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Kaylee couldn't count on her fingers of how many times she had done this for the crew members. It was mostly Mal, before Simon came along. Of course Kaylee didn't fare too well with deep wounds like Simon did. Really, he saved all of them at least once, and never once truly asked for help. Selfless or stubborn- the lines were blurred anyway.
Giving a small laugh she kept working as gently as possible. "Mal is a might slow when it comes to lessons. His heart is usually in the right place, though. It's just hard to tell."
Others could say anything about her captain but she was very loyal because he was a good person. Try as he might to cover it up, Mal was wonderful.
"Sorry," Kaylee gave a small grimance before her face brightened at the lighter tone, there might have even been some teasing in there. Two surprises in one day, both amazing. "Might be...Mal would enjoy that...I think you and River belong here, always have, proper sentences and all."
They headed towards the infirmary, Simon still fuming about the whole encounter. "When will he learn it's better to just not take me on missions?" he asked no one in particular, though Kaylee was the only one there.
He sat slowly on the chair. He could have taken care of himself. Licked his own wounds so to speak. But Kaylee's touch was pleasant and he was apparently feeling brave this day, so he let her help.
He winced when she hit a particularly tender spot on his lip, but at least it had seemed to stop bleeding. "I don't know why I did that, really. I mean I- I know why I did but- ow!- I've never been inherently violent until I set out to retrieve River. And especially not until I joined up with you guys." He added this as a bit of a joke, though there was truth to it. "Perhaps your criminal ways are getting to me."
If there was supposed to be any charm Kaylee wasn't supposed to present. There wasn't any charm to Kaylee. The most charm was smiles and cute quips. Elegance and grace belonged to Inara, while Kaylee was in the sister department.
The man's sudden interest in her caused a dumbfounded look on her face, she even gave a small gesture as if questioning. It wasn't as if she was [i that] starved for attention she'd go for it. Still, there was a small prize to that.
"Simon!" She exclaimed in concern the moment she saw the next part.
Then came the punch, from Simon to the man. She had to question her memory in that moment but came to helping Simon. Not that she did a lot of good, she was not Zoe with strength.
When Zoe and Mal came to save the day, she remained by Simon's side helping him sit down. "Let's get you cleaned up..." Kaylee said gently, grabbing a clean towel and getting it wet. "That was a mighty stupid thing to do, Simon. He could have hurt you."
It was the gentle chiding, like a mother would do to a kid. She started cleaning him gently before giving a smile. "Thank you though...I'm just glad you're okay."
Simon did his best to seem casual as he stepped forward and introduced himself and Kaylee. He gave himself a fake name, worried a man in the market for gold would know the name Doctor Simon Tam from the bounty on his head. After a brief moment of small talk, Simon seemed to fall well enough into character. With enough effort he could almost believe that he was here to consider haggling for medical supplies.
But Simon wasn't suited for haggling. Though confident, he didn't know what to do next. That's when Kaylee grew wings and became his angel for bringing up the transporter. It would get the heat off Simon's head for a moment at least. He let his eyes glance to the alleyways, hoping to see the others drive out with the goods. Nothing.
It didn't help that the man's gaze had gone from looking deadly to hungry now that he was talking to Kaylee. For a moment, he turned back to Simon. "I'll tell you what," he started. "You can have whatever medical mumbo-jumbo you want if you give me an hour with your lady friend," he said, mostly as a joke, but Simon could see the coldness in his eyes.
Simon clenched his jaw, trying not to let his anger rule him. "It's credits or nothing at all," he finally replied, stepping closer to Kaylee. There was a long moment of silence. Then the man laughed heartily, as if it had all been in good fun.
"Alright, alright. Let me show you the goods."
Finally, Simon saw the others riding out from between the alleyway and down the street in the other direction to avoid detection, the crates of loot covered up with a tarp.
Simon looked back to the man who seemed eager now to make some money.
"Sorry," Simon said. "We've changed our minds." He turned to leave, resting a hand on Kaylee's back to both shield and usher her back to the ship.
It seemed the seller wasn't having it. He reached out and grabbed Simon on the shoulder, turning him around again. "Hey, you can't back out of a deal just because someone got a little friendly with your-"
Simon felt his knuckles aching before he even knew he'd thrown a punch. He cursed and cradled his hand. This wasn't the first time he's punched someone. But it was the first time he'd punched stupidly, using his knuckles to cause more damage. Of course this man was bigger than him and even though he'd given him a bloody nose, he'd gone and pissed him off. Simon hit the ground, lip bloody, face full of dirt.
"No prissy city boy punches me and gets away with it," he heard as he tried to stand.
Surely the others had made it back to the ship by then. They weren't going to take it straight to Badger until it was darker. Surely they'd notice Simon and Kaylee weren't back yet. Surely they'd come looking-
Simon did his best to fight back, but his only expertise was surprise punches. While a fight was going he was really only as good as a punching bag. He heard Kaylee's voice, but it sounded distant. Every time he would stand up, he'd be knocked down again. He tried all the dirty tricks. He even tried flinging dirt in the man's face. But nothing was taking him down.
Until someone fired a shot. Both of them stopped fighting.
"You really shouldn't hit doctors." It was Mal. "Bad luck."
"Is it, sir?" Zoe this time, cocking her shot gun.
"Something like that," the captain replied.
In a few short moments the seller had backed off and Simon was being helped to his feet. He felt the blood drip down from his cracked lip to his chin. Felt the bruises forming on his cheek and everywhere else he'd been hit. And together the group walked off as if nothing had happened.
It wasn't until they'd made it back to Serenity that Mal turned on him.
"What the hell was that about? What about 'under cover' didn't you understand?"
"It wasn't going well," Simon replied shortly. "And then he started eyeing Kaylee-"
"Wait, you tryin' to tell me [i you] started that scuffle?"
Simon didn't reply. No amount of explaining could clarify what had just happened to Mal. Hell, it hardly made sense to him. It all happened so fast.
"Go get yourself cleaned up," Mal finally added before walking away, leaving Simon and Kaylee.
He reached up to touch his lip, his fingers coming away with blood. But that didn't hurt nearly as much as his wounded pride. Get beat up in front of Kaylee? Yeah, that was definitely on his to-do list.
It was one thing when they were calling on crazy maneuvers to escape or coming in half bleeding to death. It was another to strand there in the front. Kaylee could feel her heart squeezing on itself in fright. While not able to take Simon's hand, she stepped closer. Unconciously she took his smell in, the subtle cologne and fresh clothes. Giving a small smile to herself she looked towards him then the man.
The talk was basic, the man didn't seem impressed. Kaylee watched as his movements frankly scared. When the attention would turn to her, she stiffened.
It wasn't enough time. Looking in the background she saw a transporter, one of the older ones. Asking about it keenly, she enjoyed the surprise in his face.
Mal, Zoey and Jayne needed to hurry. Glancing to Simon she knew the machine talk would do the job.
Simon smiled even wider at Kaylee's expression of love and adoration for the ship. He loved how she talked about it. Like it was a living, breathing being. And in many ways, Serenity was. But he was sure he wouldn't have realized that without Kaylee there to bring it to light.
"I wouldn't worry," Simon told her, looking back at the Firefly. "Too much," he added, mostly as a joke.
Together, they set off after the captain. They caught up quick enough, though mostly because Mal stopped to wait. He was getting that look. The impatient one where his nostrils flared.
"If it's all the same to you," Mal said, "I'd like to get this over with."
"Sorry," Simon offered, half genuine.
The three of them made their way down a few side streets, the dust kicking up under their feet. Simon's good shoes would need a good polish after this. If he even decided to bother anymore...
Mal stopped suddenly and nodded towards a large, metal building. "That there is the warehouse. Goods are inside. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out what's what. I'll go 'round back, meet Zoe and Jayne. That fella out front,, he's the seller, he's the one you need to chat with."
Suddenly Simon was feeling queezy. Mal could tell. He slapped him on the back. "You'll do fine. Just tell him you heard he's got medical supplies and that you're interested. Chances are he's not wanting to pay to have them shipped, so he'll be all about it."
And just like that the Captain went heading down another side street, leaving Simon and Kaylee alone to fend for themselves.
"I guess... this is it," Simon said, his eyes a bit wider than usual. "I'll just. Walk up to him. I guess." And yet he couldn't seem to move. The seller was intimidating. Tall and bearded. The only comfort Simon had was that the man didn't look like he would know too much about what he was selling. Maybe this would be easier than he thought. Simon swallowed.
Then he took a step forward.
And there was that grin and reassuring words. The ones that Kaylee most admired. Most could talk until they were blue to comfort someone, with Simon it took a smile and two sentences. Simon's presence itself was reassuring. Others would say awkward, they just didn't understand like she did.
Giving Simon a bright smile, she attempted to not to play with the skirt. Maybe her old clothing was not glamorous like the rest of Inara's clothes, but they were much more comfortable.
"Right, that seems good. This can't be too hard, can it?" Kaylee asked. If someone was optimistic enough they could do it. "I'm not, mostly. It's good to get off this boat. I just hope they treat Serenity okay...she's temperamental."
Patting her frame three times with affection and that dewy smile. Stepping into the sunlight made her blink. It wasn't often they landed for a while. "Lead the way," she said glancing back to the boat, attempting to not be as nervous as she was.
Together, after Mal's scolding, Simon and Kaylee set off and down the ramp together, following behind. Simon couldn't decide what to do with his hands, so he put them in his pockets as they strolled.
He liked this. Just the two of them, walking in as much comfort as they both would subconsciously allow. It also felt strange since in the past they had been completely open with each other. Like when he got embarrassingly drunk with her, told her he thought she was pretty, and proceeded to make an even bigger fool of himself. Or when they sat on the couch, Kaylee's legs stretched over his lap, talking about his past life and how he wasn't as proper as she thought he was.
Where was that guy when Simon needed him?
His thoughts were cut short when Kaylee looked over to him. "That's okay," Simon replied. "Just follow my lead. I'll do all the talking. If he gets friendly with you, we'll redirect him. I really just needed someone to be another set of eyes. The more pressure he's under, the less likely he is to ruin the plan. I-" he paused, walking a few paces, keeping his eyes on Mal's back so they wouldn't lose him. "I'm sorry you got wrapped up in this." He glanced her way to offer her an apologetic smile. "[i Hell]," he cursed in Chinese for once, "I'm sorry [i I] managed to get wrapped up in this," he added, giving her one of his grins.
When Inara came in flowing robes, she was embodiment of elegance. The silk might as well have been second skin and her walk was pure grace. Never once did that chin drop, dark eyes full of mystery and reassurance. Kaylee was certain that there was sadness in them more often than not as of now. Kaylee wanted to imagine herself with that confidence instead she felt as if she was wearing a costume.
It was more difficult to walk in the skirt, and the corners of the shirt rubbed her neck. Her hands, though looked smooth, was thick due to her work, making it easier. Even her knees had the faint marks of what she did.
Clothes didn't change a girl, just hide her true self if she let them.
Kaylee looked to Simon, stunned at the compliment. Only once had be called her anything of the sort. In these clothes she didn't feel it. Unable to form a proper she gave a smile to him. Luckily Zoe made it so she didn't have to say anything.
"Captain, we had lessons on how to talk and act last time. Kaylee doesn't have either," Zoe pointed out, looking to her thoughtfully.
"I can catch on plenty fine," Kaylee said, before biting her lip at realizing that Simon never talked like that. "Well, I can at least try."
It was certainly awkward enough for both without words. She followed suit, questions coming to mind before the words ran dry in that second. Settling on the question she looked to Simon. "I don't know how we're supposed to pull this off. I don't sound nothing like you or know the tools you use."
Or any secrets. The only things she knew was what he let come out once in a while, while she was an open book on her life.
The others had set to getting the transportation ready. Jayne was going to go ahead and park the rig towards the back of the warehouse ahead of time. The ramp lowered and he was gone within minutes.
Simon had begun to pace. He was really regretting not getting enough sleep the night before. He felt spaced out.
"Where is that girl?" Mal muttered, hands on his hips, impatient.
Simon was just about to reply with one of his usual sarcastic statements, but he noticed Mal's eyes went to the door behind him. A look of surprise came over the captain, but the man managed to compose himself.
"Well, Kaylee. I'm glad you found something to wear. I was afraid you'd come out here in that frilly pink dress," Mal said, joking as he did.
Simon turned at her entrance. His mouth fell open and he blinked a few times. To Simon, Kaylee was always stunning. Even with grease in her hair and her patched up coveralls. To see her dressed like... He swallowed. Mal turned and made for the ramp.
Simon cleared his throat and made an awkward gesure with his hand until it finally came to rest at the back of his neck.
"You- uh-" he started. "You look... really... nice," was all he managed to say. Where were all the words that went buzzing through his head when he saw her? Like 'breathtaking' and 'beautiful' and 'I-really-wish-I-had-the-guts-to-kiss-you'?
"Stop ogling, Doc," came Malcolm's voice, breaking him out of his staring contest with Kaylee. "We've got places to be, people to rob, you know how it is."
Simon quickly averted his gaze, slightly ashamed to be called out. Not ashamed enough to regret, but just enough to tint his cheeks pink. "We should..." he started, gesturing towards the ramp, at a loss for words. Kaylee would be a distraction for sure...
When the muffled intercom sounded she was taking out the oil pan, and placing a recycled filter in. It was possible to do so, it was just difficult. Oil was all over her arms, in her hair and face. It didn't bother her none. From the age she could crawl she was playing in oil and machines with her dad. There hadn't been brothers, cousins, or anyone. Just her and she was happy in this spot. It was a good spot.
With the machine purring contently, Kaylee was happy as could be. Then came the announcement. What was the Captain thinking? Working with Simon on a heist. As an assistant. She didn't even know what most of the equipment was.
This was it though. A chance to get to see his world, have him see her...Using her elbow to press the button she gave a cheery response before moving to Inara's shuttle.
Inara looked to her in dismay, having heard that announcement. "Oh, honey, you really can't go like that. Come on...I might...have something for you."
Kaylee missed her skeptism almost entirely before giving a bright smile. "Inara you really are the best," Kaylee grinned. Inara helped her wash up, use some dry shampoo that worked wonders. There were many beautiful dresses, but nurses didn't wear those. Somewhere in the corners of the closet was a black skirt with silver and gray flowers. The blouse was something that looked like central planets wore. Looking to herself in the mirror she didn't recognize herself, she looked like them.
"Here Captain," Kaylee said, just as they were landing. Leaving Serenity was something akin to leaving a child in the hands of a baby sitter. Anything could happen in this short time.
In the hour it took them to break atmo, Simon filled River in on what was happening. She rolled her eyes at needing baby sitters, but she didn't protest, knowing Simon would do anything to make sure she was okay, even if it meant sacrificing her sanity. He did cave, however, to letting her off the ship. He told her to stick close and for Inara and Book to not take their eyes off her for a second. There was more eye rolling, but Simon was in charge, after all.
The rest of the time he took to get more information out of Mal, who he followed around the ship like a lost puppy.
"Why does it matter? Just keep him talking long enough to-" Mal started, but Simon cut him off.
"I can't just... keep him talking. If he gets bored of me, he's going to suspect. It's Persephone, afterall."
"Well, then, if you're the expert, what do you need?" Mal asked, getting grumpy as he always did before a heist.
"I can't do this alone. I need someone with me. If it's more than me staring the seller down then he's less likely to get suspicious. No doctor wanders around Persephone by themselves. I need- an assistant of sorts."
By now they'd made it to Wash's side in the cockpit to watch them land. Mal seemed annoyed at this change of plan, but he was in one of his rare moods when he would rather not argue the point of it. He reached up to grab the mic for the intercom.
"Kaylee, change of plan," the Captain's voice echoed through the ship. "You're playing nurse for the doctor. You've got ten minutes to get yourself looking respectable enough." He said all this while looking Simon right in the eyes. When he hung the mic up, Mal added, "Might be better this way. If he gets bored of your pretty face, at least Kaylee's will offer a nice distraction."
Simon was appalled. They were making their decent and landing. Malcolm walked out to get ready to leave and Simon followed, his mouth hanging open. "Kaylee? But she- You can't just-"
"I just did."
Mal turned on his heel and came nose to nose with Simon, fire in his eyes. "She'll do whatever you tell her to."
Simon's eyes narrowed, staring him back down. "I'm not going to ask her to- to flirt with-! If you wanted someone to manipulate a man why not ask Inara?"
Mal turned again, as he always did when Inara was brought up. "Because she's watching your sister. And Kaylee looks far more believable as a nurse."
"I never said it had to be a nurse," Simon argued, knowing it was pointless, but feeling like he had to fight for Kaylee anyway. "Besides, what makes you think Kaylee would want to-"
They felt the slight rattle of Serenity as they touched land.
By now they were in the cargo hold and Mal began to ignore him, choosing instead to yell instructions at Jayne and Zoe.
Simon crossed his arms and brooded, waiting for Kaylee to show up. He had to admit that he was glad it would be her. She may be the source for much of his anxiety, but when they were thrown together like this, somehow she helped him focus more. As if failing would mean he would also be letting her down. And he never wanted that...
There wasn't a single person here that didn't understand the importance of this mission. This boat relied on luck and quick skills. Kaylee liked to think it ran on love, though others would disagree. It was logical to Kaylee. People here loved each other, they were family. They fought and protected themselves like family. Even Jayne, though it wasn't always so obvious.
Kaylee listened, already knowing what would be required of her. Often she stayed with Serenity, only coming out every so often to stretch her legs. Serenity was her home and heart.
Catching the look, she gave a little smile, before going back to neutral. Last time had been terrifying, they almost lost Simon and River to Jayne's treachery.
"Kaylee, I need you to make sure everything run smooth in case-" Mal started.
"Goes wrong, yes, Captain," Kaylee nodded.
"I was going to say gets interesting," Mal said before nodding. "Also, the convoy needs a tune up."
Kaylee gave a bright nod, loving her machine. It would distract her from the worry for Simon and the others, especially Simon. Kaylee was still cleaning up when Simon came out. Smiling in appreciation at the outfit, though this morning was just fine, as well.
After the few dishes, she went to change into the ones that was worn and greasy. The hover was particularly messy. Her normal had three patches, this one was just a plain brown one with some holes beginning to fray.
Pulling out her tools with love, she went to the bay and ran her hand over the smooth metal, hearing it speak to her.
Simon looked at Kaylee from under his brows in that oddly bashful way he had. She was truly one of the most care free people he'd ever met and part of him wondered how she managed it. What must is it be like? But in the house he grew up in, you always said please and thank you, you always tucked in your shirt, and you never, [i ever] spat out the food your sister attempted to make for you.
His heart sank when he heard Mal approach. He was finally getting used to being alone with Kaylee again.
After Mal came Zoe. The rest of the crew trickled in slowly after Mal called them all to the kitchen through the intercom. Truthfully he only called for Wash and Jayne, but the rest of them came in to see what the fuss was about. Once everyone was standing around, Simon realized he was the only one still in his sweatpants and he hated every moment of it. Even though he knew no one would care, he cared.
He tried to slink away, to find where River might be hiding now, assuming this plan would have nothing to do with him. He would learn where they were headed from someone else. But Mal's voice called him back.
"Hold up, Doctor. We're gonna need you to make this all go right."
Simon stopped in his tracks and slowly turned back to the group. His mouth hung open as it always did when he was planning to say something, but couldn't quite get the words out. Finally, he managed. "I think I made it pretty clear that I don't do well with... field work."
"Maybe," Mal replied. "But it ain't mud we're pretending to buy this time. It's medical equipment. We need someone who knows the jargon. Talk up the seller a bit while we slip in the back and take the goods."
Simon had a small flash back to when he rescued River. He'd been undercover then, and they bought it because he knew the language. He could do it again, he supposed. But that was his sister and more was on the line. Of course he would have done anything. But now...? Could he pull his weight?
"What kind of equipment? And where from?" Simon asked, all business.
"We're headed back to Persephone as we speak. Should be about an hour or so," Mal replied.
"Badger? Again, Sir?" Zoe didn't seem happy with this.
Mal glanced at her. "Work is slow, so we gotta take what we can get." That was that. No one wanted to argue. He turned back to Simon. "Dunno what all it is. Just some of the usual things you find in a hospital I expect. They're being shipped to the core planets soon. Not well guarded. Stored in a warehouse not far from Badger himself. Figured it'd be easy enough. Find the goods, get them to Badger, get paid."
Simon wasn't going to mention that whenever Mal expected something to be easy, that usually wasn't the case. He just exchanged a look with Kaylee, before looked back to Mal.
"Fine. I'll need someone to look after River, though."
"I can do that," Inara spoke up for the first time.
"I can help," Shepherd Book added.
Simon knew that some of the crew had come to adore River, but he still couldn't believe their kindness, sometimes. He thanked them before turning once again. He headed back to his room. River was across the hall, her door open. She was doodling in her sketchbook again. Simon looked at her for a moment before dipping inside his room to change.
When he emerged, he looked much more like himself. His dark hair was pushed out of his face and he was wearing one of his usual combinations of a dress shirt and a patterned vest. Today it was the blue one. If he was going to have to look like a rich doctor, he might as well wear his best vest. It brought out the blue in his eyes.
It confounded Kaylee about what people said about other people. There had been one off the wall comment directed towards Simon and River. Jayne personally chose her sex life to comment about- always with that same look. It was all apart of being on the same boat for extended periods of time, on the fringe just waiting for something to happen, or sometimes not wanting that something to happen.
Whatever the others thought, Kaylee loved Simon's sense of humor, dry as it was there was wry humor to it. Kaylee gave a bright smile. "The usual crime, as always. Maybe he likes the pain...I don't know..."
There was the show of watching Simon take a bite, immediately Kaylee could tell that he didn't like it. As always, he told her something kind and River was filled with glee. It wasn't many that had a golden heart like Simon did.
"You can spit it out in front of me, doesn't bother me none," Kaylee stood up. He wasn't going to, she knew that, but it would be better if he did.
Going to the kitchen she started to find some form of food. Protein, in various forms, none of it good. Still, she selected some and began before hearing the footsteps down the stairs.
"Here comes the Captain," Kaylee said before there was Mal followed by Zoe. There would be details on the heist, as soon as the others slowly trickled into the dining room area.
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