Title: Gifts from Ma
Author: Michmak
Characters: River, Jayne, Mal
Pairing: River / Jayne
Disclaimers: not mine - Although, in a perfect world they would be.

Summary: Ain't no respectable woman who'll put up with her man starting bar brawls and whoring around. You're so much like your father was 'afore I settled him down it ain't even funny.

A/N: Number Nineteen in The Little Things series. /shakes head in disbelief/

For those of you wondering why I didn't post these all together, the answer is simple – I didn't know I was going to do this. It wasn't until I'd written the third of the forth story that I actually realized I had an ongoing thing happening. Prior to that, I had just thought I'd written a couple of little stories that fit together. And now, I'm too lazy to go and delete everything and add it in order to the first story. Sorry!

Anyway, this is the order they go in: Expert , Slippers , Letter Home , Gifts , Rats , In Dreams , Holes , Simon , Bob , Splinters , Salutations, Blood Drops , Pas des Deux , Butterfly , Scar Tissue , Wild Things , Soon , Intimacies They are all posted here, and can also be found with links at rayne(underscore)shippers at Livejournal(dot)com.

This has been betaed by bugchicklv which means a couple of things. One – she's made it much shinier than it was before she fixed it all up and Two – seems like my email might be working again. It only cost $100 frigging in anti-virus upgrades and spyware removers. Today, I get to catch up and read all the stories y'all have been posting here, so I'm very excited.

Gifts from Ma

He sees the package sitting' on his bed when they get back from the job. The cargo drop had been a typical one for them – he is covered in the dirt and grit and blood to prove it – but for once it ain't his or the Cap'n's. They had even managed to get paid in full, despite the shootin'. All in all it had been a purt'good day so far. Until he'd come back to his bunk and seen the package, the only thing he'd been plannin' on doing was havin' a shower and then goin' to find River. He needed to make sure her little excursion on world with Inara and Kaylee hadn't ended in bloodshed or death. Obviously the girls had picked up some mail when they was out.

Grinnin' to himself he picks up the small box and shakes it, wonderin' what his Ma had sent him this time. Grabbing one 'a his smaller knives, he carefully slits the tape and opens it, reachin' in and pullin' out the letter first.

"My dear boy," Jayne reads out loud, "It was wonderful to hear from you again so soon, even though you only added little bits at the end of the letter from your friend River. I could tell by reading her letter that she was raised proper. Ain't hardly no one writes thank you notes nowadays. It did my heart good to learn the type 'a people you are keeping company with.

I am glad she liked her socks and hat.

I was a mite concerned when she said you gave her a gun, though. Don't you know that ain't no way to go showing your feelings, son? Not everyone likes roughing about and fighting as much as you do. Besides, why does she need a gun at all?

Your Father thought it was terrible funny when I tol' him you name all your guns after women you sleep with. Myself, I didn't think it was all that hi-larious. What for would you tell a sweet little girl like your River 'bout all your other women? I raised you to be better than that. Now, I know you're an adult and you got manly urges, but if'n this River means as much to you as I think she does, you're gonna have to curb them wild ways 'a yours. Ain't no respectable woman who'll put up with her man starting bar brawls and whoring around. You're so much like your father was 'afore I settled him down it ain't even funny.

I wanna remind you that I ain't getting any younger and neither is your Father. The both of us would like to see our sons married with babies 'afore we pass on over. So, if'n this little River-girl is the one make sure to treat her how you was raised to treat woman-folk. Use those manners I know you got!

I enjoyed the picture she drew of the two of you. She's a right tiny little thing, ain't she? Sorta fragile and young looking. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at that, considering how much you liked dainty things when you was a boy. Remember that time Grandma Cobb showed you the ballet dancer she had? The one that was made outta find white China? Your Grand-pappy swore it had been in his family since his ancestors had left Earth-that-was? You remember?

You loved that little dancer. Grandma let you hold her, even though your Father and I was afeared you'd snap her in half. You didn't though – you just cradled her gently for a few seconds before giving her back. For ages afterwards, every time we went to visit, you insisted on seeing that figurine. Well, old Grandma Cobb is long past now and you was just a little boy – maybe you don't remember. But I do. You know how to be gentle, when there's a need for it.

I'm sending you something for you to give to your girl, when you're ready. It's the ring your Father made for me when we first met, long 'afore we got married – the one made of gold and copper electrical wire and the little pieces of beach glass. It ain't fitted me in ages, but I been keeping it for you to have. Honestly, I was starting to lose hope that you'd ever find someone to give it to, truth be told.

Remember how I promised when you was little that some day you'd grow into a great, big man and you'd find yourself a girl to love? I told you then I'd give you this here ring to bind her and I aim to keep my word. You might need to replace one or two of the beads, if'n you can find any beach glass anywhere. The blue one is cracked some, and there's a chip outta the purple but I don't s'pose any one else'll notice. I sent a chain with it too – I been wearing it around my neck since it stopped fitting. Maybe it ain't good enough for no doctor's sister. You decide what you wanna do with it. If'n you don't want to give it to her, wear it around your neck and know that I will always love you.

Love your Mother"

Jayne finishes reading and looks at the little box again, before reachin' in and pullin' out a small leather pouch. When he opens it, the ring tumbles out inta his hand. It is the same as he had remembered it, just a little more tarnished than the last time he saw it. He remembers how it used to sit on his Ma's fingers, before they got all knuckly from her arthritis, and how she used to twist it absently when she was talkin' to his Pa. As a boy he used to love how the little pieces of glass beading would catch the thin sunlight coming through their windows.

The chain it was hanging on was nickel-plated and green around the links in some places – too cheap lookin' for the fine ring his Pa'd made. Unclipping it, he drops the chain on the little table beside his bunk and slides the ring to the first knuckle on his pinky finger. Standin', he crosses his room to the dresser sittin' in the corner and opens up the first drawer, pulling out a small brown envelope he'd stuck in there. Inside the envelope is a dainty gold link chain.

He'd bought it a few months ago, long 'afore he'd ever given River Bob or Junior. He'd seen it hanging in some vendors stall and the way it'd flashed had caught his eye. At the time he didn't know why he'd spent the last of his money on some dainty little necklace that wouldn't even fit around his neck – not that he'd ever wear a necklace, mind. Still, though – he'd bought it even as he told hi'self not to, brought it back to the ship and put it away in his drawer.

Sliding the ring off his little finger and onta the chain, Jayne realizes he'd thought of River when he'd purchased it – had pictured the delicate necklace around her throat long 'afore he'd ever had the right to think like that. Now, with his Ma's ring hangin' off it, it's even shinier. Puttin' the ring and chain back inta the leather pouch he sets it on the table, then grabs a towel and heads for the showers. He'll find his girl once he's cleaned up some.


He ain't expectin' the sight that greets him when he wanders inta the kitchen a little while later. His hair is still damp and his t-shirts stickin' to him in places he hadn't fully dried off 'afore he got dressed. The little leather pouch is in the pocket 'a his pants.

River is sittin' at the table, with Kaylee and Inara on either side of her. Simon, Zoë and the Captain are standin' behind her and they're all grinning at whatever it is she's holding in her hands.

A weird sense of dread fills Jayne when Mal looks up at him, his smile wide and toothy.

"Mind telling me why your Ma is sending naked baby pictures to River, by way of me?"

River lifts up a picture, flipping it over so Jayne can see it. "She likes best the one of you in the hat and nothing else."

"Ta ma de!" Jayne growls loudly. Everybody else just laughs.

Ta ma de – fuck me blind