Title: Mistaken
Author: sasusc
Characters: River, Jayne
Prompt: #1 Fall
Challenge: Fall Challenge at LJ's comm: rayne_shippers
Word Count: 2262
Rating: PG-13
Timeline: Post-Series
Summary: River follows Jayne and discovers how far she had fallen in love with him.

She never knew until this moment why they called it "falling". It wasn't a physical fall, but it could hurt just as much as falling from a small step or a tall building. It was exhilarating--the fall--and it made them both fear and want to keep their eyes open as they fell. She was guilty of doing both. It she wasn't sure if she was blinded from the wind or if she had closed her eyes towards the end of the fall. It might have been a little bit of both.

Now she laid there, broken into a million little pieces, when she finished the fall. It was painful--more painful than if she had really fallen from a tall building--and it was so real. Why would people willingly risk their heart and soul if this was a possible outcome? They couldn't control how steep they would fall or even if there was going to be anyone at the bottom to catch you. It hurt too much.

She wanted to cry a river of tears; she wanted to lash out and hurt him even more than he had hurt her. She wanted him to hold her and tell her he was wrong; she want to pick up a weapon and kill him.

Instead, she stood silently--a stone frozen in time--and watched them. He held her gently in his arms. She was flushed against him keeping constant contact between them. The woman was topless while he still had most of his clothing on--although it wouldn't take much time to rid himself of them. She knew how quickly he could undress; it was one of the things she always admired about him.

They were in a dark alley, away from most prying eyes and a semi-private place. They could come out here and have passionate sex without any disturbances--at least none that would distract them from their goal of reaching mutual satisfaction. She could see them perfectly in the outline of the soft glow from a streetlight. She couldn't do nothing but watch them find pleasure in each other arms.

She had known she was falling in love with him. It had frightened her, but she had pushed past her fear and took that plunge. She didn't realize that it wasn't the fall itself she should have been afraid of: it was the end.

Zoe had taken that same plunge when she fell for Wash. She had fallen deep, but Wash had been waiting at the bottom for her to protect her and keep her safe. Inara was still falling, but unlike Zoe's, her jump had been filled with space mines that caught up with her more often that she hoped. She could only avoid them for so long before they could find her. But she wasn't alone on her journey. Mal was right along side of her--sometimes hidden from her sight or taking a slightly altered path but he always came back to her.

Why couldn't she have some of that? Why couldn't she find a little peace? Was she bad? Was she not worth it? Had the Academy made her so unworthy--so far from being a human girl--that she would never find that same happiness Zoe and Wash had found?

So deep in her misery and pain, she didn't notice the body pressing up against her. It was several minutes later when she felt the warmth of his body heating the layers of iciness that had settled across herself as she had watched her heart break. She glanced up at him, confusion written plainly on her face.

"Hey," he said as the dead expression slowly faded.

"Jayne?" River meowed softly. Tears threatened to fall from her eyes.

His hand squeezed her shoulder and tugging her closer to his side. She didn't want to take her eyes off of him, but she had to take another peak at the couple in the alleyway. As far as she could tell, they weren't an illusion.

"What are doing out here?"

"She followed you," she said simply.

He shook his head. "You got it confused. I followed you."

She pointed towards the couple. The sound of their loving making could barely be heard over the sound of the city behind them. Jayne glanced at them. He remained silent in hopes that she would start making sense if he gave her time to sort it all out.

"But she did. She saw and heard, and thought they could find a quiet place like this for themselves."

Jayne couldn't keep the smirk from forming on his lips despite his concern at her lapsing into third person. "This one is being used. We can find another one. We still got time before Mal or Simon starts looking for us."

She turned to him, fisting her hands into his shirt before standing on her tiptoes to gain more height. "It was you. He's Jayne. She doesn't know how--or even if she's sane right now, but he looked and smelled and talked just like Jayne. That's Jayne."

Jayne placed his hand on her hips and anchored her to him. "That's not me. I'm Jayne. Jayne is right in front of you."

She buried her head into his chest. "But the girl knows what she knows. It doesn't make sense. Jayne can't be in two different places, but that's the conclusion she has arrived at. Take her to see the brother. He needs to know that the meds need to change. They are not working."

"There is only one Jayne," he told her forcibly. "That's me. I'm the real one." He grabbed her hand and placed it over his chest right over his heart. His heartbeat had always calmed her down when she went through an episode of craziness. He watched as her whole body began to relax with his steady heartbeat.

"Jayne," she whispered.

He opened his mouth, but didn't get any farther than that before the man in the alleyway shouted the woman's name. Was it strange that it sounded familiar to him?

River tensed in his arms. "That's your voice. The girl knew she had followed Jayne out here." She pulled away from him, accusation heavy in her eyes. "She had jumped and she had expected you to be there--if not in the fall, than at the bottom to catch her or even behind her. But she fell and you weren't there. No where close to her."

"When did you fall? You don't look hurt."

"She fell in love with Jayne and he broke her when she followed him out here."

Surprised, he asked her, "You love me?"

She nodded, rubbing the tears away from her eyes. "River loves Jayne--she does. After what they put her through, she could withstand anything and everything but the girl doesn't think she can go through this pain again."

"What pain?"

She waved towards the couple. "The girl doesn't want you to do that anymore."

He scowled down at her. "I like sex. There's no way I'm giving that up! Don't you like sex?"

"She likes sex. She loves having sex with Jayne. That's not the point." She stumped her foot in annoyance. She took a calming breathe before speaking. "I don't want to see you with anyone else. I would know… I would know if you did it. You can't hide that from me." She tapped her head.

He moved in closer to her, shortening the distance she had put between them. "I can't promise you that you would be the last."

River nodded understandingly. "It's very hard to predict the future that far away and there is too many variables to take into consideration when assessing the future."

He nodded as if he understood exactly what she had said. It sounded like a fancier version of what he had said. "Yeah, that. My mama would shoot me if I messed around on a good woman like you. Not to mention the kind of pain you could put me in if I even think about doing something like that. You could kill me and nobody would know." His eyes narrowed in thought. "Come to think of it, the crew would feed me to the Reavers if they thought I did something like that. Your brother has his fancy medical learning to torture me. And Mal and Zoe have their own brand of torture they would use…"

She tugged at his chin and forced him to look back at her. "You're wandering."

"The point I was trying to make was that I wouldn't do that."

"But you have. You did it with other girls."

"Those girls were whores," he growled at her. "You're a lady."

River wasn't sure she understood the differences between the girls he usually bedded and her, but she went along with it. Jayne had an insightful look into the nature of people that was oftentimes overlooked. He could get right now to the truth of things in a very simple and direct way without letting things overcomplicate it.

"Okay," she said. "No having sex with anyone but River."

"Uh," he replied.

She raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that what we are agreeing upon?"

"I thought it was understood since we started this…uh…relationship."

"It was never put into words until now."

He rolled his eyes. "So that's it? All this was about that?" He shook his head. "Women! Now, let's find ourselves our own alley."

"River is still not a hundred percent positive that that man is not Jayne."

"What?" He turned to stare at the couple. They were straightening their clothing. "I'm Jayne. I'm standing right in front of you."

She nodded. "Two separate realities could be converging on her right now. Am I here with you now? Or is that you from another time having a quickie in the alley? Is it the past Jayne or the future Jayne?"

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

She twirled away from him and ran towards the couple. They glanced up at her, stun to see her coming towards them. The man quickly adjusted his zipper and smirked at her.

"We're all done here, girly. Or did ya want to join in?"

River stopped inches away from him. "Looks like him." Sniffing, she said, "Smells like him." She reached out and placed a hand over his heart. "But not him."

"Sorry, folks," Jayne apologized. "Girl belongs in a bughouse."

"She is satisfied that the man is not Jayne."

"Jayne?" the man nearly shouted at the same time Jayne shouted the man's name. "Kelly!"

The two men grinned as they gave each other a bear hug.

"What are you doing here?"

"Could ask the same of you."

River cocked her as she studied the two men side by side. Almost a perfect match, the one named Kelly was a younger copy of Jayne. Kelly had a scar above his left eye that she hadn't noticed until now. They eyes were a wrong shade of color and they didn't reflect the same kind of hardship she found in Jayne's eyes.


Jayne grinned as he pulled River to his side. "Kelly, meet River Tam. River, this is Kelly Cobb, my brother."

River beamed up at Jayne. "Off the hook, he's not Jayne."

"Told ya he wasn't me."

"Proof positive. No questions about it. It would have been nice to know you had siblings. She could have calculated it more accurately, and reached a better conclusion then the converging reality theory."

"Wow, got yourself a core-bred lady. Last time I checked in with Ma, she said you were working out on the rim and up to good."

"Still up to no good," River chimed in. "Your mother knows what you do?"

"She sure as hell knows it ain't public relations!"

Kelly snickered. "The look on Ma's face when you told that lie! She about slapped you silly for it."

"A man's gotta make a living somehow. Ma knows that."

His brother winked. "Better than most."

"Story to tell."

Jayne nodded. "Another time, darling. Working on the Serenity parked down in the loading docks. Ought to stop by before…" He glanced over to River. "We leaving in two or three days?"

"Two days, seven hours, and 38 minutes."

"Yeah, then. Stop by before then. Picked myself up some nice beauties since the last time I saw ya."

"I can see that," he replied glancing over at River.

Jayne smirked. "Can tell ya about that, too. Just don't say nothing about it to my crew," Jayne said nervously. "They don't know yet about me and River, and we plan to keep it that way for awhile."

River smiled. "Yes, too many of them will disapprove of us and try to throw Jayne out of an airlock. Almost happened once…Jayne being thrown out an airlock."

"That was before! I didn't know!"

River patted his arm. "She knows you're sorry. She had fun with you." She turned back to Kelly and his companion. "Now, you can socialize with your brother tomorrow. Kaylee and Inara will be rewarded with some beef and greens and will be having a celebration dinner. You're invited to dinner. Don't be late." She tugged on Jayne's hand. "We gotta go. Mal and Wash will be walking past this alleyway soon and we don't want to be discovered." She smirked up at him. "And Serenity will be empty tonight. We won't be discovered if we want to be adventurous with our sexual exportations."


She leaned in closer. "I want sex on the kitchen counter."

Jayne scooped her up and started to jog towards loading docks.