Family First
Friday, December 1, 2006

Here's a Christmas story about the crew. It's set after the movie, so there are spoilers!


Mal was standing on the ramp of the cargo bay when Inara found him. He was wearing his long brown coat, his heavy leather gloves, thick wool pants, winter boots, and, she noted with a smile, the red and green scarf Kaylee had knitted for him. She pulled her heavy woolen shawl tighter around her shoulders as she approached. He turned slightly to give her a smile as she joined him. “It was uncharacteristically sweet of you to bring the crew here for the holidays.” He grinned, looking straight ahead. “Haven’t you heard? That’s my new thing: sweetness.” Outside, the rest of the crew was enjoying the snow, running around and making a general ruckus. Mal was just watching them with his arms crossed, the slight hint of his grin still resting on his face. Inara shivered slightly and inched closer to him for warmth. “I always forget how cold it can get on this side of Persephone in the winter.” Mal blew out a warm puff of breath, making a little cloud in front of his face. “Least we ain’t on St. Albans. Now that’s some serious cold.” He glanced at her as if trying to decide something, with that look on his face that’s not quite smiling, but very close. He put his arm around her and drew her closer, rubbing her shoulders to warm her. She smiled to herself and felt a warmth rush through her from the inside out. She decided not to comment on his gesture in the case that he lost his nerve and withdrew. “So what warranted this little excursion? You seem like the ‘bah humbug’ type to me. No offense meant, of course.” “Oh, none taken. It’s just that—well, you try sayin’ no to little Kaylee. She made that puppy face and I was helpless.” “Ah yes, the ‘puppy face.’ Kingdoms have fallen for that face.” She leaned back against his chest as she looked out at the rest of the crew. It went without saying that everyone needed this kind of break after what they all had been through this past year. She looked up at Mal. “Are you ready to join them, or are we just going to sit here watching all day?” He grinned out of the corner of his mouth. “Spose I like watchin’. Looks like a gorram picture postcard out there.” He was right. Simon, River, Kaylee and Zoe were engaged in an all-out snowball fight. For the first time in months, Zoe looked truly happy, laughing and grinning with the others. Jayne was intently working on an anatomically correct snow-woman. He had been banned from the snow-fight due to use of excessive violence (Simon’s lip was still bleeding a little). Inara looked back up at Mal again. “You’re nervous, aren’t you?” He looked down at her with a frown, started to deny it, but changed his mind and said, “Oh absolutely.” “The crew is going to get tired eventually and they’ll want to get on to our destination. We can’t stand in the cargo bay forever, you know.” “We can’t?” She smiled and rolled her eyes. “You know it’s going to fine, right?” He looked at her skeptically. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mal. They’re her parents. She wouldn’t be who she is today without them.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “They’re going to kill me.” Inara couldn’t help but laugh. “What?” “Hey!” he said indignantly. “It’s a real threat, you know?” “No, I don’t,” she said, still chuckling. “Explain it to me.” “Well, think about it. How do you think her Pa’s gonna feel ‘bout his little girl getting’ shot at ever’ other day, even close to dyin’ on more’n one occasion? What’s he gonna think ‘bout her ridin’ ‘round in a ship’s got parts fallen off? What if he knows ‘bout our thievin’? Or, what’s gonna happen when he meets Jayne? Think he’s gonna let her come with us after knowin’ all that?” She was quiet for a moment. “I sincerely doubt that Kaylee would share any of that with her parents.” He shrugged. “Don’t know that it matters. I’m sure there’s been plentya’ broadcasts and waves out about us. You’d think theyda’ seen ‘em.” “It’s possible that they haven’t.” “Yeah, but then there’s that whole Jayne issue.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Maybe we could just leave him here. Does seem to be enjoying himself.” Inara ignored his joke. “I think…” she looked again at Kaylee, running, laughing, playing, with not a care in the world. “I think they will see how much we love her. They’ll see how much we care for her, and how we’d do anything to protect her.” Mal nodded, but didn’t seem appeased. He just kept staring out at the others. Clearly the problem was hidden. Inara had to look at him for a moment before she realized what it was. “You’re scared that you won’t be able to stomach taking her again. You’re scared that your conscience won’t let you keep her away from her family.” The look he gave her confirmed it. “Think ‘bout how we live out there. Think ‘bout the danger we put her in every day. It ain’t right. It sure as hell ain’t protecting her.” Inara nodded slowly. She wasn’t sure how to respond. They had just lost Book and Wash. They wouldn’t survive losing Kaylee too. They were a family now, as strange and dysfunctional as that family might be. Mal cupped his hands around his mouth. “Alright you lot! Let’s bring it in… we’re losin’ daylight here. Gotta make good time.” He patted Inara on the shoulder before turning and heading back in to the ship, signaling the end of their conversation. ***** They arrived near Kaylee’s parents’ house later that evening. It was snowing softly outside. Mal was in his bunk shaving when they landed. He wanted to look his best for these people, as he wasn’t sure what kind of reception to expect. There was a soft tapping at the door just as he was close to finishing. “Come in,” he called. Seconds later, Kaylee came down the ladder. She was wearing a green dress and her best boots. He suspected that Inara had done her hair, as it was up in some fancy kind of bun he didn’t know the name of. “Hey Cap’n!” she said cheerily. “Well, don’t you look just fine?” He said with a smile. “Thanks,” she said with a grin. “Just wanted to ask you a little question…” He wiped his face clean and looked at her suspiciously. “Yeah?” “Just talked with my Ma, and she was sayin’ how the house is kinda too small for a proper dinner for all of us…” “Oh, that’s easy. We’ll just make Jayne stay on the ship,” he joked. She grinned, her dimples showing. “Aw, Cap, that ain’t so nice! My idea was to have the dinner here on Serenity. Give my folks a chance to see my real home.” He was a little surprised. “Your home?” “Sure! You know that sayin’. It’s where the heart is!” her face was beaming. He couldn’t help but smile back. “You wanna have your folks here?” “Yeah! I mean, River an’ I spent so much time decoratin’… it’d be nice for someone else to see it. Plus, we got so much room… figure my ma an’ pa’d be more comfortable eatin’ here steada in our little bitty kitchen. Only room enough for four in there.” He scratched his head nervously, then saw, to his horror, that she was pulling the puppy face again. “Gah! Oh, alright.” She clapped excitedly. “Shiny! I’m gonna go tell the others!” She stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek. “You ain’t gonna be disappointed, neither, Cap’n! My Pa’s bringin’ the biggest goose they got, and my ma is the best cook in the verse!” She started to head out of his bunk, but stopped and snapped. “Oh, I almost forgot,” she said. “’Nara said you wanted to talk to me ‘bout somethin’.” He closed his eyes. Damn Inara, always meddling. “Uh… yeah…” He sat down in a chair beside his bed and gestured for her to sit down on the bed. Her face turned slightly solemn and she obeyed. “Cap, if this is about the lights not workin’ in the pantry… that ain’t a big problem. We ain’t gonna have any big problems from it, I swear.” He put a hand on her knee to stop her. “No, Kaylee, it ain’t that.” He sighed. “It’s just, I been thinkin’…” She looked at him anxiously. “I, uh… I think you should stay here. With your folks,” he spat out bluntly. “I don’t think Serenity’s the best place for you.” She stood up, and Mal was shocked to see she was actually angry. He scanned his brain for any memories of her bein’ angry, and only the time back when River and Simon had been about to leave came to mind. “Ain’t the best place?” She bit her lip as she tried to contain herself. “How can you say that, Cap? How? Lord knows I love my folks and my little brother, but do you even know what life’s like here?” He shook his head, stunned at her outburst. “It ain’t half as good as it is here on Serenity. An’ that ain’t even part of it. My family depends on what little I send ‘em from what we do out here,” She sat back down, and reached out to take his hands in hers. “An’ don’t you think for a minute that I stay just cuz of the money.” “Kaylee…” he started. She shook her head and looked him straight in the eyes. “I stay because this is the first place I really felt like I belonged. I stay because y’all are family to me, jes’ as much as my pa, my ma or my brother. I stay because there’s love in this ship. I stay because I love you all with all my heart, and cuz this is my home. An’ I ain’t leavin.” He stared at her, and squeezed her hands. He nodded. There wasn’t any arguing with that. “Kaylee…” he put his arms around her and drew her into a hug. “Gorram it, Kaylee. What am I gonna do with you?” he chuckled as she held him tightly. “You’re gonna promise me you won’t try an’ break up this family ‘gain. Ain’t nobody forced to be here. You forget it, but I’m all grown up, an’ I made my choice to be here. Best choice I ever made, an’ I’ll never forget it.” They drew apart slowly, and she rubbed his shoulder. “I ‘spose I can agree to that,” he said with a smile. She nodded. “You better.” He stood up. “Well, we better get out there an’ get ready. Gotta make sure Jayne doesn’t drink up all of Zoe’s home made eggnog ‘fore your folks get here.” Kaylee grinned. “It’s gonna be a good Christmas, Cap.”


Friday, December 1, 2006 9:10 PM


Aww...this was beautiful, DreadPirate! Definitely loved Mal's worry about whether keeping Kaylee on was the best thing...and Kaylee's response! Whoo boy was that spot on;)


Saturday, December 2, 2006 1:05 AM


That's Kaylee, right on. Now, how are the Fryes going to like the Doctor?

I have this vison of Jayne smashed on eggnog. I wish I didn't. It involves hat and boots and little else...Actually,that's not so bad...

Saturday, December 2, 2006 8:30 AM


I could so see Mal worrying about losing Kaylee and loved how she put him right in the nicest possible way! Sometimes I get grumpy when Inara sticks her nose in but this time she deserves plaudits a-plenty! Now please tell me you intend to do a little sequel showing the Christmas dinner on Serenity? Go on, you KNOW you want to do it! And I can do 'puppy dog eyes' with the best of them. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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