Pairing, etc: River/Jayne
Prompt: # 65 Passing (For fanfic100)
Word Count: approx. 1300
Warnings: CHARACTER DEATH
Disclaimer: Joss is GOD and owns EVERYTHING, including my soul.
Author's Notes: This is an angsty piece that has been sitting on my HD for a while, unfinished, because the muse refused to cooperate. ishie posted a link to an article about the dearly departed, and greatly missed, Mr. Rogers and, finally in the right frame of mind, I decided to finish it. Un-Betaed, so all mistakes are mine.
“She’s dead,” Simon said softly, his hands shaking as he put the scalpel down. “The bullet nicked her aorta. She died almost immediately.”
“What do you mean ‘She’s dead'?” Jayne asked angrily. “You’re the best gorram doc in the ‘verse—she’s always saying so. I seen you pull Mal back a thousand times and he’s always shot up worse than this. Hell, you even pulled a bullet from his ruttin' brain!”
“Jayne, there’s nothing more I can do,” Simon told him hotly, racked with grief himself. Gently, the doctor closed his sister’s eyes and pulled the tube from her throat.
Pushing the smaller man aside, Jayne yelled, defiantly, “No she’s not!” Grabbing River by the shoulders, he pulled her up and cradled her lifeless body against his chest. “Baby girl, wake up,” he whispered, kissing her temple, her eyes, her sallow cheeks. “You can stop playing now," he crooned. "Come on, this ain’t funny.”
Letting out a long-held breath, Mal told him, “Doc did all he could, Jayne. What’s done is done. Ain’t nothing gonna bring her back,” he added, choking on the words as he placed a comforting hand on the mercenary’s back.
“Shut up. Just shut up!” he screamed, rocking back and forth. Shifting her onto one strong arm he straighten River’s bloody clothes, stroked her tangled hair, declaring, “She ain’t dead. She ain't! She’s just sleeping.”
“Oh Jayne,” Kaylee whispered, her hand pressed tightly against her mouth, her own eyes overflowing with tears.
Twisting to glare at Mal, his eyes flashing fire, Jayne snapped, “This is all your fault. I told you we didn’t need her for this run. But no, you always gotta have your way. Always gotta prove the captain knows best. Well, this time you didn’t know best, did ya?” he snarled. “I hate every one of you,” he cried. “Get out!”
Mal nodded tersely, letting the insults slide off him and, grabbing a softly weeping Inara by the elbow, walked quietly from the room. Zoe shook her head, angrily wiping at tears she didn’t shed, in public at least, for her own husband when he died, and followed him out. Helpless, Kaylee watched as Simon flitted around the room, absent-mindedly grabbing the things he'd need to prepare the young girl's body for burial; but she knew there would be plenty of time for that later. Right now, Jayne needed time to grieve. Wrapping her arms around the doc’s waist, she turned him toward the door and loving led the sobbing man back to their bunk.
Alone, Jayne finally let the tears fall.
“Oh River-girl. I am so sorry,” he whispered into her dark curls. “I shoulda fought harder for you to stay behind. Shoulda known you’d get hurt. Someone always gets hurt. It was my job to keep you safe, the one thing I promised you I’d always do, and I failed. I failed you,” he whined, sniffing.
With loving care he placed her back on the table and then paced the room, angrily knocking over bins and basins, sweeping supplies off of the shelves and onto the floor, yanking out drawers and tossing the contents across the room as he vehemently cursed Mal, Zoe, Kaylee, Simon, and finally himself.
“Looks like my Pa was right,” Jayne told her, ruefully. Hiccupping and wiping his runny nose with a now-bloody sleeve, his shaking knees gave way and Jayne fell toward the bed. “I am a stupid bastard that can’t ever do nothing right,” he declared. He swallowed heavily several times, trying to stem the flood of tears; and once he could breathe again, Jayne started in on her.
“You’re supposed to be a gorram reader!” he yelled, pointing his finger at her accusingly. “You shoulda known this was gonna happen, shoulda told me so that I coulda shot the bastard before he drew his gun. But no, you just jumped in front of me--you, a ninety pound piece of fluff trying to protect me. You know damned good and well I can fend for myself! I sure as hell don’t need the likes of you to take a bullet for me!”
Burying his face into her lap, Jayne sobbed, gritting his teeth. Angry at the 'verse, he punched the cold metal supports beneath her ‘till his hands were broken and bloody.
With a suddenly clarity, he sat back on his heels and wiped the tears away, leaving streaks of blood across his cheeks. He took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. “Lord, you know I don’t pray much, and I'm real sorry 'bout that. And about right now I wish the Shepherd was still around to help me say the right things. But I promise--I’ll mend my ways. No more swearing, drinking, stealing, fighting, killin’ people, smoking, whoring--well, I already gave that up for her--but I swear: I’ll do whatever you ask of me, Lord,” Jayne offered, plaintively. “I’ll even start going to church whenever we’re planet-side, and I’ll do my best to preach your word wherever we go. Just please, please, bring her back to me.”
But his heartfelt pleas echoed, unfulfilled, across the quiet room.
For months after River died Jayne drank like a sailor, wasting his money on whores and gambling away even the portion he normally reserved for his family. On more than one occasion Mal had to bail him out of lock-up after he got hauled in for fighting, and each time Jayne cursed the man for getting his girl killed in the first place, telling all and sundry that it should have been him that died. On a particularly nasty binge, he even took his frustrated anger out on Kaylee, telling the “stupid whore to see to her own miserable boyfriend” when she tried to cheer him up. That one earned him a black eye and a busted lip from a finally fed-up, and thoroughly pissed, Zoe.
Mal wanted to put him off the ship, but it was Simon who begged him not to. “He’s all I have left of her,” he cried. So the captain relented, allowing the merc to stay; but he confined Jayne to his room, leaving the man to his own miserable company.
He didn’t eat. He didn’t care for his weapons. He didn’t even bother to change his filthy, sweaty clothes or to bathe. For days Jayne stayed down there, drinking himself into a stupor in a vain attempt to dull the pain; desperately trying to forget her.
After a week he came out and joined them at the dinner table, but he refused to speak to anyone. Their well-meaning endearments and offers of assistance fell on deaf ears as Jayne purposefully ignored them, or glared them into silence. And even though life around him was tense, it looked, for a while, as if everything would finally be ok.
At least until the day Jayne almost got them all killed. Staring off into the distance, day-dreaming of her as Mal and the others delivered the cargo, he missed the sound of a gun being drawn, of a hammer cocking. All around them bullets flew, many of them hitting the crew, while Jayne just stood there and watched, uncaring, unfeeling, unmoving.
But it was seeing little Kaylee, bloody and badly injured as she lay on the same bed where River had died, that finally snapped him out of it. River wouldn’t have wanted her family to end up like this, wouldn’t have wanted them to die painfully, like she did, all for nothing. She wouldn’t have wanted him to fail them too.
Looking around the infirmary as the doc did his best to stitch them up, Jayne swallowed his anger, his pride, his pain, his vengeance and swore right then and there to do right by them.
And one day, many months later, while buying ammo for Mal, he stumbled across the most beautiful gun he’d ever seen. Sleek and shiny, deadly and powerful, he knew he couldn’t leave without it. Shelling out most of his cut from their recent job, Jayne took his new gun delicately into his loving hands and, placing it into his holster, christened her: River.