Mother's Baby (Power Rangers Time Force, T)
Fandom/: Time Force
Characters/: Wes
Rating: K+ (for angsty thoughts)
Disclaimer/: Judging by this, I'm pretty sure it's obvious that I'm not involved with the owning/creation of Power Rangers.
Summary: After Wes moves into the Clock Tower with the others, there's still one person he has to tell about it.
Warnings/: This story may or may not offend some people, because it deals with the issues of being a child of a developmentally disabled person. It is not meant to offend in anyway, merely as an exploration of characters.
Author's Notes: I hate reading the same backstories over and over for all of the Rangers and their families, much as I love them. Which made me wonder what to do about Wes' mom, who we never see. Some discussion with Starlit Purple gave me this. Follows cannon after A Parting of Ways, but can be considered my backstory for Wes in any 'verse unless otherwise stated.

Mother's Baby

He brought her wild flowers, the way he always did. She loved them better than anything that he could buy. No other gifts because she'd just be happy enough to see him, and the Center didn't like it when they spoiled her too much.

The receptionist knew him well enough that she just waved him along when he came in. Probably knew him by name now. He didn't get any warnings about her mood today, which was a good sign.

She was in the garden outside, sitting on a bench staring up at the sky. Out of habit he glanced up to see what she was looking at and winced when he didn't find anything. Just watching the sky then. He tried to comfort himself with a reminder that she did love the color blue, but it didn't help.

"Mom?" he called softly. He gave her his best smile when she turned, adding the sign for mother with his right hand.

Her face lit up instantly, and she made a happy noise. She rocked her arms together to gesture baby, then held them out again with a big grin.

He bent down to hug her carefully, offering the flowers as he sat down. "I brought these for you," he told her, keeping his voice soft and gentle. He signed gift as he put them in her hands.

She made another happy noise. She fussed over them for several minutes, her brown eyes shining. There was a soft giggle as she stroked the petals with her fingers.

He wondered sometimes if this was one of those moments that had made his dad fall in love with her.

He was four when he'd asked his dad why he didn't have a mommy. The story he'd been given was that Mommy was sick, and she had to be kept in a special place where they could take care of her. She'd given him to his dad while she got better, and someday they'd go see her again.

Now that he was older, the abridged version made him want to laugh.

His mom suffered from Down's Syndrome, a medical defect that had left her with a round face and white spots on her eyes that required her to wear glasses. She was physically weak, and her motor skills were slow. She had trouble understanding and remembering some things because her mind didn't move as fast as other people's did. Her speech was garbled at times, and it was often hard to understand her.

When she was little, her parents had been horrified by their daughter's condition and promptly had her admitted to a medical care facility for her 'problems'. She'd been young enough at the time that they'd never allowed her to go to school because the state wouldn't require it for another eight years. As a result she'd spent her entire life here at Mayfield Residential Care, being cared for by the staff.

His dad had volunteered at the health center during his internship. He was a young man from a wealthy family well on his way to becoming a doctor. His own parents had the highest expectations for him, second only to those he had for himself.

But Wes' mother had changed all of that.

She'd actually been very intelligent; her only major setback was that she was slow to learn new things, but once she did, she rarely forgot them. It was really only her condition and lack of a true education that held her back. His dad had once called her an engaging woman, with a unique point of view.

While Wes didn't know all the details - and quite frankly, didn't really want to - somehow his dad had fallen in love with her. It was a secret of course: not only would his father lose his job, but the scandal would be everywhere. His dad had explained that back then, things were pretty grim for her because of her condition.

It was the reason why he'd been removed from his job when it was discovered that she was pregnant. He'd been forced to leave the hospital he'd been with and lost any chance he'd had of becoming a doctor. He was tormented and shunned by everyone who knew, horrified at the idea that he would do something like *that* with someone like *her*.

So his parents had banished him to a little city far away, put him up in a house, and quietly tried to pretend he didn't exist. Tried to hide their disappointment in having a son with his 'interests', because it just wasn't true. And his dad, heartbroken over being taken away from the woman he loved, had let them. Until eight months later, when his newborn son had been left on his doorstep.

Needless to say, Wes didn't have a relationship with any of his grandparents for many reasons.

Wes, apparently, was the turning point for his dad. Having his son to care for gave him a sense of purpose again, a direction in his life. He raised Wes with help from Phillips - the only butler his parents had allowed him - and got a new job. He went back to school, this time to earn degrees in business and science. He hired a lawyer to allow him to take Wes to visit his mother, and spent the next five years trying to build a life, a fortune, and a reputation.

Bio-Lab.

It was his father's ultimate solution, really. Bio-Lab used cutting edge technology for medical research. Research that they both hoped would one day find a way to improve the quality of his mother's life. His dad's dream became to work side by side with his son, to make a better future for Stephanie and all others like her.

That had been the plan, anyway.

Wes was shaken from his thoughts by his mother waving in his face. He blinked, and smiled when she laughed at him. "What?" he asked, gesturing the word as he spoke.

Hungry, she signed. Then she rubbed her right hand over her chest with a begging expression, adding please.

"You're hungry?" He signed it back to be sure.

She nodded, smiling brightly when he understood.

He hesitated, because it wasn't lunch time and she wasn't allowed snacks. "I'll go see what I can find," he said at last, signing ask.

She made a face at him, and he gave her an apologetic smile before adding a quick hug and trying to track down someone.

Having her newborn son taken away from her had taken its toll on his mother. She'd withdrawn into herself, avoiding contact with other people, and acting out as other members of the facility often did when they couldn't have what they wanted. By the time Wes had finally been allowed to meet her, she had lost most of the spark of intelligence and curiosity that had drawn his father to her. She had pulled so far away from the rest of the world, she didn't know how to reach it anymore.

Life as his mother's son wasn't easy. When he was younger, a lot of people had known about her because he hadn't understood why he needed to keep his mouth shut. He'd gotten into countless fights defending her, defending himself - because he *wasn't* stupid, and neither was she. Eventually Phillips had suggested karate classes as a way to vent his anger. It had helped, but it still wasn't enough to stop people from talking.

His dad, fed up with all the disciplinary marks on his record, sent him to private school. It was there that he quickly learned the less he said about his mother, the better. His father on the other hand, was unavoidable now that Bio-Lab was finally off the ground; *everyone* recognized the name Collins now. Instead of being known as 'the retarded woman's kid', now he was just another rich boy. And he liked it.

For about six months.

It wasn't long before little preppy rich boys with their perfect lives and careless attitudes had driven him back into karate. He'd started to look for people to talk to who actually had something to say, people who were more than what they seemed. He thought he might have found that with someone, but ... Well, it hadn't worked out.

He found a nurse that he hadn't seen before who looked like she might be sympathetic if he worked at it, and caught her attention. "I'm sorry to bother you," he began, flashing her the biggest blue puppy eyes he could manage as he projected 'pity me'. "But my mom's really hungry, and - "

"Lunchtime isn't for another hour," the nurse interrupted.

He turned up the charm. "Please?" he begged. "I know it's asking a lot. I just ... " He glanced down at the floor before looking at her through lowered eyes. "I just want to do something for her."

Her expression softened a hair, and he mentally cheered.

Five minutes later, he had some apple slices and crackers bagged up with a juice box. Who said manipulation never got you anything worthwhile?

He really didn't know what had made him come to see her today, to be honest. He hadn't even warned any of the others where he was going, just told Jen on his way out the door that he was gonna be gone for awhile, and to call him on his morpher if there was any trouble. She had seemed surprised, but he really hadn't given her a chance to respond before he was already pulling grabbing his helmet and the keys to his bike.

He got another brilliant smile when he brought his mom her snacks. As always, it instantly made any trouble he went through for her completely worth it. Her bright expression, the way her face lit up when she saw him, always made the two hour drive seem like nothing. The drive home didn't even matter anymore. Everything else just faded away, because his mother was happy again, and it was because of *him*.

For a long time he watched her eat, just studying the way she moved. Watching the sun catch her blond hair, the happy look in her eyes. Absently he reached out to wipe her mouth with a napkin.

Her eyes looked up to catch his, and she smiled again.

"I'm not living with Dad anymore, Mom," he blurted out. His hands flashed through father, argue, and move. He hesitated before adding new and home.

Her face fell. Baby mad husband, she signed back. Husband had been the symbol she'd called his dad from the day he told her he was in love with her. They may not be married, but neither of them had ever cared.

He nodded. "Yes."

Her hand reached out to stroke his cheek tenderly. After a moment she pulled back, rocking her arms again before drawing her hands down over her face. Baby sad.

He blinked hard and nodded. "Very sad," he agreed. He hesitated, then signed back hurt before touching the center of his chest - at his heart.

She immediately gave him a tight hug. One hand reached up to stroke his hair, the other rubbing his back while she made a noise that was strangely soothing. He tried not to bury his face in her shoulder and cling as tight as he desperately wanted to - he was too afraid he'd hurt her.

It made him hate himself all the more for all the years he'd struggled to accept her. All the times he'd hated being 'the retard's kid', the fights he'd gotten into that were more to prove himself than in her defense. He hated all the years he'd gone to college to become a doctor so that he could help her, become what his dad had tried to be, only to realize he wasn't any good at it. He wasn't stupid, but he just couldn't focus on the material or find the urge to be creative in *anything*. He hated the business he'd felt obligated to become part of, and he hated the way it had turned into his father's obsession with earning more money instead of the way to help his mother it used to be. He hated the fact that she made him hate her, hate himself, and feel guilty about it all at the same time.

Because all she knew was that he was her Baby, and she loved him.

It seemed like forever before she finally pulled away, drawing him down to kiss his forehead. Then she made a face, signed tall, and loudly proclaimed "Wes!"

And he laughed, because she always complained about how tall he was. Then he crossed his fists over his heart and gave her a warm smile, because she was his mother and he loved her. In spite of everything he had to, because she was impossible not to love.

She beamed, returning the signs for love, son, good, and happy.

He signed mother as he saw one of the nurses approaching out of the corner of his eye, gave her another careful hug, and quickly hid the evidence of her snack before they could say anything. "I love you," he whispered, just to say it aloud, because it made him feel better to pretend she could talk as well as he could but just didn't want to.

"Stephanie?" the nurse called. "It's time for lunch."

She gave another bright smile, and a loud giggle of "Wes. Love you!"

And he tried to tell himself that becoming a Power Ranger made giving up all the dreams he'd had as a kid of making things better for his parents better worthwhile after all. That there was a reason he didn't have the heart or drive to be a doctor or businessman. That there was a bigger destiny waiting for him.

Because he didn't know if he could handle it if there wasn't.