Characters: Ray (Kowalski) Vecchio, Kaylee Frye
Word count: 802
Summary: When the car breaks down, Ray finds an extremely cute mechanic to help out.
Author's notes: Written for A Ficathon Walks into a Bar (intoabar) with the prompt "Ray Kowalski walks into a bar and meets...Kaylee Frye". Kinda on the short side, since my epic cold ate into my planned writing time. Thanks to Ama for helping me hash out the plot. Set in the due South 'verse post-Easy Money, with an alt Kaylee from sometime before the Serenity pilot.
“Ah, see here’s your problem,” Kaylee said, her voice muffled from inside the hood of the GTO. “The thingy isn’t attached to the whoozit.”
Ray was sure she’d actually used real words, but that’s what he heard. The combination of a twenty-four hour shift, a car broken down in the worst neighbourhood in Chicago, his cell phone not getting reception and having to hike six blocks in the friggin’ rain for help had his brain fritzing out.
He’d found Kaylee in a shady looking Chinese restaurant where no one spoke enough English to understand his request for a phone. She’d translated for him (she not only spoke Chinese fluently, but seemed to like to pepper her conversation with random bits of it) and after every company had flat out refused to send a tow truck out, offered to take a look at the car.
“Right, ‘kay,” he said, leaning in to look over her shoulder at the engine. She was pointing to some part of it, but his knowledge of car mechanics had gone out the window. He suspected it had been replaced with the Eskimo folks songs Fraser had regaled him with during the nine hour stake-out. Those things were annoyingly catchy. “Can you fix it?”
“Shìde!” she said. She sounded cheerful about it, so he assumed that was a yes. “Easy peasy. She’ll be shiny in no time.” She pulled a wrench out of the pocket of her duck-patterned raincoat and started to work.
“You always carry a wrench around?” he asked, with a smirk.
“Yep!” she said. “Never know when you might need it. My dad taught me that.”
“My dad taught me the same thing about combs,” Ray said. He ruffled up his hair, which had gone flat from the rainwater.
Kaylee laughed and tucked some of her own wet hair behind her ears. She was cute, both in the little kid sense and the hot sense. She had this sort of sexy mechanic girl vibe going on, but at the same time a kind of sweet innocence that made you feel kind of like you wanted to protect her. Like you might want to ask her out, but then you’d have to kick yourself in the head for asking.
“Your dad teach you about cars, too?” he asked. He settled his hip against the front of the car and watched her work, holding his coat over her and the engine to prevent the rain from pouring in.
“Yep, says I’m a natural,” she said. “Engines just speak to me, you know? Just gotta listen to what they’re saying. You got a real nice ride here. She’s just a bit tired right now.”
Ray smiled. “She’s had a long night,” he said. So had he. “Is this your job? Fixing stuff?”
“Sorta,” she said. “I travel with a kinda private shipping company and make sure all the trucks are working proper. It’s more trying to keep ‘em from breaking than fixing ‘em once their broke.”
“Like a car doctor,” Ray said.
She grinned at him, in what was truly a knockout smile. “Yeah, like that.” She twisted her wrench in a decisive move and then straightened up. “That should do it. Give her a try.”
Ray went around to the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition. The engine purred to life and Ray threw his arms up in celebration. “Oh, you are made of pure awesome!” he called.
She gently lowered the hood of the car and gave it a pat, with a satisfied smile on her face. “Xièxie.”
“Hop in, I’ll give you a lift back to the restaurant,” Ray said, waving her over. He wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. They were lucky the junkies hadn’t formed an army and attacked by now. Maybe junkies didn’t work in the rain.
He sat down and winced, picturing the effect two soaking wet people were going to have on the upholstery. His dad could never know about this. Kaylee climbed into the passenger seat and offered him the jacket he’d been holding over her.
“Just toss it in the back,” he said. “Sorry about the mess. The wolf likes take out.”
“The wolf?” Kaylee asked.
“Long story,” Ray said. He waited for her to buckle her seatbelt before setting off down the darkened streets. “Listen, when we get back to the restaurant, I’m going to buy you the hell out of dinner. If that’s cool?”
“Hâo,” she said.
“Uh, is that a yes?” he asked.
She cocked her head to the side and smiled. “That’s a yes.”