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The Only Thing She Has LeftPairing:
Kaylee still has Jayne’s coat.
Kaylee lifted the coat off the rack it had always hung on and smiled. She’d always teased him about that coat, how ugly it was, how old.
The first time he’d leant it to her it hadn’t meant nothin’. She’d been sad and cold and knew he let other girls wear it. Even then it had been oddly comfortin’.
The next time he settled it round her shoulders they were closer, and this time Kaylee knew it was her he was protectin’. That time she’d stuck her hands in the pockets and found a myriad of objects. Strips of leather, protein bars, the hat his mother sent and a grenade were just a few of the things.
The coat, big on him, hung to her knees and she had to roll the sleeves so many times just for her hands to show, but it smelled comfortingly like him. A mixture of soap, whiskey and gun oil – it was Jayne.
She’d taken a bite out of one of the protein bars and laughed at him about the smell, the objects and the ugliness.
“’Twas my Pa’s,” he’d said and never said anythin’ else; he hadn’t had to really; she understood his love for familiar things.
Over the years she’d worn the ugly thing plenty of times and had also mended bullet holes, frayed sleeves, torn pockets, ripped seams and broken zips.
Sometimes her mends joined older ones. Some of them were his, she recognised the precise, tight, impatient stitches; some of them were much older, done with quality thread, strong and endurin’. There was so much history in that coat it choked her up.
The last time Jayne wrapped the coat around her they’d joked about whether it would cover her bump or not. Of course it did and her man had been, though he tried to hide it, all manner of proud that he was lookin’ after them both.
He left her not long after that, torn away when they least expected it and she kept the coat still.
Although the smell was long since gone, vanished with washin’ and the years, he was closer when she wore it; and sometimes when she was missin’ him, she would curl up on their bed with it on and dream of what might have been. Revealin’ in the comfort of it, she wore the coat when things got bad, when her smile slipped, when she got so lonely for him she could cry.
But time was movin’ on and she had another man needing a good coat now.
“You sure ‘bout this Mama?” her big son looked at her with Jayne’s watchful eyes as she turned, coat in her arms.
Kaylee nodded gently and guided his arms into the sleeves. “Yer big enough now.”
The coat hung down to his knees and the sleeves engulfed his hands – he was eight.