AN: I can't believe I'm posting on FFN again but I've been thinking of coming back for a while and I couldn't not post my PR fic here.
Timeframe: Presumably before Zhane's arrival since he's nowhere to be seen but I really had no episode in mind. I did, however, write it just after watching "The Delta Discovery" and I like to think this happens prior to it. Take it or leave it.
"What's girl talk?" Andros asks when TJ and Carlos find their way to the jump bay for breakfast.
"Huh?" TJ asks, still too tired to focus properly.
"Exactly what it sounds like," Carlos says around a yawn. "Girls talking about girly things. Why? Were you watching the satellite TV again?"
Andros hands over a sheet of paper. On it is a hastily scrawled note in Ashley's handwriting.
"Needed some girl time. Call if there's an emergency."
And then, in Cassie's handwriting.
"Only if there's an emergency."
Carlos and TJ exchange a look over the top of the paper.
"They're probably just shopping," Carlos says.
"But don't call," TJ cuts in.
"Yeah. They will kill you."
"Or worse, make you carry their bags."
It's getting muggy in the car. The interior lights went off ages ago and the dim light of the underground parking garage is making Ashley's eyes heavy. If something doesn't happen soon she's gonna spend this girls' day napping.
"Cass?" she asks gently.
Cassie hums attentively in response but her eyes are still glued to the concrete wall in front of them.
"When you said 'girl talk' I kind of expected the mall. Not a parking garage downtown. Not," she adds quickly, "that this isn't … nice. I guess. But why are we here?"
She studies Cassie closely, watching the way her throat works and her skin flushes. It might just be the heat of the car but it could be something else. Ashley reaches across the center console for Cassie's knee but freezes when Cassie abruptly turns.
"How well do you know Andros?" Cassie asks.
Ashley blinks at her, totally thrown off by this line of inquiry. "Um, pretty well, I guess. Better than anyone else on the team probably. Why? Did he do something? You know it's probably just culture shock."
"No, no. I mean … how well do you know Andros?" Cassie nods along with her words, hoping a significant look will get her point across.
"What do you- oh."
Cassie nods firmly. "Yeah. So?"
Ashley presses her spine into the seatback. "Not … too well. I mean, we haven't- I would've told you if-" She buries her face in her hands and abruptly her head snaps back up. "Oh my gosh! Did you?"
"No! No. I just … Andros is an alien."
Cassie's expression turns pained. She wants, more than anything, for Ashley to magically read her mind so she doesn't have to actually say it. "So…" She gestures futilely and the rest comes tumbling out all at once. "So the Phantom's an alien! We've never even seen his face! He could be a lizard like you thought Andros was! What if all his parts are in the wrong places? What if they're totally different parts?"
Ashley holds up her hands. "Whoa. Whoa. Cassie!" There doesn't seem to be any stopping her, even as Cassie's breathing becomes more labored and her hand goes to her chest. Ashley reaches across her to roll down her window.
"And he's from Eltar! Eltar! Like Zordon! Who was basically just a giant head in a tube! What if he's just a head?"
Ashley turns away to see to her own window and, with her head bent away, takes the opportunity to roll her eyes. A knock sounds on her door, startling her so bad she bumps her head on the roof of the car. A security guard stands outside.
"Are you ladies all right?" he asks, his voice echoing strangely through Ashley's closed window and Cassie's open one.
Ashley hurriedly rolls hers down. "Fine, sir. We're just …" she fumbles for a decent descriptor.
"Talking about boys," Cassie says.
"Right. Boy troubles. You know."
The guard quirks a brow at them but there are far odder things happening every day in Angel Grove. He leaves them with directions to the emergency call box if they need him. They wait a full minute after his footsteps fade away before speaking again.
"Don't think I didn't see you roll your eyes," Cassie says dryly.
Ashley turns to her sharply, ready to defend herself, but Cassie's ahead of her.
"Mirrors," she says, pointing.
"Oh. Right." Ashley smiles sheepishly. "Sorry?"
"It's okay." Cassie sags against her door. "I was getting kind of out of hand there, I guess. But seriously, what if he's only a head?"
Ashley turns in her seat so she's facing Cassie fully. She twists her hair back so her neck can catch the slightly cooler air of the garage. It's a play for time so she can figure out what to say and, if Cassie's narrowed eyes are any indication, she's not fooling anyone. Finally Ashley sighs.
"I am going to kill Tanya and Kat. I really am."
It's Cassie's turn to blink in confusion. "Huh?"
"They talked about the danger and the secrets and even dressing to our colors but could they spare two minutes to let us know our love lives were gonna spiral out of control?" She crosses her arms so hard it hurts her ribs. "Normal girls do not have conversations like this."
Cassie laughs. "No, they probably don't." She looks away, her face falling once more.
Ashley watches her for a moment, unsure just what to say.
"Would you love him any less?" she asks.
Cassie's lack of reaction is all the proof Ashley needs that she's already been struggling with the question.
"No," Cassie says, her voice small. "But I don't know if it'd be enough." She twists her hands beneath the steering wheel. "We don't know each other - at all, really. I mean, I know he's brave and kind and devoted. I feel like I know all the important stuff, all the things you don't learn until later, but I'm missing all the stuff you learn at the start. Like his name."
Ashley rests a hand on Cassie's shoulder and Cassie tilts her head to use it as a pillow.
"I miss him," she says.
If there's anything left to say, it's stopped by the chime of their communicators. The girls exchange bemused looks and Ashley answers while Cassie wipes at her eyes.
"Girls!" Alpha's cry is sharp in the confines of the car. "We need you back on the Megaship right away!"
"Is Astronema attacking?" Ashley asks.
"No, but the boys are in danger of drowning!"
Ashley looks to Cassie, who says what they're both thinking.
"On a spaceship?"
There's less than an inch of water covering the floor of the main deck and the only one in danger of drowning is TJ, who's currently trying to fight back the flow of water from the busted bathroom pipe. Carlos and Andros are outside, offering moral support and looking like drowned rats. The girls don't bother to fight down their giggles.
"It's not funny," Carlos gripes.
"Yes," Cassie says as solemnly as she can manage, "it is."
Ashley jimmies open a wall panel outside the bathroom and reaches inside as far as her arm will go. The flow of water slowly ebbs and stops completely.
TJ wipes at his face with his soaked shirt and blinks through the curtain of water impeding his vision. He still can't see much but color-coded uniforms mean he doesn't have to.
"Why didn't you do that?" he demands, gesturing to the red blur with his monkey wrench.
Andros shrugs. "My hands are too big to reach."
TJ tosses soaked towels at Andros' head while the others roll their eyes.
"Mops," Cassie orders. "Buckets. And if any of my stuff is ruined, I am killing all three of you. I'll be upstairs on the observation deck, which I assume is dry."
The boys grumble in a way she guesses means yes. Cassie saunters away, the water splashing under her feet.
Ashley watches her round a corner before leaning against Andros' arm and using his shoulder for leverage to pull herself up. She plants a quick kiss on his wet cheek. His eyes go wide and he blushes slightly.
"Thanks for the interruption," she whispers. Much as she loves Cassie, she's pretty sure if they'd stayed much longer the conversation would've circled back around to Phantom's anatomy. Or lack of.
"Ash!" Cassie yells.
Ashley whirls guiltily to see Cassie leaning around the corner.
"We'll finish our girl talk some other day, okay?"
Ashley nods dully and Cassie smiles brightly in response, only making her feel more guilty. When Cassie's well and truly gone, Ashley sags.
"Why can't we just go to the mall?" she mutters and stalks off to the bridge, leaving three very confused boys behind her.