Title: Precious Lives (prequel to "Daddy's Girl)
Author: bugchicklv Etc.: Guess I forgot to do this on the past, what? dozen or so fics I have posted. Oh well, we all know that these characters are not mine, cause if they were...Rayne would be CANON! Sooooo this is dedicated to Debby. Also, thanks to Crazywriterchic. Her recent story provided the inspiration on Jayne's gift. I know she was inspired by Lokaia, and I have mentioned his handiwork in the other RayneBabyFics, so at least there is SOME continuity. This does not necessarily take place in the same 'verse as "The Casino Job" or its predecessors. Warnings for Violence and one curse word. Oh so very fluffy...

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Luckily it was the last job planned after they had finally fenced The Lassiter (some two years after it was stolen), because none of them had made it out of this skirmish unscathed. They were going to need a long break.

On a barren and deserted moon, Lu Khang and his bunch had, somehow, gotten the jump on them. While Mal, Zoe, Book and Jayne were fighting off one group of six at the drop-point, another ambushed the ship.

Surprisingly, Inara had proven to be an excellent shot, putting a bullet in one of the hoodlum's heads from the catwalk as he stood holding a roughed up Wash, River, Simon and Kaylee at gunpoint on the cargo bay floor. The five other thugs had rushed back in from where they'd been searching Serenity (and readying her for stealing)
once they heard the shot reverberate.

But it had provided the rag-tag crew with just enough time to get to the weapons waiting in hidden spots, as Jayne was fond of doing in recent months.

"Just in case," or "better safe than sorry," he'd said.

And he'd been right.

The ensuing fight was almost as bloody as the one going on outside; but at any rate, none of the thieves remained alive to tell the tale of their stupidity. No one screwed with Serenity's crew without a fight.

Now, a wavering Simon--his left hand broken, and bleeding from another gunshot wound to his leg--worked with Zoe--who had 4 broken ribs and a hideous knife wound to her own thigh--to pull the three bullets out of Mal and sew up his deep head and arm lacerations. Once he was barely stable, they moved on to take the two bullets out of Book, the next badly injured.

Kaylee, her nose broken and face bleeding, did her best to help River, whose right shoulder was dislocated, to remove the bullet from Wash's chest; to tend to Inara's broken ankle and sprained wrist; and to relieve Simon when he finally collapsed while sewing Zoe's wound.

River eventually retrieved the bullet fragments from her brother, but it was slow-going with out the use of her dominant hand, and without Kaylee--who just couldn't keep it together any longer. No one begrudged the usually happy mechanic her weakness; she had done her best.

Inara then helped River reset Kaylee's nose.

An exhausted River moved on to see to Jayne, her secret husband of the past three months. He looked about ready to faint from blood loss.

When they had first come stumbling back, him carrying Mal and helping Zoe to drag Book, River saw that he had been shot in the side again, and that a bullet had cut a furrow through his scalp.

On this day, they had both been very lucky. After she staunched his bleeding with a multiple compresses and flitted back to his side, Jayne had squeezed her hand and told her to go help the others first, to stay with them. Right now, they needed her more.

Well, now she needed him.

She walked him out to the common area on unsteady, weak legs and sat him down on the sofa.

"Ai ren? I need you to help me. Pragmatic muscle--no one else is can, or is strong enough. You need help me reset my wing."

"Baby Girl, I just...I can't."

"You can," she told him. "I believe in you. I trust you, bao bei. I need you, please," she begged him, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. "It hurts so badly."

She sounded so normal on occasion, that he only nodded in miserable understanding. He used the last of his strength to put his foot in her arm-pit, pull on her arm, and twist it--popping it back into place. River screamed in agony and Jayne was VERY glad to be passing out at that point. He didn't think his heart could bear to hear that ever again. Too often would eat at his soul.

River didn't bother trying to move him. With tears of pain, and tears of concern for him and the others, she sewed and bandaged his wounds as best she could. And then she fervently hoped that no one needed blood. They just didn't have it, and she could only pilot the ship so far (without Wash's or the Captain's help) in order to find some. She wasn't sure what, if anything, Inara could do with her shuttle as support--they WERE pretty far out.

As Mal, who was connected to (a slowly becoming unneccessary form of) life support, and Book recuperated in the infirmary--and as the others rested in their rooms--River fell asleep sitting on the floor of the common room with her head on Jayne's lap...as he lay passed out on the couch. She needed his strength to for the coming days, and would get it by Osmosis if necessary. Once, a few hours later, he awoke just long enough to wrap his left hand in her hair and to take her left hand in his right one. Softly, so as not to wake her, he brought it to his mouth for a kiss. "My quan xin quan yi," he whispered. "Wo ai ni.

With a grimace, he noticed that the string she had been wearing as the symbol of their troth was drenched in blood.

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Two days later, her right arm still hanging in a home-made sling, River dropped into his bunk to check on him.

"Dr. Tam v 2.0, at your service. Khang fu is next on rounds. Captain Daddy took air on his own yesterday. He likes breathing. Pretty Lady won't leave his side."

Jayne let loose a very small laugh and said, "I bet your brother is going ape-shit over you doin' his job."

"He'll get over it. Kaylee wears white well, follows instructions; gives fearful pair lots of time together," she told him with a wry smile.

He tried to smile in return, but he was not all that happy.

"Shouldn't have let all that happen," he muttered, disappointed in himself. "Coulda had a better plan, and contingencies. Then we wouldn't'a gotten all shot up.

"Coulda, shoulda, woulda," River told him. "No, Jayne; no recriminations. What's done is done and all's well if'n we're still flying. A little more'n a worse for wear, yes, but alive and shiny."

On occasion, when she wasn't aware of it, she had even begun to sound a bit like him.

Jayne called her over and she sat next to him on the bed they'd shared on numerous occasions in the recent past, with none the wiser. He unknotted the string she had tried to scrub somewhat clean, and slipped on a small, polished, wooden band that he had whittled for her.

"Someone's going to notice that," she said with a smile as tears formed in her eyes.

"Let 'em," he growled and kissed her hungrily, like a man starving for redemption, for forgiveness. For Love.

They were quick to undress, unheeding of their wounds and pain, and they made love frantically. He ripped out most of his stitches in the exertion; she almost passed out from the pain in her shoulder...but they would let nothing stand between them and their need for each other in their

Later, River lay sprawled atop Jayne, her head on his shoulder and hair spread over him like a blanket. Lazily, he twirled a lock of her hair around one of his fingers and she ran her own hand through the springy curls on his chest.

Slowly, she lifted her head, tears once again forming, and she smiled at him enigmatically.

At his questioning look she kissed him softly and whispered to him, breathlessly in awe, "We just made a baby."

Jayne pulled her closer, tighter to him and whispered back with a grunt, "Good."

'Cause, like Zoe, he wasn't so afraid of losing something that he wasn't going to try to have it.

Exactly what he decided on the day he'd asked her to marry him.

Then, Jayne Cobb slept a sound and peaceful sleep, and dreamt of a beautiful, miniature version of his wife.

And River noticed that her ring had been inscribed with her name: River T. Cobb.

She smiled, and knew she was finally home.