Most of the Chinese should be understandable in context, but one line that does require translation is the infamous "fuck everyone in the universe to death" line. You should know it when you get to it.

It was dark in the cell, and Malcolm Reynolds was wishing he was trapped there with... well, just about anyone other than little Kaylee. Not to say that the ship's mechanic was bad company, mind, but if there were both to be dying in the morning, he'd have preferred someone a little more deserving. Man ought to have some company on the way to Hell, he thought, and he didn't think that would be a trip Kaylee'd be making.

She was staying mighty calm, though. At least he could give her that. Of course, that might just have been because of a little misconception she'd been laboring under.

"The others know where we are, right?" she asked, trying to keep her voice from shaking. "They'll be coming for us real soon."

Being a man of... well, dubious honor, if he was to be honest, when someone gave him the choice between crushing a little girl's hopes with the truth and lying to keep her happy so she'd have her hopes crushed a little later, Mal took the only option available to him: he said nothing.

"They ain't coming," she said, voice gone dull and empty.

"They'll be trying," he responded, grudgingly. "'Course, all the trying in the world ain't gonna help them if they got no idea where we are."

He shifted a little, trying to ease his injured leg. The bullet to the thigh wouldn't kill him, but the loss of mobility might, if he couldn't get them out of there by dawn. And hey, it was only a completely dark cell... In a guarded building... That not even he knew where it was...

Okay, they were well and truly humped.

"Nothin' in here to pick the lock," she said. "Already tried it, but I got nothing to work with..." Her voice was a flat, dead thing, and it was all Mal could do to keep from crying himself, because nothing in all the 'verse should make little Kaylee sound like that.

He slid himself a little closer to Kaylee, and wo de ma, that made his leg hurt, but there wasn't nothing to be done about it, anyhow. Better to give what comfort he could.

And then his arm was around her shoulders, pulling her close. Funny how he'd never noticed just what a tiny thing she was, but with her head tucked against his shoulder and the rest of her pressed against him as well as she could, it was a mite hard not to. Just the smallest little thing, his mechanic, and there wasn't any gorram justice in the 'verse, her being here with him, but right now, that didn't matter, either.

Her and him and hours left to go, and it was the most natural thing for a hand to work itself into her hair, sweat-sticky and streaked with engine grease from her brushing it out of her eyes, but where it wasn't all sweat and grease it was soft as a kitten's fur. He thought he could smell a hint of artificial strawberry in her hair, under the sweat and grease and the smell of girl, and it was almost enough to make him smile, Kaylee and her strawberries.


And that was when he noticed the shaking of her shoulders. It wasn't any big stretch to imagine she was leaking from the eyes a bit, and that, he wouldn't have, not while he was still alive to call himself a man and a captain.

"Kaywinnit Lee Frye," he said, a bit proud his voice stayed as steady as it did, "you stop that."

"But Captain..." she said, sniffing a little.

"Don't you 'but Captain' me. We still ain't out of this, and when I finally get us out with some daring plan or another, how you think it's gonna look, me with my coat all tearstained? A man's gotta save the day with some dignity, don't he?

"That crying ain't helping no one, so you stop it right now." He congratulated himself on staying firm. In control. Captainly.

He could feel her moving to wipe her eyes. "So what kind of plans you got so far?"

"Well... daring ones!" So what if he wasn't too clear on the specifics?

She made a little noise that was like a laugh and a sob all mixed up, and he moved to pet her hair again, only to find lips pressed up against his, soft and wet and salty.

Huh, he thought. Never been kissed by my mechanic before, which was followed by I wonder if that engine smell ever goes away, and shortly after that by This is little Kaylee kissing me, and I do appear to be kissing her back, which was enough to make him pull away, just a bit, breathe a name against her lips that was more than half apology.


She cut him off. "Dying's a lonesome thing, ain't it, Captain?"

That was where a good man would reassure her, but he wasn't a good man. No man who'd seen as much as he had stayed good, and with that one question, he was seeing it all again.

"Dying's the most lonesome thing there is," he whispered.

"Then let me be a little less lonesome right now? Please?"

Son, you ever come up against a situation where odds are good you're gonna die, and someone offers you a simple bit of human kindness, you take it, and to hell with what happens later. Every man dies alone, but there's no shame in being a little less alone in the waiting. The man who'd told him that had been his drill instructor, a salty old hun dan who'd tried in vain to pound some sense into idealistic young idiots like himself.

The last Mal saw of him -- or the half of him that was left -- he had been bleeding to death in a ditch, courtesy of the Alliance. Mal had had plenty of time to wonder if he'd gotten that kindness then. Probably not. There wasn't much kindness left by then, on either side.

And when she put it that way, he couldn't refuse. Couldn't say yes, either. So he kissed her again, and this time she wasn't his mechanic or even little Kaylee, but just this: human to human, woman to man, another lonesome soldier, and to all the hells with the rest of it.

If he thought of her as Kaylee, he'd also have to be thinking of the fact that Kaylee could kiss like she did, that she knew how to move against him in ways that made him gasp and curse and pull her closer until -- Lao tian ye...! -- that would be his leg, which in the current state of things had a somewhat largish hole in it.

Kaylee pulled away soon as she heard the pain in his voice, leaning over him from a safe distance, her lips still finding their way to his between whispers of "Sorry, Captain," those genius hands of hers doing things across his chest and lower that told him she still aimed to make him forget he had legs at all.

Kaylee, he realized dimly, was the kind of girl who got what she aimed to get.

The cell was just big enough for a body to lay down, and she helped him move so they could both take best advantage of that space, her over him until she pulled away, leaving him staring into the dark on his back, biting back a groan from moving the leg again... And he had reason to be quiet. He could hear the soft rustle of cloth in the dark, and it didn't take much imagination to know what she was doing.

Mal had been accused of many things, most of them truer than he'd like to admit, but no one ever said he was lacking in imagination. His brain was only too happy to paint him a picture of just what was happening in that one particular patch of dark, and it was enough of a distraction from the leg for him to more or less block everything else out.

It wasn't but a few moments before there were hands on the front of his pants again, and a part of him wondered if Kaylee'd become part cat without him knowing, her hands sure and steady like she was seeing him clear as day.

He reached up, fingers brushing skin, filling his hands with her, and if his touch wasn't quite as gentle, it wasn't any less sure as hers, stroking skin softer than he'd ever have believed from the calluses on her hands. He followed the soft skin of her her hips up, cupping each curve, filling his hands with her breasts and rolling the nipples between his fingers 'til her lips were on his again, and his arms were full of squirming, sighing womanflesh, pressed close to him. He was hardly even noticing the smell of grease and metal hanging around her, wondering how on any possible Earth he could ignore the too-familiar girlsmell that clung to her, made him kiss her all the deeper.

It had been a gorram long time, but he figured he still knew his way around a woman well enough, and the little noises she made seemed to prove him right on that count, anyhow. Her hands made their way back to his pants, and when they parted cloth and touched him hard and ready beneath (and pain or not, she'd made damn sure he did neither of them a disservice there) he groaned for a reason as had nothing at all to do with his leg.

"Permission to continue, Cap'n?" There was a little bit of a laugh in her words, her touch gone teasing-soft against him, and he smiled through gritted teeth, the last of his guilt evaporating. Nothing in the 'verse could make him think wrong of this, with Kaylee sounding as she did.

"Zhen mei naixing de Fozu, yes, permission granted! Carry on!"

She did laugh, then, and with another few quick strokes from a calloused hand, she was over him and he was in her, and he found himself having to invent a few new phrases for just how it felt, her soft and hot and wet around him, knowing they were both to die in just a few hours, but at the moment, God in Heaven, they lived. She moved over him slick and squirmy as a whole bucket of eels, and he pulled her down, kissing deep and biting at her lips, both of them making soft, hungry, urgent sounds.

His face was wet, and he didn't know which of them was crying just then, and didn't much care, shifting in response to the warning twinge in his leg, levering up on his good leg to thrust up inside her. And yeah, that was a good sound she made, his hips rising automatically to see if he could get her to make it again, still crushing her against him, not willing to let go for all the riches in all the 'verse.

They moved together, Mal absurdly grateful for the pain in his leg, for all that he'd never been too quick on the trigger... Again, it had been a long time, and the distraction of that bullet wound was more of a help than he'd have thought. Didn't even hurt so much, come to think of it, and he'd taken worse.

His hands roamed her back, feeling muscles shift and bunch with every movement, listening to the noises the two of them were making now, like animals in rut. Which, he thought, wryly, they both were and weren't. Nothing more animal than this, but nothing more human, neither.

Any further musings as to the human condition were cut short by the way she gasped and shuddered over him, a pleading whine in the back of her throat. He worked a hand between them, fingers searching where their bodies joined for one little button of flesh, and then she was crying out softly, clenching around him tight as she could. He bit back a gasp of his own, thrusting up harder and faster, and the screaming pain of his leg was nothing to what came next, his own finish racing through him and leaving him completely spent, sprawled bonelessly on the floor.

Kaylee clung to him still, and they had to have fallen asleep at some point, because next thing he knew the door was sliding open, and that light in his eyes rutting hurt. He squinted into it, just a mite embarrassed at being caught with his pants down, literally and figuratively, what with his mechanic sprawled naked on top of him, and him completely at a loss for a plan, daring or otherwise. Might as well expect the worst.

Only the worst wasn't near as bad as this.

"We interrupting you, Captain? We can always come back later, if you need more time." The silhouette in the doorway had resolved itself into something tall and female. There couldn't be a better or worse sight in all of space right then, to his mind.

"Ni tama de. Tianxia suoyou de ren. Dou gaisi!"

"Looks like you already made a start on that," Jayne said, poking his head around the side of the door.

No, he was wrong. There was a worse sight, and he'd just seen it.

Kaylee stirred finally, blinking up at him. "We dead yet, Captain?"

"No one's dying today. Cavalry's here," he said, brushing her hair out of her eyes.

"Oh." She blinked up at him, then turned to look at Zoe and Jayne. "You found us!"

"And I'm wondering how exactly it is you did that. Not that I'm complaining, mind," Mal broke in.

"Didn't think you would, sir," Zoe said, shoving Jayne back into the hall, out of sight of the doorway. "There's a tracking device in your coat."

"You put a tracker in my coat?" He stared at her, incredulous.

"Only on account of you occasionally being an idiot, sir."

"Oh. Well, then."

Kaylee climbed off him, giving him a chance to fix his pants for the first time, as she scampered about the room, gathering her clothing. It occurred to Mal that perhaps the gentlemanly thing to do would be to offer her his coat, but she was already pulling on her coverall.

The next most gentlemanly thing to do would be to avert his eyes, but Kaylee only snorted when she caught him looking away.

"You ain't got a problem touching, but you can't look?" There was a bit of annoyance in her voice. "If I'm that unpleasant to your eyes, you oughta just say."

"No, no! Not at all! I just... Didn't seem right, with the seeing. Since I hadn't, and we're rescued now."

"Keep going, Captain," Zoe murmured. "I've got money riding on just how deep you're going to dig yourself."

"Not helping," he whispered back, looking across the cell at Kaylee, then turning again to raise an eyebrow at Zoe. "...You knew I was going to...?"

"I wouldn't mind looking!" Jayne called from the hallway. "And from what I seen, I wouldn't say no to touching, either!" He poked his head around the doorway. "So when do I get to be trapped somewhere with Kay--"

"Jayne! You shut your mouth and get back in the hall, or so help me, I will..."

"Shall I shoot him, sir?" Zoe smoothly filled in the pause while he tried to think of a suitable threat.

"That works." Slowly, he climbed to his feet, leaning against the wall at first, then stepping forward to test his leg.

"Captain, are you sure that's a good idea?" Kaylee was peering at him, concerned, but he waved her off.

"I'm fi--aiya!" The leg buckled underneath him, and suddenly he had a woman taking hold of each shoulder, keeping him up.

"No offense, Captain? But I figure Zoe's right about that idiot thing."

Mal just grunted and slung an arm over each of their shoulders. There was no shame in being carried home by womenfolk... Not those two, anyhow. "That," he said, straightening up again, "is why I've got myself a damn fine crew."

Even focused as he was on getting out of there, he couldn't miss seeing Kaylee's grin from the corner of his eye.

It wasn't until his leg was patched up and he could walk under his own power that he made his way down to the engine room, dreading the conversation that was to come.

Not that Kaylee wasn't grown and capable of figuring things out for herself, but she was a sweet little thing, and he didn't want her hurt more than he could help. And if somehow, she'd gotten the idea that him and her were... Well, it didn't bear thinking about, what with her practically his mei-mei and part of his crew besides, their activities in the face of imminent death notwithstanding.

"Captain!" She looked up from the little bit of whatever it was she was tinkering with, brightening the moment he walked in. "You're up!" She bounded over to give him a hug, and he made sure not to wince so she could see. Oh, gaoyang zhong de guyang, this wasn't going to be easy, was it?

Best to just come out with it.

"Listen, I got something to talk to you about."

She looked up at him, her brow furrowed. "Is it the compressor coils? 'cause I can fix those..."

"Er, no. ...Wait." He peered at the bits Kaylee'd been working on. "The compressor coils are what, now?"

He stopped, shook his head, and started over, sighing. "Little Kaylee, I won't deny I care for you something fierce, and it was some comfort being with you back there, but I..."

She gave him a reassuring smile. "That's all? Captain, I know. It was gonna-die sex. There's special rules for that, or somethin'."

He stared at her, a wave of relief washing over him, but he still had to be sure. "So..."

"So it's not you I'm gonna be nursing a broken heart over. We were gonna die, and now we're not, and that's all." Kaylee cocked her head to one side and looked up at him like she was wondering how he'd take the news. "We shiny?"

Mal allowed himself to smile, then. "We're very shiny."

Kaylee beamed up at him again, going up on tiptoes to give his cheek a little smooch, then pulled away, heading back to the compressor coils.

Mal, for his part, just watched her as he reached up to touch the spot on his cheek she'd kissed. "Though I might have to have some words with whoever you will be nursing a broken heart over..." he said, finally.

"Captain!" Kaylee's laugh was made of love and exasperation both, and when she shoved him out of the engine room, he, for once, let himself be shoved. Not that he'd take kindly to such a thing in the future, but then...

Well, there were special rules for this, too.