Hokay, so. Since most people wanted an epilogue, and everyone asked so nicely, here you are. I hope it didn't end up OOC or too mushy/fluffy/gooey/whatever. They would probably be a little different after admitting everything, but not a complete personality change. Now let's tell ourselves I'm not going to ruin the story in the last go. Lol. I'm glad everyone liked the last chapter of the story, and said such nice things about the work overall. And wow, 250 reviews. I'm in awe. Thanks so much for the support. I'm not going to respond like I usually do, because it would take more space than the chapter, but know I love you all. Rock, rock on!

Disclaimer: Don't you think people are smart enough to have this down by now? Then again . . . never mind.

"I don't know why I agreed to this," Casey griped as she finished shuffling through the papers on Derek's desk.

"Because you felt sorry for me," Derek replied with bored smugness from his position splayed across the bed. "And you hate my room," he added after a moment.

"That doesn't mean I want to clean it," she argued, throwing away a loose assortment of half completed homework assignments that were never turned in. She knew better than to ask about them; the faint feeling of jealous irritation proved her knowledge of why he had even started them.

It had been almost a month since the Trial Period had begun, and it slowly gained the feeling of something less temporary; not that anyone but Casey was willing to admit it.
Their parents had been both relieved and distraught to find that morning fights and random arguments were not, in fact, a thing of the past. It definitely added to the normalcy of the house, but peace was the one benefit of the arrangement George and Nora had looked forward to. The only thing that had shifted about the exchanges was a feeling of playful banter during arguments and of intensity during the fights, which everyone made a point to steer clear of.

"You want to clean everything," Derek reminded her. Casey refused to acknowledge the truth of the statement as she finished straightening Derek's desk. He had made several annoyed comments about some messiness being necessary to his personality, but was forced to accept that if Casey was going to clean part of his room, she was going to clean all of his room.

The whole thing had begun two days earlier when Derek lost his semester project for Media—the only class he actually did work for—and Casey extracted a promise that he would clean "the pig sty." With much cajoling, she had him up by ten; but Casey couldn't ignore her own desire to organize, and by ten thirty he was laying on the bed, watching her clean and finding joy in irritating her.

"You guys almost done?" Nora asked from the hall. The teenagers glanced up as she and her husband framed the door. They seemed to have grown comfortable with the idea of Derek and Casey, but often looked in on their kids together, as if they would find something they didn't like. Still, Casey was surprised at how much her mother trusted her over the last few weeks.

"Derek," George began, a highly surprised note in his voice. "Are you . . . cleaning?" Nora rolled her eyes; it was quite obvious Derek was watching her daughter do all the work, but if that's what George wanted to call it . . ..

"Save me, please," Derek begged his father exasperatedly, tone pitiful for Casey's benefit.

"Breakfast is ready," his father announced, and Derek jumped up.

"Thank you," he said, relieved rather than grateful. Casey rolled her eyes. He made it seem like she was torturing him.

"We'll be right down," she told her mother, grabbing Derek by the sleeve and pushing him back to his previous perch.

"Ca-sey," he complained.

"No," she responded firmly. "You haven't done any work. You're at least staying until I finish."

Rolling his eyes, he collapsed backwards onto the bed to stare at the ceiling.

"Done," Casey announced two minutes later, as she straightened the last pencil and set the pencil holder at the corner of the desk.

"What, no flower chains?" Derek asked sarcastically.

Casey glared at him in annoyance. "At least I did something for you."

"Yeah, yeah," he said, shaking his head dismissively and giving her a faint smile.

Grinning affectionately at the acknowledgement, Casey grabbed his arm and pulled him up, leading him toward the kitchen where his hunger could be satisfied.

Casey was not completely surprised when Emily showed up around noon. She had managed to keep the Derek thing from Emily until she was sure it was something worth mentioning, but Casey finally broke down and told her best friend the day before. She hadn't taken the omission well, but after a few hours of arguments and guilt, accepted the fact with some measure of excitement on Casey's behalf.

"I'm out of here," Derek announced as Emily stepped into the room. Girl talk was not something he wanted to be involved in.

"You don't have to leave, Derek," Emily interjected before he could escape. "We can . . . watch a movie or something."

Derek contemplated the offer for a moment before shrugging and sinking back onto his chair. "Whatever."

"Great," Emily enthused, looking pleased. Casey raised an eyebrow, and her friend gave a sheepish smile. She obviously wanted to see the new couple in action. "What movie?" she asked, hoping Derek hadn't noticed her interest; the girls suggested several before Derek finally agreed to one that didn't sound too girly. Casey sat in her normal spot, Emily on the other end of the couch propping her feet up beside her.

Despite her curiosity, Emily was obviously feeling slightly out of place. It was one thing to accept your best friend had a crush on her stepbrother—who you just so happened to have liked—but it was quite another to be a third wheel to said pair. She sat with slight evidence of vague trepidation and focused on adjusting her skirt as the movie began. Despite her efforts, she didn't notice anything abnormal about the pair beside her as the film progressed.

"So, what did you think?" she asked, digging for information, once the movie ended.

"That was so good," Casey cooed, turning to her friend. Emily figured Casey would like it.

"Eh, it was alright," Derek said indifferently. "I've seen better," he added, glancing at Casey so she knew he was defying her.

Emily watched Casey roll her eyes at him with skeptic amusement.

"With what I've heard, you'd think you two would be acting all lovey dovey and stuff," Emily pronounced, hoping for some evidence of a relationship.
Derek quirked an eyebrow, slipping his fingers into Casey's behind the arm of the couch, just out of sight. "Emily," he stated admonishingly. "I don't do lovey." Casey gave a soft smile—which Derek caught from the corner of his vision—before rolling her eyes.

"Alright," Emily agreed reluctantly, but she couldn't help adding, "But Casey does," with a mischievous twinkle. Casey shrugged and her friend dropped the subject. She stayed for a few minutes more, making a point to steer clear of girly conversation in the hopes that Derek would stick around and she could observe the two longer. Casey caught sight of the clock and announced she had plans, tactfully moving Emily out the door. She knew her friend's thirst for gossip had not been satisfied, and Emily would call her later for a detailed discussion. Waving goodbye to her friend, Casey shut the door and moved back into the living room.

"Am I that attractive, that you had to push poor Emily out just so you could be alone with me?" Derek wondered mockingly.

"No," Casey replied, giving him a pointed look for his arrogance, which he promptly ignored. "I'm going shopping with Katy, remember?"

"Ah. Yeah," he responded flatly, before reinstating his previous tone. "But I'm sure you have time before you go."

"To be with you?" Casey pondered sarcastically. "I think I'll just meet Katy early," she decided.

"Fine," he dismissed easily. "But you'll be missing out."

"On what?" Casey asked, raising an eyebrow and giving a very good impression of Derek's smirk. "I can't think of anything interesting around here."

"Really?" he asked, smiling wickedly as he stood and slowly advanced.

She held her ground, staring at him and refusing to respond as he came closer.

Their tension was interrupted as Marti skipped into the room, apparently either not noticing the actions of the teenagers or not understanding them. "Smerek, will you and Casey watch cartoons with me?" she asked, walking up to her brother and tugging on his hand as if his assent was a foregone conclusion.

"Smarti," he greeted, bending down on eye level with her. She watched him, interested, and waited. With a conspiring smile, he leaned over and whispered something in her ear. Then Derek stood and Marti smiled brightly, glancing at Casey and giggling before darting out of the room. Casey watched Derek suspiciously.

"Now, where were we?" he asked, advancing once more.

She gave him a look. "Derek, what did you tell your sister?" she asked pointedly.

"Nothing she'd be scarred to know," he avoided as he reached her. She raised an eyebrow but dropped the topic.

Derek smiled in triumph, gently backing her against the wall, hands settling on her hips and thumbs grazing the sliver of skin above her jeans as he leaned in to kiss her. Casey allowed herself to enjoy it for a moment before grabbing his hands and using their intertwined fingers to push him back.

"Derek," she admonished. "I have to go."

"Come on," he dismissed. "This is so much more entertaining."

"Derek," she said again, this time a warning sneaking into her tone.

"Fine," he said, rolling his eyes and dropping her hands. "Go buy pink things or whatever."

"You can't always get what you want," she said exasperatedly, though an affectionate smile lurked at the corner of her mouth. She had to admit she would like to stay. He shot her a suggestive glance as she shrugged on her coat, grinning in his usual arrogant manner, and she rolled her eyes before heading out the door.

Casey found herself growing nervous as she and Katy sifted through sale racks. At first she thought she could keep the relationship from Katy, but as they became better friends, Casey decided it wasn't fair to lie to her like that. She couldn't handle the guilt that rose whenever she talked to her friend or saw her across the hall. Derek didn't seem to mind if she told Katy, so Casey arranged the shopping trip with the express purpose of coming clean. Unfortunately, she was having a little trouble working up the courage. She really didn't know how the girl would react.

"So, what is it you wanted to tell me?" Katy asked casually, glancing at Casey from the corner of her eye as she fingered a purple silk top.

Casey glanced up, surprised at having her thoughts broken and by the fact that Katy had guessed her intent. "Who said I wanted to tell you something?"

"Nobody," Katy replied. "But you keep looking at me nervously and trying to distract yourself. Not to mention you've been in an insanely good mood for about a month straight, barring the days where something has you extremely pissed off." Despite herself, Casey smiled. Derek did know how to make her angry like no one else. "Do you have a secret boyfriend?" Katy guessed admonishingly, half joking.

"Um," Casey began nervously, shocked that Katy had guessed it. "Yes?" she said after a brief pause. It came out like a question, and her face said she was obviously expecting a negative response. "Sort of," she amended. "It's a secret," she added a moment later, attempting to defend herself from the surprise marring Katy's features.

"For how long?" Katy wondered, still not fully recovered.

"A month?" Casey replied, still talking in questions.

"Wow," Katy said, finally shaking her surprise. "That's some secret." She sounded slightly put out, but nowhere near what Emily had been.

"There's . . . more," Casey said finally.

"You having a baby?" Katy joked, then turned slightly wary when she remembered how her last joke turned out.

"No," Casey replied, vehemently incredulous. "It's just, this guy . . .."

"Is a freak?" Katy asked with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.


"Older than you?"


Katy paused, pondering what else could be wrong with him. "Diseased?" she decided upon, just as Casey announced, "It's Derek."

Katy was quiet for a moment. "You're brother, Derek?" she finally asked, stunned.

"Stepbrother," Casey corrected hastily. After Emily's dismissal of their parents' marriage, she had expected Katy to focus on other things.

"Yeah, but . . ." she sounded as if she wanted to argue, but didn't know what to say.

"We haven't known each other long," Casey explained, hoping Katy would be more receptive to the idea than her parents.

"Yeah, but . . ." Katy repeated. "But don't you guys hate each other or something?" she finally asked.

"Definitely not," Casey said, smiling slightly as she thought of just how incorrect Katy was.

"You're fights are legendary," Katy told her, obviously confused.

"Yes," Casey said simply, smile growing despite her worry over the situation.

Katy studied her for a long moment. "Okay."

"Okay?" Casey asked, surprised. Katy nodded. "So, you're not mad?" she continued somewhat warily.

"Mad?" Katy laughed. "Why would I be mad? I only dated the guy for a week, and you probably liked him before I did."

"Not consciously," Casey argued, wondering briefly why she was explaining to Katy why she should be angry.
"I'm happy for you," Katy assured, quirking a smile. Leaning in conspiratorially, she joked, "And a little jealous. Derek's a great kisser."
Casey felt a small prick of jealously, but quickly squashed it. Katy was just kidding. For the first time in the many instances she had heard someone say that, she smiled. Glancing at Katy mischievously, Casey stage whispered in an obvious channeling of Derek's influence, "I know."


Not quite a typical, happy-go-lucky epilogue, though there was a fair amount of fluff. It was half "a day in the life" and half "confessions." Never done an epilogue before, so why stick to tradition? Hope everyone liked it. If not, you can ignore the Chapter claiming to be 31 and pretend the last one was it. Thanks for reading the story through.