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Bright Skies

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"I fill up my diary ... with all my dreams and hopes ... The future keeps changing ... like a rainbow kaleidoscope ... A special boy waits just for me, but ... even though he’s so nice ... I know, inside ... I'll always be Daddy's Girl ... "

"*What* are you listening to?" Wes demanded softly as he entered 'The Baby Room', as it had been designated.

Zack glanced up at him, grinning faintly. "It helps Bridge sleep," he explained with a shrug.

Wes paused to check on Sky, gently untangling his blankets and running a tender hand along his cheek. Sky frowned and shifted in his sleep, and he smiled fondly. For a moment he just watched him, enjoying the feelings of affection and protectiveness that he felt every time he looked at Sky.

Finally he turned to the monitor, bringing up the playlist Zack had set up as more the last few lines of the song drifted through the air. "He's given me the perfect start ... right from the heart ... I'll always be Daddy's Girl ... "

He raised an eyebrow. "Sailor Moon?" he asked, looking back at Zack.

Zack shrugged. "Like I said, it helps him sleep."

"But a song called Daddy's *Girl*?" He shook his head, chuckling softly. "You're gonna give the poor kid a complex when he grows up."

Zack's return stare was just as amused. "Think about Bridge for a minute, Wes. Think about how he was born, and how he's being raised. There is no way he's *not* gonna have issues. What's one more if it gets him to take his naps?"

Wes considered that. He did have a point. Biologically, Bridge was the son of Rocky and Adam. Aisha had been the one to carry him to term for them, and the two men insisted that she was part of Bridge's life, too. Aisha's initial protests had been mild, but it hadn't taken long for her to settle into the role of being Bridge's mother.

Zack was the odd one. He had no biological connection whatsoever to Bridge. In fact if anything, it was sort of surprising he didn't resent the kid his girlfriend had given birth to for someone else - *while* they were dating. Instead, Zack helped with babysitting, diapers, feedings, and generally taking care of the kid. For that matter he was spending the most time with Bridge, because his department schedule was a bit more flexible than the one among the Docs or Drill Sergeants. And because he was watching Bridge, by default he usually took care of Sky and Elizabeth whenever the three of them were put in The Baby Room while their parents worked.

"How do you do it?" Wes asked suddenly, keeping his voice low to prevent waking any of the kids.

Zack glanced at him from where he'd been picking up toys. "Do what?"

"Take care of Bridge." He hesitated. "I mean, technically ... "

A wry smile answered him. "No, he's not really mine," Zack agreed. "But he *is* Aisha's, and I couldn't ignore him when she loves him so much. Besides, Adam and Rocky are my friends, too." He shrugged. "We're all family. I can't *not* take care of him."

That was true too, Wes mused. The bond between Rangers was something he was becoming more aware of every day. It was never something he'd expected to be part of, but it was so ingrained in his life now he couldn't imagine things being any different.

When he was younger, family meant his dad and Phillips. His mom too of course, for all the few times he saw her, and he winced at the thought. But then there had been his team, right as the gap between him and his dad had finally seemed too far to reach across. Even now, he missed them so much it seemed like his chest was being squeezed whenever he thought about them.

Jen, the best friend he loved enough to want her at his side forever, even if the romance between them hadn't developed far. It could have, and even now he wondered what might have happened if it had, but she was still so much more than anything he could put into words. Katie was the sister his parents had never been able to give him, full of mothering and comfort even as she stood at his side whenever he was in trouble. Lucas, the brother he loved with a fond exasperation every time he thought of him. His bright-eyed little brother Trip, who could make him always smile with his enthusiasm. He'd never loved anyone else more than he'd loved the four of them. He wondered sometimes if he would ever be able to define whether they or Sky meant more to him.

Yet at the same time, he could look at Zack now and immediately acknowledge him as family as well. The bond between them wasn't anything near as strong was what he felt for his own team, but he knew without a second thought that he would easily lay down his life for any of the S.P.D. Rangers. Even with Sky to worry about now, he couldn't deny that these people were his brothers and sisters, too.

When he put it that way, he could understand Zack's casual attitude and acceptance of Bridge. Then he grinned to himself, because one of the first things he'd learned as a Power Ranger was to suspend all logic. Being a Power Ranger was never logical, and neither was anything that came after that.

Bridge stirred, but rather than crying, seemed to blink and glance around himself. His eyes lit up when he saw the two of them, and he struggled to pull himself up with the bars on the side of his crib. The mittens on his hands made him slip, and his face began to wrinkle up to cry.

Zack scooped him up in an instant, settling the tot against his side and tickling him gently with a warm smile. "Hey, little man. You hungry?"

Wes watched as Bridge grinned at him. "Da!" the kid burbled happily, his tiny hands slapping lightly against Zack's cheeks.

"Do you ever worry about what to say to Bridge when he gets older?" Wes asked suddenly.

Zack looked at him, catching Bridge's hands with a soft laugh. "What? You mean about what I am?" He shrugged. "Not really. Right now he's calling three of us 'Da'. Well, except Aisha obviously." He gave a slight grin. "I think he just likes the sound of it. We'll sort it out for him when he's old enough to understand."

He held out Bridge out. "Here, hold him for me a sec."

Wes accepted the rugrat easily, far too used to trading around kids after a year of this. He offered Bridge a smile and made sure to avoid touching his hands. They always had to be careful with Bridge, because no one could tell for sure yet what he was or wasn't picking up.

Bridge blinked up at him. "No' Da!" he declared abruptly.

Wes looked at him, startled. "Huh?"

Zack turned in alarm. "Bridge?"

"No' Da." Bridge repeated. He looked around, pouting adorably. He brightened when his eyes finally found Zack staring at him, "Da!" he squealed in delight, holding his arms out.

They both gaped at him for several minutes. It had to be coincidence: Bridge was just over a year old. He couldn't possibly understand -

But his eyes were starting to fill up. "Da ... " he wailed, reaching again.

Which of course, woke Sky and Elizabeth.

In the next half hour that it took the two of them to calm, feed, and placate all three children, both men were too distracted to think about it. But once they were finally quiet, happily sharing some building blocks that Sky and Elizabeth seemed to be more content to smack together than actually build with, they glanced at one another. There was a long silence between them as the kids giggled and made thumping noises.

"You think ... ?" Wes ventured at last.

Zack shook his head, but he seemed leery. "It's probably because he sees me so much. He's more used to me."

But Wes hesitated. "What about ... you know. The accident? Maybe it's from something Cam."

He received a considering look in return. "Could be Adam, too. Adam's a lot smarter than he wants people to know. And if it's from Cam's energy thing, why doesn't he think you're 'da' instead of me? I mean, your energy's in him too."

Wes shrugged. "It's just a thought."

Zack sighed, watching the kids again. "Any idea of what he might get from you?" he asked after a few minutes.

He winced. "I'm ... I'm not sure." He saw Zack eye him again, and sighed. "Sometimes ... I think my Chrono Morpher gives me visions of the future. I'm not *sure*, but he might get that."

"Won't that be fun," Zack said wryly. He looked down at the children again and chuckled. "Well, whatever it is, we'll deal with it. We always do."

Wes watched at him for a long moment. Until the kids had been born, he really hadn't had many opportunities to get to know Zack. He'd always known he was a great guy, and he liked him well enough, but it wasn't quite the same as the understanding they had now. But most importantly, he realized suddenly what made Zack such an amazing guy was the incredible strength of character he had. It wasn't obvious, even though he wasn't really trying to hide it, but this was one of those moments that Wes was suddenly very aware of just the sort of person Zack was, and just what kind of person he may be raising Bridge to be.

He felt more than slightly humbled by the experience.

Zack glanced at him. "What?"

"Nothing - Sky, no! Don't put that in your mouth!"