Title: "Personal Space"
Written by: Shawn
Summary: Despite their unresolved personal issues, Syd rushes to find Sky after learning of a S.P.D mission tragedy.
Timeline/Spoilers: Everything up to and including the S.P.D finale is canon, but after that except for the Operation Overdrive team-up is my AU- This story takes place 3 years after that.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Power Rangers S.P.D. characters or settings. Disney owns it all. I won't make any money off this story.
Authors Notes 1: During the Operation Overdrive team-up episode it is learned that at S.P.D. Birdie retires, Cruger becomes the new Supreme Commander at S.P.D. HQ, and Sky becomes Earth's S.P.D. Commander
Authors Notes 2: Sky and Syd's relationship post S.P.D finale is explained in the story.
Authors notes 3: As with any organization, S.P.D has changed some over the years.
Dedicated to: My beloved sister, Kim aka Pink-Green-White-4Ever
"It is nonsense says reason It is misfortune says calculation It is nothing but pain says fear It is hopeless says insight It is ridiculous says pride It is careless says caution It is impossible says experience It is what it is says love"
7700 Valiant Drive
Tuesday, April 9, 2028 9:30 PM
New Tech City
Seated behind the small mahogany desk in his modest living room, Sky rubbed his tired eyes while typing on his Dell XPS-4000 laptop. The 3-D holographic screen's amber glow bothered his vision the longer it took him to write the three condolence letters to the families of his deceased agents after today's tragic event. Of all the tasks asked of him as the Delta Base Commander, this particular one... the first time he's had to under his command, were the most gut-wrenching.
Nonetheless, he persevered forward.
'From the official office of S.P.D. Earth: Delta Base Commander Schuyler Tate Tuesday, April 9, 2028
Dear Mr and Mrs. Saunders,
On behalf of the brave men and women who serve and protect here at S.P.D Earth, I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to you upon the death of your daughter, Cassidy Beth Saunders.
During Agent Saunders two years of S.P.D service, she distinguished herself among her peers and superiors by performing her duties with the utmost professionalism, courage, intelligence, and moral character. I can personally attest to her high-quality performance and the wonderful camaraderie she shared with her fellow agents. She was a valued member of my team, and you can be justly proud of her contributions. She saved lives on a daily basis, and had earned the respect and admiration of everyone here at S.P.D Earth.
I extend my deepest condolences to you and your family during your time of grieving. I hope that time and memories will help lessen the burden of your sorrow, and that you may draw some measure of comfort knowing that others care and share your loss.
Schuyler Tate Commander, Delta Base'
Sighing as he reclined back in his office chair, Sky ran his hand over his jaw, noting the evening stubble. His wrist burned when the bruise warping the skin tone there awakened. In the absolute dark of his apartment he felt crippled by the tomb-like silence surrounding him. A shot glass full of Vodka sat within arms reach, having never been touched. At least not yet.
Sky was exhausted after one of the toughest days of his entire life and a grueling, three-hour debriefing with his superiors. Having been officially absolved of any wrongdoing in his handling of today's hostage situation, that had no bearing on the fiery guilt eating his soul piece by piece. Cassidy Saunders, Jonathon Rhys, and Paul Manchester died today under his watch. C-squad agents assigned to provide lethal force should the hostage negotiations fail. And fail they did...
He felt as if he sent them to their deaths as surely as if he'd pulled the trigger himself.
Shutting his eyes to block out the pain, his head bowed, cradled in his hands. Brooding minus tears were a way of life he'd perfected long ago, so tonight resembled a home coming. He was starving after such a long, hard day. He was tired beyond words, his sore body aching, and as lonely as he had ever been. For someone who'd lived a solitary life like he had, that was saying a awful lot.
Bridge, Z, and Jack all left messages for him on his answering machine. No doubt the former Red Ranger had been watching the news reports covering today's hostage crisis. He hadn't listened to a single one yet, sure that they would be filled with caring, well wishes, and the offer of a non-judgmental ear if he needed to talk. But he didn't need to talk. Didn't want to. Had nothing to say to anyone.
Even less than that.
Four months ago began his descent and today was the ultimate culmination. Four months ago almost to the day Sydney walked out of his life claiming he just couldn't share enough of it with her. When he thought he had given her as much as he was capable of giving... when finally after years they'd given in to the fire between them... what he had to offer simply wasn't enough.
On rainy nights like these he'd become accustomed to not spending them alone. When he walked through the doors to his modest apartment, or Syd's lavish penthouse he felt at home not because of the four walls and ceiling, but because of the woman who taught him how to laugh, relax, and enjoy himself. She gave him a place to set aside his duty and service for a real life shared with another person. There was light in the world again, and she was the reason.
Visions of decadent nights spent thrilling her in bed drove him mad. He had been her first lover... and had every intention of being her last.
Now she was long gone and hadn't sent so much as a email his way since their break-up. His stubborn nature and male pride refused to let him chase after her. Only now in the dark, quiet of night did he regret not trying. He didn't just miss her, he needed her. But she needed more from him than he was capable of giving. He had tried hard, and so did she. Sometimes trying just wasn't enough to hold two people together. She put in for and was granted a extended leave of absence and was on a plane before he even had a chance to say goodbye.
"Whatever," Sky muttered angrily to himself, sick to death of stressing over his failed relationship. As if he hadn't done enough of that already. There were families grieving the death of a loved one tonight. He didn't feel he had the right to bitch about anything at all.
Suddenly his attention was drawn to the front door of his apartment when he heard it move. His hand instinctively went for the blaster kept in the left drawer until the door slowly opened, having been unlocked with a key. Only one person other than him had one and she was in London.
When in fact, she wasn't.
Walking in slowly, Sydney stood in the shadows of the entrance to his apartment, her gaze penetrating through the dark, searching until her eyes met his. The mere sight of her left after so long Sky breathless. Her beige jacket was dotted with dark marks courtesy of tonight's thunderstorm. He couldn't see her face, but didn't need to. Her ethereal beauty was etched onto his subconscious.
Even if he went blind someday he'd still be able to see her.
"Sky?" she called out to him in a soft tone, and then shut the door behind her. As soon as her flight landed an hour ago she hadn't given thought to if this was a good idea or not. As soon as word spread about today's hostage situation she flew through heavy evening traffic to reach him. Now that she was here she began questioning why. "Are you going to turn on the lights or do I have to talk to you in the dark?"
Her presence was the last thing he needed tonight. Unexpected and a further dagger to his already broken spirit. "Why are you here?"
"I've been asking myself that exact same question." Syd flipped the wall light switch, illuminating the apartment she'd spent some of the best times of her life in. Her personal fingerprints were everywhere, from the upscale furniture she picked out to the oil paintings on the wall she drew and gave to him as a housewarming gift. This was home... and yet it wasn't. Her heart clenched at the thought. "I just got back into New Tech City. I heard about what happened on the news."
Sky's expression remained unreadable. "I'm fine."
"Sure you are," she noted in a unbelieving tone, rounding the living room to his desk. The urge to touch him was almost painful until she got a good look at him and felt even worse. It wasn't just his beaten mood, or the weariness staring back at her in his eyes. For a man so incredibly handsome and strong... he looked old to her for the very first time. Unthinkable considering his age, but still. "Let me guess? You aren't answering the phone, haven't eaten, haven't slept, and you're brooding in the dark all by your lonesome?"
He hated how well she knew him. He hated a lot of things these days. "It's irrelevant."
"You have to take care of yourself."
"I know how to do that just fine without you."
His pointed stare bore holes through her. Had she expected that he wouldn't be angry? No, she knew different. But it still hurt to have him look at her like she was a stranger. "I'm worried about you."
"I can't help it," she replied while coming around his office chair. Peeking over his shoulder, she read the document he was writing on his laptop and sighed. "I knew Cassidy. She was getting married later this year. We were invited before..." Sky rose from his chair, grumbling loudly while separating himself from her. He marched towards the terrace doors overlooking the city. Rain showered against the window glass while he stared out, his arms behind his back. "Talk to me?"
"Why should I? You don't want to be here."
"If I didn't want to be here I wouldn't be here." Roaring to his side, she longed to reach out and touch him, but feared his rejection. Ever mindful she rejected him first months ago, what hope did she have now? Their emotional holding pattern had returned with renewed force. Still, she had to try. "I care about you, Sky."
Silence. He had nothing to say. Even as her presence was... comforting.
"I wanted to check on you."
Soft footfalls closed in on him from behind. Thunder boomed in the distance. Sky didn't move a muscle. "Like I told you, I'm fine."
"No, you're torturing yourself over what happened." The flash of anger that came over his face didn't deter her in the least. "You're feeling guilty. You think this is all your fault."
"Get the fuck out of my head!" Sky shoved the terrace double-doors open, walking directly out into the pouring rain, his red shirt soaking almost instantly. When he spun to face her the emotion swirling inside him dared to explode "YOU DON''T UNDERSTAND!" he shouted at her, his hand coursing through his hair as pain swept over his face.
Patiently, she had waited for and received exactly what she expected of him. Walking out onto the stone terrace, she almost enjoyed the rains downpour as it seemed appropriate for their confrontation. "Make me understand?" she asked while standing in front of him, ever his equal. Her hands lifted, coming to rest over soaking fabric covering his belly. She tenderly focused on his face, wondering if there were any tears cloaked behind the droplets falling down his cheeks. "Talk to me?"
Gazing in spite of himself, Syd was poignantly beautiful to Sky. The soft curtain of blond curls he used to run his hands threw framed the most lovely face he had ever known. How ironic that the same woman he loved with all his heart had utterly broken it. "You walked out on me."
"You tuned me out long before that. What I did, I did for me."
"Then why are you back at all?"
"Because I made some mistakes too. I'm not perfect. Never have been and never will be," she confided as the blustery rainfall swept over them, drenching both. "Enough about us for now. Tell me about the mission?"
Sky rubbed his tired eyes, soaking wet and drowning in despair. "The Zanatos high-rise building was attacked on its top floor by a small extremist group using alien weaponry. They took the entire floor by force and held twelve people hostage. They wanted the company's C.E.O to transfer a massive amount of money to a off-shore account. They hoped they could do this quietly, but someone was able to trip a hidden silent alarm not attached to the buildings power supply. When the extremists cut the power to the floor they thought it would be a easy operation. Twenty minutes later they were surrounded on all sides."
"I had snipers on rooftops adjacent to all four corners of the building and two heli-choppers circling at all times. I told the extremists they were surrounded and had no hope of escape. If they gave themselves up peacefully my men wouldn't shoot. They pretended to be considering the deal, but one of my men caught sight of them attaching bombs to the hostages chest's." Sky slowly shook his head, moisture dripping off his face. "I ordered my teams to go in. They were able to take out all of the extremists except one. He detonated a bomb he was holding in his hand. The blast killed three of my people."
Syd swallowed hard, nodding. "And the hostages?"
"All of them alive and accounted for."
As terrible as the loss of the agents was, Syd took his strong hands in hers, curling around them. Binding them. "What happened wasn't your fault."
A tightness constricted Sky's chest. "I doubt their families would say that."
"No, not today." Syd continued, "Their grief is to fresh. But they know, just like your agents that when you sign up for this life there are no guarantees for anyone. People have died before, died today, and will die tomorrow somewhere in the world trying to serve and protect the public. That's a sad fact of our job."
Sky roared, "I SENT THEM TO DIE, SYD! DON'T YOU GET THAT?! I SHOULD HAVE USED ANOTHER PLAN OF ATTACK!"
"YOU DID WHAT YOU WERE TRAINED TO DO. I KNOW YOU! NO ONE COULD HAVE COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN OF ATTACK THAN YOU. BUT BAD THINGS HAPPEN. YOU KNOW THAT!" Shouting wasn't getting them anywhere. Sydney knew this was the burden of all commanders. When you're in charge and people die under your command, its just a different form of grieving then if you simply knew them or even worked alongside them. She blew out a breath, concluding that, "You did your best."
"They're still dead."
"They were killed by that extremist group. Its their fault, not yours." She watched his face wince painfully as he tried to deal with the deaths and her heart went out to him.
It was so hard for him to show his true feelings... being vulnerable wasn't easy for any man, especially him. But here and now, he opened himself to her. "I feel like I failed them, Syd."
"You didn't, love."
"I wished I'd done something differently. Anything. I just... I don't know. I've never lost anyone since I became Delta Base Commander. And... I'm scared. I admit it. I'm worried I'm not cut out for this. Not like I thought I was."
In the midst of a thunderstorm Syd entered his personal space, her hand smoothing away the moisture on his face, the pad of her thumb soothing over his cheek. His eyes sparkled, evidence that he had been crying. Typical that he could only do it when he didn't think she'd notice. Still, he'd given her all that she had wanted. All that she had ever asked of him. "I love you."
Her beloved declaration cut through his soul, leaving him breathless. "But you still left me."
"Then its time I rectify that."
Without warning, her mouth possessively claimed his.
Syd melted against his strong frame when he hauled her tight to his chest, the heat of him curling around her. With rainfall dousing them constantly Sky hungrily worshiped her soft mouth, having ravenously craved the sweet taste since the day she walked out of his life. For an endless moment they purged the darkness around them, lost in the seductive passion that had always lived between them.
For a brief, perfect moment in the rain... all was right in the world.
Upon breaking their kiss, Sky was overcome by the reality of holding her in his arms again. He gently stroked her cheek, grazing the smooth, soft skin. She was so beautiful sometimes it hurt to even look at her. "Thank you."
Peering into the night, the rain gave way to a cool, misty drizzle. Sky shut his eyes. "I tired of the dark."
"Then let me bring you back into the light." Taking his hand in hers, Syd led Sky out of the rain and back inside his apartment... back into the light. Symbolic, in a manner of speaking.
Together they sought the mahogany leather sectional couch. She sat while he took the small glass coffee table, facing her. Neither were sure where to begin. Perhaps it was enough that they were going to begin at all. Something that was broken between them needed to be fixed and they intended to fix it. The only question was how.
Unable to come up with anything else, Sky blurted out, "You're dripping all over my couch."
"Wow, Captain Obvious. That's such an astute observation." Syd rolled her eyes sarcastically, all the while measuring a small smile she hoped would elicit one from him. So far she was treated only to a mild turn of his lips. Good enough for now. "I missed you."
"You had a really funny way of showing it by not contacting me once in four months."
That stung, but at least now she had the opportunity to explain. "I needed time away from you to think about my life. Where it was, is, and where I want it to go. You were a distraction."
Scowling again, Sky tensely noted, "You do any thinking two weeks ago on the night of the symphony premier in London when you were with that guy?" She didn't feign ignorance, and was seemingly more curious than caught off guard. "I saw you holding his hand. It was all over the news. People were speculating he was your new boy toy."
"Boy toy is right," Syd muttered humorously half under her breath, trying not to laugh at his obvious jealousy. "John was my date for the evening, my shopping buddy during the day, and took me to my hair appointment. I've known him for years. We've even done each others nails. He's as sweet as they come and couldn't be any less interested in me if he tried."
Sky snorted. "Yeah, like any straight guy could resist you."
"If you think hard enough, you've answered your own question." The splash-of-ice-cold-water realization that dawned on his face made him smirk, edging ever so closer to a actual smile. She had him on the ropes and she knew it. "I couldn't think of anyone but you while we were apart."
"Well... I am unforgettable."
She gave him a tiny kick in his leg. "You're such a ass, Sky."
"Yeah, but you love me..." he tapered off, awaiting her reply.
"Yes, I do," she reassured him, noting that he exhaled deeply. She thought that was sweet. "With all that free time to myself, I found this incredible book that's helped me understand my life and our relationship in ways I never imagined."
"A book did all that?"
"Let's just say the author had already walked the path of my life. I got a chance to see things from a different perspective, both professionally and personally."
Syd meant every word she said, so he took her seriously. "Tell me about the book?"
Smiling inwardly, Syd began, "Its called 'Chronicles of the Crane', and was written by Kimberly Ann Hart-Oliver back in 2010. The foreword talks about how she felt compelled to write it after the birth of her first son, James."
Knocking that name around his mind a bit, Sky asked, "Wasn't she the first Pink Ranger?"
"Exactly," Syd nodded. "She talked about wanting to chart her journey through life up until the incredible moment she became a mother. It reads almost like a diary, but it has a lasting message of love and acceptance of whatever life throws at you. In particular she had a chapter titled 'Loving A Complicated Man Without Killing Him.' She dedicated that to her husband, Tommy"
"I'm sure he was overjoyed with that one."
"He reminded me alot of you," Syd added to his surprise, and then sighed. "They had a very long, very hard road before they were finally together. It took them a very long time, was never easy, and they had a separation that lasted years. But the book talked about love and life not being promised to anyone and how you have to grab whatever makes you happy and hold on tight. I saw alot of myself in the author and I came to the conclusion that it takes two to tango. I may have broken up with you, but I was every bit as responsible as you. And I want to tell you how sorry I am for not trying harder to work things out. I made a rash decision when I broke up with you. I reacted instead of expressing to you how hurt I felt." She finished, "This is my first adult relationship and I made alot of mistakes. I'm just learning as i go. But even the former spoiled princess had to grow up."
This was as far away from Sky's comfort zone as it could be, and probably the most important conversation of his entire life. He took a deep breath and pressed forward. "I... I should have been more open with you. I wanted to be, its just... I struggle with letting people in. And that includes you. I know why and I'm dealing with it, but I should have tried harder. Sometimes I just get caught up in this Ranger life and it consumes me. Sky the soldier knows what he's supposed to do and say at all times. But Sky the man... the young man at that... he still a work in progress."
Bowing her head briefly, Sydney felt she had to tell him exactly what was on her mind. "At the end I just felt you were never serious enough about me to try and change. I just didn't think you loved me enough to be the man I needed you to be. I felt like maybe I was an after thought to you." When her gaze lifted she found the most serious expression she had ever seen settle his face. He looked so disappointed that she could tell it wasn't in her, but himself. And then his usual guarded emotions seemed to trickle away when he softened before her very eyes.
Without saying a single word, Syd watched him rise to his feet and exit the room. She wasn't sure what was happening until he returned from his bedroom, took his seat on the coffee table again...
... and placed a small black jewelry box next to her.
"That's how serious I was about you. And still am."
Syd had no clue how she was still breathing because her heart flat-out stopped beating the moment she saw that box. That very small, very familiar box that could only hold one thing. For the longest time she questioned his dear heart and if she there were a place for her in it. She worried that when the passion of having longed for each other for so long was finally fulfilled the heat wore off and he wasn't nearly as interested. She hated feeling as though they were just going through the motions.
Feeling like this was a life changing event, Sky began nervously pacing in front of Syd while she continued staring at the box. "Look, I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. To be perfectly honest, I can be a world class jerk sometimes. But I have always loved you. Always. I just don't know how to act like a normal guy. I mean... I'm not sure what I mean. I want to romance you and make you feel special and never doubt that you are my whole world. But I'm a soldier and a loner. I'm not much for flowers and candy. I just love you like crazy. I swear it."
Every single insecurity she had ever had about their relationship was answered by what was inside of that little box. Syd swore she hadn't blinked in over a minute. Her mouth was dry and if she were breathing, well, that was God acting to keep her alive. Her mind was absolute mush.
"I bought that two months before we broke up," Sky told her, his hands practically shaking at his sides. He couldn't stand still to save his life. "I knew we were going through a tough patch, but all couples do. In my simple male mind I was sure we'd get through it and then I would... well, you know."
Syd finally looked up at Sky, noting the intense fear and insecurity she'd never seen on him before. He was visibly shaken and pouring his heart out. She hadn't the words to say. She was utterly lost.
And then it hit her.
Blinding light, fucking bolt of electricity hit her!
She knew what she wanted.
"Now I know me springing that on you was sudden and..." Sky stopped mid-sentence when Sydney stood to her feet and walked past him right out of his apartment without so much as uttering a single word or shutting the door behind her. He stood there stunned, his eyes as barren as the desert itself. To much. It was all to much to fast. He'd pushed to hard and now she was off and running. He couldn't blame her. She was trying to have a talk with him and work things out when BAM, he laid down the gauntlet of all gauntlets.
As bad a day as he'd had, Sky felt much worse now. When maturity and perspective were helping him cope with the tragedy, his heart began hoping again. He should have known otherwise. She left before and she left again. Maybe he'd better start wising up.
Minutes passed with him just staring at his open front door.
His wet clothes stuck uncomfortably to his skin. He felt achy, hungry, pissed off, and sad all at the same time. "What a day its been," he mused darkly to himself until he heard noise coming from just down the hall. Walking across the room, by the time he reached the open door Syd marched in past him carrying her luggage.
The absolute look of shock he wore was worth her running back into the building, and then to his apartment out of the elevator. "Sweetheart, you're gonna need a whole lot more closet space."
Blue eyes followed her every step into his bedroom with her things. He heard her throw them on the floor and then return to the living room to grab the little black box off the couch. She was either crazy or she truly loved him. Maybe she was crazy for truly loving him, but he wasn't about to complain. "Uhm..."
"Sky," Syd spoke his name softly, walking up to him. She held the box out in the palm of her hand. "If you're going to do it, do it right."
Inhaling a deep breath, Sky slowly took the box from her trembling hand, and then opened. He'd dreamed of her eyes glistening with tears the moment she saw the ring, and as his dreams were answered she was more beautiful than he had ever seen her before. A two carat princess cut diamond with a blue and pink sapphire on opposite sides was as much a sentimental nod to their beginning as the ring itself was a promise for the future.
Syd's hand covered her mouth the second he fell to one knee before her. This day would never come. That's what she thought. Not for them. Not with the lives they led and the years it took them to even admit their love. But lo and behold, a miracle. She was undone, weeping softly while gazing into his blue eyes.
"Sydney, I'm not a poet. I can't recite you a poem because I honestly don't know any. I'm not a writer or anything special, really. I'm just a not so normal guy who is madly in love with you. And it would mean the world to me if you would be my wife. So please marry me? I need you to marry me."
Brushing a stray tear off her cheek, Syd smiled brightly. "Do you promise to let me decorate our new house without any of your input?"
"I wouldn't want to go shopping with you if you threatened to hang me."
She laughed softly behind her tears. "Will you cook for me?"
"Trust me. You wouldn't want that."
Finally, there was her big, luminous Sky smile. The one that lit up his whole face and made her heart flutter. She didn't get to see them all that often, so when she did she knew it was special. "Yes, Sky. I will marry you." She watched him slip the diamond ring on her finger in awe. Tears fell, cascading of the side of her cheek. She couldn't stop them if she tried. And when she found his handsome face beaming at her... well, it was Christmas morning. "You are so lucky to have me."
"And you are ever so humble," he laughed while drawing her into his arms.
"I'm lucky too. And very, very happy."
"Yes." When he slowly lifted her off her feet, her legs wrapped around his waist, intimately securing her body to his. Her arms slid around his neck, their lips a breath away. "Take me to bed," she whispered before grazing his lips with her tongue, and then a soft kiss.
Walking them towards his bedroom, Sky confessed, "You saved me."
"I think we saved each other."
"We'll argue about it later, honey."
"Sky, did you just call me honey?"
Yeah, he did. And he was smiling when he said it. "I love you too, honey."
For Kim - Happy birthday, sis