Disclaimer: There is no original content, except for the original content. All Hail Joss.
Jayne was an observant man, he noticed Crazy was growing up. Like the time on Harvest when she walked onto the boat looking moonier than usual.
River flopped onto the couch beside him and hugged a throw pillow.
Jayne grunted welcome.
Her cheeks looked flushed. Might be getting sick. He touched her forehead, not hot.
"What's up with you?" Jayne asked.
Crazy turned her dopy smile towards him. "First kiss."
He almost, but not quite, wished he was the man who'd caused that dreamy look. He buried that thought deep, right alongside the twinges his groin made in her presence.
Six landfalls later she flopped next to him again looking… disturbed.
He lowered his magazine. "Is there some hun dan I should be beating up for you?" His voice was harsher than he intended.
Crazy made a noise that wasn't quite a laugh.
"Unnecessary." She shook her head. "Although the offer is appreciated."
She didn't look him in the eye, and he didn't like the way she was biting her lip.
"Are you alright?" He didn't think she was.
She nodded, but seconds later she was on his lap, sobbing into his shirt. He held her until she was done.
"I know what you need." Jayne announced on Persephone.
Crazy eyed him warily.
"You need a professional. I know a place…"
Her bright laughter stopped him.
"Thank you, Jayne, but Inara long ago provided me an adequate initial partner."
"Oh." He flushed. "Well, good."
"I find I prefer unsophisticated minds." She smirked. "Besides, real men are cheaper."
He followed her. She knew, could have lost him, but seemed amused.
He watched her snare her target and accompany him home.
Jayne admitted after she was long gone, that if she'd been a stranger in a bar, he would have agreed. Enthusiastically.
There were good and bad things about visiting the sky mall.
Unlike most moons, there weren't regular whores on the sky mall, and it usually took time he didn't have to seduce a regular girl. However, a person could pick up the hottest magazines the Core worlds produced for only a little more than cover price.
The booze was very expensive in the bars and clubs, but a good bottle could be had cheaply, as long as you don't drink it on the station.
Because of things like that, Jayne always did his shopping quickly and held his party on board the ship.
"Yeah, I need to get me one of these." Jayne held up the centerfold of his new gun magazine to take a better look.
"The gun or the girl?" Crazy leaned over the top of the page, trying to look.
Jayne frowned slightly he hadn't realized she was on board. "I meant the gun, but the girl isn't too bad either."
"Humph. You wouldn't like it once you had it." River announced. "The workings catch wrong every third round, which makes the muzzle buck, usually to the left. They don't appear to have fixed that." She pointed to a spot near the trigger.
It was always eerie when Crazy said shit like that. Jayne glanced at the description.
"This is new, just hit the market last month. How…" Except he wasn't totally sure he wanted to know.
"I had access to a prototype at the Academy." She winced. "We were trained with a wide variety of weapons. Also, I've seen better airbrush jobs."
"What?" Why would the gun…
"I meant the girl." She was smiling wryly. "See, the image has been altered, here and here."
Jayne grunted. "Most of them are." He peered at the picture again. She was right.
River scooped up his other new mag and sat next to him. "Anything else impressive?" She nodded towards the gun mag.
"Just a couple of things. I usually like the editorial articles." Jayne suddenly realized that Crazy had her hands on his new girlie mag. He froze wondering how to get it back without her noticing.
River gave him a funny look and then glanced at what she had in her hands. "Oh."
Jayne half expected her to throw it at him and stalk off, all offended. Or at least to try to steal and hide it like Kaylee sometimes used to. He did not expect her to open it and leaf through the pages.
She stopped on a page he was planning to clip out and post on his wall. Two beauties. One was leaning over the other with her huge breast near the mouth of her friend.
River rotated the image to look at it better. "You wouldn't like her either. You don't like artificial mammaries."
"But…" He looked over her shoulder. She was right, he hated to touch fake tits.
"The contour of the implant is clearly visible under the breast tissue at this angle." She drew her finger along the line where the breast looked funny. The whole shape was off too.
Jayne huffed. He could have gotten a couple of days of use in before he noticed that.
"Poor Jayne. He goes after size only to be disappointed by tactile disgust." She clicked her tongue with false sympathy. "You don't like it when they have to mimic arousal due to lack of sensation."
Right again. "Shut it."
Jayne plucked his magazine out of her hands. He sure hoped no one else was back yet. This conversation was disquieting, it needed to end.
"At least when they're small you can be sure they're real." River touched her own slight bust.
The movement caught Jayne's attention and he forgot what he'd been going to say. He stared as she moved her hand sensuously over one breast then the other.
He leered at her. "Are you offering me a free feel?"
River paused, reading him like she'd been doing all along. She didn't get all offended like he expected and when she opened her mouth, it didn't seem like she was about to say no.
Jayne panicked a little. "I didn't mean it." He leaned away from her.
River slouched back on the couch, looking almost annoyed.
"It sounded funny in my head," He said, "but ain't neither of us laughing."
She looked at him, arms folded under her breasts in a way that made them look bigger than normal.
"We're mostly friends, girl, I… I don't… I…" He stuttered to a halt.
River peered at him from under her lashes, starting to lean towards him again.
"You didn't mean it." She agreed. "You wanted me to shoot down your crude suggestion. You deliberately push boundaries so they will be defined for you. You thought you knew this particular boundary line, and you were disconcerted at the idea it might not be there."
By now she was nearly as close to him as she'd been before.
Jayne nodded jerkily. Part of the fun of a lewd comment was the reaction of disgust. Not to mention it reminded him that the female in question was off limits.
"That doesn't change the fact that you sincerely wanted to put your hand where I had mine." She caressed herself again.
Jayne groaned. Gorramit, she was always right.
River smiled. Or rather she smirked in that really female way.
Jayne opened his mouth to speak.
River touched his hand lightly and he forgot what words he wanted to use again.
"You consider me a taboo, a forbidden desire." River sounded slightly amused.
"I… you're crew." His mouth was dry.
River lifted his hand slowly, giving him plenty of time to wrench it away from her if he could work up the resolve.
He was looking so intently at their joined hands that he didn't notice she'd slipped her other arm out of her sundress strap until his hand grazed her bare breast.
It was small, but it was proud and soft and…
Jayne barely noticed that her hand fell away. He just continued to caress her without guidance.
Her nipple was a firm little pebble. His fingers stroked and teased and…
River swallowed a gasp, she whimpered as quietly as she could. She didn't want to spook him. She wanted him to touch her, to want her.
She wanted him to use his tongue the way he was imagining.
Slowly, to prevent startling him, she raised her hands to frame his head. She drew his mouth steadily towards her pleading nipple.
Jayne stopped inches away, refusing to let her guide him closer. His warm breath tantalized her sensitive skin.
"How far is this going?" He asked hoarsely. "I need to know when to stop."
River licked her lips. It seemed like she'd wanted this forever, wanted him. She hadn't planned…
"You don't want to stop." She whispered.
Jayne's eyes fluttered shut and he sighed. "I… No, but it's more important what you want."
Any lingering doubt fled River's mind. "I don't want you to stop either."
"I think I'm going to hell for this." He murmured. Then his lips closed around her breast and his tongue caressed her.
"Only if I get to come along." River buried her fingers in his hair.
Part of her mind remained analytical for a time, it noted that he considered touching a woman worshiping her body, as if she were a goddess. He could be happy touching her upper torso for hours. Her rational mind faded to the background as the sensations took over completely.
Neither of them heard Inara come in. River didn't even register her voice when she spoke, she was too caught up in physical sensation.
The words were soft, but they shocked the stupid out of Jayne.
River's moaned 'no' and her arms reaching for him almost lured him back in. He wanted to give in, to pick her up and carry her to a more private space.
He wrenched his eyes from the girl to the Companion in the doorway. All the reasons not to touch the girl crashed back into his mind. Not to mention that he was halfway to plowing her in the middle of the very public downstairs lounge. Wo de ma. Stupid.
He swallowed past the sudden lump in his throat and stood. After what she'd already seen, there was no use trying to hide the wood in his pants from Inara.
"I'll be in my bunk." He managed.
River adjusted her clothing and looked up at her friend.
Inara raised her eyebrow.
River stretched and then pulled her knees up to her chin. "Your timing could have been better."
Inara laughed incredulously. "You're in a public room of the ship, sweetie. The rest of the crew will be back soon."
"Unpremeditated pleasure." River laid her cheek on her knee. "Relocation would have resulted in abrupt termination of the events I was encouraging."
"You certainly seemed to be enjoying yourself." Inara said archly.
"I didn't hear your approach." River admitted. "Highly unusual for me."
They exchanged a meaningful look. Inara crossed the room to sit beside River.
"So… Jayne?" Inara inquired. "I know for a fact he's not your first, but… Jayne?"
River smiled dreamily. "You're surprised because you cannot see into his mind, his emotions."
"Honey, do you want me to call in favors again?" Inara asked kindly. "You don't have to settle for Jayne."
River laughed softly. "The one thing I'm not doing is settling. I hadn't made up my mind until today, but I know what I want now."
Inara looked intently into her young friend's face. "Yes," She murmured. "I think you actually do. Remember I'm here for you."
River smiled broadly and sent her thoughts towards the man she was about to persuade into her bed. What she found alarmed her. She swung her legs to the floor and hugged Inara.
"Thank you. I know I can count on you." River meant it. "But I have to go find him before he does something rash." She twisted her mouth. "And I'll try to keep the action to private areas from now on."
Inara watched her hurry off towards the crew quarters. She'd have to watch this development carefully. She didn't want to see her young friend hurt.
Jayne was in his bunk, sorting through all his belongings. How had he managed to collect up so much shit anyway?
He made two piles on his bed. Keep that, leave that. He'd have to leave a lot of things.
Hopefully someone would find use for them. His mind conjured an image of River wearing one of his cast off t-shirts to bed. He groaned. He could tell he'd be fantasizing about her for years to come.
He wanted to be gone before the ship separated from the station.
A sky mall was as good a place as any for a spacer to find work, better than some. At least he wouldn't be stuck in some gravity well, taking a hard labor job while he tried to work up a plan to steal enough money to get off again. Ships docked here every day. Some of them with captains more effective than Mal Reynolds.
He would strap on as many of his weapons as he could. It was easier to wear your gear than to tote it. Not to mention that it would be good advertising for his skills.
Gorramit, why did the girl have to go and do something so crack-brained anyway?
And why hadn't he… Never mind. He knew why he'd done what he had. He'd do it again in a heartbeat. That's why he had to go.
If Mal knew, he would drone on about 'not taking advantage,' and Jayne couldn't even argue, 'cause he knew for certain he had been. Gorram innocent little girl. And that would be after he threatened Jayne with some form of painful death.
The problem was, the crazy girl looked too much like a grown an' consenting woman. His body and his instincts sure saw her that way. But she was crazy, flipped out, insane. No way in hell she knew she was getting him all riled up like that. She couldn't understand he was taking advantage of her, because she was crazy. He had to be the adult here, he had to go.
Jayne ran his hands over his head and sat heavily. He reached for one of his two duffels.
"You're running away."
Jayne looked up to see River sitting in the open hatch to his bunk.
She didn't have to look at him that way, it made him feel cowardly.
"Judge, jury and executioner." River muttered.
Jayne started shoving the 'keep' pile into his bag.
River watched him work for a while. When she moved it was swift and sudden.
Before Jayne had a chance to look up she was standing in his bunk. The door was shut and latched.
"What…?" He stared at her numbly.
"If you're going to leave because of me, we might as well do the things that you're accusing yourself of."
With those words, River lifted her skirt over her head and let her dress fall to the floor.
Jayne's hands stopped packing. His mind stopped working. His hormones took over again.
He stared at her long enough for her to grow self conscious. She refused to let her hands try to cover her body. Instead, she tried to mimic one of the poses she'd seen in his magazine, head tall, hip jutting towards him.
She smiled. She could tell it was working.
"Girl - River, I shouldn't…" Then she stepped towards him and he forgot what it was he shouldn't do.
Jayne's hand raised, almost on it's own. His finger traced the waistline of her lacy white panties. He wanted to tear them off violently, to remove that slight barrier to her center.
River slipped her fingers under the waistband and slid the cloth over her hips. She felt them pool around her ankles and stepped out of them, towards him.
Almost instantly his hands were on her body. She reveled in the sensations. This. She wanted this.
Jayne let his mouth dip forward to resume his interrupted exploration. When their relative positions became awkward, Jayne swept all his things to the floor and laid her gently on his bed.
"Do you…? I mean, are we…?"
Luckily River was able to read the inarticulate question right out of his head. "Yes, please remove all of your clothing. Yes, I intend to allow you to have sexual intercourse with me. In fact, I will be disappointed if you do not."
Jayne stripped out of his clothes. He had doubts, but the sight of her laying on his own bed squashed them effectively.
River surveyed his body. "Nice." She drawled.
Jayne hesitated before joining her. This wasn't some whore he was paying to take care of his needs. This was his friend, his crazy crewmate. He needed to be extra careful to sex her up rightly.
River held her arms towards him and he responded to her unspoken invitation. He knelt over her, touching her tenderly.
Jayne was good at sex. Some might think that since he usually paid for it, he'd only be decent, but he was damned good.
River had no reason for complaint.
Jayne expertly worshiped orgasms out of her body. By the time he entered her, they were both ready to soar.
Jayne's afterglow was colored with guilt. "I should finish packing." He kissed her shoulder.
"I'd rather you didn't go." River lazily drew patterns on his shoulder with her fingers.
"I have to." He tucked her closer to him.
"They're gonna kick me off anyway." Jayne shrugged. "Might as well not be dead when they do."
"Stay with me." She begged. "I'll miss you."
Strangely, Jayne thought he might miss her too. He forced himself to let her go and sit up.
River watched while he dressed and strapped his weapons on. This could still be salvaged, she decided, but not here in his bunk. The rest of the crew was back. Jayne would encounter at least one of them on his way to the hatch. In the provided delay she could persuade him.
She pushed herself up on her hands. "Jayne."
He turned to look at her, sprawled naked in the middle of his disheveled bed. He took a step towards her, then turned away again.
"You will regret stepping foot off this boat." She said softly.
"Every day for the rest of my miserable life." He agreed. He opened the hatch and set his bags up in the hall.
River stood. She used her fingers to tidy her hair and looked around for her dress. It must be buried under the mountain of things he was leaving behind, she decided. She swept up a t-shirt instead and followed him.
He was heading right for Mal, but he didn't know it yet. She hurried after him. She needed to hear that conversation from the beginning in order to say the right things herself.
"Are you leaving us, Jayne?" Mal's voice sounded a little dangerous.
"Yeah." Jayne grunted. "Seems like it's time."
River inched into the doorway at the top of the stairs. Simon entered the ship as she did so, taking in the way the merc and the captain were squared off. He also noted the extra armament and luggage.
"Well, this is sudden and unexpected." Mal was saying. "I always used to think you would stab me in the back on your way out the door. Then you became a real member of the crew and I thought you'd never leave us."
"He thinks he has stabbed your back." River announced from the top of the stairs. "Jayne is leaving because I seduced him and he feels guilty about it."
River felt all eyes upon her. Her brother processed her words first. He also took into account the flush of her skin and her current attire. He wasn't as surprised as she expected him to be. She certainly didn't expect the chuckle he was hiding behind his hand.
"You…" Mal looked between them in shock.
Jayne was the last one to turn towards her. His shoulders were slumped in defeat. "I didn't want this to turn into a scene."
"And I don't want you to go." She countered.
Simon's laugh escaped. "If she wants something, she usually has ways of making it happen."
Jayne blinked in surprise. Not the response he was expecting from her brother.
Mal turned to Simon feeling doubly betrayed. "I thought you'd be with me on this. This hun dan has taken advantage of your sister."
River used their distraction to scamper down the stairs.
"Not if she's doing the seducing and wants him to stay as well." Simon shrugged. "River, were you drunk or drugged?"
She rolled her eyes. "No."
"See." Simon looked significantly at Mal. "River, did Jayne take advantage of you as the good captain suggests?"
Guilt gnawed at Jayne. No matter what she said, he knew he had.
"The opposite is true." River said firmly. "I took advantage of him. He was already aroused by women trapped on paper. I was unimpaired, he had been drinking. Not to excess, but enough to aid my seduction."
When she said it that way, Jayne realized it was true. Not that it excused his behavior, just…
Simon's amusement faded. "Taking advantage of an inebriated person is considered worse than rape on Osiris." He frowned at his sister.
"I wasn't drunk." Jayne said sullenly.
River had made her way to his side by now. "Jayne, I'm not finished with you. I'd rather you didn't leave yet." She wanted to touch his arm, but she didn't think it would help.
He looked down at her, wearing his old shirt, still flushed from being in his bed. His mind felt like it was swimming through molasses. He still wanted her. He even felt a knot of possessiveness building low in his gut.
"She's just a kid." Mal protested, growing fainter, less angry.
"You count on other people making that mistake." Simon said firmly. "Don't make it yourself."
"She's crazy." Mal had almost given up.
"You didn't know her before." Simon shrugged. "She's nearly fully recovered. She has been for months."
"You want me to stay?" Jayne murmured. She'd said it before too, but it had bounced off his flight reflex.
"Yes, I do." She hugged herself around her waist. "I want to spend months in your arms, not hours."
"Ta ma de" Mal complained. "When did this happen and why didn't I notice?"
"Come on, Mal." Simon stepped forward and took his arm. "Lets leave these two consenting adults to work out their own problems."
"But…" Mal wanted to punch Jayne's face in.
Simon snorted. "She's my sister. If I'm not poking into her business…"
Mal groaned, but he let Simon lead him off.
Her brother turned at the doorway. "And Jayne, just because I think it will help," Simon was smirking as he spoke. "If you hurt my sister, I will cut you into so many pieces no one will ever be able to identify your remains."
Jayne flinched, but didn't stop staring into her eyes. He did let his bags fall to the ground.
"When you are finished with me, I am leaving for good." He told her.
She didn't respond to that, she just stared solemnly up at him.
His hands found their way to her shoulders, then her neck. His thumbs brushed her cheekbones. She numbed his brain, made him forget his usual rules. He leaned in and kissed her lips with more passion than he thought he had.
Jayne found himself wrapped tightly around River's little finger. He had been since that first kiss.
But he lived with the deep niggling fear of losing her. He knew he eventually would. She was too perfect to stay with him.
He tried to live in the moment. He wanted to be everything she needed. To postpone her leaving as long as possible. He was afraid it wouldn't be enough. Not when she was ready to cast him off.
But he tried to avoid thinking about her leaving. He didn't want to give her ideas. He just lived with the tension.
River knew Jayne was hers as long as she wanted him. He never looked at other women. He was too wrapped up in keeping her happy.
The day she looked up into his face and realized she loved him, she panicked.
She avoided him for a night and a day. She crawled into a small space and hid.
It was his bitter fear that brought her back. He thought their affair was over. It was, she acknowledged, but not in the way he feared. Everything was much more serious from here on out.
"Jayne, I want to have your baby."
When he held his daughter, Jayne wondered how a scruffy bastard like him helped to create something so pure.
River smiled wearily at the two most important people in her life.
"Mei mei, have you chosen a name yet?" The third most important person asked.
"Her father will name her." She said quietly.
Her lover looked at her in surprise, but the words rolled off his tongue. "Charlotte Grace Tam."
"Cobb." River corrected. "We need to visit your mother."
Jayne knew right then that his girls would never leave him.
"So, when can we start having sex again?"