"What do you mean, mei-mei?" Simon looked confused as he tried to process what his sister had just said.
River tilted her head and gave him that "You're such an idiot!" look. "I meant exactly what I said. Jayne is feeling orphaned. We are his family and we need to treat him as such. All you ever do is sew him up, make fun of him, and frown at him."
Mal and Inara looked at each other, their conversation taking place with an eyebrow quirk, a widening of the eyes, and the barest tilt of a smile.
"I think what the girls sayin', Doc," Mal said, turning to look at Simon, "Is that our gun hand is starting to feel left out. She's sayin' that we need to include him in some of our less businesslike endeavors."
Simon looked from Kaylee to Mal, then to River. "Do I have to?"
River rolled her eyes and asked Mal, "Are you sure he's the oldest?"
Zoë, maintaining her usual outward calm, just looked over River with slightly narrowed eyes before saying, "It's doable, just don't go getting him a puppy."
Since that gorramn bounty hunter had invaded their ship and they'd all gone through the "Oh my god, River's psychic?" thing, Jayne had been pretty careful to keep his thoughts to himself. After the reavers, he'd had to make a concentrated effort to actually block what he was thinking. One day when he'd been thinkin' on what a good guy Wash had been and how he actually missed the smart ass comments, he recalled how Zoë's man had gotten them up close and personal with Niska's sky-plex.
That was the point he started practicing on the whole "Piping out com static" thing, only with his mind, and it seemed to be working. There had been a few times he'd felt the itch of her eyes on him and something else, sort of a little vibration in his neck that told him something might be goin' on. He'd looked up and found her looking at him like he was a textbook or something she had to study on, and he'd concentrated hard on static and frowning. Never seemed to take her long to look away after that.
Jayne looked forward to letting his thoughts run free as he wandered slowly back towards the crew quarters, slowing when he neared River's bunk. He knew it was wrong, but decided to take a look anyway.
He opened the door and climbed down. The walls were a light rose color, with darker red abstract swirls streaking along the sides sending delicate tendrils of color toward the center. There wasn't much in the way of clutter, but then again, she'd only moved up here a couple of weeks ago, so she hadn't had time to get messy.
Here and there on the walls were drawings she'd done of the crew. When he saw the one of himself, his breath caught in his chest. She'd drawn him asleep in his bunk, on his back with the blanket low on his waist and one hand under his pillow. He thought a moment about how she'd managed to see him like that and smiled. He knew that at least one person in the 'verse could sneak up on him, but oddly enough the thought that it was her didn't give him pause. In the aftermath of her ability to inflict damage, he would accept a knife between the ribs from her as a benediction, with a softly whispered "Thank you."
He closed his eyes and trailed calloused fingertips over the bed, breathing deep to capture the scent of her room and memorize it. His fingers caught on something and he opened his eyes to look down at the slinky nightgown pooled next to her pillow. He wrapped his hand in it and pulled it up to savor. He rubbed it over his face, feeling his stubble snag against the fabric while he inhaled the perfume of her sleep. Smiling, he draped it around his neck like a scarf and climbed back out of her sanctuary.
Jayne dropped down into his bunk and set River's nightgown reverently on his pillow before stripping his shirt off and dropping it carelessly on the floor. After toeing his boots off, he slipped a thumb into his belt and pulled it loose. Releasing the top button of his khakis, he sat down on the bed before leaning over and nuzzling the silky fabric of his stolen token.
Jayne basked in the sense of River that he got from the mingled silk of the sleepwear and her scent permeating the fabric. He let his mind run wild, embracing all of the images of her he'd been holding inside.
His mind flooded with views reined in since they'd last come out of the black and stayed long enough for him to be comfortable thinking loud. He closed his eyes and drew the image to mind again.
His body reacted in the normal way and his blood began to run hot. His mind went to his second favorite image, when she had been triggered in the Maidenhead and she'd gone into ass kickin' mode. The captain could talk all he liked about River planning on killing him before Doc put her out, but Jayne knew that if she had intended to kill him, there'da been a bullet in his brain before the words ever entered her ears. He knew from a killer's perspective just how long it took to squeeze that trigger.
The flow of her movement was grace personified. His breath came faster as he dragged the fabric over his chest, his fingers slipping from the fabric onto his skin. He let his hand journey southward, savoring the weight of the fabric on his chest, her smell heightening his fantasy. He remembered how she fit into his arms in the Maidenhead before she'd kicked his ass. His mind started drawing another ending to that scenario as well.
She turned in his arms, her dress tangling around their thighs, and leapt into his arms, pulling his mouth down for a kiss. He never kissed women on the lips, but he was willing to break that rule for her. He knew that her lips would be more dangerously drugging than any of the con artist whores could ever hope to be. His fantasy continued with her wrapping those long dance and battle strengthened legs tight around him. He throbbed against her and the world faded away to just the two of them. He didn't know how she did it but she raised the most animalistic, yet gentle feelings in him. He wanted to hold her safe, so that the only thing that threatened her was HIM.
His hand danced on his body, testing and teasing in counterpoint to the visual symphony that was running in his mind. Breath hissed between clenched teeth and the blood pounded in his ears. Waves of sensation crashed over him rippling outward as he unthinkingly called out her name and the sparkles danced behind his eyes at the intensity.
Jayne collapsed into his bunk, sated for the moment. He turned to gently rub his cheek over her nightgown, eyes closed, mentally holding her close.
Across town, River felt a rush of heat wash over her body and heard her name. She melted into her chair and closed her eyes to try to hold onto the feeling as it pulsed through her, leaving small tremors in its wake.
"River, what is it?" Simon asked, his concern evident in his voice.
"I…I don't know," she stammered, but her mind was whispering, "I think it was Jayne."