Disclaimer: I don't own the Power Rangers.
Author's Notes: Happy (American) Thanksgiving! This was a oneshot I started way back in June that was intended to be something else entirely, but I think it worked out. Well, the ending is a little mushy and then I didn't get around to posting this until Thanksgiving was already over, but besides that...
So with Jenny and Ashley Hammond/Astro Yellow, I hope you enjoy. :)
A red wedding dress, Ashley mused to herself. Well--Andros would certainly like it, and she was almost positive that red was a color of celebration here on KO-35. She couldn't remember, though, and Andros was too cute napping beside her to wake. She wanted the dress to be a surprise, anyway.
Andros hadn't said a word about it since she'd first explained, but she knew that he thought the superstition of the groom never seeing the dress before the wedding was ridiculous. She agreed--but she really did want to surprise him.
Ashley smiled as she stroked his hair. When he'd come and laid his head in her lap, she'd been equal parts surprised and pleased--she was the one to cuddle up to him, more often than not.
One eye on her sleeping fiancé, Ashley rested one foot on the edge of the coffee table and propped the reader up against her thigh. The image of the red gown dissolved into one of another dress when she poked the bottom of the screen, a seaweed green fashion disaster that had her wrinkling her nose.
She toyed idly with Andros's hair as she considered the next one. It didn't seem very... wedding-y, but that much was expected; there were no wedding dresses on KO-35, and for some reason that bothered her. She wanted to be dressed up on her wedding day, and she wanted to throw a party. She wanted to celebrate, and in what was tantamount to a supreme gesture of love, Andros had promised to be sociable for the day. His only condition had been that she keep the guest list a short one.
Ashley shook her head with a smile, tucking hair behind his ear. The Red Ranger was cool and collected, never awkward. Andros was quiet, shy, and never made himself the center of attention if he could help it, and because it was Andros that she loved and Andros that she was marrying in a month, Ashley had agreed that a large audience wasn't what they needed.
She drew her hand back when he stirred. Andros lifted his head, squinted at the reader in her hand, and closed his eyes again. Ashley hid a smile when he dropped his head back down, gently touching his cheek.
"Sorry," she murmured guiltily. "I didn't mean to wake you up."
"I wasn't asleep." He kissed her fingers when they lingered near his face, a smile on his lips. "What are you doing?"
"Still looking for a dress," she said. Ashley smoothed his hair, smiling. "Then I need to make sure that it matches whatever you're wearing--what are you wearing?"
He opened one eye, his expression turning wry. "You haven't decided yet."
"Hmm..." She studied him with a critical eye, smiling a teasing smile. "Well, I liked that tunic you tried on the other day..."
Andros sighed. Ashley laughed and rubbed his shoulder, squeezing his arm as she set the reader to the side. "That's enough for right now," she decided. "My parents won't be back here for another hour."
Andros smiled at her slowly. He rubbed his eyes with one hand as he sat up, yawning. The movement made him adorably young just for that one moment. It was gone when he raised his head, but her smile lingered as she leaned close to kiss him.
He nudged her back gently a moment later. "You were supposed to do something for your mother," he reminded her.
She made a face at him as she remembered. "Have you ever made a pie before?"
His brow furrowed, he slowly shook his head. "No..."
"Good," she declared, and caught his hand. "We'll have two if I teach you."
He looked wary, but he followed her willingly enough into the kitchen. They'd moved permanently off of the Megaship a month ago, but still seemed to find their way back there for most of their meals. Ashley wasn't completely clueless when it came to cooking, but it wasn't something that she'd ever had much practice with. She could follow the directions well enough, though, and Andros made surprisingly good pancakes.
"I'm not sure I understand what this is about," he said hesitantly, frowning down at the pie crusts as she demonstrated how to roll them out. "This day."
"Well..." Ashley paused. Unsure of how accurate her knowledge was, she passed on the history lesson. "What are you thankful for?"
He blinked, startled by the question. "Home," he answered simply.
She smiled, unsurprised by his answer. "That's all it is."
Andros nodded slowly. He was quiet as they finished the pies and slid them into the oven that they'd hardly used. She bit her tongue to keep herself from asking what he was thinking about.
The Thanksgiving dinner had been her idea. Her parents had come to KO-35 the week before and were staying until their wedding a month from now, and she'd wanted to celebrate with them. Andros had been easily swayed once she'd explained to him that it was just dinner. Karone had been surprised to be included, but Ashley had told her firmly that she was family. Zhane just loved a party--but then, he was family too.
"These should be done by the time my parents get back," she said. She set the timer and smiled at him. "Then they're cooking everything else and we just do whatever they need us to."
He nodded, his expression still distant. She couldn't resist this time, and touched his arm gently. "What are you thinking about?"
"I was just trying to remember..." His voice trailed off as he frowned at the oven. "After Karone disappeared, my parents didn't celebrate most of our holidays."
She wrapped her arm around his shoulders silently. It had been nearly a year and a half now since the colonists had started resettling KO-35. Ashley wasn't sure exactly when Andros had started to accept that his parents weren't going to be among the ones returning, but he'd been mentioning them more and more often.
"I like your holidays," she said softly, turning to slide her arms around his waist.
"So do I." He smiled faintly, hugging her back with a sigh. "It's... nice to celebrate them again."
She squeezed him harder for a moment before she released him. Ashley reached to tuck his hair behind his ear, smiling when he turned his head to kiss her fingers.
He brushed his lips across her knuckles, over the back of her hand. Ashley giggled, pushing hair out of his face after all as she moved closer. She fit herself comfortably into the familiar feel of his arms around her, his mouth warm beneath hers.
Ashley pouted when he pulled away from her suddenly. He laughed softly but nodded towards the open door. She followed his gaze and sighed good-naturedly as she saw the front door open in the other room. "They couldn't have taken another ten minutes," she murmured, and saw him swallow a smile.
"Good morning, you two," her mother greeted them cheerfully. "How did your wedding plans go?"
"Good morning, Mrs. Hammond," Andros said. Her mother looked at him, and Ashley saw his lips twitch. "Lisa."
Ashley slid her arm around his waist with a laugh. "I still need a dress," she said. "But I think everything else is pretty much settled... Do you need any help?"
"No, you've done enough," her father answered. "We'll take over from here."
"C'mon, then." Ashley slipped her hand into Andros's, giving him a gentle nudge toward the door. "We'll be back later," she promised her parents. "We're just going outside for awhile."
"Are you sure they don't need any help?" Andros asked her quietly. "We can--"
"Not if you have any idea how to cook a turkey, we're not," she told him as she pushed open the back door. "They'd rather we stay out of their way for awhile, trust me."
He nodded, still uncertain. She smiled and squeezed his hand, pleased. "I love you," she said spontaneously.
His smile was more than obvious, though he wasn't looking at her. "I love you too, Ashley."
His voice was soft, but that wasn't what caught her attention. She couldn't remember the last time he'd called her "Ashley" and it startled her now.
He was still smiling when she turned to look at him curiously. "What?"
"You never call me "Ashley" anymore," she said. "That's all."
"Oh." He thought for a moment, looking puzzled. "Do you want me to?"
"No," she said. Ashley giggled softly, and then nothing seemed to make more sense than stepping into his arms. "I like how you say my name."
Andros laughed and hugged her closer. She rested her chin on his shoulder, smiling to herself. "Ash" was the closest that Andros was going to come to using pet names.
She rarely used them herself; Andros wasn't fond of them, and she couldn't quite speak them with a straight face. Zhane could still get away with the occasional "Dros," but Andros didn't need a nickname. He was Andros. Just Andros, and it seemed too silly to try and think of him as anyone else.
She murmured another "I love you" in his ear, adding, "Thank you."
"For what?" he asked, surprised.
"For agreeing to this," she said. "It means a lot to my parents."
"And to you," he said softly. "I know it's important."
"Well--yeah," she admitted. "I'm still surprised at how much I missed Halloween, actually."
Andros just nodded, and Ashley pressed her lips together in an attempt not to giggle. That was one holiday that she knew he hadn't enjoyed. He chose not to remind her of that, though, and she smiled at him as she leaned against the porch railing.
She felt his hand touch her hair, and closed her eyes as she leaned her head on his shoulder. "I wonder where everyone else is right now."
Andros drew his hand away, his voice suspicious. "Who?"
Ashley couldn't keep herself from laughing this time. "Cassie and TJ and Carlos."
"Oh." Sounding sheepish now, he slid his arm back around her shoulders. "I thought..."
"That I'd invited half the planet without telling you?" Ashley raised her head, still laughing at him. "Silly."
"No... I..." Andros seemed to realize then that he wasn't going to win, and slowly closed his mouth.
Ashley shook her head and kissed his cheek, straightening up as he shifted to face her. His arms around her, he leaned closer to kiss her, his breath warm on her mouth before he released her with a sigh. She followed his glare over her shoulder, laughing as she saw Zhane lounging in the doorway.
"Don't mind me," he said cheerfully. "I can wait."
"You can wait somewhere else," Andros retorted.
"Where's the fun in that?" Zhane grinned at them both. "Oh, Ash, your parents need you now."
"We'll be in in a minute," she promised. She started to follow him, stopping only when Andros caught her hand. "What?"
He drew her close without speaking. His arms curved around her and he kissed her soundly, his mouth soft and warm on hers. Her smile ended the kiss, but she pressed her forehead to his for a moment before she drew away, her fingers still in his as she led the way inside.
"Would you mind chopping these?" Her mother gestured to the onions sitting on the counter, passing her a knife. "And if one of you would chop the celery..."
Zhane volunteered for the job. He studied her motions closely for a moment before he started slicing, pausing halfway to raise his head and glare at Andros. Blinking against the stinging in her eyes, Ashley heard Karone laugh, and decided she didn't want to know whatever Andros had just said.
Neither of her parents seemed to notice that half the kitchen was telepathic, which was fine with her. She'd explained the telekinesis because that one was obvious and because Zhane liked to show off, but she'd hesitated to mention that some Karovans were telepathic. She wasn't quite sure why, but she would tell them. When their grandchildren ran around reading minds, maybe.
She snuck a glance at Andros as she set the knife down. He wasn't watching her this time but smiling at his sister as she watched the rest of them. The same sad sort of look she'd seen earlier on Andros's face was mirrored in his sister's expression now, though she was still smiling.
Ashley passed her mother the chopped onions, her eyes still on the two of them. They had missed out on a lot, some that they could make up for and some that they couldn't. The sister he'd found hadn't been the sister taken away from him, and Ashley knew that that bothered Andros sometimes. He wasn't the same brother that Karone had been taken away from, though stronger for it.
There had been a lot of pain to get them this far, but they had each other now, and no matter what Andros had thought, they weren't alone. In a month it would be official, but Ashley almost didn't care. He was family, and Karone and Zhane--who, she suspected, weren't so far away from this as they claimed to be. She didn't love them because they were family, but they were family because she loved them.