"Damnit, Mal, I'd treat her alright."

"She's not to be bought! Nor bartered, or borrowed, or lent. She's a human woman who doesn't know damn thing about the world and needs our protection."

"Oh, I'll protect her."

"Jayne. Go play with your rain stick."

With that parting shot, Mal turned and loped down the stairs before Jayne could come up with a suitable comeback. Cussing the hell out of the stingy captain for not knowing a good trade when he saw one, Jayne stomped across the catwalk in the direction of his bunk. Honestly now, did Mal really think that some brainless bit of tail who did whatever she was told with no second thought to nobody was better than his prize rifle? Vera was a lot more useful, did as she was told, just the same, and since she didn't talk, she couldn't clutter the air with senseless, girly, gobbledygook.

Giggles from near 'Nara's shuttle door caught his ear, and Jayne bit back a growl at being caught in humiliation by the crazy girl. He turned to find her leaning her arms against the rail, and sort of bouncing on the balls of her feet. Her eyes followed the captain down the stairs before they turned to take in Jayne and Vera. She cocked her head as she stared at the rifle.

"You see somethin' funny here, girl?"

"She's mad at you. Not nice trying to trade her," she said.

He glanced guiltily down at the gun in his grip.

"No worries, Jayne," the girl assured him. She turned her face back to watch the Captain and his new wife as they conversed in the bay below them. "She's not a good match for you, and certainly not for the Captain. Be glad he didn't take the trade soon enough. Elder Gomman gave you the better gift—though she's lying about that too."

"How the hell you know that?" Jayne demanded.

The girl glanced at him. "You'll see. Go make up with Vera. Give her a massage and tell her she's pretty. Take her out dancing later."

"Guns don't dance."

"Guns don't. Weapons do."

"Not any that I ever seen."

"Eleven months and twenty-three days until you retract that statement."

She pushed away from the rail, and glided away, quiet as a cat.

"Just what the hell does that mean?" he called after her.

"The rain is scarce, comes only when it's most needed. And so it is with men like you," she repeated the Elder's words.

"What does that mean?! Hey! Girl! I'm talkin' at you! Ai ya, huai le, nobody on this boat takes me seriously.