Finger Lickin' Good: Variation on a Fruit Theme

Summary: Simon secretly watches Kaylee eat a peach.

Disclaimer: I do not own Firefly or any of the characters, so please don't sue me. My lawyer only handles criminal charges

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"Here you are, Mei mei. I brought back a little something especially for you." Inara smiles with her ruby lips as she withdraws a silken wrapped ball from her bag, presenting it with flourish to Kaylee.

"Oh, 'Nara, you shouldn' have! I don't need no presents," Kaylee replied, eyeing the aqua-colored bundle in Inara's outstretched palm.

"Come now, Mei mei. It's just a little indulgence for you. Take it or you'll hurt my feelings." With that she pulls Kaylee's hands to her and gently deposits the gift in them.

"Oh the material is so pretty…" she says with barely a whisper.

"You can use it to tie up your hair once you're done with the contents."

"Ain't got no place to wear silk in my hair, 'Nara." Kaylee playfully rolls her eyes for the Companion.

"Of course you do. You can wear it when we're in port; it matches that adorable mandarin jacket you have."

"If Kaylee doesn't want it can I wear it in my hair?" Wash asks as he approaches the girls in the cargo bay from the infirmary, the doctor a few steps behind him. He runs his un-bandaged hand through his wild mane, wearing a look that is entirely too serious for his comment.

Inara chuckles but Kaylee narrows her eyes and pouts at him. "Touch it and I've half a mind to shove you in the turbines."

"Half? That'd be generous if you were Jayne," muses Simon. Kaylee shoots the doctor a goofy mega-watt smile as Inara and Wash exchange knowing glances.

"Good one, doc. I knew you could be funny if you put your mind to it," the young mechanic teases.

"Do you think I'm getting better?" he smiles back. Kaylee's smiles are contagious.

"Well you're a much better doctor than a comedian. Still, that's saying a lot," Wash offers, holding up his gauze-wrapped hand.

Concern crosses Inara's face, "Wash, what happened to your hand?"

"Nothing too serious. Serenity bit me," he explains as he scrutinizes the doctor's handiwork.

Kaylee didn't miss a beat, "That's 'cause our girl likes me best."

Wash feigns deep thought before answering, "You're probably right. You don't try to burn her crispy on reentry just to impress a certain warrior wife. Kid patched me up just dandy, though, so no complaints." With that he playfully claps Simon on the back, sending him forward a step.

"I'm just doing my job." Simon recovers from the blow then curiously eyes the bundle Kaylee cradles in her hands. "What do you have there, Kaylee?"

Kaylee's eyes light up as she redirects her attention to her package. "'Nara brought me a present back from Xandia. I haven't peeked yet."

"Well come on girl, time's a wastin'!" Wash exclaims. Kaylee gives Inara one final mischievous glance before carefully peeling back the top-most corner of material, exposing a soft pink and yellow ball. She pulls back the next corner then squeals with delight, throwing her arms around Inara's neck.

"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…! Thanks, 'Nara! It's beautiful!" she says from over the Companion's shoulder.

"What is it?" Simon asks, a bit confused.

Kaylee disengages herself from around Inara to show off her prize. She brings her hand in front of the doctor and peels back the blue silk to reveal a perfectly round, perfectly ripe, softball-sized peach.

"My…" Simon musters, having appropriated a new appreciation for fresh produce on a seldom-docked, pseudo-renegade spaceship.

"Where's my present?" Wash whines, seeing the luscious fruit.

"Zoe told me you've been naughty," Inara replied, smiling like a Cheshire cat.

"Damn that woman and her honest ways!" Wash stalks off to find his wife in order to assault her with affection, throwing over his shoulder, "We lift off in two hours, people!"

As Wash disappears, Inara readies to leave as well. "I must prepare my shuttle for take-off."

Kaylee hugs the woman around the waist once more, "Thanks Inara. You're the best."

The Companion wraps her arms around the girl to return a little squeeze before stepping back. "You deserve it, my dear. Have fun you two," and she makes her exit, leaving Simon and Kaylee alone in the cargo bay.

"So…"

"So…" Simon mirrors back uncomfortably. There is a long pregnant pause before he finally speaks again. "I, uh, have to get back to the infirmary. Wash made a bit of a mess in there before I could help him out."

"Oh, yeah. Sure…" Kaylee agrees hastily.

"You'll be okay by yourself?" Simon asks, feeling a bit foolish for his rapid retreat.

"Oh yeah. No problem," She assures him. "I've got things to check on 'for we take off."

"Okay then."

"Okay."

"Bye."

"Bye."

Simon finally turns around and walks back to the infirmary, cursing his inability to socialize with the fairer sex, particularly the lady he has just turned his back on. Kaylee is left to get better acquainted with her "gift."

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After about ten minutes Simon has reclaimed his infirmary from the frenzy that was hurricane Wash. His supplies and utensils are newly cleaned and stowed and his counters and examination table once again gleam with sterility. His little cleaning fit has boosted his ego to the point where he considers hazarding another conversation with the whimsical mechanic he left in the cargo bay. By now she must have made her way to the engine room to see to the pre-flight checklist.

He pads soundlessly out of the infirmary and is about to touch the first of the metal steps when he is halted by the sound of a feminine sigh. He freezes, knee bent, foot in the air, to pinpoint the source of the sound. His pause is rewarded with the sound of a slow intake of breath followed by another delicate exhalation. What is that?

Simon silently walks through the shadows towards the noise and enters the cargo bay once again. He unconsciously conceals himself behind the stacked shipping crates as he makes his way towards the bay doors.

There, atop a stack of crates located just a couple of yards from the open doors, sits Kaylee. The sleeves of her coveralls are pooled around her waist exposing bare arms and her favorite flowered tank, no doubt to take advantage of any breeze from outside that might make its way into the ship's hold. One booted foot is tucked under her leg and the other dangles lazily over the edge of her perch. She sits just within the sun's reach, its rays warming her hair to a shiny bronze. Her eyes are closed and she is holding her peach under her nose, taking long, languorous whiffs. Has she been sniffing that fruit for the past ten minutes?

She answers by lowering her head to gently brush her nose across the soft, fuzzy skin of the fruit, unconsciously giggling at the tickle. She then sweeps it lightly across her cheek, reveling in the feel of it, before returning it under her nose.

The beauty in this simple act steals Simon's breath and captures his full attention. Back on Osiris and in the Core, where fruit was considered a staple rather than a delicacy, Simon had never paid so much attention to a single item of food before. The clinician in him observes how very similarly the skin of a peach resembles the human variety- supple and pliant, yet still firm and easily bruised. The carnal male in him longs to feel which skin is softer. This girl's worshipful act triggers his imagination in a whole new way.

Kaylee finally opens her eyes to visually appraise the peach, having satisfied herself with its perfume. Simon ducks back a little but never loses sight of the girl and her prize. He watches her eyes dance over every surface of the orb, as if memorizing it. This doesn't take nearly as long, the fragrant whiffs having undoubtedly whetted her appetite.

Slowly and with great care, she sets her top teeth against the skin and slowly yet painstakingly peels a section from the flesh. Her mouth closes and begins to move, making the most interesting faces from the nose down. He realizes that she is flipping the freshly peeled skin around between her tongue and teeth, and then mincing it to swallow. The satisfied smile that stretches across her face reaches all the way up to her hair. She repeats this ritual on a new surface of the fruit, reveling in the smell and taste.

Once she has denuded a tongue-wide portion of the peach she closes her lips around the flesh and sucks some of the juice into her mouth. Her eyes roll in delight as the nectar floods her taste buds. After a moment of savoring she finally takes a tentative bite of the flesh, working it slowly in her mouth.

Simon concentrates on not blinking as the blood rushes from his head to lower parts of his body. He's never seen anything like… this before.

After that taste, Kaylee can't resist taking another bite, leading with her bottom teeth this time. Juice spreads across her lips and a tiny wet bead trickles from the corner of her mouth, down her chin to hover at the point of her jaw line. She swipes at it with a finger before it can dribble down her neck to her… Gorram, Simon, get control of yourself!

She continues ever so slowly with her peeling and nipping routine, unconsciously uttering little mews of pleasure from some region in the back of her throat. Fleshy strands stick to her lips, and she stares off at nothing, instead concentrating on flexing her tongue and other mouth muscles to contend with the threads caught in her teeth.

Another line of juice trickles down her thumb, diverging around the web to drip into her palm and draw a line along the back of her hand. She switches the fruit to her other hand while she chases the errant drops with her mouth. She audibly slurps the puddle of golden liquid out of her cupped palm and flips her hand to trace the trail of nectar across the back with her outstretched tongue. She wraps her mouth around her entire thumb, forming an 'O' then proceeds to suck slowly from the base all the way to the tip of the nail.

Simon watches with bated breath as Kaylee moves methodically around the entire peach- hands and mouth collaborating with a recognized surgical precision which he can appreciate. No doubt her fingering skills came from being elbow-deep in the belly of a starship's engine, and he smiles at his new appreciation for her work.

When she finishes with the flesh she sucks on parts of the pit, working her teeth to cajole the stubborn stone to yield up all its goodness. The jagged red lump then disappears whole in her mouth, Kaylee sucks on it like a jawbreaker. Now that she is no longer distracted by the sweet pulp she looks down with dismay at her reddened fingertips; the stone has bled, staining her digits.

She temporarily sets aside the pit in the silk wrapping in her lap and puts the first fingertip into her mouth, raking it across her teeth and viciously running her tongue over the stained finger pad. After a moment she draws the finger out to inspect it and Simon notices it is moist and plump for her oral ministrations. Seemingly satisfied, she moves on to the next fingertip and the next, appraising each before tending to it and moving on.

Simon has been staring transfixed the whole time, entirely unaware that his mouth is gaping. He is indeed so distracted that he doesn't hear Jayne come up behind him until the mercenary slaps him on the back, bringing him out of his reverie.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" Then he follows the doctor's gaze to see Kaylee attending to the last of her fingers. He sniffs the air and Simon realizes that this end of the cargo bay must smell entirely of Kaylee's peach.

"Fruit again? Hell, we should sell tickets, make some money off that little show," he muses, elbowing Simon in the ribs. Then he gives up their location, "Hey Kaylee, was it good?"

"Better'n sex!" she hollers back looking down at Jayne. When her eyes fall on Simon the blush rising in her cheeks soon rivals the red of her previously stained fingers.

"I doubt that, sweety. But hey, whatever lubes your chassis, right doc?" and Jayne snickers at a very shocked Simon. The girls blush deepens, if that's even possible, and the mercenary meanders off to get into some kind of trouble or another.

Having been discovered, Simon tries to play off his embarrassment. "Was that the peach Inara gave you?"

"Yeah, they're almost my favorite," she gushes, holding up the now clean and dry stone. He walks over to take a closer look, not entirely sure why he's so interested in a simple peach pit. When he reaches her perch he notes how from here she smells like engines and fresh peaches. He thinks it just might be his new favorite smell.

"Did you know that the inside of peach pits naturally contain cyanide?" He's not sure why he said it and when Kaylee quirks a quizzical eyebrow at him he hastily adds, "But don't worry- It won't kill you." He then mentally berates himself for such a foolish statement. My social ineptitude knows no boundaries…

Still, Kaylee's answer both surprises and pleases him. "Well, dyin' would definitely suck, but as long as I got to finish the fruit first I'd die a very happy woman."

Simon opens his mouth but has absolutely no response for such an intriguing statement. Luckily the captain's booming voice saves him from further potential embarrassment. "Kaylee!"

Both look up to the catwalk to find Mal leaning over the railing, bellowing for his mechanic. "Kaylee! Are my engines set to jet?"

"Um, not quite Capt'n." She shoots Simon a conspiratorial smirk.

"Well shake a tail feather, Gorramit! We need to be ready to scoot out'a here, girl!" As Mal's gaze settles on the girl's precarious perch on their client's cargo he furrows his brows. "What're you doin', anyway?"

She sighs in frustration before offering, "I was havin' a snack, if that's alright." Simon mentally chuckles at the understatement of the century.

"It's not. Work comes before your belly, little girl, no matter how cute it may be." His last words tell Kaylee that Mal is just giving her a hard time for the fun of it. She sticks her stained and well exercised tongue out at her captain, and then turns her attention to the doctor.

"Simon, a little help, please?"

He looks over at her baffled, until he realizes that she is asking for assistance to get down. "Oh, of course!" and he springs into action, placing his hands gently yet firmly on her waist. She grabs his shoulders and at her nod he lifts her from the crates, placing her gently on her feet. When she giggles the scent of the now vanished peach surrounds them both and Simon must resist the urge to inhale all the perfumed oxygen in their immediate vicinity. "How did you get up there anyway?"

"Silly. Gettin' up is way easier 'n gettin' down." He knows she was perfectly capable of making it down her self, but doesn't mind the excuse to put his hands on her or have her touch him. She shoots him another one of those mega-watt Kaylee smiles, "Thanks doc."

At that she scampers a couple of feet before turning on her heels and tossing Simon the stone. He instinctively catches it and looks up at her, confused. "If you have time you should look into grown a bunch of these trees. I sure wouldn' mind eatin' peaches like that every day!" She turns around and jogs up the stairs towards the engine room, shoving the blue square of silk into her pocket.

And I sure wouldn't mind watching you eat them every day… he thinks to himself.

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A/N: Yes, I know Kaylee likes strawberries, but this hit me during lunch today and I just had to write it. Please read and review! I'd love to know how this is received!

:Holds up cheeky sign 'will work for reviews!':