Summery: Ariel AU. Simon gets left behind.
This is, in fact, sort of a Rayne story. But not exactly. *innocent smile*
Massive thanks to michmak for the beta. She who keeps me from comma abuse.
Lovingly dedicated to literarylemming, without whom this would not exist. She is responsible for feeding the bunny. All credit (and blame for the crack) goes to her. Im just the messenger.
All parts found HERE.
Kaylee looked up as Jayne strode into the mess hall. His face was closed and cold, but when he saw her, something in his shoulders relaxed a fraction. He turned half around, looking at the door behind her.
“Simon ain’t up yet,” she offered, dropping a stack of bowls on the table. “Wash is in the cockpit, Zoë should be headed up for breakfast soon, and Mal and Inara are yelling at each other.”
“They ain’t never figured it out?” Jayne sat down with a grunt, throwing the door behind them another look.
Kaylee rolled her eyes with a grin. “You know the captain, stubborn to the last.” She looked down at the table. “’Sides, things got a little complicated after you was took.”
Jayne snorted. “Complicated. Yeah. I figured, when Mal said that the doc was the muscle ‘round here.”
He eyed the door again, and Kaylee turned around just in time to see a small hand disappear back out of the frame.
“You can come in,” he told the door. “Ain’t nobody here but Kaylee, and she don’t bite.”
Slowly, Birdy peeked around, eyes wide and a little apprehensive. “She will not yell at me?”
Jayne leaned his elbows on the table and gave her a stern look. “Would I let her?”
Wide eyes blinked slowly, and then Birdy herself slipped into the room, scooting sideways and ducking behind Jayne’s bulk as soon as she was close enough.
“Hello, Kaylee,” a shy voice offered from behind Jayne.
Kaylee felt her mouth tugging up in a smile. “I don’t think we been introduced proper yet.” She held out her hand. “I’m Kaylee Frye.”
One little hand crept out. “Birdy Cobb.” Birdy edged out from behind Jayne, trailing her other hand down his arm to his hand. He squeezed it comfortingly, but didn’t interrupt.
Kaylee shook Birdy’s hand carefully. She was still confused by this whole not-River mess, but that weren’t no reason to forget good manners.
She took the chance to examine Birdy, aware that the younger woman was examining her just as carefully.
She still looked like River, but for the short hair and the little bit of extra weight this one had. Unlike River, who always looked like she was going to break in two if the wind blew wrong. Birdy looked like she ate regular.
Jayne was watching them both, eyes a little anxious, not that he’d admit to it. The hand that Kaylee didn’t have was tucked tightly into his, where it almost disappeared – it was so little.
Birdy tilted her head to one side, eyes wide with shy curiosity. “Hello, Kaylee,” she repeated
“Hello, Birdy,” Kaylee said solemnly. “It’s very nice to meet you.” A hundred questions went through her head, but she held her tongue. There would be time for them later. Right now, they was making friends.
Birdy released her white knuckled grip on Jayne and leaned against him, offering Kaylee a tentative smile. “Do you like plants?”
Jayne relaxed another fraction as Kaylee gave Birdy her brightest smile.
“I don’t know much about plants,” Kaylee chirped, “but if you wanna know anything about machines, I’m your girl!”
Birdy almost giggled, hiding her mouth behind her hand.
Jayne stayed real still as she scooted out from under his arm a little. She leaned forward, resting her chin on her hands.
“Jayne made me a machine to help haul water to my garden,” Birdy offered. “Jacob and Samantha enjoy the water very much, so they are planted beside the river.”
“Oh!” Kaylee jumped up and rushed behind the small counter. “I picked this up for you, from..well..yesterday.” She lifted a cloth wrapped bundle and placed it in front of Birdy carefully. “Don’t know if you can do anything to save it, but it seemed wrong to just give up on it.”
Birdy gave Kaylee a confused look, but unwrapped the odd looking package.
Jayne reached for his gun reflexively when Birdy cried out. She turned towards him, her arms full of something weird and crackly, ‘fore he could do more than put his hand on his gun.
“It’s Theodore!” Birdy held up the small mess of twigs. Her face was shining. “He isn’t all dead!” She cradled the plant to her, offering Kaylee a blinding smile. “I thought he was gone, but you saved him!”
Jayne took a closer look at the bundle she was cuddling in her bandaged hands, and sure enough, it was the plant she had brought as a housewarming gift for the crew. It looked awful broken, but if she said it was still alive, then she had a chance to save it.
He tugged a lock of her short hair affectionately. “Good thing, Birdy girl. You only brought how many others with you? Crammed into my stuff like you thought I wouldn’t notice?”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Had to leave most. I only brought the ones who wanted to come.”
He chuckled, tugging her into an affectionate hug. “You three alright by yourselves for a bit?” He was speaking to Kaylee too, but he kept his eyes on Birdy.
She gave him a small smile, and he knew she was alright if he left.
“Three?” Kaylee asked with a puzzled look on her face.
“Theodore,” Birdy explained, laying the broken plant gently on the table. “He counts too.”
Kaylee nodded, still looking a little confused.
Jayne let himself grin as he stepped out of the mess, even though he wasn’t looking forward to where he was going. He had to find Mal, ‘cause he was sure the Captain was gonna have some things they needed to talk about. And none of those things needed to be said in Birdy’s hearing.
But she and Kaylee were getting along, and he found himself to fairly relieved. Kaylee thought good of everyone, and if she was willing to befriend his Ladybird, Jayne would personally buy her strawberries in the next three towns they stopped in.
If she could keep the Doc from causing trouble, Jayne would nominate the girl for sainthood.
Behind him, he heard Kaylee’s voice raise in a question about Birdy’s plants.
END PART TEN