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The Dr. Tam Journals - Part 6 - Our Mrs. Reynolds (Repost)
Thursday, November 8, 2007

Kaylee ponders leaving Serenity as she reads the story of the Capt'n and his bride.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1302    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

The Dr. Tam Journals – Part 6 – Our Mrs. Reynolds

“Simon, I wanted to ask you something and if you don’t want to answer you don’t have to,” Kaylee asked as they got ready for bed. She sat on the edge of the bed in just her nightdress as he put away his toothbrush and hung a towel to dry. He looked at her and then sat next to her.

“Does it have to do with what happened on Jiangyin?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Okay, but I thought you knew everything now.”

“Well, actually there are two things.”

“Two?”

“Uh-huh.,” she replied in barely a whisper and then looked at him in a very serious way. “First, why did you join River at that stake? They didn’t want to kill you, did they?”

He looked at her for a long pause and then slowly began to speak. “Kaylee, at that moment in my life, I was at the end of my despair. I had thought we had been abandoned by the only people who ever tried to help us.”

“Meaning us, Serenity.”

“Yes. And I couldn’t reason with those people. They were determined to kill River. And I couldn’t stand by while they did that. I was so powerless, so helpless. To die with River seemed an easy way out. No more running. No more hiding from the Alliance. We’d just…be gone.”

Kaylee looked at him in shocked silence, not knowing how just how desperate he had been. “But that was…suicide!”

“Yes. I’ve thought on it often and when it comes right down to it was suicide. I was willing to kill myself to rid myself of my burdens. And to be with River. Now do you understand? I love River. I would die for her.”

A tear fell from Kaylee’s eye and Simon’s eyes were shining with his emotions. She kissed him and hugged him tight. “And I’d do the same for you Kaylee.” And as he said that she squeezed harder and held on trying to stop her tears from coming but then not caring and letting them come the same.

After a long while, he looked at her and asked, “You said you wanted to ask two things.”

“Oh, yes, oh, I’m sorry. Just so...OK, I’m OK.” He stood and got her a handkerchief and waited while she collected herself and wiped her eyes.

“It’s OK to cry.”

“Didn’t realize how bad it was for you. Both of you.”

“It’s much better now,” and he smiled and she couldn’t help but feel good inside.

“The other question. It has to do with River’s…mind reading skills.”

“Ah, I was wondering when you were going to mention that. Yes, I suspected long ago that she could read minds,” Simon said.

“Because of Badger that time and because of that girl…”

“Ruby was her name. She was mute. She never spoke in two years. Somehow River knew what had happened to her.”

Kaylee took all this in and stared at him. “Did she read…our minds?”

“Not sure. She never said anything to indicate that. But how did she get Jayne’s gun out of the locker that time if it was locked with a combination lock?

“That’s right!”

“And she always knew when the Reavers were coming. She could feel them.”

“Did you ever ask her about it?”

“Yes. Said she doesn’t know how or when it started. But she can do it, yet not control it. And sometimes, she can’t escape others’ thoughts, they fill her mind and drive her…crazy is the only proper word. The drugs help suppress it, but not entirely, not the strongest emotions…fear, love, hate. The Reavers…were full of hate and anger and rage. That’s why she knew when they were coming. I need to find a quiet place for her. Somewhere safe. If such a place exists.”

“Is that why you want to leave Serenity?”

“That and many other reasons. To protect you for one.”

“Protect me?” she said in surprise.

“Kaylee, Serenity engages in activities that aren’t exactly legal. And the Alliance knows its name and its crew. We don’t know if they are still looking for us. We need to be safe. And I want to…start a family…grow old with you.”

His confession of his desires warmed her heart and she hugged him tight. “A family? You mean to say…babies?”

“Yes, I mean to say.”

And then they kissed long and passionately and lay down and were consumed by their desires.

Long after, Kaylee lay awake and could hear Simon’s soft snore as she lay next to him in bed. She couldn’t sleep and her mind returned to his words just before they had gone to bed: it was time to leave Serenity, time to start a family, time to find a safe place for River and them. Kaylee understood why he wanted to do so, but it didn’t make the decision to leave any easier. She had roots here and a love for those on this old Firefly. This day had been a rollercoaster of emotions for Kaylee, first waking up from the nightmare of Simon asking for a divorce, his confession of his parents marital problems, then asking her to read the journal, the waves of guilt that had washed over her as she told one small lie after another, their wonderful love making in the afternoon, the flood of emotions that caused her to finally confess and then his forgiveness of her, and finally his bringing up again of his desires to leave Serenity and start a family. She needed to sleep but couldn’t, her mind racing from point to point, with the idea of leaving Serenity overshadowing all else.

She had come to the ship four years ago, when she was only 17, River’s age when they had first met over a year ago. Now she was 21 and married. Serenity had been the only family she had known outside her own. Her father had let her go that faithful day when she had first met Malcolm Reynolds after he had caught her in a tryst with his mechanic Bester. That Bester had been fired and she hired all in the space of a few minutes told Kaylee much about the character of the “Capt’n”, as she always called him. He needed people he could depend on because traveling in space was a dangerous business and the kind of business he engaged in made it more so.

Course, he never mentioned that kind of business to Kaylee’s father and Kaylee never told her parents what exactly they hauled through the ‘verse or any of the scrapes they got in. She had told her father about getting shot, and he told her to thank Simon for saving her and in the next breath he swore he’d killed Malcolm Reynolds next time he saw him. Kaylee finally calmed him down and he vented his anger in a sharp wave message to the Capt’n. The Capt’n took it well, and her father had never blamed him directly, just needed to say something to someone and the Capt’n was it. Kaylee was all he had in the ‘verse.

When her mother died of diabetes complications about two years after Kaylee had joined the crew it had rent a hole in Kaylee’s heart. She knew the doctor’s had done all they could and her poor father had cared for her alone most of the last few months. Kaylee hurried back as fast as she could when her mother started to turn for the worse, leaving Serenity and spending all her savings on a faster transport to Taos. She managed to spend a few weeks with her mother before she had passed. Doris Frye asked her constant questions about what she did and about any men in her life. Her mother wanted her to leave the ship and get married. She promised her mother she would meet a nice fellow and settle down and give her some grand kids. She did meet a nice fellow, later, but Doris would never get a chance to meet Simon or any grand kids they would have in the future.

Her heart had been torn between her father and Serenity in the weeks that followed. She would stay with him as long as he needed her. He seemed in a daze, losing the woman he loved after 22 years of marriage. But gradually he became his old self, and when he got drunk one night and caused a fight in the local bar, Kaylee knew he was going to be fine. Jonathan Frye had caught her looking at the stars while she sat on the swinging seat on their veranda one night and told her it was time to leave. She protested but he knew her heart lay in the black on that old Firefly with that band of rogues.

Another year passed, full of more adventures and scrapes and then one day she sat outside Serenity at the Eavesdown Docks on Persephone and she met three men in the space of thirty minutes who would affect her life profoundly: a Shepherd, a Lawman, and a Doctor. The Shepherd became her friend and when he died her soul grieved almost as badly as when her mother had died. The Lawman shot her and she came closer to death than at any time in her life. And the Doctor saved her life from the lawman’s bullet and she fell in love with him.

Serenity was home for Kaylee. All its creaks and groans, its quirks and hiccups she knew and loved. Every bolt and wire, steel plate and silicon chip, was as much a part of her as the ship. Again she looked at Simon and knew it wasn’t the same for him. Home was a house in the luxurious estate lands surrounding Osiris’ Capital City, or a high rise apartment in a crystal building downtown. Home was a major trauma center in a state-of-the-art hospital with everything he needed at his fingertips. Home was a steady job, with no danger, and embarrassingly large stacks of money, as he had once said to her. Kaylee knew all that was there, waiting for them the day the Alliance pardon Simon and River, the luxury she had never ever dreamed of could be hers, a life of wonder and joy with a handsome doctor on her arm.

Yet, that was a home Simon and Kaylee and River could no longer be part of. Not yet anyway. And she knew he knew that. The last part of his journal she had read let her understand that he had been seeking somewhere, for him and River, somewhere safe. Jiangyin it turned out was not that place.

Kaylee couldn’t sleep and so decided she would read some more while she had a chance. She slowly got out of bed, making sure she didn’t disturb Simon. She stood naked on the floor and felt a chill through her soles so slipped on a pair of slippers. She stretched and felt so alive, exulting in the feelings of passion that had tore through her body a scant time ago. She slipped on Simon’s thick blue robe, felt its warmth, and then sat on the chair, picked up the journal and began to read where she had left off.

“I think I’ve been robbed.”

What? Robbed?

“I returned to my room after looking in on Book again and all my things were scattered on my bed and on the floor. I made a quick examination but I’m not quite sure if anything is missing or not. Why someone would do this I don’t know but I can guess who it was. Thinking I wasn’t coming back, he decided my things were for the taking. I thought on saying something to Reynolds but think now it’s not worth the trouble.”

He? It could only be…Jayne! No, he wouldn’t have….but then again, Jayne Cobb was a crook. Hell, they all were, but Kaylee never saw herself as a criminal, she just ran the engines on a ship…full of criminals. But Jayne was a hard-core criminal of that there was no doubt. Was he low enough to rob Simon while he was gone? Perhaps.

“Thankfully there have been no more questions about River’s ability to read minds or why they thought she was a witch. On a brighter note, Kaylee doesn’t seem to be mad at me for what happened in the store on Jiangyin. I guess she doesn’t stay mad long at anyone.”

True enough. Kaylee just never felt it wasn’t necessary to be angry at anyone for long. Just ate you up inside. Even that lawman, Dobson, who had shot her, she was never mad at him. It was an accident and he had even said so, before the Capt’n killed him. Well, he didn’t exactly kill him. Wasn’t till many months later they found that Dobson had survived somehow. Next time Capt’n made sure he was really dead.

Kaylee skipped ahead through the next few days as not much of interest had happened. He tried to get River to talk about what happened on Jiangyin but she refused, saying she couldn’t remember much. Kaylee looked for mentions of her name and then found a whole section, when they landed on Triumph.

“Reynolds and Zoe have an undying hatred of the Alliance, which is understandable considering their history. This is good for River and I since they stay clear of the Core and dealings with Alliance customers. However, the last two days Reynolds has shown his noble streak again and this time it almost cost us our lives. The entire crew, not just River and me.”

“An old customer on Triumph had waved him, asking for some help concerning some local criminals who were intercepting their trade between their small farming community and the local urban center. That’s as much information as I was privy to as again I was not part of the planning. Later, I learned they had ambushed some people who tried to ambush them and five men were killed by Zoe, Jayne, and Reynolds. Later, Book related how he had said words over their bodies. He was troubled by this and I could tell that he is torn between staying on Serenity and leaving. He knows what they did was for the good of the people of the township but at the same time the necessity of killing goes against all he believes in.”

She had also worried about Book in those days and wondered why he continued to stay on Serenity. Kaylee loved having him on board and took comfort from his presence. He was almost like a father figure and his advice more than once saved their lives. The Capt’n’s feelings on religion aside, she was sure he was happy Book was on board, too. When he had finally left it was like a part of the ship was missing. And then he died. Because of them. Sometimes she thought because of her. Kaylee shook her head to escape the thought, the thought that came when she thought on Book, that her few little words to him all those months ago, “You’re gonna come with us!” had cost the man his life. If she hadn’t spoken just then maybe he would have walked on by.

Kaylee closed the notebook and sat staring at the wall for a long time. She knew it was silly and she didn’t kill Book by asking him to be a passenger anymore than her killing a spider in her bedroom as a child caused it to rain later that day. Book had chosen to join Serenity, had chosen to stay, and had chosen to give them shelter on Haven. His goodness is what killed him in the end, and there was something not right with that. When the Capt’n had killed that survivor of the Alliance ship on Haven Kaylee had been as shocked as the others, but later thought the Capt’n had done the right thing.

She opened the notebook again and found her name. “In honor of the great ‘victory’ of one band of criminals over another…”

God, he was so sarcastic at times!

“…the people of the township threw a party. River and I were not invited. Reynolds said we should stay on board since we didn’t know if anyone would recognize us. Kaylee also stayed to watch the ship and the three of us decided to play cards. During the game Kaylee told us about how each person joined the ship. She also related how Reynolds did not like romances on his ship and how Zoe and Wash had to keep it secret for some time. Kaylee and I had looked at each other across the table and I felt like something passed between us, an attraction that was mutual.”

She had nearly died from blushing so much! After she had said Zoe told the Capt’n her relationship with Wash was none of his business Simon had agreed and then had gazed at her for a long time. She melted under his blue eyes and they both had colored before remembering River was sitting there and they were playing cards. Kaylee couldn’t keep her mind on the game and later had had feverish dreams of carnal pleasure with Simon for most of the night.

“But again my feelings for Kaylee are confused. I like her, she’s very beautiful, we get along fine, but to take that next step seems like a leap not a step. It’s been more than two months since we came on board and I see her every day and every day I desire her more and want to see whether we could have a relationship. But I don’t know how long I’ll be here and I cannot burden her with my troubles. And she would never leave Serenity.”

And there it was again. Leaving Serenity. He desired her all that time and Kaylee’s mind screamed in frustration at all the missed chances. In other ways she was glad, because what if all they had at first was the sex, and the relationship never came. Now she had both and that made the wait worth it.

“While we played cards the rest of the crew went to the party and that’s where the trouble started. Reynolds was duped into marrying a young lady called Saffron. She is a professional con artist and Inara even believes she has had Companion training. She claimed to be a maiden of the township seeking a husband and the elders had traded her to the captain in lieu of payment for the job he had just done. He was very drunk and performed the Triumph settlers’ marriage ceremony with her, not knowing he was now married. But it was all lies, except for the marriage bit. I don’t believe she was ever part of the Triumph township and I’m sure the elders had not offered her in payment. The captain’s utter surprise at finding out he had a wife makes this all the more likely. After we were introduced to her in the cargo bay, Book researched the Triumph wedding ceremony in my encyclopedia. From the description Reynolds gave of what had happened, he had indeed married her and according to Book, it is binding.”

The discovery of Saffron in the cargo bay and her being introduce as the Capt’n’s wife had shocked all of them. Kaylee had thought it was wonderful at first and the others had some good laughs. Then she recalled the look on Inara’s face and knew it wasn’t all fun for everyone.

“Later that night Saffron seduced Reynolds in his quarters and knocked him out with a kiss. It was a narcotic which is placed on a seal over the lips and is commonly known as the Goodnight Kiss. I treated many such cases as an intern. She had also knocked out Wash with a kicked to the head and disabled our navigation and propulsion controls.”

And what a masterful job she had done too, remembered Kaylee. That little tramp knew her Firefly’s that’s for sure! Took her and Wash an hour just to get the Cortex and nav views on line.

“Inara claimed to have fallen and hit her head when she found Reynolds unconscious but I could see no wound or contusion on her head and she refused to let me examine her. She was very groggy and couldn’t stand for a while. The fact that she later said that Saffron had tried to seduce her makes me believe that she and Saffron had indeed kissed and Inara was embarrassed to tell us. She could have also gotten a secondary transfer from Reynolds if she had kissed him.”

Ah ha! Inara had kissed Saffron! Or the Capt’n? Kaylee suddenly got a funny feeling in her body as she thought on Inara and Saffron kissing. She felt no disgust as she thought she would, but curiosity and a strange desire. Kaylee knew Inara took female clients and remembered that last time she had that feeling was when the beautiful blond councilor had come aboard and had been Inara’s customer. They had looked so beautiful together. Sleeping with a woman was not something Kaylee could ever see herself doing and she was man crazy, especially for her husband. But still, she could not deny the feeling she had when she thought on it.

Now Inara kissing the Capt’n she could believe. The whole crew knew Inara was crazy for the Capt’n and he for her. Now if they’d just admit that to each other! She was still here, four months after the double tragedy of Miranda and Mr. Universe’s complex. But she was changed. She only rarely took clients and tried to do so when the Capt’n was busy with something else. She talked about returning to the training house and the Guild had begged her to come back. First she stayed to help with the healing, of Serenity and its crew. She and River were the only ones without physical injuries. Then she stayed for her and Simon’s wedding. And then she stayed for….the Capt’n, of that she was sure. Kaylee cast these thoughts aside and returned to the journal.

“As Kaylee and Wash raced to repair the ship we suddenly realized we were being sent to a scrapper. As Book explained and as my encyclopedia showed, it is a small space station whose purpose is to take apart and repair ships. Saffron it appears was in cahoots with these criminals and set our course directly for their electric magnetic grid. As Book explained it would hold us and at the same time send electricity through the ship. If that didn’t disable or kill us, then they would gas us or suck out all the oxygen.”

Kaylee got chills as she read that and remember being almost frustrated to tears as she had tried to undo Saffron’s sabotage. It was her job to get them out of situations like that and she failed. The Capt’n made her feel better after they got to of the scrape but she still felt guilty for many days after.

“Fortunately Reynolds skills at planning on short notice for once bore fruit and he and Jayne donned space suits, sat in our front air lock, and Jayne managed to disable the electric net by gunfire. He later said he took out their porthole window for good measure and saw at least two bodies sucked out into space. His leer when he told us this left no doubt he enjoyed it. I for one cared not for those two and deep down felt glad that those who tried to kill us had got their just desserts. Perhaps I am growing as callous as some of the others. Although I didn’t say so, at a time like that it was good to be in the company of Reynolds and Jayne.”

She could definitely sense that the cloak of civilization Simon had thrown over himself was coming off. He would have been horrified at the thought of killing when he first came on board but the many deaths they had caused or witnessed and near deaths they themselves experienced seem to be hardening him to it. Kaylee didn’t want to see anyone hurt or dead but times she also felt like that. Some people just deserved to die, as Jayne had once said to her.

“Saffron had escaped in one of our shuttle craft after she disabled the ship. It was a short range craft and Reynolds had long ago conveniently put locator beacons on both shuttles in case one went missing. There were only two moons within shuttle range and within a day we had found Saffron and retrieved our shuttle. I think he left her alive but I’m not sure on this detail as yet.”

She was alive alright and they had another adventure with her later, one just as interesting.

“And so ends another experience of life and death on Serenity. But now I am beginning to understand how everyone has their role to play and realize that Malcolm Reynolds has assembled himself the most remarkable crew. Wash and Kaylee are like extensions of the ship and know its inner workings most intimately.”

That made her smile and she knew he was right.

“Jayne is the muscle of the crew and his skills are needed in this rough and tumble ‘verse. Zoe is the loyal one, who back Reynolds no matter what and always has his back. She is also muscle, but in a more subtle and understated manner than Jayne. Reynolds himself is the brains. Not always perfect, but he’s the planner and his skill is not so much in the initial plans but in the ability to adapt when things go wrong, as they often do. Without these five people I believe my sister and I would be dead by now.”

Kaylee closed the book and didn’t want to read anymore for now. What he said was so true and she felt it more keenly now that he wanted to leave. With these people…and now one of them is gone, Wash. She closed her eyes for a long time and remembered him, his jokes, and his smile, and she wished she had a big clock and could turn back time.

Kaylee opened her eyes and felt the need for some tea and tiptoed out of the room. She made her way to the kitchen and was surprised to see the Capt’n there, sitting in a chair, staring off at nothing. She hitched Simon’s robe tighter round her nakedness, not cause she worried Capt’n would look, cause he wouldn’t, but just…well, just because she was a woman and didn’t want no man who wasn’t her man to see her naked!

“Hey, Capt’n.” she said and smiled. “Up late?”

“Yeah. You, too?”

“Wanted some tea. Join me?”

“Sure. Why not? Sleep sure ain’t coming. Was gonna have coffee so water’s hot.”

She began to make the tea. “Something on your mind?”

He looked at her for long time as she put tea in two cups and added hot water from the kettle. “Guess I can tell you. But just ‘tween the two of us.”

She nodded. ‘Course. Not even Simon.” She came over with two cups, steaming and gave one to Mal, he said thanks and she sat.

He took a deep breath. “Inara’s leaving again.”

Kaylee was surprised but not shocked. “Oh, no. When?”

“When we get to Persephone. Then she’ll take a transport to the training house.”

“Oh,” was all Kaylee could say. She sipped her tea.

“Offered to take her the whole way but she said…wanted to make this as painless as possible.”

Kaylee looked at him, waited for him to explain but she knew he never would. “Capt’n. you gotta say something to her. Make her say.”

“She made up her mind. What could I say?”

Kaylee let out a sigh of deep frustration. “Tell her how you feel.”

“How I feel? About what?”

“Oh, was Simon as stupid as this? You love her!... Don’t you?”

Mal looked in his cup and then after a long pause. “Yeah.” It came out as if he was confessing his deepest darkest secret. “Don’t know why I’m telling you this.”

“Cause you need to tell someone and I’m closest you got to family here, big brother.”

And he smiled at her. “Guess so, mei mei.”

Kaylee blushed a little. “So now what?”

“I still got three more days. I can’t just go and say it,” he replied and again Kaylee rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Well, don’t let three days turn into never.”

“Just too complicated. She’s a Companion and I’m…”

“Now you’re looking for excuses not to say it. God, you and Simon are so alike!”

“What? Me and the Doc? How?”

“Oh, he was crazy about me from almost the beginning but never said or did anything, worried he’d ruin my life or that I wouldn’t want to…leave Serenity.” The last she said quietly and he looked at her, his face worried.

“So he’s talked on that has he?”

“A few times. Ain’t gonna lie to you Capt’n. It’s coming soon.”

“I figured as much.”

“Wants to have a safe place for River…and me. Start a family.”

His eyes went wide. “You’re not..”

“No!,” she said quickly. “Not yet.”

“And what do you want, little Kaylee?”

“The Alliance to leave us alone, River to get better, to have a bunch of kids and grow old with my man.”

“Well, that’s something to aim for. Gonna miss you.”

“I ain’t leaving tomorrow.”

“So should I look for a new mechanic when I land on Persephone?”

“Let me talk to Simon again first.”

“Ok.”

She stood, picked up her cup, and said, “Night Capt’n” as she walked to him and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Mal smiled and said good night as Kaylee left the dining area.

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