Whenever You Remember
Last Revised: January 15, 2006
Summary: Struggling with a tragic loss, the gang remembers a person who meant so much to them.
Ship: J/A, B/Z, S/S
Disclaimer: Not making money off this, don't own any of it. The Rangers belong to Disney and the song is by Carrie Underwood. Alex, Emma, S.J., Kayla, Serena, and Jackson all belong to me.
Dedication: To all of you, who've ever lost someone, remember the good times whenever you remember them.
When you look back on times we had
I hope you smile
And know that through the good and through the bad
I was on your side when nobody could hold us down
We claimed the brightest star
And we, we came so far
And no they won't forget
Whenever you remember times gone by
Remember how we held our heads so high
When all this world was there for us
And we believe that we could touch the sky
Whenever you remember, I'll be there
Remember how we reached that dream together
Whenever you remember
When you think back on all we've done
I hope you're proud
When you look back and see how far we've come
It was our time to shine
And nobody could hold us down
They thought they'd see us fall
But we, we stood so tall
And no we won't forget…
-- Carrie Underwood, Whenever You Remember --
"The Tate family thanks you for your support and love. There will be a small gathering at the SPD Academy downtown at three o'clock. Thank you," the Priest said, dismissing those gathered at the funeral.
While mourners walked past the beautiful white casket, a small group of people stayed where they were. Kat and Boom stood together, Boom's arm around the feline doctor as she wept into a handful of tissues. Next to them, looking stately even as they mourned were Doggie and Isinia. The Commander of the SPD Academy had his eyes closed, trying to hold back the grief that engulfed him, even as his wife openly cried for the one they were about to bury.
Standing just in front of them were Bridge and Z with their two children, and Jack and Ally, with their brood of three. Z was leaning against Bridge's shoulder, her face buried against the darkness of his coat as she cried softly. Standing just in front of them were their children, who were crying softly as well. Ally held Jack's hand tightly as he openly sobbed, his eyes never once leaving the white casket before him, the same casket that held the body of one he had loved as much as he loved Z.
And in the center of all of them was a man wearing a navy blue suit with black coat. Laying against his shoulder was a little girl with bright blue eyes and bouncing blonde curls, and on either side were two other children – one boy who was the spitting image of the elder man with the exception of the blue eyes that were the same shade as his mothers and another girl, a little older than the one in his arms, who shared the same blonde hair as her sister but had his eyes.
"Sky?" Doggie asked, reaching forward to lay a hand on Sky's free shoulder. It hadn't been the easiest of weeks for the Tate family, and for once in his life, the esteemed Commander Cruger couldn't think of anything to do to help his friends.
"Yes Commander?" Sky asked, his voice breathy even as he stared at the casket that held the one he had promised to cherish and love till death do them part, the one he would love for eternity.
"Allow Isinia and I, and Kat and Boom, to take the children with us," Doggie told him softly.
"Are you sure?"
"They've already endured more than they should have ever had to go through, don't make them sit through watching your private goodbyes to her."
Sky nodded once before turning his head to kiss the cheek of the little girl who looked at him with watery blue eyes that reminded him of her mother. Bending down, he kissed his son and his eldest daughter before passing his youngest to Kat, who cuddled the girl close.
"Z, Bridge, why don't I take Alex and Emma with me?" Ally suggested, motioning that the four former Rangers needed a moment together.
Z and Bridge nodded in unison and motioned for their son and daughter to go with the others, leaving the four former Rangers standing together. It was Jack who initiated the group hug when he quickly pulled Sky into his arms seconds before the taller man began to sob. It was with quick reflexes that Bridge and Z helped Jack catch Sky before he dropped to the ground.
Giving up caring about dirtying their clothes, the four sank to their knees and stared at the casket. Z burrowed her way under one of Sky's arms while Bridge did the same on the other side, leaving the four of them connected.
"She's gone! She can't be gone!" Sky sobbed softly, so that the other three were the only ones who could hear his heart breaking in every word. The second his words were spoken, all of their hearts broke all over again.
"SYDNEY! YOU PROMISED! YOU SAID YOU WOULDN'T EVER LEAVE ME!" Sky screamed at the casket, sobs and curses wracking his already weary body and state of mind.
Bridge closed his eyes and struggled to block out the wave of emotion coming from the three who were as close to his heart as his children. He couldn't put even a dent in the tidal wave, so he merely let go of the wall trying to hold it back. A steady stream of tears trickled down his cheeks. It was as if, without Sydney there, the four of them had simply fallen apart.
Z could see Bridge struggling to regain his balance even as she blinked her own tears away. Taking two calming, cleansing breaths, the former Yellow Ranger attempted to send a positive wave of emotion to her husband so he could calm himself and then she turned her attention to Sky and Jack, who were still locked in a fierce embrace. She could see them both still crying, though any sounds were regulated to an occasional hitch in their breathing.
Jack was sick to his stomach, and readily admitted he had been since he'd received the awful news. For a week it felt like someone had thrust a hot poker through his heart, and he knew it would take a lot of time to heal the pain he felt. But it was Sky, he knew, who was worse off than any of them, including the children.
Whether the former Blue and Red Ranger would admit it, Sydney was his reason for getting up each morning, was the person he'd come to depend on as much as he depended on the air he breathed to live. And now she was gone and Sky was falling apart.
She was gone because of the carelessness of someone who had decided to commit a drive by shooting that had nearly killed a group of kids. Somehow, Sydney had managed to morph at the last minute and stop the bullets from hitting the kids, but a stray bullet ricochet off of a lamp post and had struck her through her heart just as she'd let her morph go.
The doctors had said if she'd held her morph for a few seconds longer, the bullet would have reflected off her suit and embedded in a nearby concrete wall. Instead, Sydney had wanted to see to the children without her suit getting in the way and it had cost her, her life, and the rest of them their heart and soul.
"Sky, it's time to say goodbye," Z whispered in his ear, watching as the two cemetery employees approached the casket. None of them wanted to see the casket lowered into the ground, because they knew that once it was that their beloved Pink Ranger would be gone forever.
Nodding, Sky rose to his feet shakily, Bridge and Jack on either side of him, holding him steady as the four stepped up next to the casket. Z was the first of them to reach out and run her fingertips down the polished white surface.
"You were there for me when I went through things no one else could understand. You sat with me through both of my labors, you were with me when Bridge and I broke up that one and only time, you made room for me in your life when I'd given you nothing but grief the first few months we were teammates," Z started, tears falling unnoticed down her face. "You were my teammate, friend, best friend, but most of all, you were my sister in everything but blood. I will try my very best to make sure you kids don't forget what an extraordinary woman you were." As she stepped back away from the casket, Z let her eyes close, an image of a girl in a pair of blue jeans and a white top with a mass of blonde curls and the deepest blue eyes she'd ever seen came to mind, a smile lighting the girl's face.
Z took a spot not far from the casket, her hands going to her lower back in a stance she'd adopted when she'd come to the academy while Bridge moved away from Sky and Jack and placed his hand palm down on the casket.
"Sydie," he whispered, tears choking his voice. "My Sydie. Protector, friend, confidant, teammate, older sister. You were each of those things to me, and so much more. It was you, who pulled me from my shell, it was you who worked long hours with me on my powers, never once complaining. You portrayed the spoiled princess for everyone else but me in the beginning." Bridge coughed, trying to get his composure back but failing miserably. "I miss you! I miss you so much! You've only been gone a week and already life's going on and it's not fair! YOU SHOULD BE WITH US!" Bridge screamed, having finally given up being a mature adult about the loss of his longest friend. He didn't care that the others were watching him loose it, all he cared was that he was hurting and he knew it would never stop. "Syd, he's not gonna make it without you, I can already sense it. The only reason he hasn't joined you yet is because of S.J., Kayla and Serena. I love you, sister of my heart and soul, and I'll love you forever."
Swallowing hard, Bridge turned quickly away from the casket and joined Z, taking up the same pose his wife now held, knowing it was the best way they could honor their fallen sister.
Sky gave a nearly unnoticed nod and Jack moved away from him, his hands coming up to touch the casket as tears blinded him. He bit his lip in hopes that he could keep from loosing it before he said goodbye to her. "Sister of my heart," Jack whispered, one hand coming up to rest over the heart that beat in his chest while the other stayed on the casket. "Leave it to Bridge to put it so elegantly. You became my sister, as much as Z has ever been. You taught me to trust my heart, you taught me to trust myself, you taught me to never get up, and to always believe, in me, and in everyone else. This world will never forget you, Sydney, or the sacrifices you made in the line of duty. Your children will grow up knowing their mother was a courageous woman, a caring and outstanding mother, and a loving wife. We will not let them forget you, just like we will never forget you. I'll miss you ever day we're not together, Sis, but I know I'll see you again. Till then, Angel of Ours, watch over us all."
When he was finished, Jack kissed two fingers then lightly ran them over the casket before joining Z and Bridge, leaving Sky to say his final goodbye.
Sky moved numbly until he was standing by the casket that held his wife, his lover, the mother of his children, his teammate, his best friend, his heart and his soul. With lips trembling and eyes watering, he leaned over so that his forehead rested against the white surface. "You're gone, and I can't bring you back. You're gone, and I know you're never coming back. You're gone, and I'm still here, empty as a shell. If it wasn't for the kids, I'd already be with you. They're my only reason for living, Sydney, because the other reason left the day you died," he sobbed softly.
"I've remembered so many things over the last week, once the numbness and shock wore off; the way your hair bounced, blonde and shiny, the way your eyes sparkled with mischief and love. I've remembered each day you told me you were pregnant, and I've remembered the way you cried and smiled at the same time when you held each of our children for the first time. I've remembered the look on your face the day I asked you to marry me, or the look you gave me when I asked you to go on our first date, and even the look you gave me when I asked you the first time to be my valentine. I've thought about the way you use to look, sound, and feel every time we made love, but none of those times ever compared to the first time I made you mine."
"You're gone and you're not coming back and I'm stuck here remembering everything we shared. Every morning I've woken up without you has been like the first morning all over again. And it's not just me that's missing you, Sydney, they all are. Jack, Z and Bridge look like their falling apart, your mother had to be put on bed rest from the shock, but what hurt the most was telling our kids you weren't ever coming back. I felt like I'd hurt them so bad when I told them, and it wasn't like I had give details or a long, drawn out explanation of where you were, they just understood."
Clenching his eyes closed, Sky took a couple of gulping breaths and finished his goodbye. "I'm going to miss you forever, Sydney, but every time I remember the times we shared, I'll remember you, and I know you'll be with me always. I won't let them grow up without knowing you loved them more than life itself. They will remember you, Sydney, everyone will remember you, but no one more than me. I love you, so much, and I always will. Goodbye Babe."
His lips laid a whisper of a kiss over the top of the casket as he pushed himself away from it, his vision blurring with tears. Turning, Sky joined Z, Bridge and Jack, all of home were saluting the casket. When the four former Rangers turned to move away, they saw the group gathered with them. Commander Cruger, Isinia, Boom and Kat stood in front of the mass of SPD cadets, with the newest B Squad Rangers right behind them.
"CADETS! SALUTE!" the Red Ranger barked out the order. Sky, Z, Bridge and Jack gasped as the entire Academy saluted Sydney's casket.
Sky couldn't help himself as he collapsed onto the bed he and Sydney had once shared. He was so tired, so wary. After the funeral and graveside service and the dinner at the academy, he'd picked the kids up from Jack and Ally's and had brought them home. While S.J. was taking his bath, Sky had sat on the couch cuddling his daughters. Kayla seemed so quiet and thoughtful, and Serena had just been downright withdrawn. S.J. hadn't said much either, just muttering how he wanted out of the stupid suit Sky had made him wear and how much he wanted a warm bath. He could remember leaving Serena with Kayla for a few moments when he'd heard S.J. get out of the tub and heading up to his son's room.
S.J. had just broken his heart all over again, because he remembered what it had been like to be told one of your parents had died in the line of duty. Sitting quietly on his son's bed, Sky had let S.J. make the first move for comfort. He felt tears welling in his eyes again as he remembered his son moving to sit in his lap as he sobbed out his heartbreak and anger over losing his mother. Sky remembered muttering that he understood more than S.J. would ever know how much it hurt.
When the storm had passed, Sky had tucked his sleeping son into his bed, kissing his forehead softly. He could remember so clearly the day Sydney had told him she was pregnant with their son. She'd been sick with the flu, or what they'd thought was the flu, for nearly two weeks. And then she'd gone to the doctor. When he'd gotten home from work that night, she'd been sitting in the middle of their bed, the covers surrounding her, her face a mixture of joy and fear.
"Syd, Babe, what's wrong?" Sky asked, climbing onto the bed with his wife of two years.
Looking up at him, Sydney licked her lips and let the tears she'd been holding back slide down her cheeks while she smiled at him. "I'm pregnant."
Sky had remembered the joy and the fear and the uncertainty, but most of all the love he'd felt for the life they'd created, for the life that had grown in Sydney's body as he watched his son sleep off his grief.
After S.J. had gone to bed, Sky had gone back down to round up the girls. Five year old Serena was asleep on the couch, her thumb in her mouth and tear tracks on her cheeks. Sky chocked back the sob that wanted out as he picked her up and carried her up to her room. She was his and Syd's miracle baby, the one they thought they wouldn't get. After Sydney's pregnancy and delivery of Kayla, there had been complications that the doctors had warned them very well could prevent Sydney from having more children, or that could very well take Sydney's life if she got pregnant again.
He had smiled down at his baby girl as he undressed her and put her pajamas on her then tucked her in bed, his thoughts straying to when the doctor had handed him Serena for the first time. She'd been a healthy seven pounds and a good pink in color. Plus, she had Sydney's lungs.
"Sydney, look at her," Sky breathed, staring down at the little girl with big blue eyes.
"Our miracle baby," Sydney laughed, reaching for her daughter. Sky smiled and lay the baby in his wife's outstretched arms, watching as Sydney cuddled and cooed at her.
"What are we gonna name her?" Sky asked, sitting down on the bed next to two of the four loves of his life.
"How does Serena Christina Tate sound?"
Sky couldn't help but nod. "Beautiful, just like her, and just like her mom."
Once the baby had been put to bed, Sky had gone back downstairs to find Kayla. He'd found her sitting on the swing on the front porch. At eight, she was just barely tall enough to climb onto the swing without help. Sitting down next to her, Sky rocked the swing gently, his eyes never leaving her tiny face, which was scrunched up in grief and streaked red from her crying.
"She use to love swinging with me," Kayla had cried softly, scrubbing at her face to get the tears to go away. "She never sat on here with S.J. or Sere, only me, and you. She said it was something special between us, like how she had other special things with them."
Sky remembered nodding. "This place was special for the three of us, because your mom was sitting here when she told me she was pregnant with you, and the entire summer she carried you she would sit on this swing while S.J. played in the yard with Jackson, and read books to you and let you listen to lullabies."
"I miss her, Daddy. I miss her so much my heart hurts."
His tiny daughter's words had broken his heart almost as deeply as losing Sydney had. "I know, Baby, I know. I miss her too, but she's in heaven now, and she's watching over all of us."
"I want her to come home! I don't want her to be in heaven!" Kayla had cried, hard, even as Sky had pulled her into his arms and held on.
"I do too," he'd whispered. They had sat there for nearly an hour until Kayla had fallen asleep and Sky had carried her up to her room.
And now, all he felt like was lying in bed and never getting out again. But it was his love for his children, and his love for Sydney that told him he'd do anything but that. He'd get up, every day until the end, and make sure their children were well adjusted and grew up happy and healthy. They would remember their mother had loved them, and though he'd never be able to make the ache go away for any of them, he knew he'd do his best so that the ache lessened with time.
"You miss him, don't you?" Sydney asked as they lay in bed, having just put the kids to bed and finished cleaning up World War Three that had erupted in their living room over Crayons not being shared.
"Who?" Sky asked, kissing the top of her head and sliding his arms around her.
"Your dad. Every time you get quiet looking at the kids, I can see it in your eyes."
Sky smiled sadly and hugged her closer. "Yes, I miss him, every day. I wish he could have seen our kids."
"But he already has, Sky. Every time he looks down from heaven, he sees them. He's proud of you, and the life you've made for yourself, and for us."
"I hope so."
"I know so. I love you."
"I love you too."
Closing his eyes, Sky smiled. "I know you're looking down on us, Sydney. Whenever I remember, I know you'll be there."