Title: Blood Drops
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Simon, River / Jayne
Disclaimers: not mine, they belong to Whedon, the man who is slowly but surely taking over the universe.
Summary: Simon sees, Simon knows. What does he think?

A/N: Number twelve in The Little Things Series, which can be found here and should be read in the following order: Expert, Slippers, Letter Home, Slippers, Letter Home, Gifts, Rats, In Dreams, Holes, Simon, Bob, Splinters and Salutations

Betaed by bugchicklv, so any mistakes are hers. LOL. Just joking.

It has become something of a habit, Jayne and River sitting at the big table in the evenings, cleaning their weapons. Of course River only has the one gun to clean, but after she's finished she helps Jayne. She always starts with the smallest guns and works her way up, while Jayne always starts with Vera – the largest – and works his way down.

It still makes Simon uncomfortable, seeing the two of them together – not so much because he doesn't like Jayne, because, surprisingly enough, he finds he does like the gruff mercenary. He might be loud and uneducated, but Simon knows he can trust him to look out for members of the crew; and he and River are really members of the crew now. Despite the fact that he and Jayne, and subsequently River, didn't like each other all that much when they first met, Simon knows that has all changed; and, as much as it galls him to admit it, he respects the big man. So, it's not because he doesn't like Jayne that seeing his sister working with him is so disturbing – it's the fact that they seem to fit so well together.

Take right now, for example – their movements are synchronized and they seem to work in tandem as they dismantle, clean and reassemble Jayne's massive arsenal. Jayne hands River a rag before she can even ask him; she slides the gun oil towards him at the exact moment his hand reaches out for it. Oddly enough, Simon could almost swear they were dancing, even though there is no music and they both remain seated on their respective chairs. There is a bone deep understanding between the two of them, and Simon wonders if he is the only one who sees it or if the others see it as well and are just trying to stay out of it.

"I don't know what my Ma is gonna think about that letter you wrote her, Crazy," Jayne grumbles after a little while, "wish you hadn'ta writ it."

"Must thank others for gifts," River responds, "It is proper."

"She's gonna get all kindsa thoughts in her head, ya know. I ain't never gonna hear the end of it."

There is silence for a moment. Simon tries to look like he's not listening to them intently from the sofa, and takes a sip of his tea before looking at the book he's pretending to read.

River slides Jayne one of the whetstones as he puts down the gun he was just working on and picks up a wicked looking knife. "Your Ma only wants you to be happy. Thinks maybe Crazy'll do that."

Simon starts at this, just a little. Is River saying what he thinks she's saying? Jayne looks at her and scowls. "You better not be sayin' what I think you're sayin', Girl. I don't want to die in the vacuum of space."

"Not saying you disagree, though." His little mei-mei looks very pleased with herself and Simon realizes she's correct – Jayne didn't say she couldn't make him happy, only that he doesn't want to die. Interesting.

"Don't go readin' nothin' inta what I ain't sayin', Girl. I'd a thunk it would be obvious I don't need no gorram xiong-meng de kuang-ren in my life." Jayne glances nervously at Simon as he says this. Simon, obligingly, pretends not to notice. "Quit tryin' to get me inta trouble."

"Me thinks he doth protest too much!" River sing-songs happily. She has finished with the little gun she was working on, and reaches out to pick up one of Jayne's other knives. She sighs as she lifts it, before carefully touching her palm to the edge and slicing the skin just a little bit. Simon and Jayne both jump as she does this, Simon reaching his sister just as Jayne knocks the knife from her hand.

"Mei-mei, what…"

But Simon is drowned out by Jayne's bellowing, "What the rutting hell do you think you're doing, Girl? Why'd you cut yourself, huh?"

Even though Jayne is angry, Simon and River can both see the worry on his face as he grabs River's hand and pulls it close to him, inspecting the shallow cut. His thumb smears across the red line of blood. "No more knives!" he hollers.

River reaches out with her free hand as he yells, pressing her palm against his cheek gently, like a caress.

"Wanted to show you," she smiles, "you and Simon."

"Show us what?" Simon is baffled and he can tell be the look Jayne shoots at him that the larger man is just as confused.

"This is Jayne's," she replies. "This blood…my blood. Jayne's. Mine. We're the same." The blood from the cut is already starting to clot. "We look good in red."

Simon still doesn't know what she's talking about, outside the obvious reference to the transfusion he'd had to perform several weeks ago, but Jayne recoils slightly.

"We ain't the same--nowhere near it. Get that outta your head right now."

"We're both weapons," River states dreamily, "only I don't always work properly. Need an expert to fix me."

"Mei-mei, that's not true," Simon interrupts, "You're not a weapon. And you're getting much better than you were before." His sister just ignores him, though. Her palm is still pressed against Jayne's face and the larger man is staring at her intently.

"I ain't no expert on crazy. Leave the fixin' to your brother."

"Can't fix what he doesn't understand," she murmurs back.

Simon feels like his heart is going to beat right out of his chest. 'River,' he thinks, 'what are you saying?'

"Ain't no one understands you, Crazy. That's why you're crazy. Simon'll fix you – he's the doc, after all. He knows what he's doing. Hell, he loves you – he ain't gonna let you stay broke."

Simon's head is spinning, and he wonders briefly what they look like – the three of them, frozen in some weird tableau. He is crouched down by River's side, leaning slightly into her. Jayne is across from him, holding River's bloody hand in one meaty paw, the other gripping the wrist of the hand that is still caressing his cheek bone. River is between them, leaning against her brother but reaching out to Jayne. From the nervous look the larger man is shooting him, it doesn't appear he's too averse to reaching back.

"Is this what you really want, bao-bei," Simon whispers against her ear, "Do you think Jayne can fix you?"

"Yes." Her answer is succinct and to-the-point, the kind of response he hasn't gotten from her since he managed to steal her back from the Academy. He marvels at the clarity in it, even as his heart breaks a bit at the thought that it's Jayne she wants to turn to, and not him.

Jayne is panicking now. Simon can see it in his eyes and the set off his mouth, in the way his fingers tighten almost imperceptible around his sister's wrist, even though he still hasn't pushed her away. "What are ya sayin', Doc? I can't fix her – I ain't no Crazy-girl Doctor."

"She doesn't need a doctor anymore, Jayne," Simon replies. He's surprised his voice is steady. "She needs someone who understands her."

"That ain't me! I don't speak wackonese!" The big man vehemently denies.

"I can fix you too," River inserts, and Jayne's voice fades as he looks at her.

"Whadaya mean? I don't need no fixin'."

The hand caressing Jayne's cheek has drifted down his neck and is now gripping his shoulder. Her other hand – the one she had cut – is pressed up against the large man's chest, stroking the area just over his heart. Simon swears he can hear it thundering frantically from his position behind his sister. He doesn't think Jayne even realizes that he's dropped his hands to grasp River's waist.

River has shifted away from him anyway. She practically in Jayne's lap and despite his protests, Jayne doesn't seem to be minding it so much. Jayne's eyes are bright with emotion, his body tense with strain. Simon steps back, averting his eyes, wondering if anyone will notice if he leaves.

"You trying to kill me with your brain, Crazy?" Jayne finally whispers.

"Wouldn't ever kill you," River whispers back. "You called me River when you thought I was dying."

"Well, you ain't dyin' now, so I aim to call you what I want, Crazy. And you can't fix me."

"I can complete you though," River replies. "I fit."

Simon blinks slowly at this statement, watching as Jayne closes his eyes and pulls back from his sister, gently letting go of her waist and freeing himself of her hands as he stands up. "That's what I'm afraid of," he mutters as he turns his back on her and heads out the door.

Simon, still standing in the room, looks at his sister completely stunned. "What the hell was that? Why'd he leave?"

River sighs and leans forward, running her fingertips lovingly over Vera, before she picks up the knife she had cut herself with to clean it. "He loves me," she replies. "He doesn't want to. Thinks he's not good enough."

"He'd be right," Simon responds softly, "No one's good enough for my mei-mei." He studies her for a moment, and tries to smile. "I suppose you're going to convince him otherwise?"

"Have to," she shrugs, "can't work without him. Do you understand?"

Simon nods, "You love him, too."

"Yes," River agrees. She grins at Simon and suddenly he can see the woman she's becoming and not the little girl she was. Her hand sweeps sideways, indicating the arsenal Jayne has left behind. "He'll come back for us."

xiong-meng de kuang-ren - violent lunatic