To Help a Friend
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: The story takes place following Shane's Karma. Please review.
Tori had felt uneasy for days. She had noticed a difference in her friend but had been afraid to approach him. At first she had been angry that Shane had left on her birthday. She had felt that he was neglecting her. Now she didn't know what to feel about the entire thing.
Shane had been so sad after he had returned. He had bailed them out of a tight spot with his battelizer. He had even made a point to give her some sort of a birthday. But his smiles had been hollow. His laughs had been empty.
She did the only thing she could think to do. She went looking for him. He wasn't at Storm Chargers. She didn't see him at the skate park. His friends at the park said they hadn't seen him in days. In fact they hadn't seen him since her birthday. She couldn't find him at the race track.
In desperation she asked the others.
"Shane? Dude, he's been acting like a total loner lately," Dustin said.
"He hasn't been by Storm Chargers," Hunter said.
"I'm sure he's fine, Tori," Blake told her.
"Now that you mention it he has been acting weird," Cam said. "He hasn't even been by ninja ops unless we're training."
None of those answers made Tori feel any better. Except for her and Cam the others thought that Shane was fine. Tori knew better. She had known Shane for years and she knew when he was hurting. Shane could try to hide the truth but Tori would always know when something was wrong.
"Are you alright, Tori?" Sensei asked her.
Tori had been moping around Ninja Ops. Her head was resting on the table.
"I'm sorry Sensei it's just…" she trailed off unable to explain her feelings.
"You are concerned about Shane," Sensei said matter-of-factly.
"How did you—"
"Tori, it's alright to be worried about a friend. Shane is going through a difficult time."
"I just want things to go back to how they were. I want Shane to go back to normal."
"I'm sorry Tori, but things will never be the same. Consequently, Shane will never be the same. Everyone changes when they meet challenges. For instance, you are not the same person you were before you became a ranger. You have grown and changed because of the challenges you faced. That has made you a better person. It is the same for Shane."
Tori became silent. She thought about Sensei's words but she still could not shake the anxiety surrounding her.
"Sensei, does that mean we have to go through our struggles alone? Shane is my friend and I want to help him. I just can't find him anywhere," she said.
Sensei hid his smile. "If I wanted to help Shane I would take a walk in the forest. It is a good way to clear one's head."
Tori sighed. What good would a walk do her? She looked up to reply but Sensei was gone.
I hate it when he does that disappearing trick, she groaned mentally before heading to the forest.
Tori wandered through woods for what seemed like hours. She was about to turn back when she heard a familiar yell. Her heart beat quickened as she ran towards the yell. She finally reached a vast meadow.
Her eyes rested on the familiar clad ninja sprawled on the ground. "Shane, are you alright?" she asked she approached her friend.
It was obvious to Tori that he had been crying. His face was tear-stained and his uniform was a disaster. It was covered in dirt and grass stains. The ground was trampled from where he had been practicing his moves. She knew that to master the discipline of the air ninja meant being devoted to training. Sensei, himself, had been an air ninja and had frequently told Shane that practice was crucial. But this was insane. It was noon for crying out loud and Shane was dressed in full black practicing. He had probably been there for at least a couple of hours.
Shane's dark eyes flashed with a brief hint of pain. He had pulled a muscle in his ankle. He turned his back to Tori as he walked further into the woods.
Tori raced after him. "You can stop acting like a drama queen. I just want to know what's wrong," she said forcing him to face her.
"Nothing's wrong. I'm fine. I just wanted to practice by myself," Shane said giving her a hallow smile.
Tori backed away from him. "Don't you dare lie to me Shane Clarke. You know better than to hide something important from me. Now tell me what's wrong."
"Tori, it's nothing. I'm fine."
"Shane, I've looked everywhere for you. I've asked everyone I could think of where you were. I spent all day wandering around town. The others think I'm making things up but I know that something is wrong. Talk to me, Shane. I'm you're friend. Please just tell what's wrong."
Shane said nothing as he looked at the spot where Skyla had died. The entire battle had been plaguing him for days.
"I couldn't save her. I couldn't help her. She was dying and there was nothing I could do for her," Shane said as he continued to gaze at the spot.
"You we're with her when she died. She wasn't alone and she knew she was loved. That was all you could do. She told you that she would become something else. She was moving on into another existence and she was happy," Tori said she took his hand.
"You don't understand," he said jerking himself away from her. "You haven't lost someone you loved like that. You didn't watch someone you care about fade away. You can't understand what that feels like."
Tori felt like he had stabbed her with a blunt knife. She stared at the now angry Shane. How dare he tell that she didn't understand!
"I do know what that feels like. You think it's you're fault. You wonder what you could've done differently. Should I have yelled at him because he missed my birthday? Should I have been angry that he had to leave and didn't have time to tell me? Why is he changing? Why is he pushing me away? Can't he see that I love him? That I need him? I guess he can't," she said as she turned to walk away from him.
Tori's mind rushed as she headed back towards Ninja Ops. Had she just told Shane she loved him? She couldn't have blurted that out.
She didn't love him. She couldn't love him. Yet he was constantly on her mind. He was the first thing she thought of and the first person she wanted to talk to when her day started.
No, I can't love Shane. I feel about Shane the same way I feel about Dustin. You know like a brother. I can't care about Shane that way. I'm supposed to have those feelings for Blake.
But it didn't matter what she told herself. She knew the truth. There was no use denying that her feelings for Shane had changed. Maybe at one point she had felt the same about Shane and Dustin but not now.
Shane had been the one to tell her that it was okay to make a mistake. While she grilling herself for trusting a brainwashed Blake, Shane had told her that it wasn't her fault. It was Shane who she looked forward to seeing. It was Shane who took time to talk to her.
Sure she was attracted to Blake but Shane was her friend. But she always attracted to Shane. She would occasionally find herself staring at him while they in ranger uniform. Shane was one of her best friends. She had known him forever and she trusted him. Now she had ruined that. He would never look at her the same way again.
Tori was quiet the next morning. She walked into Ninja Ops without saying a word. She didn't even look at Shane when Sensei began their training.
She missed every obstacle that day. Even the simplest of ninja moves were difficult to her. She couldn't block and she couldn't hit.
"Everyone may go except for Tori," Sensei said as the lesson ended.
The others filed out of the practice area silently.
"Tori, I would like you to meditate for a while and then try the obstacle course again. You can leave once you completed the course," Sensei said heading back towards Ninja Ops.
Tori began to the meditation exercise. She needed to clear her head but was finding it difficult to do so. Her conversation with Shane echoed throughout her mind. Frustrated she moved towards the obstacle course.
Two hours passed but she still hadn't managed to complete the course. She had come close but she always made a mistake at the last part.
"Why don't you just focus on the last part?" Shane asked from the corner of the room.
"What are you still doing here?" Tori asked refusing to look at him.
"I've been waiting for you to finish. I watched you the last few times. You know this isn't like you, Tori. You never made this many mistakes before."
"How would you know if this is like me? Maybe I'm just having a bad day."
"It's more than that. I'll wait until you finish. Then we can talk."
She stared at him. She could tell him to go screw himself but what was the point? Shane was stubborn. He would stay even if she didn't want him to.
"Fine," she growled. "Just don't expect me to talk."
Shane just nodded his head as he watched her run the obstacle course. It took Tori three more tries before she could finish.
"Not bad," Shane said. "It isn't the easiest course but you finished."
"It shouldn't have taken me that long. I wasn't focused on it the entire time," she muttered.
Shane made her face him. "Tori, I wanted to say I'm sorry for yesterday. I shouldn't have yelled at you. You were just trying to help me."
"Can we just forget about yesterday?" she asked turning away from him.
Shane shook his head. "Tori, you said that you loved me, that you needed me. I don't think I want to forget that."
"Look Shane, I—"
"Tori don't lie to me. I know you meant it. And I know you're afraid of what's going to happen. I'm glad you told me."
Tori stared at him in confusion. "Why would you be happy about something like that?"
"Because I need you too. I care about you, Tori and I—I love you. I wouldn't be here if I didn't love you," he whispered.
The two rangers stood looking at each other in silence. Slowly Tori clasped Shane's hand in her own. No words were spoken but it was understood. For better or worse they were together.
"What do you think the others are going to say?" Tori asked.
Shane laughed, "We'll soon find out."
The pair turned to face their shocked looking teammates.
"You explain," Tori said as she walked out of Ninja Ops.
Shane looked at the four shocked males. It was going to be a long day.