Chapter 1- Inara says.
Disclaimer- I play with them and put them back dirty.
Summary- After Miranda people are so involved with themselves that they missed out on the drama. Or did they.
DEDICATED TO MACS FOR BEING AWESOME
I suppose I should have seen it coming, or at least have been aware enough to recognise it when it did appear but, like so many of us, since Miranda my attention was otherwise engaged.
Miranda and the events on Mr. Universe’s moon were the catalyst for so many things both good and bad. It was a time for mending fences and reconciliation and renewal as well as heartache, pain and agony. After the Alliance left and our injuries began healing we were all so swept away in our own drama’s that certain things were missed.
As the star of the Companion’s Guild I’d been trained from infancy to note the subtle nuances of body language and unintentional behavioural patterns. I was schooled and versed in how to read males and females and sense what their thoughts were by their actions, and I had come to think of myself as something of an expert in the arena.
My only excuse for not noticing was my new relationship with Mal. I was distracted by the newness and sudden ease of our interactions and was swept away by the euphoria of our meshing.
Still, once a Companion always a Companion, and it wasn’t long until my training took over and I was able to step back to check on my extended and unusual family.
I was worried about Zoë and had mentioned her to Mal. Losing a loved one could be crushing and even though she seemed to be standing, I could feel the hollowness inside her. But she would never ask for my help and I was loathe to offer it. Mal knew what she needed and, for once, I allowed him to take the lead there.
Kaylee and Simon were easy enough to read. They were both easing into each others' company and revelling in their new-found intimacy.
Kaylee had even managed to get Simon to tell ribald jokes without stuttering and stumbling over every word. The latest one was one he had heard at college and even Mal was impressed at Simon’s attempt at levity.
That was when I happened to glance over to see if Jayne had appreciated the coarse humour and caught him sliding some of his own beans onto River’s plate.
I was so shocked my protein became lodged in my throat. I always thought “choking in surprise” was a metaphor. I was wrong.
It was only when Simon got to his feet to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre that I managed to swallow my shock.
Both Jayne and River were staring at me curiously as if there was something wrong with me. Their heads inclined at precisely the same angle of scepticism and curiosity.
Although the crew were understandably concerned over my unaccustomed lack of elegance, my own concern was piqued enough to continue watching Jayne and River.
As laughter and conversation returned, I saw Jayne turn back to River, pressing a roll into her hand. As the levity continued River’s attention to her plate waned but Jayne’s didn’t. As she slowed eating, the big mercenary nudged her and motioned at her plate, his head ducking the smallest fraction of an inch.
Zoë was giving an impression of her first meeting with Wash and under the cover of Mal’s explosive laughter, Jayne leaned down to River.
“Eat more,” he hissed.
I smiled at Zoë’s tale even as my attention was further captured by the drama playing out right in front of us. The gruffness in Jayne’s voice contained nuances of annoyance, concern and friendship as well as overtones of exasperation and dominance. Were they friends? Was that even possible?
I waited with bated breath for River’s response to Jayne’s implied authority.
“Full,” River whispered back from the corner of her mouth, her eyes pleading and lower lip pouting in attempted defiance but Jayne shook his head.
“Scrawny,” he hissed with a teasing glint around his mouth. “Need energy.”
River pouted more but acquiesced and scraped a few more beans into her mouth. Jayne patted her hand almost absently and turned his attention back to the conversation.
The gesture was friendly, flirtatious and unconscious. Jayne hadn’t even realised that he had reached out to touch the “crazy girl” just because. His behaviour was protective and possessive.
Jayne wanted to take care of River. He liked her.
In my years of training I had never had real trouble concealing my real feelings or reaction to things. But right now, if I were able, my jaw would drop to chest level.
The subtle nuances between the two had changed. Jayne was exhibiting not just protective but caring behaviour towards her. He was concerned for her welfare and by sharing food and encouraging her to eat he was almost nurturing her.
And River abiding by his commands meant that this was familiar behaviour to her. It meant that Jayne and River not only got along but had been doing so for some time.
How had I missed it?
What else had I missed whilst being wrapped up in Mal?
My instincts now fully engaged, I found myself watching Jayne and River more often, and within a few days I had realised that it was so easy because Jayne was rarely far from River’s side.
If Kaylee asked River to play a game in the cargo bay suddenly Jayne was there ostensibly moving crates or working out.
If Simon asked River to help him in the medical bay Jayne appeared soon after, looking for gauze or ointment and stopping to ask the Doctor some random question about the effects of bullets on human physiology.
If River was drawing in the kitchen then Jayne was cleaning his guns on the sofa. If River was in the cockpit then Jayne was hovering around the corridors and if River was missing, well, then, Jayne was in his bunk.
The fact that the two were never far from each other was strange enough but that no one else had noticed was almost ludicrous. How had we missed it, how had I missed it?
But the thing that bothered me most of all was that it seemed almost subconscious on Jayne’s part. He didn’t seem to notice that he went out of his way to ensure River’s care.
It was second nature in the way that Simon’s attentiveness was.
Yet the looks he gave her were far from brotherly.
It makes me wonder if Jayne even knows how he feels for River because, now I’m paying attention, it is clear to me.
Jayne Cobb is crazy over River Tam.