Author's Note: Enjoy the story! This one is dedicated to one very special person. My Aunt, who lives in North Carolina and who, surprisingly, gave me the idea for this story! :) Thanks Aunt Tracy and good luck with the hurricanes (i think you'll need it)! :) Oh yeah, and in this story, you'll FINALLY found out Zhane's last name! :)
Karone stood in the middle of Aruba Park on KO-35 and looked around smiling. It had been a little over 14 years since she had been at that park.
They had done it. KO-35 was now a planet again, with almost all it's original inhabitants. She smiled at that thought, then thought of her parents whom she had just talked to. Even though she hadn't gotten any sleep in almost six days now, she didn't care a bit as long as she had her family, and her teammates.
She was suddenly curious as to why Zhane had asked her to meet him here. She supposed it was for them to be alone, but he had asked her to wear casual clothes . . . . so there must be someone he wanted her to meet.
She had decided on a light pink summer dress, that Cassie had given to her.
"This should be nice enough for a first impression." She smiled as she toyed with the sides of the dress.
She heard someone clear their throat behind her and she spun around to see who.
Zhane was standing there with two people. A man, and a woman, who were also smiling at her.
*Oh my god.....* Her thoughts screamed, *They're his parents! *
"Karone, these are my parents. Tracyn and Xavier Diexion." Zhane introduced and his parents smiled at her.
*Man! I knew I should've told her! * Zhane's thoughts scolded him as he saw the utterly surprised look on her face.
"It's so lovely to see you again, dear." His mother smiled.
"You will be coming to the celebration tonight, won't you?" His father asked.
"Yes, of course!" Karone smiled at them.
"That is wonderful!" His mother said, then turned her attention back to Zhane, "I think we'd better get back now son. Me and your father have so much to do"
Zhane nodded his head, "Okay, I'll catch up with you two later though. I want to talk to Karone alone first."
His mother looked at Karone, and it could have been her imagination, but Karone thought the look had a slight hint of disgust in it.
"Yes, well. Alright." His mother said and the two left Zhane and Karone alone.
He walked up to her and took her hands, "Sorry about that."
"About what?" She asked, puzzled.
"I should've told you I was bringing my parents." Zhane told her regretfully.
Karone shrugged her shoulders; "It's okay. I was just a little surprised, that's all." She looked up at him and noticed his silver/gray eyes sparkling with amusement.
"What?" She asked curiously as she slid her arms around his neck.
"Nothing." He smiled as he looked around the park, then back to her.
"What is it?" Karone pressed curiously. He had always found a way to make her tell him something, now it was her turn.
Zhane looked back into her eyes and smiled, "I was just thinking about how much my parents like you. And......how much I missed you."
"I missed you too." She admitted, then added, "A lot. Those 2 weeks I was gone.....seemed like forever."
"Well, I was only awake for 5 days of it, but it was still torture." Zhane assured her and he felt her body stiffen in his arms.
"What?" She asked.
"Didn't somebody tell you? Right after Darkonda disappeared I took a hit for Andros and was put back into hyper sleep. Luckily Collier helped us out." Zhane explained and he saw genuine concern in her eyes.
"Are you sure you're okay?" She asked him, extremely concerned. Why hadn't someone told her about this?
"I'm fine." Zhane assured her quickly; the last thing he wanted was to have her worrying too much about him.
"Are you sure you're--" She started again, but he interrupted her.
"I'm fine." He said firmly, and she smiled a little.
"So, your powers are okay? I mean, they aren't like last time?" She wanted to make sure.
"Everything's fine." He assured her brought her into a hug.
She couldn't help but still worry. Was it still too soon to tell if the hyper sleep had done any damage to him? What if one moment when they were in battle, he suddenly demorphed like Andros had said he had done the last time he had awakened from hyper sleep?
She pulled away and asked softly, "So, what are you doing the rest of the day?"
Zhane sighed, "I'm supposed to help Andros and Teej with the port thrusters on the mega ship. But....you know I could just tell them we can work on it later." He said with a sly smile.
She smiled back at him slyly and laughed a little, "As much as I'd love to have you stay here, You'd better go take care of that problem. We're gonna need the mega ship running perfectly if there are any more attacks. Which, there most likely will be."
Zhane moaned, wishing she would have told him to stay and forget the mega ship, but he knew as well as she did that the mega ship was a key tool in battle that always needed to be running.
"Alright." Zhane sighed, reluctant to go, "You sure you'll be alright by yourself?"
She shot him a sly look, "Who said I'd be alone? I think I'll go talk with you mother for a while........"
Zhane laughed, "Oh great, now I'll have two women telling me what to do."
Karone smiled at him and kissed him lightly on the lips, "I'll see you later."
She walked away, then turned around, "Stay outta trouble."
He shrugged, and tried to put on a serious look, but it came out a smile, "You know me."
She giggled, then turned back around and walked towards the celebration tent, where most people were getting ready for the huge party that night.
Karone walked happily into the tent were she saw tons of people preparing a vast amount of food for the celebration that night.
She looked over the room, and finally saw Zhane's mom hard at work on something. She smiled and she walked over to her.
"Can I help you with anything Mrs.Diexion?" Karone asked sweetly and his mother looked up at her.
"Who are you?" Tracyn asked grumpily.
Karone looked at her shocked, but instead of a stern tone she kept talking sweetly, "I'm Zhane's girlfriend. Karone Lanrydan. We met this morning in the park." She reminded the lady.
Tracyn stopped working and dried her hands off with a towel, "Ah yes, your that Lanrydan Pink Power Ranger girl."
Karone was taken aback by someone referring to her like that, but still said nothing.
"I need to speak with you alone," Then added in a little girl voice mocking Karone, "Little Miss Karone."
The lady shoved Karone and walked into a private room. Karone gasped at that gesture, but nonetheless walked behind Zhane's mother into the room where she shut the door behind her.
"What do you think you're doing with my son?" The lady demanded, now in an extremely harsh tone.
Karone's eyes widened. This isn't what she had in mind for a heart felt talk with her boyfriends mother.
"What do you mean?" Karone asked, afraid to say anything else.
"You know what I mean." Tracyn snapped, "Don't put up this foolish polite girl act with me. I can see right through you. All Rytanians are the same."
That struck a nerve, and she gasped, "Ry--Rytanians? How can you speak so cruelly of people that just helped free your planet?"
"Don't tell me how I am speaking. I know perfectly well what I am saying. The only reason the Rytanians were called to help on us is because you are their leader. If you hadn't been born on KO-35 and knew none of the people on it, would you still have helped us?" Tracyn demanded.
Karone opened her mouth to say something, then tried to retain her polite stature, "I do not wish to argue with you about such political things. It is not appropriate and I have found myself very uncomfortable in this discussion."
"Well isn't that just too bad." Tracyn said sarcastically, "I am Zhane's mother and believe or not you will have to deal with me sooner or later."
"I am not going to argue with someone that Zhane's loves so dearly." Karone stated and his mother crossed her arms.
"So now you think you know my son better than I do!" Tracyn accused.
Karone sighed, seeing there was no polite way out of this discussion, "Look, Mrs.Diexion, I love your son, and he loves me. And--"
Tracyn threw up her arms in disgrace, and interrupted her, "My son thinks he's in love with you. But the truth is a Kerovian can't fall in love with a person of a different heritage. It just isn't right!"
"But I am Kerovian. What does this have to do with anything anyways?" Karone asked, getting frustrated.
"Then let me ask you this." Tracyn said, crossing her arms again, "If KO-35 went under heavy attack again, and so did Rytan. Which one would you defend?"
Karone opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Tracyn had her speechless.
"This is not fair." Was all Karone said in a whisper.
"I knew it! Just because you were born on KO-35 doesn't mean that you are Kerovian. The fact is you are a Rytanian through and through. Don't deny it. You would defend them wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?!" Zhane's mother was now shouting at her and Karone could barely take anymore of this.
Karone could say anything, and she felt tears come to her eyes.
Tracyn scoffed, "Oh.....You're not going to cry are you?"
Karone didn't say anything and Tracyn said sternly, just above a whisper, "Why don't you just go back to were you came from. And leave my son alone." And she walked out of the room.
Karone sighed and sat down in the chair, covering her face with her hands, not believing what had just taken place.
She suddenly got up and wiped a few tears off her face.
*Who am I going to talk to about all of this? * Her thoughts asked her, *I obviously can't talk to Zhane. He probably wouldn't believe any of this anyways unless he saw it for himself. I can't go to my parents, they would definitely interfere......So.....who can I go to?*
Then it hit her and she got up and walked out of the room to the only person she knew she could count on in a situation like this. Ashley.
Karone walked down the hallway of the mega ship, praying to God that Zhane wasn't on at the time.
She reached Ashley's door and sighed thankfully. But when she raised her hand to knock on the door, she heard Andros walk up behind her.
"Hey little sister." Andros greeted happily as he walked up to her.
She frowned, but turned around and shot him her best smile, "Hey! You guys still working on the port thrusters?"
Andros nodded his head, but looked into her eyes and frowned, "Are you okay?"
*Man, nothing get's by him! * Her thoughts exclaimed.
"Sure! I'm just great!" Karone covered, and added with a brilliant smile, "Never been better!"
Andros smiled a little, and nodded his head. *She sounds like Ashley.....*
"Anything else?" She asked.
"No, just uh....take it easy okay?" Andros told her, he knew something was wrong, but obviously she didn't want to talk about it.
"Sure thing!" She smiled and with one last odd look to her, he walked down the hallway.
She slouched a little and sighed, then knocked on Ashley's door.
"Just a minute!" She heard Ashley's cheerful voice reply to the knock.
A few seconds later the door shot upwards and Ashley was facing her smiling. "Hey Karone! What's up?"
"Um....do you have a few minutes? There's something I kinda need to talk to you about." Karone told her and it was as if Ashley knew something had happened.
"Sure, come on in." Ashley said and the door closed behind them, leaving them to talk in private.
Andros walked off the megalift to the basement of the mega ship were the port thruster circuitry was and handed an EM-Scanner to Zhane.
Zhane looked up at him and noticed the odd expression on his face, "What's up?"
"Have you noticed something about Karone today?" Andros asked him curiously.
Zhane shrugged his shoulders, "No, she seemed fine a while ago in the park. Why?"
Andros sighed, "Well, I just saw her a few minutes ago outside Ashley's room and her eyes were a little red, and she looked really worried about something."
Zhane stopped working, "So, what do you think it is?"
He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "I don't know but, she obviously didn't want me to know. She tried to cover it up with a real cheery attitude."
Zhane nodded his head. She had done that before when she was really worried or stressed out about something.
"Hey listen ummm . . . Do you think you could finish this by yourself?" Zhane asked.
"Sure." Andros told him and Zhane walked into the mega lift.
"Where would you like to go?" DECA asked him.
He was about to say the exit, then decided, "You know what? I think I'll just teleport there. Thanks anyways DECA."
He pushed his teleportation button on his communicator, and in a flash, he was outside of the celebration tent.
He walked inside and saw his mother working happily.
He smiled and walked over to her, coming behind her and giving her a big hug.
Tracyn gasped and laughed, "There's my son! Come here and taste this for me!"
Zhane smiled and tasted the sauce, "Mmmmm.... This is delicious! The best you've ever made." He declared.
"Why thank you." She smiled, then asked, "So why may I ask has my wonderful son came to visit me?"
Zhane's mind shifted back to Karone and he asked, "Have you talked to Karone today? Andros said she looked upset awhile ago."
"Do you think I made her upset?" Her mother asked briskly as she continued to work.
"No, no, no! It's just, she said she was gonna come here and talk to you. So I thought maybe you had seen her. That's all." Zhane assured.
Tracyn stopped and thought for a minute, "No....I don't believe I've talked to her since we met in the park this morning." She lied, then went back to work.
Zhane shrugged, "Okay. Thanks mom." He hugged her one last time, "Stay sweet."
His mother laughed, and he walked out of the tent and looked around.
"What could she be upset about?" He whispered to himself.
"So, what do you think Ashley?" Karone asked as she finished the story of what Zhane's mother had said.
Ashley sighed, "She obviously has problems if she doesn't like you. MAJOR problems."
Karone sighed also, "But Ash, I mean face it. The lady has a point. I honestly don't know what I would do if both Rytan, and KO-35 were attacked at the same time. I've never thought about it before."
"But Karone, You don't have any reason to think about that! I mean, that's the last thing in the world that you would want to happen. And it's most likely never going to happen! She's just trying to get you to doubt yourself so you'll break up with Zhane." Ashley explained.
"She has a point though. Even though I was born on KO-35, it doesn't mean I'm Kerovian. It just means I was born on KO-35. But you know, I'm not really a Rytanian either....." She moaned in frustration, "I don't know who I am anymore."
Ashley sat down by her friend and put her arm around her, "You are you. You're Karone. The Pink Power Ranger." Then she added gently, "My best friend. That is who you are to me, and to everyone else on the team."
Karone looked over at her; "I'm your best friend?"
Ashley nodded her head, "Yep."
"Thanks." Karone smiled, "You're my best friend, too." Then she sighed, "I don't know what to do about Tracyn."
"Well, don't look at the big picture." Ashley suggested, "Just take it one step at a time. For instance, now that all of this has happened, are you still going to the dinner tonight with Zhane and his parents?"
Karone shrugged, "Everyone will be expecting me. TJ, Carlos, Andros, you. I just can't not go. Plus, this is really important to Zhane." She stood up confidently, "I'm gonna go."
Ashley smiled and stood up beside her friend, "You are truly the bravest person I have ever met!"
Karone and Ashley walked side by side as they walked up to the tent around 8 o'clock that nite. Ashley looked over at her friend, and could tell she was nervous about talking to Zhane's mother again.
"You know," Ashley said as they stood outside the tent were hundreds of people were, "You don't have to do this?"
Karone nodded and smiled, "I know. But I want to."
Ashley smiled back and they both walked into the tent, then Karone suddenly stopped, "I almost forgot! I told Zhane that I'd meet him outside by the fountain!"
"Okay, I'll see you later. Good luck." Ashley wished her and Karone walked off to find Zhane.
She walked out and searched, until she saw Zhane.......with his mother and another girl around her age.
She eyed them curiously and walked a few steps closer then realized that his mother was introducing him to the girl. And the girl did not look like an old friend.
She saw the girl laugh, and touch Zhane's arm. The girl was flirting with him. Of course, she knew girls would flirt with him, but she always knew that he loved her, but this time..........his mother was in on this too and that made Karone doubt it.
"She's trying to find a replacement for me." Karone whispered, then slowly turned around and walked back into the tent and found were the others were sitting.
"I thought you were going to met Zhane." Ashley said, then realized that something must have been wrong for her to come back alone.
Karone cleared her throat and sat down by her brother, she said quickly as she unfolded her napkin, "I didn't see him. I'm sure he'll be here soon."
Ashley heard the brisk tone in her voice and knew she had to tell someone about what was going on.
"Well, it's probably best if he's not here yet. Because after he gets here, there won't be any food left for anyone else." Andros said seriously, and TJ and Carlos burst into laughter.
Andros looked over at them and shrugged, "What are you two laughing about? It's the truth!"
TJ and Carlos just kept laughing and Andros shook his head.
"Andros!" Ashley suddenly said a bit loudly and it made Andros jumped a little in his chair.
He looked at her, puzzled and she grabbed his arm and stood up, "Let's go dance!"
"But I was just--" He started.
"Now." She eyed him, hoping he would see the urgency.
"Okay." Andros agreed and she practically drug him to the dance floor.
"What was that all about?" Andros asked quietly.
"There is something really wrong going on. And since you're Karone's brother, I think you should know." She told him.
He looked at her seriously now, "What's going on?"
Karone looked around the room for Zhane and suddenly spotted him, his mother, and the girl standing just outside the tent.
They walked in and Zhane walked over to beside her and pulled out a chair. She smiled to herself, but looked away, and saw Tracyn whisper something to the girl.
To Karone's surprise, the girl rushed into the chair Zhane had just pulled out for himself and sat down.
"Why thank you Zhane. That was so sweet of you!" The girl thanked cheerfully.
Zhane, with an obviously aggravated look, sighed, "No problem." And sat down in the chair next to the girl.
Zhane's mother came up and sat down by him smiling, "Zhane, have you introduced your friends to you date?"
"She's not my--" Zhane started, you could hear the irritation in his voice.
"Hello!" The girl stood up and shook everyone's hand; "I'm Leandra. Zhane's date for this evening."
TJ and Carlos shot Karone a 'what the heck is she talkin' about' look and Karone just shrugged and rolled her eyes.
"It's uh....nice to meet you....Leandra. I'm TJ." TJ introduce himself, feeling odd though.
"I'm Carlos." He said, not knowing what else to say.
The girl clapped her hands together and gasped at Karone in an awe like fashion, and smiled, "And you must be Karone! Oh I must say you are a vision!"
Karone snapped her head in Leandra's direction and forcibly smiled. She saw Zhane looking at her sadly, but she focused on Leandra. She said in between her gritted teeth, "Yes that would be me.......the vision."
TJ and Carlos muffled their laughs and she saw Zhane shoot her a worried look.
Karone cleared her throat, "So, uh....where did you two meet?"
"We just met out by the fountain. Tracyn was kind enough to introduce us." Leanadra told them and Karone saw Zhane close his eyes.
Suddenly, Andros and Ashley sat back down at the table and Ashley sat by here this time, instead of Andros.
She looked over and saw Andros give her an extremely worried look and she gave Ashley a confused look.
Then she saw Andros start to whisper something to him but Leandra spoke to her.
"So Karone, I hear you are the Pink Power Ranger." Leandra said flatly.
Karone turned her head back towards Leandra and replied slowly, "Yes......"
"So you get to ride in one of those little things.....oh what are they called?" Leandra asked.
Tracyn interrupted and said ruethfully, "Cars?"
Karone said slowly, as if she were talking to little children, "Zords......."
Zhane smiled at her, but she saw his mother elbow him.
"Yes well, all I have to say is those things were meant to be commanded by men." Leandra said briskly.
"May I ask why you think that?" Karone asked curiously as she took a bite of her chicken.
"Well they're so complicated, only an intelligent man should command them." Then she added with a smile, "Like my Zhane."
Zhane threw down his napkin and sighed, "Okay that's it. What the heck is going on here?"
Karone looked over at TJ now, who had been whispering something to Carlos and Carlos, shot her a sad look.
"What's wrong is you are dating a Rytanian!" His mother shouted and stood up.
"What does Karone have to do with anything?" Zhane demanded to know and stood up.
"Well, ask your mother!" Andros shouted to him, "She's the one that thinks Karone isn't good enough for you!"
Karone looked at Andro's wide eyed and then Ashley stood up and threw her napkin down on the table, "What you said to her Mrs.Diexion was not fair. Karone is the best friend I've have had!"
TJ stood up also and threw his napkin down, "And what does it matter what heritage she has if she loves your son?"
Karone opened her mouth to say something but Carlos beat her to it, "Karone deserves better than how you're treating her!"
Zhane looked at his mother wildly then asked madly, "What exactly did you say to her, mother?"
Karone slid her chair back and stood up and asked loudly, "How in the heck do all of you know about this?!"
Everyone went quiet, then started talking all at once.
Andros said something about Ashley saying something. And meanwhile Zhane was arguing with his mom and TJ and Carlos were talking about something.
Karone just sighed and threw her arms up in the air helplessly, "Okay, I'm out of here."
She walked out of the tent and decided to walk down to the park for awhile, until the whole group calmed down.
She sat down on the cold bench and sat her pink handbag to her side. She knew they were just trying to help her, and she smiled at their effort. But the outcome of all of this, even she didn't know.
She did know that Zhane loved her, and that she loved him. But would it be enough? Only time would tell.
Luckily, that time only lasted 20 minutes. She saw Zhane running through the park, obviously looking for her and she smiled.
She didn't say anything, and he finally spotted her and ran over to sit down by her.
"Karone, look we need to talk about what my mom--" Zhane started, but she hushed him by putting her finger against his lips.
He looked at her confused, and she looked up to the starry sky and said simply, "Everyone likes peanut butter."
He raised his eyebrow and shot her an even more confused look, "What?"
"Everyone likes peanut butter." She repeated, then looked at him and explained, "I had my very first taste of peanut butter today when I talked to Ashley. Even though that was 4 hours ago, I still have the taste in my mouth. I mean, even if you have the smallest little taste, it lasts like all the time."
"You've still got me lost." Zhane said seriously.
She continued, "You see, everyone likes peanut butter. Even the people that don't like it, like it, but in a different way. Obviously the people that like peanut butter, eat it whenever they feel like it, because well, the like it. But even the people that don't like it always have a jar. Maybe they shove it into the back of their cabinet or something. When something happens, like there's a storm or an attack or something and they have to stay home when they don't have anything else to eat they dig out the peanut butter. It's like peanut butter isn't quite good enough to eat as a main course, yet it's good enough to have as a last resort sort of thing."
Zhane finally understood the analogy and shook his head understandingly.
"I'm the peanut butter. And your mother is a person that doesn't like peanut butter." She said plainly, then asked, "So, what are you?"
Zhane drew aback, as if she should already know the answer, "Well, everyone knows that I love peanut butter."
She smiled and he lifted a hand to her face, "I will always love peanut butter."
She laughed a little, "Who knew peanut butter could be soooo romantic?"
Zhane matched her laugh and ended it with a soft kiss on her lips.
From the other side of the park, Andros and Ashley looked at them, smiling.
"I love off days." Ashley sighed happily.
"As opposed to on days?" Andros asked, confused and Ashley giggled.
"Off as in, not having to defend the universe." She explained with a smile.
Andros nodded his head understandingly now, "Me too. So, what you say? Want to ditch the party and have that date I asked you on about 2 weeks ago today?"
He held out his hand she took it, "I'd love to."