coffin of hope

by: amoenavi

A/N: Okay, so moirariordan in her Holiday Wish List on LJ asked for fic (with multiple acronymed fandoms) and I was experimenting with style and, well. It's um, not even December yet, but… well, there's just… I'm really early?

It's inspired (quite obviously) by Death Cab for Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" (with the lyrics actually built right in!) and is angst but not really. Also, it's a different style which is (also quite obviously) inspired by moirariordan's (super ) style. This is yours, hon.

xxx

someday you will die

xxx

It's kind of weird, actually.

She'd just been complaining about not having anywhere to wear her new black dress.

(She wishes she still didn't.)

xxx

"Unfortunately, I didn't know the deceased personally, but from what I've gathered, it seems like Derek was a fine man." The priest's voice is warm and friendly and not appropriate for this. Casey almost wishes they had found someone cold and professional because that might make this whole pretending she's not at his funeral thing a lot easier.

George and Nora and Abby and Dennis sit in the row in front of them, sobbing and shaking and trying to keep this fact from their kids but failing miserably.

Edwin and Lizzie sit somberly, watching Marti as she attempts to throw a fit in the pew. Everyone thinks it passes over Marti's head, but Casey's seen enough of the young girl to know better. She's a Venturi through and through, hiding her feelings and hoping they will go away. She only hopes suppressing feelings works out better for Marti than it did for him.

The priest continues to talk, gesturing toward the single dove painted on the ceiling above his head, "He's with God now."

But what if he isn't? What if there is no blinding light or tunnels to gates of white? She had asked Mom and George this but her mother had just given her a disappointed look.

"I know you don't- didn't- like Derek," she began, stumbling over the past tense of the situation, "but that doesn't mean he's going to hell." Casey had tried to explain that wasn't what she meant, that she wouldn't want Derek to go to hell and she's so afraid there's nothing and he's just lost out there, but she just nodded numbly and muttered a vague, "Yes, Mom" before running upstairs to cry herself to sleep because it was killing her.

Derek alone in the dark, his brilliant smile lost in a black hole and that spark in his eyes extinguished by something even he can't charm his way out of, makes her feel like a cord is wrapped around her entire body preventing her from moving or screaming or breathing and she just wants it to stop.

Her eyes can't really focus on anything, skittering to the flowers, the casket (his casket), the mourners, her friends, his friends, his exes. His exes take up about six pews and she resists the urge to snort derisively, instead leaning to her left to make a snide comment to him about-

And then she remembers it's his funeral she's at and last time she checked, she wasn't the Ghost Whisperer so talking to him is out of the question.

She feels a sharp tug as Lizzie stands to begin singing, the eulogy over. Casey stares at her younger sister's hand in bemusement for a moment. "Don't make a scene," the tug demands when it comes again, even sharper as Lizzie keeps her eyes on the front of the church, "stand up". She stands, wobbling on her legs and casts an apologetic glance to her sister as she steadies herself.

Dennis blinks quickly in her peripheral vision and she tries to ignore the lump that rises in her throat at the sight.

The rest is a blur of standing and sitting and kneeling and numbness and searing pain and red carnation bouquets that look like blood pouring out of the closed casket and Lizzie tugging and Edwin staring and Marti shaking but finally it's over and she nearly sprints out of the church after the casket because she's pretty sure she's going insane.

xxx

i'll be close behind

xxx

It's not raining.

There's no drizzle, no thunder, no lightning, no apocalypse, no flood of biblical proportions.

(And she has no one to line up with 'two by two' anymore.)

xxx

She lays a shaking hand onto the casket when she puts her red rose down. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining and the wood underneath her palm is warmer than it should be. There's a voice inside of her head that makes sense of this, a logical voice that doesn't expect the weather patterns of Canada to alter based on a silly little death.

This voice is stifled by the overwhelming wailing inside of her heart.

"You okay, Case?" She stiffens instantly because no one's called her 'Case' since he– and she– no, no, no. "You look kind of sick."

It's Truman, concerned and boyfriend-like and rubbing soothing circles into her back, her asshole Prince Charming and she hates him.

"What? I'm just… it's really bright out here." Casey swallows back the tears and turns from the casket where he's lying and not going to get up ever again. "I… where are my sunglasses?" She's a great actress. Too bad he doesn't know her tell.

"In the car." She stares at him, hand covering her eyes so she can see the sharp jaw and the thin face and dark, dark hair. "Here are the keys."

She looks down at his outstretched hand then at the heels she has on and the way she's sinking into the ground then back at his hand. She means to ask him if he can get it for her because clearly there is no way she'll make it there and back. "No." She did not mean to say that.

Truman looks taken aback by her sharp tone and his eyes darken. "Excuse me. I was just trying to be supportive," he snaps and how dare he snap at her at her step-b… boyfr… lov… acquaintance's gravesite.

"We're done," she says, low, darkly, turning to face him again. She hears his footsteps on the ground as she draws an absent-minded heart on the glossy wood with her finger. Good riddance, she thinks even as her head reminds her that there's no one else now.

xxx

no blinding light

xxx

She's not giving up.

She's just not trying as hard as she used to.

(Or, well, at all.)

xxx

"Casey, I think it would be best if you would… open up to me," Dr. Hammond says, tone soothing and patronizing. She would normally hate him but she can't really find the strength.

She turns her head away, observing the patterns of the leaves. It's been seven months and two weeks as of yesterday and it's October. She just turned twenty two (she doesn't care).

The doctor knows to just wait out her silence and eventually she'll talk. It's a compulsive habit of hers, filling the silence with words, even if those words don't make sense.

Three more leaves drop from their branches before she speaks. "I'm exhausted." She rubs her eyes, inhaling deeply and slumping against the chair. "Mentally, physically, emotionally. Just… exhausted."

"I see. Do you think this might be related to–"

"Yes."

Dr. Hammond closes his mouth, scribbling on his pad of paper. "Uh-huh."

"But then again, what isn't?" Casey says wryly, turning back to the aged man. "When I lived with him, it was like everything in my life was Derek." She winces almost imperceptibly on his name. "His school, his house, his friends, his rules, his college, his car, everything. Why should now be any different?"

"That's a very mature conclusion to come to. It seems as if your problems are stemming from a singular issue; that of Derek's death."

She rolls her eyes. "Yes. We came to that conclusion within the first session."

"I–"

"Wait," she interrupts because hey, she's paying him for this time, right? "Do you know what happened to a guidance counselor named Paul Greebie?"

He's momentarily flummoxed and she takes that as a no. It doesn't matter because she's too cynical to actually hope anymore. "He's actually working at my niece's school."

"Really?" She allows herself to grin.

xxx

tunnels to gates of white

xxx

It's easier to pretend it never happened.

To go on living as if she were still in the past where everything was fine.

(She's always been a dreamer anyway.)

xxx

She takes the address of his new school and the bus out to find him.

In a startling parallel of their first meeting, Casey walks through his doors and tells Paul that she doesn't need to see a psychologist. His jaw drops and he nearly falls out of his chair.

"Casey! I– how are you? I heard about Derek, are you– I mean," he clears his throat. "It's nice to see you, Casey."

She smiles weakly. "Hi, Paul. How's school?"

"I get older, teenagers get younger." He waves his hand dismissively as she sits down in the chair. "How are you?"

"I'm, um, fine. I think. I don't know, actually."

"It's been tough on you, hasn't it?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, of course it has. I knew him for six years. It's just… I don't know."

Paul leans back in his chair. "Do you want to talk about it?"

She's quiet for a few minutes, taking in his new office. It has inspirational posters and that yearbook picture he had shown her, pictures of his family, newspaper articles, filing cabinets, notebooks, coffee mugs, everything it had back in his old office. She pretends she's back there, complaining about her new step-brother and his annoying habits.

"Dr. Hammond says all of my issues stem from him," she says softly. "I told him that they always have." She turns back to look at Paul. "I want to talk to someone who knew him. And… what's really weird is that all Dr. Hammond will ever know of him is what I choose to say." She gulps. "That's… a big responsibility."

Paul raises an eyebrow, reaching for a spare coffee mug to give to her. "Why do you feel it's a responsibility?"

She shrugs and looks down into the murky liquid.

"There must be a reason behind your statement, Casey." She still stays silent and she knows the reason but he doesn't need to know it. "Is it because you loved him?"

She blinks slowly, tracing the rim of the mug with a long finger. "He was my step-brother."

"Yes, and you loved him."

"In a purely familial and appropriate way…" she gulps because ohgodhewasfamily. "Of course I did."

"You and I both know that's not the case."

"We were family for six years, Paul. It would have been weird if I thought of him as… well, as anything."

Paul sighs and mutters something about how things never seem to change.

She sips her coffee sluggishly, feeling herself fade into her past.

xxx

hands clasped so tight

xxx

No one's immortal.

(She doesn't want to die.)

xxx

"He wanted to visit Bangkok," she announces at a much later session. It's January, she's bundled up in two sweaters and a scarf, and it's been ten months and three weeks. "I don't remember why exactly… maybe just because it has 'BANG' and 'COCK' in it." She snorts and shakes her head. "He's such a teenage boy."

Casey fades out, shocked at her use of present tense in such a past tense (dead) situation. "No, I meant– I meant he was. He was such a teenage boy." She winces as the memories of his funeral flood back. "I don't mean that either! I mean… just…"

She stares down at her hands as Paul writes some notes down on his notebook. She has the biggest file of all of his "clients" and she only sees him twice a week. She wonders what he writes.

"Casey… I think we need to talk honestly…" she doesn't really hear him because she's looking at his office again.

It's different. The chairs are different, the smell is different, the carpeting is wrong. He's using a different mug, a mug he didn't use when she was in school. He must have broken the old one. Even Paul is different. He was wrinkles forming around his eyes, his hair is going gray, and his voice just sounds more tired.

And then she realizes that he's gone and he's never ever coming back.

xxx

seen everything to see

xxx

It's going to be okay.

It's…

(She wishes he had been immortal.)

xxx

On what should be his thirtieth birthday, she decides to write a book about him.

"You know the responsibility I was talking about?" She picks a piece of lint from her skirt, inspects it and flicks it away into the air. "I feel as though… I was right."

Paul looks up from the manuscript she tossed at him when she came in. "Casey, this is about Derek."

"Yes, Paul," she says condescendingly. "The responsibility is about Derek. I feel as though I should–"

"No, I mean the book. You wrote a book about Derek. Derek Venturi." He pauses and examines the contents of one page. "A good book."

She blinks. "I'm actually kind of offended that you sound incredulous about it being good." Huffing, she continues, "I was an English minor in college, you know. Really."

"Why did you write a book?"

"As I was saying, the responsibility I was talking about when I was younger was that." She's wearing colors and argyle and sparkles and cashmere and flowers and perfume and brushing her hair and living again.

"…your responsibility was a book."

"I said, and your notes quote, 'all Dr. Hammond will ever know of him is what I choose to say.' Not only did Dr. Hammond not know Derek, but the world didn't. And that's… not okay with me." She takes a breath and a sip of her hot apple cider. "I need to tell everyone about him. All his triumphs, all his failings, all his little quirks and good points. It's… what he would have done himself." She laughs, carefree for the first time in years.

Paul is still shocked. "I don't really… understand. This book is about Derek… but it's written in your voice… and it sounds as if… well, it sounds... you were in love with him."

Her breath hitches and she fiddles automatically with the silver ring on a leather strap around her neck (it was Derek's). "Well… you can't always believe what you read."

xxx

i will follow you into the dark

xxx

Everyone will know who he was.

They will know his name and his personality and the single dimple he had and his hopes and dreams and favorite pancakes and him.

(And she loves him enough to share.)

xxx