Disclaimer: Power Rangers don't belong to me.

Author's Notes: This is very short story set near the end of "Thunder Strangers Pt. 3" and is written before having seen any episodes afterwards. It's my version of the missing scene in the episode that shows Tori finding out about the Thunder Rangers leaving. I make big assumptions about the feelings of Tori and Blake here, but I hope that I'm proven right. ^_^

Just Before
By: Jade Daniels

This was something that didn't happen to Tori Hanson that often. She couldn't figure out what to wear. As she stood in front of her closet, which was slowly becoming full of blue coloured clothing, she scanned her assortment of shirts, skirts and shorts. Already there was a pile of rejected discards lying on her bed. A sky blue blouse soon joined the rest. Tori sighed, wondering what was wrong with her. Why was she having so much trouble finding something to wear? It wasn't as if she was going on a date. After all, she was just going to the motorcycle racetrack. Normally a shirt and a pair of shorts would have sufficed.

Who was she kidding? She knew exactly what the reason was behind her clothing indecision. That reason was Blake, the Navy Thunder Ranger. He and his brother, Hunter, were racing today, with Dustin and Kelly as part of the crew. When Dustin had told her about the race, the Blue Wind Ranger had known that she wanted to watch the race and it wasn't to support Dustin and Kelly. Ever since she had been introduced to Blake, she had found herself attracted to him. She really couldn't pinpoint the reason why; all she knew was that she liked him. It wasn't love; she barely knew him well enough for that. But, it was certainly something.

The sound of the phone ringing broke Tori out of her thoughts. Grabbing the phone on the second ring, she said, "Hello?"

"Hi Tori."

Tori was surprised as she identified the owner of the voice. "Blake?" For a moment, she wondered how he had gotten her phone number. She certainly hadn't given it to him. But she realized that she was listed in the telephone book and there couldn't be that many people named Tori Hanson in the city.

"Yeah," he replied, his voice slightly uncertain. It was a significant difference from the usual almost arrogant self-confidence she was used to hearing from him. There was short pause before he spoke again. "Are you going to the race today?"

"Um yeah," she answered, recalling wryly her hunt for the perfect outfit. She was confused as to why he was asking, although she was feeling a bit delighted as well. "Why do you ask?"

"I wanted to talk to you," he said. "Can we meet at the beach?"

"Why?" she asked. Even if they had learned that it was actually Lothor who had killed their parents, there was no guarantee that the Thunder Rangers were at all trustworthy.

"I just need to," he replied, "Please."

It was that one word that changed Tori's mind. "But Blake, if we meet at the beach, you're going to be late for the race," she pointed out, knowing that the beach and the racetrack were on the opposite sides of the city.

There was another pause. "I'm not going to be at the race Tori. Neither is Hunter."

Tori blinked in surprise. "Oh."

"So, can we meet?" Blake asked again.

Tori nodded, despite the fact that she knew that Blake couldn't see her. "Yeah. I'll see you there." With that she hung up the phone. For a moment, a million different thoughts swirled in her mind before one thing became very clear to her: she was going to be meeting Blake. Despair now reigning in her mind, she turned back to her pile of clothing.

"Now what am I going to wear?!?"

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Tori finally decided on a blue tank top and a pair of white pants to go to the beach. As she waited for Blake to arrive, she gazed out at the ocean, watching the small waves crash onto the golden sand of the beach. The place brought back memories; the more current ones were associated with Blake. It had been near this spot where he had saved her. At the time, she thought it had been a foolishly brave thing for him to do. Later, she was the one who had felt foolishly betrayed when he and his brother had kidnapped Sensei.

"Hi Tori." She turned around to see the young Asian-looking man walking up to her. She was surprised to see him dressed in his ninja uniform and carrying a backpack.

"Hi Blake," she responded. "So, why did you want to talk to me?"

"I wanted to say I'm sorry about what I did," he said, "You know, about tricking you into showing me Ninja Ops." He shook his head. "Hunter and I were so convinced that your Sensei had killed our parents. We were so sure that Lothor had been telling the truth."

"Yeah well, now you know better," she replied, brushing back her blonde hair. "Besides, you already did apologize...sort of." She shrugged. "I guess I can understand why you did what you did. I don't like it, but I can understand it."

Blake nodded. "I'll take that then." He looked away for a moment. "There is another reason why I asked you here." He looked back at her. "Hunter and I are leaving."

She looked at him in surprise. "You are? Why?"

He sighed. "We need to think things over...all of our priorities. For a long time, we were focused on revenge. At first, it was focused on your Sensei. Now, we know we have to go after Lothor. So, we're going to find a way to do that."

"But why can't you guys do that here?" Tori asked. "The guys will understand..." She trailed off uncertainly, not sure if her words were entirely correct. She felt that Dustin would welcome the Thunder Rangers to the team, but what about Shane? The Red Wind Ranger had been suspicious of them for a very long time. "We're fighting against Lothor too. And you know that the five of us work pretty well as a team."

Blake shook his head. "No, not yet Tori. There's still too much stuff to deal with."

"So, when will you come back?" she asked, hoping that he would.

"I don't know," he answered, "Whenever we come up with a plan I guess." He started to reach for her hand, but let his own rest at his side. "Look, I just wanted you guys to know, so that you don't worry or something like that. Also, let Dustin and Kelly know that we're sorry for blowing off the race."

Tori nodded, noting how Blake had made the reference to the entire team, not just her. Maybe things between them weren't the way she had thought. "Okay, I'll tell the guys. I guess, I'll be seeing you then."

He nodded. "Yeah."

With that, she started to walk away. She was tempted to look back, just to see what he was doing, and maybe if he was looking at her. But she strictly told herself that this wasn't some silly romance movie and she and Blake were not in love. What was she going to do, turn around and run into his awaiting arms? So, she just kept walking forward. But even as she continued to do so, she couldn't help but wonder if she was leaving something precious behind forever.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Blake watched Tori walk away as he waited for his brother. Hunter knew that he had wanted to talk to the Wind Rangers alone, to let them know that they were leaving. At first, the Crimson Thunder Ranger hadn't been thrilled about the idea, especially since it was likely that the Wind Rangers still considered them enemies. But when Blake had told his brother that he was meeting Tori alone, Hunter had relented and given him this time alone with the beautiful Blue Ranger.

Despite the fact that he had at first considered the Wind Rangers fools for working with the man who he had believed killed his parents, he had thought that Tori was a very attractive girl. Even as he and Hunter had fought against them, that feeling hadn't changed. And now, as he was about to leave, he couldn't help but hope that he and Hunter would come back, if only so he could see Tori again.

"Bro." Blake turned to see his brother coming up to him. "Ready to leave?"

Blake nodded. "Yeah." He and Hunter began walking. "So, how long do you think we'll be gone?"

Hunter looked back at him, his eyes questioning. "Why? Do you have a reason to come back?"

An image of Tori flashed across Blake's mind. He looked at his brother, and another image came to him. Lothor. He still had to pay for their parents' death. "We both do."