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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)sevangelFR1822121,019162444,9677 Nov 056 May 06No

Proper

Title: Proper
Series: A New Day Dawning
Author: Sevangel
Disclaimer: Not mine
Rating: R
FYI: Hey all, I'm not sure how long it's been since I last updated this story. Actually kinda fuzzy right now, I got brochitis (spelling?) again. But I have now figured out why I don't write pure Kaylee/Simon fics. They're just too damn sugary for me. I like my romance all growly and raw with a side of violence (not woman beating violence, just 'you try and touch my woman and I'm gonna kill you' violence). Which is why Rayne is my favorite pairing out of any verse. (Shocked that I can love a pairing more than Angel/Buffy, my old favorite pairing.) And now I realize I'm rambling, must be all the cold type drugs I'm on, sorry. On with the fic.

-

“Kaylee, why do you want to learn this?” Inara questions the mechanic.

“I would just enjoy learning it.” Kaylee answers.

Inara looks over at River who raises an eyebrow.

“Then we’ll learn.” Inara replies. She opens the box next to her hand and pulls out the set of flatware. “This is a shrimp fork.” Inara says, holding up the small fork. She sets the fork down and pulls out a slightly larger one. “This is a salad fork.” Inara continues to pull out silverware, telling Kaylee then name and purpose of each utensil.

“I don’t understand.” Kaylee says, furrowing her eyebrows. “Why’s.. why are there so many?”

“Each dish must have a separate utensil.” River replies. “One does not use the same fork for their entrée as with their salad.”

“Oh.” Kaylee replies. “Let me try.”

Inara hands the flatware to Kaylee and the mechanic sets them down on each side of her plate, trying to mimic the order Inara used.

“Almost Kaylee.” Inara says. “You switched the dinner fork with the salad fork.”

“Wanquan yuchun.” Kaylee mutters under her breath.

“Mei-mei, what’s wrong?” Inara questions.

“There is nothing wrong.” Kaylee replies. “I am fine.”

“You’ve been acting different every since you and Simon had sex.” River comments. “Even Jayne has noticed.”

“I have not been acting different.” Kaylee defends.

“She’s right.” Inara agrees. “I haven’t heard you say ‘ain’t’ in over a week. In fact, you’ve been noticeably quiet lately.”

“Is Simon not good at giving orgasms?” River questions.

“River!” Kaylee squeals, her cheeks turning pink.

“It’s what Jayne thinks.” River replies. “Said ‘doc must not know where to twist his wrench if’n little Kaylee’s actin’ so depressed’.”

Inara and Kaylee can’t help but laugh at River’s version of Jayne’s accent.

“Do you ever talk to Jayne like that?” Inara asks, thinking the large merc would probably freak out.

“Sometimes.” River replies. “When he’s being pigheaded. He doesn’t appreciate it very much.”

“I wouldn’t think so.” Inara agrees with a smile.

Kaylee looks between the two women in front of her, tears filling her eyes.

“Mei-mei, what’s wrong?” Inara questions quietly.

Kaylee just shakes her head.

“Is Simon being a boob again?” River questions.

“No.” Kaylee whispers. “He’s wonderful. I ain’t felt so happy as I do with him.” Her voice catches when she says ain’t and she starts crying harder. “That’s the problem. I’m afraid he’s gonna wake up and wonder what the gorram hell he’s doin’ with me.”

“Kaylee, you’re being silly.” River says with a small smile.

“No, I ain’t.” Kaylee argues. “Look at me. I’m an uneducated mechanic whose folks ain’t got no money. I’ve never been to any fancy places sides the party cap’n took me to and I didn’t fit in there. I ended up spendin’ the whole night with some men talkin’ bout boats. Simon is smarter than I’ll ever be and he’s all fancy and used to all them fancy girls.”

“Kaylee, I think you’re overreacting.” Inara replies quietly.

“You don’t understand.” Kaylee says. “You’re one of the classiest woman in the verse. Everythin’ bout you screams fancy and proper. River, you’re smarter than Simon and you might not be as proper as him but a person can still tell you’re upper class. Every movement you make is all-fancy, like a pretty dance or something. Even when you was all crazy, you still managed to move like you was dancin’.”

“We were both raised in different environments than you were.” Inara replies. “That doesn’t make us better than you; just more proper. I envy the way you live life, Kaylee. How you go after what you want regardless of what consequences might lay ahead. I could never be that free.”

“And I will never have the openness that you do.” River adds. “I will never look at a people and see the good that you do. I will never be able to handle being around people as easily as you or being physically close to anybody besides Jayne. I can handle hugging Simon or you or Inara. I can even kiss Mal or Book or Wash on the cheek but I will never be comfortable with it. I always feel on edge when somebody touches me besides Jayne.”

“Oh, River.” Kaylee says sadly. She couldn’t imagine that; she loves bein’ round people and she knows she’s a bit touchy-feely.

“It’s okay.” River assures her. “I’m not saying it makes me sick or anything, just sometimes makes me nervous.”

“What we’re trying to say is that you’re a wonderful, beautiful woman.” Inara says. “Simon is very lucky to have you, the real you, not this…”

“Pod person you’re trying to be.” River finishes. “Simon has dated core girls and debutantes. I have never seen him happier than he is with you.”

“You sure?” Kaylee whispers.

“Yes.” River replies. “You should talk to Simon about this.”

“Yes, I agree.” Inara says. “He has to be wondering what’s wrong with you.”

Kaylee starts to reply when there’s a knock on the shuttle door.

“It’s Zoe.” Zoe says. “Can I come in?”

“Yes.” Inara replies.

The shuttle door opens and the first-mate walks into the shuttle. She glances down at the table and then looks at the women surrounding it.

“Hope you’re not hiding real food in here.” Zoe comments. “Jayne will be highly upset.”

“They was just showin’ me the proper way to eat.” Kaylee replies.

“Why?” Zoe questions.

Kaylee shrugs.

“Kaylee, you don’t have to change for Simon.” Zoe says quietly. “If he asks you to then he’s not worth it.”

“We’ve been trying to tell her that.” Inara tells the solider. “I’m not sure if it’s working.”

“You know the main reason I stayed away from Wash for so long?” Zoe replies. Kaylee looks up at her and shakes her head. “Because I thought once he knew too much about me, he wouldn’t want to hang around.”

“That’s just crazy.” Kaylee says. “A blind person could see how much he loves you.”

“I know.” Zoe replies.

Kaylee stares at Zoe for a few seconds before realization flares through her eyes. “That’s what I’ve been doin’, ain’t it?” Kaylee whispers. “Bein’ so fraid Simon’s gonna run screamin’ away that I’ve been hidin’ who I really am.”

“Yes.” Zoe agrees with a smile. “Now, I’ve been asked to deliver a message. River, Jayne wants to know when 'ya’re gonna be done with all the girly bondin’ go se’.”

River rolls her eyes before standing up. “I better go before he becomes too grumpy.” River says. “I’m not certain that the captain has gotten completely over Jayne hitting him and I know Jayne is still a little upset that I was in Mal’s bunk.”

“But that was over a week ago.” Kaylee comments. “They still can’t be all pissed off bout it.”

“She’s right.” Zoe says. “Mal understands Jayne’s jealousy issues but doesn’t take kindly to being hit. And we all know how possessive Jayne is.”

“Yeah.” Kaylee agrees with a smile. “It’s all kinds of funny to see him get all growly at Mal or Wash or even Simon.”

“Yes it is.” River whispers.

“See now, I’m startin’ to wonder if’n you don’t do things to make Jayne get all growly.” Kaylee replies with a giggle. “I’m thinkin’ you like it when he gets all possessive.”

“Uh-huh.” River agrees, nodding her head rapidly. “I enjoy my Jayne’s different growls.”

“He’s got different ones?” Kaylee questions.

“Yes, many different ones.” River answers, holding her hands up to count them off. “His tired growl, hungry growl, mad growl, possessive growl, happy growl, grumpy growl, and lusty growl.”

“And you can tell the difference?” Zoe asks curiously. “Cause I’ve heard him growl in a couple of those moods and I can’t tell the difference.”

“I can tell.” River replies. “And now I’m going to go enjoy the last one. I will see you later.” With a wave of her hand and a twirl of her skirt, the genius is gone.

“Does anybody else think she just made Jayne sound like a bear?” Inara questions.

“Yep.” Kaylee replies. “And I’m guessin’ she’s his Goldilocks.”

-

River walks up behind the chair Jayne is sitting on and wraps her arms around him. “You requested to see me.” River whispers in his ear, her mouth rubbing against his earlobe.

“Damn right I did.” Jayne growls, standing up and turning to face her. “C’mon, kitten, we’re goin’ to bed.”

“But I’m not tired.” River replies, looking up at him innocently.

“Never said we was gonna sleep.” Jayne growls down, pulling her against him.

“Mmm..” River murmurs, wrapping her arms around his neck. She pulls his mouth down to hers, moaning against it when he pulls her tighter against his body.

“HEY!” Mal yells. “Jayne, take her to your bunk. Really don’t feel like gettin’ hit again if I accidentally see somethin’ I shouldn’t.”

Jayne breaks the kiss to lift his head up and glare at the men surrounding the table. “Let’s go, kitten.” Jayne growls, pulling her out of the mess by her hand.

“I swear that man would punch Book if he thought the Shepard was to lookin’ at her the wrong way.” Mal comments.

“Yes.” Simon agrees.

“Speaking of Book, has anyone heard from him?” Wash questions.

“Kaylee and River wrote him a letter.” Simon answers. “Jayne sent it through the post when we were planet side but I’m not sure how he’s going to know where to send his response.”

“River told him to send the letter to Cisum.” Kaylee replies. “Told him we’d be there by tomorrow.”

“How’d she know?” Mal questions. “I didn’t tell nobody but Zoe and Wash where we was headed.”

“She just knows.” Kaylee replies. “Where’d she go, anyhow? Thought Jayne wanted her.”

“They just left.” Wash says. “They started doing that touchy-feely thing, Jayne growled at us, and then they took off to his bunk.”

“He growled?” Kaylee asks.

“Yeah.” Mal replies. “Why?”

“No reason.” Kaylee replies. “Simon, ya wanna help me with the engine?”

“Sure.” Simon answers. He stands up and follows her out of the mess, his hand on her back.

Kaylee walks nervously to the engine room, replaying what Inara, Zoe and River told her. She knows she has to say something to Simon; she can’t go on acting like she has been. Simon’s hand rubs up and down her back and she can’t help the goose bumps she feels at the contact. Once they’re inside the engine room, she breaks away from Simon’s hand to move across the room.

“Kaylee, what’s wrong?” Simon asks softly.

Kaylee looks up at Simon before looking back down at her hands. “I ain’t proper.” Kaylee whispers.

“Shenme?” Simon replies.

“I ain’t proper.” Kaylee repeats. “I didn’t finish school, I ain’t ever been to any fancy places or been to any fancy parties, I don’t talk proper, and I’d rather spend my money on tools than books or art.”

“Where is all this coming from?” Simon questions, taking a few steps towards her.

“I just want ya to know who you’re with.” Kaylee replies. “I ain’t gonna change; I’ve been tryin’ and it ain’t workin’. This is who I am: an uneducated, poor, mechanic. I can’t ever change that.”

“Oh, baobei, is this why you’ve been so quiet since we made love?” Simon questions, pulling her against him with a small smile.

“I was just tryin’ to be proper.” Kaylee whispers against his neck. “Like them core girls you used to know.”

“You don’t need to change for me.” Simon says, holding her face between his hands until she’s forced to look at him. “I don’t want you to change. You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen..”

Kaylee cuts him off with a snort. “I know that ain’t true.” Kaylee cuts in.

“I’ve seen gorgeous women before.” Simon agrees. “I’ve even dated women more physically appealing than Inara…”

“This is supposed to make me feel better?” Kaylee gasps.

“I wasn’t finished.” Simon replies with a small smile. “But none of them compare to you. Your zest for life, your willingness to help anybody, the good that you see in everything; there’s a light to you that I’ve never seen in another person. The fact that you want to be with me makes me feel honored.”

Kaylee looks up at him with eyes full of tears, her mouth slightly open. “You mean that?” Kaylee whispers.

“Never meant anything more.” Simon whispers back.

Kaylee smiles brightly at him, throws her arms around his neck, and kisses him sweetly. “That was the sweetest thing anybody’s said to me.” Kaylee gushes.

Simon smiles against her lips before deepening the kiss. Walking her backwards, he gently lies her down onto the metal alcove before moving down on top of her. His hands slip beneath her shirt to rub gently against her stomach.

“We gotta shut the door.” Kaylee gasps. “Cap’n will have a fit if he walks in on us.”

“I think Mal has learned his lesson about walking into a room occupied by a couple without knocking.” Simon says as his lips move down her jaw. “If not, I’m sure he’ll learn soon.”

Kaylee giggles and starts inching the shirt up his chest. “Guess you ain’t as proper as ya seem.”

“What can I say?” Simon replies. “You bring out my adventurous side.”

-

Jayne bucks his hips upwards, his hands moving up to grasp River’s waist. “That’s it, kitten.” Jayne growls as she slams her body down on his. His hands move up her sides to cup her breasts, his fingers moving to pinch her nipples roughly.

“Ohhh..” River moans, arching her chest towards his hands. “Want to be on the bottom; need to feel your weight pressing down on me.”

Jayne flips them over with a growl, his mouth finding hers in a deep, wet kiss. His hands move down to force her knees apart and he growls again when she wraps her legs around his chest, right under his armpits.

River moans loudly as Jayne pushes deeply inside her. She can feel the muscles in her legs start to tense and she breaks the kiss to drop her mouth onto his shoulder, her mouth biting at the salty skin. She can feel the hair on Jayne’s chest rubbing against her belly and breasts and the sensations make her giddy. She tilts her hips further and her teeth clamp down tightly on his skin at the new depth.

“Gorram kitten.” Jayne growls, his eyes crossing at the new position. He opens his eyes and tilts his head to look into her eyes as she cums. He’ll never get tired of seein’ her like this; seein’ the pleasure filter across her face like a light. She bites down again and he groans as her teeth break his skin. He pumps erratically a few more times before emptying into her with a deep groan.

River unclamps her teeth and licks her lips, savoring the salty taste of Jayne’s sweat combined with the copper taste of his blood. She can feel him starting to roll over and tightens her leg’s grip.

“Kitten, ya gotta let me turn over.” Jayne mumbles. “My arms ain’t gonna hold me up no more and I’ll squash you.”

“Like feeling your weight.” River whispers.

“Loosen your legs, kitten.” Jayne orders.

She obeys with a sigh and allows Jayne to move onto his back, smiling happily when he throws a leg and arm over her body, dwarfing her body with his large frame. She traces the bite mark on his shoulder and can’t help but feeling a little guilty. Her fingers move down his chest to trace the scar she gave him, her fingers shaking as tears fill her eyes.

“Hey, now.” Jayne growls quietly, his hands tilting her face up to his. “No cryin’.”

“I hurt you.” River whispers.

“It’s in the past, kitten.” Jayne replies, his large hands cupping her face as his thumbs brush the tears off. “Don’t right mean a gorram thing now, dong ma? I don’t want ya feelin’ all guilty bout it.”

River nods shakily and presses a kiss against the scar before snuggling her head against his chest.

Jayne runs his hand through her tangled tresses, a contented growl rumbling his chest. “You find out what’s botherin’ little Kaylee yet?” Jayne questions. “Your brother bein’ a ‘boob’ again or what?”

“No.” River replies. “Kaylee was just feeling insecure. We fixed it.”

“That’s good.” Jayne murmurs. “Kinda freaky Kaylee bein’ all quiet and proper-like.”

“I know.” River agrees. “It’s not Serenity without an over-chipper Kaylee.”

“No it ain’t.”

-

Zoe takes the bowl of protein Mal is holding out to her and smiles softly when Kaylee and Simon walk into the mess holding hands. Kaylee smiles back before sitting down in the chair Simon is holding out for her. The silence of the moment is ruined by a high-pitched squeal followed by a loud growl.

“Gorramit kitten.” Jayne growls playfully, running into the mess after her. “I’m gonna get you for that. Ain’t right to be teasin’ a man like that.”

“It’s meal time.” River replies, dodging his arms with another squeal. She dashes around the table to hide behind Zoe and Mal.

“Whoa, I don’t want no part of this.” Mal says, stepping away from the genius. “Little witch, I’m startin’ to wonder if’n you don’t just enjoy makin’ Jayne all jealous.”

“Don’t be silly, captain.” River replies sweetly. She reaches up and pats his cheek with a grin.

The silence is broken with another growl, though this one not playful. “That ain’t at all ruttin’ funny.” Jayne growls, glaring at Mal as he pulls River away from the captain. “Gorramit kitten, I don’t wanna get fired cause I had to go and maim the captain.”

“Least she didn’t kiss him this time.” Kaylee comments.

“This time?” Jayne roars. “When did she kiss him before?” He pulls out a chair and plants River in it before looking up at the captain again. “Somethin’ I need to know bout?”

“I’m gettin’ ruttin’ tired of this jealousy thing.” Mal mutters. “Jayne, I ain’t now nor at anytime had romantic notions for River. Nor will I in the future. And I ain’t ever kissed her. I got no clue what little Kaylee is referring to and I’d take it as a kindness if everyone would stop assumin’ I’m some kinda of ruttin’ pervert or somethin’.”

“I wasn’t.” Kaylee defends. “I was just talkin’ bout the time she kissed all of you guys so you wouldn’t think it was a big deal that she kissed Jayne.”

“Oh.” Jayne mutters as he takes a seat next to River. “Guess I can’t do nothin’ bout that since we wasn’t together then. But no kissin’ or pattin’ the captain, dong ma kitten? In fact, it’d probably be best if’n you just avoided all physical contact with other men.”

River rolls her eyes but agrees with a nod. “I think you’re being overly jealous.” River says to Jayne. “I have no desire to have orgasms with the captain or any other man.”

Mal’s mouth opens and closes while Simon covers his face with a hand.

“Sides, she don’t like other people touchin’ her.” Kaylee says.

“What?” Simon questions, looking over at Kaylee.

“She told me and Nara that when anybody sides Jayne touches her, it makes her all nervous.” Kaylee explains.

“Is this true, mei-mei?” Simon questions quietly.

“Yes.” River answers. “I just…Jayne is the only person I feel completely safe with and the only person that has never bothers me when he’s touches me.”

“I bother you?” Simon asks.

“Sometimes.” River answers honestly. “I know you’d never hurt me but you are a doctor and you can’t help touching like one. It makes my skin crawl sometimes; reminds me too much of the academy.”

“Oh.” Simon mutters.

“Simon, don’t be upset.” River pleads. “I can’t help what my body feels. Doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

“I know.” Simon replies. “I love you too, mei-mei.”

“You ain’t gonna attack him?” Mal asks Jayne. “He just done told your girl he loved her.”

“It’s her gorram brother.” Jayne growls. “I ain’t gonna hit him cause he loves her, be more likely to him hit if’n he didn’t.”

“Thank you for that.” Simon says. He then turns to face Kaylee with a curious expression. “When did you talk about all this?”

“In Nara’s shuttle.” Kaylee answers. “Right before we talked. Nara and River was givin’ me lessons.”

“What type of lessons?” Mal questions.

“She wanted to know the proper way to eat.” Inara answers. “What utensil has what purpose and what course it goes with.”

“How many different utensils does a person need?” Mal questions, glancing down at the fork and knife in front of him.

“We didn’t eat a meal without at least 5 different pieces of flatware.” Simon replies.

“Five?” Wash questions, mentally counting the silverware that could be used. He comes up with three.

“A knife, a coffee spoon, a spoon for the meal, and at least 2 forks.” River replies. “If it was dinner time, there were a few more; a dessert fork, steak knife, dessert spoon.”

“That don’t make a bit of sense.” Jayne comments. “Who needs more than one fork?”

“Each utensil was only used once.” Simon answers. “It was taken back with whatever dished it was used on.”

“You’re saying your family used 20 pieces of silverware at each meal?” Zoe questions.

“At least.” Simon replies.

“Must have been a pain in the ass to do the dishes.” Mal comments.

“I suppose it was.” Simon replies. “But I wouldn’t know; I never did the dishes.”

“Not once?” Kaylee questions.

“No.” River answers for her brother. “The maids took care of all the cleaning. Simon never even washed his own clothes before coming on Serenity.”

“Thanks, mei-mei.” Simon mutters. “If they didn’t think I was uptight before now they really will.”

“How is it that you went all those years without washin’ clothes?” Mal asks.

“As River said, our maids took care of everything at home.” Simon answers. “Once I moved out, a cleaning service came by three times a week and cleaned my apartment.”

“I knew you came from money.” Mal says. “I didn’t realize it was that much. If you don’t mind my asking, how rich are your parents?”

“Father grossed 2.3 million credits last year.” River replies. “That’s just with accounting for the business he runs and not the various companies he owns stock in. Overall, he earned an income of close to 4 million credits last year.”

“That’s quite a chuck of change.” Mal replies a few moments later. “And I’m guessin’ you earned quite a bit doctorin’ on the core.”

“Yes.” Simon replies. “Though most of my accounts were frozen after I got River out, what I didn’t use to gain the contacts to get near her.”

“How much?” Jayne asks. “To get her out.”

“Counting in all the dead-ends and false leads, close to 600 thousand credits.” Simon replies. “It was about a third of my savings.”

“You saved up all that money?” Kaylee asks. “Didn’t you by stuff?”

“Simon was a workaholic.” River answers. “He spent all his time at the hospital. He never stopped to enjoy his money. Or his time on anything but work.”

“Thought you said you dated before.” Kaylee says.

“I did.” Simon replies.

River rolls her eyes. “That wasn’t dating.” River mutters. “It was the occasional night of sex gratified with material objects.”

“River.” Simon growls.

“Whores?” Mal questions. “You talkin’ bout whores?”

“No, of course not.” Simon replies. He glances at Kaylee before picking up his fork and poking at the protein in front of him. “I worked a lot of hours and my schedule would sometimes keep me from properly committing to a relationship. When I couldn’t keep a commitment I made, a suitable gift would be sent in place of my presence.”

“Ain’t that just a civilized form of whorin’?” Jayne grunts.

“It’s the way things are sometimes done.” River answers. “Most females from wealthy core families are more concerned with what their potential partner can buy them than anything else. Males are conditioned from birth that they must be able to provide their future spouses with the monetary life they were born into.”

“So basically you was workin’ so hard to provide a rich life for a woman you never met?” Jayne asks.

“Yes.” Simon replies.

“His wife’s dowry would have only been so much.” River says. “Their home purchase, day-to-day living, and other expenses would be Simon’s responsibility.”

“What’s a dowry?” Kaylee asks.

“A gift that is presented to the groom before marriage by the bride’s parents.” River answers. “It can be money, stock offerings, property or other such valuable offerings. Mine was to be partial stock ownership in my father’s business.”

“Does the bride’s parents get stuff too?” Kaylee questions curiously.

“The benefit of their daughter marrying into a family with a good name.” River answers. “It’s the reason my parents had a second child; I was to bring more prestige to the Tam family by marrying to a proper family on Persephone.”

“Thought you was from Osiris.” Jayne growls, not liking the the sudden turn of the conversation.

“I am.” River replies. “But the man my parents were planning on marrying me to is from Persephone.”

“Wait one gorram second, they had plans?” Jayne growls.

“Mei-mei, what are you talking about?” Simon questions.

“Father got and accepted an offer for me a few months before I left for the academy.” River replies. “I was to be wed once I graduated.”

“I don’t….they never told me.” Simon shakily whispers.

“They knew you wouldn’t approve.” River explains.

“Do you know who?” Simon asks.

“Yes.” River replies.

Jayne’s fists clench on top of the table as his jaw tightens with fury. “Who?” Jayne growls lowly.

“I never met him.” River replies. She moves out of her chair and into his lap, feeling his anger lessen as she cuddles into his chest. “But the captain has.”

“What?” Mal mutters. “I have?”

“Yes.” River responds, her hands reaching out to grab Jayne’s and wrap them around her. “He stabbed you.”

The table is silent until Inara manages to choke out a name. “Atherton?”

“Yes.” River answers.

“Your pa was gonna marry you off to that fay fay duh pee yen?” Mal growls.

“His family is one of the most prestigious families on Persephone.” River replies. “A joining with his family would help my father’s business be perminantly rooted there.” She turns and looks at Inara with a small smile. “Had I not gone to the academy, you would have become my husband’s mistress.”

“Yes.” Inara agrees quietly. “I just realized that.”

“Jayne, you’re squeezing too tight.” River whispers.

“Sorry.” Jayne murmurs, loosening his grip around her body. He stands up and gently sets her to the side. “I’m goin’ to my bunk.” He kisses River’s forehead absently before leaving the mess, his dinner plate completely untouched.

“Mei-mei, are you okay?” Simon questions, seeing the frown on her face.

“No.” River replies as she glances at her brother before walking out of the mess.

“I always thought it’d be all shiny clothes and fun parties to be from a rich family.” Kaylee says a few moments after River is gone. “It don’t sound like fun. Sounds like you ain’t nothing more than an object to your parents.”

“Money doesn’t make everything easier.” Simon replies. “Most of the time it just makes people want more and makes them willing to sell anything to get it.”

“It’s kinda a small verse.” Mal comments. “Who knew I’d ever end up stabbin’ what coulda been River’s husband. But now I’m kinda wishin’ I stabbed him a few more times.”

“So am I.” Simon agrees.

-

River climbs down the ladder into Jayne’s bunk quietly and can feel him staring at her. She looks towards the bed and sees him sprawled out on his back, his hands clenched at his sides. She walks slowly towards him and lies down on top of him, her stomach flush to his while her arms cross on his chest. She props her head on her forearms and stares back at him.

Jayne can feel his anger shrinking at her weight on top of him, his body starting to tense with a whole different feeling. He brings a hand up to rub against her cheek and smiles when she presses a kiss against his palm.

“I love you Jayne.” River says suddenly.

“I know that kitten.” Jayne replies.

“I don’t want to be a rich, society wife.” River says earnestly. “I never wanted to be one. I don’t care about what you can or can’t buy me; it doesn’t mean anything to me. You make me feel safe and warm and loved and special and real. That’s all that matters to me.”

“You deserve more.” Jayne growls.

River pinches his side.

“Gorramit.” Jayne growls.

“You’re being silly.” River growls back. “I deserve what I want. I want you.”

“I want you too, kitten.” Jayne whispers as he slides his hand into her hair and pulls her mouth down to his. “I ain’t ever wanted anything to way I do you. It ruttin’ scares me sometimes how much I need you. Don’t know what I’d do if you were gone.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” River assures him, her breath blending with his. “Not voluntarily. The only way I’m leaving you is if somebody takes me away and we both know you’d never let that happen. You’d kill anybody that tries.”

“Damn straight.” Jayne growls. “You’re mine and ain’t nobody takin’ you nowhere.”

“And you’re mine.” River purrs into his mouth, making him growl again. She smiles as the rumble in his chest changes from anger to her favorite, lust.

“Yep.” Jayne growls. “You ruttin’ caught me so’s now you get to keep me.”

“Whatever shall I do with you?” River questions, pulling back to look down at him innocently.

“You’re the gorram genius.” Jayne replies, pulling her mouth back down to his. “You’ll figure it out.”

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