Title: Light House
Characters: Nick, Madison and the rest of the gang.
Disclaimer: Power Rangers and anything associated with it are not mine. I am making no money by writing this- it is for my pure amusement only.
Summary: "And- me. I want you to come back for me." Nick's gone, and Madison is left behind, forced to deal with the loss.
AN: SPOILERS for Mystic Fate. If you haven't seen the finale- be forewarned- it WILL be alluded to. Anyways, my first posted PR fic. I've got several that I'm working on, but once I watched Mystic Fate, this bunny bit and wouldn't let go. It ends up more angsty in this chapter then I'd thought, so if you can't handle angst and adult situations, you might want to skip the ending of this chapter. I hope you enjoy the fic and any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Chapter 1: Fading Away
For the past year, there's always a light on at night in the Rocca house. Just a small lamp, set close to the front window. Nothing too noticable, nothing too bright. Just enough light to produce a slight glow, a slight glimmer in the darkness. Just a small beacon, proclaiming that someone is home- that someone is there, waiting.
Waiting for him to come back.
When Madison first turned the light on, that first night, her father chuckles and turns it off again.
"We don't want to waste electricity, honey," he replies, sending her a pointed look. "We're all off to bed- there's no reason to leave it on."
But Madison clutches her new- Nick's old- blanket to her chest and turned it back on again. "It's just a safety measure, Dad. You know, something to turn away robbers and stuff, because they'll think someone's awake."
"That's what the security system is for, Sunny." Her father uses his old pet name for her, giving her a lazy smile as he turned the lamp off. "It's late, why don't you head up to bed? I'll finish turning the lights off."
"Security systems don't stop magic, Dad," Madison persists, reaching over and turning the light on again. "I'd feel safer this way."
She doesn't want to bring magic in to it. Her parents have actually been pretty understanding about the whole magic and ranger thing- but it's probably best if they don't dwell too much on it. But...if it will win the argument- she'll do it.
Her father's face grows hard at the remark, and she's afraid she went too far. "Madison, honey, that may be so. But if what we've gone through lately is any indication- you and your sister are more than capable witches, with extremely powerful friends at your side. I highly doubt anyone would be as stupid to break in a house with you in it."
"But if they don't know it's us-" She protests.
"Then they're blind, because the mail box next to the door clearly displays our names. And I don't think there are that many blind dark wizards around. We'll be safe." He gets up from his chair, gives her a slight push. "Now off to bed with you. You've got school in the morning."
"But Dad..." She holds her ground. Her wand may be upstairs, but she's picked up how to do some magic wandless in the past weeks. If she has to, she'll cast a spell so that no one will ever turn that light off.
There has to be something for him to come back to, after all.
"But Dad nothing." Mark Rocca steers his daughter towards the stairs. "You're going to school tomorrow morning, and that's final- you've missed a lot these last months."
"I mean the light," she cuts in. And as she says the words, she realizes their double meaning. The light- the Light. Nick. Why couldn't he have just stayed- stayed with her? Everything would be so much easier...
Mark just sighs. "Sunny...just forget it. If you want, I can dig the nightlight out of the closet and put it in your room. But leaving a light downstairs is just pointless. And the bad guys are gone- right? So there's no reason to be scared." He gives her a hug and a kiss on the forehead. "Now go to bed."
"What's going on?"
Father and daughter turn to meet Vida and Vivian Rocca. "Vivian, I'll be right up. I'm just getting Madison to bed." Mark pats her on the shoulder one more time, before letting go. "Up you go- follow your big sister, she'll protect you."
"From what?" Vida snorts.
"We're twins, Dad," Madison counters at the same time.
"From monsters, or whatever," Mark adresses Vida. "And Sunny, she still came out first."
Vivian yawns, walking over to her (younger) daughter, taking her chin in her hands. "Is there something wrong, dear?"
Suddenly Madison feels quite foolish. By magic's sake- it's just a lamp she wants to be left on at night. There's no reason it should have become such a big deal. Maybe she should just forget it.
But then she clutches Nick's blanket to her more closely, feeling the woven cloth, the delicate stiching- most likely done by hand by Udonna- and she decides that she can't let go- because letting go would mean letting go of him.
She will never let go of him.
No matter what.
"I just want to leave the light on, Mom. Just the lamp on the table in the window. You know, it makes it look like we're home and awake and so no one will break in or anything and I'd just feel safer like that..." She plays the scared card for her mother, positive that it will work better than on her father. While Mark has always cared for his daughters, Vivian is the definite motherly figure, always doing every thing she possibly could to make sure her daughters were all right and healthy and safe.
Surely her mom can't resist leaving a light on to help her feel protected.
And Vivian does open her mouth, her eyes filled with love and caring and reassurance. "All right, dear, if-"
"That's ridiculous." Madison and her mother turn towards Vida, who's now leaning against the railling, her pink hair clashing horribly with her bright red robe with palm trees Chip, for some reason, had given her as a birthday present some years ago. Apparently, he claimed it was the favorite robe of some superhero that always reminded him of Vida.Vida had shaken her head- but had accepted the gift anyways.
"Now, Vida..." Vivian began, but Vida interrupted her.
"It's because of Nick, right? You're not scared- you're the one who stood up to Nick when he was about to give up- you're the one who convinced him to face the Master. If you can convince Nick, who's definitely the most stubborn of us all, to go up against the Master of All Evil- if you can fight the Master of All Evil yourself- which you did- then there's no way in hell you're freaked because of some human breaking in. You could deal with a robber in a second, Mads." Vida gestured to the blanket she still clutched in her arms. "You're doing this for Nick. You think...I don't know- that he won't come back if you don't leave the light on? Or that he'll miss the house? Something like that?"
It's rather eerie how Vida can read her mind at times.
And rather annoying.
"Vida!" She hisses, glaring at her sister.
But it's too late, and both her parents are staring at the two of them, confusion evident on their faces. If only Vida could have kept her big mouth shut...
"Nick? Who's that?" Mark asks, crossing his arms.
"Oh, Mark, you know- the new guy our girls have been hanging out with." Vivian frowned slightly- "he's a ranger, isn't he? I thought I saw him with you at the celebrations." Her frown increased. "And isn't he older than you are? I don't mind you two being aroud Xander and Chip- we know both of their families quite well now and you're all in the same grade at school. But I don't know anything about Nick's family- and I thought you mentioned he was older, in College? I don't think it's quite appropiate..."
"Mom," Madison hurried to assure her, "Nick's just turned twenty, so he's just less than three years older and we're just friends-"
"Not for long," Vida coughed, but fell silent at her twin's glare.
"And you have met his parents- his parents are the white ranger and the other red ranger- the Wolf Warrior. And yes, he's been in College for a couple of years now, but since he's come to Briarwood he's been so busy that he hasn't had the time to take a lot of his classes and Vida and I are starting our last year of school soon anyway, so it doesn't matter."
"That makes me feel much better." Both girls turned to look at their father- and then Maddison felt her spirits fall as he continued, "Not. I agree with your mother, Sunny. Being friends with a twenty year-old boy?"
"You didn't seem to mind before you knew we were rangers," she counters. "And I'd think that now you know how capapble I am of protecting myself, you'd be even more okay with it. Nick's a good friend, with honor. He wouldn't try anything- and his parents are really nice and I'm sure you'd like them if you got to know them. It's stupid the way you're acting."
"Madison..:" Her father warns her, but she doesn't care.
"He's one of my best friends, Mom, Dad. And he'll always be there for me, if I need it. He left today to visit his adoptive parents, and I don't know when he'll back and even though he promised that he would come back, I don't know when...and I just wanted to give him something to come back to, something to show that no matter how long he's gone, he'll always be welcome." The words flow out of her, unbidden. She clutches the blanket to her chest, pleading in her eyes, tears beginning to trail down her cheeks.
They have to understand, they just have to. She can't let him go again...
"Very well." Vivian reaches over and flipps the light on. "Very well, Madison." She walks towards her daughter, embracing her in a hug. "It'll be okay, darling, everything will be okay. We'll let you wait for him."
The entire Rocca family then heads up to bed, and Madison falls asleep with thoughts of Nick's return dancing in her head.
The light still burns nightly, and Madison has never forgotten. It's been a year since that fateful day, the day when everything was revealed, including what lie in the heart.
He still hasn't returned.
The rangers still meet up and Chip, Xander and Vida will always be her closest friends. They still visit Rootcore when they can, chatting with Clare (who has greatly improved, though there are still a few things she needs to work on- like landings), practicing with Daggeron, explaining courage to Itassis and playing with both Fireheart and Jenji. Udonna and Llienbow are always looking on, though they rarely join in the training- Nick's last fight against his father is too fresh in their minds.
Nick is the only one missing.
She asks them whenever possible- even calling them up on her wand/cell, asking if they've heard anything from Nick recently. And sometimes they have, though it's never much. He's well, she knows. He's getting his degree, working hard, training when he can, tuning his magic, keeping ready.
But they haven't seen him since he left them.
And it hurts.
She still carries his blanket with her, a constant companion, a constant reminder.
He will be back, she knows. He promised- and Nick always keeps his promises.
It's a sunny day, people frolicking in the streets. A holiday, because of the year before's events. Forest creatures roam the streets. Witches perform parlor tricks, and teach those wishing of their craft. Some take on apprentices. Fairies light up the sky with their dust, sprinkling the world with cheer. Goblins and trolls keep a certain distance from each other, but interact with the humans. There's races in the forest, and hide-and-seek and other games for children. Weaponry for those who have skill- or want to learn the skill of the sword. Story-tellers entertain both realms with various fairy tales and legends, as well as the two great battles of the Light against the Dark.
It's peaceful, everyone living in harmony.
She doesn't fit in.
While Xander and Chip and even Vida have continued their ranger ways, and everyone remembers them as the rangers, she has faded into the background. She hides behind her camera even more now, rarely wearing her signature blue, afraid that someone will remember and single her out.
She just wants to be left alone.
She just wants him.
She films the town square, watching as a little boy and a little girl with the tell-tale ears of an elf play together, battling with sticks from the forest. A woman of the forest has brewed cool drinks and sells them while next to her a man sells hot dogs. She spies Vida and Xander, arguing in front of a tree, while the tree battles with a great wind that only exists around them. It's obvious that Xander has, once again, annoyed her sister and now he's paying for it.
Rolling her eyes, she continues on. She spies Clare, but does not go up to her, preferring to watch her accept a flower from a boy in secret. If Clare is here, she muses, then Udonna and Llienbow are at Rootcore, for they would never leave it completely unattended. She ponders visiting them, getting away from the celebrations that do nothing but make her uncomfortable. Yes, the world is better off and Briarwood has prospered with it's new ties to the forest. But it hurts, to be reminded of it all- to be reminded of him.
But going to visit them- well, they're his parents. Being around them is almost worse, because she knows that he does contact them, see them when he can- exactly the opposite of the way he treats her.
She's jealous. She's jealous of the fact that they have him and she doesn't and to get any info at all, she has to go through them. And she can just tell that they're not telling her everything, that there's something they're hiding.
"Hey, Maddie!" Chip bounds on over to her, bringing her out of her thoughts. "Having fun?"
"Just filming," she says, sending him a hesitant smile. Because, no, this is not fun, watching everyone else celebrate when her heart feels like ice.
"You miss him," Chip says, his eyes trained on her. "Don't deny it, Maddie, we all know. But- you can't keep hiding, letting the world pass on by. You need to get out there, have some fun!" Chip, like Vida, always had an uncanny ability to read her. Probably because they had grown up together, and Xander had always been more focused on Vida than the timid Maddie, which meant that Chip and Maddie were often thrown together when Xander and Vida were having another spat, or were actually, for once, being nice to one another.
"I am having fun," she replies, patting the camera. "I enjoy filming."
"Yeah, sure. But you're not having fun, Madison, and it's obvious. You're a ranger, too- you ought to be joining in."
"With what- picking on Xander?" She snaps back, but Chip just grins.
"No, you better leave that out. But- this is for us- doesn't it seem weird if one of the guests of honor is just hanging about in the shadows?"
"They don't consider me a ranger anymore, Chip," she breathes out. "Ask anyone- you guys are the three that people remember. You and Nick, that is- and Nick's gone. They just figure that the blue ranger left with him or something. Not even my parents really consider me a ranger, anymore."
"But we do," Chip argues, a hand on her shoulder. "You'll always be part of the team. You'll always be welcome at Rootcore, you'll always be a part of the Mystic Force. Who cares what the rest of the people think?" And seeing how Chip had been ridiculed for most of his high school life, due to his love of 'childish' superheroes and comics and running around with pillow cases attached to his back- he would know.
It still didn't help much, though.
The fact was, she has barely used her magic in the last year- she doesn't even carry her wand around anymore. She has (purposefully) distanced herself from the world she considered home for a year, in a misguided attempt to deal with her loss.
Stupid, yes. But it...well, it hasn't really had dulled the pain any, but it makes her resolve stronger, at least. She isn't going to deal with magic until Nick comes back. It would hurt too much, otherwise...
Too many memories of them learning spells, battles, hanging out in Rootcore- it's overwhelming.
She won't- can't deal with it.
Not without him.
It's simpler that way.
"Look, Maddie, come with me. You don't have to morph or anything. Just stand with us. Acknowledge your power- your destiny. Like it or not, you are the Blue Mystic Ranger." Chip, for all his joking and immaturity at times, really does have a serious side- and she is getting it at full blast. Before Nick came, Chip and Xander were her brothers- not in blood, but in heart. Then they all became rangers and she wanted to put Nick into that roll- it sure would have been easier.
But she couldn't.
And then she realized that what started out as a crush, and brotherly feelings- were not as simple as they seemed.
Nick brought out the best- and worst- in her.
Nick taught her to leave her shell, to stop hiding.
Nick taught her to stand up to others.
She needed him.
No, more than that. She loved him.
And it's terrifying, to love someone so much, and not know if they feel the same. It's even worse to love someone and face losing them. It's down right horrible to confess your love and then lose him.
He'll be back. He promised.
Promised, promised, promised.
Nick doesn't break promises.
But then where is he?
This entire day is a joke- without Nick, there wouldn't be a team, there wouldn't be a world. Celebrating while he's away, it's pointless. Sure, they were a team. Are a team, her mind corrects, but even a team needs a leader. And Nick was their leader- and so much more. The Light burning in the Darkness, making the world safe.
And she refuses to enjoy herself while he's still gone.
"No, Chip." She twists away from him. "I appreciate you not closing me out, you wanting me to be part of the team. But- I just can't deal with it. I'd just be the odd one out- no one would care about me. They'd all think that I'm just some imposter, some damn stand-in, some damn fan-girl. I'm not going to reduce myself to that, Chip. I'm not going to honor the rangers when not all are even here. Nick- he deserves it more than the rest of it combined and you know it- but where is he? No one cares, Chip- no one except me, and so if I have to mourn all by myself, then I will. You go, have fun, be a ranger again. Go ahead and morph and put on a show. But I'm not going to be there."
There are tears in her eyes, tears that slowly begin to fall as she finishes. This- this pain- it's too much. Her mother has been telling her for weeks to go out and 'have some fun', to stop staying in her room studying, stop working whenever she can, so that she rarely has a free moment to just sit and think- to remember, to brood- because that's all she saw it as. How many times had Vivian come into her room, picked her up from work, taken her out, just to get her mind off of...things?
The magic conversations had been frequent at first, Vivian wishing to understand what her daughters had went through that last year, what potential they had, what their future might hold. And then she had quickly transitioned into wanting to know everything about her daughter's MIA almost-boyfriend, who she still wasn't comfortable with the idea of. It had taken a lot of convincing from pretty much everyone to finally get her to except that Nick, while several years older than her daughter, was an upstanding young man, courageous, loyal, honorable- and that he definitely cared for Madison and would in no way intentionally cause her harm. He just seemed to be...well, missing, because he had another family, who- while not of blood- was of heart and had raised him to be the man he was, and he owed them explanations.
After a few months, though, Vivian had gotten off of the Nick topic, and now magic- or he- was rarely discussed. Vida is the one who does all the magic in the Rocca house now, not necessarily flaunting it, but making its presence known. Madison sometimes wonders if her parents even realize she can still do magic, so much time has passed by since she last did anything in front of them.
Now she's completely out of practice and doesn't even know if she could handle a simple Banishing spell. Her wand is stuck in her jewellry box, and while the light stays on every night in the living room, she heard her parents wondering the other night why they had left the light on so long- and if they just shouldn't turn it off.
Turning it off would be giving up.
And Madison Christine Rocca does not give up.
He will come back, and then everything will be okay.
She just needs to wait.
"Madison..." Chip sighs, but keeps his distance. "Okay. Just- don't be too hard on yourself. He will be back, you know. Just don't forget to live in the meantime."
"I won't," she whispers, and watches him stride away, his cape fluttering in the wind.
The festivities have grown at the onset of darkness. Tents filled with tables for food, areas set aside for dancing, Toby contributing rock music on speakers, while Vida DJs and a quintet of forest dwellers plays jigs. She has it all on tape- Phineas teaching Leelee some goblin dance, while Toby and Necrolai- Neci- dance to Vida's beat. Xander's hanging out with some girls while Chip and Clare keep on falling over their own feet. Even her parents have joined in a dance, a slow waltz to some kind of flute and string instrument two fairies play.
She's the only one not joining in.
She keeps to the shadows, zooming in on her friends. Necrolai looks ridiculous dancing to rock and roll, while Vida has finally given into temptation and has stopped DJing, stomping over to Xander to give him a piece of her mind. "And there's Vida on the warpath- I surely wouldn't want to be Xander right now. You know, for two supposed friends, their behavior is much more-"
"Excuse me?" She turns to a guy standing next to her, breaking her out of her video-making reverie. He's tall, with blonde hair and green eyes and dressed in jeans and a nice shirt and he looks kind of nice, if she was actually looking for a date- which she isn't. Plus he pales in comparison when compared to Nick.
"Yes?" She sets down the camera. "Is there anything I can help you with?"
"Actually," he says, flashing her a grin, "there is. I noticed that you're missing a partner and I'd love to dance with you-"
"No thanks," she replies, moving to leave. "I'm not interested."
"Hey- wait a second." He reaches out, grasps her shoulder. "I asked you for a dance- the least you could do is accept it."
"And I said no," she replies, writhing out of his grasp- or at least attempting to. His fingers dig into her shoulder, causing a burst of pain. "Let me go-"
"You're such a bitch, you know that? A whore who dresses up as a lady and leads guys on and then stamps on them when they show any interest- well, I'm not falling for it." He grabs at her with his other arm, pulling her closer to him. There's no one near to them, she purposefully picked out the secluded spot to film in, and since the music is so loud, no one would hear her scream.
"I don't-" She protests once again, before he's shoving his lips on hers.
This is her first kiss- and yet instead of having it with Nick, something she's dreamed about for almost two years now- it's with a stranger who's forcing himself on her.
Nick. Magic. Her wand- they're all gone. Damn it, why did she leave her wand at home? She hasn't practiced magic in so long there's no way she's going to pull off anything without it. And the way his legs have captured hers- she doesn't have a limb free.
She can't fight him off.
No no no no no no.
This- it can't be happening. She's a Mystic Ranger, for magic's sake. She's gone up against the Master himself and survived- and now some human is taking advantage of her.
"Boys, over here!" He calls out as he removes his mouth from hers, and she bites back the bile that rises in her throat. There has to be something she can do- but as three more men step out from the shadows, she knows she's in deep trouble. One guy she might be able to handle in her current, terribly out of practice, state.
Nick... Her mind calls for him, reaching out for him. It's pointless, she knows. If he hasn't come in the last year, he's not going to come now. She's alone, abandoned. And the thing is- she doesn't blame him. She just blames herself for getting into this mess- for having her guard down. It's her own fault, whatever happens to her.
"Nice catch, Marty." One of the guys comes over, runs a hand over her cheek.
She closes her eyes, turns away.
He doesn't like that, grabbing her chin and forcing her to look at him. "You be good, you hear me? And this will all be over soon." She flinches, but keeps her eyes open. Marty- the guy who holds her- rubs up against her, and she gasps at the foreign feeling. He can't be doing what she thinks he is, can he? That would just be too ironic- a ranger getting freaking raped at her own commemorative.
Not that she's really considered herself a ranger lately.
It's her own stupidity that got her into this in the first place.
"Leave me alone!" She shouts, thrashing in his grasp. "Let me go, you f-"
She stops short. The second guy has a knife to her neck.
Not good- not good at all.
She is, at this point, completely screwed.
"This will go fast, if you just behave." The man keeps the knife on her neck, the metal cold against her pulse. "Get on with it Marty, and then it's my turn."
"And then we're up!" The others chime in from the back.
Please help me...
"Then you've got to hold her down for me, Rick. Can't do this when she's thrashing."
Nick...Come to me...
She's forced down onto the ground, the cement digging into her back, as her hands are ripped above her head and her legs are pinned down by the two others. "This won't take long, bitch, and then you can get on with your pathetic, f-"
And in the middle of taking his own pants off, Marty is- literally- frozen.
The other three men turn around in confusion and she raises her head, squinting in the dim light. A golden spell seal fades into the ground, and- it's Nick standing there, wand pointed at the immobile Marty.
"What the f-" Rick says, before he is thrown from her body with a blast of magic.
"Get away from her!" And in a second, the other two guys are tossed against a wall, and Nick's kneeling over her.