Kaylee’s pretty when she’s mad.
“Stop grinning at me, you dumb who dahn, I’m yelling at you here!”
Would be prettier if she wasn’t throwing things, though.
Mal raises an eyebrow as I hustle out of the engine room. “What’d you do this time?”
“Got shot at.” I glance back over my shoulder, but she’s still digging through her tool box, which is a
whole collection of weapons. I stay put.
He frowns. “I got shot at too, and she’s not throwing stuff at me.”
“Ain’t you the lucky one.”
“Well, he doesn’t get to sleep with me, either,” she hollers, and Mal and I wince- didn’t realize
she could hear us. “Oh, wait,” and she leans around the door and glares at me. “Tonight? Neither do you.”
Now that’s just not fair. “I came back alive, didn’t I?”
“You didn’t try all that hard!” she shouts, disappearing again. “Only reason any of you made it back
is that Zoe shoots better then the two of you combined!” That ought to just piss me off, but her voice cracks on the
last words, and I can hear her sniffling a little, like she’s trying not to cry. I glance at Mal, who shrugs.
“Think this is where you’re supposed to go in there after her.”
“But she threw a wrench at me.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He heads off down the corridor. “Womenfolk ain’t reasonable when they’re
in love, Jayne, and I don’t understand why you all are foolish enough to get tangled up in the whole mess.”
That’s a perfect spot to make a comment about Inara throwing his engine into cold shutdown again, but I don’t
especially want to get punched in the mouth today and besides, now my girl’s full-on crying in the engine room.
I step carefully through the doorway, but she’s not armed; she’s crumpled down in the corner, knees drawn up tight
to her chest, face all wet and shiny. She sniffles again and glares at me, and sure as shit, I’m not forgiven.
“Kaylee,” I say, trying to be reasonable first and never mind what Mal said. “I’ve been getting shot
at as long as you’ve known me. It’s my job to get shot at.”
“Yeah,” she admits, wiping her face with the backs of her hands. “But I thought you might be a little more
careful now. Thought you might, you know...want to come back to me.”
Aw, hell. She wiped out all the ammo I’ve got with that one.
I awkwardly fold myself up to get down to her level, sitting next to her on the floor. She scoots away a few inches, but
she doesn’t really look mad anymore; just teary-eyed and kind of tired. She’s pretty when she’s sad, too-
my Kaylee can’t not be pretty. Wish I knew what to say to make her smile, but she’s the one who knows
how to cheer people up. I’ve never been good at talking.
So we end up sitting there for a few minutes just being quiet, with her sniffling once or twice and glaring down at the floor,
and me trying to think of something to say and coming up snake eyes. Finally I reach over and take her hands in mine, and
she lets me, even though her whole body’s still stiff and leaning away. I hold her hands palms-up against my own and
trace my thumbs over the lines and calluses, up to her wrists and then back down to her fingers. I keep quiet, figuring it’s
better not to say anything at all than to say something stupid. I just look down at her hands, fragile and strong at once,
so skilled and clever, cradled in my rough, dumb ones that aren’t good for much but pulling a trigger.
After a few minutes, she gives a long, shuddering sigh, and when I glance up I see that she’s scooted closer to me.
She leans her head down on my shoulder and I squeeze her hands gently. “Still love me?” she asks, glancing up
through her lashes.
“Never have to ask that,” I say, letting go of one hand and slipping my arm around her waist.
“Even though I’m crazy?” she asks with a watery little giggle, wiping the last few tears from her eyes.
“And I threw a wrench at you?”
“Didn’t hit me. Doesn’t count.” I kiss the top of her head. “Sorry about scaring you.”
She shrugs, turning her face against my neck. “You’re right, it’s your job.”
“Yeah, and that ain’t gonna change any time soon.” I hesitate for a minute, trying to figure out how to
say what I think she needs to hear. I hope I’m right. “But...I do want to come back. I always want to make
it back to you.”
She pulls away and I curse my stupid mouth, but she’s just leaning back so she can look at me. She’s smiling
now, and that’s when my Kaylee is prettiest of all. “And if you didn’t, I’d come looking for you,”
she says, a little sparkle back in her eyes. “No power in the verse can stop me when I’ve got a mission on my
“That’s God’s own truth,” I say, grinning back at her. She leans in close again to kiss me, warm
and solid, and I guess I’m forgiven now after all. Hopefully forgiven enough that she’ll forget that whole not
sleeping together tonight thing.
I was dead wrong before. Mal ain’t the lucky one; no, sir, not by a long shot. Wash might give me a fight over it,
but right now I think I can safely say that I’m the luckiest man on Serenity.