Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of the Power Rangers Ninja Storm characters. They are property of Disney, ABC, and Village Roadshow KP Productions. Dustin revealed that he had a sister (I believe in the episode "Nowhere to Grow"), I just gave her a name.

Author's Notes: This one's about friendship. I thought it would be interesting to do a fic about the Ninja Rangers as kids......turns out it was, and I plan to do more!

Through Thick and Thin by Jennifer Collins

September 14, 1991

Emma Hanson folded up shirts, blouses, and pants, and carefully laid them into a suitcase. Her daughter, Tori, sat on her parents' full-sized bed, watching her mother with big eyes. "But why can't I go too?" she asked, her voice a half-whine. She set her mouth into a pout.

Emma sighed. "Oh, sweetie." She ran her fingers through her daughter's honey-blonde curls. "This trip is for big people. Maybe next time we'll take you someplace."

"Disneyland?" Tori asked hopefully.

Her mother laughed softly, her voice like a songbird's. "Okay. For our next vacation, your father and I will take you to Disneyland."


She raised a finger. "But that's only if you're a good girl for Mr. and Mrs. Brooks this weekend."

Tori giggled. "Okay," she agreed. "I'm always a good girl."

Her mother pulled her into a hug. "I know you are, sweetie." She placed a gentle kiss on the top of her daughter's head.


The next morning, Tori tried to keep a smile on her face as her parents walked her up the front steps to the Brooks household, each one holding her hand on either side.

The Brooks' eleven year old daughter, Shelley, answered the door. Tori liked Shelley. She was older, and way cool.

"Mom!" Shelley called into the hallway. "Dad! Victoria and her parents are here!"

David and Sylvia Brooks emerged from inside the house with welcoming smiles on their faces. Their seven year old son, Dustin wasn't too far behind.

"Victoria!" Dustin's mom said. She fussed over Tori, patting her head and kissing her cheek. "Why, you must get prettier every time I see you!" She enthused.

Tori smiled politely as the adults engaged in friendly conversation for a few minutes. David Brooks took her overnight bag from her father and set it down inside. Dustin waved shyly. Tori waved back.

"Well, we'd better get going," Alan Hanson said after a few minutes.

"Thank you so much for watching our little Tori!" Emma enthused.

Sylvia waved her hand. "Oh, don't you worry about it. It's our pleasure. Now, you two run along, and have a great trip, and everything will be fine here!"

Both Emma and Alan Hanson kissed Tori's cheek before leaving for their vacation. "Goodbye, sweetie, and don't stay up too late!" Emma said.

"And make sure you eat all your dinner!" Alan reminded.

"Oh, come on. You're only going away for a weekend, not a month. She'll be fine. Won't you, Victoria?" Sylvia asked.

Looking at her parents, Tori nodded bravely.

Alan lovingly pinched her cheek. "That's my little sport!"

"Goodbye, darling! I love you!" Emma called as her husband ushered her out the door.

"Love you too, Mom, Daddy," Tori replied before the door closed.

"Well, now. Why don't we help you get settled in?" David said to the already homesick little girl.

"Dad," Dustin said through gritted teeth. "I can help her do that."

David Brooks laughed his deep, hearty laugh. He rustled his son's hair. "Okay, then, Dusty-boy."

Before his parents could make any more of a fuss, he grabbed Tori's hand and led her upstairs. "Come on," he said. "We'll put your stuff in Shelley's room, and then we'll go play in my room."

"Okay," Tori agreed. She grinned. Maybe this weekend wouldn't be so bad after all.

Dustin pushed open the door to his older sister's room.

Shelley jumped up from her bed, big pink phone in hand and all. "Dustin, you're such a freak!" she screamed. Into the phone, she said, "Hold on, Karen. My dopey brother's being annoying again."

"No, I'm not!" Dustin shouted. He ran out of the room, leaving Tori and her bag behind. Seconds later, he peeked his head in the door. "Come on, Tori," he said. She followed him eagerly, not wanting to get in the middle of yet another Brooks sibling squabble, for she had seen many over the years and knew how intense they could get. Dustin slammed the door behind her. Shelley yelled something inaudible. Then she ran downstairs.

A few moments later, there was a knock at Dustin's door. "Dustin," his mother said. "Are you bugging your sister again?"

"No," he said innocently.

"Maybe you two should leave her alone for the rest of the night," David warned.

"Dad, leave Tori out of this. It wasn't her fault," Dustin said. "Besides, Shelley started it!"

"Dustin," Emma said in a warning tone. His parents closed the door after that.


"I'm running away," Dustin announced to Tori the next morning. The two were sitting on his bedroom floor, playing video games.


"I hate Shelley. She's such a pain. And my parents always take her side."

"She's not that bad," Tori said as she blasted a super alien thug.

Dustin rolled his eyes. "You don't have to live with her," he said. "You're so lucky you don't have a sister."

It was quiet for a moment. Tori was the one to break the silence. "So, where are you running to?" she asked.

Dustin frowned. "I'm not sure. I haven't decided yet." He nudged her leg with his own. "Wanna come?"

She was thoughtful for a moment. "I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because my mommy said that she and Daddy would take me to Disneyland when they get their next vacation," she said.

Dustin was impressed. "So?" he said. "We'll come back so you can go."

Tori smiled. "Okay. Deal," she said.

Dustin smiled too. He pressed a button on his video game controller. "Game," he said. "I win!"

"Hey, that's not fair!" Tori whined.


By midday, Tori's overnight bag was repacked and Dustin had packed one too. The pair tiptoed down the stairs and out into the hall. Dustin peeked into the den to make sure the coast was clear. It was. "Okay, go," he whispered, pushing lightly against her back to hurry her along. They made their way out the front door and into the backyard.

Tori sat down in the grass next to Dustin. "Now what?" she asked, somewhat impatiently.

"Now we wait," Dustin replied.

"For what?"

"I dunno."

Tori pulled on a couple of blades of grass. "What do you want to do now?" she asked.

"Want to......play Gameboy?" he asked hopefully.

Tori nodded. "Okay!"

Dustin pulled the toy out of his bag. "So, where'd your parents go?"

Tori shrugged. "I don't know, exactly. They went on some boat with the neighbors. Grown-ups only."

"Oh. What are they doing there?"

She shrugged again. "Probably grown-up things."

"I thought I heard you two out here," a voice said from behind the gate. It creaked open slowly. "Dustin! Tori! Whatever are you two doing?" It was Dustin's mother.

"We're running away," Dustin explained without looking up from the Gameboy.

"Why would you do something like that?" Sylvia asked.

"We're sick of Shelley," Dustin told her.

"Oh, I see. Well when are you coming home?"

"Never. Until Tori has to go to Disneyland," Dustin said. Tori nodded.

"Well, it's too bad that you're never coming home," Sylvia said regretfully.


"Because Victoria's parents are coming back tomorrow. I'm sure they'd miss her terribly if she never came home."

"Oh." He turned back to his Gameboy.

"And your father and I would miss you too."

Dustin cracked a small smile. "But what about Shelley?" he asked stubbornly.

"Oh, I'll tell her not to bother the two of you. That's only if you come home right now, though."

"Well......." Dustin looked at Tori. She nodded. "....Okay."

Sylvia Brooks breathed a sigh of relief when the two kids were safe and sound in Dustin's bedroom again.

"That was a pretty brave decision to run away," Tori said to him later that evening. "I wasn't sure if you were really going to go through with it."

"I only did it 'cause my best friend came with me," Dustin said.

"Really?" Tori smiled brightly.

"Sure. We are best friends, aren't we?"

"Through thick and thin," she replied.

They heard the phone ring loudly. Shelley answered it in the next room. A few seconds later, they heard her shout, "Mom! It's for you!"

Dustin rolled his eyes. Tori laughed.

"Hey, do you really think Shelley's not going to bother you anymore?" she asked.

Before Dustin could answer, the door to his room burst open. In came David and Sylvia Brooks, with Shelley in tow. She was crying.

"What's the matter with you?" Dustin asked irritatedly, figuring that his parents had finally had a long-awaited chat with her.

"Oh, honey." Sylvia ran to Tori and pulled her into her lap.

Tori wrinkled her nose. "What's wrong?" she asked.

David gripped both Dustin and Shelley by the shoulders. "Would you two come outside with me for a moment?" he asked quietly.

Dustin was about to point out that it was his room, but then he caught the serious expression on his father's face. They followed him out the door wordlessly.

Dustin could hear his mother sobbing softly as she talked to his friend. A moment later, Tori herself burst into tears. Almost instinctively, Dustin reached for the door, but his father stopped him.

"What's going on?" he demanded. Shelley looked away and sniffled, her eyes red-rimmed and glassy.

"Son, we've got to have a talk," David said solemnly.

Dustin looked up at him with wide, nervous eyes.

When his father spoke next, Dustin heard the sound of his voice as if from far away. "Son, there's been a terrible tragedy. Tori's mother, she.....she's not coming back...."


His parents were bustling about downstairs, probably making arrangements with Tori's dad for an early return the next morning. Shelley, for once, made herself scarce. Dustin sat at the top of the staircase, watching through the white-painted banister until he couldn't bring himself to watch anymore. He looked across the hall, behind him, at his room, and stood up. He only hesitated momentarily before making his way to the door.

It was partially open, and through the thin crack he could see Tori. She looked so small, wrapped up in blankets and huddled in his bed. She was silent. Dustin knew that her sobs had quieted about ten minutes ago. Now, she just sat there, silently, staring at the wall. She didn't say a word when he pushed the door open all the way and walked in.

As if in slow motion, Dustin made his way across his room and sat down on the bed beside Tori. "Through thick and thin," he whispered back to her. He didn't know what else to say, so he didn't say anything.

Second Author's Note: I'd originally written more on paper, but after typing the story and thus being forced to re-read what I'd written, this seemed like a fitting place to end the story. I'll probably add the rest soon as a second chapter.