THIRTY MINUTES OR FREE

The crew had split up to enjoy the pleasures of landfall and there was no communal dinner that night. Simon and River were cautiously confining themselves to the ship however, and Simon had sent out for pizza to be delivered.
The cargo ramp was down, but the airlock door was closed for security. When Simon heard the buzzer, he opened the door with his coin in hand. But rather than dinner, Kaylee was at the door, her arms filled with parcels, mostly leaking grease and all looking heavy.
“Let me help you with those.” He exclaimed, still trying to get used to the idea of this cute girl being the caretaker of a spaceship. The women his family knew may have been as likely to be professionals and salarymen as the men, but he knew no women who worked with their hands. Even civil engineers worked with computers, not steel beams and ceramic trusses, which were handled by robot workers. Kaylee fascinated him. And her natural joy and frank speech puzzled the Core boy, used to carefully calm faces and circumspect words.
“I’m okay. Just bring that dolly over here so I kin dump this stuff for sortin later.” Her coverall was sweaty and her hair was coming loose from her pigtails. Simon thought she was the cutest girl he had ever seen.
“你吃了吗?, he asked politely in Core accented Mandarin.
“I grabbed some dog on a stick at a vendor a while back. I guess I’ll just forage in the icebox.”
“I’ve sent out for a pizza. There will be lots, I ordered an extra large just to have leftovers. H“
Kaylee was delighted. This was as close to a date as she could imagine.
“Umm. Actually.” the doctor continued. “could I take advantage of you?”
Kaylee gaped. Simon blushed.
“Oh,uh. I meant. When the delivery gets here, could you take the pizza and pay the guy? I’ll give you the money. I just thought now that it might not be too wise to show my face on an Alliance world like Beaumonde.”
Kaylee deflated, but kept a smile on her face. “Sure. Capn had to tell me not to look for more passengers this aft. I hadn’t thought about your sitchation.”
“I’m profoundly grateful for the understanding of the Captain. And for the rest of you on the crew. We are putting you in a difficult position.”
“Nah. We’d be sneakin around anyways. On accounta the crime. There’s the buzzer.” But she was disappointed at being part of “the rest of you”.
————————————————————
When Mal got back to the ship, he saw Kaylee and Simon in the kitchen laughing over their meal. River was with them, leaning against her brother and picking at her food.
Without disturbing them, he went to his bunk. He stared at the bulkhead above his bed remembering the previous night when Kaylee, falling apart in his arms had murmured, “Si….” and stiffened before kissing him frantically. He told himself it was right to let her go where her heart was leading her. He had no right to keep her to himself.
____________________________________________________________
Wanna ruin a romance fast? Just murmur the wrong name while making love.
Kaylee started being more aggressive about pursuing Simon during the Jaynestown episode.

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About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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