1. What Going Mad Feels Like
“Simon, I have very important news for you.”
“Yes, mei mei, what is it?” Simon paused in mid inventory.
“I have a fetus gestating in my womb.” She tilted her head to the side. “You’re going to be an uncle.”
Reeling, Simon fell back against the counter. He gaped at River who looked back at him calmly.
“Wh- Are you sure? Does Jayne know?”
“He knows.” River folded her arms. “I’ll be needing pre-natal vitamins.”
“Of course. Uh,” Simon did his best to pull himself together. “So, when are the two of you getting married?”
River’s face continued to look calm, betraying no emotion. “I haven’t said anything about nuptials. I need vitamins, not a husband.”
“Did something happen?” Simon demanded. “Did he say something??”
She dropped her gaze to the floor. “Just order my vitamins, all right?”
“River, that child is going to need a father, you can’t-”
“Zoe’s raising little Hoban on her own,” River interrupted. “If she can do it, so can I.”
“But she doesn’t have a ch-”
River spun on her heel and left the infirmary.
Simon leaned against the counter with his head in his hands. He’d been hoping for the day River would see the light about Jayne but now that it was here, it brought him no joy at all.
2. The Lesser of Two Evils
Simon sat at the bar, gingerly sipping at his drink. The captain, Zoe, and Jayne were at a nearby table working out the details for their next job. Idly, he wondered when Kaylee and River would return from the bathroom and why exactly it was that girls felt the need to go in herds.
A pair of rowdies elbowed up to the bar just beside him. They smelled foul and Simon was forced to breathe through his mouth.
“Barkeep! Two more sakes!” One of the men bellowed, then elbowed his comrade. “Didja see that purty li’l dark-headed girl earlier?”
“You know, the one in the blue dress and them big boots.”
“Oh, yeah. Her. What about ‘er?”
The bartender brought their drinks and the particularly foul one continued. “By the end of tonight, I’ma get me some o’ that.”
“What if she don’t wan’ it?”
The foul creature grinned, all sleaze. “When’s zat ever stopped me?”
They both laughed raucously and slapped each other on the back.
Simon thought fast. He knew River could defend herself with no difficulty but he'd rather she didn't get put in that position to begin with.
“We’re back!” Kaylee trilled. She and River were coming his way. The would-be rapists exchanged ugly smiles.
“River!” Simon exclaimed. “Jayne’s been looking all over for you!”
Kaylee and River both looked at him like he was insane.
“Jayne Cobb?” Kaylee asked tentatively.
“How many men do we know named Jayne?” Simon asked and grabbed River’s arm. He raised his voice even louder. “You know that a man like him protects what’s his with his life. He wouldn’t want you wandering around by yourself in a place like this!”
River frowned. “Kaylee was with-”
“Yes, yes!” Simon tugged her along to the captain’s table and hip-checked River so suddenly that she stumbled and fell over into the unsuspecting Jayne’s lap.
“Ruttin’ hell!” Jayne bellowed, jumping. “What the-”
“Exactly!” Simon agreed, knowing he was acting a little over the top, but their group still had the monsters' attention. Another big scary mercenary in the picture was the only deterrent for men like them. “Where’s she been all this time, right?”
Mal and Zoe stared at him. “Doc, are you-”
“I’m fine! Especially since I’ve given you two my blessing!”
Jayne’s brow furrowed and he tilted his head to look River in the face. “Do you know what the hell he’s talkin’ about?”
“Not at all,” River told him and started to stand up.
“No, no! Not on my account! You two should be as affectionate as you like with one another.” Simon grinned when he looked to the bar and saw the disappointed looks on the filth’s faces. “My sister’s pretty, isn’t she?”
Jayne scratched his cheek, still trying to figure this out. “Well, yeah, but-”
River looked at him in surprise. “You think I’m pretty?”
“Ain’t a matter o’ thinkin’ it. I know yer pretty.”
She smiled at him shyly and he sort of grinned sheepishly.
Simon watched the revolting excuses for humanity leave the bar and almost explained his odd behavior to the others.
But when he saw the way River and Jayne were looking at each other as if the for the first time, and the protective hand Jayne had on her back, he thought better of it.
3. But You Don’t See Me
River started buying new clothes with her pay. Long gone were the flowy little girl dresses. Her wardrobe was becoming more adult, almost sensual. She went with Inara to get her hair done and would return with loose curls around her shoulders and packages of cosmetics.
Simon always knew his sister was beautiful, but now she was nothing short of stunning. So it killed him at night when he was working late in the infirmary to hear her muffled sobs from her closed bedroom door.
He always hoped that the next day would be the one Jayne would open his eyes and see her.
4. Your Ex-Lover is Dead
When the client decided to duck out of paying, he pulled his gun and before anyone knew it, their pilot had a new hole in the middle of his forehead.
“Oh my god, they killed Kenny!” Kaylee screamed.
Mal drew his own gun and hit his target perfect. “You hundan.”
Simon knelt down by their fallen friend and checked his pulse, feeling slightly ridiculous. It was obvious that the boy was gone.
“No,” River whimpered and dropped down next to her lover, taking his hand. “No.”
“I’m sorry, River,” Simon whispered.
Sobs wracked River’s slender body and Jayne came up behind her, sliding a comforting arm around her shoulders. She turned her face into his chest, letting Kenny’s fingers slip through hers.
Watching the two of them, Simon hoped Jayne could do her good, help her through what was sure to be a trying time.
He reached out and closed Kenny’s eyes.
5. Some Clever Forgery
River and Jayne were avoiding each other and no one knew why their relationship had disintegrated so utterly. It got so that it was painful for everyone to be in the same room with them for meals. As a result, neither of them ate much before leaving the table.
This was especially bad for River since she was supposed to be eating for two.
Finally, Simon took it upon himself to remedy the situation. Armed with pen, paper, and a draft of a letter Jayne had started to write home but threw away, Simon went to work.
It was a note in River’s handwriting.
I miss you terribly. Meet me in the cargo bay in five minutes.
His heart pounded and he stared at his watch, waiting anxiously for five minutes to pass.
It was a note in Jayne’s writing.
I miss ya. Meet me in the bay in 5 mins.
She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, hardly daring to hope, and silently counted down five minutes.
“Do you miss me, really?” River asked without preamble.
“Do ya miss me?” Jayne asked back.
Two weeks ago this would’ve sparked an argument, but River looked too tired for that. Eyes welling up with tears, she nodded.
Jayne released the breath he’d been holding. “I miss ya, too. What’re we doin’, baby girl?”
She sniffled and Jayne folded her into a warm embrace.
“I’m marryin’ ya ‘n takin care o’ ya, ‘n I ain’t ever lettin’ ya go,” Jayne said fiercely.
“Don’t,” River croaked. “Don’t ever let me go.”
Satisfied, Simon slipped away to give them privacy. He felt elated, knowing his sister was happy and that his little niece or nephew would grow up in a loving environment. If it took having Jayne as a brother-in-law to get those things, then so be it.
It was worth it.