Heart Of Innocence
Last Revised: January 2, 2006
Summary: Sequel to Your Faith In Me. As Syd and Sky's relationship takes a new turn, Sydney can't help thinking back on her dreams from her childhood. Set sometime after Endings Pt. 2, and has spoilers to the end of SPD.
Disclaimer: I don't own PR, or the song, lots of other people do and the song belongs to Jessica Simpson! I'm not making money of this story, it's purely stress relief for me!
AN: Yeah, this was supposed to be a small, simple piece to cap off the storyline started in Your Faith In Me…it's turned into a 10+ page monster. –-grins—- so…
Dedication: To those of you who still have your heart of innocence, hang on to it with everything you have, it's an important part of who you are.
I have a gift for you
Something I've held on to
Waiting for your sweet caress (Sweet caress)
No ribbon has been untied
From all that I hold inside
And only you will possess
This heart of innocence
-- Jessica Simpson, Heart Of Innocence --
"I'm so tired," Z muttered as she, Bridge, Syd and Sky trudged out of the simulator after an intensive, four hour training session that Cruger had all but demanded they perform.
"I'll second that," Bridge mumbled, wincing every time he took a breath. He'd taken a hard kick to the ribs from one of the simulated Krybots that had him still reeling in pain, not to mention had zapped the last of his usual hyper activeness and spunk.
The others hadn't faired much better. Z had lacerations across her legs, arms, and back from an electric whip that one of their opponents had been wielding. Sky was a walking bruise from what Bridge could tell, the new Red Ranger having taken the brunt of the first wave of the simulated attack that had surprised them in depth and intensity. And then there was poor Syd, limping because of her hurt right leg and cradling her left wrist against her body. Sky was supporting her but Bridge knew she'd suffered at least a sprained ankle and possibly a fractured wrist.
"Why the intense training all of a sudden?" Z asked Sky.
"A level training. Cruger gave us a break after Jack left so we could regroup and get our bearings. Now it's time to step up our training. We don't have another squad waiting in the wings, so we've got to stay ready for any possibility."
Sky's eyes widened in horror and shock when Sydney whimpered and slumped against him. "SYD!" he cried out, catching her before she hit the ground.
"We'll run ahead and tell Kat!" Z told Sky, pulling Bridge into a sprint when Sydney's head lolled to the side, lifeless.
Quickly, ignoring the pain his abused muscles felt, Sky hoisted the unconscious Pink Ranger into his arms and began to carry her toward the infirmary.
"Well?" Cruger asked Dr. Lara Lucas, the new chief of medicine for the academy, when the doctor exited the newly redesigned infirmary.
"She's dehydrated, her wrist and ankle are fractured, I think. I won't know until the swelling goes down in either how bad they are. She's also got a concussion.
Bridge and Z reached out then, each laying a comforting hand on Sky, who was trembling. "Will she be ok?" Sky shakily asked.
"In due time. Right now, I want her to rest," Dr. Lucas told Sky, smiling a bit sadly at the young Ranger. She knew, even if Cruger, Manx and the others didn't, exactly how Sky and Syd felt about one another. They had both come to her recently, on an individual basis, seeking a talk with her about how to prevent a pregnancy while they were both on active Ranger duty. It seemed to her that the Pink and Red Rangers were ready to take that next serious step, and Sky's worry for Sydney's safety was evident in the way he was shaking.
"Can we see her?" Z wanted to know, more for Sky's benefit than anyone's.
Z knew the new Red Ranger had been steadily growing closer and closer to their Pink Ranger since the incident with Merlock. Z also knew it had been only recently that the pair had made their relationship official. The Yellow Ranger was pretty sure Sky was barely holding on to his patience with Dr. Lucas' explanation of Syd's condition.
"One or two at a time," Dr. Lucas warned, moving to speak with Cruger and Kat more privately.
"Sky, you go first," Z told him, watching Sky sorta move on autopilot toward Sydney's private room. Turning to Bridge, Z asked, "You think he's going to be ok?"
Bridge's face was a mix of emotions, the most dominant worry. "I don't know. He's always been afraid of loosing someone close to him, the same way he lost his father.
When she opened her eyes, they were blurry. She couldn't remember much, except for leaving the simulator and her body aching all over. When she got a good look at the room she was in, she felt the fear that had balled up in her stomach fade. She'd been having the same dream for years, ever since she joined SPD. She always found herself waking up from sleeping in a bed of pristine white, the solid form of a male in the bed next to her. She'd never been in this room before the dream, or even since she'd started having it, she'd never been the house before either. And when she woke from the dream, not only could she not really remember much about it, she never had seen the man in the bed's face.
One of the aspects of the dream that never failed to surprise her was that even though she found herself naked, and in bed with a strange man, one whose face she couldn't see, she never felt anything but safe and loved.
"Sydney, come on. Wake up for me, Gorgeous."
She felt herself swimming through the haze, her hands reaching forward to grab hold of the voice calling her. "Give me a sign, Syd," the voice murmured, louder and cleared now than it had been the first time she'd heard it.
Instantly she found herself really awake, no longer in the dream room, but starting at the figure bent over her bed. Sky was sitting in a chair next to her, his head resting against her stomach. The fingers of her right hand were twined with the fingers of his left.
She almost laughed when he sat straight up, looking like he'd just seen a ghost, but opted to smile instead. "You're awake!"
Because her head was pounding, announcing the headache that was hammering away behind her eyes, Sydney let her smile brighten only a little. "What happened to me, Sky?"
"You passed out after we left the simulator. Dr. Lucas said you've got a fractured wrist and ankle, and you have a mild concussion.
"Lovely," Syd griped, sighing. "How long was I out and how long am I stuck here?"
"You've been unconscious for the better part of two days. Not sure when you're getting out of here, why?"
"Just curious. You know how much I love hospitals."
Sky nodded, knowing exactly what she was talking about. Sydney hated hospitals….her grandfather had died in one, all by himself, instead of at home where he should have been with his family. Since then, she'd never stepped foot into the infirmary unless she absolutely had to. "You scared the hell out of me," Sky told her, changing the subject.
Her eyes filled with tears at the vulnerability she heard in his voice. She knew one of the reasons they'd taken their relationship slowly was because Sky was afraid to loose someone else he loved, like he'd lost his father.
Nodding, Sky stood up and leaned toward her. Their lips touched briefly, leaving them both wanting more, but knowing they wanted more privacy if they proceeded further. "You need to rest, and Z and Bridge are antsy and waiting in the waiting room to see you."
"Come back soon?"
Smiling impishly, Sky leaned close again, this time so that their noses touched. "Just try to keep me away."
After another quick kiss, Sky moved to leave. "I love you Sky."
Smiling, Sky turned his head. "I love you too."
"Commander, they need rest and a break. They've been going non stop since Gruumm was put away!" Kat argued, her voice full of heat and slowly rising in volume and in temper.
"Syd's still injured, and now the others are showing signs of fatigue and stress. Give them a week off, I'm begging you. They need a week to rest and relax, otherwise they won't be any good to you."
The big blue dog sighed, already knowing Kat spoke the truth. His beloved Isinia had said the very same thing earlier that afternoon when she'd gone to the girls' room to speak with them about something or another and had found all four Rangers sound asleep; Z and Bridge were cuddled together on Z's bed, and looking absolutely exhausted while Syd and Sky were laying on the Pink Ranger's bed, their bodies curled together just so Sky could relieve the pressure from the bruises he was sporting.
He'd been ruthlessly pushing them to the point of exhaustion and he knew it, and now, they were breaking under the strain. Hadn't Jack often fought for them to have personal time during his brief year as a Ranger? He knew Sky had said nothing as of late because of the brief two week break they'd been given in their duties once Jack had left.
"Fine. One week of vacation starting Sunday as soon as their shifts are over with."
"Thank you." Kat grinned then raced from the Command Center like a child waiting to spill a major secret.
"You're kidding, right?" Z asked in amazement.
"I'm dead serious. Starting Sunday, after your shifts, you have a week off, make good use of it, you might not get another one for a while," Kat warned them, though she was all smiles.
"Thanks Kat," Sky smiled before he turned to his second and third in command. "What are you two gonna do?"
"Well, Bridge has been bragging about his family, so I'm gonna have to say I'm gonna talk him into taking me to meet them," Z winked at Sky, who chuckled.
Bridge grinned and nodded. "What about you and Syd?"
Sky looked thoughtful. "It's about time Mom and Syd met, so I'm gonna try and talk her into going home with me for a few days. She's in no shape for long distance travel, or I'd think about driving her to her parents' beach house."
"Awww, you're so sweet, you're giving me cavities," Z laughed, punching Sky lightly in the shoulder.
"You'd better go ask her before she makes plans," Bridge told his best friend. Nodding, Sky stood and rushed from the room, heading for Syd and Z's room.
She was having the dream again, knew she was having it and still couldn't seem to stop it. The only difference this time from others was that she wrapped her arms around her bed mate and found herself comparing his body to another she'd hugged countless times – both dressed and undressed – Sky's. 'So familiar' Syd thought happily, laying her cheek against the mystery man's shoulder.
"Syd, wake up."
Bolting upright, Sydney found herself face to face with her boyfriend, who looked like a cat who'd just swallowed a bird whole. "What's wrong?"
Sky grinned. "Nothing. Cruger's granted us a week off. I was wondering, since you're a little too banged up for long distance travel, if you'd like to come home with me for a few days and meet my family."
A bright smile lit Syd's face. "I'd love to. When are we leaving?"
"Sunday night after my shift is over, if that's cool with you."
"Sounds wonderful. Thank you for thinking about me."
Sky looked stricken by her comment. "Of course I thought about you!" he argued, becoming slightly agitated.
Sydney smiled at him before reaching up and bringing her hands to his cheeks. "Sky, that's not how I meant that, and you know it."
Pacified, Sky rolled his eyes. "Question?"
"Mind if we take a nap before I go on duty?" he asked sheepishly.
Sydney nodded. What time do you need to get up?"
"In about three hours."
Leaning over, Sydney set her alarm. After she was done, she and Sky shifted around so that they could both lay on her bed, Sky behind her, his arms wrapped securely around her waist and his face buried in her hair.
Syd smiled warmly after climbing out of the car with Sky's help. She was still on crutches, though her wrist wasn't as bad off as originally thought. She'd merely sprained the wrist, but her ankle was, in fact, broken.
Sky stood next to her in the driveway, a suitcase in each hand and his backpack slung over one shoulder while Sydney had her own backpack on. "It's not much, but its home."
"It's wonderful, Sky. It reminds me of my house."
The Tate household was a two story ranch house in a warm beige color with a nice, neat yard and a two car garage. "Mom's still at work, so we can take a nap before she gets home, or watch a movie or something."
Sydney grinned at him. "You just want to get me in your bed," she teased.
The Red Ranger chuckled and opened the door. "Hate to say it Babe, but I've already had you in my bed, several times."
Twinkling laughter was Syd's response. "A nap and a movie sounds good," she yawned.
"Stay down here, I'll take the bags up and then come back and help you up the stairs," Sky told her.
The Pink Ranger nodded before moving into the living room while Sky bounded up the stairs two at a time. On the fireplace mantle, Syd found a collection of photographs of Sky, his mom, his grandparents, and one large one hanging on the wall of Mr. Tate in his SPD Officer's Uniform.
When she felt the tears welling in her eyes, Syd took a deep breath and blinked them back. Sky looked so much like his father, especially when he wore his red cadet uniform, the same that indicated his status as a ranger.
"Penny for your thoughts," Sky whispered in her ear, his arms snaking around her waist, his chin resting on her shoulder. The Red Ranger found his heart constricting when he felt her take a shuddering breath. "Sydney, what's wrong?"
"You look so much like him," she whispered softly, reaching out to run a fingertip down the picture.
Sighing, Sky held her tighter. "Mom tells me that every time she sees me. Come on, we could both use that nap."
Nodding, they turned from the fire place, slowly making their way to the stairs. Sydney maneuvered around, letting Sky pick her up while she held her crutches, so that he could take her up to his room.
The instant Sky carried Sydney into his room, he heard her give a little gasp. "You ok?"
Sky watched in concern when he sat his girlfriend down and she hobbled over to his bed, sinking down on the mattress, looking like she'd seen a ghost. Her eyes were wide with shock.
Sky's bedroom looked exactly like the one from her dreams, the dream where she'd given her innocence to the man without a face, where she'd rested with him during the night, feeling safe and loved. "It can't be!"
"Sydney, honey, you're scaring me. What's wrong?"
Swallowing, Syd closed her eyes and licked her lips. When she opened them again, Sky was crouched in front of her, one hand on either side of her thighs to steady himself. "For years now, since I started at the academy, I've had a recurring dream."
Sky nodded, making sure to listen carefully. "It was always the same dream in the beginning. I'd find myself in bed, naked. The bed was just like this one, covered in white linens, and so soft," she told him, rubbing her palm over the smooth blankets.
The Red Ranger blinked and nodded. "Go ahead."
"There was a man with me. I'm pretty sure we had sex, at least at some point," she told him, her voice soft and her face bright red with embarrassment. "I've never seen his face. Recently, the dream has changed, a little bit each time I've had it."
"How so?" Sky asked, curious.
"I've started snuggling up with him when I realize I'm in the dream. There's more though."
"Finish it Syd."
"When I hug him, when I lay with my head on his shoulder and my body pressed against his, it feels exactly like when I lay with you during our naps."
Now that surprised Sky. "And you've been having this dream since you came to the academy?"
Sydney nodded. "It's weird though, your room looks exactly the same as the one in my dream, but I've never been here before, and I've never seen pictures of this room. It's kinda creepy actually."
Sighing, Sky unconsciously rubbed his hands along her jean clad thighs. "I don't know what to tell you. Are you uncomfortable staying in here? I'm sure Mom won't mind if I fix up the guestroom for you."
"No. I want to sleep in here, with you," Syd told him, smiling softly. "We hardly get the chance to just be together, I don't want to waste a moment of the time we have. So, how about that nap?"
Sky couldn't help but grin, even as he tried to hide the fact that his heart skipped several beats after hearing her admission. "Mom should be home about six, and then we can decide on dinner and whatever else," he told her, standing and helping her slide further back up on the bed. Quietly, he climbed on with her after setting his alarm clock for six so they could get up and go meet his mother.
"Well hello," Donna Tate greeted when Sky and Syd walked into the kitchen. "Have a nice trip?"
Sky grinned and moved to his mother's side, wrapping his arms around her in a bear hug, their heads leaning together. Sydney was surprised to see the way his face lit up and his demeanor changed when he was in his mother's presence as opposed to when they were at the academy. He looked like a giant kid, instead of the anal, by the book, cadet she had first met.
Donna grinned back at her son, and then looked at Sydney briefly before nudging her son in the ribs with an elbow. "You gonna introduce your friend?"
"Momma, this is Sydney Drew, singer, model, Olympian, and the very kick ass Pink Ranger of B Squad." That had Syd laughing softly.
Donna glared at Sky briefly. "No swearing, young man," she scolded, an eyebrow raised at the goofy expression on Sky's face.
"Since you've never brought anyone but Dru home from SPD, I have to assume there is more importance to your relationship with Sydney than merely being teammates. Care to share?" Syd's face was glowing as Donna let her in on the fact that she was teasing Sky.
"She's not just my teammate, if that's what you mean," Sky spoke, alluding to the fact that his mother had already figured out there was much more than being Rangers between them.
"You gonna spill already, cause I think you're gonna make Sydney cry because your dancing around the fact that she's your girlfriend?" Donna asked, moving out of Sky's arms to finish her dinner preparations.
Sky's gaze darted to Sydney, who had titled her head to the left, kinda watching them and clearly feeling like an outsider. Even though he could see the start of tears in her eyes, Sky winked at her. "Momma, Sydney's the woman I'm gonna marry."
The Red Ranger didn't miss the startled look on the faces of either of the two most important people in his life. "You already asked Sydney to marry you?" Donna's voice cracked slightly. She had admitted to herself a long time ago that her little boy was no longer little, he was a man. His promotion to Red Ranger had solidified that for her, but knowing he'd found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, wanted to build a home and family with, shook her to the core. He really wasn't just hers any more.
"Not yet, but I'm planning on it, just so you know where we stand. Is that alright with you?" Sky asked, turning his head to stare in Donna's direction.
Turning again to fully face Sky, Donna smiled. She had learned all she could about Sky's teammates the last time he had come home and had let their names slip.
Jack Landors, now the former B Squad Red Ranger, had grown up on the streets after his parents had died. She'd known them, briefly, when Luke had joined SPD all those years ago. Jack had proven, through trial and error, to be a loyal friend, a fierce protector of Earth, and a great addition to the long line of Red Rangers Earth had claimed as her own.
Elizabeth "Z" Delgado, B Squad Yellow Ranger, had grown up just like Jack, though she'd run away from her foster home at a young age. Donna had known Danny and Kendall Delgado briefly, when Luke had worked with them on a project during the conception of SPD's Ranger Unit. Z, she knew, was spunky, witty, independent, and yet, the young woman longed to belong somewhere, to be apart of something bigger. The young Latina had made her own place at SPD, and thrived in the job she was doing to help others. She'd been the one, Donna knew, who had shown Sky that to be a Ranger, you didn't need to come from a certain background or have all the honed fighting skills you could learn. She'd taught Sky it took guts, tenacity, and determination to do a job no one thought you could, including yourself.
Bridge Carson, the former Green Ranger was now Sky's second in command as the Blue Ranger for B Squad. Bridge was quite the character. Though Donna had never met him, she knew his Uncle Cole and Aunt Alyssa well, not to mention his parents. All four of them worked at SPD when Luke had joined. Bridge was the rambler, the one who went off on weird tangents, at least to the others. But he was also the one who always got to the bottom of their personal problems, and helped them get passed them. Donna knew that Bridge was also like the little brother Sky had always longed to have.
Sydney Drew, Pink Ranger. As Sky had stated already, she had been a singer, model, and Olympian. When she had held each of those titles, she'd been the perfect image of each, an unreachable idol. Now she was just Sydney Drew, Pink Ranger. Sydney, heart and soul of the team, right alongside Bridge. Just from the look that passed between Syd and her son, Donna knew this young woman had been the reason for the recent changes in Sky's demeanor and personality.
When Luke had been killed, Sky had simply closed himself off from everyone but the inner circle of their family. Then Dru had come, and opened him up some, but getting on the Ranger track at the Academy had closed him off even more. Slowly, Bridge and Sydney, and finally Jack and Z, had wormed their ways into his heart. But it was whenever he talked about the beautiful and graceful Pink Ranger that his eyes lit with emotions she hadn't seen in him before.
Oh, Donna had heard of Alex and Emma Drew. They had been the Power Couple of SPD. Not only had Alex and Emma been lovers, now husband and wife, they had been the White and Pink Rangers of SPD, right alongside Luke; A tradition Sydney probably now knew about. She'd only met them briefly, the one time there had been a big to-do for the SPD Rangers when Luke had first joined, but not long after he'd been killed, the pair had seemed to drop out of sight for a while, until Alex's business had started gaining international and planetary acclaim.
Their daughter was nothing like either of them. Where they both had been the center of attention, before, during, and after their Ranger careers, Sydney seemed content, now that she was an adult, to stay out of the limelight. She seemed happy enough to be a Ranger, and to be by Sky's side.
Yes, the beautiful Pink Ranger would more than do for her son.
"You're an adult, Sky," Donna spoke after a few minutes of silence. "You don't need my approval for anything you do anymore."
"Don't need but want. Are you alright with her being here?"
Donna turned a smile to Sydney. "She makes you happy?" Sky nodded. "Then she's more than welcome in this house. Besides, just from the look she's giving both of us, I can tell she's just as scared, and just as in love, as you are. Now, why don't you go get her comfortable and off her feet, that ankle has to be bothering her. Dinner will be done about seven, we're having lasagna, salad, and bread sticks. Does that sound ok to both of you?"
"Yes, thank you," Sydney murmured softly, a smile splaying across her face. She knew Donna had accepted her role in Sky's life as easily as she could.
"I love you, Momma."
"I love you too, Baby Boy. Now scoot."
Sitting on the window seat in Sky's room, Sydney let her mind wander. Dinner had been excellent; Mrs. Tate knew how to make lasagna like no body's business. After dinner, the three of them had settled in the living room, sitting in front of the fireplace, talking about various subjects. Mrs. Tate had asked a lot of questions about their relationship, but had done so in a way that Sydney hadn't felt like she was prying.
Sky's mother was genuinely interested in their Ranger duties, something Syd would have thought she'd have hated because it had taken her husband from her. Sydney had even mentioned that, and the look she got, coupled with Mrs. Tate's words amazed her. 'Why should I be mad? Yes, being a Ranger is the reason Luke died, but it was something he was born to do, just as every person on this planet who has had the honor of being a Ranger was meant to. Besides, I always found being a Ranger fascinating, especially since I couldn't be one myself.'
After their conversation had pretty much died, Sydney had fallen asleep leaning against Sky's side, while they sat on the couch. She hadn't woken up again until Sky and Mrs. Tate were carrying her up the stairs and laying her down in Sky's bed.
Now Sky was sound asleep in his bed, and she was staring out the window at the full moon hanging in the star speckled night sky. Closing her eyes, she leaned back against the wall and sighed. The dream had come to her again, more detailed then before, at least the after sex part had. She never seemed to be able to enter the dream before they made love, always after. But that wasn't what had spooked her. No, this time, the dream had taken a turn much like it had a few days ago. For the first time since she'd started having the dream, she finally saw the face of the man she'd been intimate with.
He had Sky's face, Sky's body, was Sky in every way but one – he was from her subconscious. 'There is no way Sky and I are anywhere near ready for that' she thought quickly, her heart hurting as she did so. To feel that safe, that warm, that loved, she wanted it all but it wasn't going to happen, not yet anyway.
She was so lost in her thoughts, she never heard Sky get out of bed and kneel next to her. "Sydney," he whispered softly, not wanting to startle her, but from the way she jumped when she heard him, he knew he'd surprised her somewhat.
"Sorry, didn't mean to wake you," she murmured.
"You didn't, not exactly. I started reaching for you but you weren't there," he told her honestly and watched the delight light her eyes.
"I'm sorry, I just couldn't sleep."
"The dream again?" he asked, reaching up to move a few strands of hair out of her face.
She nodded, turning her gaze back to the stars in the sky. "I can't help it; the damn thing just won't go away and leave me alone."
Sky sighed, trying to work out a plan in his head to help her. The only one that came to mind was one that was going to take them to a place he didn't think they were quite ready for, but that he was willing to go if it would help her calm down. Reaching out, he lifted Sydney carefully into his arms, making her squeak in surprise.
"Sky?" she asked softly, wondering what had suddenly come over him.
Sydney was awed when Sky set her down gently on his bed and laid his lips on hers, caressing and nipping at each in turn. "Sydney?"
"Let me love you?" he whispered softly, rubbing their noses together before their lips met again.
Sighing, she snuggled close to the warm body next to her, her arms wrapped around his waist and her head on his shoulder. Both of them were naked, content, and dozing. Smiling, Syd rubbed her cheek against his warm skin and realized something. Her dream had finally become reality.
"You're thinking about it again, aren't you?" Sky teased, pulling her soft body closer to his.
"I can't help it. I never got to experience that part of the dream before. For it to come real, it just amazes me," she yawned, before inhaling, the scent of Sky's aftershave and her perfume mixing with the ripe scent of their shared passion floating around her. Making love to Sky had been everything she'd ever hoped for, and the fact that they'd given their innocence to each other made it all the more worth it.
"I love you," Sky whispered softly, kissing her temple.
"I love you too, Sky, always," Sydney murmured back, falling asleep, knowing her heart and her innocence were safe with this man who loved her so completely.