Let It Be

Author owns nothing except the ideas, and writes only for his own amusement and entertainment.

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The operative had been true to his word. No one was looking for them, no warrants had appeared on the cortex. And he'd even helped get Serenity up on her feet again, something that Mal had secretly feared wouldn't even be possible.

But, they were back in the black. They didn't have a job, as yet, since most of their contacts were now dead, courtesy of the same man who'd helped them get off the ground again. Mal sighed, thinking about that.

There was no guarantee that things would stay quiet, of course. The operative had made that clear. Warrants might be re-issued. And Blue Sun didn't answer to him. Or apparently to anyone else. He glanced over to where River Tam was calmly piloting the ship from the co-pilot station. She seemed very at ease at the helm.

"I am," she smiled at him, and Mal resisted the urge to shudder. It was just creepifyin' how she did that.

"Can't help it," the girl said sadly. He looked at her, seeing the pain in her eyes. "Things done to me, made me this way. Can't turn it off."

"Don't worry none, little one," he smiled as best he could. "I know it ain't your fault. And, now that this is all behind us, maybehaps you can get things under control, once you get a chance to work on it. Your brother says ain't much you can't do, you set your mind to it," he added encouragingly.

"Perhaps," she nodded, clearly not optimistic. "At least I can function properly now. I can be a member of the crew, and do my share, instead of simply being a burden to others. But it cost so much," she murmured, turning to look out into the black.

"I know it did," Mal sighed, standing. "But we can't change what's past, albatross. All we can do is look forward. We're flyin', and, at least for the moment, we're free. Everything else will just have to work itself out." She nodded, smiling weakly, and Mal left the bridge, wishing he could give the girl some kind of comfort. But he didn't have any to offer.

He paused at Zoe's bunk, and almost knocked, but resisted the urge. If Zoe needed him, she'd ask, he knew. He wanted to offer her some comfort as well, but what could he say or do to make up for Wash? He shook his head, and walked on.

Entering the galley, he found Jayne sitting at the table, cleaning three of his weapons. The big merc hadn't had much to say since the battle, and didn't say anything now, simply nodding to Mal as he walked in, and then went back to his work. Inara was working on fixing something to eat for the crew. He smiled at her, and she smiled back, though not as brightly as she once had.

Inara was hurting too. Everything she'd ever believed in had been tainted by the haunting wave from Miranda. He knew she was working through that. He also knew, again, there was nothing he could do to help.

He passed through, heading on toward the engine room. So far everything was good, but any minute now, something could. . . .

He stopped short near the entrance to the engine room, seeing two very different legs draped off the side of Kaylee's hammock. Naked legs.

"I'm glad you finally got un-proper like, Simon," he heard Kaylee giggle, and almost saw red.

"I am too, ai ren," he heard Simon reply. "I am too."

Mal stiffened slightly, and was about to plunge into the engine room and wreak havoc on one Simon Tam when he felt a very large hand on his shoulder.

"Not now, Mal," he heard Jayne's voice whisper in his ear. "They's earned whatever happiness they can git. Leave'em be, for now." Mal whirled in his tracks, about to explode, when he saw the look on Jayne's face.

The big merc wasn't trying to get a better look at Kaylee, but instead was peering intently into Mal's own face. He lifted a finger to his lips, indicating quiet, and motioned for Mal to follow. Mal was torn now between his ire at Simon, and his new ire at Jayne for trying to dictate terms on his ship.

"C'mon, Mal," Jayne whispered again, waving. "Now ain't the time," he insisted. Mal looked back one more time at the two figures in the hammock, then reluctantly followed Jayne back up the passage to the galley. When Jayne didn't stop, but continued on into the bay, Mal followed, intending to give the merc a piece of his mind.

"What'n hell do you mean, tellin' me what to do?" he demanded as the two men made their way out into the bay.

"Ain't tellin' ya what ta do, Mal," Jayne said reasonably. "Just tellin' ya this ain't the time, is all. Them two ain't like the rest of us. They ain't never had to be mixed up in a sure 'nough fight like we was in. They been in shock for better part o' two weeks, at least. Leave'em be for now."

"For now?" Mal demanded. "What happens later?" Jayne smirked at him.

"I 'spect you'll huff and puff at Simon 'bout lil' Kaylee, threaten to space him and what not, and declare they ain't gonna be no romancin' on your ship. That's what ya normally do, anyway, so long as I ain't involved." Mal caught up short on that.

"What's that 'sposed to mean?" he demanded.

"Nothin', Mal," Jayne sighed. "Just makin' a point. Let it be, for a little while. Simon ain't stupid. He knows if her hurts her, one of us'll kill 'im, and his sister be damned. I almost killed him over her when she got shot. And he knows that, too."

"I don't like him no more than you do, Mal," Jayne continued. "But Kaylee does, and that's what counts. Or oughta, anyways. It ain't for you, nor me either, to dictate how she lives. What we can do is make sure that Simon knows for sure that if he hurts Kaylee, he won't never need be worried 'bout warrants and Blue Hands again."

Mal eyed Jayne in near shock, listening to what the man had to say. He didn't know what was worse. The fact that Jayne was practically agreeing with him, the fact that he was making sense, or the fact that he was still trying to dictate how things were going.

"Jayne, it ain't your place to make decisions on this ship," Mal warned, and Jayne sighed. He sat down on a nearby crate, and rubbed his hands across his face.

"Mal, I ain't trying to make no decisions," he said wearily. "I just didn't want you bustin' in there, britches on fire, and doin' or sayin' somethin' you'd regret come tomorrow. Like I said, them two ain't never been in nothin' like we just did. Ain't never seen nothin' like it. And they ain't used to it. Not like me, you and Zoe are."

"They need some time to get over that, and maybe some help. So far as I can see, they're helpin' each other. Each one clingin' to the other for support. And Kaylee's been moonin' over Simon since he walked up the ramp, all sissified. You can't deny that, and you sure can't change it. 'Side," he smiled wolfishly, "they been goin' at it fer the last two weeks. You're a bit late to be stoppin'em, I'm thinkin'."

"You knew about this?" Mal demanded hotly. Jayne nodded.

"Reckon prob'ly everybody did, 'cept you," he chuckled slightly. "They ain't hurtin' nothin', Mal."

"I promised her daddy I'd look after her!" Mal almost screeched.

"And did a good job of late, too," Jayne didn't quite sneer. "Draggin' her all over the 'verse to protect two fugies, then through reaver space and into a gorram battle we was lucky to live through. I reckon, Cap'n, after all that, she deserves a bit o' happiness, can she find it. If he makes her happy, then let it be, Mal. Let it be."

Mal's retort died on his lips as the weariness in Jayne's voice, and on his face, got through to him. He looked at the big man closely.

"What's wrong with you, Jayne?" Mal asked. Jayne looked up at him.

"What? Nothin'! We ain't talkin' 'bout me."

"You don't seem right," Mal said frankly. "Ain't like you." Jayne just shrugged.

"Got a new lease on life," he said simply. "Ain't dead like I figured to be, so I got to start over, like. Don't rightly know what to do, that's all. Reckon. . .reckon I owe it to Book to straighten up a bit. That's all."

"And you're tellin' me you ain't got a problem with Simon and Kaylee?" Mal challenged. Jayne's face went neutral at that.

"You know I do," he said quietly. "But it ain't my decision. Her's. Just her's. And I'd never try and tell her what she oughta do. You know how I feel about Kaylee," he added. "But there ain't nothin' for her with a man like me. Nothin'. Happen Simon can get clear of his legal troubles, he can give her a good life."

"And, at least for now, he makes her happy, Mal. That oughta be all that matters to me. And to you, even more'n me. You're tryin' to be her pa. Then try thinkin' like one. She's happy. Let her be happy." Jayne stood, suddenly tired.

"Let it be, Mal. Just let it be." With that Jayne walked back up the stairs, disappearing into the galley. Mal watched him go, mind working.

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Simon was still trying to get the infirmary reworked. Nothing seemed right anymore. He was just finishing a cabinet when Mal walked in.

"Hello, Captain," he smiled. The smile died on his lips at the look on Mal's face.

"What has she done?" he sighed, reaching for his bag. "I'm sorry. I'll. . . ."

"Ain't got nothin' ta do with yer sister, doc," Mal didn't growl, though he wanted to. "Come to my attention that you're showing my mechanic a good bit of attention." Simon blushed at that, but looked Mal in the eye.

"That's our business, Captain," he said quietly, but firmly.

"See, that's where you're wrong," Mal shot back. "But, so long as she's happy, then I don't see how I can rightly say nothin'. But I'm warnin' you now, Simon, plain and clear. You hurt that girl, in any kinda way, and I will end you. Throw you straight out in the black, and never lose a wink over it. You got that?"

"Yes," Simon managed not to stammer. "I have no intention of hurting her, Captain. I. . .I've. . .that is, now that. . . ."

"Don't need the pa'ticlars," Mal held up a hand to forestall Simon's explanation. "I just wanted to make sure you knew the consequences. If I don't get you, then Jayne will. Either way, you won't live to regret any harm you cause that girl. Dong ma?"

"Yes," Simon replied simply. That seemed the best way to respond.

"Well, then, in as far as you need it, you have my permission to court her," Mal allowed grudgingly. "You shoulda asked first, mind, but that's all behind us. Just treat her right, you wanna keep breathing." Mal turned to leave.

"Thank you, Captain," Simon called out to Mal's back.

"Thank Jayne," Mal shot back over his shoulder. "He's the one convinced me to let the two o' ya's be."

The look on Simon's face would have kept Mal laughing for weeks if he'd seen it.