Chapter 20: A Final Thank You

Grabbing the two cups of coffee and balancing the plate of raspberry cookies on his arm, Derek made his way from the kitchen to the dining room table. Slight disappointment came over him as he thought that the cookies would have tasted much better if Casey made them and they weren't store bought, but he quickly dismissed the thought, knowing that she hadn't had the time to bake recently.

Coming up behind Casey, Derek placed the cookies next to her, along with the two cups. Wrapping an arm around Casey from behind the chair, he softly kissed the small area behind her right ear. Despite the chair in the way, he still thought it was a perfect fit.

"I still can't believe you managed to get a tan." Derek whispered against Casey's skin as he began to plant small kisses down her neck.

Laughing slightly, she responded "In case you forgot, our suite was the only one with roof access. And neither of us has a tan line."

Turning around, Casey noticed the dreamy look in Derek's eyes, as if he was reliving the past week over again. Smiling at the grin that began to form on his face, she gave him a quick kiss on the lips before turning back what she was doing. Feeling Derek's arm grip her a little tighter and his chin resting on her shoulder, Casey leaned her head over a little so that their cheeks were touching.

"Need help?" he asked, although he already knew what the answer would be.

"With the writing? Not until the last one." Gesturing towards the pile she already completed and the envelopes next to them, she continued. "Do you mind filling those out?"

Kissing her cheek before letting her go he said "Not at all."

Sitting next to Casey, he handed her a cookie and placed a cup in front of her. Grabbing a cookie for himself, he looked at the first card on the pile that Casey had already filled out. He didn't bother to read what she wrote, thinking that whatever was written would have been perfect anyway, he just looked at who it was addressed to. Thumbing though their address book, he found the appropriate name and began to fill out the envelope. Placing the card inside and sealing it, he looked for the stamps. Seeing they were in front of Casey, he reached out with his left hand to grab them, but stopped when he saw what he was wearing.

As Casey completed yet another thank you note, she went to get a sip from her coffee when she noticed Derek's stilled hand in mid-reach for the stamps. Looking up at his face, she noticed the happy smile on his lips. Knowing he was thinking of the inscription on the inside of both of their wedding bands, she leaned over and kissed his cheek while handing him the stamps.

Before continuing, Casey looked down to her own wedding band. Thinking back to when they decided on an inscription, she inwardly laughed at the confused reaction her family and friends had. It wasn't the standard inscription people usually got. It wasn't 'I love you' or 'Always and Forever' or something along those lines. It wasn't typical, but then again the love between Derek and Casey wasn't found everyday. So they chose an inscription that would mean something to them, even if it left people bewildered.

The two words engraved on the inside of both of their rings was 'Cannon Ball'.

Glancing out of the corner of his eye, Derek noticed Casey's gaze was on her left hand. Nudging her with his elbow, she glanced up at him.

"We're different, aren't we Mrs. Venturi?"

Casey's smile broadened at her new name. "Yeah, I guess we are. But I wouldn't have it any other way."

And it was true. They were different, and everyone noticed it. No one seemed to understand them, even though they tried to countless times. People always tried to understand their bond, what it was that made them so close, how with one look an entire conversation passed between them. But as hard as any one who knew them tried, no one could ever understand them. And this became even more evident a few months ago.

When Derek proposed to Casey, everyone expected a long engagement. After it was announced that the wedding would be early that August, a little more than 4 months from the proposal, everyone was shocked. They couldn't understand why they would want to get married so soon. The only response anyone received from Casey and Derek was 'It's been long enough'.

And in reality, they really couldn't wait to be married. They had lived together for 8 years and had been together for a little less than 5. Both were ready for that next step and they figured there was no reason to wait. Besides, they were both looking forward to the steps that followed. Jobs, a home, a family. They were truly looking forward to te life ahead of them.

So, the weekend after their family returned from their vacation, celebrating Lizzie and Edwin's upcoming graduation, Casey and Derek took their own little vacation. They traveled to Toronto in search of a house near their upcoming jobs.

It wasn't surprising to them that they had saved enough money over the years to put a down payment on a house. From the moment they had gotten together they subconsciously controlled their spending. There were no superfluous trips or things bought. All extra money was placed into their separate savings accounts. And after only a few months together, they opened a joint account to save money. Words were never needed and a discussion on what they were saving for was never uttered. It was all understood between the two, even if it was on a subconscious level at the time.

So, after a few phone calls and visits to houses, both fell in love with a huge 4 bedroom house. It wasn't terribly out of their price range, and with their upcoming full time jobs and Derek's well paying artistic talent they decided they would begin the process of making it their home.

Nora, along with Casey's close girl friends, seemed completely upset and disgusted by Casey lack of wanting a huge wedding. When she had mentioned that she wanted no more that about 50 people at the wedding and reception, many questions were asked. Casey merely shrugged, explaining that she and Derek had already discussed it. They didn't feel the need for a large ceremony with people who didn't really understand them. Derek and Casey only wanted those that were important to them to be there. Only those that really mattered would be involved in the happiest day of their life, or at least the happiest day until the day their family would grow.

Besides, they didn't really feel that the ceremony was all that important. They were looking forward to the years to follow more than the actual day.

This caused problems to arise with Derek and his father. Derek did not want to invite his mother to the wedding. When this was mentioned, Casey completed understood, letting Derek know that it was his choice. She knew that he did not have the best relationship with his mother Abby, and she knew that he only wanted people who cared about him and Casey around on that day. It took a little time for Derek to explain this to his father, and after threatening that he would take Casey to city hall and just get married there, George finally backed down.

The thing that shocked people most was that Derek and Casey decided not to write their own vows. Most people thought that they would want to express themselves in a more meaningful way, like they did at every passing chance. It actually sickened people to see how lovey they were with one another.

Although they told everyone that they just wanted to be traditional, that was not the real reason. Derek and Casey decided to stick to the script for one reason. Well, 2 actually. First, they both figured they would wind up saying the same things, things that they already knew and didn't need to be told. The reasons why they loved each other were said countless times before, especially through their eyes, and a big ordeal to tell the people at the wedding was not necessary.

The second reason was that they figured at some point during their confessions of love both were going to wind up crying, and Casey definitely did not was teary eyed pictures taken.

So the second wedding joining a MacDonald and Venturi came. Excitement filled the church and a lone Casey walked down the aisle. Derek offered on countless occasions to ask his own father to walk her down the aisle, but she refused. Casey was fine with her father problems, or she at least didn't let them bother her anymore. She also knew that one day her own children will know the love of both parents, a love that will never be questioned or doubted. And after a few discussions with Derek, seeing the excitement in his eyes about one day becoming a father, she had no doubts that he would never follow in her own father's footsteps.

Smiles were shared, pictures were taken, cake was eaten and dances were danced. And with one look in the other's eyes, both Casey and Derek knew that they were where they were supposed to be.

About a week after their wedding, Casey and Derek sat in the dining room of their home. It was already set up, since they moved in a few weeks before the wedding. So the only boxes around were of the weddings gifts that they were given.

Placing the finishing touches on the thank you card Casey was currently writing, she handed it to Derek who was waiting to fill out the envelope. Casey crossed off the second to last name on her list of people to send cards to. With just one name, or rather family, left on her list she turned to face her husband.


Pulling his chair over so that the edges of his own chair were touching Casey's, Derek placed his arm around her shoulder and nodded. After a small discussion, while Casey took down notes, they began to write out their final thank you card.

After Derek wrote the familiar address on the envelope and placed the stamp in the upper corner, her turned and pulled Casey over to him. With her side flush against his, Casey leaned into his shoulder and rested her head.

"I love you" she whispered.

Intertwining her fingers with his own, he placed their hands in his lap as he kissed the top of her head. "I love you too Casey."

A few days later, Marti was coming home from playing with a friend. Noticing the mail was delivered, she grabbed it before entering the house. Flipping through it quickly, she noticed the familiar handwriting of her older brother and noticed it was address to the Venturi/MacDonald family.

Calling everyone into the dining room, Marti handed the envelope to Nora and sat down at the table, quickly followed by the rest of the family. As Nora opened the envelope, she noticed it was a thank you card from the newlyweds. Smiling, she began to read out loud.

Dear Mom, Dad, Edwin, Lizzie and Marti,

First and foremost, we would like to thank all of you for the wedding and the wonderful honeymoon you sent us on. Hawaii was amazing and as soon as we get the pictures developed we will visit to show them to you.

Secondly, words cannot possibly explain how much gratitude we feel towards all of you. It is one thing to be supportive and happy of our situation, but to not judge means more than anything to us. You will never know how grateful we feel to have you all as our family.

We would also like to thank you for everything you have done for us over the years. If you had pushed us sooner than we might not have developed the friendship we had first. And if you pushed us later, we might have given up and missed out on the chance of true happiness.

Lastly, thank you for being who you are. Thank you for being understanding and open-minded. Thank you for loving us and allowing us to be happy. Thank you so much for everything.

With all our love and appreciation,

Casey and Derek

Looking up, noticing the watery eyes of every member of the family, Nora wiped at her own eyes. She slowing got up and walked over to the shelf that held many pictures. Picking up Casey and Derek's wedding picture, she opened the blank half of the frame and placed the thank you card in the other slot.

For some reason, when they bought the frame a few days ago, they all seemed to know they were going to need a double frame instead of a single one.

A/N: Well, that's the end. This was my first fic and I am sad to see it go. I really hope you all like it. Thank you all for reading and a special thanks to those who reviewed. It meant a lot.

I am sorry for the many mistakes in this story. I didn't have a beta and I guess I never noticed the mistakes when I reread the chapters before putting them on the site. Maybe one day I will go back and fix them, but I'm lazy so I probably won't.

Thanks once again and I really hope you all enjoyed my take on our favorite couple.