A/N: Okay, so the early people who saw this chapter read my author's note, with the ginormous apology for this update taking so long (it got deleted from my computer, writer's block, I got grounded, etc.) but then I fixed something in the chapter and the author's note was lost. So I'm super super sorry for that.
Also, there's been confusion, so take note: THIS IS THE LAST CHAPTER. THERE WILL BE NO MORE UPDATES. And I really don't care for begging and pleading, the story is done, so please don't try to convince me to change my mind; I won't listen.
Thanks so much for all your lovely reviews; they make me so happy! I'd love to hear more from you (especially the ones I haven't heard from; I still get alerts when somebody favorites my story or something, and I usually like to see a review along with that!), what parts and lines and scenes and chapters you liked (or didn't like, but please no flames). Thanks again!
Derek awoke feeling very content. And warm. Almost as though he were snuggled up with Mr. Bear again. His eyes still closed, he planted a soft kiss on the top of Mr. Bear's head.
"Derek," Mr. Bear murmured.
"Yes, Mr. Bear?" he said sleepily.
Wait. Derek's eyes flew open. Mr. Bear couldn't talk.
Oh. Riiiiiiiiight. Casey.
"What did you call me?" He was sure he could hear a giggle behind her sleepy whisper.
"Uh, nothing." Now that his wits were coming back to him, he realized they were in the exact same position that they had fallen asleep in. Funny how they could fall asleep on opposite sides of the bed and wake up close together, but to fall asleep close together and wake up the same way? Ridiculous.
Derek unwrapped his stiff arms from around her and stretched.
"Did you just wake up?" he murmured.
"About the same time you did," Casey said. She looked as if she wanted to pursue the Mr. Bear issue, but thankfully she dropped it.
"Hmm," Derek said noncommittally. He sat up, completely ending his embrace with Casey. She rolled over and looked at the alarm clock as he yawned.
"We'd better get up," she said, throwing back the covers and swinging her legs off of the bed. "Otherwise George or Mom will be up to get us."
"Right," Derek said. The window was still blowing in a soft breeze, so he got up to close it. "That is pretty cold," he commented.
"Oh, now you tell me," Casey said irritably. Derek laughed.
There was a soft knock on the door.
"Yeah?" Derek called from next to window. With a groan, Casey flopped right back onto the bed and closed her eyes.
"You kids coming down for breakfast?" Nora asked. "It's a little late."
"We're coming, Mom," Casey said. They heard Nora's footsteps get fainter and disappear.
"But you're not," Derek said, amused. He leaned against the window, crossed his arms, and raised his eyebrows at Casey. She didn't move an inch.
"Leavemelone," Casey muttered, squeezing her eyes shut tighter.
"What, just a few seconds ago you were all 'Let's get up, la de de da da…' What's changed? Somebody's cranky," he sang. "C'mon, Spacey. Up and at 'ems."
"Non." He walked across the room and stood over her, crossing his arms and mock-glaring like a menacing policeman. When that failed to illicit a response, he grabbed her legs and attempted to drag her off the bed.
"Derek, geroff," Casey moaned. Still not opening her eyes, she grabbed at the comforter beneath her and tried to kick him off.
"You're just being dramatic," he said, letting go of her legs and starting to tickle her feet. "You're not really tired. Or cranky. You've just realized it's been—gosh, a couple of hours since you've pulled a primadonna?"
In spite of herself, Casey started giggling uncontrollably. She always had been absurdly ticklish.
"Stop, stop," she practically shrieked. She opened her eyes at last and attempted to sit up, but he just grabbed one of her legs and pulled, causing her to fall back on the bedspread.
"Okay already, I'm getting up!" He just tickled her feet more. She was trying to sit up and glare at him but kept collapsing back onto the bed, practically cackling.
"No, you're not!" he yelled over her giggles. "Slowpoke." She tried kicking him again, weaker this time, and he took both of her legs and with one giant tug pulled her off the bed. They both toppled onto the floor in a pile of breathless laughter.
"Derek," Casey said between wheezes, as they disentangled themselves and stood up, brushing off, "did we just have an actual fun, non-fighting moment or am I dreaming?"
"Oh, is this the stuff your dreams are made of?" he said, quirking an eyebrow at her. She rolled her eyes and smacked his arm. His face grew solemn.
"Yeah, we did. This never leaves this room, okay? Stays between us. We will never talk about this again, because this never happened. We've got a rep to keep, you know."
"You are so full of it," Casey muttered. "Fine." She held out her hand for him to shake. Derek spit in his hand and went to grasp hers, but she wrenched it away just in time.
"Ew," she said. "That's disgusting. You'll just have to take my word for it."
She left the room, making sure to bump hard into his shoulder on the way out.
"Casey!" Derek yelled in the crowded hallways of J.S. Thompson High School. What was it with him always talking to her in school these days?
"Um, you're being called," Emily said. They were standing by Casey's locker at the end of lunch period, and Derek was waving madly from the staircase, trying to get her attention.
"Am I?" Casey dug her cell out of her pocket. "Nope, doesn't seem so."
"Very funny. Why don't you just go over there and see what he wants?"
"Because," Casey said. Derek evidently decided it would be easier just to go to her, and he pulled up to her locker just as she said, "I've got a rep to keep."
"Hey, Casey," Derek said, ignoring the fact that his own words had just been used against him. "What pajamas did I wear last night?"
"What?" she said, so caught off guard she forgot she was supposed to be ignoring him.
"What did I wear to bed last night?" he repeated, with a completely straight face.
"Why?" she asked, not for the life of her able to figure out why he had come up to her at school to ask her that.
"Because Mark was talking about how he'd spilled ketchup on the shirt he wore to bed last night but because the shirt was red, you couldn't see it, and then that kind of led to other people talking about spills and shirts and now the conversation is on what we wore to bed last night and I can't remember," he said, speaking quickly so he could get back to his friends.
"Oh, of course," Casey said, turning back to her locker and rolling her eyes. "I should have guessed." She made a mental note never to talk to any of Derek's friends besides Ralph and Sam.
"So?" he said, poking her in the side. "Do you remember?"
"You wore that white long-sleeved cotton shirt with the green sleeves and your green and blue plaid pajama pants," she said without turning.
"Great, thanks," he said, and sprinted away back to the stairs.
As soon as he was gone, Casey slammed her locker shut and turned to face Emily.
"Do you see what I have to put up with?" she said, her voice bordering on hysterical.
"You seemed to remember what he wore pretty well, though," Emily smirked.
"How could I not? My face was pressed up against that shirt all night!"
"Ooh la la," Emily joked, but under her breath, because she really didn't want to risk the wrath of Casey.
"Casey, I'm going to pick your mattress up from the cleaner's," Nora told her daughter as she picked up her keys and put on her coat after school.
"Okay," Casey said, fixing herself an after-school snack of carrot sticks. Derek walked into the room, his hockey bag slung over one shoulder.
"Urgh, rabbit food," he said of her snack choices, then reached over and grabbed about half of her carrots.
"Hey!" she protested, but he had already shoved them all in his mouth.
"Oh, Derek, I'm going out so we should double," Nora said, looking frantically for her purse until Casey pointed to it sitting on the kitchen counter.
"Sounds good," Derek said through a mouthful of carrots. He gave Casey a very orange grin before following his stepmother into the garage.
"Ew," she muttered under her breath, making do with the five carrots she had left.
As soon as she was done eating, Casey rinsed her plate and went upstairs. She had the house to herself; Edwin and Lizzie were at some birthday party (they seemed to attend a lot of those), George was at work, and Marti was at Dimi's. Casey stifled a yawn as she passed Derek's room to enter her own.
The sight of her bed-less room still gave a little shock to her system when she entered. It looked so…empty. She'd actually been spending more time in Derek's room than in her own these past few days.
Casey clicked around on the computer aimlessly for a few minutes. She'd finished all her homework in the catch-up period her math teacher had granted the class that day, and none of her teachers would agree to give a straight-A student unnecessary extra credit or any upcoming assignments in advance. And she'd asked them all. What was she supposed to do if not homework?
Casey yawned again as she stared at her computer screen, bored and tired. What with that infernal window being open, it had taken her much longer to fall asleep than usual last night, although once she had gotten warm sleep had come very quickly. Still, she hadn't gotten her required eight hours. Most teenagers probably didn't; she knew Derek usually slid by on six, but Casey had always liked to be as refreshed as possible.
A nap couldn't hurt.
Then, of course, she remembered she didn't have a bed. Then she remembered Derek wasn't home.
Casey snuck out of her bedroom as though the whole house was infested with spies even though she knew perfectly well no one was home but her. She darted into Derek's room and very quietly closed the door.
With a contented sigh, she crawled beneath the covers and closed her eyes. Burrowing deeper into the bed, she fell asleep quite quickly with a smile on her face.
"Derek, could you please help me carry Casey's mattress inside?" Nora asked as Derek climbed out of the car, leaving his hockey equipment inside.
"Uh…" Derek said. He was not in a particularly good mood. Hockey practice had been canceled due to the coach being out with a "stomach virus". As though that were any excuse.
"Oh, look," he said as another car pulled into the garage. "Dad's home, he can help you." Before she had a chance to protest, Derek had scampered out of the garage and into the house.
Well, just because hockey practice was canceled didn't mean his day was totally ruined. What he really needed was just to relax on his bed, grab Sports Illustrated and crank some tunes. Then, his internal battery recharged, he could go downstairs and happily heckle Casey for the rest of the evening.
Derek opened the door to his room and stopped dead, staring. Then, slowly, a grin started to creep over his face.
"Why hello, Goldilocks," he murmured, going from irritation to amusement in seconds.
Derek softly closed the door and contemplated the sleeping form in his bed. How to best go about this? Pour ice-cold water on her head? Plug in his electric guitar right next to her ear? Jump on the bed? Maybe he should open that "Ways to Annoy Casey" folder on his computer to look for ideas…
She was stirring. He hadn't much time to humiliate her.
He leaned down super close, so his lips were practically touching her ear. He whispered:
"Somebody's been sleeping in my BED!" He yelled the last word, and she sat straight up with a shriek, eyes wide open. He laughed, clutching his sides.
"Priceless," he managed to choke out.
"Derek?" Casey looked completely disoriented, staring wildly about her. She also looked disheveled, not having changed out of her school clothes when she got in his bed.
"I…what…um…" she stammered. He composed himself, grinning as she struggled to say something.
"Whatcha doin'?" he asked casually, as though he walked into his room to find her sleeping in his bed every day.
"Sorry," she muttered, staring down at the comforter, her cheeks bright red. "I was tired."
"So you decided to take a nap in my bed," he said, smirking.
"Well, mine wasn't available, as you very well know!"
"And Lizzie's? And Marti's? Dad and Nora's? Even Edwin's? I suppose those beds weren't available either?"
"Oh." Casey turned, if possible, an even darker shade of red. "Well. I didn't think of that."
"Of course you didn't." Really. She was so easy to smirk at.
"Anyway," she said defensively. "Your bed's so comfortable. And aren't you supposed to be at hockey practice?" She finally looked him in the eye, one part defiance to two parts humiliation.
"Canceled," he informed her. "As is, I'm afraid, your nap. Your mattress is back, by the way."
"Oh," she said, looking back down at the comforter and running her hand over it. "Okay." She didn't make a move to leave.
Derek crossed his arms, waiting for her to get up. Moments passed. He sighed.
"Glued to the sheets?" he asked. A brief smile flitted across her face.
"No." She still didn't look up. Still didn't move.
"Well," he said slowly. "Then may I inquire as to why you have not left?"
"I am!" he said, frustrated.
"Right." She looked up, finally, and sighed, a sort of self-exasperated smile on her mouth. "This sounds stupid, but I'm just thinking about how tonight my bed is going to feel really hard and cold in comparison. So I'm trying to put off leaving your bed."
He softened somewhat—after being forced to sleep on the floor that first night, he well understood the importance of a soft place to lay one's head—but didn't want her to think he was going weak, so he disguised his sudden sympathy with (you guessed it) a smirk.
"Well, tear yourself away from my pillows, keep the tears to a minimum, and"—he motioned toward the door—"shoo."
"Fine," Casey said, and picked up one of his pillows and held it in her lap. "I'll miss you," she sighed, and planted a kiss on it.
"Nevermind, you can keep it," he said, crinkling his nose in mock-disgust. She laughed and finally stood up. She walked past him and opened the door.
"Casey," he said. He was still looking at the bed; she turned to look at him, one foot out the door.
He would never in his life understand what possessed him to say what he said next.
"If you want…Feel free to come back and visit the pillows any time."
There was a very long silence. At last Derek looked at her—she was looking thoughtful.
"You know," she said, a faint smile tugging at the corner of her mouth, "I may just take you up on that."
She left the room and closed the door smartly behind her. Then, a second later, she opened it again and stuck her head into the room.
"But only for the pillows," she said, before giving him a devilish grin and leaving.
BWAHAHA...I couldn't resist adding a little Dasey-ness to the end. ;) Well, that certainly has been a ride! I hope you enjoyed my (now completed) story, and I'd love love love your reviews!