Robin and Marian

He was sharpening his knife on its whetstone when the girl appeared behind him, peering over his shoulder. He didn't pay her no never-mind, continuing his work in silence. He remembered the last time she'd been in the same room as he was sharpening his knife, and he compulsively reached up to scratch at the scar across his chest.

"Brave Sir Robin," she murmured near his ear, making him jump and whirl around in his chair to face her.

"What the hell, girl?" he asked plainly, holding his knife close defensively. She blinked blankly, as if the answer was obvious.

"You are the Brave Robin of the Hood," she clarified, "and the false king has vowed to make me his wife. Of course," she strolled casually behind his chair, "you won't stand for such injustice, because I do not love him."

Jayne could only stare incredulously at the girl, without a clue as to what she was rambling on about. "You're gettin' married?" She shook her head, as if at a child. He sheathed his knife carefully, turning about in his chair to straddle it backwards. "Well, yer talkin' all muddled. Start over."

"Well, you see," she began, "King Richard the Lionhearted has left England to fight in the Crusades, leaving his incompetent brother Prince John in charge." She laughed, as if to a private joke, then continued. "He has the Sheriff of Nottingham on his side, and is using his power to wring the money from the poor of the village to sustain his own extravagant lifestyle."

"Some some rich fella is takin' all the money from the little guys," Jayne reasoned, crossing his arms on the back of the chair and leaning forward. "All right, but what's all that 'bout gettin' married?"

"Mustn't rush," she chided him. He pressed his lips into a thin line, showing his impatience, but said nothing. "While all of the rich are becoming richer, and the poor steadily poorer, one man stands in the face of the prince to show him that his evil ways will come to an end." River smirked and gestured broadly at Jayne. "Brave Sir Robin, also known as Robin of Loxley."

"That's me, right?" Jayne asked.

"Correct. Most know him as Robin Hood. He knows the injustice Prince John shows to the people of Nottingham, and all of England. So he takes action, demanding the return of the unfairly gained spoils. At the tip of his blade."

Jayne smirked. "I like this guy."

"So," she said, as if uninterrupted, "you are Brave Robin Hood. And the false king has vowed to make me his wife."

"Now, wait, who're you?" Jayne asked, suddenly out of the loop again. "And why do I care if you get married?"

"I'm Maid Marian, refined lady of the court." She curtseyed very politely with a pretty grin. "And you care because I am an old, dear friend of yours. Very dear. And you must save me from the cruel and unkind ravishings of Prince John, who holds me captive in Nottingham."

"Well, where the hell am I?"

"Sherwood forest," she told him matter-of-factly. "Being a fugitive, you must hide there with you band of merry men."

"They sound all manner 'a helpful," he said as he rolled his eyes.

"Your bosom buddy Little John and the helpful monk Friar Tuck bolster your ranks with you at the head, Sir Robin. But the wedding is tonight, and against my will I shall be forced to marry Prince John."

"Can't have that, can I?" Jayne stretched slightly as he said this.

"No. Neither can Maid Marian." She grinned, then twirled out of the galley in one fluid motion. Jayne shook his head, then returned to cleaning and sharpening his knife.

After dinner, Wash and Book were alone in the kitchen, cleaning the dishes and wiping down the table, respectively. Wash heaved a long sigh. Dishes were his least favorite chore, he decided, aside from garbage duty. Just as he picked a tough spot from one of the plates with his fingernail, he felt something tap him on the shoulder.

He turned to face the barrel of a gun.

"Woah!" He shouted, jumping back and holding up his hands in surrender. Book whirled around just in time to see Jayne standing right before Wash, holding his gun out with several more strapped to his chest.

"Settle down, Li'l John!" Jayne growled. "I ain't gonna shoot ya! Geez, jumpy little sonuva--"

"Jayne," Book said suddenly, interrupting him, "is it sane of me to ask why you're equipped for battle so soon after eating?"

"Yeah, Friar," Jayne said as he cocked his pistol with a wide grin. "We're shuttin' down the Prince's wedding."

"What? Who's getting married? Are we sure I'm not getting shot?" Wash asked quickly, still backed up against the stove with hands in the air.

"Naw, sidekicks don't get shot," Jayne assured him, "so stop actin' like a gorram pussy and get over t' the table. We gotta fix up a plan." Jayne cleared away the place settings with a sweep of his hand and leaned confidentially over the table. Wash and Book joined him, sharing a strange look between them. "Awright, the wedding's prob'ly goin' on right now, so we gotta bust in there and break it up 'fore Marian's the new Princess John. Li'l John," he pointed at Wash, who jumped, "that Sheriff's gonna be out 'n about, so you distract 'im."

"Okaaay," Wash said incredulously. He turned to Book for guidance. "Who's the sheriff? Did we pick up someone?"

"Gorramit," Jayne grumbled, "the Sheriff of Nottin'ham! 'Bout this tall, big ol' honkin' nose, acts like he owns the place."

"Captain Reynolds," Book whispered to clarify. Wash nodded slowly, still not knowing what the hell was going on. Jayne turned to Book.

"Friar, there's gonna be a mess 'a folk guardin' the place, so I'll need ya t' get 'em out so I can get Marian and scoot."

"Understood," Book said with a short little smirk taking him.

Jayne pulled out a second gun, grinning ear to ear. "Well, let's bust up a wedding, then."

Mal liked to think he was minding his own business in the cargo bay when Wash snuck up behind him as quietly as Wash could sneak. "Er, Mal?" he asked meekly. Mal prevented himself from rolling his eyes as he turned to face the pilot.

"Yeah, Wash?" he asked in an equally quiet voice, as if he were unwillingly participating in a child's game.

"You don't know what's up with Jayne, do you?"

"Wash, I don't wanna pretend to know what's goin' on in that little brain of his." Mal cocked a single, questioning eyebrow, looking about suspiciously. "Why? He threatening t' overthrow my oppressive regime or somethin'?"

"It might be worse," Wash said, glancing over his shoulder. When he turned back to Mal, he was wincing. "I think... he thinks he's Robin Hood."

Mal had no words. Wash nodded gravely. "The Shepherd says Jayne thinks you're the Sheriff of Nottingham, and I'm supposed to be distracting you while he and Friar Tuck go off and upset Prince John's wedding."

"Ohh, my giddy aunt," Mal groaned as he hid his face in his hand.

Simon sat at the foot of River's bed, brushing out her wet hair. She'd been awfully quiet since dinner, smirking to herself but saying nothing. She'd taken her shower, dressed herself, and asked Simon in very few words if he would run a brush through her hair. He hadn't done so for quite a long time, he remembered. Not since they both lived in the same house. He smiled pleasantly, chasing the tangles from her hair. Her grin widened suddenly, as if some silent joke had been told only to her.

Just as Simon had decided to ask his sister what was on her mind, the door to River's room burst open with a deafening bang. Simon jumped to his feet, stumbling and nearly tripping over his own two feet. He stared owl-eyed at the door to face a pistol and Jayne's crooked grin through the darkness. Still silent and unmoved on the bed, River was smiling broadly.

"Awright, Prince John," Jayne said as he stepped into the light of the room, "the weddin's off."

Simon had no words. His eyes couldn't leave the gun staring him down.

"You all right, Marian? No ravagin'?" Jayne asked without taking his eyes from Simon.

River giggled high and sweet, nodding. "Perfectly fine. No ravaging." She stood, heading to his side. "Arrived just in time. The wedding ceremony was almost completed."

"River?" Simon asked, daring to glance up from the gun for an instant. "What's going on?"

Both of them ignored him. "'Bout time for our heroic escape, wouldn't ya say?" Jayne asked River, looking down as she joined him.

"You are not going to finish him?" River asked. "No wife. No money. Then death. His humiliation will be complete." Simon's eyes looked ready to pop out of his skull.

"Naw," Jayne assured him, placing his pistol back in its holster. "Reckon his brother's gonna get back, see the mess he made, and have a royal fit. This fella's gonna get a helluva lot more humiliated."

With the gun out of the picture, Simon found his backbone. "Jayne, this is not funny--"

"Hey," Jayne interrupted, pulling River against his side and looking fairly dashing, "that's Sir Robin t' you."

Then, Jayne unapologetically slung River over one shoulder and dashed quickly out of the room into the darkened hallway. River squealed with laughter, and the sound of pounding footsteps headed off for the stairs. Simon bolted straight off after them. As the pair took up the flight of stairs on the other end of the infirmary, Simon found his progress blocked by the stoic form of the preacher.

"Sorry, son, but it look like I've been called in to halt your pursuit. Something about 'for the good of England' I think."

"Shepherd Book," Simon panted frantically, "what is going on? Jayne and River--" He waved vaguely in the direction the two had disappeared in.

"Don't worry, Doctor," Book said with an assuring grin. "I'm fairly sure your sister failed to explain the whole of the story to her Robin Hood, and he is going to be very surprised in a few minutes."

Jayne set River down once they'd reached the cockpit, both laughing and grinning. The former caught his breath, leaning heavily on the copilot's chair.

"That look on the Doc's face," Jayne laughed, shaking his head. "I ain't gonna forget that."

"Neither will he," she added, smirking. "Didn't expect you to participate in the game."

"Aw, well," Jayne shrugged, "you know I like makin' yer brother look like an idiot now 'n then." He paused, shaking his head and grinning like a giddy child. "Hell, I like makin' him look like an idiot whenever the hell I can."

She had approached him without his noticing, taking advantage of his lack of breath. Her hands were clutched behind her back, a perfect personification of coyness. "For rescuing Maid Marian from the icy clutches of the Prince, Brave Sir Robin must take a token of her thanks."

He only managed to cough out one more laugh before River leaned up into the space separating them to give him a single, soft kiss. His laughter stopped immediately, his grin falling into a gaping expression of shock. He blinked a few times, but said nothing. He couldn't even move.

"Never finished the story," she told him, still dangerously close. She paused brilliantly. "Why he stopped the wedding, kept her for his own... Robin Hood and Maid Marian were lovers."

"I dunno if I like this game anymore," he murmured, looking like she'd backed him into a corner.

As a response, a pretty smile curled over her lips. His eyes flicked to her mouth, then back again as his shoulder slumped in surrender. In that moment, she owned him, and they both knew it. He practically melted right there in front of her, only managing two words:

"Aw, hell."

He ducked down quickly to pull a lingering kiss from her, one that made her eyes flutter closed. Before she could pull him any further into her, he pulled purposefully away. They locked eyes quickly, just a brief brush of minds, but that was all he could muster before he strode embarrassedly past her. He left her there, moving right out of the cockpit in a great hurry. By the time she'd regained motor function, she peered out into the crew corridor in time to see Jayne run a nervous hand down his face as he disappeared into his bunk.

She grinned brightly, pressing her fingertips fondly against her lips, where she could still feel him. She would have to think of a new game for next time, but, she decided, he would always be her Brave Sir Robin.

AN: Hoo boy... At least this one was shorter and fluffier than I've been making them of late. As has been the pattern, this is a story sharing a name with a Nickel Creek song, "Robin and Marian." Trust me, these guys RAWK, and I suggest them strongly. I just absolutely love the idea of Jayne playing along, and once this plot bunny burrowed in, there was no way to get it out. Hope y'all like, and that you aren't getting tired of me. I'm sure there'll come a point when The Shoeless One's time here comes to an end. Until then, I'll keep supplying the Rayne, and I hope that awesome people like you keep reading. Thanks much, and stay awesome!