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I could kill you with my brain. A love story.

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River ghosted her way past the tired mercenary, a whisper in his ear “You look better in red.” as they walked into the morning briefing. The smile on her face as she entered the mess was beautiful, her brother greeting her with open arms. “Did you sleep well meimei ?” Nodding her head River silently giggled, her plan to get inside Jayne’s bunk was almost ready to bear fruit. Of course the girl could always pick the rudimentary lock he had installed when last he thought she had broken in, but that wouldn’t be anywhere near as much fun as this. Besides, good girls got permission, and River was trying ever so hard to be a good girl.

Jayne looked a good 20 years older than his indeterminate age that morning. Grumpy and grumbling about ghosts in the works, or rats in the pipes as he made himself a mug of strong coffee straddling a chair at the end of the table he glared at everyone. “What y’all lookin’ at? Ain’t never seen a man drinkin’ coffee before?” Before he could slam the mug on the table, River’s hands darted out and slipped the mug away, sniffing and grimacing at the foul brew. “More like twice used sump oil and mudders milk mixed with water. But I guess it makes you bearable, even if it rots your insides out and eats your teeth from in your head.” She smiled sweetly and extra brightly at him, slyly exchanging the mug for one filled with mudders milk.

“Tastes worse ‘en Mudders Milk, and got less goodness in it girl, but it does make you bearable I guess.” The easy banter suggested to Mal that Jayne was more or less still in his cups that morning. Their last drop off at Canton had gone slightly better than planned and a case of Mudders milk had somehow made it onto the ship despite Mal’s dire predictions if it did. After detailing their next job Mal called River up to the bridge while he plotted a course for Athos.

“Little Albatross, I don’t know what game you are playing, but I want you to be careful now. We are down some in crew and even more so in credits, this job needs to go smooth sailing you hear?” River tucked her feet up under herself and flipped a few switches. “shìde bàba, smooth as it ever does.” As they took off leaving the planet to fall behind them in the distance River made her way back into the ducting above Jayne’s bunk and waited.

***
“She called you Daddy? Are you sure you aren’t hungover Captain?” Simon asked Mal incredulously.
“I’m telling you Doc, she said shìde bàba when I talked to her ‘bout whatever the hells it is she is doin’ to Jayne. You gotta do something about her, or I can’t well take you an’ her back on-board after this one.”

Simon looked concerned at the Captain, could he and River possibly be safe now? Would they be able to make a life on a planet and grow old like regular people? Somehow Simon doubted it very much. Regardless of what may have happened, The Alliance would never truly stop wanting River under their thumb.
“I can’t promise anything, but I will talk to her Mal, she is finally starting to come back out of her shell. Even if she is still fragile its progress.”

***
Athos had an air to it, put on and dolled up, there were times and places that you could still see the cracks in the veneer. And when you put your ear to a crack, you never know what little tidbit of information you might hear. And that’s why they were here. Information had a price and the gentleman they had come to collect was worth a large number of shiny platinum if he was given over safely into the correct hands. The shuttle was stripped to a bare minimum for utility and with only three available seats Mal considered his choice of second wisely. The usual automatic choice was off the table as Zoe was still in mourning so Jayne was the next best thing.

“Your half gorram drunk Jayne, what the heck you got into your head? You know we need this job more than you need to drink whatever is left of that foul hick brew. You are being a total backberth! Get to your bunk and sober up!” Grabbing Jayne by the arm, River propelled her brother forwards, slipping a trank stinger in his pocket, “Go help, Big Brother, you can do it.” Kissing him on the cheek as she guided Jayne towards his bunk with a sly grin.

Staring at each other dumbfounded, the Captain and the Doctor both shrugged and turned to enter the shuttle. “She kills him, it’s on your head Doc.” Said Mal. “I know” groaned the doctor “I know.”

***
Standing at the hatchway to Jayne’s berth, River’s mouth went dry. It was finally going to happen, he was going to ask her in. How could he not? He could barely stand upright, his hulking figure slouched against her. Grunting at her outstretched hand he dropped the single key into her palm and she slid it into the lock, twisting it to pop the latches she let it drop to the floor. For the state he was in Jayne made light work of swinging the hatch open and spinning her into the room.

“I caught ya! You been tryin’a sneak in here for weeks, and I finally got ya!” Jayne straightened to his full height and seemed to snap to sobriety straight away. River however was prepared, she stepped to the side and using her momentum from his spin, glided up beside him. “You don’t got me. I got you!” She exclaimed breathily, nipping his earlobe. He turned, but not quickly enough, as she ducked his reaching arms and lightly climbed the bunk to throw herself on him.

Catching her awkwardly and stumbling backwards, Jayne was shocked at just how light she was. “Like a…” he started,
“…Little feather” she finished as she locked her legs around his waist, arms snaking around his neck in a choke hold. “Deadly. little. feather” he choked out as his eyes blurred and he stumbled forwards towards his bunk.

***
Catching both their weight on her dismount, River gently dropped the unconscious body of the Mercenary onto his bunk. Undid and removed his boots and loosened his belt and shirt. Tucking a blanket around him River tutted to herself. Maybe she was wrong when she read those people. Maybe she needed to do something other than get him drunk and take him to bed. Because this didn’t look like what she wanted it to be. River left the sleeping man, but not before kissing his forehead and whispering in his ear “I could kill you with my brain, but I would like it if you loved me instead.”

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“You look better in red.” She said, dropping from the catwalk to the cargo bay floor scaring the Mercenary with her stealthy approach as he secured the latest cargo in its nets.
Looking down at the dusty, well-worn T-shirt Jayne recalled the first time she had said that about him “You ain’t got no knife there have ya Moonbrain? ‘Cause you go slashing me again we gonna have some serious Lā shǐ to deal with.”

Smiling up at him River held both hands out, palms up. “No knives, No guns. I could do it with Math but the numbers all say no. Grenades are too messy and The Captain doesn’t like it if I make a mess in here” she said, trailing her fingertips delicately over his chest and shoulder before scraping her nails down his spine. Jayne couldn’t help but shiver. The crazy little reader was either trying to kill him, or be his friend and he didn’t know which was scarier.

Her laughter tinkled like wind chimes in a breeze, as she disappeared back into the shadows of the cargo bay. “Girl, you don’t know what you’re messin’ with. Jus’ ‘cause Mal likes you Moonbrain, don’t mean I got to put up with your Fēngkuáng de pìgu shenanigans.”

***

Grunting into his bowl, Jayne watched the girl out of the corner of his eye. Smiling and whispering with Kaylee at the end of the table he felt no more at ease than he had in the last several weeks. “She ain’t right in the head Mal. A man likes to know where he stands with the womenfolk and she just ain’t playin’ fair. One minute she’s all serious an’ ‘bout ready to gorram kill, the next she is all over me like a rash on a Liǎng měiyuán jìnǚ.”

Mal glared at Jayne and cut in “Doc, I thought you were going to talk to your sister about that.” Choking down a mouthful of Dòubāo Simon grimaced. “I did Captain. She assured me that the empirical evidence constituted reason to discontinue her current course and seek further information before continuing her amended course. I have no idea what she means by that, but I think she is going to leave Jayne alone from now on.” Grimacing over his bowl the doctor hoped that that is what she meant, because if she didn’t leave him alone, who knows what Jayne may end up doing to her.

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Grunting into his bowl, Jayne watched the girl out of the corner of his eye. Smiling and whispering with Kaylee at the end of the table he felt no more at ease than he had in the last several weeks. “She ain’t right in the head Mal. A man likes to know where he stands with the womenfolk and she just ain’t playin’ fair. One minute she’s all serious an’ ‘bout ready to gorram kill, the next she is all over me like a rash on a Liǎng měiyuán jìnǚ.”

Mal glared at Jayne and cut in “Doc, I thought you were going to talk to your sister about that.” Choking down a mouthful of Dòubāo Simon grimaced. “I did Captain. She assured me that the empirical evidence constituted reason to discontinue her current course of action and seek further information before continuing on her amended course. I have no idea what she means by that, but I think she is going to leave Jayne alone from now on.” Grimacing over his bowl the doctor hoped that that is what she meant, because if she didn’t leave him alone, who knows what Jayne may end up doing to her.

River peeked at the mercenary from beneath her lashes. A smile flitting across her mouth at she giggled at Kaylee’s latest revelation of pre-nuptual intimacy. ”How do I Zhèngmíng wǒ de ài?” River whispered under her breath. “Ràng wǒ lái jìsuàn yīxià” River thought of the long nights she had spent in the ducting above and below Jayne’s berth, listening to him snore like a freight train, sometimes mumbling a word or two in his dreams.

She then considered her ill-fated attempt to get him drunk and get him into bed. She couldn’t rationalize how inebriating him would lead to him accepting her proposal of ethically non-monogamous sexual congress, even though his inhibitions had been lowered, she doubted that the level of conscious consent to her advances was sufficient to assuage her guilt in tricking him.

Her next attempt was to “treat him mean, keep him keen” as she had heard someone say. Her plan for later that night would be spectacular if it succeeded, and a horror show if she failed. The way it showed in the holovids, the girl had to be sweet and attentive, then cold and brusque in turn, She should make him aware of her sexuality and then deny him the honour of being with her. According to the holovids, this never failed to work.

Several days later, as they were touching down at the Eavesdown Docks Jayne was itching to get away from the ship. So much so that he had left his guns behind. River noticed the discrepancy straight away, and strapping two of Jayne’s finest pistols to her slender waist, and pocketing assorted ammunition, grenades and his favourite knife, River went in search of him. Wandering about the docks was a hazardous business at the best of times, but with a bounty on your head, one could never afford to be too careful.

Slipping a wide brimmed straw hat onto her head, River tucked her thick dark hair up under it. Not too long after a pair of oversized welders goggles were added to the ensemble. Hearing some music floating down from above her head, she thought she recognized a voice in the crowd. The tough masculine laugh of Jayne Cobb was hard to miss, Particularly with his lusty singing of bawdy songs filtering through it.

“Get him drunk and get him in bed, I don’t think so!” she muttered under her breath as she entered the establishment that guaranteed GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS for FUN FUN FUN. Weaving her way around drunken dock workers, assorted muscle from different ships and the half naked GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS River located Jayne in a back booth, head hunched over a large mug of some filthy looking brew. Sidestepping an errant hand River watched as Jayne downed the mug and called for the jug. Two Dījí zuìjiǔ jìnǚ hung off his well-muscled bicep as he displayed his masculinity for anyone who cared to see. Squaring her shoulders River marched right up to the mercenary and grabbing his face between her palms , kissed him long and deep.

Right. On. The. Mouth.

And then she punched him square in the jaw, snapping his head around like a bobble head doll. Jayne sank to the floor, head buzzing and eyes crossed before passing out at her feet.

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“You stupid Yīgè dīdì ài'ěrlán fùnǚ de érzi” River muttered to herself as she dragged Jayne’s unconscious body from the brothel to the docks, flagging down a pedal carrier she slumped his body in the back and climbed over him to give the driver instructions. “Good coin if you get me there before he wakes up. Shiny bonus for me if I get him back to his ship before it takes off.” She grinned at the driver.

Making their way through the evening traffic was precarious, particularly with her flashing so many guns on her belt. River felt like there was something seriously wrong with Jayne. Why couldn’t he understand that he was supposed to sweep her off her feet and carry her over the threshold? Why was SHE doing all the heavy lifting in this relationship?
As the pedal carrier slowed to a halt in front of Serenity’s open cargo hatch, hauling Jayne’s still unconscious body to the ramp River flipped the pedal carrier a shiny platinum chip. “Got him here in one piece, the boss will be pleased with me- you keep the change now you hear?” Grunting she hauled his deadweight up and over the threshold, River readjusted the guns at her waist before kicking the mercenary, “Wakey wakey hands off snakey!” grinning back at the pedal carrier as he moved on.

Kneeling by his side River pressed her fingers to his throat to check he was still alive, feeling a steady rhythm beating in his veins she covered his face with a burlap sack and took his guns back to his berth. Racking the guns River noticed that Jayne may outwardly be a slob, but there was always order and refinement in his weapons cache. Pistols arranged from highest to lowest calibre, rifles by gauge. His knives were polished and shining on the magnetic strips in the drawer under his bunk, River lovingly caressed Vera, knowing she was Jayne’s favourite.
***
The wave caught Inara off guard, worried that something had happened to her dear mei mei she flicked the view screen on. She could see River’s tense face right up close in the viewer. “River, Mei Mei, whats wrong? Has something happened to Mal? To Serenity?” the gush of words caught both women off balance. Sitting back a little in the pilots chair River shook her head with distaste.

“No,” her face wavered and clouded a little “Kaylee and Simon are being Luōmì'ōu yǔ zhūlìyè in the engine room, Zoe is out and Mal is doing Captainy things in his berth.” Biting her lip River leaned forwards to confide in her friend. “Inara, I need you to train me.”

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Inara couldn’t contain the shock and surprise at River’s request. This girl could read minds, kill monsters with math, save the entire crew without even blinking her eyes, but she couldn’t tell a boy she liked him? Inara sat back perplexed, considering the proposition carefully before formulating an answer. “Mei mei, I can’t train you to be like me, it’s simply forbidden within the Guild to do so. What I can do for you is to teach you the signals and signs to look for to see if your proposed beau is interested, I can show you the way to romance and carefully tend his affections. But River, I can’t teach you how to make someone fall in love with you, unless they already love you, in which case, I can show you…” Inara drifted off, a strange feeling creeping along her spine.

In less than a day Inara packed her most treasured possessions into a cargo crate bound for the docks and sat waiting in an open air Earth-That-Was garden sanctuary. As River approached the companion she could feel the eyes following her, tracing her form with varying shades of lust and disintrest. The garden was popular with many of the young men of Shinnon, as they could parade their well-paid escorts with security before disappearing to their waiting transports. The soft grass, lush and real between her toes was manicured and pampered as the companions and dandies surrounding her.

“River, it’s been too long mei mei.” Exclaimed Inara with genuine warmth and assurance “You should have contacted me sooner, I could have…” Inara stopped speaking as River embraced her, the girls arms snaking around to clutch at her like a drowning man grasping for an outstretched branch. Folding the girl into her arms and stroking her hair to soothe her, Inara never felt more like a big sister as she did right now in this moment. Pulling back just far enough to catch her eye, River whispered “He is such an Unk tóu zhū Inara, but he makes me feel Ānquán hé miǎnfèi” Linking arms with the young woman, they both turned and made their way from the garden to the exit for the transports.

On board the ship Inara settled into a private berth, prepared for her by River with help from Kaylee. That much was apparent from the chains of daisies painted around the door frame. Looking around she sighed, what had River gotten herself into? How do you approach the subject of love and sex with a mastermind genius teen who is still learning what it is to be herself? Men were known to use many tactics to garner a greater interest from the feminine gender, but what kind of man would finally be good enough for her mind reading friend? Would ANYONE ever bee good enough?

“You could start with his name…” a small voice from the darker corner of the berth stated. Turning abruptly Inara saw River as she snaked her way through the lower air vent. “Making sure nobody knows you are really here for me. Simon still thinks of me as his kid sister, Kaylee thinks I’m some precious flower to be admired but not loved in that way. If they found out, I don’t know what would happen.” Patting the bed beside her Inara breathed a deep, calming breath. “Let me brush your hair mei mei, and you can tell me all about your beau.”

The brush sailed through River’s dark hair, like a ship gliding through the black, each stroke followed by the tender caress of Inra’s hand. Stilted at first, River began describing her newfound love. She described his face, his stubbled jaw and tawny eyes, the smirk on his lips when he thought he had the better of someone. She described his body in great detail, recalling every scar- including those she had inflicted on him. River smiled sadly when she mentioned he looks best in red. River relaxed into the bed as she described the way he made everyone think he was stupid, although he had his own kind of wisdom and grace.

“So mei mei, he is your Zuànshí zài cūcāo, and you want to make him shine?” asked Inara gently. Rolling onto her back and looking up at the companion River smiled a catlike grin and replied dreamily “Jayne deserves love too, don’t you think?”

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Sipping tea in the mess Inara smiled around the table at her friends. Kaylee and Simon’s entwined fingers matched the steady thrum of peace that exuded from them, Zoe’s mournful smile, a shadow of her former self, but healing and grieving take time, she reminded herself. Mal, ever the patriarch of this little family was leaning, hip to the side of the door frame, arms crossed over his chest, a lazy grin on his lips.

“We wont wait on Jayne or River, I have matters of some delicacy to discuss with you all.” Inara began, Looking from Simon to Mal and back again. “I know that you all have your own lives and hardships to deal with, but this matter is very dear to all our hearts. River’s happiness is at stake, and I for one do not intend for her to fall afoul of the Goddess of Love.”

Waiting for the initial shock to register on each of their faces Inara paused in contemplative silence. “Yesterday River and I spoke at length about her current mental state, her physical state and her emotional needs and desires. She has had feelings for someone for some time now, and I am not referring to a simple crush.”

Watching as Simon’s face drained of colour,and Kaylee’s bloomed with roses Inara nodded thoughtfully. “I know that each of you has his or her own feelings on the possibility of River having a normal, safe and healthy relationship, but I am here to tell you to stop. River is growing and blooming. She is a normal teenage girl, ready to fall in love and to have certain desires.”

Inara shifted her weight forward, sipping her tea she continued “Think back to your own teen years, the angst and the longing. River is dealing quite well with this all without any interference from any of you. In fact, I doubt that anyone even knew she was dealing with this, that’s why she called ME. Because the assistance she required had to come from someone able to see her as something other than a little sister or child to be protected.”

Placing a hand over Simon and Kaylee’s entwined hands, Inara looked searchingly into Simon’s eyes. “Your sister is not just a broken little girl. She is flowering into beautiful young lady, she is so much stronger than you know Simon.” Turning to Kaylee, Inara smiled “Kaylee, she wanted you to know that having you and Simon together is a part of her dream come true. She was never happy knowing that Simon was holding back. Now that he isn’t, she can begin to put things in place so she never has to be a burden again. She loves you both dearly, but she doesn’t want to ruin your Cóngcǐ yǐhòu kuàilè dì shēnghuózhe.”

Stoic faced Zoe laughed hauntingly under her breath. “I get it.” She said, placing both her palms on the table and smiling a tiny wan smile. “River didn’t want to see me hurt by her pursuit of happiness, so she didn’t come to me. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own head I never could have given her what she needed. Thank you Inara, for being the one to put our girl first.” Shaking her head Zoe stood slowly and walked towards the bridge. “When she wants to talk, she knows where to find me.”

“So you’re telling me…” Mal began and then stopped suddenly, his eyes opening wide and a grin spreading across his face. “You mean THAT’S what was happening? She was… with…” Stopping and starting his thoughts Mal gaped like a fish out of water before doubling over laughing. “Doc, I must say, your sister sure picked a good one to try and be her first conquest. I don’t doubt for a minute she will get what she wants. We best all be ready when she does!” Laughing hard enough to bust a gut Mal staggered out of the mess towards his berth, bumping into the walls as he left.

Simon looked from Kaylee to Inara and back again. “I don’t understand, River wants a boyfriend? Why didn’t she say something, I’m sure we could find her a suitable young man…” He trailed off the look of incomprehension growing steadily deeper on his face. Kaylee patted his hand, she waved Inara off with a smile. “No Simon, River doesn’t want us to find her a suitable young man. She found one for herself and she is intent on getting’ him, like I got you.”

Chapter Text

Jayne was in his bunk, River expected this and prepared accordingly. Her discussions with Inara the previous day had made a lot of things clearer. Like how the thoughts and actions didn’t always make much sense to anyone, let alone a bona fide genius girl reader. Emotions weren’t just feelings to River, they were colour scent and taste, they each had their individual combinations. Synesthesia, she thought. If her love for Simon is all cool blues and tastes like protein bars that is because he is dependable and steady. Kaylee was pink and tasted like strawberries. Mal, her ever faithful captain was dun brown and also tasted of protein bars, but he was the one with the extra vitamins. She smiled, love was a wonderful thing, but her feelings for Jayne were all rainbows and starlight in the black. He tasted of sweat, gunsmoke and leather. He was a blessed spring of cool water in a parched ‘verse.

Raising her hand she tapped at his berth hatch, hard enough to wake him if he were sleeping, but not so hard as to bruise her knuckles. Waiting for his grunt of reply River didn’t expect him to open the door himself. Her mind had been on the stretch of his shirt across his chest, the scar she had left below it when she had cut him for wearing a blue sun t-shirt. Looking down into his eyes River smiled shyly, remembering what Inara had told her to say… “Jayne, we need to talk. May I come in?”

Of all the moonbrained Fēngkuáng de pìgu ideas she had recently, this had to be her craziest. “Us? Talk? Moonbrain, you got the wrong man.” Jayne blustered. He didn’t want to get trapped in his berth by a reader. She might look inside his head and kill him for what was in there. ‘Specially these days now she was in more control of hersef. Jayne had some very unsavoury habits he was trying to break, and turning on his own was one he wasn’t proud of. The feel of her slim hand on his shoulder, her breath on his hair as she leaned towards the opening bending at her tiny waist. “Jayne, I know you might think that now, but I can assure you, you wont ever regret letting me in.”

Her voice teased his ears, but there was something about the choice of words. Inara had to have told her what to say, no way could the little Moonbrain know that they were the exact way he felt about letting anybody in. He couldn’t breathe and a lump formed in his throat as her other hand rested on his shoulder and she slid her body down his to stand in the mouth of the hatchway. Standing so close to her made his heart beat faster and harder than a cardio workout in heavy gees. Looking down into her eyes, Jayne swallowed heavily. “Looks like you’re in even if I was to say no.”

Synchronicity. Hearts beating in time, breathing matched and muscles tensed like coiled springs just waiting for release. They stepped as one, out of the hatchway and into the berth proper, the door sliding closed with a dull thud, the locking mechanism whirring to life behind them. Looking at her with confusion in his eyes River reached up and cupped her palm to his cheek.

Stretching up against him, brushing her body delicately against his, wrapping her free arm around his neck slowly, she guided his face towards hers, stopping just before their lips touched. “I want you Jayne Cobb. Will you have me?” she whispered before sealing her fate with his lips.
***

“She WHAT?” exclaimed Simon in shock. “Where in the Shí cì shén bèi yíqì ‘verse did she find someone suitable. She barely leaves the ship and when she does she has someone with her at all times. Captain’s Orders on that!” Simon shook with repressed anxiety, his meimei didn’t know what love was, she couldn’t possibly understand the ramifications of everything that went with becoming a part of a relationship. He couldn’t believe that he hadn’t seen this coming. “Who”, he wondered, who could possibly have stolen his sister from him?

Kaylee repressed a giggle, “Si, its not like she can’t…” She paused and shrugged rolling her eyes “Ya know, hear us when we are doin’ it.” Snatching his hand back as if burned, Simon looked at Kaylee goggle eyed. “You mean she HEARD us? Oh Shàngdì de shèngmǔ hé tā suǒyǒu de jìnzhǐ de xiōngdì jiěmèi, what have I done?” Simon stood unsteadily and pushed away from the table, turning to leave he stumbled and caught his shoulder on the door frame while Kaylee and Inara looked at each other with confusion and amusement on their faces.

“So ‘Nara, who IS River’s mystery man? I don’t ever recall her saying she liked someone.” Kaylee smiled at her friend the Companion and leaned back in her chair “Should I give him a talking to about treating our meimei right, or will I just sic the Cap’n on him?”

The corners of her lips curled into a tiny grin, Inara leaned in and took both of Kaylee’s grease stained hands in her own. “Kaylee, if you haven’t worked it out by now, who am I to tell River’s secrets?” Laughing gently the two friends squeezed each other’s hands before going their own way in the ship.

Chapter Text

Their lips met, she tasted of sweet tea and sunshine, soft and yet strong in his arms Jayne felt like he was floating. Her fingers trailed from his cheek to the back of his head, pulling him tighter to her, her lips and teeth and the very tip of her tongue exploring the curves and planes of his mouth, her hands roaming across his shoulders and back, stroking the nape of his neck and teasing the back of his scalp. His hands, large and rough cradled her hips tenderly, the tension in his arms screaming for release to draw her in firm against him. Somehow, beyond his comprehension Jayne managed to break the kiss and hold the slender girl at arms length.

His eyes were turbulent and she stared into them. She couldn’t help herself, looking into his eyes from above she had the overwhelming urge to kiss him, and she gave in to it. Inara said that she needed to talk to him first, to tell him how she felt, but why say it when she could show him? Why use the fallible communication of mere words when she had the upper hand. She knew in this moment he wanted her. He wanted her as badly as she wanted him, so why were words needed?

“Consent,” she whispered under her breath “Inara said I must get your enthusiastic and ongoing consent. I have to have the words from your lips, as well as the thoughts from your mind.” She took a half step away from the security and warmth of his body and trembled “I failed to gain these words, I acted on impulse and lacked self control. I apologise, Jayne. Will you forgive me?”

Looking down at the tiny hips under his hands, he circled his thumbs gently against her and then took a step backwards. “Moonbrain, Nǐ yǒu wǒ de qiú zài yīgè èxí on this one. I say no, you read my mind and know the truth, I say yes you read my mind and know the truth. You got me all Nèiwài diāndǎo right now.” Jayne was a man of few words, and fewer of those were used in romancing the trim he usually paid for. His confusion was clearly written on his face and River smiled.

“I could ask if I could peek, just a little peek.” Smiling at him she moved around him to perch on the edge of his bunk, her feet drawn up beneath her, chin lightly resting on her knees, arms wrapped around her legs “But I won’t, because that is rude, and you don’t have to say yes. I want you to tell me the truth.”

Jayne swung his leg over the seat opposite his bunk and sat with the grace of an antelope on roller skates, this made River laugh, a sound that tinkled like the wind chimes his momma used to hang round the house. Jayne smiled a litte at the confusing girl who had recently made his life a living hell. “You want ME to tell the truth, how ‘bout you start Little Crazy? Whats with all the weirdness lately?”

***

River smiled a pure and genuine smile that lit up her whole face. “You noticed?” She thought back to all the strange things she had done to garner his attention in the recent months. All the advice she had lifted from various womens heads all across the ‘verse in an attempt to learn the complexity of human mating rituals. She blushed a little as she recalled eavesdropping on his dreams from the ventilation shafts, learning his daily routine by shadowing him through the ducting.

“I thought that’s how you got someone to notice you. Inara told me different though.” River shrugged a little “She said that you were different to most folks, kind of like I am different to most folks, but a different, different to me.” River scrunched her face up and shook her head, letting her hair fly uncontrolled around her shoulders. “I’m not doing this right, It’s hard to explain.” River’s face contorted again and she pouted at Jayne, watching him closely.

“’Nara said, ‘don’t read him when you talk to him. Tell him direct, how you feel when you’re with him, and when he’s gone.’ She said ‘Jayne is a simple man, with simple needs. Let him guide you through the woods, and you can guide him to the stars.’ I think what she meant was I should just use little words because she doesn’t know how smart you are.”

Jayne shifted uncomfortably on the seat, willing the erection in his pants to calm down. If she picked up on just how much he wanted her right now, none of this talking would matter. “So ‘Nara said to say it straight. What you trying to tell me Moonbrain?” He shifted again easing the fabric of his pants away from his crotch, River’s eyes wavering between his face and his hands. “Damn,” he thought, “She knows”. Sighing deeply Jayne closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. “Moonbrain, I ain’t no good for you. I’ll hurt you in all manner of ways and I don’t just mean down there.” As he opened his eyes Jayne noticed an uncharacteristic moistness to them. “I don’t wanna hurt you none Moonbrain, so, just don’t say anything more ok?”

He stood and unlocked the hatch making his way out to the hallway before disappearing from her sight. River, confused and lonely and sexually frustrated threw herself backwards on Jayne’s bunk and pulled his pillow close to her face, breathing deeply the scent of sweat and gun oil and Jayne. Letting her tears flow silently River gently let go of the last threads of her special awareness of Jayne. Curling in on herself both physically and psychically River let her mind close down.

Chapter Text

Mal felt the reverberation below his feet grow. He witnessed the instrumentation go haywire and redline for a few seconds before settling back into normal parameters. He felt Serenity shudder along her entire length as he hit the intercom “Kaylee, what in good gorram hell is happening to my ship?”

Kaylee’s stunned voice came back through the speaker “Everything here is shiny Cap’n, but what was that shuddering? Did you go hit something with my baby?” the echo of Kaylee’s voice made it through to the med bay where Simon was absent mindedly sorting bandages. “Did Mal hit something? Are we all going to die?” he asked as Kaylee ran past him on the way to the bridge. “No idea Si, I’m on my way to see what he has done to my baby now.”

Holding her diagnostic pad in one hand Kaylee quickly grabbed Simon’s hand and squeezed it. “You might want to go check on River, make sure she is ok. Something like that could spook her pretty bad if she was near the location it happened.” Nodding his head he kissed Kaylee sweetly on the cheek. “Good idea Àirén, she could be just about anywhere.”

Meeting Mal in the bridge Kaylee plugged the cords in to the console and began running full diagnostic scans on every system she could think of. Head first up under the main pilots console she grunted and muttered under her breath about rewiring several of Wash’s repairs. Tossing stray wires out beside her, reaching for tools she knew wouldn’t be there Kaylee missed the pilot. His constant wit had kept a smile on her face in some pretty dire situations. He was also the only person she trusted to work on her precious baby aside from herself.

Mal tried his best to understand the muffled curses and requests from deep in the console. He really should have paid more attention to what the pilot and engineer said to each other while they made repairs or upgrades. He may be able to keep this tub in the sky, but it was their ingenuity that really kept her flying.
***

Zoe met Jayne half way down the catwalks to the cargo bay, a grim look on her face matching the workout gear she preferred to wear when doing any kind of physical exercise on board the ship. She hadn’t had a good sparring session since Wash’s death, despite facing overwhelming odds in several barfights, instigated bt Mal for the most part, she needed to fight, to punch something… or someone. “Jayne.” She barked at the mercenary “Spar with me.” A demand, not a request, and one he could well do to go with.

After a short session of stretches the mercenary and the ex-soldier faced off. Fists covered in padded, fingerless, gloves, to minimise injury to themselves, while retaining the ability to grapple, gouge and pinch nerves. They started slowly, re-acquainting themselves with different styles and forms of hand to hand combat.

Sweeping him from his feet for the third time, Zoe grimaced “Quit playing Jayne, fight like you mean it!” She hauled him up to his feet as the ship shuddered and groaned. Shrugging it off as another manouver by the Captain they squared up and fought again, this time Jayne sidestepped the expected leg sweep only to step directly into Zoe’s fist in his face. Shaking his head to clear the stars, Jayne began to cry. Real tears, not of physical pain, but from something much deeper. Something felt empty inside him and he looked at Zoe with wide eyes before stepping up to her and wrapping both his arms around her “I think I get it now Zoe, and I am so SORRY.”

Zoe shuddered and shaking, she raised her fist and gave Jayne a half-hearted uppercut just below his ribs. “If you know, go do something about it before you can’t fix it. She loves you, you Yīgè nánrén de bèndàn duìbùqǐ, jièkǒu. If you love her too, don’t let it go. You never have enough time in this ‘verse.” The mercenary squeezed her tightly, recovering a breath from her impromptu punctuation and rubbed the back of his fist over his eyes. “You tell anyone I cried and I’ll tell them you’re a liar. My eyes were watering from that face shot.”

Slipping his gloves off and pocketing them before he climbed the ladder to the gantry Jayne smiled. A stray tear slipped past his lashes and he made his way to the med bay where he assumed River would be with her brother. Now that was going to be a hard conversation. He may need to sleep with Vera under his pillow for a while, but he was sure that the Doc wouldn’t do anything that might upset his meimei. No matter how much he may dislike or mistrust him, he was going to do right by River.
***

The med bay was empty, so were the mess, the engine room, and the berth that River shared with Simon when he wasn’t otherwise engaged in Kaylee’s berth. Jayne was worried, not worried, he was frantic. He raced the length of the ship looking in every nook and cranny he could possibly think of before slamming into the Doc at the closed hatch of the shuttle. “Doc, you seen River anywhere? I need her.” The desperation seeped into his voice and Jayne didn’t care.

“My sister is missing Jayne. If you have done anything to her I swear…” Jayne cut the doctor off, bunching his shirtfront in both hands and shaking him just a little.
“What do you mean she is MISSING, Moonbrain can’t be missing! We are in space, days travel from anywhere and… We are in SPACE!” Jayne’s voice cracked “The EVA suits. She might have gone out the hatch!” Simon grabed Jayne’s wrists, feeling for his pulse as a stray thought crossed his mind. The pulse beneath Simon’s fingers was racing, the blood pressure was quite obviously increased and Jayne was exhibiting all the classic signs of extreme panic.

Breathing deeply and adopting his most stern and doctorly expression Simon looked Jayne straight in the eye and replied as coolly as possible. “Jayne, where did you last see River? Did she say something to you?” Jayne’s face dropped. Every muscle in his impressive bulk sagged at once, catching Simon off guard as the weight descended on his shirt front. “It’s my fault Doc. She’s gone because of me.”
***

She felt the ship shudder, it was the last thing she felt as she slipped into her own mind. The swirling stars comforted her, singing their songs and dancing in their light River felt peace. He didn’t want her. He pushed her away and said no. This pained her in a way she couldn’t understand. It wasn’t just that he said no, it’s that he said he didn’t want to hurt her, then he deliberately pained her in the worst possible way.

The stars sighed and danced and cared not for the pain of the human girl, a mere blip on the eternal dashboard of time. The tiny ship hurtling through the black mattered not to the stars, it was but a gnat in their view. Here and gone in a blink of the eye. The ship that shuddered and groaned in pain as its mobile heart, its bipedal soul, became lost in the wastelands in her own mind. The tenuous grip she had on Serenity was severed and both Ship and Girl lost touch with each other.

River felt the connection break and did not reach out to save it. What good was she to Serenity if she couldn’t even get the human interactions right? How could she ever explain to Mal how she could FEEL when something was wrong? The vibrations that precede a panel becoming loose, the tang of ozone when the electrics are under stress and about to give? How could she tell Kaylee that the tenderness she showed to the engines and her gaily personalised treatment of the ship as a whole helped to keep her flying even when she should me on the ground?

Floating in the deep recesses of her mind River could see the smiling face of Wash as he guided a ghost ship beyond her reach. The Shepard was with him, and all her friends from Haven, all those she knew to be taken by the Pax on Miranda, and the Reavers outside her orbit. Wash saluted her as he passed by, His last words drifting through her mind. “I am a leaf on the wind, See how I…” Cut short by the Reaver’s ugly lance He would never soar again.
***

Simon and Jayne looked at each other, fear and sorrow in equal parts in their eyes. “We will talk about that later Jayne. First we need to find River and make sure she is ok.” Both men turned to the shuttle and Simon hit the doorlock. “If you have hurt her, I will kill you Jayne.” Muttered Simon as the door opened and they both walked in to search for the reader. “You wont have to Doc.” Jayne replied “’Cause I will do it myself.”

Nowhere they looked had any trace of River. As a last resort Simon and Jayne stood on the bridge, hangdog expressions on their faces. “We been looking for hours now and cant find her nowhere Mal. She just disappeared on us.” Mumbled curses came from the pilot seat as Mal set the autopilot. “If you two Yúchǔn de fùmǔ wúzhī de érzi can’t find her, what makes you think I can?” Swivelling out of his chair Mal stretched and cracked his joints uneasily. “Have you asked Inara? Or Kaylee or Zoe? They would have a better idea of where the Xiǎo jiāhuo would hide.”

The slump of Jayne’s shoulders told Mal all he needed to know. Simon’s tightened shoulders and furrowed brow repeated the sentiments. They had checked every conceivable place that they could find. Knowing that River knew more of Serenity’s hides than anyone else did not cheer the captain. “Gentlemen, I will give you one small piece of advice my Ma gave me when I was a boy. She told me ‘Malcolm, when a woman wants her space, you give it to her. When she is ready she will find you.’ Go back to your berths boys, she will re-appear when you least expect it and scare the crap out of all of us.”

Sliding between the two men Mal sent a searching thought out into the black. “River honey, come back to us. We need you.”

***

Jayne made his way back to his berth, tired, frustrated and very lonely. He hadn’t felt like this since he was a teen, fooling around with the girl from down the road. Her Pa found them in the hay loft one day and tanned his hide for him. For weeks all he could do was think about her and how unfair her Pa was for keeping them apart. Few years back he found out through his Ma she had married and had a whole passel of kids. He wished her well but never forgot the way the sun licked her fine golden hair.

As he climbed the ladder down into his berth Jayne rested his head on the cool alloy ladder. He never should have let River in to his berth. He never should have kissed her back, hlding her in his big clumsy hands. She deserved better than that. She deserved one of those core types who could be sweet and love her the right way. Not some Dà bèn niú who could barely keep a civil tongue in his head, couldn’t even talk proper to the girl. A tickling on Jayne’s neck alerted him to the fact he wasn’t alone in his berth. Slowly turning, hand over his holster, ready to draw at the first inkling of trouble Jayne saw the lump on his bunk.

Rich cascades of dark hair flowed over her shoulder, her pale face tucked into his pillow, tear stains on her face showed she hadn’t moved in quite some time. Breathing out slowly he approached the sleeping girl and knelt beside her on the floor. Reaching a trembling hand to touch her arm, Jayne felt ten types of relief flood through him. She was exactly where he left her, but she was cold as ice. Jayne cupped a palm and smoothed it over her back, her thigh and her arms. Cold as ice, River was too cold, no trace of warmth was left in her.

Jayne had only ever seen this kind of cold once before, when there was a particularly bad winter and his Ma had got lost in a storm. They managed to find her, wrapped around a young lamb that had frozen in the night. They had taken her home and bundled her in the warmest blankets they could, then a couple of his younger siblings got into the bed and started rubbing and massaging her limbs to get the blood flowing again. It took hours and by the end, his Ma was tired and sore but warm and breathing better.

“River, Moonbrain?” he whispered to her “I’m here now. I won’t leave you again. Please come back to me?” Jayne grabbed the cover from his gun hide, pulled it over her tightly curled body and laid down beside her, wrapping his body around hers, hands rubbing gently but vigorously over her arms and thighs.
***

River felt the stirring of air. A quantifiable impossibility as she was in the hard vacuum of space, there was no air to stir here. Her arms and thighs warmed and softened, a strange sensation flowing over and through her. She heard voices calling to her, also an impossibility in the far reaches of space sound simply didn’t carry. She could make out Mal, and Zoe, arguing about something captainy he had said to someone. She heard Kaylee weeping and Simon hushing and soothing her, there was fear in his voice as he did so, but she could feel the fear of someone else closer.

She felt hot, the flush suffusing through her from the tips of her toes to the top of her head. Rolling against the restraints in her mind River reunited with her body. Rolling her shoulders and stretching the kinks from her neck she felt something on her neck, a breath, warm and satin smooth against her skin. The flush died and a chill ran down her spine, “So cold in the black” She whispered “but I came back, the stars didn’t care.”

Jayne halted mid stroke, his hand gently squeezing Rivers hip, holding as still as he could he felt a shudder run through her body in time with the shudder that rolled through Serenity. Nuzzling her neck Jayne pulled her closer and wrapped his arm around her waist and held her still against him. “Moonbrain, you ever do that again and Mal will kill you. He thought Serenity was falling apart, turns out it was just you.”

Chapter Text

Laying in his arms River felt at peace, she could feel the vibrations of his chest as he snored, face nuzzled against her hair, the weight of his arm over her waist a comforting anchor in her newly awoken state. River carefully wriggled her way around to face Jayne’s sleeping form, trying not to wake him in the ship’s version of the dawn. Kaylee had worked so hard to get Serenity’s lighting system to emulate daylight with a dawn and dusk adjustment.

His face was lined and soft in sleep, a contrast to the hardened leather lines of his waking face, River loved the lines and traced them with tender fingertips. He looked so much younger in his sleep, almost innocent in his dreaming state. River couldn’t help but hear his dream and smiled brightly as she saw herself through his eyes, whole and real and Hǎo sǐle in his arms. She wriggled deeper into his sleeping arms and found him already stiffening against her, primed to bear if she could only wake him. Her lips against his, gentle at first then more daring as he started to stir.

“ Tiánxīn, nǐ guàiwù shā sǐ nǚshén what did I ever do to deserve you?” Jayne groaned as her kisses moved slowly down his neck and along his collarbone to the tip of his shoulder. Caressing her willowy body Jayne tried to hold himself still, willing himself to take it slow and soft with the girl. He drew in a sharp breath as her tiny, lethal hands cupped him in a most sensuous way “River, Àirén, you keep that up and…” his voice choked off as she pushed him backwards into the bunk.

Tearing at his clothes River fumbled blindly, trying to undress him with unsteady hands. She could feel what he wanted from her in his dreams, and it was at total odds to what his words insisted in his head, the confusion bringing tears to her eyes and frustration to her motions. Grabbing her by both wrists Jayne pulled her down to his chest, shushing her and wrapping her in both his arms. His hands smoothed over her fraught body, moulding to her every curve. Kissing her gently and holding her until she became still, Jayne murmured in her ear over and over “No need t’ rush Àirén, No need t’ rush. We got all our lives for that Àirén. We got forever now I know.”

Tears streaked her face as he rolled her onto her back on the narrow bunk. Smiling into her eyes he smoothed the hair from her face and kissed her face from her forehead to the tip of her chin. Jayne slowly raised himself over her prone body to place his calloused hands on the hem of her dress. Slowly dragging it up her body and over her head he swallowed hard at the supple smoothness of her body. The defined muscles of her abdomen and flanks a pale milky expanse running from the waistband of her dance shorts to the peach down of her simple cotton bra.

With a swift tug his tshirt came off and she could see his body, lightly haired chest and firm muscle pocked with the occasional scar. He lowered himself to rest on his elbows, one each side of her tiny body. Jayne realized just how large he was when he saw her fingertips trace the scar she had left on him. “Bǎobǎo,” he whispered hoarsely “Bǎobǎo, I don’t want to hurt you.” the fear in his voice barely kept in check as he slowly rubbed his hardening cock against her soft thighs “But sometimes, for the first time…” he swallowed as she kissed him, cupping his face in both hands.

The only thought Jayne was capable of was how soft her lips were against his, and how he never wanted to see her hurting again.
River loved the feeling of Jayne’s erection rubbing against her, she wanted to feel him pressed against her, skin to skin. Slipping her hands down his chest to the waistband of his cargo pants she encountered a problem. Whimpering her distress at the inability to undo his belt, with his groin pressed against her, River pouted and tugged much to Jayne’s amusement.

“Moonbrain, I ain’t giving in to you that easy.” He said moving his way down the bunk to place his hands on her hips. His eyes lit up as he carefully lifted her hips and scraped the shorts and her perfect white cotton panties off in one long movement. Gently spreading her legs apart, trailing kisses from her perfectly formed ankles to her milky white inner thigh Jayne looked up into her eyes and grinned. “There’s other ways I can show you love.”

His mouth was warm and wet against her inner thighs, tickled by his goatee River squirmed. Her hands in turns, wrapping into his hair and clutching at the bunk as he kissed and licked his way around her nethers. He nipped here and kissed there and soon she felt his tongue gently lapping at the warm moistness of her inner labia. Tickling with his breath and gently delving inside her core, Jayne took pleasure in bringing her pleasure. River’s first climax, almost suffocated Jayne with the power of her thighs, constricting and smothering him into her, the second following soon after as he tested her preparedness with a single thick finger.

Rubbing the pad of his thumb over her clitoris, while two knuckles deep in her very wet and willing pussy Jayne revelled in her strength, both the physical and emotional. Watching her ride the waves of her climax before slowly removing his hand and sucking the moisture away. The pair looked into each others eyes and smiled. Jayne lowered himself to his lovers side and brushed the stray hair from her face. Tracing the dried tear stains and cupping her face he kissed her tenderly.

River felt energized. Every nerve in her body was thrumming as she rode the waves of her climaxes from the crest to the trough. Laying in Jayne’s arms felt so right. He was warm and tender, but he was still strong and tough. His hands, calloused and chaffed by hard physical labour felt like fire on her still trembling body. He was kissing her, but she was very much aware that her lover was still partially dressed. “Zhuǎnshēn shì gōngpíng de fǎ huī, and I want to ride the wave with you my Dà sǐ de yīngxióng” River muttered between kisses.

Jayne made quick work of his pants, a sudden bout of modesty overcoming him he covered his lower body with the quilt from the bed. River slid a hand around his cock and mentally measured it, tipping her head to one side with a light in her eyes she teased “What a lucky girl I am” before he lay down beside her reaching over her body to the drawer below the berth. “Lucky for both of us these are here.” Jayne replied quickly removing her hand to slip the condom in place.

Shifting between her thighs, Jayne looked into River’s eyes, a furrow forming between his brows “Tell me now Bǎobǎo, do you really want this? Want me?” Jayne waited patiently for her to respond. River raised both her hands to his face, cupping it tenderly as she kissed him with all the passion she had in her. Pulling back slightly looking into his eyes River shifted her weight slightly and raised her hips to press against his. “Jayne, you have my ongoing and enthusiastic consent.”

And with that, Jayne slowly and carefully entered River, almost climaxing as he settled deep into her.

Chapter Text

It was well past midday when Jayne and River finally emerged from Jayne’s berth. Hand in hand the couple made their way to the mess and Jayne got busy making food for them both. It was just simple protein bars masquerading as food, but River appreciated the sentiment. “When we make dirt side next I’ll try and get something special for ya” Jayne mumbled, feeling self-conscious about his lack of skills in actually talking to women before burying his head in his meal.

River smiled at him and stretched, revealing that she wore no panties under her tight shorts and dress. Jayne groaned as his cock stirred in appreciation. Leaning over to kiss him tenderly, River whispered against his lips “You give me everything I need.” before disappearing down the gangway towards the berth she shared with her brother.

***

A hand fell heavily on Jayne’s shoulder as he sat at the mess table, thinking about River and the way she had tasted when she kissed him. Immediately defensive, he reached for the wrist of the hand on his shoulder, fingers painfully biting into the sensitive flesh on the underside, while crushing the bones together from the sides. Realizing it was the doc he let the wrist go with a grunt “Shouldn’t sneak up on a man like that Doc, I coulda broken you and River wouldn’t have liked that.”

“Jayne, we need to talk.” Simon said, mustering all the authority he could in his voice as he sat opposite the mercenary, “River is very special Jayne…” his words faltered a little as he swallowed hard. “I never thought I would be issuing this kind of ultimatum, I thought that one day my sister would bring home a decent and respectable boy and we would greet him with open arms and that he would court her suitably and then they would get married and have a beautiful family.” Swallowing hard Simon wriggled uncomfortably “I don’t know what my sister sees in you, but if she has decided that you are the one she wants, then you are the one she will have. My sister is very stubborn, and strong, and beautiful and kind…”

Simon looked Jayne dead in the eye and slowly stood up “and if you hurt her in any way, I will kill you. I will kill you with my bare hands or I will die trying, because my sister is SPECIAL, Jayne. She was special before the Alliance got their hands on her, and she is still special in every way.” The barely contained menace in his tone was shocking to Simon, pushing away from the table he stalked away to find Kaylee, she always made him feel better.

Jayne sat at the table long after Simon had left, in the near silence he grunted to himself “Won’t need to Doc. I’d rather die than hurt my Moonbrain.”

***

Mal found Jayne in the cargo hold, checking inventory trying to keep his mind on something other than the amazing and beautiful woman who had given herself to him the night before. “Jayne, you got a minute?” The captain asked as he made his way down the stairs to the floor of the cargo hold.

“Near enough done here, we’re down on a few essentials, mule needs new brakes too Mal, maybe we could hit dirt soon?” Jayne looked up to the captain, hope on his face soon replaced with distrust and concern.

“Is River ok? Something happened I should know about Jayne?” Mal asked “I ain’t seen so much as a hair on her head today and she normally takes over the flying long before now.” Slowly approaching the mercenary to gauge his mood Mal leaned back resting his hip on a crate. “I know you and she had words last night, and I don’t mean to go prying, but that girl is like a sister, and I don’t want to see her getting herself hurt.”

Jayne winced and ran his hand through his hair then scratched his goatee. “Mal, this is the second one of these here talks I’ve heard today. No need to tell me that if I hurt her you’ll space me, her big brother already made that very clear.”

Mal looked at the big mercenary with hooded eyes, taking stock of the way his body tightened and his face clouded like a tropical storm, watching as Jayne stood straighter, shoulders back and chin high before faltering and closing in on himself. “I swear to Suǒyǒu de céngjīng huò céngjīng de shén jiāng shì, neither you nor the Doc will have to lay a finger on me. I don’t see what she sees, I don’t know what she knows, but if I ever hurt her again, I will space myself before you can say Hé shénme shì?”

Mal smirked and turned to leave, “I’ll hold you to that Jayne, I may even get a little choked up about it, you’ve been a good hired gun and I’d be sad to replace you. But I will replace you in a heartbeat if you hurt my Albatross.”

Returning to his berth with a heavy heart Jayne felt he needed to share this feeling with someone- someone who might know what it was that was making him feel like he swallowed a bucket load of mud chased with a double shot of lead. He’d best write his ma as well, let her know that her boy had finally done something right in his Sāncì bèi yíqì life. Just thinking about River made his heart beat faster, the bellyful of lead felt lighter and there was a bubbling in his chest. The smile that broke out over the mercenary not only reached his eyes, but blossomed all over his face, lighting it in ways he only thought a good loot haul could bring.

Kicking his berth hatch open and sliding down the stairs Jayne mentally composed the first lines of his letter…’Dearest Ma, You won’t believe what has happened…’ His face fell and his gut went with it, his berth was empty. Turning around with widened eyes, the mercenaries hand strayed to his hip where his gun would have been holstered, gripping at empty air Jayne bellowed “MAL, SOMEONES STOLE MY BERTH!”

Chapter Text

Jayne launched himself out of his berth and stormed towards the bridge growling out profanities in Chinese. “Mal, some Hǎo de méiyǒu dàozéi de fú zhā bit zi stole my berth!” The flustered mercenary didn’t notice the slim figure of his Àirén slip up behind him until her arms snaked around his waist, effectively halting his rant.

Her eyes lit with merriment as Jayne turned in the circle of her arms to wrap his arms around her. Rising on tiptoe to place a soothing kiss to his lips River drank in his presence, the feel of his body hard and muscled under her own, his scent wafting in gentle waves to her nose as she tasted his kiss. ” Dà sǐ de yīngxióng didn’t look in the right place, skinny bunk for two sub optimal, become accustomed to better standards. ”

Pulling his newly found Qíngrén closer, the anger fading from his mind in her presence Jayne smiled down at her, the dark waves of her hair washing over her shoulders framing her face like a halo. “What you talkin’ ‘bout Moonbrain? That there is where my berth has always been, where’s all my stuff gone?”

Tugging on her beau, River and Jayne made their way along the corridor to the berth opposite Kaylee’s, the hatch was sealed and River tapped in the code before smiling up at her lover. “Moon for the Moonbrain, Jayne for her love; MoonJayne.” The hatch lock clicked open and River waited for Jayne to descend. “Our berth, not his or hers but theirs. Wider bunk optimal for Shītǐ chán zài ròutǐ shàng.”

Jayne’s eyes bugged out of his face as he gazed around the berth, his gun cover concealing his stash of guns was draped above the head of a double wide bunk, River’s swords and knives arranged to an aesthetically pleasing, yet ultimately practical display to either side. The small mementos they had both acquired over the years were arranged on a set of built in shelves with Jayne’s Cunning Hat perched jauntily on top. The mercenary’s dumbfounded look gave way to a small smile, “You did this? For us?” he looked down at the smiling girl and felt his heart race.

Chapter Text

The co-habitation of Jayne and River had been smooth sailing for the first few weeks, the Honeymoon Period, Zoe and Inara called it. Jayne found waking with the sweet softness of River’s body was soothing, relaxing in a way he had never truly experienced before so when Mal suggested they team up for a job, Jayne jumped at the chance.

“Jus’ think, we walk in, I do the big scary, you do your thing and we walk out with all that shiny coin before they know what hit them. Mal has all the plans down to the last nail they put in the floorboards. Can’t nuttin go wrong with you by my side.” Nuzzling her neck Jayne breathed in her sweet scent, a blend of blossoms and the shampoo she used in her long dark tresses. “We’d be a pair of Huàidàn mudder lovers with the whole ‘verse at our feet.” His hands tracing idle patterns on her abdomen as he tried to convince the love of his life to commit another cunning lift of Alliance Payroll.

River rolled over to stroke her lover’s face, a sad smile twisting her lips, her eyes reflecting the lasting sadness recalling the last payroll job they pulled. “Jayne, we can’t do it alone. Last time proved that, since when have Mal’s plans ever gone smooth?” Kissing him lightly, River stretched out and brushed her hair behind her shoulder, giving him access to the sensitive spot just below her ear. Jayne smiled knowing it for the invitation she offered and he nuzzled back into her neck, kissing and licking playfully.
“Then we tell him to come along, Mal can drive the mule and we can do the job, easy as lying.” Jayne’s hand stroked down over River’s side and gripped her hip, pulling and turning her so she straddled his lap. Looking up at his Dàlǐshí hé wūmù shāshǒu nǚshén he felt his loins stir as she lightly touched his chest, her fingertips leaving trails o gooseflesh in their wake. “It’s not as if he didn’t offer us the job Àirén.”

Tweaking Jayne’s nipples and laughing softly River’s eyes lit up as she felt the stirring of her current favourite anatomical feature on her love. Gently grinding her hips and teasing kisses across his chest River planned to get Jayne to forget about work for a while, and instead focus on a more pressing desire. The longer she put off going back to work, the better off she thought she would cope with the inevitable insecurities of both her brother and her lover. “I’ll consider the suggestion, as long as you consider I have my reasons to not want to go.” Leaning closer to Jayne, River’s breasts rubbed, her nipples hardening to cherry pink nubs at the friction. “And there are other matters that you first need to attend my Dà sǐ de yīngxióng.”

With a subtle roll of his hips Jayne manouvered himself against River’s core and felt the delightful wetness that awaited him. Never wanting to hurt his Àirén he deftly slid a hand between them to gently probe and capture her, his finger, swirling carefully, thumb pressing firmly on her clit as he captured her mouth in a hungry kiss. River nipped at Jayne’s mouth, bucking her hips against his hand as she wound her own into the hair at the nape of his neck, her nails scratching his scalp and holding his head captive for her kisses.
Feeling both her own desire and his desire for her, River broke and came in a gushing wave over Jayne’s hand, much to his surprise. For a few seconds he halted his plundering and wrapped his free arm around his lover, holding her tightly to his chest before she began rocking again. Smiling Jayne lay patiently still and waited for her demand to fill her, before removing his finger to suck the digit clean. River’s soft hands flying to his cock to angle him to her entrance, claiming him as her own just as another orgasm washed over her.

By the time Jayne finally rose to his crescendo River had come a minimum of three times, once on his hand and the rest as she rode him, claiming he was a Shénqí hé shòuguò liánghǎo jiàoyù de qíngrén before rolling to her side and dozing off to sleep. Feeling the post-coital drowsiness lap at his brain Jayne forgot all about their discussion about the job and smiled as he closed his eyes wondering how in the ‘verse he got so lucky.