DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these delightful characters, they are the property of Joss Whedon and other people.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
'Way I figure it, y'all got somethin' you're not telling me.'
The rest of the crew exchanged small glances. Inara herself moved slightly closer to Kaylee, but not so close it would arouse any further suspicion in the captain. Mal was already dangerously near to anger; she'd had enough experience with him to recognise the signs.
Mal ran his eyes from left to right over the assembly. 'Jayne?'
'Well, I don't know nothin'.'
'That I believe. Zoe?'
'Sir?' His right-hand woman stared him right out; Inara wasn't surprised, but impressed all the same.
He let out his breath then looked to his pilot. 'Wash? Now I know you can't keep your mouth shut.'
'You know, I resent that,' Wash said conversationally.
'Oh, wuh de ma! Someone is tellin' me the truth right now or we're not leavin' this rock.'
Shepherd Book cleared his throat. 'Considering the enemies you've just made, is that a wise decision?'
'Well, I'm not fussed 'bout being shot, happened before.'
'Hey, I am!' Jayne cut in.
'Then someone better start talkin'!'
Kaylee gulped. 'Okay.'
Mal cocked his head towards her. 'Kaylee?'
Inara was as surprised as the rest of the crew. Wash and Zoe exchanged worried glances whilst, over the in the corner, Simon pursed his lips and became very interested in his folded arms. Shepherd Book scratched his beard with alarming ferocity. River, conversely, just smiled.
'Yeah, um ' Kaylee giggled nervously. 'See, lately I've been thinkin' and I '
'Thinkin'? Mal repeated. 'Kaylee, come on! I jus' wanna know what you're all keeping from me, is all. Don't need no explanation.'
'Oh, you might,' Wash muttered.
'Got something to say?' Mal queried.
The pilot shook his head. 'Not me, Mal. You know me.'
'Too well.' His eyes drifted back to Kaylee. 'Go on.'
'Well, I um I wanna leave the ship, Capt'n. Y'know, I'm gettin' homesick.'
It was a rushed story and Inara wasn't sure Mal would buy it but he contemplated it thoughtfully for a few seconds. 'That was it? That was what y'all were hiding?'
They nodded in unison, all except Jayne.
Mal was suddenly at the door. 'We need to get off this gorram rock before they come lookin'. Kaylee? We're talking about this. I can tell ya- not happening. Jayne, need you in the hold, help me secure the takings.'
They both stomped out and Inara gratefully rested her hand on Kaylee's shoulder then looked around. 'Thank you. All of you.'
'Ah, love,' Wash said dramatically. 'Who's to stand in the way?'
Kaylee smiled. 'Apart from a big hunk a' Jayne.'
Zoe, as she passed on her way out of the mess, muttered, 'You'll have to tell him eventually.'
Inara nodded. 'I know. But just '
'Not yet,' Kaylee concluded.
'There'll only be two shots fired,' came River's airy voice. 'Not so bad.'
Inara exchanged a glance with Kaylee. 'Thank you, River.'
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