Usual continuity. Joss is boss.

They're going about this slowly, one by one. Speaking to River was less a telling and more a confirming, of course, and her eyes were all lit up for her brother, for her soon-to-be sister-in-law. They're happy too, delighted with the reception of this news, though Simon's apt to worry it won't all be this easy.

Kaylee's figured they oughta tell Mal first, or anyway first after River – they won't wanna risk him leaning secondhand and getting tetchy. So that afternoon, the pair of them follows him into the spare shuttle (he's just looking to see what needs maintained, probably, but they're glad of the privacy).

Simon's got his hand in Kaylee's, Kaylee's biting her lip. "Ah… Cap'n?" she begins, voice hesitant.

"What's goin' on, l'il Kaylee?" he asks, turning and adding a hurried, "…Doc."

"We gotta talk about somethin', kinda a big somethin'," she dithers.

Mal's looking between their two nervous faces. "Have at," he says.

"Well, thing is… Simon, he…"

Setting his jaw, Simon declares, "We're engaged to be married." See, he tells himself, it wasn't so hard after all! Just glancing at her, her kind eyes and sincere mouth and her hand in his and everything else he loves (it's a long list), that helps him be a little more courageous.

For a moment, anyway. The Captain's unreadable expression is bringing him right back to nerves. He's not even sure why, exactly; he knows Mal gets unsettled by change, and downright cranky with romances. This falling under both categories can't help. Or it could be that Kaylee's got a little sister's need for his approval, or that he would react any of ten ways to the news and most of them were unpleasant, or… well.

"That so," Mal says slowly.

With a nervous laugh, Kaylee shoves her left hand in front of his face. "Uh-huh," she chirps. "Asked an'… well, ya don't need it all, but – it's happenin'! We're engaged." She likes saying it aloud, but even that enthusiasm can't keep her from adding, "That alright?"

"'Course," Mal says, but his chuckle is just as anxious. "You're big kids, don't rightly need permission." He knows why they'd feel they did, of course, but he's trying genuinely to accept the notion. Or to want to accept the notion.

"Hăo ba," Simon nods, squeezing Kaylee's hand. Even not exactly needing it, they do feel a bit easier with the approval. Kaylee's got a look about her that means she likely wants to talk it out with Mal some more, in that way that only she could; she's got to make sure his blessing's genuine, after all. And given the thin line of Mal's mouth, he'd be comforted to as well.

Simon understands; he'd want to have such a talk with River in this scenario. So after he nods a 'thank you' towards Mal and presses a chaste kiss to Kaylee's lips, he ducks out, leaving her and her duìzhăng dà gēgē.

Once Simon's gone from the shuttle, Mal sits, nodding for Kaylee to do the same. His expression is solemn, more like what she'd expected it to be, and hers is slipping back to nervous. Nothing's said a while, but Mal finally murmurs, "You're really goin' through with this, huh?"

"I am," she nods. "We are. Ain't like we gotta date set, but – we intend to, when it suits."

Another pause, and like the big brother he is, Mal has to ask, all seriousness, "You love him?"

The question startles her a bit coming from him, but she's quick to reply, "I do. More'n I could've hoped to love someone."

"And you know it's right? Not just right right now, but for always?"

"I thought about it plenty," she nods. "And so's Simon. We know it's s'posed to be like this."

"You ain't pregnant too, are ya?" Mal asks suddenly, horrified. That's all he needs now.

"Hell no!" Kaylee exclaims, actually giggling a bit. "That's a long ways off, can promise that." Wryly, she adds, "An' it ain't like Simon's one for… y'know. Unsafely 'less he intended somethin' of it."

"Mèimei, I don't need to hear it," Mal groans, rubbing his forehead. "'Fact, I'd've been happy to go through my days not thinkin' on that one way or t'other."

She smirks. "Hey, you asked it."

"I know, I know, there I go, bringin' it on myself," he mutters. After a moment, his face softens, and he reaches to ruffle her hair. "Y'know, I figured this day'd be a long ways off."

"Me, too," she chuckles, twisting her ring. "But inna way, that's part why I trust it right. I know I ain't doin' it just to do it."

"He makes you happy."

"Promise he does."

A small smile. "I can't very well say no to that."

"Good," she teases. "'Cause we'd have done it anyhow, but your approval's nice too."

"Well, now, I ain't sure whether I oughta get put out by that or think it means you're on your right path," he smirks. "But if I say I'm leanin' to the latter, you ain't gonna tell on me that I'm goin' soft in my age, are ya?"

"'Course not," she says, nodding seriously with that face that shows she's trying not to laugh. But after a moment, she turns properly serious. "That all?" she asks.

"All what?"

"Reason you're bein' soft like you said," she clarifies, staring at her hands.

"I dunno whatcha mean," he frowns.

"Yeah, ya do," Kaylee says. "It ain't got nothin' to do with your own self feelin' these kinda things?"

He opens and closes his mouth, continually amazed by what he lets her get away with saying to him, what he'll let himself admit to her. "We're far off from that," he finally says, all awkwardness. "I ain't much the marryin' kind, an' I don't know she is either."

Kaylee tries not to roll her eyes. "But you love her, don'tcha?"

"Don't mean we –"

"Just means ya do or don't, that's all I'm askin'."

She's not gonna give up on this, is she? "Then I do," he nods. "Dunno what that adds to, but – I reckon I do love her, yeah."

"And you ain't said so before, have ya?"

"Not out loud," Mal confirms. "Even to myself. It's a bit odd a revelation, I gotta say."

"Why?" Kaylee asks indignantly. "You both been lettin' it build for ages, an' we all known you care for her and she for you. Why's it such a jump?"

"It ain't," he exclaims.

"So really it's just strange finally lettin' yourself think it straight."

Mal's making a face at her, but she's got one right back, defiant and a little bratty. There's times he's reminded just how young she is, but she's gotten better and better at figuring things like this out at the same time.

He's silent long enough that she thinks to add, "Reckon she loves you, too."

"I dunno what she thinks," Mal mutters. "All those years trainin' in pretend, how do I know when she's bein' honest?"

She looks at him incredulously. "'Cause you're the one thing it's easiest t'read her about."

"I've gotta hard time seein' that," he admits.

"Yeah, but the rest of us ain't got such a problem," she smirks. "Dunno for the rest, but I known how she felt about you for ages. Maybe longer'n her, 'least conscious."

"Sure you ain't thinkin' wishfully?" he chuckles. He knows his l'il Kaylee's got a romantic bent.

"I'm sure," she nods. "Maybe a bit at first, but it's been goin' on too long not to know surely."

A sigh. "Just I can't help but worry this is foolish. This life ain't built for romance –"

"But it still gets found," she interrupts.

"An' I ain't quite built for it neither."

"Sounds to me like you're scared," she declares. It's another thing only she could say. "Dunno of what, but it ain't like you t'go all hesitant."

There's a long pause and then: "I don't just take what matters lightly, mèimei. You know that."

"Yeah, I do," she nods. "But she oughta know it too." He looks perplexed, so she hastily adds: "I ain't sayin' you hafta make a show. But if I know her, she'll feel better when you've made yourself known. A bit steadier in your bein' - whatever it is is you are. Might go both ways, too."

"When'd you get so good at these things?" he asks with a laugh.

"Dunno," she shrugs. "Guess there's things ya learn with doin' 'em. You oughta try it."

"S'pose I should," Mal smiles. "Now go on, get back to your - whatever you needta be doin'."

"Yes, sir," Kaylee chuckles affectionately.

hăo ba; "all right"
duìzhăng dà gēgē
; "captain big brother"
mèimei; "little sister"