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When We Meet Again

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Prologue

 

Casey:

 

“Come on, Casey.” Elizabeth whined, looking up at her best friend from the bed as the brunette observed herself in the mirror. “You’ll be moving to London soon, I leave for my dad’s tomorrow and I’ll be gone the entire summer, and then I’ll probably never hear from you again.” Casey snorted and rolled her eyes.

“Have you met me? Of course we’ll keep in touch.” It was Beth’s turn to roll her eyes.

“You say that now, and sure we will… for a while. We’ll have phone calls, we’ll write letters, maybe even e-mail and eventually you’ll be too busy with new friends, new boys, and your new school— public school , I might add—you won’t have the time to call me.”

“You’re being overly dramatic and throwing a guilt trip on top of it.” But She’d learned from the best.

“Is it working?” the girl asked, managing to keep an amused smile from playing across her features. Casey rolled her eyes, yet again, but she was smiling as she turned from the mirror to face Beth.

“Yes, and you know it is and that it would.” Beth squealed and clapped her hands together as she jumped from the bed where she had been perched and ran over to Casey’s closet.

“I have been dying to take you to a party for years, Case.” She murmured as she started throwing random articles of clothing onto the bed. There were shirts, skirts, dresses, and pants. Casey wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be trying on with what so she sat there, staring in mild amusement. She wasn’t even sure where her reluctance stemmed from. It was summer. She had no homework. She’d done the required summer reading for her new school. She certainly had the time and luxury to relax some. Beside, Beth did make a valid point. Who knew when they would be able to hang out again? The drive just from the edge of Toronto to London was a little over two hours. If you factor in traffic and include the distance from house to house… it was a long drive and not one either of their mothers would be willing to make frequently.

She just wasn’t much of a party person and most of her knowledge regarding the subject came from what she’s seen on other TV shows and if they’re anything like the real thing, it’s not really her scene.

Beth had moved from the closet to the pile that had formed on Casey’s bed. Now she was picking up things, examining them and laying them out in various outfits. Occasionally she would look from the bed to Casey and back and throw an article of clothing (and sometimes an entire outfit) to the floor. It was too late for Casey to protest about the treatment of her clothes at this point. “Here.” The girl suggested, finally, as she picked up a long, flowing skirt and a blouse coupled with a cami. “Try this. Simple, but cute.” It was something Casey might have picked for herself and the brunette relaxed.

“Do we even know who is throwing the party?” Beth shook her head.

“No, but my brother does and he said he would drive us.” Casey shook her head, too, but didn’t bother trying to argue. Instead, she changed into the clothes picked for her and waited for Beth’s approval. Of course her friend was no longer paying any attention and had returned to searching Casey’s closet. “Wait, what about this?” From the very recesses of Casey’s closet, Beth had found a dress given to her by her cousin, Vicky. It was absolutely something Casey never imagined she would wear and it was a little too revealing for her taste. She hadn’t been able to throw it away, though, because her mom would find out and so, just as Vicky was forced to buy something for her least favorite relative, Casey was forced to keep it and shoved it to the very back of her closet.

It’s not that it was unattractive; Aunt Fiona wouldn’t have allowed that. It would look really nice on someone… it just wasn’t meant for Casey, who preferred to be covered. Casey shook her head. “No. Absolutely not.” Beth pouted.

“Elizabeth.” There was a warning note in her voice but Beth paid no mind.

“Come on.” The blonde was whining again. “It’s not like you’ll ever see these people again--they’re all complete strangers! At least try it on?” Her lips turned out in a pout and her eyes opened wide and Casey let out a sigh.

That was how she ended up wearing the black mini dress with cap sleeves that zipped from bottom to top in the front and Beth ended up wearing the white skirt and pink top with the cami that Casey had originally tried on (which, was totally unfair in Casey’s opinion but Beth had argued that she wasn’t the one who needed to loosen up). She’d done her make-up out of style, too, opting for a slightly more dramatic look to go with the dress. Why not have a little fun, look a little different? She’d never see these people again… except for maybe Beth’s brother, Steven, who winked at her and said she looked hot when he saw them.

 

Derek:

Derek was leaning against a wall. There was some shitty pop song playing and he could feel the vibrations of the music on his back. It didn’t matter, though, because leaning on his arm was a tall and leggy blonde (It was always a blonde, although they never lasted long). Her hand was gripping, rather possessively, his upper arm and she was whispering in his ear about some story. It didn’t matter what she was saying with the way that she was saying it and Derek had the distinct feeling that the story didn’t matter to her, either, she was happy to just to be murmuring low in his ear. Her breath tickled his ear. She was a little older, but it’s not like she knew that he was only a second year in high school and he wasn’t about to let her in on that fact.

From his spot toward the back of the room, Derek could see the front door and when it opened admitting to new girls his attention was diverted from the blonde on his right to the one standing just inside the doorway who was definitely worth admiring. Following the blonde, though was an older brother who looked like he could break Derek’s neck with two fingers. Deciding to stick with the leggy blonde who didn’t have family in the immediate vicinity, he started to tune back into the girl on his arm--whose name he had forgotten by that point (but with the noise he wasn’t even sure he had it right to begin with), but then the second girl, who had come in with the blonde and her brother, turned to scan the room.

He hadn’t paid her much attention at first, choosing to take in the blonde over the brunette, but for a moment, he was absolutely captivated by the most amazing pair of blue eyes. And the dress she was wearing hugged a body that he definitely wouldn’t mind getting to know. He was starting to wonder if maybe there was something he’d been missing with brunette women. She followed after the blonde and the older brother and his eyes followed them. Ralph, his best friend, leaned in on his left. “Avert your eyes.” He suggested.

“Huh?” Derek answered, sounding completely eloquent. Not. And then he felt someone pinching his arm. Hard. “OW!” he yelped, turning to face the blonde. Diane? He tried that and she made a face.

“You ass.” She muttered, stomping away. Derek looked confused and turned back to Ralph who laughed.

“You got caught staring.” Was all he said, but Derek had been sure he wasn’t staring that hard… right? Then again, if Ralph of all people noticed, then maybe so.

He scanned the room but he couldn’t find her. He could write off the other blonde, her nails had started digging into his arm, but he wanted to flirt with the brunette a little. Beside, she looked closer to his age anyway and older girls were overrated. Ralph mumbled something about leaving and how he’d catch Derek later like his friend wouldn’t notice that Ralph had left about the same time as his secret boyfriend like they’d been doing for the past year (Derek was just waiting for Ralph to come out and tell him). Derek nodded and waved his friend off; he was still looking for the blue eyed girl. It didn’t matter to him that she wasn’t blonde; he never actively sought after blonde women, anyway, it had just always happened that way.

He spotted the blonde that she’d come in with. She was talking to some guy with her brother watching out of the corner of his eye a few feet away. There was no sign of the other girl so he wandered into the kitchen to try his luck there.

She was leaning back on the counter, a cup in hand, one ankle crossed over the other as her bright eyes scanned those talking closely in a corner. She looked vaguely amused at whatever the couple was whispering about, but then her attention on them didn’t last long. She noticed Derek standing, blocking the doorway where he’d yet to move from. He realized he’d been staring. Again. Apparently, obviously. “Hi.” He said, lamely.

She looked him up and down, carefully. “Hi.” She said back eyes flicking back to the couple, seeming uninterested. That took him by surprise; he usually didn’t have to work very hard to get someone interested. He flicked a smirk in a girl’s direction and they generally were smiling and giving them his number. He found that same smirk forming on his face now as he moved to lean on the counter beside her.

Looking back up at her she was looking at him and he thought, ah-ha , but she rolled her eyes and looked away. “What?” his demand was harsher than he intended. He just… wasn’t used to this, he wasn’t used to having to try so hard.

“You look like the type who expects girls to fall at his feet and praise his existence.” She said, after a long sip of what looked like water. He felt himself smirk more. He’d more or less just been thinking that.

“I can’t help it if that’s what always happens.” He heard himself saying. Lame , he admonished himself but he thought he saw the corners of her lips twitch.

“I’m sure it does, but not this time.” Derek put a hand to his heart at these words, and grinned—no longer a smirk, but a grin.

“Why is that?”

She finally looked at him more fully, leaning away to appraise him better, “Leather jacket, shaggy hair, cocky attitude, and to top it off an arrogant smirk; you’re a walking cliché.”

“You wound me.” That was kind of a bigger blow to his ego than her seeming uninterested. Derek Venturi was one of a kind, or so he had thought.

“I’m sure you’ll live.” She intoned turning her attention from him.

“I don’t... think I’ll... make it much... longer.” He gasped, like it was his last few breaths, sliding to the floor. He realized he was acting ridiculous to get this girl’s attention when he would have to do a lot less work to get the blonde from earlier to forgive him, but somehow he was enjoying this. The brunette watched him, one eyebrow raised, as he melted like a puddle at her feet and then he let his body go lax. This time he was positive that her lips twitched upward in a smile, but he gave her credit because it was only for a second before the apathetic expression returned.

She stepped over him in some black heels and he got a nice view of her legs. He’s always been a leg man and he could appreciate the dancer’s muscles she had. He took a moment longer to appreciate them some more before looking up at her where she was peering down at the dead mess he’d pretended to become, “Well now,” she drolled, “look who is falling at my feet.” He laughed out right at that. She was quick, unlike most of the girls he tended to pay attention to.

He managed to get up rather gracefully from the floor and offer her his hand, “Derek.” She looked at it for a moment before taking his hand in hers.

“Casey.” And finally she smiled.

 

Casey:

Casey finally allowed him a smile as she gave Derek’s hand a gentle shake. The smile that he returned was… something else. It made her feel special. She’d almost caught a glimpse of it a moment ago when he’d been grinning but this was a genuine real-deal smile, and it warmed her to him; it was much better than that smirk he’d had going on when he first sidled up beside her.

“That’s a lovely name.” The line sounded so practiced, that she laughed.

“Thanks, I picked it out myself.” The look on his face made her laugh, “Beside, I’m sure you tell that to all the girls.” He only looked mildly guilty at being caught.

“Yeah, but this time I mean it.” The sound of his own sincerity seemed to catch him off guard and she wanted to laugh again.

“I’m sure.” Casey deadpanned, eyes rolling. She didn’t know where this flirty nature was coming from. She supposed it was the dress. It hadn’t looked as bad as she thought, and it gave her confidence she’d previously lacked.

“I do. You know how I know?” and he leaned in like he was going to tell her a secret, still holding her hand. She let him. Why not, they were never going to speak after tonight. “I’ll actually remember your name.” he murmured, close to her ear and she could almost see him grinning, although she had the vague impression that he didn’t generally remember names. She laughed.

“Well, I’ll never know if that’s true or not.” She told him when he finally leaned back and returned her the use of her hand. “I suppose I can take your word for it, this once.” He smiled like a boy who had won a prize at the fair.

“You have a really genuine laugh.” He said, sounding surprised. Then again, judging by her assessment of him, which she’d figured to be pretty accurate by his reaction, he was probably used to girls laughing at anything he said regardless of its humor.

“Explained by the fact that I tend to only laugh when something is funny.”

“You think I’m funny?” He looked cocky again and she couldn’t resist knocking him down a peg. Again.

“Well, I  have been looking at your face for the past few minutes.” He looked surprised, again, but pleased at as he pretended to look offended. She wondered if he was enjoying their verbal sparring as much as she was. Then he gave her that real smile again, and she couldn’t help but feel like there was nothing in the world but them.

 

--*--

 

They spent the entire night at that party talking and laughing; he never once put his hand on her after their initial handshake, but he was definitely flirtatious--as was she. When Beth finally came to collect her to go, he took her hand to shake it again but kissed her cheek gently and murmured “I’d like to see you again.” Casey chewed at her lip and, on a whim, grabbed a pen writing his e-mail address on his arm.

They spent the rest of the summer e-mailing. He told her jokes, and she shared poetry of which he had intelligent things to say. They each talked upon their parent’s divorce and didn’t touch on family beyond that except to share that neither were an only child. They talked about their friends at school; she told him about Beth (“Oh, the hot blonde with you at the party?”) and he told her how he felt about the fact that his friend still didn’t trust him to come out. They talked about life, in general: hopes, dreams, ambitions (everyone thinks that he wants to play hockey but he really wants to make documentaries). He shared embarrassing stories about himself and she did the same. He told her that he was sharing things with her that he’d never told anyone. She was telling him things she’d never told anyone, even though she couldn’t be sure he’d meant what he said. They never did get a chance to meet over the summer when they realized the distance (she never did tell him she’d be moving closer, though), but they e-mailed several times a day.

Toward the end of the summer, Derek told her he loved her and she returned the sentiment.

Then summer was almost over and she was moving to her new home in London. She had to meet the man to become her stepfather (he actually turned out to be quite nice). She met her new stepsister, Marti. She was a character, and Casey wondered if she would be able to handle the creative kid who had wanted to wear a purple boa to the rehearsal. She met Edwin who seemed rather intelligent and gifted. Then there was the final addition to the family: she met the eldest son of George, Derek Venturi. The same Derek who she met at the party early in the summer, the same Derek who she had shared the most personal things with, and the same Derek who had said he loved her. Her heart broke as his eyes went wide and then impassive and he pretended to introduce himself to her at their parents rehearsal dinner.

Her heart broke further when at some point during the reception he’d been found kissing her cousin on the dance floor and George--who Casey was sharing a dance with--whispered to his son, “What happened to the girl you’ve been going on about all summer?” Derek wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“Oh, her? She’s just a girl; nothing special.”

Chapter Text

Nora:

 

The morning started with “Der- ek ” being shouted from above. The mother of five didn’t even flinch at that sound anymore; at this point it was as normal to her routine as brushing her teeth. If anyone knew how to get her daughter riled up, it would be her stepson Derek. Oftentimes though, Nora knew, Casey would dish it right back. Which is why she wasn’t too concerned, rather tired of, the pair’s constant struggle for dominance.

Nora shook her head as the sound of scuffling could be heard from upstairs as she finished serving breakfast. “Breakfast!” she called as loudly as she could before moving away from the table. All of a sudden there was a flurry of feet as Marty, Edwin, Lizzie, and Derek stampeded down the stairs to sit at the table. Casey followed behind, neat and prim

Casey rolled her eyes as she watched Edwin and Derek shovel food into their mouths and Nora couldn’t help but agree with the expression on her daughter’s face. George came up a minute later looking rather frazzled. “Can’t stay for breakfast.” He apologized, “Big case today.” Nora handed him a piece of toast and a kiss on the cheek. “Have you seen my keys?”

“In your hand, dear.” Nora murmured and George took off for work. She turned from her husband to see Derek and Casey throwing eye daggers at one another. Now it was time for Nora to roll her eyes.

She never understood the animosity between them. From the second they met, there had been a look of disgust on both their faces before either had uttered a word. Shaking her head she finished getting herself ready for work and saw the kids out the door and was that Derek’s shirt  Casey was wearing?

 

--*--

 

Emily:

 

Emily was at her locker when Casey appeared, already fuming despite the early hour. “Must be a new record.” This was more to herself than to Casey. “What did Derek do now?” Emily asked with a sigh. She was torn between being a good friend and hearing out the DerekandCasey (one word, thrown together just like that) drama and being tired of the whole thing.

“What didn’t Derek do?” Casey napped at her locker. She was angrily grabbing books from her locker and stuffing them into her backpack. Emily waited, holding her own books in her arms, for Casey to continue, to vent the whole story in unnecessary detail… but nothing came. The brunette just glowered into the depths of their shared locker. Laughter came from the other end of the hall and the angry mask slipped for just a moment showing someone more vulnerable and pained. Emily watched as Casey’s eyes followed the sound and locked onto her step-brother. Those blue orbs filled with tears and she stared, unblinking, probably willing them not to fall.

“Casey…” Emily started in surprise. Casey had been living with the Venturi’s for a few months now; she was used to Derek’s prank and whatever weird power struggle the two had. She’d seen Casey’s eyes water in irritation and frustrated but Emily had yet to see her like this. These were honest and undramatic tears.

“I’ve got to go.” Casey let out in a strangled voice. She took off in what looked like the direction of the counselor’s office. Emily couldn’t be sure (because she’d never actually been but having seen Casey head that way so frequently, she was pretty sure it was in that direction), but the young woman was hoping, for her friends sake, that that’s where she’s headed.

 

--*--

 

“Derek Venturi!” Emily watched as Derek turned from the girl he was chatting up. He was probably expecting Casey, seeing as she was the one who usually stormed toward Derek calling out his name--though she never called him by his last name not to mention she and Casey sounded completely different so she was a little hurt that he didn’t recognize her voice yelling at him. She saw the smirk before the surprise registered in his eyes and then he was turning on the charm.

“Emily, fancy meeting you here.” Derek greeted with his usual smirk returning. She couldn’t help but smile back. He was just so… Derek. She shook her head, slightly, to center herself. The smirk faltered as he saw her angry face reform on her features.

“What did you do?” Emily demanded, watching his face change to confused (number three on Emily’s Favorite Derek Expressions).

“What?”

“To Casey.” Understanding dawned him and then he was snickering. Emily whacked him on the upper arm, partly because she wanted to touch him, but mostly because he shouldn’t be laughing while Casey was crying (probably in Paul’s office… poor Paul).

“Ow! What the hell, Emily?”

“She’s crying and you’re over here laughing.” She aimed to hit him again and she saw him flinch. Emily took a moment to be with herself before continuing, “I repeat: What did you do?” and then she did hit him.

“Nothing!” She looked at him disbelieving. “Nothing that was a big deal, certainly nothing worth crying over. I just hid all of her clothes, her hair brush, and some other stuff.” Emily was kind of on Derek’s side with this one… it wasn’t the most irritating thing that Derek’s done, and certainly nothing worth crying over.

“Explains why she was wearing your clothes.” She muttered.

“She was wearing my clothes?”

Emily, too busy trying to figure out if there was some other issue happening, ignored the look on his face. “It must be something else then.” She mused to out loud. Derek looked guilty as hell, though, so he must know exactly what it is about.

“I’m going to go… find her.” he declared, darting off confirming her suspicions that there was definitely more to the story.

 

--*--

 

Paul:

It had not taken Paul very long to be prepared for Casey and her random bursts into his office. She often came into his room, without knocking, throwing the door open already in the middle of a rant, usually about Derek. Thankfully, she’d yet to do it when he was with another student, but there was still time.

Naturally when Casey burst into his office that afternoon, he was completely prepared for her storming through the door shutting it behind her and dropping herself into the chair across from his desk. Except for the fact that he wasn’t. Paul liked to believe he was completely prepared for Casey but he wasn’t; when he tried to be prepared for her near daily appointment, sitting rigid in his chair she either wouldn’t come or (more often) she’d still scare him. What he had learned, though, was not to be doing anything embarrassing in his office, liking picking his nose.

So, when she burst through the door that afternoon, Paul jumped in his chair and then eyed her carefully. There were tears (not uncommon), and she was sitting (slightly more uncommon), but she wasn’t saying anything (highly uncommon). Not a word.

He tried waiting it out. Usually the silence would get to a student until they were talking just to fill it. He waited for a good five minutes, waiting for her to say something, and when she didn’t he opened his mouth to speak. “Thanks, Paul.” She said, instead, and she started to get up. The counselor, who could more or less figure out solutions to Casey’s problems, was confused. She hadn’t said anything! She’d just sat there, crying.

She headed for the door. “Casey, is there something you wanted to talk about?” The student shook her head as she started to close the door. Before it shut all the way, she poked her head back in.

“Just… a long day. I’m… tired.” And she started to close the door again.

“Classes have barely started.” Again, the door started to open and Casey came in halfway. Paul was reminded of their first meeting where he had to coax her to come in and speak with him.

Casey shrugged, “Long few months. Thanks again, Paul.” She started to leave again. Paul, beginning to worry about depression, called her back.

“Maybe you should sit for a while longer, let your tears stop?” he suggested, kindly. This time when Casey came back in, she shut the door behind her and took a seat. Again. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” he tried once more.

She was silent and he thought she wasn’t going to speak again, but she did the words coming out with a sudden burst of energy. “That’s the thing, Paul. I can’t talk about it. I can’t tell you, I can’t tell my mom, I can’t call my dad and tell him, I can’t tell Lizzie. I can’t tell my best friend here or from back home who I’ve had to stop talking to because I can’t tell her anthing about my life.” Instead of slowing down, the tears poured a little faster. “I can’t talk to anyone and I’m just so, so tired of it all but I can’t talk to anyone about it.”

“Casey, you know anything you say here will remain with me.”

“It doesn’t matter!” she interrupted, eyes looking a little wild. “Because if I tell you, you’ll be disgusted or have me committed or… something and no one can ever know. Ever.” She sobbed. This wasn’t a usual Casey problem. It was bigger and she looked in pain, holding herself around her stomach like she was closing to falling apart at the seams. Paul offered her a tissue box and she snatched one out, blowing her nose.

“Maybe you can tell me some of it?” he suggested. “It isn’t healthy to bottle things up about this. Talk around the subject, maybe or give me some details.” Maybe she was having trouble coming out or, and he really really hated the thought, she was being harmed in some way. She shook her head vigorously.

“I c-c-can’t.” She choked out. But her tears had stopped and she only had a few sobs here and there.

“Casey… is someone… you know if someone is touching you--”

Thankfully she didn’t let  him finish, “God, no, Paul.” She gave him an odd look, “If that were it… no… it’s nothing like that.” She even rolled her watery eyes. “I have to go to class.” She looked at Paul, expectantly, and he nodded.

“Okay, well you know where I am if you need me.” She nodded but still, he hesitated before giving in and writing her the pass.

Chapter Text

Nora:

“Der-ek” was shouted from above. The mother of five didn’t even flinch at that sound anymore. If anyone knew how to get her daughter riled up, it would be her stepson Derek. Oftentimes though, Nora knew, Casey could dish it right back which is what resulted in the constant struggle for dominance by the older children.

Nora shook her head as the sound of scuffling could be heard from upstairs as she finished serving breakfast. “Breakfast!” she called as loudly as she could before moving away from the table. All of a sudden there was a flurry of feet as Marty, Edwin, Lizzie, and Derek stampeded down the stairs to sit at the table. Casey followed but she was neat and prim about it.

Casey rolled her eyes as she watched Edwin and Derek shovel food into their mouths and Nora couldn’t help but agree that they were being gross about it. Boys will be boys, though. George came up a minute later looking rather frazzled. “Can’t stay for breakfast.” He apologized, “Big case today.” Nora handed him a piece of toast and a kiss on the cheek. “Have you seen my keys?”

“In your hand, dear.” Nora murmured and George took off for work. She turned from her husband to see Derek and Casey throwing eye daggers at one another. Now it was time for Nora to roll her eyes.

She never understood the animosity between them. From the second they met, there had been a look of disgust on both their faces. Shaking her head she finished getting herself ready for work.

--

Emily:

She was at her locker when Casey appeared, already fueling. “What did Derek do now?” Emily asked with a sigh. Sure, sometimes the stories were entertaining, but sometimes not so much and Emily wasn’t really in the mood for her best-friend’s family drama.

“What didn’t Derek do?” Casey mumbled, angrily grabbing books from her locker and stuffing them in her backpack. Emily waited for Casey to continue, to vent the whole story in unnecessary story… but nothing came. Instead from her side, Emily watched as Casey’s eyes filled with tears and she stared, unblinking, in order to will them not to fall.

“Casey…” Emily started. Casey had been living with the Venturi’s  for a couple months by now, she was used to Derek pranking her and usually wanted to get him back, even if she never followed through… but Emily had never seen her cry.

“I’ve got to go.” Casey let out in a garbled voice as she took off in what looked like the direction of the counselor’s office. Here’s hoping.

--

“Derek Venturi!” She watched as Derek turned from his locker. He was probably expecting Casey, because she was the one who usually stormed toward Derek calling out his full name. She saw the surprise register in his eyes before he turned on the charm.

“Emily, fancy meeting you here.” Derek greeted with the usual smirk. She couldn’t help but smile back. He was just so… Derek. She shook her head, slightly, to center herself. The smirk faltered as he saw her angry face.

“What did you do?” And there was the confusion.

“What?”

“To Casey.” And then she saw the look of understanding has he snickered. Emily whacked him on the upper arm. It was partly because she wanted to touch him, but mostly because he shouldn’t be laughing while Casey was crying in Paul’s office.

“Ow! What the hell, Emily?”

“She’s crying and you’re over here laughing.” She aimed to hit him again and she saw him flinch. Emily looked pleased with herself. “I repeat: What did you do?” and then she did hit him.

“Nothing, nothing that was a big deal, nothing worth crying over. I just emptied all her shampoo and conditioner bottles into plastic bags and hid them. It just took her a little longer getting ready this morning. It was funny.” Emily was on Derek’s side, that it was a little much to be crying over.

“It must be something else then.” She mused to herself. Derek looked guilty as hell, though, so she must have said it out loud and he must know exactly what it is about.

“I’m going to go find her…” he declared, darting off. There was definitely more to the story.

--

Paul:

Paul had learned to be prepared for Casey’s random outburst. She often came into his room, without knocking, throwing the door open and beginning a rant, usually about Derek. Thankfully, she’d yet to do it when he was with another student, but there was still time.

So, because of all his preparation, naturally he was completely prepared when Casey stormed through the door shutting it behind her and dropping herself into the chair across from his desk.

Of course not, because as much as he’d like to say that he was prepared for her to walk in any minute, he wasn’t. He’d learned not to be doing anything embarrassing in his office, liking picking his nose, though.

This time when she burst through the door, Paul jumped in his chair and then eyed her carefully. She was sitting, and there were tears (not uncommon) but she wasn’t saying anything. Not a word.

He waited for a good five minutes, waiting for her to say something, and when she didn’t he opened his mouth to speak. “Thanks, Paul.” And she started to get up. The counselor, who could more or less figure out Casey’s problem, was confused. She hadn’t said anything! She’d just sat there, crying.

She headed for the door. “Casey, is there something you wanted to talk about?” She shook her head as she started to close the door. Before it shut all the way, she poked her head back in.

“Just… a long day.” And she started to close the door again.

“Classes have barely started.” Again, the door started to open and Casey came in halfway. Paul was reminded of their first meeting where he had to coax her to come in and speak with him.

Casey shrugged, “Long few months. Thanks again, Paul.” She started to leave again. Paul, beginning to worry about depression called her back.

“Maybe you should sit for a while longer, let your tears stop?” he suggested, kindly. This time when Casey came back in, she shut the door behind her and took a seat. Again. “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” he tried again.

He thought she wasn’t going to speak again, but she did the words coming out with a sudden burst of energy. “That’s the thing, Paul. I can’t talk about it. I can’t tell you, I can’t tell my mom, I can’t call my dad and tell him, I can’t tell Lizzie. I can’t tell my best friend here or back home. I’ve had to stop talking to my best friend from London, because I can’t tell her anything about my life.” Instead of slowing down, the tears poured a little faster. “I can’t talk to anyone about it.”

“Casey, anything you say here will remain with me.”

“It doesn’t matter!” she interrupted. “Because if I tell you, you’ll be disgusted or have me committed or… something.” She sobbed. This wasn’t just one of her dramatic crying fits because she looked in pain, holding herself around her stomach. Paul offered her a tissue and she snatched one out, blowing her nose.

“Maybe you can tell me some of it?” he suggested. “It isn’t healthy to bottle things up about this.” Maybe she was having trouble coming out. She shook her head vigorously.

“I c-c-can’t.” She choked out. But her tears had stopped and she only had a few sobs here and there. “I have to go to class.” She looked at Paul, expectantly, and he nodded.

“Okay, well you know where I am if you need me.” he told her as he wrote her a pass for class.

Chapter Text

Derek:

            He’d stopped tickling her and their faces were inches apart. All of his thoughts were Casey, Casey, Casey; her hair, her laugh, her smile, her smell. He forgot where he was, who they were now. “Sam asked me out.” Casey blurted looking panicked. Derek backed up and suddenly there was too much space between them. He was back on the bed and she’d rolled back a little in her desk chair.

            Derek felt his chest tighten and he snorted derisively. “I’m sure it was out of pity.” He felt panicked but he kept the cool look on his face. Now he remembered where he was. The house that they lived in, together; the house that they shared with their siblings and their now married parents. He though her face fell a little. She was crushing on Sam! He felt the air rush out of his chest like the first time in hockey when he’d been knocked flat on his back. “Well, I’m sure the two of you will have much to talk about.” and he slid off of her bed heading for the door.

“Derek…” She started and he glanced at her over her shoulder.

“No, no. Date my best friend. If you don’t find it weird, I don’t find it weird. I’m sure it won’t last long. He’s cool and hangs out with me. And you, you’re well… Klutzilla.” He smirked heading to his room to the sound of his name split in two.

“Der-ek!”

 

The next day when he saw Sam, it was the same thing. “I asked Casey out.” Derek rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, I know. She told me yesterday.”

The shaggy blonde nodded his head, as if he already knew this information. “I was really worried man.” And at this Derek perked up a bit, maybe she’d turned him down? If anyone asked he’d never admit to the feeling of guilt twisting in his stomach for wanting his best friend to get rejected. “She never really said anything when I first asked, and I thought maybe I misinterpreted everything… but she called me late last night and agreed.” Sam closed his locker happily, following Derek to their homeroom.

Of course it had been last night after he’d insisted that it wasn’t a big deal and that Sam wasn’t really all that interested in her. Maybe she was doing it just to prove a point because that was about how half of their relationship worked. Maybe she just wanted to prove that Sam was really into her and it really wouldn’t last all that long.

But then what? She would come back to him and they’d what? He’d been acting like he’d never met her before ever since their parents met. If Casey even looked like she was going to bring up the summer he’d do or say something to piss her off. Even if she hadn’t changed her view back to that of him being a womanizer, it’s not like anything could happen between the two of them. His dad married to her mom? Why was he wasting time thinking about her, about this? They’d talked for a few months and sure, he’d loved her but it was an easy thing to get over.

Right?

 

Casey:

            So, she’d said she’d go out with Sam. Why not? He was sweet and kind and seemed to really like her. She could find herself liking him very much…

            That was exactly the problem. She kept thinking things like I could learn to really like him which was really unfair to him but what was she supposed to do with the person she loved pretending like she was nothing more than his annoying step-sister. Like everything that happened this summer was, as she’d feared, nothing but a lie. During class and in the hall she wrapped her arms around herself as if it would keep her heart from breaking, as if it could keep the physical pain in her chest at bay.

Her date with Sam went really well and in short time they were an established couple at the school. Derek went on several dates with several different women. Pig. She and Sam hung out every weekend. She ran into Derek making out with someone different, it seemed like everywhere she went. Sam liked to hold her hand. Derek pulled pranks on her. She was yelling at Derek. He was laughing at her. It didn’t matter that Sam’s presence was constant and sweet… her thoughts were always on Derek. She was either irritated at a prank, worked up in a yelling match with him, thinking of ways to retaliate, wondering why he pretended they had never met, trying to ease the hurt that came from loving him.

Her first kiss with Sam was gentle and sweet. She felt nothing. She’d been feeling nothing more than friendship for Sam for a while now, but they continued to go out. It was completely unfair to him and completely unlike her but she really did want to feel something for him. The problem was he was too compliant… not enough, well not enough Derek if she was being honest with herself. Derek made her blood boil and unnerved her but he made her feel passionate and he had a way to get under her skin and stay in her head all day. Sam was kind and sweet but he didn’t ignite passion in her, he didn’t argue with her. There was just… nothing there.

So when he kissed her and her thoughts were on what she needed to do for homework—a thing Derek would scoff at and tell her was probably a keener thing, a her thing and not a Sam problem—she thought about breaking it off then. Then there was Derek poking his head out the door interrupting them mid-kiss. “Sammy. Babe raider.” And there was the competitive part of her that wanted to prove to Derek that she wasn’t stuck on him and that her and Sam were going to last longer than he thought.

He wasn’t the only one who could move on. So she slipped her thumbs through Sam’s belt loops and pulled him to her so they could kiss a while longer on the front porch. Naturally, though, Derek had to ruin it by clearing his throat until they broke apart and Sam went inside.

Derek shut the door behind them leaving Casey standing alone outside but that suited her just fine because she really didn’t want to risk either of them seeing her cry.

Still, it was all a waste because a few weeks later Sam was breaking up with her because she was far too invested in Derek’s date that night rather than theirs, as if dressing up in a blonde wig and spying on your step-brother’s date wasn’t a totally natural thing to do. So, he felt ignored like she spent too much time focused on Derek and they ended things.

Really, that suited her fine, too because the lack of passion between them was really starting to bore her. What she was more worried about was the fact that her disguise was not clever enough and Derek discovered her spying which just made her seem pathetic.

What was more worrisome was that her feeling of love toward Derek Venturi had not lessened in the slightest.

 

 

Things went on between them in pretty much the same fashion. Derek pranked her. They yelled and insulted. He dated girl after girl and she continued to be a serial monogamist which really meant she had no other relationships after Sam for the rest of the school year. The days on which Derek did nothing to her were the worst because it meant she wasn’t on his mind. The days when he went out of his way to prank her or insult her were the best because it at least meant he was thinking about her.

Yes, she’s very aware of the fact that she’s very screwed up. It’s his fault, not hers.

Then again… When he discovered their situation he moved right on while she was left hung up on a guy who cared nothing for her.

The first day of summer Beth showed up at her front door with an overnight bag and a bright smile. “I thought I’d come visit you, meet your new family…” she leaned in and whispered, “Give you some cheering up.” Casey stared blankly at her best friend from when she was nowhere near this messed up in the head. Beth rolled her eyes, “Your mom said that your step-brother gives you hell and you recently had a break up and you needed some, well, me-time.” She barely managed to choke back a sob before Beth had dropped her bag and pulled Casey in for a hug. “I figured something was going on when we stopped talking, but there wasn’t a lot I could do if you weren’t ready to talk about but it kept going on and well, here I am.” Casey nodded into her friend’s shoulder and then dragged her upstairs.

Thankfully her eyes were still dry because then there was Derek bounding down the stairs, having just woken up. His eyes still looked bleary, his hair still properly messy rather than stylized messy. He brushed past her to the kitchen, but she was sure if he’d seen her crying he would have become dramatic about it.

She didn’t dare look at Beth until they were safely in her room. She crawled onto her bed, leaning against the headboard hugging her legs to her chest. Her guest gently closed the door and took her seat beside Casey.

“Oh.” And really that’s all she needed to say, because suddenly everything was very clear to the blonde about everything that was going on internally with Casey.

“Yeah.”

“Ouch.”

Again, “Yeah.”

Then it was all spilling out. Everything from the day of the rehearsal dinner when she met her new step-family to hoping that when she told Derek that Sam had asked her out that he might finally acknowledge everything because he really looked like he might kiss her, to dating Sam because she was so, so screwed up.

There was a lot of crying and a lot of hugging but it felt really good to get it all off her chest.

“Are you sure he’s over you?” Beth asked, looking sympathetic. Casey snorted—a bad habit she’d picked up from the boy on the other side of the wall.

“You would not believe the number of girls he’s been on dates with this year. It’s a wonder there’s any in the school who haven’t been out with him. Beth made a small noise in the back of her throat that was very non-committal. Casey sighed, “Well, now that you know everything… what’s been going on with you?” And she could really focus on her best friend feeling so much lighter for having spilled her troubles to someone who held no judgement about it all.