I don't own LWD. I'm honestly not cheating on Delayed Satisfaction, but random ideas sometimes don't fit in there and need a bit of breathing space. Fluffy OC Dasey one-shot.
They've been standing there in the doorway, half in half out, for more than two minutes, despite the frozen wind bearing down into the hallway; despite the fierce shouts from Marti that she is … COLD!
Edwin's watching them quizzically.
In any case, he's beginning to think that doing a statistical study of the number of times his brother and stepsister stop and change whatever they're about to say or do when the other one walks in a room, or out of it, or into a house, or in or out of a car might yield interesting results.
But this time it all looks to be a bit more awkward. This time they aren't even saying anything. They're just looking.
More like staring, actually.
'What is it? I'm trying to finish building this plaster cast of a banana for the science exhibition on "useful fruit".'
'Whhaat? So that's what this completely weird thing is… I thought it was a giant-'
'Shut up Edwin, before I-' Lizzie comes at him with her messy hands, Plaster of Paris dusted all over her hair and eyebrows like frosting on a fairy cake.
By the time Edwin remembers what he'd been about to show her, the front door has banged shut, Casey has gone out; Derek has come in and is stomping the snow from his trouser cuffs in the hallway, whistling lazily along to some tune that only he knows.
His brown hair is wind-ruffled and his eyes are shining.
But Edwin isn't wrong.
As Casey tramps painfully through the drifts to the bus stop, she's wondering about the same thing: the fact that for the fourth time in as many days she and Derek have simply stood and looked at each other in silence, totally inarticulate.
The third time it happens… well you might put that down to nerves. They've both just done a presentation together in front of a silent English class. And the teacher has not responded as yet. They are fidgety, almost falling over with anxiety, but Derek turns to say something to Casey, something silly about how she's blown it, even though he knows she was amazing. Then their eyes meet, and the three seconds between that moment and the teacher's response stretch like hot desert sands between them. Sure, this could be nerves.
The second time it happens they're at the dinner table and everyone's talking and Derek says slyly,
'Spacey's got a crush on this boy at school. She's been acting more weird around him than usual and people are talking about her.'
Then everyone's grinning. Grinning but silent. Apprehensive of another potential Casey and Derek moment.
'Is he cute, Smerek?' says Marti, attacking her spaghetti with a pink fork and hence unable to see the sparks flying from Casey's eyes.
'Yes, tell us more, what's he like?' says Nora, teasingly.
'Mother…' Casey's voice is husky, pleading.
And Derek opens his mouth to speak. That's when it happens. He sees her shoulder, which has appeared momentarily as she runs a nervous hand through her hair and her treacherous red dress slips. Lifting his gaze he finds himself pinned in a gorgeous blue glare. He doesn't know why he's the one whose mouth is dry. Derek Venturi is never embarrassed.
'Ask her', he says, nonplussed. They look at Casey, but she's still looking at him, a blush newly subsiding across her cheekbones.
Finally everyone's talking again, about mundane things, and the two of them are sitting there, looking openly across the table at each other. Not eating, although Casey's hand is still on her fork and she toys with her food, stroking the tines along each strand of spaghetti; not eating, although Derek's left index finger moves slowly around the rim of his plate.
The first time it happens, neither of them is expecting it.
He has demanded to work with her on their Lit presentation the following day because the teacher has told him it's the make or break one for the whole year. If he gets a decent grade – then he'll be home free (as most of his other grades have improved dramatically this year). So… she understands why he's asked her and she agrees.
But she doesn't understand why, in the middle of their argument about whether male writers can ever do justice to female characters (they're reading Anne Brontë's subtle tale, The Tenant of Wildfeld Hall) and whether all female writers have an axe to grind with men – there comes a point of no return.
In fact they have both gotten so heated that they are almost spitting with frustration. Derek hates the book for its representation of the heroine's husband as relentlessly womanising and cruel; he wants to express this in his commentary. Casey's convinced that the depiction is simply the tip of the iceberg – men in those days could be utter brutes and women had to suffer in silence. Men these days are little better.
'Don't you understand what a wonderful heroine she is? She doesn't care about conventions. She leaves that evil man and goes to make a life with someone else – in those days – can you imagine what that was like!'
'But she is telling the story. She can say whatever she wants about her husband. How fair is that? What's his side of the story? Why should we trust her? '
'Because she has no reason to lie. Does she? She even feels sorry for him.'
'Women lie all the time to make themselves out to be better than they are so that people will like them. They blame everything on men. And other blokes are happy to listen to these sob stories and respond.'
'Oh, really? But you're one of these people who thinks that men get a raw deal, that women are a different species.'
He runs his hand through his hair. 'I didn't say that.'
The argument has raged on for an hour. Even Edwin and Lizzie have tired of listening at the door. Nora has smiled to herself and gone to bed.
Inexplicably, all their words dry up.
They are simply looking at each other, gazing, eyes locked.
Abruptly Casey breaks out of her trance, turns on her heel and leaves his room, swinging the door lightly to with her foot so that it won't bang shut.
He's left with the afterimage of her white tank top, her slim brown arms, the charming line of her nose and lips and the warmth in her eyes.
Casey walks and walks in the snow until it's getting dark and her shoes are wet. She's forgotten where she's going. She's thinking about the incident at dinner the previous night; about the way they forgot what they were saying as they met on the doorstep; about the argument in his bedroom. Snatches of some French song keep drifting through her head. It's all about love, of course.
Although they never did resolve their differences, when they're done with their presentation, no-one would have guessed they'd argued. They talk seamlessly, segueing in and out, explaining their positions in a manner so passionate that it shows the complexity of the book and misses none of its historical context.
Derek sits in his room, thinking. He never thinks about Sally these days, even though she's written to him several times. His mind is all in the present. He's listening for Casey's key in the door.
It's the weekend before Christmas; Friday night. Casey has a cold and is snuggled on the sofa in front of the television; the rest of the household is in bed.
Derek comes home from a party, which he has not enjoyed. He made sure that Casey was invited; he made sure that there was no way she would ever know that he was the one who had her invited; and he made absolutely certain that the person who invited her thinks she's been invited for a joke; it was all taken care of. Then she went and got a cold.
Now he's home early, thinking she's gone to bed, feeling that he doesn't know what to do with himself anymore.
Instead she's there in the living room curled into her pyjamas and shawl, red-nosed but smiling at him; and for once he cannot resist. He walks past his chair and stands next to her.
'That bad, huh?' She's still smiling up at him.
'Too many stupid girls getting drunk and having bust ups with their boyfriends. If you can't hold your drink – don't jump in the pool. '
'You missed me!' She's bunged up, but gleeful.
She's waiting for him to say something insulting, anything to show that he didn't miss her, because this is how it's always been.
But, unable to speak again, all Derek can do is look down at her. He's looked at her like this before, she recalls, quiet and serious, and then just when she's wanted to reach out and take his hand, he's burst out laughing, thrown her affection in her face.
When he doesn't speak for the longest time, she panics, sits up stiffly, starts to say she's about to go to bed, although it's clear that the film she's watching has barely begun.
'Casey.' The longing is so absolutely plain in his eyes.
Casey has started shaking.
Years of denial and misdirection and trickery; months of avoidance and hysteria and jealousy. All leading inexorably to this.
'I'm so tired.'
'So am I.'
'Don't lie, Derek, you're never tired. You only got up at four.'
'But today I am. I want to go to bed.' He's got a strand of her hair now and is winding it around one of his fingers, not taking his eyes off her mouth. The motion of his hand moves her face towards him.
'Don't look at me like that.'
'As if I'm one of those girls. The ones you're "into". Like you've been doing –'
'– Like I've been doing all these years?'
'What were you going to say, that day in class at the end of our presentation?'
'Why did you walk so long in the snow yesterday? Just the usual Casey melodrama?'
'I'm ill.' Normally that would make him run a mile.
'Oh, so you can't answer? You brought it on yourself and I've got nowhere to go tomorrow.'
They're out of conversation. Inarticulate again.
He's still standing by the sofa. She's standing too now, shakily. They're face to face, the way they have been on more than a hundred other occasions in their confrontation filled daily routine. And it all makes so much sense.
The ice-cream in hair, dyed clothes, bets with parents, silly poems, covert looks, copy-cat pranks, spying, cheating, shoulder bumping, inexplicable heart thumping, secret smiles, waiting for each other.
So much sense.
Then Casey sneezes. And Derek jumps, pulling her hair gently before he lets the strand fall. And she blows her nose. And they laugh.
Then she reaches up on her toes, rosy-cheeked, wobbly-kneed, and they're kissing and back down on the couch again.
And two hours later in Derek's bed, they're still kissing, kissing, kissing. Fully clothed, souls bared.
Soft, tiny, fluffy kisses that tickle and sparkle. Burning open-mouthed kisses that send bemused germs spiralling from her tongue to his on a rollercoaster of germ fun. Joyous kisses that make breathing seem immoral. Warmth now burning brightly under their skin, under closed eyelids, through live-wire stroking fingers.
The inarticulate sounds of pleasure are perfectly understood.
It's taken them three years, eight months and four days to get to this stage. If they are lucky, they'll each live to be eighty. There certainly isn't any reason to rush anything.
You don't have to review, because this is fluff pure and simple, but I won't know who you are if you don't!