Oasis Says: Okay, so I've had this idea for quite a while. It will be a oneshot, unless I specify otherwise in the future; I don't think I will though, so don't expect it. Again, for all you "A.I.T." readers, I apologize for the delay. I'm a bad, bad updater, which is the main reason I adore oneshots. Enjoy.

Coming Out

Derek's dream had been highly amusing, and he was sadly disappointed to wake up just before the really exciting part. There was something poking into his hockey-toned side, just below his ribcage, and he squirmed against it, half-consciously realizing that it was what had woken him. It moved again, and this time, its pressure was accompanied by a slight moan. It was more of a contented, sleepy sigh, really, but it brought Derek to consciousness just the same.

Did I forget again? He opened his eyes, taking a lazy account of his surroundings. Indeed, he had forgotten to "flee the scene of the crime," so to speak. Pink, purple, perfume, perfect, he listed mentally. He was definitely still in Casey's room.

Casey let out another breath, this one sounding slightly like an airy "Derek," and turned over, pulling away the intrusive finger, which had been mindlessly working its way up Derek's bare chest, to rest it on her pillow, next to her forehead.

He could see her clearly, this fact proving that it was well into the morning now, and he smiled slightly at her steadily breathing form. She was a stunning vision, naked, he knew very well, but for the lavender, cotton sheet, which she had drawn up to her chest. Her shoulders, neck, and the cheek he could see around her lustrous, bed-mussed hair were glowing in the ere-noon light with a radiance he could hardly describe. One slender hand was resting beneath her cheekbone, and the other was splayed on her pillowcase, twitching every so often.

The last few days had been stressful, for finals at J.S. Thompson High always came as a hard blow, even to those who studied rigorously. Luckily, Casey had Derek to help her unwind after an eight-day week like the one she'd just endured, and with how they had been wholly exhausted by the end of Friday evening, Derek was unsurprised at the way she was currently crashed.

Recalling the previous night's events, starting with Casey and Derek claiming to be "wiped out because of finals" (not a far stretch from the truth) so they could excuse themselves from the family activities after dinner and ending with him stifling Casey's scream with his lips before they both collapsed into a trembling heap on her bed, Derek cracked a grin and, unable to resist, wrapped his arm around Casey's waist, pressing a gentle kiss to her shoulder. She rolled back to face him, still unconscious, as far as anyone could tell.

Six months. Half a year, and Derek and Casey remained undiscovered, though barely, since Derek kept "forgetting" to leave the room after each escapade. Certain precautions had been taken to ensure their secret being kept, but every day, every longing glance and evening tryst, brought them that much closer to being found out. Somehow though, Derek didn't see that as a bad thing. As of late, his philosophy had been closer to "the sooner, the better" than "better late than never." After all, what would happen if they came out about their romance? How bad could it be?

Sure, there was the probability that their parents would disown them. Derek's reputation at school would be ruined, and Casey's would . . . stay the same, never to improve, as she had always hoped it would. Edwin and Lizzie would most likely be corrupted forever (if they weren't already), and Marti would never understand. And even if they did unveil their relationship, every display of affection would cause the people that knew of their stepsibling relation to cringe and point and whisper.

But, given the fates were smiling, there was the possibility that and George and Nora's love for their precious, albeit sinful, children would overpower their resentment and disgust and that they would accept the relationship . . . eventually. There were only a couple months left at Thompson High, anyway, so all the people who would judge them if they found out, all the people who really did see the pair as "brother and sister," would fade away, never to be seen again. Lizzie and Edwin were already old enough to make their own decisions, without being completely influenced by the actions of their unruly older siblings; Casey even suspected that they knew of Derek's and her relationship and had simply refrained from saying anything. Marti, the littlest of them all, might learn to love Casey as a sister-in-law, instead of just a stepsister. And even if people stared and pointed and whispered, the fact would still remain that Casey and Derek could display their affection, that they could be themselves, with each other, whenever and wherever, without having to hide.

"We have to weigh the pros and cons, Derek," Casey had reasoned when she and Derek had first professed their mutual attraction.

"Okay. One big pro is that we'll finally be getting what we want, what we've both wanted for a long time--each other." Derek had pulled her close as he said this, mouth fervently roaming over hers, almost driving all argument from her.

The pros definitely outweigh the cons . . . And in a few months, we could get married, elope even, whether or not Dad and Nora approve. Wait, what? Derek Venturi, considering marriage? Surely, he was still asleep, or else not thinking clearly. Hadn't he and Sam made a vow never to settle down, to always stay available, just in case they needed some tender lovin' from a hot chick someday down the road?

"Remember, dude: only chicks who're gonna turn ugly want to get married."

Those arrogant, ignorant, sexist words from Derek's own mouth--didn't he still believe them? The fact that he had just labeled them as "sexist" and "ignorant" made him trust that he really didn't.

"What're you thinking?" Casey whispered, jolting Derek out of his stupor. He hadn't even realized she had been staring at him with curious, blue eyes.

"You're awake," he stated dumbly, still surprised by his thoughts.

"Don't kiss a girl if you want her to stay asleep, genius," Casey teased playfully, snuggling against his chest.

Against his will, he lived for these moments, when he and Casey could just be a couple, loving and sweet and the epitome of perfection. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy the spark he felt when fighting with her and wrestling and being his usual, sarcastic self. He just preferred the homey feeling he got when she was in his arms. If only it could be this way all the time. I want out.

"Derek, where are you?" Casey asked quietly, her breath tickling his skin.

"Home," Derek murmured unwittingly, resting his chin atop her head.

Casey's response was drowned out by the sudden, rapid pounding on her bedroom door. "Casey, it's almost noon!" Nora called through the wood, trying the locked doorknob. "Casey?"

The panic in Casey's eyes was immediate, and she sprang away from Derek, hissing, "Noon!? Why didn't you tell me it was so late? Quick, get in the closet!" She pointed the hand that wasn't pulling up her pajama bottoms at the cramped storage space in the corner of her room.

I don't want to be in the closet. Derek stood up, the sheet wrapped around his waist, and went to stand in front of Casey, his expression defiant, if apprehensive.

"Casey?" Nora tried again, worry etching her voice, as she probably heard all the scrambling in the room. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah. Just a minute." Casey dropped her voice, pulling her top over her head. "Derek, are you crazy? Go!" She moved her arms in a shooing motion.

Not anymore. "Casey, we can't spend our whole lives in the closet. We have to come out sometime," Derek declared whimsically, and loudly.

Casey put up her hands to silence him. "Keep your voice down! Do we have to talk about this now? Just--"

"Is everything all right in there?"

"I think we should tell them," Derek said stoically.

"I'm fine, Mom. Just a second!" Casey's eyes were wide with anxiety. "Now? Derek, please just get in the closet. We can talk later--"

"I love you." Though Casey's jaw was the one that dropped, she couldn't have been more shocked than Derek at the unexpected declaration. I love Casey?

"I . . . you do?" Her voice was soft, tepid, and the alarm of potential exposure left her eyes for a moment as she awaited his response.

I do. He shrugged one shoulder, genuine smile baring the unspoken.

"Casey, who are you talking to?"

"No one--Derek!"

Derek was heading toward the door, reaching for the handle, ready to unlock it and open the door to their secret. Casey grabbed for his arm, to pull it away, and she managed to stop him long enough to murmur into his ear, "I love you, too, but I don't--" Flashing his teeth and blocking out the second half of what she had to say, he slipped from her grasp, door opening smoothly in front of him.

"'Sup, Nora?" he greeted casually, leaning against the doorjamb with his arms folded across his chest as Casey's protest died into a squeak, and she hid behind his broad shoulders.

"Derek?" Nora gaped at her stepson, who still wore only the loose-hanging sheet from Casey's bed. Derek gave her an expectant look. "Wha-what are you doing in Casey's room?"

Derek cracked a smirk, cockiness and general, underlying nervousness getting the best of him. "Casey, of course," he quipped while Casey ventured to bring her wincing face into view, holding tight to Derek for support.

"H-hi, Mom."

So, this is what it feels like to come out of the closet . . .

Oasis Says: Well, that certainly didn't turn out like I planned. And now, I'm off to baby-sit. Ta-tah! Review if you like.