it," Casey told her retreating form. "And do I not get a hug from you?" she turned around and asked.
"Only if you must," Edwin said grinning, before walking around the couch and hugging her. She was a bit shocked to learn that he now far surpassed her in height. "Oh, and thanks again for the desk chair, it looks great in my room."
"Edwin," Nora scolded. "I told you not to go into either Casey or Derek's rooms. Just because they don't sleep here doesn't mean that it gives you the right to invade their privacy or take their stuff."
"And he better not have taken anything of mine," Derek said from the doorway, kicking it shut behind him while tossing the gift bags in his hands under the tree and taking off his coat.
"Shouldn't you have knocked?" Casey said, sitting down on the couch, arms crossed in front of her.
"Why? It's my house," he stated, which earned him a grin from Nora and a roll of the eyes from Casey. "Sorry I'm late; traffic was a bi- . . . Hey Smarti!"
"Smerek," Marti yelled from the kitchen doorway, before running through the house until she landed herself in Derek's arms. He was just able to toss his coat on the rack before she almost tackled him to the floor. "Dad's going to buy me a car!"
"What? Lizzie and I still have to share that piece of cra-" Nora glared at him. "I mean, uh . . ." Casey watched as his eyes shifted nervously from Nora's face to the floor. Finally, he threw his arms up into the air and started gesturing wildly. "Come on, you know Derek never took care of his car. It's barely getting us to school anymore."
"Well, you both have jobs. And Derek did eventually buy his own car."
"My baby," Derek said, smiling affectionately and pushing the curtain aside to look out the window.
"Wait, you got a spot on the block?" Casey asked.
"Not exactly," he answered vaguely before turning to Marti. "So what kind of car is dad buying you?"
"A matchbox car the next time I go to the store." George said smiling, kissing Nora on the cheek as he passed. He stopped behind the couch to drop a kiss on Casey's forehead before going over to Marti and Derek.
"What do you mean 'not exactly'?" Casey questioned while getting up and making her way to the window as George wished Derek a 'Merry Christmas'. "I drive around the block for twenty five minutes trying to find a spot and when Derek shows up one miraculously opens up for him," she muttered, eyes darting up the down the block looking for his car.
"One didn't just open up for me," he told her, coming up behind her and pointing over her shoulder. She followed his finger and turned around to face him.
"You parked in the Davis' driveway?" she asked incredulously.
He shrugged as George chuckled. "It's not like they're home. Probably out at some distant relative's place anyway."
"You're so inconsiderate," Casey fumed. "What if they come back early or something? It's so like you to do something like this."
"What? Make my life easier?" he asked, stepping closer and pointing past her shoulder. "Do you see how crowded this block is? You're just mad that I thought of something you didn't."
Casey roughly pushed his arm away from her face, narrowing her eyes. "Oh yes, I'm so mad that I didn't think of something that will most likely make someone else's life difficult."
"Ha-ha, I won," Casey turned to see Lizzie walking towards them. She hugged Derek, turned to give Casey a proper hug, before rounding on Edwin and holding out her hand, palm up.
Edwin grumbled something under his breath before digging out his wallet and placing money into Lizzie's hand. She looked down before looking back up at Edwin, raising an eyebrow in question. "I don't have anymore on me," he told her, showing Lizzie his empty wallet. "You're going to have to wait for me to hit the bank."
"Fine, but just this once Venturi. Next time don't make a bet if you don't have the funds to back it up."
"Hey, I have the money. I just honestly didn't think I'd lose."
"What did I say about betting in this house?" Nora yelled at the same time Derek asked, completely shocked "You lost to a MacDonald?"
Seeing the retort on Casey's lips, and Marti's giggling instigations, George spoke loudly. "Ok, enough people, its Christmas. No more betting, no more fighting. Now," George lowered his voice and head, bending between Lizzie and Edwin, wrapping an arm around each of their shoulders. "What was this bet about?"
"Whether or not Casey and Derek would argue, at all," Lizzie informed him.
George's head spun in Edwin's direction. "And you thought they wouldn't? No wonder you lost."
"Ugh," Nora said, throwing her hands up in the air before walking towards the kitchen.
Casey left the rest of her family and followed her mother. The kitchen was filled with the smell of some of Casey's favorite foods. She missed her mother's cooking and couldn't wait for their early Christmas dinner to be ready. Or the leftovers she planned on taking back to her apartment with her.
Settling in next to her mother, Casey took over peeling the potatoes as Nora moved to stir something that was on the stove. Casey enjoyed the silence, but she knew that her mother was itching to talk to her about something she's been avoiding for a while now.
"So," Nora began. "I'm really glad that you've decided to move back to Canada."
"And I'm glad to be back and closer to everyone." Casey paused, allowing Nora to comment, but when nothing came she continued. "It's not like I was planning on being away forever. It was just college."
"I know honey. It was just a shock to find out that you decided to come back. I figured you started a life out there for yourself. It was four years." She trailed off, not wanting to let Casey know how upset she was not being part of her everyday life for so long. "And now that you're back, I still don't see you as much as I used to."
"No, no don't feel bad. I don't mean for this to come out this way." She swiped the back of her hand over her eyes. "It's just that you moved into your apartment a couple of months ago and I haven't been there yet and-"
"I don't mean to be so distant, but I've been really busy. With moving and finding a job and now evening classes for my Masters, I have a lot on my plate." She walked across the kitchen to hug Nora. "I still love you."
"I know you do. But you could have moved back home if it was too much to handle."
Casey pulled back and looked Nora in the face. "It's not too much to handle, but would you have moved back home after you were on your own for a while? And remember that I would have come back to Liz, Ed and Marti."
Nora chuckled. "Well, no. I guess I can understand. But promise me you won't be such a stranger."
"As long as you promise to stop crying. It's Christmas and I haven't even started on the onions yet." Both laughed and Casey went back to the counter, now dicing the potatoes she peeled.
They worked together silently, Nora occasionally adding spices to the several pots on the stove as Casey rinsed the potatoes and began chopping carrots.
"So," Nora began again, causing Casey to roll her eyes. "How is the apartment? Nice neighbors? Anyone catch your eye?"
"No," Casey said slowly, turning and raising an eyebrow in her mother's direction.
"Oh, I was just wondering because you never mentioned anyone through all your years away at school. Just figured you were too into your studies to worry about things like that, but now that you've been on your own for a while, your classes only starting a couple of weeks ago . . ." she trailed off, allowing Casey to fill in the question about her love life.
Someone laughed from the doorway and Casey turned to see Derek leaning against the sliding doors, arms hanging at his sides, one leg bent and foot against the door.
"Like 'plain Jane' Casey could actually catch the attention of a guy," a small chuckle escaped his lips as he pushed off the wall and walked into the room.
"Derek," Nora's tone was threatening and Derek took the hint, grabbing a piece of carrot and popping it into his mouth, smirking at Casey the entire time.
"So Nora, about how much longer until we eat?" he asked, eyeing the homemade stuffing sitting on the island top.
Noticing where his eyes were, Nora grabbed the pan and placed it on the counter next to her. "Around two hours, maybe less."
"Do you think we can do gifts before then?"
She turned away from the stove to look at him, just as Edwin and Lizzie entered the room. Edwin reached for a carrot, but was stopped when Lizzie slapped his hand away before grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator. "But we always open presents after dinner."
"You want to do it before?" Edwin asked Derek, finally sneaking the piece of carrot when Lizzie turned. "Why?" he asked when Derek nodded.
"I have a date," he told him. Nora looked at Casey out of the corner of her eye and Casey shrugged one shoulder, pulling more carrots out of the bag to chop.
"But its Christmas," Lizzie said as if she was personally offended.
"Yeah I know, that means the movie theater will be almost empty," he winked at Edwin, and Casey noticed the awe and hero worship on Edwin's face. "I kind of have to be out of here by around four if I want to make it on time to pick her up."
Nora turned to face Derek, spoon dripping gravy on the floor. She eyed him suspiciously for a few moments. "And where exactly will you be picking her up from? Anywhere near your place?"
"Nope," Derek shook his head. "Don't ask."
"But we still don't even know where you live, it could be hours away." The spoon returned to the pot but Nora kept looking at Derek, as if willing him to tell her about his life. "We don't even know when you came back to Canada."
"Look, I don't ask questions about what everyone else does, so I expect the same courtesy."
"I didn't even know you knew that word," Casey mused.
"Ha-ha. And you know I came back sometime after graduation. I just don't want everyone thinking that they could drop in when they feel like it." He paused, smiling apologetically at Nora. "Now, are we opening before dinner or am I taking my gifts with me when I leave."
Defeat was evident in Nora's eyes, but she still glared at Derek before turning her back to him and saying "Alright, we'll start in a couple if minutes."
"Thanks Nora," he said as he took another carrot and walked out of the room, Casey rolling her eyes as she reached for another carrot to chop.
Lizzie made a face at their backs, glowering when she noticed Edwin had a carrot of his own in his hand. "Men," she spat.
"Boys," Nora corrected and they all started laughing.
A short while later, the Venturi/MacDonald family was sitting in the living room, surrounding the tree. From the time Marti was able to read everyone's name, she started an impromptu tradition where she would give out gifts to people, according to the size of the gift. No one ever questioned her on why the biggest were given first, they all rationalized that it was because at the time Marti was still receiving rather large toys, so she was always able to open her gifts first. Since then, they just went along with it.
So Marti passed out the gifts, the first few she opened herself. As the pile dwindled, Casey had yet to open anything. Marti was mostly finished, Lizzie unwrapped her last one, given by Edwin, making her go wash the newspaper ink off her hands again. Edwin, George and Nora had also finished opening all of their gifts.
Finally getting passed a gift, Casey ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the gift box to find a soft black sweater from Lizzie. "Aww, thanks Liz. I really like it," Casey said, leaning over the pile of discarded gift wrap to throw an arm around her sister. She was then handed three envelopes, all of which contained gift cards from the Edwin, Marti and George and Nora. Thanks were also given out.
Marti then handed Derek his last gift, which was from Casey. He unwrapped and looked at it for a moment. "A Sports Illustrated magazine? Thanks Case, you're too kind."
"I try," she told him; the rest of the family rolled their eyes.
"Derek?" Marti frowned after opening her last gift. "Didn't you get anything for Casey?" she asked, looking underneath the tree again.
"Oh," he said, getting up from his chair and walking towards his coat. He pulled a small gift bag out of the pocket and threw it in Casey's direction, making her duck to avoid getting hit in the face.
She opened the bag and pulled back the tissue paper. A black pair of socks was removed from the bag. Casey looked up and her eyes settled on Derek, who smirked.
"They're amazing," she deadpanned, tossing them back into the bag.
"Are you two kidding me?" George asked, looking back and forth between Derek and Casey. "Is that really what you got each other?"
"Hey, she said they were amazing."
"And he thanked me for the magazine!"
"Just let it go George," Nora told him, placing a hand on his arm. George rolled his eyes and moved to get up from the couch. It took two attempts for him to get to his feet. "I'm getting old," he said to himself.
"Getting?" Derek questioned.
George kicked some wrapping paper towards Derek. "Not funny. Now clean up this mess. I'm sure dinner is almost ready anyway."
"The turkey!" Nora screamed, jumping off the couch and running towards the kitchen
"Looks like Nora isn't as old as you," Edwin told his father.
George glared, "Help your brother clean this up."
After the living room was cleaned of all the seasonal paper that was strewn all over the floor, everyone helped Nora bring the several dishes from the kitchen into the dining. It was agreed years earlier, during Casey and Derek's first Christmas break from college that holiday meals would be devoid of all arguments. Happy family moments were few and far between for the Venturi/MacDonald clan that they all agreed, Derek and Casey needed a little convincing, that these special times when everyone was together would pass pretending that they were a happy family. Pretending being the operative word, since Derek and Casey would normally speak to everyone else and avoid each other.
So they ate happily, small conversations took place between chewing and thanking Nora for such a delicious meal. And just as the last fork kit the table, Derek stood and began to gather his presents.
"Do you really have to leave?" George asked, leaning back in his chair and giving a pleading look to his eldest.
"Yes dad," Derek said as he put on his shoes. "I made plans and I'm not going to break them."
"Wow, Derek actually-"
"Casey," Nora warned.
"Yeah Casey," Derek mimicked, sticking out his tongue.
"Fine," both Derek and Casey said, turning away from the other.
Slipping into his coat, Derek walked back over to the table and hugged everyone, with Casey being the exception, where he messed up her hair. "Merry Christmas guys," he said to everyone. "Casey," he said.
"Derek," she copied his tone. The others said their goodbyes and wished him a safe trip home before he shut the door.
Casey helped pack up the leftovers, making sure to put more of the apple pie and stuffing into the bags she was taking home with her than anything else. She put the dishes into the dishwasher with Marti's help, then joined the rest of their family in the living room and watched as Lizzie beat Edwin at his new video game.
"Oh, it's snowing," Nora commented after a while, making Casey look out the window.
"I really should be going then," she said, standing and collecting her things. "I don't want to drive if it gets too heavy."
"You can always spend the night," Lizzie suggested, taking her eyes off the screen for a second, allowing Edwin to take the lead.
"No, no. I have to do a couple of things for work on Monday that I don't want to leave for the last minute." Casey hugged and kissed everyone, before putting on her coat and gloves, picking up her bags full of food and gifts. "I'll visit soon," she told them
About an hour later Casey was parking in front of her apartment building. Gathering everything, she made her way across the street, snow gathering on her clothing and hair as she walked to her apartment. Unlocking the door and stepping into the apartment, she put the bags down and began to pull off her gloves, until she was pushed up against the door, making it close behind her.
"I missed you," she heard, making her chuckle softly. Anything else she planned on saying was cut off when he kissed her. His hands traveled from her hair to her cheeks, thumbs lightly brushing her eyelids, removing the snowflakes and smearing her makeup in the process.
"Did you have a nice Christmas?" he asked, kissing the dark mark to the side of her right eye, then the one right below her left one as his hand reached behind her and turned the lock on the door.
"Mmhmm," Casey said as he helped her pull off her coat and let it drop to the floor.
"Get anything nice?" His lips were now near her ear.
"All gift cards, I'm sure," he told her, traveling down her neck.
She laughed, hands running through his hair. "My sister did give me a lovely sweater."
"Matching scarf?" he asked, pushing her shirt out of the way, lips descending on her collarbone.
"No, but I did get a pair of amazing socks." This time he laughed. "Do you," she paused and bit her lower lip. "Do you think I'm plain?"
He stilled, took a deep breath and pecked her shoulder. "Casey-"
"You see," she cut him off. "My obnoxious step-brother called me a 'plain Jane', and I was wondering if I actually am."
His index finger hooked itself under her bra strap and moved up and down. "When are you going to let me kick his ass?" he spoke softly into her shoulder.
He wasn't able to see the grin on her face. "Oh, I dunno. I wouldn't want to you get hurt." Casey took a deep breath to control the laughter trying to escape.
Pulling the bra strap back, he released it and let it slap her skin. The laughter she was trying to suppress erupted, making him nip at her skin before bending and picking her up, throwing her over his shoulder.
"Derek," she half-screamed, half-laughed as he carried her to their bedroom, kicking the door shut behind them.
Casey was falling asleep because Derek kept playing with her hair. He knew that it was a weakness of hers, and yet he kept running his hands through it, lightly scratching her scalp.
"Want your present now?" he asked, pushing a few strands out of her face and dropping a kiss on her temple.
She turned over to look at him. "You mean that there's more than the socks?"
He rolled his eyes. "Of course I got you more than a pair of Seven-Eleven socks."
"They sell socks at Seven-Eleven?" she asked, raising herself on her elbow.
"I know, I was shocked too. I planned on picking you up a pack of gum, but then it might have looked odd if I got you a pack that you liked. And I couldn't bring myself to get you something I knew you wouldn't like, so when I saw the socks I figured they were perfect . . ." Her grin made him stop babbling. "What?" he asked.
"You actually took the time and thought about it."
"Shut up," he told her, wrapping some hair around a finger and tugging lightly. "And at least I spent some money on your fake gift. I know you took that magazine off the table in the living room. The page I was reading was folded down."
"I didn't want you to lose your place," she told him.
"Well, I think I should get my gift first since I did spend some money on your fake gift."
Casey rolled her eyes and crawled over him and off the bed. She rummaged through the closet for a moment before coming out with a small box and envelope. He sat up and leaned against the headboard, taking the box into his lap as she sat across from him. He opened the envelope first to find airplane tickets to New York, along with tickets to a Devils/Rangers game.
"Casey, this must have been really expensive." She shook her head and motioned towards the box. He lifted the lid and found it to be filled with business cards. Pulling one out, Derek saw the name of the small production company he started for filming private parties and small weddings in the area, along with the email address and phone number he started for it. "Thank you," he said, leaning over and kissing her.
"You like them?" she asked.
"Yes," he told her, kissing her again because he didn't know what to say to let her know how much it meant to him. "Now it's time for your gift." He placed the box and envelope on the nightstand and walked out of the room.
She crossed her legs under her and listened as Derek made his way back to the bedroom. He entered, holding a box with holes in it, wrapped in red paper and a green bow. He placed it next to her and sat down on the other side of it. Casey untied the bow and lifted the lid to find a small black kitten with spots of orange and white all over it.
Casey gasped and leaned over the box, getting a better look at the kitten. "Speckles," she said after a moment.
"Speckles?" Derek asked with a laugh.
"Yes Speckles," she said warningly, reaching into the box and scratching Speckles between the ears. The kitten purred and leaned into Casey hand, brushing its wet nose against her palm. "Thank you Derek," she told him as she lifted the kitten out of the box.
He nodded and watched as Casey brought Speckles to her chest and began stroking her. Speckles continued to purr as Casey's hand caught on her collar. Admiring the interwoven black and silver strands of the collar, Casey hand brushed against something on the underside of Speckles neck. Spinning the collar to get a better look at it, Casey's hand stilled when a diamond ring came into view.
"Derek?" she asked, looking up and at him.
Reaching out, Derek plucked Speckles from her hands and undid the collar, removing the ring, before placing the kitten back into the box. "Will you?"
Tears fell from her eyes as she nodded, crawling across the bed and throwing her arms around Derek. "Yes," she got out after a while, kissing his neck, cheek, everything in her path to his lips. Pulling back, she eyed the box on the floor before looking at Derek. "I still get to keep Speckles right?"
"Of course you do," he told her, slipping the ring on her finger.
Later that night, when they were cuddled in bed, Casey stroking Speckles' back as Derek played with her hair; Casey asked "When are we going to tell everyone?"
"Um," Derek began, hand continuously moving. "We might need a long engagement."
She kissed him before turning over and snuggling into his side. "A long engagement," she agreed.
"Hey Casey, you did bring home some of Nora's stuffing right?" Derek asked.
Casey nodded, eyes closing. "And some apple pie too."
"I love you," he told her, tightening the arm that was draped over her waist.
She laughed sleepily, "I love you too."
A/N-2: So, first of all, this isn't supposed to be a holiday story, or an engagement one, but those things just kind of fit into it. When I thought about it, I imagined something that could be like a sequel or companion piece to my An Observational Understanding. I loved that story and wanted to add to it. However, I felt that this could stand on its own, showing the two of them hiding their relationship for so long and leading something of a double life. It's up to you whether you want to think of it attached to the other story.
The title took me a while to figure out; I had it saved on my computer for a while as Untitled LwD Oneshot. The other day at work someone said clandestine, which means private or secret, and I fell in love.
I really hope you all enjoyed it.