Disclaimer: I don't own the Power Rangers.

Notes: The twenty-two themes for the Power Rangers Slash Write 22 challenge are: animals, atmosphere, children, commitment, dream, family, fire, friendship, hallways, kissing in the rain, laughter, losing control, loss, obsessive, peace, photograph, public dining, rock, safety, thrill, warmth, and watermelon.

Apparently, I started this thinking that doing this in twenty-two sentences would be easy. The fact that it took me a two years to finish these twenty-two sentences probably means that I was wrong. These twenty-two sentences are also grammatically dubious and the theme is sometimes vague, but... grammar is overrated and creative interpretation is awesome? *grins*


The gray kitten lay curled up on Andros's chest, and, as Karone paused in the bedroom doorway, lifted his head to stare at her, a quiet rumble in his throat. Karone's lips quirked as she came closer, remembering Ashley's laughter the night before--Ashley had chosen the cat, but the cat had chosen Andros. It was almost adorable, really--the kitten (Ashley had claimed naming rights, but so far had proven herself completely stumped) was a fluffball and Andros just... wasn't, and Karone decided that if Zhane didn't follow through with his threats of photos, and lots of them, then she would.

She stepped back into the hall and pulled the door shut behind her. Astronema protested at what she had been relegated to--blackmailing her family members with photos of kittens--but Karone just shook her head, silently laughing, and headed downstairs hoping that she'd find Ashley still curled up in front of the fire.

Ashley was nowhere to be seen, but there was a light on in the kitchen and a rumpled blanket still warm from being wrapped around her shoulders that Karone had no qualms about stealing for herself, shouting "Thank you!" as she snuggled into it.

It smelled of soap and lingering traces of Ashley's shampoo--watermelon, Ashley said it was called; Karone personally saw nothing watery about it, but when did anything about Earth make sense?

Sometimes, she still couldn't believe that she had lost to them. She might have been the only one, though--she remembered the worried murmurs that had floated around in the last few weeks, as everyone around her had begun to devote their resources into ensuring only that if they did lose the war, it wouldn't be to the young Rangers of Earth. Dark Spectre had done his best to quash the whispers, but even he hadn't been able to contain them.

But she would never have known this contentment, this joy, this love, this peace if it had happened any other way.

She'd never had so much as a friend until Zhane, and then Andros's teammates had welcomed her... They were far beyond friendship now. She knew she wasn't the only one to feel this way; Ashley sometimes talked about pinching herself to be sure she was awake, and swore that this was a good thing.

Ashley was back, sinking into Karone's side as Karone tucked the blanket safely around both of them. In her hands Ashley clasped that mug Zhane had picked up on their last trip back to Earth, sipping tea that smelled nearly as hideous as the mug looked, though she swore it tasted better than expected and anyway, it helped with the nausea (why it was called "morning sickness" when she was never sick in the mornings was just one more thing about Earth Karone would never understand).

Karone leaned her head against Ashley's shoulder, eyes closed, smiling to herself as Ashley's body supported hers.

It was this comfortable silence that she disturbed some time later when she murmured, "Are we still going out tonight?"

"I've been craving their soup all week," Ashley said firmly, "and I don't care what Andros says, everyone else in the restaurant is paying more attention to their dinner than ours."

More than the soup, it was still raining outside--Ashley liked to go out in the rain; she said it was romantic, but that might just have been the kissing. Karone smiled as she slid her hand into Ashley's, her fingertips sliding across the smooth metal of Ashley's ring, warm from her skin. Ashley squeezed her fingers in reply, and Karone's smile widened as Ashley turned towards her, leaning closer for a kiss.