The sun shone down bright as ever upon the shores of Blue Bay Harbour. The salty air blew strong in gusts that brought enthusiastic waves from the ocean. Swells of water rolled and rolled until they crashed upon the shoreline with a soothing splash, wetting the sand and leaving behind treasure troves of shells, seaweed and scuttling crustaceans as the blindingly bright water retreated into the ocean. It was a glorious day.
Blake Bradley sat cross-legged on a beach towel, away from the shoreline and in the soft sandy area of the beach. The sea wind tugged playfully at his short dark hair, pulling it this way and that. His navy blue shirt fluttered wildly in the breeze. His hands, roughened from constant friction of riding gloves and handlebars fiddled absent-mindedly with the fine white sand as he gazed far out into the ocean where the surfers frolicked, daringly riding on walls of water as they surged towards land with nothing but plastic boards. Far out in the water, he could just make out a figure in blue with long, dripping blonde hair turning her surfboard around in time to meet another swelling body of water as it roared and charged.
Ever since Tori's alternate dimension incident and the promise he had forced her to make afterwards, the younger of the Bradley brothers often found himself accompanying her on her surfing expeditions – which occurred practically every day. It happened so often it was now almost routine; she would come to the track and wait for him to finish his practice laps with Hunter and Dustin. When he was done, he would quickly change out of his dirt-covered clothes and they'd make their way to the beach where Tori could carry out her surfing with at least one person watching her back.
It wasn't as if he minded – after all, he was the one who made her promise 'no surfing without a buddy'. Besides, he liked the additional time he got to spend with Tori. He liked that he was the one she usually asked to come with her when she went surfing; unless he was busy in which case, she would usually ask Dustin or even Cam. He also liked the peace of mind it gave him to keep her in his sights and know that she was safe from harm. Ever since the incident, he would get… nervous whenever she wasn't around. He had been getting more of these… protective feelings for his fellow blue ranger recently and he wasn't sure what to make of them. They were Rangers, danger was in their job description and he knew that Tori was a capable ninja who was more than capable of taking care of herself but he still worried. All right, maybe he was just a little paranoid but –
"Hey, check it out. It's that surfer chick again."
"Whoa, you mean that blonde babe? Yeah, I remember her."
Blake was snapped out his reverie and tore his gaze away from Tori – who had finally reached the shore – to stare at two, well-built and tanned men in swim trunks standing a few feet away. Both carried surfboards.
"Heh, wonder what she's doing, playing in the water. Only men can be real surfers. Girls don't belong here."
"I get what you mean, bro. What a waste, she'd look so much better sitting in my car. She's totally hot."
"Fat chance, bro. You know it's me that the chicks dig."
Blake's eyebrows furrowed into a frown and sand escaped his hands in fine streams as he fisted them in brewing anger. These two must be muscle heads Tori had told him about. Hearing them in person, he now understood why their speech had made her angry. He did not like the way they were talking about her himself. He did not like it at all.
Tori was jogging towards him, surfboard tucked under her arm, waving at him gleefully. She hadn't noticed the two sexist jerks busy drooling over her body and likewise, they had failed to notice Blake or even the fact that he was her company.
"Yo, she's coming this way. You're not going to pass up this chance again, are you?"
"Hah, no way bro. She's mine, I got this; just stand back, maybe you could learn a thing or two about picking up chicks from the master."
That last comment made Blake's blood boil and he was on his feet before he knew he had moved. For some reason, he was angrier than he really should be – angrier than he should be if he were just a friend to Tori anyway. The thing was, he didn't know if she was 'just a friend' anymore. He didn't know if these feelings for her went so far, so deep because he couldn't see the end of it himself. He didn't know if she felt the same way about him. But what he did know was that he absolutely could not stand the way those jerks talked about her and he absolutely did not like the way they were looking at her and he, Blake Bradley, was about to stop that. Right now.
Storming swiftly towards the jerks, he tapped one of them on the shoulder – the one who had volunteered to go hit on Tori. "Hey." He barked quietly, coldly. Both surfers turned around to look at him and fixed him with arrogant glares.
"What do you want?"
"Yeah, can't you see we're busy?" both snickered at this comment. It only made Blake's eye's narrow even more dangerously.
He reached out with lightning speed and gripped the guy's shoulder like a vice-like pincer, hard enough to bruise but not break bones. The other grimaced and tried but failed to yank his shoulder out of Blake's iron grip. His friend started freaking out.
"H-Hey! What's your problem?! Let– "
"Back off from her."
The other male winced as he tightened his hold on his shoulder. "W-Wha-?"
"I said, back off. Don't you dare touch her."
"Wh-Whatever! Just let go off me already, you freak!"
With a growl but satisfied he had gotten his point across, he released the other male's shoulder who stumbled backwards. His friend pulled on his arm, scrambling to get away from Blake who was glaring flaming daggers at the pair.
"I swear, if I see either of you even ten feet from her- "
"Geez, what are you man? Her boyfriend?"
"So what if I am?"
The words had escaped his mouth before he even realised it. Too late, the full meaning of the words he had used came to him. Dumbfounded, he stopped; anger forgotten for the moment. Had he really just said that? Had he really just proclaimed to be Tori's boyfriend?
But the longer he thought about it, the more the idea appealed to him and the more he wished it were true. Him and Tori. In a relationship. Together. Not in a 'just friends' way but in that way. Gosh, he sounded like such a girl but he couldn't deny that he really, really wanted it to happen.
The duo seemed not to have noticed his slip as they continued their retreat. "Ugh, whatever man. Don't need to get all hissy over your girl, how was I supposed to know? I'm sick of this, let's get out of here." the guy with the now blue and black shoulder spat vehemently at Blake before turning around and casting a backward glare. "Right with you, bro." the other guy picked up both their surfboards, giving the navy ranger a last, scathing look before he also hightailed it.
"Hey Blake, what's up? You look like what Shane looked like when he found out Dustin accidentally broke the axels on his skateboard. You okay?"
He turned to the sound of that voice – that voice he would have recognised among hundreds – and looked into Tori's curious, ocean blue eyes. One hand on her surfboard stuck in the sand, the other in her wet, salt-matted blonde hair. Lips curving into an amused smile. She didn't need make up or fancy clothes to be beautiful, Blake realised dazedly, she already blew him away the way she was.
He blinked and shook his head, trying to clear it. "Huh? Oh, er, yeah, I'm good. Just having a little… chat. You know, guy stuff."
"Oh really?" she said teasingly, crossing her arms over her chest in a disbelieving pose. Then she looked over his shoulder and her eyes widened as she caught sight of two retreating backs. "Hey, those were the guys who – "
"Yeah. Wait, how did you- "
"I heard them. They were talking about you funny."
Tori turned her gaze back on him, shock written on her face. Then her lips began to twitch into an open-mouthed smile. "Wait a minute, you didn't- "
He looked away and grinned.
"No way! Come on, tell me! What did you say to them? They look like a tiger just scared them out of their skins!"
Her delighted excitement only made him more pleased and proud of what he had done. He felt rather smug about it, even. But he shook his head teasingly at her. "Nuh-uh."
She pouted. He loved it when she did that. "Why not?"
"You don't think you're just going to get it that easily, are you?"
With a look of mock indignation, she shoved him onto the ground. He missed the beach towel and landed in the sand, getting it into his clothes everywhere. Giggling at his misfortune, she threw herself down on the ground beside him. Before long, he started chuckling as well. Then both broke out into gales of laughter.
When the laughter died down, they stayed like that for a while. Sitting beside each other in the sand, staring out into the endless ocean with the sun shining warmly high above and the wind tossing undecidedly around them. Suddenly, Tori broke the silence.
It came so suddenly, so unexpectedly that Blake turned sideways to look at her an say brilliantly, "Huh?"
"For what you did back there. And for always watching me. It's good to know someone's got my back."
Blake fought down a blush as he felt it rise to his cheeks and he scratched his head. "Ah. Hey, listen, it was no problem, okay?"
"No Blake, I want you to know I really appreciate it." She said seriously and she twisted to face him. Then she blushed and dropped her gaze to stare at her toes. There was a stretch of silence as she stared at her sandy toes and he stared at her. Concerned, he opened his mouth to ask what was wrong but she beat him to the punch. "You know, I like you. I like you a lot."
Blake did a double-take as she echoed his words to her at the beach that day. Except this time, they were directed at him. She liked him? She liked him? Oh yeah, score! He felt so light, like he was at the top of the world. Like he could do anything. He felt so good right now that if Lothor had decided to personally attack Blue Bay Harbour, he was confident he could take him on in a solo fight.
He was still lost on cloud nine when he heard Tori's voice pick up excitedly. "Oh hey, look at those swells coming in! Come on, we've got to get out there!"
"H-Huh?!" Blake yelped in surprise as he was yanked to his feet and half-pulled, half-dragged to meet the water. "But Tori, you know I can't surf!"
She laughed. "No, but I can! Hurry up, this is going to be fun!"
As he watched her turn back to laugh at him, the wind tossing her half-dry hair and her warm hand in his, Blake couldn't help but smile. Seeing her laugh, seeing her smile – anything was worth it. Seeing her happy made him happy too. And the knowledge that a future with her as a permanent fixture to his life was more than a possibility warmed the heart he thought he never had. Yes, he decided. It could work out. He'd make it work out. They would make it work out, some way or another, he just knew. Together.
Smiling mischievously, he waited till they had waded in waist-deep before he tackled her into the water and with a playful yell and a squeal, they crashed right into a wave with a big splash.
A/N: Ah, finally got something out. Actually wrote this a few months ago when I was rewatching Ninja Storm. No matter how old you are, Power Rangers will always have a special place in my memories. I just love this couple! To. absolute. bits. Was kind of disappointed the canon didn't really make it canon but fell just short. Then again, I enjoy the kind of romances where the two people just keep dancing around it and beating about the bush - it's cute.
Okay, I probably gave you diabetes from this. Feel free to send me the dentist's bill. :D