BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

JACQUI

The Catch
Saturday, August 6, 2005

Much ado about nothing. A lot of trouble over something that amounts to little more than a touch. Jayne/Kaylee.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 4269    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Disclaimer: My toys are nowhere near as shiny as these ones, so I'm just gonna borrow 'em for a bit, muss with their clothes, brush their hair, then put 'em back nice and shiny like, ok? Any dialogue that seems familiar is also not mine, they're all sold separately.

Summary: Much ado about nothing. A lot of fuss over something that amounts to little more than a touch. This fic is mostly before the start of Season One, winding a little through the whole season, then finishes after it.

Comments: I was going for a PWP, but kinda ended up with "A little bit of Almost Porn with a lot more Plot". Ideas have a way of getting into my head and torturing me slowly until I obey. Jayne and Kaylee are strong willed characters that will have their way.

Feedback: Oh, yes please. All feedback is craved (printed out, drooled over, rolled around naked on) and always answered. wily_one24@yahoo.com.au

***

Jayne has never thought of himself as the smartest man, nor the luckiest. He gets the job done, he gets paid and he gets by. If he can work it so's he has fun along the way, then it's a job well done. This, however, this is one move he considers both smart and lucky.

He stands at the entry to the ship, inside seems clean, from what he can see, as if there's an invisible barrier stopping the dust from passing through. This is as good a sign as any for him. The man who hired him less than an hour ago is nodding a hello at him.

Jayne nods back with an uneasy tension. He's wary of this man. Ain't too many people who'll hire you when you got a gun pointed straight at 'em. Then offer you more money, a room and free use of the kitchen while he's at it.

Jayne's looking for a catch.

"Was wondering if you'd be back." Mal eyes the bags and cartons that Jayne has lugged here. "We got a mule back any minute now, if'n you need help with anything."

"This is all."

Mal nods, approval at the light travel. A beat of silence.

"I'll help him, Cap'n."

He turns to see someone picking up one of his boxes and the first thing he notices is that she's smiling and her happiness is genuine. It's a physical flash that hits him, makes him smile back. Too many, in fact all that he can recall lately, of the women he has met in the last few months have taken on the same sour, bored look for the majority of the time, or a simpering pout when they're looking for coin.

"Hi." It's an invitation, he knows it, and by the answering flush on her cheeks, she knows it too.

"Hi." She grins.

"Jayne, this is Kaylee, our mechanic." Jayne hears the undertone in Mal's voice and wonders whether to pay attention to it or not. "Kaylee, this is Jayne."

Kaylee, his brain thinks, rolling over the word, of course it is. She hefts the box under one arm, resting it on her hip, which only serves to highlight the fact that she does, in fact, have many curves hidden under the coveralls. Wiping her hand down the said coveralls, she offers it to him.

"Good to have ya on board."

And he believes her. The gesture stuns him for a moment, mostly because there ain't too many women he knows that would do that, mostly he gets the impression that they'd prefer he washes himself all over before even looking at them. He's not too stunned, though, to notice the look that passes between Kaylee and Mal.

What he sees makes him smile even more. She seems more'n happy with the new arrangement and he seems to be warning her off. Which means Kaylee has given him reason to feel the need to give her such a warning.

"Bunk's this way."

Jayne nods and follows, still looking for the catch.

***

She sits on the bunk, trying not to appear as though she's eying his muscles. Which she is. Kaylee watches as he pulls a pile of clothes from a bag and stows them, unceremoniously, into a drawer.

"What's this?" Her fingers idly play with the top of a box, it ain't even taped shut.

"Stuff." Comes the reply, short and sweet.

"Oh, that."

It's true, the man gives her the good flutter of butterfly wings in her stomach. Her attention is caught by the box, having lifted the lid, her hand has made its way inside and now comes away with a string of wires. As she stretches it out, curiously looking at the bulbs, she can feel his eyes on her. She doesn't look back, not yet, seeing how long she can last before she has to know, seeing if she can stretch it out, maybe catch him in the act. It tickles her skin.

He reminds her of a farm hand her Daddy had when she was young. Large and bristly, trying to look mean when she knew he was anything but. When she was ten she'd watched him shoot a cattle rustler without even blinking. Two days later he'd nursed an ewe all night 'til she'd birthed the kid.

Kaylee fights the urge to ask why he has the decorative lights. She digs further, excited, tasting the expectation on her tongue, as if it's Christmas and these are all presents for her. Her brows come together in confusion as she looks at the little jars of paint.

"It's just junk." He answers the question before she even asks it. "Whatever I could take from that ruttin' ship before they got back and threw me out."

He takes the jars from her as she promptly forgets them and digs again, pulling out a deflated ball and a length of string.

"But why?" She insists, quickly shoving aside some girly mags. "You had to have chosen them for some reason."

"Junk." He says it again, sitting down next to her. The way he keeps turning the jars in his hand, looking down at them sadly, makes her think otherwise. "I told ya. They wasn't gonna pay me, so I took whatever I saw before they got back from the med ship."

"You shot their Captain."

He grins and they both laugh.

"My Ma grows flowers this color on the little box in the kitchen window." The suddenly serious tone makes her look a little closer at him, but he shakes himself out of it, shoving them all back into the box and dumping it on her lap. "Here, you keep 'em."

"No." She gasps. "I couldn't..."

"What am I gonna use 'em for?" He gestures at himself. "I look like I'm gonna be painting any gorram pictures to you?"

Jayne makes himself busy again. Kaylee knows a dismissal when she gets one, but not before she notices him slip the girly mags under his pillow.

***

He's watching her and he knows that she knows it. She's leaning over the glowing heart of the ship, stretching her back and a look of concentration on her face too practiced to be real. Her skin shines with the light and Jayne gets the feeling that even though she's playing the back and forth flirting game they started earlier, she knows exactly what she's doing to that engine.

And damned if that don't just spark his interest, the way her hand caresses the metal, fingers surrounding a bolt and making it do her bidding. His downfall, he knows it, is when she lifts a hand to push a stray bit of hair behind her ear, leaving a smudge there and not caring one bit. She turns her head to look at him and he's rewarded with another one of those smiles.

"Long as you're standing there, might as well make yourself useful. Hand me that wrench."

***

He nods automatically and turns to fumble at her tool box. Kaylee returns to the engine smiling on the inside. Men, more often than not she has found, always fall for the wayward waif of a tomgirl she can play to perfection. It's not an act, but it's not always accidental.

Reaching back, her hand feels nothing but air, so she turns and suddenly he is there, close. Close enough to smell, to feel his heat and she breathes deeply. He's looking at her hungry and it makes her knees weak. It's been a while, not too long, but long enough.

"Show me." He says and it sends a shiver up her spine.

"Right." His hands are rough when she grabs them, callused, but not hard. They're supple and she lays them on Serenity, covers them with her own. "See this? That's what takes the spark from here..."

"Uh huh."

His breath is hot next to her ear, his face is throwing off heat, too, leaning close to her neck. Breathe, she has to remind herself, keep breathing.

"... and carries it to here. It's what gives her fire."

He steps closer to her, filling her space, pressing up against her. Kaylee forgets to breathe.

"She looks like she's got fire."

Kaylee grins under his heat, resisting the urge to look back at him. Men are easy.

"But she ain't always getting spark."

She feels him grin, too, his lips dangerously close to her ear.

"Oh." He breathes. "A girl's gotta get good and sparked now and then."

An attention getting cough makes them both jump. Kaylee glowers at Mal in the doorway. She can see Jayne already retreating from her, making the space between them obvious to the Captain.

"Am I gonna have a problem with you two?"

"Ah..." Well, Kaylee never said she liked him for his brains. "Um..."

"Problem, Captain?" Wide innocent eyes that could never hide the flush that heated her whole face and neck. "What problem?"

"No fraternizing between crew." Mal leaves no room for argument. "Jayne, let's not make your first night here your last."

"K, Mal."

Kaylee can almost see Jayne pout as he glances between her and Mal, fists balling at his sides. He doesn't know where to turn and ends up giving a sigh of frustration before walking out of the engine room.

"You corrupting all my crew, now, little Kaylee?"

"But he's so pretty." She pouts at Mal for the both of them. "An it's not like you or Wash are linin' up for the job."

"No." He says.

"Just a little?" She wheedles, rocking side to side.

"No."

There's a sound outside the door, sounding suspiciously like someone kicking the wall, followed by the sound of a low voice swearing. Mal lets a small smile flicker over his lips before raising his voice.

"The two of you are off limits to each other, you got that?" Kaylee curtsies obediently, but the sparkle in her eyes must give her away. "I mean it."

***

Gorram, bleedin', mother of a...

Jayne believes he has found the catch.

He finishes hammering nails into his wall, smoothing the surface over with his hand, and begins hanging up his guns in easy reach of his bunk. The word echoes around his head. HIS. He's been in the sky a long time and it's been a good, long while since he's been able to lay claim to a space, nail his guns to a wall, walk into the kitchen and take whatever he gorram pleases.

The lights flicker over his head and his thoughts stray to the mechanic, her warm honeyed voice and hot hands. Lord, but there is a trade off for the perks he's getting. Off limits, hell, that only makes her more enticing. Another flicker and he decides to go find Kaylee. She's the ship's mechanic, maybe she knows how to fix it. Even if she doesn't, it's a good excuse to talk to her again.

The doors along the hall all look the same, but his memory is good for details and she pointed them all out to him before. He doesn't knock, just pushes the hatch open and slides down the ladder. She stands up in surprise and he's all manner of glad she does. She's wearing a large shirt and nothing else.

It's all girly in here. His eyes try and stay away from her, they linger on the walls, Chinese fans, dolls, leaves running up the edges, a wall hanging, lights with flower shaped bulbs, dried flowers. Hell, even her bedspread has flowers around the edges.

"Sorry." He don't mean it and they both know it. He'd planned to offer the excuse of the flickering light, but it slides ride out of his head to make room for the sight of her legs. "I thought this was mine."

***

He thought no such thing and Kaylee knows it. She showed him his bunk, counted out the doors with him. A mercenary like Jayne, if he's any good, will memorize the lay of a place right quick and not forget it. She doesn't exactly hurry in pulling the neck of her shirt closed, or even bother to hide her legs, enjoying the slide of his eyes over them.

"The Captain will throw you off the ship."

"Not you?" He challenges.

She smiles.

"A hired gun is easy to find. Ain't no one knows Serenity's engines like I do." She likes the flare of fire in his eyes. "Besides, this shirt belonged to the last mechanic."

The implication is not lost on him.

"You ain't shy none."

No. Kaylee don't see the use in being shy. She grew up in a world where church was but an hour a week and it wasn't much what you did in that hour, but the week outside of it that mattered most. Her parents and the farm hands she grew up with were the best people she knew and what suited them suited her. It hadn't taken her long to figure out that if you sneak out to the shed and hide in among the machines, you could watch Joe bring in a lady friend and see how fun not being shy could be.

"Not that it matters." She sighs. "Mal's real nice, but he got rules."

"Mighty fine rules, too." He winks. "How soon can we break 'em?"

She laughs a little.

"I ain't leaving this ship just 'cause you got urges."

"Me?" Jayne continues smiling. "I ain't the only one."

"I can last longer'n you."

"Right." He raises his brows at her. "That's why you was all over me before, is it?"

Her mouth falls open before she can stop it and she sees the triumph in his eyes. He's having fun, but so is she, so it's all good.

"Me?" Her voice challenges. "You can't help yourself. Captain already told you to stay away an' here you are."

She can see him squash a remark about Mal and knows it's probably something akin to the remarks she's been holding back herself. Damn Captain, spoiling all her fun. Not that there ain't a lot of fun to be had with this new development. She lets the neck of the shirt hang free. His eyes travel down and then up again, she can see the change in his breathing.

"Hey." His eyes narrow. "That ain't helping."

Blank look on her face.

"What?"

"You don't want me here, you can't be all... with the..." He gestures at her clothes, or lack of. "Stop teasin'."

"Was you who came into my bunk, not me." She pokes her tongue out at him. "You ain't gonna last a week."

"Plenty of women out there." He gives her a sad look that doesn't at all hide the fun he's having. "Not so many men, little Kaylee."

"What are you tryin' to say, Jayne?"

"I got distractions a'plenty." He gives her a satisfied grin. "It's you gonna be knockin' on my door soon enough."

"Yeah, we'll see." She raises her eyes, pointedly, to the hatch above his head. As he's looking up, she shows a little more leg. "Try to find the right door next time."

"Can't promise anything." He leers cheerfully. "They all look the ruttin' same and mistakes happen."

***

Heading to breakfast, Jayne thinks about visiting Kaylee's bunk again. To see how far he can push her, see how many times he can use the mistaken door as an excuse. As he steps into the hallway he has to chuckle to himself. She has strung the lights on the outside of her door and the door itself has brightly colored paint splashed over it, clearly announcing it as 'Kaylee's Room'.

His poor excuse will work exactly zero times.

There are butterflies, two of 'em, an' three flowers, blue, red and pink. The letters are bright yellow and the 'a' in Kaylee has a heart right in the middle. Small white flowers edge the picture, a green leaved vine connecting them. The whole thing makes him warm on the inside. He imagines her sitting up late, after they all was sleeping, and slowly daubing the paint from his jars on the piece of wood. He wonders where she got it from, the wood cut like this, or did she find a way to do it herself. It's simple, nothing elaborate, but she cared enough for one of the butterflies to have all manner of color in its wings.

His breath is gone when he enters the kitchen. Damned if she ain't there in her coveralls, hair tied back into braids showing off an obscenely pink little neck, painting the walls. Tendrils of flowers over the doorways, red petals and green vines.

"Mornin'." She grins, like it's everyday she stops a man's heart. "See? Now you'll always have flowers in the kitchen."

***

He doesn't move and Kaylee gets scared for a second. Maybe she went too far, maybe he doesn't want some fool girl scraping his life onto a wall where he has to spend a great amount of him time.

"You been busy."

She can feel herself glow under the praise in his voice.

"Here." She says and hands him one of the jars. "You just stand there, k?"

And he does, watching her paint, turning around every now and again to dip the brush in the paint. She tries to keep her hand from shaking when he steps closer to her, tries not to think of the way his huge hand is cradling the tiny little jar so carefully and how, if can be so gentle without thinking, he might be with her.

"You been doing some decorating, little Kaylee?"

Mal strides into the room, walking straight to the cupboards to find his tea.

"Yessir, Captain."

She smiles at him, knows that Jayne beside her has tensed up. Kaylee wonders if it's 'cause she just smiled at the Captain, because he don't like the Captain's rules, or because he's worried the Captain will make 'em take it all down.

"It's charming." Zoe joins them, followed closely by her new husband. "Might brighten the place up."

***

They're sitting around the table eating and it still makes Jayne stop. It's like they is a family. Talking and laughing. There's Zoe, who he first thought was Mal's girl when they was joking in the face of his guns, but is actually married to Wash. She's not bad to look at, but she's married and Jayne has done some mighty questionable things in his time, but he ain't never messed with a married woman. Wash, who Jayne likes well enough, but is still puzzled by, 'cause he ain't much to look at, not that Jayne can see, and how he tagged himself someone like Zoe is beyond him. The Captain, who Jayne can see wants to be all manner of firm and bossy, but ain't. And there's always Inara, piece of pretty if he ever saw one, but even a rube like Jayne knows he ain't getting close to her, so he don't even bother trying.

He's been following Kaylee around all week, watching her from all manner of hidey holes this ship has. They's getting to be friends and he likes her easy way of talking, how she enjoys everything she can and ignores what she can't.

"You mean to tell me," Mal takes a bite of his food. "You ain't never had a pet?"

Wash shrugs.

"I had a fish."

"That ain't a pet." Mal says. "I grew up on a ranch."

"What about you, Kaylee?" Jayne brings the conversation back to something he particularly cares about. Eyes meet over his head. "You ever had pets?"

"Grew up on a farm. We had this one dog," She smiles at him, eyes shining, like she's teasing him a little. "used to follow me 'round all day beggin' to be patted and such."

"You miss your dog?" Jayne says and eagerly turns to Mal. "Can we get a dog?"

Laughter around the table. Zoe and Wash smile at each other, then look down to their food. Even Mal can't resist a grin as he looks between Jayne and Kaylee, before his face becomes serious.

"No, Jayne, we can't get a dog."

***

The adhesive is almost dry and she's impatient to test it. It's been pretty quiet lately and there's not much to do. Even Serenity has been behaving, well, as much as she is wont to do. A motor starts beside her and Kaylee looks up at Wash, already mounted on the mule.

"Goin' somewhere?"

"Jayne needs to haul some stuff back."

"Oh."

Well, that's caught her attention. She sighs as Wash rides away and gives up waiting, pumping up the silver ball that had been in the box Jayne gave her. It hadn't taken much to fix it. It bounces, lonely, in hollow of the cargo bay.

An arm comes up around her waist and lifts her off the ground. She's winded and by the strength of it, she knows it's Jayne. He swings her around and dumps her down, leaving her gasping as he takes control of the ball and moves to the other side of the hold.

"You fixed it!"

"Yes." Grinning, she's back in the game, charges at him. "And I want it back."

He laughs at her as she tries to take if from him, the echo of its bounce sounding less lonely now that there's two of them. She ducks under his arm and feels the slide of plastic on her hand, bouncing it away from them. His hands on her hip hold her back, but she brings her foot down hard on his and she's free.

Her cheeks glow with triumph.

"You're not doing it right." Wash and the mule drive between them. "It's not fun unless you're aiming for something."

Kaylee looks at Jayne and they grin at each other.

***

Energies need an output. Jayne knows this, has known it for a long time, but it's never been as true as it is now. This woman is like to kill him. His muscles strain against the weights, beads of sweat bubbling on his skin. The money he's earning on this ship is enough for him to get this bench and the weights that come with it.

He needs them.

Damned if she isn't watching him right now.

"Got you something today." The look of surprise and delight on her face is worth it. "Ain't nothing big."

She claps her hands together, excited. Jayne makes a commitment to himself to do everything he can to keep surprising her. He sits up and reaches for the cartons.

"Oooh, goodie." She comes and sits next to him, their legs right next to each other. "What is it?"

"Nothin'." He insists, thrusting it into her hands. "It's just got color an' it reminded me of you."

She takes if from him, her eyes widening with delight as she pushes it open. Circles of color span in front of his eyes, but he doesn't think that's what's making him dizzy.

"Just an umbrella." He shrugs. "Reckon it was so cheap 'cause it's made of paper. Ain't gonna stop no rain."

She smiles.

"It's not an umbrella, Jayne, it's a parasol."

"Looks like an umbrella to me."

She leans over, all innocent like, and kisses his cheek. He wants to know whether the touch makes her skin burn like it does his, wants to know if the rest of her will be so soft.

"Thanks Jayne. It's pretty."

***

She hums as she walks. Maybe skips a little. It's been a while since she's been given pretty things by a man. She's never been so happy as she is now, living on Serenity, it sometimes feels more like home than home once did. She'll never go back if she has a choice, she knows it. But this, it feels nice. Nice, knowing that someone thinks about her, that he smiles just because she does. Kaylee ain't sure when she stopped thinking about Jayne in terms of his build and his strength and started thinking about the way he grinned, the way he sought her out, tried to make her smile.

The sound of voices and metal on metal makes her ears prick. It's the cargo bay and it takes less than a second for her to get there. Mal swerves in the air, his arms straining against the large hoop he is trying to hook on to the chain that has been hung from the high ceiling. He's balancing precariously on Jayne's shoulders.

Kaylee smiles.

"Whatcha doin'?"

Jayne looks up at her and smiles.

"Findin' something to aim at."

***

"Jayne!"

She calls and he turns, catching the ball she's just thrown. An instant later Wash barrels into her, but she's already watching him leap toward the hoop, arms stretching as he scores. The man has shoulders from here 'til Tuesday.

They whoop in glee as they get another goal.

"Okay, time out!" Mal halts the play. He's the only one of them not breathing hard. "That's it, I'm switching sides."

Four people in the cargo bay chuckle. Mal glares.

"I'm joining Zoe and Wash." He clarifies.

Kaylee grins, but Jayne looks puzzled.

"Mal," He explains slowly. "we're winning."

"No." The Captain sighs. "You and Kaylee are winning. I haven't gotten the ball yet. You guys don't share."

He sounds to Kaylee very much like a petulant little boy, but she also knows he's right. When they started, Mal joined them easily, not even trying to break into Wash and Zoe's teamwork. He just hadn't figured on her and Jayne.

"Hang on a minute." She grabs Jayne and pulls him aside, gets as close as she dares to whisper. "Can you get the ball by yourself?"

He nods.

"Okay, do that, then meet me over here, k?"

"Whatcha plannin'?"

She smiles sweetly.

"You'll see." Then claps her hands, speaking loudly again. "Okay, people, let's go!"

Jayne has the game under control as she races up the steps. Their eyes meet and she sees the grin spread over his face. He knows exactly what she's planning. It's not the easiest thing, scrambling onto his shoulders when there's three people on the attack, but they manage and she takes the ball as he races once more to the hoop.

His hands come up and they're holding her thighs, anchoring her as she rides him. She's not exactly sure how she manages to concentrate enough to score, but she does.

"Ha!" She's glowing with triumph and in no hurry to get down. "We're unbeatable!"

She sees Zoe give her husband a look.

"Don't even think about it." Wash holds up his hands. "You'd probably drop me."

Jayne's hands move to her hips and he bends down on one knee, she lifts one leg over his head and reluctantly slides down the front of his body. She doesn't think it's any kind of accident that he continues to hold her against him as he stands.

"Nice play." He breathes it into her ear and leaves her breathless.

***

"We got a job tomorrow, Jayne." Mal says pointedly. "Why don't you get some sleep?"

"I will."

He watches Mal wash out his cup and put it away, knowing full well that as soon as Mal disappears into his bunk, he's going to the engine room. It's like a drug, this play between them. He knows three things.

One: she's enjoying it as much as he is. He knows she wants him as much as he wants her and this only makes him want her more. Two: she's loyal as all hell to the Captain and he's the thing standing in their way. She's not gonna be breaking any rules. Three: everything is fine and dandy as long as they don't take on anybody else. The situation, as it is on Serenity, pretty much rules out that either of them are gonna be satisfying any urges with anyone else.

He finds her, as he knew he would, in the engine room. She's covered by the engine, lying underneath it, so's he can see nothing but her lower half. A stomach, two legs and pink feet, complete with pink little bubble toes. He smiles at the red nails, he didn't know she did that, she don't paint her fingernails.

"I know you're there."

"Yeah." He grins. "I know I'm here, too."

He can hear her laugh mix with the clink of tools.

"Need help again?"

There's no answer, which to him means it ain't a no. He lies down on his side next to her, looking through the moving parts to see the shadows of her. He hears her breathe.

There's a space between her coveralls, hanging loosely around her hips, and her purple tee shirt that shows a line of her belly. He runs his finger over it, feels the quiver of her skin as he touches it, hears the pause in her breathing.

It makes him hungry.

***

Kaylee is desperately trying to remember exactly why she has just pulled this hose from that socket and what she's supposed to be doing with it. Her skin is a trail of fire where he has just touched her and she wants him to go away, want to beg him to keep going, wants him to push her up against a wall, throw her legs around his hips and just make her moan.

She feels his hand lie flat on her belly, hot and causing shivers at the same time. He shifts next to her and she can see his face echoed in the light that peeks through the engine. His eyes gleam black. She's lost and she knows it.

Her fingers stumble in the machine as he pushes up against her ribs. A whimper escapes her lips that she didn't realize she was holding in. There's no answer from him and suddenly she wants to hear him speak, needs to hear the growl of his voice.

"Jayne?"

"Shh." It's gravel and sand and she closes her eyes. "Don't want to wake no one."

She can feel her nipple pebble as he grazes it, feathers his fingers over her breasts, returns to tweak it. If she shifts a little, inches over just a little, he can, and does, reach her with his mouth. The scratch of his beard on her neck is soothed by the wetness of his tongue.

"God, you're beautiful." The words whisper under her ear, breathing hot air against her skin as he hooks his fingers over her collar bone and rests them in her pulse. Even she can feel it, the bird beat threadiness of it, the speed of her desire. "So gorram beautiful."

There are two mouths under that engine and they're both breathing heavy. Shaking, her hands remember what they're doing and she tries to fit the part as fast as possible, as his teeth graze the lobe of her ear and his hand reaches downwards where she doesn't really want it to be, but, oh, how she does.

"Jayne?" She groans it.

"Kaylee." He groans back, tongue curling into the shell of her ear. It's a mantra. "Kaylee. Kaylee."

"Jayne, stop." He stills, doesn't move, waits for her. "Please stop."

She almost sobs as he pulls away, the cold air rushing over and draining all the heat from her, leaving her shivering and empty.

***

Stop? Jayne grinds his teeth to stop himself from groaning, from breaking down and howling out loud. She scrambles up after him and they stare at each other. Her irises have nearly completely disappeared, her pupils are that dilated.

"Stop?" He asks her, still breathless. "You really want me to stop?"

"No." She whispers. "That's why I need you to."

He hears her, knows it's true, realizes that she's right and he needs to leave, but that mean he has to like it none.

"Sorry." He backs away as she begins to pick up the tools. "I didn't mean..."

There are no more words to say and she's not looking for words, nor is she looking at him. He backs out of the room in silence, breathing deeply and turns. He leans against the wall and counts, slowly, to ten. The sound of a crash echoes in his ears and he pictures a wrench being thrown against a wall.

"Gorram, ah-shr suo-yo dee-yure duh biao-tze duh mah!"

It might be the frustration and anger in her voice that scrapes up his spine and makes him physically sick, but he wholly suspects it's the pain filled sobs he hears after.

***

The next morning she ain't at breakfast, nor at lunch. They go do the job on Whitefall and Jayne can't think straight, to the point where Mal gets shot by Patience.

Jayne doesn't need the uncomfortable looks he's getting from Mal, because he feels bad enough as it is, the guilt heavier than he can remember. He's not sure why he even bothers trying to eat the dinner, it all sticks in this throat.

"Interesting night last night?"

He's already stretched tight and Mal couldn't have picked a worse moment to needle him.

"Can it." He growls.

A sudden crash makes him look up just in time to see Mal's chair skitter across the room, Mal surging towards him and Zoe just watching. He don't stop it, lets his spine hit the wall, causing his whole body to shake, Mal's arm at his throat. Jayne can barely breathe.

"You don't speak to me like that on my ship, 'cause I'm the rutting Captain." Mal hisses the words through his teeth. "Now I got a problem and I think you're causing it."

Jayne reaches up and pushes Mal away.

"No." They circle each other. "It's you. You and your stupid rule about no fraternizin'..."

Mal stares at him.

"Know why I have that rule, Jayne?" There's a pause and Mal waits for the truth of it to sink in. "To avoid scenes like this. Know what I had three weeks ago?"

Jayne can't do much but shake his head.

"A great ship with a great crew to run her. Pilot, mechanic, soldier and a shiny new mercenary to boot. Know what I got now?" He doesn't wait, doesn't need to. "A mechanic who won't mechanise, a fighter who ain't thinking about the job and a bunch of other people that don't add up to a crew worth a damn. Not to mention the gorram hole in my leg!"

"We didn't mean..."

"But you did anyway." Mal stares hard. "If you want to stay on this ship, Jayne, you will go in there and say whatever the hell you need to say to make her show her face again."

A pause.

"And that face better be as happy and shiny as it always is, or I swear this job won't be the only thing you lose tonight."

Jayne nods, not even bothering to pretend he don't know what Mal means by that. He starts to walk away, towards the bunks, feeling very much like a dog that needs a smack on the nose a few times before it stops chewing up everyone's shoes.

"And Jayne?" Mal's voice makes him turn. "This stops now."

He fingers the wooden nameplate, hands shaking, wishing it didn't tie him up so much, that he knew what to say. His hand is heavy as he knocks.

***

She knows it's him. She's been expecting it all day, has been terrified of it. Exactly what can she say now? How is she supposed to face him?

"It's open." She calls.

His entrance this time is more than awkward, but he balances the tray carefully and she has to catch herself from watching the way his tongue twists in his cheek as he concentrates on not dropping it.

"I brought you dinner."

She'd have to be blind and stupid not to know it, but words need to be said and those are as good as any. Kaylee takes the tray from him, careful not to let their hands touch, she puts it down on the desk.

"Thanks."

"Look." He starts, his voice is loud and sudden and she watches him take a deliberate breath. "I'm sorry. We was wrong an' we shouldn't have..."

It breaks something in her, a fear, the terror that he'd chalk it all up to her being weak or him being too caught up in the moment. An acknowledgement that they both knew and understood and were equally guilty.

"No." She agrees. "We shouldn't have."

"Are you...?" He gestures at the air around her. "Ok?"

"Yes." She insists, then thinks better of it. "Well... I will be."

A pause, she looks at him.

"And you?"

"Frustrated." He admits and she can't help but smile a little. It seems to loosen him up. "Worried. Sorry. Angry at myself a lot an' you a little. Nervous. Scared."

"Scared?" It's not what she'd ever thought she'd hear from him.

"I been having so much fun." He sneaks a look at her from under his brow, it makes her heart melt a little. "An' not just with the... you know... but everything."

She nods, encouraging.

"I wanna stay your friend."

"That." She agrees. "Is doable."

Kaylee sits down, gestures for him to do the same.

"So... uh..." He's careful, oh so careful, not to accidentally touch her. "You think you're gonna make it up an' out of here soon?"

An eruption of nervous laughter bubbles out of her.

"Mal on the rampage?"

"And how." Jayne nods seriously. "Like to make me less of a man."

She makes her face smooth.

"Why do you think I've been hiding in here?"

He looks at her in surprise, then relaxes.

"He ain't gonna throw you off the ship."

"Yeah," She agrees. "but, I'm probably gonna have to do without some engine parts for a while, no matter how nice I ask for 'em."

They smile together.

"We really okay?" He asks again, looking nervous.

"Yes." She nudges him with her shoulder, he nudges back. "We just need to convince everyone else."

"You need to smile a lot." He points out.

"Well." She adds. "You need to keep scoring those goals."

"You need to tease other men."

Her mouth falls open, but she rises to it.

"You need to grope other women."

The air is warm between them again.

"Oh, I plan to." He assures her. "Many, many women."

"And I," She declares. "many men."

He laughs at her.

"You gotta find 'em willing, first."

"Men are easy." She points out the obvious. "You just gotta smile at 'em and listen to their stories."

***

Jayne hefts the box, grimacing as he hears the excitement in her voice.

"We're taking on passengers at Persephone?"

"Pain in the ass..." He manages through clenched teeth.

"No. It's shiny!" She assures both him and Mal. "I like to meet new people, they've all got stories."

Jayne's breath catches.

***

She's trying, really trying. She knows Mal's been watching her lately, watching them both. Kaylee does find the doctor cute, the complete opposite of rugged and gruff and sharp at the edges. Across the table, she can see Jayne's eyes flickering between them both.

"Little Kaylee here just wishes you was a gynecologist."

"Jayne." Mal's voice is thick with warning.

***

"I love my Captain." Jayne makes his voice high and squeaky. "You ain't got no shame, woman."

"Me?" Kaylee glares at him, not in the mood to play right now. "What about you? You was mean."

"You was flirting with that stuffed shirt." And didn't that cut him to the bone, the way she was throwing herself at the big city doctor and Mal not saying boo about it. "It was embarrassing."

"No, Jayne." She turns, looks straight at him and he can see the hurt in her eyes. Damn. "You were embarrassing. You had no call to say that."

"No, I didn't." He fumbles with his hands, wants to put a hand on her shoulder, tell her how sorry he really is, but he can't find the words. "It's just... I..."

"What?" Irritation flickers out of her, making it worse for him.

"Do you really like him?"

He's not sure what it is about him, but she softens, her mouth opening just a little. He thinks maybe she's about to tell him no, that she's just doing it to make him all jealous and it don't mean nothing.

That's when the voices start rising. And they ain't playing. There's shouting and panic and he looks at Kaylee. She runs out first and he stops to pick up a gun, because he heard the word 'fed'.

He hears the gun go off before he reaches the cargo hold and when he does he sees several things at once. The main one being Kaylee lying on the floor, her face stretched in pain and blood bubbling up from her stomach.

His eyes turn, furious and boiling to the man with the gun. It's Zoe that stops him and he ain't gonna thank her for that favor any time soon. He ties the fed up, but he ain't caring much whether the knots are right, he's wanting to throttle that doctor who isn't tending to Kaylee. Trying to barter her life for his freedom.

Jayne fights a lot of people, but he don't hate many of them. Right now, he's hating both the fed and the smarmy little doctor.

He watches the operation, crouched down next to the infirmary, never taking his eyes off her lifeless body. Through the crowd of people, he can see the damned bear she has sewn onto her coveralls. His teeth work at the edges of his nails.

***

She wakes up again, head still groggy. Mal is gone, but there's someone leaning down next to her. It's him, Jayne. His eyes are big and she can see worry in them.

"Hey you." She says, thick, the smile in her voice. She lifts a leaden hand and touches his cheek. "Talk with me a while?"

"Ain't time, Kaylee." He whispers at her and she can hear the panic in his voice, doesn't like it. "We gotta get you up."

"What?"

Confusion. She feels his hands go under knees, her shoulders, feels herself being hefted up. There's no choice but to lean into him, let him carry her and rest her head on his shoulder. If it wasn't for the sharp pain in her belly, she'd be enjoying herself.

"Reavers." He says, not looking at all like he wants to. "We gotta get you to the engine room."

She goes cold. Forgets that it's Jayne holding her and falls straight into auto-pilot. If only she could reach in and get to the engine herself, things wouldn't take so long, but it seems to her that there's an eternity of time between the orders she gives and the moment they're carried out.

There's an awful lurch and an even worse wait, then Mal's voice hovers around them.

"We're good people, we're out of the woods."

Relief surges through her and a smile bubbles out of her lips as she sees Jayne pump his fist into the air, he cheers out loud and his child like glee gives her warmth.

She grins up at him.

***

Jayne stands for a minute, watching her flirt with the gorram doctor and it's nothing he ain't told her to do, he knows it, but it cuts deep.

"Stay the hell out of everyone's way." He growls.

"No call to be snappy, Jayne."

There's a. Look. That passes between them, but it's okay, because he's already broken the mood between the two.

***

She holds the ball on her hip, seeing her opportunity once more.

"I guess that makes us one man short."

"Little Kaylee's," Jayne grins at her. "always one man short."

Kaylee punches him in the arm, none too gently, giving him. A. Nother. Look.

"Aw, hey." He complains.

***

"Jayne, I wouldn't."

Zoe smiles knowingly as she nods to the ship's door. Jayne lets his gun arm fall as he turns, already guessing what he's going to see. Kaylee in her painfully hopeful pink dress, all manner of gun pointed at her. His teeth grind in his mouth. She smiles guiltily, gives a little wave, and melts his heart some more.

***

Kaylee can barely breath, she's trying so hard not to laugh as the Mudders sing Jayne's praises. He's speechless and shocked and it's adorable. It's less than adorable later as she watches him with his arms around another woman. It makes her double her efforts with a drunken Simon.

When Mal interrupts, she knows he'll give her just about anything to stay with a man who ain't Jayne, who ain't dragging the other girl up some stairs into a room to have his way with her.

***

They're all upset, all lost in their own terrors and guilts and thoughts. So Book and Inara aren't paying much attention to the way he cradles her in his arms, the shuttle speeding away from a broken ship.

"We did it." She whispers to him and he knows she's thinking about the engine parts Mal wouldn't let her buy.

"Shh." He runs his hand down her hair, over her cheek. "We did no such thing."

He wonders if she believes him.

***

"Don't tell 'em what I done."

He's scrambling to hold onto the ship as long as he can, at least as long as it takes to know that Mal has heard him, heard him say the words and know he means 'don't tell Kaylee'.

***

Kaylee looks at him and smiles sadly, she craves his innocence after being beaten back by Simon once again.

"I think it's the sweetest hat ever."

Her voice is wistful and not lost on Inara, Kaylee is grateful for the knowing, understanding caress.

***

Damned if she ain't tried to latch onto another man who's got a gun right at her. If'n this man hurts one hair on her head, Jayne is gonna make him regret it for whatever time he has left. He ain't at all sorry when Mal shoots him, or that it takes so damned long for him to die.

***

"Man, my John Thomas is gonna pop off and fly around the room there's so much pretty in here."

Kaylee watches him throw his arms around the whores and it creates that ache in her again. Simon follows Petaline into the back room, hell, even Book is inundated with women.

"Wash." Her voice has no emotion. "Tell me I'm pretty."

"Were I unwed," He says, because he knows. "I would take you in a manly fashion."

It's not enough, it's never enough.

"Because I'm pretty?"

"Because you're pretty."

***

It's late, everyone is sleeping, or they should be, but there's a knock on his hatch and he's not at all surprised to see that it's Kaylee. He is all manner of surprised, though, when she takes his hand and brings it up to her breast.

"Oh, Kaylee." It's half a years' worth of sigh in that name.

"No." She won't listen. "Just kiss me."

"It ain't a good idea."

She's shaking as she presses up to him, they're touching all over. He steps back, stumbles and they both go crashing onto the bunk. She crawls up onto him, pinning him down, her hand over his chest and her eyes staring into him, bright and shiny wet with tears.

"Touch me." She's begging him. "Please? Make it soft again?"

"We can't." He reminds her, hoping that she starts to remember faster than she is right now.

Her mouth closes hungrily on his neck and he groans, unable to stop himself, not sure if he wants to. Jayne's gonna get them both kicked off this ship if he don't stop this soon. He begins to wonder if he really cares anymore, if it's worth stopping himself and her.

"We been down this road, Kaylee."

He grabs her hands and pushes her up, breaking the contact. She gasps when he holds her and that's when he sees her wrists, the red rawness that shines from them. His jaw grates in anger. He thinks he knows why she's here.

"He's gone." The words make her startle. "He didn't have much air left."

"He said..." Her eyes close above him, but he sees and feels the hot little droplet that falls onto his cheek. "... he said that he... was gonna... rape..."

He pulls her down, saves her from saying the rest out loud, covers her with his arms, holds her and showers her trembling head with kisses.

"Shh, Bao Bei." He whispers. "It's okay. I'm here now."

COMMENTS

Saturday, August 6, 2005 9:05 AM

AMDOBELL


This was good when I read it before and it looks so like it belongs here! Very nicely put together but feels like it needs a sequel. As in, what the good gorram happens next? Shiny. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, August 6, 2005 1:50 PM

WILDHEAVENFARM


Okay, now write the porn version.

Very good, a few tiny foibles notwithsatnding.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 5:26 PM

REALLYKAYLEE


i knew it!! and you are the first to understand it!! thank you and great writing. tension will always be more passionate than outright assault.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 6:07 PM

BUGCHICKLV


I agree with "WildHeaven"...p0rn version is a MUST!

Very SHINY indeed, though. And read so very much like it actually happened that way.

Monday, August 22, 2005 5:45 AM

BELLONA


I KNEW IT!! I KNEW IT!! I KNEW IT!! haha, Joss... forget simon, get kaylee and jayne together!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005 9:39 PM

ITSAWASH


Only reason it ain't a 10 is it is needful of the porn. How can you tease us so? I can feel it building, but the climax is what's lacking.

Love how you play these characters. You've got Mal and the rest spot-on. Can see it playing in all the best episodes. Lovely voice you have there.

"No, Jayne, we can't get a dog." Oh please, Jacqui! Can't Jayne and Kaylee have a dog? That would be too cool! Ummmm, not to say I want the dog involved in the Jaylee porn. Heck no. But a sweet doggie for Serenity's crew to adore? Yes, please.

Also, more porn. But not with the dog.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 7:41 AM

LADYKNIGHT


yay Jaylee! cuteness! *runs to read more of your stories*

Sunday, February 26, 2006 8:45 PM

WYOBAR


Just loved how you filled in the spaces after the camera left them-very clever!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 4:51 PM

BANZAIBILL


Very nicely done. I'm just trying to catch up on all of your stuff I haven't read yet.

You ought to get paid for this ;-)

Friday, March 17, 2006 5:58 PM

JAYNESBUNKWOMAN


Got yer name from the "why women love Jayne" thread today - thought I'd start yer stuff from the beginning! I can see why after just the one story why jaylee now plausible. Well done, seeing as how i was on the "not goin' to happen" side of the fence!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 6:42 PM

HANDSOF


Love the interactions between the crew, plus you've got a ton of great witty zingers in here that made me smile.



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