Characters: River, Jayne, Mal
Pairing: River / Jayne
Disclaimers: not mine. Waaaaahhhhh!
Summary: There are all kinds off intimacies. Jayne isn't really comfortable with any of them.
A/N: Number Eighteen. These are the prior installments, in order, and can all be found here: Expert , Slippers , Letter Home , Gifts , Rats , In Dreams , Holes , Simon , Bob , Splinters , Salutations, Blood Drops , Pas des Deux , Butterfly , Scar Tissue , Wild Things , Soon. For direct links to the story, visit Rayne(underscore)shippers at LiveJournal(dot)com
Still not betaed. My email is possessed by a virus that goes out on all attachments and translates everything coming in to gobbledegook and Norton Anti-Virus doesn't seem to be fixing it. le sigh So, I'm off to Staples after my speech therapy to try to see what I can do about it. The point of this exposition? The fabu bugchicklv has not seen this to beta, so there are probably lots of mistakes.
Jayne don't rightly know how the argument really started, all he knows is they've drawn a crowd. He supposes it weren't the best idea to try to escape to the cargo bay when she wouldn't leave him alone, 'cause the damn thing is all sorts 'a echoey. Their voices have probably carried all over the ship by now.
Kaylee is watchin' them, grinnin' like this is the best entertainment she ever did see, but the Captain ain't lookin' none too pleased and the Doc looks like he's contemplatin' murder. Zoë and Inara are both behind him, so he can't see their faces but he's pretty sure they're both given him the ol' stink-eye.
Jayne is tryin' to hold River at arms length and it galls him to know she's lettin' him. He's seen her fight – several times now – and he knows there ain't no way he could keep her from kickin' his ass if that's what she's aimin' for.
"Listen, ya xiong-meng de kuang-ren either knock this off or quit toyin' with me and knock me out, will ya? I already told ya I ain't gonna do it and that's that. Ain't nothin' you can say's gonna change my mind, dong ma?"
River throws the hairbrush she was holdin' at him, "Why not?"
"'Cause I ain't. I said no; I meant no and that's that. You don't always get things your way, little girl." He don't understand why it's such a big deal that he won't brush her hair for her.
"She's not a little girl, she's a woman," River snorts back. She's stopped struggling somewhat, but Jayne recognizes a change a' tactics when he sees one. He ain't fallin' for tears, either. "Why won't you brush her hair for her? She knows you want to."
Jayne can feel heat risin' in his face and realizes the girl has gone and made him blush. Clearing his throat nervously, he looks at the other members of the crew before turning back to her. "It ain't proper."
"Why? You've done it before – back on Canton you brushed the hair of the woman you…"
"She was a whore. You ain't." Jayne barks, interrupting her before she can say somethin' even more mortifyin' than 'afore.
River stops strugglin' all together. She's lookin' at him now, all sorry-like, and Jayne wonders what he's done now. "He loves her?" she questions and her voice as all wobbly. Jayne rolls his eyes and grunts. Why's she questionin' what she already knows?
He don't reply right away, instead he leans forward and bends down slightly forcing her to look inta his eyes. His reaches up and strokes her hair, before cupping her face in his hand. He smiles when she leans into his palm, "I ain't brushing your hair."
Jayne is standin' on the catwalk lookin' down into the cargo bay, watchin' River as she lazily pushes herself with one foot back and forth on her swing. Junior is sleepin' in her lap, not quite as small as she was when Jayne first brought her on board but still pretty tiny. That crazy pink hat is sittin' on her head again. Seems to Jayne she wears it purt'near everywhere lately while on ship. The ear flaps stick out at ridiculous angles, making her look even less threatenin' than the runty ball of fur snoozin' on her legs.
Watchin' her is one 'a his favorite past times lately and even though he knows she knows he's standin' there, he apurciates the fact she pretends she don't. He still finds it sorta creepifyin' that she knows him so well – right this minute, she probably knows everything he's thinkin'. The fact that she don't call him on it at least allows him to think he's still in charge of this situation.
"She don't look more'n fourteen, sitting in that swing," Mal's voice, intrudin' inta his thoughts, makes him jump. He hadn't even heard the Captain come up beside him.
Jayne scowls at him, "Gorramit! Why does everyone feel they gotta remind me how young she is lately? I ain't blind!"
"Just wanted to make sure," Mal replies calmly, "'cause it seems, from where I'm standing, you just might be forgetting that."
"How could I forget, what with everyone mentionin' it to me every time I ruttin' turn around?" Jayne grumbles, somewhat defensively. "And she's eighteen. Besides, I ain't touched her so ya can quit yer bitchin'."
"Man's allowed to make a general statement about age on his own boat," the Captain stretches as he says this, looking at Jayne slantwise. "It's hard to miss the way you look at her Jayne, is all I'm saying."
The big man hunches his shoulders defensively, ignoring the twinge along his stitches, before he replies, "Why you always gotta think the worst 'bout me, huh? Lookin' ain't touchin'. Ain't no one ever hurt by a pair of eyeballs 'afore."
"What was that fight about earlier?" The Captain asks, abruptly changin' the subject.
Jayne shrugs, "You heard most of it. What more do ya need to know?"
"I want to clarify in my mind why you wouldn't brush her hair."
"Like I said, she ain't a whore. I don't aim to start treatin' her like one."
"And brushing her hair would make her a whore how, exactly?" Mal is lookin' at him all steady as he asks this and Jayne knows ain't no way he's gonna get away with not answerin'.
Rubbin' a hand across the back of his neck, he glances down at River before turnin' to face the Captain. "It's somethin'…it's intimate. I…it's somethin' that charges me up and I…she…we…"
"It's something you like to do before you get sexed up." Mal states. Jayne expects a smirk, but the Captain is studyin' him all thoughtful-like. "You really like her."
Jayne leans down a bit, propping his forearms on the railing and hangin' his head. "She's different, Mal. Real different – and not just on accounta the fact she's still a little crazy. She's dangerous, like Vera, but soft too. I know she's just a little girl. I know that. And I don't aim to push none and I'm gonna give her time to grow up if'n that's what she needs, but I ain't gonna let her go, dong ma? She keeps tellin' me that we fit. I think she's right. 'Sides, Doc and I have already reached an understandin'."
"This is news to me," Mal responds, "but if it concerns my crew I'd be mighty interested in knowing what that agreement is. Hopefully, it don't involve knives or duels, because I like havin' a Doc on board to stitch us up."
"We ain't gonna hurt each other," Jayne mutters. "He gave me permission ta court Crazy."
There is silence between the two men for a few minutes. Jayne don't need to look at Mal to know the man's got that surprised look of someone just dipped in sheep shit. "He gave you permission to do what?"
"Court her," Jayne nods down to River, before he shrugs. "I've been tryin' to figure out what, 'xactly, that means."
Mal is lookin' at him all suspicious-like. "You're gonna court her? As in court court? Flowers and hand-holdin' and all that stuff?"
Jayne shrugs, "If'n that's what I gotta do, though I'm hopin' it ain't. Never courted no one 'afore, don't rightly know where to begin. Where'm I s'posed to find flowers at the gorram ass end of the universe anyway?"
"I'm still trying to get past the idea of you courtin' anyone, let alone our little witch."
"Me too," Jayne sighs. "I don't even wanna talk 'bout it, truth be told. This is weird."
Mal smirks, "What, I don't make a good confidante? Perhaps you could go discuss this whole courtin' business with the Doc. With him being from the Core and all, I'm sure he'd know all the fancified rules that go along with it."
"Wo de ma, no! I don't want him to think I don't know what to do."
"You don't know what to do," the Captain points out, "and I'm sure Simon already knows it."
"Mayhap he does," Jayne grumbles, "but mayhap he don't. I ain't gonna give him no reason to change his mind."
"You serious 'bout this, or is it all some elaborate prank to get me going?" Mal asks, only half joking. "I kinda suspected you liked her when you didn't avail yourself of the cathouse our last job…And, mayhap when you danced with her. 'Spose the kitten was a clue as well. Why is the Captain always the last to know these things?"
Jayne just shrugs again. He don't think Mal really wants an answer anyway and 'sides, he's already said enough. His gaze drifts to River again and he smiles when she looks up at him and waves.
xiong-meng de kuang-ren - violent lunatic