a/n: Back to too much updating. The Roxy here is the one from the new LWD movie, whom Derek apparently "falls for". I'm sure once the movie's out, there will be a lot of these fics, so just making a small beginning (and I haven't even seen Roxy till now!)
A veritable NIGHTMARE to write, since I got interrupted at a frequency of two seconds. Ugh.
A very happy Diwali to all of you who celebrate it...and to all of you who don't :)
She slammed a startled hand to her chest as the light went on.
The boy with the eyes whose color she's never been able to exactly tell looked as surprised to see her as she was to see him.
"You're awake?" He glanced at his wall-clock and his face twisted in the sort of grin which always signaled a coming witticism- or at least what he believed was one, "Don't they, like, invoke your membership to Losers Inc. for staying past eight o' clock?"
She looked back at her cup of hot chocolate and closed her eyes because it had felt so much more real when all she could make it out with was the warmth on her fingertips, "Why aren't you asleep? Scared about tomorrow?"
"I don't know the meaning of the word scared," he said with exaggerated hand gestures that made the hard knot in her gut loosen a little.
"But then again you don't know the meaning of most words—"
"...and contrary to what you may think, dark circles aren't really considered a fashion accessory at weddings, D, go back to sleep."
He suddenly swiped a thumb beneath her closed eyelids and she moved back from his hand as her nerve-endings sprang to life, "Yeah? Maybe you should take your own advice."
"You've said that to me once before, you know," she stared at him through the steam rising from the coffee mug. It made his silhouette waver slightly and maybe if she had thought about it, she'd have attached a metaphor with it, because that's the kind of girl she is.
"No," he said, the sarcasm stinging past her without denting her skin too much, she was too used to him, "Really? That's unbelievable. I can't believe I've used the words 'advice' and 'you' and 'maybe' in the same sentence before, in the eight years we've had the misfortune of knowing each other."
"When my dad had gone after his first visit to our house," she said, ignoring him, "and I was crying and you ran off after saying it. And then you called him back"
She noticed his slightly heightened color and almost comical dismay with semi-detached interest. He hated to be called out on his lapses in jerkiness and he probably wasn't even aware that her dad had told her about this particular slip-up. Or that she'd guessed because she'd known him better than anyone else. Maybe now Roxy knew him better than she did. The thought made her feel vaguely discontented
"Yeah…well," he rubbed the back of his neck with his hand in a gesture that was so familiar, it made her stomach clench in something close to tenderness and she forcibly had to fix her gaze on the kitchen table, "I don't do tears, you know that."
"I think that was the first time you ever thought of me as your sister." She didn't know why she was pushing it, except sitting with him in the semi-darkness felt a little surreally familiar and anyway tomorrow he'd be—
He snorted indelicately, "Keep dreaming Spacey. There is no way I'll admit to sharing a DNA that's even remotely similar. Marti is my only sister and Lizzie's a sort of semi-sister. You are an asexual freak of nature; any resemblance to a remotely human creature, living or dead, is purely coincidental."
She glared at him over the rim of her cup, "you're the one awake at three in the morning before your wedding and I'm the freak? 'Freaking Idiot' is practically your gravestone inscription."
"So you admit to being asexual?" He looked vaguely pleased at the admission, "What's the matter, Case, Dick not living up to his name?"
"Richard is perfectly fine in all departments, thank you very much. But all of us do not equate a satisfactory relationship with…that, you pervert."
He put his hand over his heart and assumed his famous expression of a half-pout which unbelievably Roxy still fell for on occasion, "It's not perverted, it's a religious act. The fastest way of achieving Nirvana."
She copied his snort to perfection, "I'm sure religion is what you're thinking about when you're doing...that with Roxy."
"Of course," he said, his eyes gleaming with an insolence that she couldn't read, "It's all about devotion, Casey. Don't tell me none of your cardboard cut-outs have properly worshipped your—"
"I can't believe you're getting married before I am," she rushed in, putting her hand on her burning cheek in a defensive gesture, "you failed first grade, which obviously means you have deep set psychological issues that'd take more years than you'll live to resolve."
He gave her a long mocking look which told her that her interruption hadn't been as subtle as she'd hoped, "It's about maturity and experience Casey– both of which you sorely lack."
He glanced at her bunny slippers and then at her silhouette, which she knew would be perfectly visible through the light of the overhead bulb. She fisted his shirt that she was wearing in her hands and told herself that she would show her maturity by not replying...or heating up just because he was looking at her.
He kept his gaze on her for a moment, "Roxy was looking for that shirt. She wanted to wear it; some girly thing about how she looks sexier in my clothes."
"Oh," she looked over his head, anywhere but at him. It was about familiarity not...sexuality. She'd been wearing his clothes without asking or thinking ever since college days when she would stay late in his dorm when she missed home, or when she, weirdly enough, just wanted him around. And sometimes sleep in his bed when she couldn't face roommate drama. That would obviously have to change and anyway Roxy would have the only claim now, "I'll give it to her. Tomorrow morning. Or after the wedding. Or maybe if she's busy then after–"
He waved his hand in an all encompassing ridiculous gesture, cutting off her word-vomit response, "Forget it. You know how much Roxy hates other people's seconds."
"Marti come around yet?" She asked sweetly, viciously, noticing his change of expression with satisfaction, forcibly clamping down a definitely uncomplimentary remark on Roxy and her dislikes. At least she made his eyes light up... and maybe that was the only important thing.
"No," he said in a tone that bordered on apathetic for most people who knew him but set off 'panic' signals in her head, "she's still not talking to me."
"I don't blame her. You didn't tell her you were even dating Roxy before you'd fixed the wedding date!" Well technically Marti wasn't the only person he'd not told.
"Is Marti here a substitution for you," he asked suspiciously and she couldn't help starting a little at his clear reading of her, she couldn't be that obvious.
"Casey," he sighed imperceptibly, "I just wanted it to be a surprise."
With a flash of insight she looked straight at him, "Oh, please, Derek. You just wanted to be sure that she said yes before you told anyone. Your face-saving almost amounts to a fine art."
"This was bigger than high-school break-ups," he said, eyes inscrutable, "I love Roxy and I wasn't sure that she…whatever, I just—"
He stopped, obviously aware that he'd made too much of a concession and she would probably hold it against him for all eternity.
"It sounds strange when you say it," she said, because she doesn't know what else to say.
"Love," she said the word slowly, savoring the texture on her tongue, even if she herself didn't know whether she fully knew what exactly it meant, "It doesn't sound exactly right. Like you missed an inflection or something. Just weird."
He shoved his hand in his pockets and looked steadily at her, "Or maybe you don't know what it sounds like when it's said and meant."
Or maybe it just felt weird to hear him use the word for anyone other than Marti. Just hazily wrong. Like he wasn't supposed to know what it was before she did.
"I'm hungry," she said, suddenly, drained by all the useless soul-exhausting answers which didn't have any corresponding questions. It had always been a little pointless, everything, like endless rain into a paper cup or something.
He threw a jar of Jif at her and watched in amusement as it bounced off the side of her head.
He held out his hands in mock apology, "Just trying to help, sis."
She pointedly ignored him and took out a piece of bread, spreading the peanut-butter over it. She could feel him looking on, arms crossed, as she took a bite and made a face. Resisting the urge to spit it out, she swallowed masterfully.
"Are you trying to poison me?" She asked calmly, dangerously.
He grinned impishly and for a moment she thought it just wasn't fair. And if you'd have asked her she wouldn't have been able to give you a context, "That's a very leading question. I refuse to answer that unless I have my lawyer with me."
"Derek," she said, brandishing the knife, "I swear to god I will—"
He caught hold of her arm, "Relax, Klutzilla. I haven't done anything to the peanut butter. In fact Lizzie brought it yesterday."
"It's all your fault, though," she groused, "It's your lackadaisical attitude to everything that's affected her. She'd never have forgotten to look at the manufacturing date otherwise. This is probably spoilt and I'll probably die before the ceremony tomorrow. My wedding present to you."
He actually had the nerve to laugh, "Go to sleep, princess, your Drama Queen genes are outta control. God knows you need your beauty sleep. "
"Funny," she deadpanned, "Enjoy your last day of playmanship, Mr. Venturi, before you give away the membership of that particular club forever. I hope she's worth it."
And in all truth, that's not exactly what she'd planned to say when she'd opened her mouth.
Nora looked at her sympathetically, and she couldn't figure out the reason for the sympathy except- "You're running around too much Miss Case. Just take a break, okay, sweetie?" - that was definitely not it.
"And for Derek," exclaimed George, "I thought you'd—"
She interrupted him because she had a good, solid reason and she'd be damned if she didn't find anyone to tell it to after all the trouble it had taken to think it up, "It's because it's Derek. He's sure to mess up somehow, and I want everything to be perfect so that Roxy doesn't find the mind that she has clearly lost and jilt him at the altar. We'd be saddled with him for a lifetime then."
"Are you okay," Nora asked quietly.
And for a moment it felt a lot like a stupid close-up scene except the camera was jerking around too much for her to be sure, "I'm fine. Edwin, have you got the rings?"
"Yeah," he said, through a mouthful of pancake, "that is, I think so," he amended quickly, "I can't remember a whole lot after Derek's bachelor party the night before last, not since I met that gorgeous strip—"
"I've got them," said Edwin, a terrified look on her face, "Jeez, Casey, don't go spare on me."
She gave him a long warning look, before she slammed the door on her way out.
"What's her damage?"
"Food poisoning by peanut butter apparently," said Lizzie tiredly, ticking off items on her list "She gave me an hour long lecture on how Derek has completely initiated me into his...cult was the word she used. And how her Lizzie would have never forgotten to check the expiry date."
"This peanut butter," asked George holding up the jar of Jif in surprise, "there's nothing wrong with it. I just had three slices of bread with it."
Marti snorted from her position on the couch where she was apparently deeply immersed in the newspaper.
Edwin tasted it experimentally, "your sister has either lost her sanity or her taste-buds."
"Oh you know what they say," said George genially, "about peanut butter and unreq—" catching Nora's steady gaze, he stammered, "I mean, unrestricted love. What I mean is; in my George of the Jungle days, girls used to love it when we played dirty and I ate peanut butter off their..." catching Nora's still more outraged look, he squeaked, "...home-made breads, because I was always like a...a... brother to them. I have to go check the flower arrangement."
"I'll go with you Georgie," said Nora grimly, "seems we have a lot to talk about."
"Well, at least that was normal," remarked Lizzie as both the parents walked out of the door, arguing, "unlike Derek marrying Roxy. I never thought he'd go for a girl like her. I though even Derek was deeper than marrying rich."
"And hot," added Edwin, "That's the most important thing. But honestly, Lizzie, the strangest thing is, I think Derek actually really loves her or something. As much as it horrifies me, he's weirdly happy. He's been playing that Open Mic recording of 'And I Blame You' since ages now. It's all kind of revolting."
"I hate Derek," said Lizzie, a sour note in her voice, "He's so blind and uncaring and can't he see that Ca—"
She stopped abruptly.
Edwin, who was only half listening, ploughed on, "What do they say about peanut butter and unrestricted love anyway?"
"Unrequited love," sighed Lizzie, walking into the kitchen, "...and nothing that you'd understand. We'll just have to keep Casey off peanut butter for a while."
"Hey Smarti, look what I got you."
She refused to look up, lips turning downwards.
He sighed, "Still not talking to me, huh. I'm sorry kid. What can I do to make it up to you?"
She opened her mouth and then closed it again.
"I can't do without my favorite sister. I'm getting married, Smarti. And the flower-girl is sad? Then I'd be sad throughout the ceremony too. Do you want that?"
"Isn't Casey your favorite sister?" She asked without preamble.
He stared at her for a second, his mouth dropping half-open, "Casey? She's not my sister at all. Sometimes I doubt we belong to the same species."
"Exactly," said Marti, like that was supposed to make sense or something. Which it didn't at all.
"Forgive me," he said quietly, "please."
Marti dropped her eyes again, "Smerek, do you actually really like Roxy?"
"Of course," said Derek without hesitation, "otherwise I'd have never proposed to her."
"And have you ever loved anyone el...," she changed her mind mid-way, "...okay, if marrying Roxy makes you happy then I forgive you."
He held out his arms, "I need a special Smarti smug," and she hugged him, because even though he was kind of an idiot, he was still her big brother and maybe he really loved Roxy.
"I've to rush now," he picked up his jacket from the table, swiping a finger in the Jif jar. His face contorted in distaste as he sucked his finger, "Wow, Spacey wasn't just being overly dramatic, this tastes horrible. Lizzie should really start looking at expiry dates. I'll see you later kid, gotta go check up on Casey and sympathize with whomever she's spazzing out on now."
Marti looked up from the comics section of the newspaper and stared at his retreating back.
"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."