Title: Cliffhanger
Characters: Mal and Jayne, Zoe and Kaylee briefly at the end
Pairing: None
Spoilers/Timeline: Brief mention of 'War Stories'

Disclaimer: Firefly does not belong to me. It belongs to Joss Whedon and associates. I merely splash in the pools of its brilliance.


"I swear on everythin' that is sacred, Jayne, if you let go of me and I die, I am going to kill you dead," Malcolm Reynolds hissed.

"How you gonna kill me if yer dead?" Jayne wondered, through gritted teeth.

"I will put myself in one of River's crazy hallucinations and get her to do it," Mal decided.

Jayne's eyes widened. "I ain't lettin' go, Mal."

"Good."

Mal looked down and wished he hadn't. The drop below the cliff he was dangling off of was mind-numbing. He reckoned that he wouldn't be alive for long once he hit the bottom of the canyon, but those few moments would be a hell he did not want to travel through. He lifted his eyes upwards, but the view wasn't any prettier. Just Jayne, red in the face with the effort of holding Mal in defiance of the forces of gravity.

If one of Jayne's arms wasn't broken, he probably could have lifted Mal up enough for Mal to get some footing. If the job had gone smoothly, Jayne's arm wouldn't have been broken. If Badger had given them the right coordinates, the job wouldn't have gone south. If Mal had been smart, he never would have let himself do a job for Badger. As it was, Mal wasn't, Badger didn't, the job hadn't, Jayne couldn't and Mal was dangling off a cliff in the middle of nowhere, quietly contemplating all this.

"How long 'fore Serenity's due to pick us up?" Jayne asked.

"'Bout an hour," Mal replied, evenly.

"I gotta hold you here for an hour?" Jayne complained.

"River's crazy hallucinations," Mal said, warningly.

"I know, I know. I ain't sayin' I ain't gonna hold you for an hour. Just verifyin' that's the time," Jayne said, quickly.

"That's the time."

"Made!"

"Yep."

Several minutes past. Mal swung, Jayne grunted, the sun beat down and the sand blew about. For a life or death situation, it was damn boring. More minutes past. Mal was starting to feel like his feet had cement weights on them and his arm was being stretched out by the second.

"Since we're here," Jayne said, breaking the long silence. "An' we ain't goin' nowhere, I 'bin meaning to talk to you 'bout my cut..."

Mal glared up at him. "Just what 'bout yer cut needs discussin'?"

"I think I should be gettin' a bigger one, s'all."

"We split even, ya know that."

"That's the thing, Mal. I'm thinkin' I do lot more for the jobs then the Doc does, but he gets the same as me."

"Have you ever reattached my ear, Jayne?"

"...well, no."

"Ever pulled a bullet outta somebody?"

"Yeah, act - "

"With proper medical equipment?"

Jayne frowned. "No."

"When Serenity gets here and pulls me up, think yer arm is gonna fix itself?"

"I could maybe..." Jayne trailed off at Mal's look. "Awrite, awrite. We need the doc. I was jus' sayin'..."

"If you think yer talents are bein' under'preciated, Jayne," Mal said. "Right now, I think yer damn special."

"Thanks, Mal."

"Yep."

More silence. Mal's arm was starting to go numb. He winced as he tried to get a better grip on Jayne's hand. They were both getting sweaty from the heat.

"Hear that?" Jayne said, suddenly. He twisted around a little onto his back. "Sounds like..."

"My boat!" Mal agreed.

Fifteen minutes later, the ramp to Serenity lowered and his crew came running out. Zoe's face peeked over to the cliff to look down at him.

"Y'okay, sir?" She asked.

"Wô hâo," Mal replied. "Just peachy."

Kaylee's face appeared beside Zoe's, eyes widened. "Wow, capt'n. What happened?"

"The usual," Mal answered. Kaylee nodded in understanding. "...Ya wanna help get me up?"

"Oh!" Kaylee nodded. She held out a hand. "Stay there, capt'n. I'll get some rope."

Kaylee disappeared and Zoe reached down to get Mal's other hand.

"I don't suppose we got paid, then, sir?" She asked.

"Oh, we did," Mal said. "Money's at the bottom of the canyon, if you got an urge to do some climbin'." He shifted his weight a little to ease off Jayne. "So, how was yer day?"

"Better then yours."

"Wouldn't be hard. Listen, next time I wanna take a job from Badger, just throw me off the cliff beforehand. Save me a lotta trouble."

"Will do, sir."