Highlanders - Chapter 06
"...When I touched the psychocrystals, those three souls telepathically called out to me. They knew what had happened, knew they could never return to their own bodies. Filled with pain and rage, their only desire was to avenge themselves. But to do that, they needed someone who could channel and focus the psychic power trapped within the crystals, make it her own for a time. In essence, she would act as the 'glue' to let them combine their strength; as their energy merged with hers, so too would theirs mix with each other until they could function independently. Because of my Gifts, they asked for my help. I agreed if they only destroyed the assassin and left the 'mini-Psychocrypt' intact for study so that no one would ever die like that again. They kept their word."
"As did you. Are there any lasting effects?" Connor asked, concern shading his calm tone as he sat on the couch beside her.
"My abilities are a bit stronger for the moment, like my implant's been supercharged with energy -- I sensed you and Duncan coming here five minutes before you guys knocked on the door. I can feel the excess power fading away, though; my guess is that I'll be back to normal in a few days."
"I feel guilty leaving you like this," Duncan admitted, crossing his arms while leaning in the corner nearest to her.
"Don't," Niko shook her head firmly. "I'm a Galaxy Ranger; it's my job to do strange things on a daily basis."
Connor softly laughed in response. His squeezed her hand as she sat in a recliner, clothed in a green summer dress.
She still looked tired, but a hint of mischief lurked in her eyes. After the various questions had been answered, Dr. Shinjen had ordered a week's bedrest for Niko, given the fact that the young woman was completely drained. For once, she was happy to follow doctor's orders, snoozing the hours away in her station quarters. While Zach and Doc took care of the clean up and reported to Walsh, Goose stayed with Niko to make sure no one disturbed her. She woke up at 1930 hours to eat dinner with him; the door chime rang right after they finished. Connor and Duncan had come to say their good-byes because their ship was leaving soon. They had checked in several times while packing, but she was always deep in dreamland. It was only at her insistence that Goose allowed Duncan in at all; the Ranger stood some distance away, gazing out the living room windows.
"What happens now?" Connor wanted to know.
"The usual hearings, reports, cross examinations," Niko shrugged, "but I seriously doubt you gents will be called in, on account of the fact that you've been inconvenienced enough."
"That's a relief," Duncan smiled. "Thanks for letting us keep our swords."
"It was our pleasure." Her eyes focused intently on the pair. "Will you two be all right?"
"I think so. Strong Quickenings always pack a punch, but you get used to them after a few centuries," Connor winked.
"But HOW did you survive them in the first place?" Goose demanded, looking over at him.
"Oh... it's a kind of magic," the elder Highlander mysteriously replied.
"Where's that Psychocrypt now?" Duncan asked.
"Q-Ball's tinkering with it and the scimitar," Goose replied as he walked up. "Between him and Doc tearing them apart, they'll find a way to make sure the Queen can't use 'em again."
"I hope so," Niko whispered. "I sure hope so."
The blond Ranger was immediately at her side, kneeling down to rest his hand on her cheek. "You should get some more sleep," he gently chided.
"Like THAT ever stopped you before!" she teased back. "I'll see my friends off, then hibernate for the next six days. Satisfied?"
"Well... I guess that'll have to do," he chuckled.
Niko grabbed the large pillow behind her back, smacking him in the face with it before he could react. Laughing, they got up and walked the MacLeods to the door.
"See you in a few months, Niko," Connor smiled as he kissed her hand.
"I look forward to your next series of classes, Professor MacLeod," she grinned back, hugging him.
He shook Goose's hand firmly. "My respects to you and the team, Ranger Gooseman. Thank you all for saving our necks."
"No problem," he smiled back. "Don't get into too much trouble; Doc owes you a rematch after you guys fought to a tie today!"
"We'll try," Connor snickered. Saluting the Rangers, he turned around and left.
"I have to go," Duncan said sadly, his eyes boring into Niko's. Before she could ask what was wrong, he hugged her tightly. Loneliness and isolation rolled off him in waves, overwhelming her senses. "Be safe, Niko-san. Have a good life."
"Will I ever see you again?" she asked with a catch in her voice.
"To echo your own words, I hope so. Watch over him, hear?" he replied, gesturing at Goose.
"I will," she promised.
Duncan held out his hand to Goose. "My thanks to everyone as well. Just promise me one thing."
"What's that?" he asked warily.
"Take good care of her."
Goose looked at him in surprise, then shifted his glance to Niko. Without a word, he held out his arm to her, She slipped hers through his, her emerald eyes strong. He then shook Duncan's hand, giving it a good grip.
The Immortal smiled, then departed quietly. His footsteps echoed down the halls as the last of the Conference-goers got ready to head for Granna.
"Will he be all right?" Goose asked Niko.
Her eyes brimmed with tears. "Yes. He's just so alone."
His eyebrows shot clear up to his hairline. "Alone?! Then you two never...?"
"No," she replied. "We weren't right for each other." She sniffled for a bit before going on. "Can you imagine it, Shane -- outliving your loved ones for centuries on end?"
"I'd rather not. My life's complicated enough." He brought his hand up to catch the tears flowing down her face. "Hey, don't worry. They're both survivors; they'll be back."
"I know," she smiled. "Can we see the last ships take off? I promise to go straight to bed after that!"
"The things I let you get away with," he laughed.
They settled on the couch overlooking the West Docking Bay, watching the vessels depart. Somewhere along the line, Niko used Goose's left shoulder as a pillow. Sometime after that, he eased his arm around her... to keep her warm, he told himself, although he couldn't deny that it raised his body temperature as well. He patiently waited for the deep, even breathing to indicate she was asleep before carrying her to bed.
Tucking her in, he paused while brushing a stray strand of hair from her cheek. He protected her with his life and would gladly give it up to save hers. Goose already knew that he would die for Niko, but now he faced a greater challenge: living for her.
He smiled as he settled into the chair beside her bed, ready to begin the vigil again.