In the hustle and bustle of construction, reconstruction, giving, taking, and learning to live with one another that was going on, it is somewhat surprising that couples started to pop up. Romance had never been forgotten on their trip to this new world, but for seven young people, it had been something that had never quite worked out for any of them.
It hadn't really been possible before. They were too busy trying to save the world. They had tried, a few times, for romance, but it had never worked out. Until now.
Now it seemed as if all the love and passion that had been held back for them was filling them to the very peak. Leo and Maya had been in each other's arms before the celebration of arrival had finished, and Kendrix had taken Kai off for a long talk once she had finished greeting everyone else. Damon and Terry, a girl he'd been seeing off and on since their time in the Lost Galaxy, were finally getting themselves into a deeper, richer romance. Since he didn't have to run off every five minutes to save the world, or colony, any more, things were going much better between them.
The last two, Mike and Karone, had been staring at each other sneakily every few minutes whenever they worked close to each other. Karone had been practicing some of her old magical arts, trying to figure out how much she had lost in the years she'd been away from them, and was using them to help put things together in the colony. Mike was still second in command to Commander Stanton, who with Jera was one of the two leaders of the combined colony and village, and he quite often did the more thankless work around the area.
The strange thing about love is, when it hits you, you're not always the first person to see it. You could be in love with someone all your life, and just not be aware of it until someone else points it out to you. Mike and Karone hadn't known each other quite that long, but it was starting to become plain to everyone around them that they were head over heels for one another.
Karone watched the former Magna Defender as he reported to Stanton and couldn't stop herself from staring. That's exactly what she was doing: staring. As much as she didn't want to admit it to herself. He's so handsome. Much nicer looking than Zhane. A ripple of pain went through her at the thought of her first boyfriend. If that was even the right way to think about him. The sparks between them had never really flared into love after the war, but instead had settled into a healthy friendship.
Mike was perfectly aware Karone was watching him, and thought about something Leo had told him the other day. Sometimes something is right in front of your eyes and you don't even notice it until it's too late. You never know what could happen, Mike. Say something to her. The elder Corbett had wanted to know just who it was Leo thought Mike was in love with, but his brother had said nothing. Now he thought he knew.
As he finished the report, a sudden decision slammed into his brain. He was going to do it. Before she could walk away, Mike walked briskly over to her, calling out her name. "Karone! Karone, could I talk to you for a minute?"
She tried to look as if she were doing something else, but the minute she had heard her name on his lips, her entire world stopped. She glanced over at him. "What is it, Mike? Something I can do for you?"
"I sure hope so," he smiled warmly at her, and she felt her insides melting away at the expression. "Would you like to go out with me tomorrow night? I'm off...and I can't think of anyone else I'd like to spend some time with."
Coherent thought took a brief vacation from Karone's mind, and she managed to stutter out something that could be an affirmation. Mike smiled and held his arm out to her. "I've got some free time right now, by the way. Want to go for a walk?"
Not like. Love. She smiled softly up at Mike, who smiled back to her. It felt right. It felt more than right, it felt true. Destined. As if she had been born all those years ago just for this man, as if all he had lived through had been just prepare him for the day when she would enter his life.
Mike glanced down at her, and let himself smile. He had received more than a new appreciation for life when the Magna Defender had released him: he had received a vision of his destiny. He had known only a few things that were to happen, but had never spoken of them. He knew perfectly well it was not for him to claim the Red Sabre, which was why he had insisted Leo keep it. He had known that Kendrix would be leaving them somehow, and that her replacement would fill his heart and answering every emotional desire and need that he had ever had, and then some.
He had not known who she was, but when he first saw Karone, his heart had almost stopped. She was the most beautiful person he had ever seen in his life, and the fact she wore black leather constantly did nothing at all to lower his opinion of her. To be utterly honest, that leather outfit gave him quite a few ideas he tried not to think about too much even now: especially since she was still wearing it.
Slowly the two of them stopped near a waterfall, and watched as the light faded from the sky and one by one the stars came out, in the constellations that were slowly starting to become familiar to the new arrivals. Mike leaned up against a tree, his hand still holding Karone's, and gazed up.
"I love this world. It's like Earth...only better." He shivered at the memory of the crowded, polluted, claustrophobic world they had left behind. Some of the top scientists were working on that; but before things could get too bad, Terra Venture had launched.
Karone sighed. "I've seen a lot of beautiful worlds, but this has to be one of the best. I think that's because," she paused for a moment, lifting her eyes to the stars and the moon. "Because it's my home. I've never felt this happy anywhere else."
"Not even being with your brother?" Mike knew Karone's story of course; everyone did. It was one of the minor legends of the era, and she had sometimes had to deal with people wanting her autograph when she had first arrived. By now, the novelty had worn off and she was just another person.
The blonde girl closed her eyes briefly and remained silent for a few minutes. Mike considered re-asking his question when her soft voice spoke. "Not even being with him. I love Andros, don't get me wrong, but I want to make my own way. Even if it means it's not with him." She glanced over at him. "But it could be with someone else."
Mike smiled softly at her, then slowly moved a little closer. The two of them gazed into each other's eyes for a brief moment, then he leaned even closer. Briefly, sweetly, their lips brushed against one another for that sweetest of things: a first kiss.
Karone, on the other hand, had experienced so many changes and had tasted as much hate and anger as the Magna Defender ever had. The two of them were a perfect match. And they finally knew it.
The days turned into weeks. The weeks turned into months. Soon it had been a year since they had landed on Mirinoi. Jera and Commander Stanton had worked together to prepare an incredible celebration, something that would dwarf even the victory feast of their arrival, and everyone was looking forward to it.
But no one looked forward to it more than Mike and Karone. For the two of them, it was the anniversary of the day they had become free to be with one another, though it had taken them some time to actually get together. Unknown to Karone, however, Mike was planning on making this something more than a simple anniversary celebration. He had something very special he wanted to ask her.
Mike smiled briefly at Karone, then as everyone else sat down, he stood slowly up. "Everyone, could I have a moment of silence, please?" he glanced over at his brother, who was sitting next to the very heavily pregnant Maya, and smiled. Leo knew what he was about to do and smiled briefly back at him. Mike looked around. "Karone, would you come here, please?"
The ex-Pink Ranger looked a little afraid, she had never liked crowds. Slowly she got up and came over to her boyfriend. "What is it, Mike?"
"You'll see," he looked at them all, then back at her. "Karone of KO-35, you mean everything to me. I love you with all my heart and soul and will until the day I die...again." A small laugh went through everyone, and he smiled. With a dramatic flourish, he pulled a small ring out of his pocket and dropped to one knee before her. "Will you marry me?"
Only one thing even occurred to her to say, as her hand trembled and reached out to touch the ring gently. "Yes! Yes!" Her eyes grew wide as Mike slid the ring onto her finger and kissed her gently for the first time in view of everyone. Her entire being glowed with love and peace as he wrapped his arms around her. "I love you, Mike," she whispered softly. "I love you so much."
Mike smiled, enjoying the feeling of her being in his arms, the solid weight of her, the courage and strength and laughter and love all within her soul. He kissed her softly, then sat back down with her beside him, his soul soaring higher than it ever had before. Even when he had returned from his captivity inside the Magna Defender, he hadn't felt this alive. There really was hope now...hope for them all.
Hope for the world and hope for the future.
"Are you certain about this?" she wasn't surprised that it was Andros asking her that. She smiled at her brother.
"Yes, I'm certain." The wedding was going to be a combination of Earth traditions, Mirinoian ones, and some from KO-35, representing the three cultures involved in this relationship. Andros and the other Space Rangers, even Zhane, had come to attend the ceremony that would give Karone the most happiness she'd ever had in her entire life.
Somehow, she didn't find herself surprised at the one couple that had appeared during her absence. Carlos and Cassie had been giving each other interested looks all during the time she had still been around the Rangers, and she nodded to herself as she saw the engagement ring on Cassie's left hand. T.J. and Zhane were both still single, but they mentioned briefly they were both 'seeing people' back on Earth. From the way Zhane was blushing, Karone was convinced he was doing quite a bit more than 'seeing' someone.
Mike was standing in front of Jera, who was going to perform the ceremony, and glanced down to where she was standing. Andros stood by her side, with Maya just behind her as matron of honor. Kendrix was one of the bridesmaids, along with Shondra, who had been horrified to find that her face had been used by one of Trakeena's monsters so long ago. She had quickly become a good friend to all the ex-Rangers, and happily stood with them on this day.
Andros smiled at his baby sister. "If you're happy, I'm happy," he told her. Ever since he had married Ashley six months earlier, he had been all in favor of marriage. He had encouraged Carlos to propose to Cassie when he saw how much the Black Space Ranger loved her. He knew that Karone loved Mike and that Mike loved her. He smiled. "Come on. Let's get you married."
Mike smiled. "I do." He slid the wedding ring onto Karone's finger and she blushed just a little.
"Do you, Karone of KO-35, take this man to be your lawfully and eternally wedded husband, to have and to hold, now and forever, until the end of time?" now Karone was asked, and she smiled, joy filling her as she uttered the words that would change her life forever.
"I do." Slowly she put the matching band onto Mike's finger. For the first time in her life, she felt complete: perfectly and utterly complete.
Jera smiled. "Then by the power invested in me as High Priest of Mirinoi, I now pronounce you husband and wife." Hand in hand the two of them turned around, and Jera announced. "People of Mirinoi, I now present to you Micheal and Karone Corbett."