Last chapter! Thanks so much for all the feedback…I can't tell you guys enough how much your reviews mean to me.

Enjoy!

--Brandi

Disclaimer: Still don't own it. Isn't it sad how little has changed?

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Life is a road and I wanna keep going. Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing. Life is a road, now and forever…wonderful journey.

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Chapter 3: In the End I Wanna Be Standing at the Beginning with You

When Ralph heard Derek basically confess his feelings to Casey, and then hang up, he knew he'd finally snapped. Because everything he'd said was true. Ralph had been trying to set Derek up with girls all semester, but his friend wouldn't have it. He wouldn't even go out to a party.

Derek would sit in his room at the computer, watching and re-watching all his video footage of Casey, and spreading his pictures of her across his bed, tracing them one by one with his fingers. It was getting pathetic.

But Ralph had had no idea Derek was so far gone. What good did it do Derek to confess his feelings now? No good at all. Casey was gone. He'd missed his chance. Sam and Emily had been telling him all last year that his window of opportunity had been waning, but Derek wouldn't listen.

And then there was that disastrous confession on graduation night; Sam and Emily hadn't known about that part. Derek had told him one night at the beginning of the semester. Ralph felt sorry for him, he really did, but it was no excuse to quit living your life. He decided that if Derek didn't snap out of it by winter break, he would force him to go see Casey at the McDonald-Venturi's and settle this, even if he had to tag along himself.

And now Derek had gone and basically told Casey how he felt about her. What the hell was Casey supposed to do now? Drop everything and move back to Canada because Derek was moping around? He hoped she had more sense than that.

Then again, he also hoped she'd do it.

They didn't speak again after that phone call. Derek spent the next week growing more and more despondent.

Ralph began to lose hope that either of them would make the first move.

However, he had no idea what Casey was thinking. He could only assume she had washed her hands of the whole thing and decided to move on. But, he thought, that girl was always full of surprises.

LWDLWDLWDLWDLWDLWDLWDLWDLWDLWD

The next Friday morning, Casey packed her overnight bag and hugged Charlotte goodbye at the bus station. She had tucked the stolen polo shirt into a front pocket of the duffle; she'd been sleeping in it every night, but figured she'd better return it.

The ride back into Canada was long, and Casey couldn't keep her mind on the homework she had brought for the journey. She began to second guess her decision, but when the familiar Toronto skyline came into view, she was filled with a rush of excitement, and her resolve was strengthened. Neither she nor Derek had Friday classes, and she hoped he'd be home. She kept patting her pocket to make sure the slip of paper with Derek's address on it was still there, and when the bus finally reached the stop near his building, she was surer than ever that this was the right thing to do.

She didn't want to buzz him on the intercom; that would ruin the surprise. So she waited outside the door for twenty minutes, hoping someone would come in or out. She got her chance when an elderly woman brought her dog in from a walk, and Casey darted into the lobby and up the stairs.

She stopped in the stairwell to Derek's floor to brush her hair and make sure she looked presentable. "Please be home," she whispered, as she pushed open the stairwell door.

No such luck. It was a Friday night; of course he'd be out. She sat down on the floor with her back against the wall, pulling out her homework again and trying to work on it.

Suddenly she heard footsteps down the hall, and she stood up quickly.

It wasn't Derek. A man passed her with a curt nod, and let himself into the apartment across the hall.

Soon she figured she should really call him and let him know she was sitting outside his door, but at the same time she couldn't bear to ruin her plan.

Ralph finally came along an hour later. "Casey!" he cried, shocked to see her.

They hugged briefly, and he eyed her. "What are you doing here?"

"Why do you think I'm here? To see Derek."

"Oh. He's been at the library all night. I just got in from class, so he should be back with our dinner soon. He always orders Chinese for us on Friday nights."

"Derek at a library? What is the world coming to?" Casey joked, but she was pleased about it.

Ralph shrugged. "It's either do his homework or sit in his bedroom staring at your picture for hours on end. That's all he ever does these days."

Casey's eyes grew wide. "Are you serious?"

Ralph feigned remorse. "Oops, I've said too much." He smiled. "Why don't you come in and wait for him?"

"Thanks, but I want to wait for him right here. You said he wouldn't be much longer?"

"Probably not. Okay, well, let me know if you need anything." He patted her shoulder as he went inside, and before he shut the door he added as an afterthought, "Good luck!"

She thanked him, and began piling her homework back into her bag. After a few more minutes, she heard footsteps again.

This time, Derek came around the corner. When he spotted Casey, he went white, and walked toward her slowly, unable to break eye contact. The Chinese food bag fell from his wrist as he stood there, dumbstruck.

"Hi," she said simply, and he managed a weak smile.

"Hey."

They stood there awkwardly for a moment, until Derek broke the silence with, "I'm sorry about that phone call…"

Just as Casey said, "Derek, about that phone call…"

They laughed, and he scratched the back of his head nervously. "You go ahead."

She nodded.

"I transferred to Toronto. I should get the acceptance letter any day. So I'm here for the weekend to tour the school…and celebrate with you."

Derek's eyes widened. "What?!"

"I hated Yale, Derek. For a lot of reasons. But mostly because you weren't there."

This couldn't be happening. He had waited for this for so long, and now she was finally telling him she wanted him? It wasn't possible.

"So you mean, you agree with what I said graduation night?"

"You said you didn't remember what happened that night!" she cried. Casey couldn't be angry, though; she was too excited.

"Answer me."

"Yes. But I'm not going to say it until you say it again. Because I'll know you mean it this time."

"Fair enough." He paused. "I love you, Case."

Casey felt her chest constrict for a second, and she breathed a huge sigh of relief. "I love you, too."

And the next thing she knew, she was in his arms, pouring all of her emotion into a perfect kiss. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he reached for the doorknob; they crashed through the door and stumbled towards his bedroom, still entangled.

Derek pulled away long enough to bark to Ralph, who was reclining on the sofa, "Ralphie! Bags!"

Ralph sat up quickly and saluted. "Yes, sir!"

He smiled after them as they tumbled through Derek's bedroom door, and shut it firmly behind them. Ralph ran outside to collect Casey's luggage and the forgotten Chinese food. He glanced back towards the apartment, tossing Casey's bag into it and shutting the door. Then he picked up the food and headed towards the stairwell, whistling as he went.