Disclaimer: I don't own the Power Rangers.
Author's Note: So, this is the last part of the trilogy. (I can't believe I actually got this far...) I re-read parts one and two before writing this chapter, and I realized how little actually happened. There should hopefully be much more action in this part.
About the first scene--I couldn't help myself. ::grins:: I've been waiting forever to write something like that. Enjoy!
She hovered between dream and consciousness for what felt like forever, blissfully unaware of everything around her. There was nothing besides the warmth all around her and a peaceful contentedness that made her too lazy to move.
Slowly, her mind settled back into her body, and Ashley let out a sleepy sigh. Still too lethargic to open her eyes, she tried to burrow a little deeper into her blankets. Her sleep-fogged brain took far too long to realize that she couldn't roll over, and finally she blinked her eyes open.
Andros's face was the first sight that met her eyes, and it brought a smile to her face. He was still asleep, his lips turned up in a small smile. His hair fell across his face in streaked tangles, and she brushed it back with a soft laugh. He stirred slightly but didn't come all the way awake, and Ashley laid her head back down to relax against him.
Her body shifted against his as she squirmed around until she was comfortable, and she frowned slightly. She wasn't wearing a thing, and it didn't seem like he was, either... The night before came flowing back to replay itself lazily in her mind, and then Ashley smiled peacefully at the remembered feel of his hands on her skin.
She turned her face towards him to kiss the crook of his neck and decided that sex was a little overrated. Not that it was bad, just... a little uncomfortable, but she supposed that would fade in time. Beneath the awkwardness, though, Ashley couldn't help feeling that she'd never have enough of him, that her sole purpose in life was to love him and let him love her in return.
You've fallen way too hard, she told herself, and not for the first time. But it was so easy to love him that she had to wonder how it was possible that some people didn't. He was so... sweet. Caring. Considerate. Protective. Honorable, she decided, wrinkling her nose slightly. It wasn't the word she was searching for, but close enough. He'd lost his childhood fighting a war that had taken away his friends and his family, but he was still here, still fighting.
"I love you," she murmured softly, placing a kiss on his chest.
His arm tightened around her waist, and she knew he'd heard. "Love you too..." Andros's voice, sleepy and lethargic, brought a smile to her face.
Ashley sighed contentedly and snuggled closer as Andros struggled to wake up. "This is nice," she whispered, reluctant to disturb the calmness all around them.
He kissed her hair in silent agreement, one hand trailing up her spine to rub her shoulders. Ashley closed her eyes and let him stroke her hair, feeling the peaceful silence stretch on for what felt like forever before she felt compelled to break it.
"Last night," she ventured finally, tilting her head back to look at him. "I..."
Andros lowered his mouth to hers in a soft kiss, hugging her a little closer to him. She couldn't think to do anything but kiss him back, draping an arm around his neck again. Her fingers brushed against his spine the way that had driven him crazy the night before and his hand clenched on her shoulder as his kiss turned a little less soft.
Ashley was distracted enough that she didn't wonder when he tensed suddenly, still kissing him and not caring why he stiffened until she heard a startled exclamation from somewhere near the door. Blushing furiously, she snuck a quick glance over her shoulder to see Zhane lounging in the doorway, grinning widely at both of them and not looking at all uncomfortable.
"You took my advice, then," he remarked, smirking at Andros. "You know, I think I'm going to go get some breakfast now. You two can just go back to whatever it is that you were doing... Oh, and Andros? The doors around here do lock, you know."
Ashley groaned and buried her face in Andros's chest as the door slid shut again. He stroked her hair soothingly and sighed. "He'll keep his mouth shut if he knows what's good for him," he assured her, and kissed her neck. "But we really should get up now."
"Yeah," she agreed quietly. She'd kill Zhane herself if she had to. Part of her almost didn't care--nothing was going to ruin her good mood. Andros was hers and she was his, and nothing else mattered.
Andros entered the holding bay quietly, hoping to sneak through unnoticed. No such luck; Zhane snorted loudly into his oatmeal the moment he walked through the doors. Glaring at him, Andros ordered his own breakfast and took a seat, wondering if Ashley had done the smart thing by choosing now to visit her family. Probably.
"So Andros," Carlos asked. "Sleep well?"
TJ snickered, and Andros shot Zhane a look that promised the nastiest revenge he could think of. The Silver Ranger simply smiled back innocently. "That could have been a totally coincidental question."
Andros crossed his arms over his chest and arched an eyebrow. "Why do I doubt it?"
"Seriously, we're happy for you guys," TJ said.
"Yeah." Carlos nodded. "Really, we are. But would it kill you to lock the door next time?"
Andros groaned, and poked at the food on his plate. "That wasn't deliberate!"
"Sure it wasn't." Zhane nodded knowingly. "You know, if I didn't know you I'd think you--"
"You don't think," Andros snapped shortly. "That's your problem. And we're not talking about this anymore."
TJ and Carlos wisely kept silent. Zhane shot him a look of mingled hurt and confusion, prodding him mentally. Andros ignored him, glaring down at his breakfast, his good mood long gone. He didn't care; this was something he really didn't want to talk about and especially not with Zhane.
He rubbed his forehead with a sigh, setting his fork down next to his untouched food. "Deca, is Ashley still at her parents house?"
"Yes," she replied, and he shoved his stool back.
"I'm going to see her," he announced unnecessarily. No one said a word as he stormed out of the holding bay to change into clothing that would be less conspicuous on Earth.
He was scowling as he rang Ashley's doorbell, and tried to force a smile for whoever opened the door. Andros should have known that no matter how he'd hoped that she would answer the door herself, he'd find himself facing some other member of her family.
"Mrs. Hammond?" he guessed, and the woman nodded. "I'm Andros. I--"
"Oh, I know who you are," she cut him off with a friendly smile. "Please, come in."
He followed her a bit timidly, doubtful of how welcoming she would be if she knew how he and Ashley had spent the night before. He was assuming, naturally, that Ashley was making no plans to tell her, and had a feeling that neither of them would appreciate it if he let something slip.
"Ashley's right in there," her mother told him, pointing towards what he vaguely remembered as being the kitchen. "If you haven't eaten yet, help yourself to some cereal."
He stepped into the large, airy room, momentarily blinded by the sunlight streaming in through the windows. Ashley sat at the table in the middle of the room, nibbling on a piece of toast. She glanced up as he entered the kitchen, looking down again before her eyes snapped back to his.
"Andros!" She set her toast down and jumped up from her seat, coming around to hug him. "Why are you here?"
He let out a deep breath as he returned the hug, just inhaling the sweet scent of her hair. "I just wanted to get off the Megaship," he muttered. "I had to get away from Zhane."
She wrinkled her nose. "What did he say?"
"It wouldn't mean anything to you." Andros sighed as he shoved his hair back from his face. "He doesn't even know what he said. I don't want to talk about it," he added, when she opened her mouth. "Please."
"Okay..." Ashley leaned up to kiss him, her breath lingering hot on his mouth as she slowly drew away. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah." He let out a deep breath, his arms sliding around her waist. "I'm fine."
She giggled when he kissed her, but pushed him away a few seconds later. "You're lucky my parents didn't walk in just now," she muttered, her eyes straying towards the living room. "Let's get out of here."
"We need a plan."
Cosmos looked at Lyra quizzically. She was lounging across their bed on her back, hands clasped behind her head. Eyes closed, tone lazy, she didn't look like someone two Rangers had escaped from only fifteen hours before.
"We need a plan," he agreed. "What are you thinking?"
"That we need to improve our security, for one."
He grimaced, and nodded his agreement. "I told Ecliptor last night to do something about that."
"Good." She finally opened her eyes, turning her head slightly towards him. "That's... good."
Cosmos raised an eyebrow. "You're strange this morning."
"Am I?" Lyra shrugged, and rolled over onto her stomach. Her hair fell around her face in disarray, and she shoved it out of her way with an annoyed sigh. "I was only thinking."
"About?" he prompted, when she didn't elaborate.
"Nothing in particular." She paused. "Well... do you really want to kill your brother?"
"Will you stop calling him that?"
Lyra rolled her eyes at him. "The Red Ranger, then."
Now he was starting to worry. "Why wouldn't I?"
"Well." Her lips curled into a smirk, her eyes gleaming dangerously now. "It's just harder to make his life miserable if he'd dead."
He wasn't stupid enough to think that was all there was to it, but he knew better than to ask. Instead, he just grinned and took a seat on the bed. "What did you have in mind?"
Ashley was still giggling as she collapsed onto the oversized towel she'd spread on the sand. "You weren't that bad," she insisted, gasping for air. "Really."
He laughed good-naturedly before joining her, his wet hair tickling her arm. "I don't care," he informed her. "I'm not doing it again."
"You're no fun." She pouted at him before laying down on her back in hopes of a tan. "But you're the only person I've ever met who can't figure out bodysurfing."
"That makes me feel much better," he grumbled, but he was smiling and she was glad.
Whatever had been bothering him when he'd shown up in her kitchen was clearly the last thing on his mind now. His hazel eyes were clear and unusually carefree as he smiled down at her, the slight breeze drying the ocean water on his skin.
Ashley had a hard time tearing her eyes off of him. "Hungry?" she asked, just needing something to distract her from how gorgeous he looked like that. It didn't really work.
"Not really," he answered, and she went right back to staring at him.
Andros leaned over her to grab the sunblock, lowering his head to place a kiss on the back of her neck. Ashley shivered as his skin brushed against hers before he straightened up, her eyes following him as he flicked the lid open and squeezed some onto his hands.
"I'm guessing you don't tan well?" she ventured with a slight giggle, after watching him apply two layers to his legs.
"I've never tried," he said with a shrug. "And I don't intend to start now," he added quickly, probably catching the grin forming on her face.
"You'd look cute with a tan," she informed him, as he rubbed the lotion into his arms. "Or all red like a lobster."
Andros wrinkled his nose at her. Ashley smirked at him and sat up, grabbing the sunblock away from him. "Let me do your back."
He had no objections to that, and she scooted around behind him. She made sure to actually rub it into his skin--if he really didn't tan, she didn't want him burning--but really all she wanted to do was touch him. She needed to touch him, needed to feel his skin warm beneath her fingers to know that everything was as it should be.
Her mind drifted, and she slid her arms beneath his to hug him, resting her chin against his shoulder. His skin smelled of sunblock, but she didn't care. Ashley squeezed him a little harder, suddenly only able to think about how she'd almost lost him a day before.
"Ash?" His voice, soft as it was, was enough to break through her thoughts. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she whispered. "It's nothing."
"It's something to you," he disagreed. "Tell me."
Andros turned to face her when she didn't answer, pulling her into his arms with one look at her face. Ashley tucked her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes, letting out a deep breath.
"I'm fine," she insisted. "Really. Just thinking about yesterday, that's all."
"Yesterday?" he repeated nervously, worry creeping across his face.
"Not that, silly." She couldn't help smiling a little, but it faded as she added, "They could have killed you."
"Oh. That," Andros sighed, and brushed her hair out of her face. "They would have killed you first," he muttered, his expression darkening. "Yesterday... you wouldn't wake up, and I thought..."
His voice trailed off, and she felt him place a kiss in her still-damp hair. "I love you," he murmured instead, hugging her a little closer as she smiled.
"I love you too."
Andros just held her, one hand stroking her hair gently. Ashley closed her eyes and nuzzled closer to him, her arms still tight around his waist. She thought she'd been in love a hundred times before, but she knew what she felt for Andros was really it. What she felt for him couldn't compare to what she'd ever felt for anyone else, couldn't even come close.
The thought of losing him petrified her, and Ashley hugged him harder as she firmly resolved that she wasn't going to. She'd kill Cosmos and Lyra herself if that was what it took, but Ashley would do whatever she had to to keep both herself and Andros alive through the last battle of this war.