A/N: I am such a nuisance to myself, every time I realise I'm writing too much fic I get a new idea and feel the need to write that too! This was going to be a one-shot but it got away from me and is now a two-parter... Anybody like it?

Early: She sleep with anybody?
Simon: River?
Early: Yeah, she grapple with any of the crew? Might be in their quarters?
Simon: No!
Early: Maybe she does and you don't know about it...

Part 1 of 2

River wasn't afraid, perhaps she ought to have been given the situation, but she wasn't, not even a little bit. She had felt the coming of him, knew tonight was the night when everything changed. Not a word was spoken about it, but she knew. Didn't even tell Simon, no need, no point. He would not have believed, sees the picture but is blinded by the colours, the forms of shape are alien to him, do not fit into Doctor's order.

Concentrating on the task at hand for now, pushing aside what was and what may yet be, River's bare feet made not a sound as she crept along. A few more feet and she reached the hatch, pre-loosened screws came free with little effort. They didn't know she could make plans, didn't know her brain worked well enough. Ought to have banked on the math she did so well, but nobody knew this was coming, so why would they think it?

Slim, slight form had such advantages. Down the duct with barely a sound, nothing that couldn't be drowned out by the spinning sound of the good girl's engine. Serenity hid her well, but could not hide forever, not like this.

The grate waiting the other end was harder but not impossible, made barely a clatter as it landed on the ground, but enough to cause the bear to wake. His growling didn't scare her. Despite appearances, and even past performance, she knew he was closer to teddy bear than grizzly.

"Ssh" she told him, a finger at her lips signalling for him to hush as she sat crouched by the grate in the wall, almost-silent and eerily still.

"What the hell you playin' at, crazy woman?" said Jayne, clearly not understanding the concept of being quiet when asked.

River rolled her eyes as she crept over to where he was now sat on the edge of his bed. She stopped in front of him, eyes focused on the ceiling as she listened intently. The lion was moving, taking a lamb for the slaughter. Poor Simon, he thought maybe he stood a chance, but dear brother had always been a boob, River knew.

"Danger lurks" she said then, so soft Jayne almost didn't hear.

He moved to stand, only to sit back down all the faster when the girl turned too fast, her hair almost catching him across face as she stared at him.

Didn't look like much, she knew. Crew saw filthy, inside and out, but not her. Gold heart, just needed to be polished up, good as new. Tonight she got her chance at starting the job, and he would prove the worth of both of them. Girl's name but man's body, strong and able. Equally as much an ironic twist as she was, the ballet dancer with force of iron inside. They didn't know, even she didn't know, not clearly, all that she was capable of.

"You're the lurking danger, ya freaky lil witch!" said Jayne under his breath.

He meant for her to hear but he also meant to be quiet, for two reasons, truth be known. First off, while this could be one of her crazy games there was a chance real danger really was around, since she certainly seemed to have an eye and ear for it. Second, if'n she was the danger, and after the crew meetin' earlier she damn well seemed to be, Jayne didn't fancy pissin' her off anymore than he had to.

"Big bad wolf" she whispered, glancing up and then down at Jayne again, "Interloper, doesn't belong. Crawled inside like a spider" she said, fingers creeping into her hair, pressing into her own scalp as her eyes grew wide and fearful.

"We got company?" Jayne eventually managed to translate, though it had taken his slowish mind a minute to get there, "Somebody on this boat shouldn't be?"

River nodded slowly, until Jayne reached for a gun. Her hand landed swiftly on his arm but was quickly knocked away, not that she went for the weapon anyhow he just couldn't have her touching him.

"Strange feeling" she smiled just slightly as he peered up at her, "Scared, like a little girl, but neither earned their stripes, no ribbons in their hair" she backed up across the room til she felt the cold steel of the opposite wall pressed against her body - it comforted.

"I ain't scared o' nothin'" argued Jayne, though it was botherin' him some that she looked so worried.

Sure as the worlds turned, he knew that was a lie he told himself as well as other folk, but now weren't the time for admitting. Unfortunate truth was this - if the girl read minds like everyone was sayin', could be she knew every secret he had anyhow. That didn't thrill Jayne none, to say the least.

"She has a key to his box" she said, cryptically as she ever said anything, but given what he'd been thinkin' on the second afore she said it, Jayne caught on to what she meant, "She won't be his Pandora" she promised, a smile curving her lips now that almost unnerved him more than when she was fixin' to pitch a fit.

Movement above them caught Jayne's attention then, his eyes looking to the ceiling a minute, then landed back on the girl currently sharin' his room. She was shockingly still and quiet for one he'd seen to often havin' some kinda riotous fit, screamin' like she wanted to make every ear in the 'verse bleed.

"You know who this hwun dahn is?" he asked, standing up slow and considering how close he dared get to the crazy little woman who had once sliced him up.

"Early" she said in a whisper, a shudder of dread making her body tremble, "Will do worse than us, has done so much worse than him or her ever could" she said, slender fingers reaching out, brushing over Jayne's chest right where the scar she'd made resided beneath his T-shirt, "Twisted, like coiled springs of wire, in his heart that beats no rhythm" she said with a frown, "Help me" she said so suddenly that she almost made Jayne jump out of his skin.

"I'll do whatever to get some gorram asshole of this boat" he agreed with a nod, immediately reaching for Vera, but River was certain on what she'd said about that.

"No touching guns" she said sharply, "Won't help" she assured the merc, and though he'd love to argue with her he couldn't see the point.

Wasn't like Jayne couldn't beat the bastard down without bullets. Seems the little witch had a plan anyhow and she was s'posed to be the genius here. Maybe he'd just let her have her turn at playin' leader. After all, she decided to go all bughouse on him again, there was weapons aplenty in his bunk she could turn on him with.

"Hey, you gotta be talkin' like a sane person you want any help outta me" he told her sharply, though River barely listened.

She was focused on words spoken elsewhere, feelings and thoughts that were not her own.

"Grapple... Grappling hook" she muttered, "You must be, for her" she said louder then, looking to Jayne, "Strong, definite, tied to the ship. She is strong too but unstable, might float away" she told him, as she turned towards the hatch she'd come in by.

"You really are as crazy as you act, ain't ya?" said Jayne thoughtfully, at which he saw her smile the strangest smile.

"Sometimes" she admitted, "but she has a plan"

It had been as easy as she thought with help from the man called Jayne. He was the only one she trusted with her mission, only one to help the River flow without danger to others. No safety catch on this weapon, erratic and unstable as she had told him, but only in inexperienced hands. He knew guns, blades, all that caused harm, and so he would know her, given time and tide.

From her place perched high above Serenity, River listened in on the conversations being had there. A few calculations, certain buttons, specific movements. He would hear her now and yet not know her. Easy enough to spook them with a look, her voice and carefully planned words would not send the leech running, but would startle, unsettle. All she needed right now.

"You're wrong, Early" she said over the comm that sounded loud and clear throughout the Firefly below her.

"I'm not wrong, dumpling. I will shoot your brother dead if you don't..."

"Wrong about River" she interrupted the threatening bounty hunter that scared her not a bit in the moment, "River's not on the ship. They didn't want her here, but she couldn't make herself leave, so she melted" she explained, "Melted away"

Early listened and was appropriately freaked by what he was hearin'. Far as he knew what this girl was ramblin' on was a damn impossibility. He wasn't wrong o' course, and Jayne knew it even if no-one else understood.

The merc moved carefully and quietly back through the ship towards the engine room to help little Kaylee. Passing by the bunks, he was mindful not to make too much noise. Sure, t'weren't the end o' the world this asshole spotted him, wasn't like he couldn't take the guy out if'n he had to, but stickin' to the little genius' plan seemed better than not.

'Verse only knew how the girl had come up with such a plan, but it gorram impressed Jayne, even if'n he'd never tell her so. Back through the ducts she'd gone, up to where the bunks hatches were. She had just his unlocked in a second and was gone so fast that by the time he climbed the ladder she was nowhere he could see. He found her where she said she'd be, already in a spacesuit and waitin' to launch herself out into the black.

Jayne never took either of them there Tams for brave as such, but outta the two of 'em the girl had to be the tougher one. What she went though with the Alliance proved that, if nothin' else. Sure, she scared the crap outta him when she was bein' all off her axle, but when she was normal, or as close as she ever got, he could deal with havin' her around. Tonight she might prove she could be more'n a little useful in a crisis. That bein' true he might just vote to keep her on this boat a while longer, if'n anyone asked.

Moving careful and quiet to the engine room, Jayne weren't none surprised when Kaylee didn't react at all to him bein' there. She knew he was comin' for her, so the little woman had said, though the 'verse only knew how she was doin' all this and there weren't exactly time for askin' right now.

"You hurtin', little Kaylee?" he asked her, quiet like as he cut her free from her bonds, blood boiling inside at the realisation this yi dwei da buen chuo roh had mostly been targeting the womenfolk so far, and that just weren't right.

"Not so much" she admitted taking a shaky breath, "He just scared me some is all. Never did nothin' but tie me up" she shook her head, "What do we do now?"

"Must save another" said River's voice over the com, so suddenly they ought to have jumped out their skins, Kaylee and Jayne both, but they didn't somehow.

"Savin' who now? Your gorram brother?" asked the merc, a little put out at all this orderin' about she was doin', even if'n he was pretty sure listenin' to her was more like as to save 'em than get 'em killed.

"Kaylee, my friend" said River's soothing tones, apparently ignoring Jayne, "Gotta be brave" she told her, "Shepherd needs you, to hold his hand again, to make the world calm" she explained in a way only she could, and letting Kaylee know exactly where she was needed.

The little mechanic looked plenty shaken up still, but River's kind and encouraging words helped. Glancing at Jayne as she went to the door of the engine room, a nod of agreement from him was enough for her to believe all would be alright, in time. She went to the Shepherd as River had told her too, leavin' Jayne alone with the disembodied voice of the ship's supposed genius.

"Can I go shoot the bad guy now, you reckon?" he asked, though he had no gun on him right now, he had plans to get one and to splatter the walls with this Early's brains.

"No need for that" she assured him, "I know what he'll do, will leave soon" she promised, "So close to him, he doesn't even see"

Jayne couldn't help but smile at the trickery River was pullin' tonight. Woulda been almost proud of her if'n he had to right to be so. Still, didn't thrill him none to be sat on his hands while she worked her witchy magic on the ruttin' interloper.

"Not useless" she said as if she read his mind, well, maybe she had.

"Yeah, so you say" he groused, not at all happy still, "What I gotta do now but sit and wait for you to finish your eerie-ass act anyhow?" he asked her.

"Be my grappling hook" she reminded him, "Anchor point, like you promised"

Jayne rolled his eyes at that, still wonderin' how in the whole o' hell she made him promise her anythin'. The most creepyfyin' part was she musta seen him, or known him well enough to know how he'd react.

"Don't make faces" she told him sharply, at which Jayne looked heavenward and sighed.

"Gorram crazy woman gonna be the death o' me" he muttered as he stepped out of the engine room and moved away, still goin' along with her plan anyhow.

End of Part 1