Disclaimer: 'The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers' is copyrighted by Hearst Entertainment, Inc.
This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit of it.
The plot bunnies said I had to write this. I'm innocent. Really.
It is night on an unnamed cargo ship. The S5 Rangers are on an undercover mission that is so insignificant that the experienced reader knows already here that it can only be a setup for a tumultuous adventure that will test their loyalties and force them to confront their deepest fears.
The small kitchen in the ship's passenger section lies quiet when all of a sudden Goose enters and starts rummaging through the cupboards. He is interrupted when Niko joins him.
"Shane, I need to talk to you."
"Sure, just let me find something to drink first."
"Are you looking for coffee?" she asks. "There is some in the right drawer."
"Why does everyone always assume that I only drink coffee? Am I a walking cliché or what?"
She shrugs. "You could always try some chamomile tea."
"No, that's your cliché."
"Well, there's still that expired protein shake in the leftmost drawer…"
Shane opens the drawer, adds some water to the protein powder to make it into a drink and sits down at the table with Niko.
"So what did you want to talk about?"
Niko looks at him intently. Her eyes are flashing green, blue and purple.
"I have had visions of things to come. I can sense great danger. I think there is another fanfic approaching."
Goose stops stirring his protein shake and looks suddenly very serious.
"Can you tell what it will be about?"
For a moment, Niko's eyes turn black like the vastness of space outside the ship.
"All I can see for sure is that we will be tested to the very core of our being. It's also one of 'those' fics."
"I'm sorry, I don't understand." Goose sounds nervous, though.
"Well, you and me…" she trails off.
Goose still looks uncomprehending.
"I think you need to be more specific; they didn't really teach me literature at Wolf Den."
Niko laces her hands and starts to lecture him. She's looking slightly uncomfortable though.
"Well, there are basically two versions, and I'm not sure which one is ahead of us. Version one has me loose control over my powers, and you become the prime target of that. The whole experience sends me onto a major guilt trip and leaves you feeling kind of overwhelmed. In version two, I'm seriously hurt, which forces you to confront your true feelings for me, but you don't tell me until after a lot of angst and soul-searching. The two versions can also be combined."
Goose looks kind of overwhelmed at that revelation.
"So?" Niko prods.
"Which version do you prefer?"
"I'm not sure. Can I think about it?" Goose fidgets on his chair nervously.
"Well, yes, but don't take too much time; I'm starting to feel kind of unstable."
Goose is staring anxiously into his protein shake as though he could find the answer there.
"Niko? Whatever we do – can we do it before you develop a fateful attraction to Zachary?"
Niko dismisses that suggestion with a shake of her head.
"I'm usually not that attracted to him. I think it would take some major timeline blending or switching for that to occur."
"So since we know about this danger beforehand – what can we do?" Goose asks grimly.
"Well, I was thinking if we confront our feelings now, that might take some pressure out of the experience."
Goose looks stunned. "What feelings?"
Niko takes his hand.
"Well, you've always been a good friend to me, and I think you could be more."
Goose looks like a trapped rabbit in front of a snake.
"Niko, I'm not really sure whether I would be good for you. I have years of indoctrination as a Supertrooper that don't allow me to be in a relationship, plus I'm not really over Darkstar, and I flirt with every woman I see to scare you away."
Niko looks resigned.
"It was worth a try."
Sullen silence settles between them. Niko is staring at the ceiling while Shane avoids looking at her.
Finally he speaks. "Niko?"
She looks up. "Yes?"
Shane's face shows sudden tenderness.
"I care about you. Try to stay away from Scarecrow and Killbane."
Niko smiles and puts her hand on his arm.
"And you try not to get psycho crystallized."
Niko keeps looking into his eyes. Shane realizes her eyes are deep as the sea. He brushes a stray wisp of hair out of her face. They keep moving closer. Their faces are only inches away from each other.
Seconds before their lips meet, Shane pulls away abruptly.
"I'm sorry, Niko, I really like you, but I don't think I can confront my true feelings for you without some major pressure." He looks shaken.
Niko sighs in frustration.
"Okay. Then I'll just sit here and do some brooding over what those feelings are until the plot hits."
"Sounds like a plan. Just let me get some coffee and then I'll join you."