What Friends Are For

"Ain't right," Jayne murmured.

Kaylee nodded her agreement.

"Ain't right killin' all them kids like that. Gorram bastards." He sighed heavily and reached for the mug of engine wine Kaylee had put together for them earlier. After the events of Miranda, they all needed the release the wine provided them with. Taking a long swig, Jayne slammed the drink back down to the table with a loud 'clunk!'.

"It ain't," she confirmed. "They's deserve to go to the special hell that Book..."

"Yeah."

They exchanged a look. The entire crew had been hit hard by the death of their fellow shipmates. Wasn't a moment gone by that one of them could be found holed up somewhere, moping and remembering. Zoe, of course, had only grown more stoic and closed off. She had been affected the most. There was no getting through to her. Wash was a topic she rarely stuck around for nowadays.

"Well," Jayne broke the silence.

Smiling mirthlessly at him, Kaylee placed a hand on his arm. "Least we's all okay. You know. Except... except..."

"Book an' Wash?" He filled in for her.

Her eyes welled up with unshed tears but still, the smile graced her features. If she allowed herself to slip for even the smallest of moments, she would not be able to stop crying, she was certain of it. "I'll never forget them two. Was like an uncle or older brother to me, Wash was. An' Book..."

"Who'll I lift weights with now?"

Kaylee stared at him, wide-eyed. "Who's hand'll I hold if I get sick?"

The atmosphere was thick like some of the air had left the room. Heavy silence pounded on them until the distant sound of footsteps slipped through the void. There was a yelp from far off followed by an indistinctive shout from Simon, that told them that River was having another of her bad days.

"I will," Jayne suddenly said. "I'll hold your hand."

Serenity's engine hummed louder.

"Jayne," Kaylee protested weakly.

"No, I'm serious. You get sick, I'll be there." The look in his eyes was intense and unlike anything she had seen from him before. It made her heart flip in her chest and she wondered for a passing second if that meant anything. Nope. Probably not. She'd just gotten with Simon, after all.

"I...Jayne. But I can't lift weights with you," she tried.

He let her words hang in the air.

She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and began to tease it with her lips.

Jayne finally offered a shrug. "Don't matter none. Conjure I can teach Simon... Nah. The Capt'n'll surely give it a go. Or hell, Zoe."

Smiling – for real this time – Kaylee nodded. "Thank you."

Jayne returned the smile. His lips curled up into a very quick and very cautious grin. "Tha's what friends are for, right?"

fin.