Sam stepped through the time portal into 2040, took a deep breath, and fell over.
“Sam?” Nova asked, leaning over him. “What happened?”
A gloved hand landed on her shoulder, and Bridge appeared behind her. “Some people don’t react well to time travel,” Bridge said, bright and sympathetic and clearly older than the nineteen year old Sam had just left behind in 2025. Sam stared. “When I did it I had a migraine for a week.”
“I didn’t know you’d time traveled,” Sam blurted, except he did know. He could remember the panic when Bridge – the red ranger he never would have called that – disappeared mid-battle only to reappear three months later in the company of Mac Hartford.
He would swear he hadn’t had that memory two minutes ago.
“Rachel, go let the other Rangers know you two are back,” came Sky’s voice – Commander Tate that was less of a surprise – from somewhere beyond Sam’s view.
Rachel – Nova – sent the commander a dubious look but still stood up, punching Sam lightly on the shoulder as she did. “Good to have you back, Sam.”
“Good to be back,” Sam said, honestly, even though he was pretty sure he’d never been in this room before. At least, not in this time period. His memory doubled, presenting him with a parade of time spent in the room – the lab – over the past few years. “Is this how you feel all the time?” he asked Bridge plaintively.
Bridge’s smile widened and he offered Sam a hand up. “Not really.”
Same wavered for a moment once back on his feet. “Yeah, that was a stupid question.” He shook his head to clear it, letting the memories sort themselves out, and stopped to actually look at the older – former – Rangers. Looked at Bridge’s labcoat with the rolled-up sleeves and his crow’s-feet and the more controlled way he held himself. At the gray at Sky’s temples and how relaxed his shoulders were under the command coat and how he was laughing with Bridge as the two of them gave Sam time to collect himself. Saw the wedding ring on Sky’s finger, and he knew there was a matching one hidden under Bridge’s glove.
Sam felt his throat tighten. Each detail brought a wave of memories that forced back the old, dark ones, but he remembered enough to know this was exactly what he’d been sent back for.
“Commander.” Sam saluted. “I’m reporting a successful mission.”