The young man stared in the mirror. His hair had grown longer than he liked; nothing to do but get it cut soon. His sister occupied most of his attention, and he found it harder and harder to attend to his own needs. He reached over to the chair and pulled the dark waistcoat off the back. Feeling somewhat confident, he gazed back again into the mirror as he put it on, hoping for once that he would present an appearance that was professional. A second later the sound of his sister broke his thoughts.
“Nancy, can you help me with my Algebra?” The girl turned to the doorway in time to see her kid sister hold out her math book in request.
“Yeah…of course.” She was glad to help; it had been nearly three years since her own struggles with that subject, and she knew that Chelsea would appreciate her assistance. Pay it forward…she recalled the kind woman who had extended help to her.
“We’ve got a test on Friday and I really need some help.” Chelsea said, almost ignoring her sister’s words. Nancy nodded; a second plea for help was Chelsea’s way of expressing her worries.
“We’ve got a few days, and I don’t have to be to work this evening, so don’t worry, okay?” Nancy walked to the door and took the book out of Chelsea’s hands while rubbing her shoulder with her free hand. The girl shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
The girl looked in the mirror and blinked back a few tears. Too many words that stung…too many friends turned their back…if they had actually been friends in the first place; it still hurt to be alone. She pulled the short sleeves further down her arm before donning a light brown vest. Her long hair got caught on the steel button at the top of the garment, pulling it hard as she straightened the fit, evoking a soft ‘ow.’ She looked over her shoulder and smiled only slightly; the course brown gabardine pushed out a bit as it hung loosely over her decided curveless rear.
“Gorram hormones!” She pouted; mostly out of disappointment, but also because she wanted to try a new lip gloss. Maybe this day would be the day that attentive complements replaced awkward silence. Or worse…awkward talk that spoke of what everyone else had done that day and drew attention away to their inability to express their affection to each other. She pouted once again after she applied the lip gloss; this time entirely out of feeling frustrated and alone. It didn’t make a difference; even if she did make a reasonable facsimile of the girl in the show, nothing short of finding a boy to appreciate her would satisfy her today.
“Honey…I don’t know why you keep at it like this? You don’t look at all like a boy, so why keep this up.” Nancy’s mother didn’t understand at all, even if her tone showed a desire to understand her middle child. She never had this trouble with Keith, and Chelsea, for all her other problems, was simply the easiest child that anyone ever raised.
“I…it’s not about looks, mom. I wear the clothes because they speak to the person I am, not the other way around. I can be this way since that’s obviously the way I was created.” Mary hated when her daughter brought ‘theology’ into the discussion.
“I know…it’s just so different than when your father and I were your age.”
“Daddy understands, Mom…I don’t know why you can’t.” It really wasn’t an accusation, and Mary didn’t take it that way at all.
“Your father works with kids in his job…all sorts, so he has more experience with that.”
“Are you saying I’m disturbed?” Another tease. Mary started to frown, but realized Nancy wasn’t upset.
“I know that Daddy has so much more interaction with kids as a therapist, Mom, but you have had a hand in raising three adorable kids. You just didn’t know your middle child still was being created even after her nineteenth birthday. Maybe it was ‘his’ nineteenth birthday.”
“Oh, Nancy…do you really feel that way?” Mary looked with some worry at her middle child.
“Not in that way. I just think we move up and down the ladder, Mom. I’m not even close to the girl-alone mark, but I’m not boy-alone either. I just think …well… I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a Tammy-boy? I don’t like boys that much other than the ones in our club at the college, and even then, it’s more like they’re brothers like Keith.”
“I don’t understand, honey?”
“Let’s just say I like my equipment just fine, Mom, but I don't mind it on others, either!” She laughed as her mother’s face reddened.
“Tee Em Ei,” Mary said with a laugh.
“Okay, Mom. But really, I don’t care as much for boys, and we’ve talked about it before. It’s just how I feel about myself. Besides, don’t you think I make a good physician?” She looked down at herself.
“Well, yes, but what if Chelsea starts swinging around a samurai sword and speaking Chinese?” The two paused in thought, in synch at the idea before they both burst into laughter.
another place entirely
“You new here?” The tall young man looked at the slight, determined looking girl standing before him.
“Yes, Captain,” she said, deferring to his authority. She stepped slightly to the side as he turned his attention to the tall dark elderly man standing by the door. She sighed. If anyone was ever attractive, it would be that handsome man in charge. She looked around and saw someone she recognized. The woman walked in her direction; her long gown seemed almost fluid as it waved as she walked.
“Inara?” She said in mock confusion. The woman nodded and said, “And you must be…Kaylee?” She nodded and smiled, feeling welcome. The woman leaned closer and kissed both cheeks and spoke softly.
“The offer is open if you ever want to make closer acquaintance with a Companion.” The woman smiled once again and Kaylee smiled back awkwardly, her expression doing nothing to hide her embarrassment. A taller dark-skinned woman came up and interjected.
“I don’t think this one is ready for anything like that. I saw how she looked at Mal.” The woman turned and smiled at Kaylee.
“I’m…I’m not ready for much of anything.” She blushed dark crimson before shrugging her shoulders in an almost apologetic stance.
“It’s okay. Even I like a change once and awhile, and what Wash doesn’t know won’t hurt me!” She laughed again before kissing the other woman on the lips.
“Just kidding, kid!” The woman smiled before walking back to a man standing in the corner with a puzzled look on his face. Kaylee watched the two talk; she couldn’t make out the words, but the man’s expression grew more relaxed as the woman used her hand to point in Kaylee’s direction.
“She’s been with him…probably all six weeks, but you know what it’s like here?” The woman in the gown pointed to a sign over the door.
“Student Center,” it read. The woman….a young woman about the same age as Kaylee, laughed.
“I’m in pre-Law. How about you?” She seemed to change before Kaylee’s eyes, for that’s what she did, turning from a Companion to a student in a moment, reminding Kaylee very rudely of her own status at the school.
“I’m an art major, but I’m thinking of changing to communication,” she said softly. A moment later she felt a hand grab her rear.
“Well, I think you’re mighty fine, Kaylee,” the young man behind her said with an all-too familiarity. She turned to find herself staring face to face with the man she had admired only minutes before.
“Hi, I’m Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of this fine crew,” he said with a smirk, waving his arm in an arc to indicate the rest of the students in the hall.
“Oh, give it up, Kurt! You would be better suited as Jayne, or better yet, that dickhead Badger,” the ersatz Inara said.
“Well, I don’t agree!” Kurt said as if his smarminess were up for a debate. He put his hand on Kaylee’s rear once more.
“Please don’t. I don’t like that. Please!” Kaylee tried to insist, but the young man persisted, leaning closer as he put his right arm around her waist, pulling her closer. He kissed the top of her head; an altogether condescending gesture.
“Please…let me go!” Kaylee said again, trying to pull away. He held her tight and kissed her on the lips; very un-Mal like and Kaylee started to shake.
“Please…let me go.” She started to cry, mostly of embarrassment from the unwanted attention, but once again feeling out of place in more ways than she could identify.
“Let her go,” a voice came from behind. Strong and clear and directive. But the young man kept his hand around the girl’s waist none the less while laughing.
“Who’s gonna make me? You? I don’t th…” his words were cut off as his head snapped back from a quick jab to his ear. He fell to the ground. As he rubbed his ear, he began to mewl.
“You….you hit me. You fucking hit me.” His words received no reply. A moment later two other ‘Mals’ came over and hoisted him to his feet. One slapped the back of his head while the second ‘Mal’ just laughed as the two escorted him to the far side of the room.
“Good show, doctor, good show.” Inara smiled and laughed at the scene. The doctor nodded and smiled a half-smile. The companion/future attorney nodded back and spoke.
“You know, there’s an open offer to you for some time…you know?” She shrugged and waved her off.
“Well, okay, but if you change your mind, I’m around!” Inara smiled before leaving the two alone. Kaylee was still shaking, and she was almost finished crying. A hand squeezed her wrist softly and she turned to see who her champion was.
“Hi. I believe we’ve met already. Simon…Dr. Simon Tam.” The facial features were a bit softer than Kaylee had expected, even if she ‘knew’ him in this sphere of being, so to speak. She held her right hand out.
“Kaylee…Kaylee Frye.” She blushed again, but softer and with much less embarrassment and more welcome.
“What….what’s your major?” She asked cautiously.
“Pre-med…really. And yours?”
“Fine arts…but I’m thinking of changing it to communication.” She spoke. He went to reply, but she continued.
“Actually…that’s really what my Dad wants….No…I’m an art major….I sculpt and paint!” A heretofore captive pride was released from its prison as she beamed.
“I’m Nancy…Nancy Voorhees,” the doctor said. Kaylee smiled and spoke again.
“Capaldi….Peter Capaldi.” Another blush.
“Well…Pete…." Nancy looked at the boy's sweet face and sighed before finishing with a surprised smile,
"I’m sorry…Well, Kaylee, would you like to get out of here and get some coffee?”
“That’s …that’s very kind of you. I’d love to….Simon.”
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