Simon wrinkled his nose as they walked into the dark, dusty little bar. Jayne, all smiles, sidled right up to the barkeep and ordered a drink, appreciatively eyeing one of the woman casually leaning against the counter.
The rest of the crew, minus Wash and River, found a table near the back and sat down, each eyeing the patrons and the surroundings with wary eyes.
"We've truly sunk to the depths of hell," Simon muttered as he rested his hands in his lap. The table was dirty and sticky and even though he had shed his very formal clothes over the last few months, he still didn't want his less fancy fits to be ruined by this unique little hellhole.
"Now, now, doctor, say that too loud," Mal glanced around the doom at the unsavory patrons, unable to hide the small grin that formed at the corner of his lips, "an you might just get 'nother hole shot into that lily-white skin."
Kaylee gaped at the thinly veiled threat and reached down to pat Simon's hand, bringing her own awfully close to his groin. "Aw, don't worry none, Simon. Cap'n just mad an he's takin' it out on you."
Simon bit back the retort waiting on his lips and shifted his eyes to Kaylee. It never ceased to amaze him how he could loose himself in her reassuring and confident smile. Her hand on his forearm drove him to incredible distraction and after a long moment he dropped his other hand on top of hers, smiling warmly.
"Yeah. Right then." Mal rolled his eyes in the opposite direction, tired of the hesitant back and forth going on between Kaylee and Simon. The boy was getting bolder, not only with Kaylee, but with everything, and Mal didn't like being challenged at nearly every turn.
"Findin' our contact in this place is gonna be all manner of fun." He slapped the table to break the younger couple's attention and their eyes snapped away from each other toward the Captain.
"Keep an eye out. He's supposed to be a big man with a scar down the left side of his face. "
Kaylee hid a frown as she stood, reluctantly releasing Simon's arm. "I'm gonna get us somethin' ta drink."
Before Simon could decline, she was gone, bouncing up to the bar with far too much energy. His eyes followed her swaying backside as she walked, and not for the first time did he wonder why he hadn't yet kissed her. She'd broken down his resolve time and time again, and after he'd been shot, they'd spent much more time together, growing even closer despite his increasingly deteriorating relationship with the Captain.
But something, some stupid sense of propriety, kept them apart. As he watched her order the drinks, he thought back to the last time they were in a bar together. He didn't remember what happened – much of it anyway, but he'd woken up with her on top of him, and he knew if they'd lingered in that position for too long, she'd have discovered just how much he did want her.
Simon's eyes narrowed as he watched a man approach Kaylee, appreciating her backside as he leaned against the counter next to her.
Jayne stood nearby, flirting with some two bit whore, paying no attention to Kaylee and the man beside her.
Simon watched for a few more seconds as Kaylee's smile disappeared and she reached for the two mugs. But when the man's hands covered her wrists, Simon pushed himself to his feet, drawing Mal and Zoe's attention to his swift movement.
"What –" Mal began, following Simon's eyeline. Before he could even stand, Simon marched toward the mechanic, his jaw set.
Zoe raised an eyebrow at the normally passive doctor's bold move. "You may have been right about Simon getting his lily-white skin bruised." She indicated the large man with an arch of her neck.
Mal tensed. "Man lays a hand on lil' Kaylee, I'll lay 'em out before the docs top three percent can figure out the best way to immobilize 'em."
"How about you let Simon take care of it this time? Boy doesn't move fast enough, we're there." Zoe suggested, eyes not wavering from the sight at the bar. But even the first mate didn't have much confidence in the doctor's ability to deter the much larger man and so let her hand slide to the firearm strapped to her leg.
"No," Kaylee said a bit more forcefully to the man.
Just as Simon reached her, Jayne turned around and stared at the man holding Kaylee's wrists. "Somethin' happenin' here?"
"Kaylee?" Simon asked, eyes not moving from her face.
"Hey! You guys get your own," the stranger said with a slur. "This one's mine."
"She doesn't belong to anyone. Let her go," Simon said with more force and determination than either Jayne or Kaylee had ever heard.
Jayne sneered at the smaller man and then returned his gaze to the drunken man still holding Kaylee's wrists. "You heard the pretty boy, let 'er go."
The stranger scowled at Jayne, unwilling to back down. "You got yourself a whore an' the pretty boy can probably get anyone in the place. This one's mine."
"Kaylee is no whore," Simon said, reaching for her elbow.
"I tol ya," the man released Kaylee's wrists but immediately put his hands on her waist and pulled her back against him. "Get yer own." He smelled her hair. "I want 'er for the whole night. Ya can have 'er when I's done."
The fear in Kaylee's eyes and the disgust on her face were all Simon and Jayne needed to act. Simon reached for her hand as Jayne reached for one of the large paws wrapped around Kaylee's waist. As Jayne pulled back hard on that wrist, it was enough to distract the stranger and Simon pulled Kaylee quickly out of the man's arms.
They moved a good distance away as the big lug swung at Jayne, and missed, giving the mercenary a very open window to land a good solid punch to the man's face, then his gut, dropping him to the floor. Clearly used to such fights breaking out, the patrons watched with interest and then frowned when the fight ended abruptly.
Jayne looked around the room, his eyes issuing a challenge to anyone who might want to continue the fight. With a smirk, he glanced over to Kaylee and then sneered at how close she was standing to the doc when the boy hadn't done anything but pull her out of the way. But then he was distracted again by smooth fingers brushing across his arm and he returned his attentions to his flirtatious whore.
"Are you all right?" Simon asked, his eyes sweeping across Kaylee's face. He held her forearms to steady her, and it was difficult to concentrate as she rested her hands on his chest.
"Shiny, Simon." She smiled brightly at him and his heart leapt to his throat. "Thanks for the rescue."
Simon felt guilty for not really doing anything. "Well, it was Jayne who –"
Kaylee shrugged and arched her neck toward Jayne and the whore at the bar. "I'm sure she'll thank 'em 'nough."
Simon chuckled and let his gaze linger on her face, the noise in the bar fading as their eyes locked.
"You were real brave standin' up to 'em like that." Kaylee glanced down at the floor where the unconscious man still lay. "Coulda messed up your pretty face again."
Simon smiled hesitantly, remembering the last time, when she'd wanted him to be tougher, more steely. He certainly didn't enjoy being called pretty but he also knew that he'd let Kaylee call him anything she wanted.
"Sure you're not hurt?" Simon silently cursed himself for letting his medical instincts override his concern for her safety.
She leaned closer, further into his personal space, and gave him the brightest smile he'd ever seen.
If he didn't know better, he thought she was going to kiss him. Fleetingly, he hoped she would. He certainly hadn't done very well in the initiating of anything but a stilted conversation between them. Even their talks about his time at MedAcad were begun by her prodding him for more information about his past life.
"It's all good, Simon."
"Good," he smiled as he searched her face. She was so close, her lips parted in a sexy smile that made him simply want to kiss that pretty mouth.
"All right, now that we've had ourselves a little fun –" Mal made his way to Simon and Kaylee's side, smirking when the younger man jerked sway as if he'd been caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
Zoe approached more slowly, still glancing around the bar to make sure no one else decided they wanted a fight.
"They had the fun, Sir. We sat and watched."
Mal scowled at Zoe. "Yeah. Yeah. As I was sayin', now that you've had yourselves a little fun, we need to find our man. There's been enough propositionin' for the night," he stared at Simon, still holding Kaylee, albeit now at arms length. "Unless you're workin' yourself up to somethin', doc."
Simon flushed as a million responses raced through his head, and not one of them could he push through his gaping mouth.
"Yeah, didn't think so." Mal looked around the room, completely missing the encouraging smile Kaylee shot Simon. "Let's collect Jayne before he pays for her services. We ain't here for him to whore his way through the bar."
As they all moved toward Jayne, Mal caught sight of the man still lying unconscious at Jayne's feet. With a groan and an annoyed huff, he stopped Zoe and indicated the man's face – and the scar running the length of the left side.
"Ai ya huai le," Mal muttered, glaring at Jayne's back.
Ai ya huai le - shit on my head
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