Disclaimer: I'm really tired of this stuff, y'know? Not mine. :glares:
Author's Note: Okay, so BIRTHDAY GIFT FOR MARIEKE:) And, missing scene in Life Is, my first real fanfic! In the epilogue Andros and Ashley get married – but we never saw them get engaged, did we:evil look:
"Looking around, the shadowed figure crept slyly along the walls of the room, making it's way toward the slumbering figure on the bed, sleeping peacefully with no idea of what the future held. A small box held in the shadowed figure's hands presented itself and rattled slowly, testing how deeply asleep the other was. The person in question continued visiting Dreamland as if nothing had happened."
Grinning, the being that was currently awake, stole out of the room, if only to further plot it's sinister plan…"
"Zhane!" Andros hissed sharply. "Shut up! You'll wake Ashley!"
"Hey!" he exclaimed in a stage whisper, mock hurt. "She's not the only victim here – I was awoken at the early hours of dawn and tricked and pushed into a sinister plot that I had no wish to take part of."
"Oh, look at the time," a new voice chimed in sarcastically. "It's 9:00 – my, my, the world does tend to get up rather early doesn't it?"
Shrugging, Zhane smiled and turned back to Andros who was currently turning a small wrapped box held in his hands around and around. Said stripy-haired Kerovan sighed heavily. Looking at his best friend (and brother-in-law) and sister hopefully, he asked,
"Do you really think she'll like it?"
"Of course she will!" Karone exclaimed softly, swatting him. "And don't you dare think otherwise." Surveying the small group around her, she shook her head. "Okay. I'm going back to the kitchen to finish breakfast… and I think I'd better take you." Grabbing ahold of her husband, the former pink ranger dragged him off to the kitchen where she promptly seated him at the table with plastic building blocks that just happened to be lying around.
Smiling at the newlyweds, Andros looked back down at his gift for Ashley. Maybe someday…
Yawning as she awoke, Ashley blinked blearily as the golden sunshine of the morning slowly brought her to wakefulness. Smiling suddenly as the date registered in her mind, she barely contained herself from letting out a cheer. Clambering out of bed, she quickly pulled her hair up in a messy ponytail and padded out the room, looking suspiciously at the suspiciously empty hallway. Letting out a giggle at her thoughts, she ignored signs of morning breath and slowly made her way down the hallway.
Heading into the kitchen, she jumped slightly, startled at the clatter and almost-crash of a bowl. Hearing a familiar voice, she grinned.
"Zhane!" the blonde scolded. "I told you not to-"
"Aw, c'mon, 'Rone," he pouted, not knowing that his little begging scheme was currently being watched and laughed at by Ashley.
"Zhane!" she cried, exasperated. "Go sit!" she ordered her husband, even as a hint of a smile played on her lips. "I have to make breakfast for Ashley… seeing as how my incompetent brother and husband can only handle toast," she added out loud.
Rolling his eyes, Andros, who was draping crepe paper everywhere, set down the roll and walked over to Zhane, who was building crude towers out of blocks and knocking them over.
Feeling a smile creep slowly onto her face, Ashley darted away from the doorway and followed the opposite side of the wall that ran along the kitchen, sneaking up on Andros who had his back turned to her. Slinking up beside him, she let her hands hover over his shoulders before leaning forward slightly and-
Whipping around, Andros almost dropped into a fighting stance as Ashley flinched backwards in surprise before lunging forward and capturing her boyfriend in a hug.
"Good morning!" she exclaimed, giggling as she dragged him down with her in a fit of laughter.
"Hey – Happy Birthday!" Andros exclaimed, smiling fondly at his exuberant girlfriend.
Pressing a soft kiss to his cheek, Ashley smiled giddily. "Thanks," she breathed softly, grinning at him.
Glancing at them, Karone smiled and brought over a plate. "You three, sit," she ordered good-naturedly. "Breakfast, coming up."
"Oh my god! What are you doing here?"
"What do you think? Happy Birthday!" Carlos and T.J hugged Ashley as she laughed happily.
"Hey…" Ashley frowned suddenly, eyes traveling over the small crown amassed in the living room of Cassie and hers apartment. "Where's Cassie?"
"Oh yeah – about that… she left early this morning," Karone explained. "She said something about an important meeting with these producers who are thinking of sponsoring StarFly's next album. She seemed really disappointed about it, but…"
"Oh," Ashley deflated slightly before perking up again with a slightly forced smile. "Well, that's okay. Wish I could have said "good luck", but…" She shook her head stubbornly and her eyes landed on the shiny gift boxes and bags that both Carlos and T.J held.
"Ooh… gift time!"
Giggling and surrounded by the remains of what was once wrapping paper and the gifts that were inside it, Ashley reached for the final one: a thin, neatly wrapped, brightly colored present.
"Wonder who this is from," she pondered out loud, a sarcastic, playful tone to her voice as she grinned at her boyfriend. Said boyfriend shrugged sheepishly, smiling back.
Carefully peeling away the tape and unwrapping it, Ashley scrunched her eyebrow in puzzlement when she saw the elegant paper scroll inside. Unrolling it, she scanned the page, slowly reading out loud.
"Your presence is requested tonight… 7:00 PM… at Amour…" Looking up in surprise, Ashley stared, wide-eyed, as her mind registered what it said.
Squealing in delight, the brunette launched herself at Andros, her infectious grin lighting up her face.
"I love that place!" she gushed. "Okay, so I've never been there, but I've heard that it's fabulous, and reservations are nearly impossible to get because it's the best place in Angel Grove, and oh my god I love French food!" Laughing again, she pressed a chaste kiss to his lips.
"Come on, birthday girl. Go get changed – then we're going to the park."
"I've been so spoiled today!" Ashley sighed, walking leisurely on the soft green grass, her feet bare.
"I know," Andros commented lightly, glancing amusedly at the ice cream cone and cotton candy that his bubbly girlfriend was trying to juggle… girlfriend… slipping his hand into his pocket, he contemplated that word in his head.
Giggling softly, she pressed a drunken kiss to his lips – he could still taste the sugary sweetness of the pink cotton candy that she was apparently getting high on.
Pulling away suddenly, she laughed and tapped his arm, running across the grass. "You're it!"Later that night…
Frowning into the mirror, Ashley stared at her reflection and sighed. Draped in a dark red dress twined with gold flecks that shimmered in the light, her hair styled with part of it in a bun, the other half down and lightly waved, she looked ready to go. Glancing at the clock, she realized in panic that she only had five minutes before Zhane was supposed to arrive to 'escort' her to Amour.
Studying herself again, she reached for a pair of black heels and jammed them loosely on her feet. Teetering over to her dresser, she carefully coated on another layer of lip gloss and tossed it into her handbag. Furrowing her brow as she continued to stare into the mirror, she felt like something was missing. She wasn't wearing any jewelry – save for the small studs in her ears, but none of her necklaces worked well with the dress.
Digging through the mess of chains and charms again, a gold glint caught her eye. Delicately, she plucked a silver chain from the box. Breath catching in her throat, she blinked away sudden tears furiously. Upon closer inspection, she noted that the chain was really a gold color, the shine fading away with age, but the pendant was still as luminous as ever and right now it symbolized love more than ever.
The arrow shaped gold pendant gleamed in the fluorescent light, and the brunette smiled tenderly at the bright gold stone set in the middle. It's a rare gem from KO-35… the words echoed in her head, and for the first time in over a year, she could smile at that memory. Slowly stringing the chain around her neck, she fastened it and straightened it out, staring at how that simple necklace changed her entire appearance; feeling the once-familiar weight settle back comfortably on her throat.
Grinning happily, she was finally satisfied. Hearing a voice yell for her from downstairs, Ashley grabbed a shawl from nearby and draped it around her shoulders. She was ready.
Arranging her hair, touching up her makeup and basically just killing time as she stared in the restroom mirror, Ashley felt a giddy smile cross her face. Biting her lip, she grinned softly, her mind rushing through the night again. Currently, Andros was taking the bill and likely replaying their dinner as well.Speaking of which…
Andros signed the receipt and patently waited at the table for Ashley, grinning a little as he thought of the past few hours. Fingering his second – and in his mind, more precious – gift for the former yellow ranger, an uneasy thought crossed his mind. Ashley had been in the restroom for quite some time… what if she had hated tonight… what if she had realized that she really didn't like French food at all… what if she was running away?… what if she was going to leave him!… what if –
"Andros!" A worried face swam in his blurred vision. "You okay?" The angelic voice was pierced with concerned amusement. Almost sighing in relief, he nodded.
"Your coat, milady," he added nobly, handing her the shawl draped around her chair.
Giggling in reply, the brunette accepted it with a flourish and wrapped it around her elegantly as they walked out of the restaurant.
The two walked along the grassy hilltop, talking and laughing softly. Upon reaching the top, Andros stopped them and unceremoniously sat down. Looking down at her boyfriend in amusement, Ashley laughed softly.
"What are you doing?" she demanded, a playful smile on her face.
"Looking at the stars," he replied. "After all," he added with a slight blush. "They were where we first met."
Ashley plunked down beside him, and arranged her dress around her, leaning on his shoulder, his arm wrapping around her. "And this hilltop…?" she questioned, even though she knew the answer in her head.
"Our first date," he finished, hugging her closer. They stared at the stars in quiet for a little longer until – Taking a deep breath, Andros wrapped his fingers around the velvety box in his pocket and began to draw it out, opening his mouth to speak when –
Frowning, Andros warded off a ticklish feeling at the back of his neck. "What…?" The words died on his lips as he saw the pale orange flower Ashley held in her hands, a mischievous smile on her face. Tucking it behind her ear, she stood up, brushing herself off and holding out her hand for him.
"I hear the waves," she murmured enticingly as he stepped closer. Grinning at him, she took his hand loosely and began climbing down the hill, towards the luminous water nearby.
Sighing, Andros dropped the box back into his pocket and decided to concentrate on not dying from inhaling too much sandy water for the meantime.
A few minutes later, the grass was grittier and they could feel the soft spray of water. Laughing in delight, Ashley tore off her shoes and raced out onto the soft sand, Andros following close behind, a smile tugging at his lips.
Wiggling her toes in the sand, the brunette was grinning a giddy smile, nearly shouting the words "freedom!" as she pulled down her hair, letting the gentle breezy wind, carrying the scent of the ocean and the mist of the water, run through her auburn locks, her crimson dress fluttering in the wind.
Standing back slightly, Andros just stared at her; the moonlight reflecting and illuminating her, that one moments image imprinted in his mind. Glancing back at him, Ashley smiled gently and walked towards him.
"Dance with me?" she whispered into his ear and brought his arms up. Automatically wrapping them around her waist, her arms enveloped his neck and they began to sway gently in time to the crashing waves and the sea breeze. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever, until the sharp cry of a gull and the hissing roar of a violent wave brought them out of their reprieve.
Breaking apart slowly, Ashley rested her face in Andros's shoulder and sighed happily.
"Let's go in the water," she said impulsively.
"What?" he asked, a little unfocused as he was surreptitiously trying to let go of her long enough to pull the ring box out of his pocket, thinking that this was the perfect time to –
"Come on!" she declared, pulling away from him to run into the water. Dropping his hands in defeat, Andros trudged after her, the need to be covert no longer needed.
Standing at the water's edge, Andros stared at his girlfriend who was basically dancing around in the water, ignoring the fact that she was getting her dress wet.
Sighing, the Kerovan shook his head and pulled off his shoes, rolling up his pant legs and walking in tentively. Giggling at him, Ashley pulled on him, yanking them both out into deeper water that came up mid-calf.
Leaning down, Ashley splashed some water up, relishing in the cool misty feel of the spray. Closing her eyes, she held out her arms and soaked in the moonlight, the wind, the night.
Taking yet another deep breath, Andros began talking softly. "It's a beautiful night… And… uh… on such a-"
"Isn't it?" Ashley interrupted. "You can hear the wind and the waves and… everything's so serene, but it's as though the ocean is talking to the moon… and the wind is arguing with the birds – and the trees and grass are having a lover's spat," she added teasingly, opening her eyes.
"It makes you wonder about these things – whether or not these parts of nature can really communicate… something that goes back far longer than us humans have been on this planet!" Cupping her hands, Ashley brought up a handful of water, letting it slowly trickle out of her hands. "And flowers!" she continued. "Flowers can say a lot of things – even if they can't talk," she added ruefully.
"I've always loved knowing about the language of flowers," she babbled on. "Knowing that in, say, a bouquet you give someone, they can look at the flowers and know that there's something more to them just being pretty…" she continued talking, oblivious to the slightly amused, mostly disappointed expression on Andros's face.
Staring at Ashley in dismay, Andros, determined to get all the words out this time, threw all caution to the wind. Swiftly, he pulled out the box and popped it open before Ashley, her tyrant of words slowing down at the sight.
"Will you marry me?" he blurted out. "Marry me, Ashley. Be mine – make there an us; a Mr. and Mrs., you and me, forever." Breathlessly, he watched her reaction carefully.
Staring at the ring, a golden gem surrounded by a scarlet glow, attached to a ring of wrought silver, Ashley pressed her lips together tightly, a sheen of tears appearing in her eyes. Slowly, she pulled the flower from behind her ear out, shaking her hair gently, and handed it to him; shyly, as if she were a little girl presenting her crush with a handmade gift. In his eyes, though, she was much more than that.
Accepting the carnation with his free hand, he twirled it around, the ring box held limply in his other hand, the arm hanging down at his side.
"Carnations… mean…" the words were whispered in a hoarse voice, but the night around them was so still, as if the ocean was holding back, waiting for Ashley's answer, that she heard the words perfectly.
After a moment's pause, she answered. "Yes," she breathed softly. "Yes!" she cried out, louder, her voice choked with sobs. Rushing at him, she threw her arms around him. "Yes," she whispered again.
As they let go, Andros lifted the small box back up, ready to slide the ring onto her finger only to find –
His eyes caught a glint of silver falling towards the water and they both dashed for it at the same time, desperate not to lose the ring.
Scrambling around in the water, both really not caring if they completely ruined their evening dress.
"Here!" Ashley exclaimed suddenly, holding up a wet piece of jewelry. Laughing in relief, Andros took it from her gently and they both stood up, gazing at each other with a sort of loving trepidation in their eyes.
"Ashley…?" he held out the ring, clasped in one hand, and his free hand, palm up.
Gently, she placed her left hand on his palm and he lifted it, sliding the ring onto her finger. And then they were laughing, kissing and splashing around in the water, carefree and happy. As they held each other, both getting wetter and both not really caring, Andros murmured teasingly, "You're stuck with me now."
Pressing a light kiss to his earlobe, she whispered in reply, "Forever…"
"Hmm…?" she glanced quizzically at him. He gazed tenderly at her.
"I love you too."
Author's Note: Okay, sorry, but the thing about carnations meaning "Yes", I just read that somewhere so just go with it, please? The actual meaning of carnations doesn't have to do with the story.
Author's Note2: Yeah! A story I can finally be proud of and that I finished BEFORE the deadline – right, Rosa? And of course, she finished hers too (glares) – which also means, thanks to a little deal we had, that I have to finish this one story that was supposed to be her b-day gift but that I never got around to finishing… okay, you all really don't care, do you? Anyway,
WISH MARIEKE A HAPPY BIRTHDAY OR FACE THE WRATH OF MY UPDATING PROCRASTINATION!
Other than that, review!