Disclaimer: I do not own Power Rangers, or Andrew, Mack, or Spencer. Which sucks, 'cause I wanna play with Mack. And Vella would never have existed, so that Mack won't end up heartbroken at the end of the season. (At least in my little world -Grins evilly-)
This is a fic that had to be written, because Andrew Hartford is a fantastic character and every time I see his whipped-puppy look I want to smack Mack for hurting him. Um...minor references to DinoThunder. If you don't blink. There might be more of this in the distant future, because I have vague ideas that I just couldn't get out here.
Oh, and the article Andrew mentions about children in the emergence room actually exists.
I must give credit and dedication to the fantastic video that helped inspire this, which can be found at: www. youtube. com / watch?ve-Zn3ml5TZo (Take out the spaces). There was also some ideas from talking to the lovely cmar. Go read Five Questions Mack Never Asked. And a dedication to Hagar, who gave me links to the sites where I learned of Enneagram and Myers-Briggs personality definitions.
-Clears throat- Anyhow.. Enjoy!
He'd never been good with people.
That wasn't to say that he hadn't tried. As a child, he'd always made the effort to make friends, but he just couldn't seem to fit in. So instead he buried himself in books, learning about the world and its history. It was fascinating, and he'd become more and more reclusive as he studied.
And obviously, his social skills had suffered.
He'd become an explorer and amateur archeologist, financed by his family's fortune. His parents hadn't been exactly thrilled with his occupational choice, but he was happy, and they'd accepted that. And when they died-his father from an accident, and his mother essentially from grief-he'd found himself alone in a mansion that was far too big for him, with only Spencer for company.
Spencer was his saving grace, really. Without him he'd probably forget to eat, much less pay bills, come home, take care of any injuries that weren't debilitating. He'd given him someone to talk to, and reminded him that there was a world outside of his ancient books and hidden tombs.
But eventually he'd become lonely. He wanted someone that was there for him. Someone he could talk to, who would...
Someone who would love him.
Spencer was a great friend, but in the end he was still his butler. How did he know if he really cared, or if he did it because he was paid to? He wanted someone that would love him no matter what.
After a few disastrous attempts at dating, he gave up on the idea of ever finding a wife. Between his work and his lack of social ability, he just wasn't able to be there for someone. And romance was a complete mystery-even after all the research he'd done in advance, he still couldn't perform it convincingly.
He'd become depressed and lonely, throwing himself into his work. For years it was all he had. He forced himself to believe it was enough, that he didn't need anything else.
It was by chance that he 'bumped into', so to speak, one of Anton Mercer's archeological digs. He was fascinated by their research, and very interested in their discoveries. Mr. Mercer had seemed pleased to have another student, and graciously offered for him to join their dig.
That was when he met the Fernandez family.
Michael and Abigail were obviously happily in love, and adored their son. They took special time to show him what they were doing, teaching him all about their research. And it was easy to see that while Trent could care less about digging for dinosaur bones, he was happy to be with his parents.
--"Trent!" Michael called, laughing. "Give it back! I need that!"
"No!" he shouted back, grinning triumphantly as he ran. "You can't have it!" He waved the tool Michael had been using high in the air, turning around to blow a raspberry at his father before sprinting off again.
"Oh, that's it!"
It didn't take long for adult legs to overtake even the hyperactive ten year old's, and Trent was swept up off the ground. He shrieked as Michael tickled him mercilessly, demanding he give it back.
"Never!" he cried, squirming madly as he giggled.
But Michael was still laughing as much as his son was, and before long had pulled him into a hug as they grinned at one another, breathless.
Andrew stared after them, wondering why his chest ached.--
For the entire four months he was on the dig, he found himself observing the Fernandez family. Watching the way they interacted, the way they spoke to one another. But most of all, he watched Michael's bond with Trent. The casual way he could get his son's rapt attention in an instant, the way Trent looked up at him with shining eyes.
He wanted that. He wanted it more than he'd ever wanted anything before. He wanted that look, that laughter, that person trailing behind him-hanging on his every word and demanding his attention.
He tried adoption first, of course. But no agency was willing to give a child to a single man that had no experience with children and was never home, no matter how rich he was. He didn't have the 'proper' family situation. He'd even tried to go through the more obscure, not exactly legal methods, but while not only difficult to trace, he just...couldn't find that bond with any of the children they offered him. There wasn't that instant connection, that feeling he'd seen between Michael and Trent.
He wasn't sure what made him decide to try to build an android in the beginning. Too many late night sci-fi marathons, maybe. He couldn't really remember the idea, just the research that went into it.
And oh, did he research. First there was the technology and mechanics required to build the android to begin with. Initially he'd wanted a ten year old, just like Trent. But then logic seeped in; what if he had to leave for a search that it wouldn't be safe to bring the child on? Or, what if someone notice that his child never aged? He didn't get many visitors, but if someone came even twice over the span of a few years, it would be more than obvious there was something wrong with his child.
He wanted a teenager, he decided. Sure, everyone said teenagers were supposed to be more trouble to deal with, but it would be easier to first pass off as an adult, and second, he wouldn't have to worry so much about leaving it alone with Spencer. A teenager was best.
It wasn't long to decide that he wanted a son. He didn't know the first thing about girls, after all. And a son he could relate better to, have more adventures with.
The technology took years to develop, far longer than he'd ever expected. But there was so much to take into account, trying to make his son act and feel like a true human; he didn't want him to feel as anything less. And then there were hundreds of glitches, programming errors, parts that wouldn't fit...
--He buried his face in his hands, abandoning the joints he'd been attempting to set. The nerves just wouldn't fit. He'd tried and tried, but they just couldn't operate with out some sort of noise or hesitation.
Maybe... Maybe he wasn't cut out for this. Maybe what he was trying to do truly was impossible.
Maybe he just wasn't allowed to ever have a child.
Tears welled in his eyes. All this effort, all this research, and his child would never be born. He'd never laugh, talk, smile, play. He would never exist, because he just wasn't smart enough.
Something flickered in front of him.
He raised his head slowly, and stared. The arm was moving. Slowly, carefully, but it was moving. The fingers flexed and twitched, the nerves moving in sync. It wasn't quiet, but it was still moving.
His eyes narrowed, and he reached out to squeeze the hand. He knew it was silly, that all it was a collection of robotic parts at the moment-he wasn't even self-aware. But...
"Don't worry, Son." he whispered fiercely. "I won't give up on you."
It really was silly. But he still could have sworn the hand squeezed back.
He probably needed some sleep.--
The next step had been to decide what his new son would look like. He wanted his new son to take after him, but not look identical. He browsed hundreds of images of different women for hours at a time, meticulously narrowing them down to find the one his son would look like. In the end, he merged several pictures together into an image that pleased him, and combined the physical structures with his own to balance them out into a unique look to his new son.
He liked the curls. They made him look younger.
Spencer had finally found his project about the same time as he'd begun his psychology research.
--"You're playing god!" Spencer shouted at him. "You-you're a modern Dr. Frankenstein, trying to define life just to see that you can!"
He flinched. Spencer rarely, if ever, actually yelled at him. "No, that's not it at all. I just want-"
"You want a child without bothering to do things the old fashioned way, is that it?" Spencer nearly snarled. "It takes too long to find the time to do it naturally, by finding the right woman, so you'll just skip ahead on your own?"
"It's disgusting." Spencer's voice was cold. "And I won't be part of it."
He stared at him for a moment. His chest ached, but he made himself smile. "I understand. I'm sorry to lose you, Spencer-you've been a great help to me all these years. But if that's what you want, then I wish you all the best."
Spencer stared at him for what seemed like hours.
He just smiled, and at last turned back to his son. He was almost complete. And then, he'd have someone that would love him. Someone that would never leave him.--
All that psychology had given him a headache, but it was worth it. It wouldn't do for his son to act like a robot, after all. He wanted him to think and feel for himself, to react as any normal child would.
Initially he'd planned for a Type Two personality under the rules of the Enneagram nine basic personality types; loving and dedicated, with the motivation to be loved and important. Something he'd be more than happy to provide. He made him an Extravert because he most definitely wasn't, and his son deserved to be good with people-programmed with research for the social skills he didn't have himself. He set him as realistic and practical, developing and further enforcing his ability to work with other people and understand them. His son was going to be able to mediate with people when he couldn't; a thought which often made him grin.
After a great deal of thought, he picked the name 'Mackenzie'. He was a little worried Mackenzie was too feminine-it was a unisex name, after all. No middle name, because he'd never understood the point of those.
--"Careful..." he muttered to himself. "Careful..."
Mackenzie's head settled into place at last, and he set the locks before covering them with the synthesized form of latex he'd created for skin. He checked all the joints, mechanics, and body parts to confirm their operation, checking the tests running automatically through the computer to make sure he hadn't missed anything. Mackenzie was in perfect health.
He dressed him in clothes he'd found at the mall; that was an experience he hoped to never repeat again. Although his observations of other teenagers drifting through the mall had given him more notes to go over in the future. And the sales associate had been quite helpful in choosing clothing for his son's 'birthday'.
He stepped back to admire him, and smiled warmly. He reached out to brush the curls from Mackenzie's forehead. He was beautiful. Was this what all fathers felt when their son was first born?--
Only Mackenzie's memories were left. He'd spent a great deal of time there, trying to decide what sort of childhood his son should have. As normal as possible, at the very least.
He'd always wanted to go fishing, but he'd never been very good at it. So he and Mackenzie would go fishing, he decided. Mackenzie could catch his own fish-he'd love that. He'd only finished the memory when he realized what would make it even better-pictures! Creating the composite image of Mackenzie as a child and editing them into the picture was a great deal of work, but he was pleased with the results; it was a great picture of a wonderful father/son moment.
--"Perhaps Sir, you should give him something a little more logical, such as a childhood injury."
He brightened instantly. "That's perfect! I saw an article earlier stating that research shows that children 14 and under account for one-third of all fall-related visits to hospital emergency rooms. Where was that, anyway..." He frowned, glancing around, then looked thoughtful. "He'll be bored, but I don't want him to be too upset about it... An arm! That's better; at least he'll still walk."
Then he blinked, turning to look up at Spencer. "I thought you'd quit?" He frowned. "Did I not remember to give you your last paycheck?"
Spencer sighed. "Sir, when was the last time you ate?"
He paused, thinking. "Last night? Maybe it was yesterday morning... No, I had a sandwich while I was-wait, that was two days ago-"
He blinked again as Spencer all but shoved the sandwich under his nose. "Spencer?"
The butler sighed again. "I suppose someone should be around to ensure that you don't starve yourself to death." he said dryly.
He looked puzzled. "So you're not quitting?"
"No, Sir." Spencer looked amused, and he didn't have the faintest idea why.
"Oh. Well, that's great! Maybe you can help me come up with more memories for Mackenzie."
"Mackenzie?" Spencer raised an eyebrow.
"I like it." he said defensively."
"He is your son, Sir..." Spencer smirked faintly. "And as such, I shall direct any and all complaints to you."
He looked at him oddly. "Why wouldn't you?"--
Eight years. It took him eight long years before he was ready. Before he was finally, finally able to meet his son for the first time.
--His palms were sweating. Was that normal? His chest sort of hurt. And there was this funny wheezing noise coming from somewhere...
Oh, god. There wasn't a problem with Mackenzie, was there? He'd checked everything! Checked and triple-checked! Even his respirator was supposed to be operational already! Did he miss something? Oh god, oh-
"Sir!" Spencer said sharply. "If you don't calm down, you will start to hyperventilate!"
He blinked. Oh. Was that noise him? "Uh...right. Thanks, Spencer."
Spencer sighed and shook his head. For some odd reason, he seemed almost amused.
"Well..." He swallowed hard. "Here, uh... Here goes."
He closed his eyes, and entered the activation codes into the computer linkup.
He couldn't bear to open his eyes in the following silence. What if it didn't work? What if...what if...
"...Dad?" There was a cough, and the sound of movement. "Dad? What's wrong?"
His eyes snapped open.
His son, his son was standing in front of him, looking worried. Tears welled in his eyes; he couldn't help it. After eight years of research and painstaking attention to detail, he was finally...
He was a father.
An alarmed expression came over Mackenzie's face. "Dad! What is it? What-"
He threw his arms around him, squeezing tightly. "It's...it's nothing, Mackenzie. I just..." He shook his head, grinning like an idiot. "It's nothing."
Mackenzie groaned. "Aw, man. Dad, don't call me Mackenzie! It's just Mack."
He blinked, pulling away slightly. "Mack?" he repeated.
Mackenzie-Mack made a face. "Mackenzie's a girl's name!"
He blinked. "No, it isn't. It's a unisex name. It means 'son of the fair one' in Gaelic-"
"Dad!" Macken-Mack laughed, cutting him off. "Enough with the long, boring explanations already! I remember what it means, but it's still a girl's name. I like Mack better."
He blinked some more. "If...it that's what you want. I mean, it'll take some getting used to, but-"
"Getting used to?" Mack gave him an odd look. "I've been going by Mack for years." He frowned. "Have you eaten lately?"
Mack rolled his eyes, turning to Spencer. "Spencer, when was the last time he ate?"
"I brought him toast this morning, but I suspect he ignored it." Spencer replied, watching Mack with a strange expression.
Mack gave Spencer a pleading look that he had no idea where it came from. "Can you make us some lunch? Please? I don't trust Dad in the kitchen, and-"
"And I wouldn't trust either of you to attempt to prepare yourselves food in my kitchen." Spencer retorted. "I'll see to lunch."
"And maybe...some of your famous cupcakes?" Mack looked hopeful, turning on the charm.
He frowned. He didn't like sweets. Why would Mack want Spencer's cupcakes?
Spencer regarded Mack with a sort of wry amusement. "I'll see what I can do."
Mack's entire face lit up instantly. "Thanks Spencer! You're the best!"
He stared as Mack turned. This wasn't...did he program this? He'd programmed him to learn and grow, to become his own person. But this was... He didn't program this.
He jumped. "Huh?"
Mack grinned and shook his head. "Come on, Dad. Let's get you some food before you pass out." He came to wrap an arm around him, turning him towards the kitchen.
He stopped, looking at his son. "Mack?"
"What is it?"
He hesitated. He didn't want to make a mistake... But he knew; after all the time and effort, all that he'd done for this moment, he needed to hear it said. "I love you, Son."
Mack blinked. Then in an instant, his expression turned into a warm smile. "I love you too, Dad."
Then he frowned. "But you're not getting out of lunch!"--
He stared at the piece of paper in front of him. It had taken him hours to write. He had so many things to say, but they always seemed to come out wrong. He'd thought maybe, that if he tried to write it...
But writing was no good either.
There are so many things I want to say to you, but. Well, I've never been good with words.
I just. I want you to know Mack, that you're so much more than I ever expected. You've grown, all on your own. You've become so much more than just programming and wiring. You've got friends-something I never had, you're a great Ranger, and. Well, I'm so proud of you. You're everything I always wanted, and more.
You were created because I wanted a son. And maybe. Maybe Spencer was right-maybe it was wrong. But I've never regretted you Mack, not for an instant.
I love you. You are my son. And there could never, ever be another of you. If I lost you. I don't know what I'd do. You've made me into a better person, Mack. I just wish that there was something I could say, or something I could do, that would make this better for you.
He read the letter over and over again, trying to think of something else he could say. Something that wouldn't make it worse. Sighing, he scribbled one last message.
If I lost you Mack, I would never make a Mack2.0. Because you are my son, and there's only one of you.
He debated over the signature for the longest time, at last scribbling Love, Dad at the end. It was the way he felt, even if Mack didn't feel the same.
He hesitated outside of Mack's room. The Rangers had all gone to bed hours ago-they'd had a long day. He hadn't wanted to object. They didn't listen to him quite the same way they had before. Like they wanted to support Mack in all this, and that meant that they had to be mad at him, too.
He bit his lip, taping the letter to the door and knocking once before heading down the hallway again. He didn't answer Mack's call of "Who is it?"; Mack wouldn't have let him in anyway. Hopefully the letter would let Mack know everything he couldn't. Hopefully it would make everything better.
He found the letter on his desk the next morning, unopened.
He stared at it, a wave of pain sweeping over him as he sank down in his chair. Closing his eyes, he buried his face in his hands.
More than anything, more than the Corona Aurora-or even the safety of the world, all he wanted was his son back.