A/N: Hey everyone, I'm new to the Dacey fandom, but not new to fanfiction… I've been doing all kinds for years. I kind of just randomly get inspired to write things, and since I've been watching Life with Derek, I got inspired to write this. I read a few of the stories, but obviously not all of them, so I have no clue if this idea has been done before… hopefully not, I really hope it's unique, but if it's not, let me know.

The whole story will be done by Casey's perspective and it'll kind of be in this narrative conversational storytelling manner, cause that's the style of the story, but no worries, I'll have way more dialogue in the next chapter… just the first chapter is kind of an intro to set up the story.

Anyways! I hope you guys like it! Please do review if you have a chance… I'd really appreciate feedback to let me know if I'm on the right track, and I'll definitely post another chapter soon. Thanks!

Story title Delicate is a song by Damien Rice: it's amazing! Listen to it if you're able to!

Chapter title The Night Starts Here is a song by Stars, and is also a good listen!


Chapter One: The Night Starts Here

The first and most important unspoken rule was that we never discussed "it". This rule was essential in protecting our fragile relationship—if you could even call it that. Non-relationship maybe?

In the beginning, the process would start every night at dinner. Earlier in the day it was like I didn't exist. Or at least the Casey he cared about didn't exist. To tell you the truth, I sometimes felt like two people—but I'm getting ahead of myself here. At dinner we would all sit around the table for a family meal like mom always insisted. That's when the looks would begin. I'm not talking about the standard Derek glare, or look of scorn… or even the gazes of utter boredom which covered his face 90 percent of the time he was forced into the company of his family. I'm talking about real, genuine, emotional, heartfelt… stomach-churning, knee-buckling, heart-racing looks of desire. But not the kind of desire you're thinking of. Not yet at least. Desire for another form of intimacy. But you'll understand what I mean later.

I, of course, would ignore the said glances and look away quickly, stuff some unknown item of food in my mouth, start a topic of conversation with mom or Lizzie, stare at my own feet… anything to get away from that look. Naturally, the same could be said about Derek. Every time I'd look at him—okay, so the actual eating, conversing, and staring at anything but him never really worked for long and my eyes would always return to Derek, as if there was a magnetic pull…so what?! I'm only human!—as I was saying, every time I'd return a glance, he'd look away super fast. A certain advisor of mine has been trying to get me to see things from other people's perspectives (namely Derek's) for ages; you know, put myself in their shoes. Well, maybe it's the same thing for him. Maybe whenever my eyes lock onto Derek in a freakish accidental magnetic way, I'm giving him burning glances that say "I want you". It wouldn't be far from the truth, after all. Do I mean to convey that with a look? Heck no! So perhaps Derek doesn't mean to either.

All I know is that they happen. And they make me feel… well… I can't even describe it, but I think you get the idea from the mindless rambling about a few silly looks. Yeah, I know. I'm pathetic.

I should probably explain what's been going on. Well, each night, after everyone else has gone to bed Derek and I… cuddle. I know, I know. Either you're going "what?! That's insane!" or "Oh… just cuddle? No big deal." But it is a big deal, and there's a very logical explanation for it. Well sort of. I guess. But to understand, I guess I'll have to explain what exactly happens when we…cuddle.

So like I said, it happens every night. And I mean every night, school nights and everything. Each night at around midnight Derek and I meet down in the living room. Whoever's there first—usually him, but sometimes me—turns on the TV and sits there, pretending to be watching it. Well, at least I pretend. Maybe he actually watches TV. I don't know. The other person comes downstairs and sits on the couch, a couple of feet away. Gradually we move closer and closer together, and within minutes my hand is in his, my head is leaning on his shoulder or resting against his chest and I can feel his arms enveloping me, his breath on my face. We would sometimes chat a bit, watch TV, joke around, but mostly we simply sat quietly… just, well… enjoying each other. It sometimes lasted a half an hour, sometimes two hours, but we were always in bed before the rest of the house woke up. It was comforting, relaxing… intimate. I felt like we really connected on a level I had never connected with anyone else. It was at the point where we didn't need words, we just needed each other. I'd always wanted that with someone, and trust me… Derek was the last person I expected to find it with. But you have to understand, when we were alone, Derek was completely different. He was still sort of the same old Derek; confident… well, more like cocky; a bit brash and rude; snarky and sarcastic. But he kind of toned it down, and he never made fun of me or said something to hurt my feelings. He listened when I spoke and gave advice and smiled in a different way than I'd ever seen him smile before.

During the day he was still the same old Derek, and I was the same old Casey to him—nothing changed. But at night time he was a new guy. Like Derek version 2.0, nasty virus removed. Although the old Derek was unchangeably arrogant and obnoxious, the new Derek became sweeter as we grew closer. I finally started to figure out what his ex-girlfriends saw in him. Derek Venturi was a sweetheart, one on one. You just couldn't tell anyone. That was a big thing with Derek—secrecy. He was all for leaving things unspoken. I, of course, wanted a truce between old Casey and old Derek, but he was relentless in continuing to act like his old self. I, of course, being sensible logical Casey, wanted to discuss things. What was going on, why this was happening, what we felt, what this meant, where this was going, what this would mean, how this would change things, if it had to change things, if we would tell anyone, if he wanted more. But every time I tried to bring it up, I was shut down by Derek. I'd open my mouth and simply say "So Derek…" and I guess either he has mind-reading abilities or he really knows me well, cause he'd always interrupt with "Casey…" in a warning tone, or even blatantly say "Don't ruin this." And I'd stop. Because he was right. I didn't want to ruin it. I didn't really understand it, but our little meetings were beginning to mean everything to me. The last thing I wanted was for them to disappear.

How had this all started, you may be wondering. How did little Casey Macdonald end up in some completely random, semi-wrong… cuddling fling with her step brother, who until then she considered her arch-nemesis in life? Well you see, it all happened the night I broke up with Max.

I was at home, crying my eyes out like a pathetic little baby, even though I was the one who dumped him. Now these tears were most definitely not pretty tears… this was the kind of ugly crying that they don't show in movies out of fear that they'll scare the children. I was a total wreck. The house was dark, everyone was in bed, and I had spent the whole evening willing myself not to cry so that I wouldn't bring everyone else down with me. Now was finally my time to break free without anyone pitying me or feeling guilty for not knowing what to do.

Little did I know, Derek had snuck out hours before I'd made my way into the living room, and had just returned home in the middle of my crying—okay, sobbing—jag.

"What are you doing here?" I asked, sniffling loudly as I brushed the tears away with the back of my hand. I couldn't let him see me like this. When Derek saw weakness, he pounced on it and used it to his full devious advantage.

"Just uh… a midnight stroll," Derek said quickly. "What's wrong?" he asked, approaching me on the couch.

"Nothing, nothing's wrong… I'm fine. Just, the allergies, you know." I said, sniffing again for emphasis. As he sat down beside me, I caught a glimpse of Derek's face in the moonlight. It was full of… was that concern for me? Yeah right, I was imagining things. The last person Derek Venturi cared about was me. He'd made that perfectly clear.

"Case," he said reaching out for my hand, and enveloping it in his. "What's up?"

"I said nothing!" I insisted, but my voice broke suddenly and a sob escaped. I cupped my free hand over my mouth quickly before I could lose any more of my dignity.

"Seriously," Derek said, shifting closer so that our thighs were touching, my hand still warmly clasped in his. "I know I…" he looked down at his feet. "I don't exactly treat you like my best friend, and I know I don't always show it very well but I… I care about you."

"Like a sister?" I asked, moving my hand from my mouth.

"No, not like a sister," Derek said quickly, a tinge of annoyance in his voice.

"Like what then?" I asked quietly. He looked up at me and my eyes connected with his. Silently we sat like that for what must have been at least a minute; staring into each other's eyes, still touching.

"Like…" he began. "Like a really, really good friend."

"Since when am I your friend?" I asked. "You can't stand me, remember? I'm the ultimate annoyance to you."

"I think you know me well enough by now to know that most of that is a front, Casey," Derek said simply.

I had nothing to say in return, for once, so I blinked quickly and considered. Well, I'd always suspected that deep (deep, deep, deep) down, Derek wasn't such a bad guy. But I'd never really had concrete proof. Until now.

As if to further prove he was a decent human being Derek let go of my fingers, but quickly clasped them with his other hand, as he placed his now free arm around my shoulders.

"So, tell me about it," Derek said simply, after a moment of silence.

So that's when I began to tell him. How I felt about Max, about losing my identity, about everything. And Derek just listened. Gradually I felt myself relax against him, my head nestled in the crook of his neck; keenly aware of how his body was pressed against mine; how he'd play with my fingers, grazing them with his own; and how, with the arm that was wrapped around my shoulders, his thumb soothingly stroked my upper arm, back and forth, back and forth. I spilled my guts to him about everything. And he just listened. He was exactly what I needed.

Needless to say the next day I was scared out of my mind that the previous night was some sort of ploy to get me to open up to him so that he could use all of that information against me. But he didn't say a word. He didn't change either; he threw out my lunch "by accident" and made a rude comment about my outfit. But at least he didn't tell. That night as I was falling asleep at around midnight, I heard footsteps outside my door. Someone tapped on it lightly, and then the footsteps padded softly away. Confusedly, I got up from bed and opened the door, peering around to see who had wanted my attention at this time of night. That's when I heard the soft sounds of the TV in the distance. Making my way downstairs I spotted Derek in a t-shirt and boxer shorts, his feet up on the coffee table, sitting on the couch—and not in his favourite chair. And that's when I knew that he was waiting for me.

Of course, as you know, it continued every night after that, whether we had to comfort each other or not. But we did comfort each other, if something bad had happened to one of us that day, or if we were feeling like crap. We both knew that all the other person needed was someone to be with. We were that for each other.

Naturally it was very rare for Derek to need my comforting, since he blew most everything off like it was no big deal, while I took everything to heart. But it happened sometimes, and when it did, I got to be a shoulder for him. I remember one night, his hockey team lost the provincial finals. Derek was absolutely gutted. He acted like he was fine, but I knew that he had prepared for this provincial game for ages, and he had gone in fully expecting to win, as usual. He was devastated, I could tell from his face. It was pretty much agony having to sit through a pep talk from mom and George, TV watching with Edwin and Lizzie, and faking writing an English essay without being able to comfort him. All I wanted was to put my arms around him, place my cheek against his, and whisper that it was going to be okay.

That night I went downstairs, hoping he'd be sitting on the couch, but unsure of whether he'd be up to it. Maybe tonight he wanted to be alone. Maybe he was going to push me away. Maybe this would be the first time in the month since we'd first began this… thing, that he didn't want to see me.

But no, there Derek was, flipping the channels like crazy as he stared blankly at the TV. I approached him silently and sat on the opposite end of the couch, and he set the remote down, the TV on the food network. I considered for a moment how to approach this. I knew what I liked when I was upset, but what would Derek need? And then it just came to me… I knew how I'd deal with Derek's hurt.

I slid over next to him and instead of nestling up against his chest like usual, I sat up and placed one leg on the couch on the left side of Derek, and one leg on the right, so that I was kneeling, straddling his legs. I wrapped my arms around his chest and pressed my face against it, so his chin was resting against the top of my head. I did all of this in complete silence, and within seconds, Derek let out an audible sigh, and I felt his body relax against mine as he reached his arms around me and rubbed my back, leaning down quickly to kiss my forehead. We sat quietly for at least a half an hour before Derek was ready to talk. And when he did, I listened. Just like he had done for me. And just like he knew what exactly I needed to feel better the night Max and I broke up, I knew what he needed. Hey, what are friends for, right? The problem was, Derek was becoming more than just a friend to me. And because of our "No Talking About It" rule, and the delicate state of our relationship, I couldn't know if he felt the same.

Next chapter: Derek and Casey push the limits of their friendly "situation" and after Derek teases Casey about her potential feelings for him she attempts to prove him wrong by helping him with Sally.