Natural Talent
Sunday, March 23, 2003

Kaylee and Wash? It could have happened, but it didn't.


Disclaimer: Firefly belongs to people not me. Intended for fun, not profit.

Note: This is the long awaited and hardly anticipated piece of le-se. I shouldn't say that, should I?

Thanks: To LostAngel and Philomel for good, if dueling, betas.

Feedback: Oh yeah. Bring it.

Natural Talent

Mal walked down Serenity’s corridor enjoying the small noise his boots made on the grating. When he stopped, he could feel the ship thrum up his legs, vibrating at the same speed as his body. He and his ship were in tune. His ship. The feeling was still new and wonderful. Having Serenity didn’t make his life any less difficult, but always knowing where his home was did. Knowing that he would be with Serenity in good times and in bad made the uncertainty okay. Hell, some days the uncertainty was a thrill.

The crew was coming together nicely. Having Zoë at hand was a comfort, a comfort the way having oxygen in the atmo was good. Things had locked into place when he signed the new mechanic on. And speaking of Kaylee, he thought, he found himself staring into the engine room at the working heart of his ship and soul and four pairs of feet. He pushed from his mind a memory of the last time he’d seen that.


“Captain!” Her voice was pleasantly muffled. There was a clang and all four feet jumped in time, at one point crossing over each other in a tangle of boots. Mal heard metallic laughter.

“What that about in there, Kaylee?”

“Hold this,” Wash chuckled as his hand shot out from under the engine. Mal walked to them and squatted down a safe distance from their feet. He took the part, a snaking ceramic tube and looked at it blankly.

“What’re you doin’ under there, Wash?” Mal’s voice was edgy and accusatory.

Kaylee wiggled her way out.

“He’s helping, Captain.” She brushed her hair out of her eyes.

“There’s the problem!” Wash practically shouted.

Kaylee turned to his voice and the hollow ripping sound that sounded from under the engine, followed by a large chunk of metal, bent and scorched looking.

“What’s that doing in there?” Kaylee held the remnant out to Mal while Wash scooted out and sat up.

“Don’t rightly know,” said Mal, now holding two pieces of his engine and not understanding either of them. “They don’t got to be in there?”

“That,” said Wash, pointing to the damaged part, “is keeping us from getting more from the fuel cells. I say we get couple hundred more miles today without that in there.” Mal nodded appreciatively. Kaylee beamed.

“And this one?” Mal looked at the ceramic as if weighing it.

“Stopgap I put in a couple of weeks ago, Captain,” Kaylee said. “It’s holding us for awhile until we can get a new compression coil.” Mal nodded. Kaylee’s smile faded. “We are getting a new compression coil, ain’t we?” She looked to Wash for support.

“Reckon I got the best crew in the ‘verse.” Mal handed the tube back to her and stood. “And I think you all can get just a little farther with ingenuity.”

Wash grinned. Kaylee did not. “Captain, that compression coil goes we’re on the drift. Ain’t all the ingenuity in the ‘verse get us out of that.” Her voice was simultaneously terse and pleading.

“Well, we’re about a day out of Quanyin. Might look around there.” Mal turned and walked out.

Kaylee rolled her eyes toward Wash. He sat behind her, with his ankles crossed and his forearms resting on his knees. He still held the broken thrust plate. “Talk to him for me?” Kaylee asked.

Wash laughed. “I will. I’m persuasive. Got this job. Got a nice bunk. Don’t get your hopes up.”

“I’ll rewire the grav thrust again.”

“Good idea. Think on the damping coils, too. Or I’ll do it. Make her easier to guide.”

“Glad you take an interest, Wash.”

“Why wouldn’t I take an interest?” He relaxed his knees and leaned back against the bulkhead, sitting in easy position. “Actually, I was faking an interest. Long as she goes left when I turn, I’m good.”

Kaylee laughed at him.

“Dunno. Just surprised a little that you knew the ship. What’s your favorite to fly?”

Wash smiled for a moment, thinking. “I know lots of ships. Firefly’s a good one. Lots of tricks to learn.”

Kaylee shifted over so that she sat between Wash and the engine, her back also to the wall. She rubbed a wrench with her thumb. Wash's voice was contemplative. “Versatile ship, the 'fly. Firefly's probably my favorite—got some road feel to her. Let's you know how she likes it and when she wants it."

Kaylee snickered at his reference, and Wash grinned back. "I've flown every ship in the ‘verse, just about, even the big ones, blackblind and just going on monitors. If I can guide by the sky though, I’ll do it. Navsats can go and then, then you gotta know your sky. And I'll tell you Kaylee, there ain't nothin' better-- nothing purer-- than that.”

“I never worked on any but this one.”

“Really? You know what you’re doing in there.” Wash fiddled with a pair of pliers and eventually used them to point to the engine.

“Daddy says I got natural talent.” Kaylee beamed

“Yes. I remember hearing something about that.” Wash chuckled.

“You heard what? Cap’n told you I had talent?”

“Yes.” Wash tried to compose himself but was unsuccessful. “Mal said that you did have talent.”

“You’re funnin’ on me.”

“I am.”

“So he said somethin’ else.”

“He did.”

“Wash!” She punched him lightly. He considered punching her back, but instead, bent to pluck at her bootlaces with his pliers. “Stop that. What’d he say?”

“Said you’re a good mechanic. Polite girl. Nice dress.”

“Nice dress?” She pulled on Wash’s sleeve as he deliberately and obviously avoided making eye contact with her.

“Kaylee, come on.”

“Nice dress, nice dress.” She murmured to herself. “Oh! Nice dress!” She punched him again. “Captain saw me and that guy,” she watched as Wash nodded at her, trying not to grin. “Saw me and that Bester in here with the engine.”

“Helluva hootenanny, as I’ve heard it.”

“Well, it was,” Kaylee drifted some before she realized. “Ain’t none of your business!”

“Never said it was!”

“But you know about it?”

“I know something, I suppose.” He gestured at her with the pliers.

“Wash!” She socked him again. Then she fell against him, laughing. He caught her and took the wrench from her before she could use it against him. She tried to dig at his ribs, tried to tickle him, but he was much stronger than her. After letting her get a few free digs in, he forced her arms up, above her head, wrists together.

“This isn’t getting the grav thrust rewired, Kaylee.” He was still grinning, breathing a little heavily.

“No it ain’t.” She looked into his eyes and then to his lips. “It ain’t at all.” She leaned in to kiss him.

Her lips were soft and smooth against him. She tasted vaguely of the coffee they had shared over breakfast. Her hair brushed his cheeks, smooth and cool. Her body sank against his, and she pressed down with her wrists, still above her head in his hands. Blind to everything but the smell and taste of her, he let his hands settle on her waist. Arms free, and never letting the kiss break, she swiveled and straddled him, pressing the full front of her body to his. Her breasts pressed against his chest, small and perfect. Her tongue caressed his bottom lip and then pushed past his teeth. She continued to kiss him, and reached for the zipper on her jumpsuit. The noise of it slicking down brought him back to his senses.

“Mmm. Kaylee, no.” He jerked his head back against the bulkhead hard. He pushed against her belly with one hand to stop the progress of her zipper and used the other to rub the back of his head.

“What do you mean no?” She looked confused and solicitous

“I mean, no. No more.” He blinked strongly. The few stars he was seeing were fading, but she was still warm on his lap and he knew she felt what he couldn’t hide.

“Why not? I thought you were enjoying it.” She settled backward, still on his lap, but leaning toward his knees. He took her by the waist and gently pushed her back where she had been, sitting between him and the engine with her back to the bulkhead. Chewing on his bottom lip, he tasted her, the sweetness of her, and brought his knees up to protect something he thought of as betrayed modesty.

“I was. Ain’t the point..."

“What was it?” She cut him off. Her face was flushed and concerned.

“Point is, Kaylee, I’m too…. On certain backward kinds of planets, I’m old enough to be..., it’s just… it ain’t the point.” It was the first thing he could think of. Only thing he could think of really.

“You ain’t that old. Hell, I been with older.”

“Kaylee.” He held up a hand toward her. She twisted, her foot kicking out and hitting the discarded wrench. Its clanging noise rattled them both.

“Kaylee, you’re sweet and wonderful and a very good kisser.” Damn she was a good kisser, he mentally repeated to himself. “But, I am, uh—I want to. Except for that there’s….” She cut her eyes toward him, confused. “I would… you’re very sweet.”

“What’re you dancing around Wash? Don’t like girls?” She was fiercely open and it shocked him.

“Like girls fine, Kaylee.”

“Hey, I been…” He raised a hand to quiet her again.

“I been, too. As much as I just enjoyed that, right then, I think I better not.”

“So you do like girls?”

He nodded at her, wrinkling his nose apologetically.

“You like Zoe.” Her voice was soft, but insightful.

“Yeah.” The moment was a confession, to himself most of all. He tucked his chin some and nodded.

“Oh.” Kaylee’s expression approached crestfallen. “Think she likes you back?”

"Don't rightly know. I'm aiming to find out."

"That don't mean we ..." she tried, but her voice didn't seem to hold a lot of hope, and this time, he didn't even bother holding a hand out to her.

“It does.”


“Yeah.” He wiped sweaty palms on his legs. “But. I’m sorry.”

She frowned, and, try as he might, he just couldn't think of anything funny to say.

“I’ll take it as a compliment, though.” He elbowed her in the ribs. She tried to smile at him.

“Okay. She elbowed him back.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, avoiding each other’s eyes. Eventually Kaylee snickered.

“I just thought that you was…” she trailed off. “I mean, the way you knew your way around under there, I thought, you know.”

“I could see how you’d think that, and I know my way around, sure. Which is why you don’t want me Kaylee. One of these days, someone’ll come aboard and he’ll be just right for you.”

Kaylee grinned. “Want me to talk to Zoe for you? About you?”

“Ah, no. I got moves,” His practiced, grinning confidence made her giggle. “Thanks for the offer though. We’ll see what happens. And, in the end, there are plenty of ships in the sky.”

“You’d leave Serenity?” Kaylee seemed flabbergasted. Wash nodded. “But I thought you said you loved Fireflies. Not many flying anymore.”

“No, there aren’t.” Wash conceded, the thought it of furrowing his brow. “I’ll give it the ‘ole college try?”

“The what?”

“The ‘ole college try. An expression from Earth-that-was. Used to know someone who knew bunches of old expressions like that—means to really concentrate on something. Least I think it does. Or it means something about sex, which would also be appropriate to this situation.”

“I see. Hey Wash?” He stood and she reached up for his hand. He took it, noting the calluses. He thought of the shell that held her, rough on the outside and so unsophisticated. But in the engine she was always three steps ahead of him. She taught him things. And she had taken no schooling for it; she just knew what to do. Did everything by instinct. Did everything from her heart. And that heart was huge and innocent and protected by calluses and engine grease.

“Yeah, Kaylee?” She held to his hand, so much bigger than hers. She thought he was an enigma—a crazy guy in a crazy shirt who made love to her ship every day. Knew how to treat her ship and touch her and make her whisper through the black.

“The compression coil. We need it.”

“Right,” he smiled and pulled his hand from hers. “I’ll do my best.”


“You’re welcome, Kaylee.” He smiled at her once more before walking out of the engine room, leaving her sitting against the bulkhead, Serenity’s heart turning smoothly, reassuringly.


Sunday, March 23, 2003 1:15 PM


Awww... Wash is really a great guy, true to his Zoë before she was even his. You did a good job trying an angle not many people have looked at. Kaylee and Wash, very interesting. You ended it well too, I can see this actually happening and them not being weird about it later. Shiny!

Sunday, March 23, 2003 7:58 PM


Shiny. I liked this a lot. Unexpected. I was a little confused a first though. I thought the ship was running smoothly through space when you talked about Mal, but then (apparently) Kaylee and Wash were working inside of the engine? I think maybe I just misread something. Regardless, it was very good.

Monday, March 24, 2003 4:45 AM


Sigh. Thanks Sarah, I was gettin' antsy for your next piece o' work!

Monday, March 24, 2003 11:36 AM


For some reason, the above coment was posted "anonymous." Hmm.. anyway, it's Noocyte here. Just so's you know who's praisin' you and all

Monday, March 24, 2003 12:20 PM


bewdie! one thing i haven't lauded to you before is how very effectively you capture the characters. once again, absolutely choice!

Friday, March 26, 2004 6:13 PM


That was perfect; just enough tease (you're right: it could happen) but no so much that it would spoil the story of Wash hooking up w/Zoe... Now, has anyone written the fan fic of Wash hooking up w/Zoe?

Friday, December 3, 2004 1:18 AM


I love the lightness of the story, meaning you captured the Wash and Kaylee perfect. The ribbing, the funnin'...

Was easily seen.

Keep flyin'


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Red Rocket, White Candle
I ain't sayin' there's any peace to be had, but if there is, Wash will find it in the Western sky.

Married and Madly in Love
In the aftermath of Saffron, Wash and Zoe talk marriage, stars, and geese.

Consistent Resurrection
A short history of Zoe.

First Mate
Wash is injured-- physically, and by Zoe's reluctance to make him her first priority.

Laid Bare
Ever wonder what happened to that ambulance? A little bridge between Ariel and War Stories.

Natural Talent
Kaylee and Wash? It could have happened, but it didn't.

Over and Over and Over
Moments of Zoe, in the spaces of War Stories.

Extreme Unction
The living heart of Serenity bleeds to death. A volley at Succatash.

The Heart of Her
Wash proposes.

Mood to Burn Bridges
Mal's original edict on shipboard romances