Chapter 68: Support
Andros sat in his seat and stared at his computer with a heavy breath. He felt hands rest on his shoulders and looked up to see Ashley standing there. "What are you thinking about?" she asked.
"Another message from one of my sources…" He replied, "It looks like I'm going off world again."
With a sigh, Ashley leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his torso. "For how long?" she asked. He shook his head slowly.
"We might have to postpone our plans," he replied.
Resting her chin over his shoulder as she stared at the message that was sent to him. "I'm sorry," he said honestly.
"This is what we do," she replied.
With her head resting against his, she closed her eyes as his hands reached up and rested over hers. "How did I get lucky to have such an understanding woman?" he asked.
"Because I know that just because the danger is being handled by another team, it doesn't mean we're done being Rangers ourselves," she replied.
Andros traced circles into the top of her hands as they stared silently at the computer.
Early the next morning, Ashley watched as Andros pulled on his flight suit. She walked over and fixed the collar of his jacket as they stood wordlessly in the middle of their room. Andros leaned over and rested his forehead against the top of her head as her eyes slid closed. His hands reached up and rested over the bump that was slowly beginning to show. Ashley held her hands over his as she fought every fearful thought that tried to go into her mind. Where he was going it as dangerous, if they figured out who he was…no…no she would not entertain those thoughts.
Standing back a little, she tilted her head up and he pressed his lips against hers lovingly. Her arms reached up and around his neck as she kissed him back. Once he released her, Andros reluctantly walked towards the door. Ashley held onto his hand until he was out of her reach and she watched the door close behind him. She sat on the edge of the bed with her head in her hands and she let out a shaky breath as a single tear rolled down her cheek.
The days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Spring was gone and summer was there. Ashley's stomach was prominent and it was very obvious that she was pregnant. She was pregnant in California during the summer and it was safe to say she was miserable.
One of these days, she was on the beach with Cassie and the others. "How are you holding up?" Cassie asked.
"Well, now that I'm on the ground, I'm not getting back up anytime soon," Ashley quipped.
Cassie laughed as she handed Ashley a water. "Seriously though," her friend insisted. Ashley rested her hand over her stomach.
"I'm fine, Cassie. I'm still working, I'm keeping myself busy with the nursery and everything," she replied, "This baby is keeping me occupied before he even gets here."
"How did the doctor's appointment go?" Kat asked as she sat down.
Ashley shrugged. "The baby's positioning itself, if you feel he's right here," she commented as she took Kat's hand and pressed it to her side. There was a strong kick and Ashley laughed at the look at Kat's face. "That tends to happen…a lot."
"Are you ready?" Cassie asked.
Ashley smiled a little. "Yeah, I think so," she replied. She bit her lower lip as she thought of how close she was to giving birth and they saw her face drop a little.
"He won't miss this," Cassie assure her.
"I know," Ashley said softly.
Somewhere on the other side of the galaxy, Andros ducked as a blaster blast flew just inches by his head. "DON'T LET HIM GET AWAY!" a voice shouted.
"Shit!" Andros muttered under his breath when he saw the door in front of him closing.
Using all of his momentum, he dropped to the floor and slid right under the door just before it closed. He rolled back to his feet when he heard the guards that were chasing him either run into the door or the sounds of buttons pushing to open it again. Taking this chance, he ran down the hall and went left instead of right as he worked to remember the outline of this compound. "Zhane, you better be close," he said into his communicator.
"When have I let you down?" Zhane answered.
"I have an entire army on my ass! Excuse me for being a little stressed out," Andros commented.
Andros grabbed a rail to a stairway, swinging himself up onto the stairs. He raced up them. "How far do I go up?" he asked.
"Probably about two more flights," Zhane replied.
Andros pushed himself to get up those last two flights. "Just like old times right? This is a piece of cake," Zhane commented.
"Says the man who is in our puddle jumper ship," Andros answered.
Andros threw a door open. "Which way?" he asked.
"Left," Zhane replied, "But I can't get a lock on you. The material making up the compound is too dense for the teleporter."
Andros pulled out his blaster. "You better have good aim," the Red Ranger stated.
"What are you doing?" Zhane asked.
"Just move in front of me!" Andros replied.
There was silence on the other end. "Andros, don't you dare," Zhane insisted.
"I'm out of options," Andros replied.
Andros held up his morpher. "LET'S ROCKET!" he shouted. Once morphed, he grabbed his blaster out of its holster. He held it up and as he ran, he fired several shots into the gas line above his head.
With his arms above his head in the attempt to protect himself from the explosion surrounding him. The glass in front of him shattered and he threw himself out of the building just as it was engulfed in flames. Then he was gone in a red flash.
Zhane ran over to Andros once he was on the ship. He immediately checked him for injuries as Andros pulled off his helmet, coughing from the smoke that had filled it. "You're an idiot," Zhane commented as he helped him sit up so he could breathe better.
"As I said, out of options," Andros replied before he fell into another coughing fit.
The Silver Ranger grabbed an air mask from the medical hit they had on the ship and put the apparatus over the Red Ranger's face. "Breathe in slowly," Zhane instructed him. Andros did as he was instructed and oxygen filled his lungs again. "Computer, take us back to KO-35," Zhane ordered. Andros stared at Zhane. "Anything new?" he asked.
"Just that General Venjix has allies who are helping him. They have technology now to track it. It's just a matter of time before they find it," Andros replied.
"What happens if they do?" Zhane asked.
Andros shook his head. "If they find that Zord, he can pick up where Dark Specter left off," he replied.
"What do we do now?" Zhane asked.
Again, he shook his head. "We have to wait, he's in hiding because we were too close," he replied, "It'll only be a matter of time before he pops up again." Zhane frowned.
"So that's it? We just go home?" Zhane asked.
"I have to go home," Andros replied.
Zhane stared, but then Andros gave him a pointed look. "Ashley needs me," he added. Zhane nodded in understanding at that moment.
"Computer, take us back to Earth," he ordered.
Andros leaned his head back and let out a deep breath. "I'm coming home, Ashley," he murmured.
Back on Earth, a week later, Ashley was sitting on the end of the hospital labor bed breathing. Andros was on a chair in front of her as her hands gripped his thighs and his hands rubbed her arms in the attempt to comfort her. She breathed in and out as she had learned to do. "How are you feeling?" Andros asked once the contraction finished.
"Scared," she traced into his thigh.
Andros did his best to move closer and she rested the top of her head against his chest. "I'm here," he assured her softly as he rubbed her shoulders. Tears welled up in her eyes.
"I'm happy you are," she replied sniffling, "I didn't want to go through this alone."
"Never, that never would've happened."
Ashley breathed in again as another contraction started up, her nails gripping his thighs again.
Outside the room, Kimberly waited anxiously as Tommy walked over and handed her some tea. "Anything yet?" Rocky asked as he entered the room.
"No, she's still in there," Aisha replied.
"This is going to be a long night," Alec commented.
"And they really didn't want anyone else in there?" Tanya asked.
"Karovan traditions is during the labor process it's between the parents, it's what Ashley had wanted to do," Alec replied.
"That just seems too terrifying for a couple, especially for a really young couple and their first child," Patricia commented.
"Ashley's strong, she can do it," Jason answered.
"She has Andros in there with her, that's all she needs," Carlos added.
The others agreed silently and they waited.
The hours ticked by, Ashley tried to sleep the best she could. Between the chills and the contractions, sleep was hard for her to get. Andros barely slept, he was by her side letting her grab onto him when she needed to. At one point when a nurse entered the room to check on Ashley's progress, she found Ashley on her side and Andros was crouched over her with his forehead resting against her temple. Ashley had a hand in the back of Andros's shirt, resting on the space between his shoulder blades. "Let's check mommy's progress," the doctor commented gently as she entered the room.
Andros stood up and Ashley groaned in pain as she was turned onto her back again. They checked her and Ashley looked up at Andros. His fingers moved through her hair and he massaged her scalp. "Looks like we're ready to have a baby," the doctor commented. Ashley felt her heart rate speed up.
"I'm scared," she mouthed to him.
A tear slid out of the corner of her eye. "Where's Kim?" she asked, "I want Kim in here too."
"Want me to get her?" he asked.
Ashley nodded her head rapidly. "I'll get her," he assured her, "I'll be right back."
In the waiting room, everyone was asleep or half-asleep but they looked up when Andros rushed in. "Kimberly," he called to her. Kimberly immediately jumped out of her seat. "She's calling for you." Without a second thought, Kimberly handed the magazine she was reading to Tommy before she rushed out of the waiting room, practically running down the hall with Andros.
They got Ashley into the position, with Kimberly holding up one leg and Andros with the other. Through the guttural groans and cries of pain, Ashley pushed. It felt like an eternity when she felt her baby finally leave her body. The tears were unstoppable when the baby's squawks filled the air. "Oh, Ashley!" Kimberly gasped through her tears.
Andros stared in complete awe with unshed tears in his own eyes as the baby was placed onto Ashley's chest. Ashley held the baby in her arms as the baby immediately curled up to her chest while continuing to screech. Ashley looked at Andros with happy tears in her eyes. "We have a little girl," Andros said softly. Ashley nodded with a smile.
"She's so perfect," Ashley answered.
Andros stroked her hair and Kimberly kissed Ashley's cheek. "You did it," she whispered to her sister. Kimberly wiped her eyes and stepped back as Andros leaned over and gave Ashley a loving kiss. Ashley kissed him back with her hand resting on his cheek.
Ashley looked at the baby in her arms. "Here I thought you were going to be a boy," she commented softly. She rubbed the baby's blanket covered back. "Oh but you're so perfect," she whispered, "Absolutely perfect."
"We can still name her after your dad," Andros commented.
Ashley smiled as she looked at the baby in her arms. "Welcome to the universe, Sammy," she whispered to the baby. Andros stroked the top of Ashley's head and they looked at each other. Andros leaned in and kissed her lovingly. They held each other close and looked at the baby that was now quietly nursing. They were a family.