5 Things/: 5 Ways Adam Never Learned that Bridge was His SonPairing/: Rocky/Adam, Sky/Bridge
Warning/: Bounces between angst and total unrealistic fluff. And I totally don't care.
Spoilers/: For Bright Skies AU. Takes place during Once a Ranger episode.
Disclaimer/: If it was mine, one of these wouldn't be fanfiction.
Author's Note/: I've been trying to do a Five Things Prompt for practically forever, and this is the one that finally worked for me. It's not all exactly what I was planning at first, but it seems to work.
For the purposes of my universe (and this fic), Rocky and Adam had a huge fight over Adam going to help the Overdrive Rangers and weren't speaking at the time of the episode, which is part of why Adam was such a jerk throughout the whole thing (personal observation.) Don't like it? Don't have to read it. Do like it? Tell me!
Much love and adoration to phantom_blue and Challon86 for running beta.
For Challon86 and BlackCrimsonLight, because they both need smiles. And the Carson Family is always worth smiling about. I love you both. And things *will* get better; I'm sure of it.
It was the screaming that woke him.
Screaming was never a good way to wake up, whether it was your own or someone else's. It brought him out of a sound sleep in seconds, sitting upright in bed and reaching for the morpher under his pillow. His fist had already clenched around it, his mouth starting to form the words, before he actually registered where he was.
The Overdrive Rangers.
Bridge, who he now realized was the one screaming. There were other voices, presumably trying to calm the young man, but he found himself getting up anyway. Obviously whatever they were trying to do to help wasn't working, and no one would ever get any sleep at this rate.
The thought was unusually cold for him, and he paused briefly as guilt surged. It wasn't Bridge's fault he was having a nightmare. It wasn't anyone's fault. Consequences of being a Ranger; he knew that better than anyone.
He shook his head as he started moving again, shaking away the irritation of being woken up. He'd been out of the game too long, really. It was making him cranky and hard to deal with.
No. No, he wasn't too out of the loop to be here. That was what he'd said, and he was wrong.
He was wrong.
People had crowded around the door of the guest room a few doors down from his. Spencer looked annoyed and sleepy in a nightcap that reminded him disturbingly of Alpha 5, and he pushed away the mental image before he could start snickering. Andrew looked tired but concerned, while the Overdrive Rangers, minus Mack, peered inside worriedly. All five of them were wide awake, and Dax was even bouncing on his toes to try and see around Ronny and Rose. Will caught his arm just as he started to bounce higher, preventing him from going through the ceiling.
"Lemme through," he called out, sounding more gruff than he'd meant to. Somewhat to his surprise, the Rangers parted for him, Will giving him a wary look while Ronny shot him a brief, concerned glance. Apparently there was something to be said for age, after all.
Bridge was thrashing on the bed. Xander, Tori, and Kira had beaten him here, and all three of them were trying unsuccessfully to pin the Red Ranger down. Kira kept calling his name, trying to tell him it was all right, he was safe now. Mack had a hold of one of his hands, and for some reason was pulling off the glove.
"Everybody back off," Adam snapped instinctively. Xander frowned at him and Tori looked like she wanted to protest. Kira and Mack were still focused on Bridge. "I mean it," he said louder. "Everybody back. You're just making it worse."
First rule of Ranger Nightmares: never touch the person caught in it. It only made them panic more.
But then from what he'd learned, most of the others on his team hadn't been through as much trauma in their careers as he had. Bridge hadn't said anything about his own time as a Ranger, citing with a shrug and an innocent smile that he couldn't tell them about what hadn't happened yet.
Whatever Bridge hadn't wanted to say had to be bad for things to get this bad.
Xander and Tori moved away, while Kira hesitated, but obeyed after she looked at him again. "Mack. Let him go," he repeated firmly.
Mack frowned worriedly. "I'm just trying to - "
"I know," he interrupted, even though he really had no idea what exactly Mack thought he was doing. "But it's not working. Just let him go and get everybody back. You're scaring him."
The look of hurt that flashed across the younger Ranger's face made him wonder briefly just how old Mack actually was. He reminded him a little too much of Justin at times, back in the days when Justin still felt no one was taking him seriously enough. Back when they really weren't taking him seriously, because it was hard to look at someone that young and see a teammate instead of someone who needed to be protected.
He gave himself a mental shake as Mack finally moved back with an unhappy sigh, catching the glove the teen threw at him by reflex. His mind was wandering again. Definitely getting too old for these late-night wake-up calls.
He moved about two feet from the bed: close enough to talk quietly and still be heard, yet far enough away to keep from crowding the poor kid. He tried to remind himself that Bridge was an adult, a Ranger, but the sight of naked fear on his face as he struggled under his blankets made him look so much younger than he actually was. Bridge let out a pained, fearful noise, and Adam felt his heart clench in response. He'd always hated watching his teammates' nightmares.
"Bridge," he said quietly, firmly. "Wake up."
Bridge stilled. " ... Dad?" he whimpered.
He had to struggle not to raise his eyebrows. "Bridge, it's Adam," he said a little louder. "You're dreaming. Wake up."
Bridge rolled over to face him, his ungloved hand twitching slightly before clenching and unclenching. "M'sorry," he mumbled. "I didn't ... didn't mean to wake an'body. Had the dream 'gain."
"Which dream?" he asked quietly. He wasn't sure that Bridge was entirely awake yet, but experience had taught him that talking was a good sign.
"Bork. The room. The wall was closing, but ... Jack didn't get there in time."
"Bridgey went squish," Bridge continued, eyes still closed. He smiled faintly, but it looked pained. "No more Green Ranger. And then Commander Cruger and Commander Oliver made Dru the Green Ranger instead, and everyone was happy. Which doesn't make any sense because Dru's in a containment card in prison. And the Commanders wouldn't give a morpher to a convicted criminal right? I mean, unless it was an emergency or they had no choice or - "
"Bridge," he interrupted, trying to ignore the sudden pounding in his heart at the names Bridge had used, the way he'd felt his eyes widening in recognition against his will. "No one would just give away your morpher if you had died, and no one would be happy that you were gone. Your friends would be devastated. Your family would be devastated." He hoped they would be, anyway. Bridge hadn't exactly said anything about his family for him to really know.
Bridge's smile widened a little, looking more real. He was surprisingly cute when he smiled. In an 'how adorable are you' sort of way. "I know, Dad. I just don't know that when I'm dreaming, you know?"
He fought to hold in a groan. Apparently the kid wasn't as awake as he'd thought - and he really needed to stop thinking of him as 'the kid'. "Come on, Bridge. It's time to wake up," he said again.
Bridge's brow furrowed briefly, and he wrinkled up his nose in a way that was strangely familiar. "I am awake," he muttered, pausing to yawn. His eyes slid open, blinking for a moment, before coming to rest on Adam.
They abruptly went wide.
Bridge shot up straight, flushing. "D - um, Adam! I didn't - I mean, I, um ... I didn't realize it was um, you. I ... I, uh ... "
Adam tilted his head, folding his arms and raising his eyebrows. "You were having a nightmare," he informed him calmly. "You sure you're awake now?"
"Yeah. Yeah. I, uh ... sorry about that." Bridge glanced at the door, flushing even darker at the audience. "Sorry," he repeated awkwardly. "I didn't mean to wake anyone. I, uh ... sorry."
"You okay?" Kira asked, looking concerned.
"That must have been some nightmare, mate," Xander added. "We couldn't wake you for anything 'til Adam got here." He nodded toward Adam, who ignored the gesture.
"Yeah. I, uh." Bridge made a face, reaching up to run a hand over his hair. "Sorry about that. Just ... just some bad memories. I didn't mean to - "
"Relax, Bridge. It happens to the best of us," Tori assured him with a smile that didn't entirely match her eyes.
Adam eyed her briefly. Maybe there was more to Tori's past than he'd thought, too.
Bridge nodded, fidgeting slightly. "So, um ... "
There was an awkward pause.
"We should all get back to bed," Mack said quickly, giving everyone a brilliant smile. "I'm sure Bridge wants to get back to sleep. Good night, Bridge. I hope you sleep better," he added, already heading back to his own room.
Within moments, the others were all making their own excuses and well-wishes to Bridge as they shuffled back to their rooms. Adam waited, watching the way Bridge's smile never reached his eyes. The way his hands played absently with his blankets. The way he never glanced at Adam.
"Here," Adam said when they were finally alone, tossing the glove he was holding at him. "Mack pulled it off of you when they were trying to wake you. I'm not sure why."
Bridge caught it, glancing down at the glove with a frown. "Well, that explains - I mean, um ... thanks."
"No problem." He hesitated, glancing at the kid. "It's not a big deal, Bridge," he added more quietly. "We all have nightmares. It's part of being a Ranger. Some of us just get hit harder than others."
Bridge swallowed hard, giving a short nod. "Yeah," he said softly. "Thanks - thanks, uh, Adam."
"Anytime, kiddo." The word slipped out without meaning to, but he didn't miss the way Bridge flinched slightly when he said it. He shrugged it off, heading for the door.
He'd just closed his hand around the knob when something occurred to him.
Mack had taken Bridge's glove off. According to Bridge, he wore gloves to prevent himself from reading auras and emotions from the people around him. Sort of like visual mind-reading, he'd called it with a self-deprecating grin. Only through hands. It let him pick up on stuff about people they didn't always want him to know.
If that was true, then ... how could Bridge possibly mistake him for his father? Wouldn't he have recognized Adam's aura?
His breath caught as another thought occurred to him, and he could feel his hand clenching on the doorknob painfully tight.
What if ... what if Bridge did recognize his aura? What if he wasn't still half-asleep? What if ...
The nose wrinkling thing, he realized suddenly. Rocky did that.
"Bridge?" he heard a voice say. Was that him? It sounded so ... distant, and hoarse. "What year were you born?"
There was a pause.
"Um ... 2011. Why?"
He found himself doing the math in his head without thinking about it. Bridge had said he was from the year 2028, so ... "You're ... seventeen?"
" ... Yeah. Why do you ask?"
He turned around slowly.
Bridge was still sitting on the bed, tangled covers thrown down to his feet now. He was in the middle of strapping his glove back on, but he glanced up and blinked at Adam with an open, innocent expression. There was a hint of wariness in his eyes, buried so deep Adam wouldn't have even noticed it if he wasn't looking.
He knew that expression. Knew it better than he knew the sight of his own face in a mirror.
In a split-second decision, he took a chance.
He shrugged, leaning back against the door frame. "Just wondering how long I have to wait before I'm going to become a father," he said with deliberate casualty.
Barely a moment later, he was flashing Adam an amused grin. "How do you figure that one?"
Adam looked at him for a minute. His eyes roamed over the kid's face, studying the unfamiliar features in hopes of catching something else he recognized. There were hints - barely noticeable ones, but they were there. "Because you're your father's son, Bridge," he said quietly. "And I know Rocky is your father."
He was waiting for Bridge to argue with him again. To protest that he had it all wrong, that he was reading too much into things. He expected that.
He was not prepared for Bridge to slowly light up like a Christmas tree, scrambling out of bed and throwing himself at Adam in a bear hug that knocked them both back against the wall.
"You know," the kid breathed, sounding happier than he'd ever heard him. "You finally figured it out."
His hands moved out of their own free will, coming up to wrap around the body in front of him, one burying itself in the surprisingly soft short hair. "You got your hugging skills from Aisha, I see," he muttered, because he'd never met anyone else that could bruise ribs with a simple hug.
Bridge laughed quietly against his shoulder, still clinging tight. "I got my brains from you," he offered quietly. "At least, that's what everybody tells me."
"Since I'm not exactly sure who everybody is yet, I don't know if I should take that as a compliment or not," he muttered back, even as he inwardly glowed.
"I think it is," Bridge insisted, snuggling closer, and that was all he needed to hear.
"Me, too," he whispered back.