Title: Envy

Author: The Frisky Firelily

Disclaimer: Ah children, if I owed them the bloody show would still be on air.

A/N: Well I'm back with this little tale. Slightly AU after the BDM, because I just can't fly without my full crew. I liked the idea of a fic based on the Seven Deadly Sins, and am ridiculously addicted to Rayne so it seemed to fit. A word of warning - I am a staunch athiest, and in no way mean this fic as a commentary on the nature of the Cardinal Sins or anything pertaining to any religion. This fic is solely written for my enjoyment, based on my love of Dante's Inferno and fascination with the concept of Seven Deadly Sins. Any comment pertaining to religion will be deleted - this is not an expression or indictment of beliefs. Please be sensible when reading it, do not take it as anything other than a fic I felt like writing. I'll shut up now :)

POST-BDM

When Jayne was young his mother had read to him from old books. Stories from earth-that-was comprised his nightly bedtime reading, although he'd never admit to such information now. Mercenaries didn't need to know about Grimm's fairytales, the risque accounts of Balzac, or the principles of law from Dostoyevsky. But know them he did.

His favourite had been an ancient text his mother had been given by his father when they first met, the last copy of its kind, passed down for generations. Monetarily the book could have provided for their family for years, but his parents never valued money that way, they valued each other. The gift was extravagant, but James Cobb had taken one look at the petite brunette Vera, and his heart had been owned from the beginning. The book was nothing compared to the smile that had graced his fiancee's face that day, and her love of reading had been passed along to their children.

Dante's Inferno, the extraordinary pilgramage into hell, had transfixed Jayne. The Cobbs were not religious, few settlers held on to such ancient beliefs, and although some still found the comfort of a higher power, the Cobbs had always been realists. Despite his own lack of belief in such a power, the things Dante wrote about held Jayne's attention. Rich language, ornate tapestries of description, and of course, the sins.

The idea of the Seven Deadly Sins fascinated him the most, the concept that these seven choices would affect a man's whole eternity both confused and intrigued him endlessly. Still, although fascinated by them, he had never felt any concern as an adult. Whoring, drinking, gambling, taking the cash when and where it came, these things all made sense to him, and an old book wasn't about to change that. Life was short, hell wasn't real, there was no pleasure that should be avoided. It had never bothered him.

Until now. Because lately Jayne had found himself a little overly aware of his own sinning. A bubble of concern had begun to rise up in him. And it was all her fault.

ENVY: An insatiable desire for something belonging to someone else, and a resentment towards the other individual for their possession. In Dante, "a desire to deprive other men of theirs".

Jayne had experienced envy innumerable times; the life of a merc wasn't exactly a rich gig, and more than once he'd not only acted on the desire, but profited heavily from it.

He'd coveted the best looking whores, especially when he was younger and had yet to develop the reputation he had now. Now it was simple enough to go into an establishment where his name was known and find himself surrounded. But as a teenager and a young man, with barely a coin to rub together, he'd had to settle for whatever he could get.

Even earlier than his teenage years Jayne had been envious. Envious of the kids who could stay in school, who didn't have to leave so they could help support their family. Envious of the boys with new clothes each season, while he wore whatever his mother could cobble together. Envious even more of the easy friendships these boys developed with equally well off children, while he was stuck with an over abundance of younger siblings. Envious of the pretty girls such boys attracted, who wouldn't look twice at the oversized and under educated boy from the Cobb farm.

Still, such envy had been tempered by knowing his father wouldn't beat him for failing a class, from knowing his siblings were better playmates and truer friends than any one of those well dressed boys, from feeling the warmth and love of his mother's kitchen. The envy was further tempered by the knowledge that his parents, although poor and hardworking, loved each other more than any other family on the whole planet, and didn't seek solace in the arms of greedy mistresses and overpaid gardeners.

But now his envy had no temperance. Jayne walked towards the galley, pausing in the doorway as he heard the sounds of low laughter. Little Kaylee was snuggled up beside the doctor on the couch. No one could deny that the boy had come into himself after the horrors of Miranda, had finally found his feet and his place in the 'Verse. Jayne had even come to think of him as crew, possibly even as a friend, if their last excursion to Peresephone (which had culminated with himself and a very inebriated Dr. Tam blundering their way back to the ship howling the filthiest limericks they knew) was anything to go by. Normally he wouldn't begrudge the boy a hint of happiness, but seeing them all curled up, all focused on each other and nothing else, all easy warmth and intimate comfort, made Jayne's blood boil.

It made him think of Wash and Zoe in the cockpit, her sitting on the funny man's lap, each with a hand laid across her now slightly swollen stomach. It made him think of the Captain and Inara, yelling violently at one another across the kitchen table that morning, each with a smile threatening their angry countenances.

That easy warmth, that family joy, that feeling of familiar arguments, that was what his parents had. He glanced towards the kitchen table, and saw the Captain reading over some schematics for the next job. Inara sat on the other side of the table, flipping slowly through a book on haiku whilst sipping her tea. At that same moment Serenity's resident psychic came floating into the room, her pale peach dress hanging like gossamer silk from her thin frame, her chocolate curls tumbling down her pale back. Bare feet silently crossed the galley floor towards Simon as she stopped to plant a quick, easy kiss on his forehead.

She'd become more comfortable with such gestures apparently, and now took great delight in enjoying the warmth and joy of physical touch with the majority of the crew. He thought back to yesterday, sharpening his knives at the table whilst watching Inara braid River's hair as the younger girl flipped through a book on Quantum Mechanics. Or the day before, when she had given Wash a fast hug after he'd shown her one of Serenity's handling procedures and praised her heavily. He'd felt an odd twisting in his stomach at that hug.

But her next action proved nearly his undoing. She approached the Captain, still sitting pouring over his schematics. Her quiet voice was still louder than the low laughter Kaylee and Simon were still emitting.

"Your entrance point is faulty, chances of success are vastly increased by taking the third ventilation shaft along the alley wall." Mal didn't even look up as he replied.

"Well that's why we have you darlin', to point out such increases." And with that he simply moved his right leg slightly outward, still not looking away from his schematics, and raised his arm. River perched quickly on Mal's knee, and his raised arm settled comfortably around her waist. The gesture was simple, familiar, more fatherly than intimate. It had obviously been performed a hundred times. River had grown closer to Mal, who now viewed her as some kind of surrogate daughter, and it was obvious to all the crew that he enjoyed feeling fatherly towards the tiny assassin. Inara didn't even look up, as used to this easy contact as the rest of the crew.

It made Jayne's eyes glaze over red. The sight of River seated comfortably on Mal's knee as if she'd always had a place there, pointing out some different escape route or another, was enough to damage Jayne's calm in a serious way.

He quickly stepped away from the doorway and back into the hall that led to the crew's quarters. He struggled to control his breathing as his hands clenched into fists. Breathing heavily through his nose he closed his eyes , leaned against the wall, and shook his head, willing this insane jealousy to slip away but finding no respite.

Fucking Mal, touching the girl, holding the girl; it was beyond painful. He marched quickly towards his room, barely able to control his movements to head in the right direction, only wanting to go back, smash his fist into Mal's smug face, and plant River on his own knee.

And why? Why in the name of hell would he care about River sitting on Mal's knee? He had wanted the crazy girl off the damn ship for months, although he had to admit his complaints had died down following Miranda.

The sight of all those lean muscles, tousled hair, wild eyes and Reaver corpses had sure been incredible. Hell, if he were honest with himself he'd felt this same desire back then, to battle through the Fed's surrounding her and take her for his own.

When he'd been a boy his father had taken him hunting, and one late night they'd come across a pack of wolves in a clearing. They'd stayed low and hadn't bothered the animals, so the usually violent creatures had let them be. His father had instructed him to observe.

"See that boy? That there's the Alpha, and he's got the whole damn pack to look after. Ain't easy for him, but he's got a teammate. That little thing there? She's the Alpha female. See, wolves mate for life. All that running and hunting ain't no fun without a partner to run with. And they stay true to each other too. Smart things, wolves."

Jayne had been fascinated, studying the male, a massive grey timber wolf, as he surveyed his pack. The female, a slim, delicate looking thing with dark eyes that flashed against the light, had sidled up beside him and calmly licked his ear. The male had returned the gesture, and the two had made a fine sight as they stood side by side.

Couple of weeks later some poachers had come through his Daddy's land, and although Jayne and his brother's had sorted them out real quick, there were casualties. Jayne had come across the body of the female later that day, half her head blown away from a rifle blast. The male had been sniffing at her corpse, and then turned towards Jayne. Although never a poetic boy, Jayne had seen a sorrow in that animal's eyes that he never wanted to see again. The once proud animal now looked broken beyond repair. The male had loped off into the trees, but two days later Jayne's brother Kyle had found his body. Said the damn thing had broken his neck.

Since then Jayne had come to fairly certain terms when it came to the females of his species – if a poor dumb animal like a wolf could become so distraught when it lost it's mate, than what chance did a man have? Better to never get attached like that, never to feel that kind of pain.

Jayne had managed to only calm himself down slightly, and he knew he should avoid Mal for at least a couple of days so he didn't do anything stupid. At the moment a small, delicate looking hand laid across his darkly tanned arm. It looked out of place something fierce against the thick muscle and spattering of hair on his forearm. He looked from the hand to River's large, chocolate eyes. Her face was solemn, but her eyes held something he couldn't quite put his finger on.

"Calm yourself, lupine one, patriarchal comfort fails to usurp the Alpha." And before he could ask her to explain at least four words of that sentence she had slipped away, back towards the galley. Back towards fucking Mal. She turned in the doorway to the kitchen and raised a delicate eyebrow, as if she expected him to understand. Her eyes flashed in that same way he'd seen on the female wolf. Then she turned and walked into the kitchen, out of sight.

He stood in place for a moment, dumbfounded, before he remembered an old fairytale. Little Red Riding Hood, he thought it was called, and he knew he'd heard the word lupine there. He struggled to remember the story...was there an animal in it? Lupine...did that mean wolf? A patriarch was a father, he knew that part.

His brow was furrowed but the smallest hint of a smile tweaked the right side of his mouth. Wolf. Huh. His arm still hummed with her touch against his skin, although she had long since removed her hand.

Maybe being envious wasn't all that bad when crazy girl's with chocolate eyes called you an Alpha. Jayne wondered if maybe the wolf hadn't had it right all along.

A/N: So obviously I'm planning a chapter per Sin, and possibly a final chapter to round this out. Would LOVE feedback (as would be all :) ) Please leave a comment! Thanks so so much for reading this.