Title: Sleep to Dream Her
Author: Mandi Ohlin
Part: 1/1
Category: Drama (Missing Scene if it doesn't kill continuity later)
Distribution: Please ask.
Rating: PG. Barely.
Spoilers: Occurs shortly after "The Time Shadow."

Disclaimer: Power Rangers Time Force and all related indicia are property of Saban Inc. No permission, no profit, no lawyers. The title is taken from the Dave Matthews Band song. Tyrran is mine, but she's just here for plot reasons.

Notes: Yeah, I know I've got multiple unfinished fics that people have been shrieking at me about. And for those who have asked: believe it or not, this is probably canon. That was Jason Faunt (who plays Wes/Alex) in the lab coat at the end of "The Time Shadow." The ending credits gave it away, and most of the regulars on the a.f.p-r newsgroup have agreed that it was indeed Alex. (Unless Jason is now playing THREE different characters in this series, which I doubt.) This idea popped into my head one night, wouldn't leave me alone, and came out in a one-sitting write. Be warned, it's not beta-read, and the technobabble is probably way off. I'm blowing off steam.

Feedback: Hell, yes!

*****

Sleep to Dream Her
by Mandi Ohlin


"Alex. I thought I'd find you here."

I don't need to turn around to know who's speaking. Commander Tyrran excels at entering undetected - especially when she wants to rattle Captain Logan - and I've become used to it by now. Besides, she's the only Special Ops officer who'd make an informal call. "I'm always here lately, you know that."

She doesn't answer. I'm in trouble, so I pretend to be engrossed in monitoring the final readings. The Time Shadow's performed far above our original expectations. When we first launched it, I hadn't finished all the diagnostics and tests. So I wasn't thrilled when I was ordered to send the Time Shadow back. I was afraid that something would go wrong, that I'd fail Jennifer once again.

I've never been so happy to be wrong in my entire life.

Behind me, the Commander coughs. She's waiting, and she hasn't demanded any attention to protocol whatsoever. This is a personal call. Allia Tyrran was one of the top instructors at the Time Force Academy when Jennifer and I went there, and off duty she tends to mother-hen her former students. Of course, her idea of "mother-henning" sometimes involves having her charges forcibly dragged to the infirmary.

I'm definitely in trouble.

"Is there a specific reason for this visit?" I keep my back to her; turning around abruptly might give some things away.

"Simple curiosity," Tyrran answers coolly. "Your presence here is rather odd."

"Why?"

"Because you're supposed to be in regenerative stasis."

I nearly drop the small datapad I'm holding. She knows. Damn, damn, damn.

Slowly, so I don't stumble and give myself away, I turn around. She's standing there with an image cube in one hand. It's displaying a holographic cycle of documents - a medical report. "What is that?" I ask, playing dumb.

"Your latest medical report. I had to slash through red tape galore to get it."

"That's an exaggeration. I'm fine."

She shuts the cube off and pockets it. "The records in the database indicated that you were healthy enough to be discharged. Care to explain that?"

I grit my teeth. I didn't necessarily go through and alter the details of my medical reports - that would have been too obvious - but the database often flags records that indicate serious injuries or conditions. So I managed to get in and remove the flag in hopes that the report would go unnoticed. In the wake of Ransik's escape, Time Force has been working around the clock to try to preserve the timeline and assist the Rangers in any way possible, so the error might have been missed. Until now.

"I couldn't just sit by and do nothing. I was working on this project long before Ransik was captured--"

"And you're one of the few people with the expertise to get it finished and running," Tyrran finishes. "Yes, I know."

She strides across the room to stand before me. "And I have to congratulate you on the results. The Time Shadow has performed perfectly."

"But?" I know what's coming.

"But risking your health is counterproductive."

I don't say anything, don't look away. I'm not going to be put in stasis so I can lie there like a piece of equipment, as useless as one of the cryo-frozen criminals we capture daily. I know it's not the same. It's a regenerative sleep, not a deep freeze. But I'm not a prisoner, and I won't be treated that way.

Tyrran sighs. "Jen wouldn't want you to do this to yourself."

Now she brings out the heavy artillery. "But she doesn't know, does she?"

She shakes her head. "I've spoken to Logan. Without revealing what Special Ops is doing - and he doesn't have the clearance - I could not convince him that the conditions were such that he could reveal personal details. Especially since we have detected that there has been some alterations to the time stream."

I nod. I've heard this before.

"Here's the deal. You go into stasis for 24 hours--"

"I can't do that."

"It's that, or I throw you in there for the full three days' worth."

She means it. And I can barely stand up right now. Trip could haul me off without any trouble. "Just give me a few minutes. I need to finish up here."

Tyrran nods. "Ten minutes. No more, no less." She actually softens for a moment. "If not for yourself, do it for Jen. If she knew what you were putting yourself through, she'd be dragging you herself." She strides out, not waiting for a yes or no. It's an ultimatum; she doesn't need to.

I turn back to the console. The final diagnostic is complete. I'm done for the night. I'd like to stay and run through the Time Shadow's visual records, try to get an idea of what they're up against. But that option's not available to me now. I discard the lab coat and shades in the storage closet before trudging to the lavatory to wash up.

It takes me a moment to recognize my reflection in the mirror. I look like one of those zombies from the old Earth horror films that Lucas watches. But for someone who's just barely escaped death, I should feel pretty lucky.

I sit back down at the console, staring blankly at the displays. There's a deactivated holo sitting on a nearby counter, and I switch it on. It's the one of Jennifer and me the last time we were off duty together. She's smiling, relaxed, happy. She's not barking out orders, trying to perfect herself and her teammates, trying to get the job done no matter what. That's Jen: the relentless, driven Time Force officer who will protect others at any cost. It's one syllable, short and to the point, the persona that most people know.

But when we could get away from work - when we could just be together - she was Jennifer with me. Willing to take her time, to relax, to allow herself to be happy. I always got strange looks from other people when I insisted on calling her "Jennifer," but they didn't understand. They knew Jen.

I'm not sure who will be coming home, though.

Time Force has the capability of measuring the amount of alterations done to the timestream. The Valerian Crystals mined on Eltar provide the means to do that. The mineral exists outside of time; it was used in constructing the morphers. The Crystal can monitor the timestream and indicate the amount of change - but it cannot tell us WHAT, exactly, has changed. And there has been some minimal damage to the timeline. It's nowhere near the amount of damage Ransik could have caused had he been allowed to run amuck. But it's enough to make me worry.

The morphers, to an extent, exist outside of time as well; they insulate their holders from any changes in the timestream to lessen the possibility of paradox. So for Jennifer, Trip, Katie, and Lucas, the future is the same as it was when they left - their memories are intact. But the future they return to may not be quite the same. I'm not insulated, so the future I know may be totally wrong.

~Jen wouldn't want you to do this to yourself.~

Would she?

I love Jennifer, who could spend hours with me doing absolutely nothing and yet make those hours the best of my day. I love Jen, who would never back down if she was fighting for something she believed in. But the woman who comes back may never have been in love with me. She may not even care about me.

The ten minutes are almost up. I shut off the holo and place it in storage before heading down the corridor, to the infirmary where Tyrran is waiting with the stasis chamber ready. "24 hours, right?" I ask, looking her right in the eye. I refuse to be out of commission for any longer.

"24 hours. You have my word."

I lie down in the chamber, closing my eyes. Memories of Jennifer parade behind my closed eyelids. She may still love me, but that might be worse. I wish I could find her, tell her that I'm all right, that she has no reason to torture herself. Jennifer might not do that, but Jen, alone, might.

Ransik may not have managed to take my life, but he's taken something even more important. I'm already slipping out of consciousness, and I let myself fall away. I have to see this through. I won't fail this time. I'll survive to see the woman I love come back safely.

Until then, I'll dream of Jennifer, and Jen, and maybe one day it won't be a dream anymore.

******

The End