Disclaimer: I own nothing
Author Notes: Purely inspired by my fave PR pairing, Merrick and Shayla and the WF boxset I got for Christmas did really help grease the inspiration wheels. Somehow, the rest of the WF team and the TF team wormed their way in! They are my two fave series after all. Stuff in italics is a scene from the past. Hope u like - )
SHARING THE PAST
She'd almost kissed him tonight.
Princess Shayla sighed, beginning to twist a long strand of her hair into a plait. With any ordinary man and woman, this would be a good thing and once upon a time he would have been as happy as her for this to happen. Unfortunately she and Merrick were far from normal. Anyone drawn into a Ranger life was different but what made Shayla and Merrick different was not their abilities or their powers (although those were pretty spectacular in themselves) nor their occupations (though a Princess and her Protector were unique by today's modern standards). It was their age.
They'd first met well over 3000 years ago.
It wasn't either of their faults that they'd slowly fallen in love.
Merrick insisted that he was bound by his duty as a warrior and as her Protector and refused to cross any lines despite his desire for her. Despite the fact that he had not seen her for 3000 years and when he did after overcoming a cursed wolf mask, she looked exactly the same as she had done when he'd last seen her. She could see the desire in his eyes every time he looked at her and in the way she felt his eyes on her when her back was turned.
Yet still he held back. He would draw away when he felt her come too close and try not to spend too much time with her. Any desire he felt for her was carefully locked away, showing only in his eyes.
It was so hard.
Sometimes he melted into her touch and even offered a reserved somewhat shy smile. Those were the times Shayla smiled back and walked with him hand in hand through the Animarium. Small things like singing and playing for the Deer Zord together brought them closer together despite Merrick's resistance. He knew that the large amounts of time spent together as Protector and Princess had accelerated their feelings for each other the first time and was not willing to let it happen again.
There were always two sides to Merrick. Princess Shayla began walking, humming under her breath as she thought it over in her mind. There was the warrior, the one chosen by the ancient Wild Zords to protect Animaria. The warrior who was steeped in Animarian tradition and customs, the talented fierce fighter. The one chosen as her Protector, needed due to her affinity with the mystical Zords and the knowledge she held as the Zords' keeper. The loyal noble warrior who had stayed by her side for so long and kept her safe from harm. Always there when she needed him and obeyed her commands.
Then there was the man. The man who made her a necklace which allowed her contact with anyone she wished and stood smiling after he had clasped it around her neck as she laughed and danced in Animaria. The man who had played her songs on his flute so long ago and now joined her early every morning to play as she sang for the Deer Zord. The man who wore the blue and silver jacket she'd made especially for him. The man who let go sometimes and allowed his feelings to be as pure and open to her as her's were always to him.
The man who one night under a starry sky had stood with her in the Temple on Animaria and sworn that he loved her. The man who had been her lover so long ago.
In a quiet wooded area near Willie's Roadhouse, a lone figure sat near a pile of chopped wood. His hand held an axe which he stared at contemplatively but his mind was far away. As Shayla thought of him, so Merrick on the ground beneath the floating turtle-shaped island thought of her and that night.
"Don't the stars look beautiful Merrick?" the Princess asked dreamily as she gazed up at the stars.
Merrick glanced up at the star-splattered skies as he and the Princess walked through the Temple. It was very late but the Princess had wanted to go for a walk and as her Protector, Merrick had insisted on being by her side.
"Yes Princess," he confirmed.
Princess Shayla laughed a little and tucked her arm through his, drawing them closer together. Merrick stiffened at the close contact and tried to slow his suddenly racing heartbeat.
"Ever wonder what's out there Merrick?" asked the Princess, her head tilted skywards.
Merrick thought for a moment before offering his opinion.
"Other planets Princess, galaxies we don't know of."
"Such a clinical answer my Silver Protector?" said the Princess fondly as they slowed to a stop. "You are allowed to have a personal opinion and let your emotions show in front of me, tell me what you really think."
She reached for his face with a delicate hand but Merrick shied away, anger suddenly burning in his eyes as he broke all physical contact with his lovely charge.
"Princess, you must stop this behavior," he insisted. "I am your Protector, nothing more. Our feelings for each other must never be acted upon."
There was angry edge to his voice and gestures which made Princess Shayla flinch. At the sight of her heartbroken expression, Merrick's anger melted away. When he spoke again, his voice was softer.
"I am sorry Princess, I would like nothing more than to be by your side forever as your husband instead but it cannot be that way. I am sworn to be your Protector and that is all I can be."
There was a pause as Princess Shayla's eyes filled with tears. He knew he was breaking her heart but didn't she know he was also breaking his own? Afraid of crying himself, Merrick swung abruptly around. There were several long moments of taught silence.
"What do you see when you look at me Merrick?" asked the Princess impulsively.
"Do not ask me to look on you Princess," begged Merrick. "I will forget why I refuse you."
"What do you see Merrick?" the Princess' voice was insistent. "Turn and face me, that is a command."
Years of royal protocol made Merrick turn obediently before he realised what he was doing. His breath caught in his throat as he looked upon Princess Shayla. She wore a long soft rose colored gown adored with red and white flowers around her slim waist and shoulders. Even at night, she looked like perfect summer evenings. Tears slipped from her large pretty eyes. The last thing Merrick wanted to do was make her cry. He reached out a shaking gloved hand and wiped her tears away.
"I see you Princess, keeper of the Wild Zords," he replied.
"And what do you feel?"
Merrick took a deep breath as he gazed at her. It would do no good to lie to the Princess. She would see the truth in his eyes anyway.
His voice was barely a whisper. Shayla smiled and reached for his hand.
"I love you too Merrick, is that so wrong?" she asked, deep emotion coloring her words. "Why should we be forbidden to act upon something so right?"
"Because of my vow, I am……"
Shayla shushed him gently as she pressed the fingers of her other hand over his mouth and smiled.
"You are sworn to protect me I know, but I also know you love me too. I see it in your eyes."
"Yes Princess," murmured Merrick softly. "I do not deny my feelings for you."
"Oh but you do Merrick! You refuse to act upon these beautiful feelings you have for me when you know I feel the same way," cried Shayla. "Can you not protect me and love me? You will not hurt me by loving me, who could possibly keep me safer than my own dear Silver Protector?"
She moved her fingers from his lips to rest them behind his head at the base of his neck. Merrick sighed at the gentle flesh-to-flesh contact. Reality screamed in his head for him to remember his duty.
"But Princess, what if I should get killed in battle? Or if the Court of Animaria does not approve of our union? Or if they decide that I have broken my vow?" persisted Merrick.
"Then we will deal with it when the time comes," promised Shayla with a carefree smile. "When you take away all the rules and all the questions, I am just a person. Just a young woman in love with a man."
She tilted her head up towards him and Merrick found himself leaning down to her as they shared their first electrifying kiss.
With a start, Merrick shook himself out of his daydream and hauled himself to his feet. He began splitting the logs in front of him into smaller kindling, grunting from the effort as he worked hard. He was aware of sweat prickling on his skin. He tried to block the thoughts from his mind.
He would not allow himself to pursue a relationship with Princess Shayla again.
Not after the fall of Animaria.
To be continued…….