Relationship: Zhane/Sky Tate, Jack Landors/Syd Drew
Disclaimer: I don't own Power Rangers, because I probably wouldn't have done this to it even if I did. This is all purplestripe66's fault.
Warning: Character with depression/health issues
Author's Notes: This is both easier and harder to write than I thought it would be. I'm still not entirely sure where I'm going with it yet, so opinions/requests are encouraged. Love to BlackCrimsonLight for beta.
He woke to cold and faces crowded around him, hovering, poking, prodding. He recognized none of them, and his silent cry for the one person he wanted, needed, hadn't been answered. The panic that overwhelmed him was instinctive, as was the telekinetic burst that sent them all flying. He was on his feet in an instant, stumbling down corridors he didn't know past people he barely registered, the mental cry becoming a continuous scream for help.
He vaguely remembered fighting his way past guards and people who wore bright colors. The Colors seemed vaguely familiar, so he made sure to only leave them disabled. It wasn't like he actually wanted to hurt anyone, anyway. He just wanted to get out of this strange place so he could go home.
But his escape from the Poking/Corridors/Guards/ColoredPeople left him out in what he recognized as fresh air, but nothing more. His eyes flickered wildly from building to building, past the people on the sidewalks who stared back at him. This wasn't KO-35. This wasn't even Eltar. It was too cold, too much metal and stone. Too much tension in the air, not enough calm and clarity.
Later he would realize that he was in shock, that it wasn't like him to react this way, but for now he kept running. He tried to call his Galaxy Glider but received no answer, which meant that D.E.C.A. wasn't here. No Andros, no D.E.C.A. He was all alone, and he didn't know where or why.
Running had eventually gotten him to the top of this building, staring down at the people below. He wasn't sure why he'd come back to this building in particular, but he didn't really know anywhere else to go. Even if they'd kidnapped him or something, if they had the technology to contain him, that meant they would have the technology for him to call for help.
Wherever help was.
The view from up here wasn't too bad. You could see the entire city sprawling across the landscape. Not the greatest place to be if you had a fear of heights, but it was peaceful.
He wished it was an endless sea of grass, with buildings in the far distance. That the tiny people below wore capes and had duo-toned hair, and their children carried telekinesis balls with them. He wished for the spaceport dock and the soothing atmosphere of people greeting one another softly as they moved through their lives.
It didn't really matter how much he wished for it, though. It couldn't change what it was. And wishing wasn't going to do anything but make him upset again.
The barest whisper of a footstep came from behind him, and he whirled. "Super Silverizer!"
The dark-skinned teen across from him instantly held up his hands. "Whoa, hey. Take it easy," he said slowly.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"Jack Landors, S.P.D." The teen eyed him. "I'd show you my badge, but I'd rather not get shot."
The corner of his mouth threatened to twitch. "Where am I?"
"The top of the S.P.D. Earth headquarters in Newtech City. Although why you came back here after the fight you put up to get away ... " Jack raised his eyebrows.
The urge to lower his weapon was strong, and he had to fight it. This kid wasn't a threat, but that didn't mean whoever he worked for wasn't. Or that he was really alone.
"Why am I here?" he asked instead.
"We were sort of hoping you could tell us," Jack returned with a shrug. "I haven't even gotten the full story on what happened yet. All the commander told us was that you had escaped, and we needed to get you back to S.P.D. before you got hurt."
"Before I get hurt?" he repeated, mildly annoyed. Who did these people think he was? Some rookie amateur? He was the Silver Ranger. "I can take care of myself, thanks."
"Never said you couldn't," Jack shot back. "But it helps to know what's going on first, doesn't it?"
"It might," he acknowledged. "But I don't have any reason to trust you. I don't even know you."
Jack took something from his belt, moving slowly enough to keep from making him anxious. "Here. Take my morpher."
He froze, staring down at the device being offered to him so casually. It wasn't one he recognized, but even from here he could tell that it was the genuine article. "You're a Ranger?"
"S.P.D. Red Ranger," Jack confirmed with a nod, still watching him carefully. "Go on. Take it."
He shook his head, lowering his Silverizer at last. "No. You're a Ranger. I already know I can trust you."
For some reason that seemed to surprise Jack, but at last he nodded. "Will you come with me to meet Commander Cruger, so he can explain things? No one's gonna to hurt you, I promise."
He raised his eyebrows behind his helmet, somewhat amused. "I think you guys should be more worried about what I might do to you."
"Nah. That's what my second-in-command's for," Jack said easily. "Him being a paranoid freak makes my life a lot easier."
He laughed outright. "That's what - " He paused in mid-sentence, a sudden wave of loneliness sweeping over him. "That was my partner's job," he finished quietly.
Jack's gaze was sympathetic, but all he said was "Follow me. We can take the long way down this time, instead of, uh ... " He glanced warily at the railing behind him. "Your way."
He finally managed a smile he knew the other wouldn't see. "But that was the fun part."
The walk down to wherever Jack was leading him was silent and filled with startled people staring at them as they passed. He gave them only a cursory glance, more interested in understanding where he was and what was going on. "You said you're a Ranger, right?" he asked suddenly.
Jack glanced back at him. "Yeah. Why?"
"If this base of yours is used to Rangers, why is everyone staring at me?"
Jack grinned a little. "Well, I'd imagine they're not so used to us bringing in the people who attacked us without them wearing handcuffs. Speaking from personal experience," he added, making him wonder. "Besides, most of our Rangers don't go cruising around the base in uniform."
He frowned. "I attacked you?" He paused as he remembered something about guards and Colored People being in the way. "Oh. Oh! Um, sorry? I wasn't, uh - "
"It's cool," Jack interrupted, giving him an easy smile. "It wasn't like anybody was seriously hurt, anyway. Even my squadmate said that you were just trying to get out, and we were in the way."
He wondered what significance the opinion of Jack's squadmate made, and what exactly a squadmate was. He looked at Jack and shrugged a little. "I didn't know where I was."
Jack just nodded. "And it's not like anyone took the time to explain things to you yet, I figure." He shook his head with a dramatic sigh. "Typical S.P.D. Induce panic first, answer questions later."
He laughed without meaning to. "I take it you're not part of the recruitment?"
"I got told I join S.P.D. or go to jail," Jack snorted. "So, yeah. No. Not really."
"Sounds like a fun place," he said wryly.
Jack shrugged. "It's not so bad," he admitted to his surprise. "I didn't want to be here - still don't, really - but there are worse places I could have ended up. And at least this time I know what the other side of the law is really doing."
The more Jack talked, the more interesting he became. It was too bad he'd be leaving soon.
Although he did wonder why Jack hadn't said anything about him needing to power down - not that he would have.
At last they stopped outside a set of double doors that slid open automatically, revealing dozens of computers and what looked like some surveillance equipment. It was also strangely empty, except for the large Syrian that was obviously waiting for him, a small Dosian woman at his side. Just how stupid where these people? If those two were all that was supposed to be keeping him from breaking out of here, they were in for a serious surprise.
"Commander Cruger, Sir. The Silver Ranger as ordered, Sir," Jack announced, and there was something subtly mocking in his tone that amused him. Problems with authority, huh? Jack was definitely his kind of guy.
"Thank you, Cadet Landors," the Syrian returned with a rather pointed stare. "You are dismissed."
Jack turned to leave, flashing a wink at him as he did. "Good luck," he murmured.
The thought of using him as a hostage flashed through his mind briefly, but he liked Jack too much to honestly consider it.
His thoughts were interrupted by the Syrian clearing his throat loudly. "Greetings, Zhane of KO-35. I am Commander Anubis Cruger of S.P.D. Earth. This is Dr. Kat Manx." The commander's greeting was calm and cold, followed by a brief nod of acknowledgement in his direction. Apparently he was assuming anything that came after his name was supposed to mean something. "I understand that you are very confused right now, and I apologize. I was asked to give you this should you awake while under my care."
He eyed the disk being offered to him warily, his eyes flickering up to Cruger's and back as his hands remained at his sides.
"I'll play it for you," Dr. Manx spoke up. He noticed that she moved to take the disk from Cruger with both hands where he could see them, watching him carefully as she took it - a beautiful woman, but not a stupid one. He didn't stop her, although his eyes followed her without ever letting Cruger out of his line of sight.
His head came up at the painfully familiar voice, staring at the image of Andros being projected for him. His partner looked ... old. Older, at any rate. There were lines around his eyes that hadn't been there before, as well as a relaxed look in his eyes and stance. Geez, his hair was even loose. What was going on here?
"I wish I could be there to explain all this to you in person," Andros began, looking guilty. "But I promise you can trust these people. I wouldn't have left you with them if you couldn't."
Andros hesitated, at last looking down with a pained expression. "Zhane ... there's no easy way to tell you this. You ... Do you remember the fight for KO-35, when Dark Specter invaded? Do you remember stepping in to take on that monster for me?" There was a deliberate pause, and the grief in his friend's eyes increased. "You nearly died, Zhane. There was nothing anyone could do ... so I put you in cryogenic stasis, hoping you'd wake up one day." He managed a smile, but it was so fake it was painful to look at. "And now you finally have."
Zhane knew Andros. They'd known each other since the Collegiate, back when they were only children. He knew, better than anyone, just how to read his best friend.
Andros didn't think he was going to wake up.
This message ... whatever it was ... had been an attempt for Andros to convince himself that Zhane wasn't really dead. Because by the time he'd recorded it - or maybe even when he first put him in stasis - he'd given up hope that he ever would.
This message was Andros' last goodbye.
He swallowed hard. The video was still playing, but he no longer cared. "How long?" he asked hoarsely.
"Forty-nine years." Dr. Manx's voice was soft as she watched him with sympathy. "The invasion of KO-35 where you were assumed dead was in 437 A.C. Earth standard time has been twenty-four years."
Almost fifty years. He swayed, groping behind him for a chair as he stumbled. He ended up leaning against a console instead. " ... Andros?" he managed weakly.
"Is alive," she promised gently. "He currently lives on Earth with his wife Ashley Hammond, the former Yellow Space Ranger. They live not far from here. "She hesitated. "It was Andros' wish that he be nearby if you ever woke up."
Another attempt at clinging to hope. "Why ... how did I get here?" he wondered eventually, more to himself than her. "Why am I not on KO-35?"
"KO-35 was invaded during the battle in which you were injured," she explained. "Your stasis chamber was on the Astro Megaship, with the Astro Rangers. The ship was donated to the Galaxy Rangers during their journey to Mirinoi with the space colony Terra Venture. You remained with it until shortly after the founding of the S.P.D. base on Earth, at which point Andros thought it might be best if you were left with people who might be better able to care for your needs. That's where you are now," she added as he stared at her blankly. "Space Patrol Delta, in Newtech City on the planet Earth, in the Milky Way Galaxy- formerly known as Galaxy 1542-B."
His coffin was being passed around between random Rangers because Andros didn't want to admit he might not ever wake up again? The thought made him sick, and he fought the urge to put his head between his knees. The urge to unbuckle his helmet was overwhelming, and his fingers fumbled with the clasps. He took in several deep breaths as he lowered it, trying to force his stomach to settle.
"I understand this has been a massive shock to you," Cruger spoke up, and he nearly jumped. He'd forgotten he was there. "If you'd like, Ms. Manx can show you to a room - "
"No," he interrupted, forcing air into his lungs. He swallowed again, took another breath, and made himself stand up straight. "I want to know more about S.P.D."
They both stared at him.
"My friend thinks I died fifty years ago," he reminded them flatly, and the words hurt. "If I'm alive, then I'm going to start living again. I want to know more about this place, and why Andros would have left me here. He wouldn't have if he didn't think there was something I could do."
Cruger and Ms. Manx exchanged glances. "If you wish ... " Cruger said warily.
It took a moment, but at last he managed a smile that didn't look completely fake. "Hey, I'm the Silver Ranger. I sit around when there's chores to be done and show up when there's a fight to win. Now what fight can you throw me into?"
"Are you sure we should be doing this so soon?" he asked, watching the doorway to the 'rec room' as they'd called it, suspiciously. "I don't even have a uniform yet. Shouldn't this wait until I'm official or something?"
"I see no reason to put off the inevitable," Cruger told him. He tilted his head, raising what was apparently his eyebrows. "Have you changed your mind?"
"Of course not." He pushed away the indignant feeling and shrugged. "It just seems ... I dunno. Sudden. They probably won't appreciate this."
"I'm not asking for their approval. Placing you with the Rangers is the most logical choice in our situation. They will simply have to adjust."
And I'll just bet they'll love that ... he sighed to himself. Instead he nodded. "After you, big guy," he said cheerfully, flashing a cheeky grin. Something about Cruger rubbed him the wrong way, and he was determined to make the feeling mutual.
He didn't think it would take long.
Cruger sighed, striding forward with the confidence of a man who was used to having everyone follow his orders. Zhane waited a good minute before following along at a lazy stroll, helmet tucked under one arm. He wanted to make a good impression on these other Rangers, after all.
"I don't trust him," he heard someone say stubbornly as he neared the door. "He comes out of nowhere, attacks us, we drag him back here, and now we're inviting him to join S.P.D.? It's an invitation for trouble, Sir."
"Of course it is," he announced brightly as he walked in. "Trouble and I are best friends. We like to make life interesting for everyone else."
He clearly heard Jack snicker, and saw most of the others fighting grins.
He turned to the only one who hadn't smiled, a tall, grumpy-looking blond. "You must be Jack's second. I hear you're the stiff, awkward, responsible one. I'm Zhane. Congratulations. You're going to hate me," he informed him cheerfully, holding out a hand.
The others snickered wildly as the blond stared back at him, unamused, and ignored his hand. "You're not funny," he growled.
"Popular opinion says otherwise. Maybe you just need a better sense of humor," he returned. He turned abruptly to offer his hand to the rumpled looking guy in green behind the grumpy one instead. "Hi. Nice to meet you."
The other boy waved, offering a reluctant smile. "Hi. I'm Bridge. Sorry I uh, don't shake hands. It's nothing personal, I just ... can't. It's sort of a ... thing. Not as in a I don't like people thing, or an I'm anti-social thing, but more like a - "
"Bridge!" the pretty blond girl to his left interrupted, rolling his eyes. She stepped forward with a flirtatious smile of her own as she offered her hand. "I'm Syd. It's nice to meet you. Don't mind Sky - he's just Sky. And Bridge is always like that."
He took her hand and leaned forward to delicately kiss the back instead of shaking it, glancing up to meet her eyes with an enamored smile. "It's an honor, Miss Syd. I've never met a female Ranger before." It was one of his best lines, and it always caught the ladies hook, line, and sinker. Even if it wasn't necessarily true ...
She flushed and giggled, batting her eyes at him coyly. "Then I'm glad to be your first," she cooed back, practically oozing pheromones.
Ooh, he liked this one. She knew how to play the game. Come to mention it, she was rather easy on the eyes, too.
"Oh, please," grumbled the other girl, this one a brunette with eyes that challenged his when he looked at her. "Spare the rest of us, would you? I'm Z," she added. She seized his hand in a firm grip before he could kiss hers, giving it a brief, hard shake.
He grinned and winked at her as he shook out his hand when she released him. "Nice to meet you too, Z," he said wryly. She wasn't half bad, either. Reminded him a lot of one of the academy girls ... What was her name again? The one with the cute twin sister who liked to show off her legs ...
After a moment he realized he couldn't remember, and frowned a little. That was ... odd. Hadn't they all spent time together? He could have sworn -
"I hope you remember me," a vaguely familiar voice announced, sounding far too close, and he instinctively took a step back. He blinked when he realized the boy from the roof - Jack, right? - was nearly in his face, grinning and making an slightly less-than-subtle attempt to catch his attention. Had he been that out of it?
He nodded solemnly in response, holding out his hand again. "The guy who doesn't appreciate the value of a good building climb. We'll have to work on that." He kissed Jack's answering hand with the same amount of flare as he'd given Syd's, releasing him swiftly and glancing back towards Sky, who looked startled and scandalized all at once. "You were right about him," he noted. "Paranoid definitely sums him up in a nutshell."
The others laughed, only to hurriedly quiet themselves when Cruger cleared his throat loudly. "I hope you will all do your best to make Zhane feel at home Rangers," he began, and Zhane was amused at how much it almost sounded like a threat. "From now on he will be a part of your Squad and your Ranger team, and I expect you to treat him as such. That is all."
"Sir!" they chorused, sliding into some weird sort of arm-jerk reaction.
Zhane stared blankly at them all as Cruger nodded and left them to their own devices. After a moment, he glanced around the room again. "Talk about ironic," he commented at last. "I just barely left the academy, and now here I am, back at another Ranger Collegiate. Apparently getting yourself blown up is grounds for re-education," he remarked mildly.
Bridge laughed loudly and awkwardly before abruptly falling silent, as if he wasn't sure if he was expected to or not. Z frowned, Syd looked slightly concerned, and Jack raised his eyebrows. "You went to S.P.D.?"
"Nah. S.P.D.'s a new thing," he explained, moving to slump back on the couch as he absently began to toss his helmet in the air. "I graduated from the Eltarian Ranger Collegiate, Silver Series First Class. The only person who could ever keep up with me was my partner."
"I don't care how good you think you are," Sky snarled. "We take things seriously here. We're at war, if you hadn't noticed. We don't have time to retrain some old has-been Ranger with nothing better to do. So either shape up, or ship out."
Zhane watched Sky thoughtfully as the other teen stormed out of the room, ignoring Z's indignant shout after him, and Syd and Bridge's hurried apologies and explanations. "I take it I crushed his ego when I kicked your butts semi-coherent?" he asked Jack.
Jack snorted, but he sounded amused. "Never beat Sky at anything. Take it from me - he'll hate you forever."
He just nodded, still watching where the other had been. It was like looking at a younger Andros all over again - just a taller one. There was something about Sky that called out to him and demanded to be examined and understood, no matter what. And just like with Andros, Sky wouldn't be able to resist for too long - they never did.
And hey, he was kinda cute.