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wǒ yě ài nǐ

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wǒ yě ài nǐ

Dang airlock door; kept gettin' jammed. Mal had told her to "get right on it, as you never know when we'll need to stick Jayne in there". So despite havin' a hunky Core-bred doctor on hand to have her wicked way with, here she was, tendin' to a stuck door instead.

Kaylee pouted.

She couldn't sustain the slight grumpiness, though: Serenity was hers, and like any mother, she didn't like her baby to have any kind of ailment, no matter how small. 'Sides, it was pretty peaceful down here, just her and Serenity's ever-present gentle hum to keep her comp—

A xiǎo guǐ suddenly flew across the catwalk and down the stairs in a flurry of flying hair and long limbs, hotly pursued by a bellowing Jayne.

Uh-oh.

Kaylee sighed. After Miranda, after so much pain 'n grief 'n hurt, she really thought it woulda brought the whole crew together. And it had – for a time. Until Mal argued with Inara, and she left again, and until Jayne and River started fightin' like dang polecats.

In a way, Kaylee could understand it – after beating all those Reavers, she could see why someone like Jayne would feel threatened by the strength and unbelievable skill River had shown. Not that he had seemed annoyed at the time… Kaylee wasn't quite sure what he'd been feelin'. He'd just gone very quiet and stared at River a lot. A lot, a lot. Mostly with a stunned expression, though there had been something else there Kaylee couldn't quite identify.

Not too long after that, the fighting had started. In truth, it was more bickerin' like school kids than anythin' else. 'Casionally amusin', but also a right pain in the be-hind when you was tryin' to get somethin' done and a yellin' Jayne was chasin' a gigglin' River out his bunk.

So, all-in-all, this appeared to be business as usual... aside from the gun Jayne was carrying, Kaylee suddenly noticed, feeling slightly perturbed. By this time both combatants had made it down to the cargo bay floor and River had lost no time in dashing behind Kaylee, using her as a human shield.

"Uh, Jayne – what you plannin' on doin' with that?" Kaylee asked.

Jayne glanced down, then rolled his eyes. "I ain't doin' nothin' with her – I rescued her from that fēng diān zéi! She was playin' with Vera!"

Kaylee gave River a reproving look. "Now, River, you know that ain't nice. That's like.. playin' with someone's baby." Her face scrunched up as she heard what she had just said.

River gave her a blank look. "Infants like to be played with."

"Not this infant!" Jayne roared. "They're my babies, and they only like to be handled by their Mama. Don't you, xīn shàng rén?" he crooned at the gun cradled in his arms.

River folded hers. "Jayne is ridiculous. He knows the girl is fully proficient in weapons handling and would not hurt Vera." She started to smirk. "He knows the girl is better at weapons handling than he is – or maybe he's forgotten target practice, and timed tests, and agility training..." She was grinning with a pleasure that bordered on the vicious.

For a second, Kaylee thought she could see steam comin' out Jayne's ears. Yikes. She moved to soothe the growlin' bear whilst wishin' River would quit pokin' him so much.

"C'mon, Jayne, don't listen to River – she's only teasin'. River's quick, sure, but she ain't as strong as you. Where would we be on jobs without that? You know we'd be lost without you." She could see her words starting to take effect, the big merc's body language relaxing… until River started singing out words like "Replaced with superior model" and "Reduuuuuuuundant!" whilst spinning around behind them.

Aw, hell.

To her lack of surprise, Jayne growled and lunged for River. She immediately broke into a run back towards the catwalk, dashing forward at startling speed. Instead of curving round to go up the stairs, however, she ran straight at it and grabbed at the rail, using the momentum she had built to fluidly swing herself round and up to the top, in a move that had both Kaylee and Jayne stopping in amazement. It was always a shock, these little flashes that reminded you just how skilled she was. River's legs curled round the top of the barrier so that she was swinging upside down, hair streaming downwards like her namesake, crossed ankles the only thing keeping her from falling to the far-off floor… and crackin' her skull like an egg.

Kaylee squeaked in horror, but Jayne… Jayne exploded like a busted compression coil.

"What the ruttin', gorram hell are you doin', Crazy?! You get down at once – AT ONCE!"

River ignored him. "Inversion is beneficial, encouraging vasodilation and blood flow to the brain." Then in quite another tone: "Besides, it's fun."

"Mǎn bù zài hu how much fun it is!" Jayne practically stamped his foot on the deck. "You get down here right now!"

"Jayne is foolish. You have seen what I can do – why would I fall?" She had slipped into the first person; she did that a lot around Jayne.

"And what if you have one of your crazy times while you're up there?" Jayne demanded hotly. "I know you're a lot better, Moonbrain, but you still ain't all there – remember last week on Persephone? With the farrier's hat? You gorram near got us all shot yankin' it off his head and stampin' on it!"

River sounded sulky. "The fedora was furry – it made the farrier furrier. Too much alliteration; not enough vowels."

With a visible effort, Jayne got his temper under control, though the sharp, curt manner in which he clipped his words revealed the anger still bubbling underneath. "Come on, River, you know I'm right."

River's upside down face appeared to be weighing its options. Then she shrugged (quite a feat when you're upside down) and unlocked her ankles. Kaylee squealed and Jayne swore. Blindly hurling Vera to the side, he shot forward at a speed Kaylee had never seen from him before. Jayne caught River before she could hit the floor, then turned her right-side-up, though apparently only so that he could suspend her by her shoulders and shake her like a rag doll. If he'd been angry before, he was gorram nuclear now.

"WHAT THE RUTTIN' HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU FENG DIAN SHA GUA! YOU FA KUANG CHUN HUO! YOU ARE THE GORRAM BANE OF MY RUTTIN' LIFE! I SHOULDA LEFT YOU TO ROT ON ARIEL! I SHOULDA SPACED YA MYSELF!" Then, apparently, even words became too much so he leant forward and bared his teeth, roaring. "GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAAAAAAH!"

Kaylee involuntarily cowered, arms flying up to shelter her head. She peeped over at River, concerned at how she might be reacting. River blinked, as if startled. She didn't seem scared though, to Kaylee's relief. Xiōng can sha shǒu, she might be, but she was still just a girl, and a very fragile one in some ways. But, no, she seemed surprised and… intrigued. She was gazing into Jayne's eyes, head cocked as though listening to something fascinating.

Jayne was still fuming, but he hadn't put her down yet. He seemed reluctant or unable to let her go… Kaylee's brows snapped together in frowning thought.

Suddenly, River smiled and leant forward; her lips briefly and tenderly brushed his. Now Jayne dropped her, anger melting into round-eyed shock.

"Love you too, Jayne." River patted his cheek, then pirouetted off.

"That's.. that ain't what I said! That ain't what I meant!" Jayne's eyes were wide with panic and something else. "She plumb missed the point!" he spluttered.

Looking at the merc, Kaylee lips started to quirk in a smile. She couldn't help thinkin' it was Jayne that had missed it.


Glossary:

fā kuáng chǔn huò–  crazy idiot

fēng diān zéi –  crazy  thief

fēng diān shǎ guā   crazy fool

mǎn bù zài hu – I couldn't give a damn

xiǎo guǐ –  little demon (endearing term of address to a child)

xīn shàng rén –  beloved; sweetheart

xiōng can sha shǒu –  ass-kicking killer

wǒ yě ài nǐ – I love you, too