Checkmate

Dasey through the eyes of an unnamed individual.

We all knew.

I knew. The school knew. I think even their boyfriends or girlfriends of the time knew.

Though they tried not to. Tried not to see the hours they spent of their time talking about the the person, even if said person was their stepbrother. Tried to ignore their fixations on how they spent days organizing and plotting their next prank, just to see how they would react.

I think you knew first, Derek. You always knew. Can't scam a scammer. Can't get anything past you. Lord of the lies.

Except for her. Always her.

I knew the first time, when you were at a party. I was there too. You saw me--you never noticed me before, and I was ecstatic. We spent the whole party upstairs. You were drunk.

"Casey," you moaned. I froze.

You didn't even notice. You carried on what you were doing to my neck (I loved it) and kept thinking of your stepsister. I didn't respond. I knew what we were doing was wrong, you had a girlfriend.

Yes. That was during the time you were with Sally. I would have thought you loved her, but cheating on her, and thinking of your stepsister at the same time? I don't think so.

So when I woke up, you were dressing. You were cursing at yourself and no doubt thinking about Sally, what she would say, what she would do. What you would tell her. I think, in the end, you decided not to. You left while I pretended to be asleep.

Eventually, the party host came by the room. He raised his brow at me, and I glared at him. There were tear streaks down my face, I was wrapped in those white sheets, the kind you always seem to see in the movies. In the end, he decided not to say anything, and told me to dress and get the hell out of there, because this is his sister's room and she's going to be back in twenty minutes.

As I dressed, I heard him telling the same thing next door, except it's his brother's room. There are two groans is there, a male and a female. I felt momentarily jealous of her.

He stayed.

I don't blame you, Derek. We both pretend nothing happened--well, you pretend that. I pretend I don't even remember. You think I was drunk.

I don't drink.

Funnily enough, I don't feel bad about Sally. I don't feel dirty when I wash off in the shower, I don't feel guilty when I see her at school.

I hate Sally. We all hated Sally unconsciously, because we all felt Casey was the heroine, and Derek was her soul mate. We all felt Sally was stealing away Derek, but we all loved her at the same time. She was a good person.

We knew. We knew what you knew, but were too stubborn to accept it. You had to fight--both of you. Always fighting.

Being a part of Casey and Derek's life was like reading a book. You knew who was supposed to end up with who, and who was just unnecessary.

But then again, it was Casey and Derek. They don't do necessary.

So we all watched them fight, wishing they would just get it together and kiss. It drove us all crazy, watching Derek watch her. While he pretended not to know her, we all thought she was just someone he wanted, and she didn't want him, causing him to be in denial of wanting her. But like in all fairytales, they would both end up together, of course. Check…mate.

Imagine our surprise when we found out she was his stepsister. Suddenly, the chessboard looked a whole lot bigger. There were whispers and rumors, which he quickly quenched. Of course.

Hey… he's Derek Venturi. Clad in that stupid leather jacket we all think privately is a bit ridiculous, but verbally gush over because we know badmouthing him is social suicide, he rules the school.

But Casey--Casey was a different story. She's annoying, intriguing, and won't get out of Derek's mind.

He won't get out of hers.

But they stay in that stupid little circle, complaining, pranking, thinking, and fighting with each other. They won't give up, and we don't think they ever will. They will stay that way forever, in their adult age with their nieces and nephews plotting to get them together. When they're old and gray, and alone, because no one will ever stay with them and completely fill the place of each other.

While they date each others' best friends, friends, rivals, and acquaintances, they fight. They think. And as always, they try not to.

Then, we're in our twenties. High school reunion. There's going to be an after party two days later, with, of course, Derek hosting the event.

Some things never change. And, as we all watch Derek and Casey bicker about something with the guacamole, we all think nothing has.

Then, we watch Derek do a complete one eighty by asking Casey to dance.

She accepts, but is noticeably surprised. She's the most oblivious person I know.

So, they dance together. I can see the look in Derek's eyes. I see he's facing all those emotions , the ones he never did before.

I think, finally.

Finally we'll all have peace, finally Casey and Derek will stop fighting, finally we can close the book and stop looking for a sequel.

But, again, it's Derek and Casey. They will never stop fighting what life has to throw at them.

As I watch, Casey draws herself away from Derek, mumble something, and bolts. Derek doesn't know what to do, and is rightfully surprised when Sally--dancing with Trevor, of all people, sidles up to him and whispers

"Go after her."

He runs. We feel relieved someone finally took action. Someday, there will be little Caseys running around playing hockey and little Dereks studying obsessively for a final, while their parents shout at each other at something completely irrelevant.

So we watch.

Next day, I encounter Casey at the grocery store. We talk. She mentions her sister Lizzie having a lot of trouble with French, and I volunteer to tutor.

"I'm free whenever," I say. She immediately gushes and asks me to come over the next morning--Lizzie has a test. I could come over tonight, but Lizzie has soccer practice and will kill if she misses it.

"Stubborn girl," she says.

I know where she learned it from, I'm tempted to say. I agree instead, and she exits looking happy and triumphant.

Next day, I enter the MacDonald/Venturi household. I'm in the kitchen, talking with Lizzie in French--she looks surprisingly like Casey, but is not so uptight--when Casey and Derek storm in. Actually, Casey storms, Derek follows, smirking.

I fall silent on my lecture of French verbs and watch the two as they argue. Lizzie simply ignores them and picks up her pencil, starting to study with what little time she has left.

Derek looks at me in alarm--he remembers that night--but I simply smile and introduce myself.

"She's Lizzie's new tutor," Casey says.

He grins and asks why Lizzie needs a tutor--he never did.

Casey rolls her eyes and says smartly "And that's why Lizzie will actually get some good scores."

He turns and they fight--more playfully then they usually do.

I'm halfway through the bagel Nora forced on me, before she took Marti and Lexi to school, when I realize something is different.

Derek looks more comfortable then he usually does. He's smiling at Casey--smiling--and brushing purposefully against her. She's blushing and arguing, but not paying attention to what comes out of her mouth. She's concentrating on Derek's hand on her thigh--yes Derek, I can see it, you idiot--and trying to glare at him.

I feel triumphant. Lizzie has to nudge me to get me to concentrate on her tutoring, and I reapply myself.

Later, I think about all they went through. I think about that night with Derek--the one we both pretend never happened.

Derek's not perfect. He cheated on his girlfriend and didn't tell her, and didn't tell the girl he cheated with he cheated with her. I knew, but that wasn't the point.

Then again, Casey isn't either. No matter how hard she tries, she will never reach that alter she is aiming for. Derek's relaxed way of coasting through life will compliment Casey's neurotic ways.

I hear someone calling my name. I look and smile--it's Sam.

We met in college--again. He was surprised when he found out I went to his high school (no one notices me) but got over it, seemingly upset with himself for not seeing me. It was funny.

I got him to take off that stupid ski cap.

As I hug him, I notice my body fits perfectly against him. We go together just right. I think of Derek and Casey, and know that not everything has to go the same way. Say soul mates to me, and I giggle and plan the wedding. One mention of soul mates to Derek and Casey, and they're running around screaming. But they'll stay together, maybe break up for awhile (they just love to complicate things) but get back together soon enough.

Check… mate.

I am not completely satisfied with the ending, but tell me what you think.