M. Y. S. T. I. C.

Mallory Yvonne Sampson Trip Iggy Chloe

By: A J

Disclaimer: I don't own W.i.t.c.h. or the Power Rangers. All O.C.'s are mine, as is the plot.

Chapter Twelve

"the Party"

Just before six o'clock, the parents gave their trainees a reprieve, and packed them into the various cars to rush to Caleb's Self-Defense Center. Chloe groaned when she saw that the parking lot In front was already over half full with their friends' and classmates' parents' cars. "I thought you kept the guest list small, Mom!" she hissed to Cornelia. The freshly-former Earth Guardian just grinned back at her daughter.

"I did, honey. I invited your homeroom. I may have mentioned in the invitations that they were welcome to bring along any of your classmates I happened to miss, of course …"

"Well, that explains why the whole cheer squad and half their steadies are here," Mallory crowed. She was riding with the Hales because her bike took up the whole back seat of her parents' car. Yvie meanwhile had done something to the center post on her bike, folded it in half, and strapped it to the back of her dad's chopper, then donned her helmet and ridden pillion with her mother.

As they got there, Zander and Hay escorted the six teens to the gender-respective changing rooms, pointing out lockers with a clean change of clothes for each of them. "Shower if you need to, but hurry!" Hay told the girls.

"Uh, Aunt Hay-hay, what about my friends?" Chloe asked, raising her hair in one hand. At Hay's confused look, Chloe glanced at Yvonne, who shot a quick squirt of Water at her new teammate's handful of blonde hair. The spontaneous growth of a leaf and a blue flower from it made Hay slap her own forehead.

"Oh! I completely forgot about them in today's rush, C.J."

The three girls now looked at her in confusion for a second. "Who's C.J.?" Chloe finally asked.

"Well, you are, of course! Irma's not the only one who can give out nicknames, after all!"

"Ooookaayyyy, but why C.J.?"

"Well, for Cornelia Junior! What else?" The other girls laughed while Chloe facepalmed. "Alright, you three, showers, then dress." Hay suddenly turned no-nonsense on them. "We gotta hurry. Irma and your mom'll be in in a minute to help with dresses and hairdos, if you want anything more complicated than a ponytail," she said to Mallory. "And as for your floral friends, I say let 'em shine tonight, C.J." She beamed at Chloe. "Everyone'll think it's part of the party." She shooed them into the showers, ignoring their questions.

Since she'd brought them in through the delivery door on the side of the dojo, none of the girls knew what she meant. But the former Air girl's quirky mind could already tell they were going crazy with curiosity, and beat them to the next punch. "Hey, Dee. No telling the others what we've got in store for 'em out there, okay? And pass it on to T, Halli, and Iggy, too."

The new female Guardians hurried through a wash and rinse as fast as teenage female humanly possible, and were all out again just as Will and Irma stepped into the changing room.

"Are they ready?" Irma asked her lifemate, sounding almost as hyper as Hay usually did.

"For what, exactly?" Yvie asked her predecessor warily.

"Your new dresses," Will said with a smile, opening the locker next to Mallory. She pulled out a length of cloth that shimmered under the fluorescent lights in …

"Pink? Mommmm …" Mal moaned.

"I heard it's traditional for new Rangers to take their color on as part of their everyday clothes, and since half your new team is Rangers' kids, I think it's only fair to adopt the tradition," Will smirked. Mallory's long-standing feud with the color pink in her wardrobe was an ongoing source of amusement among the older Guardians.

"Easily remedied, Mal," Irma said, trying not to laugh too hard. "Lightning comes in purple, too." The former Water-mistress nabbed a corner of the rose-colored satin, and with a moment's concentration, she turned the whole gown a pale lavender color.

"Whoa," Yvie muttered from where she had taken her new navy-blue dress out. "When can you teach me that?" Irma grinned at her, and stepped over to help her successor climb into the satin monster Hay had found for their new Water Guardian.

"Soon as things calm down enough," she muttered.

Beyond curious now, Chloe opened up her locker. "Oh, Aunt Hay-hay," she gasped as she took out the priceless leaf-green gown inside. "You didn't …"

"One of a kind," the Air Guardian smiled. "Just like you, C.J." She helped unfurl the slim silk sheath so Chloe could step into it, and buttoned up the side for her.

"Did you … make this?" Chloe managed to gulp.

"Of course! You think I'd go just anywhere for one of my nieces' birthday dress? Grandma helped, too! How could she not, for our firstborn Guardian girl?" Hay tittered.

"So that's why you've been so tired lately, huh?" Irma accused. "Folding to Candracar and back without a Heart's help, Hay-hay? So then … how come you didn't know about Luc before last night?"

"I've been going straight to Grandma's room and back, silly." Hay leaned over and kissed her lover across the aisle way. "Give me some credit. I knew I'd get tired out enough, why add all the extra walking in?" Will and Irma just traded a tolerant glance, and shook their heads, grinning.

"There you go, and the Heart doesn't clash too bad with the lavender, either," Will told her daughter after zipping her up.

"Hey, we match!" Mal and Yvonne said together, catching sight of each other's dresses.

"Oh, shoot!" Hay blurted. "I didn't even go back to the same store for Yvie's dress! How'd that happen?"

"Just … chalk it up to the wonders of mass distributing, babe," Irma grinned. "And count ourselves lucky that Cordy's doesn't match, too. Otherwise, they'd look like bridesmaids." Mallory and Yvie exchanged a smile and giggled.

"Aunt Irma, considering their relationship," Mal said, pointing at a blushing Chloe, "don't we anyway?" The three women laughed.

Mystic

The three Guardian boys were already washed, dressed and mingling when Iggy heard the warning from Cordy and grinned. He hurriedly passed it on to the two Thorn boys as well. Sam and Trip, in nearly identical black jeans and plaid shirts (Trip's was yellow and black; Sam's was white, grey and black.) with their hair slicked back, looked even more alike than they had as Guardians. Iggy was in his usual red track suit, his uncle Pete's number airbrushed on the back. He stood with his mother Taranee and Yvie's parents Nick and Maddie Russell by the 'warm snacks' end of the hors-d'ouvre table. Hot wings, Vienna sausage wraps, and Nachos competed for his attention against the nearby giggle of the cheerleaders.

As the shortest, Cordy was caught in the center of the present Sheffield Cheer Squad members. Sporting a lovely new tan dress with black accents that matched her hair, she preferred to see it as playing hostess to her own party in miniature. She practiced what her mother's courtiers called 'steering the conversation', guiding the other girls through such topics as Sam's introduction to Heatherfield's junior-high society, commentary on the dresses (or lack thereof) of the other girls present, and a quick (if not too subtle) questionnaire on the party décor, which she'd helped pick out.

Now they were on to each other's current or potential boyfriends, and Cordelia was sweating out the inevitable moment Latanya and Delilah would stop one-upping each other's comparison of Dave and Iggy to ask her if she was finally at a party with a (gasp!) date. Delilah was just turning her way, and Dee was cringing inwardly, when there was a concerted gasp from the far side of the room. It was followed by a wave of exclamations and murmurings that spread from the door of the locker rooms across the partygoers to the snack tables in the far corner by Uncle Caleb's office.

"Wow," Cordelia heard Iggy whisper. In blatant disregard of all her telepathic etiquette lessons, the Meridian Princess opened up her mind to his. Seeing the spectacle across the room that had everyone's attention from the vantage of his height compared to hers, she grinned.

"You can say that again," she sent to him with a sigh.

"Get outta my head, Dee! I got enough issues!" he roared back mentally. With a contrite "Eeeep!" she shut off their link. It didn't dampen her smile from the image of Chloe's entrance to her 'Happy Fifteenth Birthday Party' by a long shot. In fact, it gave Dee a wonderful idea.

Concentrating anew, she sent an 'idea-pulse' through the still-stunned crowd. The results were perfect.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHLOE!" the whole room cheered as one. Cordy smiled at the received images her already-open mind got from several people of Chloe's teary gasp, then grin.

"Cordelia Eleanor Brown," Dee heard hissed quietly from Iggy's direction. With a guileless glance, she turned to see her Aunt Taranee glaring at her.

Unrepentant, Cordy sent one of her 'seen' memories of how much Chloe had loved Dee's 'crowd choreography'. "Ground me all you want, Aunt T'ree. That was worth it."

"I gotta agree, Mom," Iggy chimed in, in Dee's defense.

"Not what the point is," Taranee answered them both, looking back and forth in exasperation. "You'll be joining her for the next several lessons of telepathic control, so you'll hear the lecture either way, son. But I'm not going to spoil this party for Chloe by stealing her favorite dance partner … partners," Taranee amended with a grin at them both, "before this shindig's even started." She glared at Cordelia again. "Just promise me that's the only extra surprise, young lady."

"Absolutely, Aunt T'ree," the young Meridianite replied, with a firm nod. Then with another grin, she added "Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go keep my girlfriend all to myself for the rest of the night." Iggy and Taranee laughed at that quietly.

Yvie and Mallory waited the furor of Chloe's entrance out, then stepped quietly from the locker room. "C'mon, I'll introduce ya around," Mal said, tugging her new magical teammate towards the gaggle of cheerleaders.

Cordy emerged from their midst as they converged. "Hey, you two! B R B, I'm gonna go catch Chlo before she gets buried in dance requests!" The Meridian Princess flitted off through the crowd.

"What was that all about?" Latanya asked. She and the other Heatherfield cheerleaders reformed their half-circle around Mallory and Yvie, watching the blonde girl maneuver through the surrounding bodies.

"Huh? Oh, you know those two," Mal responded. "Cordy spent all afternoon running errands with her mom, while Chloe was with the rest of us, showing some new friends around town. She just wants to see what gossip she missed."

"Is he one of those new friends?" Delilah asked, pointing out Sampson Rocca behind her.

"Yeah," Mal grinned. "Lucky us, huh?" She gestured at Yvie next to her.

"Well, me not so much," Yvonne said, smiling. "He's my cousin." She held her hand out to shake.

"Really?" Rhyssa breathed, eyeing the boy in question as well. She took the proffered hand almost as an afterthought.

"Oh! Sorry," Mallory started. "Girls, this is Yvie Russell, my net-pal from Briarwood. Yvie, this is the Sheffield Junior Varsity Cheer Squad." She introduced Yvonne to Rhyssa, her sister Delilah, Delilah's BFF Latanya, Ronnie Weir (arguably the smartest girl in Sheffield that year, easily alongside Dee,) Faith Chavez and her sister Felicity (not actually a cheerleader, since she hadn't gotten her twin's natural coordination, but one heck of an equipment wrangler for the squad,) and with a wave to get her attention back from her steady across the room, their final member Jess Campbell.

Daughter of Matt Olsen's childhood friends Mandy and Joel, Jess was practically another extended cousin to Mallory. To this day, she and the others were unsure how Jess had never found out about W.i.t.c.h. and Meridian, since the curious girl seemed to know about all their other family secrets. She even knew that Cordy wasn't entirely human, though Dee hadn't taken any great pains to hide her Basiliadian side since the onset of puberty, or the inception of SPD's Earth Base in New Tech City.

"So, Jess … How's Aaron?" Felicity teased as the other girl joined them. The cheerleaders around them groaned. Felicity had made it abundantly clear to them all that she fully intended to steal Aaron Titus from Jess. The crazy part was that Jess couldn't care less. She and Aaron had been inseparable friends since grade school, and he really only had eyes for her.

"Ask him yourself," Jess smiled, nodding at the big blonde boy coming across the room with a pair of sodas. "Hey, babe," Aaron said, trading a quick kiss with Jess as he handed her her drink.

"If he's taken, I can see why they're making such a big deal over Sam," Yvonne murmured to Mallory with a grin.

Mal returned it, replying, "Yeah, Oracle knows his ego could use the boost after last night."

"Which part of last night?"

"You know," Mal continued, with a nod at Chloe and Cordy, now coming back toward them with hands clasped. "When the two girls who started dinner hanging all over him ended it with each other instead," she whispered back. The two new Guardian girls giggled.

Trip appeared at Mal's side. "Hey, M. Wanna dance?" She startled too easily, he thought as she jumped, then glared at him. He made a warding sign in her direction with raised brows.

"Chill, Cuz," Yvie said, rolling her eyes.

"How many cousins do you have?" Rhyssa asked, with an oversweet smile his way.

"Sorry, Rhyss," Trip smirked, linking elbows with Mallory. "I'm spoken for."

"Just four," Yvonne answered her with a sigh. "Him, Sam, and the Dangerous Duo over there," she added, pointing towards Toby and A.J. among the half-dozen adolescents who'd come to the party with parents or siblings.

"I think we need to start calling them the Terrible Trio," Trip countered, watching his younger brother, their cousin, and Kyle Lyndon challenging the other three preteens to an impromptu relay race across the room and back – with full punch cups. "Oh, here we go …" he sighed, nudging Mallory and Yvonne and nodding his head towards the younger kids.

"What're you all staring at?" Chloe asked as she and Dee finally made it back across the room. Rhyssa pointed out the kids dodging through the crowd.

"I think your dad's gonna have one heck of a cleaning bill tomorrow," she said with a wicked grin. Her sister Delilah snorted, then both got a better look at the sheath of a dress Chloe was wearing, and whistled.

"Nice dress, Chlo," blonde Rhyssa said, reaching out to feel the material.

"I know, right?" Chloe responded, grinning. She did a little twirl in place, showing it off. "Aunt Hay-hay's work at its best, I have to say."

"So what's the embroidery say?" Jess asked, conscious of her boyfriend next to her admiring the view. Chloe took a better look at the symbols stitched down her left side.

"My name, I think … Aunt Hay wrote them out for us once, and it looks the same."

"Longer though," Cordy countered. "Like she added something …"

"Since when is an 'at' sign a Chinese kanji?" Trip chuckled.

Cordy whipped his way with a "Huh?" and he pointed back to a character near the end of the column of embroidered symbols.

"Zimu ge, not kanji," Veronica Weir corrected. She was one of many students who'd taken the Chinese language course Mira Lyndon had started teaching at Sheffield Institute after her wedding to Eric's grandfather.

Chloe meanwhile was twisting around for a better look. "OMG," she told them all and laughed. She pointed to the final set of characters after the . "My dress is a photo caption! 'Chloe Hale at fifteen'," she read out, tracing a finger down the embroidered column of zimu ge. The rest of them laughed as well, and Cordelia sent Hay Lyndon a telepathic acknowledgement. All she got back was a mental image of Hay's trademark megawatt smile.

"Not that that wasn't absolutely fascinating," Iggy interrupted, "but … let's get this party started!" He pulled Delilah from their midst and whirled her into the middle of the floor, where the pair started 'gettin' down' to the music that began as if on cue.

Couples formed quickly, after that. Latanya and Dave joined their friends on the dance floor, along with Ronnie and Simon. Felicity tried to insinuate herself on Aaron's right, but he was already holding Jess's hand with his left, and the other girl watched with renewed frustration as the oblivious pair wended away from her. 'Give it up, sis," Faith muttered her way as she spun past in Sylvester's arms.

"He'll be mine, you'll see," the Latina huffed.

"Just don't stop believing that," Rhyssa told her, crossing to properly introduce herself to Sam Rocca. "Well, helloooo, handsome! Now, what's wrong with this picture?" she asked, sidling up to the solitary, stationary Air Guardian.

"Oh, hi … Rhyssa, right?" Sam asked the blonde girl.

"The one and only. So, I'm wondering … why aren't you tripping the light fantastic with your cousins?" She pointed to where Trip and Yvie were dancing with Mallory and Iggy's friend Rick.

"I'm not much of a dancer," Sam replied.

"Nonsense. Anyone can dance, handsome. C'mon," she said, nabbing his arm and leading him out to the middle of the gyrating crowd. "Just follow my lead." She pulled him close and started to sway in time to the music.

"Uh, okay …" They started out alright. Then the next song began, and the tempo sped up. Sam managed to knock her into two other couples in quick succession trying to match her movements, and Rhyssa stopped his jarring hip-swinging with a hand to his chest.

"Whoa, whoa! Wow, handsome. You weren't kidding! Ya know? I think this'll require some professional help. Hey 'Lilah!" she called over to her sister. "We've got a new victim for ya!"

"Should I be scared?" Sam gulped at the look of delight on Gothic-garbed Delilah's face.

"Naahhhh … well, yeah … she's a bit of a slave-driver, my sister," Rhyssa said with a wicked grin his way. "But never fear, if there's anyone who can untie those two left feet of yours, it's 'Lilah," she added as her sister and Iggy sashayed their way through the crowd finally.

"So what's this about a new victim?" Delilah asked. Iggy spun her in place, and she let his hand go to seize hold of Sam's.

"Handsome Sam here can't dance, and I thought he could benefit from your unique tutoring skills, sis," Rhyssa told her.

"Is that so?" Delilah purred, running her free hand through Sam's long bronzed hair. Iggy suddenly started chuckling, then cracked up completely. "What?" she groused his way after a moment.

"It's … just … You're Delilah … and he's … Sampson!" Iggy finally managed to gasp out. Rhyssa started laughing too at that. Sam harrumphed, rolling his eyes, and Delilah blinked at all three of them.

"I don't get it," she muttered.

"It's from the Bible," Sam replied, and led her away from the cackling pair. "We'll be safe enough over here," he continued, when they got to an unoccupied space in a corner. "So ... you really think you can teach me to dance?"

"Nothin' to it, but to do it," she replied, and set about arranging their limbs for a basic box-step. "Now, just do as I say, and we'll have the girls linin' up for lessons with you by the end of the night …"

Mystic

"So, how's the party?" Elyon asked Cornelia, when the pair met at the refreshments table a short time later.

"I'm not sure, Elly. Let me get back to you when we're not both so busy playing caterer to be able to enjoy it." The taller blonde woman nodded down at both their snack-tray laden hands, and Elyon grinned.

"Okay, granted, the whole anonymous servants thing is definitely missed here in Heatherfield, but this is still a thousand percent better than having my brother crashing a party at the palace …"

"Did someone mention me?" a distressingly familiar voice inquired from the other end of the table. The pair turned, aghast, to see a casually-dressed Phobos idly twirling a glass of punch in his long-fingered hands. He took a polite sip, and wrinkled his nose at the unfamiliar sensation of carbonation. "Ah, these bizarre Earth drinks … I'd forgotten. Still," he added, setting the cup down in favor of a Vienna wrap off the tray still frozen in Cornelia's grip. "It's leaps and bounds better than that drab prison food after fifteen years." He ate the wrap, and surveyed the crowd. "Now, where is my niece, dear sister? I have a very special birthday present to give to her." Cornelia and Elyon, still gaping, were beaten to the answer.

"Prison really wasn't kind to you, your lowness," Caleb rasped from behind Phobos, the sound of metal scraping out of a scabbard ringing below his voice. "This is Chloe's birthday, not Cordelia's."

"Oh? So sorry, the date must have just slipped my mind, these many years in a small stone room deep under my rightful kingdom," the two-time ruler of Meridian sneered, turning to face Caleb. The former rebel leader put the point of his drawn shortsword against Phobos' stomach. "Now, is that any way to greet an old friend of the family?"

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't gut you where you stand," Caleb snarled.

"How about him?" Phobos asked lightly, as a wiry young man with sun-streaked dark hair came from out of the crowd and batted Caleb's blade away with one of his own.

"Neimad?" Elyon questioned, her heart dropping at the sight of one of her highest-ranking guards. The man before them was in charge of the magical prison Phobos had been incarcerated at, until last night. "What are you doing here? What are you doing with him?"

"Oh, didn't he mention it when he started to work for you, sister dear?" Phobos turned to beam at his companion. "He's my son."