AN: 17 in a series of 30 for the LJ community 30Kisses. Sorry for the delay - I'll make it up to you with eventual fanservice fanfic, okay?
She's sitting on top of the kitchen table. Not on the corner, whimsical like a child might be. She's sitting cross-legged in the center of the table. Like she belongs there.
Somehow, she does.
"With birds," she says, watching him with eyes both sharp and soft, searching and distant, "it's the males that are colorful. The ones with the brightest plumage attract more mates."
He grunts at her, acknowledging without answering. Sometimes she doesn't accept such non-participation from him. Today, she allows it. After all, he's busy, fixing broken cabinet doors behind the bar, a screwdriver between his teeth as he drives the nail home.
"But with humans," she continues, her head cocked sharply like the birds she talks about, "it's the females that are supposed to primp and dress brightly. They're supposed to be attracting mates. The males just choose the ones they like best."
Another grunt. He takes the screwdriver from his mouth to twist the nail, noticing the rust staining the cabinet hinge. They'll need a new one soon, new nails or not.
"Seems kinda silly," she adds and folds her hands in her lap, sitting up straight. "Males don't always know what they really want. They go for the skinny, pretty ones, but it's the larger, heavier females that can bear the children. Females are more practical."
Another grunt, another nod and he lowers his gaze, placing unused nails back into the jar they're kept in. The screwdriver is set aside, ready to be stacked into an armful and taken back down to storage. As his gaze wanders, checking to make sure he's done, dark eyes meet dark eyes. He blinks once at her, blank, before sighing.
He's resigned to their routine.
"Meanin' what?" he asks after a moment, positive that there's something more she wants to say and he'll have to actually speak to get her to say it this time.
Her head cocks again, eyes wide and so very not innocent. Leaning back, her weight is braced on small hands, palms pressed into the wood of the table. Her face is relaxed, lips full and in a line that is neither frown or smile, her eyes the only tell-tale of her emotions - curious.
"You don't need to dress up for me," she informs him with the generosity of a queen, "but you can if you want."
He stares at her for a long moment, unsure if he should be amused or angry. Better to raise a brow and just look a bit poleaxed. "...Yeah?"
"Yeah." She nods, agreeing, allowing, leaning back to let the loose fabric of her dress settle against curves that can't be seen when she hunches the way she does. "Remember - I like you in red."
If Jayne wore red the next day, it was only because he wasn't going to be shown up by some damn bird.