Notes: I'm SO sorry this has taken too long... it was stuck in my head. And it's hard to write smut. Makes me all giggly and embarrassed. So, not very much smut, I'm afraid. I may still try and revise this chapter but I wanted to get something up before I gave up entirely. Thank you to all who have reviewed and/or written to harrass me to finish. I really loved it all. You all have definitely improved my writing.Anyway, here it is. I hope it's not too anticlimactic.


go-se: shit
feng-le: crazy
dong ma: understand
zhang-fu: husband
lao tyen: oh g-d

Jayne defiantly followed Mal into the small dining room. He knew he was about to get the third degree.

Jayne glanced down at his wife, whose tangled dark hair spread over his shoulder as he carried her onto Serenity. He had half a mind to make a run for his bunk and forcibly lock everyone out, but he'd still have to emerge eventually. Or maybe the shuttle? He and River could take the shuttle and fly… well, pretty much nowhere. They were no nearby planets. Plus, he didn't know how to fly and little Rip Van Winkle here was still sawing logs. He frowned. Just like the woman. Off in her dreams while he got saddled with explaining everything.

"Sit, Jayne," Mal ordered darkly, gesturing towards one of the mismatched chairs.

Jayne wouldn't meet his eyes, but he still spoke boldly. "Think I'd rather stand."

He leaned against the wall and shifted River's weight in his arms. Girl was getting heavy but there was no way in hell he'd let go of her now.

There was a bustle of activity as the rest of the crew piled into the now-crowded room.

"What's going on?" Wash asked innocently as he entered with his arm around his wife's waist.

Jayne rolled his eyes. "What is this? A gorram church social?" he asked, staring around at the eclectic group.

"Now look, Jayne," Mal said, ignoring his question, "you are acting downright peculiar and I want to know why."

"Ain't your business," Jayne said.

"It is my business when my mercenary can't keep his gorram hands off the crazy girl!" Mal shouted. "Since when have the two of you been so touchy-feely? You're the one that wanted her gone so bad you tried to trade her life for a bit of coin on Ariel."

Jayne was about to respond, but Simon suddenly straightened and turned to the captain.

"Wait, you knew he betrayed us? You knew this and you didn't tell me?" the doctor asked.

Mal paused, kicking himself for letting that slip. "It was an executive decision. He said he wouldn't do it again!"

"I can't believe you would not inform me that one of your crew was a danger to my family!"

Jayne sighed as their argument continued. Hey, at least he wasn't being pestered anymore. He sat down on the floor, letting River curl up sleepily into the nest that his crossed legs made. He smoothed back her hair and tugged the shirt back over her thighs. He was so busy fussing over her that he failed to see the looks Inara, Kaylee, and even Zoë were giving each other. Nor did he realize that Mal and Simon's argument had ended mid-shout and they were looking at Jayne in disgust.

"Why is he touching her!" Simon shouted as he moved forward to wrest his sister from Jayne.

But Zoë stopped him with a hand to the shoulder as Kaylee said, "Can't ya'll see? He loves her!"

Dead silence greeted this announcement.

"Ew," said Mal, as he screwed up his face.

Jayne caught the last bit of conversation. "Hey! I don't love her! I…" He was cut off by River whimpering in her sleep. "Hey, baby, it's okay," he said as he scooped her up and began rocking her. "It's me, girl, I'm here."

Kaylee was ecstatic. "Aw! Ain't that the sweetest thing you ever saw?"

Jayne scowled back. "Hush, you. You're just a simpery woman… don't know go-se."

But Kaylee just kept grinning. "Now, don't go getting prickly. I think it's nice."

Jayne cursed the little harbinger of joy under his breath. Meanwhile, Simon still looked like he was suffering an aneurism, and Mal seemed confused, like he wasn't sure if he was going to kill Jayne or laugh at him.

Jayne sighed. River was awake now but was incoherently nuzzling his neck. He needed to get her dressed in something other than his own t-shirt, and get her calmed down, not have a board meeting with Captain Ahab. He needed to get everyone off his back.

"All right. Now look here," he began as he stood with River securely locked in his arms, her legs tight around his waist, "the feng-le moonbrain is my wife. I sort of married her back on that planet when she wandered off. Yeah, I know you're all shocked and amazed. Don't right care what ya'll think. Now, she needs to get some decent clothes on and get used to being back with everybody. She don't need no drugs or nosy shipmates. Since I'm her husband, I'm moving all her girly go-se into my bunk. Dong ma?"

He stared around at the collection of dumbfounded and bemused faces. "Good. We'll meet you back here for dinner." He walked out of the dining area victoriously. "Oh," he poked his head back in, "I ain't cooking, neither."

The crew stared at the empty doorway, jaws gaping. Kaylee couldn't contain herself, even in the face of a horrified Simon. She let a tiny giggle escape. That sound broke Mal, who collapsed in his chair, howling in laughter at the sight of his fearsome mercenary baby-talking the killer genius. The rest of the crew joined in, except for Book who appeared worried by any possible depravity, and Simon who rushed after Jayne, full of fury.

Jayne sat on River's puny bed and pulled over a chest of clothes, grabbing a green kimono-type dress. He recognized it as a cast-off of Inara's that had been altered to be less whore-ish. River clung tightly to Jayne, pressing her face against his bare chest. She alternated between hiding her eyes beneath his chin and rubbing her cheek against his chest.

"Spilled peas, spilled seeds," she said into his neck.

"Yeah," he sighed, forgetting the dress for the moment and lying back on the bed with her. "Mal laughed," he added in embarrassment.

River stilled her frantic motions and sat up. "Wishes he was Alexander like you."

"Yeah, that'll be the day," he answered.

He looked down at his little wife who was sitting astride his hips, his shirt hanging off her shoulders. She was beautiful. And as addle-headed as she was, he needed her, and she him. He wrapped his hands around her thighs. River caught him staring.

"We shall not be put asunder," she reassured him.

Jayne quickly sat up and wrapped his arms around her. "Damn straight. I take care of what's mine. Ain't gonna let a bunch of peeyen crew steal you."

River pet his chest as she sat encircled in his arms. "Didn't forget you. Couldn't forget you."

"Hmm?" Jayne's voice rumbled deep in his throat.

"Mirror-girl let snakes past her lips. Wife never forgets husband. She may forget herself, but never him."

Jayne let her words sink in. He wasn't used to people telling him things just to make him feel good. Usually worked just the opposite.

"Then, what happened? Why'd you blow the space-thing to smithereens? And why were you all loopy when we got there?" he asked.

She stilled in his arms, pressed her ear against his chest, and breathed in his scent deeply, trying to further ground herself.

"Leaves burn. New growth comes from the ashes," she tried to explain.

"You really think the Alliance will write you off?" he asked as he rubbed his cheek against her hair.

She didn't answer, just huddled against his heat.

Jayne continued his questioning. "So, why didn't you recognize me, then?"

"Knew you'd come. You wouldn't leave me behind. Girl calculated the time, the miles, planned the explosion weeks before. Then, the girl… I… got lost. Running, chasing, hiding. Buried myself in my head. My body wandered without me. But, your skin…" she slid her hands up his chest towards his face, her eyes rolling back as she felt the stubble of his cheek scratch against the smooth skin of her palms.

"Your skin," she continued, "your skin, your flesh, your heat, your touch, your body. They showed me my own."

"Mmm…" he hummed, slipping his hands under the shirt she wore. "But, why me?"

River raised her arms so Jayne could pull the shirt over her head.

"'And the two shall become one flesh.' Was missing half. You finished the girl, made a River," she said, pressing herself to his bare chest, sliding her body against his.

Jayne inhaled deeply then leaned forward until River was on her back on the bed. He supported his own weight with his arms, and stayed there, hovering above her body, staring at her earth-colored eyes.

"I think," he began confidently, "I think I love you, River."

She beamed up at him, her eyes clear and full of light. "I know you do, Jayne."

Jayne was so glad that he had made her happy, that he tried to ignore his heavy disappointment that she didn't love him back. It almost didn't matter. As long as she was happy with him and let him stay with her, he didn't care what she thought of him.

He bent his face close to hers, until he could feel her breath on his mouth and smell the scent of her skin. Hesitantly he asked, "Can I kiss you?"

River pulled him to her and spoke against his lips, "I love you, too, zhang-fu."

Jayne stilled, and then chuckled before pinning her head down with his mouth. He knew he'd follow this woman anywhere, do anything to be with her, and he'd whip anyone who tried to stop him.

"What," bellowed a strained voice, "are you doing to my sister!"

Jayne immediately dropped his weight down onto River, covering her lack of clothes.

River tilted her head back until she could see her brother, albeit upside-down.

"Hi!" she said cheerfully.

"River… mei-mei," Simon began in a desperate tone, "you need to get away from that man. He's very bad."

River scowled. "Pots and kettles."

Simon sighed without understanding. "River, he's old enough to be your father."

"Jayne is my father," she said with a smirk.

"What?" asked Simon, holding onto the doorframe for support, looking from his sister to Jayne. But Jayne just gave him an irritating Cheshire cat grin.

"Jayne is my father. He is my mother. My brother, my sister, my son, my daughter," River continued.

"Mei-mei, you're not making any sense," Simon said.

"Jayne is my family," she stressed.

"Then," Simon asked contrarily, "what am I?"

"You're faraway," she tried explaining. "You're my family but Jayne is closer. That's the way it has to be. No stretched ties. Loyalty only goes one way."

"But, I'm the one that saved you, the one that loves you. Not Jayne! He just wants one thing, River. He'll use you and leave you when he finds something better," Simon said throwing his hands in the air.

"Hey, now," Jayne interrupted, "for starters. I ain't gotten any yet; too many damn intrusions. Second of all, you ain't giving her much credit if you think I can find someone better. I've been around – she is definitely uncommon. And, if we're going to have this conversation now, turn around for a minute."

"Why?" Simon sneered, "So you can abscond with my baby sister?"

"She's naked. Be right considerate of you if you'd let her get dressed before you finish scolding us," Jayne said.

"But I'm her brother. And her doctor!" Simon argued.

"Yup. But now she's my wife. And I'll kill anyone who looks at her naked. Even you," said Jayne.

Simon was about to argue, but he saw the grim determination in Jayne's eyes, and slowly turned around, making sure his body blocked the doorway. "You've got ten seconds."

As soon as Simon's back was turned, River grabbed the green dress, pulled it over her head, and resituated herself in Jayne's lap. She pulled his arms around her and snuggled back into his chest.

Jayne figured they had a few seconds left before Simon turned around, so, placing one hand gently around her neck, he fisted his other hand in River's hair and pulled her head back, kissing her soundly.

At the sound of River's low moan, Simon spun around and felt his blood pressure rise at the sight of his sister arching against the mercenary as Jayne lapped at River's mouth.

"Agh!" Simon screamed. "Stop it, stop it, stop it!"

River's lips made a popping noise as Jayne pulled his mouth away.

"Gorramit, Simon," Jayne said, "I'd swear you're a virgin."

"No, but she is!"

"Really?" asked Jayne as he looked down at River's smile. "Never had me a virgin before."

Simon's mouth dropped open. "I'm going to kill you," he stated seriously.

"Aw, c'mon," said Jayne, "I'm teasing you. Since I'm the big brother now, that's my job."

"Why? Why are you doing this? Why do you even want her?" Simon asked.

"Stop," River said, interrupting the men's exchange, sitting up straighter in Jayne's arms. "You think I'm broken, Simon. Scattered pieces. Never whole. You stitch and sew and glue and stick. Husband sees me, not a mission. You think this girl is shattered, but he shatters me."

Simon stood there, refusing to see his sister in this new light. "I'm sorry, but I cannot accept this… this union between the two of you."

"Well," Jayne stood up, holding tightly to River's hand, "that's too damn bad. But, since you're here, you can help carry her crap back to my bunk."

With that, Jayne handed River her bag of art supplies, lifted her clothes trunk to his shoulder, and the pair walked hand in hand past Simon.

Simon blinked. Then distractedly picked up River's box of knitting and followed after.

Once River's few possessions were moved into Jayne's bunk, Simon again tried to talk to River, who had her arms wrapped around her husband's waist.

"I don't like this, River. You don't have to be… married to him. You're not… stable enough to make these decisions. We can get this annulled and we'll find another ship to hide on," he begged.

Tears welled up in her eyes. "No, Simon, no, no…" she started sobbing. "Jayne, Jayne, please don't let me go away. Please! Jayne! Can't leave you… I'll break!"

Jayne shot Simon a murderous glare before lifting River up into his arms. "I ain't gonna let you go, baby. You know that. Your dumbass brother is just talking, don't mean nothing."

River continued crying quietly into his neck. Jayne turned to Simon, anger in his eyes. "Get your ass out of here and quit unsettling my wife. I don't care if you don't like me, but she does. Now, leave us alone for a minute. I ain't gonna hurt her or do nothing she doesn't want me to. She's not yours anymore, doc."

Simon watched Jayne stroke River's back through the green satin that she wore. She responded to him, quieting. There was nothing he could do anymore. As Jayne said, she wasn't his. River made it quite clear: she was Jayne's now… Jayne's responsibility. Simon was… free? He hated himself for thinking of his sister as a burden, but now… if she was having a bad spell, it would be Jayne getting up in the middle of the night – to talk to her, calm her down, clean up her vomit from his bed. He watched as Jayne – the big, ugly killer-for-hire – rocked the girl in his arms, whispering to her, reassuring her. Simon was stunned. The big ape really did love her. Simon shook his head. What a bizarre world. He turned and headed up the ladder.

"It's okay, girl," Jayne said once Simon closed the hatch behind him. "You're mine. No fancy doctor is gonna split us. I'm sick and tired of having to chase after you, anyway. Figure it'll be a lot easier if I just stick with you. Okay?"

River nodded. She was silent now. No sobs, no tears.

Jayne sat down on his bed with her, brushing aside a dirty magazine and wishing his bunk was neater. There had been something he'd been wondering, but didn't know how to approach it. So, he just asked.

"Girl? Since we're all married and everything, do you want a ring or something?"

River immediately brightened and leapt off the bed, dragging Jayne with her. She began sorting through her yarn box, searching with one hand, refusing to let go of Jayne with the other. Jayne, getting bored with her hunt, began suckling at her fingers. River struggled for breath as his tongue pulled along the underside of her middle finger.

"Mm," she purred. "Stop. Makes my mind… fly."

"Aw, baby, let me do some more, show you what flying is really like," Jayne's voice rumbled as he moved his lips up her arm, kissing as he went.

"But," she began, "the stone…" She quickly lost her thought as Jayne's mouth latched onto her neck, just behind her ear. The flake of obsidian that she had saved from when they were captives together fell onto the floor. She struggled for breath, every thought and sense focused on the feeling Jayne was giving her.

She lay down on her side as he pushed her to the floor. Jayne came astride her, making sure to rub against her legs as he slid his hand up her back, letting her know what he was feeling for her. River stretched out like a cat, elongating every muscle, wanting to feel every inch of Jayne against her.

"Want to be…" she spoke between gasps, "want to be like Adam and Eve."

"Good idea." Jayne quickly shed his pants and boots before attending to River.

He carefully unwrapped her body, laying aside the cool green fabric.

"Lao tyen… You're gorgeous, you know that?" he said as he stared reverently down at her soft, glowing skin.

He watched as she lay there quietly and took in the sight of her naked body. He'd seen her undressed before, but hadn't really been able to stop and admire her. He was one lucky hundan… he wasn't quite sure how he ended up with the little angel, and he was positive that he didn't deserve her, but he knew that he was the only man who would care for her as much as he did… it had to be physically impossible for anyone to love her more.

He wrapped his fingers around her ankles as she lay on her side, loving that he was allowed to do this… that she wanted him to do this. He pushed his hands slowly up her leg, remembering the first time he touched her like this. Her skin was warm and flushed. The softness of her curved legs contrasted to the calluses on his palms.

He bent down to nip at her ankle, carefully scraping his teeth against her skin. He wanted to consume her whole. With his tongue he traced up her leg, grinning when she shivered as he reached the back of her knee.

River stretched out her arms as she lay on the hard floor of Jayne's bunk. Heaps of clothes were piled around. She clutched one red t-shirt in her hand and rolled onto her back. She could smell his sweet sweat that permeated the room. She was surrounded by Jayne. His floor beneath her, his scent around her, his body above her. She reached down and grabbed hold of his shoulders, her nails pricking his tight skin as she pulled him higher up her body. And as he slid his hands beneath her hips and lifted her astride him, she felt whole. Complete. Brand new.

Jayne felt a drop of sweat slide down his back. With one hand, he held River tight against him, with the other he pulled her head back by her tangled hair and sunk his teeth into her shoulder. When she began to grind herself against him in sweet agony, for one beautiful moment, simple Jayne saw the universe, and understood.

The End