Fandom: Firefly/Chuck crossover
Characters: (in order of appearance) Ellie, Wash, Kaylee, Mal, Inara
Warnings: None, ye landlubber
Spoilers: None - land ho!
Word Count: 1,150 words
Written For: storydivagirl
Prompt: "Sometimes Mal is too overprotective of Kaylee and forgets she knows how to take care of herself," and "Ellie always worries about her boys, but sometimes they surprise her."
Author's Notes/Summary: Set post-Firefly/pre-Serenity and, for Chuck, AU. Title comes from The Odyssey, Book 10, line 377. Special thanks to my beta, MM, who came through in a pinch. Much appreciated!
Ellie's nervous, her face pink with concern. She looks down at Wash and the stitches she's putting in his shoulder, stealing herself. She doesn't want to - no, she can't - make a mistake. It's the first chance she's had to show her skills since she boarded this gorram ship five days ago, and she's determined not to make a mistake.
Ship already has a full time doc, but he's taken his kid sister for some much-needed planet-side rest, the engineer told her. Ellie can't remember the engineer's name, but she remembers the pep and the smile on the girl's face, and it's enough to keep her focused on the pilot's shoulder and the stitches she's working on. This is a temp gig, sure, but it'll bring in some money. Chuck'd told her before she left that he had a lead on a job, but she's worried about him; he hasn't been himself since being kicked out of school. She wonders how he is.
"Kao!" Wash near jumps off the little bed he's laying on. "Are you anywhere near done by chance? No rush, but…"
Ellie smiles at him. "Yep. Finished." She picks up a mirror from the counter and holds it up for him so he can see exactly where the stitches begin and end. "You'll need to be careful for the next few weeks. I don't think I'll be around when these are ready to come out, so you'll have to have your regular doc take care of it."
"Thanks," says Wash, sliding off the bed. "I'll take good care of it."
Once he's left the med room, Ellie finds herself alone with her thoughts once more. She cleans the area, trying to keep her thoughts on the shiny silver tools in the tray and the order in which they need to be placed.
Chuck is fine, she tells herself. Chuck is totally fine.
The words have no meaning because she doesn't believe them. Chuck needs her; they're a family, and families depend on one another. She shouldn't have left him, she thinks. Even if they did need the money. She could have found a job somewhere else; she was sure of it. She shouldn't have left him alone.
She's about to toss the rag she's using into the sink, when she hears the unmistakable sound of the captain yelling.
"No. I refuse to dock this ship so she can go gallivanting about with some pretty boy she knows through a friend of a friend of a friend. She doesn't even know him!"
"Mal, you've got to see why she's upset. She's just asking for a few days off, nothing more."
"Why are you being so pig-headed about this? You let Simon go, why not Kaylee?"
They must be coming closer, because it's easier to hear them now. Ellie recognizes the second voice as the escort. She's facing away from them, but she doesn't know if they've realized she's there, or if this is even a discussion she should be overhearing.
There's a frustrated sigh. "It's different. Kaylee's… Well, she's not… She's got these…"
"She's not a man. That's what you're trying to say, isn't it? She's not a man, so how could she possibly defend herself if she got into trouble."
"'tain't none of your business." Mal sounds sullen now, and Ellie wonders what she's missing.
The escort laughs. "Malcolm Reynolds, your backward ways never cease to amaze me. You have on board your ship some of the most powerful women I've ever met, one of whom is your second in command. Tian xiao de, how could you possibly think Kaylee couldn't handle herself?"
"Like I said, ain't none of your concern. This ship's health is more important than her engineer's sexual interests!"
Ellie hears him stomping away, after which the escort says, "Oh, Mal."
When Ellie turns around, the escort is gone.
Serenity purrs in contentment under Kaylee's able hands. She strokes it, whispering, "There you go. Nice and clean, eh?" The engine rumbles and Kaylee says, "Thought so."
Cleaning the engine helps to put out the flame the Cap'n'd lit when he told her she couldn't go planet-side. Wasn't like she asked for much; Serenity was all she needed, 'sides food of course. Why the Cap'n wouldn't let her off the ship to meet one boy - hopefully a nice, revved up man of a boy, one who'd make a right nice appetizer to Simon, who was taking his sweet time coming around to her - she wasn't sure. Of all the yu ben duh-
Her thoughts are interrupted by someone's voice down the hallway. Whomever it was said, "Captain?"
Must be the temp doc, Kaylee thinks, since she doesn't recognize the voice. She moves closer to the hallway and strains to hear what is being said.
"Nice work on Wash," says the Cap'n, but Kaylee can hear the agitation in his voice. She wonders why he's upset. Crouching down, she makes her way right up to the entrance of the room and listens hard.
"Thank you," says the new girl. Kaylee can't remember what her name is. "I wanted to talk to you about something. May I?"
"I overheard you and- I overheard you talking earlier about Kaylee and I-"
"Tzao-gao!" Kaylee winces as the Cap'n swears, but her curiosity keeps her where she is. "You got something to say about it, too, I reckon?"
"In a way."
The phrase catches Kaylee by surprise. She hasn't been paying much attention to the newcomer, but now she wonders if she's underestimated her.
"I have a brother," the temp doc says, "and I worry about him all the time. I mean all the time, non-stop. He's my only family, and I don't want anything to happen to him.
"Sometimes I- I overlook things because I'm so worried about him. Take this gig, for instance. I've worried about Chuck every day since I arrived. I worried that he wouldn't know what to do with himself or that he'd get into trouble. I just- I didn't give him any credit.
"I just got a message from him and, Captain, he's doing so well. He got a job and he sounds so happy. I'm so proud of him."
"Beggin' your pardon," says the Captain, "but how does this relate to me?"
"I think, and I really don't know you all that well, but I think you might be in a similar situation."
Kaylee grins. The girl has spunk, that's for sure. She waits to see what the Cap'n will say.
To her surprise, he waits a long while before saying, "Thank you. I'll think about that."
No one is surprised when Kaylee gets to go planet-side, least of all Ellie. What surprises her is that Kaylee winks at her before leaving the ship, as though they share a secret.
Maybe they do.