Sometimes, when she finds her thoughts wandering (and it's pretty often now, she's realized), she thinks about him. It's odd because he's right in front of her most of the time, and they live together, and she'd have thought she wouldn't have anything more to think about, but she does. And it happens at the weirdest times, like when she's with Jake and he's leaning in, whispering things that turn her on a little, and then he's Derek and she's so, so messed up.
They still fight a lot, about everything- his bio-hazardous hockey clothes, her obsessive compulsive need to clean his room along with hers, the girls he brings home, the guys he doesn't allow her to bring home, the way he steals her remote (old), the way she always tries to fix him (older). It's the same, except it really isn't, because she can't remember whether they always ended up this way before, with her staring at his mouth while he clenches his fists and storms out. And then she spends her time thinking about him, till he's back again, and wow, they should really look into naming a pathological condition after her.
And there's that one time something almost happens. When it's dark and she's cold and they don't have any central heating because she's not Casey McDonald- literature Nobel Laureate and he's not Derek Venturi- Hockey Hall of Fame legend, they're just two out-of-college students trying to make it, and statistics will probably tell you they're like ninety five point seven two percent of all out-of-college-students. Anyway, there's no central heating and she's cold and it makes sense in her head, except when she suggests it, he looks at her in this way, and for one completely ridiculous second of her life she thinks he knows. But he still agrees, so that's there and it's not like they're sleeping together; they're just…sleeping together. As in not-having-sex sort of sleeping together and she thinks he might actually be growing up, because he can actually sleep with her without…sleeping with her. But she's her, and she's family so that might be it.
Her legs are tangled in his when she wakes up, and she tries to remember when she last had sex and she doesn't, which is kind of sad, because she's only twenty and all those gossip about people her age passing out at parties, being arrested for drugs, having wild threesomes and god know what else, obviously means she's doing something wrong. Even if she doesn't have a life, she's always been the kind of girl who everyone thinks should have found her One True Love by now. But his hand slips down to her bare leg as he turns, still asleep, and she has this sickening realization, that maybe she'll have to settle for Second Almost-True Kind-Of Love because if this is it, then even if he didn't do it literally, he's still somehow managed to screw her over.
The problem, she figures, with the help of colored pens and pie-charts, is her permanent state of being single and no sex. It's really his fault because he comes home with this Girl (there are a lot of them, but since their only variation seems to be in the name, she figures it's all the same thing), and so no sex and Casey changed to sex and Derek which changed to sexandDerek and then to sexwithDerek because it's the only thing she can see when she looks at him, with his shirt buttons half off and the Girl, who wanders in various states of undress around their house. It's like an advertisement, the sole aim of which is to make you think you want something you probably really don't, and it probably isn't even good for you, and Derek... Derek is a walking advertisement for sex, and it's probably a scientific area of study, the effect of repetition on the human brain, it actually has nothing to do with actual need or want, and so if he just walks past her like that long enough she's going to want him, like she'd wanted that beautiful car hanging thing, even when she didn't have a car.
And so Jake.
This is what actually happens: Jake is smart and he's sweet and he thinks Orwell's writing has all the elements of a fundamentally dystopic vision of a primarily utilitarian society and she breaks up with him within a month, because his hair is this particular shade of red-brown that reminds her of someone she knows. Derek brings her ice-cream, except he eats it himself half-way through the evening and then she's hitting him, because she's wanted to for a long time now. And then she holds him way too tight and doesn't let him rush out when she starts crying because he's going to get married to someone someday maybe, and he really should be getting over his ridiculous fear of tears.
He stands a little stiffly, and it should feel sort of weird because the hard planes of his body poke into her and actually the only weird thing is that it feels way too comfortable for her comfort. She sleeps with him again, he protests and she tells him to give her a reason, and he can't because they're siblings and there is no plausible reason for his refusal. Except she slips her hand under his shirt halfway through the night and- hey wait- there's that really good reason right there.
And as it turns out, it wasn't about the sex at all- maybe a little, but mostly not. Because she still thinks of him way too much and she'd only been following Mark Twain's advice - the only way to resist temptation is to yield to it - and obviously he'd had no idea what he'd been writing about because she's yielded and all it's done is made her realize that she really wants to sleep with him again and that can't possibly be the moral of this story.
It's awkward in the morning after and she feels him burning though her as she looks-but-not-really at him and the day passes and it's never going to happen again. But then it's the morning after the morning after and he's not wearing a shirt and it's really, really not fair. So there's this moment when she hands him chocolate-chip pancakes and he knows as well as she does that it's a bribe, so they have sex on the kitchen table and it's just as good, and it's actually better, and Mark Twain should have been sued by someone for writing such rubbish, but she's literally paying for sex here so obviously the lies that her books have been teaching her aren't her biggest issue.
"We can't keep doing this," he really shouldn't be the one saying this.
"I know", she doesn't, but the thing about words is that you're the only one who controls them, so she can say whatever the hell she wants and nobody can say it wasn't what she'd wanted to say. So there.
Then she figures it's because he's a hockey player and she's...well, Canadian. Even if she doesn't understand a thing about hockey, the patriotic fervor must be generously distributed in her body, so it figures that she gets hot when he comes in looking like he wrestled in mud, with his hair plastered around his face and...god, it's way too much, alright? It's not like she can help her reaction, she's Canadian, it's in her blood.
She comes to the only conclusion possible and hides his hockey gear- or wears his hockey shirt, but whatever, it's all the same difference, and it's not like she knew this would happen or anything and why does he have to be so possessive about it anyway? But when he takes it off roughly, she realizes it looks way better on the ground than on her anyway, because it was too big for her and then- then- she stops thinking because his hands...and his lips and...she's Canadian, okay?
"It's never going to happen again," just like last time.
It lasts two days, and they don't look at each other and he stays out way too late at night, and she lies awake and thinks of the reasons why not- her mother, his father, their siblings- and then she just gives up pretending and forgets her clothes in her room the next day and wanders through their house in her shortest towel and –whoops.
There are always a lot of people willing to tell you that there's more to life than this. That it's the feeling of living dangerously that's seeping through her skin and that it'll go away when she finds that guy whom she's meant to be with because there has to be someone and it can't be him unless somebody upstairs royally screwed up. But sometimes when she's lying next to him and they're sleeping- not sleeping – just…sleeping, she thinks she can wait a little longer for the Other Almost-True Kind-Of Love, because she's young and he's hot and for this moment they own the world. And it's not like she loves him, it's just sex and it's fun and messy and fun… it's not like she's in love with him, that's a hilarious thought...it's just that it makes him not eat the ice-cream on the way home, because when they fight it just leads to…and it's not like she's ever going to fall in love with him or anything.