It was one of the most glorious days Adam Park, the Black Ranger, could remember in a long time. Since Zedd and Rita's latest monster, the Spirit Killer, had been destroyed two days earlier, there had been no sign of the two evil lunatics. All the Rangers were taking the unexpected break well, especially he and Billy.
They were getting the chance to get to know two very special young women better. Billy was out now with Aura Robinson, a friend of his from his childhood, who had recently returned with her family to Angel Grove after a seven-year absence. Adam was with Azure Robinson, Aura's younger sister, walking through the park.
Adam stole a glance at the girl with him. Auburn hair, hazel eyes, and extremely outgoing, he'd liked her immensely since the moment he'd seen her in one of Billy's pictures less than a week earlier. And wonder of wonders: she liked him as well.
"Azure," Adam said tentatively. "I was wondering something."
"What?" she stopped drinking in the park's beauties and turned to him.
"Um," he took a deep breath. "Would you like to go out to the movies or something tomorrow?"
She smiled. "Sure!" It would be their first "real" date, and all of a sudden, Adam was so nervous he could barely speak. He managed to utter, "Thanks!", however.
They hadn't taken three more steps before the peace of the past two days was shattered. Goldar and a platoon of Tengas appeared in front of them. "WHY!?!" Azure screamed.
"Cause we like to!" Goldar taunted. Adam stopped himself from transforming into the Black Ninja Ranger, remembering Azure was with him.
"Azure, run!" he ordered, falling into a kung-fu stance. "I'll keep these guys occupied!"
Azure leaped out of the way, heading for the trees. As soon as she was out of sight, Adam called on his Ninja powers. "All right, Goldar, there's no reason for you to be here!"
"Time to meet your fate, Ranger!"
"Yeah, I've heard that before," Adam jumped at Goldar, forcing him to back up, then flipped away to call the other Rangers. "Guys, got Goldar and Tenga troubles in the park!"
Adam managed to keep Goldar at bay, trading blows and insults with equal enthusiasm. Moments later, the other Rangers, already morphed, arrived. "The Calvary has arrived!" Tommy proclaimed as they started to tear into the Tengas.
"Thanks, guys!" Adam laughed as the balance of the fight shifted. It didn't take long for Goldar, mentally incompetent as he was, to figure out he wasn't going to win this fight, and leave. As the Rangers demorphed, Adam groaned suddenly. "Thanks, guys, but I've got to find Azure, make sure she's all right!"
The others nodded and left, as Adam headed into the woods. He hoped Azure was all right; and also hoped she hadn't somehow seen him morphing. A soft voice came from behind him as he searched.
"Adam?" it was Azure, rubbing a skinned knee and looking annoyed.
"Azure? Are you all right?'
"Yeah," she nodded. "Just a little bruised; I tripped on that root there." He glanced at it quickly.
"You'll be okay," Adam helped her to her feet. She nodded.
"Thanks. I think I'd better go wash it off, before it gets infected." * * *
Billy walked back into the Youth Center, hoping Aura wouldn't be mad at him. He'd had to leave to go help Adam with the Tengas; Aura hadn't looked upset, but it was hard sometimes for even him to tell what she was feeling.
"Sorry about that," he sat back down.
"What was the problem?" Aura raised one eyebrow elegantly.
"Nothing much," he smiled a little. "Just forgot to turn off an experiment and my folks were wondering how to turn it off before it blew up our house."
Aura laughed. "You never change, Billy. It's a good thing you didn't blow up your house: you would have probably gotten mine along with it!"
Just then Azure and Adam came in. "Hey!" Aura waved to her sister. Azure waved back, then headed for the restroom as Adam came over to sit with them.
"She just scraped her knee."
Aura shook her head. "She's always scraping something. The girl's got more bruises and scars than you can imagine, generally from falling off something or over it!"
"A tree root this time," Adam smiled a little, and glanced over at Billy. Billy looked back at him, a questioning glance in his eyes. Aura got up.
"I'll go see if she's all right," Aura headed for the restroom. As soon as she was out of earshot, Adam leaned over and whispered, "Would you like to know where I found Azure?"
"Behind a tree, near where we were attacked."
"Oh, man," Billy groaned. "Do you think she saw anything?"
Adam shrugged. "She hasn't said anything about it; I don't know."
"If she saw, she's say something, I think."
Adam glanced worriedly at the restroom. "I hope you're right." * * *
"Ouch," Azure carefully dabbed at the scrape. Her sister's voice surprised her suddenly.
"Hey, Azure, what happened this time?"
"Tripped on a tree root," her voice was a touch distracted. Aura came closer to her, frowning.
"Azure, you're thinking about something," the two sisters knew each other well enough to tell moods at a glance.
"It's nothing," Azure demurred.
"Azure, I know you too well," Aura wasn't giving up. "What's on your mind?"
Azure sighed. "Aura, pleased, trust me on this one. It's nothing."
"All right," Aura smiled a little, trusting her sister was no real effort for her; she'd trust Azure with her life, much less with a secret.
"I guess I should get back to Adam," Azure headed for the door.
"And I should get back to Billy," Aura's characteristic small smile appeared again. "Oh, Azure, he still thinks of us as just friends. I can tell."
Azure put a comforting hand on her sister's arm. "I'm sure that'll change; I've seen how he looks at you!"
Before Aura could comment on that, Azure headed back out to the main part of the Youth Center. "Hey, Adam!" Azure grinned a greeting as she sat down.
"How's the knee?" he asked.
"It stings, but I'll live," she told him.
"Good," Adam glanced around a little. "I'm glad you're okay. Hey, guess what?"
"What?" Azure seemed a bit distracted by something.
"The Power Rangers came to get rid of those bird-things, they're called Tengas," Adam tried to feel her out; see if she'd seen him morph. "Did you see them?"
"Huh?" Azure glanced at him, then away again. "No."
"You missed them?" Adam tried not to sound as relieved as he was. "Oh, man, that's too bad."
"Yeah," Azure nodded. "Maybe next time."
Adam laid his hand on top of hers gently. "I'm just glad you're all right."
"So am I," Azure met his eyes. "Care to finish our walk?"
"Sure," he smiled at her as they left the Youth Center, and Billy and Aura alone together.
"I hope nothing's wrong," Aura watched them leave. "It seemed like Azure had something on her mind."
"It's probably just the shock of being attacked," Billy suggested. Aura nodded.
"I guess," I hope you're right. If anything ever happened to Azure, Aura wouldn't know what to do with herself; her sister was her stability.
The conversation between them died a little; until Billy took a chance on something. "So, want to go to that concert in the park tonight?"
Aura's eyes widened in surprise. "Sure," was the first and only thing she uttered.
"Great!" he smiled. "I'll pick you up around five, we can grab some food on the way there then."
Aura smiled. "I'll be ready." Oh, man, he asked me out, I don't believe this! I'm dreaming, I've got to be!
"So," Billy decided to find out what the last few years had held for her. "Were you seeing anyone in New York?"
She shook her head. "No one ever wanted to go out with me," she didn't mention that was because of her headaches; there had been rumors going around she had some terminal disease and just wasn't telling; that didn't make for a very active social life.
"Then you went to school with a bunch of idiots!" Billy declared, somewhat outraged that people had treated her like that. Aura turned red.
"I wasn't very popular there; I guess I'm just not that type of person."
Billy smiled; he had a nice surprise for her. "I got a call from Kimberly today. You'll never guess what she told me!"
"What?" Aura barely heard him; she was too happy at having a date with him.
"Jason, Zack, Trini, and herself arranged some time off and are coming here to see," he paused for a moment, a huge grin spreading across his face. "You!"
The look of surprise on her face was incredible. "Really?"
Billy nodded. "Both Tommy and I told Kim that you were back, and she went and told the others. They all decided unanimously to come and see you."
Aura smiled. "It's been far too long since we were all together."
Billy nodded. "Yeah, it has," he found himself happily drowning in her gray eyes.
Aura gazed into his, more at peace than she'd been in a while. Neither of them noticed Tommy coming up next to them until he cleared his throat rather noisily. "Hey, guys!" They both jerked back and looked at him; he continued speaking as if nothing had happened. "Hear the good news?"
"Yes," Aura nodded. "All my old friends are coming back to town."
Tommy looked surprised, until Billy told him Kim had called him the night before and let the little secret out. "Oh, okay," he smiled.
"I can't wait to see them all again," Aura's eyes had drifted back to Billy, who had never really taken his from her.
"They'll be here tomorrow morning," Tommy told them. "I think I should leave."
"That's good," Aura said absently. "Can't wait to see them again."
Tommy backed away, then grinned. "Billy, there's something crawling on your leg!" He left quickly after that.
"Did Tommy say something?" Aura wondered vaguely.
"Um, what?" Billy glanced absently at his leg, then looked at the retreating White Ranger. "Tommy!" * * *
As Tommy left the Youth Center, he was laughing so hard he ran straight into Rocky. "Hey, what's going on?" Rocky asked.
"Aura and Billy," Tommy grinned. Man, those tow can't see two feet in front of them."
Rocky looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"You should've seen how they were staring at each other just a second ago in the Youth Center!"
"Really?" Rocky grinned a little.
Tommy nodded. "I don't think Billy noticed me telling him he had something crawling up his leg!"
Rocky giggled. "He's got it bad for Aura, doesn't he?"
Rocky shook his head. "Why don't they just tell each other they like each other and be done with it?"
Aisha and Kat joined them just then, and heard what he said. "Sometimes, it's not that easy."
"What do you mean?" Rocky frowned in incomprehension.
"They're so much in love, they don't even realize it," Kat shrugged.
"But she's been gone seven years!" Rocky couldn't really imagine loving someone who'd been gone that long.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder?" Tommy suggested.
Rocky shrugged again. "Maybe we should tell them they care about each other? If that's what it takes. . ."
Tommy shook his head. "Think they want us barging in on their relationship? Sometimes it just takes time!"
"I guess so," Rocky sighed. The conversation slowly turned to other subjects less interfering in their friends' romantic lives: such as Rocky's lack of one. * * *
"Hope you like it," Billy couldn't believe he and Aura were actually on a date together. "Zack's cousin Curtis is performing."
"I think I met him," Aura remembered. "Just before we moved."
"I think so," Billy nodded as they found a place to sit. "This is going to be good." * * *
"Ah, so the two lovebirds want to enjoy a quiet evening of jazz music?" Zedd watched with evil, gleaming eyes. "Let us put a stop to that!?
Rita cackled. "Yes! And perhaps discover who the Amber Ranger is while we're at it! I noticed they didn't show up for our Tenga attack earlier!"
Zedd nodded, then raised his staff, aiming it at the popcorn-making machine near the open-air theater. "Arise, Popanator, and destroy those Rangers!"
Rita laughed. "We'll see if this brings out the Amber pest!" * * *
"He's good, isn't he?" Billy smiled as the music washed all over and around them. Aura nodded; this was a perfect date; nothing at all was going wrong.
"I am here! Popanator is here to destroy you all!" the voice was coming from the concession stand. Billy stood up and quite literally groaned in outrage. "Where are the Power Rangers?!?! Fight me, Rangers, if you dare!"
"Oh, man!" Aura stared at the creature; it was hideous, and the pounding headache that began as she stared at it wasn't make it look any better. She stepped back, closing her eyes.
Billy glanced at her, then around. People were running around like madmen. Aura sank to her knees, barely able to see, think, or hear with the headache. This isn't what I need today! Billy mentally groaned. Well, I don't think Aura's going to hear me if her headache's that bad. "Guys, get over here to the park theater, we've got a monster on the loose!"
Need to get Aura out of here. His problem was solved a moment later, when Aura collapsed, passing out from the wracking pains in her head. "Aura?" This had never happened before! The other Rangers teleported in a few moments later.
"Billy? What's wrong?" Tommy asked as they became solid.
"We've got a monster over here, and Aura's passed out in my car!" Billy was about to pull his hair out with frustration.
"Great!" Tommy glanced quickly at Aura. "She'll be safe in there, we've got work to do!"
"Okay," the Rangers got down to business. "It's Morphin' Time!"
One by one, they morphed and leaped into battle. Popanator was a far deadlier foe than they'd first imagined, though, as was proven when he had Adam thrown into a tree, Kat surrounded by Tengas, and Tommy and Billy both thrown into the lake twice each.
"Man, we could use some help!" Rocky groaned as Popantor gut-punched him several times.
"Greetings, Rangers!" it was the Amber Ranger!
"Good timing!" Tommy was glad to see the strange warrior arrive at last.
The Ranger raised their Axe in salute, then turned to the monster. "Time to perish, Popanator!"
The extra Ranger made all the difference, as moments after Amber Ranger's arrival, Popanator was destroyed. Standing over the monster's remains, Amber Ranger nodded at the others. "I am honored to be your ally, Power Rangers!"
"As we are to have you on our side. Thank you once again!"
Amber Ranger raised the Axe again, then vanished into the same amber mist. Billy didn't even notice; he had something and someone else altogether on his mind. "We'd better go check on Aura," he told the others as they demorphed, heading for his car.
"I hope she's all right," Aisha commented.
"Didn't Azure say something about these headaches only lasting a short time?" Adam wondered as they headed out.
"Let's go find out," was Tommy's advice. At Billy's car, Aura was just coming around.
"Ohhh. . .Billy?" she winced as she opened her eyes.
"Yeah, it's me," Billy smiled a little at her. "You want me to take you home?"
"No," she touched her forehead for a moment, frowning. "It's easing off now. Is everyone here all right? Did the Power Rangers get here to destroy that thing?"
Billy nodded. "Everyone's fine. We're getting you home, though."
Aura smiled weakly. "I'll be fine." She hadn't wanted Billy to know about her headaches; much less everyone else.
"I'm still taking you home, though," Billy didn't like the pain he could still see in Aura's eyes. "You need some rest."
She sighed and yawned. "If you insist."
Adam smiled at her gently. "You take care of yourself, Aura."
Aura smiled back at him. "You take care of Azure, Adam, she really likes you."
Adam flushed a little; he hadn't really expected to be told that quite so suddenly. "I will. Tell her I'll see her tomorrow"
Aura nodded as Billy started the car. "I will." * * *
When they pulled up in front of the Robinsons' house a few minutes later, Azure was waiting for them on the front porch. "You two all right? I heard about that monster at the theater on the news. What was it?"
Aura smiled. "Apparently nothing the Power Rangers couldn't handle. Wish I'd been able to see it."
Azure glanced at Billy as he helped Aura out of the car. "I'm sure they handled it just fine."
Billy frowned a bit as he noticed the look Azure was giving him, but didn't say anything in return. "I'll see you tomorrow, Billy. I want to rest some."
"Okay," Billy nodded, then leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek. Aura stared at him, pure shock in her eyes, looking almost as if she'd been struck by lightning.
"Come on, sis, let's get you inside before there's another monster attack!" Azure pulled at Aura's sleeve. The elder girl walked into the house, looking back every few seconds to stare at Billy, a gentle smile curving her lips.
"Come on, Juliet, Romeo will be there in the morning!" Azure teased her as the door closed behind them.
Aura smiled and leaned against the wall. "Oh, Azure, if it weren't for these headaches, everything would be so perfect!" She smiled even wider. "Hey, did you hear? Jason, Zack, Trini, and Kim are coming back tomorrow for a visit!"
Azure, who hadn't changed much from her pensive mood of earlier, perked up. "That's great!"
Aura nodded. "It'll be great to see them. It's been too long."
"Wonder if they changed any?"
Aura looked over at her sister, who was staring out the window. "In seven years. . .probably."
Azure laughed, then returned her gaze to whatever she was looking out through the glass. "True."
Aura was still thinking over seeing her old friends again. "You know, Trini and Kim kept telling me back then, before we ever left Angel Grove, that Billy and I would wind up together."
"Uhhhh," was Azure's response.
"Azure?" Aura looked at her sister, who still stared out the window.
"Yeah," Azure didn't seem to be paying that much attention. Aura decided to try and find out.
"Azure, Adam just got eaten by a fifty-foot centipede," Aura said it as if it were completely believable.
"Uh-huh," Azure nodded absently. "That's nice."
Aura gritted her teeth. Time for the ultimate. "Adam just married the Queen of England."
"What?!" She jerked around to stare at Aura, who laughed.
"What's on your mind?"
"I'd rather not talk about it," Azure sighed.
"Come on, what can't you say to your big sister?" Aura cajoled her.
"Please, don't," Azure sighed a little.
Aura spent a long moment looking at her sister, then finally said, "All right. But tell me this much, does it have to do with Adam?"
"If you need help, let me know," Aura laid a gentle hand on Azure's shoulder before going up to bed. She didn't hear her sister's soft voice behind her, whispering, "If you can help." * * *
"This can't be!" Zedd once more paced in fury around his throne room. "Who is that Amber Ranger?!"
"I don't know, but I intend to find out!" Rita declared.
"We need another monster," Zedd decided. "To lure the Amber Ranger out and discover who they are!" He threw himself down onto his throne, then sat bolt upright a moment later. "Let us see how the Rangers deal with their precious girlfriends being attacked!
"We already did that!" Rita snapped. "With Spirit Killer: it wound up being destroyed in that same battle, remember!"
"But this time, the Rangers won't be anywhere near to help them! We'll send down Goldar and the Tengas to tear those girls to shreds!"
"Excellent plan, my dear!" Zedd complimented her. "As soon as they are alone, we attack!" * * *
Zack caught Alpha in a tight hug. "Man, I've missed you two!"
"Hi, Zack!" Alpha did indeed sound happy to see the old Rangers.
"It's good to have you guys back again," Tommy was busy shaking hands with all of his old friends. Kim tackled him with a fierce hug.
"We've missed you guys, too!" the former Pink Ranger kissed Tommy tenderly. Tommy returned the hug with all his heart.
"Aura's going to love seeing you guys again. I hear you were all close back when you were kids?"
Jason nodded, and was about to say something else, when Trini interrupted. "Billy? You okay?"
"I was thinking about Aura," Billy said, a worried look in his eyes.
"Something wrong with her?" Jason asked, frowning. His frown got even worse when Billy explained about Aura's headaches, and especially how she'd passed out the day before.
"Man, there's gotta be something we can do about those." He glanced up at Zordon in question.
THERE IS LITTLE WE CAN DO FOR HER, RANGERS. Zordon pronounced solemnly.
"There's got to be something," Billy cast his glance all around the room. "Don't tell me we can save the world from here, but we can't so much as cure a headache!"
YOU MAY USE THE MEDICAL SCANNER, Zordon relented. BUT BE CAREFUL THAT SHE DOES NOT NOTICE YOU DOING SO.
"Thanks, Zordon," Billy picked it up. "That shouldn't be a problem with you guys back. I don't think she'll notice a thing!"
"So what are we waiting for?" Zack laughed. "Let's go see those two sisters!" * * *
Aura waited in the park for her friends; Billy had called earlier and told her to meet them all there. Hands suddenly covered her eyes, and a familiar voice, deepened by seven years' of growth, whispered, "Guess who?"
"Jason!" oh, he had grown up very large and built. She turned and gave him a warm hug. It was rather like being hugged by a huge teddy bear as he returned the embrace.
"It's so good to see you again!" All of them were there, all the old gang. She rushed straight into Zack's hug after Jason released her.
"Hey, where's that sister of yours?" he asked her.
"Off somewhere," Aura frowned. "She's had something on her mind the past few days."
Rocky seized Adam's glance. "What did you do to her?"
"Nothing!" Adam insisted.
"What's going on here?" Jason looked at Adam, then over to Aura, hoping someone would explain things.
"Last time she acted even remotely normal was yesterday, after she got back from a walk in the park with Adam."
"I think she likes him!" Rocky teased a bit.
"I know she does," Aura nodded almost absently. "But I want to know what's on her mind."
"Maybe we could go and find out?" Zack suggested.
"I'll go," Aura nodded. "She'll talk to me before anyone else, I hope."
Jason smiled. "Tell her we want to see her!"
Aura smiled. "I'll bring her back here kicking and screaming if I have to!"
It didn't take long for Aura to find Azure, who was sitting under a tree staring into the distance. "Azure?" Aura spoke softly. Her sister looked up, startled.
"Aura? What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you."
Azure smiled a little. "Still trying to find out what I'm thinking about?"
Aura nodded. "The others are here, Jason, Zack, Trini. They want to see you."
Azure sighed. "A little later. I just don't feel like being around people right now."
Aura sat next to her. "What's wrong? Talk to me, please, Azure!"
"I can't," Azure insisted. "I'm sorry, Aura, but I just can't do it!"
"Awwww, what a touching scene!" They both looked up to see a seven-foot-tall golden-armored monkey leering at them.
Aura leaped to her feet. "Oh, great!" She winced suddenly as another headache began to pound through her head.
"What the-?!" Azure was already into a fighting stance.
"Get out of here, whatever you are!"
Goldar, for that was who it was, laughed, sword upraised. "Never! I am going to destroy you!"
"Don't you touch my sister!" Aura leaped at Goldar, only to be knocked aside into a tree.
"Stupid human!" Goldar snapped. He grabbed Azure and threw her roughly into a rock outcropping. Azure sank into unconsciousness, managing to gasp out, "Aura. . .get Adam. . .", before she passed out.
Aura snarled, leaping at Goldar. "You hurt my sister!"
"Like I care! It's your turn to be hurt!" Goldar lashed out at her with his sword. Aura managed to dodge it, but tripped over a rock. As she fell to the ground, Goldar laughed and loomed over her, sword upraised.
A moment later, before his sword began to fall, Goldar stepped back. "YOU!" he screamed as the Amber Ranger appeared before him.
"You shall not harm any more innocents, Goldar!" the mysterious warrior announced.
"Good! It is time to die, Amber Ranger! The others cannot help you! Rito is making sure of that!"
Amber Ranger laughed. "The Rangers can handle that buffoon. . .but you are mine!"
"We shall see!"
The battle began. * * *
"So, Amber Ranger, you have finally revealed your true self!" Zedd crowed in triumph. They had finally seen the Amber Ranger morphing.
"How can it be them!?" Rita had never been more shocked in her life.
"I do not know," Zedd shook his head. "But we must destroy them!"
"Not destroyed," Rita's gaze turned crafty. "Control."
"Perfect, my pet!" Zedd laughed. "We will use the Amber Ranger to destroy the others!" * * *
At the same time, the Rangers and their friends were involved in a fight with Tengas and Rito. "You guys make me sick!" Kim declared as she kicked a Tenga.
"Oh, man, what are these things?" Jason was doing his best against them, but the majority of the fighting was being done by the Ninja Rangers.
"They're Tengas!" Adam called out. He stifled an oath as a Tenga kicked him, then threw the bird into the lake. Just as he did, one of the Tengas snatched the scanner from Billy.
"Hey, this must be important!" he squawked.
"Destroy it!" another one replied. That was all the incentive the other one required, and a moment later, the scanner was smashed into pieces.
"No!" Billy screamed. Rito wandered up then, laughing evilly.
"What's the matter, Rangers?" he giggled. "Your little Amber friend decide not to show up?"
Tommy yelled, "We can handle you without A.R.! It's not like your a genius or anything!"
"Or even have a normal IQ!" Aisha laughed.
"Hey! I'm not dumb!" Rito yelled back.
"You sure look it!" Zack laughed.
"What do you say we use the Power Blaster on this idiot!?" Rocky suggested as Rito hit Zack in the shoulder.
"Sounds like a good idea to me, Rocky!" Kat laughed. Then from behind Rito came a familiar figure, running up instead of appearing in mist.
"Rangers!" Amber Ranger called out. "Your friends, Azure and Aura, were attacked by Goldar!"
"What's happened to them?" Billy frowned in worry.
Rito, hearing the voice behind him, turned. "Oh, no, not you!" he wailed. That was all he had time to say before Amber Ranger's gauntleted fist knocked him back a good ten feet.
"Ohhhh," Rito moaned as he got up. "My achin' noggin!" he vanished, his last words being, "I'm outta here!"
Amber Ranger nodded in triumph, then looked over at the Rangers. "You had best find your friends, Rangers. I took care of Goldar, but had to come and help you as well. I would not have left them, but your needs were greater."
"We'll find them," Adam assured their friend. "Thanks, A.R."
"My pleasure," the Amber Ranger bowed again, then dissolved back into mist.
"Just who the heck was that?" Jason wondered.
"Jason, Zack, Trini, Kim: that was the Amber Ranger," Tommy smiled as they demorphed.
"So there are seven of you guys now?" Zack asked.
"Apparently so," Kat nodded. "The thing is, no one knows who A.R. really is: not even A.R.!"
Tommy noticed Adam and Billy's worried expressions. "Let's go help Aura and Azure." * * *
"Oohhh. . .what happened?" Azure opened her eyes to see Aura across from her. She winced as pain shot all through her from her shoulder.
"Azure?" Aura spoke quietly. The younger girl sat up and leaned against a tree, almost crying with the pain of her shoulder.
"Azure," Aura managed to make it over to her. "I. . .guess that thing left. I tripped, hit my head. Your arm?"
"It hurts," Azure groaned.
A familiar voice called out, "Azure! Aura!" It was Adam, who ran into the clearing with the others right behind him. "There you are!"
Aura glanced up. "Adam, guys. . .Azure's hurt."
"Man," Adam ran straight to Azure. "Where?"
"My shoulder," Azure leaned back, closed her eyes, and winced a touch.
Adam carefully picked her up. "We'd better get her to a doctor. This doesn't look too serious, but better safe than sorry."
Azure nodded. "Let's go."
"I hope you're all right, Azure," Aura hovered protectively over her sister. "That thing looked like it could cause a lot of damage."
"I wonder what that thing was," Adam caught Azure glancing at him as she spoke.
"Goldar," he spoke without really thinking through what he was saying. Azure winced again as he jostled her accidentally. "Oh, sorry!" * * *
Zedd was in fine form as he berated Rito and Goldar. "You couldn't even take care of two simple human girls! You are an idiot, Goldar! And as for you, Rito! Well, you are one of the dumbest creatures alive!"
"It wasn't my fault!" Rito grumbled.
Zedd peered down at the Earth, watching the Rangers and their friends at the hospital. "At least you managed some damage on that Azure girl. And next time, we will be victorious!"
"Yeah," Goldar decided to simply agree; it was the easiest way to get along.
"Now that we know who the Amber Ranger is, we can't help but win!" Rita cackled insanely, Zedd joining her. * * *
Aura, Zack, Jason, Trini, and Kim were walking through the park. Aura had wanted some time along to spend with the friends she hadn't seen in a while; Azure would be getting out of the hospital later that day. Aura hadn't said much since the attack two days previously, her thoughts churned over and over inside her mind.
"You know, you're starting to act like Azure was a couple of days ago," Zack probed gently.
"Sorry, Zack," Aura sighed. "Just thinking about a few things."
"It must run in the family," Jason sighed, shaking his head. "Want to talk about it, or are you going to be stubborn?"
Aura sighed. "I don't know how to say it. But. . .I'm going to stop going anywhere with Billy."
"Why?!" Trini was shocked. "I thought you two liked each other."
Aura whispered. "I love him."
"So why stop being around him? If you love him, go for it!"
"Because every time we try and do anything, a monster or those bird-things or something shows up! I can't take that!"
"And you're scared of ending up in the hospital like Azure?"
Aura nodded. "Right, Zack. I know the Rangers show up and take care of things, but I don't want to keep counting on that."
Jason shrugged. "I hope Billy understands. It's your decision."
Aura's voice was even lower this time. "I'm not going to tell him. I'm just going to stop. I couldn't face him with that."
Jason shook his head. "You're not being fair to him. But do what you think is right."
Aura's gray eyes swam with tears. "I don't want to do it: but Azure was hurt, and I can't stand that."
Zack hugged her gently. "If you ever want to talk, call one of us OK?"
Aura smiled gently. "Thanks, Zack. Thanks, all of you. Just don't tell Billy my reasons, please. He'd try to talk me out of it. . .and I don't want to be talked out of it."
Trini put an arm around Aura's shoulders as she wept. "Oh, Trini, I already miss him: it feels like there's a hole in my heart that nothing can fill up but him."
Kim took one of Aura's hands. "Aura, if things are meant to be, they will be. You know that and I know that."
"I don't believe in destiny," Aura sighed. "But it would be nice to know that I didn't have to worry about it."
Trini and Kim exchanged glances; it was rough on all of them to see Aura this depressed. "Don't worry," Jason advised. "Everything will work out in the end."
"I hope so, Jason," Aura took a deep breath. "I truly hope so."