AN: Hi guys! I had every intention of sitting down and writing chapter five of Dear Casey but when I started typing, this is what came out instead. As I started it, I was thinking it was going to be a short one shot but it quickly spiraled beyond my control. I think at last count, according to MS Word, it was like sixteen pages long (single spaced). I was going to just post it all as one chapter because that's how I wrote it but I figured it would be easier to read if I broke it up into chapters so that's what I did. No worries, as a special treat since it did take me a while to update Dear Casey, I'm posting the whole thing all at once. I hope you guys like it.

A litte background info to set up the story: It takes places roughly eleven years into the future. Casey and Derek are around 27years old. They've gotten over their rivalry issues and have fallen into a rather close, comfortable friendship. But being Casey and Derek, bickering and teasing are basically the foundations of that friendship. However, in all the years that have passed, they have never developed a familial bond. Instead, there is this subtle, flirtatious aspect to their interactions with each other that may or may not be subconscious. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my story and please review and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Life With Derek

Chapter One: A Simple Conversation

Casey stood in front of the full length mirror and stared at her reflection. She forced herself to focus on whether or not her hair was perfect, or if her makeup was just right, or if her dress flowed flawlessly around her. Did the necklace she wore really match the bracelet and earrings? Should she have gone with a different bouquet? Did the beading on the shoes really compliment the beading on her gown? Was her train too long? Did the hairstyle really work with the veil and tiara? (Yes, there really was a tiara despite all the cracks Derek had made and her insistence that said alleged tiara didn't exist.) Concentrating on the nitpicky details of her appearance distracted her, albeit only superficially, from the real worries crossing her mind: Was Stefan really the right guy for her? Did she really love him? Did she really want to spend the rest of her life with him?

She let out a labored sigh as she stepped away from the mirror and looked around the room. She'd finally managed to usher out her mother, Lizzie, Marti, Emily, Kendra (amazingly, they'd become great friends since her and Derek had broken up), Elaine (her soon-to-be mother-in-law), the rest of her bridesmaids, the hair-stylist who kept insisting on 'just one last touch-up,' the make-up artist who seemed to think Casey was his very own life-size Barbie (although Casey had to begrudgingly agree as she took one last look at her appearance that the man was a genius), and everyone else who had poked and prodded and pinned things to her and adjusted a hem or had just generally nagged her (although they probably preferred the term 'offered pearls of wisdom') the last five hours.

She realized that now, essentially at the eleventh hour, standing in the dressing room of the elaborately decorated Cathedral, was probably not the best time to be wondering of the rightness of her decision to marry Stefan. Especially since she'd now had twelve months to ponder that decision and the ceremony was scheduled to begin in half an hour. The funny thing was, until just a few days ago she'd never once second-guessed her decision. She'd expected some kind of "cold-feet" but she'd assumed it would have come months ago. Weeks ago even. But not like this. Not so out of left-field. Some doubt, some panic. That, she'd been prepared for. But not this. Not this sense of…sadness? Dread? Discontent? Was that was she felt? Anxiety she was prepared to deal with. But even to her, these feelings she was having seemed odd and out of place.

She walked over to her bouquet and let her finger trace one of the perfect, silky, white, rose buds. And she felt her heart drop. This just isn't right, she thought to herself. And I have exactly thirty minutes to figure it out before I'm expected to march down that aisle and get married.

She let out another frustrated sigh and walked over to the window. Discreetly moving aside the curtain and peeking out at the people milling into the church. They were smiling and obviously excited. And the thing is, they're excited FOR ME, Casey thought peevishly. Fine, I understand that a little nervousness is to be expected, but for crying out loud I'm supposed to be happy. Right?

"Right?" she said out loud to the empty room. She let the curtain fall back into place and paced in the middle of the room. "I should be happy right? And the thing is, I was happy…up until a few days ago. What the hell happened?"

Suddenly there was a knock at the door.

"Mom, Liz, I told you guys I just needed a few moments to myself before the ceremony," she called out, not bothering to hide her irritation. I'll probably have to apologize for that later, she thought to herself, glumly.

"It's not Nora…or Lizzie," the voice called back. Her head swiveled towards the door as she instantly recognized the voice.

"Derek now is not the time to try and get in one last 'Wedding Day Barbie' joke," she returned, rolling her eyes. She heard his snicker at her reply through the door.

"Case, seriously, just let me in." She walked to the door but still refused to open it. Instead she swiveled around as best she could in the gown and leaned heavily against it.

"What do you want, Derek?" she asked tiredly.

"I'm not going to talk to you through the door. Just open up."

"No, everybody knows it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding." She heard him grunt in annoyance and oddly that made her feel better.

"Casey, that doesn't apply. I'm not the groom."

"Are you sure it doesn't extend to disgusting, annoying, jerky step-brothers?"

"I'm sure it does if by 'bride' they actually mean shrieking, irrational, stuck-up, prissy, princess shrew." Casey laughed despite herself and made a show of letting out a belabored sigh of reluctance as she opened the door and let him in.

For a moment they just stood and looked at each other; Derek with his trademark smirk and Casey with a reluctant half-smile. Finally, Derek made the first move.

"Come here, Spacey," he teased as he offered his arms for a hug. Casey easily stepped into the friendly embrace, wrapping her arms around him as she carefully avoided burying her face into his jacket lest she leave traces of her make-up all over him.

"Derek, I'm freaking out," she said in hushed tones as she pulled him further into the room and locked the door behind them. He let out a chuckle at her dramatics as he fell into one of the easy chairs.

"I figured you would be," he replied nonchalantly. "Nice dress by the way."

"No, Derek, I'm serious. And, thanks."

"Looks very expensive. And so does all that jewelry your wearing. Are those diamonds real?" Casey looked down at the necklace around her neck and at the rings and bracelets on her fingers then reached up to feel the drop earring on her ears.

"Yeah probably," she replied distractedly before adding, "but who cares? Did you hear what I said?"

"Yeah, they probably are," Derek replied, effectively ignoring the latter half of her response. "Then again you are marrying Stefan, soccer god. What did the papers call him the other day? The newer, younger, hotter, Beckham?"

"Yeah, I'm seeing a pattern. I can't seem to get away from athletes." Casey's brow furrowed as she pondered that.

"At least you're consistent: Sam, hockey wingman; Max, football captain. There was also that guy Shawn from college, right? Didn't he make it to the Olympic trials for tennis? And now you have Stefan, international soccer super star." Casey sent him a glare but Derek simply smiled.

"Der-rek!"

"What?" He looked at her innocently.

"Can we focus on my problem?" She gave him an irritated look.

"Oh so now you want to talk to me? You didn't even want to let me in when I came here out of my way to offer you my most sincere congratulations and offer my support should you be freaking out like I had a feeling you would be."

Casey quirked an eyebrow.

"Okay, so maybe I wasn't really feeling my role as head usher and decided to duck out in here until the ceremony began. That way, if anybody asked where I was, I could say I was having a sincere heart to heart with my most beloved step-sister."

Casey nodded letting Derek know she accepted that version of the story.

"So," Derek began, leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms behind his neck, "what's this crisis? Tiara not fit right?"

"Shut up, there is no tiara!" Casey automatically replied. Derek gave a pointed look at the tiara affixed atop her head. "Okay, fine, so there is a tiara. Sue me!"

He let out a snicker. Casey crossed her arms and he quickly sobered.

"Okay, fine, seriously, what's the big crisis?"

"I think – I…I…I don't know, I'm having cold feet…or something." Derek almost laughed. She always had to be so dramatic about everything. But the look on her face told him she was serious about this so he held it in.

"I see," he responded. Casey waited for him to continue but when several moments of silence passed, she realized that was all she was getting.

"That's it? 'I see.' That's all you're going to say?" Casey demanded. Derek lowered his arms to the armrests and shrugged as he pulled a face.

"What would you like me to say?" he asked calmly.

"I don't know! Anything more than just, 'I see,'" she huffed.

"Congratulations?" he offered. Casey threw him a look like he'd just spouted a second head.

"What? What do you want from me?" Derek demanded, his voice rising. "What do you want me to say? I'll say it."

"Oooh! You are so infuriating!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands up.

"Why are you taking this out on me? You're the one having cold feet." Casey shot him with a withering look.

"Yeah, but this is all your fault!" Derek shot up to his feet at the accusation.

"Have you finally lost your mind? How the hell is this my fault?"

"Because," Casey rebutted. "Because everything was fine until a few days ago when you opened your big mouth."

Derek stared at her dumbly for a moment before responding. "Okay. Do you want to run that one by me again?"

She let out a slow exhale before she launched into her rational for why it was all Derek's fault.

"Do you remember a few night ago when we had that rehearsal dinner?" She looked at Derek and waited for his nod before continuing. "Anyway, afterwards you, me, and the fam went back to the house for 'one last night together as a family under the same roof' or whatever it is my mom called it."

"Yeah I remember," Derek said when she paused.

"Yeah, so later I went down to the kitchen for some cookies and milk but you were already there with the cookies and milk. And that's when you did it. You asked me that stupid question," she finished with a flourish as though the last statement explained everything.

Derek just looked at her so she prodded him.

"Well?" she pressed.

"Case, we talked for like an hour that night. What question are you talking about?"

"What question?" she parroted. "The question. The one that has plagued me since then. The one that is ruining my perfect wedding to my international soccer god!"

Derek's mouth quirked at the end of her tirade.

"I can't believe I just said that," she lamented. "This is so your fault too. I can't believe you got me calling him that."

"Me? I never called him that."

"Yeah you did. Like five minutes ago."

"No. I do believe I used the phrases, 'soccer god' and 'international soccer super star.'"

"Same difference."

"Nope. I'm pretty sure the nuances are quite different."

"Whatever. Anyway, where was I?"

"The question that changed your life."

"Thanks. So yeah, it's all your fault because you asked me that stupid question and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since."

"Casey, your obsessiveness has nothing to do with me."

"Well you shouldn't ask a happily engaged woman that question in the first place. Not when her wedding is just days away. And 'obsessiveness' isn't even a word," she shot back.

"Well if a woman is so happily engaged, I would think no amount of questions would shake that happiness. And are you sure it's not a word?" Derek crinkled his brow as he thought it over.

"Pretty sure. And even if a person was happily engaged, it doesn't mean they're immune to other people purposely implanting doubts just to mess with said happily engaged person."

Derek gave her a blank look. Casey caught it and suddenly made a throwing motion toward him with her arm.

"I'm angry with you and I'm pretending I'm throwing something at you," Casey answered his unasked question.

"Why?" Derek asked like he would a person in the midst of an emotional breakdown why they wanted to head up to the roof.

"Because we're in a church and I don't think you get heaven points for breaking things in a sacred place."

"Ah, it all makes sense now." Casey went on as though Derek hadn't responded.

"And I know you know what I was trying to say earlier so stop looking at me like you don't. I mean, yeah, okay it was all garbled but I know you got my gist."

Derek waited a beat until he was sure she didn't plan on throwing anymore invisible items at him.

"Okay fine. You blame me because I supposedly asked you some inappropriate question the other night. What was it? It couldn't possibly be as bad as you're making it out be. I mean, I didn't ask you to sleep with me or anything did I? Because I'm pretty sure I would have remembered that and zeroed in on that as the issue a lot sooner."

"No, you did not ask me to sleep with you," she ground out.

"Ah, good. Then I wasn't that wasted." Casey made an indecipherable noise in response.

"Did you just growl at me?"

"DER-REK!"

"Sorry," he said contritely. "Do continue."

Casey took in a deep breath and Derek was positive she was trying to prevent herself from yelling.

"You asked, and I quote 'How do you know when it's true love?'" She made an elaborate hand gesture when it took him just a moment longer than she'd like to respond.

"Oh, that's it?" This time she didn't hold back on the yelling.