I seem to have the worst luck with men. I thought once I moved to Angel Grove, it would be better. I had vague hopes about this one guy I met on the way there, T.J. Johnson. I should've known that one was doomed from the start, since he already had a girlfriend. She even came down to be his date for that dance, the dance where Ashley and I made such fools of ourselves over that guy, Bobby. It was a lost cause from the start, me and T.J.
Then came the Phantom Ranger. Oh, my, was that a disaster. A guy I didn't even know was capturing my fantasies. I guess it was some sort of subconscious thing, where I was hoping that he wouldn't have someone else, and my life-long curse would be lifted. But even if he is single, he's not for me. How in the world can I love someone I don't even know, don't ever see, haven't heard from in months?
I managed to keep hold of my emotions, not to have any more inappropriate crushes, for quite a while. I had another flare up of hope for me and Phantom when we met again on Hercuron, but he just didn't say a word to me. And that message...well, I'm not going into that. By that time anyway, I had more or less forgotten about him. Oh, I kept up my appearances. It was necessary by then that I didn't let anyone know who it was I had fallen in love with. Because once again, it was someone I shouldn't be in love with. This was the greatest tragedy I'd ever dealt with.
I, Cassie Chan, Pink Space Ranger, am in love with Andros of KO-35. Why is it so wrong to love him? Because he's in love with my best friend, my real best friend Ashley Hammond. The two of them are even engaged. And I would give almost anything to have the looks he gives to her, given to me. I wish that I was the one wearing the engagement ring. I wish that I could love him, say I love him, and be in love with him without feeling this horrible sense of shame and fear.
But I can't. This is the most forbidden love I could ever have, and there is nothing I can do about it. It didn't come on me all at once, it was somewhat gradual. Just over the days and weeks that we spent together. I know he only thinks of me as a friend, but it just aches in every part of me to watch the two of them together, and imagine myself in my best friend's place.
I remember the first time that I realized how I felt. It was just after Zhane woke up and joined us. That first morning, everyone else slept late except for Andros and I. I wanted to get in some fighting practice on the Simudeck, and Andros always wakes up early. I'm not all that positive he sleeps, really. But it was just the two of us in the training simulator. It had happened before, but for some reason, that day felt different.
On that day, I was aware of him as I never had been before. I still haven't figured out why or how. But I found myself observing him as he went through his regular warm up routine, and the thoughts that went through my mind were not at all those of a girl watching her best friend's boyfriend moving around. Even though technically at that point, Andros hadn't asked Ashley out, the entire team knew how they felt about each other. Ashley had confided in me months earlier that she was feeling much more than just your normal attraction to our new leader. I'd congratulated her then, even felt happy for her.
As Andros turned to ask me if I wanted to spar, I actually thought for one moment about strangling her. But then my senses returned, and we started off on our sparring session. My every sense was alive and aware to his presence in a way that they never had even considered before. I thought about the way I'd seen the two of them exchanging glances when they thought no one was looking. I thought about how cute Andros was. No, not cute...gorgeous. Beyond the lot of mortals perfect.
It took a lot of control to get through that sparring session without saying or doing something that would've fractured our team bonds forever. But I had that control and I used it to the best of my ability. I wasn't going to let my foolish crush hurt anyone. We just sparred, and just as we were coming to the end, Ashley came in, wanting to know if we'd eaten yet. The way the two of them looked at each other cut into my heart. But even worse: it cut into my soul. How could I even think about trying to ask Andros out first? How could I consider extinguishing the friendship that had brought Ashley and me so much pleasure?
So I did what I've always done, when this has happened to me. I just stepped back and let the two of them be together. I've known Ashley a lot longer than I have Andros, and as much as I would love to be with him I know it can't, and won't, ever be. I know Ashley in my heart the way Zhane knows Andros, and there are ties there that cannot be broken by anything, not even love. True love is impossibly hard to find at times, but true friendship is even rarer, and unbelievably more precious. I refused then, and now, to admit to anyone what I feel for Andros.
It wasn't easy, though. I watched from hiding when the two of them managed to ask each other out on their date. I spent the entire time torn between wanting them to have a good time and wanting them to fall apart so I could have a chance. I'm surprised I wasn't obvious about it. But having been through it all before, I guess I've learned how to keep what I'm thinking from showing on my face. I had to keep myself focused on what I was supposed to be doing, searching for Zordon and in a limited way, Karone.
Imagine my surprise when our archenemy turned out to be Andros' sister. I would've taken bets on just who was the most surprised when we found out. But I was glad, too, because that meant the darkness that was in his eyes from the first moment we'd met was gone. I've never known him to be happier than he was on those three days that Karone was with us. It had to be as if everything that had went wrong in his life was suddenly healed. His best friend was back, even if he wasn't with us just then, he had a girlfriend who loved him, a team that stood by him no matter what, and his sister had finally returned.
It was the last time I saw him that happy for quite a while. I lived every moment of those three days being as happy for him as I could. I wanted nothing more than to be a part of his happiness, to be the girlfriend I knew he'd wanted, but since that wasn't possible, I contented myself with just being his friend.
After Karone was captured and reprogrammed back into Astronema, I watched as he tried to adjust back to thinking of her as his enemy instead of his sister. I wanted to tell him that things were going to be all right, but everyone else beat me to it. Ashley, Zhane, T.J...it was as if fate were conspiring to keep us apart, even as friends. I took to writing things down in my diary, just to get them out of my system.
In a way, that was a mistake. No, that's not right, that was a mistake. Because I forgot Zhane is occasionally prone to sneaking up on people, and apparently he thought one morning it would be great fun to sneak up on me and read over my shoulder. This happened not too long before the last battle got started, and I swear I could've killed him when I heard him gasping from behind.
"What are you doing here?" I slammed my diary shut so hard I almost broke the lock on it.
He just looked at me, and I don't know if he was feeling shock or sorrow or what. "When did this happen?" I knew better than to try and lie my way out of it. Zhane's a joker, but he's not stupid, and if he'd seen what I just wrote, trying to say he'd made a mistake wasn't the right way to handle it. Besides, I wasn't going to lie to my friends. No one had ever asked me how I felt about Andros, everyone just assumed we were friends and nothing more.
"Who can tell?" I shrugged. "It just did, and I really hope you don't intend to go spreading it around, either. It's something I want to keep to myself. I know Andros loves Ashley, and she loves him, and I'm not going to get in between them. I know he doesn't love me, and I refuse to do anything that could hurt them."
He looked at me for so long I was almost starting to be afraid. Then he smiled a little. "If that's the way you want it. I know how you feel, though, being in love with someone you know you can't have."
This was a shock! But then I remembered something I'd overheard Andros and Zhane discussing a little while after Astronema had been reprogrammed. Something about Zhane 'dating Andros' sister.' Admittedly it took me by surprise to learn that the reason the Silver Ranger had been so moody and upset several weeks back was because he had been rather rudely rebuffed by Astronema when he was late for their date because of having to help us out in a fight.
"So you won't tell anyone?" I asked him, not wanting this little secret to go beyond the two of us. I really hadn't wanted it to go beyond me, but sometimes fate just messes with you when you want it to the least.
"I won't." Zhane smiled, a very serious smile and not the usual smirk that adorned his face. "I hope things turn out for you."
I just smiled back. "They already have. I might care about Andros, but I want him to be happy. If that means he's happy with Ashley, then so be it. Because I want her to be happy too."
I realized then that was true. I loved them both, and that was the ultimate reason I would say nothing, would never say anything, would always keep my silence. Because to do otherwise would be to betray everything I believed in. Yes, I fell in love with, and will always love Andros, my leader, my friend, the love of my best friend's life. But I will never let them know. Zhane will keep the secret, and I will live out my life, perhaps even falling in love with someone else and marrying them in time. But for now, for this moment, as we rejoice at having won the battle, and mourn the loss of Zordon, and celebrate Karone's return to us, and head back for Earth, I know this in my deepest heart and soul.
I love Andros, but he is and ever will be, someone else's man. So
will it always be. I wish them happiness together. Forever.