Yay! A holiday story! I'm really happy about how this is going (since I have several chapters finished). I can tell you right now that this won't be finished by the time the New Year comes around, but oh well. I'm sure you all will enjoy it just the same!

I've decided to post this now because I'm getting out of school tomorrow, and I'll have a lot of time. And seeing as every time I've had time I've been able to finish about two chapters in one day. So, whoo!

x—x

"Casey, you've got to breath!" Emily cried. "You're turning blue!"

"Yeah, and sweetie, blue really isn't your color." Kendra shook her head slowly observing Casey.

"Oh, great! Good job Kendra. Now she's hyperventilating." Emily said, glaring at Kendra before going back to focus on her best friend who was indeed breathing in and out extremely quickly.

Casey quickly took out an empty paper bag from her bag -she had begun to keep some with her ever since the math grade incident- and began to breath into it.

"Casey, slow down!" Kendra said.

"Hey, what's-whoa. Okay, what happened?" Noel had walked up and was looking at Casey in concern.

Emily put a hand to her head and then used the other hand to point at the piece of paper that was posted on the wall in front of them.

Noel looked at it warily before stepping closer to it.

"The cast list for the holiday musical?" Noel asked.

Emily motioned for him to keep reading it as Kendra patted the still hyperventilating Casey.

Noel looked back at the paper. "Okay, Casey got the female lead and-Hey!" Noel turned to look at the girls. "I didn't get the male lead."

"No! No, you didn't!" Casey finally spoke. "But look who did!" She cried angrily, pointing at the paper. "Look who did!"

"Derek." Emily said solemnly.

"How did Derek get the lead?" Noel asked, rubbing the side of his temple.

"Because he's hot and was the life of that pirate musical." Kendra offered.

Emily, Casey and Noel all turned and glared at her.

"What? It's true." Kendra shrugged. "No offense." She directed toward Noel and Casey.

Noel took a deep breath. "It'll be okay." He assured. "You live with Derek, you've worked with him in a musical before. You'll be able to handle it."

"Noel, I am the lead." Casey said. "I am the lead and Derek is the lead."

"...And?" Noel asked.

"You were the last lead with me. Leads are usually romantically inclined." Casey said.

"You don't know that for sure." Noel said.

Casey narrowed her eyes at him and crossed her arms.

"I helped write the script. I think I know what's going to happen."

Her three friends all grimaced knowing what a romantic sap Casey was and that whatever she helped write for the musical she definitely hadn't been envisioning for herself and Derek.

That would be a massacre musical, not a merry one.

"Ouch." Noel said slowly. "This is going to be painful."

"Physically or emotionally?" Kendra questioned.

"Emotionally for our dear Casey. Quite possibly physically for Derek." Emily said.

"Oh no. Physically for me, too." Casey said scrunching up her face.

Her friends looked at her curiously.

"Said musical that I helped write with said romantically inclined leads share an obligatory kiss." Casey said.

Once again her friends grimaced.

"I'll be physically convulsing, for sure." Casey said.

"Don't worry, Casey. It probably won't be that bad." Emily said.

"And we'll be there to support you." Kendra assured.

"It's Derek. He'll try to weasel his way out of it. It might actually work this time." Noel said.

"I don't think so." A voice said.

Derek slid his way in between the group and looked at the list.

"Yup. Got the lead. And so did you, Case." Derek said smirking. "I figured as much with how you were freaking out in front of the cast list."

Casey glared at him and Emily, sensing that she was about to lunge at him took a small step between them.

"Derek, just save us all the headache and beg for an out." Noel said.

Derek locked his teeth and mocked thinking. "See, I would do that, except, you know, I actually tried out for this part."

All four stared at Derek, unbelieving.

"Okay, fine. Since I made the last musical so popular I get an automatic A for all of next semester if I can rock this one, too." Derek admitted. "You can't beat that. Especially when you need to keep your place as captain of the hockey team."

Casey glared daggers at him. "Derek, you haven't read the script! You don't know what it's about."

"Yes, but I know what it's not about. And it's not about rapping pirates. Anything that's not about rapping pirates can't be that bad." Derek shrugged.

"The two leads have a kissing scene." Noel said dryly.

Derek didn't seem to understand for a moment, but it was obvious when the information processed. His face contorted in disgust but quickly became relaxed.

"So what? We just don't kiss. I mean, they can't make us kiss. That would be like...illegal. We could sue."

"I thought step sibling stuff was legal." Kendra said.

Everyone turned to look at her and she shrank back silently.

"Whatever." Derek said, crossing his arms. "They still can't make us"

--

"WHAT?"

"There is no way that you cannot kiss." Ms. Harold said.

Casey and Derek stared at her, slack-jawed.

"You have to be kidding me." Derek said dryly.

"No. I am not. And I am surprised at you, Casey. I would have thought that you of all people would understand the importance of the kiss! You helped write it, after all." Ms. Harold said.

"That was before I knew that Derek was going to be the lead!" Casey cried, throwing her arms up in the air.

"I'm sure you'll survive! We're not even doing more than one performance! It's only once! I'm sure you can handle it for one night!" Ms. Harold argued.

"That, Ms. Harold, is one night too many. I can assure you of that." Derek said.

"A or D, Mr. Venturi." Ms. Harold said, moving her hands up and down like a scale. "It's your choice."

Derek scowled, crossing his arms. "This is blackmail." He mumbled.

"Oh, come on! Have a heart. It's the holidays!" Casey cried.

"Ms. McDonald, your grade depends on this, too." Ms. Harold said.

"WHAT?"

"You don't have to do the ten page essay on how the theatre has affected twelve different components of life and the we live it today and how it plays a role in your life." Ms. Harold said. "Everyone else does. This musical counts as your grade for this, and it is worth over fifty percent of your grade. Being unable to comply to the demands of the theatre could cost you many points and drop your GPA quite drastically."

Casey's jaw dropped.

"That's dirty, Ms. Harold." Casey said quietly.

"That's show business." Ms. Harold said. She clapped her hands together and smiled. "So, we have this settled?" She didn't even wait for a response. "Great! The kiss is in place!"

Casey and Derek watched as Ms. Harold walked away to talk to the set designers.

"Well, this is just wrong." Derek said after several minutes of standing in silence.

--

Casey burst into the Guidance Counsellor room causing Paul to jump, the doughnut in his hand went flying onto a stack of papers in his desk. He sighed as he picked it up and threw it in the trash can. He then turned his attention to Casey who was sitting silently in a chair trying to regulate her breathing.

After several minutes of silence, Paul clasped his hands together and cleared his throat.

"Didn't get the lead?" Paul questioned.

"No, I got the part." Casey said.

"Well, that's great!" Paul said.

"No! No, Paul, it's not!" Casey cried.

"But I thought you wanted the lead?" Paul asked, looking confused.

"I did. I mean, I do." Casey shook her head.

"Then what's the problem?"

"Derek's in the musical, that's the problem!" Casey explained.

"But...he was in the last musical." Paul pointed.

"He wasn't my opposite last time." Casey mumbled.

"Wait? Derek's got the male lead?" Paul asked. Casey pouted and nodded.

Her eyes widened when Paul burst out laughing.

"Paul!" Casey cried. "This isn't funny! This is catastrophic. If I thought Derek was going to mess up the last musical, it's nothing compared to what he's going to do to this one. Our characters are supposed to kiss!"

This statement only seemed to cause Paul to laugh harder.

"Paul!" Casey screeched.

Realizing what he was doing Paul immediately stopped laughing and cleared his throat.

"I'm sorry, Casey." Paul said, trying not to crack a smile. "That is going to be extremely awkward, I'm sure."

"Well, yeah. It's Derek! How do you expect me to kiss Derek?" Casey asked.

"Well...I don't expect you to do anything." Paul said.

Casey opened her mouth, closed it and thought for a moment.

"Is this one of the things where I ask you to help me, you say no and then I realize that the answer is staring me straight in the face?" Casey asked.

Paul just shrugged.

Casey's shoulders slumped as she exhaled. "Do I just...not kiss him?"

"Well, I would think that solution fits nicely into the problem." Paul said.

Casey sat up. "You know what, you're right. It's only one performance. All I've got to do is put off the kiss during rehearsal and then duck it during the musical, too!" Casey said.

"That's a great idea." Paul said softly. "Or else, it's just a small kiss. It might not hurt..." Paul trailed off.

Casey stared at him blankly for a moment and then began to laugh.

"Oh, joke. You're funny. Good one, Paul." She chuckled as she got up. "Thanks, Paul."

--

Casey walked into Smelly Nellie's and unwrapped the scarf from around her neck. She was led to her table and she sat down. Looking around she saw Derek see her and send go to Sally. It was obvious that he was sending her that way he wouldn't have to serve her.

That, she found, was one of the only two things that he hated about his job. He hated serving her in any way and avoided it at all costs possible. The other thing was Sally. But that was completely different from the first reason and she knew it.

Sally seemed to be arguing with Derek -Casey liked Sally. She always tried to make Derek be nice to her. Sadly, even through his feelings for her he could deny being nice to Casey most of the time- but after a few moment she sighed, shook her head and began to walk towards Casey.

"Hey, Casey! What can I do for you?" Sally asked, walking up to the table she was sitting at.

"Mm, I'll have a cup of the Christmas Cocoa." Casey said.

"Oh, Christmas!" Sally said, quickly writing down the order. "That reminds me!"

"Of what?" Casey asked.

"Hold on." Sally held up a finger and hurried off.

A few minutes later Sally hurried back to the table, placing down the cup of hot chocolate and then handing her a small envelope.

"What's this?" Casey asked, taking the envelope.

"An invitation to my holiday party next week." Sally said. "It's next Friday. I figured since it's the last day before winter break and all. Plus it's right after the musical. Derek's coming so he can give you a ride." Sally explained.

"Ha. Derek being helpful." Casey glanced over to across the room where he was fixing things on the counter. "That'll be the day."

"Hey, Christmas time and all. Who knows. A miracle might happen and he may be nice to you. And get over his crush on me." Sally mumbled the last part to herself, but Casey still heard.

"You're one optimistic girl." Casey laughed.

"You always seem like one too." Sally said, and then shrugged. "For the most part."

"When it involves Derek, there is no room for optimism." Casey shook her head. "Don't worry, I'll probably just go with Emily and Kendra. They're invited, right?" Casey asked.

"Of course." Sally nodded.

"Okay, great." Casey said.

"Oh, well, I hope you do come. Good luck in the musical."

Casey thanked her and Sally went off to continue working.

She gently blew on her hot chocolate before taking a sip and then placing it down. She glanced around Smelly Nellie's. Almost everyone looked happy. She glanced over at Derek again. He was staring at Sally longingly as she had her back turned away from him. It tore at her slightly, the way he was looking at her. She didn't have anyone to look at her that way. Not anymore.

No, wait. She quickly decided that even before she and Max had broken off their year long relationship only a week before, he hadn't looked at her that way, either. All in all, she just wanted that look.

Can you ask Santa to get you that special look for Christmas?

She couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with her-a topic she hated for her mind to wander to, but she just couldn't help it.

She would fall head over heels for a guy and it would just end up going down hill. She just didn't understand it.

Where was the guy that was much (that would be much better than a guy like Derek) to look at her like that?

x—x

Please tell me what you think. Dasey will be gradual, but it will happen, I promise. And things will get much more interesting!

Review, loves.

-Tarryn