While Sleeping Mercenaries Lie…

By Lady Cleo

All disclaimers apply.

River haunts Jayne's dreams… literally… and divulges into the psyche of the man that betrayed her on Ariel. This just kind of jumped into my head and I've been working on it for a while know, smoothing out the edges, so hopefully it's a masterpiece, if not well then it was still incredibly fun to write.

Post Objects… Jayne and River pairing.

BE WARNED… for the first time in my long career as a fan fiction writer I'm in no doubt that this very much deserves the M rating… nothin' dirty or anything, just… well a boy and a girl in love.


It's a quiet and uneventful night to suit a quieter trip, the cargo in Serenity's hold legal for the first time in years. It makes for a more relaxed trip, the first in months and most likely the last for another couple of months.

Inara and Kaylee have taken up their usual game over by the couches. Wash and Zoe watch them, quietly discussing the merits of good baths and a nice little vacation as soon as they hit their destination. Book stands over in the galley finishing up the dishes after the meal. Mal's at the end of the table, weapons sprawled out before him as he carefully and meticulously cleans them.

And Jayne… Jayne's at the other end of the table, an old weapons magazine sprawled out before him forgotten. One hand's resting on his holster; the other's hanging lifelessly at his side. His head's knocked back, supported only by the high backed chair, his eyes are closed and he's breathing lightly but deeply, evenly… boredom's knocked him out cold.

Kaylee looks up from the game and giggles once again at the sight of the sleeping mercenary. "Don't he look so peaceful?" She questions the group that surrounds her. "Like a baby or somethin'."

"That's one hell of an ugly baby!" Mal smirks from his end of the table. He ignores the glare Kaylee sends him and starts in on the next gun laid out before him.

Simon enters the dinning room and River trails as always behind him, one of her arms holding the other as her eyes dance around the room unable to focus. She spins in place for a second before Simon catches her by the arm and starts to pull her over to the table. He pauses when he spots the mercenary, "Shouldn't someone wake him?

"You ever tired to wake a man with a history like his?" Mal questioned. "Considerin' that he claim's ta have taken down ten men before I'd say it wouldn't be a pretty sight. Bound to have something bruised, broken or torn off if you're lucky..."

Simon gapes at the captain for a second, releasing River as she struggles to pull out of his grasp. "Tell me you don't honestly believe that he was telling the truth?" The room goes quiet, and Simon glances around, "You believe him?" River's glazed eyes finally focus on something and she moves over to stand beside said object as the conversation continues around her.

"Jayne don't exaggerate bout stuff like that, he ain't got no need too." Kaylee declares looking up from her game with Inara.

"But the odds are improbable." Simon states, leaving his sister's side he walks over to stand over the small coffee table and stare down at the game.

River's now watching her object with extreme curiosity. It radiates warmth and gives her soft visions of its inside. She likes it, wants to keep it, take it down to her bunk and cuddle it to her before it changes back into a weapon.

"Odds ain't nothin' in his kind of life," Zoe points out, "You either live or you die. And when you have a mark on you like Jayne does, several I might add, you learn to beat the odds."

"That there is living proof…" Mal starts to say his gaze turning to the mercenary but he trails off at the sight that greets him, drawing everyone's attention.

River is slowly straddling the larger man's lap, "It's warm and fuzzy…" She whispers wrapping her arms around her object's waist she drops her head to its chest, pressing her ear against it's beating heart. "Speaks softly and sings of pretty things, not what it seems."

"River! What are you…" Simon whispers in full blown panic as he hurries over to her sides, trying to figure out how to pull her off the larger man. "I don't think you should…"

"I'm very comfortable." Comes the soft but firm reply. She snuggles closer to Jayne and lets her eyes droop shut as her breathing evens out.


Serenity's cargo hold is covered in soft white grains of sand. It feels warm beneath her feet, as though gently baked by an invisible sun. She stands in place for several seconds just watching her feet as she wiggles her toes through the sand.

"Gorram feng le girl what in ruttin' hell you doing here?" Jayne's standing not five feet away from her. His stance is crouched low, a gun held ready in his hands, eyes darting along the hold looking for something. "Ain't safe, you'll just get in the way, get back to your pretty boy brother, ain't got no time to mind you." He barks angrily and moves gracefully forward, aiming the weapon into shadows and corners.

There's a deep frown imprinted on his face but she can feel the emotions that flow off him, he's… almost happy. Blood's coursing through his veins, pumping through his heart. It's the thrill of death and danger, the thought of the hunt, of capturing his prey and destroying… he likes it. The edge danger gives him is like a drug, a series of extreme highs that makes his body hum with pleasure and shoots ecstasy through his veins. It's a pure aphrodisiac like feeling…

The emotions, the high that's coursing in his veins, the feelings of near bliss as adrenaline spikes his blood, they all slip off him and onto her. Tingling down into her toes still buried beneath the sand, pounding through her heart, catching hold of her stomach and twisting it. And for more than a second she's lost in the sensory of his feelings and emotions.

But Jayne leaves her behind, advancing on his warpath into the guest quarters, taking the high away from her. And for a second she feels empty and lifeless without him, like all the emotions have been stolen from her. But she follows after him…

Jayne's crouched down in the center of the guest quarter's examining an invisible footprint as though it tells him all his victims' secrets, "Bout an hour old." He whispers with a sadistic grin, "Ain't gone far yet, we'll catch him."

"Jayne Cobb…"

Both River and Jayne turn towards the sound of the stern voice and find its source standing in the doorway to the cargo bay. She looks like Jayne, more feminine, but with the same strong bone structure and long straight black ebony hair that hangs over her shoulder. A little carbon copy of the woman hangs off her full skirts sucking a thumb.

There's a strong and stern light in her eyes that reminds River of the glare that she's seen Jayne frighten lesser men with. Still the woman radiates warmth and love, "I told you near an hour ago ta get cleaned up, now stop foolin' round boy and do as I say." Her peace spoken she turns and departs with the smaller child.

River turns back around and finds a boy standing in the man's footprints.

Jayne's no more then six or seven, the short black hair is a wild mess… he's skinny and lanky and so very soft looking. He's a mess of limbs and it makes her wonder how the child will grow from such an awkward stance into the stealth and grace of the adult. The glare he's giving River is not nearly as potent as the man's and his face is soft and warm, despite his scowl.

"Look at what ya done! Ya ruined the hunt!" The little boy pouts and collapses to the ground in an awkward clump of limbs. "Why ya always gotta ruin my fun ya moony-brained girl?"

"Took away the fun?" River questions and tilts her head in confusion before dropping down to her knees before the smaller boy.

"Ya were too loud, ya ain't all stealth like… likin' me. Ma probably heard ya clompin' after mah' and figured that ya were playin' with me and all…" He explains crossing his arms across his small chest. "Now I gotta get cleaned up and all."

River shifts to sit cross legged before him, "World must turn on the axis. Stopping is not an option, must keep on else will drop through the stars."

The child doesn't seem phased by her wording, "Aw shucks I know'd that. Ain't like I'd stay out all night or nothin', just wanted little more fun's all."

River smiles and turns her head spotting a white daisy as it pokes up through the grating of the floor. She reaches out and gently plucks it, holding the pretty flower out to the little boy, "The bee's sting will lessen with honey."

"Naw thanks, what use would'n I have for little thing like that? I ain't girly or nothin'. Name's Jayne, but I ain't girly."

"A tender gift is bestowed upon the affectionate and lessens the wrath of previous indiscretion." Her words are a little too big and she realizes it when she feels the strong wave of confusion roll off him. "For her pains."

"Ma… naw, she gets plenty of 'em from pa. She'd probably want a spider or somethin' good likin' that from me." Little Jayne explains, but he reaches out and takes the proffered item. Rising to his knees he tucks it gently behind River's ear. "There, now ya look like a proper moonbrained girl… all crazy and stuff. 'Fore you were lookin' too sane and all."

River thinks she feels a little insulted by the comment but decides the gesture is too cute to dwell on the words. "She thanks you for your considerations…" She whispers fingering the small flower with a loopy smile.

In response the boy tilts his head and narrows his eyes up at her, "How come you're here and all. Ain't like I invited ya or nothin'..." he points out.

River feels his suspicion build and it confuses her for a second before she discerns that it's not all hers. "It was soft and warm here, cold and hard in other places." She explains and drops her hands down to her lap watching the child before her. "Called out to me, don't want to go back to the fuzzy and the spinning."

"Don't know how long you're gonna be able to stay here, ma will feed ya and all but pa don't like 'em visitors that don't keep their weight." His eyes' transverse her body innocently as though he's sizing up her weight and worth "You any good at chores?"

River shrugs her shoulder, unsure of the answer, "If at first you don't succeed, then turn round and find greener grass."

His face scrunches up at her comment. "All you girls are alike, ain't ya? Ain't good for nothin' but lookin' pretty, huh!" But once the comment is said he glances off in the direction that his mother went, "Don't tell her I'd said that, she'd whop my ass hard for saying somethin' like that."

"The flower petal may only look engaging but it conceals many things from the eyes of boys. It has veins and secrets that it'll only whisper to the wind."

Little Jayne scoffs up at her, "Course I'd known that too." He insists, "Pa's always sayin' girls are all sorts of confusin'. And that one day I'm gonna meet me a girl so darn gosh fusin' that I'll have ta marry her, just so's I can spend rest of eternity tryin' ta figure her out." He glances over her again, "Bet it'll be a girl like you, all riddles and gibberish stuff… course if'n I have my way I ain't ever gonna meet no girl, much less marry one. Girls are too… girly an' soft for me. Rather'd just get me a good gun."


"She's got some kind of death grip on him, captain." Wash declares poking his head around the chair he's kneeling before. "Ankles are locked about the chair legs too, I'm thinking she don't want to go nowhere."

They're gathered around the two peacefully sleeping crewmembers. Simon's still in full blown panic mode, while Kaylee's trying hard not to laugh. "Maybe we could saw off the bars!" Simon suggests.

"That don't solve the problem of her hands!" Wash points out, like Kaylee struggling to keep the grin from his face and the laugh from his lips.

"I'm thinkin' that you're takin' this the wrong way." Mal declares with a smug grin down at the younger doctor. "The question we all need to be askin' is if anybody's got a camera on this boat."


They're back in the cargo bay again. But this time the floor's covered in thick green grass that sprouts up between her toes. It sends a happy tingle of emotions through her heart and she bounces for a second on her toes, laughing gently, twirling around in place like a happy child.

But she knows she's not alone as this isn't her head, and she glances around for Jayne. He's a teenager now, tall and lanky, wiry muscles that are not fully developed, hair's longer, uncontrolled, spiked in every direction. His stance is lazy and undisciplined, not the graceful stealth of the man River knows. His expressions are unguarded, his thoughts uncontrolled, and his unbroken innocence is still written plainly across his face.

His emotions are a crazy torrent mixed with the raging hormones of his body. He's angry at the world, but he's also happy and sad, remorseful, confused and… feeling the pain of a first love. He's not alone, but sitting on the grass beside a blond girl in a bright blue dress. Their body language speaks of easy familiarity and River feels a pang of her own emotions suddenly slip up through all of his. But she can't distinguish it.

Jayne finally speaks up after a second, "Ya don't have to marry him, Becca. Me and you, we could go away and all. Get off this ruttin' planet." He's scowling at the distance, avoiding the girl's glance.

"I ain't like you Jayne," Becca answers, "Don't wanna know bout all them scary things off world, I like it here, wanna stay." The young girl in blue fiddles with her dress stretches her legs out and leans back with a smile, "Ya know, you could always ask me to marry you. We could settle down here, start a farm or a ranch with the land my pa would give us."

Jayne's anger rises up another notch, he doesn't want to stay and become just another struggling farmer, doesn't want to be like everybody else on this ruttin' planet. "Someday I'm gonna come back and rescue you from this piece of go se, show ya that the rest of the 'Verse ain't dirt poor farmers."

Becca laughs gently and River frowns, she defiantly detects a hint of dislike for the blond among all her feelings and thoughts. "No, you ain't. Once you get off world you'll come running home scared. Sides' who you gonna rescue me from, Jacob Miller? Won't wanna be rescued from him once we're married..."

"I'm going places, big places, like to them Cores. I'm gonna take to the sky and I ain't ever gonna stay on a dust planet like this again." The young teenager stubbornly declares.

"Sure you will, Jayne." The blond says with a hidden smile that betrays her tone. "And you'll find a really pretty girl off world that needs your rescuing and you'll forget about me." The blond suddenly laughs at the idea and stands up, disappearing… Jayne remains in his place, a small pang of hurt twitches across his heart. It's not the first time a girl's ever stomped on it and it won't be the last time.

What's a crazy girl to say in this kind of situation? She hasn't had her heart stomped on, was swept away before the first pains of love and refusal. She never got to play like normal girls. Besides even if she could find the right words, they never come out right anymore.

"She was right ya know." His voice is strong, not giving away the pain that River knows he's feeling. He turns and looks at her as if he'd always know of her presence there. And she sees a spark of the man she knows within the teenager's eyes.

"I didn't become nothin'… look at me, working for a measly ten percent on a transport. A lousy gun for hire, ain't good at nothin' sides killing and trackin' them that needs to be killed. Never made it ta the core like I wanted. Never became filthy rich or nothing. I'm just like 'em all, only I changed the name a little; dirt poor farmer to dirt poor mercenary."

River walks forward and settles down with a flop beside the teenager with the man's eyes. "See the trees for the forest, not the forest for the trees."

Jayne laughs gruffly, "That don't make no sense…" He turns his head to look at her, "Ain't no forests here. Sides if were talkin' trees I thinkin' lumber which leads ta money."

River rolls her eyes, "Not all is monetary means; have a family, a bunk, and kitchen privileges… things that are valued more then the sparkle and the glitter." She knows he understands, but she also feels that he doesn't accept it. His life has taught him only one half of a hard lesson; Money is the only means of this world… "Blue dress?"

"Mom writes bout her occasionally," Jayne answers automatically, "She filled out and hand ten kids or somethin' long them lines." He laughs quietly, "I sure know how to pick 'em." His voice is heavy with sarcasm. Rivers raises an eyebrow in curiosity, but he doesn't tell her… he shows her…

The atmosphere is suddenly changed again. The air about her is smoky and cloudy, it's loud and nosy. High above on the catwalks women stand in low cut, bright dresses, hanging on an assortment of dirty looking men. There are tables set up around the cargo bay and a bar over by the ramp lined with every size, color and shade of dirty whiskey and poison.

Jayne's just barely a man, young and handsome, still clean shaven. He's filled out a little more, some muscles and more grace, but he's not yet Serenity's Jayne. Not as good with a gun and not yet the tracker he's going to be. Still, he's been off world for three years now and seen more things in them three years then some see in a lifetime. Mainly blood and death, deception and lies… It's made him harder but the little boy is not yet lost though the light in his eyes tells her that he's killed a few men but they haunt his dreams.

River's perched on his lap in a dress that would have horrified Simon, a dress that gives her the curves her other dresses never give and makes assists out of her body parts. The way his hand rests on the edge of her thigh would've probably had her older brother rolling on the floor in a fit.

Jayne chews on the end of a cigar, five cards clasped in the hand that's not resting possessively on her thigh. The other men around the table are very dirty and pissed drunk, barely able to play the game properly. That's how Jayne likes it, means he can cheat them out of money easily.

The man to Jayne's left is chatting, "…happened to a friend of mine." The drunk laughs and turns to Jayne. "Don't kiss em on the lips boy," he leans over the table, poking at River with a finger. "They'll rob ya blind."

Jayne glares at the man and takes the cigar from his mouth dropping it down to an overloaded ashtray, "I'll kiss 'em wherever I want," and turns his gaze back to the game. But the pot's pretty measly as the table's already been cleaned out. He folds his hand and lets his attention wander to the warm body pressed against him.

The hand on River's thigh glides down the dress to the hem of her skirt and slips beneath. Her eyes pop out as the coarse hand touches the smoother skin of her leg and moves distinctively upward. Her breath catches in her throat as his teeth graze the skin of her shoulder, catching hold of the dress strap and pulling it down off the ball of her shoulder. Hands reach out to grab a hold of the chair as his tongue darts out to taste the salt of her skin.

She's not sure whose emotions are boiling in her stomach and spiking through her head, she thinks they're part his and part hers. Before she can further question it he flips her in his lap so that she's straddling his hips and leaves a bruising trail with his lips along her shoulder blade and up her neck. His hands slip back beneath the dress moving up and down her thighs with soft strokes, and her eyes roll back into her head at the sensations that course through her. She can't help but begin to understand why the rest of the crew seems so fixated on touch.

Jayne pulls back from her for a second, an eyebrow waggling up at her. But River realizes with a pang of something that's almost hurt that his eyes aren't seeing her, but some nameless whore from his past. Half the emotions that course through her body suddenly drop away and she doesn't want to play anymore. But Jayne tosses her over his shoulder and stands. "You and me gonna have some fun…" He promises with a husky voice and starts for the cargo bay stairs. His mind tells her that the whore had giggled over the act, but River doesn't feel like giggling.

"Jayne Cobb…" and River's suddenly dumped unceremoniously to her own feet and forgotten.

A woman stands a few feet away; a body that's nothing but soft curves… filling out a dress in a way River thinks she'll never be able to. This one reeks of pheromones and strong sex and every wave of ebony hair is perfectly in place. For a second River wonders if the woman actually looked like that in real life or if this is just how Jayne remembers her. But that's forgotten when Jayne leaves River behind to approach the whore. She watches as he sweeps 'that woman' off her feet into a giant embrace and plants a solid, knee shaking kiss on the other woman's lips.

The girl thinks she detects a very strong hint of jealously among the confusion of her own emotions, but she can't be sure, it's buried among all the others… irritation, rage, annoyance, resentment, disgust, loathing. She hates the way Jayne looks at this other woman even more then when his eyes hadn't seen her. And she hates feeling all the emotions that he's feeling for that particular whore… wants to cross the room and slap him just to wipe the worshipful look off his face.

"Heard you've been winning big this week." The voice that comes out of the whore's lips grates undeniably on River's nerves. "Hope you ain't got nothing planned tonight, cuz I'm willing to cancel a previous engagement for you sugar." Jayne's lapping it up like a horse that ain't had water in years, letting the woman lead him up the cargo bay stairs.

"Ruttin' bitch…" River turns at the sound of his voice and finds the same Jayne that just disappeared standing next to her, only this one sees River not the nameless whore, this one has the spark of Serenity's Jayne in his eyes. "Whore gave me the goodnight kiss, wiped me clean, left me stranded on this go se planet for a whole gorram month fore I could get off."

The hate he feels for the other woman mingles with her own and consumes River for a minute but it's suddenly wiped away by an equally strong feeling of curiosity and confusion.

River turns to look up at the man and finds him staring down at her attire, "Why for ya dressed like a whore?" He asks, noticing her curves for the first time since that little incident on Ariel. Figures it would take such an outfit to get his attention again. Still, he's seeing the crazy one, not the girl.

River glares up at him, "You're psyche, not mine." She accuses and feels the baffled almost guilty thoughts flow off him. His eyes jump away from her body like just looking at her will send him crashing to hell.

Jayne clears her throat, "Course, never kissed a whore on the lips after that." He declares in a shaky attempt to change the subject. "Ruttin' bitch was nothin' compared to the next one that screwed me over."

Suddenly the world's wiped away and River finds herself in the dinning room, but she's not alone. A body lies but a few feet away from her, a body covered in deep crimson red that soaks into clothing and drips to the floor. Glazed eyes lift to meet her own and she finds herself more then eternally grateful that this is a memory and she can't feel the man's pain.

The sound of approaching footsteps on grating shocks her away from the red image, Jayne slips around the corner. He holds a gun close to his body, but he's barefoot and shirtless as though his hunt was a sudden and unexpected one.

He's older then before, but still young, maybe late twenties, and still relatively clean shaven. His body's still unscarred, though a tattoo now adjourns his left shoulder. The blue eyes are not hard yet, but still warm. His grace is not yet that of Serenity's Jayne but his aim is a hundred times more deadly than the last memory.

His eyes fall to the body and she knows that he's used to death now, but this death pains him and he crouches down beside the red image, "Gorram fool… Calhan, can't die on me yet." Loyalty… friendship… this is one of the few Jayne's actually made in this life. A partner; went on jobs together, killed together, watched each other's back, mercenaries who could coexist. There's trust…open and honest trust.

But the man slips from the world with a painful shudder. Jayne's pain is only momentary; he closes the dead man's eyes and stands. He knows who did this and the anger boiling in his veins is all consuming hate, so strong that River fists her hands at her sides and is blinded by tears.

Jayne moves swiftly through the dinning room, body tensed and ready. He slips along the ways; pressed closed to the walls, railings. His gun precedes him around each corner, prepared to deliver what he feels is going to be swift justice. And he moves down into the cargo bay…

Like all the other women in his life she is beautiful, rich waves of red hair curling around her face. But unlike the others she reeks of danger and is dressed in a manner very similar to Zoe. She's a lot like Jayne… but the smile that lights her face fills River with a sense of fear and dread so overpowering that the girl stumbles back a step while Jayne advances on the woman with confidence, the gun aimed at her head.

"You're still alive?" There's a hint of shock behind the woman's eyes. "Guess I underestimated you, or overestimated Bryant…" The woman smiles and River gets the distinct feeling that she believes she still has the upper hand.

And the emotions that spill off Jayne almost confirm that. There are the remnants of strong passion and desire, deep emotional attachment for the woman he's pointing his gun at. The taste of her still on his lips, the memory of long nights with strong kisses… kisses the sign of Jayne's trust in women… but two dead bodies are attesting to the fact that she's not what she seems.

"He talked too…" Jayne interrupts, training the gun steadily at a point between her eyeballs. "Begged and pleaded 'fore I ended it. Talked bout you lots… seemed to think that I ought to know I was bein' played, thought if'n he turned it all ta ya… I'd spare 'em."

"Never was very smart, was he?" The woman gives him an enticing, confident smile. "Course you and I always took to the stupid fools like Bryant… and Calhan." She's toying with the pain and the anger in Jayne's heart, thinking she can throw him off. But he wants to see her blood pooling on the ground, to feel the satisfaction of bringing it and knowing that Calhan's trip to hell won't be too lonely. "Put that pea shooter down, you ain't gonna shoot me." She motions to the 9mm in his hands rolling her eyes to the back of her head.

"Why in ruttin' hell not?" Jayne questions with a hard edge in his voice.

"Cuz you ain't like me. Seen it in your eyes, you're too soft, hon, too many of them ruttin' morals left over from too good of a childhood. Your life ain't been hard enough yet to shoot the woman you shared a bed with."

Something snaps within his mind, maybe it's his sanity, maybe it's the last straw of the soft little boy that left that small home world years ago. "Guessin' you don't know me too well then…" And his finger squeezes the trigger, and the bullet rips from the muzzle, and the body crumples to the floor.

River doesn't recognize the man before her… he's a killer, torrents of angry emotions rip through his head and body. There's nothing but anger and hate as he stares down at the red splattered image… hard boiling hatred. He wants to put another series of bullets into the soft body on the floor, wants to see her wither in pain, wants to watch her bleed some more. He scares River more then anything else. The little boy has been wiped away by a life that's been too hard. A life like River's, taken violently away from him before he could experience the true beauty of it.

The gun slowly lowers to his side and the anger's joined by a stronger feeling of heart wrenching pain… pain for Calhan and that little soft boy, for what he's lost. It blinds River and reminds her of the needles; all consuming… no escape… pain so great that she wants to sink to the floor and curl into a tight ball. But Jayne stands like a rock staring down at his victim with a satisfied glare, as if there is no sting.

River's still afraid to approach him, afraid that the residing hate and fear will attack her if she approaches. But she wants to stop the pain and being broken means she can't push it off on her own, he has too, she has to make him take control. She stumbles over to Jayne and practically throws herself against him, falling into his arms. The mercenary looks down into her face, the blank expression replaced with one of curiosity and finally recognition as a spark of her Jayne flashes through his eyes.

"Stop it, make it stop, can't breath with it… hurts too much, jabs pins into her skull." She pleads, clawing at his chest as through trying to climb into his arms. Tears slip down her cheeks as his hand comes up to grip her shoulder and hold her at a distance, "Too like the needles and the blue, too like the loss of the girl, the taking of the girl…" She sobs, pushing off his hand she throws herself back against his chest clinging to him like he's life support, "Thumps needles in her heart… stop it, stop…"

The body disappears as he takes control of the memory, gently pushing it to the back of his mind, locking it up with all the other red memories. River sags with relief against his chest, still clinging to his form as the tears slow down and begin to dry against her check. She slowly pulls away, looking up at the man to find him staring down at her with a… a semblance of understanding. He still sees the crazy girl… but maybe she's a little more human in his eyes now.


"Will you give it a rest?" Mal questions... He's back at the other end of the table, cleaning his guns as he watches Simon hover around Jayne and River. The rest of the group has also resumed their previous positions, except for Book who's retired for the night.

"I could give her a muscle smoother." The young doctor declares worriedly. "It would relax her muscles enough so that we could pull her off."

"Ain't ya drugged her enough?" Kaylee questions, her meaning and thoughts innocent, but Simon reacts guilty.

"He'll wake up soon." Inara adds softly, noticing the pain that washes over Simon's face. "You can't sleep for long like that. Look at his face; he's extremely uncomfortable right now."


Jayne's extremely uncomfortable in these settings.

The cargo bay's been transformed into some sort of fancy hotel room, with a grand old bed in the center. He's older now, closer to Serenity's Jayne with the trademark goatee growing on his chin. His face is tired, his body is tired… it echoes through his eyes and River can feel it weighing down the mercenary's shoulders.

The sound of footsteps echo up through the cargo bay and suddenly he snaps… body's rigidly straight and the tired expressions are wiped from his face. He's the strong hard mercenary again … not the tired man.

A woman enters and smiles gently at him. She's soft and warm with long dark ebony hair, tall and emotionally strong. This one reminds River of his mother in more than one way and there's an aura of warmth around her that is similar to the one Kaylee reflects. But she's dressed in a rich and fine manner and carries herself with the proud stance of money.

"All packed." She declares with a soft smile as she sits beside him. "You could always come with," she begins with a coy smile in his direction, "Daddy would love you; all your gruff mannerisms and stories of the rim."

Jayne snorts and River feels a pinch of anger among all the other emotions he's feeling. "What would I do? Them fancy cores ain't got decent work for a man of my standin'. Too ruttin' respectable and all. Rather'd stay here and have me some fun maiming and torturing."

The woman laughs gently at his words and leans forward to kiss him on the corner of his mouth. "It was fun Jayne" She whispers and then stands, moving towards the door without a look back.

River turns back to watch the mercenary fall backwards against the bed. The woman's departure is a pain in Jayne, but it's barely a slight ping and it fades away so fast that River wonders if it was ever there in the first place. He wants to care about her leaving… but he doesn't. All that matters now is Jayne… what Jayne wants, what Jayne needs. He only feels a little remorseful that he didn't try to make it work. She had money; shit loads and shit loads of money, money that could have gotten him everything he wanted and more. Money that could have given him what he'd set off from home for in the first place… a different life.

"Still ain't sure why I didn't go." He speaks up softly from the bed and startles River out of his thoughts. She walks over to the bed and climbs onto it, sitting cross legged beside him, staring down at his face, watching him for any sign of something. "Could've stopped being that dirt poor mercenary and become a little girl's toy."

"Is the circus bear pleased with his polished collar?"

Jayne lifts his head and glares up at her, "Ain't no bear, but you're right. No way I could've been happy beggin' off her table for scraps or nothin'." His head drops back down and his thoughts slip off. Despite his words he questions whither or not he could have adjusted to that kind of life style. He would've been married to money not the girl.

"Knew them too well…" River interrupts his thoughts, drawing his attention back over to her. "Both are predictable, girl looses interest, money leaves. Neither are suitable candidates for matrimonial bliss." The confusion rolls of him in strong waves, "Proper candidate must be so 'darn gosh fusin' that I'll have ta marry her, just so's I can spend rest of eternity tryin' ta figure her out.'" She says in her best imitation of the child Jayne.

A smile crack across his face for a second and he laughs. "Guessin' I did say somethin' like that long time ago." There's a spark of something behind his eyes, and she thinks for a second he's almost seeing her as just a girl.

River reaches out with a hand and gently lays it on his. And though he still watches her movements somewhat wearily he doesn't jump at her touch. "Won't bite again..." She assures.

But her words trigger a sudden violent shift in their settings. And River finds herself standing in the cargo bay looking at down at…. herself. Jayne's River is stretched out in a chair, staring up at nothing. Simon's there too, but he looks different. He looks weaker then he really is and the air about him speaks of nothing but the shallow superiority of money and intelligence.

It intrigues her and she turns back to look at herself. Lovely, soft and warm, but deadly and dangerous with an un-human glint in her eyes that threatens Serenity. It makes River… sad… regretful maybe… because his thoughts pinpoint her and the butcher's knife as the cause. But as hard as she picks her brains, she can't remember who told her that he'd look better in red.

Jayne's there, standing by Simon and he looks lost, confused, doubting his actions a little… maybe. He's balancing on a circus wire, trying to keep steady on the path he's already chosen. Simon's words have put a doubt in him…

And the little boy is fighting with the hard mercenary.

"She's just a feng le girl, ain't done you no real harm sides' the butcher's knife."

"If'n you call that no harm, how's about I cut you? See how you like it!"

"We've had worse than that, been hung on the edge of death so many times that her little cut ain't nothin' but a new scar to show off. Sides' she's moonbrained, ain't like she could figure any better."

"That there's my point, what if'n she decides to take a knife to little Kaylee or 'Nara, or somebody else that ain't tough as us. She's a threat to Serenity, and I ain't letting anything come 'tween me and what's mine."

"What's gonna happen after you get that there big payday, hun dun? You think Mal's just gonna sit by and let 'em rot? You think he'd let ya back on that boat if'n he ever found out bout this?"

"He ain't gonna find out!"

"Money's sure made ya stupid. "

"Who in ruttin' hell invited you to this shindig anyway, get!"

And just like that Jayne's all but pushed the little boy back behind the door that holds the red memories. And with him he's pushing off the doubt like everybody else in the 'Verse does. He just keeps on digging the hole he's started, won't try and climb out until he absolutely has too. He won't back down from the commitment he's made.

And suddenly the room's empty again, leaving River alone with Serenity's Jayne. She feels his pain slowly leaking over into her mind, and she understands how it all led to this. She sees the connections… what drove him; the fear, the sparkle and glitter, the glint of a butcher's knife, fear of losing Serenity… The past and how it's burned him, she sees them all in him… the little boy, the teenager, the naive, the hurt and the tired.

River turns to stare at the man a few feet away from her. She's afraid to approach him though, for fear she'll drive him off the edge, make him back track so many steps back. And she speaks softly, "Broken toy, played with too hard and thrown away." She whispers quietly, sadly, "Forgotten on the playground…" She looks down at her chest and draws her finger down it, mimicking the trail the butcher's knife made across his chest. "Both are toys, lost and broken, played with and cut into." She taps her forehead, "Missing pieces, finding … understands, comprehends, part her, part his... part new, part old, mixed together and tossed around. Mended parts exchanged for past pains. No conditions asked."

Jayne frowns for more then a second as he watches her. He's understands it all as if she's just spoken plainly. She's now seen more of him then anybody else in his life. She knows who and why he is the man he is, maybe better then even he himself does. It's a thought that frightens him and excites him at the same time. It comforts him too, and he's not sure why it does. Maybe because despite all she knows she's not looking down at him with disgust, she's not running away from the dark side, but accepting it just as much as the light side. Or maybe it's much simpler, so much simpler… maybe it's just because she seems to have just forgiven him.

For the first time ever when Jayne looks at the crazy girl his eyes see a human girl. He sees the soft curves of her body, the pale creamy skin, the warm albeit loopy smile. The bright eyes that smile despite the pain her mind and body have endured. He sees the intelligence that tries to shine there beneath all the confusion.

And she's still confusing, so ruttin' confusing that he thinks it will take him a hundred lifetimes to figure her out. But she's almost the sanest and craziest woman he's ever met, the warmest and kindest, the weakest and the strongest. She's soft but so hard, she's intelligent but simple beyond belief and she's broken but… not.

Something snaps within the back of his mind, fits all the pieces together; so perfectly that the evolution from feigned indifference to want is seamless and all hellfire powerful and consuming.

The curve of her body is no longer innocent but a seductive trap of limbs. The light behind her eyes is a match that lights a fire in his body. And a spike of dizzy pleasure races through his body at the mere thought of her beneath him and his fingers itch out to touch. Her body is suddenly calling out to him, so strongly that he unconsciously moves forward until he's hovering over her.

River shudders with delight as his emotions join with hers giving her a high shot of pleasure that steals her breath before he even touches her. She delights at the way his eyes travel hungrily over her body with a deeper burning desire then any other women he's ever looked at.

He sees her, every part of her, the dark and the light and it drives her crazy with pleasure to see herself so pictured in his head. And it's what she's wanted… not to be the crazy broken girl, but just the girl, the normal girl with her own faults and her own strengths. To feel what normal girls feel when stir crazy in love with a normal boy. And that's all they are in each other's eyes… boy and girl.

Jayne's hands shoot out to grab her waist pulling her forcibly to him, crushing her body to his as though he's trying to merge the two by force. His lips drop down to hers bruising at first touch, forcing hers apart and tasting her, breathing her in as his body sings to hers. A hand shoots up to hold her head, angling it so he can taste more of her.

His other hand is tugging forcibly at bothersome clothes, creating small tears at the seams as he fights with the zipper. And she follows his example, claws at the t-shirt, pushing it up his chest as she breaks the kiss for a second, pulling the t-shirt over his head and tossing it to the floor forgotten. They follow it soon after, tumbling awkwardly to the hard floor, which is softened at the whim of his mind and the hard metal is suddenly soft with feathers against her back.

He tugs the dress over her head and tosses it away without a second thought. Rid of the pesky nuisance he lets his rough hands glide smoothly over her pale skin. Her limbs and body play into his hands as she fights to rid him of the cargo plants that cling to his waist.


They're laughing joyful at Wash's antics, wrapped up in their own world and ignorant of the events unfolding within Jayne's dreamscape. And they definitely don't notice River's small startled breath that sounds remotely like the name Jayne. Or see her tightening grip around his waist. Nor is anyone close enough to feel the burning heat that radiates from their skin giving them a slight glow.


Nothing's standing in the way now. And her hands are cruising down his body, defining the muscles. While his are exploring the curves of her body with soft enticing strokes that spike pleasure through her stomach. Her body responds as programmed to, seeking out the warmth of his with her own. She suddenly understands why Wash and Zoe can't keep their hands to themselves. New and different emotions swallow her head and heart. The old third person perspective she's read from all the others is nothing in comparison, theses are her own, hers and Jaynes, boy's and girl's, nobody else's.

And Jayne knows exactly what he's doing… how to give her the emotional highs, where to put lips and entice out startled gasp from them both. Her body's bursting at the seams, pulsing so strongly against his that it makes her head spin. His hands slip down her body and her name is drawn out so intoxicatingly from his lips that her body arches out to meet his. And suddenly they're one; bodies pressed so close together that neither can tell where one begins and the other ends.

River's head arches back as the new sensations course though her body. She gasps his name in between her deep breathes, one leg locking around his waist as he moves in a gentle rhythm that gives her heart palpations and flips her stomach over and over.

Jayne's breathing has gone erratic, as though he has to remind himself to perform the basic function. His fingers alternate between bruising grips and soft strokes. The pressure's building quickly within his body, knotting inside his stomach, making breathing more and more difficult. His heart's beating so hard it's pounding against his sternum and deafening in his ears, making him think that it wants to desert him and join hers.


The room goes quiet as River suddenly mews.

All eyes turn towards the sleeping pair.

Jayne's hand, which until now had hung lifelessly at his side, jerks suddenly, reaching out to grab a hold of a chair leg in an iron grip that makes the wood crackle.


River's nails dig into the skin of his flesh so tightly that she knows if this wasn't within the sanctity of his mind there would be blood drawn out over her fingertips. Her body withers beneath him and jerks as suddenly blissfully blinding pain and pleasure shoots up from her toes, through her fingers and to the ends of her hair. Her eyes roll back into her head as she clings to him desperately.

Jayne's stopped breathing for a second, and his hands grasp and fumble to tighten his grip on her as his head drops down, his body's trembling as he's blinded by complete and wonderful nothingness. Her name is whispered on his lips as he gives one final shudder and collapses against her for a second. But even here he's afraid of crushing her and rolls off her body, panting and fumbling for a semblance of control over his trembling body.

He's never felt so complete and sated in his entire life. It's almost like they've exchanged broken pieces and fitted them to each other. And River... she's in a measure control for the first time in months. The exchange of broken bits has given it back to her, albeit it small and most likely only in his presence, still the broken girl feels whole next to him.

River rolls over, conforming to his side, head resting on his shoulder as she takes back control of her breathing. "What in the hell just happened?" Jayne finally questions, his hand dropping down to play along the smooth muscles of her back.

"Unlocked the door, found the key…"

"Naw, I get that part." He answers back. "S' just I think we skipped a couple steps there. Usually there's courtin', and side steppin' each other, whole bunch of pretending and fusin' and getting slapped for movin' too fast. Not that I'm complaining or nothin' ain't never really liked the whole gorram courtin' thingy."

"Haven't consummated yet." River says with a smile, feeling the confusion that trickles from his mind to hers, but she taps into his mind and pushes it off hers. And it's a wonderful feeling, having a semblance of control again, even if it's only with Jayne.

"Sure in ruttin' hell felt likin' it was."

She frowns for a second looking for the correct words. "Not existent… no actual connection. Completed psyches not bodies… felt thought-touches and mind-kisses."

"So when do we get to the consummation part?" Jayne waggles an eyebrow down at her and his hand fawns out across her back, pressing her closer. Leaning forward he presses a soft kiss to her shoulder blade and nibbles along her neck, fingers eagerly dancing across her pale skin. "Hows' bout now?"

River shakes her head firmly, "Court and ship."

Jayne pauses, his head jerking back so he can stare into her eyes, "Court and ship? What the hells that supposed ta…" Recognition flashes across his face, "Hey now, I ain't never agreed to them terms. And considerin' what we just done, wither was in the mind or not, don't exactly…"

She silences him with a finger over his lips. "Must be quantified and evaluated, Daddy won't like it, Simon neither. False move could end in annihilation, and girl would be lost without boy. Will seek and get permission from the guardian, like normal girls and boys."

"Don't know from which 'Verse you came from, but ain't nobody askin' for permission these days, ceptin' of course askin' the girl…"

But she ignores him, already eagerly planning out their courtship. "Will ask Daddy in the morning. He'll say yes after persuading… he told me so. Then first date, first kiss, first fight, first making up… will be normal boy and normal girl."

"Hate to tell ya this but we ain't exactly normal. I'm near about…"

"And then after courtship comes matrimony."

"Marriage? Now I ain't never said nothin' bout…"

"Three children, maybe a Jayne Jr… one will have to be named after Simon."

"I ain't namin' no son of mine after that fancible pretty boy, liable to turn him into a…"

"And stay together, losing hair and teeth as bones deteriorate and fading away." River smiles up at him for a second. "We should wake up now; need to get started right away."

"I thought ya just said we was gonna take it slow?"

"Was before I realized how much needs to be done."


They're laughing off her mew, making suggestions that have Simon alternating between stuttering and raging. "She is human after all." Wash points out. "Now ya probably don't wanna think about your little sister like that, but ya know she's at that young hormonal age."

Across the room two pairs of eyes flash open simultaneously. Jayne's are glazed with the remnants of deep sleep while River's are clear and focused for the first time in months. He slowly lifts his head from its thrown back position as she sits up on his lap. Their eyes lock together…

The room goes quiet suddenly as the rest of the crew notices that the two are awake. All eyes are fixed on the pair as they wait for the mercenary's reaction. But he just stares at her. River's hands unlock from around his waist, slipping forward to clasp his face gently in her hands, "Gosh darn fusin'?" She questions.

A spark of recognition flashes through his eyes, the flame that she put there is still flickering behind the bright blue. "All hellfire confusin'..." He whispers huskily, groggily.

River smiles contentedly and leans down to gently kiss him, then swings off his lap and helps the sleepy mercenary to his feet, taking him by the hands she leads the groggy stumbling man from the dining room.

Silence hangs over the dinning room heavily as the girl and the mercenary disappear down into his bunk. "What in hell just happened?" Mal finally questions, breaking the silence.

A smile cracks across Wash's face and spreads to Kaylee's, Inara's and Zoe's. "I'm thinking our two hormonal youngsters found each other."

The End