Disclaimer: If I was Joss Whedon, then I'd be… Well, I'd be Joss Whedon, but, alas, I ain't. Poor me.
Warnings/Spoilers: After the series and BDM
Regrets (Part 2)
The others were already waiting for them when Mal pulled the mule into the cargo bay. Sitting on the stairs playing with baby Wash, they barely turned to look at the occupants of the mule because if something had gone wrong they would have commed earlier.
Upon seeing his sister with her eyes closed and held firmly to Jayne's chest though, Simon rushed forward. "Is River hurt?"
Mal hopped outta the mule, held up a hand and stopped the doctor's forward motion by pushin' the bottles of whiskey into the younger man's chest. "Ain't no one injured. Not that I didn't think about it, but still no one got injured. So, Doc, no need for you to go all overprotective and punch me. I conjure I'm not the one you'd be wantin' to punch today anyway."
"Then why do they look like that? Why is River sitting on his lap?"
Mal raised his eyebrows.
Simon realized what a dumb question that last one was. So he concentrated on the first. "Why do they… look like that?"
"Because they're happy. Don't they look happy? I know I'm just thrilled and you will be too which is why I got the whiskey," drolled Mal as he pried Jayne's hand loose from the rail and used the larger man's elbow to maneuver him into a standing position with River cradled in his arms.
"You got the whiskey because we're happy?" Simon blinked in confusion. The bottles clattered in his arms when he shuffled away from the mule at the Captain's urging. He couldn't comprehend why Mal was moving Jayne and River about as if there were dolls. What had happened to render them this abnormally pliable? And why hadn't they opened their eyes?
"Yup." Mal dryly assured of the Doctor. Tiltin' his head to the side, the Captain inspected his lovebirds, tryin' to figure out the best way to get them out of the mule. After formin' a plan, he tried to place the hand Jayne had underneath River's knees back on the rail, but Jayne resisted releasin' his girl until the Captain bent him over far enough for his forearm to remain supportin' her knees. Then when the Captain tapped the big man's left leg, Jayne automatically lifted it over the rail for Mal to position his foot on the running board. Once that leg was over Jayne required no more help to pull the rest of his body and River's out of the mule. However, the Captain still thought it best to guide them safely to the ground. He'd gotten them this far, and he wasn't goin' to have his plan thwarted by a stupid misstep at the end.
Extremely bewildered by the odd puppet show, Simon couldn't find his voice until the others had stopped moving. "Okay. What are we happy about?"
"Why today we are celebrating the fact that my mercenary," Mal patted Jayne on the shoulder then pointed to River, "has declared his love for your sister."
Simon's mouth fell open. This was certainly not what he had been expecting. He'd been worried about how Jayne would act if they actually made it to a bar after the job. Visions of the mercenary spouting words of love to his sister had not been part of his anxious contemplations. "What--"
"Which, as I said before, is why I got the whiskey." Mal carefully turned the couple so they were facin' the way out of the cargo bay. If only Jayne would open his eyes, the Captain was more than willin' to let them leave the bay.
With his annoyin' little task mostly accomplished, Mal took one of the bottles back from Simon. Clinkin' the bottles together, the Captain explained, "That one's yours."
Simon looked down to the unopened, completely full bottle clutched in his hands and ruefully thought that it probably wouldn't be enough. He tugged on his ear and politely inquired, "What happened?"
Pursin' his lips, Mal considered the situation minutely before answerin'. "Well, there was a bar, a whore, said whore's boyfriend, guns, a declaration of love, purchases of alcohol, and then we came home."
"A whore?" Simon was extremely confused. A situation with a whore was what he'd been worried about, but he didn't understand how it led to an assertion of love. Shouldn't a whore have been a reason for a breakup and not for some form of commitment?
Mal shrugged. "It was Jayne in a bar. Could any of us really expect less than the appearance of at least one working girl?"
Ignorin' the mystified Doctor, Mal turned to address the women of Serenity who had yet to speak up even as they now stood on the bay floor watchin' the goings on with extremely amused curiosity.
Since Zoe had her arms full up with baby and Inara never took his orders, Mal addressed his mechanic. "Kaylee, could you be a little darlin' and kindly escort our li'l lovebirds to their bunk."
Kaylee's eyes widened even as she stepped forward to do her Captain's biddin'. "Their bunk?"
Mal shrugged. "It's not like they're ever a part. And after all the love talk, I conjure they ain't gonna be apart anytime soon. Hence their bunk because I ain't wastin' space."
Kaylee put one hand under Jayne's elbow and one on his back before she swung back to her Captain to ask, "Which one is theirs?"
"For the moment, just take them to River's room. I doubt they'll let go long enough to get down the ladder into Jayne's."
"Okay, Cap'n." Kaylee grinned as she began directin' the silent couple out of the cargo bay.
Rollin' his eyes, Mal added, "And I suggest you run like hell after you close her door because I'm not certain how much longer they'll be able to keep their hands off one another. In fact, I think we should all steer clear of the passenger dorms until they vacate the area."
Kaylee giggled. "Yes, Cap'n."
Refusin' to watch his hired guns be manhandled like sleepy children anymore today, Mal turned to address his first mate who was clearly strugglin' not to laugh. "So the job went well."
Zoe managed to hold her merriment to a twinkle in her eyes. "We got paid?"
"Yup. No violence neither."
"That's good, Sir."
Mal leaned forward to check on his now sleepin' godson. "Yup." He bounced there fingerin' his suspenders for a moment. He jerked his head toward the bridge. "I'm gonna go fly the ship away from here."
"Good idea, Sir."
"Yup." As he sauntered toward the exit, Mal tossed back over his shoulder, "Could y'all take Simon to the mess? I conjure he'd be easier to watch get drunk there while y'all had dinner."
"Another good idea today, Sir," asserted Zoe as she stepped around the already drinking doctor and walked over to the controls to close the cargo ramp.
Simon hiccuped at the approaching Companion. He blinked glumly into her kind face. "At the rate this is going, someday I'll have my very own mercenary-in-law."
As she calmly cupped the elbow of the arm the Doctor wasn't using to knock back the whiskey, Inara suggested over her shoulder, "Mal, you might want to stop thinking up good ideas now before you permanently run out or more likely injure yourself."
Mal paused momentarily in the doorway, but chose to rise above such petty bickerin' on this happy day. So he blithely continued his trek to the bridge where he could think about flyin' and not about his recalcitrant crew. He decided he'd give the lovebirds a couple of hours alone time before his copilot would have to take the helm so he could join Simon in a deeply inebriated stupor for the rest of the day.
When the trio reached River's room, Kaylee left the couple in the hallway for a moment as she opened the door and switched on the light. She turned back to the pair and cheerfully steered them into the middle of the girl's cabin. Pattin' them both on the shoulders, she smiled into their closed eyes before exitin' the room. As she slid the door shut, she advised, "Have good sex."
When the door clicked closed, Jayne's and River's eyes snapped open as the sound of privacy released them from their trance. Without releasing their tight hold, they both leaned back slightly to look into each others' eyes.
Jayne kept his left hand on her waist as he reached up with his right to wipe away the tracks of her tears. Self-conscious, he didn't know what to say about what he had blabbed to her. So he started with something else. "I don't think Mal's very happy."
River knew Jayne was delaying, but she wasn't certain she was anymore prepared for the rest of the conversation herself so she let him. Shaking her head, she agreed, "No, Captain Daddy's very embarrassed."
"Yeah." Jayne grimaced and lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry about that whole thing with Maybelle. I really didn't try to pick her up. She just sorta latched onto me and wouldn't let go."
River cupped his jaw with both of her hands to make him look at her. When his eyes met hers, she assured, "She knows. She trusts him. She is sorry she doubted him for a moment. Please, forgive her."
Shocked, Jayne sucked in a breath. He didn't like her thinking she was to blame for anything that had happened today. Made his chest ache. "Nothing to forgive. It's not your fault. A few months ago I would definitely have been tryin' to get some female company at that bar." His hand slid down to cup her jaw this time because he too wanted her to see the truth in his eyes. Earnestly he explained, "But I got no desire to go lookin' for time spent with anyone besides you."
Wincin' at his own foolishness, he shrugged his shoulders in apology. "Didn't even think about workin' girls bein' there when I insisted on a drink. Stupid of me really."
"Why did he?" asked River. When he looked bewildered, she added, "Insist."
Jayne flushed and mumbled, "I thought it'd make everything real. Show this was real because I wasn't pretendin' to be something I'm not."
"What isn't he?" queried River softly.
His eyebrows scrunched together as he tried to come up with the right words. He wanted to answer her question as honestly as he knew how. Looking directly into her eyes, he said, "I ain't a good guy. I go to bars and I drink and I get into stupid fights." His eyes flickered away for second before he determinedly returned them to meet her gaze as he added, "And I say the wrong thing at the wrong time."
River bit her lip and her eyes shimmered once more. "Wrong thing?"
Seein' her renewed tears, Jayne rushed to reassure her, "Not that what I said was wrong. It was right… I mean it was true… I mean it i is /i true. It's just that it wasn't what I shoulda said… when I said it. I--"
His rambling speech was cut off by River's fingers as she covered his mouth.
She smiled up into his bemused face. "She loves him too."
Jayne blinked. She hadn't said that before. She had said she didn't know what love was so he didn't know if she was simply tryin' to make him feel better now or if she really meant it.
"Before you weren't--"
River cut him off again. Beaming brilliantly up into his hopeful face, she reminded him, "His Pa told him that someday he'd just know. That's how she knows."
His eyes brightened and an enormous smile spread across his face. He couldn't believe his luck. She was so perfect and beautiful and… expectant. His eyebrows twisted in confusion. What was she expectin'?
Jayne blushed when he realized why River was waitin'.
She raised her eyebrows and giggled.
After lickin' his dry lips, he rasped out, "I love you."
When she laughed and threw her arms around his neck, Jayne rambled on, "I do love you. I'm sorry it took me so long. I--"
This time River shut him up with a kiss, a very deep and heartfelt and overwhelmingly satisfying kiss. When she drew her head back, she saw he was blushing again. Smiling up into his embarrassed but loving face, she brushed her fingertips against his red cheeks then kissed their warmth just as softly. She heard his breath catch and felt his hands grip her waist more firmly.
Jayne was already tryin' to find his breath, but when his girl pulled back to peer up at him through heavily lidded eyes, he found what little breath he had mustered escaped again. Slidin' his right hand up her back to tangle in her hair, he leaned down to lick her breathlessly parted lips. When her tongue welcomed his, he pulled her closer and kissed her with all he had.
Acknowledged love added such a heady spice to their kisses that neither one knew how long they stood there kissing. It could have been a minute or eternity. However, in that time, they conveyed all of their pent-up longing as well as their ever present desire for one another. Slowly, their bodies began to shift as their kisses and caresses became urgent.
"River," whispered Jayne across her temple as she licked down his throat. The curve of her smile was his only answer. He moaned when she began to lightly suck on his pulse point.
As the throb of desire became ever more insistent Jayne's hands stroked across her body to meet at the zipper of her dress. He knew her now. He knew her looks and her smell and the sounds of her breathing and the way her body reacted and everything. However, at this moment, it all felt new again. So he pried open his pleasure-laden lids to watch the slow revelation of her glorious back as he slid the clasp down.
As he tried to push the dress off her shoulders, River tightened her arms around his neck and laughed against his throat. When his fingers stopped their motion, she lifted her head to grin up into his confused face. "He is always wearing too many clothes, and this time so is she."
Jayne felt the blush rise again. Once more, he had been so anxious to get her undressed that he had forgotten his own attire, and this time he was not only armed but also had on a hat and a coat. Ruefully, he was thankful he had removed the gloves and glasses earlier in the day. Plus, he belatedly realized he couldn't get her dress off now without ripping it because she still wore her shoulder holster. It was so sexy on her he had forgotten it had to be removed first. Someday, he'd have to have her wear it and nothing else, except maybe the knife strapped to her thigh and those combat boots. His eyes glazed over at the thought.
River laughed again as he lifted her off her feet in a bear hug and mumbled a sorry into her hair. After he gently set her back down on her feet, she playfully swatted his hands away when he reached up to pull off his hat. She waggled her eyebrows up at him when he managed to roll his eyes despite the grin he couldn't keep from his face. It was their unwritten rule that once one of them began removing the clothes of the other reciprocity precluded the removal of one's own clothes without permission. Now, he had to wait for her to undress him which was both pleasure and torture because she liked to tease him with her deliberately unhurried pace.
Jayne loved the look of concentration on his girl's face when she undressed him. As always a possessive growl arose in his throat when he watched her eyes sharpen and the tip of her tongue sneak out between her lips. Wagglin' his own eyebrows, he held his arms out at his sides palms up then winked at her. He could barely restrain his arms from wrappin' around her when she took his mischievous invitation as encouragement to run her nails up his chest. Even through the soft material, he could feel the scratch, and the tension in his body ratcheted up another notch. He couldn't hold back his groan when she raised herself up on tiptoe to top off her maneuver with a nip to the underside of his jaw.
Feeling the rumble in his chest beneath her hands, River smiled saucily and licked his cheek before removing all points of contact between their bodies as she snatched off his hat and dropped her heels back to the ground. She grinned possessively as his eyelids slid to half mast and his fingers twitched in his effort to keep them from grabbing her. Her grin widened into a smirk as she carelessly tossed his hat over her shoulder and it landed with perfect accuracy atop her dresser. When Jayne bit his lip, she giggled because she knew how turned on he became by displays of her physical prowess.
Nearly unmanned by his girl's giggle, Jayne tried to remember how to breathe. The fun she found in all their private moments always swelled his soul. He would never be able to describe how heroic he felt when she bubbled over so lighthearted and carefree with him. After all that she had been through, the fact that he could make her giggle made him more proud of himself than anything else he had ever done in his life. Famished for her taste, he couldn't prevent himself from swoopin' down with a deep kiss to swallow her giggle.
Leaning up into the kiss, River twined her fingers in Jayne's short cropped hair to hold him steady as her tongue took control and plundered the recesses of his mouth. When the irrational need for air broke their kiss, she slid her hands down his strong neck to push the jacket from his broad shoulders. She unconcernedly let the coat drop to the floor as her fingers skimmed down his sides to alight upon his holster. She watched his darkening eyes as her fingers feathered across his thighs to release the ties before darting back up to efficiently unbuckle the well-cared for leather. Carefully, she slid the holster from his waist and stepped over to lay it gently across the back of her chair.
Every time she treated his weapons with such implicit respect, Jayne's heart nearly burst. No one before her had ever understood how his arsenal was as much a part of him as his own limbs. He knew the consideration with which she handled his weapons was the same care which she offered him. However, until today, he had not realized how much he required her tender treatment to simply exist from one day to the next. He was heartened to know he had figured it out before it was too late.
River stepped back in front of Jayne with her arms held to her sides palms up in invitation. Noticing his faraway gaze, she tilted her head to the side and cocked an eyebrow. She knew his mind tended to drift away somewhere she believed to be quite pleasant when she handled his arsenal, but she also knew his glazed eyes would refocus on her momentarily with a stomach curling hunger. So she waited patiently for him to return his attentions to undressing her.
Jayne returned from his musings to see she was waitin' for him once more. He quirked an eyebrow in response to her amused expression. Then he leaned forward to lick the outline of her lips until her mouth fell open and her soft breath turned to warm pants against his face. He dipped his tongue into her lonely mouth briefly before resumin' his original goal of removin' her dress. This time he remembered he had to start with her holster first. So he cupped her shoulders in his palms and rubbed his thumbs against the soft leather for a moment before slidin' the rig down her arms. As he lifted the oddly light holster away from her, he realized for the first time she was no longer properly weaponed up.
River smiled. Even in the midst of passion, her mercenary would remember his weapons. "She has to get her back from Captain Daddy later."
"He couldn't put her back at the bar."
Jayne looked at her questioningly for a second before rememberin' why Mal had kept the pistol. He growled possessively, "Damn straight he couldn't put her back. I'd have decked him if he had tried."
River giggled. "He knew."
Jayne rolled his eyes inducin' another giggle before steppin' around her to lay the rig down on the chair. He turned back to stand behind River. His hungry eyes burned trails across the endless expanse of her exposed back. Strokin' his roughhewn hands up the ivory perfection of her skin, he nearly purred at her tremble. He leaned down and licked the indention of her spine before pushin' the dress off her shoulders and down her arms, allowin' it to pool into a ring of fire around her feet.
Eyes too heavy to open, River leaned back against Jayne as his hands brushed down her sides. Turning her head, she rubbed her cheek again his chest while his calloused palms scraped over her hips and across her thighs. Her breath hitched in her chest as he tormentingly unfastened the knife sheath and eased it away. She moaned when he stepped back to lay the weapon on the chair with the others.
Finishin' that task swiftly, Jayne swung around and unexpectedly pulled River to his chest, liftin' her high into the air. He laughed at her undignified squeak. After she snaked her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist, she stuck out her tongue at him so he quickly leaned forward to capture her playful tongue with his own naughty one. When she moaned and rocked her hips against him, he smiled into her mouth and pushed her up against the door. Holdin' her steady with his chest, he reached behind him to unfasten and remove her footwear managin' to never abandon her mouth in the process.
Once Jayne had tossed aside her boots and socks, River pushed on his shoulders, steering him toward the bed. She peppered his face and neck with kisses as he supported her with one arm while he backed up and blindly pulled down the covers. She waited until his whimper at her provocation before joining their mouths once more.
Turnin' around, Jayne tumbled them onto the bed with River beneath him. Their kiss broke on mutual groans as their bodies came into fuller contact. He slid his hands beneath her back and unhooked her bra before shiftin' his weight to his knees in order to completely remove the currently in the way garment. After tossing the wisp of fabric aside, his hands returned to her body to mold her breasts. He brushed his thumbs across her hardenin' nipples even as of his mouth descended to her firm slopes. Lickin' a path of liquid fire from one summit to the other, he thoroughly laved each nipple before suckin' one into his mouth while his calloused fingertips enticingly twisted the other.
Writhing on the bed, River savored Jayne's caresses for another minute before deciding it was time for her to taste him. Sitting up, she forced him away from her chest and into a more upright position. In fact after she quickly shed his boots and socks, she decided she would prefer him to stand. So she knelt up and tugged on his hips until he stood at her bedside. Smiling lazily up at him, she brushed her fingers across his stomach before slowly untucking his T-shirt. Normally, she preferred to keep their skin from touching as she removed his clothing, but today she decided she didn't want to wait. So the instant the skin of his stomach was revealed, she leaned forward and licked a meandering course to his navel.
Jayne groaned as his stomach quivered beneath River's wet caress. His knees had nearly given out at the unanticipated touch. Oh, what his girl could do with her tongue. It was a wonder that he ever let her leave his bunk. When the removal of his T-shirt reached his pectorals, he bit his lip because she bit firmly on his nipples before pullin' back her head to encourage him to lift his arms for the material's final removal.
River carelessly dropped his T-shirt on the floor as her eyes turned his belt buckle, and she licked her lips. She grinned predatorily up at Jayne before her hands slowly slid open the clasp of his belt. Even more slowly, she unbuttoned and unzipped the fly of his cargo pants. When he sighed at the release of his straining erection, she trapped his breath again by cupping him firmly and running the pad of her thumb over the head.
Groanin' deep from his gut, Jayne captured River's face between his big hands and kissed a respondin' groan from her. When her slender fingers eased beneath his waistbands, he facilitated his last garments removal with a shimmy of his hips. He stepped out his clothes as he kneeled back on the bed and lowered his girl to lie on her back again. He deftly flicked her panties from her enthusiastic form, and only when they broke for air again did he lever himself back onto his knees to straddle her recumbent figure.
Running a lazy hand down his face and chest, River smiled enticingly up at her mercenary. How she loved having her very own protector, one who chased away all her demons yet let himself be vulnerable enough to love her. Her heart swelled once again at the memory of his gruffly voiced acknowledgement of love, as he bared the final piece of his soul to her, and in public no less. She knew now his devotion would never sway, only grow day by day until the 'Verse itself was dwarfed by its size.
Jayne's heart thundered at the ardent expression on his girl's face as she ran her fingertips across his eager skin. No matter how many times he saw her like this he knew he would never drink his fill of her beauty. His blunt fingers tenderly stroked down her throat, outlined her clavicle, and roved down her sternum. He deftly used their roughness to elicit heavier pants from her as his fingertips skimmed back and forth across her nipples before trailing lower to count her ribs.
River arched off the bed for fuller contact with his hands when they leisurely trekked across her stomach. She could barely take in enough oxygen as she felt his love pour into her with every touch. This was the same as it had always been yet their confessions had fundamentally altered every fiber of their beings so every moment was simultaneously brand-new. Twisting raggedly against her pillows, she wasn't certain how much longer she could wait to hold him in her arms and let their love surge through her.
Bending down, Jayne blew passion across her skin while his hands slipped beneath her. As his hands supported the cradle of her hips and his lips smoothed across her stomach, he thought maybe someday.
"Someday the light will be theirs." River whispered.
Jayne rested his cheek on her abdomen. She could feel his tears pool in her navel as he mumbled against her skin, "This hurts."
She ran soothing fingers through his hair and brushed away his tears when he lifted his face to peer bewilderedly up at her.
"It's never hurt before. Why does it hurt now? Shouldn't it feel better?" The innocence in his bright blue eyes stole her breath for a moment.
"It does. That's why it hurts," assured River.
Jayne lowered his head back to her stomach and wrapped his arms around her hips, huggin' her securely to him. He had always known love was not something to fool with, but he had never imagined the exquisite pain which came with this forever after feeling. He wasn't sure he was strong enough to bear much more.
Needing to be one with him, knowing he needed it to, River reached down and gently raised his face into the sunshine of her love. Smiling, she said the words necessary to complete their bond. "Make love to me."
Eyes wide, Jayne stopped breathing. He was afraid the words were merely an illusion. "Me?"
River beamed even more broadly as she slid a hand down to cover his heart. "Words are easier to find here."
Jayne felt the prick of tears once more as he inhaled like a drownin' man who had just broken the surface of the water. Delicately framin' her face with his strong hands, he devotedly smiled into her eyes as he settled his body across hers. He kissed her breathless as his hands feathered down her body to verify she was really ready for him because he knew this moment was too important to rush.
River's heart turned over at the gentle probing of his hands. No one would ever believe how caring and considerate he was every time he touched her. He never pushed or demanded; he simply followed where she led, even if that meant leading her forward inch by inch. She had never been allowed to learn in such an open and accepting atmosphere with no hidden motivations. He wanted them both to feel pleasure and would not proceed unless they both did.
Moanin' at the slickness between her thighs, Jayne knew she needed him as much as he needed her. He drew back from their kiss to hold her gaze as he slipped his knees between hers. As their arms wrapped around each other, he gently cupped her bottom and unhurriedly slid his body into her willing warmth.
Their knowledge of each other combined with the newness of their love to build an astonishing symphony of textures and emotions. They were swept away by the pounding rhythm. Unable to bear the beautiful ache alone, they kissed more deeply than they had ever kissed her before, so deeply their souls merged as they rode the music to its ultimate crescendo calling out each other's names.
Struggling for breath and composure, the strength of their embrace never wavered as their kisses slowed and their silent tears of joy mixed with the perspiration of their love. As their heartbeats gradually returned to normal, their languorous bodies shifted to rest facing one another side-by-side. Their humble yet carefree smiles punctuated their shared intimacy.
Jayne gently brushed the sweat slicked tendrils off River's face. She was flushed and glowing and the brightness of her sated smile nearly burst his heart. He had been alone for so many years that he had long ago given up hope of ever findin' someone with whom to share his life, but she was here now and he would never let her go.
Peerin' into the perfection of her face, he had only one regret. "I wish--"
Knowing his unspoken wish, River covered his soft lips with loving fingers. She smiled wisely and shook her head. "No regrets."
"But--" Jayne could not shake this one blemish on their relationship. No matter how many times they made love he knew he would never be able to forgive himself for the manner in which he took her innocence.
"Would he have ever touched her if not for the incident at the jail?" asked River as her fingers stole into his hair.
His eyebrows scrunched together. "I--"
"Would he have continued to have fantasies about her?" She inquired as her body shifted closer.
His eyebrows twisted ruefully. "I--"
"Would he have ever approached her to turn those fantasies into reality?" She breathed across his lips.
His eyes widened. "I--"
River smiled, her expression open and honest and true. "She would not change the past because to do so would change where they are now. And she would not change where they are now. Not for anything. So, no regrets."
She dipped her head forward and kissed him, her lover, her friend, her mercenary, her Jayne.
In that moment, Jayne believed her and finally found within himself the ability to forgive himself. He would never be broken again.
Their kiss had never been as sweet, as the wine of forgiveness flowed through them. They caressed with steady hands feeling the unbreakable chains bind them even closer.
Just as their tenderness began turning to hunger once more, banging suddenly interrupted their interlude.
They jumped at the unexpected intrusion.
"Hey, y'all better stop the sexin' cuz it's time for the li'l albatross to take the helm so I can get drunk like any self-respectin' Captain Daddy at a time like this."
River and Jayne blinked, trying to clear the haze of passion.
Mal hammered on the hatchway again. "You hear me in there?"
"Yeah, Mal, we hear ya!" growled Jayne.
"And, Jayne, you get to haul our asses to our rooms when we're totally sauced. Simon's nearly there already. So get dressed and start with him." Mal paused for a second before adding, "And you ain't allowed to hit back when we take the inevitable swings at you. Just let us fall flat on our faces. Dong ma?"
The Captain followed this pronouncement with by more banging.
Rollin' his eyes, Jayne hollered, "Yeah, Mal. I'll be there in five."
Jayne and River looked deeply into one another's eyes, remembering all they had shared today and in the past, and recognizing all they would share in the future.
Sighing, River slanted an eyebrow and said, "Okay, maybe one regret."
As their smiles widened and their joyous laughter rang out, they fiercely embraced once more, and Jayne realized he would never tire of the feel of River's laughter against his skin.