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Disclaimer: Firefly and all related elements, characters and indicia © Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television, 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situations -- save those created by the author for use solely on this website -- are copyright Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.

Notes: Inspired by the original version of sleeping beauty (Talia, The Sun and The Moon). Thanks to janeeyre17 and inalasahl for telling me that this wasn't the worst flu-inspired idea ever, brosia for telling me I didn't have to choose, skripka for being the best beta ever, and everyone else who encouraged.

Rated R (if you are under the age of majority in your country, please click the back button).
 
WARNING: elements of non-con.
 
Spoilers for Heart of Gold and Objects in Space.

Asking Too Much  

by liquideyes

Her feet carried her across deck plates that she knew were metal and cold and sharp. There were no calluses (hard boots had once offered protection) but she felt nothing. She was already numb. Couldn't close her eyes without reliving terror. Didn't want to scream. Walked instead.
 
It was quiet. Too quiet. Nothing in the halls (so she had once thought). Her feet should have headed for the engine room. She was thankful they did not. Instead they took her to the infirmary. It was dark, but she could see the outline of Simon through the window (her eyes had adjusted without her noticing). He looked so peaceful, lying there. The door opened with a whoosh.
 
Inside she could hear his breathing, soft and alive. She stroked his hair, dark and silky through her fingers. Shivered. His forehead was so warm (her lips were so cold) as was his cheek and his temple and his jaw.
 
At the touch of her mouth to his the ice cracked. She dove in head first. Instinctive need moved her to fill the emptiness inside. Let this let her remember. His arms came up around her (dreams suddenly sweetened). She closed her eyes (his never opened).
 
 ***
 
His name fell from her lips over and over again as she moved above him while he said nothing at all.
 
***
 
She felt him stiffen, the feel of his body changing slightly as his hand moved to rub his eyes.
 
"Kaylee?" sleep and drugs muffled surprise.
 
She could see him wake fully as if cold water splashed. Could see the shock-horror in his eyes as his hands tightened on her arms. Felt realization break. Jerked away from him, face flaming. Ran.
 
***
 
She flew through the halls, bare feet hitting the deck plates. Quiet when compared to combat-booted clomping. But not that quiet. She left behind her waves of anguish-turmoil-uncertainty. Hair flowing behind her, tears streaming silently from half-closed eyes. She noticed nothing.
 
Inara stopped her. Enfolded her in silk robed arms. The juxtaposition confused her. She struggled, reaching for something unattainable. Her needy mouth found Inara's plum-coloured lips. She kissed her hard. Then broke away, wide eyes wide open. More confusion.
 
Inara knew. She knew in a language companions were trained to hear. She could heal this, knew how to give her this. One more tie. One more complication. The desperation—wrenching empty black hole of need-want-shame-help her—Kaylee's eyes pulled at everything that had almost made Inara head priestess at house Madrassa. Before she had almost let herself forget it was a calling. Inara could not refuse her (anyone) this. The giving was her last gift. Inara took her hand and coaxed her to her shuttle, into the deep red brocades, rich velvets and softest of silks. She was not broken. She showed her.
 
***
 
Jayne was cleaning his guns. He'd be ready next time. Vera'd be ready next time. He touched her like an old lover. Kaylee watched, invisible. She had overridden the door lock (being the mechanic had its benefits). Danger always made him horny. And he knew when to not ask questions. When to accept. He liked her. Respected her. Knew that this wasn't a big deal (even though it was).
 
Hand pressed to the side of his face, she looked him in the eye. Shocked (that she was there and what she was offering/asking), his hackles rose. "Please," she said soft and low and needy (No one ever said please to him like that. He almost never said please, though his momma'd taught him to be polite). Other hand pressed over his heart before gently stroking his chest and lower. That was all it took (so unaccustomed to gentle these days).
 
He knew they'd never talk about it. Knew she'd be gone in the morning. Knew sex was part of living, and helped her remember that. That it could be a good time between friends. He gave her what she needed. Tried not to be silently pleased that maybe he had one up on the Doc. Tried even harder not to think what Mal would do. Then decided to hell with thinking and enjoyed himself. Hoped she did too.
 
***
 
"Shhhh, shhh, shhhhh." Simon kissed her and held her and didn't know what to else do. Felt her tears scald his shoulder. Didn't know if everything would be different (bad or okay) in the morning. Or if he could forgive her. Or himself (Ariel was the cause, he and River the symptoms).
 
***
 
The sleeping prince was helpless. Not without help. And not quite sleeping. And maybe in need of rescuing. But not more than the princess was. But the gown had been torn, stripped to ashes, or a pumpkin. She wasn't pretty—didn't feel like a princess. Wasn't dreaming hazy not-dreams of being killed. Of losing everything. But the princess was helpless—hopeless—scared. Pricked her finger. But the prince was coming, though the woods—through the black. But she couldn't rescue him. She was sleeping. No, he was sleeping. And the princess was going to find the prince sleeping. Sleeping beauty. They were wearing the wrong clothes. Going up the down slide. She didn't want to watch.
 
He read her bedtime stories. Even though by the age of three she could read text-books and novels by herself, he came to her when their parents were out at parties—most nights—and got her ready for bed, tucked her in and pulled out a book. She could choose. She remembers choosing. Sometimes she chose particle physics. Usually she chose the handsome prince, the tricky fox, the big bad wolves (not like real wolves - they named them wrong) and sometimes gingerbread and hidden treasure and often dancing girls. He rescued her like the princesses. But then she rescued him. She needed him. So did he. And so did she. There were a thousand and one tales, to the power of infinity—the number of story tellers. She knew the stories behind them. She knew the stories behind everything.
 
She didn't know which was real. Or if they all were. She saw the prince find the sleeping princess. He did not wake her with a kiss. Not in the Italian. Cattivo. Only one future had babies in nine months. Or maybe just the story. (She would like to play with the little babies, and would, one day). She still didn't want to watch.
 
***
 
Translations: Cattivo = bad (Italian)
 

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