Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to LWD or anything else. I double checked this morning so I'm absolutely sure.
Author's Note: I was watching an old episode of Psych were Gus is at some team building seminar. While he's on the phone with Shawn, his boss tells Gus that he can go first in the Pamper Pole Exercise. Shawn's response reminded me of Derek. Then I thought, Derek having to do the Pamper Pole Exercise. From that, this story was born.
"What are you watching?" Edwin loudly asked Lizzie as he plopped down on the couch next to her.
"Shush!" Lizzie quickly reprimanded him.
"Jeez," he sulked, slumping back against the cushions.
Sighing with frustration, Lizzie pulled her eyes from the screen and turned to Edwin. "That's Lawrence and Annie Rosen. They're experts in the field of couple's therapy. They have a clinic in Toronto."
"You don't even have a boyfriend," Edwin replied, clearly confused as to why this would interest Lizzie.
Rolling her eyes, Lizzie turned back to the TV. "It's not for me! It's for Derek and Casey, you idiot."
Comprehension finally dawning upon him, Edwin focused upon the program as well. On the television, they watched the very blonde talk show host flashed her dazzling and perfect smile towards the camera before turning back to her guests.
"So, Laurie, Annie, when does a couple know it's time for divorce?"
"You take that one, hon," Laurie said with a grin.
"We believe there are very few times when divorce is necessary. With therapy, we believe anything is possible," Annie added with a laugh.
"What Annie is trying to say," Laurie explained, "is that a lot of marriages fall apart because of lack of communication. It gets to the point where couples forget how to talk to each other without arguing."
"That's Derek and Casey," Edwin muttered.
"Um hum," Lizzie agreed.
"What we try to do at the retreats," Annie said, taking back over, "is to force couples to figure out their priorities: what they want in life, what they want from each other. But, mostly, we're trying teach them how to deal with emotions and how to talk to each other."
"A man doesn't have to become a sissy crybaby to be a good communicator," Laurie added. "We try to help the couples understand different communication approaches so that they truly understand what the other is saying instead of making assumptions as to what they think their loved one is saying."
"Thank you," the host said with another blinding smile. "We'll be back with Laurie and Annie right after this commercial break."
Turning to each other, Lizzie and Edwin knew exactly what the other was thinking.
Breaking the silence first, however, Edwin said, "Do they have a website?"
"Yeah," Lizzie replied. "They announced that at the first of the program."
"Let's go," he commanded, hauling her off the couch and up the stairs.
"What cha doing?" Marti asked as she wandered into Edwin's room.
Not looking up from their perusal of the website, Edwin replied, "We've found a way to get Derek and Casey to stop fighting. Now we're trying to figure out how to pay for it."
Marti, stepping closer, studied the pictures for a moment before asking, "How will climbing trees get them to stop fighting?"
"I don't know. But the Rosens guarantee that it will."
Marti seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding and saying, "Okay. Can someone take me to Demi's? We're going to play Candy Land."
Lizzie pulled herself away and nodded. "Sure, Marti. Ed, how about selling stuff on e-bay?"
"I'll look around for some stuff no one will miss while you take care of Marti."
Several days later and raising the needed funds seemed like an impossible task. After combining all their money, and Marti's—Marti wanted to help her Smerek be happy, and selling off anything they could find that no one would miss, they were still almost a thousand dollars short.
Sighing, Lizzie said, "What are we going to do now? Mom and George will never give the okay if they have to pay that much money."
"I know," Edwin sighed. "Do you think if we called your dad…"
"For some reason, he thinks they get along. Dad would think we're just trying to scam him. How about your Mom?"
"She doesn't want them to get along. I overheard her say once that she was afraid of becoming a grandmother before they finish high school."
"Eww," Lizzie replied with her nose scrunched up in disgust.
"I know," Edwin repeated with the same look upon his face.
Anymore commenting on the potential grossness that would result from Derek and Casey dating had to be tabled when someone started ringing the doorbell and knocking almost frantically at the same time.
After exchanging a look, Edwin followed Lizzie to the door, knowing that whoever was on the other side, Lizzie had a better chance of taking them out that he ever would. With those thoughts in both their minds, Lizzie and Edwin were surprised to open the door and find that it was Sam and Emily on the other side.
"Derek and Casey are both gone…" Lizzie started to explain to her older siblings' respective best friends.
"We know," the other two teens said together as they shoved their way into the house.
Heading for the couch, Emily added, "We set up a distraction. We wanted to talk to you both without them here."
Curious, the two younger teens quickly sat down and waited to hear what Sam and Emily wanted.
Leaning forward and keeping his voice down, almost as if he suspected that Derek would jump out at them at any minute, Sam asked, "Is it true that you two have found a way to get Derek and Casey to stop fighting?"
"Yeah," Lizzie responded warily.
"Oh, good," Emily sighed with a grin. "Marti told Demi you had and then Demi told me."
"And then, Emily told me," Sam said, taking over the explanation. "They also said you needed lots of money."
This time Edwin answered, "Yes. But…"
Pulling out a large coffee can, that up until then had been hidden behind his back, Sam interrupted, "Would 877.94 help? That's all we were able to raise."
Taking the coffee can from Sam, Edwin looked at it and then the other three occupants in the room with big eyes.
Seeing that Edwin seemed to no longer be able to speak, Lizzie asked, "How?"
"We asked everyone we know," Emily matter-of-factly replied. "Everyone is desperate. None of us can take the fighting much longer."
"Paul, the guidance councilor," Sam inserted. "He gave us 150 dollars all on his own."
"He started to cry with relief when we told him there was a plan."
"Wow," was all Lizzie was capable of saying. Edwin on the other hand, still seemed to be a deaf-mute.
"So, will that be enough?" Sam worriedly asked.
Looking at the can and then their shoebox full of money on the coffee table, Lizzie nodded. "Yeah, that should be enough."
"Now we just half to figure out how to convince Dad and Nora to go along with this plan," Edwin said, finally contributing to the conversation.
At that, though, both Sam and Emily seemed to relax.
"Timing," Edwin announced as they huddled in the game closet, "is everything."
"So, we wait until Derek and Casey finish arguing," Lizzie replied.
A loud bang and then Casey's high pitched scream of, "Der-ek!" caused them both to flinch.
"It sounds like they're winding up."
"Yeah," Lizzie agreed. "Just as soon as the coast is clear, we find Mom and George."
"Deal," Edwin agreed as they heard another bang and Derek's taunting remarks about Casey's aim.
Luckily for the two hiding in the game closet, Derek and Casey soon threw their last insults at each other and their respective bedroom doors flew shut with a bang. Sighing in relief, Lizzie and Edwin gathered their presentation materials and the large box of money before scurrying off to find their parents.
George and Nora, however, were not nearly so happy as they knew this was only the eye of a constant storm.
Rubbing her forehead to ward off the coming migraine, Nora muttered, "What do we do?"
George propped his head on one hand and sighed deeply before saying, "Nora, I don't know what to say. I think our only option is to kill them and hide the bodies."
"It wouldn't matter if we hid the bodies," Nora replied. "The unnatural quiet would bring the police at once."
Laughing, even though he didn't really feel like it, George then offered, "Then let's take Edwin, Lizzie, and Marti, and move during the middle of night without telling Derek and Casey where we went."
"We'll have to drug Casey. She isn't that heavy of a sleeper."
It was to this comment and some semi-hysterical laughter that Lizzie and Edwin entered the room to. Deciding they were just in time, they went forward and quickly set up their presentation.
"Lizzie, Edwin," Nora sighed tiredly. "Not now."
"It's not a business proposition, Mom," Lizzie interrupted.
"No," Edwin agreed. "It's a plan on how to get Casey and Derek to stop fighting."
After exchanging a look, George and Nora motioned for them to begin.
Taking a deep breath, Edwin nodded to Lizzie. As she set the first poster upon the easel, he said, "Sometimes, people get so used to arguing that they are no longer sure how to communicate with each other like normal people."
"We believe this is what has happened to Derek and Casey," Lizzie added.
"The Happiness and Mental Wellness Clinic of Toronto is a well respected facility that specializes in teaching couples communication and listening techniques. More couples who attend the retreats held by HMW stay married than those who attend any other couple's therapy."
"You do realize that Derek and Casey only act like an old married couple," Nora replied with a wry grin. "They aren't really married."
Lizzie, ignoring Edwin, took down the picture of HMW and skipped over several posters before putting up the quote they had pulled off the clinic's website.
Reading it out loud, Lizzie said, "Couple's therapy isn't just for married couples. All relationships endure times of stress and strain. We at the Happiness and Mental Wellness Clinic of Toronto help couples of all types and relationship length to learn how to cope and pull together through these harrowing times."
"We called and they assured us they would take Derek and Casey," Edwin added. "In fact they have a retreat scheduled for this coming Monday."
"Derek and Casey would leave early Sunday so they would be all settled in for the seminars that start Monday. And," Lizzie added as another incentive, "Derek and Casey wouldn't get back until late Saturday afternoon."
"The last week before school starts would be completely Derek and Casey arguing free!"
"Do you have any pamphlets?" George asked.
Lizzie quickly pulled out their handouts and passed them out. While George and Nora looked over the information they had collected, Edwin and Lizzie continued to explain why they felt the retreat and the actives therein could help their older siblings. Twenty minutes later, George and Nora exchanged a look before turning back to the middle children.
"How much will this cost us?" George tentatively asked.
Grinning, Lizzie sat the large shoe box full of money down in front of the parents.
"Lizzie, Marti, and I pooled all of our money," Edwin explained. "Sam and Emily took up a collection around town."
"Guidance Councilor Paul donated 150 dollars all on his own!" Lizzie inserted.
"With the money the five of us collected, it will only cost you and Nora 234.06," Edwin finished.
Nora, eyes wide from either horror or disbelief or maybe a combination of the two, said, "They took a collection around town."
"Everyone cares a lot about Derek and Casey," Edwin rationalized.
Dropping his head in his hands, George muttered, "Or Derek and Casey are traumatizing everyone they come in contact with."
Nodding automatically, Nora said, "Thank you, Edwin, Lizzie. We'll think about this."
"You only have until Wednesday if we want to make sure they have a spot in the last retreat before school starts," Edwin said.
"We'll have a decision for you by tomorrow," George promised.
As soon as they were alone, George turned to his wife and said, "We have to send them."
"The people they go to school with donated money!"
"The only question now is whether we tell them before or pack them a bag and shove them in a cab the morning of."
Picking up one of the handouts, Nora said, "The clinic gives a list of suggested items to bring."
Nodding, George replied, "Then it's settled. We'll pack for them."
Lizzie, having been previously coached on what to say, brightly informed the family over breakfast that Sunday, "I have a soccer game this afternoon and then we're going Todd's house for pizza."
"What about you, Edwin?" Nora asked overly politely. "What do you have planned for today?"
"I have a book report I've put off. I better get to work on that."
"I'm going to play dress up with Daphne," Marti threw in, not one to be left out.
As Marti spoke, George and Nora exchanged a glance, hoping their eldest would take the bait. Luckily, Casey did.
"Well, I'll be spending the day with Emily. We were planning…"
"Not if you think you're using my car," Derek interrupted.
"It's my car, too! I have just as much right to use it as you do."
"Neither of you are using the car today!" George quickly interrupted.
Before the whining could begin, Nora added, "Derek, Casey, your fighting has got to stop."
"Well, if he would just be a little more considerate of other people's feelings…"
"Same to you, Princess Keener!"
"That's enough!" George shouted. "No one in this family should have to put up with this. You both are driving us insane and this has to end now. No," he yelled, cutting off any taunts that Derek or Casey would throw at the other. "Nora and I have discussed this and we are putting an end to it now! This afternoon you are both going to a retreat in Toronto to learn how to get along."
"Well, there goes a perfectly good Sunday," Derek complained.
"It's a week long retreat," Nora quietly added.
"But this is the last week of vacation before school starts," Casey whined.
"Yeah," Derek agreed. "I have plans."
"Too bad," George coolly replied. "We've let this go on for far too long. You both are going. End of discussion."
Neither Derek nor Casey was happy with this ultimatum, but the rest of the family suddenly felt lighter.
"I can't believe you won't let us drive there ourselves," Derek complained as he threw his bag into the taxi's trunk.
"That's because we can't trust the two of you to actually go," George replied.
"Are you sure everything I need is in here?" Casey worriedly asked her mother as she too added her luggage into the trunk.
"Yes, dear," Nora assured her for the twelfth time in the last five minutes. "Now get in the cab. You don't want to be late."
With a last bit of whining and complaining, Derek and Casey were finally in the cab and on their way.
Watching them drive off, Edwin leaned towards Lizzie and whispered, "Do you think we should have told Dad and Nora that the only way we were able to get them into this retreat was lie and say Derek and Casey were married with children?"
"No one needs to know," Lizzie whispered back. "It was the last retreat before school started. We needed to get them in."
"Even if it was especially for parents?"
"Edwin, don't tell me you are backing out now."
Nodding, Edwin replied, "You're right. It's for the best. They needed help."
"And we needed a break from them."
"Amen," Edwin agreed. "Amen."
Chapter Title: "Show me the money!" - Jerry Maguire