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19 August 2009 @ 07:26 pm
the places you have come to fear the most 4/?  

for beaked: because I promised to have it up yesterday and as always, I'm a day behind.

He’s irony’s bitch right now and he would laugh outright if Casey wasn’t standing there, staring at him like that.   greek. post end of the world. part four.


“If anybody asks, that’s tea.”

Rusty grins as he accepts the red plastic cup from Cappie, laughing at the five pitchers of beer they only just finished combining. Although they’ve been banned from parties and not alcohol, after the last Panhellenic meeting, Cappie’s been reluctant to let guys drink in the house. So, to compromise, he’s dumped all of their beers into pitchers, storing them in the fridge, and insisted that the guys try to stay under the radar for the next two weeks. His imitation of Janette reminding Cappie about Kappa Tau's sentencing during the last Panhellenic meeting leaves Rusty in stitches. It's so damn funny.

Or, perhaps he’s just drunk. After the Panhellenic meeting, Rusty and Cappie went to Dobler’s for an hour, where Cappie proceeded to “drown his sorrows” while Rusty sipped on a rum and coke and contemplated Max’s words of wisdom. The issue with Jordan wasn’t one he could talk to Cappie about, not this time. The subject was too delicate, and he feared the very mention of Max would send Cappie over the edge. He wasn’t ready to ask what had happened between him and his sister, but he could tell that whatever occurred had left both Cappie and Casey rattled. Both seemed out of sorts.

He left Cappie early, a rarity for him, but Cappie seemed to hardly notice, transfixed by Mia the new bartender, or the bottle of whiskey in her hand, one or the other. That’s when he went to see Jordan, confused and a bit tipsy.

Now he’s replaying the conversation over and over again in his head, every word, every slur, the stunned look on her perfect face once she realized what he was telling her. Now, he’s wondering if maybe, despite all of the awards and prizes, Max may have been wrong about this one. The alcohol’s starting to wear on him and he’s wide-eyed and scared at the prospect of losing Jordan now.

He looks up as the door flies open and Beaver lunges to the floor. Cappie’s still digging in the fridge, but everyone else in the house seems to be momentarily stunned by the force that is Casey Cartwright, his sister. And she’s headed right towards him.

He gulps, stepping backwards, retreating back into the kitchen, red cup dangling protectively in front of his face.

“Are you insane?” she hisses, hair flying as she reaches forward and rips the cup out of his hand. She eyes him incredulously. “You’re celebrating?! You broke up with Jordan and you’re celebrating?”

At this point he hears Cappie, head deep in the bottom shelf of the fridge, try to stand up. He watches anxiously as Cappie hits his head on the upper shelf, the last stray beer can falling out of the fridge and rolling frantically around the floor until it comes to a halt at Casey’s feet.

His sister pauses when she realizes that Cappie’s present, hesitating slightly before taking a big swig out of Rusty’s beer.

Rusty sighs, hanging his head. He’d forgotten that Casey was Jordan’s big sister. Their Greek worlds just keep getting smaller.

“Look, Case, you should probably stay out of this,” Rusty says, mustering up more courage than he feels. There’s beer leaking on his sister’s shoes and she isn’t budging. She obviously means business, a realization that’s terrifying him.

“Well, too late,” Casey remarks, turning her back to Cappie in an obvious effort to stop looking at him. She folds her arms across her chest. “I’m her big sis. I have her back.”

Rusty can’t help himself. “Weird, cause didn’t your big sis Frannie try to sabotage you as well as date your exboyfriend? And Rebecca, your other little sis, well, she managed to get to allof your exboyfriends.”

At this statement, Cappie slips in the puddle of beer he’s been pretending to clean up, falling flat to the floor behind Casey. Rusty winces as Cappie hits the ground, but Casey doesn’t falter.

“So no one’s perfect,” Casey says, already prepared for his defense. “Look, Rusty, if you’re going to end it with Jordan, at least give her a reason. Don’t lie to her and tell her it’s about school or time management or some crap like that. She deserves the truth, at the very least.”

Rusty frowns, looking to the ground. “Look, Case, Max is right. I shouldn’t be spending so much time with Jordan, investing so much of myself. I mean, I have my future to think about...my well being.”

Casey arches an eyebrow, no sympathy apparent on her face. Rusty’s wondering how Rebecca and Frannie achieved reputations for iciness when his sister’s glare could turn the most carefree student’s heart to stone. He shoves his hands in his pockets, unsure of what else to do.

“Look, Max is upset. He’s really, really upset and....”

“Don’t you think he has a right to be?” Rusty snaps. He’s surprised at his tone. He’s mad at his sister, although he can hardly remember why. He just knows that he’s supposed to be angry with her.

His tone softens Casey, if only for a second. “Of course he does,” she says quietly, eyes lining the ground. Her gaze flickers back up to him. “But he’s not thinking straight, Rust,” she adds. “He’s upset and sad and angry and he’s not giving you the advice he normally would. I know you look up to him, but right now, he’s the last person you should be going to about girl problems.”

Rusty shifts his weight, sighing slightly. “Jordan isn’t a problem. It’s school. It’s this class. But I don’t want to fail, Case. So I thought that maybe if I gave up Jordan, everything else would fall into place.”

Casey sighs, looking both concerned and upset at the same time. “Rust, what happened between Max and I had nothing to do with Max and everything to do with me.”

Rusty stares at her, confused.

She rolls her eyes. “Is Jordan over Andy?”

Rusty nods. “Completely. I mean...”

“Then why are you hurting her? For no reason?”

Rusty sighs, his eyes falling upon Cappie who has taken the moment of silence to climb back to his feet. He shuts the fridge quietly.

“I don’t want to lose her,” he admits, a thought he hasn’t even spoken to himself. “But if I’m going to lose her, I’d rather end it now then...”

“Spitter, no,” Cappie interrupts, leaning against the island in the kitchen as he shakes his head. “Look, bad or good, you don’t want to give her up just because you don’t know how it’ll end. You’ll end up regretting not knowing.”

Rusty looks down in frustration. His head’s swimming with advice about regrets and what-ifs. He looks up at his sister, ready to be brutally honest. “Look, I just don’t want to end up like you and...”

“Rusty, what happened with Max and I sucks,” Casey insists, tucking a stray blonde strand behind her ear. “He’s not the only one hurting in this. He’s a great guy, but sometimes you don’t know who’s right for you until you realize who’s wrong for you.”

Rusty pauses, avoiding eye contact with Cappie who apparently found something interesting on the floor to gawk at. “I wasn’t talking about you and Max.”

“What?” Casey asks, nose scrunched in confusion. Her eyes narrow slightly in an attempt to understand his statement better.

He exhales loudly. “If I end up like Max, then fine. At least I’ll know I gave it my best shot.” He hesitates, lowering his eyes. “I don’t want Jordan and I to end up like the two of you.”

He knows the implications he’s released into the air. He’s created an even bigger tension, stirred a pot he had no right meddling with in the first place. But he’s exhausted, fed up with Casey and Cappie dancing around each other, and he can only hope that he won’t follow in their footsteps. That’s what he’s been trying to avoid all along.

Casey glances back at Cappie nervously before turning back to Rusty.

Cappie shakes his head. “Rust, you won’t...”

“Look, Jordan won’t turn into me,” Casey insists jokingly, though her tough facade isn’t fooling anyone. “I mean, Jordan is too smart to fall for an Evan.”

Rusty smiles sheepishly.

“She’s right, Spitter,” Cappie begins, smiling as well, although he’s keeping his distance from Casey, refusing to look in her direction. “And so what if it doesn’t work out? At least you’ll know for sure.”

Rusty nods, the weight of what he’s done finally sinking in. He looks up at his sister. “I’m an idiot,” he remarks loudly.

Casey nods, smiling fondly. “Yeah,” she agrees. “But don’t worry, Jordan hasn’t realized that yet.”

“How long...” Rusty starts.

“I’d give her another hour before her Sylvia Plath phase ends and she barrels full force into anger.”

“So I should...”

Go,” Casey urges. “And hurry.”

“And be nice!” Cappie yells after him.

He’s a rhythm of feet and breath once he’s out the door.

“I could kill him,” Casey mutters.

Cappie turns, not fully willing to speak to her again, but not ready to shut her out either. “Who? Rusty? Give the kid a break, I mean...”

“No, not Rusty. Max.” She shakes her head, anger apparent.

Cappie shrugs, keeping his distance from her. “Cut Max some slack. He just...”

Casey laughs, her fury flaring. “Jesus, Cap. Cut Max some slack. You don’t even likethe guy. You had no problem hating him before, but now you’re all sympathetic and Ghandi-like. It’s annoying.”

“Well, maybe nowI have a reason to sympathize with the guy,” Cappie begins, caught off guard by her forwardness.

“Yeah, sure,” Casey replies, rolling her eyes. “You’re only defending him, because you would rather feel sorry for him and look like the bigger person in all of this, than admit how you really feel about any of this.”

That’s not true,” he protests, although he’s not sure if he’s telling the truth or not. All he knows is that she’s too damn close and he needs her to leave.

“Right,” she snaps, obviously not buying a word of his story. “You spent half of the semester so far trying to win me back, Cap. I’m not crazy. You told me...”

“I know what I told you!” he yells, his volume surprising even himself.

Casey stumbles backwards, her eyes wide. “So what? It meant nothing? You just...you what? Wanted to kiss me? Sleep with me? Do whatever you want, so long as nothing serious happens? I don’t get it Cap!”

“Just stop trying to....”

“No! I want to understand! One minute you want to be with me and the next, you’d rather I never stepped foot in the same building as you! What did I do wrong?! I can’t keep wondering...I can’t keep playing this game, year after year after year.”

“I had to watch you with Evan for three years!” he protests.

“I had to watch you with Rebecca!” she defends.

“Well, I had to watch you with Max!” He’s sounding childish now, but he can’t help it. She’s overwhelming him.

“Well, I have to watch you with girl after girl after girl...”

“Look, I didn’t tell you to break up with Max,” he snaps, trying to maintain some semblance of dignity. “In fact, if you remember correctly, I told you not to. But you went ahead and messed everything up and now you’re looking for someone to blame....”

“I didn’t break up with Max for you,” Casey hisses. “I broke up with Max, because it wouldn’t have been fair to stay with him when I really wanted to be with you. It wouldn’t have been fair to anyone. And you don’t want to be with me. Fine. I get it. And I could actually accept it if you could just tell me what’s changed in the past month? You wanted to be with me and now you can. I don’t understand.”

His breathing’s irregular, sweat forming behind his neck, creeping under the edges of his hair. She wants to know what’s changed. What changed? He can’t answer her, because he can’t even begin to devour her question. He’s afraid that maybe too much has changed. Maybe he’s changed. Maybe he was wrong about her all along. Maybe he just likes being miserable.

“I don’t know,” he mutters.

Casey looks stunned. “That’s all I get? An I don’t know?”

He sighs. She steps closer to him and he retreats, holding his hands up. “Don’t,” he warns her.

She looks baffled. “Don’t what?” She takes another step towards him.

“Don’t walk towards me!” he remarks, sounding like a five year old. “Don’t come looking for me...don’t go to Panhellenic meetings...I mean, god, you’re not even President anymore....”

“Neither is Rusty and he was there!” she insists. “And, I was there on Frannie’s behalf. What? You honestly think I was there to see you?”

He shrugs when he really means to say no.

She stiffens. “Right, and I broke Jordan and Rusty up just so I could come here and see you again, Cap.”

He wants to roll his eyes. “Maybe,” he says, hating himself more than he already does. He doesn’t know why he’s being so course, so vicious. She certainly doesn’t deserve his cruelty. But he can’tbe nice to her. He can’t cave.

“Are you serious?” she asks, looking wounded.

He wants to shake his head. He wants to collapse and tell her that he doesn’t know what’s wrong with him...that he’s all fucked up and the only thing that seems to make sense is the liquid swirling in his red plastic cup. He wants to apologize and tell her to come back later, to keep trying, to check back when his emotions are under control. He wants to tell her he misses her.

But he doesn’t. He stands straight and firm and quiet, challenging her with his eyes to leave.

She sighs, looking away from him. “You know that me running into you is purely coincidental,” she states.

He shrugs. “Perhaps.” He could slap himself. Perhaps? Is he Evan fucking Chambers?

She ignores him. “And you know that at one point, you would have considered our frequent run-ins karmic synergy.”

He looks away. “Well, maybe I don’t believe in that anymore.”

She reaches for the back door, looking downward. “Well, then I guess you have changed,” she snaps.

He slams the full cup of beer at the wall in frustration, causing her to jump back, door swinging closed as she spins around to face him. She stares at him unabashedly, eyes bearing into his, a mixture of terror and uncertainty staining her irises.

He exhales slowly, unsure of what to do next. Beer drips from the cabinets, streaming from the counter top onto the floor. He waits for her to leave, but she’s frozen in place, body still as a statue, eyes not even daring to blink.

His every breath, every movement seems amplified. Casey’s face, strong and confidant only mere moments before, is rearranged, eyes falling downward nervously, every sign of strength sucked dry.

They’re both just standing there, dumbly, because this, this place of shame and nervous trepidation, is a place they’ve never been before, at least, not like this.

And she’s just lingering, waiting, her newly reserved and unusually anxious demeanor surprisingly attractive in this weird, out-of-body type moment, and he’s struggling against the better half of himself that’s urging him to step closer to her. But that would be dangerous and they’re already treading through unchartered waters as it is. It’s a risky game they’re playing and it’s no longer about winning or losing. It’s gone so much further beyond black and white. It’s about him and her, and Evan, and Rebecca, and Max, and god, even Frannie to some extent. It has everything and nothing to do with Rusty and even Ashleigh, and all the other casualties they’ve strewn into their mess of a relationship along the way. Gone are the days when they used to toss someone else on their arm, flaunting the word closure for all to see, insisting that they were happy with other people, pretending that they could get by on lies and childish hopes. This facade of false security faded a long time ago, and they both know it. Now it’s just him and her, painfully exposed, with no armor in sight to hide behind.

What’s worse is that she’s right, this is his definition of karmic synergy, to a fucking tee; the inability to shake her, even when he’s certain he can’t handle being around her...he can’t escape her. Of course she would know that this unexpected surge of irony isn’t lost on him, that it’s taunting him, mocking him, laughing its ass off at him, pointing and flashing neon signs directed towards him with the bright word hypocrite hovering above him. He’s irony’s bitch right now and he would laugh outright if Casey wasn’t standing there, staring at him like that.

No, he won’t laugh now. He wouldn’t dare.

He sighs without meaning to, hand sweeping through the back of his hair in a futile effort to quench any amount of frustration.

Casey turns sharply, looking back at him, as if to remind him that she won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. As if he could forget this fact. So many things unsaid and so many things worded wrongly fill the gap of space between them, causing the air to feel heavier, making each movement more difficult.

She looks back once more before leaving, light flashing in her baby blues, lips moving tentatively as she says, “Bye Cap,” like they just had a casual lunch or cup of coffee or something platonic like that. Like she’ll see him in a few hours. Like everything’s fine.

He drags his hand over his face in exasperation as she finally leaves, her words echoing through his head. He can’t get the sight of her slightly turned head out of his mind, the curve of her jaw, the sharp lines of her neck. The weight of her stare still leaves him glued to his spot in the kitchen.

The simplicity of her words sums everything up, the simple, “Bye Cap”, along with the way she whispered his name, so comfortably and earnestly, as if she’d been born just to enunciate those three letters. The curve of the c, the draw of the a, the barely audible pop of the p—he’s breaking down each moment, each detail, each syllable, until he’s dizzy and perplexed.

When Beaver and Wade scurry in to check on him, he pushes past them, ignoring their concerned and confused looks, barreling upstairs, and locking himself in his room for yet another sleepless night.

It’s nightfall when she saunters into Dobler’s, grin wide, hair loose and wild, cupping around her shoulders. She spots Calvin almost immediately and waves to him, signaling that she’ll buy drinks before joining him.

She scurries over to the bar, ready to order her and Casey’s favorite drink, lemon drops, but her head is still buzzing quietly with the leftover side effects of the prior night’s hangover. She opts for a pitcher of beer instead, bringing the pitcher to the rescue of her very underage friend waiting for her.

“So where’s the boy who’s been stealing you away from me?” he teases, grinning as he pours two glasses of beer. He hands one to her and lifts the other to his lips.

Ashleigh rolls her eyes. “He’s working...at the house,” she explains quickly. “I told him that I had to go meet my good friend Calvin, otherwise you might start to wonder if I’d been kidnapped or not,” she jokes.

Calvin smirks. “Uh huh,” he remarks, not buying her story fully.

She sighs dramatically, beaming. “Plus, Rebecca and some of the other girls have been complaining about the uh, lack of attention to detail Fisher seems to develop when I’m around.” She grins blatantly.

“Now that sounds more like the truth,” Calvin grins.

Ashleigh purses her lips, smiling tauntingly. “So, while most of my friends had emotional breakdowns last night, it seems like someone managed to have fun at the End of the World party.”

Calvin blushes slightly, looking down. “Yeah, uh...well...”

“What happened to staying away from Grant and keeping your relationship uh, professional...for the sake of the house?”

Calvin grins. “I got a little drunk and....”

“Thought, to hell with it?” she smirks.

Calvin shrugs, still unable to stop smiling. “I just finally realized that the reason I’d been trying so hard not to like Grant was because I really liked Grant.”

“Aw,” Ashleigh coos. “Yay, now we can double-date.”

Calvin shakes his head sheepishly. “Yeah, like I’m going to subject Grant to that sort of torture. Double-date with Casey and Max, not us.”

Ashleigh makes a pained sound, face tensing.

“Unless there’s something I’m unaware of...” Calvin trails off, leaning forward.

Ashleigh pauses. “Well, Casey broke up with Max for Cappie, after Cappie tried to make Casey break up with Max for him. So, she realized she wanted to be with Cappie, went ahead and told Cappie that she wanted to be with him. He rejected her and she broke up with Max anyway.”

“Ouch,” Calvin remarks, tensing sympathetically. “So I bet you had a fun day.”

“And night,” she adds dramatically. “Don’t get me wrong. I loveher to death. But, it’s like enough already with all of this Cappie drama. I want her to be happy and it seems like ever since she started following my advice about going after Cappie...everything’s just gotten worse.”

Calvin shakes his head. “I doubt any of this has to do with your advice,” he insists. “I mean, you told her to do what she thought was right. And she did. Life just doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.”

Ashleigh nods restlessly. “Yeah,” she agrees slowly. She takes another sip of her beer before perking up and snapping out of her daze. “But tonight is about you and me...and you telling me the entire story about your hot little romance with Grant. Now start from the beginning and don’t leave anything out...well, except for the uh, icky details.”

Casey’s eyes snap open as daylight bursts into her room, blinding her momentarily and paining her once she stops blinking. She squints through the brightness and is both stunned and a little confused to see a very determined looking Rebecca hovering over her bed.

Up,” she says simply.

Casey blinks back in response, still too tired for words. She’s convinced that there’s an anvil pressing on her chest, weighing her down and making breathing a tiresome function.

“Up,” Rebecca repeats firmly.

Casey turns onto her side, wrapping herself into a cocoon of blankets and sheets. She hears a sharp tut from above her, but continues to burrow in the comfort of her bed.

“Rebecca, what the hell!” she shrieks as her blankets are ripped off of her and strewn into a large clump on the floor. She sits up slowly, room spinning as she tries to shake off the drowsiness that’s consuming her body. She stares through matted hair at Rebecca, cranky and annoyed.

Get up,” she orders, mouth tight and unflinching.

Casey groans. “No.”

“It’s one in the afternoon,” she remarks, crossing her arms deftly.

Casey struggles to remember why this time is so important. “The picnic,” she manages, pushing her tangle of hair out of her face. “Shit. Why didn’t anyone wake me up?”

“Because we’re not your mother,” Rebecca replies crisply.

Casey stares at her harshly, frowning.

Rebecca rolls her eyes. “Okay, I told them not to. Ashleigh wanted to wait, but I told them to go without you.”

“But it’s a tradition. Every Monday before Thanksgiving break we go to the quad...”

“And eat crappy food and gossip about how fucking great it is to be a ZBZ,” Rebecca says mockingly in a valley girl imitation voice.

Casey looks up, agitated. “I thought you liked our picnics.”

Rebecca sighs, looking away from her quickly. “They’re all right.”

Casey smiles slightly. An all right from Rebecca Logan is as big of a compliment as she’ll ever get. It’s practically a rave review.

“So why didn’t you go?”

Rebecca shrugs. “I had some homework to catch up on.”

“Right,” Casey mutters.

“I figured you wouldn’t want to go so I convinced Ashleigh to go without you.”

Casey looks up, inexplicably grateful. “Thanks,” she says softly.

Rebecca barely nods. “You’re welcome,” she says nonchalantly, as if she could care less what Casey thinks. With that said, she disappears out into the hallway, leaving Casey alone in her bed.

Casey struggles to her feet, throwing her bed linens back onto her mattress. She stumbles towards the bathroom, forcing herself to shower even though she’d much rather fall back onto her warm bed. She keeps the water cool, hoping it’ll help her wake up, but much to her dismay, she barely even notices the chilly temperature of the water.

Minutes later she appears downstairs, still clad in her pajama, wet hair dangling down her back. She heads for the kitchen, the overwhelming need to wallow taking control. Wallowing means eating junk and spending hours watching bad lifetime movies.

She freezes in the dining room, a table full of at least twenty different cereal boxes capturing her attention. A bowl, spoon, and jug of milk are positioned pointedly at her usual spot at the table.

She looks up at Rebecca in awe, at a loss for words.

Rebecca shrugs. “Don’t look at me like that,” she remarks, stepping back. “I made Fisher buy everything, so it’s not like it was my money.”

“Rebecca...” Casey begins, almost smiling at her. She stares back to the spread of cereal, recalling the time Rebecca spent an entire day downing bowls of cereal.

“Look, you once told me that you knew how hard it was to get over Cappie,” she begins tentatively. “But you had never been rejected by him. And I know how difficult that is to deal with. It’s this weird, depressing feeling at first, but eventually you find yourself getting upset and angry and just wanting to...”

“Bite things?” Casey suggests, laughing now at the hilarity of the situation.

Rebecca smiles. “Exactly,” she agrees.

“Rebecca, I don’t know what to say...I mean...you didn’t have to go through all of this trouble...I...”

“Don’t get toohappy,” Rebecca begins curtly. “You get one day. That’s it. One day before everyone’s going to stop feeling sorry for you. So enjoy it while you can, because come tomorrow, it’s back to being Casey Cartwright, social chair. And social chair’s are supposed to be...well, social.”

Casey nods, rolling her eyes. “Yeah, I do know that,” she replies.

Rebecca shoots her a half-smile. “The girls won’t be back until six. And I think I’m going to spend the day updating my wardrobe. Everything I own is so last week,” she teases, heading for the door.

“Rebecca,” Casey begins, smiling sheepishly. “Thank you.”

Rebecca shrugs. “I’m your little sis,” she says blatantly before disappearing out the door.

It’s surreal almost, the array of food across the table, the place setting already laid out for her, and most significantly, the recognition of her pain that could only come from someone else burned by the sting of rejection. And not just any rejection, rejection by Cappie.

She sits down to her first bowl of frosted flakes, finding it interesting that the person who knew what she needed most turned out to be Rebecca Logan. And yet, she’s also the only person in the world who has any notion of the unexpected emotions she’s grappling with.

The fact is, it’s always been Rebecca who’s understood her better than she’s liked at times, and now that she’s on the receiving end of Rebecca’s rare but inherent kindness, she’s finding that she’s grateful for the experiences they’ve shared, if only because they’ve created a bond that can’t ever be shaken. A bond that, right now, she’s more than happy to be a part of.

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