Jayne had never been one for words. He didn’t speak very fancy, and he wasn’t good with reading or writing. He’d quit school early to help his Ma and Pa with money and raising the little ones. He knew he was uneducated, but he wanted to get better, which was how he’d ended up here.
“Girl, move a little slower, you know I’m dumb.” Jayne said, wondering how he’d thought asking her for help was a good idea. She was too smart for him, he should have asked Kaylee, or Zoë, weren’t either of them dumb. Damn Crazy was going too fast, all excited to be teaching someone something, he couldn’t keep up.
“He is not dumb; this is just new to him is all. Not his fault he could not finish school.”
“Yeah well, you’re still going too fast for me to keep up,” he said, looking over her shoulder at a letter he’d written to his Ma, which River was correcting to make it sound better.
Jayne had never really written to his Ma, except to send her money, and it made him feel like a bad son. After what had happened on Miranda, he wanted to check in with him family more, but felt like an idiot every time he tried to write a letter, and every time he tried to read a letter, knowing he wan an illiterate fool.
River leaned over and kissed his forehead. “You worry too much,” she told him, getting up and taking the letter over to where she had some notebooks and envelopes. They’d be stopping by Dyton soon to meet with Badger, and there they could send out post.
Jayne let out a grunting noise, trying to pretend he hadn’t really liked her little show of affection. In fact, part of the reason he was getting so worked up because he was afraid she really did think he was a stupid fool.
Ever since he’d found out what they’d been doing to her in that Academy, Jayne had felt a slight softening to her, which had turned into a fondness, not that he’d ever show it to anyone else in the crew. After the bar fight in Maidenhead, Jayne had realized how cute and sexy she was at the same time. Sure, he’d noticed she was a girl and all, kind of hard not to when she’d came out of that box naked, but he’d never really thought of her like that before then. Ever since, he’d been having all kinds of un-nerving dreams, all staring her. What was un-nerving was that they didn’t all involve sex, which to Jayne was very, very unusual.
He knew she hadn’t been trying to read them lately, but part of him wondered how much she knew about his new-found affection for her. He knew that she would never return it. She was too good for him; a genius, core-breed, and from a rich family. Jayne was none of those things. He wasn’t very smart, was mean as hell, and as nice as his family was, they were just normal, country folk.
River glanced over her shoulder. She could feel him staring, something she’d caught him doing a lot lately. She had been trying not to read them, but even a blind person could figure out what those looks meant. She wasn’t stupid, she knew. The problem was that she was afraid he just found her attractive and that was where it ended. River Tam was not one who was willingly going to get her heart-broken.
She cared about Jayne, which probably really did make her crazy. But she saw something in him. She knew he was human, he felt guilt, remorse, and sadness for all the things he’d done, but he was just too stubborn to show it. He was willing to protect any of them to any cost, his way of showing he cared. And he understood her, more than anything.
That’s how their friendship had really started. She’d come to him, needing someone to talk to about her feelings with and he hadn’t turned her away. Everyone else, they were afraid of what she was, an assassin, but Jayne, he accepted her for it, and didn’t want her to change. That was their binding point; they were both killers, and now they had someone to understand them.
She gave him a smile. “You’re staring.” She said, sticking her own letter to Jayne’s mom in the envelope before going over to him and handing him his so he could re-write in the proper way. She found it adorable how he was working so hard just for his mother, another thing in him she saw that no one else did.
“Was just thinkin’ is all,” he defended, looking down at his letter, grabbing a pen and beginning to re-write it slowly, looking up at her briefly as she went back over to her pilot’s chair.
“Well, don’t think so hard,” she teased, checking on the auto-pilot and looking out to make sure all was still clear.
“Why, will you hear me if I do?” He teased back.
“No, only if it’s too loud. Like Kaylee sometimes when she and Simon are-“
“Gorramit girl! I don’t want to hear none of that about Kaylee and the brother of yours!” He cried. He’d had a crush on Kaylee once, then Inara, both of which had turned into him being protective of both. Inara was his friend, and Kaylee was like a sister to him, one of the many reasons why he couldn’t stand the Doc.
Now River… this wasn’t no crush he had. No crush he’d ever had had felt like this. He hated thinking romaticy thoughts, but he got nervous when she was around, especially when she laughed. She was the most beautiful when she laughed; it was like nothing had ever happened to her. She was an innocent little doll without a care in the war. It mad Jayne angry to think of all the things she’d been through.
Her laugh also made her eyes sparkle. Not that Jayne notice… much. She just looked happy, something all of them needed to feel more of.
But when that girl got mad, gorramit if he didn’t want to throw her down and have his way with her. She got a fierce, mean look, almost like she really would kill someone with her thoughts. That got Jayne hot. Power was something he was attracted too; physical, emotional, mental power, not social. All those stuffy-nosed rich people with their pretend power did not interest Jayne.
No, what interested him was the power he knew was wrapped up in that tiny little girl. She could take him on, which was something most couldn’t; that was hotter ‘n hell to him. Now only if he thought he had a chance with her…
River was a deep shade of read at the moment. She could sense Jayne’s desire; he was looking at her like that again. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could take it before she acted on her feelings for the Mercenary.
Jayne… he was just like her; powerful, deadly, an outcast. He radiated such a sexual prowess when he was angry, or after a kill; River couldn’t help but be attracted to it. And, he treated her as an equal; he didn’t look down on her like she was a child, or cower in fear at what she was. He accepted her for who she was, and she loved him for that.
River closed her eyes, about to give in and listen to his thoughts, even though it would get her in trouble.
“Here, done.” Jayne said, snapping her out of it. He’d caught himself thinking like that, and had stopped, knowing he was risking her finding out, and Jayne Cobb was not one for humiliation; he couldn’t deal with risking being turned down.
River took in a deep breath. “Good… I’ll put it in with mine,” she said, her hand brushing his as she took the letter, trying not to blush. River had taken to writing Jayne’s mother as well, as a kindness towards the woman. Even though they had never met, River felt a deeper connection with her than her own mother. She longed for what Jayne had with his mother, someone who loved you unconditionally. Regan Tam was not that kind of mother; most high society mothers were not, it was the job of the nanny to raise their children.
“We should be landing soon, mind telling the rest of the crew?” River asked Jayne, getting back in the pilot’s chair, taking the ship off of auto-pilot.
“Will do Crazy,” he replied, calling her that as a joke between them, a reminder of their past.
Three hours later, River sat playing with the hat that Mrs. Cobb had sent her, very amused by the bright pink and purple colors she had chosen, very touched by the gift.
Jayne sat, staring at his letter, holding a small box his Ma had sent him, his ears pink.
“What is it Hero of Canton?” River teased, plopping herself in his lap and taking his letter, another sign of their new found friendship that the rest of the crew found strange. She read over the letter, getting up to run from Jayne as he chased her to get away. She stopped suddenly, getting to the end.
Now Jayne, as your mother, I know exactly what runs through that little head of yours, I ain’t dumb. You are about that little girl, and if you don’t do something about it soon, I will tell her. And if you hurt a hair on her little head, I will wallop you when I see you.
I’ve sent you grandma’s ring in the event that one day you wake up.
River let Jayne take the letter, a bit surprised. His mother was a bit forward, but she had to be mistaken; this was Jayne Cobb they were talking about. He didn’t care about her like that. Besides, even if he did, she was pushing it there with the marriage bit.
She turned to Jayne, who looked more embarrassed than she’d ever seen him in her life, and that’s when she knew. Jayne loved her, in the way Jayne could love anyone; stubbornly, possessively, and fearfully. It would take him a long while to admit it, but she could wait. They had nothing but time out here in the black.
River smiled, already looking forward to all the things she’d do to try and get it out of him. This was going to be fun.
She skipped over to him, kissing his cheek. “So you know, my finger is a half a size smaller. And you should stop being stubborn soon, the girl would like a real kiss one day,” she said, before moving away towards the ship, where Simon was arguing with Kaylee about which fruit was better, strawberries, or mandarins.
“Strawberries, they are sweeter, and more romantic.” River interupted happily.
“See, I tol’ ya.” Kaylee said with her winning smile. “Hey… what’s wrong with Jayne?” She asked, seeing the still stunned look he had on his face as he made his way towards Serenity.
“Oh nothing, he got a letter from home is all,” River said happily, bounding towards her bunk to make herself look pretty, she was planning on beginning her plan to seduce Jayne Cobb, and she while she knew it would take three months, sixteen days, seventeen minutes, and four seconds to work, she was going to have fun trying anyway.