When Will It Be Me
Chapter 1:
Breaking Free
By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: May 11, 2006

Summary: Sydney Drew has always thought that her life was complete, until another bad date opens her eyes to something she didn't see before.
Rating: T (for now)
Ships: S/S
Disclaimer: I don't on the song, it's by Yasmeen. I don't own SPD or anything Ranger related besides the pictures I have of me with Johnny, Chris, Alycia and Monica! PLEASE DON'T SUE! I'm a poor college student who writes to relieve stress!

AN: And now a quick note from Etcetera Kit"PLEASE DONATE $3000 DOLLARS TO GET ETCETERA KIT A STARBUCKS' FRANCHISE. THANK YOU!" Seriously though, thank you doesn't seem enough to say. EK has been a tremendous source of encouragement, right along side BloomingViolets. This past year has been an amazing ride, with so many unexpected things, and I thank both of you for all that you do for me! I also give co-ownership of this story to EK --winks--

I see the couples are walkin' by
Feel like I
Don't wanna be alone today
So glad no one can see what I hide
Deep inside
How it feels to be
The girl who never gets the right guy
Tell me why
When there's so much I've got to give
I wake up reaching out in the night
Ready to hold him tight
Til I realize
That nobody is there

When will it be me?
When will I be the one,
Somebody's dreaming of?
When's it gonna be?
When will I find my heart,
Lyin' inside the arms
That never let me go?
I'd really like to know
When will it be me?

-- Yasmeen, When Will It Be Me --

--

"And then, Brady scored the final goal, but it should have been me!" the dark-haired man announced loudly, picking up his glass of wine and almost spilling it as he raised it to his lips. He downed it in less than two seconds.

One perfectly sculpted eyebrow rose. She's never been on a date where she'd seen a guy drink this much. Carefully, she brought the white linen napkin to her mouth, trying to hide the sigh that wanted to escape. So far this evening, all he'd done was go on and on about his high school hockey team and then the league teams the country club was sponsoring. At twenty-five, Sydney liked to think her high school days, even though they'd been spent at SPD, were well behind her. It seemed Ewan was still living in his carefree days, unlike most people she knew.

"Did I tell you my dad got me this really sweet job at his law firm? I'm going to be shadowing his senior partner. I guarantee I'll make his job mine before long, and then I'll be running the show!"

Sydney rolled her eyes when he motioned for the waiter to bring him another glass of wine, even though he'd already had a bottle and a half. "You do have a designated driver for tonight, don't you?" she asked, only to be ignored.

"So, what exactly do you do with your free time, Sydney?" Ewan questioned, sucking down some more wine.

"I bring in criminals."

Ewan blinked. "Excuse me?

The Pink Ranger rolled her eyes and leaned her chin on an upturned palm. "I work for SPD."

"You're actually still doing that?" he asked, making Sydney narrow her eyes at him. "I mean, I would have thought you'd be working for your father by now. Why would anyone in their right mind, with as much money as you've got, work when you could have your parents pay for everything?" he shook his head.

Sydney blinked. He wanted to know why she worked for SPD? "I enjoy the work I do. My parents might be rich, but I don't want to depend on them forever."

"Oh please, your parents are so loaded you're set for life!" he laughed loudly, causing a hush to fall over the restaurant.

Choking back a scathing retort, Sydney threw her napkin on the table. She grabbed her glass of wine and tossed the contents in Ewan's face. She slammed the glass on the table, grabbed her purse, and stormed out of the restaurant.

--

"Another bad date?"

She couldn't help but sigh and nod, plopping down on the couch across from where two of her teammates sat. She brushed a few stray curls away from her face and looked at Bridge and Z, who were cuddled together. Z's legs were tucked under her and she leaned against Bridge's shoulder. Bridge appeared to be asleep, but Syd knew that he was awake and listening. His fingers were caressing Z's shoulder.

"I'm afraid so," she muttered. "I mentioned that I was working at S.P.D. and he started in on how I should be working for my father, and letting my parents pay for everything."

A frown appeared on Bridge's face while Z scowled. "What did you say to that?" Z growled.

Sydney had to smile at that. "Before or after I tossed the wine in his face?" Z began laughing like a hyena while Bridge's jaw dropped. "Seriously though, I told him I don't want to depend on my parents forever. Then he made a crack about me being set for life. Then I threw the wine in his face."

"What's wrong, Syd? You've been on a million and one dates lately, but every night you come home early. Aren't you having any fun?" Bridge suddenly asked, his blue eyes staring into her own.

The Pink Ranger silently pondered his question. Most of her dates started out as fun. Somehow, though, the dates never lasted long enough for the guy to drop her back off at the Academy. She and the New Tech City Cab company were on a first name basis.

"I think the better question is, is why aren't you having fun? What's stopping you from enjoying yourself?" Z started, sitting up and facing Sydney.

For the Pink Ranger the answer wasn't really easy to come by. She wanted to believe it was the guys she went out with, but in retrospect, she knew that wasn't the answer. No, the simplest, and most true answer she could give Z's question, was that every guy she dated didn't measure up to White Knight she'd always dreamed of being with.

"It doesn't matter, Z. It's my problem and I'll solve it," Syd smiled softly, but then frowned. "By the way, where's our esteemed leader?"

"Last I saw him, he was heading up to the observation deck, and he didn't look happy," Bridge yawned.

Z and Syd shared a look. "I guess that means that I have to go cheer him up?" Syd grinned, before pushing up from the couch and almost skipping from the room.

--

When she stepped onto the observation deck, she wrapped her arms around her body and shivered. It had been misting when she came back from her date, now it was lightly sprinkling, and the temperature had dropped. There were others outside, but most of them stood in small groups or were heading back in. Her eyes roamed over everyone until she found the lone figure at the far end of the deck. Shaking her head, she began a slow walk toward him, taking time to observe the way he stood, hunched over the railing.

More and more lately, she'd been noticing that he was pulling away from the team, spending more time on his own, doing his own thing. Since Jack had left, he'd spent more time with her, Bridge and Z—more than he'd ever spent with her and Bridge, before Jack and Z arrived. Shaking her head, she stopped walking when she found herself standing next to him.

When he didn't acknowledge her presence, she nudged his arm with her elbow, and watched him turn his head just enough to look at her from the corner of his eye. "Yes?"

"You're standing alone in the rain, any particular reason why?" she softly responded, her eyes taking in the ocean in the distance bolts of lighting were hitting the water.

"Because I feel like it?"

Syd nodded. That was a typical Sky answer. While he'd gotten better over the years at letting people in and being nicer to them, he still managed to pull out the sarcasm every now and then to let her know it wasn't completely gone. "And why are you feeling like standing in the rain?"

"Just because."

The blonde-haired woman rolled her eyes before she took another step closer to him, her eyes on the horizon. They were standing side by side, mere centimeters apart. Sometimes, that tiny space felt like the Grand. They were so different on the surface, but deep down, she knew they were very similar. Both of them were loyal, honest, and held the job they did in high regard.

Sighing, Sydney did something she only did when they were alone, she leaned against his side, her arm threading through his. "Sky, what's wrong? You've been... distant lately. Did we do something wrong?"

He turned then, so she finally got to see his face as he looked down at her. To anyone else, he looked like he was in complete control. To Sydney, the sadness in his eyes was overwhelming. "It's not you. I've just had a lot on my mind lately, a lot of stuff that doesn't relate to SPD."

"I see." She didn't want to analyze too closely why she hurt so much that he hadn't come to her to talk, like he used to. "I guess I'll see you in the morning then," she whispered, turning to leave.

"Sydney, wait," he called softly, reaching out to touch her arm. "I..."

"Its okay, Sky, I understand. Not everyone's life should revolve around SPD, right? That's what we've been preaching to you for years. I'll see you in the morning," she whispered, leaning up to kiss his cheek before she headed back into the building.

--

"Wow, where are you going this early in the morning?" Z called when Sydney walked into the Common Room just after seven-thirty. The Pink Ranger was dressed in her usual running attire - a pair of pink sweats and grey sweatshirt, her hair in a tight braid, and her iPod clipped to her waistband.

"Well, since we aren't on duty today, I figured I'd go for a run. I need some fresh air to clear my head," Sydney told her roommate. She moved to the food synthesizer and punched in the combination for two bottles of water.

The Yellow Ranger nodded, and Syd knew that Z understood her need for some time alone. She'd been up most of the night, unable to sleep, and Z in turn, had been up with her. Something had been bothering her, and while Syd knew Z couldn't quite put her finger on it, she also knew her friend knew that something was definitely going on.

"Where are Bridge and Sky?" Syd asked, slowly heading for the door while still trying to make conversation.

"Bridge and Boom are testing some new equipment for us, and Sky left about ten minutes ago. I guess he's going out on a day long date with that Leslie chick Jack set him up with," Z said, shrugging her shoulders in a nonchalant manner. Her eyes, however, were focused on Sydney's face, so she didn't miss the way Syd's expression seemed to darken, a fact Sydney acknowledged with a slight nod.

"I see. Well, I'll be back in a bit. I have my morpher if you guys need me."

"Bye Syd!" Z responded, as Sydney walked out of the room.

Ten minutes later, Sydney found herself entering the woods behind the academy, where the cargo net and mud courses were set up. She waved to a few of the cadets training before she slipped onto one of the not so worn paths. Sky had found the path on accident during one of their training exercises and she found herself prone to come back and use it more and more when she needed to get away from everyone.

Sydney laughed when stopped to take a drink of water from the bottles that were nestled in the belt she often wore during workouts. Not many who knew of her, or of her reputation as the SPD Princess, would believe what she looked like now, sweaty and tired, standing on a path drinking water.

'Just another hidden side of Sydney Drew that no one but my teammates sees' she thought wryly, before heading further back on the path. As she jogged, Syd let her mind wander to the reason for her coming out into the woods. Her love life had been bugging the hell out of her for weeks now, and she knew she needed to sort it all out, before something blew up in her face.

Her conversation with Bridge and Z from the night before came back to her, as did the one she'd had with a childhood friend not long ago. In the last seven years, she'd had four serious boyfriends and what felt like a million first dates.

"Let's see, first there was Alan, the semi-professional football player," she thought out loud, jogging slowly down the hill to the beach below. "All he wanted was a piece of ass. Thank God Sky arrived back at the academy when he did and parked next to us." A shudder went through her at the thought of Sky nearly bashing the man's head in for trying to force himself on her. Up to that point in their friendship, she hadn't ever seen the Red Ranger that mad before. He had steamed about it for nearly two weeks and had told her flat out, in that older brother tone of his - the one he used more with Z than he did her, that he wanted to screen her boyfriends from then on. While it had been downright embarrassing to have him yelling that at her at the time, she recognized it now as a very sweet, very Sky-like gesture.

"And then there was Jason, the painter. He was all nice and romantic, until he found out who my father was and kept asking to meet with him so he could get funding for his gallery of nude models." She shook her head at that.

The next guy that popped into her head was Brian. He'd been a secretary of something or another in the Mayor's office and had a fascination with the fact that she'd been a model. "Not to mention, he seemed to be stuck on the fact that he had been named 'Mr. New Tech City' six years in a row. Yes, what an accomplishment," Syd muttered, plopping down in the sand. That was another one where she was thankful Sky had been there. Brian had kept bugging her over and over again to get press shots and interviews with her and the other Rangers for reasons she still didn't know. It had gotten so bad she had been nearly ready to get a restraining order against him. That is, until Sky had stepped in and had a private conversation with him. After that, Brian had steered clear of her. To this day, she still hadn't pried out of Sky what exactly he'd said to Brian, but she knew it had been enough to scare the dark-haired man, as the look on his face when he'd left the Academy that night had been one of fear.

"And my last serious boyfriend was..." she muttered, thinking out loud. She wracked her brain for a name, and shivered when it popped into her head. "Lionel. God, how could I forget Lionel? Just like Alan, all he wanted was a piece of ass, or more specifically, the bragging rights to having nailed a Power Ranger, particularly a Pink Ranger." That had been all Sky's fault when the relationship had ended so suddenly. She thought things had been going good, and all of a sudden, Lionel had stopped calling, stopped visiting, and stopped accepting her calls. When she finally had gotten to talk to him, at a charity event hosted by Jack and Ally's homeless foundation, she'd been told that Sky had basically threatened to lock Lionel up in one of the SPD holding cells if he didn't leave her be.

She could still remember the way Sky had just stood there while she raged, and then had calmly explained to her that there was no way in hell he was going to let her near Lionel again, especially since all he wanted was to have sex with her. "He knows I can take care of myself, why the heck did he get involved? It's not like I'm incapable of handling tough situations for heaven's sake. Now why the hell can't I find somebody stable, someone who has my best interests in mind; someone who will look out for me, take care of me but won't smother me?"

She sat there pondering her dilemma for a few more minutes before she got up and headed back up the hill towards the academy.

--

Sydney was stretched out on one of the couches that evening, reading one of her favorite romance novels, when the doors to the Common Room slid opening, revealing a haggard-looking Sky. Syd let one eyebrow arch in question as she peered at him over her book. She watched him trudge into the Common Room, his shoulders slumped. He unzipped his black leather jacket, the one she'd gotten him the Christmas before, tossed it over the back of the other couch, and then plopped down on the couch, his head tilted back so he could stare at the ceiling.

"Rough day?"

When she received no answer, Sydney went back to her book, choosing to let him start the conversation again if he wanted. The room remained silent for nearly ten minutes before Sky sighed heavily and shifted, so that he was facing her. He sat like that for a few seconds before he spoke up.

"Syd?"

Rolling her eyes, Sydney lowered her book to her chest and looked at him, and caught him staring at her in that creepy, you spilt something on yourself kind of way. "What?"

"Can I... ask you something?"

"You can ask, doesn't mean I'm going to answer."

"I need an honest opinion."

Sydney's eyes narrowed in on Sky's face, his gaze lowering to the floor. "What is it Sky?"

"Do you see me as someone you could date?"

If she'd been standing, she'd have fallen on her butt. If she'd been drinking something, it would have gotten spit across the room. Sydney was infinitely glad she was sitting down when he asked that question. "Excuse me?"

"What is it about me that seems to make girls not want to stick around for more than one date?"

The Pink Ranger found herself at a loss for words, which was rare, as she usually had a comeback for most any situation. Blinking rapidly, Sydney sat up and turned more in the direction of where Sky was sitting on the other couch staring at the floor still. "Of course I'd date you! What girl in her right mind wouldn't?"

"Then why do all the girls I take on dates not stick around for more than one date?" Sky asked her, bringing his gaze up so he could look at her.

"Because they obviously have no brain in their heads to realize what's right in front of them," Sydney told him, her voice softening in tone. "Sky, you are a very caring, loyal, protective man. If a girl can't see her heart would be safe with you, then she doesn't have one to begin with. Now, what the hell brought all of this on? I thought you weren't looking for a serious relationship, Mr. I'm-too-busy-being-Red-Ranger-to-hang-with-my-friends?"

Sky glared at her for her comment, but let it slide, his face softening even as he did. "I'm just... I don't know."

Shaking her head, Syd set her book on the couch, stood up and moved to his couch, sitting next to him. "Sky, talk to me."

"I guess... I think I've gotten to the point where I'm ready to settle down, you know? Jack and Ally have been married for three years this year; Bridge is getting ready to propose to Z soon, you're actively dating..." Sky let his voice trail off, while he looked at her, smiling sadly when she took his hand. "I guess I just feel like I'm the only one of us not preparing for the future. I seriously don't want to be Red Ranger for the rest of my life, or to say that's my biggest accomplishment. I want a family – kids, a dog, someone who loves me."

Sydney's expression was compassionate as she squeezed his hand. "We all want that, Sky, but sometimes, maybe its best if you didn't try to find it, but rather, let it find you," she started, tilting her head to the side, realizing she needed to start following her own advice. "Look at me, I'm dating, yes, but I still haven't found the right one. And who knows, maybe I won't ever find the right one."

Sky reached out with his free hand and brushed a strand of silky blonde hair behind her ear. "Yes you will, you're too loving, too passionate, not to have someone be the right one for you. You're problem is you date men that are completely beneath you, ones who don't challenge you. I know you Syd; you need someone who challenges you to be better than you think you are, someone who needs to be just as stubborn and loyal as you are. You'll find him."

"You need to take your own advice there, oh esteemed leader," she grinned, hoping that she had cheered him up a little bit. "You know, it's funny you should mention dating. During my run this morning, I took a trip down memory lane."

"Oh?"

"Remember all my ex-boyfriends?" she grinned as Sky rolled his eyes and groaned.

"Don't remind me!" he laughed. "I swear to God, I will never understand what you saw in any of them?"

Sydney bit her lip. "Safety."

Sky looked startled by her answer. Quickly, his eyes met hers, silently questioning her.

She was embarrassed to admit it, but she had to if she was ever going to move past this. "They were safe to date, in the sense that I didn't have to worry about long term commitment. I'm afraid of getting my heart broken. I think I knew, deep down, with them, I wouldn't get hurt, that they were safe to date because I knew they couldn't hurt me."

The Red Ranger reached out and caressed the fingers of his free hand down her cheek. "Sydney, you can't keep hiding your heart. You've got to break free sometime, spread your wings. If you don't look, you might miss out."

"I think I've accepted that," she whispered, leaning against the couch, Sky's hand still firmly grasped in hers. "Sky?"

"What?"

"Why can't I find somebody who I know will look after me, who'll challenge me? Why do I keep picking the ones I perceive as safe?"

"I don't know."

Sky was just about to comment further when Sydney surprised them both. "Why can't I find somebody like you?"

--

"Alright kiddo, spill the beans," Jack said when he and Syd sat down for lunch. Once a week, the five of them tried to eat out with each other, just to keep the bond they had tight. Unfortunately, Bridge and Z had been called in by Cruger for an emergency. Sky had a date with one of Ally's college friends—that Jack had arranged for him. So it was just the two of them.

"What do you mean?" Syd asked, startled by his question.

"I've talked to Z and Bridge; they've said you've been moping for nearly three weeks now. What gives?" the former Red Ranger got straight to the point. Jack looked sort of ashamed of himself. Sydney knew it had to do with the fact that she was adept at hiding stuff, and the fact that he was usually teasing the hell out of Sky when they all got together. Knowing Jack as well as she did, she understood that he thought of her as his little sister, and therefore felt the need to protect her.

Sydney rolled her eyes at him and picked up her menu, hoping to give herself a little more time to compose her thoughts. Jack, unfortunately, wasn't having it. His hand came up and gently pulled the menu away from her face. "Sydney."

"Really Jack, I'm fine. Everyone goes through these kinds of things every now and again. So I haven't been my usual perky self, I'm entitled to a break, aren't I?" she asked.

Jack just stared at her in the quiet, serious way he had, the one that made her feel like he was staring right down to her soul. "Sydney, you forget who you're talking to. Tell me."

"I'm fine, really," she told him, as cheerily as she could. The look Jack continued to give her made her cave in. The former Red Ranger had a way with her that none of the others did; he was always able to tell when she was keeping something from them. "I've just been thinking a lot about the future," she murmured, her eyes dropping to the table. "I've had a lot of growing up to do the last couple of weeks. It's not something any of you can fix, even though I know you think you can. It's something I have to do on my own."

Taking a deep breath, Sydney looked up again, and saw Jack staring at her. She was about to say something when some commotion started at the other end of the room. They gave each other a look before both of them stood up and wandered over. Sydney reached for her morpher, which contained her SPD badge, but found she didn't need it when she saw what was going on.

"You're a pathetic excuse for a man!" the young brunette yelled, throwing her napkin on the table before she stormed off out of the restaurant.

Both Sydney and Jack blinked in surprise when the young man stood up, his identity becoming clear to them. "Sky?" Jack piped up.

"Oh Lord," Sky muttered, shaking his head and avoiding the two of them by simply brushing past them, his destination the door.

"Syd, you go after him, I'll pay for our drinks," Jack told her, nudging her toward Sky. Sydney nodded and hurried after the Red Ranger, hoping she could catch him before he disappeared. Just as she bolted out the door, she saw Sky jogging across the street toward the park in the center of town. She felt torn – wait for Jack or go after Sky, but since she knew Jack had his cell phone with him, she decided to go after Sky and call Jack once she found out what was going on.

Carefully looking both ways, Sydney darted across the street and headed for where Sky had disappeared into the trees.

Ten minutes later, she found herself in the center of the park, where the stream pooled out into a small pond. The pond was mostly obscured from view by dense bushes and trees, but she could still see Sky standing on the edge, staring into the water. Quietly, she approached him, ready for anything. She wasn't sure if he knew she was there, but her instincts were leaning toward Sky being aware of her.

"Want to talk about it?" she whispered, stopping a good foot from him.

"Not really."

They stood there in silence, Sky watching the ducks float serenely on the pond's smooth surface while Sydney watched him carefully. Biting her lip, Sydney felt indecision fill her. On one hand, she wanted to respect his privacy and show her support of his need for silence; while on the other hand, curiosity was killing her. "Sky, talk to me," she whispered finally. The pain etched on his face told her that whatever had happened was something he was either not very proud of or it had surprised the hell out of him.

"She's right, I'm pathetic."

"No you're not!" Sydney snapped, reaching out to wrap her slim fingers around his wrist. Sky's head snapped toward her, an indecipherable look on his face. "Tell me what's wrong. You hardly ever keep things from me, why are you keeping this from me?"

"Because I don't know how to explain this to you Syd!" he snapped angrily at her, wrenching his wrist from her grasp.

Sydney stared at him with wide eyes. She was startled to see him lose his temper with her, especially when all she was trying to do was help him. Surely she was just overreacting to his anger; Sky had been angry at her a million times before for stupider things. Taking a deep breath, she just chalked it up to Sky being normal and let it roll off her. "Alright, tough guy, what the hell has gotten into you so suddenly?"

The Red Ranger merely glared at her, but continued his silence. Sydney could see the gears inside of his head turning while he tried to figure out what to say to her. Something had happened in the restaurant and she wanted to know what. The girl Sky had been with had a lot to answer for.

"Sydney, just leave me alone, please," he asked her, turning back to stare at the water. She shook her head, her eyes closing with the motion as she debated what to do about his mood. Heaving a sigh, she took three slow steps toward him and slid her arm around his waist, leaning against his side. She couldn't help the smile that blossomed on her face when his arm automatically tightened around her.

"I'm not leaving you alone, not when I know you're hurting," she told him, her voice soft. Sydney made the bold decision to look up at him defiantly, but she wasn't quite expecting him to be staring down at her so intently when she did.

The Pink Ranger swallowed, hard, when Sky's eyes bored into her own, making her feel as if he were looking deep into her soul. She was just barely aware of what was happening when Sky's head lowered to hers, his lips softly dancing with her own. She managed to inhale sharply before relaxing against him and letting herself feel what was happening.

Two strong arms were wrapped around her, one across her back, holding her tight to his body, while the other came up and cupped her cheek, angling her head as he sought to take the kiss deeper. For the first few moments, Sydney was lost in a daze, and then her brain started functioning and she realized Sky was kissing her. He was kissing her the same way she would have been inclined to kiss any of her boyfriends—not someone she'd been friends with for years. Yet, she didn't find the fact the least bit awkward. It almost felt... right somehow.

Just as abruptly as the kiss had begun Sky was wrenching his mouth away from her, his eyes wide with shock. When he realized his arms were still trapping her against his body, he let go and all but jumped back away from her. "Sydney, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

Sydney stumbled back a step on her own, her knees having lost all their starch. Unconsciously, one hand came up to her mouth, so that her fingertips grazed her lips where mere seconds before, Sky's lips had so expertly caressed them. "Sky..."

"God! I'm sorry!" he mumbled, shaking his head back and forth as he looked at her. Just from the look on his face, she could tell he was thinking the worst, that he was thinking he'd ruined their friendship. On the contrary, he'd just opened her eyes to something that had been staring her in the face for a while.

For weeks she'd been analyzing and struggling with questions she had only partially answered; now they were all answered. How ironic it was, she thought with amusement, that she'd answered her questions nearly three weeks ago but was just now realizing, understanding, and accepting the answer. She'd said so, out loud even, what she wanted. All it had taken was Sky's momentary loss of control to show her the light.

"Why are you sorry?" she asked him softly, watching his face take on a look of puzzlement. "Sky, I wasn't fighting you off, was I?"

"I shouldn't have done that, I shouldn't have taken advantage of that, I should have kept..."

"Sky," she started, stepping toward him, only to watch him step back. "Schuyler Tate, don't you dare move away from me when I'm speaking to you."

The tone of her voice had Sky stopping his backward retreat. He just looked at her, his eyes still wide, unsure what to expect. He swallowed hard when Sydney took a few measuring steps toward him, so that they were once again mere inches apart, and looked up at him, something indefinable dancing in her eyes. "Why did you kiss me, Sky?"

"I... that is to say... I... I had a moment of weakness?"

One slim eyebrow shot up as Sydney gave him a look that told him she wasn't buying his response. "Try again. Why did you kiss me?"

"Why do you want to know so badly?" he fired back, feeling boxed in all of a sudden. "I said I was sorry."

"Because I want to know how far I'm supposed to read into what just happened. I'm going to ask one more time, why did you just kiss me?" Sydney looked up at him, her eyes shining with hope.

"Because I like you." Sydney smiled and gave him a look that said 'Go on'. Sky sighed even as he reached up and brushed a stray strand of blonde hair out of her face and then cupped her cheek. "Because I want to be with you. Because every waking hour, and every hour spent in dreams, is filled with nothing but you. Because I didn't realize until this afternoon that the reason why I haven't gotten anywhere with any of the women I've been dating was because I've been comparing them to you, and they don't measure up."

Sydney just grinned. She knew he had a hell of a time expressing himself, especially in moments as intimate as this, so to hear him tell her was special in and of itself. "Sky..."

"I've ruined our friendship, haven't I? I let my emotions get in the way, and now I've destroyed the most important relationship in my life. God, Sydney, I'm so sorry!" he told her sincerely.

"Sky, you have nothing to be sorry for," she breathed. Slowly, she moved forward and wrapped her arms around his waist, her head coming to rest on his chest. She couldn't help but smile when his arms tightened around her, holding her close as if he thought she'd disappear. After several seconds of silence, she moved back a fraction of an inch so she could look up at him. Smiling, she lifted one hand up, her fingers sliding along his shoulder and up into his hairline before she nudged his head down to hers. Standing on tiptoes, Sydney pressed their lips together in a kiss just as sweet and loving as Sky's first one had been passionate and eye-opening.

"Syd?" he gasped softly when she pulled back.

"Hmm?"

"What was that for?" he asked, his voice hopeful.

Sydney grinned. "You aren't the only one who's come to some eye-opening conclusions the last couple of hours," she whispered, snuggling close to him. "Remember that day you asked me if I could see myself dating you?"

"Yeah."

"Remember what my answer was?"

"Yeah."

Sydney tightened her grip on him and inhaled deeply, savoring the aftershave she knew she'd grow to love as much as she'd grow to love him. "If you asked me again, you'd get the same answer." The Pink Ranger was startled when Sky pushed her to arm's length and stared down at her, a mixture of awe and longing in his eyes.

"Sydney?"

"Yeah?"

"Would you, by chance, like to go out with me on a date?"

"When?"

Sky thought about it for a moment. The annual Renaissance Fair was going on in Riverdale, which was about an hour's drive from New Tech City, and he knew Sydney loved that era. "Friday afternoon, would you like to drive up to the Renaissance Fair in Riverdale with me?"

"Sky?" He looked at her nervously, before he grinned when a bright smile appeared on her face. "I'd love to."

--

To be continued...