Title: All these wasted years.

Author: ArtLightLove aka ArtandLight

Fandom: Firefly, post-Miranda

Pairing: Jayne x River

Rating: K+

Disclaimers: Angsty. Also if I owned the series Adam Baldwin would be setting a new world record for actor with the most on screen nudity time. Mmmm full frontal baby!

Author's Notes: Special thanks to Thug-4-Less whom I barrowed from Dayze for being my beta. She was right you are the best!

X

The crew swarmed like a horde of bees into the infirmary; each trying to do their part as Jayne lay, nearly unconscious, on the table. He was only capable of coherent thought for brief moments as the Tams worked on him with the crew's assistance.

In an instant, it was too late, and he was slipping. River froze, locking eyes with the merc as, with the last bit of power left in him, Jayne surged off of the bed. He pulled her face to his in one passionate, desperate kiss that shocked the crew into absolute silence. With his dying breath, he pushed out every thought he could toward her and the only words he could physically form were, "I should'a been with ya long ago, girl. I's sorry for all these wasted years. I love ya." and then he fell limp to the bed. Silent.

No one breathed. All they could do was stare, as the scene before them unraveled. Even Simon, who normally would have been gripped with pure rage, merely fought back confusion as he blinked misty eyes. River was grasping on to the visions Jayne had left behind for her; the thoughts he had so desperately shielded in the decade since she had turned 18. As her mind shifted through them, River's heart tore in two; as her body gave way, she screamed as she clung to his lifeless form.

Instinctively, both Kaylee and Inara went to the shattered young woman to try to comfort her while they pulled her away but River would have none of it. Zoe saw the truth of the moment, could see what the crew could not yet understand. That, somehow, these two shared a deep, unspoken love and River needed this moment. So, with firm hands, she pulled the other two women away from River. "Leave her be." The warrior commanded quietly, stoically, as her thoughts drifted to her own lost love.

As the women stood back to allow the young girl her space, Mal hung his head and tried to avoid looking at the tragically mismatched pair in the center of the room. Mal had seen many things in his time. Plenty of lives lost and the aftermath those lost lives left. He had heard many things too but, until this moment, he could honestly have said he had never heard someone's heart break and their very soul crumble to pieces. Not until he saw his little Albatross throw herself across the quickly cooling form of his mercenary with that bone-chilling cry of remorse.