lilyleia78: Close up of Hunter Bradley (NS: Hunter)
[personal profile] lilyleia78
Title: A Dangerous Gift
Fandom: PR: Ninja Storm
Pairing: Hunter/Dustin
Genre: First time, humor, friendship, romance
Warnings: None that I'm aware of
Word Count: 2544
Summary: Hunter gets some advice on how to snag Dustin
Note: Written for [livejournal.com profile] mystik_ivanow who donated generously for [community profile] help_pakistan. Title is from the quote "Advice is a dangerous gift..." ~ J. R. R. Tolkien, Gildor Inglorion to Frodo in, The Lord of the Rings, from The Fellowship of the Ring, Bk. I, Ch. 3

A Dangerous Gift

When Hunter found himself falling in love with his very male friend, he did what any self respecting man would do - he ignored it. He ignored Dustin's sunny smiles and open heart and unique sense of humor. He ignored the way Dustin's eyes glinted with happiness and mischief, he ignored the attractive bend and twist of the other man's flexible body when he trained. He especially ignored the way Dustin's presence made his heart beat faster, his palms start sweating, and his tongue forget how to form actual intelligent sentences.

He ignored it until Marah started sniffing around Dustin with her big flirty eyes and low cut ninja uniforms (that she must have made herself: they definitely weren't regulation.) That's when his self preservation kicked in. Hunter was a man's man. He could admit when his feeling for someone had moved past friendship and straight into the realm of scarily tender thoughts and seriously hot dreams.

At least, he could admit it to himself. Just not to the object of said feelings. He needed a plan.

"Hunter, is something on your mind?" Sensei asked kindly when Hunter walked past his door for the fifth time in as many minutes.

"Yeah, Sensei. I, um, could use some advice," Hunter rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, crossed over to Sensei's old guinea pig home, and began to absentmindedly toy with little temple there.

"Of course, what do you need?" Sensei said immediately, radiating a calm confidence that Hunter could only hope he managed to convey to his own students. He got the impression that they were more afraid of him than anything though. So maybe he needed to work on that.

"There's this person," Hunter began, "this man, a friend, that I…" Hunter took a deep breath to give himself a moment "that I care about deeply, but I don't know what to do about it."

Sensei's smile was small, but it made Hunter relax with it's sincerity and warmth. "Does he feel the same way?"

"I don't know," Hunter admitted with some frustration. "I can't tell. I've never even liked another dude before - I have no idea how to start something."

"Ah," Sensei said, "then your path is clear."

"It is?"

"Tell him how you feel, and that you would like to spend more time in his company."

Hunter gaped at Sensei. "Tell him how I feel? That's your advice?"

"Of course, how else to you expect to learn if your feelings are reciprocated?" Sensei asked in that teacher voice he got sometimes when he thought his charges were being exceptionally dim.

"Um, yeah, good point, Sensei," Hunter agreed, lying through his teeth. "I'll just go..." he cocked a thumb over his shoulder "do that right now then."

Sensei smiled again as if he knew something Hunter did not, which okay fair enough, and watched as Hunter retreated.

Hunter paused outside of the door to ponder his options. He could do the smart thing and take Sensei's advice - Sensei had never led him astray before - or he could get a second opinion. Hunter turned right and went to track down the second smartest person at the Wind Academy.

**

"Is this about Dustin?" Tori asked with a sly smile that somehow made her look even prettier and more devious than usual.

Hunter did a double take. "No! I mean, yeah, but how did you…?"

"Please, your mooning over him the past few months has been both obvious and adorable."

Hunter scowled at the smirking water ninja. "Obvious?"

"Dustin doesn't know," Tori said promptly, cutting right to the heart of Hunter's concerns. "He's so open and friendly that it hasn't occurred to him that your sudden bouts of openness and friendliness around him are anything unusual."

"Implying that I'm usually distant and rude?" Hunter asked, only half joking.

Tori bit her lip, a gesture Hunter had long since learned meant she was hiding a smile. "Well, I don't know that I'd use those exact terms...."

Hunter shoved Tori's shoulder hard enough to rock her on her feet. "Forget it. I'll go ask Shane."

Tori wrapped her hand around his wrist before he could walk away. Hunter looked down at her and found a apology in her eyes even as her smile turned sickeningly sweet. "Stay. I'll help."

Hunter eyed her sweet innocent smile suspiciously for a long moment, but he really didn't have much of a choice. "Fine. What should I do?"

"First things first - what are your intentions toward Dustin?" Tori asked, sweet smile taking on a slightly menacing quality.

"Tor..." Hunter whined.

"Okay, sorry, didn't mean to make you talk about your feelings. I'll just get this out of the way first - hurt him and you'll wish Lothor was still around to make you forget about the world of pain I will personally deliver upon you. Understand?"

Hunter forced a swallow past his suddenly dry throat and nodded. "Understood." He hesitated before adding, "I won't."

Tori's face soften and she reached out a hand to squeeze Hunter's arm gently. "I know you won't." She pulled her hand back and eyed him for a long moment. "I don't suppose you've trying just telling him how you feel?" she asked cautiously. When Hunter rolled his eyes at her she hurried on. "Right, of course not. That would be too easy, and Reds never take the easy way when there's something far more complicated available."

Hunter considered pointing out that she hadn't exactly taken that easy road with Blake, but he valued his life. Tori hit extremely hard, and not just for a girl. "Are you going to help me or mock me?"

"I can do both," Tori said promptly and threw a white lump of cloth at him. "Put this on."

"What is it?" Hunter asked.

"The way to a man's heart is through cupcakes," Tori answered nonsensically.

Hunter shook out the cloth to reveal a plain white apron. "Oh, this is not going to end well." But he put it on anyway and followed Tori into the kitchen.

Three failed batches, two melted pans, and a short trip to Urgent Care later, Tori gave up by throwing a spoonful of icing at Hunter's head and sent him packing to Shane's house.

**

After checking that Hunter knew what would happen to him if he hurt Dustin - "Tori will kick your ass. No, seriously, I'm not even gonna help. She's way scarier when she's pissed." - and flat out refusing to help. "No way, Dude. I am not helping you to get one of my best friend's into bed."

"It's not about that," Hunter protested with a glare. Shane smirked at him knowingly. "Ok, not just about that." Hunter amended. "I just... I really care about him."

Shane's smile softened and he punched Hunter on the arm companionably. After a few moments of slightly awkward silence, Shane offered. "Wanna spar? Might take your mind off your man problems."

Hunter agreed readily and they both began preparing themselves - stretching and limbering up. Just before they started in earnest, Dustin appeared.

"Hi guys, what's up?"

Shane nodded in greeting, never taking his eyes of off Hunter. "Sparring, Bro, wanna watch?"

"Sure," Dustin agreed easily, and Hunter bounced in place a few times, shaking off the tenseness that had reappeared at Dustin's entrance.

They started easily enough, falling into familiar patterns, but the first time Shane got Hunter into a hold he whispered, "Don't worry, I'll go easy on you. Don't want to embarrass you in front of your boy toy."

Hunter saw red. No one took it easy on Hunter Bradley. If they were lucky, Hunter Bradley took it easy on them, something Hunter had no intention of doing now that Shane had thrown down the gauntlet.

At least this time when Hunter got injured, Shane was right there in the infirmary with him, and Dustin was there to patch him up.

**

"Cam, you got a minute?" Hunter asked tentatively from the entrance to Ninja Ops.

"Talk to him. Stop playing stupid games, and just tell Dustin how you feel." Cam answered shortly.

Hunter groaned in defeat, crossing the room to drop into a chair next to Cam. "Does the whole world know? Maybe I should just skip the whole embarrassing advice asking and just ask Dustin if he knows."

"Dustin doesn't know because he's an even bigger idiot than you - if such a thing is possible. I know because I caught you pining away for him in your room on one of the cameras hidden all over the school."

"There are cameras hidden around the school?" Hunter asked, immediately distracted by his internal horror of what exactly he may have been caught doing on film.

Cam's answer was to roll his eyes with an amused snort. "Like I'd tell you." But he smiled just slightly and Hunter relaxed. They sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments, Cam doing something important looking on his computer and Hunter watching Cam.

"So," Hunter ventured after a few minutes, "aren't you going to threaten my life if I hurt him."

Cam spared him a stern glance. "You're not going to hurt him."

Hunter blinked at the confidence in his friend's voice. "Oh, that's..." he looked away and said quietly, "thanks." Cam nodded his acknowledgment and went back to his work.

And identical copy of Cam materialized in the narrow space between Cam and Hunter's chairs. "Dude!" CyberCam greeted, "is it time to put 'Operation Get Dustin' into play?"

Hunter glanced over at Cam. "Not him too."

Cam shrugged casually. "Who knows what he has access to inside the school's systems?"

"No worries, bro," CyberCam said with a wide grin, "I have the prefect plan to bag your man."

Hunter sat stood up so fast he nearly tripped over his own feet. "Uh, no thanks, dude. I'm good." And he bolted from the room. He wasn't desperate enough for whatever CyberCam had up his cyber sleeve - yet.

***

Hunter was grateful when Blake took one look at his hangdog expression and immediately dragged him to their favorite race course. Sometimes he had the best little brother in the world.

"Blake! Hunter!"

Hunter didn't turn around at the sound of his name being called, choosing instead to glare at Blake. Sometimes he had the worst little brother in the world.

Blake grinned and answered for them both. "Dustin!" He pulled Dustin in for a one armed hug. "Glad you could make it bro."

"Of course. You know I miss racing with you." He answered Blake, but his eyes were on Hunter. Hunter hoped the grin on his face didn't look as sappy as it felt, but when Dustin smiled back at him he found that he really didn't care how stupid he looked.

Blake looked very satisfied with himself, but when Dustin turned back to face him, he composed his face into an expression of disappointment. "Darn, I forgot I had promised to meet Tori at the beach today." Hunter renewed his efforts to glare his little brother to death at the sudden announcement. Dustin just looked confused. "I guess it'll just be the two of you out here. All alone," Blake added, in case they missed that fact in all of Blake's subtlety.

Blake walked his bike away and paused next to Hunter. "You're welcome," he said cheekily.

"Your acting skills need some improvement," Hunter groused.

Blake was unperturbed. "Just let me know when you seal the deal so I can threaten his life if he hurts my brother."

"Blake," Hunter absolutely did not whine. "I'm not a child."

"No, you're family." Blake slapped his brother on the shoulder encouragingly and rode away.

***

Hunter threw his helmet off to one side, left his bike where it lay - thankfully still in mostly one piece - and flopped back onto the grass, cursing himself for his distraction. He could have really gotten hurt with that little stunt - or worse, he could have hurt Dustin.

Dustin pulled off his own helmet, stowed it carefully with his bike and lowered himself down to the ground next to Hunter, sitting cross legged somewhere near the other ranger's chest. "Want to talk about it?"

Hunter laughed without humor. But then he sat up and faced Dustin, suddenly reckless. "Why not? I've been distracted and almost killed us both, you deserve to know why."

Dustin smiled uncertainly. "Dude, way to over exaggerate."

Hunter smiled back. "Only a little." Hunter looked away, it would be easier to say it without watching Dustin's face. "There's someone I like - someone I think I've fallen for, but I don't know how to tell them. And I'm afraid I was thinking about them instead of paying attention during that last turn."

"Oh." There was something off in Dustin's voice and Hunter turned back to see what emotion was clouding his friend's voice. Dustin's usually open and guileless face was a blank mask as he asked, "Have you tried just telling them?"

The sadness in Dustin's voice wasn't as easily hidden as the unknown emotion in his eyes. Hope, dangerous and fragile, bloomed in Hunter's chest, and he forced another smile. "Not you too. That's what everyone keeps telling me. But, I don’t know, I thought actions spoke louder than words."

Dustin nodded. That was one of the (many, many) things Hunter liked about Dustin, sometimes he just got it.

"Dude, you know what would really work? You should totally kiss her - or him. If some hot guy like you just manhandled me into his arms and laid one on me, I'd never let him go."

"Really?" Hunter asked, stupid heart beating so loudly he could barely hear himself over it. Then, pressing his luck, "Promise?"

Dustin nodded and patted Hunter's back with a sort bittersweet smile on his face. "Definitely, dude. Anyone who turned that away from you isn't worth the effort."

"Anyone who turned that away from me would be very smart," Hunter joked.

Dustin shook his head vehemently. "No, dude, they'd be stupid. You're brave and strong and loyal. You're funny and sweet to your friends and a good big brother. And, dude, you've got to know you're super hot."

Hunter couldn't have stopped himself from leaning forward then even if he wasn't fairly certain that Dustin would be open to his advances. He had to kiss the curve of that slightly melancholy smile, so different from the bright open one Dustin usually wore.

Dustin melted into his arms with satisfying swiftness after only a split second of hesitation. Hunter tried to pull him back to tell Dustin that it was always him, remove all doubts about Hunter's motives, but Dustin was having none of it. He wrapped his hands in the front of Hunter's jacket and pulled him in tighter, tongue licking the seam of Hunter's lips asking for entrance. Hunter opened to him immediately, giving him access to anything he wanted. Dustin could have it all, already had all of him anyway.

And he must have been saying some of that sappy shit out loud because when Dustin pulled away, smiling wide enough to shame the sun, he said, "Me too."

**
The complete list of my Power Rangers fic can be found here.

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February 2015

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