Into The Night
Monday, April 26, 2010

There's a big dance coming up and Kaylee doesn't have a date. Mal decides he'll accompany her but like always, things don't go the way he planned. M/K. One-shot. Post Objects in Space. PG-13 for language and violence. So fluffy it should have a teddy bear doing TV commercials for it.


It was a lazy day for Kaylee Frye onboard the ship Serenity. For once the engine was running smoothly with no real glitches to work out and she'd already finished her other chores. So she was spending her time in the catwalks above the cargo room, letting her feet hang over the edge and swinging them idly while thinking about the upcoming day.

About a week ago, the crew had received a wave from their friend and Mal's old war buddy Monty. He'd invited the crew to a big party that was to be a reunion for some of the veterans of the Independent Army. There was going to be a big bonfire and alcohol and dancing and just a general fun time. The crew all voted unanimously that they wanted to go and so it was decided.

Kaylee was particularly excited because she figured it'd be a chance to have a fun time with the handsome doctor, Simon. But whenever the subject had come up in conversation, he'd always bring up his sister River and express concern of having to watch over her to make sure nothing bad happened to her. Kaylee was losing hope he'd ever ask her to the dance and she was far too shy to ask him herself. So she was stuck in quite an unpleasant pickle just a day before the dance.

"Hey there Kaylee, want some company?" asked a voice behind her. She turned around to find the captain behind her sipping on a cup of coffee. Kaylee offered up a friendly smile and scooted over. Mal sat down beside her and the two sat in silence for a few moments while Mal finished his coffee and Kaylee kept pondering about the doctor.

"Something on your mind mei-mei?" Mal asked.

"Nothin much Cap'n, just thinking about the shindig tomorrow."

"Thinking bout what you're gonna wear?"

"Not exactly Cap'n." Kaylee said with a small hint of sadness in her voice.

"What's up then?"

"I'm just a bit upset cause I ain't got no one to go with yet. Wash is going with Zoe and Jayne's gonna be too busy trying to get in the skirts of all the other pretties there."

"What about Simon? I figured he'd be at the top of your list."

"I dunno, he hasn't asked me at all yet. He seems like he'd rather spend his time watching over River. Plus some clean-cut guy like him probably won't have much fun at our kind of party."

"That's a shame Kaylee. I hate to think of you not having a good time cause you ain't got no one to go with. Though if it'd really mean a lot to you, I'd be happy to be your escort," Mal said as he casually brushed Kaylee's hair away from her face.

"You serious Cap'n?" asked Kaylee as her eyes grew wide. "I didn't ever really know you thought of me like that."

Mal chuckled a bit before replying, "Rein it in a bit there Kaylee. I'll be on your arm when we get there and I'll dance with you a couple times but this ain't nothing serious between us. I like you as a friend well enough but I think we both know a relationship wouldn't be particularly bright."

"I suppose so. But I thought you said you were gonna try to call Inara back from the training house to see if she wanted to go with you?"

"I decided against it. Rather have myself a fun time without having to worry about a fight with her or something. Plus, like you said with the doctor, this probably wouldn't be her kind of shindig. I'd much rather go with you because I know you'll have a damn fun time there."

"Wow, thanks Cap'n. This really means a lot." Kaylee kissed Mal on the cheek and bounced off to her room, happier than she'd been in weeks because she finally had an escort. Mal merely smiled and headed back to the dining room for another cup of coffee before going to get started on captain-y things.


A little while later, Mal headed back up to the bridge to ask Wash how their flight was going. But when he got there, he discovered piloting was farthest thing from Wash's mind as he walked in on Zoë and Wash smooching in the pilot's chair. Mal groaned and rolled his eyes to himself before clearing his throat in an authoritative manner. Zoë and Wash scrambled off each other, quite embarrassed with themselves while Mal gave them both significant glances.

"Sorry about that Cap'n" Zoë said as she tucked her shirt back into her pants, it having come out while Wash's hands roamed over her.

"Y'know, you two do have a perfectly good bunk to do that in. There's also a door you could have closed so I didn't walk in on you." Mal said smugly.

"Right, yeah. Just got a bit carried away too quick. Though can you blame me Mal? I mean she is one distracting woman." Wash said jokingly, causing Zoë to throw a plastic dinosaur at him. It hit Wash in the chest and bounced away as he feigned hurt for Zoë's actions.

"So, I hear you asked Kaylee to be your date for the big party. So much for your no romance policy eh?" asked Zoë smugly.

"What? How'd you hear about that?"

"Oh come on Cap'n, Kaylee's been bouncing all over the ship since you asked her, giggling about how she's got a date for the dance." Wash replied. "Never knew you liked her at all like that."

"I don't!" said Mal, a bit annoyed. "I mean don't get me wrong, she's a swell girl and all but I'm mostly doing this for her sake so she's not going there alone." Zoë and Wash traded a significant glance as Jayne came up onto the bridge as well.

"Hey, Preacher just sent me a wave, wanting to talk to Mal," said the big mercenary. "By the way, heard you and Kaylee are going to that dance together. When'd you two start sleepin together?"

"I'm not sleeping with her!" a horrified Mal said.

"Maybe not, but I'll bet you wanna get that nice sweet ass in your bed sometime, don'tcha?" Jayne asked grinning wickedly. Mal simply gave him his best stern glare in response and Jayne realized he'd crossed a line and looked away sheepishly. Mal walked over to the monitor and flipped a switch and Shepherd Book's face appeared from his new home Haven.

"Shepherd, nice to see you again," said Mal cheerfully, happy to be talking to someone sane again, even if it was a preacher.

"Hello Mal. Just wanted to offer you congratulations on the big news."

"What big news?" asked Mal with a hint of dread, hoping the preacher didn't mean what Mal thought he might.

"About yourself and Kaylee. I got a wave from her earlier telling me about your big date. I hadn't the slightest clue you were interested her in that way and so I just wanted to say I wish the two of you the best."

Mal hung his head fumed to himself while Wash, Jayne and Zoë burst into laughter. Mal took a few deep steadying breaths to calm down again, wondering why his crew seemed to get particular amusement out of his stress and misfortune. After the laughter died down, Mal looked up to the monitor again where Book still was, looking slightly confused by the response.

"I sense I may be missing something," Book said carefully.

"Not much Shepherd but thank you for your blessings. However I feel you and everyone else should know," Mal said testily as he glanced at everyone else, "that Kaylee and myself are not an item by any means and I am merely accompanying her so that she can have a fun time. Understood?" Mal asked moreso to the crew than to Book.

"I see. I hope you'll forgive my misunderstandings Mal," Book said, feeling slightly embarrassed, "but from the tone of Kaylee's call, I figured something more must have been going on between you two. And by the sounds of the laughter, I'm guessing the crew all figured that as well. Anyway, I hope you two have a splendid time."

Book disappeared from the screen and the crew sat in an uncomfortable silence for a few moments. Mal looked heatedly back and forth at everyone there, making sure they fully understood the truth of the situation and wouldn't be spreading any gossip afterwards. They all just sat with their heads hanging like forlorn puppies, knowing they'd gone too far.

"It's not a date!" Mal yelled with finality as he stormed off the bridge and headed to his bunk, looking for a few moments of peace and sanity by himself.


The next day, the ship landed on (insert planet here) a few hours before the party and so the crew spent most of their day bustling about in preparation of the party. Even though it was to be a gathering of mostly frontier folk, everyone still dressed in their best for the occasion.

Mal was in Simon's bunk as Simon was helping him get dressed. Mal was dressed in his best suit while Simon helped him out with his tie. Even though it wasn't a date, Mal still wanted to look nice for Kaylee. Simon was in his nicest custom-made suit as well, looking more like he was going to a dinner party than a frontier bonfire and dance.

"Thanks with your help Simon. These things still give me trouble; don't ever use them that often."

Simon nodded and finished tying Mal's tie for him. Just then, something broke outside the room and they both could hear a yelp of surprise from Simon's sister River. Simon winced and headed out the door towards his infirmary where he'd left River, muttering about how he'd be doing this all night.

Mal headed out of the passenger dorms and to the cargo bay where everyone else was already waiting. Simon had fetched River from whatever mischief she was getting into and had her subdued near the door, fiddling distractedly with her rose red dress. Simon certainly would have his hands full tonight with trying to keep all the drunken smugglers away from her.

Zoë and Wash were chatting animatedly with Jayne who was dressed in his best shirt and had even combed his hair. Wash was in a lavender leisure suit while Zoë stood looking quite glamorous in a form-fitting champagne colored dress. Mal remembered hearing the girls taking awhile ago about Inara buying new dresses for them from the money they got on the Ariel heist. One member of their crew was missing though and Mal walked over to the intercom and picked it up.

"Come on Kaylee, let's get a move on. We're leaving."

A minute later, Kaylee came walking down the stairs and Mal's jaw fell open. Kaylee had her hair pulled up behind her with a large ornamental butterfly clip and was dressed in a periwinkle dress with little lacy flowers decorating it. She looked absolutely breathtaking as she walked nervously down the steps, hoping she looked okay. She walked up to Mal and stood in front of him while he still looked mesmerized by her beauty.

"So, do I look okay Cap'n?" Mal suddenly found it very difficult to use his tongue and couldn't manage to give a coherent response. Kaylee looked at him nervously, fidgeting with her dress and her hair while waiting for a response from Mal. Mal looked around to all the other men to help him out and save him but all of them seem to have been stricken by the same affliction as Mal as none of them seemed able to speak, stunned into silence by the beauty of Kaylee.

"You look lovely," River piped up finally. "And they all think it too. They're just stunned to see you not in coveralls and oil." All the men finally managed to speak and muttered out confirming replies. Kaylee beamed and her beauty only doubled with her smiling. Just then there was a knock on the door and Mal glanced through the window to see his pal Monty standing there. Mal opened up the door and Monty immediately swept him up in a powerful embrace.

"Oh Malcolm Reynolds, you old devil, good to see you again," boomed Monty as he very nearly crushed Mal's spine with his bearhug. Mal let out a strangled gasp and Monty got the hint and let him down. "You are looking mighty sharp tonight. And my, oh my, oh my, Zoë I have never seen you looking more beautiful than you do right now. You clean up real nice soldier."

"Thank you Monty, it's great seeing you again too," replied Zoë as she gave Monty her own embrace.

"Washburn, Cobb, nice seeing you two boys again, thanks for coming out. And…oh my goodness, that wouldn't be little Kaylee back there would it?"

"Sure is Monty," Kaylee grinned, giving Monty a little twirl so he could see all of her.

"Well you certainly are the picture of loveliness here tonight," said Monty, striding forward and kissing Kaylee's hand chivalrously. Kaylee giggled and nodded in thanks. "Who's the lucky man who gets to have you on his arm tonight?"

"That'd be me," said Mal, lightly rubbing his ribs from Monty's unintentional welcome assault.

"You're shitting me. You and Kaylee? Well, that's one helluva fine development Sergeant. Congratulations!" Monty moved in for another big hug but Mal backed away, not wishing to have his innards crushed once more. The rest of the crew, save for Kaylee, stifled laughs at Mal's impending annoyance.

"It's not what it seems Monty; I'm merely acting as escort tonight for Kaylee. There's no other motivation, I'm merely taking her as a friend," Mal said quickly, hoping to get off the subject and the ship as soon as possible. Monty snorted disbelievingly and glanced over at Kaylee who gave a little half-smile and shrugged.

"Okay Malcolm, whatever you say, Let's get a move on, shall we gang?"

The crew all nodded in approval and headed out the door. Dusk was just starting to fall on the moon and off in the distance about a mile, the faint glimmers of the bonfire could be seen. As they trekked on towards the gathering, the crew chatted idly with Monty, trading stories about what they'd been up to since they'd last seen each other. Incidentally, Monty's beard had already made significant progress in growing out again since he shaved it off after marrying the con-artist, YoSaffBridg.

While Monty was loudly bragging about taking out half a dozen smugglers in a firefight, Kaylee jogged over to Mal and quickly laced her arm within his. Mal looked down at Kaylee, a bit taken aback and Kaylee merely beamed up at him. Mal's startled face quickly melted into a wide grin of his own, unable to resist under the influence of Kaylee's infections joy. Jayne nudged Wash in the ribs and pointed Mal and Kaylee out to him. Wash started to snicker but got promptly smacked upside the head by Zoë who gave him her best "knock it off" expression. Wash simply coughed out his laugh and continued walking.

When the group reached the site, there were a few dozen people there waiting on them who greeted the crew with many warm greetings and fond embraces. For the next hour or so, everybody mingled amongst each other, catching up on old times and introducing themselves to people they had yet to meet. As night fell, it was decided they should break out the alcohol.

A few hours later, the party was in full swing and a few of the revelers had started playing some music for people to dance to. Mal was standing off by himself, taking a moment for himself. Not too far from him, Jayne and River were having a drinking contest with Monty and near the fire, Zoë and Wash were happily snuggling each other. Mal's gaze finally fell upon Kaylee who was happily chatting up some of Monty's crew. He'd always found Kaylee to be an exceptionally pretty woman but he couldn't get over how truly stunning she looked tonight. Just then, Simon came walking over to Mal, looking out of breath and distressed.

"Hey there doc, what's the trouble?"

"I lost track of River. Have you seen her anywhere?" asked Simon frantically.

"Yeah, she's just over there," Mal said, pointing to where he'd just seen her. Simon took off towards them while Mal followed behind, wanting a word with Monty. When he saw what exactly was going on, Simon stopped dead in his tracks and turned white as a sheet, horrified at what he was seeing. Jayne was lying in the grass, looking at the stars and singing drunkenly while River and Monty kept throwing back cups of beer as a small crowd cheered and encouraged them on.

"River Tam, drop that alcohol!" Simon roared, his shock having been replaced with rage as he pulled River from her seat and dragged River away. "You're not old enough to be drinking yet!"

"But Simon, I was winning!" whined River with a faint slur in her voice as she tried to drag her feet in protest but her stronger brother would have none of it and dragged her away into the shadows. Mal chuckled to himself as he sat down in the seat River vacated and drowned the rest of her drink himself.

"Getting drank under the table by a seventeen year old girl Monty? You're a disgrace to the male gender," Mal said jokingly.

"She lies," Monty hiccupped, clearly heavily drunk. "I nearly had her. She's lucky her brother was there to save her the disappointment."

Mal scoffed to himself as the band started up a high-energy polka tune and lots of people converged around the fire to dance. Mal noticed River darting out of the darkness and over to Kaylee. She pulled her away from her conversation and the two started dancing happily together. Mal watched the two of them, feeling his heartbeat start to quicken considerably as he watched his mechanic swirl and spin amongst the flames.

"You're fulla shit if you tell me again that there's nothing going on between you two," Monty mumbled. "I see the way you're smiling right now. That's not a smile of someone who's just friends." Mal chose to ignore Monty's claim and kept watching Kaylee and River. The two were the highlight of the current dance as people gradually stopped their own dancing and chose instead to watch them.

"She sure is a real beauty Mal. Wouldn't blame you one bit if you did get involved with her," said Monty.

"Yeah, she really is. Hey, can I ask you something? Before your little marriage ended, how'd it feel? Didja feel good?"

"Oh boy did it ever. I hadn't felt that happy since I was a boy back home. Sure, she turned out to be a liar and a two-timing jezebel but when we still were together, it was magical."

"You regret it all?" Mal asked as the song ended and the crowd around the fire broke into applause for the show Kaylee and River put on.

"Not one gorram bit. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat just because of how great it was while it lasted. Being a bachelor is nice and all but once you find that someone who makes you feel like the luckiest guy in the 'verse, there's nothing else that can measure up to that."

With that, Monty patted Mal on the shoulder and headed off to find some more alcohol. The band struck up a slower tune and couples started pairing off and slow-dancing around the fire. Kaylee sought out Mal and finally saw him over away from the fire. She walked over to him and gave him a small curtsy.

"May I have this dance, Cap'n?"

Mal smiled warmly and got to his feet, taking Kaylee's hand in his. They walked over to the fire near Wash and Zoë before Kaylee slid her arms around Mal's neck and Mal snaked his around her waist and rested his hands on the small of her back. Kaylee pressed her face into Mal's chest and smiled serenely. Mal nuzzled his cheek against her hair and was overwhelmed with the smell of strawberries from her shampoo.

"You sure smell nice darlin'," Mal murmured to her.

"Thanks Mal," responded Kaylee, sighing happily as she pressed herself closer against Mal. Mal shivered a bit as his whole body tingled, feeling like electricity was surging throughout him. It had been ages since he'd felt like this but all he could definitively think right now is that he'd give everything, even Serenity, to keep dancing like this with Kaylee forever. For the first time since the war, Mal felt true peace and safety with Kaylee's arms wrapped around him.

Suddenly, the music abruptly stopped and loud voices shouting were heard. Mal turned to see the source of the commotion and saw Simon clutching River's arm, yelling incessantly at some drunk who was trying to get at River, wanting a dance. Simon furiously tried to get him away but it proved to be fruitless as without warning the man hauled off and belted Simon in the jaw. Various roars went up around them as people rushed towards the tussle. Someone went barreling into Mal, who in turn bumped into Kaylee and sent her flying and she stumbled and tripped right into the fire.

"Kaylee, no!" hollered Mal as Kaylee quickly scrambled to her feet and out of the fire, screaming and cursing loudly as she tried to put herself out. Mal rushed over to her and threw his coat on her to try and extinguish any fire that was on her. After making sure she was okay, Mal sought out the man he'd seen slam into him and caused Kaylee to fall. He found him on the fringes of the scrum and ran full-bore towards him, tackling him hard to the ground.

Mal started raining down hard punches to the man's face but Mal was quickly stopped by some of the man's friends who started landing their own blows on Mal in retaliation. Wash tended to Kaylee while Zoë dashed over to help out Mal and Simon. She picked up one of the steel folding chairs that people had brought and started hammering various brawlers with it, trying to break everything up. Out of nowhere, gunshots started ringing out as the fight began escalating. Zoë cleared away the ruffians from Mal, Simon and River and all of them took off running.

"Come on, let's get the hell out of here!" Mal yelled out. "Someone go get Jayne!"

Wash went to go find the drunken mercenary in the brawl while the rest of the Serenity crew tried to hide out from the fray, ducking anytime someone fired their gun. Finally Wash returned with Jayne who did not look pleased about having to leave a fight but was stumbling along anyway. With everyone present, the crew all turned and scampered away from the party back to the safety of Serenity.


Finally the crew made it safely back to Serenity, a little banged up and out of breath but still intact and not too happy about how the night's events turned out. Mal shook dirt off his coat while Kaylee slunk along behind him, her dress singed from the fire and nursing a burn on her arm. Everyone wordlessly went upstairs to their bunks while Mal and Kaylee strayed behind in the cargo bay. Mal sat heavily down on a crate and but his head in his hands while Kaylee sat down next to him.

"I'm real sorry Kaylee. I truly didn't want that to happen back there. I wanted you to have a nice time tonight. Seems like we can't go to a party without violence happening."

"Aw, it's okay Cap'n. I'm fine and before things broke down, it was a nice time. I especially had fun dancing with you," replied Kaylee, placing a reassuring hand on Mal's knee.

"Hmm, yeah, that was pretty nice, wasn't it?"

"You know, way I recall it, we never got to finish that dance. How bout it Mal? May I have the rest of this dance?"

Kaylee got to her feet and offered Mal her hand to Mal. Mal smiled at her and took her hand and got back to his feet. Kaylee slid her arms around Mal's neck again while Mal placed his arms on Kaylee's hips. The two swayed back and forth while Kaylee softly hummed the same song they danced to earlier. She nuzzled her cheek against Mal's as they danced and she periodically would run her finger down the back of Mal's neck, making him shiver a bit. Both captain and mechanic shared pleasant smiles as they continued their slow movement.

"Thanks so much for an amazing night Mal," whispered Kaylee softly after she'd paused her humming for a moment.

"It was my pleasure Kaylee. Girl as pretty as you deserves to have amazing nights as much as she can."

"Aw, that's just the booze talking," Kaylee replied blushing a bit.

"No, it's really me talking. You really are a stunningly beautiful woman Kaylee, and you've never looked more beautiful than you do right now. Any man in the 'verse would be happy to have you on their arm right now."

"Gee captain, if'n I didn't know any better, by the way you're talkin', I'd think you wanted to be that man."

"Maybehaps I do."

Kaylee looked at Mal, stunned at his words. Mal merely smiled back at her, his eyes glimmering in a way that Kaylee could tell wasn't just inebriation.

"You serious?"

"Can't say it hasn't crossed my mind more than a few times tonight. I had probably the best night I've had in years and it wasn't because of the drinking or seeing old friends. It was because of you. I haven't felt like this in near a decade and I wanna feel like this a lot more. And if that means taking a jump like this, I'd be up for taking it."

"Now I know it's the alcohol talking," Kaylee said with a smirk. "Malcolm Reynolds doesn't believe in romances aboard his ship. He doesn't like having any complications like this in his work."

"You can choose not to believe it if you wish but this truly is a bona fide offer, honest and true. I know I've made my stance on matters like this well-known in the past but I'd like to try something else for once. Living by this policy has gotten me nothing but heartache and loneliness and I can see how well ignoring it is going for people like Zoë and Wash. I'd kinda like a little of that happiness myself. And I'd like to take that shot with you."

Kaylee pondered that for a moment before standing on her tiptoes and kissing Mal lightly on the lips. As their lips parted, a cheer went up above their heads and Mal and Kaylee looked up to see the entire rest of the crew standing above them, all whooping and cheering at their kiss. Kaylee blushed crimson while Mal simply rolled his eyes at their antics. Mal shooed them away so he could resume his private moment with Kaylee. The crew dispersed and headed off to bed chatting with each other about how they'd known it all along that Mal had feelings for Kaylee.

"So, was that a yes?" Mal asked Kaylee slyly, gently brushing his fingers across her face. Kaylee simply smiled and pulled Mal in for another kiss, this one longer and deeper than the first as both of them buried their hands in each others hair. After a few moments, they finally broke apart and resumed their dancing. The two of them remained like that for the rest of the night, dancing slowly together until morning.



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