Disclaimer: As usual, I don’t own anything you recognize!
Hey guys, my last update before exams! Wish me luck, I’ll be studying super hard :( Anyway, I’m really proud of how this chapter turned out, I hope you all like how this turns out!
The biggest thanks go to Slshadowfox forbeta reading as always :)
“You awake?” Syd asked into her morpher the following morning.
Sky struggled with the sheet and sat up in bed as he recognized her voice coming from his morpher on his nightstand. As he reached for the device, he caught the blinking numbers of his digital alarm clock. 9:00am? He hadn’t slept this late in awhile. The blue ranger yawned before bringing his morpher to his lips. “I am now.”
“So come on. The day’s a-wasting,” She responded, giggling. “I thought you’d be up hours before now.”
Sky rubbed his eyes and yawned once more. “Maybe I was more tired from last night than I thought.”
“Just from a little walk?” Syd teased.
He chuckled. “I guess so.”
“Well, get up and get dressed. I was thinking we could go to the beach together. It’s supposed to be a great day. I figured we could head there first with RIC and let him run around for awhile and the others could come later on during the day. How does that sound to you?”
Sky stood on the boat taking in a breath of fresh air. The last few hours had been wonderful and he wouldn’t trade them for anything. After Syd’s late morning ‘phone’ call, Sky had quickly gotten dressed and headed out to meet her. She had been waiting for him at the SPD entrance with a picnic basket, dressed in flip flop sandals, denim shorts, and a baby pink t-shirt. A pair of pink tinted sunglasses rested on top her head. Together, they headed out to the beach. He had been nervous, but all that had been washed away as soon as Syd had greeted him with her usual wide smile and given him a kiss on the cheek. And throughout the next few hours, he had been pleasantly surprised, as well as happy to find out that their new relationship still hadn’t changed the friendship between them. She still teased him about wearing his uniform 24/7. And he still told her stories about his parents –which she found fascinating and had told him on several occasions that it was like a fairytale. They sat on top a red and white checkered blanket and had eaten the delicious meal that Syd had carefully prepared, played immature beach games, splashed each other in the water and had even attempted building a small sand castle afterwards.
And he had also been able to steal a few kisses.
Sky grinned as he reminisced. He had like that part best.
Now they were just waiting on the others to arrive.
“RIC! Down boy, stop nudging me or I’ll drop all these drinks on you and damage all your circuits! What if Bridge can’t fix you if something happens huh?”
The blue ranger felt his smile widen as he turned and watched as Syd struggled up the steps to the boat, carrying several cans of soda, RIC barking happily behind her. Reaching out, he grabbed a couple cans of soda, taking some of the load that Syd carried.
“Thanks!” She flashed him her trademark smile as she set the drinks down on the floor of the boat they had rented.
They heard a car door slam and Bridge’s voice floated out to them. “Hi guys!” A moment later, a flash of green appeared and Bridge bounded up the steps grinning, carrying two small coolers of food.
“Hey Bridge,” Syd greeted sitting on one of the lawn chairs they had brought on board.
Jack and Z then came on board, the red ranger carrying a few fishing poles and the yellow ranger holding sunscreen, towels, hats and anything else she thought they needed for their beach trip. Sky walked forward; helping Jack with the fishing poles and within no time at all the red and blue rangers were engaged in a contest to see who could catch the most fish. Bridge sat across from them, reading a novel that he had brought along, enjoying the peace sounds the waves made. Z sat next to Syd on a lawn chair, both girls watching as Sky and Jack competed. There was already a basket filled with a few flopping fish.
An hour later, Syd was standing at the railing when she felt Sky slip his arms around her and nuzzle her neck. She leaned into his embrace, feeling content as he moved to stand beside her.
“Hey there,” she greeted.
“Hi. You looked lonely up here.”
“Nope. Just enjoying the breeze. I was getting kind of hot sitting on the sun.”
“Me too. I think I might be sunburned.”
Syd laughed. “So did you win?”
“I don’t want to brag, but let’s just say that my basket had a lot more fish than his did.”
“So what’s Jack doing now?”
The pink ranger glanced behind her. Jack was leaning over the side of the boat, filling an empty soda can with seawater. When he saw Syd looking, the red ranger stood and brought a finger to his lips, begging for her silence.
Syd adverted her gaze and smiled up at Sky. “Did you have fun today?”
The blue ranger nodded and looked out to the sea. “I had a blast. I’m glad we went to the beach today.”
“I’m glad,” she paused, “I had tons of fun too.”
The weather remained glorious for the rest of the day. Lunch was informal affair- sandwiches, chips and a container of potato salad all filled their stomachs. At one point, Jack offered Sky the soda can he’d filled earlier and Sky took a drink before choking and spraying it overboard. Jack roared, Bridge and Z laughed, and Syd giggled. And after Sky had wiped his chin, he laughed as well. But he didn’t forget. Later, he grabbed a salmon from the basket and used it to flavor one of Jack’s sandwiches by running the fish over the bread.
Jack turned green as he gagged, then threw the sandwich at Sky. Sky retaliated by launching a spoonful of potato salad. Bridge joined in the food fight by shaking up a soda can and opening it to spray at his friends.
While all this was going on, the girls sat back and watched with amusement. Z leaned close to Syd, “So immature,” the yellow ranger rolled her eyes, grinning, “never forget that men are more immature then women.”
The sun was starting to set; the hot temperature was starting to cool down. Stepping off the boat and back onto the sandy beach, Syd let out a happy sigh, looking forward to going home and settling on the couch for their movie night later on in the evening. She went to help Z pack things away when she glanced around the beach. It was then she registered that something was wrong. Glancing around the beach, nothing seemed amiss. Shielding her eyes from the sun with her sunglasses, she scanned the various boats, then the water’s edge, then the people on the shore.
It was there. Something was there.
And whatever it was, it didn’t fit.
Frowning, Syd turned her head and casually glanced around the beach once more. Then she realized what had snagged her attention. And she was right. It didn’t fit, not on a hot day at the beach. Puzzled, she glanced around once more.
Someone wearing jeans and a brown shirt was standing near the dunes, holding… what was that? Binoculars? A telescope? She couldn’t tell, but whatever it was, it was definitely focused on the boat.
Syd suddenly felt her heart rate speed up as the man lowered whatever he was holding, and for an instant she almost convinced herself that she was mistaken. But then, as if knowing exactly what she was thinking, the person waved, his arm moving back and forth slowly. I’m here,’ he seemed to be saying.
She felt the blood drain from her face and the little hairs on her arms rose, and she inhaled sharply.
But when she blinked, Jake was gone. Taking off her sunglasses, she turned fully around and scanned the area with her eyes. Nothing. No sign of him anywhere. It was as if she had been seeing things.
Sky noticed her discomfort and reached her side in a moment. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
Syd was still staring toward the beach. Sky’s eyes followed hers, and after finding no sign of Jake, no sign of anything unusual, Syd curled beneath his arm, feeling safe and comforted. “It’s nothing. I think the sun is getting to me,” she said.
‘It had to have been the sun,’ she thought, ‘it couldn’t have been real. No one can move that fast.’
Later, they had decided to head to the grocery store to get snacks for their movie night that evening. Jack, Syd and Sky headed toward New Tech City Supermarket, bickering over which things to buy. Sky opt to buy veggies and crackers, while Jack wanted chips, candy and other various goodies. After fifteen minutes, Syd had enough of their arguing and promptly told both men to shut up and that they would buy what each wanted. She added two bags of baby carrots and two bags of Doritos Chips to their shopping cart and that was the end of the argument.
Pushing the cart down the aisle, Syd bent over to search for the kind of dressing she knew Sky liked eating with his carrots, when she realized to late that her cart had crashed into another.
“Oh my goodness! I’m sorry!” Syd automatically apologized as she reached out for her cart. She looked up to see the person that she had crashed into and froze.
“Hello Sydney,” Jake said casually, “how are you?”
Her face paled as she stared at the man in shock. She blinked and gathered her courage. ‘Don’t let him get to you,’ she thought. Mustering a small, but uncomfortable smile, she tried to remain calm. “Hi Jake, I’m alright. How are you?”
There was a silence.
“I’m sorry for bumping into you,” the pink ranger finally offered. She glanced around quickly looking for any sign of Sky or Jack, and swallowed. She and Jake were alone in the aisle. She didn’t have a good feeling about this.
Jake held up his hands. “No damage.”
There was another pause.
“Hey Syd! I forgot what kind of candy you wanted,” Sky appeared down the aisle, carrying a package of candy in each hand, “Did you want the gummy bears or the sour peaches?” The blue ranger stopped once he saw who was standing with his girlfriend. His face took on an unreadable expression. “Jake,” he stated coolly. Turning, he faced Syd and observed her expression carefully. She was tense, clearly she was uncomfortable but there was relief shown in her eyes at his presence. Sky clenched his fist, the candy still in his hand, as he faced Jake once more, resisting the strong urge to rearrange the man’s face.
A dark expression also appeared over Jake’s face as well once he saw Sky. The businessman nodded, a neutral expression covering his face. “It was nice seeing you again Sydney.” And then he was gone.
Syd let out a sigh of relief and walked over to Sky. He dropped the packages of candy into the cart and his arms folded around her as she buried her face into his chest, breathing in his scent. “Only you Sky,” she mumbled, “There’s only you.”
Understanding what she meant, Sky smiled, rubbing her arm in an attempt to comfort her. He kissed the top of her head. “I know.”
Later that night as Syd changed into her pajamas, the phone on her nightstand rang. Two rings went by before she picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
There was no answer.
“Hello?” she tried again. There was no reply on the other end, though it seemed the line was still open. Shrugging, she hung up. Maybe it had been a wrong number. Gathering up all the things she needed for their movie night (pillows, blankets, her stuffed animal Peanuts etc.), she was about to leave her room when the phone rang again.
Once more, there was silence on the other end. Only this time, before she lowered the phone, she thought she heard a faint click as the caller hung up. Placing the receiver back, she picked up her things and left for the recreation room, ready for the movie.
Less than a minute after she left, the phone rang.
The next morning Syd and Sky were taking a walk around the downtown area of New Tech City, patrolling for any signs of disturbance. Gruumm had been especially quiet lately and the rangers were all on guard. All around them, people were strolling around, enjoying the nice weather.
Both rangers turned as someone called out the pink ranger’s name. A man stood off to the side, dressed in business clothes and carrying a briefcase in one hand, watching them curiously with a smile on his face.
Syd shrieked and her face lit up as she ran over to the man, her arms opened wide. “Daddy!”
“Hi Princess,” the man opened his arms and gathered his daughter into them. “Do you want to grab some lunch or are you too busy working?”
Syd released her father and looked at Sky. The blue ranger shrugged and glanced at his watch. “Our shift is officially over in two minutes.”
Syd grinned. “Yes daddy, I’d love to have lunch!”
Adrian Drew looked at the young man that his daughter was with. Recognizing him as Sydney’s dance partner from the newspaper all those weeks ago, Adrian smiled warmly at Sky. “Would you like to join us for lunch too?”
Sky held up his hands as if to protest. Syd quickly grabbed one of his hands and intertwined it with hers. “He’d love too!”
Adrian smiled, missing the glare that Sky gave Syd. “Excellent! Come on, I know a great place to eat at.”
He was impressed.
In the short amount of time that he’d known Sky Tate, the boy had managed to impress him beyond words.
Adrian Drew had always been protective of his daughter, even if he always didn’t show it. Sydney was his entire world and he loved her with his whole heart. In the past, he had done everything he could think of to make his daughter happy. Whatever she wanted, she would get. That pink dress? Got it. To stay up past bed time an hour later than usual? Okay. Demanding a hug every ten minutes? Most definitely. Whatever she wanted, she would get.
Like most fathers, he would shoot death glares at any male individuals that came near Sydney with bad intentions. In fact, there were more times than he could count; Sydney would be upset with him for scaring away her current love interest. Adrian would just shrug his shoulders and comment that if the boy was frightened of her father, he wasn’t good enough for her anyway.
But he was impressed with his daughter’s latest boyfriend. Sky had a good head on his shoulders; Adrian observed as he watched how Sky and Sydney interacted. He could certainly see why his daughter was taken with him. Sky was intelligent, quiet, and was also very sure of himself. From watching the rangers’ battles on television, Adrian also knew that Sky was strong and was capable of protecting his daughter in times of danger (not that Sydney needed protection of course, but it was reassuring to know that someone would be looking out for his daughter at all times). And the best part: he wouldn’t have to worry about Sydney being taken advantaged of.
The businessman grinned as he saw Sky offer a napkin to Sydney as she spilled some juice. His daughter was happy and that was all that mattered. He approved of Sky.
Besides, their relationship was still new, there would be plenty of time to scare the boy later.
“Hey, where’ve you been?” Curious eyes followed the pink ranger the moment she entered the bedroom.
Syd grinned at her roommate as she flopped onto her bed. “Out to lunch with Sky and my daddy.”
The yellow ranger raised an eyebrow. “Wow, the boyfriend meeting the parents already. That must’ve been interesting.”
The pink ranger shrugged. “It was completely unexpected. We ran into my father just as our shift was ending. He invited the both of us to lunch, Sky was about to back out but I made him go.”
Sympathy washed over Z. “Poor Sky,” she commented, “It must’ve been nerve wrecking for him. You guys just started dating!”
The pink ranger giggled. “I know, but the sooner the better right? Besides, daddy approves, I can tell.”
The yellow ranger rolled her eyes. “Sure.”
There was a moment of silence between the girls before the phone on Syd’s night table rang.
“You should probably pick that up,” Z commented, “Your phone has been ringing practically all morning. Every time I picked up, the caller would hang up.”
Syd reached for the phone, letting it ring once more, she picked up. “Hello?”
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
Still, no answer.
Syd felt her heart beat faster as she set the receiver down. And a moment later the phone rang again. Z frowned as she saw the frightened look on Syd’s face. The yellow ranger stood up from her bed and crossed over to Syd’s side of the room. Snatching the receiver off the hook, she barked, “Look, whoever this is, stop calling!”
A shiver went down Z’s spine as she heard the caller hung up. Hanging up, the yellow ranger met the pink ranger’s gaze. Her eyes reflected exactly what Syd was feeling.
Jake slowed his breathing, concentrating on Sydney’s image. In his darkened room, he leaned against a chair and thought of Sydney while he waited for the photo to finish developing. She had been nice enough to him at the supermarket, but he knew she regretted running into him. He shook his head, wondering why she had tried to hide it. Even though she was confused right now, he knew she was different from other people. She was one of a kind, better, like he was.
She was strong, unlike his mother.
Jake snorted. Sydney was nothing like his mother. His mother was weak, unable to cope with being alone. Shortly after his father’s death, his mother had begun heavily drinking. One night he had awoken to her grabbing his shoulders and shaking him.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” his mother had all but screamed, “you somehow killed him didn’t you?”
Many nights after that, his mother would beat him with a belt. Jake would cower under his bed and hide. Then one day, when he came home from school, he found his mother sleeping peacefully in the recliner chair. She never woke up.
Later, the police found out that there was an over dosage of sleeping pills dissolved into her vodka. For all intents and purposes, it looked like Jake’s mother had followed his father’s example and committed suicide. Jake was sent to live in a foster home the following week.
The first couple that had taken him in was nice enough, but for the most part, he ignored them. He came and went as he pleased, wanting nothing more than a place to sleep and food to eat. The couple had two boys. It was these two boys who stole his camera two months after he’d moved in, selling it at a pawnshop in order to get money.
When Jake found them, they were hanging out in a vacant parking lot next door. On the ground was a baseball bat, and he reached for it. They laughed at first, since they were both taller and heavier. In the end, they were rushed to the hospital in a pair of ambulances, their faces smashed beyond recognition. Jake had been sent to the juvenile detention center the very next day. There, he sat on a wooden chair as an officer named Ivan McFadden questioned him. Officer McFadden told Jake how badly had injured the two boys and that he was going to spend the next few years in jail. But Jake hadn’t been afraid, just as he hadn’t been afraid when the police had come to question him about the deaths of his mother and father. He had known this was coming. He looked down and began to cry.
“I didn’t want to do it,” he said quietly. “But they took my camera and I told them to give it back. They said they wanted to kill me and I was scared. One of them attacked me with a knife!”
With that, Jake opened his jacket and Officer McFadden saw the blood soaked shirt. Jake had been taken to the hospital; he’d been slashed across his stomach. The only reason it hadn’t been more serious, Jake claimed, was that he had been able to escape at the last minute. McFadden had found the knife on the roof top of the house, exactly where Jake said he’d seen one of the boys throw it.
The two boys, not Jake, had been sent to jail, despite their pleas that neither of them had ever touched the knife, let alone slashed Jake with it. But in the end no one believed the two boys; they did have criminal records after all.
and leaned further into his chair. He knew from experience that all hurdles
could be overcome.
Was that too much to ask?
Note: I’ll see you all in about two weeks, give or take. Wish me luck on my exams!