River Tam had to die, Serenity and her crew could not keep running this way. The list of planets they could not go to was getting longer and longer.
It had been 26 months, 2 days and 47 minutes since I had been taken out of the cryogenic pod. Simon had given me a mix of drugs that had caused me to fall into a light coma.
During what River came to call her long sleep her brain had found new pathways for the synapses to run. When River had woken up, she found the world made a bit more sense, she was more centered in the here and now and not scattered through the every when which she had inhabited. She could now more clearly "see" every ones feelings on Serenity, each person had a "taste", there was one who seemed to anchor her in the now more so than the others.
It was at dinner the day after that Simon released River from the infirmary that she flatly announced to the table at large
"I have to die".
After Simon's aghast "River, NO!!" everyone started talking, Jayne just kept eating, of course, as nothing much bothered him.
River cast an entreating glance around the table, as everyone got more and more excited, even the captain joined in. Her eyes met Jayne's across the table, rolling his eyes he let out with,
"Gorramit, can't a man eat in peace? The gorram girl doesn't mean die, die she just means ......die"
River threw Jayne a grateful glance and a quiet 'thank you' as everyone stared at them, Jayne understanding River, would miracles never cease.
"OK, how does one not die, but still die?" Wash asked the room at large a look of extreme confusion filling his features.
Taking a deep breath River looked to the head of the table,
"Captain, I am endangering the crew" as Mal opened his mouth to reassure her, River held up her hand.
"No captain, the Blue Sun Corp will not stop until they have me or until I am dead."
Jayne interjected, "ya got that right, them blue hands of yours don't care who they have to go through to get ta ya, what's for dessert?"
Simon burst out "Could you be anymore uncouth, we are talking about my mei mei's life here!"
River laid a hand on his arm, and Simon subsided, throwing a glare in Jayne's direction. With a hurt look, Jayne started to eat again.
Book quietly asked "River, what were you thinking of doing?" He seemed to be the only one, along with Jayne, who was willing to accept that River was semi normal, and could now articulate her demands.
Pushing my dinner plate away, River clasped my hands on the tabletop, "I need your help to kill off 'River Tam'." She threw a sly look in Jayne's direction, which he did not notice "I of course will still exist, which means creating a whole new identity, I may be a genius but I am afraid I have not studied this particular life course"
Suddenly River knew something had to change, she rose from the table and ran from the room, ignoring Simons "Mei Mei are you alright"
Simon reached for her but she eluded his grasp to run out of the mess. Simon started after her; River could feel his fear that she was regressing into the wild thing that had come out of the box. River almost wept at the despair he felt which almost caused him to collapse onto the floor, only the love he felt for his sister kept him on his feet and following in her wake.
Just as quickly as River returned, thrusting a piece of paper at Wash, and told Mal "Captain we have to go there, it will be a great opportunity for the crew and that is where "River" will die"
Mal was a little disconcerted by River talking about myself in the third person, but he had gotten to believe in the young girls predictions over the past 2 years, though before River's long sleep, they had not often been as clear as this one.
"Ok, Wash you heard her, lay in a course for...Where are we going?"
As Wash got up form the table to lay in the new course he answered the captain "Well Mal, she has the coordinates but I don't recognize them, care to join me lamby toes?" Wash asked his wife on his way out.
"Not right now husband, I want to learn more of why we are going from River" Zoe replied. "River, what do you mean a great opportunity for the crew?" she asked the River sat back down at the table, Book placed a cup of tea in front of her. She smiled in thanks and replied to Zoe.
"I really don't know, I just get this feeling that it will be great for the crew, Simon is needed there and I will be safe enough to kill "River".
Mal got up and grabbed a cup of coffee, "what we need is a plan, and a new secure ID for River"
Simon looked thoughtful "What will we do about a body, we can't just kill some innocent girl and bury her. What about DNA, if the people after River dig up the grave they would know that it was not River by just doing a simple test"
River got up and refilled her tea, when she returned to the table and sat down on the long bench beside Jayne. He threw her a suspicious look, and moved his plate away from her reach. River just smiled innocently, as Jayne glowered even harder at her.
"Simon is correct Captain, we have to use a method that will cause most of my body parts to be very small, unidentifiable even. I know the blue hands will send out agents to confirm my death. I am not even sure if faking my death will actually work to stop them."
"Blow her up, that will make your bits small enough" Jayne said around a mouthful of protein mush.
"You are not getting anywhere near my sister with explosives, you big ape" Simon bit out hotly. Things had been deteriorating between Simon and Jayne ever since River had fallen into her coma. Something had happened and neither Simon nor Jayne would talk about it.
While Jayne was glaring at Simon, River filched the sweet right off his plate, Jayne never noticed.
The Captain hid his smile behind his cup of coffee, seeing River act like a 'normal' girl; she looked so happily mischievous eating the treat, not even really trying to hide it as she ate it, daring Jayne to catch her.
The Captains voice cut across the tension, created by the two men
"Kaylee I'm sure there is something in the engine room needing your attention. Simon Zoe the infirmary now"
Simon rose from the table his glare not leaving Jayne.
"Jayne" the captain continued "your on clean up, I want this mess spotless"
One look at Mal's face caused Jayne's whine of "Aww Cap 'n" to trail off in mid sentence.
Jayne got up and started to clean the table, good thing that the plates were plastic because he took his frustration out on the dinnerware. Slamming the plates and cups around as if he was imagining they were someone's head.
River pulled her feet up onto the seat wrapping her arms around her ankles; with her head tilted to the side she resembled an inquisitive bird perched on a branch.
Jayne finally noticed that his dessert had disappeared off of his plate. River listened fascinated as Jayne cursed for three minutes straight without once repeating himself.
As Jayne wound down, River announced "I made the dessert tonight", Jayne finally noticed her sitting on the bench. He knew who had stolen his treat; Jayne gave her a look that he knew caused men to back down in fear. River just smiled at him.
"Gorram Girl, then why did you take mine? It's a poor day in this verse when a man can't even eat his own damn supper in peace." Jayne grumbled at the room at large.
"I needed to bribe you", not expecting an answer out of River it took a minute for Jayne to realize that she was answering his question. "Huh, you what?" Jayne responded.
"I needed to get your attention, so I could bribe you with the remaining dessert that I hid" River replied patiently, she was very aware that frequently it took many repetitions to get through to Jayne, she knew Jayne was not stupid, though most people took him that way. He just had a tendency not to pay attention to other people and what they were saying unless it was something that held a particular interest for him.
Jayne leaned back against the counter crossing his arms over his chest he told River "I ain't goin gainst the Captain"
Rivers laugh pealed out like bells chiming in the mist. Jayne suppressed a shudder; her laugh had always feel that all those stories his ma had told him as a child were true.
River crossed the mess to stand in front of Jayne, "We are a family now, you do not betray family." She stated with a finality that drove the truth of that statement to his bones.
"I only want to know why you and Simon are mad at each other"
Jayne looked down at his boots, he was not a man to whom words came easily, especially when he felt it was something that would make him look foolish.
River leaned into Jayne, resting her chin on his crossed arms to look into his face; he refused to meet her eyes.
"Aint none of your business girl," he said gruffly, shifting his feet in hopes that River would take the hint and leave, when she didn't he turned to the sink and rattled the dishes. River simply stepped around in front of him, sliding in the small space between him and the sink, before he could step back River placed her hand on his cheek, catching his eyes with hers.
"It is my business, he is my brother and you are..." River stopped, Jayne felt like there was nothing but him and River, the mess, the crew even Serenity had disappeared and they were alone floating in the black. "You are who you are" she finished softly.
The spell broken Jayne took a step back more shaken than he would even admit to himself.
"I know I am somehow the cause of the disagreement between you and Simon," River continued as she hopped to sit on the counter, bringing her level with Jayne. "If you tell me what happened you get the rest of the dessert for yourself"
Jayne weighed the draw of the sweets against the possibility of being embarrassed, the dessert won out.
"I kissed you," he said roughly
River was prepared for anything but that, her mouth fell open. "No you didn't" she stuttered
"I know what I did, I kissed you Gorramit" Jayne stated hotly.
"No you didn't, I would have remembered" River answered back, just as hotly. She thought a moment, crossing her arms she leaned forward, "When?"
The heat flared between them, River could see it in the flare of Jayne's nostrils, and how his eyes suddenly became half-mast. Jayne could smell her heat; taste the cinnamon of her on his tongue.
"When" River repeated, her voice a bare whisper of sound, leaning closer her lower lip fell open in a silent invitation, she unconsciously braced herself by placing a hand on Jayne's chest.
Her cool hand on his chest almost undid his resolve to stay away from her, even through the cotton of his t-shirt; it caused a wave of heat to slam into his groin, his cock sprang to instant attention. If this is what her hand did to him fully dressed, what would it do to him naked, he groaned as the image of her cool hands stroking him flashed through his mind.
"You were out of it" Jayne growled as he leaned forward to take his fill of the promise her lips offered.
"WHAT!!!" River pushed at Jayne's chest, "how could you" Tears started to fall from Rivers eyes, "How could you?" she repeated more softly.
"I was trying to wake you up," Jayne mumbled, "like in the old stories." He looked down at his feet, his ears turned red as the blood rushed from his groin to his head.
Seeing Jayne blush, caused some of River's anger to cool, she stretched out her hand and grasped his. River allowed her mind to open, concentrating on reaching for Jayne.
Suddenly, connection, their conscious minds were linked. "It was you," River breathed, 'It was Jayne who brought me back, not Simon' she thought.
Jayne jerked back in shock as he heard clear as a bell Rivers thoughts, River did not release her death grip on Jayne's hand.
"Get outta my head, gorramit girl you don't belong there" Jayne stuttered, turning white with fear. He felt a sense of calm acceptance flow from River, her emotions calmed his somewhat.
"What is this?" He ground out, "Why are you in my head" his whole body shook from the rush of adrenaline that had slammed through his body when he had first felt her in his mind. Rivers small hand in his kept him anchored in place.
Rivers thought, of him bringing her back came through to him as if she had said it aloud. "Brought you back, shit I didn't do nothin," He stated firmly.
River smiled at him and bunching the front of his t-shirt in her hand pulled his face toward her, whispering, "we are bonded" she kissed his bearded cheek softly.
Leaving Jayne standing confused in the middle of the mess, River skipped out the door; looking back she reminded him that he was on clean up.
"Gorram Girl is even more moon brained than before" Jayne stated as he went back to washing the dishes.
Later that night Jayne sat cleaning his guns in the mess, he looked up as River leaned in the doorway.
"Two by Two, don't you feel sometimes like we're on an ark?" She asked the room at large.
Jayne realized River was on her way to being well and truly drunk, she raised a bottle to her lips and took a long drink. She wobbled over to the table and fell into a chair, "looks like I'm bunking in here again. Kaylee and Simon are at it, come to think of it everyone's at it." River looked at Jayne bleary eyed, he reached out and took a long drink from the bottle.
"Is that right little girl, hope your stayin out of their heads?" he said
"Can't read them, only feeling, can only go in yours" River told Jayne solemnly as she took the bottle back.
"Ain't that comfortin" Jayne returned to cleaning his gun.
"Wash and Zoe, Simon and Kaylee, Captain Daddy and Nara, Shepard and his book full of lies, Jayne and Vera" River sing songed, she took a good look at the gun on the table, snatching up a piece she pointed it at Jayne "This ain't Vera, she's gonna get jealous" River announced. "Here Jayne you need another drink, then maybe youse will talk instead of grunt"
Closing one eye River leaned in and looked Jayne in the face "You know you would look much more swai if you didn't scowl so much" nodding she leaned back in her seat and watched as Jayne continued to clean and reassemble his gun.
Noticing the bottle was nearly empty, River got up from the table, and bouncing off the chairs she made her way to the door. "Don't you go anywhere Jayne Cobb" River pointed her finger in his general direction, seeing as there were now several Jayne's sitting at the table River figured her aim would hit one of them, "I'll be right back, promise me you won't go anywhere." River waited until she got Jayne's promise before weaving her way down the corridor.
Coming back into the mess River put a fresh bottle of whiskey on the table along with a chess set.
"What's the game for?" Jayne asked as he reached for the new bottle, 'girl might be moon brained but she sure knew her whiskey he thought'
River scowled at him "I heard that" rearing back and trying to hold her head up proudly she stated very loudly "I may be moon brained, but I am a genius."
Sitting down in the chair she looked at Jayne with a sad face, "In and out, round and round, up and down they're still at it. Have been for hours now, do you know I am nineteen and never been kissed. There is something just not right in that, I betcha you had already been kissed at nineteen, didn't ya Jayne?" River looked at Jayne with interest.
"Yup and a lot more sides, wanna hear it?" Jayne was starting to feel a bit intoxicated, after all he had finished off the first bottle and the second bottle was more than half gone.
"Nope, not interested" River replied ignoring the hurt look on Jayne's face. "I'm gonna teach you how to play chess."
"Don't wanna" Jayne retorted even as River set up the board, "you'll just win anyways always do."
"Not playing to win silly," River admonished Jayne, "playing to keep me from feeling things."
Jayne heaved a big sigh and gave in, he actually found himself having fun as River taught him her version of chess, which seemed to involve the members of the crew being chess pieces and both of them being on the same side.
The last thing Jayne remembered with any clarity was River lying with her head in his lap while they sang songs with very dirty lyrics, most of which River taught to him.
Simon walked into the mess the next morning, grinning to himself; the things Kaylee could do with fruit. How had he been so luck to find her out here, in the middle of nowhere.
The smell of alcohol hit him as soon as he walked in the door, Simon could hear Jayne snoring like a freight train. 'God that man is a walking ape' thought Simon as he crossed the mess.
Simon heard Rivers muffled voice "I heard that" coming from somewhere around the table. Looking for her Simon found River with her head in Jayne's crotch and Jayne's hand appeared to be holding her there.
Simon lost it, with a roar that brought everyone to the mess he attempted to lift Jayne off the seat, when that did not work, Simon hauled back and punched Jayne, who by this time was starting to come out of his drunken stupor. Simon's punch actually knocked Jayne's head back a bit, acting on instinct of a long time bar brawler, Jayne came up swinging sending the poor Simon flat on his ass in one punch.
Having her head knocked on the underside of the table woke River up, she stumbled to her feet and stared at her brother who was lying on the floor with Kaylee holding his head and yelling at Jayne.
Looking to Jayne for an explanation, all River got was "the hndn came at me swingin, was nothing I could do."
Simon came to enough to start swearing at Jayne, "you chsheng xai-jiao de xiang huo you raped my sister, I'm gonna kill you."
"Hold it right there doc if there is gonna be any killin I am gonna be the one to do it" Mal had walked into the mess and took everything in one look. The bottles of whiskey on the table, River and Jayne still feeling the effects by the look of things, the Doc on the floor with what looked to be the start of a beautiful black eye, which meant Jayne had hit him. Mal could not explain the chess set on the table that seemed to be wearing clothes that made the pieces look like the crew.
"What the Gorram hell happened in here?" Mal made sure to use his Captain on the edge of reason and getting ready to kill people voice.
River raised her head; she glared at Simon "Simon I am sick and tired of you treating Jayne like a lower level scum sucking beast of a human being. You want to know what happened here, well I will tell you what happened here Simon" Rivers voice dropped into a purely conversational tone "I fucked Jayne until he couldn't walk Simon, now if you excuse me I am going to go get some sleep."
Ignoring everyone's shocked gasps, and Jayne's confused mutterings of "remember songs, chess, whiskey but no sex, sure I would have remembered getting fucked till I couldn't walk"
River left the mess, and did not know where to go, she did not want to go to the room she shared with Simon and none of the passenger rooms were set up. Making a quick decision she went to Jayne's bunk, which is where he found her a few minutes later.
"Huh, what you doin here?" Jayne asked as he noticed River curled up in the chair beside his bed.
"Sorry, did not know where else to go. Jayne I hope you did not get into trouble from the captain with what I said." River blushed and ducked her head.
Jayne moved to his bed and lay down, "Naw, Captain knew you were lyin through your teeth, pixie. He's calmin Simon down in the mess right now said it was best if I wasn't around. Wanted to sleep anyways."
"Whatcha goin ta do?" he asked River as he reached down pushed his pants down to his boots, swearing cause he forgot to undo his boots first, Jayne struggled to get them off.
Slipping under his blanket, he was surprised to hear River ask, "can I sleep with you?"
"Huh, ya wanna?" Jayne looked sharply at River
As River crawled under the covers, she said "No, silly, sleep, I want to sleep, I'm safe here and your warm." She wiggled until she was comfortable and was asleep within moments.
Jayne looked down at her in shock, he didn't think anyone had ever told him they felt safe with him before. Pulling River, closer Jayne buried his face in her hair and followed her into sleep.
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Title: Whisky, River and Chess
Series Name: Bananas Are Evil; Apples are Good
Author: Wrenn [email]
Details: Series | PG-13 | het | 19k | 03/15/05
Summary: Things get interesting on Serenity
Disclaimer/Other: I do not own anything, darn!
Sequel to: Prologue
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