I do not own Power Rangers.

After three years of writing this story it now comes to a close. I want to thank everyone who has read and reviewed this story. I really appreciate all your feedback.

Ghostwriter: Thank you so much for your review and for the information on the Monster-Matic. I hope you enjoy this chapter just as much as the last.

Brankel1: Thank you for your review and the compliment. I hope you enjoy this chapter.

Jeremy Shane: Thanks for reviewing. I hope you like this chapter too.

On with the last chapter!

Two weeks passed as if nothing happened. Skull kept true to his word. Although it was difficult for him not to mention the rangers' identities whenever Bulk complained of yet another failed attempt. Several times he nearly slipped the information, but caught himself just in time. While the rangers felt they could trust Skull not to be dumb enough to actually let it slip, they were unaware of just how smart Bulk truly was. He was incredibly lazy when it came to school, but he was quicker to discover things that seemed out of place than his counterpart.

The only difference following the event was the tension between Kimberly Hart and Eugene Skullovitch. He and Bulk would occasionally hang out with Kimberly and her friends, but it seemed as though the passion between the two was gone. It was not long before everyone close to them noticed the change.

Two weeks without monster attacks gave the rangers the time they needed to relax and take control of their lives. When they took on the roles of Angel Grove's protectors they knew the consequences, and that they would need to sacrifice parts of their old lives. They accepted those terms without any complaints. Now with the Monster-Matic undergoing extensive repairs it gave the teenagers a long needed break.

The group took up residence at their favorite hangout spot. Kimberly stood over in the corner practicing her routine on the balance beam. Trini sipped a strawberry milkshake while watching her friend's grace.

Billy sat by her side, his attention on his calculus book as he downed a vanilla shake. Trini smiled at the boy she had become close with. She could tell he liked her by the way he blushed everytime they accidentally touched. Several times of late Trini would purposely let her hand graze his, or lean her arm on his shoulder just to see his reaction. His cheeks would always glow and his lips would slowly curve into a smile. She waited for the moment he would finally admit his feelings for her.

The thoughts of romantic emotions caused her to glance back at her best friend. Now that she thought about it Kimberly had seemed more distracted ever since that incident with Skull. Kimberly told her how she broke all romantic ties with Skull for his own safety. Jason and Zack supported her on decision. Trini understood why she felt she had to, but it seemed as though the heartbreaker was suffering more than she wanted to let on.

Kimberly finished her routine with her arms up in a high V. She took a deep breath then grabbed her water bottle before heading over to the table where her friends sat.

"Good form," Trini commented as Kimberly sat down.

"Thanks," the girl in the pink leotard replied. "I still feel like something's missing."

Trini shrugged. "I'm sure you'll do good."

"Thanks," Kimberly said. She placed her elbows on the table then leaned into her hands. "The competition is this weekend. I just don't know what it is that's keeping me from first place material."

Trini leaned back in her chair. She knew what it was that was distracting the girl, but felt it better for her to find out for herself.

"How about we go to the mall," Trini said. "You've been practicing too hard."

Kimberly sat up straight in her chair. "That sounds great!" she cheered.

Trini smiled. Merely mentioning the mall was the best way to pull Kimberly out of a funk. She excused herself to change. Three minutes later Kimberly returned sporting jeans and a fluffy, pink blouse. A heart necklace hung around her neck.

The two headed for the door when the source of Kimberly's distractions walked through the door. Both Kimberly and Skull suddenly stopped and their eyes averted the other. They halted when they stood right beside the other.

"Good afternoon, Skull," Kimberly said in the cheeriest voice she could muster.

Skull gave her a weak smile. "It's good to see you, Kim." He turned to face her, securing his hands in his pockets. "Ready for the tournament this Saturday?"

Kimberly nodded. "Ready as I'll ever be," she answered. "Will you two be there?"

"I wouldn't miss it for anything," Skull replied in his normal, high-pitched voice. Those few seconds of seeing joy upon his face gave Kimberly enough to sincerely smile.

Bulk agreed to attend as well for having nothing better to occupy their time. They just failed at another attempt to discover the rangers' identities. Unknown to Bulk, Skull sabotaged the mission the second they began. Bulk placed a hand on Skull's shoulder then nodded to their usual table.

Skull turned to the girl who still held his heart. He ran a hand through his hair then offered her a small wave.

"See you later," Kim he said lowly then followed Bulk to the table.

Kimberly let out a sigh of frustration. Her auburn bangs floated as the hot air escaped her lips. She turned to keep herself from having to look at his face any longer. She reminded herself again and again that what she was doing was only for his protection.

Trini parked her car in between the two white lines. Kimberly gripped her purse and walked side by side with her best friend to the building that had claimed half of her allowance since the day she turned eleven.

They found themselves inside one of Kimberly's favorite stores that contained the cutest dresses, many in her favorite color and style. Trini searched through the circular rack. A particular yellow spaghetti strap dress caught her attention. She walked up to the mirror and held the garment in front of her body. She wrinkled her nose. The color was definitely her—Kimberly once remarked that Trini was one of the few people who could truly pull off yellow. Still she found the straps a bit too slim. She placed the hanger back on the rack before turning towards a shelf housing tees.

"What do you think?" called Kimberly as she stepped out of the dressing room. She spun around displaying the light pink dress with a ruffled top. The skirt flared out at the hips and ended just above her knees. She had the legs required to wear such a dress.

"Nice," Trini replied. "It's you."

Kimberly stared into the mirror. She played with the skirt of the dress. Her hair ended just at where the cut at the dress in the back began.

"I think I'll get it," the pink ranger stated before stepping back inside the stall.

Trini merely shook her head and let out a soft chuckle then resumed looking through the tee shirts.

A few stores later the girls found themselves walking towards the jewelry store on the other side of the mall. There was no need for a directory since Kimberly could basically draw a map of the building by memory.

They entered the store as Trini finished telling her the story of what happened in computer class. Kimberly's classic laugh filled the store making everyone inside smile.

Costume jewelry lined the walls while shelves containing various hats and scarves sat in the center. Trini glanced through the sparkling, silver items when she caught a familiar face in the mirror. She turned to see the dark-haired girl trying on a red hat.

"Who's that?" Kimberly asked, always ready to meet a new friend.

"Her name's Melinda, she used to be in my class," Trini replied. "She was very bright, but had to leave the school under…questionable reasons."

Kimberly gasped. She stared Trini in the eye and whispered, "That's Melinda Stouffer? The girl Bulk was telling me about."

Trini nodded. She said, "Then I'm sure you've heard the rumors. I can tell you it's all a bunch of crap, she's one of the smartest girls I've ever known."

"Did she transfer schools?" Kimberly asked.

"She goes to a more prestigious school now, so maybe it was better for her," Trini answered. She glanced back at the object of their conversation. "But I hate that it had to be under those circumstances."

Kimberly nodded in reply. She could not even begin to imagine how she would feel or react if anyone began such awful rumors about her. She would probably stay at home and cry every day.

Trini inhaled sharply then strolled over to her old classmate. Melinda tossed the hat back on the shelf and stared up at the other girl with wide eyes.

"Trini?" Melinda asked.

Trini nodded. "Hi, Melinda," she said. "It's been so long." The two side-hugged for they were not necessarily close. Trini now wished she had been there for Melinda when she was going through such a hard time. If so she may have never left Angel Grove High.

Kimberly slowly approached the girl she had heard so much, but until now had no face to put with the rumors. She was surprised to see Melinda was actually pretty. She had dark, wavy hair that fell an inch past her shoulder. She had bright brown eyes and several freckles. It was hard to believe that Skull attracted a girl like her. Kimberly halted her thoughts right there—after all she too had fallen for him.

"This is my friend, Kimberly," Trini said introducing the two.

"Oh, yes, I know her," Melinda said shaking her hand. "I remember when you ran for president and won."

Kimberly nodded. "Yes, thank you," she said, still not sure how to react around her.

"How's Seaside?" Trini asked.

"Structured, very structured," Melinda answered. "Much more advanced than Angel Grove, that's for sure." She paused then added, "I'll be graduating this year."

"Really? So soon?" Kimberly asked. "But you're only our age, right?"

"Yes," Melinda responded. "But most people graduate two years early there." She crossed her arms then stated, "I'm going to college in Maryland. Far away from California."

Kimberly could not help but catch the bitterness in her voice when speaking her future plans. She could see the amount of anger her eyes still housed. The pink ranger could not blame her for that.

Melinda pushed a few strands of hair behind her ear. She smiled at Kimberly and asked, "You know Eugene, don't you?" She recalled how often Skull spoke of the great Kimberly Hart. It still pained her to know how often Skull's thoughts directed to Kimberly when they were together.

Kimberly nodded. That name managed to stab her in the heart. Her mother assured her it would be some time before her heart eventually healed.

"Yes, we've become very close lately," Kimberly painfully spoke.

Melinda nodded. Kimberly caught the bit of anger in Melinda's smile. "He used to talk about you all the time," Melinda stated. "Even when we were together he was so in love with you."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," Kimberly gasped with a hand over her heart.

Melinda held up a hand. "Don't be," she said with a laugh. "People can't control who they love."

Those words continued to stab her repeatedly. How much longer would she have to endure the torture of Skull's name? She shut her eyes to let the wave of emotion pass. Her mind hushed her aching heart with the truth that she had to do what was best for Skull. When her heart asked why her brain could only answer because of love.

"Do you like him like that in return?" Melinda asked.

Kimberly shrugged. She found it difficult to answer such a question. Usually she would remind the inquisitive person that such questions were rude, but did not have the heart to say so to that girl. After what she possibly cost her during her relationship with Skull, it was the least she could do for now.

"I did," Kimberly replied. Melinda's brows lifted. Kimberly awkwardly laughed. "It's hard to explain, but something happened that I think it's best that we parted."

"Did they spread rumors about you too?" Melinda inquired.

Kimberly shook her head. "No, no, nothing like that." She sighed in relief that nothing of the sort happened to her yet. "I just—I think it would be better for both of us if we didn't date. At least not now." She paused then added, "We're both hurt by it, but there wasn't any other choice."

Trini rested a comforting hand on Kimberly's shoulder to which the latter thanked the former with a smile. She gently gripped Trini's fingers.

"That's silly," Melinda stated. The words shocked the other two. "Let me tell you that I regret letting go of the best person who ever happened to me." She stared Kimberly straight in the eyes. "If you really love him you better hang onto him. Work through your difficulties or you're going to spend the rest of your life regretting it to."

With those words she stalked out of the room leaving Kimberly speechless. She gripped the bag in her hand as Melinda's parting words seeped into her brain.

"Kimberly, are you okay?" Trini asked, slightly shaking the girl who appeared to have spaced out.

She stared up at Trini then gasped with her hands on her face. She grabbed Trini's wrist and headed for the store exit. "Trini, I've made a terrible mistake. We have to get back to the youth center now."

Trini nodded and followed after. They brisk walked to the car. As Trini began the five mile drive back to the juice bar Kimberly hoped that Skull had yet to leave.

Kimberly rushed through the doors catching the attention of her guy friends. She frantically searched the place leading them to believe she had left something behind. At last her eyes landed on the person she sought. She rushed over to Skull as Trini calmly stepped over to the table.

"What's with Kim?" Jason asked.

"She realized something she needed to do," Trini replied.

The guys all nodded. Even though they knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, the five could not help but watch the exchange between their teammate and ally.

"Skull," Kimberly called as she pulled his arm.

Skull glanced up at the girl who held his heart and now his arm. He placed the half-eaten hoagie back inside the paper and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Skull, we need to talk right now," Kimberly said in a hurried tone. She eyed Bulk then added, Alone."

Skull was about to get up, but the sound of Bulk's chair screeching against the floor caught their ears. He smiled at the two then muttered something about getting a refill on his drink. He picked up the blue cup and headed over to the counter.

Kimberly sat down beside Skull. The boy thought Kimberly's news might be connected to ranger business which is why she asked for privacy. He noticed her fidgeting.

"Skull, I—" Kimberly was unaware how to begin the conversation. Skull waited patiently for her to speak. Kimberly grasped Skull's hand. "Look, when you were kidnapped that day I was so scared."

Skull's eyes widened. He wanted to end this conversation before it went any further. "I understand why you did it, but I don't—"

"Skull, please listen," Kimberly interrupted. She squeezed his fingers tighter. "I knew the risks of entering Rita's castle, but I didn't care. I didn't care if I was caught or my power coin taken. All I wanted was to get you safely back home." She stared down at the table for a few seconds before her gaze reunited with Skull's. "I know that's not the way a ranger should think, but I couldn't help it. My heart could only think of you."

"And that's why you feel you have to protect me, I understand," Skull said and pulled his hand from Kimberly's grip. "I'm not going to ask you to choose between me and your duties." He gave her a large smile. "I know that Angel Grove needs you guys right now. And I'm always here to be your friend. That's what we were in the first place."

Kimberly nodded. She replied, "Yes, that's what I used to think."

Those words genuinely caught Skull's attention. He leaned closer and placed his hand under Kimberly's cheek. He lifted her face to see so much sincerity in the girls' eyes.

"I realize now how much I love you," Kimberly said. "That's why I felt I had to protect you. But—but I didn't take into consideration your feelings." She took Skull's hand in hers. "I was too quick to come to a decision without consulting you." She nodded furiously then said, "Now, now I think is the right time for us to discuss this and come to a decision together."

Together. That was the word that pulled Skull's heartstrings. Rarely had he been consulted to have an equal input in a decision. It felt wonderful to finally have his thoughts and feelings considered.

"I really appreciate this, Kim," said Skull. "I mean really."

Kimberly smiled. "I don't think we were ever destined to be just friends," she said. "But if you give me another chance I would like to start over, but much slower this time."

Skull nodded with a smile. "Oh yes, that—that can be arranged," he all but squealed.

Kimberly grabbed Skull's hand. "But listen to me," Kimberly said with a deep stare. "You know how dangerous my after-school job is." She clamped both hands around his. "I want you to promise me no matter what happens you will stay out of ranger affairs." Skull silently stared at her for ten seconds. It was a wait too long for Kim. "Promise me," she said with more force.

"I promise," Skull said. "I promise to try to the best of my ability."

"Please stop following us around," she added. "I'm going to try my best to protect you, but if the city is being attacked, I might not be able to interfere if you and Bulk get in trouble again."

"I'll try my best," Skull promised. "I'll do what I can."

"Thank you," Kimberly replied.

Skull placed a hand over Kimberly's cheek. She leaned into the warmth of his touch. Her lips softly graced his palm which caused him to blush. Skull leaned closer to which Kimberly followed. He grabbed her out of the chair and wrapped his arms around her body.

All conversation stopped to witness. The two never heard the cheers and awws from those nearby because the only sound that entered their ears was the rhythmic beat of the other's heart. They broke long enough to confess their love for the other. Their lips met once more as a symbol that the world felt complete with the other by their side.

The end. Aww, wasn't that sweet? I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and this story.

Also, Merry Christmas, everybody!