Last Revised: September 20, 2005
Summary: Someone important to Sky Tate is attacked and nearly killed, not by Grumm, but by mere humans, and the former Blue Ranger has to decide what’s more important – his present with one woman, or his future with another.
Rating: M for adult situations
Disclaimer: I don’t own them, never did, if I did, lots would be different.
Ship: Z/Bridge, Sky/OC, eventual Sky/Syd
”You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.” -- Joan Baez --
"Some girls are worth fighting for, but some are worth dying for." -- Unknown --
"What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories." -- George Elliot --
The shrill ringing of the phone broke the quiet of the darkened bedroom. A deep groan was heard by one of the sleeping occupants on the bed of navy covers and pillows.
“Sky, answer the phone already,” a soft voice commanded.
“Anna, it’s on your side of the bed,” Sky heatedly told her, but leaned over his girlfriend and answered it just the same. “Tate here.”
“Sky Tate?” a voice asked, uncertain.
“Yes, who is this?”
“Mr. Tate, I’m Doctor Parker at New Tech City Memorial Hospital. Sir, do you know a Sydney Drew?”
Sky’s eyes popped open instantly, his entire body completely awake. “Yes. Why?”
“Sir, she’s been brought in, and you’re listed as her contact person in her records. I’m afraid you’re going to need to come down.”
“I’ll be right there.” Sky clicked the phone off and jumped out of bed.
“What’s going on?” Anna asked, sitting up, holding the sheet to her chest.
“Syd’s at the hospital, I need to go see what’s going on.”
Anna glared. “You know, you always jump whenever she asks you to do something. Why is that?”
Sky rounded on her after he zipped his jeans and grabbed a t-shirt. Standing there, barefoot and shirtless, Sky glared at her. Normally, she never said anything about him hanging out with the other members of his former team, especially Syd. “Because she’s my best friend, and she’s known me longer and far better than anyone. That’s why. There isn’t anything in this world I wouldn’t do for her.”
Anna pouted. “It’s not fair, Sky, let Bridge or Jack take care of it.”
“NO.” Sky pulled the t-shirt over his head. “I think you’d better head home after I leave, because I don’t know how long I’m gonna be down there and I know I’m not gonna want to talk to you when I get back.”
The drive to the hospital was the longest fifteen minutes of Sky’s life. A jumble of emotions, memories, and fears surged through him. He tore through the doors of the emergency room looking frantic.
“Excuse me!” Sky called to the nurse on duty.
“Dr. Parker called me, said my friend was brought in. Her name is Sydney Drew.”
Sky watched in shock as the nurse’s eyes filled with tears and she nodded, reaching for the phone. She dialed a number, spoke softly into the phone and then hung up. “You need to go back to room three; Dr. Parker’s waiting for you.”
The former Blue Ranger nodded and rushed back through the door, looking for room three. He saw a young doctor, not much older than himself, standing outside a room with a clipboard in hand. “Dr. Parker?”
“Mr. Tate,” Robert Parker greeted, shaking Sky’s hand.
“What’s going on?”
His lips were set in a thin line as he debated what to tell Sky. “She was brought in two hours ago; we finally got her stabilized right after I called you. Her bodyguard was shot and killed and she was attacked while leaving an appearance at a local night club. She’s...to put it nicely, she had the snot kicked out of her.”
Sky instinctively knew that the Doctor was holding back something. “What else?”
Swallowing, Robert looked up. “She was raped, repeatedly, and by more than one person. An S.P.D. unit has them in protective custody, after an innocent bystander heard her screaming and called for help. Commander Cruger is on his way here, as are several others.”
Sky felt his knees give out, causing his legs to fold. Strong hands grabbed his arms, causing him to look up into Commander Cruger and Jack’s faces. Behind them, Kat, Boom, Bridge and Z came rushing in. “Oh God! SYDNEY!” Sky howled.
When the staff finally got Sydney moved to a private room, her friends and superiors were finally allowed to see her. Sky was the first to go in, and he was completely unprepared for the sight before him.
She lay in the bed, still as can be, bandages covering the top of her head and sides of her face. There were bruises on her face, her eyes were swollen shut, and she was hooked up to a respirator, the machine giving her the precious gift of air, and ultimately life.
Sky’s eyes welled over, the tears running heedlessly down his cheeks as he moved toward her bed, disbelieving the sight before him. Instead of sitting in the chair next to her bed, Sky collapsed to his knees on the floor next to the bed, taking her hand in his as he stared at her. He could barely tell that it was her under all the bandages.
“Oh Syd,” he murmured, shaking his head while he held her hand. Her nails, he noticed, were cracked and broken, several of the tips missing. By that clue alone, he knew she’d fought back, had struggled for her life.
The doctor had sedated her to keep her from thrashing about when the painkillers began to wear off. “How is she?” Z’s soft voice floated to him. He turned his head only slightly, noticing the former Yellow Ranger slipping into the room, the others beyond the door, waiting anxiously.
“Look at her Z!” Sky hissed, gesturing to their fallen comrade. “It doesn’t even look like her under there!”
Z closed her eyes, hearing the pain dripping from his voice. The former Yellow Ranger knew the one secret neither Sky nor Syd had ever shared with each other, or anyone else but her – they were in love with each other and didn’t know it. It didn’t matter that both of them were seeing other people, or in Syd’s case, had been seeing another person, they still loved each other. For Z to watch Sky staring at Syd the way he was, it was almost too much.
Carefully, Z moved over to kneel with her former teammate, wrapping an arm around his waist as she leaned her head against his shoulder, letting him know there was someone with him, someone who understood what he was feeling and experiencing.
“Can we come in?” Jack asked from the door, his heart breaking at the look on Sky’s face, let alone the look on Z’s. Sky nodded and the others filed in quietly. Bridge and Jack took up positions across the bed from Sky and Z, with Kat and Boom joining them and Cruger moving over to lay his hand on Sky’s shoulder.
“Did they catch who did this to her?” Bridge asked, his head throbbing. He was doing everything he could to block out the hopelessness and pain he was feeling from the others, let alone from other people in the hospital.
“Dr. Parker said an S.P.D. unit had them in custody. Commander, I want to speak with them,” Sky hissed, rising to his feet and helping Z up.
Six sets of eyes widened in shock, one in anger. “Commander!”
“Cadet Tate, you are too emotionally involved to speak with them. I will be handling this, personally. I don’t need a lawsuit on my hands when you decide to try and kill them for what they did to Syd.”
Cruger turned and strode from the room. Kat and Boom nodded to one another. “Gang, we’re gonna go with him, make sure he doesn’t get himself into trouble. We’ll be back in a bit.” With that, the two hurried out to find the big dog.
“Weren’t you with Anna tonight?” Bridge asked Sky, having been on a date with Z, Jack and Jack’s girlfriend Allison earlier in the evening.
“Don’t even talk to me about her, I’m so mad at her I can’t see straight right now,” Sky growled.
“Why?” Jack curiously questioned. Sky usually had nothing but positive comments about his girlfriend.
“Because she told me basically it wasn’t fair to her for me to jump up from what I was doing and come see Syd. I basically told her to get out of my apartment. She had no right!” Sky yelled. “Sydney’s important to me.”
“More important than Anna?” Z quietly queried.
Sky turned in her direction and stared at her. “What are you getting at, Z?”
Stepping away from Sydney and toward Sky, Z looked up into the blue eyes of one of her best friends. “I asked you a simple question, is Sydney more important than Anna? Is the person who’s seen you through more of your best and worst moments than anyone, been beside you as you fought your personal demons, saved your ass more times than you probably care to count more important than a girl you’ve been dating for the last eight months? Correction, who you’ve been having sex with for the last eight months, because you’ve already told me you two don’t go out much, and I know you don’t love her.”
Sky looked hurt by Z’s words. “I...”
“You need to take a good long look at yourself, Sky. Your feelings of anger aren’t toward Anna, they’re toward someone else. The rest of us have seen it for years, it’s time you woke up and figured out where Syd stands in your life. Either you’ve been lying to yourself for years about how you feel about her, or you just haven’t figured it out yet.”
She felt like she was floating in a warm, love filled place. She could feel the presence of people around her, people who cared and loved her. She could feel the security and peace of mind of Commander Cruger, the hope from Kat along with the comfort. Boom blared through her subconscious, reminding her of something bright and orange. And then there were the others - Jack’s fierce protectiveness and loyalty, Bridge’s calm serenity and positive thinking, Z’s need to reassure her of her friendship and how much she missed her, and then there was Sky. What she felt from him, stood out beyond the others. She felt a mix of the same feelings she was getting from the others, but there was one that stood out that she didn’t readily get from the others.
‘SKY!’ she practically screamed, but stopped, somehow knowing it was futile. ‘What happened to me?’ she asked herself softly, when the memories came rushing back. ‘Oh God! There were so many of them, and I couldn’t stop them!’ she cried.
The voice sliced through the haze and drove straight into her heart. “Sydney, I know you can hear me. Listen to me, you’ve got to fight this, you’ve got to make it through this. You’re stronger than you think. If you run out of strength, I’ll give you mine. Please, wake up. Just let me know you’re still in there, please.”
‘Sky’ she thought as her body came up, like she was rising out of a pool of something heavy and murky. When her eyes opened, he was leaning his head on the pillow next to her. “Sky.”
He was half asleep and mumbling as he was caught in the throes of a dream turned nightmare, watching Sydney get attacked by a number of faceless, nameless attackers, and there was nothing he could do.
All night long, he’d cried silently, it was only now, when she had said his name, did Sky let loose with the body wracking sobs. “Oh my God, Sydney!”
Syd was startled by the hysterical crying her best friend was doing, so she desperately tried to move, the only part of her body responding was her hand, which she was able to move up to touch his cheek. “Sky.”
He closed his eyes and leaned into her caress, letting the tears he’d cried run over her fingertips. “Don’t do that to me, ever again.”
Z saw him standing by the window in Sydney’s room when she walked in. Quietly, she put the flowers and balloons she’d brought for Syd on the bedside table before she moved to stand beside him.
Everyday for the last four days, the former Blue Ranger had stood vigil nearly night and day in Sydney’s room. “What are you still doing here? I thought Commander Cruger ordered you to get some sleep?”
“He did. I disobeyed. Happy?”
Z shook her head at him. “Not really. Are you ok?”
Sky sighed. “Not really. I’ve been doing some thinking since you yelled at me the other day.”
The former Yellow Ranger actually had the grace to blush. She hadn’t meant to yell at him, per say. They were way past her yelling at him after all these years. No, what she’d hoped to accomplish was to open his eyes to what had been in front of him for years, more years than even she had been friends with him.
Since the start of her service at S.P.D., Z had known that Sydney harbored strong feelings for the stoic and stick-in-the-mud Blue Ranger, but it hadn’t been until much later, after the defeat of Grumm, that Z had been told about Sky’s feelings for Sydney.
The biggest astonishment was that Sydney had actually TRIED to get Sky to like her and at every turn, the Blue Ranger had been dumber than dirt where the Pink Ranger was concerned. After a while, Syd had just stopped trying, resigned that she would secretly love Sky for the rest of her life and never get the chance to be with him the way she wanted.
And now, Z saw the toll the years of secretly loving one another had done to them. If only...if only Sky had been with Syd, then maybe...but Z knew it was no good wishing. If only’s were enough to drive a person crazy. There was no changing the past.
“And what did you come up with?” Z finally asked, turning to face Syd’s bed while she rested against the window sill.
“That you were right; I’ve been mad at myself, not Anna. I should have told Syd a long time ago. Maybe if I had, she wouldn’t have been at that club the other night but home, in bed with me, instead of me being with Anna.”
Z grinned slightly. “You gonna tell her?”
Sky nodded. “I have to; I can’t keep going on like this. I need her, always have, always will. It’s more than time to tell her.”
Sighing, Z stood straight up. “I’ve got duty in about thirty minutes. Tell her I’ll be back later.”
Sky smiled at her and watched her leave before he strode over to Sydney’s bed and sat in the chair next to it, taking her hand in his.
“I love you.”
Numb. That’s what Sky felt as he looked down at the petite blonde in the bed, who should have been asleep but wasn’t. ‘She heard everything I said to Z’ he thought, swallowing hard.
“Sky, did you hear me?”
Nodding, Sky couldn’t get his mouth to form the words. He looked into her face, which was now not as heavily bandaged as it had been before, and saw the look in her eyes. She looked...afraid. That’s what snapped Sky out of his stupor. She looked afraid that he was mad at her.
“Oh Sydney,” he murmured, moving to kiss her bandaged covered forehead. “Have a nice nap?”
Syd nodded slowly, the act still causing her a bit of pain. “Yeah.”
“Z brought you balloons, and some flowers,” Sky gestured to the beside table. Syd smiled but Sky noticed it didn’t reach her eyes.
“You should get going, don’t you have a date with Anna tonight? I wouldn’t want to be the cause of any friction between you two.”
Sky’s expression was one of pain. Sydney was stunned to see his beautiful face scrunch up the way it was. “Sydney...I...”
“What? I’m not incapable of hanging out in the hospital by myself. It’s not like I’m a little girl who needs protecting anymore!” she spat at him, angry that she’d laid her heart open only to have him shove it back in her face, again.
“I’m sorry...” Sky whispered softly, bringing her hand up to his lips, kissing her knuckles softly.
“For what?” Syd angrily asked, trying to snatch her hand from his.
“For not telling you,” he told her, looking at her hand as his thumb caressed it. “For not tell you all these years how I felt about you. For letting you get hurt like this when you should have been with me, out of harms way.”
Sky swallowed hard when he saw the tears in her eyes. “Sky?”
“I love you, Sydney, have loved you for a very long time. I’m so sorry I let this happen to you,” he told her, tearing up himself.
“Oh Sky,” she whispered, reaching up to caress his cheek. “You couldn’t have stopped this from happening. No one could have foreseen this.”
“I SHOULD HAVE!” Sky yelled, knocking the chair back as he stood suddenly, and began to pace the room. “You should have been at home, with me, instead of at the stupid club! Instead, you were there, and I was home getting laid!”
Syd winced at his overly descriptive words. She felt her stomach roll at the though of Sky having sex with Anna. “Sky...”
“DAMNIT! IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU IN BED WITH ME INSTEAD OF HER!”
Sky looked startled after his outburst, almost as startled as Sydney did. The former Pink Ranger couldn’t quite wrap her mind around what he’d just said. ‘He loves me’ she thought, tears welling in her eyes and a smile blooming on her face.
Rushing forward, Sky perched on the edge of her bed, leaning toward her, her face cupped in his hands. “I love you, Sydney Drew, only you, always you.”
“I love you, Schuyler Tate, always you, only you, forever,” she gave back to him, watching him smile through his own tears.
Slowly, Sky leaned forward and kissed her, making both of their dreams come true.
“AW SYD!” Jack whined, pouting at the former Pink Ranger as she ran past him and did several back handsprings, and ended with a full layout in the grass next to Z.
“I told you I could do it, powers or not,” Syd teased. She shot a look over at Z and Bridge, who were wrapped in each other’s arms and sitting on the grass at her feet. They’d opted to watch her and Jack challenge each other to a mini gymnastics competition. She had to grin at that, so far, Jack was loosing.
Commander Cruger, Kat and Boom sat at the picnic table not far away, talking and munching on various goodies that had been set out.
And then there was Sky, sitting just past the picnic table, leaning against a tree, asleep. He had a book resting on his chest as he dozed, and it made her heart shudder.
In the two months since she’d been hurt, and since her and Sky had finally told each other they loved one another, she found herself falling even farther for the ex Blue Ranger, if that was possible.
“Come on Jack, let’s go eat,” Z suggested, noticing Syd walking away from them and toward Sky.
Kneeling next to him, Sydney reached out and took the book off Sky’s chest, making sure to mark the page. Once she sat it down, she scooted closer to him, raising her hand up to cup his cheek. He looked so much like a little boy when he slept. It still amazed her that he felt for her what she felt for him.
She relished waking up next to him in the mornings, watching him sleep while she simply stared at him. She’d been staying with him in apartment since she’d gotten out of the hospital because she couldn’t stand being by herself now that Z and Bridge were engaged and sharing a place and she no longer had her best friend with her.
They had planned to wait until she’d worked through all of her issues having to deal with the rape before they moved onto a physical relationship, but last night, waiting had gone out the window. Yesterday was the two month anniversary of them telling each other about their feelings, and one thing had led to another.
She had to smile. Sky had stuttered and froze up so many times last night in an attempt to make sure she was okay with making love to him that she had only laughed at him and kissed him to soothe his nerves.
It was by no means her first time, the rape not counting, but it had felt more magical than her first time ever could have been. It was like Sky had that special key that had unlocked the woman inside her who’d been hiding, waiting for the right man to release her.
Waking up next to him this morning had been...dreamlike, and she knew she’d always cherish the feelings she’d felt. “You like staring at me when I’m sleeping, don’t you?”
Syd was surprised that he was awake, as his eyes were still closed, but she knew he’d felt the connection between them as strongly as she had. “You’re cute when you sleep.”
“So you’re saying I’m not cute the rest of the time?”
She socked him lightly in the shoulder before he pulled her into his arms and cuddled her against his chest, arms wrapped tightly around her. “You’re cute all the time, but there’s something about when you sleep that just gets to me. Must be that little boy innocence you display that I don’t see in you when you’re awake.”
“I’m not a little boy,” he leered at her. He smiled when she snuggled against his chest, her arms trapped between them.
“In some departments, no, you aren’t a little boy,” she shot back, watching him blush. “I love you, Sky.”
Smiling, Sky leaned down and pecked a kiss to her head. “I love you too Syd.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, looking up at him.
“You were there for me when I needed you the most; you’re always there for me when I need you.”
“And I always will be,” he told her softly.