Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own PR. Wish I did though.

AN: I recently heard the song "Syndicate" by The Fray and fell in love. It most definitely reminded me of Maddick. It feels good to get back to the couple that made me start writing PR in the first place. This is a multi-chaptered piece. Hope you enjoy. The title was given to me by the wonderful Shawn. And a huge thank you to him, Kim, and angel for being my sounding boards throughout writing this. Love to you all.

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A buzzing sound had her eyes opening blearily to the bright red numbers of her alarm clock glaring right at her. She groaned when she saw what time it was and quickly blinked herself away as the buzzing sound on her bedside table became more insistent. Maddie forced her arm over to the surface of said wooden table and found her phone. As she brought the offending little gadget away from the table she also remembered to thank whatever deity that was listening that Vida was off in the magical realm for the night instead of in their shared room. Because if her sister had been here and sleeping, there would have been hell to pay for awakening her.

Maddie was in fact thinking that she should yell at whoever was calling at this absurd hour but in all reality, even her sleep addled brain knew who would even risk trying to talk to her right now. The thought of that one person made her smile despite being awoken at this hour and had her eagerly opening her phone and putting it to her ear.

"You know Red some people like to sleep at insane hours of the morning," she murmured into the phone, her smile growing as he chuckled into the receiver.

"Ahh but my dear Blue those people are not us. You know you're happy to hear from me. Even if it is…shit what time is it there anyways?"

"My clock is telling me almost four. What about on your end? Where are you guys anyway?"

"It's almost six in the morning here. We're still in Brazil. My mom and dad wanted to spend some time with me and get to know Udonna and Lienbow some more. But we're only going to be here for maybe another week."

"How come so short a trip? I thought you'd want to stay longer?" Maddie questioned as she rolled over onto her back and made herself comfortable. She knew that this conversation with Nick would take awhile. They always did and she loved it. She loved the fact that despite being so far away from each other they were still as close as they'd been as Rangers. Hell, they were probably even closer now than before.

"My parents are about to leave for another village soon. They're going to need to concentrate their efforts there and I'm alright with that. I'm just happy that I've gotten the month with them that I have."

A month. She found it hard to believe that it had only been one month since Nick had taken off with Udonna and Lienbow. To her, it felt like it had been so much longer; she felt his absence more keenly every day. She missed his laugh, their talks, the way that one look from his eyes could make her heart jumpstart to life, she missed her Red more than she would admit to anyone other than herself. But it wasn't as though he'd be gone forever. He'd promised to come back to Briarwood after spending time with both sets of parents. He had a life here; friends, family, and her. Maddie was still unclear as to what she was in Nick's life, but she knew she wasn't family and while she was a friend, a good friend, she thought that she was possibly more than that. Lord knew that Nick was more than just a friend to her.

"So what are you going to do after they leave?" she questioned quietly, not so secretly hoping that Nick would maybe, just maybe say come back home to her.

"We're thinking of travelling some more. I want some time to get to know Udonna and Lienbow outside of a war you know? And I think they deserve the chance to get to know me."

His voice broke just a little bit on the other end of the line and immediately Maddie felt her own heart break for him. Nick had been through so much in the past few months; and while she was sad to think that she wouldn't get to see him anytime soon, she knew he needed this. He needed time to get to know his biological parents, and they deserved the chance to know him. They had the chance to be a family for the first time and they should take it while they had it.

"Of course they do. And you deserve the chance to know these people as the parents you would have had," she reassured him softly. "You take all the time you need with them Nick. Everyone is still going to be here for you no matter what. We're a team, nothing changes that."

He chuckled on the other end, and Maddie could almost picture the smile on his face when he started speaking again. It warmed her heart to think that she was the one that had helped put it there.

"Alright enough about me. Tell me what's been going on around Briarwood."

"Why Nick Russell when did we turn into such gossips?" Maddie asked her best imitation of a southern accent, giggling when he laughed at her statement.

"Well Ms. Rocca I guess just being away from a place makes your curious," he answered back in a very poor imitation of a southern drawl. "But seriously there hasn't been any trouble has there? No monsters?"

"We dealt with a stray hideac about a week ago. Nothing to be worried about, there was only the one and the thing was insanely easy to beat," she told him quickly. "No one got hurt and we scoured the area to be sure that nothing else was loose. But other than that things have been pretty quiet around here."

"And how about the team?"

"Everyone's doing well. I told you last week that Xander and Vida are dating now right?" she asked and he offered an affirmative on his end of the line. "Well they still haven't killed one another so you owe me lunch when you get back to Briarwood. And Nikki and Toby are moving along really well. They seem to match each other. Oh! And it seems as though our dear Chip may have an interest in Clare."

"Seriously?" Nick laughed. "When did this happen?"

"Well," she paused for a moment and then whispered into the phone as though she were telling him some deep, dark secret. "He's been spending an awful lot of time at Rootcore lately. We all thought that it was because of his knight training with Daggeron but last week he was there and Daggeron wasn't. Jenji claims that he saw the two kissing on the balcony."

"And you believe Jenji on this one?" Nick asked skeptically from his end of the line and Maddie laughed.

"Actually this time I am. You haven't seen the looks those two have been giving each other. They're adorable."

"I'll believe it when I see it," he retorted. "How are Leelee and Phineas doing?"

"Sickeningly sweet as always," she responded softly. "Phineas brought her a box of cockroaches the other day. It's apparently a big romantic gesture among his kind." Maddie shuddered at the thought and was thoroughly pleased with herself when she heard Nick make a gagging noise on his end of the line.

"And changing the subject from that line of thought," he told her quickly. "Where is your sister tonight? I expected to have to cover my ears when I called."

"She and Xander are in the magical realm. They're going to mediate a dispute between the sprites and the faeries tomorrow."

"Are you sure they haven't killed each other?"

"Nope. Both are still very much alive. I think they're good for each other."

"And what about Maddie?"

She paused at that question, unsure of what to make of it. Nick's voice sounded hesitant, almost fearful of the answer she would give. He'd never asked this kind of thing before and she had to wonder why he was doing so right now.

"What about me?" she asked, needing to know exactly what he meant.

"Is there anyone special in your life?"

Maddie felt herself suck in a breath at the question. Here it was; her opportunity to tell him how she felt about him. Feelings she'd been harboring for months that had been growing with each day that showed no signs of curbing any time soon. This was her chance and she couldn't let it slip away. She wanted to tell him what she felt for him, he needed to know, and she wanted to know if he felt the same way. So she quietly grabbed the blanket that he'd given her from underneath her pillow and clutched it to her chest, willing the thing to give her the courage to do this.

"Yes," she answered quietly, grimacing when she heard him let out a broken breath.

"Who is it?" Nick asked softly and she almost chuckled.

"Oh well you see he's not in Briarwood right now. In fact the last time I checked…he wasn't even in the country," she answered back, a smile on her face. "You see he's off spending some much needed time with both sets of his parents. But you wanna know something really funny?"

"Sure," his voice was small, and Maddie hoped at the tone of voice he was using on her.

"He doesn't even know I like him. We've been friends for the past year, teammates, have literally been to hell and back and I haven't been able to tell him that I've been falling for him since day one. Funny right?"

"No not funny," he answered quickly. "In fact it seems like this guy's kind of an idiot for not noticing that you feel the same way about him as he does about you."

"He's not an idiot," she responded, feeling her heart nearly exploding with joy at his words. "We just had a lot going on the past year. Not noticing how we feel about one another was pretty far down on the list of priorities. But does he feel the same way about me?" she asks tentatively and she hears a laugh on the other end of the phone.

"Oh I do Maddie," he responded softly. "I feel so much for you that it hurts to not be around you right now. I think I could be falling in love with you."

"Love?" she squeaks out, her heart was really going to burst out of its chest now.

"Yeah I think it could happen. I'm already halfway there," he tells her honestly. "You Madison Rocca have stolen my heart in more ways than one."

"Likewise," she responded instantly. "Just don't expect it back Russell. I have you. I'm not letting you go."

"Likewise," he counters and she giggles as he sighs. "Seriously Maddie why have we been hiding this for so long?"

"Because it's easier to miss you when I refused to admit how far gone for you I was," she answered quietly. "But I do miss you Nick. So much."

"Feelings mutual," he muttered. "I've seriously thought about coming back home so many times because of you. I want to do a transport spell right now and get to you."

"Don't," she orders him quietly, clutching his blanket to her as she says the word. "I want you too Nick. I don't think you realize how much I want you to but you need to be where you are right now. You need this time with Udonna and Lienbow. I don't want you cutting it short because of me."

"They'd understand Maddie, they would. They both know how I feel about you. They would-"

"No," she's telling him again, and right now she can feel tears forming in her eyes because this isn't what she wants. She knows she already loves him. She can see a future with him and only him. She wants nothing more than for him to come home and wrap her in his arms but right now she can't have that. Part of being in love with someone is knowing the other person like the back of your hand. Maddie is happy to say that she can say that she knows Nick that well. Well enough to know that if he were to come home now, that he'd never be satisfied. So she needed to encourage him to stay where he was, and with whom he was with until he felt fulfilled.

"I want you to," she tells him again. "God how I want you to just come home right now and hold me but you can't Nick. If you did you'd regret it. We both know it. I want you to come back when you're ready. Not just because of me. I'll wait until then."

"What did I do to deserve you?" he asks quietly and Maddie brings a hand up to wipe her cheeks, trying to calm herself down so he can't hear her right now.

"You were you Nick. That's all you ever have to be," she chokes on her last word and curses herself when she hears him take a breath. "D-don't you dare worry about me. I'm going to be fine. I've got plenty of things here to keep me occupied. Take all the time you need."

"Please don't cry. And don't try to hide when you're upset. I can tell," he chides her softly and Maddie finds herself choking back a laugh. Of course he'd be able to read her moods like she was able to know what he needs.

"I can't really help it," she explained to him. "I miss you Red."

"Close your eyes," he says suddenly and she finds herself looking at the phone in puzzlement.

"Nick?"

"Just close your eyes baby," he tells her. "Trust me."

She smiles at the endearment and quickly does as she's told, giving him an affirmative when it's done.

"Now what?" she asked.

"Now just imagine that I'm there with you and not hundreds of miles away. That we're together, that I'm holding you. Imagine that we're in the forest, staring up at the sky. It's probably beautiful right now."

"It is," she tells him. "Stars shining even as the sun gets ready to rise. And I bet you'd make a really good pillow. Are your eyes closed too?"

"Mhmm."

"Are you imagining what you told me?"

"Yes. I keep seeing your smile, keeping thinking about what you'd look like curled up against me. What you'd look like in my color."

"Oh I look good in your color," she tells him with a laugh, still keeping the image in her head. "I've been wearing it to bed a lot, mixing it in with blue. What would you look like in blue?"

"Amazing," he responds with a laugh. "My riding jacket has red and blue on it. Our colors are perfect together."

Maddie startles when she hears a noise coming from Nick's end of the phone, her eyes instantly opening to glance out at the window. The sky is indeed starting to lighten and one look at her alarm clock says that she's been on the phone for nearly an hour and a half. She has to get up soon, get ready for work and then to head into the forest to meet Clare for some practice.

"Maddie…I have to go," Nick says suddenly, regret present in his voice. "My parents...both sets are starting to get up. They'll need help and…god I'm sorry. I don't want to just leave you like this baby."

"It's ok," she says softly. "I understand and we'll talk again soon. Just...in the meantime do me a favor?"

"Anything."

"Just don't forget what I said today? Just know that you're worth waiting for. That you've got a heart her in Briarwood that's all yours."

"I won't forget Maddie. That's a promise. Shit...I really gotta go now."

"Then go. Give Udonna and Lienbow my love."

"I will," he says softly. "And Maddie? You know how I said I was falling earlier?"

"Mhmm," she responds with a smile on her face.

"Consider myself already fallen. I love you. It's crazy but I do."

"It's not crazy," she told him with a laugh, heart swelling and smile widening. She certainly does love hearing those words coming from his mouth. They sound so right there, so very meant for her. "We've had over a year to fall. And for the record? I love you too. Now go."

"Yes m'am. I'll talk to you soon. Love you Blue."

And with that the line clicks off and Maddie has been left to hold the phone. She stays like that for a few minutes, letting herself bask in the pure joy of being able to admit that she's finally been able to tell Nick about how she feels. Their conversations have always been meaningful but this one, this night or morning, whatever it was, was so special. She'd treasure it forever.

But for the moment Maddie had to face the reality of her current situation; the one where Nick was absent at the moment and she still had a life to live. Sighing she takes one more glance outside and realizes that sleep will not be happening at the moment before promptly getting out of bed. For now she would get ready for the day and then head into the forest to visit Clare. The young sorceress was always up early and wanting company for breakfast. After that she'd go to work and then who knew? She'd just take it one step at a time for today.

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The next part should be up within the next few days. Feedback is always appreciated, thanks for reading!