Spoilers: Set DURING SERENITY.
Summery: Jayne and Zoë, behind blast doors. River-centric.
completely unbeta'd. if you see something stupid, lemme know.
“How long do you think it will take?”
Her voice was strained as she answered. “Not long. Five or ten minutes, maybe.”
“She’s just so..little.” His eyes were fixed on the shock doors in front of them. His fingers stayed curled around his gun.
Zoë looked at him from where she was crumpled against a crate. “Yeah.”
He didn’t turn around, but he knew the doc was fading. He could hear Inara trying to talk calmly to him, as he gasped out which meds to use, and how. For Kaylee.
And outside, somewhere beyond those thick doors, was a ship full of Reavers, and one little girl.
“You think.” He hesitated.
“I don’t know,” she murmured. “I just. I don’t know.”
“She is fast.”
“You didn’t see her in the Maidenhead,” he said. “She moves like..I don’t know. Something.” He looked down at the gun in his hands, absently checking the number of shots left.
Beside him, Zoë was silent.
They sat and watched the non moving door for a moment.
“I can’t hear nothing,” he finally said.
“Doors are too thick.”
“I can’t help but wonder, you know?”
“Yeah.” She swallowed, the sound audible in the odd silence. “Thought you didn’t like her.”
“I got nothing ‘gainst her, ‘cept some bruises and a tendency to knock me unconscious.”
“Sounds like plenty.”
“Yeah, well. I might actually admit to deserving two outta three a those.”
She actually sounded like she might be smiling there behind him. “Might?”
He grunted. “Alright, so, most likely did.”
There was silence again. He could hear Kaylee whimpering a little, real soft. And he weren’t about to turn around to see what kind a shape she was in. There was something wrong about seeing her with a gun in her hands. And seeing what a gun had done to her, again, might make it so he didn’t turn round in time when the doors opened.
He couldn’t risk that.
So, he sat. And he held onto his guns.
And he wondered about the little girl outside the door.
“I saw the tapes,” Zoë volunteered from behind him. “She’s a good fighter. Got good instincts.”
“Don’t know how much good that will do her ‘gainst Reavers.”
“Reavers are something else.”
“So is she.” He pressed his fingers into the bullet wound in his shoulder. “I actually laid hands on her, in the bar fight. It was kinda like holding a live grenade.”
“What, dangerous and stupid?”
“Naw. It was. It was a rush, you know?” He didn’t wait for an answer, just kept talking. He could feel the look she was giving him. “Right before you drop it, when you pull the pin, you feel like you’re in control of it. But you ain’t. You are holding something in your hand that can tear you into bits.”
“But she didn’t.”
“She killed men that night.”
“I know.” He went silent again, listening to her breathing. It was easier to tell how everybody was doing by their breathing. Zoë sounded a little off. The doc had gotten really quiet-like. Inara was trying not to cry.
He wasn’t gonna think about Kaylee with darts in her neck.
“She didn’t kill you.”
When Zoë spoke, it almost startled him, and his fingers tightened briefly on the trigger. “Yeah,” was all he said.
“Don’t know.” He shifted a little, trying to find a way to hold Vera without putting more strain on his shoulder. “But, for a second, right before she put me out, she..stopped. Just froze, like. Thought maybe she knew me or something.”
“Think she did?”
“She went on and wiped the floor with me, didn’t she?”
“Maybe she was feeling mischievous.” Zoë raised an eyebrow at him.
He almost grinned at that. “Well, she would be one to decide to get my attention by kicking me around.”
“She probably figures you like it.”
“Yeah, well.” He shifted uncomfortably as he felt her eyes on his back, but she didn’t say anything.
He mentally counted the guns in his collection, stripping them down and reassembling them piece by piece. It was his favorite way of steadying himself before a fight.
“She’s just,” He started again, staring at the blast door. “She looks like she would break right in half, you know?”
Zoë was silent, just watching.
“Little bitty thing like that, she should be protected. You know, with a bodyguard or something following her around so she don’t get into trouble.”
“You gonna be her bodyguard, Jayne?”
“She don’t need one.” He studied the door again, absently noting the weak points and the scoring of battle. “She can take care of herself. ‘Cept when she forgets to do something. Like put on shoes, or eat. Or decides to walk out into space without a suit on to see if she can catch the stars, or something stupid like that.”
“Sounds like she does need one.”
“Even if she did, she don’t anymore.”
Zoë flinched. “You don’t know that.”
“No.” He’d been trying not to think about the Reavers getting their hands on her. “But it ain’t likely.”
Zoë nodded slowly.
He licked his lips. “I bet. I bet she did a lot a damage, though, fore she went down.”
“I bet she did.”
He wondered, again, if any of them were gonna get out of here alive.
“Tell me,” Zoë said. “Keep talking. Tell me what she looks like, when she fights.”
“She looks,” he hesitated. “She flows. One move into another, and she don't stop moving.”
“Belike.” He looked down, one more time, and counted ammunition. “I don’t use words like beautiful.”
“But if you did?”