A/N: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed for this story. I'm glad you have all liked this story, and I'm sorry to say that this is the last chapter. I hope you like what I have done with the ending!
I had burst out On the Hook faster than you could say 'fried fish'. It was true, Chase was gone.
I watched as the ferry turned into a miniscule dot floating atop the glossy blue sea, and I knew what I was going to do. I was going to follow him…eventually. I couldn't just go across the sea and beg him to come home. What argument could I make? What deal could I offer? I still needed time to think of the one question that was eating away at my insides:
Was I ready to ask him to move in with me?
I trembled at the thought. I had never really committed to anything in my life. Maybe it was time I did so.
In the mean time, I had to think of anything and everything that I could do to get Chase back. And the only way I could think of doing that was by securing him a job. But how…?
"You know, I have an idea."
I jumped a little, surprised to hear someone else's voice behind me. I whirled around to see Toby, looking lackadaisical with his hands in his pockets. I frowned.
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, you were talking to yourself. Saying you needed to get a job for Chase…"
Wow, had I really gone that insane? I was talking to myself aloud, and I didn't even notice.
"Oh. That's… embarrassing." I admitted as I stared down at my scuffed shoes, "Um, what's your idea?"
"You could get that guy fired."
"You know, that guy. What's his name…? John Claw or something weird."
"Jean-Claude?" I asked, feeling a sense of enlightenment run through my veins. Why hadn't I thought of this before?
"Yeah! Him. Rumor has it that he's got quite the temper." Toby replied thoughtfully, biting his bottom lip. I could feel my eyes light up as he continued to talk, "If you could somehow get him to freak out on someone, he'd be gone in an instant."
"Wow, you are… a genius!" I exclaimed, jumping up and down in excitement. He grinned lopsidedly.
"Heh. Thanks. You know, I might take a lot of naps, but I really do pay attention to stuff." He commented, scratching the back of his silvery head of hair. I smiled.
"Thank you. So much!" I exclaimed, clearly too ecstatic to register the fact that Toby and I were having a civil conversation. But that didn't really matter, "I have to go… thanks again."
"Not a problem." He replied, nodding in my direction before shoving his hands in his pockets and heading back towards On the Hook. Hurriedly, I walked towards the Sundae Inn. I couldn't wait one moment.
A sugary, fresh smell filled my nostrils as I entered the Inn. It was tantalizing enough to cause my mouth to water uncontrollably. What was that heavenly scent?
"'Ello, mademoiselle. Cahr to try my petit éclairs? They auh magnifique!"
My taste buds and my brain were battling over his inquiry. Oh, Goddess, they smelled so good!
Timidly, I sat at the counter as he slid a cream-colored pastry onto a plate and set it down before me. I was practically drooling. He made a disgusted face at me as he handed me a napkin.
As I took a bite of the divine pastry, I took a second to look around me. There had to be something in here that could spark an idea on how to flare his temper. That's when my eyes rested upon Mayor Hamilton as he greedily munched on a sandwich the size of his face. Bingo.
Who better to piss off the French guy than Mayor Hamilton? He could ban him from the town, if he wanted to! As I polished off the rest of the éclair, I looked at Jean-Claude slyly as I devised a quick dialogue in my head.
"So," I began in a low voice as he whirled around, "I have a bit of information you might want to know."
"Um, you see Mayor Hamilton over there?" I asked, pointing past my shoulder. He nodded thoughtfully. "Well, um… he thinks your pants are too tight."
Wow. Really? Was that the best I could come up with?
"Er… yes! He thinks it's revolting!" I replied in a sure voice. He narrowed his dark brown eyes and pinched his mustache attentively.
"Vhat does he know abot fashione?" He asked in an accusing tone, staring the mayor up and down with an angry expression. I shrugged.
"Just telling you what I've heard. I have to leave now. Goodbye!" I exclaimed as I slammed down a few coins to pay. I grinned to myself as I headed back towards my house. Sure, it wasn't the brightest idea, but at least it was something. Now, to take it to the next level.
The next morning, I strolled into the Sundae Inn to find the Mayor there, once again. Jeez, did he ever leave that place?
"Hello!" I greeted him with a fake smile. He wiped his mouth of crumbs and waved me over to his table.
"Hi, Angela! How are you?" He asked, licking morsels off of his pudgy fingers. Yuck.
"I'm fine, but I'm a little troubled…" I said, pretending to seem worried about something.
"Oh, is it about Chase? I'm sorry to hear he left. I know you two were good friends." He commented, taking a sip of herbal tea. I shook my head.
"Well, no, it's not about that." I replied, twiddling my thumbs thoughtfully, "It's about… the new chef."
He took a peek behind his mountainous shoulders and stared at the French man, who was humming an unknown tune snootily as he popped something into the oven.
"What about him?"
"Well… agh, this is going to sound silly." I said, trying to feign embarrassment. Hamilton clicked his tongue at me.
"Nonsense! What's on your mind?"
"It's… well, it's his pants."
"Yes! They're… well, they're awfully tight. And I'm not the only person who thinks this. I think that, for the civility of the town, of course, he should have a slight change in wardrobe. I mean, you can practically see… um, er…"
"His… you know."
"I'm afraid I don't."
Ugh! Why did Hamilton have to be so oblivious sometimes? Desperately, I tried to motion with my hands, but that was definitely not working. Feeling incredibly awkward, I sighed.
"Oh! You mean…" Mayor Hamilton began, squinting his eyes in disgust. I nodded, "You mean his behind? Disgusting!"
I slapped my forehead in exasperation, but nodded nonetheless.
"Sure. His 'behind'. Anyways, I think it's rather disgusting, but I can't tell him! Could you do it for me?" I asked urgently, clasping my hands together. Hamilton frowned a bit.
"I guess I could do that. Only for you, Angela! But not right now. I have to get back to work! I must have lost track of the time. I'll be back this afternoon. Goodbye, now!"
I waved goodbye to him as he hastily stood, bumping the table with his belly in the process. As he waddled out the door, I smiled triumphantly to myself. Sneakily, I headed towards the counter of the bar and tapped on the counter.
"Vhat ees eet, mademoiselle?" Jean-Claude asked, slinging a dishtowel over his slender shoulder.
"Mayor Hamilton was talking about you again! Saying that he wants to order that you get new pants, or something." I said quietly, feeling sort of bad that I was exploiting the mayor like that. But this had to be done!
"Ugh! I weel teach him a thing or deux abot messing with moi!" He exclaimed, wringing the dishtowel in his hands angrily. I snickered to myself. He looked so funny when he was mad! His mustache twitched and his dark-brown eyes grew even darker. I wish I could take a picture of it.
"Well, I have to leave now. Goodbye!" I called, trying not to seem happy. He waved half-heartedly before going back to washing a dish.
In a fit of joy, I decided to head over to On the Hook to see if Toby wanted to see the little show. I had decided earlier that I would turn over a new leaf with Toby. I mean, if he had been gracious enough to give me that brilliant idea, than I should be gracious enough to forgive him, right?
After telling Toby all about the plan (and receiving from weird looks from Ozzie), we decided to go to the Sundae Inn together that afternoon to view the show firsthand.
At around three in the afternoon, we walked towards the Inn excitedly, hoping that Jean-Claude would blow up like Toby said he would. We entered just as Hamilton was approaching the counter with a determined look on his face. When he spotted me, he grinned and nodded, mouthing some words that I couldn't decipher.
Toby and I sat down at a table and pretended like we were staring at a menu. I heard Hamilton's timid voice first.
"Um, hello there." He greeted, criss-crossing his fingers together. Jean-Claude grunted at him, not bothering to say 'hello' back.
"So, um, it has come to my attention that… er, well… I think your pants need to be a little more 'work appropriate'. Do you understand?" He asked, talking slowly as if he was speaking to a five-year-old who only spoke Swahili. For the second time that day, I slapped my forehead. He was French, not illiterate!
"Vhat?" Jean-Claude asked loudly as a crease formed between his eyes. Hamilton gulped.
"Well, no one wants to see… that when they're eating lunch."
Simultaneously, Toby and I burst into giggles that we desperately tried to hide. They didn't seem to notice.
"See vhat? Dees ees my culture! You auh insulting!"
Hamilton frowned as he twiddled his thumbs together.
"I understand that it is what is considered 'fashionable' in your culture, but-"
"You cannot tell me vhat to weer, monsieur!" He exclaimed, slamming his spatula down on the table.
"But all I'm asking is for a tiny little change. It's not like you need those to do your job. You could fry food without those pants." Hamilton said calmly. Toby and I were on the edge of our seats as Jean-Claude clenched his fists at his sides.
"I weel fry your fahce if you don't geet out!"
"Excuse me?" Came a low, tremendous voice from the top of the stairs. There stood Jake, frowning down at the scene. Toby and I high-fived under the table.
"That's a threat, you know." Jake bellowed as his face tightened uncomfortably, "I'm going to have to fire you for that."
I wanted to squeal, but I kept it at bay. Jean-Claude's face dropped significantly as Hamilton pounded his fists on the counter.
"And you're leaving my town, too!" He exclaimed in a fit of anger. Mission accomplished! Silently, we snuck out the door of the Inn.
"That was hilarious!" Toby exclaimed, chuckling a little as he did so. I nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, especially the look on his face! Priceless!" I exclaimed, clutching my stomach. When I calmed down, I looked up at Toby and smiled, "Thanks again for the idea. I'm going to head out tomorrow to get Chase. I'll see you later, okay?"
He nodded and we said our goodbyes. Happily, I bounced back to my home, anxious to see the look on Chase's face when I told him the news.
Oh, if only life was that simple.
The next morning, I went to the Inn to grab some breakfast before leaving. But of course, I had other intentions.
"So… Jake, if I were to tell you I could get Chase to come back, would you hire him?" I asked nonchalantly as I sipped some herbal tea. Jake narrowed his eyes.
"I hate to break it to you, but I've already hired Maya. She said she wanted to become more, er, independent, so I gave her the job and she's moving into her own place. Chase's old house, actually."
"What?" I exclaimed, feeling my whole world crashing down on me. Jake nodded as he scrubbed a dish. How could he hire Maya? Sure, she's his daughter, but she's possibly the worst cook in this town! I glowered at him.
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry it was such short notice."
I sighed, feeling tears threaten to fall down my cheeks. I quickly blinked them away and stared at Jake.
"Please, you have to help me out here. I understand that you and Chase have had your, um, differences, but there has to be something he can do!" I exclaimed, feeling desperate. Jake's brow furrowed as he pinched his chin between his index finger and thumb.
"Well, I suppose he can take over the cooking show. Maya won't have time for it now," Jake replied indifferently. I squealed as I clapped my hands together excitedly. Wow, I didn't know Jake was capable of being nice.
"That would be… amazing. You have no clue. Thank you so much!" I exclaimed as I waved and burst out of the Inn. I had to find Chase, now.
Except, one problem still posed itself in my mind. Was I going to ask him to move in? I had to. With the way his life has been going, how could he afford to build a new house?
As I boarded the ferry and directed Pascal to head towards where Chase had departed to just a few days ago, I tried to muster up as much confidence as I could. What were the reasons that I liked Chase?
We had a lot in common
He was funny
He was a great cook
He was mature
His hair was awesome
His clothes weren't bad either
God, I sound like I'm describing a Barbie Doll. In all seriousness, I searched my mind for the reasons why we were together, and the reasons why we should stay together. And that's when I realized something.
He was sarcastic and cynical
My first impression of him was awful
He could be pretty annoying
He wasn't very social
But, for some reason, none of those things bothered me. They were what made him… different. Different from anyone else I had ever dated, at least. And even if he could annoy the crap out of me… it didn't make a difference. I smiled to myself as we approached the town.
I got off the ferry and thanked Pascal, telling him that if he stayed there until I returned, I would pay him. He gladly accepted, saying something about how the 'sea was his home' and that he 'loved the feel of the ferry rocking on the waves'. What a freak.
I headed into the small town not exactly sure what I was going to do. It's not like I could go door to door asking for Chase like he was a lost puppy or something.
"Hm…" I pondered aloud, "If I was Chase, where would I be?"
I made it into the town and was taken aback by the overall… grayness of the place. The buildings were monotonous colors and the people looked absolutely drab. It didn't help that it was cloudy out, either.
First, I headed for a small Italian restaurant, wondering if he had gotten a job yet. But when I asked, the response was in Italian. Warily, I left the building and headed for the next food establishment I could find.
Unfortunately for me, it was practically impossible to find him when I had no clue where to start. The town wasn't large, but he could be anywhere! After about four hours of wandering around, asking if anyone had seen a 'tall man with peach-colored hair and bobby pins', I was exhausted. Not only physically, but mentally, too. The people in this town were so rude! Most people just grunted and kept walking, or they would bust out laughing at my description.
Finally, I sat down at a diner on the east side of town and ordered a coffee, feeling completely and utterly dejected.
"What's wrong, little missy?" Came a voice from next to me. I whirled around to see an awkward-looking man with a bean-shaped head staring at me with beady eyes.
"Um… well, I've been looking for someone for the past few hours and haven't found him." I said quietly as I sipped my coffee.
"I'm sorry to hear that! What's the name? I know a lot of people in this town." He commented, smiling at me. Wow, this guy was a total creeper.
"Um, his name is Chase, he's tall and he has peach-colored hair." I said, getting ready for another 'sorry, I don't know him'. But instead, his eyes lit up.
"I know that guy! He has been living at my boarding house for a few days. Wanna stop by?"
I nodded vigorously, feeling a sense of relief overwhelm me. And anger. Chase was definitely going to get it when I saw him.
The creepy guy led me to an equally creepy building that was close to the diner.
"Could you hold on, like, a few minutes?" I asked quickly, remembering Pascal. He nodded and headed inside as I ran towards the dock.
"Pascal!" I called, waving at him. He seemed to have dozed off on the boat, for when he heard his name, he jolted and looked up at me with bleary eyes.
"Get the boat ready to leave, all right? I'll be back in a bit!" I exclaimed. He nodded his head and gave me a thumbs-up before I headed back towards the boarding house. Anxiously, I knocked on the door.
"Why hello there, little lady." Said the skeezy guy. I shuddered uncontrollably as I muttered a 'hello'.
"Chad!" He called into the hallway.
"It's Chase." I told him. Hadn't Chase been living there for three days? How does this guy not know his name?
The moment I saw him emerge from the hallway, a range of emotions swirled inside of me, causing me to feel almost nauseous. First and foremost, I was angry. It was insensitive of him to not even say a word about leaving. But also, I felt pity. The way he looked so rundown and unhappy… this place really didn't seem like the kind of place for Chase. Anxiously, I pulled him outside with me and slapped him.
"I guess I deserved that," he commented as he rubbed his cheek. I grunted angrily.
"You bet your ass you deserved it." I shouted, "What the hell were you thinking?!"
Then he proceeded to spew out some nonsense about how everyone in Waffle Town hated him, and how he didn't want me to feel obligated to ask him to move in.
"I mean, you wouldn't want have me living in your house, would you? I'm obnoxious, and sarcastic, and, and…" He stuttered, looking down at his shoes.
Boldly, I placed my index finger on his lips to get him to shut up. He looked down at me with wide, uncertain eyes.
"Yeah, you are obnoxious. And sarcastic. But that wouldn't stop me." I said. He smiled a little.
And then I told him the good news. About Jean-Claude (although I did leave out the little detail that I was involved in it), and about Maya, and about the TV show. He couldn't have been happier!
"Now, go get your things!" I exclaimed, "The ferry leaves in twenty minutes!"
"Just a few little touch ups… there! You are ready for your first day!" I exclaimed as I fixed his collar for the millionth time. He smiled down at me with a glint of anxiety in his eyes, "Don't worry. You'll be amazing!"
"You sure? Don't you think I look a little… nerdy?"
"Of course not. You look… dashing!" I exclaimed, wrapping my arms around his neck. He smiled and pushed his lips against mine as I laced my fingers through his hair.
"Okay, okay, okay," He said as he pulled away, "I really have to leave now! Wish me luck!"
"You'll do fine. And remember to smiiiile!" I exclaimed, poking his cheek with my finger. He rolled his eyes playfully.
"Yes, mom…" He said grudgingly as he stepped out the door. Anxiously, I turned the TV on and waited, picking at my fingernails.
Chase had moved in the day we came back from Lincolntown one season ago. It had been kind of rough at first; we were both pretty broke and for a while, we had to shove all of our clothes into one drawer (trust me, it was not pretty). Oh, and there was this whole phase where he wanted to paint the house orange, which definitely didn't go over well with me. But everything just felt more… complete in my life. I had someone to wake up to, and someone to kiss goodnight when I went to sleep. And now, I was sending him off on his first day on the job.
"Are you sure I have to wear this hat?" Came a voice on the television. Quickly, I tore away from my thoughts and stared at the television where an exasperated Chase was standing. He was wearing a tall, white chef's hat that looked like it was squeezing his head. I chuckled.
"Oh, we're on? Ah! We're on! Hello, my name is Chase and I will be your new host for your favorite cooking show! Today, we will be teaching you how to make Miso Soup. First, you will need…"
Unconsciously, I felt myself beam just watching him on there, looking uncomfortable in his chef's hat. And sometimes, he would look straight at the camera and smile, as if he knew I was looking at him. It made me feel warm inside.
Just an hour later, he returned to the house looking absolutely and undeniably happy. And honest to Goddess, it was the first time I had seen him like this.
"You did amazing!" I exclaimed, wrapping my arms around his neck. He grinned widely.
"Did you hear what I did in the beginning? That was so embarrassing! I didn't know the red light meant that it was recording! Ah, but it was so fun. And did you see when I…"
I listened intently as he kept going on, practically bursting at the seams with excitement. And for once in our relationship, I felt something more than 'like', and something deeper than a relationship. I felt… love. And I felt nauseous. But mostly, love. Smiling at him, I waited for him to finish before I pressed my lips against his. I felt him smile against my lips as he wrapped his arms around my back.
"What was that for?" He finally said as we pulled away. I shrugged.
"Nothing," I said, feeling a sense of excitement overwhelm me, "No reason at all."
Ding, ding, ding!
"A toast!" I exclaimed as I hit my fork against a champagne glass, "To Toby and Maya!"
"Here, here!" Chase said happily, rising his glass into the air. Toby and Maya chuckled uncontrollably, tipping over to one side on the couch.
"We've all had our up's and down's," I began, hearing an 'amen' come from Toby, "But we couldn't be happier that you two are getting married! Congratulations!"
Toby and Maya looked happily at each other and laced their fingers together. It had been three seasons since Chase's first day on the job, and now Toby and Maya were getting married. As soon as I heard the news, we invited them to our house for a small get together.
"Thank you so much, guys!" Maya exclaimed, smiling widely. Chase stood abruptly, wobbling to one side a little (I'm guessing he had a little too much champagne), before heading to kitchen to grab something. Toby and Maya grinned expectantly at me, as if they knew something I didn't. Furrowing my brow, I looked at Chase who immediately turned red upon seeing me. What was going on here?
"I, um…" Chase began as he pulled something out from the kitchen cabinet. It was a gigantic cake with white frosting on it. I grinned as he approached us, setting the cake down on the table timidly. I felt a crease form in my forehead as I wondered why everyone was staring at me expectantly, until I looked at the cake. It had a gigantic, red frosting heart on it, and sitting next to the cake on the tray was a feather. A brilliant, blue feather.
"Are you… proposing?" I choked out, clutching my heart.
"What? No, I just thought this blue feather looked nice. You know, as a decoration," He said, smiling at me, "Of course I'm proposing!"
"You're awful," I said, laughing as I did so.
"I love you." He replied in all seriousness, fingering the blue tendrils of the feather.
"I love you, too." I replied sincerely, wrapping my arms around him and kissing him tenderly, "And it's a yes." I heard Maya squeal from next to me as she bounced up and down on the couch.
"Oh my gosh! You can be my bridesmaid, and I can be yours!" She exclaimed, clapping her hands in delight. Pulling away from the kiss, I felt something I hadn't ever felt before. Complete and utter sanguinity. And I knew Chase could feel it, too. As Toby and Maya cheered together, I saw as Chase took a handful of the cake and looked at me devilishly.
"Oh, no you don't!" I exclaimed, but I was too late. He pressed the glob of food onto my face as I grabbed my own handful and did the same. As we all chortled heartily, I knew one thing was for certain. I was going to be with this man for the rest of my life.
And that is how the peach-haired, snooty, bobby pin-wearing boy and the silly-grinned, stubborn, high-and-mighty farmer came to be happily married, and live happily ever after.
A/N: The end! Okay, so the ending was a bit cheesy, but... Voila! I hope you enjoyed this story, because I definitely enjoyed writing it. Thanks to all who read and reviewed, you have really kept my spirits high about my writing. I hope that you check out my other Tree of Tranquility fic that I'm working on right now! Thanks again!