A/N: ... Very disappointed T-T No reviews last chapter? XD Oh well. On with the story!! IT'S ALMOST OVER. This story is, like, my baby xD


"Do you know who you remind me of, DD?"

I've always hated that nickname.

"No, who?"

"Lucy—from the Peanuts!" Ian says, laughing.

"Because you're an angst-whore," Shane adds in unhelpfully.

"I'm an angst-whore. Original," I grumble. Shane grins.

"I know," he says. My God, that was sarcasm. Ian finishes adjusting the collar on my shirt like the mother hen he is, and then steps back to examine his work.

"Jeez, Derik, you look kinda hot when you're all dolled up," he states, eyeing my up and down, finger pressed to his lips. "If you weren't, like, practically my brother, I'd so hit on you."

"Thanks?" I say, raising an eyebrow.

"If I were a woman, I'd ask you out," Shane supplies. Ian looks at him with a surprised expression. Shane shrugs. "Well, all I can say is that he's not ugly."

"I've never been ugly a day in my life," I respond. Ian nods in agreement. He sticks his hand in pocket, and pulls out a bag of Smarties.

"Take this in case the food is late. Dates really appreciate it when you bring food," Ian says like he knows it all. He sticks the package in my hand.

"These were in your pocket?" How could anything even fit in those skinny jeans?

"Yes, why?" He cocks his head the side, confused.

"I don't want something out of your pocket. Who knows whose hand's been down there?" I say, shoving the Smarties back at him. He rolls his eyes, and puts his hand on his hip like a pissed off teenage girl. Well, he has the mind-set of a teenage girl.

"I just bought these, like, last week," he tells me.

"That honestly doesn't mean anything," Shane says. He stares at the candy in my hand with total repulsion. "And why were you carrying those things around, anyway?"

"Chuck Norris," Ian replies, smirking.

"I shouldn't have expected a real answer from you," Shane says, and jams his hands in his own reasonably sized pockets. "All I wanted to know is why a lawyer, who is almost thirty, was carrying candy around in an impossibly tight pocket."

"… Because I get hungry. You're lucky it wasn't porn or something."

"Thank you, Ian, I totally needed that visual," I mutter. Ian jabs a thumbs up in my direction. Shane, who finally decides he's put up with all this shit, leaves the room. He's probably going to clean or disinfect something, most likely.

"Don't let Shane get to you, Derik. He's just angry because he hasn't had a date in America for so long!" Ian chuckles jauntily, clapping me on the back so hard I actually stumble forward. "Now come here, you have SpongeBob CrazyHair, and I have to fix it." He licks his fingers and moves them toward my hair, but I bat them away.

"Don't touch my hair if you don't want me to smack you upside the head." Ian still musses up my hair anyway.

"There!" He claps his hands once. "It was all flippy and stuff. Girls don't like guys when they have flippy hair like yours."

"You know that how…?"

"I may not have any experience with girls, but I have a sister. And when she met you, she said you needed a hair cut." He makes a snipping motion with his fingers. "I've always wanted to cut someone's hair, if you would let me—"

"No, I'm not your stupid Barbie doll," I hiss. He frowns. "How'd you get that bump on your head, anyway?" I gesture the gigantic bruising bump on his forehead.

"Oh, that thing?" He looks up, probably trying to get a glimpse of it. It's on your forehead, idiot. There's no way you're going to see it unless you get in front of a mirror.

I really need to stop mentally berating my friends.

"Is it really so bad?" He purses his lips, and winces as he touches it.

"Don't touch it," I sigh. He just smiles widely in his weird Ian-like way. "What'd you do?"

"I… uh, hit my head on the headboard," he says.

Oh, gross.

"You could've lied to me!"

"Too late now!" He grabs my hand and pulls me out of the room. "Now, come on, you'll be late for your date!"

---

"Derik, this is Ellie Wood," Cecilia introduces me to the girl next to her with a gesture of her hand.

Don't laugh, Derik, don't laugh.

"And Ellie, this is Derik…" The brunette pauses. "I don't know your last name."

"Delaney. I'm Derik Delaney," I greet her with a smile, and extend my hand. The blonde Cecilia brought with her stares at it. I raise an eyebrow. Cecilia shoves the girl forward offensively, and Ellie glares at her. What's wrong with my hands? I washed them before I came.

"He's a nice guy, trust me, Ellie," Cecilia reassures her with a pat to the head. Ellie stares at me disbelievingly, hesitantly reaching out and shaking my hand. "Good! Now that awkward introductions are over, you can all meet my sweetheart! Aint't that right, Rob?!" Cecilia latches onto an emotionless tall blonde man by her side.

"I'm Rob," he says deeply.

"I've gathered that," I say, nodding. Goddamn, he's tall. He even looks taller than Ian, and that's really saying something. If he just wiped that permanent scowl off of his face, then he'd actually be seriously attractive. Especially since he wore glasses. For some reason, I just find guys with glasses sexy. Girls… not so much.

"He's been my sweetheart since high school," Cecilia gushes with the biggest grin possible. Rob smiles a bit, and I think that's going be the most emotion I'll see on his face tonight.

I guess opposites do attract. Cecilia is a mentally ill loud Italian, and this guy is probably a quiet and sensible man. Those are opposites if I ever did see any.

"So is that your car?" Ellie asks me, gesturing outside the window to the hunk of metal parked lopsided. Okay—so I'm a bad driver. Sue me.

"Yeah, it's my car. Why?"

"… No reason." She turns back around, adjusting her dress.

"All right, let's get out table!" Cecilia sings, heading over the to the host. He nods, smiling a most like forced smile, and leads us over to a dimly lit table. It looks fancy. … Too fancy.

"Um, who's paying?" I ask, slipping into my seat. Cecilia automatically points to Rob.

"I am," Rob confirms.

"Hello, and welcome," a waiter says as he stops by our table. "I'm Steven and I'll be your waiter for this evening! May I get you something to drink?"

"No caffeine," Rob tells Cecilia, who pouts in response.

"Does Sprite have caffeine?!" Cecilia then shouts at Steven the waiter, who looks shocked at the extremely loud volume of her voice. Yeah, it shocked me too.

"No, ma'am, it doesn't," Steven the waiter says.

"Then I'll have Sprite. Rob's going to have a Pepsi, Derik will have a Pepsi, and Ellie will have iced tea," Cecilia rattles off everyone's drink. Steven the waiter nods, writing quickly to keep up with Cecilia's speed.

"All right then. I'll be back with your drinks shortly." He walks away, leaving us sitting awkwardly at the table. Even Cecilia's not talking. I guess she's waiting for me to say something.

"So…" I begin. "How old are you?"

"Twenty-five."

"Ah." Either she doesn't like me, or she sucks at making conversation.

"Well…" Cecilia interrupts. "Who wants to play the 'in bed' game?!"

"No," Rob growls. Cecilia sticks her tongue out at him.

"Well, we're going to play, whether you want to or not, Rob."

Even though I've never played the 'in bed' game, it sounds terrible to play on a double date.

"How do you play?" I ask. Ellie rolls her eyes, and rests her chin in her palm, bored. If you knew you were going to be so bored, then why the hell did you agree to this?

"After every sentence, you say, 'in bed'!" Cecilia explains easily. "It's like… I love Rob in bed. See?"

"So it's like the 'if you know what I mean' game?" I question. Cecilia shrugs.

"I guess. So, go on and start."

"All right…" Ellie looks at me. "So what's your job?" After a pause she adds, "in bed."

"I'm a nurse, in bed." I really didn't want to add the 'in bed' part, but it was part of the game.

"A nurse?" she asks.

"A nurse," I repeat. Cecilia coughs, and I roll my eyes. "In bed."

"This game is stupid, Cecilia," Ellie grumbles. Suddenly, my phone buzzes in my pocket.

"One second," I say, and flip it open at the table. What the hell? It's from Cecilia? I turn to look at her, but she's skillfully avoiding my eyes by having them glued to Rob as she jabbers on.

From: Cecilia

Message: Sorry I thought since you were both miserable people you'd get along :D Oh well. I don't like her either. Her campus house is just down the street…

October 3, 18:43 PM.

What kind of fucked up logic is that? If she didn't like her, then why'd she set me up with her? I glare at Cecilia from across the table, who shrugs back apologetically. She's not sad or remorseful in the least—I know that for sure. She's an evil monster. Then again, most girls are.

So much for the Greatest Idea Ever.

I really need to get one of those 'F My Life' shirts.

---

"Well, that was fun!" Cecilia shouts loudly as we exit the restaurant. Fun? No, that was not fun. Cecilia did most of talking, while Rob threw in random comments here and there. I sat there, uncomfortably shifting because the Smarties in my pocket were getting annoying. And Ellie sat there, daintily eating her food and giving me the evil eye. She also kicked me with her damn heels once 'by accident'. Yes, it was totally fun.

Not.

"I'll call you sometime so we can hang out, Derik!" Cecilia says, slinging an arm over my shoulder. "Maybe I could introduce you to a couple of my college friends! Nobody in my sorority is really ugly, you know, except for one girl. And Rob's got a couple hot buddies, if chicks don't really do much for you."

"Uh… no thank you, Cecilia," I grumble politely, subtly unwrapping her arm from around my neck. I turn to Ellie, trying to find a way to reword, 'This date sucked, I hate you, you witch' nicely, but I'm coming up short. She puts a hand on her hip and taps her foot on the sidewalk.

"Okay, well, obviously this didn't work out," she starts. I nod quickly. Thank God she gets we don't click in any way whatsoever. She pinches the bridge of her nose with skinny fingers and sighs. "You're a nice guy and all, but I don't think it would work. Anyway, bye, you guys." She turns and stalks off toward her car. Cecilia elbows me in the ribs.

"Sorry for setting you up on a suck date, Derik," she apologizes, shrugging. "But she's angry at life too, so I thought… You know, a negative multiplied by a negative is a positive!"

"Yeah, in math," I hiss. I can just feel the corner of eye twitching in annoyance. Cecilia exhales loudly, and links arms with a quiet Rob. He must be a saint to willingly date walking stupidity. Rob nods in my direction as a silent good-bye, which I return with a nervous wave. I don't exactly know the guy.

"Arrivederci, Derik! See you later!" Cecilia yells noisily.

"Bye," I mumble. She flashes her freakishly white teeth in my direction as some sort of smile before skipping away with Rob to an expensive looking car. I kick a loose stone as I head over to my car, which completely pales in comparison to rich boy's hot ride. I narrow my eyes in the darkness. From what I can see, there's somebody leaning against my car nonchalantly.

"Hello?" I call as I get closer.

"Derik?" James's distinct voice says back to me.

"Christ, you almost gave me a heart attack," I grouse, shoulders slumping forward in relief. Thank God it wasn't some carjacker. No, it happened to be the next best thing. "So…" I move to lean against my car next to him, stuffing my hands in my coat pockets.

"Seems like we're a trilogy now, huh?" he jokes. I'm not laughing. Why? It's not funny.

"How'd you know I was here?" I ask him. He shrugs. Oh God, I hope he doesn't tell me he was stalking me… That'd be way too creepy.

"You're friend called me and told me you were heading out here tonight," he explains.

"My friend?"

"The tan brunette one, who talks really loudly. Cecilia, isn't it? I used to teach her. She's majoring in American History and Education, you know. She's a girl after my own heart. Anyway, she told me to she was taking you out to dinner." He exhales loudly, rubbing his forearms with his hands. It's silent. I can't think of anything to say to that.

"How've you been?" he murmurs softly.

"Good enough," I say. "And you?"

"I've been…" I can hear him as he takes a deep breath, "lonely. Once I thought about it, it really started to seem like something's missing."

"Don't fuck with me. If this is some sort of joke, it's not funny," I growl. You can never be too sure with love. I trusted him once, then be broke my heart, saying it was 'for my own good'.

"A ten year break is long enough. I split with you because it was illegal. I was married, and I was your teacher. Now…" He turns his head and smiles gently at me. "There's nothing in the way. You're my guilty pleasure, and honestly, I'd really like to indulge."


A/N: WHOA, JAMES, YOU BEAST. Stalker :/ And that crazy Italian had something up her sleeve since the beginning! Read and Review!! WE'RE NEARING THE END!! (Last chapter is next.)