Title: Butterfly
Author: Michmak

Characters: Mal, Inara, Kaylee, Simon, River / Jayne
Disclaimers: not mine, they belong to Whedon, the man who is slowly but surely taking over the universe.

Summary: "He looks like a bear lumbering around out there. How are people supposed to be scared of a man dances that badly?"

A/N: Fourteen in The Little Things Series,following Pasdes Deux.

Betaed by bugchicklv, who is awesome and knows how to kill comma's dead. LOL.


Butterfly

"Huh, will you look at that?"

Inara knows what Mal is looking at, so she doesn't need to follow the direction of his gaze.

She smirks when he frowns into the glass of beer he's holding, before he squints back to the pair currently spinning around on the dance floor. "I ain't had too much to drink, have I?"

"No, Mal," Inara sighs with long-suffering patience, "That really is Jayne dancing with River."

They both watch the couple for a moment. Inara notes the way the big mercenary concentrates on his feet, careful not to step on River's toes. River is so graceful it's almost like she's trying to float away from him, but his grasp is firm and anchoring.

"There's something wrong with that picture," Mal mutters finally, breaking the silence. Inara can't help but grin at him in affection, nudging his calf with her foot.

"And why is that, may I ask? Isn't Jayne allowed to dance?"

"He looks like a bear lumbering around out there. How are people supposed to be scared of a man dances that badly?"

"Mal…."

"Wonder what the Doc'll say when he sees them? Bet he won't be too pleased."

"I think you'll be surprised," Inara retorts. She leans into Mal and points out Simon and Kaylee to him. The younger couple is back at the table next to theirs, and although the Doc is watching River, he doesn't appear too concerned.

"Wo de ma! Why ain't he puttin' a stop to that?"

"They're just dancing, Mal," Inara laughs. "Besides, he's a good brother – he wants River to be happy."

She watches as her captain looks back at River, notes the way his eyes widen slightly when he sees the way she's leaning backwards over Jayne's arms as he spins her around, laughing.

"He ain't so tough, is he?" Mal finally says.

"I don't believe he is," Inara replies.

-0-0-0-

"They look so cute together!' Kaylee gushes as she leans into Simon and plants a kiss on his cheek. "Look at them!"

"I wouldn't say cute," Simon responds. He doesn't smile when he says it and Kaylee sighs.

"Oh, Simon, I thought you were okay with this?"

"Well, uhm…no. I mean, not really. I just don't see what they have in common, and Jayne is – well – he's Jayne. How do I know he won't just use her or something?"

"If'n he was gonna do that, he woulda done her already. He's not too picky about who or where he get's sexed up."

"Kaylee!" Simon is staring at her in shock, which sends her into a fit of giggles.

"Honestly, Simon, you should know by now that things is different out here in the Black. Ain't nothin' wrong with a little intimacy. I thought you were loosening up some."

"I am, but…he, they…" Simon sputters. "That's my little sister you're talking about. She's too young - "

"Eighteen last month," Kaylee interjects.

Simon pretends to ignore her, "And she's not exactly sane."

"Sane enough to go after what she wants."

"You think Jayne is the sane choice?"

"Who else is she gonna choose on that ship? The Captain and 'Nara are practically a couple, or will be if'n they just give in and do it already, you're her brother, Zoe is still grieving Wash and I'm happily taken. That only leaves Jayne. 'Course there's boy whores when we's on world."

"I didn't loss my virginity until I was almost twenty-one," Simon protests.

"You were a late-bloomer," Kaylee responds. "I was fifteen. Besides, you know yourself that with everything the Alliance done to her, she ain't been innocent for a long time."

Simon blanches, "Oh my God, you think they…I never even thought…never even asked her and…"

Kaylee reaches out a calming hand, her face contrite, "No, that's not what I meant, bao-bei, not at all. I just meant they hurt her and tried to program her to be somethin' other than what she was. She ain't a little girl no more. Besides, she likes Jayne, you can see it when they're together. And he likes her too."

"You don't think it's just an Electra complex…uh…Daddy issues?" Simon clarifies when Kaylee looks at him in confusion. "I mean, Jayne is old enough to be her father."

"Daddy issues?" Kaylee hoots at him, "Daddy issues? Oh Simon, did your Daddy ever- once act like Jayne? Talk like him at all…shoot a gun?"

"Well, no…"

"There ya go then. Daddy issues!" She's still giggling as she slides into his lap and kisses him.

-0-0-0-

He feels like an ox lumberin' around in her wake. There are too many other people on the floor pushin' and spinnin' and twirlin' on by. It's like being in the middle of a kaleidoscope. He don't belong, but he's tryin' to fit in to make Crazy happy.

One 'a her arms is wrapped slightly 'round his waist, the other is holding his hand in some weird position. She's trying to teach him how to waltz, but it ain't workin'.

"Trying too hard," she smiles at him, "just relax."

"Easy for you to say," he growls back, "you know what you're doing." They're silent for a few moments as Jayne counts out the beat and watches his feet. "How'd you ever learn to do this, Girl," he grunts between measures, "it's too damn complicated."

"Feel the music," she laughs back. "Feel the girl in your arms and just move. No thinking, just dancing."

"Ain't no one ever accused me of thinkin' too much," the big man replies, "I'll try to stop."

River shifts closer to him as he talks. He can feel the occasional brush of one of her legs against his own. The hand wrapped around her waist spans her back, his palm resting firmly at the base of her spin. Her hair slides against the back of it as they move, softer than silk. He swears he can feel each individual strand as it brushes against the skin of his wrist and the lower half of his arm. He pulls her a little closer as other, more practiced partners, dance on by.

She reminds him of a butterfly, sometimes. He's only ever heard of butterflies 'afore – never really seen one live – but in a picture his Ma showed him once they'd been colorful and fragile looking. Ethereal is the word she'd used when she described them. He didn't rightly know what it meant, but he knew that if butterflies was ethereal than this little girl dancin' in his arms was too.

"She was in a cocoon," the girl sways into him, sighing. "Didn't know what was going to happen to her when she broke free. Scared. Thought her wings had been torn and that someone had taken away all the flowers. Didn't want to emerge to see if it was true."

"No one'll ever hurt ya again," he whispers.

"Always wanted to fly, but never knew how. Thought a big wind would come along and blow her away. Hard to fly when your wings are broken. She needed an anchor to keep her tied here, to keep her safe."

"I'll always protect ya, Crazy," he murmurs against her hair as his arms pull her even closer to him, "Won't let nothing bad happen to ya, ever again, I swear it."

"She's flying," River mumbles against his chest. "The world is so beautiful and shiny."

"It sure is, little butterfly," Jayne agrees. "It sure is."


A/N Redux: The whole time I wrote this I was listening to a Jimmy Rankin song called Midnight Angel – seriously – just played it over and over. I was listening to Midnight Angel and thinking of Butterflies. And that's when I realized Jimmy Rankin has a song called Butterfly which totally fits this pairing. SOOOOO, I don't know if my subconscious was telling me something or what, but now I can't get Butterfly out of my head.

It goes like this:

Saw you last night
Butterfly in full flight
The moon and stars delight to shine upon you still
Took a look around
Butterfly's old stompin' grounds
Barely made a sound
Left no stone unturned
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Sure hope the road and all her wicked friends never turn you in
You sang a sweet song
Butterfly we all sang along
You really turn it on
An old familiar melody
You were the one that flew
Butterfly almost had me too
Can't help but think of you
But that was yesterday
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Sure hope the road and all her wicked friends never turn you in
Saw you last night
Butterfly in full flight
The moon and stars delight to shine upon you still
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Fly butterfly on the wings of wind
Sure hope the road and all her wicked friends never turn you in
Sure hope the road and all her wicked friends never turn you in