Entitled: Something Obscene
Fandom: Life With Derek
Length: 5200 words
Disclaimer: I do not own Life With Derek and etc.
Notes: I didn't bash Truman. But it was a close thing. Also, the metaphors in this should win an award for being blatantly unsubtle.
Truman buys her earrings. They're green and gaudy and they don't look good on her at all. She wears them anyway and combs hair over her ears when he isn't looking. They're strangely heavy.
"You look beautiful," he tells her, with that little smirk and an arm over her shoulder, and she can feel her face heat up. His eyes are a swampy kind of brown, the kind that's so dark it drinks down light, and she can't stop looking. She feels a little dizzy, a little bit like a princess.
"Why, thank you, monsieur. And where are you taking me this fine evening?"
His smile spreads by millimeters, "I don't know. I was thinking I'd let you pick."
Casey pauses at this sudden blank in the script. She can't—she can't think of anything. She looks at the steering wheel. "Well, um…"
"Hungry?" he prompts, and she seizes this lifeline, tries to scroll through restaurants in her mind, and keeps getting stuck at Smelly Nelly's. Derek's working tonight, so it's out of the question.
"Not really." She'd rather not eat in front of him, anyways. "Movie?"
"Alright," he pulls out of her driveway, and she catches a glimpse of Edwin and Lizzie, pressed to their respective windows, with sharp, warning glares. She pretends not to notice.
He drops her off at the curb, which is great. She doesn't really want him in the house, actually, considering what George might or might not be wearing, what questions her mother might pry, what—
"I'll see you," she tells him, and he lets her far enough away to grab her wrist and pull her back in for a very wet kiss. A lack of oxygen makes her giddy enough to giggle, and she waves when he drives away. She thinks she might love him.
George and Nora are playing Go Fish on the couch, and she is really not fooled. Nora clears her throat. "Eights."
"Uno." George says immediately. Casey wriggles out of her shoes.
"My date was fine, thank you, and I'll be going to bed now."
"Wait," Nora's cards fall into her lap. Casey's pretty sure you can't play Go Fish with Pokémon. "Wait, Casey, where'd you go?"
"Movies," Casey says tensely. She shoots a longing glance towards the top of the stairs. Edwin's head pokes around the banister. She hopes he gets stuck.
"Oh." Nora says, and her smile is strained. "Oh. That's, um, that's great!"
"Nora!" George says in total indignation, "You don't have any eights!"
Nora shoots him a not-now-dear look, and Casey edges along the wall, and up to her room. Lizzie and Derek both have their doors shut, cracks of light fawning out beneath. Edwin continues to crouch. She pauses long enough to look at him.
He stares back with wide eyes. "You have any butter on you?"
"Don't spy." She orders, and snaps into her room. She lies on her bed and thinks of Truman, and Truman, and Truman, and after a great deal of time such thoughts fade out and she is left listening to all the people she loves moving about beyond the walls enclosing her. Whenever Derek rolls over in bed, he bangs against the wall, and it sounds a bit like he's trying to break in.
When her covers shift, she almost has a heart attack, and then Marti's head pops up, charged with static electricity. She regards Casey quite gravely.
"Casey, why are you still dating that snothead?"
"Marti," Casey says in what she hopes is a pacifying tone of voice, "Tell Edwin that it's not nice to turn sisters against one another for stuffed animals."
"Okay." Marti agrees, and wraps her arms around Casey's waist. She smoothes down Marti's hair, and the feeling that swells within her is very strange indeed.
"I liked Sally better," Marti speaks up after a minute, "But Smerek won't ever call her again. Casey, why don't you marry her instead?"
Her stomach knots up on the M-word. She feels a little sick. "I don't think that's going to happen, Marti."
She's well aware that it's her last summer home. After this, things would be her and Derek on opposite ends of the campus at all times.
She ends up spending a lot of time with Truman. She keeps on meaning to ask him about what his plans are for the future, but the topic keeps slipping her mind. It doesn't much matter, anyways. It's not like she can't handle long distance.
Emily and Derek have already broken up. Emily calls her late at night, and has to call again because Casey hangs up on her when the other girl can't choke out the words.
"What?" The whole thing feels so impossibly unfair, that something like this should happen to Emily, and Casey is filled with a sudden blind hatred for the universe at large for such injustice. "He dumped you?"
She wants to kill him. She wants to kill him. But a little part of her sort of thought this was inevitable.
"It's not so bad." Emily says. Her voice is very calm. "It—we—it's for the best, isn't it? He wouldn't have done long distance. Best to just get it out in the open."
Casey listens to her breath, and her heart aches. "Oh, Emily."
"I just thought you should know," Emily says in a rush, and hangs up. Casey clutches at the dial tone, and without really know why, she starts to cry.
She and Derek don't speak to one another for a week after that. She isn't so much angry at him as she is angry at everything, but most of all disappointed. She was disappointed in so many things.
"Jesus, Casey," Truman sighs, when her eyes are still rimmed and puffy after the fifth day, "It's not as though he broke up with you."
She sniffles. "That's not the point, Truman."
"Oh." He looks at her in bemusement, and then shakes his head, laughing a little. "I really don't get you, Casey."
She wants him to understand.
Emily is never going to forgive Truman. She hasn't cried nearly as much as Casey, and it isn't long before she and Derek have claimed the couch together, sharing ice cream buckets and laughing at awful sitcoms. They're Just Friends, and Casey can't stand it.
When Truman picks her up, it's the two of them on the couch, with Lizzie in-between, and Lizzie's face pinches at Casey's skirt. "Ugh. You're going out with him again?"
"Yes, Lizzie," Casey stresses, in a way that is much more patient than her darling sister deserves. Lizzie makes a face and squirms deeper into the cushions, her feet propped up, expression disgruntled.
"I don't know why you would," she mutters, in a way that is much too mouthy and much too thirteen. Casey rolls her eyes.
"Bye, Liz." She reaches for the doorknob.
"He's not coming in?" Emily blurts out suddenly, and Casey rests her weight against the frame. She wants to run.
"No. He isn't. He's already met my parents."
"Jeez, get out of here," Derek interrupts Emily, maybe not-quite-accidentally elbowing her in the side, "I'm watching TV here."
"God forbid you do something meaningful with your time," Casey mumbles, and inwardly thanks him. She shuts the door with a snap, and jogs out to meet him.
She's eighteen. She's an adult, and she is allowed to break curfew.
She opens the front door very quietly. Derek is still on the couch, but everyone else is either asleep or faking it. He doesn't even look at her.
She only stares at him for a moment, his face flickering in the artificial lights, before toeing out of her shoes and slipping off her coat, fussing with her hair. She keeps waiting for him to speak.
He's watching commercials.
She goes up the stairs, down the hall, and locks the door behind her, without fully knowing why. She doesn't take off her make-up and climbs into bed with all her clothes on. Her skin crawls with imaginary monsters, and her heart is beating very fast. She only has to wait a few minutes for the TV to switch off, and then there's the sound of his door closing, clothes shifting, and he's lying down beside her.
There's only a wall between them.
"I can't," Truman says. Casey blinks.
"I can't," he repeats, "Sorry, I guess I forgot to mention it. I'm going out of town for a week. Family stuff, you know, I'm visiting my dad."
"Oh." Her voice sounds very small. "Oh, okay. Cool. I'll just, um, I'll find someone else then."
"Sorry," he says again, sounding a little rushed, "Listen, I've got to run. I'll take my cell, alright? Call me."
"Okay." She agrees, and then, "I love—"
But he's already hung up. After a moment, she cancels off, and dials. "Hey, Emily! Would you like to go to this party with me?"
"Uh." Emily drags out the syllable. And then there is a shout from behind her, and the phone is plucked from her hands. Derek has his arms crossed, his eyes narrowed.
"No way. We are not doing this again. I asked her first!"
Casey gapes at him. She feels utterly betrayed.
"But—but I'm her best friend! And she's not even dating you anymore!"
Emily ends up taking both of them. Derek spends the entire car ride loudly marveling over a wheel barrel's three-wheel design. At some point, Emily catches on and tells him to shut up, which he doesn't, but manages to at least tone it down. Casey kicks at the back of his seat.
She calls Truman in the morning. And then during lunch. And then when she tries to at dinner, Emily snatches her phone away with a dark look, and mutters insults under her breath. "Casey, leaving multiple messages isn't going to increase the likelihood of him calling."
It comes out harsher than she had intended, Casey knows, but her eyes still prick. Emily sighs, and pulls her into a one-armed hug, and says, "I'm sorry. He'll call tomorrow, okay? He's probably on a plane, or something."
Truman's dad lives slightly less than two hours away. Casey wraps her arms around Emily's middle, and smells her friend's lotion, and tells herself that she will never stop calling Emily, no matter how far apart they are, because she is not Derek, and she isn't the sort of person who leaves others behind.
Truman ends up calling. Right after he comes home.
She is the queen of winter, and she doesn't pick up the phone until he tries for the fifth time. "Hello, Truman."
Over on the couch, everyone raises their eyebrows and looks at one another. She's taken on That Tone.
"Casey," he sounds almost pitiful, "God, Casey, I'm so sorry, really, I—"
He's obviously waiting for her to interrupt. She sets her lips and treats him to a very painful silence, turning her face to the wall and cupping one hand over the speaker. Not that it matters—they can all hear.
"I'm sorry." Truman says, again, and she feels quite merciless.
"Are you?" She's had several weeks of pep talks with Emily leading up to this moment. She wants to be angry, she wants to tear his hair out, she wants him to shrivel up beneath her fingertips, fall at her feet screaming for mercy. (She plans on laughing.)
"Yes," he says, and there is a note of wretchedness there, so much so that she can feel herself eroding, and crumbling into the sea. "Yes, I did. I'm sorry. I missed you."
She touches her lips without really knowing why, and stares at the wall for several moments. His breathing is loud, and static makes it sound like sobbing.
"I missed you too." She says, and is almost ashamed at the collective, aggravated sigh from the couch. Even Marti seems to think she would have the sense to end this.
"Did you?" he even sounds smirky. She bites the inside of her cheek.
"A bit. Not as much as you missed me," she says pointedly, and hangs up.
"Casey, you're wasting your time." Emily says, when she mentions Truman and the uncertain future. Casey blows at a couple whips of hair, her sleeves pushed up and elbow-deep in washing the dishes. Emily stands idly at her side, a dishtowel clutched between her fingers.
"I'm just living by the moment, Em." She says breezily, and Emily looks at her like she's grown another head.
"Casey, you never live by the moment."
"I do too!"
"No, you never do," Emily insists again, and Casey latches onto the plate more tightly.
"What would you know about it, Em?" she asks sharply. She doesn't want to talk about this. She doesn't want to yell at Emily. But more than either of those things, she just wants the other girl to be quiet, and to let her just decide something, without everyone else's approval.
Emily blinks. Her lips part slightly, and more than anything, it's the hurt look on her face that makes Casey hesitate. "I'm your best friend." Emily says softly, and walks out of the room.
She gets to know Truman's family very well. She doesn't like being home anymore, and has taken to leaving very early in the morning, eating out until Truman wakes up, spending the day with him, and then coming home to a silent house, and Derek camped out in front of the television. She never looks at him. He never says anything. He goes to bed, on average, four minutes and thirty eight seconds after she gets home.
She hasn't spoken to Emily since their spat, and as the days pass, just being in the house gets progressively harder, and harder, until one day Truman asks if she'd just like to stay over.
She's a big girl. She can say yes.
His mother works the graveyard shift, and the only noise apart from their breathing comes from the clocks and the dishwasher, the goldfish flitting in never-ending circles. She lets him roll over the couch and on top of her, hands on her neck and shoulders, and in the dark, he could be anyone. She's an adult now, and he's her boyfriend, and it's what's supposed to happen. She doesn't have to go all the way, of course, just a bit further and, well, he's letting her stay over—hell, she said yes. She knew what that word carried, so there was no reason to—
She thought of Derek, sitting alone in the dark, watching commercials with his tired eyes. It was two in the morning. He'd probably gone to bed.
"I, um," her back is arched, pressing in, and her voice is a little higher than it should be, "I should go."
It takes Truman a full three seconds to stop necking, for this to sink in, and he pulls back only slightly. "…What?"
"I," she doesn't sound breathless. She sounds hysterical. "I'm sorry. I have to go."
"Casey," he drags out her name pleadingly, whining, "Come on."
She'd digging around for her skirt. Her hands are shaking, and she's torn between bawling and throwing up. "I'm really sorry, Truman. I just, um, I just remembered something."
There is a very long silence, and then the sound of shift, and his hands have fallen away. "Alright." He says flatly. It feels like a slap. There is another moment where she fumbles with her shoes. "Do you want me to drive you home."
"It's fine!" her voice is still that strange, faltering note of hysteria, and she wants to run so fast, no one will ever be able to catch her, "Fine!"
She waits for him to insist. He doesn't.
She has a contact list full of names. Emily would come in a second, no questions asked, not a word ever said to their parents. Nora would come with a flame thrower and a chainsaw. Noel, Sam, Ralph, Kendra, any of them would jump to help her.
She doesn't want them to see her like this.
She walks home, three miles, in the dark. She has to take off her shoes, when her feet start to blister.
On the front porch, she sets her head against the door, shoes dangling limply from one hand, and takes several deep breathes. It's alright. It'll just be her little secret. No one will ever have to know. She'll go to bed and wake up feeling better, give Truman a day, and then call him. He'll forgive her. He has to.
She doesn't even notice Derek at first, he holds so still. The television is muted. Spanish soap stars scour one another with lacquered talons. He has his head propped up on one hand, mouth slightly open, eyes shut. It looks wildly uncomfortable, and she can't figure out why the sight of him unnerves her so much.
She looks at the stairs, then walks over and touches his shoulder. "Hey, Derek."
His head jerks forwards and her grips her hand very tightly for a moment, staring at her with disoriented, confused eyes. Her stomach lurches.
"Case—oh." He blinks at her, then drops her hand. They stare at one another for a moment, until he stands and stretches, and she has to step back.
"Nice hickey," he says flippantly, "Classy."
Her throat is tight. He switches off the television. "Alright, off to bed with you."
"I can't see anything," her eyes are focused on blossoming green spots, scrambling through the absence of light.
"The stairs are three feet behind you." his voice is nearer than she had expected, and she jumps, puts out her hands and gropes, but can't find him.
"Yeah, right." She snorts shakily, "Wasn't breaking my ankle enough for you? Are you going after my neck now, too?"
"You'd probably regenerate into two Casey's," there is a slight click, and he turns a lamp on. The stairs are exactly where he said they were. She can't stop looking at them. He switches the light back off, and his shoulder brushes against her when he passes. "Satisfied?"
She reaches out instinctively, grabbing onto his shoulder and following him up the stairs. She's so disoriented, that when she runs into her bedroom door, she apologizes to it.
She starts off the next day by making waffles, but somehow never manages to eat a single one. She and the rest of her family move in slow circles around one another, carefully polite. Except for Derek, of course, who probably read the atmosphere as well as he did textbooks.
She's relieved to go to the supermarket. Cabbages and tomato sauce have never looked so appealing. She's examining her finds for bruises and busted lids when his voice sounds from behind her, surprised and just a little bit tentative. "Casey?"
There's the lurch, the oh-shit moment, and when she turns around she sees that Max has experienced it too, and is obviously regretting not keeping his head down and passing by. She lifts her chin. She will make small talk if it kills her. She's an adult now, she can handle this.
"Hey, Max," her grin feels fake, "How've you been?"
His hand is already at the back of his neck, "Erm, good. I've been good. I heard you got into Queens. That's, you know, that's great."
She flushes. "Thanks. What're you doing?"
"I got a scholarship for the local university. You know, for the football." He shrugs again, but his smile is obviously pleased, and she is struck with a sudden rush of fondness, and an overwhelming sense of pride. He hadn't been the greatest boyfriend, she knew, but she had been the tiniest bit unfair with her standards, and his heart had been in the right place.
"That's great, Max," she says quietly, and is surprised to realize that she really meant it. She smiles, and can only wish him the best, "Really, great."
"Uh," Max looks slightly panicked when her eyes start swimming with emotion. "Right. It is. You too, so—yeah."
"Are things going well with your girlfriend?" Casey babbles. She's almost surprised at how much she hopes they are. He deserves a nice girl, a long life, a happy ending. He's the quarterback. He's as close to princely as they come. "I'm not hitting on you again, I swear."
Max laughs, "Yeah, she's great. And you?"
"Truman's—" she breaks off. She can't seem to remember how to work her tongue. "I mean, he's…good. Everything's good." She beams at him.
Max's smile is quietly slipping off of his face. He's looking at her uncomfortably, clearly wanting and not wanting to say something. There are several false starts.
If there's one thing about him, he always pulls through in the end.
"Casey," he says, and the stops, pulls his hands back away from her shoulders awkwardly, "Are you—are you happy?"
For a second, she doesn't understand the question. She smiles, "Of course I am."
Max only sighs when her chin starts to shake, opens his arms in a resigned sort of way, and she bursts into tears.
She doesn't do it over the phone. She'd been counting on one of Emily's parents answering the door, and isn't ready when it turns out to be her best friend instead. The two of them stare at one another.
"Casey," Emily says, a little coolly, "What's up?"
"I'm sorry," she blurts out, "Em, I'm—God, I already cried once today, and I am not having another meltdown."
After another moment of studying her, Emily quirked a smile. "A meltdown?"
"I ran into Max. Things escalated. I think I screwed up my life."
Emily snorted. "Wow. That is a meltdown."
Casey covered her mouth, giggling a little. "I know." She took a deep breath. "Are we still friends?"
Emily laughed, "Jesus Casey, I wouldn't stop over something like that."
"Okay, good, because I bought you a friendship necklace." Casey held up the necklace, half a heart radiating tacky. Emily stared.
"I changed my mind. Never come near me again."
"Please?!" Casey wailed, and jammed her foot into Emily's door, "I am emotionally unstable right now!"
"You're unstable alright," Emily mumbled, and tried to forcibly eject Casey's foot, "We're going to college, Case, not Kindergarten."
"I don't want to fall apart," Casey blurted out. Emily looked at her sardonically.
"Because I know you and Derek didn't want to do long distance but I am not Derek and I am perfectly capable of writing you three letters a day, and you know it."
"Frack." Emily held out her hand, with an expression of great pain on her face, "Fine. But I'm telling people I got it from a dying cancer victim."
"You're the best, Em!" Casey trilled, and unsnapped the latch.
Truman is harder. Because when it came down to it, she loves him, even if it is in an unhealthy kind of way.
"Oh," he says, after he sees her face, "Dumped again, huh?"
He says it so casually she wants to slap him. "I don't know," she says, quietly, "What're you going to do, in college?"
"Uh." He scratches at his shoulder, "I don't know, whatever college people do?" at her look, he adds, rather sloppily, "I'd call you, I mean."
"You've said that before." Casey points out, and keeps looking up at him, at his handsome face and charming smile. He wasn't smiling anymore. He wasn't even looking at her.
"You're just dragging it out," he says lightly, and she tenses.
"Fine, then." Her voice shakes, and she has to swallow, "I guess this is it, Truman."
His head turns, and he doesn't look anywhere close to happy. "Yes. I guess it is."
She doesn't know what to do with her hands. They wring before her.
"Be seeing you," Truman says after a minute, and steps back into the house, still not looking at her. She watches the door shut.
She waits to feel better.
It doesn't happen.
"Mom," instead of immediately bolting for her room, Casey pauses at the foot of the stairs, looking into the kitchen. Her mother's shoulders seem thinner than they once were. Her stomach is swelling. She wants a mother, right now, for reasons she can't explain. She wants to be small enough to crawl into her lap and sleep until everything bleached out. "I broke up with Truman."
For a moment, Nora keeps wiping her hands off on the dishrag, then she tilts her head sympathetically, reaches out, and Casey rushes into her arms. Her eyes are swollen, and she is sick of crying.
"I'm sorry, Casey," her mother says to her temple, and Casey can feel the baby growing, "I'm sorry. Do you want some hot chocolate?"
She can't actually think of anything else. Mothers are mysterious like that.
"Thanks, mom," Casey mumbles, and feels some enormous tension leave her. She's sick of loosing her family. She's forgotten what they are to her.
She saves Derek for last. He looks at her pointedly when nine rolls around, and she's sprawled across the couch. She scoots over. "Are you okay with sharing? Is that too much for you?"
"Shut it," he flops beside her, one arm behind her head. She wonders if he even notices he's doing that.
She doesn't say anything until everyone else has gone to bed, then reaches out and clicks off the volume and doesn't look at him when she asks, "Why'd you break up with Emily?"
"Long distance, dorkus."
"Why?" she repeats, pressingly, spins on him, "Why!?"
He snatches away the remote and flips channels. He must have been getting fond of that vacuum ad. "I don't do long distance, okay? It just doesn't work. There's no point in being with someone if I can't—be with them."
He reaches behind her, clicking off the light, and she can only see the curve of his throat, illuminated by the screen. She swallows.
"Then why're you going to Queens?"
"You can be really slow," he says, so tiredly it almost sounded affectionate. Casey bristles.
"That's not an answer."
"Well, someone had to make sure you wouldn't do anything too stupid."
She keeps looking at him. "I'm not a kid anymore."
She sees him move, but can't see his face when he says, "No, we aren't."
Like she has any clue what that's supposed to mean. Casey brings her feet in, knees to her chest, and flops sideways. She hopes she had landed on his shoulder. He cringes.
"You're being creepy."
"…Just don't do it again." he says, sounding pained.
"Suck it up."
"I dare you to say that again—"
She pinches him. He splutters indignantly. They watch commercials.
When she's just about to fall asleep, she shakes his arm, "I'm going to bed. Where're the stairs?"
"Fine, fine," he pulls her to her feet, and drags her behind him, through the dark. They go up the stairs.
"Alright, job done," he says pointedly, and drops her hand. She turns and marches forth with purpose.
"Casey, that's my room."
"Indeed," she says imperiously, and shuts the door. There is a pause.
"Did you just lock me out?"
"No." she lets go of the handle, "No, you can come in. I can't see in the dark, anyway."
The latch catches, the hinges squeal, "Maybe you should start looking," he says, and this time, there were no walls between them.