TITLE: Betty
AUTHOR: Mnemosyne

Disclaimer: Not mine!
SUMMARY: A remix of Alia's "In the Wrong Hands." Jayne's got experience with pretty weapons.
SPOILERS: Vague ones for everything through the movie.

The prettiest gun Jayne ever owned couldn't shoot worth a damn. It was a flashy six-gun with a faux pearl grip and a trigger guard that could barely fit his finger. Aiming it was a joke; he could do more damage flipping it over and using it to pistol whip whoever'd done him wrong. It had to be about the most useless piece of go se the 'verse had ever seen. By rights he should have tossed it out the airlock soon as he discovered how worthless it was.

Only one problem with that.

It'd been a gift from his mama.

There weren't many things Jayne treasured in his life, but that gun... That gun was one of them. He named her Betty, after his ma, and kept her gleaming and spotless. Even bought her a little glass display case that he set up on his chest of drawers, to keep the dust off and avoid any fingerprints. Every birthday, Christmas, the week of the annual autumn harvest back home, he'd take down that little display case, open it up, and give Betty a shiny new polish. He had a special soft cloth he kept just for her, and a tin of expensive, quality polish that he used sparingly but with love. It weren't much, and it didn't make up for a real hug from his ma back home, but it was more than most folks had in the Black.

The day his mama gave it to him was the day he took off, which was so many years ago now he almost couldn't count 'em. "You take good care of her, my baby boy," Ma had told him, kissing him warmly on both cheeks. She was a wiry woman with bony hands and steel gray hair, and looked like she'd been made with chicken wire. But she gave the best hugs, his Ma did, and the hug she gave him that day still helped get him through his worst times out here in the big black empty. She'd been baking cherry cobbler for the town social; he can still remember the tart smell of cherries and the warm, sweet smell of buttery crust. "You take good care of her, my Jayne baby, and she'll take good care of you. Just like yer mama done."

Then she'd called him her big boy, given him a hug that would have crushed a rhino's ribcage, and sent him on his way.

He knew before he even tried to use her that his fists were more reliable, and so Betty had stopped being a gun and had turned into a happy memory; something he took out on special occasions and polished up, thinking back on good times and warm family. Those were the days he'd hole up in his bunk with some sheets of clean white paper and a grubby stub of a pencil and painstakingly send a letter home to Ma. He told her about the ship (she spelled it Serenitty, because she thought it was a hoot the way it came out looking like "Betty"), and the crew (she was especially interested in what was going on with Kaylee and Simon, so he kept her up on that), and the jobs they'd done (he always divided the number of wounds he'd gotten and men he'd killed by three, so's not to scare her). He'd always close out the same way: " Say helo to Mattie. Luv yu. Miss yu. Yor sun, Jayne." Then he'd tuck it in an envelope, seal it nice and tight with plenty of tape, get Zoe to address it in nice legible letters so the postmen wouldn't lose it, then drop it in the next available mail slot. It wasn't the same as a real hug for his ma back home, but it was more than most folks had in the Black.

Betty was his pride and joy. The most useless gun in his arsenal, but he wouldn't trade her for a hundred Veras. Just 'cause something was made to be a weapon didn't mean it had to act like one. Form weren't the same as function, or whatever the hell the phrase was. He'd gnaw off his arm before he'd ever fire her, because she wasn't meant to be fired. She was pretty and she was small and she needed special tending.

Jayne thinks about Betty; thinks about her a lot. Thinks about her when River's whirling like a dervish in the press of humanity, kicking kicks and killing men. He thinks about Betty when River's standing there in the middle of moaning bodies, rigid and vibrating. He thinks about Betty when he grabs the back of River's neck to hold her still and bring back her focus before she lets loose a new volley and kills every last one of them, good guy and bad guy alike. He thinks about Betty when the girl turns to him, wraithlike and sweaty, hair a tumbledown mess, big doe eyes brimming with tears. She doesn't want to do these things. It's not her fault she's so damn good at it. She shouldn't have to be here.

But she is, and there's no glass case where she can curl up and hide. Jayne thinks about Betty as he squeezes River's neck and lets her slump against him, boneless and tired. Somehow he's gotten the duty of River cleanup after every job. He thinks he knows the reason. He thinks its because he's got experience here, with pretty little weapons that shouldn't ever oughta be used.