"Hey Sky, can I ask you something?" said Bridge, looking at his roommate upside down over the side of his bed.
"Shoot," Sky replied distractedly, flipping through the S.P.D. handbook. There were, it seemed, still parts of it that Z knew better than he did, and that wasn't going to fly.
"You know how you like me?"
That was a weird question, but then again, this was Bridge. Sky humored him. "Yeah?"
"Okay, but you know how you like me like me?"
…that one was weirder. What did that even mean? Sky looked over the top of his handbook and made a perplexed expression. Bridge stared back at him with an upended smile, perfectly innocent. Sky had been hoping that someday, Bridge would learn to explain his little rambling insanities with only subtle, non-verbal prompting, but today was apparently not that day. He sighed. "What does that mean, Bridge?"
"You know." He shrugged, shoulders rolling awkwardly against the mattress. "You like me like me. It's like you like me extra? Like…" He made a contemplative face, rubbing his chin with a gloved hand. "Like you have a crush on me?"
Sky surprised himself by choking despite the absence of any liquid from his respiratory tract. This went on for several seconds until Bridge, concerned, jumped up and thumped him on the back until his lungs regained proper working order. He swatted the helpful hands away, stared up into the green ranger's face in utter shock, and said "What!?" in the most incredulous voice he could muster.
Bridge was taken aback. "Sorry. Do you not want to talk about it?"
Sky gaped, shuffled a few inches away from Bridge on the edge of his bed, and shifted his gaze to stare helplessly at his discarded handbook on the floor. "How…what…" He collected himself and looked back at his roommate, refusing to let some random Bridge crack theory ruffle him like this. "What are you talking about? Why do you think I like you…that way?"
Bridge wrinkled his brow in confusion and scratched the back of his head. "Because you do? I thought you knew. I guess it makes sense that you didn't because Z says sometimes people like people without knowing they like them because they don't want to admit it and Jack says you don't admit things to yourself very often because you're a stubborn jerk, but I don't really think you are but he thinks you are so—"
"It was your jacket."
Bridge shrugged again, falling back into the chair near Sky's bed. "You remember last week when we fought that big sticky gray guy outside the blood bank and then we came back here to change because he got muck on us, and then Kat wanted to ask you about what exactly happened when the first containment device failed, so you threw your jacket at me and asked me to put it in the hamper before you ran out?"
Sky thought back to last week. "Yeah…?"
"Well, I wasn't wearing my gloves when you threw your jacket at me."
Several things fell into place in Sky's mind like heavy, interlocking blocks of lead. Bridge was a tactile psychic…he could read events and emotions and minds by touching people…or by touching things that had touched people…oh no. "Oh," he said weakly.
"I didn't mean to," Bridge said, twiddling his fingers in an apologetic fashion, "but I couldn't really help it. I mean, you were wearing that all day…I could see everything that happened after you put it on. Like when Syd was yelling at Z for hiding Peanuts and how you were all annoyed about it because you were trying to eat breakfast in peace, and then how Jack was flirting with Kat and you were annoyed about that because he was being smarmy and leaders shouldn't do that, and then Kruger made you help get Boom unstuck from the ventilation system and you were annoyed about that too, and do you know you get annoyed a lot?"
"Right, anyway, um…so after the fight when the containment device failed I had to kick the sticky guy in the head from behind and pin him down until Syd could grab the other one, and I kind of almost got my arm ripped off…you remember that?"
Sky swallowed. "Yeah…"
"Well, you were worried…and that's not surprising because you're just a nice guy like that." Bridge grinned. "But…well, we got the guy in containment and then you came over to help me up…it was that time when you had your hand on my elbow and I put my hand on your shoulder, you know? And you asked me if I was okay, and I said yeah, and thanks for helping me." Bridge had been looking at Sky until this point, but he glanced down at the rumpled handbook on the floor. "Your aura sort of did this thing…it's a really hard one to describe. It went kind of…silvery reddish-blue. Anyway, that's what that means." He looked back up, smiling. "If it makes you feel any better, it's kind of funny, because I was thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time! Cool, huh?"
There was a moment of ringing silence. Sky could feel a rush of sweltering heat under the surface of his skin, his heart was pounding like crazy, and he felt like a complete and total idiot. That…he shouldn't have let that happen. He shouldn't be letting it affect him. He shouldn't care. He stared at his hands, clenching unconsciously in his lap, and swallowed hard. "Bridge—"
But when he looked up, Bridge was standing over him, face inches away, wearing a look of calm scrutiny. Nothing good ever came of looks like that on Bridge Carson's face—
A pair of gloved hands bracketed Sky's face and Bridge's mouth descended onto his without warning. Shocked immobile, Sky somehow came to the conclusion that actively trying not to move a single muscle was the best response to this situation, as if he were under attack by one of those dinosaurs from Jurassic Park that located its prey by movement, but this was not a dinosaur, this was Bridge, and Bridge was kissing him, and it felt like friendly electric shocks were racing up and down his spine because Bridge was kissing him! Was this even okay? Were they going to get in trouble for it? Was Bridge standing on his S.P.D. handbook? Bridge was kissing him! Could he even do that!?
His frantic, aimless train of thought ended abruptly when Bridge leaned back a few inches, paused, and finally stood up, looking vaguely embarrassed with a lopsided smile. "I didn't look. I just sort of felt what was on the surface, but I didn't go deeper than that."
Sky almost understood what that meant. "You didn't even ask permission…" It seemed like a reasonable thing to say.
"I didn't have to," Bridge explained, folding his hands behind his back. "You wanted me to."
"Did my jacket tell you that, too?"
He had the good grace to look cowed. "Weeell, actually the lunch tray you left on your bed yesterday did."
Sky's eyes went wide, and he fought back the urge to choke pointlessly again. "You were snooping in my subconscious! You didn't even ask!"
"In my defense," said Bridge, with a surprisingly devious grin, "you wouldn't have told me."
"You—!" But that was all Sky got out before Bridge swooped down, kissed him again, and headed out of the room at top speed.
"I'll see you later!" he called on his way out. "I'm gonna help Boom test out the new grappling hooks again!"
And he was gone, leaving Sky alone in the room, livid and confused and significantly more lighthearted than he could remember having been in…years.
He was still sitting there several minutes later when Z came by, poked her head around the doorframe, and raised an eyebrow at Sky's solitary, huddled, and oddly pleased-looking form. "…when you're done being weird, we're gonna play some Light Ball. Coming? Or are you going to study that handbook some more?" She smirked. "Can't have me knowing more about it than you do, huh?"
Sky considered this for a few seconds, brightened noticeably, stood, and shunted the handbook across the room with his foot. "I think I'll play with you guys, actually. But if I wing the ball at Bridge's head really hard, don't be surprised."
"I can't imagine a set of circumstances under which I would be," she said breezily, and sauntered off down the hall. Sky got up, stretched, and followed her out.
Revenge would be sweet, to be sure.
(In several senses of the word.)