Transmutations Part 3 of 3: Desire and the Path to Serenity
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

River weighs in.


Disclaimer: Don't own

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You think, as you watch Simon walk away, that the measure of time as used by the rest of the 'verse no longer holds any meaning to the crew of Serenity. The hours, minutes and dates tick by, useless and unfixed. For the crew, time has a new meridian, and it is measured in 'Before Miranda' and 'After Miranda.'

Before Miranda, Serenity was lonely. You walked her corridors, feeling her confusion rising up through your toes. She desired peace and was confused that her family was lost and lonely. She felt so much anger and misunderstanding, so much longing for what could be, but wasn't. So much pain, with only the bright lights of the Pilot and his Warrior Woman and the gentle touch of strawberries to fight it.

Before Miranda, you were crazy.

After Miranda, your feet no longer freeze as they tread the catwalks. Serenity is warm now, secure that her family has found each other. She mourns the loss of his hands on her console, misses the conflicted morality of the wool clad wolf , but rejoices that spices and thunder, sunbeams and healing, gun smoke and flowing blades have all combined to scent her bones with heady flavors. The only discordant note is the salt of the Right Hand, but even that simply adds tang and will eventually be absorbed into the whole. She regrets that suffering was necessary, but accepts that all religions of the 'verse confirm that it must be so.

After Miranda, you are...not completely sane, but no longer crazy. After Miranda, there is Jayne.

He is speaking to you, his voice rumbling in your ear. 'He ain't coming back with none of that go se from the Lassiter Job is he?' he asks, only half joking.

You giggle and pat his cheek 'No, Jayne Man.' And because Simon is not being careful, you tell Jayne 'He is calculating optimal circumstances for us to reveal our relationship to the Captain. Currently, he is favoring the use of sedatives. Many sedatives.'

You feel Jayne relax, muscle set by muscle set behind you (There are 639 skeletal muscles in the human body, and you have traced every one of Jayne's). In seconds he has switched from Protector to Lover, although, for Jayne, the two are almost interchangeable. Jayne settles you back against him and you feel Serenity vibrate right through him into you.

'I say we go with that one,' he says, burying his face in your hair and inhaling deeply. You lightly trace the veins in his hand and he shivers slightly. You sit in stillness, feeling the ebb and flow between you. After a moment of comfortable tension, he rises, pulling you with him. Keeping one hand imprisoned, he leads you, winding slowly through the maze of the cargo filled bay.

'Not that I'm complainin', but I did expect at least a bit a bitchin' from the Doc.' He lets go of your hand to tuck his arm around your waist and guide you around a large crate.

'Simon has assimilated,' you explain. He gives you The Look that lets you know you and Serenity are the only ones who know what you're talking about. You try again. 'Ge Ge has accepted crew as family. It is in his nature to desire happiness for those he loves. Right now he only consciously associates that desire with me, but subconsciously it extends to you. Tonight he saw us.'

He rolls his eyes at you. 'Course he saw us, girl. Ain't that what we're talkin' 'bout?' You roll your eyes right back and trail your hand along the wall.

'He saw saw us. The you in the me, the orbiting moons, the calm in the storm. He sees we make each other better.' You've arrived at Jayne's bunk and he reaches around you to key the door. He pushes it open and only then releases you, stepping around and then turning in preparation to descend.

'Well, ya cer'ainly add somethin' on me.' He climbs down the ladder, sliding his hand along your calf as he goes.

You huff in frustration before leaping down, knowing Jayne will anticipate your move and catch you. For someone who pretends to such a huge ego, he has serious self esteem issues where you are involved. You land in his arms and then Serenity is at your back and Jayne is pressed against your front and the time for talking is done.

Hours later you rest boneless against Jayne's chest, softly outlining his ribs so as not to wake him. He has one hand fisted in your hair, the other securing your thigh across his. You are cushioned in his dreams of brown eyed Jaynelings chasing geese with guns and you make a note to ask Jayne's mother how long it took him to conquer his goose phobia. You are safer here than in any other place in the 'verse.

It wasn't always so. Before Miranda, your relationship to Jayne was in constant flux from the second you'd stumbled, naked, from the cryo-tank, screaming and trembling into Simon. There were times he'd hated you, times he would have killed you without a thought or regret. And if you'd been less crazy those first months, you'd certainly have killed him preemptively (knife to the temple, a torn femoral artery, so many ways to die). Unlike the rest of the crew, Jayne has never feared you.

After Ariel (you and Jayne have your own ways of measuring time) he'd pitied you, understood Simon's sacrifice. But you try to avoid Ariel with Jayne as much as possible. While you understand it's necessity in your story, for him it will always be a dark wound that never heals. The best you can do is ply it with balm to lesson his fear that in some black reality he'd never have known this.

The first time he'd appreciated you had been after Mal's rescue from Niska. He had seen the kill shots in the bodies by the airlock and immediately known Kaylee hadn't had any hand in their deaths. He'd held his tongue, not fearing violence, only concerned at it's direction. Yours was pointed at the enemy, and therefore righteous.

After the Maidenhead (he had approached the virgin and been rebuffed – your literary professors would have been dancing with joy at the symbolism) he had thought he would betray you again. You had indicated your willingness to visit your destruction on the ship, but more than that, he was embarrassed. Not that you had bested him – Jayne admired skill and the raw beauty of violence – but that he had recognized you as a worthy partner, had fought for you, desired to fight with you, and you had turned on him. He thought he could pay you in kind.

You had known the truth; had seen the path the instant the thought left his mind. He'd only go as far as the shuttles before knowing he could never visit Ariel on you again. If you had let him follow that path, he would have finally known his worth, but it would have been too late - Mal had seen him taking you. Jayne was dead within five minutes, Mal's bullet between his eyes (put him down like a dog). They would need their protector for the coming storm, and so you had employed (and deployed) the peaches instead.

It had been on Miranda that you had seen him step up to claim his family. There they had all been afraid, certain of their deaths. And sometimes, Serenity screaming, bleeding and broken beneath your hands, you'd been certain, too. Mostly, though, your mind free of the shouting dead, you saw victory (feint left, turn right, forward, back, faster, slower, don't fall, duck - ) if they only stood together.

After Miranda, you were thrilled to gain a new big brother. A large, uncouth, shuai big brother who could teach you a plethora of fascinating things, like spitting and cursing. One who not only appreciated the damage you could inflict, but loved to inflict it with you. The initial months of bickering didn't bother you; you sensed the lack of intent behind the actions. You waited for the insides and outsides to match and watched, pleased, as Serenity's family closed ranks around their roughest member. Out of all of your new family, you liked Jayne best.

You were happy when Jayne stopped disappearing every time Serenity hit planetside. It was beneficial to the family unit to spend time bonding (plus Jayne's whores offended your olfactory organs). On Persephone, before a meeting with Badger, he takes you out to help you buy new boots, your hand me downs finally falling victim to decay. You walk, barefoot, among the rows of shoes, finally stopping and reaching for a shiny new pair of combat boots. Jayne's hand on yours halts your motion.

'Not those.' You look at him questioningly. He sighs and explains, 'First, too shiny for night work. Can't sneak up on nobody when yer reflectin' moonlight.' You nod. Sensible. 'Second,' he squats down low in front of you. 'Too new. You'll get blisters here - ' he runs his forefinger across your heel. '-and here.' His finger continues its path down the side of your foot until it rests on your pinky toe. Goosebumps erupt up your legs as he stands. He reaches across from you and hands you another pair.

'Try 'em.' These boots are dull, their shine long worn down, and thickly pliable, tops flopping over. You pull them on and struggle to tie them, your fingers getting caught in the laces. You're deciding they must be somehow related to ice planets when Jayne grunts, squats back down and deftly fastens them.

'Plus,' he grins up at you, 'They're cheaper.'

You buy the boots and walk with Jayne to Badger's. It's soon after that meeting that Jayne gets...odd. You can never quite put your finger on it. He doesn't seem to act any different, but there's...something. Maybe in his eyes every once in a while, maybe in the way he shifts his body around. Once, suddenly afraid he is thinking of leaving, you stoop to trying to read him, but he is good at his walls, maybe better than Simon, and you find nothing. Something tickles the back of your mind and tells you you should know the answer, but it continually slips away. Finally, deciding whatever is happening doesn't involve you or the crew, you let it go.

You'd gotten in the habit of prepping your weapons together, and one night before a job you're sharpening your knife while Jayne cleans the girls at your left. You anticipate the job will go well (Inara had planned it) but neither you nor Jayne pass up the opportunity to take a dig at Mal's propensity toward bullet holes. Jayne predicts 'right in the pi gu.' You remind him that Mal'd been hit there only three jobs ago and instead wager a glancing leg wound. Jayne counters with a shoulder shot.

You throw potential wounds back and forth and the part of your mind not engaged in imagining Mal bullet ridden starts on it's weekly flight around the ship's occupants. It was a secret, yours and Mal's. While you steadfastly refused to purposely delve into the thoughts of the crew, you had agreed to brief checks on their emotional states, desperate to quell the worry and fear that washed from Mal in drowning waves. Mostly he worried about Zoe, afraid that one day she'd wake up and miss Wash too much, that what war couldn't break, love could, and that he wouldn't know until they'd have to dig another grave on Haven. Beyond that, though, he was concerned about everyone, taking his Father role more seriously than expected. You reassured him, allowed him to relax, and never told him what a fluid thing auras could be.

Usually you performed this ritual late at night, alone and away from the buzzing distractions of crewspeak, but tonight, in the peace of Jayne, you were able to fly. First to Zoe – dark grey, but with new shoots of white tunneling through. Rebirth was on the horizon; Wash would be pleased. Mal and Inara, Simon and Kaylee, at this hour they were all much the same, pulsing with passion, so mixed up in their partners that they created new colors and patterns that made them indistinguishable from each other. Their happiness always warmed you. Your mind turning Jayne, you knew he would be solid, his green peace constant and predictable.

Except it wasn't.

You stop, somewhere in the middle of 'gut shot' and stare, unnerved. He still pulsed green, but it was covered in silvery tendrils that curved and twisted and reached out to intertwine with different, golden streams coming You stay frozen and observe your aureate blue reach, yearning, toward Jayne. Oh, oh, OH.

Jayne is right. For a genius, you can be very stupid. How had you missed this? Misunderstood this? Your mind searches through experienced quadrants and suddenly, the pieces click into place and the bread crumbs align to show you the clear path to here, to home. And you know Jayne has not been stupid. You smile and Jayne slowly grins back and suddenly -

You are MalandInaraandSimonandKayleeandZoeandWashandBookandFlock and what was only tentative reachings become surges and gold and blue and green and silver are flowing and mixing and dancing and you're caught and entranced and can't look away and it is so beautiful -

'Girl?' Jayne's gentle question anchors you back before you float away. You reach your hand out to touch his and in that instant you can feel it all; The Black wrapped around Serenity, Serenity wrapped around Jayne, and Jayne, wrapped around you.

Serenity is rumbling awake, bringing you back to the Now. You stretch like a cat against Jayne. Even if Simon hadn't stumbled on you, the time for secrecy was quickly ending. Jayne was chaffing against it's restraints, needing to claim you publicly, to make the family aware of who he belonged to and who belonged to him. You know he has been patient only for you.

He rolls over, spooning you into his side and you know he is awake. 'You leavin'?' he asks, voice even deeper from sleep. You glance over your shoulder at him, coyly, 'Do you desire me to?' He gives you your patented 'you're a boob' look and holds you closer, until you're not sure where you end and he begins and you think your flesh might fuse.

'Today the day, then?' he states more than questions and the tip of his nose draws a path from your shoulder to your ear.

'Today is the day,' you confirm, arching your neck to give him wider access.

i>Serenity is fully awake around you when you finally leave Jayne's bunk. As you step out into the corridor you hear a startled 'Wode tien.'

Inara is standing in the corridor, frozen midstep, a very uncompanionlike look on her face. She is holding a coffee cup you know is for Mal. You smile reassuringly at her as you feel your future come up behind you, solid and sure. Jayne's chin falls to rest on your head.

'Preciate you gatherin' up the crew ta the infirmary, 'Nara. Got us an announcement ta make.' Then he picks you up and throwing you over his shoulder, strides down the hall, leaving Inara to listen to the sounds of your laughter echoing off the walls of Serenity.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:20 AM


Always interesting to see River's perspective on things and I really think you've captured a post-Miranda River quite nicely: coherent, aware but still not quite even keel when it comes to dealing with the world. Which makes sense, sadly enough, what with the things done to River's brain.

Still...amazing finish to fantastic little three-part harmony of a tale ;D

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 6:20 AM


> you feel your future come up behind you.

Wonderful phrase. In fact, the whole three parts are wonderful, and I would like to thank you sincerely for getting Jayne and River together in a beautiful, positive, realistic way. And for making Simon out not to be a boob.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:51 AM


Well done, well done. I am so taken with this. I love how he picks River up and throws her over his shoulder.. and Nara's un-companion like expression on her face and likewise out of her mouth. I am eagerly waiting to see what the others have to say and I echo Jane0904 sentiments on not making Simon a complete boob.

Thursday, November 24, 2011 7:11 AM


i like that inara sees them first all out great job guyz :):):):):):):):):):):)


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What Zoe Hears
In the Transmutations-verse. Follows 'What Mal Knows.' Zoe's POV of things.

What Mal Knows
Follows 'Transmutations.' The 'revelation' so to speak. Mal POV

Transmutations Part 3 of 3: Desire and the Path to Serenity
River weighs in.

Transmutations Pt 2 of 3: Thinkin' and Needin'
Jayne's side of the story.

Transmutations Pt 1 of 3: Wants
Simon reflects on the wants of the various members of the crew and makes a startling discovery. Simon, River, Jayne NOT S/R/J

Facing the Warrior Woman. Follows 'Reconciliation'; last in the Dross-verse series.

A brother and sister reunite. Fourth in the Dross-verse Series. Follows 'Remorse.'

Apologies, Captain Reynolds' style. Follows 'In the Shadow of the Valley' and 'Out of the Shadow of the Valley.'

Out of the Shadow of the Valley
A captain reflects on his mistakes and the loss of his family. Follows 'In the Shadow of the Valley.'

In the Shadow of the Valley
The girl only looked back once.