Summer moonlight in the midnight hour.

Copper for a kiss Summer 2010 challenge.

Title: Summer moonlight in the midnight hour.

Prompt #45:

'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight,

All soft and still and fair;

The solemn hour of midnight

Breathes sweet thoughts everywhere, (Emily Bronte)

Author: Artandlight aka ArtLightLove aka Me!

Characters/Pairings: Rayne with Simon, Kaylee, Mal, and Zoe.

Disclaimer: WHY! WHY! We all know we don't own any of this stuff? If we did there would obviously be more episodes.

Rating: PG

Genre: I guess it would be angst? I know it isn't all happy and cheerful in the conventional since.

Summary: River listens to Jayne play his guitar in the summer moonlight / River watches the smoke from the fire.

Author's Note: The above prompt was only a small portion of the poem so I decided to incorporate the rest into the story as well. A big hug and thanks to Goddessofbirth for being my beta! It would have taken forever to get this up with out you! Other than Emily Bronte another dark work inspired me if you can guess what it is you get a cookie! Also this is my first ever posted Firefly/Serenity/Rayne fic so please be kind but do give me honest critiques.

WARNING: My prompty plot bunnies were in what most people would consider a dark place when they forced me to type this out! The prompt was after all a poem by Emily Bronte. You have been warned.

...

The sweet hickory smoke swirled in ethereal patterns around the large campfire. River breathed in the dirt, grass fields, her family, smoke and blood. It was so familiar, yet as she lay on her back now, it was totally foreign to her, too. Watching the smoke carried her eyes further from the flames. Her eyes trailed up till her vision was filled with stars, and those angelic swirls that drowned out the noise as if within those hazy twirling ashes the embers had released a path home.

She no longer noticed Kaylee's hysterical cries, the heart broken eyes of her brother on her body as he worked to save her, or the rest of her family around her. No, she was some place else. Her eyes could see, but her heart felt the memories clinging to her soul; memories kissing her, dancing with her. She felt so alive at this very moment; loved. Not in lonely mourning for the inhabitants of the memories, as it would normally be for her.

How strange it was that she seemed to stand with them now, hearing the ghosts' voices over everything around her…but Jayne's guitar was the focal point. It played like a movie soundtrack, vague and distant, bringing everything together. It was beautiful, but strange. Strange, because she used to be here, among them, in her rich fantasies. So far away from reality, and now the tables had turned. Be careful what you wish for is most certainly a fact.

She grabbed at something without ever taking her eyes from the scenes before her. Took a soft, trembling hand, slick with something wet, and sighed with a little smile as she looked into his eyes, hidden in the smoky stars.

A moment passed, and then another, and her faced turned a bit forlorn. Jayne stopped and seemed to stalk closer to her. Water suddenly began to trickle into and around her mouth. Greedily, she drank what she could, but soon she began to cough. As the cup disappeared from her small world, a smile of thanks crossed her face, but she didn't say anything. She only looked back to her memories as she said in barely a whisper "Don't stop playing. Play that first song again. Please." She trailed off as he began a sad song that reminded her of sweet summer wind….

"And fireflies!" River choked out. Kaylee looked down at her sweet mei mei, her eyes glazed with fear. "Don't talk Riv, Simon's takin' care of ya. Just rest, it'll be alright. Just rest, Riv!" Her words went unnoticed by Simon, but Mal leaned in, griping her other hand as she continued to mumble. "Jayne's music. 'Tis moonlight, summer moonlight, reminds her of the sweet wind on a night like this, and of fireflies. He called them lightnin'bugs. You hear it? His music? So beautiful."

She saw Jayne's chest swell with pride. She knew he could hear her tell them she loved his music. It reminded her to go home.

"Yeah darlin', it's a right nice melody," Mal barely managed to say through his clenched teeth.

River tried to move closer to Jayne, but seemed to be stuck. Frustration overwhelmed her for a moment at this, as well as Mal, Kaylee and Simon crowding her. Mercifully, they did not block her view of the fascinating smoke. "She has seen so much in that smoke. You see your family? They have seen the children. They watch while we sleep. All soft and still and fair. I see times of laughter and sorrow, I see so much. Lifetimes in moments." Jayne played a slow blues riff that made her eyes close.

"River! Stay with us, River!"

With a start she looks back to the sky. "She sees him. His eyes! You miss him, too . Was gone before her ..never to come back, but he's playing, now. You'll miss the next one, too, but the next was really the first. He was always first to her, so she preceded him though she follows. Really. Loved. She wants to touch them again….. To hold him."

"Doc, you best be doin' something' quick, or stop all together and say your peace!" Mal cried.

Kaylee sobbed, "No, no!"

Zoe stood like an unmoving stone behind them all.

"The solemn hour of midnight breathes sweet thoughts everywhere," River breathed.

"I think I got it. The bleeding has stopped. The bullets are out and we have had worse on this ship. It's all right, River. Mei Mei, you're going to be ok. OK, you're alright!" Simon more pleaded then told. He moved closer to take his sister's hand from Kaylee. "Mei Mei?"

"Why would anyone want indifference? Such love I have never felt from anyone. So, so much." River shook with the feeling of it, and Jayne's heart and mind grew before her.

"Doc, she's getting more delusional. You sure she's alright?" Zoes stoic voice came penetrating their halo of hope.

"I have done all I CAN! SHE'S FINE. SHE IS FINE!" Kaylee grasped her fiancé's shoulders, hugging him to her chest as tears flowed openly down his face.

"You knew it wouldn't last, but it wasn't like that was it?" She smiled at Jayne "I thought it was a brief moment; even then you knew. We needed what the other had to go on."

"What did I know, mei mei? What did we need?"

"NO! Him. He knew." She tried to lift a hand, but both were firmly in the grips of the men around her. "He made a women out of me; taught the girl how to grow up and survive, and before he died, I think I taught him about forgiveness, mercy, love, trust, and how to ask. He was different. He is my best…was? No…. is my best friend, and we love each other. Always meant to be together, but not as man and women. Now, I see what he saw in the smoke, but most where trees are sending."

She heard as Jayne's heart leaped. "I do miss his arms. Their breezy boughs on high, or stooping low, are lending a shelter from the sky. Never found comfort like that anywhere, but with him. You know he saved me as much as you, and there in those wild bowers I will find that peace I lost when he flew away."

Solemnly they listened, no longer speaking, their hearts knowing the truth of the moment. Though they were detached, it was almost surreal. It seemed impossible they would be ambushed here. Impossible she would take so many bullets. Impossible there on the ground, in a pool of blood, a lovely form is laid, green grass and dew-steeped flowers, waving gently round her head. Impossible they were so helpless as Serenity's li'l albatross seemed to be confessing in her last dying breaths to loving their long gone merc.

"River, please, I love you! You can't leave me!"

Her eyes finally tore away from the smoke for the first time, landing with what almost seemed like clarity on her brother. "I love you ge ge. I love you all, but my husband is playing me home."

"Husband?"

"Jayne?"

"We finally got what we both most wanted."

"What is that mei mei? What did you both want?"

"To lay together in the summer moonlight. To be complete. To be the knife as well as the wound. I want the night, you see?….and here it is…"