Azure sat quietly on the couch, looking outside. She hardly noticed when Adam sat next to her until he called her name. "Yes?" she asked.
"How are you feeling?"
"Physically, a little drained," she told him. She had felt like that ever since she'd returned from Zedd's palace the day before. She wondered how Aura could stand to join with the Spirit the way she did; it had worn her out completely.
"And mentally?" his voice was as gentle as a moth's wing.
"I don't know," Azure sighed. "Confused. Scared. Happy. Sad."
Adam nodded. "I'm. .. nervous, myself. We're going to be going inside Aura's mind, her thoughts and memories, and the memories she's endlessly reliving." _I never thought we'd have to face some of those memories again. All the things that have ever happened to her: and that's a lot that's happened to us. This isn't going to be easy._
"Are you prepared for what we're going to see and hear?" Azure wanted to know. "From what you said, what happened to me is in there also."
Adam put a careful arm around her. "I think I'm prepared. But are you?"
Azure sighed, and her voice shook. "I have to face what happened sooner or later. Not only what happened to me, but to Aura. I'm as ready as I'm going to be."
"You know I'll be there to help you," Adam promised her. "I'll always be there for you."
Azure shivered a little. "Why can't I trust anyone?" she whispered. _It's like it was when Eric first showed up again. Only worse now._
"You will again."
"I hope so," Azure sighed. "I like how you hold me." she sighed as Katia began to cry, and went to her, Adam following. Once they'd put their child to sleep, Azure glanced up at him. "Let's get some sleep."
Adam nodded. "We've got a big day ahead of us," they went to bed, but Azure didn't fall asleep peacefully, no matter how much she wanted to. Adam asked gently, "Azure, do you want me to get you something to help you sleep?"
Azure woke up a bit at the sound of his voice. "No, I'll be fine,"
she tried to fall asleep again, but to no avail. It was a long and mostly
sleepless night for both of them.
Slowly the Rangers came together in Aura's hospital room. The doctors were being kept away by all of her parents; leaving them the time they would need to do what needed to be done. Tommy glanced around at everyone. "Is it official? No one got much sleep last night?"
Adam nodded. "Who could sleep?" he watched as Azure went to hold Aura's hand.
"You're going to be coming back to us today," Billy took Aura's other hand, squeezing it with all his love.
"It won't be long now, Aura."
Azure glanced around. "How is this supposed to work?" they had discussed everything the night before, and the team was reduced to simply Azure, Billy, and Adam, the three closest to her.
The Spirit of Earth appeared even as she asked that. "I will show you the way into her mind. Once you are there, I am not quite certain what you will see, but it will be horrible, that I do know. She has been trapped in this endless ring of memories for a month, and lately something worse has been added, but I cannot sense quite what it is." _Something that put her in fear of her life. Something horrible. Something to do with Zedd. I can sense no more than that._
As Azure looked at Aura, fear filled her eyes, and she almost jumped out of her skin when Adam spoke to her. "You okay?"
"I. . .I. . .yes," she whispered. _What could be worse than what's happened to her already?_
Adam glanced over to Billy. "You ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Billy took a deep breath, gazing into the vacant eyes of his wife. _We're going to bring you back, Aura. No matter what it takes._
The Spirit gestured. Only Adam, Billy, and Azure saw what happened next: a road appeared at their feet, leading into a long, gray tunnel. The others watched as the three of them stared into nothingness.
"Enter the world of Aura's mind," the Spirit intoned. "And know that everything you see is only a product of that mind. Be wary, be warned, and be careful."
Adam glanced down as Azure's hand wrapped around his. "Here goes nothing!" he squeezed it gently and with love.
"Let's do it."
With Billy leading the way, they entered Aura's mind.
"What's going on here?" Billy managed to make himself heard over what had to be the worst storm of all time! It was all they could do to remind themselves it was all within Aura's mind. Thunder, wind, lightning, rain, all raged in there. As they walked, every now and then even minor earthquakes shook the ground beneath their feet.
"I don't like this place," Azure whispered, holding onto Adam tightly. _Why is her mind like this? I seriously doubt it's a 'brainstorm'._
"Neither do I," Adam told her. "I never dreamed Aura's mind was like this!" _She's always so calm. It just doesn't feel right._
Billy nodded. "You're not the only one!" _If I didn't know better, I'd swear the Spirit had sent us to the wrong place!_
Adam glanced around, and caught a glimpse of something unusual. "Hey, look!! A calm area over there!"
"Good!" Azure sighed. They'd been in there less than a full minute, and with the way the storm was raging around them, she was already exhausted.
Adam nodded. "Let's go. We need some time to think about what we're going to do in here," they headed over there, grateful to see the storm around them cease as they entered the green region. Adam examined the still place briefly. His eyes widened as he recognized where they were. "It. . .it's the Heart of Earth! Well, sort of!"
Indeed it was that most tranquil of places, that beautiful realm where the Spirit of Earth dwelt. "What it looked like," Azure whispered, remembering how it had been during her last visit. She flinched almost automatically, remembering also how Eric had taken her from it.
Adam nodded almost to himself. "This must be symbolic. This should be where Aura is linked to the Spirit of Earth," his head jerked up as the wind brought faint screams to them all. Screams they all recognized. Aura and Azure's both. "We have to find wherever Aura is in her mind," he glanced to where the screams seemed to be coming from. "We might want to look there."
Azure turned to look where he was, and winced at the sound of her own voice. "Why did I agree to this?" she wondered to herself. _Facing my sister's nightmares: and my own. I can't do this. But I have to._
"You guys ready?" Adam took a deep breath. This had to be the strangest mission they'd ever went through in their entire lives. Azure didn't move; she was staring at where the screams were coming from. Adam called her name gently.
"I wasn't as ready as I thought I'd be," Azure whispered, shaking. Adam laid a hand on her shoulder with all his love.
"Azure, I know this is hard for you, but we have to do it," he reminded her. "Aura's life and sanity could depend on it."
Azure sighed and nodded. "Let's go," she got to her feet and started with Adam and Billy outside the representation of the Heart. They hadn't taken five steps outside before Billy stopped suddenly paused. His eyes were as distant and vacant as Aura's own were.
"Billy?" Adam whispered. Azure looked at her brother-in-law, her heart sinking.
"I don't like this."
Billy wandered through a mist-filled corridor, brow furrowed in confusion. Where was he? What was going on? From ahead of him there came the sound of voices and laughter. He hurried forward, one of the voices sounded so familiar. . .
A door loomed up ahead of him, which he carefully slipped open and peeked into the room beyond. A familiar voice came from behind it, one he was floored to hear.
"Oh, Galan, I love you so much!" Aura had never sounded that much in love with HIM! Billy cracked open the door a bit farther, to see Aura and Galan entangled around each other in a wide, soft bed. His whispered denial went unheard by the couple.
"To think you were once married to that LOSER!" Galan chuckled as he ran a finger down Aura's spine. She giggled at that, stretching in pleasure.
"What did I ever see in Billy?" she mused, kissing along Galan's neck in that special way she had. Galan shrugged as he returned the kisses.
"Who knows. . .who knows?" Galan pushed her back to the bed, his kisses beginning to explore every part of her. She smiled as she returned the embrace.
"I've never been happier since I came here to you," she murmured as his arms slid around her. Billy stepped away from the door, letting it shut, and leaned against a wall. He felt as if his heart was breaking with pain to have seen that.
"This isn't happening," he whispered to himself. "This isn't happening at all. It can't be." he slid against a wall, tears rolling down his cheeks. "Aura. I will always love you. If Galan hadn't drugged you that time," he would never forget Aura's tear-filled admission of what had happened between the Amber Ranger and the Amber Ranger Hunter.
"Bi. . .Billy?" it was Aura's voice, soft, gentle, and so full of pain and weariness he couldn't stand it. As she spoke, everything went dark around him.
"Aura?" he looked up, standing. "Where are you?"
"How did you get here?"
He answered her, "The Spirit of the Earth. Azure and Adam are here too!"
"Be careful," her voice replied. "I don't know. . ."
"Aura!" he screamed, as the mists parted. . .
"Billy?" Azure stared at the Blue Ranger as his eyes cleared suddenly. Adam shook him by the shoulder carefully.
"Billy, what happened? Man, you were just staring at nothing for almost a minute!"
Billy frowned, shaking his head to clear what he'd seen away. "What? I was. . .man, that was so real!"
"What was?" Adam didn't know what was going on, but he wanted to find out in a major hurry! Billy looked at them both, brow furrowed.
"I think we need to be on our guards. I had a vision of Aura and Galan. . .more like a nightmare. Then I heard Aura," he shivered a bit at the memory of the pain in her voice as she had last spoken to him. _She's reliving so much of her life, and so much of it's bad._
"Galan?" Adam could go forever without hearing that name again. "He's dead!"
Billy nodded. "I know. Come on, let's go find out how to get Aura out of herself," they started walking again, but hadn't gone far when Azure pointed out something.
"What's that?" three people were sort of lounging around ahead of them. "Who are they?"
"Can't be sure," they were too far to get a good look at them. "Who could it be in her mind?"
Billy looked ahead, they looked familiar, but at their distance, he just couldn't be sure. "Let's go find out."
The closer they got, the clearer the three people got, until Adam's eyes went wide with recognition. "Azure. . . that's you. . .and Aura. . .and . . ."
Azure could only stare in pain. "Eric."
"This is the best day," Azure leaned against Eric, his arm wrapped warmly around her. They might be only thirteen, but they loved each other. Her fourteen-year-old sister, Aura, was a few feet away, looking off into the distance with sad gray eyes.
"Yes," she murmured, sighing a little. Eric planted a small kiss on Azure's head, and she smiled. She had never been happier since they had started dating. Their parents thought it was rather amusing, and most of their 'dates' had been nothing more than a walk to the movies or something similar. Azure had in mind that would change as they got older.
"The best in a long time," he said, smiling at her. He was so handsome. . .
"You're thinking about him, aren't you?" Azure knew that look in her sister's eyes. She was thinking about Billy Cranston.
Aura smiled at her. "Don't I always?"
"If Billy only knew," Azure giggled, remembering how over the past four years Aura had missed him with all her heart. She truly loved him, Azure believed. Maybe they'd get together someday. Who knew? Aura seemed about to say something, when she winced and put a hand to her forehead in a gesture Azure knew all too well.
"Not again," she groaned. Infrequently Aura had migraines, nothing too serious the doctors had said, but she usually had to lay down somewhere dark for a while until they passed.
"What is it? Headache?" Eric frowned, worrying. Azure nodded and got to her feet. So much for a pleasant day outdoors.
Azure nodded. "This is not happening. Eric, could you help me get her somewhere dark?" Eric nodded and helped Aura to her feet, supporting her as they headed back to the Robinsons' apartment. Their parents had just set up a darkroom for her, a deeply shadowed place where she could wait out her headaches. Aura looked up at them both as she settled in, and managed a small smile.
"Thanks, Azure, Eric," she sighed. "This is a bad one."
"No problem," Azure smiled as she held Eric's hand. "No
problem at all."
"What was that all about?" Adam stared as the three people faded away. It was a memory, Azure had told them. Azure looked at him, regrets in her eyes. "Azure, please, talk to me."
"It was. .. just a day in the park. Sometime before he changed. ..before he tried to. . .," she turned away, not able to look at him.
"Before the. . .," Adam tried to get her to say it. She growled at him angrily, "You know very well what I was talking about!"
Adam sighed. "Come on. Let's get moving. We'll probably be running into a lot of memories around here. Aura's reliving every bad one she's ever had. That must've been stirred up because we're here."
"Let's go," Azure sighed as they started to walk again. History repeated itself a moment later, as in mid-step Adam froze, eyes gazing off into the distance. Billy looked at him.
"Great," he groaned. "Wonder what he's seeing."
Adam stared in disbelief as Azure and Eric, a few feet away, kissed. "I love you, Eric," she smiled warmly into his eyes. "I'm so glad I changed my mind."
"So am I," he kissed her, his hands caressing every part of her body. Adam couldn't believe it as she began to return the touches.
"Azure, what are you doing?" he screamed, but it was obvious neither of them heard him. "Azure, please, no, don't! Azure, you said you'd never go to him!"
In between gasps of pleasure, Azure moaned, "I'm so glad I left. . .whatever his name was. He isn't HALF the man you are!"
"I know!" Eric laughed. "I know!"
Adam stared, not believe his eyes in the slightest. "You . . .you said. . .," something occurred to him. "You said you wouldn't leave me, and I believe you: how can you leave me for someone who's dead?"
Everything went black, and Adam looked around, not sure what had just happened. "What the?" he murmured.
"Adam. . .Adam, you're really here?" it was Aura! He remembered what Billy had told them, about how he'd faced a nightmare. It must be a side effect of the spell that kept her like that, he decided.
"Aura?" he called out, hoping to be able to find her. "I'm here, why wouldn't I be?"
"Why are you in my mind?"
"To help you," he told her. "We're going to find you, Aura, and heal you!"
She was silent for a moment. "There are dangers here,"
she finally said. "Remember, most of what you see is . .. my. . ."
Azure was staring at him in confusion as his mind cleared from the memory/nightmare/whatever. He muttered Azure's name briefly, and she took his hand. "I'm here," she whispered.
"I. . .I saw you . . . with. . .," he couldn't say it. He just couldn't. Azure prodded him into it, though, and he finally whispered, "Eric." Azure looked sick to her stomach at that thought. "It was only a nightmare. I heard Aura, she mentioned dangers."
Billy nodded. "It appears that her mind is full of booby-traps."
"Why would it be, though?" Adam wondered. They had no answer for that, though, as they continued to walk through the storm of Aura's mind. All around them, suddenly, was a room. All unknowing, they had entered another memory.
"No, not this. .. anything but this," Azure moaned as she
recognized the setting with fear-filled eyes.
Azure was huddled in a corner as Aura slammed open the door and came over to her. "What happened?" the elder girl asked, with an edge to her voice that said she already knew.
"He. . .he. . .," Azure whimpered. "He did things."
Aura's hands clenched into fists. Deep within herself, she felt something stirring, something that declared this HAD to be avenged. "Was it Eric?" at Azure's frightened nod, Aura turned to the boy who had once been their friend. With a viscious, almost animal-like sound, she jumped at him, kicking him far away from Azure.
"No one hurts my sister!" she told him. "Ever!" She slammed a foot into his groin with all her strength, then watched in pleasure as he doubled over in pain. Almost before she could do anything about it, though, he had recovered, and was pulling a gun on her! "Sorry, Eric, things don't work that way here!" she snarled, moving faster than she had ever thought possible, and disarming him.
Aura snatched up the phone as Eric moaned helplessly in a corner, and put in a call to the cops. No one noticed the tears in her eyes as she spoke in her usual strong, confidant voice to them, detailing what she was certain of, and what she suspected. As sirens sounded in the background, she wiped the tears away, and glared nastily at Eric.
She'd never let him hurt her again.
"Was. . .that what I think it was, Azure?" Adam asked gently. Azure was still staring at where the dream memory had been.
"Why that?" she murmured. _I tried so hard to forget that. Why did it have to show up again?_
Adam put a hand on her shoulder. "Azure, it's the past now," he tried to comfort her.
"Is it?" Azure glanced at him. "It's still here!" she touched her temple lightly. "I can never forget it!"
Adam was about to say something, when there was a shimmer in front of them. Aura appeared in front of them, crying on her knees, flickering from childhood to teenage years to adulthood. One thing remained the same: she was crying. "Aura?" Azure whispered. She had never seen her sister like that before.
"Couldn't help her in time. . .couldn't save her," the image whispered, tears pouring down the almost-transparent cheeks.
Azure came over to her. "Save who?" _I think I know, though. I don't care of this image can't hear me. . ._
"My sister. . .oh, God, he hurt her and I couldn't do anything to stop him!" Aura moaned. Azure shook her head.
"You weren't in the room," she whispered, remembering how it had began. "We wanted to be alone. .. ," _I was thirteen, and as curious as a cat. And Eric used that curiosity. He was slime even then, and I just didn't know it._
"I should've known," the image berated herself. "I should've seen the signs. I'm so stupid! I can't let her be hurt, ever again!"
Adam stared at Azure. "Azure, did you say what I think you did?"
His wife was staring at the representation of her sister. "That's why you. . if I had known. . .," _that's why she's always been so protective of me since then. She blames herself!_ She looked up, she'd heard what Adam said. "Yes."
"Did you know what he was going to try?" Adam didn't want to hear the answer, but knew he had to. He had to know.
"I was only thirteen, what do you think?" she hissed back at him. They all looked as the image of Aura stood up. She thrust a fist towards the sky, eyes streaming tears as she flickered through every age. Azure realized this meant all her life Aura had wanted to protected her.
"I swear from this day forward, no one will ever harm Azure Robinson again. No matter what it costs me, even if it's my life!"
Adam nodded. "You know, I always wondered why she's so protective of you."
Azure sighed a little as the image faded, and was about to speak, when
her own personal nightmare came to life all around her.
Someone seized her from behind, and a familiar voice growled in her ear. "Time to go meet your new husband!" Aura hissed. Azure turned as best she could, staring into her sister's eyes.
"Gee, you catch on fast, don't you?" Aura had never looked so evil, so full of hate and malice as she dragged Azure towards a shadowed figure.
Azure struggled as best she could. "Why are you doing this?"
"Why shouldn't I?" Aura laughed as the shadowed figure stepped forward, revealing himself to be Eric. Azure couldn't break her sister's steel grip, no matter how hard she tried.
"Thank you, Aura," Eric chuckled. "Welcome, Azure."
Azure stared; this couldn't be happening! "How?"
"You didn't really think it was that easy to get rid of me and my father, did you?" Eric laughed as Aura threw Azure towards him. She screamed for Adam as Eric seized her tightly.
"Leave me alone!" she demanded. "Just leave me alone!"
Eric forced her into a kiss, then glanced over to Aura. "Double wedding, right?" Aura nodded, and Azure was suddenly nauseated as she saw Zedd standing beside her. Aura turned to him, love in her evil eyes. Eric pulled her attention back to him. "Come on, it's not so bad. Well, for you it will be!"
Azure managed to kick him and squirmed away. Aura appeared in front of her suddenly. "No! You aren't leaving your new husband so soon!"
Azure stared at her sister, catching sight of the gleaming amber pendent around her neck. There was something in her head, a voice, so faint she couldn't understand what was being said. "Want to bet!" she yelled, just as she was grabbed from behind.
"I do believe I do!" Aura smiled visciously as Eric seized her tightly. Azure stared at her sister, wanting to know why she'd been betrayed like this. Aura shrugged as she asked her.
"Because I wanted to!"
Azure heard the voice in her mind again, but though it was a bit garbled, she knew it now. "Spirit?"
"Yes, it's me, Azure," the voice was so warm and loving and full of life, it could never be mistaken for anything else but the Spirit of Earth's.
"What is going on here?"
The Spirit told her, "This is a nightmare, Azure. Nothing but a nightmare that you must conquer to continue!" Azure was a little confused as she glanced from Aura to Eric. Then she smiled suddenly. The Spirit sensed her triumph. "Remember, Azure. Remember what I have told you."
Azure turned to Eric, eyes blazing. "You have no power over me!"
Eric stared in shock. "What?"
"You heard me!" she laughed. "You have no power over me! You can't control me from where you are, you're dead!" she glanced at where Zedd stood next to Aura. "Both of you!"
And with the realization of that, both of the images faded away,
never to return.
"Azure?" Adam looked at his wife, heart pounding, wondering what she'd seen. She looked over at him, then tackled him with a tight hug.
"What happened?" he asked, holding her close to him. She smiled a little, feeling still the courage within her.
"Later. I'll tell you later," she promised. "Let's just concentrate on getting Aura back."
_Remember, be strong._ The Spirit whispered to them all. Azure smiled her thanks. She knew she couldn't have done it without the Spirit's wisdom.
"Which way do we go?" Adam asked as he looked around. The screams were loud enough to shatter eardrums here. Azure shivered, then pointed to where they were the loudest.
"That way," she whispered. Together they started down what appeared to be a hill, and as they crested it, stared down into the valley on the other side. "There she is!"
Aura, chained and on her knees in the middle of a whirling series of scenes, was on the other side. Billy slid down the hill as Azure remained frozen for a few seconds. "Aura?" he whispered gently.
She looked up and jumped away from him. "Now what kind of nightmares do I have to go through?" she muttered.
"I'm not a nightmare. I'm real. I'm here to help you," he held out his hand gently. "Zedd can't touch you anymore!"
Aura almost reached out to him, then pulled her hand back. "No! I've seen this before, you won't fool me again, Zedd!"
"Aura!" Azure came down the slope running. "He is Billy! Believe me, please!"
Aura shook her head in shock. "No, don't bring Azure into this. Let me have some untarnished memories!" Azure started towards her.
"I am Azure. Remember. .. remember New York, how much I hated that apartment, that whole city! The subway. . .," Azure looked over at Billy. "Care to give me a hand?"
Billy hated seeing the terrified look in his wife's eyes. "Remember when you were seven and you pushed Jason into the lake?"
Aura's eyes softened a bit. "He. . .he couldn't swim then."
"That's right, he couldn't," Azure nodded. "You jumped in and pulled him out!"
Aura smiled a little. "Then I taught him to swim."
"Aura, it really is us. We are our friends, and more," Adam urged her. Azure kept trying.
"And remember when we were at the zoo? Zack tripped when trying to imitate a penguin?"
Aura giggled, a sound sweet to all their ears. "I remember," she didn't notice, but all around her, the images of all the hideous things that she had ever experienced began to fade.
Azure took a deep breath. "They can't hurt you anymore. Never again will they harm another living soul."
"I. . .I don't know," Aura whispered as one of the images, of Zedd in the past, flickered by her.
"They can't!" Azure insisted. "They're dead, both of them!"
The images faded away, but were all replaced by one, one none of them recognized. Aura, with a knife in her hand, holding it over one wrist. "Dead," she moaned. They could all feel what she had felt in that moment: self-hate, despair, loathing of herself, loathing of Zedd. ..
"Listen to me!" Azure screamed. This was something she knew all too well. "Zedd did this to you! As both Eric and Galan made me! he tortured you until you thought you could no longer live with the memories. Just like I did when Eric showed up again!"
"I can't live with them!' Aura screamed. Azure wasn't having any of that, though!
"Don't you think I feel the same way?"
Aura stared at her sister. "You. . you can. You've always been stronger than me!"
"Bull!" Azure snapped. "Who saved my life time after time? Who pulled me out of my catatonic state after the second time?" Aura stared ceaselessly at the memories. "Aura, you are a fighter! You can beat these! Yes, they'll always be there, in some part of your mind, but you must not let them rule you!" she paused for a moment. "The Spirit told me something very useful. Dare you call a part of her weak?"
Aura literally recoiled. That went against everything that made her the Amber Ranger. "Never!" her eyes widened as the chains vanished. "It's over!" she stood up as the memories faded. "It's really over!"
"Aura?" Azure whispered as the mental storm ended. Aura ran over to them, smiling with joy.
"You brought me out of it!" she told them. "But now you have to get out!"
Azure nodded. "See you back in the real world," she said. Aura smiled as they faded away, and the last thing they heard was a soft whisper on the wind.
There was barely a second of transition before they were back in Aura's hospital room: in a heap on the floor. "You did it!" Rocky exclaimed.
"Yes, they did!" Aura said from her bed. She was sitting up, eyes open and full of light and joy, and smiling. "They saved me!"
Azure, who had been on the top of the heap, got to her feet and wrapped her arms around Aura in a hug. "Aura, you're back!"
Tears of joy flowed down Aura's cheeks as they hugged. "Thank you, Azure, thank you! Thank all of you!"
Billy hugged her as well, once he had gotten up. "I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you: we're moving! I don't know where, but we are getting out of that house!"
Aura smiled and nodded; she had enough bad memories of that place now. Everyone smiled suddenly, as the Spirit of Earth rejoined them. "Hello, Aura!"
Aura slid out of bed and quietly made her way to her other half. "You were there, inside my mind. I felt you."
"I am always with you, you need to remember that."
Aura nodded. "I know that, now," she smiled a little. "Just when I learn the truest lessons of being an Amber Ranger, I'm no longer needed. I did hear someone say Zedd and Eric were dead, right?"
"That is correct. They have been destroyed," the Spirit informed her. Aura sighed a little.
"That's what I was going to do once. So, who did what I screwed up on?"
"Your sister," the spirit smiled a little. Aura stared at her, as did Azure.
"Excuse me, Azure, not that I'm complaining, but how did you kill them?" Aura wanted to know all the details!
"I sort of brought their house down on them," Azure mumbled, ready to bolt at any second. Aura laughed a little; to be rid of those monsters was a dream come true!
"You brought the entire palace down?"
Azure, tears in her eyes, ran out of the room after a muttered, "Yes!" Aura tried to go after her, only to find she was simply too weak at the moment. Adam glanced at them all.
"I'll see you later," he headed after Azure. The Spirit helped Aura back into bed, she still needed to rest.
"You would have been proud," the Spirit told her. "She has fulfilled her destiny."
Aura smiled. "I am proud. Wait. .. fulfilled her destiny?" as the Spirit explained the prophecy, Aura smiled, then sighed a bit. "I hope she'll be all right. I'd hate to come back just to lose her."
The Spirit told her, "She will be fine," _for now._ Aura yawned deeply.
"For some reason, I am very tired," she murmured. Billy kissed her gently on the forehead.
"Sleep. I'll bring the twins and little Shaya tomorrow," he
promised. Aura smiled, then closed her eyes. In a few moments, she had
lapsed into a deep and restful slumber.
Adam found Azure sitting on a bench outside, crying her eyes out. He joined her quietly, speaking her name just loud enough to get her attention. "Wanna talk about it?"
She closed her eyes briefly. "I. . .I'm so ashamed."
"You have nothing to be ashamed of!" he told her. How could she be ashamed of anything?
She stared at him. "Don't I? You heard what I said in Aura's mind, you know what I did on the moon! And you tell met hat I have nothing to be ashamed of?"
"On the moon," he thought deeply. "Killing Eric and Zedd. You heard the Spirit, it was your destiny to do that. If you hadn't, do you think we would have ever freed Aura from that loop?"
Azure shook her head. "But what about what I said in her mind?"
"About that first time with Eric?" at her nod, he continued, "You were thirteen. You didn't know what was going to happen; everyone makes mistakes. And his was doing that to you: and he paid for it."
Azure leaned against him. "Almost all my life has been hell. Can it get any worse?" she wondered.
"If it can't get any worse, then it can only get better," He told her. She smiled as she kissed him.
"It already has," she told him. As he kissed her back, he whispered, "I love you, Azure Park."
"Thank you," she told him. "Thank you for everything. I Love you with all my heart, and only you: forever and a day."
He smiled. "As I love you. Forever and eternity."
"I'm glad I went into her head," Azure decided. "If not only to get her back, but to face what happened to me."
Adam touched her hand gently. "I'm glad you finally did face it. She's proud of what you did, you know. To Eric and Zedd."
"I know," Azure smiled a bit.
"In fact, I think she's a little jealous," Adam chuckled. "Because she didn't get to do it like she wanted to."
Azure smiled. "She'll get over it, besides, I still can't get over the look on their faces when they realized that I had joined with the Spirit of the Earth."
"What was it like?"
Azure laughed at the memory. "Eric's eyes got huge and all he said was 'oh shit'. In fact, I think he did!"
"I wouldn't be surprised!" Adam enjoyed the thought of that. "I've seen Aura as the Guardian, and we expect it from her. But to see you: that must have scared them witless!"
Azure shivered. "it scared me."
"Why is that?" Adam wondered. "Aura says it's a major rush."
She shrugged. "I don't know. I was already scared, but that scared me even more."
"Maybe it has something to do with the fact you're not connected to the Spirit like Aura is," he suggested as she leaned against him.
"Probably. This is the best," she smiled as he put an arm around her.
"I know. I love you."
She gave him a playful look. "Let's go home," she tickled his neck gently. "We've got some catching up to do."
And so they did.