Life With Derek: What Happened to Happily Ever After?


-Blast to the Past-


June 17, 2008

Casey walked down the empty hallways, tears silently slipping down her cheeks. Her soft navy blue dress swayed against her legs, sending shivers over her body. Her hand reached out and ran over the cold line of lockers, no longer holding the possessions of students. The only sound was the clicking of her heels as she walked down the empty walkway, her eyes still seeing the crowds of kids laughing, talking, and waving as they hurried to various classrooms. The walls were stripped of their posters and the flyers of announcements. There were no weekly cafeteria menus stuck up in crooked angles. There was only lines of permanent frames, graduated students sitting in small squares with large smiles and fancy hair. A few awards for the school were randomly hung up, collecting dust and being ignored.

The floor was freshly swept, mopped, and waxed. It would look good for the returning students next year, who wouldn't notice and simply run a muck of the shiny floor. Since the ceremony was being held outside, in the radiant sun, it seemed unnecessary to clean the floors this early. Graduation robes were being handed out in a classroom she'd already passed, too caught up in the nostalgic goodbye she was sending out. All of her friends were waiting for her, excited to be leaving high school and starting a new life. But she wasn't sure she was ready to let go of this place; where so many wonderful things had happened.

Years were spent here, collecting knowledge and breeding friendships. Memories flooded her senses at every corner. Staring at a locker sitting beside the science door, she smiled. This was where Derek ceremoniously swept her out of class for a kiss, just because he was bored and missed her. Down a short way was where Emily had squealed in excitement over telling Casey that she and Michael were officially together. Turning left on the next corner, she finds herself by the stairs where Sam actually took his toque off for a moment, to be polite and kissed Lindsey on her first day attending the new school. Her eyes lifted to the top of stairs, where she frowned slightly, the place where Derek hung a kid over the side, holding him by his feet, because he whistled at Casey when she walked by. Down another hallway, she passed the office and Derek's usual chair.

Her eyes landed on the counseling office that she hadn't spent time in for quite awhile. After her and Derek got their act together, she found she was more at ease and didn't need the guidance of Paul any longer. He was a great help in those first few months though, putting up with her incessant talk about Derek and how much he drove her nuts. When in reality, she was still madly in love with him but unable to admit it. She was fairly sure Paul knew though, the way he gave her understanding smiles and nodded. Inhaling deeply, she waved slightly at the door and continued on her walk of memories.

Passing near a bench, she stopped for a moment. Every long break, in between classes, here she would sit with Emily and Lindsey. They'd peel their oranges or bananas, something healthy like fruit was always in their hands, and chat about whatever came to mind. The way Mr. Cottin's toupe always sat jaggedly on his head and how when he sneezed it flew three inches forward. Or how Miss. Rickal's make up made her look like an overdone prostitute, crossed over with clown. And then eventually, their chatter would venture over to the three boys' in their lives, ranging from the dumb thing they said that week, to the sweetest thing they did last month. Smiling adoringly at the bench, she turned and began walking again.

Her feet seemed to know exactly where she was going, even if she didn't. They stopped before a large glass covered box that held this year's memorabilia. Pictures and trophies lined the huge case; from Derek's hockey team win to the Prom King and Queen celebration. Her hands reached out, touching the glass cover, as she leaned in and her watery eyes took in each picture. There were hundreds of faces; many she knew, many she didn't. Tons of pictures involving Derek, Sam, and Michael, which was funny because he was away at college until recently finishing his first year in April. There were photos of her, Emily, and Lindsey, sitting on the bench, and working together on decorations for Prom. A few involved all six of them, with a small sign that said "Life-Long Friends," which Casey believed completely. And then there were the couple pictures; right in the center were her and Derek, the title of "Meant To Be," hanging perfectly over their heads.

Grinning, she pulled herself away and turned right to bring herself back to the classroom where her school mates were getting ready for the ceremony. Crossing her arms, she lifted a hand to wipe away the scatter of tears on her cheeks. Before she could walk through the door, she heard the loud thump of footsteps. Looking up, she smiled softly.

"There you are," Derek said, stopping beside her. "I've been looking all over." He blew the tassel of his cap off his face, wrinkling his nose as it tickled it annoyingly. He was fully decked out in his long white robe with a black sash hanging over it.

Thinning her eyes, she grabbed the zipper in the front and pulled it down a little, checking to be sure he was wearing clothes.

Laughing, he shrugged. "Lindsey talked Sam out of going naked underneath, so I figured it was a lame statement if only I did it," he explained. A smirk slowly lifted his mouth. "Unless, you're willing to join me in a naked protest," he asked.

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. "It's not really a protest if no one knows you're naked underneath," she told him, lifting the zipper back up and smoothing out the fabric with the palm of her hands.

"You're right," he said, nodding and tapping his chin in deep thought.

"Don't even think about it," she said, lifting an eyebrow. Sniffling, she turned to walk into the classroom, but a tug on her hand made her turn back to him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, tipping her chin up so she was facing him.

Shaking her head, she looked away. "Nothing, just happy to graduate," she said, shrugging. She didn't think he'd understand; Derek wasn't one for loving school. He was more than happy that it was ending, he was elated. He couldn't look more forward to this day, if they promised him a million dollars.

"No, something's wrong," he said, nodding. Wrapping an arm around her waist, he pressed his lips against her neck. "Don't make me torture you," he warned, chuckling. "I'll draw the problem out somehow."

Laughing, Casey sighed. "I'm just going to miss it here," she admitted, biting her lip. "I mean, look around, there's so many things that I don't want to forget," she told him, becoming emotional.

"You're not going to forget them," he told her, shaking his head. "Just because we're leaving, doesn't mean we're not still going to have all those great times with us. Now we'll have even better times in the future," he said, smiling lightly. "So we won't have a bench, or the stairs, or the lockers, but we're still going to have our friends with us. And even if we're in separate schools, we can visit them there or they can visit us and we'll have new places filled with memories," he assured.

Overwhelmed by his understanding, his knowledge of the exact places she was going to miss, she nodded causing tears to slip down her cheeks. Their future was bright, filled with their best friends and each other. Vacations in Cancun, renting their own apartment, and attending school to become the masters of the universe. Well, in her case, she's be taking journalism courses and working on the college paper. Derek would be taking business courses, to finally put his wish for being a millionaire in motion.

"Hey," he said, wiping her tears and holding her tightly. "Everything's going to be fine," he told her, rubbing her back. "We've got everything we need." Lifting her up, he twirled her around, smiling as she laughed. "And even though your mom is doing her best to keep us here, we're cutting loose and living the high life."

"High life," she reiterated, cocking an eyebrow. "I don't know about that."

"Are you kidding?" he asked, stopped but keeping her up so she was looking down at him. "We've got the best few years ahead of us. Beach vacations, a one bedroom apartment where nobody is going to interrupt us," he reminded, wiggling his eyebrows. "College parties, Spring Break in Hawaii-"

"Since when are we going to Hawaii?" she asked, chuckling.

"Since now," he said, shrugging. "I already lined up a legit job for myself down there," he said, grinning. "And since Mac opened up a chain of Diners, and one is in our area, he told me you could manage it if you were interested."

Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I just did," he said, grinning. "He said you could hire an assistant, so everything isn't solely on you to run everything and you can go to college."

Wrapping her arms around his neck, she hugged him tightly. "This is incredible!" she exclaimed.

"I know and I haven't even gotten to the best part," he said, nodding.

"What's that?" she asked, as she was placed on the floor in front of him.

"I figure," he said, slowly, drawing it out. "This time next year would be a perfect time for a wedding," he said, looking down at her seriously.

Casey's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open.

"But what would a proposal be without a ring, right?" he asked, kneeling down in front of her. Lifting his robe, he dug into his pocket and produced a small black box. Inhaling deeply, he used his thumb to pop the top open, revealing a 14-karat white gold ring, with a single diamond in a prong setting centerpiece. Two smaller diamonds sat on either side, twinkling out at her. Picking the small ring out of the box, he held it between his thumb and index finger.

Casey couldn't breath, she was stunned not only by the beauty of the ring, but by how incredibly happy she was. He looked so handsome, though slightly nervous, kneeling in front of her with such a huge question hanging off his tongue. They had spoken about this many times before, agreeing that it would certainly happen. Derek told her he was going to surprise her one day, completely out of the blue. Proposing when she least expected, but when he truly meant it.

Inhaling deeply, he reached out and took her hand. She could hear the whispering behind the door, her friends must've noticed that she wasn't coming in. She heard a gasp that sounded like Emily and then Lindsey's giggle. An easygoing, "Nice!" came from Sam as the three watched them. Michael was outside in the audience, waiting for the ceremony to start.

"Two years ago," he began, his voice strong. "You agreed to let me love you forever," he said, staring up into her teary eyes. "I'm asking you to make that official." Swallowing, he stood up and cupped her cheek. "I can promise you a lifetime of happiness; a lifetime of love. I will cherish you for the rest of our lives, and never let you doubt for one moment that I care any less than I do now. I'll take care of you and our future children, with every single part of me. And I will love you until the day we die," he said, his eyes taking out a mischievous twinkly. "Old, but still good looking, in our matching wheel chairs, while playing an outdated game of Babe Raider," he said, grinning. "Which I'll finally win at."

Smiling, she nodded happily. Unable to speak, since her tears were cutting her off, Casey wrapped her arms around his neck and captured his lips in an exclamation of 'Yes!' Derek reached up and pulled one hand down to slip her ring on. Grinning against her succulent lips, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her up off the floor, twirling her around. Laughing, Casey continued to kiss him over his face and down his neck, sighing against his shoulder and wiping at her happy tears.

The door burst open, with Sam, Emily, and Lindsey running out to congratulate him. Emily and Lindsey jumped around excitedly until Derek placed her in front of them so they could hug. Turning around, he gave in and hugged Sam in a brotherly manner, slapping his back and grinning madly. Before anybody could mention that lack of Michael, he was walking down the hallway towards them.

"My sister has called me six times asking if the camera is ready. I decided to come and show it to her, so she'd leave me alone," he exclaimed, shaking his head. "What's with all the hugging?" he asked, looking around. "You guys haven't even left the school yet."

Smiling, Casey walked out and showed him the ring on her finger. Michael's eye's widened and he picked her up in a giant hug. Her and Michael were actually incredibly close friends. "Congratulations," he shouted, happily. Putting her down, he walked over and hugged Derek, who was still riding the high of happiness. Afterwards, Michael walked back over to the girls to hear how the proposal went.

"Nora's gonna freeeeak," Derek drew out, only to Sam. "If she was upset over us moving out, can you imagine the tears when she realizes her baby is getting married?"

Laughing, Sam shook his head. "Good luck, man."

Shrugging, Derek watched Casey smile and talk with Emily and Lindsey who kept picking her hand up and staring at the engagement ring. "It was worth it," he said.

"What about her dad?" he wondered. "Is he alright with you guys getting together?"

Derek nodded, crossing his arms. "Last summer we went out to visit him and see what he thought. He's a great guy; a writer for this big newspaper. He's completely happy for Casey and me. I even talked to him last week about proposing and he said since he's the father of the bride, he would start saving up for the wedding."

"Nice," Sam said, nodding. "How's George been taking it?"

"I don't know," Derek replied, shrugging. "Sometimes he's alright with it, other days he looks like he's waiting for one of to say we've broken up."

"That must be annoying," his best friend replied.

"Yeah, but I don't care," he said. "He's got no control over us and as long as he doesn't try and mess anything up, I'm fine."

Nodding, Sam watched as Lindsey tried the ring on, grinning. "How much did that set you back?" Sam asked.

"A good grand and a half," he told him, shrugging. "I took out a loan because I didn't want to disrupt the funds we already have. I'll have it paid off in no time though."

"Lucky," Sam said, slapping his shoulder. "I was looking at rings last week, but they were way out of my price range," he admitted.

Derek turned to him with wide eyes. "You're thinking of asking Linds?"

"Well, not like right now," Sam said, tipping his head. "But I can see it happening some time in the future."

"If you're looking at rings, it's not that far off," Derek told him, nodding.

"When did you start looking at rings?" Sam asked.

"I don't count," he said, shaking his head. "I bought the ring four months ago," he told him. "But I found the ring a year and a half ago."

"See, I still have a year and a half," Sam said.

"Not really," he replied. "Because if I could've bought it then, and we were sure our parents wouldn't murder us, I would've proposed. This is the perfect timing though. We have a year long engagement, giving us time to plan everything out and go to school. We've already got a place lined up, which will be completely set up and perfect for when we're married. We've got money on us for whatever we need, and there are no parents breathing down our necks whatsoever."

"So you're saying I should buy a ring and propose?" Sam asked, cocking his eyebrow.

"What?" Derek asked, shaking his head. "No, I'm saying you have to figure out if it's right with you and Lindsey. Have you talked about getting married? You're not even living together, remember. Just make sure, that everything is perfect for you guys. That there are no worries, no setbacks." Turning, he looked at Casey. "That you're absolutely sure you're completely in love with her and that feeling is never going to change or become less. Make sure you want to spend the rest of your life with her, without any regrets."

"I'm sure about that," Sam said, nodding. "But you're right. I think we still need to spend more time together. Living together and really talking it all out. Thank man," he said, clearing his throat. "So who's going to be your best man? Me, Mike, or Ed?"

Laughing, Derek shook his head. "I was thinking of asking...Carl."

"That kid who's had a crush on Casey for three years?" Sam asked, shaking his head. "The one you held over the side of the stairs for whistling at her?"

"Yeah," Derek said, nodding. "Just to rub it in his face."

Laughing, Sam shook his head. "You're unbelievable."

"I know," he said, grinning. "Who said I only had to have one best man, anyway? I can have as many as I want! It's my wedding," he exclaimed.

"You're what?" came two shrill and loud voices.

Turning his back on the people yelling, Derek stared at Sam. "Please tell me that is not my dad and Nora."

Looking behind him, Sam winced. "Uh, it's not your dad and Nora," he lied.

The six teenagers chuckled nervously, as Derek slowly turned around and faced his dad and step-mother. Clapping his hands, he shrugged his shoulder. "Wow," he said, drawing out the word. "Graduation day, huh? Bet you had your doubts I'd make it here," he kidded, trying to take their attention away.

"I feel faint," Nora said, lifting her hand to her forehead.

"Mom," Casey called out, walking towards. She reached a hand out to steady it, but George's hand darted out and grabbed her wrist.

Holding her hand up to his face, his eyes bulged as he took in the ring, then he passed it in front Nora's eyes, who's eyes widened with her lifting eyebrows. "It's bigger than mine," she blurted, blushing and clearing her throat. "I mean, Casey," she said, loud and sternly. "You're only eighteen."

Scratching the back of his neck, Derek tried to hide his smirk at Nora's initial reaction at seeing the ring. Walking over to them, he wrapped an arm around Casey's waist and pulled her by his side. "What a great day; two big surprises in one."

"Oh my god, you're not pregnant are you?" George asked, paling.

"What? No," Derek said, turning to her for a moment with a questioning look. Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. "No, she's not pregnant. I meant, graduation and our being Valedictorian's," he told them, shrugging. "Plus, our engagement. I guess that's really more of three things, hmm..." Shaking his head, he looked over at the two adults in front of him. "I was really planning to tell you guys after the ceremony, but I guess there's really no way of covering this up." Inhaling deeply, he sighed. "We know you're probably not all that trusting of our decision, but the point is that it is our decision and it's been made. This time next year, Casey's going to by my wife." Turning to her, he smiled adoringly, completely happy with how it sounded. Directing his gaze back to them, he nodded. "We've asked for your support before, and we're asking for it now."

Sputtering for a moment, Nora started laughing hysterically, before bursting into tears. "My baby..." she blubbered.

Derek turned around and glanced at Sam, mouthing, "I told you so!"

Casey moved forward and hugged her mother tightly, as she rocked her and sobbed on her shoulder. Nora muttered incoherent things, and Casey simply smiled and patted her back, waiting for her crying to subside. George stood in shock beside them, staring blankly at his son. Finally, when Nora stopped crying, she launched herself into Derek's surprised arms and hugged him tightly. Completely thrown off, Derek almost fell backwards but managed to catch himself and hugged Nora back uncomfortably.

"Does this mean you approve?" he asked, finding her only answer as a muffled cry. Turning to his dad and Casey, he looked back and forth between them. "Does this mean she approves?" he wondered, confused.

Nodding, Casey eased her mother away from her fiancé. "I think she does," she said, smiling.

George wrapped an arm around Nora's shoulder's and looked over at them. "Well," he said, clearing his throat. "I guess congratulations are in order," he said, holding his hand out for Derek to shake.

Looking down at it, Derek frowned but shook his hand. "Yeah, thanks for that warm sentiment, pops," he said, turning to Nora and smiling. "And I'm glad you're happy, I know it means a lot to Case."

Her tears started again, but she smiled at him happily. Reaching out, she cupped his cheek. "I have complete faith that you'll take care of her," she said, nodding.

"Thank you," he said, sincerely happy that she had said such a meaningful thing.

"All right graduates, line up in alphabetic order," a man called out, stepping into the hall with a clipboard.

Derek looked over at Casey, shaking his head. "You've gotta get changed still," he reminded.

Her eyes widened, as she looked down at her wardrobe. "Oh!" she exclaimed, turning and running into the classroom to put on her robe.

Derek looked back at his dad and step-mother. "I guess we'll see you from the stage," he said, waving as he backed up towards the classroom. Sam put a friendly arm around his shoulder and started telling him how things weren't too bad. George didn't even break a smile as he walked Nora back out towards the ceremony. Derek didn't have a chance to ask them why they stopped by, something to do with pictures he was sure.

The five graduates took their place in the alphabetic line, Casey was still struggling to put her hat on properly when they started filing out of the building. She managed to get it right just before they reached the walkway leading through the center of the crowd of proud parents, friends, family, and teachers. Derek was way at the back, in front of only three other students.

Digging around in his pants, he pulled out a pair of sunglasses to block out the beaming sun. He could even pull off the rather lame graduation outfit, he was that cool. His hair was gelled up in it's messy fashion, for when he threw his cap off of course. Underneath his gown, he was wearing blue jeans and his favorite brown shirt, the collar was popped over the rim of his gown. Grinning wildly at the many people around him, tons of girls both from the school and visiting to see their relatives graduate, tossed him an admiring smile. He could see a few of his hockey buddies, the one's a year or two younger waving at him and nodding their praise.

His eyes scanned the crowd, looking for his little sister and brother. Catching sight of Edwin, standing on his chair, he laughed and waved. Nora's hand reached up and yanked him down quickly; Derek could vaguely hear Marti laughing at him. Smiling at them, he looked forward to see if Casey had noticed them. Lifting her hand, she waved at Lizzie who was smiling excitedly and waving at her happily. The girl behind Casey grabbed her hand and started talking excitedly about the ring. Derek knew before they sat down that it would be widely known he was engaged.

Principal Harris walked to the front of the stage and tapped the microphone sitting on a podium. Smiling out at everyone, she said a brief welcome to everyone who attended. The last few students sat down in their seat, Derek leaned back to get comfortable and spread his arms out over the backs of the chairs beside him. The ceremony wouldn't be too long, but it wouldn't be short either. There were approximately 150 students in his graduating class, ten of them made the honors list which would give them extra sashes. Glancing to his side, Derek saw a man with a camera, likely from the newspaper.

After a boring speech about 'spreading wings' and becoming the great people she knew they would be, Principal Harris started reading off the names of the students. Emily was the first of their group to go up, and Derek made sure he whistled loudly and clapped happily for her. He'd grown close to each and every person in his group, and Emily happened to be a great friend. He nudged the people beside him that were trying to appear cool and clap little, causing them to clap louder for her. Emily blushed at the attention but waved at her friends and blew a kiss out to Michael.

The next of his group came Lindsey, which made Sam jump out of his seat and whistle loudly while he clapped. Derek laughed at his best friend but screamed out a proud, "Show us your beanie, Linds!" Everyone laughed when she pulled her cap off and modeled her colourful beanie before chuckling and putting her cap back on. Derek grinned while she waved at him and descended the stairs, smiling at Sam and taking her seat.

"Samuel James," Miss Harris called out, a little while later. Running down the aisle, he made his way up the stairs and bowed to the cheering crowd. Derek stuck two fingers his mouth and stood up, whistling like a banshee. His teammates in the background stood up too, shouting their team name and yelling, "HOO RAH!" Derek clapped his hands loudly, before taking his seat again. Sam pointed out at Derek, making him point right back, their own shout out to each other. Winking at Lindsey, he pulled his cap off and showed his toque before descending the stairs to large applause and slapping the hands of kids as he passed.

Derek watched with a huge grin as friend after friend passed the stage, followed by people he didn't know, but had seen in the halls. He felt a sort of nostalgia pass him over, filling his chest and warming him. He was finally leaving high school, a place he'd spent some of his best days. And though he hated homework and studying, he was going to miss the place where he was considered King.

Her name was called out, pulling him from his reverie. "Casey MacDonald, our prom Queen, Valedictorian, and top student," Miss Harris called out proudly.

"And soon to be Mrs. Derek Venturi," a girl in the crowd shouted out happily.

A collection of applause ran out for the one announcement, before she'd even reached the stage. Grinning, she stepped to Miss Harris, and accepted her diploma and the extra sash around her neck. She tried to escape one of the principal's hugs, but was unable to. Patting the woman's shoulder awkwardly, she let go and started walking across the stage.

Derek stood up on his chair, making a dramatic kissing motion out to her, which she caught, laughing. Emily, Lindsey, Sam, and Michael leapt out of their chairs and whooped loudly for her. "Go Case!" Emily and Lindsey called out, giggling. "Rock it, Casey," Sam shouted. "Smasey!" Marti cheered. Loud clapping was heard from the many students around her, along with cheering and whistles. Derek cast a glared down at Carl, the boy who'd been crushing on Casey for years. Then he laughed and looked back up at his fiancé, grinning and mouthing, "I love you."

Mouthing it back, she smiled and took her seat.

The rest of the names were read out with the clapping and excitement winding down, until they reached his name. "Derek Venturi, Prom King, and Captain of our five-year-straight winning hockey team," Principal Harris called out.

Pulling his sunglasses off, he stuck them in the collar of his gown and walked up the center, slapping friends hands as he went. Making his way up the stairs, he held his arms out, knowing Principal Harris would want a hug. He figured he might as well look like he didn't mind, rather than struggling. "Save my seat for future use," he called out, in remembrance of all the time he spent sitting in his reserved seat, waiting for her to scold him.

Laughter ensued, from her, his classmates, and even his teachers. Crossing the stage, he stopped in the middle and bowed. To the huge raucous of applause and cheering. Girls could be heard screaming, "I love you." While his hockey buddies yelled, "Go Venturi!" Sam laughed, while shouting, "You rock, D!" Lindsey and Emily clapped high above their heads, chanting, "Go D-Rock! Go!" An old joke they came up with at the Diner. He grinned happily when he heard Marti yell, "SMEREK!"

Looking around, he looked for Casey, but found her nowhere. Then, turning to the side, he was greeted with her smiling face. Reaching out, she wrapped her hand around his neck and pulled him in for a very public, and very deep kiss. Pulling back, to hear even more cheering, she grinned. "Payback for that time on the ice," she told him.

Laughing, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her up, kissing her again. Slipping his arm under her legs, he carried her off the stage and down the aisle. Instead of going back to his seat, he sat down in hers and held her on his lap. None of the teachers made him move, so he figured it was alright. The last few students name's were called out and then Principal Harris motioned for Derek and Casey to take the stage for their Valedictorian speech.

Walking up, hand in hand, they shook hands with Principal Harris once more and stood at the podium. "Sup," Derek said, grinning.

"Sup," the crowd of graduates called back, loudly.

Laughing, Derek put a loose arm around Casey as she readjusted the mic so it was at the right height for both of them.

"I wanted to write an inspiring piece that would help guide you through the rest of your lives," Casey began. "Something that you would be able to look back on and take notice of wise words that would truly hit you at your core."

"And I wanted to tell jokes until Principal H kicked me off the stage," Derek added, smiling. A round of laughter lifted from the crowd of on-lookers. "So we took the best of both of us, and made up this speech, along with some really funny pictures," he said, nodding with a mischievous grin. Pointing down at a guy near the projector, he told him to hit it.

Behind Derek and Casey, a collection of photo's lifted for all to see. Leaning forward, Derek crossed his free arm over the podium. "You may recognize this naked tyke, or you might not. It's Sam, as he chases after the neighbor's cat, Fluffy. Now, obviously Sam has evolved from this magnificent naked cat chaser, he once was," he said, chuckling at the round of laughter filling his ears. A click sent out a different picture. "Because now we see Sam, half naked and chasing the girl next door," he said, gesturing backwards.

Casey with a tinged face from laughing, nudged Derek and shook her head. "Sam, I'm sure, is a lot like the rest of you. Growing from the small child running free in a world of wonder, to the man he is now. As the years progressed, he was set free to chase after the world of girls," she said, smiling. "And as the years pass for you, you'll all get to taste the sweet flavor of-" Lifting her hand and covering Derek's mouth before he could say what he was practically itching to, she smiled briefly before continuing. "-freedom in every context of your life. From college, to your career. From beginning a family, to one day retiring. Life will unfold for each of you in your own special way. Everybody here believes in you, they have full confidence that you will succeed and branch out to become incredible adults and enjoy life for all it's worth."

The projector now went through pictures of every student as a child and then to their graduation pictures. Tears cascaded from proud mother's eyes and clapping came for each student, from their friends and family. A reminder of how much they were believed in and how very proud people were of them. Group pictures of various friends went through, along with the six in his group. Finally, the pictures came to the last few and Derek turned around to them.

"But," Casey said, smiling back at the last picture. "If you're anything like Derek as a child, then you would've most likely chased after the girl next door at an early age," she said, motioning to a picture of Derek kissing a tall girl, with black wavy hair, that must've been about sixteen and completely caught off guard..

Derek glanced back at the picture sitting on the projector and chuckled, before motioning to the guy moving the pictures. "And now you know exactly what you want," Derek said, as the picture changed to one he had added without Casey's knowledge. Sitting there for all to view, was Derek pointing to his and Casey's name carved into the wall of Mac's diner. Standing up straight, he grinned at Casey's soft expression while she watched the picture. "And you'll get married next year, work your ass off in college, play hockey till you drop, have a couple kids, and live off the millions of dollars rolling in from your gigantic business," he said, smirking.

Laughter and applause rang out from the crowd.

Casey turned back to them, tears scattering her eyes. "So congratulations class of 2008, you are the Sam's and Derek's of the future, and we wish you all the best. Because we believe in you and know that whatever comes, this day will last you a lifetime."

"Party at Sam's," Derek shouted, pumping his arm in the air before wrapping it around Casey and leaving the stage.

As they walked back to their seats, Derek put his sunglasses on Casey and waved as the crowd rose to give them a standing ovation. Laughing, he pulled Casey in for a quick kiss before they left to their separate seats.

Principal Harris stepped up to the podium. "Congratulations to all of you, I have never been more proud to tell you all that you have officially graduated. Good luck with your future, as I'm sure you will all reach your dreams." With that, the students stood and tossed their hats into the air ceremoniously.

The students scattered, hugging and cheering everyone around them. Sam and Lindsey were caught up in an excited kiss, while Emily ran down the aisle and jumped into Michael's arms, hugging him tightly. Derek pushed students out of the way, reaching through people and pulling Casey out of the crowd. Walking down the aisle, he walked her over to the place they all agreed to meet their friends at. Not a moment later, the two other couples were standing around them, making a complete circle. Their faces were wide and happy, with large grins and sparkling eyes.

Before anyone could say anything, Nora was squealing and hugging them all. After motioning for them to bunch together so she could get a picture, she pulled out her camera and smiled at them deliriously. "Say cheese," she said, cheerily.

The six teens complied, smiling at her motherly ways. After an entire roll must've been used, Derek warned her he'd take it away and she stopped. Eventually, the group was broken up so everybody could be congratulated by their own families. Derek and Casey met up with her dad shortly after. Hugging him, and getting a congrats on both the graduation and the engagement. Marti, Lizzie, and Edwin were all completely taken by surprise when they saw her ring, but were pretty happy for them. Even if Ed made a comment about "King Dude" never returning and a dead legacy.

Standing in front of the school with the sun slowly setting in the background, no longer dressed as graduates, Derek wrapped his arms around Casey's waist and rested his head on her shoulder. She leaned her head back, placing it against his. They stared out, saying one last goodbye to the place that had given them so many great years. Derek sniffled but tried to cover it up by clearing his throat.

Turning her head to one side, Casey ran her hand down his face. "I'm sure they'll talk about you for years to come," she told him. "And your legacy will go onto amaze people in college too," she assured. "Nobody could ever forget The Derek Venturi!"

Nodding, he turned his head and kissed her cheek. "Come on, I promised Sam I'd pick up refreshments," he told her, taking her hand and walking towards their car.

"Does this mean we're getting Molson? I don't want to drag you home while you get all upset again," she bugged.

"I promise I won't get drunk," he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. "How am I suppose to seduce you while I'm intoxicated?" he asked, smirking.

"You've managed it before," she said, sighing.

Derek shook his head, opening the car door for her. "I can't even remember that time, so it really doesn't count."

Laughing, she shrugged. Walking around the car, he jumped in and revved the engine. "You think Nora and my dad are going to be mad that we didn't come home for awhile?"

"Nope, they know we were going to Sam's," she said, taking his hand.

"How's that?" he asked.

"You announced it to everyone during our speech," she reminded.

Laughing, he nodded. "Oh yeah," he said, shrugging. "Well, it's not like my dad had anything planned anyway."

"He doesn't hate you Derek," she said, turning to him. "He's just been under a lot of stress lately."

"Two years lately," he reminded. "It's okay. I get it. He doesn't like that we're together. Whatever. I can handle it," he said, shrugging.

"Maybe if you sat down and talked to him." she suggested.

"No, Case," he said, shaking his head. Turning to her, he squeezed her hand, before moving his eyes back to the road. "I don't have to explain myself. We love each other, we're together, and he's just going to have to accept that. Especially since we're getting married and moving away together."

"I just want you to be happy," she said, quietly.

Pulling in front of a convenience store, he turned to her. "I am happy. I'm the happiest I could ever be." Lifting her hand, he ran his thumb over her ring. "Because you said yes," he said, grinning.

"About your speech," she said, smiling at him. "Do you really want a couple kids?"

Nodding, he chuckled. "Of course, I need a little Derek Jr. running around. I can teach him all the tricks of the trade," he said, smirking. "He'll be a regular Romeo by 5, promise!"

Lifting and eyebrow, she smiled. "I don't think so," she said, leaning in and pressing her lips against his for a long, drawn out kiss.

Pulling back, he ran his hand through her hair. "Six then," he said, nodding.

Laughing, she shook her head, before capturing his lips again.

Casey was right, this day was going to last him a lifetime. Not only did he have a diploma, but he had a fiancé too. With great expectations for the future and a happy outlook on what was to come, Derek was pretty sure this was one of the days to add to the growing pile of the best days of his life. As long as she was with him, he knew there would be many more to come.


Hey! Thank you all for your reviews! I'm really glad you're enjoying this sequel. I hope you liked this one. The next chapter is titled, "College Life." Please review, it's greatly appreciated!