toxic_corn: Summer Glau is pretty. (river&jayne arm bonding)
[personal profile] toxic_corn
Title: The Job Description
Author: toxic_corn
Pairing: River/Jayne
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Everything is Joss's. Not mine.
Summary: River has a job for Jayne.
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] hyacinthian at my Rayne request post.


The Job Description


“Jayne?” Ignoring the girl, Jayne licked his finger and turned the page of his magazine with exaggerated care. “Jayne, I know you can hear me. The sooner you acknowledge my presence, the sooner you can return to your recreational reading.”


That was true enough but he couldn’t let her know that. So Jayne looked up with enough barely controlled impatience so that the casual viewer wouldn’t know her words had had an impact. His expression faltered however, when he saw her face was red and puffy from crying, eyes bloodshot.


“The hell happened to you?” Jayne asked.


“Kaylee says you’re a good builder. I have a commission for you.”


His ears perked up. “Is there any money in it?”


“Yes.”


“How much money?”


“Ten platinum.”


Jayne sighed. “Better than nothin’. Whaddya need me to do?”


She stepped into the room and to his everlasting horror and disgust, held up a dead ferret. “Could you build Heisenberg a casket?”


Jesu ta me de! You’re carryin’ around a gorram dead rodent?!” Standing up so swiftly his chair fell to the side, Jayne crossed to River and grabbed her by the back of her dress with both hands, lifting her off the ground and hauling her without difficulty down the hallway.


“What is the meaning of this?!” River squeaked in alarm.


“You’re throwin’ out that piece of lo se right now! Dontcha know it’s got a million diseases and germs?! Some damn genius you turned out to be, you dizzy girl!”


River burst into fresh tears and Jayne’s pace slowed slightly. “Heisenberg isn’t an it, he’s a he and he was my only friend and now he’s dead and I only want a casket for him so he can have a proper space burial and the way you’re carrying me hurts my stomach and armpits and if you won’t build him a casket I’ll do it myself and keep my money and I’ll do it better than you because I’m smarter!!”


Jayne stopped completely. “Right, I’m not sure what all you just said but if you promise to stop blubberin’, I’ll make you a damn box for your rat.”


“Ferret.”


Fine. I’ll build a gorram box for Hide-a-burg the Wonder Ferret, shiny?”


She sniffled. “Shiny.”


“All right then.”


“Jayne?”


He rolled his eyes. “What now?”


“Please put me down.”


“Oh.”


~*~



Jayne broke down some leftover crates for wood and started measuring slats for the blue prints River had given him. She‘d come up with a good design, functional and sensible but with some angles and carved spots that made it look kinda fancy. It made him wonder why the hell she’d bothered coming to him when she just as easily could’ve made it herself. Like she said, she was smarter. In a matter of hours, the box was finished and Jayne found himself admiring it. Nicest work he ever did. Maybe he and the girl could go into business making coffins for pets and make a goodly amount of coin. They’d split it sixty/forty with him in the majority since he was the damn labor and it was his idea.


“Are you finished?” The girl appeared by his side with a small bundle wrapped up in a white silk scarf.


“Yeah. That Eisenhauer?”


“Heisenberg,” she said quietly. She reached out and pulled the box toward her, looking it over a moment and then murmuring softly, “This is lovely, Jayne. Thank you.”


Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, Jayne rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, well, I take pride in my work.”


“It shows.” She lovingly laid the bundle inside the box and picked up the lid to carefully lay it in place. Without having to be asked, Jayne handed her the hammer and she nailed the lid tightly shut.


“So uh, you said Hi… the ferret was your only friend. What about Kaylee; I thought you two were pals.”


“We are. I meant I had no friends all my own.”


“Hell, I don’t have any of them either. Nothin’ wrong with sharing once in awhile.”


River looked up in amusement. “The captain won’t believe me when I tell him you said that.”


Jayne frowned in embarrassment. “Shut up.”


He felt a little bad when her amusement faded and she looked sadly down at the box. “Heisenberg was my best friend.”


“Haven’t had one of those in awhile,” Jayne said, nodding his understanding.


“Maybe one day we could be that for each other,” River said, keeping her gaze on the box. “Everyone needs a best friend.”


“Don’t worry, I ain’t that desperate,” Jayne said with a snort.


River raised her sad, too-old eyes to his. “I am.” She turned and went out the door and he started cleaning up his mess so he wouldn’t have to think about that too much.


~*~



Mal cleared his throat. “Hyman was a valued crew--”


“Heisenberg,” River, Inara, and Simon said.


“Heisenberg,” Mal repeated. “He was a valued crew member. As far as I know, he was the best ferret on this boat and our River took good care o’ him. When he passed unexpectedly from that tainted feed -- and you best believe I’m gonna have a few words with that pet shop owner -- he left a hole that won’t easily be filled.”


Kaylee sniffled but River stood quietly by the door, dry-eyed as Mal continued with his eulogy. Jayne shifted his weight and felt ridiculous for attending a ferret’s funeral. Why the hell had he even put on his best shirt?


“And so we say goodbye to Heisenberg. Good luck on your journey, little guy. Zoe.” The first mate nodded and pressed the button that opened the door and River stepped up to the air lock, gently placing the box on the floor and then stepping back so Zoe could shut the door once more.


Then the air lock opened a bit and Heisenberg was jettisoned out into space.


River’s face crumbled and unexpectedly, she went to Jayne and pressed her face into his chest. He and the crew stood there in shock for a moment but then Jayne wrapped his arms around her and set his chin on top of her head, glaring at anyone who would say anything. Wisely, they all held their tongues and instead patted River on the back comfortingly. Then they took off one by one until River and Jayne were alone.


“He’s really gone,” she finally said, lifting her face from his front. “I’m all alone.”


“Nah, no one’s alone on this ship. Everyone’s too big of a busy body.” He raised his voice and he heard an offended huff that sounded like Kaylee and then boot steps walking away. “You know what you said earlier about us maybe bein’ friends?”


“Yes.” She wiped at her streaming eyes and frowned up at him.


“Well, I reconsidered it and maybe it ain’t such a stupid idea.”


“Really? You’d do all the things Heisenberg used to do?”


Jayne nodded. “Ye- uh, wait. What’d he do?”


“Sit with me during meals, keep me company when it’s my turn to fly the ship, play with me, nibble on me, run aro--”


“Wait, wait, wait. Nibble?”


“Yes. Like this.” Before he could react, River leaned forward and bit his shoulder gently. When she saw the look on his face she giggled. “That isn’t required, however.”


He found himself starting to smile. “I don’t know about that. If I wanna do this right…” He snagged her arm and she struggled to get free, giggling uncontrollably. Jayne pulled her squirming body close and bit her shoulder in retaliation, keeping it light.


River kept giggling and then let out a satisfied sigh, nestling into his arms. He’d thought he’d let her go but apparently not. Huh. He could maybe get used to this.


“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” she murmured. “I’m going to go take a nap.”


“Okay.” Jayne dropped his arms and she stepped back with a smile and then walked away. Jayne watched her go, wondering when he‘d stopped thinking of her as a crazy, annoying little person he was forced into contact with. The whole ‘verse had gone all topsy turvy, that was for sure.


Suddenly, she stopped and looked over her shoulder at him. “Heisenberg always kept me company.”


“Is that right?”


“Yes.”


There was a long pause where that sunk in.


“Oh. So… I’m supposed to…?”


“Yes.”


“Oh, okay. Guess if a ferret can do it, I can too.” Jayne followed River to her room, realizing distantly that no one was going to like this development much. He was a little confused about it himself, truth to tell. Well, if Mal or her brother wanted to squawk, let ‘em squawk. He’d just tell ‘em it was in his new job description and they’d have to take it up with River.


His best friend needed him.


THE END
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