After putting River to bed, you tidy up the infirmary. The supplies that you used to stich up River go back into their proper place, waiting for the next time that there is an injury on board the Serenity. Which you're certain will be soon enough.
You brush a hand along the smooth white countertops, the coldness comforting to your skin. River hates it in here, and you can hardly blame her. But you love it. It reminds you of the hospital, the Core, your old life. Things that you have all lost. This room is the only one on the ship that provides anything familiar.
"Is she alright?" The voice, coming from the doorway, belongs to Kaylee. It is full of worry.
"She's fine," you say, turning around to face her. "Just four stiches. She's sleeping."
"I guess you're mad at me," Kaylee says, stepping into the room.
"Mad at you for what?" you ask sharply. "Kissing my sister?"
Kaylee blushes, as you knew she would, and you instantly feel guilty. It is a deep blush, her cream skin flushing rose pink, from the curve of her forehead to the smooth slope of her neck. "It...it wasn't nothin', Simon. Just a kiss. It wasn't in my mind to betray you."
"It isn't about betraying me," you say. That's only a little lie. "It's about River. She's not well, and she's easily confused. She's just a girl."
Kaylee's face has turned bright red. Her brown eyes flash dark, the first signs of anger that you've ever seen on her face. "She ain't no girl. She's a woman. An' she knows what she wants, unlike some people. She don't hide behind being proper."
Standing in front of her, you reach out to touch her. Your steady surgeon's fingers trace the curve of her ear, and touch the softness of her cheek. Her skin is warm. She glares at you, still angry. "Do you think that that's the problem?" you ask her. "That I don't know what I want?"
"Well, if you know," Kaylee answers crossly, "you never gorram say. Or show it, or do anythin' to make me think that you've noticed me from a hole in the ground. River at least..."
You grab her slim waist and pull her towards you. This kiss is not like the others. Your mouth finds hers as surely as if you had done so a thousand times before, your tongue tasting the sweet wetness and needing more. When you pull back, you can feel her breaths coming shallow against you. "For just a moment," you whisper hoarsely, "I'd like to not talk about my sister. Perhaps not talk at all."
You pick her up, and lay her on the operating table. Her chestnut hair spills out all around her, framing her pretty face.
"You gonna cut me open again, doc?" she asks, giggling.
You run a strong hand up her side, feeling the curve of her thighs and her hips underneath her worksuit. You reach underneath her suddenly, grabbing the firm roundness of her ass, making her squeal out laughter. "I might," you answer. "I could open you up Kaylee, and let out all the light inside of you. It would spill out of you. Light so bright it would blind everyone in the room."
Kaylee giggles again. "I ain't never heard you talk like that, doc."
"I don't suppose that you have." You climb onto the table with her, and kiss her, drinking her in. Then you roll her underneath you, drawing your tongue alond her neck. You hands unbutton the suit and slip underneath, stroking her breasts, pinching the nipples until she gasps. "Don't ever," you murmur in her ear, "suggest that I don't know what I want."
"Got it," she kisses your ear, "no problem, doc." And she thrusts her hips againts you, reminding you that you are growing hard.
Underneath the jumpsuit, her panties are made of soft cotton. You pull them down just slightly, enough to touch the cleft between her buttocks, to feel where she is moist between her thighs. Moist and ready.
"Simon," she whispers softly, "don't stop."
"I have to," you whisper back.
You can feel the confusion rippling through her body. "Have to?"
"Yes." And you pull away from her. The moment is up. "River's going to wake up soon. She'll need me."
"I guess you're mad at me."
It is late. You have knocked on the hatch to Kaylee's bunk, before entering. She is sitting on her bed, reading. When she looks up, her stare meets yours, not embarrassed or shy. Not even very angry. "Mad at you for what?" she asks. "Bein' a tease?"
A slight smile touches your mouth, and settles in the blackness of your eyes. You cross the room to sit on her bed, careful to leave a large emptiness between your body and hers. "Have I told you about my life in the Core? My life at the hospital?"
She nods. "Sure. You said that you loved it there."
"I did. But I gave it up."
"Yes. I gave it up for River. I've given up so much for River."
"Musta been hard, doc."
"That's just it. It wasn't hard. It wasn't hard at all. I thought it would be, but..." your voice trails off, remembering. Kaylee is sitting with her elbows on her knees, waiting patiently for you to get to the point. You pause, just a moment. So many things hang in the air, stifling your words. The sharp bitter sting of disappointment, the sticky sweetness of unfulfilled desire. It wasn't meant to be this complicated.
"Did you know," you ask her quietly, "that my sister is in love with you?"
Brown eyes widen, and she shakes her head. So like Kaylee, to be surprised at something so obvious. "No, it ain't nothin' like that. She might like me a bit. But that's all."
You'd be the first to admit that you don't always understand what River is talking about. And you feel some guilt about that, not being able to communicate with your own sister. But the look on her face when you asked her about Kaylee needed no translation. "She's in love with you," you answer surely. "And I..."
And I am not. That's what you'd been about to say. But the hurt on Kaylee's face lets you know that it doesn't need saying. You wish that Kaylee would find some way of keeping everything that she is feeling from showing on the outside.
You want to taste her, one last time. You lean forward, and kiss her gently on the mouth. When you lean back, you see that she has started to cry. "Simon," she whispers, "don't go."
"I have to." You are already at the door. "River's going to wake up soon. She'll need me."