Disclaimer: I don't own the Power Rangers. That would be Disney.
"How?" Karone finally asked. She wiped her face with one hand, tears still in her eyes. "I--I just... how?"
Andros wondered the same thing, but sitting on the couch in the Observatory with his mother's arms around him mattered so much more than the answer. He lifted one hand to rub at his eyes yet again, and felt his mother turn towards Karone.
"We're not sure," Adya admitted. "We left the Megaship and then we were... here."
"They first showed signs of life shortly before Lyra appeared in Angel Grove," Deca interjected quietly, her voice fading as quickly as she had spoken up.
"And you didn't tell us?" Andros demanded, still too elated to really be angry.
Deca didn't answer, and he just rolled his eyes. Adya smiled at him, and he hugged his mother harder, still not sure that he believed that he had them both back.
"I just can't believe it," Karone said softly. "I--I thought I'd never see you again, and then when we realized that Cosmos--" She stopped.
He saw Karone's eyes widen, and his joy turned to sickness. "That night," he said, hesitating. Maybe he didn't need to tell them now... "That night you went to Angel Grove, you were attacked by--by Cosmos and Lyra."
"We remember," Kieran said softly.
"But you don't understand," Andros said. "Lyra was Kadri, and Cosmos--"
"We know." Adya laid her hand on his arm, squeezing gently. "We know."
"How?" Karone asked.
"He showed us," Kieran said, his expression dark. He touched Karone's hand, reaching for Andros with the other. "We can talk about it later."
There was no room for argument in that. Andros nodded slowly, one arm around his mother. With the other, he reached to hold his father's hand, squeezing the fingers hard. "I--" Tears stung his eyes and he had to swallow hard just to be able to get the words out. "I love you."
"We love you too," Adya murmured. "We've always loved you, and we're so proud of you."
She was looking at Karone as she spoke, but Andros had a feeling that the words were directed at him. His throat aching all over again, he just nodded, leaning his head on her shoulder.
"Tell us about you," Adya said. "What's happened to the two of you?"
Andros was more than happy to let the subject change. He let Karone do most of the talking, catching them up on what had happened and interjecting only when it was important. He wasn't sure that he would even have known where to start.
His parents listened without speaking much, and he just sat there not knowing what to say. There wasn't anything that he needed to say. All that he had to do was sit there and convince himself that this wasn't a dream.
Karone's voice washed over him, and he tried to think. Because it nagged at him and he had to know. Deca said that his parents had shown signs of life when Lyra had appeared in Angel Grove, and as far as he could tell, Cosmos had brought Lyra back to life with Zordon's energy. He could believe that Cosmos had done the same with their parents.
He only wished that he knew if it had been deliberate or not. It wouldn't matter in the long run--he didn't know what would become of Cosmos and Lyra, but one act of goodness wasn't enough to erase the last five years.
But it mattered to Andros, and he wanted to know.
The Observatory doors slid open, and Ashley hesitated in the doorway. "Um," she said quietly, and that was all that it took for all the eyes in the room to focus on her. "I don't mean to interrupt you, but--there's dinner if you want to join the rest of us."
"That sounds lovely," Adya declared firmly. "We'll be there."
"Wait," Andros said before Ashley could leave. "Ash, wait a minute."
She smiled as she came closer, and he stood up to take her hand. As he did so, Andros realized that he didn't know exactly what he was doing. Both of his parents smiled knowingly, though, and he relaxed.
"Well," his mother remarked, "it looks like you've finally listened to my advice."
Adya stood, laughing as she kissed his cheek. "You're smiling again," she said softly. "I'm not sure that I remember the last time you smiled."
"Mom." He bit his lip, his eyes stinging.
Adya turned to Ashley, laughing. "I knew I liked you," she declared, and then reached for Kieran's hand. "We'll be waiting."
Karone followed closely behind their parents, shooting Andros a pointed look that he ignored. Instead, he turned to pull Ashley into his arms, holding her tight as he let out a shaky breath.
"I never thought--" He swallowed hard. "I can't believe... my parents, Ash."
"I know," she murmured. She hugged him tight. "You deserve them, you and Karone both."
He stepped away from her only because he was hungry, and if he started crying again now, they'd never make it to dinner. "Thanks," he whispered, forcing air out around the lump in his throat. He took her hand and squeezed her fingers hard, taking a step towards the door. "Come on."
She'd never forget this. That much was for certain. Ashley snuggled a little closer to Andros, her head on his chest. She hadn't ever seen him this happy before. She liked to see him like this. More than anything, she wanted see him happy.
And she wouldn't, if she went back to Earth. He wouldn't want to live on Earth. She supposed that she'd always known that. But he hadn't asked her to stay with him, and she couldn't exactly invite herself to live with him on his home planet.
"Andros," she whispered. "You awake?"
"Yeah," he answered softly. He touched her hair with one hand, slowly stroking his fingers through her hair. "I'm just... thinking."
"Want to talk?" she offered, the way she had so many times before.
"Not yet." He played with her hair for a few moments longer, and she couldn't help but smile. "Ash... I love you."
"I love you too," she said, just as quietly. Her heart seized painfully, and she wondered suddenly if he would break up with her rather than try to work it out. She forced the idea away a minute later--this was Andros, and he wouldn't do that. Ashley was mostly sure of that.
"I was talking to Karone," he said. "Before... this. She told me to talk to you."
Ashley made a mental note to thank Karone for it later. "All right," she said slowly.
"I love you," he said again, slowly. "I love you, and you--you're everything."
"I love you too," she murmured again, not sure yet whether or not she should be worried. "Andros?"
"I don't want to be without you," he said in a rush, and she let out a deep breath. "I want to stay with you, Ash."
"That's what I want, too," she said softly. She pushed herself up on one elbow to stare down at him, smiling a little as she brushed her fingers across his forehead. "But you wouldn't want to be on Earth."
"Well..." He hesitated. "Would you ever want to come to KO-35? You don't have to, and it won't be the way that Earth was, but--"
She covered his lips with one finger, not bothering to fight the smile that was slowly spreading across her face. She didn't know how this would work--what would her parents say?--but that didn't matter now. Andros was what she wanted more than anything, and she'd been through enough just to have him. They'd find a way.
"I'd love to," she told him, and leaned back down to kiss him. He smiled against her lips and she giggled, speaking before she could second guess herself. "You know I'd stay forever if you wanted me to."
"I wouldn't mind," he whispered, and she kissed him again.
"Good," she declared, and settled herself comfortably in his arms. "Then I'll stay forever."
"Forever," he echoed softly, suddenly serious. "I want you to stay forever."
Ashley opened her eyes again. She didn't dare hope that she'd heard right. "What?"
She drew away just enough to stare at him. "What?"
"Stay forever," he whispered, carefully watching her with wide eyes. "Please?"
"I--oh god, Andros..." Her breath caught as she realized what he was asking. It was everything that she'd ever wanted and she could hardly speak to tell him so. She settled for nodding her head fiercely, blinking tears out of her eyes as he wrapped his arms around her in a crushing hug. She could do this. She could stay with him forever.
Author's Notes: ::collapses:: AND I'M DONE! Oh god, I'm never doing this again. Until next time, of course. ::laughs:: So much love for anyone who's stuck around with me for the past... two years and twenty-eight days, and for all the people who showed up along the way. You've all been amazing to me, and thank you so much!