Chapter 2: The Ceremony
[Sat. June 26, 2004]
Once Casey got inside the school, the atmosphere just hit her all at once. In just a few moments, she would be a high school graduate. It felt so surreal that she couldn't really believe it now that it was here. Sam and Dean were here to celebrate with her, Aunt Nora, Lizzie, and the Venturis were here to support her (and Derek) and then everything was going to change.
For better or for worse, Casey didn't know at this point, but she couldn't think about it right now. I have to get through graduation and my speech. Now is definitely the time to embrace my Winchester identity.
"Casey!" She turned around at the sound of her name and found Emily rushing over to her while carrying a blue graduation gown in her hands. Emily was already wearing her own gown.
"Emily, hi!" Casey greeted as she embraced her best friend at Thompson High. Emily was her very first friend and Casey will never forget that. Emily has helped Casey go through a lot when she couldn't get a hold of her brothers. I'll definitely miss Emily Davis.
"So, you excited?" Emily asked as she pulled away.
"You could say that." Casey blew out a big breath.
The ceremony would be starting any minute now, and Casey wished that she was sitting with Emily and not on stage due to her title as valedictorian. It wouldn’t have mattered as students were seated alphabetically for efficiently. (A/N: My graduation had us seated this way plus it made more sense for me so just go with it.)
"Might I say, you look amazing Case, it's a shame these gowns cover it up."
"Thanks Em, and I see what you mean. All I see is blue on you." Emily laughed and Casey just smiled. Emily did have a way of distracting her by talking about 'girl stuff.'
"Anyways, I grabbed your gown for you." Emily handed over the extra graduation gown. Casey immediately hugged her as her thanks. "I figured you might be preoccupied with your speech," Emily quickly explained as they pulled apart.
"That's very sweet, Em. Thanks." Casey started putting the gown on as Emily ushered her closer to the auditorium.
"No problem. You ready?"
"I think so." Casey took another deep breath.
"You'll be fine, Casey. Just relax." Emily assured her and Casey could only nod.
Before Casey knew it, one of the teachers was escorting her onto the stage to take her seat as Emily joined the rest of the graduates to take their designated seats.
Meanwhile, at the back of the auditorium, Sam and Dean arrived. They saw Casey being escorted to her seat on stage, while they moved to two empty spaces along the back wall besides two other graduates. Dean noticed that one of the graduates wasn’t wearing any pants. Interesting.
Sam nudged Dean again in the gut.
Dean groaned, "Quit hitting me, once was enough."
"Quit spacing out then."
"You space out more than me," Dean retorted back.
"Yet you're doing it a lot today."
"Can you really blame me? I got a lot to think about and process."
Sam shrugged, "What's there to think about?"
"You serious, Sammy? It's the first time in four years we get to see Casey. My mind is whirling, why isn't yours?"
"Oh, it's whirling, I can just multitask better than you." Dean grumbled to himself as feedback from the sound system intensified.
Everyone was getting seated at this point. The lights were a little blinding for Casey, but she could still see where everyone was. She could see Aunt Nora and the others seated on her right, while Sam and Dean stood in the back as Dean was casually leaning against the wall. Strangely enough, she saw Derek's friends, Ralph and Sam, standing a few feet away from her brothers yet close to the door instead of in their seats. That’s weird.
Casey continued to search the audience as the room got quiet. Emily was in the second row and there was an empty chair near the end of the graduates' row that was meant for Derek. Casey couldn't believe he was actually skipping his own graduation, when Sam and Dean didn't get to go to their own against their wills. Unbelievable that he would skip.
Meanwhile, Derek was hiding backstage as everyone was getting into their positions. No one could see him, and he couldn’t wait to pull his prank, having it all mapped out before everyone arrived.
"And now it gives me great pleasure to introduce Sir John Sparrow Thompson High's class valedictorian, Casey McDonald." Mr. Lassiter's announcement brought Casey out of her thoughts, and she was stunned to a point that she thought she couldn't feel her legs. The clapping got her out of her stupor as she made her way toward the podium as Mr. Lassiter took Casey’s seat.
"Thank you, Mr. Lassiter." He nodded to Casey before she looked back out into the audience.
She took a deep breath as she looked immediately to her brothers. They gave her two thumbs up in encouragement. Casey gave a small smile before she continued.
"Good afternoon parents, teachers and my fellow graduates." Casey gripped the podium tightly, unaware of Derek rolling his eyes at her intro. She slowly exhaled and smiled as her thoughts whirled in her head as she remembered what Dean told her as she generalized her feelings.
"I was supposed to give this inspiring speech about the future, but I don't really know where to start. For one, I am excited for the future, but the truth is I'm also scared." Her grip loosened as she subconsciously twirled the silver ring on her finger.
Casey was scared to dive back into the hunter's life because of all the uncertainty it held. Never knowing whether it's the hunt that makes or breaks you, not knowing what will happen next. She was so used to predictability for the past few years, she’s scared to see that diminish. Don't get her wrong, she’s ecstatic to be reunited with her brothers, but she just wished that they could stay and have a normal life together…Casey knew that won't be a possibility until they kill the thing that killed their mom.
Meanwhile, Derek couldn’t believe that Casey actually admitted to weakness in front of everyone. She rarely did that. His curiosity was peaked as he tried to peek around the curtains for a better look without being seen.
"I'm scared about leaving this part of my life behind, scared to say goodbye, scared for change in general because the future is unpredictable, unexpected, unreliable to a point that everything can change in an instant, whether it's a good change or a bad change, no one knows. The point though is that you choose what to make of it. It's up to us to decide how we want to live our lives." Casey paused to catch her breath, then she let go of the podium all together, not needing the physical support anymore. She tried to minimize the hand gestures, but some couldn't be avoided.
Derek really thought of her words, only willing to admit to himself that she did have a point. He was scared of those same things. He’s always been ‘King of the School’ and that could easily not be the case next year. He’ll be at a bigger school with so many more people who have never heard of him before. Derek exhaled at the thought. Intimidating, right?
"See we make all these plans, and we hope we're doing the right thing, but the truth is, we have no idea. We could be making a huge mistake and for all we know, something could get in the way," Casey paused for a moment, lost in thought, before she continued. "What we choose to do with those obstacles in life is what makes us grow as a person."
The fire was the first thing that came to Casey’s mind, it torn her family apart and it took away her mom, her home, and her ability to live an innocent life because once her family learned what was truly out there, they weren’t really innocent anymore. The next obstacle Casey could think of was moving in with her Aunt Nora. She was dead set against it, but it eventually turned into a positive. Casey learned a lot of things during her stay in Canada.
"There are so many adventures out there just waiting for us to take a chance, to take a risk and to just live life to the fullest as we found ourselves. It's better to do something and be wrong about it than to do nothing and regret it." Casey was optimistic in her advice yet she knew she was being a hypocrite on that last part, yet she couldn't help it. There are certain aspects of life that she’d rather remain in the 'what if' category because she was too afraid of what reality would make of it. Revealing certain emotions to certain people was something she didn't want to deal with right now, not at the chance of risking the already rocky dynamic between them. Casey couldn't afford any awkward moments at her expense.
Behind the curtain, Derek scoffed at Casey’s advice to taking risks and living life to the fullest. He found that odd coming from a keener like Casey, who avoided risks and who thrived on order and preparations. What does she know about taking risks?
Casey paused and looked out to her peers.
"I know my fellow graduates have mixed emotions about the future, but I hope this advice comes in handy for them one day. Whatever you choose to do, from this point forward, just remember, take any opportunity you get, live like there is no tomorrow, live with no regrets and spend all your time enjoying something that you love. Don't forget the loving support you get from your family and friends because what is life if you can't share it with the people you love?" Casey raised an eyebrow to see if anyone would object to the last part, and she saw a couple of nods of agreement. She couldn't help but smirk a little, unaware that Derek was doing the same thing.
Impressive advice, he thought.
"Someone told me that I have 'futuritis' but in a way, I think all graduates have that, even if they acknowledge it or not." Casey chuckled a little for using Derek’s quote from last night. It may not be a word, but what it represented did matter and she was glad that Derek brought it up last night.
Derek smiled at the mention, pleased to know that she was paying attention.
Casey quietly clapped her hands together for the final portion of her speech.
"So, graduates of Thompson High, it's time for us to embrace our fears, to stand up, to do something…even if you risk making a total fool of yourself." Casey waved her hand over the crowd, "I say thanks for everyone to everyone because we didn't get to this point alone. Graduates, it's been a pleasure, and who knows, we may run into each other in the future. Congratulations everyone, and let the adventures begin because I'm not running. Thank you." Casey smirked confidently for her strong ending. It quickly turned into a smile as the applause broke out. She could hear her named being called out by her fellow graduates, and she could have sworn she heard her brothers shout out a “yeah Casey” into the mix. Her smile widened after that.
Meanwhile, Derek had to resist the urge to applaud with the crowd. When he noticed that Casey didn’t grab any cue cards from the podium, he realized that she never looked down during her speech. “Quite impressive, Case.” He whispered to himself.
When Mr. Lassiter approached Casey at the podium, Derek slipped out into the hallway.
Dean was impressed by Casey's speech, not believing that she considered that as wingin' it. If she hadn't called last night about ripping up her original speech, he would have thought that this was the one she spent days writing up.
Sam nudged Dean in the shoulder, "It seems like your talk with her last night made her speech perfect."
"Thank you for noticing my contribution." Dean quipped as the clapping continued.
Sam rolled his eyes, "You're impossible you know that."
Dean smirked, "I figured you'd be used to it by now."
Before Sam could finish his sentence, there was this weird guy in a wrestling costume that burst through the doors close to the Winchesters and he ran to the stage. Dean was highly amused since he practically looked like a homemade superhero only kids dream of becoming. The kid had great timing because if he interrupted Casey’s speech, Dean would’ve had tough words with the kid.
"Who is that masked man?" Mr. Lassiter questioned as it sounded like he was going to lose his temper.
"I…am…Edwin…Venturi." Edwin revealed as he slowly removed his mask. Dean’s eyes widened at the last name…it couldn't be.
"Do you think that's-" Sam whispered but was interrupted once again.
"There's another one?" Mr. Lassiter looked furiously to a guy who just sunk down in his seat just a little. That must be George.
"And I'll see you all in September! Venturi away!" Edwin took a bow before running off the stage with Mr. Lassiter closely behind him as he called out "Come back here!"
The two graduates close by earlier rushed to open the door for the prankster's escape before they made their way to their seats with the other graduates. Guess that's why they were back here, Dean thought with a shrug.
"I'm guessing we just met stepbrother number two," Dean stated as he looked around the distracted crowd.
"I assume no one was expecting that."
"Except for Casey."
"What do you mean?" Sam turned to Dean and all he did was point back to Casey on stage.
Casey waved for the crowd’s attention, "Well, I can't say that I wasn't expecting that, but let's get this show on the road. I have a feeling some graduates just want to get their diploma already, am I right?"
The graduates applauded, all of them wanting to get out of school.
Casey laughed, "Alright then lets…"
Meanwhile, Derek waited in the principal’s chair in his office. He waited until he heard accelerated footsteps in the hallway. Derek smirked at the thought of Mr. Lassiter chasing Edwin down. The footsteps came to a screeching halt outside of the door.
"Principal Lassiter, we haven't been formally introduced." Edwin started from the other side of the door.
"Oh, I think we'll have lots of time to get to know each other…You can take a seat in Derek's chair, Edwin. Or should I call you, Derek Jr.?"
Derek rolled his eyes at Mr. Lassiter's attempt to seem intimidating to Edwin. He twisted the chair away from the door.
"That's the coolest thing anyone has ever called me!" Edwin’s enthusiastic response was shortly followed by the click of the office door.
Derek slowly turned around to see only Edwin standing by the door.
He glanced down at his watch, "Eleven seconds late…not bad for a rookie." Derek smirked at the end, impressed by Edwin's first prank at Thompson High.
Edwin smiled at his big brother, a little winded by the run.
"Thanks Bro, but shouldn't you be getting into position?" Edwin pointed out and Derek glanced at his watch again. Mr. Lassiter would have started the ceremony up again by now.
Derek got out of the principal's chair and headed for the door, "That I should. Come on, Ed."
The back door opened again but with Mr. Lassiter walking back through, all the audience's attention was on the principal.
"Welcome back, Mr. Lassiter. Shall we continue the ceremony?" Casey questioned while he made his way to the podium.
"Yes, lets. I apologize for the interruption and thank you Casey for that wonderful speech."
Casey nodded before she headed to the empty seat reserved for her in the front row. Graduates around her were whispering 'great job' or 'nicely done' and all she could do was say ‘thank you’.
Mr. Lassiter started calling the graduates up alphabetically. Everyone was clapping after each graduate went up to receive their diploma with most parents taking a picture of that moment when their child was handed their high school diploma.
Casey’s smile widened when familiar faces got their diplomas.
"…Noel Covington…" Noel was her co-star in the spring play last year and they kept in touch after that whole miserable blind date thing that she and Derek tried to set up between him and Kendra. Noel has plans to go to Toronto to pursue a career in the performing arts or maybe in literature, he hadn't decided which one since the last time they talked extensively.
"…Emily Davis…" A true friend that Casey is eternally grateful fore. There are a few things Emily doesn't know about the secret hunter but other than that, she's been a great friend. Emily has plans to go to Toronto in the Fall, and Casey hopes to have some time to say goodbye to her this week.
"…Truman French…" Truman was definitely… something, and thankfully, he's heading back to Halifax. The chances of Casey running into him again in the future are slim to none.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean were having their own conversation as they waited for Casey’s turn. They whispered their praise for Casey’s impromptu speech and how she has changed over the last four years. She still had the same insight as the future, with pros and cons for what they do as hunters. They didn’t blame her as Casey always wanted a taste of a normal life.
"…Trevor Jones…" Although the friendship started out because of a bet, Casey was glad to have Trevor as a friend. He's a great guy and an excellent example of the common lesson 'don't judge a book by its cover' because Trevor's a sweet guy with a punk exterior. He's heading for Toronto as he continues his studies in human rights.
As they ignored the other graduates, Sam and Dean argued over whether Casey has changed. Sam claimed that while she’s grown, she is still the same. Dean disagreed, thinking that Casey’s teenage attitude and focus, or lack there of, has now kicked in. He would need to double his protection over her if he wanted to keep a lick of sanity when it comes to her safety. Sam’s already over the conversation, knowing that Casey won’t like the added protection.
"…Kendra Mason…" Even though it started off with her using Casey for a project and then to get to Derek, Kendra wasn't that bad. She did attempt to help Casey on occasion, and it was kind of thanks to her that she met Max when she did. Casey wouldn’t consider Kendra a friend but she's definitely more than an acquaintance like some of her fellow graduates. Kendra had plans to stay in London as she goes after a career in fashion.
Casey made her way to the stage, already seeing Nora take her place for the perfect photo once Mr. Lassiter handed over her diploma. She quietly thanked the principal before she made her way back to her seat as the applause continued. She caught a glimpse of her smiling brothers as they cheered the loudest for her.
"…Max Miller…" Max and Casey haven't spoken that much since their breakup but they don't have hard feelings like she does with Truman at the moment. Max ended up going back to his ex-girlfriend Amy a few weeks after their 'closure' ceremony. Casey’s kind of glad they didn't get back together because she didn't want to become the person she was when she was with him, and because of her other feelings she had for someone else. Max has a football scholarship to Western; if him and Derek went to the same school, their sports rivalry would have still continued.
"…Ralph Papadapolis…" Many were surprised that Ralph graduated (it was also a shock for the teachers) since he isn't the 'sharpest tool in the shed' but he is a great guy. It wasn't too long ago that Casey was told that Ralph was Derek, but in a way, she’s kind of glad he wasn't Derek. After that one weekend with Ralph staying over, Casey got to see Ralph as someone who was great company and how he got along really well with the McDonald-Venturis. Ralph is staying in London with Amanda, possibly going to community college maybe. Who knows, he might perfect his drumming abilities.
"…Sam Richards…" A lot happened between Sam and Casey. And she was glad that they decided to remain friends. He was supportive when she needed it, and he tried getting Derek to back off on his torture on her, so she was thankful for that too. Sam got into Queens on a hockey scholarship…maybe that's a possible school Derek was referring to.
There were a few more students before Mr. Lassiter announced the last student, Derek.
"And, uh, last but certainly not least…"
The auditorium lights go out and its pitch black in the room and stadium music is playing before "Derek Venturi" was announced like it would at an arena.
Suddenly the spotlights turn on and there in the limelight stood Derek Venturi. No one knew what to say, but there were whispers and gasps throughout the crowd. A few moments later, Derek's student photo dropped down in the background like a fast-moving projection screen and he continued to smile like he was king of the world.
Smoke effects and wind effects surrounded Derek as he looked into the crowd of his fellow graduates. He held his smile when he locked eyes with Casey, and he could make out her whispering his name in awe. It was the cherry on top when it came to reactions. For Casey, there clearly was only one Derek Venturi.
With help from Sam and Ralph, the graduates were chanting Derek's name as they raised their diplomas. Casey followed along with the others. Impressed and not surprised that this was how Derek wanted to end their graduation.
Derek raised his hands to lower the chanting of his name before he spoke into his microphone. "My fellow graduates, we did it, so let's make some noise!"
With that said, the graduates got up to head on stage to join Derek, while Mr. Lassiter tried to get everyone under control with no such luck.
Balloons started to fall and some confetti as many of the graduates hugged each other to celebrate. Casey hugged Emily, Sam, and Ralph.
Derek received praises, side-hugs and high fives from his teammates and fellow graduates, before he made his way to Mr. Lassiter for his diploma.
"Derek Venturi, how could you?" Mr. Lassiter grabbed his shoulder as he tried to scold Derek.
"Oh c'mon, loosen up Lassie." Derek quipped back as he knocked a balloon out of the way.
Mr. Lassiter tried pointing a finger at him as he fumbled on his words.
"Why you-oh, what the heck-ski." Mr. Lassiter raised his fist, and Derek reluctantly finished the fist bump before he got his diploma.
Lizzie and Marti ended up joining them on stage. Lizzie went to give Casey a huge hug while Marti tackled Derek into a hug of her own. The rest of the parents remained seated as some of them laughed to the fact that their child just completed a milestone. Casey was overjoyed, while Derek was relieved to be done with it all.
Let the adventures begin.
As everyone was getting up to find their graduate, Sam and Dean found themselves with more space in the back.
"That was some ending." Sam complimented as they watched the scene unfold before them.
Dean nodded, "Yeah, but it looks like Casey will be awhile. Let's head outside. Too many parents for my liking." He headed towards the door as some parents were getting out of their seats to find their respective teenager.
Sam snickered, "No wonder you have that rule."
Dean rolled his eyes as Sam followed behind him.
Once Sam and Dean reached the Impala, Dean took out his cell phone, ready to text Casey that they were waiting outside. To his surprise, she quickly texted back that they would be right out.
Dean pocketed his phone and leaned against his car as Sam paced in front of him.
"You regret it, right? The years we've missed?" Dean asked, causing Sam to stop and stare at him. They never really talked about it before, especially in the early years when they weren’t allowed to call Casey.
"Yeah, maybe if we all fought harder against Dad's order, maybe things would have been different." Sam finally answered.
Dean nodded, "Yeah, maybe but then Casey wouldn't have had this experience and you know it."
"I know,” Sam sighed, "I just can't help but wonder."
There was silence again. Dean was tempted to go into his car and put on some of his classic rock music. But he resisted as more people started to leave the school.
"Do you really think she fell in love with him?" Dean blurted out before realizing what he was saying.
Sam shrugged, "Who knows, she's only nineteen but we could always observe the two of them together. Compare it to couples we know." He suggested.
"Like mom and dad?"
"Well, it would be harder for me to remember, but yeah basically." Sam sighed.
"Alright then, enough of that, I see Casey and Aunt Nora coming this way." Dean pointed out so that there wasn't a chance of Casey overhearing their conversation. Sam nodded in response as Casey got closer and closer.