peering through the jail bars

His toes are dangerously close to the fire and she wonders anxiously if he'll notice before his feet get burned.

She is reading a book, her type of book, trashy, cheesy romance novels with extra steamy scenes, naturally. Derek hasn't discovered her fetish for tacky romance so she's safe with the taping a random cover of Advanced Calculus over the perfectly-sized paperback. It's inconvenient, because she has to be extra careful she doesn't bend the covers and then it would all go to hell.

A few scattered barks from the campsite down the road have her looking up and anxiously peering into the pitch black. George, Nora, Marti, and Edwin have long since gone to bed and she's worried that if she goes Derek will stay up all night.

Not that it's her problem. Well, he is her brother after all.

Casey bites her lip and passes her gaze over Derek, trying to seem like it was by accident. He's smirking, unsurprisingly, but his eyes are a little glazed from staring into the campfire for half an hour. She sits completely still and is amused when his arm shoots out to ensure she's there.

"Morning, Derek," she teases. It's safe to smile, he can't see her after all.

His brow furrows in confusion, but he lets go of her left shoulder (stretched anymore and it would have hit her breast… awkward) and turns back to the fire silently. She frowns.

His feet are propped on the disposed, now-cooled grill where Edwin scorched miserably at least three sausages. All one after the other. Lizzie couldn't be bothered to come, she was having fun, living the high life, dating and doing parties. She'd whispering conspiratorially to Derek and Casey that she was throwing a huge social so if they would please keep George and Mom happy, because they would go easier on her when they got home if they weren't already pissed.

That was what she'd learned from Derek. Don't deny it, just flow with the repercussions. Honesty is the best strategy.

Casey leveled her a disapproving glare but Derek just offered a high five, promising to do all in his power and Casey's to keep Dad and Nora gloriously happy, beyond all human conceivability. Lizzie gushed but Casey rolled her eyes and stalked away at his dramatics.

He still doesn't respond to her earlier jibe. "What, no ingenious remark?" Casey encourages subtly. He's silent.

She notices yawn fight its way past his mouth and restrains a smile that she can manage to stay up later than him, the party boy. Smirk.

"I don't think you'll understand the depth of my ingenuisness," he responds.

"That's not even a word." She puts on her best snotty voice.

"It is now." His tone ends the conversation and she can't think of the other million remarks she'd have made if it were any other day. Brain dead.

She frowns at him, he who's staring into the fire like he's searching for the meaning of life. Casey's twisted unnaturally in her seat, facing him, straining her eyes to see her book by firelight. Her head is turned toward blackness which she tries desperately to ignore, but it's there, pressing on her eyes like the sunlight. She focuses on the trash book.

Saviors of the Sea, it's called, by an unmemorable name like Tiffany McBimbo or something.

"I'm going to bed," Derek says abruptly, standing up and throwing off his half the pink, heart dotted blanket she had offered, being surprised at his acceptance. The symbolicness of the blanket threw her off, it was like an offering of peace, of love, binding their hearts in…sisterhood. On her part.


Like she'd offered love to him in the fluffy, impossibly soft blanket, and he'd accepted. It had warmed her heart. In a sisterly way.

"Ok," she says, surprised at how small her voice sounds. He hesitates, then nods jerkily and heads off to his tent, mysteriously knowing how to find it in the darkness. He glances at her once before zipping it open, but she doesn't see.

She settles back into her chair, placed so close to the empty one that one held Derek, ignoring the side of the blanket that's dragging on the ground, the dirt. She places her feet on the abandoned grill, which is leaning on the side of the metal half-bubble that crackles and burns. It holds the fire. Like she does.

She feels the heat on her toes, building and building until she can't bear it anymore, and yet she still doesn't move, fixated watching the smoke swirl through her toes.

They are dangerously close to the fire and she ponders briefly if she'll notice before her feet get burned.