Boo

Fic inspired by a comment Adam Baldwin gave during an interview. He calls his revolver Boo and his blade Binky.

River watched for a moment as Jayne carefully set his weapons on the table, much like the Captain did, only a bit more – lovingly. Her head tilted and she wondered at the care and concern he held for the weapons and the seemingly gruff exterior he portrayed to the crew. Inside his heart, she knew there was a person, not just a killer – very much like herself. But few people ever saw it. He was rough around the edges and he liked it that way.

"Peeka."

Jayne jumped and whirled around in his seat, clutching his most favorite knife, and scowled fiercely as soon as he realized River had snuck up on him yet again. "Gorramit, moonbrain, didn't I tell ya to stop doin' do that? Gonna end up bein' filleted on account a them soft footsteps."

River smiled and Jayne refused to admit that it still unnerved him something fierce that she could so easily sneak up on him.

"Simon doesn't like it either."

"Well that's because ya keep catchin' 'em with his pants down," Jayne laughed, remembering the red-faced doctor trying to discipline his near eighteen year old sister for catching him in an embarrassing position with Kaylee. Jayne fought the jealous sneer that fought for dominance on his face. Boy didn't really know how good he had it.

River wrinkled her nose as his thoughts rushed through her head. "Not my fault he can't keep them up when he's around Kaylee."

Jayne opened his mouth to let loose a crude remark about everything being up when around the bubbly mechanic, but thought better of it when River's eyes slowly shifted to the knife he still held in his hand.

"Binky." River grinned playfully and reached out to touch the blade.

Jayne snorted and snapped it out of her reach, swearing beneath his breath.

River leaned over, her long hair nearly brushing the floor. "Your secret is safe with me."

"Ain't no secret, girl," Jayne snapped, still annoyed. "I name all my girls." He caressed the handle of his favorite knife and slid it into its sheath.

"Doesn't everyone?" Mal walked in at that moment and shot a quick glance toward the table before moving to the cubbies to get himself a bowl.

River's head swiveled to look over at Mal. "Do you name yours after –"

"Hey now!" Jayne stood quickly, cutting off River's next statement. "No need to go tellin' where the girls got their names."

"Don't your 'girls' already have names, Jayne?" Simon walked in from the passenger dorms, his clothes as clean and pressed as he was able to get them nowadays. "Or do you give them each the same one so you don't have to remember in the morning?"

"Shut it, prissy pants,"

River smiled proudly at her brother. He'd grown in the time they'd been on the ship. Being able to effectively jab back at Jayne was a big step for him. Not to mention, or even think about – because she didn't like to, how Kaylee had gotten him to loosen up.

"Could ya at least cover them marks so we don't gotta know what you an' lil' Kaylee been up to all night?" Jayne sneered with disgust at Simon's inability to effectively cover a very large hickey Kaylee had left on his neck.

River could sense Jayne's unrequited interest but said nothing.

"Much as I'm enjoyin' the verbal banter," Mal returned to the table with a bowl and glass. "Need to clean this up. Ain't eatin' a meal with all manner of weapons sittin' on it."

Jayne glanced incredulously up at the Captain. "Since when?"

An amused smile spread across Simon's face and as Kaylee walked in behind him, he trailed after her into the kitchen to help her prepare the morning meal.

"Boo!" River appeared at Jayne's shoulder again, startling him as his battle of wills with the Captain afforded him no other distractions.

"Ah!" Jayne fingered his pistol, missing parts as it was since he'd been cleaning it. "Gorramit moonbrain."

River cocked her head and grinned. "Not functional, Jayne. Do you plan to hit me over the head with it?"

Mal raised an eyebrow as Simon stepped into the room to stop whatever action he thought Jayne was going to take against his sister.

"Jayne's not functional?" Simon said with a grin that bordered on laughter. "Why am I not –"

"Shut it, priss," Jayne snapped, before returning his attention toward River. But she spoke before he could form an appropriate retort.

"Boo is broken."

"Boo?" Mal and Simon said together, exchanging mystified looks.

"She ain't broken, Crazy."

River frowned. "Dropped her one too many times. No peeka left in Boo."

Jayne growled as he gathered the various parts and began to assemble the weapon.

"What'd I tell you about –"

Jayne didn't bother to look up, simply kept working to put his pistol back together. "She messed with Boo, Mal. I gotta find out what she did."

"Boo?" Kaylee asked, an amused smile forming on her face.

"He names all his weapons," River nodded formally before returning her attention to Jayne, frantically snapping each piece into place.

"River doesn't touch guns," Simon started to defend his sister but then reconsidered finishing the statement and amended, "any more."

Mal crossed his arms. Everyone waited while Jayne finished assembling his pistol and raised it with a frown. He glanced at River, who simply met his gaze innocently.

"What'd ya do to 'er?"

"You still have Binky. Reavers damaged Boo."

"Binky?" Simon, Mal and Kaylee asked, at the same time and with the same amount of bewilderment.

"Reaver's didn't touch 'er, Moonbrain," Jayne stood and slid 'Binky' out of her sheath, "You did. Now what'd you do?"

"Binky is an adequate substitute for hand to hand, but you'll need Vera for greater distances." River spoke as if she were instructing a class on fighting techniques.

"Binky's gonna be tastin' some moonbrain blood you don't tell me –"

"Don't threaten my sister," Simon took a step forward but Kaylee slid her hand around his arm, preventing him from advancing further. He'd walk into a room full of Reavers, blindfolded and unarmed in defense of his sister and she knew that taking on Jayne would yield very similar results so she held him back.

"Can't hurt me, Simon," River smiled in that odd, crazy way that made everyone's hair stand on end.

"Good morning, everyone," Inara said with a smile as she glided into the galley.

Mal's gaze instantly swept over her silk-robed form and he swallowed thickly as she moved toward them.

"Boo's broken. Binky's not suitable for long range –"

"Boo?"

"You start runnin', Moonbrain," Jayne hissed, and dropped a hand to his knife, "we'll see just how far Binky can fly."

"Binky?" Inara asked, her eyes flitting around the room as an amused smile graced her painted lips.

"He names all his girls," Simon drawled, his smile mirroring the one growing exponentially on Inara's face.

"I – see." The Companion fell silent as she moved away to get a bowl and glass.

"Should tell them how they got their names," River said helpfully. "Open up. Show a bit of –"

"Aint tellin' 'em nothin', Crazy, an' you better not –"

But River paid no attention, simply turned to the crew and began to spill Jayne's secrets. "Binky was his security blanket when he was little. Boo was a ghost."

Jayne tensed, crystal clear eyes shooting daggers at River's back but, then sank back into his seat, defeated, when he realized his secret was out. Ending the moonbrain's life wouldn't change it.

Simon struggled not to laugh outright. "Did Binky protect you from Boo?"

"Laugh it up, Doc. I know where you sleep," Jayne threatened, casting a quick glance toward Kaylee. "Both places."

Kaylee wrapped a protective arm around Simon and pouted at Jayne, though her bottom lip quivered with mirth.

River rolled her eyes at her brother. "Boo was a friendly ghost, Simon. She was Jayne's first love."

Jayne groaned and began to gather the other weapons he had lying on the table.

Mal opened his mouth but River scowled at him and he clamped it shut again. River smiled sadly at Jayne as she sensed the sad memories flow through his mind. "But she ran away. Broke his heart."

"I was six, girlie, ain't –"

"First girl you ever loved," River interrupted. "And the last."

"That's so sad," the ever romantic Kaylee offered, the smile having vanished off her face as the story unfolded.

"Yeah, heartbreaking," Mal said as he pulled out his chair and glanced over at Kaylee and Simon. "Weren't you two cooking breakfast this morning?"

Jayne rolled his weapons into a protective cloth and moved toward the doorway, River on his heels. He stopped only when he felt her small hand come to rest on his arm. "You'll find your Boo again."

She didn't miss the look he shot toward Simon and Kaylee, as they moved toward the kitchen to finish cooking.

Jayne snorted and continued on his way, leaving River staring after him, through him, in a rather odd way. With a small smile, she lifted her eyes to the ceiling and whispered, "Time to come back."

A breeze tickled her face and ruffled her hair and River turned back and joined her friends in the galley, satisfied that she had completed yet another assignment in her quest to atone for all the evil she had been programmed to do.

END

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