A/N: Been a while since I've posted fic. Might be a bit rusty. But thanks to a huge bout of nostalgia and some mild regression, I have found a new/old fandom in Power Rangers. This should be fun.
It feels good to shower. The confined stall, the mild water, soap. Beats bathing in a lake.
I'm doing good, helping the Rebels. But the camp is little more than a shelter for refugees, amenities are sorely lacking. The Megaship is always available, I know, but dropping in for the occasional feed and shower seems a little cold.
Besides, I left for a good reason.
But tonight I find myself back here again, drifting through space, feeling the weight of everything.
It's late, everyone is asleep. Probably a good thing I don't sleep much, so I can just be on my own for a bit. Take everything in. Haven't had a chance to do that yet, might be good to start.
The corridors are dark when I slip through them, like the phantom I seem to be these days. I feel so disconnected from everyone, everything that's been happening. I mean, when did this all come out about Astronema? Or, Karone now I guess. Feels like a lifetime ago since...
Someone's on the bridge, the lights are on. I pull myself around the corner—seems the gravity on this thing is heavier than I remember. It's Andros, sitting there alone in front of the vast nothingness of space, the black abyss to which we truly belong.
He's clutching his locket.
I don't think he's moved since earlier tonight, the screen certainly hasn't changed. There's her face, staring down, away from our eyes. This is Karone, who she really is. All except for the mechanical upgrade to the side of her head. That's new, not Karone or the old Astronema. This is something new.
Even from the angle I can see the anguish on my best friend's face, the torment in his eyes. I walk over to him and as softly as I can I pat my hand down on his shoulder, because that's just what we do.
Andros doesn't move and I feel worried, the pit of my gut surges with unmitigated dread. This won't end well when it does end, and end it has to. One way or another.
So I lie: "It's going to be okay. It'll be alright."
My lies have never been a straight line. I always end up saying too much. He knows this, ignores my attempt at comfort.
"I shouldn't have let her go back there. If only I'd just come up with a better plan," Andros mutters and I feel he isn't really talking to me.
There's a chill in the air, could be that I'm only wearing my pants and a white tank, but all the same the atmosphere around us seems so heavy.
I take my hand off him, keeping silent because I know if I did say something else I'd say the wrong thing and we'd end up in an argument. On the other hand that could be good for him, might get him to let off some steam. It occurs to me that I could just sock him one in the jaw and knock him right out of this brood fest.
In the end I don't. I'll probably regret that later when I do try to get some sleep.
My eyes wander back to the screen. For Andros's sake I'm trying hard not to look too much at the image, regardless of its computer-generated quality, although the detail is almost perfect.
I look at the image of the woman I am trying so hard not to love.
In a moment of sudden clarity I realise I know her, that is I recognise her. The girl outside the theatre that day, the one I bumped into. That was her, Karone!
Despite myself I laugh.
Andros shoots me a furious glare, a hurt look. I sober immediately. His look inspires me to speak my mind.
"There was nothing you could have done," I say quietly, pulling over a chair to sit level with him. "Karone did what she thought she had to, to save an entire planet. For better or worse, she risked her own safety for the safety of others. She's a hero."
Andros looks right into my eyes when he says: "Now the monster's back."
I don't look away. "We'll fight it together, like always. We'll fight to get her back. Until the end."
Words of comfort, but no lies.
"First, though," I continue, lifting my voice and smiling, "you should get some sleep. You're starting to get permanent red-eye."
Andros flashes me an annoyed look for that, but concedes and lifts himself from the chair. The gravity does seem heavier.
I watch him leave the room. The air remains crisp as the bridge belongs to me for a brief moment. I turn back to the screen and Karone is still there. Taking the remote, I turn her off.
I won't sleep tonight. I know Andros won't either. How can we?