by: hitomikun

"My life is a tragedy…" Maylene despondently murmured to herself as she looked at the people in the room.

Just mere minutes after the principal's secretary had announced that classes were to be suspended for the rest of the day due to unfounded reasons, and she knew the classroom had definitely seen better days.

It was a mess – literally. Chairs were strewn to and fro the room, the black board was filled with all sorts of senseless graffiti by people who have absolutely nothing better to do other than engage themselves in petty things like vandalism. Everyone was talking to everyone else at the same time; it was pretty difficult not to have to shout at each other just so you could hear what the other was saying. Everyone was wreaking havoc in their own carefree little way.

To make a long story short, the scene unfolding in front of her was a classic case set in modern times – it was chaotic on the verge of becoming boring to the point of annoyance. It almost seemed funny.

Almost, but not quite.

Maylene shifted in her seat and placed her forehead on the palm of her hand as she peeked at her classmates in bored fascination.

::Give each of them a stall, something to sell and voila! Come one, come all! Ladies and gentlemen, I, Maylene Gomez, am proud to declare to all of you…my personal pride and joy, the students' flea market, now officially open for business!::

Smirking at the comical mental picture she had painted in her head, Maylene proceeded to dig out her portable CD player from her bag and place the two-way earphone over her ears. She sighed and pressed the play button on the little remote attached to her earphones and positioned herself as comfortably as she could in the limited space of her arm chair. As the intro of Incubus' "Warning" started to play, she closed her eyes and sighed yet again. She offered a silent prayer of thanks to the Powers That Be when the entire ruckus in the room was eventually tuned out by Brandon Boyd's soothing voice. She drummed her fingers along to the beat of the drums in the background while softly singing out the lyrics. When the song was halfway from being done, she felt a tentative tap on her shoulder.

She groaned inwardly as she fought down the urge to beat beyond recognition the person who had dared intrude upon her precious interlude.

::UGH! A little privacy! A LITTLE PRIVACY! Is that too much, I ask of You?!::

She opened her eyes, albeit slowly and reluctantly, and snapped. "What?"

It was Ivan Sutherland.

Her arch nemesis.

::Oh boy. Here we go again. Round one! Arrogant jerk0; Maylene0…and START!::

"What on earth could possibly bring you," she started acerbically, "to this side of the neighborhood?"

He made a 'V' sign with his right hand as his left one scratched his head innocently enough. "I noticed that you were singing 'Warning'," he noted, grinning slightly.



"Can I share your earphones?"

::Am I stuck in an alternate universe or something or is he being nice to me?::

Upon that request, a delicately shaped eyebrow raised itself. She turned off her CD player and eyed her surroundings slowly and carefully, making sure that she was virtually clear of all – if not any – things that have the potential to be part of some totally ingenious and outrageous – not to mention twisted – prank he was about to pull on her.

::Area seems clear enough.::

Peripherally satisfied that she was safe, for the meantime anyway, she looked at him skeptically. "Ookay…What kind of evil scheme do you have underneath your sleeve this time? How do you plan on torturing me this oh, so fine a day? Bubble gum in my hair like in 4th grade? Rubber spider in my blouse? Oh! How about leaving me locked in the boys' changing room during gym class again like last Tuesday?"

Ivan managed to stifle his laughter and failed miserably in trying to put on a look of sheer horror as he placed a hand on his chest theatrically as if he had just been stabbed. "Why, I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing to you…whatever made you think of that? Am I really as perverted, as vile and as foul as you perceive me to be?"

Maylene nodded her head with apt seriousness. "You have no idea," she said, deadpan.

Ivan merely laughed at the jibe against him and took it all in stride. "Come on Gomez," he pleaded. "It's not everyday that I act like this."

Maylene let out an unlady-like smirk. "Yeah, I can tell."

Ivan continued as if he hadn't heard her snide remark. "Besides, I'm bored as hell. There is absolutely nothing left for me to do since they," he said, pointing a finger in the direction of the general public who claim to be 'mature,' "already did everything. And another thing," he added. "I left my MP3 at home and it just so happens that I overheard you singing along to a song that I just so happen to like..."

She looked at him skeptically.

When he received no comment whatsoever, he carried on with his impromptu monologue. "To be honest, I've not felt the urge to humiliate you right in front of these lovely people. God knows I've had my fun torturing you since the day we first met. Sad as I am not to indulge in our usual bickering sessions, which utterly completes my day, mind you, I've come to the conclusion that you and I must indeed become stale mates for the moment due to enigmatic reasons – which I theoretically surmise to be sheer boredom. Agreed?"

When he still wasn't able to draw out any kind of response from her, he raised his right hand as if he were taking an oath and added tiredly. "I promise not to tease you or pull a prank on you for the rest of the day, are you satisfied? And vice versa, ayt? It's just for today, anyway."

"What'll I do to you if you break your word?" she asked him.

He dropped his hand and casually draped an arm across her shoulders. "Have I ever?" he replied with an arrogant smile and a subtle tilt of his head as an act of superiority. "A gentleman always keeps to his word. Truce?"

Maylene remained quiet and recalled all of the 'promises' he had pledged to do to her in all their years of pulling pranks on each other.

::The man has a point…He always does what he says he'll do…::

She gingerly brushed his arm off of her shoulders and glared at him. "Just for today I'm gonna be civil in dealing with you; considering the fact that I'm such a nice person and all," she said nonchalantly. She gestured to the empty seat beside her. "Don't move too much, ayt? The chord isn't that long," she told him. "You better do as I say, Sutherland. If not, I'll have someone steal your underwear from the boys' locker room during gym class and have it on display for the entire student body to see during lunchtime. Got it?"

After listening to her little diatribe, Ivan's shoulders began to shake with uncontrollable hysteria. When he did, however, manage to quiet himself down, he wiped the tears of mirth from the corner of his eyes and looked at Maylene dead in the eye. "How…umm…how shall I say this? Original of you…the old locker room routine." He shuddered with false severity, a tell-tale glint present in his mocking eyes. "Ugh! How utterly juvenile! And here I thought you aimed higher than that…"

::Why I oughta!::

Maylene waved an earphone in the air menacingly. "You know what I mean, Sutherland. I'm doing you a favor here," she reminded him with narrowed eye slits.

That statement gave her the effect she desired.

"Okay, okay!" He sat down beside her and took the earphone she handed out to him. "Thanks."

After a few minutes, the song finally ended. Maylene turned in her seat to face him and asked, "Would you mind if I turn the volume a couple of notches higher?"

"Nah…" he said with a shake of his head to emphasize his reply. "What's the song anyway?"

She smiled blissfully. "My favorite," she replied as she pushed the volume way up to its limit.

He eventually found out what the song was and smiled as he leaned back in his chair. A few seconds of getting into it, he noticed that she was singing along on a high note. He decided to join in on her little spur-of-the-moment concert – which lasted for about 2 and a half minutes; give or take a few.

When the song ended, she turned the volume down and started fidgeting in her seat while stealing a few glances from the person sitting beside her, silently contemplating on what she should do next.

::I know I was sorta rude for snapping at him and for threatening him after our agreed temporary little truce…maybe I should apologize…::

She groaned internally at her last thought.

::ME? Apologize? Why the hell should I? After all the HELL he's put me through since first grade and I have to make the first move? Uh-uh-uh! NEVER! Not in a million years. When hell freezes over, roosters grow teeth, and pigs fly – that'll be the day I apologize to that arrogant pervert and no good free loader of freely given oxygen.::

"Listen," she started hesitantly.

She physically cringed at the sound of her voice and mentally hit her forehead with the palm of her hand.

::Man! Why can't I ever stay true to my word?::

"I'm sorry for snapping at you a while back. I just wanted to–"

Ivan waved a dismissive hand in the air at her futile attempt in apologizing. "It's okay," he told her jovially. "I should be the one doing the apologizing. It was obvious you were happy being by yourself." He pointed a hand at the conspicuously pert people around them. "What with all the commotion they're in and considering the amount of noise - not to mention caffeine - they're engaging themselves in, I thought it'd do me a lot of good to bond with my long-time buddy." He laughed at the cynical look she cast his way at his last statement.

She rolled her eyes and laughed dryly upon hearing the latter.

::Okay, so maybe I was wrong. Maybe he's not really as bad and as annoying as I thought he would be…He's really kinda cute when he's not howling with laughter at having successfully pulled a prank on me..::

Maylene was unable to reprimand herself when Ivan's voice cut through her musings. "I noticed that you're a big Incubus fan," he told her, nodding his head in the direction of her bag covered in the said band's attachable paraphernalia – namely stickers, pins and the like.

"You and everyone else, I think."

::Girl, what are you thinking?! Are you insane? Why on earth are you even sparing the arrogant jerk a thought? He's not worth it. You have way better stuff and people to think about. Like…::

"Are these the real thing or do you buy bootlegs as well?" he asked her.

::The pope! The good old pope! Yeah, he needs to be thought about, ya know? He needs your prayer, your support, your…::

Maylene frowned. ::The pope?!::

Ivan made a peace sign with his hand when he saw the frown that creased Maylene's smooth forehead. "Just asking," he amends. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to."

She realized that Ivan was waiting for an answer to his question and managed a smile. Luckily she still remembered what the question was all about. "A little bit of both, actually."

He grinned in reply.

"What?" she asked him in wonder, her eyes still transfixed on his mouth.

::I wonder how it would feel if I kissed him?::

"I do, too…"

::You do?:: An eyebrow arched. ::Huh?!::

Maylene shook her head.

::Duh! He means the bootlegs, you retard! Quick! Think of a retort!::

"And you had the gall to scrutinize me?" she remarked with false bravado.

::And we're safe! Whoohoo!::

"Couldn't help it," he reasoned lamely.

Maylene dragged her gaze away form his tantalizing lips and berated herself for having thoughts about kissing him.

::Switch the topic! Stay on neutral territory!::

"I just love 'Echo'," she told him. "It's my all-time fave Incubus song. It's the best…Man! I never get tired of hearing it. The lyrics just hit the right–" she stopped in mid-sentence when he suddenly gave back her earphone and get up form his seat without so much as a word in her direction.

::Was it something I said?::

Her eyes followed his every move from across the room and noticed that he carried a guitar case on his way back.

"What's that?" she asked when he plopped down beside her.

"This," he said while unzipping the case and showing her his most prized instrument inside. "Is a guitar."

::I hate it when he's like that…::

She rolled her eyes as she pulled off her earphone and simultaneously stuff her CD player in her bag. "Yeah. I figured as much," she proclaimed in a voice that was dripping with sarcasm. "I've seen one of those things before, ya know? I'm not THAT old that I don't recognize a simple thing such as a guitar…."

Ivan looked at her and pointed at her hair. "Really? By the looks of all the grays you've got stashed in there, I'd say you're about as old as my grams." He burst into laughter at his own pathetic joke.

::OH! He is just sooo cute…NOT! Again with the gray hair thing…Oooh! Why I oughta…::

She bristled not too kindly at the crude comment about her 'highlights'. She could take just about any insult and prank that he could think of to throw her way…but she absolutely detested it whenever someone – Ivan in particular – made cracks about the hereditary silver streaks in her hair.

If only she weren't a girl, she'd beat him up right then and there and not give a twit about being given detention for a month. Heck, make that detention for a whole year!

"Whatever happened to word of honor?" she asked him in mock dismay.

Ivan laughed at her quip as he strummed the strings of his guitar. "You know what they say; old habits die hard."

"Tell me about it…"

Ivan smiled lazily and looked at the guitar in his hands. "Pop quiz! To which celebrity do you think this baby used to belong to?"

Intrigued by the trivia he presented to her, Maylene racked her brain for an answer; unaware that Ivan had stealthily steered the conversation away from her highlights; for his own hide's sake.

Having come up with no one in particular, she shrugged her shoulders. "I know for sure that it's not Elton John since he plays the piano, or Maksim for that matter…so I'm guessing maybe…" She stopped and took a moment to think about the last video she had seen on MTV earlier. "George Michael?"

"WHAT?" he exclaimed, letting out a huge guffaw over her absurd speculation. "Hell NO!"

She cheekily smiled at his reaction. "I thought so…"

Cradling the guitar possessively in his arms, he told her the answer. "Michael Einziger."

Maylene's jaw dropped unceremoniously to her chest and she uttered not a single word for a few seconds.

He waved a hand in front of her face and cupped his mouth with both hands. "Earth to Maylene, earth to Maylene. Do you copy? Over."

"Get out!" she said in a small voice.

Ivan frowned; he thought he heard her say 'fart out'. "Come again?"

"I said get out!" she exclaimed. "No way am I going to believe that you – YOU of all people in the entire planet – have Mike's guitar in your arms!"

"Nobody's asking you to," he told her with an egotistical grin.

She gave him a dubious look. "What'd you do? Win it?"

A look of amusement passed his features. "No, I stole it from Mike during one of their gigs when he wasn't looking," he replied sarcastically. He let out a sigh of exasperation and continued, "Of course I won it! How else would I be able to get my hands on this baby?

"I joined a contest in the net a few months back wherein all I had to do was enumerate all of their songs in their four albums, their complete names, birthdays and what it is that they do in the band and a little bit of the band's history. I emailed it and the rest, as you say, is history. It was that easy. I was chosen and I got the ultimate prize…a guitar...but not just any guitar…Mike's guitar."

"Cool!" Maylene reached out her hands eagerly like an excited kid on Christmas morning. "Can I feel?"

"Uh-uh-uh." He moved the guitar away from her seeking hands. "No can do, I'm afraid…It's practically priceless, you see."

She crossed her arms in front of her and pursed her lips tightly. "Meanie," she sulked.

Ivan ignored her and proceeded to ask her a question. "Tell me if you know this song, ayt?" He looked at her straight in the eye as he strummed the strings of the guitar to a rather familiar tune and Maylene's eyes looked like they could pop right out of their sockets right then and there.

"Oh. My. God!" she declared. "That's 'Echo'!"

He merely smiled up at her as he stopped strumming. "Want to sing?"

"Need you ask?"

"I don't think so…" He positioned himself properly and nodded to her. "At the count of three?"

She leaned closer and said in a breathy voice, "At the count of three."

He tapped the body of his guitar. "A one…a two…a one, two, three go!"

She closed her eyes upon hearing the first few chords of her favorite song being played. She waited for the right cue and took one last deep breath before opening her mouth to sing out the lyrics of the song she knew by heart.

"There's something about the look in your eyes

Something I noticed when the light was just right (ooh)

It reminded me twice that I was alive

And it reminded me that you're so worth the fight (ooh yeah)

My biggest fear will be the rescue of me

Strange how it turns out that way (yeah)

Could you show me dear, something I've not seen?

Something infinitely interesting

Could you show me dear, something I've not seen?

Something infinitely interesting (ohh)

There's something about the way you move

I see your mouth in slow motion when you sing (huh ohh)

More subtle than something someone contrives

Your movements echo that I have seen the real thing (ooh yeah)

Your biggest fear will be the rescue of you

It's strange how it turns out that way (yeah)

Could you show me dear, something I've not seen?

Something infinitely interesting

Could you show me dear, something I've not seen?

Something infinitely interesting"

Maylene finished the last oohs and yeahs of the song before opening her eyes, catching Ivan's gaze focused on her as he continued to strum the strings for the last time.

Feeling just a tad bit uncomfortable under his relentless gaze, she self consciously tucked a strand of her black hair behind an ear and looked down at her desk in an attempt to hide her embarrassment at having caught him looking at her.

They didn't know, however, that their classmates were eyeing the two of them like vultures would a rotting gazelle's carcass lying out in the dessert sun.

When both of them realized that the room had turned eerily quiet all of a sudden, they lifted their heads simultaneously and looked at their classmates.

The whole room suddenly erupted into guffaws as a laughing frenzy took over the students. They started teasing Ivan with Maylene, causing the latter to blush a certain shade of red and the former to pay close attention to the strings of his guitar as if it were the most paramount thing in the world for him to do.

The both of them let the class have their fun and each let out thankful sighs when the people eventually quieted down and went back to minding their own respective businesses.

"You're a good guitarist…" Maylene complimented him a full minute after the class had mellowed down. "You could actually give Mike a run for his money."

Ivan smirked at the comment. "Yeah, and you're the next Christina Aguilera," he replied sardonically.

She shook her head. "No, I'm serious here! You really have a talent."

"That's why I'm in a band…" He replied while looking down at his guitar.

Maylene could discern a slight blush tainting his cheeks and smiled at the little tell tale sign.

::And I thought men these days were incapable of blushing over some compliment.::

"Thanks," he told her quietly a while later. "You're not so bad yourself – at the singing part, I mean."

"I practice a lot," she replied cheekily. "I can tell that you really know the song…you ken?"

He looked up unexpectedly and met her gaze straight on. "What do you think of it?" he asked seriously.

She looked away from his piecing eyes and made a show of pretending to give it much thought (as if she hadn't thought of that question ever since she heard it for the first time) before answering honestly. "It's about finding that someone you truly love and then overcoming all obstacles in order to be with that person. I know, I know. It's a bit on the romantic side of things, but hey! I'm a girl, aren't I?" She finished her explanation with a dreamy sigh and looked back at him with a challenging look. "Now it's my turn to ask you," she told him. "What do you think the whole song is about?"

Ivan opened his mouth and was about to answer her when his cell phone rang and interrupted him. He gave her an apologetic look as he stood up to answer his call.

Maylene shifted uncomfortably in her seat while she glued her eyes on him like a hawk stalking its prey from across the room.

"Sorry that took so long," Ivan apologized a few minutes later as he took his seat beside her. "Seems like my band mates are in deep sh– err, problems."

Maylene chuckled. She had heard of 'Colic', his alternative music playing band, and was accustomed to hearing about them getting in all sorts of trouble from skipping classes to smoking and drinking alcohol in school grounds. But despite the lot of them being troublemakers, they were immensely popular among the students – girls to be more precise. Not only do they partake in almost all of the school functions for musical productions and the like, they get paid while doing it, too.

She looked at her watch. "Don't you have to go, though?" she reminded him.

An eyebrow rose. "You just can't stand the sight of me, can you Gomez?" he joked. He looked at his watch and started to place his precious guitar back in its case. "I'll be leaving in a little bit." He zipped his guitar case close and slung it over his shoulder. "I still have some stuff of my own to deal with before I help them muck up the mess they got themselves into," he told her with not much inflection in his tone. He smiled up at her and gave her a wink. "See ya."

"Ciao," she remarked when he rose to make his way towards the door. "Wait!" she called out as soon as she remembered what she had set herself to ask him.

He turned around and faced her. "Yeah?"

::He's really cute when he's not dead set out on wreaking havoc in my life…::

"You never answered my question…"

"What question?"

"What you think 'Echo' is really about," she reminded him.

At that, Ivan gave her a lazy lopsided grin as he shifted his hold on his guitar. "I think," he started while he leaned his lean body on the door frame. "That it's about finding the person you've been looking for your entire life and how you end up not spending the rest of your life with that person all because of your fears and insecurities...other things considered, of course."

::That was deep…Sad, too…::

When he noticed the dumbstruck look on Maylene's face, he frowned. "What?" he asked defensively.

She shook her head. "Nothing…it's just that I–" she looked away from him and chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully.

"You what?" he prompted.

"I never quite thought about the song like that before…" she told him.

He only smiled sadly as he looked at her with something akin to pain in his eyes. "I have to go." He opened the door and made his way out the door. "See ya."

He paused again and looked at her over his shoulder. He fished out his sunglasses and settled them on the bridge of his nose. "Gomez?"

Maylene could feel her heart thumping wildly at the sound of her name. "Yeah?"

"Be more open-minded, ayt? Dye your hair…it blinds people…" And with a smirk, he turned back and headed out the hall.

"He just had to ruin the moment," she grumbled quietly to herself as he started to walk away even farther.

Frowning at his sudden change of attitude toward her, she wondered, not for the first time, what it was about Ivan Sutherland that never ceases to attract the female species' attention – yours truly included.

"I guess I'll never find out…" she told herself, unconsciously running her hands through her silver highlighted ebony mane.

Twenty minutes after the afternoon's dismissal bell rang, Maylene and Cassie, her best friend, were hanging out at their usual booth at Jerry's, sharing a pepperoni pizza for two and one super duper chocklit milkshake.

"So," Cassie started conversationally. "What's up with you and Ivan?" she asked, her eyebrows wiggling suggestively as she carefully pulled away the cheese-stuffed crust with her thumb and forefinger and delicately discard it on her plate as if were a pair foul-smelling two-weeks old gym socks.

"Nothing." Maylene shrugged her shoulders and took hold of the abandoned crust on her friend's plate and gave it a thoughtful nibble.

A contented sigh could be heard as Cassie started to eat her slice of pepperoni pizza with relish. "Yeah, right!" she remarked sarcastically half a second after swallowing the slice down her throat. "The way you and him were talking, it sure didn't look like nothing to me and the rest of the class…" She looked at her long time best friend and smiled impishly. "You don't' have to hide things from me, May…I'm your friend, ya know?" she told her.

Maylene merely rolled her eyes in exasperation and pushed her plate to the center of the table. "Can we please not talk about this right now?" she begged irritably.

::Oooh, touchy today, aren't we?:: "Why the hell not?" Cassie countered.

"I'm not in the mood for another one of your infamous match-making attempts, Cassandra Aurora Marie Andrews."

Cassie gulped audibly before she sipped daintily from her choklit milkshake.

::Uh-oh…not good. She used my full name…nope, definitely not good…:: A small smile emerged from the corners of Cassie's lips as she made a peace sign with her right hand. "Whatever you say…although I could've sworn that there were sparks flying off from both of your-" she stopped her litany at the funny look that suddenly came across her friend's features. "What's wrong?"

"Can you hear it?"

Cassie pushed her half-eaten pizza tot eh center of the table and strained her ear towards the source of the sound her friend was referring to. A few seconds later, she shook her head. "Can't hear a thing except for Mojo Jojo at the back over there," she said, gesturing a hand towards the dancing monkey and its owner just a couple of booths away from them. "Aside from the usual everyday people chatter, that is," she added as an afterthought.

"Someone's having a gig outside. Must be in the parking lot somewhere," Maylene remarked. "I can't believe you can't hear them!"

Cassie rolled her eyes. "Forgive me for my deafness, your highness…" she retorted good naturedly as she made a sweeping arch with her arm as a courtier in the olden times might do when in the presence of royalty. "So what?" she said in a blasé manner which her friend, unlike other people, had gotten used to – to the point of not berating her for it.

Maylene smiled. "I wanna see who it is…" She fished her hands in both her pockets for half the money needed to pay for their food and placed it on the table. "I gotta go Cassie, ayt?" She got up and headed towards the exit. "I'll call you tonight…"

A blond eyebrow raised itself. "You're just going to leave me here all alone and unprotected just because you hear something I don't that makes you want to go out and listen to someone, who you don't even know by the way, playing music?"

Maylene stopped in her tracks and looked at her friend thoughtfully, stroking her chin as if she were giving the matter her complete and utter consideration before replying, "Something like that, yeah." She got up and rushed out the door and promptly left her friend on the booth. "Ciao!" she called out over her shoulder.

Digging her hand deep inside her bag, Cassie got out her wallet, took the money Maylene had left on the table and proceeded to the counter, her eyes twinkling with humor while shaking her head in disbelief at her friend's actions as of late.

::You'd think she was a sane person just by looking at her…Man! You really can't judge a book by its cover, can you?::

The thought made her shoulders shake as she chuckled quietly to herself.

Making her way slowly towards the parking lot outside of Jerry's, she hummed along to the tune being played (Vertical Horizon's 'Best I Ever Had' Gray Sky Morning). She noticed a stage in the middle of the parking lot and wondered why she'd never heard of a concert being held today.

A sudden gust of wind came out of no where and blew a pink flyer right in her face.

::Thanks a lot.:: she thought sarcastically.

She pulled the flyer away from her face and gave it a quick scan before crumpling it up and discarding it in a nearby trash bin.

::Who cares about a stupid sale on snow caps? Who the hell would buy a freaking snow cap in the middle of July?::

She stopped walking and had a flabbergasted look on her face at the sight of Ivan and his band mates tuning up their equipments at the bottom of the stage.

::Whoa, I certainly didn't expect him to be here.::

She paved a way towards them amidst the throng of people that had gathered to listen to them play. When she was but a few meters away from them, she was on the verge of making her presence known when she heard the band's drummer/back up vocals, also known as Ivan's best friend, Christian, nudge the former on the ribs with an elbow and grin slyly. "So," he said, "what's up with you and Maylene Gomez?"

::Oh man, him, too?:: Maylene cringed. ::Don't these guys ever let up?::

Ivan rolled his eyes and refused to rise to the bait his friend had eloquently placed before him. He ignored him and went on with fine tuning his guitar strings.

But Christian just wouldn't take the hint. "Come on, man. I thought we were buds…"

Maylene smirked and shook her head in disbelief at how alarmingly – not to mention annoyingly – similar Christian was with Cassie.

::Is it possible that the two of them might've been separated at birth?:: she thought with a chuckle.

"I know you've got the hots for blondes…what makes her an exception?"

Ivan let his best friend see his exasperation. "First of all, I do NOT – I repeat, DO NOT - have a thing for blondes. It was just a coincidence that my ex-girlfriends just so happen to be blondes. Second of all, I came here for a gig, not the latest gossip from the grapevine. Can you just cut it out for once, Chris? Get off my back, will ya?"

Maylene looked to the sky and silently mouthed: Amen to that!

Christian opened his mouth to say something more but was interrupted when their manager arrived. "Five minutes left till your performance guys," he reminded them.

All five members of Colic nodded simultaneously and gave out positive grumbles of acknowledgement.

"Thanks, JJ," Ivan said as he strapped on his guitar and take a deep breath. He turned around to face Chris and seriously added, "Let's just leave it at that Chris, ayt? There's nothing to tell. We have a show to run, so if you don't mind?"

"Whatever man," Christian said as he spun his drum sticks with his right hand and wisely decided to lay off the subject.

Their five minutes were up and they finally went up on stage. It was at that time also, that Maylene had moved near the front of the crowd. When the lights focused on the band, the people in front of the stage became ecstatic with glee.

Ivan smiled at the people in front of him and took his time in scanning the sea of faces. He took the mic in his hands and placed a single finger on his lips as a gesture for the crowd to be quiet for a while.

"The song we're gonna do is a bit personal." He paused and nodded his head to his band mates as a signal for them to begin. "It goes out to someone very special to me; it's sounds something like this…"

Maylene found it hard to tear her gaze away from the sight of Ivan on stage. It was the first time she ever saw him perform this close. Looking at him might seem normal to any other person in the parking lot yet to her, it meant something more. So much more.

She shook her head.

::It seems normal yet it means something more? Where the hell did I get that from? I've been reading too much crap these past few days…Gotta lay off on those…::

She noticed the crowd simultaneously turn their heads – from the corner of her eye – from Ivan on stage to a person standing in the front row.

Luckily, Maylene wasn't too far away to miss seeing what all the commotion was all about. She stood on her tiptoes to take a peek at the one with all the limelight.

It was Paris Oswald. All around Miss Popular and Campus Celebrity.

Aside form that, she was also known to have one helluva crush on Ivan to the point of almost becoming his very own friendly(?) neighborhood stalker.

::Need I wonder why she's here?: she thought irritably.

Maylene's lips curled in disgust at how Miss Popular was blushing to her toes upon hearing the catcalls and whistles she was getting – as if she hasn't gotten used to getting them since the day she was born.

::The two of them are made for each other. Little Miss Popular with the school's most sought after student/bachelor. Sigh! What a sight they'd make….::

She settled both of her feet on the ground and looked at the stage forlornly.

::Have I done something in my past life to deserve this kind of cruel treatment concerning my love life?!:: she thought angrily. She let her gaze sweep over the haze of faces all around her and sighed.

::And why does it have to be Ivan Sutherland of all people? I could've fallen for Andrew the Nerd, Jason the Jerk; hell, Even Risk the prick…but NO! NO! Fate just had to give me my own worst enemy to fall in love with.. I never even saw it coming.::

She transferred her gaze heavenward as if to say: I hope you're happy!

"Coz I'm sure as hell not jumping up and down with joy," she whispered quietly. She diverted her attention again and looked up at the stage. She sucked in a breath when her eyes came in contact with cerulean ones.

Cerulean ones that belonged to Ivan.

Ivan continued to hold her gaze as a lopsided smile slowly but surely emerged from the corner of his lips.

She shook her head. ::I am way too high on caffeine.::

A strong gust of wind stung her eyes and she closed them for a moment, only to have her sense of hearing catch hold of something that was heart-stoppingly familiar.

Her eyes opened immediately when she realized what song Ivan had referred to a while back.

A song he dedicated to a very special person.

The look Maylene saw in his eyes as he continued to hold her gaze left no room for any more of her doubts.




It was the same song they both had listened to hours ago.

Its lyrics echoed throughout the entire parking lot..

It echoed in her heart and his heart as well.

It was her song.

::No, that's not right:: she thought as she smiled fondly.

::At least not anymore.::

Maylene found herself smiling into Ivan's eyes.

It wasn't just her song.

It was their song.

And it echoes still.

- Fin -

Rough drafts were started on:

Monday, October 18, 2004 5:47 PM

Plot was finished on:

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 4:44 PM

Last of the series of revisions were done on:

January 18, 2005 6:36 PM