DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of these delightful characters, they are the property of Joss Whedon and other people.
SPOILERS: For the pilot and possible light spoilers for the rest of the series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Love Wounds
By CharmedLassie


I will not let you die. Kaylee, I won't.

It's a deep wound. The doctor knows it, so does Mal. I can't bring myself to think of it as potentially fatal but that won't make it untrue. You look so weak, so shocked. I know, despite what the crew do you manage to convince yourself it doesn't really mean anything, 'ain't no harm in it'. Oh, but Kaylee, there is.

I stay with you while the doctor operates. He gets the bullet, a tiny thing, it's caused you so much pain it should be bigger. When you slip into unconciousness I still stay, I want to be near you… just in case.

The way of the 'verse means I'm not there when you wake. I'd gone to pray but when the Shepherd tells me I feel like I've been answered a thousand times, perhaps more. And I'm strangely reluctant to see you, sitting up and talking with Mal. I think a line has been crossed. No, I know in my mind something that has always been present in my heart.

I love you, Kaylee.

I mean it, not as you say it to me, or anyone else for that matter. Mal would question how a Companion could even relate to that feeling but I think it makes me better equipped. I know, you see, when it's false. I may be trained, Kaylee, but that doesn't mean I wholehearted accept the affection they throw at me. I know its limitations, and I know what a human needs. That's why I pity some of them. They might have physical gratification but they'll never know this. They'll never understand how it feels to walk into a room as drab as the cargo bay and feel it instantly lit with a human lamp. That's what you are, a light in the dark of space.

You light up Serenity, Kaylee. Not just literally.

Of course, I can't stay away for long. As soon as Mal leaves I enter. You look up and smile hazily. 'Hey, you.'

'Hey, you,' I answer, taking a seat at your bedside. I reach for your hand, pull away then finally take it. 'How are you feeling?'

Your eyes still have the power to melt me. 'Oh, well, okay.' After a second, you shrug as best you can. 'Can't really feel much below my waist. Ain't figured out whether that's a good thing or not.'

'It's just the anaesthetic, it'll wear off.'

'Yeah, guess. Doc fixed me up good, huh?'

'He did his best.' Having watched her intently through the operation at least I could safely say that. 'It should never have happened.'

'Don't be angry,' you say, a little half-heartedly. I think you know that I can be anything I set my mind to being.

I want to be your lover, Kaylee.

I falter at the thought. Your eyes glitter with your legendary concern, even as you lay there. 'Hey, you look… I don't know. You okay?'

My instinct is to laugh it away. 'That's my question to ask.'

'The sick girl doesn't get to ask questions?'

'No,' I say firmly but I think my eyes betray something. You squeeze my hand. I look up at your face, despite the paleness induced by the bullet it hasn't really lost the shimmer. You have a natural shimmer. A natural beauty few of us can get without excessive work. Against my better judgement, I stay. My very core is telling me to leave but I stay. I suppose I truly want to stay, deep in my heart.

'Tell me a story,' you instruct, shifting as best you can to make yourself comfortable.

I use the straightening of your blankets as a cover. What story do I know at this moment in time? I've regaled you with tales of my illustrious life in the past but I can't bring myself to tell you of another night with another stranger. I've never considered my work sordid in the past, nor anything else the likes of Mal think of it as, but this is different. You make me wish I hadn't been with them. 'I can't,' I answer, rather pathetically.

'But I'm sick!' Your pleas always get you what you want from me, do you know that?

'Okay.' I breathe slowly for a minute then let out a channel of air in my frustration. 'I can't think of anything, I'm sorry.'

'I don't believe you.'

Oh, Kaylee!

'Alright.' You settle content, with your hand clasped in mine. My throat is dry, I take a moment to swallow. 'Did I ever tell you that I was in love once?'

Your eyes light up, you know this is something new. 'No. Was it a client?'

I nearly visibly shudder. 'No, nothing like that. It was someone I knew, a friend. Someone I shouldn't have fallen in love with.'

'Who was he?'

My lips play with a delicate smile. 'A wonderful person. Someone with the ability to light up the room just by walking inside. Someone with a beautiful smile.'

'Really? Did he know? Did he feel the same?'

'I was a friend that's all. Didn't even have an inkling. And I didn't want to ruin anything so I kept quiet.'

'Admired him from afar, huh?'

'Something like that.' I clasp your hand tightly for a moment. 'I knew it wouldn't work.'

Your eyes shine with sympathy. 'Oh, 'Nara! Why didn't you try?'

'I didn't want to lose a friendship,' I say simply. 'That was more important to me.'

'So, what happened? Are you still close?'

I think my eyes glisten with the realisation. Placing my other hand over yours, I try to smile as best I can. 'After a few months I left. I couldn't stand being so close anymore.'

'Oh, that's a sad story.' You're tired, your eyelids are fluttering. 'That's really sad.'

'It's not so bad,' I attempt as you give up and close your beautiful eyes. 'I console myself with the knowledge that I was a good friend.'

You yawn. 'You're the best, 'Nara. The…'

Recognising you've fallen asleep, I take a moment to kiss your hand. 'I hope so.'

A noise behind me startles me. I turn to see Shepherd Book standing in the doorway. 'That was quite a tale.'

'Was it?' Flustered, I stand. 'I have to…'

'If you want something, I always find it's best to say it outright.'

'I'm sure I don't know what you mean.'

'No, of course not. Goodnight.'

'Goodnight, Shepherd.'

Goodnight, Kaylee.

The End

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