He had no choice but to give Vera a thorough cleaning. It was that or go nuts since there was nothing else for him to do and he was primed and ready to go. There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. Unless he wanted to wander the ship by himself.
"No, thank you," he said gruffly, glancing at the handle to ensure it was polished to his usual strict specifications. He'd rather slit his own throat than walk around letting the others on Serenity know Jayne Cobb had no one to pass his time with.
"Guarantee you none of them are giving you any thought right now, buddy," he muttered, running Vera against his cheek. She was about the only thing he trusted on this ship one hundred percent anyway, so it was fitting he was here cleaning her.
Kaylee and Simon. He snorted. He didn't need to guess what they were doing. His empty bunk was all the reminder he needed they were doing something he wished he could do about now. There was something about being on the verge of dying that left you wanting. And it wasn't his hand he wanted either.
Mal was flying the ship with Zoe nearby, being consoled by her captain. He didn't understand it exactly, but he could appreciate that what Zoe and Wash had was real. And that she and Mal had a connection no one could compete with. Not even Wash sometimes, not to think ill of the dead. Jayne Cobb wasn't a man to have fuzzy feelings toward anyone. Well, except his mother. And who could fault him for that?
He heard footsteps outside his bunk, gave Vera one final perusal before stashing her with his other 'friends'. A man could never have enough weapons was Jayne Cobb's motto, and it had not let him down yet. He was prepared for just about any situation they could find themselves in. Mal groused about it, but one day he'd thank him. Jayne would be the hero.
He no longer pictured getting praised as a hero solely, which was contrary to his general philosophy. He preferred to work alone, staying on Serenity only because so far it had proved lucrative enough and nothing better had come along. He was his own man.
Now, a bit of a girl that no one would look twice at was by his side in the picture his mind painted. A joint effort. The stuff dreams were made of as far as Jayne was concerned. And, man, the dreams were good. It was part of the reason he kept his distance from her. He was afraid he'd mistake a situation for one of his dreams and do something stupid. Living conditions would worsen in the blink of an eye were that to happen.
The footsteps grew louder as they entered his room and then stopped. He waited a minute to speak, expecting the captain to say something. He was met with silence.
"So, you're all done playing the role of sympathetic ear. I'm surprised to see you this soon, I figured for sure."
The light touch of a hand to his shoulder stopped him short. It certainly wasn't Mal's hand. Correct that. It'd better not be Mal's hand touching him that way or he'd have to rethink putting Vera away so soon. The hand didn't belong to someone Mal's height anyway, so that limited it to the women on the ship. Kaylee was busy elsewhere with the good Doc and Zoe was no small thing. Inara had no business in his dorm. In fact, he was pretty sure she was with Mal and Zoe. So, that left…
He turned to face her, surprised that she didn't move her hand. Instead, she let it slide to his chest as he finished the pivot. She reached for his face and leaned in for a kiss.
Now, he'd kissed women before, though it wasn't his favorite pastime to do with one. It was too personal and a waste of time as far as he was concerned. The women he chose to spend his time felt much the same way. That wasn't what he paid them for and there were far more interesting things for them to do with their mouths.
Some might say he was inexperienced in this aspect of a relationship between a man and a woman. Inexperienced or not, he knew she had never done this before. Kissed a man. And it woke something in him that he wasn't quite sure he understood. Especially considering she'd had to have conscious thought to come here. Her bunk was clear on the other side of the ship. So, she'd come here for him.
Possession. Claiming. Humbled. Undeserving.
These were all feelings foreign to him as he cared for no one but himself. He'd felt it for her since she'd faced the Reavers. It was one thing to fight as enlisted men, like Mal and Zoe had done. It was another to go into battle because you wanted to. Everyone had their reasons for doing it, but that didn't make it any less spectacular.
God, he'd wanted her every which way since then. He remembered vividly the picture she'd made standing there, blood dripping from her weapons. She was coated in it, too. Jayne couldn't remember seeing anything more beautiful and - perhaps sickeningly - more arousing in his life. The coppery scent of blood and death had permeated the air but he'd found himself staring at her as if she'd been sent by God. An avenging angel there to save their skins. His skin.
That was when the dreams had started. They didn't always come when he was sleeping either. Sometimes he'd be kicking back, staring off into space and they'd come then, too. She'd come to him, wanting him to teach her things she knew only he could teach her.
He'd taken to avoiding her, even at chow time, ensuring he came late enough that most everyone was already done. Jayne Cobb didn't make a fool of himself over any woman. No matter how handy they were in battle.
This one was different, unlike any he'd ever laid eyes on. He'd never dreamed until this moment he'd actually get the opportunity to lay more than eyes on her. He'd taken out the shirt he'd worn the day she attacked him a time or two. He'd scooped it out of the trash without the Doc having seen him and washed it so now there was only the faint evidence of blood on it.
He liked to believe he kept it for a logical reason. He'd kept it, he thought, as a reminder of who she was, what she could do. It was one of the few times he'd been taken completely by surprise. He'd underestimated her, which was something he'd never done before. Even recalling that incident didn't lessen his want for her. He wouldn't call it a need, because Jayne didn't need anyone.
She could take him out while he was sleeping. There was excitement in that knowledge. Whores weren't trained assassins. Whores couldn't fake the innocence pouring into him from her virginal lips. Had he ever had a virgin? He couldn't even remember losing his own. It just didn't matter to him. It was another passage in the life that was his.
"Is it wrong?"
"Wrong?" He wasn't sure what she was asking. He wasn't dumb or anything, he just wasn't used to talking once things started heading in a certain direction.
"You didn't kiss me back."
"I, well," he stammered with a frown. How the hell was he supposed to explain THAT to her? "It was just unexpected is all."
"So, I did it right?"
He chuckled. He couldn't remember a woman he'd been with ever asking that. He remembered a time or two when he first discovered women and what he considered them good for that he'd been of the mind to ask that very question. He never had, though. Asking questions like that showed you were weak. Not that River was weak. Women were different after all. Then again, he didn't imagine Inara had ever had to ask that question.
"Yeah, you did it right."
"Then why are we still standing? Why don't you kiss me?"
"Still standing?" He glanced from her to his bed, his gaze straying to the rest of his bunk area before returning to her face. She looked so innocent, incredulous even. She really thought she'd kissed him wrong. Like there was a right and wrong way to kiss.
The not kissing her back part he could fix easily enough. The still standing part he'd have to think on. Her brother would cut out his heart with a spoon if he hurt her. And Jayne had no doubt not only could he accomplish that, but he'd know how to do it in the most painful way possible. Would he if River was the aggressor and not Jayne? They were a small crew, bunking up with another crewmember wasn't unheard of. So, he hoped not, especially since now that she was here he didn't want to get rid of her.
"Sweetheart, the way I'm feeling right now, if I start something I'm not going to be able to stop." Right now! Hell, he'd been getting hard around her for what seemed an eternity now. She walked into a room and that would set him off. What was worse is when he smelled her shampoo, or something she used, and that got him going without her even physically being nearby.
She blinked, nibbling on her lower lip and nodded her head ever so slightly. If he hadn't been watching her like a hawk in anticipation of her response he might have missed it. He had to admit, to himself never to Mal or anyone else, that since her display at the bar he'd wanted to feel her wrapping her legs around his waist. He might have wanted her, but that didn't mean he trusted her. Until the day not too long ago she saved their collective asses and lived to tell about it. Anyone who could stand up to an army of Reavers deserved his respect. He wasn't sure he could do it.
She came at him again, her arms went around his neck, giving him no choice this time but to return the kiss. His arms skimmed around her tiny waist. He'd held her protectively a time or two in the past, but this was different. He never realized how small she was.
He'd always gone for the more voluptuous type, women with meat on their bones. He hated feeling as if a woman would break in half if he got a little rough. Gentleness was not something he was familiar with. Couple that with the fact he was a big man to begin with. It made delicate women something he stayed away from.
This one, though, he mused as he encouraged her lips apart, stroking her lower lip with his tongue. He groaned into her mouth when he felt her tongue mimic what he was doing. He believed she'd be able to take it without breaking. She might just like it. Hell, there were days their bickering back and forth was foreplay to him.
He was surprised when she made the first move. Kissing him had been pretty big on it's own, but taking his hand and settling it against her breast was huge. She had just enough to fill his hand. Not too much, not too little. Perfect. For him. He wasn't sure why that didn't surprise him. She whimpered, arching into his touch and he broke the kiss.
"Are you in some kind of hurry?"
He looked at her then. Really took the time to see her. She was pretty. There were times he wanted to strap her down and force a comb through her hair, but even on its messiest days it couldn't detract from her beauty. Inara was pretty, too, but River's was natural. More real seeming somehow to Jayne. She didn't need fancy dresses, oils, or jewelry. She was just naturally a remarkable sight.
Holy Christ, he was thinking flowery, poetic stuff. Where in the hell was that coming from?
"Well, no, but I saw Simon."
"You saw Simon what?"
She bit her lower lip again. He wasn't a man that let his desires control him, he controlled them. But damned if he couldn't help but lean in and give her a kiss, grazing the spot she'd just bit with his tongue.
"That's what he did."
The fog was starting to clear. "You saw Simon and Kaylee?"
She nodded, saying nothing. Perhaps she thought he'd get upset or go tell them. Instead, he laughed.
"And it sent you coming here to me?"
She nodded again. She looked adorable just then.
Adorable? Where'd that word come from. She was really playing havoc on his normally masculine personality. He brought his hand to her face, cupping her cheek and leaned in for another kiss.
"You're welcome in my bunk any time. Just be sure you remember whose bed you're in when you wake up. I like all my parts where and how they are just fine."
Her eyes widened at that, he wasn't surprised. Until this very moment she probably thought he couldn't stand her. He'd thought that himself until recently and she, while not a girl didn't have the experiences he'd had.
"I'm not going to let you give me what you're offering like this. What Kaylee and your brother are doing. What you saw." He shrugged, draping an arm over her shoulder, gathering her to him so she'd know he wasn't mad or rejecting her. Hell, his blood was pumping furiously into parts that desperately wanted him to shut up and take action. She was willing. He wasn't so sure she was able, though. Not in the way he wanted her to be.
"It took them months to get to this point. You deserve more than a quick hump your first time."
She frowned at that.
"I'm not saying you have to leave. Or that we have to stop kissing. Nothing saying we can't perfect that before moving onto the next step. I don't know about you," well, that wasn't true but he was trying to be nice, "but kissing isn't my area of expertise so I could probably use some practice."
"And then later?"
"I'm going to shoot myself for saying this, but much much later. You may decide not to share my bunk, but we still live on the same ship."
"Like Kaylee and my brother."
"Yeah, like them."
She seemed to ponder this.
She clutched him tighter, resting her head against his chest. It was overwhelming. He'd never had someone come to him like this. Out of need, wanting him to be gentle, comforting, understanding. People just didn't come to him for those things. And, honestly, he preferred it that way. Made it easier for him to split when it came time to move on.
"I just feel."
"I know, River. Your brother told me they altered things somehow so you can't just turn your feelings off. I'm trying to do the honorable thing, so that whatever happens life on this ship isn't crazy. There's no sense rushing into anything, we've got nothing but time out here in the black after all. But I promise I'm not telling you to leave."
She didn't sound like his avenging angel just now. The strong, resilient killer he'd been witness to that day. She sounded like a haunted, tormented, frightened young woman. He was a lot of things, but taking her when she was this raw was even beyond his capacity for lowness.
"Not as long as you want to stay and your brother doesn't come after me with a knife in the middle of the night to slit my throat for bedding his sister."
She smiled at that, her eyes, big and wide, glimmered and she perked right up. Hell, maybe the crew would just be happy to see they were finally getting along.
"I'd protect you."
He chuckled at that.
"I just bet you would, Killer," he whispered. And he had no doubt she could either. Not wanting to let his thoughts divert to the sappy direction his mind seemed to want to wander to, he chose instead to kiss her again. Judging by her response, she didn't mind at all.