Author's Note: I was inspired after reading BloomingViolets and Pink-Green-White-4Ever's challenge fics to write one of my own.
The challenges can be found at Ars Amatoria's Ranger Romance Themes.

Challenge: Scars
Pair: Sky/Z
Disclaimer: Don't own the Power Rangers, not even an action figure.
Timeframe: This fic is set immediately after Recognition.

Sky made his way down the dormitory hallway of the main SPD building. He'd spent most of the day tracking down people who'd run across Wootox during the day when he was in possession of Sky's body. Down to the lowest ranked cadet, each person assured Sky that he didn't have to apologize for Wootox's behavior, but deep down Sky felt responsible for the things that had happened when he wasn't in control of himself – literally.

The Pink and Yellow Rangers were last on his list. He'd heard from Bridge who'd heard from the girls how upset they were when Sky just barged into their room. That was one of the things that had bothered him the most of the events that had happened that day. It made his blood boil contemplating what that alien might have done…what he might have tried, and even gotten away with using Sky's body. So he made his way to the girl's room to reassure them that he would never violate their space, and he'd never come in without a specific invitation.

Sky arrived at the door and knocked. Moments later Syd called out "Come in."

Well if she just lets anyone in without even checking to see who it is…

Sky stepped closer to the door which opened automatically after Syd called out her greeting. Syd was not immediately visible. Sky poked his head in but didn't cross the threshold. "Syd? It's me Sky."

"Oh, hi Sky!" Syd called out from the closet. She was seriously contemplating the contents of her closet. When she saw Sky hesitate in the doorway she waved him in. "You can come in, Sky." She rolled her eyes expressively.

He walked in as he responded. "You should be more careful about letting people in, Syd- especially after what happened today." He held his hands out apologetically. "And that's what I came down here for."

Syd tipped her head to the side; her expression was understanding. "Sky…you don't have to apologize for everything Wootox did when he was in your body."

"But I do." Sky walked over to stand in front of Syd. The expression on his face was pained and sincere. "I just want you to know, Syd. I'd never invade your privacy the way Wootox did. I'd never make you or Z feel uncomfortable, I swear."

Syd reached out to lay a reassuring hand on Sky's arm. She peered up into his face, "I know Sky. But thanks for telling me anyway." Sky nodded in response and turned slightly to scan the rest of the room. Z was nowhere in sight.

Syd piped up. "Z and I are having a Girl's Night out. She ran to take a shower, but she'll be back any minute. So while you're waiting for her you can help me choose an outfit. I always find it helpful to have a man's opinion." Without waiting for an answer, Syd grabbed a handful of hangers and shoved them at Sky.

Sky grimaced slightly. Having Z around was definitely a benefit; he and Bridge had been subjected to far fewer "help me pick an outfit" adventures now that Syd had a girl to bond with on the team. But that's not the only reason I like having her around. Sky didn't pursue that line of thinking. He couldn't let his feelings for Z color his expression at all; if Syd picked up on them he'd never hear the end of it. Better to keep his feelings private than to have Syd on his case.

But the stoic Blue Ranger didn't give the observant Pink Ranger nearly the credit she deserved. She'd seen the chemistry between Sky and Z, and knew enough to let the relationship develop in its own. Sky would never pursue a relationship if he felt he was being pressured into it; and Z still needed to learn to trust her teammates. She was only just beginning to extend that trust to Syd and Bridge. Sky was the one she wanted to trust the most, but he was also the one who was hardest to get closest to. So, Syd kept her own council; she was determined to give the Yellow and Blue Rangers the time they needed to find each other on their own. And if eventually she felt they were taking too long, then she'd get involved.

"Hey Syd…" called out Z as she walked into their room vigorously rubbing her head with a voluminous yellow towel. "Do you think I could borrow your cute black heels tonight? I've got nothing to go with my new skirt." She walked toward the yellow side of the room, still rubbing her hair with the towel draped over her head, never noticing the Blue Ranger.

Sky had turned when Z had entered the room and frozen as he caught sight of her. If Syd wasn't such a good friend she would have laughed out loud at the expression on his face. Z was clothed in an artistically draped yellow towel, and that was it. Because of the large towel she was using to dry her hair, she had no idea Sky was in the room.

Sky had frozen when Z entered the room because the first thing he noticed was that she was wrapped only in a towel. This is exactly the kind of situation I was trying to avoid! He panicked internally. He didn't want Z to think he was trying to catch a glimpse of her partially clothed, but now he had and he was sure she was going to be mad. But a split second after noticing the towel Sky noticed something else – the scars.

Fine lines of old scars crisscrossed Z's shoulders and back. One particularly raised and jagged scar ran from her right shoulder down her back and under the towel where Sky couldn't see. Sky turned away abruptly and stared unseeing into Syd's closet. He was awash in anger – what made those scars? There were so many of them. Could he get his hands on whoever was responsible? On his face was an expression of outrage that only Syd could see. She moved to rescue her clothing from his crushing grip.

"Sure you can borrow them." Syd replied trying to keep her tone light. "Sky came to see us about what happened today."

Sky could hear Z turn toward Syd, but he remained standing with is back to her staring resolutely into the closet. "He did? Oh, Sky!" He heard her gasp. Inwardly he winced. This did not turn out the way I wanted it to at all.

The girls shared some kind of silent girl communication and Syd relieved him of the pile of clothing she'd tossed at him. Sky was at a loss – there was just no way to make a graceful exit. He looked at Syd who indicated that it was safe to turn around. Z had taken the towel she'd been using on her hair and draped it around her shoulders. She held it closed around her shoulders and stood uncomfortably next to her bed. Sky tried to convince himself that with the two towels she was covered much more than she would've been wearing a bathing suit, but it simply didn't matter. He's seen something he didn't think she wanted him to see, and there was no undoing it.

"I just came to say that I would never come in your room uninvited." Sky blurted out looking anywhere but at Z. "I know how important your privacy is and I would never violate it. I don't want you to think…what Wootox did today….I just…Syd let me in."

He looked at Syd as if for confirmation and she nodded. Z nodded too just as discomfited as Sky was. "Okay Sky. I appreciate you coming to tell us." He risked a look at her face and though he saw genuine gratitude in her expression. It relieved him a little. He smiled slightly.

Syd broke the moment by giving Sky an ungentle shove. "Let the girl get some clothes on, Sky." She pointed him toward the door.

"What? Oh!" Sky blushed scarlet and made a hasty exit. As the door to the girl's room whooshed closed behind him he leaned against the wall. He heard the light lilt of Syd's laughter and Z's deeper alto echo. They sounded okay – not angry. His mind was filled with the picture of Z's face framed by her towel dried hair. With no makeup and no primping she looked so beautiful. Sky's heart gave a violent lurch in his chest. Something was happening here he wasn't sure he was quite ready for, but he was sure he wanted to give it a try.

Someone in the past had hurt Z; treated her badly enough to make those scars. Sky knew that they could never be erased, but he wanted her to know that there were people she could trust; people who would love her and not leave a scar. Somewhere on the walk back to his room he decided he wanted to earn Z's trust; not just as a teammate or a friend, but as something more. His mind was already whirring with ideas, so he paid little attention to his heart. He never heard the walls he'd built up around it begin to crumble and fall.