This plot bunny has been hopping around my head for a while, so here goes. It's going to end up being a three-shot.
I was inspired by BostonChick06's video for "At the Beginning" on YouTube; it is such a Dasey song, and I love the video (Go watch it!). And Piper17 made another great one using mostly Season 3 clips. (Go watch that one, too!)
Thanks to Allie for the beta.
Enjoy! And review, please!
Disclaimer: I own the Anastasia DVD, and the Anastasia soundtrack, but no Life with Derek. Because apparently, Life with Derek is not for sale. At least, it wasn't on craigslist this morning.
We were strangers, starting out on a journey. Never dreaming what we'd have to go through. Now here we are, and I'm suddenly standing…at the beginning with you.
Chapter 1: I'll Be There When the World Stops Turning
Sam struggled to support Derek, who was having difficulty standing. "Take me to her."
"D, you really shouldn't be talking to Casey right now," Sam groaned.
"I said, take me!" Derek commanded, slightly slurring his words.
Sam sighed. "Alright, but just because I know you're not going to let up. But promise me you won't say something stupid."
"Yeah, whatever, Sammy," Derek replied distractedly, peering through Emily's crowded backyard for his stepsister.
Derek had never had a problem holding his liquor, but tonight, the night of their high school graduation, Derek had thrown caution to the wind and downed every alcoholic beverage he could get his hands on. Anything to forget. To numb the pain. Because Casey, his Casey, was leaving him in just a few short months to start her new life. Without him.
She'd been ecstatic when she'd gotten the acceptance letter from Yale, and while Derek had feigned his approval, inside it had killed him to tell her that he was excited for her. Because he knew then. If he had told her his feelings for her, she wouldn't have stayed. It wouldn't have mattered—he'd waited too long. They'd spent half of junior year and all of senior year developing their already close bond; they were best friends now. But that was it. She dated occasionally; he went out with random girls to forget her for a night. Not even a night. An hour or two.
He'd wanted to tell her he loved her. He'd tried so many times. But something had always stopped him. It wasn't the stepsibling issue. Not anymore. Screw society, he'd thought. I deserve to be happy. But he thought that maybe the not knowing how she felt was better than the knowing, especially if that knowing involved her slapping him across the face and saying she could never love him like that. He couldn't take that chance.
Despite his best efforts to enjoy Emily's party, the alcohol had been unable to mask his pain. He still felt like a piece of him was missing—how could he survive knowing Casey wasn't a few footsteps away from him as he slept? Never again standing at the bathroom mirror brushing their teeth together, and never again driving around in the Prince, compromising on music choices and talking about everything and nothing. How do you tell your best friend that you decided you can't live without her? That the thought of her in another country, while you're stuck at the University of Toronto, makes you want to throw things?
And he had thrown things. Just not when anyone else was around. He'd cried a bit, too, when he'd first found out she was leaving. But no one could ever know that particular fact.
This was it. The end of an era. The prospect of his trip to Spain last year had been different. He'd known he'd be coming back, that things would return to normal. But now they were high school graduates; their lives would never be the same. She'd find some smart Yale guy, get married, and have a few kids, never realizing her soul mate had been right there all along. And Derek would die alone, because he knew that he'd never marry anyone who wasn't Casey. She was it for him. If he couldn't have her, he didn't need anyone else. Better not to settle for second best, and always resent whichever girl he'd picked.
That was partly why Derek had been celibate the majority of senior year (Prom didn't count, everyone had sex at prom. And his date was easy). He didn't even want to touch another girl. But he had to go out with a few, to keep up appearances. Casey was none the wiser, of course. Though they were close, as close as friends of the opposite sex can be, they never discussed their dates. Derek because he couldn't suppress his jealousy when she talked about other guys, and Casey because she figured Derek didn't actually hold enough conversations on his dates to have anything interesting to say about them. She was wrong, of course, but Derek let her think what she wanted. Because all he wanted was to make her happy.
Sam was sick and tired of it. He'd told him more times than he could count that Derek needed to man up and confess his feelings. But Derek refused to listen. Now Sam was going to Vancouver, Derek and Ralph would be sharing an apartment at UT, and Casey would be in the States. So far away that she could forget Derek completely, if she wanted to.
He didn't want to go home for winter and summer breaks, and when they each ended, watch her leave him over and over again. Once she moved to Yale, that'd be it. He decided they'd never be in the McDonald-Venturi house together ever again. He'd visit her, sure. But not in that house. Not in a place with so many memories of what could have been. What should have been.
Casey was sitting on a chaise lounge chatting with Em, when a reluctant Sam appeared with Derek in tow.
"Casey!" Derek beamed, struggling to break free of Sam's grip, though he failed, since he could barely stand on his own.
"Case, Derek said he needs to talk to you," Sam told her, helping his friend sit and giving Emily a pointed look. Emily, who had also borne the brunt of Derek's whining during senior year, had managed to stop herself from telling Casey about Derek's feelings on multiple occasions, but she agreed with Sam that he really needed to tell her. But not tonight. That was not a good idea.
"Are you sure?" Emily asked Derek, trying to get him to rip his gaze away from Casey. "Derek, don't say something stupid."
"Spare me the lecture." Derek waved his hand at Emily carelessly, and almost toppled off the chair. "Go away!" he barked, and went back to staring at Casey with a goofy grin on his face. She eyed him warily.
Emily pulled Sam aside. "Do you think he's going to tell her to stay or something?" she whispered.
Sam shrugged. "Casey's not going to take anything he says tonight seriously; she can see he's had a few too many."
"A few!" Emily snorted. "Let's hope for the best. Come on, we have to go rescue Sheldon. I left him on bathroom duty."
"I'll pass, thanks," Sam began, but Emily pulled him towards the house.
"Nope, you promised to help me out tonight, and that includes making sure my parents don't come home to find the house in ruins. I want to go dance with my boyfriend; you can keep an eye on things for a few minutes."
"Fine. But you owe me." Sam followed her reluctantly into the house.
Derek watched them go; when they were finally alone he took Casey's hand and caressed it, trying his best to focus on her eyes, so that his own ended up darting back and forth between hers and making him dizzy.
Casey smoothed a strand of hair from his face. "What did you want to talk to me about, Derek? And why are you so wasted? You told me you don't drink anymore."
"I don't," Derek insisted, and leaned against her shoulder, unable to keep his head up. "You're leaving me in two months," he accused.
"I'm gonna miss you, you know," Casey told him, patting his knee gently. She wasn't used to dealing with him this way—it kind of freaked her out.
He nodded. "I'm going to miss you, too. Too much. I love you, Casey." He lifted his head to look at her, and saw that she was smiling.
"And I love you. I'm so glad we became friends." She figured he was one of those sappy drunks; she may as well play along. Though she really did love him—he was her best friend.
"No?" Casey repeated, confused.
"I mean, I love you." Derek wasn't quite sure why she didn't get it.
"Yes, I heard you."
"No!" Derek's eyes darkened, and he put both hands on her shoulders to steady himself as he looked at her. "I want you."
"Derek, don't be silly, do you even know who you're talking to anymore?"
"I'm drunk, Case, I'm not blind," Derek chuckled, and he tried again. "I want you."
"Oh." Casey wasn't quite sure how to respond. She couldn't really say, "I want you," in return. Sure, she'd had a major crush on him when they'd first met, but that was quickly replaced by repulsion, aggravation, and then, finally, a deep friendship.
"Please, Casey. Stay. Be with me." Derek was feeling pathetic; she was not responding well.
"Der…" Casey began, but before she could say more, Derek turned away from her, leaned forward, and vomited onto the grass.
"Oh, God. Derek, come on, we'd better get you home."
"No…" Derek couldn't finish the sentence, because he retched again.
Casey helped Derek to his feet, and they made their way slowly across the yard. Casey let them in their back door quietly, and miraculously half-dragged, half-carried an unconscious Derek up the stairs and into his bedroom, without waking a single occupant of the house. She laid him on his stomach and carefully removed his leather jacket, which reeked of the various beverages Derek had consumed that night.
She stood in the doorway watching him for a minute, and then called Emily to explain what had happened. She left out the part about Derek's insane confession; she knew it had been the alcohol talking, and he wouldn't remember it in the morning, anyway. Right?
The next morning, Derek woke to the sound of Casey snoring softly in his desk chair. Blinking in pain as he lifted his head and felt the sun's rays hitting his face, he tried to call out to her, but it came out as more of a croak.
She heard him anyway, jolting out of her slumber, and placed an aspirin and a glass of water in his hands. He thanked her and downed the glass, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and laying back against his pillow. He hadn't had a hangover this badly in, well, forever.
She looked him over apprehensively, as if afraid that speaking would hurt him somehow. Derek waited impatiently for her to say something, and when she didn't, he did the only logical thing he could think to do.
"What happened last night? How trashed was I?"
Casey scrunched up her nose. "It was pretty ugly, Der. Why'd you drink so much?"
"Graduation," Derek shrugged, as if that explained it.
Choosing to ignore that, Casey continued, "Do you remember anything about last night?"
Derek pretended to think hard, even though the memories had flooded back to him as soon as he'd opened his eyes.
"Well, I think I puked. And you carried me up here?" he peered at her, as if confirming the information.
She nodded. "Yeah. It was so much fun," Casey came over and patted the top of his head. "That was sarcasm, Derek, in case you missed it."
"Funny, Case." He looked up at her with sincerity in his eyes. "I'm sorry you had to babysit me. I promise I'll never do anything that stupid ever again."
"Apology accepted. Now that I know you're alive, though, I'm going to go take a shower."
She headed to the doorway, and paused, turning around to face him again. "You sure you don't remember anything you said or did last night, besides the puking?"
Derek was already in too deep; he'd made a mistake in telling her his feelings, and now was his chance to fix it. "I don't remember a thing. I probably acted like an idiot, though," he lied, as convincingly as he could muster.
She bought it, and he breathed a tiny sigh of relief. "Oh, you were your usual charming self," Casey teased, and, relieved Derek's confession of love was only a fluke, went to take her shower.
When she was gone, Derek rolled over and punched his pillow, burying his face deep within it to block out the light. It was going to be a long day.