Kaylee gets tired too.
She doesn’t like to make a big thing about it, because everyone else has so much more hurtin’ in them than she
ever will. Mal and Zoe carry all of their war-ghosts around with them, and Wash helps his wife with her share. Kaylee thinks
that that’s the sweetest thing, how he helps carry things for Zoe, even though if you look in his eyes in a quiet moment,
you can see that he’s got ghosts of his own. That’s love, she thinks sometimes; that’s what all the songs
and stories are tryin’ to talk about. Helping somebody else carry their weight when you’ve got one too.
Inara has her share of hurt, from whatever made her leave the Core (Kaylee pretends it doesn’t bother her, that ‘Nara’s
her closest friend and still doesn’t say word one about her secrets) and from dealing with Mal’s mouth. Kaylee
loves her captain, but she doesn’t know why he has to say those things to ‘Nara all the time.
Simon and River don’t have anything left to their names but hurt. Kaylee knows she’s got no right to feel tired
at all, on those days after the nights when Simon doesn’t get a wink of sleep because River screams till morning.
Shepherd’s got ghosts to carry, too; she’s seen the desperate way he prays sometimes, like he’s beggin’
the Lord for forgiveness instead of askin’ softly. He’s lived a long time, he must’ve seen lots of pain.
Kaylee’s only got a handful of years in her pocket, next to him; she doesn’t dare compare her heart to his.
Jayne acts like he don’t believe in pain, but she saw his face after that mudder died in Canton. She’s noticed
the long afternoons he’ll spend by himself when they’re way out deep in the black. Can’t kill people for
a living without picking up a few ghosts. Kaylee’s never even raised an angry hand to someone. And the one time she
did hold a gun, she failed.
She’s got no weight to carry, next to the rest of them, and that’s what they love about her. They count on her
to be sunshine, laughter, brightness in the black. She repeats that to herself, over and over, huddled in her bunk on the
bad mornings, while she frantically wipes the tears from her eyes and tries to find her smile. They’re counting on
her to take their minds off the weights around their necks. They’re counting on her to shine.
She’s glad she can do that for them. She looks down at her hands against the bedspread. Strong hands, capable hands;
all of her skills are in her hands.
Even when she wants to fall apart, she knows she can’t, because she has to hold them all together with her hands. It’s
her job, and she loves that she can do that, that she can be the central force holding their broken shards in place.
But sometimes it makes her tired.