Derek and Danielle

Chapter Fifty-Two

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

As well, this work of fiction depicts sexual activities between teenagers, siblings and otherwise. As such it may be illegal to view this story where you live, and you should cease reading at this point if that is the case.

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Rick, Derek and Danielle took up one couch in the living room (Derek was in the middle), while his parents took the other one perpendicular to theirs. Rick's father was pacing the floor with quick steps.

The two boys had just gotten done recounting the events, leading to the present tense atmosphere. Derek noticed his mother's jaw was firmly set, and his father's expression was stony. He couldn't help but feel like he'd done something wrong.

Danielle's knee bobbed up and down as she nervously looked around the room. Finally, Rick's father broke the logjam as he stopped pacing, whirled to face Rick, and blurted, "Damn it, Rick, if you'd just—"

"What?" Rick yelled. "Just what, Dad? Huh?!" He glared at his father.

"You could've done things differently. You know you could. This – this Randy Bowman kid, whoever he is, wouldn't be hassling you right now, for one thing."

"That's not fair, Dad," Rick choked out. "Bowman would've been a jerk any which way you cut it."

Derek's father spoke up. "I think, Frank, that we should cut the kids some slack. Blaming Rick or Derek for problems other people have with them isn't productive."

Rick hung his head, even so. "Dad told me he wasn't crazy about this," he muttered to the floor.

Derek put his hand on Rick's knee for a moment and pushed himself closer, putting his shoulder next to Rick's. "Look, Rick, we got away. Nobody got hurt, and you had to come out sometime, right?"

"This time," Frank said harshly. "What about next time? What happens when Derek isn't superhumanly fast and gets put in the hospital? That's your kid, Samuel. And God help me if I lose Rick!" He swallowed and looked at Rick as he carefully approached, kneeling near the couch. "Rick, son, what if this Randy permanently hurts you, or even kills you?"

Rick whispered, "Dad—"

"I'm sorry. I haven't done this real well, have I?" Mr. Harlan reached out. "I just – I was trying to keep you safe the way I thought I knew how."

Rick leaned forward, gripping his dad for all he was worth as he sniffled a little bit. Father and son embraced for several moments, then slowly drew apart. Rick's dad stood up, grasped Rick's shoulder, and stood up nearby.

Derek's mom leaned forward, her elbows on her knees as she clasped her hands under her chin. "Derek, I've waited until Frank got his outburst out of the way to say this. I'm happy you're home safe and sound, and unharmed. But Derek, don't you see how foolish it was of you to go into a school bathroom when there might be nobody else around to save you?"

Derek couldn't look his mom in the eye. He slumped back on the couch and stared at his feet. His mom was right. He'd been stupid. "'M sorry, Mom."

"Oh, sweetie, I just... it's like Frank said. It would just destroy me to find out some bigoted jerk beat you to death, or left you permanently paralyzed. I just—" She broke off, clutching Dad's hand for support as he spoke up.

"Derek, Rick – I think you understand now that we're not mad at you for being who you are. We're also not mad at you for having to deal with a jerk of a kid in school. We're worried, and it's not always coming out well." Derek's father sighed. "Now. Let's think. Honey, I'm thinking you or I should go with the kids tomorrow to school and ask to speak to the Principal. And Frank, you should bring Rick and do the same thing. We can't have this young man going around threatening two people who've never done anything to him."

"Make that three," Danielle weakly joked.

"Why?" Dad frowned.

"I might've kind of threatened to kick him in the... um, the balls." Danielle flushed.

Chuckles went around the room in relieved amusement at Danielle's stout defence of her brother and boyfriend.

"All right." Samuel slapped the arm of the couch. "There's really nothing more we can do tonight, except maybe find out if other parents would be willing to join us. But unless this Randy Bowman has threatened or harassed anyone else, I don't expect much." He took a deep breath. "Frank, you and Rick are invited to supper. We'll order a pizza. How's that?"

Murmurs of agreement went around the room, and three relieved teenagers endured hugs from their respective concerned parent or parents, and then were released to the upstairs while the pizza was ordered.

Derek sprawled on his bed in his room, with Danielle taking his chair. Rick sat on the floor, his back up against the box spring and mattress. Derek idly ran his hand through Rick's hair. Danielle was already working up a storm on her cell phone.

"Listen, Tiff, you totally need to hear this, okay? That shithead Bowman attacked my brother, all right? ... Yes, he totally did! If you date him you can forget about being BFFs with me, 'cause that shit is not on ... Good, and tell him for me he could be the last person on Earth and I still wouldn't fuck him."

Derek heard high-pitched laughing through Danielle's receiver before she ended the call. Rick remarked, "So that makes, what, six girls in twenty minutes?"

"Which is gonna make, like, a hundred girls in a couple of hours. Gossip moves faster than the speed of light. Or boys." Danielle stuck her tongue out jokingly.

"Not fair, Dani." Derek mock-pouted, prompting a grin and a middle finger from his sister. She stretched, and he tried not to stare at her boobs.

Further conversation was halted by calls down to dinner. The table was a bit crowded, so Danielle and Rick were seated on either side of Derek. To Derek's mixed alarm and amusement, both pressed their knees against his left and right knees respectively, completely unaware that the other was telegraphing their feelings for him. When the adults failed to notice, Derek relaxed and continued eating.

As he began finishing his pizza slice, Derek Collins was just happy to be eating some delicious food, surrounded by people who cared about him and wanted him to be safe. The rest was details.

Soon, though, Rick had to leave. Derek hugged Rick at the front door, and heedless of anyone else, lightly kissed Rick. He whispered, "Be safe, okay?" into Rick's ear.

"Same to you, Der. Same to you, man," Rick muttered in his ear as he squeezed Derek one final time before releasing him from the hug and clapping him on the shoulder.

As the front door closed, Samuel clapped his hands quickly for attention.

"Given the scare we've had today, I want you both to have your mom's or my number on speed-dial if you haven't done that already. Just because this time it was you, Derek, doesn't mean it couldn't be Danielle in the future." Derek's father reached out, and embraced both his children. "Derek, you've already learned firsthand not everybody's going to have the best of intentions. But Danielle, sweetie, one day, you might end up in a threatening situation too. Your mom and I would never forgive ourselves if we let either of you get hurt." He squeezed Derek lightly, then dropped a kiss to Derek's forehead. Derek automatically wrinkled his nose and whined, "Dad."

"Too late, son." His father briefly pecked Danielle's forehead too, then let out a sigh. "Okay, kids. You might as well do whatever you like. Danielle, you've got V-ball coming up this weekend and Derek, after what happened today I'm not going to ask if you're going to do your homework. Under the circumstances..."

Derek nodded. His mother came up to embrace him, and said, "This might seem like we're just repeating ourselves, but I don't care if I'm in the middle of a meeting. This isn't you sick at home getting over the flu. This is you maybe in danger. So if you think you need me, you call."

Derek muttered, "Yes," as his mother released him.

Finally, the kids were left to their own devices. Danielle tugged at Derek's arm, pulling him into her room. She closed the door, and launched herself at him, kissing him on the mouth. After a few moments, Danielle broke the kiss and grabbed Derek's shoulders. "Of all the crazy things to do, you go to the bathroom after school without even texting me or Rick to let us know? Jesus, what if Randy'd put you in the hospital?!"

Danielle's eyes were wide, and she seemed torn between wanting to hug him for all she was worth, or giving him a giant slap across the face for being a dumbass.

"I'm safe, Dani. That's what matters in the end, okay?" He reached out and lightly held her hips. Danielle nodded, blinking rapidly. "Look, I'm sorry I scared you."

Danielle sighed and let her head fall to Derek's shoulder. Derek reached up and rubbed her back, rubbing in even strokes as he tried to reassure his sister. "C'mon, let's just cuddle and watch TV or something. I'm sure Mom and Dad won't think anything of it."

"Mmkay." The siblings grabbed a blanket from the closet at the end of the hall, and in the upstairs TV/gaming room, they watched the Ellen talk show, Derek's arm around Danielle's shoulders, her head lightly leaning against his as they laughed at some of the cornier guests. Under the blanket, Derek reached for Danielle's free hand, and locked fingers with her.

At some point, he fell asleep exactly in that pose, holding his sister while she held him, two siblings trying to keep each other safe in a world suddenly tilted off-kilter.

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