Title: Partners in Crime
Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: PG-13 for Jayne's potty mouth
Length: Short story (a little over 2500 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Written for: A rabid plot bunny that wouldn't stop biting my ankles. Blame Aeneas. She encouraged me...and therefore the kitten gets named after hers. You may also blame my husband, and (to a lesser extent) HonorH for it.
Notes: Kaylee brings a kitten on board the Serenity, and it immediately begins making Jayne's life miserable.
"Psst! Jayne!" Kaylee was peeking out from behind the door to her bunk, waving her hand at me as I walked past in the hallway. "Com'ere!"

When I saw what she had, I nearly had a heart attack. "Aw, Kaylee, what you wanna go and show me a thing like that for? The Cap'n ain't gonna be pleased about this at all. You know what the policy on pets is on this boat."

She held the fluffy orange kitten up to her cheek. "But I just couldn't resist! I named him 'Dante.' Ain't he cunning?"

"That ain't the word I'd use. Useless and a gorram nuisance, more like. How you gonna hide it from Mal?"

Big brownish-green eyes looked up at me, all puppy-dog-like. "You'll help me, won't you?"

"I suppose," I mumbled. "Cap'n finds out, though, I didn't know nothing about no damn kitten." Her impish smile lit up the tiny room; how could I say no to that? "Probably wander into the engine room and get squashed by something anyways."

:-:

The tinkling of a little bell distracted me from rummaging around for snacks, and I turned to see Kaylee's damn kitten stepping carefully along the kitchen counter with a belled collar around its neck. I swore and grabbed it, turning around and jerking it behind my back just as Mal walked into the room. Needle-sharp fangs and claws sank into my hand, and I barely kept from yelling out. Instead, I bared my teeth in a bad imitation of a smile. "Hey, Mal," I gritted out, trying to keep it casual.

"Jayne." He nodded and kept going, up towards the cockpit.

As soon as he was gone, I brought the kitten up to eye level. "You little piece of go se," I growled at it. "Leggo my hand." It laid its ears back and dug in harder, giving me a little growl of its own. Huh. Had to admire the thing's spunk, anyways, but it hurt like a sonofabitch. "Kaylee!" I shouted, stomping down the hall towards the bunks.

She stuck her head out. "Oh, there he is!" Then she noticed the expression on my face. "You didn't hurt him, did you?"

I held my hand up in the middle of the air, Dante clingin' to it, upside down, like a tiny determined leech. "Hurt it? Hurt it?"

Kaylee made an "owie" face and stepped forward to remove the little nuisance. Damn thing cuddled up under her chin and purred, while I stood there bleeding. "I'm sorry, Jayne. Where'd you find him?"

"In the kitchen. You wanna keep a better eye on the beast, Kaylee. Mal damn near seen it."

"Aw, Jayne..." She grabbed my hand. "You oughta have Simon look at that. You're bleedin' like a stuck pig."

"Ain't nothing but a few scratches," I snorted. "Don't need to bother the Doc none over somethin' piddly like this."

She frowned cutely. "Cat scratches can be bad. Hate for it to get all infected..."

"Oh, fine, if it'll make you feel better, I'll go." It was bleedin' pretty bad, still. Obnoxious little monster.

:-:

Simon raised an eyebrow when he saw my hand. "Kaylee's kitten did this?" he asked.

"She ain't keepin' it much of a secret, is she? Mal's gonna find out and break her heart."

He sprayed disinfectant on the scratches and got a hypodermic ready. "We'll just have to make sure that doesn't happen."

"Are you sure a needle's necessary, Doc? It's just some itty bitty cat bites." I didn't want a shot unless I had to.

"Itty bitty cat bites have a bad tendency to turn into great big infections." He injected me with barely-concealed glee. "They bite deeply, and they've got bacteria on their teeth, and their bites tend to heal from the top down. And that's bad, because it closes the infection in and lets it fester." He gave me a look. "Not that I would be sad to see you brought low by a kitten bite, because that would be funny. But if you were, Mal might find out about Kaylee's pet, and I don't want to see her cry."

"Ain't none of us wants to see that," I said gruffly.

"You might want to make yourself scarce around Mal until that heals a bit. We don't want him asking awkward questions."

Simon's creepy little sis chose that moment to stick her head into the infirmary. "The catling is a noble warrior. Dante one, Jayne zero." Then she disappeared.

Simon's lips twitched, and I heard him give a snort of laughter as I left.

Hun dan.

:-:

Another job, another dank, dusty, frontier planet. And we all got a bit mussed--again. How come it never went smooth? Afterwards, I sat in my bunk in my skivvies, sponging myself down, when a little thump and a tinkle told me I had company.

"What d'you want?" I asked sourly.

The kitten put down the toy dinosaur, near as big as it was, that it was carrying. "Meep." The tip of its ridiculous tail twitched back and forth, and it looked around in seemin' disapproval at my lodgings, sniffing here and there and sneezing.

I started cleaning a particularly nasty cut across my ribs. "Make yourself to home. You will anyway. Kaylee know you're here, and Wash know you've got one of his dinos?" Then I realized I was talkin' to a gorram kitten and shut my mouth with a snap. Goin' back to what I'd been doing before the rude little brute interrupted me, I took my eye off it for a sec...and lost track of it entire.

Wasn't long before I found it again. Something soft tapped me on my bare foot, twice. Made me a bit twitchy 'til I figured out that the orange beast was havin' some fun at my expense. Least it was keepin' its claws in this time. I turned my foot on its side and wiggled my toes.

Okay, I was tired. And I'd never been around cats much. I swear the little bastard lulled me into a false sense of security on purpose. So I was a mite surprised when four sets of claws sank into my foot and a bunch of fangs got imbedded in my big toe. "Liu kou shui de biaozi he houzi de erzi! I swear, I'm going to kill you!" I shook the kitten loose of my foot, and it fetched up hard against the bulkhead. For a second, I was a-scared I had killed the damn thing, but it rolled over and licked itself once or twice, glarin' at me the whole while. Which was, you know, brave, if not smart in particular. "Kaylee!"

"Jayne?" Oh, my day was gettin' perfecter and perfecter. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine! No need to--"

But it was too late. A pair of mighty shapely legs came down my ladder, followed by the hem of a fancy dress, and then Inara was standin' in my bunk, like a butterfly in a junkyard. "Aw, crap."

The fuzzy orange beast chose that moment to ping-pong across the room sideways with its tail stickin' straight up and poofed out and its back all humped--then skidded to a stop and charged back under my bed. A second later it bounced out again and tackled Wash's dinosaur, biting its head and kicking its stomach as it laid on its side. Inara laughed. "Isn't he cute?"

"Adorable," I growled as I hid my bleeding foot under the bed. "Would you get it out of here?"

She scooped it up and cooed at it. "Did the big bad man frighten you, sweetie?" It did one of those cat things where they meow without making any noise and put its feet on her chin, purring. Evil little schemer. "Don't worry, Jayne. I'll take the scary kitten-monster back to Kaylee's bunk."

"Be much obliged if you did."

After she left, River poked her head in, upside down. "Dante two, Jayne zero." I threw my wet cloth at her, and she gave a shrill girl-giggle and disappeared.

"Great."

:-:

By now it was common knowledge around the boat that Kaylee had a pet. How in the hell we were keeping it from Mal was a mystery never to be solved, but he'd somehow not got wind of it yet. After stepping on the gorram dinosaur one too many times, I picked it up and took it to the cockpit.

Wash and Zoe was both there...and Zoe had the damn kitten on its back in her lap, danglin' her fingers over its head while it batted at them with its paws. "Cap'n sees that, he's gonna go gao tsau de fong luh," I pointed out.

"Cap'n's not here; he's out on the world gettin' us a job," Zoe said. She grabbed the beast around the ribcage and shook it back and forth, and it laid its ears back and grabbed onto her hand with claws and teeth...without breaking her skin. Psycho little hun dan.

"Job'll be good; ain't had one in awhile. Kaylee's furball left this in my bunk," I said, handing the plastic dinosaur to Wash.

"Hey! I wondered where that'd disappeared off to," he said. He picked up another one and made them talk to each other. "'I was kidnaped by a hairy monster.' 'Oh, no! How did you ever escape?' 'It wasn't easy, but I kept my wits about me and managed it. But...I haven't eaten in quite awhile--and it's time I remedied that! Rawr, rawr...rawr?'" He noticed us lookin' at him, all amused-like, and put his dinos down with a little cough.

"Zoe! Got us a job!" Mal's voice, and we all stared around at each other in panic. I held out my hand to Zoe, and she stuck the kitten in it. I put it behind my back just as Mal came into the cockpit--and naturally the little beast sank teeth and claws in. "Wash, take us out of the world. Here's the coordinates. We're to pick somethin' up and bring it back here."

"Aye, aye, Cap'n." Wash flipped three switches and powered Serenity up.

"I'll go tell the others," I said, backing out. As soon as I was clear of the area and sure that Mal weren't followin' me, I brought the kitten around to my front and growled in its face. "Leggo my hand, you crazy, hairy houzi de pigu. " It thumped its tail against my wrist and snarled a reply at me. I continued on down the hallway towards Kaylee's bunk. "I am going to kill you," I muttered, not meaning it. Thing had guts; it must've known I'd squish it soon's look at it. But it still wouldn't run away. Had to almost admire mettle like that. Almost.

Kaylee unhooked her little furdemon from me and told me to go see Simon again. Huh. Weren't no way; I'd take care of it myself, thanks very much. But I still couldn't avoid Simon's sis.

"Dante three, Jayne zero."

:-:

I spotted the Preacher down in the cargo bay as he lifted weights. "Twelve, thirteen, fourt--What was that?" he yelled.

"What was what?" I grabbed the barbell from him, one-handed, and put it up on the rest before he hurt himself.

"Something ran across my foot just then."

"Kaylee's damn kitten, more'n likely. That thing does get all over the boat, don't it?"

"He does that." He sat up and rubbed a towel over his face. "I hear you're not getting along with him too well."

"It's a pain in the ass. Always dodging the Cap'n. He's gonna find out sooner or later--"

Screeches, hisses, and thumping noises interrupted me from behind some of the cargo. The terrible sounds went on for a good five minutes, and they attracted all kinds of unwanted attention. One by one, everyone else come into the hold. Mal stood at one end of the catwalk above; Kaylee stood at the other, bitin' her knuckle and shootin' scared glances at him. Inara had her hand on Kaylee's hair, and the Doc and his nutty sister were on the stairs. Even Wash had left the cockpit, and he and Zoe took up a position next to the Preacher and me.

I think we all collectively exhaled when Dante come out from where he'd fought his great battle. His fur was all mussed, his ear was bit clean through and bleedin', and his tail was poofed out to about four times its normal size--but he was draggin' the biggest rat I ever seen, and it was dead.

Wash gave a low whistle. "Taikong suoyou di xingqui dou sai jin wo de pigu! The rat's bigger than he is!"

I was impressed myownself. Say what you want about the little nuisance, he had guts. I could respect that. I picked him up and chucked him under the chin as Kaylee and Mal came down the stairs.

"Someone want to tell me what the hell is going on here?" Mal demanded as I handed Dante over to Kaylee.

Everyone started talking at once except me and our genius mechanic. I squoze her shoulder a little, and she leaned into me a bit, her eyes big and scared and shiny.

"Nimen dou bi zui! Am I the only one on this gorram boat that didn't know about this?" Mal asked. We all kind of looked at the floor and shuffled our feet. "Kaylee?"

"It's my fault, Cap'n," she said, stepping up. "I asked 'em all not to tell. But he was so small and alone and brave, I just couldn't leave him where he was."

"And I suppose you thought you could keep him a secret forever?"

"No, sir. Well, I'd hoped." She sighed, her lip trembling. "Next planetfall, I'll drop him off somewhere."

"Now, now. No need to be so hasty." He eyed the dead rat on the floor. "He's proved he can be useful. You've kept him out from underfoot for Lord knows how long. And I don't want to see you cry. You can keep him." She gave a bounce, and he put up a warning finger. "Keep him out of the equipment and out of trouble, mind."

"I will, Cap'n. You'll hardly even know he's around." She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you!"

He noted our expressions of wonderment. "What? I'm not a completely heartless bastard. Don't look so surprised."

:-:

Dante played around our feet at dinner that night. We'd finished up and sat back, tradin' stories, when I felt a tug on my pants and some pinpricks on my calf. The kitten hauled hisself up into my lap, and I waited just a bit too long to dump him back on the floor where he belonged. He started pushin' back and forth with his feet on my leg, purrin' like a tiny motorboat.

My hand decided to get a mind of its own and started scratching his neck. The purrin' got louder, and pretty soon the conversation died away and everyone was lookin' at me as if I'd grown another head. Then Dante was on the move again, clawin' his way up my t-shirt to my shoulder. Lips twitched around the table, and people hid snorts of laughter behind their hands or in hastily-picked-up glasses of water.

"What?" I asked, reachin' up to play with the kitten. He batted at my fingers and rubbed his shoulder on my ear.

"Nothing," Simon said innocently. "It just appears that you have a new friend."

"Yeah? What of it?" I could get used to this, I thought. Kaylee was right; he was cunning.

River was giving me one of her psycho stares, but then she broke out in smiles and lifted her glass. "Dante three, Jayne one."

The End

Author's Notes: Chinese translations taken from Consequence Free's Firefly Translations Page.
go se: crap
hun dan: bastard or son of a bitch
Liu kou shui de biaozi he houzi de erzi: son of a drooling whore and a monkey
gao tsau de fong luh: dog-humping crazy
houzi de pigu: monkey's ass
Taikong suoyou di xingqui dou sai jin wo de pigu!: Stuff all the planets of the universe into my ass
Nimen dou bi zui!: Everybody, shut the hell up!

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