What Could Have Been
Chapter 1:
Z's Focus
By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: January 2, 2006

Summary: Done in response to challenges by Weesta and Sierra, only I twisted Weesta's challenge just a little. Z and Jack both have unrequited love for someone, someone they can't have, and each is dealing in their own way.
Rating: T
Ship: SS, minor BZ
Setting: Sometime shortly after Endings Pt. 2
Disclaimer: I don't own power rangers, am not associated with anything having to do with PR. PR belongs to Disney, and whoever else runs it. This is pure stress relief for me, and I'm not making any money off of it.

DedicationTo Weesta, hope this satisfies the ZS storyline you wanted, and to Sierra, hope this lives up to the challenge you gave me with JSS.

--

He's just sitting there on the couch across from me in the common room, staring at the model airplane he's painting, and yet, I find him incredibly sexy. Of course, 99.9 percent of the female population of the academy finds him sexy too. That's only one reason I like him though, unlike them. The other reason I like him, well, let's be honest, I love him. So, the other reason I love him, is because I know him. I know what makes him tick, I know his past, and I know his hopes for the future. I know him inside and out.

Well, maybe that isn't completely true. I don't know him as well as my best friend knows him, but almost. You see, I'm in love with the man who is in love with my best friend, and who my best friend is in love with. Talk about screwed up.

I know a lot about Sky Tate, probably more than any normal "friend" should. I know he likes to run three miles every morning before breakfast. I know he likes to wear sweats any chance he can get. I know he talks in his sleep. That one can be attributed to Bridge having a big mouth and not being able to keep secrets, but I won't tell anyone that. I know lately he's been sleeping with a stuffed elephant that belongs to the love of his life and my best friend.

Speaking of my best friend. It's thanks to her I know more about the man I love then I should, given the situation. Syd talks about him constantly when we're in our room together, which is almost as annoying as her singing, but I'm not complaining. Every detail I learn about him is like water to a person stranded in a desert; I'm stranded in the desert of unrequited love and I'm thirsty has hell.

It's thanks to Sydney, that I know Sky likes to know she wears his old, ratty, blue SPD t-shirt to bed every night. I have also learned that he likes to make love with music playing or in the bathtub, though that's a fact not learned first hand. Ok, gotta steer my thoughts away from that area, especially since Sky's sitting across from me and if I start squirming, he's gonna wanna know why.

"Z, are you ok?"

Damn, caught red handed.

"I'm fine, why do you ask?"

Bluer than blue eyes look up at me, a cocky grin sliding across his face, like he knows I'm lying. Damn him! "Because you keep shifting around like you're uncomfortable. What's wrong?"

'I'm in love with you, you're in love with Syd, and Syd's in love with you, what do you think is wrong with me?' I silently shot back, though I didn't speak out loud. I couldn't and wouldn't ruin his happiness by telling him.

That's another reason I know I love him – I'd give up everything to see him happy, including my own happiness and well being. He's happy with Sydney, and there's no way in hell I'm going to destroy what they have.

They really are made for each other, no matter how much that thought hurts. It's taken them nearly three years to come to that conclusion, and they've seen each other through so many things that it's only added to the love and trust and understanding between them. They have a history together, and despite the fact that Sky and I do too, it's not the same.

Those blue eyes are still staring at me. Maybe I can see what he has to say about this. "Sky, what kind of advice would you give to someone who's in love with someone else, and say the someone this person is in love with is in love with someone else, someone important to them both?"

'Oh shit!' I think when I see the look on his face changed from mild worry to an almost scary understanding.

"That depends. Honestly, the person should tell the person they love what they're feeling, no matter how much of a chance they have of getting hurt. Having them know is better than going on without them knowing."

I bite my lip and nod. Damn, how'd I know he'd say that. "You think so?"

He simply nodded and returned his attention to his model, or at least I thought he had until he spoke up again. "Z, is there something you wanna tell me?"

I know I look like a deer caught in the headlights, especially when he looks up at me the way he is now. It's like those eyes of his, so deep so blue, can read my thoughts, delve deep into my soul.

"Promise not to tell Syd a word of what I'm about to tell you?" I say, sounding far braver and more daring then I feel. I'm going to tell him, I've already decided that, but I hope to God this doesn't make things awkward between us afterward.

"I'm not Bridge, I know how to keep secrets."

I can't help but laugh at that. He knows Bridge told me he talks in his sleep. "I love you," I blurt out, watching as his face remains neutral.

"I love you too, Z, you know that," he says, shaking his head.

"No, Sky, I'm in love with you," I start again, changing the words, watching the mild shock spread across his face for a second before he regained his composure.

"I see." I watch set the model airplane on the couch before he stands and comes to sit by me. "Z…"

"No, I know, you love Syd. And I know she loves you too, but, you said I should tell the person, so…" I leave my words hanging in the air.

"Z, I'm flattered, really I am, but you're not in love with me."

I know my expression just went hard. Who does he think he is that he can tell me I'm not feeling what I know I'm feeling?

"Excuse me?"

I watch him sigh, and then see his face brighten when Bridge entered the common room. "You're attracted to me, just like I was attracted to you when you and Jack first arrived, but you're not in love with me. Trust me on that one."

"What do you mean?" I ask, feeling lightheaded from him telling me he was attracted to me.

"When I walk into a room, does your heart start skipping beats?" he asks, grinning.

Sitting there, I ponder his goofy question. Believe it or not, no, it doesn't. "Not exactly."

"When you see me, do you instantly brighten up or feel better?"

Again, I ponder the question. It's always nice to see Sky, but normally seeing him usually means preparing myself for inevitable breakage of my heart. "No, I guess not. Sky, what's your point?" I turn pleading eyes to his.

He smiles at me, in that brotherly sorta way. "Take those same two questions, and apply them to every other guy in your life, the person you think of and say yes to both of your questions, that's who you love. Trust me; I used the same two questions, and nearly a billion more, on myself with you and Syd." Moving away from me, he sits back on the other couch, taking his plane back into his hand.

Who makes my heart skip beats or my face and attitude brighten when they walk into the room? Shaking my head, I turn when I hear a half hearted chuckle come from Sky, who's looking at Bridge.

I feel my heart skip a beat and I smile in amusement. Bridge is standing on his head, eyes closed, and a look of utter concentration on his face. Our Blue Ranger must be trying to figure out a lead on a case, because he only does the standing on his head routine when something's just not coming to him.

And that's when it hits me. The only person who's ever made me feel that way is Bridge. For a moment, I feel suspended outside of everything, and then I realize, I feel for Bridge everything I thought I felt for Sky, and so much more. Bridge was my first friend at SPD, the one who looked out for me, who tried to make me comfortable in my new surroundings. He's always the one who plays cards with me, sits with me while I read and eats toast too loudly in my ear. He's the one who teams up with me during sparring sessions or during an undercover case. He was the one who helped me cope with not having Jack around, or when I was sick with the flu last year made me soup and served it to me in bed.

"Oh wow," I mutter, watching Sky grin and nod at me. "Um, Sky?"

"Hmm?"

"We're ok, right?"

"Z, I'm always going to be your friend and an irritating older brother figure if you like, and yes, I will always love you. But I'm glad your focus is on the one who really matters."

I smile and nod before I bounce off the couch and creep over to Bridge, hoping not to startle him when I ask if he needs help with his case.