- “I shouldn't be here. I should be an activated Klingon spy. Behind bars, or dead. Michael, the reason it didn't take, the reason L'Rell couldn't get through to me, that was you. Did Ash Tyler love you? Hell yes he did. And I can't find my way back without you.”
- — Tyler to Burnham
Ash Tyler appears as a klingon captive, who is saved by Captain Lorca, and becomes the chief of security on Discovery. He acts friendly and open towards Michael from the moment they first meet... however, she acts closed off and distant, partly due to her vulcan upbringing, and partly because she is aware of her fragile status on the ship. She is strongly encouraged by her friend, Tilly, to get to know the new officer, which leads to a mutual interest in each other. When the Discovery gets caught in a time loop, and only Stamets realises what happened, he turns to Michael, who soon tells everything to Ash. During several loops, they replay the same conversation again and again, and even dance, and kiss on the party of the crew. When the ship gets out of the time loop, they decide to start a relationship. Their trust in each other grows, they have several scenes together.
Later, Ash starts to behave strangely, which he first considers as an effect of the torture he suffered while kept captive by the klingons, and even mentions that he was in a relationship with one of the klingon leaders, L'Rell... although he claims he was forced. Michael accepts his struggles, and tries to help him, but as Ash realises more and more, he starts to distance himself from her, and keep secrets. When the Discovery captured L'Rell, it seems another personality awakens in him, the personality of the albino klingon, Voq, son of non, and while unconsciously drifting into that personality, murders one of the officers. He is not suspected immediately, and once he is Ash Tyler again, he has no memory of the crime. The Discovery ends up in the Mirror Universe during a failed spore jump, and he joins Michael to infiltrate the Terran Empire posing as a bodyguard for her. When Discovery makes contact with a team of rebels led by the mirror-self of Voq, Ash regains most of his memories, and attacks Michael, who uses him to get data to Discovery. Later, with the help of L'Rell, the crew of the ship tames Voq's personality, letting Ash Tyler rise again, but Michael can't forgive him, and they break up. During the season Ash proves to be a loyal crewmember, but at the end of it, decides to join L'Rell, and help her build a more peaceful, controllable klingon empire. Michael finally forgives him, and they kiss, and go their separate ways.
Ash appears to be the right hand of L'Rell, and they seem to be in a sort of relationship - he realises, that he had a son with her as Voq, and they decide to raise him together. Michael is the chief science officer of Discovery, but they contact often to get updates of the status of the klingon empire.
When L'Rell is blackmailed with Ash and their son, with the help of Emperor Georgiou, they fake their death, and send the little boy to Boreth, while Ash returns to Starfleet, to Section 31. He joins Discovery again as one of their officers, but neither Michael, nor him plan to resume their relationship - although Captain Pike realises that they were lovers. When, as part of the plan to capture the Red Angel, Michael needs to sacrifice herself, she seeks comfort in Ash, and they kiss... soon after Ash ends his relationship with L'Rell, who also realises that "he is, and always will be in love with Michael Burnham". They have some smaller conflicts, mostly regarding to the methods of Section 31, but ultimately, Michael decides to trust Ash.
By end of the season, it becomes obvious, that the only way to save the Federation is to send Discovery, and the data it carries to the future, and most of the crew decides to join Michael on the journey. However, Ash realizes, that someone has to keep an eye on Section 31, so even though they are both sad, they understand that they will be separated. They kiss goodbye, and Michael leads the Discovery to the future, while Ash becomes the head of Section 31.
- Burnham – “All my life, the conflict inside me has been between logic, and emotion. But now it's my emotions that are fighting. I think about him and I want to cry. But... I have to smile. And I feel angry. But I want to love. And I'm hurt, but there's hope. What is this?”
- Tyler – “Ah, it's just... being human.”
- — Lethe
- “I see you, Ash. Only you.”
- — Burnham; Will you take my hand?
The pairing is one of the main, canonical pairings in Discovery, so there was a lot of build-up from the very beginning. The characters had many scenes together, later several kissing scenes, and love confessions - although the relationship status was not exactly specified by the end, it's confirmed, that Discovery won't return from the future, meaning that the characters will probably never meet again.
Ashburn is a fairly popular ship in the fandom - there are many works inspired by the pairing, mostly fanmade videos and fanfiction. On AO3, Ashburn is the most written relationship for Ash and the second most written for Michael. It is also third most written relationship in the Star Trek: Discovery tag.
|SHIPS||het||Ashburn • Janewakotay • Pike/Vina • Spuhura|
|slash||Culmets • Garashir • Malyes • Spirk|