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Our Mrs. Cobb

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Summary: Start during 'Our Mrs. Reynolds but has a Rayne twist. It continues from there with our 'married' couple. ***Chapter 24 added, was left out orginally***

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Firefly > Multiple Pairings(Past Donor)sevangelFR1825117,12359145139,7218 Feb 0629 Jan 07Yes
CoA Winner

Hero and a visitor

Title: Hero and a visitor
Series: Our Mrs. Cobb (but I will be changing it)
Author: Sevangel
Disclaimer: Not mine
Rating: PG-13
FYI: This is a story that I had no clue where I was going with after the first chapter but my mind kept slipping back to another BTVS/Firefly crossover that I started a while back (never finished). Then I started to get all kinds of ideas and went with it. So, this is now a crossover fic, which is why I’ll be changing the series title soon.

-

“Needed some tape.” Jayne mutters as he starts peel the tape off the roll.

“And you needed to tear my infirmary apart to get it?” Simon screeches.

“Appears so.” Jayne replies.

“Jayne, we’ll be landin’ on Canton in a bit.” Mal says as he walks into the infirmary.

“Yep.” Jayne agrees.

“Canton don’t allow guns.” Mal says.

“Why I ain’t strappin’ one to my thigh.” Jayne replies.

“No, that’s why you ain’t takin’ one at all.” Mal orders.

“Oh, Mal, I’ve been to Canton before and may have some enemies there bout.” Jayne answers.

“Enemies?” Simon says loudly. “You? No, I won’t believe it.”

River slinks into the infirmary quietly and pushes Jayne to the side so she can sit on the bed.

“Mal..” Jayne says, glancing down at her for a second.

“I got no mind to argue bout this.” Mal cuts in randomly, his attention focused on River. The ‘wedding’ was 2 weeks ago and while she may watch Jayne more than she ever used to, she hasn’t made a move or said anything more. But now she’s starin’ at the merc, her head tilted slightly to the side. “Little witch, what’s so interestin?”

Simon walks over to stand next to Mal and finds his sister staring at Jayne intently. “Mei-mei, what are you doing?”

Jayne glances at his….River and sees her starin’ at his chest. He looks down at himself, tryin’ to figure out what’s got her attention so much.

“Just admiring the way his muscle distribution ripples his epidermis.” River answers, her gaze moving down Jayne’s chest and following the trail of hair to the top of his pants.

“Huh?” Mal mutters.

“He’s very nicely shaped.” River replies.

Jayne starts to shift uncomfortably under the genius’s gaze.

Mal’s jaw drops as he stares at River. “You was checkin’ him out?”

“Yes.” River answers. She reaches out and pokes Jayne in the stomach with a finger, causing his abs to clench. “I like the way they move.”

Jayne jumps back a step and starts looking for his shirt.

“Mei-mei!” Simon scolds.

Kaylee giggles and bites her tongue when Mal glares at her.

“Little Kaylee, take River out of here.” Mal orders.

River glares at him and hops off the bed. “I’m not a child or an animal.” River tells Mal. “I do not need to be taken anywhere.” She looks at Jayne once more before walking out of the infirmary, humming a little tune under her breath.

“You really gotta stop treatin’ her like she’s 12.” Kaylee tells the three gathered men. “She ain’t.”

“But she’s….” Simon protests.

“Attracted to Jayne, yeah, think I got that.” Kaylee cuts in. “She’s old nuf to wanna have sex; hell I was 3 years younger the first time I did it.”

“It is a completely different situation.” Simon replies. “She’s not mentally stable.”

“So she’s got her off days.” Kaylee agrees. “Don’t think that means she don’t know what she’s doin’ most the time. You was the one who called her gifted. Way you talk, she’s smart enough to make her own decisions.” Then Kaylee turns and leaves the room.

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna happen.” Jayne tells Mal and Simon who are both lookin’ at him. “Like Mal said, we may be married but that don’t make her my wife.”

-

“River, sweetie, come out of there.” Zoe says calmly.

“Too much hair.” River grounds out.

“That's it?” Book questions in disbelief.

“Hell yes, preacher.” Zoe agrees with a laugh. “I didn’t have things to do, I’d be in there with her.”

River feels Wash and Mal walk into Serenity and listens while they talk about her Jayne being a folk hero. She waits until she knows they’re on the bridge before climbing out of her hiding place, smiling softly to herself at the gullibility of the crew. While Shepard Book’s hair is disturbing, it doesn’t install the fear she showed. Sometimes she’s very grateful the crew thinks she’s ‘insane’, it makes it easier to get away with things but at the same time it’s very frustrating. She doesn’t see most things the way they do and she always sees more. And usually it comes out in riddles that nobody but her understands. But it will change when the roots show.

She leaves Serenity and walks quietly through the mudder’s working area, disliking the feel of her boots but they are necessary. While the clay might feel good between her toes, it wouldn’t feel good once it’s hardened. She hears one of the guards coming and quickly climbs a small tree in order to hide from him. He passes under her and she resists the urge to snap his neck. The lesson must be learned or all will be lost. She drops to her feet once he passes and continues towards her destination, stopping only to pick up a clay brick. She makes her way to the small rooms set aside for the mudders to rest briefly before working a double shift. Each room is the size of a jail cell, about 8 feet by 8 feet. She stops in front of the 8th room to the left, opens the door, and slams the brick onto head of the man inside.

-

Sue leads the tall, tough and drunk man out of the bar. He’s stumbling along right behind her, his hands rubbing her under her shirt. The hero of Canton. The man she’s always wanted in her bed every since the last time he was here. She still remembers the first time she saw him, sitting in the bar so long ago. She wanted him then but he didn’t notice her, though now she knows why; he was so focused on robbin’ the magistrate. Everyday before she starts her shift, she stops to look at his statue. She’s always told herself that if he came back, she would have him. And she would stop anybody who got in her way.

She decides to take him to one of the sleepin’ rooms instead of home. Her parents would approve of him, as would any parent on Canton, but she wants to keep him to herself. She picks a random room and leads him inside. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she tries to kiss him but he dodges her mouth. His hands rub at her back and she moans against neck. And then he’s falling and she barely gets out of the way before he hits the bed, half of his body on it and half of it not. She glances at the doorway to see a small, dark-haired girl holding a clay brick.

River tilts her head to look at the woman standing in front of her. “Get out.” River growls. “Now.”

“Don’t know who the hell you think you are but I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Sue replies.

“I can kill you with my brain.” River says calmly.

Sue stares at the girl and starts to get scared. She’s never had anybody look at her like that; like she really could kill her with her brain and there wouldn’t be a thing Sue could do to stop her. But Sue’s never been one to back down from a fight and she ain’t gonna be scared away from him by some little slip of a girl. She’s a gorram mudder who's gotta fight for what she wants. She takes a step towards the girl and the next thing she knows, she’s being held against the wall, a boot against her neck.

“I could snap your neck with almost no effort.” River says, cocking her head to stare at the woman. To prove her point, she twists her foot slightly and the woman’s head turns to the side. “You have one last chance to leave conscious.”

Sue tries to move the girl’s foot and it only causes her to choke more. “Okay.” Sue gasps. “I’ll go.”

River slowly lowers her foot and watches as the woman leaves the room, taking one last at Jayne before she goes.

River drops the brick into the corner of the room before walking over to her husband with a sigh. She crawls over him and tugs at his large body until he’s completely on the bed. She’s breathing heavily by this point and falls back onto the bed beside him. She checks the bump on his head and gives a little wince. She may have been a little….rough in her treatment of Jayne.

He grunts and throws an arm over her stomach, burying his face in her hair. She knows she should be very upset with him, and she is, but she likes his body against hers. “You’re not a good husband.” River says, stroking his hair. “Yet.”

-

Jayne wakes up with a poundin’ in his head, a bit confused by it. He don’t remember drinkin’ all that much and can’t figure out why he’s got a gorram hangover. He feels the warm body half under his and buries his face into the sweet smellin’ hair. One hand moves down to burrow under the skirt and rubs at the firm thighs. His other hand pops open a few buttons and starts to massage the soft, warm belly he finds. He don’t remember the woman’s skin bein’ this soft or firm, she is a girl of manual labor and all.

River woke up a few minutes before Jayne did but doesn’t move. When his large hands start to pet at her, she feels herself grow warm all over. She knows he’ll realize she isn’t the woman he thinks she is and he’ll freak out but decides to just enjoy the physical contact. Normally, she doesn’t like to be touched but Jayne’s hands feel nice on her skin. Both hands move higher, one cupping her breast while the other touches the fabric of her now wet panties. She can’t hold in the moan that builds in her throat.

As Jayne’s fingers graze wet panties, somethin’ dawns on him. She didn’t have a skirt on; she’s a mudder worker after all. His hands stop movin’ as he tries to figure out what the gorram hell is goin’ on.

“Good morning, Jayne.” River whispers when he finally realizes she’s not the mudder woman.

“Ching-wah tsao de liou mahng.” Jayne yells as he jerks his hands away and jumps off the bed. “What the gorram hell are you doin’ here, moonbrain?”

River calmly sits up and buttons her dress back, smiling when Jayne turns away. She pulls her skirt down before looking up at him. “A husband should lie with no other but his wife.”

Jayne stares down at her, tryin’ to think through the poundin’ in his head. “How the hell did you get here?” Jayne asks. “Cause I don’t remember nothin’ past followin’ what’s her name in here.”

River glares at him. “You can’t remember the name of the woman you were going to cheat on me with?”

Jayne tries to glare at her but the poundin’ in his head keeps him from doin’ it. Reachin’ up, he touches the back of his head and finds one hell of a goose bump there. He glances at the floor and sees a brick lyin’ in the corner. “You knocked me out?”

“Yes.” River answers. “I warned you that if I wanted you unconscious, I would hit you.”

“Come on.” Jayne orders angrily. River sighs and follows Jayne out of the room and towards the bar.

Jayne stomps towards the bar, glaring at all the mudders he passes. He don’t right know which pisses him off more: her knockin’ him out or how gorram much it turns him on. He throws his jacket to her and watches as she puts it on to ward off the cold air. He stomps down the stairs with River mocking his stomps with her own angry ones.

“River?” Kaylee gasps, causing Mal and Simon to turn around. “Why are you…is that Jayne’s jacket?”

“Yeah.” Jayne grunts, stopping in front of Mal.

“What the gorram hell is goin’ on?” Mal yells, looking between his merc and genius. “Jayne, this best not be what it looks like.”

“Don’t ruttin’ look at me.” Jayne replies. “Look at her.”

Mal looks at River who is studying the room. “I’m a bit confused.” Mal says. “Cause last time I saw you, there was a mudder draggin’ you out of here.”

River turns to look at Mal. “You knew?” River questions.

“Well, yeah.” Mal answers and then yells when River kicks him in the shin. “What the gorram hell was that for?”

“You’re a boob.” River sneers.

“Mei-mei, why aren’t you on the ship?” Simon asks, looking between his sister and Jayne.

“Because.” River answers.

“Still wanna know what happened.” Mal yells.

“I don’t even know what ruttin’ happened.” Jayne replies. “I was takin’ whatever her name is to a room and the next thing I know, I’m wakin’ up next to the moonbrain here. All I do ruttin’ know is she knocked me out with a gorram brick.”

Mal and Kaylee try to hold back laughter while Simon stares at his sister.

“What happened to whatever her name is?” Mal asks with a laugh. Jayne shrugs and River looks at the ground. “You didn’t hit her with a brick too, did ya?”

“Of course not.” River replies.

Mal sighs in relief.

“I told her I would kill her with my brain if she didn’t leave.” River finishes.

They all stare at her.

“She was scared but still tried to attack.” River continues. “But when I demonstrated how I could break her neck with my foot, she decided to heed my warnings.”

Mal swallows heavily a few times before speaking. “Why would you do that?”

“She didn’t belong.” River answers.

“And why did ya knock me out?” Jayne growls.

“I told you before.” River replies. “You can’t lie with another.”

“Gorramit, moonbrain, a man’s got needs.” Jayne growls.

“The man has a wife.” River replies.

Jayne glares at her. “A wife I can’t sex.”

“Then the man has a hand.” River glares back. “If it is enough for the captain and Simon, then it should be enough for you.”

Kaylee giggles at the shocked looks on the men’s faces.

Mal blushes slightly and glances around the bar. “Simon, talk to your sister.” Mal orders. “Jayne, Kaylee, come with me.”

Jayne and Kaylee follow Mal out of the bar while Simon pulls a chair out for his sister.

“It doesn’t mean anything.” River tells Simon.

“Jayne?” Simon questions.

“Being proper.” River clarifies. “It doesn’t mean anything out in the black. It’s not all you have. There are different ways to show Kaylee you like her.”

Simon stares at his sister, a little confused and a little scared. Then he’s being pulled out of his chair and thrown across the room.

“Hear you ride with Jayne Cobb.” Stitch growls. “You’re gonna take me to him.”

Simon glances at his sister, trying to keep the man’s gaze off her.

“He’s not one of Jayne’s.” River says as she walks towards them, ignoring her brother’s protests. “But I am.”

“Who the gorram hell are you?” Stitch asks.

“His wife.” River answers.

Stitch turns around to stare at the girl claimin’ to be Cobb’s wife. “Ain’t you just a cute little thing?” Stitch whistles. “You just might make up for the cash he done stole from me.”

“No, thank you.” River replies. She braces herself for the backhand coming, flying backwards a few feet. As she expected, Simon jumps at Stitch causing the larger man to drop his gun.

“Stop.” River pleads. “Don’t hurt him. I will take you to Jayne.”

“Looks like you’re just as loyal as your gorram husband is.” Stitch replies. “Get up, boy.”

Simon stands up and is pushed up the steps, a gun at his back. He glances back at his sister to see blood running down her split lip.

River gives Stitch the directions and follows him towards Jayne. Stitch then interrupts Jayne’s celebration by throwing Simon onto the ground.

“He might not be one of yours.” Stitch says with a smirk. “But I’m thinkin’ she is.”

-

Jayne watches as his old partner steps to the side to reveal River standin’ there with a split lip. “Leave her outa this.” Jayne growls.

“Don’t see why I should.” Stitch replies. “She’s a cute little thing; too gorram cute for you. I’m thinkin’ after a kill you, I’ll keep her for my own.”

Jayne glances around, tryin’ to figure out how to get her away from Stitch. But before he can do anythin’, Stitch’s shotgun is raised and one of the mudders is tackling him. He flips the mudder over and starts lookin’ for the bullet wound but comes up empty.

“What the hell?” Stitch yells. “Why ain’t you dead?”

River coughs loudly.

Stitch turns to look just in time to see Cobb’s wife drop his shotgun casings to the ground. “You ruttin’ bitch.” Stitch yells. “I’m gonna ruttin’ kill you.”

Jayne pulls out his knife and throws it into Stitch’s back.

River steps back a few paces to keep from being smooched when Stitch falls.

Mal takes charge once the man is dead, ushering his crew towards Serenity. Jayne stares at the kid who tackled him for a few seconds before following Mal into the boat.

“River?” Zoe asks. “What the hell is she doing with you? And why didn’t you say something before?”

“It’s a long story that I don’t completely understand.” Mal answers. He closes the door and then hits the com. “Wash, get us off this gorram rock.”

River follows Mal as he walks through the ship with the rest of the crew behind them. “His father wanted him to be a man.” River tells the worried looking Inara, who is walking out of her shuttle. “He is now.”

Mal looks between River and Inara, trying to understand what the genius is talking about.

Inara sighs in relief but also clenches with fear. River had no way of knowing what she just said.

“Alright, I wanna see everyone in the mess in 10 minutes.” Mal orders. “We’re gonna have a little meeting.”

-

Mal looks around at his crew, his gaze settling on River. She looks straight back at him, her eyes clear and focused in a way they usually aren’t.

“First off, what did you mean by what you just done said, River?” Mal starts.

River looks down at her hands. “We were landlocked.” River answers. “Inara’s client had us released despite his father’s objections.”

“How did you know that?” Inara asks.

River just shrugs.

“Now, I wanna know bout the gun?” Mal says. “How’d you get the casings?”

“Waited until he hit me.” River answers, growing slightly bored with the conversation. “Then Simon attacked and I took them out when he dropped his gun.”

“He hit you?” Jayne growls.

“Yes.” River answers, indicating to her face.

“I really need to look at that mei-mei.” Simon replies.

“And then take a look at yourself.” Mal suggests. “Cause you ain’t lookin’ too shiny.”

“I’m fine, Simon.” River assures him, not wanting to visit the infirmary.

“Your lip is broken open and you’re starting to bruise.” Simon protests. “We need to put something on it.”

“I’ve been hit before.” River replies. “It will heal.”

“When’d you get hit?” Mal asks.

“It’s not relevant.” River replies.

Zoe studies River for a minute before quietly getting up and walking behind Book. She pulls his hair band off and looks to River to see her reaction.

“You figured it out.” River comments, tilting her head to the side. “You connect the dots much faster than the captain does.”

“Hey.” Mal yells. “What dots?”

“River saw my hair down and took off screaming.” Book explains as he puts his hair back. “Then she hid in the hole where you hide your illegal cargo and refused to come out. But now I’m guessing that was fake.”

“Your hair is chaotic and rather disturbing.” River replies. “But does not install the fear that I showed.”

“Why fake it then?” Book questions.

“Because we would have stopped her from going after Jayne.” Zoe answers. “But with us thinking she’s hiding, there was no need to look for her.”

River stands up and starts to leave.

“Mei-mei, where are you going?” Simon asks.

“Away.” River answers.

“We ain’t done talkin’ bout this.” Mal replies. “Sit.”

River sighs and starts back towards her chair. She stops a few feet away from it and starts screaming and convulsing.

“What the gorram hell?” Jayne mutters.

“Mei-mei, what’s wrong?” Simon rushes to her side. He reaches out to touch her and she stops just as suddenly as she started. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s almost time.” River whispers. “The tree is growing and if we don’t water it, the roots will die.”

“Think she’s gone crazy again.” Jayne comments.

“Don’t forget that’s your wife you’re talking about.” Wash replies with a smile.

Jayne glares at him.

“Mei-mei, there are no trees.” Simon says slowly. “We’re in the black and nothing grows here.”

River rolls her eyes. “You never understand.” Then she runs out of the room without another word.

“Doc, what’s up with your sister?” Mal asks. “Cause as of late, she’s been gorram scary.”

“I know.” Simon sighs. “And the sad part, this is the most lucid she’s been since we got here.”

“Apart from her threatenin’ to kill that woman with her brain, I think it’s gorram funny.” Kaylee comments with a giggle. “Specially the hand thing.”

Mal and Simon both blush.

“She can kill us with her brain?” Wash questions nervously.

“We don’t right know.” Mal answers. “And I think I don’t wanna know.”

“What hand thing, Kaylee?” Book questions.

“Oh, River got all pissed that Jayne was gonna sex up another woman and knocked him out with brick.” Kaylee starts. “Then he said somethin’ bout how a man’s got needs and then she said the man’s gotta wife. Jayne got all huffy cause he’s got a wife he can’t sex then River said he’s gotta hand and if it’s good nuf for the cap’n and Simon, then it’s good nuf for him.”

Wash starts laughing so hard that he almost falls out of his chair.

“Hand, sir?” Zoe says with a smirk.

“Don’t.” Mal orders. He looks over at his merc and sees him staring at his knife. “Jayne, what’s so gorram interestin’?”

Jayne studies his knife, Stitch’s blood still caked on the blade. He coulda died today but that’s not what’s botherin’ him. He always in situations where he could die but he ain’t never had nobody take a bullet for him. And if’n River hadn’t taken the casings out, the kid would be dead. That don’t sit right with Jayne. He don’t want some boy diein’ to save him; ain’t worth it.

“Jayne.” Mal says again.

“Huh.” Jayne mutters, glancin’ away from his knife and up to the captain.

“What’s on your mind?” Mal asks.

Jayne glances down at his knife and then back at Mal. “Bout Moony.” Jayne replies, not wantin’ the cap’n to know what he’s really thinkin’ on. “How the hell did she make it cross the mudder’s workin’ area? Cause its guarded day and night. And how’d she know which room I was in cause there’s bout 40 of em?”

“I was just wonderin’ the same thing.” Mal agrees. Both men turn to look at Simon.

“What?” Simon questions. “I’m just as lost as you are. I have no clue how she knew where Jayne was or how she got across the mudding area.”

“Couldn’t we just ask her?” Kaylee suggests.

“Yeah, and we’re libel to get some answers bout how the tree helped her.” Jayne mutters.

“Honestly Kaylee, I’m surprised she was able to answer the questions as lucidly as she did.” Simon says, sending Jayne a glare. “She really does seem to be getting better, or she was until that last incident.”

“Maybe married life suits her.” Wash comments.

Mal, Simon, and Jayne glare at him.

“Husband, you’re out numbered.” Zoe says. “I’d watch what you say.”

“But you would save….” Wash stops talking when an alarm goes off. He jumps up and runs towards the bridge with the crew on his heels. Sitting down in his chair, he starts pushing buttons trying to figure out what’s going off. He happens to glance over and sees a light on that shouldn’t be. “The bay door’s open.”

“What?” Mal questions. “How’d that happen?”

“Don’t know.” Wash answers.

“Close it.” Mal orders.

Wash hits a few buttons and then curses under his breath. “I can’t.”

“Can’t?” Mal growls. “Close the gorram door.”

“I can’t.” Wash says slowly. “As in, it won’t close. Somebody overrode the control.”

“Who the hell could….doc, your sister know anythin’ bout boats?” Mal questions.

“Not that I know of.” Simon answers. “But she has watched Wash fly so she probably learned from him.”

Mal turns and stomps down the stairs. He can hear everyone following him but can’t focus on it through his fury. He took a gorram chance on lettin’ the Tam’s stay on his boat and now the gorram crazy genius girl has gone and messed with his ship. He walks down the steps and onto the walks above the bay and sure enough, the door is open, though not completely, just about 4 feet. He can see that the loading door is down a ways and everythin’ in the bay is blowin’ about. He glances around for River and at first don’t see her. When he finally catches a glimpse of the genius, it’s to see her run across the floor and through the open doors.

“RIVER!” Simon screams.

Mal moves into action when Simon screams and runs down the steps into the bay. “What the gorram hell is she doin’?” River had some rigged up some sort of a pulley system and used the wire they use on jobs when they need to lower somethin’ or someone. “Jayne, Zoe, help me pull her back in.”

Mal, Zoe, and Jayne pull on the wire, tryin’ to reel the genius back in.

“She ain’t gonna make it.” Jayne mutters. “She didn’t have a gorram suit on.”

“I know.” Mal replies and starts tugging harder. He can’t even start to fathom what would make her jump out the bay doors while they’re ridin’ in the black. Luckily, they broke atmo over 30 minutes ago cause if’n they hadn’t, she’d died instantly. There’s still a small gorram chance they can get her back alive.

“Why she so gorram heavy?” Jayne grunts, tryin’ not to really think bout what they’re gonna pull in. Most likely, it’s gonna be her dead body.

Simon counts the seconds, mentally categorizing what injuries she will have. She’s been out there for 39 seconds now and if she’s out there for much longer, she won’t survive.

They’re still pulling and suddenly a loud thump is heard.

“She’s in.” Mal says. “Book, hold this.”

Book grabs the wire while Jayne and Mal run through the opening onto the half-laid out ramp.

Jayne makes it in first and comes to a complete stop, Mal and Simon running into his back.

“Is she dead?” Simon asks quietly. He pushes around Jayne and Mal to look down at what they’re staring at. “Where did she come from?”

-

Jayne carries River’s half-frozen body to the infirmary. Her tiny body is raked with shivers and he can feel the cold seepin’ through her and into him. Simon throws the infirmary doors open and turns on the light, walking over to grab some of his doctorin’ tools.

“Jayne, sit over there.” Simon orders, pointing to the bed on the side of the room. He grabs some blankets and throws them over his sister and the merc. “Mei-mei, can you hear me?”

“Nnnott deeaaff.” River whispers, her teeth chattering as she burrows into Jayne for warmth. “Jjjuussttt, coolllddd.”

“Jayne, you have to get her body temperature back to normal.” Simon orders as he moves over to start examining the body Mal is sitting on the table.

“Sir.” Zoe says.

“I don’t know.” Mal answers. “I got no ruttin’ clue what’s goin’ on.”

He’s confused by more than a few things, the first bein’ why River ain’t worse off than she is. Sure, she looks bout frozen solid but seems okay other than that. The second bein’, where the gorram hell did the redhead came from.

“Wwaasshh.” River whispers. “Unnccroosss the rreedd and blluee wiirress.”

“Go.” Mal orders his pilot. He watches him leave out the corner of his eyes, most of him still focused on the small redhead. He’s still tryin’ to figure out what the gorram hell is goin’ on; why when they pulled River in, her arms and legs were wrapped around the body of the redhead girl.

“Cap’n.” Kaylee whispers, a backpack held in her hand. “This was on the floor.”

Mal takes the backpack and sets it on the ground by his feet. “Doc, she alive?”

“Yes.” Simon answers, completely confused. “She’s in perfectly good health besides being unconscious.”

“Why you soundin’ upset bout that?” Jayne questions, his hand trying to rub some warmth back into River’s body.

“I’m not upset, just confused.” Simon answers. “She should at least be as cold as River is but she isn’t. Her body temperature is completely normal. I will need to examine her further but everyone needs to leave first.”

“I don’t think…” Mal starts.

“Mal, she shouldn’t have everyone looking at her.” Simon interrupts.

Mal nods his head towards Jayne who picks River up and carries her out of the infirmary.

Simon waits until the door is shut before removing the girl’s outer clothing and beginning a full examination.

-

“Well?” Mal questions when Simon walks out of the infirmary.

“She’s perfectly healthy.” Simon replies. “She does have various scars but they are older and healed over. I don’t know why she’s not awake.”

“I wanna know where the gorram hell she came from.” Jayne says, still rubbing at River’s back. He gasps when her small, cold hands move under his t-shirt and bury under his arms. “What the gorram hell are you doin’?”

“Ccoldd.” River stutters.

“Course you’re cold.” Jayne replies. “You just ruttin’ took a dive into the black without a gorram suit on. For a ruttin’ genius, you’re pretty gorram dumb.”

River sighs and burrows further into Jayne’s body. She’s so cold and he’s so very warm.

“And where the gorram hell are your boots?” Jayne continues. “You’re gonna go and do somethin’ that stupid, you could at least put your boots on first.”

“Ddon’t llike them.” River answers, her body starting to warm up.

“That’s too gorram bad.” Jayne replies. “You’re gettin’ off the boat, you put your boots on, dong ma?”

Simon has to smile because every time he tells her to put them on, she throws them at him.

River glares up at Jayne and he glares right back. She sighs again and lays her head on his shoulder. “Very well.” River agrees.

Simon stares at his sister; unable to believe she’ll listen to the untrained ape and not him.

River closes her eyes and hums under her breath for a moment.

Jayne can feel her hummin’ vibrate through her body and into his. He’s a bit uncomfortable bout how much he likes her body on top of his. She’s warmed up pretty good now and he should push her off but it’s been a long, gorram time since he’s had a woman and he’s enjoyin’ the feelin’.

River’s eyes snap open and she stands up. “It’s time.” River whispers.

“Time for what?” Mal asks.

“To wake up.” River replies as she walks over to the infirmary and opens the door.

“Mei-mei, she might not wake up.” Simon says, not wanting her to get upset when the redhead doesn’t awaken. There is nothing physical wrong with the girl so if she’s not awake now, she might never be.

Mal follows River into the infirmary and moves to stand next to the bed.

“No.” River says, pushing Mal away. “You can’t be there. It’s not safe.”

“I ain’t gonna hurt her.” Mal protests as he’s literally pushed away from the bed.

“Not you I’m worried about.” River says. She then grabs Kaylee and Zoe and places them on each side of Mal. “For protection.”

Mal bristles at her words, not needing protection from anybody. Then he hears a groan from the bed and looks over to see the redhead waking up.

-

Willow groans as the little drummers pound away in her head. She should’ve known a spell would do her in but then again, she’s in too much pain to be dead. Or at least she thinks she is but then again, she’s never been dead so she doesn’t know what it feels like. Deciding that she better just face up to whatever hell or place she’s in, cause she knows it’s not the hellmouth, she opens her eyes to see a pretty, young brunette looking at her with a smile.

“Welcome.” River says happily.

“Um, hi.” Willow replies as she sits up. She glances around and sees that she’s surrounded by people. Her gaze moves past and then settles on one man in particular. With a screech, she grabs the scalpel lying on the table next to her and jumps off the bed.

“I don’t know how you’re alive but stay away from me.” Willow threatens, waving the scalpel. She sees her bag on the floor and wishes it was next to her because her small axe would be loads more scary.

“Who are you talkin’ to?” Mal questions, slightly amused by the girl’s threats.

“Don’t even try that buster.” Willow replies. “I never forget a face, especially a face of someone who was all trying to kill me.”

“What?” Mal yells. “I ain’t never met you let alone tried to kill you.”

“Like I’m going to believe you.” Willow rolls he eyes. “Hello, you’re evil and evil people lie, it’s their whole way of life.”

“I ain’t evil.” Mal yells.

“See, there you are with the lying again.” Willow replies. “And you say you’re not evil.”

“You’re not looking.” River whispers. “You need to look.”

“I am looking.” Willow answers, her eyes still on Caleb.

“Not with your eyes.” River says. “You have to really look.”

Willow glances at the brunette and then back at Caleb. “I am looking.” Willow repeats.

“You look with your eyes and all you’ll ever see is him.” River says with a sigh.

“Him?” Mal asks. “Him who?”

“Caleb.” River answers. Then she starts talking in a voice that is so close to Mal’s that it sends chills down the watching crews’ backs. “Now, it’s a simple story. Stop me if you’ve heard it. I have found and truly believe that there is nothing so bad it cannot be made better with a story. And this one’s got a happy ending. There once was a woman, and she was foul, like all women, for Adam’s rib was dirty—just like Adam himself—for what was he but human. But this woman, she was filled with darkness, despair and why? Because she did not know. She could not see. She didn’t know the good news, the glory that was coming. That’d be you. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. You show up, they’ll get in line. ‘Cause they followed her. And all they have to do is take one more step, and I’ll kill them all. See? I told you it had a happy ending.”

Mal stares at River, more than freaked out by what she just said. “What?”

River ignores Mal and turns to Willow. “That’s not him.” River tells. “Look.”

Mal starts to get even more freaked out at the redhead’s gaze. She’s starin’ at him in a way he’s never been stared at, like she’s tryin’ to read his gorram mind.

Willow looks at Caleb in front of her and looks at the two women beside him. “They’re not dead.” Willow whispers, waving her hands to Mal.

Mal looks at Zoe and Kaylee and then back at the redhead. “Course they ain’t dead.” Mal replies, now growing confused.

“Then you can’t be Caleb.” Willow says more to herself than him. “Cause he would have killed all the woman and probably hummed a jaunty tune while doing it. Also, you’re not dressed like a preacher, what with your gun thingie and suspenders.”

Mal glares at her. “I can take you thinkin’ I’m evil and all.” Mal says quietly. “But not thinkin’ I’m a preacher, dong ma?”

“Um, okay.” Willow replies.

“Glad we got that settled.” Mal responds. “Now, who the hell are you?”

“Willow.” Willow answers. “I’m Willow.”

“Willow, as in the tree?” Inara questions.

“Moony, was this the gorram tree you was talkin’ bout?” Jayne questions.

“Yes.” River answers. “I said the roots would die if we didn’t water it but you didn’t understand.”

“Who the hell could understand that?” Mal replies. “Couldn’t you of just said a girl was comin’?”

“I tried but the words didn’t want to come out.” River answers.

“Your name is Moony?” Willow questions.

“River.” River replies. “My name is River. He just calls me Moony or moonbrain.”

“Aw, a pet name.” Willow says.

“Ain’t no ruttin’ pet name.” Jayne growls.

“I’m Kaylee.” Kaylee says cheerfully. “That’s Wash in the bright shirt, Zoe’s the tall lady, Inara is the pretty, fancy lookin’ one, Simon is the one standin’ by the counter, that’s Shepard Book and the one you threatened is the captain, Mal.”

“Bad.” Willow whispers.

“In Latin.” River finishes.

“Great.” Jayne mutters. “Now there’s two of em.”

“Who’s he?” Willow asks.

“Jayne.” River answers.

Willow giggles. “Jane?”

“I know, his name is very misleading.” River agrees. “But he is much too hairy and big to be a girl. And it’s spelled ‘J a y n e’.”

“Oh.” Willow mutters.

“He’s my husband.” River adds.

“OH.” Willow mutters again.

“Willow, I think you should sit down.” Simon advises.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Willow agrees as she sits on the bed. She glances down at herself and squeals. “These aren’t my clothes. These aren’t even clothes. What happened to my clothes?”

“I had to remove them.” Simon answers. “It’s a medical…”

Willow squeals again and then glares at Simon. “I don’t know who you think you are Mr. Clothes-taker-offer, but undressing a person you don’t know, especially someone who’s all knocked out is wrong.”

“I’m a doctor.” Simon replies, blushing slightly.

“Oh.” Willow says, blushing herself. “I guess that’s okay, since you’ve probably seen hundreds of naked women. Not that I’m saying you’re a big slut or anything, I just mean you have to get them naked to examine them. Not saying you like to cop a feel or anything but maybe you do, cause I don’t know you. You could be one of those perverted doctors that only became a doctor to see lots of women naked. But then you might not be, you might just be one of those people who became a doctor to actually help people and you don’t get all worked up when you see your women patients naked. You might not even like women, maybe you enjoy seeing the men naked more.”

Everyone stares at her.

“You’re nervous.” River comments.

“Yeah.” Willow agrees. “I babble when I get nervous. I get all scared and I don’t know what to say, so I just start talking. Nothing ever makes sense and everyone starts staring at me, like you’re all doing. Then that makes me even more nervous so I just start babbling even more and then everyone thinks I’m all-insane and everything and that makes me even more nervous. It’s like this whole vicious cycle that I can’t control. I try to though. I tell myself, self you have to stop babbling cause everyone is staring at you like you’re insane, but that never works. I just feel even weirder because now on top of babbling, I’m talking to myself and that just makes everything worse. And I can never stop myself, someone usually……”

River gently places her hand over Willow’s mouth, cutting off her babble-fest.

“You’re doing it again.” River says.

“Did she even breath?” Wash questions.

“No, I don’t believe she did.” Mal answers, smiling slightly at the red-head.

Willow removes her hand and smiles up at River. “Thanks.” Willow says. “I think I’m okay now but if I start to babble again, feel free to cut me off.”

“Okay.” River answers.

“How did you get here?” Mal asks. “Or more actually, how did you end up in the black without a suit on? Cause there ain’t a boat round besides us for miles.”

Willow glances over at River and then back at Mal, confused on how to answer.

‘You don’t remember.’ River’s voice echoes into Willow’s mind. ‘The last thing that you do remember is falling and then waking up here.’

Willow looks at River again. ‘We’re going to have to talk about this.’ Willow says back into River’s head. ‘And how you know I can do this.’

‘Okay.’ River says back.

“I don’t remember.” Willow replies. “I just remember falling and then waking up in here.”

Mal stares at Willow, not convinced that her story is true. He briefly thinks about the looks her and River shared but doesn’t know what they could be about. “Doc, she okay to leave or does she need to stay in here a while longer?”

“As I said before, she’s perfectly healthy.” Simon replies.

“Fine.” Mal says. “River, Willow’s roomin’ with you tonight. Simon, you’re takin’ the single.”

“I thought she was married to Jayne.” Willow says, slightly confused.

“I am.” River replies. “But we’re not having sex yet.”

“Mei-mei.” Simon protests.

Mal glares at River while Jayne stares at her with a confused and slightly worried expression.

“How long have you been married?” Willow asks.

“Two weeks.” River answers.

“And you haven’t had sex yet?” Willow gasps. “Does he have…performance problems?”

“HEY!” Jayne yells. “I ain’t got no problems performin’.”

“I will explain.” River says, taking Willow’s hand. “Kaylee, would you like to come with us?”

“Sure.” Kaylee replies. She sees Willow’s bag on the ground and grabs it. “I got your bag.”

“Thanks, Kaylee.” Willow replies, taking the bag from Kaylee. The three girls then walk out of the infirmary and down the hall.

“Sir.” Zoe says.

“Can’t just dump her back into the black.” Mal answers. “She don’t seem like much of a threat. Hell, she’s no bigger than River.”

“And the gorram bump on the back of my head proves how much of a threat she is.” Jayne mutters.

“You’re lucky.” Wash replies. “Cause wifey here would have castrated me.”

“Yes, she would have.” Zoe agrees. “I’m still not certain bout her. Who don’t remember ending up in the black with no suit on?”

“Don’t know.” Mal replies. “But I aim to find out.”

-
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