Disclaimer: Disney owns the Power Rangers, not me.
Notes: Late birthday love for Challon! Totally inspired by Starhawk. Love for them both!
I love the Andros/Ashley/Zhane pairing, and this is the first attempt I've made at writing it. It didn't turn out with quite as much Zhane as I'd like, but overall, I'm happy with it. There will be others with this pairing, as I get more practice writing Zhane. Hope you enjoy. :)
The fan was on and she'd thrown the window open, but Andros still wrinkled his nose when he walked into the bathroom. She blew on her thumbnail before she looked up. "Hey," she said cheerfully, "where'd you come from?"
"Downstairs," he said. "You're painting your nails in here?"
"Silly." Ashley rolled her eyes at him fondly before examining her index finger critically. She leaned forward again to use the edge of the sink as leverage. "I meant before that. And, yes. It doesn't smell that bad with the window open."
She thought he would debate that point, and laughed when he didn't. "How was the briefing?" she asked, dipping the brush back into the bottle. "Did I miss anything?"
"You'd know if you'd have been there," he reminded her mildly. Andros seemed more interested in watching her, though, than he did in recounting anything that had happened in a meeting, so she figured that she hadn't missed much.
He said something else, and Ashley nodded absently to show him that she was paying more attention to him than to her nails. She didn't realize until he stopped talking and the sudden silence startled her that she wasn't, in fact, paying more attention to him than to her nails.
"Say that again?" She looked up at him, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry."
A decidedly amused smile tugged at his lips. "Silver," he said as he watched her dip the brush back into the bottle on the edge of the sink. "Did Zhane tell you he liked that?"
"No." Ashley paused mid-stroke, frowning up at him. "Did he tell youthat?"
"No." Andros blinked. He seemed genuinely surprised that she would ask. "You normally wear yellow, that's all."
"It's all I've worn for awhile now, and clear is kind of... well, boring," she said. Ashley screwed the cap back onto the bottle; she'd learned that it wouldn't do to work on her right hand until her left was dry.
Andros was still watching her, and she couldn't resist teasing him. "What's wrong with silver?"
"Nothing," he said slowly. He looked as though he wanted very much not to laugh. "But there are other colors, you know."
"Are there?" she said, amused. Ashley couldn't keep the smile off her face as she watched him watch her. "And what would they be?"
"Purple," he suggested, oh-so-innocently. "There's purple."
"Is there?" She arched an eyebrow, pretending to consider that. "What would Karone think of that?"
"She's not here," he said. "I won't tell her."
Like she would cross the former queen of evil, Ashley thought, laughing. Even over something as trivial as nail polish. She only shook her head. "I don't think so."
"Blue, then," he said lightly. His loose hair fell forward if he slouched, and he pushed it behind his ears.
"That's TJ's color." Ashley started to fold her arms, catching herself just in time. She was almost positive that the nail polish was dry now, but how many times had she painstakingly applied it to her nails and had it just as she'd wanted it, and then ruined it all because she'd forgotten it and reached for something or run her fingers through her hair?
"Well," he said, still smiling at her, "there's green."
"Carlos," she said. It had been a long time since she'd actually seen him in green, but she still thought of him each time she saw the color. "And I don't do black nail polish."
He'd gone through the rainbow backwards, she realized suddenly, though she wasn't quite sure that he knew what he'd done. But it made her smile nonetheless, and she caught his hands, using them to pull herself to her feet.
"I could do orange," she agreed. "Orange is a good color."
He ran his thumb over the back of her knuckles, catching her fingers and lifting them to his lips to kiss. "You would look pretty in orange."
It took her a moment, but she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously. "Andros," she said softly, "what colors make orange?"
He blinked at her, frowning. "What?"
Ashley couldn't tell if he was honestly confused or just surprised that she'd asked. She repeated the question, shaking her head when he didn't answer. "You can build spaceships, but they don't teach you your colors in preschool?"
"Preschool?" he repeated, and she sighed.
"Never mind." She hadn't quite grasped KO-35's education system, but she did know that there was nothing that equated to preschool on Earth. "So, you think I'd look pretty in orange?"
"You'd look pretty in anything," he informed her, completely serious, and she just had to kiss him for that, because could he ever say that too often?
His mouth was soft beneath hers, warm. Her hands clenched around handfuls of his jacket, Ashley pressed herself closer and then slid her arms around him beneath the jacket. If she'd had the chance, she would have kissed him forever, but she felt another hand on her shoulder just as he started to respond the way she wanted him to.
Ashley pulled away from Andros to frown at Zhane; he wouldn't have interrupted them without a reason.
He shook his head when she caught his eye. "Everything's fine," she heard in her mind. Aloud, his eyes fixed on Andros, he added, "Do you have any idea what your sister's been up to?"
Ashley was close enough to feel the warmth of Andros's breath on her neck as he exhaled. "She's all right?"
"Yeah," Zhane said softly, and Ashley felt Andros's grip tighten on her arm in his relief. "I'd say she's just fine."
"Where is she?" he demanded. "Where's she been the last two months?"
"Terra Venture," Zhane informed them. "You know, that space colony you went on a mission to--without me, I might add."
"I told you already," Andros protested, looking just the teeniest bit guilty, "that that wasn't my fault! You were halfway across the universe, and it came up suddenly."
Ashley tried not to giggle at the pair of them. She failed. "More importantly," she interjected, "what's Karone doing there?"
"That she wouldn't tell me." Zhane came as close to pouting as she'd ever seen him. "But she promised to be home soon."
"She wouldn't tell you?" Andros repeated, frowning. "Are you sure she's all right?"
Ashley edged to the side, giving Zhane the room to slide both arms around Andros. "You're worrying too much," Zhane informed him, and kissed his ear. "But if it makes you feel better, I told Deca to keep an eye on her."
"Thank you," he murmured.
Ashley smiled. She knew exactly how worried he'd been, and poked a finger into his chest. "You okay?"
Andros nodded slowly. "Yes."
She gave his hand a squeeze, and caught ahold of Zhane's before he could step away. "No," she protested. "Don't go. I was just painting my nails."
She held up her left hand, and he looked at her skeptically. "Andros was painting your nails?"
The image alone was enough to make her dissolve into giggles, and she shook her head. "He's just disagreeing with my color choice, that's all."
"Hey." He nudged Andros with his shoulder. "What's wrong with silver?"
"This isn't fair," Andros complained, and as Ashley hugged him harder she saw Zhane do the same.
"Doesn't seem it, does it?" Zhane agreed cheerfully.
Ashley released them both with another laugh. "Hang on a sec." She wandered back into the bedroom to her side of the dresser, searching through her makeup drawer. She wasn't big on red fingernails, but she was sure that she had at least one bottle.
"Is this better?" Ashley turned around with it in her hand, deliberately seeking out Andros's eye. She saw his face flush, but he smiled at her sheepishly.
Zhane winked at her over Andros's shoulder.
She shook her head as she walked back towards them. It was cute only because they weren't serious.
"Zhane," she asked suddenly, never taking her eyes off of Andros, "what two colors make orange?"
"Red and yellow," he answered, looking at her oddly. "Why?"
Andros shrugged his shoulders when she raised an eyebrow at him, that too-innocent look on his face. He was too good at that sometimes.
"No reason," she said lightly. As she unscrewed the bottle, Ashley wondered idly what color she'd get if she mixed red with silver.