What Hurts the Most- Chapter 2: Painful Regrets

Last revised-6/8/07

Disclaimer- I don't own them, never have nor will I. Sorry folks, if I did, then I'd be rich and things would have happened the way that I wanted them to happen.

A/N- So sorry that it's taken me so long to update folks! Here's the next chapter of What hurts the most! Enjoy!

This one's dedicated to Enigmaforum and Pink! You two are simply awesome! Thanks for being my test audience!

Nick wiped his forehead, sighing and stretching his aching muscles. It had been nearly a week since he had been so close to seeing Madison again and he had left. He smiled at the thought of her. He wanted nothing more than to be somewhere that was peaceful and quiet with her, holding her as though they were the only two people that existed. He loved her with everything in him. Yes, he loved her, and he wasn't afraid to admit that. As the old saying went, "Absence makes the hear grow fonder", Nick only fell harder for the Blue Mermaid. He had planned on telling her when he had gotten back, but instead, he had gone to help a village. That thought brought him back to what he had currently been doing, which was helping the village. It was a village that had been attacked by the Master and they'd had a hard time trying to regroup. He shook his head, clearing it of the events that still plagued him. While he knew that he had been under the Master's control, he couldn't stop wondering if he could have done something differently. He thought that if he had been just a little stronger, then he might have been able to not let the Master take over his body and commit numerous atrocities.

Nick shook his head again, swallowing hard. It was time to get back to work. He walked through the forest, noting everyone's progress. At this rate, everything would hopefully be back to normal and he could be back home within a few days. 'Let's hope so, anyway.'

Nick walked to the edge of the forest, which was bordered by a large group of rocks. He began cutting down trees with his wand, tossing them to the side once they had been cut down. He wasn't paying much attention to where he threw the trees, and a rather large, thick tree ended up landing with the top part of it near the top of the mountain of rocks. After he had worked for several minutes, he decided to take a short break. He sat for a few moments trying to make his mind on something, before he decided to just do it. He pulled out his cellphone and dialed a well-known code. There was one ring, then two, until finally….

"Hello?" asked Maddy. She had just walked through the passage to the woods with the intention of going to see Clare and Udonna.

"Hey Maddy, it's me, Nick. How are things going?" he asked.

"Nick! Hi! Things are going pretty good here. How's everything with you?" She continued to walk through the forest toward Rootcore.

"Okay, I guess. I'm hoping that we'll be done here soon. I miss you, Maddy," he told her earnestly.

Maddy bit her lip, trying to keep herself from crying. She missed him more than anything, but she couldn't let him know that she was crying. She wiped her eyes quickly and took a deep breath. "I know, I've missed you too."

From the sound of her shaky voice, Nick could tell that Maddy had been crying. "Hey, hey, don't cry, okay? I can't stand to hear you cry and know that there's nothing that I can do to make it stop. I'm gonna come home soon, okay?"

Maddy stopped crying, happy to hear that he was going to try to come home as soon as he could. "Okay."

Nick didn't know it, but one of the trees that had landed on the rock pile wasn't stable. It had fallen at a slant. During his conversation with Madison, the tree kept moving, pushing the rocks more and more. The tree pushed some of the smaller rocks, causing the those to hit the larger ones, making them tumble to the ground, where Nick was currently sitting.

"Okay, so I'll talk to you later then?" Nick asked.

"Yeah, sure. Just make sure that you get home safe okay?"

"I will, I promise. Okay, I had better----" Before Nick could finish his sentence, he looked up to see several huge boulders crashing dangerously toward him. With a yell that was filled with shock, terror, and pain, Nick threw his arms over his head, knowing that he had no time to use his wand to stop the oncoming boulders.

Madison's face held a look of fear on it as she heard the strangled yell come from Nick's end of the phone. The next sounds she heard were crashing and banging. There were only two thoughts running through her head: the first was that she prayed to God that he was okay; and the second was that she wished that she had gotten the chance to tell him that she loved him. Tears began pouring down her cheeks in torrents as she knew the possible outcomes: either he had survived or he hadn't. There was no other option.

As much as Madison wanted to stand there and continue crying, she knew that Nick was in trouble and she had to save him. She pressed two buttons that would then help to find Nick by using his phone. Her morpher was in her hand without a second thought.

"Magical Source, Mystic Force!" Madison went through the motions as though yesterday was the first time she'd done them. "Galwit Mysto Aerotan!" Madison waved her wand, silently summoning her broom. She jumped into the air and landed on it right as it was passing. She knew that while it took awhile to get to the village that Nick had gone to by foot, but the trip would be much faster by flight.

In less than a half hour, Madison's mind was reeling from all the possible scenarios that could have happened. Her phone beeped, telling her that Nick was nearby. "Dismount!" she cried out as she jumped down. She held her phone out in front of her, moving around in all directions, hoping to get something. She moved forward and was rewarded with beeping sounds coming from her phone. She continued to walk towards the pile of rocks on shaky legs as the beeping grew louder, stronger, and more frequent. She looked up to see the pile of rocks in front of her. "Oh, God, please let him be okay! Nick! Nick, can you hear me?"

Madison quickly demorphed, hoping that it would help her to hear Nick better. She got as close to the pile of rocks as she could, trying not to knock any down. She heard a low groan escape. She moved back, took out her wand, and began the tedious process of levitating the rocks off of the man that she loved. As she got closer and closer to him, her fear and trepidation increased in leaps and bounds. Was he okay? Would he be alive or dead? Would he ever recover? The more she unearthed of him, the more frightened she grew, but she still pressed on.

She finally found arms, then legs and a torso. She nearly cried out with relief and horror, for she had found him, but he looked horrible. There were large cuts and bruises all over his body. A few gashes had blood trickling out of them down his face. Madison gulped hard, forcing the bile down that threatened to appear. She knelt down next to him and checked his pulse. He had one, but it was weak. 'I need to get him medical attention,' thought Madison.

She was now stuck as to what she should do. She could take him either to a hospital or take him back to Rootcore. In a second, her mind was made up. Using her wand, she levitated his body away from the rest of the rocks. She picked up her broom and gently laid Nick on the ground. Kneeling next to him, she held him in the best position that she could so as not to make his injuries worse. Hoping it would work, she used her wand and cried "Vanishio!" thinking of the location that she wanted to be at. She looked around and saw that the spell had worked. She laid him down and raced into Rootcore to get someone's help.

"UDONNA! LIANBOW! SOMEONE, I need some help!" Madison screamed frantically.

Udonna came out from the library, looking startled. "Madison what's wrong?" she asked as she looked at the poor girl in front of her.

"I-it's Nick. We were t-t-talking on the phone and then he screamed and I found him and he was….Oh, God, please let him be all right!" Madison babbled as she cried.

Udonna rushed forward and embraced the young woman. Madison was normally a strong woman, but lately, Udonna had noticed that Madison had been acting differently. "Shh, it's all right, child. He needs you to be strong for him, all right?" She pulled back and looked into Madison's tearful eyes.

Madison locked eyes with Udonna, knowing that she was right. Nick would need her to be strong, and the only way that that could happen was if she pulled herself together. She nodded, her resolve strengthening as she thought about the Red ranger that she had fallen in love with.

"Good. Now what I want you to do for now is to get some rest."

"Sleep? I can't. Nick needs me. He's out there and he needs my help," Madison protested.

"You won't be of help to anyone if you don't get some sleep. If you don't get some sleep, I will have to make you. Now go on and rest," Udonna told her firmly.

Madison nodded her head in compliance, knowing that her mentor was right. She trudged up to her room, shut the door behind her, and collapsed on the bed, falling asleep almost immediately.


Madison's eyes opened blearily and she shook her head, trying to clear it of the fogginess. She looked at her watch to see that she had slept for nearly two hours. She disentangled herself from the blankets and jumped out of her bed. Things became blurry as she sped past other rooms in Rootcore. She backed up when she passed an open door. She entered the room to see several well-known people: Udonna, Lianbow, Clare and Daggeron were around Nick's bed. Udonna and Lianbow stood on one side of the bed with their backs to her, holding each other, while Daggeron stood on the other side, using magic to heal Nick. Her gasp caused his parents to turn around sharply, both of them looking weary and beckoning her to join them. She quietly stepped forward, but could never be prepared for the sight that met her eyes. He was clothed in only a thin set of pants. Most of his injuries were more visible now, and most of them looked even worse than when she had first seen them. There were small bruises and cuts that were already beginning to heal, but even larger bruises had already begun to swell. He looked as though he would have a few broken ribs that would take awhile to heal, as well as a sprained wrist. It would be a long time coming before he would be completely back to himself again.

After a short time, Daggeron lowered his hands. "I've done all that I can do. There was some internal swelling and bleeding, but he should be fine. He did suffer a minor concussion, so he'll only have a slight headache to deal with, and I'll have to talk with him when he awakens. As far as the broken ribs and the sprained wrist go, I need to go make a potion that will alleviate the pain, but they will both have to heal on their own. I did all that I could."

"And that is all that we want, my friend," Udonna told him.

Madison sat on the right side of the bed, holding his hand gently in hers. "But he'll be okay, right? I mean, he's seen worse before, and he came out of it."

Daggeron shrugged his shoulders sympathetically. "I'm not entirely sure. He's in a state that is somewhat similar to a coma. I did what I could, but whether or not he wakes up and heals, both depend entirely on him and his body."

Madison swallowed hard, trying to will away the tears, but it was futile, as they began to fall relentlessly. Lianbow moved to the other side of the bed where she sat and wrapped his arms around her in a fatherly hug. "He has to be all right! I didn't even get to tell him!" she sobbed.

"He will be, little mermaid. He'll be awake soon and he'll be just fine," Lianbow told her soothingly.

"How do you know?"

"Because he's my son, and I know him. He cares very deeply for you, Madison."

Madison sniffled and sat up, breathing shakily. "Can I have a few minutes alone with him, please? I'll be fine, don't worry about me."

Lianbow nodded, knowing that she needed this. "We'll be just downstairs if you need us."

Madison nodded numbly as she turned back to look at the man who had stolen her heart, but didn't know it. She vaguely heard the door close behind them and knew that she was alone. Now that she was alone, she looked at him more closely. 'He looks so peaceful, even if he is most likely in tremendous pain.'

"You really need to come back, you know that? I don't even know if the others know yet, but if they do find out, they're gonna be just as freaked as I am. You have to come back, Nick. Come back to me, for me, just like you said that you would.

She looked around the room and finally found a comfortable armchair that was big enough for her to curl up in. She pulled the chair over to the side nearest to his bed and sat down in it, putting her feet up on it. She sat and watched him as his chest slowly rose and fell, giving him that life-giving oxygen. Her brain kept screaming at her that she needed sleep, and the fact that she kept falling asleep and was fighting it wasn't helping matters. Before she could wake herself up, she had fallen asleep.

Madison sat up, looking around in confusion. She was standing in the park that was near the record sore. "How did I get here? What on earth-?"

"Hey, Maddy."

Madison's head snapped up to see Nick standing in front of her. She shook her head sharply from side to side, as if to wake herself up. "But I thought you were... Never mind. How did you get here?"

"It's your dream, that's how I got to be here. I've never really understood dreams, to be totally honest. Seriously weird things can happen in them."

"Tell me about it," Madison muttered under her breath.

"But things that could possibly happen in real life sometimes occur in dreams before they actually happen. Maddy, I have something that I need to tell you, and I don't know how much longer I'm going to have."

Madison looked at him in confusion. "What are you talking about? This is my dream, remember? We'll be here for as long as I want us to be."

Nick shook his head at her sadly. "No, I can't stay. I have to go. Can I just do one thing though?"

"What?"

Nick smiled softly. "Can I just hold you before I have to go? That's all I want, please."

Madison looked up in surprise and met Nick's gaze, knowing that she trusted him completely. "Okay."

They both sat down on the grass, with Madison leaning against Nick's chest with his head just on top of hers. "I didn't think that it would ever be possible to feel this way," Nick spoke, breaking the silence.

"What do you mean? Feel how?"

"Happy, warm, content. I could stay here with you forever, and never think another thing of it. This is one of the best feelings ever. I still didn't tell you what I need to tell you, Maddy."

"Hmm?" Madison replied.

Nick gently and slowly turned both of them so they were facing each other. "I love you, Madison Rocca. I just wanted you to know that before I have to go."

Madison shook her head fiercely. "Don't say that! You don't have to go, please!"

Nick touched her face with one hand, while touching her forehead to his. "I know, but even if I wanted to stay, I couldn't. I'd give anything to just stay here with you and hold you."

"So then don't go! Don't leave me!"

"I'm sorry, Maddy." Nick brushed a gentle kiss against her lips, one that seemed to speak of promises. "I gotta go." He pulled back and stood up, leaving her looking at him with a mixture of sadness and confusion on her face. Without any warning at all, he just disappeared, with his last words to her being, "I'll always love you, Maddy."

"NO!" Madison yelled, shooting up like a rocket. Her eyes were shut tight, her breathing was jagged and uneven, as though she had just run a marathon. 'That was...oh, god.' Madison opened her eyes, looking around wildly. When she finally spotted him on the bed, she was able to relax. Her breathing evened out, and her heart stopped pounding furiously. Now that she had gotten some sleep, she knew that she would be able to stay awake.

She maintained her vigil by his bedside, determined to be there when he woke. As she sat there with him, her mind wandered to all the memories that she had of him. She remembered the day that she had met him, and how she had all but begged him to stay there. 'He's always been there for me. He's always been able to comfort me when I needed it; he told me the truth, and didn't care about the consequences.' Her mind went back to that day when he told her that she was too scared to put it out there. 'He was right, I was scared.' "But that was then, this is now. I'm not scared to put it out there now." Her mind continued to wander as her eyes traveled around the room. So many things had happened between them, and that only made what she felt for him become even stronger. The day that he had comforted her was the day that she recognized that she wasn't just attracted to him: he had stolen her heart, never to give it back again. She had imagined how she would tell him that she cared about him, that she was in love with him.

'This wasn't what I had in mind, though. I wanted it to be romantic, but if this is the only way that I get to tell him then it's better than nothing.'

"I wish you would just wake up and look at me. You wouldn't even have to say anything, just as long as I knew that you were going to be all right. I hate seeing you like this, you know. I guess that I always just thought that you were just unbeatable. There was something that I wanted to tell you before you left so soon after getting back. It was funny; I heard that you were back and I suddenly got nervous, because I knew what I had to tell you. Before I knew it, you were gone and I didn't even get the chance to tell you how I really felt about you, much less say goodbye." It was at this point that she laid down next to him, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Now I get to tell you, even if you don't hear it. The reason I asked you to come back for me is this: I love you. I think I always have, ever since we met. I knew that I liked you and was attracted to you from the start, but I didn't think that it would ever be possible to feel like this. I love you, Nick Russell, so you had better come back to me, or you'll have one ticked off Blue Ranger on your case."

Little did Madison know that Nick had started slowly coming back to consciousness. 'Where am I? What happened? And why do I feel like I got kicked in the head?' Nick struggled to remember. The last thing that he remembered doing was talking to Madison. He really had been hit in the head: the rocks had started to fall before he could react. And now he was at home, with no recollection of how he'd gotten there. He managed to come back to full consciousness in time to hear her heartfelt speech. 'She loves me. I love her, and she needs to know.'

"I love you too, Maddy."

Madison sat up in shock, looking at him with evident surprise. "Nick, you're-you're awake! Oh, thank god! Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?" She gently touched him at various spots on his chest and arms, but stopped upon hearing a small groan escape from him.

"I'll be all right, Maddy. I'm just in some pain, I'm not dead. Not now, anyway," he chuckled, groaning at the pain that laughing caused.

She smacked him, but not hard enough to cause him any pain. "Can I lie down next to you? I just want to make sure that when I wake up that you're there and I'll know that this all wasn't a dream."

Nick swallowed, thinking. He didn't want her to leave either, and he owed it to her to let her stay. "Yeah, sure." He shifted as slowly and carefully as he could to the opposite side of the bed, giving her space to lie down. She laid down on the bed, but across from him.

"What are you doing over there? You're gonna fall off of the bed," Nick teased.

"I know. I just don't want to hurt you any more than you already are," she replied.

"If you don't want to move closer, that's okay. I would never do anything to hurt, you Maddy, and I don't think that you'd be hurting me. I can deal, I promise. I just want to hold you, if you'll let me."

Madison looked at his face for confirmation and saw that he was serious, that he just wanted to hold and nothing more. Tentatively, she moved closer to him and let him wrap an arm around her. She gently placed her head on his chest for fear of hurting him. They laid there together for several moments before Nick spoke up.

"Hey, Maddy?"

"Hmm?"

"Once I get better, do you want to go out on a date? I mean, I'd get it if you didn't want to or anything-''

Nick was cut off by soft fingers on his lips. "Nick, of course I'll go out with you. But just do me a favor and concentrate on getting better, okay?"

He nodded his head and smiled. She lay back down on his chest and sighed contentedly. She knew that no matter what happened, everything would be all right.