Title: Things Change In the Blink of an Eye

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Firefly.

Author's Notes: This is a missing scene that revolves around the SHIP that I personally saw in the first ep and have run with since then.

Malcolm Reynolds pulled up a stool and sat, his eyes solemn as he lifted Kaywinnit Lee "Kaylee" Frye's hand in his. He closed his other large hand over her tiny one and rubbed lightly. Her hands were too cold. She was too cold, too still. Mal blinked away tears that were forming as his gaze focused on her serene face. There were a few smudges from working on the Serenity's engines. He rose and walked over to the sink, warming the water as best he could and dampening a rag, his mind wandering.

"You think I wouldn't shoot a Shepherd? Back off!" Dobson said, his gun trained on Shepherd Book.

"Take the kid!" Mal said, grabbing Simon Tam's arm.

"Get your hands off me!" Simon struggled against Mal's hold.

"Stand the hell down!" Dobson ordered.

"What is--" Kaylee had started as she rounded the hall corner into the cargo bay, Jayne Cobb behind her. Everything happened in slow motion and yet incredibly fast as Dobson's arm came around, the shot was fired and Kaylee cried out in pain as her stomach was pierced...

Mal swallowed and turned back to where she lay on the bed in medical. He pushed back a few strands of the dark hair that surrounded her face. With as gentle of a touch as he could, he began to wipe the smudges from her face. His eyes looked over her features. Mal knew Kaylee was attractive, it was hard not to, but at the same time he often found it hard to view Kaylee as a woman rather than a girl. With a woman like Inara Serra on board, a woman who's entire occupation was based on appearance, Kaylee was overlooked. Zoe Washburn's beauty came from her strength as well as physical looks. Mal's fingertip came into contact with the silkiness of Kaylee's cheek.

"I never saw... never realized..." Mal whispered, his voice rough from unshed tears. "Come back, Mei-mei."

Mal skidded a halt beside Kaylee, Simon already unzipping her jumpsuit to reveal the gut shot she had received. His heart physically ached when he saw the wound. "How do you feel?" Simon was asking Kaylee.

"A little odd," Kaylee admitted. "Why did he--?" Simon parted the folds of her jumpsuit and looked at the wound.

Mal swallowed hard. "Oh, wow. That ain't hardly a mosquito bite," he said trying to sound strong.

"Big mosquito," Kaylee said.

Mal held Kaylee's hand again, watching her breathe. He lifted her hand to his lips and pressed his lips to her skin as his eyes closed. A tear slid from his lashes, hanging precariously off his cheekbone before dropping to her skin and sliding to her wrist. He was shaking as he remember how he could have lost her.

"She's dying," Simon said, standing defiantly.

"You're not gonna let her," Mal said.

"Yes, I am," Simon said.

"No, you can't," Mal said hotly, desperately. He stood to face off with Simon.

"No way the feds will let us walk," Zoe put in.

"Then we dump him in a shuttle and leave him," Mal said.

"Everybody's so mad," Kaylee said, her words cutting into Mal's heart.

"It's okay, Mei-mei," Inara said, looking at Mal.

"Do you know what a stomach wound does to a person?" Simon asked.

"I surely do," Mal said.

"Then you know how crucial the next few minutes are," Simon said. Then DO something, Mal wanted to shout.

"You let her die, you'll never make it to the feds," Zoe said.

"She'll still be dead," Simon said to her.

"You rich kids," Mal spat. "You think your lives are the only things that matter. What'd you do? Kill your folks for the family fortune?"

"I don't kill people," Simon said.

"Then do your job!" Mal snapped.

"Turn the ship around," Simon spat.

"Enough!" Inara snapped as she stood. "Mal, do it."

"Don't you ever tell me what to do on--," Mal started to retort, incensed that Inara had the audacity to tell him what to do. Then Kaylee cried out in pain and he realized what he could lose if he let his stubborness win. He looked at Simon.

"Zoe,change course," he said.

"I'm sorry, Mei-mei," Mal whispered against her hand. "I shouldn't be so stubborn. I almost cost you your life." He looked up at the woman that snuck into his and captured his heart so easily. He thought he only viewed her as a sister, a constant light in his life every time he returned to Serenity, but now he knew that she was so much more, would be so much more always.

"Come back to me, Kaylee."