A/N: Yep, I did decide to post something else I found already complete on my computer. And thank you again to all those of you that reviewed my last one-shot and for encouraging me to post my other recently found stories of possibly questionable quality.
Though all of you readers of this category are fantastic and one of the reasons I decided to take another chance with a work that I can't remember the reason I didn't originally post upon completion, you weren't the only reason. This week has been…craptastic. Three papers (one of which I still have to write) and one group project presentation in four days and to say the presentation was train wreck would be putting it nicely. I've gotten maybe ten hours of sleep in the last four nights and after a long day of classes in my last one when I'm supposed to be working on a group project that is my final my partner asks, "What are we doing?" I'm not a violent person, but it took all my willpower not to hit him throughout the rest of class. We've only been discussing this huge, counts-for-half-our-grade project since the first week of the quarter nine weeks ago. And had he done any of the reading for the course so he was prepared to do the project? Of course not. Did he even have any thoughts about any topic our class has covered? Nope. So I'm going to spend the next two days writing a paper and then doing our part of our project by myself. So, basically, I decided I need something positive and this is hopefully going to be it. Not that constructive criticism isn't welcome because of course it is, but strictly negative comments I could definitely do without.
That was probably more information than you needed to know about me, but in my great state of frustration I don't seem as capable of self-regulation.
Disclaimer: I do not own Life With Derek, Side Order of Life, or Lifetime. I do own a carton of Ben and Jerry's though and hopefully it will make my day all better.
Summary: Nora had planned on a day of watching Lifetime, but suddenly she felt like she was living in one of their original movies. Dasey-ish from Nora's perspective.
With the Assistance of Lifetime
"Aw," Nora cooed, "he asked the guy she liked for help because he cared so much about her he was willing to put his feelings aside. I really hope they get together." Nora had recorded the entire season of Lifetime's Side Order of Life knowing that she would never get the television when she wanted. Everyone was off with Saturday plans except Casey, who she had persuaded to watch with her claiming that they needed some good girl entertainment and mother-daughter bonding time.
"Don't you think that was sweet Casey?" she asked her still silent daughter as she moved to hit play on the next episode. When Casey didn't respond she turned to her left to look at her daughter beside her on the couch. Casey was staring straight ahead blankly; in the direction of the TV, but not at all focused on it. The expression she wore was unfamiliar to Nora, the look in her eyes unreadable. It worried her. "Casey?" she asked again, reaching out to gently stroke her upper arm to pull her out of her stupor.
At the contact Casey's head snapped toward her mother, as if just returning to the then and now from some far away place in her mind. "What?" she asked, having no idea what she had missed.
"Don't you like the show? You've been completely unresponsive for a few episodes now," Nora stated, her furrowed brow outwardly displaying the concern that was laced in her voice. She wasn't concerned that her daughter didn't like the show. She liked it and they tended to have different tastes so since she had realized she was enjoying it she expected Casey not to. But the fact that Casey didn't say she didn't like it, that concerned her. Casey was always so vocal about her opinions about everything and now she was silent, had been silent for a while Nora noted and wished she had noticed sooner.
"Its fine mom," Casey said glancing to her lap instead of at her mother and with a small shake of her head.
Fine? No, her daughter never rested on such simple critiques of anything. Something was definitely wrong. "No, everything's clearly not fine. Tell me what's going on," Nora implored, hoping that she wouldn't just get brushed off. Ever since she had married George and their family grew so much she felt like her and Casey didn't talk as much. But she told herself that they always talked about everything important and though she missed the more trivial conversations with her daughter, there were more kids to handle now so they had to be something sacrificed. Sometimes she feared that it was creating distance between them though, because sometimes, like now, she had no idea what was going on with her daughter. And it terrified her.
Casey wanted to just say something simple that would get her out of a real conversation. They couldn't talk about this. She shouldn't even be thinking about it. But the stupid TV show, which she actually liked more than she thought she would, put thoughts in her head that weren't going away, that wouldn't fade, and she knew she needed help. She could at least try to do it nonchalantly though. She turned on her spot on the couch to face her mother, bringing her legs up to curl around her. She started off like it was nothing, because she really wanted it to be. "I've just been thinking about one of the things they said in that episode about first loves. It just got me wondering. Do you think it's true, what they said about first loves? Do you really think part of you loves your first forever?"
Nora was relieved. Finally they were back to having some of the trivial conversation she had missed so much. In the spirit of keeping that up she thoughtfully responded to her daughter's question, "Well, I love George and he's not my first love and I'd never give him up for my first love. But if I was to see my first love again, I think he'd definitely be able to still make my heart race and palms sweat, just like they said." Nora didn't notice the disappointment that briefly crossed and was quickly covered in her daughter's features. She continued with a small smile, "Bobby Masterson, the guy who was my first love, he was…sort of a rebel and exactly what I wanted when I was nineteen. And he had that wonderful feathered hair, which was in style at the time, and I just loved it. He-"
Nora had cut herself off, finally having glanced at Casey. Casey had tried; she had covered up that initial moment of disappointment. But as the idea was setting in she was quickly losing control. Casey looked as though she had paled a shade and sunk back into that place she had been somewhere inside herself. "Casey?" Nora asked, worry returning to her voice.
Casey looked back to her mother and met her eyes. What Nora saw was heartbreaking, the desperate, pained look in her daughter's eyes. This wasn't the daughter she knew, something was very wrong.
"What if your first love doesn't love you back? And not just that they never tell you, but that they really don't love you at all. Are you still doomed to love them forever?" Casey asked, her voice cracking with distress and water slowly starting to flood her eyes.
Nora was confused. She understood the combination of Casey's words and state and figured out what they meant. But since when was her daughter in love? When did that happen? How did she miss that? And who did she think didn't love her back? Nora was baffled more than when she saw Derek sitting at home staring at a blank television a few Saturday nights ago, and as far as she knew that sort of thing never happened. So this…this was incomprehensible. But here her daughter was, pleading her for a response as if her life depended on it and she said the first thing she thought of and taking the angle of ignoring the question and assuring her daughter that she is loved, "But honey, Max adores you."
"I know," Casey replied, the first of what would be many tears slipping down her cheek.
Not Max? But Max was her boyfriend. Nora moved on, maybe Casey was still holding a torch for an old flame, "Well, Sam was quite fond of you."
"I know," Casey her voice breaking on the simple reply.
Nora bypassed the newest shock and tried desperately to come up with something else. She ventured, "Noel seemed quite taken with you."
"I know," Casey repeated closing her eyes and causing a fresh stream of tears to flow down her face.
Nora was grasping at straws now. Who could it possibly be? What other boys were in her daughter's life? Sheldon? But she seemed so happy for Emily and Sheldon. Tinker? But she often complained that he wouldn't leave her alone and frankly Nora had been considering looking into a restraining order just in case his crush turned into anymore of an obsession than it already seemed to be. Nora had nothing. She had to ask, "Who then Casey?"
Casey shook her head, wiped roughly at the tears on her face trying to erase them completely, and sucked in a deep breath. "No one mom. It was just a hypothetical. You know how I blow things out of proportion and latch on to them and worry. It's nothing, don't worry," Casey replied knowing that she couldn't be honest no matter how desperately she wanted to tell anyone and have them say it was okay. But it wasn't okay and she lost her control for a second, but she needed it back now before her mother really did drag the truth out of her. She smiled in response, hoping that it would work like it had so many times before.
Nora wasn't convinced. She almost was. Casey had stopped crying so easily, seemed fine so easily. But it was her smile that Nora realized wasn't right. It was a smile with the corners of her mouth still turned down and that didn't reach her eyes; it was a fake smile. Not only was it fake, but Nora realized that it was familiar, common. Her daughter had a fake smile that had been making her think everything was okay, but must not have truly been okay for a long time. Nora reached out to Casey and pushed some of her hair off her face, tucking it behind her ear and said knowingly, "No Casey, I will worry because you weren't making that up. Tell me who it is."
The fake smile fell from Casey's face. She wanted so badly to say something that was true for once. To utter the two syllables of his name and have her mom say that there was no problem with her loving him. To say his name and have her mom laugh and say that she was crazy, because of course he loved her too and that that love between them was fine. But she knew that wouldn't happen no matter how much she wanted it to. So she kept her mouth shut, too afraid to open it at all in case the wrong thing came out, and hoping that her silence made it clear that this was a conversation that they would never have.
Nora understood the message her daughter was trying to send with her silence. But everything she thought she knew about Casey had suddenly changed and she was worried, she wasn't about to give up. She plead questioning again, "Who is it Casey?"
And as if on some kind of cue from fate, Derek entered the front door returning from hockey practice and loudly dropping his gear on the floor.
Nora's eyes flicked to Derek, but quickly returned to Casey who stubbornly didn't glance to him. Her daughter seemed indifferent for the most part. But then Derek, stopped in the entryway and looking curiously to the two of them on the couch, looked over Casey, then Nora, but then back to Casey, where he lingered. And while his eyes remained on Casey, Nora noticed a fleeting look in her daughter's eyes, a look that was yearning. It was a look that said that she wanted to turn around and meet his eyes to search for the answer she was looking for. It was a look that showed how desperately she wanted to be honest with both of them. And then the impassiveness returned and Nora realized that all of this hiding and questions without answers had been because honest with either of them- anyone- wasn't something Casey thought she could be.
At the same time Nora realized it was Derek. Derek was the "who" Casey wouldn't say. Derek was the boy in her daughter's life she didn't think of. Derek her stepson who she had long ago- before any of the children met- thought was a perfect opposite and a perfect match for Casey just like her and George and upon their meeting brushed that thought away; he was her daughter's first love, the one who didn't love her back.
Despite the fact that Casey's face was free from recent tears; the evidence she had cried was obvious by her red rimmed eyes and slightly messed up mascara. Derek seemed to notice, but before he could say anything Casey gave her mom one last look, one that begged her to never continue this conversation, and she calmly fled up the stairs to her room. She never looked at Derek for the entire minute he was present.
Derek's eyes followed Casey all the way up the stairs. Nora's had as well, but not quite as far, which gave her the chance to notice that Derek had watched, and Derek had lingered again.
At the sound of a closing door Derek looked back to Nora and asked with seeming disinterest and a gesture to the recently used stairs, "What's up with her? Did Maxie break up with her or something?"
Maybe she just really wanted her daughter to be happy, but Nora thought she could hear just a hint of hopefulness to his voice. Nora couldn't be sure though and she wasn't about to reveal anything on a sudden and tiny hunch. She responded, "No. We've been watching Lifetime."
Not only was it an honest answer, but a believable one for Derek nodded his head in understanding, but seemed distracted as his gaze fell to the floor. He moved from his original spot finally and headed behind her. Nora resisted the urge to follow him with her eyes, but figured that if he went for the stairs she would hear him drag his feet up them and hear clamoring if he went for the kitchen. She hit play on the next episode, just to avoid arousing any suspicion to the fact that she was tracking the boy her daughter was in love with. She kept the volume low, low enough that she would still be able to hear the two distinctive possible directions he could have gone.
Two minutes passed; Nora didn't hear anything at all.
Taking a chance, Nora slowly began to turn her head to scan the room just with her peripheral vision to see if she could catch anything. She quickly came upon Derek stopped on the landing of the stairs. He was staring up the stairs at something, Casey's door among the possibilities. Then he suddenly snapped out of his trance like staring state and closed his eyes. He seemed to be having some sort of internal battle. And in an instant he was back down those first three steps all at once and heading hastily for the door as he said to Nora, "I forgot I'm supposed to be somewhere. I'll be back later."
Nora hadn't even had time to pretend that she hadn't caught his moment on the stairs, but he didn't acknowledge that, he just raced out the door.
Then the dam broke and Nora was flooded with memories that suddenly made a lot more sense. Nora had learned from Emily that Derek was responsible for the end of Casey's school nicknames "klutzilla" and "grade grubber." Nora had learned from Dennis that Derek was the reason he returned after his initial departure of his first visit. Nora had noticed all the times Derek mocked who Casey was romantically interested in or tried to prevent her from going out with the guy all together. But Nora wrote everything off as him finally starting to care about her and an overprotective brotherness and she was glad for it, it was the only moments they seemed like a real family.
Now Nora realized that she may have been missing their real meaning. Because Derek lingered on Casey and fled looking like all he really wanted to do was stay. And she realized that the anomaly of Derek sitting at home on a Saturday night with a blank TV made sense when she connected it to her daughter who he had fought with all day and who had been out with Max that night with her curfew extended because it was their three month anniversary. Previous relationships weren't his concern out of overprotectiveness, but jealousy. Nora was right when she had realized that Derek had come to care about her daughter, it just wasn't at all in a brotherly way.
Nora stopped the Lifetime program that had kept playing but gone unwatched. She had planned on a day of watching Lifetime, but suddenly she felt like she was living in one of their original movies.
Not wanting to be overheard on the off chance that Casey came out of her room, Nora headed down to the basement to call George. Nora was fairly certain that she had come to all the right conclusions, caught all the right clues. She wasn't going to let her daughter remain unhappy, thinking that she was unloved when Nora didn't think that that was really true. Inappropriate or unusually, possibly this situation could be both, especially the latter. But Nora didn't care, what was right or conventional or common didn't matter when her daughter's heart-when her stepson's heart- were being prevented from being whole because of them. She needed to fix what was broken in her home and at the moment she was sure that it was the hearts of two teenagers.
Once Nora unloaded the day's events and all of her thoughts on him, George was easy to convince and he eagerly ditched his conference because it seemed that they were all going to need to have a conversation.
After Nora hung up with George she quickly dialed Derek. She told him that he needed to come home and when he started to make up an excuse as to why he couldn't she simply said, "For Casey."
Derek was home in less than five minutes.
Nora was reassured by many things that she made the right decision, in making something that was presumed to be not okay and not possible, okay and possible. She was reassured by Derek's quick return. She was reassured when she saw her daughter come downstairs holding Derek's hand and wearing the first real smile in a long while. And for years to come she would be reassured by the fact that they were still together.
Nora supposed Lifetime was right; part of a person loves their first love forever. Except in Casey and Derek's case it wasn't just part, it was whole. They loved each other with their whole hearts, hearts that had been whole since, with the assistance of Lifetime, she had realized they were broken and needed putting back together. She may have eventually lost interest in the series that spurred the fateful thought, but she wasn't the only one that was eternally grateful for making a first love into a forever love.
A/N: I'm undecided how I feel about this one and too exhausted to really think at the moment, but I hope you enjoyed it.
If you feel so compelled please leave a review. Or if you'd like, since I did it to you with my beginning author's note, feel free to leave a rant about anything you feel like. Though, if your rant is some kind of attempt to try and talk me into joining your crazy cult religion, no thanks, I belong to one of those already:)