blue flamingos

Protective Urges

Fandom: Firefly

Category/Rated: Gen, PG

Year/Length: 2007/ ~2159 words

Pairing: Mal+Kaylee friendship

Spoilers: Spoilers for Out of Gas[minor] and Serenity: the movie [major]

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Mal keeps having words with the boys she likes, and Kaylee keeps wondering why

Author's Notes: For [info]14valentines Day 12 Voting and [info]30_friends prompt #18 Some Advice

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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Kaylee doesn't even realise until they've been in space for two days that Bester isn't on the ship anymore. She'd be surprised it took her that long, but she's so busy with the ship that it takes her that long to find her bunk. She'd sleep in the engine room, but the captain found her the first night and told her to stop it.

When he found her there again the second night, he marched her to her bunk himself, and came near to tucking her in as well.

She asks Zoë about Bester when they're alone in the kitchen after dinner. Zoë shrugs and says, "Cap'n didn't think we needed him any more," and Kaylee knows she won't get any more out of the other woman. She's not that interested anyway, wants to get back to the ship, and she doesn't think any more of it.

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Two weeks later, the captain and Zoë almost get shot on a job – though she doesn't hear about this until much later – and when they come back on board, they bring a tall, tough-looking man with them.

The captain says, "this is Jayne, he's joining the crew for a spell," and that's that.

Kaylee knows Jayne's type, though, even before she sees him with his guns, from her father's workshop, and she wonders, briefly, if she should've maybe thought a bit more before joining the ship, if they're doing the kind of work they need men like Jayne for.

She thinks she's the last one up when she creeps down to the kitchen for some tea, but she hears voices before she opens the door and stops. Wash is still trying to seduce Zoë, even though Zoë tries not to be in the same room as him, and Kaylee doesn't want to interrupt. She thinks they'll be sweet together.

She peeps through the round window in the door and sees the captain and Jayne sitting at the table. Jayne has his back to her, his body blocking whatever he's doing with his hands, and the captain is leaning towards him, his face dark.

Kaylee can't resist, presses her ear to the gap in the door and listens. "... my rules," the captain is saying. "We got no problem leaving you on the next planet we pass, and I personally got no problem tossing you out a mite sooner than that, dong ma? This is my ship and what I say goes. This is not a democracy. No messing with the merchandise, but you get your fair share. You want off the ship, you're welcome to leave, no hard feelings."

"Fine," Jayne grumbles.

"Good." The captain stands up, puts his tea cup in the sink. "And one more thing: you touch Kaylee in any way she don't want you to, and you're going out the airlock. We clear?"

Jayne looks over at him, and Kaylee can see his face in profile, a little surprised and maybe a little offended. "We're clear."

The captain nods and moves towards the doors, and Kaylee darts back down the corridor. Maybe she is on the right ship after all.

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A couple of months after that, they land on Xiaolan, with a cargo that Jayne and the captain won't tell the rest of them about, though Kaylee figures Zoë probably knows. Not a lot happens on the ship that Zoë don't know about. The captain tells them they're staying for a week, maybe two, and no, it has nothing to do with how fast they left the last place.

Wash snorts in disbelief at this, but he's finally managed to get Zoë to agree to a date, so he turns it into a cough when the captain glares at him.

Xiaolan's a nice planet, better than some of the border planets they've been on, and they're docked not far from a good-sized town. Wash and Zoë walk with her into town, but they've got plans and they leave her to wander around on her own after a while.

Kaylee meets him in a tea-shop, when he drops into the seat opposite her and declares, "you're far too pretty to be sitting alone. Let me join you before someone else does."

His name's Ranlon and he's a clerk in the town. He's sweet and he buys her several iced cakes even though she protests, so Kaylee lets him flirt with her, and, later, walk her back to the ship and kiss her goodnight on her cheek.

She finds him again the next day, and the day after, and each time he walks her back to the ship and kisses her cheek. It's kind of courtly, and Kaylee likes him. The next night, she stops them a little way from the ship and kisses him properly, for a long time. He's not a bad kisser, and he doesn't try to get his hands under her shirt, only blushes when they finally part and walks her the rest of the way to the ship.

The captain's waiting when she slips inside. "Kaylee."

"Evening, Captain." Kaylee hops over to plant a kiss on his cheek, and he catches her hand, holding her near him.

"There a reason you haven't brought your friend back to meet us?" he asks.

Kaylee laughs at him. "Maybe I don't want you to."

The captain smiles, the way he does when things go wrong all of a sudden, or she tells him they need to land before they fall out of the sky. "Maybe I don't want my mechanic getting sweet on someone and deciding to stay behind."

"Captain! That aint ever gonna happen! I love Serenity."

"See that it don't," the captain says firmly, then kisses her hair and lets her go.

Two days later, they leave Xiaolan. Kaylee doesn't get a chance to say goodbye to Ranlon.

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Six weeks from then, Wash and Zoë announce that they're getting married. Kaylee can't stop grinning and hugging them, but Jayne makes comments about Wash's manhood and the captain asks a lot of questions about what'll happen to his crew and his ship and is Zoë sure she knows what she's doing, or is she maybe thinking she needs to be married for some reason, which upsets both Wash *and* Zoë, so the atmosphere on the ship isn't great for a while. Zoë and Wash spend a lot of time on the bridge together, Jayne stays in his bunk even more than usual, and the captain walks around the ship like he's looking for something precious he's lost.

He usually ends up in the engine room, leaning in the doorway until Kaylee makes him come in and hold things. Serenity's as unhappy as her crew, and there's always things to be fixed or fiddled with.

"You ever think about getting married?" Kaylee asks him one evening, holding her hand out for a screwdriver.

The captain passes it to her silently, and she can feel his eyes on her while she tightens the bolts back into place. ""Don't think I'm the marrying type," he says finally. "What about you? Want to settle down somewhere?"

"I wouldn't want to leave Serenity," Kaylee tells him, remembering saying the same thing back on Xiaolan. "Guess I'll just have to marry Jayne."

The captain laughs, and Kaylee grins. "Make sure you find someone good enough for you," he says quietly. Kaylee's not surprised to hear the door rattle shut after him before she can look up.

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They go back to Wash's planet for the ceremony – Kaylee asks about Zoë's, but she just shakes her head, so Kaylee keeps quiet about it. Some of the captain and Zoë's friends from the war are there, and a bunch of people Wash went to flight school with, who sweep Kaylee up after the service and ply her with cakes and questions about Serenity. One of them flies a dragon class ship, only a year old. When he offers Kaylee a look, she says yes so fast he laughs.

It's a beautiful ship. Not as nice as Serenity, but there's no ship as nice as Serenity in the 'verse. The engine's twice the size of Serenity's, shining and new, with a whir like a dragon sleeping. Kaylee can hardly take her eyes off it, even when Aaron slips his arms round her waist and kisses her neck.

He's sweet, like Ranlon, but not so courtly; he laughs a little when she protests at leaving the engine room, but takes her hand and leads her through the ship to his bunk, then again when he finds her back there, running her hands over the engine in the middle of the night.

In the morning, they meet the captain on their way back to Serenity. His face is dark, and he takes Aaron aside, muttering too quietly for Kaylee to hear what they say. She knows they're talking about her, from the way Aaron keeps looking at her. When the captain's done with him, Aaron comes over and kisses her politely on the cheek.

"It was nice to meet you, Kaylee. You take care now."

Kaylee'd been going to tell him to watch out for them in the sky, because he'd been good with his hands, and she's always liked a man who knows what to do with his hands, but she knows goodbye when she hears it.

The captain doesn't say anything on the walk home, and Kaylee's a little afraid to break the silence.

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Once Simon joins the ship, Kaylee doesn't meet so many men, or at least, not so many that she wants to sleep with. She used to listen to the men who came in with their broken ships and think that a life in space would be all kinds of romantic, meeting exotic women, or in her case, men, on every planet, but it's not really like that at all. Most of the time, she doesn't get off the ship, or she does and they get into trouble and have to leave real fast. The first few months with Inara on board, before the captain gets to liking her and being jealous of her clients, though, they go to nicer planets, and sometimes she escapes into the towns.

The captain always comes to find her though, if he's not doing business somewhere, and sometimes even then, and he always takes the boys she's talking to away, to whisper at them. She'd love to know what he says, but she can't ever get near enough. She kind of thinks he's maybe telling them to keep away from her, that he's worried she'll decide she wants to be with one of them instead of staying on the ship, but she doesn't know how to make him be sure that aint going to happen, so she puts up with it.

Not long after Miranda, when it's still a shock to step onto the bridge and have Wash not be there, though River and the captain together pilot the ship well enough, Kaylee goes looking for Simon down in the infirmary. She's expecting lights to be on, but not for there to be two voices, cos Simon's equipment don't talk to him like Serenity does to her.

She moves close enough to see in, but quietly, thinking to sneak up on them, make them jump. Simon has his back to the bench, something in his hand that she can't see, and the captain is looming over him, too close, but Simon looks defiant, not scared.

"... you ever hurt her, you'll get to find out a mite more than you might wish about what I'm like when I'm angry, we clear?" Kaylee remembers the words from Jayne's first week on the ship, or some such version of them, but the tone is different, like the captain's saying them without meaning them so much.

"Mal..." Simon sounds more frustrated than angry, and he's kind of smiling, the little affectionate smile he gets with River sometimes, when she does something that reminds him of his sister and not the Alliance. "I'd never hurt her, in any way. I give you my word."

He's so sincere when he says it, Kaylee feels warm all inside. The captain steps away, rubbing at the back of his neck. "Yeah, but I gotta... you understand."

Simon smiles for real this time. "I understand. I'm thankful to you for it, I suppose, before I was here."

Kaylee misses what the captain says to that, leaning back against the wall. He hasn't been warning men away from her, all these years, or afraid of her leaving. He's been protecting her, like her father, or her brothers back home. Not that she's ever needed it, never having been so attached to any of them that they could have hurt her, but...

She pushes herself upright again, and wanders into the infirmary, warm with love for her men and her ship.


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