Kaylee Frye tried very hard to be an independent woman. She liked to be able to do what she pleased, when she pleased. She liked the fact that she could fix a transport engine with her eyes shut before most men could even figure out why it was making that clattery noise.

The problem was, young Ms. Frye had a little touch of the boy-crazy. Sure, that came in handy from time to time – like the time Mal had walked in on her bent over Serenity's engine, panties around her ankles, and Serenity's old mechanic, Bester, doing his best piston engine impression directly behind her.

Ten minutes later, Bester had been fired, and Kaylee had been hired to take his place. It turned out that Bester was a lethal combination – an incompetent engineer and a boring lay. His incompetence was proven by the fact that Kaylee noticed what was wrong with Serenity's engine after ten seconds of looking; his boringness was proven by the fact that she noticed it while she was on her back, Bester on top of her.

It had been much to her giddy delight that Kaylee had accepted the position as Serenity's mechanic. However, it had been much to her dismay that that had begun a very long period of time during which she, in her own words, didn't have nothin' twixt her nethers that weren't run on batteries.

After Kaylee had been onboard for a little while, Simon Tam – the rich young doctor from Osiris – had come along, a cargo of his somewhat deranged sister in tow. Kaylee had found herself mentally drooling over Simon from the first time she laid eyes on him. Oh, sure, he made REALLY stupid and insensitive remarks from time to time, but for some reason, her mind kept wandering back to him.

Eventually, she was successful at seducing him – oddly enough, while in the midst of repairing Serenity. Much to her disappointment, he hadn't been nearly as enthusiastic as she had been hoping. In fact, after that, Kaylee had begun to have very sad suspicions that Simon was, as Jayne put it, "sly". When she asked River about it, River had just laughed, pretending to lock her mouth shut and throw away the key.

As far as the other men onboard Serenity went – well, it was a complicated situation for Kaylee. First of all, there was Jayne. Kaylee had sometimes thought about Jayne, wondered exactly what he was hiding underneath those jeans of his – it had to be decent, at the very least, given that he seemed to leave a trail of fairly satisfied women in his path. But she always snapped back to reality and realized that Jayne Cobb had approximately the mental capacity of an ape. It would take a WHOLE LOT of alcohol to get Kaylee naked in a bed with Jayne.

Then there had been Shepherd Book. Kaylee had never once even looked at the Shepherd that way. He had reminded her too much of her grandfather, and besides which, he was a PREACHER! She knew, she just knew, that God would've smote her but good if she had gone after a preacher-man.

She couldn't forget about Wash. Wash had been cute. Cute and married. That second part of it made things a little difficult. In fact, during the two years they'd been on Serenity together, Wash hadn't even so much as cast one lecherous eye on her. He was either terrified of Zoe, completely under her spell, or both. However, when Wash had told Kaylee that if he were unmarried, he'd take her in a manly fashion, because she was pretty – well, that had made her smile just a little bit.

And then he had died. A great big Reaver harpoon right through his gut. Kaylee couldn't believe it. She'd spent the next three nights lying in her bunk, just staring at the ceiling. What made it worse, though, was that she could hear Zoe, in her room next door, crying each night.

Finally, there was the captain. Malcolm Tight-Pants Reynolds himself. Take away the person that he was, and Kaylee would probably find herself drooling over him on a fairly regular basis. Even with the knowledge of who he was, she had found herself on more than one occasion having a distinct desire to sink her teeth into his posterior.

But then, she remembered… he's Mal Reynolds. Her captain. The man who was closer to a father or an older brother than any family member she had ever had. And when she remembered the way she looked at Mal, she realized… that was just WRONG.

And so now, as Kaylee sat on her lawn chair next to Serenity's ramp, on the dusty surface of Persephone, she sighed, a small note of despair in that sigh. It had been here, right here, really not that long before that she had originally met Simon Tam. Now he was off somewhere within Eavesdown, picking up medical supplies, and doing… whatever it was he was doing.

But wait… hello, that was a pretty specimen of young man walking along the dusty path. He was looking fairly intently at each ship, as though he were looking for one ship in particular. Despite his prettiness, that intensity got Kaylee's guard up – after their experiences with Jubal Early and the Operative, there was no such thing as being to careful.

When he approached Serenity, Kaylee's heart started to flutter. Between the nervousness at being confronted by such a good-looking boy and the nervousness at the possibility that he was out to get the entire crew, she was one big nervous wreck. "Excuse me," he said, "do you know where I might find a ship called Serenity?"

Uh-oh. "Uh, I might," she replied. "May I ask what you need to find her for?"

"I'm looking for her captain," he replied. "A man named Malcolm Reynolds."

Now Kaylee was really nervous. "Mind if I ask what it is you need to be seein' the Captain about?"

Oh, shit. She had just called him the Captain. The young man recognized Kaylee's error and smiled. "The Captain?" he asked. "I take it you know him?"

Kaylee nodded her head resignedly. "This here's Serenity," she said, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. "Captain Reynolds, he's her master."

"Then I should assure you, I'm not here to harm the ship or Captain Reynolds," he replied. "I just need to speak with him."

"Can I give the Captain the name of who wants to speak with him, or should I just call you the Nameless Stranger?"

He laughed. "No, you can tell him that Logan wants to see him."

"Logan who?"

Logan shook his head. "Now, see, that's not fair. You know my first name, but I have no clue who you are."

Kaylee blushed bright red. "Of course… uh, I'm Kaylee Frye, ship's mechanic, and I keep Serenity running tighter than a virgin in a convent."

Logan's eyes went wide and his eyebrows shot up at that remark. "Oh, God," Kaylee groaned, wishing the ground would open and swallow her up. Turning her back on Logan, she marched to the intercom, hit the button, and said, "Captain, there's a boy here named Logan who says he needs to converse with you."

"Converse with me, Kaylee? What, have you been reading the dictionary again?"

"Captain, if you could be so kind as to not embarrass me any more… I've already made myself look like a bit of a redneck fool in front of this boy."

"Aw, is he a cute boy, Kaylee?"

Logan overheard that and started laughing. "Captain, would you just shut your big damn mouth and get down here?!"

"I'm on my way."

Of course, it would take Mal a moment to get from the control room to the ramp, and so Kaylee had to spend an awkward moment making sure Logan didn't try to get into the ship without Mal's permission. However, she didn't trust herself to say anything, and so she just stood there, silent, staring at the ground.

Logan wasn't about to let that happen, though. "You said you're the ship's mechanic, right?"

Kaylee looked up at him shyly. "Yeah…"

"How'd that come about? Usually, ship's mechanics are old, ugly guys with big beer guts… you, on the other hand, are a pretty girl who I'd peg at about twenty, maybe twenty-one?"

A little smile made its way to Kaylee's face. "Twenty-three," she replied. "And as for how I got onboard as a mechanic… um… well, that's a story…"

And just at that moment, Mal came striding down the ramp. "Where's this boy that it's so gorram important I not embarrass you in front of?"

Kaylee sighed and rolled her eyes. "I don't know whether I oughta thank God you're here or punch you," she hissed at Mal. "That's him."

"Captain Mal Reynolds," Mal said, walking over to Logan and extending his hand. "And you are?"

"Logan Echolls," he replied.

"Echolls… Echolls…" Mal mused. "You wouldn't happen to be the same Logan Echolls whose daddy's that high-falutin wave actor Aaron Echolls, would you?"

Logan sighed, but nodded. "One and the same."

Mal cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. "So my question then, is what in the name of hell are you playin' at by losin' yourself on some Rim World and seekin' out a notorious fugitive captain?"

Logan swallowed. "My father… killed my girlfriend. He doesn't know that I know it, but I do. I wanted to get as far from Londinium as I could. I figured the Rim Worlds were a good place to go. And as for why I sought out Serenity… well, I had also heard that the ship has a loyal crew that happens to be in need of a pilot."

"Yeah!" Kaylee exclaimed. "Our last pilot, he-"

"No," Mal interrupted. "Don't need a pilot. Certainly don't need another rich boy runnin' from his troubles onboard."

"Captain!" Kaylee objected.

"Don't you start, Kaylee," Mal retorted, whirling toward her. "You seem to have a habit of thinkin' with your… well, I don't really know how to put it in feminine terms, but I'm sure you get the gist."

He turned back toward Logan – who had a gun out. "Whoa, now," Mal said, holding up his hands. "We don't need no trouble here."

"Let me prove my worth to you, Captain," Logan replied, quietly. He turned and pointed toward the edge of a building about a hundred feet away. "See those pigeons?"

He pointed at the six birds perched on the edge of the building, sixty feet above the ground.

"Yeah, I see 'em," Mal replied. "Worst part of Earth-That-Was to ever get out of the damn system."

"Watch this," Logan said. He pulled the slide back on his gun, lifted it with both hands, aimed, and shot six times.

All six pigeons disappeared in puffs of feathers.

Kaylee was slightly horrified by what she had seen. "Those were living creatures!" she exclaimed, an accusing tone to her voice.

"Those were flying rats," Mal shot back in disgust. "And that was a pretty piece of gunplay, Mr. Echolls. Certainly a bit more sophisticated than the brute kill-'em-all technique a certain member of my crew likes to use."

"Jayne wouldn't have shot a pigeon for no reason," Kaylee grumped.

Mal rolled his eyes. "Jayne would've shot a kitty-cat in the window of a pet shop if he thought it'd get his point across, Kaylee," he replied. "You're just a bit too fong luh sometimes, xiao meimei."

"And sometimes you're a go tsao de kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn," she shot back.

Mal's eyes widened and he turned red. "I, uh, don't let all my crew speak to me in such a fashion, Mr. Echolls. And sometimes, I do get a mighty powerful urge to duct tape this one's mouth shut and chuck her in the hold."

Logan looked between the two in no small amusement. "So, uh, just out of curiosity… do I get the job?"

"Well, Mr. Echolls, there's a few things you ought to be apprised of first. Pay sucks. Living conditions are horrible. The food is generally gos se. You shouldn't be surprised if on occasion you get called a liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze."

Logan smiled. "I've been called worse." He paused. "Actually, in reality, that's not too far off the mark."

Mal nodded and smiled. "Well… in that case, welcome aboard."

fong luh – loopy in the head
xiao meimei – little sister
go tsao de kuh-ooh duh lao bao jurn – dog-humping horrible old tyrant
gos se – dog crap
liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze – stupid son of a drooling whore and a monkey