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.
Summary: River and Jayne discover that secret relationships are fun – for a while. Rayne. Post BDM. Rated M for language.
A/N: Sort of a continuation of "Charming Jayne." So more fluff, then a little angst (as angsty as I can get), then… fluff! And strange wedding customs.
The Joy of His Life
Chapter One: Nothing To See
Jayne wondered if he'd done somethin' extra good in some other life, 'cause he'd surely misbehaved in this one. There weren't any other explanation for it, when he thought on River. He still couldn't believe his good fortune, sometimes, but it was true: River Tam was his girl, and he'd never been happier.
After she'd gotten him riled up enough to kiss her that once, it had become easier and easier to find opportunities to kiss her again. In the cargo hold, behind some carefully stacked up crates, up in the stowed mule, on the bridge, once in her bunk, and that time things had gone pretty far. Jayne liked remembering that time. They'd wander away after jobs, supposedly to shop or weapon up, and then meet in some quiet corner of that day's crappy little town and get lost in each other. At first it had been fun, stealing away to be with her, and not always for foolin' around, either. They actually talked: about weapons, and flying the black, and growin' up, and killin' reavers, and Kaylee and Simon getting' married, and how much they still missed Wash and the Shepherd. River even told him some of what she could remember about the Academy and the Blue Hands. Jayne made her giggle with stories of his misadventures before (and after) he joined up with the crew of Serenity. River astounded him with her intelligence, and she made learning things fun. Jayne laughed more with River than he had in his entire life.
Jayne was getting tired of sneakin' around, though, and he'd never been one to be able to hide his feelings. River seemed content with the way things were, but he wanted to spend more time with her. He wanted to be able to kiss her good morning or pull her into his lap for a snuggle after his chores was done. And there was no denying he wanted to sex her up, too, that was becoming a powerful need. Without actually saying it out loud, he knew that he wasn't gettin' inside River until their relationship was official. He questioned River again, and again: Did any one of them know? Suspect anything? And she would shake her head, just as mystified. That kind of insulted Jayne, like it never entered their minds that a young, beautiful girl like River could feel that way about someone like him, even though he could scarcely believe it himself.
They got bolder. Zoë caught them in the galley, actually embracing. River was about to open the last bottle of apple juice when Jayne had pounced. Jayne's arms were wrapped around River's waist from behind, his face buried into the crook of her neck.
"Grow up, Jayne, and just let her have the juice before she beats you senseless," Zoë advised with distracted impatience. She grabbed a bottle of chilled water and left.
Jayne and River, frozen in place, moved away from each other uneasily.
"Her grief makes her inattentive." River whispered in explanation.
And then there was Mal – Mal, of all people – who came around a corner unexpectedly when they were in the common area, supposedly gettin' ready for a job. Plain as day, he saw Jayne with his hands up River's skirt, caressing her soft, slim thigh, and headin' north.
"I think my little assassin can cinch her own knife sheath at this point, Jayne." The captain snapped tetchily as he strode by. "Don't forget the extra clips."
Jayne had moved away from River as if she were on fire. He searched her face.
River shook her head, confounded.
"Oh, come on. Not a smidge? Nothin'?"
"No!" she confirmed, the shock of the moment making her tremble.
"I'm startin' to get the feeling I could sex you up on the table, right next to a big pot a protein, and no one'd even notice!" Jayne complained, pulling her to him for a comforting hug.
The final straw was Kaylee. River and Jayne had been doing some hull repairs, and Jayne knew that being out in the black always excited River, which in turn excited him. After they were finished Jayne had taken the opportunity to get at his girl while she was only half-out of her space suit, likin' how she was kinda sweaty and her River-scent was intensified from being contained. He had her bent over his arm, the helmet slipping off the back of her head, his hands inside the suit, slinking over her dampened curves, and his mouth plastered to hers in dizzying soul kiss.
"Did it go okay? I forgot to give ya - wo de ma!" Kaylee squeaked. She dropped the tools she was holding with a clatter, a distressed expression on her face.
Finally, Jayne thought, shock, apprehension and satisfaction coursing through him. Someone's gonna find out about this thing between us. If Kaylee, gossipy, girly, romantical Kaylee, ready to see feelin's even where ain't none – if she don't catch on, I'm gonna go nuts.
"Lay her down! What happened? Ain't she breathin'?" Kaylees's arms slid underneath the younger girl, and barely kept River from slamming her head on the deck as Jayne nearly dumped her on the floor. River hit metal pretty hard, though, and had the wind knocked out of her. She lay there, immobile, struggling to get her breath back.
"Oh, god, Jayne, do that chest pressin' thing while I get Simon!" Kaylee scrambled back to her feet and starting running, yelling for the doc.
River's eyes popped open and she gave a wheezing gasp, looking frantically at Jayne.
"You okay?" he asked, helping her to sit up. River nodded, taking a few deep breaths. She sat half-in and half-out of the space suit, wearing only a thin t-shirt and a pair of skin-tight shorts. Despite the fact that he knew that Simon, Kaylee and probably everyone else on the gorram ship was running in this direction,Jayne still wanted to jump her bones.
"This is getting ridiculous." River muttered, frowning. "Are they morons?"
"I dunno, babe." Jayne crouched next to her. He stroked one finger across her delicate clavicle, needing to touch her skin. "Seems like it."
"Perhaps - we should just make our relationship known to them." River suggested reluctantly.
Hallelujah! Was Jayne's initial reaction. But River still didn't seem too happy about it. Jayne scratched his chin. He'd seen the look on River's face after Kaylee'd screamed. Didn't seem like she was ready. And not even he was looking forward to the shit fit that Simon was gonna throw.
"Uh, maybe we should think on that a bit."
River glanced away, her expression becoming withdrawn. Jayne could almost feel the chill in the air.
"Perhaps they are blind because there is nothing to see," she whispered woodenly.
"The expense of spirit in a waste of shame is lust in action!" River burst out in her recitin' tone, her voice rising, her eyes closing as tiny tears leaked from the corners.
"What the hell does that mean?" he demanded. Jayne felt like someone had kicked him in the gut. Somethin' was goin' very wrong here. "Riv-"
"River!" Simon was the first through the hatch, medical bag swinging from his hand, Kaylee on his heels and Zoë right behind her. He seemed relieved to see his sister sitting up.
The doctor knelt by River swiftly, noticing her pallor, her tears, and the way she trembled. He took her wrist in one hand, two fingers going expertly to her pulse point.
He looked at Jayne curiously. "Kaylee told me you were attempting to resuscitate her. Did she actually lose consciousness? What happened?"
Jayne's eyes never left River's face, even though she had averted it from him, pressing her forehead against Simon's shoulder.
He shook his head slowly, his blue eyes honestly baffled. "I don't rightly know."
And just like that, it was over.