Quon O'Connell stormed down the short gangway of the hold, his bag slung over his shoulder. His faded red headband, which he usually wore only when piloting, still adorned his forehead.
Kaylee managed to catch up with him. "Please, Quon, the Cap'n didn't mean nothin' by it! We're all still hurtin' after what happened, but you're needed here. Really!" She grabbed his shoulder.
He stopped, but didn't turn around. "I'm afraid he did, Kaylee. He meant every word. " His shoulders slumped. "I wasn't going to be flying again, but you... you made me believe." He turned then, and reached out, cupping her face with one hand. "I know you still do, mei-mei. I know it." He closed his eyes and sighed.
"Then... then why are you goin'?" Kaylee's lower lip trembled.
"When I fly, I'm there newly," he said. "Other pilots may have had time there, and I honor that. Washburne, his reputation preceded him even before Serenity; he really was an amazing pilot." He shook his head.
"I can understand mourning, too. That's why I stayed on through the first comparisons, the remarks. But I've had enough." He gave her a steely look. "I'm my own man. I'm no one's inferior 'replacement'."
He looked down, then took a small packet from a pocket on his bag. He handed it to Kaylee. She stared at him.
He gestured. "Open it."
She pulled open the red rice paper. "Oh. Oh, my..." She lifted the small jade cat from the paper. "Oh, Quon... it's beautiful..."
"I've had it since back in Primary. I know you don't need it, but it's always brought me luck," he said. Taking it from her hand, he looped the pendant around her neck. "Goodbye, Kaylee. Remember me." He kissed her on the cheek, then turned and left the ship.
Mal was looking over the cargo when he noticed Kaylee come in from the hold out of the corner of his eye. She must have seen him go, if he was goin'. Might as well ask her.
"That 摸索手指 gone ye-"
Mal staggered, the slap having knocked him aside a step. He turned to find Kaylee, her face drawn up in a most un-Kaylee-like snarl, tears glimmering in her eyes.
"Kaylee, what-" He reached out and caught her wrist before another landed. "What's gotten into you?"
"All those pilots we've tested, all the running through," she said. "I'd thought you'd gotten over... whatever." She yanked her hand away from him and stepped back.
"How could you do that, Mal? My own cousin!"
Unable to control the tears anymore, she turned and ran, back toward the sanctuary of the engine room.