Trial And Error
by Pearl-o

It was about two weeks afer Kaylee joined the crew of Serenity when Mal came in to talk to her.

She was working in the engine room at the time, and she pushed her hair out of her eyes and smiled as she realized who it was.

"Heya, Captain."

Mal leaned against one of the walls, in just a little ways. "Hey there, Kaylee."

He was real quiet watching her, and he was looking pretty serious, so after a little bit Kaylee said, "Something the matter?" An idea came into her mind, and she bit her lip hard. "Is there -- is something not working out?"

But Mal just shook his head, and she let out a little breath of relief.

"Nothing of the sort. You got a way with this ship, girl. No, it's something else." He came down around to crouch next to her. "I just need to make sure you and I get some things straight here."

"Well, shoot," Kaylee said, setting down her tools to look at him. "Whadya mean?"

"You're a very pretty girl, Kaylee," Mal said.

She started to grin. "You're not so bad yourself, Captain--"

He interrupted and said, "But this is my ship. And I'm your captain. I don't know what you're used to, but I need you to know ain't nothing gonna happen between you and me."

His eyes were kind and firm. Kaylee felt her face burn hot (he musta thought she'd been throwing herself at him, like some silly girl, she thought) and she looked away from him and picked her tools off the floor again.

"Kaylee--" There was a light hand on her shoulder.

"I understand, Captain." She didn't look over. "Is that all you came in here for?"

"That'd be it," Mal said, and Kaylee didn't say anything else as he squeezed her arm for a moment and left.


It took a couple of months on Serenity before Kaylee managed to think of Zoe and Wash as, well, Zoe and Wash, and not just Zoe-and-Wash. Which was strange enough, she thought, because it wasn't like they were anything alike.

It was Wash she got to know first, because it was always just the two of them while everybody else was off at their rendezvouses. Wash was funny and cute in a nutty sort of way, and if he weren't already married they probably could have managed a good amount of fun together. But he was, so Kaylee never bothered letting her head drift over that way.

Zoe was different -- she was intimidating where Wash was friendly and a little scary where he was just easy-going. Strong and pretty in a way that made Kaylee feel like a grease-stained prairie hick.

A thing with Zoe probably wouldn't have been fun, Kaylee mused to herself once or twice, but it certainly would have been something.


It had been ages since she'd had a good tumble, was the thing. And maybe Jayne wasn't the brightest, and maybe she wouldn't trust him any further than she could throw him -- and maybe not even that much -- but, heck. Kaylee hadn't ever gone this long by herself since she stopped plaiting her hair. By this time she wasn't about to throw Jayne out of bed for being a jackass.

Or at least that was what she was thinking, but as it turned out -- well. It just wasn't any good.

When you came right down to it, it was flat-out the worst sex Kaylee had ever had.

First there was the no kissing -- and hell, wasn't kissing half the fun? And then it was just heavy and awkward and even hurt a bit. And once it finally started to get interesting, the party was suddenly over and Jayne was asleep beside her.

Course, she couldn't go right ahead and tell him all that, so Kaylee had to think of a better way to get out of all of it. In the end, it wasn't too hard. All it took was a couple words place real careful into conversations -- "love," "forever," "babies" -- and Jayne was off like a shot.

At least she could always count on her own hand.


They only ever had the one kiss, her and Simon. One kiss, all sweet and gentle and perfect, and it was over almost before it began.

"I can't," Simon said, his breath soft against her lips. "Kaylee, I'm sorry, I just--"

"I know," Kaylee said softly, because she did, really. She closed her eyes.

"She needs me," Simon continued, sounding like he was pleading. "And with our situation -- I can't ask you to--"

"Simon, I understand." She squeezed his hand to shut him up, and he hugged her close and kissed her forehead awkwardly.

After he left Kaylee went down to her bunk and kicked the wall until her foot hurt and she felt a little better. Then she went to find Inara in her shuttle.

Inara was sitting on the edge of her bed, but she took one look at Kaylee and said "Oh, honey" and let Kaylee curl up in her arms and cry.

Inara held her tight, making soft soothing noises and smoothing her hair, until Kaylee was down to tiny sniffles.

"Thank you," Kaylee said, finally, hugging her extra close for a moment.

"Oh, Kaylee," Inara murmured, and Kaylee turned her head to bury her face in Inara's neck.

Inara smelled good, like she always did, sweet and expensive and glamorous. Once she'd let Kaylee go through all her bottles of scent, one by one, smelling each and learning all the exotic stuff that Inara just carried with her. Inara was wearing her favorite today, the one she wore most often, so Kaylee was used to it. It smelled like comfort, and friends.

Inara's dress was soft against one cheek. The warm skin of her neck was even softer against the other.

"Inara..." Kaylee turned her head, found Inara's full red lips, and kissed her gently, feeling the slick of her paint and warmth of her mouth.

After, Inara's eyes were nothing but patient and loving.

"I think I musta been going about things wrong all this time," Kaylee said softly, feeling nervous. Inara nodded and Kaylee continued, "I know you don't always like girls like that -- just real special ones -- but I thought maybe--"

"Kaylee," Inara said, her voice all warm and thick and fond, "I've never met a girl more special than you." She petted Kaylee's hair down again and smiled.

Kaylee smiled back, and she had the bizarre feeling that she'd suddenly found something she hadn't even know she'd been waiting for.


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