The next thing Simon knew was a vague feeling of floating. This went on for a while, from what he remembered – but for how long, he was later unable to recollect.

Just as he was later unable to remember how exactly he came to find himself in an atmosphered airlock, fully spacesuited, looking at the boots of the merc he knew he both distrusted and hated.

But find himself thus he did. In an airlock, he soon discovered, that was one of the many carried by the Alliance HQ.

At the moment of waking however, Simon was both disorientated and wary. Blinking quickly, he groggily raised his eyes to look more closely at his companion. Jayne was standing, already half out of his suit, his eyes peeringkeenly through the internal airlock door.

His hands were quickly unwrapping Vera from the rucksack that he carried. Checking her. Loading. Looking for men to shoot.

It soon dawned on Simon where they were. They were in. Somehow, they had made it into the station. "What the hell…" murmured the Doctor, his voice barely audible through his suit's helmet visor, "happened…?"

Jayne's eyes flitted from the door window to Simon, to Vera, and then back. " I tell y'what happened, you ruttin' dumbass," he growled, a hint of amusement in his voice, " I saved y'gorram sorry-ass life. How's that for smarts?"

At which point Simon soon regained his composure, pulled off his helmet, and raised himself to his feet. All the time asking the merc how they had managed to escape, what the hell

"S'easy," the big man finally retorted, as he packed his suit tightly into the bag from which he had previously hidden his gun, "No easier way to get a man offa your back than make out he killed y'already. I knew they'd gorram blast us once they saw who we were on the monitor. Afterall -who needs the brother and some other sommbitch when they've got the main prize already? That is, the..girl. So I figured, let 'em blast us, think us dead, while we make with the escapin' - jus' before the artillery hits home."

Simon stood for a moment, uncomprehending. But slowly, as the realisation of what had just happened infiltrated his mind, his jaw dropped. Slowly, a dull rage moved into his eyes.

"You mean – your whole plan – was based on – a hunch?" he spat. "The whole 'breaking and entering' – on a guess they wouldn't capture us, but rather kill us?"

Jayne looked at the airlock window one last time, before once again flitting his eyes toward the younger man. There was a look of defiance in his eyes as he replied: "Pretty much. Problem?"

He reached into his jacket pocket again to nonchalantly pull out another cigar."I mean, afterall, we are on the gorram station ain't we?We just jumped offa the shuttle and floated away to the nearest airlock hatch. And so far, no gorram purplebelly's come lookin'." Jayne smiled. His mind was already searching for the girl. "I'd say we pulled it off."

Simon could hardly believe it. He'd put his faith in this man to survive, to get them on board. But not with such a risk. Such disregard for what could have so easily happened. Them, being boarded, taken prisoner – killed. Where would that have left River?

"How could you be so – stupid?" he barked, unable to rein back his true feelings. And then – perhaps due to the relief, or the tension - Simon vocalised the question he had for so long decided to avoid.

"Why the hell are you here anyway? Why do you want to help my sister at all?"

Almost instantly, Jayne's eyes levelled themselves directly at the Doctor.

"Whaadya mean?" he asked, threateningly. But despite himself, there was a hint of something else in his voice. Something that Simon – at least subconsciously – now recognised.


"No, Jayne - I'm asking the questions." The younger man was also now stripping off his suit, as he also searched for the pistol that he had previously pushed into the back of his pants. His mind knew that they needed to move, get started. But his heart was still recovering from the shock of what had just happened. It needed answers, answers he realised he had been reticent to ask before, for fear of what the merc may have done.

Now - at that moment - he didn't care.

"Why are you here anyway?" spat Simon. "It's not as if you give a damn what happens to either of us anyway. It was fair enough when you helped me get this far, to get her back. But that last stunt – that wasn't the act of a man helping. That was the act of a man desperate. Or stupid. What's it all for?"

Jayne looked down at his feet. He had been all ready to start up, out of the airlock, start firing. Not talking. So he was totally caught off guard by the Doctor's sudden, emotional attack. There was enough already to deal with. This was a conversation he didn't want at the best of times, let alone now.

In any normal circumstance, he would have simply laughed. Perhaps allowed himself to strike the younger man. But somehow, the Doctor's words had struck a chord within him, touched on an emerging vulnerability yet explored. A chord which now made him feel as if he needed to offer an explanation.

"Well, maybe I felt bad, y'know, 'bout Ariel," he murmured, lamely. "Maybe I felt like helpin'."

As he said it however, he knew it didn't ring true. He tried again.

"I mean, I gotta idea what the girl copes with…."

Simon's eyes widened. "You think you have an idea of what she copes with?" His voice was incredulous. "Do you realise, that without me, she has no one? And without her – I have no one either? We're both – alone."

Jayne shifted uncomfortably in his boots. "Look, not that we got time for this ruttin' gosa, but you do got them fancy parents o' yours..."

"Those 'fancy parents' to whom you allude - gave up on me the day I decided to come for River. No doubt they're still under the illusion she's still studying at the Academy. Imagining the real use of the word – not the 'studying' that involves cutting into her brain over and over again, until she.."

"Okay, Doc, get the picture." The merc shook his head angrily. He knew well enough what she had been though. It just wasn't his style to dwell on it. I mean, she had seemed happy enough - when she had been screwing him. He lived for the moment, afterall.

"Do you, though Jayne? Do you? You say to me now you're sorry, but are you really - for what you tried to do?"

The younger man took a step forward. "You tried to hand her over. Despite the fact you saw as clearly as I did what they did do her.What sort of man would want to hand us back."

Again, Jayne felt another surge of anger. He had acted wrongly, then, he knew. But only because he hadn't realised until then what a cat she was. How gorram gorgeously her legs fitted around his waist.

"Well, hell, that was before I got to know her some…"

Again, Simon looked incredulous. "But you've barely spoken to her. Which is why I still can't figure out why you're here at all. You don't do things for people. Especially not those who don't pay you or you don't know."

The mercenary knew that already he should have stopped talking. Afterall, it wasn't for this man to know why he was here. But somehow, the fact that this man was questioning him - his actions, his intentions - was irritating him. Worse, he was talking about something he knew nothing about. Treating him like gosa, when the fact was that his sister had been coming to him for weeks to get her thrills.

So he growled menacingly as he replied: "I speak to her some! Just not with the words. With the eyes."

He had meant to unsettle Simon, to somehow hint that perhaps he did not know his sister as well as he thought. But the tone at which he had actually said the words had come out wrong. Rather than sounding sly, he had sounded defensive. Partly because, as he said it, he realised how true that had been, back on the ship.

He missed her body, yes. But he also did miss those big dark eyes.

Simon failed to hear the glaring admittal in Jayne's words however. Instead, he snapped: "Really. What on earth would she say to someone like you. Besides – A is for apple…B is for.."

"Careful." Jayne also now stepped up toward the younger man, his hand gripped tightly around his gun."You don't know everything she does. She's said stuff to me."

Jayne thought of the time he had last slept with her, in his bunk. How she had pushed her hands across his naked chest, her fingers gripping the hair as she had come. But then afterwards, how she had smiled. Her face like a bright light in hisdark, empty room.

His voice lowered as he murmured: "She looks me in the eyes. You don't know nuthin'."

And then, almost meekly: "Now let's just stop this gorram waste o' time and get goin'."

Simon meanwhile, hesitated. He was beginning to regain his composure. And because of this, finally he had noted the tone of voice that had begun to creep into Jayne's words. And it had begun to register that something, somehow, was amiss. Jayne's strange selfless actions. His foolhardy plan to get into the space station. And now, some kind of attempt to argue that he had a connection with a woman Simon knew was many, many times his intellectual superior.

This is strange, he thought. Jayne is fighting me, but not. It's almost as if - he trying to tell me...

Slowly, realisation dawned across his face. His jaw dropped.

"Have you got some kind of crush on her?" he asked, letting out a small, slightly hysterical, laugh."Is this what this is all about?"

Now it was Jayne's turn for his eyes to widen."No. Gorram it. I don't get gorram crushes," But as he said it, he knew then and there that somehow, somewhere, a sort of truth had just been spoken. The realisation unsettled him - and Jayne hated being unsettled. His eyes darkened.

Angrily, he barked: "I kill people."

"I know you do," Simon laughed. "But you still do have a crush on her. I can see it now. It's so obvious, if sickening. This isn't about money. Because it's about your sad and pathetic attempt to get something nice and clean - to care for a filthy dog like you."

Jayne's head started to whirr. Up until this point, everything had been so clear. He was going to come on board, find her, escape - so he could fuck her again. But now, although he couldn't deny the strong physical urge he had for her - he knew also in his heart that there was another driver also at play.Something else was driving him to find her, something unfamiliar.Something he did not want to think about.

So he growled: "Shut UP."

But Simon was on a roll. He sensed he had hit on a vulnerability."Do you think this will impress her? Because when we come though that door there's only going to be one of us who she runs for, Jayne. Me."

Again, the merc growled: "So what?" But his eyes spoke a different story.

"Yes, go on, Convince yourself. But you know it's true. It's why you hated that fact Kaylee likes me. Because you know, no woman in their right mind would ever come for you. Not unless," Simon added, "You paid them."

Finally, it was too much. Jayne had heard enough.

"I fucked her," he muttered.


"I've been fucking your sister for weeks. And she's ruttin' loved it."