Three weeks passed, with the usual events happening. Divatox sent down monsters or set out detonators, the Rangers dealt with them, and she screamed and yelled a lot. Justin was proving himself to be a valuable member of the team, and Azure was slowly growing used to the idea of a teenage Ranger.
Things were rather hectic for the two sisters, though, with things piling up until finally Azure suggested a trip to get them both away from it all. Adam and Billy both agreed to it, in fact, they practically threw their wives into the car to get them out of Angel Grove for a time!
"It's going to be great to see Aunt Kate again!" Aura smiled. It had been quite some time since she'd seen her aunt, and she missed her.
"I wish the guys could've come, though," Azure mused as they drove down the road. Aura nodded.
"Yes, but it's nice to be on our own, too," she reminded her. Azure smiled.
"No kids, no husbands, no work, no studies to worry about for two days!" she rejoiced.
"It's going to be a great weekend!" Aura laughed, keeping an eye on the road ahead of her as she did so.
Azure smiled as she glanced ahead, and saw a car heading towards them. That thing looks like whoever's driving it's had a little too much to drink! "Aura, you may want to watch out for that driver," she pointed him out to her sister. Aura nodded, and was about to say something else when everything seemed to go insane.
The car pulled halfway across the road, heading straight for them. Aura did her best to avoid it, only to have the other car smash straight into them. Azure's belt snapped as they were thrown down a hill and she was tossed out of the car. Aura remained in, hitting her head against the steering wheel hard.
Azure looked up as she came to her senses and saw Aura's car slammed hard into a tree. She groaned and slowly got to her feet, glancing at her wrist and groaned. Where's my communi. . .oh, there it is. The little bit of twisted metal on the ground a few feet from her used to be her communicator. She sighed deeply, then saw Aura was still in the car. "Damn," she muttered as she started towards it. "Aura, you'd better be all right!"
Azure found she had to lean against a tree for a few moments, too dizzy and disoriented to walk for long. She wished they'd never left Angel Grove a moment later when Piranatrons and Divatox appeared a few feet away, with the purple pirate laughing at them. "Nice to meet you again, human!"
"Not now," the young woman groaned. Aura's hurt, and I'm not feeling that good, and she's got to show up and ruin everything!
"Seems like you've had a little accident here!" the pirate mocked them. "Oh, the poor Amber Ranger. . .looks like she's all banged up!"
Azure glared. "Get out of here now!"
Divatox shook her head. "Oh, I don't think so! Let's play for a while!" she waved the Piranatrons towards them, and Azure set herself. I don't have the others to get me out of this. Time to handle it on my own for once.
Azure was too caught up in the fight to notice what was going on for a few moments, until she saw Divatox leaning over Aura's still form. "This is going to be so much fun!" the pirate laughed.
"No!" Azure couldn't believe her eyes, couldn't Aura be left alone even when she was hurt and unconscious? "Leave her alone!"
Divatox smiled evilly. "I've done what I came to do!" was all she said. "Let's go, Piranatrons!" with that, she raised her arms and teleported out in a blaze of fire. Azure headed for the car, intending to check on her sister.
"Aura," she muttered. "Please be okay. . ."
Darkness enveloped her.
"Ohhhhh. . ..," Aura's eyes flickered on an unknown amount of time later. W. . what's going on. .car. . .there was. ..accident. . .AZURE!!!! "A. azure?" she could barely manage to speak as she looked around. She felt relatively fine, just a slight headache, but Azure. . .
Her sister lay on the ground a few feet from her, face down and unconscious. Aura ran over to her, hearing an ambulance coming and noted absently a passerby coming towards her, he must have called them. She rocked back and forth with her sister's blood-covered body in her arms. "Azure," she whispered. "Oh, Azure, you've got to be okay. . .please be all right. . ."
"Miss?" the person placed a hand on her shoulder. "You shouldn't be moving around, you might be hurt.
"Doesn't matter," she whispered. "She's the only thing that matters."
"Who is she?"
"My sister," Aura replied, eyes on the person who had been her stability and strength through good times and bad. "My best friend. Azure."
The stranger, who introduced himself as Mr. Keaton, stayed with her until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics quickly did their best to stabilize Azure, then loaded her into their vehicle. Aura heard clearly what one of them said into the CB. "We have a medical emergency coming in, patient in critical condition!"
Aura held onto Azure's hand the whole way to the hospital, not daring to let go for a single moment. Once they got there, Azure was whisked away to surgery. A nurse intercepted Aura before she could follow them. "Miss? If you'd like to step over here. . ."
"Where's a phone?" Aura wanted to know. "I need to call her husband and mine!"
The nurse told her, "You'll be able to, but first we need to make sure that you're okay. If you'd please follow me."
Aura was led into a room where a doctor did a quick examination of her. As soon as possible, Aura brushed him away, for dual reasons. She had no intentions of revealing her alien nature, and she wanted to know something. "Enough about me. Where's Azure?"
"I'll go check," the doctor told her. "If you want to go call your husband, the nurse will let you do that from the nurse's station."
A few minutes later, Aura placed a trembling phone call in to Adam. "Hello?" the former Ranger asked. He'd been working out a lot, getting back into shape now that all his injuries had been totally healed.
"Adam, it's Aura," she could barely keep the tears from her eyes or voice.
"Aura, what's wrong?" Adam was worried. "I thought you were supposed to be on your way to your Aunt Kate's house."
She told him, "We got into an accident. Oh, Adam, Azure's hurt bad! We're at Stone Canyon Memorial, you'd better get here fast!"
"I'm on the way!" Adam slammed the phone down, grabbed every kid he could get his hands out, and headed out the door.
Aura sighed and then dialed her own phone number next. "Hi," the cheery voice of her son Alex answered her.
"Alex, this is your mommy," Aura told him. "Put your dad on the phone."
"Okay!" he giggled a bit as Billy picked up the phone.
"Alex, what did we talk about last night?" he asked quietly, before turning to the receiver. "Hello?"
Aura spoke quickly. "Azure and I were in an accident, she's hurt badly!"
"Where are you?" once she'd told him, he wrote it down quickly. "Okay, I'm going to call your parents and let them know. Did you already call Adam?" he really didn't have to ask, he knew where Aura's priorities were.
"Yeah. Please hurry, Billy, I don't know how she is, they won't tell me anything!"
"I will," Billy told her. "She's going to be fine. I'm on my way. I love you, and give Azure my love if you see her before we get there."
Aura nodded. "I love you, too, Billy."
"Get some rest," he told her. "I'm going to call your parents."
"All right," she bade him farewell, then hung up, shaking far worse than she ever had before in her life. Where monsters, memories, fights, Tengas, and Piranatrons had never damaged her to last, this was doing in the courage of the Amber Ranger.
"Mrs. Cranston?" she glanced up to see the doctor who had went into surgery with Azure standing in front of her. "Would you come with me?"
"Is Azure all right?" she wanted to know.
"Please, I'll tell you on the way," the doctor gestured for her to walk with him. On the way to the Intensive Care Unit, he asked, "She is your sister?"
He stopped. "I know of no other way to tell you this, but she has some serious internal injuries, that we couldn't close. She's dying."
"No!" Aura shook her head violently. This can't be happening! By the stars of light, it can't be happening! Not Azure!
The doctor took her hand gently, trying to be comforting. "I am sorry. She's in room 321, right behind you."
"Can I see her?" Aura asked softly. As the doctor nodded, Aura went in quickly, staring at her comatose sister. "Azure," she whispered. "You can't die. Not after all this time."
She took Azure's hand, tears trickling down her cheeks. "Oh, Azure," she pressed the cold hand to her forehead. "Don't leave me. Don't. I can't live without you."
"Aura?" she turned to see Adam standing in the doorway. "How is she?"
"Adam. . .," Aura couldn't tell him what was happening! "The doctor said. . .she's dying. . ."
He straightened a little. "No," tears welled up in his eyes. "No!"
"She can't!" Aura shook her head. "I won't let it happen!"
Adam gently brushed his hand against Azure's cheek. "This can't be happening. You can't leave me, not now. We've just really started our lives, you can't end it so soon!"
Aura made her way to her feet. "I'll call the Spirit," she said. "We healed her once, we can do it again!"
Adam nodded as he kissed Azure on the forehead. "I'm not leaving your side."
Aura closed her eyes, reaching within to that place where the Spirit of Earth was linked to her. . .and felt nothing. . ."I can't reach her!" she staggered in surprise, this had never happened before! Never!
"I can't reach the Spirit of Earth!" Aura dropped into a chair beside Azure, not understanding anything that was going on. How could this be happening?
"Then there is no hope," Adam whispered, gazing into Azure's closed eyes. "Azure, honey, please wake up! After all you've been through, you can't possibly die now!"
Aura watched as Adam tried to plead Azure back to life, barely noticing when Billy came in until he touched her shoulder. "Billy," she whispered. "Oh, Billy!"
"Shhh," he held her. "Come on. Let's leave them alone for a little while."
Aura nodded as she stood up, almost falling on him as she let loose with even more tears. He helped her out to the hallway, she could see the others entering the waiting room not too far away. "Oh, Billy, what are we going to do?" she whispered.
"We're going to make it through this," Billy told her firmly. "So is Azure."
"He. . .doc . . .the doctor said she was dying," Aura told him, hating the words even as she spoke them. "Oh, Billy, I couldn't even contact the Spirit!"
He tried to reassure her, "Probably just because you're upset. Come on, let's go to the hotel."
"I want to stay here," Aura shook her head. "In case Azure. . in case she. . ."
Billy nodded. "Okay, at least come to the waiting room. And give Adam some time with her."
There was just nothing else she could do.
"Billy?" Tommy asked as they walked in. "What's going on?" when he found out, the Red Ranger almost wished they hadn't asked. Aura found a seat and buried her face in her hands, sobbing her grief out once more. Her eyes hurt, her chest ached, her head was throbbing, and all she wanted to do was forget her entire life, since that life had revolved around Azure. And now Azure was. . .was. . .she wouldn't even let herself think it. She couldn't let herself think it!
"How are you holding up?" it was Kat. Aura looked up with tearstreaked eyes. "Aura, talk to me, how are you holding up?"
"My sister's dying, Kat, how do you think I'm holding up?" she growled. Kat looked down.
Aura looked at them all, anger, fear, hate, rage, grief, all in those expressive gray eyes of hers. She turned away from them all, in a way she hadn't since first becoming the Amber Ranger, and just stared at the wall, tears still trickling down. Billy held her warmly in his arms as she rocked back and forth, blaming herself internally.
"Aura," he whispered. "The police will catch who did this to her."
"That won't change anything," she whispered.
She sighed, the tears almost stopping. "I should've been more careful."
Billy tried to reassure her. "It's not your fault. He hit you."
"Why not me?" Aura was plainly not hearing a word he was saying. "Why her? Hasn't she been through enough?"
"I don't know, Aura, I really don't."
"Hello, there!" everyone looked up to see Elgar and almost twenty Piranatrons there. Aisha growled, "Get out of here!"
"The last thing we need here is you!" Rocky hissed.
Elgar shrugged. "Sorry, but I got my order!" they started towards the Rangers, who intercepted them, all but Aura. She hadn't even noticed their arrival, her entire focus was taken up with thoughts of that small frail figure in Room 321.
Of course she did notice Elgar when he smacked her heard enough to knock her out of her chair. She glared up at him. "Can't Divatox leave us in peace for one day?"
"Um, nope. Are you going to fight or sit there?" Aura's answer was not one Elgar enjoyed receiving as she slammed her foot with every ounce of strength she had left right in his most sensitive area. "Ohh!! That hurt!"
"It was meant to!" she growled as she threw herself into the attack. But so hard had she cried, she had no real strength left, she was worn to the bone. Elgar pushed her down contemptuously.
"Ha! Can't even help your own sister!" with that as his last words, Elgar vanished, the others had taken care of the Piranatrons without Hospital security even knowing they were there. Billy came over to Aura and helped her to her feet.
"Come on, you're getting some rest," he was going to insist this time, she needed it badly for Elgar to beat her in a fight.
"I am not leaving here!" Aura shook her head.
Billy frowned. "We're going to be right across the street. If she wakes up, Adam or one of the others will call us, okay?" he managed to worm a reluctant promise out of her. He looked over to Tommy. "You know the room number?"
"Thanks," Billy nodded and led Aura firmly across the street to the hotel room he'd gotten before coming to the hospital. "Just rest here," he told her. "I'm going to be in the other room with the kids for a few minutes."
Aura laid her head down. She couldn't believe her sister was once again in the hospital. This time, she had no one to blame but a drunk driver. Wiping the tears away, she fell into a deep sleep.
Aura turned at the voice. She knew it, it was Azure's. "Azure!" She ran to her, trying her best to hold her in her arms, but she fell right through her. "What's going on? Why can't I touch you?"
"I'm dying Aura. There is no way around it. Your dreaming this. I just came to say good-bye." Aura looked at her sister, wearing a long white dress that flowed in the non-existent wind.
"You can't be serious! Azure, you are too young to die! What about Katia, Jeni, and Adam? What are they going to do without you?"
"Adam will raise the girls just perfectly. I have faith in him. I will miss you all. I don't want to die, but it's my time. Good-bye dear, sweet sister. Take care. I will always love you!" Azure backed away from her, and faded away.
Aura woke up with a start, tears flooding down her eyes. "Azure, I won't lose you."
"Aura?" Billy's voice came to her from the doorway. He sounded like he was crying.
"I just had a bad dream. I'm okay."
"Aura, the hospital just called. Azure died 30 minutes ago."
"What? NO, not Azure!" Billy ran over to her, and held her as she cried once again.
"I'm sorry," Billy whispered. "I am so sorry," his
tears mixed with hers as they mourned the loss of a sister and friend.
Outside, a sudden storm lashed the treetops, as the Earth itself wept.
The funeral came all too soon for them all. Aura was a shattered woman. Even Adam was taking the death of his wife better than she was. Four times had Divatox attacked, and four times Aura had ignored it. Nothing mattered to her anymore. This was the first time she'd even left her house since they'd returned to Angel Grove. She'd spent the intervening time staring at a picture of herself and Azure, and crying.
"I can't believe this is happening," Billy whispered as he held Aura's hand. Their children were seated around them, and Alaina looked up at her mother, the light catching the amber necklace around her neck.
"Where is Aunt Azure?"
For the first time since Azure's death, Aura spoke. "She's not here anymore, Alaina."
"She. . .she's gone, Alaina," Aura whispered.
"She leave Uncle Adam?" Alaina wondered. Aura shook her head.
"She's left us all, Alaina," Aura told her. "Forever."
Tears welled up in the little girl's eyes. "She's dead?" Aura nodded as she picked her daughter up and held her tightly throughout the service. Once it was ended, Adam stood at the foot of the grave, staring.
"Good-bye, my sweet Azure," he said softly. He looked up as Billy came over to him.
"I wish I could tell you why this happened."
Adam nodded. "After everything we lived through, Rita, Zedd, Eric, Divatox even. . .it takes this. . .to separate us."
"Why don't you come and stay with Aura and me tonight?"
Adam thought for a few moments, thinking of how empty the apartment would seem without Azure in it. "All right," he said finally. "I'll get the kids."
"I'll meet you by the car. I think Aura needs some time with her sister."
The two men walked away in different directions, leaving Aura standing beside the stone by herself. Quietly, Aura dropped to her knees, a lump in her throat that wouldn't go away. Her mouth worked, unused to speaking now, she was surprised she'd been able to say anything to Alaina. Finally, she let loose with a scream that seemed to come from her very toes. "Why!?!??!?!??!?!?!?!!"
It was her time. She recognized the voice of the Spirit of the Earth, echoing in the wind that blew around her.
"Why?" Aura screamed again. "Why wouldn't you come to me? Why wouldn't you let me heal her? She could've lived!"
There was nothing I could do. Nothing you could've done. It was her time to go.
Aura shook her head. "How? She had so much to live for! Why couldn't it have been me? How? She had so much to live for! Why couldn't it have been me? I've done everything I was ever born to do!"
Aura, she has done what she had to do. Look upon her tombstone and read. At the Spirit's command, Aura did so, whispering the dates to herself. "Such a short time. . .," suddenly she did a doubletake. "Wait a minute!" Those dates are wrong!
What else is wrong about this whole situation?
Aura thought deeply. "Alaina. Alaina was wearing an amber necklace, like mine and Alex's! That's wrong!"
Anything else? Remember your last time with her?
"Azure was thrown out of the car," Aura whispered. "Everything went black. . ."
Beyond that. When Adam was there. In the hospital.
"I couldn't get in touch with you!" Aura cried, remembering.
Correct. Aura, you are not in real life at the moment.
"I don't understand. Where am I then?"
If not awake, then you must be asleep.
"How do I wake up?"
Instead of answering, the Spirit said, I shall return. You have company. Aura looked up into the mocking face of Divatox.
"Hello, Amber Ranger!" the pirate spoke sarcastically. "Sorry about your loss!"
Aura glared at her. "This is a dream. But if you're here, it must be a nightmare!"
Divatox's eyes widened. "How did you realize that it was a dream?"
"You're good," Aura admitted. "But you're not that good. You made a few mistakes."
Aura got to her feet, feeling her courage and strength returning. "Like the fact you screwed up Azure's birthdate."
"How could that alone make you think this was a dream?"
Aura smiled. "Oh, a few other details. Like Alaina's necklace, and I couldn't talk to the Spirit of the Earth in the hospital, but she managed to get through to me here. And you just admitted it was one, and that got rid of any doubts I had!"
Divatox shrugged. "So I did. You won this battle," she admitted. "Time to return to life. Pity what you'll find there is almost as bad as what's here!"
Aura growled, "Since you're there, I know it will be just as bad!"
With a mocking laugh, the image of the pirate vanished, and everything around her went black. Aura heard a voice, a well-known, and well-loved, but most of all living voice, speaking to her. . .
"Aura. . .," Azure whispered. "Come on, wake up. .."
Azure looked at her sister, worried. "Aura," she urged. "Come on, wake up!"
Aura's eyes began to open. "Azure. . ."
"Shhh," Azure told her. "The ambulance is on it's way. Someone passed by and saw what happened. They called them and went to go find a first aid kit."
"You. .you're alive. .."
Azure smiled as she rubbed some of the blood from her cut forehead out of her eyes. With the help of the passerby, she'd managed to make certain Aura was more or less in one piece, that had relieved a lot of her anxiety. "Yeah, I'm alive. And so are you."
"Had a . ..dream. ..," Aura tried to tell her about it. "Divatox. . ."
Azure shook her head. "Aura, rest. You were hurt. Rest. You can tell me later."
"I'll be okay," Aura told her. "Since you are."
Azure smiled. "You'd better be," she glanced up as the ambulance arrived. "Looks like help is here."
"Good," Aura winced. "My head hurts!"
Once they reached the hospital, Aura did her best to tell them what she'd dreamed. Azure leaned softly against Adam. "I can't believe Divatox did that," she murmured, her fingers tracing the stitches on her forehead.
"I know," Adam nodded.
"I was so worried about you," Azure whispered, taking Aura's hand gently. Billy's eyes hadn't left Aura the entire time, she looked so helpless in the hospital bed.
"I'm going to be all right," she promised as he leaned in and kissed her on the forehead.
"I didn't know what to think when Azure called me," he said. Aura smiled.
"I love you, Billy!"
Billy smiled at her. "Hey, visiting hours are almost over. Time for you to get some sleep. And tomorrow, you're free to come home."
Aura nodded as she saw Azure closing her eyes, her sister's own pain killers were losing their effect, she realized. "Tell the kids I'll be home tomorrow," she said.
"I will," Billy glanced to Adam and Azure, then back at his wife.
"Come on, Azure," Adam smiled at her. "We need to get you home too!"
Azure nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow, sis!"
"Can't wait to see you," Aura nodded. Azure went over and gave her a small sisterly kiss on the forehead.
"I'm not going anywhere," she promised. Aura nodded.
"You'd better not!"
Azure smiled at her, she'd been horrified to hear of the dream Divatox had put her sister through. "You get some rest. I'm going to the hotel and take those pain killers, and sleep till tomorrow morning!"
Aura smiled as she closed her eyes, already drifting off into a deep, thankfully dreamless sleep.
"Cone on, Billy," Adam pulled him to the hall. "She needs
"Guys," Billy said when they were outside. "I'm going to stay here," he glanced to Azure. "Your parents are watching our kids for the night."
Adam nodded. "If Divatox tries anything, let us know!"
"I'll let the Rangers know," Billy corrected him gently. "Adam, you take care of your wife."
Adam nodded. "I will. But I still want to know."
"Take her to get some rest. She looks ready to pass out from pain," Adam turned at Billy's gestured and gathered Azure up into his arms.
"Come on, honey," he murmured. "Time to get some sleep."
As Adam took her to the hotel, Billy smiled, and turned back to the hospital room, going in to keep on his wife. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Divatox standing over Aura.
"Get out of here, Divatox!" he ordered. The space pirate glared at him.
"She is very annoying, Phantom Ranger!" Divatox growled.
"No one asked you to comment on my wife!"
The pirate glared at him. "So? I don't care what it takes, I'm going to get rid of her and of all the rest of you Rangers!"
Billy forgot his manners for a moment. "When hell freezes over! Get out!"
"No way!" she glanced down at Aura briefly. "And I'm going to get rid of her first! She's been nothing but trouble since I got here!"
"Then you should have stayed away!"
The pirate produced a sharp knife. "No way! This planet has far too many riches I'm going to get, and I can dispose of one obstacle right here and now!"
Before she could bring the blade down, Billy had morphed into Phantom Ranger and stopped her. "I said get out!"
"I will be back!" she promised. "For all of you!"
Once she was gone, Billy demorphed and looked at his sleeping wife. "You have been through hell today," he murmured. "I hope you never have to go back there."
Aura's only response was a light snore as she turned over. Billy smiled and stepped away a little, contacting the others. He quietly told them what had happened, then winced as Tommy let loose with a veritable stream of profanity.
Adam growled, then kicked himself when Azure woke up next to him and wanted to know what was going on.
"Is Aura all right?" Aisha wondered.
"Yeah," Billy told her. "She slept through the whole thing!"
Rocky chuckled. "She's been a deep sleep since the first day I've known her!"
"That she has," Billy smiled. "Adam, make sure Azure gets back to sleep, she needs it, too!"
"You better," they heard Azure grumbling in the background. Adam kissed her sweetly and bade her go back to sleep. "Then shut up!" she told him sharply. He laughed a little.
"Good night, everyone!" Adam said as he turned off his communicator. Billy chuckled.
"And she's always been a light sleeper," he laughed.
Kat sighed. "Those two. When will fate leave them alone?"
"Soon, I hope," Billy spoke their most fervent desire. "Very