|Born To Be Wild
Author: Ultrawoman PM
AU, post-Ariel and pre-BDM. A new arrival aboard Serenity makes two of the crew members re-evaluate their lives and consider a possible connection between themselves... RayneRated: Fiction T - English - Romance - River & Jayne - Chapters: 15 - Words: 36,361 - Reviews: 128 - Favs: 88 - Follows: 73 - Updated: 04-22-09 - Published: 11-29-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4684759
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I'm so glad people are reading this fic and actually liking it. All you reviewers give me such confidence in this new fandom - thank you :-)
(For disclaimer, etc. - see chapter 1)
Not a one amongst the crew of the Serenity could've been more stunned than they currently were by the sight of River, standing just beyond the door to Inara's shuttle, with a small boy hugging her legs, a wide smile on his face, the like of which not one of the others had yet managed to get out of him, not even Kaylee.
"When you say your boy...?" Mal was the first to question River's words, though honestly he wished he hadn't.
"Well, she doesn't mean..." Simon began only for his sister to cut him off mid thought.
"She does, Simon" River said firmly, "My boy" she smiled down at the child, still petting his hair, "My son"
"No" the Doctor shook his head, mouth dropping open wide, "There's simply no way, River, he can't..."
"Jayne?" Mal looked at his merc with beyond anger in his eyes, though he should've known better than to think so badly of his crew-mate, after all, it wasn't as if River was known for talking sense.
"Jayne?" Simon echoed, not understanding what that great oaf had to do with his confused sister thinking some random child aboard the ship was her son when he was evidently eight years old at least, and her just eighteen.
"I told you he would come, and that he would know you" River smiled, taking hold of the little boys hand and walking out of the shuttle towards Jayne, who backed-up against the railings behind him, "Our boy has come home to us" she grinned, looking almost crazed, which wasn't exactly unusual for Miss Tam, but it never bothered Jayne quite as much as it did right now.
What it sounded as if she were accusing him of was beyond any kind of evil he'd ever done, and was of course complete fiction, yet she was young and for the most part innocent, whilst he was known, even amongst those he might call friends or family, as a violent man who liked the company of womenfolk almost a little too much.
"You and... you touched my sister?" Simon asked, words almost not forming as anger rose within him.
He came hurtling out of the shuttle at Jayne, but Mal put an arm across the Doctor's chest and pushed him back, muttering at him in Chinese to calm the hell down.
"You're crazier than she is!" Jayne yelled across to Simon, "I wouldn't touch your damn moonbrain sister if you paid me!" he declared, "And even if I had, wouldn't've made us no kid this size unless I was the kind of monster that... well, I ain't!" he said angrily, hurt at the fact the accusation had even been hinted at.
"Ain't nobody here thinks that, Jayne" Mal said firmly, "Seems to me we got some confusion here though, and that I want figured out mighty fast" he said, looking first at the little boy and then to River.
"It doesn't fit, does it, Captain?" the girl smiled at him, "Your logic does not permit it. The calculations come up with numbers that don't tally, and no amount of bullets will force them to their places"
"See, now, this ain't no time for riddles, little one" Mal said, only just keeping his anger and frustration in check, "Gotta explain this in words we all can make sense of, if'n you know what's going on here"
"She doesn't" Simon shook his head, moving towards his sister and being permitted to do so now since the violence from before seemed now to have dissipated, "She's just confused" he said, reaching an arm around her shoulders, but his sister pushed him away.
"No!" she yelled, as the boy clung tighter to her, almost afraid of the situation he found himself in, only knowing he was safe whilst he was by her side, "You think you know better? Because of the needles and pins, but you don't!" she said, pointing a finger at her brother, her eyes wild, "You don't know, don't understand, don't want to" she shook her head, "And we don't want to understand you" she said, taking the little boys hand and suddenly running off down the gangway, boots clanging against the metal as she and the boy disappeared from sight.
"Can't make no sense out of any of this" Kaylee shook her head.
"I'm not sure I'm following well myself" Inara replied, "Mal, where did you find this child?" she asked, stepping up beside the Captain and following his line of sight to where River and the boy had just disappeared to.
"Didn't exactly find him, so much as he found us" he admitted, scratching the back of his head thoughtfully, "Reckon the best thing to do is get everyone together, talk this through, see if we can't figure out where we go from here"
"You think River really knows who he is? Where he came from?" Kaylee asked as the Captain walked past her towards the bridge from which he planned to fetch Wash and Zoe, "I mean, he can't really be her son, but..."
"Can't say for sure, meimei" Mal shook his head, "but don't you worry none, we'll figure this out. Ain't no harm gonna come to that boy, so long as he don't bring no harm to us" he half-smiled, before heading off to the bridge.
* * * * *
"Hang on a second" Wash shook his head, "Sweet little River thinks she's mother to Jayne's child?" he checked, eyes wide at the very idea of it, "Poor kid must be more long-suh than we thought"
"She's getting better" Simon snapped, "Or she was" he shook his head, from his place across the table, "I just can't understand why she thinks this child is her son, it's impossible"
"Impossible that it's my kid either" Jayne declared from his own seat, "but the damn thing clung to me like a ruttin' limpet"
"Neither part exactly makes any sense" Zoe shook her head.
"Is there any part that does?" Kaylee ventured as she tried to wrap her head around all of this.
The Captain walked around the table filled with his crew and tried to make sense of this situation himself. The child clearly thought he belonged to Jayne and to River and whilst it wasn't impossible for them to have made a child, it would not be eight years old at least. Besides which, someone would've noticed the two of them fornicating on the ship. Mal shuddered at the very idea of his oaf of a merc and the sweet little crazy sister of the doctor getting that close, and could see now why Simon was ready to pummel Jayne into the ground when it seemed that was what happened.
As the chatter around the dining table grew to an awful din, Mal called for silence, since all the crew were achieving was giving him a headache and stopping him from concentrating.
"Maybe if we get back in contact with Jayne's friend Barney" Wash suggested suddenly, "If we at least knew where the box came from..."
"Doubtful we'd be able to track him now" Mal shook his head, "I get the idea they like to stay off radar much like we do"
"'Sides he said he didn't know what was in the box" Kaylee piped up, "Can't imagine why he'd bother to lie about it"
"You'd be surprised by the amount of people that lie, Kaylee" Zoe told her, "For no other reason than lying itself"
"Are we not perhaps missing an option here?" Book suddenly cut in.
He'd been hovering by the kitchen area, not really in the conversation so much as listening in. He now stepped up to the table and gave his opinion, closing the bible he'd been seemingly studying all this time.
"And what option's that, Preacher?" Jayne asked with a glare, "My bein' all set for hell and damnation?"
"Not in the traditional sense, no" the Shepherd told him, "I was just wondering if perhaps the child was born of both River and Jayne, just not made in what might be considered the old fashioned way" he explained.
"There are ways" Simon nodded slowly, "It's been possible to make babies in a test-tube in a lab for hundreds of years, though it was largely frowned upon, especially in religious circles" he said, sounding somewhat like a text book as he explained.
"That don't sound like too nice a way to come into the world" Kaylee squirmed in her seat, "Like some weird scientific experiment"
"Not everyone has the option to make children in the conventional way, meimei" Inara told her gently, "For women who desire to be mothers too late in life or were not given the gift of being able to create their own offspring themselves, they have to resort to other methods" she explained.
"But this has nothing to do with River" the Doctor shook his head.
"'M not sayin' it does, Doc" Mal shook his head, "but you said yourself, more than once, you got no way of knowing just exactly what they did with your sister in that institute you bust her out of" he told the younger man, "Could be they fancied growing a whole field of special kids, just as full of brains as she was"
"I suppose it's not impossible to think they took some kind of samples from River and tried to create a child based on her DNA" Simon shook his head in disbelief in spite of the fact he was agreeing this was entirely possible.
"But that don't explain why the kid thinks Jayne is someone to cling to" Kaylee said, still looking puzzled.
"Gotta admit, I can't think the boy mistook him for a teddy bear" Wash mumbled to Zoe who gave him a stern look - now was not the time for jokes.
"If the Doc here says kids can get made with samples in labs..." Jayne said awkwardly, scratching the back of his head and looking anywhere but at the faces that stared back at him, "There might be some scientist got himself a little Jayne DNA somewhere"
"And how exactly did anybody get a hold of a piece of you to be experimentin' on and growin' some test tube kid out of?" Mal asked, giving his merc a look both inquisitive and stern.
"I ain't none ashamed, Mal" the larger man shot back at him, "Did what I had to, every man gotta have cash" he explained, "Science folk were offering decent rates for donatin' what they needed. Blood samples and... other stuff" he said with a look that unfortunately made sense to the assembled crew, including Inara who really wished she hadn't been present to hear it. As questionable as her profession may be to some people, the kind of thing that Jayne was talking of was entirely demeaning and a desperate occupation.
"Well, that does explain somethin'" Zoe nodded once.
"I think I would rather not have had the explanation" Inara said, somewhat haughtily as Kaylee swallowed hard at the thought of how the sweet little boy from the cryopod had been created. Shouldn't nobody come into the world like that. Children were made out of love, that's how she saw it, and in no other way.
"So what happens now with the little lab experiment?" Wash asked, when everyone seemed to quiet.
"He has a name" said a voice from the door, and everyone turned to see River there with the little boy, half hidden behind her skirt.
"You mind sharin' with us what that name is?" Mal asked her as she stepped into the room, the child trailing behind her.
"Only one can give you all the answers you need" River smiled, her hand going to the boys head and petting his hair, as he peeked around her legs and grinned at Jayne, who shifted awkwardly in his place.
All eyes went to the boy suddenly, and just as soon as he noticed he went back to hiding.
"He can't explain, not now" River shook her head, before holding out her hand, a small device sitting in her open palm, "He gave me the answers that I already knew, now he must share them again, with you, Captain" she said, and Mal moved forward, taking what appeared to be some kind of recording device from her hand.
River took a seat at the table, pulling the boy up onto her lap, where he sat quite happily, leaning his head on her shoulder, glad of her arms around him.
Waiting not a moment for this situation to get any more odd, Captain Reynolds stood in the centre of the room amongst his entire crew, held out the small recording device, and pressed 'Play'.
To Be Continued...