Yay, my first Firefly fanfic. This was inspired by my Serenity RPG book, a conversation/monologue Mal was making about Jayne. It talked about how he's not exactly the most trustworthy, but so far the money "hasn't been good enough." I believe the exact phrasing was "one day, the money will be good enough. When it comes, that day will be an interesting day for us all." And River just...danced in.

This might be outside "T" range. If it is, please let me know.

Enjoy. If possible. This story is not pleasant. People die. People get tortured. River angst/insanity.

On the prairies of Regina, in the middle of nowhere, the remains of a camp. The wind howled sadly, whistling through the grass. The entire operation is being done neatly, efficiently.

On the edge of the camp, laying discarded and forgotten, a man. A bleeding, dying man. Kneeling placidly beside the man, eyes fixed on his face, a girl.

Jayne coughed weakly. "I don't…I don't get it, girl. I thought…I mean…"

"The money was too good, Jayne," said River blandly. "I got stupid."

On the border planet of Regina, on the outskirts of a small mining town, a man. A burly man, he moved with purpose, eyes scanning the brush. He had close cropped black hair dressed in filthy, shabby clothes. He was visibly armed, a large Callahan full-bore autolock in both hands, two pistols at his hips, and a high-make shotgun strapped across his back. Four grenades were strapped to bandoleers running across his chest.

Behind the man, a girl. She followed him at a distance, wending her way through the rocks and scrub about five feet behind him. She was thin, delicate creature with long black hair and large, protuberant eyes that never left the man's back. She padded barefoot through the grass, silent as a wraith.

The man was aware of her, but he did not look back until they had reached a hover mule hidden by brush and twigs. The man went to work brushing the twigs aside…then snorted impatiently and shot a glare over his shoulder at the girl. She was standing there patiently, five feet behind him, arms locked behind her back and regarding him curiously.

"Don't just stand there like a Yi Dwei Da Buen Chuo Roh! Help me clear the mule!"

River smiled sweetly. "Yes, Jayne."

She padded forward and went to work vigorously brushing the mule free. She hefted full sized tree branched in her thin arms without any apparent effort. Jayne took his turn to watch, not bothering to lend his aid. She would have the mule cleared far faster than he.

And she did. Ten minutes later she stood again, arms behind her back, smiling cheerfully at him. Jayne ignored her, and got into the mule. He strapped his goggles on, and fired it to life.

She vaulted easily into the vehicle just as it started to move, grabbed her own pair of goggles, and pulled them on. She regarded him politely as he drove over the prairie landscape.

"Where are we going, Jayne?"

"'Bout fifteen miles out," said Jayne, not looking at her. "Bandits are s'pposed to be parked by a creek. Only clean water from here to the gold mines over the mountains."

"So we're going to kill them," said River dutifully.

"Hell yeah. Headman's willin' to pay a pretty peck o' silver. Silver's s'pposed to be in fashion on the Core Planets this year. I can get quite a bundle for it."

River smiled again. "Can I have some, too?"

"What d'you need money for?" Jayne demanded. "You're already spongin' off o' me. I feed you, don't I?"

"Not very much," said River, still with a smile on her face. "But that's okay. I'm a skinny little freak. I don't eat much."

Jayne nodded approvingly. "Damn right."

"Can I use a grenade?"

He shrugged. "Sure, I guess. Long as you only use it when I tell ya to. I don't plan on gettin' blowed up today."

"I will, Jayne. I only blow up the bad guys."

That had a suspicious ring to it, and he risked a glance at her. River, however, only smiled pleasantly at him.

Jayne decided to leave it at that. She'd gotten quite a mite saner since that mayhem on Miranda, but she still had her crazy times. Usually, she got over it if he left her to herself to mumble it off.

River had been running with him for about a year now. This was largely because he couldn't get rid of her. He'd tried several ways, most of them lethal to an ordinary human being. But River, while now mildly sane, was still anything but ordinary.

He'd tried shooting her in the back. She'd whipped round and caught the smoking bullet between her thumb and forefinger. He'd tried knifing her in her sleep. She'd snapped the blade off and stabbed his hand with it without so much as opening one eye He'd tried beating her to death. She'd nearly done the same to him. One of his last attempts, when he'd been good and desperate, had involved poisoning her. She'd dumped the soup on the floor without even picking up her spoon and looked at him like he was the dumbest thing in the 'Verse.

But, even as he tried again and again to off this crazy little girl, she'd worked loyally for him. She shot who he told her to, went where he told her to, and did what he told her to.

Despite himself, Jayne smiled. Maybe Mal and the Doc and the others had just been a bad influence on dear little River. Maybe all she needed was a more…appropriate role model. Someone like him. Yeah, that sounded good. Someone to teach her to act like a normal human being…and someone to teach her how to do what she was damn well told. That had always been the Captain's problem, he'd let her get away with too much…

She was suddenly staring at him again, and he hurriedly shut that train of thought down. Another thing he'd never been quite sure of was whether or not the little Wu Toh Wu Now Luh Suh could still read minds…

But she merely tilted her head and said: "The engine's going to break down."

"What? No it ruttin' well ain't!"

"Yes it is."

"No it ain't!"

She smiled, like they were playing a game. "Yes it is. It's going buzz buzz buzz. We're driving a bumblebee. And bumblebees sting."

With that, she vaulted out of the mule, landing lightly on her feet.

"What the…?" Jayne asked, staring back at her, and then his memory was a confused jumble of images that ended with a jarring impact.

More tomorrow. Don't you worry. And it will be morbid and creepifying soon, I can guarantee that.