"Where is he?" Jayne growled as he stomped through the hatchway from the passenger dorm. He was still moving stiffly, and wore a make-shift brace over one knee.
"Gorram sumbitch's gonna wish he never set foot on this boat after I'm done with him." The big mercenary was practically breathing fire as he ripped open the hidey in the cargo bay and reached inside, groping with one arm blindly in the dark.
Kaylee stood in the pit, her head and shoulders the only thing visible with one half of the double doors in the cargo bay floor open. She'd done a quick and dirty job of repairing the DC line after the Reavers had attached a jury-rigged booby-trap half a year back, and with the engines purring like kittens, she was finally getting to the bottom half of her massive to-do list.
"Where's who?" she asked as she pulled off her goggles and powered down the torch she was using to weld a new plate into place above the DC line.
"The ruttin' doctor."
"I ain't seen him since breakfast. What's got you so riled up?"
"Hehelook what he did to Vera!"
He held out the Callahan he'd had as long as she'd known him, eyes practically welling with tears.
Kaylee inspected the gun with a critical eye. "It's only the one pin."
"Kaylee, it's the firing pin!" Jayne exploded.
"Well, would you rather have the titanium in your gun, or in your knee?"
"She's my very favourite gun! I'd cut off my own damn leg before I'd take a single metal shaving off Vera!"
"Cap'n prob'ly wouldn't have seen it that way. And you weren't exactly awake to give tell anybody otherwise."
"No, it was the doctor. I know it was. That was him, getting back at me for" Jayne began, then shut his mouth, and she swore she could actually hear his molars grinding together, "stuff."
"What sorta stuff?"
"Don't matter," he said quickly. "I'm gonna rip his arms off."
"Oh, y'are not, you big baby. Who'd sew you back up next time you get all blown full of holes, you do that?"
"We did just fine with Zoe and Mal medic-ing."
"Ain't no way Zoe or Mal coulda put your knee back together, after what Katie's crew did to it. Hell, you're lucky to be walking at all!"
"I'd rather ruttin' crawl." He held up the gun and stroked her barrel lovingly. "This here's a customised triggerman who made it is dust these six years, ain't never gonna get her back to the way she was. She's been... defiled."
Kaylee patted the deckplates next to her toolbox with one gloved hand. "Why don't you leave her here with me and next time we set down, I'll see what parts I can find as would do."
Jayne's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "How come he didn't scrounge none of your bits to patch me up?"
"I ain't got any titaniumnot to spare. Simon said that was only thing would do."
"'Course he wouldhe knows damn near everything else I got is plastic or steel."
"You saying it was deliberate? That he'd lie, about a thing like that?"
"I'm just sayin'boy better watch his step, 'cause when I find him..."
Kaylee rolled her eyes, and got back to welding. She watched Jayne lumber up the stairs two at a time, headed towards the mess. Once he was up in the foredeck, she switched the torch off again.
"You know, ship ain't that big. He's gonna find you eventually."
"I could stay here," came Simon's voice from the other side of the pit where the doctor was hidden beneath the second door. She crouched down on so they were eye-level. He was crammed in there pretty tightbalanced on the balls of his feet, knees folded up to his chest, and he had his arms braced under bits of machinery to keep from moving. His white shirt was smudged with grease, and his dark hair had a light dusting of grit. "It's actually quite roomy, down here. I'm thinking of putting up curtains. You and River could slip me food twice a day and I don't think he'd even notice."
She chuckled. "Was Vera really the only source of surgical grade titanium onboard?"
He nodded, and grimaced as he hit his head on the underside of the door. "It's is corrosion-resistant and has a greater strength-to-weight ratio than steel, not to mention being twice as light and almost completely hypo-allergenic. That's why they've been using it for prosthetics since pretty much time began."
"Well, then you got right on your side."
Simon frowned. "That's hardly going to stop him from removing my fingers one by one."
"You could always kick him in the knee," she offered helpfully. "He's gimpy. You could out-run him."
"That's a valid point." He seemed to be giving this careful consideration, and Kaylee laughed.
"You wouldn't, really."
"Kick Jayne in the knee I just spent six hours rebuilding? No, I wouldn't." Simon shook his head, and then got a faraway look in his eyes. "But I like to picture it. It gives me a warm, happy feeling."
"You're too much," she grinned, then crained her neck so she could see the upper catwalk from her vantage point. "I think if you go now, you can make it to shuttle two without getting spotted. It locks from the inside, and only me and Wash now how to get it open from this side."
Scrambling out of the pit, he started for the shuttle, only to double back only five paces away. He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"What was that for?" she asked, blinking.
"Rescuing me," he said, completely serious.
"Well." She smiled up at him. "Any time, Doc."
He dashed off towards the shuttles, and she went back to welding the plate in place with a smile playing around the corners of her mouth.