Marti sighed

Author's Note: I'm so sorry this is late :\. And it's sooo long too (5,000+). Wow, I'm sorry. I couldn't bring myself to cut it.

So this is for Jo (Invalid Minds). This is my first Flashfic J
It occurs somewhere between Driving Lessons and Derek's School of Dating (for convenience and denial purposes, of course). And I apologize if I couldn't include everything you wanted… I've recently learned that I'm completely inept in almost anything that is not strictly Derek/Casey. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

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A Venturi Plan of Action

Marti sighed, blowing out an irritated breath.

Her students were not paying attention today. She scowled in frustration when sir-monks-a-lot, her usually most prominent student, started to slouch backwards.

She fell back on her bed, wondering how she was going to sort this whole mess out.

"Listen guys," Marti attempted once again, albeit with more resolution and firmness this time. "No one beats Venturis, got it?" she said in her best coach Anderson – Derek's hockey coach, that is – impression.

Her resolve strengthened when she recalled her conversation with Naomi.

"You know, my brother is cooler than yours now," Naomi said snottily, dribbling the ball clumsily. Marti frowned. No one was cooler than Derek, but Marti was going to play fair.

"How is he cooler?" she said sportingly. Really, Nora would be proud.

"He's a soccer player and he has a girlfriend," her best friend declared, as if it was the most remarkable thing in the world. Marti's dubious response was stumped when Naomi sensed her disagreement. "They love each other and mom says that's the best thing ever."

This wasn't the first time they had argued about which of their brothers was cooler. Derek usually won out at the end. But ever since Naomi's brother joined the soccer team, Marti was being constantly challenged by her best friend.

Naomi used Marti's reflective silence to continue, "Stacy always comes over and helps mom with cooking. And he always does nice things for her and she always helps him and comes over to give him things he forgets." Naomi had dropped the ball by then and regarded Marti in that proud way she usually did when they spoke about their brothers. "And they hug and kiss all the time! And they share clothes!"

"But Stacy is not your brother!" Marti rebutted.

"No, but she's his girlfriend."

Marti face contorted dramatically in disagreement but was unable to answer because the recess bell rang.

Marti's frown reappeared. She didn't even think that made sense, but she was sure as hell about one thing: Naomi was going down - no matter what Marti had to do to.

Fortunately, the solution magically appeared to her the moment she got home that day. True to their characters, Casey and Derek were wrestling violently for the remote. It only hit her when Derek started tackling Casey that this was it.

Had it lasted for a few seconds, Marti wouldn't have given it a second thought, but Derek's easy smile and the short fleeting moment between them when he stopped told Marti that yes, this was definitely it.

This was why her brother was better than Naomi's.

This was why Marti found herself discussing her plan of action with her rather useless pupils.

0

When she was playing hide and seek with Daphne a few months ago, she found a small bag under Casey's bed.

Marti wasn't going to very well deny her curiosity. That and for all she knew, it could have turned out to be good blackmail material.

She was strangely surprised then when she found a regular pair of jeans and shirt in the bag. It was slightly out of place but Marti soon forgot about it and proceeded with her game.

But now, as she quietly piled Casey's clothes in her arms, it occurred to her why Casey felt the need to keep an extra outfit under her bed. As Marti gently emptied Casey's shirt drawer, Marti made a grab for them too. Wanting to make a quick job to make sure she got the desired results, she managed to load Casey's clothes in the bathtub in three trips. Casey was still fast asleep. Daphne was on the look-out outside.

Marti softly shut the bathroom door behind her and opened the shower to full blast. She waited a few minutes and let the water soak through all the shirts.

And then she poured shampoo over the top.

Marti was sure to pay for this. She stood resolutely, though, as the water cascaded over the clothes; she had a point to prove. Daphne was cackling beside her and Marti vaguely wondered how she ended up with such a conniving friend. It was her idea after all. A few minutes more, she shut the water and went back to her room to catch a bit of sleep before all hell broke loose.

0

"DEREK."

Marti tried not to smile as her eyes opened. She quickly shot out of bed and peeked into the hall, just in time to see Casey storming up to Derek's door and knocking loudly.

"You better open this door, you jerk," Casey bellowed, banging harshly on his door. Marti caught Derek's faint grunt and felt a slight pang of guilt for framing her own brother.

She shrugged the feeling away. He'd forgive her once everything came into place.

Derek opened the door and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "What's the problem this time, Space Case?"

"What's the problem?" Casey yelled back incredulously. "What's the problem - you moronic insensitive oaf!"

Marti cringed when each insult was punctuated with an obviously painful poke, but her brother remained still. He barely reacted to Casey's aggressive behavior.

"Did you just call me an oaf?" Derek retorted smartly, a slight smirk forming on his lips.

Casey narrowed her eyes. "Oh, do you prefer barbarian, or lout or tactless jackass?"

"A lout?" Derek repeated, unable to keep from laughing. Casey shoved him, hard.

"Case, not that I find your aggravation highly amusing," he contained his smile when Casey's nostrils flared. "–but may I know what I did to be an oaf and/or a lout?"

Casey screeched. If Marti didn't know any better, she would have been scared for Casey's health.

"You think you're so clever and so important. But one of these days Venturi…" Casey took an awfully close step and spoke directly to his face.

Marti could swear there was smoke coming out of Casey's ears.

Derek's face remained expressionless, if not dimly amused. "One of these days what, Casey?"

"I'll get you back." Casey said this with such gravity and determination that Marti vaguely wondered if she should just out herself sooner than later. Casey was bound to go easier on her than on Derek. "Now, move."

And with that, Casey moved an oblivious Derek to the side and barged into his room. She was muttering angry insults about Derek as she shuffled through his drawers and finally settled on a green tee-shirt. Derek still looked perplexed but snapped out of it at the last moment.

He blocked Casey's way out of his room. "Hold on there, Space Case. Why did you just take my shirt?"

"Derek, just let me pass before I do something we'll both regret."

Derek seemed to have sensed the no non-sense in Casey's tone and brought his arm down. He watched her walk away and frowned in confusion.

Knowing Derek would catch her if she attempted to close her door, Marti openly stepped out of her bedroom. "Good morning, Smerek!" she said quickly as she hurried past him.

But what was she thinking? She had never been able to get anything past her brother.

"Freeze, Smarti," he said in trepidation, catching her before she got to the stairs. He turned around to face her and made that 'I'm waiting for an explanation' face he only reserved for her.

Marti pointed to the bathroom and whispered a soft, "Sorry."

He narrowed his eyes in suspicion, but upon her puppy dog look, easily caved. Marti whooped in joy inwardly. He gestured for her to stay put as he walked backwards.

Marti bit her lip when Derek poked his head in the bathroom. Not a second later, he looked back at her and sent her a questioning look. He shifted his gaze from her to the bathroom several times before it finally seemed to sink in.

He walked towards her in a half-daze and stared at her in awe. "Seriously?" Marti was happy to detect a note of pride in his tone. She nodded sheepishly. Derek mouthed the words 'wow' and shook his head.

"You realize I'm going to be in a world of trouble for this, right?"

She did know. But honestly, she was doing it for his own good. It didn't dissuade all of her guilt, though.

She nodded again. What's been done has been done, after all. He regarded her thoughtfully but sighed in defeat. "Go get ready for school, Marti." His face was grim and oddly contemplative.

Marti's spirit fell dramatically… he called her Marti.

It took another squabble between Casey and Derek to revitalize her mood. It wasn't a couple of minutes after her confrontation with Derek that Marti joined the rest of the family in the kitchen.

As expected, Casey was angrily eating her cereal and shooting daggers at Derek, in his shirt. Marti silently thanked the heavens when, true to her assumption, Derek simply smirked at Casey. When he caught sight of Marti, his face softened and she instantly felt much better.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with you, Derek," her dad said desperately. Nora was gently rubbing his back and regarding Derek with that disappointed look.

"How about caging him," Casey muttered into her food. This only made Derek chuckle quietly.

"Come on, it was getting boring around here. Who wouldn't want a waterfall in their bathtub?"

"What are you, six?" Casey shot back, practically slamming her finished bowl of cereal on the table. "Where the hell do you get off on this, Derek?"

"Casey," Nora admonished cautiously.

"Oh my god, Mom! Are you serious?"

"Honey, just relax, okay. Derek will get the punishment he deserves, won't he, Georgie?"

But her dad just kept his head firmly on the table.

"Casey," Marti cut in. "Take a chill pill." She remembered hearing that expression on television a while ago. Casey gaped at her and Derek laughed more heartily. Casey quickly diverted her attention back to Derek.

"Shut up," Casey sniped venomously to which Derek raised his hands in mock-surrender, smirk still well in place.

Marti felt someone nudge her on the side.

"Don't say take a chill pill. It's so two years ago," Edwin whispered inconspicuously. Marti nodded obligingly, but missed Casey's next words as she stood up and stormed out the room.

Marti made sure to pay attention to Derek's intent gaze. He must have realized what Marti had realized: that even with the option of everyone else's clothes in the house, Casey chose to wear Derek's. And perhaps it was unintentional, but they were still sharing clothes.

And when Derek followed Casey with his eyes without a trace of irritation, Marti knew she was more than successful.

One step down, three more to go.

0

"Isn't Casey your sister?" Naomi said with a shocked look.

Marti rolled her eyes. "No, she's my step-sister."

Naomi was quiet for a moment. "Okay. But she's not Derek's girlfriend." She crossed her arms over her chest in resolution.

"Maybe not now," Marti said pompously. "But soon."

"Soon?"

"She'll be his girlfriend soon," Marti clarified, sighing in mock-exasperation.

Naomi's face contorted. "How?"

Marti laughed at her best friend's goldfish expression. "Because he's Derek."

0

When she got home, Marti was in a good mood. Casey was still wearing Derek's shirt. Since no one was available to take care of the mess in the morning, Casey's wet clothes had sat there the whole day. Needless to say, Casey was only able to start washing and drying them after school.

Marti needed to evaluate her step-sister's anger and act accordingly. She was talking on the phone when Marti entered the laundry room. Casey was lounging lazily over the dryer.

"Oh my god, remember when he played cannonball?... I know… I love him. He's so good," Casey said happily into the phone.

She spotted Marti. "Hey Em, hold on." Casey moved the phone away from her mouth. "What's wrong Marti?"

"What's cannonball?" she asked curiously, leaning on the wall facing Casey.

She laughed. "It's a very beautiful song, Marti. I'll make you listen to it if you want."

If Casey was laughing, then she couldn't be that upset with Derek.

Good.

She went to Lizzie next, suddenly coming up with an idea. She knocked on the door quietly and barged in as soon as Lizzie uttered a word in acknowledgement. She was building another one of her eco-friendly projects.

"Liz?" Marti started, jumping on the bed beside her step-sister. Lizzie dropped her pair of scissors on her night table and smiled at Marti.

"What's up?" Lizzie was always really nice to her. Marti ought to give her more credit.

"What's Casey's favorite ice cream?"

Lizzie's eyebrow rose up before she replied. "Um, kinda random… but it's chocolate and cookie dough."

Marti nodded sagely and made to leave. She had business to attend to.

"Marti?"

Marti's hand was on the doorknob when she turned around.

"Why do you wanna know?" Lizzie asked curiously.

"I don't. Daphne does. She's so annoying sometimes."

"Um, ooh-kay."

Marti opened the door before Lizzie got even more suspicious. "Bye!" She closed the door quickly behind her and ran to Derek's room.

"Who is it?" Derek grunted to the general vicinity of the door.

"It's me," Marti said all business-like.

"Hey Smarti," he greeted back, never taking his eyes off the comic he was reading.

"Smerek!"

His eyes rose to her face and sent her an expectant look.

"I want ice cream."

"We have ice cream sandwiches downstairs," he responded, not wasting a second and returning to his comic.

"But Daphne doesn't want ice cream sandwiches," she whined. She pouted. "She wants another kind."

"Smarti, what are you trying to say?" He regarded her gravely, almost challenging her to ask him for a favor. And she was going to take the bait.

Marti bounced enthusiastically on the bed. "Can we go to the grocery store and get some, please, please, please Smerek?"

Derek gaped. "Did you forget you framed me, your own flesh and blood, this morning?"

Marti recoiled. "Are you mad?"

He studied for her for a moment. "I guess not," he relented. "You're a Venturi - it's what we do." He smirked at that and approached her menacingly. Her reflexes proved slow when he suddenly lunged at her and started tickling her mercilessly.

"Uncle!"

He was laughing too and fell back on his bed beside her.

"So can we go to the store?" she asked again, a huge grin plastered on her face. He laughed.

"No can do, Smarti. I'm grounded. Dad took my keys."

"I can convince him."

Derek shook his head in amusement. "I very much doubt that, Smarti." He made a grab for the comic that fell to the floor.

"You wanna bet?" she said boldly. He sat up straighter at that, his eyebrow quirking questioningly.

"Okay…" He waited for her to elaborate. She was only too happy to oblige. It was a sure deal.

"If I can convince dad to let you take me to the grocery store, then you have to buy me nail polish."

Derek laughed. "Nail polish? Can't you use Lizzie's or Casey's?"

"No," she huffed. "They don't have the color I want."

"Wow, okay… and what do I get if you lose?"

"If I lose, then I'll make potions with Casey's perfumes again."

Derek's grin reached his ears. "Deal."

She practically ran up to George, no wanting to waste any time.

Convincing her father was possibly the easiest thing she ever had to do. Not only was her dad someone who easily caved in, but he was far too gullible. All she had to do was tell him they were getting something for Casey as a peace offering: her favorite ice cream.

"I can't believe how fast you–­­­­­­­­­­­­­­what the hell did you say?" Derek said in astonishment as they walked to his car. Marti settled in the backseat while Derek started the car.

"My lips are sealed."

She didn't tell Derek the ice cream was really for Casey, just grabbed the right carton out of the freezer and made him pay for it.

And she chose a bright yellow nail polish.

0

"Is this your idea of an apology?" Casey said in mild-disbelief, storming out of the kitchen and into the living room, ice cream carton in hand.

Derek barely took his eyes off the TV. "What is?" he mumbled absently. Marti whirled around to get a better look at Casey's face. She was hoping Casey would have discovered it the next day, before Derek's hockey game. It might have incited Casey to attend Derek's game, with a little goading from Marti, of course.

"Don't play dumb, Venturi," Casey deadpanned.

Derek huffed and finally tore his eyes away from the Oiler's game. It took him about half a second to process everything and even less time to shoot Marti another apprehensive look.

"No, this is my idea of being a good brother," he shot back, looking back at Casey.

Casey scoffed. "Like you ever thought of me as a sister."

Marti noticed that Derek recoiled just a bit. And if her gaze hadn't been intently trained upon her brother at that moment, she probably wouldn't have detected it.

"I wasn't talking about you," was his snooty reply. He gestured for her to leave and thankfully, she did. Casey puffed and muttered something that sounded strangely like "liar" as she made her back to the kitchen.

But Marti's momentary feeling of triumph was squashed when Derek cleared his throat loudly.

"What?" she said in a half-squeak.

"I'm starting to question your intentions, Smarti. Perhaps your loyalty lies in the wrong party."

There were many ways she could have gone about this. She could have frantically denied any of his claims and restated her fidelity to the Venturi clan, or she could have played the moral card.

Now, the moral card usually didn't work with Derek, unless you were Marti.

And she was Marti, was she not?

She settled for the latter. "I wanted to be nice."

Derek shot a look of disbelief. And then he was on the couch, checking the temperature on her forehead. She batted his hand away. "Smerek."

"What have they done to you?" Derek inquired in mock-panic.

"Nothing." Marti clicked her tongue. "Daphne wants to use Casey's pink nail polish but she obviously won't let her if she's in a bad mood." Marti said this as if it was the most logical and obvious thing in the world.

Derek laughed. "I should have known."

Marti pulled a serious face and fixed him with a stern look. "So just go a long with it, okay?"

He saluted in acceptance.

Later that night, Marti pulled the notebook from under her pillow and crossed out 'sharing clothes' and 'do nice things'.

Two steps down, two to go.

0

"Your nails are yellow!" Naomi squealed when Marti took off her gloves.

"Of course they are." She shoved her coat and lunch box in her locker and hoisted her bag back on her shoulder.

"Didn't Mrs. Catay say not to color our nails with our yellow highlighters?" she whispered discreetly, following closely behind Marti as they entered the classroom.

"It's real nail polish, Naomi," Marti corrected, settling in her usual desk.

Her best friend perked up. "Really?"

At her friend's enthusiastic look, Marti nodded happily. Naomi grabbed Marti's hand and admired the botchy polishing job with awe. It was yellow. "Derek bought it for me."

"Oh," was Naomi's faint response, dropping Marti's hand.

"But you can borrow it," Marti added. She knew that however competitive they were about their brothers, they were still best friends.

Naomi smiled beatifically.

0

"Where the hell is my necklace?" Derek panicked, running around the house and mostly making a mess in his desperate search.

Casey snickered but proceeded in eating her salad.

Derek grasped both of Edwin's shoulders. "Help me," he demanded, shoving his younger brother out of the chair to stand. Edwin needn't be told twice and started searching frantically with Derek.

Marti watched with disguised satisfaction.

Casey rolled her eyes. "Jeez, why is it so important?" She absently played with the remaining lettuce on her plate and didn't notice his glare.

"Why? Why? Because I have a hockey game tonight that none of you are attending and I need that necklace."

"Wow, never thought you were the needy type. If you really wanted someone to come, why didn't just ask?" Casey retorted in a bored tone.

"I didn't think I'd need too," Derek shot back in a huff and ran up the stairs, leaving a bewildered-looking Casey.

She turned to Lizzie in confusion. "Did he just…" she pointed vaguely to the direction he had just been in and shook her head.

Lizzie looked just as baffled. "Yes. I think he did."

Casey still looked aghast when Derek shut the door behind him. Marti hadn't expected this, but it certainly fitted in nicely. This was the moment she had to cut in. She trudged up the stairs in record speed and as soon as she reached the top landing, yelled out. "Casey, is sir-monks-a-lot in the laundry room?"

Marti slowly came back down. It appeared to be the perfect moment because Casey filed past her to the door and pulled it wide open. A cold draft filled the room, but Marti didn't care.

Yes, everything was falling into place nicely.

She watched as Lizzie tried to understand the situation and Casey mindlessly pace in front of the door, Derek's 'lost' necklace in hand.

But this could not last long because Casey had to catch Derek before his game started. Marti was at such a crucial point of the plan; she couldn't afford to fail now. "You found Derek's necklace!" She pretended to be surprised and jumped in joy for emphasis.

"We have to go give it to him," she continued, to which Casey's face fell.

"Marti, I don't have a car."

Oh. Crap. She hadn't thought of that.

But Lizzie, her other amazing step-sister, came through. "Emily!"

Casey gasped and quickly made for the phone. By the time Emily picked up, both Marti and Lizzie were standing anxiously beside Casey.

"Em, I need a huge favor… No, no, I'm fine. Just, I really need you to drive me to Derek's game."

There was short pause before Casey spoke again. "No, he's fine. But he forgot something and I have to give it to him." Marti could see Casey getting frustrated. "Please, Em," she said persistently.

It only took a few minutes before Emily was ready to leave. All three of them hastily got into the car and practically yelled at Emily to start driving.

"Relax. Where's the fire?" Emily snapped.

"Sorry," Casey said sheepishly, holding the necklace tightly in her fist. It didn't go unnoticed.

"What's in your hand?" Emily inquired curiously. Marti rolled her eyes.

"Oh," Casey uttered stupidly, her palm falling open as if she realized it was in her hand only then. "Derek's necklace."

Emily frowned. "Please don't tell me we're driving all the way to the Bourque Arena to give him his necklace."

Marti piped in. "Yes, we are. It's important to Derek. He won't win if doesn't have it."

Emily shot Casey another skeptic look but seemed to accept the explanation, driving faster at Marti's insistence. They must have arrived merely fifteen minutes after Derek had. The game still hadn't started.

Lizzie and Emily went to find a seat while Marti and Casey went to search for Derek. They spotted a few hockey players with the other's school jerseys in one hall so Casey figured Thompson's team would be in the other hall.

But it was like the never-ending hall of Never-Land, not to mention that Casey was constantly fretting about seeing something she shouldn't. "Boy parts" were Casey's exact terms. And people thought Marti was eleven.

"Derek," Marti called out into the hall. Perhaps now Casey wouldn't be feeling so anxious.

And much to their luck, Derek's head eventually poked out from one of the doors after the second call, looking as haggard as ever. He frowned in confusion, but approached, skates and hockey gear all in place.

"What? Is something wrong?" Derek worried, scanning them both for injuries.

Casey seemed frozen in place for some reason, until Marti nudged her. Casey jerkily brought up the necklace. His expression quickly transformed from surprise to relief to sheer happiness.

"My baby," he said jovially, putting it over his head and kissing the ring.

They remained standing there, Casey awkwardly shuffling her feet and Marti standing tall and proud beside her.

"Oh, uh, where'd you find it?" Derek moved to the side as one of the players walked past them.

"In the laundry room," Marti supplied before Casey revealed that it was under sir-monks-a-lot. Derek would have seen right through that.

Casey nodded in acquiescence.

"Venturi, have you finished socializing or do I have to drag you back here," Coach Anderson rumbled from behind Derek, approaching the trio threateningly.

"Yeah, I'll be right there, Coach." Derek turned back to them and bent down briefly to hug Marti. He stood up and regarded Casey contemplatively. "You guys staying for the game?"

At her brief affirmative answer, he nodded and started walking backwards. "Well, we're all going to eat pizza afterwards, stick around a bit after and you guys can come with us."

"Lizzie and Em are here," Casey said quietly, engaged in a strange staring thing with Derek. Marti wondered if that was a good sign.

"They could come too," he threw back casually as he disappeared back into the room.

Marti tugged on Casey's arm when she still hadn't stopped looking at the place Derek had just been in.

"That was so weird," Marti heard Casey whisper to herself.

The game went by pretty uneventful, but Marti did catch a few hurried and whispered exchanges between Emily and Casey, and could have sworn she heard Derek's name several times.

They went to the pizza place near their house and the dinner was mostly spent watching the whole team spew their victory - in other words, making loud noises and occasionally bursting into lame songs. But the night ended pretty fast, much to Marti's dismay.

Derek and Casey were making progress. They hadn't even insulted each once during the whole evening. Casey even laughed at one of Derek's joke. Unfortunately, the success was short-lived when Casey and Derek both escaped to their rooms.

Marti sighed. This was way beyond her capabilities. The last step wasn't really in her power, unless she found a valid reason to put up the mistletoe. She'd have to look for it anyway, and frankly, she was way too worn out with this match-making business.

"Why do you look so glum?" she heard Edwin say. She tore her gaze way from the top of the stairs.

"Are you and Lizzie really close?" she asked instead. Maybe she just needed to redirect her attention.

0

But it seemed luck hadn't given up on her just yet.

She got the idea when she saw Edwin walking out of the game closet. She'd heard of the term before and figured this was her best shot yet.

Seven minutes in heaven, they called it. Lock a couple in a closet, and they make out.

It was a bit tricky to get them both in the closet at the same time, but it was possible.

"Smerek, please, it's too high for me." Marti pulled on Derek's hand until he finally complied. Casey was already searching for Marti 'lost game' in the closet. Derek had just spotted Casey looking when Marti shoved him with all her might and grabbed a chair to pull it under the doorknob. She had seen Derek do it to Edwin once and was happy when it succeeded with her this time.

She had spent a whole hour the night before practicing for it at least.

Both Casey and Derek were yelling at her to open the door. Liz and Edwin passed by at some point, but at Marti's determined expression, continued on their path to the living room.

When they fell quiet for a while, Marti bent down and lied on her stomach to take a peek through the crack under the door. She saw two pairs of feet shuffling away then a few murmured words she couldn't make-out were exchanged.

It wasn't long before they were full-out arguing about whom Marti assumed was Casey's old boyfriend, Max, and then a girl named Sally. And suddenly, there was a thud and their feet were tangled on one side. Marti tried to sneak a better look, but it was too dark to actually see anything above their feet.

But by the loud and slightly nauseating smacking and kissing noises, Marti knew she was triumphant. She gently put the chair back in its place and happily skipped to the living room to enjoy the end of High School Musical 2.

She watched as Lizzie's head fell near Edwin's shoulder and smirked.

Yes, Marti might have to make a second plan of action.

Daphne would love that.

0

Naomi scratched at her yellow nail polish absently, finally pulling back the covers in defeat. She couldn't sleep.

Naomi slipped on her slippers and quietly made her way downstairs to where her mother was sitting. She had been meaning to ask her something for a while now but never really got a chance to.

"Mom?" she murmured, seating herself next to her mother on the table.

"Yes, Mimi?" she said sweetly, closing her paper and smiling warmly at her daughter.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course you can, honey, ask away." She turned her chair to face Naomi and waited patiently.

"If Derek's girlfriend was his stepsister, does that count as love?"

Her mother frowned. Then realization hit her. "Have you and Marti been competing about your brothers again?"

"Mom, that's not the point. But doesn't that disqualify him?"

In amused disbelief, she shook her head. "Honey, if Derek's girlfriend is his stepsister–wait, is she?"

At Naomi's defeated nod, her mother laughed. "Oh dear."

"It's not funny," Naomi snapped gallingly, not understanding what the humor was.

"Oh, I know, I know, sweetie," she managed to say through her laughter. Then she called out to her father. Naomi scowled. What was the big deal?

When her dad appeared next to them, her mom spoke again. "You know those two teenagers I told you about?" When he frowned in reflection, she continued. "The unresolved," she cleared her throat, "tension couple, you know?" As soon as his eyes widened in recognition, Naomi knew there was something she didn't know.

"What about them?" her father asked.

"They're actually dating."

"Oh, wow."

"I know."

Naomi exhaled exasperatingly. "You know what?"

"Oh, it's not important," her mother dismissed, having finally taken note of her daughter's mounting frustration. "Your dad and I were just talking about how… they, uh… remind us of a couple we know," she finished lamely.

Naomi wasn't convinced but when her dad started to admonish her for competing with Marti again, she gave up. She angrily got under the covers and huffed noisily when she realized that Marti's brother won… yet again.

0

End

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Original Prompt: Marti Venturi has a hard life. She has to deal with her crazy dad and stepmom, her stepsiblings, school, her annoying best friend Naomi, and she has to play matchmaker while dealing with Daphne telling her what to do! Dasey, Lizwin, Geora. Marti's POV.