Disclaimer: The wonderful characters and the good ship Serenity all belong to Joss Whedon, or Mutant Enemy, or Fox, or whoever actually owns them, and that person or entity is definitely not me. Written for amusement purposes only.

Universal Truth: Rayne: Most. Addictive. Pairing. Ever.

Rating: M for language

Summary: River wants Jayne's attention; Jayne wants an excuse. Fluff. Post BDM.

Charming Jayne

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy

Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?

She can bake a cherry pie

Quick as a cat can wink her eye.

She's a young thing

And cannot leave her mother.

- Old English Ballad


Jayne heard the slight metallic sound of something small and hard hitting the large metal disc on the right side of the weight suspended over his head. He vowed to ignore it.


Jayne scowled in annoyance, trying to keep his concentration intact as he hefted the barbell straight up and down, counting silently. He intended to complete his reps. He was almost finished. Since she was unusually late today, he thought he'd actually get through his workout without a visit from insane psychic genius assassin. But no.

Ping. Giggle.

Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Thunk. He felt one of the objects hit him directly on the chest. It kinda stung.

Fuck it. He dropped the weight back into its rest with a clang and ducked his head out to sit up.

"What the hell you throwin' at me, moonbrain?" He demanded loudly, his face red with exertion and anger.

"Not throwing." She was sitting above him on a stack of crates, swinging her slender legs, her pretty feet bared, as usual.

"What?" he snarled in disbelief. Did she really think she could get away with this go se? "Then I must be as crazy as you, 'cause I definitely felt something hittin' me."

"Spitting." She shrugged.

"Yeah, I'm spittin' mad this time. Just 'cause I don't shoo you away every day don't mean I need your company, dong ma?" He lurched to his feet, a big, bad, muscular man with a seriously pissed-off attitude. "And I do not have to take you throwin' shit at me!"

She awarded him a cheeky wink, unconcerned.

"Oh, you wanna go, little witch? Bring it! I ain't no dumb-ass reaver." Jayne made the statement boldly, even knowing in his head that she would probably serve him up a proper butt-kicking. But she wouldn't kill him, he didn't think, and he might get his hands on her enough so's he could wring that graceful little neck…

"Not throwing. Spitting." River clarified briefly, smiling down at him. Her big brown eyes were alight with amusement. She rolled something around in her mouth, and suddenly her lips pursed and she p'tooed a small dark object at him.

Jayne caught it in his fist (she wasn't the only one with good reflexes) and took a look. It was a cherry pit. She had just hawked a ruttin' cherry pit at him.

"These are good." River gave an appreciative smack as she held up his little white cardboard box of ripe, red, delicious cherries, purchased only this morning and at great expense.

"Ta ma de," he whispered hoarsely. He could not fucking believe she was eatin' his fucking cherries. "You stole my cherries!"

She beamed down at him.

"You should know better than anyone, Jayne. Stolen food tastes better."

Jayne felt a white-hot buzz in his head. He had gone beyond mad now. No one, NO ONE, took his food. Yeah, he'd bought extra, and yeah, it had crossed his mind that sharin' those cherries with his little workout buddy might be nice. But he hadn't decided yet, and now she'd gone and eaten them before he could make a gesture.

Without conscious thought, working purely on instinct, he reached out both hands and grasped her slim ankles, yanking her down. River slid off the slippery metal crate with a startled shriek, and landed roughly in his arms. She looked up at him, her red-tinted lips rounded in astonishment. He could tell she was wondering why she hadn't known he was going to do that.

"Stolen things taste better, huh?" he growled, and wrapping one big fist in the stretchy material of her t-shirt, he hauled her up to his mouth and stole the kiss that he'd been thinkin' on for months now.

She tasted sweet, like the cherries, and vaguely salty, like a woman. She even tasted a little bit medicinal, not surprising with all the drugs her brother pumped into her to help her sleep at night. But, all in all, she tasted clean and fresh and young, and Jayne savored each sensation with a thrill of delight. He used his other hand to cup her finely sculpted jaw, his hand so big his fingers speared into the hair beneath her ear. He sent his tongue sliding even further into her mouth, trying to hold back the moan building in his throat. His knees almost buckled when he felt the first tentative brush of her tongue in return. She wrapped her arms around his waist, spilling some cherries from the box she still held, and neither of them noticed the little red globes tumble merrily across the floor.

At last they broke apart. Jayne was pole-axed. He had never imagined that kissin' River would be like that. It was better than cherries. Stolen or not, it was better than anything else in the world.

River looked around shakily, and saw the cherries rolling at her feet. She gave a strange half-laugh, and moved away, stooping to pick them up.

"Never mind about them," Jayne said urgently, reaching for her again.

"No, no, it's important. I hear an old song in my head, a song about cherries…and pie…" she hummed a little tune. "It's telling me something I have to understand."

"What's so all-fire important about some song?" He gave a snort of aggravation as he latched onto her hips and tried to pull her to him.

"It's about the man I'm going to marry," she whispered, staring at the cherries in her palm.

"Huh?" That got his attention.

River was mouthing some words silently, growing more and more agitated.

She broke off with a little cry of amazement, and reached up to caress Jayne's cheek tenderly.

"He overlooks her shortcomings, praises her talents, and he is resolute in the face of parental opposition. Don't you see? I can leave my mother! I can bake a cherry pie for Billy Boy!" River declared triumphantly, her eyes shining up at him. Clutching the half-full container to her chest, she whirled away in the direction of the stairs leading to the kitchen.

"Not with my gorram cherries you ain't!" he bellowed after her automatically. Jayne stared blankly at the empty space recently occupied by soft, pretty, sweet-smelling, sexy crazy girl. He rubbed his mouth in disbelief. River, the cherries, River, the kiss, the cherries, the kiss… Confusion, frustrated desire and newly awakened jealousy flashed through his big body. Jayne Cobb didn't deal well with any of those emotions individually, much less simultaneously.

"Who the hell is Billy?" He suddenly roared, and stomped off in possessive indignation to claim what was his: the fruit, and the girl.

Oh, where have you been, Jayne Cobb, Jayne Cobb?

Oh, where have you been, Charming Jayne?

I have been to seek a wife,

She's the joy of my life.

She's a young thing,

And cannot leave her brother.

- River's Version

A/N: I saw a reference to this song the other day, and it reminded me of Jayne & River. (What doesn't?) "Billy Boy" has English, Irish and American versions. It's also known as "Willie the Lad" and "Charming William." The song is modeled after the Scottish ballad "Lord Randal," written at the end of the 18th century. Here endeth the lesson!