27) I Know You Tried To Rescue Me

River moaned as she tried to move, her body had stiffened overnight though she and Richard had slept very little. He'd found a bowl and bathed her after their third session of their version of lovemaking, allowing her to do the same to him when she'd insisted. The animals within had done their best to mark each other with their scents, she'd bitten Riddick more than once, he had bloody teeth marks on his shoulders and neck as well as his pectoral muscles over his heart. Riddick's animal had done much the same with her, her back below her neck bore the marks of his teeth as well as her shoulder and her thigh.

"Bǎo bǎo you all right," Riddick frowned as he watched River moving so stiffly. "Them bruises a yours…we didn't aggravate 'em did we?"

"Too much time immobile," She groaned as she tried to stretch. "Must have stretching and katas before sparring and weights." River looked over at Riddick, "You will be feeling the effects as well."

Riddick pushed himself out of the bed and shook his head, "Little stiff; ain't bad if I'm alive." He shrugged easily. "Lemme pull on some pants an' I'll talk to Inara 'bout those salves." He put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed drawing a moan of pleasure from her lips. "Might see if I can get some lotion from her, give you a little rubdown. Might help with the pain."

"She can endure if he does," River frowned at him and shook her head.

Riddick frowned, that was the problem with a reader, she knew when he felt pain, when he was ignoring it or suppressing it, just as he could smell it on her when she was doing the same thing. "Shoulders are the worst of it for me, I give you a rubdown and you work on my shoulders an' back afterward," He bargained. When she folded her arms with a wince and a stubborn look he sighed. "C'mon River, you know I can't stand it when you're hurting. Makes me twitchy."

"His suggestion is acceptable," River wrinkled her nose at him. "In the future we must stretch before retiring so that we may avoid this discomfort."

"Yeah, neither of us were thinkin' last night," Riddick agreed with her and sat back down on the edge of the bed. "Animals needed each other."

"Yes," River moaned faintly as his hand ran over her back, gently rubbing over her spine. "My Riddick doesn't need lotion, his touch is soothing."

"Well why don' I get my woman all warm an' relaxed an' we'll have our workout," Riddick bent and pressed a kiss to her spine. "An' after that, got somethin' to do with Kaylee."

"The bond," River smiled. "She will be a good sister to him," She moaned as his big hands worked on a kink in her shoulder and panted. "Would like to be massaged another way," She flipped onto her back and caught his hand in hers, pressing it palm down to her breast. "She would like Richard Riddick to stretch her with his hands," The wave of hot desire from her partner seemed to roll over her skin like a tidal wave.

"I can do that," Riddick covered her body with his. "Thinkin' its time I used your toy on you too. Maybe you'll like it more if I'm the one usin' it on you tiān shǐ?"

"Possibly," River's hand drifted to his diǎo and began to stroke his flesh teasingly. "Want your diǎo in my mouth. Want you to enjoy me."

"I always do," Riddick groaned, concentrating on ways to drive his woman as crazy as she made him.

It was past fourteen hundred ship time when Riddick and River emerged from their bunk. Still moving a bit stiffly they stopped in to see Inara and then Simon before going out into the bay and dazzling the watching Ruby and Jayne with a display of kung fu among other things.

When they were going through their cool down Simon came out and began to test Riddick's reflexes worriedly. Finally pronouncing him fit and with no ill effects from the lack of oxygen the doctor smiled, "Feeling better I would guess." He looked at River and then at Riddick, "Ruby has been helping Jayne with his chores."

River grinned at Ruby who nodded her enthusiasm while Jayne sighed and caught the little girl to sit in his lap with an ease surprising to anyone who didn't know the merc was the oldest of four. "Yeah," The big man smiled down at the child, "Lil Bit an' me we swept out the bay an' checked alla the lights. Even loaded the cleaner with the dishes."

"Been workin' hard," Riddick observed, feeling his lips curve into a smile. "Eat breakfast?"

Ruby nodded and smiled up at Jayne who shrugged, "We had some egg protein an' ham. Made up somethin' simple for lunch." The big gun hand told them. "She's gonna have a nap in a bit," He looked down at Ruby sternly. "Simon's gonna read her a tale an' then she's havin' a nap."

Ruby shook her head stubbornly and Jayne frowned back, equally stubborn until Riddick intervened, "Cobh, let's see how she does without one, might be what she needs to sleep through the night."

Jayne tilted his head and shrugged, "Fine with me. Doc said he'd start teachin' Ruby her letters this afternoon. Guessin' anytime he's ready'd be good."

River smiled, "Ruby will enjoy that. No one bothered to teach her anything since she stopped speaking."

Ruby nodded and hopped down from Jayne's lap before taking the big man's hand and tugging on it. Riddick watched as the tiny girl bullied and cajoled wordlessly until the gun hand got up and was pulled towards Simon. "Guess you're gonna be sittin' in on the lessons," Riddick chuckled. "Hey Simon, be nice all right?"

Simon blinked first at Riddick and then at his new student and her big companion, "If Jayne wants to listen I don't see why he shouldn't." The core doctor lifted one shoulder in a casual shrug, "Just don't make fun. I haven't exactly done this before."

Jayne shook his head as Simon led them into the lounge, Ruby pulling Jayne along, "Ain't like I got a lotta expertise in this doc. Might learn somethin' myself."

River tilted her head and looked at him, "If we want to speak to Kaylee in private we'll need to do so soon." She murmured. "She's in the engine room." She draped her arms around his neck, "Before he goes to offer Kaylee the bond, must kiss his woman."

"Oh yeah?" Riddick grinned down at her and sat down on Jayne's weight bench. River simply followed him down and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"Yes," River nodded, "My mate. Must kiss his woman. She will have his lips on hers. A night of embraces is not enough to make up for a day of lost kisses." Her dark eyes twinkled up at him teasingly even as she pulled his mouth down to hers.

"Hmm...I guess I can kiss on you some...b'fore I go an' get me a sister," Riddick murmured against her lips. She was always so soft and sweet under him, the passion of her kisses took him by surprise sometimes. He couldn't ever forget she was a warrior the same as he was but her affectionate nature made him ascribe a gentility to her passions that wasn't entirely accurate. A kiss with River filled him with more heat and need than he'd felt when he'd seen whores naked. Her hands slid up to caress his neck and scalp and her mouth opened under his, sucking on his tongue until he was holding her tightly against him, feeling the delicious pressure of her breasts against his chest.

"Riddick is very wicked," River murmured as he slowly eased out of their kiss, her lips brushed over his and then his chin and jaw before she slipped out of his arms.

"I'm a bad man," Riddick agreed with a grin. "And you're my wicked woman."

"Come then, let's go corrupt Kaylee," River giggled and he rose, following her swaying hips up to the engine room.

The bubbly mechanic crawled out from under Serenity's engine with a happy hello when she saw who had come to visit, "Ya'll look a lot better'n you did last night." She smiled joyfully.

River smiled and sat in Kaylee's hammock, "Kaylee must pay attention to my Riddick." She commanded with a sweet smile at her friend. "Richard wants you for his sister."

"Sister?" Kaylee finished wiping her hands on a rag and shook her head curiously. "I don't understand."

"It's a little odd, it's a Furyan thing I guess," Riddick took a deep breath. "I want to make you my sworn sister, my blood sister, the way Jayne is my brother." He told her gently, "If that's what you want."

"Well sure I'd like you as a brother, but I don't get why," Kaylee looked a little wary, her eyes moving from Riddick to River and back again.

"It's hard to explain," Riddick shook his head and sat down on the steps that led into the engine room and extended a hand to Kaylee, "If you do it, it'd mean that you're my sister, I'd protect you with my life, just as I would River or Jayne or Simon."

"But why?" Kaylee nodded even as she questioned his intentions

"I'll explain in a minute," Riddick smiled as gently as he could. "For now, if you agree to the bond, give me your hand." He held one of his sharpest shivs in his other hand.

Kaylee frowned worriedly, "Is it gonna hurt?"

"Yeah, some, as little as I can help though," Riddick nodded honestly. He wouldn't lie about something like that, not when it was about the blood bond and especially not with River watching.

"All…all right," Kaylee extended her hand slowly and Riddick took it in his own. He frowned down at her palm and made sure the skin was clean before he drew the point of his shiv over her palm in a long shallow slice. Quickly he did the same on his hand, from his palm to the fleshy part of his thumb, a bit deeper than hers to get more blood before he clasped his hand over Kaylee's. Firm pressure, palm to palm, blood to blood until he could hear the pulse of her blood in his and finally, his heartbeat through her veins.

He was conscious of Kaylee's discomfort, his grip was very strong, she was confused, but she wasn't afraid. Finally he pulled their hands apart and drew her palm to his face so he could smell her wound. Satisfaction rolled through him and he smiled as he caught his scent in her blood, "You're my sister now Kaylee, my mèi mei, just like Cobh's my brother. You ever need me, for anything barrin' that could hurt or take me from River… you just ask. Don't care what it is."

"But I didn't do nothin'," Kaylee was confused, happy but confused, he could smell it on her. "Really, Rick you don't owe me anything."

"You kept Mal from killin' me, realized what was wrong, put yourself 'tween me an' his gun," Riddick was implacable. "He'd a killed me Kaylee. Mighta felt bad about it later, but I woulda been just as dead. River woulda been lost."

"I couldn't just let him shoot ya," Kaylee argued. "Jayne woulda done the same if he'd gotten there first, he's the one talked me inta helpin' him get ya out."

"I know," Riddick nodded. "An' I'd owe him my life twice't. But you didn't hafta stand up to Mal an' you did." He looked over at River, "Way River an' me are…you saved both of us Kaylee."

River broke in argument, "Means you're family Kaylee, your Rick's sister like I'm Simon's brother." A glimmer of a smile curved her lips, "Doesn't make Simon your brother. He's still fanciable." She stood and drifted over to the new siblings. "Wanted to thank you for saving my Richard. If he was gone…" She shuddered violently. "Can't bear to think of it."

Kaylee blushed, and hugged them both, an embrace smelling of affection like strawberries and sun to his sensitive nose. "Nice to have family, just don' like to think of it as owin' or anythin'. Woulda helped ya even if you was meaner than a polecat an twice as ugly."

Riddick chuckled, "Know what you mean." He smoothed a strand of hair behind his new sister's ear. "Best c'mon down an' have Simon clean that cut, make sure we get it bandaged good. He'll probably bluster at me some but that'll just be worry for you."

"Don't see why he'd worry on me," Kaylee shrugged but began to follow him out of the engine room. "I've gotten plenty a cuts and scrapes workin' on our girl. 'Spect that's why my hands ain't soft an' pretty like Inara's an' River's."

River caught Kaylee's uninjured hand in her own and let Kaylee feel the calluses across her palm, "Don't have soft hands either." She told the mechanic with a smile. "Zoe neither. Strong women, strong hands."

"River's right," Riddick tossed the words over his shoulder. "Don't have much use for a woman can't hold her own, thinkin' Simon's the same way." He waited for Kaylee to come abreast of him before continuing forward, conscious of River's amusement at something as she walked behind the two of them. "An' cuts an' scrapes from Serenity's different than my shiv slicing open your palm."

Kaylee shrugged and shook her head but didn't argue the point. When they entered the infirmary where Simon was quietly making notes on a datapad Riddick put a gentle hand on Kaylee's shoulder and brought her forward. Before either of them could speak, River came into the bright room and smiled at her brother. "Simon must be a doctor and also zhèng rén jūn zi ," She bowed politely and folded her arms as she regarded her big brother.

Riddick looked from his woman to her brother and tilted his head. Simon both looked and smelt confused but when River looked significantly at Kaylee his face cleared and he nodded his understanding. Unfortunately that still left Riddick and Kaylee in the dark. Deciding to ignore it for the moment, Riddick brought Kaylee's hand to Simon's attention, "Need to make sure this is good an' clean." He showed the doctor the long thin slice across Kaylee's palm.

Simon blinked at the wound and got out the appropriate cleansers, "Did you cut yourself on the engine?" He asked curiously. "I don't see any tearing of the flesh, no bruising."

"Nah," Kaylee shook her head. "Rick's got one that's similar, cross the bottom of his thumb, said it makes me his sister."

"Jié bài," Riddick added helpfully. "Kaylee kep' Mal from shootin' me when I stole the shuttle." He looked at his new sister's palm, "Need it cleaned doc, but if Kaylee don' mind, the scar's pretty important to keep."

"I imagine some of that salve I smell on you and River would do the trick," Simon murmured. "But let's clean it out first." He looked at Kaylee with concern, "You let me know if it hurts Kaylee, just because Rick's your gē ge doesn't mean you have to act like him."

Kaylee chuckled, "Since I cain't see in the dark, don't guess that'll be too likely." She glanced over at Riddick with a half-smile. "I'm a big ol' fraidy cat when it comes to guns an' fightin', don't 'spect you'll have much use for me."

"Use ain't got a thing to do with it," Riddick kept his voice low and soothing. The last thing he wanted to do was work Kaylee's nerves. "Value your heart Kaylee. That kindness an' need to help folks. Scared you mighta been but you still put yourself 'tween me an' Mal's gun."

"You what?" Simon looked from Riddick to Kaylee and back again, "When exactly was Mal getting ready to shoot you Rick?"

"That woulda been about the time we caught up to 'im an' he was ready to pass out from lack of air," Kaylee rolled her eyes. "Didn't wanna take Inara's shuttle 'cause it would be rude. How he could be half outa his mind an' still remember that is beyond me."

River came to lean against Riddick, her slender form warm against his side taking his scarred palm in her hands and pressing kisses to it. "Animal still knows right from wrong," She explained softly. "Still did not wish to harm or frighten his friends."

"Well Jayne an' me did what we could," Kaylee shook her head as Simon smeared a smelly salve over her cut and wrapped a bandage around it. "I sent Zoe up to the bridge an' kept Book company while Jayne helped Rick bust out but we was both nervous as hell Mal'd put Jayne out the airlock so we had ta be really quiet."

Simon shook his head, "How did you even get into the shuttle before Jayne?"

"Rick had locked the shuttle behind him, Cap'n needed me to get the doors unlocked," Kaylee smiled. "Jayne was right behind us, but if he'd made a move while Mal had his pistol out Jayne woulda got shot. Mal wasn't in too good a mood."

"I imagine not," Simon shook his head and patted Kaylee's hand before he moved over to examine Riddick's cut palm. "Rick, as Kaylee's older brother on the boat, I need to address something with you."

"All right," Riddick caught a whiff of amusement from River and wondered what the doctor was up to.

"You are older than Jayne though I consider you both her brothers now," Simon said quietly. "So it falls to you as to how you will allow me to make amends to your sister for the insult I dealt her on Jiangyin."

"You insulted my sister?" Riddick's voice was still mild but he couldn't help the growling undertone that vibrated through it at the thought of anyone giving insult to Kaylee. As he understood it, insult in Simon and River's world meant that Simon had said or done something extremely uncouth or rude to Kaylee, in some cases it could mean an unwanted physical act though he doubted Simon had gone that far. It wasn't something he would normally have thought of Simon but the doctor had been in a very bad mood when Mal had sent him off to town with River.

"I have no excuse," Simon nodded formally. "I was angry with the captain and made derogatory remarks about Serenity. As I am aware that insulting Serenity is tantamount to insulting Kaylee I apologized. But I wish to make formal amends. I hope you will give me leave to do so."

"But he already apologized," Kaylee shook her head looking at the two men. "He said it real pretty an' all."

River shook her head at Kaylee, "Asked that he be allowed to earn forgiveness." She reminded Kaylee, "You never asked Inara what he meant."

"Means he has to apply to the head of your family an' be allowed to make amends," Riddick explained quietly recalling his lessons in etiquette with River. "He ain't allowed to be over familiar with you until he's done so. That means that he must treat you with the utmost respect until he's given leave to relax his manners around you again. He insulted you, said hurtful things, because he was angry with someone else. That isn't the behavior of a gentleman."

"But I ain't a lady," Kaylee protested.

"Yes you are," Three different voices contradicted her in various tones and volumes and she blinked in shock.

"You are Kaylee," Riddick nodded. "An' Simon needs to treat you as such." He looked at Simon. "You'll remember that when you speak to her."

Simon nodded, his entire manner deferential, "Absolutely." He turned and bowed slightly to Kaylee and offered her a tiny smile before he turned back to Riddick, "Now let me see your hand."

River hummed to herself as she tapped away on the keyboard of her cortex and was aware of Wash's curious look, "If he has a question he should simply ask." She smiled as he took a seat beside her.

"All right, I'll bite," Wash's voice was humorous. "What are you doing?"

"Working," River's smile widened to a grin as she checked something on Serenity's cortex against the data on her own screen.

"But what on," Wash took a seat next to her, glancing curiously at the screen.

"Well," River tapped something else. "Searching for information, narrowing possibilities and formulating plans for a second story job whilst we are on Persephone."

"Uh, crime?" The pilot blinked at her, "Since when do you plan crime?"

"Must retrieve information," River murmured tilting her head. "Preliminary work is almost done, looking for building plans now. Will need to wave Badger and Shazza, she and Richard will need backup for the crime. Distraction will be necessary."

"Why go to Badger though," Wash's voice was a little hurt. "Why not ask us? We could help."

River smiled at him, "Know you would." She tried to reassure him, "But Cap'n doesn't believe she is capable of planning or executing a job. Cannot put crew in the position of being forced to disobey orders so they might help, or lie to the Captain."

"So how are you gonna work that with Rick?" Wash wanted to know, "Since he's you know, part of the crew that isn't supposed to suborn mutiny?"

"It's simple Wash," Riddick said easily as he entered the bridge carrying Ruby, "I ain't Mal's first. I belong to River. Just like she an' Simon belong to me."

"Like Jayne an' Kaylee now?" The pilot wondered, "And what is going on with Kaylee and Simon? I am sorely confused."

"Not hard to figure," River smiled at him as Riddick sat with Ruby in the navigator's chair and began to show the little girl letters on the cortex keyboard. "Jayne and Kaylee are blood bonded with Richard, siblings to my zhàng fu. Still belong to Mal but my Riddick considers them his to protect." She shrugged as her fingers danced over the keyboard conscious of Ruby's curiosity along with Wash's as she worked, "Still part of Mal's pack though. Problematic."

"Yeah, considerin' Mal's plans usually don't go so smooth," Riddick muttered his annoyance palpable.

"There is no Dana only Zul," River agreed slanting a grin at Wash who rolled his eyes.

"Yeah that was a prime example of how things go less smooth around here," The pilot agreed. "So what are you planning to steal with your job the rest of us can't help with?"

"Information," River said promptly. "Looking for someone and this place I intend to rob may have information regarding her whereabouts," She turned to look at Riddick soberly. "Can't say anything yet, no way of knowing if the intel will be any good. But it's a place to start. Have to do something."

"Yeah, know what you mean," Riddick agreed. River smiled happily, Ruby was pleased that her new friends could understand her, even Simon was very good at figuring out what she meant, and the rest of the crew, especially the big man Jayne seemed to enjoy having her around.

"Was thinking it would be a good idea to find some information on the cortex about sign language," River looked at Ruby, "So that you can speak to people without using your voice. Very smart girl, no reason not to communicate."

"Won't that be a little confusin' for anybody who don't speak it?" Wash pointed out with a half-smile already working the cortex for the information.

"Until we can get Ruby the tools she needs to speak to everyone around her, best to have at least a few she can talk to," Riddick said after a moment of his own work. "We can print off some things, teach Ruby, let her teach herself an' Shazza ain't stupid woman. She'll catch on pretty quick."

River nodded as she brought up an old text with illustrations, "Old ASL speech, still used because a better method was never found if hearing or speech could not be restored." She sent the information to the printer in their bunk and smiled slightly. "Can teach Ruby now," She announced after mentally flipping through the book once again. Setting the cortex to search for more information on the subject she turned and smiled at Ruby. "We'll start with the alphabet."

Dinner that night was interesting with everyone trying to learn sign. Mal laughingly declared a moratorium on language lessons lest someone lose an eye to an errant chopstick or knife. "Did want to talk to you an' Jayne, now that you're somewhat recovered," The captain looked at Rick and then at the larger gun hand. "The docs on the Magellan said whoever did the field surgery...probably saved Books life. Know that Zoe an' me coulda kept him stable but we couldn't do half a what you did. Hoped maybe you could enlighten alla us a bit on where and how you learned those skills."

Riddick leaned back in his chair and shrugged lazily. For once he wasn't concerned about hiding something, this wasn't to do with River or on planet or anything he needed to hide. Not talking about the war was more habit than anything else. "Learnt in the war," He said finally. "Told ya I joined when I's 'bout fourteen. Met Cobh 'bout a year later. Neither of us much more'n kids."

"Why'd you join up?" Zoe asked quietly looking at both of the men in question.

Riddick looked down at River and smiled slightly, "Well I joined up after I killed a man who'd raped a girl I knew. Orphans don't got many folk who'd look out for 'em, but this girl, couldn't a been more'n twenty, few years older than River or Kaylee here, she kept an eye on alla us street kids."

River took his hand in hers and squeezed his fingers gently, "Still not easy to speak of what was done to her." She told the captain, quietly. "A man, wealthy, powerful, took an interest, but she was young and didn't want an old man paying court to her, regardless of his riches. Just wanted to go her way."

"He didn't take to that," Riddick said heavily. "And I came into the store where she worked one night to find her under him, beggin', cryin' for him to stop." He swallowed and took a deep breath, River's scent of cinnamon and citrus, steel and blood and silk reassuring him that she was all right, this didn't bring back bad memories for her, only anger and pain at what his friend had suffered. "I grabbed a knife an' I found the sweet spot."

"Sweet spot?" Mal blinked in confusion.

Riddick shrugged, "The abdominal aorta." He explained quietly, "That's sorta the signature of Richard B. Riddick. That's how I'm known for killin' them as deserve it." He shook his head, "Part of why I was so partial to Mellie was she was always finding new books for me to read. Read anything I could get my hands on. One of 'em was a book on anatomy. 'S how I knew where to stab him."

"And you joined the Independents to hide from the law?" Zoe asked quietly. Riddick looked at she and Mal, neither of them were pleased by that little tidbit. He could smell displeasure on them both, anger over the use of their cause for personal gain.

"Well, at the time I figured the Independents were the furthest from self righteous rich hún dàns who would rape a girl because she don't like 'em," Riddick drawled mockingly. "An' seemed like Mellie woulda approved. I never got to ask her, she died of an infection because of the rape." He rubbed his fingers over River's palm, "And I for damn sure wasn't gonna join the Purplebellies. Figured I already knew how to kill, could see in the dark, I'd join up maybe we'd win eventually. Maybe what happened to Mellie wouldn't happen again."

"But it did," Jayne muttered angrily. "In our unit, before the Dà Chóngs, caught one of the soldiers trying to rape another one. Nice girl, liked to play banjo. Rick an' me, we caught the gǒu niáng yǎng de on top of her, trying to get her pants off. Had a helluva time keepin' Rick from killin' 'em."

"Yeah, that was the first time Jayne stood up to me," Riddick chuckled. "This big dumb actin' kid tellin' me we gotta take the guy to the lieutenant." He rolled his eyes at Jayne, "So we did, after helpin' the girl get herself in order, brought her with so it was three against one."

"Who was your lieutenant," Mal asked quietly.

"Paxton," Jayne sneered. "Sāo lǘ didn't do shit about it. So we ended up taking that pì yǎnr out to the lines and used him to figure out where the land mines were."

Riddick chuckled wickedly and saluted his old friend, "That was Jayne's idea. I was all for stringin' him up by his entrails."

"Messy," Zoe made a face and Wash wrinkled his nose.

"Yeah well I ain't ever minded blood," Riddick told her with a smirk.

"So how'd you end up in the Dà Chóngs," Mal steered them back to the original topic.

"Well Jayne an' me we didn't exactly bother to tell anyone where we were goin'," He concentrated on the feel of River's skin against his palms. "An' we didn't exactly alert the sentries that we'd left."

Jayne laughed, "We useta sneak outa the camp an' steal from the Alliance camps since they had better rations. Guess we did it once too often 'cause we got some attention from this Major."

"Yeah, Major Hiccocks," Riddick recalled with a sigh. "He was in charge of the Dà Chóngs when they were more overt... he recruited us so they'd be better at sneakin' around. Only rule was we couldn't leave any trace of who we were. Had to be clean."

"It wasn't a bad duty," Jayne remembered. "Always was plenty interesting and we ate good. Mostly 'cause we couldn't pass up stealin' anything."

"Yeah, drove Hiccocks nuts," Riddick laughed. "Didn't matter where we were, what he had us doin', me and Cobh managed to steal anythin' wasn't nailed down." He and Jayne shared an amused look before Riddick shrugged again, "Now an' then, we'd end up with someone hurt, an' it weren't like we had access to medical facilities. I studied up, much as I could, 'tween jobs or missions, what have you, learned what to do. Since me and Cobh were tight, he ended up actin' as field medic."

"Seems to me, your unit ended up in near 'bout every battle of the war," Mal recalled. "But Jayne you don't ever talk about it. Riddick, you neither."

"Well part a that's just…trainin'," Jayne seemed uncomfortable. "We weren't to let anyone know what unit we were out of. Dà Chóngs weren't top secret but brass figured better for no one to for sure know where we were, or if we even existed. We were gorram effective but we wouldn' a worked half so well if folks knew who we were."

"Got to be a running gag in the unit, you know 'I'd tell you but then I'd hafta kill you' sorta thing," Riddick added with a half smile. "That's why Jayne was sayin' he didn't wanna kill you when we were fixin' Book up."

"But why'd you never say anything to us Jayne?" Kaylee's pretty face was confused and a little hurt, "Everybody knows Cap'n's a war hero an' all but you never said nothin'."

"Hell Kaylee, never talked about the war at all," Jayne shifted in his chair and shook his head. "An' the way I came on the boat, knew no one'd ever believe a word that came outa my mouth. An' it weren't like there was a lotta good to talk about."

"Kaylee for some the war's a pretty…personal topic," Riddick added gently. His little sister was a good woman, but she hadn't seen a lot of ugliness in her life. That was something he didn't want changed and from the look on Jayne's face he agreed. "Especially for Cobh an' me. We ain't like Mal, didn't do a lotta straight up fightin', weren't what you'd call 'honorable' in how we made war."

"Saw near every field was fought," Jayne added, "But it weren't like anyone was to know we's there. Sabotage the Alliance field command at the Valley on Hera at the beginnin' of it an' stayed for a good long while makin' sure our guys had a decent chance but…" He shook his head and drifted into silence, his memories like Riddick's, of that bloody battle taking over his thoughts.

"They'd slip us in, let us wreak havoc, an' then pull us out again," Riddick explained quietly. "So we did a lotta killin' but…"

"But the Dà Chóngs were the ones who'd give us an edge, unit wasn't made for a stand up fight though rumors said they had some folk damn skilled at killin'," Mal said slowly. "But they were known for gettin' the job done, not for playin' nice."

"Weren't made up of nice men," Jayne's voice was quiet, subdued. "Me an' Rick, weren't more'n boys really, an' we's round men an' women lost family, lost everything to th' Alliance. Guess you could say them folks shaped us as much as any family we mighta had before the war."

"But you knew Zoe an' me were in the war an' you still didn't say anything," Mal persisted. "You saw just as much as we did, weren't nothing to be ashamed of."

"Mal," Wash's voice was quiet and sympathetic and Riddick was once again reminded of why he liked the quirky pilot so much. "Jayne's right. The way he came on the boat, everything out of his mouth was suspect for the first year," He pointed out. "And Jayne isn't exactly the loquacious type." Bright blue eyes were somber as they met Riddick's before regarding Jayne and then Mal again, "You're pretty hard line when you get going Mal. I mean, you tell Jayne at least once a week that you don't trust him. You were demanding answers Rick and River told you they wouldn't or couldn't give because you didn't trust them."

"Husband what are you sayin' exactly," Zoe's voice wasn't quite as neutral, a touch of worry in her tone.

"That its hard to come out and talk on something as hard as the war or Rick an' River's past, when people are sitting around being all judgy and superior," Wash shrugged. "Mal took Jayne for a merc and maybe that's accurate but if that's how you treat him that's all you'll get. Same with River an' Rick. And Simon to an extent. You have a habit of thinking a certain way about someone and it isn't easy to get you to budge from that."

"Jayne, that about right?" Zoe regarded the merc thoughtfully.

"I ain't educated like Rick," Jayne admitted. "Never said I was better'n a merc, an' how I got here, well ain't nothin' that leads to anybody thinkin' well a me. But I been here more'n a year an' never turned on ya'll. Not even when the Fed offered me 'nough to buy my own boat. An' that weren't just 'cause it woulda meant turnin' in Rick's woman."

"Why'n't ya ever talk to me Jayne?" Kaylee tilted her head a little hurt still, "Ya been a little, you know, crude but you ain't ever been mean to me."

"Aw Kaylee you're like this little kitten pounces on sunbeams," Jayne smiled at her affectionately. "Liked that about you. Didn' wanna mess that up with alla the ugly I carry 'round with me. I could just sit an' listen to ya bubble on 'bout Serenity an' people an' it felt like home, bein' round my sisters."

"I like that," Kaylee smiled at him. "I'm glad you felt good even if you did complain some 'bout me and my cheerfulness."

"Didn't wanna get too close," Jayne shrugged. "Didn't want you to get hurt. 'Course we get fugitives on the boat an' you get hurt anyway." He gave Simon, River and Riddick a mock glare.

River shook her head, tequila chasing through her scent and Riddick smiled, "The girl was in the box, not responsible for the foolishness of her menfolk." She declared with a grin.

"Oh now River, that's where you've got it wrong," Zoe intoned solemnly. "The woman is always responsible for the menfolk. We're the ones they look to for good sense. Don't make no nevermind if you were asleep. Just means you gotta fix their mess when you wake up."

Wash chuckled, "Yeah that sounds about right." He kissed his wife's cheek affectionately. "Of course all men are idiots really, its only us smarter ones that catch hold of a woman to keep us out of trouble."

"Hey!" Mal and Simon protested and then Mal realized Jayne hadn't objected to the sentiment. "Jayne you got something else you're not tellin' us?" The captain tilted his head, "Got a woman stashed away dirtside somewhere that you don't feel the need to disagree?"

Jayne sighed and shook his head, "We done talked 'bout the war already Mal. I'm all talked out for today." He rose from his chair and took his plate and cup to the cleaner before leaving the galley.

Riddick looked after his old friend, misery practically wafting off his skin as he headed towards his bunk and shook his head at Mal, "Don't ask him to talk about his woman." He advised quietly, "Me an' River know, but that's about all he can stand. Ain't a happy tale."

"She die?" Kaylee asked sorrowfully, instantly sympathetic.

"No," River shook her head. "Not kind to speak of her." She said firmly, "Not even well meant."

"How awful could it be?" Mal was trying to make a joke that fell sadly flat at the stoic mask of Riddick's face and the sorrow in River's eyes.

"He jests at scars that never felt a wound," Riddick said quietly. "C'mon Qīng Xiāng, let's get on to bed. More work tomorrow." He was conscious of curious eyes on his back but no one called for them to stay so he hoped Mal would let the topic lie.

Author's Note: Wow, sorry about the delayed posting folks. I've been having trouble with this, trying to give some background without giving too much away. I actually went away from this story for a while and worked on something totally different in the hopes of jumpstarting my brain. At least it seems to have worked (somewhat) and I got this edited and ready to post. I finished my major WIP and only have two chapters to edit before its done so that will free up some time.

What do we think? Now that we've heard some of Jayne and Riddick's history together? I thought about having them grow up together (Fun With Rick and Jayne would have been great!) but ultimately decided to go this way instead.

I also really wanted to show that Riddick values highly instances of loyalty, appreciates that someone like Kaylee would put herself on the line in order to help him. I haven't worked out the details in my head yet but Jayne and he have a similar bond due to something similar. We might go into that in a later chapter.

Chinese Translations:

Bǎo bǎo - darling/baby

tiān shǐ - angel

diǎo - cock

mèi mei - little sister

zhèng rén jūn zi - man of honor

Jié bài - to become sworn brothers or sisters

gē ge - big brother

zhàng fu - husband

hún dàns - bastards

gǒu niáng yǎng de - son of a bitch

Sāo lǘ - jackass

pì yǎnr - asshole

Qīng Xiāng - Sweet Scent

Quote Sources:

There is no Dana only Zul – Ghostbusters (LOL again)

He jests at scars that never felt a wound – Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare