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.
Round Up Post Here
Birdy led Jayne back to their bunk in silence. She had to coax him into the hallway after the Captain left, and it was a slow journey of a few steps. She was grateful that none of the other crew was around. Dealing with the Captain had been difficult enough, and she knew that Jayne trusted the man. But she wasn’t comfortable dealing with any of them. She knew how to care for Jayne when this happened. She didn’t need any help.
His hand was cold in her small one, and she could tell by looking that he wasn’t fully back yet. His eyes were still slightly unfocused, and he let her tug him down the ladder without arguing. He almost missed the first rung. She grabbed his arm in panic.
“Sorry, ladybird,” he whispered on the last rung. His face was lined with strain, and he tucked shaking hands under his arms as he put his feet back on solid ground. He didn’t look up. The after headache was lurking at the edges of his vision, and he kept graying out. He swayed on his feet.
Birdy flipped off the harsh overhead light and patted the bed beside her. “Come here.”
The dim light was a relief to his head and his eyes, and he sighed in thanks. Jayne slid down onto the bunk, leaning heavily back against the wall. He had at least two guns jamming him in the back, but he didn’t do more than shift some. He rubbed his eyes tiredly. “I didn’t mean to get lost again.”
“I know. It’s ok.” She curled up beside him, tucking her head against his shoulder. His heart beat was steady and strong under her ear, and she relaxed slightly at the sound. She pulled his arms around her and looked up into his face.
“It happened in front of Mal, didn’t it?” His voice was bleak, and a sardonic smile twisted his lips.
Jayne chuckled harshly. “I thought this was the right thing to do, Birdy, I really did.” He looked defeated, slumped back against his guns, large hands hanging uselessly at his sides. “I shouldn’t have drug you away from your garden and from River like that. Shoulda known it wouldn’t work out.”
“Nothing has happened yet,” Birdy reminded him gently. “You have always told me that the Captain doesn’t leave people behind.” She ran her fingers lightly over the scar winding its way down his face. She looked him directly in the eyes. “You are his people.”
Jayne looked at her and she couldn’t read his expression. “I ain’t anymore. Not for a long time.”
“Not since Ariel and River,” she finished for him, placing her fingers over his lips. “I know.”
“What good’s a merc who can’t even keep his head on the game?” Jayne demanded. He sighed and rested his head on hers. “What good am I gonna do on this ship, if I can’t do the job for fear something is broken in my brain?”
Birdy hugged him silently, knowing there was nothing she could say to help him. She tucked him into the bed and sat beside him stroking his hair until he fell asleep.
Jayne was broken. She knew that. Whatever had happened to him and River had broken the both of them.
The difference was that Jayne had lived, and River had died. The difference was that Jayne could still function, most days.
She hadn’t known the Jayne before, just like she only had a few memories of River, but she wondered how different they had been before. The rest of the crew had been giving Jayne some odd looks, but Birdy had thought that was because of her. She hadn’t considered that it was because her Jayne wasn’t their Jayne.
She pressed her lips to her husband’s forehead. He wasn’t feverish, which was a relief. Sometimes it would take him days to get better after a bad episode.
Birdy hugged the sleeping man carefully. “We will be ok,” she promised him. “Everything is going to be ok.”
“You scared me.”
Jayne squinted into the dark, trying to see the girl. His head was throbbing, and he was lying on the ground. Had they been attacked?
“River?” he croaked. His throat was dry, and he coughed.
“Shh,” she soothed, one little hand reaching to cup his face. “It’s Birdy.”
He jerked away in alarm, regretting the motion instantly as the pain behind his eyelids pounded louder. “What happened? Did somebody come? Are you ok?” He lurched to his feet, looking around cautiously. It was night, and they were outside the house beside the garden.
Her face wrinkled in concern. “You left.”
“What do you mean, I left? I didn’t go nowhere.” Jayne grabbed for the stair railing as the world spun uncomfortably. Birdy’s frightened voice rang in his ears as his knees buckled.
“Jayne?” She was crying. He could hear it in her voice. “Please don’t go away again!”
“I didn’t go nowhere,” he panted. He rested his head against the bottom step and closed his eyes.
“You did!” Birdy was kneeling beside him, clinging to his hand tightly.“You left, and I thought you were leaving like River left, and then I would be all alone!” She wiped her wet face with a dirty hand, still clinging to his with the other. “Please don’t leave,” she pleaded.
She had the biggest eyes. Bigger than River’s even. Jayne blinked at her in confusion. He nodded, slowly, so as not to set off any more chain reactions in his head. “I ain’t going nowhere,” he told her, voice heavy with fatigue. He tried to wave off her concern, but couldn’t move his hand under hers. So he squeezed her hand instead.
Her hand felt good in his. Small and delicate.
She smiled tremulously at him. “You’ll stay with me?”
“I’ll stay with you, Birdy.” He squeezed her hand again as his voice slurred with exhaustion. “Promise.”
END PART FIFTEEN