He remembers the first time, and it seems like the beginning of his life.
It's cliche and it happened just the way you'd think it would. He was screaming (he really can't even remember why), she was screaming, and he said something like God, Casey, don't you get it? Her eyes got this weird look in them, something like confusion (Casey knows all and he'd never seen the emotion on her before), and he sighed, said uhh, nothing, never-never mind. He'd turned to walk away, she touched his arm, what am I missing, Derek? He couldn't turn her down, couldn't walk away anymore, couldn't wish and wonder. I'm yours, alright, you have me. I can't look at anything without seeing you; I can't listen to anything without hearing you; you're just - I can't... She stared at him, blue eyes searching, and he couldn't take it. He put his hands on her waist, pulled her to him, and kissed her like it meant everything.
And that's it. The beginning. Or the end, depending on how you look at things (the end of Derek the Womanizer, the end of him seeing her as a sister, the end - well you get the point.)
Graduation comes and goes, she cries (he doesn't) and Nora snaps about three dozen pictures.
They go to a party that night, he tells her to loosen up and she scowls at him. He watches her from across the room and when it gets to be too much, he walks over to where she and Emily stand, whispers in her ear, and then makes his way out the back door. She follows moments later, and he kisses her under the moonlight. She tastes like beer and it's funny, because Casey and beer? She giggles, says well you said to (she makes air quotes) 'loosen up'. He laughs, kisses her again, she traces his jaw line with her finger.
"Wow, graduation..." She doesn't finish but he knows what she means. He never thought they'd make it this far either.
"Wow, me and you." And she laughs, eyes sparkling and he wonders how he lived without having her in his arms for so long.
"So, I've been thinking, and I know you really want to get away from Derek, but - oh, honey don't make that face!" Nora says as Casey grimaces (and it's all part of the plan.)
"Casey, please, he's your brother - "
"Step-brother," Casey interrupts.
Nora scowls at her.
" - and he's not that bad. It would save us a lot of money, think about it - we have to send both of you to college for four years, that's very expensive. Just share an apartment with him. I'll tell George to have a talk with him, I'm sure he won't make as big of a fuss as you're making."
Casey sighs and Nora says, "Lighten up, honey, atleast you'll have one person that you know around!"
"Wonderful," Casey mutters, but when Nora leaves the room, a smile spreads across her face.
Summer is filled with laughter and more fake fighting and tracing her tan lines.
She takes too many pictures: there's him and Marti in the park, Lizzie at a soccer game, Edwin rolling his eyes, George and Nora laughing together, and a couple snapshots of them together. His favorite is one where they're posing, his arm is draped over her neck and hers is wrapped around his waist. She's wearing her bright smile and he's grinning (like he always does when she's around).
He catches Lizzie staring at it (Casey printed them all out and put them in a scrapbook), her eyebrows furrowed together. He walks over, says what's up? She looks up, favoring Casey with her determined expression.
"Am I missing something?" She says, her eyes shifting back to the picture.
He can't say yes, but he's tired of saying no, so he just smiles wide (and it's pretty much all the truth she needs.)
He's never felt this way before.
He's not sure if he likes it, but he doesn't want it to stop.
They're sitting around the table, the whole family, and they're laughing. Everyone, just laughing and generally enjoying eachothers company. It's the going away dinner, the one he's been dreading for the past few weeks, and he sits next to her, watching as her eyes light up and her cheeks flush. She puts a hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter, her shoulders shaking; he takes a picture with his mind so he won't forget.
They leave tomorrow, headed for the University of Toronto, headed to their new apartment. He's nervous but also genuinely excited, because, really? A place where they can just be. It feels like a joke but he's fairly certain it's real. He feels himself smiling and she looks over at him, slow motion, her hair falling in her face and her ocean eyes locking on his. She blinks, her smile growing wider as her hand finds his beneath the table. It is warm and secure and the thought hits him - he will have this everyday.
He wants to burst with happiness (God, he's such a girl, burst with happiness?), him and Casey, in an apartment, alone together. He imagines them ordering takeout and bickering over the color of walls, he can see the way she'll clean everything obsessively and he'll mess it up again just to see her flustered. It'll be like now, except there will be no secrets and no hiding, only him and only her, only their tiny two bedroom apartment with the stampings of himself and Casey plastered all around.
Slow motion turns fast as she squeezes his hand, he wonders if she's had this epiphany too. Probably not, she probably figured it out ages ago, she's just been waiting on him to catch up.
Dinner ends and he volunteers to do the dishes (it's kind of a last hurrah type thing, and besides Casey's doing it with him).
She washes and he dries, her smile doesn't leave the entire time and he's not suprised to find that his won't go away either.
"I'm gonna miss living here," she says, her foot tapping out a rythm on the linoleum.
"Me too, good times. I mean, there was that time in the bathroom, oh, and the games closet, that was gr-"
"Derek!" She shrieks, but she's laughing, he laughs with her and she cocks her head to the side, stares at him.
"Nothing - you just look really cute when you're happy."
He blushes, tries to hide it. She dries off her hands, turns to face him, tucks hair behind his ear and runs her palm down his neck.
"Are you sure about this? 'Cause if you're not, that's okay. I don't want you to feel like you have to do - "
"Casey," he takes her hand in his, "of course I'm sure."
She lets out a sigh, says I keep looking for the letdown, you know?
"Believe me, I know."
He's suprised to find that there is no letdown.
Two months into their freshmen year, and there's still no letdown. They spend their days in class and their nights cooking dinner and watching tv. They've made great friends already (Casey calls Emily every once in a while and Sam's a Toronto student so there's no separation there) and they attend parties occasionally. They clean on Sundays (yeah, hecleans now), cranking up the volume on the stereo, dancing around with brooms and windex in hand to everything from Miley Cyrus to Jack Johnson, and they are happy.
She is at every hockey game.
And there are times, when he's tired and he's taken one too many hits, that he'll look up into the stands, searching for her face. He panics as his eyes scatter across the rows, and in those few moments when he can't find her, he expects that he never will, that he will keep searching forever...
But, then he sees her, eyes meeting his and her lips forming around his name, derekderekderek. The slow motion comes back, his world stops spinning, and he wants to die right there, because how could one person make him so impossibly happy?
She's Casey, and she's crazy, but there isn't a part of her that he'd throw away. She gets him and she wants him, for some unknown reason. And suddenly, he understands.
There will be bumps in the road, rough patches, hard times, but life is a wonderful thing, and sometimes, once in a blue moon, it can give you exactly what you want.
Author Note - I know that second chapter was hugely disappointing. Or not. Tell me in a review. Anyways, if you're in need of some Dasey inspiration, I suggest you watch the video Stripped ~ Dasey by lyraGW on YouTube. It's wonderful. Seriously, it's the best Dasey video I've ever watched.