Title: Yu Ben

Pairing: implied Rayne

Rating: PG-13

Author's Notes: I've said it before; I can only write these stories when I am deeply depressed. This one was no different. It's not terribly long, only 3,230 words. I don't have much to say about it other then I am deeply paranoid that everyone is grossly out of character, but Mik109 told me they aren't so I won't worry about it.

Other parts of the "mini series" that I've decided to name "Qian Zou Qu Wei Yi Wen" (which if you translate will tell you exactly where I plan on ending the series)

Mik109, as always, was my wonderful beta and I thank her profusely for not getting annoyed with me.

---------------------------

His neck was itchin' somethin' fierce, which usually meant he was bein' watched. In his line of work, bein' watched was never a good thing an' his first reaction was to find someplace he could hole up for a while.

Thing was he was sittin' in the mess on the ship, where nothin' bad could happen. Well, okay, that weren't all true. There was plenty a bad to go on when you was on this ship. It's just it were less likely was all.

No matter how unlikely it were, fact a' the matter was he was bein' stared at by someone.

He chanced a look around him, makin' sure to keep it real unnoticeable and not move his head none. Mal an' Zoe were chattin' it up at the end of the table, Kaylee was cleanin' somethin' or another over just to his side at the smaller table, an 'Nara was drinkin' her tea towards that end makin' small talk with the mechanic.

That left him with only two people, one of which would explain the kinda queasy feelin' that'd taken over him an' the other… well that would explain the exact same feelin', just it would have different meanin'.

His heart started to beat a bit faster an' he coulda swore the temperature'd gone up a bit too. Gorramit, he'd been too enthralled with the prospect of lunch. If'n he'da just taken a minute, he'da noticed which Tam was in the kitchen, but no he sat himself right down an' dug in…

Wait a second. There'd been a bowl served right at his seat, ready to go soon as he sat down. An' the food weren't burnt or overcooked or nothin'. There was no way it could be Simon, Doc couldn't cook a good tastin' meal to save his gorram life.

Kaylee said it was 'cause he never got taught an' he'd spent all his time learin' how to fix folk, which Jayne'd always thought was a load of go se. No one'd ever taught River how to cook, an' she'd spent all her time gettin' her brain… all her time at the Academy. Didn't take more'n a day in the kitchen watchin' everyone cook things an' lookin' over the late Shepherd's left behind cookbook to figure out what's what. Now, she could cook with the best of 'em.

Jayne breathed a sigh of relief at this revelation before the all too familiar tight feeling in his chest started up again. If'n it weren't Simon behind him, that meant it was River, an' that meant she was starin' at him with those deep brown eyes a' hers. She'd probably be tiltin' her head in that way she does when she's studyin' somethin' she found interesting.

Jayne rolled his neck tryin' to work out some of the tension that'd built up. He looked around once again, guilt probably written clear on his face. Weren't right how excited the idea of her starin' at him like he was somethin' interestin' made him.

The girl had been actin' a bit off as of late, and not off like'n she used to be. Naw, it was more like she was tryin' to figure somethin' out. Sure that brought up all kindsa bad thoughts on his part, like what if she knew an' was tyring to figure out the best way to tell him off, or, hell, kill him for all he knew.

The more he thought about it, and he thought about it more than was possibly healthsome, the more he felt the whole thing was just… yu ben. So what if he had feelin's for her? Didn't make him a bad guy or anythin', well, anymore so than he already was. An' even if she knew, which he became less an' less sure of whether he thought she did every day, she didn't bring it up none, so it must not bother her all that much. An' the same thing went for the crew; it weren't none of their business anyhow.

Actually, when he really thought about it, the whole situation wasn't the only yu ben thing. Nope, he was most certainly yu ben to have let it go this far. Time he started actin' like he ought to, how a mercenary should act in this situation. He had to tell her, an' if'n she felt the same way, well they could… do things… things that people in those kind of i relationships /i did… an' if'n she didn't, then he could just move on. Heck, their next stop was Persephone anyhow.

"Jayne!"

Jayne's head snapped up to see Mal glaring at him. "Huh?"

"I asked you what the hell your lunch did to piss you off?"

"Nothin'." He answered gruffly, annoyed at Mal for snapping him out of his very important thoughts. The man lived to interrupt folk. "Was just thinkin' 's all."

Mal gave Jayne a long questioning look. "Just don't hurt yourself." He turned back to his lunch, poking a large clump with his chop sticks. "I need you to help Zoe move all those crates when we land."

Mal caught Zoe giving him a look from the corner of his eye. "What? I can't help… I've got other very important things to do…" he said making sure to emphasize his point with a jut of his chop sticks. Zoe raised an eyebrow and kept staring at him. "I helped last time." He stated in a slightly whining tone.

Jayne glared at Mal for that comment. Just like the captain to treat him like some kind of pack animal… a pack animal that had real good aim. An' sure as shit he had to go an' make sure everyone knew that he weren't the brightest star in the 'Verse right as he was tryin' to build up some much needed… whatever it was he needed to get to tellin' River how he felt. It weren't courage. He had plenty of courage an' no little slip of a girl was gonna make him any less couragey.

Jayne looked back down at his bowl of food, more like the bowl his food had been in because he had already scarfed it all down. It'd be easy to just sneak back on down to his bunk and pretend things were as they always were.

He clutched his fork in a white-knuckled grip. No way was he gonna take the easy way out of this. What happened to all that "actin' like he ought to" stuff? He had to stick to his guns now, an' he always had liked his guns.

Just before he was about to get up an' march into the kitchen to tell River exactly what had been on his mind for goin' on two months now, Kaylee decided to butt in. "Are you two ever gonna eat? Or are you to busy tryin' to figure out how she did it, boa bei?"

Jayne froze, a look of dread passing over his face. No way his luck was so bad that the day he'd finally decided to go for it she'd be over there with her brother. He could handle tellin' her in front of most of the crew, but not her brother.

Jayne was a proud man an' Simon's blatant disapproval of him had rubbed him the wrong way since day one. That stick in the mud Core boy had hated him ever since he joined the crew, an' that was just as a person. Weren't no tellin' what he would do if'n he was around when Jayne told River… ya know.

An' there weren't no chance in hell he would try an' broach the topic of his feelin's when he had no clue how River felt about the whole gorram thing, least of all in front of the snotty little Doctor. Last thing he needed was Simon havin' another reason to feel more superior.

"I know how she did it," Simon said from his spot next to River. "Unfortunately knowing something and doing something are two very different things."

Well, that was ruttin' fitting, Jayne'd almost scoffed at the Doc's comment. Was like he had some of River's freaky mind reading thing to his name, maybe them bein' related wasn't as hard to imagine as he'd always thought.

"Go sit down Simon." River urged, giving her brother a playful nudge with the arm she wasn't using to stir lunch with.

Simon gave River a long hard look before giving her a small smirk. "I'm fine where I am, mei mei."

River stared at back at Simon just as hard, though the look held a bit more pleading rather than stubborn denial. "You haven't eaten yet." She said, raising an eyebrow at her nosey brother. This was just like him; to try to delay something even he knew was inevitable for as long as humanly possible.

"Neither have you."

The siblings began a silent glaring match in the kitchen just behind Jayne, who refused to look up from his tightly clutched cutlery. The image would have been hilarious had it not been so very... very sad. It was time to take charge again. It was the captainly thing to do.

"River," Mal said as offhandedly as he could as he secretly attempted to toy with the personal lives of a good portion of his crew, yet again. "I need you to go an' check how long it'll be 'til we get to Persephone."

River gave Simon a small grin. "We'll be landing in 37.428 hours, Captain." She said, never once looking away from Simon.

"Don't you love how she just knows these things?" Mal asked Zoe with a small grin before he turned to give the pair a bemused look, neither seemed willing to be the first to look away. "Think it's changed since you last did that… math… thing you do."

River furrowed her brow slightly, still attempting to stare Simon down. "What do you mean?"

"Yeah, Kaylee did something with the engine." He said, shooting a look over at Kaylee.

Kaylee stared at Mal completely confused as he tried to let her in on his oh-so-brilliant plan with nothing but his eyes. Realization hit Kaylee and her face brightened instantly. "Oh! Oh yeah, I switched a few wires around… tried some new fluid treatments on her an…"

"Might change now fast we're goin'." Mal cut in. It was a wonder how the girl could go on and on about the little things she does to the ship, even if she just made 'em up.

"Can't she check after eating?"

Mal glared over at Simon, secretly rooting for River to win the staredown. "No, she needs to check now…'for I forget to make her do it."

"She's perfectly capable of remembering to recalibrate…"

"Then 'cause it was an order." Mal cut him off, a slight edge to his voice.

Simon blinked and rolled his eyes before turning to glare at the captain, an unusual change from the other brute he had taken to glaring at for the last week.

Mal shot him an infuriately smug grin. "Go an' check, River."

River put the spoon she had been using to stir the food down and shot Simon a final glare. "Don't touch the food. Would like to have something edible when I come back." She said sternly as she breezed past her brother.

"Fine, if it burns it's not my fault." Simon said as he walked over towards the table.

"If it burns, it's always your fault, Doc." Mal smirked.

Simon glared at the captain as he took the empty seat next to him. "And this is your fault too."

"All you had to do was sit down."

Simon glared at Mal as Kaylee sat next to him, giving her bao bei a small side hug.

Jayne fought the urge to run out of the mess, an' leave the awkward silence that had fallen there. Everyone was actin' gorram insane and it was startin' to really bug him.

First, Simon had taken to glarin' at him. Well, more so than usual, he didn't even hafta say somethin' crude and the Doc was already glarin'. The others would be talkin' in hushed voices and would clam up soon as he entered the room. The girls, excludin' River of course, would stare at him and give him funny looks. Mal'd look at him like he was tryin' to plan his next job. An' they'd all high tail it if'n he an' the girl ended up in the same room together, or they'd turn around and leave if they noticed that they were already in the same room together.

Jayne looked around the table at each member of the crew. Inara an' Zoe were calm, but their eyes were tryin' to tell him something. Kaylee was giving him a sad little smile like she felt bad for him. Simon was glarin' daggers an'… other sharp objects at him. Then there was Mal, who was giving Jayne a long stare, weren't a glare or nothin', more like he was tryin' to decide something of his own.

"Wait a gorram second… You all know!"

"Know what Jayne?" Mal asked calmly, still staring at him.

"Know the way I feel about…" Jayne trailed off as he looked around the table again. "How?"

"Oh, Jayne… it's kinda obvious." Kaylee said with a warm grin.

"It's been goin' on for over two months, Jayne, even the Doc figured it out." Mal said gesturing towards Simon with his chopsticks.

Jayne's head snapped over to stare at Simon, who had taken to glaring at him again. Jayne sat a little straighter in his chair, no way was he gonna let the Doc make him sweat none.

"Ain't none of us mad, Jayne." Kaylee said with a small smile. "I think it's all manners of shiny."

"You ought to just tell her." Mal said picking through his lunch some more. "Get it over with so we can all move on. You can do it quick… like a band aid."

Jayne glared at the captain before shaking his head angrily. He shoved his chair back and looked around the whole table. "I'll be in my bunk." He said before turning and leaving.

Mal sighed as his merc stomped his way down the hall towards his bunk. He shook his head and turned to look at Simon. "Why're you makin' such a fuss? You know they're gonna be together no matter what you do. They're both stubborn as mules."

"I want to know why you're treating it like it's nothing, Captain."

Mal put his chopsticks down and glared at the doctor. "'Cause it ain't any of my business who does what with who on my ship." He said with such seriousness that everyone at the table had to do a double take. "Or so you've all made abundantly clear. Can't tell a one of you anything an' plan on it bein' followed." He muttered angrily into his forgotten bowl of… What the hell was it River had made them for lunch?

"I ignored all of this," he said gesturing between Jayne's chair and the bridge "for as long as I could, but everyone had to go an' start actin' all weird. I want my well oiled machine back." Mal stated firmly. "Where the only problem was me gettin' shot all the time… or minor engine malfunctions… or Alliance interference… kidnappings… gettin' double crossed… you know the usual." He finished strongly, hoping the trueness of his first statement wasn't lost in the, un-doubtedly equally true, later part. "I'd do just about anythin' to get your sister to stop mopin' about and to get my merc to stop thinkin' so much… It's creepy."

"Any possible relationship they could ever have borders on bestiality…"

Mal's face scrunched up in thought before he turned towards Simon. "How do you figure that?"

Simon stopped staring down the hallway towards the bridge, where his mei mei was, to stare at the Captain. "He's as smart as an Ox captain… and about as personable as one."

Jayne glared over his shoulder towards the mess, grumbling about nosey crew mates as he continued his way towards his bunk. He turned and found River standing right in front of him. "Son of a… gorramit girl, don't you know not to sneak up on a body like that? Likely to shoot you, you do things like that." He shouted angrily.

Jayne stared down at her slightly guiltily, could be she heard the whole conversation in the mess an' then where would he be? He took a deep breath as he stared down at her slightly downcast face. Good job yu ben. Sure he hadn't ever really done this feelin's thing before, but he was pretty gorram sure hurtin' the girl's feelin's was the wrong thing to do.

He took a deep breath and stared down at the girl, a sudden sense of dread filling his body. Weren't normal to have a reaction like that around the girl you're supposed to like, hell, weren't normal for him to have a reaction like that period. He was a gorram man who did not get afraid of little girls, with deep brown eyes that she used to see right through him.

Hell no, he weren't afraid of no one, least of all her. Didn't matter that she could kill him with her brain, or by crushing his pride and those few pesky feelin's that'd begun to pop up, but mostly the brain thing. He'd faced down people with guns, people who wanted him dead. She weren't nearly as threatin' as them, least not in the "I want you dead" kind of way. Though he'd be lyin' if he didn't say that he'd prefer those men with those guns at the moment, 'cause they weren't nearly as frightening. Frightening 'cause they couldn't kill him with there minds, it was all about the mind killing thing… nothing else…

"Didn't mean to yell at ya, it's just the..." He looks behind him into the mess again before looking back down into River's bright wide eyes. He stared into those eager eyes for a long moment before he swallowed past the lump in his throat.

"I'll be in my bunk." He said quickly before turning away from her and kicking his hatch open, just a little harder than he needed to.

River watched as Jayne disappeared down the hatch, and back into the safety of his bunk, with a small pout. He'd been so close! He had been plotting, and deciding, and doing all of the things he needed to do to finally tell her.

With a small stomp of her foot River, marched back down the hallway and into the mess. Honestly, he was as hopeless as Mal or Simon! At this rate he would never tell her how he felt, and they would be stuck exactly where they were forever.

River stepped back into the mess and looked at the crew that still sat there. Kaylee gave her a bright smile, Simon stared at her in panic, and Mal shot her an eager look. The captain had seemed to make it his personal goal to see her and Jayne together, River believed it was due to his unsuccessful first attempt. As she looked around the mess at the crew she decided something. Forever was far too long to wait.

The end