Zhane sighed, pushing a strand of blonde hair out of his eyes and trying not to think of all the excellent reasons he'd had for doing this. The rebels of KO-35 needed him, certainly, but the Rangers had needed him to. But the most important reason he had left was. . .he needed some time away. He needed to think about the years he had spent in cryosleep, he needed to put things together in his mind from the time before his 'nap' and from recent events.
He bit his lip for a moment. That was something that he had never told to the others, especially not to Andros. He doubted Astronema would tell anyone either. How could they ever admit that they were in love? Were they even in love? He didn't know, really. He found her unbelievably, if bizarrely, attractive, and he was convinced there was a core of goodness in her that would never fade. She couldn't be entirely evil, not with the little girl giggle she'd emitted after her first taste of a melted marshmallow.
I wonder what she'd say if she knew it was Cassie and Carlos who taught me about marshmallows? He clearly remembered the night, it hadn't been too long after he'd awakened. The Rangers had been having what they called a 'campout' in the Simudeck, and he had stopped by on his way to bed. He had tired easily the first few days, but that had been ending. The Silver Ranger had been surprised to see Andros there; he'd never thought to really see his best friend so chummy with others. The looks that were passing between him and Ashley were totally unmistakable, as well. They're such a good couple. They'd better stay together, too! He would do severe damage to them if they didn't. Ashley's bubbly cheerfulness was exactly what Andros needed to bring him out of the shell of darkness he had fallen into after Karone's kidnapping and Zhane's own injury.
"What are you doing out there, my friends?" he wondered, staring up at the stars through a tear in the tent he slept in. "Do you miss me? Do you think about me?"
He knew he hadn't stopped thinking about them. That he couldn't. They were a part of him, and he was a part of them. They would always be together, in their hearts. They had worried when they thought he was dying, he had sacrificed what could have been his true love for his duty to save them. They were part of each other, and always would be.
"I'll go home someday," he swore to himself. "And then I'm never leaving again. Just think about me," he knew they couldn't hear him, but it made him feel better to utter the words. "Don't forget me, Andros. I'm your best friend."
"No," he shook his head, turning around to face her. He knew if he didn't, she was likely to sit himself directly on a console where he would have to look at her. While he didn't mind looking at the Yellow Ranger, the consoles weren't exactly designed to take being used as perches. "I was just thinking about Zhane."
She nodded, reaching out to squeeze his hand. "We all miss him. He wasn't here that long, but he got to us all. He's just that kind of a guy."
"He always was," Andros remembered. "There was nothing he liked more than having lots of friends. I think he wanted to go with the rebels mainly to see if any of the other people he knew also survived. They need his help, and having a Ranger with them will help if they get attacked by anyone. . .but he's looking for old faces."
Ashley understood; when she and the others had returned to Earth for the first time, she had almost instinctively been looking for Justin and other friends when they arrived in Angel Grove. When you were away from something or someone for a while, you sometimes had to see it again to understand that it had either changed or you had. It was a natural human reaction, and it was good to see that humans from Earth and humans from KO-35 weren't that different.
"He'll be back," she reassured her boyfriend. "You know he will be. And until then, you've got your memories of him. It's not like it was when he was healing. Then, you didn't know if he'd wake up. Now he is, and he can take care of himself."
She was glad to see most of the seriousness lift from his eyes as he stood up. "You're right," he said at last. "Thanks, Ashley. You always know what to say. Come on, let's get some rest, it's late."
As they headed for the personal quarters, Andros sighed briefly, not enough for his companion to notice. Think about me, Zhane. Think about us all. We miss you, and we want you back. Come home soon, my friend. Come home soon.