by Dira Sudis

Ray stares into the fridge for a minute, then shrugs and takes two beers out. Anybody wants to give him shit for serving a minor, they can try and figure out how old she is. According to her ID, she's going to be underage for the next 537 years, and when Ray asked her how old she was, she rattled off numbers ranging from sixteen to thirty-seven, "standard" and "planetary" and "homeworld" and "alliance" and "Cap'n says on the paperwork."

When he gets back outside, Kaywinnit Lee Frye, girl from the future, is sitting on the stoop, just staring at the GTO like it's the most amazing thing she's ever seen. He'd be flattered, but she's looked at every single thing in Chicago the same way in the few hours since Ray met her. She's worse than Fraser for smiling.

"Here," Ray says, holding out a bottle, and she looks up at him and smiles - different from her general smile, personal, and Ray can't help smiling back. She wipes her hands on her coveralls and then reaches to take the bottle from Ray, squinting at the cap for a second before she twists it off.

She plays with the cap, rolling it down her fingers as she takes a drink, and Ray starts on his own beer as he watches. Even before they started working on the car she had grease under her short nails, and her hands are calloused and scarred, mechanic's hands. It's her hands that make Ray believe her story at all. She's done years of hard work with those hands, and she didn't have to tell him that, he can see it. Con men don't have hands like that; his father does. Ray does.

"So," Ray says, sitting down next to her on the stoop, eyeing the goat's tires and wondering whether she'd get a kick out of helping him rotate them. "This Captain of yours going to be pissed at me using you for slave labor when he catches up with you?"

Kaylee grins. "Nah," she says, looking him up and down. "Cap'n knows I'd pay for the privilege."

She's giving him another smile now, different than her smile for the car or the drink or anything else she's looked at yet, and Ray looks away quickly, gulping his beer. He really doesn't know how old she is, except that she's got workman's hands. Hands that don't want to listen to any crap about not being old enough for anything. When she touches his cheek, the pads of her fingers are rough, and he knows she's leaving a trail of grease on his skin.

He clears his throat and says, "You got pizza in the future?"

She tilts her head and says, "Not where I come from. What is it?"

"Lemme buy you dinner," Ray says, "and I'll show you."

She grins and takes an almost ladylike sip of her beer. "That sounds real shiny," she says decisively, stealing another glance at the car like she can't look away for long.

Ray can't look away from Kaylee. She makes everything shine, even Chicago, even dirty sparkplugs. Even Ray. "Yeah," he says, smiling slowly, "Shiny."