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12 July 2012 @ 12:20 am
fic: then you come crashing in [2/4]  
title: then you come crashing in
pairing: Derek/Casey, Derek/OC, Casey/Jesse
summary: She hadn't allowed herself to think the scene out completely, but she'd been sure there would be musical accompaniment. Something soft, haunting. Something that would say we can't and can't we all at once.




The most awkward thing about the dinner is how it isn't awkward at all.

Derek insults her with the kind of breathtaking élan and creativity that suggest he's been storing up the insults, all the while they've been avoiding each other, and Rachel oscillates between trying not to laugh and punching his arm. Jesse smiles politely, and sometimes even genuinely grins and she just sits in the middle and doesn't know why, but she feels like she just stepped into a time warp where all those years in college hadn't happened. Where the campus hadn't been so big, and he hadn't been so far away. Like she's home again and everything's the same as it's always been, except different.

She'd always thought that meeting him for the first time in college after all the phone calls and almosts would be huge. Something out of a book even, the kind she and Emily used to read behind newspaper covers. She hadn't allowed herself to completely think it out in her head or ask the why of it, but she'd been sure there would be musical accompaniment. Something soft, haunting. Something that would say we can't and can't we all at once.

The first time she actually sees him, it's something out of a primetime family drama. The kind where the father threatens to cut off the son's allowance if he doesn't show his sister around, and the brother sighs and waits till the father leaves before shoving her off on the first person he recognizes and gives them a pittance to 'take her to the library or something'.

(She doesn't remember much of that day, but he doesn't look back. She remembers that.)

There's only this one moment, when she's in the kitchen, keeping her plate and he's setting the desert on the tray and it's ridiculously domestic and she wants so much, so hard, that if she gets everything she wants, there'll be nothing left for anyone else in the world to want ever again. So she turns to move away, while he pretends she isn't there at all.

She doesn't know exactly what she'd expected, but it was something along the lines of long silences, biting words, avoiding glances; something out of a script that Julia Roberts probably rejected thrice and Derek would mock mercilessly. But she knows what she hadn't expected: this. It wasn't Derek's 'Venturi's Back in Town' one-man performance. Which just goes to show that she's an idiot of a hitherto undiscovered order and should probably give back her Valedictorian cap out of sheer decency.

She vaguely notices he has a sprinkling of ground sugar at the corner of his mouth and absently raises her hand to wipe it off, and he steps back sharply, his face set in hard, unsmiling lines that has nothing of the guy from two minutes before, "don't."

"Jesus," she moves her hand back immediately, embarrassed at the lapse, "I was just trying to— you don't need to be such a dick about it."

He stares at her for a good long while, taking in the dress and heels and her hair, and she feels ridiculously obvious, and angry that he can make her feel that way. Angry that he can still make her feel that way.

"Take a picture," she snaps, "lasts longer."

"You still need to dress up for him?" he asks instead, shoving his hands inside the pockets of his jeans, and leaning against the kitchen counter in a way that's so familiar, it almost makes her heart stop short of a full beat.

"For whom?" she's still snapping with way too much intensity, because she genuinely doesn't know, and she's an idiot and she wants to get out of here as fast as she can and she wants to stay here forever.

"Your boyfriend obviously," he drawls, stretching out the word mockingly, "you'd think after two years of living together, he'd have seen it all—"

"— he has," she adds in hastily, just in case, there is any confusion on the matter, she hasn't been faithful to anyone or anything. She has no reason to be.

Derek looks at her with the kind of inscrutable gaze that he definitely developed sometime in the A.D. period, because she used to be good at this. Him. She used to be good at him. She didn't like it— like physics or P.E. or something— but she was good at it.

She used to be a lot of things.

"And yet you're wearing low cut dresses and first-date blue eye-shadow," he points out, "which probably means you still need to do that to get any."

She flushes with partial annoyance and embarrassment, she hadn't even noticed; it's like she's been on autopilot all night. And she'd forgotten he'd remember.

"How I dress up, and how much I…get or do not get or when or how or what I need to do for my boyfriend is none of your business, so stay out of it" she retorts.

He raises both his hands in silent surrender, "don't need to go queen bitch on me. Can't a brother be concerned about his sister? Especially when the sister in question clearly needs to get laid to even be able to function as a semi-acceptable member of society."

"Don't call me that," she stops, and wishes she could take it back. She's not going to do this. Not while his fiancée is sitting in the next room and laughing over something her boyfriend just said.

The noise from the other room stills, and both Rachel and Jesse have obviously heard and are probably debating whether to come in and break it up or call an ambulance or the fire brigade or something, and equally obviously the other two won't do anything because it's them.

"Call you what?" she can tell he knows exactly what and she should just go out and not allow him to do this to her. Not anymore.

"queen bitch," she mutters instead, lamely, and avoids his eyes, and then continues because she never really learned to stop when it's him, "I wear blue eye-shadow everywhere now, okay, because every date with Jesse is like the first date. And everything we do, it's like the first time. Each time."

"Ain't love grand," Derek clasps his hands in a melodramatic gesture, "and you think you're in love with this guy?"

"Why not?" she asks, instantly on the defensive, even though she knows all she should really be doing is leaving.

"Because—" he stops short, and rubs the side of his neck like he does when he's feeling awkward, she remembers that, "it's about the learning and knowing which buttons to push and taking time out to learn each gesture and how to make love and how to annoy the hell out of them and what to fight about and what never to say in a fight. It's about building on every second together, not first dates over and over. They're not exciting, raw or anything, they're mostly just excruciating and uncomfortable and there are too many silences. First dates are the worst on the entire roster. You've only forgotten because you haven't actually been on one in forever."

She stands blankly at him in his new kitchen with his new fiancée on the other side of the wall and the dessert on the plate and his grand love speech and thinks something like when did you become this guy?

"Are we always going to be like this?" she asks instead, tiredly, "we were never like this."

"We were always like this." He looks at her like she's crazy, "were you not there for, like, five years of your life?"

"No," she says, because this is important, for some reason, this is important, "we were family, and sure we hated each other or pretended or whatever to but we were something, not- not whatever this is. What changed, Derek?"

He finishes setting the dessert and picks up the tray, "I decided to stop playing Happy Families. So obviously you decided to stop picking up the phone."

He leaves her then, standing and she thinks this may be the closest they've gotten to it. Which, when she thinks about it (she doesn't, she doesn't) is just a little sad.







"It's an open invitation you know," Rachel's head falls on Derek's shoulder and Casey's grip on her clutch tightens.

"We might just take you up on the offer," Jesse looks more relaxed than she's seen him in days and it makes her want to smile.

"What is with the flirting thing," Derek asks pseudo-suspiciously.

"Well someone has to balance out karma for how much you and Casey fight," Rachel replies, the corner of her mouth quirking, "not gonna lie; I was on verge of dialing the dry-cleaners just in case. Getting blood off the kitchen rug is a bitch and a half."

She can't look up suddenly, it's probably grandly ironic that their epic tragic romance is neither epic nor tragic and most definitely not a romance; in fact, it's more kitchen sink drama of the '60's variety if it comes under any literary genre at all.

"I had a wonderful time," she lies, and whispers as she leans down to hug Rachel, "and I'm glad you're marrying Derek." That isn't a lie.

It's raining as they make their way to the car and in minutes their clothes drench the upholstery. The drive back isn't as silent because of the accompanying thunder. This one time she glances at his profile out of the corner of her eye, and puts her hand on top of where his is resting on the clutch, but he shrugs it off without consciously attempting to do so. Twenty minutes later, he's stopped the car below their apartment, and is staring straight ahead.

And all she wants in that moment is for him to look at her.

She climbs on his lap in the cramped space, the dashboard digging uncomfortably into her back and thinks something like: she's way too old for this; and then thinks that's just sad. She unbuttons the top three buttons of his shirt, swiping her tongue along his collarbone. He sits still, gripping the armrest and why won't he look at her?

"Let's get married," she says desperately, clenching, unclenching her fist against the material of his shirt, "run away. Or something. To a place with a beach because there won't be as much trouble in taking everything off later. I don't even need a ring. I mean, I do. Because who doesn't. But we'll figure that out later. I just need you, okay? Just you."

Jesse's eyes shift from the front window to hers, and she almost wishes he'd look away again, because she can't stand the godforsaken look in his eyes, stand knowing she was the one to put it there.

"Let's get married," she whispers again.

He rubs his forehead wearily, his elbow catching her ribs accidentally and the ache is outside then, and that's better. That's always better.

"I don't think we should be together anymore."

She thinks it'd be poetry if the thunder could just crash then because she's the sort of girl who thinks of things like these at the worst possible moments.

(It doesn't, obviously.)






He's moved out within a week.

She doesn't say thank you and I'm so, so sorry and you'll find someone who deserves you and all the things she should because they're both so terrible at letting go, and she's letting him be the one to do it for the both of them.

(Except he's going to move on, and she's going to still be here, like always, and just this one fucking time, she'd like to be the one who moves on.)

She sends everything back; the pressed rose in the notebook, the notebook, even the tiny Cinderella glass slipper she loves to distraction, because theoretically this is how the moving on thing goes. She knows this stuff, she's Casey McDonald. All she's ever done is try to move on. She keeps the ring though. So obviously she's failing at the one thing she's been trying to do since ever. That would've totally helped her get over the grade-grubber rep in high school.

Marti calls the second after the last of the boxes has been loaded into the mover's van, and Casey doesn't know how she knows, but it's probably that she's psychic; anyway, even if she could muster up the strength to, it's still best not to ask just in case there are hidden videocams involved. She's related to Derek by blood.

"He's a cocksucker," are the first words out of her mouth.

"Marti—" Casey admonishes half-heartedly.

"No," Marti interrupts, all sixteen-year-old soothing charm, "I don't mean that as an insult. That would be politically incorrect and retarded anyway. Which would also be politically incorrect, but I mean, like, literally. He likes to suck dick, he's gay, he plays for the other team, etc."

She has this unholy image of Jesse on his knees with the guy from Blue's recital who was usually fourth on the left, and it makes her giggle slightly, even if it's mostly just hot. And then stop because she is not giggling at her sixteen-year-old stepsister name-calling her ex-boyfriend of less than a week ago.

"How do you figure?" she asks, drawing her knees to her chest. It's mostly just to prolong the conversation, even though the younger girl probably has better things to do.

"He left you," Marti says, simply, "so, obviously."

The tears are unnecessary, unwarranted and totally lame and god Casey, where is the ten second warning? This is so not cool. She gets that from her brother.

Marti sighs dramatically through the phone, "kindly register and store this supreme sacrifice in your photographic memory for further favors but— you wanna watch The Notebook together?"

"But," it's enough to make the tears stop, "you hate The Notebook."

"Ergo that part about the supreme sacrifice," Marti says, sounding like she can't believe Casey manages to get through the days with approximately three functional brain cells (she gets that from her brother too), "come on, Casey, work with me here!"

"You're also in a different city," she continues, uncomprehending.

Marti sighs again, "was the rock comfortable? Y'know, the one you were living under when the y2k revolution happened? Just, put the damn CD in, attach your pendrive to the T.V. or whatever and tell me when to press play. Your other two boyfriends, Ben and Jerry are welcome to join us, because I bet those poor bastards feel left out after I basically took over their jobs for them. Because I'm nice like that. And I need money for a new dress for the dance next Friday. Which are totally unrelated things, but the human mind thinks in a stream-of-consciousness. You minored in Literature, you know this stuff."

Casey smiles, and five minutes later, she's settling back in bed, pulling the blanket up till her chin, remote in hand, "now."

Marti stays on the other end the entire time, moaning about the stupidity of the direction and dialogues and fuck, what the fuck just happened. While she gushes about the gestures and did you see how he just looked at her? And oh my god, she loves him so much. And it's the best day she's had in a long, long while.

The movie is also actually better than she remembers, which she'd have thought impossible.

"You're golden, you'd know that," Marti says fondly just before she hangs up, with the kind of affection she usually reserves for Derek and small furry things, "you're the only person in the world who breaks up with a guy after years and then watches a movie that custom sells true love like its weed and, instead of the splashing-cold-water eye-opener, this-shit-is-stupid-bro, love-is-a-hallmark-myth thing, still buys it by the bale. I mean, you're a moron. But an adorable moron. Like that annoying kid from that one show about something not very interesting."

She bangs the phone down unusually hard, which Casey knows is the symbolic explication of Marti's opinion of her taste in movies. And even though George is probably going to end up in the hospital when faced with the monthly bill for the phone, she feels a little less melodramatic. And a little less alone.






[5]

She'd almost forgotten that feeling of being home. Like stepping into the London Asylum.

"Casey!" Nora exclaims with a smile that possibly eclipses the sun, because she can't see anything, but that may also be because Simon's thrown himself at her and is currently obscuring her vision and pulling at her hair with a concentration worthy of a greater cause.

"Mom," she exclaims in return, wrapping her arms around Nora, and this is being sixteen all over again, and always.

She can almost see Lizzie and Edwin hatching secret middle-children schemes in the games closet, while her mom tries to coax Marti from under the table. The sound of the shower drowns out all the other voices, and she's there, banging on the door, knowing with absolute certainty that he'll use up all the hot water just so he won't have to give her a ride to school in the Prince which George would force him to if they both manage to get ready at around the same time. Please, like she even wants to, like she'd allow even her corpse to be carried to the morgue in that heap of junk where car parts go to wither and die. But when they're both late, he'll wait for her anyway, because she's the one with the gas money.

This is being home.

And then she's twenty-five again because when she looks up, Lizzie's hair has more than a streak of blue and Edwin's carting around college books and lining them in clear sight just in case someone's missed them and Marti's high school leather pants exactly match George's 'this is not a mid-life crisis' leather pants and Nora doesn't ask her about Jesse because Simon's refusing to eat his peas. (Nobody says De-rek even once, because well, he's not here, and he's getting married and somehow he's the one who apparently went and did the Growing Up and Moving On thing without her and she hates him a little for it).

"Where's Derek," she asks casually, at exactly thirteen minutes past nine, when they're sitting down for dinner, because that would totally be a reasonable time for her to start wondering.

"He and Rachel will be here tomorrow," Nora says distractedly, trying to get Simon to eat his peas, "It's unmotherly, but I can't help but be glad the kids will be leaving for the hotel to look after the guests and make room for the 'closest friends' group'. And see if you believe this; Derek wants his room. I don't know how to get it through his head that it'll be impossibly cramped, not to mention they should really be behaving themselves till after the wedding."

Marti giggles and involuntarily she thinks of Jesse and the single bed and all the times she fell off and how nothing had felt better than when that was all there was; just a single bed and him.

"Nora," Edwin drops his fork with a loud clatter, "not while I'm eating."

Lizzie snorts into her spaghetti, and Marti's still giggling, while also managing to stare at her with a sharp look that has her picking up her fork and transferring food to her mouth just to do something.

Marti confronts her after dinner, hand in pocket, which looks like an Olympic feat all on its own. She blocks the staircase with practiced ease, dripping casual menace as Casey tries to sidestep her and fails miserably.

"So," she stops, taking the time to chew her gum and stretching the tension (and maybe she learnt the creation of perfect frames from her brother too), "are you planning on speaking now or forever holding your peace?"

"What," she involuntarily meets the younger girl's indecipherable gaze, "I don't know what you're talking—"

Marti smacks her gum with extra decibels, "…no," Casey ends lamely. Doesn't know how it answers the question, but it's the only answer she has.

Marti stares at her for a long moment, which smacks of melodrama and just a shade too much truth, "for the record? You're an idiot too. You guys suck at the role-model, teach the kids to follow-their-hearts thing. I hope you know that if I grow up to be a cynical, cold-hearted bitch who doesn't believe in anything, it'll be on you and that stupid guy you're totally, completely, utterly not in love with."

She takes the stairs two at a time, and leaves Casey standing there, holding onto the bannister till the color bleeds out of her knuckles.






Even the pictures are the same, even though she'd imagine the people in them couldn't possibly be.

The office looks exactly like she remembers, with the overflowing wastebasket and Paul's trophies and it's ironic how much this feels like home.

"Casey?" Paul's face lights up with something that is part terror and part pleasure and come on, she wasn't that bad.

"I thought you might not remember me," she slings her bag down on the old chair, "I mean, you've got to have a lot of students in here every year."

"Believe me," Paul straightens one of the pictures, and she has a distinct feeling it's to avoid looking at her, "you have nothing to worry about on that count."

"How are the computer science kids this year?" she asks awkwardly, "you still teach that, right? Part-time, I mean?"

"Yes," he begins, "they're—"

"Derek's getting married," she interjects.

He's either really good or she's really predictable, "congratulations!"

She stares at him, disconcerted, "I'm not getting married, Derek's getting married."

Paul's lips have a suspicious twitch about them, "it's a common custom to congratulate the family in such matters."

"Oh," she looks at the slight crack on the edge of the frame. "Please. Like I could be related to him. No single gene pool deals in that sort of mutation. We're not family." She feels like she's had this conversation before, sitting on this very chair, over and over, but she's too exhausted to care that after all this time it's still always him.

Paul, to his credit, doesn't so much as blink an eye, instead clasping his hand on the table, "only technically," he points out mildly.

"Only technically," she echoes.

He conspiratorially leans forward, "how have you been?"

"She's not blonde," she answers, although she doesn't know what the question is.

"Why would you think she'd be blonde?" he easily continues, leaning back in his chair, crossing his arms. The pose is so familiar, she automatically answers with the truth.

"Because of Sally," he looks a little lost so she persists, "you remember, his girlfriend Sally? The one who moved to Vancouver?"

His eyes light in understanding, "the girl was going to quit high school for, if I recall correctly."

He does, "yeah, he was in love with her," out of nowhere she thinks of the refrain of that one song from so long ago, something like and I blame you. She doesn't remember the entire song, but she remembers that, remembers singing it, "the kind of love where pizza tasted better with her and he played harder when she came to watch. She was blonde, you know. Sally. Rachel's not."

"But why," Paul resumes lightly, "would you think Rachel should necessarily be blonde because Sally was?"

"Because," she says, and how is he not getting this? "he was in love with Sally. That kind of love where she could break his ten second tear warning rule and he let her and she could get past his no hugging rule and he tried writing poetry for her and held her hand in public and wanted to leave school, of all the senseless, irresponsible decisions in the world—" she stops,

"And?" Paul questions quietly.

"And," she's never noticed the criss-crossings over the wood of the frame before, it's so tiny, if she wasn't staring so hard at it, she'd probably have missed them. "and, it's just— it's Derek. He has the emotional range of a brick wall. It's like— he exhausted everything he had to give there. With her. What more could he possibly know about being in love?"

"So," Paul begins slowly, "you're mad because he fell in love with a girl who wasn't Sally. Because you'd thought that that was it for him, and it turned out it just…wasn't. That he could love more, could love again, harder perhaps."

"No," she replies hastily, and then laughs for good measure to reiterate how ridiculous that suggestion is, because it is. Ridiculous. "I'm not mad, obviously. It's just illogical."

"Because you thought you'd be the first to move on, get married."

"Yes," she answers absent-mindedly, still fascinated by the wooden markings "wait, what? No."

Paul gives her that look where he does that thing with his eyebrows that lets her know she's not fooling anyone, except perhaps herself, "yes," she admits again in a small voice.

There's a silence in which she thinks of picking up her bag three times and finally picks it the fourth time, "I should really be going. There's so much work to be done at home. It was nice seeing you again."

She's almost at the door, when Paul's voice stops her, "didn't you fall in love with someone else?"

She turns around, holding the strap tightly, "I beg your pardon."

"Didn't you," Paul gestures in a way that takes in the whole room and could mean anything; it's probably the computer science in him, "ever fall in love with anyone else."

"I wasn't ever in love at all," her forehead creases, thinking back.

"Of course," Paul says mildly, eyes guarded, "well, then didn't you fall in love."

"I dated this guy called Jesse for close to four years," she offers, "met him in the year I took off before college, but that didn't—" she falters, and hopes he doesn't ask the why of it, "work out."

"You took a year off before college?" Paul asks, and this time he sounds genuinely surprised.

She nods, "to pursue ballet. It was good while it lasted, but I'm glad I took up Law at Queen's, even though the working hours are insane."

"You're a lawyer?" Paul asks, again with the note of astonishment.

She nods again, turning to leave, "I'm really getting late for—"

"And that," it's the gentleness in Paul's voice that makes her still, "all that stuff. That wasn't important?"

"What?"

"You," Paul does his universal gesture thing again, "told me everything about Derek and nothing about you."

"Well, his marriage is kind of the Big Deal around these days." she snorts, "hard to concentrate on anything else within the McDonald-Venturi madhouse."

"Yes," Paul says, like he's leading somewhere and she keeps missing the point, "for him. And it's important of course, to all of you. But— you said at the beginning yourself— you're not the one getting married, so why is it the most important thing in your life?"

"It's not—" she begins, and then stops at Paul's resigned expression, "I don't know."

Paul leans back further, almost toppling over, and this is something that didn't change, "Derek isn't all who you are, Casey."

"I know that," she insists, because how is that even a statement at all. Of course she knows that. He's not even an iota of her.

"Do you?" is all Paul says cryptically, before she finally closes the door behind her.





[Parts: One Two Three Four]

 
 
 
Florencia: DE (Come Home)florencia7 on July 14th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
I don't know how you can write so perfectly. How every bit of dialogue, every line, every WORD can be exactly where it should be, how it should be. It's amazing. Your characters, "they are people, not puppets that exist for our amusement" (#stefansaysitbest), and I LOVE how real they feel, how vivid, how RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Only such an amazing Writer like you can breathe life into characters & I totally & completely adore this aspect of your writing. If anyone's writing could be evidence to the theory that our world's fictional, and books are real, it would be yours ♥ ♥ ♥