The trial of Adelei Niska and Atherton Wing was the biggest news since the Miranda Wave. It was boosted by the fact that the perpetrators of the Miranda Wave were the key witnesses for the prosecution.
The trial was set to start in six months, but they were required to make regular trips to Londinium to meet with the authorities there. Badger was true to his word and set them up with a convenient transport route between Londinium and Persephone.
This process was speeded up by the fact that Zoe and Jayne handled the meetings with Badger, whilst Mal, merely watched with glee as the arrogant limey pissed his pants at the sight of his two gun hands.
Now and again Mal would surprise them by stopping off on a different core planet. The crew would go out for dinner. And they would try to avoid being mobbed for autographs.
On one of the return trips from Londinium, Wash answered a wave which he wasn't quite sure what to do about. As such, he asked his wife, like any smart man would.
"Honey what's the problem?" Zoe asked as she came to the bridge.
"Erm, these people want to talk to River and Simon." He replied.
"They're big children now dear; they don't need us screening their calls." She remarked teasingly.
"Yeah, children – you might want to take that into consideration. It's their mother." Wash was very nervous; the last thing he wanted to do was upset Jayne's girl.
"Ah, I see." She leaned over Wash and flicked the wave back on. "Sorry about this Ma'am, they're unavailable at the moment, we'll get them to call you back." She didn't wait for a reply before closing the connection.
"You see, this is why I love you, so decisive and manly – no wait… womanly, beautiful, seductive..." Wash stumbled; he looked sheepishly at his wife. "Love you, Lamby-Toes?"
Zoe just raised her eyebrow and crossed her arms.
The crew assembled around the mess table as Wash explained the call from the Tam Matriarch.
"They probably want to cash in on our fame and fortune now that we aren't wanted fugitives." Simon grouched unhappily. He wanted nothing to do with the parents who left their daughter to suffer.
"Might I suggest that one of us, not Mal," Book suggested despite the annoyed squeak from the captain, "contact your parents and try to discern whether their intentions are honourable?"
Mal looked around the table, the only reason he wanted to see the Tam's was to give them a piece of his mind – and a good right hook.
Maybe Book was right about him not being the one to contact them.
He knew the rest of his crew were willing to fight for River and Simon. Even now Jayne's hand was resting on the butt of his gun as the other held River tightly in his lap.
"I think it's safe to say that the whole crew will back whatever call you two make." Mal said earning nods of agreement from the table. "What about you L'il Albatross? Haven't heard nothing from you." Mal asked gently.
Once again River was hiding behind her hair. Jayne gently tucked it behind her ears and whispered gently, "Whatever you decide I won't leave your side."
River gave him a smile and a kiss.
"I miss them and want to see them." She said quietly, but firmly.
It caused a wrenching pain in Mal's gut, but he knew this wasn't her way of commenting on him as her father figure.
River sensing this left Jayne's lap and gave Mal a hug and a kiss.
"I will always love my Captain-Daddy." She said as she hugged him tightly.
Mal was a little surprised at the physical display she bestowed on him and stood there confused with his arms loose by his sides. Then he saw Jayne glowering at him and making distinct gestures that suggested that if he didn't return the hug he was gonna loose both arms.
Mal was quick to recover.
"Why don't River and I contact your parents and arrange a face to face meeting, we'll arrange for the whole crew to travel there but only River, Simon, Jayne and Kaylee will meet them." Book suggested.
River nodded enthusiastically as she settled back into Jayne's lap whilst Simon grudgingly and very reluctantly nodded his assent.
A few minutes later River was seated in the pilot's chair with Book standing behind her. Simon sulking in the co-pilot's chair conveniently out of sight.
"Tam residence." Came a cultured female voice.
"Mother? Its River." Came the nervous yet hopeful reply.
"River? You're ok? Oh we've missed you so!" Cried Regan Tam, tears falling freely down her cheeks. "We're so sorry we let you go to that horrible place, we just couldn't believe the government would have projects that terrible!"
River was beginning to feel overwhelmed by her mother's emotions and Book, sensing this, helped her gently from the chair and into the waiting arms of Jayne who was just outside the bridge.
"Please excuse River, Mrs. Tam." Book said as he lowered himself into the now vacant chair. "River has a hard time with… emotional situations; she might be back in a moment. I'm Shepherd Book by the way, I crew with this ship."
"It's quite all right, I'm just happy to see she's ok. And it's nice to meet you Shepherd." Regan gushed appreciatively. "Is Simon travelling with you too?" She asked clearly anxious to know her family was well.
"He is Mrs. Tam, he acts as our ships medic."
Simon was burying himself further into the seat as if he was willing the seat to consume him.
"Might I ask what prompted you to contact your children after all this time?" Book asked politely.
"Actually we started looking after the government came round investigating claims that Simon was trying to arrange the kidnapping of River from the Academy." She explained. "We asked to see River but they kept refusing. Gabriel, my husband, tried to find the people Simon was caught talking to in blackout zones." Regan paused as she frowned. "It seems my son did not inherit his espionage skills from his father."
Simon visibly perked up at this. Something that did not go unnoticed by Book.
"Might I ask what you mean by that Mrs. Tam?" Book enquired.
"Oh please call me Regan, Shepherd." She admonished kindly. "Gabriel is currently incarcerated at a maximum security prison for acts of treason. It seems the government didn't like the fact that we wanted to remove our daughter from the Academy."
At this point Simon could not contain himself.
"What the hell are you talking about Mother! Father made it quite clear that should I try and break River out I would be disowned!" He declared angrily as he glared at the screen, causing Book to lean back.
"Simon! Show some respect and mind your language! In front of the Shepherd no less!" Regan scolded.
"Please, call me Derrial, Regan." Book interjected. Simon spared the Shepherd an incredulous look before Book continued. "Regrettably Simon has had some bad experiences and his outlook and perspective is of course influenced as such."
"Of course Derrial." Regan said understandingly. "Simon, your father could never disown you. He loved both of you too much for that. He just wanted to shock you." Regan explained calmly. "Your father tried three times to get into the Academy before they threw him in jail. I tried twice. The only reason I'm not in jail with him is because he took the blame for me."
"But you both refused to believe me when I told you about River!" Simon exclaimed.
"Simon," Regan said calmly, "neither your father or I are as smart as you and your sister. All we had was your panicked explanations and seemingly rash behaviour. You and River had always been close we just thought you were missing her. We didn't want you to spoil what we thought was a wonderful time for her."
"But I showed you her letters and explained her codes." Simons was getting very agitated.
"Simon, what can I say? We were in denial. And as I have stated, no where near as smart as you and River." Regan Tam was clearly embarrassed about this.
", I believe you need time to digest this, let's move on to a different topic shall we?" Book suggested.
"Fine." Simon grouched. "So why are you calling after all these months? Its been nearly a year since the Miranda Broadwave and we've been in the public eye most of that time?" Simon asked suspiciously.
"Well, I may not be in prison with your father, but I am under house arrest. I am actually using an illegal feed. I will probably wind up in prison once they realise what I've done." She explained.
"Not to worry Regan, I will speak with the Captain of our ship. We do have some pull with the authorities and there is no reason for either you husband or yourself to be punished for trying to rescue your daughter from and illegal government project." Book assured her.
Simon just grunted and returned to his chair.
"Oh thank you Shepherd – I mean Derrial," she corrected with a smile, "I was hoping you would at least consent to being witnesses for my husband, he hasn't even had a trial yet."
"Please can you talk to River and Simon for me?" She asked, tearing up again. "I just need to touch them and know their ok. I don't mind if they never speak to me again. I just need to see them once."
"I don't think it will be a problem. Rest assured I will contact you again soon." Derrial confirmed her.
Book discussed the situation with Mal, Simon and River. River was all for arranging the release of her father and mother, Mal was somewhat cautious and Simon gave up complaining after River kicked him in the shins.
It was agreed that Mal, Simon and Book would take a shuttle and go see an old acquaintance of Book's to attain the release of the parents Tam. The rest of the crew would take Serenity to the Tam Residence and await the other three there.
"Shepherd who is this friend of yours?" Mal asked as he piloted the shuttle to the Osiris Capital building.
"His name is Geoffrey Finch, he's a magistrate in the criminal courts." Book explained.
"Geoffrey Finch!" Simon exclaimed. "He's the Chief Magistrate of the Supreme Courts."
"How is it that a lowly shepherd knows such a high falutin' feller?"
"Wasn't always a Shepherd Mal, told you that I might explain it some day." Book reminded him gently.
"Shepherd, we been to hell and back again, think it might be time." Mal declared.
"I was a high ranking Fed… here on Osiris. I was also something of a spook. I worked undercover a lot of the time." He explained.
"Well, here's hoping your friend can make my Albatross happy." Mal said as he landed the shuttle on the roof parking bays.
Wash parked Serenity on the Tam's landing pad. It was a large house and grounds but nothing too big.
As the ramp lowered Regan Tam could be seen rushing out of the house.
Inara was glad that she suggested the initial meeting take place on ship. Everyone was waiting in the mess for them.
"Mrs. Tam, its good to see you." Inara greeted politely.
"Miss Serra? My you are even more stunning in person." Regan exclaimed grasping the younger woman's hand. "Please call me Regan."
"You know me?" Inara asked in astonishment.
"Of course dear. You and everyone on this ship are practically celebrities." Regan explained. "Once we heard bout Miranda and how you helped my children I researched all of you."
"Oh… well I suppose that explains why you aren't surprised to see a registered companion on a ship such as this." Inara remarked as she gestured to Serenity.
"It's not where you are but who you are with that counts Miss Serra." Regan told her.
"I suppose you're right, and please call me Inara." She agreed. "I must speak with you about Simon and River before we meet them." Inara said as she led Regan to two chairs she had asked Jayne to put out for her.
"Are they ok? They aren't hurt are they?" Regan asked suddenly getting very upset.
"No! They are fine." Inara assured her quickly. "It's just that, well, as you have seen, Simon still bears some resentment to you and your husband. He will need some time to overcome his preconceptions. But River… River was, as you are probably aware, badly mistreated in the academy. Tortured. Plus she is a Reader."
Regan gasped and the tears slowly trickled down her cheeks. Inara took her hand comfortingly.
"We think," Inara continued, "That she was a Reader before she went to the Academy, she just wasn't fully developed. But the Academy removed part of her brain and now she can't control it."
Regan's head dropped as she began to sob at the cruelty her daughter had suffered. Inara raised Regan's chin and looked steadily into her eyes, it was important she understood.
"You must try to control your emotions. She will be overwhelmed by them and will be forced to leave the room. Do you understand?" Inara asked gently.
Regan merely nodded.
"Lets take a few minutes and you can collect yourself, then we will go in. Just try to remember you are going to see your daughter."
After a few minutes Regan had composed herself. She smiled and nodded to Inara and they both stood and made their way inside.
Regan Tam stepped through the mess doorway to see three people sitting around the table.
Her daughter who was curled tightly into a rather large mans protective embrace and a slightly worried young lady who was probably not much older than River.
River looked nervously between her lover and her mother.
Jayne gently stroked her hair and gave her a reassuring half smile and a slight nod. Something that did not go un-noticed by her mother.
River slowly moved off of Jayne's lap and went to stand before her mother. Her head down and her hands clasped before her. She just stood in front of her mother, not knowing what to say or do.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up to see her mothers face streaked with tears.
"If it helps, you can read me." Regan told her with a watery smile. Regan's memories were filled with a precocious little girl who had an opinion on everything and a question for everyone. Not this timid creature before her now.
River slowly probed her mother's mind, fearful that underneath the physical display of reconciliation, rejection and hate were lurking. Everyone had two sides, even Kaylee.
River was overwhelmed by the mix of contrasting emotions. Sorrow over what could have possibly happened to her to change her into this quite girl. Joy over finally being in the same room with her. And, desperation, to hold her tightly in her arms and never let her go again.
That was when River broke and flung herself into her mother's arms. Regan didn't hesitate as she wrapped her log lost daughter in her loving embrace.
"I missed you so much River." Regan sobbed.
"I missed you too, mommy." River cried into her mother's chest.
Inara, Jayne and Kaylee exchanged looks and carefully rose to leave the two to their reunion when River and Regan turned as one.
"No, stay." Regan said quietly as she wiped her face with her handkerchief.
River nodded as she also wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand.
"This just seems like it's a family thing and private thing Mrs. Tam." Kaylee said quietly.
"Please call me Regan, and you are family." She told them sincerely. "You looked after my children all this time and protected them from evil. Only family would do that."
"If you're sure?" Inara asked gently as she handed River a handkerchief.
"We are." River asked with a watery smile that reminded Inara of the one they had just seen on Regan Tam.
The five of them sat down at the table, River taking her place on Jayne's lap.
"I take it you two are together?" Regan asked River.
River cracked her first smile of the day, albeit a shy one.
"Mommy, this is Jayne Cobb, my boyfriend." She said as she pulled Jayne from his seat.
"Ma'am, glad I can say it's nice to meet you." Jayne said as he gently shook Regan's hand with a smile.
"Please, it's Regan Mr. Cobb, and its an honour to meet you all." Regan said as she clasped Jayne's large hand in both of hers.
"Jayne'll be fine." He responded with a smile.
"Where are the rest of your crew?" Regan asked.
"Capt'n, Simon and Shepherd Book went off to see about getting Mr. Tam released." Kaylee explained. "Zoe and Wash are watching the bridge."
"Will they be joining us?"
"They didn't want to create more pressure for River so they may join us later." Inara explained.
"Ah." Regan nodded. "So Kaylee, can I assume you and my son are involved?" Regan asked with a wry smile and a somewhat knowing look.
Kaylee's only response was a shy grin and an unusually deep blush.
"I hope you are keeping him in line. He has a tendency to be a bit of a boob." Regan confided.
At this point there was a rather undignified snort from the refined companion at the table. This earned an inquisitive look from Regan.
"I'm sorry," Inara said trying not to giggle, "but having heard River often refer to Simon (add 'as') a boob, it seemed so strange to hear it coming from someone of your stature."
"I see." Regan laughed. "Still teasing your brother dear?"
"It's my right and my job." River asserted.
"I can vouch for that; happen to have three sisters m'self." Jayne grouched.
"You poor man, how did you survive?" Regan asked theatrically.
It was a few hours later that the men arrived back at the ship to find the rest of the crew, including Wash and Zoe, sitting in the mess taking turns to recount their past exploits.
"… so we open up the bay doors and there he is naked as the day he was born!" Kaylee said between giggles.
"Well now Li'l Kaylee," Mal asked as he walked into the mess with the men in tow, "just who was naked outside the ship and why wasn't I told? Should I be handing out sceptic duty?"
"Of course sir," Zoe said straight faced, "we was just recounting the story of how you wound up on that planet after pinching the Lassiter with Saffron."
"KAYLEE!" Mal screeched. "You can not be telling these people things like that!"
"Why Inara, you lucky woman!" Regan exclaimed. "At least you got to see what you were getting up front. So to speak." Inara laughed.
"Yes, Mal didn't seem at all embarrassed about being stranded naked in a desert; he has an interesting tattoo on his -"
"INARA!" Mal screeched again. "Fine, maybe I'll just take my surprise away then!" He groused.
"I'd rather you didn't Captain, after all, the prison wasn't the best of experiences and I would really like to see my wife and daughter." Gabriel said as he stepped into the room.
"Gabriel!" Regan cried as she ran to hug her husband.
Jayne was not surprised to feel River burrowing deeper into his lap. She had relaxed considerably whilst Regan engaged the crew in conversation but she had tensed up a few minutes before Mal arrived. Jayne had instinctively reached for his gun. Even now his hand was resting at his hip.
Gabriel and Regan parted after a few minutes and Regan proceeded to envelop Simon in tight embrace.
Gabriel slowly moved over to where his daughter was curled tightly into a large mans lap.
His first instinct was horror that someone was touching his daughter. He had spent the past few years fantasizing about what he would do to the hundans that hurt his daughter.
But then he saw the hand on the weapon at the man's hip and realised this man would kill for his little girl, and he slowly relaxed.
Mal on the other hand was watching very carefully just in case he had to ward off trouble, as was Zoe.
Gabriel gave the large man a slight nod and knelt down next to the couple.
This was his bright eyed and bubbly little girl. Reduced to a quivering ball of scared woman. Gabriel's heart was breaking at the sight. He wanted to hold her and reassure her that he was there for her. He needed to reach her.
'Button? Can you hear me?'
River looked up startled, someone was in her head.
'Button it's me, Daddy.'
River looked round at Gabriel who smiled at her and said one word.
Jayne was surprised when River flung herself into her father's arms. He wasn't sure but he was fairly certain that River and her father were talking in their heads. He'd have to ask her later.
'Does Mummy know?' River asked her father through their shared link with her head buried under his chin.
'She does, I told her after we realised your brother was right about your letter and he went missing.' He responded. 'I thought you might have forgotten about our shared link.'
'I thought it was a dream, a fantasy.' She responded.
'We should tell the rest, they all know about me, but not you.' She told him. 'Simon deserves to know.'
'Ok Button, right after all the introductions we'll spill our beans.' He assured her.
Gabriel lifted River into his lap as he sat down at the mess table. She may be bigger but she was still his little girl, and there was so much of her childhood he needed to make up to her.
"So Simon," Gabriel said as he stroked a smiling if slightly nervous River's back, "who are the rest of these lovely people that have helped keep my family safe?"
Simon was still not fully reconciled with the situation and circumstances his parents claimed. He had an evil thought though as he realised how much fun he could have as he introduced his girlfriend and River's beau.
"Well," he began with a nonchalant smile, "this is Inara Serra, a former companion. The couple at the end there are Zoe, the first mate and Wash, the pilot."
Simon tried to suppress a smirk as he prepared to deliver his first crushing blow.
"This is my girlfriend Kaylee Frye." He said as he laid a hand on her shoulder and Kaylee smiled shyly.
"Nice to meet, sir." Kaylee said politely.
"Frye?" Gabriel asked with raised eyebrows.
Simon was too busy relishing what he thought was his father's discomfort and displeasure at his dating a rim worlder. He failed to miss the look between his parents and the little snicker from River.
Simon was a little disappointed that he hadn't managed to ruffle his father much, he covered his disappointment and moved on to deliver the final blow.
"The mercenary next to you with all the guns is River's boyfriend…" Gabriel's eyebrows disappeared into his forehead "…Jayne Cobb."
"JAYNE COBB!" Gabriel yelled as he stood too quickly knocking river off his lap.
"HEY!" Jayne shouted as he deftly picked River up and deposited her back into his own lap. He knew the reaction would be bad, but there weren't no call to be taking it out on his girl.
Jayne growled at the senior male Tam.
Gabriel meanwhile, had composed himself slightly.
"Your name is Jayne Cobb?" He asked as calmly as he could.
"Yes father, his name is Jayne." Simon smirked, loving every minute of the scene.
He was a little shocked when his father started to laugh hysterically. He wanted to ruffle his father's feathers not get him killed because he laughed at Jayne's name.
Gabriel eventually calmed himself enough to explain himself to a somewhat disturbed crew and family and a rather disgruntled mercenary.
"I'm sorry Mr. Cobb, I thought 'Jayne Cobb' was a monster or a boogie man of sorts." Jayne didn't mind being feared, made it a goal of his, but he still didn't like being laughed at.
Gabriel could see he needed to explain further and River clearly knew what was coming judging by the giggling bundle in Jayne's lap.
"Quite recently two inmates arrived in my cell block, nothing unusual there but they had a tendency to cry out in their sleep during nightmares, the one phrase we heard over and over was 'Jayne Cobb' or 'Cobb'. They wouldn't talk about it but their nightmares were a regular occurrence."
The rest of the crew still looked a little blank, Jayne was struggling to decide whether to be pleased or not.
"He's talking about Adelai Niska and Atherton Wing." River said as she turned in Jayne's lap to face the crew.
There was a collective "Ooohhh" from the crew and a distinct swelling in Jayne's chest.
"Truth be told, 'was your Li'l girl here that did the most to them." Jayne said proudly. "They kidnapped her and she used all her assassin training to take out them and most of their hired hands."
River was blushing at the praise.
Regan's head was in her hands as she tried to cope with hearing that her daughter was kidnapped… again. Over the passed few years she had fought to get her daughter back, never sparing a moment to weep for her lost daughter, but it was all coming out now.
Gabriel put an arm around his wife and River moved to sit in her lap and be tightly hugged.
"Well I'm glad she can fend for herself, despite the reasons and circumstances surrounding her training." Gabriel told the crew. "But I am still grateful to you Mr. Cobb and the rest of you for helping to keep my children safe."
"They're family Mr. Tam, we take care of family." Kaylee told him.
Gabriel smiled at her, "Please just call me Gabriel, or Gabe."
"Now Miss Frye, may I call you Kaylee?" He asked. Kaylee nodded enthusiastically.
"Now then, there was a time when I used to bounce you on my knee." The crew looked at Gabriel like he had just told them the moon shone out his arse.
"Your family are old friends of ours." He explained. "Regan and I honeymooned on Harvest. We loved it so much that we arranged to build a summer home on your parents land, they could use it when we weren't there and rent it out when they wanted."
Gabriel paused to look at Simon, who appeared to be catatonic with shock.
"Simon was two when your mother was pregnant with you." Regan told Kaylee. "He would sit on her knee and ask all sorts of questions about who you were and when you were going to come out and play." Regan said as she smiled fondly at the memories.
Kaylee looked like all her Christmas' and birthdays had come at once. The rest of the crew were doing their level best not to laugh… and failing miserably.
"Is that why he became a doctor?" Wash asked through the gasps as he leaned on Zoe's shoulder.
"No, he started on that when Kaylee was two and she cut her knee." Gabriel told him. "Simon helped Kaylee into the summer home and helped me patch up her knee, she was so happy she gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek."
Kaylee was beaming as she hugged Simon tightly. Simon was turning beet-red as the story was told.
"You were her hero Simon." Regan explained kindly.
"You still are." Kaylee said as she kissed Simon's cheek.
At this point Simon regained his tongue.
"Why don't I remember this and why hadn't we been back recently?" Simon demanded, clearly having trouble believing his ears.
"You were quite young. We haven't been back since before River was born. She was so smart she needed a lot of help understanding herself." Regan explained.
"Also I became very busy at work." Gabriel added. "We keep in touch, although not since the Academy."
"I take it you haven't told your parents yet Kaylee?" Regan asked.
"No, it would have been to hard to explain as I couldn't say who he was him an' River bein' fugies an' all." Kaylee explained.
"Well, we can wave them later and surprise them." Gabriel smiled slyly.
'Ready Button? Might as well get it over with.' Gabriel asked his daughter telepathically.
"Yes." River replied verbally. Causing Gabriel to smile.
"Yes what River?" Inara asked.
"I was saying yes to Daddy about telling you our secret." She replied.
"Why am I getting the feeling I ain't wearing enough armour?" Mal groused warily.
"Because you never wear any." Zoe responded. "Sir." Mal just glared at her.
"Not to worry Captain, it's just something that has always remained private between River and myself." Gabriel explained. "You see, I'm a Reader too."
The crew of Serenity were aghast whilst Jayne looked like the final piece of the puzzle had fallen into place.
Simon on the other hand had returned to the State of Catatonia and was looking to buy a summer home.
"It's a secret I kept all my life until I discovered River was a Reader and River and I used it to communicate, I only told Regan when we finally began to believe Simon's claims about the Academy."
The crew were silent as they took this in.
"Why were you shocked when I told you River was a Reader?" Inara asked Regan suddenly rousing everyone form their shock.
"Oh, I wasn't. I was upset because of what you told me happened to her." Regan explained with a smile, despite her eyes filling again.
"So the Academy didn't make her a Reader?" Simon asked having finally recovered.
"No, but I suspect they found out. I always told her to keep it a secret as I had a lot of trouble when I was her age." Gabriel told him.
Later that evening Gabriel Tam found himself cornered in the kitchen by the boogy man himself, Jayne Cobb.
Regan had laid out a veritable feast for the crew of Serenity in celebration of their family reunion.
She had also insisted that they spend the night in the spare bedrooms. Mal and Inara stayed on ship to keep the watch.
"Mr. Cobb, what can I do for you?" Gabriel asked, his palms turning slightly sweaty as the mention of the name 'Cobb' brought forth the memory of nightly screams.
Jayne noticed this and couldn't help the slight smile.
"Just Jayne, sir." He said with a friend smile.
"Very well, but really please just call me Gabriel." He returned the smile relaxing slightly.
"In time sir, but for the moment I'd prefer to call ya 'sir', at least for this conversation." He said sheepishly
"Now that sounds ominous." Gabriel said with a raised eyebrow.
"Originally I would have gone to Simon or Mal about this, but now that you and River… and eventually Simon, have reconciled I figured I should ask you, I'd like your permission to ask River to marry me." Jayne braced himself for rejection.
Had he gone to Mal or Simon he would have been more hopeful. They had seen River happy with him. But Gabriel had only just met him.
Gabriel saw the apprehension on Jayne's face and smiled.
"Jayne, I'd like to tell you the whole story about Wing and Niska. I didn't tell everyone earlier as I didn't want to upset Regan."
Gabriel indicated that they should sit at the stools around the counter. Jayne looked confused but sat nonetheless, maybe there was hope.
"When Niska and Wing discovered I was also in their cell block they immediately requested a transfer for their own safety, they even asked for solitary confinement.
"It turns out that they knew River was my daughter. I recognised my daughter's name whenever they screamed it in their dreams, I thought 'Jayne Cobb' was what she did to them."
Jayne couldn't help the prideful swelling in his chest as he thought of the fear his girl had induced in those hundans.
"I know full well what my little girl is capable of." Gabriel continued. "I know that she can take care of herself. But what is more important is that she has someone to watch her back and take care of her when she can't do it herself. I know you can do that, and from the way you handled her when we first met, I know you love her and it is obvious she loves you."
Gabriel stood and held out his hand.
"You have my permission and my blessing. Welcome to the family Jayne."
Jayne took a second to remove the flabbergasted expression from his face before grinning like a loon and taking Gabriel's hand.
"Oh, and if she says 'no', send her to me. She may be smart but… well, you've seen Simon."
Jayne couldn't help but laugh.
The next morning the breakfast table was filled with feminine squeals as River showed off her engagement ring.
Jayne's savings had increased incredibly since he no longer frequented whore houses and bars, added to that was the lucrative jobs Badger had set them up with and his share from the money they got from Niska and Wing.
River was seen to be sporting a hefty diamond. Even Gabriel was impressed.
After a short bout of wheedling from Serenity's women, Mal agreed to make the trip to Harvest to see Jayne's family and have the wedding.
Gabriel and Regan requested transport aboard Serenity much to Simon's surprise.
But as Regan pointed out, "Any ship good enough for my children is good enough for me."
"Besides, I just got out of prison, as long as I don't have to travel on a prison ship I'll be fine." Gabriel added.
The truth was that neither of the elder Tams was willing to let their children out of sight.
This was something Gabriel had confided in Mal and convinced him to let them board.
And so several days later Serenity lifted into the sky and headed towards Harvest Jayne and Kaylee's home planet.