Summary: Simon and Kaylee, seen through the eyes of an outsider.
Author's note: As the narrative is presented through the thoughts of a young woman it is mostly composed of disjointed memories, digressions, and sentence fragments. I hope it is not too difficult to read. It takes place anytime after "Shindig" in season one, simply because of a passing reference to "the dress."
Spoilers: If you've ever seen an episode of Firefly you probably observed that Kaylee likes Simon. If you haven't, I apologize profusely for giving away that subtly disguised piece of information.
Disclaimer: I am Joss Whedon, Lord and Master of the Firefly 'verse, lowering myself to write fanfic for the amusement of the legions of Firefly deprived. What? Oh, that's right. Sorry. I'm a just a poor penniless student with delusions of grandeur. Please don't sue.
Feedback: Please. This is my first Firefly fic and I'm going it alone and un-beta-ed, so please, be ruthless, but constructive.
She wasn't fooled by the mask.
Though it did impress her to see how a simple strip of black cloth could transform his face from that of a fugitive into just another young gentleman with that contradictory air of familiarity and mysteriousness that seemed to permeate high society.
But he couldn't hide from her.
She had gazed into those eyes for countless hours under the brilliant sun of the Osiris sky, under the harsh fluorescent glare of cafeteria lights, through inky darkness that wrapped them like the blankets of the bed they shared on their countless, singular nights together.
She had gazed into those eyes so long that she would know them anywhere.
But none of that mattered now.
He had fled their room in the night while she slept, leaving all their formerly shared possessions and many of his own behind along with a brief note. A simple, apologetic letter that she had wanted to burn but couldn't. She had read it often at first - searching for something between the lines until she had memorized all his words - then less, until finally she was able to put it away with all his other things in a box, under her bed, labeled "Simon."
She hadn't shown the letter to the agents when they had come to question her. She didn't consider it any of their business. Besides which, it wouldn't have told them anything they didn't already know. That he was going to get his sister, that they were going into hiding, that she would never see him again. That he was sorry. But not sorry enough to stay.
When they asked her why she thought he had left she told them it was another woman. The story checked out because it was true. He had charged off to be someone else's knight in armor and left her with a broken heart.
And now here he was again. He hadn't come back for her; that was certain. He hadn't even spotted her through the clouds of similarly attired masked ladies floating around the ballroom. She knew why he was here.
Besides being the social event of the season, the ball was being held at the home of a prominent neurologist. A home that contained the doctor's private office, which contained his private computer, which contained summaries of his private and to Simon, if his claims about River and the Academy were true, endlessly useful research. She didn't suppose he would have much trouble gaining access. The few guards stationed around the ballroom were mostly for show as the good doctor would never expect his invited guests to trespass about his home. The heavy security was stationed around the entrance, which Simon had swept through as escort to a pretty young girl in a ridiculous dress who had been introduced as Kaywinnit Lee Frye. Miss Frye was said to have debuted at a ball a few months back on Persephone, where she had made quite a splash with the menfolk with her cheerful disposition and mechanical know-how.
Both attributes she was putting to good use at the moment, diverting the attention the hall guard, as well as many other men in her immediate vicinity and by extension that of their dates, with shop-talk, while Simon slipped down the corridor unnoticed.
She studied the girl in Simon's absence. She was definitely a beauty, though it was more of an energy that made her so, rather than any tangible physical feature. Her glow was slightly dampened in Simon's absence, but whether it was nervousness in her own role or worry on Simon's behalf it was hard to say. Who she really was and why she would do this for Simon was also unclear. Aiding a fugitive in illegal activities was hardly a fitting pastime for such a seemingly innocent young girl. Why would she risk it? Was she doing it for money, for the thrill? Or did she love him? And more importantly, did he love her?
It was hard to imagine - her Simon with this simple, common-born girl. How could they be together when they were so obviously different? Her own romance with Simon had been so expected it was nearly a foregone conclusion, which in retrospect was hardly romantic at all. She was a perfectly beautiful, well-bred, intelligent woman of sufficient standing and independent means. He was a prominent and successful man. They were well matched and a lovely couple, besides. Everyone said because that was what everyone saw. It didn't matter to anyone but her that Simon was also clever and kind and handsome, or that she loved him. But as long as their parents and society as a whole approved of their engagement, people were willing to overlook that kind of frivolity.
Everyone was happy. Everyone but her and Simon.
She truly believed he had loved her once, but Simon loved in degrees, and whether they had been married fifty years or still in the spring of their passion he would never love her more than River. She was always second to his baby sister who in Simon's eyes could do no wrong and though she understood, she could never forgive him that.
But maybe this girl could. Perhaps her simplicity, her genuineness could ground him, could soothe his ever-troubled mind. Perhaps she could accept his conspiracy theories and divided attentions and it would be enough. And perhaps, God willing, the three of them would live happily ever after - Simon needed someone to look after him and this girl seemed as nice as any. She doubted it, but she hoped.
Simon's return interrupted her musings. He was wearing one of his rare smiles - flashing those dimples for the world to see - his objective obviously achieved. The girl grinned back with something like pride while a ridiculous neon sign flashed above her head: "I'm in love! I'm in love!" God help her.
Simon stole her away from her captive audience and led her through the door. Suddenly, as if sensing her gaze, the girl turned and looked at her. The green eyes behind the ornate beaded mask meeting her own. Not searching, not questioning; just seeing. There was no moment of recognition nor of rivalry. The girl simply saw her and smiled and was gone.