A/N - This time two years ago, I joined FF, and boy has it been fun. And this is how I celebrate :) One little one shot. Short. And kind of angsty. First time I'm writing this style (no dialogue). I guess it can be considered as canon (except for baby Venturi). Let me know what you think :)

I do not own Life with Derek

...

The thing about university is.. the excitement. The unknown. The place dedicated to higher education. The place where individualism is encouraged, and no one is called a keener (sort of). A place where she is accepted (like private school) and not criticized (like public school). A place where she could be herself and where he.. (it's completely unfair that he is) is considered 'cool' too.

It's also the place where he... touched her back, held her hand, and kissed her cheek.

The ridiculous thing is... it shouldn't matter.


The expectation was simple. They would go about their lives. (Separate/ Individual/ Detached/ Single lives). And when they passed each other on the street (or hallways, or classes, or the occasional dinner places) they would smile, nod their acknowledgment or if they were in a good mood, maybe shout out a 'hi'. That was the plan. And it was simple.

What she didn't expect (and this thought is completely wrong and not to mention surprising) was to have a 'feeling' while enjoying week four. In the middle of Freud and Shaw, she missed him. Really, truly 'wonder what he's currently up to?' missed him. Which is why... she showed up at his apartment.. unannounced... and found him sick.

Derek Venturi has three 'good' friends. Kirk, the lost puppy who believes that Derek's fever will sort itself out with a little pill he calls the 'blue magic', Rad, the skateboarding genius too busy gaming to notice his friend's absence, and Trent, the semi-good looking, underwear model-type ego maniac who tries to lock her out on 'Derek's orders'. Needless to say, they make it onto her 'idiot list', and short of breaking down the door she fights her way through and finds him.. well.. ill.

It's obvious where the story goes from here. She's Florence Nightingale. Helpful, gentle, with healing hands. The truth? She's klutzilla again. She spills the burning hot soup onto his lap. She knocks him on the side of his jaw as she turns away from him, tray in hand. She mistakenly feeds him the expired milk with his cereal because someone (Derek) forgot to throw it out. But he appreciates it. She can see it in his eyes even as he yells at her to get out. Later he calls and apologizes, begging her to come back (Rad and Kirk thought it fun to toss chips at his head). And she did.

He doesn't ask her to leave again.


The thing about education is... she worships it. Treats it like the fountain of knowledge, and she is the Bedouin princess starved for the droplets of worldly thoughts and beliefs. He? Finds them an irritation that he must ignore. In any given circumstance, two such view points can't co-exist. But they do. Sometimes. When they need to.


She somehow injects herself into his life. He rolls his eyes as she kicks out his friends, organizes the living area, buys the groceries and makes him a study chart that he tosses away (she makes a dozen copies that he doesn't know of). She ensures that he gets his notes, and sends him reminders about classes, papers and group studies. She even gifts him eye drops, just in case his eyes get dry from excessive eye rolling.

He doesn't thank her once.

But she does notice from her mild stalking (that is not quite illegal) that he does improve in several elements and even start picking up the rest by himself. She feels just a bit proud. Until he notices her influence and simply stops just to spite her. Then she resorts to an effective method of encouragement, and is happy again with the results. Blackmail. It works like a charm. Who wants their baby pictures circling around University, anyway?


The thing about family is.. there are requirements and obligations. Funny thing is, no one knows that he is 'family' and she doesn't feel an obligation when it comes to him. So, does that make him her annoying brother without the 'step'? (Hint. It doesn't)


He shows up for her play. It's a gut wrenching exhibition of feminism, and she knew he couldn't have survived through it. (Witnesses disagree). It's his 'thank you' for looking after him. The familial obligations rearing its ugly head obstructively in front of the simple expectation of civility. She ignores what Freud would read into this.

He surprises her a second time by offering to take her out for dinner, after. The cast was supposed to meet, but she dumps them for Derek. Her excuses lie somewhere between familial obligation and wanting to get the right revenge for when he hit on her co-star. They argue as they head towards the car. They argue on the way to the restaurant. They argue over the menu, over drinks (he couldn't understand how one could celebrate without liquor), over memories, over schemes, over their siblings, until finally they notice the waiter cowering in fear at the very thought of presenting the bill. He smirks, she smiles. And she realizes, she misses this.

As he leads her out, his hand lightly on her back, his warm breath against her ear, she feels the first signs of butterflies in her stomach. She ignores the shiver that courses through her as his hand travels slowly along her lower back. She also ignores how his grip tightens as they pass the waiter with the appreciative glance. But what she doesn't ignore? How he refuses to give his jacket to her when she's freezing from the night air, all along blaming it on the rules of equality.


The thing about spending ones' time is...it should be productive. Guitar hero and vile snack games are not ample ways to spend a person's time when they could improve their skills so as to be a beneficial member of ones' society. 'Stalking Casey' is also not a great time consuming activity.


The first time he brings her coffee, for one of their bi-weekly (completely by accident) meetings, she sniffs it and eyes it in suspicion. She would have poured the contents into a mini plant just to check for poison, if she weren't such a nature lover. She's pleasantly surprised when the drink does nothing to her intestines, and they have a relatively incident free afternoon.

The second time he brings coffee, it tastes a bit different. She sips it down anyway, ignoring 'Step 4' and 'Step 5' of Casey McDonald's Fool Proof Plan To Detect What Derek Venturi Is Up To - Plan.

The third time he brings coffee, she skips 'Step 3', the fourth time, 'Step 2', the fifth time...she lifts her head and asks him exactly why she's had a different coffee every time and he just shrugs.

She later finds out that he's been using her as a guinea pig to try new 'versions' of coffee concocted by Rad's brother who had a 'Fool Proof Idea' on how to market the stuff. Derek promised to be an investor if it wasn't lethal.

She promises not to poison his food if he promises not to bring that stuff back to her. He does (reluctantly).


The thing about time is...it passes. The speed in which it goes depends on whether a person is happy or not. She's not sure if she believes in that philosophy when time seems to pass quickly at the most unexpected moments.


Before long, it's been a year, and she has had dinner with him close to forty eight times (they've actually met way more than that, but he prefers calling it a mistake rather than an intention to spend time together).

Generally she would meet him at his apartment and do her work there, and not the library, ensuring that Derek would complete his assignments in front of her. Kind of like a tutor but with dictatorship tendencies. He stops complaining after the fifteenth evening.

Then, she would cook dinner in an effort to introduce non-poisonous non-artificial flavoured food groups into his system. After she stops making tofu and salads for dinner, he stops complaining about that too.

Yet, when they call their parents every Friday (as dictated by George and the contracts he made them sign before they left), they act like the old Casey and Derek who can't stand to even be on conference call together. It's an unspoken agreement the no one should know that they had become pseudo friends by total accident. It's difficult to explain it to themselves without having to add other people into the situation. Other people who would probably check for a virus that changed their mental thoughts and decisions drastically.

The way she sees it, if he won't bring it up, she won't either.


The thing about friends is... if they are true friends, they would get it. Just get it. And the ones at University, don't.


It becomes a thing. This whole we-are-just-friends (enemies) and nothing more, and yet, people don't believe it. They consider her, off the market just because she hangs out at Derek's apartment, cooks for him and makes him study. Which is totally insensitive, considering she's still looking for Mr. Right, her soul mate who would agree to marry her and be sensitive enough to get an upstairs apartment in their gorgeous new house so that Derek could live there for the rest of his play boy life. It's completely wrong what they say about her. And no matter what she says, they don't listen.

So, she stops. She stops going over to his place. She stops feeding him (even though the very idea of him eating chips makes her cringe). She stops sending him texts, emails, study charts that he tosses out once a week. She hopes that everyone gets the hint. And they do.

That is, until Derek completely ignores the hint that she has been broadcasting painstakingly for so long, and appears at her apartment which she shares with three other girls, and refuses to leave. And she's forced to go back to his place (dragging him by his sleeve) to get him out of her place by her roommates' insistent requests. She has no choice. She goes back to bugging him, cooking for him, and forcing him to finish his assignments. And everyone else goes back to believing that they are a thing.

And she? She gives up.


The thing about unexpected moments is...she's sort of used to them now. There are very little things that could surprise her, and even if they do, she can always shrug it off easily. Some may call it a Venturi curse. But sometimes... she can't.


It was a Tuesday. She had just found out that Emma (her roommate of nearly two years) requires surgery for a car accident that no one saw coming. They stayed outside the operating room until the parents came, and sat together while waiting for the results of the unexpected procedure. It was way past the usual time when she goes over to Derek's, when he turned the corner and came with three coffees in hand. One for her, one for Meagan, and one for Cindy. They were thanking him profusely, while she stayed silent. His behaviour adding to the shock of the evening.

Silently, he sat next to her, his stance radiating comfort that she didn't feel a moment ago. Then, without glancing at her he took her free hand in his and laced his fingers through hers. He didn't say anything comforting, or crack mild jokes, or offer to help in anyway. He just sat beside her in silence while they waited. And it was anything and everything that she could ask for.

She thanks him by lightly squeezing his fingers. He says 'you're welcome' by squeezing back. But they never spoke of it.


The thing about happiness is...she always feels it. Anything can make her happy. It can be the most basic thing that happens everyday, but that would be enough. As for the things that never happen everyday, they are even more special.


He comes for all her plays. He starts off by saying he wishes to see how awful she looks under stage lights. Then he moves onto saying how he wants to see how many people he could encourage to walk out during the performance. Then, he makes the witty move of telling her how he expects to shoot spit balls at her during the performance, which makes her shoot a suspecting look every now and then towards the audience. Needless to say, he ruins her performance and gets the silent treatment as they walk back to her apartment.

He keeps talking jovially, a skip in his step, his feeling of elation obvious in having gotten to her. She huffs and marches on, determined to ignore him.

At her apartment door, he grabs her shoulders, congratulates on her on a job well ruined, and kisses her cheek. She stops breathing for a moment, her eyes widening in disbelief. He smirks, and leaves. Leaving her in awe of that tiny flip flopping feeling in her stomach that she doesn't recognize at that moment.

The next day, it hits her. Happiness.


The thing about her step-brother is...he likes surprising her. His whole job in life is to irritate, belittle, annoy, anger and disturb her. If he does something nice, it's probably a rouse to distract her for when he actually irritates, belittles, annoys, angers or disturbs her. She's used to it by now.


It was Saturday and it was raining. She remembers the day because he was supposed to pick her up since her car was in the shop. But he got late, and she didn't have an umbrella. There was no shelter, and she ended up standing in the rain, getting drenched and cursing him to oblivion. When he finally shows up and opens the door with a sheepish grin, she's livid. She starts small, listing everything he does wrong. Then, she lists everything he has ever done for selfish reasons. Then she lists the only five things he cares about that doesn't even cover half of their family. She was just about to say 'ruining her life' just after saying 'seeing her suffer' when he kissed her. It was short, forceful, and left her breathless. She was about to protest, when he kisses her again. It was longer this time, and her protests threatened to boil over. But just as she opens her mouth to tell him exactly what she thinks, he kisses her again. And this time, he doesn't stop.

She's supposed to push him away, shove him, slap him, and maybe blow her rape whistle. Instead, she kisses him back furiously. His fingers tangle in her wet hair, and he pulls her so close she's practically in his lap. There is this moment when he finally lets her breath and his lips continues their onslaught against her throat, focusing on the pulse that races madly under his attention, and she finally panics. She pushes him away and stares at him in wonder. He does the same, his fingers stopping at the fourth button of her top. Then, she's off him, she pushes the door open, and leaves. She forgets her handbag, and her appointment. She forgets it's raining and she has no way home. And she completely ignores the car following her as she walks away slowly, direction definitely not even remotely on her mind.

She makes it to her apartment fifteen minutes later, and she's sure that she's going to get a high fever and forget this ordeal ever happened. She's at the door when he scrambles out of the car to hand her the handbag, and she grabs it from him without another glance. He doesn't say a word as she closes the door after her.


The thing about panic is...she suffers from it on a daily basis. But when something big happens... really, really big, hyperventilation is just not enough.


Her roommates keep calling her a zombie, which she doesn't get considering she has a pulse and is part of the world of the living. Nothing seems to get to her, since nothing can top what happened...that day. She pretends to be busy, and stops her conference calls to her family. But she does make sure to call them separately and away from her step-brother. Her friends get worried and call the one person they think could help. Derek.

When he shows up, she calmly stands up and walks slowly towards her bedroom to reduce suspicion. But he notices. He stops her by grabbing her arm, which her eyes can't stop from going to. He asks the roommates to leave, and they do. Then, he looks at her silently.

A few moments pass, she keeps looking at his hand around her arm, and he keeps looking at her. When she finally looks at him, his hair mussed, the normal smirk, missing, she thinks this thing inside her hurts more physically than anything ever could. With a hiccup, she cries, burying her head against him, and fisting her hands against his jacket. And the kicker is...he lets her.

That night, he stayed over and the roommates didn't complain. When he left, he kissed her lightly on the cheek and left.


The thing about life changing moments is...sometimes she sees them, and sometimes she doesn't. And sometimes, she wonders how she survived before it.


He takes her out for their bi-weekly meetings and she calls them dates. He snorts and calls them mistakes that will be cured once he goes for an MRI scan and figures out what's wrong with him. Sometimes, he buys her coffee, and sometimes, she buys for herself. His chivalry goes off and on depending on his good mood, and she gets used to not expecting it.

It takes their third bi-weekly date for him to kiss her. Their fourth bi-weekly date for her to kiss back. And their fifth bi-weekly date for him to proposition sex and for her to punch his arm and refuse to talk to him for the rest of the semester. It takes their twenty sixth bi-weekly date (he counted, she planned it) for him to finally get her in bed. Considering he promised to care for and cherish her forever (under duress) she thinks it's a battle won. After all, she promised to cook and look over his work forever. She wasn't going to do that for free. Even though 'forever' was looked upon more as a week by week basis rather than an eternity sort of thing.


The thing about a parent is...they don't like hearing good news. They want the best for their child and hope that they've given everything needed to get the best. Anything less is always unacceptable.


She tells him that she wants to keep this thing they are part of (the word 'relationship' is banned) a secret from the fam, and he agrees. On the first weekend back during holidays, he hugs his father, her mother, then announces that his step-sister will be staying in his room since they are now together. There's a moment of shock, then followed by a moment of laughter, then, utter speechlessness. She would have punched him had she not joined in the craziness.

There's a discussion, a vote, and everyone agrees that this is not nearly as crazy as incest (Marti made an impassioned speech 'For' this thing between Derek and Casey), and life continues nearly as normal.

Still, she sleeps in her room that night and locks the door so Derek can't enter (and George sleeps soundly with that thought happily in his head), and writes a hefty email to him to explain why she was denying him intercourse that night.

Derek never surprised her again. For two full days after.


The thing about them is...they go by Derek and Casey (or Casey and Derek if they are going alphabetically). They don't talk about what they are or for how long they're doing it (she tries, he ignores her), they go for movies and argue over what they've seen, they go out for dinner, and he admits he likes her cooking way better, and he occasionally (always) drops her off whenever he can.

The way she sees it, he needs her influence in his life. And maybe, her life will be just too boring without him. Although, she promises herself never to tell him that.

The End.

A/N 2- So...um...what do you think?