Pairings: Kaylee/Simon, Kirk/McCoy (mentioned)
Word Count: 1,767
Summary: Star Trek/Firefly x-over. Jim Kirk and Simon Tam. They have words. Sequel to Gao Guhn
Disclaimer: I know this may come as a shock, but I am not, amazing as it may seem, Gene Roddenberry, J.J. Abrams, Paramount or Bad Robot. Joss Whedon, Fox, or Universal, either. Just so you know.
Here's how it is: Earth got used up, so we moved out, terraformed a whole new galaxy of Earths, some rich and flush with new technologies, some not so much. Central Planets, them as formed the Alliance, waged war to bring everyone under their rule; a few idiots tried to fight it, among them myself. I'm Malcolm Reynolds, captain of the Serenity. She's a transport ship, Firefly class. Got a good crew: fighters, pilot, mechanic. We even picked up a preacher for some reason, and a bona fide Companion. There's a doctor, too, took his genius sister from some Alliance camp, so they're keeping a low profile—you understand. You got a job, we can do it, don't much care what it is. --Mal Reynolds
“Okay, so this here’s the converter we got now.” Jim peered where Kaylee pointed, squatting down to look closer. “It ties in to the trace compression block.” She pointed at a nearby part. “That there’s the compression coil. It blows, everything goes out.” She looked rueful, clearly remembering a time when that had happened. “Gets right scary,” she said quietly, then visibly shook herself, continuing with her usual cheer. “You really think your folk can rig up something for us?”
“Yeah, the dilithium converter will recycle your fuel cells much faster,” Jim said, nodding. “Not a problem.” He gestured at the block and coil. “Looks like if we tie them into the main line, we could—“
“—set up a recycling feedback loop,” Kaylee finished. She beamed at him. “That’s genius! It’ll work a charm! How’d you ever think of it?”
Jim grinned at her enthusiasm. “Wasn’t me,” he said honestly. “That was all Scotty and Gaila. I’ll make sure you guys get together when I get back. Just don’t try any of their home brew. I officially don’t know anything about it, but unofficially, that stuff will burn the roof off your mouth!”
Kaylee laughed at that. “I’ll keep that in mind. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on a ship like yours. ‘Course, I can’t ever imagine leaving Serenity here, either.” She patted the engine fondly, with an almost proprietary air.
Jim gave her a small smile; he knew the feeling all too well, with Enterprise. “Yeah, well,” he said softly, “you ever change your mind, you let me know. Girl like you could do whatever she wanted in Starfleet.”
“Ya think?” The mechanic looked dubious as she scrubbed one fist over her cheek, pushing her hair back. Her fingers left a dark smudge. They’d both been working in the engine room for the better part of the afternoon, so they each had a fine layer of grease and dirt spattered on their clothes and skin. “I ain’t never been one for book learnin’,” she said slowly. “I got through to high school well enough, but I had to go work ‘fore I could finish. Engines an’ things just talk to me. I don’t know that I’d like bein’ stuck dirtside in a classroom for years, not when I could have all o’ this instead.” She gestured expansively, taking in Serenity and the stars outside.
“I know the feeling,” Jim said. “Trust me. I never thought I’d want to do the whole ‘Fleet thing either. Not with—not with some things.” He stopped himself in surprise; he felt comfortable with the people here, comfortable enough that he’d almost told them about—“Anyhow,” he continued hastily, “it wasn’t what I expected to be. It’s not a stuffy place, believe me. You decided to go, you’d have a ball there.”
“Really?” Kaylee bit her lip hesitantly, looking up at him with an odd mixture of hope and guilt. “You really think I could do all that?”
“Yeah. Hell, I know it!” Jim cupped her cheek gently in his palm, cleaning the smear of oil away with his thumb. “You’re something special, Kaylee, believe you me. You can do whatever you want, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Okay?”
“Okay.” Kaylee chuckled, but she looked heartened.
“Atta girl.” Impulsively, he put his arm around her, pulling her close in a brotherly hug the way he might have done Gaila or Chekov. “You’re a helluva woman, Kaywinnet Lee Frye.” She grinned up at him from his embrace.
They both looked up at the sound of coughing.
“Simon!” Kaylee greeted the doctor in surprise. “What’re you doin’ down here?”
“It’s time for dinner,” Tam said in his oddly stilted way. Jim reflected that only that man could make four words seem like an ordeal.
Kaylee flushed, her lips twitching in surprised delight at the man. “Aw, that was right thoughtful of you to remind us!”
“Don’t thank me,” the doctor said. “Captain Reynolds asked me to come.” He paused. “You should probably, ah, clean up first.” His eyes widened as he realized he had misspoken, and he turned and left.
Kaylee’s enthusiasm faded at his abrupt departure, and Jim suddenly felt angry with the man.
“Don’t mind him,” she said, looking away, “he’s a great doctor, but he ain’t so good with people as ain’t bleedin’.”
The pair of them joined the others mid-meal.
“’Bout time,” Reynolds said as they sat down. “Ya’ll weren’t getting into any trouble down there, were ya?”
“Tsai boo shr, Captain,” Kaylee said shortly. She served a helping of protein into her bowl.
Jim did the same. “Not us,” he said. “We just got busy with working was all.” He took a bite of the bland stuff, and briefly wondered if he could quietly arrange for a food replicator to be brought onboard with the dilithium converter.
“Busy,” Jayne echoed with an admiring chuckle. “Whatever you say, pretty boy.”
“The Captain is married,” River interrupted unexpectly. They all turned to stare at her. “He misses her a lot.”
Jim smiled at the odd girl, shaking his head. “My ship,” he explained to the others at the table. “It’s a…Captain…thing.”
Reynolds nodded at him. “I can’t say as I can mince words with that.”
“You miss the lonely man, too,” River continued. Her forehead wrinkled with thought as she concentrated on something—elsewhere. “He’s worried his bones are all that he’s got now.” She looked up, facing Jim directly in her uncanny gaze. “He’s buckled up. You need to tell him you are too.”
“He knows that,” Jim answered. No one asked anything; by now they’d come to understand the half-dialogues the pair of them have.
“He knows but he does not comprehend,” River said stubbornly. “He won’t accept it until the circle is completed. And neither of you get that, neen hen boo-tee-tyeh duh nan-shung!”
Jim stared at her, then he patted the small object in his pocket. He’s only been carrying it around for the last few weeks.
“Doesn’t count,” River maintained. “Doesn’t count it you don’t ask!”
Tam doesn’t speak to Jim again until two days later, when they are dirtside again. It’s a quick stop, mostly for refueling—that run-in with the bounty-hunters had made them burn more fuel than they had expected to, and they had quite a ways to go before the Enterprise would be able to pick up their signal. It’s a small moon, but the town is lively, so they have a few hours to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Kaylee and Reynolds were seeing to the fuel; Zoe, Wash, and Inara have gone to take in the sights, Jayne’s gone to a local watering hole, and Book was keeping an eye on River inside.
That left the two of them, idling near the ship.
“I don’t like you,” said the doctor abruptly.
Jim blinked. “Okaaaaaay,” he said, drawing the word out. “I get that a lot. Generally, though, I know why.”
The muscles of Tam’s jaw twitched. “You’re trifling with the affections of a lady. Kaylee is—she’s—“ He broke off, took a deep breath, and started again. “If you hurt her, I will—“
“Yeah, yeah, I get it, I know, you like her.” Jim shook his head at Tam’s expression of horrified bewilderment. “Oh come on, everyone on the ship knows you like her. I was here two hours and I figured it out. The only one who doesn’t know is Kaylee!”
Tam remained undeterred. “My sister believes you have a—romantic entanglement elsewhere. Does Kaylee know that?”
Jim repressed a sigh; though it improved his opinion of the man to know he did have feelings for the sweet little mechanic, he’d prefer if he could still not be an ass about it. “I have no interest in Kaylee that way,” he said honestly. “And before I was—before this whole thing—“ He pulled the precious object out of his pocket, holding it up to the light so Tam could see it. The doctor’s eyes widened comically in surprise. “—I’ve got someone. And when I get back I’m going to ask him a question.”
Tam’s eyes grew rounder, if that was possible. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were—“
“If you say ‘sly’ I’ll punch you,” Jim said as he put the ring back into his pocket carefully.
“I didn’t know!” Tam said again. “Sorry.” His shoulders slumped, and he looked away.
Jim sighed, taking pity on the poor kid. Kid? Hell, he’s the same age as you are, Kirk. He just hasn’t…finished growing up yet. “Look,” he said to the doctor, “you like Kaylee, Kaylee likes you. When she comes back with the others, you need to do something about it. Okay? She’s not the kinda girl that’s going to wait around forever!”
Tam looked down, kicking at some pebbles on the ground idly. “It’s not that simple.”
Jim groaned. “Then make it that simple! Look, the universe is a dangerous place. Okay? Living the way we do—“ He broke off, shaking his head. He thought of Bones, thought of the elder Spock’s memories of his other self, who had lived a well-enough life, but kept warmth at bay for so long. No way in hell was he going to do that. “If you see a chance for happiness, you need to take it. Or it’ll disappear before you know it. Dong-ma?” he asked, affecting the brutalized Mandarin to drive his point home.
“Got it,” Tam said. They both looked up as the mule roared into sight, Wash driving the others.
“Good,” Jim said. He patted his pocket once again, and felt relief that in a few days more time he’d be home, safe and sound.