Derek and Danielle

Chapter Twenty-Five

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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Luckily for Derek, rumors in high school tended to be flashes in the pan, and the drama was further cut short when the object of Sara's original affections, Jason Rawstron the quarterback, had a rather public argument with a girl after school – obviously, one he'd recently banged.

As Danielle put it to Derek the next day at lunch, "So Sara, who's been paying attention to Jason again, saw the cheerleader – that's Kayla, I think she said? – run up to him before he could leave out the side doors. When they started arguing, that's when Sara and some other people got closer to hear better. Anyway, drama happened. He, naturally, isn't very happy. Sara's very happy."

Rick, who was sitting on Derek's other side, coughed, then managed to swallow his Coke. Derek pressed his lips together to keep from chuckling at Danielle's last couple of sentences. Rick leaned over and said, "Okay. Why's Sara happy?"

Danielle smiled, then said, "One sec." She fished a small hair elastic out of her purse, then quickly did her hair up into a ponytail. "There, now my hair's not gonna get into my lunch. I think I need a haircut soon.

"Anyway, she's happy because Kayla's a ditz. But Jason'll still be mad at her, so it's her chance to move in."

Derek reluctantly admitted, "She probably could. I mean, Randy was practically undressing her with his eyes the other day."

"Bowman? Are you serious?" Rick asked.

Derek nodded. Rick whistled. Randy Bowman was pretty hot, and so was Jason. Either of the pairing involved would make a cute couple.

Danielle looked around quickly, then quickly nudged Derek's knee with her own. Shocked, Derek looked up from his plate and looked at Danielle. She winked at him, and Derek twirled his finger by the side of his head in response. She rolled her eyes good-naturedly and went back to her sandwich. Meanwhile, Derek, trying to calm down, half-heartedly munched on his pizza slice.

Derek noticed Rick's leg starting to bounce. Rick usually wasn't nervous, and maybe he was just doing it unconsciously. He looked down at Rick's plate and noticed, oddly, that Rick's plate still had the salad on it. Frowning, Derek said, "Hey, you ordered the one good salad they had and you're not eating it."

Rick quickly glanced at Danielle, then frowned at Derek. "Why do you care?"

Derek shrugged. "Okay, whatever. You're not hungry." He went back to finishing off his pizza, drinking from his water bottle occasionally.

At that point, Rick seemed to come to a decision. He said, "Derek, move back a bit, wouldya? I wanna talk to Danielle."

When she heard her name, Danielle looked up at Rick; she was in the middle of chewing her sandwich, so she gestured at him to continue as she hurriedly tried to swallow it.

Rick said in a low voice under the dull roar of people babbling to each other, "I gotta tell you something."

Danielle, by now free to talk, made a 'so what?' gesture. "Rick, if this is about you being gay and like, going out with my brother here, relax. I don't mind."

Rick's jaw dropped, as did Derek's. Weakly, Derek said, "Um, me and Rick didn't plan this, okay?" Rick was speechless, trying to recover his footing.

Danielle nudged Derek's shoulder. "Whatever. You're still the same annoying brother who likes to hog the Wii single-player games." She leaned over in Rick's direction and said, "Look, Rick, if you're going to fool me when we're dancing? Be more interested in my big tits. Everybody else stares when they think I'm not looking."

Derek couldn't help it. He began giggling, graduating to full-throated chuckles as he leaned on Rick's shoulder, while Rick was grinning uncertainly, as though being around the Collins siblings was affecting his mental health.

Danielle smirked at the boys, then daintily finished off her sandwich, drank off her orange juice, and got up from the table. She leaned over her tray and said, "Also, Rick? Glancing at my brother here every couple of minutes when you're dancing with me is also kind of a giveaway." She then pointed at Rick and said, "Treat him right, okay?" She clapped Derek's shoulder and leaned in close. "And you treat your boy right, huh? I still know all the embarrassing stories to tell, okay?"

Derek stuck his tongue out at Danielle, prompting her to jokingly give him the finger before she disappeared from their table.

Rick, a little stunned by Danielle's casual acceptance and statements, breathed, "Wow."

Derek nodded. "I live with her, and I still can't get over how matter-of-fact she can be sometimes."

"I pity the guy who ever tries to marry her," Rick said. "He's not gonna know what hit him."

Derek smiled uneasily, knowing what Rick proposed could never happen between him and his sister.

After track practice ended, the sweaty, exhausted and somewhat muddy team was back in the change room.

Coach Hedrick barked, "All right, boys. You've got the meet coming up on Saturday against Foster Senior. Now I know some of you came from the same middle school that feeds both this school and theirs, but remember: on that oval track out there, they are not your friends. Got it?"

"YEAH!" chorused the team.

"Stay in that frame of mind. We've got three more days until the intramural track meet, then nothing 'till February when it'll warm back up and the meets start happening in earnest. But on Saturday, you're gonna pull out all the stops and prove that our school, Rudolf Senior, has the best damn track team in this town!"

It was Derek's first close-up exposure to the semi-serious traditional rivalry between the two senior secondary schools in their town. The football team was also gearing up for a game in mid-November, set for the week before Thanksgiving weekend.

As Derek went to his locker and began changing out of his track uniform, Rick tapped his shoulder. He said quietly, "Wanna hook up with Evan after the meet? We can get on chat and put it all together."

"If he wants to. Depending on which of us wins he could be bummed out after," Derek pointed out.

Rick shrugged. "I'm gonna hit the showers." He quickly whipped a towel around himself as he changed out of his shorts.

Out the corner of his eye as he finished changing, Derek watched in some surprise as Rick casually entered the showers, hung his towel up out of the way of the water over one of the stall partitions which went up about six feet or so, then went into the actual shower stall.

Well, he thought, if Rick could do it without being worried he'd get the wrong kind of attention from the track team, so can I.

Derek, by coincidence, had managed to get the stall next to Rick's, and when he realized he had forgotten his soap at his locker, he knocked quietly against the partition in a code they'd worked on some time before if Derek ever wanted to knock on Rick's window to wake him up without Rick's dad finding out. (Rick couldn't do the same for Derek, being as Derek's room was on an upper floor) Meanwhile, he turned on the water taps and let the warm water fall onto him.

Shortly after, a bar of soap scooted under the six-inch gap between the floor and the bottom of the partition, and Derek was able to clean himself up, thanks to Rick having remembered to bring his plastic soap container with him. When he finished, he kicked the soap bar back over, did a quick final rinse-off, and then shut the water off and began drying himself with the towel, then wrapped it around his waist as he left his stall.

Randy Bowman was leaving the stall opposite. He grinned and punched Derek's shoulder. Randy was pushing almost six feet in height, and was fifteen years old. He had the lean build of a runner, but as his punch showed, could still respectably make his strength known.

Randy's eyebrows went up. "Been working out?"

Derek nodded. "When we're not having practice."

"Cool. What do you weigh now? One thirty? One thirty-five, something like that?"

Derek shrugged. "Around there. The scale isn't super-accurate in the weight room; it's the older kind, you know, where you slide the weights?"

Randy rolled his eyes. "Shit, yeah. Hey. About yesterday, I was just giving you a hard time, all right?"

"Whatever," replied Derek. "Just don't tell me what you and Sara get up to."

Randy laughed. "No sweat. Anyway, look, take the weightlifting easy this week. Last year I pushed it a little too hard and my shoulder ached a bit going into a meet."

Rick, his towel wrapped around himself, came up to Randy and said, "How come I never see you work out here?"

"My old man bought a weight set. So I just do it at home now," replied Randy.

"C'mon, buddy. We gotta get ready to go home," Rick said to Derek.

The boys nodded at Randy and went back to their lockers, dressing in their normal school clothes and then grousing about forgetting their combs as they shared Derek's small mirror, trying to tame their hair with their hands.

"Fuck it," said Rick finally. "Let's go." He slammed his locker door shut, followed shortly by Derek.

Luckily, Derek had prearranged with his mother to get picked up after practice, and as he and Rick walked through the school's deserted hallways, he said, "Wanna ride?"

Rick got a devilish smirk on his face and said, "Which kind?"

Derek laughed. "Oh, you asshole!" He shoved Rick against the lockers, prompting Rick to begin running after him. Just as Derek rounded a corner into the hallway near his school locker, he was slammed into the wall, knocking the breath out of him.

Rick had him pinned; he said into Derek's ear, "Asshole, huh? More like I bet you want to fuck it."

"Geez, Rick!" Derek irritably shoved Rick back and stalked to his locker. "What is it with you all of a sudden?"

"Shit, sorry, man. I just thought I'd be funny," Rick moaned.

Derek stopped, looked in his locker, then sighed. "Sorry. I'm just… whatever. Nerves." He grabbed his backpack, made sure he had what he needed, then locked up.

Rick quickly got his books out of his locker, then as he shut the door and locked it back up, he joined Derek on the way to the front doors.

At the door, Rick said, "You want to come over for a bit or anything?"

When Derek didn't respond, Rick bit his lip suggestively. "Relieve a little tension?"

"Maybe. I dunno. I'll call you after supper, okay?"

"All right. C'mon, I see your mom's just pulled up."

Derek didn't get a chance to get Danielle alone until after supper. Conversation around the table had been pretty boring: Derek reported he was 'getting along fine' without a girlfriend, and Danielle had made the appropriate noises about maybe someday dating Rick.

In Danielle's room, as she sat down at her desk to start her homework, Derek sat on her bed and said, "Hey. Can we talk for a sec?"

"Sure. Look, is this about what happened at lunch? I did keep my voice down, you know." In a martyred tone, Danielle said, "But geez, I mean, I know you told me about Rick already, but come on. He is so obviously not interested in girls."

Derek said in a low voice, "He really didn't stare?"

Danielle laughed. "Look who's checking out my boobs right now." Derek blushed and looked up at her eyes. "Seriously, though, he didn't. I mean, he maybe looked once but it was just like 'Oh, squishy things.' Not like, 'Oh, hey, how soon can I feel them up?'"

"Yeah, I'd say that's a giveaway. So you decided to save him the trouble?"

Danielle shrugged. "Why not?" She bit her lip. She said, softly, "But are you okay with it? Look, I was probably out of line."

Derek waved it off. "Forget it, Dani. It's over. Listen, I wanted to ask if you wanted to go to a movie tomorrow. Just you and me."

Danielle breathed in sharply and looked Derek in the eyes. Slowly, she whispered, "As in, like, a date?"

Derek nodded. "We could – you know, go to one of the big theaters, not too many chances we'd bump into anyone we know." Derek licked his lips and leaned in closer. "We could go into the back row. Right? And I could wear a hat or something so we don't look too similar."

"Oh my god," Danielle said shakily. Her jaw quivered as she reached out with a trembling hand. "Are you fucking serious?"

Derek, by now equally nervous, reached out for Danielle's hand. "I think we can make it work. It's a totally just off the wall idea, but—" He wondered if maybe he should just call the whole thing off.

Danielle gulped. Her grip on Derek's hand strengthened. "Let's do it. At least, let's just go to that movie together; I mean, it's not obviously date-like, is it?"

"Only if we want it to look like one. But we'll know it. Like, mentally, right?"

Danielle smiled wanly. "You wanna ditch class and hit the matinee, or do you wanna go at night?"

"Night. If Coach catches me cutting class I could get benched."

"Shit, the meet." Excitedly, Danielle said, "Hey. I can go and perv on you and nobody'll notice."

Derek chuckled and released Danielle's hand. "Thanks for the compliment on my legs. But I better go, you know."

Danielle nodded. "Okay. Hit me up online and we'll figure out the movie, okay?"

Derek mock-saluted, then left Danielle's room.

The ding in Derek's ears told him Rick and Evan were online. He'd plugged his earphones into his laptop as he sat at his desk, doing homework. He put his pen and his math problems aside, and pulled his laptop closer.

DCtheGrey: Hey, guys!

EvanTheBold: 'sup?

RickRolled: Evan? You know me and Der are gonna kick your ass Saturday, right?

EvanTheBold: Gotta catch me first, fuckers!

DCtheGrey: OK, if you assholes can quit bumping chests for a sec, can we all hang out after the track meet, win or lose?

RickRolled: Yeah, we can grab supper or something.

EvanTheBold: Can I bring my girlfriend? Or do you want guys only?

DCtheGrey: IDC.

RickRolled: Yeah, IDGAF. On the other hand, Evan, with her, you do. ;)

EvanTheBold: Ha, ha. See how many I don't give for your insinuations.

The conversation continued in that vein for some time, the boys alternately insulting each other good-naturedly as they hammered out plans to meet up with Evan and Katie.

Then Derek remembered the movie, and quickly checked movie listings online. He spotted a couple he might like, then closed out his other IM client and opened the special one he used only for Danielle.

The message popped up shortly after:

daniqueen: Hey! So, you figure out the movies?

kingderek: Yeah. Sure did. Here's the links.

He copy-pasted the two URLs, then sent it. After a minute, Danielle responded.

daniqueen: I like the second one, I think. Seems like it'd be funny, rather than sad.

kingderek: Okay. It's a date. As in a *date* date. :P

daniqueen: Shit. Now I'm getting nervous. What if someone sees us?

kingderek: Dani, I *promise* nothing will happen. We'll be in the back row, I'll have, like, a hat on or I'll wear a hoodie, and you can tie your hair into a bun or something and you can wear a hat too. Please? Can we do this?

Derek stared at the screen as Danielle's response didn't come right away. He began tapping his desk nervously.

daniqueen: For you, Derek… all right. We'll go.

Derek sighed in relief.

kingderek: Thanks, sweetie. ;)

daniqueen: *Sweetie*? LOL. Whatever. I love you, you know.

kingderek: Me too. *smooch*?

daniqueen: *smooch*. And hey, next time you kiss a girl (me, hopefully)? Make sure you watch out for lipstick. I usually don't wear any, but I caught a couple times you and Sara had kissed.

Shit, Derek realized. He'd almost forgotten Sara giggling, licking her thumb to rub the lipstick off his mouth before she let him go anywhere from their make-out sessions.

kingderek: Good advice, sis. See you later?

daniqueen: Yeah, later.

* daniqueen is now offline

Derek looked back at his math homework, and boredom returned as he solved the problems, writing them on the looseleaf paper.

The next day after school, Danielle nervously waited with Derek in the living room, the talking head on television repeating nonsense into their ears. Danielle kept looking every minute to the rear door, finally forcing Derek to grab her arm and pull her down on the couch. "Danielle! If you don't settle down our parents are gonna know something's up when you ask them if we can go to the movies."

Danielle ran her hand through her hair. "Maybe you'd better ask them. It's just – if we're both going, it makes sense for both of us to ask Mom and Dad. Okay?"

Derek sighed and leaned back. "Whatever. Just calm down, already."

At that moment, their parents walked into the house. "Hey, kids! Watching the news?"

Derek muted the TV, trying to pull attention off Danielle, who had stood up ramrod straight, her hand uneasily tracing lines on the back of the couch. "Yeah." He stood up and said, "Hey, dad? Could Danielle and I go check out that new comedy? You know, uh—"

Samuel snapped his fingers. "I know the one you're talking about. Your mother and I actually saw it a few days ago with… er, the consultant. I don't see why not." He called after his wife. "Honey?"

From the kitchen, they heard, "Yes, I heard, Sam. The kids can go if they come straight back after the movie ends. It's a school night and I know there's that track meet coming up. And I think Danielle has volleyball practice in the morning, too."

She had flinched when her name was mentioned, but Danielle didn't hesitate when she yelled, "Yeah, Mom, I do; Coach Lambert's gonna split it up though. An hour before classes and an hour after."

"That's fine, sweetie." Rachel re-entered the living room and handed Derek and Danielle some money. "Supper will be ready in an hour, kids. Sam, I need your help chopping the vegetables. Oh, and kids – I might need you later to mix a couple of things. Don't get too wrapped up in any games."

The siblings nodded, and Danielle escaped upstairs while Derek sat back down in the living room and changed the channel to watch the History channel. For once, the documentary wasn't about World War II, which alone made it interesting enough to Derek.

At supper, Danielle looked at Derek. "Did my eyes fool me, or did the Hitler channel finally get with the program and discuss history?"

Derek laughed, joined by his parents. "Yeah. This one was about Abraham Lincoln, actually. You know, the Civil War and all that."

"Huh," said Danielle, impressed.

Supper this time was a pork roast and some vegetables. Derek began chewing on the pork, and lifted his eyebrows. "Pretty good! Thanks, Mom and Dad."

Samuel chuckled. "Your mom did most of the cooking. I just helped a bit."

"Well, you can do it all come Mother's Day and serve me breakfast in bed," Rachel declared with a wave of her hand. To the twins, she said, "Actually, your father's cooking is pretty good. You may not have noticed, but some of the meals you've been eating lately have been his handiwork, not mine."

She pointed. "Derek, you need to learn how to cook a decent meal for yourself. It isn't 1950 anymore, and you can't just assume whoever you're going to marry has the necessary skills to make you anything. And Danielle, while you may be a girl, you could be living by yourself and you will need to also know how to cook.

"If your father can learn how to cook, there is no excuse for you kids not to start learning. So this Sunday coming up, you two are going to cook lunch for the four of us."

Derek and Danielle looked at each other in uneasy surprise. "Are you sure, Mom?" asked Danielle. Derek agreed; he thought his mother had a pretty overoptimistic view of his skills in the kitchen.

Rachel beamed. "Positive. Oh, I'll come into the kitchen and make sure you aren't going to burn the house down, but the menu and cooking is up to you, pretty much. Oh, and that means more than just a can of soup."

"No pressure," mumbled Derek as he stuck his fork in the cooked carrots.

"Yeah, Mom," grumbled Danielle.

Samuel ponderously said, "Part of growing up, kids. You won't be fourteen forever."

Derek ruefully admitted to himself that his dad was right. And on the bright side, he realized, eventually he and Danielle might be able to get a place of their own. Vague thoughts of him and Danielle being "domestic" together ran through his mind.

The fact that their parents had gladly dropped them off at the biggest theater in town hadn't made the funny feeling in Derek's stomach go away. Danielle had managed to keep a pretty stoic façade in front of their parents as they drove down the streets, but now, in line at the ticket booth, she kept occasionally chewing her thumbnail. She was wearing her black winter coat, and a black felt hat to go with it, though she'd decided against putting her hair up.

Derek, for his part, was wearing his usual winter coat, but had also put on a grey hoodie. Even so, he kept occasionally checking to see if anyone he knew was around. He thought sourly, even an apparently brother-sister outing still makes me fucking nervous.

Shortly after, the two of them were up at the ticket booth; they paid, then went through the usual routine of having the ushers rip off part of the ticket, then go up the escalator to buy their snacks. Both siblings found themselves checking every so often to make sure nobody they knew was around.

Derek murmured to Danielle, "Popcorn?"

"Sure. Get the small bag though. These prices fucking suck. And one drink - we can share it."

Once Derek and Danielle were seated in the back of the very large theater hall, they breathed a sigh of relief. Derek stuck the drink into the handily provided seat-level receptacle, then held the bag of popcorn to Danielle, who took some and began chewing mechanically.

Derek frowned. "Bad popcorn?"

Danielle muttered, "Just can't relax."

Derek shifted in his chair, realizing Danielle was right about one thing. It was going to be a long ten minutes until the lights went dim. He nibbled on some popcorn as well, flipped his hoodie up over his head, and settled in to wait.

The twins warily eyed people coming into the room, but nobody they knew was there, and nobody even came into the same row. Derek remembered to turn off his cell phone, and nudged Danielle, showing her his phone. She nodded, reached into her purse, and shut her phone off.

Finally, however, the lights did come down, and the opening scenes of the trailers began playing. Derek relaxed, and carefully put his elbow on the chair's armrest, nudging Danielle to do the same. It was a small thing, illicitly touching elbows in public (Danielle nudging his knee earlier wasn't quite in the same ballpark, to be sure, as siblings often jostled one another), but it still thrilled Derek to know that there were ways he and Danielle could show their affection outside of closed doors and clandestine conversations.

Danielle, holding the popcorn bag, reached into it at the same time Derek was reaching for some, and as their hands touched, they momentarily froze. Derek relaxed first, touching Danielle's index finger with his, then withdrawing to let her get some popcorn; when he ate his popcorn, he noticed with some distaste that it was only somewhat warm.

At this point, the movie itself began, and for a while, the opening credits held Derek's interest to some extent, as did some of the funnier scenes.

Eventually, though, his interest flagged and he remembered why he'd asked Danielle on their "date": what else did you do besides make out with your love interest when the movie wasn't interesting?

He sipped the pop, then offered the drink to Danielle, who finished it off and set it aside. He slowly moved his right arm until it was resting along the armrest, prompting Danielle to hesitantly lay her arm alongside his, brushing his knuckles with hers. He extended his fingers, hoping the gesture wasn't lost on Danielle.

She moved her arm over his to better line her hand up, and clasped his hand. Her palm was somewhat sweaty, and Derek carefully let out his breath, trying to remind himself that when he'd done this with Sara, nobody had bothered to notice the two of them rather enthusiastically kissing and a lot more besides.

He murmured, "Wanna…?"

Danielle shook her head. "Not right now. Need to work up to it a bit."

Derek felt Danielle's knee touch his thigh; he moved his leg closer as he tried to remind himself that touching her leg, however indirectly, was normally a turn-on.

He looked over at his sister, and gently rubbed his thumb over the back of Danielle's hand. He was rewarded with a quick smile from her.

The movie segued from a marginally funny scene to a musical dance in which the main character torridly confessed his love for the female lead, who had, up to this point, been ignoring him as his increasingly hilarious attempts to get her attention had met with failure.

Under the cover of the music, Derek whispered to Danielle, "Now?"

She sat up, leaned over slowly, and reached up, almost fearfully touching Derek's jaw just slightly, turning his head toward her. Derek shifted, leaned in—

Their lips touched.

And though Derek would not have believed it until that moment, the simple act of kissing his sister in public, hidden as it was, felt so freeing that the world seemed to fall away. Moments – minutes – hours – eons – he knew not what time had passed, only that some time later, Danielle was slowly breaking the kiss and releasing his hand. She grinned at him and said quietly, "C'mon. Put your arm around me. Let's do this properly."

Derek happily obliged, releasing her hand and slipping his right arm around her shoulders. Then, he resumed the kiss as his left hand roamed down Danielle's neck, inside her coat, past her collarbone, finally resting on the curve of her breast as he began making out with his sister, groping her breast as her hand similarly made its way down to his chest, which was developing very nicely thanks to his work-out sessions.

Eventually, he moved his hand down, over her flat stomach, past her hip and running his hand along her thigh; she was wearing yoga pants, which were excellent, because they clung so well to her leg, letting him feel the curve of her leg and her muscles, toned by her own exercise regimen.

Momentarily startled as Danielle groped his cock through his pants, Derek settled down, enjoying the kissing as she ran her hand along his leg as well.

Admittedly, the armrest got in the way, but even so, there were ways.

Finally, Derek could stand the excitement no more. His hard-on threatened to tent his pants, and he gently pulled mouth off Danielle's to whisper, "We hafta go. Otherwise I'm gonna cream my pants!"

Danielle smirked knowingly at him, then nodded. The movie, he guessed, still had maybe fifteen or twenty minutes left, so luckily, he was able to exit the theater with Danielle without trouble, and without anyone noticing he was quite hard.

In the deserted theater hallway, Derek grabbed Danielle's shoulders and grinned. "That was fucking awesome!" he whispered loudly.

Danielle grinned back and grabbed his hips, pulling him in for a kiss. Their mouths met for a moment, and then Derek realized, with horror, that they were In.



Oh, shit, thought Derek with dread as his hard-on deflated, and his face froze.

Danielle's face also lost all expression as she drew back from Derek, her eyes wide in fright.

Derek tried to swallow, but his mouth was totally dry. He croaked, "Let's go. Let's get outta here!"

Danielle nodded jerkily, and took off like the wind was at her back, Derek following closely behind, keeping the hood over his head in case anyone wondered later why a couple of teenagers were running, and remember the two of them.

The teens didn't stop dashing until they crashed into the mall's exit doors, spilling out into the cold November night, breathing heavily.

Danielle moved into the shadows, away from the mall's entrance; Derek followed, unsure of what to do. He lowered his hoodie so he could see her better.

Danielle looked at him, her expression blank. She closed her eyes, leaned against the wall of the shopping mall, and in a choked moan, said, "What the fuck were we thinking, Derek?"

Derek hesitantly came up and stood next to Danielle. He saw a tear fall from her eye, followed by a wet sniffle.

"I'm so sorry, Danielle," he said. "I was a total dumbass. I shouldn't have gotten so carried away."

She muttered thickly, "Me too." She pressed her trembling lips together.

"Hey. Go ahead, okay? Cry it out if you want," Derek soothingly offered as he carefully put his arms around Danielle, rubbing her back as she trembled quietly.

Danielle sniffled, then said into his shoulder, "I'll be all right. It's just – I couldn't stop remembering how worried I'd been that it was gonna go wrong, and then it seemed so right for a while, and then in that fucking hallway—"

Danielle thumped Derek's chest with a half-clenched fist. "It was like I'd woken up from a dream, and there we were and anyone could have seen us!"

Derek hugged Danielle more closely, rubbing her back with his left hand and gently running his hand over her hair with his right. He nestled his face against her hair, smelling her shampoo from that morning.

"We were lucky. We just need to have more self-control next time, okay, Danielle? 'Cause there will be a next time. All right? We can't keep hiding away like little mice. Remember? Your words, Dani. 'scared like mice', wasn't it?"

She shakily laughed, and pulled back a bit, tossing her hair as she looked at him. "So, little brother has a brain after all!"

"Oh, come on. That is so not fair," said Derek as he grinned at Danielle. "But seriously, we know now we can do things in public and get away with it."

She sighed and wiped her eyes. "You know, looking back? I think we kind of overreacted. You know? I mean, we could have just walked out of there instead of running like idiots."

"Maybe. But there was always a chance, Dani. What if it had been one of my buddies from school? Or your BFFs?"

"You're right." Danielle huffed. "Okay. Um, Mom and Dad said we had to make our own way home. You think we've got enough for a taxi, or do you wanna bus it, or just walk?"

"Fuck it. Let's walk. Take some time to talk and think as we go, okay, sis?" Derek

Danielle reached for Derek's hands and squeezed gently. "Okay. And thanks for comforting me. Listen, Derek, at home I'm gonna sneak into your room so we can cuddle. All right?"

Derek uncertainly nodded. "But what about—"

Danielle shoved Derek. "For once in your life, Derek, think about you and me instead of Mom and Dad!" She apologetically smoothed his coat out. "Look, we have phones with alarms. I'll just set my alarm or you set yours so I can wake up and go back to my room, or even just take an early shower and take off for practice."

"Okay, we can do that, yeah." Derek nodded slowly as he thought about the logistics.

"Good. 'Cause we need this. I don't know about you but if I can't get to hold you I'm not going to get any sleep," Danielle said firmly.

"Okay. Well, it's about half an hour, forty minutes to get home. Let's go, huh?"

The siblings began walking briskly as the cold air swirled around them. As it happened, neither of them felt the need to talk much, and so each was left to their own thoughts.

At home, their parents greeted them and asked about the movie. Danielle carried off a pretty good act as she shrugged, saying, "So-so. It kind of, like, went in one eye and out the other."

Derek chimed in, saying, "Yeah. I kinda liked some of it, but it didn't stick in my mind."

Their father shrugged. "Well, it's not one of those hard-hitting dramas or anything like that. Anyway, kids, it's after ten now. You should head upstairs, all right?"

Without protest, the siblings meekly went upstairs, going into their respective bedrooms to get ready for bed. They didn't look at each other as they passed by each other in the hallway to brush their teeth or use the bathroom.

In his room, Derek glumly stripped down to his boxers and got into bed, letting his head fall to the pillow with a dull thump as he wondered what kind of fuck-up he had to be to forget what he was doing in a public place. For all his bravado about a "next time", he wondered if Danielle should even trust him to help save them in the future.

In the pitch dark, Derek stared at the bedroom door, wondering if Danielle would try to come to him that night. Over and over, he thought of the soaring highs of making out with her in the back of the theater like any other couple and then, without fail, he would see his complete and utter stupidity in rushing to kiss Danielle where they could be spotted.

The door opened. His heartbeat rocketed up as he realized Danielle was entering; in the light, he could see she only had her nightgown on. Soundlessly, she closed the door again so it barely clicked. She tiptoed to his bed, lifted his bedsheet, and Derek felt the bed shift as she climbed in over him; he turned onto his other side, his back now to the bedroom door.

As she settled into his bed, she whispered, "Derek?"

Derek reached out, putting his hand on Danielle's bare shoulder. "Yeah, Dani?" he quietly murmured.

She tremulously sighed with relief. "It's so good to be here with you now. Just hold me, please."

Danielle pushed up against him, touching her forehead to his as Derek shifted to better let as much of their bodies come into contact as possible, before he snaked his arm around her so he could hold her with one arm and leave the other one free. She reached for his shoulder, and gently kissed him on the nose. Derek smiled. That was kind of goofily sweet, he thought as he reciprocated with a gentle kiss on her nose.

Derek ran his free hand down to Danielle's hip, nudging her thigh so she would wrap her leg around him. He left his hand on her upper thigh as he said, "G'night, Danielle."

"Thanks, Derek. Good night."

Derek still found it took a while to sleep, but realized with some surprise that Danielle had, as she predicted, fallen asleep easily once in his bed; her breathing had steadied out fairly soon after she'd closed her eyes and wished him goodnight.

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