Chapter 1: Reunions and Preparations
[Sat. June 26, 2004]
Graduation day had finally arrived and I was overwhelmed with excitement. My speech was all memorized and basically what I believed the future had in store for us and something everyone could relate to. And if all else fails, I could just wing it. Everyone else in the house were all frantic, apparently Derek had already left and told Edwin that he wasn't going to graduation which caused George to freak out. Lizzie was stuck watching over Marti and Nora just seemed to have her mind elsewhere as if something else was going to happen.
I was all dressed and ready to go in my purple and black halter floral dress that went up to my mid-thigh with a black sash just below my bust. I also had the silver charm bracelet that Sam had given me before we had said our goodbyes as well as the silver ring Dean gave me as my goodbye gift. I was all ready and waiting downstairs when Aunt Nora came up from her basement bedroom.
"Mom, where is everyone?" I asked Aunt Nora as I waited in the quiet dining room. I had to call Aunt Nora 'mom' while I was living with her. It hurt at times but I never got the chance to know my real mom, Mary, since she died in the fire when I was only seven months old.
"Everyone's in the car but I'm just looking for something." Aunt Nora answered as she paced around the kitchen looking.
"Are you okay? You seem distracted."
"Yeah, I'm fine, just looking for my camera." Before I could say anything the door bell rang. "Casey, could you get the door for me?"
"Doesn't George have a key to get in?"
"It's not George. I'm expecting these people, so please could you?"
"Alright." I turned around and headed to the front door as I heard Aunt Nora scrambling to find the camera.
My eyes were staring at the doorknob and once I opened the door I saw two pairs of well dress legs that seemed to be in suits. I slowly moved my gaze to the two faces and my eyes widened at the sight of two guys in casual looking suits with huge smiles on their faces and I couldn't help but smile too. They weren't just two guys, they were my brothers. Sam and Dean were standing before me all dressed up which I don't remember ever seeing them like that. I was speechless.
"Are we too late?" Dean asked which brought my attention back to my brothers.
"For your graduation." Sam added in trying to get through my fogged out state but I could feel my eyes widen once again. 'I couldn't believe it.'
"You guys came for my graduation?"
"Of course, why else would I put on this monkey suit? It may not be formal but it's still a monkey suit." Dean explained while he complained about wearing a suit. Dean never liked dressing up, even when he had to do with the hunts; he just never liked it while Sam, on the other hand didn't mind it much.
"You look great in the monkey suit, Dean. You too, Sam." Casey quipped to Dean before spreading the compliment which gave her one smile and a smirk. It was like I was getting back in routine with my brothers, as if nothing has changed and no time has passed since the last time we've seen one another. My brothers did look good, damn good if I was to be honest. At least now I know why women keep throwing themselves at my brothers, the last time I physically saw them was well before boys were even an issue on my mind. Oh the simpler days.
"You don't look so bad yourself Case." Dean complimented me which caused me to mirror the smirk that was on Dean's face.
"You do look amazing Case." Sam added in turning my smirk into a smile as I looked between them.
"Thanks guys." I grabbed both boys and pulled them in for a group hug.
"No problem but what's with the surprised look?" Sam asked while we ended the hug. I ushered them inside before shutting the door before I answered.
"I didn't expect to see my brothers today. I thought I was going to see you guys in two months. Plus when I called yesterday you didn't say anything." I explained with a smile on my face. I still couldn't believe they were here. Sam and Dean both shared a questioning look with one another before Sam said anything.
"Didn't Aunt Nora tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
"She called us last week telling us your decision and when your graduation was. Luckily we weren't on a hunt but we still had to drive a long way and cross the border. She told us not to say anything because she was going to tell you." Dean explained as he moved further into the house until he was leaning against Derek's recliner.
"Aunt Nora-" Just then Aunt Nora came to greet my brothers with the camera in her hands.
"Great! You boys made it. I hope it was alright to call them Casey." Aunt Nora rushed out as she moved to the end of the stairs causing Dean to straighten up.
"You kidding! I love it!" I quickly rushed to hug Aunt Nora before turning to my brothers. "But where's Dad?"
"He is on a hunt but he wishes he were here." Sam stated as I saw Dean giving me a nod before tilting his head to the side and really looking at me. Was there something on my face?
"Just wondering why your eyes are all of a sudden blue. I'm pretty sure eye color doesn't change in four years." Dean smirked as I gaped at the comment. Dean chuckled and then Sam moved to look at my face too.
"Oh yeah, they are blue."
"Color contacts, since neither Aunt Nora nor Uncle Dennis have our eye color." I explained before looking to Aunt Nora, basically pleading to her with my eyes to let me take them off. I absolutely love my natural eye color and I've hated that I've had to wear the contacts. Both Dean and I have hazel green eyes, like our mom, while Sam has the chocolate brown eyes, like our dad, but if you look close enough you could see a swirl of hazel green mixed in there.
"You can take them out Honey, you should be you from now on." Aunt Nora stated with a smile on her face. I quickly ran upstairs to take the color contacts out as Aunt Nora stayed with my brothers.
I couldn't help but slightly chuckle when Casey ran upstairs to get the contacts out. I'm definitely glad that she didn't have her shoes on because then she may have twisted her ankle and that is never good. I can't believe how much Casey has grown up in four years. Sure I saw her on T.V. when she was in that dance contest but that broadcast didn't do Casey justice. Now I have to worry about guys going after her. A big brother's job is never done. Then again, that same broadcast not only showed that Casey can dance, but I think it was obvious that Casey liked dancing with Derek. Alright obvious to me because she can't hide anything from me, I am the one that taught her how to lie efficiently.
Before I could continue my train of thought, Sam nudged me in the side and I winced before giving him a death glare.
"What the hell was that for?"
"Snapping you out of your own thoughts, now pay attention." My little brother retorted back at me and I just rolled my eyes.
"Whatever Sammy. So Aunt Nora, I hope Casey hasn't been giving you any trouble these past few years."
"No, she's been great. Sometimes I forget that she's my niece and I do have to say that she's keeping up with this persona for some time. I'm glad she could be herself again." Aunt Nora stated with what I could tell was some pride for Casey in her voice. I would be proud of Casey too, it's like she's been undercover for so long. I am proud of her.
"No troubles?" I raised an eyebrow because I knew about the fights Casey has had with Derek.
"Besides her fights with Derek, no troubles at all. Surprisingly, the only time she could let her other side loose is whenever she's fighting with Derek. I think if Derek wasn't here, Casey would have gone stir crazy after being only half herself for this long."
"Yeah, Casey told us how intense those fights were and how sometimes they escalated." Sam said as he tried not to laugh.
We both knew about Casey's feelings for Derek, we kind of made her admit them after that dance contest and before we knew it, she was giving us practically a play by play on how her feelings for him had changed. I personally didn't like the fact that we were talking about emotions to begin with but hearing about them with Casey's insight was definitely interesting how she described certain emotions in different ways. It's quite funny how she probably fell in love with her enemy. Usually that would be an 'absolutely no' type of situation but since Derek isn't a supernatural entity, he's safe from my wrath.
"To be honest, I was a little worried when we first moved here that their fights would be too much but they gradually grew on each other and they have this dynamic between them that works."
"How so?" I couldn't help but ask. It's interesting to see what an 'outsider' would perceive Casey and Derek's 'relationship'.
"They may fight a lot but they seem to always be there for each other when they need it the most. Derek would never deliberately hurt Casey and she would always help him if he asks for it."
"Kind of like when it really counts, they can depend on each other?" Sam questioned.
"Yeah, their step-sibling relationship isn't like that of Edwin and Lizzie's but it's not like that of complete enemies either." Aunt Nora gave a small smile at the thought of her family's bonding. I could only smirk at Sam because we knew that there was no way Casey thought of Derek as a step-brother.
Any conversations involving Casey and Derek were put to a halt when we heard Casey coming down the stairs.
It didn't take me long to get my color contacts out but I couldn't help smile when I saw my reflection with hazel green eyes staring back at me. I quickly put everything back before I raced down the stairs. I stopped at the landing and took a seat, so that I could put my black heels on but returning to my spot between Dean and Aunt Nora.
"I'm ready. So how do I look?" I couldn't help but twirl a bit in my spot causing my dress to flow a little at the bottom.
"Like yourself." Aunt Nora complimented and it caused me to smile. I did feel like more of myself now like I did on my 18th birthday when I got the leather jacket from my family. It was like bits and pieces of my Winchester personality were slowly returning to me and I loved it!
"It's good to have you back, Baby Girl." Dean stated before pulling me into his side and placing a kiss to my temple. Dean's never going to let the nickname drop no matter how old I get. I'll always be his 'Baby Girl' because in a way, Dean raised me. Dad was always gone on hunts when we were younger so Dean was left to watch out and take care of me and Sam. So in a way, Dean is like my father, my brother, my protector and my best friend. So was Sam but it was Dean who had to carry that responsibility of protecting us. I'll always be grateful; he truly is the best big brother ever.
"I'm glad to be back." I couldn't help but reply.
"Now gather around, I want to take a picture of the three of you before we head off." Aunt Nora practically demanded and I couldn't help but laugh as I placed myself between Sam and Dean, each of them wrapping an arm around me as mine instinctively went around their waists. Even in my heels, I was still shorter than Dean (there is no way I was even going to get close to Sam's freakishly tall height).
"Just for the record, this is only one of the few moments that I will allow my picture to be taken in this monkey suit." Dean complained as he got settled into his pose. I had to keep my laugh in at the typical Dean response. It looks like things will never change with my big brother.
"Get use to it Dean, today is all about Casey and it will be filled with pictures." Sam reminded Dean as he too was trying to hold back a laugh.
"You better believe it! We are going to a normal graduation for once." I couldn't help but admit that. In the past, we never stayed long enough for the actual graduation ceremony. Dean took the test and immediately got his GED while Sam finished two years earlier and got his diploma before the ceremony as he stated that he was 'going on vacation' at the time. So today was definitely a big day for us Winchesters, I just wished all of us were here to celebrate it. I know my mom is watching over us but I wish my dad was here too instead of on a hunt.
"Alright, now say cheese." The cliché statement is what brought me back to the happy family moment I was currently in. A normal moment I could share with my brothers, something that they themselves couldn't experience. It was at that moment I was glad that I went to stay with Aunt Nora because it gave my brothers this moment to look forward to with me.
"I rather say pie." I had to hold in my laugh once again at Dean's statement and once the flash went off, I couldn't hold my laugh in anymore. Another flash went off to what I assume was Aunt Nora going camera crazy. I could feel Dean's stare on me and I could only assume that Sam himself was chuckling from my actions.
"What?" Dean questioned. It was only a few moments later until I calmed myself down long enough to answer.
"Nothing, I just really missed this." I smiled up at Dean and then to Sam and I could see their smiles before I saw another flash go off. Before I could say anything about the constant pictures, I heard the back door opening.
"Mom, Casey, hurry up! We don't want to be late!" Lizzie shouted before we heard the back door close again.
"I guess that's our cue to leave." Sam suggested and I just nodded.
"Alright so Casey if you want you could ride with your brothers to school and we'll see you after the ceremony." I nodded. "Good luck with your speech." Aunt Nora kissed my cheek before heading out to the back door to join the rest of the family in the garage.
"Okay, lets go." I stated while I grabbed my purse and ushered Sam and Dean outside. I locked up while Dean was already getting into the driver's seat as Sam was waiting for me at the bottom of the porch stairs. He was probably worried that I would be a klutz in heels. Thankfully, with all of my additional training I got rid of as much of my klutz problem as I could. Now I just have those rare occasional klutz moments.
Once I was in the backseat of the Impala and Sam was in shotgun, Dean tore out onto the road before I even saw the Venturis' car leave the garage. I gave Dean my school's address before I relaxed. Being back in the Impala just brought back so many memories that it was kind of overwhelming. Who knew I'd miss a car so much? The Impala wasn't just some car, like the Prince, it's been my home for 15 years and it will continue to be my home. It's been in the family even before my parents got married. It's a car that deserves to be dubbed a part of the Winchester family, it's been through everything with us.
"Case, you okay?" Dean broke through my thoughts on the Impala as he glanced at me from the rear view mirror.
"Yeah, just a little nervous that's all." It never occurred to me that I was until I said it out loud. In just a few moments I'll be giving my speech to the entire graduating class. Of all the times to be nervous it had to be right now…at least it wasn't on a hunt.
"You will do fine and just remember that we're so proud of you. Valedictorian is a great honor." Sam exclaimed as he turned around to face me with a smile on his face. I couldn't help but smile back. My brothers always did know how to cheer me up.
"Thanks guys. I'm really glad you're here."
"So are we, Case. Alright, time to put your game face on, we're here." Dean pointed out and I couldn't help but be surprised that we were already at my school. The car ride seemed so much faster, then again, Dean was driving.
"We'll see you after the ceremony." Sam stated once we all got out of the car simultaneously. I started taking a few steps towards the school, I didn't want to be late but I turned around before I got too far from them.
"Get ready for lots of pictures afterwards." I smirked at Dean, remembering what he said at the house.
"Don't worry Case, this day is about you, so I will take and be in as many pictures as you wish. Now go or you'll be late." Dean told me before shooing me off to the school. I rushed inside but I took a glance behind me to see that my brothers were slowly approaching the school. They probably didn't want to get caught up in the crowd.
I went in to find my gown, Emily and then my spot in the line up while my nerves slowly simmered down.
I left the house before anyone noticed because I needed time to think and get my prank set up as well as approve of Edwin's prank too. It was just all so confusing. The past few months have been kind of weird. Casey and I have actually become somewhat friends to say the least. Either I say it like that or I say that we've somehow 'bonded' over the last few months of high school but I still can't believe both reasons.
I think it started with that whole anniversary thing our parents had before senior year started when Nora made Casey and I retell the story of 'Operation Disengagement'. I personally didn't want to relive that moment because that was a point in time when I actually knew Casey and I wasn't connected to her in any way, a moment before we became the dreaded step-siblings. Then she helped me past my final exams with all the studying sessions and we actually didn't kill each other after all the time we spent studying together. That surprised me to no end because I usually don't study or get along with Casey for a long period of time. Then the whole cheating-Truman thing happened and somewhere along those lines, Casey and I have become friends and not the fighting enemies we were when she moved in. Just when I think I have her figured out, she does something that totally surprises me and I deem out-of-character for her, like take last night for example.
I was listening to some music and looking at my acceptance letter from Queens when Casey barges in and turns my music off while I quickly hide my letter. I wasn't planning on telling anyone about it yet.
"Do you mind? I'm trying to finish my speech." Casey semi-yells at me as she walks closer to the bed. I look up at her all annoyed with her being in my room.
"Do you mind? I'm trying to finish my thought." I retorted, still laying on my bed.
"Oh, planning your pathetic prank."
"For the last time, I'm not pranking. In fact, I've decided not to go to graduation." I admitted.
"Really? That is the best grad present ever!" Casey walks out of my room with excitement as I sigh in relief before looking at my letter again. It wasn't long before Casey entered back into my room with a confused expression but I covered the letter once again.
"How could you not go to your own high school graduation?" She asked in a flustered panic.
"Because I'm done with high school. My future starts now." I simply stated before putting my hands behind my head in a relaxed position.
"Oh, your future goofing off in Europe?" I smirked at that. I wasn't planning on saying anything but if it will throw her off her game then why not?
"Actually, I have options." I glanced a look at her before looking straight ahead.
"Oh, of course you do. Like whether to goof off in Spain or Portugal." I mentally rolled my eyes to the fact that she didn't get it. But I look up at her and smirk before telling her my secret acceptance.
"No, I just found out I got into university." I took my hands down from behind my head before sitting up straighter.
"You're going to university?" Casey said in an unbelievable tone and I was about to say something but she wasn't done. "Wow, congrats Derek." I was shocked by that but I couldn't let her see that.
"Oh…thanks, but I'm deferring because I want to see the world. You on the other hand, don't have the guts to make a decision." I sort of didn't want to get into a fight after she congratulated me on my acceptance but she needed to hear it. She can't put off making decisions forever.
"What makes you think that I haven't made a decision yet?"
"Because if you had made a decision of what school you were going to, you would have told the family and they would be celebrating with you. And if I'm not mistaken, nothing like that has happened yet."
"What if it's a secret?"
"You can't keep a secret. You're a terrible liar."
"Shows what you know and besides you're keeping your acceptance from the family, how is that any different from what I'm doing?"
"Quit changing the subject, I know you're just scared."
"Scared of what?"
"You're scared of the future. You can't handle that not everything is in your control. You have futuritis." I know it's not a real word but it fits.
"I don't have futuritis. And that's not even a word." Casey starts heading back to her room and I should have kept my mouth shut and shut my door but I couldn't help what came out of my mouth next.
"So? It doesn't mean it's not true. Just face it Case, quit running." I raised my voice so that she could hear me and the next thing I know Casey is back once again standing in front of me while pointing a finger at me.
"I'm not running from anything! I am scared but I'm NOT running!" Casey admits which confuses me yet I don't show it.
"Then make a decision." I simply stated.
"I will." Once Casey said that she ripped up the speech in her hands and she threw it down having it land on my floor. My eyes widened at the action.
"Why did you just do that? The ceremony's tomorrow." I couldn't help but state yet preparing myself for a 'Casey Blow Up' but it never came.
"It doesn't feel right to say that speech now." Casey quickly walks away and shuts her bedroom door behind her.
I was expecting Casey to scream in anger for ripping her speech up but it never came. I quickly shut my door and slid down the wall that separates my room from Casey's room before I opened up the air vent. I could hear Casey pacing in her room as well as her pushing buttons. I could only assume the buttons were from her phone, otherwise it would be from her computer but then she wouldn't be pacing now, would she?
"C'mon, c'mon, pick up." Casey kept saying to herself. I couldn't help but wonder who she was calling at this time.
"Hey Sammy, I need some advice." I couldn't believe it, why was she calling my best friend for advice and since when has she started calling him 'Sammy'?
"I kind of just tore up my speech for tomorrow."
"Short version, I had an argument with Derek and it made me realize that what I had in my speech wasn't really what I believed. So I ripped it up." I was a little ticked, why would she now confide in my best friend when she has Emily?
"He said I was scared about the future and that was why I wasn't making a decision about schools." 'You are scared Casey' I couldn't help but think as I heard her stop pacing and land on her bed, indicated by the bed springs' creaking.
"Of course I'm scared, why shouldn't I be? When I'm here, everything is planned out already, smooth sailing. But once I'm back out there, who knows what will happen? My life could change in a split second before I can stop it and that scares me." 'Typical Casey.'
"Please tell me that."
"Hey D and yeah, can you really blame me?" I couldn't help but think who this 'D' character was. Was he the same guy she mentioned awhile back? Where did Sam go? I remained silent as I continued to listen to Casey's side of the conversation.
"I just don't know what to say, I can't really say my fears specifically, you know?" 'Oh…what fears exactly?'
"Live with no regrets, live life to its fullest and don't hold back basically, right?" I couldn't help but nod in approval. It was actually some decent advice from a keener like her.
"Wingin' it does sound like a great option at this point." I silently scoffed at myself. Casey wingin' it? Yeah right.
"Thanks D. Tell Sammy thanks too."
"Night." I heard a click before a thump from the phone. I heard Casey sigh before the bed creaked again. I assumed she was going to write that new speech so I closed the vent and went back to my bed.
I couldn't stop thinking about who she called for that advice. I kept on wondering what Casey was afraid of. Did I really hit a nerve when I said she was afraid of the future? I know everyone is scared of the future at some point in their life but she sounded pretty freaked and I only wished that I could have heard the other side of that conversation. I usually didn't care whether I upset Casey or not but I guess with the whole new-found friendship and the specific topic in question got me wondering.
I had to snap out of my thoughts and focus on my prank. I was behind the stage setting up while avoiding Principal Lassiter. It was only a few minutes later that Edwin found me.
"Hey D, how's it going?" He whispered while looking around as if he were in spy mode.
"I'm fine but what are you doing back here?"
"I came to tell you that people are arriving." He warned and I could only nod.
"Alright, you know what to do?"
"Yeah, pretend you're not here and perform the prank everyone is expecting so that yours is more of a surprise." Edwin reiterated the plan back to me. I couldn't help but smirk. I originally wasn't going to do a prank but I figured why not since it would be my last high school prank, might as well leave with a bang.
"Exactly. Just remember to do it after Casey's speech."
"Why do you care if I do my prank afterwards?"
"Do you really want to listen to Casey complain possibly all summer about how we ruined her Valedictorian speech? I rather not, thank you very much." I explained with a hint of sarcasm. The fact that dad told me to pull the prank after her speech was another thing too but I couldn't have Edwin thinking that I was listening to dad now, could I?
"We?" I scoffed at Edwin's cluelessness that is 'Casey knowledge'. He should know by now that Casey practically blames everything on me, not as much recently, but still.
"You know she's going to pin it on me too." Edwin nodded before he agreed. "Now get started." I shooed Edwin off before I too got into place. My plan was to hide in the back, out of sight since everyone thinks I skipped and then Edwin will pull his prank after Casey's speech and I could pull mine by making my big entrance. I just hope I don't fall asleep during Casey's speech…timing is everything.