Title: Creating a Spark
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: PG-13
Length: Short story (a little over 1000 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Feedback: Concrit adored! If you see something that can be improved upon, please let me know.
Written for: Inspired by LJ Community fffriday's "Virtue and Vice" challenge. Spoilers for Serenity. Don't read if you haven't seen it!
Notes: River wanders around Serenity and picks up some rather interesting thoughts from Jayne.

You know, I don't got no illusions about myself. I'm a bad guy, I'm good at bein' a bad guy, and it's what Mal pays me for anyway. When we get paid. Ten percent of nothin', carry the nothin'...At least I do have my own bunk and free run of the kitchen. When there's food in it.

What was my point? Oh, yeah, I'm a bad guy. Everyone on the boat knows that. Mal 'specially knows that, and he'd shoot me if I so much as looked crossways at any of the girls.

Which don't mean I don't think about them. How can I help it? Zoe, the kick-ass warrior woman; Kaylee, the mechanical genius with a smile big as a world; Inara, all refined and fancified; and River, crazy as a loon and graceful as a swan. All of 'em are gorgeous in completely different ways.

So, sometimes I pretend. I may be poor in pocket, but I can have a rich fantasy life.


River wanders around Serenity, unable to sleep. The others are keeping her awake again. Not that they mean to, and their thoughts are quieter than they had been before Miranda, but they whisper to her.

Zoe, still the steely Amazon on the outside, leaking tears onto the pillow she'd shared with Wash in the privacy of her bunk--and silent. Just lying there on her back, eyes wide open and staring at nothing while the grief she keepslocked in an iron cageeats her alive inside like a big ugly rat. Tore up plenty, but flying true...but she won't be able to sustain it for long. River wonders what will happen when Zoe finally loses control.

Simon and Kaylee, sharing a bunk now. Warm and fuzzy, cocooned in each other. Kaylee was always happy, and now Simon has the chance to be, too, since he doesn't have to worry about River anymore. Oh, all her demons aren't purged yet, not by a long way, but she doesn't need constant care anymore. It's as much a relief to her as it is to him.

Mal and Inara, not sharing a bunk, but sharing thoughts. Just a matter of time until things progress with them into either something wonderful--or something that will destroy them. Their minds are in less turmoil now when they think of one another, more happy, less angry, not as confused.

Her steps have taken her to the corridor opposite Jayne's bunk, and she stops suddenly as if someone has put an arm out in front of her. He's...

She frowns a little and cocks her head to one side. Oh...he probably wouldn't want her to--but then he calls her name, so maybe he does?

No, he's not calling her name because he wants her to come down; he's unaware of her presence outside his door. He's calling her name because...



Her knees buckle a little, and she puts her hand on the wall for support. She hadn't known he'd regarded her that way. Her head comes up. They need to talk.


"What the--?" Startled and a little embarrassed. Bare feet, mighty shapely legs, billowy dress...oh, it's her. He scrambles to cover himself. "I thought I locked that door."

"You did," River says, finishing her descent and sitting on the bed beside him. She's not bothered by his nudity, but he is. He has an odd sense of propriety, which she finds amusing under the circumstances.

"Well, girl, you know it's considered pretty rude to just barge into someone's room without permission."

"Couldn't sleep. Others' minds scratching in my head, gnawing like porcupines." She gives him a sideways look.

"Hey!" He flinches backwards. "Them thoughts is private!"

"You should know there's no privacy on a ship this small. Secrets not secret for long." She sighs. "No one has secrets from me. It makes me tired."

Oughta smack myself. Dumbass, she's psychic. Of course she knows when you're thinkin' those kinda things about her. Wou de ma, if Mal and Simon ever find out, Mal'd hold me down while Simon cut off my nethers with a dull, rusty scalpel and no anesthetic...

"I won't tell them," she says, and he flinches again.

"Don't do that! It's downright creepifyin' when you reply to stuff I ain't even said."

She gives him her You're-such-an-idiot look. "I can't help it if you have such loud thoughts. Read you like a book, Jayne Cobb." It's not as if she likes reading his mind. It's just there.

"Oh, that ain't the least bit disturbin'." He glares.

"'Crazy as a loon, graceful as a swan.' Contradictions. You shouldn't have such feelings about me," she says, crossing her arms.

Like I can help it. Mental image of the blast door opening, revealing River standing there amidst a pile of Reaver bodies, blood dripping from her blade--he gets a low-down tickle just remembering it. Just as in Zoe's case, the fact that she can kick his ass is a turn-on. And, gorramit, I need to stop thinking these things before she does kick my ass. Mal would want an explanation for something like that... And here came visions of dull, rusty scalpels again. This girl has a way of foggin' me up...

"Mal said that once about Inara." River's so small; it seems amazing to her that she can have this effect on a man so large. The thought A Bear of Very Little Brain comes unbidden to her mind, but that's not fair to him. He's ignorant, true, but he's not stupid in the low-IQ way. She wonders if he can be taught--or if he even wants to be. The idea is intriguing. "Do I spin you about, Jayne?"

"Like a ruttin' merry-go-round," he acknowledges readily. "Get a couple of years on ya and a bit less crazy, you'll be breakin' hearts left and right." Maybe even mine, he doesn't say, and where the hell did that come from? Merry-go-round? More like a roller coaster. He wants to bang his head on the wall. She sympathizes; she feels the same way, lots of times.

She rises to her feet and places her hand on his cheek, briefly. "You're more complex than you seem, aren't you? I won't tell," she repeats.


Then her legs disappear up my ladder. I blink a couple of times and lay myself down. So, she don't have no problems with me thinkin' about her that way? Huh.

Maybe in a couple of years, I'll do more than think.

And I hear her voice in my head, clear as a bell: I'll wait.

I fall asleep with a smile on my face.

The End