Why me, Book?

Author owns no rights what-so-ever to Firefly, nor the universe in which it lives. He writes solely for his own amusement. It's okay not to sue him.

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Jayne sat on a shipping crate outside of Guilford's. They had returned the evening before, and things were quiet right now. Serenity was on a haul, the girl and Liam were over at Mal and Inara's, everyone was somewhere else.

Jayne liked that, sometimes. And sometimes not.

When he was alone, he felt River's 'loss' more. She should be here. She should be with him. Or he with her, if she wanted to go somewhere.

But that was gone, at least for now. When he was alone, he was alone. It hadn't bothered him for much of his life.

I never should have opened myself up for this, he sighed in exasperation. I was better off alone, where I couldn't feel this kind of pain. Where it was just me.

And then he had to read that damn letter.

Why the hell didn't you just kill me, Book? He rubbed his face with his hands. Wasn't for you not doin' your damned job, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

It was foreign to him to question his own survival. Always had been. He'd been so long on the hunt, telling himself he had to survive in order to avenge his family. Well, he'd done that, finally.

Course, had you killed me, I couldn't have done that, could I? he was honest enough to admit.

"Everything happens for a reason."

He could hear Book's voice as clearly as if he were still alive, talking to him about why this had to happen.

Shoulda just knocked her ass out, he told himself. She would have woke up on the ship, on the way to Astra, and wouldn't have been squat all she coulda done about it until we got back. Might have been able to talk sense to her, during that week.

But he'd been so mad. . . .No, don't lie, you wasn't mad, you was hurt. Hurt that she made the decision without you, that she was willin' to give up everything, just walk away, in order to do something stupid. She hurt you.

"And that's my fault," Jayne said aloud, though there was noone around to hear. I let her get to a place where she could hurt me. That was a mistake. I shouldn't have let that happen. I knew better.

But he'd done it anyway. Knowing full well that it would probably end just like this, he had gone ahead and done it anyway.

"Damn it." He stood and walked around for a minute. He knew better than to sit idle. When he did, he always came back to this. He never learned.

Damn you Book, for not killin' me when you was sposed to. I wouldn't be here, hurtin' like this now, wasn't for your mercy. And there wasn't no reason not to kill me. I had killed a lot o' your kind. And no matter how many it was, I always wanted more. I could never kill enough. Never enough.

Jayne had never suffered from flashbacks. Never. He'd never regretted a thing he'd done to any of them. Not a single thing.

He didn't know if he was capable of regret. The only time he'd felt true regret was when he'd seen how bad River had been messed up, and he'd already made the call to give the Tam's up.

He'd been mad then, too. Damn girl cuttin' him. Sissy ass Simon letting Kaylee damn near die. It was too much to watch.

Jayne didn't realize he was working his way into a rage, running so many things over in his mind like this. His breathing was shallow, ragged, and his heart rate was climbing. His fists clenched and unclenched.

Why me, Book? Why me?

"Daddy, are you okay?" he heard. Turning he saw Chelsa and Liam, walking toward him. Liam looked concerned, but also wary. He'd seen Jayne like this before.

"Thought you two was at Inaras," Jayne managed not to grate.

"We were," Chelsa nodded. "For five hours."

Five hours? How long had he been out here? How long had his mind been locked into that cycle?

"Are you okay?" Chelsa repeated. She looked almost afraid, but as trying not to show it.

"I'm fine, Princess," he smiled. "Just walkin' and thinkin'. Never a good idea for me, I suppose."

"I love you," Chelsa told him, hugging him tight. Jayne returned her embrace without a thought. It was just natural. He looked down at her, this teenage girl who had suffered so much. Been traumatized, really, with her ordeal on Aberdeen. Without him and. . . .

Jayne was stunned. He'd never even thought about it.

"We're going inside, daddy," Chelsa said finally. "Liam and I are gonna play cards. Want to play?"

"Not right now, sweetie," he said gently. "Let your old man enjoy the last o' the day out here, okay?" She smiled.

"You aren't that old," she teased. The two teens walked up the ramp, holding hands.

If Book had killed me, she might not be here. If any one thing hadn't happened the way it did, she would be dead. Or worse.

Feeling very heavy, Jayne sat down.

Why me? He watched as the two disappeared into the ship.

Who else should it have been? Could it have been?

Jayne felt a large load lift off his chest, as he relaxed, and watched the sun go down.

Thanks for letting it be me, Book. I appreciate it.