Standing a few feet away from Serenity, Simon stared up at the ship that had become his home over the last two years, clutching his newly acquired packages. He thought of the first time he had seen it and, more importantly, the beautiful woman sunning herself in front of it. In that moment, even though he had feared for the life and safety of his sister, he had been overwhelmed by the beauty and warmth emanating from her. It was the real reason that he’d chose the ship – he’d admit that now – and felt that it was still one of the single most important decision he’d ever made. Not only had it saved his sister’s life, but had brought him a happiness he didn’t know was possible – Kaylee.
He couldn’t help but sigh at the thought of his beautiful lover. Ever since Miranda, the Operative, and facing their deaths at the hands of dozens of Reavers, he and Kaylee had quickly shifted into the romantic relationship that they had been dancing around for months. Within a few months they had begun sharing a bed and then a crew bunk on Mal’s insistence and now Simon hoped it was time to take yet another step.
“Am I getting a sister finally?” River jolted Simon out of his thoughts.
He looked at her annoyed. “Sometimes I hate having a Reader for a sister.” He wrapped his arm around her. “There is no such thing as secrets.”
River smiled at him knowingly. “Your secret is safe is with me, just don’t wuss out, you boob. I’ve always wanted a sister.”
Leaning against the doorway of the engine room, Simon watched Kaylee with her coveralls tied around her waist carefully tuning some piece of Serenity. She hummed tunelessly to herself, grinning for no reason. Simon watched her for a moment before disrupting the peaceful scene.
“Excuse me, Kaylee. I was wondering how would you feel about a starlit picnic this evening?”
She immediately looked up at him, her smile brightening. “Oh, hey there. A picnic, you say?” she walked over to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him softly. “Now where and why would we be havin’ a starlit picnic this evening?”
“I figured since we were planetside tonight, we might as well enjoy the fresh air and the stars.” He kissed again gently. “As to where, Serenity has a lovely view and Mal is fine with us having a picnic on the hull.”
“Well, I guess since you’ve gone to all this plannin’, I’d be awfully rude to not accept your invite.”
“Excellent, then I will see you at dinner time.” He gave her another soft kiss and walked away without another word, leaving Kaylee grinning even wider.
Simon waited nervously on the hull for the sound of Kaylee’s footsteps on the ladder. He looked over his preparations and touched the small packaged in his pocket for the hundredth time that day. He wiped his hands on his pants again and paced along the hull for a moment before he finally heard Kaylee coming up the ladder.
“Oh, my goodness,” she exclaimed when she saw the picnic Simon had set up for the two of them. “I didn’t know we were gettin’ all fancy. I would have at least changed out my coveralls.” She stepped out on the hull and apologetically gestured down to her coveralls which were, as usual, covered in engine grease.
Simon laughed, his nervousness vanishing for a moment at the site of her. “I’m glad you didn’t. Like I drunkenly told you ages ago, I think you’re especially pretty when you’re covered in engine grease.” He reached out his hand to grasp hers and sat down on the picnic blanket spread out on Serenity. For a moment, Kaylee just took in the romantic picnic he’d set up – an simple blanket with a little candle that River had picked up at some point, and small jar with some wildflowers. In the three nicest bowls Simon could find in Serenity’s galley he had laid out a simple spread of cheeses and fresh fruit, including a huge stack of strawberries. It wasn’t by any means extravagant, but in her eyes it was one of the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.
“Simon, it’s wonderful. Thank you.” She leaned over and kissed him gently.
He smiled widely at her. “You’re wonderful. Now let’s eat.”
“It gives me the willies, knowing the Doc and Kaylee are up on top of the ship,” Jayne huffed as he sat down at the table with his dinner, staring at the ceiling.
“They are having a picnic, of some kind or another, and the good Doctor has specifically asked for a spot of privacy and I’m aimin’ to give it to them. And I don’t see why that’s any concern of yours, Jayne.” Mal took a bite and gave Jayne his ‘this-conversation-is-finished’ look.
Inara smiled at the spot Jayne was still glowering at. “I think it’s marvelous that even out here on the Rim, away from everything, Simon still takes the time to give Kaylee a little romance. She deserves it.”
Jayne grumbled. “I still don’t like the idea of them doin’ stuff on the ship.”
The whole table slowly began to snicker before it grew into full blown laughter. Mal finally got his breath and looked squarely at Jayne. “I don’t see what’s the big difference between ‘on’ and ‘in’ –“
“ – And, lord know they do plenty ‘in’ the ship,” Zoe finished for him. “Plus,” she said suddenly very serious, “if you have any intentions of botherin’ those two you’ll have to get through me first.”
“And me,” River said without looking from her dinner. “Simon and Kaylee need some alone time and you will not be interrupting it.”
Jayne looked back and forth between Zoe feeding Felicity, whispering sweet nothings to her, and River humming as she ate her dinner before looking up at Mal and Inara. “What‘s concernin’ me, is that I don’t know which one of them to be more scared of.”
Mal laughed. “Then I suggest you sit there, finish your supper, and leave the Doc and lil’ Kaylee alone.”
“So, what’s with all the fancy, Simon? Are we celebrating somethin’?” Kaylee asked taking a large bite out of her orange slice.
Simon took a deep breath and smiled nervously. “Yes, I am actually celebrating something quite important today. Two years ago today, in the last place I ever expected it, I found my true home.”
“Wow,” Kaylee reached out and squeezed his hand, “has it been really been two years since you come on board Serenity here?”
“Yes, two years to the day, but that’s not what we’re celebrating. I did come on aboard Serenity on that day, but more importantly I met you.” Simon pushed up on his knees, shifted closer to Kaylee and took both of her hands in his lap. “You have become my home, the place where I feel safe, loved, and needed, more so than anywhere else in the verse - and yes, before you ask that includes the hospital. I want to always have you to come home to, so Kaylee, will you do me the great honor of being my wife? Now before you answer –“
“Yes!” Kaylee jumped up and hugged Simon tightly around the neck. “Yes!”
Simon couldn’t help but hug her back, but after a moment he gently pushed her away, his face very serious. “Kaylee, you need to understand that I’m still a wanted fugitive, so we could never apply for a legal license and I will never be able to marry you properly. I want you to be my wife in every other way, and I will love and honor you the rest of my days but I understand if-“
“Simon, you shagua,” Kaylee stroked his cheek as a tear slipped down her own. “Two years out here in the Black and you still think everything has to be done proper. To be married out here, we just need to say ‘I marry you’ and have a preacher agree with us. That’s all I need. We don’t need a piece of paper to prove we love each other and want to spend the rest of our time in this verse together.”
Simon finally let himself smile. “So, it’s still yes, even though you’ll be marrying a fugitive?”
“Yes,” Kaylee said beaming back at him, “because as far as wanted men go-“
With that Simon descended on her with all the love, relief, and joy he felt in that moment. Showering her with kisses he pushed her back onto the hull of Serenity as they laughed against each other’s lips. For moment they lost themselves in each other as they so often did these days. Simon was constantly amazed the passion Kaylee poured into everything – every kiss, every touch, every word, every gesture – and how it awoke in him something that he has never known he possessed. His whole life, he’d been told how to behave and be proper, but her delight and enthusiasm for every bit of life that seemed to set him free. He had never been so happy and it had everything to do with this amazing woman he held in his arms.
“Ni tai bangle,” Simon whispered as he kissed Kaylee one final time and sat back on his heels, racking has hands over his flushed face. “But before I forget, I have something for you.” He reached into his pocket suddenly nervous again. “It’s not a traditional engagement present, but I figured with you working with your hands so much a ring didn’t really make sense and then I saw this,” he carefully emptied the small bag and held it up for Kaylee to see, “and had to get it for you.”
She carefully reached up and touched the pendant hanging between Simon’s hands. On the end of a short chain was a heart cut out of a bright red coupler link. The metal was red, like a strawberry, and a small pattern was stamped into it from its former use. The design was simple, crude even, a piece of broken ship engine, but in all its simplicity and beauty it captured so much of what made Kaylee brilliant.
“Simon, it’s…shiny,” she smiled through the tears trickling down her face.
“I’m glad you like it. Here let me put it on for you.” He carefully placed the necklace around her neck and then gently stroked the heart as it settled on her skin. He swallowed carefully, still staring at the heart pendant. “Kaylee, I love you so much. I hope you know that. You’ve taken what should been one of the most awful things to have ever happened to me and made it into the thing I am most grateful for.”
“I love you too, Simon” she laughed, wiping a few tears away. “And yeah, I got a pretty good idea of how much you love me. I mean you did just ask me to be your wife.” She paused as the reality of her own joke sunk in. “Oh, my god, we’re getting married!” A blinding smile overwhelmed her face.
“Yes. Yes we are.” Simon laughed, laying back down on the blanket and pulling Kaylee with him as a joyous laughter overtook them both. They just laughed for a moment, basking in the happiness that was overwhelming them, before a comfortable silence fell over them as they settled into each other’s arms.
Kaylee lay there for a moment content to be Simon’s arms, staring up at the stars. “So, do the others know?” she asked suddenly.
“No,” Simon smiled knowing how much she would want to tell them, “except for River because it’s all I’ve thought about for two weeks. She’s probably getting sick hearing about it.”
“Well, I think the others will be hurt if we keep this happy news from them too long.” Kaylee hopped up and began putting the stuff from the picnic away.
“Yes and I’d rather do it now before Mal can space me.”
Mal and the crew were just finishing dinner when River hopped up from her chair without warning. “Important moments require bubbles and laughter.” She looked seriously at the crew. “No one move. I’ll be right back with bubbles.” Without another word she skipped off towards her bunk.
“Lil’ Albatross is one hell of a pilot, but I will never get used to her announcements,” Mal said shaking his head.
“At least it seems to be good news - all this talk of bubbles and laughter. Not exactly the stuff of gloom and doom,” Zoe laughed.
At that moment River re-entered the room in a flurry clutching a bundle to her chest. “Bubbles and laughter. That should do the trick.” She walked over to the Mal and sat the package down gently. “Keep an eye on this, but no touching - it will spoil the important moment,” she told Mal seriously and then started taking their cups without a word.
Jayne snatched his away before she could grab it away. “What do you need my cup for?”
River gave him a sharp look. “You need a clean cup.” She held out her hand silently demanding it. Not wanting to tangle with the Reader, Jayne finished its contents and handed it to her slowly. Once she had it, she was a flurry of throwing cups in the sink and going through the galley cabinets until she’s found seven cups that suited her and had placed them around the table. All of this was done with a great amount of giggling and muttering.
“So, Lil’ Albatross, when can I open this little surprise?” Mal asked pointing to the package.
“Just wait. There’s an important moment coming.”
Almost on cue, the crew heard a pair of hurried footsteps down the corridor. Simon and Kaylee burst into the common room a moment later both flushed and grinning like fools. They stopped when they saw everyone still sitting around the supper table and gave each other a nervous, excited look.
“So,” Simon started and then took a deep breath, “Kaylee and I have some important news to share with all of you -”
“We’re getting married!” Kaylee exclaimed.
River immediately launched herself at the pair hugging them both close, with Inara one step being her. Jayne grumbled something inaudible and dished out a second helping of dinner. Lifting Felicity into her lap, Zoe smiled and congratulated the young couple, while fighting back her own tears and memories of Wash overwhelmed her. Mal sat quietly watching the young couple with an unreadable expression.
Finally after the noise had calmed a bit, Mal finally stood and stared Simon down. “So, you’re fixin’ to marry my mechanic?” Everyone went silent.
Simon cleared his throat. “Yes, Captain.”
“And you plan on doin’ right by her and keepin’ her happy and shiny?”
“I will do everything in my power to make sure she never wants for anything including love and happiness.”
A grin finally slipped on to Mal’s face. “Good. Because I would hate to have to interrupt dinner by flying into orbit and spacing you.” He extended his hand to Simon. “Congrats, Doc. You’ve got yourself quite the woman.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more, Captain.” Simon hugged Kaylee closer to him and planted a kiss on the top of her head.
Now that everything was settled, Inara turned back to the table seriously. “Now this happy news calls from some celebrating. Mal, do we have anything around here to toast the happy couple?”
All at once, River’s early mutterings made sense. “I believe Lil’ Albatross made certain of it.” Without even looking at the girl for confirmation, Mal opened the package in front of him to reveal a cheap bottle of Shimmer Wine.
“River,” Simon started, “thank you.” He hugged his sister close. “I guess there are certain perks to having a Reader for sister.”
“I didn’t do it for you, boob,” she smiled slyly, “I’m celebrating the fact that I have a sister now and not just a boob of a brother.”
Mal laughed loudly. “She’s got you there, Doc. Now let’s crack open this Shimmer because as Lil’ Albatross says, important moments call for bubbles and laughter.”