Disclaimer: I still don't own Power Rangers
A/N: Wow, my bunnies are ALL over the place. It's like, I know what's happening in three chapters, but not what's happening next. This chapter follows the episode "Rock Solid"
Chip found Madison at Rootcore, reading a spell book on the stairs overlooking the main room, "Hey," he said with a slight smile, "got a minute?"
Madison smiled, "Only if you give me a back rub, I'm still stiff."
"Sure," Chip said, and settled behind her. He rubbed her shoulders for a minute before he began to talk, "I was wondering, do I act gay?"
"What?" Madison said, "Where did that come from?"
"Nick," Chip replied, "he asked if Xander and I were dating."
Madison twisted to look at him for a moment, then turned back around, satisfied by whatever she'd seen on his face. "People have asked before, Chip, I've seen you shrug it off."
"Yeah, but why do they keep asking," Chip said, "it's not like I have a rainbow pin on my backpack or anything."
"Not anymore," Madison said teasingly.
"Madison," Chip said, "please, why do people keep thinking that Xander and I are dating?"
Madison hesitated for a moment, leaning into his hands almost automatically as he rubbed his thumbs into her neck. "Chip, don't take this the wrong way, but you have no concept of personal space." She bowed her head a little in response to the pressure. "It's what makes you so good with your cousins, you don't hesitate to hug or tickle, and it's a good thing. Sometimes it carries over to your friends as well. I don't mind personally, it's kind of comforting to get a hug when I'm feeling down. Vida and Xander don't seem to mind either, in fact, I would say you encourage them to drop their own personal boundaries in a good way. People who don't know you get the wrong impression."
Chip swallowed, "Does it bother Nick?"
"You surprise him," Madison said after a moment, "he hasn't made a real decision on if he likes it or not. At least, I don't think he has. I'm not his confidant, Chip, not like I am for Vida and Xander, or you for that matter. He's new, you have to give him time to fit in."
Chip shifted his hands, pressing the heels of his hands into the space between Madison's shoulder blades and the small of her back and making circles. He stared at the back of her neck for a long moment, trying to think of something to say.
"Did you talk to Ben?" Madison asked.
Chip jerked, "Uh, who?"
"Chip," Madison turned and stared at him.
"Maybe," Chip replied cautiously.
"You threatened him didn't you?" Madison demanded.
"What? Chip threatened someone?"
Chip jumped, and took advantage of Madison's diverted attention to stand up, "Hey Nick," he said, "I didn't threaten anyone, why would you think that?"
Madison huffed an amused sigh, "Because you do things like that."
"He does?" Nick said, leaning against the banister, "I never pictured you as the type to advocate violence, Chip, at least, not actual violence."
"I don't," Chip insisted, "and I threatened no one."
"I believe that Ben's exact words were," Madison said, "'Your red head friend is an interesting character. Do you know he threatened me with death by paper napkin if I hurt you?'"
"Death by paper napkin," Nick repeated, "does that actually work?"
"I don't know," Chip replied, "Maddie's never let me figure it out."
"And you won't be using Ben as a test subject," Madison added.
"Yes Madison," Chip sighed. He glanced at his watch and yelped, "I have to go, Aunt Andy's going to freak if I'm late for supper again. Glad you're not stone anymore, Madison," he jumped the stairs and fled.
Vida found Chip finishing chores in the barn, "You know," she said, startling him, "I am perfectly capable of threatening my sister's boyfriends."
Chip grinned, "Yeah, but then your dad finds out and he goes all 'Taming of the Shrew' on Madison."
"Still," Vida began.
"And my threat only works if I have help," Chip added as he pushed the now empty wheelbarrow to it's place. "You're needed to help subdue and kidnap him, then Xander to tie him up with all those nifty knots he knows."
"The plan from freshman year," Vida said dryly, "do you still think that will work?"
"Do you think you could take him down?" Chip countered, then shook his head, "Sorry, I should know better than to question your butt kicking ability."
"Of course you should," Vida said, her tone turned teasing, "I'm more concerned about your fascination with Xander's knot tying ability. Should I be worried?"
"Only insofar as it pertains to killing whoever hurts Madison," Chip replied. He gave Vida a look, then started climbing up to the hayloft. When he reached the small room at the back of the hay that still bore the messily written sign proclaiming it the 'Fortress of Solitude', he glanced back to find Vida following him.
"What's wrong?" Vida asked as soon as the door shut behind him.
"People are asking the gay question again," Chip replied, "you aren't helping."
"You mean Nick is asking about it," Vida said, "I knew I shouldn't have let Xander be the only one to punch him."
"And you wonder why he's asking," Chip muttered.
"Chip," Vida said, "you've never let the questions bother you before. I know, Xander knows and Madison knows that you're straight; Xander dates too much not to be straight." They shared grimaces, because Xander didn't really understand the meaning of the word discretion. "Why is it even bothering you? What happened to your ability to shrug off the opinions of others?"
"I don't know," Chip replied, "this is just, it's really bothering me that people are asking if I'm gay."
"I think you do know why," Vida replied, "but in interest of preserving what sanity you may happen to still have, I did actually have a motive to come over here."
"You mean other than to yell at me for threatening Ben?" Chip asked.
"Yes," Vida said, smacking the back of his head. "Charlie is getting married and I need a date for the wedding, you're going with me. Suite and tie, it's a formal thing, but I'm not going to say anything if you, say, wear your Superman tie and matching cape."
Chip grinned, "You mean the clip on tie that looks like it has a comic printed on it?"
"Yeah, that one," Vida replied.
Chip rubbed his chin, pretending to think about it. He already knew he was going, in part because Vida hadn't given him a choice and in part because it was Vida, and he didn't mind doing favors for her. "When's the wedding?"
"Saturday, over in Woodland Hills. I'll come get you at two." Vida replied with a smirk.
"I'll be ready," Chip promised, he laughed, "I'll wear the suite Aunt Andy bought for prom!"
"Not the superhero costume," Vida began.
Chip flipped his hand, "No, the actual suite, the one my dad paid for and Aunt Andy had tailored. Dad still can't believe I wore my costume instead, even though I told him I was going to." The two Rangers exchanged amused smiles.
They jumped, and Chip hurried to open the door, "Yeah, Lucas?"
"Dinner's on the table," Lucas called back, "Ms. Andy wants to know if your friends are staying."
Chip looked at Vida, who shook her head, "Can't, family thing."
Chip nodded slightly, "No," he called back, "and we're coming." He headed out the door and got a good look at Lucas's surprise when only Vida followed him down. "I'll see you tomorrow, V," Chip said.
"Don't be late," Vida replied.
Chip watched her drive off and sighed. "Ok," Lucas said, "I'm confused. Are you dating Vida?"
Chip managed to stop laughing before Lucas decided he was hysterical and went for help. Barely.