Wow, I haven't written a song-lyric fic in months! It's amazing it's been that long, but I couldn't resist the urge to do this one. You see, any of you watching PRLG now know that Karone has (temporarily) replaced Kendrix as the Pink Galaxy Ranger. While I'm glad to see Karone again, I'm a little off-put by the fact that Zhane wasn't mentioned anywhere in the episodes with Karone or the other Space Rangers. I hope beyond hope that Saban isn't going to just forget he ever existed! And I think (and I hope I'm wrong) that I'm seeing sparks between Leo and Karone! So, these concerns led me to write a Zhane/Karone song-lyric tribute. Actually, while I adore this couple, I haven't devoted much writing to them. So, I'm trying to make amends for it now. The song's Foreigner's, and while it's relatively old, I think it's familiar.

I Want to Know What Love Is
by: Rachel Dawson

"By the Fates," she whispered, leaning her forehead against the cold, thick glass of the window, "I can see it..."

She swallowed hard, fear furrowing her brow and moisture building in her eyes as the beautiful blue and green orb hovering in space like a precious gem grew larger. With each passing moment, the lush features of the planet grew clearer to her view. She could already make out the swirling clusters of cottony clouds that floated carelessly through the atmosphere. Large oceans spread across the circumference, appearing calm and still due to distance.

While from afar the planet looked so vibrant and serene, a tear slid down her face as the truth stung her heart like a stab wound- the surface wasn't serene. It was recovering from the massive destruction that she had caused.

She pressed her lips together to slow the trembling, and moved away from the window. She wrapped her arms around her slender body, as if by some miracle the gesture could warm the hollow cold that seeped into her heart. There was a pit there, sucking the life out of the young woman like a black hole. And just like a black hole, nothing could escape its pull.

The black hole was comprised entirely of guilt.

I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines,
In case I need it when I'm older

She could never escape the guilt. As the Megaship slowly approached Earth, the pain in her chest grew. It was only days ago that she was Astronema, the self-proclaimed Queen of the Universe. She had launched a devastating attack on all creation, commanding the alliance of evil that included the feared Machine Empire, Divatox, Rita, and Lord Zedd. She had organized an enormous invasion, intent upon crushing all resistance to her throne.

She was a hair's width from succeeding.

She had succeeded where so many before her failed. She had the Power Rangers on their knees. Not just the Power Rangers of Earth, but even Prince Trey of Triforia and the Aquitian Rangers. She had Zordon in her grasp, and she slowly drained away his life-force to augment her nigh-fathomless power. Earth became her stepping-stool, and thousands of Velocifighters buzzed through the sky, firing at anything and everything within range... whether or not it posed a threat. Swarms of Quantrons and Piranhatrons filled the streets of Angel Grove, the home and haven of the Power Rangers since the very beginning, and laid waste to corporate buildings, residential areas, parks, and schools without discrimination. Blazing fires lit up the night sky, and smoke clouded the sun's beaming gaze during the day.

She had humanity on its knees, and she wasn't about to show any mercy. For two cataclysmic days, the planet stared into the face of Armageddon. If it weren't for luck, primarily, Earth would've fallen victim to her elaborately-planned Countdown to Destruction. As Astronema, she was so close to annihilating mankind on a whim.

And now, she dared to go back to Earth as if nothing had ever happened.

Now this mountain I must climb,
Feels like the world upon my shoulders
Through the clouds I see love shine,
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In all honesty, Karone had no desire to return to Earth. Almost immediately after Andros' love and Zordon's purifying stream had purged her of Dark Specter's wicked influence, the Space Rangers had traveled to KO-35, to assist the disparate colonies in the revival of their community. Karone couldn't express the joy she felt at seeing her home planet slowly thrive, reflecting the peaceful memories of childhood she managed to retain.

Things were different on KO-35. Astronema's icy reach never imposed upon that planet. No, Astronema had never even set foot on the planet until Andros coaxed her to go, in the hopes of reviving memories of her past. She had no part in the destruction of her culture, and most of the people had no knowledge of Astronema, or the fact that she had been Astronema. To the people she encountered during their short stay, she was welcomed with open arms as Karone, the long-lost sister of the heroic Red Ranger and youngest child of a very influential family. While she was saddened that she didn't get the chance to see her parents again, she was thrilled that she was able to contribute to the restoration of her planet.

With all the destruction she had caused in the universe, a bit of work restoring it was on the right path to making amends. Still, while she felt great joy at being amongst her people, free from judgement, she couldn't stay in that bliss. Instead, she was being forced to face her nightmare.

Going back to Earth.

Of course, it was her decision to join the others. She had intended to remain on KO-35 with Andros and Zhane, but it was very clear the moment that the bay door closed that Andros could not be happy separated from Ashley Hammond by millions of miles. Their short acquaintance had somehow developed into a love so strong, Andros was willing to forsake the planet he had missed so dearly just to be with her.

It didn't take long for both herself and Zhane to realize that they would be incomplete without Andros, so hand in hand they boarded the Megaship behind him. And with smiles and warm hugs, the crew sped towards Earth.

For Karone, however, the smile was only skin deep. And as Earth grew closer, the fear escalated.

She felt like a lost child. She didn't have a normal development, to say the least. Only weeks ago, Andros had introduced her to feelings such as trust or loyalty. She had just been acquainted with the concept of love.

Surely, she was indeed as human as everyone else on the ship. But, she was lacking in a full comprehension of love. She knew the others cared for her, but she couldn't overcome the fact that all the people aboard the ship were her enemies just days ago. She had nearly killed them all. Could they ever forgive her?

They all hated Astronema, but suddenly, they all loved Karone? It didn't make sense to her. All she had ever known was hatred, envy, deceit, and treachery. She couldn't get her mind around pure, selfless emotions.

She wanted so much to just be like everyone else. With all her being, she wished she could just erase the past ten years of her life, and start out fresh. Evil was all she had known, and while her brother had managed to penetrate the emotional wall Astronema had erected, there was nothing to replace it.

Everything that was Astronema was evil. Everything she thought to be true was a lie. And now, she had to start all over again... but with the weight of guilt hovering over her perpetually like a storm cloud.

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far,
To change this lonely life

However, with all of Karone's deep contemplation, there was one anomaly. One factor just didn't seem to fit in with everything else that she had understood to be true.


Just the thought of his name lifted some of the pain she felt, and as she lay herself upon her bed and gazed at the ceiling, she reflected on how she first met him.

He was different. He just didn't make sense in her schema. While no one else loved Astronema, he felt something towards her. Even before he knew of her true identity, he was drawn to her. And he made her feel something so different from that to which she had been accustomed- something light and free, rather than void and cold. His tender smile sparked something that she didn't know had died... or even that it had existed.

It didn't work with her hypotheses. She had decided that as Astronema, she was a completely evil being. She was devoid of anything pure or good. She ravaged planets, murdered innocents, and crushed civilizations... all without remorse or even a second thought. As Astronema, she was a being to be hated or feared.

But Zhane showed neither hatred nor fear.

There was something about Zhane that was qualitatively different from the other Rangers. Even Andros. Surely, when Andros discovered Astronema's true identity, he wouldn't be dissuaded from reaching out to her. But, that was only after he discovered the truth. The other Rangers welcomed her with open arms... but only after she had proven her loyalties by saving them from Dark Specter's trap on Yotoba. But Zhane needed no evidence that Astronema wasn't simply a villainess. He saw a potential that no one else saw... way before the truth was finally uncovered.

While she felt she needed the forgiveness of the other Rangers, she didn't feel she needed Zhane's. It was as if he had never held her accountable for any crime.

... as if he knew just when they met that she wasn't evil.

Zhane, she wondered silently, what is it you know, that no one else knows? How could you have found something worth caring about in Astronema? And, what does that mean for us? What do you feel about me... plain and simple Karone?

I want to know what love is,
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is,
I know you can show me


He gazed at her fondly, taking in her appearance with appreciation. Her slim body was curled in a fetal position, her arms tight around the blanket as if she needed security. Her face seemed so serene and peaceful, without the lines of tension and worry that he had become accustomed to seeing.

A warm smile stretched on his lips as he took in the vision of pure innocence. She was a complete paradox... such a puzzle. A beautiful woman with the soul of a child, but with the memories of pure evil and corruption.

It was a tragedy that such a tender heart should bear such tremendous guilt. It marred her porcelain face nearly ever time he laid eyes on her. Even in her smile, there was a deep sadness just beneath the surface.

But at that moment, she was at peace. Sleeping securely, her mind free from torment as it sailed in an ocean of dreams. It almost hurt him to pull her from her respite, but he had the distinct feeling there was a reason for his presence.

"Hey, Karone," he said a bit more sternly, shaking her gently, "are you alright?"

She opened her heavy eyelids, and her weary eyes gazed upwards in confusion. She groaned slightly, lifting her head from her pillow slowly. She saw him sitting on her bed beside her, his strong hand on her shoulder and a warm smile on his face.

Without a thought, her lips mirrored his genuine smile. Yet he could tell that the inner peace had fled. Her smile was only a mirror, generating from without rather than within.

He then determined to make her smile genuinely before he left her quarters.

"Zhane," she yawned, rising to a sitting position, "what are you doing here?"

"I came over as soon as you called me," he responded simply, straightening his back. Even after all this time, whenever he was the center of her attention, he felt the need to present the air of utter confidence. He was convinced that she needed it. "You didn't answer when I knocked, and I realized the door was unlocked... so I let myself in."

Karone's forehead furrowed. "I didn't call you."

Zhane blinked in surprise. "I got the distinct impression that you needed me. You called to me, with your thoughts."

Her frown deepened and she stared at the Silver Ranger blankly. "You're a telepath?"

He smiled in amusement. He couldn't help but be surprised at this revelation. There was so much about Karone that even she was ignorant of. She didn't know herself... which was part of her problem. "I guess we really need to fill you in on Kerovan neurology," he quipped, "You know we have mastered telekinesis, right?"

She nodded.

"Well, we also are capable of low-level telepathy. Of course, we can't carry on conversations in our heads, but we can transmit some basic concerns, such as anger, fear, or danger." He paused for a moment, deciding the best manner to phrase his next statement. "And I'm sure I picked up some strong vibes from you."

Karone blushed at that, looking away from Zhane quickly. He couldn't help but grin at the cute gesture. "Uh... I guess I'm just scared is all."

Zhane's eyebrows rose with interest. "About what? Going back to Earth?"

She nodded slowly, her chin-length tresses falling over her cheek. He then stretched out his arm, wrapping her shoulder in a blanket of tender affection. He so much wanted to be her security... something she clearly needed, and felt she was lacking.

"Don't worry about it," he assured her gently, "There's no way anyone will be able to identify you as Astronema. No one was close enough to the Dark Fortress to really witness your transformation."

She shook her head emphatically, pulling away from him and rising to her feet. He watched as she paced around the room nervously, her body trembling and her arms tightly wound around her chest.

She felt his gentle eyes transfixed upon her, absorbing her every move. His silent inquiry forced her to put her feelings into words.

"It's just that... I..." she stammered, her frustration building, "How can I live with myself, knowing the pain I caused? How can anyone truly accept me, considering all that I've done?"

She bit her lower lip, her haunted gaze rising to glance at Zhane. "I... I don't think they can. Not Andros, not the Rangers... no one."

Zhane continued to gaze at her, sadness clouding his expression. He honestly had no idea what it was like to hold in so much guilt. He wished so strongly that he could somehow implant into her mind what he knew to be true... that the only one holding any blame upon her was herself.

"Karone, you know that's not true," he assured, still watching her from her bed, "You know how much Andros cares about you. He almost died trying to save you during the Countdown."

Karone visibly cringed at the reference, but she continued shaking her head in denial. "No, Zhane," she whispered sadly, "Andros doesn't even know me. He just associates me with that little girl that was stolen away from KO-35 ten years ago. He cares about me as his sister... but not about me, as I am." She moved back to the window, and stared at the approaching planet once again. "I'm not the same person I was back then. I've done so much! I have so much evil in me! Even after Zordon's purification, I can still feel the darkness! The loneliness, the sorrow! It didn't just evaporate."

She kept her back to Zhane, gazing into the infinite distance of space blankly. She was so embarrassed... both by unconsciously summoning him as well as letting him see her most vulnerable state... that she couldn't bear to look at him any longer.

Her heart suddenly leapt as hands crept around her waist, taking hold of her hands and clutching them gently. She leaned back against his chest, her breath escaping her as she savored the warmth and tenderness of his touch.

That was the moment in which she felt safe. Safe from the judgement of others. Safe from the revenge of her former allies. Safe from the darkness within her soul.

Security. He was the personification of it.

His touch had a profound effect on her, even after so short an acquaintance.

I'm gonna take a little time,
A little time to look around me
I've got nowhere left to hide,
It looks like love has finally found me

Zhane followed her gaze, staring off into space with the wonder of a child. It was clear that Karone was overcome with anxiety over their future on Earth, but to Zhane, all he saw was freedom.

A chance to start out fresh, without the weight of office on his shoulders. A chance to put the pain behind him, and rebuild his life. A chance to finally live again, without being reminded of the sacrifices he had to make to protect his home and friends. Pure freedom was what he sought... and perhaps, with a little luck, someone to share it with.

If only she'd unchain her soul, and fly toward possibilities rather than fleeing from them. If only she'd take his hand, and trust him to guide her out of the shadow of her former life, and into the glow of a new beginning.

It was clear she wasn't ready to take that leap. So, he'd be patient, and work with her to loosen those bitter chains that imprisoned her still.

"I shouldn't have to convince you that the Rangers all love you, Karone," he said gently, the vibration of his speech passing from his body to hers, "You should be able to see it in their eyes... in their faces. If they harbored any animosity towards you, you'd be able to feel it. Even if you weren't Kerovan, that kind of aura is quite noticeable."

He then began rocking her soothingly. "True, they haven't known you as you very long, but that's something they're eager to change. And the same goes to Andros. He's so excited to have you back in his life he's on a high right now. But he's very concerned about you, and primarily how you're dealing with your new life."

He then released her, and turned her around to face him. "You really should tell him about your feelings. I know Andros better than I know myself, so take it on good authority that he'd do anything in his power to make the transition easier for you."

His smile deepened. "The Rangers wouldn't hold a grudge. I mean, they must know how powerful evil spells can be. You're not responsible for your actions."

Karone's face fell, and her eyes shuttered closed. "I was only under a spell after I joined the Rangers against Dark Specter. For ten years I was Astronema of my own free will. I did horrible things, and I never felt guilt for any of it... until now. And now, everything's crashing over me at once."

She moved away from Zhane with a heavy pace. She then stopped in front of her closed door, and breathed out slowly.

"Zhane, I'm so sorry," she muttered, rolling her moist eyes at her own foolish display, "I mean... I can't believe I'm standing here, pouring out my troubles to you. I'm sure you've got better things to do than constantly reassuring me." She waved her hand over the sensor panel, and the gray doors slid open. "Thanks for you time. I think I'd like to be alone now."

Zhane gazed at her questioningly, his gaze turning to the ground. He felt his own frustration build. After all of this... sharing, she was ready to push him aside again. She reached out for help, but she rejected it just as quickly.

She couldn't deal with it alone... that was obvious. Her fears were very specific. She was afraid of being alone, but she was also afraid of letting people in.

He had his foot in the door. He was determined not to turn back now.

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far,
To change this lonely life

Zhane shook his bowed head slowly in response to her request. "Karone, I don't have anything more important to do... I can't even think of something more important." His eyes peeked up at her, his head still inclined downwards. "And I'm not leaving until I get through to you."

Karone's eyebrow arched suspiciously. "Get what through?"

"That Astronema wasn't evil. Ever."

His bold statement rang in her ears like a soft echo. It was so outlandish she didn't know how to react. She stared at him in silence, a look of annoyance flattening her expression. "Very funny," she scoffed.

"I'm serious," he stated, leaning against the far wall and folding his arms. Karone rolled her eyes at Zhane's trademark "cocky stance." It was his method of asserting that his opinion was correct, and that no argument could make him change his mind.

"So, what're you going to do?" she asked, throwing up her hands in frustration as she moved closer to him. As she approached, her gait almost menacing, the door slid closed with a hissing noise. "Convince me that it wasn't evil to kill hundreds of beings throughout the galaxy? As Astronema, I was feared by some of the most powerful villains to ever exist! I earned that reputation by showing no mercy! I carved a path of blood for Dark Specter... and I can never wash my hands of it!"

Zhane could see he was pushing her. Karone was now lashing out at him, her inward-focused anger brewing to the surface. He was very close to cracking that shell of self-hatred she had constructed around herself, preventing her from allowing anyone into her heart. Alienating her from the very people she wanted to love her.

"I've been a Power Ranger for two years... not including my nap, of course... and I've seen what Evil is." He gazed deeply into her eyes, honesty pouring out into the open. "And I knew the minute I saw you that you weren't evil. There's a difference between doing evil things, and being evil in the core of your being. If you were truly evil by nature, you would've killed me in the park that day."

A humored smile took over Karone's grim expression as the memory reached her mind. "You showed me how to roast marshmallows," she whispered.

"If you were evil, I wouldn't be here now," Zhane stated, "and neither would the other Rangers. You had us all! You could've killed us. Just because Andros is your brother, isn't enough for truly evil beings to show mercy. A truly evil being cannot show loyalty, concern, compassion, sincerity... or anything like them. Even as Astronema, you showed those things. You were loyal to Dark Specter, for no other reason then real respect. You were concerned for Ecliptor, and even for me, the enemy. And you can't deny you showed compassion. When you attacked Angel Grove yourself, you wouldn't attack the children. That wouldn't stop you if you were as evil as you'd like to believe."

Karone's eyes began to overflow, and she shut them in an effort to hold back the tears. She tried her best not to let her defenses completely down.

"How did you know?" she breathed, her lips trembling slightly.

"Know what?"

"That I wasn't evil."

I want to know what love is,
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is,
I know you can show me

She gazed up at him again timidly. "What did you see, when we met, that no one else saw? Why did you save me from that monster? He would've destroyed me, and saved you all a lot of problems."

Zhane breathed out slowly, glancing to the side as he immersed himself in the memory. In that brief instant of silence, he explored the feelings that he had pondered every day since he made that fateful decision to override common sense on behalf of intuition. "It was instinct that made me save you," he admitted, "I couldn't let that creature just kill you. I had intended on bringing you to the Megaship brig." He shrugged futily, his grin widening. "But something stopped me from just dumping you into a detention center. You looked so... innocent while you were unconscious, and there was no way I could tell just by glancing at you that you didn't need some care. I obviously couldn't bring you to the Megaship unless you were going straight to the brig, so I decided to wait until you woke up." Zhane shook his head again, almost laughing at himself for the complete irrationality of his decisions that day. "If the Rangers had found out I gave up the chance to capture you, they would've put out a want ad for a new Silver Ranger. But I couldn't help it. First, you were a damsel in distress. I couldn't ignore that. And after you woke up... you were kinda... sweet."

Karone released a brief giggle. "Sweet? I threatened you with my scepter!"

Zhane joined the laughter. He knew it sounded ludicrous, but it was the truth... and she needed to know it. He needed her to know it. "You still came off as sweet. Something deeper than the whole 'powerful sorceress' persona shined through, and it just hit me. I knew you were more than met the eye. And when Andros told me you were his sister, everything fell into place."

She moved closer to him still, clasping her hands behind her back almost coyly. "And... what do you think of me now?"

Zhane responded with a lop-sided grin. "You're absolutely perfect," he revealed frankly, "If only you'd let yourself believe it."

Karone blushed cutely at the compliment, inching to him until their toes practically touched. "Right now," she whispered, her eyes closing slowly, "I think I'd believe anything you said."

She inclined her head upwards, in sweet expectation. Zhane responded by cradling her cheeks with his hands, and lowering his lips to hers. Against the backdrop of the planet Earth, and the fathomless expanse of the universe, they enacted the daydream that had stolen both their attentions the day they met: a tender kiss in the sky.

I want to know what love is,
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is
I know you can show me

As their lips slowly parted, Karone opened her watery eyes dreamily, and gazed deeply into Zhane's honest, gentle stare. Her lip trembled once again, and she took a step back from him, the spell of his tenderness weakening against her conflicted, tumultuous emotions.

"Zhane..." she choked, fresh tears forming in her eyes, "I... I can't love you. I don't know how. I can't remember ever loving anyone, or anything. I don't know what to do..."

Zhane grinned softly at her, slowly pulling her close. He then wrapped his arms around her back, securely holding the fragile child as if fearing she would retreat into her defensive shell again.

"Don't worry about it," he whispered, resting his chin atop her head as they swayed gently, "We'll figure it all out together."

Let's talk about love
The love that you feel inside
And I'm feeling so much love
No, you just can't hide...