BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

STARRBABY

Bits of Time
Monday, February 14, 2005

Okay, I don't know how everyone will react to this one. It's my 1st fanfic that I dug up out of the abyss of word. It started out just being little snippits, but somehow morphed into a J/K story. They kinda just took over.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2955    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

They stood facing each other in the dimmly lit engine room.

“I . . .uh ... .got you this.” Jayne shoved the package at Kaylee, not meeting her eyes.

Kaylee took the small box with a quizzical look. “I don’t understand . . .why?”

Because I want you to look at me the way you look at that prissy ass doctor! thought Jayne. However, the only thing that came out of his mouth was, “ ’Cause.”

Kayle opened the box and pulled out a small bottle that held about a cup of thick purple liquid. “What’s this?”

“It’s . . .uh . . .some stuff that you put in a bath to make it smell good . . .or something like that” Jayne was obviously getting nervous.

“Oh!” Kaylee beamed and unscrewed the cap. She inhaled at the bottle and grinned. “Lavender! How sweet!!! When did you get this?!”

“Last landing.” Jayne twisted his belt loop.

“It’s a shiny gift, Jayne!” Kaylee leapt to wrap her arms around his neck. She then backed away and looked at the vile again, “but . . .”

“But what?”

“Last time I checked Serenity ain’t got a bathtub.”

“Oh, . .um .. .well,” Jayne had begun to get that jittery look in his eye again. “Kinda thought maybe for the second part of the gift I could get you a room at the next stop with a tub.” He looked at Kaylee with a look that resembled a young boy asking his dad for money.

“Jayne!” said Kaylee, “Why are you givin’ me all these things?”

“You don’t understand what I’m sayin’ do you, lil’ Kaylee?” Jayne looked down trodden.

Kaylee raised an eyebrow.

Jayne scratched the back of his head. “ I want to .. .uh . .share the room with ya.”

“Oh.” Kaylee’s eyes widened. It was now her turn to look uncomfortable.

“oh.”

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River sat at the mess hall table thumbing through stacks of paper. One leg dangled listlessly while the other was bent with her foot resting on her chair. Her free arm wrapped around her bent leg and her chin rested on her knee. She hummed quietly in a minor key.

Simon had his back to her doing the night’s dishes, sleeves pushed up to his elbows. “You must remember to thank Inara for getting that for you off the cortex, mei-mei.” He didn’t look up form his task.

“Already did.” River didn’t look up from hers either.

They continued their own thought processes as Shepherd Book entered and sat down across from River. “What are you reading, child? May I look?”

River handed the bottom half of the stack of paper to Book. “Stories and rules,” she explained.

“What language is this?” asked Book looking confused.

“Latin,” Simon answered for River as usual. He still didn’t look up from the dishes . . . always the meticulous surgeon.

“It’s dead.” Said River. She didn’t look up from her reading material. “ I like to read dead things.”

Book looked alarmed.

“She means she likes to read things in ancient languages. She always did like linguistics.” Simon finally looked over his shoulder and smiled warmly at his little sister. The moment passed, and he was back to his dishes with a vengeance.

“Oh! It’s time for your medicine, River!” Simon wiped his wet soapy hands on a rag. “Shepherd, would you stay here for a bit while I . . .”

“Of course,” answered the older man.

Simon left the mess hall to fetch the dreaded needle. River closed her eyes tightly and tried to think of things that made her happy.

“Where was this Latin used, River?” Book interrupted her attempts at blocking the fear of the upcoming medication.

“Earth that was.” River responded monotonely.

“Really?” Book looked interested, but River knew he was just trying to distract her from her growing nervousness. He always seemed to try to calm her when she became afraid, but it never worked.

“Yes,” She replied not changing her bored tone. “It was used mostly by people who religized. The leaders would say things in Latin, and even though the followers had no idea what he was saying they’d say it back.”

“Is that so?” River could tell she was making Book uncomfortable, and she enjoyed it.

“Yes. Not many places in the Verse religize now.”

“As you probably know, River” Book raised an eyebrow, “I come from a moon that religizes.”

“Yes,” said River.” and you lead them. . .. but,” she donned a smug look, “you don’t know Latin.”

“No I don’t” said Book calmly. Simon should be back by now with River’s medication, he thought. He would need to keep this conversation going for a bit longer to keep River from thinking of the upcoming painful shot. “Why do you think most planets don’t religize now, River?”

“Because on Earth that was they though that He lived in the sky. . . .When they finally found out how to get to the sky, He wasn’t there.”

River took the stack of paper she had previously handed to Book and laid them beside the stack she was already holding. She shuffled the stacks together like a deck of cards and pushed them into a neat pile.

“You’re too wise for your own good, child.” Shepherd Book rose to leave as Simon entered the room with River’s medicine.

River smiled coyly at him. “You want to make people think He isn’t confined to the sky.”

“Who isn’t confined where?” Simon looked very confused.

“No one,” said River

-------------------------------------------------

Inara paced her shuttle. Her top lashes almost touching her bottom ones. She was so tired. Why hadn’t he asked her to stay? That was what she wanted to hear. No, don’t go. Stay here; I need you.

She needed to sleep. Lying down on her bed she reached over to the dark cherry nightstand and set her waking chime.

She slowed her breathing and tried to let her mind wander into dreams. Just as she was about to fall asleep she heard a knock on her shuttle door. Sitting up quickly she cleared her throat and called, “Enter!”

He strode in as if he belonged and stood towering over her as she sat on the edge of her bed. “I can’t believe you knocked,” she said rubbing her eyes. “What do you need, Mal?”

“Could you ever be a poor person?” He asked her as if he were scolding her.

“I don’t know,” she replied coyly. “Poor at what?”

“I mean poor like me.”

“Oh, . . . Do you mean a poor communicator, a poor loser, or a poor reader of women?”

The lines in Mal’s furrowed brow became deeper. “I even knocked.”

“I’m sorry,” Inara relented, “I’m acting in a very unbecoming manner.” She looked at her lap obviously in thought. After a moment she said, “Yes, I could be poor as long as I had good friends and family to love me.”

Mal fidgeted and picked some imaginary dirt out from under his fingernail. “So . . .maybe if you could stay here and be poor and not be a companion anymore . . ..”

Inara stood abruptly and clenched her fists. “You want me to change my entire being . . .everything I am . . .to stay here and be with you?”

Mal took a step forward and stared the small woman down. “Yes” He answered quietly.

Inara’s fists relaxed and she met Mal’s gaze, “Alright.” She smiled softly.

Mal’s brow smoothed and the corers of his mouth raised slightly. He placed his hands on Inara’s shoulders and leaned down to press his lips to hers.

* ding . . . .ding . . .ding *

Inara opened her dark eyes and reached for the waking chime to turn it off without lifting her head from her soft pillow. She turned her face downward into the green silk to stifle her sobs.

-------------------------------------------------

“How about Connor? I like Connor.” Wash lay on his side propping his head with his hand and playing with his wife’s dark hair with this free hand.

“Connor isn’t bad,” said Zoe. “It means ‘much wanted’, and he would be exactly that.”

Wash continued to twirl Zoe’s curls around his fingers. “I don’t see why we have conversations about names for a non-existent child.” He frowned.

“ I like names.” answered Zoe plainly. “It doesn’t hurt anything . . . I don’t complain when you play with models of non-existent creatures.”

“I don’t play.” pouted Wash “I collect.”

“Well I collect names.” Zoe turned her back to her husband in an attempt to go to sleep, but realized that her head wouldn’t turn.

“Ow!” yelped Wash, “Hold still . . .Your hair is tangled around my fingers.”

“Then pull your gorram fingers out of my hair, little man.”

“I can’t . . .Ow! Zoe, It’s cutting off circulation!!”

“Well you’re pulling my hair out by the roots!” Zoe clapped her hand to the top of her head in an attempt at keeping her hair from being pulled. “Get up, we need to find something to cut with.”

“Oh, bao bei, I don’t want to cut your pretty hair.”

“Who said anything about cutting my hair, Wash? . . . Luckily, losing circulation will make your fingers numb.”

“Hair it is.”

They stumbled out of their bed Wash’s hand still attached to the top of Zoe’s head.

“We can’t go out like this!!!” shrieked Wash.

“I can put a robe on, and you can put some pants on. That way our predicament won’t keep us from being decent.”

“Oh,” Wash looked around for clothing, “ I guess we should get dressed . . . I meant that the crew would laugh us into the next system if they saw us like this.”

“Don’t care.” mumbled Zoe as she tied her robe shut. “ I’m getting your fingers out of my hair if I have to shave my head.”

Zoe strode toward the room’s exit clasping Wash’s wrist over her head. “We’ll see if Simon has something in the infirmary,” she grumbled.

“Hrm” Wash looked pensive. “ Waddaya think of the name Simon?”

“I hate it.”

-------------------------------------------------

Their eyes were screwed tight shut and beads of sweat popped from their foreheads. Their arms were shaking, but neither of the girls would let go.

“Say uncle, lil’ genius!” Kaylee wheezed.

“Won’t!” snapped River.

The two girls were hanging from the catwalk in another of their competitions.

“You know I’m stronger’n you, and I won’t drop first.” Kaylee snarled thought clenched teeth.

“Beat you at jacks.” River’s usually pale face was bright red.

“That’s kids play . . . this is strength.”

“You think I can only win at children’s games. There are many different kinds of games.”

“Well, I’m gonna win this one.” Kaylee grunted and kicked as her hands started to slip.

“Everyone plays games on Serenity.” River knotted her eyebrows and clenched her jaw. “They pretend they don’t feel what they do, and play pretend that others don’t know.”

“You implying somethin’?”

“You don’t play games . . . everyone always knows what you’re thinking.”

“Wish I knew what everyone else was thinkin’.”

“No you don’t” River tightened her arm muscles and held her breath.

“You two get down from there right now!!!!” Mal stormed onto the catwalk and yelled down at the struggling girls.

The sudden outburst started Kaylee and River. With a yelp from River and a screech from Kaylee they slipped to the floor bellow in a pile of limbs.

Mal leaned over the rail and hollered down at them, “You two need to quit this competin’, dong ma? You’re libel to get one of you killed. If I catch you hanging from there again, I’ll . . . .” He struggled for an appropriate threat then threw his hands in the air. “Just stay down!” Mal stormed off mumbling something about girls and broken necks.

Kaylee dissolved into giggles, “Yes sir, Captain Tightpants!” she yelled after him.

“That was a game too.” said River matter-of-factly. “He won’t do anything to us. . . I’ll win tomorrow.”

-------------------------------------------------

Her coverall clad legs poked out from under the engine. How such dainty feet could wear those huge work boots, Simon would never know. He could tell she was enthralled by the familiar sounds of clangs and curses.

He walked into the engine room while clearing his throat . . . didn’t want to sneak up on her while she was in this position. She peeked thought the cogs and wires and saw him peering down at her. “Hey!” she beamed up at him.

“Working on the engine?” Simon was horrid at starting conversations.

“No.” Kaylee fought the grin that spread across her face unsuccessfully.

Simon rolled his eyes at his own stupidity.

“Hey,” Kaylee held her ratchet up for him to see. “Grab me a half inch outta my box, will ya?”

“Um . . . sure!” Simon trotted over to Kaylee’s box of random tools and looked into it. There was absolutely no order, and everything was thrown into it as if it were a child’s toy box. Simon pushed the contents around a bit making an ungodly racket. “Um .. what exactly does a . .um, half inch look like?”

It was now Kaylee’s turn to roll her eyes. “It looks like a little metal cylinder.”

“Right.” Simon shuffled the contents some more to no avail.

With a sigh, Kaylee pushed herself out from under the engine and stood bedside Simon looking into the box. She shot her greasy hand in and instantly pulled out her needed socket. She held it up to Simon in an open palm. Simon nodded silently.

As Kaylee fitted the socket onto her ratchet, Simon sniffed the air. He leaned in a bit closer to Kaylee. “Hm . . . you smell .. nice.”

Kaylee blushed a bit and looked down smiling. “Thanks.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever smelled that scent on you before.” Simon sniffed again leaning a bit closer to Kaylee.

Kaylee’s stomach flipped. He was definitely flirting with her. She grinned.

“It’s lavender,” a deep voice came from the doorway of the engine room.

Simon took a step back, straitened his stance, and turned to look at Jayne. “That’s what I figured,” he said smugly, “I’m surprised you’d know such a scent.”

Kayle slunk back under her engine.

Jayne’s eyes narrowed, “Lavender happens to be my favorite smell.”

-------------------------------------------------

There was a soft timid knock on Inara’s shuttle door. “Come in!” called Inara, expecting to see Kaylee coming in to complain about Simon.

“Oh!” she said with a start when she saw who her visitor really was. “I was not expecting to see you here! . . .not that you’re not more than welcome” she added hastily. “ You seem upset. Come sit.”

Zoe slowly lowered herself onto the dark red pillow Inara offered her. “I need your help, Inara.” She almost whispered. Her head was lowered and Inara could see that Zoe was a bit uncomfortable.

“Oh, what’s wrong, Zoe?” Worry flashed across Inara’s face. Could Zoe be having a problem with Wash? Had the captain said something to her to make her upset? Did she need money?

“I need you to . . .um . .show me how to do something.” Zoe looked sheepish, which was a very uncharacteristic expression for her.

Oh, Inara understood now. Zoe wanted to learn some tricks of the trade. Perhaps things had gotten dull for the ship’s only official couple. Inara leaned close to Zoe and placed her hand on her knee. “I’d be glad to teach you anything you need to know, my friend.” Inara said softly trying to put Zoe at ease.

“Great!” Zoe smiled and turned her head to the side. “Could you show me how to style my hair to cover up this bald spot until it grows back?”

Inara leapt back slightly as her eyes widened. “What in the world happened?” She reached with long fingers towards the small bare patch in Zoe’s dark mane.

“Well, Wash somehow got his fingers tangled in my hair . . .”

-------------------------------------------------

“ . . . and so when I got to the catwalk, those two gorram nitwits were hanging from it!” Mal had his feet propped on the mass hall table and was leaning back in his chair. “Won’t those two ever quit their competin’?”

“Not likely, Sir.” Zoe sat across from him with a paring knife slicing an apple.

“I used to think it was just game-like. Y’know, they’re about the same age, and they were killin’ time together. But now . . . .these games are never ending. Every day they’re trying to outdo each other in somethin’.”

“Does this surprise you, Sir?” Zoe raised an eyebrow.

“I still can’t tell if they’re bein’ malicious or just competitive.”

“They’re competing, Sir.” Zoe popped a bit of the apple into her mouth.

“Over what?” Mal lowered his legs and sat upright in his chair.

Zoe looked at him with a look implying that Mal knew exactly what Kaylee and River were competing for.

“What?!!” Mal said, “I really have no idea. Do enlighten me, great mind reader.”

Zoe went back to slowly carving on her apple. “I don’t think they even know what they’re competing for. Might be subconscious, and even if they did know they’d never say it out loud.”

“What?!!!” Mall looked as if he were about to burst.

“They’re competing for a certain someone’s undivided attention.”

“Oh there’s an idea I could have died without having in my brain.” Mal rubbed his temples.

“Different types of attention, Sir.”

“Yes, I know that, Zoe.” Mal sneered, “Thank you.”

Zoe shrugged, “Not enough of the poor guy to go around.”

“So, how does seeing who can dangle from the catwalk longest decide who gets his attention?” Mal looked a bit amused.

“Like I said, Sir, I don’t think they even know what they’re competing for.”

Mal looked at the table while Zoe sliced and ate her apple. There was a long comfortable silence between the two of them.

Mal slowly looked over at Zoe, “Bet I could hang longer’n you.”

“Not in a million years, Sir.”

Zoe slammed down her knife and apple as she and Mal sprinted towards the catwalk.

-------------------------------------------------

Jayne lay asleep in his bunk. He was suddenly awakened and tried to see in the pitch dark. He was unsuccessful. What had woken him? He stretched slightly and realized there was a slight pressure on his chest and stomach. He reached above his head and clicked on the light.

He looked up and came eye to eye with River sitting cross-legged right on top of him. Her elbows rested on her knees and her chin rested on her folded hands.

“Aaaaaaargh!” Jayne leapt put of bed dumping poor River into a pile on the floor. “What in shee-niou hell’r you doin’ here?!!!”

“Came to watch your dream.” River replied looking up at the towering man.

“How’d you get in here, you ruttin’ freak?”

“Door.”

“S’locked!!!”

River rolled her eyes and shook her head; “Locks are made by men.”

Jayne thrust a pointed finger towards his bunk exit, “OUT!!!” he bellowed.

“You were dreaming of her.” River pulled her knees up to her chest and smiled coyly.

Jane dropped his arm and looked at the diminutive girl in shock.

“You want her to spend time with Simon. You think he’ll choose me over her.”

“Where do you get this tzao gao, you . . . .you, mutant?” Jayne balled his fists at his sides.

River stood up and smoothed her skirt with her tiny hands. “You’re a strange man wanting someone you care about to be hurt by another.” She spun on her bare heel and pit-patted towards the exit ladder.

Jayne stood dumfounded and watched River climb up to the door.

Just as she reached the door, River called down to him, “He will not be forced to choose, . . . but if he were,” She paused and slowly blinked her eyes, “He would not choose me,” she whispered almost painfully.

River locked eyes with the stunned mercenary, “Jayne, don’t wait for him to force her to you.” With that bit of cryptic advice River slipped out of Jayne’s bunk.

Jaynes body relaxed and he unclenched his fists, “Yeah, you’d better get your pee goo outta my bunk, lil’ girl.”

-------------------------------------------------

Wash was sitting in his pilot’s seat messing with one of his toy dinosaurs. Footsteps behind him caused him to crane his neck to see who was entering the room.

“Hey, Doc!” He called over his shoulder.

Simon worked his way up to the window and gazed out into the vastness. Wash tossed him a dinosaur, which he caught effortlessly. “What’re you doing up here, Simon? Bored?”

Simon fiddled with the stegosaurus in his hands, “You could say that.”

“You want me to hurt myself?” Wash raised an eyebrow.

“God no,” Simon ran his hand through his dark hair, “I couldn’t focus enough to do any good.”

“What’s buggin’ ya, Sport?” Wash leaned back in his seat and propped his feet up.

Simon turned slowly towards Wash, “Don’t ever call me that again.”

“Sorry, man!” Wash held up his hands as of a gun had just been drawn on him. “Just willing ta let ya bend my ear.”

Simon sighed and looked out he window again, “You know, the endless space scares the ever loving gos-se out of me.”

Wash chuckled, “Yeah, I figured.”

“Kaylee loves it, though.” Simon’s shoulders drooped.

Wash nodded slowly, “Yes, she does.”

Simon sighed very deeply and spun around to look at Wash, “How can it feel like someone’s cheated on you when you’re not even together?”

Wash was startled by Simon’s outburst. “Whoa, you just lost me at ‘cheated’.” He widened his eyes, “Who’s Kaylee . .um. ‘cheating’ with?”

Simon rubbed his temples and calmed a bit. “It doesn’t matter. I think I waited too long to let her know that . . .well, that . . . .” Simon let him arms fall limply to his sides. He sighed yet again, “It really doesn’t matter, Wash. Kaylee loves space and Serenity, and . . .” He looked at Wash whose face was painted with concern.

“. . . and you don’t.”

Simon closed his eyes and slowly shook his head, “I need to get back to River.” He strode off the bridge back to the infirmary.

Wash spun back to his controls, “Yeah, you go take care of your sister, you hwin dahn.” He mumbled to himself, “She’s the only being in the verse that may need your attention.”

-------------------------------------------------

Simon slowly guided River towards the mess hall “We’ll get you some hot cereal before bedtime, Mei mei.” He smiled warmly at her, “You’ll sleep better if you . . .”

Simon stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Kaylee sitting at the mess hall table sipping at a bowl of something hot. He looked at River as one side of his mouth turned upward, “I’m going to talk to her.”

River looked at Kaylee and back at Simon, “It’s time for my medicine.”

Simon looked at his watch, “I guess it is . . . Wait here, I’ll be right b- ”

“No!” River interrupted, “I’ll go with you . . .to the infirmary.”

Simon raised a dark eyebrow, “You hate it there, River. I can bring it right back here, and . . .”

“Race you!” River scrambled away to the infirmary. Simon looked confused but caught up with her just as they reached their quarters.

“Okay,” Simon huffed, out of breath, “Hop up on the table.”

River obeyed and sat on the table humming. She didn’t even fight when Simon pressed the needle to her porcelain skin. “Such a good job, Mei mei!” Simon beamed. He helped her down of the table, “Now, I’ve still got a little nerve left,” He turned towards the door, “I’m going to -”

“Oh Simon, I haven’t shown you the picture I drew for you!” She loped out of the room while tugging on her brother’s hand. She drug him into her bunk and dug through her papers and pulled out a charcoal drawing of him. The likeness was almost unnerving.

“This is very nice, River.” Simon studied the drawing. “I’ll give it a better look after I . . .”

River rolled her eyes back into her head and began thrashing around and moaning. Simon rushed to her and tried to restrain her. Though he was being plummeted by her flailing limbs, he managed to get her back into the infirmary. He grabbed a vile full of smoother and sat on the table holding the flailing River in his lap.

Just as he was about to inject the smoother, River stopped mid- trash. Her body went limp and Simon slowly lowered the syringe. River turned her face to him as if nothing had happened. “Okay, you can go see Kaylee now.” She smiled.

Simon eased River off his lap, and worked his way to the door still facing her. “I’ll be right back, Mei mei, I just really need to do something I might not be able to do later.”

Simon half-jogged towards the mess hall and stopped as he heard a deep voice echo out the door followed by Kaylee’s unmistakable giggle. He peeked around the doorframe into the mess hall and sure enough, Kaylee was still sitting at the table. However, she wasn’t alone now. Jayne was sitting next to her with one hand tangled in her auburn hair and the other brushing against her cheek.

Simon darted back away from the door and pressed his back against the wall. Only then did he realize his own prophecy about losing his chance to tell Kaylee everything he wanted to. His eyes grew dark with rage as he stormed back to the infirmary and stomped up to the examining table on which River lay placidly.

He grabbed the tiny girl by the wrist and yanked her into a sitting position. “You knew, and you kept me away!” He rumbled.

“You don’t need her, Simon.” The calm smile never left Rivers lips. “Besides, I had told her I always win at games.”

-------------------------------------------------

It was hot.

It was VERY hot.

Serenity's temp gauge had been damaged when a belt snapped and whipped through her innards like . . . well, like a whip. It was so hot that the prim doctor had actually rolled up his sleeves AND unbuttoned the top of his shirt. He lay limply on his cold steel examining table smugly noting that he may have found the coolest spot on the ship.

In his heat-induced lethargy, he daydreamed. In his day dream the thought of her. She'd cared about him, and had made him laugh. He should have told her that he cared back. That he would choose this Shee-niou life in a tin can floating through space if . . . if it meant he could be with her.

He hadn't told her though, and it was too late now. Someone else had told her that he thought she was special. Someone else had told her that she was needed. Someone else . . . had the right to touch her.

he sat up and spun to dangle his legs over the edge of the table. He hoisted himself onto the floor with his strong arms. With a slightly trembling hand, he brushed his black hair out of his eyes and wiped the sweat that had collected on his temples.

Kaylee had cared about him; he knew it. She had cared about him, and she had wanted him. He rolled his sleeves up a bit higher and raked his mind. She probably still did. . . . no, not probably .. .she did. She still wanted him; she had to!

Impulsively Simon stalked towards the engine room.

Simon peeked into the engine room. He saw Kaylee leaning into the engine while clanging and grunting her way though a lame attempt at regulating Serenity's temperature again. The red handkerchief that stuck out of the back pocket of her baggy carpenter jeans remained Simon of a tail. He chuckled to himself.

Kaylee leaped up out of the engine. "Gorramit! I said I was workin' on it, an' I'll have it fixed . . . oh," She blushed, "Hey!" She pulled the "tail" out of her back pocket and wiped the persperation from her face and chest. "Thought you were the captain comin', ta rib me for not havin' the temp gauge fixed yet."

Simon tried to think of a witty comment, but the sweat shining on Kaylee's Exposed stomach distracted him. She was wearing a dirty white tank top that had been cropped, probably by ripping, to just above her navel. Her chestnut hair was piled messily on top of her head and stray tendrils fell in her face.

Kaylee noticed Simon looking at her. "Yeah, I know I'm a pig." She giggled nervously while wiping the back of her neck with the handkerchief. "The heat makes me sweat like nothin' else. I always read 'bout people lookin' sexy when they sweat, but in real life . . .well sweat 's just gross."

Her emphasis on the word "gross" snapped Simon out of his daze, and he looked her in the eye. Neither of them moved. The silence grew like a sponge filled with water, and the rubber band of tension stretched between the two.

Simon wanted to be flowery with his speech. He had wanted to woo her into his arms with promises and sweet words. However, moments like this never turn out the way people plan them. He looked at the exhausted engineer, and was only able to force out one line of pleading. "I still want you," Simon whispered.

The rubber band snapped. Kaylee dropped her handkerchief and lunged at Simon. She leaped into his arms wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. She buried her face into his neck and sobbed.

Simon wrapped one arm under her to hold her up and wrapped the other around her shoulders to hold her to him. He breathed in her salty scent. He had known she still cared about him.

-------------------------------------------------

She was one of the reasons he took the job as the muscle on this ship. The money didn't hurt none either, but she was the main reason he didn't take better offers when they were offered. Once or twice, someone had offered him more money than Mal was giving' him. Of course, he never let Mal know there had been times when he could've found a better 'rangement.

She reminded him of his Ma. She loved everyone and always found the good in things. Jayne sure did love his Ma . . . and . .. . he could love Kaylee if he wanted to.

He'd kept it from Kaylee that he wanted her. He was 'bout to tell her that he wanted her to keep his bed warm when that gorram pansy-assed doctor showed up. It was obvious that Kaylee thought that hwoon dahn looked good.

Jayne decided that tellin' Kaylee wasn't the best idea then, but after a while it was obvious that the doc wasn't gonna pick up what was bein' given to him on a silver platter. Jayne figured it was a sort of now or never time when he bought Kaylee that bath stuff.

She had looked shocked at first when Jayne told her that she could use it in a bathtub in the room they would share at the next touch down. He didn't know how she would react. He wanted her to smile that Kaylee smile and not make him wait until they made it to the next moon. He wouldn't have been surprised it he had gotten a socket wrench upside the head.

Kayle didn't do either. She put her present down and stepped really close to him. She rested her tiny callused hand on his stubble sharp cheek. "We could do that," she'd whispered.

They had a grand ol' time that night. It had been a while for both of them. Jayne had helped her forget about the doc for a while, and she made him feel like .. .well, he felt like he was home.

The day after, Jayne went to maybe convince her that they needed to spend some more "quality time" together. He figured she'd be in the engine room, and he was right. Just she weren't alone. That doctor was there with her, and was leanin' all near her and he ruttin' smelled her. He was smelling the smell that Jayne had given her, and this really pissed Jayne off.

Jayne had mumbled something about looking for one of his knives, and lumbered off. As he left, he heard the doc go into a fit about there bein' a knife loose while his freak sister was there. He scampered out of the engine room like the little piss ant he was. Jayne was pleased he managed to ruin the mood.

He still decided not to push his luck with Kaylee. . . until the crazy loon came to him and in a round 'bout way told him to go after her. He, bein' the fool he always was, listened to that freak.

When Jayne had worked up the guts to talk to her she was sittin' in the mess hall lookin' at a half-cold cup of tea. She perked up a bit when Jayne sat next to her. "I, uh . . . ." He never was good with words. She was facing him with waiting eyes now. "I don't , um, usually kiss women on the . . .uh, on the mouth." He fiddled with her teacup.

She watched his hands rather than his face, "I know that, Jayne. That why I didn't try ta kiss ya . . . .the other night." She blushed slightly and cast her eyes downwards.

"Yeah, well," Jayne took a big breath, "I wanna kiss you."

Kaylee slowly lifted her face toward him, and he was finally reward with a Kaylee smile. If Jayne had to pick a day and call it his favorite, he'd pick the day he kissed Kaylee.

His bed weren't cold any more now. She was always either there when he got to bed or she would sneak in after he was sleepin'.

After today though, Jayne knew his bed was gonna get awful cold. He'd gone to pick on his girl while she tried to get this gorram ship back to a normal temp. Just as he was 'bout to enter the engine room, he saw that ta ma duh doctor holding his Kaylee.

Jayne backed out slowly so that they wouldn't see or hear him. Every murmur burned his ears as he stormed away from Serenity's heart and guts.

She weren't his Kaylee anyway. She was nothin'. He didn't need her to keep anything warm, and by guai he'd never kiss anyone on the mouth again.

-------------------------------------------------

"Now, see, that's where I have a bit of a problem. " Mal said rubbing his chin, "I don't think this business transaction will work unless you pay me half now and half when we rendezvous."

"Fine" grumbled the rough faced man with the scar over his left eye. "Yer hard man to work with, Reynolds."

"Oh, and you're the most cooperative crook I've ever run 'cross, Grouper?"

Grouper batted his eyelashes sarcastically, "Well, yeah!"

Mall rolled his eyes and stuck out his hand palm up.

Grouper shoved a stack of money into Mal's open hand, "Just get to New Cali in less than three days. I'll get my cargo, and you'll the rest of your money."

Mal stuffed the notes into his pants pocket, and slammed back a shot full. "Sure thing. Now, scurry along and let me and crew enjoy our landing."

Grouper worked his way toward the door of the bar, but slid around the corner and watched Mal and his crew. With a bit of watching, he was bale to pick out a few people that he knew for sure were in close quarters with the captain.

The tall dark haired one who dressed a bit like a man, but was definitely shaped like a woman, was most likely his second in command. Perhaps she would do. No, she'd be too loyal. Grouper'd probably get his teeth kicked in if he spoke to her. Besides, a woman like that probably has a pretty big and mean feller watching after her.

That little squirt giggling next to them was defiantly a worker in the engine room. Either that or she was ruttin' the mechanic; she was covered in engine grease. Naw, she wouldn't do, she probably couldn't even hold a gun strait.

Grouper's eyes fell on a large man with his gun slung on his hip for everyone to see. Ah ha! The hired gun! He probably wasn't on that ship for anything but the money. He'd do just fine.

Grouper reached out and grabbed the arm of a working girl who strode past him. He slipped a few shining coins into her palm. "Go tell that man I want ta speak with him, but don't make it obvious." He watched as the girl sauntered up to the man and basically threw herself onto his hip.

While clinging to him, the girl whispered in his ear. The huge man wrapped his arm around the girl's waist and looked over in Grouper's direction. He nodded slightly and dismissed the girl with a slight swat on her bottom.

The large man downed the rest of his drink and sat the mug on the bar. He walked over to Grouper and stared down at the shorter man, "Yeah? What?"

Grouper moved his head towards the door indicating he wanted the mercenary to go with him outside.

"You ain't my type, lil' man." The large man scowled.

"Oh, don't be so full of yerself. I've a business proposition for ya."

Grouper led the way to the alley behind the bar. The large man followed but kept his hand on his gun the entire time.

Grouper looked up at the hulking grouch, "What's yer name?"

"Why should I tell you?"

"Listen, I just wanna know so I can talk with ya. Yer the hired gun an' muscle on Reynolds' ship, huh?"

"Yeah?" the man said slowly.

"Well, I'm Len Grouper. He's hauling some cargo for me ta New Calli."

"Yeah, heard we were headin' that way . . . .My name's Cobb."

"That yer first or last name?"

"Don't matter. That all yer gettin'."

"Fine then, Mr. Cobb" Grouper looked at his fingernails, "I have bit of an offer fer ya."

"Go ahead."

"I've already given Captain Reynolds half the payment he wants. Now, that's quite a bit. Now, ta be honest, I wasn't gonna give him any, if you get my drift."

"Really . . ." Cobb's eyes narrowed a bit.

"Now, yer just the hired gun, so I figured you wouldn't mind doin' a bit 'o dirty work to get a nice chunk of money. . . .All you gotta do is make sure that the Captain don't make it to our rendezvous with the cargo."

Cobb looked puzzled.

"Now, I want the cargo ta' get ta' New Cali, an' I want the ship ta' get there too. Just no Captain Renyolds. You get me?"

"Yeah, I get you."

"You make that happen, I don't have to pay the other half 'a my payment, and you can keep the first part I've done given him."

Cobb looked as if he were digesting these instructions.

"Now," said Grouper, "I'm sure I'm not the first one ta' be makin' an offer to ya like this. "

"No, you sure ain't."

"Have you taken an offer like this before?"

"Not on the Capt'n."

"Turned on crew then, huh?"

"Yeah."

"How'd that turn out for ya?"

"Yer too nosy, lil' man." Cobb knit his eyebrows together.

"Sorry," Grouper put his hands up with his palms facing Cobb. "Just askin'." He dropped his hands to his sides, "so, you in?" "Whatta 'bout the crew?"

"If'n they don't get in the way, I don't care."

"Mkay. See ya in New Cali" Cobb turned and went back into the bar, probably to find himself that whore that Grouper has sicked on him earlier.

Grouper smiled. That was much easier than he had expected. He guessed there was some personal reason that Cobb wanted off that ship. He didn't care though, it wasn't his business, and people with a vengeance were easier to manipulate. -------------------------------------------------

Kaylee lurked outside the infirmary trying to muster the courage to enter. Normally, she bounded in usually starting poor Simon while he was working. Today, however, she dreaded going in and talking to him.

Finally, Kaylee gasped a huge breath and marched her small frame up behind the busy doctor. "Hey," she called weakly.

Simon turned, not started, "Hey, yourself" he grinned, "Uh oh, something's wrong."

Kaylee's shoulders fell, "You can read me that well, huh?"

"It's about what . .um . .happened yesterday, isn't it?" Simon put down the chart he was looking at.

"Yeah." Kaylee fiddled with the zipper on her coveralls. "We shouldn'ta done that."

Simon took a step closer to Kaylee and touched her arm, "Why not? I thought you . . ..well . . I , uh"

Kaylee cut him off before he could say anything stupid, "I've been wantin' you to want me for so long that when you finally said you did, . . . .well, it was kinda a reflex I guess. "

Simon dropped his hand for Kaylee's arm and a pained look melted over his face.

Kaylee looked at him in desperation, "It's just that, . . . I think I love . . .him."

"Jayne?!!" The look of pain switched to a look of shock, "He's a trained ape!"

Fury built in Kaylee's gut. "Don't talk 'bout him like that! He's like me! We’re home here on Serenity, and you ain't!"

Simon brought his head into his hands, "Kaylee . . ."

"No, you listen, Simon! . . . You're gonna leave eventually, and where would that leave me?

Simon's head shot up. "I think I hear River." He stalked out of the room.

"That's another thing!" Kaylee called after him, "I'd always be number two!"

She didn't know if he had heard what she had just yelled after him, and she wasn't sure weather she had wanted him to hear it. She shuffled out of the infirmary and decided to track down Jayne.

She found him by his exercise equipment pummeling a giant boxing bag he'd bough after their last job. "Jayne," She said to him.

He didn't answer her and kept abusing the bag. "Jayne" this time she was a bit louder.

Jane didn't seem to hear her. "JAYNE!!!!!" Jayne's head snapped in her direction, and the huge bag swung at him and knocked him down.

"Oh, honey!" Kaylee ran to him, "I didn't know that would happen." She bent over to help him up, and Jane pushed her away.

"Whatta ya want?" He wiped the sweat from his brow.

"I wanted to talk to ya" The desperate look returned to Kaylee's eyes, "You've been kinda . . .distant lately."

"Yeah, well talk then." Jayne's eyes burned holes into Kaylee. She looked at the floor.

"Somethin' happened with me and Simon."

"Yeah," Jayne glared, "I saw."

Kaylee jolted and looked at Jayne, "You saw?"

Jayne snatched up his towel and wiped himself off while walking towards his bunk. "Yeah, I saw. I shoulda known better."

"Jayne wait," Kaylee tried to follow him but he was too quick.

Her body went limp and she crumpled to the floor. With elbows on her knees and her face in her hands, Kaylee wept. -------------------------------------------------

Jayne sat in the dining hall crunching on the protein mush they tried to pass as food. He looked at his shipmates as they enjoyed their meal. He glanced over at Kaylee. She pushed her food around her plate and hadn't eaten any. His eyes wandered to Simon. He looked more down than usual.

"Huh," he thought to himself, "Pissed cause I found out 'bout them." He grouchily shoveled more mush into his mouth.

He continued to think to himself. How would he go about making sure this plan runs well. He looked over at Mal. He could try to take him out, but then Zoe'd have him down in no time.

He stirred his mush and looked at Zoe as she raised one corner of her mouth in a half smile at something her husband had just said. Now if he used two guns and did it while they were together, no one else would have the guts to . . . . .

His thoughts were interrupted by a strangled scream as River lunged on top of the table and crawled toward him knocking food and pates in every direction. She leaped on him, knocking his chair backwards. Sheer shock kept him from reacting as he landed on his back with River on top of him. Her hands clawed at his face and neck.

Jayne sat up and knocked the rag doll off of him. "Get his gorram freak off me." Simon was already in motion going after a smoother while Mal and Zoe yanked River off Janye and tried to constrain her.

River thrashed and screamed, "You still look good in red, you ching-wah tsao de liou mahng!"

"Such language out of a slip of a thing," Mal grunted out of clenched teeth as he held River's wrists.

Jane stood up and wiped at the scratches on his face and neck with a burly hand. He wiped the blood from his fingers onto his thigh. "She'd best have all her shots, Doc, " He scowled at Simon when he returned with River's smoother, "If'n I get rabies, I'm gonna be pissed."

Simon glared at Jayne as he shot the smoother into River's porcelain skin. She calmed almost immediately. Mal hoisted her tiny frame into his arms and he and Simon carried River to her room.

Jayne picked up his upset chair and sat back down at the table and began shoveling the mush into his mouth again.

Zoe sat next to him and cocked her head slightly. "It's been a while since she's wailed on you like that, hasn't it?" Jayne looked at Zoe out of the corner of his eye and grunted.

Mal reentered the room and sat across from the two. "Been since we made that stop at Ariel . . ." He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow.

Jayne lowered his spoon and swallowed. His eyes shifted from Zoe to Mal and back again. "What're you sayin'?"

Zoe looked over at the Captain, "What exactly are you saying, Sir?"

Mal stood, "Nothin'. Just noticing that she tends to get tetchy before big days, and we have a big day tomorrow with the delivery and all."

Jayne scowled, "It ain't gonna be a big day. Just a delivery."

Mal looked Jayne in the eye, "Lets hope it turns out to be an ordinary run of the mill one."

Jayne grunted and pushed himself away from the table. "If'n it's any different, won't be 'cause of me." He stalked out of the room without looking back. Zoe tucked a stray curl behind her ear, "You planing on sleeping with one eye open tonight, Sir?"

Mal chucked, "You know I don't sleep, Zoe."

-------------------------------------------------

Serenity docked on New Cali only a moment or two behind schedule. Grouper was waiting for the ship, and walked aboard as the cargo door was lowered. Jayne met him as he walked in.

"I see you've made it . . .. Where's my cargo?"

Jayne tilted his head over his shoulder to look at Kaylee and Wash and they lugged the large box towards the men. They grunted and heaved and dropped it none too gently at Grouper's feet.

Kaylee stood up and wiped her hands on he coveralls. "Where's the captain? Ain't he supposed to be here?"

Grouper looked at his cargo crate, "How'm I supposed to know you got it to me in one piece?"

Jayne grunted and tossed Grouper a crowbar. Grouper caught it with ease and started working at the edges of the crate.

"Hey!" said Kaylee, "I asked you a question, Jayne. Where's the Captain?!"

Jayne looked at his boots.

Grouper donned a mocking look of sadness. "Oh, sweetheart, don't you know? Jayne's done taken care of the captain for me."

A look of horror spread across Kaylee's face. "Oh no . . .no no no." She looked at Jayne with pleading eyes, "Tell me that ain't true, Jayne."

Jayne still hadn't looked up from his boots. "I can't, lil' Kaylee."

"What?!!!" The pleading in Kaylee's eyes turned to rage.

"But I can," came a voice from the shadows as Mal stepped out from behind a crate. "Now, I shoulda known I couldn't trust you, Grouper. But I'm giving you one last chance to leave the rest of my money, take your cargo and get the hell off my boat."

Grouper drew a gun from his holster and aimed it at Mal. "You're not a very smart man talkin' like that at me. You're not even pointing a gun at my head, and your hired gun's unarmed."

Almost faster then the eye could see, Jayne whipped out a smaller version of Vera and pointed it at Grouper's chest. "I ain't never unarmed."

Suddenly the top of Grouper's Cargo crate flew open and Zoe stood up with a rifle aimed at Grouper's head, "Me either." she deadpanned.

Grouper slowly lowered his gun. "Now, that would have been a bit awkward if I would have opened that crate when I got home."

"I'm used to awkward." Zoe glared. She turned her head towards Wash and Kaylee while still holding her gun on Grouper, "You two need to be more gentle with cargo."

"Yup," Wash nodded, "awkward."

"The way I see it, " Mal took a step closer to Grouper, "you can either give me my money and leave, or you can try to pick a fight and lose. You can't shoot us all, and you've got two guns aimed at you."

Grouper looked down at the handgun he had pointed at the floor.

Mal bared his teeth, "If you even think of raisin' that thing, we'll kill you on the spot,"

Jayne looked at Mal, "You said this wouldn't get messy."

Mal glared at Grouper while talking to Jayne, "I figured this guy was smarter than this."

Jayne looked at Kaylee out of the corner of his eye. "Get outta here. I don't want you around if bullets start flyin'."

Kaylee started to back away, "No, sweetheart," snapped Grouper, "you stay right there. This won't last much longer. " Kylee froze.

Grouper smirked at Jayne, "You're the one I need to get revenge on . . . .turnin' on me like that."

Jayne growled, "You ain't gonna do nothin' to me."

Grouper looked back at Kaylee, "It'd hurt you more if I did something to someone you care 'bout, now wouldn't it?" Kaylee trembled and started to slowly back away, mouth slightly agape.

"You still can't shoot us all." Mal took another step towards Grouper.

"I can start with her." Grouper raised his handgun, aimed at Kaylee's head, and pulled the trigger.

-------------------------------------------------

The second Grouper pulled the trigger of his handgun, his head snapped back with the force of the shot from Zoe's gun. He crumpled to the floor as the pool of red grew beneath him.

Everyone turned to look where Kaylee was standing, but she wasn't standing there any longer. Instead, there was a crumpled body lying in blood.

Kaylee was standing a couple of feet away with one hand covering her mouth, and the other gripping a fist full of her hair. "Oh god!" She wailed, "He pushed me out of the way!" She ran to the fallen man's side, "Jayne, get up!" She looked around with panic and tears in her eyes, "Help him!"

Mal snapped into action, "Zoe, Wash, get rid of Grouper's body." He cupped his hands around his mouth and hollered back into the ship, "Hey Doc! We need ya'!"

Simon rushed into the cargo bay followed by the Shepherd. "Oh no!" Simon turned to Book, "Help Mal get him to the infirmary, I'll meet you there."

Kaylee sobbed, "Oh god, is he . . .?"

Mal grunted at he lifted Jayne under his arms and Book grabbed his feet, "Not to insult your intelligence or your height, lil' Kaylee, but Jayne's head is a bit higher than yours. Let's hope the Doc can fix him up."

Book and Mal lugged the giant into the infirmary as Kaylee trotted behind sobbing. Simon was waiting for them decked out and ready for surgery. Mal and Book laid Jayne on the table. Mal said, "Shepard, you take Kaylee to the mess and get her some tea."

"I'm stayin'!" yelled Kaylee, "You can't throw me out!"

Mal rested his blood stained hand on Kaylee's shaking shoulder, "Now, you listen to me," he said softly, "The Doc don't need you in here, and you can come back as soon as he's done."

Kaylee relented, "Promise?"

"I'll come get you myself." Mal lowered his hand as it was replaced with Book's. The Shepherd ushered Kaylee out of the infirmary while patting her shoulder and murmuring words of comfort.

"Thanks," said Simon without looking up from the work he was doing on Jayne's chest.

"I've noticed things have been a might tense with your three lately. I figured it would be easier for you to do a good job without her here."

Simon nodded and continued his careful cutting.

"That bullet was meant for Kaylee, Doc." Mal said while looking at Jayne's lifeless face.

Simon still didn't look up, "There's a reason she . . . ." he cut himself off. "Sometimes he'll do thing that . . ." he cut himself off again. He gave a rattled sigh, "Many of us can't see the good in him, but she can. Quite a few of us think he's just a trained ape."

Mal patted the Doctor's shoulder lightly, "It ain't easy knowing someone would rather be with someone else, is it?"

Simon shook his head, but didn't look up. Right now, there was a patient on his table, and his life was his first priority.

------------------------------------------------

She held his limp hand in both of hers while perched on a stool next to the infirmary bed. The color was starting to return to his cheeks, and he looked alive now. However, he still hadn't woken up, and Kaylee wanted to be there when he did.

A slight squeeze on her shoulder made her turn around. "Hey, Capt'n" she smiled weakly.

"Hey there, Lil' Kaylee." Mal smiled at her softly. "You should get some sleep."

"Nuh uh." She shook her head. "I wanna be here."

Mal nodded silently.

Kaylee sighed a deep soul-rattling gulp of air and gazed at Jayne. "So how long did ya'll have that plan goin' on?"

"I'd say 'bout fifteen minutes before we landed."

"But you knew Jayne had been asked to turn on you all along, right?"

"No."

Kaylee's face went blank. "That was almost three days, Capt'n."

"I know." Mal looked at Jayne's now sleeping face, "He just decided he couldn't go through with it, I guess."

A teasing beam spread across Kaylee's face, "Guess it's cause he loves ya."

Mal moved his sight from Jayne and looked into Kaylees shining eyes, "No . . .it's 'cause he loves you."

The smile faded from Kaylee's face and tears welled in her eyes, "No he don't." tears dripped down her cheeks, "he hates me now." She wiped the back of her hand across her face. "I messed it up."

Mal moved closer to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "Man had a bullet in her chest that told me otherwise, bao bei." He cupped his hand under her chin and raised her face towards his. "Go get some sleep. I promise I'll come get you when he wakes up."

Kalyee turned her face towards the huge man and sniffled. "M'kay," she smiled up at Mal, "You'll tell him I was here waitin' 'til you threw me out, right?"

"Sure thing."

"I'm goin' to bed. G'night, Capt'n."

"'Night, Lil' Kaylee."

Kaylee left the infirmary, and Mal took her place on the stool next to Jayne's bed. He noticed it was still warm. Good thing. He hated sitting on cold seats.

"I ain't gonna hold your hand like Kaylee did." He mumbled to the sleeping Jayne, "You can open your eyes now. She's gone."

"How'd you know I was awake?" Jayne turned his face towards Mal and grinned evilly.

Mal's eyes narrowed, "You hwin dahn, I saw you crack a smirk. Why'd you think I chased her outta here? It'd break her heart knowing you were pretendin' to be asleep, and you were doing a pretty bad job of it."

"Sorry Mal," Jayne stretched. "I just wasn't ready to talk to her yet. Things have been a mite . . ..uh"

"Uncomfortable?" A voice came from the doorway.

"I was just about to come get you, Doc." said Mal. "I'll clear out of here and go get Kaylee. I promised I get her as soon as he woke."

"Yeah, I heard" grunted Jayne.

Mal turned to leave while Simon busied himself with his equipment preparing to check out Jayne's wound and vitals.

"Oh, Captian?" Simon looked up, "Could you take the scenic route to Kaylee's bunk?"

Mal smiled closed lipped "Yeah, I was thinkin' I'd do that."

"Wha . . ?" Jayne looked very confused.

"You two need to set some things right between you, and it'll be easier without her here."

"Don't leave me alone here with him, Mal! He's got needles!"

Mal chuckled and ambled out of the infirmary. Yup, he'd take the long way to Kaylee's bunk. Might stop for some tea first. -------------------------------------------------

Simon leaned over Jayne's bullet wound. "Hey, Doc" Jayne squinted, "That lamp is pretty gorram bright."

"Um hum." Simon didn't look up. "You don't deserve her."

Jayne knit his eyebrows together, "What the hell does that have to do with the lamp?"

Simon looked up from Jayne's chest, "Nothing, but she'll be here soon and I want to make a few things clear."

Jayne looked at Simon out of the corner of his eyes. "You sure wanted to 'accidentally' mess up when you fixed me, didn't you?"

Simon rolled his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "As I've mentioned before Jayne, as long as you're on my table you're safe."

"But you wanted to. Then I wouldn't be around to - "

"She chose you, Jayne."

Jayne leaned closer to Simon's face and bared his teeth, "Bullshit. I saw you two."

Simon did not back away contrary to Jayne's expectations. "And afterwards she told me that it was a mistake. She . . . " He looked down.

"She what?" Jayne demanded.

"She told me she loves you."

Jayne opened his mouth to answer, but no sound came out. He closed his jaw. He looked at the doctor with an ice-cold stare, "Do you love her?"

Simon raised his eyes to meet Jayne's stare, "Not the way she needs me to."

"But you hate that she loves me, don't you?"

"Yes, I do."

Jayne leaned back in the bed, and grinned slightly, "Good thing for that hippopotamus oath."

Simon stared at him blankly, blinked twice, and shook his head, "It's Hippocratic, you trained ape."

Jayne sat up abruptly ignoring the pain in his chest and grabbed a fistful of Simon's shirt. He leaned towards Simon while pulling the smaller man in towards him. Their faces were inches apart. "She loves me, though, " Jayne growled, " 'an all your fancy trainin' and words don't change that." He let go of Simon's shirt with a shove and leaned back again. He smiled.

Slowly Jayne turned his face towards Simon. "You didn't have to tell me that she said that. You could have let me go on thinkin' you two had somethin' goin' on."

"She was my first friend here. I owe her." He brushed his shirt back into place with shaking hands. He raised his face and looked Jayne in the eyes, "I didn't do it for you."

Both men turned their head towards the door as they heard Kaylee's unmistakable trotting footsteps in the hall. Simon made his way to the door and smiled warmly at Kaylee as she entered the room. She didn't look at him. She saw Jayne was awake and bounded over to the bed beaming.

Simon left the room to find River. He needed to get her tucked in after taking her medicine.

She needed him.

------------------------------------------------- River sat in her bed listening to the story Simon was reading. He was perched on the edge of her bed nose deep in the book. He was so intent on the story that he didn’t hear the soft tap on the door. River did though, and jumped out of bed and ran to open it.

Simon lowered the book to see River pulling Kaylee into the bed room. "Sit here!" River demanded, and pushed her onto the bed next to Simon. She sat next the Kaylee and curled up next to her. She laid her head in Kaylee's lap. "Our friend is here, Simon."

Simon looked at Kaylee and forced a small smile, "Come to hear the story?"

Kaylee's mouth turned up slightly at the corners, "Yeah," she cast her eyes downward, "'an I was kinda hopin' we could hang out after River went to bed." She ran her fingers through River's long dark hair.

Simon looked pained, "What about . . .?"

"He's sleepin'." She tucked rivers hair behind her ear, "I just . . . ."

River lifted her head from Kaylee's lap "I'm still your friend."

Kaylee smiled down at her, "I know you are, sweetie. " Both girls turned their faces towards the very nervous doctor. Simon looked at their pleading expectant eyes.

He reached his hand out and rested it on Kaylee's shoulder, "Of course we can talk for a while after I put River to bed." He sighed, removed his hand, and scratched the back of his head, "I just don't want to be beaten to a pulp for being your friend."

Kaylee laughed, "Jayne was the one who told me I should hang out with you while he rested. Said something 'bout you bein' a better friend to me than I'll ever know."

Simon smiled, "You're just as good of a friend to me."

"He also said that if'n you tried any thing he'd break your arm off and shove it up your - "

"Okay, I get the point." Simon raised his hands palms out.

River rested her head back in Kaylee's lap. "Keep reading, gee gee."

Simon raised the book and continued his story of dragons and princesses. Kaylee leaned down a whispered into River's ear, "You won."

River turned her head to look up at Kaylee. She smiled to herself. River knew that she hadn't won. Simon wasn't the prize, and there was no competition to begin with. However, if River had not managed to keep Simon away from Kaylee at just the right moment . . . if she had not convinced Jayne to let his heart have its way, then Kaylee would have fallen in love with Simon.

River turned her face back down into Kaylee's lap. She knew that she and her brother would not be on Serenity forever. If Kaylee and Simon had fallen in love either Kaylee would follow them off the ship or she would be too heart broken to take care of Serenity. At least now when they leave, Jayne will comfort Kaylee. She'll lose a friend when Simon leaves, but she won't lose her heart.

River smiled to herself. Jayne will know what it means to love. Kaylee will still glow. Serenity will keep flying.

FIN

COMMENTS

Monday, February 14, 2005 8:05 AM

KAYSKY


I remember reading bits and pieces of this somewhere. It's nice to read it all together.

A very moving story. =o)

Monday, February 14, 2005 2:24 PM

AMDOBELL


I remember reading bits of this before too but feels like you added pieces. Somehow the ending doesn't feel like the end. Did that make sense to you?
Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 14, 2005 3:09 PM

STARRBABY


I did post this somewhere else with a different ending, but I wasn't satisifed with it. I'm flattered and impressed that you remembered.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 9:07 AM

CCKE


I really loved your story. Jayne/Kaylee are pretty cute :)


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Started as an adventure, but ended in a way for me to screw with my favorite easy mark.

Bits of Time
Okay, I don't know how everyone will react to this one. It's my 1st fanfic that I dug up out of the abyss of word. It started out just being little snippits, but somehow morphed into a J/K story. They kinda just took over.

Risk Anything
Simon and Jayne have a bit of a common ground.