First Pressure
Firefly fanfiction by Brandywine00
Rating: PG-13/T

Part five of a series of "Firsts" for each of the crew. Pa had tried to warn her, but Kaylee wasn't sure she could do what he was askin' of her ….
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, not makin' coin off 'em, just like to let Joss's folks play around in my brainpan.
Felt froggy and posted this one without beta… all mstaikes r my won! Reviews appreciated. Hope y'all enjoy!


She breathed deep through her nose, trying not to panic even though her heart was 'bout to bang right outta her gorram ribcage.

"Hold 'er together, girl," she murmured. "Ain't like ya never done this before."

Ain't never been like this before, though, she thought as a jolt of fear shot through her belly. Looking into an expectant pair of intense blue eyes, she doubted her decision for the first time. Ain't never really meant this much, never really been somethin', not 'til now.

"You understand what I want ya to do, Kaylee?" Mal's voice was soft and smooth as Pa's finest sippin' whiskey, but his eyes held a hardness she hadn't seen much in him. Weren't no question of not doin', just a matter of if it'd be good enough. "Cause if ya don't do it – "

"It ain't that, Cap'n!" she gasped, a flush creeping up her cheeks. "Naw, ain't that a'tall!" Reaching for the collar of her coveralls, she shrugged them off her shoulders. She was already flushed hot, and just gonna get hotter. "I'll… I just…"

"Ain't no need to be nervous, lil' Kaylee," he soothed, a callused palm lightly rubbing the now-bare back of her arm. Oughta be rougher than that, what with how he earns a livin', she mused in some corner of her mind. "I know you've done this same thing before. This is just like every other time, just relax an'… an' let the magic flow, dong ma?"

Nibbling on her bottom lip, mostly to keep it from shakin' like a Capisen Thirty-Eight engine tryin' to stay airborne, she closed her eyes and nodded. She laid back, trying to get into the best position, tryin' real hard not to let him hear her whimper or see her shake or the tears threatenin' to squeeze outta the corner of her eyes.

"Ya sure this is what ya want, girl?" Pa's voice echoed in her head, his soft brown eyes full of love and worry over his little girl. "All kinda things happen up there ya ain't used to. Things be asked of ya that ya ain't never - "

"Pa, I'll be just fine," she'd assured him, still giddy with the idea of goin' out with a space crew on a real, honest-ta-goodness space ship. "Cap'n Mal's gonna take real good care of me. And I'll write."

He'd been antsy 'bout lettin' her go. "I could jus' say no. Tell ya t'git on up t'yer room, ain't no daughter of mine leavin' out with a buncha spacefarin' strangers. Not getting' herself out in the Black an' put in a bad spot when who knows what happens."

Kaylee'd near cried right then and there, but Pa had just sighed. "Hard fer yer Pa to remember sometimes yer a woman full-growed now. I can try ta keep ya grounded, but wouldn't be fair ta clip yer wings when I always knew ya were meant ta fly. Just… I got a couple things I wanna say here. Want ya ta listen, Kaywinnet, and ya better listen to me good, dong ma? First, fellas yer gonna be meetin' out there… ya can't be messin' with 'em, not like the fellas round here."

She'd blushed right up to the roots of her hair. Never had figured Pa knew she'd been messin' around with boys, but Pa knowed even when she tried to hide it. "I'll be real careful, Pa. I'll be a good gal."

"Even them on that there ship… they seem all right, but… ain't a one of 'em a schoolboy, an' ain't been fer near long as you been around. Ya keep yerself outta trouble. Ya run inta trouble out there, ain't no one but you ta see ya get outta it. Do a good job, keep that bird in the air, keep 'er in shape, keep 'er flyin' right, an' ya'll do just fine."

They'd talked a good hour more, 'til it was time for her to join the crew. Pa'd given her all kinds of advice, includin' warnin' her about all kinda situations.

Pa had warned her about this. She shoulda seen this moment comin'.

Really, she kinda had thought toward it the day they'd first met, the day Mal hired her on as crew. He'd been real excited to hire her, and even understanding, what with finding a half-dressed, fresh-off-the-prairie girl in his engine room, makin' time with his then-mechanic, Bester.

Knew he'd call on her like this one day. Knew she'd have to perform or… well, there weren't no 'or' to be had.

"Ain't nobody can hear ya, out in the Black." She'd heard it a hundred times, never give much thought to how desperately far from any other folk they were, how far from her Ma and Pa's little farmstead she'd gotten. Out in the deepest part of the Black, weren't nobody to come to the rescue if she couldn't do what Mal was askin' of her. It'd be the end of the line, and not just gettin' sent back home.

Beads of sweat dotted the space between her breasts as she waited with closed eyes. Waited for "the magic" as Mal had called it. Kaylee shut out the rest of the 'verse – the noises of the crew, the gentle rumbling of Serenity's workin's, Mal's steady breathin', her own heartbeat thumpin' loud and hard against her ribs, Mal shiftin' his feet, kneelin' down next to her legs.

"Kaylee...?" Cap'n said low.

"S'alright, Cap'n, just hush a minute, an' let me get to doin'," she answered back with just a little bit of sass, feelin' bolder now that she was on familiar ground.

"I just need to know, girl… you gonna be able to…"

"Ain't got much choice, I reckon, do I?"

"No, don't reckon ya do."

And there it was, the "magic" comin' to her in a rush as she knew, just knew. She reached her hands out, not shakin' now, but steady and sure like back home, like they'd always been, and did what needed doin'.

Time just kinda stopped workin' , and she couldn't hear the other sounds now, couldn't see the Cap'n or know if he was holdin' his breath, or if it was getting' shorter and faster like she felt her own chest risin' and fallin'. That shiny excitement flushed through her like it did every time, and quick as spit, she had it done.

"Kaylee?" Mal looked down at her, worry and hope fightin' between themselves in his eyes.

She gave him a big ol' smile then, pattin' his hand to calm his fears. "Weren't nothin', Cap'n."

She sat up, brushing a bit of oil from her cheek. "Naught more than a reflux wire, prob'ly got shimmied loose on that last landin' and caused the fuel stabilizer to get tacked. S'all shiny now, Cap'n."

Mal blew out the breath he'd held since his new, young, very, very young mechanic had slid under Serenity's engine and started doin' her thing. "So… we're not gonna explode, then.. right?"

"We're gonna explode?" A gruff voice chimed in from the doorway of the engine room. "I don't wanna explode, Mal. Kaylee-girl, you ain't gonna let us explode, are ya?"

Kaylee shot the big man a reassuring grin. Jayne tried to sound as tough as he was in a fight, and that was somethin' fierce, but there was an edge of scared hidin' out in his tone. Kaylee wouldn't dare call him on it. Weren't his job to know how to keep Serenity purrin', no more than it was hers to handle the shootin' or the intimidatin'.

Out here in the Black, they all relied on her. Their lives were in her hands, a notion that scared and humbled her and made her proud all at the same time.

"We're not gonna explode, Jayne," Zoe's calm voice answered from beside the merc. Didn't look shook up, but the tall, steady first mate had that relieved look around her mouth now. Kaylee liked that better than the hard straight line Zoe'd had since Wash told them something weren't right in the take-off and all the indicators went a-flashin' and poppin' like a gorram holiday.

Cap'n was grinnin' at her like all kinda Christmas, helpin' her up from the grated floor and squeezin' her shoulders with a big one-armed hug. "Done good, li'l Kaylee. Done real good. Folks, reckon this here'd be a special occasion, what with us not explodin' an' all, thanks to our genius mechanic an' her mechanicky magic. What say we crack open that last tin of peaches, a treat on account of Kaylee savin' our pi gu's?"

As the crew made their way back to the mess hall, Kaylee felt an aftershock of terror shoot through her belly.

What if it hadn't been a simple wire, a simple fix?

Serenity driftin' aimless in the Black.

Mal, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, herself all dead cause she couldn't fix the problem.

Mal turned back around as she fell behind, and saw her smile had faded. "Y'alright, Kaylee?"

Nodding her head, she let him see that worry for a second.

Cap'n patted her shoulder. "Takes a bit gettin' used to, don't it? That first time a-knowin' folks are countin' on you for their lives."

"Pa told me it'd feel different out here, be more…." She didn't know how to put it. "Just…I ain't really thought on it hard 'til now. It's the same job like when I was workin' in his shop. Same parts, same pieces, same way to fit 'em together an' make 'em run. But it ain't the same a'tall, y'know? What if… what if next time…"

"Can't worry on that, mei-mei. Can't live on what-ifs. Just gotta do what needs doin', best as ya can, ever time, dong ma? Now, on to the important stuff… we don't hurry up, Jayne's gonna have all them peaches ate 'fore we get there!"

"He better not!" She laughed, running on ahead to make sure that didn't happen.

Pa had been right. It was different out here in the Black, and she wouldn't trade it for nothin'.