Here's a tiny little thing I whipped up for a challenge over on LiveJournal awhile back. I was digging through the big blue W the other day and stumbled across it, so here goes. Of course, there's Mal and Kaylee, because I just love those two crazy kids. Read, review, blah blah blah. Not mine-- don't sue.

Monsters in the Dark


Early was a monster.

He came onto his ship uninvited, shot the doc, knocked the preacher out cold, and he'd practically reduced his mechanic to a whimpering child.

Mal doesn't like uninvited guests.

He remembers how River's plan had worked. Remembers the ship going dark and his hatch unlocking. Sneaking out and backing out of sight.

Remembers finding Kaylee.

Huddled around the corner, knees drawn up to her chest, biting her lip. Trying to hide. Watching him with terrified eyes as he turned. She'd reached one hand out to him, silently beckoning.


He'd gone to her, taken the offered hand and tried to make her stand up. She couldn't be here. Early would see.

She refused to come out of her huddle. "River got you out." Voice trembling. "I'm sorry."

"You got nothin' to be sorry for. Get up."

"No, I can't, he'll find me," she whispered, tears glistening in the dark. "He said he was gonna hurt me if I did anythin' to mess up his plans, asked if I ever been ra--"

She couldn't finish. Her face crumpled and she took her hand from his, covering her mouth to quiet her sobs.

"I know. I heard." He knew she saw the danger in his eyes, heard the murder in his hushed voice.

He had to be careful. If he went off half-cocked and tried to take Early again, he'd be put down in a heartbeat, probably along with the doc.

Kaylee's death wouldn't be so quick or merciful.

"Don't let him get me," she begged past her hand. "Please don't let him get me."

Monsters in the dark. Pretend they're not there, hide under the covers and they'll go away.

"Shh," he soothed. "You just don't worry 'bout him none, mei-mei. You been brave and done your part, now let me do mine, dong ma? Everything's gonna be just fine."

She shook her head and stifled a bitter laugh. "I'm so scared I near pissed myself openin' your bunk. I ain't brave."

"Hey, now, there'll be none of that. Bein' brave is bein' afraid and doing what you gotta do anyway." He took her hand again, claiming the other one as well. "Look at me, I've been scared since he came aboard, but I've got crew to watch over. Gotta make sure we're all safe."

She finally let him pull her to her feet. "He said he was gonna hurt Serenity. Pull her parts off."

"I'll make sure he can't," was his soft reply. He'd heard that, too, while half-conscious on the floor of his bunk. "Nobody threatens my two favorite girls in the 'verse and gets away with it."

She graced the dim corridor with a tearful smile.

Atta girl.

Even monsters could be hurt. Hell, they could be jettisoned into the deep black of space with a well-placed shove.