Pairings/: Post - Wes/Eric, Rocky/Adam, Shane/Dustin, Hunter/Cam, Carter/Dana, Andros/Ashley, Zhane/Karone, Carlos/Ronny, Jason/Taylor, Conner/Ethan, Justin/Rose, Tommy/Kimberly, Tyzonn/Mack, Cassie/OC, Nick/Maddison, Zack/Aisha, Trent/Kira, Post - Billy/Cestria. Future Ryan/Carter and Billy/Hayley. More couples will most likely be mentioned, but not shown.
prompt/: #1: Beginnings
Rating/: M (For violence and non-graphic mentions of sex, in accordance with site rules.)
Disclaimer/: I don't own the Power Rangers, but if Disney's hiring any new writers I volunteer.
Warnings/: A mentally handicapped person living in a medical facility, angst, male and female slash, non-cemented couples (In otherwords, pairings that will be separated), children created by scientific means, character death
Author's Notes/: Welcome to the beginning of my totally wacked-out S.P.D. universe. From here we will go into 'tribe-style' families, famous parentage, long-lost children, tragedy, and more aunts and uncles than you can shake a stick at. Such is the world of PR in my head. This might make slightly more sense if you've read any of A Darker Shade of Red (which is currently in the process of a rewrite anyway) but it's not required.

This story was written for the pr_au100 challenge, and most chapters are titled to their responding prompt. It starts in 2010, and S.P.D. will - eventually - start in 2028. I wanted to stick to cannon, but due to plot that would make Sky born in 2003, which is a little too soon for this story. While the majority of the story is from Wes' POV, every fifth chapter will be from Eric's. This does mean the timeline will jump around a lot between their POVs, so if you'd rather read the story in chronological order instead, you can find it at Archive of Our Own. (archiveofourown works/ 338328)

On a side note, the technology to create children between men does already exists. I read articles about it several years ago. (I'd link where I found it, but it was seriously like, ten years ago. Possibly more.)



He stared dismally at the drink in his hand. He had no idea what number he was on, but that wasn't the point anyway. The point was to drink himself into unconsciousness. If he was lucky, he'd die of alcohol poisoning.

Too bad luck was never on his side.

He blinked back tears, downed his drink, and decided he really didn't care. If anyone tried to make fun of him for crying, he was fully prepared to get into a drunken brawl. Even that had to be better than just sitting here, trying to determine how much alcohol it took to drown out the healing capabilities of his morpher.

He almost smiled. Drown out. Heh.

He jumped as someone plopped down on the stool next to him. Turning, he found a woman who appeared to be somewhere near his own age. She was pretty, shoulder-length blond curls falling messily into grayish-green eyes. A dress that seemed to be slightly big and didn't fit her quite right, and a drink in her hand.

She regarded him thoughtfully for a moment. "Hi."

He blinked back. "Hi."

"I'm really drunk." she informed him. "Otherwise I never would have walked over here."

His brow furrowed. "Why did you?"

"Because you look as miserable as I feel." She paused, raising her glass, and waited for him to toast her. "Life sucks," she announced, followed by a long swig.

He hmmed in agreement as he drank with her.

They remained together for hours, chatting about nothing in particular as they continued to get obscenely drunk. She hadn't asked why he was there drowning his sorrows, and neither did he. It was nice, really. Finally he'd found someone who understood that sometimes, you really didn't want to talk about it.

He liked her. She was nice, with a dry sense of humor and a way of bluntly stating her opinion that made her impossible not to like. And she didn't remind him in the least of -

"You wanna get out of here?" he slurred at last.

She blinked at him, giggled, and downed one last glass. "Okay!"

The sex was bad. Absolutely, horrifically bad. He wasn't sure if it even counted, considering how quickly it was over and how obviously neither of them had enjoyed it.

He watched the ceiling, sighing to himself as his morpher continued to burn the alcohol from his system. Man, this was so stupid. How exactly had anything he had done tonight helped his situation except to make him feel even more miserable? Rolling over onto his side, he fought the urge to cry. He wanted to go home, but now he wasn't even sure where that was.

She was watching him, a wry, somewhat amused smile on her face. "You're so gay," she told him.

He sighed, too tired and miserable to protest. "Yeah," he said at last.

She moved to sit up, not bothering to cover herself as she looked down at him. Her expression softened. "Relationship problems?"

The tears welled, and he was sobbing before he even realized it. Within moments, he'd spilled his entire story to her. Everything: from how they'd met, to becoming a Ranger, to moving in together, to their decision to try the experimental procedure, to the end of it all. He confessed how he'd known, all along, what was going to happen to their children, and how he'd promised Alex never to tell, to protect the Timeline. How *he'd* figured it out afterwards, and the things he'd said ...

His chest ached from crying so hard. "He hates me," he choked out. "He finally, *really* hates me ... " The words dissolved into an inarticulate moan of loss.

And the entire time her arms stayed around him, one stroking his hair while the other rubbed his back soothingly. She didn't try to offer words of comfort, or vague, useless assurances that everything would be fine. She just listened, and he loved her for it.

Finally he looked up at her as the sobs faded, leaving him with red eyes and a raw throat. "What's your name?" he wondered at last, sniffling.

She smiled softly, continuing to run her hand through his hair. "Vanessa," she answered. "Vanessa Tate. You?"

He sniffled again, leaning against her. "Wes Collins."

A month and a half of silence.

He'd tried everything he could think of: catching his eye, trying to corner him, 'accidentally' ending up in the same room alone together, camping out at his doorstep... Other than a simple, professional attitude, Eric refused to speak to him. It wasn't like he wouldn't look at him. But it was even worse than that: any time they happened to catch each other's eye, Eric stared back with a completely blank expression, as though they were barely acquaintances.

The night he'd given up and officially moved back in with his father, he'd cried for hours.

It was Phillips who'd comforted him, arranging for the moving company that had picked up his things. He'd been the one to explain things to Dad and made sure that no one said anything that would remind him of ... him. Dad had been supportive, if not confused by the abrupt end of their relationship after all the times he'd joked about giving him a son-in-law.

And life went on.

It wasn't impossible to live without Eric. Just hard. Mind-numbingly, heartbreakingly hard. Pretending he didn't remember what it was like to be stared at with those smoldering eyes, be held almost painfully tight by warm arms. The sight of one of Eric's rare smiles. Nights spent wrapped around one another as they came down from the high of making love.

He'd never felt this alone. Even he'd faced down hundreds of Cyclobots alone all those years ago, he'd known that his friends were with him in spirit even when he wouldn't allow them to be there at his side. He could still look down at his wrist and know that Eric had given him a powerful gift, trusting to him to give it back.

Now when he looked down at his wrist, he was reminded of the friends he'd never see again. Of the vague, brief calls they had exchanged, when Eric had spoken to him indifferently. And that hurt more than anything else, because instead of being cold and shutting him out, Eric had pushed him away to the point that he didn't even matter anymore.

It had been another day of silence, longing, and pain. He'd just finished his reports for the day and was about to head home when he noticed someone waiting in the lobby. "May I help you?" he asked politely.

She turned, and he froze. "Vanessa?"

She looked at him solemnly. "Wes, we need to talk."

He slumped back in his chair, running a hand through his hair in shock. "Wow ... " he muttered. "I ... wow ... "

"I'm not asking you for anything," she informed him calmly. "I don't need money, and I don't want child support. I just thought you should know." She stood, pushing her chair in. "I'd better get going."

"Wait!" He lunged out of his chair, catching her wrist. "You - you can't just go!" he protested. "I mean ... this is ... this is ... "

"Unexpected?" she suggested, looking mildly amused. "You're taking this better than I thought you would."

He frowned. "What did you think I would do?"

"Panic," she answered simply, gently freeing her wrist. She sighed, looking up at him. "Look, Wes. You deserve to know that you're going to be a father. But I have a job to get back to in Newtech City. I'm not putting my life on hold to rearrange you in it - that's not what either of us want. I'm not interested in starting a relationship with you. I've got my life, and you've got yours. I'll give you my contact information if you want it, so you can keep in touch with your child when it's born, but ... This isn't going to start anything between us." Her eyes softened at his stricken look, and she reached up to gently brush a hand along his cheek. "You're still in love with Eric. And I'm not in love with you." She withdrew, turning for the door again.

" ... What's in Newtech City?"

"Space Patrol Delta," she answered, glancing back at him. "I work in the science division. We're developing new technology in defense of the city, and eventually - we hope - in defense of the world."

He blinked for a moment. This had to be a coincidence. " ... You're making Power Rangers?"

"What we're making is classified," she retorted.

He smiled wryly, lifting his left wrist to show her his morpher. "There isn't much that's classified higher than this sort of clearance."

"You're not part of S.P.D."

"I could be."

She shot him a dark look. "You are not joining S.P.D. just because - "

"Vanessa, please," he begged. His eyes were pained. "I need ... I need something ... different. Something not here. I'll never get past this if I don't move on. And that can't happen here." He shrugged helplessly. "I'm not trying to say I want to come to Newtech City with you just for our child."

"But the thought's there," she reminded him pointedly.

He sighed. "Yeah, it is. But you're right; there's never going to be anything between you and me. And ... " He ran another hand through his hair, giving her that pleading expression again. "I just need something new. I guess ... I need a new me. And maybe I can find that there. With you - as a friend," he added hastily.

She sighed too, studying him for several minutes. "You're running away because you can't solve what's wrong in your life, and that's not going to get you anywhere in the end." She held up a hand when he tried to protest. "But ... you do need a friend. And if you want a fresh start, S.P.D. is a good place to go." She eyed him for a moment. "You're only staying with me until you find your own place, though. I am *not* taking in roommates."

Anything else she had to say was cut off by his tackling hug. "Thanks, Nes," he breathed in her ear, smiling even as tears picked his eyes.

"Don't ever call me Nes again, and we'll call it even," she retorted, patting him awkwardly on the back.

"So you're moving."

He winced. Somehow he'd hoped for a better reaction than this. He knew he wasn't going to get the 'You can't leave!' he was hoping for, but ... "It's a great opportunity to work on a project that could really help ... well, everyone. This is more than just protecting Silver Hills. This is like ... planetary scale. Galactic, even." He gestured widely for emphasis.

"So protecting Silver Hills isn't good enough for you anymore?"

He shot him an exasperated look. "You know that's not what I meant."

"Do I?" Eric retorted. "Apparently there's a lot about you that I don't know."

He flinched, blinking rapidly at the abrupt flare of pain that hit him in response. "Eric, you know more about me than anyone. You know I - "

"No," Eric cut him off, his expression as cold and blank as ever. "Obviously I don't know. Do what you want, Wes. You want a life outside of Silver Hills, go for it. Doesn't matter to me."

He bit the inside of his cheek hard, tasting blood. "Why?" he asked, his voice a lot softer than he wanted it to be. "It should. Because you still matter to me."

But Eric was already heading for the door.