A/N May Eve inspired me to do some purging of the almost-complete stories I have been hoarding on my computer over the past few years, so here goes. Review if you like it (and especially if you don't), and thanks for dropping by. This is set after the BDM, and follows the crew for some years following in 5 chapters.

They were doing a job after Serenity was flying again, trying to keep out of the Core and away from the Alliance's attention. They were healin' their hurts from Miranda slowly, but mouths still had to get fed and the ship still needed fuel to run. Keeping out of the Alliance's view meant running more jobs out in the reaches of the planets and moons that made up the Rim where money and opportunities already ran tight and people fought just to survive on the rocks they had bled to make their homes on.

Mal, Zoë, and Jayne had been meeting a new client in an outer-reach bar, dropping off merchandise they weren't supposed to have for money they needed when an officer of the law stepped in, suspicious. Taking the bar hostage (because 'aint that the lawmen's way?), the Alliance pretty-man was ready to arrest all three of them on the spot. Jayne was ready for the fight, but was beaten to it by the slim, dressed-up girl behind the bar who took exception to the officer's high-handed manner and hit him unconscious with a knock to the jaw that made Mal's teeth ache.

She was the daughter of a gunsmith and a bartender and she had looked through Jayne's posturing and smiled, offering him a drink on the house that he had gladly accepted in exchange for dragging the lawman out into the dust.

Mal and Zoë exchanged many an irony-filled glance when it became clear that she would be the perfect fit for their heavy-drinking gun-slinging mercenary. These glances were shared among the rest of the crew when a romance between the two actually sparked.

Their teasing died down (slightly) when they saw Jayne waiting by the hatch on their fifth visit to the moon, a messily wrapped present stuck under his arm. And when the two of them stood before Mal hand-in-hand, asking permission to board, Mal could find it in his heart to poke at them just once before hugging Jayne's new wife warmly.

(Wash would have brought up Mal's ill-fated marriage, and Zoë knew that was why no one aboard did so, though she was tempted a mite herself.)

The thing was she was perfect for Jayne. Her love of guns (she got that from her mama – and not only could she shoot every gorram gun in creation, but she could put them together, too) was maybe the only thing she and Jayne had in common. She was quick to smile but quiet, and had a simple goodness that shone through and made even her husband better. But she was still hard-as-steel, like all the Rim folk ended up being – if they didn't end up being dead –and she wouldn't back down for anything, no matter the sulks Jayne put up.

They named their first child after Jayne's mother, a tiny baby girl with her mama's strawberry-blonde hair and the fight of both her parents, delivered by Simon aboard ship while running from raiders looking forward to takin' from those who looked weaker than themselves. River had just broken Serenity into atmo, safe and in the clear, when Simon handed the baby girl to her parents. Jayne said her name first, whispered it to the tiny thing he held in his arms, the crew huddled around.