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A new Day Dawning

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Summary: Months after Early's visit, things start to change. Will the crew of Serenity be able to handle a grown up River?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories(Past Donor)sevangelFR1822121,019162445,4687 Nov 056 May 06No

Rescue

Title: Rescue
Series: 10th part a new day dawning
Author: Sevangel
Rating: R, for lanuage, violence, mentions of torture
Disclaimer: Not mine, if it were, there would so be Rayne
FYI: Again, no smut. (My Niska voice doesn’t seem right, at least not to me, sorry.)

~*~*~*~*~*

“Kaylee, it’s time to wake up.” River whispers. River had just woken up; she thinks she’d been unconscious for 2 hours. Looking around, she knows she’s in the engine room of a space station, though it’s smaller than the one Niska had taken Mal and Wash to.

“River, what happened?” Kaylee whispers.

“We’ve been kidnapped.” River answers.

“Kidnapped.” Kaylee squeals. “Do’ya know who?”

“Niska.” River answers.

“Oww God.” Kaylee whimpers. “We’re gonna die, ain’t we?”

“No, Kaylee.” River assures her. “Nothing is going to happen to you.”

“How do ya know that?” Kaylee asks, terror filling her voice. “Ya saw what they did to Cap’n and Wash.”

“I know.” River states, sitting up. Her hands are tied behind her back and the knot is too strong to slip her hands through. Bracing her hands behind her, she pushes herself off the ground. Swinging her body back through her arms, she flips herself over until her tied arms in front of her.

“Whoa, how’d ya do that?” Kaylee asks.

“Ballet.” River answers, moving to Kaylee to use her tied hands to unknot the ropes holding Kaylee wrists. Within a minute, Kaylee’s hands are untied. Kaylee stands up, grabbing River’s arm to help pull her up. She then unties River’s ropes.

“We gonna try and escape?” Kaylee asks hopefully.

“Can’t.” River solemnly says. “Too many armed guards spread out, I won’t be able to stop them all. We both wouldn’t make it.”

“Ya mean I wouldn’t make it.” Kaylee corrects her.

“Yes.” River agrees.

They are both silent until Kaylee looks up at River, tears running down her face. “Ya should go. Ya can make it out.”

“No, I’m not leaving you.” River growls. “We have to wait until they come and rescue us.”

“Yes, Mr. Reynolds and crew will come.” A voice says from behind them. River and Kaylee turn around to see a short, old man with glasses.

“Mr. Niska.” River address him.

“I see you know who I am, no?” He says, smiling.

“I have heard of you, yes.” River replies.

“I was very excited to hear that Mr. Reynolds’s ship was within the vicinity of mine.” Niska says, two bodyguards coming up to stand beside him. “I was going to have my men get him, but decided taking two of his weaker crew members would have a larger impact.”

“You’re going to die.” River states.

Niska just laughs. “Yes, one day we all will.” Turning to one of his guards, Niska whispers to him. “Now, I believe it is time we got started, yes. Claw, here is coming to get you. If you decide to fight back, he will kill you.”

A large man, one bigger than Jayne, moves into the engine room to grab the girls. River pushes Kaylee behind her while at the same time launching a kick at the man’s privates. He grabs his balls, bending down slightly. River kicks him in the face and then trips him. Grabbing the rope off the ground, she wraps it tightly around his throat and then twists it harshly, snapping his neck.

“I believe you’re wrong.” River says, dropping his body to the ground.

The other guard pulls out a gun and aims it at her.

“I wouldn’t advise using that, in case you haven’t noticed, you put us in the engine room.” River states, staring down the barrel of the gun. “One misfire and this entire space station will be nothing but little pieces.”

“It seems I have once again underestimated Malcolm Reynolds.” Niska frowns. “You seem to be quite the mystery.”

“Yes.” River agrees. “And you want nothing more than to meet the real me, yes?”

“Yes, I would find some pleasure in that.” Niska agrees. “I have numerous guards and you will not be able to fight them all.”

“I know.” River says. “But I will kill anyone who comes near her.”

“Then I believe we might have a problem.” Niska states.

“Yes, I believe we do.” River agrees. “You’re a business man. I have a business proposal for you.”

“Yes?” Niska asks.

“Kaylee is to remain untouched.” River states. “Nobody comes in this room, nobody touches or comes near her in anyway.”

“And why would I do this?” Niska questions.

“Because I will give you the chance to meet the real me.” River answers. “I won’t fight you in anyway.”

River walks over to where Kaylee is sitting a few feet behind the dead man, while still keeping most of her attention on the men at the door.

“River, ya can’t do that.” Kaylee whispers. “He’ll torture ya.”

“I know.” River says. “Kaylee, there’s nothing that Niska can do to me that the academy hasn’t already done. But you won’t be able to handle that.”

“I know.” Kaylee whispers, tears filling her eyes again. “I ain’t strong like you.”

“It’s okay Kaylee.” River assures her. “You are my friend, the only real one I’ve ever had. I owe part of being better to you, you made me want to be a real girl, like you. I can take this for you.”

Kaylee just nods, wrapping her arms around her knees, tears falling down her face.

River turns to stand in front of Niska. “Do we have a deal?”

“Your terms are agreeable.” Niska says. “She will remain untouched, though I will keep a guard stationed at this door. You will come with us and we will began.”

River nods and follows them out the door, one of the guards behind her. Dashing over to the keyboard outside the door, she takes the cover of and fiddles with the inside. “Just in case one of your men gets different ideas, I changed the entry code.”

“I believe you will be a challenge, yes.” Niska says, a sadistic smile on his face.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Niska?” Inara gasps. “How do you know that?”

“What he said when he started torturing me.” Mal answers. “Some book he was quoting, don’t quite remember what he said or what he meant.”

“I believe he means he wanted to see who you really are when faced with the certainty of death.” Book says. “It’s actually a good thing.”

“How’s them facin death a good thing?” Jayne growls, clenching his fists.

“It means he’s not going to kill them.” Book answers. “He can’t learn anything from their death, only the pain leading up to it.”

“Preacher’s right.” Mal agrees. “He ain’t gonna kill em, at least not for a while.”

“What’re we doin?” Jayne asks. “Why we still sittin here?”

“Why do you care?” Simon asks angrily. “I figured you would be happy to finally have the chance to get rid of the ‘moonbrain’.” Simon starts to say more when he’s cut off by Jayne’s fist slamming into his face.

Jayne draws his arm back to hit Simon again when Zoe grabs his fist. “Let me go.” Jayne growls.

“Jayne now isn’t the time.” Zoe quietly says. “Go on down to the bay and start unloading the cargo and then check how we are on weapons.”

Jayne looks like he’s going to argue but quickly turns and leaves the infirmary, pushing Mal and Book out of his way.

“Simon, I know you’re upset, but there’s no need to take it out on Jayne.” Zoe says. “It’s not his fault.”

“No, I believe that would lie with the captain.” Simon states. He knows he’s being an asshole, but he’s so scared.

“Simon.” Zoe warns.

“No, Zoe’s he’s right.” Mal says quietly. “I let them go. Sides, it was my idea to deal with Niska in the first place.”

“I talked you into letting them go.” Inara says quietly. “I convinced you that they would be fine, even though you really didn’t want to let them go. It’s my fault they were taken.”

“I’m still the captain, Inara.” Mal argues. “I let them go.”

“Bi zui.” Zoe yells. “We don’t have time for this. We need to figure out where they are and get them back. We can place blame later.”

“You’re right.” Mal agrees.

“I know.” Zoe says. “Wash, go get us in the air. Sir, why don’t you and Book go up with him and check the cortex for something.”

“What Zoe?” Mal asks. “What should we be looking for?”

Zoe opens her mouth to reply but doesn’t know what to tell him.

“Tax files.” Simon answers.

“Huh?” Mal asks.

“From what you said before, Niska is very concerned with his reputation.” Simon replies. “I’m going to guess he doesn’t just mean the illegal ones. He will most likely want to put up a good front for the Alliance, to better hide his wrong doings. Which means he’s going to be a tax-paying citizen.”

“You’re probably right.” Book agrees.

“So, going by that, he will probably have tax records of all his properties.” Simon continues. “If we can find the tax records, we can use those to find his properties and their blueprints.”

“How do you suggest we get into tax records, son?” Book questions.

“River is not the only one who can hack into restricted files.” Simon says. “I’m nowhere near as talented as her, but I should be able to access tax records.”

“Shiny.” Mal says. “Doc, ya’re joinin us on the bridge.”

“What about Inara?” Simon questions.

“I’m fine.” Inara says.

“I’ll help her get dressed.” Zoe says.

Mal nods at his first mate and then leaves the infirmary, the rest of the men following him.

Zoe grabs Inara’s dress and helps the companion put it on. Grasping Inara’s arm, Zoe slowly pulls her to her feet and leads her out of the infirmary.

“We aren’t going to the bridge?” Inara asks, when Zoe starts walking towards the bay.

“Going to talk to Jayne.” Zoe answers.

Nodding her head knowingly, the two make their way to the cargo bay.

When they arrive in the bay, Jayne is on the weight bench, his face cradled in his hands.

“Jayne.” Zoe quietly says.

“What?” Jayne growls, not looking up.

“You’ll get her back.” Zoe says.

Jayne turns to look at her in shock. “What?”

“You’ll get her back.” Zoe restates.

“Whadda know?” Jayne asks.

“Nothing.” Zoe answers. “I haven’t heard or seen anything that can be seen as inappropriate, which is why I haven’t said anything. But that doesn’t mean I don’t suspect something.”

“Why ain’t ya thrown me out the airlock or somethin?” Jayne asks, in shock. He figured Zoe’d be first in line to kill him if she suspected somethin.

“Because I know River isn’t a child and anything that happened between you two would be mutual.” Zoe says.

“And we know that you care about her.” Inara adds. “I can see it in your eyes every time she walks into the room.”

“Anybody else notice?” Jayne asks, not really caring. He’s done hidin it.

“Mal suspects.” Zoe replies. “He was going to talk to you about it.”

“I’m done hidin it.” Jayne says. “If I get her back I ain’t lettin her go. And if I don’t get her back, then it don’t matter. Nothin will.”

Inara stares at him, knowing nothing she can say will make him feel better.

“How’d ya do it?” Jayne whispers.

“Do what?” Zoe questions.

“Back when Niska got Mal and Wash ya acted like nothin was really wrong, that he didn’t have your husband.” Jayne answers. “Ya acted like such a stone-cold bitch, like there weren’t a chance Wash was already dead. When ya went to make the exchange ya could have just as easily been pickin up some cargo.”

“You can’t focus on her, you have to focus on what needs to be done.” Zoe answers, not insulted by what he said; it was the truth. “If you don’t you’ll never make it through.”

“Don’t know if I can.” Jayne replies. “I feel like I’m comin part at the seams. I don’t know if’n I can handle this.”

“You can.” Inara says. “You have no other choice. You’re stronger than this Jayne.”

“We all saw what he did to Mal and Wash. She’s ain’t crazy no more but what if’n I get her back, who’s to say she won’t be like she was when they first got on this ship.” Jayne whispers. “That she won’t forget everythin we’ve done, won’t forget bout me.”

“Won’t happen.” Zoe says firmly.

“Ya don’t know that.” Jayne growls. “He’s probably torturin them as we speak. What’s to keep her from slippin back.”

“You.” Inara answers. “She’s got you to bring her back now. She’s better because of you.”

Jayne doesn’t say anything, just sits there staring at his hands.

“What’s goin on?” Mal asks, coming into the bay to see Jayne sitting on the weight bench with Inara and Zoe standing in front of him.

“Nothing.” Zoe answers. “Jayne was just bout to tell us how we’re doing on weapons.”

“We’ll get to that later.” Mal says. “Simon’s found something, thought ya should be up there to see it.”

They follow Mal up to the bridge to see Simon and Wash arguing over some blue prints on the cortex.

“It’s the most logical place.” Wash says. “It’s close enough to Para for us to have showed up on his radar. That’s probably how he knew we were here.”

“I know, but it’s not that big.” Simon replies. “Do you really think he’d take them there?”

“Yes.” Wash answers. “It may be small, but it’s got one thing that his last station didn’t have.”

“What’s that?” Jayne asks.

“Sensors.” Wash and Simon both answer.

“The landing dock are less advanced; they’re more like parking lots than anything else.” Wash explains, pointing to the areas hanging off the side of the station. “Getting on there is going to be a lot easier than his other station. We won’t even have to blow seals off any doors. Jayne’s got enough firepower to blow one of the side doors open.”

“What’s the problem then?” Zoe asks.

“Like we said, sensors.” Wash answers. “The moment we touch down, they’ll know. Doesn’t seem like he’s got a strong surveillance system. Simon here should be able to mess with it enough so they won’t see us too clearly, make it look like they’re just having technical problems. That is if he’ll bring himself to hack into Niska’s system.”

“He will.” Mal answers.

“It’s not going to matter.” Simon says. “I can hack into his system but he’ll still have the sensors. He may not see us clearly but he will know when we land.”

“Doc’s right.” Wash agrees. “We can try and find another way……”

“It’ll work.” Jayne says.

“What?” Wash asks, confused. “Didn’t you just hear what we said? He’ll know when we land.”

“I know.” Jayne says. “Which is why it’ll work.”

“What do you mean, Jayne?” Zoe asks.

“Sensor goes off when someone lands, right?” Jayne says.

“Yes.” Wash says.

“What if’n two ships land at the same time?” Jayne asks. “Sensor can only go off once. Wash lands Serenity on one of the docks while Zoe, Mal, and me land a shuttle on one of the others. If video is all blurry, they shouldn’t notice the shuttle. We can use Serenity as a diversion.”

“Wode tian, he’s right.” Wash exclaims. “Sensor will go off only once. If the video is blurry enough they might not notice the shuttle.”

“Then, ya can pull Serenity off once they turn the alarm off.” Jayne says. “We go in, get the girls, then fly the shuttle back to Serenity.”

“The sensor won’t go off once Serenity’s gone?” Mal asks.

“Nope.” Wash says. “It only goes off when someone lands. Once they turn it off, it won’t go off again until someone else lands.”

“Alright, looks like we might have a workable plan.” Mal says. “How far are we?”

“Couple hours, want me to push it, shave some time off that?” Wash asks.

“Will we have enough fuel to make it back?” Mal asks.

“Yeah, River was right. We have enough to make it back to Grande.” Wash answers. “It’ll be more than enough to rescue them and make it to a fuel station.”

"Push it." Mal orders. Jayne stands up, turning to leave. "Jayne?"

“Gonna go get the weapons together.” Jayne says, leaving the bridge.

“Think it’ll work, sir?” Zoe asks.

“It has to.” Mal answers. “We’re gettin em back.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“She hates you.” River tells Niska, right before he turns a knob, making volts of electricity course through her body. She’s lost count of how many volts a few turns ago. He had her back against a metal rod, her arms tied behind her. Her shirt was ripped open, leaving her front bare except for the red bra she’d just bought. There were five pads that were delivering the electricity applied to various spots on her chest.

“Hmmm.” Niska responds, raising an eyebrow at her. It was the first sound she’s made in the hour he’s been torturing her.

“Your wife.” River pants. “She hates you. Only married you so you’d pay off her family’s debt.” He turns the knob again and her body convulses. “She lied to you.”

“How?” Niska asks.

“She’s not barren.” River answers. He turns the knob again, then after a few seconds stops it. “She had an operation, didn’t want to have your child.”

Niska turns the knob again, this time leaving it on longer than any other time.

“But you know this.” River whispers. “It’s why you don’t sleep in the same room with her, why when you fuck her, there’s always a guard standing by the bed. She’ll kill you if she gets the chance.”

Niska angrily backhands her.

“Poor little boy.” River says, mimicking Niska’s accent. “Mommy left, daddy was never there. None of the other children in the orphanage liked you. Then you grew up and got money and lots of shiny toys. Surrounding yourself with men who would have beat you up when you were little.” Niska turns the knob again for even longer than the last time.

“New surroundings.” River pants out, still using Niska’s accent. “But it doesn’t change anything. Deep down, you’re still the same little boy nobody wanted to play with. That’s the real you.”

Niska removes the pads from her chest and then brings out something new.

“I think we should try something new, no?” Niska says, placing the object on her stomach. “Your Mr. Reynolds enjoyed it greatly until he died.”

He flips a switch and for the first time River expresses the pain she is feeling by letting out a deep groan. It feels like something is trying to pull her stomach inside out. With another groan, River gives into the pain she is feeling and passes out.

When she awakens, she’s lying on a table with Niska and his bodyguard looking down at her.

“You passed out my dear.” Niska admonishes.

“I was bored.” River croaks out.

“You are a pretty little thing.” Niska says. He runs his finger down her check to travel down the side of her breast. “I shall take great pleasure in you, I think. But that will have to wait until you have recovered somewhat, no? Can’t have you passing out halfway through, it’s less pleasure that way. Now, I believe is the time for you to return to your little friend. We will try more later, yes?”

Niska’s bodyguard comes and drags her off the table, pushing her down the hall. River stumbles to the engine room and presses the code to open the door, holding her hand over the pad so the man behind her can’t see the password. Opening the door, she walks through, Kaylee jumping up to great her. River closes the door and then promptly passes out.

~*~*~*~*~*

Jayne finishes getting Vera’s ammo ready and starts placing the rest of the guns he prepped in various spots on his body. Grabbing the knife River gave him, he straps it to the outside of his left thigh. He turns to leave his bunk when a flash of white catches his eye. Reaching under his pillow, he grabs River’s panties and gently fingers them. Placing them in his pocket, he grabs Vera and climbs up the ladder.

When he arrives in the bay, he sees Mal arguing with Simon.

“Doc, I understand why ya wanna go but we can’t risk ya gettin hurt.” Mal says.

“I’m not saying I want to help rescue them, I know I would only slow you down.” Simon explains. “I just want to sit in the shuttle. They may need immediate medical attention. We don’t know what shape they are in, the few minutes it’s going to take to fly the shuttle back to Serenity could be crucial.”

“Fine.” Mal agrees. “You’ll lock the shuttle after we leave and not unlock it until we get back, dong ma?”

“Agreed.” Simon says.

Jayne walks over to them and hands Simon a gun.

“I can’t….I don’t know how to use this.” Simon replies.

“I rigged it.” Jayne says. “Put a laser sight on it. Won’t take no skill. Point the laser at whatever ya wanna shoot and pull the trigger.” Jayne grabs the gun back to show him the laser, pointing it onto one of the crates.

“Thanks.” Simon says, taking the gun back. “About what I said earlier……”

“Don’t wanna talk bout it.” Jayne growls. He turns around and heads to the spare shuttle.

“Book, I want you to wait bout 10 minutes after we land and then have Wash take Serenity off the station.” Mal orders. “Don’t wanna have to worry bout them tryin to take over Serenity. We’ll meet ya in the air once we get em back.”

“Okay.” Book says, heading back to the bridge where Wash and Inara are currently sitting.

“Alright, Zoe, let’s go.” Mal says. When they get into the shuttle, Zoe takes the driver’s seat and preps the shuttle for departure.

“Alright, Zoe, you guys can release.” Wash says over the intercom. “We have to time this perfectly.”

Niska’s space station comes into view. It’s not even a third the size as the one Niska took Mal and Wash to. Serenity moves towards the main landing dock while Zoe flies the shuttle to one of the smaller ones off the side.

“Land in 10 seconds.” Wash says. Counting down from 10, Serenity and her shuttle touch down at the exact same time.

Jayne’s the first out, moving to the side door without waiting for Zoe and Mal.

“Stay here and lock the door.” Mal orders Simon and then turns to follow Jayne.

Jayne’s standing in front of the door, Vera pointed at the lock. Pulling the trigger, he blows the lock off and then kicks the door open.

Walking in the door, Jayne raises Vera again and kills the two guards standing by the door.

“Gotta say Jayne.” Mal comments. “That’s a fine weapon.”

“She does good.” Jayne replies. He continues walking down the hallway until they come an intersection.

“All right. Jayne you go forward, Zoe you take left, I’ll go right.” Mal orders. “Ya find the girls, take em back to the shuttle. Then come back and get the rest of us. They’re the main priority.”

Zoe and Jayne both nod and then head in their appointed directions.

~*~*~*~*~*

Kaylee holds River’s head cradled in her lap. She don’t know how long they’ve been here; it feels like days though she knows it can’t be but a couple hours. River ain’t woken up since she stumbled in here and Kaylee’s startin to get scared, well more scared than she already was. She knows captain’ll come and get em but she’s fraid Niska’ll be back for River fore then. She’s bout to try and wake River again when she sits up quickly, her eyes darting around the room.

“River?” Kaylee questions. “Ya okay?”

“He’s close.” River whispers. “He’s coming to get me back.”

“Simon?”

“No, Simon isn’t part of the rescue mission, he’s staying behind to fix us.” River replies.

“Cap’n then.” Kaylee says. “Knew he’d come.”

“Mal’s coming but I wasn’t referring to him.” River says.

Kaylee stares at her for few seconds and then her eyes go wide. “Jayne, ya talkin bout Jayne?”

“Yes.” River answers.

“Why would Jayne……” Kaylee starts and then her eyes widen even more. “There’s somethin goin on ‘tween you two, ain’t there?”

“Yes.” River replies.

“Wow.” Kaylee says. “How long, why didn’t ya tell me?”

“A little while.” River answers. “I didn’t think it was fair to put you in the position of having to lie to Simon and the cap’n.”

“Can’t believe you two hid it from everyone.” Kaylee comments. “Is it serious?”

“I love him.” River answers.

“Wow.” Kaylee gushes. “Anybody else know?”

“Cap’n suspects.” River answers. “Inara and Zoe made a bet about how long it will take until we get caught. Zoe’s going to win.”

“I still can’t believe ya’re Jayne’s girl.” Kaylee says in awe.

“His kitten.” River corrects. “I’m his kitten and he’s my Jayne.”

“Kitten?” Kaylee questions.

“It’s what he calls me.” River answers.

An alarm goes off startling Kaylee. “What’s that?”

“They’re here.” River says. River stands up quickly and moves over to the engine. She climbs on top of it and then jumps up towards the ceiling, pushing a vent out of her way. Grabbing onto its edge, she pulls herself up into the heating duct.

“River?” Kaylee questions.

“Climb onto the engine.” River orders. “We need to meet them. They’ll never make it to us unharmed.”

Kaylee climbs onto the engine and then looks up into the opening. “River I can’t jump that high.”

River puts her hands down through the opening. “Grab my hands and I’ll pull you up.”

Kaylee reaches up to grab River’s hands and then is slowly pulled into the air. “Don’t drop me.”

“I won’t.” River braces her legs on the sides of the duct and slowly moves backwards, pulling Kaylee with her. It takes a few minutes but eventually the top portion of Kaylee’s body is in the duct. River lets go of her hands and moves down to grab her waist to pull her the rest of the way in. Turning back around, River starts crawling through the duct, Kaylee right behind her.

“Ya know where ya’re goin?” Kaylee questions when River moves straight instead of turning down one of the side ducts.

“No.” River answers.

“Then why’d we go this way stead of turning?” Kaylee asks.

“Following Jayne.” River replies. “He’s this way.”

“How’d ya know that?”

“I can feel him.” River says.

“Ya can feel him?” Kaylee questions. “What’s he feel like?”

“Butterflies in my tummy, shivers up my spine.” River replies. “Warmth. I was always so cold, frozen. Jayne makes me feel warm.”

“Keep talkin.” Kaylee says. “Don’t like bein in here, its feels confinin. Tell me how ya guys started.”

The next few minutes are filled with River’s stories about her and Jayne.

“He used part of Vera?” Kaylee asks, shocked. “He loves that gun.”

“I know.” River replies.

Kaylee starts to ask something else when River stops suddenly. “What?” Kaylee asks.

“He’s under me.” River answers. River pushes on the vent in front of her, making it fall to the ground. Placing her hands on the edges, she flips forward, dropping herself to the ground.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Jayne knows she’s somewhere close. He can feel her. He’s bout to turn down another hallway when something drops behind him. He turns quickly and then drops Vera, reaching out to pull River into his arms.

“Kitten.” Jayne whispers, pulling her chin up to drop a gentle kiss on her lips. “Ya okay? Course ya’re not. Say somethin.”

“Jayne.” River whimpers, burying her head into his shoulder.

Jayne hugs her closer pressing kisses to the top of her head.

“Guess you found her.” Zoe says coming up behind them. “Jayne, you have to let her go now.”

“Why?” Jayne growls, pulling River closer.

“Mal’ll be here in a few seconds.” Zoe answers.

“Don’t care.” Jayne says.

“This isn’t how he needs to find out.” Zoe says. “You need to wait until we’re all safe and the girls have been checked out.”

Nodding heavily, Jayne slowly moves away from River, reaching down to pick up Vera.

“I heard something.” Mal says coming up towards them. “Did you find……where’d she come from?”

Before anybody can answer, Kaylee pokes her head out and says, “Hi’ya cap’n.”

“What the….” Mal mutters, looking up. “Whadda ya doin up there?”

“Escaping.” Kaylee says. “I ain’t all acrobatic like River. I’m gonna need help down.”

“Take Vera.” Jayne says, handing her to River. “Alright Kaylee, hang your legs out and drop down, I’ll catch ya.”

“You better.” Kaylee says. Hanging her legs over the edge, Kaylee pushes her body forward, dropping down into Jayne’s waiting arms. “Thanks Jayne.”

“No problem.” Jayne says, taking Vera back from River.

“All right, let’s go.” Mal says. The group moves down the hall; Mal, River, Jayne, Kaylee, and Zoe in that order.

“Right.” River says, touching Jayne’s arm. Jayne pulls Vera up and lets off a shot, killing the guard to the right of him. “Again.” River says. Jayne lets off another shot to the right, killing another guard. They continue this way for the next few minutes, River telling Jayne where the guards are and Jayne shooting them. They make it an open doorway a couple hundred yards from where the shuttle is parked, when shots are fired at them. Mal pulls River off to the side with him while Jayne pushes Kaylee and Zoe in the opposite direction.

“You two okay?” Jayne asks.

“We’re fine.” River answers for Mal. “You three okay?”

“Yeah.” They answer.

“Can ya see anything Jayne?” Mal questions.

“No.” Jayne replies. “You?”

“No.” Mal says. “How’s it that we manage to break in here, find em, and then get caught tryin to escape.”

“It’s our luck.” Jayne replies. “How many do ya think are out there?”

Before Mal can respond, River moves behind him and then sticks her head out into the open hallway, looking around quickly.

“Gorramit, git your head back now.” Jayne yells at her.

“Can’t look, can’t look.” River whispers. She presses her face into Mal’s back, wraps her left arm around his waist, and her right arm around his, putting her finger over his on the trigger of his gun.

Mal opens his mouth to ask what she’s doing, when she throws them across the open doorway, moving his arm in various positions, pulling 5 shots off as they land.

“What the gorram hell are ya doin?” Jayne yells.

River reaches her arm up and grabs the knife strapped to Jayne leg. Standing up quickly, she throws the knife, killing the remaining guard. “They’re gone.” River whispers. She moves into the hallway despite Jayne and Mal’s yelling and pulls the knife out of the man’s chest, wiping the blood off onto his pants. Moving back to the group, she reattaches Jayne’s knife and then turns to look up at him.

“Jayne.” River whispers.

“What?” Jayne growls. He’s never been so scared as he was in the last 2 minutes, she was gonna cause him to have a heart attack or somethin.

“Catch me.” River says before passing out.

Jayne drops Vera to the ground to grab River before she hits the ground. Scooping her up, he cradles her to his chest. “Let’s go.” Jayne says, moving down the hallway.

“Jayne.” Mal calls out.

“What?”

“Did ya forget something?” Mal questions.

“No, we got the girls.” Jayne says.

“What bout Vera?” Mal asks.

“Forgot bout her.” Jayne replies. “Grab her will ya?”

Mal picks the gun up, shocked that Jayne forgot about her. He treats the gun better than anything else.

Zoe moves in front of Jayne to cover him and River. Mal pushes Kaylee in front of him, guarding her. They quickly make their way through the hallway, stepping over the bodies of the guards River used Mal’s arm to shoot. Looking down at each guard, Mal sees where she’d shot them, right between the eyes. Every gorram one of them were shot between the eyes.

“Qu tamade.” Mal exclaims.

“What?” Jayne growls. “Someone else comin?” Jayne starts to move River around so’s he can grab a weapon.

“Her face was pressed into my back.” Mal whispers. “She shot them between the eyes without lookin.”

“I told ya.” Kayee says.

“Yeah but hearin and seein are two different things.” Mal replies.

They make it to the shuttle without running into anymore guards. “Doc, open up.” Jayne yells.

Simon unlocks the door and pushes it open quickly, his gun still held in his hand.

“What happened?” Simon asks, seeing Jayne holding his sister.

“She passed out.” Jayne answers, gently laying River on the ground for Simon to examine. Simon sets his gun down and grabs his medical bag. He starts pulling out equipment and starts examining her.

Jayne grabs Vera out of Mal’s hands and starts out of the shuttle.

“Where’d ya think ya goin?” Mal growls.

“Ending this.” Jayne growls back.

“Gorramit, Jayne we need to get back to Serenity.” Mal says.

“Doc is checkin her out.” Jayne argues. “Probably be easier here then when we’re flyin back to Serenity.”

“Jayne’s right.” Simon agrees. “It will be easier for me to examine her when we’re not moving. I brought a lot of my equipment with me, I should be able to figure out what was done to her in 15 minutes.”

“Ya wanna hafta worry bout him grabbin someone else?” Jayne questions.

“Sir, Jayne’s right.” Zoe says. “We need to kill him.”

Mal grabs the gun Simon had put down and hands it to Kaylee. “Lock the shuttle, if we’re not back in 15 minutes, take the shuttle out of here, dong ma?”

Kaylee takes the gun, nodding.

Mal follows Jayne down the hall, the large man storming through the station with one thing on his mind, killing Niska. They haven’t run into any more guards, they must have already killed most of em. Suddenly, Jayne raises Vera and lets out a shot.

“Where’s Niska?” Jayne growls down at the man he just shot in the knee.

“Not sayin,” the man growls.

“Then I’ll just keep shootin off body parts until ya change your mind.” Jayne threatens, shooting the man in the other leg. He starts to shoot him again, when the man groans and holds up a hand.

“Down the hallway, third door on the left.” He says.

“Thanks.” Jayne says, putting a bullet through the man’s face. Jayne steps over his body and starts down the hallway, Vera pointed in front of him.

Mal looks down at the dead man for a second before following Jayne, Zoe at his right side.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“I’m sorry sir.” Niska's bodyguard says. “We don’t know what’s wrong with the security. All the monitors are coming up blurry, we think it might be a glitch in the feed.”

“Why did the sensors go off?” Niska questions.

“Serenity touched down, but they left before we got out there.” He answers.

“Yes, Mr. Reynolds was checking on his crew.” Niska says, smiling. “He will be back, yes. Station more men by the doors. They will not come in without us knowing first.”

The man opens his mouth to say something else, when the door is blown open. Standing in the doorway is a large man holding a large gun. Coming up beside him are two people Niska recognizes.

“Mr. Reynolds, it seems you have once again fooled me.” Niska says. “I am thinking you are here for your crew members, yes.”

“We were.” Mal responds. “Already got em. Are you having problems with your security feeds, no?”

“Yes, but I am beginning to think you are to blame for that.” Niska frowns. “I am somewhat confused by how you are here. Did your ship not leave right after landing?”

“Yep, Serenity did.” Mal agrees. “But the shuttle we landed with is still out there.”

Niska reaches over to touch a com button when Zoe speaks up. “Not going to do any good. We’ve already killed most of your crew.”

Niska swallows heavily but refuses to show fear. “Mr. Reynolds, I have tortured a great many people in my time. Most do not last but a few hours. You were unlike anybody I have ever met. You held out longer than anyone else, until her. I have never met anybody with her strength. She would not scream. I think I would enjoy more time with her, no?”

Mal gets ready to respond when Jayne throws Vera down with a growl and stomps across the room to grab Niska. Picking the small man up with his left hand, Jayne pulls out a gun with his right and shoots the lone bodyguard before he can move. Then Jayne throws Niska across the room to bounce off the wall. Walking over, he kicks the man in the stomach, bouncing him off the wall again. Bending down, Jayne picks the little man up again and punches him in the face, breaking his glasses. Then he just keeps slamming his fist into Niska’s face over and over until his face is nothing but broken bones and blood.

“Jayne, I think he’s dead now.” Mal says. He’s in awe of Jayne’s behavior. He’s seen Jayne pissed but never like this. He looks like he’s running on nothing but rage.

“Not yet.” Jayne growls. With a twist of his hands, Jayne snaps Niska’s neck and drops his broken body to the floor. Without a word Jayne turns to leave the room.

“Jayne.” Mal calls out.

“What?” Jayne growls.

“Ya forgot Vera again.” Mal says, pointing to the gun still lying on the floor. Jayne walks back over and picks her up. “Ya also forgot the cash.”

“What cash?” Jayne questions.

Without replying, Mal walks over to grab the money sitting on Niska’s desk. Throwing it all in the lockbox on his desk, Mal turns to leave the room, Zoe and Jayne in front of him.

“Didn’t see it.” Jayne mutters. The three move back to the shuttle without any problems. They really must have killed his entire crew.

“Kaylee, it’s us.” Mal calls out. Within a few seconds the door is thrown open.

“He dead?” Kaylee questions.

“Yep.” Mal answers.

“Good.” Simon and Kaylee both respond.

Zoe moves into the pilot’s seat and starts up the shuttle. “Wash, we’re comin back.”

“Girls okay?” Wash asks over the com.

“Don’t know yet.” Zoe answers.

“You’re bout 10 minutes away.” Wash says. “Ya can dock, we’re ready for you.”

“See ya in a few.” Zoe says, cutting off the connection.

“How is she?” Mal asks Simon.

“She’s stable.” Simon responds. “Her body was subjected to enormous amounts of electricity. She will have a bruise on her face. There’s also a wound on her stomach, quite similar to the one you had Mal.”

“Qingwa cao de liumang.” Mal growls. “I can’t believe that sick bastard used that on her.”

“Used what?” Jayne growls.

“I don’t know what it was but I’ll never forget what it felt like.” Mal says. “Like someone cut various wounds into my stomach and then poured acid into em. Then nothing.”

“Ya passed out?” Kaylee asks.

“I died.” Mal answers.

“Ya what?” Jayne practically yells.

“Died.” Mal repeats. “He brought be back but I was dead.”

“She gonna be okay?” Jayne asks Simon. He refuses to think about what Mal just said. She was alive now; they’d deal with the rest later.

“Physically, yes.” Simon says. “But I’m afraid this might be another set back, mentally. I’m afraid she’s going to wake up just like she was when we got on Serenity.”

The group sits silently, waiting for Zoe to dock. Once the shuttle’s shut down, Jayne gently picks River up again, carrying her towards the infirmary.

~*~*~*~*~*~

It’s been almost 2 days since they rescued Kaylee and River. River hasn’t woken up yet and Jayne was close to losing it. He manages to catch a few minutes alone with her, Kaylee getting Simon to leave the infirmary, every once in a while.

He’s lifting weights when he sees Zoe walk into the bay. Putting the bar back on its holder, he sits up to look at her.

“What?” Jayne growls.

“She’s awake.” Zoe answers.

Jayne jumps up to run to the infirmary when Zoe places her hand on his chest.

“Let me go.” Jayne orders.

“She’s awake Jayne but she’s weak.” Zoe says. “You go storming in there, hell is going to be raised. She doesn’t need the extra stress of trying to defend your relationship, not yet.”

“I need to see her, touch her.” Jayne argues.

“Give me an hour.” Zoe says. “Once Simon’s checked her over, I’ll send him to bed.”

“What bout Mal?” Jayne asks.

“I’ll get him to go to bed too.” Zoe says. “Don’t put her through this, not now.”

“Fine.” Jayne growls. “I’m comin down there in an hour even if I got throw everyone out and lock the door to get near her.”

Zoe nods at him and leaves the bay. Jayne lays back down and starts lifting again, mentally counting until he can be with her.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Simon, I’m fine.” River whispers after he finishes examining her.

“Mei-mei, you’re not fine.” Simon replies.

“I’ll be fine, soon.” River says.

“What happened?” Simon questions. “What did he do to you?”

“It’s not relevant.” River whispers.

“River, I know it’s hard, but ya need to tell us.” Mal says.

“Don’t want to talk about it, not yet.” River replies. “Later, please.”

“Okay, little witch, ya can tell us bout when ya feel up to it.” Mal says.

“You need to go to bed.” River says.

“Hey, I’m still the captain.” Mal replies.

“You too, Simon.” River says, ignoring Mal.

“I can sleep here.” Simon replies.

“No.” River says.

“River, I don’t want to leave you alone.” Simon says.

“You’re hurting me.” River whispers.

“Shenme?” Simon questions, confused.

“Your worry and guilt, I can’t push it out.” River explains. “I can’t push it out and it hurts my head. Please, Simon, Mal just go to bed.”

“Simon, we’ll watch over her.” Inara says. “You haven’t slept in almost 2 ½ days. You’re not going to do her any good if you keel over from exhaustion.”

“Fine, but if she needs anything, I want you to wake me up.” Simon orders. He kisses River’s forehead and then leaves the infirmary. He’s asleep minutes after his head hits the pillow.

“You too, sir.” Zoe says. “You’ve been up just as long as Simon. I’ll take control, just go get some sleep.”

“Alright, but something happens, wake me up.” Mal agrees and then turns to Kaylee. “She’s awake now, little Kaylee. Tomorrow, your gonna tell us what happened, dong ma?” When Kaylee first refused to talk about what happened until River woke up, Mal was pissed. He tried to force Kaylee to talk but she just said she wasn’t saying anything without River.

“Okay.” Kaylee agrees.

River waits until she can tell Mal’s asleep before turning to Zoe. “Where is he? I need Jayne.”

“I’ll go get him.” Kaylee says, smiling down at River. Kaylee turns and runs through the hallway until she gets to the bay.

“What, Kaylee?” Jayne asks, not getting up from the weight bench. It’s only been bout 15 minutes since Zoe left.

“River’s awake.” Kaylee replies.

“I know.” Jayne growls.

“She wants ya.” Kaylee says. “Cap’n and Simon are sleepin.”

Jayne drops the dumbbell he was lifting to the floor and runs to the infirmary.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Zoe can hear Jayne coming down the hall, his footsteps heavy. He slides into the infirmary, barely making it in the door when River jumps off the table and throws herself into his arms, wrapping her entire body around his.

“It’s alright kitten.” Jayne whispers into her hair. He moves over to sit down on the sickbed she just vacated.

River just tucks her head into his chest. “I was so scared.” River whispers.

“I know kitten.” Jayne says. “So was I.”

River pushes on his chest and Jayne immediately lies down. She curls up on his chest, her face tucked into his neck. “I’m cold Jayne.”

He gets ready to ask for a blanket when Inara walks over and drops one on them. “Thanks Nara.”

“Your welcome Jayne.” Inara replies.

Zoe watches from the doorway slightly shocked. She knew Jayne cared bout her but didn’t realize it was this much. She can see Jayne whispering to her, running his hand up and down her back under the blanket, trying to comfort her. She can see River visibly calm down. Within a few minutes, her breathing evens out and she can tell River’s sleeping again.

“I’ve gotta head up to the bridge.” Zoe says. “Inara, Kaylee you want to join me?”

“Sure.” Kaylee responds.

“You’re stayin down here with her.” Zoe says, not even waiting for Jayne to respond, she already knows his answer. “Book went to sleep a couple hours ago, same with Wash. Mal and Simon should sleep for the next couple hours.”

“Thanks Zoe.” Jayne says. He hears the women leave. Kissing River’s forehead, he closes his eyes and gives into the sleep he’s been denying himself for the last couple days.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Hey doc.” Mal says when Simon walks into the mess the next morning. “Ya been down to see your sister yet?"

“Not yet.” Simon says. “Need some caffeine before I try getting her to talk.”

“I think I’ll join ya.” Mal says. “I know what’s she been through, might help her to wanna talk bout it.”

“Thank you.” Simon says, gratefully. “Book, would you join us too? She always seems comfortable around you.”

“Yes, I would be glad to help in any way.” Book says. The three men grab their coffee cups and leave the mess.

“Hey, where we goin?” Wash says when he practically runs into them.

“Check on River.” Mal answers.

“Mind if I join you?” Wash asks. “She sat with me when I was hurt, I want to sit with her.”

“Come on then.” Mal says.

The four men walk down the hallway right at the same time that Kaylee, Inara, and Zoe come down from the bridge.

“I thought you were sitting with River?” Simon questions. “Is she by herself?”

Zoe gets ready to reply but Simon just pushes past her, almost running to the infirmary, the entire group on his tail. He turns around the last corner and steps into the infirmary, coming to an instant stop, the rest of the crew running into him.

“What the gorram hell, doc?” Mal says. “Why’d ya stop?” Mal pushes around the rest of the crew to moves next to Simon. Looking towards the sickbed, his mouth drops open in shock.

Jayne is asleep on the bed, River on his chest. There’s a blanket covering the bottom portion of their bodies, but Mal can see Jayne’s arm curled possessively around her waist.

“You gorram chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo.” Mal yells.

~*~*~*~*~*

Chinese translations:
Bi zui: shut up
Wode tian: oh sky (means oh god)
Qu tamade: fuck that
Qingwa cao de liumang: frog-humping sumbitch
Shenme: what?
chusheng xai-jiao de xiang huo: animal fucking bastard
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