A.N.: This is set during the PROO episode 'Once a Ranger' (not to be confused with my fanfic of the same name). It happens somewhere in the middle. I'm not exactly sure where but it's after the old rangers arrive and before the Operation Overdrive rangers quit.
PS If you haven't seen 'Things Not Said', this probably won't make much sense.
PPS 'Colour' is spelled correctly. I'm Canadian. I'm allowed to have a 'u' in there.
Within the Colours
"Here, try this one. I'm pretty sure it's clean."
Tilting his head to the side, Bridge suspiciously eyed the red T-shirt he'd been handed and wrinkled his nose.
Mack grinned at his expression. "Don't worry. Spencer would have my head if I left dirty laundry around. It's clean."
With a little sideways smile, the SPD ranger nodded. "It's really nice of you lending me some clothes especially since I kind of got dumped in the past without any luggage, not that I'm complaining since obviously it was an emergency, but I was actually wondering if you had anything with long sleeves."
"What?" It took a moment for Mack's mind to decipher the meaning behind all the rambling. "Oh, sure." Diving back into his closet, the Red Overdrive Ranger pulled out a red long sleeved shirt. "Here you go."
"Hey, no problem. We can't have you stuck in your uniform the whole time you're here and I'm the one with the overly large abundance of red shirts."
"Being a ranger does tend to limit your wardrobe choices."
"Tell me about it." Mack gestured to a door leading from his bedroom. "You can change in there."
Bridge's eyes grew wide as he entered the large en suite bathroom. "Wow! This place is just… Well, I guess I'm used to sharing a bathroom with all the B and C squad guys, but wow. "
Mack shrugged. "I've lived here since I was a little kid, to me it's just home." He leaned against the wall as he waited for the former green ranger. "You know I've never really understood the whole colour thing. I mean I don't even do it consciously. I tried not to wear red the other day, but when I'd changed I still ended up with a T-shirt with some red on it."
"There's a lot of theories," came Bridge's voice through the door. "Stuff about power bleeding and the morphin grid having this weird psychological effect, but do you want to hear my theory."
The Red SPD ranger opened the bathroom door now wearing the long sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans, his uniform held under his arm. "We are our colours."
"I don't mean in the whole personality determines your colour way especially considering that I've been three different colours and I don't think my personality has changed that much or at least I hope not or maybe I just hope I don't inherit some of the stereotypical red personality traits."
"No offence." Bridge held up his hands in an appeasing gesture. "Anyway, what I mean is when we become rangers, being a ranger becomes a part of who we are and our wearing our colours is that part of us coming out in our everyday lives."
"Huh," said Mack a thoughtful expression on his face. "I guess that makes some sense."
"Of course, I could be wrong. It could just be a way of make us more identifiable to the villains so they know who to shoot at." He pondered that thought for a moment. "Then again, maybe not."
The Overdrive ranger laughed. "I hope not." Changing the subject, he nodded in the direction of Bridge's hands. "You're still wearing the gloves from your uniform."
Eyebrows raised, Bridge looked down at his hands as if he'd forgotten the gloves were there. He rubbed his fingers together feeling the familiar leather barrier and shrugged nonchalantly. "Yeah, I kind of have to wear them. My powers are a bit over-sensitive."
"You have civilian powers too! Cool!" Mack exclaimed enthusiastically. "What are they?"
Bolstered by Mack's eagerness, Bridge explained. "I read colours. Well actually, they're energies or auras if you will. Through them I can locate hidden objects, see people's true selves, see the past and sometimes even the future. Oh, and I can also read minds, except I'm not very good at that."
"Neat. Do me."
"Really," Mack insisted. "Read my aura."
In a well rehearsed motion, Bridge undid the velcro on his glove and slipped it off his hand. As he waved his arm, Mack could see the red glow spread through the air but nothing else. What Bridge saw made him frown.
Squinting, Bridge cocked his head to the side. "You're a kind of ruddy magenta or crimson mauve with a shimmer of iridescent silver."
"And that means?"
"It's not exactly a precise science. All I can really tell for certain is that you're a red ranger and you had oatmeal with blueberries for breakfast."
Mack rolled his eyes. "I've had oatmeal for breakfast this whole week. Spencer's been on a health kick ever since we became rangers. Anything else?"
Bridge opened and closed his mouth several times. "No, nothing important."
"It's just I've always wondered…" Mack hesitated. Looking at the ground, he stuck his hands in his pockets and shuffled his feet. "What with the whole grabbing the red tracker from my dad and running into things like I did, I wondered whether I was really meant to be a ranger."
"Oh, don't worry. You were meant to be a ranger."
Mack looked up his eyes bright. "Really?"
"I promise you you're a ranger through and through."
"Thanks. I guess I needed to hear that." Mack clapped Bridge on the shoulder. "Now we'd better getting going the others we'll be wondering where we are."
"Right," agreed Bridge as they began making their way through the long corridors of the Hartford mansion. "So you grew up here?"
"Yup. This place was my playground. And I do mean playground, complete with sliding down the banisters and swinging on the chandeliers. I even managed to break my arm after one particularly enthusiastic game of Tarzan. I was quite a handful. I don't how my dad and Spencer kept up with me."
"Oh, just sounds like you had an interesting childhood."
"Not really. I spent most of it being sheltered by my dad. Almost all the time I wasn't at boarding school was spent here and we don't exactly have any neighbours anywhere nearby."
"It must have been tough for you."
"No, no. It wasn't so bad growing up. It's just these past couple of years. I dunno… I just started feeling stifled and restless. Well not anymore, now that I'm a ranger… or was ranger."
"I told you you're a ranger through and through. Don't worry about. You'll get your powers back."
They came to the bottom of the stairs and into the wreck room where all the rangers, old and new, were gathered.
"Hey guys, Bridge has special powers too."
Seated on the couches with Kira, Rose and Dax, the black morphin ranger leaned back and put an arm over his face while the others laughed.
"What's wrong?" asked Mack.
"Don't mind him," replied Kira as she patted the groaning man on the shoulder. "I think he just realized he's the only one here without extra powers."
"Hey. In my day, we didn't need special powers or battelizers. We got along just fine without them."
"There, there, old timer," Ronny called out from where she was playing pool with Tori, Xander and Will as Tyzonn watched. "There's no need to get jealous."
"I'm not jealous and I'm not old."
"Come on. You're the same age as Dr. O," said Kira.
Adam shot her a look. "I'm telling Tommy you called him old."
"So what are your powers, Bridge?"
Mack whirled around not having noticed that his father had come up behind them. He grinned at Mr. Hartford. "Why don't you demonstrate, Bridge, and tell us what you see?"
Once more removing the glove from his right hand, the Red SPD ranger passed it in front of the five gathered around the pool table and grinned. "Well apparently, Tori and Ronny have won two games against Xander and Will, and are just about to win a third."
"You can see that?"
"As if it wasn't obvious."
"Hey, I'm still planning on winning this round."
"Yeah! We'll see about that," Will boasted lining up his next shot. The resounding knock of cue against ball was followed by the echoing crack of ball against ball. The Black Overdrive ranger grinned as the ball sped into the corner pocket. Then his smile faded as he watched the rebounding cue ball aim directly at the eight-ball sinking it prematurely. He groaned.
"Hah, you sunk the eight-ball before finishing off the others. We win." Ronny high-fived Tori.
"Oh, man," declared Will.
"You see the future?" Rose asked Bridge.
"A little. Mostly when I read energies I just see some of what's hidden."
"What else did you see?" inquired Andrew.
"Well, Will has a sister named Maire."
"Bah, you probably just read that in a history book somewhere."
"Xander was once turned into a tree."
"It was an accident," the green ranger sputtered.
"Ronny will only race wearing her lucky socks."
"I still don't see what was wrong with my socks. Stupid Spencer washing all my luck away," she grumbled.
"Tori has a thing for guys who do motocross."
"Wait a minute! One guy. I'm into one guy who happens to do motocross."
"And Tyzonn is a Mercurian."
"Huh?" Kira got a puzzled look on her face. "What's a Mercurian?"
"Oh, didn't we mention that? He's an alien," enlightened Ronny.
Xander nodded. "That explains a few things."
"Hey," protested Tyzonn.
"Um, no offence."
"Mercurians are really good fighters," said Bridge. "A couple of them came to the academy after…" Suddenly, he stopped closing his eyes and putting his hands over his ears. "Must not talk about the future. Must not talk about the future. Must not talk about the future. Sky is going to kill me for coming here without a memory wipe."
Mack patted him on the arm. "Don't worry. We all promise to forget anything you accidentally mention. Right guys?"
With smirks on their faces, the others nodded.
"That's quite an interesting power you have there," commented Mr. Hartford.
"Isn't it neat," exclaimed Mack. "When he did me, he could even tell what I'd had for breakfast."
"He…." Andrew swallowed. "He read your aura?"
"Yeah. Apparently my aura is… What was it? Crimson magenta?"
"Crimson mauve with a shimmer of iridescent silver," repeated Bridge with his usual lopsided smile.
"But…" Mr. Hartford bit his lip his gaze searching Bridge's innocent expression and shook his head. "That's remarkable."
"Too bad you couldn't create cool powers like that," Mack teased.
Andrew raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so super strength isn't cool enough anymore."
The red overdrive ranger laughed.
"Hey, Mack," said Xander. "Fancy a game of pool. I think I could use a new partner."
"Actually, I've got an even better idea," announced Will glaring at his former partner. "A soccer game. New rangers versus old."
The Green Mystic Ranger frowned. "But there's only five of us and six of you."
"Afraid you'll lose?"
"No way. You're on." Xander smirked. "Besides I doubt Ty even knows how to play."
The two turned to the Mercury Ranger who blinked back at them. "What's a soccer?"
Will slapped a hand against his forehead. "So much for uneven odds."
"You backing out?"
"Oh, no. We're going to take you down." Will turned to his fellow teammates. "Right guys?"
"Do we have a choice?" asked Rose.
Kira shook her head. "Too late. I know what it's like with these guys. It's a matter of honour."
Adam ginned. "I guess it's time to defend our honour then."
"Right," agreed Mack. "I'll grab the ball. Last one to the back field's a lava lizard."
There was an immediate chaotic scramble as the rangers all raced outside, but before they vanished, Mr. Hartford called out, "Bridge, could I talk to you for a minute?"
The Green SPD ranger spun around quickly changing direction. "Sure, Mr. Hartford."
Andrew led Bridge towards his office throwing a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure the others were gone before he spoke. "I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about what you saw."
"What I saw?"
"What you saw in Mack's aura." Andrew rubbed his hands together nervously. "I just… I just wanted to…"
"You're worried about Mack," Bridge said.
Nodding, Andrew was quick to agree. "Exactly." He walked around his desk and settled down in the chair. "It's tough being both his parent and his mentor having to send him out to battle every day. I worry about him getting hurt. I worry about him being overwhelmed by the pressures of being a ranger. I worry about his relationships with his teammates. I kept him so sheltered his whole life… I just want to make sure he's healthy and happy."
"Like I told Mack, what I see isn't always clear and I can only do my best to interpret what I see."
"So…" Mr. Hartford's eyes were earnest, the look on his face almost pleading.
"Mack's a very special young man. He's uniquely innocent, driven, stubborn, thoughtful and incredibly caring. You must be very proud to have him as your son."
"I am." Nodding, Mr. Hartford smiled. "So… he's okay?"
"He's okay," Bridge agreed with a grin.
Quietly letting out a relieved breath, Andrew said. "You'd better go. The others will be waiting for you.
Bridge nodded and headed for the door but as he reached it, he suddenly spun on his heels and came back. "You know I've fought with a number of different rangers. My own team's changed about twice because, of course, when Sky got promoted from blue to red, I went from green to blue so we needed a new green. And then Sky was promoted again so I went from blue to red and the new green became the new blue so we needed a new new green."
Mr. Hartford frowned at him in confusion. "Yes…"
"Well, the most recent green is an old friend of mine. She's very special too. She was one of our most promising cadets, an expert in computers with excellent fighting technique. Of course, we had a bit of trouble accepting her at first because it turned out she's a bit different, but eventually we learned that these differences really didn't matter. You see Sophie's a cyborg. She's also a very important member of our team and one of my best friends." With that, Bridge once more began his exit.
Andrew's eyes were large and his mouth sat open, but he was able to pull it together before the red ranger was gone. "Bridge…"
The ranger glanced back at him.
"Thanks," was all Mr. Hartford managed to say.
Bridge grinned. "No problem," he replied before rushing out to join the others on the soccer field.