I wanted to write a Dasey-at-university fic now that the series is over. There are far better ones out there, but I figured I'd throw my hat in the ring. The style of this one was inspired by reading the Twilight books – I'm sort of on a first-person kick. It's been awhile since I've done that in this fandom, so I wanted to give it a try.
Some important notes: Truman and Casey last for most of the summer, but they break up because Truman's going to Halifax. Derek and Emily break up right after graduation but stay good friends. (Emily's going to Toronto anyway, and really, did anyone think that "relationship" was going to last?) Also, we know that Ralph is going to Western, but we don't find out about Sam. So for the purposes of this story, Sam is going to Queen's University with Derek and Casey.
I did some research on Kingston and Queen's (yes, I am going to continue using that annoying apostrophe, because it's written all over the website that way), and it seems like an awesome school. Casey and Derek made the right choice! Everything you'll read about the university is from the website. Obviously, I don't go there, so I might get some details wrong. But their website is very helpful if you want to write an authentic College!Dasey.
Also, I wanted this to be as true to the series as possible, but ignore the stuff D and C were bantering about at the end of Futuritis, about sororities and Casey living in an all-girls residence hall. In my opinion, that was just chatter before they made any formal plans.
Enjoy! And review!
Disclaimer: I don't own Life with Derek.
Chapter 1: Face-Off
Locker room talk. Derek knew it well. Hell, he had invented it at Thompson. But here at Queen's, it wasn't as…imaginative. Maybe it's because the guys were actually getting the action they were talking about. Maybe because guys in university were slowly maturing. Derek had no idea. But whatever the reason, he didn't feel the same need to participate that he had in high school.
Hockey preseason had been amazing. The guys on the team were great, and it was nice to have Sam around. And now that classes were starting and they would soon be playing other schools, Derek was on cloud nine. University was fun so far.
Even the living situation was pretty good. Sure, moving in with Casey had been the furthest thing from his mind when he found out he'd been accepted to Queen's. He'd been relieved to be going off to university, to actually have a direction for his future, but he hadn't expected to continue living with her. In fact, he'd planned to stop focusing on her altogether and meet some new girls. And because she wouldn't be living with him, he would actually be able to pay attention to these new girls. (And maybe even fall for one, for real.) And when he saw Casey around campus, his obsession with her would magically disappear, because he'd finally have some distance from her. It was hard to forget about her when they were living under the same roof, always getting in each other's way.
And what Derek wants, Derek gets.
He hadn't planned on going to the same school as Casey. It wasn't his fault that Queen's accepted both of them. So it was majorly unfair when Dad and Nora were all, "let's save money by having you two get an apartment together blah blah blah." That was a problem. It completely ruined his method of moving on.
He knew Casey was just about as thrilled at this prospect as he was, but neither of them really had a choice. Derek had been wait-listed everywhere else, and Casey had her scholarship. They were not going to back down and choose different schools. So, they had to suck it up and live together for four more years.
Derek held out hope that he could still keep his mind off of her somehow, that he could still force this silly crush away.
But it just kept getting worse. They found a tiny two-bedroom, where of course it was impossible to escape one another. Instead of sharing a wall, their rooms were opposite each other, with the bathroom at the end of the hall. So there was no breathing room. And he didn't even have his siblings there as a buffer.
It was all Casey, all the time. And…he loved it. He hated that he loved it, but he did. She was not a fan of the campus food, so she'd been cooking for the two of them. He practically lost it the first time he came into the kitchen and saw her standing there frying something with the most adorable apron on. She looked so domestic. They were living like a freaking married couple. Because he didn't want to feel like a complete schmuck for eating her delicious food and giving her nothing in return, he started doing his chores without comment or complaint. It had impressed her, he could tell, but neither of them said anything about it. It was best to just let things play out, he had learned. Drawing attention to such things would earn him praise, and then he wouldn't feel like helping out anymore. And Casey knew that, so she kept her mouth shut. Smart girl.
As they adjusted to living on their own together (remarkably easy to do, since they had been living in the same house for years now), Derek realized that he would have been even more miserable if they had only seen each other on campus once in awhile. He was being a masochist, but hey, he needed his Casey-time.
He hadn't held out any hope in high school: she would never have him. People would talk. It was just…wrong.
They were in Kingston, almost five hours away from home, and here was the crucial difference: no one knew they were stepsiblings. (Sam had known about Derek's feelings forever now, so he didn't count.)
Derek didn't give himself enough credit to believe that he'd ever actually make a move. He was okay with that, though, because he was playing house with her 24/7. It didn't matter if people were in the dark about what the two of them actually were. He could go on fantasizing and pretending, and praying that these feelings (he hated that word, fffeelings, but that's what they were) would go away. As long as no one knew how he and Casey were related, he felt less…icky. Because even if he knew she was definitely not his sister, other people were less likely to understand that concept.
He only had a few days left of this glorious ignorance. Classes would start, and Casey would meet new people, and they would wonder why she was living with a guy. She would be quick to reassure them that he wasn't her boyfriend. She'd say they were stepsiblings, emphasizing the step, of course, and that would be that.
Sam thought he was the biggest idiot in the world. "Just tell her how you feel!" had become the poor guy's mantra. But Derek, being Derek, knew what was best. He couldn't tell her. How would that even work? He spent so much time and energy making sure she knew how much he couldn't stand her. Why would she ever go for a guy like him? It was practically incest, anyway, according to, like, society. People wouldn't get it. She wouldn't get it. Sam only understood because he knew that Derek couldn't resist anything with nice legs and killer smile. It wasn't Derek's fault. It was just simple biology. It would go away. Someday.
All of this was on Derek's mind during hockey preseason. His living situation hadn't come up with his teammates, but then again, he hadn't felt the need to bring it up, either. That glorious ignorance was a powerful motivator. As was exhaustion. He hadn't talked much because he was always tired. Preseason had been fun, and yet he had never played so hard in his life. Go figure.
Everything changed, however, during the first official day of practice. Derek noticed a small group of girls in the stands at the rink as the team skated out onto the ice.
"Who are they?" he asked the captain, Joel, as they took a quick water break after some drills.
Joel smiled. "They, my friend, are the HGs."
Derek shot a look at Sam, who shrugged. "The what now?"
"They call themselves the Hockey Girls. Isn't that cute? That blonde one in the middle is my girlfriend Sarah. And the girls around her are the girlfriends of other guys on the team."
Mark, who was listening, nudged Derek and waved discreetly at a pretty redhead, who waved back with a big smile. "That's my girl Brooke," he said proudly.
Derek and Sam exchanged glances again and grinned at Mark's enthusiasm. "So your girlfriends come to all the practices?" Derek asked.
"Yeah. We all," he motioned to the team, "hang out together anyway, so the girls kinda bonded too or whatever. So now they come to our practices and have special sweatshirts for the games and everything. They're like our cheerleaders."
Derek scanned the girls again. Wow. Some of them were pretty hot. But it looked like they were all off-limits. Oh well.
Derek winked at Sam. "You shouldn't have told Sam that. He has a thing for cheerleaders."
Joel punched Sam on the arm. "I hear ya. But these girls are taken." Sam was blushing furiously. Derek knew it was mean to do that to poor innocent Sammy, but the look on his face made it worth it.
Sam held up both hands in a surrendering gesture, trying to play along. "Believe me, I get it."
Joel turned to Derek. "You should bring your girl around. She'd like the HGs. Sarah would make her feel welcome."
That threw Derek, and he looked to Sam for help. But Sam looked just as confused. "Who?" Derek asked.
Joel furrowed his eyebrows. "Whaddaya mean, 'who'?"
Derek tried not to sound condescending. "Who, as in, which girl are you talking about?"
Mark spoke up again. "You know, that girl you were walking around with at orientation. She was fine." He wiggled his eyebrows and gave a low whistle to illustrate his point.
Derek's stomach tightened. Mark's with Brooke, he reminded himself, and the jealousy ebbed. "You mean Casey? She's not—" Derek could almost see the crossroads in his head. Come clean now and admit that Casey was his stepsister…or have a little fun. The choice was clear. And he knew he had made the right one when his next words made Sam's face twist up in a very scary way. "—not into hockey," Derek finished, knowing how lame it sounded.
Joel and Mark didn't seem to notice. "Who cares?" Joel waved a hand dismissively. "When we first met, Sarah barely knew what a puck was. She's had a lot of fun just hanging out with the HGs."
Sam accidentally-on-purpose aimed a swift kick at Derek's ankle when he said, "Yeah, that's Casey too. I just might have to bring her around." He tried to ignore the throbbing in his leg. That was going to leave a bruise. Stupid Sam and his morals.
"You should," Mark insisted. "How long have you guys been together? We don't usually have freshmen HGs before the games even start. Most guys like to play the field a little."
Derek tried his best to look like a guy with a girlfriend. "About three and a half years." It wasn't a lie. They met in the spring of grade nine. "I'm not really a fan of dating around."
Sam suddenly had a major coughing fit. Derek thumped him on the back and got a huge glare for his trouble. At least Sam was being good and not ruining the ruse. Derek would get yelled at later, he was sure of it. Again, though, so worth it for the looks he was getting from his best friend.
"Aww, Derek is so in looove," Joel teased. "That's really cool, though. In all seriousness, not a lot of relationships last that long, especially in high school."
"Yeah, man. Good luck with that," Mark chimed in.
Derek nodded in what he hoped looked like appreciation. "So far, the whole living together thing has been good, so we'll see," he said without thinking. Not the smartest move, Venturi, he chided himself.
Joel's eyes got comically wide. "You live with her? You are so lucky."
Derek nodded again. "Yeah, I am." He accidentally sighed a little wistfully. Oops. Gotta stay on track. "We got an apartment together instead of paying for two dorms. It's the size of a closet, but it makes our parents happy." Again, not even a lie! This is too easy!
"Your parents are happy about you, like, living in sin?" Mark asked incredulously.
Shit. "Um, well, we don't…really." This is just wonderful. I'm such an idiot. Derek fought the urge to bang his head against the wall.
Joel nodded in understanding. "That's how Sarah is too. She wants to wait until we're married." He rolled his eyes, but he was smiling.
"Let's save the chatting for the locker room, shall we, ladies?" their coach suddenly appeared and crossed his arms over his chest. "Let's get a move on!"
They skated back out to finish practice, and the conversation was over.
But the damage was done.
So yeah. University "locker room talk" was apparently something Derek should have avoided like the plague. It was too late now, though. Joel even brought him over to the HGs after practice, so they could be introduced properly. Joel was right; Casey and Sarah would really like each other. That made Derek even more uncomfortable than he already was.
As they were heading out of the rink, it seemed like everyone on the team was telling Derek to bring his girlfriend to the next practice to meet the HGs. Word travels fast on a team that small.
"Sure, sure," he acquiesced as he and Sam hightailed it away from the arena.
"Not a word, Sam," Derek commanded as soon as they were out of earshot.
Sam just waited patiently for Derek to unlock The Prince.
"I mean it. Not a word."
Sam didn't say anything as he got into the passenger seat. Derek knew that Sam knew silence was the best way to deal with Derek right now, so of course he cracked right away. No use beating around the bush.
"Look, I know that was really stupid, but…"
Sam surprised him. "You know what, D? I don't care. You go ahead and keep this up, and we'll just see what happens."
Derek's mouth dropped open. "Huh?"
"Seriously. I'm sorta morbidly curious." Sam shot him a devilish grin.
Derek managed to close his mouth. "You won't tell Casey?"
Sam's eyes twinkled. "Tell Casey what?"
I can't believe how easy this transition has been. I thought I'd never see the day that Derek Venturi willingly helped out around the house. It's true. He's been great. We've been living together for almost two weeks, and it's been nothing short of peaceful. Sure, I do all the cooking, but he's been doing his own laundry, and taking out the trash, and doing dishes.
It's amazing what a little maturity will do to a boy. I am so proud of him.
I know he's probably lulling me into a false sense of security so that when he starts pulling pranks, I'll be totally taken by surprise. But you know what? I don't care. Right now, I'm enjoying living with him.
Did I just say that? Oh my gosh, I did.
I'm not even all that homesick. I talk to our family every day, and I email Emily, who's at U of T. I've been having a good time exploring the campus, getting an early start on coursework, and learning my way around Kingston, so I've really been too busy to miss everyone yet. Besides, Mom, Lizzie, and Marti drove out here for a few days to help me decorate and get the apartment in order. And I haven't even seen Derek enough to fight with him, because he's been training so hard. But his first official practice was today, so that means he'll be able to spend more time at home from now on.
Listen to me calling our tiny apartment 'home.' Weird, huh?
Classes start tomorrow, and I really can't wait. I'm going to make so many friends, and get perfect marks, and the professors are going to learn my name before anyone else's.
I think it's safe to say that I'm going to love university.
I was deliberating over my outfit for my first class when Derek came in from hockey practice.
"Hey Der," I called from my bedroom. He grunted in response, but I wasn't offended because I knew his mouth was probably already full. Sure enough, as soon as I entered the kitchen I could see his bottom half sticking out of the refrigerator.
When he finally emerged from his rummaging, I held up my two final choices.
"What do you think I should wear for the first day?" I held up a capris-and-lacy-blouse combo. "Preppy casual?" I switched hands and held a sundress up to my torso. "Or dressy?"
"Do I look like I care?" And there was the expected response. But I knew all it would take to get him to answer was sticking my bottom lip out a teeny-tiny bit with just the slightest hint of a whine in my voice.
Derek glanced over each outfit and flicked his wrist towards the blouse. "That looks like Marti sewed it together and then put it in the garbage disposal."
"Preppy casual it is." You see? The one he insults is the one he likes. I know this because of all the times I've known for sure I look good, and he's called me ugly and insulted the outfit. I've got this boy down to a science. He's not that complicated once you get to know him.
Derek, meanwhile, just rolled his eyes and plopped down in front of the television with his plateful of carbs.
I refrained from telling him not to spoil his dinner. That would be a little too motherly of me. And I was trying to be his roommate, not his keeper.
I got the shock of my life when Derek entered my bedroom a little later (without knocking, but no surprise there) and offered to make dinner. Once I scraped my chin off of the floor, I answered with a simple, "That would be great, thanks." It's not a good idea to make too big a deal of things when Derek does something nice. I've learned that from experience. I'm telling you, living with him is a cakewalk by now.
It feels so different without the others around, though. It almost feels like we're like a married couple or something. How weird is that? In a way, I like having him all to myself. I get to see the sides of Derek he's only shown me glimpses of before. (Like offering to make dinner, for instance. Of course, I'll have to eat my words if he ends up putting ants in the ice cubes or something…) I like being the one to see Derek acting human. It makes me feel like I've actually had a good influence on him.
I'm going to need him, too, when school starts getting crazy. He's the only one who can get me to put down my notecards and relax. And I'm the only one who can motivate him to stay on top of his work, so really, us living together is a great idea. I wasn't thrilled at first, but I really think it's going to help both of us in the long run.
"This is perfect," I told him, as I scooped myself a second helping of mac and cheese. (Hey, don't judge. Dinner is dinner. And he also made a salad and garlic bread.)
"Of course it is. I made it, didn't I?"
That was Derek-speak for thank you. So I said, "You're welcome." He flicked a piece of lettuce at me. I picked it out of my hair and ate it. I actually saw him smile.
Sometimes I feel like I live for that smile. He so rarely just lets it stretch from ear-to-ear. I know it's real when even his eyes smile. It's such a great feeling of accomplishment to know that I made The Derek Venturi look like that.
After dinner, he washed and I dried, even though I insisted that since he cooked, he could have the night off of dish duty. (There are only two of us, so washing dishes takes like five minutes anyway. But it's the thought that counts.)
"Hm?" I carefully stacked our plates back in the cabinet.
"I was wondering, maybe, would you want to come to my hockey practice tomorrow?"
I stared at him. There had to be a catch, or a joke in there somewhere. But he looked completely sincere.
"Um, why?" I couldn't help being blunt. I just could not possibly fathom why he would be asking me this.
Derek paused, but then launched into a speech he had obviously practiced. It would be undetectable by anyone else, but I know him too well. "I think it would be good for you to meet my teammates. I'm probably going to be spending a lot of time with them, so you should know who they are. And we have these cheerleaders that seem really nice. I thought you might want to make some new friends."
I wasn't sure how to react to this. Derek was being rational, and…sweet. There had to be a catch. "What's the catch?" I asked suspiciously.
Derek shook his head. "No catch. I'm serious."
I shrugged. "Okay. It could be…fun."
He gaped at me. "Really?"
I figured he had been expecting a little resistance. "Yeah, why not? Besides, maybe a cute hockey player will ask me out," I added, just to tick him off.
It worked. He made some sort of harrumphing sound, and then fell quiet. Wow, no insult in the vein of, 'No hockey player in his right mind would date a Space Case like you.' He must be really tired from practice.
I patted his shoulder and hung up the dish towel. "I'm going to do some reading in my room. Good night."
"Night, Case." I could feel his eyes on me as I walked away, but I refused to give him the satisfaction of turning around. I'm choosing to trust that he has no ulterior motive in inviting me to practice. I hope I won't regret it!