Title: Once More, With Feeling
Claim: Various Adam Baldwin Characters
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing, etc: Jayne/Inara
Prompt: #21 Kiss (for the LJ Community "smut69")
Word Count: 1,030-ish
Rating: PGish
Disclaimer: JAYNE IS ALL MINE, DAMNIT! So, hands off! Just kidding! Joss is GOD and owns EVERYTHING, including my soul.
Author's Notes: Written in response to two plot bunnies left for me in my LJ "BunnyThon". One, was a request for an AU ending to "Out Of Gas" from "stormwolfdawn7"; the other, a request for a kissing fic (preferably Jayne/Inara) by "rinalin". This is all for them, and for "noneofyours".

Also, WARNING: NOT FLUFFY.


Inara knew they were out of time.

Digging out her medicine chest she rummaged through it carelessly, looking for the bottles with the amber liquid. With her cold-stiff hands shaking, she measured out the four doses into small tea cups—one for each of them. It wasn't enough to end it all, just enough to put them to sleep so they wouldn't know when the end finally came.

It was just so cold.

Pulling her robe and a blanket more securely over her shoulders, the Companion picked up two and handed Kaylee the first delicate cup. With tears in her eyes she whispered, "I'm so sorry mei mei."

Kaylee's bottom lip quivered, but she took the medicine and downed it quickly, grimacing at the awful taste. "'S alright 'Nara. Weren't no way you coulda known that blast messed with your shuttle controls and blew out some of the circuits. I shoulda checked before we left. I done failed everybody again."

Book placed his hand over hers and said sympathetically, "Now, now child, we'll have none of that. The Captain was insistent about getting us all away from Serenity as quickly as possible. There was no time to check every control on both shuttles, and you can't do everything, no matter how much you want to or how hard you try. I think it's best that we just make peace with the situation as it stands--seems that it's just our time, Kaylee."

His speech did little to stop the mechanic's tears, but Inara was grateful that he had tried. Mouthing, "Thank you," to the older man, she handed him the cup and waited.

"And you're sure this will only render us unconscious?" the Shepherd asked. "I'd hate for my last act in the 'verse to be a sin."

"I am positive. Were you to take all 4 doses…"

She left off the end of that sentence; everyone knew that taking the whole bottle would be committing suicide.

With a flick of his wrist he downed the medicine and snuggled more deeply into the blankets he was sharing with Kaylee.

Strangely quiet throughout the ordeal, Jayne looked up and held out his hand for his allotment. His eyes glistened with unshed tears and the sight startled Inara. She sank down onto the divan next to him and went about arranging the covers around them both in an effort to preserve body heat.

Jayne turned slightly, facing the beautiful woman, and took her free hand in his.

"I just wanted to say I was sorry for all the mean things I ever said to you. I never meant to hurt your feelings or nothing; it's just sometimes my mouth runs ahead of my brain. And…and you make me all kinds of nervous. You've gotta be the most beautiful woman I ever laid eyes on. And I ain't just talking bout your looks. I'm used to paying for company, ain't no secret in that, but I ain't ever been able to afford a real live Companion. Not sure I'd do it even if I could. Woman like you's got class and style and…well, standards. Don't mean I didn't dream about it though. That kind of thing can make a man frustrated and…say things he ought not. So…yeah."

For the second time in less than five minutes Inara was startled. She always thought that men like Jayne were a dime a dozen; uncouth, uneducated, unwashed, undesirable. But when she looked into his eyes she saw something she'd missed all this time: Jayne was not the man she thought he was. Not at all.

And his admission weighed heavily on her, because Jayne was a proud man—he'd never apologize unless he was forced to, or paid to…or because he was trying to unburden his soul before he met his Maker. That fact cemented their dire situation stronger than anything previous, and she felt her composure crumble.

This was truly the end.

When she started crying in earnest, Jayne sighed and pulled her closer to his big frame, wrapping his arm around her and trying his best to soothe her. He wasn't used to this kind of thing, and it made him uncomfortable, but he did it anyway…because she needed him.

Both Book and Kaylee had already fallen asleep so there was no one to see the consummate Companion break down, or to see the big tough Mercenary go soft.

Jayne put his bent knuckle under her chin and lifted it to look her in the eye. His rough fingers ghosted delicately over her jaw and cheekbones, sliding up to wipe her tears away. Her bottom lip trembled slightly and Jayne brought his thumb down to caress it.

Without thinking, he lowered his head and placed his lips against hers, and when she didn't pull away or slap him, he pressed his mouth harder upon hers. Wrapping his arm around her waist he pulled her closer, and when her tongue darted out, he opened his mouth to let her kiss him.

Their tongues rubbed against each other, delving deeply into each other's mouths; their bodies pressed tightly together. Inara reached up to run her fingers through the short hair on the nape of his neck and Jayne plunged his hand into her hair, fisting around the dark locks. Both of them strained to keep the other's mouth on their own.

Finally breaking apart, each out of breath and trembling, Inara told him, "I can't remember the last time someone well and truly kissed me--someone who wasn't paying for the privilege. You never think it's going to be the last; you think there'll always be one more."

Jayne nodded silently and reached for the cups. Downing his like a shot of whiskey, he dropped the cup and brought the other one to Inara's lips. She drank it quickly, and started to lick the remaining drops of the drug from her lips when Jayne grunted, "Don't."

The question in her eyes was answered quickly when he leaned down, his tongue gathering the last of the vile liquid, and kissed her again.

And kiss her he did until they both fell asleep, wrapped tightly in each others arms…lips still pressed together.