The hall was full of fog. Darkness surrounded her and she could feel her shoulders tensing with each chilling step. She could feel invisible eyes on her so her steps quickened. Her breath was heavy and forced and she could here foot steps behind her. Quickly she sprinted through the doorway and turned to slam it shut. Smiling to her self she leaned her head against the cool glass.

"Easy, you're over reacting." She whispered to herself. Taking a deep calming breath she turned around and walked into a chest.

"Easy there Casey…" His large hand clasped around her upper arm, squeezing tightly. "Don't run, don't scream." He whispered; but she couldn't help it at she felt his fingers dig into her arm.

Casey awoke stopping the scream that was echoing through the room. She was lying on her side and there was a throbbing pain on her arm. She turned on the light and rolled up her sleeve and observed the hand shaped mark. She didn't notice the bruise when she went to bed. Her finger traced one of the thick fingers before getting up to grab a longer shirt. She knew that there was no excuse for this one… people would know it was clearly a handprint. Laying back into bed Casey shuddered in the darkness, distressed by every noise and creak in her house. She couldn't fall back asleep. That was nothing new. After these dreams she was usually restless and distracted, her thoughts kept traveling back into the nightmare that was identical to her reality until her clock alarm sounded signalling she needed to get up.

She took a quick shower washing gently over her arms and the other bruises here and there on her body. She could feel here head bobbing whenever she closed her eyes. She was so tired; she never seemed to get enough sleep.

Healthy? Probably not. Could she do something about it? Nothing at all. Why? She couldn't help it. She was in love.

Her hair was wet but she lay back on her bed anyways her legs were stiff. She only wanted to rest a few seconds, but she ended up falling asleep.

"Woohoo Smarti let's go!" she heard Derek scream. It woke her up from her slumber and she noticed it was 15 minutes before she had to leave for school. Quickly she got dressed and ran a brush through her now semi dry hair. It was a kinked mess but there was nothing she could do about it now.

She dragged her feet to the kitchen and sat on the stool.

"Casey?" she jumped startled at Derek's voice. "Wow…you look…" he started to laugh and she glowered at him.

"I didn't get any sleep last night."

"Did somebody have a nightmare?" He changed his voice so that it growled at her as he leaned closer attempting to get a rise out of her. She just sighed and picked at the place mat in front of her.

Derek leaned away taking in her expression for a while before growing irritated and shovelling down his cereal. He couldn't even remember the last time they fought. Mind you he tried and he tried hard, but she never fought back anymore. She would just brush it off. It wasn't fun.

The parents rushed in for a moment, and then left asking Derek to drop Marti off at school then left. Casey was leaning forward head in her hands while Derek told Marti to get her coat. Derek tried once more.

"Casey!" Derek screamed as he grasped her arms to give her a startling shake. He was happy when a scream left her mouth until he saw her eyes. She wasn't annoyed with him. At least if she was he couldn't tell. The fear was prominent in her eyes. They were wide and growing glossy.

"D-der-reck." She attempted to croak out but her voice was lost scared and tiny. Derek stared at her eyes while still holding her arms. He could tell something was wrong now. This fear wasn't like when watching scary movies or anything. She looked genuinely terrified. She swallowed hard as she looked back into his eyes. She was afraid that he could see it now, See what had been going on. And she was right, in a way. He knew something was wrong; something was scaring her. She winced as his hand tightened slightly around her bruise.

"Derek your hurting me." she stated regaining her composer. Derek flinched and let go shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Smerek! I'm ready to GO!" Marti hollered from the doorway.

"Do you want a ride?" Derek asked avoiding her gaze for a moment.

"That's okay I don't want to be too late." She got up and brushed past him and out the door. He was still standing there thinking when Marti hollered again.

She was walking up the steps to the school just as the warning bell rang and she went quickly to her locker. She could feel a chilling sensation just like in her dream but she knew it was real.

"Your late." His voice cooed in her ear wrapping an arm around her waist she sighed and leaned into him. She loved him she did. When he was like this.

"Hi Max." she smiled at him as she turned around.

"You look awful." He stated wrinkling his nose in disgust.

"I didn't sleep well last night." She stated quietly looking away.

"Well I wouldn't have slept well last night either if I was you. Why didn't you answer my calls Casey?"

"I'm not allowed to be angry with you when you get like that?" She said sternly looking into his eyes. That was a mistake he grew furious making her look away. He grabbed her chin tightly jerking her face towards his.

"No your not." He said blankly stepping close to her so that she was now pinned against him and the lockers.

"Max, I have another bruise, you said you were sorry that you were going to stop. You haven't and this one is one of the worst you gave me. I love you yes, but I hate you treating me like your punching bag I think we should just b-" her voice cut of in a tiny gasp as his fist slammed into the locker beside her head. She turned her face away in fear and her eyes caught Derek and Sam. Sam was Obliviously slung across Derek's shoulder as Derek's eyes were attached with hers. Again he saw the same fear in her eyes.

"We have an audience." She whispered looking back at max before reaching up to give him a peck on the lips. He was ridged still but he played along. Casey clasped onto Max hand as they turned to walk down the hall.

Derek slowly turned around walking with Sam but his mind was stuck on the fear he had just seen in her eyes.

The morning passed quickly for Derek as usual, but not because his thoughts were on the pretty blonde in the second row, this time his thoughts were on Casey. He was thinking not just about today, but also about all of the days since he noticed she lost her spark during their fights. He hoped that he could find some sort of connection something telling him what was going on.

He couldn't just ask Casey. She would yell at him and shove him away like usual. Actually, usual sounded pretty awesome right now. For a moment he thought that it was Max, she looked scared sort of. But that couldn't be, she kissed him earlier. He had her pinned against a locker kind of in a way Derek would do. Lean really close with one hand on the girls chin. Casey wasn't giggling mind you, but lots would say that her and Max were just in a compromising condition.

What else has been different with Casey? Nothing really she spends all her time with Max. He's at our place, she's at his, they're out somewhere. Wait… She only spends her time with Max.

Derek darted upwards as the lunch bell sounded and he headed towards the lunchroom. Searching quickly he recognised the curly black hair he had been seeing everyday throughout his life.

"Hey Emily!" he shouted just as she got to a table with her lunch.

"Hey Derek…?" Emily asked slightly confused. She smiled lightly as she saw Sheldon walk up with his lunch tray.

"Hey Derek." Sheldon smiled Derek gave a nod before turning back to Emily.

"Em, can I talk to you for a minute?" she motioned for him to sit at the table which he did and her and Sheldon sat also.

"Sure?" she said still confused "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"How come you don't hang around with Casey any more?" he asked bluntly as he watched her melt away from any former pleasantness.

"Casey is the one who stopped hanging with Me." she said darkly as she frowned at the mystery meat on her tray.

"What do you mean?"

"Casey stopped talking to me all together. I would ask her to hang out and she said she was always busy with Max. One day when I asked her to the mall and she said no again I was a little annoyed so I said "What? Doesn't Max let you have a life now?" and then she went off on me saying if I had a problem with her boyfriend I had a problem with her and that we should just stop talking. Haven't talked to her since." Sheldon fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat and something told Derek that Sheldon had heard this rant one too many times for his liking.

"Why are you asking?"

"No reason, I just realised that you hadn't been over in a while and I was curious. Sorry about you and Case."

Emily was a little taken back by this statement but she let it pass as Derek got up and headed over to Sam.

"Dude, sit on the other side." Derek stated as he sat bedside Sam. Sam was about to question him but the look on Derek's face told him otherwise. Derek looked past Sam to the other side of the cafeteria. Casey sat beside Max obediently picking at her sandwich but not eating it. She wasn't looking at him as he spoke to her until he said something that made her head whip up to look in his face. She said something seeming a little angry. As she was ranting, he reached over and grabbed her hand bringing it under the table. He was talking as her face crumbled her cheeks were turning red and her face looked pained.

He was whispering to her and her shoulders were raising leaning to the opposite side. Derek was far away but he could see the glistening in her eyes. He didn't like it.

He raised swiftly ignoring Sam's questions and strode over to Casey and Max. Casey's face was full of surprise and her and Max moved away from each other so quickly if Derek wasn't watching for it he would have missed it.

"Derek?" Casey asked avoiding his gaze. He thought quickly… he knew she looked uncomfortable but more relaxed now that he was here.

"Dad just called. He for got to tell us we have a dentist appointment half way through third." She nodded but here eyes were telling Derek she knew something was up. She had her last dentist appointment 3 months ago. There was a little fear there but she was relived. She was scared that Derek knew, she didn't want anyone to know but in away she was relived even though it was Derek, she might just get to talk to some one. She didn't have anyone to talk to any more. When this abuse from Max started happening she started to cut herself away from people in fear that they would find out what was going on. One night her and Max had another fight and he made her get in a fight with Emily. Emily was too close to her and was the one person Casey wanted to tell, and Max new that.

Derek stayed close by Casey's table talking with Kendra and her friends. Derek had no idea why he was suddenly feeling so protective over Casey. He kept thinking it was because she was somewhat family and but he was almost certain that it was the fear he saw this morning, how unhappy she looked, he just wanted to protect her. Just like when she was dating that scumbag Scott who was cheating on her. He could hear nothing coming from their table. Worried he turned around and they were gone. The bell rang loudly and he rushed to his third period class. The class was filling up and he took his seat putting his books on the desk next to him. Casey was in this class and was usually here before him. He felt some panic as the teacher started his lesson. Ten minutes passed and Derek was just about to go look for her when he saw her at the door. Max stood behind her. He whispered something quickly to her and she nodded taking the last available seat beside Derek.

"Why are you late?" Her eyes flickered to Max who was still standing by the door.

"Nothing, we just had an argument but it's all good now." She smiled slightly before looking back at Max who slowly turned and left the doorway.

"Casey that didn't look like nothing."

She turned to him with frightened eyes.

"Then stop looking." Her eyes pleaded silently with his. "Please."

Derek just shook his head and turned forward. He couldn't just let it go. Something bad was going on. He didn't know what, but all he knew is he couldn't let Casey do it alone.

He motioned for her to get her things which she did reluctantly as he asked the teacher to give them a slip allowing them to leave. They were silent all the way to the car and the drive.

"I thought we had a dentist appointment." Casey stated as she got out of Derek's car and headed for the door.

"Look Case, I know were not close or anything, and I'm the last person on earth you would want to talk to. But I could tell something was up today and thought you needed a get away." Casey gazed back at him with sparkly eyes.

"Thank you." She said squeezing his arm gently. "You're a good guy Derek Venturi."

She smiled at him once more and then went up the stairs to her room. Max was suspicious of Derek since this morning and he had warned Casey not to say a word. She promised not to. She knew that even though Derek and her didn't get along he would still want a piece of Max if he knew what was going on. She wasn't scared for Max though, she was more scared for Derek. She was pretty sure Derek would try to take Max on, and she was also very sure that, Derek didn't stand a chance with Max anger.

Derek watched her ascend the staircase, before following her upstairs. He knocked on her door and for once waited for her to let him in.

"Yea?" he opened the door and stepped in closing it behind him. Casey was standing in front of her closet tossing a black bag on a hanger on her bed.

"What are you doing?" Derek asked leaning on the door. She looked up at him just for a moment and then turned back to her closet.

"Getting my stuff ready for the prom tomorrow." She tossed down a pink sweater and a white tank top.

"What's that for?" Derek pointed to her casual clothes laid out and she started to fidget with what was laid out.

"Max and I are going to the mall after school he, hasn't gotten his tux for tomorrow yet."

"I thought that you and him had a fight." She was taken back slightly but she recovered.

"It was an argument Derek, people just don't break up for nothing." He could hear the double meaning in her words even if she didn't. It was a cheap shot at his lack of commitment when it came to dating.

"Apparently some people don't break up at all!" he burst out without thinking. She turned to look at him confused.

"What's that supposed to mean?" she gulped subtly she knew… or thought he knew what meant. Earlier she thought there was hope because it seamed that he only thought she was upset, now with that statement she was sure he must know… she needed a diversion.

"What the hell is your problem Derek? For a second I thought you were growing up but you're still just a stupid obnoxious jerk." She felt bad. He has changed, because he saw she was changing and she knew it and now she was cheap shoting at him but she couldn't risk him knowing.

Derek had a double take at her out burst but recovered lamely for Derek but recovered none the less.

"Fine Princess, forget I ever felt pity enough to help you out." He stormed to his room and slammed the door turning on his music full blast. He didn't know why it bothered him that she was still going out with Max, even more going out with him tonight. He could have sworn the reason she was so freaked and distracted lately was because of that jerk. But if he were the reason, would she still be going out with him? If he were really as scary as her expression shows wouldn't she have left him by now? Of course she would she's Casey, she always does the right thing. Unless, he had something holding her with him… Derek growled in frustration. Why couldn't he just go back to not caring about Casey? Again he growled, he knew why. Because she looked hurt, because he missed fighting with her, and because worst of all, she was right. Derek Venturi was a g-good guy.

She drew in a shaky breath. The closest she got to telling anyone about the truth and she had to give it up; even if it was Derek. She looked at the clock and sighed she had lost track of time. Max would be here soon to pick her up.

Derek was in his room with Edwin beside him. Derek couldn't stop thinking and was tapping Edwin's head in concentration.

"Seems like something's on your mind. Want to talk about it?" Derek grunted as he heard a car from outside. He went to the window.

"He's here already?" with that he ran downstairs and opened the door before Max could ring the doorbell.

"Something strange is going on." Edwin said running into Lizzie's room she was on her bed spinning her soccer ball in her hands.

"What is?" she asked putting it down. Edwin grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the stairs to show her what was going on before explaining what he had observed.

"Max! Surprised to see you here." Derek said cheerfully closing the door.

"What do you mean?"

"Your and Casey's predicament. I wouldn't have pegged her to forgive you so easily." Derek didn't know what he was talking about but he was milking Max's reaction well.

"Well, Casey loves me it was just a little argument, I made her forget all about it."

"Ah well Casey will be down in a second. I'm getting food." Derek turned towards the kitchen to get a sandwich while watching Max by the door. He looked like he was deep in thought. He was cutting his sandwich when he heard her come down the stairs.

"Max! I didn't hear you come in." Casey went to give him a kiss when he stopped her. She froze looking at his expression and she stepped back ever so slightly.

"Case its about time, I had to keep your boy here entertained while you dolled yourself up." the corner of Max's mouth twitched and I smirked at Casey. She was looking at Derek with anger now. She hid the scared well. She had no idea what Derek had said but from the look in Max's eyes meant whatever it was pissed him off and when he's pissed off…

"Derek stop pestering my boyfriend and buzz off." She yelled at hi before walking out the door. Max followed and Derek was left standing there. For a minute he thought saying something to Max was a bad idea… but Casey didn't look scared. So all was okay right?

"He was acting strange before Max got here, like he was waiting for him."

Lizzie was confused.

"It sounds like… he's showing compassion… For Casey."

"I know he's being dare I say it… sensitive."

"But he doesn't want to be sensitive, if he is there has got to be a big reason. Yet Casey seems fine, why would Derek need to show compassion for Casey when there is nothing wrong?"

"Lizzie, are you sure nothing is wrong?" Lizzie nodded.

"I'm her sister, if she was in a rough place, she would have told me." Edwin accepted this for a moment and then thought of something.

"Unless we couldn't help her… but then, why go to Derek of all people…?"

"Max you haven't said anything all day. What's wrong?" Casey asked a little frightened. Max held his hand across the table and grabbed hers. Holding a little tighter then necessary he held tighter while he spoke.

"What did I tell you today Casey? Not to talk to Derek right?" Casey squirmed as his grip tightened on her hand. She bit her lip to keep from whimpering.

"And I didn't."

"I don't believe you." He lowered his voice and leaned in. " I don't believe you at all, so listen here you little bitch, he better not know anything else."

"Max I didn't say anything I swear, he noticed something was wrong and I fought with him that was it."

"Don't fucking lie to me Case. He knows, he talked to me, said how he couldn't believe that you forgave me. And Case, if you really did have a dentist appointment I don't think you would have been able to drink anything like you did when we were walking around. So cut the fucking crap and throw him off. And if I catch you talking to anyone again you're going to regret it." He let go of her hand, which she pulled to her lap quickly massaging away the pain in her hand.

"And find your own way home." With that he got up and left with his bags.

"Derek was in the mall parking lot just waiting, he didn't know why but he had a strange feeling like he betrayed Casey, like something bad might happen. So he went after them and followed them to the mall. He was drumming his hands against the wheel when he saw Max leave, but not from the Mall, from Smelly Nelly's across the street. He got in his car and drove away without Casey. A moment later she came out looking both ways before walking towards home. Derek turned on the car and drove out of the parking lot towards Casey.

"Get in!" he shouted when he pulled up beside her. She contemplated to just keep walking but she wanted to get home and out of the cold. The ride was silent until Derek didn't turn onto their street but kept driving instead.

"Derek? Why-"

"What kind of a boyfriend doesn't drive their girlfriends home?" She looked at him speechless as he parked the car in a random parking lot by the park.

"Casey, something's up. Please come clean with me." Derek mind kept slapping him across the face as he spoke. His mind was yelling at him that he shouldn't be caring or showing that he cares this much. But he wasn't listening. He reached out to grab Casey's hand but she flinched and pulled it away. He thought it was because he was Derek. But to her, she pulled away because her hand was hurting, it was sore, no bruise just tender. She actually wished that she could have let Derek hold her hand and she wished she could tell him everything and have him try and make it better, but that was like wishing Derek would stick to one girl, clean his room, not be Derek. She knew he was trying to help but it wouldn't last. And Casey didn't know why but now, the thought of Derek stopping from caring about her sent a pang through her chest.

"Casey I know something is wrong and I cant just sit by and watch you hurt. Don't even lie to me Case. Please just let me in. for once in your life trust me, I'm not Derek your annoying step brother, for once think of me as Derek your friend."

"If there was something to tell you I would. But it's nothing that you need to worry about. We've been dating along time its normal to have problems now and then."

"Casey be honest, not just with me with yourself. It's not just now and then, it's been almost always lately. You've changed, you sadder you never smile, you don't even fight with me, and trust me we still have lots to fight about."

"You noticed all this?" Derek looked away from her. For some reason his chest was pounding at this. Out of all she could say she picks out how he has notice her behavioural changes. When he didn't answer she continued.

"So your only worried cause your bored and you want me to fight with so you can have a good time? That's low Derek even for you." Derek laid his head against the steering wheel.

"No Case your missing the point."

"I want to go home."

"Case…" Casey didn't reply to him she just opened the door and got out heading towards their block.

"Casey, Casey wait!" Derek got out of the car and raced after her spinning her around

"Fine, you don't have to tell me what's wrong, I won't make you; But Case, as much as I hate to admit it I care about you. So you don't have to tell me. Just if something is wrong and you need some one, just come to me, we can… sit and play Babe Raider or something, I wont even touch the subject ill just help you forget about what's wrong, just please, I really want the old Casey back, you can think that its selfish all you want but its not because, you were happy once Case, don't deny it." She gave him a look swallowing hard. The look was or pain, she was really… ecstatic that Derek was opening up to her but she had to keep rejecting his efforts. Derek misinterpreted the look for something else and continued warily.

"Not that your not happy now, I'm sure you are just… Case… please." was all he said. Casey quickly searched her mind for a way to lighten the mood and get home. She chuckled and Derek looked up at her eyes confused.

"Okay so let me get this straight your going to let my cry on your shoulder, Derek Venturi afraid of tears Venturi is going to allow me to cry on his shoulder, and play his video games? You must be sick." Derek exhaled a little happy with the change of topic but he knew Casey was just dancing around the subject.

"Come on let's go home."

okay so i appologise but this story is going to be slower updating wise because i like my chapters long and i have 2 stories going... but i couldnt wait... anyways i hope you all liked this chapter... and just so you know i got the idea and inspiration from Greenfeind03 from youtube

the video is called Monster which is a song by Meg and Dia band. the link is in my profile... i give alll my inspirational credit to her.