Author's note: This story is my (late) Secret Santa gift to an_ardent rain, on the LJ community: Rayne exchange. It is still unfinished…a second part will follow as soon as work allows me, but I thought I would post this piece anyways. Hope that's okay, for this is my first time having dun a Secret Santa fic. It's not easy! Nor is it for me to write smut, but I hope its not too bitty or well…corny. Any helpful crits will be appreciated. Anyhow….happy late Christmas, happy New Year and enjoy this : I originally put this story as four years after the BDM, but then I stupidly posted the sequel saying it was six years. I'm going to stick with the six. :)

The Broken Christmas

"PART ONE" Directive

It was Christmas Eve, or thereabouts.

In the middle of the "night", River bolted straight up in bed; the lights were still dimmed in the corridor behind her door and only the gentle humming of the engine throbbed in her ears. For the first time in a long while, her mind was cleared of invading thoughts and drowning emotions; the many whispering secrets even appeared to have stopped their incessant chaotic assault on her brain, leaving a lucid calm.

It didn't last.

Something inside her brain clicked on and there were a sharp pop of pain.

In that instant, her temperature soared high, her breathing became deep heaving pants and her body began to shake uncontrollably. River whipped round to the side of her bed, placed her bare feet on the cold floor and leant her head forward into shaking palms. As her fingers clawed at her greasy tangled locks, the heat swelling, the burning all over her body made her rock back and forth.

The timer has run out, alarms are ringing. A new directive. It is not plausible, has no purpose. The calculations are all wrong, the dates are meaningless. The ringing is abnormal, out of time.

River stopped clawing at her head, caring not for the ripped threads between her fingers, and she looked up through the knotted tatters of her hair. She didn't understand why she was shaking, all she knew was something was niggling inside her head, forcing her and driving her. She couldn't shut it out or ignore it; River was compelled to make the ringing stop. Little beads of hot perspiration formed on her forehead and sweat trickled down her back, soaking through her thin white night gown. Her body was physically reacting to the noise, her calm had been broken.

River rose to her feet and slowly walked over to her door. Her hands were shaking as she slid it across; her palms were slick and red and she stood paused at the open threshold of her room gazing down at them, before rubbing her fingers against the material of her dress.

This was urgent, so she moved quickly across the corridor and went to open her brother's bedroom door. Her hand pressed against the partition and for a brief second River felt the need for her brother's help fade. He wasn't necessary or able; to have him help was wrong, seriously wrong and not even an idea to contemplate on. Not in a million years!

However she still opened the door and gazed in.

No. There was no need to disturb Simon as he slept, cradling little Kaylee tightly to his naked body. The sheets and their legs wrapped round each other like the fairy lights on the Christmas tree; Kaylee's hair sprayed in curls across Simon's chest and her hand lovingly snaked round his waist. They had happy smiles on their faces, content and pleasured, gorged full of the bliss of recent physical intercourse. There was a warm haze of love circulating this room; it just simply oozed from the sleeping couple.

River tilted her head and gazed at them. Confused as her body reacted strongly to seeing the couple like that, River felt her heart begin to beat faster and the sweat was starting to sting in her eyes. The urgency was too much, the instinctual need took over her normal reasoning functions, yet at the same time, she knew that she did not need Simon. He couldn't help her in any way.

She closed the door and looked off down the corridor.

Through all the chaos and insanity howling in her mind, River was drawn ever onwards towards the rest of the ship. But it wasn't right, now wasn't the time.

Is there a feasible alternative? She could stay in her room? Lock it, bolt it, prevent her from making a mistake, prevent her from seeing them and they might leave her alone until the next trip dirt side? When on Persephone, she will sneak out, the potential will be more difficult, harder to accomplish, but fun.

Or Inara! She will know what to do and she can help! No. Not like that! Advice, she might understand why she is feeling like this.

Nothing must stop it, no excuses, no resistance. Cannot be rational, it does not apply.

River began to walk, the cold metal floor appeared even more so against the heat of her soles, but it wasn't registering. She moved out of the passenger dorms and cautiously edged past the infirmary. She hated that place, the soft blue glow that escaped through the windows and the door reminded her too much of the Academy. Even four years after Miranda, the secrets of Parliament, of the "Blue Sun" were slowly unravelling and this was just another one…wasn't it?

There was pain in that room; always there was the pain and the screaming, along with the blood. The snapping of bone, the wails. They did things to her mind, a lot of things, but it hadn't just been those cuts into her brain that affected her. Something was different in her body.

River nearly jolted from what flashed in her mind…her, lying on the bed screaming, she was crying so hard and there was pain unlike she had ever experienced at the Academy. She didn't like this feeling, it ripped horribly in the depths of her stomach and she felt ill. She wanted desperately to be sick. She ran on away from the infirmary, focusing her mind on the sweet golden feelings still ebbing from her brother's room and in doing so, only made the urgency within her become more intense. Her frightened deep breathing changed to desperate pants as River hopped through the door that lead to the cargo bay.

The cargo bay was empty of folk and was just as the Captain had wanted, free and clear from the decorations of the "Gorram Christian Holiday." However, there were signs of the reaped benefits from their last job. A shiny new mule hung above River's head, the updated model was much faster than the previous one and could carry a lot more in weight; but that never stopped Kaylee from making a few minor improvements to it.

River spotted some of the new equipment that also accompanied the Mule, the rickety catwalks had been replaced with sturdier ones and she could tell that the console next to the cargo bay door had been replaced. It would now work after the old one had been pounded into uselessness after a certain merc took his anger out on it. Everything seemed new in her eyes, Serenity was radiating with beauty but nothing had changed. It was still her, she was still glorious. The money they received had allowed them to afford much this year, everyone was going to be gifted. Serenity was no exception.

With no one in here, River wasn't going to linger, even though she normally spent a lot of her time here, hiding in the shadows and watching the crew below with avid fascination. It was like a theatre show in this place; she would watch from her own private balcony hidden in the shadows as Mal and Inara argued, Kaylee hummed and sang; River would smile and giggle at the calls of her brother as he looked for her; and as for those moans of Jayne as he lifted his weights…the deep growling grunts….

The ringing was getting impatient again.

River shook her head in furious frustration, though it did little to dampen the incessant whines and she began to run through the bay and up the metal stairs to the crew quarters. As she approached the upper tier, she slowed and quietened her steps. She came to a halt between the crew bunks and the mess hall, gazing along towards the bridge.

The corridor was dark except for the multi-coloured lights framing Kaylee's door, the lighting from the bridge and of those behind her in the mess. The thoughts were strong here; the dreams and pictures from the crew were vibrant and powerful in an array of mixing colours. River edged along to the bunks, placing a hand on each door to get a feel of the occupant. Kaylee wasn't in…that much she knew, but even touching her door allowed her the connection all across the other side of the ship.

Sunshine. The long green grass is as tall as a man's head, bending in the warm breeze. She lay amongst it, bare and free from the grime and grease, with her Simon curled around her, his touches as delicate and tickly as the grass tracing over her skin. Happy, sensual…so in love. A summer's day.

River's head jerked back as the impact of Kaylee's dreamy feelings, nearly drowned and blinded her with dazzling golds and yellows. Her hand snapped away sharply from the fairy lit and tinsel draped bunk and she lost momentary balance. Staggering, she tried to steady herself at the next bunk, but that was just as intense.

Captain Daddy was asleep too…his snores were just barely audible through the metal, but his slumbering thoughts were screaming.

It's chaotic and confusing, the memories and dreams keep changing and won't keep still! The war, the violence and the faces of people he killed, of the comrades and friends he's lost, their faces still vivid, he will never forget.

Dinner times, the laughing and the telling of the stories paint brighter colours for him, it gives him the closeness he needs. The captain is always warmed by his crew, his family and it makes him proud. However, the family has suffered great loss, two are gone and so his anger returns.

The aim to misbehave…Reavers…the black…Serenity.

There is so much love for Her and so in kindness, Serenity flies for him, She keeps him safe. Good and bad, the dreams won't stop changing…remorse and fury….happy times….grief….

Captain Daddy wasn't resting.

River felt the tingle, the soft lips on his arm. She felt gentle slender fingers trace over his skin and rest over his heart, calming the racing beats to steady sated thumps.

Inara always settled him.

She is his guide through the woods.

Once Captain Daddy became serene in the arms of his companion, River took her hand away and touched the bunk nearest the bridge. Zoë.

Healed Zoë. Her dreams of her pilot, the man who made her soar and laugh, no longer causes her to cry. It's the future which is brightest and so full of promise. Content and at peace; protectiveness surrounds the warrior woman like an aura.

River was happy for Zoë, her grief during those years after Miranda had been more than River could handle. The little man maybe gone, but he was definitely not forgotten, not with the six year old who now sneaked into the bed to be beside his mother.

Little "Wash" had sneaked out to see what "presents" he had, unable to sleep for the excitement that overwhelmed him. He was too much like his father with those bright eyes and that cheeky smile.

River tilted her head to the side and eyed the last bunk, the bunk where the strongest vibes were coming from. She leaned down and smiled at the pretty pink fairy lights that had been ripped from the door, along with the plastic red and white "Santa"; which was now droning "ho ho ho" in a broken garbled and whining voice. The man-ape didn't want this go se on his door, he'd told Kaylee that enough times, so River placed them back on before heading towards the mess hall.

Captain Daddy had given into the mechanic's constant pleas, the mess hall and kitchen was dressed from floor to ceiling with Christmas decorations. Over by the lounge was a tall green and very real pine tree, its scent swirling in the air with the freshness of the world they had plucked it from. Lights, tinsel and assorted Christmas decor trailed over the walls and lined the edges of the tables and kitchen counter, displaying cheerful festive vibrancy. River remembered how she and Kaylee had such fun putting all this up with the assistance from Inara and Zoë, but the men had stayed out of their way. Mal and Jayne didn't assist through choice and Simon because he was more of a hindrance than any aid.

The tree itself had many lights and dangling ball-balls, as well as some home made paper coloured link chains, but around its base was what everyone, even Mal, were excited about. After the new upgrades for Serenity, there was more than plenty of money left; generous amounts for each crewmember. So the extra money was spent on presents from the last core planet they'd visited and were wrapped in the brightest of paper.

Yet River wasn't being drawn to the presents.

Already know what everyone has gotten her. Getting up in the middle of the night cycle to try and figure out what is hidden beneath the paper is irrelevant. To some people any way.

He such a boy.

River padded silently over to the kitchen counter and as she crouched into a suitable hiding position, the whining ring increased.

He was mostly concealed by the tree; though through the thick pine branches she could make out the contours of his square chiselled jaw, the unshaven stubble around his scruffy goatee and the glare of the Christmas lights in his eyes. Although all the colours shone and glimmered prettily on the pine, it's illumination on Cobb's face made him look far from angelic. To River, the colours that glowed upon his skin brought out his own. Intensely primal, dark and alluring.

Jayne Cobb was picking up individual presents from the base of the tree. His face scrunched up in quizzical curiosity as he shook and smelt at the paper, hoping for a clue of what was inside. He looked like a curious predator feline enthralled by such alien objects. A couple of the presents he shook made him smirk and grunt in amusement and it was these expressions which provoked an involuntary gasp to escape River's lips.

Jayne looked up suddenly, glaring round at the mess hall with suspicion. For a brief instant, there was a look of (fear?) before he put down the current present he was holding. He wasn't wanting to get caught and so those steely blues scowered the room for other members of the crew. He scrutinized all he could view of the mess hall with a snarl on his face, before he reached his hand up to the tree and picked off one of the dangling gold decorations. His lingered gaze round the dining room lasted for a long time, he sniffed; but once he was satisfied that it was "safe", he then began to peel away the golden foil. A few seconds later, he stuffed a large chocolate coin in his mouth.

Jayne picked several more of the treats off the tree and got to his feet. Moving from round the tree, he cussed angrily under his breath at the fallen needles pricking the bottom of his bare soles.

River moved back, resisting the driven needs to make herself known to him, but her eyes never narrowed from surprise at the tall mercenary. He normally slept in his clothes, always prepared in case another "Jubal Early" made it onto the boat. But now all that adorned him were a pair of boxers and seeing the sight of his near nakedness (his broad muscular body, his bulking bare arms and strong toned legs.) made River's breath catch. The sound was only slight, but it made him tense.

"Little man? Is that you?" he called out, his brow creasing in anger. River saw that his hand instinctively reached to the back of his boxers, no doubt for a gun or knife, as Jayne would never venture anywhere without some kind of weapon. "Gorramit, ya brat! Wha'did I tell ya? Git back to bed!"

Jayne was just about to peer over the kitchen counter when he stopped. Through sweating hair, River could see him frown in puzzlement before he took in a long deep breath through his nose. It was only when he recognised her scent that the grin formed slowly on his face. Jayne turned round in a small circle, scanning the room again like a predator, keeping his hands on the butt of his gun. He also made sure that he looked up at the ceiling, just in case she was going pounce at him with a tin of peaches…or some other such fruit.

"Come on out, Crazy…I know ya here."

Why is she hiding? Observation isn't necessary at this time, all the data is known and can be acted upon. Reveal yourself and your intentions!

The door slid across with a metallic screech and clicked shut, making the merc turn round and finally face her. River stood in front of the door, barely able to control her ragged breathing or keep her hands from stroking against her chest. She glared at him, brown eyes flickering up and down with heightened curiosity as he approached; she took in every scar that marked his tanned skin, River had tried to count them but the ripples on his bulging arms had her completely captivated. The flexing muscles, the deep growl within his breaths, the sheer bulking mass of him had her enthralled.

"Come to sneak a peak at yer presents too?" he sniggered, arching back his shoulders and heaving out that broad torso as his hands rested on the handle of his gun. "Well I'll tell ya what I told the lil' man, it ain't Christmas so ya can't ruttin' open anythin'. Dong ma?"

She never said a thing in reply to him. River stepped closer, her head tilting this way and that absorbing every minute detail of this robust man. He certainly is a giant compared to her; such a height, heavy set build and strong bone structure were perfect characteristics and as far as she was aware, he had no medical deficiencies or problems apart from what his drinking and smoking inflicted upon him. Her eyes sauntered down over his body and she bit her lip when she noticed that through his shorts, all too clearly, Jayne Cobb was not an average man.

"Crazy…you dun finished starin' at me with ya mouth open?" hissed Jayne, his head following River as she walked round him in a curious inquisitive circle. Obviously not able to turn his head completely in three hundred and sixty degrees, Jayne nearly cracked his neck to catch sight of her as she came back to his front. "Stop lookin' at me like I'm yer damned supper! It ain't funny!"

She wasn't laughing. River's silence was extremely irritating for him, especially when she gave him nothing but looks because it confused him. Jayne wasn't sure how to react to those wide deep brown eyes fixating and roaming all over him; yet his fists clenched tightly into balls anticipating some kind of an attack from her. There were no knives or weapons in her hands, but he knew (Jayne winced) what pain those dainty little fingers could dish out.

"If it bothers ya, I only took a coupla those choc money things." he said as River circled round him a few more times, still not saying anything but creeping him out. "It's not like the little Wash brat is gonna go without."

Nothing. River kept her eerie silence, the chocolate of no concern whatsoever. She was fixated on him with no concerns for consequences or qualms about his reactions. All that mattered was that it had to be done.

Her hand reached out and brushed lightly against his forearm. The feel of the light hair upon his skin made a crackle of static shoot between them, snapping back her hand and sending Jayne leaping away from her with horror. The retraction away from her caused his feet to become uncoordinated and so he tumbled backwards and into the kitchen counter.

River smiled.

At that fleeting touch, she felt waves of startling and mixing emotions come from the merc. Anger and fear being the usual, she was used to those emotions from him and their many different levels, but right now they weren't the strongest or dominant. His face certainly showed how uneasy and pissed off he was, but he was feeling anything but.

He liked it? He actually felt pleasure from her touching him? He wants the Girl to touch him again!

River moved back in closer and placed her hand once again on his forearm, this time trailing up and down his bicep before resting on the tense muscle.

"Stoppit." he growled as River's inquiring hand stroked down to feel his own. His balled up fists rose suddenly as if to push or even punch her but River didn't flinch. She just continued to stare at him with those unsettling eyes, whilst her fingers lightly traced over the backs of his knuckles.

"Gorrammit, ya looney-bint! Gerroff me!"

This time he did shove River away. The force behind it was enough to send her crashing against the wall; the paper chains ripping and falling to the floor as she stumbled. River was unperturbed by his rough actions for she had read his thoughts, seen the images he had been thinking and she knew that her intentions were not completely unwanted. There was also a longing for resistance, hope for a little bit of hurt.

River strode past him, each foot placed perfectly in front of the other, graceful yet eerie as she walked over to the other door. She closed it and the gentle thrumming of the engines were dulled out. The ringing was there, still panicking (can ringing panic?) shrill in tone, but the rest in her head was calculating, predicting and plotting.

"What the ruttin' hell is the matter wit' ya? Quit makin' them creeped out eyes at me and say somethin'!"

River manoeuvred round to his back, slipped his gun out from the waistband of his shorts and placed it on one of the chairs. With both of her hands, palms flat, she rested them against Jayne's back sliding them up along his spine and across his shoulder blades; the shock and horror of her touching him again, made Jayne scurry back towards the door.

"That's it!" he snarled, glancing nervously on the ever silent moon brain. "I ain'ts for you to touch, ya flipped out gorram crazy ruttin' psycho reader! You keep them there fiddlin' fingers to yaself, or else yer the one goin' in the air lock!"

The threat went completely over her head. River strode over to him and lashed out with her foot, her bare sole landing flat against the metal door and baring Jayne from opening it. Perfectly balanced on the small metal steps, River gazed longingly into the merc's ocean blues, both of them very much aware that the angle of her leg made her nightgown slip higher up to her waist, revealing pale smooth skin.

The buffeting of intrigue, arousal and confusion from Jayne made her sway only momentarily, however River composed herself as much as she could before her leg come back down. Encroaching on his space once more, she placed herself so close that her face almost touched and her lips could have grazed against his tight twitching pecks.

The smells that wafted from him buzzed a wonderful high throughout her, there were so many that were distinct to Jayne; she could identify every single one of them. River trailed her nose across him, sniffing; his dark hair tickling at her nostrils, but the overwhelming scent of sweat, sex, gun oil and cigars caused her to falter in her grace. She groaned again, whined as her tongue peeked out from between her lips and lapped at the air around him, hoping to taste the same smells that caused such an imbalance. River's shaking hands rose from her sides; so as her head sniffed around him in curiosity and want, her fingers inched closer to brush against Jayne's body.

In a split second, hard gripping fingers snagged round her wrists and with crushing force River was shoved back against the door and her arms were pinned above her head. The thud of her body against the metal forced a whining gasp from her lips, followed by a deep seductive moan when Jayne crushed against her. He was trying to be threatening and intimidating, he was trying to scare her, but it was doing the opposite.

As she looked up at Jayne, squirming in his grasp and nipping at her lip, she witnessed the unmistakable flare of arousal in those ice blues orbs before she was abruptly dropped down to the steps. The coldness of the metal went right through the material of her gown, making her shudder, yet it didn't stop her from pulling up the hem line above her knees; her legs parted wide and revealed only a small glimpse of the inner paleness of her thighs. When she looked up at the stunned Jayne, gawping at her with his mouth wide open, she pulled it up just a little further to draw his lustful glare towards what she wanted him to touch.

"Crazy…" The words could hardly come from his mouth as he salivated. Jayne wiped his mouth with his forearm and attempted to act as if he wasn't really turned on. "I'm gonna go back to ma bunk an' I'm goin' to…not be thinkin' on yer pantin… or yer heavy breathin'….an'…ya lickin' of those….hmmm…lips."

He jabbed his finger at her with a fierce scowl creasing his brow, in an attempt to be menacing, but his threat didn't work when he stuttered out a low incomprehensible mumble at the sight of her licking her lips again.

Swirls of fear churned within him, but it was the want and arousal that dripped off him like sweat. The pummelling attraction ebbing from him was hard to block out and ignore and neither could she ignore the unavoidable sight of the sudden tightness rising in his shorts. She was hurting, aching just as she knew he was; she had lost all shred of sense as primal instincts throbbed in her belly and between her own legs. This attraction or whatever it was was the primitive kind, raw and uncontrollable.

River turned over from her bottom onto her hands and knees; she crawled over to Jayne and began coiling herself tightly around his legs. He jerked and scrambled to move away from her but her hold on him was startlingly strong. Claw like fingers held a vice grip upon him and he wouldn't have been able to get her off him without resorting to kicking her hard in the face.

Those nails clawed languidly hard over Jayne's shins and calves, scouring through the hairs and leaving long red bloodied marks that burnt.

"Fucking gods, ya feng le! You've crossed the gorram line!" Jayne's fist lashed out and grabbed hold of her hair tugging River's head sharply back, yet such a reaction only caused the young woman to dig her nails in deeper to his legs. "Arrgh!"

His hand dropped her, ripping some strands from her scalp, but the pain didn't seem to register with her at all. Flopping back down around his ankles, River leant in close to where she had marked him and trailed her tongue along the red bloodied lines. Jayne cussed endless streams of low rumbling Mandarin curses, the pleasure so evident that he had to steady himself against one of the chairs.

As she licked at him like a cat with its favourite bowl of milk, he attempted to shake her off again, only to bite his own hand in an effort to muffle his scream, when teeth dug harshly down into the flesh of his leg.

"Ma de!" Jayne's legs almost gave out beneath him, though he managed to prevent his fall by stumbling against the wall. Jayne tried to hide the fact that what the little crazy did, not only hurt, but it turned him the hell on. "Girl…this just ain't …stoppit 'cuz I will trash ya for tryin' an' I don't need or want ya loopy fits and wacky crazed…craziness!"

A tiny giggle replied.

River coiled up and around his body like a snake, grazing her hands over his back and down to his hips. She lingered them on his slick sweaty skin, stroking and pinching with starving hunger, for she badly wanted to eat.

Achingly River trailed her fingers across his groin and caught hold of the band of his boxers. She pulled it out towards her and River gazed down inside with wide gleaming eyes.

More than satisfactory!

She released his waistband and heard it smack against his flesh with a wonderful snap. Jayne whimpered at the little burn it whipped on his skin; that whimper droned into a sexual growl as through his shorts, she took hold of his hardening member and squeezed.

The wide eyed, stunned and horrified glare was followed by a spluttering series of coughs and whimpers before Jayne tried pry her hold off him, but he could barely move or speak when she began to move her unyielding grip up and down his shaft. She could feel the heat of him swelling and soaking through his shorts, she heard it in his sensual growls and such larger than average stiffness was soon becoming inadequate in her hand. It was not enough.

Now, it was River's turn to push him back.

From the door Jayne stumbled, knocking over several badly placed plastic reindeers with flashing lights; he crashed into Mal's chair, wincing as it caught his back. River smiled and then gave him a harder push to the table, sticking her foot behind his ankles to trip him up. The force with which Jayne hit the table upset the other decorations, sending them clattering to the floor, there was even a deep cracking as the wood splintered under his weighty fall.

He managed to grab one of the fancy candlesticks Kaylee had brought, before it rolled off the edge and he held it out towards River as a weapon to use against her, or in the very least keep her away from him.

Jayne was evidently torn between his fear and his arousal, her hand on his John Thomas wasn't exactly a full on hand job…it even hurt a little…but he had (in his own way) liked it. He wasn't resolved on what to do with this sudden strange behaviour in River, but she knew she would be able to convince him. He would help her and enjoy it.

"Moon brain…I think more than a few screws have dropped outta yer skull…" River heard him mumble "an' mine…" under his breath. "this…what ya doin'…I don't wannit."

Liar. Liar. Inside your pants, you really are on fire.

River tilted her head to the side and approached the edge of the table, cautious at first, watching for any signs that he might lash out and attack; when none were apparent, River shoved him with all her might onto the table's surface. He was about to spout off some more angry and hurtful words, but their stares locked together. The shimmering blue in his eyes belied what his mouth had bumbled; he did want her, he was tempted, even if she was the crazy nut-job that he had tried to sell out to the feds all those years ago.

River had seen the images in his dreams after Miranda. The nightmares were always nightmares, full of blood, pain and screaming foul Reavers…but the end, was always of her. She had been startled when she had first looked in on his dream; for the nightmares turned to thoughts of her, naked, deadly and frightening. River also knew what he did in reaction to those nightmares. It had and was still turning her on.

Her heart rate increased, it thudded painfully inside her chest at the thought of doing those things he dreamed and wanted, she became disorientated as her mind was endlessly bombarded with Jayne's wild fantasies.

Jayne knew what she intended to do but there was still doubt within him. Doubt of getting caught, of being shot by the others, doubt of allowing himself to indulge in the sexing with the young (gorgeous…small…crazy) girl. Woman!

He wanted to leave, he wanted to stay, Jayne wanted to yell and scream just so the others would come, and he wished he had his gun to threaten her properly…but he was curious. She was willing, albeit in a scary way….River knew quite simply that the last of this doubt had to be erased

River pried apart his legs with shocking strength and positioned herself between them, smiling seductively. There was a long pause as they stared at each other, lost as some unspoken agreement passed between them. River spotted his trembling hands clutching at the end of the table; one let go to reach out to touch her, only to stop midway. Jayne broke the stare, he screwed his eyes tight shut and clenched his fists just as hard on the table.

"River…I thought ya were 'posed to be on the mend…you can't be….this ain't right. I'm tryin' to do the right thing here. Don't make it hard for me…"

River's dirty sniggering laugh didn't help things.

Neither did her nails which suddenly dug deep and hard into his hips. Jayne jolted on the table; he grunted at the pain and grabbed at her wrists, just where the bruise from his last hold was already beginning to form. Pulling her hands away from his now bleeding skin, furied and livid, he squeezed harder against her. All she could do was infuriatingly smile back, as if this were some kind of game.

It's no game. The boy wants the girl. He's too afraid, scared that he will be thrown off Serenity. The dreams won't stop, the feelin's won't change…why ain't she afraid of him like most others? Why doesn't she go away, leave him alone? He doesn't want her to, that's why. He wants to do all kinds of naughty things with her; lick her, suck her dry…delve within her depths, hear her scream and cry. He wants to fight. He wants to love her. Poor boy, he is so conflicted.

"Gorrammit!" he snarled. "Stop this now, 'fore I hurt ya! An' don' reckon I won't!"

His intimidation did little to stop her. She couldn't even help herself; River mewed with want and relished the burning feel of his sweating body beneath her fingers. She traced light tipped caresses up from his hips and across his flat toned abs, which caused him to buck in reaction to the tickling sensation. His groin thrusted upwards and it only made things worse when his hardened John Thomas jabbed into her side.

River could have spent herself right there. The long thickness of him twitched when she trailed her fingers over it through his boxers, its rigid attention only made River's want become more desperate. River took her hands away from his aching muscle and pressed her hands against his heart. Its beat was just as erratic as hers, thumping so hard and fast that River could have lost herself in its violent rhythm.

Her teeth bit down hard onto her bottom lip, feeling as if his heart was beating like a war drum, booming before a great battle. The tip of her pink tongue poked from her mouth, ran over small specks of blood and smeared her lips with red. Jayne was watching her so intently, with his mouth hanging open; he didn't even notice that she had stopped touching him.

Her hands threaded through her hair, pulling the long waves out of her face and they clasped behind, on the back of her head; her body arched into his groin, goading him, prompting him to touch her in return with blatant nudges. Jayne's hand instinctively reached out for her, but it stopped just short of making contact. It curled into a fist.

"I will hurt ya if you don't stop." he rumbled.

River snarled, fed up and frustrated with his hesitancy.

The crack to Jayne's jaw flattened him completely against the dining room table and his own split lip began to bleed, dripping down his bearded chin. He was more than dazed and during that time, there was confusion and the ever curious question "Why in the ruttin 'verse did she hit me?" repeated over and over in his befuddled mind.

River took his swaying confusion as an opportunity to make her next move. She leapt up onto the table and straddled the incapacitated merc, squeezing her knees and legs with crushing force against his hips. She wrenched the candle stick from his fist and flung it to the ground, bending over to him. Her eyes screamed that she wanted him and she was going to show that her body did too.

She grabbed hold of the neckline of her night gown and Jayne could only watch, stunned beyond any capacity stop to her, when she pulled and ripped the material clean in half and off her body. The tattered remains of which were cast carelessly to the floor.

"Ta ma de!" Jayne was beyond shocked now, he was absolutely dumbstruck. "Yer…yer nekkid!"

River rolled her eyes at his statement of the obvious.

Her body is not anything to look at. She knows this, but the boy…the man with a girls name…he thinks it's slender and perfect. He calls her pretty in his head…beautiful and so gorram hot. He is attracted.

River didn't purposely intrude on his privacy, for his thoughts were now focused solely on her, she couldn't block them out. So as River still sat atop him, she closed her eyes and threaded her hands through her hair, letting the waves of his thoughts crash over her, again and again in drowning turbulence.

She has breasts, on the small side but they have filled out considerably since she first found Serenity. Jayne certainly thinks so. He is in awe at how round and pert they are. It is curious; he has already named them "His lil' beauties." He wants to devour them; they beckon him to touch now that he's seen them.

His thoughts of her were downing her. They weren't of hatred, they weren't even of fear, the doubt was non-existent as his eyes gawped and stared bedazzled at her nakedness. She heard him think of her skin, how pale and unblemished it was, how silky it felt against him:

"She's flawless…there's strength in those arms…aw hells and them legs…her legs…why ain't he ever noticed them before? God she could kill with them…di yu!"

Whilst Jayne was trying to absorb every thing about her, his hands began to follow the path his eyes had traced, from her flushed face, down along her neck and over her breasts. His hands paused a while in its feeling, to tease and pinch at her hardening nipples; he rolled them between his fingers, squeezing and pulling them harder, noting the devilish smile upon River's face and hearing her pleasured puffs of breath and her moans. Jayne kept on pulling, noting the redness, smiling at the winces of pain on River's face, before he slipped his hands away and smoothed his palms over the flatness of her stomach. Whilst he massaged and stroked, Jayne brought his face closer to her chest. He looked longingly at those plumped and aroused breasts, licking his lips and then he gently pressed between them; trailing his tongue over the small curves before taking one whole within his mouth.

River's head fell back, she almost fell off him and the table but a strong hand held her on the small of her back, keeping her chest firmly against him. The warmth of his mouth, the wetness of his tongue rolling over her breasts sent shuddering ripples through her body; her muscles spasmed with ecstasy, her entirety convulsed harder against him as she tore viciously at his hair.

Was it River who growled, or him? Whoever it was, it resulted in a sharp blissful pain when his teeth gouged down hard onto her skin. It was that bite, the sharp pinch of his incisors that turned, quite literally, everything around.

This was the wake up call.

Although it wasn't Maidenhead, a similar sensation overcame River Tam. Everything else ceased to be of any importance, there was only the directive and that was Jayne. The instincts took over but this time she was not looking to kill, there were no Reavers, but a fight was necessary and wanted.

River gasped, her knees smacked against the table, splintering the crack even more as she pulled at Jayne's hair to flatten him on his back. She crashed down upon him and buried her face in his neck. She felt the thrum of his pulse against her mouth and latched on with her teeth, biting so hard that Jayne recoiled and clamped his hands onto her thighs, before suddenly flipping her round and beneath him.

Crack. The dining room table didn't exactly like the strain.

"You crazy woman…" Jayne snarled. "We're gonna git caught…"

She didn't care. Detaching her mouth from his neck, River dragged the edges of her teeth over his collarbone, biting as she rose up her legs. Jayne gladly aided her by hooking his arms under her knees so he could fit his body against hers. His heavy weight on top was restraining and constricting, but it only fuelled River on, urging her to keep up the struggle and fight. River placed her feet flat on his back and edged them down so her toes could hook beneath the elastic of his boxer shorts. Once they had a firm grip, she began to tug downwards with her feet.

He didn't even know that he was bare as she was, his nudity failed to register whilst he cradled her head beneath his arms and their fierce eyes locked once more, challenging. He felt a warm wetness trail on his leg and gazing down; he saw the shocking sight of the both of them intertwined and naked on a barely standing table. River saw the realization in his astonished expression, their current state of undress and being entangled was all too clear to him. But he wasn't trying to get away from her now; there was no fear; only the smirking grin of arousal. With heaving movements Jayne manoeuvred on top of her, pinning and grinding hard into her small body whilst he squeezed a free hand down between them. River smiled back up at Jayne with a devilish grin, relishing his delving fingers as they brushed through her dark wet curls and gushing lips; she bucked up into his hand, moaning ferociously with eager pants for him to delve inside. His breaths were already deep and mixed with dogged growls, his eyes glistened, giving River only a glimpse of the restraint he was keeping, of the animal viciousness pent up inside and waiting to be unleashed.

Do it…do it…

His finger slipped between her lips and touched lightly upon her swollen clit. At the slight tingle, River leaned her head back on the table and clamped her nails into Jayne's ass, anticipating more. His grunt at the searing pain in his cheeks was only brief, yet it fuelled him on. He dropped his head once more between her breasts and began to feel his fingers slowly at her hardened nub and through her juicy red petal like folds.

Yet, his ministrations were too slow, it wasn't hard enough and neither his fingers nor his hands were what she wanted, even if he was just testing her. The scratching of his goatee, the puffs of his heated grunts against her breasts were more exciting, but it wasn't producing the results that she craved. That angered her a little.

The objective cannot be achieved in this manner! This is not for Her benefit; this is for the good of the Sun. This is for the future, not the here and now! The pleasure of Her and the Ape Man is irrelevant! Non-productive!

River dragged her nails from his ass all up over his back, tearing at his skin before curling her fingers into his hair; her disapproving keens mewed for a change, even when Jayne's soft gentle rubs quickened and pinched harder, she was not satisfied.

He loved it; his moaning stream of words muffled on her skin as he penetrated her entrance, his finger pushing harder as her muscles tensed around it. He moved his finger in and out, slowly as if still testing her, but River's shaking, thrusting body was ready enough.

Jayne nuzzled up over her breast to the base of her neck, only to be pushed away before he could suck hungrily at her skin. Again River's hold in his hair ripped at the dark strands as he rose up off her and onto his knees. Jayne didn't want to let go of her, so he scooped his arm under her knee and dragged her up into a sitting position, hooking her leg around his waist, whilst still motioning deep inside her.

River allowed him to continue with his thrusts, his rhythmic milking shuddering her closer to her peak, until she wrenched herself away. Jayne looked confused for a moment; River felt his worry and anxiousness, so she placed a hand on his sweating face and stroked it before grabbing hold of his cock and pressing eagerly it against her core.

"Now!" she hissed biting angrily at his ear.

Her nails burrowed into his face, gripping hold of his chin so Jayne could see she cared not for more foreplay. He nodded in understanding. As they went to move, the table gave another creak and it was enough for Jayne to scoop her up completely and slip off the table. As he carried her in a staggering almost drunken sway over to the kitchen counter, River was shaking. She hadn't realised until he stopped just how desperate for this she was. She clung to him as if Jayne was the most precious thing in the world and right now, he was.

She had to smile when the contents of the counter were swept off with one of his large arms. River looked towards the door and wondered if the clanging pots and cutlery would wake the rest of the crew. If it did, it wasn't going to stop her.

She lay down upon her back and held up her legs, spreading them widely for Jayne to get between them. He didn't look even the slightest bit concerned about the noise he had just made, instead his lust filled eyes gazed over her body, thinking only on what he was going to do to her.

Taking himself in his hand, River watched as he gave John Thomas a couple of eager strokes before leaning over her and running his free groping hand up and across the smooth skin of her stomach. He smirked at her with animal lust so clear in his eyes that when he tenderly stroked a strand of hair away from her face, River felt a different and sudden stirring within her.

She closed her eyes for the briefest of seconds.

He was big. River felt no real pain as he pushed within, but swallowing his entire length so deeply caused her to clench tightly around him. Jayne's huge weight collapsed suddenly on top of her, his face contorted and furrowed at such constriction; he moaned, heaved a rumbling growl into her tangled waves of hair. She thought she heard him say something amongst his mumbling begs to god, but her quivering tightness produced a curious fusion of pleasure and pain, so her legs locked with a vice like grip around him, pushing with every ounce of strength she had to keep him inside.

Even with his giant of a body encompassing her and the feel of his hands tangled in her hair she hoped he would quicken his pace. She lashed at his chest with her hands, grating and scouring with visceral ferociousness, forcing him to grind his hips harder. Jayne complied most eagerly, building up from slow gentle slides to hard thrusts with a strength that strained not only the surface of the counter, but to River as well. An elated gasp whined from her lips as a blissful heated flush coursed over her skin at such ferocious buffeting.

She's so tiny, so gorram small and tight…she'll be the death of him…he knows it. His death is imminent.

River could feel everything. The whole of the black, the infinity of it, the darkness and pain, light and ecstasy, it all exploded and the entire universe seemed to open up before her. He revealed more than she had known with every…pounding…driving…grind he bore to her. She tore at him, clasping as much as she could, feeling his rage, his passion and (oh gods yes) all of him. All of Jayne Cobb…inside her, within her…..against her. She felt what they did not want her to.

The hard surface against her back was nothing to the running sweat that poured over and in them both. She wanted to howl, scream until her voice was hoarse; yet all that escaped were the laboured ecstatic breaths as she continued to flutter her muscle walls against his cock.

"No…girl….River…" Jayne cupped her wet face in his hands and although he tried to look at her, all he could do was close his eyes in an attempt to regain some restraint. "Don't…don't do that…I ain't gonna last much longer….."

She couldn't help it for his pleas and his shaking form made her do it more, squeezing at him until all movement from Jayne stopped. His whole body became rigid, his buttocks clenched tightly and he bellowed into the tangles of her drenched hair. River wasn't sure what was going on until a burst of warmth shot inside and Jayne slumped weakly upon her, out of breath. River relaxed and lay utterly spent with a wonderful throbbing all over her body.

She was disappointed it was over too soon and wished it could have gone on for longer, but the deed was done.

She has completed her task and there isn't any more need to do continue.

The man has fulfilled his role and he has done it well, the girl is pleasured and she purrs contently with the warmth she has tingling inside her. Yet why does she still want more? Is there a safe word to stop her from feeling like this? Has the Jayne-bear been so good, she herself wants more?

"Why did you do that?" Jayne growled breathlessly in her ear, "No woman has ever done that t'me before!"

River couldn't find her voice.

What could she even tell him? It had been her first time and so she was unsure of how or what she did wrong. She opened her mouth to speak, but instead of words, she could only take a sharp inhale of breath as Jayne lifted up off and out of her.

There was a large thud as he slipped and fell off the counter, landing on the floor.

"Shit! Moonbrain…what the hell did we jus' do?"

River went to answer but when she lifted her head, she saw Jayne trying to clamber back up to his feet. He looked different, magnificent certainly with the sweat drenching and glistening his skin, though the frown on his brow gave her cause for concern.

"You are not aware?" she asked, her voice tentative and whispering. River tried to sit up, only to have her bottom slip on the sweat covered counter making her fall off the other side. She uttered a single cursing word at her lack of grace and finally poked her head up over the top cautiously. "We had sexual intercourse…didn't we?"

"Well…yeah…sure." he replied, scratching the back of his head and gazing down at his spent cock. River followed his gaze.

"You reached your orgasmic peak and ejaculated as is the norm in intercourse and judging by the floppiness…"

"It ain't ruttin' floppy!" Jayne growled back at her, though there was the slight whine of hurt in his voice. "Girl, don't ever say that 'bout a man's meat! It's gorram restin'! Dong ma?"

"The sex was exceedingly enjoyable."

Jayne grumbled something under his breath and turned away to retrieve his boxer shorts, wherever they were. River was confounded by his lack of response and so she got to her feet, steadying her self until she felt confident to walk on her wobbly legs, and scurried over to the merc.

"I cannot fault what happened." she said. "I was pleasured…a good feeling."

"Well, I dint like it!" Jayne snorted back as he became frustrated when he couldn't find his boxers. Where had the moon brain put them?

"You lie."

"No I ain't lyin'! You…..I….I finished quicker than what I ever used to! Sexin' should take longer! I tol' ya not to do the quiverin' thing but you went ahead an' did it anyways! Crazy…it just don't pay to get a man so excited he explodes fore he gets to make all his moves!"

"Oh. I comprehend. My apologies."

"Yeah….well…." Jayne loosened the tension in his body and nodded in slight appreciation. He crossed his arms across his chest and a small satisfied smile curled at his lips. "I suppose yer right. What we did…it was….fun…but next time learn t'relax and lemme do it….proper like. It will be better."

Next time? He is asking for a next time? The girl is not abhorrent to engaging in the sexual relations with Jayne again, especially if he claims it will be better. It may well be worth a try…

"Now?" she asked hopefully.

"Huh? Wha-?"

River touched at his back, running a finger along side a trickling drop of sweat rolling down his spine. Jayne turned round and in his eyes there was a glazed look as he stared all over at River's tiny yet oh so delicious body.

"You said it will be better…we can try again now. If you wish."

"Try? Girl…I can't do anything now! The fella ain't woken up and…."

River grinned, though it was not her bubbly-ray-of-sunshine-has-been-hanging-round-with Kaylee-for-too-long kind of smile. It was the same feral, predatory grin that she had adopted when all this began and she wasn't playing games.

"Ahhh…the bear-man needs stimulation!"

"Well…that goes with out sayin….."

"I shall assist." River licked her lips and stepped against Jayne, pushing him down into a chair. She pried his legs apart and knelt down between them, running her hands up over his legs. "It is said oral sex to a man will arouse him and ready him….."

"Here?" Jayne tried to leap up from the chair, but he sank back down immediately as once again the little woman scoured her nails into the flesh of his leg. "Ma de! Will ya quit that?"

"You don't like it?"

"I don't like it here!" Jayne gripped at her shoulders and tried to compose his calm. He breathed several deep breaths before looking back in those chocolate coloured eyes of hers. "The last thing I want is fer the rest of the crew walkin' in on you givin' me a good spit n'polish. I will be meetin' my end in the black, all cut up inta bits, if they do."

"I understand."

River certainly did, but she didn't take heed. Jayne heard the crafty evil giggle she did, just moments before her hand cupped his "resting" member and began to stroke it with her fingers. She expected him to start yelling again, to fight and push her away, but she felt the ripples on his skin and heard his purring murmur of pleasure. She tightened her grip and held Jayne's meat up to her face, staring and gazing at it with fascination and hunger before pressing her lips against its head.

"Ruttin' hells! Moonbrain….River….please let's not…"

Jayne forwent all protests and attempts to talk River out of giving him the special treatment when she winked at him before slowly enveloping him with her mouth.

Jayne closed his eyes and moaned.

"Yeh su…wo cao!"

You have no idea.

Zoë was woken suddenly by a distant sound of clattering. She sat bolt up right in bed and peered to the hatch above her ladder. She knew instantly where it had come from, the mess hall; and when it occurred again, the first mate knew that someone was upending the entire kitchen.

The rustling in the bed next to her made Zoë look down and she smiled warmly at seeing her son now sound asleep. She knew he had gotten up to take a look at the Christmas presents and that he had been sent back after having been caught, so he wasn't the cause of the disturbance.

Zoë slipped quietly out of the bed and walked to the side where she kept her gun locked away. Retrieving it, she checked it was loaded and climbed the ladder to the flight deck.

Here, the noises from the mess hall were more evident, even with the door closed, but having a quick look at the bunk opposite hers; Zoë had a hunch on who was making this disturbance.

Satisfied that it wasn't an intruder and that Jayne was on another one of his late hour snack raids, she was went to turn back to her own bunk, stopping when she saw the door to the Captain's room open. She approached as Mal's head poked up from the hole.

"What's….Zoë….what's goin' on? We bein' attacked?"

Mal looked tired and much worn; his hair was ruffled and his eyes were barely keeping open. He was also swaying on his ladder, obviously having difficulty in keeping a firm hold.

"I'm thinking not sir." said Zoë.

"Thinkin' ain't knowin'. I'm gonna…." Mal attempted to pull himself up but he was struggling to do so. Zoë shook her head and bent down to rest a hand on his bare shoulder.

"Stay there, Sir….I'll go an' look."

"I'll watch your back." Mal brought out his gun and pointed it towards the mess hall door with a shaking hold. Zoë nodded, knowing that even when tired, Mal was more than capable of firing off accurate shots. She carefully held her own in a readied position and walked to the door.

The mess hall door was not normally closed, but Jayne had been known to shut them both if he wanted to "raid" the supplies. Zoë knew what to expect when she looked through the small tiny window, however what she actually saw made her gun falter in her fingers and a gasp of "oh my!" came from her lips.

"What?" Mal called out when Zoë spun round and flattened her back against the metal. He had known this woman for many years and there wasn't a lot that shocked Zoë like this; it was very rare she became embarrassed or showed such blushing, but Mal knew it could mean only one thing.

"Go se. He's nekkid again…isn't he?"

Zoë covered her eyes with her hand and tried to get the image of what she had just seen out of her mind. She was blushing still, her face singed with heat but she felt laughter building up in her chest and throat.

"You…you could say that, Sir." she sniggered, leaning forward and resting her hands on her knees. "It's…."

"He's breaking the "Don't wonder round the boat nekkid" rule, isn't he? Gorrammit, Zoë! Get him outta there!"

Zoë clicked shut the door lock, walked back to where Mal was using all his strength to climb out onto the deck and crouched down in front of him, blocking his way.

"Sir, I'm thinkin', rather I'm knowin' it would be best to leave him be. You might end up shootin' him, Sir and you don't want to do that right now…..Sir."

"Zoë…you be callin' me Sir rather a lot…it puts me mightily on edge."

"Really, Sir?"

"Yes! Ya are! Zoë…what is that hundun doin' in there? In the place where we cook and where we eats? An' why in all the stinkin' 'Verse can I not shoot him?"


"Quit it, Zoë! I know I'm the gorram Captain…what is that hairy sweaty…."

"Captain….ya tired, I can see that and that makes ya do things ya'd problie regret later. I say leave him be, but no one goes in there until he….makes it all better. Clean."

Mal let out the largest yawn Zoë had ever seen and he almost fell off the ladder if she hadn't of grasped once again at his shoulder. It was then clear to Mal that his first mate was probably right and he should trust her judgement as he had done so throughout all of their friendship. He peered down into his bunk and knew that Inara would soon wake up if he wasn't there. Dealing with a naked Inara was much more fun to him than dealing with a naked Jayne.

"Okay…but you keep that little man of yours outta there, too! Whatever Jayne does in there, he'll clean up and sterilize everythin' he touches that ain't with his hands!"

"Yes, Sir. Don't worry. I'll see to it."

"Good. I'm goin' back into my bed now."

"Sleep well, Sir."

Mal nodded and instead of slowly descending the ladder, his hands came away from the rungs and he fell to the floor with a loud thud, just as another rather unsettling crash came from the mess hall. Zoë couldn't believe this was happening on Christmas Eve, but she checked on Mal by peering down at him. Inara was already there, checking him over and she looked just as fatigued as he.

"He's not hurt." said the companion, yawning. "I'll leave him there, I can't lift him when he's like this and he does needs the rest. Is everything all right, Zoë? I heard an awful commotion."

"It's fine." The first mate replied. "Nothin' to worry about."

"Jayne on another night raid on the kitchen?"

"Of course."

"He's not naked is he?"

Zoë didn't want to tell her what he was really doing, but the expression on her face was enough to make Inara recoil and frown in disgust.

"On that rather disturbing mental image…goodnight, Zoë."

"Night, 'Nara."

Zoë closed the Captain's hatch and proceeded to go back to her own. She was only stopped in her tracks when she heard a long successive series of bangs before everything went silent. Whatever possessed Jayne, or indeed River, to engage in their "extra-curricular" activities, there was one thing she was absolutely certain about. It was consenting.

A sad stir of envy panged at her heart.

Kaylee sneaked out of Simon's room, thirsty for a glass of water. She picked up one of his shirts, breathed in his scent and slipped it on over her before happily strolling towards the mess hall with her arms swinging.

Upon reaching the entrance, Kaylee paused at seeing the door shut. Smiling and blushing a little, she clasped her hand over her mouth as she realised what was happening. Jayne was on another snack raid.

But she was thirsty and the only decent drinking water was from the sink in the kitchen, so she would just have to risk going in. She then took her hand from her mouth and placed it on her eyes before knocking on the door.

"Jayne….I'm just getting a glass of water….I ain't lookin' if you ain't wearin' nothin'….and…"

The sound that affronted her ears caused the mechanic to peek through her fingers and she let out a startled squeak when she saw a very naked Jayne sitting in a chair and River kneeling between his legs. Kaylee squeaked again, this time it never stopped as she turned round and ran, flustered with a mix of shock and joy at what she had witnessed.

Neither of the indulging couple stopped, or even appeared to have noticed the intrusion from Kaylee, so the mechanic turned, shutting the door and locking it before scampering back to Simon's dorm, squee-ing with excitement. It was about time those two got together, though it wasn't quite how she expected.

Christmas was going to be extremely interesting…and so too would the days, weeks and months that followed.