TITLE: Faith

DISCLAIMER: Not mine

A/N: Rewatched Jaynestown, hence…this.


Mal left me leanin' against the catwalk railin' an' starin' down inta the cargo bay without really seein' it. The boy had thrown himself lightenin' quick, takin' the blast like a real man without a second thought.

Fer me.

I didn't get it, didn't make no sense that folk I'd never met would do that fer me. Ain't nobody I can think of that'd do that, not 'afore today at least. More than enough folk'd be takin' up the other end o' the shot gun, but ta throw 'emselves in front?

Nope, can't think o' nobody what'd do that.

I snorted an' headed fer the galley; I ain't one ta dwell an' the fact that this was stickin' round was botherin' me somethin' fierce. Shouldn't be stayin' in my mind like mudders stink, settlin' over my brain an' makin' me start…thinkin'.

I hate thinkin'.

I found my stash o' booze and swallowed two cups 'afore I realized I weren't alone in the galley. The girl was sittin' over the coffee table scribblin' in some book. She was wearin' some long grey thing that swamped her skinny lil frame, hair all messy round her face and shoulders. She didn't bother lookin' up, jus' kept writin' as if she was gonna solve all the problems o' the 'verse.

Suddenly I was angry, angrier than I was in town. There she was, all tucked up like she hadn't a care in the damn world, head tucked inta a book. Here I was goin' through some egg-so-stential crisis an' she was doodlin' all over some stupid pages, havin' spent the day gettin' babysat? Ain't like she had ta go through anythin', always gettin' tiptoed around, always gettin' looked after like she was gonna break. I wanted ta annoy her, make it so's she was feelin' as crappy as I was.

Seemed only fair.

I sat down way too close on the couch, gettin' in her space, an' the lack o' response made me even more annoyed. I opened my mouth, ready ta spout some good an' cuttin' comment 'bout crazy girls, when suddenly she turned to look at me.

"You don't fix faith, mercenary. Faith fixes you."

I froze, clutchin' my cup tight an' starin'. Her eyes weren't all haunted an' filled with madness fer once, an' she tilted her head to one side, gesturin' ta the table. I realized she was writin' in a Bible.

"Silly Preacherman, so many contradictions – faith in the face of glaring inaccuracy does not constitute answers, repairs, restitution. Blind belief in paranormal phenomenon deemed mandatory for celestial ascension is not sound reasoning. It is the exact opposite."

I still can't talk, not with all them big words runnin' through my head like somehow I'd figure out what they meant. She gave me one o' the looks I seen her give her brother, all disappointed an' affectionately frustrated.

Since when did she get all affectionately frustrated wit' me?

She held up the book, showin' me the title. "Symbol of devotion, belief, faith. No evidence, no facts provided other than fanciful tales."

I nodded, thinkin' I understood. "Yer sayin' it's made up."

She shook her head. "Misguided fables, perhaps, but not to those who wrote it."

She was givin' me that look again like I was meant ta understand an' fer some reason I wanted ta, even if just ta show her I could. She looked sad for a moment, an' I knew it wasn't at me, an' she shyly tucked a lock of hair behind her ear.

"Linguistics of daily communication prove problematic."

I understood, though I ain't got a clue how. The girl was tryin' ta talk ta me all normal like, an' fer a second I wondered why she was tryin' so damn hard ta get an' old hun dan like me on the same page.

"Ya can't say it normal, huh?"

She took a deep breath, concentratin' hard. "Faith is not acquired…developed for logical reasons. Faith exists to support those who require such services; when the reality of the 'verse fails to provide answers they turn to unreality for guidance…for belief in something better."

I stared. Them mudders had nuthin', weren't like they was workin' towards no promotions. All they had was toil an' strife an' mud, shortest end o' the stick in all the 'verse. So when I came along that day, when I did my dirty double crossin' an' was forced ta blow the loot inta the sky, they saw somethin' ta believe in; me.

She was nodding as if she could see what I was thinkin', an' fer a second I thought maybe she could. I didn't take my eyes away from hers as I gulped at my drink, the burn seemin' to clear rather than cloud fer once.

"Yer sayin' they needed somethin' ta believe in."

She gave me a smile like I'd impressed her an' I couldn't help but think I didn't mind her so much when her face was all lit up like that. "Verity, truth. Provided something they required, a hero they needed."

She put one little hand on top o' my own an' I couldn't stop myself noticin' that even though it was small an' made mine look even bigger'n normal, it still looked good there. "Will continue to provide the required services regardless of the events that transpired."

I narrowed my eyes. "They's gonna put that damn statue back up, ain't they?"

She smiled playfully and nodded. "Must have symbol, something to look to for faith."

I ain't no man o' god, never have been. Don't see no need fer imaginary friends out in the Black, got too much ta worry 'bout here an' now ta reflect on later. Plus it don't bode well fer me ta think too much on heavenly reprisals. Believin' in somethin' other than yerself was stupid - ain't nobody in the 'verse gonna live up ta yer expectations, they's jus' gonna look fer the best openin' an' leave ya in the dust.

Still, I couldn't help but ask. "Ya got any faith, girl?"

She was smilin' all shy-like again an' I was likin' that look more'n more. "She has faith, she believes, though not as they see it."

I was starin' curiously an' she got that look again like she was workin' hard fer the words ta come out right.

"Brother had faith. Letters, code, divined and interpreted. Belief in what she was saying, trust in the urgency she communicated. Total and complete faith that his actions were required. Relinquishing all ties to previous life to save her, embarking on a new and frightening journey precipitated…brought about by trust in her and her alone."

I could hear somethin' else in what she was sayin' an' I leaned in close. "That ain't what I asked; ya got any faith yerself?"

Her eyes got a faraway look an' I thought maybe I'd stumbled on somethin' important. "No, no unsupported beliefs. All personal dogma is grounded in fact."

I figured maybe I didn't need ta talk, jus' needed ta wait a lil while. Sure enough she started up again, lookin' like she was sayin' somethin' she didn't know if she should be sayin'.

"There is a darkness, a terrible journey. Loss will come close to breaking peace but will fail; they will find one another. Grease and healing will meet in union, the warrior will mourn and rejoice in new life, the silken scarf will wrap around a brown coat."

The hairs on the back o' my neck started standin' up cuz I kept feelin' like iffen I were smarter, iffen I understood met-y-fours, iffen I could jus' listen a lil closer I'd know what she was sayin'. More'n that, I knew that I didn't really wanna figure it out.

That lock o' hair had come loose again an' wit' all that sadness in her eyes I couldn't help tuckin' it back, my hand snappin' away like I'd been burned when her eyes came back ta mine. I was seein' somethin' there, an' she was tryin' ta let me see, but damned iffen I couldn't figure out what it was.

She still had her hand on mine an' now it felt icy, remindin' me I shouldn't be here. Shouldn't be seen hangin' round wit' some crazy girl, havin' folks think I was tryin' things. 'Sides, who knew when she was gonna go all bughouse an' what she'd be likely ta 'ccuse a man of. I stood, headin' towards the door quickly. Her voice stopped me an' I couldn't help but listen.

"Porcelain skin will be stained with gun oil, and all will be right in the 'verse."

I didn't turn around but them eyes were borin' a hole inta my neck. I had a feelin' like maybe I knew what she was sayin' but weren't no part o' my brain ready ta place any kind o' faith in the girl, not with her bare arms covered in needle marks, not with the way those eyes would cloud over.

Not with the way she made my stomach turn in knots.

I kept walkin' out o' the galley, knowin' that it was gettin' ta be time fer the Tam's exit from Serenity. I knew we'd be headin' ta the Core soon, an' a few weeks later tha Doc gives us a job on Ariel.

Perfect.

TWO YEARS LATER

She's hummin' again, bare naked in our bunk, head tucked into the crook o' my shoulder, body still damp with coolin' sweat. I can't help but press a kiss on her forehead, an' I'd given up tryin' ta resist her long ago.

She stretched slowly, like a lil cat, an' the scratches on my back are nice proof o' that comparison. She gives me that tired, satisfied smile that I love so damn much, kissin' me on the lips all gentle like.

Since I married the girl I've wanted ta ask this but it ain't never seemed like the right time. She knows what I wanna ask, but she ain't one fer pushin' less she needs ta, an' I know there ain't never gonna be a better time than now.

"Ya knew, didn't ya? All that time ago, ya knew?"

She nodded. "Saw the reality. Still could have been changed but she had faith that all would come to pass."

I tucked a curl of hair behind her ear. "That's a long while ta have faith, 'specially with me actin' the fool so many times."

She nuzzled my cheek, stubble scratching her nose as she hummed affectionately. "Had faith in you."

Fer the life o' me sometimes I can't figure out why she did then, or even does now. Course, I know that a single day goin' by when I don't get to see her, hear her, touch her, kiss her, my mind gets all muddled up an' I start feelin' lonely.

I nod. "That ya did, baby-girl."

She raised her head. "Never got to ask all that time ago – does Jayne have any faith?"

She already knows the answer and I smirk. "Girl, ya know I don't believe in no religious go se."

She smiles an' tucks herself back down, lettin' me wrap my arms around her. She knows the truth, knows exactly what's goin' on in my less than speedy brain. Might've taken me a long time ta figure it out, but it had ta happen eventually.

I got faith alright.

Cuz I've got her. My shiny, scary, Reaver-killin', client-Readin', hellcat sexin', beautiful lil genius girl.

I believe in her.

An' that's all the faith I'm ever gonna need.