Twenty Hours By Tyloric Dedicated to Sumaya. Beta read by youroctober. Part One: Counting the Seconds *** He had been counting the seconds in his head. Of course, he had lost track after the first few hundred, and so he had resorted to pacing around the common room. This steadied his nerves for a while, but eventually, the restlessness came back. To try to quell it again, he showered and put on clean clothes, hoping it would refresh him. It didnâ€™t. He was aching to do something, anything, rather than wait here. So he brought his girls into the common area and started to clean â€˜em. After they had broken atmo, Kaylee had come to sit with him. She was probably just as worried as he was, and to be honest, Jayne enjoyed the company. He continued to cast nervous glances at the closed doors of the infirmary, which were now tinted so that no one could see inside. Itâ€™ll be an easy job, Mal had said. Like he always said. Every time, like clockwork. Easy, his voice chimed in Jayneâ€™s ears. Kaylee gripped his forearm with her hand. â€œHeâ€™ll be fine,â€ she comforted, â€œSimonâ€™ll fixâ€™em up good as new. Youâ€™ll see.â€ Jayne wasnâ€™t nearly as confident. Mal had pushed him out of the way, and he had looked up just in time to see the rain of bullets rip into Malâ€™s chest and abdomen, a fine mist of blood spurting after each hit. Tianna, the blood. There had been so much of it that you wouldnâ€™t have known Malâ€™s blue shirt was blue. Crimson stained his entire torso, a small trickle leaking out the side of his mouth. Jayne had lost it then. Killed seven of them, ZoÃ« picking off the last two. He had come back looking almost as bloody as Mal, though none of it had been his. He hadnâ€™t been injured on this job, not this time. The Captain had seen to that. The mercenary took a deep breath, trying to force the images of a dying Mal out of his head. â€œYeah, good as new,â€ Jayne whispered back to her, doubtfully. A couple of hours later Jayne had finished cleaning his girls, and noticed Kaylee was starting to drift off to sleep. â€œWhy donâ€™tcha go to your bunk?â€ he suggested. He was met with one of her trademark smiles. It was a look he had only ever seen the mechanic pull off. â€œIâ€™m fine.â€ Jayne rolled his eyes, wrapping an arm around her. She was asleep on his shoulder not ten minutes later. River made her way down the stairs then, stepping along with the grace of a feather. She ran the tips of her fingers along the windows of the infirmary ardently. Her face was completely blank, but aware. â€œDo you know ifâ€”?â€ Jayne had started to ask her. â€œThere is still too much work to be done. Too early to tell,â€ she told him casually. Jayne felt a bit of his morale melt away. Not even moonbrain could tell if Mal was gonna make it. She floated lightly up to the couch, sitting down on the side of him opposite of Kaylee, and rested her head on his shoulder. Whatever, he thought dismissively, and wrapped his free arm around her. She didnâ€™t say anything else, only leaning slightly into the embrace. Funny, Jayne mused, coupleâ€™a months ago and I would be celebratinâ€™ havinâ€™ two beautiful women in my arms. River let out a loose laugh then,.â€œYou think Iâ€™m beautiful?â€ Under other circumstances Jayne would be profusely irritated that she had been reading him, but he couldnâ€™t find the will to yell at her right now. â€œWell ya ainâ€™t completely unblessed.â€ He could practically feel her smiling at him, though he refused to look at her. She just snuggled up closer against him. They stayed like that for the next few hours, Jayne lost in thought, the two girls sleeping soundly next to him. He didnâ€™t really mind, either. When did that happen? Eventually, though, Riverâ€™s eyes snapped open. â€œItâ€™s time,â€ she said as she stood up. Right on cue, the doors to the infirmary slid open. Gently easing his arm out from under Kaylee, he laid her down softly onto the couch before turning. Simon stood in the doorway, looking exhausted. He was wearing a bloody surgical apron. Jayne eyed it worriedly. Simon met his gaze. â€œHeâ€™s out of the woods, for now.â€ An enormous wave of relief passed through the mercenary, some of the tension releasing from his shoulders. â€œBut,â€ Simon continued, â€œI need to monitor him for the next twenty-four hours. Just to be sure.â€ Jayne nodded understandingly, â€œCan Iâ€¦?â€ Jayne trailed off, trying to look past Simonâ€™s shoulders. â€œHmm? Oh, yes. Of course,â€ he said, stepping out of the way. Jayne walked cautiously over to Mal, who was lying on the table a bit too motionless for his liking. An oxygen mask was planted firmly over his face, and his breaths were ragged and uneven. Bandages were wrapped around his entire chest and abdomen, no skin peeking through, with a blanket covering him up to his waist. His clothes lay torn and shredded in a pile at the back of the room. â€œWhen will he wake up?â€ Jayne asked weakly. â€œIâ€¦ I donâ€™t know. The anesthetics will keep him asleep for the next several hours. After that, itâ€™s all up to him.â€ â€œTwenty hours,â€ River said, simply. Simon looked over to her, worriedly,.â€œRiver?â€ She looked at him squarely. â€œHe will regain consciousness in approximately twenty hours.â€ She nodded to add emphasis. â€œYou sure?â€ Jayne asked. She looked at him like he was an idiot. He felt like one; this was River, after all. She had a keen sense to these sorts of things. Jayne took Malâ€™s hand in both his own, feeling a newfound sense of worry coupled with an emotion he didnâ€™t recognize. He didnâ€™t like how it felt as though it was eating him alive. Malâ€™s skin was chilly. â€œHeâ€™s so coldâ€¦â€ Simon nodded grimly. â€œHe lost a lot of blood. But,â€ he added, pointing out a red bag that was hanging next to Mal, â€œIâ€™m transfusing him.â€ He ran a hand through Malâ€™s hair, finding it was tangled and oily. His skin was eerily pale and caused Jayneâ€™s stomach to flip. He looked over to River hopefully. â€œTwenty?â€ She nodded again. â€œTwenty.â€ One Kaylee had woken up to the sound of Jayne pulling one of the chairs from the common room into the infirmary. She stared bleary-eyed at him for a moment, before realizing where he was headed. â€œJayne!â€ she shouted. The mercenary jumped, his hand shooting to where his gun would be, had he been wearing it. â€œGorram it, Kaylee! Donâ€™t scare me like that!â€ He eyed her angrily. She ignored him. â€œIs heâ€¦?â€ Jayneâ€™s eyes softened. â€œYeah, heâ€™s doinâ€™ fine. Heâ€™ll be out for a while though.â€ The mechanic rose to her feet, squeezing past Jayne into the infirmary. He continued with bringing the chair inside, setting it next to where Mal was laying. He plopped down in the chair and immediately took hold of Malâ€™s hand, rubbing the back of it with his thumb. Kaylee was standing on the side opposite to him, a hand over her mouth,.â€œHe looks soâ€¦â€ She didnâ€™t finish her sentence. â€œYeah, I know.â€ They stayed silent for quite a long while. Kaylee kept her gaze fixed on the Captainâ€™s face, trying to hold back the tears that had formed in her eyes. Jayne took notice of this. â€œWhy donâ€™tcha go check on that Doc â€˜a yours? He looked pretty beat.â€ She looked at him, surprised, but nodded. With one last glance at Mal, she headed out of the infirmary and up the stairs. Jayne continued to sit there, not noticing the hours as they crept by. Four Simon came to check up on Mal after he had gotten a few hoursâ€™ shut eye. Grabbing Malâ€™s wrist and taking his pulse, tapping on the various machines that were monitoring his vitals, and scrawling down notes on pieces of paper. It was making Jayne, who had yet to move from his chair, twitchy. The silence eventually got the better of him, though. â€œLooks like â€™es dead.â€ Jayne muttered. Simon didnâ€™t turn around. â€œHeâ€™s going to be fine, Jayne.â€ Jayne sighed sadly. â€œShoulda been me.â€ That got Simonâ€™s attention. â€œWhat do you mean?â€ â€œHundan pushed me outta the way. Shoulda been me who got all blown to hell, not him.â€ His eyes narrowed in concentration. â€œJayne, there was no way to see this coming. Be thankful heâ€™s alive. Donâ€™t waste your energy on what might have happened.â€ The manâ€™s face went neutral when he went to look into Simonâ€™s eyes, taking in what he had just said. After a few moments, he nodded,.â€œYeah, I guess youâ€™re right.â€ When the doctor smiled, he quickly added, â€œFor once.â€ Simon rolled his eyes. â€œItâ€™s late. You should try to get some rest. Itâ€™ll be morning in a few hours.â€ Jayneâ€™s gaze drifted back to Mal, â€œIâ€™m fine here, doc. Thanks.â€ Simon frowned at the larger man worriedly before sighing in defeat. He took one last check of Malâ€™s vitals before turning back to Jayne. â€œIâ€™m going to try and get a bit more sleep before morning. Call me if there is any change?â€ â€œYouâ€™d be the first.â€ Simon regarded him for a moment, then nodded and walked out of the infirmary. Jayne gripped Malâ€™s hand again, this time raising it to his forehead. â€œDonâ€™t make no gorram sense whatcha did. Should be me layinâ€™ â€˜ere.â€ He pressed a kiss to the back of Malâ€™s palm. â€œNo gorram sense.â€ ZoÃ« watched from the doorway, not letting her presence known. After a few more seconds, she turned to return to her bunk, hoping sleep wouldnâ€™t be too hard to find. Seven Jayne could hear the rustling of the crew upstairs, each of them going about their morning routines. His eyes had gotten heavy, but heâ€™d operated without sleep before, and he refused to take his eyes off of Mal for even a second. A knock drew his attention to the doorway. â€œI brought you some breakfast,â€ Kaylee said quietly, holding a plate of food. Jayne took the plate, noticing what was on it. â€œEggs? Scrambled eggs? Where the gorram hell did we get eggs?â€ Kaylee beamed. â€œI bought â€˜em while we were on the ground.â€ â€œYou bought eggs? With your wages? Mustâ€™a cost ya a pretty bitâ€™a coin.â€ Jayne frowned. â€œDonâ€™t worry none, itâ€™s worth it. Eggs is good for ya.â€ Jayne looked down at the plate. It didnâ€™t feel right to be eating something someone else had bought for themselves. Eggs were expensive. The mechanic rolled her eyes. â€œOh, would you eat them, already? Theyâ€™re already cooked and everyone else has gone and eaten already. Theyâ€™ll just go to waste if ya donâ€™t.â€ Jayne frowned at her again before nodding, taking the fork that was on the plate and scooping some of it into his mouth. He nearly melted as the taste of smoke, salt, and egg assaulted his taste buds. Heâ€™d forgotten what fresh food tasted like. â€œItâ€™s good.â€ â€œTold ya.â€ She smiled sweetly. After a while, she looked at him with concern. â€œHow long have you been sittinâ€™ there?â€ Jayne paused, thinking. â€œWell, I canâ€™t feel my pigu anymore, so you tell me.â€ â€œWell you canâ€™t stay in here all the time. That just ainâ€™t healthy.â€ Jayneâ€™s eyes narrowed, but there wasnâ€™t any anger. â€œI ainâ€™t leavinâ€™ him here, Kaylee. My fault heâ€™s on this tableâ€™n the first place.â€ He handed her his now empty plate. â€œI appreciate it.â€ She was half-frowning at him, brow furrowed in thought. â€œWell, alrightâ€¦ But if youâ€™re still in here at lunch time, Iâ€™m coming down here to drag you out myself, Jayne Michael Cobb.â€ Jayne winced. She and Mal were the only ones on the crew who knew his full, name and he had learned that when either of them used it, they meant business. â€œFine,â€ he huffed. She stepped over, putting a hand on his shoulder. â€œHeâ€™s gonna be fine, Jayne. My man knows how to fix people up.â€ He smiled weakly. â€œYeah, I guess he does.â€ â€œDid you not sleep at all last night?â€ â€œNope.â€ Now she just irritated. â€œWell, why not?â€ Jayne hesitated, wondering if he should answer that truthfully. â€œI, uhâ€¦â€ he started, but the words got caught in his throat. But, when she didnâ€™t look away, he tried again. â€œJust feels weird.â€ â€œWhat does?â€ â€œHim not being nextâ€™ta me. Just feelsâ€¦ weird. Canâ€™t fall asleep.â€ He looked away, as if ashamed. Kaylee, on the other hand, was grinning like an idiot, â€œYou love him!â€ His head snapped back in her direction, scowling. â€œWhat?! No I donâ€™t!â€ She persisted. â€œYou do! You love him! Oh, Jayne, I think thatâ€™s swai.â€ â€œI donâ€™t love him, girlie! Best get that outta your heard real quick like,â€ he growled. She raised her hands in surrender. â€œFine fine, you donâ€™t love him.â€ She turned, a bounce in her step as she exited the infirmary. â€œRemember, Jayne. Lunch time.â€ â€œGet!â€ he snapped. She laughed and left. He turned back to Mal then, lost in thought. Sure, he cared for the guy, but Jayne Michael Cobb was not a man to fall in love with anyone. Was he? Ten He had started pacing around the room, becoming antsy, eventually forcing himself to go up to the galley to make some tea only when the doc came in to do his routine check on the captain. He was on edge, but he wasnâ€™t sure if that was because of Mal, the lack of sleep, or if it was because of what Kaylee had said. Either way. he was irritated. The galley was deserted, everyone else probably going about their chores on the ship. Chores, Jayne realized, he was skipping out on. Grabbing a pot from one of the cabinets and filling it with water, he flicked the stove on and set the pot full of water down on it. Going through the rest of the steps like clockwork, he then moved to sit at the table, his head in his hands. He breathed in deeply and held it for a few seconds. It was a practice his ma had taught him to get oneself to calm down. Just hold your breath, and then release it. Gets your breathing steadier, and damned if it didnâ€™t work. Could he love Mal? Heâ€™d never loved anyone other than the family back home, but if memory was to serve for anything, living on Serenity had a strange way of changing folk. When he and Mal had first started servicing each other, Jayne had been in it just for the ruttinâ€™. Free sex whenever you wanted it; how could that possibly get complicated? Mal had to complicate it, just like he did everything else. Had to go and open that mouth of his. Thinking this might be more than just sex, Jayne. Always had to open his gorram mouth. Always had to make something simple complicated. Jayne didnâ€™t do well with complicated; he was a simple guy. Eat, sleep, fuck, shoot people, get paid. Thatâ€™s all he needed in life to be happy. At least, it had been. Now, he couldnâ€™t even sleep without Mal nearby, and he didnâ€™t have any interest in ruttinâ€™ with anyone that wasnâ€™t Mal. He had eaten earlier, but that had just been to please Kaylee. He had killed the guys that had shot at them, but that had been in a blind rage. A rage that Jayne hadnâ€™t felt in a long time. This realization made Jayne feel like he had been back slapped across the face. â€œTamade!â€ he shouted, slamming his head down on the wooden table. â€œWhatâ€™s the matter?â€ ZoÃ« asked as she stepped into the galley. He turned to look at her, frustrated. â€œI think I love Mal,â€ he growled. â€œYou just now figuring that out?â€ she asked as the tea pot started whistling noisily. â€œMal diâ€™nt hire me causeâ€™m smart,â€ Jayne pointed out. ZoÃ« snorted, pouring two cups of the hot liquid. Walking over to the table, she set down one of the cups in front of him. â€œAppreciate it,â€ he muttered. She sat down across from him. â€œYouâ€™re a good tracker, though, Jayne. Didnâ€™t you see the signs that you two were getting closer than just rut buddies?â€ â€œDonâ€™t rub it in,â€ he said, tracing his finger along his temples. He lifted up his glass to take a sip, enjoying the warmth that spread in the back of his throat all the way to his belly. â€œJust ainâ€™t ever loved someone â€˜fore.â€ Not even thinking when he spoke next, Jayne asked, â€œHowâ€™d ya know you loved Wash?â€ But ZoÃ« didnâ€™t flinch, or tense, or do anything that showed she was uncomfortable with the question. â€œJust knew.â€ When he looked at her, confused, she continued, â€œWe had just gotten done with a job. It was Washâ€™s first time as getaway. He just barely got to us in time. Mal gave him hell, and so did I. But when I got done yelling at him he just sighed, leaned in, and kissed me.â€ Jayneâ€™s eyebrows shot up. â€œJust like that?â€ She nodded, â€œJust like that. Knocked him on his ass for doing it, too.â€ She chuckled at the memory, causing the mercenary to grin a bit. â€œBut then things slowly just got a bit more serious from there, until he eventually proposed.â€ â€œHuh. Wouldnâ€™ta known the little man had it in him.â€ â€œCanâ€™t help who you fall for, Jayne. You just happened to fall in love with your boss.â€ She got up and, with a pat on his shoulder, walked off towards the bridge. Jayne sat there for a bit longer, lost in thought. Twelve â€œJayne!â€ Kaylee called, walking into the infirmary. â€œCome eat lunch.â€ His lips twitched. but he didnâ€™t look at her. â€œNot hungry.â€ But he stood up anyway. â€œToo bad,â€ she said, dragging him up the stairs to the galley. â€œWe made sandwiches!â€ Jayned huffed, beginning to feel the effects of no sleep. When they got upstairs, they found the other three crew members seated around the table. Kaylee made sure Jayne was seated before taking her place next to Simon. He lay his head on the table, sighing when ZoÃ« pushed a plate in front of him. â€œâ€™m not hungry,â€ he mumbled. â€œEat,â€ she ordered. He scowled at her before sitting up straight, taking the sandwich in his hand. It wasnâ€™t a sandwich, really; it was just protein that had been processed and made to mimic other types of food. Tasteless go se if you asked him. â€œYes, you have too,â€ she said when opened his mouth to ask her. He groaned dejectedly. He took the food in a hand and bit off a small portion of it, trying not to make a face as the paste-like texture of it spread onto his tongue as he chewed. Didnâ€™t taste too bad, though. Someone had added cinnamon. He was surprised how satisfying it felt when he swallowed, like an emptiness filling up. He must have been hungry, and just not realized it past the exhaustion. He could feel everyoneâ€™s eyes on him as he hate, and it started to make him uncomfortable, so he tried to start a conversation. â€œSo, what we gonna do â€˜bout work?â€ he asked ZoÃ«. â€œHow do you mean?â€ â€œWell, even when Mal wakes up, itâ€™ll be a while â€˜fore heâ€™s able to do much, right? Donâ€™t that mean youâ€™re in charge?â€ He took another small bite. ZoÃ«â€™s brow furrowed in thought before she turned to Simon. â€œHow long will his recovery time be?â€ Simon waited until he was finished chewing before replying. â€œI had to open him up completely to repair the damage the bullets inflicted. Itâ€™ll be a few weeks before heâ€™s even able to sit up under his own power, much less go out on jobs. And after that, the muscle atrophy will take even longer to overcome with physical therapy.â€ â€œSoâ€¦?â€ Jayne prompted. â€œA few months. Though knowing how stubborn he is, weâ€™ll just say a month and a half.â€ â€œDamn,â€ Jayne muttered, taking another bite. They discussed options over the course of the meal, Kaylee adding that her pa may need some deliveries done, and that she hadnâ€™t been to the homestead in a while, anyway. Jayne just listened as they all talked, River making her way over to him. â€œHeâ€™ll need you by his side when he wakes,â€ she whispered in his ear. â€œWhat? Who, Mal?â€ She nodded. â€œDonâ€™t needâ€™ta to remind meâ€™a that, moonbrain.â€ Eventually, the conversation winded down, ZoÃ« coming to the conclusion that they had enough coin to last a few weeks, and she needed to talk to Mal before making any major decisions. Jayne was the first to leave the galley, not excusing himself. He was still too wound up to sleep, despite his exhaustion. He moved down the stairs to his weight set. He normally benched a maximum of two-hundred fifty pounds, but being as he was all tired and such, he decided that was a mite too risky, settling on one forty-five. He grunted with exertion, feeling the blood pouring into his arms and chest. His breathing grew deeper and controlled, and for a while, all he could think of was the repetitive motions of exercise. At least, until he felt a pang of mourning when he remembered the Sheppard wasnâ€™t there spotting him. Thirteen Clean clothes and shower gel in hand, with a towel slung over his shoulder, Jayne headed for the shower that lay branched off from the common room and passenger bunks. He paused for a moment, glancing over his shoulder to the infirmary. He could still see inside of it from there, though what the room contained still depressed him. Stepping into the white tiled room, he began stripping, peeling the now-sweaty articles of clothing from his body. Normally, he would be using the personal shower that was in Malâ€™s bunk, but it just didnâ€™t sit right with him for some reason. Not while Mal was out. Turning on the stream of recycled water and setting it to lukewarm, he stepped into the stream, groaning as the warmth stretched his spent muscles. He doubted heâ€™d be sore tomorrow, though, as he hadnâ€™t exerted himself as he usually would. But it was still nice to feel all the tension literally circle down the drain. He stood there under the spray, trying to think of nothing. Wanting to keep his mind blank. He hadnâ€™t known being in a â€˜relationshipâ€™ would make him worry so much. Simon said he was gonna be fine. Hell, everyone was sayinâ€™ he was gonna be fine, but for some reason he couldnâ€™t get rid of that nagging feeling in his chest. He didnâ€™t like it, but the more he tried to push it away, the more it seemed to want to grow. So now he was just trying to ignore it. Grabbing the bottle of shower gel he had brought with him, he squirted some into his hand and proceeded to lather it into the rag. He didnâ€™t use this particular gel often; Mal had bought it for him on Persephone. Apparently it was good for your skin, but he just liked the way it smelled: mint chocolate. Jayne found it relaxing. He started scrubbing down his entire body, getting lost in the scent and the warmth of the water. Satisfied that he was thoroughly clean, he let the water wash the gel away, then reluctantly turned the shower off and stepped out. Wiping the steam off the mirror that hung on the opposite wall, he took a look at his face, realizing that he still looked like shit. Black rings gave the illusion that someone had given him a thrashing, and for some reason, the lines on his forehead and cheeks were more pronounced than usual. He must be more exhausted than he thought. He sighed and proceeded to get dressed after drying himself. Gathering the used rag, towel, and dirty clothes, he dropped them in a hamper that was kept near the entrance to the shower. Afterwards, he headed over to the infirmary and glanced at the clock that hung on the wall and gaped. He had been in the shower for an entire hour? It hadnâ€™t felt like ten minutes. Fourteen He sighed, resuming his position in the chair, and immediately regretted it. Exhaustion crashed into him like a herd of horses. His limbs quickly began to feel heavy and weighted, his eye lids refusing to stay open. He was also refusing to close them. â€œTried to stay awake, Mal. Donâ€™t think I can anymore.â€ He gave the unconscious manâ€™s hand a reassuring squeeze. He leaned forward, spreading his arms out on the bed, and then set his head down on them. Darkness encircled him soon after that. *** It replayed itself over in his mind. They all raised their weapons once, like a well-oiled machine. He didnâ€™t react in time, but Mal did.. Jayne was on the ground before he knew what was happening, only to look up and see blood spewing out of Mal like a geyser. Horror clenched in Jayneâ€™s chest, followed by a kind of rage heâ€™d only felt the time that fed had shot Kaylee in the gut. Bullets whizzed dangerously past his head, but he kept running forward, firing with deadly accuracy, until he was physically upon them. When he was out of ammo, he let Betsy do the rest, cutting clean through their throats. Only when they got Mal back to the ship and into the infirmary did he realize heâ€™d been crying the entire time. Seventeen Kaylee watched Jayne as he slept against the bed. It was one of the sweetest things she had ever seen. Simon squeezed past her, doing his hourly check-up on Mal to make sure he hadnâ€™t begun to bleed internally, and to make sure none of the damaged organs had begun to fail. â€œArenâ€™t they adorable?â€ Kaylee whispered to him. Simon huffed a laugh. â€œThey should be on the cover of a magazine.â€ â€œOh, hush. I think itâ€™s swai how Jayneâ€™s been looking after him.â€ Her smile met her eyes and it seemed to brighten the infirmary even more. â€œIt is nice to see Jayneâ€™s attention more acutelyâ€¦ focused,â€ Simon agreed. Kaylee beamed,.â€œThink theyâ€™ll get married?â€ The doctor rolled his eyes. â€œA bit soon to be thinking about that, donâ€™t you think?â€ The girl was already lost in thought. â€œIâ€™ve never been to a sly wedding beforeâ€¦ Who walks down the aisle? Who hands who off? Whatâ€™ll they do if they want kids?â€ â€œKaylee, baobei, I think youâ€™re looking into things a little too far,â€ Simon said, finally turning back to face her. â€œA girl can dream.â€ Her eyes glittered. He laughed. â€œYes, well, how about we go dream up something for supper?â€ â€œSounds shiny.â€ They walked up the stairs, fingers entwined. ??? He felt he was in a pool of water; weightless, but still grounded. Floating. He could hear their voices, but they were far away and muffled. Couldnâ€™t make out anyone, any of the words. Not even which language was being spoken. He couldnâ€™t make out what was happening, where this was. No thoughts of his own. Until he heard Jayne. Awareness flooded his senses, struggling against water, trying to find some solid footing. He noticed a light in the distance, though, and because there was no earth to be found, he decided to try and swim towardty His eyes cracked open slowly, adjusting to the bright lights over head. A headache muddled his thoughts, and his entire body felt restrained. Instinctively, he tried to sit up, only to realize, too late, that that was a bad idea: pain ripped through his chest, causing him to groan loudly. Jayne awoke with a start, his head darting around, his eyes dazed, until he felt Malâ€™s hand clench around his own, causing him to look down at it, then up to Malâ€™s face. â€œMal?â€ Mal calmed down a bit. He couldnâ€™t see who said it, as his vision was still too blurry, but he still knew that voice. He would recognize it anywhere. He tried to speak, but it came out as a croak, muffled by the oxygen mask he still wore. â€œJayne?â€ Simon entered then. â€œHeâ€™s awake?â€ â€œYeah,â€ Jayne sputtered. â€œMal? Mal, can you hear me?â€ Simon asked the captain, shining a light in his eyes. Weakly, Mal moved a hand to try to remove the mask from his face, Jayne helping him when he recognized the motion. Swallowing first, Mal spoke. â€œWhat the gorram hell is going on?â€ His voice was still scratchy. The mercenary answered him angrily. â€œYou jumped in front of a fucking barrage, you hudan!â€ â€œJayne!â€ Simon snapped. Mal looked even more confused. â€œI did?â€ â€œYa did.â€ Jayne leaned in close then, pressing his lips to Malâ€™s lightly. â€œShouldâ€™a been me on this table, you son of a bitch.â€ He leaned back, not feeling like such an idiot now. â€œâ€™m sorry. Next time Iâ€™ll let you get killed,â€ he joked. â€œDamn right you will,â€ Jayne replied, pressing his lips a bit more firmly against Malâ€™s.