BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JACQUI

The Best Deceptions: Ch2
Friday, December 23, 2005

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. (Jayne/Kaylee).


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2561    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

And so the second part brings the second day.

A/N: For those who wanted to know why Simon wasn't chosen, please be patient and let the story unfold at its own leisure. I believe the edict is: show, don't tell.

Disclaimer: The ones you've seen, they're Joss'. The ones you haven't, they're mine.

Rated: This one is PG, it's a little more frisky.

Feedback: Is so very shiny. I love it all. Give it me, give it me good. Comment or email: wily_one24@yahoo.com.au

***

Chapter One.

***

CHAPTER TWO.

***

She led him back to the table and collapsed into the seat with breathless laughter. Jayne figured, with all these people, he was gonna have to resort to the tried and true method of talking to people without actually saying their names.

He gave one last look back at the other tables.

"Don't you know any girls from when you were young?"

She laughed.

"Not your kinda girls." Was that a wink, did she just wink at him? "What's the matter, you feelin' jealous?"

He took the opportunity to run his finger over the top her hand as it rested on the table, her smile faltered only a second and he watched the way her eyes flickered down to it and back up to grin across the table.

"It's like I never left! Mick, you didn't tell me Billy Wu got married to little Jai-Anne!"

"That's old news." He shrugged it off. "'Sides, what do you care now?"

Jayne let his hand linger just a second longer over hers before letting go and reaching into the middle of the table to begin heaping food onto a plate. He felt eyes on him from all directions.

"Here." He set the full plate down in front of Kaylee. "You ain't stopped for more'n five minutes all day, so sit down and quit yer yammerin' until you eat somethin'."

"Thank you." Her eyes lit up as he swiped her empty plate away and looked over the offerings on the table. He pretended not to notice the feel of her head leaning against his shoulder for a second. "And I don't yammer, Jayne."

"Ha!" Frank pointed his knife in the direction of his daughter. "Yes you do. Man's got you pegged, girl."

"You'd think it woulda been on the cortex somewhere." Mick's eyes gleamed as he leaned around his brother to tease Kaylee. "You know, hell freezing over and all."

"That wasn't hell, dear brother." Mike needled. "That was the hearts of all the boys in town."

Joe chuckled and nudged Jayne.

"You know they burned you in effigy, don't you?" He nodded seriously. "They even took one of old Nelson's scarecrows and lit a bonfire when they heard our Kaylee was off the market."

"Oh, you would have loved it, Kaylee." Betty joined in with a slightly exaggerated breathlessness. "It was so pretty, all the sparks and the cursing."

"Don't forget the wailing." Mick hammed it up. "Oh, the wailing."

"Many a poor boy cried that night." Added Mike with a small grin. "It is said so did one or two girls."

"Stop it." Kaylee was blushing. "Ain't a one of you got any shame?"

Jayne couldn't resist making a show of craning his neck to look around at the different tables.

"Girls, huh?" He snuck a look at her and gave a wink. "There somethin' you ain't tellin' me?"

"Thanks. All of you. Really." She pretended to huff her shoulders, but her eyes gleamed. "This is what I come home to? Ribbin' and teasin'?"

"Damn straight." Mary nodded. "Like you'd have it any other way."

"How'd you two get together, anyway?" Frank asked around a mouthful of food.

"Oh, you know." Kaylee breezed, waving her fork over her plate. "We was just on the same ship." "There's gotta be more to the story than that." Betty looked disappointed.

"I ain't particular about my ships." Jayne said. "I go where the work is, but you gotta know what's what in the black."

He speared a chunk of meat on his fork, suddenly aware that everyone had fallen silent.

"I get this offer to join a crew an' it seems too good, bunk of me own, good pay, the like. So's I ask around, is this ship worth sailin' in? That kinda thing. You know what I hear? Couldn't find a better one, s'got the best damned mechanic you could find."

Kaylee was watching him, too.

"Captain says the same thing, they got this genius mechanic, can work miracles in the engine, will keep the ship up in the air longer'n anyone he knows. Don't know what I was expectin', but I sure wasn't lookin' to meet this little bitty thing, pretty as a picture, fumblin' round the engine."

Gorram, but this here meal was better than he'd had in a long time.

"It was like some girl'd come to play dress ups with the big men. Was a good job to be had, but I wasn't gonna fly off a planet with a ship in the hands of someone who couldn't even lift the tools to fix it. So's I might've put a spanner in the works, made it so the ship couldn't take off, prove that she didn't know what she was doin' after all."

"You didn't?" The look on Mick's face was something akin to horror. "And you're still here to tell the tale?"

"Yeah." Jayne grinned as he picked up a piece of bread. "Damn if that ship didn't take off on time, not even a hiccup."

"She let you get away with that?" Joe's eyes were wide.

Kaylee smiled down at her plate. It had been a long time since then and she'd almost forgotten. Apparently Jayne hadn't. She hadn't even thought he'd remembered.

"She didn't say nothin'." Jayne pretended to frown at her. "But there was some alarm kept goin' off in my bunk at three am every mornin', took me three weeks to find the damn thing."

Kaylee was the first to burst into laughter, she wasn't the last.

"I knew then she weren't one to mess with." ***

Kaylee closed the door and realized, all of a sudden, exactly how small the small room was. Too small to hold the two of them and the silence that descended.

"So." She shrugged.

"Yeah." He agreed.

She twisted her hands into her pockets and looked at the floor.

"I think they like you."

This made him smile.

"Your family's great, Kaylee, they been real nice."

"Well, yeah." She gave a little, nervous laugh. "What'd you expect, Jayne, that they were gonna eat their young or something?"

"It's just..." His little unconcerned shrug did nothing except highlight how much he meant what he was saying. She frowned at the tone in his voice. "Sometimes folk aren't that nice to me, bein' what I am an' all."

She pulled her hand out of her pocket and gave his shoulder a friendly nudge.

"'Course, it's a little different if the girl's Pa ain't chasin' you away with a shotgun."

He chuckled.

At the floor.

Kaylee screwed her mouth up and let her eyes slide over the walls. Two years hadn't changed it much. Her brain ticked over the seconds. She'd left most of her things here and it seemed as if her parents hadn't got around to putting any of it away.

"It's bigger than the bunks." She offered as she untied her boots.

He looked around.

"Yeah."

"I mean." She smiled again, ran her hands down the sides of her legs as she stood upright again. "We can do this part, too."

Jayne sent a look her way and she couldn't even begin to decipher it. She could not remember things with him being this awkward before. He grabbed a pillow off the bed and threw it on the floor.

"This'll do me."

"What? No." This she could turn to face him for, feeling the heat rise to her cheeks. "I ain't makin' you sleep on the floor, Jayne."

"I've had worse."

"That's not the point." She gestured to the bed. "There's room for two of us. We're both adults, I'm sure we can behave ourselves."

"Maybe." He grunted as he lifted his shirt over his head with one hand and then crouched down, spreading himself out. "But this'll do fine."

"Fine, be like that." She made sure to be looking away, far away, from the broad expanse of chest that he was flashing. "But it don't have to be this way."

She finally let herself fall onto the bed and realized how tired she really was. Her eyes ached as she rolled over and looked up at the ceiling and her mouth stretched out in a yawn.

"Yeah, Kaylee." He sighed. "It does."

Kaylee stared up at the ceiling for a long time, listening to the sound of his breathing, of her own, of the little noises that used to make up her nighttimes, of the lack of noises that now made up Serenity's nights.

Her brain couldn't help but go over the day, over all the time she'd spent with Jayne and how she'd reacted every time he'd ran his hands over her arms or hair, or how she'd blush when he'd say something. About how warm she'd gotten when he'd kissed her, how her brain had stopped working and she'd been disappointed when he'd stopped.

"Yeah." Eventually she sighed back. "Maybe it does."

***

"Auntie Lee!"

The door burst open before either of them could react. Kaylee sat up straight in the bed as she blinked at the sudden light. She heard Jayne shifting on the floor beside her.

Lilly jumped up on the bed, falling all over Kaylee with limbs going everywhere.

"Come on, they're makin' breakfast!" She peered quizzically over the side. "Hey, what're you doin' down there?"

"Um..." Kaylee blushed.

"I roll." Jayne grunted as he sat up. "In my sleep. Musta rolled right off."

Lilly quirked her head.

"And you took the pillow?"

***

"Morning Fryes!" Mick's head appeared at the window as they ate.

"Sun's up!" Added Mike, walking through the door. "Came to see if the young Miss Frye an' her man were up for some swimming."

"I am! I am!" Lilly choked down the last of her breakfast. "Momma, can I go? Please?"

"Lilly." Chided Betty. "You weren't asked."

"'Course she's welcome." Mick added. "You all are."

"The pond's up then?" Kaylee asked.

They nodded.

"Planet's got a swimming hole?" Jayne kept his forearms to the sides of his plate. Eyes had been watching his slices of crispy fried protein. "You been keepin' secrets."

"Sometimes." Kaylee tried to distract him as she crept her hand towards his breakfast. "It's good for swimmin' some years. Some not."

"You boys eaten?" Mary greeted two similar grinning faces. "There's some bread for toasting left."

"You know me so well." Mick grabbed a slice and shouldered his way past her to the grill. "And here Mike said you'd forget all about us with Kaylee back."

Jayne slapped at Kaylee's hand and she poked her tongue at him.

"I said no such thing." Mike declared as he laid his hands on Mary's shoulders and sat her down at the table so he could join his brother in the kitchen. "The question is, dear Ma, have you eaten?"

"I already..."

"Nonsense." Mick shushed her as he lifted a piece of toast onto a plate and then blew lightly on his fingers. "I bet you been runnin' after this lazy lot an' they haven't once asked after you."

"Bunch a heathens." Mike said as he produced a glass of milk and set it down. "The lot of 'em. Like any of them would know how to get up in the morning if it weren't for you."

Mary smiled over at Jayne.

"Don't you listen one whit to these fools, they don't care either." She rolled her eyes. "You want somethin' more substantial there might be some eggs left in the cooler."

"That's more like it!" Mick turned back to the kitchen.

""Keep holding out on us and we really will think you've forgotten us." Mike took a bite of toast. "So, who's up for an outing?"

"Me! Me!"

"Anyone besides the munchkin?" Mick studiously ignored the little bundle of energy practically about to burst as she tried to get his attention. "Anyone at all?"

"We'll have to cancel, brother."

"No!" Lilly cried. "I'll go! Take me!"

"Geez." Jayne chewed slowly on his remaining toast. "Looks like we might have to go, Kaylee, just to save this one from explodin'."

"I'll pack a lunch." Mary smiled.

"You'll do no such thing." Mick told her. "We got that covered."

"Gonna hit Dad up at the store."

"Betty?" Kaylee reached around Jayne's back with one hand and tapped his shoulder, as he turned, she stole the remaining protein. "You comin'?"

"I think I'll stay here, me an' Ivy'll help Ma with the rest of the clean up from last night."

"You want help?" She asked.

"You kids go." Mary ordered. "There's not much to do. We got it."

"Well." Joe announced as he stood up. "The town still needs lookin' after, so's I gotta go in. Not everyone gets days off when they want it."

"He's the Sheriff." Kaylee boasted, grinning at Jayne as she snapped the protein in two with her teeth. "Does a fine job of it, too."

He pretended to glare at her.

"'Cept when there's someone stealin' right under his nose."

"What?" Joe widened his eyes innocence. "I saw nothing."

"Good job, Sheriff." Jayne nodded. "You're doin' a right spectacular job."

"Your Pa's already gone into work, too." Mary added as she picked up the empty plate in front of Kaylee. "So it looks like it's just the four of you."

"Grandma!"

"Five." She amended with a wink to the child.

***

He waited in the front yard. It had been decided, with much assurances to Kaylee that he would be left mostly free of all forms of torment and teasing, that Jayne would go into town with Mike, collect the aforementioned lunches and meet the rest of the group at the pond.

It was warm enough that he could feel the sun on his arms and he looked forward to swimming. It had been a long time since he'd been anywhere close to a body of water he'd so much as dip his toe into, let alone immerse his whole self in.

There was a large tree in the yard, Kaylee had pointed it out to him when they'd first arrived. She'd called it a somethin' or other. Jayne had never spent a lot of time remembering all the proper names for plants and things, when the word 'tree' was good enough.

He could imagine it being a perfect spot for three younguns. Especially mischievous ones as he imagined Kaylee and the twins'd been.

His hand ran up the bark, fingers testing its sturdiness. It would hold, too, perfect sorta tree for hangin' a swing off. His eyes searched the over hanging branches and he smiled as he saw the obvious break in one of them, the surrounding area worn smooth with rope.

Divots in the wood caught his attention and he smiled even wider when he saw the carvings. Girl hadn't changed a bit. Jayne assumed it had been her with a knife, whittlin' away.

'Cause Mick and Mike just didn't seem the type to spend their time addin' butterflies an' flowers.

There were two sets of MMs, a KWL and an SM. He tried hard to remember if there'd been anyone at the dinner the night before that began with S, but all the names were a blur. His eyes kept going up and, almost hidden, far above the rest, KWL and SM were carved again.

Inside a little heart.

"Sorry." Mike came out of the house. "Ma just wanted me to give a list to our Dad."

"Your Dad work in town, too, huh?" Jayne turned away from the three without looking back and fell into step beside the man.

"Yeah, he runs the Catch 'n' Grab." Off Jayne's look, he continued. "It's a general store. Sells most of what people need, bits of everything, lots of nothing."

"Ah." Jayne nodded. "One of those."

"Yup, one of those." Mike set a quick pace as he walked. "You always carry around so many guns?"

A quick look showed Jayne that his holster seemed a little overdressed compared to Mike's complete bare handedness. It weren't natural, man walkin' around with no weapon, not one at all.

"Among strangers I do."

He said it without thinking, but Mike just laughed. Jayne figured he was gonna try and make one of these guys angry, just once, before he left. Just to see if it could be done.

"Guess there's no people stranger'n us, I s'pose."

"No." Jayne slid one of his smaller guns out of its nesting place. "You're all good. I like all of ya. Here, wanna look?"

Mike tried to deny it, tried to look disinterested, but failed miserably. The way he kept sliding his eyes down to the gun, away and then back again, told Jayne how interested he was. A little temptation never failed to loosed a man's tongue and, given the circumstances, Jayne figured his usual trick of booze and/or whores wouldn't have the same kick.

"So that's your job, huh?" Mike turned the weapon over and over in his hands. "Just shootin' people?"

Jayne snorted.

"Well, it's more like my job is to prevent situations in which people have to be shot." Gorram, but that boy made him nervous, the way he twisted the thing around. It was a good thing it was unloaded. "You'd be surprised what bein' big and lookin' mean will do to people."

They kept walking.

"But, yeah, sometimes I shoot people. People as deserve it. I protect, I track, I threaten."

Mike narrowed his eyes and took aim at a bunch of trees. Jayne watched with one brow raised. Man's arms were all wrong, all loose and slack, if the gun were loaded and he pulled the trigger, it'd send shockwaves up through his shoulders. Even a small gun like that. An' that was only if he didn't drop the thing first.

"Sounds like fun."

"Then I'm tellin' it wrong."

Mike gave an amused little sound before handing it back.

"Me an' Mick, we help out at Mr. Frye's shop when there's work to be had there, or Dad's shop, we do whatever else needs doin' around here. People need their fences fixed, or houses painted or whatever, they come to us. It keeps us busy enough."

Jayne sensed there was a sigh coming and he wasn't disappointed.

"It's just, you know, a little tedious sometimes. Nothin' exciting happens. Worst thing ever happened to us, old Nelson's horse got loose one day and Mick broke his foot catchin' it."

"That's your problem, then?" Jayne pointed off to the side. "You go stand over there an' I'll shoot you good an' proper. Don't worry, I'll aim for somethin' soft like a hand or a foot. It's worth lotsa laughs."

"You been shot a lot, huh?"

He gave another snort.

"Hell, it'd be quicker to list the times I weren't shot. Life in the black ain't easy, hell, even Kaylee been shot once."

"What?" Mike turned around, his face serious. "She was shot?"

"Yup." He made his voice all casual like. "In the belly. Man who did it didn't get too far. Made sure he was a body right quick. 'Course, not quick enough, the others stopped me killin' him too quick, bein' a fed and all."

"Kaylee was shot by a fed? What'd the hospital say?"

Okay, Jayne had to come up with somethin' other than snorting if this kid was gonna keep sayin' stupid stuff like this.

"Weren't no hospital. Didn't you hear? Man who shot her was a fed. Lucky we had a doctor on board, still do as a matter of fact, s'right handy sometimes. Even as prissy and fanciful as he is. Patched her up real good."

"Wait, you got a doctor on your crew, a fancy man doctor and Kaylee bought you home to meet her folk?" This time it was Mike who snorted. "Guess she really has changed."

Jayne figured he needed to get these boys alone more often, if they was this easy to work over.

"What's that s'posed to mean?"

"Oh, it just, when she was younger, Kaylee had a thing for chasin' the fancy boys who passed through. The real crisp ones whose school cost alone'd keep us all fed for a year." Mike sighed. "Her parents were right scared one'd snatch her up and take her away, that they'd never hear from her again."

"Yeah, like Kaylee'd ever stop talkin' to her folk."

"You been off planet a while, I can tell." Mike sent a sideways glance at him. "It happens all the time, man comes through and smiles all handsome and afore you know it, there's a girl gone who never comes home. An' no one can blame her, really, takin' her chances and gettin' away when she can."

They were getting close to the town now, Jayne remembered this part of the walk. He had to hurry the conversation along if he wanted to learn anything new, but Mike seemed set to keep talkin'.

"A'course, Kaylee deserves some rich boy who can give her lots of pretty things, but the sort she chased, well, they was the wrong sort. Boys who'd look down their noses at all the dust this planet left on their rich, fanciful suits."

He gestured towards one of the streets and Jayne turned.

"Her Pa and her had a fight about it once, real loud and yellin' and everything. It even made Ma cry." There was another sigh. "'Course, she's as stubborn as a mule and that only made her do the complete opposite, just to spite him. She started chasin' the real dumb ones, boys who couldn't find their ass with a map, you know? The ones who'd pass through, not on their way to somethin' better, but because they just didn't know enough to stay where they were."

Jayne remembered the story Mal told about their first mechanic, name of Bester, and he believed it.

"You though." Mike slapped him on the shoulder. "You couldn't've made Ma and Mr. Frye happier if you tried."

***

"Go."

Kaylee answered the question before it was even asked and they were left in the dust of a nine year old gone off to join a group of other kids playing by the edge of the pond.

She dumped the bags she was holding and fished out the blanket.

"How are things 'round here, really?"

Mick eyed her warily.

"Good. It really is good here right now." Without asking, he grabbed the other end of the blanket and they stretched it out between them. "You know, some of us can actually take care of ourselves when you're not here. We cut the others off quick, they weigh us down."

She gave him a wry smile as she sat down, drew her knees up and hugged her legs.

"Mike's good?"

"Yeah." They shared a smile. "You know he's sweet on that Perkins girl. She's just about comin' around to his way of thinking, too. I figure he ever gets his act into gear and decide what he wants to do, they'll both be makin' an announcement."

Kaylee gave him a puzzled look.

"I thought you were both happy doin' odd jobs, workin' here and there wherever you wanted."

"I am." He gave her a look which told her she should have known. "You know me, I'm happier floating. Mike, he just does it 'cause I do it. He don't really like it."

"He still follow Joe around?" She asked. "Maybe I'll talk to him, see if there's an opening in the law 'round here."

"He'll like that." Mick gave a sad smile. "Marie probably would, too. She's this close to forcin' him into a job with her daddy."

"Surprised to hear Billy Wu got hitched." Oh, so casually. "There was a time I thought you an' Jai-Anne were gonna be a match."

He collapsed onto the blanket next to her.

"Yeah, well, there was a time we all thought things." She turned to frown at him, but he picked up the conversation before she could say anything. "Guess she just got tired of waiting."

Kaylee sighed.

"Why'd you make her wait, then?"

"Oh, no." He admonished. "You don't get to do that, you don't get to leave and then come back full of imperial words of wisdom."

She kept watching him and he looked down at his hands.

"Maybe I wasn't tired of waiting, yet." There was a crack and he opened his palm to let the remains of a twig fall loose. "Can't blame a boy for trying, huh?"

They sat in silence and Kaylee stared out to the water, watching children jumping in and out of it, swinging off ropes and yelling. It hadn't been that long since she was one of them, since they all were.

"You look good, though." Mick said eventually. "You look real happy."

"Yeah." She let herself smile. "Serenity's a real good ship, prettiest thing you ever saw. She keeps me busy. An' the crew's nicer than I coulda hoped for. Closest thing to family I got outside of this place."

The feel of his eyes boring into her made her squirm a little.

"That wasn't what I meant, Kay."

"I know what you meant."

Pretending for her folk and puttin' on a show for the whole town'd been easy. This, one on one with someone she'd never been able to lie to, who'd always called her out on her bullshit, this was harder.

"You look me in the eye." He challenged her like she knew he would. "Look me in the eye, Kay, tell me he makes you happy an' I'll accept that."

"Jayne's a good man." Straight into his eye without even a flinch. "He keeps surprising me all the time with how happy I can be with him. You got no idea."

***

"So you're the man they told me about?"

Jayne smiled and nodded at the man behind the counter, silently wishing Mike would just hurry up and finish whatever he was doing out the back.

"Name's Jayne."

"I know your name, genius. Ain't a person on this here rock don't know it." Jayne was fairly sure the expression on the man's face was supposed to be a smile, but it still gave him the creeps. "My boys here tell me you're a good sort."

"I hope so, Mr. Matthews."

He wasn't sure how, but he felt he was bein' tested more here than when he'd met Frank the day before.

"I s'pose you think I got some warnin' up my sleeve, somethin' about not hurtin' that girl one whit." He sniffed. "But I ain't gonna give it to you. Know why?"

Jayne shook his head.

"You just gotta look around. That girl's got about fifty big brothers on this planet willin' to tear you a new one you even look cross eyed at her. And that's only what'll happen after the Frye's get through with you. There won't be anythin' left for me to deal with."

Somehow, Jayne didn't doubt the truth of that statement.

"Kaywinnit Frye's as good as my own daughter. Has been since she was born and my boys took her in. Mick and Mike, they're like brothers to her now, but that don't change nothin'."

"I think I understand that." Jayne shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his eyes glancing to the door which Mike had gone through.

"Yeah." Mr. Matthews agreed. "I think you do. Just you remember it."

***

Kaylee lay back on the blanket and let the heat of the sun make her drowsy. It felt strange, good, but strange not to have to do anything. She felt for sure she should be off checkin' some engine or part or something. As it was, she kept an eye on Lilly splashin' about with her friends, but that was it.

Mick had gone off talkin' to someone and she left him to it. It didn't surprise her. Where Mike would go wherever there was work, Mick was the one who got up and was forever makin' contacts and keepin' avenues open and the offers comin' in.

That hadn't changed one bit.

"You ain't gone in, yet?"

She sat up and opened her eyes.

"Jayne!" A smile. "I was waitin' for you guys."

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Mick watching them from amid his circle of friends. Kaylee got to her feet and made a show of putting her arms around Jayne's neck and kissing his cheek. His hands came up to sit on her waist.

"We have all the makin's of a lunch." Mike said, happily unaware of the confused look that passed over Jayne's face. "Brought fresh to your side by us manly men."

"Soon." Kaylee turned to face him, but Jayne didn't let go of her waist and she found herself pressed up against his front. "Lilly's still off playin'."

"Got nothin' to do then." Jayne said casually. It was the casual that made her take note. "'cept, maybe, go swimming!"

"Jayne!" Kaylee squealed as she found herself lifted up off the ground and hoisted through the air. "Put me down! Don't!"

She heard his feet hit the water and managed to close her eyes before she was dumped, unceremoniously, into the water.

Jayne chuckled as she came up spluttering and, seconds later, he told himself he was gonna have to learn the difference between her 'I'm glaring 'cause I'm amused' glare and her 'you better run, you hundan, you better run fast' glare.

As she lunged at him, catching his arms and dragging him into the water with her, Jayne realized he hadn't exactly thought it through. 'Cause while she was wearin' shorts and a tee shirt, ready for it, he was still in his long pants and boots. The walk back to the house was gonna be hell.

Ah, screw it.

He jumped over to her, lifting her up again and letting her fall into the water, twisting out of her way when she sprayed him with a wall of the stuff. Her hands landed on his back and he stumbled forward. Her body fell with him and he found them in deeper water.

His foot found the ground first and he pushed himself up to a standing position, he didn't see her, but he felt the thrash of water behind him and heard a little gasp of air.

Without thinking, he turned, grabbed her waist and pulled her to him to settle them both. He was fairly sure, given the surprised look on her face, that she hadn't thought about it either as her legs wrapped around him.

"You got my boots wet." He frowned, breathing hard.

"Hey, you got 'em wet yourself." She smiled, also trying to catch her breath. "I just got the rest of you."

The water stilled around them and neither of them moved.

"Kaylee?"

He just wanted to ask if she was alright, but it came out sounding more like a plea. Not that it mattered much when her hands came up to grab the sides of his face and pull him in.

The water had stopped being so chill against his skin, but he could still feel the heat of her in his hands. Jayne slid them up her waist, gripping harder and opened his mouth as her tongue pushed in.

They broke apart and he looked at her. She was breathing hard, still, and her mouth was hanging open. Her tee shirt was clinging tight to her body and he tried not to see exactly what it was clinging to.

"You think they're still watching?" She panted.

"Huh?" He blinked. How the hell was he supposed to know? "Oh, yeah, maybe."

"Good."

And she pushed herself even closer to him as she kissed him hard.

***

It was supposed to be easier. Kaylee was sure of it. Here she was, lying on a blanket, picking at the remains of a good meal, after a morning of swimming, the sun warming her skin and not a care in the world. Should have been easy.

But no. She had to be lying next to a ship mate of hers that she was just pretending to be in a relationship with, every now and again leaning her head on his arm or letting him run a hand down her side. Only thing was, sometimes she started to believe the lies they were putting out there.

Like before, when she'd kissed him. Kaylee hadn't been pretending then, hadn't even thought of who was watching as she felt him all strong between her legs, large hands holding her tight and his mouth whispering her name.

And Jayne may have been good at some things, but Kaylee was damn sure he wasn't that fine an actor. He'd felt something, too. She knew it. It made it all the harder to keep putting on the play for everyone else. Made it harder to draw the line of what was real and what wasn't.

"Lee?" A hand appeared in front of her face and clicked. "Where'd you go to?"

"What?" She blinked, slowly coming back to life. "Sorry, you say something?"

"Only for the last half hour." Mike laughed. "I asked if you wanted to come back out again?"

"Forget it." Teased Mick. "She's gone, full up and drowsed. You had to give her food."

"Better than the alternative." Mike grinned. "You know how cranky she gets if you don't feed her."

"Well, we're goin' out for a bit." Mick announced. "You two join us later, if you want."

"Mmm." She let her eyes close slowly, before snapping them open again. "Where's Lilly?"

"Over yonder." Mike pointed. "Seems the girls have taken it into their heads to torment the boys and are currently hiding."

"She's fine." Mick assured her. "You saw her eat, as long as we don't forget to take her home later, it's all good."

She watched them walk towards the water's edge, smiling at their antics just before they hit water. They were tall and skinny, but she knew how deceptive that was, her eyes knew the line of their muscles.

That line of thinking was shut down fast, something she'd gotten used to doing. Things might have been different once, but not now and there was nothing she could do to change that, or Mick for that matter. No matter how much his heart was in the right place.

It was time to find out why her not particularly real, but closer than she'd had in a good long while, boyfriend had been so quiet.

"Jayne?" She rolled onto her stomach and had to stop herself from reaching out when she saw him lying there with his eyes closed and his mouth hanging open slightly. "Jayne, you awake?"

"Mmm?"

"Jayne?" She tapped on his chest and saw his eyes flutter. "What are we doing?"

"Sleeping." He grunted. "Or tryin' to, now shush."

"I mean." She propped herself up on her elbows. "Do you think we can keep doin' this until next week?"

"I ain't complainin'." The smile left his face and he opened his right eye to look at her. "Why? Are you complaining?"

Maybe Jayne wasn’t that good an actor, then again, did it really mean anything that he’d gotten excited when she’d been all pressed up against him? Or did it just mean she was all pressed up against him?

"No." She said it softly. "Just confused."

***

"Goodness!" Mary exclaimed when they trudged into sight. "Look at you!"

Jayne leant forward slightly with the weight of Lilly sprawled across his back, she'd gotten tired halfway home and had fallen asleep not long after he'd hoisted her up. The other three lugged the bags between them.

Just as he'd expected, his boots were rubbing his feet raw.

"Was a good day, Ma." Kaylee kissed her on the cheek and her face was slack, Jayne could see how tired she was. "How were things here?"

"We managed." She clucked over the twins as they heaped more bags onto the porch. "All your things are wet."

"Yeah." Mick agreed. "That's what happens when you go swimming."

"Oh ha." She pretended to frown. "Well, you boys can light a fire to dry everything out, including yourselves. I won't have any of you dragging wet into the house and getting Betty or Ivy sick."

"Yes, Ma." Mike smiled and also kissed her cheek. "As you say."

"And here I was." Mary chuckled as she reached up to take Lilly from Jayne. "Thinkin' my days of lookin' after these three were over."

"It'll be fun." Kaylee yawned at him. "We'll eat outdoors again, by a real fire."

"Yeah."

Jayne was watching Mary carry the little girl away, noticing that the twins had already gone off to do her bidding. It was just him and Kaylee again and he suddenly didn't know what to say.

***

"Ma?"

He stood in the doorway and looked in, the room was nearly glowing with the small light as he walked in from the outside dark. She looked up from the table and he saw she was hunched over some knitting.

"Jayne, what is it?"

"You got any blankets? Dry ones?" He gestured outside. "It's gonna start getting' cold soon an' I thought Kaylee..."

The frown was instantaneous.

"She's alright, isn't she?"

"Yeah." He said firmly. "'Course she is, she's just got spoiled on Serenity, is all. Used to temperature controlled air all day an' night. Don't think she remembers how cold it can get planet side."

"Well." She smiled as she stood up and disappeared into a closet. "I'll see what I can do."

“Thanks.”

She appeared moments later and handed him a blanket.

“You know, Jayne, I really like you.” She patted his arm. “You’re a good man, I see it. I think you’re good for her.”

He didn’t know what to say to that, so he nodded his thanks and left her to her knitting.

The others were still chatting by the fire, their faces flickered with the light of the flames and he watched them for a second. They seemed so comfortable with each other, it was something he hadn’t had since he’d been a young boy.

“Here.” He settled himself down behind Kaylee, wrapping the blanket around both of them. “Snuggle up.”

She bent her head back and smiled at him. Jayne bit his lip. Her eyes shone and he tried to tell himself that he was imagining it, that he’d been imagining it before and that it didn’t mean anything.

It was all a show for everyone. They were just doing very well. So well that it felt comfortable to have her leaning back into him, to have his arms wrapped around her waist and his legs cradling her on either side.

“Hey Mike.” Her voice was thick and drowsy and he knew she was well past tired. “You remember the time we dared you to spend the night in the old mine with nothin’ but a few matches?”

“Yeah.” He frowned. “You all told me it was haunted.”

Joe chuckled from his space across the fire where he and Betty were sitting, with a sleeping Lilly next to them.

“He was nothin’ but a scaredy cat.” Kaylee turned her head to whisper loudly back at Jayne, shifting against him as she did. “An’ we all sat outside the mine with torches and waited.”

Jayne suddenly had to sit up very straight.

“So’s here we are, just sittin’ outside in the dark, tellin’ stories and waitin’ for the sun to come up, when all of a sudden, their daddy comes stormin’ up and it’s just Mick an’ me sittin’ there all cozy.”

She shifted again and Jayne held his breath. There weren’t no way in hell she didn’t know what she was doin’.

“An’ he starts yellin’ ‘bout how we’re supposed to be at home and what’re we doin’ havin’ secret meetings and how we’re too young to start all this. When all of a sudden, this screeching starts comin’ from the mine.”

Jayne flattened his hand on her stomach and pulled her close, giving her no room to move under the blanket. Time for her to taste her own medicine.

“I wasn’t screeching.” Mike added. “Thank you. I was roaring.”

“He was screeching.” Mick confirmed.

“An’ he don’t even stop when he gets out, just tears right past us and up the hill back home.” She paused when Jayne’s hand started to move. “Mr. Matthews just stands there, lookin’ at us for a second, then storms off without sayin’ nothin’.”

“If I recall.” Joe added. “You boys weren’t allowed out for near on a month after that.”

“Yeah.” Mick agreed cheerfully. “Didn’t stop us, though.”

Kaylee gasped when Jayne cupped her left breast.

“Jayne!”

“What?” Mike asked, looking over. “What about him?”

“Um.” She was blushing, Jayne could see the color ring all the way around her neck. “He’s a hero. Honest to goodness real life folk hero.”

“Really?” Betty asked.

“Yup.” Jayne added happily as he felt Kaylee’s breath deepen. “Got me a song an’ everything.”

“Where are you a hero?” Mick looked over. “I ain’t never heard of you before.”

“Canton.” Kaylee gritted it out between her teeth as Jayne felt her nipple pebble under his fingers. “Planet called Canton, where they make all the clay.”

Everybody was watching them now, listening to them talk and Jayne tweaked her nipple gently, daring her to move.

“You’re a clay hero?” Joe looked confused and Jayne didn’t really blame him. “With a song?”

“They got slaves of a kind there, the mudders.” He explained with a shrug, letting the movement jerk his hand. “An’ I was involved in a job there.”

“A heist.” Kaylee hissed.

“A job.” Jayne continued. “It went badly, but the Mayor, right hundan of a man he was, too, his money gets dumped all over mudder central.”

“He’s got a statue.” Kaylee said with a straight face.

“Yeah.” Jayne agreed cheerily and squeezed. “Thing’s as hard as a rock.”

From the open door of the house, the soft sound of Ivy crying could he heard.

“Guess that’s me.” Betty sighed as she stood up. “Girl needs feeding. You’ll bring Lilly in?”

“’Course.” Joe bent over the sleeping form of his daughter and lifted her into his arms, following Betty into the house. “Goodnight all.”

“Night.” They all chorused back.

“That’s our cue as well.” Mick announced as he stood up.

“We’ve got a job tomorrow, can’t get out of.” Mike explained. “Won’t look good if we sleep in.”

“You both right here?” Mick asked.

“Yeah, we’re good.” Kaylee smiled. “See you tomorrow night?”

“Try and keep us away.” Mike agreed.

They said their goodbyes and began hiking across the fields to the small house in the distance. When they were a fair way away, Jayne braced himself as Kaylee spun around and pushed him over.

***

“So, what do ya think?” Mick asked.

“Yeah.” They turned around to see the two figures standing up and facing each other next to the fire. “He was totally going for it under that blanket.”

“She looks like she’s yelling.”

“A lot.” Mike agreed. “And that gesture either means he’s really sorry or he’s going to buy her a dog.”

“Wait for it… wait for it.” Mick counted out the seconds. “And… there you go! Wham, punch in the chest.”

Mike winced.

“That almost looked like it hurt him.”

“Will she stay? Or will she…” Mick narrated. “Oh, look… there she goes. Into the house.”

“And what’s our hero doing?” Mike asked. “Don’t stop to put out the fire! You’re wasting time.”

“And the door is closed!” Mick crowed. “He’s locked out for the night.”

“With no fire to keep him warm.” Mike sighed dramatically. “At least she threw the blanket back out for him.”

They turned back to their house and kept walking.

“So.” Mick asked. “How long do you think ‘til Ma lets him in?”

***

More to come...

COMMENTS

Friday, December 23, 2005 2:30 AM

BOOKADDICT


I love it! I can't wait to see where it's going!
Who's SM? Hope to find out soon.

Friday, December 23, 2005 2:34 AM

HUMBUG


I'm loving this story, Jacqui!!

Jayne & Kaylee are just perfect for one another. The question is how long will it take them to work out that it's not just an act they're putting on......

Get the next part out as soon as you can!! I can hardly wait!!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2005 2:44 AM

CANTONHEROINE


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this story.
Except for the fact that Kaylee seems to have her priorities all wrong. Hell, don't get mad, girl, just GET SOME! ;P
(Or even better - give some)*snort*
I hope she gets Jayne for Xmas, if not, I'll take him.
More soon, please.

Friday, December 23, 2005 5:02 AM

CHESHIRE


Well now I'm trying to picture a gesture that can mean both "I'm really sorry," and, "I'm going to buy you a dog!" Great character development in this.

Friday, December 23, 2005 5:29 AM

RINNYPJ


SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

Naughty Jayne! You're getting coal for Christmas.

Or maybe Kaylee. All depends on how well you work an apology.

*giggle*

I ADORE!

Friday, December 23, 2005 11:15 AM

SEARINGFLESH55


SHINY!!!! Please continue cause it makes me happy and bouncy! Jayne is so swai!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 10:47 AM

BELLONA


was laughing all the way through the fireside conversation...so funny

b

p.s. extremely minor thing here, but jayne is a hero IN canton. canton is a town on higgin's moon


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