Disclaimer: I own nothing.
AN: Wow, this is depressing. It was inspired by rangerromance's video "Maddie Nick Slipped Away" on youtube. (Links never work, just search for that and it'll come up first.) Remember, this is AU and takes place just before Mystic Fate... yeah, that sounds good. (No, this is not the AU I've occasionally mentioned; that one is really long and will hopefully come this summer.) Enjoy.
Udonna's eyes strayed towards the stairs and Leanbow took her hand, drawing her gaze back to him.
"Let him be," Leanbow said gently, "he'll come down when he's ready."
"Do you really believe that?" Udonna asked, her eyes straying to the stairway once more.
"No, but I think I should be the one to talk to him." He met her sharp gaze, squeezing her hand. "I think he'll listen to me more. And anyway, I think Vida needs you now. You've lost a sister, you'll be able to help her through this. "
Udonna sighed. "You're right. I'll go find her." She stood slowly and, with a final glance towards the stairs, took a seal too Briarwood.
Leanbow glanced at the stairs and decided to wait at least five more minutes before disturbing his son's solitude.
Nick stared at the ceiling of his room. Udonna had given it to him shortly after finding out that he was her son and he had politely accepted it, thinking he would stay maybe one night there just to make her feel better. He had never thought it would be the place he went to lock out the world.
Thoughts kept running around his head. What would they do now? How could they go on with only four when there were supposed to be five? Would Vida ever be able to look at him again? Would any of them? He closed his eyes, trying to stop the flood of thoughts, and saw once more the event that brought him here.
He cried out, sitting up in the bed and cursing the day. How could he do anything at all with these thoughts and images haunting him? He was supposed to be the Light. He was supposed to be out there stopping the Master and saving the world. He threw himself out of bed and pulled the door open with so much force that his father on the other side jumped.
"Bowen," Leanbow said.
Nick walked past him darkly. "I'm going out."
"Why?" Leanbow asked, rushing to keep up.
"I have to stop him."
When they reached the bottom of the stairs Leanbow grabbed Nick's arm and spun him around.
"Right now," he said slowly, "you need to stay here and grieve."
"No!" Nick roared, pulling away. "I have to be out there doing my job. I'm the Light, I'm supposed to be saving the world."
He stormed towards the door.
"She's dead," Leanbow said, his voice even.
Nick froze and Leanbow could feel the energy gathering around him. He was ready with his shield when Nick spun around shooting a wave of fire at him. As the flames dispersed Leanbow slowly got a clear view of his son. His eyes were red but the tears evaporated before they had a chance to run down his cheeks. Leanbow stepped forward and allowed Nick to take out his frustrations. Nick struck his father in the chest, hitting him with every ounce of energy he had until he collapsed under the weight of his emotions. Leanbow caught him and they sank to the floor.
"I was supposed to protect her," Nick said.
"She was a ranger," Leanbow said firmly. "She knew the risks, you all did."
Nick shook his head. "But I'm the Red Ranger. I'm supposed to lead them, to keep them safe."
"No," Leanbow said firmly, "you are supposed to lead them, but you do not put your life or others' lives at risk to save them. She knew what she was doing. This is in no way your fault, Bowen."
"She was my friend! If I'm not fighting to save my friends, then what am I fighting for?"
Leanbow's eyes darkened slightly. "You cannot allow yourself to think like that. Those sorts of thoughts are the ones the Master will use against you."
"I don't care!" Nick looked anywhere but at his father. He knew he was supposed to care about the Master and saving the world but -- "I just want her back," he said quietly.
"I know, son, I know."
Udonna returned later that night with Vida in tow. The girl's parents were out of town and Vida hadn't wanted to be alone.
"Where's Daggeron?" Udonna asked when Leanbow handed her a cup of tea.
"She was his best student and he always felt a connection to her since she was the one who freed him from the curse. He'll be fine though. Daggeron is no stranger to loss. It's Bowen I'm worried about."
"He has every right to be."
"Anger is dangerous. The Master was able to twist my hatred for him into hatred for you. Imagine what he can do with Bowen's hatred of everything."
"It will pass. He will always hurt, but his ire will fade. He just needs time."
Leanbow sighed. He could offer no better opinion and was forced to accept his wife's words. "How are you?" he asked gently.
Udonna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Before I knew about Bowen I treated all of them like my children."
"You still do."
Udonna smiled but it didn't reach her eyes and faded quickly. "She's gone. She's really gone."
Leanbow gathered her in his arms and held her as she finally allowed herself to cry.
Vida braced herself and knocked on Nick's door. When she received no answer she knocked again, harder this time.
"Go away," Nick's voice was hollow but carried easily through the heavy wood.
Vida pushed the door open. "Hey," she said carefully, stepping inside.
Nick glanced her way before turning back to the window. "I said 'go away.'"
Vida took a seat on the edge of the bed, facing him. "How you holding up?"
Nick shrugged awkwardly.
Vida looked around the room. Everything was red, even the earthen walls. There was a miniature version of Fireheart on the bedside table. She figured Leanbow had carved it.
"Go away," Nick said again, breaking the silence.
Nick turned to her, his face contorted in anger. "What do you want?" he asked, pushing himself up. "Do you want me to talk about it? To tell you how sorry I am that I let her down?"
Vida slapped him. "Shut up. Just shut up."
"Why are you here?"
"Because she wouldn't have let you wallow and I wouldn't be much of a sister if I didn't at least do this for her. You need to pull it together because you need to lead this team. If you can't even get out of this bed how are the rest of us supposed to?"
She stood and walked to the door. "You know," she said, pausing, "she really did like you. I know it doesn't do much good now, but I thought you should know."
The door closed slowly behind her with a creak and a click. Nick stood and opened the window. He took one look around the small room before climbing out into the night. He hadn't been in the woods much at night and now understood why the citizens of Briarwood thought it was haunted. The way the wind pushed against the trees, making them moan under the pressure; the sounds of various magical creatures snoring in their beds -- though maybe that was only Phineas -- it was all enough to create nightmares and urban legends. He walked slowly through the woods, unsure of just where he was going.
He soon found himself by the lake. He let out a harsh laugh. Of course he would come here, to her element. The water was calm tonight, reflecting the full moon back at him. He closed his eyes, trying to replace the sounds of battle and screams with the trickle of water in moonlight. He was so intent on his task that he didn't notice the dark force until it was too late. His eyes snapped open as all the hate and fear of the past few hours threatened to overwhelm him. The lake was roiling now as if the ancient waters refused to reflect back such a heinous image. Nick clutched his head as tears began streaming down his cheeks. All he could hear was her cry -- that final cry she'd given as she died. It surrounded him, reverberating through his body, mind, soul until he thought it would shatter him. Then, like a beacon of light he felt it -- a calm place, a place where he didn't have to feel the pain anymore. He reached for it, not with his body, but with his mind. It would be so easy to stop caring.
"No!" the voice was strong, but almost drowned out by the forces surrounding Nick. It wasn't until the owner of the voice reached him and shook him by the shoulders that Nick realized it was Daggeron. "No," he said again, more softly but just as insistently. His gaze was hard as he said, "You would not be the man she loved if you did this."
The screaming around Nick stopped, replaced by a deep anger. He looked up at Daggeron. "She's not here to see it, is she?"
Daggeron's eyes widened as Nick struck him down.
AN: Yeah, I wanted Nick to lash out against the Master but the whole time I was writing I felt that if Madison ever died, Nick would turn evil. Feel free to argue. And please remember to review since this is a one shot.