Author's Note: A brief wander out of the worlds belonging to J.K.Rowling into one of those belonging to Joss Whedon. The characters aren't mine, sad to say, but I enjoyed my little dip into their thoughts and made no profit thereby.
SET DIRECTLY AFTER SERENITY - NO REAL SPOILERS BUT IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO LET PEOPLE KNOW.
The Whole Of The Thing
Jayne has never been a man for poetry. Or for words at all, come to that. Never had an eye for things like scenery and kittens and stars and all the things other folks seem to think are so pretty. Women - he likes women, likes the way they curve in and out, the little subtle angles of them that make them so nice to look at and touch. And he likes a good gun, like Vera, all graceful proportions and smooth metal. Vera is beautiful in his eyes, but he knows that he's alone in this, and doesn't talk much about it. Serenity is beautiful, too, in her battered way, and he likes to look at her from the outside and admire the way her curves all tuck in nicely into her framework, fitting into herself just right.
And River is beautiful. Crazy-girl makes him nervous, still, but now he's seen the beauty in her and it stays with him. He feels it, although he could never explain it to anyone and he'd probably get fed his own balls if he said anything to the rest of the crew. They wouldn't understand.
There's nothing wrongful in his admiration, no matter what he knows they'd think. River is a child, or little more, and he doesn't go that way. But she is beautiful as Vera is beautiful, like a gun crafted of perfect muscle and bone, a weapon of a girl who dances through violence like a knife-blade flashing through the air. Jayne has always enjoyed a good brawl, and he flatters himself he's pretty damned good, but River's graceful force leaves him breathless. He has wondered if she could teach him to blur into the fight until he is the fight, the way she does, but he doesn't dare ask.
He wonders if she would accept the gift of a gun. He has many, and would never ordinarily give one up because he loves them all. But she would take good care of it, he thinks, and the sight of her with steel and lead flowing from her hands would be a fine one. He has a small gun that has never fitted his broad hands, but that would dance in hers. It is as finely crafted as she is, with the same spare, functional beauty. He likes looking at them both, just sitting and running his eyes over something a lot prettier than any ruttin' sunset.
He thinks that she knows how he sees her - being psychic, she probably knew before he did, now that he thinks about it. He's not sure what she thinks, but she's been less twitchy around him lately, and he hopes that means she doesn't mind.
Jayne thinks she is beautiful, and River doesn't know what to think. She understands lust, though she does not feel it, and it disturbs her. She knows love, insofar as it applies to Simon, and she has sensed passion and tenderness and infatuation, and they disturb her too. Jayne's admiration is none of those things. He does not desire her, which is a relief. She would have to kill him just to prevent the confusion from spiraling out of control.
But he sees the weapon she has been made into, and he does not fear it. Jayne likes weapons. He loves his gun Vera as if it were a pet or a person, thinks it beautiful as he thinks River is beautiful. To him she is a girl-Vera, a perfectly made thing-that-is-more-than-a-thing. He does not think she is broken or damaged or wrong in some way, not any more. He ignores her shattered mind-parts as if they are the oil or soot or dirt that sometimes mark even the most flawless weapon.
The idea that weapon-River may be admirable is new, and it disturbs her. Simon thinks that being a weapon makes her broken, and the captain thinks it makes her inhuman, and the others are made fearful by her. She expects those feelings, and she shares them, so they are understandable.
But Jayne thinks she is beautiful when she fights, like Vera or like Serenity herself, their mother-ship who contains them all and makes them one. He sees her fight, and it is like poetry, like music, like a dance whose steps he longs to learn. He sees the whole of River, all her girl-weapon parts, and he thinks they are a whole that is worthy of wholeness. He is the only person in all the 'verse, so far as she knows, who does not think that she should be changed in some way, and she doesn't understand it. Surely River-the-weapon is a bad and frightening thing. Everyone thinks so, except for Jayne.
But she finds that she likes the wholeness she has in his eyes, and when he is near, she feels herself settling into the shape his mind has made for her, a shape where all her parts fit and are supported by each other. A girl-weapon shape that is a made thing but crafted and fine and none the worse for not having grown of herself.
So she seeks him out more these days, and he doesn't mind. She has used his weights, the lightest ones, and he didn't growl, so she thinks he doesn't mind that either. She wonders if he would give her a gun, if she asked for one. She thinks he would trust her with it now. He even enjoys her presence, sometimes, when they sit quiet and he polishes his guns and she sharpens her axe and her sword and they are peaceful amidst the shining, deadly steel that is as beautiful in its way as the curve of a planet from space or the sun shining on the sea. As beautiful as he thinks she is.
She doesn't know what to think, and wonders if he may be as mad as she has sometimes been, but she likes the way it feels.