a/n Happy New Year! Maybe you all have a wonderful year ahead. First fic of the year and my love for Derek-or-Casey-getting-married-fics is rising to a creepy obsession. Excuse errors, at the moment. Have exams in two days and can't check :( I started not only a sentence but an entire FIC with the word 'And'. Somewhere, a grammar teacher is turning over in her grave. Btw, I did it for the image. I mean Derek in a black suit and white shirt, with a tie (red?) and his coat slung over his shoulder-- How could I not write marriage!fics?

Disclaimer: Yeah, no.


are you going to scarborough fair
parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
remember me to one who lives there
she once was a true love of mine


And for a moment she stares at him like she's never seen him before. And she hasn't. Not like this.

"What do you want, Derek," she leans against the doorframe, surprisingly tired, considering that all that she'd done all day was sit around. She opens her mouth to say something and she knows it should be something moving and profound, like those shitty romance movies she used to watch before she slammed into real life. Where everything is perfect in the end. And all loose ends are tied up. And if there's one thing that they definitely are, it's a loose end.

Something heartwarming like, "You're my brother Derek, it pains me to see you in such a state, only if..." or "Derek, I know we've never really gotten along, but I want you to know you've always been an important part of…" or "We're adults now, we should learn to put our mutual antipathy behind us and…" or "Now that I'm going to begin a new life tomorrow with Jesse, I think it's time to forget…" or "…

"…I love you."

"Derek, we're adults now…wait, what?"

She laughs, startled. Because he's drunk and she's the one hallucinating. And then stops because it sounds too loud. She's standing at her doorframe in the middle of the night, in her nightdress and he's drunk and she's getting married tomorrow and he's...

He leans against the doorframe, unsteadily, and because she's that girl she's struck by the poetry of it. Just the two of them on opposite end of the door. Closer than they've ever been. And further apart than they ever were. It's stupid and in her mind he's already laughed at her for thinking it.

"I…think you're a great brother too," she says determinedly because there have been too many of these maybe ifs since she turned fifteen and she's damned if she's going to keep getting fooled by them.

He's looking up at her now, and she looks straight ahead because his eyes are hard flints and he's looking at her like he can't stand it. "I fucking hate you so much," he moves closer, till he's in front of her and she's staring past his shoulder but it doesn't matter because her body's trembling and he can read her without looking into her eyes, "I hate loving you. Is this your 'love'? Because you were wrong, Casey, I could have lived without this shit. Without ever feeling like this."

She glares at him, you will fall in love someday, Derek, and when you do I hope to God I'm still there to watch the show, floating in her head, she'd been angry that time. And he'd made fun of her for thinking love is this grand, huge, wonderful thing with sparkly rainbows, grow up, Casey. "I don't know what your problem is, you jerk, but…"

"You've been the only problem in my life," he moves forward and she's suddenly glad he's so much taller because she couldn't have looked at his face and maintained her stance, not right now, "just go away, Casey. Just fucking leave my thoughts and go away."

She opens her mouth to say something, she doesn't know what, but it'll be cutting and bitter and she'll walk out of here and never think of him again. Because that's all he's ever meant to her. "You're drunk." She states finally, in confusion, because she'd have thought she had many choice remarks for him but her throat is dry and she has to complete her sentence before it's as obvious to him.

He laughs, almost. "I'm in pro-fucking-Hockey, Casey. There are pictures of my face splashed all over magazines. There are these girls. Girls who send me photos of themselves that'd make you blush. Girls who'd do everything with me that they make those movies on. The ones which your precious Jesse watches in private and doesn't tell you about. And I go to a huge, empty flat every single night and jack-off to the memory of my stepsister. I don't even need a damned photograph, because your picture is burned beneath my eyelids. Do you see anything wrong in this picture?"

And suddenly she's intensely aware of him. Beneath his hand, her nerve endings coming alive, till even the material of her nightdress hurts too much as it scrapes against the parts of her body that he's ever touched. Banged into. Looked at.

He's staring at the wood behind her head and she stares at the darkness behind his. There's a whole world in front of her, but he's too close, and it's too dark, and she can't see it. She looks up just as he leans in, and her heart constricts in something close to panic. She jerks her head away and his lips fall on her neck. And they're too bloody soft. Too soft for someone who's spent all his life spouting venom from them.

"How was I?" He's breathing against her neck and she arches her neck to get rid of the weird sensation. She bangs her head hard against the doorframe and as her eyes tear up, his face breaks into a thousand mirroring images, and she thinks she really, really hates poetry.

"What?" It's not really a word, it floats out more like the air she's breathing, but it's all his fault. Him and his stupid car. And his stupid hair. And his stupid lips. And his stupid eyes. And stupid…him.

He moves back suddenly and she falls a little before steadying herself. And she hadn't even realized she'd been leaning on him. That's not metaphorical or anything.

"How was I?" He says again, shoving his hands in his pocket, "I've been practicing."

"You…" hello, twilight-zone, "…what?"

"Stop saying what," he says impatiently, shaking his hair out of his eyes because it's longer now and she hates it, "how were the lines? The emotion? The drama? I've been practicing. And so far Roxy hasn't fallen for anything I've said, so I thought I'd try it out before. I'll substitute the word 'stepsister' for 'ex-girlfriend' of course."

And with absolute certainty, it hits her. The whole world behind him is lit up for a second and she still can't see anything but him because bright light is actually just as blinding as darkness.

"I thought you broke up," she says, like a concerned stepsister. Which is what she is. She's sure she has a character-sketch she made out to play her part to perfection. She's done it for every single role she's played till now. It's important to get into the skin of the character. She'll have to read through it again, because it's obvious she's gotten a little rusty.

"We did," he runs his hand through his hair, "which is why this, Casey. God, this whole marriage business seems to be turning you into more of a space-case than usual."

"You're in love;" she says, mockingly, choking on the too thick air, global warming and carbon emissions and stuff, she studied this somewhere, "Derek Venturi is in love with a girl he can't have. It's the sort of things movies are made about."

"What are you playing?" he asks, token insult at his tongue, "the ugly stepsister?"

"It'll work," she says tiredly, it's late and she wants to sleep and she has her marriage to attend tomorrow, "you can go give your final performance."

"Go through it again with me?"

"No," and because she sounds hysterical, she has to say it again, "No. You're perfect."

"Really," his face lights up, but there's something weird about it, like it's one of those stupid blue, green, artificial lights that they use for stupid plays that he never comes with her to watch because he's not that guy and Jesse always comes with her to watch because he is, "Casey, I know we've never really gotten along, but I want you to know you've always been an important part of…"


"Roxy's waiting for you," says Nora, and her mother looks so blank, it's actually a little hilarious.

"Now?" Because if there's anything that she's ever been certain in her life about, it's that she and Roxy really don't get along too well. And maybe that Derek is the stupidest boy on the planet and she hasn't ever liked him much.

"I have to leave," Nora looks worried, and she feels a pang because she'll be too old to be worried about after today, "but how will you…"

"It's alright," she says, and she's beautiful right now, at least the mirror says so, white is her color, "Sam's downstairs, he'll drop me."

Nora looks relieved, "Good, then, I'm rushing," they look at each other in the mirror, "you're gorgeous Miss Case," she hesitates for an infinitesimal moment, "I love you."

"I love you too, mom," she says, and she hasn't said anything more true, ever, "now go. Dad's waiting."

"Dennis," Nora mutters under her breath, "he'll be having a fit. And George looked like he did when Marti bought her first bra. And Marti, she can't take care of Lila on her own. I have to go."

She looks back, holding the doorknob, "you know I love you, even when you do strange things of life threatening idiocy, don't you Casey? I mean, I get mad, and I scream and don't talk to you for a while, but I've always forgiven you in the end."

She walks out then, leaving the mirror empty.


It's bizarre. Like she accidentally wandered onto the wrong set or something. But as usual, the scene's the same. Standing in front of Roxy makes her feel that much more unsophisticated. That much more unattractive. That much more not-Derek's. Which isn't even a grammatically correct sentence and doesn't have to be considered in the grand scheme of things.

"Casey," Roxy acknowledges, with a graceful nod of her head and the image of her and Derek, like they looked that day at the picnic, suddenly floats in her head. God. "You look good. Please give this to Derek." She holds out an envelope with a slim hand.

"You and Derek are the most beautiful couple I know," she blurts out, unthinkingly. Like her stupid mouth is on autopilot or something.

Roxy looks at her, hard and long, "we're no longer together."

"I know," she says, and fuck how does she get out of this, "I mean…you were. Or maybe you'll get back…or something. He really likes you. He told me that…that…I guessed because he's pretty readable, don't you think. Why don't you give the letter to Derek yourself, at the wedding, I mean. It's just in two hours…"

"I'm not coming," says Roxy and for the first time since they've known each other, she looks young. Uncertain.

"Why not? Derek will be so disappointed. Maybe you should…"

Roxy laughs and she thinks she hasn't ever heard a sound that bitter, "you think Derek's going to come?"

Casey avoids her glance, "of course he will. And maybe you two can hook up after the wedding or something. That's what weddings are for anyway. Except for the bride and groom. Because it's more important for them. 'Till death do you part' kind of important."

Roxy laughs again, "We're not hooking up Casey. Start breathing again. Maybe he's not so readable after all, huh?"

"Roxy, I…" she clears her throat, "why won't he come?"

For a split second they stare at each other and nothing makes sense, "Don't take it personally, Casey," Roxy says quietly, "but sometimes I really, really hate you."


She trips.

Of course she does.

He looks back for a moment, from his contemplation of…whatever the hell he's contemplating. Or thinking. Because she's sure he's never heard the other word in his life. Except obviously he's not thinking at all, but throwing stones into the water, because he's Derek. Her breath slows down at the almost fierce joy in his eyes before his face shifts into its usual unreadableness and he turns back to look at the river.

"Now what," she says getting up and moving closer, "now fucking what, Derek?"

"Now you have an hour," he says pleasantly, "by my watch. It's a little fast though, so you might have to hurry up if you want to get married today."

She turns him around, the coat he's holding almost hitting her in the face and she almost trips again and maybe it means something that he calls her Klutzilla but he still catches her this time, and "You love me. Now what."

"I don't know," he turns away again and she wishes fiercely he wouldn't keep turning away, "isn't love supposed to solve everything? Happily ever after? Except your love is waiting for you somewhere miles away, so yeah, I don't know how that works out."

She suddenly feels close to tears, "Sam drove me," she says, peremptorily, because there's no way in hell she'll let him think that she made any sort of an effort. If Sam hadn't driven her she wouldn't have come.

"The 1:15 must have just passed by," he says, looking at his watch again till she wishes she could smash the damn thing.

"So," she says and tries to keep her face straight because damn it, does he have to know everything.

"Where's Sam."

"He's waiting," she falters as his gaze slips past her to the clearing, "I mean, he left. Because he had some work. At the wedding."

"Your wedding?" asks Derek agreeably, "because I really think…"

"Why."

His mouth sets in a grim line and she hates that this moron is the guy she's standing on the wet grass in the middle of nowhere, in a freaking wedding dress, for. And she needs to know why.

"Does it matter," does it?

"I don't know, Derek. Maybe it does."

"What did Jesse say when you asked him?" He looks at her hard.

"I…" she thinks back, and it's hazy, like an amateurish video-cam moment, "he said he loves me because I'm smart and beautiful and because we like to dance. And he thinks I appreciate life more than other people and…"

"…I don't need to hear the sonnet he wrote you," he interrupts.

"So why, Derek," she asks again.

He shrugs his shoulders and they're both dressed up for a wedding that neither of them is at and the world is so stupid, "because you hate ballet. You go watch it because you think it's culture and sophistication, but the high soprano gives you a headache. I can't imagine loving someone who likes the ballet. Men in tight pants is so not my scene."

She doesn't ask him how he knows, it's the same way she knows that he throws all the pictures that those girls send him in the trash because Marti visits his house ever so often, she just glares at him, "De-re…"

"I love you," he says again, in the same tone he'd been saying everything else, like it's about the weather or something, but it's so much louder this time in her head, like somebody cranked up the volume button, "and I don't have a reason. I could tell you it's because I like your hair, but it's a mess right now, and most of the time actually. You wouldn't want to build... whatever this is ...on a lie, would you?"

"I'm marrying the perfect guy, Derek," she says softly, "he buys me roses and he dances with me in empty rooms and he tells me he loves me everyday. I bought this dress for more money than mom earns in a month. My wedding's starting in less than half an hour. And I'm standing in the dirt, miles away from the church, in front of a river (the river strikes her as particularly ridiculous for some reason) with my stepbrother. Do you see anything wrong in the picture?"

Because the strangest thing is; she doesn't. She doesn't see anything wrong in the picture. And it takes hold of her with something close to panic.

"You were ten minutes late," he's matter-of-fact, but she feels a stab of triumph as she looks at his face because he can't always hide that well, "by the bus timings."

And he'd thought she wasn't coming, and sometimes any part of infinity is still infinity, even ten minutes, "I was… thinking…I waited at the bus stop for ten minutes," she answers as if it's explanation enough. Like she hadn't thought of turning back and running away because this is them, and they're like...like...cats and dogs, day and night...toothpaste and orange juice. Total disasters together. Like he doesn't already know all this, because he has the freaking password to her inner craziness.

"I can drive you," he says, inscrutably, "right now. There's time enough and a number of excuses. Nobody's surprised when the Prince breaks down."

"I am not riding to my wedding in the Prince," she says indignantly, "and my feet are too tired. I can't move."

"I'll carry you."

Why does he have to make everything that much harder, "I don't like you right now, so you can't touch me. I hate being touched when I'm mad at somebody."

He smiles suddenly, and it's been so long that it actually makes her ache a little, "I know."

"You mess me up," she shoves her finger into his chest and pushes him, because it hurts a lot, a lot more like a paper cut than a bruise, "you jerk. What was with the stunt you played yesterday, I thought..." she stops before she allows any inflection to creep in her voice. She's not the best actress when it comes to him. Living with him has done a number on her.

"I..." and he's still looking amused and she's sure he's going to make a stupid joke and she hates, hates him and why does he always..."you turned away."

"I...turned away?"

"When I kissed you," he says impatiently, like she's half-witted, which, considering present circumstances, she probably is, "you turned away. And you looked like... I don't know, like it was so wrong and all your morals were revolting or some shit and you couldn't stand to be kissed by me and, god, Casey, what was I supposed to do? Walk away like some jilted lover, like you'd broken my heart or something? Well fuck it, I'm not going to okay. I'm not going to sit around and play fucking love songs or something or write poetry or whatever. Stand and watch you at the altar with someone else and regret. I'm not..."

"...that guy." She completes, because he's not, "you'd have gotten drunk and slept with my bridesmaid. And you'd have passed by me, close enough to touch till I'd have gone insane. You'd have flirted outrageously with every single girl there, till I couldn't have looked at you without wanting to strangle you. Till..."

She stops suddenly. It just feels too much right now. Like she just passed by a profound moment. And him and her; they're not good at those. They never have been. It feels like she's just given her heart to someone who is a bigger klutz than she is when it comes to things like this. And she's still waiting for him to drop it.

"...till I'd have gone home to an empty flat and probably landed at your honeymoon spot or something. In the same hotel. In the next door room. Met you at dinnertime accidentally. Stayed with both of you throughout. Hooked up with every girl in the vicinity, and their hair would never have been the right shade or in the right state of degeneration and the eyes would never reflect that exact degree of craziness," he's half-smiling.

Maybe he won't drop it this time. Maybe he's done beating it with his stupid hockey stick, and it's in the freaking basket or goal or whatever.

"What about them?"

It has to be asked, and it's odd that he's the one asking, but it's the question that she can't answer, because she loves them and she hates hurting them and the strangest thing is she loves him too. Love is so dysfunctional. Her romance novels were way off the mark. And then she smiles suddenly, "you know they love us, even when we do strange things of life threatening idiocy."

She sits on the dirt-encrusted ground and maybe there's a special sort of hell for people like her, and it's drawn out of her anyway, "You and Roxy. You were a...you made...a beautiful couple. You looked...perfect... together."

"Water," he says inexplicably, moronically, Derekally.

"What?"

"Look in the water."

She doesn't want to, because he's told her to. But she looks and they're both reflected, and her hair is a mess, but so is his, and yeah, it's okay sometimes.

"And it's all your fault," she can't blush. Not in front of him. Her heart hammering in her chest. Like some virgin bride- the irony is not lost on her- but him and her together, it's just like, god, she doesn't know... "If you'd driven the other car we could have gone back, and I'd have gotten...married. But I refuse to drive to the most important day of my life in that heap of junk you call a car… I can throw stones further than you."

He scoffs openly, "in your fantasies, yeah maybe. If even your imagination can stretch that far, that is."

She stands awkwardly at the base of a tree trunk, the yards of white steadily losing their sheen, not looking at him.

"I'm just a girl. Standing in front of a boy. Asking him to love her," she says, because she's always wanted to say it to the right guy, and it's not the fault of her childhood dreams that he's the right guy. And anyway, he's probably never even seen Notting Hill because he doesn't know what a rom-com is. "I still think your hair is stupid," she adds, for counterbalance, because she's not going to say more than him and let him have something over her.

The thing about their general weirdness is that it doesn't really change. It just shifts base from one action to another. So whether they're challenging each other to a stone throwing competition or kissing hard, desperately, it's pretty much the same and it's always been that easy actually.


"I wasn't drunk," he says, staring straight ahead, as his stone splashes somewhere further than hers.

"You're a lousy actor," her stone surpasses his this time, "and you have lousy timing."

She's sitting in just her white slip and his coat, because he's weird and possessive like that and he couldn't bear kissing her in a wedding gown she'd worn for someone else. And it's too late now by his damn watch and maybe the regret will be coming soon when this hour of madness is over.

"How long." yeah, she's curious. It's him.

He shrugs his shoulders, "Since you sang my almost-love-song. Bought those ugly earrings and that ghastly neon orange shirt. Burnt my chocolate-chip pancakes."

She almost turns then to look at him. Almost. But this is too big and huge and maybe it'll explode in her face or something if she does, "that was... seven years ago, Derek."

"Has it been that long since I had my last psychiatric appointment?"

(And it's like a jolt of electricity as he covers her hand on the ground with his, and he doesn't really know how it's done and what should be said, so he's crushing her hand in this really awkward manner, but the sudden wave of tenderness makes her feel like someone deliberately crossed wires inside her chest.)

For once she doesn't say anything and he doesn't say anything and it's his hand and hers and they're two people staring ahead at the water flowing past.

Sometimes, it just takes a while.


Fin.


Call back to The Graduate is obvious :) The last scene is meant to be imagined like the ending bus-scene in the movie. It's one of my absolute favorites.