"Hey, Princess?" Derek called from the living room, as he finished his arriving home ritual and left his hockey apparel by the front door.
Casey heard the characteristic thud of the bag hitting the hardwood floor from the kitchen and rolled her eyes. "Derek, pick up after yourself!"
"Sure will." He said, uncommittedly, and turned on the television. "Let's go out tonight, yeah?"
"Go out? Where?" She asked.
He pops up from the living room and grinned at her as he leaned against your doorframe, taking in the wonderful sight of his girlfriend.
"Y'know, somewhere nice." He says, simply, and hugs her from behind, kissing the crown of her head.
Casey turns around to face Derek and shots him a slightly dubious look, thinking about the pot cooking at the stove.
Now that the two of them were out of Queens and moving along their respective careers, Casey was finding that Derek was getting more and more eager to go out to "somewhere nice" and do extravagant things and buy her assorted trinkets and gifts.
Gone was the cheap Derek. The last time they went out, Casey had mentioned that she did not have anything nice enough for the fancy restaurant he had wanted to go, on the advice of someone from his team, in all likelihood, he had gone out and bought her a new designer dress. With a matching purse.
This was all coming from the man who had celebrated their first anniversary, when they were juniors at college, by buying a dozen discount tacos at a restaurant close to their dorms and sneaking into a park at night to go stargazing. It had been absolutely lovely, to be sure, and she had been perfectly happy without a gift, despite whatever anyone had to say about it.
So, all this sudden influx of gifts was news to Casey, to say the least. "Are you sure? We went out a few nights ago. We can stay in if you'd like, and I'm cooking dinner already. I like that just as much, you know."
Derek swatted the idea, all in the while his eyes and smile were beaming at his girlfriend. He was so happy that he could finally give her the sort of princess treatment that she deserved. He was a whipped man and wore the title with pride.
Sure, Casey had said that she was very happy when the two of them were at Queens, by when he had not been able to spoil her rotten, and he did believe her well enough, but, dammit, he was making good money now and he was going to treat her like the royalty he always called her.
"I'm sure. We can eat what you're making for lunch tomorrow, and you don't need to change. You're fine as is!" He motioned at her sweater and jeans, "I was thinking of that pub? Close to that lecturing hall you attended Psych? Though I've got a surprise for you after."
Of course, Casey remembered the one. They went there for their second or third date, and then often during college afterwards, as it was cheap, close to the dorms and had a really nice atmosphere.
"Der, you really don't have to give me a surprise…"
He cut her off. "I want to. I want to do this stuff. Never got to when we first started dating, and even when I made a little money when I got drafted, I had to save up and could hardly buy you beer. I want to spoil you."
Casey could feel her cheeks heat up and looked away from him for a moment, quite embarrassed by his little speech. The sentiment was rather sweet, though it did leave her with a small concern.
One of the biggest reasons Casey had been just fine with Derek being unable to buy her any gifts when they were in school was because she did not have any money either. Now that the two of them were out, she was making some money, she had a job she loved at an indie book editor, and it paid well enough. She was able to afford her share of the rent of the apartment they lived together, and that was nice enough. She had enough left over to save up in case of emergencies or for the future. She even had a little to ensure that you could get Derek nice gifts at special occasions.
Not this often though.
It felt rather odd being unable to reciprocate everything he was giving her, but, at the same time, it was hard keeping up with a hockey player's salary with an English degree.
"Are you alright, Case?" He looked in inquiry at her.
She looked back at Derek and smiled. "I'm fine. A pub sounds wonderful."
By the end of the night she was feeling quite happy and, to be honest, a tad drunk.
Casey's legs were laid over Derek's as the two of cuddled close in the booth, giggling at some joke he'd said. She pressed a kiss to his cheek and laughed again as his face flushed. "You're wonderful Der, you know that, right?"
He nuzzled into her hair, chuckling softly at her slurred words. "Well, it's always nice to hear. You want your surprise now?"
She took Derek's hand in hers and played with his fingers, smiling softly at them. "I love you very much."
His brows furrowed in confusion, as he trailed his hand up and down her back, fingertips tracing her spine. "I know. I love you too."
"I don't need all this stuff, you know." When he tried to speak, she shook her head. "No, I gotta say it. You've always been the best boyfriend I could ever imagine. That I honestly thought you'd ever be. You're really thoughtful and you always make sure that you talk to me about your things. It's wonderful. I just don't want you to think that I need all this stuff, you know? If you want to do it that's one thing, but I don't want you to think that I've gotta have all this time out or all these gifts. I'm here for you. Just you, alright?"
The smile on Derek's face was rather wide, as he looked down at her in adoration. He pressed a kiss to her earlobe. "You're the most amazing person in the world, you know?"
Casey winked at him. "It's always nice to hear."
His arms snaked around her and he gave her a soft squeeze. "I do like spoiling you, though. You look awfully sexy when you get surprised."
At that Casey giggled once more and finished off her glass of wine. "As long as you let me spoil you back, okay?"
There were, indeed, things she could do that she liked doing for him. Making him coffee early in the morning, playing with his hair when he fell asleep on her lap on the couch, cheering him on a game or bringing dinner after a grueling practice or bad defeat, for one. That was something she was perfectly happy to do, and he was more than glad to have.
He kissed her neck and said against her skin, "I love you so much."
"I love you too."