More Than A Crush
By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: January 12, 2008

Summary: For the Red and Pink Rangers, it was four years in the making, a long road full of bumps and bruises, but the ending was oh so sweet.
Rated: T for language
Ship: SS. BZ, JA

AN: This was a challenge prompt from Cat. Prompt: "What if Sky had a crush on Syd when she came to SPD? She was a famous Model/Singer/Athlete, so she would have had her pictures scattered in enough places that he would have seen them at some point. And he IS a guy; he wouldn't have been completely oblivious about her, and how pretty she was. How does his crush on her affect the way he treats her? Would he be nicer to her, or have more of an attitude, trying to compensate for the crush?"

--

"Does it feel different?" Syd asked as the group of six kicked back in the common room after their night out on the town. It was Jack's first visit back to SPD since he'd resigned, and while they'd beaten Gruumm, leaving happy memories, there were still bittersweet ones left from Jack's resignation. The team hadn't felt quite right for a while, but then, that could be attributed to the other changes that had taken place among the remaining four Rangers.

After Sky and Bridge had been promoted, the new Blue Ranger had finally found the courage to ask Z out on a date. Within days, the two were inseparable and the announcement of their new relationship didn't surprise the Red and Pink Rangers at all. The biggest surprise, however, had come from Sky and Syd. The Red and Pink Rangers had only earlier in the night announced their newfound relationship. To say the others had been mildly surprised was putting it simply. Bridge had seemed to be the only one who hadn't been terribly shocked.

"In a lot of ways, no," Jack grinned, his arm across the back of the couch he and Ally were sitting on. "In other ways, yeah, it's really different." He wiggled his eyebrows at her before turning a brotherly smile on Z.

Both girls blushed. "It wasn't a planned thing, trust me," Z laughed.

"No, I see how it is. Big brother isn't here to watch you and these two local yokels decide its okay to move in on you without my permission."

Bridge opened his mouth but Sky beat him to it. "Since when have we needed your permission?" Sky teased. "Last I checked, these two very lovely ladies, and more than capable of kicking our ass Rangers, could take care of themselves."

"Touché," Jack nodded his head.

"You know, I don't mean to interrupt, but I want to know something," Ally started.

"What's that?" Z asked her.

Ally smiled. "How the heck did Syd and Sky end up together? You and Bridge I totally can see, but Syd and Sky? I just don't see it, or couldn't have before tonight."

Syd, who was cuddled into Sky's side, grinned like a madwoman. "There's a long story behind that, Ally. A really LONG story."

"This I gotta hear," Jack laughed. "Because I have to admit, I'm curious myself."

Sky, whose arm was wrapped around Syd, blushed, his eyes on his and Syd's joined hands. "Syd's right, it's a long story. Are you up for it? Bridge is going to end up helping tell this one…"

"We could be here for days if that happens," Jack muttered, then flinched when Z smacked the back of his head. "Ow! I'm not lying!"

"He's not that bad, now shut up, because I'm seriously anxious to hear this myself," the Yellow Ranger retorted.

Sky gave them a look that had them all shutting up. "Well, you see, it all started when I was about seventeen…"

--

"Have you heard?"

"No, what?"

"Sydney Drew, the famous singer, she's leaving behind her music and modeling career to come to SPD."

"You're kidding right?"

"Nope."

--

If there was one thing seventeen-year-old Sky Tate knew he could indulge in, it was reading. Of course, most of his fellow cadets, including Dru, thought he spent his off time reading the SPD Handbook, but only his roommate knew the truth behind this particular favorite past time. If he was reading, it was usually the latest magazine to feature fifteen-year-old singing sensation Sydney Drew. It was a guilty pleasure of his, his little obsession with the blonde haired pop star.

He couldn't help it, for a fifteen-year-old, she had the voice of an angel and the body of a freaking super model. Case in point, she'd been modeling for major designers since she was twelve, AND she'd been a world class athlete, having gone to the Olympics that past summer as a fencing champion.

His current reading material was Cosmo, which had an in-depth article on Sydney having to deal with relationships. He hadn't noticed the topic of this particular issue until he'd gotten back to the academy and started flipping through to find the article about her. This particular issue dealt with a lot of sex – first times, flings and one night stands, affairs, etc. Even now, his face was heating from the few times he'd stopped to read bits and pieces of the articles. He couldn't believe girls talked so openly about this stuff in magazines, but he chalked it up to his not knowing much about the opposite sex, having spent the majority of his teenage years inside the Academy's walls.

Blue eyes widened in shock as he read the article he'd stopped on. Sex-sclusive! 1,000 Men Confess the Squeezes, Licks and Teases They Long for - and the Most Important Square Inch on a Man's Body. Curiosity got the better of him as he started to read the article. The flush that had taken over his face suddenly flared bright red, coming out almost identical to the Red Ranger uniform. A few paragraphs later and he was quickly turning the page to find the article on his query. Just as he hit the first page of Sydney's interview, the bedroom door slid open and a frantic, out-of-breath Bridge Carson came sailing through.

"SKY!" Bridge managed to gasp as he bent over at the waist, resting his hands on his knees, attempting to get his breathing back to normal.

"What?" Sky stuttered, quickly shutting the magazine and hoping the color of his face was almost back to normal.

Bridge stood up, opened his mouth, and then promptly shut it when he got a good look at his roommate. "Are you alright? Your face is all red and you're chest is heaving."

Sky coughed and cleared his throat, carefully sitting up and hoping Bridge didn't see the magazine he'd been reading. "I'm f-fine," he started. "What's got you all worked up?"

The younger boy gave his roommate an odd, 'I don't believe you' look before shrugging his shoulders. "Are you sure?"

"I'm fine, what's wrong with you? You looked like the hounds of hell were after you? You didn't fall asleep in the common room and have nightmares again, did you?" Sky asked, having experienced plenty of Bridge's nightmares before. He'd gotten use to them, for the most part; one had to when they were roommates with a psychic who was learning to control his power.

"No, it wasn't a nightmare," Bridge assured him, his face lighting up as he noticed the worry in Sky's eyes. Even if he wouldn't admit it directly to Bridge, the younger boy knew his roommate cared. "Gosh, now I forgot what I was going to tell you."

Sky rolled his eyes and reclined back on his bed, cautiously bringing the magazine back into view. "Fine, whatever, I've got stuff to do," he muttered as he opened it up to the page he'd held.

"Is that the new one you got?" Bridge asked.

"Yes, and Cruger has had me so busy I haven't been able to read it yet, so if you don't mind…."

"I REMEMBER NOW!" Bridge screeched, his puberty effected voice going squeaky as he flopped down on the side of Sky's bed. "It was about her," he pointed to Sydney, who was on the front.

"What?" Sky almost barked.

"She's here!"

Blue eyes narrowed. "Bridge, have you been sniffing my model glue a little too much?"

Bridge huffed. "No, silly. Sydney Drew is here at the Academy, or she will be, soon. I overheard a couple of older cadets on the Ranger track talking about it. She's coming to train at SPD."

"Why?"

"I don't know, but as soon as I heard, I had to come tell you."

Sky looked from Bridge's shining face to the beauty on his magazine. She was coming to SPD? Why? But more importantly, how the heck was he supposed to talk to her without looking like an idiot if he got to meet her.

--

"SHIT!"

Bridge would have laughed if his lungs didn't hurt. Sky didn't cuss very often, but the situation was the perfect time for it. Both of them had slept through their alarm clocks and now were running fifteen minutes late for their training with A Squad's Blue Ranger.

"Bridge! Hur…!" Sky ordered, seconds before he crashed into another body.

The younger boy was amazed that Sky managed to wrap his arms around the person he'd crashed into, turning so that the body landed on top of his own. Bridge winced when he heard a female cry of shock and then Sky let out a yelp.

It was only after the commotion was over that Bridge's eyes widened when he looked down at his roommate and the young cadet that Sky had crashed into. He was just about to say something when Sky started profusely apologizing. "I am so sorry!" he gasped, opening his eyes and freezing in place.

"It's okay, really," the young woman, correction, teenager, assured him. "I've taken worse hits, trust me."

Bridge watched all color drain out of Sky's face and felt the laughter bubbling inside him. He stood back and waited for Sky to handle the situation. "Um, yeah, um…. I'm…. really….sorry. I uh didn't mean to uh…."

Blue eyes sparked with mischief as the blonde sat up and stared down at her assailant. "It's okay, really. By the way, I'm Sydney, Sydney Dr…."

"I know who you are," Sky sputtered. "What I mean is, I've, um, I'm…"

"His name is Sky," Bridge interjected, reaching out to take Sydney's hand, helping her off of Sky before the older boy embarrassed himself. "I'm Bridge."

Sydney smiled at him. "Thank you, Bridge," she whispered. Turning, she shyly looked at Sky pushing himself up off the ground and wiping off his uniform. "And thank you, Sky, for cushioning my fall. I've got to go."

"Yeah, sure, no problem, see you around!" Sky called but she'd already walked away. "Oh hell."

"Dru's never going to let you live this down, you know that right?" Bridge joked, watching Sky's expression darken. "Um Sky?"

"What is it Bridge?

"We're REALLY late."

"SHIT!"

--

"So Sky starts stuttering and telling her it's no big deal, and she's already halfway down the hallway and totally out of ear shot," Bridge babbled as the three boys worked on their martial arts under the supervision of the Blue Ranger.

"Smooth move Romeo," Dru cracked, causing Sky to huff out a breath and glare at his friends. "What do you do for an encore?"

"Shut up!" Sky growled. "Isn't it bad enough I completely embarrassed myself in front of her?"

Dru and Bridge shared conspiratorial grins before shaking their heads. "No. You've become known as the unflappable Sky Tate; I wish I had been there to see you turn into a stuttering idiot over a little, skinny fifteen-year-old."

"She's not skinny!' Sky retorted.

"Cadets," Cruger's voice shook them from their little world. All three spun around and saluted. "Allow me to introduce Ms. Sydney Drew. She'll be joining your squad, please treat her with the proper respect, show her around, and get her use to the academy. Tate, Carson, she'll be bunking the room opposite of yours."

"Yes sir!" they saluted.

"Hi Sydney," Bridge grinned, waving at her.

Sydney smiled. "Hello again, Bridge, you can just call me Syd." Turning, she smiled shyly at Sky. "Hi Sky."

Sky, feeling completely out of his element, just nodded his head at her. When her smile started to slip, Dru stepped up. "I'm Dru, welcome to SPD."

"Thank you," she whispered, her eyes, filled with hurt, finally moved from Sky to Dru. "So, um, what are we doing?"

"Training," Sky muttered before turning away from the group.

Dru shrugged and headed off after Sky while Bridge moved over to put his hand on Syd's shoulder. "Sorry, he's not usually like that," Bridge apologized. "So, um, why did you come to SPD? I mean, you're a famous singer and all, I wouldn't have thought…"

Blue eyes filled with tears as Sydney turned to look at Bridge. "Because I have special powers, Bridge, ones I can't control. It's safer for me to be here than anywhere else."

Bridge squeezed her shoulder. "Sky and I do too."

"Is he mad at me or something?" Syd asked, jerking her head in Sky's direction.

"Um, not that I know of, but this IS Sky we're talking about here, so anything's possible."

--

If he hadn't had one arm wrapped around Sydney, Sky would have had folded both of them over his chest, glaring daggers at Z and Jack, who were howling with laughter. "It's not that funny," he growled.

"That's fricking classic!" Z laughed, leaning against Bridge's shoulder. The Blue Ranger was trying his hardest to not laugh along with her.

"God! Who'd have thought Sky would have no finesse at all?" Jack roared, doubling over in his seat.

"Poor Syd," Ally whispered, reaching out to touch the Pink Ranger's arm.

Z stopped laughing and turned to Sydney then. "Is that where the 'he never gets easier to live with' comment came from?"

Syd looked at Sky out of the corner of her eye before she nodded. Feeling him huff out a breath, Syd turned and buried her face in the side of his neck. He stiffened momentarily before he leaned into her, his arms wrapping around her in a protective embrace.

"How the heck did you two manage to get so comfortable with each other then?" Jack finally asked, his laughter having died down. "I mean, you two were pretty chummy when Z and I came here, but still."

Grinning, the Pink Ranger pecked a kiss to Sky's neck before turning her head. "You'd be surprised how much embarrassing yourself in front of your crush will break down those walls after a while," Sky muttered, leaning his head against Syd's. "It wasn't easy though, and I almost thought Bridge was going to lock us in a closet together for a while there, just so we could get past it all."

"So what was the turning point?" Ally curiously asked.

Sky's faced went as red as his Ranger suit while Syd let out a stream of twinkling laughter. "Would you believe it was my first cover of Miro after I joined SPD?"

"Why do I sense another funny part of this long story in that?" Jack cracked. Bridge and Syd shared a look while Sky continued to look utterly embarrassed.

--

Silence. Absolute silence. With a purely blissful sigh, Sky reclined on his bed after his shower, still slightly damp and dressed in nothing but a towel. In his lap was a copy of Miro, with none other than SPD's resident Princess, Sydney Drew, gracing the cover. The magazine had come and done a shoot not long ago right after Sydney had joined SPD. Luckily, Bridge had snagged him a copy on patrol the day before, since he hadn't had the time to go out and get it.

Figuring he had an hour to enjoy the article before Bridge came back from the obstacle course, he hadn't bothered getting dressed. It was a decision he'd come to regret. He was halfway through the article, smiling all the way as he read about Sydney describing her teammates and her experiences so far, when the bedroom door hissed open and a bouncing ray of blonde sunshine came flying through. "Hey Bridge…!"

Sky shot up off the bed, magazine in hand, and stood before her in nothing but a towel. "Syd!"

"Sorry!" she squeaked, spinning around. "I forgot to knock again, I apologize. Bridge told me to meet him up here, and told me to make myself comfortable. I keep forgetting you guys share a room."

She bit her lip, hoping he couldn't hear the increased beating of her heart or see that her chest was rapidly rising and falling. Seeing him in a towel about did her in, because honestly, for as much as she'd traveled, she was still very sheltered when it came to guys, especially ones that were practically naked like Sky was. Not to mention the boy was dangerously gorgeous. "It's okay, really. Would you turn around now?"

Slowly, she turned around and faced him. Before she could even think about his nakedness, she spotted what was in his hand. "Is that a copy of Miro?" she questioned, bouncing over to grab his hand. When she lifted it, she saw herself on the cover and noticed he had his finger marking his place. "Why are you reading Miro?"

"Um…" He was so darn cute when he stuttered.

Realization dawned on her quickly. "Oh! Sorry! Stupid question!" she rattled off, her voice hitting a higher note with each word. Sky's face had a nice rosy blush spreading across it while Syd bit her lip and looked at the floor. She berated herself for not having realized it sooner. For the last three months she'd been trying to get his attention and now she knew why she hadn't succeeded. He was gay. Not that that was a bad thing, she actually had many friends who preferred their own sex, her stylist and her manager being among them.

"Syd, really, it's okay. As to why I have a copy of Miro…"

"No, really, it's understandable. I mean, I should have realized it sooner. I'm so sorry if you think I've been throwing myself at you these last few months. Honestly, if I had known…"

"Wait…what? Known? What are you talking about?"

Bridge chose that moment to enter the room. "Hey Sky, by the way, Syd's coming…"

"…If I had known you were gay, I wouldn't have thrown myself at you so much. I'm so sorry."

Sky looked mortified. Syd looked sorry. And Bridge looked like he was about to die laughing. "I'm not….what I mean is I don't like….I've never…..you haven't…"

Bridge blinked. He couldn't believe it, but Sydney Drew had reduced the ever stoic, completely in control at all times, Sky Tate to a stuttering mass of goo. Oh if he'd only had a camera….Dru was going to die when he related the tale to him.

"Sky, really, it's not a big deal. It is, after all, 2022, people have heard of being gay before. You have nothing to be ashamed of," Sydney told him, reaching out to touch his arm.

"I AM NOT GAY!" he barked, causing Sydney to yelp and fall back a few steps. Without another word, Sky spun around, grabbed his clothes off his bed, threw his magazine down and stormed off to the bathroom.

Turning to a red faced, laughing like crazy Bridge, Sydney crossed her arms over her chest. "Bridgey, what is so funny?" she asked the fourteen-year-old.

"Oh my GOD! That was classic!" Bridge laughed, falling back on his bed, his arms wrapping around his body as he tried to quell the pain from his laughter. "Oh, Dru is going to have a field day with this."

"Bridge Carson, stop laughing and tell me what's going on!" Syd demanded, stamping her foot.

Rolling onto his side so he could face her, Bridge continued to grin. "Syd, I gotta hand it to you. No one I know, except maybe Commander Cruger or Dr. Manx, can say they've turned Schuyler 'Sky' Tate into a stuttering mass the way you just did."

"Huh?"

Taking several deep breaths so he could control his laughter, he rolled off his bed and stood before her. "Sky isn't gay, Syd. Far from it actually."

"Then why is he reading Miro? The only guys I know who read Miro are…"

Reaching down, Bridge grabbed the magazine and held it up, so that the cover was staring back at Sydney. "He was reading it because you're on the cover."

"O-kay…."

Sighing, Bridge debated what he should tell her, knowing Sky would be furious if he heard him, but she needed answers. "He likes you, Syd."

"W-what?"

Bridge nodded and then got on his hands and knees before reaching under Sky's bed. He pulled out a long cardboard box from underneath. Lifting the lid, he motioned for Sydney to join him. Once she was on her knees, she saw the box was full of magazines and pull out posters, each one of them of her. "See."

"Oh," she muttered. "That doesn't explain why he's been…"

"You make him nervous," Bridge grinned. "Very few people have the effect you seem to on Sky."

"I see."

--

Sky knew in that moment if anyone could be compared to a hyena, it would have been Z and Jack. Both of them were laughing so hard that they'd fallen on the floor, clutching their sides, their faces red from lack of air and their eyes full of tears. Ally demurely sat on the couch, her face buried in her hands, her shoulders shaking as she laughed. Turning a glare in Bridge's direction, Sky thought about what would be the best way to murder his best friend.

Sensing the line of her boyfriend's thoughts, Sydney leaned up and pecked a kiss to the corner of his mouth, drawing his attention to her. Her eyes sparkled with mischief and Sky could tell she was trying not to laugh like the others were. He narrowed a look at her, which made her smile even as she moved in to kiss him again. "Relax," she whispered, crawling into his lap.

His arms banded around her, holding her so that they were as close as they could get with clothes on. Around them, the others seemed to fade away so that it was just the two of them. Sky rested his forehead against hers, enjoying the feeling of her being so close. It had definitely been an interesting four year journey from where they'd started – the starlet and the fan – to where they were now – boyfriend and girlfriend, and heading for something much deeper.

Just as Sky was about to lean in to kiss her, a pillow was launched that hit them in the side of their heads. "GET A ROOM!" Jack's voice laughingly ordered.

Both Rangers turned and pinned the former Red with a deadly double glare. "Oooh, Jack! Look out! I know those looks!" Z teased as she crawled back onto the couch Bridge was sitting on, snuggling into her boyfriend's arms.

Sky lifted an eyebrow when Sydney suddenly grabbed the pillow and hurled it in Z's direction, hitting the Yellow Ranger with deadly accuracy. Z let out a muffled squeak as the pillow smashed into her face. "I always said you had a deadly shot," Sky whispered in her ear.

"Not fair!" Z huffed.

"Okay, so, back to our LONG story," Jack started, chuckling at the disgruntled look on Z's face and the amusement on Bridge's. "HOW and WHEN exactly did you two get together? I mean, I didn't see it much when I was here, and obviously you surprised Z, which is a feat in and of itself."

Syd smiled. "Well, to be honest, it all started happening a little more when we spent that one afternoon guarding the diamonds, but neither of us really acknowledge it again until the Mirloc incident."

Ally watched the five of them wince at the mention of both incidents. "Do I want to ask?'

Sky sighed. "The diamond incident was the first time I'd smiled in nearly a year, and it was all because Syd provoked me into dumping water on her head because she kept teasing me."

Ally giggled while the Pink Ranger gave her boyfriend a look that said 'don't go there'. "The Mirloc incident…" Syd started, swallowing. "Mirloc was the alien that killed Sky's father, and the one Sky accidentally set free to run wild on Earth."

The absolute look of ashamed guilt on Sky's face made Ally's heart break. "Oh my God."

"Yeah," Sky muttered, resting his chin on Syd's shoulder and wrapping his arms tighter around her waist. "But in all honesty, with everything that was going on, we decided to wait until Gruumm was gone for good before we even thought to try being together. So, the first thing I did the night I was made Red Ranger was drag Syd off to the park for a very LONG talk. Of course, by that point, both Bridge and Z knew something was up between us."

--

"Sky Tate step forward. If I were to appoint Syd as Red Ranger, would you follow her into battle?"

"Sir, I would follow anyone into battle you felt worthy of wearing the color red."

"Congratulations Sky, you are the new Red Ranger. Your father would be proud."

--

To say she was stunned was an understatement. The events of the last twenty four hours had left her numb, brought her to tears, and given her joy beyond belief. Gruumm and his Troobian army were gone. SPD was safe, thanks to the heroic efforts of Kat, Boom, Omega and the rest of the cadets. Cruger had found his long lost wife. Jack had left SPD to join Ally and Piggy in caring for those less fortunate. Piggy had proven to be a true friend after all, risking his own life to save theirs. And the biggest surprise of all had been that both Bridge and Sky had been promoted. While she knew she would come to accept their new colors and the new roles they would play, part of her knew she was always associate Blue and Green, their first colors and their first roles, with them.

It was frightening to think that four years ago she'd come to this academy, a shy, scared fifteen-year-old with dreams of just learning to control her powers, and now she was a strong, proud eighteen-year old warrior who'd just lived through one of the biggest wars Earth had ever seen. She was a Power Ranger. It was scary to think of the difference a year made. A year ago she'd just been a cadet on the Ranger track, training hard beside Sky and Bridge in hopes that they'd get the chance to wear multi-colored spandex. Oh how she'd wished she'd known how those spandex suits and the colors on them would change everything.

She had gained a big brother and a little sister, only to lose one of them with the ending of the war. Though to be fair, she hadn't truly lost Jack, he was just across town now. She'd grown up, became more mature, and had discovered parts of her two closest friends that she hadn't learned in the previous three years. She had accepted that not everyone had to be popular, wealthy, or come from influential parents to make a difference and that the best feeling in the world was to accept those who were different from you. The hardest lesson she'd learned in the last year was that love, even in all its glory, could hurt like hell. Especially now.

Admitting she'd fallen in love was the easy part. Admitting that she'd fallen in love with Sky, now that was like pulling teeth. Oh, she'd liked him from the moment she'd met him, had adored him for being there for her as she'd grown up, but until they'd donned the spandex and gotten the nifty zords, she hadn't looked at him as anything other than an older brother or a really good friend, or at least she hadn't after that incident a few months after she'd arrived when she'd caught him reading a copy of Miro. A lot of that stemmed from her years as a pop diva; it was still incredibly hard to trust everyone. Which is why she was surprised that he hadn't known her birthday, considering the humongous crush he had on her, but of course, this was Sky; if it didn't pertain to Ranger or Academy business, he could be clueless. Or maybe he had known and was hurt she hadn't shared with him. Whatever the case, it hadn't been until that day when they'd had to guard the diamonds together that she'd noticed a change in him.

She hadn't been lying when she told Z he never got easier to live with. He'd only grown crankier and more of a loner since she'd come to the academy, but in the last year, he had changed, everything had changed. While initially she'd hurt for him for having to watch someone else wear the color he'd grown to idolize, she understood and accepted why Cruger had done it to him in such a cruel manner. Sky hadn't been ready to make the sacrifices or learn the lessons necessary to be Red Ranger. Being Blue had changed him, for the better. She and Bridge had always blindly followed his leadership without reservation, Jack and Z hadn't. No, the two former street thieves were use to doing things their own way. She couldn't count the times they'd all butted heads over the course of the last year, but she accepted that it was part of what had made Sky into the man he was now. At nearly twenty-one, Sky Tate was a proud warrior, an honorable man, and a cherished friend. She was proud to count him as one of her own. To bad she understood now that she'd never get to call him hers.

Damn the Red suit. Damn the job it now demanded he perform. Damn the fact that she wanted him and couldn't have him.

Fraternizing with fellow teammates was frowned upon, but doing so with a superior was expressly forbidden. She was B Squad Pink, and when Sky had been B Squad Blue, he hadn't technically been her superior. As Red Ranger, he outranked everyone in the academy except Kat and Cruger.

Which meant he was now off limits, as if he'd ever truly been on the market to begin with; a mournful sigh and a shrug of her shoulders helped push that thought from her mind. Bridge had told her once that Sky liked her, in a romantic way, but he hadn't really shown it much. She hadn't had any inkling how he might feel for her until the incident with Mirloc a few weeks back. But now it was too late, everything had changed again. Too bad her heart wasn't able to catch up with the rest of reality.

"Are you decent?" Z's voice broke her thoughts.

"Yes, why?"

"Because I don't think Bridge wants or needs to see you half dressed," the Yellow Ranger muttered.

Syd rolled her eyes. "Its all clear," she told her roommate, smiling when Bridge made a b-line for her desk chair. "Where's Sky? I thought he was with you in the Command Center?"

"He's still there," Bridge informed her, grinning.

"Why?"

"Don't know," Z sighed, sinking down on her bed. "When we left, he was in the middle of a very heated discussion with Cruger over something. And let me tell you, those two did NOT look happy."

Shaking her head, Syd reclined back on her bed and stared at the ceiling. "Gee, if he's in a bad mood, it means we're going to get stuck doing extra courses."

"Oh hell no," Z responded. "I refuse to let him take his moody ass attitude out on us. Yes, Jack did once, but we put him straight. I swear to God I will mutiny if he tries it."

Both Bridge and Syd cracked up laughing at that. Jack had very nearly lost his morpher over taking advantage of his position once. The three of them weren't beyond telling Cruger that Sky was being an ass. "So, plans for your night off?" Syd asked the pair, who started blushing furiously. "Alright, SPILL."

"Well, um, you see, Syd, um, Z and I, well…" Bridge started, stuttering his way through before Z got up and moved to him, sitting in his lap on Syd's chair.

Syd's eyes widened as she realized what the action meant. "When did this happen?"

"Recently," Bridge admitted. "As in half an hour ago, recently."

"We haven't told anyone but you," Z told Syd, her voice and her expression sounding as if she were begging Syd for something.

"I'm happy for you," the blonde told them, trying to make sure her words didn't sound as hollow as she felt. It really wasn't fair to make them feel guilty because she couldn't have what they did. "Bridge has had a crush on you for forever; I always wondered how long it would take you to see it."

Z smiled and seemed to relax. Syd knew that Z had probably felt threatened by her relationship with Bridge, but she'd explained many times that Bridge was like her little brother, she could never think of him in THAT way, not the way that Z obviously thought of him. "Noticed, but was too scared to do anything. In fact, he made the first move."

"Go Bridge!" Syd laughed, watching them blush, and then sighed. "You'd better tell Sky soon, you know how slow to change he is, especially lately."

"Well, it's going to have to wait until tomorrow, we're going out for dinner," Z announced, and then saw the look in Syd's eyes. The Pink Ranger was holding back tears. "What's wrong?"

The Yellow Ranger hopped up quickly when Bridge nudged her and then climbed onto Syd's bed and pulled the Pink Ranger into his arms. Z gave him a worried expression as he held the petite blonde and let her cry out whatever was bothering her. An indeterminable time later, her sobs had lessened to the occasional hiccup while Bridge rubbed a hand up and down her back. "Want to talk about it?"

"It's more hopeless now than it ever was," she whispered, watching the understanding drift into his gaze. "No fraternizing with a superior, remember?"

"I'm confused," Z muttered.

Tipping his head back, Bridge locked eyes with Z. He knew Syd was okay with him spilling her secret. "Syd's in love with Sky; has been in love with him for the better part of the last year. When he was Blue Ranger, it was cool, because he wasn't technically her superior. Now that he's Red, and team leader, he is. Handbook rule number one – no fraternizing with a superior officer."

"Oh Syd, I'm so sorry," Z gasped, sitting down on the bed next to her friend. "Does he know?"

Sydney shook her head. "No, and I don't want him to, it'll only make things harder on all of us."

"Don't worry; we'll keep your secret. Do you want to come with us?" Z asked.

The blonde shook her head. "No. You two need to be alone, and I'd only upset your time together. Go have fun, bring me back a huge tub of vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate sauce."

Bridge looked absolutely worried by that request. The only time Syd made it was when she was feeling utterly hopeless. The Blue Ranger turned his eyes to Z who seemed to understand the seriousness of the situation. "Are you sure?"

"Go, have fun. I'll be fine, promise," she assured her roommate. "Bridgey, stop worrying about me, I'll be okay." Her eyes met his, imploring him to back off just a little.

"Okay."

--

"Hey sleepy head, time to wake up." Her brain registered the words, the voice, but it didn't start clearing until his next comment. "Come on Baby, wake up for me."

Oh, she was awake. She was more than awake. She was completely conscious of the fact that he had just used a nickname she'd NEVER heard come out of his mouth. "Come on, Syd, I know you're awake. You're a great singer, a beautiful model, an Olympic Champion and a Power Ranger, but an actress you aren't."

"Fuck you," she muttered and rolled over to face him.

"Say that and mean it," he teased. "And jeez, it's always the quiet ones, isn't it?"

"What do you want, Tate?" She was staring up at the cheeky expression on his face and still trying to recover from his comeback. Had he really just told her to mean it when she said fuck you?

"I want you to get your butt up, get a coat, and come with me. I've got some things to talk to you about, but I don't want to do it here."

Sitting up, she pushed her long blonde locks out of her face and stared at him perched on the side of her bed. "Why can't we stay here? Bridge and Z are out on a date right now, so no interruptions." Her eyes widened and a hand flew to her mouth when she realized she'd told him.

"Well damn, it's about time," Sky chuckled. "I thought I was going to have to go on forever hearing about how nervous he was to tell her."

"You're not mad?" Syd asked.

Sky looked a little taken aback. "No. Why? Should I be?"

"I don't get you," she grumbled and lay her head back against the wall, her eyes closing as she did. "Sky, let go of my foot."

"Syd, come play with me."

Cornflower blue eyes snapped open and stared at him in an odd mixture of curiosity, disbelief and hope. "What is it with you and that dirty mind of yours?"

"Sydney, my mind is only dirty where you're concerned, promise," he grinned, his fingers sliding up the outsides of her legs before attacking her sides, causing her to convulse in a fit of laughter. "Come on, you know you want to hear what I have to say, and I'm not saying it until we're good and far from the academy."

"STOP!" Syd laughed, trying to evade his fingers on the too small bed and realizing there was no where to go. "SKY!"

"Please?" he asked, halting his assault and looking deep into her eyes. "Say yes?"

"Will you leave me alone once I do?"

"Promise. Scout's honor." He said.

"Scout's honor my ass, you were never a boy scout," she huffed as she moved to slide of the bed. "We can't go if you don't move."

"Okay, okay, I'm moving."

--

Sydney shivered as they walked around the park. It was the middle of November and with the sun starting to set it was getting colder out. She tried to wrap her coat around her tighter, but it didn't ward off the chill that had sunk bone deep. It was moments like this, walking alone with him, that made her crave more, but now she knew that wasn't meant to be. His rank had seen to that. She almost felt like crying again, but found there were no tears left. After Bridge and Z had gone on their date, she'd spent the better part of two hours bawling into her pillow, cursing whoever deemed it funny to make her want him so bad and then be unable to have him.

She hadn't realized what was going on around her until Sky had stopped walking and pulled her into his arms, holding her to his chest while his gloved hands sought to warm her up by rubbing her back. "Cold?" he whispered.

"It's only the middle of November and you've dragged me outside when the sun is setting," she muttered. "What do you think?"

Sky just chuckled and held her tighter. "You recognize where we are?"

Syd looked up at him like he'd lost his mind. "The park?"

Looking down, he gave her a bland expression. "Alright smart ass; I meant where in the park."

Pulling back slightly, she looked around and noticed they were standing on the bridge just over the pond. One word came to mind. "Mirloc."

Nodding, Sky drew her back into his arms and sighed. "I finally had to admit it to myself that afternoon."

"Admit what?" she asked, looking up at him with a confused expression.

"That no matter how hard I pushed, you and Bridge weren't going anywhere."

She gave him an exasperated look. "Well duh. It took you almost four years to realize that?"

He glared at her. "You know what I mean."

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. "Sky, if you had just told us to begin with, it wouldn't have felt like we were going to."

"I know that, now," he told her, hoping his grin would soften the argument.

"Stop grinning like that, it isn't getting you off the hook," she admonished him gently before snuggling close. It wasn't often he showed affection in a physical manner, but she was damn well going to take advantage of it, especially since it was so blessed cold out. "Was there a reason you dragged me out here or was it just to let me turn into a Syd-sicle?"

Sky cracked up at that and leaned closer to her, so that his mouth was right at her ear. "I promise, as soon as we talk about this, I'll take you back to the Academy and warm you up, the proper way."

On slim blonde eyebrow shot up inquisitively. "O-kay."

"Promise to be silent while I say this?"

"No, but I'll try."

The bland look he shot her had her grinning. "Does it always have to be the hard way with you? I swear it's hard enough to get this out without your sarcasm."

Sydney flinched like she'd been struck. Pushing against his chest, she tried to take a step away from him, obviously hurt by his words. "Let go and tell me whatever the hell it is you have to say."

"No, I'm not letting you go, and stop acting so melodramatic," he barked gruffly.

"You know what, go to hell," she hissed, reaching for the element pellets at her side. Sky quickly trapped her arms against his chest and grabbed her waist, fitting her snuggly to him.

"Would you be quiet for two seconds while I say what I have to? PLEASE?"

She folded her arms over her chest and stared up at him. "Fine."

"Thank you," he told her, shaking his head. "Did Bridge and Z tell you about my meeting with Cruger this morning?"

"Yes."

"Did they tell you what it was about?" Her stony silence gave him her answer. "You know there are some really outdated rules in the SPD Handbook." Still, she didn't answer, choosing instead to stare at him. "He and I were having a discussion about that, and how certain ones pertain to the Squad."

Syd clenched her jaw before muttering, "So?"

"Even mad you look gorgeous," he whispered, bringing one hand up to brush her hair from her face. "How is it I've managed to stay away from you for three years when all I really wanted to do was kiss you senseless?"

"Wasn't all that hard considering the first year I thought you liked men," she muttered even as a pout slid onto her face, causing Sky to chuckle.

"Now or never," Sky murmured, finally deciding to quit mincing words. Instead, he leaned down and feathered a kiss at the corner of her mouth before his lips ached at the proximity of her own. Daring fate, he leaned in and gently pressed his lips to hers, feeling her stiffen in his embrace before melting against him.

Sydney sighed into the kiss before groaning when his tongue teased the seam of her lips apart, delving inside to tangle with her own as the kiss shifted from sweet and innocent to passionate and filled with longing. Of their own accord her arms moved; one wound around his waist while the other slid up to his neck. She knew it was going to hurt like hell when it was over, but she wanted at least one memory of what it felt like to kiss him with all the passion that had been building in her since the first day she'd met him.

When air became a necessity, they pulled away from each other, but Sky kept her close. He looked down at her and gasped softly when he saw the tears sliding out from under her lashes. "Syd, why are you crying?" She didn't answer him, choosing instead to bury her face against his chest. "Baby, come on, talk to me."

"It's not fair," she cried softly, her voice cracking on every other word. "It's just not fair."

"What's not fair?" he asked, though in truth, he had a pretty good idea what she was talking about, or at least he thought he did. "Baby?"

"It's not fair! I hate that you can make me feel this way even though we can't be together!"

Sky felt the weight lift off his shoulders at her comment. "Why can't we be together, Syd?"

"Because of the stupid rules!" she almost screamed. "It was different when you were Blue, because you weren't my superior, but you're not Blue anymore, and it's not fair!" She threw her head back and looked up at him, noticing for the first time the look of adoration and happiness in his eyes. "It's just not fair, Sky. I'm so proud of you, for accomplishing your dream, but honestly, I wish it hadn't come true, because the second it did, it killed any hope of me having you."

Reaching up, Sky placed one long finger across her lips to quiet her. "Stop and listen to me for a second. I mentioned my meeting with Cruger; do you want to know what it was really about?" She nodded, though her face said she felt defeated and tired. "It was about the handbook and the squad, yes, but two particular members of said squad – you and me. I'm well aware of the stupid rule dealing with superior officers getting involved with those under them."

"I don't understand."

"I took my case to Cruger first, just incase he flipped out, which is exactly what he did," Sky started. "But being an officer of the law has its perks, and one of them is learning to present your case to a court of law, and in this case, Cruger was judge, jury and executioner."

"Sky, honestly…"

"I asked him to set aside the rule so that we could be together," he told her, watching her eyes widen. "Provided that you were willing to take a chance on me."

Fresh tears gathered in her eyes as her lips trembled. "You what?"

"I asked Cruger if it was okay if we were together, romantically."

"And what did he say?"

"He wasn't happy about it, that's for damn sure," Sky chuckled, reaching up with one hand to wipe away her tears. "But like I said, I stated my case, with credible proof that we're responsible enough to go for this and not screw up the team. Kat backed me up one hundred percent, with some evidence of her own, namely our service records and the out come of several battles where we were, personally involved."

Syd took a deep breath and nodded. "And?"

"He said so long as we don't go flaunting it around the academy, he's willing to let us try and see where it goes." Taking a deep breath, he looked down into her beloved eyes and saw everything he felt inside reflected back at him. Oh yeah, they were going to make it, of that he had no doubt. "So, are you willing to give this cranky former Blue Ranger turned Red a chance at romancing you?"

Biting back tears, Syd threw her arms around his neck and held him close. "Yes," she whispered in his ear, laughing when he wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace.

--

After the story had been told, Jack and Ally had headed home while Bridge and Z had gone to change and settle in for a late night movie in the common room. Deciding they didn't want to end the night quite yet, Syd and Sky headed up to the roof where they could look out at the stars.

Standing at the rail, Sydney couldn't help but sigh happily. She had her favorite coat on, it was just starting to get nippy enough to snow out and best of all was her boyfriend had his arms wrapped around her body, his chin resting on her shoulder. She was absolutely amazed at how laid back he'd been most of the night, especially telling the slightly embarrassing story of how they met and fell in love with one another.

"This is the perfect way to end the night," he whispered in her ear, his hot breath tickling her skin.

"Mmmmm," she responded, trying to hold back the giggle that wanted to come out.

"Okay what is it? What's so funny?" he asked, slightly offended that she would laugh after that comment.

"Oh, I can think of a more perfect way to end the night, but I doubt either of us is ready for that just yet, let alone, I'm not sure Bridge would be too happy to walk into your guys' room and find me lying naked in your bed, using you as a pillow."

Sky groaned at the mental picture. "That's not fair," he whimpered in her ear, pulling her back against him so she could feel what she was doing to him. "At least you can hide your arousal, now I have to walk downstairs like this."

Turning in his arms, Sydney snuggled her body close to him, smiling at the insistent throbbing against her stomach that was proof of how she affected him. "Sorry."

Syd let out a little gasp of surprise when she felt herself being pressed back into the railing behind her. Sky's body was rubbing against her in all the right places while his mouth had swooped in and taken hers in a lush, passionate kiss. She felt one of his hands slide up her back and cup her neck while the other slid down and cupped her butt through the tight black slacks she'd chosen to wear to dinner. She moaned when she felt him squeeze rhythmically and then felt the heat of his skin through the fabric. It gave her some pretty good mental pictures of what it would be like when they finally did make love. However, tonight was not the night for that.

Reluctantly, she pulled away and stared up into the eyes she knew as well as her own, watching the passion slowly clear from their depths, to be replaced by realization and acceptance. He knew she wanted him, knew that she understood he wanted her, but above all else, they both knew that now wasn't the time for it. "Sorry, got carried away."

Licking her lips, Syd grinned up at him. "That's fine, but I just don't want to jump into that before we're ready."

"I agree," he grinned, then hugged her to him. "How about I walk you down, we change into our pajamas, grab some hot chocolate and cuddle up in one of our rooms and listen to some music?"

"Sounds heavenly," she whispered, letting him take her hand and lead her into the academy.