Disclaimers: Mutant Enemy and Joss Whedon own it all.

Reviews: Welcomed and appreciated

Re-submitted the story, found a few errors and decided to make this a one shot. My first foray into the world of Firefly and the pairing of River and Jayne, love them! So please be gentle

Major fluff

Translations (roughly):

Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng: frog humping sonofabitch

hwoon dahn: bastards

feng le: crazy

go-se: crap

bao bei: sweetheart

dong ma: understand

shi ging: business

shuai: beautiful

shen qi: angry



Jayne knelt down on one knee and leveled Bette at the group of traders Mal and Zoe were Haggling with, not a good sign he thought. He zeroed in on one head and then another, confident he could take both of them down before either could do any harm to his ship mates, he grunted his approval, pleased with his prowess.

"You know, you're looking in the wrong direction." River had come up behind the mercenary, whispering softly into his ear.

"Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng!" Jayne turned to find himself nose to nose with the resident genius. "Don't you know no better then t'walk up on a man with a rifle in his hands? And what the hell you mean, wrong direction? Mal and Zoe are right down there, moon-brain."

"Captain and Zoe are right down there but the one with the high powered rifle is right up there." She pointed to the cliff edge just to the right of where they were perched. The other hired gun had yet to notice Jayne and River causing the large man a sigh of relief.

"Damn girl." He handed her his rifle and took a knife out of his belt. "You keep an eye on them down there. If anything happens shoot to kill. Dong ma? We ain't out here to get humped by these hwoon dahn!"

River took the gun from the merc. "What are you going to do?"

"You're the feng le mind reader, you tell me." Jayne started to remove his gun belt and vest. "Once I take care of this go-se, I'm comin' right back. You just don't go all crazy 'til then."

"I don't go all crazy anymore." She gave Jayne a small pout as he leveled a sideways glance her way, reminding her of last night's evening meal when she kicked him for taking her dessert. "Hey, that wasn't my fault."

"Fine, whatever. Just don't do nothin' lessen you have to." Jayne started off to take care of the sniper.

"Jayne." River whispered. "Do you the girl to take care of him?"

He gave her a scowl, it had been a long time since she had referred to herself in the third person and it made him just a bit twitchy. "Just sit. This here's my job. You want to do this along with everything else?" He snapped.

"No, I just want to make sure you're okay. She's good with a knife and…." She hesitated as she saw the look in his eyes.

"Yeah, yeah. We all know, you're good at everything. Now just sit and make sure Mal and Zoe are safe." He turned back to look at her one last time, feeling the need to reassure the girl. "And relax, it's all shiny, no need to get all spooked, dong ma?"

She nodded after him. River knew Jayne was more than capable of taking care of the sniper. But for some odd reason, she panicked whenever she knew he was off doing crime and she reverted, just a bit. She had come to depend on his presence, his energy. She'd been much better the past few months since Miranda, but every so often a remnant of the old River would rear its' ugly head. It was becoming less often, but still, when it happened all she had to do was go to Jayne, he'd talk to her about Vera or his other girls, let her help with the dismantling and the cleaning and then she would calm and come back to herself. Even when they fought, and that was as often as they laughed, it comforted her. He never treated her differently than any other crew member, he treated her like a girl, like a woman. He had become her rock. She turned back to the captain and the first mate, shaking her head to clear thoughts of Jayne.


"Well, that tuned out to be a very successful business transaction," Mal tuned to Jayne and River, "once my two strategists took care of the distractions. So, I decided, next stop Persephone. We could all do with a little core r and r. How do you all feel about that?"

Kaylee lit up like a Christmas tree. "That would be shiny cap'n. Simon's been promising me a night or two at a little resort he knows 'bout." She turned to the young doctor. "Can we Simon?"

Simon couldn't resist the look in the mechanic's eyes. "Most certainly." He looked up at Mal. "Captain, do you think you could drop us up Risis Mountain?"

"Ummm, I think we can handle that. So little albatross, what's our ETA for Persephone?"

River smiled up at Mal. "About 10 days, 12 hours, 37 minutes and 22 seconds captain. We need to stop at a rim moon for fuel and then we're set."

"About? That sounds pretty precise to me little one." He smiled at the girl, very please at her progress and her ease at settling in with her piloting duties.

"Well, I programmed in as many variables as allowed, but…" She stopped herself before she began on one of her scientific tangents.

"Fine. Set in a course then." Mal smiled at the ex-companion. "Inara, I need to discuss something with you." He rose and put a hand out to her. She smiled and took it.

Once they were out of the galley, she looked at her lover. "Really Mal, do you think the crew doesn't know what our 'discussion' will consist of?"

"Don't care, I like my privacy, even if it is just make believe. Now, get in there woman and take care of your man." He lightly smacked her bottom as they entered her shuttle.

Inara softly laughed and caught her breath as a hot shudder ran through her body. "Oh I do love it when you get all manly on me Malcolm Reynolds."

"Oh woman, I plan on getting' all kinds of manly on you."

The rest of the crew had remained together in the galley, sharing stories of their latest escapade and sharing a drink or two, more like six for the mercenary. He watched as River recounted her version of their encounter with the sniper.

"And so, Jayne climbed up the cliff edge and took out the gun man." She turned to him and suddenly felt very self conscious of the fact that she had almost made him sound like one of those super heros in those ridiculous illustrated novels he liked to read. "Of course, if I hadn't of shown up, he would've missed the sniper altogether."

Jayne frowned. "I would've seen him, jus' had to get settled with the other two with Mal and Zoe."

Zoe rolled her eyes, here we go again she thought. "Children, children. We all did a fine job and we have the credits to prove it, so let's just have another drink and celebrate the fact that we all came out of it without a scratch." She lifted her glass in the air as her shipmates followed suit.

Jayne smiled, a bit of a twinkle in his eye. "Let's play darts, you up for it crazy?"

River squinted up at the big man. "I am very adept at darts, you must promise not to go Neanderthal once I win the game, after all I am designed to always hit the mark."

"I promise, so here's the deal, the one what gets closest to the bulls eye wins. Couldn't be simpler, right?" Jayne tuned his head and winked over at Kaylee, who in turned stifled a giggle.

River furrowed her brow at the hired gun and then shrugged. He was right, nothing could be simpler and she hadn't had a single drink, so she picked up the dart and hit the target dead on the center. "Okay, see if you can better that." She placed her hands on her hips and smiled condescendingly at Jayne.

Simon saw the direction of the game and intended to head it off at the pass before another series of one-upmanship descended on Serenity. "Come on you two, let's just have another one of these great brownie like things." He looked to Zoe, who just shrugged.

"You know doc, the two of them gotta get this out of their system. It's all in fun, right?" She aimed a hard look at Jayne.

"'Course it is Zoe. I mean, what harm could come of a little game a darts?" He picked up one of the projectiles and landed it right on the edge of the center. "Ha! I win!" He laughed at the expression on Rivers face.

"What are you talking about? I clearly won. My dart is right on center!" She turned to Simon and Kaylee. "Right?"

"Well, mei mei, Jayne did say 'closest to', not on center…so…technically…" Simon shifted uncomfortably. He hated to ever disagree with River, especially since she was doing so well.

Kaylee had no such qualms. "Oh River, you just fell for the oldest trick on the rim. And Jayne, I can't believe you actually tried it on our resident genius here. Guess you gotta be a little simple to figure this one out. Usually only works on someone with one too many shots in their gullet. But don't you worry none mei mei, once you learn this one you never forget." She leaned into Simon, a smile lighting her face. "Tired bao bei?"

He sighed. Obviously Kaylee was oblivious to just how competitive his little sister could be. She and Jayne were getting along much better since Miranda, but there was still tension there. And it intensified after a job. "Yeah, a little." He turned to his sister. "Now River, it's all in fun. It's just…kind of a word game and maybe even a drinking game. Just let it be, okay?"

River's eyes narrowed. "He cheated." Her voice holding a bit of petulance as well as anger.

"Hey now little girl. I don't cheat my shipmates no more. Not after Mal almost flushed me out the airlock. Jeez, it's just a game. Don't be such a gorram sore loser." He turned and picked up the last piece of dessert. "Anyways, not like we was playing for credits or nothin'." He began to leave.

"And where are you going?" River could barely contain her anger at the large man.

"To work out, not that it's any of your shi ging." He strode out of the galley with a victorious smile on his face.


River sat on the cat walk watching Jayne lift the heavy weights over his head. Her first thought was to make him suffer somehow for the embarrassment he had caused her. But as had she watched him working out for the past half hour her thoughts had changed drastically. Her breathing had increased and she felt a pang in her stomach, not sure what either meant she just continued to watch the man. Watch the concentration on his face, watch the flexing of various muscle groups, watch the rhythm of his movements, watch the rivulets of sweat run down and into various parts of his body. She quietly moaned and shook her head to clear it. She seemed to be doing that a whole lot she thought to herself.

"He's very shuai, isn't he." Kaylee stood next to River and looked down at Jayne.

River gave a sideway glance to the mechanic. "Thought you went to bed with Simon."

"I did but your brother needed something to sooth his tummy. One too many brownies." Kaylee crocked her head at River. "We hit Persephone in a week and a half and it's been over four months since Jayne's seen a willing woman. If I were you I might be thinkin' of makin' a move 'fore it's too late and you get all shen qi at him again. Just an idea." She leaned over and gave the young girl a kiss on her cheek. "Ain't nothin' wrong with a man like Jayne, he just needs a little direction, is all. And he sure is purdy." She turned and left River with her words.

Kaylee smiled to herself as she made her way back to her bunk. She'd seen the way the girl had been looking at Jayne and she'd also noticed how Jayne had been treating River since Miranda. The fear was gone as was most of the anger, the teasing was still there and the petty fights, but there was something new underneath it. River wanted the merc. And as for Jayne? He wanted her right back, just didn't know it yet. So if something was going to happen it was up to their resident genius to make the move. Kaylee giggled, she loved new romance.

Jayne knew River was up there, just studying him and he wasn't about to let her get the best of him. Gorram, feng le girl. Just when he thought they were doing alright she goes and gets all female on him. Didn't he let her lean on him when the nasties crept into her dreams? Didn't he put up with her actin' all superior and such? Just 'cuz she was smarter didn't mean she had to get all up in his face 'bout it, did it? And just 'cuz he was havin' a bit of fun with her she didn't have to go get all offended and such. Women, Jayne thought. And she was just barely one at that.

He looked up from his last lift to find the feng le girl straddling his waist and looking into his eyes. "So, are you going to apologize?"

"What the hell? Little girl, you best be gettin' off me and I mean now!" Jayne was almost speechless and more than a little surprised by his gut, or to be more precise, his lower extremities reaction to the girl.

"Or what? You threatening me Jayne Cobb?" There was a certain glint in the girls' eyes that Jayne didn't recognize and wasn't sure he liked, most likely.

"What are you playin' at girl? Tryin' to get me shot?"

"If I wanted you shot Jayne Cobb, I'd just shoot you myself." She slid her hands up his chest to slightly caress his pectoral muscles. "You do have the perfect body, don't you Jayne?" Her voice was almost a whisper. She leaned forward and Jayne felt the whisper of her breath on his chest.

"Baby girl…" Jayne's let out a growl. His gut contracted and he wasn't sure how to handle this situation, It wasn't like he never thought about her in this way, especially after a rough job. After she took down a man or two. The fightin', the danger, the way the girl could move, the way the two of them could move together, they didn't even need to talk, they just knew what the other was gonna do. When they were finished, there was never a man left standing, just the two of them, breathing hard, giving each other that look that only they knew, that only they felt. And afterwards, after they were back on the ship, back to reality as it were, he always found he needed to find a quite place to make peace with himself, with her face, her body on the forefront getting him off. But he would never act on it, she was just a little girl. Okay, he thought to himself, a young woman maybe with long legs up to there and a tight body that could move in all sorts a ways that was easy for him to fantasize about, but that was all.

She smiled at the direction of his thoughts. "Ain't a little girl Jayne Cobb and you know it."

"River, you bes' be gettin' off me and outta my mind 'fore you get somethin' you ain't ready for." His voice was deep and gravely, causing River to shiver and catch her breath. She moved up slightly on his body, relishing his reaction to her.

"Maybe I am ready." She smiled down at him and he saw her slight shrug, "But maybe you aren't." She lifted herself, preparing to dismount the mercenary when his hands shot out to encircle her waist and pull her back down.

"You ain't goin' nowheres 'less I say so." He grunted as his hands went up to the back of her neck, bringing her face down to his. He smelled her sweetness, citrus and lavender. Jayne groaned as he went to take her lips in his.

River's eyes widened, "I thought you didn't kiss." She whispered.

His eyes smiled up at her. "A guy can change his mind." It began as a soft kiss, feather light. River couldn't believe the hard man beneath her could be so gentle. He explored the sweetness within and allowed River to do the same for a few minutes. Jayne's kisses soon became deeper and more intense, sending quakes though River's body that he could feel. He groaned deep in his throat. "What's this all about little girl?" He asked roughly.

River looked down at him with half closed eyes. "You make me feel…" She ground into to him. "Umm…you make me feel liquid and warm and electric all at once. And," she rubbed her cheek on his chest and let her tongue slip out to taste his skin, "I have this ache here." She took his hand and placed it on her lower abdomen. "I always have it when I'm around you and it's getting stronger, and I know you can make it go away."

Jayne's eyes darkened and he sat up bring River with him. "Girl, you don't know what yer askin.'" He still held onto her as he stood, she wrapped her arms and legs around him, pusheing into him, attempting to assuage the ache.

"Yes Jayne, I do." She looked at him with passion filled eyes, almost begging. "Please. I need you to make it all better. You always make things better, I know you can do this too." He voice was almost a whisper.

"Baby, I can make it better but it won't be just this time. Once I take you there we won't be goin' back." He buried his head in her neck and breathed her in. "Dong ma?"

She pulled back and looked into his eyes. "Dong ma. Now Jayne. Please now."

"Oh baby, you don't have to be askin' twice. Now, where's that brother of yours?" He pulled her tighter to him as he started towards his bunk.

"With Kaylee, we have the rest of the night." She shivered and moaned as she felt his hardness.

"Good, 'cuz I'm gonna need at least that much time." He opened his hatch and carried her down the ladder.



River opened her eyes knowing she would have to leave soon. She smiled as she snuggled into the sleeping mercenary. It was more than she could've ever imagined. Jayne had made sure of that. She was still amazed at how gentle the big man could be. The things he had done to her. She ran her tongue over her lips, still tasting herself as she blushed at the memory. And then the first time he entered her, slow and easy, allowing her to adjust to his girth and length, letting her control their rhythm, letting her flow past the moment of pain and flow into the pleasure. Once he had 'broke her in', she had to give a small smile at his words, the couplings had became fevered and intense. He had allowed, encouraged her to explore his body as well and she did with curiosity and passion. She had felt a power she had never experienced as she made him moan and writhe with her hands and mouth. River felt heat and wetness begin to pool at the memories. She ran her hand over his muscled stomach and smothered a moan as she felt his involuntary tightening.

Her breath caught as realization dawned on her. She was a reader and yet this was coming as such a revelation. They were so different yet so much the same. No one understood her the way he did. No one accepted her the way he did. And he knew her in ways no one else on the ship ever could. Where everyone else saw the fragile, wounded girl, he saw the strong, battled-scared woman. The woman in all her darkness and he accepted her as such, reveled in it because he felt the darkness as well. He never tried to change her, he fought with her, expected things of her, but never tried to change her. Yes, she thought, I love this man and I think I've love him for quite awhile. And he will learn to love me back. She tried to look ahead, to see what the future might hold for them and she saw old bones. She sighed with relief and smiled as she placed a soft kiss on his chest, her tongue lightly circling his nipple.

"Will 'ya stop thinkin' so gorram loud? We gotta get up in about a half hour and you done wore me out girl." Without opening his eyes Jayne pulled River up on top of his chest and nuzzled her neck. "I always thought you'd be the death of me, but not from too much sexin'."

River giggled and entwined her legs in his, rubbing her pelvis against his as their juices mingled, relishing the feel of his coarse hair against her smooth skin. "I will never cause you danger or death, I will always protect you." She rose up. "Which is why I must leave now, before all the mice on the ship scurry out of their holes." She swung her legs over the edge of the bunk.

Jayne wound his hands around her waist. "Now you just hold on there girl. I don't need no protectin' from you regardin' this new development. The crew's just gonna have t'get used to you sleepin' in my bunk 'cuz that's where I plan on keepin' you." He sat up and pulled her onto his lap. "We got an understandin' here?"

She smiled at him as her heart swelled, he wanted her and he wanted everyone to know. "Are you sure? I just thought you'd want to keep this a secret. At least for awhile. You know most of the crew won't like it."

"Oh baby, for bein' a reader you sure don't see much in this old mans head, do ya? Or is it just a little too cloudy with sex? "Sides, I don't see me bein' able to keep my hands off a you, do you?" He chuckled as he nuzzled her neck.

She took his face in her hands and looked deeply into his eyes. "No, and you are not old, you are beautiful and perfect and just right for me." River looked at the place between Jayne's neck and shoulder. There was a bruise where she bit him a few hours earlier, she reached out to touch it. "Oh Jayne, did I hurt you?"

He growled at the memory of when that happened. "Oh baby doll, it was a pain that I'd have all over again to see your face after that one."

River blushed as she recalled it as well. "Stop, we have to talk." His hands were beginning to wander and River knew if they got started she would never get out of here in time.

"Oh sweetie, talkin's the last thing on my mind." His mouth found her neck and he began to softly run his tongue over the pulse point that was wildly beating.

"Jayne, please." Her voice was pleading.

He took a deep breath and pulled away from her. "Okay girl, talk."

"We can't go out there and suddenly tell them we're…we're…well what? What are we exactly?"

Jayne rolled his eyes. He sat up and pulled her onto his lap so she could face him. "You're my woman and I'm your man. Simple as that. Don't need no genius IQ to figure this one out baby. We on the same page here?"

She gave him a lopsided grin as she wiggled closer to him causing a deep groan. "I'm your woman?"

"What 'cha think?" His voice was puzzled.

"I just assumed, I just thought…well, for now…just sex." Her voice had become small.

Jayne laughed as he pulled her closer, his hard length pressing against her wetness. "Oh baby, the sex is gonna happen lots, but ya ain't just a sexin' up kinda girl. 'Sides, if I pissed you off too bad you could just kill me with your brain. Right?"

"I would never kill you with my brain, it would be my hands. I'd keep it personal." She gave him a wicked sexy smile that sent all his blood to boiling.

"Feng le girl. You okay with this?" Jayne looked deeply into her eyes, trying to see if she was scared, regretful. He knew he was pushing her, but he was not gonna lose her, he wanted to pin her down, make certain she would stay. Actually, he wanted to keep her in this bunk for the next week or so and make her see they should be forever.

She smiled up at him. "I'm fine with it. Forever Jayne."

The look in her eyes caused relief to flood through his body, she didn't think it was a mistake, she wanted this as much as he did. "We need to seal this deal." Jayne lifted her slightly as he entered her with an even thrust.

River pushed deeply into him as she tightened her legs around his waist. "Yes my Jayne. Please seal the deal."


Inara was pouring a cup of tea for herself and Mal while she talked to Kaylee about the course of their day when Jayne and River entered the galley, hand in hand. Kaylee shrieked with glee and ran to hug the new couple.

Mal looked up in confusion while Inara placed a cup in front of him and put her hand on his shoulder. "Now Mal, just stay calm. Things always take their natural course." She smiled at the very odd couple. Jayne grunted as Kaylee pinched his cheek.

"I just knew it were comin', could see it a mile off." Kaylee turned to the captain. "Now cap'n', you have to see the sense of all this and not go off all half cocked. Everyone deserves to be loved. Ain't that right Nara?" She looked to the ex-companion for assurance.

"Well Kaylee, I think Mal needs to know what we're talking about here first before we recount all the reasons it's a positive thing."

"Now wait a gorram minute. This here don't involve no one but me and crazy here." He put his arm around River who leaned into him. "And we just thought it would be the polite thing to let you all know, but we ain't askin' permission or nothing. We just is, is all." He looked down at River and she smiled up at him. "Right baby?"

Realization finally hit Mal and he looked between his merc, his pilot, his mechanic and his lover. "When the hell did this happen and how is it you two women knew about it and didn't bother to inform me?" His eyes zeroed in on River. "Does your brother know about this?"

"Know about what?" Simon entered the room oblivious to all the drama that was going on around him.

"Well doc, that my mercenary and your little mei mei have decided to have a full fledged," he turned to the new couple, "what? What is this thing the two of you are embarking upon?"

River smiled at the captain's question. "Jayne's my man and I am his woman." She looked up at her lover. "Right?"

"Well yeah, but there's more. Me and River, well we're gonna want to make it permanent and all." He looked down at her. "I mean, you're gonna wanna marry me, ain't ya?"

River smiled up at her merc, her face flushed. "Of course, I will, but are you sure Jayne? I'll be with you anyway, you know that."

"'Course I'm sure. I already told ya, ya ain't just a sexin' up kinda girl. You're a keeper. I mean, ain't nobody else gets what I feel after a battle and who else loves all my other girls as much as I do? Only my River girl." He shuffled, a little embarrassed. "But are you sure? You wanna be all permanent with the likes a' me?"

"Alright now, this is all a bit much here, maybe you should take this somewheres private." Mal wasn't at all comfortable with this and the look on Inara's face was makin' it all kinds of worse. But the two of them just continued as if he hadn't said a word. Mal sighed.

"I want to be with you forever." She turned into his embrace and rubbed her cheek against his chest. The peace she felt was almost indescribable and it was because of this man. "I will marry you anytime you want." She turned to her brother. "Simon, you don't have to understand, just accept."

Simon was confused and it wholly showed on his face. He looked at his sister, then Mal and then onto Kaylee. "What? I…I don't…when did this happen? I…Kaylee?"

Kaylee laughed and went to the doctor. "Oh bao bei, you really haven't seen what's been going on 'tween the two of them? Really? I mean all the fightin', all the competition, all the late night talks, River cleaning guns with Jayne. I just had a feelin' this was gonna happen when they started goin' out on jobs together. It's all so shiny." She looked over at Nara. "Isn't it?"

"Yes sweetheart, all very romantic." She smiled as she looked at the expression on Jayne's face. He was the hardest, thickest man she had ever met, yet everything about him was soft and transparent when he looked at River. And to just expect that they would be married. She shook her head, she had underestimated the man. She always knew he was brave, but not this brave. To love completely, yes that took courage. "I think we all need time to take this news in." She took Mal's hand, "come on Mal, we need to talk. And I think Simon probably wants to speak to River and Jayne in private."

"Umm, yes I suppose I do." Simon turned to his sister. "Mei mei, do you really understand what you are doing? I mean, I know you are doing much better and I know Jayne has, in a very odd way, become your friend, but…" Simon stepped back and looked at the two of them.

The look in Jayne's eyes was totally unrecognizable, was it love? He'd seen the merc's anger, his lust, his killer mode. But this, the only time he'd seen anything close was when Kaylee was injured and it wasn't quite the same. Could the big man really love his sister? And River. He'd never seen her like this either, not even in their youth. She'd been through so much and neither she nor himself thought she would ever find a relationship. 'I'll be alone forever Simon, and that's okay. I want you to be happy with Kaylee, or…or with whatever, promise you won't let me stop you.' He remembered her works not long after Miranda. But now, his genius sister, the reader who knew so much, surprised both herself and him with this…this love.

"Mei mei, are you sure?" His voice sounded tired. And a bit guilty. If Jayne did really love his sister and if she really did love him, well…Jayne would be the one to take care of her. And as for him? He'd be free. To be with Kaylee if he wanted , free to leave this ship. Free to live a life. And River was really doing so well, she didn't need too much looking after, did she? Simon shook his head. What was he thinking? This was his little sister, he had sacrificed so much to free her, to give her her life back and now he was almost looking forward to fobbing her off on the first available man.

River released herself from Jayne's embraced and went to her brother. "You are thinking too much. No thinking, just feel. You know this feels right, feels good. And you need to think about yourself, and about Kaylee." She came closer to his ear. "Don't break her heart Simon. Treat her with respect, she deserves it."

Simon looked down at his sister with confusion. "I…River this is about you. And about him." He pointed in Jayne's direction.

"Him is Jayne. And Jayne is my lover."

"River, please." Simon felt his stomach begin to turn.

"Be strong Simon, Kaylee can't always be delivering antacids." She smiled a condescending smile.

"Just stop River. Please, we need to talk." He looked over at Jayne, who was still holding onto River's hand. "Alone."

"Doc, you need to be watchin' yerself. Just 'cuz we're gonna be related don't mean I can't jam a fist down your throat."

Kaylee came between Simon and River, "Now you two, just behave. This is a wonderful thing for your sister Simon. Jayne loves her and she loves Jayne. They want to get married and start a life together. This is wonderful." She sniffed, her happiness getting the better of her.

"Now Kaylee, of course I'm happy if River is happy, but this has all happened so quickly…too quickly."

"Quickly? How long ago was Miranda? That's when this all started. That's when Jayne first took notice of River as a woman and that's when River first took notice of Jayne as a man. Just 'cuz it took you forever to make a move on me don't mean everybody moves at a snails pace."

Simon blushed. "Mei mei, you understand…"

"Yes Simon, I understand. But now you have to understand. This is my life and this is what you wanted for me, well, a rendition of what you wanted. Simon, I will never be a normal girl, and that's fine with Jayne, he likes what I am, he accepts what I am. I'm what Jayne wants." She looked up at the big man. "When he sees me he sees a whole girl, a whole woman, who's smart and accomplished and…"

"Sexy as all get out." Jayne waggled his brows at her, causing Kaylee to giggle.

River smiled. "And sexy as all get out. And I see all the same things in him. He gets me Simon, like no one else, even you, ever will. We can be happy and we can be satisfied, more than satisfied. Please Simon, be happy for me, for us. I see old bones Simon." She looked over at Jayne. "We, Jayne and I will have a long life together. A life filled with love and lust and laughter and fighting and shouting. And babies." She blushed as Jayne looked deeply into her eyes. "Be happy for us." River was almost begging her brother.

Simon took a deep breath and shook his head. "Well, I don't see how I can do anything else. Your old enough and," he looked up at Jayne, "he's big enough. Guess all we can do is hope for the best."

River smiled and was engulfed in Jayne's huge arms. "He is the best Simon. And I've been hoping and wishing for him for a very long time."



River turned over in Jayne's arms. The mercenary had insisted River move into his bunk that first day and she'd been living here ever since. Zoe had offered them her and Wash's bunk since it was a bit larger, but they had both declined.

"It has his essence Zoe. You aren't ready to be without him. But thank you for your approval." River had leaned over and given the first mate a kiss on her cheek. Sensing the tears that were close to falling, River had taken Jayne's hand and left Zoe with her thoughts.

So, here she was, living with her Jayne for the past month. And today was her wedding day. Kaylee had wanted River to stay with her in her bunk. "It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride on her wedding day, you gotta keep some traditions." But once again, she and Jayne had declined.

"I've been sleepin' with my woman every night since our first and I ain't gonna stop now 'cuz a some girlie notion you got. River an' me ain't sleepin' apart for one night for the rest of our lives." He looked to the genius for agreement. "Right?"

She gave a knowing smile. "Not for one night, ever."

River stretched, trying to pull her legs out from between Jayne's. "Mmmm…jus' where do you think you're goin'?" He reached out and pulled her back to him.

River giggled as she felt his movements. "I need to get ready for our wedding, remember?"

"I remember, but I also remember it ain't for a few hours. Think we got time for before weddin' sex, don't you?"

"Umm…why don't we wait until after and I can show you all the pretties Inara and Kaylee gave me?" She loved to tease her big man. River knew they were empty words because she had yet to say no to him, just as he had yet to ever refuse her.

"Why don't you jus' take that little shirt off and we can compare unmarried sex with married sex tonight?" Jayne began to lift her shirt up.

She giggled again and lifted her arms in compliance. "You are such a sweet talker, how could I ever say no?"

"Well, you ain't said it so far." He nuzzled her neck and took in her smell. "Girl, what did 'ya do t'me? I can't go a gorram day without ya. You're like air or something, ya know?"

"I know, you are the same to me, my Jayne. I was only half alive but you make me whole." She wrapped her arms and legs around him and he pushed into her causing her to moan loudly.

"Oh baby girl." Jayne growled. "We's gonna have the best life, ain't we?" He pulled her hips close and held her still while he wallowed in her heat.

"Mmmm…the best life ever, my Jayne." She impatiently bucked her hips, urging him to move.

He released his hold and began to move towards their ascent. "River," he moaned, "the best live ever."


Kaylee wiped a tear from her eye as Simon put his arm around her shoulders. "Bao Bei? Are you alright?"

She looked up at him. "I'm just so happy for them Simon. And I'm just a little sad for us." Kaylee suddenly sounded sad.

"What are you talking about?" Simon genuinely sounded confused.

"Oh sweetie, you really don't even know yourself, do you?" She smiled as she straightened his tie. "Us Simon, there really isn't an us and it makes me so sad 'cuz all the torchin' I done had for you, well you jus' never had it the same for me."

"Kaylee, that is just not true." He was shocked at her statement. He always considered his sweet Kaylee simple, naive. But her astuteness had him swiftly back tracking. "I…I…I care for you so deeply, you've kept me sane through all this."

"Simon, don't. Please don't. I'm not as stupid as you think I am. I may not have book learnin' but I know about life. And I know about what love's suppose to be like, look like." Kaylee turned towards the happy couple at the front of the cargo bay. River and Jayne were looking deeply into each other's eyes, for them no one else existed. She nodded towards them. "That Simon, is love. Love for keeps. You and me, well…I woulda been honored to be with you for a lifetime, to take care of you, to have your babies, to love you. But I woulda always felt like one of them consolation prizes at a carnival. The one you get for tryin', not for winnin'. Not one of them core girls your Pa and Ma woulda chose for ya."

Simon felt numb, as if he'd been caught in a huge lie, but he knew he care for the girl. Maybe he even loved her. "Kaylee, this is not fair. I never lied to you, I care. You know I care…"

"Sweet Simon." She reached up and ruffled his perfectly coifed hair. "It's okay, I know you have a good heart and I know you weren't using me. We're in the black and sometimes you gotta grab onto something in the black. But look at them, can you honestly tell me you will ever have that for me? 'Cuz that's what I need. I guess I didn't really even know it 'til now. But I want that Simon. I want love."

Simon shook his head. "Kaylee, I don't know…"

"It's fine Simon, really. Now, let's go have some good eats and get just a little drunk and have us a dance or two. We have fun Simon and right now that's just fine." She grabbed his hand and led him to the the wedding feast.


Inara sat next to Mal as he watched Jayne lead River to middle of the cargo bay for their first dance and husband and wife. "So, are you dealing with the adulthood of your little albatross and your mercenary?"

Mal jumped at the sound of her voice. He had been deep in thought over his muscle and his pilot as well as Inara. "Where did you come from?"

She softly laughed. "Just behind you. Where were you Mal? Regretting your decision to let River and Jayne get married in your cargo bay?"

"No, not at all. Actually, seems you and my little mechanic were correct in thinkin' just how right River and Jayne are for each other. Gotta say, I never woulda thought Jayne could be so devoted, but the way he is with her, well. Sayin' I'm surprised just ain't sayin' enough. And their work has only gotten better. But if I ever walk in on them havin' sex in the cargo hold again…" He shook his head and took her hand in his. "Are you feelin' all sentimental-like? Could I be takin' advantage of you tonight?" Mal gave her a leer that made her laugh out loud.

"Mmm, could be, I suppose. But considering you take advantage of my company most nights…" She shrugged. "I have to admit, I am rather surprised by the course Jayne has taken with River. She would've have been content to keep their relationship a secret but he insisted they be open about it, he insisted they marry. I just never imagined Jayne to be a man of such commitment, such…"

Mal looked up at her. "You sound like you're admirin' the man. Is that what I'm hearin'?"

"Maybe. He has a single-mindedness that is admirable. He loves without hesitation, he doesn't think about the limits, he just moves forward. That's a rare trait for just about anyone." Her voice was soft.

"Maybe it's just 'cuz he's dumb as an ox."

Inara looked straight into Mal's eyes. "Do you really believe that Malcolm? Or is it just because you're too afraid to make the same sort of declaration?"

"Nara, you know how I feel. Words are just that. Words. We don't need that sorta thing, we understand each other…"

"These aren't words Mal, Jayne and River are committing to each other for a lifetime. They are acting on feelings, on emotions, not words. Can you honestly say you could do the same thing Mal? Are you sure enough about me? About yourself to even say the words?"

"Gorramit! This is exactly why I didn't want this ceremony here. It's gonna set both you and Kaylee off, thinkin' about the future and all. And it's gonna bring up nothing but painful memories for Zoe. If I could go back in time…"

"If you could go back in time, what Mal? What would you change? You can't control the whole 'verse Mal, you can't control what your crew feels. You can't control what I feel. I love you Mal, I want to share a lifetime with you. Can you say the same? Do you feel the same?"

"Nara, you know what I feel. We don't need words…"

"I'm sorry Mal, I need words. I need to know. I'm not asking for your hand in marriage here Mal, I just need to know if I have a future here on Serenity. A future with you." There was an even tone to her voice and Mal knew he had to answer her honestly or risk losing her forever.

"Okay Nara. I'm gonna say this once so you bes' listen. Take notes if need be. I love you and I want you here with me for as long as you can stand me. I'm hopin' it's for a very long time, 'cuz if you leave me I don't really know what I'd do. Is that a clear enough declaration?" Mal felt a bead of sweat roll down his temple. Who knew this would be so difficult, he asked himself.

Inara smiled as she reached over to wipe his face. "It's more than I hoped for and you will have me aboard Serenity for a very long time, my love." She rose and took his hand in hers. "Come, dance with me."

"I don't dance 'Nara, you know that."

"You don't do a lot of things, but tonight is a night for getting over our fears and accepting what is best for us."

"And you think dancing is best for us?" She heard the laughter behind his words.

"I think showing the crew our intentions is best for us." Nara eyes sparkled and it made Mal catch his breath.

"Well then, let's dance." He allowed the ex-companion to lead him to the dance floor and suddenly realized he would let her lead him just about anywhere. I am so humped, he thought to himself with a smile.


Jayne kissed the top of River's head and thanked whatever gods were out in the 'verse for letting him have this gift. "You know River-girl, I never expected this in my life. I expected crime and death and the occasional whore 'til it was over, but I never expected you. Never expected all this…I feel…I feel so full. Know what I mean baby?"

"Oh yes my Jayne. You make me feel complete as well. We are so fortunate to have found each other. We are soul-mates and we found each other." She looked over at Zoe, sitting by herself, a drink in her hand. "Zoe found hers, even if she only had him for a short time, she found him. And Mal and Inara, I think they finally have come to terms with their need for each other."

"How's about your brother and Kaylee?"

"Not all couplings are meant to be, some are just here to fill a void until the universe sets it right." She smoothed his cheek with her hand.

"Is he gonna break her heart? 'cuz ifn' that's gonna happen I ain't makin' no promises regardin' his life." His voice was a growl.

She gave a soft laugh. "Kaylee will always be filled with sunshine and hope. She'll work it all out and so will Simon. Sometimes we don't always end up with our soul-mates. And sometimes the ones we think are destined for us just aren't. Sometimes we end up with whoever's best for us. And sometimes, just sometimes it works despite ourselves." River reached up and kissed him deeply. "Lucky for us."

He caught his breath at the look in her eyes and considered himself the luckiest sonofabitch in the whole 'verse and he was feeling moon-eyed and generous. "I'm thinkin' I may just ask Zoe there for a dance. You alright with that darlin'?"

"I'm fine with that. And I'm the luckiest woman in the 'verse." She brought his hand up to her lips and kissed it.

"Girl, you jus' gotta stop that now. No more gettin' in m'brain lessin' you ask first. Deal?"

"Deal, unless it's an emergency." She smiled guiltily.

"Okay then." He sat River down and went to Zoe. "Hey, you feelin' like takin' a stroll 'round the floor?"

Zoe laughed out loud. "Jayne Cobb, you asking me to dance?"

"Might be, if your plannin' on sayin' yes." He cocked his head to one side and looked down at the first mate.

"Well, if I don't have to worry about River tearing me a new one, I just might." She smiled.

"I asked her first, she's okay with it."

Shaking her head, Zoe rose from her seat. "I still cannot believe this change in you Jayne. Is it for real and is it permanent? Marrying River and then asking the little woman if you can dance with me? This is all so unexpected and surreal. It really is an injustice that Wash isn't here, no one else would have the appropriate comments on this turn of events."

Jayne stopped in his tracks at the mention of Wash's name. "I'm sorry the little man ain't here too, Zoe. I…"

"Okay, now you just stop right there. I can take a lot of changes from you Jayne

Cobb, but you become all soft and emotional and I'm gonna have to clock you right here where you stand!"

He smiled sheepishly. "It's just the weddin' and the thought of my weddin' night, got me all mushy. Promise, I'll be back to my old self in a few days time."

"Jayne, you ain't been yourself since you and River took up. But just don't change too much. I couldn't take it and I am sure it would have my man rolling over in his grave."

"I promise." Jayne waggled his brows at her. "And if River and I don't work out, you can always count on me to help you through those long nights."

"Now, that's the Jayne I love to be disgusted with. Thank you very much."

The song ended and Zoe and Jayne went over to River. "Well sweetheart. As much fun as this has all been, I think it's time you an' me headed into town and to our honeymoon suite. As I recall, there was a promise of a nice big tub and lots a pretties for me to take off of ya." He pulled River out of her chair and into his embrace.

She giggled. "I would never renege on a promise." She reached over for her bridal bouquet. "Now, there's one more tradition we must complete." River ran up the cat walk, hauling her mercenary behind her and called for the group to gather. "Okay, everyone." She turned her back and counted to three before releasing her flowers into the air. They made a graceful arc before landing in the arms of the captain, much to his dismay.

"Hey, I thought this was just for the ladies." He tried to hand them off to Kaylee, who just burst into a fit of giggles.

"Well cap'n', I think it's for anyone who's single. Looks like you'll be next."

Jayne looked down at his bride. "You knew 'xactly who you was sendin' those to, didn't ya?"'

"Maybe." She had a mischievous grin on her face. "Now, take me to town and to that nice, big bath tub and let's see how much love we can make in three days."

"Oh darlin', we may have to make a stop in our bunk 'fore hit the road, you keep talkin' like that." He lifted her up in his arms and headed for the mule. Kaylee and Zoe had tied a 'Just Married' sign to the back and loaded up their bags, so Jayne was set to start his honeymoon on the way to town.

Mal intercepted his merc and River. "Now you two, just make sure you keep track of time. We need to blast off this rock in three days time, we got a contact to meet. Don't make me come and get you." He looked at Jayne. "And you, get her to the hotel first."

"Don't worry Captain Daddy, I want the proper honeymoon in the proper bed." She smiled at her husband.

"Hey, I thought you wasn't gonna do that no more."

"I didn't have to read your mind to know what my Jayne wanted." She giggled. "But she loves you for the thought.


Jayne held River in his arms, amazed at how much he loved the girl, she had chosen to be with him, to make it real for all to see and he would never be able to show her just how humbled he was by her decision. He held on a little tighter.

"Oh Jayne, you did the same for me." She looked up at him. "I couldn't help it, you were practically broadcasting the feelings and they make me feel...like love"

He smiled at her. "This is forever, ain't it baby girl?"

River snuggled deeper into his arms. "Only forever and for always my Jayne."