"Thanks for your help." Maya stared at Shane with great emotion, dark eyes moist and shining. Niko thought if Maya tried to get any closer to Gooseman, she'd have to be wearing him. Okay, so they had saved her planet from being torn apart by a centuries old war. Big deal. She didn't have to be so.... grateful.
"Don't fall out of any balloons, guys." They waved at the Tarkonian rebels, who grinned and waved back, and Maya gave Goose a hug. A very grateful hug.
"Niko," The stunning blonde offered her hand to the S5. "I am in your debt."
She shook the proffered hand quickly, and stepped back, wary. "Don't sweat it," she replied with forced cheerfulness.
"And you, Goose," Maya purred.
"Huh?" Shane, who had been watching the amusing parade of emotions across his fellow ranger's face, now focused on the buxom princess of Tarkon.
"Until we meet again," she reached out to hug him once more, and probably more than that Niko mused darkly, but he caught her hands and squeezed them, smiling. Niko wanted to scream, but instead waved and boarded the interceptor behind Goose.
Maya watched it take off, following it with her eyes until it disappeared into the azure sky, sighing softly.
* * *
"Could you like a girl like Maya?" Niko said, trying to keep her voice light, inquiring, as if curiosity was her only motive.
"I'm too busy saving the universe. Besides, I like brunettes." She blushed, and he smiled, feeling just a little bit cocky. "Why do you ask?"
"Nothing." Niko shook her head, concentrating on her screen as they made the jump into hyperspace. An uncomfortable silence stretched out between them, then she suddenly frowned. "It's just...." she began, then fell silent again.
"What did you mean by 'a girl like Maya,' exactly?" he asked, his tone light, as if he was just curious. But his green eyes were dancing merrily.
"She's so pushy!" Niko burst out, and Goose laughed. "I mean..... when she wants something she just, goes after it."
"That can be a good trait."
"She was throwing herself.... nothing." She cut herself off, blushing again, forcing her eyes to stay on her screen.
"Ah," he said, sounding very smug.
"What?" She regarded him curiously.
"You're jealous," he observed, sagely.
"I am not jealous!" she replied a little too vehemently, stubbornly refusing to look at him.
"My mistake." He tried to keep a chuckle out of his voice, and then she did turn on him, blue eyes blazing.
"You... you are incorrigible." She was completely exasperated.
"I kinda like the sound of that. 'Incorrigible'." He leaned back in the seat, grinning.
"Shane Gooseman...." she wagged a finger at him, eyes dancing, and he caught her hand. Her eyes went wide, and she blushed. He squeezed her hand gently, smiling, then released her fingers, and she plotted their course, a slight smile still playing about her lips.
"Maybe..... maybe just a little." Niko admitted, trying to hang onto the shreds of her pride. She stole a glance, and then sighed. "Forget what I said, you're not incorrigible, you're insufferable!"
"You look ridiculously pleased with yourself."
"You have nothing to be jealous of, Maya and I are just friends."
"Hah! Tell her that," she exclaimed before she could stop herself. She froze, and covered her mouth with her hands. "I can't believe I just said that," she said through her fingers, horrified.
"Well, you did."
"Yes, I sure did." She sighed, and took a deep breath. "But it is true, you can't deny that she is very... very... attracted to you. And you do absolutely nothing to discourage her." The stars streaked past them red and gold in hyperspace, and they were pretty much on auto pilot until they reached the Sol sector, so Niko figured it was probably time for them to have some sort of discussion.
Mainly because they were halfway into one already, thanks to her big mouth, and she wasn't exactly sorry she had started it.
Maybe they would finally decide something here.
Or maybe he would just continue to stare at her with one of those damnable halfsmiles on his face, green eyes unreadable.
"I hate it when you look at me like that," she muttered, suddenly very annoyed.
"Now why would I want to discourage a lovely little thing like that?"
"Shane Gooseman, you just said--"
"--that I liked brunettes." He reached over and caught a lock of her hair, wrapping it around a gloved finger. Her lips parted in surprise, and colour rushed into her cheeks. She suddenly wished they were in Ranger I instead of the tiny two-seater. She just wasn't sure quite why...
"Just what are you thinking...?" she wondered aloud, and his halfsmile became a full-fledged grin.
"That maybe Maya has something to be jealous of." Then he leaned over and kissed her full on the mouth.
It was a surprise.
A pleasant surprise, albeit... warm, and wet, and full of all sorts of promises.
And very quick.
Then it was Niko who leaned back, looking very pleased with herself. "She just might."