I think I might slowly be falling in love with this lil' story of mine. It's vapid, definitely, but it's been interesting and fun tooling around with a Derek who's less about denying his feelings for Casey and more about violently repressing his attraction, which has apparently exploded to near-moose proportions now that they're in university together. Alone and whutnot.

Next chapter of USteps will happen eventually, I promise. Just finished the outline today. Only Ray Charles knows how long that'll take to flesh out.

[here's lookin' at you, disclaimer.]

::in which Derek is not a morning person::

It isn't like Derek's managed to forget (certainly not for lack of trying) that in Casey-speak, 'noon' means somewhere roughly between the hours of seven am and Obscene, per se, it's just something he's conveniently (and willfully) unremembered in the intervening time between when university'd started and when he and Casey'd silently, mutually agreed to drop out of each other's lives.

…well…mostly, anyway.

He still sees her periodically (far more often than either of them would ever readily admit to enjoying); occasionally he tags along with her to class (usually without her prior knowledge or consent, and primarily just to throw and/or spit various wads of notebook paper, candy wrapping, or bits of mysterious food-like lumps he discovers in his pockets at the back of her head), sometimes she tries to drag him off to support some ridiculous Cause or other (generally unsuccessfully, except when she bribes him with food and promises all he has to do is Stand There and Look Pretty), and every now and again –to Derek's increasing bewilderment—they run into each other at parties (he's still adjusting to this incomprehensibly large new world, in which there's room for both Casey and himself to be popular in their own circles).

Still, he's been becoming quite comfortable with their unspoken trial arrangement, consisting of a regimented routine of Careful Avoidance and Pretending Not to Know Each Other.

So this recent resurgence of Casey cameos has been unsettling, disruptive, and…complicated. To say the least. Which is pretty much all he's capable of at –he shifts a look askance at the clock half-submerged in a pile of his clothes in one corner of the room—seven forty in the morning.

Groaning miserably, he burrows deeper into the dark, warm, sound-buffering comfort of his small mountain of comforters, trusting his lauded Ability to Sleep Through Anything to rescue him in this, his most desperate hour.

Casey appears to have sensed his rallying efforts to will himself unconscious, however, as she has suddenly moved from simply shouting her outrageous demands at him to loudly abusing his door and relentlessly calling his cell phone. Which is all the way across the room, buried under papers and a practice jersey and a paper plate with some unidentifiable substance or other merrily congealing away on top of it.

Wretchedly, aware that the only way to Soothe the Beast is to go out and verbally abuse it, he rolls unhappily out of his bed and trudges resignedly toward what is most assuredly Certain Doom.

When he finally answers the door, he does so in boxers and a t-shirt Marti'd clipped the sleeves off of Once Upon a Time for an impromptu 'found art' project (no thanks to Casey's extolling the values of the medium), and possibly the darkest glower ever before survived by naked human eyes.

Casey looks disgustingly chipper.

"Good morning, Derek!" She proclaims, beaming sunnily.

"Go away." He rumbles, and closes the door in her face.

Half a heartbeat later, the doorknob twists experimentally, and because his brain won't be fully operational for another seven or eight hours (at least), instead of simply reaching out to flick the deadbolt into the upright locked position, he reacts instinctively and throws himself against the door frame, bracing his shoulder for impact, an alarmed spike of adrenaline ripping him right out of his drowsy stupor. Which kind of pisses him off. He likes the drowsy stupor.

Several seconds later, she tries pushing through, tentatively. He growls crankily at her and invites her kindly to leave before he is forced to destroy her. In response, she shoves against the door, this time a good deal less uncertainly. The shock of the impact is surprisingly jarring, and worries him.

"C'mon, Derek, let me in! We've only got four days left to figure out what you're gonna wear!" He knows it's useless to argue this point with her; Casey cannot be plied with reason because Casey is psychotic. Still, he feels he must somehow make it abundantly clear that there is no way he's going to be spending the next four days being Casey's dress-up doll. No way in hell.

"Derek's not here!" He ventures, and then stumbles sideways when she crashes into the door with what he can only assume is some sort of battering ram. Which means that either Casey's managed to enlist some muscle in the form of The Fridge, or his step-sister's freakishness also apparently applies to her strength. Neither prospect is particularly inviting.

Either way, much to Derek's escalating horror, he's beginning to suspect he might actually be losing this contest. And that is a scary thought, indeed.

"De-rek!" She calls, and slams into the door with particularly brutal force. For one wild instant, Derek's flailing helplessly in mid-air, and in the very next, he's smacking the back of his head painfully against the carpet when Casey comes flying through the door and lands on top of him. "Derek!" She cries, this time somewhat more anxiously, possibly even worriedly. She gives him maybe a fraction of a second to dwell on this before she begins thoughtlessly dismantling several of the more important precepts of his universe, whimsically reordering his fundamental cosmology when her body slides along his, smooth and warm and shapely, and it isn't until around minute two of her frenetic "oh, god, oh godohgodoh, god—" chanting that he realizes she'd only flipped his world on its ear so she could have better access to the back of his head, which she is now tenderly cradling in her cool hands.

Uncomfortably, this does essentially nothing to diminish his awareness of her breasts heaving into his chest with every gasping breath she takes.

"Casey." The curtain of her hair makes it impossible for him to look anywhere but at her. He does so with a healthy measure of miserable captivation and gnawing, brain-bleeding dread.

"We should elevate your wound! No, it's a head wound, we should call an ambulance and make sure you don't have a concussion or spinal damage and—"

"Casey," he tries again, and when she continues madly rambling on, wholly undeterred, he slaps a hand over her mouth. "Will you shut up already? It's too early for me to try and pretend I have any idea what you say when you speak."

"But you might have a head injury!" Unthinkingly, he reaches up with his free hand to give her a light, patronizing thump--

"That's nice, Case."

--which would've been good and fine and harmlessly insulting except…except that his hand is on her ass. Which is…different. Although the word his brain would prefer to use is 'horrifying.' Other Parts of him suggest that 'awesome' might be more appropriate.

…except obviously this is the opposite of awesome. Which is, like, 'very, very bad.' (Or, intone those very same Other Parts, 'remarkably, magnificently firm.')

He thinks his brain might be liquefying in his skull.

Casey, meanwhile, has gone all stiff and horrified-looking, so he coolly plays it off by urgently snatching his hand away and staring at the appendage in open revulsion, capping off this rousing performance with an off-handed remark to the effect of how much he's going to miss this hand when he has it amputated.

For one (ingloriously bad) moment, he thinks Casey sees right through him to that dark, scary place in his brain that occasionally suggests he might enjoy these moments; that he may, in fact, exist only for these short-lived –if curiously frequent—opportunities to Accidentally Sexually Harass her, only mucking his way through the rest of this tedious Life Business to throw her (and obviously, everyone else –himself included) off the scent.

But he's willing to wager that if she had seen through to his Depraved-Boy core, she wouldn't then have taken such pains to be so careful crawling off of him, mindful of his (Casey-induced) Brain Trauma, and she definitely wouldn't have been so leisurely about the whole business, inadvertently provocative as she scoots slowly backwards on top of him (oh, sweet, sweet friction), freeing up her legs to stand, and managing to land with her ass firmly, perfectly aligned with his Shame, gifting him with one brief, tantalizing glimpse of what it might look like to have his step-sister On Top—

--but fortunately-thankfully-mercifully, she lifts herself off of him before he casually puts voice to this Very Interesting Scientific Observation and then probably, like, pulls her back down and starts molesting her in earnest.

"I brought you a couple sport coats to try on." She informs him coolly while he sits up and tries to remember that he and Casey share a sibling. Her ass at eye-level isn't helping his memory issues. "I borrowed a couple from Pam's boyfriend –he's about your size, and I had George send the two he had just in case."

"My dad?" He wonders vaguely, slowly picking himself up off of the floor. "I only agreed to this yesterday; how'd they get here so fast—hey." She looks suddenly sheepish, and he hopes he looks sufficiently menacing in his tattered pjs, "I call foul, McDonald. Really, it's as if you knew I'd agree before I did. I feel used." She appraises him guiltily, and he sends her a grinning wink, which nonplusses her. "You're finally learning. Bravo." He likes that she looks appalled. Makes him feel accomplished.

"Ass." She murmurs, huffing. Then, "Now, go put something decent on so we can get started." He almost opens his mouth to begin Round Two of today's argument, but then she's got a hold of his elbow (possibly in anticipation of his Inevitable Procrastination) and in the very next breath, she's leading him down the hall, into his bedroom, absently kicking the door closed, and okay, yeah, he can maybe respectfully hold his tongue for a minute or two.