The Color of Love: An AAR Anthology Story

By: Pink-Green-White-4ever

Last Revised: June 26, 2005

Summary: The ending to a love story that surprised so many, including themselves.

Ships: C/K, T/K, H/B and any others created by the Anthology authors or JTrevizo.

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers; you can take up that subject with Disney. I don't own Always A Ranger or anything remotely associated with it besides this story. AAR and AAR: D&H plus technically the Anthology are all from the mind of JTrevizo, one hell of a writer and an awesome friend and mentor.

Author's Note: this story is done for the AAR Anthology Project put together by JTrevizo, the master mind behind the AAR Universe. The story is done with inspiration from the song "The Color of Love" by Boyz II Men featured on their album, "Full Circle".

Author's Note 2: There will be two versions of this story, one with and one without the lyrics from the song.

Author's Note 3: A complete list of quotes used in this story are found at the end of it, along with the source for the quote. All quotes, except the one from the Bible, were found at a site called Loving You, if you want the address, email me.


1:00 P.M.
Monday
June 8, 2009
Our Lady Of Faith Cemetery
Reefside, CA
Tommy's POV

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we commit this body back to the ground from hence it came."

I can't help but shake my head in disbelief. Here we are, reunited in grief yet again. Lingering memories of Trini's funeral still plague me, and now this. I look over at the young woman standing next to her quietly sobbing mother, who I've come to think of like my own child, or at the very least a younger sister, and see the pain etched in her eyes; always her eyes.

She thinks she has to be strong for everyone, herself included, and yet, one look at those beautiful hazel eyes of hers and I can see a pain I myself have felt before, too many times to count.

"Tommy," Kim whispers softly in my ear. I squeeze her hand, peck a soft kiss to her forehead and nod, moving forward with her and the others as we pay respects to Kira and her family.

Four days ago, Kira's father was returning from a business trip when he collapsed at the airport from a heart attack. Unfortunately, the wonders of modern science couldn't bring him back; he passed away on the way to the hospital.

The gang's mostly here – Ethan and Trent are together, sharing their strength with their former teammate from a distance; I know neither of them wants to crowd Kira, but they still want her to be reassured that they're here for her. Jason, Billy and Hayley, are standing to my left. The others couldn't make it for the funeral, because of work and family obligations, but I know the rest of them will be in town next month for Kira and Conner's wedding.

Kimberly's to my right, her hand clinging tightly to mine. From the look on her face, as well as the ones on Jason and Billy's, I know they're thinking about Trini's funeral, the same as I am.

And then there's Conner, standing next to Kimberly, his eyes trained on Kira's face. He wants to be with her, that much I can tell from the look in his eyes, and yet he isn't, perhaps because he wants to give her the space he thinks she needs right now. How wrong he is. I nudge Kim's arm with my elbow and she seems to catch the drift of my thoughts.

While Kira's family and friends file past the casket and her and her mother, we Rangers gather together.

"Conner, why don't you go over there with her?" Kimberly asks softly, her hand reaching out to touch Conner's arm.

He looks like he wants to shake his head, but one look in Kim's eyes has him realizing he really should be over there with Kira instead of giving her space. Kim and I share a sad smile as Kira turns and buries herself in Conner's arms as soon as he's within reach.

"Let's go say goodbye to Kira and then head to the cafe. She's going to need a place to come when she finally realizes she needs some air," I command softly, the others nodding in agreement.

Slowly we make our way over. Billy, Jason and Hayley give Kira quick hugs before stepping aside and letting Ethan and Trent near her. Trent hugs her tightly, whispering comforting words in her ear, to which she nods in reply, before he steps back and let's Ethan take his turn. One look at Kira's face and Ethan has her held tightly against him, his cheek resting against hers. I know he's saying something to her, because she nods and tries to hold back fresh tears, but I can't make out what he's saying.

Finally it's mine and Kim's turn. I watch my wife as she tightly embraces Kira, and feel my throat tighten. I know, simply by the look Kira gives me over Kim's shoulder, that Kimberly has told Kira something about a certain fallen Ranger.

I'm suddenly standing in front of my former yellow teammate, and find I can do nothing except pull her into a hug, holding her against my chest as she starts to cry anew. I lay my cheek against the top of her head and hold her tightly as she cries a little harder, the last four days finally overwhelming her.

"Kira, we're gonna head to the café. When you're ready, have Conner drive you over, alright?"

She nods, but still hasn't let go of me. "Thanks Dr. O."

I try to smile as she tries to appear her normal self, but I know it's an act. It's all in her eyes. "If you need anything…"

"I know how to get a hold of you," she laughs softly, backing away to arms length and giving me the first bright smile I've seen on her face in a week. I nod ever so slightly to Conner as I release her hand. He catches my drift and wraps her securely in his arms.

"We'll see you two later."


3:00 P.M.
Friday
June 12, 2009
Hayley's Cyberspace Café
Kimberly's POV

I'm walking through the parking lot to the cybercafé to meet my former yellow teammate so we can go shopping for dresses for me and Hayley to wear in the wedding; Kira asked me to be her maid of honor and Hayley is her bridesmaid. When I see the look on Kira's face, I know something has gone horribly wrong.

"What's happened?" I ask, fearful that the wedding's off or something equally nasty has occurred.

"Kim, the dress we had made, the lady gave it away to someone else!" Kira cried out softly, causing me to wince.

We'd spent two months going over the designs and having this somewhat unknown Italian designer create Kira's dress, and now inexplicably, it's gone.

"What do you mean, she gave it away? You paid for it!" I protest, watching Kira nod and sigh.

"I know. She's credited my credit card account with the price she charged me." I can see Kira's face, and I know what's coming. "I have less than a month until Conner and I get married, and we don't have dresses for you or Hayley, and now I don't even have a dress! What the hell am I going to do?"

Sliding into the chair next to her, I prop my chin up on my hand, thinking carefully. The idea that pops into my mind is a devilish one, and it will require the permission of my and Hayley's husbands and the help of some old friends.

"Look, it's too late to do anything today about it, but I have a plan. I'm gonna head home, make some calls, meet me here bright and early tomorrow morning, around nine thirty."

"Do I even want to ask?" Kira begins as I jump from my seat.

"Its better not to; just don't forget to be here, nine thirty sharp!" I call out as I rush out of the café, my mind moving light-years ahead of the rest of me.


9:30 A.M.
Saturday
June 13, 2009
Hayley's Cyberspace Café
Hayley's POV

I raise an eyebrow as Kira and I watch Kim come striding into the café, the smile on her face scaring us slightly. My new assistant Carla is in charge this morning, seeing how the three of us now need to go shopping for dresses.

"So, what's the deal?" I ask as Kim stands before us.

"We're taking a drive. An old teammate of mine lives about two hours from here. Since she gave up gymnastics, she's been studying fashion design. She's cleared her schedule for the next week to do our dresses. And she's gonna charge us half of what that freaky Italian designer charged Kira for just her dress."

I blink in surprise, and then smile as Kira's eyes fill with tears that are soon forgotten as she jumps up and throws her arms around Kim. In the years since I've met Kimberly, I must say, I've never been more impressed by her than I am at this very moment. I know it probably took some doing to talk to someone she hasn't seen in ages and ask for a favor.

"Let's go!" Kira laughs as we get up to leave. I nod to Carla and follow the pair of former Rangers out to Kimberly's car.

The drive took nearly two hours, with us ending up in a small beach town not far from Blue Bay Harbor. "Wow!" Kira let out as Kim wound her way through the hills of Riverdale.

"Serenity's house is up in the hills," Kim told us, smiling. "She inherited the property from her Grandparents right after Pan Globals."

"A very nice neighborhood," I comment as Kim nods and pulls up to a stop sign before making a right turn and following the next road further up the cliff side.

"She's taking classes in Business Management right now at the community college in Blue Bay Harbor and designs on the weekends and runs her new shop. She's an awesome designer. She made these really cool matching outfits for those of us training to go to Pan Globals."

I smile as I see the beaming look on Kira's face. "Did you tell her whose dress she's designing?" I ask, playfully referring to Kira's music superstar status.

Kim laughs and shakes her head no. "Naw. I figured she'd get a kick out of meeting the newest sensation in music, not to mention the soon to be wife of a famous Olympic Silver Medalist."

Kira rolls her eyes at our teasing, which is her now normal response to it. A few months ago, she would have growled and muttered; now she simply lets it roll off her.

"Funny, guys, real funny. Kim, however did you talk Dr. O and Billy into letting you two out of their sights?" Kira teases back.

"Tommy was only too happy to take care of Beth for the day, and I happen to be very persuasive with Billy."

"Tell her the whole story, Kim," I chide, recalling Kimberly and Billy's discussion on me coming with her.

Kira looks absolutely intrigued. "Spill."

The former Pink Ranger laughs, turning the car into the driveway of a very elegant two story villa overlooking the cliffs. "Well, see, Billy and I are childhood friends, so we sort of know how to get underneath each other's skin when we need to."

I chuckle at Kimberly's words while Kira merely raises an eyebrow in question.

"I basically dared him to spend the day, by himself, with his son. He told me he could, I told him he couldn't, and we kept going back and forth until I tricked him into agreeing with me he couldn't. Then he said, and I quote, 'I am fully capable of taking responsibility for my offspring for one afternoon while my wife spends the day shopping with her friends'. I told him I would take him up on his offer for today and said if he needed any help, Tommy and Aisha were only a phone call away."

I try to contain my own laughter as Kira doubles over in a fit of merriment.

"Kira, you should have seen Billy's face. Kim completely turned the conversation around on him, and you know how the guys get when you question their manhood and their abilities to do something important. He was so outraged that one of his closest and oldest friends would question his abilities on anything. It wasn't until after Kim left the house that he realized she'd gotten him in exactly the position she wanted him in."

Kira's laughter dies down when Kim knocks on the door. We can hear movement inside before the door opens, revealing a lovely young woman. She's about five foot four with dark brown hair and piercing blue eyes. She's dressed comfortably in a pair of gray gym shorts and a red, white and blue USA tank top.

"Kimberly!" she calls out, throwing her arms around Kim's neck. Kim reciprocates by hugging her tightly then pulling back to introduce us.

"Serenity, allow me to introduce to you Hayley Cranston, and Kira Ford."

Serenity's eyes moved to me, and she smiles and nods, before they bulge when she looks at Kira. "Kira Ford? The singer?"

Kira blushes and nods slightly. "Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to do this. I'm getting married in less than a month and I suddenly don't have a dress."

The former gymnast smiles gently and reaches out to squeeze Kira's hand. "No worries. Kim and I are really close, as long as it's not illegal, there's nothing I wouldn't do for her. Come on in, we'll get you guys something to drink and I'll take you back to my studio."


12:00 P.M.
The Home Of Serenity Larson
Riverdale, CA
Kira's POV

My first impression of Serenity's studio is paper. There's paper everywhere! From finished to half done designs tacked to every available surface, to patterns cut out and pinned to mannequins, it's a world of paper.

One full wall is nothing but windows. The view is spectacular – the ocean and the cliffs of Riverdale. Two of the windows are actually doors, which open out onto a patio. The left front corner of the room is taken up by a sewing machine, a shelf full of fabrics, and a desk. The right corner has a small stage and both walls are covered in mirrors.

"This is awesome," I comment to Serenity, who smiles.

"Thank you. I started on a design for your dress last night after I got off the phone with Kimberly. I have another design that'll go good with it for Kim and Hayley's dresses."

I watch as she moves to the desk and lifts up the sketch pad there. The preliminary design is breathtaking. It's an a-line, two-piece dress. The skirt is floor length, and from the sketch Serenity has, it laces-up in the back, and has a detachable train. There's very little embroidery on it from the looks of it, which is what I wanted, and it's off the shoulder, so I won't be sweltering more than I absolutely have to during the ceremony.

"Oh man," I borrow one of Ethan's phrases as Serenity, Kim and Hayley smile.

"You like it? It's not done; we can tweak it if you want."

I shake my head. "No, I love it. Can I see the design for the other dresses?"

"Sure, hang on," Serenity tells me before she rifles through a stack of other sketch pads before pulling an open one out.

When I see the sketch for Kim and Hayley and compare it to mine, I realize Serenity was right. It's an a-line, floor length gown done in two different colors of fabric and has a star pattern beaded at the waist, where the slit comes up, revealing the second color of fabric under the first, in a sort of layered effect.

"I definitely want that for their dresses."

"I thought you might. And I can do it without the beads, if you'd prefer. Right now, let's get measurements and color choices and then I'll take you upstairs into my fabric stash and you can pick some that you like."

"Cool."


10:00 A.M.
Saturday
June 20, 2009
Hayley's Cyberspace Café
Conner's POV

"Why so glum chum?" a voice asks.

Turning, I nod to Devin, who's standing beside me as I sit at the counter at Hayley's.

"I'm worried about Kira." Devin nods, obviously understanding some of what I'm talking about.

"Losing a parent is never easy."

I nod. "It's not just that. I got a call from her a week ago. Apparently, the designer she and Dr. O's wife selected to do her dress made it then gave it away to someone else. I've barely seen her all week because she's been stressing over the dress, Kim and Hayley's dresses, and every other wedding detail not to mention the coverage the media's been giving to our engagement and up coming marriage."

"Aren't you guys, like, getting married next month?" I tilt my head in confirmation. "Man! That sucks. What're you going to do?"

"Apparently Kim took her to see a friend of hers, a designer. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We don't need anymore glitches before the big day; Kira and I are both nervous wrecks as it is."

Devin smiles lopsidedly at me and chuckles. "Not having second thoughts, are you?"

I glare at him good naturedly. "No. She's the love of my life, Devin, and I know with absolute certainty that I want to spend the rest of my life with her, but some days I can't help but wonder if we're really ready for this."

The former high school cameraman laughs and sits down next to me. "Conner, how long you two been dating? Since Senior year, right?"

I must have given Devin a 'DUH!' look because he put his hands up in defense.

"If you two can survive your last year of high school, college, the Olympics, Kira's rise to music superstardom, and having started with nothing in common, I think it's a safe bet that after five years, you're good and ready to make it final."

Score one for Devin, who instantly amazes me with his maturity and insight. "Thanks Dev. By the way, you got your invitation, right?"

"Cassidy has it. She wasn't about to miss being invited to THE Kira Ford's wedding. She seems to think she's going to get to hob-nob with a bunch of famous people."

I laugh outright at that. "Same old Cassidy, never changes. I hate to disappoint her, beyond Kira, Kylee, Kim, and maybe me, there won't be any famous people, just friends and family."

Devin laughs. "Trying telling Cassidy that. I'll talk to you later, Conner, oh, and tell Ethan, I'm in for the party."

"You got it!" I call to him as he turns and leaves.


1:00 P.M.
Home of Kira Ford and Conner McKnight
Conner's POV

"You've reached Ethan James. I can't answer the phone right now, but if you leave your name, number and short message, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks."

I chuckle while the phone gives me instructions about leaving a message. "So, you're suddenly too busy to answer your friends' calls huh? Some best man you turned out to be, maybe I should consider asking Dr. O, Jason, or maybe even Trent to take over those duties."

I pause for dramatic effect, imagining Ethan's face as he hears that. "Just kidding. So, how goes the dude who formerly wore blue? I talked to Devin, he's in for the Bachelor party, and so are the others. This isn't about anything important, just wanted to confirm when you're getting in for the wedding. Give me a call. By the way, wait until you hear about Kira, Kim and Hayley's escapades to find dresses. Talk to you later."

I hang up the phone and sit back against the couch cushions, my eyes drifting over the brand new apartment Kira and I moved into a few weeks ago, before her dad passed away. Kira and Kimberly, with some help from Hayley and Aisha, took it upon themselves to decorate our very nice three bedroom two bath luxury apartment.

I still laugh when I remember Aisha suggesting us getting a house and Kira looking at her like she was nuts before calmly stating she wasn't going to be picking up after me in a house when I managed to dirty our apartment bad enough.

The living room is done in various shades of black, blue, white, red and yellow, with some small pink accents thrown in. How the girls managed to combine the five colors is beyond me, but who am I to question them. I learned not to do that a long time ago, especially when it came to Ranger women, former or not.

We've got a full sized black leather couch, which I'm currently sitting on. It separates the front door from the living room. Across from me is the matching black loveseat, with a nice wooden coffee table between them. To my right, sectioning the living room off from the hallway to the bedrooms, is a dark blue almost black recliner. Opposite of it, between the living room and the kitchen, is our thirty two inch flat screen television, my valentine's present from Kira.

Beyond the television is the kitchen and dining room combination, which Kira did in white, blue, and yellow. On the walls all over the living room and dining room are portraits we've had taken, pictures of our friends and family. There's one in the dining room, just near the entrance to the kitchen that is possibly my favorite.

Somehow or another, Kim's mother managed to gather all of us Rangers at Dr. O and Kim's wedding a few years ago and got a picture of us together. It's funny, looking at it now, and seeing how we've all changed. I remember when Kira first hung it up – I chuckled upon seeing it before sobering quickly at the memories it brought. That was when I first realized what I felt for Kira was beyond a brotherly friendship. It was also a few days before I started asking her out, to which she consistently told me no until finally caving in.

'Thank God she came to her senses, or who knows where we'd be now.' That thought alone is enough to scare me to death. I couldn't possibly imagine my life without her beside me, sharing it with me.

"Naw, I'd have continued asking her out until she couldn't stand me."

I wonder what I did to deserve her to be in my life. Up until we became Rangers I was simply the school soccer star and resident jerk. Then we got our powers, and she, Ethan, Trent and I started hanging out together more and more. It wasn't until the last fight with Mesogog and Dr. O and Kim's wedding that things finally came into focus.

The phone ringing startled me out of my thoughts. Leaving over, I snatch the cordless off the coffee table. "McKnight Ford Residence, Conner speaking."

"Hi Sweetheart."

I smile brightly at the sound of Kira's voice. "Hey Baby. Where are you?"

"With Kim and Hayley in Riverdale. I'm going to be home later than expected; Serenity's doing some last minute alterations to the dresses."

"But other than that, everything's ok, right?" I ask carefully.

I hear a sexy giggle from the other end. "Baby, you are so gonna love my dress. It's simple, elegant, and so me."

"Babe, I'd take you in a brown paper sack or a potato bag," I tell her softly. "And I hate to say it, but that dress is only a barrier between me and that sweet little body of yours, to which I will be ripping that dress off come our wedding night."

"Ha, ha, McKnight, very funny."

"Speaking of last names, have you decided what you're going to do with yours?" I ask suddenly, shifting the conversation so as not to get myself riled up before she gets home; I really don't feel like taking care of things down there by myself.

"Yeah. I hate to sound like a copy-cat, but I'm thinking I'm gonna do the same thing Kim did with hers, hyphenate it. I know you…"

"Kira, I don't care what you decide. I know your fans know you as Ford, and if you want to stay that way, that's fine. I'll tell you what Dr. O told me about Kim's decision regarding her last name. He told me he told her he would support whatever decision she made. He knew as long as she was wearing his ring, he was fine with it. So I'm telling you the same thing, as long as you're wearing my ring, I will support whatever decision you make."

"Conner, I love you, so much."

I smile as I hold the phone, imagining her face. Lately, whenever she tells me she loves me, her eyes tear up. I know she's trying to make sure I know she loves me; she thinks she didn't tell her father enough when he was alive and that he died not knowing she loved him.

"Baby, I love you, always. Now go get your dress finished so you can come home so I can ravish you to within an inch of your life."

Her laughter is the best sound in the world. "Alright. I'll see you in a few hours."

"Yep. Bye." Hanging up the phone, I look around, a plan forming. I think it's time I surprised Kira with a little more romance than she's use to.


8:45 P.M.
Home of Kira Ford and Conner McKnight
Kira's POV

I walk slowly into the apartment Conner and I just moved into, noticing that the lights are all out, and there is a soft glow emanating from the living room.

"Conner?" I call out, setting my purse and keys on the table near the door.

"In here!" I hear him answer. Creeping carefully, I make my way into the living room. Standing where the television should be is Conner, decked out in a pair of khaki pants and a red dress shirt. I blink rapidly, staring at him.

"Baby, what's going on?"

"I made dinner, and as soon as you're done eating, we're heading back to our bathroom and bedroom for a few more surprises."

For a second I almost think an alien has replaced my fiancé. Ever since we started dating, Conner's always done romantic things, but never to this degree. Conner hasn't slacked on the romantic surprises in this relationship, and it's a side of him no one else sees but me.

"What brought this on?" I ask as Conner comes over, takes my hand, and leads me into the living room. There are candles lit and resting on every available surface. He's also brought the portable radio I keep in the kitchen out and set it on a dinning room chair.

"I just thought you might like a nice, quiet evening at home after such a busy day."

I smile as he pulls me into his arms, and begins dancing with me.

"Conner," I murmur his name, snuggling close to him. "Are you ok?"

The look he gives me when he pulls back speaks volumes. He's been so worried about me since my dad passed away.

"I'm worried about you," he whispered, bringing a hand up to cup my cheek.

I cuddled against him, sighing contentedly. "I'm dealing. I'm going to be a mess when our wedding rolls around, and he isn't here to walk me down the aisle."

The smile that blooms on Conner's face makes my heart jump. "I have a solution for that problem."

"What's that?" I ask hesitantly. I don't want anyone taking my dad's place.

"How about asking Dr. O to walk you down the aisle?"

Conner frowns at the shocked look on my face.

"It's just a suggestion; you don't have to freak out about it. I'm not suggesting he take your dad's place, I just thought..."

"Why didn't I think of that?"

Conner looks at me and smiles. "You're not mad?"

"No Conner!" I laugh. "It's a good idea. I'd have loved, more than anything, for my father to give me away, but since he can't be here, who better than the man who brought us together? I'll call him tomorrow or go over and talk to him."


10:45 A.M.
Sunday
June 21, 2009
The Home Of Dr. Tommy Oliver and Kimberly Hart-Oliver
Tommy's POV

Bouncing my daughter on one hip while balancing a bowl of cereal in the other, I grumble in annoyance when there's a sudden knocking at my door. I briefly wonder which one of my friends I get to murder for coming over unexpectedly while I'm spending time with the newest love of my life, my baby girl Beth.

Rolling my eyes, I managed to put the bowl on the coffee table before I walk over and wrench the door open. To my utter surprise and Beth's delight, I see Kira standing there, looking like she's lost. Beth immediately starts reaching out to the former Yellow Ranger, obviously comfortable with Kira's presence.

"Hi Dr. O, hey Baby Girl," Kira greets us, her eyes seeking my permission to take Beth and come in.

I nod and fully hand my daughter over, who promptly grabs Kira around the neck and holds on for dear life, giggling and jabbering the entire time. I smile as Kira settles on the couch, Beth tucked securely in her arms. As is true with all the other former female Rangers, my daughter has taken an instant liking to Kira, whom until recently, she hardly ever saw the first two years of her life.

"Looks like she's getting better at recognizing you," I tell Kira, who smiles and nods.

"I'm glad," Kira giggles and tickles Beth, which makes her squeal in delight. "Conner said she still cries when he tries to hold her."

I chuckle and nod at her words, thinking back to the last time Conner held Beth...let's just say it wasn't a pretty picture though it did give Jason and I plenty of ammunition to tease the former Red Ranger about finally not being able to seduce every pretty girl that comes his way.

"So, what brought on the impromptu visit?"

I almost wish I had held my tongue when I see Kira's eyes tear up. I haven't seen her much the last couple of weeks, not since her dad passed away, and I have to wonder why she suddenly decided to come see me.

"I actually have a favor to ask of you," she starts, hugging Beth close to her chest and stroking her back slowly.

"Kira, you know I'd do anything for you, all you have to do is ask," I tell her, wondering what she could ask me that would bring more tears to her eyes than I'm use to seeing.

"Conner and I were talking about it last night, after I got back from Riverdale. With my dad being gone, there's one decision still up in the air having to do with the wedding."

"What's that?"

"Who's going to be walking me down the aisle."

I feel my heart stutter for a second. From the look in Kira's eyes, and by the words she just spoke, I think I can finally see where this is going.

"Kira..."

"I could have my mother do it, but she's going to be a crying mess and I don't think I can deal with her, and my own emotions on top of it."

"Understandable." I smile as Beth nuzzles her face against Kira's chest and starts falling asleep, Kira unconsciously shielding her by wrapping her arms around her and rocking back and forth lightly.

"I also thought about walking by myself, but I really don't want to. I want the wedding to be as traditional as possibly, considering how untraditional Conner and I are most of the time."

Her words bring quiet chuckles from us both.

"I guess what I'm getting at is, and after talking it over with Conner, because it was his idea in the first place, I wanted to ask you if you'd do me the honor of walking me down the aisle and giving me away?"

For the first time in a long time, I'm left speechless. "Kira?"

She smiles through her tears, her beautiful hazel eyes locking with mine. "Who better to give me away to Conner, than the man who brought us together? I can't think of anyone else I'd want, who could honor my father's memory by giving me away, then you."

"I'm speechless Kira," I tell her softly, smiling at her. "And very honored. Are you sure that's what you and Conner want?"

She nods, blinking back tears and trying not to sob so she doesn't disturb Beth, who's now fast asleep. I move to the couch, bundle Beth up and lay her next to Kira before crouching down and wrapping my arms around the young girl who I've had the pleasure to watch grow into a confident woman, and hug her tightly.

"Please say yes."

"Of course I will," I murmur to her, waiting until she stops crying before I pull back.

"Thank you," she smiles at me, before standing up. She leans over Beth, gently kissing her cheek before moving to the door.

"You don't have to leave yet."

"I know, but I've got a ton of last minute things to handle before the wedding and I know today's your day with Beth, so I don't want to disturb you further than I have. I'll talk to you later, Dr. O."


10:00 A.M.
Saturday
July 18, 2009
Reefside Botanical Gardens
Reefside, CA
Author's POV

"Nervous?" Kim joked as Kira came out of the bathroom in the bridal room.

"I feel like I'm gonna be sick again," Kira moaned, flopping down in a chair and closing her eyes.

"Kira! Come on girl!" Aisha laughed, bouncing into the room and handing Kira a glass filled with clear liquid.

"What's in it?"

"Seven Up. I'll calm your stomach down," Aisha told her.

"Thanks Aisha."

"Your welcome."

Hayley stepped forward after she slipped her dress on so Aisha could zip it up. "Kira, why are you nervous all of a sudden? You've been perfectly fine until this morning."

"I don't know."

"You're not pregnant are you?" Serenity asked, entering the room with a large garment bag folded over her arm; it contained Kira's dress.

"NO!" Kira hollered. "I'm nervous, and scared, and..."

"Kira, chill out. This isn't going to be like my wedding," Kimberly told her seriously, sobering Hayley, Aisha and Kira quickly as they remembered the events of Kim and Tommy's wedding.

"Kim's right, nothing's going to go wrong," Aisha assured her.

"Thanks guys.


"CONNER! STOP PACING!" Ethan shouted, scaring the group of men gathered. Trent, Tommy and Jason chuckled while they helped each other fix their ties. Conner's dad rolled his eyes at his son's nervous behavior while Conner's brother merely laughed.

"Ethan, just go check on her for me," Conner whined.

"NO. Dr. O and Jason will go right before it's time, alright?" Ethan told him, fixing Conner's tie and boutonnière for the twentieth time. "Chill, Bro. All you're doing is making yourself sick."

"Conner, what happened at my wedding is NOT going to happen at yours, I promise."

Conner's scared eyes met Tommy's calm ones, the nervous in the young groom's stomach settling. His former teacher, mentor, and friend had never lied about stuff like that before. "Thanks Dr. O."

A knock on the door startled them all again. Billy poked his head in, smiling. "Everyone's here and seated. You guys ready?"

The group nodded. "Jason, you're going to escort Kira's mom, right?" Conner asked yet again.

"I got your back, Conner. Go get where you're supposed to while your dad and I go get the moms."

The group moved out of the room, Conner, Trent, Ethan and Eric, Conner's brother, heading for the sanctuary while Jason and Mr. McKnight went in search of Conner and Kira's moms, and Tommy headed for the bridal room.

"Ladies, are you ready?" Tommy asked when Kim opened the door at his knock. He smiled at his lovely wife, then at Hayley. And then he saw Beth standing in front of Kira, his daughter taking a yellow rose bud from the vision in white. "Oh wow."

The girls giggled as Kira turned, smiled and straightened so Tommy could see all of her. "What do you think, Dr. O?"

"Oh Kira," he murmured, smiling, and for the first time in a while, felt overwhelmed. 'If this is what it feels like to give away Kira, I'm going to be a nut case when Beth gets married' he laughed to himself.

"Is it time?"

"Yeah. Are you ready?"

Kira smiled brightly. "As I'll ever be."

"Then let's go get you married."


12:00 P.M.

Kim and Hayley moved to help Kira with her dress as the group approached the doors to the sanctuary while Aisha held Beth's hand. Just before they got to the double doors, Tommy took Kira's arm and threaded it through his own, kissed her on the cheek, and let Hayley fold her veil down over her face while Kim straightened the train of Kira's dress.

Taking a deep breath, Tommy and Kira waited while Hayley and then Kim walked through the doors toward the altar. Aisha held Beth's hand and told her, "Beth, walk to Mommy." Remarkably, the two year old managed to walk to her mother, dropping flower petals along the carpeting as Kimberly mimicked her from the front.

"Just think, Dr. O, in like sixteen years, Beth will be old enough to get married," Kira teased as they waited for the wedding march to start.

The former Black Ranger looked stricken by the thought. "Kira, please, don't tell me that. It's bad enough you and Conner are getting married already."

"Dr. O, thank you for everything."

"Be happy, Kira," Tommy told her as they started their walk toward Conner. The look on Ethan and Trent's faces was hilarious, but it was the look on Conner's that made Tommy and Kira smile. The young man was tearing up at the very sight of the lovely Kira all dressed in white.

"Who gives this woman to this man?" the pastor asked, quieting the guests.

Tommy smiled. "I do, on behalf of her family."

"Conner," the pastor motioned for him to take Kira's hand from Tommy's.

"Be happy, Conner, and take care of her," Tommy whispered, stepping back to sit down with Kira's mother and Beth, who were in the front room with Kira's grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Once Tommy was seated, the pastor began. "What is Marriage? It is the mixture of communication, patience, love, sharing, praying and smiles to create happiness and prosperity. What is love? It is finding the other half of your soul, the one you belong to for all time, the one you know you could never get along without. Love is being, in dark and trying times, that other person's rock, their anchor, and they, in turn, steadying you in your time of distress. Only when you mix love and marriage, do you find a bond so strong and undeniable, that even the darkest of evils bows down to it, and purest of lights dim in comparison to it."

"Conner, Kira, your friends have told me of your relationship and your commitment to each other. For you, I can only say, love thoughts of tenderness, tried in temptation, strengthened by distress, unmoved by absence, and yet more than all, untried by time. That is your love; use it to move your marriage to heights unseen before." Turning, the pastor smiled and nodded to Kimberly and Hayley and then Ethan and Trent, causing Kim and Ethan to step forward and take a microphone.

"Let me know your faults and I will remind you of your strengths and gifts," Ethan started, grinning wildly at the pair, who remembered instantly that it had always been Conner who had told Kira the truth about her gifts. He passed the microphone to Trent.

"Look at the world through skeptical eyes and you miss the beauty of the common bliss. See things as they are, not as they could be," Kim and Hayley spoke in unison, smiling as Kim placed the microphone back on its stand. The pair they spoke to nodded, understanding exactly what the two women meant. Kira had been skeptical of their relationship initially, and had she continued on that course, look what she would be missing.

"Look around, see how lucky you are, fortune is on your side, not fighting against you," Trent spoke, swallowing hard. He'd long since laid the memory of Kira Ford to rest in his heart; he felt nothing now except the love of a close friend and confidant.

"Conner and Kira have prepared their own vows," the pastor spoke, gesturing for the couple to face one another. "Conner."

"Sometimes I think about the first time I realized that I loved you ... it was as if my eyes took a picture at that moment and stored it in my heart. Sometimes I think about how much my life has changed because of you. I think about you and your happiness, about us and our life together, and I realize that you are as much a part of me now as the air I breathe and the dreams I have. But, from time to time, I still like to remember the first time I looked into your eyes and saw my future there."

Conner smiled, even as Kira began to tear up. "I'll always be beside you until the very end, wiping all your tears away, being your best friend. I'll smile when you smile and feel all the pain you do, and if you cry a single tear, I promise I'll cry too." To prove his word was true, Conner's tears began to course down his cheeks even as he smiled and reached up to wipe Kira's face.

"Kira, you're my world – my teammate, my friend, my heart, my soul. I'm so happy, to finally be able to call you my partner in life, my wife. It's you Kira, always you. You make me want to be a better man."

Kira choked on her tears as she held Conner's hands tightly, trying to remember the vows she'd written for him. "Kira," the pastor prompted.

"I felt attracted to you and love you even to this day, because your soul spoke to me through your eyes, even when you didn't know it. It's the part of you, that you hold the secret to, that many don't see, and I want to dig deeper."

Kira looked into Conner's eyes and felt the world around her disappear. "I love the way you hold me in your arms when I am drifting asleep. I love the way you gently tuck my hair when you think I do not notice. I love the way you give me butterfly kisses so that it wouldn't disturb my sleep. Most of all, I love the way I feel secure and loved in your arms. Conner, I've wait for this for so long. I want to go to sleep at night, wake up every day, and breathe knowing you are truly mine."

"You are everything to me and I can't imagine what life would be like without you. Thank you, for loving me, for wanting to share your life with me."

"Conner McKnight, do you take Kira Ford to be your wife?"

"I do."

"And Kira Ford, do you take Conner McKnight to be your husband?"

"I do," Kira murmured, staring into Conner's eyes.

"The rings please," the pastor murmured, Ethan and Kim stepping forward and handing their friends the rings that would be a symbol of their joining. "A circle - no beginning and no end – and the most appropriate symbol for marriage. Let there be no end for your joining. Conner, please take the ring in your hand and place it on Kira's finger."

Conner nervously took Kira's hand, sliding the beautiful diamond and red and gold topaz encrusted band halfway down her finger. "Conner, repeat after me, with this ring…"

"With this ring…"

"I thee wed."

"I thee wed." Conner slipped the ring all the way to the base of Kira's finger, before bringing her left hand up to kiss her knuckles.

"Kira, place the ring on Conner's finger." The blushing bride did as told, repeating Conner's movements with a similar ring to her own.

"Kira, repeat after me, with this ring…"

"With this ring…" Kira spoke, her voice shaky and her eyes locked on Conner's.

"I thee wed."

"I thee wed."

"Two halves have little choice but to join and yes, they do make a whole, but when two wholes join that is beauty; that is love. Allow me to give one more piece of advice, before I pronounce you man and wife. 'Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.' Conner, you may now kiss your bride."

As Conner and Kira pulled back from the passionate kiss, the pastor announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Conner McKnight!"

As the newly married couple turned to face their guests, a great noise was heard from the crowd. Kira and Conner smiled as each of the former Rangers they'd invited stood and began to wildly cheer.


Acknowledgement of Quotes Used

"Love thoughts of tenderness, tried in temptation, strengthened by distress, unmoved by absence, and yet more than all, untried by time." Unknown

"Two halves have little choice but to join and yes, they do make a whole, but when two wholes join that is beauty; that is love." Unknown

"Let me know your faults and I will remind you of your strengths and gifts. Look at the world through skeptical eyes and you miss the beauty of the common bliss. See things as they are, not as they could be. Look around, see how lucky you are, fortune is on your side, not fighting against you." Unknown

"What is Marriage? It is the mixture of communication, patience, love, sharing, praying and smiles to create happiness and prosperity." Unknown

"You make me want to be a better man." Unknown

"Sometimes I think about the first time I realized that I loved you ... it was as if my eyes took a picture at that moment and stored it in my heart. Sometimes I think about how much my life has changed because of you. I think about you and your happiness, about us and our life together, and I realize that you are as much a part of me now as the air I breathe and the dreams I have. But, from time to time, I still like to remember the first time I looked into your eyes and saw my future there." Unknown

"If you're asking if I need you, the answer is forever. If you're asking if I will leave you, the answer is never. If you're asking what I value, the answer is you. If you asking if I love you, the answer is I DO." Unknown

"I'll always be beside you until the very end, wiping all your tears away, being your best friend. I'll smile when you smile and feel all the pain you do, and if you cry a single tear, I promise I'll cry too." Unknown

"I felt attracted to you and love you even to this day, because your soul spoke to me through your eyes, even when you didn't know it. It's the part of you, that you hold the secret to, that many don't see, and I want to dig deeper. With this comes the undeniable passion and sexuality that can fly us heavenward." Unknown

"I want to go to sleep at night, wake up every day, and breathe knowing you are truly mine." Unknown

"I love the way you hold me in your arms when I am drifting asleep. I love the way you gently tuck my hair when you think I do not notice. I love the way you give me butterfly kisses so that it wouldn't disturb my sleep. Most of all, I love the way I feel secure and loved in your arms." Unknown

"Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8