I own nothing.
River glanced back down the dusty roadway and frowned. No one would be running after her. If she wanted to stay, she'd have to go back of her own accord. She sighed raggedly and pushed into the bar, lugging her small bag with her. She let her eyes scan the bar patrons. Hardly anyone was present. This side of Harvest was sparsely inhabited. It reminded her of the wild frontier she had read about in old books from Earth-That-Was. She caught sight of his big frame slumped over in one of the round booths in the far corner. He hadn't gotten into a fight yet. River moved through the bar as inconspicuously as she could, coming up to stand next to him. He was completely passed out.
"Idiot," she muttered as she hit his shoulder as roughly as possible. When he only snored she slapped him across the face as hard as she could. "Wake up," she ordered. He groaned and opened an eye. His agitation melted away and he sat up as quickly as possible in his drunken state. "River?"
"Don't, Jayne." She helped him to stand. "You're going to have to support yourself. We have a long way to go."
"Walked off, same as you." She wouldn't meet his eyes. "Told Mal, you were leaving for good and he said it was probably for the best. I told him I was leaving then and he just laughed at me and patted my head."
"I'm happy for them," he said in resolute denial as they stepped out of the bar and headed in the direction River instructed. Jayne adjusted the bag on his own soldier. "They deserve to be happy after all that's happened. Have a better chance o' bein' happy with us gone, too."
"Yes, I agree, it will help them come to terms with their grief."
"If we hadn't left they would continue to believe nothing was wrong, that burying themselves in one another was healthy for the crew as a whole." River pointed to a large dirt road leading off into the woods. "This way."
"How do you know where we need to go?"
She frowned up at him. "You get stupid when you drink."
"Right," he drawled, "yer doin' yer psychic thing." He looked into the lining of trees off the road. "There ain't any big animals in there that's gonna jump out at us, is there?"
"Harvest was made to closely resemble North America from Earth-That-Was. Several species of animals where transported here from to establish a similar environment," she answered and Jayne stared at her. She smiled sheepishly. "Wolves, foxes, rabbits, deer, and other woodland creatures may be found within the forests on this side of the planet."
"How do you hold all that useless go se up in that little head a yers?"
"Not useless since we now live here."
"Still can't believe you actually left," Jayne snickered, straightening slightly. He was sobering up. River shrugged. "I had no reason to stay. They will move on, Captain will find a new pilot and a new gun hand-"
"How we supposed to make a livin' out here? No one comes to this side hardly."
"I procured enough money for us to buy what we need to establish a stable means of survival. We will have to live off the land for a time."
"Hell, I ain't no good at farmin'," Jayne complained, making a face. "It's the reason I left home, you know."
"Yes, I do know," River said in amusement. He snorted. "A'course ya know. Yer a Gorram psychic."
After several more minutes of walking, River was trailing behind Jayne, slowing down the farther they walked. He turned to wait for her. "You gettin' tired."
"I'll be fine, I'm just not used to walking so much. It's not that far-where we're going," she said, attempting to brush him off. Jayne took her bag from her and threw it up onto his shoulder with his own bag. River made to continue walking and Jayne grabbed her around the waist with one arm, hooking his other behind her knees and swung her up into his arms with little effort. "Jayne, please put me down."
"If it ain't that far, then it ain't no big deal fer me to carry you-"
"I thank you for the offer, but I can manage. I cannot allow you to carry me-"
"Deal with it, Little Crazy."
"Harvest customs dictate-"
"Shut up," Jayne growled, giving her a slight shake as he stomped on down the road. River sighed in irritation, but made no more move to protest until a large building came into view. Jayne could tell by the outline of the structure that it was a fairly large cabin. River began to squirm in his arms. "You must put me down now."
"Anyone in there?"
"Abandoned for the core. Please, put me down."
"I'll put you down when I'm good an' ready," he snarled and she glared up at him in the darkness. "Trust me, you are ready to put me down."
Jayne's face hardened further. "Just fer that, I ain't puttin' you down any time soon."
"I should have stayed on the ship. It is better to be ignored than bullied by an ape-girl," River snapped childishly as she continued to twist in his arms.
"I ain't an' ape an' if'n I were I'd be an' ape-man."
"Jayne is a girl's name."
"I ain't a girl."
"Fine, then you are a woman and Jayne is a woman's name. Put me down," she howled. Jayne growled down at her as he ascended the steps of the cabin's porch and kicked open the door, turning sideways so as not cause River to hit her head on the doorway though he seriously considered letting her with the way she was carrying on. Once inside, he dumped her to the floor in a heap and set down the bags. River glared up at him from the hardwood floor, rubbing her hip that had hit against the floor. "Ape."
"Brat," Jayne muttered, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness. He caught sight of a dark square on the side of the wall and grinned. "Electricity."
"Of course, this is not a backwoods town. If it had been, I would have found a way for us to travel to a more civilized part of the planet," she groused, hurt that he would think she had not thought anything through. Her glare deepened as he turned on the lights. "You shouldn't have carried me in. Now we can never leave one another."
"You was plannin' on leavin'? When?"
"The parting of ways was not to take place for an indeterminable amount of time, but now-now it is not an option."
"Why you gettin' so angry with me," Jayne asked, as he moved into the open space of the kitchen that was situated to the left of the front door. She stood slowly, still rubbing her hip as she followed him. Jayne was busy rummaging through cabinets and drawers, taking stock of what they would and would not need to buy in town.
"Jayne, you need to listen to me. You will be very upset at what I have to say."
"Then why would I wanna listen?"
She heaved out an exaggerated sigh and bit out in an agitated voice, "Harvest customs dictate that when a male carries a female over the threshold of his abode they are henceforth bound in holy matrimony."
"Huh?" Jayne asked stupidly. River rubbed her forehead, her anxiety mounting. "Jayne you carried me over the threshold of this cabin, which is now your place of residence. In doing so, you inadvertently married me."
Jayne blinked several times before erupting. "I did not!"
"I am afraid you did. Harvest customs dictate that in doing so, you have proclaimed us husband and wife. The vast majority of settlers on Harvest are against the establishment of religion and therefore, there are no clergymen to preform matrimonial ceremonies." She gave him a look. "I told you to put me down and you didn't listen."
"Wonderful, just Gorram wonderful," Jayne muttered, running his hand down his face, "I'm too drunk to be angry 'bout this right now."
River drew herself up to her full height and said in a steady voice, "I will perform all wifely duties except sexual intercourse."
Jayne's head shot up. "Yer gonna cook? Shiny!"
"This place ain't so bad," Jayne said as he patted the side of the large wagon they had purchased earlier. River stood directly behind him, a smile firmly in place. He hadn't turned to her yet, though he had known exactly when she had approached. "I have brought you an acceptable mount and have briefed him on his duties. He demanded he be paid in carrots after a job well done."
Jayne turned around, expecting to find an haggard old nag. Instead he was forced to jump back when he came face to neck with the largest horse he had ever seen in his life. River seemed pleased with his reaction. "His name is Big Grey. Because of his unpredictable behavior I was able to buy him for lower than the usual going rate."
Jayne eyed the horse warily. "He don't bite, do he?"
"No, he said he wouldn't." Jayne raised an eyebrow at her, but chose not to comment. She pointed up to the horse's back. "They even threw in a saddle and reins."
Jayne nodded and began to unsaddle the horse. As he hitched Big Grey up to the wagon, River climbed up onto one of the wheels and peered into the back. "You did not forget to purchase yarn and seeds did you?"
"Nope, I got everything on yer list."
"Did you see to having a second bed ordered?"
Jayne frowned. "Yeah, guy started askin' me all kinds of questions 'bout it. Like why I needed another bed if'n it was just me an' the Missus an' he was lookin' at me all funny."
"I was hoping that would not happen," she sighed, frowning in the direction of the store. Jayne frowned along with her. "You think they mighta seen yer old warrant on the cortex an' think of turnin' ya in?"
"No, the store manager is generally suspicious of strangers and we are an odd coupling. He suspects we may not be upstanding, law abiding citizens."
Jayne laughed. "He'd a been right yesterday." River smiled as well, equally amused. Jayne helped her up to sit on the wagon seat and climbed in next to her before setting Big Grey into a leisurely trot towards the cabin. Jayne looked up into the blue sky. "What d'you 'spose their doin' right now?"
"Trying to forget," River answered quietly, "I'm not even sure if they've noticed I left yet."
"Not even Simon?"
"You were the only person I talked to for the past two months. Since he and Kaylee solidified their status as a couple, he stopped spending the majority of his time caring for me. In all likelihood, he may believe I am simply hiding somewhere on ship. Mal will believe I am angry at him for letting you leave and presume I am avoiding everyone in protest. Kaylee is too overcome with joy at finally having captured Simon to notice I am not about. Inara is also too busy basking in the glory of being able to express her true feelings for the Captain. Zoe knows I have left, but she is still angry with me and therefore, will not alert the others."
"They ain't ever gonna come back fer us is they?"
"No. Do you want them to?"
"Wouldn't deserve it if they did." He refused to look at her. "Just wish...I don't know. Guessin' I'm just lookin' fer forgiveness though I know it ain't somethin' I'm likely to come by any time soon."
"No, forgiveness will be a long time in coming, stretching beyond forever possibly," she whispered. Jayne looked off toward the woods and wondered if maybe hunting would take his mind off the guilt. "It won't," River said beside him and he looked over at her. "But it'd get us some free grub."
"Yes, it would indeed. Fresh venison would do nicely."
Jayne licked his lips at the thought. Bein' planet side weren't so bad when you got real food. "Ain't had that but once."
River smiled as their new home came into view. It was rather picturesque in her opinion, though it was rather simple. There was a small pond behind the cabin and beyond a small field. Jayne had decided he would build a barn there and River had decided to start a garden on the side of the house that would wrap around the back. They would have fresh vegetables...like the tomatoes Book had brought with him when he had first arrived on Serenity. River's smile faltered. Because of her, they would never see Book again. He would never cook for them again, never offer them comfort in times of strife. She would plant an extra large patch of Rosemary in his honor. It seemed the proper thing to do.
Jayne climbed down out of the wagon first and in a fit of childish glee River jumped down at him, excited that she could now begin on her garden. Jayne frowned at her as he set her down. "You are such a weird thing."
She continued to smile as he unhitched Big Grey and she began to unload the wagon carrying in the packages with gusto. She was beginning to feel normal for once. It was possible that because there was only one intrusive voice in her head rather than six that it afforded her some semblance of sanity. It also helped that Jayne's thoughts were very linear and he often spoke what he thought. His inner monologue tended to be less winded than those of Simon and even Mal or Inara's. Kaylee's had been so frantic and full of rampant emotion that she had been prone to headaches ranging in intensity that stemmed from the amount of time spent in close proximity to the young mechanic. She caught sight of Jayne hitching the horse to a pole on the porch and frowned. She really wasn't looking forward to spending the remainder of her lonesome life with Jayne Cobb. Her frown deepened. She wasn't so alone anymore, really. They carried the weight of Miranda on their shoulders together. In that one way, they would never be alone, but in all other respects...River began to pile the cans of food and other perishables and non perishables in the refrigerator and cabinets. Jayne came in and deposited the bag of knitting supplies next to a chair in the den that was connected to the kitchen and off to the right of the door. "There's a big box a junk in the wagon."
"Not junk, miscellaneous parts that the shopkeep gave me. I plan on building a portable cortex with them."
Jayne looked up at her incredulously. "You can do that?"
She nodded. "Shopkeep was also skeptical. I plan on WAVEing him the moment the task is complete. It is possible he will employ me to repair and assemble different things."
"Yeah, be good for us to start earnin' a livin' right away," Jayne agreed. "How long will it take you to build?"
"A day and a half at the most."
"Think we should call the ship?"
River shook her head. "They are not ready to face us, to accept us. I am sorry to crush your hope."
"Ain't crushed nothin', Crazy."
River moved into the den and over to the large, dusty bookcase next to the fireplace. She blew onto the dusty spines of the books and a puff of dust clouded about her. She wrinkled up her nose and emitted a small sneeze that remind Jayne of a squeaking mouse. He laughed and she glared halfheartedly at him. She pulled out a large book with a white hardcover and gold leafing on the front, smiling broadly. "This is a good cookbook."
"What you plannin' on cooking?"
"Something simple for now. It would take more time fix a more elaborate meal. This way, I can begin work on the cortex and be done with it quicker. The quicker we eat, the more work we will get done," She replied, flipping through the pages.
"Yeah, I'm needin' to get started on that chicken coop I been thinkin' about."
River looked up at him, raising an eyebrow. "Chickens?"
"Yeah, they ain't hard to care for. Figure then we'd have fresh eggs an' all."
"Yes, it is a good idea. I can help with the construction."
He shook his head. "Naw, you just worry on yer garden an' makin' that cortex. Tomorrow, I'll get up real early and get us some grub an' start on gettin' everythin' built up."
River cocked her head to the side and stared at him. "Your anger towards me has receded some. Why?"
He shrugged. "Guess I'm not rightly sure. 'Sides, it don't do no good fer me to be angry an' hateful toward you all the time since we're stuck with each other."
She nodded in agreement. "Not to mention, we are married."
He groaned. "Don't remind me."
A/N: This is probably a bit fluffier than you were expecting of the sequel, but its set up this way for the next couple of chapters to focus on the fact that Jayne and River are prepared for making a clean break from Serenity and the crew. Also, it helps to show that the things they will do from now on are a direct result to their reactions to past events (Miranda, duh). Their lighter moods attest to the fact that they are dealing with their grief in a healthier way than the rest of the crew as they are trying to move on, but not forget.
I'd also like to thank everyone who reviewed the first part in the series. It really helped me to figure out whether or not continuing down the path I was leaning towards was a good idea or not. So thanks to all of you. There will be a third in this series that will focus on the rest of the crew, whose appearance in this part will be extremely limited and they will not appear until close to the end. Trust me, it's important for the story arc's progression.
Reviews would be nice.