Kaylee winced involuntarily as Inara traced the bruise on her jaw with her fingertips, careful not to hurt her mechanic. The bruise was an unfortunate end result of a bar brawl they had been involved in on the piece of rock they had landed on hours ago. Trade had gone south, way south and it wasn’t even their fault, well not entirely their fault. Inara hadn’t bought their story one bit, nor was she entirely convinced that Simon had been the only one who had mildly provoked the locals. There was no way in hell that Mal, Kaylee, Jayne and Zoë had just been innocent bystanders but it didn’t really matter since all of them carried the results of their trade-gone-wrong-outing.
Kaylee knew Inara wasn’t convinced by their innocence. She had even told her about the heroics Simon had performed when the now toothless man had hit her in the face. She had assured Inara the guy was probably trying to locate his precious teeth, and would have to scoop them up from the bar’s floor. Though she was sure that she too would be hurt for a couple more days as the bruise was probably going to be having all the colors of the rainbow before disappearing. And while the ice pack to her cheek helped a little, it was Inara’s caressing that made it all better again.
When her thoughts drifted towards Simon, a small smile formed as she remembered how cute he had looked, all flustered from running back to the mule. It had sort of been his fault trade had gone wrong to begin with. He hadn’t even had to open his mouth to say one wrong word or make an out-of-place cussing which he didn’t generally do anyway. The locals had just been offended by his uptightness. And of course, Jayne had to agree with them which only made the situation more explosive than it already was.
The moment they had arrived back at Serenity he had told Captain Reynolds in no uncertain terms he would no longer be available as ‘buyer' come next trading mission. Kaylee chuckled softly as she remembered Mal nodding in earnest, shrugging his shoulders as soon as Simon had disappeared out of sight. He would have made a clean getaway as well as Simon if it hadn’t been for the small amount of blood on her face, which hadn’t gone unnoticed by her lover upon their return. Kaylee hadn't heard much of their animated conversation since she had been busy making fun of Simon's bad luck, with a few of Jayne’s well placed comments as added bonus. It was only after she had heard her name being mentioned several times that she turned back to them, noticing that Mal retreated with a scowl on his face and Inara glaring after him, clear that he had gotten a warning not to put her favorite and only mechanic of the Serenity in jeopardy like that ever again.
"Kaylee?" She blinked out of her reverie upon hearing Inara’s caring voice. "What's on your mind?" She looked up to find her favorite sweet brown eyes stare back at her and smiled.
She shook her head in reply. "Nothin'."
Inara seemed to settle with the answer but knew pretty well what kept the little one's mind so busy sometimes.
"Hello ladies." Shepherd Book entered the area and smiled at them. "Shall I prepare us a meal?" He disappeared in the kitchen and soon he was making something that would do for a dinner.
By the time Book was ready, Kaylee called the others dinner was ready, taking her seat at the table the moment they all joined them in the kitchen. Her seat was at the end of the table, in between her two favorite people, and yet she felt incredibly awkward. She shivered as she could feel Simon stare at her, whether intentional or not it freaked her out at times. She knew he harbored feelings for her, like she had for him at one time.
Kaylee had given him so many opportunities to express his feelings for her but in the end he had waited too long and she had drifted into Inara's loving embrace. She had been having feelings for both of them for quite a while, and since Simon didn't seem to notice those feelings, she had made her choice. She loved Inara unconditionally and with all her heart, just like she did Serenity. She felt safe and secure with both of them. Simon was a good friend she knew she could trust with her life, like he had proven when he had treated her attacker with one hell of an uppercut, but that was all there was, trust and friendship, nothing more.
There was some shuffling of feet, and the next moment Simon cleared his throat and his stare was gone. Inara patted her hand and smiled, ensuring her that he wouldn't be doing any staring any time soon again.