Jayne woke slowly, trying to grasp at the tendrils of sleep as long as possible. His head ached, his legs were sore and he could barely breathe. As he blinked the grit out of his eyes, he heard Simon's voice.

"A good morning to you." He was god-awful cheery, grating right down to Jayne's nerves. Wasn't right, hearing that cheer first thing as a man woke up.

"What's good about it?" he managed to get out.

"My sister's alive and you got her out of that… that iplace./i"

Jayne looked down at his chest to find River's head resting just below his sternum, her feet tangling around his shins. "I-er-" he started, trying to remember how that'd come to pass. "She saved our a- butts back there. Done shot with them mathematics o' hers." Much as he liked to take praise, it was just a tad too strange, coming from the doc'.

"Aint'cha thinkin' she's a mite too close ta me?" Jayne asked, trying to scrub the sleep from his brain.

"She wouldn't be moved last night, don't you remember?" Simon looked at him oddly.

"No," Jayne responded, but blinked as he had a flash of being half asleep on this examining table and River climbing down from her spot and lying on top of him. He'd been dead set on sleeping in his bunk, but he'd had a 100 pound girl climb on top of him, not to be moved. He'd huffed and fallen asleep only moments later.

"Hm." Simon eyed him and Jayne glared back, not likin' being looked at. "Well, I'm just about done here." Simon headed for the door.

"Hold on-aint ya gonna do something about this great lump of weight on me? Man's got needs-" he broke off, coloring slightly and setting his jaw as he realized just how that sounded.

"We all know about your needs Jayne. You've shown remarkable…restraint, these last few weeks. As it is, I'd take it as a personal favor if you'd let River wake naturally. I'd be happy to bring you food, however."

"Alright alright," Jayne sighed. " Jest bring me a protein bar. One o' the fresher ones."

Simon left without another word and Jayne carefully placed a cautious hand around River's back. He loved the feel of her lithe frame beneath his calloused hand, wishing he had a right to sleep like this every night.

River shifted, turning her head to the opposite side and her hand crept up to rest on his upper arm, a feather touch so light it almost tickled.

He closed his eyes, recalling the events of the night before-as always, she outshone him. Which, in normal times, he'd be mad about. A'fore-well, all this, he'd have gotten himself in a snot over it.

But now? He tightened his grip 'round River's back and felt her lithe body meld into his a little more. Now, things were different. He were gonna tell her just how he felt. Weren't like him to be afraid a' something. Even if it were girly, tellin' a girl how he was sweet on her.

But she felt so gorram good, lying on his chest, her breasts and abdomen pressing down on him, her legs tangling around his. And-

He froze. There was a butterfly movement of her fingers. There it was again. Small, but it weren't the movement of a girl who was sleeping. Light circles seared into his flesh, burning to his core.

"Mmm," River mumbled into his chest. He lifted his hand that'd been clutching her back and patted her lightly.

"G'd morning," he ventured, looking down at her head.

She raised it sleepily, looking at him nearly through her lashes. And if she hadn'ta been through trauma recently, Jayne thought, that would be the most gorram seductive look he'd seen in a good long whiles. An' it weren't intentional, neither.

"Sun hasn't risen. Faulty conclusions were drawn," she mumbled, tightening her fingers into his chest. And gorram if it didn't feel amazing.

"Ship-time, it's nearin' noon, Riv-girl." Her only response was an unintelligible noise that vibrated slightly into his chest.

He jostled her slightly, wondering why she weren't getting off'a him.

"Comfortable. Broken down barriers. New step in our relationship." Her voice was startlingly clear. Jayne stared at the ceiling, considering those words for a moment.

"We in a relationship now?"

"Steps have been taken, but none that can't go back."

Jayne grunted, running a hand through the silky strands of her hair. "Ain't sure I wanta go back, moonbrain. Thinkin' here's a good place as any."

"Here, there. Steps are slippery but only point forward. We could break apart, never to function as a partnership again," River said, running fingers along his cheek. He forced himself not to nuzzle her hand-weren't a manly thing to do.

He frowned though, as the meaning of her words filtered into his brain. "Y'mean-we couldn't go back to our partnership? This don't work, we're broken?"

"Yes," River said, her brown eyes serious.

"That ain't a surprise," Jayne said. It weren't. But it was something to think on-and seriously. Then she shifted and his brain froze and his john thomas reminded him just how much he wanted her. Swearing, he pulled her up his chest, no mind to his various cuts and bruises. She matched him, motion for motion, straddling him, rubbing slightly against him as he held a hand at her hip, steadying her,the other cupping her face. He stared at her for what seemed like minutes before kissing her, breaking a spell of no-kissin that'd lasted nigh on fifteen years.

It was several minutes before they broke apart, nearly short of breath, blood flowing. Their eyes locked, but River broke away from his hold suddenly, to stand by him, balancing gracefully on one leg, much to Jayne's confusion until he heard Simon's distinct tread.

He jackknifed into a sitting position, looking for something to mask his visible interest in the Doc's sister. Weren't like he wanted to be poisoned. Simon handed him the protein bar without so much as a raised brow-despite the tension in the room having made the temperature a good bit too warm for his liking.

"Jayne, I'm afraid I have to ask you to move. I need to look at River's gunshot wound and-"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm getting up!" Jayne shot off the bed and stopped only when he was standing in the doorway. He didn't want to leave River's side, not when he'd almost lost her.

"Mal's waiting for you in your dining area, Jayne. I'll send River along as soon as I've cleaned this up-" Simon glanced at him and Jayne found himself wondering when Simon'd started respecting him. It was.. River'd call it disconcerting. He looked at River, as she perched on the exam table. She smiled lightly-her kiss-swollen lips making him hot in all kinds of ways-and tilted her head towards her brother. Jayne grimaced and forced himself to turn away, heading towards the dining area.

Jayne could smell the food they'd made before he turned the corner to find Mal and Zoe eating at his table-soup of some kind made mostly of protein mush. But it didn't smell bad-which was really his only requirement. "There any left?" he asked roughly, his stomach awakening as it processed that there was edible food to be had.

"Plenty. Hope you don't mind we used your protein."

"Nope. Glad River saw fit to stock up on it a ways back." Jayne slopped some into a large bowl and sat heavily in the third chair.

"About that-"

"What?" Jayne's gaze flew to Mal's cool eyes. "'Choo' talkin' on?"

"Let the ca-Mal speak" Zoe broke in. Jayne gestured wordlessly with his spoon.

"Time was for decision making, now River's out from that academy o' hers."

"And?" Jayne looked at both of them, wondering if he was gonna have to call Mal captain again. He'd never liked that part.

"Well-Zoe an' I, we need the sky, something' fierce." Jayne tensed. "And gorram, I can't believe you sold Serenity," Mal grumbled.

"We told, we're gorram sorry, but no way we could've handled it an' you know it!" Jayne brooked out, slamming his spoon down. "And I'm sorry, but River an' I are a pair now an' it might git a mite uncomfortable here, all of us stuck here long enough." Jayne glared at the two of them.

"We know, Jayne" Zoe broke in, cutting off Mal for once.

"I ain't-you-what?" Jayne blinked.

"It was clear as the lakes on Osiris that you an' River were going moony over each other," Mal grumbled. "And there was nothing we could do about it neither."

"Well then." Jayne leaned back in his seat, the knot in his back fading. "Ain't enough room here on Kaywinnet for all of us, not long term."

"Zoe and I've made it before-"

"Hell, Mal, I don't have ta call ya Captain, let's just get Serenity back."

"You can do that?" Mal stood, his chair clattering back onto the floor.

"Might be as we could-River's the one who sold it, but she said it was some sorta pawn shop fer ships or some such. Could definitely get us a firefly, I'm thinkin." Jayne chucked his bowl in the sink and went towards the door. "Now-iffen that's sorted, I'ma go find my girl. She's been holed up with her brother too long."

He'd just passed his bunk when he felt small hands pull him sideways. He tripped over his own feet, falling into River's room, steadying himself on the wall as he stared down at the tiny woman in front of him. "Now just how in-mph" River'd kissed him, mid tirade and he couldn't help but respond.

He closed the door to her room and picked her up-couldn't have her standing on that injured leg, after all. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and Jayne had to force himself to pull his face a few inches away. "Darlin-"

"She knows. We will return for Serenity. She knows it has been left untouched these last years," River smiled down at him and he grinned back impatient to have her on his bed-naked as the day she'd turned up on Serenity. River threw her head back and laughed, and he couldn't help but join in. Life had taken a decidedly upwards turn in the last two hours.