A/N: A Dasey plot bunny spun out of control. Hope you have as much fun reading as I did writing.

Spoilers: Slight for Power Failure and Summer School Blues

Disclaimer: Not mine.

This feels like the place between what is and might have been
So I guess this is where we both find out
If this was meant to be

Lincoln Avenue, Train

In a sea of short, tight and black, her dress was blue to match her eyes and fluttered around her ankles as she danced.

He watched from behind his guitar as she moved from partner to partner on the makeshift dance floor. Being in the band had it's advantages, not the least of which was an elevated view of the party, throngs of people moving rhythmically on the floor in front of them or else milling over by the kegs, a cluster of giggly girls standing right up by the platform where the band was playing. Dancing in place and showing too much skin, hoping it looked like their skirts were accidentally riding up or they just hadn't noticed straps were falling off their shoulders. He should have taken the time to inspect this line up, mentally choosing one or two of the D-Rock groupies to prey upon during between set breaks. They were so easy, too easy.

He tracked her through the crowd instead, not understanding how she could be so graceful and uninhibited while dancing, yet so uncoordinated and self conscious as soon as the music stopped. He watched her leaving the guys in her wake, oblivious to their attempts to capture her attention, her affection. She was in her own world with just her dancing and his music.

Casey spun easily between partners almost unmindful as to who she was dancing with, just taking in the beat of the base drum, her pulse quickly adjusting to each new song. Some of them were covers, some of them she recognized from D-Rock practices in the living room, it didn't really matter. She just swayed, staying only in the moment, ever confident and on form.

Only once did she miss step, when she had looked up during Derek's guitar solo to find his eyes on her. Out of all the people in the crowd, girls in skimpy, clingy dresses with their cleavage out in invitation, he was watching her, following her progress with his eyes. She held his gaze then eyed the row of fan girls standing at the foot of the stage and looked back at him with a raised eye brow, silently questioning.

With so many to chose from, Casey couldn't understand why he was looking at her that way, making her head spin from across the room. The look was intense and meaningful sending whirls of uncertainty to her stomach. Before she had a chance to steal her nerves against it, he flashed a grin at her that told her nothing but made her knees weaker just the same. He couldn't really be looking at her that way. It was just the effects of the black lights, the pulsating in her ears and strobe lights flashing could make things seem more extreme, less real.

The air inside the warehouse turned rave was humid and heavy. Casey suddenly found it difficult to catch her breath. She needed fresh air and time away from the pounding music to clear her head. She made her way through the mass of sweaty gyrating bodies, past the gaggle of D-Rock admirers and out into the cold winter air that stung her lungs and her cheeks and made her eyes water. She crunched her way across frozen ground to perch atop a picnic table, relishing the feel of icy breeze on her over heated skin.

Her body was warm and loose from hours of dancing. She loved the freedom she found when she danced, not having to think about anything when she was on the dance floor. No worries about her mid term scores or impending graduation and if she would really make valedictorian or which university she would choose as the stack of acceptance letters continued to grow or how all those girls inside were just standing in line to take away the only boy she would ever love.

Casey had waited patiently for Derek to grow up and get over himself. She hated all those girls with no pride and chest measurements higher than their IQ. How dare they think they want him when all they know about Derek was that he's a decent guitarist and an awesome forward?

They didn't see the goofy guy who could make her laugh like no one else or his competitive streak that made her try harder than she ever would have on her own. The didn't understand that underneath all that bullshit he spewed at school there was the guy who still gave his little sister piggyback rides upstairs at bedtime or helped Edwin with his problems, both in math and with girls. The boy who would do anything for her if she asked nicely and threatened to tell George about how his bumper really got that dent. Those girls were so busy checking out the guy with messy hair and cute grin that they didn't recognize the potential at his core, the man he could become. And it broke Casey's heart because she saw what no one else bothered to look for and yet was helpless to do anything about it.

He had liked those girls because they required very little effort. If there was one thing that Casey understood about Derek, it was that unless it involved ice & a puck, Derek would always take the path of least resistance. But she had helped him overcome that, showing him that if he just put out some sort of effort, he could be so much better than average.

Every once in a while he'd let little things slip and she'd know that he was grateful for their competitive relationship because he understood it was making him a better person. She'd look away in those times, before he caught her blush. The electric tension between them continued to grow. While at fifteen it had been a physical attraction, the result of two health teenagers in constant close proximity, now she wanted more than to admire his biceps, she liked talking to him, valued his opinion and worse yet she missed him when he wasn't around.

Gone were the days where they would wrestle over the remote or the bathroom or the last of the Pop Tarts because physical contact was just too much to keep in check. Their last struggle had started innocently enough but had ended abruptly with Casey pinned between Derek and the wall, his body flush against hers, both her wrists trapped above her head, held in the strong grip of his right hand while his left had sank into her hair. With their legs intertwined and his breath hot in her face she had felt his erection pressing into her hip and as he moved to avoid contact she had arched almost involuntarily into him. Wanting to feel the reaction his body had to hers, knowing she had felt the same way. His eyes flew to her face as she pressed her hips into him again.

The shock she saw there only lasted a moment before the look darkened with want and he kissed her; lips pressing insistently until she surrendered her mouth to him, bodies pressing closer as he released her captured wrists and plunged his other hand into her hair. She had snaked both her arms around his waist and up his back. Warm skin and muscles shaking with barely contained restraint played under her finger tips as his tongue ravaged her mouth, exploring, staking claim and sending waves of pleasure through her. She ground her pelvis against his thigh, trying to alleviate the warm pressure building up between her legs and he bit her lower lip gently in response.

She let out a low moan that was the beginning of his name before he claimed her lips again. This time more gently, less urgently and she clung to him, helpless to do anything but kiss him back with equal reverence. For while their first kiss had been a flame of lustful desire, this second kiss was slower and spoke of scarier unexplored emotions neither of them were ready to discuss. As he pulled away to look her in the eye she saw him. The real Derek that was so skillfully masked behind the cool guy, popular persona and she fell in that moment with his eyes soft, brown and beautiful staring into her.

She felt the tears well up, stinging as she tried to bite them back. She kissed the hollow of his collar bone and whispered breathily through quivering lips as she broke out of his grasp, his fingers reaching and closing around her hips.

"I hate being related to you."

She said it with such regret, such agony that he had let her go, let her hide in the confines of her room for the remainder of that weekend and hadn't dared to touch her again.

And now all he had to do was pick from a line up. None of those girls were good enough, why couldn't he see that? Maybe he did, it had been her who had run and hid. Maybe she had made a mistake. There were only a few months left until graduation and then what. Was she really going to just let him leave? She was pulled out of her reverie by sudden warmth being draped over her shoulders.

"I brought your coat. It's too cold out here."

Sitting beside her on the table top, feet resting on the bench beside hers, he folded his hands letting them fall between his knees. His knuckles were white from the effort it took not to touch her.

"Thanks"

She nudged his shoulder with hers and he swayed dramatically to the right before sitting upright again. His uncharacteristic silence was throwing her off balance.

"It was really cool of D-Rock to play Emily's New Year's party"

"Yeah well, when the lead vocalist is dating the hostess it's kinda hard to say no. And Emily Davis ends up throwing the event of the year, who could have guessed?"

She waited for the insult and when none came she leaned into him again, breathing in his soapy, leathery scent.

"I think that has more to do with the band and less to do with Emily. But she's on cloud nine, so I won't say anything if you don't."

"So, why are you out here all mopey? There have got to be a few guys whose toes you haven't trampled left in there."

She hadn't moved and their shoulders were still flush against each other, neither wanting to relinquish the contact, neither daring to look at the other. She stared at his hands, wanting them on her.

"And there are plenty of fan girls waiting in the wings for you to choose from, aren't there?"

She had tried for casual, but it came out snarky and she winced, wondering if he picked up on her tone. He grinned down at her. Yup, he caught that. He sighed contentedly, stretching his arms out behind him and leaning back to get a better view of her face. She looked incredible with her flushed cheeks and bright eyes. He had to physically restrain himself from reaching out and brushing her hair back off her neck. God, he wanted her.

Still.

Always.

"I'm beginning to think fan girls are overrated."

She looked back at him suspiciously but when he didn't elaborate she said

"Yes, I suppose even you can handle a lack of substance for only so long".

She smirked and he grinned and he fell in love with her all over again. He was tired of playing this game with her. Tired of worrying about what everyone else would think or say. He had kissed a lot of girls and no one had ever made him come so close to loosing it as the one sitting with him right now. He knew she understood him better than anyone else. That used to scare him, now it only made him want her more.

"Congratulations, by the way"

She had broken the silence, but refused to look at him, afraid her voice would crack.

"Early acceptance to UCLA film school, that's huge Derek, I'm really proud of you"

"I couldn't have done it without you. My GPA has jumped like a point and a half since dad married Nora. I think it's because you like to beat me at everything and I hate to lose, which forced me to study and do community service. So, thanks Case, for getting me into my first choice university."

"Your first choice, well you couldn't have gotten further from home without leaving the North American content I guess."

While she tried to sound like she was teasing, Derek knew she was genuinely upset. Did she think he was trying to get away from her? Well, it's now or never he thought as he sat back up and reached for her hand. Sliding his fingers between hers made his skin tingle and his pulse quicken. She audibly inhaled, surprised by the gesture and her own reaction to his slightest touch.

"Everyone expected me to take the hockey scholarship, but I want to try this film school thing. I know if I don't, I'm going to regret it for the rest of my life. Always wondering what might have happened if I had just taken the risk, you know? Don't you want to do something that makes you come alive, not just what everyone else expects you to do, but something better?"

She eyed him cautiously. Was he still talking about university or was he talking about something else, something about them and the reason her heart was pounding in her ears. She leaned into him again and when he slipped his hand from hers she almost protested until his arm slid around her waist. Moving her legs onto his and resting her head in the space between his shoulder and his neck she felt at peace with herself for the first time in months. She spoke to her hands clenched tightly in her lap.

"I haven't opened any of my acceptance letters. My applications were all about English and Civics and Pre-Law or Pre-Med, but I don't want to do any of that stuff. What's my mom going to say when I tell her I want to be a ballerina when I grow up?"

She giggled through the tears that were threatening to fall. She had been so stressed for so long and she hadn't even understood why. But Derek, who always knows what he wants and goes after it, knew that she couldn't make a choice between those schools because she didn't want any of them. She may have shown Derek how to be more diligent and try, but he was showing her how to follow her own path, that it was okay to step out and take those risks, because if she didn't how would she ever know she was truly living. Dancing made her feel alive, being like this with Derek made her feel alive, why was she trying to fight it?

He pulled her closer, almost into his lap. She could see his pulse beating in this neck and reached out cool fingers to his warm skin, playing with the leather cord and silver circle around his neck, craving more of him. His voice was graveled, low and thick as he forced her to meet his eyes.

"I hate being related to you too."

He said it almost as softly as she had, like the endearment he wanted to confess, but could not. Her lips met his in a rush of warmth while she burrowed her body closer and his tongue met hers expertly. He pulled her closer against him, her arms sliding around his neck hands playing into his astonishingly soft hair. His hard chest pressed firmly against her breasts, making her ache. He held her tighter, strong hands gripping the soft fabric of her dress. This was real, this was rare and Derek wondered if everyone who says they're in love feels this intensely, insanely lucky or if it is something only he and Casey share. He pulled away from her and she let a pathetic little whine escape her lips.

"Come with me"

"What? Where?"

She was not sure if was the residual effects of the kiss that have left her too intoxicated to comprehend his request or if she missed some crucial detail.

"UCLA has a world class dance program; it's where all the Laker Girls come from. Come with me."

His eyes were dancing at the prospect and she couldn't help but laugh out loud at his wide, open smile. He obviously had not thought this through at all. She pointed between them as she tried repeating his request back to him, to see if it came out sounding any less ridiculous.

"You want me to go with you to UCLA when your reason for picking a school in California was the Three B's: beaches, blonds and bikinis, not necessarily in that order. Give me one good reason why I should even consider it."

She was smiling in spite of herself, falling naturally to challenging him and he wanted nothing more than to kiss her again and then again. She was perfectly imperfect with her girly insecurities and amazing mouth. He was torn between wanting to announce to the entire world that he loved this woman and wanting to keep her all to himself for fear of having her one day realize that all those girls who followed him around couldn't compete with her. She wore blue when everyone else was in black. She was beautiful, brilliant and for some reason he had yet to figure out she was worried about him wanting someone else. Didn't she know that it was always her, had always been her? That none of his relationships had ever worked, even when he wanted them to, because none of the other girls were enough like her to even allow himself to pretend for a while. He could date everyone in Canada, sleep with every glamour girl in California, but nothing was going to make him feel as right as this.

"Casey, I know you know how to read between the innuendo, I only say stuff like that to piss you off. Besides, haven't we already established that I could use a little more substance in my life? Don't you get it, if you come with me you can just be Casey, I can just be Derek. We could just be. Together. Come with me."

He could almost see the gears grinding in her head. She was going to over think this, try to be logical and responsible and brush him off like he'd been joking then walk away from this, again. He didn't understand how anyone could just decide to walk away from kisses that felt like this. He was drawn to her, magnetically pulled in her direction, even when he tried to fight it, he couldn't. Was it really that easy for her to just turn her back and say no more? He needed her to stop thinking and start feeling. Jumping from his seat, he took both his hands in his, pulling her down to stand with him. He leaned in close, brushing her cheek with his nose, his hands at her waist, under her coat, the soft fabric rippling under his fingers when she trembled at his touch, his nearness.

"Dance with me."

She pulled away, certain she had heard incorrectly. She raised an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest, forcing him to step back, challenging him again.

"I thought Derek Venturi didn't dance."

He pushed a shaky hand through his meticulously unkempt hair and shruged a shoulder, giving her a look that spoke volumes as to how much she really did know him inside and out.

"He doesn't, not when other people are watching anyway."

While their eyes met in silent understanding, the back door opened spilling noise and flashing lights onto the otherwise somber conversation. Emily's perky face poking through.

"Come on you two, it's almost midnight!"

She looked at him regretfully, knowing she had missed her chance for at least a dance. Maybe more. Was she really considering his suggestion? Was she actually thinking about applying to UCLA just to follow Derek? What had happened to her strong feminist character? She, Casey, was going to choose a university based on a guy? How pathetic did he think she was? Why would she do that, it was the most important decision of her life. As they turned to follow Emily inside his hand fell to the small of her back, guiding her gently. The gesture brought back the fluttery giddy feeling that started in her chest and ended at her toes and Casey couldn't imagine going anywhere else but with him.

The warehouse was still humid and someone had turned on a fog machine so the strobe lights hung in the air like lighting in the clouds. As they worked their way through the jumping, grinding bodies on the dance floor he pulled her closer and secured his grip so he wouldn't loose her in the mist of all the confusion. She stopped suddenly and his hand fell instinctively to her hip while she turned to face him. She gripped his upper arms, soft leather slightly wet from the fake fog around them. The count down had begun. She went up on her toes to question directly in his ear eliminating some of the crowd noise.

TEN

"How do you know it'll work?"

He looked at her and knew she had already made up her mind. She just wanted him to say she would be okay. She had never been good with uncertainty. But for Derek, this was the only thing of which he was truly certain. He held her firmly so there would be no way she could escape into the screaming masses around them.

NINE

"How do you know it won't?"

EIGHT

"What if it doesn't last?"

SEVEN

"What if it does?"

SIX

"Stop doing that!"

FIVE

"Say you'll come with me."

FOUR

"You're relentless!"

THREE

"And you're stubborn!"

TWO

"But you love me."

ONE

"Well, you love me back."

Throngs of people shouted to the New Year while confetti fell like snow in sticky clumps. Derek pulled Casey into him, her arms sliding up his shoulders around his neck, fingers playing through the hair curling at his collar. His lips found her jaw and trailed moist kisses up to her ear. Pulling the lobe between his teeth, he felt more than heard another moan escape her lips. Warm breath on his neck made the skin there break out in gooseflesh before he whispered in her ear.

"Come with me."

"I haven't even applied."

It was time for his last set. He pulled her toward the front of the building. They were so close; he wasn't going to let it drop now. The cheers and noise maker blasts were dying down while the band began to assemble on stage. He picked up his guitar at the foot of the stairs and turned back to face her, fingers sliding into her hair urging her closer so their noses almost clashed together. He took a deep breath, inhaling her as her hands came to rest on his chest. She could feel the pounding through his body and was suddenly warm in her coat. Ralph was counting out the beat for the next song and Derek pulled away slightly to look her in the eye.

"Say yes."

She still could not believe that of all the guys, it was Derek who made her feel like this. Derek who made her feel sexy and wanted, nervous but absolutely certain all at the same time.

"Yes."

With a quick kiss on her temple, he strapped on his guitar and caught the opening cords to the song. Shedding her coat, she made her way through the crowd in search of Emily, who she found toward the back, beer in hand, watching Sheldon through the residual mist of fog and flashing lights. Casey retrieved a drink of her own, needing something to calm her shaking hands and sooth the adrenaline rushing through her veins. She came to rest nervously beside her friend raising her cup for a toast.

"Well Em, looks like you've thrown the party of the year and we're only three minutes in."

Emily's face lit up as she linked her arm through Casey's and touched their cups together.

"Girl, was there ever any doubt?"

Across the crowed room, Derek's eyes found hers. She could feel them on her just as surely as his hand had been. He winked and she took a cool sip, hoping to hide her blush.

"No, not one."

A/N 2: This story was inspired in part by repetitive listening to Live Like We're Alive by Nevertheless. It has a very season 3 Derek feel so I posted the lyrics as chapter 2, if you're into that kind of thing, if not, Thanks for reading.