BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JACQUI

Pieces: Ch 12-25.
Friday, December 2, 2005

Sometimes pieces fit, sometimes they don't and sometimes they can't be put back together. Second installment for the Joss_100, Jayne and Kaylee.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2595    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

The second installment.

Disclaimer: Not mine. Did you *see* Jayne and Kaylee nekkid scenes in any of the aired episodes?

Feedback: please comment, don't make me beg, or send me feedback: wily_one24@yahoo.com.au

Quick Links:

--> The first installment, ch 1-11 can be found here.

--> Prompt set 2, the whole prompt table can be found here.

*** *** Prompt #012: The Start. Words: 458.

FOR THE ASKING.

He wondered how long it would take for her to come to him and it hurt just a little bit more when he realized that it was just what he wanted, that he'd been counting.

Nearly a whole day.

"Are you really leaving?"

The cloth in his hand felt good when he stuffed it into the duffel, a vicious thrust that meant nothing, not really.

"Looks like."

He didn't even turn to her, just kept looking at the mess of clothes on his bunk and the bag that seemed too small to hold everything when it had been more than big enough to cart his entire world onto this boat in the first place.

*~*~* "You already met Zoe, we also got her husband, Wash, a mechanic and a companion." Mal's voice carries back to him as they walk into the ship. "Before you get any ideas, she don't service crew, so I don't want you sniffin' around after her, no matter how pretty you think she is, you hear?"

"Yeah." Jayne stops as he sees her across the cargo bay, all shine and light and already he's taken. "That her, is it?"

"What? No. That's Kaylee, our mechanic." Mal pauses and turns to look at him. "She don't do no servicin' of any kind, either, dong ma?"

"Yeah, sure, got it."

Ye soo, if that there piece of pretty is what they're keepin' around as the mechanic, he sure as hell can't wait to see the whore. *~*~*

"I don't want you to go, Jayne." God, she knew how to twist a man's heart strings with nothin' but her voice.

"You sure got a funny way of showin' it." The shirt in his hand had a patch on the shoulder, just another knife wound he could have avoided. He'd come back to his bunk from the medbay only to find it stitched. "I can't take it, watchin' his hands on you like that."

He wondered if he'd ever thanked her for takin' the time to mend it. Warmth pooled in the bottom of his spine and he wanted to moan out loud when her hand rested on his back.

"Please don't go."

"I keep askin' myself, what's he got that I don't? Huh? And then I think, well, what the hell don't he got? He makes you happy, you said it yourself, an' you been nothin' but heartsick since this started. So I figure, it'd be a hell of a lot easier on all of us if I jus' left."

He stopped speaking when a pile of money fell into the bag.

"Jayne? You ain't listening." That made him turn around and he saw the hint of a smile on her lips and a question in her eyes. "I'm askin' you to stay."

***

Prompt #013: The End. Words: 521.

CINNAMON KITCHENS.

Kaylee cried. She didn't know how not to.

There were parts of her lying all over the place, like a dismantled port thruster scattered by Jayne and Simon and, if she was honest, mostly herself. It was Inara who gathered her all up, soft hands and soothing voice, and let her fall apart in the shuttle.

Away from it all, away from them.

*~*~* She spots him a mile away, anyone would, all crisp and clean like a piece of celery. Sure as hell looks like he'd smell all green and fresh. No sore thumb ever stuck out as much as this fancy man in the dust of Persephone, all tight and uncomfortable in the easy bustle of everyone else.

Kaylee spins her parasol and smiles extra bright as she watches him get closer. He don't seem to read the posted info on any of the ships, just waits politely for someone to come talk to him. He's used to bein' waited on. Core boy for sure.

"We're goin' to Boros." She says before he even has a chance to look at Serenity, his eyes follow the swirl of colors behind her head. "You interested?" *~*~*

"You did what?"

His voice had been louder than she ever remembered hearing it and she'd worried that the whole ship would come rushing in. They hadn't.

"I'm sorry, Simon." It was all she'd been able to say, over and over again, all she could offer. "I'm so sorry."

"But Jayne?" It had looked like he couldn't quite understand it, that he didn't really want to. "I know that things haven't been perfect, Kaylee, but... Jayne?"

She'd gone about it all wrong, she'd known it the moment he'd spoken again.

"Ok, we can get through this, I think we can..."

"No, Simon, that's what I wanted to tell you..." *~*~*

She felt as if someone was reaching inside her, deep down into her belly, and wrenching the sobs from her. Painful and loud, they were messy and choked her as she tried to speak, so she didn't try.

"Oh, mei mei."

Inara smelled like cinnamon as she wrapped her in delicate arms and rocked her back and forth. Kaylee thought about her mother's kitchen.

*~*~* "Mama? You and daddy always know you was gonna get married?"

Soft laughter and a hand running through the tangle of her hair, familiar as a kiss.

"Hell no, honey child, your daddy was the most annoying man I ever knew. You know the tale as good as any." *~*~*

"Cap'n!" Even Kaylee can hear how shrill her voice is. "That man's gone and eaten the last rice cake!"

Mal sighs.

"He has a name, Kaylee, and the kitchen is open for everyone, you know that."

"But it was in my food locker!"

*~*~*

"It's all or nothin' with me, Kaylee."

Jayne had looked at her and she'd seen the corners of his mouth quirk upwards as she'd nodded.

"I know it."

"I don't share."

"I'm not askin' you to."

*~*~*

"Are you sure it's over?" Inara's voice slid around her and Kaylee cried.

She didn't know how not to.

***

Prompt #014: The Past. Words: 460.

DON'T LOOK BACK.

If Kaylee had thought there'd been tensions before, it was nothing to what they were after. Her and Zoe followed River along the street. Subtlety was never Mal's strong suit and the three of them found themselves ordered off ship to get supplies.

"You're quiet today."

Kaylee looked up at Zoe and managed a nod. They kept walking.

"Yeah. It's just hard right now, you know? I'm glad we're away from the men though. It's too much."

"You didn't join us 'til Wash and I were already together, did you?"

That stopped her short. Not that Zoe had been weird about it, but it was rare that she just bought up Wash's name out of nowhere. The sun was making Zoe squint upwards. At least, that's what they'd both swear to.

"Yeah."

"I didn't like him."

"What?" She knew her mouth gaped open and she couldn't help. "You and Wash? Nah, Zoe, I don't believe it."

"It's true." There was a small wistful smile that inched over Zoe's whole face. "Captain tells me he's found this amazing pilot for the ship and we're gonna be up and flying in no time. I was expecting someone... I don't know... someone not Wash."

She was reluctant to break into the memory.

"I mean, the man had a moustache and, oh god, those hideous shirts and damned toy dinosaurs and he couldn't be serious for more than five minutes straight. I think I came close to killing him a time or two."

Kaylee smiled to herself. There was warmth in Zoe's voice, even if she could still hear the strain in it, that hadn't been there for a while.

"Where's River?"

She scanned the shop with her breath held and then pointed.

"Over there, lookin' at the books." They continued getting only what was strictly on the list, what their thin little purse could afford, despite the way Kaylee's eyes lingered over everything. She wanted more, so much more. "But he eventually wore you down, huh?"

Zoe laughed, it sounded happier than sad, but sadder than happy.

"You could say that. I guess he just grew on me, 'til I couldn't imagine not being with him." They paid for their bare groceries. "Even then Mal didn't want us to be together."

When Zoe looked at her, outside again, her eyes were sharp and Kaylee blushed.

"Sometimes I regret wasting so much time at the start. We could have had so much more."

They walked in silence for a bit, both deep in thoughts, until Kaylee coughed.

"What is she doing?" Ahead of them, River walked with her head down, bent over the item she cradled, open, in her hands. "Did she just steal that book?"

"Just keep walkin', Kaylee, and don't look back."

*** Prompt #015: The Future. Words: 561.

BIRDS, BEES AND THE CORRECT PROCEDURES FOR SUCCESSFUL CROSS POLLINATION.

"You know, I asked you to tell me what was happening."

Jayne looked at Mal.

"Yeah, an' I told you to ask her."

They both flinched with the crash that sounded next to them.

"I did." Mal sat down on the weight bench. "And she wouldn't tell me, either. I swear, this whole crew's gonna be the death of me."

"Death of you? Mal, she hasn't come near me in two days. I'm just about ready to give up on the whole thing."

Mal looked sideways at him.

"No you're not. I ain't never seen a man as whupped as you, Jayne, she's had you since you got on this ship."

He felt himself glare, but he didn't deny it. It felt strangely satisfying not even wanting to deny it. Jayne reached out and caught the next book aimed at his head.

"You throw one more thing at me, girl, an' I'm gonna start throwin' 'em back, you hear me?"

River appeared over the railing.

"I'm still looking."

"River?" Mal looked up and Jayne frowned to see the small curve of a smile on his mouth. "Why don't you come down here and just tell us what you're looking for."

"Won't work." River was stubborn, but she walked down the steps anyway and gestured at the many books and cortex links littering the cargo bay. "I've looked in that one. And that one, and here and there. It's not anywhere. Not once."

She came to rest standing in front of the two of them.

"I'm still looking."

"For what?" Mal repeated.

"Back on Earth that Was..."

And Jayne felt himself wilt just a little. Mal just had to go and ask didn't he? Hadn't the man learned yet that once the girl got started, she weren't likely to stop until she'd said what she wanted, whether it made any gorram sense or not?

"There were fields and orchards and meadows and a hive for each of them. Bees all buzzing, crawling through the pollen and sticking it to the stamens of the flowers, then back home to make honey sweet."

"Ain't that nice?" Jayne growled.

"Some planets have bees." River continued, giving him a pointed glare. "And other insects. Some don't. They have agricultural specialists and teams of workers to hand pollinate the fields and crops to ensure successful growth and production."

She seemed to be looking straight at Jayne and it made him nervous.

"You gonna tell us something we don't already know?"

"If the pollination is done adequately, the cops have a seventy percent change of coming to fruition. If the workers are trained and handle the plants carefully, taking time to ensure they're ready, then the success rate rises to over ninety five percent."

River smiled at them expectantly.

Even Mal looked tetchy.

"What the gorram hell are you talkin' about?" Jayne finally asked.

She sighed and thrust the last book she was holding into his hands.

"I'm still looking for precedence, just one, where the plant was uprooted and forced to go from bee to bee to get a sticky piston! There isn't any yet, I'll let you know if it ever happens."

Jayne watched her stalk away. Mal chuckled.

"I think she's trying to tell you to be patient and give Kaylee some space."

"Really?" Jayne frowned. "'Cause that last part sounded kinda dirty to me."

***

Prompt #016: Current. Words: 699.

GOING WITH THE FLOW.

The only sound he could hear was the engine. And her breathing. She was looking down at the plate he'd bought in for her, there was nothing special on it, just the usual fare, and usually he wouldn't have been all that interested in it either. But Kaylee hadn't eaten much in days.

"And you said this was gonna get awkward."

When she laughed it made the whole hammock jiggle.

"It is awkward, Jayne."

He watched the flush of color bleed out of her cheeks as fast as it had come and he frowned. He'd been tryin' to give her all the time she needed, but when he came in here and saw how pale she was an' how glassy her eyes were, he figured she wasn't exactly enjoyin' any of that time by herself.

"I ain't botherin' you, am I?" He gave a quick glance to the door to check if anyone was hanging about. "I mean, I'm not, like, invadin' your space or nothing?"

"Invading my...?" She smiled. "Jayne? Who've you been talking to?"

"River." He confirmed as he sat himself down on the floor next to her. "She said some stuff about bees, flowers an' waiting 'til you're ready afore I try to pollinate."

"What?" She spluttered on the food and choked a little. "She said what?"

"Yeah, I think that girl's got a filthy mind." He grinned when she smiled and reached out to touch her cheek. "Mind you, I ain't far behind."

There, that was better, he liked the color when it flooded into her cheeks like that, liked it even more that it was him who'd done it. She was so warm to touch it made him want to shiver.

Her eyes were watching him.

"She's been real nice, River, all of them have." She bit her lip. "Well, nicer 'an I thought, anyway."

"What?" Jayne furrowed his brows. "Who wasn't nice?"

She looked down again.

"Well, I did get an earful outta Mal for... well, for doin' what I did." A glint sparked in her eye. "And then he threatened to throw me out the airlock if'n I hurt you on top of it."

"Yeah, an' he'd do it, too."

He felt an itch on his forehead and could have sworn she'd glanced up at the same spot, too, but he'd made damn sure she hadn't ever known what had happened.

"I'm surprised he didn't give you a talk."

"Oh, don't you worry 'bout that. He talked some." There was a grin rising on his face. "I got the standard airlock speech, but I think he cooked up the bit about peeling my man parts with a rusty blade first just for me."

Jayne chuckled and Kaylee's laugh turned into a cough.

"You alright?"

"Just shiny, don't you worry none 'bout me." But Jayne kept frowning as she kept speaking, her words hurried. "And Zoe, River an' Inara, they've been good. It's just..."

"Simon." He finished and saw the flinch she gave. "He's a grown man, Kaylee, more'n able to deal with it."

"Yeah." She whispered it into her plate of food.

"Me, on the other hand." He just couldn't help himself, he had to run a fingernail up the skin of her bare arm peeking out of the blanket and his eyes took in the little bumps that rose after it. "I'm gonna end up bawlin' like a baby if you keep stayin' away."

Jayne wanted to keep being the one to make that flush come up her neck and that look in her eye. Like she was gonna be trouble and he was gonna like it a little too much.

"It's not forever, Jayne." She sighed again. "Just, you know, for now."

"Till things blow over. We're all just goin' with the flow." He parroted, not altogether disagreeing with the sentiment. "I know, but... Dammit, Kaylee."

He leaned forward and let his lips touch her forehead, watched her eyes flutter closed just before he made contact.

"You're hot, woman!"

She smiled.

"Subtle, Jayne, real subtle."

"No." He wasn't laughing as he took the plate from her hands. "You know what I mean."

"I'm shiny." She insisted.

And then started coughing again.

***

Prompt #017: Illness. Words: 586.

THE FALL.

They stopped talking when he entered the dining room, voices lowering to nothing. He figured it would take a while for that to stop. It was an eerie thing, the only sound a clink of a fork being dropped onto a plate and River standing up to walk past him.

"Doc...?" He began, seeing the man startle and the corners of his eyes tighten. "Uh, Simon. I need your help."

Even the ship held her breath.

"Really?" Simon arched his brow. "Isn't that..."

"It's Kaylee." Jayne rushed in. "She's started coughin' an' her eyes is all glassy an' when I tried to help her up before, she couldn't stand."

It was physical, the crashing return to sound and movement. There was no time for personal grudges in the black when a member of the crew got sick, they all knew it, not when contagion could wipe out the entire crew and leave a ship desolate and floating.

"Zoe?" Mal barked. "Check the cortex, see if there's been any med alerts on the last three planets we were on."

"Already on it, Sir."

"Good. Jayne? You carry her to the medbay."

Jayne cleared his throat.

"Well, see, thing is..." He took a breath. "She don't wanna see the doc."

Simon was looking past him and Jayne turned to see what had caught his eye. River had returned, standing near the engine room with Simon's red medical bag. When he turned back, Jayne found the doc looking right at him.

"Then she's gonna have to get over that, isn't she?"

They crowded into the engine room. One quick look and Simon nodded to them.

It occurred to Jayne, as he moved quickly down the stairs, carrying Kaylee's shivering body with Mal, Inara and River following and Simon already fussing about the infirmary, how easily they all moved together. How quickly the smaller things were pushed aside when there was something more important happening.

"Sir?" Zoe's voice came over the com as he lowered Kaylee onto the bed. "Regina is reporting cases of pneumonia."

"Ai ya." Mal spat. "Jen dao mei."

"No." Simon shouldered him out of the way to draw blood out of her inner elbow. "This is good."

"Good?" Jayne had swooped her up, blankets and all, and she'd felt so small in his arms. Now she looked it, shivering and clutching the edges of the cloth around her. "It don't look good to me."

"Pneumonia I can deal with." Simon eyed the vial of blood and flicked it with his nail. "I know exactly what to look for. It's easily treated once I find the source of it, probably bacterial."

"Ain't most folk innocced on that?" Jayne asked. "Why don't we all have it?"

"They are." Was the simple answer.

"The walls came down." River whispered as she watched. "Once so tall."

"Walls?" Jayne flicked his eyes to her and back down to the table. "What's she talking about?"

"Her immunity I gather." Simon was doing something to the blood with a machine and Jayne knew it was all supposed to be helping, but he wanted to shake the man and point to Kaylee on the table. "Kaylee's been... well... the last few weeks have taken their toll."

"She was in tears the whole day before we landed on Regina." Inara added. "I don't think she slept that night either."

"What's the verdict, doc?" Mal spoke through them all.

"If we can get the right antibiotics, she'll be fine."

Jayne glared.

"What do you mean, 'if'?"

***

Prompt #018: Health. Words: 454.

ABSENT.

There were noises all around, soft voices and the clink of tiny medicine bottles, footsteps, little things she could identify if she tried hard enough. It was the silence underneath it all that woke her up, made her open her eyes and blink.

"We're not movin'?"

"Kaylee?" Simon coming into focus in front of her.

"Mei mei." Mal next to him. "How're you feelin'?"

"Serenity." She tried again. "She's stopped?"

"Yeah." He lifted her hand and she was surprised how heavy it was, how tired she felt. "We're planet side for now. Don't you worry 'bout that. How are you?"

"Sleepy." She managed to look around them, to see Zoe and River in the common room outside, before she let her head fall back to the bed. "What happened?"

"You've been out for three days." Simon said as he flicked a light into her eye and she tried not to flinch. "A particularly vicious strain of pneumonia, it hit you suddenly and wiped you out. We got the proper antibiotics last night. You should start to feel better soon."

Three days, it sounded like such a long time. Kaylee could feel hands wiping her brow, words, her own voice pleading urgently and Inara trying to calm her down, sometimes Mal, she thought Zoe might have been in there a time or two. And beyond it, somewhere, the deep sound of people shouting in anger, the softer sound of someone trying to reason. Three whole days she couldn't piece together.

"Had us worried, there." Mal added.

She looked around again and Simon cut her off before she could speak.

"Do you think you could keep some water down? Maybe eat something?"

"Maybe." Her eyes narrowed. "Where's...?"

"Here." Mal brought forth a plate of squares from the bench and she looked down at them. "See if you can't nibble on some of that."

"Mal." He wouldn't meet her eyes when she looked up at him. "Where'd you get that?"

"It really would do you good, Kaylee."

She glanced at Simon, then back at the plate. Of course they would do her good. She'd be able to recognize the texture of it anywhere. Grade A food supplements, packed tight with proteins, vitamins, immunity boosters, all the bells and whistles.

And expensive as hell.

"Did everyone else get...?"

She saw the look that passed between them.

"No." Mal said it quietly, but he left no room for argument. "It's all for you. I don't want no arguing, Kaylee, there's a whole bar of this and ain't no one gonna touch it but you. You need it, you hear me?"

"We can't afford this."

"We didn't."

Kaylee almost wished he had kept avoiding her eyes and her fingers tightened on the plate in her hand.

"Where's Jayne?" ***

Prompt #019: Fight. Words: 401.

THE COST.

Voices woke her up again.

"How's she doin', Mal?"

"Good. Getting better. Now we've got the right medicine. Doc says she'll be up and about in no time. He reckons there shouldn't even be any problems that we had to wait so long."

There was some movement and she heard Jayne make a dismissive sound.

"No, leave her. She's sleepin'. Mal, you sure she's gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, takes more'n that to bring down our Kaylee. She asked after you, you know."

A pause.

"What ya tell her?"

"That you had errands needed doin'. Don't know if she rightly believes it. Girl's too cluey for her own good."

"It weren't a lie."

"You know she's gonna tear you a new one when she gets better, don't you?"

"What'd you want me to do, Mal? You saw her, all sick and not even knowing who we were. Doc said any longer and she could get real sick."

"I know, Jayne, we all know..."

"Nah, Mal, you don't know. I seen it, I seen what happens. My brother Mattie's real sick, got sick like Kaylee an' didn't get no medicine. He's got the damp lung now and he's real sickly. Can't hardly breathe sometimes. I seen what it can do, I ain't gonna let that happen to her."

There was heat near her, a hand hovering over her hair, near her face. Kaylee wanted him to press down a little further, wanted to feel his skin on hers.

"We've all been there, Jayne. Don't go sayin'... oh, hell, forget it. I already told you what I thought about what you're doin', so I ain't sayin' anything else. 'Cept we're all mighty grateful for it."

"Yeah." It was weary, his voice.

"Am I gonna have my merc back any time soon?"

"One more day, Mal, just one more'n we can leave, fly off this gorram rock."

"You better go get some rest, you ain't gonna do anyone any good if you're the next one collapses on us."

"I will, Mal, soon. I just wanna..." He stopped. "She really ok?"

"She's doin' good. She was awake before."

"She's awake now." Kaylee murmured and opened her eyes. "Hello Jayne."

"What?" Mal yelled out into the darkened, empty common room and then turned back to them. "Damn people, can't run a ship for five minutes without me. I'm comin', dammit!"

And then he left them to it.

***

Prompt #020: Still. Words: 642.

BEING GOOD.

He watched her watch them.

She was sitting on the catwalk above the cargo bay, legs dangling in mid air, her arms hooked over the railing. Her face, god he wanted to kiss her face, was just about sick with yearning and he knew why.

Even as he stood there, just out of sight, watching her back rise and fall as she breathed, he saw her fingers clutch tight around the rails and her legs begin to pull themselves up.

"Hey." She spun around at his voice, her eyes flicking with anger and frustration. "You better not be about to get up and go to join 'em. You're s'posed to be resting."

"I am resting." She pouted and let her legs fall back down. "I been resting for a week!"

"Good." He crouched down next to her and grinned into her scowl. "You just keep it that way."

"It ain't fair. You wanna be tellin' people off, tell them off." She pointed down to the cargo bay, where Zoe and Mal were teaching the finer points of hoop ball to Simon and River. With greater or lesser success. "They're just about flauntin' it."

Even Jayne had to admit that it was cruel, just cruel to be running around like that when Kaylee was just itchin' to be doin' the same. Hell, a few days in the black and Jayne was ready to be down there as well. But he weren't.

"You gonna get all pouty on me an' I'm just gonna pick you up, dump you down in your bunk an' lock the door."

"You wouldn't."

"I won't have to. Mal finds out you were tinkering with that engine without help an' he'll do it for me."

"I was..." Her denial died on her lips as he glared. "... just tinkering with a few parts is all. You spying on me round the clock now?"

"I wasn't spying." Jayne didn't even bother acting offended. "Weren't my fault I was walking past and the door was open and your feet were pokin' out from under the machine, your toes all pink an' bubbly an' just beggin' to be tickled."

"I don't have ticklish feet!" But the way her cheeks flooded with color and her eyes shifted off to the side told him otherwise and it made him sorry he hadn't given in to that particular temptation. "If you weren't spying on me, then what were you doin' walking around at three in the morning?"

"I told you, I was jus' walkin' past."

He could look as innocent as she could.

"You know." Kaylee's eyes got that little glint in them that made him want to back away, back away quickly. "With them down there playin' ball and Inara off with her client, there ain't no one around to walk past now."

"Really?" He looked down towards the game, where River darted quickly out of Mal's reach and sent the ball flying towards Simon, who wasn't having near as much luck avoiding Zoe. "Is that so?"

"It is." Her voice was all low and sweet, too. It made his ear tingle. "Nobody but you an' me."

He swallowed.

"Just us?"

She nodded, letting the very tip of her teeth bite down, little white buttons in the plump flesh of her bottom lip.

"Just us and a wrench or two."

The very thought made him want to groan out loud and he settled for reaching forward and kissing that mouth, just very softly.

"Don't think I don't know what you're doin', Kaylee. I ain't no exercise bike to work off steam." His knees cracked when he stood up. "Now, you need anything from the kitchen? Some water? I'll go get it, you stay right here. You don't move nothin'."

"I know." She sighed and laid her chin back on the railing. "I'm being very good."

***

Prompt #021: Lonely Words: 533.

PARTNERS IN CRIME.

Kaylee thought she was gonna burst if she didn't get up and off the ship soon.

At least she had company.

"You an' me alone again, hey girl?"

She didn't expect a reply, they'd fallen into a fairly recognizable pattern over the last week. Sitting atop the catwalks an' watchin' the others load up and leave 'em behind. Mal shoutin' orders, Zoe echoin' 'em and Jayne just nodding along.

And she could have sworn they both sighed when the door would close behind them, leaving them abandoned until the group returned either triumphantly or somewhat ragged.

It was eerie how much they had in common, really. Kaylee felt as if parts of herself were missing. Oh, nothing physical or solid, just some real vital stuff like her energy and her ability to lift more'n a hammer for longer than two minutes at a time. Slowly, and with care, these parts would be replaced.

It was just the slowly side of things was taking far too long.

Not that she would have been going with them at any other time, she was rarely ever chosen for jobs and she preferred it that way. Her strengths were never of the conflict kind. Kaylee just missed having the choice.

At least she could be sure that whatever Jayne was doing, he weren't gonna be seeing no other women. He might have liked to play around, but he was as loyal as all get out when it came to things like that. She didn't have nothing to worry about.

Not when her partner in crime, sitting beside her, was visibly replaced everyday, had to sit and watch herself be pushed aside for something newer and shinier and somehow more complete.

Kaylee thought about going to the kitchen and getting more of her nutritional supplement, but the idea stuck in her throat. She could never bring it out here and eat it in front of her friend, because that would be plain mean, a last desecration. The guilt of it would stick in her mouth, cleave to her teeth and the roof of her mouth. No, she'd save that for later.

At least she could get up and go down into the infirmary, talk to Simon if she felt like it. Not that she really did right now. Or go to Inara's shuttle if she was onboard the ship.

They weren't standing over her anymore, shrieking hysterically if she even dared move any kind of muscle. Freedom of movement was something she'd grown to dearly love. Now she understood some of what made River stretch and forever test the boundaries of her body.

Yeah, they were gone and they would most likely be gone for hours, doing whatever they did when they left the two of them sitting there. Lonely. Abandoned. Kaylee ran a hand over the long, sleek line of her new friend, wishing that she were more than a mere shell.

She stood up and thought about fine tuning the engine.

"Don't worry, Vera, he'll be back soon."

As she left the empty gun sitting in its case, Kaylee wondered how long it would take Jayne to find another custom full gauge hair trigger lock mechanism.

***

Prompt #022: Hunger. Words: 573.

JUST A SCRAPE.

Damn if the job didn't go south again.

Jayne's shoulder stung like a bitch, but he wasn't gonna say nothin' about it as he an' Zoe helped Mal stumble up into the infirmary, River trailing behind. Girl had told Mal their contact couldn't be trusted and he damn well should have listened. It's why they bought her along in the first place.

Gorram Mal's stubborn need to get paid.

Simon took over and fussed about some, Zoe stayed to help and River, River of all people, ordered him to sit there in the common room and wait 'til he could be seen. He musta been more injured than he thought, 'cause he found himself too tired to argue with her.

"Jayne?" He was wondering when Kaylee would show up. "What happened? Is everyone alright? Oh god, you're bleeding."

"Just a scrape, Kaylee, you don't need to worry none." He followed her line of sight to where Mal was sitting on the table. If his face was anything to go by, he was teachin' Simon some new curse words. "Mal got shot in the leg, but it ain't nothin' either."

She was bright enough to notice that not even Simon seemed all that tense, just annoyed at Mal for whatever he was sayin' until he was able to be doped up. He watched her settle some and turn back to him.

"You sure you're okay?"

"'Course I'm okay. More'n okay now you're here." He reached out, grabbed her hand and pulled her down onto the seat next to him. "What'd you do while I was out?"

"Worry 'bout you." She was smiling again as she leaned in close and suddenly it was all quiet again. "I ain't allowed to do anything else."

His arm was hanging by his side between them and Jayne looked down to where his hand lay right by her thigh. It didn't hurt none to inch his fingers over a little and slide over the material of her coveralls.

"It's for your own good." He barely got the words out as her lips parted in a gasp. "You gotta be all careful an' quiet like for now."

That bought a smile to her face and she smiled slowly.

"I can be quiet."

Yup, it was about then that Jayne's mind firmly packed its bags and moved out.

"Kaylee." He whispered, almost groaning as her hand found his leg. "I been good."

"I know." She kissed his cheek. "A little too good."

His eyes closed and his head fell back as her mouth made its way over his chin and down his neck.

"Kaylee." He tried again. "We can't do this here."

He felt her shift up and was about to open his eyes when she straddled him, her weight sitting easily just past his hips. Even as he wanted to complain, he found his hands were reaching up and grabbing her waist.

"If I left it up to you, Jayne, we wouldn't do it anywhere. You're fussier than a girl on her first time."

She cupped his chin and kissed him hard and his hands gripped tighter and pulled her in so she was all up against him. She felt so good. And her little moan, half pleasure half frustration, just about drove him crazy.

Somebody coughed politely.

"Jayne?" And they both looked over to Simon standing in the door to the infirmary. "I need to look at that shoulder."

***

Prompt #023: Vampire. Words: 570.

CARRION EATER.

"Ow." Jayne gritted his teeth. "Ow."

"I said," Simon tugged the weave through his skin a little rougher than Jayne thought was needed, "stay still."

Jayne glared.

"And I said 'ow', gorramit. Ain't you got nothin' for the pain?"

"No."

Another vicious tug and another wince.

"No, you ain't got nothin'?" Jayne asked. "Or no, you ain't got nothin' for me?"

Maybe he was mistaken, but he could have sworn he'd seen the corner of Simon's mouth twist up into a smile. Just for a second. Jayne craned his neck so he could watch the hands tie off the weave on his shoulder.

"I meant what I said before." Simon's voice was steady and calm. "I won't hurt you when you're on this table."

Jayne snarled and pushed his way up off the bed.

"S'at what this is about?" A flush of red ran over Simon's face. "You're tryin' to be nice about it all 'cause you think I'll turn you an' River in still? 'Cause I wouldn't do that, not now, not after..."

They both stared at each other and Jayne just wished the whole thing'd be over. Back home he just woulda smacked the man stupid and it would all have been over nearly a year ago. This here is exactly what he got for doin' the right thing.

"Fine." Simon had the grace to look away first. "Whatever. I think we're done here..."

"No. No way, we ain't done." Jayne's fingers itched and he clasped them together, unconsciously making a fist. "You got somethin' to say, Simon, why don't you finally grow a pair and just say it?"

"You want me to say what I think? Is that it?" Simon breathed in. "I think you're a vampire, Jayne, I think you circled around your prey and waited until there was a weakness so you could swoop in and leach it dry. You're like a flea, a parasite sucking life out of something else because you don't have any of your own, you're like a carrion eater."

"That's what you tell yourself is it? You think I'm some snake just slitherin' around waitin' to strike?" Jayne tugged his shirt back on. "Yeah, you keep tellin' yourself that and maybe one day you'll believe it. 'Cause we both know what happened. Hell, everyone knows."

He stepped toward Simon, squaring his shoulders back so that he stood to his full height.

"Truth is, smart man, you had her and she woulda done just about everythin' and anythin' you asked had you just asked. But you didn't. No, you hadda push her down again and again until she had no tears left to shed over you."

His hand reached out of its own accord and pushed Simon back into the wall.

"Truth is, I didn't wait for no weakness, she did. It were Kaylee came to me. You even understand that? Kaylee chose me. You had her and she came to me anyway. Truth is, Mr. Top Three, she's with me now and I'm gonna make damn sure she don't need to go elsewhere."

He turned around and began to walk away, stopping just inside the door.

"Know what a carrion eater is, Doc? It's a bird that makes it meals from something that's already dead. It don’t need to do any killin’. Maybe you were right about that bit." He let the words sink in. "Now I think we're done."

***

Prompt #024: Day. Words: 755.

SEGMENT.

“Can I look yet?”

“Have I said ya can look yet?”

“Jayne?” She kept her arms out and her eyes closed, there was no real need to look, she trusted him to lead her straight and her own feet knew the footing of the ship as well as she knew her own body. “What are you doin’?”

Her nose twitched as they entered the cargo bay. If her eyes were opened they would have widened. A lot. As it was, she just smiled.

“You takin’ me outside?” She bounced a little. “I get to leave the ship?”

“Dammit, Kaylee.” He sounded upset. “Can’t nothin’ be a surprise with you?”

“I’m sorry.” Her words were quick. “Forget I said it, I don’t know nothin’, I promise.”

She could almost hear him struggle not to smile with it.

“Mal says we got all day here. We can do anything we want.” Their steps lead them over the ramp, she felt hard packed dirt under her feet and the unmistakable scent of green plants got stronger. “I mean, we got a few chores, but nothin’ too hard.”

“Now can I look?”

“No.”

“Jayne.” It was almost a whine. “People are gonna see me.”

“Don’t they normally see you?”

That made her giggle.

“Not bein’ led around with my eyes closed.”

She heard voices getting closer and felt the earth get firmer, noises sounded around her, the soft noises of a small town going about its day, there was the deep, earthy scent of horses nearby and somewhere, somewhere close, she heard the beginning of market barkers about to start.

It wasn’t even hard, giving over to it and letting him have his fun. It was actually kinda nice, feeling the warm sun on her skin and his hand on her back. Once or twice the loud squeal of children running around them and pushing past made her stop and grab onto him, but after a while she stopped doing even that.

“Okay,” he whispered it low into her ear, all breathy, “lift your feet now, there’s a step there.”

“Good morning.” A voice greeted them as she felt the earth give way to wooden floor.

“Mornin’.” Jayne answered, then put his mouth back to her ear. “Okay, now open.”

“Oh!”

Her nose had picked up the tantalizing scent of sweetness and green and her skin had prickled with the cooler air inside the store, so she’d known where they were, even so the sight of the shelves bursting with brightly colored fruit made her gasp.

“Jayne.” She turned into him and whispered low. “What are we doin’ here? We can’t afford no…”

“Yes we can.” He looked as if he wasn’t gonna take no for an answer. “I got it all worked out. You choose somethin’ so we can get about our day, dong ma?”

“But…”

“You choose or I’m takin’ you right back to the ship.”

It was tempting, all of it, the small, plump berries she knew would be bursting with juices, or the crisp apples, or the smooth silkiness of the mangoes. But that wasn’t what she chose, her eyes fell on the perfect thing and her hand reached out to tenderly pick it up.

“That what you want?”

“Yes.”

He paid with some coin and they went back outside into the warm air. Kaylee cradled the chilled fruit in her hand as they walked along the street and looked at the different stalls.

“You get tired, you tell me, okay?”

The fingernail of her thumb slid under thick skin.

“Jayne.” She sighed. “We talked about this, you don’t mother me and I won’t try an’ stop you doin’ whatever it is you got planned.”

She watched his eyes flicker down to her hands, saw him follow the movement of them as she twisted it around, extracting more and more flesh. He licked his lips.

“Don’t got much planned, really, ‘cept just before we’re ready to go back. Then we got some groceries to pick up an’ some post waitin’ for us. Other than that, the day’s yours.”

She liked the sound of that. Without looking at it, her thumb found the small depression and she pushed into the fruit, pulled the flesh apart and smelled the ripeness of it.

“God I missed these.”

Kaylee carefully pulled off a segment of the orange and handed it over to him.

“No.” He tried to hand it back. “I bought it for you.”

She grinned.

“And I chose it to share.”

It tasted sweeter in halves anyway. ***

Prompt #025: Night. Words: 550.

LIKE FATHER…

“My Dear Boy.

Sorry to hear the job went bad. I know your work isn’t easy. The credits you forward are a help, but don’t worry if you can’t send them. We manage just fine without it. You keep what you need. Just glad to hear from you.

Love, your mother.”

“Jayne Cobb!”

“Um…” He ducked his head. “Yeah?”

Kaylee leaned over and swiped the letter at him.

“We’ve got paid for every job we’ve done lately! I know it an’ you know it! Which means not only did you lie to your own mother, you didn’t send her the money when you damn well could have!”

“I didn’t lie!” She glared at him. “Not much anyhow. I needed that money.”

“You didn’t need it.” Kaylee sighed. “You didn’t need to get all that stuff.”

This he could look her in the eye for.

“Yes. I did.”

“It was too much, Jayne. Too much.” She ran a hand over his shoulder and he felt so solid under her touch. “First you sold off your guns, now you scrimped on sending credits home which I ain’t never known you to do since you been with us and you still haven’t told me what you did for those days they had you off ship.”

“I’ll get better guns. And Vera’s nearly back to workin’ order.” His eyes looked her up and down and she wondered if he was really talking about his gun. “It was worth it.”

“And…?”

She wasn’t going to drop it and now was the perfect time. They’d spent all day wandering around town and he’d let her chatter on about this and that and nothing much at all that she could remember. They were both tired and he was just that little bit more open with her now than he usually was. Heated with sunlight and a letter from home.

“It weren’t nothin’, Kaylee.”

“Then why won’t you tell me?”

He breathed in.

“Welding, okay? We had enough to buy some of the meds and stuff, but not all.” His hands must be interesting, the way he kept looking down at them and not her. “They let me work off the rest of it. You happy now?”

Not particularly, no. The engine thumped near them. They were sitting on the floor, their backs against the wall. For some reason, Jayne had wanted to spend time in here, away from the others, preferred to be alone with her where no one else could see. She figured it had something to do with Simon.

“You worked in a factory?” He nodded slowly and she reached out to touch the line of stubble on his jaw leading up to underneath his ear. “You hate workin’ in factories an’ the like.”

“Yeah.” A small, bitter little laugh. “But there ain’t no one can weld like a Cobb. Just ask my pa.”

“It’s why you left home.” She continued. “So’s you wouldn’t have to do it.”

“Look, Kaylee, I know all this, okay? It ain’t nothin’ I haven’t heard before, so unless you got somethin’ new to add, just drop it.”

“Only this.” And she kissed him again, decided she liked kissing him, because as much as he said he didn’t like doing it, he was always eager about it. “Thank you, Jayne.”

***

End, for now...

COMMENTS

Friday, December 2, 2005 6:11 AM

CHESHIRE


Bravo. This just keeps getting better. The characterization is dead on, and I love the idea of Jayne wanting to leave home because he didn't like where his future was leading him - just like Kaylee. I can't wait to read more!

Friday, December 2, 2005 12:13 PM

AMDOBELL


This was so very fine especially Jayne spelling it out for Simon how he had his chance with Kaylee but he threw it all away. Love how gentle and attentive he is being to her, sigh. Just like a man in love. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 2, 2005 12:14 PM

PUREJOY


So, I read parts 1-11 three times while waiting for the second installment, and i was starting to get a bit impatient. But oh goodness was it worth it!

Friday, December 2, 2005 3:55 PM

CANTONHEROINE


That was perfect, just... perfect.
*sigh*
This is the kind of thing I wanted to write, but you just did it so much better.
'End, for now', huh? Does that mean we can expect more? I vote YES!

Friday, December 2, 2005 6:56 PM

JACQUI


Canton: Yeah, there's more. If you follow the link to the prompt table, you'll see there's 100 prompts to get through (hence the name 'Joss100'), and I'm only up to 25!

Thanks for reading guys!!

Saturday, December 3, 2005 2:14 AM

BOOKADDICT


I love the whole series and can't wait for the next 75! Loved the mandarin and him selling off Vera's trigger

Saturday, December 3, 2005 5:04 PM

CANTONHEROINE


After I posted my comment, I re-read the intro and had a complete Homer Simpson moment - DOH! *slaps forehead* I'm so stupid, of course there's more.
This one goes up to one-hundred...

Then I did my happy dance ;P


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