Phantom tried to focus past the pain, both in his heart and in his body. He still had not recovered from the battle on Hercuron. It had been over a month and a half since that battle, and he still ached. This what I get for pushing myself so hard. He had been warned, by more than one medic, that he could not go on like this. He could not push himself so hard, or he would end up killing himself.
I have to. Itís the only way I can keep myself distracted. He shook his head and willed the pain away. He did not want to think about what she must have thought when he was not there when she returned.
He tried to will the memories away, but they sprang to the forefront of his mind. Her hand gripping his arm, the only thing keeping him from falling flat on his face. Youíre a failure! You couldnít save your planet, couldnít save Eltar, couldnít even screw up the courage to tell Cassie that you love her. Youíre nothing but a big fat failure! He growled to himself, but he did not have anything to dispute the voice. He could have done so much more, but he had been weak. Now everyone in the galaxy would pay for it.
"Thatís not true. The Aquitian and Earth Rangers are holding their own. Iím not alone anymore. Not if I didnít want to be." He whispered, but the words sounded hollow even to his ears. The medics did not understand that he had to push himself this hard. He could not let Zordon down, not after everything the ancient wizard had done to help him.
He stumbled and his hand automatically clutched the ruby that held his life. He tried not to think about how close he had come to death over a year ago. Over a year ago, the words made it seems so far away, but to him it seemed like just yesterday. Over a year ago, I gave up my crystal to save Cassieís life. It was all a trick to get my ruby and destroy me. All a trick and I fell for it. Why? Because I fell in love with her. He laughed harshly as he sat down in the cockpit of his fighter.
I loved her so much that I strung her along at every opportunity. Never told her anything about myself, making her think that I was interested and then leaving when she needed me the most. "I go where I am needed" what a pile of crap. I go where I want, where I need to be to make up for past sins. He left her when she and her teammates needed him the most. Just a few precious weeks after he had left, Divatox managed to breach the Power Chamber and strip them of their powers.
Again at Hercuron they had needed him and he had not been there. This time he had been unconscious. He knew that she expected him to be there when they returned. He had known that they would return. Their compassion demanded that they make sure he was all right. He could not think about what his absence must have cost Cassie.
He felt something wet slide down his face and realized it was his tears. I have to know. I need to know. He thought as his hand reached out for the communication array, only to stop. I canít. I canít bear hearing that she hates me. That I blew it this last time. It wasnít my fault! I was lucky I regained consciousness long enough to tell them where I was going. He screamed in the privacy of his mind. Still, the voice taunted him.
Youíve been out of the Medical Bay on Aquitar for how long? And still you havenít done anything about this. Admit it, youíre never going to do anything about it. Youíre a coward just like you always were, only now you have some fancy dancy powers.
"Shut up." He growled to himself. "Iím not a coward; Zordon made me realize that. I can do thisÖI hope." Steeling his courage, he reached out once again and with a trembling hand punched in the coordinates for the Astro Megaship.
Phantom almost terminated the communication five times as he waited for DECA to acknowledge his signal. I can do this. I have to know one way or the other. I canít go on not knowing. This is slowly killing me. Finally the wait was over and DECAís computerized voice came through his speakers.
"This is the Astro Megaship. Please identify yourself."
Phantom took a deep breath. Itís now or never. "This is the Phantom Ranger of Eltar. I must speak with Cassie, the Pink Ranger." He winced as his voice sounded whiny to his ears.
His viewscreen crackled to life and his breath caught in his throat. There sitting by the window, with a look of utter surprise on her face wasÖCassie.