Disclaimer: Characters belong to BVE and VRP, not to us.

Rating: PG for a swear word.

Ancient History
by Estirose and TpTigger

"Tori, what are you doing here?" Cam asked. It was unusual for one of the Winds to hang around Ninja Ops when they weren't training or dealing with a monster attack. Or just seeking to irritate him.

"Looking for Blake, have you seen him?" Tori asked, looking beyond him at Hunter, who was dallying around the scroll shelves.

Hunter shrugged, not bothering to make any effort to find his little brother. "He's the one who's tracked me all his life, not the other way around."

"Oooh, I sense a story here," Tori said eagerly, settling down at the low table.

Hunter turned around from the bookshelf and rolled his eyes at Tori. "Just how I was adopted, no big deal."

Cam turned around from the Ninja Ops mainframe to face the other two. "There you go, alluding to that again. That's the third time this week. Is it on your mind for some reason?"

"Nah," Hunter replied, easing into a runner's stretch.

"So are you going to tell us, or are you just going to drive us all crazy?" Tori batted her eyelashes at Hunter.

"I'm going to drive you all crazy." Hunter balanced precariously on his right leg, holding onto his left ankle and gently flexing his left leg . "Look, it's not a big deal. In fact, it's ancient history."

Tori shot him her infamous puppy dog eyes until he rolled his own. "So teach us about ancient history."

"Look, when I say ancient history, I mean ancient history. Like, in the past. Kind of like, something we don't really think about any more." Hunter leaned against the wall casually, but from the look on his face, it was clear he wasn't sure if he wanted to part with that piece of his past.

"Why not?" Cam asked, his full attention on Hunter

"Because..." Hunter sighed. He dropped his voice so it was barely audible, and the other two had to strain to hear it. "Because it reminds us we're not really brothers."

"Bullshit," Cam said suddenly.

"CyberCam?" Tori and Hunter chorused in amazement. Had the virtual being taken on Cam's form? If so, where was the real Cam?

Cam shook his head. "I'm capable of the occasional bad language too. Especially when one of my 'little brothers' is being an idiot."

Hunter just stared, it was unclear if he was disconcerted by Cam's language, by being called an idiot, or by Cam referring to him and Blake as his little brothers-- he'd never done that before.

Cam got up, putting a hand on Hunter's shoulder. "Look, Hunter, you know as well as I do that there's very little about you and Blake that doesn't scream 'brothers'. And anything that doesn't is pretty much controlled by genetics."

Hunter frowned, studying Cam carefully.

"Come on," Tori pleaded.

Hunter sighed, looking from Cam to Tori. "Can we go somewhere a little less.. dank?"

Tori smiled gently. "How about out by the lake?" she asked, referring to the place where they'd run into Madtropolis, where Cam had told her of his wish to be a Ranger.

"Fine, anywhere Dustin and Shane aren't going to randomly wander in and start ribbing me," Hunter said brusquely, heading for the back door. It took the two of them a moment - or a minute - to get around to following him, and Cam caught Tori looking at him questioningly.

The two of them walked out to the lakeside, where Hunter had retrieved Cam's collection of skipping stones and was using them.

Cam gently pried them from Hunter's hands, getting the taller Ranger's attention. "Hunter."

Hunter sighed, and sat on a rock. "Mom and Dad adopted because they couldn't have their own kids. They went through one of those agencies where the birth parents choose the adoptive parents. There was... I never quite understood it, but basically Blake's parents were in deep trouble with their families for being together, they couldn't keep him..."

Cam and Tori took up comfortable positions on the ground near him, slouching like small children listening to a teacher read from a book.

Hunter swallowed, then continued. "Anyway, Mom and Dad decided they wanted another child, but the waiting lists for babies are pretty long. They were thinking they'd find Blake a brother or sister about his age..."

"How'd they end up with you?" Tori straightened up, surprised.

"I'm getting there." Hunter got up. "Unless you'd rather I skip stones."

Cam stood and pushed Hunter down by the shoulders. "Keep talking." Cam sat down, this time close enough to Hunter to reach him if needed.

"They came to the group home where I was... well, back, *again*-- and I'd rather leave out that part of the story." Hunter paused, glaring at Cam and Tori as if daring them to object. They didn't. "They were up in the nursery, where all the really little kids lived-- though never for too long, if you're cute..."

Tori shuddered, clearly uncomfortable. "It's not... like a pound or anything?"

"Relax, Tori, it's a no kill shelter." A sardonic grin spread over Hunter's face.

Cam shoved Hunter, reminding him to get on with the story.

"Anyway, Blake wandered off-- he had a penchant for doing that. Usually, he just found something interesting and decided to check it out, so he lost track of me and Mom or whoever was with us.

"That day, from what I've heard, it was more like he had a purpose. I don't know, maybe it was the hands of destiny guiding him. Maybe he'd just seen the cool animal rockers in the playground-- he always did love those things.

"Anyway, somehow, at two years old, he found his way onto the playground of the orphanage.

"There were some rough kids there. I was hanging out by the building, observing a grasshopper-- OK, I was hiding out brooding..."

"At four?" Cam asked, raising an eyebrow.

Hunter sighed in exasperation. "I was born a champion brooder. Do you want to hear the story or not?"

"Ok, ok, I'm all ears." Cam held up his hands in an "I'm harmless" position.

Hunter rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I didn't know he was a visitor, I just thought he'd wandered off away from the baby room, so I got him to take my hand, marched into the building and back upstairs. Mom and Dad had just noticed he was gone and were frantic. The counselor, Mrs. H-- I don't remember her full name, but it was foreign and unpronounceable-- was trying to clam them down. So I walked in and said, 'Hey, Mrs. H. I think you lost someone.' Mom and Dad just gaped."

"How come?" Cam asked.

"Apparently he generally was a bit of a loner, stubborn, and didn't like strangers touching him," Hunter explained. "Yet here I was, leading him upstairs like it was the most natural thing in the world."

"Our Blake? Antisocial?" Tori asked.

Hunter shrugged. "I seem to have that effect on him."

"So, the Bradleys adopted you after that?" Tori asked.

"It was more complicated than that," Hunter said. "But let's just say they didn't bother with the baby room after I brought Blake up. We talked a bit, then they came for an appointment with my case worker-- I was brought in early, and someone... can't remember who... was watching Blake. He was playing with... I dunno, Duplos or a truck or something, and I just... started playing with him. So they got out of the office and stared again." He shrugged, writing that bit off as not important. "I think it's safe to say that Blake picked me to be his big brother."

Tori grinned at that, obviously visualizing her boyfriend at a very young age. "I'd say."

Hunter played with a reed. "Sensei Omino used the word 'destiny' a lot about it."

Cam patted Hunter's shoulder. "Dad did say you two were destined to be the Thunder Rangers."

"What? We're brothers just because we have a shared destiny?" Hunter scrunched up his face, nearly shredding the reed with shaking hands. "I really think it's more than that."

"It probably is," Tori said encouragingly, touching Hunter's shoulder.

Hunter smiled. "Glad I'm not crazy on that."

"Blake would definitely agree with you." Tori touched his shoulder.

"Speaking of Blake," Cam said, "Think he's back yet, Tori?"

Tori checked her watch. "I thought he'd be here by now," she said, thoughtfully.

"Well, here I am," a voice behind him announced. "Been reliving ancient history, bro?"

"Yeah," Hunter admitted. "It's all Cam's fault, though. How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough." Blake slipped his arm around Tori's shoulders. "Of course it's Cam's fault. It's always Cam's fault. C'mon Tori."

Tori smiled. "Let's go."

The two of them left, leaving Cam and Hunter at the lake. "I guess that's our signal to go in, too," Hunter said. "Let's go before it gets cold out here."

"You go in." Cam waved him on. "I want to stay out here for a while."

"Suit yourself." Hunter hurried inside, trailing after his brother and Tori, not catching up with them, simply trailing behind.

And Cam sat at the shore of the lake, alone, thinking about destiny, might have beens, and how his little brothers met.

The End

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