Title: What Will Be and What Is
Rating: PG-13 (though there is cursing in Chinese)
Timeline: Post BDM
Betas: I'm highly indebted to both ru_salki99 and an_ardent_rain for their help on this. With out their feedback I don't know what I would have done!
Prompts: Song in his heart, Misplaced, Smirk, Games, Salt shaker, Icky feeling in the pit of the stomach, A blanket of night studded with stars
Summary: River insists she and Jayne will end up together. Jayne doesn't take well to this news; written for the whedonland giftgiving on LJ
Jayne found that you could never get himself a midnight snack in peace, on this ship. It always ended up with someone stumbling into the kitchen wantin' to talk. So when River entered, he thought nothin' of it. These days it was often her to do the stumblin' in and she yabbered on a lot less than the rest, so he didn't mind.
Today, though, was different. Instead of sittin' down like any normal person would, she walked slowly around the kitchen, her eyes wanderin' about as if searchin'. Every few seconds though, they would fall on him. This was the River of old and that River wasn't welcome here. Just as he was about to tell her to cut it out, she slipped into the chair next to him. He relaxed a moment, before realizin' she was sittin' there all stiff like and still starin'. He shifted his jaw in displeasure. The girl was a lot better since Miranda. She was still a bit crazy and creepifyin', but in a silent, non annoyin' way. This, on the other hand, made him want to take out Boo. It reminded him of all sorts of uncomfortable things, like the mind readin'. Damn girl had been getting better at it, it seemed, which he didn't mind, so long as it wasn't used on him.
He lowered his spoon and grumbled, "Shouldn't you be flyin' the ship?"
Jayne grunted and stared down at his food. Still he could feel her Goddamned eyes on him. Well, if she was goin' to go nosin' around where she didn't belong, he'd give her a treat. Settin his mind to it, he started thinkin' 'bout those girls on Cebus. There wasn't nothin' they wouldn't do for a bit of coin, as him and some other guys had found out. He chuckled as he remembered the show they had put on. Smirkin' on down at her, he looked to see her reaction. It hadn't worked. She remained where she was, smilin' at him knowingly.
He narrowed his eyes. "Whatcha want, girl?"
"I'm not a girl anymore."
Jayne rolled his eyes, but as she continued staring, he frowned. "Your starin' is giving me the creeps. Tell me what you want or get."
Tilting her head, she studied him in that way that unnerved him. Jayne thought that she wasn't so sure she wanted to say what she was goin' to, but she did, "We are going to be together."
Crinkling his forehead, he sneered, "What?"
"We will lay together, as lovers, in heated embrace." Leave it to the girl to say it like that.
Shaking his head in wonder, for a moment, he snapped out with a "Like hell!"
"But I have seen it," she insisted. "Hands, feelings, honey kisses."
"Wo de ma!" Jayne rubbed his head in annoyance. Glancing up, he saw that she was smilin' at him. Eyes wide with meanin' he said, "No."
"No! You cut it out with all that wo gôu pì." No way, ain't gonna happen." At a loss he added, "What put this in that crazy head of yours anyways?"
"I told you. I saw it."
Jayne closed his eyes. He sincerely hoped she was kidding. He had been around her long enough to know that if she saw somethin', that somethin' was bound to happen and none of it good.
When he opened his eyes, she was making a pitiful face at him.
"I don't understand why you will not accept this truth. It will be, as if it already is."
Much to his shock, she went to cup his face. He quickly pushed his chair back scrabblin' to get away from her and got up. He stood there, breathin' hard and locked in the moment, not believin' she had just done that. Slowly, all the while watchin' him, she rose. They stood there a second, starin' at one another, before River turned and walked causally to the door. Hangin' onto the frame she said, "My time and your time are not one in the same yet." With that she slipped away.
Sittin' back down, he gazed down at his food in confusion. He didn't have no clue what had just happened.
Time went on. River didn't bring up the subject again and Jayne as sure as hell didn't neither, but her words stayed with him and he knew they would come again. It was like 'the' bullet. The one he knew would one day be headin' his way. It hadn't been fired yet, but he knew it sure as hell would be. And when it hit, damn if it didn't leave him flat on his back and howling in pain. Didn't help any that he knew it was goin' to happen.
At first, he had tried to avoid her, but with such a small crew, his chances were slim. Way he figured it, it was stay in his bunk, leave or face up to the girl. Bunk was out, unless he wanted to go stir crazy and he wasn't about to have a girl chasin' him away from a comfortable situation. So he found himself in her company. One day in the cargo bay and next in the kitchen and always on the job. Jayne kind of liked her on the job. Even with wearin' all those frilly dresses, she was tougher than most and a helluva fighter. He admired that. 'Sides, Mal's plans went to hell less when she was around, so it was practical. Meant more coin in his hand and less visits to her hundan of a brother.
As for the rest he wasn't so sure. These days, all it took was her passing him the salt or her smirkin' at him, after she had won a game and he'd get that feelin' in the pit his stomach. The one that he got when things had turned south and he knew he was in trouble. He just wasn't sure what kind of trouble that was.
Worse still, he found that every time he turned around, she was there more than ever. Rest of the crew was busy, Zoe with mournin' and the rest screwin'. Seemed the two of them were stuck together whether either of them wanted it or not.
This led them to the event on the ice planet.
A strange effect of traveling planet to planet was that on one landing' you could be in the middle of a burning hot summer and then on the next be in the deep freeze of winter. Today, they landed on a big old pile of snow.
Made sense though. What they were haullin', this time, was enough wool to make a whole city itchy. Still, as Jayne glanced around, he realized that this area was in the midst of the darkest days of winter and if the decorations up in town were any indication, they were about to have their winter celebration.
"Ain't this shipment a little late? Best they'll be getting is some socks before winter's end."
Mal turned to him as they walked through town. "It's never late here. It don't get much warmer than this at the best of times and not too many people journey to these parts. They take all they can get."
Jayne frowned. An ice planet, cold year round. "Someone force them to come here?"
"No," Mal drew out, "They did that on their own."
Jayne was always amazed people were willing stayed in these places. His home had seasons and even with that, he didn't stick around. Ain't nothing that would have made it worth it, but here? Less so.
Suddenly, River walked up beside him, "They stay to mine. Under the hard surface are rare resources. They're hard to get and only found here. It pays enough to acquire the essentials and accumulate wealth. When their greed is fulfilled, others stand in waiting.
Jayne remained silent and keep walkin'. No reason to wonder how River knew this sort of thing. She always did and she knew enough to know he wasn't ignorin' her.
"Are you not tempted to be green?" she said in a teasing fashion.
"Might be, if I knew what you were talkin' 'bout."
"If you stayed one cycle of the moon, your income would exceed twelve on Serenity."
He huffed, "Don't know much about moon cycles, but I do know one thing. Ain't spending one inside an ice cube," He glanced around the little settlement they were talking through, "Sure has a lot of bars though," He supposed where there was cold, that'd be lots of drinking and where there was plenty of drinking there was good money and where there was good money there was whores. He beamed as his eyes met with a sign offering special 'services' within.
As if noticing, Zoe walked up to him, her arms huddled around herself, "Keep walkin' Jayne. There ain't enough whores and drink in this town for even you to want to stick around."
"Don't know 'bout that." He snickered as thought about what whores would be like on this planet, "Wonder what the girls around here wear to lure a fellow. Long johns and scarves?" He licked his lips, sort of curious to find out.
"There'll be plenty of time to find out, after we met up with the contact," Mal barged in. "For now, get walking. I'm cold."
Jayne smiled, thinking that this just might be his lucky day. That is until he saw River staring.
"Their touch is cold," she said plainly.
Jayne shot her a 'what the hell' look, "This whole planet is cold."
Now it was River's turn to shoot him a look. It was that one he hadn't seen in a good long while. The one she got when she was being all mystifying and he didn't get her craziness.
For once the meeting with the contact went smooth. These people didn't muck around. They just wanted their cargo, plain and simple and were more then willin' enough to pay some platinum to anyone who might come their way with it. The guy in charge even hinted that they'd be more then willin' to throw more work their way, if they were interested. Mal was so thrilled that Jayne was sure he'd ask the fellow for his hand in marriage. Still, the likelihood of them bein' in these parts weren't high. It was a little too outer rim, even for them.
As they left, Mal went on and on about it though. How they had a good fallback, if they even needed one. For those tight squeeze times when jobs were scarce.
Zoe just arched an eyebrow and River remained quiet. Jayne though felt to need to point out the problem with this little fallback plan.
"Well, Mal," he joked, "I'll tell you what. When that time comes, I'll pay for the whole trip here, if we have even half the fuel needed to make it out here."
Jayne gave him his most cocky smirk as Mal frowned. They both knew well that tough days on Serenity meant barely enough fuel to make it to the next planet let alone the outer rim. They'd not be back anytime soon.
Seeing his point, Mal shut up.
A moment later, River smacked him in the arm, "You're mean," she said with some spirit.
Jayne smiled, "'Bout time you noticed."
River rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him.
As they turned the corner, all four of them stopped dead.
"Ain't this quant," Mal exclaimed.
Down the whole street were stalls with merchants selling their goods. Jayne could see the steam from the cookin' food and even smell it from here. Behind each stall a small firepit was lit, keeping their owners warm. And as if to add some color to this white world, streamers and greenery was strung about. As a bunch of loud girls walked by, his eyes trailed up to the banner they had just walked under. It said 'Town Fair.'
Jayne laughed, taking in the sight. "Oh, Kaylee would love this! Think it all kinds of shiny."
"Well, we're here for another day," Zoe replied calmly. "We can send her this way once we get back to the ship."
"Speaking of which…" Mal waved them all to get movin'.
"I think I'll stay here," he said, thumbing his way towards the street with the bars, though his eyes were still on the street in front of him.
"Suit ya self."
Jayne stood there staring, as they walked away.
"They need to be uplifted in a time of gloom," a soft voice suddenly came. "Sweets and kisses and shiny objects."
"I don't see this time as being gloomy. Makes me miss home." Glancing over, he saw River standing next to him. He cleared his throat. "Errr. Thought it was all sorts of stupid anyways."
Eyes wide, she smiled knowingly, "Traditions are needed elements of time."
"Yeah… I suppose," After a moment, he snapped his head towards her, "Wait! Whatcha you still doin' here?"
"I've chosen to remain as well."
He frowned, "Well, I got somethin' I need to be doin'," As he turned to go, she grabbed onto his arm with both hands.
"Stop being a boob. Enjoy the festivities first. Whores are as old as time."
He arched an eyebrow, "Cold and old whores. Don't say much about this place."
She rolled his eyes as a smile tugged at his lips This time he knew what she meant. It was just more fun this way.
Sighing, he gave in and started walking. After a moment, he realized she was still hanging onto his arm. Pulling away, he placed his hands behind his back. Didn't want no people thinking they were couplely.
They walked a bit, looking at the stalls. He bought some meat on a stick that was pretty tasty and River went round picking up any object that caught her attention. Jayne found it amusing that she would glance at a table with hundreds of tiny objects and reach out a grab some small nothin' that anybody else would have missed. So much so, that on the third time she did it, he slapped a coin down and bought the nick nack for her. She smiled at him as ways of a thank you and slipped in into her pocket. Why she'd want a figurine of some winged bug, he'd never know, but he was happy that she liked it.
Eventually, they stopped at a platform where a bunch of people were going about in silly outfits and acting even sillier. Jayne got bored fast and headed over to a nearby stand selling warm pie. When he returned, he found River sitting on the ground, staring up at the makeshift stage.
He walked up next to her and glanced down, "Someone's gonna step on ya, if ya ain't careful."
"I might be small, but I'm not unnoticeable."
"If you want to sit, we can go somewhere else. This ain't that entertainin'.'"
"You're in snow!"
She gave him a too cheeky grin, "Worried about me?"
He frowned. "If I say yes, will you get up?"
"Then yes, now get you're ass up."
To his surprise, she actually did what he asked. They stood there a moment, before he added, "I was goin' to leave you in a bit and go off on my own, but now I'm not so sure."
"Because you're being yúchûn." He shook his head.
"Am not. I was enjoying the show."
"Fine," he dismissed her with the wave of a hand. "Do ya want to go off on your own, now?"
"No. I can't."
"Why?" he asked scowling with confusion. It wasn't like the old days when you had to keep the girl on a leash… or several.
"How can we be, if we are never together?"
His jaw dropped open, "That again!"
She held up her hand like she was trying to calm him, "I didn't mean to cause distress. I simply enjoy your presence and I know you enjoy mine."
"I put up with you is all and stop tellin' me what I'm feelin'. I know what I'm feelin'."
At this her face crumpled, "Untrue, invalid, fallacious," she pouted.
"I'm not quite what I was. I was air and now I am solid."
"You talk less nonsense then you did," Jayne admitted, though this moment might not be the best example of it. As the words left his mouth, he was surprised to feel a sudden tug at his heart. Now that he knew her story, her craziness was less amusing then it once was. He felt a bit sorry for the girl, though he knew she'd likely clobber him on the nose, if she knew he was feeling anything close to pity. He kind of liked that too.
But here she was, yanking at her hair and looking like she was going to cry, "This wasn't how today was supposed to happen."
Jayne growled in frustration, before crumpling himself, "Look. I ain't fit to be with a girl like you. Anyone with a lick of sense will tell you that."
"I don't care about sense. I care about this," She put her hand over his heart, gazing down at her action, before glancing back up.
He darted his eyes away. "Aw River," He took a deep breath. "I'd ignore anythin' goin' on in there. It ain't worth it. Trust me."
She smiled brightly, "You just admitted that there was something going on in there."
"…I don't know, perhaps," He shrugged. "I like you just as much as the rest of the crew."
"Well, more then that brother of yours," he grabbed her by the chin and looked her in the eye, "Which is reason enough right there that we shouldn't be discussin' this."
"Ge ge won't be happy."
"Exactly." Glancing about, he realized there was no point in either of them staying, "Come on, let's go back to the ship."
Walking down the street they passed by two familiar faces. Kaylee greeted them with a bright 'Hello!' And Simon called out, "Where have you been. I've been looking for you everywhere," in that ta made niao way of his. But they kept on walking. Neither of them spoke a word, until they reached Serenity .
Standing at the entrance Jayne turned to the girl and ran his hand over his face, unsure what to say, "Errr, well that was… a day."
"Yes," her eyes turned back the way they had just came, as if she could still see the fair, "I wonder if we'll be back someday."
She looked disappointed with that fact, "Right. Goodnight."
Jayne watched her walk off. Before she disappeared from view, he swore he heard her say something. It sounded like, "This isn't how it was supposed to happen." But that might just have been his imagination talking.
A few hours later, Kaylee ran into the cargo bay, dragging a panting Simon behind her. His arms were full of bags, holding what must be Kaylee's newest treasures. Jayne dropped what he was doing and snickered at the sight.
"Everybody," she yelled. "Get your butts out here or I'll drag you out!"
Everyone tumbled in, asking questions, of course.
Mal pushed his way to the front of the group, glaring at Kaylee, "Yiqi shen huxi," he said hushing them all. "Now, Kaylee, mind tellin' me why your screaming at the members of my crew?"
"We all have to go back to the fair!" she said all smiles.
"And just why is that?" he said dryly.
"Come on, you'll see!"
No one seemed eager to go, but when Kaylee frowned and came out with 'Nimen duo shi shagu,' they all went off and got ready.
When they arrived, the crowd from earlier had tripled. Half the people where in a cleared out field, dancing and singing in front of a huge bonfire. The rest continued visiting the vendors and entertainments held on the main street.
"There's goin' to be fireworks," Kaylee said excitedly.
"Ain't logical to be havin' the main event at this time," Mal commented. "Everyone will freeze to death."
"No they won't. This is their summer fair!" Kaylee said brightly.
"Summer? Wo de ma! Who in their right mind lives here!"
"Don't know, sir, but even with this fair, I'm hoping we're heading out tomorrow."
Mal nodded though he was still blown by the 'news.' "Will be."
Soon they were all settled by the bonfire on blankets the towns folk kindly lent them. Of course, they all paired off. Simon and Kaylee were on one. Mal and Inara were playing their mind games on another. River settled down by him and Zoe… Zoe was all alone. Watching the two couples made him feel a bit alone, but seeing Zoe, made him know he was all right. Her sort of loneliness was a whole lot worse.
River leaned against him and whispered, "'Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.'"
"A great wordsmith of old."
Jayne scoffed. He didn't quite see it that way. Zoe was a fine a woman as they came. He once wouldn't have minded bedding her himself, but now? That would be all sorts of depressin'. Besides, it had always been Kaylee that he had had his hopes set on. Yeah, he would have been more then happy with that. As his mother use to say, she was the sort of girl that could make the shiny ones seem dim. And she'd be quite handy too. Too bad he didn't realize how much until that prissy Doc came along and mucked things up.
Suddenly, River pushed off him, got up and ran off. Jayne closed his eyes, not wanting to know what was with the girl now.
It was only Zoe, who noticed. "What did you do now Jayne?"
"Nothin'. I swear. Was just sitting here."
"Well, fix whatever that 'nothin' is." When he didn't move, she added a powerful, "Go, Jayne!"
He sighed and got up, annoyed. Since when was he responsible for making sure River was happy? He didn't know.
It didn't take long to find her. She was seated a short distance away, on a fallen tree, watching the group. He sat down next to her.
"What's with you?"
"You shouldn't be thinking of her like that?"
"Wha?" At first he didn't have the foggiest what she meant, then it dawned on him. He clicked his tongue and snarled, "Stop readin' my mind then! Damn crazy girl!"
"Sunshine is with Ge ge and you're not."
"Don't need to be told that," he said dully.
"She is not a plaything. Not something to want because the other child has it. Not to covet when uncherished. She is to be wanted because she is wanted. Otherwise she will be broken. And your reasoning is invalid."
Jayne was taken back by the passion in her voice, even if half of it flew right by his head. It was then he knew, "You're jealous," he said with wonder, before a sly smile came to his face.
River huffed. "I'm stating fact. Kaylee is Simon's and you're…"
"What… Yours?" Jayne knew it was a mistake the moment he said it and wished he'd kept his big mouth shut. "River-"
But she didn't act like he thought she would. Instead of getting angry she gazed up to the sky. "A blanket of night studded with stars."
"Okay," he drew out, once again lost.
"When you're in it, you don't see much. Not really. It's only a moment, a spec. You're seeing it through small windows in time. It is only stepping back that you see it more clearly and even then you are only seeing what they were. Not what they are and will be."
Jayne wished he didn't understand what she was saying, but somehow, he did. He had stood in Serenity's bridge a million times and gazed upon those stars. It was a mind-blowin' sight, but still be knew he was only seeing a bit through some window. Still, he didn't know why she was saying it.
"I don't see like that," she explained. "I see what they were and what they are and some of what they will become. Like I see you. Only they are a haze and you're like a shining sun. For me, you burn bright. Brighter then the stars."
"The song is in your heart. You refuse to listen," Scrunching her face, she paused. "No, that is false. You hear the song, you just pretend another is playing."
"I don't pretend nothin'." Jayne rubbed his palms against his pants and stared down to the snowy ground. "Not fit for you. I know that and if I didn't the rest of the crew…" He shook his head, before looking her straight in the eye and shrugging.
"Your worry is misplaced. What you will be, already is."
What she was saying was a bit too much. He didn't believe any of it, but he knew she did, "Ah hell, why I don't I just take you to my bunk and ravage you now then," he joked.
She giggled and he just rolled his eyes, giving her a smile.
"I'd like that," she said plainly.
"Then you think I'll love you? Easy as pie?" He hoped not, because if that was so, he would have had his heart broke many a times.
"No. You are not at all easy to earn. Not at all. To win you is to win the prize at the end of a long perilous journey. You meet with a thousand deaths, before your finger even grazes it," She reached out like she was trying to do just that.
He shook his head. This girl was something else, "You've got me all confused. I don't know what I want and don't want anymore.," He glanced at her. "But… Don't get the wrong idea, but…"
He placed his arm around her and leaned in, giving her a peck on the cheek. Quickly, she turned her head, sneaking a kiss on the lips. They lingered a single moment, before he pulled away. As she sighed happily and snuggled into his chest, he smiled. Holdin' her a moment, couldn't hurt. But as he thought this, she quickly pulled away.
"Jayne! That was the moment! The one I saw, the one that just passed. That was it!"
"Was it? All this, for that?" He was amazed. "Well, I hate to tell you this sweetheart, but we ain't together."
"No, I was wrong, this is only the beginning," She got a strange look her in eyes. One that was wild and a bit something else… "But we will be. I shall go on an epic journey. I shall go many places and do many things and even go into the beyond," she smiled. "The seven deadly trials of River Tam. When I reach the end, I will get my reward."
He gave a small laugh and kissed her on the side of the head. "Well, if you go through all that I might just have to go and give in."
She grinned. "Oh, you will and you'll be happy."
Translations:"Wo de ma!" - mother of Jesus
Wo gôu pì.- love bullshit
hundan - jerk
Ge ge - Older Brother
ta made niao - goddamned
Yiqi shen huxi- let's take a deep breath
Nimen duo shi shagu- Idiots. All of you.
Note: This was my first Firefly or Rayne fic. Hope it is okay. :)