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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Simon looks for the impossible to make up for his comments in "Safe."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1861 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Simon stepped into the doorway of the shop, bringing a hand to his face and covering his mouth and nose at the stench. He almost turned and ran, almost decided the prize wasn't worth the possible contamination of his person. He glanced over his shoulder and stepped into the dark room.
A man behind the counter looked up, his mouth obscured by his bushy copper beard. His eyes narrowed and the mustache moved with his words. "Lost."
"No, I'm a... customer," Simon replied hesitantly.
"Wasn't a question," the man said, looking back down at his paper. "Best find the right place to be and in a hurry."
Simon moved to the counter. "I heard you can find... hard-to-find things."
"Yep," the man said. "Found me a dandy rich-boy right smack in the middle of my store this mornin'."
"I'm looking for this," Simon said, sliding a piece of paper across the counter.
The counterman did him the courtesy of glancing at it. "Bar down the street."
"No. No, ah... the artificial fei-oo won't work. I need the real thing."
"Real thing don't exist no more."
Simon kept his shoulders squared, his eyes a little wider than necessary. "And I understand you excel in finding the impossible."
"Boy..." the counterman sighed.
"Mal Reynolds told me," Simon said, speaking too quickly. It had been his ace in the hole and he hadn't wanted to mention the captain unless absolutely necessary. The conversation had been overheard in the galley, while he was exchanging war stories with Jayne and Book. He had overheard the man's name as Mal reminisced in anticipation of being on the same soil with him again. Hopefully Mal wouldn't come visit his old friend until Simon was well away from the storefront.
The counterman put down his wire-sheet and leaned forward, eyeing Simon again as if looking at him in a new light. "You know Malachai Reynolds?"
"It's Malcolm Reynolds," Simon replied, thankful he hadn't bluffed that part.
The mustache twitched and the big man looked back at the sheet of paper. "This won't come cheap."
Simon reached into the pocket of his vest and withdrew his payment; a gold watch given to him after graduation from medical school. The barman's eyes widened and he muttered, "Shun-sheng duh gao-wahn."
"How much will this buy?" Simon asked.
The counterman tried to look unimpressed, but his hand was hovering a few inches off the wooden counter, as if he wanted to touch it and be sure it really existed. He shrugged and said, "Cup. Maybe."
"Four cups," Simon said.
"Hoe-tze duh pee-goo!" the counterman said. "Two, final."
The counterman glared. "I ain't goin' any higher."
Simon tucked the watch back into his vest pocket. "Well. I suppose..."
"Wait, just a... hold it." He muttered some very unflattering things about Simon's lineage, then leaned forward. "Three cups."
"Deal. You'll get the watch when you deliver the goods."
The counterman grudgingly agreed.
Jayne and Mal were in the galley when Simon showed up, clutching the wooden box with both hands as he slowed his approach. "Oh. I assumed the galley would be empty this time of day..."
"Nope," Jayne said, using his biggest knife to chop an apple into quarters and then eighths. "People gotta eat, and eat people do." He ate a piece of the apple, chewing it with his mouth open and staring off into space. "Why, I do think that rhymed..."
Mal laughed and said, "That didn't even close to rhyme, Jayne."
Jayne shrugged and grunted.
"What are you cooking?" Simon asked, craning his neck to see what the two men could possibly be preparing.
"Apple sauce!" Jayne said, slamming his fist down on the segmented apple pieces. Mal, of course, thought this was the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen and proceeded to fall to one knee with laughter.
Simon slipped the small hot plate off the counter, backing away before either of the men could ask him what he was up to.
Kaylee was in the engine room, sitting Indian-style on the floor and putting together two engine pieces. Her hands and face were greasy, her jumpsuit sporting fingerprints where she'd absent-mindedly wiped her hands. She had her back to the door and didn't see Simon when he walked in. He cleared his throat and knocked lightly on the door frame. She turned, saw him and went back to her work without a word.
For someone usually so friendly, so effusive, so eager to give away a smile or a kind word, it kind of hurt for her to be so cold to him. "Hello, Kaylee," he said.
"Air conditioner not workin' in your room? Sorry, but it's the best I can get out of this luh-suh ship."
Simon winced and knelt behind her, holding the box. Balanced on top of it were the hot plate and two cups that he'd pilfered from the cabinets in the galley. "I shouldn't have said that. I know how much you love Serenity and how much you put into it. I'm sorry for what I said."
Kaylee just nodded.
"I also... want to apologize for any implication I gave that I don't think much of you. The people I am used to... fraternizing with... are the elite. The rich, the..." he searched for the right word.
"Spoiled," Kaylee supplied.
"Yes, I suppose that word works as well as any." He looked down at his offering. "You're a brilliant engineer, Kaylee. One of the best I've ever had the opportunity to meet. And growing up as one of the spoiled, we only saw the best of the best."
"I... also brought a peace offering."
She turned, scooting around to see what he had. "What's in the box?"
He set aside the hot plate and the cups, pushing the hot plate towards her. "Could you please find a way to warm this?"
She picked it up and carried it to the engine, hooking it to one of the generators. Simon stood next to her and opened the box. Kaylee peered in, eyes widening as she took in the ingredients. "Is that--"
"Authentic," Simon corrected, smiling.
"Jen mei nai-shing duh fwo-tzoo," Kaylee breathed. "Where did you... it must have cost a fortune!"
"I paid what it was worth," Simon said, remembering the watch. He withdrew the two packets of brown powder and placed one in each cup. He then used the small Chinese tea kettle to pour water over them. "Now we simply wait for it to heat up and drink it."
Kaylee bounced once, then put one hand on top of the other and feigned patience. After a moment, she turned and smiled at Simon. "You are officially forgiven, by the way."
Simon was surprised at the relief he felt hearing that. He watched her as she watched the water boil, feeling his smile stretch on his lips as she waited for the water to get hot enough to drink. He reached out and touched her hair, brushing it away from her cheek. She smiled at him and said, "Swai..."
He smiled nervously and rested his hands on his chin, joining her in watching the water boil.
His father had given him that watch. It had been a symbol of four years of medical school, of achievement, of his father's pride in a job well done. It had been validation that he was finally a man, a doctor, a success. And he had traded it to a fat man with a mustache for three packets of hot chocolate.
He looked at Kaylee's smile. Well worth it.
Monday, August 1, 2005 3:29 PM
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