Entitled: When It Breaks
Fandom: Life With Derek
Pairing: Derek and Lizzie, take it however you want.
Dedication: For WhenLightningStrikes, that shameless girl.
Notes: This has layers of depth even I don't understand! That probably means that it makes no sense, huh?
Summary: Because Lizzie is only the crappiest damsel ever. — Lizzie, Derek


At first she's thinking about—about the angle. The rebound and the curve, swerve, she hits the wall and bounces off of it, her limbs thick in armor and padding and they don't help her at all when she slips on a bump and smashes forwards, skidding a good fifteen feet on her belly and into the snow bank. The puck sort of nicks the bar of the net, and isn't polite enough to rebound. It just sits there and gloats. Lizzie stares at it until her chest shakes and she has to sit up, panting clouds. At five, it's too early for anyone else to be watching her fall.

"Come on," Lizzie whispers, "Come on, get up."

She lies down on her back and looks at the long gray sky. Her nose runs a little, but that's okay—she's not Casey, anyways, and she's given up on looking anything older than her real age.

She got cut from the team. High school, you know—meant things got competitive. Team spirit and her mother's snacks stopped being good enough. What she got for playing with the boys, anyways. So now she's not a jock. Not the family jock, anyways, or—well, what is she? She's Casey McDonald's little sister. Derek and Edwin Venturi's step-sister. Defined by other people. Lots of pastel colors and not much make-up.

Lizzie took off her skates.

(Wasn't much point.)


Casey visits, and Lizzie spends the entire week looking forward to it until the day her sister actually arrives—and then she just can't. Just can't. She just stands there watching Edwin run for the car and finds herself taking too many steps backwards, and then bolting. She locks herself in a stall of the girl's bathroom and pants, with her forehead leaning against the stall door. Her hands push against her stomach, and she stays like that until the bathroom's empty and—and she doesn't feel so dizzy.

(Just a bit sick.)

She starts to leave, to go back home—but then she doesn't. She can't say why, but she goes out the back door and keeps walking, and walking, and the snow makes these crunching noises under her boots and the air sort of tangs against her lungs, the way mint could—what was that called, anyways, synthesia? Whatever.

(Whatever.)

(Whatever isn't her word.)

"Don't be stupid," Lizzie breaths, really breaths, and only knows she's talking because she herself had thought the words, "Come on. Come on, it's just Casey."

But she keeps walking, anyways, and after a while she doesn't really recognize the houses or the alleys or the dumpsters, but it's—it's not scary. It's brighter because of the snow. She has to take out her earrings after a while, when her ears start to ache on the inside.

She keeps going until her phone's given up ringing and she's wasted fifteen minutes staring at a coffee shop, thinking about hot chocolate. Then she turns and doesn't—

Well.

Well, it's not Casey, anyways.

"You got any money?" Derek asks. Lizzie shakes her head. Derek sort of sneers, but that's okay, because she likely deserves it.

"You going to eat cats or something?"

"What?"

"When you're homeless."

"I'm not homeless," Lizzie stalls. She looks at their tracks in the snow, and the ones Derek makes when he walks closer to her, stopping a fair distance away. She's likely fully grown now, or at least near it, but in comparison her feet look like a child's. "I thought you weren't coming."

"I wasn't coming with Casey."

Lizzie adjusts her backpack. Her eyes smart, a little. It's very cold. "Did you follow me this whole time?"

"Not into the bathroom."

"Oh," Lizzie says, just, "Oh." She feels phenomenally stupid, and silly, and just—small. She sniffs a little. Derek's not dressed for winter. He has his hands very deep in his pockets. "Have you got any money?"

"Of course. Adults always have money."

(He is an adult, isn't he?)

She looks at the ground, kind of shy, kind of—it's just Derek, right? But it's a Derek she always has to share, and a Derek who doesn't live at home anymore, and a Derek with plastic cards and cars and glamorous girlfriends. Well, shoot.

"D'you want to go in?" she asks, bouncing on her feet a little. She wipes her nose on her coat sleeve and feels about three, but he doesn't say anything, just starts moving, and so she sort of jumps after him and wonders what his girlfriend's name is, but can't find it within herself to ask.

When they step in, Derek does this little shudder-thing, and shakes out his hair so it blankets his ears. He smiles at the girl tending to the counter. Lizzie falls back dutifully. There's a sort of pretty brochure for quilting. Maybe she can make quilts, after she becomes a homeless person, a result of her multiple failures in life.

(A result of not being Casey.)

(A result of not having her father fly back for her.)

"D'you think quilting's easy?" she asks Derek. He approaches with a drink sans sleeve, and has to keep on switching hands. The girl at the counter looks at Lizzie in a way that isn't particularly nice. Lizzie isn't sure how to feel about that. Derek doesn't even look at the brochure.

"You'd suck at it."

"Yeah," Lizzie agrees, and then blinks. He's holding the drink towards her. She takes a step towards the door. "What?"

"What, should I have gotten whipped cream?"

"But it's yours, isn't it?" Lizzie asks. She puts her hands over his and pushes it back a little, but only a little, so they don't really touch. Derek makes a face.

"I can't drink hot chocolate."

"But you're freezing!" Lizzie protests. He's got his teeth grit so they won't chatter. He manages a grin, anyways, and bumps against her so she'll get outside, where all the breath leaves her again.

"Are you kidding?" Derek asks bravely, "This isn't so bad."

Lizzie thinks about hitting him.

"So, why're you hiding from Casey?" Derek asks, like she won't notice his interrogation if he asks casually enough. And the thing is, she doesn't really care. What the hell. Just, what the hell? It's just Derek. The drink steams between them. Lizzie exhales.

"I dunno." She says, which is kind of a lie, but then, he hadn't really wanted to know the answer either. She stands on her toes and fastens her teeth along the rim of the cup, setting her hands on the side really firmly and keeping his there. She drinks, and it burns, and she doesn't say a word until she's too hot and has to stop. "This is coffee," she says, looks at him. Derek shrugs her along, and they follow their steps back through the snow. She sets her feet quite deliberately where he has stepped, stretching out her stride.

(Derek doesn't say anything.)

(But Derek never says anything.)

"Thanks," Lizzie tells the open road before her. Derek downs the rest of his coffee. She thinks—indirect kiss—and looks back at the ground. It's just a little thing.

It'll go away, someday. It'll just be a memory that everyone will make fun of her for, but—but maybe if she just didn't tell them, then…then she could just keep it for herself.

"Tell them I said hi," Derek says suddenly, at the fourth road they cross together—and she sees his footsteps disappear, merge with the tracks of a car and plastic cards and gorgeous young women. Lizzie clutches at the straps to her bag, jamming whatever textbooks inside against the small of her back.

"You're not leaving, are you?"

"Yeah, well," Derek tilts his head again, squints a little, "You want a ride?"

"No," Lizzie says, because he's leaving again, and now she's not Lizzie-with-Derek, she's Lizzie-who's-Derek's-step-sister. She's less-than-Casey. "They kicked me off the hockey team," she tells him, and doesn't even know why, but Derek looks at her for just a second and he almost looks hurt.

Well, good.

She swallows. He blinks and then there's nothing, just a young man dragging his heels, and he asks her, "I thought we worked on that?"

"Yeah," Lizzie agrees, "But I can't skate."

"What d'you mean you can't—"

"I forgot how," she confesses, and starts walking away. She has to follow her own footsteps.

(She never learned.)