Rating: PG 13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: After the series and the BDM.
"Why exactly did we have to rescue those townsfolk? It's not as if they like us none." Jayne grumbled as he tried to find a more comfortable spot on the floor of the safe.
River crossed her legs and leaned back against the vault door. "Pleasurable bonding is of no importance. They needed help, and we helped them."
The mercenary scowled. "Yeah, well, I was on my way to get some pleasurable bonding when you drug my ass in here. Now, there ain't gonna be time for none before we have to get back to the ship because what passes for law in this town is quite happily inept. That's why we're here." He dropped his head back with a dull thud against the metal door. "They ain't never gonna get us out of this bank, and I'm outta ammo."
Jayne slanted a glance at the practically asleep girl beside him. "Of course, you could go all Oatie bar on their asses, and get us out of here sooner though."
She frowned but didn't open her eyes. "I already did that. When I determined the bystanders were safe and your arsenal was nearly depleted, we locked ourselves in here to wait for eventual rescue by the authorities. Besides, you were not seeking pleasurable bonding. So there is no need to whine about it."
The mercenary blinked. "I ain't whining, and I was too."
River yawned. "Yes, you are whining, and, no, you were not."
After opening and closing his mouth several times in abortive attempts to question her, Jayne finally managed, "Why for you say that?"
"When your voice takes on that high-pitched--"
His jaw clenched and he growled. "Not about the whining. Which I wasn't whining. About the other thing." He waved his hand in the air. He swallowed hard before forcing out a nearly nonchalant lie. "I always go get company when Mal gives us free time on planet."
River shrugged. "Not anymore."
"What do you mean not anymore?" Jayne couldn't prevent his voice from squeaking by the end. This was so not good. She couldn't possibly know anything, but if she did, he was so screwed and not in a good way.
She yawned again. "You have not had pleasurable bonding with another in three months 17 days and four hours. I could guesstimate minutes and seconds based on average walking speed, pickup time and clothing removal possibilities if you would like."
"NO! I would not like. And there ain't no way you could know that anyways."
At that comment, River opened her eyes and inspected the mercenary with her patented you-know-you're-being-stupid-right look.
Flushing slightly, he muttered, "Well, I guess there is a way. But you ain't supposed to be gettin' in our heads no more."
His bright blue gaze narrowed on her face. "You didn't?"
"No. People wear their moods like clothing. Different colors and styles for different moods. I can't help but see. No need to delve deeper."
Jayne shifted uncomfortably. "Guess you can't help that. But best to keep those observations to yourself from now on 'cause I doubt the Doc or Mal would appreciate you keeping track of such things."
"I keep track of everything."
"Be that as it may, they won't like you keeping track of my company time."
"Why not? I know theirs, too."
Snickering, Jayne struggled with himself not to ask the obvious next question. Information like that could get a guy dead right quick. "Best keep that to yourself too."
"Don't see why. Since they decided not to be boobs anymore, they've been wearing those clothes a lot."
Jayne scowled. Something was wrong with the 'verse when the uptight Captain and the prissy Doc were getting more than he was. But then he wasn't getting anything so it really wasn't all that surprising.
His expression darkened further when he realized she had emphasized they . What did she mean by that? Did she know something? Something he would absolutely not think about in her presence? He risked a glance at her out of the corner of his eye.
River raised her eyebrows at him.
The mercenary gulped.
A slow smile spread across the girl's face.
Jayne tried to pull his gaze away, but found his eyes locked with hers. He could not look away. He also realized he could not breathe properly. Working to drag in some desperately needed oxygen, he sat absolutely still as he tried not to move, speak, or think. This situation had suddenly become very, very dangerous, and it had nothing to do with those stupid heavily armed bank robbers on the other side of the door.
He licked his lips, and nearly died when her eyes followed the movement in a manner he could only describe as hungrily. Then she deliberately licked her lips in response. He thought he might hyperventilate.
"You said… you said you didn't get into our minds anymore." Jayne knew he was whining now, but he couldn't stop himself.
"I didn't need to get into your mind." River assured him as she slowly uncrossed her legs and shifted onto her knees.
"No?" squeaked the big bad mercenary as he trembled when the girl suddenly swung her leg around to straddle him. Her knees firmly held his thighs in place while she leaned forward to rest her hands on the door just to the side of his ears.
"No," whispered River. Her face was so close to his her answer ghosted across his lips.
His trembling increased.
She trapped his gaze again.
Jayne stuttered, "Why you… Why you doin'… Why?"
"You stopped seeking company when it no longer satisfied. When the painted pretties paid caresses no longer fulfilled. When your eyes began to linger on my body and your ears began to search for my voice and your pulse began to race in my presence."
"I… I…" He could not find a good excuse. He thought he'd hidden it well, but obviously he had not.
"You wish to change clothing. To wear a new style and color. To feel inside as well as outside. To find a permanent dance partner just as Simon and Captain Daddy have."
Her closeness was beginning to take a toll on Jayne. He couldn't think, and no words would escape his mouth, and his body was languid yet tense. He couldn't do what he really wanted to do, what he had prevented himself from doing for months. She might be mostly sane now but she was still half his age, and the others would kill him and he would let them because this was so very wrong.
"Not wrong. Different. Adult choices made by adults." River's persuasive voice rolled through him.
If only he could. Maybe he could. She'd said he could. He began to lean forward. His hands began to reach up. His mind began to accept.
She sighed across his lips. "Time's up."
"Huh?" He didn't know there was a time limit. That wasn't fair. She hadn't given him time to… He finally heard the clang of the door mechanism unlocking. "Ruttin' hell."
After a roll of her eyes, River stood, stepping away from the still recumbent mercenary and the door. "Took too long. Taking too long." She frowned petulantly at the stunned man.
At the slight, Jayne popped up off the ground and glowered at the girl. "Am not."
The mercenary stepped forward to tower over her. "Am not."
Her eyes narrowed, and she sneered, "Are too."
His hands clenched. She could be so infuriating. "These things take time."
"Like you'd know." She scoffed.
Okay, she had a point there. "The others ain't gonna just accept--"
"Can't accept if they don't know. Have to tell them. Have to ask permission."
Jayne growled, "I ain't the type--"
River repeatedly poked him in the chest for emphasis as she asserted, "If he wants to change clothes, he'll have to be."
A particularly suicidal young man interrupted the heated argument. "Excuse me? Are you two… okay?"
The heads of the extremely dangerous pair whipped around to see the safe had opened and several official looking people stood awkwardly in the doorway. When the merc frowned at them, the newcomers stepped back in unison.
Rolling her eyes, River swept forward to stop in front of the young man who had spoken. "Yes, we are fine. We would be more than happy to never mention this incident nor this establishment's incompetence again. For the price agreed upon by your superiors."
She held out her hand, palm up. The official put a bag of coin in her hand. She frowned at its weight.
As she stepped between the men and over the robbers' bodies on her way out of the bank, River threw over her shoulder, "Get the other bags from them. Blondie's right breast pocket, Mole's left, Blue's and Shorty's back left."
The officials gaped at the girl's back.
Jayne stomped over to the frightened men. "You couldn't have waited another half an hour?"
The mercenary growled as he pulled the bag from the blonde's jacket. "No, of course not. You had to come bargin' in just when things were gettin' interestin'."
"Now, she knows for certain." He groused as he as he yanked the bag from Mole's pocket. "Now, I'm gonna have to jump through her hoops."
He spun Shorty around and grabbed the bag from his back pocket. "Now, I'm gonna have to court her. And there ain't enough coin in these bags to pay for the humiliation she's gonna heap on me before I get any."
Blue handed over his bag without complaint because he did not want to be manhandled by the very angry man.
Jayne nodded at the men as he turned toward the exit. Suddenly, he stopped with his foot in the air as he casually stepped over one of the bodies. He turned back to the wary men.
"How'd you do this anyways?" His eyes narrowed on the officials. He knew they'd never have managed to figure this out alone.
The official who spoke before piped up again in hopes of speeding the big man on his way away from the bank. "This nice man in a brown coat--"
The merc grimaced and the men stepped back once more in unison. "Nevermind."
Rolling his eyes, Jayne figured he'd best get used to trailing around after the girl and resumed his trek out of the bank.