Alright, so this one has been sitting around, unfinished, on my computer for a week or two now. I decided to finish it tonight, so here we go. It's very OOC, I warn you, and I personally don't feel too confident about it, but let me know how you liked it. And by the way, the whole fight is not shown in italics (which is the scenes with the fight, lol ) so keep that in mind :)

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Her Gaurdian Angel

"I heard it took four paramedics to pry her out of her boyfriend's arms."

Those were the first words that met Casey's ears when she walked through the doors of Thompson High on Monday morning, after almost a month of absence. She was positive that the news about her boyfriend's recent death had to have died down by now, but she realized that her return to school, after a month's absence, was going to jumpstart some definite rumors, and some more scattered truth. She'd heard it all so far. She'd heard that she had been attempting to jump from the car after a fight with him. She'd heard that he'd been suicidal, and had purposely driven them both off of the road. She'd heard that they'd both been drunk.

But there was truth to some of their stories. It was true the two of them had been fighting when they'd driven off the road. It was also true that she'd threatened to jump from the car at the time. But it wasn't like she'd been serious. They'd been fighting; they never meant anything they said when they were fighting.

But there was one snippet of information that reminded her that some stories could remain entirely true, without any interference.

It truly had taken four paramedics to pull her out of Derek's arms that night. By the time they had found her, she had been sobbing into his chest, clinging helplessly to him, begging him to come back to her. At the very moment he had died, he had tightened his grip on her, almost as though the only thing he cared about anymore was protecting her. And he had.

"Casey," Ms.Zeldin called, coming out from around the corner of the hallway. As Casey turned, trying to juggle her books with her good arm, she saw the teacher's eyes soften considerably. She came up next to the teenager, and placed a hand on her shoulder in what Casey could only guess was supposed to be a comforting grip.

"I was so sorry to hear about the accident." she said, not avoiding the subject at all. "How are you, dear?"

Casey's eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. How the hell did she think she was doing? Her boyfriend had just been killed, she had just spent two weeks in hospital, and another two stuck at home, trying to recover physically, and emotionally.

"Um, terrible." she said slowly, giving her teacher an expression that clearly stated 'duh'.

The teacher frowned, catching onto Casey's obvious negativity. Ms.Zeldin was always quick to bounce back though, and she immediately allowed the corners of her mouth to turn up in a smile.

"I've truly missed having you in my classes." she said, referring to her Theatre lessons. "You're such a magnificent addition to any class, and that stepbrother of yours, he-"

She trailed off a weird look coming over her face.

"I'd best be going." she said, before patting Casey's shoulder and darting off in the other direction, a furious blush creeping onto her cheeks.

The lump in the back of Casey's throat grew steadily, and all she wanted to do was break down and cry, then and there. She wasn't ready for this, she shouldn't have come back so soon. Physically, her body was beginning to recover. Her cuts and gashes had faded into thin white scars, her sprained ankle had tapered off to a faint limp, and the cast had come off of her right arm three days before, leaving it only bandaged.

But emotionally, she was like a bubble waiting to burst. Every single comment someone made to her about the accident, or about Derek, tore at her heart, like someone was just standing outside the bubble, prodding at it with a needle.

And she wasn't quite sure how much more of this she could take. Everytime she heard his name, the emotion of it all seemed to cause that lump in the back of her throat to grow bigger and bigger, and she knew it was only a matter of time before it all blew up in her face.

She made her way slowly down the hall, and stopped at her locker, trying to shift her books to her good arm. As she did, they slid over the side of her arm, and fell to the ground. She groaned, frustrated, and she saw a few nearby people give her a look of pity. She knew how they were viewing her, as some poor, innocent, depressed soul with no one to help her. She bent to retrieve her books, but stopped when she saw another, more masculine, hand reach down ahead of hers and close over her blue binder.

She looked up, half afraid of who this mystery person was, to see Max, giving her a weird sorrt of look. He handed her the binder, before picking up the rest of her books, and storing them carefully on the middle shelf of her locker. She stood back up, placing the binder in on top of the books, before turning to him.

"Um, thanks." she said nervously, frowning. Her and Max had remained friends after their breakup two months before. But sometimes, it was incredibly akward being around him. Especially when the whole school had just found out that she'd secretly been seeing her stepbrother behind everybody's back since a year before.

And apparantly, Max had heard.

"A year, Casey?" he asked, sounding angry. "You were going out with him for a year, and you never bothered to let me know? You never thought it would be appropriate to tell me that you had another boyfriend during those three months we went out? What was I, some sort of cover?"

Casey bowed her head shamefully, blushing. She didn't want to admit it, but Max really had been a cover. Kendra had been Derek's. They'd both felt ashamed to be using people like they had been doing, but it was too much of a risk to stay single. If anyone had ever suspected that they were together, all hell would've broke loose.

"I'm... I'm sorry." she stammered out, forcing herself to look into his eyes, but feeling unworthy at the same time. She felt so dirty, so unclean... she felt like a slut. "I never wanted to hurt you, I really never. You're a really sweet guy and everything..."

"Did you ever really love me?" he choked out, sounding more hurt than angry by now. "Maybe it's my fault. I mean, you turned me down about twelve times, and all of a sudden you were all over me. I should've suspected something was up then. But really, to use me like that, to lead me on? How could you?"

"I really can't talk about this right now, Max." she whispered, closing her eyes, and willing the pounding in her brain to go away. "Please, just drop it."

"No, I won't damn well drop it." he hissed, his anger creeping up again. "I want to know why you fucked with my emotions, Casey."

'Derek, help me out here.' she begged in her mind. 'You were right, you were right all along. This was wrong, this was so, totally, utterly wrong. We wound up hurting innocent people, and I was too scared to face that.'

She knew it was no use. Derek couldn't hear her. Derek was dead, and he wasn't going to come back. It'd been her fault of course. If she'd just listened to him from the beginning... if she'd just let their relationship be public... like he'd told her to do...

"Max... I can't deal with you right now." she said, opening her eyes to see his angry ones looking right back at her. "I really can't. I've got to go."

With that, she closed her locker, and limped down the hallway away from him.

"There you go. Always walking away from everything." he called after her, laughing bitterly, hurt and pain lingering on his every syllable. "You can't deal with me now, and you couldn't deal with telling the whole school you were fucking around with your stepbrother for a year, could you? But I guess you're right, huh? Like usual. Scandals are sometimes better kept a secret."

At the sound of his words, she twirled around, advancing on him angrily. She shoved him hard against the lockers, feeling pain shoot through her already weakened body. His eyes widened in surprise, and he gulped nervously. She raised a finger, pointing it threateningly towards his face.

"Don't you ever say that again." she hissed, wanting to smack him across the face. "Derek and I were not a scandal, and I wasn't fucking around with him. We had a relationship, and an excellent one at that."

"Oh yeah?" Max said, raising an eyebrow in amusement. "If it was so great, why didn't you want to go public with it?"

She searched his eyes for a moment, before recognizing defeat. She let go of the collar of his shirt, which she had been using to pull him to her, and she let out a slow and patient breath, feeling the lump in her throat grow bigger and bigger, before wandering off down the hall, alone.

Alone. Maybe she would always be alone, now. But it was her own fault. If she had just listened to Derek from the beginning... none of this would've happened.

- - - - -

"I'm telling you, Casey." Derek was saying, as they drove down the highway. "This sneaking around thing, it isn't working."

"So what?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him. "You want to break up with me, is that what you're saying? You want to throw a year's worth of memories out the window?"

Derek's eyes widened, and his face paled. He spared her a quick look, before grabbing her hand a squeezing it tightly.

"Never, Casey." he said, kissing her hand gently, while keeping his eyes on the road. "I'm never going to break up with you. We're engaged, doesn't that mean something? It's a promise, Casey. A promise that we're going to be together forever. I wouldn't have proposed to you if I had any intentions on breaking up with you."

Casey relaxed a bit. glancing down at the engagement ring that glistened on a chain around her neck. Since their relationship was a secret, she'd been forced to wear it on a chain, tucked under her shirt, away from public view. She smiled softly, remembering the day, on their eleven month anniversary, when Derek had proposed to her. It had been a month before, and they both understood that they were too young to be married.

But it was a promise that, eventually, it would happen. Just not before graduation.

"So what are you trying to say?" she asked, sighing as she rubbed tiny circles on his wrist with her thumb. "I mean, sneaking around keeps our relationship together."

"I want to go public, Casey." he said, for what felt like the hundredth time. "I've told you so many times before. I'm not ashamed of you. If I lose my reputation, so be it. I'll be graduating in a few months time, anyway. It's not like it's going to matter."

"It's not your reputation I'm worried about, believe it or not." Casey said, rolling her eyes. "There are other things in life besides your precious rep."

"Really?" Derek asked, in mock surprise. "Hmm, and I thought that was everyone's main priority."

Casey rolled her eyes, smacking his shoulder playfully.

"Derek, be serious." she said, leeaning back. "It's really not the reputation thing I'm worrying about. It's just... what is everyone going to say? What if our parents split us up?"

"They can't do that." he argued, shaking his head. "Well, not for very long, anyway. If we told them, the longest they could split us up for is a month. I'm already eighteen, and you turn eighteen in a month's time, right? So what's the problem?"

Casey fell silent. The problem wasn't his reputation. It wasn't even her fear of being seperated from him, although that played a large role in it, too. She couldn't bear the thought of being seperated from him. But an even larger part of her knew that, if they went public, she was open to public insult and criticism, and so was Derek. And Derek, he had a tendency of cracking under pressure. What if it was too much for him? What if he couldn't handle it, and broke up with her?

Two months. Two months and school would be over, and she wouldn't have to worry about what everyone thought. School would be over, and her and Derek would be free to go off to Toronto for university, like they'd been planning, and start over. Start off in a place where nobody knew who they were, and what their history was.

A place where nobody knew they were stepsiblings.

- - - - -

"Happy Birthday, Case." Sam said, coming up to Casey and enveloping her in a hug. She quickly returned it, loving the feeling of having someone who still cared about her. "How are you holding up?"

"Thanks, Sam." she said, giving him a half-smile. "And I'm doing okay, physically."

"And emotionally?" he asked, placing an arm around her shoulders and walking down the hall with her. She found his attitude to be very friendly; in fact, it was almost too friendly. She shifted uncomfortably, feeling akward at the feeling of his arm holding her tighter. She decided to ignore it, for now. She was probably overreacting, anyway. Sam had been one of the five people who knew about their relationship. Between him, Emily, Edwin, Lizzie, and Marti, it had been a well kept secret.

"I'm... awful." she said, shrugging. "I haven't seen much of you since the funeral."

Sam shrugged, looking unmoved.

"Yeah, well... I haven't been around much." he said, before blushing. "Coach had me take over Derek's spot on the team the day after the funeral, so I've had alot of practice to-"

"The day after the funeral?" she spat out, shoving his arm away. "They replaced him that quickly?"

Sam winced at her anger, but nodded, giving a careless shrug.

"Well, yeah." he said, sounding unconcerned. "I mean, it's hockey, Case. He's trying to get the team organized for hockey season next year, so he wanted to make sure I-"

"Forget it." Casey said quietly, not wanting to listen to anymore of Sam's explanations. "You're right; it's just a hockey position. It wasn't who Derek was. It was just a game."

"You really miss him, huh?" Sam asked, slinging his arm around her shoulders again and leading her down the hall.

Casey felt the emotion tear at her heart again, and that persistant lump in her throat was beginning to cut off what little breathing she had. She needed to cry, she had to cry. But she didn't want to. Crying would be completely admitting to the world that Derek had been right. Going public would've been the right thing to do; and, essentially, she had been the one to cause his death. If she hadn't of distracted him from the road so much... he might've never gotten into that accident.

- - - - -

Twenty minutes later, they were still arguing. She had told Derek her real reason for not wanting to go public, and he wasn't reacting to it very well.

"Jesus Christ, Casey." Derek spat out, barely watching the road anymore. "You honestly think I'd break up with you if everyone criticized us? Do I look like I'm that big of a prick?"

"Well you do have a tendency of giving up on things that you can't handle. Why should this be any different?"

Hurt flashed across Derek's face, and his face instantly fell, disappointed. He turned his gaze back to the road, his eyes looking pained and distant.

"I'm sorry." she said, frowning. She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Derek, I'm sorry. I love you, okay? I should have more faith in you, but-"

"No." he said quickly, shaking his head and swallowing hard. "You're right. I do have a tendency of lying, and of giving up on things that don't matter." he admitted, frowning. "But, Casey... we matter. This relationship is so meaningful to me. I wouldn't be able to just give it up, just like that. I mean, do you really think that I'd break up with you for something that insignificant?"

She paused, thinking hard, before nodding slowly.

"Sometimes, I have to wonder." she admitted, frowning. "I really want to have complete faith in you, Derek. And I know how much you love me... but I honestly don't think you have that sort of self-control. If it came down to it...to our relationship, or your reputation... I don't know how straight your thoughts would be, anymore."

He stared at her for a moment, before turning back to face the front of the car, his eyes narrowed into angry little slits.

"Fuck this." he muttered, speeding up a little bit. "If this is what I get for taking you out for a weekend, I'll never fucking do it again. I should've known there was a good reason you didn't want to go public with me, and now I know. You think I'm a complete dick."

"Derek, that's not it at all."

"Because, you know, most asshole's lie to their parents about where they'll be all weekend to take their girlfriend up to a cabin for the weekend, just so they can have some alone time." he noted sarcastically, his voice cracking slightly. "Where were you supposed to be again, Casey? Emily's? That was what you told your mother, right? So why'd you lie to her to sneak away for a weekend with a loser like me, huh?"

"Derek-"

"Or maybe you secretly like having to use Max as a cover." he suggested, cringing at the thought. "Is that it, Casey? Do you like Max?"

"Derek, of course I don't like Max." she assured him, shaking her head. "I love you, you know I do."

"Or maybe-"

"Derek, this is ridiculous!" she yelled.

"Oh, is it?" he cried, whipping around. "Well maybe, you need to start giving our relationship some serious evaluation."

Casey rolled her eyes, before turning face forward again, her arms folding across her chest.

"Whatever..." she murmered, before seeing that Derek was swerving right out of his lane. "Derek..." she whispered fearfully.

"I want everyone to know we're together, Case." he assured her, his eyes not leaving her face. "I don't want to hide it anymore."

"Derek..." she tried again, as a transport truck came closer and closer to them, it's headlights standing out against the black night sky.

"I mean, you're my girlfriend. If I want to kiss you, I should be able to do it somewhere other than a dark closet, or in the middle of the night when the rest of the family is asleep. I should be able to kiss you whenever I want to kiss you."

"Derek, there's a-"

"All I know is I can't take anymore of this secrecy, anymore." he informed her, trying to sound stronger than he really was. "It's not fair to you, to me, to the people we're using... or to anyone we're lying to. We need to face this maturely, Casey. And I know that sounds weird coming from me, but it's true. I don't want to keep lying to anyone."

"So tell me, Casey." he whispered, sounding frightened. "What will it be? Are you going to go public with me? Or do we need to end this right now, before we wind up hurting more people than we already have?"

Casey was so shocked by the fact that he was giving her an ultimatum such as this that she was rendered completely silent for a moment, his words echoing through her mind. Out of the corner of her eye, she could still see the transport truck, only moments away, now. But somehow, his words had left her completely speechless.

"D-Derek, I-"

Boom!

It only took a matter of two seconds for them to be thrust into complete and total darkness. Her answer to his question was swallowed up instantly in the night, unknown to anyone but her.

- - - - -

"Casey?" Sam asked, sounding concerned. "I asked you if you miss Derek."

Casey shook out of her trance, realizing that Sam was talking to her, and she frowned, nodding her head slowly.

"Yeah, of course I miss him; that's a stupid question." she scoffed, looking disgusted with him, but then remembering that he was practically the only person she had left, besides Emily. Her mother and George were mad at her for keeping everything a secret from them. Max was mad at her for using him. She knew Kendra was going to be mad at her when she saw her. And Derek... he was dead. Everything was going downhill for her now, and she found it impossible to believe that only a month before, she'd been arguing with Derek over something that she would now do more than willingly. Because she knew, judging by everyone's reactions, that it would've been better off to go public from the start. People weren't disgusted by the fact that she had been dating her stepbrother, they were more disgusted with the fact that they'd been using people all along.

"Yeah, I miss him, too." Sam admitted, sighing. "But, you know, I'm glad we've got each other to lean on."

Something in his voice made Casey feel uncomfortable, and she squirmed akwardly.

"Um, yeah." she said, her instincts telling her to leave now. But she had recently learned that her instincts only brought unhappiness, so she nodded, forcing a smile. "Me too."

"So I was thinking," Sam started, clearing his throat. "Maybe me and you could hang out one night this week. I mean, we're basically each other's support system, and-"

She stopped walking, and Sam took a moment to stop. He turned back to her, his arm still lingering in midair. As he dropped it, he backtracked, taking a few steps back towards her.

"Wait a second." Casey said, her eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. "Are you... asking me out... like, on a date?"

Sam stuffed one hand in his pocket, and grasped the strap of his backpack with the other, shuffling his feet nervously. He bit his lower lip for a moment, apparantly lost in thought, before nodding.

"Yeah, I guess I am." he admitted, giving her a casual grin. "So, uh... what do you think?"

Casey raised an eyebrow, taking a step towards Sam. She chewed on her lower lip, pretending to be thinking hard, before she took the final step, practically pressing him up against the lockers. He gulped nervously, a smirk creeping onto his face. Casey leaned in close, like she was going to kiss him. She took a hold of the collar of his shirt, pulling him closer, and looking him right in the eye.

"Sam..." she said slowly, her eyes scanning is.

He smirked happily, probably thinking that he'd won; that she was going to agree to a date with him. He raised an eyebrow in anticipation.

"Yeah?" he asked, sounding arrogant and cocky.

She moved closer, so that her lips hovered right over his. He gulped in happy surprise, awaiting the feeling of her lips on his.

Instead, he felt her hand come in contact with his cheek as she slapped him, hard. He cursed silently, raising a hand up to his cheek and rubbing there gently, trying to soothe his wound. She shoved him hard against the lockers, giving him a death glare.

"How the hell could you even ask me that?" she practically screamed in his face. "Derek's been dead... what? A month? And you think it's appropriate to ask me out? You already took his hockey position, and if you think I haven't noticed how you've risen to take his spot at the top of the school, you're crazy. But what now, you want to take the only girl he's ever loved?"

Sam snorted, rolling his eyes.

"Love, Casey?" he laughed, looking amused. He smirked in some sick sense of self-confidence, and shook his head. "Derek Venturi never loved. He didn't know how to love."

This only earned him another slap across the face, and Casey shook her head, shoving his shoulder again.

"That's what you think, is it?" she snapped, giving a cruel laugh. "You don't even know how wrong you are. Derek knew how to love, even if he never showed it a whole lot. He loved his entire family, both McDonalds and Venturis, and he loved me, more than anything. And you want to know something else?" she asked, her voice dropping considerably to a tone that suggested superiority. "He loved his friends, too. And that included you. It's just pretty sad that his best friend can't even pay his respect, and miss him for maybe... oh, I dunno, a few months, before he tries to take away everything that mattered to him."

Sam winced, clearly affected by Casey's words, but he shook his head, trying to act as though her words didn't hurt him.

"Come on, Casey." he said, pleading. "Of course Derek mattered to me. He's my best friend. But... you broke up with me, remember? Not the other way around. Derek knew I still liked you, even when you guys started going out."

"What does that have to do with it?" she cried, laughing coldly. The little hope in Sam's face died away, and he frowned. "It doesn't matter if you still liked me. If you cared that much about me, not to mention Derek, you would've been happy for us."

"You were mine first." he argued, glaring at her.

Casey laughed, rolling her eyes, and backing away from him.

"I'm not having this discussion with you." she said, shaking her head in disgust. She took a few steps down the hall, before turning around, a pained expression on her face.

"Oh, and Sam?" she called back, watching as he stood in shock against the locker, too surprised to even move. He looked up, his gaze nervous and confused.

She gave him a sad sort of smile, this one showing no hint of anger, only sadness, and despair.

"You never had me first." she said, shaking her head. His eyes filled with obvious confusion, and she went on. "It was always Derek."

She left Sam to try and figure that out, and dashed down the hall, trying to get away from Sam, away from Max, away from every single person who was making what little sanity she had evaporate into thin air. SHe knew she should never have come back so soon. She should've taken her mother's suggestion, and just finished the last month of school from home. She had thought that she'd be able to handle it.

She knew now that she couldn't. Maybe she never would.

"Casey!"

Casey groaned, wondering who the hell could possibly be here to make her down go downhill even more. She closed her eyes briefly, praying for it to be anybody but...

"Kendra." she said quietly, cringing. "Of course..." she muttered under her breath, watching as Kendra approached her with four or five other girls in tow. Casey took a brief moment to wonder why girls always had to travel in packs. They would be less threatening if they just travelled solo.

"So you thought you could just fuck around with my boyfriend and I wouldn't mind?" she snarled, walking towards her hastily, a scowl on her face that Casey feared. "You didn't think I'd find out?"

Before she was even within hitting distance, Casey turned, and with the little energy and willpower she had left, she tore down the hall, ignoring the blazing pain that was shooting through her injured leg. She could hear Kendra and her friends calling after her, telling her to come back and face the music, but there was nothing that Casey could face, anymore. She'd taken enough.

She ran as fast as she could, until she was outside of the school, where she went around to the side of the building, bending over with her hands on her knees, attempting to catch her breath.

Once she had caught her breath, she straightened up, leaning back against the brick building and allowing her eyes to flutter shut. She felt the wind ruffle through her hair, sending it whirling around her face, but she completely ignored it.

"Derek... help." she whispered under her breath, understanding that he was gone, but hoping that he could somehow hear her. "How the hell could you just leave me in this mess? Everybody's turning against me. And I understand that this is all my fault... I know that none of this would've happened if I had just listened to you from the beginning, but I need your help."

There was no response, the wind only blew harder against her face. She felt her throat close off even further. Anymore, and she was sure she would pass out. It was all building up, and she couldn't take much more of it. She vaguely wondered if this feeling had been what Derek felt before he died; the feeling of not being able to breathe.

- - - -

"Derek..." Casey was sobbing, lying next to him on the side of the road, after being tossed from the vehicle violently. She had awoken five minutes before to find herself lying on her back, surrounded by rocks and glass. Derek had been lying on his back about seven feet away from her.

She'd used every ounce of her energy to pull herself over to where he was lying. He was in terrible shape. He had a gash on his forehead, one that was bleeding rather badly, and half of his clothes were ripped open. Every ounce of skin that she could see was covered by gashes and the outlines of bruises, and he was still unconcious by the time she had reached him. His chest was still rising and falling as he struggled to breathe, and she could hear his breaths coming in shorter and deeper rasps.

"Derek, c'mon... w-wake up." she breathed out, feeling a sharp pain shoot through her lungs. "C-Come on... you gotta wake up."

Derek groaned, attempting to shake his head.

"I am awake..." he managed to get out, swallowing hard. He coughed, and winced. "Case, I'm r-really sorry."

"For what?" she asked, confused. "You never d-did anything wrong."

He managed to shake his head slightly, signalling that she was wrong.

"I didn't want to f-fight with you." he choked out, his breathing getting shallower by the minute. "And if you... weren't ready to tell everybody, I should've been more understanding. I never meant to put you on the... on the spot."

"We can go public." she whispered, clutching at his shirt, trying to keep him awake. "Okay? We can do whatever you want."

Derek managed to laugh, and she felt her heart clench when he shook his head, signalling that they weren't going to do anything of the sorts.

"You honestly think I'm g-going to survive this?" he asked, pain filling his features instantly. She had to commend him for trying to stay brave though, for he was trying to put on a strong front. Casey, however, wasn't as strong, and she began to cry.

"Don't cry, Casey." he said, giving her a gentle smile. "I d-don't like it when p-people look at me and cry. Makes me feel unloved and ugly."

Casey almost smiled at his attempt at humor, but one look at the blood on his forehead and chest snapped her back into reality. She let out another muffled sob, shaking her head.

"You'll be fine." she tried to tell him, though she knew she was trying to convince herself of this as much as she was to him. "You've got to be. You're strong, you're tough..."

"Well th-thanks for the compliment, Case." he choked out, before he trailed off, coughing violently. "Listen... it'll be okay. Just try to st-stay awake as long as possible..."

Casey shook her head as Derek used his little strength to gather her into his arms, holding her closely. He managed to smile up at her, but she could tell he was emotionally torn up over this.

"Derek, don't do this." she begged him, frowning. "You're stronger than this."

"Tell everyone else that I'm gonna m-miss them..." he stammered, coughing again. "Marti, Liz, Ed, our p-parents... our friends..."

"You can tell them whatever you want yourself, 'cause you're going to make it." she said, trying her best to sound confident.

"Don't fool yourself, Case." he whispered, shaking his head. His eyes started to flutter shut, and he pulled her even closer to his chest. "I'm really sorry."

Casey could hear ambulances approaching far off in the distance, and it only occured to her then that there had been another vehicle involved in the accident. She barely spared a thought for the other occupants, for her mind was too focused on keeping Derek awake, on keeping him alive and breathing.

"Help will be here soon." she promised, nodding. "Just hold on until then."

"Goodbye, Case." he whispered against her ear, his voice coming out in a breathy whisper. "Move on, please... tell everyone I'll m-miss them... and remember that I love you."

"Derek, no!"

But a moment later, she felt his grip on her tighten protectively, and his chest stopped rising and falling. She knew then that he'd taken his last breath. Derek was gone. His last bit of energy had been used to say goodbye to her, and to protect her.

And not a second later, the ambulances and other emergency behicles began to arrive on the scene, the red and orange lights flashing across the dark pavement crazily. But Casey didn't care now if they showed up or not. It was too late to save Derek. And, in turn, too late to save her. Emotionally, anyway.

- - - -

Casey felt the tears start to slip down her face as she remembered that night's events. Everything had come out into the open after that. It had been out of some twisted respect for Derek's memory that she had brought their relationship out into the open. It would've been so easy to ignore the fact that it had ever happened, and no one would ever be any the wiser. But somehow, she was unsatisfied with this choice. So she'd told everyone, and accepted the consequences.

And this was where it left her. Her parents were disappointed in her for lying, her classmates looked down on her for playing with Max's feelings, while at the same time pitied her situation, and Derek's own best friend had disrespected Derek's memory. She felt tears pouring heavily from her eyes, and she attempted to wipe them away, but it was no use.

"McDonald!"

Casey turned to see that Kendra and her friends had finally caught up with her, and that they weren't anymore pleased to see her now than they had been five minutes before. She cursed silently under her breath, before taking a few steps towards her enemies.

"Look, Kendra..." she started nervously. "I'm really sorry we hurt you."

"If you wanted to have some sick sort of incestous fling with your stepbrother, that's fine, but did you really have to drag me and Max into it?" she asked, glaring at Casey. "Did you guys have to use us as covers? We aren't desperate, you know. There's plenty of people who like us for who we are."

"We never meant to..." Casey trailed off, her entire body shaking violently as they the girls began advancing towards her, causing Casey to back towards the sidewalk fearfully.

"God, don't you have any sort of control over your own hormones?" Kendra spat at her, and Casey barely even noticed that she was slowly backing out onto road, where six lanes of traffic were currently speeding by, trying to overcome the morning rush. "You don't mess with people above your standards, McDonald. And, here's a tip for you. Derek Venturi, he was way above your standards... or... at least, I thought he was."

"N-No... he wasn't." Casey managed to stammer out nervously. "He didn't care about that stuff."

"Oh, didn't he?" Kendra laughed. "Sure, he never. You can keep fooling yourself, Casey, and I'll just stick to what I know is true. Derek never even wanted you. Guys like him, they act through their hormones. And tust me, you were nothing more than another way for him to relieve some stress."

Casey didn't let Kendra's words affect her. She knew that what she and Derek had had been one hundred percent, totally, completely real. Nothing that Kendra, Max, or Sam did or said could change what she knew. Smirking coldly, yet feeling an odd, unsatisfied feeling grow in the pit of her stomach, she reached for the chain around her neck, with the engagement ring attached, and held it in front of her shirt for the other girls to see.

"If Derek didn't love me, explain why he proposed to me two months ago." she said, an odd sense of superiority coming over her.

Kendra's eyes widened in surprise, defeat, and shock, and her mouth fell open as she shook her head.

"No way." she murmered, disbelieving. Her eyes narrowed angrily at Casey, and she dashed forward. "You're lying. Let me see."

'Please, Derek, please.'

And as Casey practically jumped backwards to get out of the way of Kendra, for fear of the girl taking the one thing that meant something to her anymore, she heard the screeching of brakes coming closer, and the sound of nearby people yelling for her, or Kendra, to get out of the road. She couldn't tell which one of them was in the path of the car, but her last coherent thought was that she almost hoped it was her. Anything to take her away from all of this pain, all of this misery.

At this point, she'd wish for anything to get her out of this mess that Derek had left her to deal with all on her own.

Moments later, she knew for certain which one of them had been in the path of danger. She could see, from the corner of her eye, that Kendra had gotten out of the way in time and, for reasons unknown, was extending a hand to pull Casey back onto the sidewalk.

Casey half contemplated allowing herself to be pulled to safety. It was what Derek would have wanted. He'd wanted her to stay safe. And besides, hadn't her family suffered enough, lately? Between Derek's death, and the freshly revealed secret, she rather felt that they didn't deserve to be put through anymore pain and suffering.

But her own pain outweighed her will to live, and her moment's hesitance had cost her the chance to be rescued. The next thing she felt was the feeling of being struck from the side. She expected the pain to be brutal. She expected it to be excruciatingly unbearable, to the point that she would close her eyes and pray to die. But nothing happened. She could feel herself go flying through the air, and the next second, she realized that she was on the ground. All around her, people were staring at her, some of their mouths open in screams that Casey's ears would never hear. She wondered why they were so awestruck at her appearance, for nothing had happened. She was perfectly fine, wasn't she?

But suddenly, she noticed that her vision was slowly blurring, and her breathing was slowly becoming shallower. It was the only thing that she was aware of. She tried to turn her head, but found that she couldn't. From the corner of her eye, she could vaguely see that there was blood all around her. It had to be her own blood. Nobody else had been injured.

She was vaguely aware of the fact that she was still clutching the engagement ring in her hand. She tried to let go, but found that all movement was basically impossible, at this point. Slowly, she felt herself slipping away from conciousness. Her last thought was of Derek, and how everything they'd ever been through, from the beginning of their relationship, had brought her here. Lying on the pavement, dying, but happy for an escape from the hell that Derek's death had caused.

The last thing she saw was a face come closer to hers. She couldn't tell who it was, but they had a distinct glow about them, something that told her someone was there for her. Someone was looking out for her. Someone was the reason that she couldn't feel any of this pain.

And as Casey McDonald drew in her last breath, with dozens of students milling around, shocked and distraught by the second death of a student in a month's time, she caught a brief glimpse of who her protector was. She should've known all along. She had, after all, been begging for his help.

It was Derek, as usual, using every ounce of power he had, to ensure that Casey was protected from all pain. To ensure that she would never have to feel the destruction that had been inflicted upon her body.

Because Casey had one hell of a gaurdian angel.


Like I said, I am not too confident about this one, and don't bother mentioning that they were OOC, because I am aware :) hehe, anyways, review please.