Pairing: River/Jayne, Simon, Mal, Kaylee
Disclaimers: not mine.
A/N: my email is not working properly, so this is unbetaed (for now). Any glaring errors are my own. I tried inserting some of the Chinese swearing, and can only hope I did it properly. bugchicklv, my fabulous beta, was going to help me with them but since I am not receiving emails properly, I attempted them on my own. Translations are at the bottom of the story.
Number 7 in the series - the others can be found here at and are titled: Expert, Slippers, Letter Home, Gifts and In Dreams
BTW, I am a review companion.
It was like Canton all over, 'cept this time was worse. What in the seven hells had the girl been thinking when she threw herself in front of him?
"Trajectories," she mumbled dazedly, "and speed. Skin can't stop bullets."
"I know that, you gorram girl!" Jayne replied angrily. He was busy ripping his shirt into strips so he could wrap them around her side and tie them to her like bandages. There was so much blood. "Why'd you jump in fronta me like that? I coulda taken it!"
"Hearts can't live full of holes," her voice was weaker.
"Girl? Girl? Stay with me here, 'kay? I'm gonna get you back to your brother, and he'll patch you up and everything will be dandy. Okay? Okay? River?"
She wanted a swing, so he built one. Complained about it the whole entire time he hooked it up in the cargo bay, of course, but he did build it.
"Like flying!" she laughed as she whizzed past him, her hair fluttering behind her, "I'm free!"
"Yeah, well, don't fly too high, you xiong can sha-shou, 'cause if you fall off, your brother will kill me. He don't want you broken."
"Already am," she replied, as she whizzed past him again, "Already am!"
There was so much blood. Why was there so much blood? Made her difficult to carry. His chest and arms were slick with it and the tangy copper smell of it was making his eyes water. He could see the ship, just a few hundred yards away, and forced himself to run faster, praying to all the Gods he didn't really believe in that she would be alright.
"I thought you said we had rats?" the Captain scowled at him.
"We do," Jayne replied. "See?" He pointed to a rather large dead rat lying in the middle of the cargo bay. "Looks like Junior's paying his way already."
"You tryin' to tell me that little xi-niu furball caught and killed a rat twice her size?"
Jayne shrugged, "'Pears so."
"So, it wasn't really you I saw buying rats at that last settlement we were at?"
"Why would I do something like that?" Jayne tried to look offended. "Spend my hard-earned coin on some qing-wa cao de rats for a kitten I don't even like?"
Mal shrugged, "You tell me. 'Cause I know, sure as shooting, that little kitten didn't catch that rat on my ship."
"How can you be so sure?" Jayne growled.
"Kittens can't shoot guns," the Captain replied with a smirk.
"Lack of opposable thumb and fingers on the paw," River murmurs quietly as she steps towards the two men, cuddling her kitten against her chest, "besides, Junior is a pacifist."
"I don't know what happened!" Jayne was bellowing at the Captain. "One minute, she was standing beside me, the next she was in fronta me, being shot!"
"And what did you do to make someone want to shoot at you?"
"Besides just being himself?" the Doc sniped angrily. "I knew she wouldn't be safe going into town with you."
"I swear to God, Mal, I din't do nothing. Din't even know we was in trouble until she got hit!"
"How many were there?" Zoe interrupted. "Should we be preparing to leave in a hurry?"
"Only the one guy. It weren't no ambush or nothin'. I don't even know what he wanted – he just started shootin'!"
"Did you get him at least?" the captain asked angrily.
"He ain't got no head left," Jayne growled. "Doc, is she gonna be okay?"
"It went straight through," Simon replied evenly, his voice deadly calm, even as his eyes shot daggers at Jayne, "but she's lost a lot of blood."
"Gorramit! I swear, Doc, I woulda never let her come with me if'n I thought there'd be any problems."
"What I don't understand is how she even got hit," Zoe interjected calmly. "A whole passle of Reavers couldn't take her down. How'd she manage to get shot?"
"I DON'T GORRAM KNOW!" Jayne shouted. "All I know is one minute we're walking around in that market place and she's looking for strawberries for Kaylee, and the next she's gut-shot."
"Why would she step in front of a bullet meant for you?" Simon's voice was like ice as he grabbed an IV tube and a needle, "It's not like you haven't been shot before."
Jayne looked at the doctor brokenly. "I don't know," he murmured. "I just don't know."
His remorse and regret was so obvious, Simon relented a bit. "I need to transfuse her, and you're the only one besides me with a blood match, Jayne, so sit down -" he nodded to a chair besides the med, "and hold out your arm."
"These are for you," Jayne stated gruffly, as he tossed a small parcel at the girl. She and Kaylee were sitting in the cargo bay playing jacks, and he figured now was as good a time as any to get this done. He'd rather Simon and Mal only hear about this after the fact, when it was a done deal and he wouldn't have to worry 'bout them being all suspicious-like immediately.
Kaylee looked at the package sitting beside River and grinned, "What is it?"
"Something my Ma sent in her last parcel," Jayne mumbled as he rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. "I can't use 'em – thought perhaps Crazy might like 'em."
River smiled up at him as she lifted the flap on the box and pulled out several pairs of socks. "Socks, for puppets and cold feet."
"They're pink," Kaylee stated, rather obviously, before looking at Jayne in confusion. "Why'd your ma make you pink socks?"
Jayne shrugged, looking embarrassed. "I mentioned in my last letter home Crazy here didn't like wearing shoes. Guess she decided to see if'n she might like socks better."
"Ain't that sweet?" Kaylee had picked up one of the socks and was rubbing the wool between her fingers. "How'd she know what size to make?"
"Gorramit, girl, what's with the twenty questions?" Jayne replied testily.
River had pulled a pair of socks on and was reaching into the box again, "Ma's very nice, Jayne."
The big man shrugged, "She always was kind to strays. Ain't nothing else in that box girl – just socks."
"And this -" River smiled triumphantly, "also pink! What do you think?"
"A hat!" Kaylee whistled. "A pink hat! Looks kinda like the one your ma made for you, Jayne. Sure is shiny, River."
"Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la-doo-tze", Jayne swore under his breath.
Jayne watched the girl through the windows of the med-bay. The doc had placed a small weave on his arm and kicked him out as soon as the transfusion was done. "She needs to rest," he stated calmly as he checked her side again. The bleeding had stopped, and the hole had been sewed up with the Doc's usual precision, "This is going to leave a scar."
"But she'll be all right, won't she Doc? I mean, she's gonna be fine, right?"
"She should be," Simon had sighed in annoyance, "no thanks to you."
"I don't want to talk to you right now, not until I've had time to think," the younger man cut him off. "Can you just leave, please?"
"I didn't think…"
"That's part of your problem right there," Simon snapped. "You never think. Or, when you do, it's only to think about yourself. I knew I shouldn't have let her go into town with you."
Jayne looked at the Doc, at the angry line of his jaw and the way the muscles in his shoulders were bunched as if he wanted to take a swing at him. He looked at River, lying on the cot so still and pale. Only spot of color he could see was the pink hat, still set on her head, and the bright pink-clad feet stickin' out from under the sheets.
"I'm sorry," the big man finally mumbled. "It won't happen again."
Xiong can sha-shou ass-kicking killer
Qing-wa cao de frog-humping
Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la-doo-tze explosive diarrhea of an elephant