Malcolm Reynolds rolled over in his bunk. Deeply asleep, he sighed and
smacked his lips a little.
Jayne Cobb crouched on the floor by the ladderway, waiting for Mal to wake.
Mal seemed content to slumber on in peace. Jayne cleared his throat.
Mal shot up out of the bed, and promptly lost his vision in the head-rush
that followed. Blind, he groped for his gun and called, "Who's there?"
Jayne snorted, "Someone who coulda killed you anytime in the last ten
"Jayne?" Mal wavered on his feet. "What in hell? What... Why're you in my
quarters in the middle of the gorram night?"
"You sleep pretty sound. I knocked and you didn't answer, so I come down to
see if you was alright."
"That's nowhere near truth, Jayne. You know it and I know it. Ain't more'n
twice I've ever seen you knock on anything, and that's only because
you know that Zoe will flay you if you walk in on her and Wash again.
So how's about we start this over. Why are you peering at me while I sleep?"
"reavers." mumbled Jayne.
"Reavers?" Mal reached for his gun again and made to head for the bridge.
Jayne held up a hand. "No, not here. Least, not now."
"Reavers," Mal repeated.
"In m'dream," Jayne replied.
Mal sat back down on his bed, chilly in his shirt and skivvies, silent.
"I want you to kill me, Mal. If the Reavers come, and they get aboard, I
want you to swear to kill me."
"If the Reavers come and they get aboard, I'm going to need you in the
"I won't be no use to you, once they're past the airlock. I'll get all froze
up and I'll die while they eat me. I want you to kill me, Mal."
"I'm not one for killin' my own. You oughta know that."
"Don't make me ask Zoe. That'd shame me."
"Jayne, this ain't like you. Where's the man I hired on to do my killin'?
Where's the bad guy that always makes sure that it's them what gets
humped, and not us?" Mal grinned with an evil glint. "Where's the ruttin'
Hero of Canton?"
Jayne ducked his head, "Reavers is differ'nt, Mal. Reavers, they... they
live in my head and they eat me at night. They're terrible sharp, reavers'
teeth. Bite right through any skin you got exposed. Come on you in the night
when you're..." Jayne began to shake a little.
"That's plenty, just stop right there." Mal stood and walked over to the
other man. "How long you been dreamin' like this?"
"Since afore I met you, and joined Serenity. Since forever."
Mal stood silent for a few; Jayne stood too, all a-twitch.
"Okay," Mal said, "Let's say I kill you, and then they get me, they eat
me, 'cause you ain't man enough to face them down? How's that sit with
"Better'n bein' eaten alive," replied Jayne.
"Fair enough. I'll kill you."
"Thanks, Captain." Jayne turned to leave, but froze when he heard the click
of a gun's safety being released, and the hammer being cocked. Slowly, he
turned to regard the barrel pointed at his chest. A .44 can do a lot of
damage at that range.
"You sure you don't want to reconsider?" Mal asked. "Because I'd really
rather have you on my crew, than not."
"I meant for you to kill me IF the Reavers come aboard!"
Mal lowered his weapon and stepped close to speak straight into Jayne's
face. "I need every man and woman on this ship to be willing to lay down
their life for the good of me and mine. If I say jump, you say 'How high?'
and you say it with a smile on your face and some joy in your heart, you got
that? And if I need you to stand there when Reavers board us, I need to know
that you will stand and not turn into some lily-livered drool-monkey.
Have I made myself clear?"
"Like rainwater on the central planets."
"You got choices, as far as I see it. You can face this down, and be ready
for battle when I need you to kill, or you can get off at the next port
"Ain't there no third option?"
"Well, I s'pose you could take up knitting and be the crew's sweater-maker,
Jayne. NO, you idiot! You're my muscle! I need you as my bad guy. If you
can't cut the mustard, then I am stuck with having to be the badass Captain,
and I don't like that. I don't like that one teeny, tiny little bit."
Jayne seemed to deflate a little, saying, "Well, christalmighty, it's hard
bein' the bad guy all the time, Mal. Even a tough guy like me ain't
well suited to a life of pure evilness. I need a chance to be just... I
dunno. Not so strong, sometimes."
Mal sighed. "Okay. I hear you. Tell you what. You can come be not so strong
'round me, just the two of us, any time we're both off duty. You don't have
to carry the 'bad guy' act all the time. That's reasonable."
"And I don't have to fake that Reavers don't scare me none, when it's just
you and me?" Jayne nodded his chin up and down in thought. "Yeah, I'd like
that." He grinned, then his face fell into suspicion. "You're not thinkin'
I'm sly for you or nothin', are you?"
"Nah. I know you're too busy gettin' jiggy wit' our pretty-mouthed doctor.
Besides, I do nothin' all day long but pine for the possibly-unrequited love
of a very annoying, smart-mouthed whore. But if you ever want an easy
fuck... I'm your man."
Adam Baldwin and Nathon Fillion both busted up laughing. "CUT!" was yelled
somewhere in the background, and then the metallic, amplified voice
continued, "Try it again. From 'christalmighty' please."