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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Sometimes pieces fit, sometimes they don't and sometimes they can't be put back together. Eighth and final installment for the Joss_100. Jayne and Kaylee.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1484 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Okay, so this is it, no more, finis. End.
I can't believe I wrote 100 of these things and kept it coherent all through. Well, there you go. Now I can continue the million other fics I have.
Thank you for reading.
Disclaimer: Joss owns all. All hail.
Feedback: Comment here or email email@example.com Come on, surely finishing this thing, at 100 prompts, deserves at least a comment?
Note: Don't ask. I'm not telling.
The whole table of prompts I have to follow can be found here. And the previous installments can be found: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.
Prompt 086: Silver.
TIME AND EFFORT.
Something was wrong and Kaylee knew it. Not bad wrong, just different wrong. A little part of her couldn't help think about the way Jayne had been before. So open to her, laid out bare and just so generous with himself. Always giving.
He was just so tight now, all coiled up like he was waiting for the next strike. Like he was wary of her, like she was the one about to attack. It made her edgy and brittle, trying to work around him, trying to make it right for him.
She asked Inara. Not that she was expecting the answer she was looking for. Inara told her that she needed to give it time and patience. Time and patience, that was all fine for Inara, everything Inara did was slow and smooth and perfect. Inara saw her clients for days, sometimes only hours, time often won out over patience, because she didn't need much of it.
Kaylee saw herself dangling on a wire for a very long time trying to wait Jayne out of it. And she'd never been very patient.
She asked Zoe. Zoe told her that they needed to work at it, that any relationship worth having took effort and was the better for it. She didn't want to argue with Zoe on that point, because that just seemed cruel, but Kaylee could have screamed with it. It wasn't as if she hadn't been trying, she'd been trying so hard.
That left Mal. And Mal had laughed, low and amused. Told her she was being silly, that she was looking for trouble when there wasn't any to be had. They were fine, Mal looked her straight in the eye and told her this, there weren't any other couple so stubborn and bull headed as her and Jayne and maybe he hadn't seen it right away, but he saw it now, that they'd work out just to spite everybody else. Then he'd gone off, mumbling to himself about crew members too blind to see what was right in front of 'em.
That only left one option.
Kaylee didn't like to ask River. Not really, it always made her feel just a little bit guilty. It just... it seemed like cheating. Like doing a puzzle and asking someone for help, but knowing that they'd just go ahead and spout out the answers without really letting you do the work yourself.
Kinda like that.
Only, River wasn't much help either.
"Talk to Jayne." Was all River said as she rolled her eyes before Kaylee could even get her first word out. "I told you already."
"Will it be quick?" She sighed. "Everyone else wants me to be patient."
A smile quirked River's face and she looked amused.
"Ooh, hey." Kaylee reached out and took her hand. "That's pretty."
"I thought so."
She let her eyes search the thin little band around River's forefinger, it was pretty. They'd stopped planet side for a little longer than Kaylee had thought they would, she hadn't known Simon or River had gone out, but it wasn't like she'd been paying much attention to anyone else.
It made her happy that River finally got something nice. Maybe Simon was learning after all. There was only so many days out in the black that a girl could look at the same old dresses and hair ties without yearning for a little special something. And River deserved lots of special somethings.
"Better be careful, though." She dropped River's hand, watching it float back down. "That sorta metal will make your skin go green."
Wasn't that just the way, Kaylee thought. Between the two of them, Simon and River probably knew everything there was to know about the entire Universe. At least, the Universe that made up the core planets. Figured that neither of the brilliant geniuses would know about the effects of cheap materials touching their skin.
"Yeah." She frowned, an idea already sparking, and grabbed River's hand again to get a closer look at it. "Don't worry, though, I can fix that."
"Got a sealant in the engine room. C'mon." River let herself be dragged out of the mess. "Won't take much, just some careful, fiddly applications. Probably take more'n one."
"Fiddly?" River echoed. "You mean it will take time? And effort?"
Kaylee stopped and gave her a pointed look.
"Yeah, just like that. Maybe a bit of patience, too. I know what you're doing." She held out her hand and waited, amused. "But I'll still do this for you. Hand it over."
"You came to me." River shrugged, but slid the ring off her finger anyway. "I'm helping."
A shadow passed over the girl's face and Kaylee smiled.
"Don't worry, it'll be fine. The sealant'll probably make it a bit thicker, but you got real tiny fingers so that don't matter, and then you'll be able to wear it all the time without worrying about your skin."
"Was never worried."
"'Till I came along, I guess." Kaylee found a string and threaded the ring onto it. "As long as no one looks too closely at it, it'll look just like the real thing. Better than real."
River's eyes watched carefully as Kaylee lowered it into the small drum of thick, pearly liquid.
"Silver and gold." She whispered.
"Maybe not that good." Kaylee chuckled. "But close. And it'll always be pretty."
Prompt 087: Hero.
THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE.
"It's okay." Kaylee ran a warm hand down his arm. "Really."
"No, it ain't."
"It could happen to anyone."
"Don't happen to me." He knew he was being stubborn and he didn't care. "Not ever. I ain't no boy wet behind the ears an' nowhere else."
"But, Jayne..." She had her soothing voice on, but it wasn't exactly soothing him any. "You were just nervous."
"Nerves ain't got nothing to do with it."
By the way she bit her lip, he could tell she was trying not to laugh. If she laughed, he was just gonna walk away, leave her to her fit of giggles until she could be serious again.
Didn't she have any idea how humiliating this could be?
"Don't blame yourself." At least she was trying to make him feel better. "It wasn't like..."
"I don't." He could still be grumpy about it, though. "I blame you."
"Me?" Her eyes went large and her face went red. "What'd I do?"
"You were all..." He gestured into the air. "With the flailing and the squealing."
"I didn't squeal!" The slow, warm pat down his arm turned into a firm slap. "It's not my fault, it was... it was just so big."
"Yeah and the fuss you was making, it was more scared of you than you were of it."
"For the last time." She glared. "I wasn't scared. It was just... it was messy."
Her nose crinkled up at that last part.
"Yeah." He grinned. "It was, wasn't it?"
Zoe walked past them and glared.
"You got it in my hair, Jayne."
"Yes." River wasn't above glaring, either. "And my shoe."
"Don't know what you're all grumblin' for." He sighed. "I'm the one wasted precious ammo from Vera."
"It was very brave." Kaylee grinned. "Thank you."
Jayne grinned back.
"Yeah." Mal strode up and sighed, batting his eye lashes. "He's my hero."
"Oh, you shush, Cap'n." Kaylee wrapped her arms up around his and held on tight as she poked out her tongue at Mal. "It was very brave."
"Kaylee." Mal looked at them both and he could see the patience wearing thin. "He shot a bird. A poor, innocent, little bitty bird."
"Into little bitty pieces." River scuffed her shoe in the dirt.
"With a semi automatic." Zoe added as she delicately picked something Jayne wasn't gonna look too closely at out of her hair. "What's heroic is the amount of time I'm going to spend washing this."
"Well." Kaylee humphed and pulled him closer. "The bird attacked me, first."
Hell, it was worth staying here for all the ribbing if it meant Kaylee got all huffy and defensive over him. She was cute like that, hell, she was cute all the time, but especially like that.
"I told ya all, already." He pretended to glare. "I didn't know it was a gorram bird when it first came at you."
Prompt 088: Villain.
I'M GOING TO TURN THIS SHIP AROUND...
Kaylee grabbed the ear piece and let it dangle from her fingers.
"C'm here." Jayne glared. "Give it."
"No." She poked her tongue out and held it further out of his reach. "Make me."
"Oh, I'll make you, alright." His eyes glittered as he used one arm to pin her waist down, reaching over her body with his bulk as his other arm stretched out past her. "This isn't a game."
"Hey." She squirmed, stomach down, into the dirt. "Let me go."
"Make me." He countered, copying her tone exactly as he wrestled her fingers.
"Right here?" Now, that was a low down, dirty trick, using that voice, and she was fairly certain that wasn't in the rule book, but a girl had to do what a girl had to do. "Out in the open?"
"Gorram it." He stilled with a little groan and she grinned, spinning around to lie on her back under him. "Kaylee, that ain't fair."
"Sure it is." She pulled her hand in close to her chest, wrapping the ear piece up into her fingers and holding it close. "An' we both know it."
"Like that is it?" He challenged and that was a dark, dangerous glint in his eye. "Fine."
His fingers were strong and nimble and they knew exactly where to prod and poke to leave her squealing and twisting away from him.
"Stop it!" Feet scrambling in the dirt, trying to push her back. "Jayne! Stop it! Tickling is cheating!"
"Ain't no cheating out here." He grinned, face glowing with success. "An' we both know it."
"You're not going..." Her face screwed up with concentration as her right hand snuck out from his reach. "... to win."
The sharp sound of skin hitting skin made him stop and slowly, slow enough for her to notice the bright red shape of her hand making its appearance on the back of his shoulder and form a mask of innocence and concern, Jayne turned away to look.
"Sorry." She said it quickly, but they both knew it mean nothing as she smiled guiltily.
"How many times I tell you?" He pretended to glare. "Stop hittin' me."
He slapped her arm.
"Ow!" She pouted and slapped him back.
"Fine." He did it again.
"Ow!" Kaylee glared. "Cap'n! Jayne hit me!"
"You don't stop it right now an' I'm gonna hit both of you!" The small, tinny voice sounded through the ear piece in her hand. "Now, bi zuie and let me make this contact."
"You don't gotta be so grumpy." She sulked. "You big meanie."
"Yeah Mal." Jayne's eyes gleamed as they both tried not to laugh. "Lighten up a bit."
"Lighten...? I'm stuck out here without my first mate 'cause she's gotta go back to the ship and clean up." He'd started his rant now and they rolled their eyes at each other. "I been listenin' to you squabblin' like kids for the better part of an hour an' if you make me miss this deal 'cause you can't behave I'm gonna..."
"Excuse me?" A second voice came through. "You Malcolm Reynolds? 'Cause I could come back if you need some time..."
Kaylee looked at Jayne and they both burst out laughing.
Prompt 089: Soul.
Ai ya, but he was a stupid fool. Jayne wondered how he had ever thought leaving the ship and leaving this girl was the best thing to do. Musta been feverish in the head, yeah, that was it.
He hooked his finger into the empty belt loop of her coverall and dragged her closer to him. Her body bent slightly, hip first, feet and head following after as she let herself be backed against the wall.
"Mm." Her response, a soft, thick sound coming honey sweet from her throat, made him shiver. "G'night."
There weren't no way in the 'Verse he could stop himself from leaning down to kiss those lips, to feel her breath slide out over his, to feel her mouth part open and suck him in.
"So, um...?" He let his eyes drift from her face to the colored plaque of her door. "You wanna, maybe...?"
"Mm?" Her face grew red and her eyes lit up, like she knew what he was gonna ask, but wanted to tease him with it first.
"You wanna...?" He breathed in and let it out in one long gasp. "Maybecomeintomybunktonightbutonlyifyouwanna?"
"Jayne." Her lips curled up, but her eyebrows lowered. "I been waitin' days for you to ask me that."
God, it was like she was tellin' him off, but she could even make that sound sexy. He wasn't sure how they made it into his bunk and closed the door, but they did.
"Kaylee?" The way she turned to look at him, mouth all breathless and open, waiting for him and her eyes questioning, it made him want to do it properly. "I just, I wanted to say I was sorry."
"You don't." A frown teased the edges of her mouth. "You don't gotta say that, Jayne. There ain't nothin' for you to be sorry about."
"Yeah, there is." His hands twisted into themselves to stop them reaching out to her. "I acted like a dick an' you didn't deserve that. You didn't do nothin' to make me angry like I got."
"It's okay." Her eyes got all shiny wet and gorram, but he hadn't wanted that. "You don't have to..."
"But maybe I should." He insisted. "I trust you, Kaylee, I believe everythin' you say, don't ever think I don't. An' I know you didn't want any of that to happen an' I'm sorry for makin' you feel bad about Simon an' about what happened after."
"Shh." She stood up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his lips, all button mouth and chaste. "I know. Okay? I know."
He could feel it in the way she held on to him, hands on the side of his chest, fingers curving around his ribs and resting there. In the way she rocked forward on the balls of her feet so that her whole body leaned in toward him. In the way that her eyes looked up at him like there weren't nothin' else to look at.
Gorram, but he was a stupid sonuvabitch and despite his seemingly best efforts to the contrary, she was still here.
Prompt 090: Food.
"It's on the ceiling."
Jayne smiled, he couldn't help it, smiled down at the woman in his arms and ran a hand over her hair, sweeping stray strands of it behind her ears and off her face.
"What?" He whispered it low, mouth so close to her ear he could bite it if he wanted. "What's up there?"
Her eyelids crinkled.
"You know." She twisted, rolling over so that she was facing him. "You're not listening."
He'd watched her for a long time, he wasn't too proud to admit it, had kept an eye on her long before the doc ever came aboard. He'd thought he knew most, if not all, the things to know about her. But he never would've picked her for talking in her sleep.
"'Course, I'm listening." He answered. "Look, there it is. Right up there."
Wasn't just talking, either. Girl had full conversations with him sometimes. 'Course, she never remembered them when she woke up and that was a whole different sorta fun. 'Cause sometimes she got downright argumentative in her sleep and left him all ornery and grumpy and she'd wake up cheerful as ever.
She obviously didn't feel like arguing, just a soft rambling about something in the ceiling panel and, if he guessed right, it'd probably turn out to be some kind of machinery she had in the back of her mind that needed checking.
"You know I don't like beef stock."
Then again, sometimes she didn't make any sense that he could find. And it just made him love her more.
"Kaylee." He made his voice a little louder. "Kaylee?"
Her face crumpled and he wanted to kiss it all over, but that would lead to a whole different set of distractions. His stomach clenched firmly against that idea.
"C'mon." He gave her a small squeeze and blew air across her nose. "Time to get up. I'm hungry."
"Mm." Her whole body tightened and then lengthened out in a stretch and her face smoothed out. "No."
She was definitely awake.
"No?" He frowned. "What do you mean, no?"
It wasn't like Kaylee to miss meals.
"Not hungry." She murmured as she nestled in closer to him. "Let's stay here."
"Man's gotta eat, Kaylee." 'Course, said man also wasn't against the warm body rippling against his, or the hand that drew lazy circles against his belly. "So do you. Let's get breakfast while it's still there to get."
The small, lazy grin on her face told him he was losing this argument fast.
"There'll be food later."
"Yeah, but..." He couldn't stop the whine entering his voice. "I'm hungry now."
"Jayne." A long, slow drawl. She still hadn't opened her eyes and he knew the moment she did he'd be lost. "So am I."
"Then let's..." Her hands gripped his sides and rolled him onto his back so she could drape herself all over him. "Oh."
Prompt 091: Visions.
She found him sitting alone on the bridge, feet propped up on the console, staring out into the black. Wasn't often that he was here by himself, or that she caught him when he was. Not anymore. She took her place in the copilot's chair.
"You not sleeping, Kaylee?"
The tone of his voice was enough to clue her into the fact her was asking generally and not actually looking for specific details about her sleeping arrangements.
"Just thinkin' some, is all."
She felt his gaze, slow and piercing.
"Things still tetchy 'tween you and Jayne?" He sat up a bit straighter. "'Cause I swear, he can be dense sometimes, but..."
"We're fine." She smiled and reached out to trail a hand over the controls in front of her. "I just been thinkin' about Serenity and all of us on her, how we got here and..."
"Oh." Just a hint of amusement in his voice, mixed in with the concern. "Just the small things, then?"
She nodded slowly.
"Yeah." He was frowning when she finally looked over at him. "What made you hire us?"
"You and Jayne?"
She shook her head.
"'Cause you were meant to be here." He answered simply, sounding certain of it. "I needed a crew. Wasn't ever gonna go anywhere without Zoe. Wash could fly the ship. You could fix her. You were all good, the best."
She couldn't help but wonder if he was being deliberately vague.
"He's good, too." A small glint in his eye as he acknowledged his slight. "Only ever regretted hiring him a time or two. Man's gotten us out of more'n one jam I figured there was no way out of. Mighty fine tracker and the meanest sumbitch out there, which helps when we need it. He can be dumb as dog shit, sometimes, but he's still the best merc for the job."
That was more like it.
"You think he...?"
She didn't finish the question, didn't really know how, and let her hands fumble with Serenity's dials instead.
"Anyone ask me that a year ago an' I would've laughed them out of the sky." He answered her anyway. "But now, with you? I think yes."
Kaylee rolled her neck, feeling the bones crack in release, then rested it on the back of the chair.
"What's gonna happen?" If he knew that, she wouldn't ever argue another thing with him again. "You think? Me an' Jayne, down the road?"
There was quiet and she counted the thud of her pulse in her ear drum.
"Can't rightly answer you there, mei mei." He almost sounded sad for it. "There ain't no one knows for sure and that's half the fun."
"But you got us." She insisted stubbornly, allowing herself a yawn. "You musta known something when you put all of us together."
"Sometimes things happen, sometimes you just gotta let them happen." He stood up, pulling a blanket from the storage locker and settling it around her shoulders. "I might not be able to give you pretty visions of the future, but I can tell you about the now."
She blinked up at him, letting herself melt into the warmth around her.
"Jayne's a simple man and once he decides to do something, there ain't nothing gonna stop him doing it. Right now, he's set his mind on you and god help anyone who gets in his way."
"You got an answer for everything, doncha?"
"'Course I do." He grinned as he sat back down. "I know everything. That's why I'm the Captain. That's why I got me the best crew there is."
"Maybe." She snuggled close, pulling the blanket all around her. "Still doesn't explain why you hired Bester."
Mal laughed out loud, a quick gun fire burst of surprise.
"No. No, it doesn't. Let's just say I was drunk."
Kaylee nodded in agreement.
"He was pretty though."
Prompt 092: Earth.
Jayne ran his hand down the length of the barrel, the roughened pads of his fingers tuned to feel any nicks or abnormalities. There wasn't, of course there wasn't, not on his weaponry.
"I ain't interested."
He could feel her eyes boring into him, had felt it for a good ten minutes already. Not that his words mattered, he knew it, could feel it in the prickles rising on his skin.
There were different kinds of prickles and hair raising and he could identify all of them. There was the Reavers Are Gonna Eat Me twisting of his stomach, the River's Watching Me and I Don't Like It Any skin crawling and the Somebody's Got A Weapon Trained On Me itch. Which led to the I've Just Done Something Stupid and Mal's About to Have A Weapon Trained On Me itch and the I've Just Done Something Worse and Forget Mal 'Cause Kaylee's Gonna Tear Off My Balls sinking thud.
But this, this was worse than any of those and he'd gotten real good at recognizing it over the last few months.
It was the I've Got Something To Say And You're Damn Well Gonna Listen 'Cause I'm A Woman and I Can Make Your Life Hell If You Don't eye burn.
"You hear me?" He tried once more, 'cause it was worth the effort. "You all've been talkin' my ear off and I heard it already."
Gorram it, but she wasn't gonna let up, was she? And he couldn't say no to that, the soft, warm voice or her steady, dark eyes. Damn but Kaylee was making him weak to a woman's eyes.
"Not you." He sighed. "C'mon Zo, we got a job to do."
"Job's not going anywhere." She nodded her head to the side, gesturing to the bar where Mal was ordering drinks and chatting up the contact. "I promise it won't hurt."
"Fine." He laid his gun on the table and looked up at her. "What've I done wrong now?"
"Nothing that I know of." The smile that edged her mouth and eyes was amused. "You know what you're doing?"
He didn't even bother pretending not to know.
"Not in the slightest." He watched her cock her head to the side, considering him. "Zoe, I ain't never had this before. I don't wanna ruin it none by thinkin' too hard on it."
"She was asking about you, you know." He must've looked confused, because she answered his question before he even asked it. "She was asking Mal what he thought about you and her in the long term."
He swallowed, couldn't help himself.
"There ain't no long term." If only she wouldn't look at him like that. "You know it an' I know it. How long you reckon we got out here? Damn lucky to be where we are now."
Didn't this woman ever blink? What the hell was taking Mal so long?
"I don't know." He said eventually. "Okay? That what you wanna hear? I got it better now than I ever remember having it an' I don't ever see myself giving it up."
"Have you told her that?"
"'Course I have." He frowned. "I s'pose I have. I guess. Maybe not exactly like that, but she knows. Has to know, don't she?"
"Does she?" But she didn't wait for any answer. "I bet Kaylee had a big family growing up. Brothers that got married young. Sisters that got married even younger. Probably a dog. I guarantee you she was always sure of solid ground under her feet."
"What's your point?"
"She might be having fun now, but how long do you think she's going to be happy slipping between bunks from night to night?" Her eyes were still watching him, steady and unflinching, but not unkind. "She's not built like us, Jayne, she's going to want security sooner or later."
"Bull shit." He had to stop her there. "Maybe back home all the girls are married by twelve and have eight kids latched to the breast by fifteen and gray hair by twenty, but Kaylee ain't like that."
"It doesn't hurt." Zoe's voice was so soft, it was almost a whisper, like yearning. "It doesn't hurt to give her what she wants."
"She wanted that, she could've just stayed where she was, latched herself onto any man there who'd smile her way an' I know they were there." His mouth was dry and he really wanted the drink Mal was takin' his sweet ass time bringing back. "But she didn't. She chose to come aboard 'cause she wanted to get away from that. Hell, she wanted to go back, she could do it any time. But she don't. Ain't no one holding her back."
Zoe rested her elbows on the table, bringing her hands in under her chin and kept her gorram eyes boring into him. And, dammit, her eyes had gone all thoughtful.
"Kaylee likes those little oatmeal cookies, doesn't she?"
"What?" Jayne spared a look at the bar and glared daggers into Mal's back as the man laughed with the contact. "What are you goin' on about now? Yeah, she likes 'em."
"What did she do with the very last one last night?"
"Huh?" He thought for a moment. "She gave it to River."
"When she wanted it?"
"'She gave away something she wanted to make someone else happy?" And there, she was smiling again. "Sounds like something she'd do."
He sank back in his chair, leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"You told me this wasn't gonna be painful." He gave a soft groan. "You lied."
A small clinking of glass sounded and he cracked his lids open.
"Well, that was easier than I thought it'd be!"
Jayne glared at Mal's happy face.
"Next time don't take so gorram long!"
"What?" Jayne ignored Mal as he grabbed the cup from the tray. "Did I miss something, Zoe?"
"Not a thing, Sir."
Prompt 093: Regret.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
She giggled and draped her arms over his shoulders, resting her chin in the crook of his neck and letting her lips taste the salt on his skin briefly. Her chest pushed into his back and she let him take her whole weight.
"I'm tellin' you, Kaylee." He leaned forward to give her more room behind him. "We gotta go hide before Serenity comes to life an' starts up with us."
"My ship don't give advice." She purred low into his ear. "She's happy as it is."
"Yeah, well." She could feel the cords in his neck shift with her. "Everyone else sees fit to ram it down our throats. Wouldn't surprise me if next time we got mail, Ma's packaged herself up in a box just so's she can yell at me."
Kaylee paused as she ran her hand down the front of his chest, under his shirt.
"You tell your Ma about me?"
He laughed at her, a low chuckle as he turned his head away from the heavy game of cards he had splayed out all over the table in the mess, turned his head so he could give her cheek a swift, messy kiss.
"Hell yeah." And another, mouth sucking on the curve of her jaw. "First time in a long time I'm doin' something she can be proud of."
She had to laugh at his words.
"You tell your Ma about that?!?" He brought his hand up to swipe at her shoulder. "And she's proud? That's all kinds'a weird."
She was too busy playing with the hairs on his chest, feeling the deep rumble of his laugh as they pushed back and forth against each other, too busy to notice much around her. But she felt Jayne go all still and knew what she'd see when she looked up.
Simon standing in the doorway, face gone pale.
"Sorry." He stammered out as he gave a quick look around the empty room, nobody in the mess or the kitchen but the two of them, and then looked directly at the floor. "I'm just... going... back..."
He backed out of the door and the space he left behind was engulfing.
"Jayne." She said it like a sigh as she slid down and away from him.
"What?" He was being deliberately obtuse, she could tell in the way his voice hardened.
"He still feels rotten."
"And?" Flip. A card snapped over onto the deck. "Nothin' I can do about it."
"You could try an' be nice." She pouted, not that it would do any good if he wouldn't look up at her. "You haven't said one decent word to him since..."
And then she left the words hanging, didn't need to finish the sentence.
"I ain't got no decent words for him." Flip. Pause. Flip. "An' he don't want the ones I do got."
"It wasn't his fault." She insisted gently. "He didn't do nothin' wrong, not really."
"He didn't help, none, either." Jayne insisted right back.
They glared at each other for a bit.
"I don't get you, sometimes, Kaylee." Jayne gave in first. "A man could shoot you an' you'd gladly hand him more bullets if he asked you for 'em so he could finish the job."
She really should find it harder to say what she meant, she really should, but somehow she always found herself just opening her mouth and telling Jayne exactly what she was thinking.
"I can't do it." Just. Like. That. "I can't be happy with you, knowin' it came at the price of him bein' so unhappy. It's not fair."
His eyes were so blue, she could give him anything he asked for, she knew it. God help her if he ever figured it out, too, 'cause he was ruthless and he wouldn't ever hesitate to use that to his advantage.
And right then, his eyes were narrowing to look into hers, as if he was trying to read something. She watched them soften a little.
"Okay." She didn't even know she'd been holding her breath until it fell out, a deep gust of air at his sigh. "I'll try. Will that make you happy?"
"Yes." She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "You always make me happy."
"What?" He gave her a sidelong glance. "I can't even finish my solitaire now?"
"Patience." She kissed along his jaw and up to his ear. "It's called patience."
Prompt 094: Chains.
He could feel it in his bones, scratching up and down his insides and along his skin. They were in what was supposed to be a friendly bar, well, as friendly as these places got to them. Safe, at least, most people knew them or of them and left them alone.
Didn't explain one whit the feeling Jayne had been getting.
"I think we're bein' watched."
He leaned into the middle of the table, bringing his cup up to his lips to hide the whisper from onlookers. They all looked at him for a second, a whole second of Mal and Zoe grinning, Inara and River smiling at each other like they had a secret and Simon just raising his eyebrows. And Kaylee's soft hand inching up his side.
Then they all burst out laughing.
"'Course we're bein' watched, you idiot." Mal hadn't ever been one to mince words. "We've been watched for the better part of an hour."
"You have a fan club." Zoe gestured to the bar. "Or, at least, what used to be..."
Huh. How Jayne had missed it, he couldn't tell. He'd been scanning the crowd for anyone that looked menacing, or even slightly shady, enough to give him the creeps, but there hadn't been anyone. Yet, there they were, a group of 'em, all standing there, starin' at him and glarin' poison right through their eyes.
"They look kinda angry." He shrugged. "Don't know why. They've always been nice before."
"'Course they're angry." Kaylee snuggled up closer to him. "They ain't gettin' paid."
"You've probably caused a great economic slump in the last few months, Jayne." Inara teased.
"The whores heard Serenity had landed." River told him simply. "They were looking for large amounts of coin and above average sex."
"Oh god." Mal covered his ears. "I'm not aimin' to hear that."
"I didn't hear anything." Simon raised his glass to his lips. "Not a thing. The last few minutes are a blank to me."
"Well." Kaylee giggled against him. "They wouldn't be wrong."
"That's it." Mal glared. "No more talking, dong ma? No more talking on my ship."
"We ain't on your ship." Jayne supplied, helpfully. "Not now, anyways."
"Don't worry, Mal." Inara told him sweetly. "We promise not to talk about, mention, or even hint at Jayne's sexual proclivities."
"Or reported stamina." Zoe added.
"Okay, you're fired." Mal glared at her. "You're all fired, I need a new crew."
"But we were agreeing with you, Cap'n!" Kaylee smiled. "It's not our fault Jayne's good in bed."
"Hell yeah." Jayne drained the last of his ale, then slammed the cup on the table. "Who needs more? I'm buyin'."
"You're what?" Mal's mouth gaped even further. "Did he just say he was paying for the next round? In that case, maybe I'll start agreeing with the lot of you."
He grinned as he made his way to the bar, going over the conversation in his head. Didn't take long and he wasn't there alone. It never took long.
"Didn't think you'd ever be the one to settle down, Jayne Cobb."
He nodded politely to someone he vaguely recalled as using the name Sapphire. A name he remembered, specifically 'cause she hadn't had anything blue about her, not even her eyes. Stupid, really.
"You just didn't seem the type." His arm itched as her hand ran up his skin, he could feel it. "You know, to be chained down and all."
He drew his arm back and glared at the barman to hurry up, then turned back to the table to see them all laughing still. Kaylee was leaning in close to River, her face all happy and breathless in her giggle.
"Yeah, well, some chains are better than others."
"You sure about that? 'Cause you look real tense." He could smell the cheap perfume she wore as she leaned in close, it got up into his nostrils and stayed there. "You sure there ain't nothin' I can do to make you feel better?"
His fingers closed in around the small bag he kept his coins in. It wasn't as full as he generally liked, but it was heavier than it'd been for a long time.
"Then again." Jayne turned to eye her up and down. "Maybe there is somethin' you could do."
Prompt 095: Red.
"Jayne." He could feel Kaylee giggling through his lips, attached firmly to her throat. "Now they're gonna think we're havin' sex all night, the way you pulled me outta that bar and up into this room."
He brought his face up so he could look her in the eye.
"Well, ain't we?"
"Maybe." She purred as he reached under her arm to lock the door behind her. "If you play your cards right."
He had to chuckle as he kissed her chin, closing his lips around the curve of it as his hands came up to rest on either side of her face.
"First, ain't nothin' wrong with the way I play my cards." He captured her bottom lip between his teeth and stretched it out, just a little, then let it go. "Second, I ain't plannin' on playin' cards."
"You're a cocky hundan." She sighed. "You know it?"
"Yeah." Wasn't one thing he could say to argue with that. "But I got reason to be. I got a surprise for you."
"Really?" Her eyes lit up, just like that, all sparkle and glow. "What?"
He chuckled again.
"Don't know if you've looked up the word 'surprise' lately, but I don't think they've changed it from when I was little. Close your eyes."
"Fine." She pouted. "But if I don't like it, you owe me, Mr. Cobb."
"Oh." He ducked his knees to lay an open mouthed, wet kiss along her collar bone as his hands lifted the hem of her shirt. "I know you're gonna like this."
Kaylee lifted her arms up and allowed him to take the shirt off, drop it to the side and leave it there, forgotten.
"You takin' off my clothes ain't any kind of surprise, Jayne."
"Guess not." He breathed it into her ear as he leant forward, reached around her back to unhook her bra. His whole body covered hers and she fit into the shell of him so easily. "Keep 'em closed anyway."
She shivered as he blew over her neck, leaving a small trail of gooseflesh over her shoulder and down to the rise of her breasts. He watched her nipples harden and felt a gust of shaky air leave her lips and blow over his hair.
Hooking his finger into the top of her pants, he pulled her forward, leading her around the few bits of furniture.
"Where're you takin' me?" She frowned, but followed him. "This room ain't that big. There's nothin' here but the bed an' I'm still not surprised."
"Maybe you should stop yappin' then." Couldn't help but grin as her eyebrows knitted together. "An' I can get this thing underway."
He looked over his shoulder into the corner of the room. Everything was exactly as he'd asked it to be. Girls might not've been too happy about the loss of coin, but they were good sorts. Always had been. It didn't take long for his fingers to unsnap her pants and let them fall to the floor.
"Here." He ran a hand over her shoulder and down her arm. "You can get yourself outta your panty under thing..."
Kaylee giggled as his words trailed off, she twisted herself around, pulling them down and off. All the while she kept her eyes squinched shut and he wanted to kiss her face all over. God, she was beautiful.
"Now what?" She stood there, completely naked, her eyes closed. It took his breath away how much she trusted him. "You just gonna stand there watchin' me in the buff?"
"Well, that ain't no hard thing, babygirl." He ran a roughened hand over the soft skin of her belly, around her hip and over the swell of her backside. "But this thing isn't gonna wait."
"What thing?" He could hear the frustration bubble up. "Jayne?"
She whimpered in the back of her throat, husk and need and it almost made him want to forget the whole thing and just take her where she stood, then and there. Instead, he hooked his fingers around her thigh and lifted it up.
"You sure got a funny way of not sexin' a girl up."
He shifted her leg to the side and slowly lowered it.
"Jayne!" Her hands immediately gripped his shoulders and she adjusted her stance, shifting her weight and letting him lift the other leg. "What'd you do? We can't afford..."
"Shh." He gently lifted her hands from him and helped lower her all the way down. "Don't go spoilin' nothin'."
Her face glowed in the steam as she lay back in the water and he watched the heat of it turn her skin a brilliant red as she smiled a lazy smile.
"Oh." That there moan was worth the extra coin he'd plunked down for it. "This is nice."
"Yeah." The water stung his hand when he reached into it, the heat seeping all the way through his flesh to the bones. "So just you lay back an' enjoy it."
He squeezed the cloth out, watching the trickle of water, then ran it over her shoulder and along her neck. Her skin paled white under the pressure, then flooded with color again.
Prompt 096: Sky.
"C'mon Jayne!" Kaylee grabbed his hand and tugged him along the street. "We gotta get back!"
"We're gettin' back." She heard him growl behind her. "Why're you in such a rush? You got ants in your pants?"
"We slept in."
Which was the nice way to put it. After he'd bathed her, makin' her body all liquid and leeched with heat, Jayne'd practically had to carry her to the bed. It'd been all his fault, the way he'd slowly dragged that cloth over her skin, following it with his mouth, blowin' cold air after the heat. It was like he'd drugged her, stealin' away any hope she'd had of moving.
Then again, once they'd gotten back to the bed, she'd found enough energy to keep moving. More than enough as his hands had woken her up, sent sparks through her skin, little jolts to the her heat loosened muscles.
They'd stayed up half the night, earning the gossip that no doubt made its way all over the cargo bay, bridge and around Serenity, thrown about by everyone on board. It hadn't been the easiest thing she'd ever done, getting up and getting dressed enough to head back.
Jayne's answering chuckle told her he was thinking the same thing.
"S'at what you call it?"
Then after they'd worked their way up to awake and dressed, they'd gotten to earning the cost of the room all over again. And then some.
"C'mon." She urged again. "We don't get back soon, Cap'n's gonna skin us both."
"Reckon he already knows what's goin' on." His hand tightened around hers and she felt them both slowing down. "Man ain't a fool."
"Jayne." She sighed it, hated to let impatience temper their good mood. "Look up."
She could feel the slack loosening of his reluctance and knew he'd seen it. They continued walking back to the docking bay, maybe a little faster than they had been before. It always amazed her how different the streets of a planet could look by day.
Kaylee had barely noticed how far they'd walked from Serenity, the seven of them talkin' an' jokin' along, an' her barely noticing the glow and flitter of all the lights, the clubs and the people buzzing about, everything all close and bleeding into each other. Everything seemed stripped back in the light.
Separate and isolated.
"C'mon." It was Jayne's turn to urge her along. "I ain't lookin' for Mal to throw us both off."
His hand came around her waist and she let him guide them both faster towards Serenity, fitting into his side and the two of them moving in synch.
Above them, dark clouds boiled and threatened to roll over, covering the entire town with shadows. They had a job lined up two quadrants over, Inara had a client booked, if they got landlocked during a storm, because Jayne and Kaylee couldn't keep out of each others' pants, then there'd be hell to pay.
Prompt 097: Water.
“You gonna eat that?”
Kaylee nudged her food around the plate a little, pushing it from one side to the other, then passed it over to Jayne. She felt his eyes on her and it prickled.
“You alright?” He asked.
“Yeah.” His eyes weren’t the only ones as she screwed her nose up. “It taste funny to anyone else?”
“Tastes fine to me.” Mal added from the head of the table. “Same as always.”
“Well.” Jayne glowered. “You can’t not eat. You gotta have something.”
“I will. Soon, maybe.” She sighed. “I guess I’m not that hungry.”
“You didn’t get too wet in the rain before?”
Mal’s question made them all look up, made Simon’s eyes narrow as he scanned her up and down. She could tell they all remembered the last time she got sick and normally she’d be glad that they all cared so much, but for some reason, right then, it just felt like there were too many eyes and too many people watching over her.
She frowned as she shifted out of Inara’s hand coming to rest on her forehead.
It hadn’t been that bad for a while, she thought they’d gotten past that. If they were gonna start harping on it again, watching every move she made, she was going to lose her mind. She knew it.
“You sure?” Jayne’s eyes were the worst, sharp and worried, looking straight through her. “You been kinda weird all day.”
“I said I was fine.” She insisted, feeling the words grate through her teeth. “Don’t start this again.”
“Okay.” He was quick to back off and she felt almost grateful for it. “Just, you know, at least drink something. Here, have some water.”
As she raised the glass to her mouth, Kaylee felt her nostrils twitch in protest. The metallic scent of it reached in and made her wince. She sniffed it again, then looked up at Zoe.
“When you cooked tonight, you use this water?”
“No, Kaylee.” Mal rolled his eyes. “She used the freshwater fountain spring that sprung up in the kitchen. It’s right over there by the frolicking nyphms.”
He stopped when she glared at him.
“What’s wrong?” Zoe reached out and sniffed at her own glass. “I can’t smell anything.”
“Me neither.” Simon added as they all tested their glasses.
“Sensory overload.” River shrugged. “Smell is subjective to each person…”
“Somethin’s wrong.” Kaylee said, not waiting for them all to finish. “Maybe one of the pipes needs replacing, or the tank’s rusted up or something.”
“There’s no rust on my ship.” Mal told her, half seriously.
“Something ain’t right.” Kaylee stood up. “I’m gonna find out what. I’ll be lookin’ in tanks if you need me.”
“I didn’t smell anything.” She heard Inara say as she walked out the door.
“Nobody smelled anything.” Mal answered. “You sure she’s alright, Jayne?”
Prompt 098: Nurture.
She looked up from the table and blinked, her eyes were sore. She'd been sitting there for a good hour scribbling away at the pages in front of her. Sometimes it helped to sketch out engine parts, adding this or that, tryin' to figure out a way to make 'em better or stretch out what life they had left. It wasn't working much right then.
"What's up, sweetie?"
River smiled and held out her hand.
"Can I borrow your pen?"
"Soon." She smiled back. "I just gotta finish here, won't be long."
"You won't need it." River said with a shrug.
"Just a little bit longer." Kaylee frowned slightly and then yawned. "Unless you can tell me how to repipe the water tanks in mid space without floodin’ the entire ship."
"You won't need it." River repeated. "Jayne just went into your bunk with a power drill."
"What?" Kaylee stood up, suddenly finding the energy she hadn't had five minutes before. She absently handed the pen to River. "He what...?"
She heard River whisper a pleased thank you on her way out the door, but she didn't have the time to be annoyed at that. Not right then, anyways, 'cause the closer she got to her bunk, the louder the sound of drilling was.
"Jayne!" She yelled it as she opened the door. "Jayne! What the hell are you doin'?"
"Drillin'." Came the answer.
"I know that." Kaylee jumped the last few steps down to the bunk and glared. "Why and what for are you drilling?"
He was kneeling up on her bed, eye mask on, hands holding the drill up to the wall. She pretended not to see the little curling bits of metal spiking out of her blankets, the silver shavings scattered over her pillow. Instead, she eyed the scattered remains of her room.
All the little dried flowers she'd collected, a Chinese fan, pictures she'd taped to the wall, the string of lights, everything with color that she'd slowly and diligently stored up to brighten the dingy blankness of the room. They sat discarded all over her floor.
"'Cause." He shrugged. "Gotta put Vera somewhere when I move in, don't I?"
"What?" And blinked again. The bastard winked at her. "You're what?"
"And I ain't gonna sleep in here without a proper place for my ladies, you know that."
"Careful." He grinned again as he lifted the eye mask with one hand. "You're startin' to sound a mite unintelligent there. An' that's my job."
"But wha...?" Then she caught herself, blushing as she did it. "You said you were movin' in?"
"Yup." Then he snapped the mask back in place. "So's you better think about packin' away some of your girly things. Not all, mind, but enough to give me some room."
"You really wanna?"
He shrugged as he lifted the drill back up to the wall.
"Just said so didn't I?" And maybe he was acting like he didn't care one little bit, but Kaylee could see the tight way he kept hold of his mouth so it didn't grin, the way his neck flushed dark. "Figured there weren't no use both of us playin' musical bunks night after night."
She couldn't help herself, she rushed over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and kissing the back of her neck.
"You're the sweetest man alive, Jayne Cobb."
"Hey now." He twisted his head to look at her, eyes looking huge in the mask. "You start that an' this won't be finished in time for us to sleep tonight."
"I gotta go tell everyone!" She bounced on her toes.
"You keep shoutin' an' they'll figure it out soon enough."
"Grump." She kissed him again. "I'm gonna go tell 'em, anyway."
By the time Kaylee reached the top of her... their... she grinned at the thought, ladder, she blushed deeply. Jayne was right, they were all gonna figure it out sooner rather than later. It was inevitable.
On her nameplate, in quickly drying ink, someone had scribbled "Jayne and" above her name.
"I want my pen back, River!"
Prompt 099: Absolution.
"I was looking for you."
Kaylee's reaction to the voice was automatic, she looked up so fast that she didn't even have time to think about the ramifications of it. Her head hit the metal above her with a dull thud and she groaned as she closed her eyes to gather her thoughts.
"I have to say, I never thought to look in the second shuttle."
"Simon." She quickly inched her way out of the small crawl space so she could stand up, she felt the distinct need to be upright when she talked to him. "River's on the bridge, waitin' for everyone else to get back."
"I know." He looked shy and she was reminded of the first few months after he'd first come aboard. "I wanted to talk to you in private."
"That ain't..." She paused, feeling uncomfortable and awkward and hating every second of it. "Why?"
"There needs to be a reason now?"
"Don't?" She couldn't stand it, couldn't stand the egg shells and the mine fields and the small hidden cracks that were going to split everyone apart. "Okay? I don't wanna start this again, I don't wanna fight, I don't wanna rehash any of it."
"Neither do I." There was so much space between them, her standing just above the open hatch and him standing just inside the door, looking like he was ready to run. "That's why I'm here. I've been thinking, trying to come up with a way to make it up to you, to both of you."
"There's nothin' to make up." She looked down at the wrench in her hand then back up at him. "I keep tellin' you that."
"Have you told Jayne?" It wasn't angry or snide or demeaning, she could still read his voice and he was honestly interested in her answer. "I'm not sure he sees it the same way you do."
"Then why don't you talk to him?" She had to put the wrench down, or she was gonna twist the shape right off it and make it useless. "Why couldn't you wait to talk to both of us?"
"To be honest?" He tried to smile and she gave him points for it. "I'm not sure if he'd take kindly to that, not yet anyway."
"He's trying." She frowned. "He's been real decent to you."
"I know. And I'm grateful for that." The way he nodded then told her that he knew just why Jayne was trying so hard. "I just don't want to push that too hard, yet."
They looked at each other, standing still, neither of them willing to make the first step forward or even away. No movement that could be misconstrued or taken as something it wasn't. Kaylee could feel the air close in around her chest.
"Did you come up with something?" She just had to say something to fill in the gaps.
"Sorry?" He blinked.
"You said you were lookin' for something to make it up?"
"Oh! Oh, yes." He paused and she waited, urging him with a look. "That is to say, no. I didn't come up with anything."
"Huh?" Okay, all this tension was going to kill her. "Simon, sit down and just tell me what you wanted to say, before I beat it out of you."
She went to heft the wrench at him and realized too late that she'd already put it down. It ended up looking like she was threatening him with a rather limp hand batting and it made him smile.
"I thought I could get you a present." He sighed as he inched his way towards the seat. "But then River reminded me how inappropriate that might be."
She scrunched her nose up in agreement.
One step, she moved a little closer towards him.
"Then I thought, perhaps, I could offer Jayne something. He was looking for something special to give you and I don't have much, but I did manage to salvage one or two valuable items that I was saving for... I don't know, River maybe, or something special."
"He wouldn't want it from you." Kaylee couldn't be anything but brutally honest. "He wouldn't want to give me anything knowin' it came from you."
"Hence the trashing of that plan." He acknowledged the truth of it. "There's not much I have here, on board this ship or anywhere really, that would help. So, after much deliberation, I finally came to a decision."
"And the best thing I can do for the two of you is nothing." He looked at her, straight at her, and she saw the offer in his eyes. "Nothing I do or say will help, nothing I can give will make it better. The only thing I can possibly offer is space and time and hope that one day things will get better between us."
Kaylee looked at him, looked hard, and remembered all the times in that first year when she was chasing after him. She'd tried so hard she'd lost sight of a person who had been slowly and softly trying to win her over.
Jayne had seen she wanted Simon and he'd stepped back, had stood back and, apart from a few jokes and teasing, had given her the space to do what she wanted without putting any pressure on her. He'd hurt hard in that year, she knew it now, but he hadn't once said anything to let her know it, had kept it hidden well.
He'd been the bigger man over all.
And it looked like Simon was finally realizing that.
Prompt 100: Clarity.
"Aw, c'mon." He could hear the whine in his voice and it made him edgier than he already was. "Everyone else's going."
"I said no, Jayne." She sighed as she looked at him and he saw something in the back of her eyes, a weariness that he'd never really seen in her before. "I don't feel like it."
"You had fun the other week." A grin passed over his features. "Hell, we both had fun. An' we ain't gonna be doing much, just havin' a drink or two."
Kaylee glared at him across the bunk.
"I'm not stopping you. You wanna go, you can go."
"No." He heaved a big sigh. "I ain't brave enough to go out drinkin' without you."
"Reckon they'd all kill me." He didn't see any change in her expression, but he could feel the energy in the air crackle and he rushed to fix whatever he'd just done. "Mal an' Inara an' Zoe, especially, reckon they'd hang up my gonads to dry I go out a free man. Hell, it were up to them, I'd just be some other whipped man lookin' for a preacher an' a ring."
Nope. He knew the instant he said it that it'd been the exact wrong thing to say. He didn't even need the way she narrowed her eyes, or the way her face got all sharp, or even the way her teeth bit into her bottom lip.
She looked angry, but worse than that, she looked hurt.
"I ain't holdin' you back, Jayne." She gestured at the ladder. "You wanna go? Just go. Since when do you care what they all think? You've done nothin' but complain Inara told you this an' Mal told you should do that an' Zoe said the other."
There was a tear in the corner of her eye.
"You ever ask once what I actually wanted? You ask me?" She shook her head, answering her own question. "I ain't the one tellin' you all this stuff. You're the one moved your stuff into my bunk, you're the one said you wanted it all like this."
She stopped him with a glare, her face screwing up on itself and he knew she was close to tears.
"Go, Jayne! Just go out, find yourself a whore just to prove you ain't whipped, I don't care!"
"What the hell?" He couldn't help it, couldn't help rising to the bait. "What's the matter with you, woman? You been actin' weird all week."
She turned away from him and he tried to put his arm around her shoulders, but she twisted away from him, going to the other end of the bunk and began rifling through another of the boxes she'd packed up to take out.
Jayne stood there, breathing, trying to figure out what had just happened.
"I don't know what the gorram hell you been drinkin'." He said finally, watching her as she picked up a small square screen and frowned at it instead of tossing it to the side like she'd done with everything else. "But I don't wanna go out and find no whore. I don't wanna go out drinkin' if I can't go out on the arm of the prettiest woman I know."
A pause, she didn't look back at him.
"That's you, by the way." There, her shoulders hunched a little and he knew she'd tried to stop herself laughing. "This is how I want it, nobody but you an' me, here like this. I ain't ever gonna have it as good as I have it with you. So stop all this foolish worryin' about me an' what I want."
"Jayne?" Her fingers trailed on the screen as it lit up. "When did we find that reaver attack on Kerry?"
"What? Couple months back." He didn't even stop to think about her question. "Maybe I got turned around, listenin' to everybody else, but I think you got some wrong ideas, too. Bein' with you, Kaylee, it ain't no chore. I don't want it to end."
"Shh, Jayne." She motioned back at him as her voice came out in a whisper. "I'm counting."
"Well, ain't that the way?" He could feel it pulse up in him. "Here I am tryin' to tell you what I'm feelin' an' you're over there ignorin' me for some stupid calendar screen that's probably out of date by three years. You hear a word I been sayin'? I ain't goin' anywhere, so you better just get used to me bein' here."
"Jayne." Then she did look up at him. "Shut up and come here."
It took his breath away. 'Cause Jayne knew every side Kaylee had, he'd seen her lost in a fit of giggles, stony cold in anger, frozen with fear, so excited she could barely keep still, so happy she glowed. He could recognize each and every mood and voice she had.
Or so he'd thought.
He'd never seen this one. And it scared him to the bone.
"What?" He could feel his throat close up as he put his hand around her waist and his chin on her shoulder to look at the screen. "Kaylee, what is it?"
Sunday, January 22, 2006 5:43 PM
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