blue flamingos

Whirl

Fandom: Firefly

Category/Rated: Gen, G

Year/Length: 2007/ ~1193 words

Pairing: Mal, Kaylee

Spoilers: Serenity

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

Author's Notes: International "Whee!" Day Challenge!

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

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"What," Kaylee heard Mal ask, "are you wearing?"

She pulled herself out of the cubby hole she's crawled into to poke at wires and looked down the ship. Mal was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking at Jayne stood just inside the ship.

"What's wrong with it?" Jayne asked, pulling at the hem of his shirt.

Mal seemed to struggle for words for a minute, before he said, "it's pink!"

Kaylee pressed a hand to her mouth, trying not to giggle at Jayne's confused expression. "Yeah?"

"It's –" Mal said again, then gave up. "Why are you wearing it?"

Jayne strode further into the ship and Kaylee noticed the orange soft toy he was holding behind his back. "There's a carnival in town," he said. "Bought it there."

Kaylee pulled herself to her feet, making Jayne jump. "A carnival? Does it have rides?"

"Yeah." Jayne turned a little more, keeping the toy behind his back. "And shooting booths."

"That where you won that thing?" Mal asked.

Jayne pulled it out like he'd meant to all along. "It's for Zoë," he muttered, and Kaylee looked down. The baby was due any day, and no-one, including Zoë, knew whether they were happy or sad about it. Kaylee knew she was looking forward to having a baby on Serenity, but it made her notice Wash being gone even more than before.

"I'm sure she'll love it," she said, taking the toy from Jayne. She thought it was maybe meant to be a rabbit, or a cat, but it was kind of hard to tell since it only had one ear. She made to give it back, but Jayne backed away.

"You give it to her," he muttered, and Kaylee hugged it, turning to Mal. "Can we go?" she asked.

"Go where?" Mal had come the rest of the way down the steps and was leaning on their buggy.

"To the carnival!" Kaylee said, frowning at him. "We could take River. And –" Well, maybe not Simon, he didn't like to leave the ship when Zoë might go into labour at any moment; and the captain wasn't likely to agree if she suggested bringing Inara, who probably wouldn't go anyway. "She's never been to a carnival," she said instead.

"The two of you can go on your own," Mal said. "Or take Jayne with you."

Jayne shook his head, pushing past Mal to go up the stairs. "You mocked my shirt, you take them."

"It's pink!" Mal said again to his back. Kaylee had to agree, though it was the orange stripes that really made it bad. She made her expression as innocent and pleading as she could when he looked back, and he rolled his eyes. "One hour," he said firmly. "And you keep River under control."

It wasn't a very good carnival, not like some of the ones when she was a kid, but it had a rollercoaster, bumper cars and a merry-go-round. She could see a ghost train as well, but she figured none of them wanted to go on that.

Kaylee held onto River's hand, weaving through the crowds with Mal grumbling behind them. Kaylee thought she was different since Miranda, like she'd learned to control her reading better, but Simon didn't agree, so she didn't say anything about it.

"You have carnivals on Osiris?" she asked. River shook her head, holding out one hand to trail across the bright silks on one of the stalls. "You want to go on one of the rides?"

River spun in a slow circle, taking in the three rides, one hand trailing after her, catching a man walking too close to them. Mal glared at him when he looked like he was going to say something, and he kept walking. "That one," River said, pointing to the merry-go-round. "With the horses."

"Captain?" Kaylee asked. "You want to come too?"

Mal looked at the ride and shook his head. "I think I'm too old for that one. You two go ahead." He paid for two tokens for them anyway.

Kaylee followed River round the ride as she patted each of the horses between its ears, until she chose a red one that matched her dress. Kaylee took the one behind her, pink with white swirls. It kind of reminded her of the dress she had at the ball on Persephone. There were still kids getting onto the other horses, so she leaned out a little and grinned at Mal.

"You like my ride?" she asked, smiling.

"He's lovely," Mal said. "Fancy trading Serenity for him?"

"Never!" Kaylee said. "Don't say things like that!"

"Hold on," River said, tilting her head back, and the music started up, the horses moving in time. The first couple of circles were slow enough for Kaylee to see Mal when they passed him, waving. The third time they started to move faster, and she wrapped her arms around the horse's neck. River took one hand off her horse, waving, even though Kaylee couldn't see Mal any more.

They sped up more and more, everything outside the ride a blur of colour. Over the music, she heard River's laugh and grinned. She was glad they'd decided to stay on Serenity, and not just for Simon.

The ride gradually slowed again, the colours turning back into stalls and people waving to their children, until it came to a halt and they could climb off.

River patted hers on the head again, leaning down to whisper in its ear before she reached for Kaylee's hand. "Did you have fun?" Kaylee asked.

River smiled. "Like dancing. They want to run in the fields."

"I think they do enough running here," Kaylee told her, jumping off the ride. "You see the captain anywhere?" He'd been standing in front of the balloon store when they got on the ride, she thought, but he wasn't there now. Actually, she couldn't see him at all.

"Run away," River said. "Many people, one captain."

"Yeah," Kaylee said, standing on her toes to look for Mal. "Do you know where he is?" She turned slowly, trying to remember what he'd been wearing.

River turned with her. "There," she said, letting her arm fall out behind them both.

Kaylee turned and saw Mal making his way through the crowd with a paper bag in one hand. "Enjoy your ride?" he asked.

"So much," Kaylee told him. "What's in the bag?" she asked, and watched him rub at the back of his neck, wishing she had River's abilities, just for a minute.

"Bought you a present," he said, holding the bag out to her. She took it, kind of nervous – Mal never bought presents for members of the crew.

She opened it and reached inside, her fingers closing on soft material. She pulled it out and shook it open, laughing. It was a shirt, paler pink than Jayne's, patterned with darker pink flowers. "You like it?" Mal asked.

"It's pretty," she said, hugging him. She didn't ask why he'd bought it for her, or why he hadn't bought something for River. "You want to come on the bumper cars with us?"

"Against you two?" Mal asked, looking between Kaylee and River.

"You win we'll make dinner," Kaylee offered, folding the shirt carefully back into the bag.

"You're on," Mal said, putting an arm round each of them and leading them across the carnival ground.


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