Word from Fido: Well, mates, this is it. The final chapter. I'd like to thank all of you who stuck around since the beginning, three years ago. I'd also like to thank all of you who just joined the bandwagon. I've enjoyed reading each comment, and have felt my heart swell along with the traffic bar every time I uploaded. Thank you all. For those of you who are eager for more Maddie and Martin, have no fear. Just know that almost everything I upload with this profile is happening in their universe. So, chances are you'll definitely see them again! I'm currently working on a short story featuring Kate (Annabelle's friend from the New Year's chapter). You haven't seen the last of these characters! See you guys soon!
With all my love,
WHEN THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO SAY
There's a town, up in Northern Ontario, maybe a few hours from Sudbury, called Little Blocks. It's not a very exciting town, not for its inhabitants or the rare tourists that pass by it on their way to greater adventures. Even the unimpressed tourists, however, would be forced to admit that Little Blocks was rather charming in the snowy morning.
The tourists might have been impressed by the form of a girl riding her bike through the wet roads of the town. Had one of them asked her why she was determinedly pedalling in the cold weather, they would have been rewarded by a dazzling smile and the newfound knowledge that she was upholding a bet.
Also wandering the streets of Little Blocks on that January morning was a boy. Tall, square-shouldered, and equipped with a frightening chin that promised trouble, none of the tourists would have dared stop to ask him any questions. They might, however, have offered a small wave to the little girl running ahead of him. Her dark eyes sparkled with easy joy and her giggles balanced out the boy's apparent glumness.
Then again, tourists didn't know him, and they didn't know that he had never been happier.
The girl on the bike and the intimidating boy knew each other. They didn't really have a choice: they lived across each other and though they were completely different people, they did many of the same things on that morning.
Both had kissed their mothers for making them breakfast. Both had wolfed down the food with unbridled hunger. Both called their fathers, one to make sure he was coming to her birthday dinner that night and the other to make sure he and his sister could still visit on the weekend. Both looked out the window in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the other.
When the girl got on her newly fixed bike to go to school, it was to prove a point. When the boy offered to walk his sister to school instead of taking the bus, it was because he could.
He didn't really say much on his walk, preferring to silently keep an eye on the playful little girl. She had enough to say for the both of them, going on about a horse named Muffins. Logically, her next thoughts were about cake and she was happy to discuss those with her noncommittal brother.
"It's Maddie's birthday today," she said. He grunted. "We're going to her house for cake, right?"
"After school, yeah."
"Are there going to be lots of people?"
"Only those she loves the most."
He grunted again, but a flash of white revealed that he was indulging in a rare grin. Oh, it wasn't an impressive smile, it was a blink-and-miss-it smile, but the little girl noticed and she hastened to imitate him.
The biking girl had started off her trek with a similar smirk, probably already tasting the winnings of her bet. It wasn't long before it wilted and she realized that it had probably been a stupid idea. Riding her bike in the fall had caused it to break in the first place, though she had conveniently forgotten that over the weeks, and she was starting to wonder if she was going to get to her destination without harm. She pedalled on nonetheless. Whatever her prize was going to be for winning the bet, it was apparently worth the risk and the odd looks she received.
The boy received the hug from his little sister before she went inside her school with a grumble. He tousled her hair and quietly chuckled to her indignant pout. At her request, he waved until she was safely inside. Then he noticed the giant clock on the school wall, swore under his breath, rolled his eyes, and ran.
The girl was panting heavily by the time she got to Little Blocks High School. Her climb off of the bike was comically ungraceful and she muttered under her breath the whole while. Childishly, she kicked at it to get the snow off of the wheels and wrestled it indoors. Once again, she seemed immune to the curious glances sent her way as she trotted down the halls.
"Maddie-chan!" A tall asian girl – made only taller by the baffling mohawk on her head – ran up to her. Not even sparing a look towards the bike, she wrapped her smaller friend into a hazardous hug. "Tanjoubi omedetou!"
"Thank, Kyoko," she laughed. "Now, let me go. You're crushing me."
Another girl came up, her blonde hair tumbling regally down her shoulders. Though her eyes sparkled with witty delight, her smile was controlled to convey exactly how happy she was.
"Happy birthday," she offered, gently pushing the asian girl aside to give Maddie her own hug.
The blonde then shifted her attention to the bike. Her teeth appeared when she smirked. The black-haired girl mimicked her with mischievous mirth.
"You actually fixed it," Becca shook her head gently. "How did you manage to fix it? Martin was bragging all of yesterday that it was impossible."
Maddie's smile was proud and victorious. "My dad used to work at a bike shop in Toronto, when he was my age."
"What are the odds?" Kyo guffawed heartily, startling a group of freshmen walking by.
"I know, right? I think this was divine intervention. God wants me to win and rub it in Jones's face."
Kyo agreed with forceful enthusiasm while Becca rolled her eyes to the sky, as though apologizing for her friends' idiotic claims.
"So, any of you seen him?" Maddie asked.
"Nope. Can we go set up an ambush at his locker? Onegai?"
The three girls headed towards their goal together, trailing the bike along with them, two of them plotting deliciously.
The boy was panting heavily by the time he made it to Little Blocks High School. He removed his Batman toque and wiped his brow, knocking his boots together to get rid of the snow before he went inside. Nobody really looked at him, and he didn't bother acknowledging any of them. When he moved forward, though, people got out of the way. No one wanted to have those scary, dark eyes directed at them.
When he did offer a wave to someone, it was to a group of boisterous boys. They practically cheered when they saw him and, despite his displeased grimace, he clapped them on the back. The smaller of the boys smirked obnoxiously.
"Martin, guess who we saw walking around with a bike this morning?"
Dark eyes widened with dismayed surprise. "You're kidding. Please tell me you're shitting me."
Another guy cackled. "Charles ain't kidding, man. Your girlfriend totally rode her bike to school. I bet she's waiting at your locker right now, ready to parade your balls around for everyone to see."
"Johnny, I will make you swallow your balls if you open your stupid mouth one more time."
They laughed at the fuming boy's expense. He turned his back on them and stomped away with angry dignity. His friends followed him.
"What are you doing?" he seethed.
"Oh, we're not missing this for the world," Charles answered for all of them.
They passed by a leggy blonde who winced sympathetically at him. He nodded at the one girl who was probably as annoyed as he was by the whole situation. Then a horn squawked, gathering the attention of everyone in the hall.
"Oh boy," he muttered.
"Martin Jones!" Maddie intoned, projecting her voice so everyone could hear. "A few weeks ago, you erroneously suggested that there was no way anyone could fix my damaged bicycle. Do you recall that conversation?"
"You're being dramatic again," he droned.
"I call Kyoko Hiragawa to the witness stand," she continued with flair. The mohawked girl made a show out of moving up to an invisible microphone, winking saucily at Charles who clapped heartily. "Miss Hiragawa, do you recognize this particular wheeled contraption?"
"Yes. I've seen it many times before."
"Do you know who it belongs to?"
"Yes." Kyoko took a deep breath. "Madeleine De-La-Tour."
The blue-eyed girl raised her hands and the small crowd took their cue to gasp collectively. Martin slapped Johnny behind the head.
"Thank you, miss Hiragawa. I would now like to call Rebecca Feller to deliver a very touching testimony on the..."
"Don't worry, Miss Feller. I'm sure your speech is quite fine. There's no need to be nervous."
The blonde looked to her fellow schoolmates with wide, frightened eyes. Martin groaned, rolled his eyes once more and stepped forward.
"Madeleine, cut it out," he said. "You've made your point."
"Excuse me, Mister Jones, but I didn't quite hear you."
The hallways buzzed with amusement. Martin glared at Madeleine, who was quite content with an arrogant simper. Dark eyes met sparkling orbs. He rolled his eyes – a third time for the charm – and raised his chin.
"I confess," he said. Madeleine quickly raised her hands and the crowd gasped. "I confess to placing a bet under the stipulation that she," he pointed accusingly for effect, "would be too incompetent to accomplish a manual task."
"A fair stipulation, if you ask me," the leggy blonde murmured.
"A foolish stipulation, if you ask anyone else," Madeleine declared. She cleared her throat and assumed the most serious expression she could. "Martin Jones, you admit to the bet?"
He glared around him, daring anyone to laugh. "I do."
"In face of the evidence – I bring your attention to exhibit A, my bike – do you admit that you have lost the bet?"
"Do you also admit to secretly finding my penchant for dramatics endearing?"
"Don't push it."
"Fine." She clapped into her hands twice. "Martin Jones, in front of the court and everyone else, do you concede that I, Madeleine De-La-Tour, win?"
He let the silence stretch, the suspense building. Finally: "Of course. You always win."
"Case closed!" she shouted, and everyone cheered.
The bell rang and slowly the crowd trickled to class. The girl sauntered to the boy, clearly pleased by the spectacle. He pretended to frown and she laughed.
"Happy birthday," he grumbled.
She beamed. "Thanks for playing along."
He snorted. "Do I get a reward?" was the sarcastic reply.
"Give him a trophy!" Kyoko suggested.
"We can engrave it with 'whipped'," Charles said.
Madeleine's smirk slowly bled into a shy smile. He quirked an eyebrow curiously. With a quick look to their friends, she leaned in.
"What's your opinion on public displays of affection?" she whispered.
He answered her by swooping down and capturing her lips in a short kiss. Catcalls whistled out around them and the boy flipped them off.
"Hey," he said, "this rule we have about hand-holding and hugging?"
"Totally doesn't apply to this," she hurried to say.
"Thank God," he breathed and kissed her again.
She broke away and twirled her finger in circles, indicating he should turn around. His jaw dropped slowly, incredulously.
Her smile could have shamed the sun. "Duh. I won the bet, I'm riding you to class. And that's not what I meant and you know it!" she shouted the last sentence to a snickering Kyoko and Charles.
Martin contemplated the blushing girl and allowed himself to curl his lips. He turned around, offering his back to the girl. With a delighted squeal, she put her hands on his shoulder and jumped on. He gripped the back of her thighs and pretended not to notice her surprised gasp.
"We're going to Bordeaux's class, right?" he asked.
"Yep, we're presenting the songs. Wait, don't move, I need to immortalize this."
He didn't budge as Madeleine adjusted herself so she could pose on top of him while Kyoko snapped a picture with her cell phone. When the phone was safely tucked away, she kicked her heels into his sides.
"No," he responded automatically to the nickname though he also began to walk.
"No." He made it a point to eye-murder anyone that looked in their direction.
"I'm sure there's a reason I like you, but I can't seem to remember it right now."
She pressed a kiss to his temple. He kicked out behind him when Charles made a whipping noise.
"Why are you even following us? You don't have music or english."
"There's no way I'm missing you singing some sappy love song to our birthday girl."
Even Rebecca giggled at that, and the boy slumped until Madeleine tickled that hair at the base of his neck. The other boys broke away until the five friends remained. They made it to class just before the bell, drawing the stupefied attention of the two teachers and the majority of the class.
"Maddie," the woman with bulgy eyes said, "I'm afraid Martin is not an appropriate mode of transportation. Please get off and take a seat."
Beaming brilliantly, the girl squeezed his shoulders as thanks before hopping off. The informal atmosphere in the class allowed the five friends to push two desks together and gather chairs around them.
"Charles," the other woman called, "do I need to remind you that you shouldn't be here?"
"I promise I'll be good, Madam Bordeaux. I just wanted to see what you've managed to teach this inarticulate primate."
Martin kicked him under the desk, Kyoko coughed out 'brown nose', but the teachers turned a blind eye to his presence, as they had always done.
"Alright, who wants go first?"
Within the blink of an eye, Kyoko and Madeleine both had hands in the air, waving frantically. Rebecca and Martin shared a look of mutual suffering.
"Kyoko, go right ahead. Maddie, you're next."
The mohawked girl hooted and sauntered to one of the stools at the front of the class, picking up the guitar there and dragging the strap over her head.
"Come on, Becca-chan!" she urged.
"I am not going up there to sing a song about a cartoon."
The teacher with the bulgy eyes cooed sympathetically. "Don't worry, Rebecca. You're not evaluated on the presentation. This is just for fun, to show off what you've accomplished."
"Public humiliation isn't fun," the blonde said in a dead voice.
Despite her reticence, she joined her partner at the front. The class clapped to encourage them as she sat on the stool, toying with the sleeves of her shirt.
"So," Kyoko started with shameless excitement. "This is our song. We were deeply inspired by the depth of the character we saw on-"
"It's called Ode to a Sakura," Rebecca interrupted her. "Kyo, if we don't get this over it now I am never speaking to you again."
Ever laughing, the asian girl counted to four and they shambled their way through the song to general hilarity.
"And may your forehead cease to grow, but your flamingo hair through the wind flow," they sang.
"Oh, God," Madeleine couldn't stop laughing. "This is gold."
The applause afterwards was thunderous. Kyoko linked her arm through the distraught Rebecca's and forced the smaller girl into a bow again and again. The teachers looked at each other, for once their eyes bugging out in the same manner.
"Thank you, Kyoko, Rebecca, that was... memorable," Mme Bordeaux said. "Kyoko, I am impressed you managed to stay focused for so long. Rebecca... your patience is astounding."
"I feel insulted," the tall girl turned to her friend. "Should I be insulted?"
"No. Now, for God's sake, let me go sit down so I can die."
There was more clapping as the girls returned to the desks. Charles offered a high five to the asian girl, who happily smacked into his hand.
"Our turn!" Madeleine shot up and practically ran to the front of the class.
She sat on the stool and, when she realized she was still alone, glared at her partner. He rolled his eyes and joined her amongst the cheering and the wolf whistles. The guitar found its way around his shoulder and he sat down as well.
"So, this is our song," the girl grinned winningly to the class. "And... I guess the lyrics speak for themselves."
The boy began to pick through the strings, arpeggios reaching out with their simpleness. He played his introduction, slowly and methodically bringing a cozy atmosphere to the room.
He paused, holding the final note of the intro. Slyly, he glanced at his partner. She was already looking at him.
"Ma'am?" he said.
"Yes, Martin?" The teacher's voice seemed rather displeased at the interruption.
"You said we weren't graded for the performance, right?"
"That's right. Now please go on with your song."
The boy winked to his partner, who was already smirking mischievously.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"You wanna know what I think?" she asked clearly.
He slapped at the lowest string twice. "Yeah."
She bared her teeth in challenge. "I think you're a jerk."
He slapped the lowest string again. "You're a freak."
"You're the most obnoxious person I've ever had the misfortune of meeting."
"Like you can even spell obnoxious."
"I hate you."
"I hate you more."
He slapped at the string a final time, struck out a chord, and they froze. Looking at each other, eager smiles splitting both their faces, they mentally counted to four. Then they sang out:
"I hate your guts!"
He broke into a much more aggressive intro, bobbing his head to keep the beat. The teacher with the bulgy eyes looked slightly distraught. The other one simply palmed her face.
"I hate the way you walk like you own the place."
"I hate the way you talk, I just hate your face."
Kyoko cheered wildly, along with another girl that had an inordinate amount of piercings and a blue streak in her hair.
"Go away, don't speak to me."
"Please, Lord, kill me."
"I'd rather die than spend another second next to you."
Rebecca was laughing, though her hand came up to hide her mirth. Charles whistled at every break between verses. The whole class clapped when the chorus kicked in.
The boy and the girl stared at each other the whole time. The corner of their mouths crinkled with amusement. They moved and every insult thrown was met with laughing eyes.
"Oh! I hate you so much!"
Later, when the teachers would ask them why they didn't play the slower, much more appropriate version of the song they had wrote, they would both shrug.
The truth was, it was their song, their words. They had spent eight years putting on a great performance for everyone around them. Now that the words meant something, they were worth too much to share with others.
The truth was, there was a fine line between hate and love, a fine line between anger and concern, between being a pain in the ass and caring more than one should. That line was passion, and everyone could see that it was a mile thick between the two of them.
Nobody believed that they hated each other anymore, if they had ever believed it to begin with. Chances were, however, that nobody believed that they cared for each other as much as they did. Singing 'The Song' would have revealed that.
The Song was theirs.
"Oh! I hate you!"
It was their little secret.