The Falcon & the Frog: Wind on the Mountain
Summary: Set in F&FII-verse, an AU where, after a kick in the butt from Kim, Tommy and Adam enter into a relationship that lasts a lifetime. However, this story is about their "Little Brother."
Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. Just playing in somebody else's sandbox.
Chapter 1: A Stormy Mountain
Justin Stewart drove through Blue Bay Harbor enjoying the sunny, warm California weather. After the last few years living in Massachusetts for school, he was happy to be back on the West Coast. Justin's father had moved back to his home town just over a year ago after getting sick of the corporate rat race and being offered the chance by his original sensei to take over his dojo. Justin shook his head with a rueful smirk at the thought . . . of course his dad would move here just a month before Lothar attacked. The family's move to Angel Grove when Justin was still just a child had gone much the same way.
Thankfully the Power had provided and the Ninja Rangers had defeated Lothar a little over two months back. Justin could still sense the fading ambiance of the Space Ninja's dark powers lingering about the town . . . but that was just a side effect of having been a Power Ranger himself since age 13, and having only gone less than six months in all that time without powers.
Justin knew that having had powers since the early days of puberty had altered him. His new job working for Billy would have him acting as both researcher and subject, determining just what those changes were, and maybe gleaning something that would benefit humanity either directly, or in the form of better Rangers. However, that would not start until a six month sabbatical ordered by his new employer. For now, Justin was going to enjoy the first vacation he had since age 14.
Oceanview, Blue Bay Harbor's main street flowed down out of the residential neighborhoods in the hills towards the beach and then made a nearly ninety degree turn to follow the bay line north. As Justin pulled up to the intersection his impulse was to turn south, the road that way being called Bayside Ave. But he felt a tug to the north . . . and given that he had just been thinking about his Ranger powers and their associated instincts, he followed the tug. Land bound, Oceanview was dominated by boutiques, bistros and fine dining restaurants, and offices. Once it began following the line of the beach, the road became a haven of diners, clubs, tourist traps, and the other businesses one would associate with a beach front.
The tug became strongest at a storefront near the end of the strip, before the road began climbing into the bluffs that framed the harbor. As he pulled into a parking space and the jeep's engine shut down and he looked at the sign, Justin smiled. Storm Chargers appeared to be a shop catering to the extreme sports set, if the groups of people in surfing gear, motocross clothes, or carrying skateboards were any indication. Justin patted the dashboard of the jeep before he jumped out and headed for the entrance.
The scene inside the store was contrived chaos. Monitors covered one wall, showing extreme sports events. Trophies won and events held under store sponsorship took up another wall, and merchandise was everywhere. However, if one took a minute to take the store collectively, the eye easily found specific areas of the store relating to each sport to which it catered and a clear line to the counter. The owner knew their business and clientele that was certain.
However, it wasn't any real interest in sports which brought Justin into the store. Moving out of the way of the entrance, Justin centered himself and then easily sensed what it was that drew him here. There was a blond girl over by the surfboards wearing blue and a brunette visible in the mechanic's area at the back wearing yellow.
Justin let out the breath he had been holding, relaxing as he realized he had managed to locate at least two of the local Rangers. He smirked . . . Tommy and William were going to be pissed; his big brother and the leader of Lightspeed had been, both separately and together, trying to contact the Ninja Rangers the entire time they were active without success to offer assistance when all it took for Justin to find two of them was to wander around the city. Shrugging mentally to himself, Justin considered the fact that this team had done just fine on their own, and that Tommy and William were just control freaks.
Returning to the matter at hand, Justin continued to scan the store, looking for the third signature he sensed. The general presence reminded him of Tommy, TJ, and Andros so he started looking for a guy in red. It took a minute, but then he spotted a dark haired guy from behind, red and white tank and red shorts, standing with a crowd at the skateboard display in the same area he sensed a Power signature. Justin had just begun formulating a plan on how to introduce himself to one of the Rangers when the guy in red turned around . . . and Justin's brain and heart suddenly stopped working as all the blood required for their operation rushed someplace else.
Ninja Red was HOT. He was muscled and slightly stocky of build . . . a prime weakness of Justin's if the hormone-fueled fantasies featuring Jason he had in his early teens were anything to go by. He had a definite Pacific Islander cast to his skin tone, with dark eyes to match his hair. Justin checked to make sure he wasn't drooling.
"Hi, welcome to Storm Chargers," a voice snapped him out of his ogling. "Can I help you find anything?"
Justin looked to the source of the voice and found the blonde he was certain was Ninja Blue, "Um, no . . . uh, not really." Justin blushed and scratched the back of his head. "Sorry, my mind was somewhere else." The girl glanced along Justin's former line of site and smirked, but didn't say anything. Justin quickly added, "I actually just moved to Blue Bay and was driving around and the store seemed interesting."
The girl smiled, "Well, I'm Tori. Welcome to Blue Bay Harbor." She offered her hand.
"Justin," he responded, taking the hand. Tori covered well, but Justin could see her respond to the split second jolt when their hands touched. She was still all smiles, but he could tell she was now studying him, trying to figure out what it was she sensed in that moment.
"Now Storm Chargers," she said, continuing the conversation, "has pretty much everything you could want for the extreme sports set."
"Yeah, I noticed. Although, I'm more about cars than bikes and boards."
Tori considered that for a moment, and then commented, "Well, we've got some vanity stuff over with the moto parts . . . plate frames, shift knobs, peddles, that kind of thing, but that's about it for cars."
Justin smiled, thinking about what his "jeep" would think of a vanity license plate frame . . . Storm Blaster complained enough as it was about his disguise as an ordinary vehicle and the license plate that went along with it. He also smiled with the rather guilty pleasure of keeping another Ranger in the dark about his identity when he knew hers. He admitted to himself it was a little mean, but out loud he said, "Well, none of that is really my style either. Like I said, I was mostly curious about the town, and this place seemed to have a lot of folks my age hanging around."
Tori covered it fast again, but she saw the lie. On a day like today there were a lot more places along the beach front with much higher densities of people their age. Even with all his years in martial arts and as a Ranger, Justin just barely noticed the subtle shift in her weight distribution and posture. Tori had definitely decided that she didn't like how the little details of this exchange were adding up.
First looking at his watch and then turning back to Tori, Justin said, "But unfortunately, I have to get going. Lots of unpacking still to do. Nice to meet you Tori. Maybe I'll see you around." She nodded and Justin exited the store, climbed into his jeep, and drove back the way he came . . . catching sight of Tori exiting the store and watching him go in his review mirror.
Tori waited until she could see Justin pulling out of the parking space before she moved. Thankfully, she still didn't actually work at Storm Chargers, she had just gotten into the habit of jumping in when the store was busy. It kept Kelly from having to hire extra staff that would spend most of their time standing around. In return, Kelly slipped Tori some cash under the table every so often. The arrangement allowed Tori to feel like she wasn't taking up space in the store just hanging out . . . it also allowed her the ability to take off whenever she felt like it.
Tori exited the store and watched Justin go. She then turned and ran the opposite direction, around to the alley alongside the store, from there she streaked to the roof. Now with Justin still in her sight, she reached into her tank top and pulled out the pendent with the Academy symbol on it. Pressing it between her fingers she said, "Tori to Ninja Ops. Cam, please be there."
"Of course I'm here Tori," came Cam's reply. "I have another month of repair work to do."
"But you already have the mainframe and the satellite feeds back up, right?"
"Of course . . . Tori, what's wrong?"
"This guy came into Storm Chargers. He seemed fixated on Shane, lied a lot, and I got this weird vibe from him."
"I'm not sure . . . but definitely more than ordinary. Maybe I'm just being paranoid . . ."
Cam cut her off, "Or maybe somebody's really out to get you. I've got the feed up, what am I looking for?"
"Blue, almost crayon blue open top jeep heading South on Oceanview, about three blocks from the Storm Chargers."
The line went quiet, and then Cam said, "I'm not getting anything on the satellite feed."
"I'm not seeing anything that looks like that on the satellite feed. However . . . okay, traffic is acting like there's another car right where you described."
"How's that possible."
"The right kind of cloaking tech." Cam paused and then added, knowing what his friend was about to do, "Tori, be careful."
"I will," Tori responded as she changed into her ninja uniform, "And I'll call if I need help."
"Good, I'll be monitoring."
"Never doubted it, Cam." Tori closed the connection and began ninja streaking from roof-top to roof-top in pursuit of Justin.
At first, Tori had thought she was just being paranoid, based on the way she saw Justin looking at Shane. She could admit to herself that she was being over-protective, but Shane was finally in a good place with himself and she didn't want to see him lose that. Shane had been in denial about his sexuality for ages, but it had never been a problem until Hunter showed up and Shane crushed big time. It was his inability to deal with the crush that resulted in most of the problems between the Red and Crimson Rangers. Surprisingly, it wasn't until Shane screwed up his courage and made a move that things got better, in spite of the fact that it lead to Hunter revealing that he only had eyes for Cam, and that the feeling was mutual. However, all of that impending drama instead gave Shane people he could talk to who understood what he was going through.
Shane didn't really try dating until after Lothar was defeated. Since then, he'd gone out with a few guys, but most had turned out to only be interested in him physically and wanted to move way faster than Shane was ready for. So, when Tori had seen Justin damn near drooling at the sight of Shane, she had moved to intercept. However, now she was faced with the possibility that Justin wasn't just some guy in lust with Shane, but an actual threat . . . a threat they no longer had Ranger powers to deal with.
As she followed him, Justin reached the intersection of Oceanview and Bayside. However, instead of turning east and staying on Oceanview, the mystery man continued south. Much like the northbound road, Bayside quickly headed up into the bluffs that framed Blue Bay Harbor. The forest restarted once one reached the top of the bluffs . . . great place for a trap, but Tori was committed to the pursuit. She was still close to the water, unless he turned inland, and would be able to use her ninja powers to their fullest. Despite the fact that it confirmed her suspicion that Justin knew he was being followed, Tori thanked the Elements when he suddenly turned off road heading for the bluff's edge.
Tori ended her streak near the road, just inside the tree line. She was familiar with this area and knew that Justin could only drive about five hundred yards before reaching the edge of the cliff. Prior to becoming a Ranger Tori, much like Shane and Dustin, hadn't exactly been the best ninja student, but even then she had excelled at silent movement.
She stalked through the woods, stopping again just inside the cliff side edge of the tree line, about twenty yards from the edge. Tori could see Justin's jeep sitting in the middle of the small clearing, but there was no sign of her quarry. He could have run off into the woods, but Tori had to wonder why he would have left his jeep behind. She was pondering this question when her ninja senses warned her of an attack. Tori dived into the clearing an instant before a armored figure punched the ground where she had been standing, divoting the ground and sending out a shock wave of force.
Tori didn't even have time to think as the figure was on her, a blue blur of punches and kicks. The ninja used all of her skill and barely managed to stay ahead of the strikes, each one barely missing. Her own blows connected, but didn't seem to have any effect. Another flurry of blows caused Tori to go into a flip up and over the jeep to avoid them.
Ducking down behind the vehicle gave Tori a moment. Whoever this guy really was, he was insanely fast. Tori was amazed that she had managed to avoid his strikes . . . until a heartbeat later when it hit her that while fast, she wasn't anywhere near that fast. He was aiming his blows not to connect! Whether to taunt or test her, Tori wasn't sure . . . all she knew is that now she was angry, and an angry Water Master was the last thing anybody with half a brain wanted to mess with.
Tori gathered her power, easier here just above the roaring surf, and leapt up onto the hood of the jeep, which seemed to shake a bit under her, but she ignored it. Her opponent stopped and looked at her just long enough for Tori to finish her attack, sending a torrent of water crashing into her would-be assailant, the force of the attack blasting him back into a tree, which cracked under the impact.
Tori hopped down off the jeep, another burst waiting at her command, but he hadn't moved yet. Now that he wasn't moving, Tori could see how familiar the design of his armor was . . . a bright blue suit and helmet with an opaque visor. However, before she could think on that too much, Tori noticed that his shoulders were shaking, up and down. Seconds later, she could hear his laughter as it grew. However, this wasn't standard bad guy "you think you hurt me but you didn't laughter," it was genuine amused laughter. Private joke kind of laughter. Tori couldn't help herself, "What the hell are you laughing about," she demanded.
Putting his hands up in the sign of surrender, her opponent stood and then, between peals of laughter, managed to say, "Power down." There was a flash of blue light and a rush of energy. Energy that, as it washed over her Tori recognized. Now, finally, she realized what it was she sensed we she had shaken hands with Justin.
As the light cleared and Justin's laughing face became completely visible, Tori exclaimed, "Wait, you're a Power Ranger!"