Delta Rain part 2
Friday, April 2, 2004

Jayne goes home, along with the rest of the crew, and River and him become closer.


Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me, they are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox.

Feedback is always welcome.

Takes place shortly after the series ended. I forgot to mention that part 1 included chapters 1-5, part 2 includes chapters 6-10. Thanks to Cassie E for providing insperation on how to deal with Timmie's history in chapter 7, I had been trying to figure out how much to tell on that and she helped me see that less can be better. The Wash/Zoë bits in chapters 8 and 9 are for Sarah J., her comment about being a Wash/Zoë shipper is what got me to thinking of exploring that relationship.

Many thanks to William Topley and The Blessing for their song "Delta Rain", it helped inspire this piece. River sings bits and pieces of it to Jayne.

* Quote from Delta Rain, by The Blessing

Chinese translations: Ch 7) Hwoon dahn: Son of a bitch Ch 8) Mei-mei: Sister Ch 10) Wang bao dahn: Dirty bastard


A Week Later:

Jayne couldn't remember having a worse gorram week. The wave from Matty'd come two days after River'd come ta see him in his bunk. Two days of hopin' and prayin' she couldn't have known. Two days of endurin' trying to act normal so's none of the others'd know. Not that they couldn't tell somethin' was up from the way River hovered over him all the ruttin' time. And Simon'd been actin' mighty strange towards him too. Kept tryin' to drag him in for a check up. Part of him had wondered if River'd told him, but she hadn't.

If anything it'd gotten worse after they found out. Hell, even Mal kept lookin' at him all sympatheticlike. Hadn't even groused at him none about makin' the trip ta Liberty an' it's moons. He snickered slightly at what Mal's expression had been though, when he'd learned that was where he grew up, Liberty's second moon. No one'd ever bothered namin' the two moons, fortunate considerin' how Liberty herself was so ill named. Had one of the strongest Alliance ties of any of the rim planets and one of the few that hadn't supported the Independents. On the moons they'd felt a mite different but he weren't 'bout to tell Mal that.

Anyways, he'd left it behind long before the war'd started. Hadn't never set foot on it again. Never thought he would, neither. He hoped things'd been long enough ago that it wasn't gonna cause problems. But hopin' hadn't been workin' to well for him lately. He let himself down onto the cargo hold floor with a soft thud, done with his last rep of pull ups. Nothin'd been workin' well for him lately, nothing at all. He glared over at River, she was sittin' on his weight bench.

"sorry...had to leave before you woke..." she said softly, readin' his damn mind again. "Cap'n and Simon would have killed you if they had caught me there..."

He pushed back the sharp pain he felt every time he remembered wakin' to find her gone, just the faint hint of lavender the only sign she'd even been there. That and the grit in his eyes from cryin' himself ta sleep. It bugged him no end that she'd seen him all weak like that, or maybe the part that bugged him was that he didn't mind so much. Hell if he knew anymore. Ruttin' girl was makin' his brain all soft. Makin' him want things he had no right ta want. Had never wanted. With a grunt in her direction he headed off to grab a shower before they landed.

He felt a mite better after his shower, he'd managed to keep most of the memories away. Had only cried a little bit too. He still couldn't believe she was gone. Felt like he had a big gapin' hole in his chest now. Ma'd been the only one that'd believed in him, everyone else figured he'd never amount ta much, even Pa. Well, Ma and Timmie really, but Timmie'd been gone a long time now. With a sigh he pushed that memory back too, weren't no time for it now. Be time enough when he went to visit the graves.

He headed up to the cockpit to see how close they was. He'd need to let Wash know where the farm was, they was gonna set down in one of the fields. Matty'd said the crops'd failed again this year so's it wouldn't do no harm.

"How close are we?" he asked Wash.

"'Bout 10 minutes out yet." It was gettin' mighty old having the little man look at him like that.

He was glad Wash'd be goin' with Mal and Zoë to Liberty tomorrow to see if they could unload the cargo there. They'd meant to look for a new contact on Persephone, but well, thing's'd changed. In a way that part might work out for the best, give them a little more time 'fore they pissed Badger off by takin' their business elsewhere. He'd feel better goin' with them though, Mal an' Zoë on an Alliance friendly planet without him ta watch their backs jus' seemed like askin' for trouble. An' Book was stayin' on the moon as well, to give him comfort no doubt. He'd feel a hell of a lot more comforted if'n he'd go with the others. Preacher had a knack for keepin' Mal out of trouble, or gettin' him out if it came to that. But it had been decided, bright an' early Serenity was headin' to Liberty and Book, Inara, River, Simon an' him would stay on at the farm.

He was so looking forward to this.

He glanced over at River as she slide through the door. Gorram girl. He'd tried ignorin' her, yellin' at her, insultin' her and her brother...but still she kept haunting him. Guess he should be glad it'd taken her this long to follow him up here. An' at least she hadn't takin' to followin' him into the shower yet, no more late night visits to his bunk neither. Though he had learned she had no qualms 'bout followin' him there durin' the day. After that second time he'd decided it was best ta jus' put up with her an' not try hidin', didn't do him no good anyhow, an' it jus' made Mal ornery.

"We there yet, Wash?" he asked impatiently.

"As you can see by the big, shiney moon in front of us we are making our final approach." Wash looked over at him, chucklin' as he caught sight of River standin' behind him. Did the little man have to find this so ruttin' hi-larious?

"'Bout damn time," he grumbled irritably. He moved so's he could get a better view as Wash flew over the main town.

"Ya know, actual co-ordinates would be helpful." Wash said in that mock-pleasant way of his.

"Ain't like we ever had a ship parked in the backyard 'fore, little man." Jayne snarled back at him.

"Just saying..." Wash replied with a smirk.

"There" River pointed as Wash flew over the house. "pay attention we missed it..." she smacked into his shoulder as Wash banked hard, tossing them both onto the floor in a heap.

"Oops, sorry River" the evil little man smiled, "I was trying to get Jayne."

"that's all right" she told him, "he broke my fall...all is well..." the little witch smiled smugly down at him as she rolled out of his arms.

He glared up at her as she reached down to help him, like that li'l slip of a girl was gonna be able to pull him up. With a snort he heaved himself off the floor and glared at her again. Much more dignified now that he was upright an' all. 'Course all that dignity went out the window when she started to brush him off. Fortunately the gentle bump of Serenity landing gave him the perfect excuse to escape her tiny hands and head for the cargo hold.

He jus' wished the reprieve weren't temporary. Those tiny hands had a way of settin' all kinds of feelin's off in him.

He whirled around and snapped at her, "Would you leave me the ruttin' hell alone?" River collided into his chest before she could stop herself. She looked up at him petulantly.

"want to meet Matty..." she frowned, "you don't want me meeting Matty, do you?"

"No," he replied honestly, then felt a pang of regret at her hurt look. "Ah hell girl, I don't even wanna be here."

"I know..." she said sadly, it was gettin' so's it didn't even faze him that she weren't jokin' 'bout that.

Probably the only one on this boat that knew how much he didn't want'ta be here. Probably knew why too...heck, weren't really no probably to that. With a sigh he turned and continued down to the deck below. He should'a learned after the week he'd had that there weren't no point in arguin' with her. If he ever got close ta a winnin' hand she jus' turned those big, sad eyes on him an' he caved, part of his mind whispered "that's why yellin' an' insultin' her don't work, idjit".

He walked over to where Mal an' Zoë were standin', the hatch already down. He could see Matty headin' over, a small blonde woman walkin' next ta him. Must be his wife, what had Ma said her name was? Amie...that was it. He could sense Inara an' Kaylee an' Simon headin' over behind him, River already standin' at his side.

It was shockin' how weak Matty was lookin' as they drew close, he knew he'd been sick but...Ma ain't never let on he was this bad. Matty'd always been smaller then him, but now he was lookin' downright scrawny. Pale and drawn.

Jayne moved forward and wrapped his brother in a bearlike hug, liftin' him off his feet.

"Damn Matty, ain't yer woman been feedin' ya?" He looked over at Amie with a concerned look, in spite of the words. She nodded back, understandin' Jayne's unspoken question. "An' this must be the li'l woman herself, looks to bright ta be married ta you."

"Well," she answered him with a drawl, "Matty is the smart Cobb, from what I hear tell. Handsome one, too. Now I know they wasn't lying to make me feel better." her eyes twinkled when she said it though. Jayne found himself laughin' an' givin' her a bearhug too. Amazed that she was even tinier then River.

Then they were caught up in a flurry of introductions, Book an' Wash havin' joined the party. But Jayne noticed Simon watchin' Matty with concern. So's it hadn't been jus' him thinkin' he didn't look to well. An' then he noticed with a pang that River hadn't been there for the introductions. Kaylee had them all entranced with tellin' of how the farm reminded her of her own home so he slipped back into the ship to see if he could find her.

He found her sittin' in her room drawing pictures.

"Thought ya wanted ta meet 'em." he couldn't quite keep the hurt outta his voice.

"I do..." she said, all calmlike, "but you said you did not want me I left..." she didn't even looked up at him.

He gazed at her shocked for a moment, "Since when you done anythin' I wanted?" she had ta be the most exasperatin' woman he'd ever met.

She looked at him then, seemin' to consider his words. Then she went back to her drawin'.

"already intruded too much..." was her response, "you don't want me intruding I won't..."

"Think it's a bit late fer that River," he said softly, "not sure what I want or don't want makes any difference no more."

"does to me..." she looked up at him again, almost defiantly.

"Fine, changed my mind, I want you to meet Matty." he grinned down at her suspicious look. But she got up and followed him back outside. He weren't sure if he'd won that hand or lost. Probably lost, way his week was goin'.

Matty looked over at 'em as they came outta the hatchway. "Who's this?" he asked with a grin, not even the sickness dampenin' his easy charm. "Matty, this is River," Jayne hoped no one else noticed the hint of pride in his voice, "River, my li'l brother Matty, an' this here's his wife Amie."

"River?" Matty's voice shook a bit. River looked at him solemnly and nodded. "Jayne...I...I didn't tell ya much 'bout Ma's accident in that wave I sent. I thought her last words was gibberish, ya know, from the pain. But right 'for she died she told me ta tell ya somethin'...didn't make no sense...she said ta tell ya ta hold onto the river."


Matty looked around at his guests, been a long time since it'd been any but him, Amie and Ma here. Pa had died shortly after him an' Amie had gotten hitched four years ago. Jayne hadn't come back for either occasion, not that Matty blamed him none. Too many painful memories and both Andy and Sal had still been alive back then. Andy had passed on last year though, that left only Sal. With any luck that hwoon dahn'd never know Jayne had been back.

His gaze drifted over to the li'l mechanic, Kaylee. It was amazing how like Timmie she was, least, personality-wise. He wondered how Jayne dealt with that. Hoped it brought him more comfort then pain. She was a shiney one, might be she could light up the whole 'verse. Much like Timmie had once lit up this whole moon. Till that bastard Will and his two cronies had gotten their hands on her.

He'd never seen the body, but he'd seen Jayne's face when he came back ta the house after he'd found her. Seen the blood on his hands from carrying her to that quack doctor who'd failed ta save her. Remembered the Sheriff comin' ta visit Ma and Pa to let them know Jayne'd killed Will and he'd asked him to leave and not come back, so's he wouldn't have ta toss him in jail for it. Andy and Sal had done time for their part in it all. Not that either of them ever seemed to feel any regret over it, 'cepting that they'd been caught.

He became aware that River was watching him. She had such a sad, intense look on her face that he couldn't help but wonder if she knew what he was thinkin' on. It was downright creepifying the way she seemed to look right into a bodies mind. Almost as bad as that look of her brothers.

"So, what was Jayne like as a boy?" Kaylee asked, all chipperlike. "An' how'd he get his name?" She looked over at him with a mischievous look and Matty laughed.

"Well now, that is a tale." He told her conspiratably, ignoring Jayne's scowl. "There was four of us Cobb kids that lived, Ma had a couple miscarriages 'tween me an' the others. Allie's the oldest, then the twins, Jayne an' Timmie. 'Spite how it sounds Allie an' I were named fairly normallike, Alison and Matthew are our given names. But Jayne and Timothy ended up gettin' the others names. Ma didn't notice till she'd gotten home from the hospital that one of the nurses had switched their name tags, by then she'd already been callin' them by the wrong names for a couple'a days, figured it'd be best not ta confuse them by switchin' 'em back. So's they got stuck that way."

"We think that's what made Jayne all grumpylike, he always was an' ornery thing. Only one could ever get him ta smile was Timmie." He glanced over at Jayne, then went on when it seemed he was doin' Ok. "Timmie died a number of years ago now, when she was 19. Allie's married an' livin' on Liberty, don't visit much these days. Seems her husband is kinda fancylike an' she don't like rememberin' on where she came from. Always was a bit of a snob."

Jayne snorted at that. It was somethin' of an understatement.

It sure felt good havin' a chance to tell the old stories again. Matty loved tellin' tales, he always had. So he was happy tellin' Kaylee an' the other's all about Jayne as a child. Had 'em all laughin' more then a time or two with the scrapes his older brother had gotten into as a young'n. None of 'em seemed shocked he'd been a holy terror when he was a kid.

Certainly not like they'd been shocked by Ma's dying message to Jayne. He still weren't sure what to make of all their reactions, but it'd been clear most of them hadn't never thought on Jayne havin' any call to hold onto River. An' all of 'em seemed to find the idea a mite disturbing. 'Cept maybe Kaylee and River herself. Girl was a mite youngish, but that weren't that uncommon. Happened more then occasionally out here on the Rim, heck, he was a number of years older'n Amie. Man couldn't be too picky where he found love. Didn't come around often enough.

He noticed that Simon had moved over to whisper something to the Captain, at the man's nod he headed over his way.

"Matty," he said, getting that serious Doctor look to him, "Jayne's told us you've been sick with the damp lung, I was wondering if you'd let me take a look? We might have some medicine that will help."

He glanced over at Jayne a little panicked, but Jayne just smirked at him. He already knew Amie'd be no help gettin' the Doc off him, she always said he should get more help then he had. But the only doctors he'd ever been to had never helped much, Jayne always called the Doc in town a quack. Even before...anyways, he'd had enough of doc's when he was little. Was a sickly thing as a child, had grown out of it by his teens but he'd never been as big an' healthy as his siblings.

He felt Jayne's big paw rest on his shoulder, hadn't even been aware his brother'd headed over. "Doc's a good'n, if any can fix ya up it'll be him. He's fixed me up a time or two." Matty caught Simon's shocked look, so the Doc was no more used to Jayne praising him then he was to hearing Jayne say any doc was good. He sighed, knowin' if Jayne and Amie ganged up on him he'd be better off ta give in gracefully.

"Jus don't eat all the food 'fore I get back." he growled at Jayne.

"Would I do a thing like that?" he asked, managing to look offended, then hurt as everyone said in unison. "Yes."


Wash sat on the back porch watching the sun set. It was a beautiful red and gold. He heard Zoë come up behind him on the dry, wooden planks. He could tell she felt at ease here by the fact that she didn't try and hide her boot steps. Felt her warm arms around him as she leaned down to kiss his check, his sweater in one of her hands.

"Thanks lambie toes, getting a bit chilly out here." he said as he turned to kiss her back.

"Thought you might be," her breath caressed his neck as she replied. She tucked the sweater around him like a blanket.

She would make a really great mother, he knew that. Knew it wasn't fair of him always finding excuses not to let her be one. He just wasn't sure he'd make as good a father. Too much of a child himself. There was no doubt in his mind when they did have children who would be the one to discipline them. And it sure wasn't going to be him. It scared him that something might happen to her, leaving him alone to raise a child. He could handle the thought of raising one with her, but doing it without her wasn't something he was ready for.

Lately though, it had occurred to him that something might happen to her before they got a chance to have a child and then he would have nothing at all of her. And that thought scared him even more.

"Zoë, sweetie?" he found himself saying, "you know that child you've been wanting to meet? I've been thinking I might want to meet 'em too..."

He heard her sharp intake of breath, then she was sitting on his lap. Looking deep into his eyes to make sure he was serious.

"Why now, Wash?" she asked, not upset, more curious...and needing to be sure he meant it. His Zoë thought she was all unreadable, but he'd learned some of her moods. Not as good at it as Mal was, except on this subject. This one, him and Zoë had danced around enough times he could read her pretty well on. This one and that whole making love one, he could read her moods quite well on that topic also.

"It still scares me Zoë, but I am figuring out that having a kid won't stop bad things from happening," he owed it to her to try and explain things, "won't cause them to happen neither. And all the sudden it scares me more that something bad might happen before you got to meet your little one then something bad happening after. Or that something bad might never happen and I would have wasted our lives worrying about it."

Then she was kissing him, making it impossible to explain any further. Of course, she never was one that needed a lot of words. More a woman of action, his Zoë. Strange, he could already hear the pitter-patter of little feet. Zoë pulled away from him and smiled over his shoulder, "Hello River."

He turned and watched as River settled onto the porch next to him and Zoë. He tried not to laugh, really, he did. But she was wearing that silly hat Jayne's mother had knit him and a sweater that looked like it had been made to match. Where in the world had the girl found them?

"His bunk," she said, pointing to the hat, "and the living room...was almost done..." indicating the sweater. Wash could see now that the neck was ragged where it had not been finished off. Poor thing could almost do the backstroke in that sweater, but she was beaming up at them like she was wearing the finest clothing in the 'verse.

And the girl's crush on Jayne had gone from being highly amusing to deeply disturbing when Matty had told Jayne what his mother's dying words were.

"Why?" she was looking up at him with a puzzled look on her face, "same feelings as before...why are they different now?"

"Yes Wash, why?" Zoë asked him, this was one of the times he couldn't read Zoë, but he had a feeling he was stepping on thin ice. And since when did the girl make so much sense? And answer his thoughts so, blatantly? Like he'd actually spoken. He looked from one to the other, lost for words. Fortunately, River turned her attention to Zoë.

"Doesn't bother you?" hardly seemed fair that River had to ask Zoë that after she'd just read his mind. She giggled at him and explained. "Your mind shouts, Zoë's doesn't...I don't "read" your mind, I", she frowned, as if trying to find the words she wanted. "..."pick up" thoughts you let go...probably could read it...but that would be much information anyway...don't really need too...don't want too..."

"So, what you're saying is you don't go into our minds, even though you could," Zoë asked, "you just pick up any stray thoughts?"

"Can't not pick them up...they are just laying there and I trip into them..." River was looking at Zoë intently now, "feelings are similar...only there are more of them about...not as solid as thoughts so they bleed out more...but because there are more of them I can sometimes...go on to a different one...just can't block them out or push them away..."

She stopped when Simon gasped behind them. "Mei-mei? that what it is like for you?"

Wash could see the relief in her eyes as she nodded to her brother, but she also looked sad. It really was rather sad. So far, everything she had been able to tell about what was going on in her head had been said to others, not to Simon. Even though she must have realized he and the others had come out onto the porch, she had still been talking to Zoë.

He could imagine this was causing Simon a great deal of pain as well. It would be bad enough trying to deal with what they had done to her but now he also had to deal with her being able to talk to everyone but him. Wash found his gaze drifting over to Jayne. He was scowling down at her, but there was something different in it this time. Almost like it wasn't her he was scowling at, but the ones that had done this to her. Wash got the strangest feeling he didn't want to be anyone that had ever hurt River.

He'd just about bet Mal had a similar expression on his face, but he was standing behind him so he couldn't be sure. Inara and Kaylee both looked like they wanted to smother the poor girl in hugs. Book was looking thoughtful, someday he'd figure that man out. And Zoë, well, if he didn't know her any better he'd say she felt nothing, only the dangerous glint in her eye said otherwise.

"So," he asked, trying to break the ice, "where are our hosts?" Not up to his usual standard of wit but it was the best he could think of, nothing about this situation lent itself to a lighthearted quip.

"Shoo'd us out so's they could clean up." Jayne turned his scowl on him.

"What, you didn't eat all the plates too?" Wash knew he could count on Jayne to give him an opening.

"Stop it..." everyone's eyes went to River as she stood up and glared at Jayne, effectively cutting off any retort he was about to make. Then her eyes turned to him and Wash almost vowed never to taunt the big man again. "no insulting or baiting..." her dark eyes moved back to Jayne, "no scowling or ripping of limbs...tonight is about healing...not about giving River a headache..." she looked back and forth between them again, then commanded everyone, "now sit."

Wash watched in amazement as they all found places. He knew it wasn't precisely out of fear, more like shock. But it still made quite a sight.

Simon and Kaylee ended up on the porch swing, Mal in the other chair, Inara settling onto the footstool next to him, Book leaning on the railing and Jayne plopping down where he'd been standing. River gave a satisfied nod and sat down in Jayne's lap. Wash couldn't stop the grin forming at Jayne's obvious discomfort, but River was giving him that look again so he forced it off his face. He was more then happy to watch that look move on to Simon and Mal, stopping them before either could voice an objection to her choice of seating.

"So," Mal drawled instead, his voice getting that tense, captainy tone. "We jus' gonna sit here and...heal?"

"I was thinking we could sing campfire songs..." River replied calmly. She looked at Mal, her head tilted to one side, and smiled as she started to sing, "I'm a little coconut, lying on the coco ground, everybody steps on me, that is why I'm cracked you see...I'm a nut...I'm a nut...I'm crazy..."

Wash was sure he'd never heard that one before, have to remember to teach it to his dinosaurs.


Zoë knew she had to get her mind back on the job at hand. Now was not the time for aimless daydreaming. Even if they were on Liberty's first moon instead of Liberty itself. She was mighty glad Matty had known a guy on moon one that might be able to take the cargo off their hands. Really hadn't been looking forward to Mal in a bar on an Alliance friendly planet trying to make a contact with only the hint of an idea who to talk to.

From what Matty'd said the moons tended towards Independent sympathies though they had never openly shown them, as much as they depended on Liberty to survive she couldn't blame them. But she did wonder if Jayne had been aware of that. And if he had been, when he'd been planning to let Mal know there was a safer place to fence the goods.

"Somethin' ya need to talk on?" Mal asked her. "We're a mite early, bar's pretty deserted too."

Which meant there was something Mal wanted to talk on. Since he had not been there to overhear her and Wash's conversation last night, she knew it had to be about River. And maybe Jayne, they hadn't hashed that over yet. Both of them hoping it was nothing more then a crush on River's side. She looked around the bar, only her and Mal, the bartender and one other guy. Both of whom were situated to far away to catch any stray conversation.

"You think this thing between them might be a problem?" she asked, already knowing he did. It had made her uncomfortable at first too, but the more she thought on it...

"You don't?" she held back a sigh at his accusation.

"First off, Sir," man could get so tetchy sometimes, "it isn't really any of our business, River is an adult now..."

"A very emotionally disturbed adult who ain't had no experience of this sort." Mal interrupted.

"Like you aren't, Sir," she smiled at him gently, to take the sting out of her words, "emotionally disturbed, that is. And perhaps it is time she got some experience of this sort."

Mal just stared back at her dumfounded, so she went on. "And the way I see it, she's gotten a hell of a lot easier to deal with since whatever happened between them that night, happened. She's communicating more, hasn't had no outbursts in over a month now. That's two weeks longer then she's ever gone before. Can't all be Jayne's doing, I know that. But he seems to calm her some, steady her." she paused to see how Mal was taking this.

"Might sound crazy, but even though she was tellin' me an' Wash about how she gets thoughts and feelings, I don't think she'd have been able to do that if she hadn't felt Jayne nearby. Think that was why she was wearing his hat and that sweater, anyone could tell his Ma had been knitting it for him. I think it was helping her feel more connected to him."

"She's changed him too. He's been moody as hell the last week, but that's 'cause he's fighting this and trying to deal with the loss of his Mother at the same time, can't hardly blame the guy. I really don't think he's any happier about this then you are."

"That supposed to make me feel better?" he said, "'cause it don't, man has a bad history of doin' stupid things when he feels trapped."

"Don't think that'll be the case here, Sir." her eyes drifted over to the door as a man entered, she cooly looked him over. He sure seemed to fit the description Matty had given them of Jon Clyne. Kinda short and scrawny with a tattoo just barely visible over his collar. Looked vaguely like Amie too, Matty'd said he was some distant cousin.

He walked over to their table after grabbing a beer from the bar. "How's Amie doin'?" he asked as he casually sat down across from Mal.

"Fine, said to tell you howdy," Mal responded, keeping his tone as casual as Jon's. "asked if we could bring back word on how you and the missus were doin'."

"Jus' peachy," he grinned at Mal, showing a gap where he was missing a front tooth. "Matty said you had some thing's you'd be wantin' ta trade?"

Zoë was able to listen with half an ear to the business transaction between Mal and Jon and still keep an eye on the customers slowly filling the bar around them. It'd do them good to have a solid contact in this area, couldn't afford to have something, or someone, interfere with this first meeting. But Mal and Jon quickly came to an understanding and made plans to transfer the cargo over in half an hour. Her and Mal stayed for one more round after Jon left, thankfully the bar had filled up enough that Mal didn't bring River and Jayne up again.

She had more important things she needed to think about right now. Like how to tell Mal her and Wash had decided to have a baby. She let her mind chew on that while they headed back to the docks.

Maybe she should get Wash to tell Mal, but no, she loved them both too much to subject them to that. Mal deserved to hear it from her and Wash didn't deserve having to tell Mal. She'd already told Wash that she wanted to stay on Serenity if Mal was willing, she'd been pleased that he'd looked relieved at that. Flying was as much a part of him as watching Mal's back was of her. She had still expected him to make some quip about Mal being able to take care of himself, but he hadn't.

It seemed he had come to a kind of peace regarding her and Mal since Niska had taken them. She knew that was a large part of what had re-sparked her wanting a child. The sharp jab of fear that she had lost Wash and Mal when she first realized who had taken them. But she hadn't lost them, she had gotten them both back. Might be they were changed by the experience, but they both lived and that was enough.

She headed up to the bridge as soon as they got back, leaving Mal to wait for Jon and his men in the cargo bay. Making a brief stop by the engine room to let Kaylee know they'd be leaving soon.

"We made the contact, Mal wants to leave soon as the deal is done." she told Wash, smiling at his startled look. He still got embarrassed when she caught him playing with those damn dinosaurs. She noted with amusement he'd been singing River's campfire song through them.


She watched him walk towards the barn from the kitchen window, head down and shoulders slumped. Had heard him tell the Shepherd that he needed to go alone, needed to say goodbye in his own fashion. So much pain radiating from him. Old and new. She shoved the lunch she had prepared into his Ma's knitting bag and hurried out after him, ignoring the questioning looks from the others as she passed them.

Wasn't sure he'd let her go with either, but she had to try. And, if nothing else, she was fairly certain he'd take the food.

He was already in the barn saddling up Moonshadow, she paused in the doorway to watch him. His big hands surprisingly agile as they tightened the straps of the harness. He glanced over at her briefly then returned to getting the horse ready to ride out to the graves. Didn't say a word and his thoughts had become closed off. It was getting rare for her not to be able to sense anything at all from him. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she moved closer.

She reached into the knitting bag and pulled out the food she'd packaged up, placing it in the saddlebag hanging over the stall nearby. She had meant what she'd said to him when he'd asked why she left without meeting Matty, she was not going to intrude anymore. If he did not want her with him she would remain here. Would not even ask if he wanted her along, would wait for him to ask or leave.

She turned around to look at him again. He was standing there staring back, even his face a blank to her. Just his eyes, gleaming darkly under the black brim of his hat, hinting at hidden emotions.

Moonshadow let out an uneasy huff behind him, protesting the tension. River moved over to murmur in his ear, amazed at how much smarter horses were then cows. She had never been this close to one before. Had only seen pictures and caught a brief glimpse of the ones left around Nandi's place after Petaline gave birth, but she had not had time to go over and say hello to them.

Jayne moved over to grab the saddlebags, tossing them casually over Moonshadow's back.

"That goin' too?" he asked, indicating the knitting bag.

"I was going to finish your sweater." she said shyly, not sure how he'd take the idea. His mouth pressed into a thin line as she glanced up at him, but he said nothing. Just picked it up and placed it into the other side of the saddlebags. Her heart skipped a beat. He moved behind her and grabbed her gently around the waist, lifting her easily onto the saddle. She gasped in sudden terror and latched onto the pummel for dear life.

It was so...strange, not at all like being on a ship or a hovercraft. She was at Moonshadow's mercy. Something not right about riding someone with thoughts and feelings.

Jayne chuckled up at her, "Don't tell me you ain't never ridden a horse before?"

"No..." her eyes pleaded with him to get her down. But he just gently uncurled her fingers from the pummel, guiding them off to the sides. Then he grabbed hold of it and swung himself up behind her, the saddle tilting slightly under his weight. River felt like she might be sick. Moonshadow let out a puff of air in disgust at the added burden of Jayne, but he just told him to buck up and take it like a man.

River felt a bit better with the solid mass of Jayne behind her, his arms wrapped around her to hold the reins...his chest firm against her back...his legs pressing up under hers. She shook her head to try and clear it out...too many sensations. Horse under her, Jayne behind her, the swaying as they started moving.

"Relax," his breath grazed her cheek as he spoke, "hold on to the pummel now, grip slightly with yer knee' this." she felt his leg muscles tense to demonstrate. "Jus' let yer body move with the horse."

Slowly she felt her body relax into Jayne's, picking up on how he adjusted for Moonshadow's every movement, the subtle tensing and easing of muscles to let Moonshadow know what he wanted. Her body learning how to anticipate and counter-balance. Her fear waned and she began to enjoy the freedom of riding out on the open plains, the communion between man and horse, the wind running caressing fingers in her hair. She laughed lightly as Jayne cursed behind her, pulling her hair out of his mouth again.

"Should'a chopped it off 'fore we set out." he grumbled, gathering as much of it together in one hand as the wind let him. He gave it a twist, careful not to tug it out of her scalp, and tucked it between them gently.

"Don'cha dare shake it loose again." he warned when she started to turn around to glance up at him. She faced forward again with a happy smile.

"Yes sir" she replied teasingly.

"So how is it a rich, fancy girl like yourself ain't never learned ta ride?" he asked, gently but firmly holding her still when she tried to turn around again.

"No horses on Osiris," she felt a sadness at that now, then her voice took on her father's clipped, formal tones, "horses are for people that can't afford better."

She felt his sharp burst of anger at the comment. Then it eased as he processed that she hadn't said it in her voice. Relief flooded her at the return of his emotions, it felt empty without them at the edge of her awareness. His pain returning to the forefront as they topped a hill and looked down on the graves. Three tombstones and one freshly dug, left unmarked till the dirt re-settled. His grandpa, who had first moved here from Liberty after his wife died leaving him with a small son to raise, his father, Timmie and now his Mother.

He slid off the horse then reached up and lifted her down. They stood for a moment facing each other, River's hand drifting up to caress his cheek softly. The stubble rough under her fingers before they moved down to the softer goatee on his chin. With a sigh she moved closer winding her arms around him, her cheek resting over his heart. His arms enclosing her in an ackward, yet gentle hug.

Then he was drawn away, the ghosts calling to him. She pulled the knitting bag out and settled under the scrawny tree providing it's pale shelter over the small cemetery. Moonshadow grazing peacefully nearby. Studying the knots forming the sweater intensely, trying to puzzle out how to make them. Jayne's emotions lapping like waves around her. She tugged the last knot out gently, watching it knit in reverse. He let the memories he'd been holding back come as he crouched at his mother's grave site. She looped the yarn around one needle and carefully placed it back, then started adding from the new ball of yarn; knit, pearl, knit, pearl. He reached out, scooping up a small handful of the loose dirt and let it slide out between his fingers.

The day moved towards it's zenith as they each focused on their separate tasks. Jayne saying his goodbye's and River learning to knit. Over an hour passed before either spoke.

"Matty gonna be Ok?" he asked her as he moved over to stretch out next to her. She knew Simon had told him he would be, that it was just a matter of having been taking medicine that only treated the symptoms, not the cause, before. Knew that he needed reassurance that Simon was right, Matty was the only real family he had left now. So she smiled and gave his hand a light squeeze as she answered truthfully, "Yes."

He looked over at where his mother was buried, a slight frown creasing his face. He pushed his hat back and tilted his head, checking the sun's position.

"Ma used ta know things, like when we was in trouble." he was trying to sound casual.

"Most mothers do..." she told him reassuringly.

"Did yours?" he asked, his gaze settling on her face at last. She could feel his curiosity about her family. Knew he'd picked up that they hadn't been much like his.

"no..." she folded the sweater on her lap, trying to think how to explain her family to him. "children are to be seen, not heard...their worth measured in what they can bring to their families honor...not to say we were not loved...we were...Simon, a little more so..." she smiled sadly at him.

"He was the perfect one, brilliant, handsome, aware of his place and purpose...perfectly suited to the role he was chosen to play...then there was River, a girl child should be beautiful and graceful, smart and witty, not so smart that she scared all potential matches away...not so gifted that she had no place in society." she could feel the anger at her parents flow over from him.

"not their fault, just how it is." she clasped his hand again, this time keeping it wrapped in her tiny fingers. "the school offered us all hope...a place for me to find a place I fit...they could have denied me that."

"Should'a..." he growled. "should'a helped Simon git ya out of there too."

"maybe..." she said softly, "they would not have survived losing everything see how hard it has been for Simon, imagine two individuals ten times more "proper" and "uptight" then him trying to make do in the black." she smiled at Jayne's chuckle. His face grew somber again.

"Don't sound like much of'a childhood ta me." she tilted her head and grinned down at him playfully.

"why do you think I like playing with Kaylee so..." Both of them froze at the sound. A twig snapping, closer then anyone should have been able to get to either of them. Jayne cussed under his breath as he sat up, turning as a figure came over the hilltop. River heard herself curse softly, shouldn't have gotten so wrapped up in Jayne...should have sensed Sal getting near.

"Knew I'd find ya here Cobb," he sneered down at them, "always was too soft on your womenfolk." he cocked his rifle and leveled it at Jayne's head.

"What'cha want Sal." Jayne snarled as he stood, his body uncoiling slowly. His hand ready to go for his gun as soon as there was an opening. River stood up as he moved in front of her.

"Justice," he replied, "seems everyone's paid but you."

"Oh, I paid," his voice dangerously low, "I lost a sister to you wang bao dahn's."

River felt like her head was going to explode from the screaming. Needed out, wanted to get out. She moved around Jayne gracefully, starting to move slowly towards Sal. Felt Jayne's panic like a knife, but Sal's finger tightened threateningly as he shifted the rifle to her when he tried to stop her.

"What we got here, yer daughter?" Sal asked with a leer. "Not as purdy as Timmie was, but she might do for a bit of fun after I finish you off."

Stupid man just saw a harmless little unarmed girl heading towards him, did not see the purpose in her eyes. She heard Jayne's angry and anguished growl behind her. She paused and glanced back at him, letting him catch a glimpse of her eyes, hoping he'd understand, at least enough not to interfere. He froze. She turned back to Sal, closing the small space remaining. So close now his rifle was alongside her and at last he saw something in her to fear. But it was far to late.

"present from Timmie" she whispered as she reached up and placed one small hand on each side of his head. She let the screams out and they slammed into his brain.

He fell to his knees in front of her, his screams rising in pitch to match Timmie's. The pain of Will thrusting between her legs, Sal and Andy pinning her arms and laughing down at her, blood flowing like water, the fists and feet cracking ribs as she lay there sobbing, Will's boot catching her skull turning her whole world red...

With a gasp River pulled away, dazed at the sight of Sal quaking in horror. Felt Jayne catch her as her trembling legs gave out, dimly aware he'd kicked the rifle out of Sal's reach. Not that he was in any shape to think of using it. Jayne set her down tenderly, his gaze warm on her face.

"You gonna be all right?" he asked, his voice shaking slightly in concern. Her eyes searched his, relieved when they found only the fear that she was harmed, no hint of fear at what she had done. Her smile flashed brilliant in spite of the throbbing in her head. She let her eyes close as he gently brushed the hair from her face.

When she pried her eyes open again she was staring at Jayne's back. His knees drawn up, arms crossed almost casually on top of them, his gun held ready, the rifle resting beside him. Still groggy, she wondered how long she'd been out, fifteen minutes? Half an hour? Hadn't been long, but Sal had stopped making those whimpering noises.

She pushed herself up to a sitting position, feeling her muscles and head protest...with a twinge of humor she made a mental note not to make it a habit of channeling angry dead people's memories into unwilling "victims". Had not been near this hard giving Jayne his mother's message, but that had been to Jayne, whom she had already had a bond with. Plus the images and emotions had not been nearly as violent as Timmie's had been. And in spite of what the Captain and the others believed Jayne's mind was a pleasant place to be, unlike Sal's. She shuddered and leaned against Jayne's broad back, letting his strength flow around her.

"What did that witch do ta me?" Sal asked, his voice still shaking with fear.

"Looks ta me like she taught ya what it feels like ta be raped." Jayne said coldly.

"I never raped yer sister, never killed her neither." he protested.

"No," River said, scooting around Jayne so she could face Sal, "you just held her down and laughed as someone else kicked her and hit her...left her for dead. Might not have been the worst but both what you did and what you didn't do contributed to her horror, pain and death." she looked at his sharply as he started to protest again.

"And you never once felt regret over it." her eyes bore into him, "you feel women are like horses or cattle, that they are property to be used by men as they see fit. Even in the years you spent in jail you never did penance. Because you felt you had done nothing wrong. Well, now your penance has been visited upon you, you shall carry the cross of Timmie's last moments until you draw your dying breath."

"But take heart, Sal," she smiled at him, "your soul has a chance for redemption that Andy and Will's did not. They died never accepting the sinful deed's they had done. You have a chance to repent, to make things right before your time comes."

"I suggest ya start prayin'." Jayne said with an evil smile. "Oh, an' if'n ya even think of gettin' any sort of mob out ta the farm for some kind of...retaliation..."

He just let the words dangle there as Sal managed to get to his feet and stumble off in terror.

"I think he pissed his pants." he drawled at her. She giggled at that.

"Know he did." she smiled at him.

"Yep, that's my girl," he wrapped an arm around her and drew her close, "makin' grown men wet themselves in pure terror."

"Figure's that'd be the key to your heart." she pouted as he let out a husky chuckle.

"Yep, that an' food," he glanced around, "only I'm thinkin' a change of view 'fore we eat might be in order. Where's that damn horse."

She pointed as Moonshadow came up over the rise behind them. Smiling innocently at Jayne's bemused look. She scurried over to start gathering up her knitting things before he could say anything.

As she put them in the saddlebags she felt Jayne come up behind her. Gently he started moving his fingers through her hair, working the knots out. Quickly weaving it into a braid. She stood still as he fished in his pocket for a second, pulling out a piece of string to tie it off with. She leaned back against him, her head tilting to the side as his fingertips lightly grazed her neck. Little sparks of electricity dancing over her flesh. He let out a soft groan as his lips nuzzled the place his fingers had just stroked. It felt like liquid fire was burning in her veins, even as it tickled.

"That gorram neck'a yours is gonna be the death of me." his voice husky. Arms winding around her, pulling her tight as he struggled to get himself back under control. River noticed with wonder that her passions receded with his, somehow his pushing his feelings back...took her's there too. Interesting.

As he lifted her into the saddle she wondered if it wouldn't be more comfortable if she was behind him.

"Prob'ly," he said with a smirk, "but not as much fun."

She looked down at him solemnly as the shock of what had just happened hit him.

"Ya didn't say that...out loud, did ya?" she shook her head no.


Friday, April 2, 2004 6:57 PM


I love the relationship you portray between Jayne and River. was a tad disappointed at the beginning but by the end they had returned to their easiness with the touch of unfamiliarity. Guess I'm just spoiled by having seen them in Back to Serenity.

River on a horse -- that was a good one!

Another great addition to your j/r saga. Can't wait to see the next part/story.

Friday, April 2, 2004 6:58 PM


what a great pair those are...this is a really entertaining story...can't wait for next installment

Friday, April 2, 2004 7:00 PM


what a great pair those two are...this is a really entertaining story...can't wait for next installment

Saturday, April 3, 2004 5:47 AM


I am sooo loving this! And the way you keep switching narrative voices - brilliant!

Saturday, April 3, 2004 3:35 PM


I hope there will be future installments, you are a wonderful writer and I am really enjoying the Jayne/River ship (but I'm sure Joss would be really shocked! LOL). Thank you so much!


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Delta Rain - Torrents chapter 5
The crew starts making plans to rescue Simon and Jayne.

Delta Rain - Torrents chapter 4
Serenity reaches Whitefall while Jayne and Simon continue to be at the Blue Hands "mercy".

Ballet And Bullets chapter 2
River and Jayne reflect on their meeting, and Inara goes to the ballet.

Tarnished Gift
An AU...just a little "what if" scenario I couldn't shake.

Delta Rain - Torrents chapter 3
A brief interlude as Serenety and crew make their way to Whitefall.

Ballet And Bullets chapter 1
A River and Jayne (of course) centered AU, River went to a ballet academy instead of The Academy.

Delta Rain - Torrents chapter 2
Things go from bad to worse. Don't they always?

Delta Rain - Torrents chapter 1
Mal tries to figure out what happened to Simon and Jayne.

Delta Rain - Torrents prologue
The sequel to Delta Rain begins. A little shopping expedition goes awry.

Delta Rain part 3
The conclusion to Delta Rain.