Disclaimer: I don't own what I don't own, including but not limited to Power Rangers.
Summary: After a potion of Clare's backfires, Madison has twenty-three days to share a passionate kiss with a loved one or she'll turn into a frog. Although Madison asks Vida to let her handle it, Vida decides to help her sister by convincing Xander to seduce the unsuspecting Madison… but Nick keeps getting in the way.
Pairings: Nick/Madison for the most part, probably Chip/Vida, though I'm not for sure yet. I'm also thinking of Xander/Vida, Xander/Clare or Xander/Leelee.
Timeline: I'm only using episodes up through "The Gatekeeper, Part II," but Madison's fear of frogs was mentioned in "Scaredy Cat."
Author's Notes: Every episode I see of Mystic Force makes me want a Nick-Madison pairing more and more, and somewhere along the line this story just popped into my head. I can't promise extremely regular updates, but I can promise humor. Reviews inspire updates.
Shameless Plug: Go read "Of Love and Bunnies" and "The Full Impact" if you haven't already, please?
For the Love of Frogs
"Hey, Maddy," Vida called as she walked into Root Core, straightening her cape. Madison was sitting at a table, reading a thick book, while Clare was stirring a cauldron nearby. "Where are the guys?"
"Toby asked them to come in and do inventory," Madison replied absently. "And Udonna's off meditating. I thought I'd get some studying in."
Madison held up her textbook. "Math."
"I was never very good with numbers," Clare said wistfully. "My mother, she could do numerology in her head better than the great Aurina. Me, though…"
"What are you making?" Vida asked, coming over to look into Clare's cauldron. It didn't smell half bad, unlike most of the concoctions found in cauldrons at Root Core. "Anything tasty?"
"I hope so, but probably not," Clare said with a self-deprecating smile. "It's supposed to be a potion to increase luckiness. I figure if I can get a little luckier, maybe some of my spells will work out better." She lifted up a vial of red liquid. "All that's left is the dragon's blood."
"Is that real dragon's blood?" Vida asked, startled. Clare didn't answer, too intent on the potion.
"Of course not, Vi," Madison said absently, still engrossed in her textbook, her feet up on the table. "Dragon's blood is an herb. It makes a great incense, too."
Clare wasn't paying attention, carefully stirring the mixture. Vida frowned. The red liquid didn't look like an herb, or even an herbal mixture. It looked like actual blood.
"Here goes nothing," Clare said cheerfully, uncorking the bottle.
Realization dawned on Vida a split-second too late. "Get down!" she screamed, diving towards the table, intent on knocking Madison to safety. Madison looked up, her eyes wide; true to form, her first thought was to sweep her arm across the table, knocking her books and papers underneath the tabletop's protective cover, saving them instead of herself. Unfortunately, this put Madison out of Vida's path and Vida sailed by harmlessly, rolling to her feet on the other side of Madison. Neither girl had time to get out of the way before the cauldron exploded.
Brown slime covered everything in a seven-foot radius. Vida and Madison stood there, shocked, dripping in chunks of foul-smelling goo. They gaped numbly at Clare, who'd been standing close enough to the cauldron that she'd been blasted backwards; she was only soaked from the knees down. Her skirt was ruined, but her skin was spared.
Vida looked down at her body; she was starting to itch in places her uniform didn't cover. "Ugh," she groaned.
"I'm sorry!" Clare exclaimed, popping upright and wringing her hands. "I don't know what went wrong!"
"My homework!" Madison wailed, crouching down to check on it. It was clean, wrinkled but otherwise undamaged. "Oh, thank god!"
"Great!" Vida complained. "I don't suppose this overgrown tree stump has a shower, does it?"
"Don't worry," Clare said shakily. "I know a spell to—"
"NO!" Madison and Vida both shrieked. Clare looked hurt; Madison shot her an apologetic look and Vida's expression softened slightly.
"Allow me," Madison said gently, pulling out her wand. However, before she could cast the spell, the brown gunk on their skin and hair sank in, like water seeping into a paper towel. "Um… never mind," she said nervously.
"Well, at least now we only have to worry about getting our uniforms clean," Vida said with a sigh.
Madison lifted an eyebrow at her. "Vida, an unknown potion was just absorbed into our bodies. I think we have a little bit more than that to worry about."
Vida's eyes widened. "What was in that potion, Clare?" she demanded.
Clare shook her head wildly. "Nothing! Just… everything the book said… for the luck potion."
Madison marched over to the Xenotome and jabbed her wand at the blank pages. "Tell me what just happened. Tell me what that potion does," she ordered.
Pages fluttered. Light flashed from the book. Madison found herself wondering if the book was showing off, but the thought was pushed out of her head as the book settled, revealing…
"It's a metamorphosis spell," Madison explained as Clare and Vida hurried over. "The potion takes effect after the next full moon phase—"
"That means three days after the next full moon. You can still draw on the power of a full moon for three days before and three days afterwards," Clare interrupted.
"The last one was four days ago, I think," Vida said. "Yeah. Last Tuesday. Udonna mentioned it."
"That means the next one should be four weeks from last Tuesday," Clare said. "So you have four weeks from yesterday to prevent the metamorphosis."
"Wait, metamorphosis?" Vida repeated uneasily. "Doesn't that mean we'll change into something?"
"Yes," Madison squeaked, staring down at the book in shock and horror.
"What?" Vida demanded.
"Frogs. We're going to become frogs." Madison shuddered. "I hate frogs."
"What?" Vida hissed. "No way!"
"It says that the afflicted party will change into a frog at the end of the next full moon cycle!" Madison wailed.
"Who came up with that rule?" Vida snarled. "A potion that'll turn you into a frog in a month?"
"Evil magic-users did it all the time in the old days," Clare whispered, hands covering her mouth in dismay. "It kept people from realizing who the culprit behind the curse was. All the witch had to do was slip someone the potion and then make sure they weren't around during the time the potion would take effect, so that no one could say they'd done it."
"I don't want to be a frog!" Madison whimpered.
"Maddy, calm down," Vida insisted. "We aren't going to become frogs. There has to be a way to get this junk back out of our skin. Like those little blackhead strips you use to get stuff out of your pores."
"I don't think it works like that," Madison said, taking a deep, steadying breath. "Besides, those strips never work right." Her eyes lit up and she jabbed her wand at Xenotome again. "Show us how to break the spell!"
Once more, the book did its little dramatic page-shuffling until it showed them a new set of writing. The three girls leaned over it anxiously.
"According to this, there are three ways to break the spell," Madison read. "The first is 'Resurrection of Holumno, and defeat through battle.'"
"Who's Holumno?" Vida asked Clare.
Clare grimaced. "Well, you know that fairy tale about kissing a frog and it turns out to be a handsome prince?"
"From what I remember, that goes back to the days of Leulani, a really powerful witch who was scorned by a charming prince who didn't really love her. She turned him into a frog and tried to step on him, but before she could, he hopped away. Holumno was the head of the royal guard, who came looking for the prince at Leulani's cottage. She said she hadn't seen him in ages but he didn't believe her and tried to take her back to the castle and she… well, she immobilized him with magic and stabbed him to death with his own sword." Clare cleared her throat as Madison and Vida stared at her. "Then she kind of, um, buried him in her backyard but he made a pact with a god and rose up again as a zombie and tried to seek his revenge. She held him within a magical triangle—"
"Mm, in the old days they used triangles to confine demons and the undead. Um, anyway, once the prince was returned to his human form, he had Leulani hunted down and burned at the stake after this really big war between his army and her and a few of her fellow witches. Once she was dead, Holumno was released from her magic and went back to his grave."
"So… in order to break the spell that way, we'd have to resurrect a zombie, who I'm going to assume is pretty strong and pretty annoyed?" Madison asked.
"Um, yes. Then you'd have to defeat him in battle."
"Has anyone ever tried that before?" Vida wanted to know.
"Oh, yes, many people. Some hoping for glory, others wanting to enslave him with magic and make him fight for them. Most never make it past the enchanted forest, though. Leulani cast a curse even as she was burned at the stake, that the land around her cottage should be warped and twisted and deny safe passage to any who ventured onto it, whether they sought the magic she held or the grave of Holumno, so that his soul would be confined to his grave, unable to move on because he was denied proper burial rites and never got revenge on Leulani, as his pact with the god said he had to. Most people who try to make it past the land surrounding Leulani's cottage don't get very far."
"This Leulani sounds like a real piece of work," Vida said. "She condemned some guy who was just doing his job to an eternity of confinement to his rotting corpse? And no one's been able to save him?"
"Well, I asked Udonna that, and she said the prince was actually quite an evil jerk and that Holumno was a tyrannical guard who'd committed a lot of war crimes so in reality Leulani wasn't all that bad."
"Two sides to every story, I guess," Madison said thoughtfully, then turned back to the book. "So that's a no to trying to go through the evil forest to kill the former employee of the frog prince. Option two… 'Eat a live frog?'" Madison stared at the book in horror.
"Oh, that makes sense," Clare said brightly. "To prevent becoming a frog on the outside, you ingest a frog. Frog within, not without."
"I'm not eating a live frog," Vida said darkly.
"Oh, I don't think you could. You'd have to do it in one bite. Otherwise it'd be a dead frog by the second bite."
"Moving on," Madison said quickly, grimacing. "Um… 'Share a kiss of passion with a loved one?' Do they mean 'true love's kiss' or something?"
"Oh! Actually, from what Udonna told me—I was asking her about fairy tale love stories and she told me whole bunches before she called me a silly sentimental girl with much to learn and made me sweep up the mess I made—in the old language, they didn't use love as a verb. Rather, they said something to the effect of 'feeling for a shormasti,' with 'shormasti' meaning 'loved one.'"
"A loved one in what way?" Madison pressed.
"Well, apparently all that stuff about 'true love's kiss' is actually just lazy translating. 'Shormasti' meant loved one the same way we use it; a loved one could be a friend, a family member, or a… you know, a boyfriend or girlfriend. 'Shormastari' meant loved one in a romantic way, and 'shormastilli' meant in a platonic way. Or maybe it was the other way around; I forget. Most folklore about it—stories like Snow White and so on—just mean a loved one in general, not a love interest, but the monks who transcribed a lot of the spells and translated them into modern language figured 'kiss of passion' must mean it was supposed to be 'shormastari.' So everyone wrote down 'kiss of true love' and it just sorta stuck. But Udonna told me the original spells always just said 'shormasti.' And it isn't even 'passion.' This word here, amoliona, it means 'enthusiasm,' not passion. So basically, since the original text here says 'calamir adasi da amoliona gi shormasti,' all you have to do is kiss a loved one enthusiastically. Doesn't have to be a true love."
"Are you sure?" Vida asked suspiciously, exchanging a glance with Madison over Clare's head.
"Hey, that's not something you forget. I was always dreaming of my true love being a charming prince who'd rescue me from an evil spell with the perfect kiss… and then Udonna told me that wasn't how the real story went at all. It stuck with me." Clare smiled without humor. "Besides, I'm not bad with books and learning. It's using the information that gets me into trouble."
"So… we could just grab a friend, kiss them, and be done with it?" Vida asked slowly.
"Um, yes. I think."
"That we can do." Vida pulled out her morpher and pressed a few buttons. A few moments later, Chip's voice came on the line.
"Hehwhoa?" The garbled greeting was accompanied by the sound of chewing.
"Chip, it's Vida. Madison and I need you to meet us at Root Core. Whatever you do, don't tell Xander and Nick, or I'll strangle you to death with your cape."
Chip's response was a loud gulping noise, followed by, "Right-o. See you soon."
"Vida!" Madison exclaimed. "Tell me you're not thinking what I think you're thinking."
"It has to be Chip, Maddy. Nick's cool and all, but he's new. He probably won't be comfortable with helping us out. And Xander would brag and rub it in and probably tell the entire planet he got to make out with the Rocca sisters." Vida rolled her eyes, tucking her morpher back into her uniform pocket. "If it works, it works. If it doesn't, Chip can be bullied into not saying anything."
"Vida, you can't just—"
"Hey, guys!" Chip called as he ran breathlessly into Root Core. "What's the big emergency?"
Before Madison or Clare could say anything, Vida marched towards him. Chip watched her expectantly, waiting for an explanation. All he got was Vida grabbing him firmly by the head and smashing their mouths together.
Chip flailed his arms around, his eyes wide and muffled noises of protest issuing from the back of his throat.
Vida growled and smacked him upside the head. Chip jumped, wincing, and, face screwed up in terror, closed his eyes and stopped struggling obediently.
Madison was beyond shocked. She had known it was Vida's plan to kiss Chip. Knowing it and seeing it happen… well, it was like playing with little plastic green army men and then suddenly finding yourself wandering through the jungle with an M16. Thus she was too out of it to see when it happened. The moment was hard to pinpoint, but the turning point itself was obviously there.
As Vida kissed the astonished, confused, petrified Chip, something clicked in Chip's brain. He realized, like an elfin warrior aiming a long bow at the advancing evil ogre general, that he was only going to get one shot at this.
Chip decided it was time to make 'em proud.
His hands snaked around Vida's waist and up her back and he leaned forward, dipping her back slightly and making the scene look more like some cheesy historical romance movie (the capes on their uniforms certainly didn't help). Chip, goofy, bizarre, daydreaming Chip, threw everything he had into kissing Vida.
Becoming a Power Ranger, learning to use magic… it had always seemed like a bit of a dream to the five Rangers. One minute they were normal, the next they were fighting evil, and life and duty forced them to switch between the two on a moment's notice. It was like watching one of Madison's documentaries, then switching to The Lord of the Rings without warning only to suddenly flip back to the footage of their everyday life. They felt like Chip had always felt, torn between reality and fantasy. Surreal was the only word to describe it.
Yet nothing, nothing, had ever been as surreal as seeing Vida and Chip kiss like lovers on board the sinking Titanic.
Vida seemed to be losing control of the situation rapidly. Chip kept leaning her back farther and farther, his cloak falling around her dramatically. Vida took hold of Chip's shirt reflexively, not wanting to fall if he lost his grip. Madison could have sworn she heard a couple moans coming from either Chip or Vida, or maybe both; she glanced at Clare to see what Clare's opinion on the matter was, but Clare was gazing at them all starry-eyed, like a little girl at the end of a Disney movie.
Suddenly it occurred to Madison that the kiss should have ended by now.
She waited, wondering if she should say something. She probably shouldn't. If she did, Chip might get into trouble; if Vida was truly getting into the kiss the way it looked like she was, then she'd come out of it embarrassed, and an embarrassed Vida was an angry Vida. However, Madison's stomach wasn't taking this much easier than it would have taken eating a live frog.
Biting her lip, Madison looked around the room for something she could use to make a loud noise. Was she cruel enough to stomp on Clare's foot and get her to yelp?
Luckily for Madison (and Clare's health), Vida used her hold on Chip's shoulders to shove him back. Chip barely noticed that she was returning him to a standing position, keeping his hold on her and bringing her with him. When they were both more or less upright again, Vida yanked herself out of his embrace. Unfortunately, Madison couldn't see her expression—but she could see Chip's, all blissful with a side of determination and another of confusion. Madison shivered in horror at the sight of Chip's tongue, which was a little slow to retreat back into his mouth. Vida abruptly ran around behind him, grabbed him by the shoulder again, and shoved him in Madison and Clare's direction. Chip simply stood their happily, not even bothering to open his eyes, obviously still savoring the experience. He didn't quite seem to have his balance back; he was swaying a bit and Vida's hand on his collar was probably the only thing holding him up.
"Your turn," Vida announced without preamble, her expression unreadable.
Madison recoiled, but Clare stepped forward. "Okay," Clare said hesitantly. "Now, I've never done this before, so if I get it wrong I'm sorry but I'll do my best—"
"Not you," Vida said in exasperation. "Madison."
"Aw, darn," muttered Chip, but still in an utterly happy tone. He finally opened his eyes and looked over at Madison, confused but not exactly about to argue.
"No way, Vida!" Madison said firmly, quickly backpedaling, putting an extra ten feet between her and Chip.
"Why not?" Vida demanded.
"Yeah, why not?" Chip asked, in a tone that might have marked him as drunk.
"I can't just… just… just kiss Chip!" Madison insisted.
Vida raised an eyebrow and gave her sister an ironic smile. "It's not that difficult. Trust me."
"I'm not you, Vi. I'm not going to kiss Chip just because I don't want to turn into a frog!"
"Why not?" Vida repeated.
"He's my friend, Vida!"
"He's my friend too," Vida pointed out.
"Yeah, but… but…"
"But what?" she demanded.
"Yeah, but what?" Chip asked, frowning. He was starting to come back to reality a bit, and Madison's refusal stung slightly.
"But… but… I've never been kissed before, Vi," Madison said hopelessly. "I don't want my first kiss to be because of a spell and with Chip. I want… I want…"
"What? Violins and a dozen roses and a full moon?" Vida scoffed.
"Yes! I want it to be with a guy I care about and I want it to be romantic and sweet. Chip's my friend; I can't just kiss him for no good reason."
"There is a good reason. If you don't kiss him, you'll turn into a frog!" Vida pointed out sharply.
"You don't know that for sure!" Madison pointed out.
"She will in a few more seconds, though," Clare spoke up. "Eventually, we should see a sign that the spell is ended."
Madison and Vida fell silent, and Vida released Chip; he stumbled a bit and then slowly turned around, still trying to reconnect with the realm of normality. The four watched Vida closely for a long moment… and then patches of her skin began to turn brown.
"What's happening?" Chip demanded, but Vida didn't answer, staring at her skin in horrified fascination. The brown patches became three-dimensional, making Vida look as if she had the scariest skin condition known to man… and then they began to break up into individual drops of liquid. Soon they evaporated into dark, foul-smelling gas, and then they dissipated like smoke blown away by the wind.
"What was that?" Chip asked, one part worried, one part curious and one part excited.
"A metamorphosis spell," Clare explained. "I had an accident, and Madison and Vida were both cursed to turn into frogs within a full-moon cycle if they didn't share a passionate kiss with a loved one."
"Oh," Chip said in realization. Then he frowned nervously, realizing what this must mean for Madison. "Oh." His expression turned disappointed, understanding why Vida had kissed him. "Oh." Then his love of all things magic took over. "Oh. Oh, cool! I mean—"
"Enough babbling," Vida commanded. "Madison, kiss Chip."
"No!" Madison exclaimed stubbornly.
"Madison, if you don't kiss Chip—"
"I know! But… but… I can't. I can't have my first kiss be with my friend because of a frog spell! It's not exactly something to tell my grandchildren!"
"Well, you probably shouldn't tell your grandchildren about kissing guys who aren't grandpa, anyway," Chip offered, deciding that he might as well try to turn the day's events into a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
"Chip, no offense, but… but I want my first kiss to be with someone I like," Madison told him apologetically. "Possibly even love. I don't want it to be with a friend, and I especially don't want it to be because I had to."
Chip shrugged and nodded, but he still looked hurt. Madison was about to console him some more, when she realized that he probably understood—he was probably hurting because for a split-second, he had thought Vida liked him… and Chip's first kiss had just done in the exact same way Madison didn't want hers.
"Well, you have to kiss someone," Vida said. "Who do you have a crush on?"
"Nobody," Madison replied, blushing deeply.
"Come on, Maddy, this is no time to keep secrets."
"I'm not! You know I would tell you. I just… don't like anyone in particular right now."
"What about Ben?" Chip asked.
Madison smiled slightly. "He was cute, and I liked that he was shy, too… but we weren't all that compatible otherwise. He, um… well, he was a little too into football." Madison sighed. "Look… if what the Xenotome says is correct, I have roughly twenty-seven days left to find someone to kiss. Or to resurrect and defeat Holumno."
"The tyrant general cursed by the great Leulani and condemned to spend all eternity stuck between worlds, his pact with the god Morusco unfulfilled?" Chip asked eagerly.
"Uh, yeah," Madison said, startled.
"You spend way too much time in Root Core, Chip," Vida said dryly.
"Oh, if you guys decide to go fight him, can I come?" Chip begged. "Please?"
"Sure thing, Chip," Madison agreed with a shrug.
"That would be so awesome! Making our way through the twisted trees of the Cursed Forest, battling our way past despicable beasts loyal only to Leulani…"
"We're not going to fight Holumno," Vida said firmly. "If Madison can't find someone to kiss in time, she's kissing you. Deal?" she asked Madison.
"Fine," Madison said heavily. "You don't mind, do you, Chip?"
"No, of course not. Anything for my friends," Chip told her warmly. "But personally, I think going after Holumno would be a much better idea."
Madison smiled at him. "Thanks, Chip." She sighed. "Look, if you guys don't mind, I think I'll go home. I'd… kind of like to be alone for a while."
"Call me if you need me," Vida told her.
"Take care," Chip added, concerned.
"I'm really, really sorry, Madison," Clare added mournfully.
"I know, Clare. It's okay. Bye, guys."
Madison gathered up her belongings and walked out. Vida sighed loudly and kicked a nearby chair.
"What's wrong, Vi?" Chip asked.
"Other than the fact that my sister's going to be turned into a frog unless she stops being shy?" Vida snapped.
Chip winced. "Okay, stupid question. But… she has a month, doesn't she? Maybe she'll find someone by then."
Vida shook her head. "No. I know Madison. She's too shy to approach a guy under normal circumstances, let alone when she's under pressure. She's going to freak out for the next twenty-five days and then you'll still have to kiss her, and it'll utterly depress her."
"Was it that bad?" Chip asked with a self-deprecating smile. His tone was joking, but his eyes weren't.
Vida looked at him, her expression mostly unreadable, but he thought he detected sympathy in her gaze. Finally, she took a deep breath. "I am going to say this one time, and one time only—no, it wasn't."
Chip's eyes widened; Clare reached out a hand to steady him, as it looked like he just might fall over. Vida admitting it "wasn't that bad" was like a normal person bowing down and kissing his feet. It might not have been the most complimentary praise ever, but it was a hell of a lot more than he'd expected to get from Vida.
"R-really?" he asked faintly.
"What did I just say?"
"We are not going to speak of what just happened," Vida interrupted with a growl. "Ever. Get me?"
"Right," Chip said quickly, nodding. He cleared his throat. "So…"
"So," Clare added, figuring she must be missing something and deciding to join in.
"I'm uh… I should be getting back to work," Chip said. "I told Xander and Nick I'd be right back."
"Okay. Good." Vida swallowed, wincing as Chip headed for the exit. She was starting to see just why Madison had been so reluctant to kiss him—for the first time in years, she and Chip had had an awkward moment.
"Hey, Chip?" she called after him, feeling a desperate need to fix the tension.
He turned, a little too hastily. "Yeah, Vi?"
She stared at him for a moment, trying to think of something to say… but all that came out was, "If you tell anyone about this, I'll tear out your liver and use it to gag you."
Chip merely smiled. "I know, Vi," he said simply, and walked off.