Kaylee knew that River was from a world entirely unlike her own. She’d known the moment she’d stepped foot aboard Serenity. It wasn’t because of her strangeness or the issues she had. It was how she held herself and talked. Straight backed and so proper, something an engineer from a backwards town like her could never be. Her and her brother both.
It made her blush to think about. There were certain things about River that still terrified her. But after she’d gotten over the fear of what the girl could do, the men she so easily killed, she’d grown closer to her again. And this time it had been different. Before it had been friendship but now Kaylee felt something more growing inside her.
That didn’t scare her. She’d never liked a girl before, even if she’d slept with plenty of men, but if Inara could have a female client she didn’t see why she couldn’t like another woman. Nothing wrong with that. It was new, but not something she worried about.
She worried about more about her equal attraction for River’s brother, but shrugged that worry off too. Nothing wrong with multiple relationships.
They sat in the kitchen together, laughing over an old picture book that Kaylee had pulled up from the bottom of her trunk. Most of the crew was milling around - Jaye was cleaning a gun off the side while Mal, Zoe and Wash chatted with each other.
“This is the kind of thing you read?” River teased with a joking smile. Her dark eyes twinkling with a playful light that made Kaylee just want to kiss her pretty lips. “It’s so childish!”
“I don’t read it anymore,” Kaylee rolled her eyes even as she grinned. “I ain’t no scholar but I’m not that stupid.”
“Jury’s out on that one, Kayl,” Mal called out from where he listened to Zoe, earning himself a middle finger from Kaylee.
“We don’t all have the smarts like you, Cap’n,” she retorted with a snort, River’s giggle beside her like music to her ears. “I ain’t my fault I’m not a learned woman.”
“I can teach you,” River piped up with a smile, flicking to the next page. “I’ve had a lot of education.”
“I’d like that,” Kaylee beamed, completely ignoring the disapproving look from Mal. She knew it was just his protective instinct kicking in - worrying that River might have one of her episodes while alone with Kaylee. Kaylee thought it was idiotic and she wished Mal would stop treating her like a child.
“In return,” River continued, tone lightly teasing. “I want to read more books like this.”
“Agreed,” Kaylee responded easily, leaning into the other girl’s side. River didn’t even hesitate leaning back against. Overwhelmed by warmth and joy, Kaylee craned her head up to place a gentle kiss on River’s cheek (after making sure no one else was watching).
The two girls smiled at each other, eyes soft as they shared wordless promises. Their hands intertwined under the table her as they went back to reading the picture book together, the voices of the others dancing around them like a comforting bubble.
There was nowhere else Kaylee ever wanted to be, apart from on this ship with the people she considered family. It didn’t matter that they were all from different places and entirely different worlds. They were all here, together, and that was what mattered.