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Two weeks have passed since that horrible night in Massachusetts State Hospital. Throughout this time, Derek Barnes had feigned a positive attitude and pretended that he was his old, care-free self
again. But the memory of his and Lan's captivity, continued to haunt him and eat away at his conscience. In spite of what Lan , Nathan, and everyone else told him, Derek still blamed himself for putting
everyone in danger. It was a recurring pattern that, until now, he was able to brush off and ignore. But the demonic attack on his friends, his torture, and near death experience, finally convinced Derek
that he needed to rethink his approach. But all that could wait until they returned home… Still, thanks to Emma and his brother Adam, Derek managed to find some comfort in knowing that his actions
did help free countless numbers of souls, trapped in that horrible asylum. It was a small consolation, yes, but it did make him feel a little better.
During his hospital stay, Derek found comfort through Chloe, Jason, and Lan, who never left his side. Nathan, even brought in his own Playstation 2; so that he, Derek, and Jason could duke it out,
playing: Twisted Metal: Black, Onimusha: War Lords, and Gran Turismo 3. Derek enjoyed video gaming immensely. But what he enjoyed most of all, were the tender moments he and Lan shared when
no one else was around. Whenever, Chloe & Jason had to leave the room for a few minutes, Lan would close the door, and she and Derek would make out. Derek wasn't sure what he enjoyed more:
the sugary taste of Lan's kisses, the sweet intoxicating smell of her roses / orange blossom perfume; or the exhilarating rush, of potentially being caught in the act.
After he was discharged from the hospital, Derek was eager to return home as soon as possible, but Nathan wouldn't hear of it. It wasn't easy, but he, along with everyone else, managed to convince
Derek, to stay an additional two weeks; at least until his ribs healed. The last two weeks were spent going out, sight seeing, and reminiscing of fun memories. Finally, the day came when it was time
for them to leave. But on the night before they were to say their 'goodbyes', Nathan threw one last party…
The time on Nathan's outside patio clock, read: 8:24 p.m., and the sun was just starting to set. It was a beautiful warm summer evening in Waltham, Massachusetts. Once again, the group of party-
goers was small, but lively. Derek was hobbling around on one crutch, while operating his video camera, recording the party. First, he focused his camera on Lan, sitting on a large boulder next to the
pond, looking at the ducks. Derek continued focusing on her. She was even more beautiful with her hair down, and the setting sun's rays caused her silk, turquoise skirt, and camisole, to shimmer. Lan
looked up, and noticed Derek had been filming her. She smiled, blowing him a kiss. He blew a kiss back to her, and grinned. He then pans the camera over to Jason, lounging on an outdoor love seat
with Devina. Jason, had his arm, stretched out, strategically behind Devina, in an attempt to put his arms around her. Derek then panned his camera over to Chloe, Nathan, and Amy, slaving away at
the grill. As Nathan and Chloe chatted, with bottles of beer in hand, Derek noticed Amy, struggling with a large, silver kettle, filled with live lobsters. Derek's grin, widened as inspiration struck. He
quickly hobbled over to Chloe, Nathan, and Amy, taking care not to be noticed by Jason. Chloe, was the first to notice Derek.
"Oh hey Derek" said Chloe, but then she noticed his Cheshire cat grin, and she cocked her eyebrow. "What are you up to?"
"Nathan I need your help" smiled Derek, as Nathan and Chloe exchanged looks.
"O-Kay…what do you need" asked Nathan, putting his beer down.
Derek handed Nathan the camera while it was still recording, and then he opened up the silver kettle, pulling out one of the live, struggling lobsters. Amy shouted "Hey!" as Chloe continued to stare at him, disapprovingly.
"That's your lobster Derek" chided Amy, "so you better not let anything happen to it…"
But Derek didn't seem to be listening. Instead, he held the lobster with his free hand, laughing and then he held the lobster up in front of the camera lens, throwing his voice on it.
"Hello" spoke Derek in a weird, high pitched voice, "I'm Larry the Lobster, and we're gonna play a little joke on Jason…"
Derek continued to laugh and grin, as he turned and beckoned Nathan to follow him. Amy and Chloe both rolled their eyes, and shook their heads as Nathan followed Derek.
"This is going to be hilarious" whispered Derek, as he and Nathan quietly snuck up behind the love seat.
With care and caution, Derek quietly positioned himself behind Jason, as Nathan, focused the camera on the lobster in his hand. Slowly, Derek moved the lobster, closer to Jason's face, keeping it just
outside of Jason's range of vision. Derek resumed his funny voice, as one of the lobster's antenna, brushed Jason's cheek.
"Hello…can I have a hug?"
Jason turns his head and jumps when seeing the lobster in his face. But his sudden movement, knocks the lobster out of Derek's hands, and it tumbles then crawls around in Jason's lap. Jason shoots
up out of his seat, screaming, flailing his arms, and dances around, trying to shake the lobster off his pants. By this time, Derek and Nathan are both doubled over, laughing so hard, they're in tears.
When Jason finally rips the lobster off his pants, Jason glares at Derek, leaning on his crutch, trying to catch his breath. Without warning, Jason rushes Derek and tackles him to the ground. Chloe and
Amy both gasp, and rush over to Derek and Jason. Lan and Devina rush over as well, fearing that Jason will clobber Derek. But instead, Jason traps Derek in a headlock, and grinds his fist in Derek's
hair, as he and Nathan continue laughing, hysterically. Eventually Jason stops, and gets off of Derek, who finally runs out of breath. Sprawled on the ground, Derek looks up at Jason and smiles.
"Aw Jason…you hurt Larry the Lobster's feelings…"
Jason narrowed his eyes at Derek, then smiled. "Derek, you are one sick, twisted individual…"
Jason reached out, and helped Derek to his feet; then the two embraced, and laughed like teenagers, as Chloe and Lan exchanged smiles. The group eventually shared a delicious seafood dinner,
drinks, and more laughs, before dispersing in different directions. Devina led Jason back to the house, so she could 'show him' her room. Derek took Lan by the hand, and led her down to the fire pit.
Chloe and Amy chatted on the patio, when Nathan walked over to them, and handed Chloe a large envelope.
"What is this?" asked Chloe, confused.
"Open it" smiled Nathan.
Chloe hesitated at first, but then she slowly opened up the envelope, as Amy slid her arm around Nathan's waist. The two exchanged thoughtful looks, as Chloe's eyes became slightly misty. Inside the
envelope was a video tape, and pictures of her and Adam when they stayed with Nathan and Amy.
"I'm sorry" spoke Nathan, softly, "Amy and I didn't mean to make you sad. We actually meant to give you these things sooner, but it was…"
"…too hard?" spoke Chloe, finishing Nathan's sentence. Though her eyes were misty, Chloe looked at them and smiled.
"Thank you guys" Chloe said, "This really means a lot…"
She continued looking at the pictures in her hand; one of them was of Adam, Chloe, Nathan and Amy, laughing around the fire pit, roasting hot dogs. And another one, was of Adam and Chloe,
standing near the pond in the fall; in this picture, Adam had wrapped his arms around Chloe, keeping her warm, as he kissed her forehead. This picture caused Chloe's throat to ache, as she repressed
her tears. She slipped the pictures and the video tape back into the envelope.
"Well" spoke Amy, "It's too bad you guys have to leave so soon. You know you are welcome to stay as long as you want".
"Yea" added Nathan, "I wish Derek wouldn't go. I'd feel a whole lot better if he took more time off".
Chloe smiled briskly. "Yea. But you know how he is…"
Chloe hugged the large envelope in her arms as she glanced down the hill at the fire pit, where Derek and Lan were now standing. Chloe frowned, shaking her head.
"Poor Derek…" spoke Chloe, "I really wish he would take more time, so he can cope with the trauma ".
"He really got the worst of it" spoke Amy, squeezing Nathan's waist.
Chloe shivered, remembering all the things she and Jason, saw on the video tape. The worst part for her (other than watching Lan struggling to revive him), was the part where Derek was nearly
assaulted by those two men, who mysteriously vanished after a solid black column of fog appeared in the room. After that, Chloe couldn't bear to watch anymore.
"Derek has always been resilient" continued Chloe, "but this time I think it's different. This whole experience isn't something he can just brush off, or sweep under the rug…it's personal, somehow. I
just hope he knows he can open up to us."
"I think he knows that" said Nathan, drinking his beer. "But I also believe he's going to be okay."
Chloe stared at Nathan, stunned. She couldn't believe Nathan, was treating Derek's state of mind, so nonchalantly. Nathan, picked up on Chloe's reaction and quickly clarified what he said.
"I know Derek's going to be okay Chloe…" he continued, "…because he has you, Jason and Lan, to lean on…but it's important that you don't force him to talk about his ordeal. Just let him know you
guys are there for him, and that you got his back…that's about all you can do…"
Nathan took another swig from his beer then stopped. "Hey wait a minute, what am I saying? You're the psychologist…"
Chloe smiled and laughed at his response.
Meanwhile, down by the fire pit: Derek and Lan sat close to each other on a stone bench, watching the fire as it spit glowing flakes into the indigo night sky. Derek smiled as he watched the fire cast
a warm radiant glow on Lan's face. She was so beautiful. For the first time in his life, Derek was truly happy. He reached into his left pocket, and was about to remove something until Lan spoke up.
"Oh! There's something I got to tell you…I was going to save it as a surprise, but I can't wait anymore" Lan said. "Since I posted our story about Massachusetts State Hospital…the number of our
subscribers have tripled!"
Lan turned around to face Derek, and smiled as she continued.
"Also, you wouldn't believe how many emails we've received. Last I checked, there were over two hundred new messages. The Wack Pack's gone crazy…"
Lan was about to stand up, until Derek grabbed her wrist, and gently pulled her back down. Her smile faded, and confusion set in.
"What's the matter, Derek" she asked, "Don't you want to go and see?"
Derek did not respond. Instead, he took Lan's hand, and handed her a small, white, velvet box. Lan looked at the box, then looked at him. She was speechless.
"Go ahead" smiled Derek, nervous, "open it".
He bit his knuckles and watched nervously as Lan, slowly opened the small box. She gasped when seeing a small, delicate, sterling silver heart locket. Lan stared at Derek. She moved her lips, but she
was unable to speak. Derek, shifted nervously on the stone bench.
"I…I know we just started dating and I know it's probably too early to buy you something like this…"
Lan continued staring at him as he spoke more rapidly.
"I mean…what I mean is, I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable with this gift. And I know it isn't much but I wanted to get you something to show how much I care about you and to show how much I
appreciate you and when I saw it at the store, I knew I had to get it for you…so…I hope you like it….and I hope you don't think it's stupid…"
Lan looked at Derek, and looked at the necklace. She was near tears.
"Derek…it's beautiful…" spoke Lan, in a quivering voice. "…Please…would you help me put it on?"
Derek's hands trembled slightly, as he removed the silver locket from its box. Lan moved closer to Derek, holding her hair up, as he slipped the silky chain around her neck, and fastened it. Lan then
turned around, so that Derek could see how it looked on her. His hands, rested on her shoulders.
"Well" smiled Lan, "how does it look?"
Derek couldn't speak. All he could do was watch as the warm light of the fire danced off Lan's face, giving her a radiant glow; The silver heart locket, his gift to her, gleamed in the firelight.
"It's beautiful" Derek said finally, as his hands softly traveled up her neck, and cupped her chin.
Derek slowly leaned in and kissed her. As he did this, Lan slid close to him, her hands traveled up his chest, and around his neck. He pulled away and they both shared a smile before they resumed
kissing one another. Whatever pain or sadness Derek was carrying inside, melted away as he and Lan held and kissed each other. They continued to kiss and hold one another, and they ignored Amy
as she tried calling them back for dessert…
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