Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jayne, River, a bottle of bourbon ... and I am a tease, as this is more fluff before angst. We will get there, I promise! And please let me know what you think!


Jayne sucked down the last of the bourbon from his mug and looked at the bottle. Nearly empty. Still, he had another stashed, but it weren't gonna last long at this rate. Most nights, now, since Tetris, he’d been sitting up, staring into the bottom of the mug until his mind was woozy enough for sleep.

It niggled him, more than anything, that going down to that damn place had made him feel like this, and he couldn’t even take it out on the person who had made him. Told him, in no uncertain terms, with graphic descriptions, what she’d do to him if he didn’t.

“Ain't gonna let the father of my child die down on that moon, Jayne,” she’d said. “And neither are you.”

In the end he’d agreed just to keep her quiet, make her leave his bunk, but he’d kept his word, and Mal had come back. Only now he couldn’t sleep without benefit of rot gut.

Not that he minded tying one on, once in a while, or more regularly if it were offered, particularly if it came with female-type company, but Jayne was becoming aware this solitary drinking was happening all too often now, and it was taking more and more bourbon to make the dreams go away.

“They’ll go,” River said from the doorway. “Given time.”

“Wondered when you’d be getting here,” Jayne said, not bothering to look up. “Can’t seem to turn around lately without you getting in my way.” He shook his head. “And you’re supposed to be in bed. What would that doctor brother of yours say if he knew you were wandering around this time o’night?"

“No point in sleeping,” River said. “Not yet. It’s too noisy.”

Jayne cocked his head but couldn’t discern anything above the usual hum of Serenity’s engine. “Ain't nothing to hear.”

“Not that kind of noisy,” the young girl said, shaking her head at him as if he were the child and not her. “Simon and Kaylee are having sex, although how they can manage that around the baby, I don’t know.” She giggled suddenly. “I think Simon likes it though. And Mal and Freya are –“

“I get the picture,” Jayne said, his lip curled in disgust. “And I wish I didn’t.”

“I won’t be able to sleep until they do. Some nights I don’t sleep at all.” She wafted across to him, looking into the mug on the table. “And you can’t sleep either.”

“Just …” He stopped. “Look, I don’t have to be explaining myself to you,” he said gruffly, grabbing the bottle and pouring the remaining alcohol into the mug.

“You don’t need to explain. I understand jealousy.”

He reared up at her. “Ain't jealous!” he said savagely, standing only a few inches away. “And stop reading me!”

“If you’re not jealous I wouldn’t be able to see it,” she pointed out. “You want a mate.”

“I want what?”

“Someone to be at your side, to stay with you, to be there for you when you need them, to warm your bed, to –“

“Okay, okay,” Jayne interrupted. “And you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, moonbrain.” He dropped back down into his seat.

“I am not a moonbrain,” she said succinctly.

“Well, you act like one.” He lifted his mug then paused. “What’d you mean, you understand jealousy?”

She sighed. “I'm jealous of the love on this ship. On Serenity. My brother and his lady, the captain and his wife –“

“They ain’t married yet,” Jayne pointed out.

“In everything but name. Ever since she set foot on board.” She dropped her head a little so her curtain of hair hid her face. “And I want that.”

“Well, wanting ain’t gonna make it happen.” He took a slug of alcohol, letting it slip like sugared honey down his throat and feeling the kick in his guts.

“You could.”

Jayne started, jerking the mug and spilling bourbon on his hand. “What?”

“You could help,” River said.

“No, I couldn’t. Told you before, you ain't interested in me, and I ain't in you.” He licked his hand, his tongue feeling the calluses set into his skin from the butt of his gun. “All this talk about sex … ain’t natural from one like you.”

“I'm a virgin, Jayne,” River said softly, watching him closely.

Jayne blushed. “Never thought you were anything else. Ain't never seen you grapplin’ with no-one, so figured you were …” He searched for the right one.

Virgo intacta?” River supplied.

“I guess. If it means you ain't never been laid.”

“Never have,” she agreed. She sighed and he looked at her askance.

“You ain't really suggesting that we …” He moved his hand backwards and forwards in a gesture that was at once both lewd and somewhat endearing.

“Jayne, honestly … no.” She looked at him out of those big, dark eyes and smiled.

“Well, good. You ain't my type, girl.”

“I’m female and I'm breathing,” River said airily.

“That ain't everything,” Jayne protested.

“What, you like boys now?” River slid onto the table, swinging her legs. “Is that it? Is it my brother who turns you on now?”

Jayne was more than scandalised. He was shocked. “What’s a little thing like you know about stuff like that?”

“Didn’t answer.” She grinned. “Jayne likes boys.”

“I do not like boys,” Jayne said, every word a slow, deliberate statement. “’N’ if’n you ever go spreading rumours like that around, you’ll be feeling the back of my hand.”

“Jayne, your mouth is talking,” River said, sliding off the table and standing upright, her arms crossed in imitation of Mal, her voice a perfect impersonation. “Might wanna look to that.”

It looked and sounded so ridiculous that he laughed. “Moonbrain, you sure are crazy.” He shook his head, grinning, lifting the mug to pour the remaining drink down his throat. He reached for the bottle again, then remembered it was empty.

River floated across the galley to the cupboards, reaching up to the topmost and taking out the other bottle. “I think you need this,” she said, bringing it back to him.

“Stop doing that,” he said, taking it and breaking the seal. He tilted it, about to fill his mug again when she placed another cup next to his. He looked up into her face, surprised. “You want some?”

“Company,” she said. “No-one should drink alone.”

He looked into her eyes, then shrugged. She knew her own mind – well, maybe she didn’t but that wasn’t going to stop her. He poured a small amount into her cup and handed it across. “There you go.”

“Thank you.” She sipped the alcohol, no sign on her face that this was her first experience of drinking hard liquor. Then she reached over and picked up the pack of cards from the counter. “And I think these would be suitable,” she added.

“For what?”

“Drinking means playing cards. It’s what men do.” She sat down opposite him, pulling her chair in tight to the table.

“You ain't a man.”

“Tonight I am.” She put the cards down on the table. “What shall we play?”

“How ‘bout you play Patience ‘n’ I watch?”

“No,” she said firmly. “How about Cargo?”

“You know how to play that?” Jayne asked, bemused. “Ain't a girlie game.”

“Simon knows, so I do.”

“Should’ve guessed.” He moved his chair closer to the table. “Okay. But what we gonna be playin’ for?”

“Do we have to play for something?” she asked ingenuously.

“Girl, if you know how to play Cargo then you know you gotta make bets. Be playing for something.”

“Hmmn.” She pretended she needed to consider. “We’ll play for truth or dare.”

“You gotta be kidding.”


“I ain't afraid of nothing.”

She looked at him, reading his thoughts as if they were printed on his forehead. “No?”

“Reavers don’t count,” he said a trifle shamefacedly.

“Okay. So let’s play.”

He stared at her, wondering if he could just walk out on her, go to bed with the bottle, then realised she’d only follow him. She nodded slowly at him.

“Oh, tzao gao,” he said softly. “Okay.” He grabbed the cards. “But I deal.”


“And no mind reading.”

“It wouldn’t be fun if I did that.”

He glared at her for a moment but she looked truthful, so he nodded. “Okay. Cargo.”

“Can I shuffle?” River asked, a little smile sitting hopefully on her lips.

“I guess.” He handed the pack over and watched her cut, recut and cut again, moving cards to the back and front. “That ain’t how you shuffle cards.”

“It’s how I do it,” she said, laying them back down.

“Yeah, but you’re half a dozen boards short of a full deck,“ he said as he picked them up, tapped them into order on the table, and began to deal.

Four cards each face down in front of them both, two face up in the centre of the table. “You ready?” he asked.

She nodded, and they both picked up their cards.

He couldn’t believe it. He stared at his hand, glanced up at River who was studying her own, then back down. A perfect run. Virtually unbeatable. He tried not to smile, holding the poker face he’d perfected down the years in place. “So,” he said, looking up. “How many d’ya want?”

“Two.” She discarded a couple of cards into the centre of the table.

“You sure?” he asked, waving the deck. “If you want you can fold now.”

“Two,” she repeated, and he shrugged, dealing her a new pair.

She stared at them, her fingers making calculations on the back as if she was counting the molecules in the worn paint.

“So?” Jayne prompted.

“Aren’t you going to have some?” she asked, not looking up.

“I think I’ll play these. Give you an honest chance,” he said as nonchalantly as possible.

She lifted her head and smiled at him. “Then so will I.”

Jayne let the grin show on his face and laid his cards down on the table, face up. “Perfect run,” he said triumphantly. “Right through the set.”

River leaned forward, examining the images. “That’s a very good hand,” she said.

“So I win,” Jayne began to crow.

“But not as good as this.” She put her own cards down, one at a time, and Jayne’s eyes got wider in his skull as he saw the royal card of each set appearing. “Cargo,” River said, sitting back and crossing her arms.

“You cheated!” he accused.

“How could I?” River asked. “You dealt the cards.”

“’N’ you shuffled ‘em.”

“Jayne, do you know the statistical probability of being able to rearrange a random set of playing cards into a specific order through shuffling alone?” she asked, her pale face set with seriousness.

“No,” he admitted. “How much?”

River shrugged. “Lots. And I didn’t do it. Maybe you did, subconsciously,” she suggested.

“You saying I dealt ‘em that way so I’d lose?”

“Did you?”

“Girl, that bourbon’s gone straight to your head. I don’t lose.”

“You just did.” She leaned forward. “And now it’s time to claim my winnings. Truth or dare?” she asked.

“That ain’t - I don’t think that oughta count,” Jayne protested.

“You agreed to the wager.”

“I know, but I just …oh, tee wuh duh pee-goo.” He took a gulp of bourbon. “Okay. Truth.”

“Who are you really running away from?” River asked, her dark eyes fixed on him as she leaned forward.

“What?” Despite the alcohol that was finally reaching his brain, Jayne had enough self-control left to shake his head. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You said ‘truth’. So tell me.”

“No. There ain’t nothing,” he insisted. “Lemme do a dare instead. What do ya want? You like me to steal somethin’ out of ‘Nara’s shuttle? Maybe some of her pretty nether garments? Or maybe lock all the bunks so’s no-one can get out? How about something along those lines?”

She shook her head firmly. “I don’t want anything like that, Jayne.” She fixed him with a steady gleam in her eyes. “Kiss me.”

“What?” He moved back so fast his chair legs squeaked on the floor.

“Kiss me,” she demanded. “You lost, you took a truth but wouldn’t tell and played a dare, and I’m saying to kiss me. On the lips. With your mouth.”

“I don’t kiss no-one on the mouth.”

“Double negative!” she declared, grinning. “That means you do!”

“What?” he said again. “Look, girl, I ain't kissing you. Not that you ain't wan mei or nothing –“

“You think I'm beautiful?” she asked suddenly.

“I didn’t … I mean pretty.” He grabbed his mug and drained it. “Whatever you are, I ain’t kissing you.”

“You know that means you have to pay a forfeit, don’t you?”

He glared at her. “Girl, you’re a tease.”

River smiled. “It makes life more fun, don’t you think?” she asked.

He exhaled noisily. “I ain't gonna get out of this, am I?”

“No. Not unless you want me to tell everyone you welched on a bet.” Her face was serious, total honesty radiating from every pore.

“’N’ you would, too, wouldn’t you?”

She smiled. “Of course.”

“Okay. What do I have to do?”

“Find me someone.”

“What?” He sat up. “Who?”

“ A man.”

Jayne’s eyebrows threatened to disappear into his hair. “What the diyu for?”

“Because I want one.”

The big man’s mouth worked for a moment, his brain trying to clear the mental image of River locked in a passionate embrace with a boy whore, then managed to say, “Any particular one?”

She surprised him. “Yes. But not yet.”

“What’re you talking about, girl?” he asked. “There’s plenty of houses out there got young menfolk willing to take your -”

“That’s not why I want him. Nor should you be thinking things like that,” she admonished, and he coloured again.

“Well, what do you want him for? And who the hell are we talking about?”

She shook her head. “I’ll tell you when it’s time.”

“Time?” He stared at her. “You’re crazier than a grey hare on Sundays, you know that, don’t you?”

“Probably,” she agreed. “But you’re the one who has to keep their promise.” She stood up. “And I’m going to bed now. They’re asleep, so I should be able to as well.”

“Ain’t you gonna let me get my own back?” he asked, glancing down at the cards.

“I don’t need to,” she said, not looking round as she headed for the stairs. “Goodnight, Jayne”

He stared after her, then muttered, “Wahng-ba dan duh biao-tze!” She’d played him. That’s exactly what she’d done. And no matter what she said, she’d stacked the gorram deck! No way she could have got that hand, not in a million years.

He stood up, pushing his chair hard backwards. Well, she’d have to think again if she really thought he’d do whatever it was she wanted. Whatever the hell it was. Still, a bet was a bet, and he never welched if there wasn’t any profit in it, and … oh, guai. Better just wait and see if she remembered in the morning.

Picking up the cards, he put the stack back on the counter, and slid his bottle of bourbon back into the high cupboard. Still didn’t feel too sleepy, though. Not like some people. Funny how she could hear them when they were … A wicked grin suffused his face as an idea formed in the alcoholic mist in his brain. Well, if hearing her brother ’n’ Kaylee making out stopped her from sleeping, it probably meant that when he was … He chuckled evilly. And if he played it well enough, he could stop her falling asleep for a long time. He flexed his right hand and headed purposefully for his bunk.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006 3:28 AM


I love your capacity to write dialogue! I've always found it the most difficult thing, expecially in the vernacular of that universe, but i think you have pulled it off flawlessly!

ANd great story aswell! hehe

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 4:51 AM


That was great! Why do I have a feeling the man River wants Jayne to find is him? Oh, I can't wait ... Now, bring on the angst and stop torturing me already!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006 2:32 PM


i like the way you captured the speech patterns of both of them. well done!

Thursday, November 2, 2006 1:24 PM


Only River would employ reverse psychology on Jayne to eventually get her desired goal of Jayne being her mate...I presume;)

Though I am trying to restrain myself from busting a gut over Jayne keeping her awake by choking the chicken...cuz he would do that, ya know;)


Saturday, January 19, 2008 5:32 PM


eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. but so jayne. so it's delightfully eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew.



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