AN: It's been forever since I updated this, I know. I ended up with some writer's block, forgot about the fic for awhile, got sick a few times, ended up with a lot to do in Uni, plus some personal issues that came up and stuff. Basically, my life is...complicated, to say the least, and I have a horrible time focusing on just one fic. Which is why I currently have about five in progress fics I need to work on as well as bunnies for about fifty more and why my updates are usually sporadic. Just please be patient, know that I'm not abandoning this and if it takes me a couple months to update, feel free to poke/PM/email/IM me and remind me that I need to work on this. Because unless I have writer's block and am completely stuck, usually that will get me typing. Anyways, I've gone on enough. I explained some magical theory in this chapter, so if you have problems understanding it, please mention it and I will do my best to explain it to you. Have fun reading and comments are much appreciated.

Chapter 3: Interwoven

He's never been so scared.

Even when monsters were attacking practically daily- he never was this scared. Sure, he'd be worried and sometimes downright terrified with the thought that if he failed- as the Light, as the Red Mystic Ranger- he'd be at fault for the world lying in ruins. But he always had her to keep him grounded, to keep from running away or giving up or failing.

Now he doesn't have her.

This time she's the one he has to save.

He can't deal with it.

He tries- oh, he tries. But spending the last year away from her, and the way his feelings have grown- it's too much. It feels like he's already lost a part of her, and that if he makes just one teensy-weensy mistake- he's going to lose her completely.

He can't do that.

He can't lose her.

So while his parents bustle around, and try to save the girl- woman- he's in love with- he stands back and does nothing.

He flees.

He freaking flees.

He's such a coward...

"Bowen," his mother calls him, and hesitantly he looks up. Only she insists on calling him that. Both his father and Daggeron have long ago realized that he hasn't been Bowen in twenty years- and he probably never will be again. Yes, he is the Light, and his parents' child, but the name simply doesn't fit him anymore. In the ancient language of the forest, "Bowen" means "Child of Light". "Bow" is equal to "light" and "En" is stuck on names for children. His father's name, Llienbow, means "warrior of Light", "llien" being the male form of "warrior".

He's no longer a child.

His parents didn't even know him as a child.

Yet his mother holds on to the childhood name, as if somehow it could bring back what she lost.

It's too late.

And she's too blind to see.

"Yes, Mom?" He tries to convince himself that it's just a term of endearment, just like his other (adopted) mother calls him "sweetie" and other rather embarrassing names. But it's hard, even more when he doesn't really have the same relationship with her, like he does with his father.

He gets his dad, now. After spending time under the Master's influence, he finally understands what it was like for him, all those years. At least he kept his memories- but his dad did not have that option. It's cold under the Master's influence. Icy abandon, which robs you of any hesitations and freedom you might have had. It's not an experience he would want to repeat- he would want anyone to repeat. And he understands, finally, what it must have been like for his father all those years under the Master's control- what it must have been like to fight your own family without realizing who they were.

It wasn't exactly easy to start the relationship with his dad, but they made it work. And now he trusts him and confides in him and he's open to learning from him.

His mother, though...

Getting new parents takes time. He had never really given too much thought to his birth parents, and learning- suddenly, in the middle of a battle- that not only the guy who's currently got a sword to your neck is your father, but that the woman who's been mentoring you the last months is actually your mother is shocking, to say the least.

She didn't make it any easier.

He's always been a quiet person, rather introverted. Moving often as a child, ending up with various relatives, also the incidents that now he knows was his magic, but at the time were quite strange and occasionally frightening- all these factored into him keeping pretty much everything close to his chest, and not letting others in.

Udonna didn't- and still doesn't- get that.

At first she saw him as a Mystic Ranger, and treated him and the others as if they were her students- which they were. That didn't bother him, because he did eventually grow to see her as a mentor, someone he might be able to trust. But suddenly, without giving him any time to adjust or think it over, she announces that he's her long-lost son.

And she wouldn't let it go.

On one hand, he doesn't blame her. After all, he had been missing for the better part of twenty years, and what mother wouldn't want to have her son again, after such a long parting?

But

Immediately slipping into the role of his mother, immediately carrying on as if perhaps a week had passed, and not twenty years- these are what put him off, what threatened to push him away. He turned twenty years-old, he had a mother- and he still was a bit hesitant towards the whole magical world/dimension thing. It took Daggeron about an hour to decide that in reality, nothing had really changed. But his mother...

She still doesn't get it.

His (other) mom, she gets it. Well, as much as someone who never really believed in magic until he confessed all his adventures in Briarwood can understand. But she at least understands that he's twenty-one now, an adult, in College, and needs his freedom- and gives him that freedom. She doesn't expect him to be a memory of what he once was, what once could have been. She's been understanding towards the magic, and his (real) parents and Briarwood and the Forest and all in all, he's relieved that she isn't trying to force him into a world- or even a situation- that he doesn't belong in.

He hates that it's beginning to ruin his relationship with Udonna- but he can't help his feelings.

It's just...

"Come inside, it's cold out there." She's suddenly behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder as he stares out into the forest. High up in the tree, perched on a wooden balcony, he has been trying to control his magic- to call it back from Madison, so that she has her own chance to heal. He needs the fresh air, to give him some semblance of peace of mind, to keep him from going insane inside, where he knows Madison is dying and there's nothing he can do about it.

Everyone else respects that he needs his space at the moment. Even Vida, who's still extremely pissed at him, for just about everything.

But not her.

Not his 'mother'.

"I'm fine." He moves away, climbs up on the railing. Yes, it is about a fifty feet drop, but he's got a wand, and he knows his broom will come if he calls. That and the fact that he doesn't really care at the moment what happens.

And it definitely worries his mom.

"Come down, Nick. You'll fall."

He stays up a few seconds more, just to prove that he's not getting down because she asked him to, but because he felt like it. Yes, he realizes he's being childish.

He doesn't care.

Right now, the one thing that is on his mind is Madison.

She's the one thing that is always is on his mind.

"Son, you need to come in here." Suddenly, his father's standing there, and he's thankful for the distraction. "Something's not right."

Or maybe he shouldn't be so thankful...


She should be getting better.

When a magical being does not use their magic, turns themselves away from magical artifacts and, well, tries to be "normal"- it works to an extent. The magical core weakens, becomes dormant and eventually, under grave circumstances, can disappear completely, leaving the victim free from their magic. The problem, however, is that the magical core isn't some separate thing inside your body; it's connected to your heart, your lungs, your brain, everything that makes you 'you'. It's why using powerful spells leave you light heated, or out of breath. Just as running miles causes you to gasp for air, so does magic, if you use too much. There's magical endurance, after all. Everyone's born with a center core of magic- what separates the magicians and the masses is training- and, of course, how much magic you have. Magical levels vary from person to person, and a five year-old sorceress can beat a fifty-year-old magician, if she has more magic and therefore can last longer than he can- no matter how many spells he throws at her.

Therefore, not using magic is like not using your legs. Paraplegic patients must still do exercises for their legs, even if they do not use them anymore. The same principal is in magic- even if you do not plan on really using it, you must keep 'in shape'. If you plan on never using your magic again, it's risky, but eventually, your core will drain away. The only question is how long it will take- and what physical state you'll be in afterwards. It isn't necessarily life threatening, but it can be- and it's dangerous in any case. You can't just ignore Magic.

Problem is Madison did. And then, after ignoring it for a year, she used it again. Oh, had she tried to light a candle or something, she would have been fine. Probably a bit of lightheadedness, or something- but she wouldn't have fallen unconscious. But Madison, quite foolishly, really, did mind-magic. Mind-Magic is one of the most powerful kinds of magic out there. Linking two minds together, especially over a great distance, and when the two minds are from two separate beings unsuspecting of the link- that's powerful stuff. Even Nick would have trouble doing it consciously, without getting at least a headache. The fact that Madison did it unconsciously, as well, and that she did it strong enough to literally pull him to her- it's not only amazing, but it drained her completely. Her magic was already dwindling from lack of use. And now she used too much of it to call him and bring him to her.

She used up her magic- and therefore she basically 'used up' her life. Nick, having studied this months prior, knew the effects. He acted, pushing his magic into her, to stabilize her for the moment, to give her magic some time to replenish itself. Unfortunately, while it did, sort of, keep her alive, it wasn't enough to fully sustain her.

Now she's unconscious, fading quickly, and everyone's at a loss of what to do.

Rootcore has never seemed so solemn.

"I just don't understand it, Udonna. These replenishing potions should help her, as well as all the stasis spells you have on her. So why isn't she getting any better at all?" Clare ladles out another cup full of potion and pours it down Madison's throat, holding her nose shut so that the young girl will swallow.

"I don't know, Clare." The elder sorceress stands, bowing her head. "I do not know, and this is greatly troubling. There is nothing in the Xenotome or any other books about what to do when stasis spells and replenishing potions fail. We...have no other option than to remove the spells from her and let her pass peacefully."

"Wait- so you mean that there's nothing you can do? My daughter's stuck dead? I thought you people were poweful- that you could fix this mess! If it weren't for you, Madison would never have gotten involved in any of this nonsense. And now look at her- she's dying, if not already dead, and you're telling me that you're giving up and that I should just watch my daughter die?"

Vivian Rocca stands from cradling Madison's head. "I refuse to let you let her die. There must be something else that you missed, that was done wrong, or- or something!" Tears trail down her pale cheeks, and it is evident where Madison gets her delicate features from. He hates to see this woman so upset, but there is nothing that he can do. He put her in the stasis, and now it is up to Madison to come out if it- if able. Ironic, really, how by saving herself from getting raped, she ended up possibly killing herself.

"There's nothing," he chokes out- and suddenly all the attention is on him. "I- I put her in the stasis as soon as I found her, Mrs. Rocca. I hoped that it would be enough- that using my magic to stabilize her would keep her from any too terrible side-effects. I- I was wrong," he finishes, his gaze on the floor. "I failed- failed the woman I promised never to fail- and I have to live with it. Do you not think that if there were any way of saving her, I would do it? I would give my own life for hers, if I were able to, ma'am. She's a friend, a teammate, and more to me- I hate this as much as you do, but-"

"Nick." Llienbow steps forwards, interrupting, "you put her into the stasis, correct?"

"Correct..." He trails off, frowning. "Why?"

"Because- we're idiots, we never thought it over. But tell me, Nick- did you withdraw your power from her?"

What the... He pauses, thinks. Putting someone in a stasis is like taking a blanket- made of your magic- and throwing it over them. It's not complicated, once you get the hang of it, and this wasn't by far the first time he had to do it. It can slow down blood loss, reduce pain, save someone from dying- it's wrapping someone in your magic and not letting the outside world- or their own magic, for that matter- do anything. You have taken them over, in essence. Removing the stasis is simple- you break the link. You simply do not think of the stasis anymore. The magic returns to you, they regain conscious- or at least the state they were in when you put them in the stasis. It's fairly simple to do. And the first thing he did when arriving in Rootcore was take off the stasis. He didn't think about it- he just did it.

And yet- Madison is still behaving like she's in his stasis.

...It makes no sense.

"Yes, I did. I didn't even have to think about it- I just did it. I laid her down, broke the connection. I- but she's still in the stasis, isn't she?"

The other three rangers and one lone non-sorceress look confused- as well as Clare. But realization slowly begins to dawn on Udonna's face. "You're right- that's why nothing is working. She- oh no, oh no. I think- I know what she did."

Llienbow nods at his wife. "Exactly. It's something we never thought of, but it does make sense. Tell me, Nick," he turns to his son, "you have a bond with her, correct? After all, she was able to transport you quite a ways without your help, and entered your mind to do so. If that isn't a sign of an extremely powerful and deep bond, I don't know what is."

"Yes..." He trails off. It's true- it's part of why he left. With such a strong bond between them, and with Madison only a child at the time- he needed to leave, less they end up doing something neither wanted. The older you get, the easier it is to train and deal with a bond. Bonds, especially non-platonic ones, are extremely powerful, and also quite volatile. He could feel the beginnings of the bond when he left- had been feeling it for awhile, actually- and while at the time, he didn't know what it meant, he knew that he had to find out. And once he did, well, it only strengthened his resolve to stay away until she was at least of legal age.

And the way that she played on that bond- it was proof that he did the right thing. Her mind reached out for his, her magic pulled him...

Suddenly he understood.

"Fire and water, right? Opposite elements, playing on each other. She's not letting go- she can't let go. Her magic won't allow it. I'm not affected, because I've been using my magic, so it's just like keeping a simple spell going. But because she still has my magic in her, her own magic won't replenish and she can't heal."

"Exactly right, Bowen." He'll ignore the name thing for now... "You must fully remove your magic from hers, not just the stasis. Once you do so, the other stasis spells and the replenishing potion should begin to work on her."

"You mean she's not going to die? She will live?" It's as if Vivian doesn't even dare voice the words.

"We think so, yes." Llienbow speaks up. "She still will remain unconscious for several hours- maybe even days. She really did overdo it. But at least she will begin to heal on her own."

"Thank you, oh my God, thank you." Vivian pulls Vida into her arms, clutching her, as both of them cry in joy. Xander and Chip share an extremely relieved look, and Clare grins again. But Nick doesn't pay too much attention- he has something to do. Kneeling next to the cot Madison is in, he reaches for her hand and clasps it, before closing his eyes, imagining their intertwined magics.

He's done this before, though not to this extent. Lending people magic doesn't usually end up like this. He once lent Sandra some of his magic, just so she could see what it was like. He taught her how to call flame into her hand and how to manipulate it into simple shapes, before taking it back from her. The process was easy- closing his eyes, searching in his mind to pull out the red threads from his core, and to pass them to her over their clutched hands and taking it back the same way. Without Sandra's own magic interfering, the procedure was simple.

But Madison doesn't want to give the power back. Madison wants to keep it, and her magic refuses to let him pull it back as he did with Sandra. This...is not going to be easy, in the least.

But he'll do it, because he has to.

He'll do it, because he loves her.