Title: Recalculated Percentage
Disclaimer: None of this is mine. I don't think I can even claim the plot on this one. All Hail Joss.
Jayne couldn't have said when the girl stopped being annoying and just became fun to watch.
Sure he'd thought on her when he first saw her, since she was all nekkid and everything. But braincracked weren't the sort of annoying that a man wanted to worry about in a girl.
Braincracked meant her maybe hurting him, which she'd done more than once.
Meant for sure that the rest of the crew'd get angry about him touching.
Meant for maybe that he'd get kicked off the boat for it.
In the early days, the percentage just didn't seem to warrant bothering to touch her.
But somewhere along the line all that faded into the background. Somehow 'fun to watch' had come to the front.
Weren't much harm in him watching. Folk even expected it of him. Leastwise while he weren't doing no touching.
Then the touching started.
He lifted her into the mule one day. Mistake.
Lucky for them all it weren't a dangerous job, because he was downright distracted.
They were headed for a garbage heap on a dustbowl moon. The job was to scrounge up working junk heap machine parts, so their geniuses could reassemble them into saleable goods.
Someone had tipped Mal off that several core worlds sent their trash out here to be 'recycled.' Well, Serenity's crew were counting on being able to 'recycle' themselves a profit out here.
But about the touching. That's how it started. He just lifted her up to the seat and felt like fire'd touched his hands.
Didn't help none that she looked at him with extra wide eyes from behind them owl goggles.
That was just the beginning too. She used his shoulder as a support to jump down again when they reached the junkyard. Fire licked his body again, centered on the little spot her hand touched.
Then she kept on touching. She grabbed his hand to pull him over to where Kaylee wanted him to lift something.
She jumped into his arms yelling "Catch me!" from the top of a junked aircar. Then she grinned up at him once she was there, feeling all tiny and sexable in his arms.
His mumbled, "Stop that, girl." Just brought on more giggling.
At that point he went to stand next to Zoë. He wanted a witness that he wasn't the one starting nothing 'inna'pro'prit.'
Zoë's attention was elsewhere when River snuck up beside him. He jumped.
She whispered real quiet-like. "But you did start it. I'm just not ending it."
Then she danced away, back to Kaylee and discussing the salvage possibilities of objects Jayne couldn't have told from turnips.
Jayne watched her go, admiring the bounciness of her body and the rich messy length of her hair.
Damn, she was trouble.
They made it back to Serenity with the trailer piled full up with things Kaylee swore would be useful.
Zoë made Jayne unload it all so they could go out for more in the morning.
When he was done he looked up to find the River-girl watching him. She was sitting up on the catwalk railing.
The dirty bare soles of her feet hung out into the open space above him. Hard to say when they'd had a chance to get so dark. She'd had her boots on outside.
She swung her legs back to the correct side of the railing, flashing him with more thigh skin than he should ever see on her. She scampered to the stairs and joined him on the floor of the cargo bay.
"I have more skin I could flash at you." She smiled up at him. "You've seen it before."
"Why're you pushin at me?" He groaned.
Her smile took on more mischief than ever. "You started it."
Jayne shook his head. "I need to go wash up." He left her there. It was almost hard to do.
He didn't let her sit next to him at dinner. She noticed. Kept giving him these amused looks.
Jayne ignored her all thru dinner. Didn't even watch 'er.
Even though she let the strap of her sundress fall off her shoulder.
He saw her do it.
He kept ignoring her even when she reached over him to collect his dishes after dinner was done. He didn't even let himself notice the little breast poking him in the back while she did it.
Or the half mocking smile she sent his way.
Or the way she watched him from behind her lashes all evening while the crew played cards.
Blasted little girl, playing with him. He left the room early.
After that the touching continued. There was nothing openly wrong about any of it.
How can you complain about a brushing of hands in the hallway? Who noticed or cared that their hands touched as they passed food at the dinner table?
How could you explain that the reason you minded was that every innocent touch stirred up yer nethers? Without getting spaced?
One time she ran headlong around a corner, nearly knocking him down. He even had to lay a steadying hand on her backside to keep her from falling over.
Then she had the nerve to try to use him as a shield in whatever game of tag she was playing with Kaylee.
And he let her.
Even helped a little, held Kaylee up just a tad.
Took him a couple of hours to suppress the memory of her pressed so close to him.
The perfect feel of her ass cupped in his hand…
After they left the junk heap moon, Kaylee and River spent hours sifting thru their finds.
They built two aircar engines, a trash compactor, a fine looking comm system and some other gadgets Jayne couldn't directly identify.
He wanted to wait till they were done to do his exercizing, but they were always there.
He couldn't break his routine for days on end. When he realized that, he broke down and resumed his normal workout, even though it seemed like River was always watching him.
Not long after that first touch, weeks maybe, they finally landed in a decent port with bars and whores and such.
Jayne didn't realize the girl he took upstairs looked like River until he started touching and she didn't feel like River. No spark, no fire.
Jayne apologized and paid the whore anyway. Wasn't her fault. He left the place wanting River all the more.
It was then that he first seriously considered making a move on her. At least until she looked up at him with those hopeful eyes.
Gorram mind reader.
That shocked the stupid out of him. He backed away and made his lonely way to his bunk.
He barred the hatch.
She was still there the next day and the next. Her being crew and all, weren't neither of them going anywhere.
Finally he snapped. Could almost see it coming, but didn't see a way around it.
He caught her alone in a quiet corner.
"I'm fed up with teasing and avoiding." He snarled in a low quiet way.
He didn't touch her and he gave her an escape route with plenty of room to run away if she wanted to.
"Either we're sexing or you're leaving me the hell alone."
Jayne kinda figured that would be the end of it. She'd see he was serious and leave him be. That was… for the best.
River reached for the fist he'd balled up at his side. She opened his hand one finger at a time.
Jayne felt his tension fall away as she did it. She splayed her fingers out, matching their palms together. Hers was easily half the size of his.
Jayne stared at their hands, not quite noticing how she stepped closer until she fit her waist into his palm. That he noticed.
He looked into her face, seeking…
River wasn't smiling, wasn't teasing. She was looking back at him with passion in her eyes.
She licked her lips and moved his thumb so it rubbed over her nipple.
"Ain't no going back from here." He warned.
River rolled her eyes and caught up his other hand. "Glaciers creep with greater speed than you, Jayne Cobb."
Best gorram sex he ever had.
They met over and over in out of the way corners.
It was a month before he realized it wasn't enough. It was another before he realized what was missing.
When he finally got it, he acted on his new knowledge right away.
They were all gathered around the table for a crew dinner after a good job. They got paid near double what the goods were really worth. That was always a good thing.
Simon and Kaylee were cooing at each other with enough sugar to make anyone sick.
Mal and Inara were sparring with words like they still did even after they went all groinal.
Zoë was all calm and peaceful, as usual. From time to time she said something Wash mighta said. Just out of the blue. Like maybe she was always thinking on him and he sometimes just slid out.
Through all of that, he and River were mostly quiet. They weren't even touching, even though they were sitting side by side. They weren't even looking at each other much.
Then it suddenly started bothering him that nobody had noticed them off in all those quiet corners. They'd been going at it like rabbits for two months straight.
River was looking at him when he turned towards her.
He moved real slow, careful to let her have room to pull away if she didn't want them to go public.
He lifted her chin on one finger, staring down into her eyes.
River licked her lips, nervous-like, but she didn't pull away. Good signs.
Jayne lowered his head and kissed her lips for the first time ever. Briefly, gently.
"Marry me?" He asked, loud enough for the whole table to hear.
River giggled, but it wasn't a 'no' sort of giggle.
She climbed right into his lap and kissed him in front of everyone. Felt gorram wonderful.
Jayne savored the sensations, ignoring the over the top reactions of the rest of the crew.
"You gonna answer my question, little girl?" Jayne asked when they finally came up for air. "Might take me a while to ask it again."
River giggled some more.
"Yes, to the question." She said between the laughing and the kissing his face.
She laughed harder when he growled "Good." and leaned back in to claim her mouth again.
When Jayne let himself focus on the rest of the crew… Mal was shouting. Simon looked like he mighta fainted. Kaylee was comforting him. Inara was pleading with Mal. And Zoë… had her pistol aimed right at the captain.
"Sounds like we have ourselves a wedding to plan." Zoë drawled.