A missing tag from Objects in Space

"Live simple. I'll be fine. I'll be your bounty, Early." Her voice echoes through the ship, that trick she's played with the com.

Girl thinks she means it at that moment, but there's no way she would have made sure I made it out of my bunk, lest there weren't some part of her wanted to come back. She's a strange'un, that's sure, but life's never simple, and as complicated as she is, she's still a part of my crew. Still a part of all the complicated, beautiful mess that a lot of life is.

"You know that, don't you, li'l albatross?"

"Yes, Captain. Nothing's simple. Even if we want it to be."

"Now look here, River. Nothing simple's worth having. Th'Alliance wants it simple, you got that? And I'm not one as give th'Alliance what it wants easy, alright?"

Can't believe I'm having a conversation with her while I'm suitin' up for a walk all out on my lonesome. But there's none as I'd ask to do otherwise, and she knows that anyway. I understand why some of them wish it was simpler, if that's even what they want, and it's not something she hears without understandin' the whole,only hearin' what she's afraid of. They've led lives a tad simpler than she has, simpler than I have. It ain't right, none of it, but it is what it is, and I'm not one to go questioning what's happened already to others, even if I cain't stop for my ownself. But for them as is my crew? The only questions are what's to be done with what hasn't yet happened, and I'm all for being ornery and fightin' about things I don't think are right.

"I understand, Captain," she says as I move out of the rear bay and onto the back, waiting.

And then there's a screech. "What's it, mei-mei? What's it?"

There's a pant, a whimper, a whine. "He's shot Simon."

"Where, mei-mei?"

"Thigh."

I put on my best Captain-y voice and my best Captain-y thoughts. "Then he'll be right fine, River. I've had lots of bullets in my legs, and I'm doin' alright, hear? Let's just get that gorram bastard out here, and then you can come home and tend to your brother."

"Home?" She hears, but she doesn't comprehend, she said earlier.

"Home, li'l albatross." Hope she comprehends that.

"Alright, Captain, if you say so," she says, her voice reedy over the com.

"That's the only thing in this 'verse as is simple," I say, trying to think simple, Captain-y thoughts. "You just listen to Captain's orders, River, it'll all come alright."

She giggles, that girlish noise that's so simple yet not, just 'cause it's hers, and then there's no time for thoughts she might read, because that invader's let himself out through my hatch.

"You made the right move, darlin'," he says, his com patched through hers and mine. "Best for you to go on with old Early."

He's been talking all this time, thinkin' it's just him and River as have been talkin'. He don't get that she's conversing with all as will hear her.

So now it's my turn to talk. "You think so? Some of us feel differently."

And then I give him a shove, a right satisfying one. Anyone as deserves to be shoved in the black, it's him. And I don't rightly care who the "some of us" besides me is. It's my ship, my crew, and I say if she stays or she goes.

And then she's set the retrofire engines on a delay and she's floatin' down more awkward than someone who's used to this kind of moving about in space, so I don't mind catchin' her and makin' sure as she sets her feet down solid on the hull of Serenity.

"Permission to come aboard, sir?" The hesistant smile she gives me is far from simple, and she's far from sure she'll be fine.

"You know, you ain't quite right." Not like I'm one to talk. I've just had more practice pretendin' than she has.

"That's the popular theory." Again with that smile, but a mite brighter this time.

I keep on with what I hope are easy, Captain-y orders to follow. "Go on, get in there. Give your brother a thrashin' for messin' up your plan."

"He takes so much looking after." This time her smile's one of anticipation, of going home to people she's fond of.

She ain't right. But damn if that girl ain't got a fine-tuned sense of irony. In this 'verse, I sure as hell need it, simple or not. None of the best things ever are.