The Sun Also Rises

Ain't no power in the verse can cool Mal down right now. Not a one. The sun beats down mercilessly, with a vigour so few menfolk put into their work. He's sweating hard and has already changed shirt twice. This continues and he'll have to buy another shirt just so he has something to wear in the morrow.

He attempts to smile at Carter as he moves back onto the ship; she's across the cargo bay discussing mechanics or some such with Kaylee. It turns out as more of a cringe. Right. That does it. He stomps over and leans against a support beam. "Going well over here?" he asks.

"As you'd expect," Carter replies. "No chance there's a swimming hole nearby, is there?"

"As a matter of fact," he says, thinking, "er, no. There's not."

"We wouldn't have this problem if you'd just let me tinker with the cooling system," Kaylee chimes in.

"Ain't something we can afford, lil Kaylee, or I'd be the first to suggest you go ahead on it."

"Maybe we can figure something out using things on the ship." Carter pushes up and climbs to her feet, and then she helps Kaylee up. "What do you think?"

Mal frowns but is not altogether against this idea. If it means feeling cool, then he's willing to give it a chance. He nods.

Kaylee beams, lighting up her already red, shiny face. It is much better knowing the gleam of her skin is because of her excitement than because she's close to getting dehydrated and falling ill with heat stroke.

Same as the rest of them, really. Not a face onboard is its usual colour; all faces are tinged red. A trend, you might say, if you followed those kinds of things.

Mal moves further into the ship, slipping through hallways and finally arriving at the mess. There, he finds Inara and Book sipping tea. "Bit hot for that, isn't it?" he asks, not expecting an answer.

He gets an answer anyway; Inara rolls her eyes and Book simply looks up at him and smiles wistfully.

"Our new shipmate might be of use after all," he goes on. "She and lil Kaylee are working at something with the cooling system."

"Is there any way we can be of assistance?" Book asks.

Mal shrugs. "Don't think so."

Book nods and Inara takes another sip of tea.

He leaves them there and heads to his bunk, where he removes his shirt, wets another shirt in the sink and places it on his burning hot skin.

A good hour or two later, he feels a rush of cool air. He shifts and turns on his bed, trying to understand what it is. And then it hits him. "Kaylee and Carter," he mutters to himself. The mechanic and the scientist must have figured out some way to set the cooling system right. "Good job."

He turns over again and soon slips into sleep, the cool air at his back.