The prompt from anijade was Crystal to be written in the world of Firefly, preferably with River/Jayne. Didn't quite get there, but I think this should be close enough. Hope you agree. Either way, I had a lot of fun with this one.
Word Count: 1291
Summary: Was letting Jayne escort River a mistake, or a golden opportunity?
By some fluke, Jayne had ended up as River's escort this trip. Kaylee something she just had to show Simon, and they didn't want his sister along. Zoe and Mal had a job to case out and were afraid if they brought her along she'd scare someone off (wouldn't be the first time). Time was, they would have left her with Book or Wash, but both were long dead and gone. Which left Jayne, which the others seemed to think was a mildly better idea than letting her go off alone.
And for some gorram reason, he'd agreed. Sure, he'd rather be off at the whore house or bar, but following the crazy chit around and watching her confuse the hell out of the locals was actually a might amusing. All he had to do was make sure she didn't get killed, usually by intimidating anyone who got too close or too upset, and there were a few. Unlike her brother, Jayne didn't see any reason to reign her in or lead her around. Letting her run wild was more fun, as long as she wasn't pointing a weapon at him (been there, done that, thank you muchly).
Today, she was shopping, or at least her version of it. Flitting in and out of stores, she mostly just stayed long enough to pick up a few things, carefully moving them to a completely different part of the store before putting them down. At least one item would be in her hand as she headed for the door, only to be abandoned just as she departed, leaving a hyperventilating storekeep behind. A few such storekeeps had to be discouraged from following, but Jayne was very good at convincing them it was in their best interest to leave the nut case alone.
Jayne wouldn't admit it, even to himself, but he was a touch worried when she wandered into the rather nice jewelry store. Stuff like this was well outside his budget, even with the few extra platinum that Mal had shoved into his hand when he took charge of the girl. There was a slight chance of her freaking out and breaking something (that had happened before, too), and this was not the place for that. No way he could afford to pay this storekeep off, and Mal wouldn't take kindly to having to hustle off world before the job went through. Might just get Jayne spaced this time, though that threat had mostly gone out of style since Miranda.
But it seemed River was going to keep her cool. She danced around the glass cases, looking at the shinnies inside. A few high kicks near all that glass made Jayne wince, but from the looks she was shooting him that was exactly the point of them. Gorram reader.
Then she spotted something, some kind of crystal or glass bobble hanging in the window. She danced over, eyes wide in that amazed, enraptured, crazy manner she had.
“Prism, used to break light into it's constituent spectral colors. Index of refraction is specified by the material and can be calculated from the angle of minimum deviation,” she intoned, looking at the bobble from several angles, then setting it spinning. Rainbows began dancing over the walls as it flickered into the sunlight streaming in through the window. “It makes rainbows,” she breathed in amazement.
Jayne had no idea what all that meant, besides the last bit, but he couldn't miss the sad look as she turned away to walk out the door, or the way she kept looking over her shoulder at the rainbows dancing on the walls.
“How much for the bobble?” Jayne sidled over and asked the storekeep as River stepped outside.
“What?” the silly man asked, looking as confused as only River could make someone.
“The crystal bobble, in the window. How much?” Jayne wasn't quite sure why he was doing this. He'd planned to use the money Mal gave him to make tonight that much more fun at the bar, but it was really from River's share of the last job and she clearly wanted that thing. It just wasn't always safe to give her the money direct like.
“It has been in my family for generations. Legend has it my ancestor brought it from Earth-that-was,” the man protested.
“I don't care if your grandmother laid it like an egg,” Jayne snapped, even as he sighed deep within. Being from Earth-that-was probably was part of what was attracting River, and that meant he probably had no chance of prying it from the store owner's hands without a bullet and a pry bar. Tempting, but Mal would complain. “If I lose her, the captain will throw me out the airlock, but she wants it, and the last time she wanted something things went pretty south.”
“She's rather ... special, isn't she?” the man said, glancing out the open door to where River was eyeing the window of the store across the street.
Jayne snorted. “You have no idea. Just don't mention Miranda around her.”
The shop keeper looked over at him sharply. “She knew about Miranda?”
Leaning forward conspiratorially since he sensed an opening, Jayne whispered, “She sent my crew on a gorram wild goose chase, almost got us et by reevers three times, and ended up blowing the whole Miranda thing wide open. Alliance messed with her brain and accident like left that tidbit behind.”
“She's the source of the Miranda wave?” the shop keeper said, sounding awestruck. “How can I refuse ...” He then named a sum that made Jayne swear. It took a minute to dicker him down to half that, which was what the merc actually had on him. It meant he was stuck shipboard for the rest of their time on world, but ...
Once he had the crystal in hand, Jayne hurried outside. He'd lost sight of River while he was paying and hoped she hadn't gone too far. Captain really might throw him out the airlock if he lost her. Fortunately, he found her two streets away, dancing with some street urchin.
“Back to the ship,” Jayne ordered, pulling her away from the flea infested child and dragging her down the street. “We're out of dough so the day's over.”
“What happened to the money Captain Daddy gave you?” River asked in a sing song teasing tone as she skipped beside him.
Instead of answering, Jayne held the crystal out to her, letting it dangle between them on the silver chain. The expression on her face made it somehow all worthwhile.
“For me?” she asked, her eyes wide with awe.
Jayne shrugged. “Storekeep said it's from Earth-that-was. Probably a tall tale to jack up the price.”
“It is,” River said, gently unwrapping the chain from his hand. “It's singing of the different sun it was born under, other rainbows it's seen.”
“Well, glad to hear it's singing,” Jayne said disbelievingly, but he couldn't quite hide the grin that tickled at the corners of his lips.
“Now the rainbows can come with us. Crazy chit thanks the great man ape.” Suddenly, she jumped up, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and her legs around his waist and hugging him tight. Before he could react, she dropped back to the ground and ran off down the street. “Come. Captain Daddy should be back soon. We must show him the rainbow maker,” she called over her shoulder.
Jayne shook off his surprise and strode after her. Just another normal day in the life of River Tam and the poor crew trailing behind her.