Commander "Doggie" Cruger was not happy. He specifically requested that he be informed of any change in the status of Cadets Tate or Carson. Kat was busy monitoring Sky, so he could forgive an oversight on her part; Sky's recovery was of paramount importance – vital to the defense of Earth. But someone should have had the sense to let him know that Cadet Carson was no longer housed in the infirmary. Instead, here he was, striding down the dormitory corridor searching out the Green Ranger for himself. Had it occurred to no one that the circumstances leading up to the events of the previous night centered around Bridge's inability to protect himself in his sleep? It seemed to Cruger that the medical personnel were so focused on Sky that they were missing the bigger picture – this whole thing started with Bridge, and he had been left to deal with his problem alone. Again.
Cruger hardly paused at the door to Bridge's room. As the commander of SPD, Cruger's voice could and would activate any lock in the base. "Open." He commanded as he strode forward. He was surprised at the sight that met him when he walked into the room.
Cadets Drew and Delgado were barely distinguishable lumps wrapped up in their respectively colored blankets. Cadet Carson was soundly asleep, flopped over onto his stomach, with his right arm hanging limply over the edge of his bed. Cadet Landers sat up from the pallet on the floor upon Cruger's entrance; he didn't appear to have been sleeping. Cruger recovered from his shock immediately and in a voice pitched low enough not to wake the others said "Cadet Larson…report."
Jack answered just as quietly. "Bridge came to the girl's quarters last night; he didn't want to be alone after everything that had happened. Syd insisted he come back here to sleep, and we all stayed, Sir."
"Anything unusual to report?"
Jack shrugged and looked over his shoulder toward the bed. "Nothing, sir. Unless you count the disturbingly baritone snore Sydney has…I was a little surprised by that."
A giggle from the bed indicated not all were sleeping as soundly as they appeared. Then a foot from under the pink comforter kicked the laughing form under the yellow blanket. Without making an appearance Sydney defended herself. "I do not snore, Jack."
"At least now I'm not the only one who's heard it." replied Z. "Now I've got witnesses."
Z chuckled as she tried to avoid another kick from Syd. Bridge was affected by the movement and talking not at all.
"As you were, cadets." ordered Cruger. Z and Syd did subside, but Jack thought he could detect a slightly indulgent tone in the commander's voice.
"Any word on Sky, Commander?" asked Jack. Z's head popped out of the blanket at that, and Syd sat up.
"I just left the infirmary. Kat says he's recovering well. She thinks he'll be waking up on his own some time this afternoon."
"That's great news, sir." Z had a happy grin on her face; she shared a relieved look with Syd.
"Yes it is." Cruger agreed. He changed from conversational to Commander in an instant. "Once Cadet Carson awakens send him to Kat and the rest of you will report to me. I understand how upsetting the events of the past few days have been, but you are still Rangers, and there is work to be done."
"Yes, sir." the Rangers responded in unison.
Cruger turned on his heel and purposely strode out. The three awake Rangers looked at each other. Z moved off the bed and plopped herself on the floor next to Jack. "You been awake all night?"
Jack shrugged. "Not the first time." Z nodded. She and Jack understood the need to keep watch; she just never thought they'd have to do it here, safe inside SPD.
"So what's next?" Z asked after a moment.
"Back on duty, like Cruger said." answered Jack. "Everything back to normal."
"But thing's aren't normal." tossed out Syd from the bed. "I think they've really changed."
Jack looked over his shoulder so he could make eye-contact with Syd. "But it's nothing we can't handle together. I think you proved that last night." Syd grinned.
The three Rangers continued to chat, mostly about everyday things, yet understanding that the stakes in the game had been raised. They felt incomplete as three, even with the fourth in the room. They knew they wouldn't really be back on track until all five Rangers were back in the fight. And each of them hoped in their own way that it would happen soon.
Author's Note: In an attempt not to make this an endless story like "Crossing Paths" I have ended this particular fic here. I do intend to investigate the changes in the connection between Sky/Bridge, and what his nightmare's all about. I want to explore Z/Sky and develop the team more as well. But I can do that just as easily in stand alones or other fics set in this particular reality.
Every step of the way I have been astounded by the amazing support by everyone who has read and reviewed. You are all so awesome! I never thought this story would get the kind of response it has, and I thank you so much for it! Pink-Green-White-4Ever, Jillie chan, garnetred, lgbabyblu, NightMistCrystal, Dany, skyblue266, cmr, AngelMouse5, Funky in Fishnet, Crimson-Ranger, TheDarkOne, Psycho-Tangerine, Samurai Nashie…and everyone else who has supported me along the way. Thank you! Keep reading – I'll keep writing!