Disclaimer: It's Disney's sandbox. I just play here because it's fun.
Author's Note: Well, in the great tradition of things, this was another commissioned fic. Pink-Green-White-4Ever asked that I write a story involving Sky/Syd, Christmas, a trip home and some specific parent theories. I obliged and here we are. This is slightly AU and set post-Endings. Please keep your brain inside your head at all times and jumping on the bandwagon will be frowned upon.
By Etcetera Kit
Trains move quickly to the journey's end.
Destinations are we begin again.
Ships go sailing far across the sea,
Trusting starlight to get where they need to be.
So the holidays had come once again. Michael Corbett smiled to himself as he stapled the outdoor Christmas lights to the roof of his house. He always spent the weekend after Thanksgiving dealing with the outdoor decorations. His nephew—the world's biggest wimp, considering he now led a SPD squad of Power Rangers—always opted to stay inside with Maya, helping set up their artificial tree and taking orders about where the various garlands and bric-a-brac went. He and Maya had been married for close to twenty years, but had no children.
The cold air felt brisk and his breath came out in white puffs. Snow was in the air and, like a little kid he couldn't wait for the first snowfall of winter. But there was a bittersweet quality to the Christmas season, a nostalgia and pang that he always felt. Leo, his little brother, had loved the holidays more than he did, if that was possible. Mike snorted, remembering the elaborate Christmases just after Leo and Kendrix got married. If anything, Leo's Clark Griswold tendency got worse after Sky had been born.
Ah well, his little brother had died fighting—like he would have wanted. Besides, that had been fifteen years ago. Dwelling on the past wasn't going to help. He concentrated on stapling the remainder of the string of lights to the roof. There was reason to look forward to this Christmas—for the first time in over ten years Kendrix was coming to Earth to be with them.
Mike glanced over the side of the roof. Sky was out on the lawn, wrapped in a heavy jacket and glancing up at him. "Yeah?" he called back, aware that he was precariously perched on the roof and moving incorrectly would send him sliding into the shrubbery below.
"Aunt Maya told me to run this past you." Sky paused, looking a little awkward. For someone who was twenty-one years old and had a life of his own, it amazed Mike that, when he was home, his nephew still deferred to his authority. Not that he had any authority, since Maya ran their household and just dusted him off and propped him up in the living room when something came up that she didn't want to deal with.
"And that is?"
"Syd's family is having a big party on Christmas Eve, during the day. She wants me to go with her, because, apparently, her family is crazy."
He knew who Syd was—the Pink Ranger on his team. From what he understood, Sky got along with or, at least, tolerated his teammates. They were a team of rangers, they should become friends and socialize outside of SPD. Mike briefly thought back to his own days as a ranger, the odd circumstances and events… but they had become friends, nonetheless. Six wildly diverse people forced to act as a team? Stranger things had happened.
"I don't see why that would be a problem," he replied, continuing the stapling. "You know your aunt's traditions go on after dark."
Sky said something in response, but Mike didn't catch it. His nephew went back in the house. He sighed to himself. In all the years since he and Maya had let Sky live with them, he'd always mulled over in his mind how the situation happened. Fifteen years ago, Leo, Kendrix and Sky had been a family, living on Earth in Newtech City, Leo and Kendrix working for SPD in different divisions… and then the mirror alien killed Leo. Nothing was the same. Nothing could be the same. Kendrix withdrew into herself and lasted two more years on Earth. She ran and Mike offered to take guardianship of Sky. It wasn't fair to ask an eight-year-old to leave his school and friends, just because his mother couldn't stand being on Earth.
Kendrix agreed with little persuasion.
And here they were. Mike and Maya had raised Sky as their own. Kendrix only came to Earth once every few years. In the early years, Maya had tried to reason with Kendrix, pleading that she couldn't just abandon her son. But the hurt ran too deep and the chasm between them grew. Sky hardly asked about his mother anymore, just accepted that his home was with Mike and Maya. A part of him had always wondered why, in his adolescent years, Sky hadn't decided that he was going to Mirinoi to be with his mother. Mike's heart broke when the only conclusion he came to was that Sky knew that Kendrix wouldn't accept him, wouldn't help him or give him shelter.
What had happened?
He wished he knew, since the entire situation was so unlike the Kendrix he had known.
Letting out a long breath, he continued to fiddle with the lights, the smells of fresh baking coming from the kitchen and loud Christmas music blasting through the windows.
One Month Later—Christmas Eve
Sydney Drew was ready to scream. If her family wasn't already weird enough, they were doing a great impression of being aliens who took over human bodies. Great Aunt Millie stood in the kitchen and told everyone that they were baking wrong, while Aunt Judy was already on his fifth martini. Her crazy cousin Donnie was festooning people with foil to prevent the "voices" from getting to them, and her Uncle Vinnie was loudly reminiscing about "back in his day." These people acted like a snobby rich family from the 1950s… and others of them acted like 1920s gangsters.
She slipped out of the kitchen, not wanting to be mistaken for a cookie and get covered in sprinkles, and ran straight into her Uncle Ryan. Her parents had worked for Lightspeed almost twenty years ago and, through Lightspeed, had been how Uncle Ryan and her mother, his little sister, had been reunited. Despite being raised by demons, he was one of the only normal people here.
"I subdued Harry the Horse," he said, a twinkle in his blue eyes. "And watch out for Damien and Lonnie—they opened a present today and got ray guns."
"Fantastic." She was really starting to regret inviting Sky to this party. "Listen, have you seen Sky? He should be here by now, but Aunt Judy refuses to turn down the Bing Crosby, so I can't hear the doorbell." The last bit came out as a grumble.
"Oh, your friend from work?" Ryan asked. "He's in the front hall talking to Carter."
"You let Dad talk to him?" she screeched, and hurried around him, through the crowds of people to the front hall. Her father was a blue collar worker—had been a firefighter his entire life—but his idea of cool things to say and funny jokes was severely outdated. Oh God, what if he decided to start telling Sky his light bulb jokes? She'd never live down the embarrassment.
Well, Uncle Ryan's information had been correct, at any rate. Sky was in the front hall slipping out of his jacket and scarf, while her father was chatting about something. And Sky didn't look ready to shoot himself after spending thirty seconds with her dad. Either he had more tolerance than she did or he didn't find moldy jokes reason to wince.
Plastering a smile on her face, she said, "Hi Sky."
He turned to her, looking bemused. Bemused? Who looked bemused after being subjected to her father? Apparently Sky. "Hey, Syd," he replied.
"Sydney," her father interjected. "You didn't tell me your boyfriend was a Red Ranger."
Carter Grayson, ex-Lightspeed Red Ranger, current firefighter, and still, after all these years, unable to subtly bring something up. Syd willed herself not to flush. "Dad, he's not my boyfriend," she said through clenched teeth. Did he not understand that she could have a male friend? No. "And he was our Blue Ranger until a month ago. I haven't been home in the past month, so I wouldn't have had a chance to tell you."
"No need to get defensive," her father said mildly. "I'll go find your mother." He disappeared into the crowd in the living room and dining room. If her mother had any sense, she was hiding somewhere. However, most of the people jammed into their house were extended relatives of her mother's. Grandpa Bill had yet to show up, but if he had any sense, he was also avoiding this chaos.
"Want to introduce me?" Sky asked, looking around the crowded house with some interest. Well that was something new. She ordinarily avoided family gatherings like this, and she knew that Bridge's family had the tendency to do the same thing at Hanukah. Did he not have huge family events like this that always happened, and would continue to happen in the face of apocalypse or nuclear fallout?
"Sure," she said slowly. "Be forewarned that these people are crazy."
He laughed lightly. What was going on? "I'm sure they've got nothing on my Aunt Maya—she's Mirinite and still follows a lot of their earth-based religion." He paused and looked around the living room. "Besides, my family's not huge like this, or at least doesn't live this close together. It's just me and my aunt and uncle on holidays."
Curious-er and curious-er. Uncle Ryan picked that exact moment to tumble out of the kitchen, a sugar cookie in one hand. How he managed to weasel a freshly-baked sugar cookie from the tipsy, territorial bunch in the kitchen was beyond her.
"Hi," Ryan said, sticking out his non-cookie holding hand. "I'm Ryan Mitchell, Syd's uncle." Sky shook his hand, the bemused expression back. He gestured into the kitchen with the cookie. "Avoid that woman," he pointed to Aunt Judy. "She just asked if you're single. I told her that you currently act as a companion to your shut-in grandmother."
And then the former Titanium Ranger disappeared again.
"Your parents were with Lightspeed?" Sky asked, showing no signs of being disturbed by Uncle Ryan's bit of information and advice. Then again, most people had heard of Ryan Mitchell. He was a demon anthropologist by education and a novelist by trade. Sky was an avid reader, so it wouldn't surprise Syd if he'd read some of Ryan's books—they were insane action demon-hunts, right up any guy's alley.
"Yeah," she grumbled. "My dad was the Red Ranger, my mom the Pink. Uncle Ryan was the Titanium Ranger… my grandfather was in charge of the organization." She shrugged. "Some people said being a ranger is in my blood."
To her surprise, Sky genuinely smiled. "My parents and my aunt and uncle were rangers too."
Everyone knew that Sky's father had been the first SPD Red Ranger, but the rest of his relatives? That was the first she'd heard of it. "Which team?" Many ranger teams had secret identities and only cadets in ranger-training were allowed to study the archives. Even then, the information learned remained classified.
"Galaxy," he replied simply. "My dad was Red, my mom was Pink. My aunt Yellow and my uncle Magna Defender."
Who knew that Sky's parents were rangers before ever getting to SPD? She assumed that this parents met through being rangers—probably the same with his aunt and uncle… just like her parents. Briefly, she thought back to when she asked him to attend this party. The others had excuses—Z had been invited to spend the holidays with Jack and Ally. Hanukah coincided with Christmas this year, so Bridge was busy with family commitments. That left Sky and she'd honestly expected him to come up with an excuse, based on the fact that it was Christmas Eve and all.
Sky sighed. "Why do you need someone to go with you?"
"Because my family's crazy!" she squeaked.
He sighed again. "Everyone's family is crazy. My family is crazy."
"Your family doesn't have ex-mob members that still carry guns, and a cousin who wears foil on his head to protect him from the aliens, and a great aunt that harps about who she's leaving her money to, and another aunt that's face is plastic because she's had so many facelifts."
He blinked. "Point taken." He paused. "What time is the party?" Syd gave him the time. He let out a long breath. "I'll talk to my aunt, but I'm not making any promises."
She'd learned a lot in that brief conversation. He didn't live with his mother, like she'd assumed since learning that his father had been killed in the line of duty. His mother lived on Mirinoi and worked for the GSA, doing ecological research. He lived with his aunt and uncle, who had a house just outside Newtech City. He'd offered nothing more than that.
She nodded. "I didn't know that."
"I don't exactly advertise the information—they were a secret identities team." Sky gave her an appraising look. "Besides, you didn't tell me your parents were with Lightspeed."
"You didn't ask," she sniffed. "And before you ask, Drew was my stage name and I just never went back to Grayson after joining SPD."
His laughter was cut short by the reemergence of her father. He had her mother in tow. Dana Grayson was a pediatrician and generally a fairly stoic woman, except in the face of the relatives. There was a high flush in her cheeks, indicating she'd probably hit the Jack Daniels, while Aunt Judy was sitting around drinking martinis that were mostly vodka.
This party was going from bad to worse.
Schuyler Tate glanced outside at the warm, late afternoon sunlight. He'd have to head home soon, in order to be on time for Aunt Maya's twilight Christmas Eve traditions. She performed the elemental Winter Solstice ceremony, something that was supposed to invoke good fortune for spring. He and Uncle Mike tended to endure the elaborate chanting in the native Mirinite tongue, and comforted themselves by thinking of the turkey dinner that awaited them when the ceremony ended.
He listened to the hubbub around him, savoring the feeling of being surrounded by so many people. Aunt Maya's family members all lived on Mirinoi and Uncle Mike's parents had passed away… with his father gone, the Corbetts had diminished in numbers and tended to stick to their own nuclear families. It was… amazing to see so many extended relatives gathered in one place. He had thought that family get-togethers were a thing of black-and-white movies and sitcoms, not something that people actually did.
Despite Syd's warnings that her family was crazy, he'd found that the "normal" relatives outnumbered the questionably sane ones. The family came from all walks of life and were just enjoying each other's company. A part of him longed for a family like this… or at least a mother that cared enough to spend Christmas with her brother-in-law and son… and maybe remember to send him a birthday card. When his mother left for Mirinoi after his father's death, he'd thought the situation would be temporary. Mom would come back and they'd be a family again. After years of visits only hours long, he realized that Uncle Mike and Aunt Maya really were his family now. His mother was too hurt to be his mother.
It hurt him to realize that, but he'd dealt with the pain, throwing himself into SPD and becoming a ranger, trying to erase the sorrow. Now, he still felt the ache… but there were other things. After the last tumultuous year, he didn't think he had the energy for strong emotions.
"I will always be here for you, Sky, whether you like it or not."
"I know Uncle Mike… sometimes I wish you were my father."
"But then our lives wouldn't be the same. We wouldn't be the people we are." His uncle gave him a stern glance, eyes twinkling. "Never waste time on 'what-ifs' and wishes. Only you can make miracles happen in your life—and those require work."
"Hey." Syd walked up to him, holding two cups of punches. Upon seeing his wary expression, she added, "It's not Aunt Judy's home brew."
"That's good to know."
He glanced to the two cousins—about ten-years-old—chasing each other with ray guns. He hadn't grown up with cousins to chase, play with, beat up… "You're lucky," he said softly.
"Lucky?" Syd snorted. "I'd call this torture."
Sky shook his head. Why did they take so much for granted? Syd took her family for granted, never wondering what might happen if they weren't there. He had taken his own expertise and his father's legacy for granted, assuming he'd be handed the same thing. It was later that he learned he had to work much harder for what he wanted. Arrogance and genes had nothing to do with him.
"I don't have family. We don't do anything like this," he shrugged.
"I'll bet your house is quieter."
"I won't argue with that."
They fell silent for a moment, the voices and laughter a gentle balm washing over him. Only you can make miracles happen in your life. He'd been saving money for some time, wanting to surprise his aunt and uncle with a trip to Mirinoi. Aunt Maya wanted to visit with her family and he wanted to meet the various relatives he had there. Moreover, he wanted to see the sabers in the stone, the power source… the place where his parents had met… But he also wanted to see his mother, wanted to confront her, wanted to know how deep the hurt ran…
She'd made plans to come for this Christmas and cancelled at the last moment. The tragic part was that none of them were surprised. They'd met the news of her trip with anticipation and happiness, hoping that she'd return and stop being a scared rabbit. For a brief moment, he'd held the small flame of hope that his mother might care about him. Then the flame had been snuffed out and nothing had changed.
Perhaps he would change it—this summer on the trip to Mirinoi.
Syd was looking at him, blue eyes shining with warmth and caring. She had introduced him to her family… what if he were to return the favor? Would she be interested in that? He'd never thought of her as more than a friend, and didn't friends invite each other on trips? It made sense… he couldn't tell the future of anything, but there was only one way to find out.
He cleared his throat. "I'm planning a trip to Mirinoi this summer," he said slowly. "My aunt wants to catch up with some of her relatives and a lot of my aunt and uncle's old friends live there." He took a deep breath. "Maybe you'd like to come with us?"
"To Mirinoi?" Syd thought for a moment. "But what would I wear?"
He laughed. "Whatever you want. My aunt and uncle know all the bigwigs—you could probably get anywhere on the planet you wanted."
"I can't refuse that." She looked at him seriously. "Sky, I'd be honored to go with you." She threw her arms around his neck, giving him a bone-cracking hug. Awkwardly, he settled his arms around her waist, realizing he could get used to hugging her more often.
Later, as he drove home, he realized that his life and his place was here—on Earth… in Newtech City. He belonged here. Miracles might happen and he was willing to try… but, now, on Christmas Eve, he just wanted to be with the people who he knew loved him.
When it seems that we have lost our way,
We find ourselves again on Christmas Day.
13 – 14 November 2006