Series: A new day dawning
Disclaimer: Not mine
“I say we draw straws.” Mal says to his crew.
“I think you should do it.” Wash replies.
“Wash is right.” Simon agrees. “You are the captain; it’s your responsibility to give orders.”
“You’re right.” Mal says. “That’s why I’m orderin’ you to go.”
“No.” Simon protests. “No, there’s no way I’m going.”
“I go and I’ll get hit again.” Mal points out. “And if’n he hits me again, I’m gonna shoot him and then your little sister’s probably gonna kill me. Zoe’ll shoot her and then you’ll probably give her some drug to take her down. Then Wash’ll just crash the boat, killin’ everyone else. Now, all this could be avoided if’n you would just follow my very simple order.”
“What makes you think he won’t hit me?” Simon asks, rolling his eyes at Mal’s over-dramatization.
“You’re her doctor.” Mal replies. “Chances are, you’ve seen her nekkid.”
“Kaylee, you can go.” Simon says. “He won’t hit you.”
“Do we gotta get em?’ Kaylee asks. “I think it’s romantic.”
Mal rolls his eyes. “It ain’t romantic.” He replies. “I meant they didn’t have to do no chores or nothin’ for a week. Didn’t think they would stay in their gorram bunk the whole time.”
“We’ll be landing on Boros shortly.” Wash points out. “Somebody has to go get Jayne since I’m fairly certain he will be needed.”
Mal sighs heavily and stands up. “Wait a second.” He stops and turns to Inara. “You ain’t bothered none by sex; you can go drag em out of their bunk.”
Inara glares at him.
“Zoe?” Mal looks to his first-mate.
“Not a chance in hell, sir.” Zoe replies.
“Fine.” Mal mutters. “Here I go, riskin’ life and limb cause ain’t a one of you carin’ enough to go for me.”
The gathered crew watches him walk towards the door.
Mal places his foot on the bottom step and turns to face his crew. “A’right, Zoe, remember I don’t want no big funeral.” Mal says. “And I wanna be stuffed and left on the bridge.” He then turns around and lets out a high-pitched squeal.
“Hello, captain.” River says, smiling up at him.
“Gorramit, little witch.” Mal yells. “Don’t ruttin’ do that.”
“Sorry.” River pushes past him and sits down beside Kaylee.
Mal looks at River and then sticks his head out in the hallway. “Okay, I give?” He walks down the steps and moves in front of River. “Where’s Jayne?”
“He kicked me out.” River pouts.
“That gorram piece of go’se.” Mal shouts. “I knew somethin’ like this was gonna ruttin’ happen. Doc, go get them castratin’ tools.”
Simon stands up and starts to follow Mal out of the mess.
“Mal, I don’t think she meant it that way.” Inara says.
“What else could him kickin’ her out mean?” Mal asks, turning his head to look at Inara.
“Mei-mei, what happened?” Inara asks River softly.
“Jayne wanted to play with his other girls.” River replies, her arms crossing over her chest in a pout. “I tried to help but after we stopped to have sex three times, Jayne declared that I was too much of a distraction. He is supposed to be preparing for a job and couldn’t do that if I’m helping.”
“What’s so funny, little Kaylee?” Mal asks.
“Just think it’s funny that River distracts Jayne from his guns.” Kaylee replies. “I ain’t ever seen nothin’ distract Jayne from weapons.”
Mal moves back over to the table and sits down. “He kicked you out so he could get ready for the job?” Mal questions River.
“Okay, then, guess that ain’t so bad.” Mal replies.
“Captain daddy?” River says in a sweet, little girls voice, her eyes wide and bottom lip poking out.
“What?” Mal gruffly replies.
“Can I land the boat?” River asks.
Mal sighs and nods.
River squeals and jumps up to hug him when Mal holds out a hand to stop her.
“You just keep your distance.” Mal orders. “I like my face the way it is and if’n you touch me, we both know your…husband, gorram does that sound weird, is gonna rearrange it.”
River rolls her eyes and steps over to Wash. “You must supervise.”
Wash stands up and follows the genius out of the mess. “You’re not going to try and take my place, are you?”
“Don’t be silly.” River replies. “Nobody could take your place. You are one of a kind.”
“I am, ain’t I?” Wash agrees. “And so are you.”
“Well, Zoe, let’s go get the mule prepped.” Mal says, standing up.
Zoe stands up and follows Mal out of the mess without a word.
“Inara, how many students do you have lined up?” Simon asks.
“Five.” Inara replies. “I will be incredibly busy the entire time we’re here.”
“How are things goin’ with the cap’n?” Kaylee asks with a grin.
“I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.” Inara replies, grinning back.
“You do too.” Kaylee says. “You guys kiss yet?”
“As I’ve told you before, I don’t kiss and tell.” Inara replies.
“Oh, c’mon, Nara.” Kaylee whines. “The ruttin’ suspense is gonna kill me.”
“You’ll just have to wait.” Inara replies.
Kaylee leans back with a pout. “Been waitin’ almost two gorram years for Mal to make a move.” She mutters. “No wonder he’s so gorram grumpy.”
“Well, well, well.” Mal says upon seeing Jayne walk into the bay. “Ain’t seen you in a long gorram time.”
Jayne rolls his eyes.
“Heard you’re havin’ problems.” Mal grins. “Kickin’ your wife out after a gorram week, you oughta be ashamed.”
“She makes it impossible to get anything done.” Jayne protests. “Specially when she goes and picks up one of my girls. Ain’t nothin’ hotter in the verse than seein’ my girl holdin’ a gun.”
“That’s just weird.” Mal says. “You’re weird, Jayne.”
“Just ignore him, Jayne.” Zoe says. “He’s just jealous that you gotta girl and he still ain’t made a move yet.”
Jayne looks at Zoe, an eyebrow raised.
“Zoe.” Mal also raises an eyebrow, a little shocked at Zoe’s comment to Jayne.
“What can I say sir?” Zoe explains. “Us married folk gotta stick together.”
“And how do you know if I’ve made a move or not?” Mal says. “I don’t tell you everything.”
“If you made a move, you wouldn’t have found it so strange that they spent a week in their bunk.” Zoe replies.
“Gorram married folk think they know everything bout relations.” Mal mutters.
“Not everything.” Zoe says.
“Just more than you.” Jayne adds.
“I don’t think I’m likin’ this little bondin’ thing you two got goin’ on.” Mal says. “I think I liked it better when Jayne was makin’ lewd comments and you was threatenin’ to hurt him.”
The boat shudders and shakes roughly before Zoe can reply.
“What the gorram hell?” Jayne mutters, grabbing onto the mule to remain steady. “Zoe, what’s your husband on?”
“Ain’t my husband landin’.” Zoe replies. “It’s your wife.”
“Oh, shit, Mal you didn’t let her land the boat, did you?” Jayne asks, panic evident in his voice.
“Yeah.” Mal replies, starting to grow a bit worried. “I promised her I’d let her fly and she seems to know what she’s doin’, least I thought she did.”
“Oh, she knows how to land the boat.” Jayne agrees. “Cept she’s got this big theory on how she can land the boat without lookin’ or usin’ any of the censors. Says she can do it completely by the math or at least she thinks she can. I never thought you’d let her try.”
“She never said nothin’ bout closin’ her eyes.” Mal says.
“How’d you know?” Zoe questions.
“She told me.” Jayne replies. “Talked bout it for a good hour last night.”
“You guys talk?” Mal asks, a little confused by what they’d have to talk about.
“Course we talk.” Jayne says. “What, you think all we do is have sex?”
“Yeah.” Mal replies. “Can’t keep your gorram hands off each other in front of us. Figured when you was alone, it’d be worse.”
“Oh, it is.” Jayne agrees with a smirk. “But we do talk. Now, I don’t understand most of what she says but that don’t matter none to her. She just likes that I listen.”
“I can’t believe I’m gonna say this.” Zoe says, her eyes wide with shock. “But that’s bout the sweetest thing I’ve heard.”
Jayne glances away. “Yeah, whatever.”
The boat shakes again and Mal looks to Jayne. “Think I should go do somethin’?”
“Naw.” Jayne replies. “She ain’t gonna crash us. She ends up being wrong bout the math, Wash’ll make sure she don’t crash.”
“Yeah.” Zoe agrees.
“You’re right.” Mal says.
They remain in the bay although they don’t relax until the boat is safely, although not entirely smoothly, on the ground.
Jayne turns around to face the catwalks when he feels River comin’. She runs down the metal, her bare feet pale and blurry, she’s movin’ so fast. He grinds his teeth when she dives down the steps leadin’ onto the bay floor and then opens his arms when she flies at him. He stumbles back a few steps, his wife’s legs and arms wrapping tight around him.
“I did it.” River squeals happily, her face lit up. “I did it. I told you it would work and it did.”
“That you did, kitten.” Jayne agrees, smiling at her happiness.
“It was all in the numbers.” River starts spouting out equations and numbers to Jayne as though he understands.
Jayne listens intently, his forehead wrinkled in concentration, though he doesn’t understand a word of what she’s saying.
Simon walks into the bay right as River throws herself at Jayne. He smiles when she starts talking excitedly about numbers and figures though he’s completely lost after the first few seconds. Then he sees the way Jayne listens to her, nodding occasionally and looking directly into her eyes. He’s never been more grateful to the merc than he is now. She’s always been like this; getting so excited about a problem that she’s worked out that she talks to people like they’re going to understand what she’s saying. Their parents always cut her off after a few seconds and told her to write it down for her tutors. He knows it doesn’t matter to River that Jayne doesn’t understand; all that matters is that he’s listening to her.
It don’t make a lick of sense to him but he loves listenin’ to her talk. Her voice is bout the most soothing thing in the verse and he loves the expressions that cross her face. But her body touchin’ his is havin’ it’s normal effect and he cuts her off with a kiss.
“Mmmm.” River purrs, her train of thought trailing off at the feel of Jayne’s lips. She goes to deepen the kiss when Jayne pulls back.
“You just remember my place, kitten.” Jayne instructs, place her of her feet. “When I get back, we’ll finish where we left off and then you can tell me bout the rest of your calculations.”
“Promise?” River replies.
“Promise.” Jayne agrees, dropping a kiss on her forehead. Then he sends her towards Simon with a smack on the ass. “Now git or else this job’s gonna have to wait while we finish now.”
“Get in the mule, Jayne.” Mal orders, knowing they can’t be late for this meeting.
“Stay outa trouble and don’t go wonderin’ off.” Jayne says to River before looking up at Simon. “Doc, somethin’ happens to her and I’ll ruttin’ kill you, dong ma?”
Simon rolls his eyes. “She’s my sister; I’m not going to let anything happen to her.”
“See that you don’t.” Jayne replies. “Bye, kitten.”
“Bye Jayne.” River says, waving to him. “Be careful.”
“Oh, don’t worry, River.” Kaylee wraps an arm around River’s shoulder as they watch the mule drive away. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen.”
“I know.” River agrees. “They will not be shot.”
“That’s good.” Wash says. “Now, River, you wanna fly again, I don’t have a problem with that but next time, could you please keep your eyes open.”
River nods. “The experiment has been performed and the results will be recorded.” She says. “There is no need to retest the results.”
“That’s good.” Wash replies. “Cause as neat as it was, I don’t think my heart could handle it again.
River smiles at him before walking down the lowered ramp and onto the soft grass of the field they’re parked on. Spinning around in a circle, she raises her hands up in the air. “It’s going to storm.”
River stays in the same spot and in less than half an hour, a bolt of lightening flashes in the horizon. She smiles when the first drop of rain hits her forehead. Looking at the crew, she smiles. “Fresh rain brings new life.” Then she starts dancing; spinning in circles on perfectly balanced bare feet, a happy smile on her face.
“Gorramit, River Tam, get in here.” Simon yells for what seems like the hundredth time. He groans in frustration when River continues to dance in the pouring rain, her entire body soaked and muddy.
“She’s gonna get sick.” Kaylee says with a worried tone.
“I know.” Simon agrees, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “But what am I supposed to do? She won’t listen to me. I can’t physically force her to come in and if I sedate her, Jayne will probably kill me.”
“They’re on their way back.” Wash says, running into the bay. “She still won’t come in?”
“No.” Simon replies. “Are they okay?”
“Fine.” Wash says. “Job went good and they should be here any second. Jayne’s pissed.”
“I’ve tried everything I can think of to get her back in here.” Simon says. “There’s nothing more I can do.”
“She looks like she’s havin’ so much fun.” Kaylee comments, watching as River dances from one mud puddle to another.
“Don’t even think about it.” Simon says, seeing the wistful look on her face.
“You think you could stop me?” Kaylee asks with a grin.
“Yes.” Simon replies. “I could sit on you.”
“Dr. Tam.” Kaylee giggles. “Right here in front of Wash?”
Simon’s cheeks turn bright pink. “I didn’t mean…not in front of somebody…”
Kaylee giggles. “You’re such an easy mark.”
“They’re back.” Wash says, point to the mule as it flies through rain and towards the boat. It slows down enough for Jayne to jump out before pulling inside. “And Jayne don’t look the least bit happy.”
Jayne’s fists clench in anger as they near the boat. He can see his wife dancin’ in the rain, her body soaked from head to toe. He motions for Zoe to slow down and jumps out right before they pass the dancing genius.
“WHAT THE GORRAM HELL ARE YOU DOIN’ ?” Jayne shouts, reaching out to grasp River’s arms and stop her. “You’re gonna catch a gorram cold.”
River stops dancing and smiles up at Jayne. “Dancing in the rain.” River pants. “You should join me; it’s rather refreshing.”
“It’s bout 40 gorram degrees out here and you’re soaked to the bone.” Jayne growls, swinging her up into his arms. “Gorramit, kitten, you’re supposed to be the ruttin’ genius. Didn’t that smart brain of yours tell you how gorram dumb this is?”
“No.” River leans her head against Jayne’s shoulder with a sigh. “Jayne, I’m cold.”
“Course you’re cold.” Jayne stomps into the boat and glares at the crew. “You was just dancin’ in the gorram rain. Gorramit, doc, I ruttin’ told you to make sure nothin’ happened to her.”
“I tried but she wouldn’t listen to me.” Simon defends. “I couldn’t force her and if I drugged her, you would have killed me. I yelled her name about 100 times but she wouldn’t listen.”
“You never said my name.” River argues.
“River, all three of us heard him.” Kaylee says. “He yelled for you more times than I could count.”
“Yep.” Wash agrees.
“He yelled for River Tam but she doesn’t exist anymore.” River replies. “If he had called for River Cobb then I would have responded.”
Jayne hitches River closer to his chest and stalks past the crew.
“Jayne, are you mad at me?” River asks quietly.
“Yeah.” Jayne replies as he kicks open the hatch to their bunk.
River climbs down and turns around to great him. “How long are you planning on staying mad?”
“Don’t right know.” Jayne answers.
River pushes out her bottom lip in a pout. “But I’m cold.” She protests. “And if you are mad at me then you will not want to make me warm again.”
Jayne turns her around and lowers the zipper on her dress. He peels the wet fabric off her body and then pushes her wet panties off. “Now, I didn’t say that.” Jayne spins her back around and pulls her against his chest. “Can’t go neglectin’ my husbandly duties or nothin’.”
River smiles and hops up into his arms. “And this wife plans to make sure you fulfill those duties.” She pulls his mouth down to hers. “Many, many times.”
Jayne lowers her to the bed and crawls down after her. “Happy to oblige, wife.”
The crew turns their head to find the owner of the sneeze.
River frowns, wondering where the sneeze came from. Then her nose is wrinkling as another sneeze rips through her body.
Simon sets his fork down with a frown and moves to his sister’s side. He places a hand on her forehead to find her skin at a perfectly normal temperature. “How do you feel, mei-mei?”
“Fine.” River replies. “I think they were renegades, trying to fool everyone.”
Simon looks at Jayne. “She starts to feel warm, starts coughing, or sneezing an extreme amount, I want to know immediately, not matter what time it is.”
“Okay.” Jayne agrees, looking worriedly at his wife.
River rolls her eyes. “I am fine.” She says. “The chance of me getting sick is less than 1 in 5000.”
“Is that countin’ in your ruttin’ dance?” Jayne asks, still pissed off by the event.
“Okay, 1 in 500.” River corrects. “Are you still mad at me?”
“Little bit.” Jayne replies.
“It’s been 2 days.” River says with a pout. “You can not still be mad at me.”
“Sure I can.” Jayne argues.
River pushes her plate away and crawls on Jayne’s lap. She straddles his thighs with her knees and wraps her arms around his neck. Laying her face against his, she starts to press little kisses to his cheek and the corner of his mouth.
Kaylee sighs and leans against Simon’s side, smiling softly at the romantic display.
Mal rolls his eyes.
Simon smiles at his sister’s obvious attempts at distracting her husband. When Jayne drops his fork and wraps his arms around her, Simon knows it worked.
“Jayne, I’m cold again.” River bites his earlobe and then licks the hurt away. “Will you warm me again?”
Jayne stands up and wraps an arm under River’s ass to keep her against him. “We’ll be in our bunk.” He starts to turn and then grabs his plate as an afterthought. “Gonna need the fuel.”
“That was so gorram cute.” Kaylee gushes. “And romantic.”
“No it weren’t.” Mal protests. “She was usin’ her wiles to get her gorram way.”
“And Jayne just looked so put out by that.” Inara replies sarcastically. “I mean, didn’t you just see the huge fight he put up?”
“That ain’t the point.” Mal says. “Point is it ain’t fair that she’s usin’ them to make him forget he’s pissed. He’s got the right to be pissed, hell I’m pissed. We gotta nuf problems keepin’ everyone safe and healthy, don’t need her playin’ in the gorram rain.”
“She knows that now.” Kaylee replies. “Sides, she’ll be fine.”
River sits up with a cough, tightness in her chest that she can’t ever remember feeling. It hurts and every breath is a struggle. And she’s cold, so gorram cold. She cuddles further into Jayne’s side for his warmth but it doesn’t help. With a sigh, she pokes his chest; he’s going to be so upset with her.
“Huh?” Jayne grunts, opening his eyes to look down at River. “Kitten, waz wrong?”
“You’re going to be mad at me.” River says, her voice hoarse. Then she starts coughing so heavily that it shakes Jayne’s body.
Jayne sits up and places a hand on River’s forehead. “Fuck, kitten, you’re burnin’ up.”
“Cold.” River tries to pull him back down. “Jayne, I’m cold.”
His pants and boots are on in a matter of seconds. He grabs his shirt off the floor and sits River up to pull the shirt over her head. He digs out a pair of her shorts and pulls them up her hips before wrapping her in their blanket and carrying her up the ladder.
She feels so awful and she knows Jayne is going to be so mad at her, once she’s better of course. She can’t believe she didn’t see it coming; she should have known she was going to get sick but she didn’t. Her math was wrong and she just finds that frustrating.
Jayne opens the infirmary, flips on the light, and hits the com. “Doc, get your gorram ass in here, now.” He sets River gently on the sickbed and paces the small space, running a hair though his hair in frustration. He knew she was gonna get sick and as much as he likes bein’ right, he wishes he was wrong.