Hey everyone! I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to update sooner! Meant to get this chapter out sooner, but got caught up with school and my job (don’t you hate when that happens?). Thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter –your responses totally made me smile!
Special thanks to: Slshadowfox –I’m so pleased that you’re my beta! Thanks a TON for volunteering to help me out!
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything you recognize!
Okay, so maybe he chickened out.
He had been ready though. He had envisioned sweeping her off her feet and her excitedly saying that she would go out with him. He had planned to led her away from everyone else, away from the crowd and casually ask if she wanted to catch a movie and go for dinner the next day.
But the moment Syd and Z returned from the bathroom, Sky’s determination failed him and his courage flew out the window. All of the pep talks that Bridge and Jack had given him were forgotten once he looked at the pink ranger. He let out a quiet sigh. How in the world am I ever going to ask her out?
The girls sat down and Jack looked pointedly at the blue ranger.
“So Sky,” the red ranger pressed, not one to beat around the bush. “Isn’t there something that you’re supposed to ask a certain someone?”
Z and Bridge gave him gleeful looks while Syd looked at him questioningly, curiosity shining in her blue eyes.
“Uh no,” Sky muttered, shooting Jack another glare.
“Really?” Jack went on; ignoring the look Sky gave him. All night long, Sky had been glaring at him and the others nonstop. That look didn’t faze him in the slightest anymore. “That’s funny, I could’ve sworn I heard you say that you were going to ask a certain someone a certain question tonight.”
Bridge hid a smile behind a gloved hand, while Z didn’t even bother disguising the fact that she was laughing at him. “It must’ve been your imagination,” Sky muttered under his breath.
There was a silence.
“You guys are weird,” Syd announced, not having the slightest clue what was going on. There was no mistaking how tense Sky was though. To take the attention off him, Syd quickly changed the subject. “So what did you guys think of Jake?”
Their responses were quick and straight to the point.
The pink ranger blinked and rolled her eyes at Z’s comment. “He’s not that hot,” she said and then turned to Sky. “What about you?”
Sky shrugged. “You want my honest opinion?”
“Of course I do!”
“I don’t like him.”
She nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Sky stared. “What?”
“Well, remember when we went to that Broadway and we ran into him?”
“Yeah, what about it?”
“You said you got the same feeling about him that I did. Something about him was off.”
“Yeah, so that’s why I wasn’t surprised when you said you didn’t like him,” Syd explained.
“I didn’t sense anything off about him,” Z rested her chin in the palm of her hand, thinking thoughtfully; “he was just really shy.”
The pink ranger shrugged. “Oh well.”
The conversation and the subject of Jake was long was forgotten and for the next hour, the five rangers sat around the table and talked. Sky had remarkably loosened up and all traces of the brooding, grumpy, sulky Sky was gone. Bridge, Jack and Z sat back and watched the transformation that had taken place.
Jack leaned over and bumped Z with his arm, catching her attention. The yellow ranger turned to face her longtime friend.
“It’s funny how he’s all Mr. Nice Guy once Mr. Rich Man is out of the picture huh?”
Z nodded. “A totally obvious sign that he’s hung up on her.”
“It’s kind of amusing to know that if you put him in front of a monster, he’s all brave, serious, and in control, but when you put him next to a girl he likes, all he can do is glare at his competition.”
Jack laughed, “I have to agree with you on that one.”
The yellow ranger leaned back in her seat, watching as Syd told some story to Bridge and Sky. Z noted with an amused smile, at how intently Sky was listening to the pink ranger’s tale. “It’s never dull around here.”
Some time passed and finally, Syd yawned. “Hey guys, mind if we go home now? I’m so tired!”
Jack exchanged a meaningful glance with Z and Bridge. The green ranger nodded his head slightly, letting the red ranger know that he agreed with whatever Jack was planning. Jack leaned back in his seat and threw his hands behind his head, his elbows sticking up in the air. “Do we have to leave so soon?”
The pink ranger pouted. “I’m tired though.”
Jack let out an exasperated sigh and discreetly gave Z a wink. “Anyone else tired? You can leave with Syd if you are.”
The yellow ranger quickly caught on and smiled. She shook her head. “Nope, not tired.” Z turned to the green ranger. “How about you Bridge?”
Bridge grinned. “I’m not tired either.”
There was a brief silence before Jack kicked Sky in the leg under the table.
“OW!” The blue ranger glared at his leader.
The red ranger ignored Sky’s yelp of pain and was unfazed by his murderous looks. “What about you Sky? Are you feeling tired?”
actually-“ Sky started to say before he let out
another yelp of pain as Jack kicked him once more. Shooting another annoyed
glare at the red ranger, he turned to Syd, who was looking at him expectantly.
“I’m pretty tired too. Come on
The pink ranger grinned and kissed his cheek. “Thanks Sky!”
He blushed before following Syd out the door.
Watching their teammates go, the three remaining rangers grinned at one another. Shifting, a sudden thought just occurred to Bridge. “Uh guys?”
Both Z and Jack regarded him with questioning looks.
“We all came here together in one car and Sky just took our car. How in the world are we getting home?”
In the car, Syd sighed happily. This was where she had wanted to be tonight. With her friends. With Sky. Laughing, joking, and having a good time.
“Did you have fun tonight?”
The pink ranger turned in her seat and observed the blue ranger’s profile. He was so handsome! “I had a blast once I met up with you guys.”
“You didn’t have fun on your date?”
Syd rolled her eyes. “He overdid it with the compliments.”
Sky laughed, still focused on the road. “I thought girls liked to hear that they’re pretty.”
“We do, it just gets annoying when you hear it thirty times in a row.”
The blue ranger gave another chuckle.
There was a comfortable silence as Sky continued driving. Suddenly there was a loud buzzing sound in the air, causing both rangers to jump slightly in their seat.
“What was that?” Syd asked, startled.
Sky shifted and lifted his right elbow a bit, both his hands still on the steering wheel. “Can you get that? It’s my cell phone.”
Syd reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a vibrating device. Flipping it open, she answered, “Hello, Sky Tate’s phone!” cheerfully.
“Hello,” a female voice responded, her voice sounding pleasantly surprised. “Whom am I speaking with?”
Feeling a little puzzled, she exchanged a glance with Sky. The blue ranger shrugged as she responded, “This is Sydney Drew. I’m Sky’s friend.”
The pink ranger’s eyes lit up. “Hi, Mrs. Collins! I’m great, how are you?”
“Call me Jen honey, and I’m doing wonderfully. Is Sky around?”
Syd glanced at Sky and then noticed that they had arrived back at the Academy. “Yes, he’s sitting right next to me, we were driving and we’re just pulling into the parking lot right now. Hang on just a sec Mrs. Collins!”
“I’m glad you two are driving responsibly. Never drive while talking on a cell phone. And remember to call me Jen dear!”
Syd grinned and passed the cell phone to Sky. The blue ranger held the phone up to his ear as he got out of the car. “Hi mom.”
“Hi honey. I was just calling to ask if you wanted to have lunch with your father and me tomorrow afternoon.”
“Yes, your aunt and uncle are coming as well.”
“Uncle Eric and Aunt Taylor are coming too?”
“They just arrived from Silver Hills an hour ago.”
Sky grinned. “Lunch sounds great mom.”
“Perfect. Meet us at noon at ‘La Casa Encantada’.”
“I’ll be there.”
“Oh and Sky? Bring
“Okay,” the blue ranger chuckled, “I’ll ask them if they’re interested in coming.”
“Wonderful. See you tomorrow son. Love you.”
“Love you too mom.”
Sky hung up and together he and Sydney walked through the SPD Academy Entrance. “Are you interested in having lunch with my family tomorrow?”
The pink ranger’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Yes! I adore your parents Sky! Can I really come?”
He laughed. “Well, they did invite you.”
“Then I’m there!”
The wind was knocked out of him as Sky landed on his back for the third time that day. Syd’s face appeared above him as she bent over, her hands placed on her knees.
“You must be getting really rusty Sky,” the pink ranger commented, grinning. “I’ve been able to kick your butt three times today. What happened to the best fighter on our team huh?”
He caught his breath and Syd extended her arm. The blue ranger grabbed her hand and pulled himself into a sitting position. “Yeah well,” he shrugged, “I’ve been preoccupied lately.”
he was. He had shown up on the training field bright and early that morning, as
usual, when he learned that
Across the matt, Jack snorted when he heard Sky’s response. “Yeah,” the red ranger muttered, “he’s preoccupied with jealousy and spends half the time glaring at his friends.”
Z, who was standing next to him, rolled her eyes, while suppressing a smirk. She elbowed the red ranger in the ribs as Syd shot a curious glance at them. Jack and Z straightened and merely grinned at her with knowing glances.
The pink ranger shrugged and resumed training. The sooner they were done, the sooner she could grab a shower. She hated sweating. She blew a strand of hair out of her face, this time she would have to spar against Sky and Bridge. Rounding on Sky, the petite girl was able to tackle the blue ranger to the ground once more, before flipping backwards and tackling Bridge as well. Standing up, Syd placed her hands on her hips. “Really, what’s gotten into you guys today? I’m not a bad fighter, but usually when you two team up against me, I barely make it out of there in one piece.”
Bridge groaned, shooting a glare at the red ranger. “Can’t blame me, I’m tired. It was a long way home last night you know.”
The pink ranger frowned. “Why’s that?”
“Jack had the brilliant idea that we walk home.”
“And the three of you walked home because…?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Bridge quickly replied, “I’ll be fine. I’ll just catch a quick nap before lunch or something.”
shrugged, quickly letting the subject drop. The rangers trained for another
hour, Sky managed to regain some control and was doing much better. At least he
had been able to keep
Their training was interrupted as a man walked out onto the field. All five rangers stopped their sparring and three of them watched with interest as the man made his way towards their pink ranger. Syd’s eyes widened. “Jake? What are you doing here?”
“Can’t a guy visit for any reason?”
Sky’s face had taken on a dark expression as soon as he saw Jake. Sky glared at the man. What the hell is he doing here?
Bridge stood up from his place on the matt and walked over to where Sky was standing. The green ranger observed his friend’s expression. Boy, if looks could kill, Jake would’ve been six feet under in an instant. Bridge placed a hand on his roommate’s arm. He didn’t need to take off his gloves to see that Sky was not happy. His roommate was projecting his emotions like a satellite. “Calm down Sky.”
“Must be nice, being a business man and all,” the blue ranger muttered under his breath. He was so caught up in his jealousy that he appeared not to have heard Bridge’s comment. “Doesn’t he ever have to work?”
“Guess he makes his own hours,” Jack answered, as he and Z made their way over to where Sky and Bridge were standing. All four rangers watched the interaction between Syd and Jake.
“Um… it’s nice to see you again…” Syd said, giving Jake a small smile.
“Actually, I just stopped by to say hi and give you something,” Jake pulled a small rectangular shaped box out of his pocket.
The pink ranger had a wary look in her eyes as she glanced at the object in his hand and made no move to accept the gift. “What’s the occasion?”
The business man shrugged. “No occasion. I just saw this and it reminded me of you, is all.”
“You shouldn’t have.”
Jake shrugged once more and extended his arm.
Still, the pink ranger made no move to take the box.
“What’s wrong?” Jake frowned.
“I can’t accept this Jake.”
“Why not?” The man looked puzzled and slightly hurt.
“Because I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
expression disappeared at
Jake was still frowning. “Why?”
The pink ranger gave an apologetic smile. “I just don’t think we’re right for each other. I’m sorry if I had your hopes up.”
Jake absently scratched the side of his cheek, continuing to hold the box in his hand. “So that’s it then? For us, I mean?”
Syd’s expression answered for her.
“Did I do something wrong?” he asked.
“No,” she protested, “it’s not that. I just don’t think we’re right for each other. You’ll find someone else though. Someone that will be perfect for you.”
There was an awkward silence as Jake looked thoughtful at Syd’s answer. Finally, he gave a small smile. “I understand,” he offered his hand, “friends?”
Relieved, Syd smiled and took his hand. “Sure.”
“Okay, well I should go,” Jake straightened his jacket and once more offered the box to the pink ranger. “Take it, it was meant for you anyway.”
Looking unsure, Syd hesitated before reaching out to accept the gift. “Thank you.”
With a small wave, Jake turned and walked off the field.
“It’s gorgeous,” Z remarked as she held up the locket to inspect it further.
Syd shrugged. “You can have it if you want.”
Later in their room, while they were getting ready to head for lunch, Syd had opened the gift that Jake had given her. Inside, nestled in some cotton, was a small heart shaped locket with the letters ‘S.D’ engraved on it. If you opened the locket, you could see tiny diamond studs decorating the edges.
The yellow ranger gave her roommate a look. “Are you kidding? It has your initials on it. What am I supposed to tell people what the letters stand for if I wear it? ‘Stupid Dork’?”
The pink ranger grinned. “You could,” she teased.
Z stuck out her tongue at her roommate.
Syd shrugged. “What am I supposed to do with it? It’s not like I’m going to wear it anyway.”
“You could sell it,” Z suggested as she examined the piece of jewelry. “This looked like it cost Jake a small fortune.”
“Who would want a locket with the initials ‘S.D’ on them?”
The yellow ranger shrugged. “What are you going to do with it then?”
Syd stood up from the bed and reached for the locket. Crossing the room, she opened her dresser drawer and carelessly threw the locket in. “There,” she said, shutting the drawer.
Her roommate raised an eyebrow. “Wow, you’re nice. Poor guy, he was so hung up on you too. That was obviously expensive jewelry Syd.”
Z rolled her eyes. “That was beside the point.”
Syd flopped into the chair in front of her mirror. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” she replied as she began to braid her hair into two pigtails, “I’m not interested in Jake. Never had been.”
Z shrugged. “Your call.” The yellow ranger stood up and stretched before something caught her attention. “Come on let’s –Hey! What’s that?”
Syd turned, “What?”
ranger pointed to an object on Syd’s nightstand.
“What is it Syd?”
The blonde looked up. “Earrings.”
“Remember the necklace I got for my birthday?” Syd asked.
“The one that just mysteriously appeared on your bed?”
“Yeah,” the pink ranger nodded, “these earrings match with the necklace.”
Syd fell silent, looking at the earrings in wonder. “I received a bracelet too.”
“Wow,” Z paused. “Why don’t you ever wear them? You wear the necklace all the time.”
The pink ranger shrugged. “I don’t want my secret admirer to get the wrong idea.” Syd turned away, avoiding Z’s questioning gaze and placed the earrings on her dresser. ‘Besides, my heart already belongs to Sky.’
Wes and Jen were already seated at the table when the rangers arrived at the restaurant.
Both former rangers looked up and smiled when they saw their son standing at the entrance. Wes stood up and motioned with his arm for all of them to head towards their table. Jen reached up and hugged her son. “Hi honey.”
Sky kissed his mother’s cheek. “Hi mom,” he greeted before moving to greet his father. “Hey dad.”
“Hey son,” Wes grinned, his expression turned into the one he often had when he was about to tease someone. “Gee Sky, I’m beginning to wonder if you ever change your clothes. It seems like every time I see you, you’re wearing that hideous uniform.”
Before Sky could retort, a new voice answered for him. “It’s better looking than your ridiculous Silver Guardian uniform, Wes.”
“Well you wear the same thing,” Wes shot back, grinning.
“I know,” came the reply, “and I think it looks ridiculous.”
Everyone turned and spotted a slim blonde woman and an Asian man with a smirk on his face, standing behind them.
The blue ranger’s face lit up. “Uncle Eric! Aunt Taylor!”
“Hey kid,” Eric grinned, looking up at the blue ranger. “Shit, you’ve gotten taller. You’re like a freaking tree.”
“OW!” He shot his wife a murderous look. “What the hell was that for?”
The Quantum Ranger shot another glare at his wife and rolled his eyes. “You’re so difficult to deal with sometimes!” he snapped, “The kid is twenty years old for crying out loud! I’m sure he’s heard a couple of swear words in his lifetime.”
Sky laughed, while the others just exchanged amused glances.
“Hey,” Wes spoke up, “Why don’t we all site down? I’m starving, and Sky still has to introduce his friends!”
Taylor immediately stopped arguing and everyone sat down. Sky quickly
introduced his teammates and both Jen and Wes smiled warmly when he introduced
Eric rolled his eyes.
Everyone laughed and joke all through lunch. Jen, Taylor, Wes and Eric entertained the rangers with stories of their own adventures during their ranger days and the rangers in return told their own tales. Halfway through her meal, Syd felt the little hairs on the back of her neck raise and she tensed. The pink ranger paused and looked up around the room.
Next to her, Bridge noticed her discomfort. The green ranger lowered his fork. “What’s wrong Syd?” he asked in a low voice.
“I don’t know,” Syd consciously reached up and rubbed the back of her neck. “It’s this weird feeling I have. It feels like… it feels like... “ Syd paused, trying to find the right words to describe her discomfort. “It feels like someone’s watching me,” she finally uttered, still looking uneasy.
Bridge looked up and observed the restaurant. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. “Maybe you’re imagining things,” he suggested.
“Maybe,” Syd agreed, though she was convinced it wasn’t her imagination. Shrugging, Syd shook her head and tried to get back into the lively conversation around her.
The feeling stayed with her until they left the restaurant.
That evening, Syd sat in front of her mirror, quietly humming to herself, while brushing her hair. Carefully and skillfully, the pink ranger pulled her hair into a firm French braid. Once finished, she searched her dresser for an elastic band. After a few seconds of searching and finding nothing, she decided to check her purse. With one hand holding onto the end of her hair, she stood up and moved over to her bed, reaching for her purse and dumping out the contents on her blanket.
Many things fell out, her mini hairbrush, various items of makeup, her lip gloss, keys, a few photos, her wallet, a few elastic bands, and a small pink box.
The small pink box caught her attention. Quickly grabbing a rubber band and tying her hair in place, she held up the box to her face for a closer inspection. Curiosity overcame her and she quickly threw the small mess on her bed back into her purse before opening the box. Gently pulling apart the white ribbon, Syd’s eyes widened in shock once she lifted the lid.
It was a star shaped locket, no bigger than the size of her palm. Taking the delicate object out of the box and inspecting it, the pink ranger immediately fell in love with it. ‘It’s beautiful.’
Carefully, she pried open the locket, wanting to see what the inside looked like- and received a pleasant surprise. A soft sweet melody filled her ears and she gazed at the object with wonder.
It wasn’t a locket; it was a miniature star shaped music box.
‘Who in the world could’ve gotten me something so beautiful?’
She quickly checked the box to see if there was a note.
Syd placed the music box on her bed and opened the card.
When you love someone, all your saved-up wishes start coming out. I wish that the stars would forever shine in your eyes. Never stop smiling, because I love to see you smile.
“What are you reading?”
Syd jumped, startled at Z’s sudden appearance. “You scared me!”
The yellow ranger shrugged. “Sorry. What were you reading?”
“Look at this,” Syd held out the music box.
The yellow ranger’s eyes widened. “It’s beautiful. Where’d you get it?”
“It just showed up in my purse!”
Z shook her head. “Another present from your secret admirer? Three gifts in one day, that’s gotta be some sort of record. Boy Syd, you’ve really got guys falling at your feet huh?” She laughed, “First your secret admirer, then Jake, and now you’ve got Sky too.”
The last statement caught Syd’s attention. “WHAT?”
Realizing her little slip up, Z quickly searched her mind for something to say. “Uh… uh… oh gee, look at the time! Bridge said he’d make me some toast, it’s supposed to be all buttery and stuff. Gotta go, bye!” The yellow ranger turned and ran out of the room.
But the doors had already slid shut, leaving Syd alone in the room to ponder her thoughts.
‘What did Z mean by that?’
rented Victorian house, Jake Hemmington made his way
up the stairs to the corner room. He’d painted the walls black and covered the
windows with duct tape and a light-blocking tarp; a red light dangled over a
small table along the far wall. His photography equipment was on the table:
four different cameras, about half a dozen lenses, and boxes of film. He turned
on the lamp and turned it a bit so that the lighting was dimmer. Near the
shallow containers of chemicals he used to develop the film was a single
photograph that he had taken of
Carefully, he inspected the photograph. ‘She looked happy last night’, he thought, ‘as if she’d known her life had suddenly changed for the better’. And she was very lovely too. Studying her expression, he couldn’t find anything to explain what had happened earlier that day. What happened to cause her to not want to see him anymore?
He shook his head. No, he wouldn’t hold her mistake against her. She was confused. Anyone who cared as much as she did was a treasure, and he was lucky enough to have found her.
He knew quite
a bit about Sydney Drew now. She was an only child; her mother had been unable
to have anymore children after
She was such an amazing individual, with amazing talents.
were very different. While
In the beginning, his father seemed amused at his interest and at times even glanced through a few photos. Then the comments started. “Oh look, a bird,” he’d say, and “Oh, another bird.” Eventually he began to resent the money being spent on his son’s hobby. You’re just throwing it all away aren’t you?” he’d snarl, but instead of suggesting that Jake do some chores around the neighborhood to pay for developing the photos himself, his father decided to teach him a lesson.
He’d been drinking again that night, and both Jake and his mother tried to stay out of his way. Something happened, Jake wasn’t sure what, but a moment later his father came into the kitchen with his beloved camera, setting it on the kitchen table. In his other hand was a hammer. After making sure he had his son’s attention, he smashed the camera into tiny pieces.
Later that year, his father died. His memories of that day were vivid: the disbelieving look on his mother’s face, the dripping of the faucet, the officers’ hushed tones. And his mother’s hysterical screaming once they were alone. “What are we going to do without him?” she sobbed, shaking him by the shoulders. “How could this have happened?”
Here was how: his father had been drinking at a bar, near downtown. According to the witnesses, he played one game of pool and lost, then sat at the bar drinking the night away. He’d been fired from his job three months before and had begun spending his nights at the bar, looking for pity in the company of alcoholics.
He left the bar a little past eleven, driving home after stopping at the 24-hour market for some cigarettes. A neighbor, who was walking his dog, saw him as he was nearing home. The garage had been left open, and his father pulled the car into the small space.
This was where the speculation began. He had closed the garage door, and there was no doubt, that the room was filled with high levels of carbon monoxide. For all intents and purposes, it looked like Jake’s father had committed suicide. People who knew Jake’s father disagreed with the evidence. ‘He’s a fighter,’ they had said, ‘he wouldn’t have killed himself.’
In the end, it was ruled as an accident, and the death was attributed to alcohol.
Many people came to the funeral. His mother cried bitterly into her handkerchief, while Jake stood beside her. People came and went, offering their condolences. He played the part well, keeping his eyes downcast at all times, once in a while even bringing a finger to his eye, pretending to wipe away tears.
The next day, however, when he was alone, Jake returned to the cemetery and stood in front of his father’s grave.
And spat bitterly on it.
darkroom, Jake tacked
He stared at her image, noting the loveliness of her face. How could he not forgive her?
Next update won’t take as long, I promise!