He held them together.
He pushed South to talk her brother when they disagreed. He joked around with Wash so the kid wouldn’t get too nervous. He smiled at Connie to remind her she was still a part of the team. He forgave Wyoming and Maine. He supported Carolina, styed with her so she knew she wasn't alone
York held them together, because without them he was afraid he’d fall apart.
So when things started going to hell, he kept smiling. Even after he lost his eye. Even after Maine was silenced, and Connie- no, CT- left them, and South ignored her brother completely, no matter what the one-eyed soldier tried to say. Even after he started noticing Carolina’s trouble with her AIs (even though it scared him to the core.)
(It's okay. Everything's going to be okay. You can fix this.)
Some nights, she would sneak into his room and shake him into wakefulness. He would take one look at the bags beneath her eyes and the badly hidden tear tracks on her cheeks and wrap her in the blankets, pulling her down to his chest and holding her until she drifted off. Then he could hear Wash having nightmares from across the room, and he'd call out to him, motioning him over, ignoring how distressed the younger man looked in the glow of Epsilon’s light. So by the end of the night Wash’s face would be buried in his shoulder, and Carolina’s fingers would be painfully dug into his side, and York would attempt a hint of a smile before falling asleep, because at least they were safe with him.At least they were together.
But he was only human. He couldn’t fix everything.
Carolina died, Wash was taken away, and York- York couldn’t take it. So he ran. He ran away and tried to forget the fact that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t save the people that meant the most to him.
(Just keep smiling. You’ll be okay, just keep smiling. Keep lying to yourself.)
(But I’m a terrible liar.)
Years later and he still hated waking up alone.