Title: Old Friends, Fresh Wounds (Hindsight)

Series: Bad Blood

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Seriously guys I have nothing, I have to pay an arm and a leg to get my car fixed there is no way I can pay anyone anything of any worth if you take me to court over anything here.

Authors Note: Sorry this chapter took so long, RL is a bitch to deal with. I have no idea how long it will be until the next one gets done, I have a lot of things I need to do and school is starting again soon. Just know I am working on it, and my beta would kill me if I never finished the story.

Just so you know when I started writing that Wash/Zoe scene Yellowcard's "Believe" and My Chemical Romance's "Ghost of You" both played. In case you don't know those songs, they are pretty emo and all about sacrifice and death...poor Wash, it's like my playlist knew he was dead.

I really hope I didn't screw up Zoe or Wash in the last chapter, they are pretty hard to write. This half of the chapter was just really hard to get done, and that's pretty much all I can say about that. I hope you enjoy.

I would also like to say thank you to all of the reviews I've been getting, they're what keep me going and make me feel like I'm not wasting my time with all this writing.


The rain crashed down on the small town, drenching everything and making it hard to see.

The two ran between the houses and buildings, speaking in hushed voices to keep from being caught. They hurried as fast as their tired legs could take them, unheeding of the pain that laced their bodies from the constant action.

The edge of the town was just in site when it happened. The unflinching bang of the gun rang out so loud and clear that even the constant thunder couldn't drown out its sound.

The mud turned red beneath his body as the rain continued to pour down, un-heeding of the life is was washing away.

Her eyes, already filling with tears, turned from the cold dead form on the muddy ground before her to look at the person who had pulled the trigger and killed the man she loved.

Her body shuttered as she took in the tall frame and still smoking gun, the deep brown of his jacket mocking the color of the mud around her. "Mal..."

Lightning ripped through the sky and a crack of thunder rumbled through the heavy air as Inara was startled awake. Her arms barely held her body upright as shuddering breaths racked her body.

She leaned forward, taking her weight off her shaking arms, and wiped a hand across her brow as she desperately tried to keep her heart in check. It had only been a dream, a ludicrous dream thanks to an overtaxed mind and far more stress than was possibly healthy.

After she had finally regained some control of her breathing, she rose from her bed and stepped up to the small altar in her room. Inara barely heard the rain as it continued to pour as she knelt to light the candles. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, trying to find her calm through the worry that had begun to work its way through her body.

Just as she had begun to relax, a soft knock at her door startled her out of her reverie. She looked around her at the candles she had lit and shook her head gently before looking over her shoulder at the door. "Come in."

Lyssa appeared in the open doorway. "Inara, I'm not disturbing you I hope."

Inara smiled at her old friend and shook her head. "Not at all, I was just about to meditate."

"Meditate?" Lyssa gave her a small smile, the closest thing you could get to a smirk from a full fledged Companion, as she walked into the room. "As I seem to remember it, you were never one for much meditation."

"People change."

Lyssa took a seat next to Inara, her smile fading as she moved. "So I hear."

Inara tried to keep the troubled frown from her face. "Is there something you wanted to see me about?" She asked tentatively, her old friend had been acting odd ever since Serenity had landed. She had known coming to the training house was not been the best idea the second she and Kaylee arrived, the others joining them only seemed to solidify that. The longer they were there the more distracted the trainees were, and the more chances she had to have to speak to the Guild again.

Lyssa took a deep breath and smoothed out her skirt before she placed her hands in her lap primly, it was a subtle sign that what she had come to discuss would most likely be something Inara wouldn't want to listen to. "I wanted to talk to you about what the guild spoke to you about."

"Lyssa, I would rather…"

"You can't leave when they do, Inara." She cut her off quickly. "Not if you want to be able to work as a Companion." She said with a sad shake of her head.

"Maybe I shouldn't be a Companion."

Lyssa's eyes grew wide in shock as she stared at her friend. "Inara."

"Is it so shocking?" She asked, standing up and walking across the room to get away from her friend's scandalized eyes. "I'm not the only one that's ever felt like this." She said looking towards the door. "Maybe Nandi and I had more in common than I knew." She whispered to herself, the sting of tears starting to burn her eyes at the memories.

"And look where she is now, Inara. You're better than that."

"I'm better than that?" Inara asked turning back to Lyssa. "Better than doing what I feel is right? What I know is right? "

Lyssa shook her head in confusion. "You've been a Companion for…"

"For a very long time," she cut her off again, "and I do wish to maintain my title and position within' the Guild, but not at the cost of…" She trailed off trying to find the right words. Serenity was more than a place to live, and a group of people to live with. Ever since she had joined the misfit crew of Serenity, she had been unable to call anywhere else home, or anyone else family.

"Of what, Inara?" Her friend asked as she gave her a hard look.

"Of where I feel I belong." Inara stated strongly, and it was the truth. She belonged there, on that ship with those people no matter what the cost.

Lyssa slowly stood up as she shook her head. "That's not what you were going to say."

"Of course it was. I belong on Serenity."

Lyssa turned and glared at Inara. "You mean you belong with him." She said angrily.

"I mean I belong with them, all of them."

Lyssa shook her head again and turned away from Inara. "If you stay with him you'll lose everything. The Guild won't just let you go." She said quietly over her shoulder.

Inara's eyes fell to the floor. "I wouldn't expect them to."

Lyssa made a conscious effort to keep her tone even and not snap at her old friend. "They won't keep you as a Companion either. You can't always have things your way." She spun around and leveled a long hard stare at Inara, the same one she used to discipline the young trainees and even some of the teachers when necessary. "You'll pay the price."

Inara met her gaze; it had been a long time since anyone had treated her like this, the Operative had been the last time she had had anyone threaten her. "Maybe it would be worth it."

"If I can't convince you to save yourself then perhaps I can convince you to save the rest of us." Lyssa said calmly, the threat gone from her voice.

Inara stared at her in confusion, all of this was about her and only her, and there was no way the others would be in any danger. The Guild had even said so. Inara hadn't come to her decision lightly, her recent nightmare was testament to that, and of all of the Companions in the Guild she had hoped Lyssa would understand the most.

"How do you think people will react to the truth?"

Inara shook her head passionately "They wouldn't know about…"

"Of course they'll know!" Lyssa said angrily, keeping her voice down so they wouldn't bring any attention to the fight they were having. "It's not just you on the line, Inara. It's all of us. Take that into consideration."

"Lyssa, you don't understand." Inara pleaded.

"You're right I don't." Lyssa shook her head again, an action she seemed to be doing more and more often the longer Inara was here at the Training House. "After what he did to us…"

"He didn't do anything to us, Lyssa." Inara cut her off, it wasn't right to judge the few by the many, and she knew for a fact Lyssa could identify with that.

"No, not him, but people like him…" she amended. "The people he believed in and fought for. You can't trust them, Inara, or anyone like them, not after everything." Lyssa stared at her friend for a long moment before continuing. "He's as much one of them as you are one of us."

Inara evened her gaze at Lyssa and took a deep breath. "I know."

Lyssa stared at Inara in confusion before the door to the room was thrown open and Mal stepped in. He stopped as soon as he noticed the two Companions, or more so the looks they were giving each other.

"Not interuptin' anything am I?" He asked, giving them both a soft smile. Last thing he needed was to have barged in during something important and get an earful from not only 'Nara but her other Companioney friend. After all, 'Nara was more than he could handle in that particular event as it was. T'weren't no need to go an' give her help.

"Not at all, Captain Reynolds, I was just excusing myself." Lyssa said with a smile before she turned back to look at Inara. "Inara, think about what I said."

Mal moved out of Lyssa's way and held the door open for her. He watched her as she disappeared down the hallway. "What'd she say?" He asked, still looking down the hallway.

Inara was also still staring out the door Lyssa had just walked through, lost in thought. "Nothing…"

Mal's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Nothing?" He nodded to himself as he walked into the room and looked around, 'Nara had gotten a bigger room than him. "Seems to me your version a' nothin' gets you a touch worked up."

Inara blinked, the comment knocking her out of her thoughts, and turned to look at Mal. "Excuse me?"

"'Nara, be honest with me." He said, crossing his arms over his chest and taking up his usual "you're going to answer my question or else 'cause I'm the Captain" stance, though his voice held none of the edge it usually did when he stood like that. "Ever since we got here, you've been all kinds of distant."

"I've had a lot to think about, Mal."

Mal smirked and nodded. "I'm sure you have."

Inara shook her head and moved towards the candles she had been lighting before Lyssa had come in. "Don't patronize me, Mal." She said over her shoulder.

"Patronize?" He questioned angrily.

Inara stared at Mal, her face a mask of indifference. "What did you want?"

"Hey!" he barked out angrily. "I was just checkin' to see where you wondered off to. No need to get snippy with me."

"I wasn't being snippy." Inara argued back.

"There was a snippyness." He accused with an angrily pointed finger.

The two stared at each other for a moment before a tentative knock at the door broke their eye battle. Both of them turned in time to see a young girl push the door open.

"Excuse me, but you have a wave…"

"A wave?" Inara bit her bottom lip lightly. The last thing she wanted was to have to talk to the Gulid again, after all they had made her choice implicitly clear before. "Could you please tell them I'm otherwise disposed?"

The young trainee's face faltered for a moment. "Oh…"

"Just tell them I'm meditating." Inara said with a warm smile, gesturing to the candles she had partially lit.

The trainee looked from the candles back to Inara before turning to look at Mal, who happened to shrug at her halfheartedly. "But…"

"Or bathing…" Inara said cutting the young girl off once again.

"Ms. Serra, that's fine," the girl said quickly. "But the wave isn't for you."

"It isn't?"

"No," The young girl shook her head before turning to look at Mal again, a small flirty smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as she did so. "It's for Captain Reynolds."

Inara's eyes went wide and she had to keep from letting her mouth fall open. "Captain Reynolds?" She asked incredulously.

Mal grinned at the young girl before turning to stare at the still befuddled Companion next to him. "You sound so shocked." He said with mock indignity.

Inara fought the urge to roll her eyes. She was supposed to be setting a proper example for the trainees, and it wouldn't do for her to roll her eyes at Mal every time the urge presented itself, which was all too often.

Mal shook his head and looked back to the trainee. "Where's your Cortex viewer?" he asked with a grin, causing the young girl to undoubtedly swoon, though she kept it fairly well hidden.

The trainee nodded and motioned for Mal to follow her. Although the girl swung her hips in the seductive manner Ms. Serra herself had shown her, she was disappointed to see the pirate captain appeared to be lost in thought and had not noticed.

After absentmindely thanking the trainee, Mal sat down in front of the large screen the young girl had lead him to. He punched in a few keys, and the screen blinked on in front of him. The sight he was met with was more than enough to make his mouth drop open. "Jayne? Where in the gorram hell are you?"

Jayne glared at the smaller man on the other side of the connection. He had figured he'd be all manners of pissed when he saw Mal but, thanks to his nice little reunion with Mook, he was already more'n pissed, he was ready to kill the man. "Where am I? Where the hell were you?" He shouted angrily at the screen. "Me an' the feng le girl get to the gorram docks an' there weren't hide nor hair of you."

Mal took a deep breath to keep from gettin' too angry at the tone Jayne had taken with him. "We had to make ourselves scarce after the shootout."

"Scarce?" Jayne's face scrunched up in angry puzzlement. "You took off!"

Mal pinched the bridge of his nose and desperately tried to ignore the fact that his hired gun was yelling at him over a wave. "Jayne."

Jayne continued on, unheeding of Mal's warning tone. "You ditched us on a gorram farmin' planet just buzzin' with feds, Mal."

Mal began to try and cut in indignantly. "You think I wanted to…"

"You left me an' the girl alone, with no way off that planet," Jayne continued on his tirade. He'd been through more'n his fair share since they'd been split up an' he needed to vent. "No way of gettin' in touch an' no clue as to what ya had planned out."

"I figured you'd stay put and not…"

"You have any idea what me an crazy've been through since then?" He cut Mal off again, his anger slowly turning into something more dangerous as his yelling began to quiet and an edge of menace began to find its way into his voice.

Mal didn't even fight the urge to roll his eyes this time. "Got a feeling I'm gonna." He muttered to himself as he continued to only half-heartedly listen to Jayne.

"We had to go through over twenty check points where all we could do was hope no one recognized her." Jayne began counting the events off on his hand. "We got in a bar fight an' almost dead. Gorramit all, Mal, then we got ruttin' kidnapped."

Mal's head shot up in disbelief as Jayne's words sunk in. "You were kidnapped?"

Jayne glared the screen. "An' then they went and tortured me almost to death an' planned on doin' who knows what to her." He shouted, becoming more and more upset as he recalled everything that had gone on. He really hadn't been in the right state of mind to wonder what woulda happened to the girl had Higgins actually killed him.

"Who would kidnap you?" Mal asked, his brain warily skipping over the fact that Jayne actually sounded upset over his pilot's well being.

Jayne completely ignored Mal's question as he continued. "If'n that girl hadn't been stuck with me, I'd be dead now."

Mal's mouth fell open slightly at that bit of information. "River saved your life?" He asked blinking in disbelief, not that she could save his life but more-so that she did save his life. "Why?"

Jayne glared at the screen again. "You an' me are gonna have a little talk when I get back."

Mal's face fell into what Wash had often called "his war face," he called it this because it was devoid of any emotion, it was stoic, steely even. "Now, that sounds an awful lot like a threat, Jayne."

"Good." Jayne shot back, his expression just as cold as Mal's.

The two glared at each other for a long moment, something that would have made anyone very uncomfortable had they been witness to it, before Mal spoke. "You're very lucky that girl is with you, Jayne."

"I know." He said simply, and it was the truth. No matter how much he complained to the crew, or to Mook, or hell even to her about bein' stuck with her it wouldn't change the fact that he was damn lucky.

Mal's glare faltered slightly at the comment, somethin' was off an' he didn't like it.

"I'm sendin' the coordinates," Jayne stated tersely as he began to punch them in. "An' Mal… get here quick." He said, cutting the transmission before Mal could argue back.


Jayne sat there for a moment, glaring at the screen he had just turned off. He sighed quietly; this whole thing was getting complicated. When the hell had he ever been thankful for anyone, even if they'd saved him, least of all one of the Tams?

He chanced a glance over his shoulder to see River and Mook deep in conversation about something he couldn't be bothered with tryin' to figure out. No way Mook'd stopped flirtin' with her so it didn't really matter what they were sayin'. That gorram girl was trouble an' he had a feeling he hadn't seen the end of all the chaos that River Tam could reap. He had an even bigger feeling that he would be there when that trouble finally caught up to her.

Didn't matter though, 'cause now Mal was comin' an' that meant he had an out. Soon as the ship landed an' they rejoined the crew she wasn't his problem anymore. He could go along his merry an' not have to worry about the girl at all. 'Sides her brother an' the Captain could do enough of that for the whole crew as it was.

Last thing she needed was someone else tryin' to play a gorram knight in armour an' save her from the evils of her past. Even if she did need someone else to fill that role, weren't like he wanted it. He could barely stand the girl as it was. He didn't need to go an' give himself a reason to be stuck around her any more than he had to be. She was too smart for her own good, an' too crazy for anyone else's.

River's laughter rang out in the room and snapped Jayne out of his thoughts. He glared darkly over at the pair on the other side of the room. Gorram Mook, he really was gonna hafta shoot that man.

Jayne stalked over to the pair; making sure to stomp just a little harder on his way than was strictly needed. Mook stopped giving River his dashing smile when he saw Jayne appear just behind her.

River turned to look up at Jayne, her smile fading now that the irritable mercenary was back. "I take it didn't go too well?"

"I told you to watch him, not chit chat." He said tetchily as he snatched the gun from River's hands.

"Did watch him." River said simply staring up at Jayne as he continued to glower at Mook. "It would have been otiose to our objective had we remained nonvocal."


"You said we needed to figure out what was going on..."

"I meant with Mal." He interrupted. "Ain't a thing Mook can tell us we need known'."

River half rolled her eyes as she stared up at him. "And," she began again loudly so he would know he had interrupted her, "you also stated that he could not be trusted. So I felt it best to keep him otherwise engaged, to remove any chances of eavesdropping."

Jayne clenched his jaw at her level-headed reasoning. Gorram girl had a reason for everything no matter how nutty, and it was really startin' to piss him off now that he'd begun to recognize it. He didn't need to go knowin' anymore about the inner-workings of River Tam's brain than he already did.

Decidin' he couldn't rightfully yell at her again, he turned his attention back to the annoyance that was Mook so he'd have someone to more comfortably yell at.

"Why the hell do you have the only workin' Cortex connection, Mook? Ain't any manner of smart keepin' it all close like." Jayne asked belligerently and a bit befuddled, wielding the gun a good deal easier than River had.

"Obviously…" Mook said sarcastically giving Jayne a small smirk, which earned him a sneer. "It's the only place it works for your information."

Jayne stared at him for a moment, clearly trying to work something out in his head before he said anything. "How's that happen? Havin' a whole planet with only one place ya can get the Cortex to patch through."

"Newhall ain't perfect Jayne." Mook said with a shrug. "We're one of your normal make and bake planets that just didn't quite bake right. Humidity is off the charts even though it hardly ever rains, something about the atmospheric disturbances makes it so the water in the air doesn't evaporate; it's also why we only have one working Cortex terminal. We've got plenty of satellites floatin' around up there; they just aren't powerful enough to punch through." He said, turning to give River a small smile.

At the sound of a growl, Mook turned back to Jayne's scowling form, intrigued that the man was getting mighty touchy when it came to that girl. "The sad thing is that no one really understands why," He continued, trying to keep the conversation from turning into something along the lines of Jayne getting pissed about something else. "But we can't complain too much. We've got the basics; air, land, water and at least we can support farms here so we don't have to import as much fresh food as other planets. All in all we're pretty well off."

Jayne huffed and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, it's just peachy." He muttered looking out the window to the rather dusty world outside.

Mook gave Jayne a tight smile, really trying to keep his calm, which Jayne always did make hard. "So," he started in the voice he saved for the hours upon hours of political speaking he had to suffer through these days, "what did your boss say about you being on my planet?"

Jayne returned to glaring at Mook. "They're comin'." Jayne answered shortly.

"Coming?" Mook repeated, though with proper grammar. It was surprising how a thing he had learned to use most of the time since becoming the owner of his very own planet could teeter when confronted with someone from his past. "Any idea how long it will be? How many days, hours, minutes…" he began to say "seconds" but he finished in a mumble not meant for the others to hear.

"At least three days." Jayne answered with the same annoyed smirk on his face he'd worn earlier. "She can tell you the rest." Jayne finished with a nod of his head towards River.

Mook looked over to River, who was looking between the two like there was something to be learned from the way they were acting with, and looking at, each other alone. "Can she?"

River quirked an eyebrow at Mook's questioning stare before she looked between himself and Jayne one more time. Now, that they had time to pass at their leisure, she asked, "How exactly do you two know each other?"

Jayne visibly tensed where he was standing. He didn't need to go skippin' down memory lane with Mook any time soon. He'd done enough of that already. "It was a long time ago."

Mook gave River a grin. "I was the first person to ever hire the lunkhead." He said pointing at Jayne, who gave out an undignified snort at the comment, or maybe the nickname. "Had to land to get a few parts for my ship, wound up in a bar near the docks." He started to explain to the eager young woman. "One thing led to another, a few unsavory words… a few punches… and I found Jayne." He finished with a smile shot the mercenary's way.

"Like I said, it was a long time ago."

"Over 19 years now right? Seems like only yesterday to me." Mook said, brow furrowing at the thought that 19 years only felt like yesterday.

"Well, it don't to me. So's how about we jus' drop it?" Jayne snapped.

"Guess we've both lived a lot since then." Mook said with a sigh, leaning against the wall behind him. "We've both dealt with a countless number of problems since then huh?"

"Some of us more'n others." Jayne said glaring around the huge house they were standing in.

"What does that mean?"

"It means it's more'n obvious you ain't known trouble for years now. Oh, sure, you've got yourself a gorram planet to be runnin' but that ain't got a lick on the go se I've been dealt over the same amount of time." Jayne said angrily. "How many times you been shot in the last 5 years, Mook? How many times've you been in a fist fight? How many times have you gone to sleep not known if'n you were gonna get paid the next day, or eat, or even get dead?"


"None!" Jayne shouted cutting him off. "You ain't known trouble for a good long while now with your livin' here in your fancy house an' runnin' everyone's lives."

"I got different problems, Jayne."

"Yeah, right. 'Cause havin' to sign some papers on if'n the new road in town gets built or not is any kind of danger."

"I got people comin' an goin', doin' things I used to do and now I've got to uphold the law against 'em. I got people threatin' to kill me on a regular basis."

"How many of 'em have actually tried, Mook?"

"Just because I got out of the dangerous jobs doesn't mean I don't have troubles, Jayne."

"Trouble creates a capacity to handle it." River said as she stared at nothing, a bemused smile gracing her face. "Oliver Wendell Holmes." She trailed off as the two men stood glaring at her.

"You butt out of this. An' don't you go givin' me that look either! Ain't had nothin' but trouble since we got left." Jayne spat out angrily towards the girl. He'd been havin' a bad day an' all she could do was flirt with the cause for his bad day. Girl didn't seem to much care how he felt so why should he bother with how she did.

Rivers eyes went wide at the accusation his voice held. "None of that was my fault."

Jayne smirked disbelievingly at her. "Right 'cause you don't attract all kinds'a trouble."

"They've all been about you!" She shouted heatedly. "Every contretemps that has eventuated was your doing!"

"What the hell does that mean?" Jayne shot back, genuinely confused at what she had said. "Don't go pullin' that blatant use of your big ass vocabulary on me you feng le…"

"Not crazy, you catachrestic cretin!" River shouted cutting him off.

"What did you call me!" He bellowed angrily, though it didn't really matter what it had meant, he knew it was mean an' that's all that mattered. Girl had no call to be mean to him after he'd just gone and gotten them rescued.

River glared at him. "Everything gets jumbled when I'm upset… you know that." She said, rather than shouted, ignoring his question.

Jayne in turn as always ignored that li'l voice in the back of his head tellin' him to shut the ruttin' hell up as he gave the girl an outrageous smirk, something only Jayne could ever pull off. "Yeah well she must be upset an awful lot cause she ain't ever acted normal."

River glared at him, tears forming in her eyes though she refused to let them fall. "Haven't used she in months…"

"Can't change who you are." He sneered.

Falling back as if punched, River tried to keep her emotions incheck, but failed as she had been medically altered to do.

Clenching his fists, Jayne just stared at the girl as she shook her head and dashed out the door. He wouldn't lie, not even to himself, an' say he didn't mean what he said, which was the problem an' he knew it. He meant it, she was crazy and would always be crazy, weren't no changin' that. Whether he hurt the girl's feelings or not was obvious enough though an' he did regret that a little. She hadn't done anything to make him need ta snap at her like that.

None of that mattered though, 'cause sure as he was anything, he was honest… in his own way. The girl had even pointed it out to him before. He felt, said, and acted all the same. Weren't one to tell someone something he didn't believe. Didn't matter though, she weren't going to be his problem for much longer anyhow.

Mook looked out the door River had escaped through sadly before turning to glare disapprovingly at Jayne. "Good job, lunkhead."

"Why're you always callin' me that?" Jayne snapped back at him. He hadn't been in the mood for Mook when they had gotten there an' was in even less of the mood now that the feng le girl had run off.

"'Cause you're a lunkhead." Mook stated without explaining a thing, just like somethin' he would do too. "Whatever pissed you off wasn't her fault." He continued on. "Hell, you should be thanking her for sticking around with your worthless pigu this whole time."

"Why the hell's it matter to you?" Jayne asked warningly, weren't none of Mook's business what happened 'tween him an' River an' the man had better know it.

"It matters to me 'cause I've gotta deal with you for 3 days yet." He explained like it was the most obvious thing in the 'Verse.


Mook shook his head and sighed. "Look, I feel bad about having left you there," He explained. "I don't feel bad about shooting at you though so don't expect an apology." He stated poking Jayne in the chest with an irritated finger. "But because I do feel bad about leaving you there I'll give you two a pair of rooms. You can stay until your ship docks." He finished walking away from Jayne.

Jayne stood there for a moment, taking in what Mook had just offered. "Don't act like that's gonna make things right between us," he called out, causing Mook to stop in his tracks. "'Cause it ain't."

Mook turned around to look at Jayne again. "If I were looking to make things right, Jayne, I'da said sorry."

Jayne watched Mook walk out of the room and turn out of sight. The whole gorram thing had gotten out of hand. Now, he needed to go an' find the girl 'fore she wondered off too far an' got snatched or lost or sumthin'. "Girl like her's bound to get a man killed."


River rubbed furiously at her eyes, refusing to let any tears fall because of that feebleminded misbegotten buffoon! Why he had to always act cross was beyond her. He didn't always feel like that, like everyone was against him, no matter how he acted. He didn't even hate her, not nearly as much as he always let on.

Even when she had first come on board, he hadn't hated her. He had mostly been indifferent towards her, never anything more than merely annoyed. He'd hated Simon though and everything he stood for, but, unlike the rest of the crew, he had always seen them as different people, not two parts of one whole. They weren't the Tams to Jayne; they were Simon and his little sister, granted that wasn't much better but at least it was different.

It wasn't until just before they went to Ariel that he had seen her any differently. Until she had attacked him they were two people, after that they were one, after that they were worth something.

"Greedy little boy with his thumb in the pie." She muttered to herself as she wondered aimlessly down the street, artfully dodging those around her.

Maybe she was nothing but trouble, maybe she was an Albatross, cursed forever to continue in the duality of her nature. Born to dance but destined to kill.

A few stray tears began to streak their way down her face as she leaned against the nearest wall.

Jayne half-walked, half-jogged down the street, hoping against hope that he'd chosen the correct way to go so's he could catch up to the crazy girl. Weren't right for her to jus' go runnin' off like that. Didn't she know his ass was on the line when it came to her?

He scanned the busy street, growling under his breath when he didn't catch sight of the familiar head of messy brown hair. He turned and started to quickly make his way down the opposite way, staring at every brunette he passed, realizin' he'd be just as batty as she was if'n this kept up.

Jayne came to a stop at the end of the street, eyes darting around wildly. His heart started to beat a little faster when he didn't see her anywhere. She had to be over here, weren't no way he missed her the other way. "Wo shi tang ta de guai zai…" He muttered under his breath darkly, still searching for her in the crowd.

River looked up and saw Jayne anxiously searching the crowd just across the street from her, though the odds of him spotting her were remote since he was aimed in the wrong direction. It was rather impractical of him to not think that she might have crossed the street before making her way down it. She shook her head and wiped at her eyes again, trying to make the tears disappear.

Just as Jayne was about to give up hope, and turn back to search the other way, something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. The sunlight caught the edge of the gun, causing a glare to form on the smooth metal, something he was far too aware of no matter where he went.

His eyes were fixed to the gun before he realized who it was aimed at, and even if he had known there weren't a thing he coulda done to stop it. The man had pulled the trigger before Jayne could even react.

River's body tensed at the familiar stab. She pulled the dart out and looked at it for a moment as the tingling feeling filled her arm, soon she would pass out thanks to the drugs now coursing through her body. Her eyes darted across the street to find Jayne, he was there… he would save her.

Before she could find him in the mass of people she, had lost the feeling in her legs and had crumpled down to the ground. Three men in uniform soon began to make their way towards her.

"We've got her, Sir." The first one said into the comm he was wearing as the other two walked over towards River.

The man who had pulled the trigger pointed his gun down at her, a cold hard expression on his face. "Don't move, sweetie, or I'll have to shoot you with another one."

"You don't have to worry about her," his friend said coming up beside him and looking down at the girl crumpled on the floor. "She'll be out before you know it."

The gunner smirked down at her and chuckled to himself. "Sweet dreams."