Legal: I do not own Power Rangers or the associated names, places, events etc. Anything not covered by these rights should be considered the creation of the author.
She was a good cook. She knew she was.
Mia was in the kitchen, with several burners going at once, and ingredients all around her. It had been days since Negatron had attacked them, and she still couldn't really understand why he had called her a lousy cook. Everyone loved her cooking, her aunts and uncles, her parents...everyone had constantly told her how great it was.
Even when she had come to the academy, everyone told her how good it was, even when they weren't aware she was around. She wasn't naive enough to believe people always told the truth to their friends' faces in case they hurt their feelings, but she had already heard numerous conversations behind closed doors. Kevin had called her cooking unique, and spoken to the others at length about the meal she prepared them when they were staking out a Nighlock, and Jayden had once commented that he had lost six pounds on her cooking. She wasn't even aware that her cooking was particularly healthy, but then she remembered that she didn't know what Jayden's diet was like before she came here, so it was possible he was eating better.
She looked to one pan, which had thick, gray smoke pouring out of it, and smiled. The chicken, onions and spices were coming along beautifully. It looked a little dry, so she put in another slug of oil, before thinking that might just dilute the flavour, and threw in another couple of tablespoons of chilli powder before stirring it. The oven had yet to sound, and so she knew it would be a while before the stuff she was baking was ready.
She turned her attention back to the salad station which looked like a multi-coloured miniature rainforest. She had always been told that fresh vegetables made any meal, and commonly prepared a salad to go with any meal, but it was essential tonight.
She had been a little self-conscious ever since Negatron's attack, and was looking for reassurance. So far her friends had told her that the cooking was good, but she was out to prove herself and had been pulling out all the stops and experimenting. Tonight, she was going Tex Mex and preparing fajitas, right down to making home-made tortillas. Kevin walked in.
"This smells...great." He told her. "What is it?"
"You spoiled the surprise now, I'm making fajitas!" She declared proudly. "You...won't tell anyone will you?"
"No." He assured her, looking around at the destruction that used to be the kitchen. There were pots, pans, utensils and food everywhere. Gray smoke billowed around the air, but Mia seemed completely oblivious to this. "Um...can I do anything?"
"I need to chop some more vegetables." She told him, holding out a hand as she inspected the salsa. "Give me the big blade."
He reached to the knife block, only for her to giggle.
"No, the BIG one!" She clarified. Kevin looked across to see her katana resting against the unit. He picked it up and handed it to her, uncertain how wise this was. The kitchen was already a disaster zone, and thanks to Mike's efforts to introduce the chronically uncoordinated Emily to the Nintendo Wii, the living room was only just being straightened out. He watched as she sliced cheerfully, humming to herself. Her technique with a sword was amazing, and he was somewhat impressed, albeit finding it a little disturbing to think that this was his dinner.
He had an idea that her recent experimentation in the kitchen was down to what Negatron had said to her. He had to admit that he was self-conscious about being seen as boring. When he had asked his friends about it, Jayden had told him that he was organised and focussed, and that they were admirable traits for a samurai. He had forced a smile and thanked him, but he couldn't help having a nagging doubt that the Red Ranger hadn't outright disagreed that he was boring. Indeed, none of them had exactly leapt to reassure him. He imagined that was the same with Mia and her cooking.
He thought she was amazing, but he couldn't possibly deny that she was possibly the worst cook he had ever met. He knew that he had lost weight as a result of being unable to stomach a lot of what she made, Jayden had said that he had lost six pounds since she moved in. When she came to him with a packed lunch, he had been fearful, and had managed to force a smile when he saw it. He had managed to force down one mouthful, but had to throw the rest away. He had been by there the following day and seen some of it still lying where he had thrown it. Apparently even the birds couldn't handle it.
He hated to think of hurting her feelings though. She was a genuinely warm and caring person. She had spent a long time as Emily's room-mate, and had done a lot to help her when she missed her home. She had also listened to him any time he told her how he had given up on his dream of swimming in the Olympics. She had assured him that they had all given up a lot and that they all missed home and would eventually go back to it. It was sweet of her to comfort him, but he was harshly aware of the timing.
He was in his mid twenties, and most athletes retired in their thirties. The Olympics only came around every four years, which was long time in athletics. If he was away from training for even a year, it was entirely possible he would be too old by the time the next games came around to compete at the top level. He had already accepted that it was possible his responsibility would rob him of every chance to live out his dream. He hadn't said that to her though, he knew she was only trying to make him feel better.
"I'll just go and prepare the oth...um...the table." He told her as he turned and left. He made his way into the living room where he found Jayden and Mike setting the new television up on the stand. Master Ji was watching them.
"A little to the left." He instructed them. "Are you sure...?"
"I've lived in five apartments in two years, I know how to link up cable." Mike sighed. He turned on the television, before inspecting the picture. He stood up and took a bow.
"I present to you, your new television." He answered.
"This will do." He replied sagely with a smile. "You don't need to worry, I feel that you and Emily will not need any punishment drills."
"Thank you sir." Mike replied gratefully. Kevin tapped Master Ji on the shoulder.
"Guys, Mia's doing another experiment." He told them. "She's making fajitas."
"Uh...tell her...my programme is on." Master Ji told him as he went to look out some sushi. "Tell her I'll look after myself."
"Guys, please, she's counting on us." Kevin begged them.
"Um...I think Emily and I..."
"You're both broke." Jayden reminded him. "You both just cleaned out your savings replacing the television."
"What about you then?" Mike asked him.
"You know, I have noticed that the rest of us tend to wear our OWN colour." Kevin chipped in. "I mean, Mike wears Green, I wear blue..."
"But you always seem to end up wearing pink shirts." Mike concluded with a little smirk, realising where the leverage in this situation was.
"I suck at laundry alright?" Jayden muttered.
"Of course there might be another reason though." Kevin teased him. "Maybe you're doing it to wear a certain other samurai's colour."
"I wonder if Mia's noticed." Mike continued, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "I mean, Negatron did say you had a secret, maybe..."
"I am not..."
"I wonder how Mia would react if we told her you were crushing on her." Kevin said with a smirk. "I mean, it could be awkward if..."
"I am not crushing on Mia!" Jayden snapped.
"Does she know that?" Mike asked him. Jayden just sighed and shook his head in defeat as Emily made her way in from the garden.
"Fine, I'll go along with it." He told them as Mia arrived.
"I've got the stuff out on the table!" She called out. "Dinner's served!"
"What am I in for?" Emily asked as Mia left, making sure she couldn't hear her.
"I hope you like spicy food." Mike told her, putting an arm around her as they made their way to the dining room. "Let's just hope three bathrooms is enough."