Author's Notes: This takes place in the future, so they are approximately in their early to mid-twenties. Any constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated. :) Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own or have any rights to anything remotely related to Power Rangers. In fact, I don't own anything, except maybe the Snickers bar I receivedlast week. ;)
Nocturne of Dreams
I have had dreams, and I have had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams – Dr. Jonas Salk
She was flung from the realm of sleep - at least it felt that way, with her heart located somewhere inside her gut and the air her lungs desperately sought apparently still back with her dreams - by his strangled cry. Immediately she sat upright, chocolate brown eyes wide but unseeing, breaths coming in quick gasps as she wavered between dream and reality. The panic gradually subsided as full consciousness returned, but her heart refused to behave; like a mad dog it lashed out incessantly against her chest, an animal trying to break free of its cage. She deliberately inhaled deep and slow and the tension throughout her body finally dissipated.
Another agonized howl tore free between clenched teeth, and she suddenly remembered exactly why she had awakened.
Their past had never truly left them. Even she still suffered through those harrowing memories from time to time. Images of their teacher and his father, limp bodies falling from the Master's hands; her friends, her sister, being cut down only to rise again for another beating; the village devastated and the distrust of the wood-dwellers toward them; discovering him to be the cause of it. And those eyes, his eyes – she trembled at the thought – so hard and cold, full of malice and anger, accompanied by that terrible mocking smile. If it hadn't been for Leanbow…she let the thought fade away.
He groaned, as if in pain, and she could feel him move restlessly beside her on the bed. While nightmares, considered as the curse of being bestowed with the title Ranger, plagued them more frequently than the typical individual, this night's haunt seemed more like torture, as if it wasn't just his mind being torn apart.
And so it was with that terrible gut-wrenching notion that Madison Russell finally turned to regard her husband.
He was pale, unnatural for skin normally tinged bronze from the sun, and sweat drenched his entirety; Madison could see the excess soak into the sheets underneath him. The blanket they had been sleeping under wound between his legs at odd angles before it fell to drape across the floor, leaving the upper half of his body (she watched as a myriad of sweat droplets reflected the moonlight off of his muscled torso) exposed to the cool autumn night air.
Had she been in this position a few years ago – when she'd been just a normal teenage girl whose only worries had been her school, her job, and her video camera; boys still only things to look at, she believing herself to be too plain and ordinary for them to give her any notice – being in the presence, in the same bed even, of this beautiful artwork of a man would have been a wistful fantasy, hopeless and impossible in its keeping. Yet here she was, beloved of a man revered as the Light, most powerful sorcerer ever known: Common Madison Rocca, newly-wed wife to Nick Bowen Russell.
Wife – the title thrilled and terrified her at the same time.
He shifted once more, and she cleared her head of her reverie. Now wasn't the time for such juvenile thoughts – memories of her previous self, broken, before he arrived and put the fragile pieces of her heart together – Nick saved her from the Master's soldiers, saved her from a humdrum existence, saved her from herself; it was her turn to save him.
"Nick." His name slipped from her lips, a whisper so full of love she could have shouted and the emotion held within it would have been the same. His response to her apprehensive inquiry – the entire body suddenly ramrod straight, muscles contorting to obviously painful heights, face scrunched in a visage of pure agony – propelled explicit horror through every fiber of her being, a killing frost extending its wraith-like appendages straight to her heart. Hesitantly, Madison reached out, hand gently covering his sweat stained brow.
It retracted immediately, a whimper escaping her lips as she assessed her now scorched right hand; from fingertips to the base of the palm, smooth and flawless skin transformed to raw, blistering flesh before her tear-laced eyes. The nauseating stench of burnt skin cells caught in her throat. She repressed the urge to gag.
In the midst of the mind-numbing pain, the single thought that Nick could use his powers even when asleep marveled Madison. Two more realizations quickly broke through the gap the first created in the barrier of shock: One, being blessed with power over water meant that it was entirely plausible and easy to manifest protection against elements such as fire (immediately her hand was engulfed by a soothing layer of moisture infused with healing properties), and two…
…The instantaneous explosion of heat permeating from her husband's body definitely meant nothing good. It leapt higher every second, the air quickly becoming unbearable, almost suffocating. The thin blue slip she wore clung to her petite frame, making moving increasingly more difficult. The room shimmered and wavered as the temperature continued its escalation.
And then Nick combusted into flames, bright angry reds and menacing oranges melding together and apart, raging in all directions, a blatant contrast to the calming blues that instinctively shielded the Mermaid from the Phoenix's fiery reach. Madison couldn't breathe, couldn't see, all senses struck dumb by the furious assault of Nick's magic against her own. Her magic held but barely, with each flame that lashed out slicing deeper into the watery barrier. His power was growing, a reaction to his fear and pain. However, the normally reassuring presence of the Phoenix now lay buried under a waxing darkness. This strength was not his own, and she could not keep it at bay for long.
It will destroy both of us, she realized.
A stubborn resistance swelled from within her. Like the surge of high tide, it flooded every crevice of her heart, a renewed strength supporting her exhausted body and pushing the ever growing flames back.
Not again, she vowed. I will never let you fall into darkness again.
Madison forced despair away and with it all other forms of thought.
She flung herself at Nick.
Steam billowed out from where their bodies connected, accompanied by loud hissing as the two elements fought for dominance. Nick began to thrash violently and Madison's embrace tightened in response, her arms wrapped around his chest and head lying over his heart; she could hear the frantic pulsations, almost in sync with her own. Bracing herself, she pushed further up his body until she cradled his head, both hands supporting his face. Leaning down and meeting Nick's forehead with her own, she concentrated.
Immediately she felt his growing anxiety but moved forward beyond to the deeper, festering darkness surrounding his heart. And his heart was still there, faint and being suppressed more by each second, but it still remained. He was holding on, but for how long? Cautiously Madison reached out a little further with her power. The darkness shot out toward her, crackling energy racing up through her connection to Nick and into her. She gasped from the pain, and for a second time that night clenched her eyes shut to stop the oncoming tears.
Regaining control, she focused again on the darkness. This time, however, she did not probe or test its strength. She slammed straight into it, never hesitating as she ripped through, racing to reach Nick. Tendrils reached out from the dark, slowing her and attempting to drag her back. Madison fought with everything she had left.
It worked. That last push gave her the reach she needed, her energy surrounding what remained of Nick's, supporting, protecting. Their spirits connected again, as it had been since their binding of marriage, Madison called out to Nick.
"Come back Nick. Fight this."
On the outside nothing changed; Madison continued her physical struggle, lips forming the soundless words that spoke from her heart. Inside, Nick stirred.
"Come back to me Love. I'm with you."
It was as if a switch had suddenly been flipped on. A raw surge of crimson energy burst outward from within the protective sphere Madison had created, decimating the darkness with the ease expected from the Light. She remained perfectly unscathed while Nick's power wove and cleaved through the malicious shadows; indeed, his spirit seemed to permeate from Madison, abrupt explosions of red originating from the ever-constant blue orb. She was calm in the midst of the turmoil, a raft the shipwreck survivor clings to at sea. She was the eye of the storm, his storm.
As suddenly as the darkness had first appeared and stolen the peaceful night from them, it was gone. Throughout his entire body, Madison failed to sense any remnant of the evil. It was over. Only warmth enveloped her now; only a shared, consensual love. Only Nick.
Slowly Madison retreated from the comforting essence of Nick's spirit, easing back into her own conscious. A moment of disorientation passed over her briefly, her outward senses all clamoring for attention at once. She hesitantly opened her eyes only to find her husband's stare inquiringly back. Minutes crept by and neither spoke, relying instead on the comforting touches from their bond and the reassuring embrace Madison still kept around Nick. It was his deep timbre that broke the silence.
"Are you alright Maddie?" he spoke without looking at her.
"I'm not the one who should be asked that, but yes, I'm fine." Raising up from her now comfortable position and taking a quick look around the charred scenery, she added, "Although, I don't think the same can be said for the room."
Nick cast a cursory glance over the blackened drawers and the still smoldering curtains swaying pitifully against the shattered window before dryly remarking, "Dad and I can fix it in the morning." Brushing a piece of Madison's drenched, sable hair behind her ear in one smooth motion, his hands continued their path down her arms, leaving goose bumps trailing down her skin in his wake, before finally stopping where her hands rested on his chest. He grasped them, a protective grip with larger palms easily blanketing her petite fisted hands. He refused to meet her gaze still.
"Hey," her voice flowed soothingly to his ears. "It's ok. This isn't your fault-"
Nick tensed, and Madison felt a renewed heat surge throughout him. His hold tightened almost painfully as she watched the muscles of his jaw clench before his eyes flashed angrily at her.
"It's not okay Maddie!" His voice raised in volume, along with his frustration. "Stop making excuses for me! This was all my doing. No one else was here. No one else destroyed this room. No one else tried to hurt you! If you hadn't stopped me I would have burned this entire place to the ground. Don't you understand? It is my fault! I'm a monster."
Surprise at Nick's outburst had kept Madison silent, but as his tirade continued she took in his haggard appearance, his glazed-over stare, and finally with that last word –monster, it pulsed through Madison's thoughts, bitter and hated- something inside of her snapped. Her dark eyes narrowed to ice-cold slits. She wrenched one hand from his grip and forcefully cupped his chin, turning his head to make sure she captured his stare.
"Listen to me Nick. You. Are. Not. A. Monster. Have you even realized yet that you were dreaming? Whatever it was that you saw wasn't real. I don't know what you experienced that has you scared this badly; maybe it was the Master returning, or people you care for getting hurt, or maybe it was you losing yourself to the Dark again." She was using her own nightmares as examples, but knew she had hit the mark with the last one at Nick's sharp intake of breath. "But it doesn't matter. We've all been afraid and we've all reacted the same way Nick. It's not real. This-" Here she took her other hand and interlocked their fingers together, holding it up to his face, her voice now soft and pleading, "-this is real. Us. I love you Nick, and I am never going to leave you."
Nick's angry eyes turned soft and downcast. "Maddie, I-"
Madison brushed her lips against his, quieting his attempt to talk, before pressing her lips against his once more. It was a full kiss this time, passionate, all of her feelings conveyed through the touch. Nick responded, just as desperate to show her his acceptance and apology. They were lost in each other until need for air separated them. "I will always be with you," she whispered. "Never forget that Nick."
A genuine smile lit up his face. He pulled Madison down beside him, draping an arm comfortably around her waist. Placing a light kiss on her forehead both relaxed against each other. His reply was hushed, but Madison heard him before sleep claimed her again. "I won't forget Love…and thank you."