Pretending by Lady Cleo

Older story, something I wrote while trying to get to sleep. Rayne relationship established already. The not so fluffy side of Rayne Love.

It's early morning and Serenity's still sleeping, lazily dreaming away the hours. But River's awake, itching beneath her skin. Legs kicking beneath the covers, heart thumping in her ears, finger's playing with the cotton sheets, eyes watching the grates above her.

Jayne's awake too, she can feel it. He's always up first, grumping over coffee. Serenity's made him lazy, lets him sleep through the night, but habits instilled at birth still linger. Had to be up before dawn on that dusty rock once called home, things to do before the sun came up. Doesn't mean he likes it, but she knows he finds comfort in the older ways, in the habits.

Pushing back the covers River slips from the room silently, so as not to stir the snoring Simon next door; brothers are too much trouble before noon. She tiptoes past the room that hides the hair and a light sleeper, moving slowly up the stairs into the galley.

Jayne stands over the coffee maker in his intimidating manner, as though his glare alone will make it percolate faster. His stance is lazy angry; not quite awake, but still mad at the world. He knows she's there, but he won't turn and look at her yet.

River gently pads over to the kitchen, watching him as he ignores her. He's angry at her, always angry because he's afraid of being anything else. He afraid that if he's not angry he'll finally admit what the anger hides; what his barriers stop him from feeling.

But, what he hides from himself she can see.

She pulls herself onto the counter next to him, reaches out and grabs a piece of fruit from the bowl beside her- Apple; bright red and juicy, still fresh and cold beneath her finger tips. He's cursing the coffee pot now, still pretending to ignore her, but his body betrays him and a hand sneaks out to gently rest on her knee cap.

River bites into the apple, munching on the sweet fruit and then holds out the unbitten side towards him. He leans in without thinking, teeth digging into the soft flesh, tearing away a piece of red and white. Jayne turns back to the coffee pot; finger's drumming across her knee cap to an unheard beat.

She finishes the apple and tosses the core. It takes a moment for her to decide her first move. Like with chess, everything must be weighed and considered. All angles of attack and defeat must be clear. River turns to the mercenary and pulls on his shirt with a pout. Jayne frowns and steps over at her insistent tugging, coming to a halt in front of her.

She smiles up at him slips her hands around his waist and leans her head against his shoulder. He's stiff for a second, unwelcoming, but he relaxes and let a arm wrap gently around her waist, holding her comfortably for a moment.

One minute- two minutes- going for a record here; longest hold not involving kisses. But Jayne pulls away grumpily, "If'n you're still tired, go back to bed." And he steps back over to possibly the 'Verse's slowest coffee maker. One step forward and two steps back.

River lets him go acting, like his words didn't hurt and smiling to herself she starts to quietly hum. It's her game, a game that makes the day go by infinitely faster and smoother when not brought down by drugs.

The rules are not complicated; all she has to do is pretend. Pretend that her suitor isn't an emotional blocked man that once tried to turn her into those that hurt her. Pretend that if Simon where to walk in to the room all he would do is roll his eyes in disgust. Pretend that the world is not knocking on her door, trying to remind her of all the things that cannot be. Trying to remind her of what she is, who she is; what he did and who he is.

Reaching out with her hand she rests it on his forearm, feels his muscle clinch for a second, watches as the emotions play across his eyes. And wonders how she ever managed to capture his interest. She's afraid, afraid she'll wake up one day and discover she's been dreaming all along. That all her pretending has been just that; pretending.

She knows what can happen, that they'll hit the next port and he'll run off towards the nearest whore house, forgetting about the girl waiting on the ship for his return. And she knows it's a very real fear, he has very little to gain from their relationship and even more to lose.

Jayne pours himself some of the dark liquid and takes a long sip, peering at her from over the brim of the cup.

At the same time River wants to believe; believe that he won't hit the first whore house they come across, that he'll come back to her no matter what. And sometimes, she does believe it; believes that there is no power in the verse that can separate them. Sometimes she convinces herself that she is worth everything to him, that she's not pretending.

But there are no certainties with him.