A/N: I'm a little rusty, so feedback is always appreciated. I definately wanted a more 3D Kaylee in this story rather then just 'happy happy strawberry eatin backwater mechanic'. So you are warned.
"The quality of
mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
She hadn't left the infirmary for three days when he started to watch her.
Simon had taken off after finding out what she'd done, whatever it was she had done and dragged River along with him, kicking and screaming. The girl had begged her brother to stay, but he hadn't spoken, stonewalling her.
None of them liked to see Kaylee hurting. Jayne wasn't really sure as to what had really happened between the two of them as no one would tell him. All he knew was that Kaylee was crushed and Simon was leaving.
Mal had been furious with Simon. The young doctor had screamed at his mechanic something fierce, driving her into a right state. Mal refused to talk about what Kaylee had done to Jayne, no matter how much he needled. Zoe hadn't said a damned thing when he asked her, just stared at him with dark eyes that told him to mind his own gorram buisness. Mal had told her what had happened between the Doc and little Kaylee.
Neither had Inara said anything to him when he'd asked. She had demurely told him that Kaylee was the only person who should be handing out such information and had acidly told Jayne that maybe he should remind Mal of that fact.
Twas mighty odd to see a fella like Simon mad. It reminded him of the skittish stray cats that his mother used to feed; that he and his younger sister would chuck stones at. They were mean and selfish, those cats. You had to be wary of them and Maddie had the scars to prove it after her ill-conceived attempt to befriend one.
When Simon had left, Inara had taken him aside. Jayne had seen the hard look on her face and sussed that she was the only one who knew Kaylee's whole story, or even understood. Then he thought of the look in Zoe's eyes and knew better.
He expected that the Companion would use her training or wiles or whatever to try and get Simon to stay with Kaylee. Stay with Kaylee. Jayne didn't like the sound those words made together. Not when they were applied to a man who thought that much shoutin would solve his problems.
Instead of talking, Inara simply spit in his face. She then turned haughtily away from him and strode out of the cargo hold. Simon glared after her and wiped his face. "Come on River. We're going now." The girl had been weeping uncontrollably for the last hour. She let out a sob as she took the hand he offered. They had left without looking back.
Kaylee wouldn't leave the infirmary. Jayne had taken to sitting on the couch just outside its door, sharpening his knives. He left his whetstone on the table there and came back whenever he needed to do that. He brought some tea with him from the kitchen. He poured Kaylee a cup and mixed in the milk and tiny bit of sugar she always liked. He walked into the infirmary, bold as brass and held it out to her.
She looked up at him, as if startled to see someone else in her space. She looked very pale and somehow thinner, missing her usual soft, glowing….Kaylee-ness. It was like she was a ghost almost.
She took the cup from him, very carefully as if she was afraid she would break it. She gave him a very small smile, like she was afraid someone might see it.
Jayne knew when it was time to leave. He sat back down on the couch, continuing to sharpen a knife that didn't really need it.
He took Boomer and Lux down to his new sitting place. He brought Kaylee some of the cookies his Ma had sent him. He couldn't remember her eating anything. She was shivering a little. She still wouldn't leave. Mal had come and yelled at her, Inara had come and spoke softly and sweetly. Even Zoe had come by and sat with her, the two of them speaking quietly and Kaylee crying a little.
Jayne didn't know what had happened between Kaylee and the prissy-fancy-shoe-wearing son of a bitch. Frankly he couldn't imagine what it had been that had made him so angry and her so sad.
He brought her a bowl of noodles and a blanket. She looked cold wearing only that pink shirt and torn coveralls. Hell she was only wearing a pair of sandals!
She gave him the same small smile, quickly and Jayne wondered for a moment if she'd smiled at all.
He slept on the couch that night, staying awake long enough to see her leave the infirmary to get more food.
She finally came out of the infirmary by the time Jayne had gotten Vera reassembled twice. He knows that he's procrastinating by now, waiting for Kaylee to leave the cold little room. He's not sure as to why. He's always thought that she was more then a little beddable but it makes him antsy when she's hurting. The sight of her in the infirmary, just sitting, looking like she wanted to die (a very un-Kaylee emotion) reminding him of the blank stare she'd thrown at him when the Doc had pulled a bullet out of her belly. And that made him more squeamish then he cared to admit even to himself.
She sat down next to him. "Jayne?" she almost whispered.
"Could you put your arm around me?"
He gave her a sidelong glance and complied. She sighed and leaned into his shoulder. They stayed that way for a few minutes before he finally asked what he'd been wondering for days, what no one else would tell him, even if he had asked.
"Kaylee, what did you do to make the doc so mad atcha?"
Kaylee shifted uncomfortably. "Jayne, can't ya just be nice to me for a little while longer? I just want a man to be nice to me for once, 'stead of questioning me and makin me feel ashamed with myself." He was quiet again.
"I don't gotta be all happy and bright all the time Jayne. I'm a person, not a drawing of one."
Jayne frowned at her. He wasn't sure what she meant about the drawing bit, but it was obvious that she wasn't too proud of hurting like this in front of him. They sat in silence for a while longer.
"You know lots of whores don't you?"
"Plenty of 'em."
"Do you know how they don't have lots of kids?"
Jayne frowned again. "You mean like when they toss the kid out of em?"
Kaylee looked down at her hands, now folded in her lap. "Exactly like that." Jayne didn't say anything. He wasn't the brightest damn star in the black but he knew what little Kaylee was saying. They were silent again.
"Why? Thought you were right tickled by him."
"Jayne," she sighed. She sounded exhausted. "I may have been tickled by him, but I didn't want to go off and marry him or nothin. I just wanted…I just wanted somebody to make me feel pretty. Someone to sex me. I just got wrapped up with him. He was so…different. But the things he'd say sometimes…I knew it couldn't be like some fairy tale. I'm a grown woman. I can decide for myself what I want. And what I don't want."
She squared her shoulders, as if preparing for Jayne to attack her. Instead he put his gloved hand on her belly.
"What'd it feel like?"
She swallowed and closed her eyes. "Terrible queer. Like everything was there and then it just wasn't anymore. Hurt too. Like being spaced a little bit at a time." Tears were welling in her eyes.
"Are you gonna tell me what I did was wrong?"
He thought for a moment, scowling up at his forehead, trying to suss out the right answer.
"Don't reckon you need to hear it from me. Probably heard it from Mal and Simon. Reckon you need a man on your side. And I'm the logical choice here."
Kaylee looked at him, a ghost of a smile on her face. "And why's that Jayne?"
"If you haven't figured that out by now, you ain't as clever as I thought you were."
Neither of them said anything. Kaylee smiled, for real this time, if only a little bit and leaned into him again. Jayne draped his arm around her again.
And they sat like that for a while, not saying anything.