A/N: First, I am so sorry to anyone getting this who is waiting for me to update other stories. I'd really love to be able to update anything, to be able to write anything, but time simply hasn't allowed and for further elaboration on that please check my profile.

Also, I should warn that I've had this sitting on my computer for a while. Though I've have just a couple days off for Thanksgiving, I've gotten to spend that time working on three papers and doing research for a project/upcoming final. On a break from all of that I've had to continue to work on my grad school applications and as I was going through my documents trying to select a writing sample I came across this, already complete. I'm sure that there was something I really didn't like about it and that's why I never posted it, but at the moment I'm liking more of it than I'm disliking any of it so I decided what the hell, why not post it.

Finally and VERY importantly, for this story I'm picturing like Derek and Casey are about 17 (juniors) and Lizzie and Edwin are 14 and in eighth grade. I don't know if that separation of the ages is right, but on at least a few occasions a three year gap was the impression I got, so I decided to go with it. Also, I'm picturing Adam (who you will soon learn about) as rather recently becoming 16 and as a sophomore. Oh, and at this point Max is no more and how that ended or why isn't important for the story so let's just say that Casey realized he's a dooche and ended it in some overly dramatic way.

Disclaimer: If I owned anything remotely related to the various things mentioned in this story I wouldn't be writing on a laptop that has missing buttons.

Summary: Sometimes getting caught up in the heat of the moment can change the relationship between two people forever. Dasey, with hints of Lizwin.

In the Heat of the Moment

It didn't take very long for the day to get as crazy as usual, but even in the midst of insanity as Casey was trying to deal with everything she could have never predicted how the day would end.

The first events of the day had been the results of the past month. For the past month Lizzie had been dating a guy two years older than her. She tried to hide it from everyone, especially her mother and George since she didn't think that they'd like the fact that she was seeing a sixteen year old junior varsity basketball team captain who also happened to have his own car.

Edwin was the first to find out; she could never hide anything from him. He didn't like the guy, Adam, at all. When Edwin found out about the relationship and confronted Lizzie and was making his disdain for Adam known, in the heat of the moment, he even went as far as forbidding her from seeing him again. After that they only spoke enough not to get the family suspicious about their fight and about Lizzie's relationship. Edwin knew he took things too far, but he just didn't want to see Lizzie get hurt, and he was sure Adam would hurt her. But he didn't tell on her either because she'd forgive him for what he said in the heat of a moment, but telling was calculated, purposefully hurting her, and more than she wouldn't forgive him for that, he simply could not bring himself to do it. He knew Adam didn't care about her so eventually he was going to hurt her and by not telling on her he was going to let Adam hurt her, but at least he wasn't going to be the one hurting her, he could never be that guy.

Lizzie never told Casey about Adam. She knew her sister would want to be on her side, but she was also a horrible liar who vehemently believed in "doing the right thing" (i.e. telling her mother and George), so Casey couldn't be trusted.

Derek knew about Adam, but Lizzie didn't know he knew. A few days before the insane day that would end surprisingly for Derek as well, he caught them together at one of his favorite hang outs to bring girls. Derek was somewhat acquainted with Adam, not enough to know what he liked on his pizza, but enough to know that if he knew Edwin's opinion of what was going to happen, he would agree with it. But Lizzie could handle herself, right? She took tae-kwan-doe, he had experienced her form of a light punch and it was pretty good, and she was stubborn like her sister so she wouldn't let a guy persuade her into something she didn't want to do, so she'd be fine. As much as he wanted to believe that this was none of his business and Lizzie could handle her own decisions, Derek found himself asking her if everything was okay everyday since he found out about her secret relationship. Naturally Lizzie thought that Derek taking an interest in her was odd, but she never understood him very well and she had a secret boyfriend to occupy her thoughts so she never caught on.

The events that began the insanity of the day were exactly what Edwin and Derek knew would happen; Adam hurt Lizzie. It was a Thursday, and Thursday's always had an unusual schedule for the four eldest kids of the McDonald-Venturi clan (Marti had the same day care every afternoon). Neither George nor Nora's work schedule's of late had permitted them to get away and pick up the kids on Thursdays, but they also didn't try particularly had to get away since both Derek and Casey could drive and shared a hand-me-down car they let them have. But on Thursday's Casey assisted Emily in student counsel until four and Derek had hockey practice until four thirty. So Edwin and Lizzie always had an hour and a half to kill before they would go home. Their middle school was just down the street and sometimes they would walk to the high school and watch Derek's practice as they did homework in the stands, or they would just stay in the library at their school. But they weren't speaking and Lizzie had someone to see at the high school, so she would leave without a word to Edwin and he always knew who she was going to.

Casey approached a lonely Edwin on the stands just as Derek's practice was ending. He covered for Lizzie and said she had just gone to the restroom, but it was exactly four thirty and she didn't want to get caught so he knew she wouldn't knowingly be late, and it was beginning to make him worry. He didn't let his concern show to Casey, or ten minutes later when Lizzie still wasn't back and Derek was coming out of the locker room to meet them dragging his gear with him.

"Where's Lizzie?" Derek immediately asked.

"The bathroom," Casey promptly responded, but noting the time she added, "but maybe if she's not back soon I should go check on her and make sure everything's okay."

Everything couldn't be okay, she would never be this late, Edwin knew she wouldn't. He had to say, "She won't be there."

"Then where is she?" Casey was quick to ask, concern for her sister coming out instantaneously.

"Adam," Derek said with a groan and Edwin nodded. Casey was confused. Who was Adam? And why was Derek now swearing excessively under his breath and marching determinedly back to the first floor main hallway?

Edwin immediately followed, as did a questioning Casey, but they didn't answer. For different reasons, but ultimately one same reason, Lizzie was their priority now, Casey understanding could wait.

Edwin knew where things were in the high school he had yet to attend, because of things Derek had had him do, but what frustrated him right now was that he didn't know where to begin to looking for Lizzie. He knew where places were, but he didn't know where a guy would take a girl in the school to be alone with her, that had always been much more Derek's area.

As soon as they reached the second floor they found Emily, who was actually looking for them. She had caught the whole gory show, along with a few dozen other people leaving their after school programs. Lizzie had found Adam in the second floor janitor's closet, where he actually told her to meet him, with another girl, because he forgot about Lizzie. By how upset Lizzie was it was obvious that when Adam said they were exclusive she actually believed him. The girl in the closet with him however, didn't seem surprised by Lizzie's existence, nor was she easily embarrassed because she wasn't at all quick about covering up her initially half clothed form. To make matters worse Adam decided to talk and stupidly said, "Well I had to get some somewhere," as if that justified his actions. Lizzie fled to the nearest bathroom; none of the onlookers went in after her. Emily was about to go in and check on her, but decided to call Casey first, only to find that Casey's phone was off. Though Lizzie was her best friend's sister, Emily didn't really know her that well, so she decided to go find Casey instead.

As soon as Emily got to the end of her account Casey took off for the girl's bathroom and was surprised when Derek and Edwin, quick at her heals, followed her in. Though it was difficult, Casey momentarily ignored that the boys being in the girls restroom was against the rules because she had Lizzie to worry about.

Lizzie was in the stall at the far end of the bathroom. She felt like an idiot. Only about thirty people witnessed the scene, but it felt like more. And they weren't doing anything but watching really, but it felt like they were laughing because she just felt so stupid for actually believing him, for trusting him, and for liking him.

"Lizzie," she heard Casey's voice tentatively call, but she couldn't bring herself to respond. Sure she'd seen Casey do some really embarrassing things, but nothing like this, nothing involving liking a guy who clearly wasn't really capable of liking a girl.

"I heard what happened," Casey began.

But she was interrupted because Derek misinterpreted her direction and said, "Oh yeah, rubbing it in, that's going to get her to come out."

"Shut up Derek," Casey quickly snapped, "you and Edwin shouldn't even be in here, it's against the rules and a bigger audience really probably won't get her to come out."

Casey was right, Lizzie really didn't want to come out if Derek and Edwin were in there too, especially Edwin because he was right and if she had just listened to him she wouldn't feel this bad.

Derek took Casey's comment into consideration. She had a point, crying girls weren't really his area anyway. Derek simply nodded and headed for the exit, but noticing Edwin wasn't following he stopped at the door and gestured to Edwin to exit too, which he hesitantly did.

The next thing she knew Lizzie found her sister peering over the neighboring stall's wall.

"Please come out Lizzie. I'm standing on a toilet seat and given my frequent lack of balance I'm probably going to fall in and end up with gross wet feet at any second, so please come out," Casey begged attempting to make Lizzie feel better.

The quip got a small smile to form on Lizzie's red, tear streaked face and it got her to open the door. Casey immediately wrapped her in a hug and started rattling off what sounded like clichés, but were probably true. She said things like, "You're too good for him," and Lizzie knew that she didn't want to be with a guy like Adam, she just wished she would have seen what kind of guy he really was instead of starting to fall for the guy that he turned out not to be. And the thing she regretted most was the first thing she said, interrupting Casey's increasingly repetitive comfort speech. She said, "I should have listened to Edwin. I don't know why I didn't just trust him. And I feel like an idiot for spending the last month not talking to him for a guy that...didn't care."

Now Casey only had more questions swimming in her head. A month? Her sister had been sneaking around with someone for a month and she didn't notice? But what concerned her more was that she didn't notice her sister not talking to Edwin or any kind of tension existing between them. Edwin was the best friend her sister had ever had, they were so close, and she was always around both of them but she didn't even notice a change. But Lizzie didn't need her questions now so she just assured her that everything was going to be okay, not that many people saw what happened so the prospect of rumors spreading was thin, and there would be guys worth crying over, but he wasn't one of them.

After about fifteen minutes Casey exited the restroom with a red, puffy eyed Lizzie close behind and found Derek seemingly holding some kind of meeting just down the hall. As they approached the crowd it quickly dispersed and they didn't catch any word to have any idea what was going on.

Edwin stood awkwardly at Derek's side. He felt helpless. Lizzie got hurt and all he did to stop it was say something stupid. And even now he wasn't the one doing anything to help. Edwin didn't have much time to feel helpless though as Lizzie quickly threw herself into his arms.

"I should have listened to you," Lizzie murmured into the crook of Edwin's neck which she had buried face in as she clutched to him.

Edwin soothingly rubbed her back as he replied with a small chuckle, "That's not something you're going to be saying very often."

Edwin could feel Lizzie's chest vibrate as she laughed slightly at his remark.

A few beats passed in silence as Lizzie stayed in Edwin's tight embrace, but suddenly it felt awkward and Lizzie quickly pulled away. She glanced at her sister to her side and to Derek and finally back to Edwin whose eyes never left her. Maybe it was just in her head that it was awkward or that she had spent far longer than natural in his arms because no one else seemed to notice.

Derek broke the silence declaring, "I have the keys so I'm driving home, let's go."

"You don't have the keys, I have the keys because I'm the one who drove us here this morning," Casey quickly countered.

"You sure you have the keys Case?" Derek questioned with a knowing smirk.

Casey immediately started digging through her purse and found that Derek had indeed stolen the keys from her at some point. She accused, "You went through my stuff and stole them!"

"And now we'll actually get home in a matter of minutes instead of the near hour it takes you at your granny pace," Derek countered.

Casey opened her mouth to retort, but quickly changed tactics as she noticed her sister watching the argument and was reminded of the fact that she probably didn't want to be there anymore. In the interest of letting her sister get home and out of the place that she was just dumped, Casey conceded, "Fine, let's go."

Derek understood why Casey gave in; he knew now that she would, but as the day started and he took the keys he was anticipating a much longer fight.

Before anyone got a step toward the stairs, feet and giggling could suddenly be heard just fifty feet down the hall, at the end of the hall, exiting the janitor's closet.

Everyone looked to the direction of the noise. Lizzie immediately looked away and to the floor. Casey glared. Derek realized he had once found himself in a closet with the same girl that Adam was exiting with. And Edwin, he got mad.

His fists balled up at his sides, Edwin took a step forward, but was quickly stopped by an arm out in front of him.

Derek knew exactly what Edwin was going to do and he understood his motivation, he understood it better than anyone, but he stopped his little brother. With Edwin looking up to him questioningly, he explained, "It's not worth it. There's still staff around, you could end up in trouble. And the guy's bigger than you."

Lizzie and Casey clearly agreed with Derek since Lizzie seemed to be looking at him worriedly, almost begging him not to go with her eyes. And Casey, ever the rule-abiding pacifist, was nodding her head in agreement-and completely shocked at the good advice Derek was giving.

Edwin nodded as the tension left his shoulders and took a deep breath.

Three people out of the four thought that they were just going to leave at this moment, but the other one, he wasn't actually finished at the school yet. Derek was smart enough to let everyone get a step away from him and to make like he was following. But before his foot landed in the direction of the stairs to the left of him, he suddenly changed directions and headed straight on a path that was now just barely clear of Casey and Lizzie.

Derek passed behind Casey and out of her reach before she even realized that he had headed the wrong way, the way that would probably get him in trouble.

"Der-ek!" Casey yelled warningly.

Derek turned around as he walked quickly backwards approaching the halfway mark to his destination and said, "He's bigger than Edwin, but not bigger than me."

Derek turned back around, marched right up to Adam, who had his back to him as he made out with the giggling blond Derek could remember the name of, tapped him on the shoulder, waited for him to turn around, and punched him in the jaw.

"What the hell?" Adam yelled as he held his sore jaw and stumbled to an upright position.

"Hi, Adam, right? Yeah, I'm Derek Venturi, as in Lizzie's stepbrother. You remember Lizzie, right?" Derek didn't wait for an answer he hit Adam again, in his left eye this time.

"Of course you remember her, you were just cheating on her," Derek continued as he kneed the hunched over Adam in the chest a few times.

Adam grabbed Derek around his waist from his bent over position and tried to force Derek down, but only managed to push Derek away, giving him a momentary break from the kneeing and the chance to stand up again.

"Dude, this is none of your business," Adam tried to claim.

But Adam's statement only caused Derek to punch Adam in the stomach as he replied, "She is my family so it is my business." Derek grabbed the collar of Adam's shirt, forced him upright, and shoved him roughly the few feet back into the wall. He put his hand around Adam's throat and squeezed as he looked him dead in his eyes and warned in a menacingly calm voice, "You do not want to find out what happens to people who hurt my family. If you so much as mention her name ever again to absolutely anyone I will find out and I'll make sure that it's the last thing you ever say. Do you understand?"

Adam's face was growing blue and his eyes were becoming increasingly panicked as he struggled against Derek's firm grasp on his neck preventing him from breathing. He made a nodding motion immediately as best he could in Derek's hold.

Satisfied that Adam seemed appropriately terrified Derek released him. Adam immediately started coughing as he gasped for air and collapsed to the ground.

Derek's tunnel vision about hurting Adam seemed to clear and he noticed that the slutty blond was hiding in the corner looking absolutely terrified, but he didn't really care. He turned around to find Casey standing about six feet behind him with Edwin and Lizzie at her sides. With her mouth hung open slightly, Casey seemed shocked. Edwin looked proud and Lizzie seemed grateful and those two didn't surprise him, but his eyes returned to Casey because he didn't expect her to seem surprised, he expected her to be angry.

Derek soon found out that Casey was angry though as she seemed to be seething in the passenger seat the entire way home. Derek figured the only reason he wasn't already getting an earful was because Casey wanted to spare Lizzie having to endure more reminders of what the day had been so far. Of course that meant that as soon as they were alone it would be "lecture from Casey time" and Derek really wasn't looking forward to it. As far as Derek was concerned he did the right thing, end of story. But he knew that by the way her jaw was set and her arms were crossed over her chest that Casey did not see things the same way.

Edwin and Lizzie sat in the back seat as usual on the ride home, but not as usual it was quiet. They didn't talk. They had spent a month not talking and they wanted to talk, but it didn't seem natural now and they didn't know what to say. So Edwin and Lizzie sat in the backseat for the entire ride home in silence, both too nervous to say anything.

When they got home Edwin and Lizzie entered the house first and slowly. Neither of them knew what to do. Lizzie wanted to apologize for not trusting him again and tell him absolutely everything she had wanted to say to him over the past month and Edwin wanted to do the same, but how to start?

Edwin turned around as they came to where the entryway met the family room. Lizzie, taking her cues from Edwin, stopped as well. Derek being there now facing them gave Edwin a thought on something to say and he said, "Well Liz you don't have to worry about anyone finding out about today. Derek had Emily help get everyone from the hallway back up there and he threatened them extensively so no one will be repeating what they saw."

"Really?" Lizzie questioned both surprised and relieved. Edwin nodded and Lizzie quickly threw her arms around Derek before he could stop her. She thanked him but decided not to ask any more about what he did since she noticed how angry Casey seemed.

Not wanting to hear a fight distracted Lizzie from her worry about awkwardness between her and Edwin. Lizzie grabbed Edwin's hand and led him to the kitchen saying, "Come on let's get ice cream and you can tell me how your experiments have been going, especially that very secretive one, I've been dying to know if anything's been happening and I have stuff to add to it."

Before they were completely out of the room Derek and Casey could hear Edwin say, "Well, I think it's about to get a lot more interesting."

Derek tried to make a quick escape, moving towards the stairs even before Edwin was through the kitchen door. But Casey was fast behind him and just like he predicted she definitely had something to say now that they were alone.

In an admonishing tone Casey began, "Threats and fighting Derek? You're just asking to get kicked out of school aren't you? And in front of our younger siblings, yeah, that's a great example you're setting. What are you going to do next teach Marti how to throw a good right hook?"

Derek had planned on just walking into his room, shutting his door in Casey's face, locking his door, blasting his music, and ignoring Casey's rant because as far as he was concerned he did the right thing. But as they reached the top of the stairs he was just steps from his room she went too far mentioning Marti and he couldn't just let it go. Derek spun around to face a very close Casey and angrily retorted, "Yeah, I am going to teach Marti some good fighting moves eventually because God forbid she ever finds herself in a situation where she needs to defend herself I want her to be able to!" Casey opened her mouth, but Derek quickly continued completely enraged, "And you know Case, you can continue you little moral high ground speech in a minute, but you should know it doesn't matter. It's never going to matter what you have to say about it or how many times you tell me because I am never going to stop doing something when my family is hurt. You can tell me violence is wrong or whatever the hell you want, but it's all I have and it's all I can do when someone I care about gets hurt. I have to hurt back and no I just can let it go because I can't let someone just hurt my dad or Edwin or Marti or your mom or Lizzie or you and just get away with it completely. And you can give me your speech as many times as you want but you're really just going to have to accept the fact that I care about you and that means when someone hurts you…or Nora or Lizzie I'm going to do something about it, I'm going to do anything and everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again. So go ahead, continue with telling me how wrong I am now."

Derek had stared directly in her eyes as he completely seriously and incredibly intensely made his declaration to Casey. And Derek expected Casey to continue with her speech as if he hadn't said anything or to chicken out from continuing. As he spoke she seemed surprised, but when he stopped he was the one who was surprised because the space between them suddenly disappeared as her lips crashed onto his.

Derek, though shocked, immediately responded. Her lips were touching his, but her body was just barely. He made a move to grab her waist and pull her closer to him, but before he could she pulled away panicked, she had realized what she was doing.

"Oh my God," she said almost tripping over her own feet as she quickly distanced herself. Her face reddened and scrunched in a mixture of worry and building anxiety as she immediately apologized, "I'm so sorry. I did not mean to do that. I'm such an idiot. I just…got caught up in the heat of the moment and please forget about it. It didn't happen." She repeated in a whisper and more to herself, "It didn't happen." She made it through her door and shut it before Derek could even blink.

Casey paced in a fretful almost run. This was beyond bad. She kissed her stepbrother. Sure she was caught up in the moment, but he was her stepbrother, as in family. Family! Shouldn't there have been some kind of warning going off in her head saying, "Danger! Danger Casey McDonald! That's your stepbrother you're about to kiss!" But no, that bell didn't start ringing until after she had done it, stupid slow brain.

Casey sat down at her desk and decided that she needed to make a pro and con list, because they always helped. An hour later she had a piece of paper titled, "Potential Pros and Cons of Accidentally Kissing Derek" with a single con-underlined multiple times-being, "Stepbrother," and absolutely no pros. It was time to call in someone with a new perspective so she picked up her phone and dialed Emily.

Meanwhile Derek was not panicking, not pacing, and not making any kind of list. Yes, Casey kissing him was a complete shock, but what didn't really surprise him was that he kissed her back. If he was being completely honest, which was extremely rare for him, then he had to admit that he knew that Casey was not just an annoying stepsister to him even if that was the only way he treated her. It was weird wanting her, or even a girl like her, but he knew that he did want her and had wanted her for quite some time. But Derek had treated wanting Casey like anything that he wanted and thought he couldn't get. Though they were rare, in those instances Derek always tried to stop wanting what he knew he couldn't have. Like when he wanted a peanut butter sandwich, but they were out of peanut butter and he was too lazy to go out, he just decided he wanted pizza and ordered and ate it instead. With Casey though, he kept telling himself he wanted every other girl and he thought it was working, but then she went and kissed him and he realized he never stopped wanting her, nor had he ever wanted her more. Sure, there was the whole stepsibling thing, but that was just a technicality. If she'd have, him he figured with their stubborn opposing personalities, the fact that their parents were married would be the least of their problems. Casey had declared that the kiss didn't happen, but clearly she just need some time to come to terms with the fact that she wanted him because after all, she had just kissed him and what girl could possibly resist doing that again?

One girl who had actually resisted kissing Derek a second time sprinted up his stairs after her best friend said that she was needed urgently, it was, in Casey's words, "an emergency." Of course with Casey that could mean that it really was something life altering or she forgot to do the extra credit for a class that she already had an A in. What it actually was though, she was not at all expecting.

"You kissed Derek?!" Emily repeated for the second time still trying to comprehend what her Derek-hating best friend had just told her.

"Again, yes, I kissed Derek. Now please tell me how I'm supposed to live with myself after so hugely screwing up because my pro/con list really hasn't helped," Casey replied for the second time as she sank down into her desk chair and let her head drop hard on the desk, but not caring that it hurt.

"Okay, I'll try," Emily assured, but had to pause needing a minute to get her head wrapped around the whole idea. So, thinking back it actually sort of made sense that there was something between them, even something big. Emily was so caught up in Daniel Steel novel romances that she realized she had completely overlooked one that was so common and so going on with her best friend and former crush, the kindergarten/playground romance. It wasn't often seen in the Steel world she liked to live in so she decided that she wasn't a completely sucky friend for missing it.

Emily had been in silent thought for more than five minutes and Casey really didn't have the patience for it right now so she urged, "Come on, don't you have any type of help. I'm desperate."

Emily decided she needed more information if she was going to help since all Casey had told her was, "I kissed Derek." Plus, she really wanted to know exactly what happened. She asked, "Well, why'd you kiss him?"

"Heat of the moment," Casey quickly and distractedly answered as she began pacing again.

Vague much? Emily thought. Heat of the moment when Derek walked in and saw her in the shower or heat of the moment as they raced to put out a small fire that started in the kitchen and also happened to ignite their passion for each other? Whoa, she really needed to stop reading so many romance novels. But either way Casey's brief answer was not the juicy information she was looking for…or needed to hear so she could help out her friend, because of course that was what was more important. She asked, "What moment? Last time I saw you guys you were dealing with Lizzie's ass boyfriend cheating on her."

Casey stopped in her pacing. With her stupid act she had completely forgotten about what had just happened an hour ago with her sister. She really was self centered, but she was having a crisis now and had to deal with it. Casey explained, "Right, Lizzie and I got her out of the bathroom and Derek was holding what I'm told was a meeting to make sure no one said anything about what they saw and then we were about to leave and Adam and blonde come out the closet and Derek stops Edwin from doing something stupid. And for a second I couldn't believe Derek was being so mature. Of course he ruined that when he raced down the hall and proceeded to beat the daylights out of Adam and threaten him. So when we got home and Lizzie and Edwin went into the other room I let him know how wrong it was for him to react like that. And then suddenly he was yelling and he was so serious and as soon as he stopped I kissed him. I don't even know why I did it…I just…I'm stupid and my brain is failing me because it didn't stop me from doing it."

She still wasn't making sense. This was Casey; she wouldn't have just kissed Derek after he finished yelling at her. Any other girl would have kissed him any time because he was Derek, but Casey wouldn't have. There had to be something in what he said, so Emily asked, "What did Derek say when he was yelling?"

Casey's head turned away from Emily, towards the door, her gaze shifted downward, but she didn't really seem to be focused on anything in particular. She said softly, wistfully almost, "He said he would do anything to protect the people he cares about and hurt anyone who hurts them. He said that he cares about me. He cares about my mom and Lizzie. And I had better get used to him caring." By the time Casey had finished her first sentence a small smile formed on her lips, though she didn't notice.

Emily noticed and Emily understood. She said, "Okay. It makes sense now. You were just responding to a basic human need to feel protected and right then that was the way he made you feel, so you responded."

Casey had seemed to come out of her trance when Emily spoke, but now she was groaning as she turned to face her friend. "I'm not that girl am I? The one who needs a guy around to make her feel safe?" Casey asked clearly wanting the answer to be no because otherwise not only would the act of kissing Derek had been stupid, but also a contradiction to her feminist beliefs.

Emily understood the answer that Casey wanted, but it wasn't the truth, "I think your dad never really being there for you or for your mom or Lizzie, made you that girl even if you don't want to be her."

Casey began pacing again as she moved on and asked, "But why did I have to have a romantic association to the whole protection thing. It was just brotherly and my brain misunderstands and lets me do something so stupid and humiliating. I don't even want to think about what Derek must think of me now. He's never going to let this go, I'll be teased about it forever."

Remembering her earlier thought of a romance between the two not being surprising, Emily bit her lip for a second, but decided to dare to say, "Maybe you didn't misunderstand. Maybe it wasn't brotherly protection."

Casey immediately halted in her pacing and eyed her friend curiously as she asked slowly, fearfully almost, "Em, what are you trying to say?"

Emily took a deep breath, moved her legs under her on the bed so she was now sitting on them, and said, "I'm saying that it wouldn't surprise me if Derek didn't mean it in a brotherly way and that you didn't misunderstand anything. And it wouldn't surprise me if you kissed him because you wanted to and he kissed you back because he wanted to."

Casey shook her head the more she heard. None of that could possibly be right. Without thinking she pointed out, "I never said that he kissed me back."

That was true, but Emily decided to take a chance and venture, "But he did, didn't he?"

"Yes," Casey admitted as she realized that she had immediately written it off that he had kissed her back because he was Derek and would kiss any girl back. But here was her best friend sitting on her bed and she remembered a couple of years earlier when she was in the same position and her friend admitted to her that she kissed Derek and just as she had always expected he didn't kiss her back. She remembered that that was when Emily began to move on from her crush, but Casey, she was kissed back and it made everything more confusing.

While Casey had been lost in confusion, Emily realized something that she hoped could make Casey feel slightly better. "You know, if nothing was misinterpreted and there is something between you then you may not be that male dependent girl as much because I think another big part of the reason you kissed him could be because in that moment he was being the guy you know he really is," Emily offered.

"Huh?" Casey asked not fully having paid attention since she was lost in her own thoughts.

Emily paused. She was sort of making up everything as she went along. Not that she didn't believe in what she had said and was about to say, but as she drew her conclusions she was immediately voicing them. Emily managed to sort out why she had drawn her previously voiced statement and replied, "Well, think about it. Derek always acts like a jerk towards you, but in that moment…actually most of the day today, he's been different. I mean…I know you always say that Derek just has a dark side, but even you know that's not true. And he's not just sweet with Marti either; he does stuff for you a lot, it's just not usually as straight forward and obvious as it was today. So, today he was the guy you know he really is, but never is around you, and maybe that real guy is a guy you like, a guy that's perfect for you, and that's why you kissed him."

"What?" Casey immediately asked, face scrunched up in confusion and not understanding how Emily came to that very sudden conclusion. She began pacing again, shaking her head and muttering, "No, no. That's not possible. No. No. No. No. No."

Emily rolled her eyes. She understood that Casey was likely oblivious to the idea that she could have feelings for Derek, but now that she had eliminated the oblivious factor she was going to have to deal with Casey's denial? Seriously? Oy, real drama was so much more work than fictional drama.

Before Emily could respond and try and rid Casey of her denial, her door swung open and Derek casually strolled through.

With his hand's up as if to say "wait" he startled Casey who had her back to him in her pacing when he said, "You've got to be kidding me." Casey spun around and met his gaze with wide, almost fearful eyes as he continued with a gesture between the two of them as he spoke, "You still haven't figured this out. You're supposed to be the smart one. It only took me ten seconds to figure out why I kissed you back and you still can't figure out why you kissed me when it's so obvious and you've had the assistance of Emily."

Derek was smirking and Casey was flushed with anger because how dare he insult her intelligence. He had closed most of the space between them, leaving only inches between his crossed arms and her. Casey had noticed the distance between them disappear; what she didn't notice was her increased heart rate.

Casey scoffed and countered still in her state of denial and somewhat obliviousness despite Emily's efforts, "First of all, of course you kissed me back, you're you. So all you had to figure out was that you're a guy and you gave into your hormones; big deal. And second of all I already told you why I kissed you. It was just the heat of the moment and I told you to forget it, it was a stupid mistake."

Derek laughed. That's right, he laughed, right in her face too. Just the picture of it, Derek literally laughing in Casey's face, almost caused Emily to break out laughing from her now seemingly unnoticed place on Casey's bed. Surprisingly, more than Casey was angry about the Derek's response, she was confused.

Derek had taken a step away from Casey, practically doubled over with laughter. Getting his laughter under control he managed to get out as he stood upright again, "That's the lamest reason I've ever heard. Heat of the moment?" Derek took a step closer, his voice dropping an octave lower as he said, "There's heat in every moment with us and it'd be really great if you kissing me was always the result of that, but it never has been before, so why now?"

Casey was completely dumbfounded. She blinked twice rapidly, because this didn't seem real.

Before Casey had a chance to really think about what Derek was saying or how to respond, he continued, "I know why now. Emily probably figured it out and told you, but it doesn't seem like you listened to her so let me make this easier for you." Derek had already been firmly meeting her gaze, but now with a small shake of his head he declared, "You didn't misinterpret anything."

After a full and tortuous almost minute of silence Casey finally said, "What?" She had come to understand everything he was saying and he was right in guessing that Emily had already told her, but even though it was the second time she was hearing the idea and now having it confirmed, she still couldn't believe it.

Derek couldn't help but roll his eyes. She was just so predictable with her stubborn denial. Luckily, he was prepared for that. He shrugged slightly and smirked as he said, "Right, I'm not so good with the words so let me make this clearer." In one quick move his arms were cupping her face and his lips were crashing onto hers. She responded promptly, just as he had to her kiss.

No one told her to leave so until things got truly uncomfortable to watch, Emily didn't see the need to depart.

But Derek was aware of Emily's presence and since he thought his point had been quickly made he pulled away. "I'm taking you out…on a date. Be ready in twenty minutes," he said huskily and with a wink.

Casey was still dazed by the time he got to her door, but he turned and became his typical self as he said, "Don't wear pink though. I know you own a lot of it, but it's really not your best color. And something short and/or low-cut would really make my day so you know...aim to please me. Em, help her out."

With that Derek was out the door, which he shut behind him.

Casey was silent and still, staring at her shut bedroom door for three minutes. Emily was seriously thinking that she was going to have to talk Casey into actually going and that going was what she wanted and needed to do. But then Casey finally spoke and said in her usual overly panicked tone, "What am I going to wear?"

After spending ten minutes helping Casey pick out an outfit Emily left her friend to finish getting ready. She was about to head down the stairs into the living room where she saw Lizzie and Edwin sitting on the couch only about a half a foot apart watching TV, but then Lizzie said, "I was serious before…you know, when I said I should have listened to you. I should have listened to you." Emily had stopped at the top of the stairs upon Lizzie's first words and proceeded to watch Lizzie as she spoke and cautiously glanced to her right a few times at Edwin. Edwin was turned to his left slightly, looking at Lizzie and taking bashful glances at his lap.

Edwin, with his eyes downwards again, said softly, "I'm sorry I was right."

"Yeah," Lizzie agreed with a small nod and continued, "but from now on I'm definitely listening to you. You have to consent on anyone I ever go out with and you have complete veto power. I'm never going to go out with someone without your approval again. I don't want to repeat this…any of it." She was going to say she didn't want to repeat a time when she wasn't talking to him, because the worst part of the entire Adam ordeal was not talking to Edwin. But shouldn't the worst part have been having her heart broken? Missing him just didn't seem like the right thing to say.

Edwin nodded in understanding. He didn't know what to say really. What he didn't know, or Lizzie who said it or Emily who was listening, was that there would never be a guy he approved of and it would never have anything to do with the other guy personally, just the fact that there was another guy in the place he would much later realize he really wanted to be. But at the moment he knew nothing of what was to come or what to say in response to Lizzie, so he changed the subject, "So, are we watching Springer or ThePeople's Courttoday?"

"Springer, of course," Lizzie replied with a smile.

As the station was changed Emily decided it was safe to make her exit without the possibility of interrupting anymore.

Five minutes after Emily left Casey was waiting for Derek at the bottom of the stairs and he wasn't there. He was late after setting the time himself and living in the same house.

As per his instructions Casey was not in pink. She wore a blue sweater and her favorite pair of jeans. She may have followed his color instructions, but Casey didn't even own anything that would have met Derek's definition of short or low-cut so she ignored him on that completely.

Casey was agitatedly tapping her foot at the bottom of the staircase with Lizzie and Edwin on the couch pretending to watch Jerry Springer, but actually watching her, when instead of hearing Derek's door open like she was expecting, she heard the back door. Minutes later Nora appeared dropping the mail on the dinning room table as she stopped at it.

"I'm sorry I'm late. I know I said I'd be home at six, but…well, long story actually. Anyway, sorry. I'm going to start on dinner now and George said he'd be here in twenty minutes," Nora said as she sorted the dropped mail into piles at everyone's seats (which mostly meant stacks for her and George) and proceeded into the living room. Finally actually looking around and taking in the children there that she was talking to, Nora asked, "Casey, are you going somewhere?"

With her coat and purse on it was impossible to deny so Casey answered truthfully, "Yeah, I have a date." Please don't ask with who, she thought for fear of having to explain because at this point she had no idea what was really going on. Yes, she kissed Derek and that was good and it seemed it was good with him too because she was right and he cares about her. And she knew she cared about him, but she had never thought about how before. She kissed him though so it must not have been brotherly and if she cared about him in a romantic way, despite the fact that they seem completely wrong for each other in her mind, dating seemed like the next logical thing to try. So, yes, she was going to date her step-brother who she apparently had very non-brotherly feelings for, but she was really hoping that she'd get away with doing so without having to try and explain it to her mom until absolutely necessary.

But Casey should have learned by now that with Derek around she never got what she wanted. He jogged down the stairs, not even seeming to notice Nora or Edwin and Lizzie's presence, grabbed Casey's hand and proceed to drag her towards the front door as he said, "Let's go. I just bought movie tickets on-line for a movie that starts in five minutes."

"But the theater's ten minutes away," Casey promptly pointed out. She hadn't noticed the fact that she was holding his hand, it felt so natural. And since she didn't notice she hadn't worried about what their leaving must have looked like.

Though Derek was in a rush and dragging a willing Casey with him, Nora managed to get over her moment of shock quick enough to ask, "You're going out together? As in, you're going out with each other?"

Casey froze, causing Derek to stop since the hand he was pulling was now attached to an immobile body. She turned around from her spot three steps to the door slowly. With a nervous laugh and smile she began, "Well, you see…it's been a really long, weird day and-"

"We're going out. We'll tell you about today when we get back, which will be by curfew. Later Nora," Derek said cutting Casey off and surprising her by jerking her out the door.

Casey was mad at the way Derek told her mother, the fact that he didn't let her explain, and how he took total control of the situation without even discussing it with her first. She lectured him the entire way to the movie theater, but she didn't make him go back home or hurry them back to explain at all.

It had been a weird day and the conversation with their parents would be weird too, but surprisingly, what wasn't weird for Derek and Casey was being together. They both knew that when Derek said that every moment between them was one with heat he was right and they both came to very glad that one of them finally got caught up in it.

The End

A/N: Well, I hope you enjoyed the story. I'm not too fond of the end. Perhaps that was the reason I didn't originally post it, but oh well.

If you would be so kind, please leave a review and brighten the day of a girl who spends almost all of her time completely immersed in school work or stuck in traffic.

And…actually, this may not be the last time you hear from me. I think I have other complete one-shots for this category that again, for some reason, I did not post upon completion and if I can't figure out why I didn't, I suppose I may post them now. If anyone's interested and would like to read them and point out now missed flaws that I'm far too exhausted to recognize in my current state, feel free to let me know, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading:)