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sometimes I wonder what we could have been

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They take Simon out once, to buy cold medicine for their sick family, in the drug store near their house.

They are visiting for the first time after they graduated college, and it feels strange that London isn’t their home anymore. (They lived in Toronto now, would start their careers there, big city dreams and all).

The kid is about four years old and an absolute little devil (or so Derek calls him. Casey admonishes him sometimes, but not too much). 

They are looking at shelves, at the thousands of things one suddenly remembers they need when they enter a drug store, Casey holding Simon’s little hand so he doesn’t run away, and Derek grabbing tampons for her (it was a silly move that still managed to embarrass her that he would proffer out loud that he had gotten her tampons, more to annoy her than to actually be considerate of her feminine needs). 

She covers her face with the hand that’s free, Simon asking what are tampons, Derek snickering in the background, and Casey notices an older couple staring at them from the end of that hall. 

And maybe it’ because Simon looks like the perfect mixture of her and Derek, with the big blue eyes and red brown locks, or maybe because she can’t help but seriously blush at his childish antics and squeak that she’s mad at him when he tries to put an arm around her shoulders, but it makes her self conscious.

She has always known that they look like a family of their own, not like siblings, but like a mother, a father and their kid. 

It's moments like these that strike her harder with how true that is. 

Derek tries to downplay her embarrassment, and whispers silly things in her ear that make her want to both scream at him for being so irritating and laugh of what he’s saying for being so much like him it aches. 

Simon throws a tantrum when they are in the line, because apparently he wasn’t receiving enough attention ("seriously, Case, your drama queen genes are showing." "That’s clearly your need to be the center of attention manifesting itself, Derek").

At any rate, the kid is already four, and Casey may be a dancer, but she is not nearly strong enough to lift that devil spawn, so Derek puts him over his head, small legs dangling from his neck. That seems to make the child happy for the moment. 

Casey holds their things in her hands, watching Simon perched over Derek’s shoulders, and her lips want to curve upwards at how alike they are. 

Derek lifts an eyebrow at her (stop being crazy) and she just shakes her head, because he wouldn’t understand. He lightly steps on her foot for effect, brow still up (just tell me, you dork).

Casey mutters “It’s nothing", under her breath.

Derek just huffs impatiently at her, half throws his head back, as much as the child on his shoulders allow, until he decides attack is always the best course of action. 

He steps closer to her, his toe to her toe, and tells Simon to mess up her hair, while he holds his small legs. 

Casey laughs and shrieks, breaks his name in two syllables (and whenever she utters his name like that, he can hear the echoes of another word, one she never voiced out loud, hiding behind it). 

“Now kiss me to apologize for what you’ve done, Simon.”

Derek inclines his head towards Casey, who stands in her tip toes to receive their brother’s wet kiss on her cheek. 

Then she giggles, and stretches to reach Derek’s cheek, places her lips there softly, gently, like a whisper (like a secret).

The cashier calls, looks at them like they are a dirty dog trying to get into the store. 

But the older couple still stares, half smiling, which should have given Casey the creeps, though it ultimately just makes her terrified.

When they are leaving, Derek puts one hand on the small of her back, to guide her. She didn’t need his help to know where she was going, but she left them there and didn’t say anything (she liked to feel his touch on her skin, the protection they provided, though she didn’t need any of it).

Sometimes that made her feel scared, but she squelched the feeling thirty feet under, left to be forgotten.

The weight of his hand lingers on her skin for a long while after he stops touching her.