Chapter Five: Unexpected
Disclaimer: See Chapter OneChapter Five: Observations
Derek is not, and has never been, stupid.
He might be lazy.
He might be a smartass.
He might be self involved.
He might be more into hockey and girls than school and planning his future.
But he isn't stupid. He has just made an existence out of living up to people's lowest expectations. It makes things so much easier in the long run. If no one expects things from him, he can't disappoint anyone.
And in his deepest heart of hearts it turns out Derek is deeply afraid of disappointing anyone. It is something he shares with Casey, not that he would ever admit it.
So Derek isn't stupid, and he is self involved, but he does actually notice when things around him have changed. Even if those things don't seem to involve him.
Such as: Casey suddenly not needing rides before or after school. Casey not coming home until almost dinner time and then disappearing into her bedroom immediately after. Casey not spending much time with her friend from next door and instead spending time with people Derek doesn't know. People he only saw her with briefly when he was driving through town and caught a glimpse of her with them outside a karate dojo.
And since when does Casey take karate? Of course that would explain something else Derek has begun to notice: Casey has been coming home with a lot of injuries lately. Nothing huge that would cause a scene with the parents or siblings, of course. But small stuff, like bruises on her arms and neck and scratches on her face.
Though to be honest (which even Derek is sometimes), the injuries don't really look like they would be caused by the kind of karate a teenager learns in a dojo.
And those people Derek saw Casey with didn't really look like students or karate instructors.
In fact, though he only saw him for a few seconds, they looked kind of dangerous to Derek.
Remember he is much sharper than he lets on. And he has played hockey for a long time. He knows from dangerous. And those people - the man with the eye patch and the woman all in leather, looked DANGEROUS.
But no one else seems to be saying anything about the fact that things with Casey have changed. Nora looks at her with sadness in her eyes when she thinks no one will see, and the siblings have made one or two brief comments about how busy Casey seems to be lately. But no one has really brought it up, and Derek will kill himself before he is the one to mention it and reveal that he has been paying attention.
Derek isn't stupid. He knows something is going on. And he knows somehow that even though lying and Casey have never gotten along, if he did ask her what's up she wouldn't tell him. She'd make something up, and it would be obvious to both of them, and she'd get flustered and make the situation worse, but she still wouldn't tell him.
Out of all the changes he's noticed lately, Derek thinks that last one might be the one that actually scares him.
Derek isn't stupid, and so he knows that if whatever Casey is doing is something she'd willingly lie about, the truth could be something he doesn't want to live with.