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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Jaylee. A rewrite of my earlier fic "Impression". Longer and (hopefully) better.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1787 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Me, I can’t just leave well enough alone. Like our dear Miss Frye, I just had ta tinker with it some, make it run smoother.
A LASTING IMPRESSION
Part One – Masculine Wiles
They didn’t meet straight off.
Kaylee’d stepped down into the cargo bay, just in time to see his back end goin’ out t’wards the kitchen. All she could tell from the glimpse she got was that he weren’t average-sized none.
“Man’s hungry,” the Captain commented, nodding at the doorway. “Ain’t been eaten fit servin’s for a month or more.” There was a pause before he added dryly, “Don’t seem none the worse for it though. Still the biggest, meanest gorram tracker I ever saw.”
Kaylee didn’t much like the sound of that. Big an’ mean weren’t her cup of oolong. She knew there had to be a grain o’ truth to what he said on account that Mal didn’t hardly lie to her, and that he’d specifically been on the lookout for some extra muscle since he got shot up on Whitefall a while back, but she weren’t one to make assumptions ‘bout how someone ought to be took on first appearance.
She reckoned to follow said tracker to see for herself.
He whipped ‘round from starin’ all lost-like at the table when she come in behind, and she gasped like she’d had her breath knocked clean out, her eyes eating him up like she was the one starvin’.
Sweet Buddha, but he was swai. Taller’n her pa and built real solid, the sort her dear ol’ grandmammy would’ve called ‘a strapping lad’. Not that he was laddish in any way. No, this specimen was every inch a man.
Thick muscles rippled and rolled along his tanned arms, stretched out the chest and shoulders of his tight blue T-shirt like they had a life of their own. Her gaze shifted from the breadth of that undulatin’ landscape down a trim middle and long, powerful legs, takin’ in with awe how the gunstrap ‘round his thigh was stretched taut with the strain of holdin’ on. Though, why that spectacle brought to mind memories of Uncle Deak’s prize bull was a mite inexplicable...
He cleared his throat and her wide eyes shot to his face. She made a rapid-shot catalogue of his features; hard jaw and full soft lips, a nose that was straight and button cute. Damn. It weren’t fair on a body, him bein’ so unexpected fine, her respiratory system was near to shuttin’ down altogether.
“Hi,” she squeaked.
“Hey.” They stared at each other for a full five seconds ‘fore he broke contact and scratched at his scruffy dark head. “Uh… So, where ya hidin’ the grub?”
“Oh!” Kaylee pivoted real sharp and dived for the cooler, glad to hide her flamin’ red face. Gladder even for a chance to get her breath back so she’d sound somethin’ more like normal when she spoke again. “Sorry ‘bout that. What’d ya have a mind for? We got all sorts…”
She glanced over her shoulder and caught him tracking the shape of her rear neath her coveralls. She made sure to bobble up and down a little bit ta test the waters, see if he was inclined to take the bait.
He sighed, a great big gusty breath, makin’ all them muscles ripple with the effort. Didn’t look away, though. “Yeah, whatever ya pick’d be okay. I’m easy pleased.”
His voice was the gruff growl of a grizzly bear, deep and low and dangerous. The sound of it pricked at her skin like a homespun knit pullover, made her sweat and itch. To cover that scarifyin’ reaction, she snagged a frozen dinner pack quick as she could and headed for the heatpad.
Mal strolled in, his clever eyes darting back and forth between them. “You all introduced yourselves yet?”
The big man twitched like a guilty boy caught fossicking in a cookie jar. “Well, not in a formal way or nothin’.” He ducked his head some and then gazed back up at her through his lashes like he was shy.
She got struck by his eyes, blue-grey gleamin’ like gunmetal in that fierce handsome face. “Ain’t got ta that part yet,” was all she said. She smiled at the tracker. If he was really as mean as Mal said, weren’t no way his eyes’d be so pretty. “I’m Kaylee.”
“Kaywinnit Lee Frye,” the Captain clarified. “Best little ship’s mechanic in the ‘Verse.”
The big man raised his brows. “That true?”
Kaylee shrugged. “I just fix what’s broke, is all.”
“Huh.” He smiled back at her then, crinklin’ those pretty eyes at the corners and flashin’ a full set of pearly whites. Weren’t no snaggle-toothed pirate leastways, that was a good sign. “Best be keepin’ a close eye on ya then, so’s we don’t all end up floatin’ ‘round the black with our brains leakin’ out our ears.”
Kaylee blinked. Okay, so maybe he was a little rough ‘round his edges. She could work with that. She was good at fixin’ used and worn parts so they ran smooth, most times even better than new.
“Well, can’t say I’ve ever envisaged that possibility.” The Captain paused and sniffed, almost dainty, then squinted at the heatpad. “You makin’ that fare ‘specially crispified for a reason?”
“Oh!” Kaylee reached for the burning pack before she could even think on it an’ the liquified plaz-wrap melted to her fingers like it was tryin’ to make a hermetic seal. “Ow!” She shook her hand all frantic, tryin’ to cool it.
Mal started forward, but he weren’t even a half-step closer before Kaylee found herself pressed back-on to a great muscled chest and bein’ manoeuvred t’wards the sink. She plum forgot all about her burn. Forgot the Captain and the grub, too.
“Ah, hell, why’d ya go do a yu bun duh thing like that for?” the big tracker’s voice rumbled neath her ear. “Git some damp on that pronto. Ain’t no call gettin’ yourself all blistered up.” He surrounded her like a protective wrapper, held her tender and rinsed her hand under the cool stream like it was a delicate china cup, payin’ no heed whatever to the grease stains under her nails. His thumb stroked the inside of her wrist. “Hows’it feel? It hurtin’ ya any?”
“Nah, it’s…” Kaylee swallowed, fightin’ back the urge to shiver. That thumb o’ his was callused from labour, the rough texture makin’ her nerve endings sit up and take notice. Not to mention the oversupply of masculine wiles warmin’ her back. “…It’s g-good, thanks. I’m real good.”
His mouth curved just the smallest bit at her words. “Yeah. I bet y’are,” he murmured.
Kaylee smiled a teeny bit herself. She glanced up, way up, and set her eyes on the line of his stubbly jaw, realizin’ as she did that the top of her head didn’t reach anywhere close to his shoulder.
Oh yeah, he was tall alright. Strong and solid too, not unlike Serenity herself, just perfect for relyin’ on in times of trouble. She liked that, liked it a whole lot.
“Here, put this on it.” Mal’s hand appeared in her front-view of a sudden, a fresh weave dangling from his fingers. He must’ve been clear out to the infirmary ‘n back and they’d never even noticed he’d gone.
Kaylee wanted turn round and smack him for buttin’ in, but the spell was broke all the same and the tracker’s focus shifted back onto the subject of food.
“Ya got forks?” he asked, moving away. “Can’t contend with them ruttin’ choppysticks…”
Kaylee flung out her good hand, latching on to a steel-hard forearm. He stilled, as only a predator can, his eyes dancin’ a rhythm back ‘n forth twixt her hand and her face.
“Never did catch yer name,” she whispered.
He relaxed and grinned, sort of shrewd, like he had the key to the biggest mystery in the whole ‘Verse right there in his pocket.
“Name’s Jayne,” he told her. “Jayne Cobb.”
Part Two – Things That Go Bang in the Night
It was late, and Kaylee’d nigh on entered the land o’ Nod when she heard Jayne Cobb bangin’ ‘round in the neighbouring bunk. He was making a god-awful racket, the like o’ which she’d not heard since Serenity’d popped her main rotary converter.
She got up and pounded on their shared bulkhead with the heel of her hand. “Hey, knock it off in there! Some folks’re tryin’ ta sleep!”
The banging just continued uninterrupted like it had every intention of goin’ on til doomsday. Kaylee climbed out of her bunk and up to the corridor, grumbling all the while. Right when she was about to start pounding on his door, it all came to an abrupt and silent halt. There was a dead calm. Made the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
She dithered a moment, plucking fretfully at the weave on her burned finger. Maybe it weren’t such a good idea, confrontin’ him like this. The Captain had pulled her aside after their earlier meeting and warned her off gettin’ involved. Said the big tracker was like to turn on her, that she couldn’t trust him. He’d been so adamant it almost made her wonder why he’d even bothered to hire Jayne in the first place.
“Ta ma de! Ruttin’ bu zhong yong piece of go se!”
A soft clatter underscored the viciousness in that low growlin’ voice, but it was like he was actually tryin’ to be quiet, like the din he’d been makin’ ain’t already woke everyone up.
Kaylee opened her mouth to yell again, but Mal beat her to it. He was suddenly alongside her on the gangway with his gun drawn, his hair stickin’ out every which way and his face red and angry. She blinked at him, never havin’ seen him so het up.
“Jayne!” he roared at the entryway. “You better not be blowin’ holes in my boat, nor fixin’ on any sabotage equal as dire, you hear me?”
“What?” Jayne’s muffled voice sounded defensive, and maybe just a smidge hurt. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said. “Not while I was still aboard it, leastways. Ain’t partial to havin’ my innards sucked out.”
Kaylee had to grin at that.
Mal shot her a look. It weren’t happy. “Well, you mind informin’ me what it was you were doin’?”
There came that dead calm again.
“Um… nothin’?” he ventured.
“’Nothin’’ don’t sound like the armies o’ darkness come to carry me home.” Mal booted Jayne’s door open and peered down into the breach.
“Hey!” Jayne looked up at them from the bottom of the stair, wide-eyed startled.
Kaylee angled her head so she could see more of him ‘round Mal’s shoulder. Hmm, was that a tattoo? Might be a red dragon, she concluded, hard to tell in the dim light.
“Ya coulda knocked, gorramit.” Jayne was near to pouting. “Thought the idea was this’un was my bunk, my own private bunk.”
“True enough,” Mal said. “But that commotion you’re makin’ ain’t exactly conducive to said privacy, nor to my soundness of mind.”
“Hell.” Jayne scratched at the nape of his neck, an odd air of little boy guilt about him.
Kaylee frowned. She’d noticed it before, that curious dash of artlessness from what was for all intents a hired killer. It jarred some, didn’t fit with what she’d been told.
When he looked back up his face was devoid of any guile. “In earnest, I was just tryin’ to stow my gear, Mal. Didn’t mean ta be so loud.” He glanced away at where his bed lay just out of their view. “Might be I need ta borrow a welder, put some racks in.”
“That’s shiny,” Kaylee said. She bent forward so that her face replaced the Captain’s in Jayne’s line of sight. “I can give you a hand tomorrow if ya want.”
“Oh.” Jayne smiled. “Hey, thanks Kaylee.”
Mal grabbed the rear of her shirt and hauled her upright. He shook his head at her, kinda incredulous, and then propelled her back towards her own bunk. “Go.”
He urged her onward a few more paces. “Get back to bed.”
“Believe my Pa’s still quick ‘n full o’ beans, so who died ‘n made you him?” Kaylee turned, fisted hands on hips, and glared. She was so intent on Mal, she didn’t hardly notice when Jayne surfaced in the corridor behind him.
Mal, however, whirled ‘round so fast he near tripped, his gun-hand flyin’ up to protect himself. “BWAAH!”
Jayne didn’t bat an eyelid; he just reached out and plucked the gun outta Mal’s grasp, easy as you please. He turned it over in his hands, checked the safety, and then sighted along the barrel, targetin’ the little fairy lights round Kaylee’s door one by one. “Nice piece o’ hardware,” he said, solemn as a judge. “Collect it in the war?”
Mal was all befuddled now, tryin’ to conjure how he’d come ta be unarmed. His hands twitched up t’ward surrender, then aborted midway. “Ah… yeah?”
“38 Bull’s dependable enough,” Jayne told him, offering it back. “Watch that autoloader, though. Got a inclination ta get hung up. Like ta shoot yerself in the foot ‘fore ya clear leather.”
“Huh.” The Captain stared down at the returned weapon like he couldn’t quite decipher its existence.
Kaylee was doin’ purt’ near the same to Jayne. The big man hadn’t bothered pullin’ on a shirt, and on account of his disruptive shenanigans in the bunk below his body was now radiant with sweat. His skin fair glowed like one of Inara’s fancy fits, like satin or plush velvet. She itched to touch him, see whether he was both as hard and as soft as he looked.
Jayne absently rubbed a trickling bead of sweat into the skin of his belly. He noticed the little mechanic’s eyes followin’ the motion and moved his fingers down further, slithering along the hairline to the waist of his pants. He toyed with the button there, watching her face for a reaction.
Kaylee swallowed hard and her moonshine bright eyes shot back up to lock on ta his.
Mal cleared his throat. “So… Now this ruckus is done, we should all turn in.” He glanced at Kaylee, then back to Jayne, eyes narrow. “Separately,” he added.
No one moved.
“I mean it,” Mal warned.
“Yes sir, Captain Pushypants,” Kaylee chirruped. She returned Jayne’s wink, added a saucy wave and grin, and then retreated to the safety of her bunk, hips a’swingin’ all the way.
Jayne watched her go, a hungry gleam in his eye matched by the subtle play of his tongue against the edge of his teeth. “Ai ya, but that’s a wealth o’ pretty right there.”
“You don’t touch her.” Mal’s voice was as cold and hard as a tombstone. He poked Jayne in the stomach with the barrel of his gun. “She ain’t for you, Jayne, dong ma? I don’t hold with shipboard romances.”
Jayne’s peered at his poked belly then back up, brows arched. “Ain’t two’ve yours hitched?”
“Well, they ain’t the…” The Captain shrugged off explainin’. “You don’t touch her.”
“Don’t have to be any ro-mance involved, if’n that’s…”
“I gave you an order, Jayne. You want a place on my crew, you best get used to takin’ ‘em.”
Blue eyes got steely. The merc pulled himself tall so’s the few inches he had on the Captain seemed more, all made up of sneer and disdain. “You want to take me on? ‘Cause as I recollect that didn’t exactly work in your favour.” He slapped the barrel of Mal’s 38 aside like a bug, a stark reminder of how easily he’d taken it earlier. “I coulda seen you dead and took this boat for my ownself.”
“Right, and then Kaylee’d miraculously fall into your strong ‘n manful arms.” Mal snorted. “She’d’ve run from you screamin’.”
Jayne was crestfallen. “You sayin’ she don’t like guns?”
“I was goin’ for ‘she don’t like seein’ me shot’, but nope, them either.” Mal opted to embellish a tad, sensing that this may be a means to keep the man in line. “Harbours a path-o-logical fear.”
“Aw, heck. That ain’t right. Body’s got no place bein’ out in the black if they can’t take care theyselves.”
“That’s why she has me,” Mal said. “And Zoë, and Wash. The crew take care of her.”
Jayne stared at the painted sign on Kaylee’s door, all hearts ‘n flowers ‘n little girl frills, and felt torn inside. He didn’t want to squander a choice opportunity, but he also didn’t have much soft in his life and he was of a mind to keep some close, whether he actually got to touch it or not.
“Reckon I could look out for the girl,” he mused aloud, tryin’ to divine some way to work this roadblock to his advantage. “For certain do a better job of it ‘n the rest of you.”
“Great!” The Captain beamed like Jayne was his best friend in whole ‘Verse. He clapped a hand on the big man’s shoulder. “Glad to have you on board. Just don’t be gettin’ more than friendly with the mechanic or I’ll blow you out the airlock. We clear?”
Jayne grunted, his mind still workin’ the possibles.
Friendly and protector-like, huh? He could cope with that.
For a while...
Sunday, January 15, 2006 1:33 AM
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Sunday, January 15, 2006 4:25 AM
Sunday, January 15, 2006 4:33 AM
Sunday, January 15, 2006 5:49 AM
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Monday, January 16, 2006 3:00 AM
Monday, January 16, 2006 6:42 AM
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Tuesday, May 2, 2006 7:16 AM
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