Disclaimer: Yeah, I don't own Power Rangers. Sad, huh? It'd be a lot different if I did. Less needless carbon-copying, more romance, real drama, a little depth, some of that continuity stuff, all that good junk. But what can you do? PR belongs to the Mouse, so we take what we can get, I guess.
Everything was warm, always so warm. Just a perk of being a fire element, he guessed. Of course, he never would've even thought about such a thing until a few months ago. Back then, he didn't believe in magic or have any real friends, let alone a girlfriend, and he never stayed in one place for too long. It was amazing how much could change in a few short months.
Magic was a huge part of his life now, permeating everything around him, even beyond the boundaries of Rangerdom. It felt completely natural to him to say a few words, point his wand and just make things happen, something he would've felt silly just thinking about a year or two ago. Until that first fateful day in Briarwood, he would vehemently deny that such a thing could exist, mostly because of his own experiences, all negative. His early uses of magic, in hindsight, were out of his control. Now they weren't, and that was all that he needed. Magic was something he'd live with for the rest of his life.
Not just plain magic, though - he was a follower of one of the core five branches. He followed the path of fire, the magic that a magician named Ignos had forged eons ago. To others, the path may have seemed dangerous, an accident waiting to happen, but to him it was just second nature. He'd always enjoyed fires, from that first tiny candle his mother had bought for him in Scandinavia that he'd watched for hours, to the huge bonfires that his grandparents held every year with family and friends. The warmth was comforting to even, always there when things were the worst. He felt at peace when he was close to a fire.
That wasn't where it ended. The core five branches, along with the five others still in practice, were based on light magic, on honor and loyalty and truth and all of those good things, but his magic wasn't limited by that. By way of a series of predestined events, he had access to both the light and dark aspects of magic, both of which blended together to make something completely original - balanced magic. It was both sides and neither, but it still applied to his specific branch. It gave him the ability to learn neutral spells with greater ease and spells of other branches with less difficulty.
His magic extended beyond just that of spells and Ranger powers, too. It affected odd little bits of his life with side affects associated closely with his branch. Whether they were natural developments, or tailored toward him specifically because of his lofty status as an elemental avatar, they were interesting, in both good and bad ways.
Even on the coldest of days, he could pass with a t-shirt and jeans. It wasn't that he didn't like it; the heat was comfortable to him, and he hardly noticed it anymore. He could be asleep in a burning building and not notice. Intense heat didn't bother him anymore, but the constant aura of warmth he lived with didn't. Sometimes he just wanted to feel a cool breeze on his face. It had taken him weeks of practice, but he'd started to be able to turn it off, to stop being a human space heater.
That wasn't the only perk of his powers, though. Udonna didn't know what the extent of any of their abilities were, being unprecedented cases within the realm of magic, and he'd wanted to test his boundaries. One boring Saturday afternoon, a load of firewood and his own finger as a match later, he knew that he was completely impervious to the devastating effects of his element. Walking through the bonfire he'd started completely untouched was a pretty stunning feat.
Of course, there was always the healing; it was how he saved Madison and Vida, and it was apparently a gift from his patron Titan, Ignos. It was a strange feeling in itself, like a hollow in his chest filled with quivering energy. Odd, to be sure, but nothing he couldn't deal with when magic was apart of his everyday life.
All the thought about his powers always led him to a question, though, one he often wondered: why had Ignos chosen him specifically? What made him worthy to be a Power Ranger, let alone the Red Ranger and avatar of an Ancient? He knew that he'd had some sort of special power since he was little, what with all the 'incidents' he caused, but what made him so special that he could access the magic within himself without consciously deciding to, even as a child? He was just the quiet, stubborn kid who did what he wanted and wasn't out to please anyone but himself. His kind were a dime a dozen among teenagers. It wasn't that he didn't love it - just being a wizard was enough - but he had to wonder if there were better candidates out there sometimes.
His powers weren't all quirky little side affects and fun times, though; they could be tiring, too. He constantly had to be aware of everything, had to keep his temper in check so no one would get hurt. Of all of the elements, fire had the potential to do the greatest damage without warning or hesitation, and he could be just as random. Small things could fall together and set him off just as easily, but he was hard to set off without outside interference. It was something he'd accepted and something he'd have to live with for the rest of his life.
Destiny was something he was learning to accept, too. His was larger than he could've ever imagined. It was hard to believe that he was destined for such big things when he was just another teenager, another magician among the hundreds of thousands in the magical realm. Red Mystic Force Ranger, the Light, Avatar of Ignos, Legendary Magician of Fire, the greatest wizard to ever live - all titles he'd been given, some before he was even born. Some people would collapse under such a tremendous burden, but he persevered as best as he could, his friends and family there to support him when it all seemed so surreal and more than he could handle. It was difficult to believe that he was that powerful, that he was the key to winning this age-old war, when he felt so normal, like any other person he passed in the street.
Still, this was the hand that fate had dealt him, and he wasn't about to fight it. You didn't fight fate, and he wasn't one to run away. He'd stand his ground against his enemies until death and beyond.
Calm - such a nice word. It seemed to fit her to a T, at least when there wasn't a huge problem to deal with. She broke the trend when worse came to worse, but even in the middle of crisis she could usually hold together an only slightly fractured facade. A calmness always underlaid her other emotions, bringing a steadiness to them no matter if they were joy or anger.
Even was another word she'd choose, ever like the tides moving in and out in an eternal rhythm. It kept her in tune with everything, in synch with all that her metaphorical waves touched upon. She guessed that was why she liked film-making so much - it kept her aware of everybody and everything around her. Her films documented the world as she observed it.
The more she thought about it and read books on the elements from Root Core, the more her own made sense to her. She'd always exhibited signs of your typical water element, now that she looked at it - emphatic, peaceful, a little shy, intuitive and artistic in her own way. It was as if she'd been born destined to be a water, and the avatar for the source of all water magic, nonetheless.
It was certainly odd to think about how she'd been chosen before she was even born, how each of them had been chosen to defend two worlds from impending doom, or something to that effect. Seers had long foretold their existence, but had never been specific about who was to be chosen. By the way the pieces fell together, it was easy to assume that they been chosen not long before their births, the Ancients knowing of the escalating war between good and evil magic and its future threat. Fate, destiny, whatever you pleased, drove them all together when their destinies called, creating the force that had been awaited for ages and promised to bring down the terror of the darkness for good. To be someone of prophesied existence was hard to wrap her brain around sometimes, but she could see why their patron Ancients had chosen each of them even before they were born and despite their origins.
Even as a child, trips to the beach had enraptured her. Something about the waves drew her in seductively. It was just natural, the way the tiny walls of water crashed against the sand, and it captured her every time.
Once, on a flight to Hawaii, she'd stared out the window for the long hours of the trip, mesmerized by the seemingly endless miles of ocean spanning out beneath them. Even from tens of thousands of miles up, the great body of water extended forever, and so did her attention to it. She'd never once broken her gaze on it until the moment they landed and it was no longer in plain view.
To this day, it had a calming effect on her to see the ocean, or any body of water large enough to gaze into. Living so close to a beach was the best possible thing for her. Its spellbinding power drew her in and held her indefinitely, another grain of sand caught in the waves. She would eventually break herself away, but the pull when she was around it was constant.
Sometimes, when under its power, she swore she could see more than just lapping waves. Other images came and went in haphazard flashes, some of things she'd never seen and others of events she knew hadn't happened yet. Once, on an exceptionally hot summer day, their mother had taken both her and Vida to the beach to get them out of the house. They'd spent hours there, frolicking between the sand and water, building castles and burying Maddie so that Vida could make a sand mermaid overtop of her, ironic now that she looked back at it.
Throughout all of the fun, something kept drawing her gaze back to the water, an image of Vida sitting around their house with a cast on her arm. It had been something easy to brush off then, although it did leave a strange feeling lingering in the back of her mind. The rest of their little trip wrapped up splendidly and they went home, Maddie nearly forgetting about what she'd seen in the waves.
A week passed and it was pushed farther and farther back into the recesses of her mind. She barely gave it a thought until one day when she, Chip and Vida were playing in the park and Chip dared Vida to climb the tallest tree. Vida, being the kind of person she was even at the age of eight, took the dare despite the bad feelings Maddie was getting. Only a few branches up, one snapped, leaving the young girl to plummet to the ground.
Fortunately, she managed to break the fall with her arm, but it had definitely broken. Chip left a terrified Maddie with her twin, who was trying to hold back the tears of pain so her sister wouldn't cry more, so he could go find their mom. One day and a lot of explanations and apologies later, Maddie's vision had come true: she walked into their living room to see Vida moping on the couch because their mother wouldn't allow her to play outside and because the doctor had made her cast pink and green when she'd asked specifically for yellow and green.
For many years, Maddie couldn't help but wonder if Vida's accident had been her fault, if she was the one causing these visions to come true, especially when she found out no one else could see them. When she'd learned that, she'd stopped telling people about them and simply started feeling bad, thinking they were her fault. For a while, she'd feared for her sanity, but Vida, the one person she'd told, had calmly laid to rest any such thoughts. Whatever it was, it wasn't insanity, she'd said, and Maddie had believed her, never knowing her sister to lie to her.
Only when they'd become Rangers and magicians those few months back had everything over the years truly made sense. Her visions weren't due to insanity, but because Blue Magicians were the diviners of the magical world and therefore more open to precognitive visions and the like. The strange affinities toward water were just that - her irrevocable connection to her element. All of the small, unexplainable miracles were her powers simply trying to manifest themselves in a world that didn't believe in them. In the end, though, that was all they needed to make sense of everything - a little belief.
If there was one thing he wasn't, it was still. Not many people could recall more than half a dozen times where he'd been calm and quiet, a perfectly behaved young man. He was, in fact, quite the opposite and it cleared showed through his powers and behaviors. Sometimes he felt like if he stopped moving, he'd just fizzle out, let all of his pent up energy die.
The fact was, like the lightning he represented, he was pure energy. Sure, Vida helped ground him, along with his other friends, but light could never be captured permanently. It was always going somewhere, doing something, and it either escaped or burned out eventually. He was exactly like that - he could stay up for seventy-two straight hours on energy alone, small doses of caffeine being taken in as the hours dragged on, and then he would crash on the nearest couch or bed for almost eighteen hours. Everyone tried to keep this to a minimum, but the energy was contagious. Around him, you felt alive, if not a little immature, and so did he.
It was possible to truly ground him, though, and that was when it was nearly impossible to bring him back up. When his parents and sister had died, it had been weeks before he'd even shown signs of his former energy. Vida and Madison had tried everything to bring him out of it, being the good friends they were, but their efforts had done little to help him besides providing support and company. It had simply taken him time to once again gather the scattered pieces of his life and return to the semblance of normalcy he'd retained.
Life certainly hadn't been the same afterwards; living with his uncle on a farm was a huge change from living in the suburbs with his parents and Elly, his older sister. He'd returned to his high-spirited self completely after a few months, having adjusted to how his life was now. There wasn't a day that passed where he didn't wonder why he, out of the four of them, had been the sole survivor. It had bothered him for years, but being a Ranger had brought a shred of light to the situation: it was his destiny. He was meant to live, to fight the darkness now and protect other people from losing loved ones to a different kind of terror. He'd accepted this small truth and moved on to a certain degree, but the pain would never leave him.
His destiny, though, was something he never thought possible. Like the many fantasy novels he'd buried himself in to escape reality, he was a wizard now, a practitioner of what was thought to be impossible in the modern world. Every day, the extent of his powers didn't fail to amaze him. His could turn on a computer by merely looking at it, and six alarm clocks had been ruined in his morning fervor. Fortunately his uncle was too absent-minded to notice, or he'd be suspicious as to why electronics seemed to turn themselves on in his nephew's presence.
Even small things like static electricity could be a problem on drier days, and he was thankful that they didn't live somewhere where it got really cold and dry each winter or he'd have been screwed. Little things like plastic and loose animal fur already drifted toward him, drawn in by the small electrical charge his body built up naturally, so to live in a drier climate would have been akin to chaos for him.
The skill yellow magicians were best known for even managed to reflect his personality: potion-making. The whole art was a creative venture, pulling together an assortment of ingredients to create something new. It took quite the imagination and a memory of the arcane to master such a skill, and he'd barely grazed the surface. Until their rescue mission in the Underworld, he hadn't been very good at his magical trade, but a little motivation could get someone a long way. The Dawn Crystal he'd made was actually one of the most complicated forms of potions - one that changed from liquid to solid. It had taken all of his concentration, something not easy to muster from someone like him, but when Vida's life was on the line, it was nothing.
Since then, he'd been working on perfecting this skill, and he was getting better. Someday, he would master it, and then he'd become what he had always been destined to be: the most powerful Yellow Magician to exist.
She swore she could almost fly. It'd almost happened so many times, but her powers didn't cover that, at least not by what she'd discovered so far. The idea itself was fascinating - to spread her arms and rise into the sky, free from earthly bindings. While Maddie was entranced by the waves as they soared over the ocean as children, she'd sat perfectly still, imagining that it wasn't the plane that held her aloft but her own power, the very force of her will holding her above the earth's pull. All she'd managed to do now was hover ten or twenty feet about the ground, but she was sure she'd be able to get it eventually.
Maybe it was just fate, but every part of her element clicked with her, even the color she'd once hated. Like her infamous hair color, it was ever-changing, reflecting her on-a-dime mood swings and dye jobs. Even when it wasn't trying, it was a force to be reckoned with and spontaneous, too.
In her worst moments, when everything came together the wrong way, she was the tornado she could so literally become. Everything in her path was torn to shreds regardless of guilt of innocence, save for a few things she could never destroy whether she wanted to or not. Most everyone in the few grades above and below her own at school were aware, some painfully so, of these dangerous moods and knew to avoid them like the plague.
In the same way that she was a destructive force to be reckoned with, she too had a gentler side, one usually reserved for close friends and family. She wasn't all tornadoes and hurricane gales; she could be warm and kind when she wanted to, not that anyone outside of her immediate family and small group of friends would believe that. All they saw were the twisters, and that was fine by her. It only made it sweeter when her full personality came to light and she could see their faces.
Pink, the color she'd once reviled, was even becoming less and less appalling. She found it working itself into her wardrobe slowly, first a bracelet or a necklace, then a tank top and maybe the design on another t-shirt. What was most surprising to her was that she was okay with it. It didn't seem like such a bad color now, not when she looked at it without as much hatred. It looked good with other colors, like black, and it could add a bit of flair to her outfit. That wasn't to say that she was decked head to toe in bright pink nowadays, though. She usually used another color to downplay it a little bit, but she liked how the color stood out. It could be bright and stunning or soft and loving, and a few changes could make it mean something entirely different. It seemed so perfect for her now.
Magic was something that seemed to be perfectly woven into her life, too. It was a natural extension of her body, a power that had always been dormant within. Using it seemed right, as right as she felt when she was on her tables mixing a song. Combined with the freedom that her element itself offered, she'd always have something to stand by, something to bring her happiness, because she knew that she could never lose something as powerfully bound to her. She would never lose them, and they would never abandon her. They would only continue to grow together, becoming more powerful with every passing year.
Someday, she would be able to fly.
Strong as a tree - four simple words that so accurately could describe how he felt. He'd always felt like that, really, but it had been magnified since that day in May when they'd been opened up to their powers. Since then he'd felt sturdy, unmoving, like the person everyone could bounce off of.
Earth itself could be moved easily, some patches more than others, getting harder and harder as one delved deeper. It was just one of many eerily correct aspects of his element; getting to know him was as easy as moving away topsoil, but as you worked your way deeper into whom he really was, it took more and more effort. His innermost emotions and thoughts were well-guarded from extensive teasing during his early days in the U.S., but getting to know him that deeply showed enormous effort and few reached that far. The few that did truly knew him as a person and knew some of his most private feelings.
Of course, being Mr. Personality now, he was friends with almost everybody, just as the earth always felt each element in some form. Not many people could honestly say that they didn't like Xander Bly. Other people were simply drawn to him, by his charm and friendly demeanor. While none of them got to know him quite as closely as his four best friends did, there were those who were closer than others.
He'd always count Chip, Vida, Madison and Nick as his best friends, though. The first three had befriended in his early American days, giving him the friendship he so sorely missed, and Nick had just bonded with them so quickly, it was like he was a long-lost friend.
There had always been the potential within him to be one of the popular kids, but he'd never wanted that. He was too strange, too much the oddball, to fit in with that crowd without pretending to be someone he wasn't. Sure, people like Chip were stranger than he was, but he wasn't made to fit into the popular mold. His sense of humor was too odd, his love for music too true, his obsession with the outdoors too great and, above all, his behaviors too eccentric.
Like his element, he too held everyone together. If there was one thing he'd always try to keep, it was normalcy between his friends. Not the normalcy of your average teenager, per se, but their own offbeat brand. He hated it when friends fought, though he too knew that he did it sometimes if there was enough evidence or argument to sway him. Apologizing was always the first option if he was wrong, though. Deep down, holding together his life and friends was one of his most powerful desires, spawned by a life of sporadic upheaval.
Of course, creating random chaos was nice, too, but never enough to shake everything apart. Earthquakes had the ability to make you aware of how nice the peace beforehand really was. They didn't come too often, mind you, but just often enough to refresh your memory, and he knew how much a well-placed one could affect things. Shaking things up had the power to put everything in perspective, and so could he.
He wasn't just the guy who could've been popular but wasn't because he hung out with the 'weird' people and had an odd affinity for nature, not to mention being from an entirely different country - not anymore. He was still that person, but he'd changed since their junior year had ended last May, just as the rest of his friends had. They knew the weight of responsibility, and the pain of loss, but they'd evolved, grown into their new roles and adapted to what was expected of them, as Rangers and as people.
Earth was still the element he felt most connected to, but he felt the pull of the others. It had said somewhere that those who felt the pull of each element were usually the truest earth elements, and he'd identified with it immediately. A mishmash of bits and pieces of everything - that's what he felt like sometimes, ever since he was young. It was why he could hang out with anyone but never truly connect. None of them embodied their elements - some didn't even seem to have one - but the friends he'd unwittingly found as a lonely young man were. Each felt like a part of him, and together they created a complex web of personalities. They were like a family, but they still lacked one thing: the courageous leader, brash but loyal. On something that they knew now was anything but a coincidence, he'd appeared as they fully realized their elements, rounding out their family. It'd been odd at first, clicking with this stranger and convincing him to stay, but he'd slipped in surprisingly well.
With this destined event in place, what he'd always unconsciously desired had come into fruition. He had a second family, one he didn't have to keep secrets from or suppress quirks for, one that he meshed so perfectly with that it could be nothing but fate. There was no other explanation. He could debate it for years, but the answer was always the same.
They were destined to meet, to embody their elements, to create the Mystic Force.
A/N - Yes, here it is. It isn't the first chapter of Children on Light, but I hope it'll tide you all over until that comes out. Anyway, this is probably the weakest of all of the lost/side chapters I'm going to write. The others are more backstory-oriented, and some may help set up future chapters of CoL. Stay tuned!