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Prodigal Son

by Wrenn

[Story Headers]

Wash nestled Serenity in a small ravine, as they were coming in to land they had flown over a neat little homestead. River pointed out the main ranch house, the bunkhouse and what Jayne's family called the 'old house', this was the original home built by Jayne's father when he had come to Liberty's second moon.

As Wash powered down the ship, they saw a buckboard with two women and a man approach the ship.

"That's Jayne's Ma, and Matty and Amie" River said as she bounced up in down in excitement. "Jayne doesn't know we are going to see his family, I can't wait to see his face."

She rushed out of the cockpit, boots ringing on the ladder as she scrambled down, her running steps faded into the rear of the ship.

The cargo ramp opened smoothly, two of the folks in the buckboard searching for a face they had not seen in nineteen years, the other who only knew him by his infrequent letters home.

Jayne was not looking out over the ramp as it lowered, he had turned to see why River was making so much noise, he could feel her excitement over her surprise, the fact the surprise was for him filtered through.

Hearing a woman cry his name he spun toward the opening, it was his ma, she was crying, Matty was helping her down from a buckboard at the base of a cargo ramp. Jayne froze in shock, when he had left; he never thought he would see his family again. He was in such shock that he never felt River come up beside him, her small cool hand slipped under his jacked to rub at his lower back.

"Go on, I think nineteen years is too long." She whispered, vainly trying to push him forward, as immovable as a mountain Jayne stood rooted in place.

"Jayne is that you son?" the tiny ginger haired woman in the pressed calico dress called out, shading her eyes with one hand and holding out the other. Hearing her voice broke the paralysis that held Jayne, he ran down the ramp, he lifted his ma in a hug and swung her around, starting to laugh.

The crew looked on shocked, this was not a side of Jayne they had even known existed. River simply smiled and nodded as she quietly moved down the ramp towards the buckboard, "and so the healing continues".

Once the Cobb family reunion slowed down long enough for Jayne, Matty and their Ma to stop hugging each other long enough to have other voices intrude. Jayne looked up, into Rivers face, she was perched on the buckboard seat looking down at the three family members.

"Thanks" he told her gruffly, he looked down at his Ma, who he still had his arm around, "Ma this is".

"I know who this is, Jayne" Mrs. Cobb told her son, "this is your Pixie Girl, River" She smiled and reached her arms up to River in the buckboard. "Come and give me a hug Pixie, you look about done in" With a grin River hopped off the buckboard and leaned into the hug.

Matty punched his brother in the arm, "You know you can never keep anything from Ma Jayne. This is my wife Amie" Jayne stumbled through the introduction to his sister in law and introducing the remaining crew to his family.

"It is so nice to meet you all, Jayne has told me a bit about you, but like most sons he doesn't write home often enough to suit his mother. Please everyone my name is Thomasina, but call me Tommy." Tommy announced to the crew after they were all introduced, "be welcome in my home, my hearth is yours" she continued in an age-old welcome.

Simon had been looking at Matty while the introductions were being made; walking over he started to ask Matty a few questions.

Amie jumped up off the buckboard seat "You're a doctor, you can help Matty can't you?" she asked. "Matty won't go to the local doctor, calls him a quack."

At Matty's protest that he was fine, Jayne turned to his brother, slapping Simon on the back, a slap that sent Simon a few steps forward, he declared "The doc will fix you right up, he know what he's doin. It's just his manners need work."

Matty agreed to let Simon try to find out what was wrong, and Amie would not leave her husbands side. Plans were made so that Matty and Amie would spend the night on Serenity with Simon and dinner would be ferried over from the house for them.

Everyone found space on the buckboard with Jayne, River and Tommy occupying the front seat. With every shift and bump of the buckboard Jayne could feel River's soft form press against him, her scent filled his head, he could feel the heat pooling in his groin, when River placed her hand on his thigh to brace herself he thought he might lose it then and there. He called on every bit of will power he possessed. 'Gorram it' he thought, he shouldn't be lusting after a girl who was half his age.

River smiled to herself, by constantly being in touch with Jayne's mind had allowed his feelings to flow through.

He tuned back into the conversation going on around him in an effort to take his mind off the heat in his groin.

"My family was not very happy with me when I announced I was going to marry Mathias." Tommy was telling the crew the story of her and his father Jayne had heard this story many times before as a child, "My father worried that he was almost twice my age, my mother worried he was not of the same social standing and my brother worried because Mathias was so big." She flashed a wicked grin; "I didn't understand what my brother was worried about until my wedding night."

The crew erupted in laughter; Jayne shocked "Ma" simply setting them off even harder.

Back at the ranch house Tommy had laid out a feast, there was sweet potatoes, roast beef and three kinds of pie for dessert. Everyone ate their fill and Mal and Jayne brought supper out to Serenity for Simon, Matty and Amie, being uncomfortable leaving Simon out at the ship overnight Mal opted to stay with them.

Wash and Zoe were delighted to hear that they would have the old house to themselves for as long as the crew was at the ranch, Book along with Simon and Mal as soon as they returned were put up in the bunkhouse. Kaylee was put into the empty housekeepers cabin, and Tommy put River in the main house with her. Jayne of course had his old room back.

River explored the room she had been given, it was a young girls room, a girl on the verge on womanhood. The room had a sense of loneliness, as if the person it belonged to no longer was there.

Suddenly River knew whom the room belonged, to Jayne's sister Timmie, River had seen memories of Timmie in Jayne's memories when he dreamed of his sister. River enjoyed those dreams; she would sit outside Jayne's bunk and just feel the dreams as they unfolded.

She searched for a door she knew was there; it was hidden behind a curtain, River giggled softly as she pushed open the door. She wanted to see what Jayne was like as a boy. River prowled around the room running her fingers over the surfaces of the furniture, she leaned down to look at what was contained within a small bookcase, surprised to find it full of books. Looking closer at the titles, she smiled, the books were mostly well-thumbed tomes on guns, the history, the care and there was also books of famous gunslingers, River pulled one from the shelf. Curling up on the bed she snuggled down in the quilt and started to read.

Jayne quietly let himself into the sleeping house, the excitement of the day combined with the half bottle of whiskey he shared with Mal before he left Serenity had left him tired out, he just wanted to hit his bed and go to sleep, thank goodness he knew his way through the house.

He knew it was going to be a long day tomorrow they had to bring the cattle down from the far pastures to wean and brand the calves. A chore Matty had not been up to in his current state, though Jayne was assured by the Doc that his brother was going to be alright he still worried about him.

As quietly as he could Jayne went into his room, he pulled off his shirt and pants and left them in a pile on the floor. With a groan he slid under the crisp blue sheets, they smelled of sunshine and childhood, getting settled in he started to drop off to sleep. He noticed his bed was shaking, what the hell as far as he knew Liberty's second moon was stable, they did not have earthquakes. Sitting up he realized that the movement was coming from the end of his bed.

He whipped back the quilt prepared to hit whatever was hidden, it took a moment to process that it was River, it was her shivering that was causing his bed to shudder so.

"Pixie, what the hell is goin on?" Jayne was not exactly sure what he should do, pulling an unresisting River into his arms, he registered that she seemed to be freezing.

"Cold, so cold, the blue freezes" River said between chattering teeth. Jayne caught glimpses from River of what he recognized as a hospital, there were shiny medical instruments in the front of her memories and the rooms were freezing cold.

"Shh, Pixie, your safe here" Jayne rubbed his hand over River, her dress was soaking wet from here fear sweat. "Here come on lets get you out of this" Jayne moved to get out of the bed.

River grabbed onto Jayne, "No, don't go" she cried he was the only thing keeping the memories at bay.

"Hush, I'm not going anywhere, I'm just gonna get my shirt for you" River nodded and released her death grip.

Jayne slowly reached down to the pile of clothes on the floor, after grabbing the shirt, he started to pull up on River's dress. "Ok Pixie you have to give me some help here, we have to get this dress off ya."

"Thank you, Jayne" River whispered as he slowly peeled the dress off her head, she was not wearing anything underneath, and her body glowed white in the moonlight. "I know you hate to have to help"

"Hush, Pixie, lets just get ya into this and then we'll get you warmed up huh" Jayne shushed River, he needed to get her covered up, he felt an need to take care of his girl, to make sure she was safe.

"You make me feel safe, Jayne" River laid her head down on his chest to better hear his heart beat, his heat slowly seeped into her, she could feel the cold drain away back into memory where it belonged.

Jayne pulled the sheet up over both of them and curled his arms around River, he knew he should be getting his mother or Kaylee to help but he felt reluctant involve anyone else. Slowly both fell into a deep sleep, their arms wrapped around each other as if neither could let the other go.

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Fandom:  Firefly
Title:  Prodigal Son
Series Name:  Bananas are Evil; Apples are Good
Author:  Wrenn   [email]
Details:  Series  |  PG-13  |  het  |  10k  |  03/15/05
Characters:  River and Jayne
Pairings:  River/Jayne
Summary:  Look whose going home?
Disclaimer/Other:  I don't own any of the characters.
Sequel to:  Winnings

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