AN: super messy. a not-so-happy ending to the ever-so-cliche, 'casey's getting married'.

a review would be great, but i'm really just looking to get rid of all this random angst that's still in my brain.

---

Gravity, stay the hell away from me

Derek won a speech contest in the fourth grade.

The trophy still sits on the mantle, over the fireplace. Derek Venturi, it proudly announces, first place, followed by illegible scratched out scrawl (Abby had to get a new nail file the next week).

Only five people in the world know what it's for: his parents, Edwin, and of course, Casey.

(the last one never lets him forget.)


"Derek, please. I need you to give a speech. I can't count on Edwin to do it right," she pouts into the phone.

Why had he bothered to even pick up?

"I'm not giving the fucking speech at your wedding. You couldn't pay me enough to do it."

"But you're so good at it! Remember the fourth grade?" And he hears the obnoxious laughter caught in her throat.

"You weren't even there," he reminds tiredly. It's only 8:30, the sky is barely pale blue, but he can hardly keep his eyes propped open.

"So? Don't deny it. I know that's what the trophy was for."

"Get Lizzie to give it. Get Ed to do it. Hell, get Marti. I'm not giving any speeches. Ever." His voice is gravelly and exhaustion pours out of each word.

"Hey, are you okay?" she asked with sudden concern.

"I'm tired, and I'd like to sleep. If that's okay with you, your majesty," his sarcasm bites back.

"De-rek," she replies with exasperation, "Cut the crap. What's wrong?"

"Cut the crap? What are you, five?"

What is he supposed to say? The idea of her getting married just doesn't sit well with him? That her seemingly perfect husband just doesn't seem right for her? He sounds like an utter fag, even inside his own head.

"Okay. I can see this is getting nowhere. So, I'll need you to pick me up at two tomorrow afternoon to go get my last alterations finished."

"What?! Just get Liz or Nora to take you."

"Can't. They're busy," and he hears the smugness, pictures the smugness, feels like mentally stabbing the smugness. Before he can answer, her perky voice returns, "Alright. See you tomorrow! Bye."

Fuck.


He calls Sally.

Good, old, reliable Sally.

"Can you be my date? To Casey's wedding? Please," he throws in for good measure.

"Derek, you're going to Casey's wedding? Are you sure that's a good—"

"I'm not sure where you're going with this, and I have a feeling I don't want to know. Please just answer the question. Are you or are you not available the twentieth of this month?"

"I am…" her voice trails off, and he can tell she wants to throw in her two cents.

"Great. It's settled."

"But, Derek, anyone in their right mind can see how this night is going to end. You're going to get utterly, mind-numbingly shit-faced because you can't handle your own emotions, and you're going to nail the first five girls you see, preferably at the same time, because you just don't want to have to watch the bride and groom. It's inevitable, Derek."

He's silent.

Then he hangs up.


He picks her up at two-thirty.

"Derek, you're half an hour late. God, you're such a pain. I bet you weren't even doing anything important. I bet you were screwing around with some girl. I bet you were sitting in your apartment playing video games. I bet you—"

"—were working on your wedding speech." He answers, teeth clenched, looking straight ahead.

She stares at him.

"Are you serious? Because I thought you said…"

"Where's the damn dress store?" his grip on the steering wheel tightens.

"Oh, I'm sorry. It's on the corner of Belmont and Ridge Avenue. Next to the shoe store," she turns away, suddenly focusing all her energy onto picking at her hangnail.

At the red light, he watches her. Not obviously, not creepily, but he watches the way she bites lightly on the side of her nail. He takes in her blue eyes and long, long legs. The bottom of her skirt is ruffled, as if she'd been in a hurry, and her hair is tossed carelessly onto the top of her head. She's not wearing perfume, and she smells like Vanilla. She has a smudge of icing on her cheek and her mascara is clumped.

"What, were you baking and putting on your makeup at the same time?" he remarks casually, as he shifts his car back into drive.

"Sort of," she admits.

"Makes sense," he shoots back.

"Well, Michael came over while I was baking a batch of cookies to bring over to Mom and George's tonight," she begins.

"Enough," he grimaces, "Too much information."

She lurches forward as he jerks his foot onto the brake, and her purse falls open, spilling everything onto her lap and floor.

He rolls his eyes. She's so Casey, he wants to die.


The hair-pulled-back-too-tightly-makeup-applied-excessively assistant at the wedding dress store plops him down on a white leather couch, and carefully hands him a cup of water, as if he's four.

He laughs at the irony. They think he's clumsy?

As the red velvet curtain parts, a woman stands before him. He can't recognize her. He can tell that she's Casey, pride and anguish spread across her complexion, but he can't recognize her at all.

"So, what do you think?" she asks, almost shyly, which causes him to almost choke on his water.

"It's a wedding dress. It looks like a wedding dress," he replies matter-of-factly.

It's the color of coffee creamer. Crème, Casey informs him. It clings to her in (in the perspective of an outsider male, not any of the ones currently in the room) the right places, tighter in the strapless top and waist, and flowing wildly into a train.

"De-rek ," she frowns, "Can I get some other adjectives? Preferably one that's, dare I say, nice?"

"If you pull a Klutzilla in that dress, you're dead," he laughs at the picture, her sprawled ungracefully among hundreds.

"I should've known nice wasn't in your vocabulary."

His jaw snaps shut because he can't see anything he says next going well. He turns away, as she walks up to the seamstress to thank her. This feeling of anger that he can't explain, is confusing the hell out of him. He suddenly wants to punch his step -sister's fiancée in the gonads and he hasn't even met the little fucker.

She's going to be walking down the aisle. In that dress. And getting married. To that man. That he doesn't know. The idea suddenly repulses him.

"You ready to go?" Casey asks, raising an eyebrow at his zoned-out face, and he quickly snaps back into reality.

She's dressed normally again, and he can breathe, finally.

"Sure."


The dinner.

He's dreaded this dinner for weeks now. The family is expecting him to play the supportive brother role. ("Step brother," he always manages to correct them.)

He steps inside of the McDonald-Venturi household for the first time in what seems like years. Everything is smaller, more foreign. Kind of like a dollhouse. Everything looks fake, even the poised smiles of his dad and Nora's faces.

"Smerek!" a voice exclaims, and Derek turns around to face what seems like a fully-grown teenage girl.

"Marti," he smiles, "You're so old!"

"No, Derek," she says seriously, "You're so old."

"That's true. I'm getting a cane soon, and then they're promoting me to a wheelchair. In fact, I get the senior discount on the public bus now."

Marti laughs and his discomfort slowly slips away.

Until the doorbell rings.

The mahogany door swings open to reveal a jubilant Casey, with wind-tossed hair, accompanied by a smiling, handsome man with slicked back blonde hair.

"Hi, everyone!" the (disgusting) smile, grows wider on both Casey and her fiancée.

"Hello, Michael," Nora greets, pulling him into a hug. He pulls back and kisses her cheek. Blushing and swatting him playfully, she replies, "Michael, why don't you and Casey give your coats to George and he'll hang them up in the closet."

Derek raises an eyebrow from the couch. Since when do they hang coats up in a closet? It's always been the coat tree.

Marti senses his confusion and whispers, "They've been at this all week. They're determined to be classy for Michael and his family, because they're apparently like some kind of royalty in Britian."

Oh, that's what was wrong with Michael's voice. Derek had been hoping it was some kind of deformity. Instead, it was a British accent.

Casey takes it upon herself to get right to the introductions, "Michael, this is George, my step-father. Always laugh at his jokes," she mock-whispers into his ear, loud enough for everyone to hear.

"Hey!" George protests, a grin slipping onto his face, nonetheless.

"This is my step-sister Marti. She's sassy as anything. This is Lizzie, who loves to play soccer. And then there's Edwin. He's pretty much a mini-George. So same applies for him," she sums each person up into one sentence.

Derek gives her a pointed look, "I'm Derek. Casey's step brother."

"I was getting to you," she growls, "This is Derek. Just ignore everything he says."

Derek laughs, "And that's her idea of an insult. I'm actually the most normal one of the family," and he sticks his hand out to shake Michael's.

His firm grip is somewhat of a threat, but Michael doesn't take it that way.

"So nice to meet all of you," Michael grins again, his eyes crinkling, narrowing his set of green eyes (Casey calls them dazzling, Derek informs her they're somewhat the color of vomit), and his pearly whites sparkling under the light ("They're so perfect!" Casey exclaims, "they're fake," Derek counters.)

Derek doesn't say another word at dinner.


After Michael leaves, Nora insists they all stay the night.

"It'd be pointless to have to drive back tomorrow," she reasons, "because you've got your wedding rehearsal and dinner."

"Fine," the two eldest grumble, figuring there protesting will do no good.

"So it's settled. You guys can stay in your old rooms."

The pounding on the bathroom door begins as Derek is brushing his teeth.

"What," he pulls the door open to reveal a towel-clothed Casey.

"Oh my God, I thought you were Lizzie. Lizzie said she would be done a half hour ago and I thought…"

Her eyes go everywhere but his bare chest.

She grips the towel a little tighter, and he's holding his breath again.

Suddenly, he's tired of running, "I'm going to finish brushing my teeth. And then I'm going to shower. You can wait your turn, princess."

"You've been in here for half an hour. I know girls who take less time than you," she fights back, regaining composure.

"That's nice to know, sis," he uses the word as if it were a curse.

She steps back, "I'll be back in five minutes."

"You're going to give up? Just like that? What, you think it's wrong for brother and sister to fight half naked for the bathroom? No. It's perfectly normal."

"We're not… brother… and sister," she whispers, because he's stepping closer.

"No, we're not," he agrees, and he sees the flash of gray in her eyes.

"That's not what I meant. We are. We are brother and sister," her breath caught at the end of the word.

"Make up your mind, sis."

"I have, bro," a puff of wind comes out with the word, blowing onto his chest as he towers over her.

"Doesn't seem like it." He almost roughly, but gently (he's becoming somewhat of an oxymoron) tucks a falling piece of hair behind her ear.

"Derek…" she looks up, her blue eyes like arrows, piercing in.

He leans down to whisper in her ear, hoping, praying that she can't hear the pounding of his heart against his ribcage (he can hear it loud and clear).

Her breath hitches as his mouth hits the curve of her ear, "I thought you were coming back in five minutes."

And he promptly slams the door.


He sits in his chair, in his familiar room, blackness pouring over him.

It's three in the morning, and he's nursing a bottle of whiskey, watching the blackness swirl into colors above him.

His door cracks open and he winces at the light from the hallway.

"Derek?" the mysterious figure asks.

"Shut up. Shut the door. Go away," even in his less-than-sober state, he has an idea of who it is.

"I can't sleep."

"Neither can I, thanks to you," he replies.

"Derek, I'm serious. I'm getting married. In two days."

"I'm not. In two days."

Casey comes into focus as she flicks on the small lamp in his room, carefully closing the door behind her.

"What are you doing? I asked you to leave."

"Please, I just want to talk. You sounded seriously messed up on the phone that night. What's wrong with you—"

She stops abruptly, "Are you drunk?"

"Yes." He doesn't beat around the bush.

"In our old house, Derek? Really? Where George or my mom or Liz or Marti or—"

"You're still talking. I told you to go away."

"I just want to talk, Derek."

"Fine," he stands up suddenly, so suddenly that a mug filled with coffee flips and spills onto the floor. He ignores it, "We'll talk."

"What're you doing?" she asks, watching him stalk angrily over to the corner of the bed she is currently occupying.

"Why're you so nervous?" his hot whiskey breath blows out onto her face.

"I'm…"

"You're a fucking pain in the ass, that's what you are. I said get out, and you won't. I said shut up, and you won't. You're just like a boomerang. You keep coming the fuck back."

"Fine," she whispers, "I'll leave."

He grabs her wrists. "No. You want to talk. Let's talk."

"Why did you ask Sally to my wedding?"

"Is that a problem?" he takes another swig of his drink.

"No, it's just… I thought you guys had broken up."

"Not everything's a clean line. It's not a perfect world, princess."

"I hate it when you call me that," she grimaces, he can see under the dim lighting.

"I hate you."

She looks genuinely hurt and he's suddenly scarily satisfied, so he continues, "I know you're scared of me. Because I'm the only one in the world who knows you're not perfect. So you push me away. Stop, just stop. Either stay the fuck away from me or stop pretending I'm just like everyone else."

She's quiet for too long, "You hate me?"

Her voice is so small; he can't bear to look at her anymore.

"I hate who you pretend to be."

"Fuck you, Derek," and he can hear the comforting hatred in her voice. He feels the corner of his lips rise, she's finally, finally breaking and he's ecstatic.

"I hate how you pretend this relationship is normal for brother and sister."

"I said fuck you," her whisper sounds more like a scream.

"Does Mr. Perfect British Guy make you feel like this?" And he leans dangerously closer.

"Like what? Like I want to claw his eyes out? Like he thinks he can judge me because he 'knows I'm pretending'? No! He doesn't. Most people would say that's a good thing."

"No, does he make you feel like this," Derek leans in and, as if his mind is suddenly detached from his body, he pushes his mouth roughly against hers.

She doesn't kiss him back.

(but he can still feel her holding her breath.)


In the morning, they pretend it never happened. It's cliché and predictable. But they do it anyway.

He drives away immediately after breakfast, and is MIA through the entire rehearsal. He doubts anyone notices he's gone anyway.

And he's almost right.


Suddenly it's the wedding day.

It's Casey's wedding day, and he's attending out of spite.

As he picks Sally up, she watches him warily, "You sure you want to do this? We can do something else, you know."

"Why wouldn't I want to be at my sister's wedding?"

She eyes him as he climbs into the car.

"Why would you?"

"Besides, I'm giving a wedding toast, so it'd be a little disrespectful to ditch," he snaps back, pulling the brake handle down.

She sighs dramatically, "Oh, Derek."

He doesn't watch the wedding. In fact, he makes it a point to ignore it. George shoots him dirty looks from the row in front of him, and Nora sighs as she watches him tap away on his phone.

Sally nudges him numerous times, but he's too busy pretending he's immersed in his game of Tetris to notice there's a girl walking down the aisle.

That's all she is. A stupid girl.

Dinner rolls around, and he's staring at the fork and his glass, which seems to be calling him. Without warning, he taps the fork to his glass, and the clinking immediately calls attention to everyone.

His eyes meet Casey's as he stands up, and he sees the pleading in hers.

"I guess I'm supposed to give the supportive brother speech right about now," he begins, "but I'll just put it out there. Michael, if you mess with Casey, I won't even have to kick your ass. She'll do it for me."

That draws a chuckle from the audience. But he's not joking.

"Congratulations, man." And he can't say any more. Casey's not looking at him anymore, and she's smiling that same (disgusting) smile at Michael, placing her hand over his.

He walks away. He doesn't deserve any trophies for that speech, and he knows it.

Sally finds him near the bar later.

"More or less exactly what I predicted," she says, looking at him pointedly.

"No shit."

"Look, you're clearly in lo—"

He kisses her. For all that he's worth, he kisses her like a guy is supposed to kiss a girl.

And she kisses back (unlike…)

"Derek, stop." She pulls back, "This is already starting to go down the exact road I said it would."

"You're just one girl. Not five."

"Stop it. I don't know what it is with you and Casey, but you've built this lie. Everyone else can see through it, but you two can't and one day, you're going to regret it."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Cut the crap, Derek."

Suddenly his head hurts so badly he wants to cry.

"I hate it when you sound like Casey."

And he kisses her again. He kisses her because he's supposed to, because she smells like vanilla, because she's a girl that isn't related to him.

He sees Casey watching over his shoulder, and he kisses Sally harder.

He kisses her because hey, guess what?

He can pretend, too.