A/N: Wow, never really expected this to be so popular! lol Thanx for the feedback, my reader peops. Not sure how good it is that I'm getting so good at writing River's crazy voice! lol Nevermind, here's Part 2...

Disclaimer: (which applies to Part 1 as well, but I forgot to put it on - oops!) Firefly and all recognisable characters belong to Joss Whedon and other important persons that aren't me.

Part 2 of 2

Jayne stood in the safety of the airlock, his spacesuit on and ready to go. This plan weren't his nor Mal's handy-work neither, which meant it might actually go off without a hitch maybe. 'Course, the little witch that come up with such an idea was s'posed to be some kinda genius, that made Jayne feel a little better about takin' orders from her. Not that he was gonna come off as no pansy ass when he told the rest o' the crew what they done. Sure as the worlds turned, Mal was gonna be mad as hell, trapped in his bunk while all the action was goin' down, but little woman insisted; Mal, Wash, and Zoe gotta be kept outta this whole thing, since they wasn't needed right now. No use riskin' folks that you didn't need to, Jayne figured.

"You're not right, Early. You're not righteous" River's voice sounded loud and clear then through all the comms as she taunted their intruder, "Got issues" she told the guy, as Jayne listened careful for his signal.

He knew the words to wait for, ones that meant he had to move. Sure, the others weren't gonna much like what they was about to hear, but it was all gonna work out.

"It's okay, Early. I'm going with you" said the little voice of the girl up there on the bounty hunters ship, "Don't belong. Dangerous, like you. Can't be controlled. Can't be trusted" she went on and even Jayne felt a stab of guilt at the sound of such words.

This little tiny voice, little tiny woman that was barely that, all innocence and such right now, made it almost unbearable to recall what he done on Ariel, what he said even today about pitchin' her off this boat. She had more'n an oddness to her, that even Mal would admit, but she was part of this crew, willin' to risk herself for them. Seemed to Jayne they oughta do the same for her.

"I'll be your bounty, Jubel Early. And then I'll just fade away"

That was his cue, and Jayne was ready for it. He ran a final check over his suit and line, before letting himself out through the hatch onto the top of the ship to wait.

Out in the vacuum of space, he could hear nothing of anything, just had to watch and wait for Early to appear. He didn't know that River's plan got skewed by her brother tryin' to play hero, hadn't an idea the boy got himself shot in the leg right beneath him in the halls of Serenity.

Jayne had no knowledge of anything but his own breathin' and the hatch a couple of feet from where he stood. He waited, and waited, and then a voice came loud and clear as the sight of the bounty hunter's helmeted head, as Early climbed on up and out of Serenity.

"You made the right move, darlin'" he told River, cold as ice in his tone, "Best for you to go with old Early"

"You think so? You ri shao gou shi bing" said Jayne angrily, as man faced monster with a snarl, "Some of us feel different 'bout that" he added, not givin' the asshole time to react before putting his palms again Early's chest and pushing him hard as he could into the black.

Jayne watched without a care as the so-called man who would invade his home and attack his family floated away like so much space trash. He weren't no perfect man his ownself, and Jayne knew it too, but he couldn't ever be so cold-blooded as that. Comin' after a young woman who already went through too much, more than any man, woman, or child should have to live through. He'd shoot a man if'n he had to, protect himself, his crew, and all. Kidnapping was a whole other deal, and not one Jayne much liked, 'specially when the person gettin' kidnapped didn't deserve it none.

All thoughts left the merc's mind then as he looked up and saw River on her way back down to Serenity. She floated like some kind o' little angel, makin' him all the more glad he did what he did tonight. Sure, there was times it'd be a sight easier livin' in the 'verse without damn fugees onboard, but seemed to him maybe it was worth it, keeping everyone together.

Jayne reached out on automatic to steady her as she landed right in front of him. The strangest smile sat on her face that he couldn't quite figure. Maybe relief this was over, maybe pleased with herself for her plan comin' good, maybe somethin' else that Jayne wouldn't do no good wonderin' on too long.

"Y'know, you ain't exactly right in the head, girly" he told her, though he didn't mean it with no malice or nothin' like he had so many times before.

"Popular theory" she smiled, apparently not phased by those words as her eyes moved from Jayne's face to the black beyond - she felt so free here.

"Put yourself together a decent plan though" he told her, almost proud he'd been in on it maybe, but he didn't exactly tell her that.

Didn't mean she didn't know it, of course, and the thought oughta have occurred to him. Girl read minds, 's how she knew what she was doin' with Early, most like.

"Couldn't have done it without you" River said proudly, the words coming out right the first time - whether it was the thrill of being out here in the black or being held steady still by Jayne's strong grip, she couldn't be certain, "Grappling hook, anchor, helped her return home" she told him, and Jayne weren't sure how to take it.

All he'd done, good and bad, seemed to be gone from her mind. She didn't care none what came before, just grateful he was here right now, helpin' save her from what come for her. Weren't much used to thanks and praise, made Jayne feel more'n a bit unsettled.

"Come on, let's get in there" he said, turning towards the hatch, his hand still gripping onto her arm, "let the Captain and Zoe free afore they start beatin' their ways out"

"Must help Simon too" she said as she moved past him to be first inside, "Almost ruined their plans" she sighed, "He takes so much looking after"


It was quiet aboard the Firefly class ship, Serenity, and that was no bad thing as far as the crew was concerned. There had been one hell of a ruckus all but a few hours before, as the Captain, his second, and the Pilot had been freed from their bunks, wondering what the gorram hell had been happening here. Jayne and River still wore spacesuits as they delayed their explanation long enough to help a shot and wounded Simon to the infirmary, where Kaylee already waited with Book. Inara joined the crew within minutes and everyone was up in arms, wanting details of what had occurred, as well as trying to help those that'd been hurt in the trouble.

Through it all, River found a smile. Sure, her brother was injured and the Shepherd too. The other womenfolk had been scared, everyone could easy have been in danger, and yet she smiled. She was here, they were all still here, her crew, precious family surrounding her. They had come through and she was where she belonged; home.

The injured had been patched up, the scared were calm, the family united in the sun-like warmth and glow of knowing another enemy was foiled, another obstacle overcome.

The only person who wasn't quite smiling was Mal, and River knew why. He was still flying, he was happy, but her plan did not amuse Daddy even a little, not just the plan she and Jayne had worked tonight, but the one in her head for the future. He didn't know she hadn't drawn the pictures, they were printed long before they ever came to be. He wouldn't, couldn't comprehend, but he would come to understand one day, as they all would.

"Well, if it ain't my two big damn heroes" Mal said with a look that suggested he was messin' around, as he came to stand in the cargo bay 'tween where Jayne was spotting Book at lifting weights, and River was playing jacks with Kaylee, "Gotta tell ya, you did a brave thing, the pair of ya. Didn't much care for the part of the plan where I was locked in my bunk though"

"That was all her, Mal" Jayne said quickly, pointing River's way, chivalrous to the end of course!

"She apologises, Captain" the young woman said, all politeness as she got to her feet and curtseyed to him as if he were the king and she a humble servant, "He would understand that she wanted to protect, as he does, as all do for each other here"

"Well, guess I can't argue much with that, can I?" he smiled a rare smile just for her, "Go on now, get along and see your brother" he said, encouraging her off to the infirmary, with a ruffle of her hair as if she were his own child, "Seems he got one or two things he wants to talk on with you too"

River nodded her agreement, eyes lingering a little on Jayne before she skipped off to see Simon. Mal watched her go with a certain uncomfortableness stirring in him. His little Reader and his great oaf of a merc making friends had its upsides, he just worried some the downsides wouldn't so much balance the scales as tip 'em over altogether, and his ship along with. Still, weren't much time to dwell on it right now, he had his Captainy things to attend to.

Jayne was watching Mal watching River. Though honestly he oughta have been watching Book since the poor Shepherd was strugglin' like crazy with the bar full of weights above his head. Didn't take much effort for the merc to grab the bar and replace it when he did spot the problem, but he wasn't up for his turn right now.

"I gotta..." he muttered his lack of explanation afore headin' off towards the infirmary after River.

Weren't like he was followin' her around cos he liked her or nothin', not in any way he shouldn't anyhow. Fact of it was, he needed to know what she was gonna say to her brother. After all, she had been in his bunk, but only 'cause she put herself there. He could use avoidin' accusations o' any kind involvin' the clever little witch. Way she talked sometimes, didn't make no sense at all. Could be she muddled her words enough to the Doc, well, he might start changin' his mind about keeping Jayne safe on the med table.

"She is fine, Simon" she was sayin' when he reached the stairs aside the infirmary, listenin' in on the Tams conversation, "He worries too much, he was the one injured"

"It's just a bullet wound" her brother assured her, "we've had plenty aboard this ship. I'm much more concerned about you, mei mei. What did you think you were doing?" he asked, completely at a loss apparently.

"Save self, save family, come home" she rattled off succinctly, "She had friend to help; Man Called Jayne. Trusted the untrustable, knew she could, always knew" she insisted, "before Ariel, and after, and always"

Simon frowned at her words. He couldn't make out why his little sister would ever put much faith in Jayne Cobb after what he had done to them, almost selling them out on Ariel, and practically demanding the two of them be thrown off Serenity as soon as possible when he knew just exactly what River was capable of. Of course, if he had meant what he said, he would not have done what he did, another example perhaps of Jayne being all mouth and no action in that way.

Movement caught Simon's eye then, beyond the window, and Jayne knew he couldn't run now he had been seen. With a sigh he tramped down the steps and came to hover in the doorway to the infirmary.

"Hero of Canton becomes Hero of Serenity" River beamed, and though neither man was so sure they liked what she was sayin' or really believed it, her smilin' was gorram infectious.

"Thank you, Jayne" said Simon, feeling strange just having to use those words together, "For helping my sister when I couldn't"

"Weren't nothin'" the merc shrugged his broad shouldders, "You did your part anyhow, hole in ya proves that" he said with a vague gesture to Simon's bandaged leg.

River looked between the two of them, her right hand already holding Simon's left the other reaching for Jayne though he looked unimpressed. Were it not for the pleading look in her big innocent eyes, he'd a cursed a whole lot and walked away, but he didn't have it in him, 'specially not after what the little woman had been through tonight.

"I actually thought you hated us" said Simon, not really meaning to say such a thing to Jayne but the words were out now and couldn't be taken back.

He blamed the drugs for making such a thought come spilling out of his mouth unchecked, though it didn't seem to make much difference to Jayne.

"Part of my crew now" he shrugged one more time, "Anyhow, scum like that Early don't deserve to live. Weren't havin' him take no girl off this boat back to some gorram Alliance hell place"

"He cares" said River in her own special translation of what Jayne was trying to tell Simon, "but don't worry, guh guh" she told her brother, dropping the hands of both men in her life and practically dancing to the door, stopping there a moment to look back and add one last thing, "we have not even grappled yet" she said, with such a look in Jayne's direction as to leave both himself and Simon shocked to the core.

River cared not for either reaction as she moved away. The bear and the brother would understand eventually, it would just take a lot of time that she would rather not have wasted. She sighed as she pirouetted up the steps and back to the cargo bay.

Boys were such boobs sometimes.

The End