A/N: I don't own LWD

A/N: I don't own LWD.


A ring is a symbol of promise, hope, love, and romance. Often times a ring can symbolize something bigger such as an engagement or a wedding – the union of two people becoming one. To me, a ring means something even bigger and maybe even a little bit stranger. To me, a ring means so much more.

I suppose if I began my story with the clichéd opening of "It started with a ring, it ended with a ring" you might not continue reading but the truth is, you need to read it. You need to read my story, my story of what a ring means. You see, a ring to me is a never-ending promise. No, I am not talking about an engagement ring or a wedding band; I'm talking about a hula-hoop.

Yes, a hula-hoop.

Now, wipe that confused and bewildered look off your face and just keep reading. Things will all clear up for you in a moment, unless of course your name is Ralph but that's another story in and of itself. You see, some people might measure their love or promises by a hug, a kiss, soft words whispered under the moonlit darkness but not us. We measure our love with a hula-hoop.

When I agreed to participate as a Summer Day Camp councilor, I never expected what lay ahead. I have never been good with children. I am bossy and domineering but I do love little kids so of course, I eagerly signed up to be a councilor. I wanted my camp to be educational and offer a learning experience for the kids. Little did I know I was the one who would get a lesson. He was there for summer school, I was there for summer camp. Don't ask me what happened, it just did. One moment he sneaks out of class and rallies my kids and gets them to throw paper wads at me, the next he is slipping a hula-hoop over my neck. It just happened. It was his idea to have the obstacle course. Me, never being good at that kind of thing, chose to sit on the sidelines. He came over to me, slipped a hula-hoop over my head, and said, "Force field is activated."

That was the first time my heart stopped. I never in my lifetime had felt like that. It was like I was riding a roller coaster and the cart just brought you up to the tip top of the track and was about to drop you down this huge slope. Yes, it was like that. I remember biting my lip and joining in, not really knowing what else to do with myself. To me, that hula-hoop wasn't just a teasing gesture but a symbol. A symbol for "I know these kids have given you a hard time and so have I but just kick back for once, Spacey, and have some fun!"

Yes, that was the first hula-hoop, the first heart-stop.

The second hula-hoop was at Mari's birthday party. His girl friend and I planed the whole thing because my mom was out of town and George was…well, George for lack of any better description. We had planed a good party and Derek even helped in the end! It was a fun party but I wasn't having a good time. My boyfriend had just officially broken up with me and honestly, I wanted to crawl into a whole and burry myself alive. I came downstairs and told Sally what had happened. She gave me a sympathetic look and kind words but Derek gave me something better – a hula-hoop. He casually tossed it over me like I was a pin in the ground and the child's toy was a horseshoe but for some reason, my heart stopped once more. To me, he wasn't just doing it to be his annoying self; he was doing it to say, "Case, just smile. He isn't worth your frowns or your tears." And once more, my heart stopped.

The third time was when I was getting ready to go to college. I had my suitcases all packed and was ready to head off to the airport. Derek on the other hand wasn't going to college. He was going to a community college first. I was walking down the stairs trudging my suitcases behind me. Derek was about to come up the stairs when he tripped over Marti's hula-hoop. He had cursed, picked it up, continued up the stairs, and placed it over me once again. I had shouted a 'Der-ek!' at him but my smile exposed my true emotion. To me, he wasn't just being immature, he was saying "Case, don't forget me."

I know you might be thinking, "Come on, Casey. You are totally overanalyzing this!" And maybe I was after all, overanalyzing was what I did best. But when I came back for Christmas break, those doubts all changed.

Derek and I hadn't shared more than three words my first night home and I couldn't sleep. I sat down on the couch and stared off out to space just…thinking. Derek came barreling down the stairs and shot me a concerned look. "You aren't getting all Spacey on me again, are you?" He asked, his eyes teasing. I shook my head and smiled. It was then that he picked up a hula-hoop from behind the couch, slipped it over me and said, "You aren't going anywhere until you tell me what's bothering you." I didn't think I had been that obvious but apparently he could tell something was up. So I had no choice but to spill the fact that my boy friend had broken up with me, my best friend was mad at me, and I missed home. "Home misses you," he replied before shoving himself off the couch and walking off.

He missed me.

I missed him.

Now what?

The third time was when I was moving into my new apartment. It was late but the doorbell rang and despite my better judgment, I answered it. There he was standing on the other side sopping wet due to the rain but in his hand was a hula-hoop. "I know I haven't really talked to you in years, Case but I miss you and I know you miss me too. I also…I also think that over these years, I've fallen for you and I know you'd be lying if you said you didn't fall for me either." He slipped the hula-hoop over me and drew me close to him, kissed me, and said, "I know most guys propose with a ring but would you mind if I used the hula-hoop? Until I get money for a real ring, you know?"

So see what I mean when I say it started with a hula-hoop and ended with a hula-hoop? Told you I wasn't crazy! Derek and I have never been a "conventional couple." Hell, he's my stepbrother so why would our relationship be anything but unconventional?

Our relationship was hula-hoops.

Guess it doesn't get any more "unconventional" than that, huh?

So see what I mean when I say that a ring means so much more to me? To me it symbolizes what we always wanted to say but never could and that despite the fighting, the yelling, the threatening, it was a promise that we'd always be there for each other – with a hula-hoop.